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as the bell rings, speakers korero, your flight north – a te rakatira – & the landmarks you pass, as you leave Moeraki; at the kaik, you would be pleased, to see the lines of shags, still passing the horizon, & the sea sweeping
the coloured pebbles, up & down the beach, below the huts
Sculpture 1
Sculpture 2
Sculpture 3

Whenua Tiki Series - Ross Hemera
Books
Spoonbill 101 | Conversation with a Moahunter | Rivers without Eels | Dangerous Landscapes |
Unfinished Crossword | Technology of the Maori | The Albatross Bones

  Spoonbill101
"this kotuku’s beak
was hammered flat-
ended up with
a small burnt pancake
on a stalk – a scoop
for sweeping up his lunch"


The bird of the title Spoonbill 101 likes to use its spoon-shaped bill to sweep the bed of a river for juicy morsels. This poetry book is a feast for all readers. The 60 poems cover a range of issues and subjects – mostly about New Zealand life. Strands of history, sport, and family life interact with All Black rugby, Janet Frame, and Colin McCahon. There are contemplative poems about the World Wars, the Pike River Mine disaster, the Christchurch earthquake – and humorous lines about fluffy dice, long johns, and whitebait fritter posters. It is a handcrafted book with a beautiful wrap-round drawing (by the artist Dawn Shearsby-James) showing a typical coastal scene with macrocarpas, flax bushes, and mountain scenery. It is available from Puriri Press.

Authors Note
Spoonbill 101 demonstrates the successful collaboration of writer, publisher, and illustrator in producing a high quality book. This was particularly satisfying for me - as the illustrator, Dawn Shearsby-James, is a local artist who lives at Waikuku Beach in North Canterbury – the location of the spoonbills in the title of the book. The publisher, John Denny, is a highly respected New Zealand printer whose handcrafted books have been a notable feature of the publishing scene for many years in our country.

"When I was six years old
& running around the backyard
of our brick house in King Street,
a train steamed across the old airport
between us and the sea
carrying Janet Frame the poet
half a mile away;
I know because today I read it..."


 
Spoonbill 101
ISBN 978-0-908943-42-5
Puriri Press, Auckland
2014
RRP $25.00

Where to buy this book
  Conversation with a Moahunter
"I dozed. The thunder of tyres
gave way to the thunder of feet,
& beside me a moahunter
fresh from the hunt, panting.

How did it go? I asked.
Just one, he said.
Just one."


Conversation with a Moahunter was published in 2005 by Steele Roberts Ltd, Wellington and launched by Roger Steele at the Madras Street Café and Bookshop in Christchurch. Subjects in the book vary from an imaginary conversation with a moahunter, a chance to run with our Olympic champion Peter Snell, a tribute to the late yachtsman Peter Blake, and instructions on how to polish the greenstone boulder at Te Papa, our National Museum in Wellington. Captain Cook, the Otago goldfields, the Dutch artist Petrus van der Velden, Bob Dylan, and Captain Robert Falcon Scott of the Antarctic are all part of a rich tapestry of poetry about places, people and incidents set against a New Zealand landscape.

Authors Note
To see how the publishers designed this book – with Ross Hemera's Maori rock drawing sculptures on the cover, and moa skeletons to separate the four sections – was extremely pleasing to me. In many ways the book is a work of art in its own right and reflects my own interest in New Zealand art.

View the reading - Conversation with a Moahunter
View the reading - Hard Graft

 
Conversation with a
Moahunter
ISBN 1-87733-858-3
Steele Roberts Ltd
2005
RRP $19.99

Where to buy this book
  Rivers with Eels
"... in the rivers the winter is biting,
fellow eels are dreaming in the mud.

With the set net cut,
The river flows free,
An elder will sleep easier tonight."


This is Huia Publisher's first collection of poetry. The collection begins in a wide and flat land bordered by mountains and the sea. The poems are of the land and its living inhabitants; they also explore the enduring historical strata – the middens – that our transient present is built upon.

"... greenstone lying on the beds of streams
bones deep in the sandhills ..."


Authors Note
The presence – or otherwise – of eels and frogs, are an indicator of the health of our freshwater rivers and creeks. The title becomes both a warning and a call of hope for the welfare of our rivers and animals. I am also interested in archaeology – so I was pleased to see poems such as "Midden", "The Cage", "The Ethnologist" and "Excavation" included in the book. I enjoyed writing "Astronomer's Point Delight" as I found the idea for the title from a recipe in the New Zealand Woman's Weekly Cookbook!

 
Rivers Without Eels
ISBN 1-877266-83-3
Huia Publishers
2001
RRP $ 20.13

Where to buy this book
  Unfinished Crossword
"Nick Young bolted on his perch
grips the crow squawking:
the good ship bristles eyes
and new found endeavour,
& the Dutchman's land is given
one night's grace off the head ... "


This is the first collection of poetry from an upcoming poet. Most of the poems were written at Woodend Beach, North Canterbury, and on the West Coast of the South Island. The poems celebrate New Zealand history, and while they are about loss and the ghosts of the past, they offer hope for the future – a chance to fill the gaps, to strike gold, and send the roots well home.

"it took a mercenary eye to frame the huia
in the circle
of the running knot,
a lean hand
to calibrate the sights
of the hunting gun."


Authors Note
In an old issue of the Maori magazine "Te Ao Hou" – in which I had my first poems published – I found a crossword that had been left uncompleted by my late grandmother Hinekerangi. I could imagine her completing the crossword in front of the fireplace in the lounge, her glasses perched on her nose and a dictionary on the armrest of the chair. The illustration on the cover of the book is the artist's impression of the unfinished crossword.

 
Unfinished Crossword
ISBN 0-908790-19-8
Hazard Press Limited
1990
Cover Design:
Adrienne Rewi
Out of Print

  Dangerous Landscapes
Dangerous Landscapes, an anthology of sixty poems by New Zealand poets, is a collection which will be enjoyed by all secondary school students. Illustrated in both colour and black and white, the book has been organised into six broad subject categories: Looking Back, The Land, Environment, Myself, Other People, and Miscellaneous.

Each poem has been chosen for its immediate appeal and also because it tells something about ourselves and our country.

Authors Note
As a poetry reviewer for the Press I was fortunate to be able to read many of the latest books by emerging and established poets. In the book I set out to encourage readers to interpret poems themselves rather than be bound by some arbitrary definition about what poetry should or should not be. A good poem is a pleasure to read – and its language, ideas, mood, and structure somehow interact to produce a satisfying whole. The late Peter Hooper stated his ideas quite simply in a poem, saying : "Poetry/isn’t in my words/it’s in the direction/I’m pointing ..."

 
Dangerous Landscapes
An Anthology of
New Zealand Poetry
ISBN 0 582 861144
Longman Paul
1994
Cover photo:
Jack Sprosen
Out of Print

  Technology of the Maori
This best-selling book covers the essential aspects of daily living as well as fascinating topics from ancient sandals and prehistoric backpacks, to tattooing. It is written in an easy-to-understand style that will appeal to a wide age range. Each two page set of information, questions and language work, followed by further analysis, research and technology challenges, can be a stand alone activity. The topics can be done in any order, used as single lessons, or as part of a wider study on the life of the Maori, or as part of a general technology unit.

Authors Note
This book resulted from a need by teachers for a resource book in Maori – one which gave a summary of aspects of daily living by the first inhabitants of New Zealand, and one which could be easily understood by both teachers and students. The book is well-illustrated and designed, and there is an excellent bibliography of useful resources which will provide a wealth of information for any further research on topics.

 
Technology of the Maori
From Moa Hunter to
Pre-European Settlement.
ISBN 1-877287-32-6
Curriculum Concepts Ltd
2004
RRP $35.00

Where to buy this book
  The Albatross Bones
Listen to the short story - The Albatross Bones 9.57mb

Authors Note
When my family lived at Woodend Beach in North Canterbury we often walked along the beach looking for anything that had been swept up onto the shore. One morning we found the remains of a young Royal Albatross that had been caught in a storm overnight. The find became the basis of a short story which was read by Jim Moriarty and produced by Prue Langbein in the Wellington studios of Radio New Zealand.