Writing and photography competition winning entries

We are pleased to announce the winners of our writing competition held throughout the exhibition:

Adult category
Winner – 
Anita Arlov ‘The Mihi of the Tarapuka’
Runner up – Jade Kuhtze ‘Crown of the Guardians’

Youth category winners
Ages 14-17 – Anthony Gayner ‘Hand in the Dirt’
Ages 10-13 – Zoe Williams ‘Birds of a Feather’
Under 9’s – 
Amelia Kirk ‘S-Like Paradife’


Adult winner
Anita Arlov
‘The Mihi of the Tarapuka’
Inspired by Gina Ferguson’s ‘If Ever I Should Walk on Water’

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa
my iwi is tarāpuka: the black-billed gull
my name is tarāpuka: the black-billed gull
my maunga  is Ka Tiritiri-o-te-Moana
my awa is Rakaia
my whanau arrived from the great western land
250,000 years ago
Aotearoa is my home
I cannot walk on water, SOS

I am female; spring has come late
I lay my eggs on a raised island
on the braided waters of my river
the way my kind has always done
I cannot walk on water, SOS

my breeding motu once stood proud
my river rushed by, cool and clear
the night-time sound was the river rolling
the daytime sound was my chicks calling
my chicks hatched, every one
I cannot walk on water, SOS

Now, kikuyu carpets the shallow reaches –
soft passage for cat, stoat, rat, hedgehog –
the night-time sound is screech and squeak
the daytime sound is machinery hum
may my chicks hatch, every one
I cannot walk on water, SOS

Gina Ferguson’s ‘If Ever I Should Walk on Water’


Adult runner up
Jade Kuhtze
‘Crown of the Guardians’
Inspired by Chris Moore’s ‘Entwined’

On a foggy autumn morning, Rawiri and his Nan arrived at the gardens. Rawiri was so excited he ran off into the wide-open space, leaving Nan behind. She hobbled along, clutching a flask of hot cocoa in her knarled, wrinkly hands. 

Rawiri snatched up a stick to wield as a sword, slashing the air and running forth. Yellow and orange leaves drifted gracefully to the ground before him, twirling and falling from the swaying trees above. Rawiri laughed, spreading his arms out like feathered wings, he pretended to swoop and dive, looping around, soaring all the way back to Nan.

 She had sunk onto a wooden bench, her white hair a beacon in the bleak morning. The creases which lined Nan’s face shifting, crinkling as she smiled broadly. Watching her mokopuna, with all his energy, reminded her of a marble in a pinball machine, pinging here, there and everywhere at lightning speed. She loved to see him race about, his strong legs pumping effortlessly. She remembered what it had felt like to run.  Nan’s eyelids fluttered shut as she breathed in the earthy scent of the morning air. The peaceful quiet was cut short by a sharp cry. Rawiri was now a blurred spec in the distance. 

“Nan! Nan!” the boys excited cries carried on the gentle breeze. Nan hauled herself slowly off of the bench, wobbling at the knees. 

“Easy does it, old girl” she whispered. She slowly shuffled forth, making her way across the jade-green grass at a snail’s pace. Fresh morning dew wet her canvas shoes, dampening her toes.

Rawiri stood agog, looking up at an intricate archway which rose high above him. The fog was lifting and the sun’s rays were beginning to shine through the structure which had captured his attention. Rawiri was in awe of the way the three large trunks entwined and seamlessly knit together. Its large turquoise tinted leaves tilting in differing directions. As Rawiri had run towards this towering treasure he had thought that it looked like a crown rising out of the depths of the earth. It took some time for Nan to join him. She was old and frail, he knew that he should head back to help her across the grounds, but he was stuck to the spot. His imagination running wild, tales winding in his head like a spinning top.

“What it is?” Rawiri asked expectantly, when Nan finally stood beside him.

She clutched onto Rawiri, leaning on his shoulder for support. Had he grown or had she shrunk? The top of his head, with his jet-black hair, reached to her chin. 

She gazed silently at the beautiful arch for a moment before answering “It’s a sculpture, love”.

Rawiri held Nan tightly. He was only nine-years-old but he could sense a change in her. Mum had said ‘She’s getting old, we must look after her son’. Rawiri thought of the countless times that Nan had told him legends and tall tales. He especially loved to hear her stories when she tucked him in at night. She hadn’t been able to do that for a while. Nan was always too tired.  ‘Maybe I could try to tell her a story of my own’ he thought to himself.

“Shall we have that hot chocolate now?” Rawiri asked as he slowly guided her back to the wooden bench. “That’ll warm us up, aye”.

As they finally sat contentedly with their steaming cups, looking at the masterpiece from afar, Rawiri said thoughtfully “I know what it is Nan”

“Yeah? Go on then, what is it?” Nan replied, taking a sip.

“Long ago” he said reverently “in ancient times, the spirits of the trees would come out at night to dance, sing and celebrate. All of the spirits were happy and everything was peaceful. They would sleep and rest inside their homes, in the trees, during the day. The sun and the rain would help the trees to grow and the spirits grew too. But one day a man came along and started to cut down the trees, using the wood to make a house for his family. When a tree was chopped down the spirit would have nowhere to go because it grew with the tree, from a seed.”

Rawiri stopped to think. Nan turned to him and waited.

“More and more trees were killed by the men, for wood. So, the spirits who had lost their trees, left the forests to find new homes. For many years, men kept coming and it was a very sad time for the spirits, as thousands of their friends left in search of a new place to live. The spirits stopped coming out at night, because they were too sad.”

Rawiri and Nan looked around at the space stretching before them. Silently they gazed at the surrounding trees, catching glimpses of the clouds through their long limbs and twisting branches.

“And then what happened?” Nan asked quietly.

“Hmm, let’s see” Rawiri pondered, his brow furrowing as he rubbed his chin in concentration. “Eventually the men stopped coming and over time the remaining spirits slowly started to come out at night again. They became the guardians of forests. They caused the roots of their trees to tangle together above the earth, creating the Crown of the Guardians. 

Now, the spirits only come out on the night of a full moon. They meet under the Crown of the Guardians, to remember their friends, the spirits who were lost”. 

Rawiri, consumed in telling his tale, stared off into the distance. He turned to his Nan, who looked at Rawiri with a gleam in her eye.

 “That was a sad yet wonderful story, my moko, tell me another one”. 

The dark hair of youth and the white hair of wisdom mingled together as the two sat closely, sharing their stories.

Chris Moore’s ‘Entwined’


Youth 14 – 17 winner
Anthony Gayner
‘Hand in the Dirt’
Inspired by James Wright’s ‘Hand in the Dirt’

In the palm of life
A single seed lays
Sprouting in tandem
Life will find a way

It has been many years
But life has taken root
Protected by five walls
Granted by other fruit

A long time has passed since then
The rays of warm light since shone
Although it is very small
Its heart is made of greenstone

A seed by any other nameWould surely remain just as sweet
Much like the day it had first grown
The hand’s task will soon be complete

The fingers intertwined in the vines
Are surely not as green as the thumb
Which has planted many seeds before
And large trees, the seeds shall soon become 

It takes just one person to change the world
Beholding beauty in all walks of life
The singing of birds heralding small sprouts
Far beyond feelings like war, fear, and strife

Although it may seem helpless at first glance
As the time passes, despite the blood drawn
Although the world seems cruel, painful, awful
The darkest hour is before the dawn

Inherited by those in the past
Carrying on to the near future
It is our task as human beings
To value both our life and culture

A seed will sprout with love and care
With enough time, seeds become trees
Roots digging like joyful tidings
Leaves rippling like the mighty seas

A lone red flower blooms
Reflecting in moonlight
Signifying the start
Of new life in the night

In the palm of life
A single seed lays
Sprouting in tandem
Life will find a way

James Wright’s ‘Hand in the Dirt’


Youth 10 – 13 winner
Zoe Williams
Birds of a Feather

It was early dawn in the Auckland Gardens. A strange sort of photosynthesis was taking place. The crowd of metal birds, one of the sculptures on display, was soaking up the sun’s heat. The metal looked as though it was melting, but still keeping its shape. There was a flurry of wings and the now very-much-alive birds were flying across the Gardens.

Open sky, bush, trees, lakes and rivers: the perfect soon-to-be habitats. Some landed in the lake, and morphed their silver shapes into ducks, quacking. Some perched in trees and became blackbirds and tui, flowing into their new forms. A large flock of them became the seagulls that always hang around the cafe, hoping for snacks. Others flew into the dense bush, and shrunk into the smaller birds, the fantails and sparrows, twittering. The remaining few went up into the sky, and became the equivalent of sharks, the harriers.

If you’re good at looking, you might, you just might spot a flash of that telltale silvery feather as the sunlight catches a bird hopping on the grass, or circling high in the sky, perhaps zipping through the trees. You just have to look.


Youth under 9 winner
Amelia Kirk
‘S-like Paradife’
Inspired by Kristin O’Sullivan Peren’s ‘S-like Paradife’

Kristin O’Sullivan Peren’s ‘S-like Paradife’