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Artefacts and Taonga 2023 # 2

We have been delighted to connect once again with the Christchurch Heritage Festival for a series of masterclasses with young writers ages 11-17.

In 2023 we collaborated with the team at the Christchurch Archaeology Project, using artefacts found after the earthquakes beneath the now Te Pae site.

Our young writers responded to the idea of artefacts/ taonga in different ways.

We made list poems about our own possessions from childhood, wrote odes to the artefacts, created a persona story or poem for one of the artefacts and finished by reflecting on the taonga we treasure or regret having lost.

Here are some offerings from the Thursday class.

My Ode to Vine Leaf Candleholder

Kaylee, Year 8

You are the light that guides in the dark,

a sense of comfort in overwhelming cold,

shining like the sun, twinkling like a star,

and guiding like the moon,

you are the light that helps through the cold.

A shield to the monsters that lurk in shadows,

a sword that fought the darkness, the cold,

and the fire that blazed through the coldest nights.

A spot of white imperfect,

a shiny green glow,

perfect little markings,

etched by the hands who loved you.

I wonder how you held on to your gleam, your shine,

your beauty, I wonder about who you were before.

I wonder how you felt,

buried in the darkness without your flame.

You are not perfect,

yet more than enough for me,

shining through the rubble in which you were buried,

forever marked in our memories,

like the pencil mark ranking, 2/6.

This bear

Kaylee, Year 8

This bear is small, about 15cm tall, and knitted with white yarn. It has a light purple jacket with a butterfly charm on it. It has large brown bead eyes that give it an aura of innocence, with a cute little face put on with brown yarn. It has soft stuffing and is as light as a cloud.

I made him in a knitting club at school, and he is the first thing I ever knitted. He took about 4 weeks, and the jacket took about 4 days. He will be how I'll remember Year 8 a few years down the road.

Memories are important.


Hayley, Year 9

Dear Mrs Charlotte,

I want to start this letter by saying how sorry I am. I know how much this pot of cream that your grandmother gave you means to you. I have already sent my letter of resignation, but I just wanted to tell you how truly sorry I am and the story of how your Cold Cream broke.

I was cleaning your bathroom, making sure everything was spotless before you came back from your business trip to Rome. I was putting everything back into your cupboard when I came across your little pot of Cold Cream. I was carefully carrying it, but I saw my reflection in the mirror. I had a massive pimple on my chin but I didn’t have the money to treat it. As a maid, I have never been fortunate enough to have the luxury of curing my skin. I thought that if I took a tiny bit of your magic cream, I could treat my skin and you would never notice. I didn’t want to be dishonest to you but I just couldn’t stand to have another person laugh at me. So, I took some of the Cold Cream and as I was applying it someone downstairs shouted for me! I jumped up in fright and the pot leaped out of my hand.

I saw it crash to the ground and explode into tiny pieces with the pearly white concoction oozing out of it. I was so horrified at what I had done. I am so disappointed in myself and so sorry. I know I shouldn’t make excuses but I felt so sad every time anyone pointed out my pores and I just had to do something about it.

I hope that one day you will be able to understand how sorry I am.

Yours sincerely,


My Diary

Rhona, Year 9

My big black and pink diary. It’s a rather childish cover filled with words like ‘Girl power’ and lightning symbols. It was one of the ones you could zip up on the edges, making it feel like a good secret keeper. It stood out under light, neon green and pink.

I would sit in my bed at night and spill all my secrets to it. Who I liked, who I found annoying. Every night it seemed to ask for more, enticing me to write down things no one will ever know of. It began to know me better than myself.

One day, while moving houses, I looked at it one last time and stuffed it into a box labelled Rubbish! I watched my mother carry it to the car, asking me one last time, “Are you sure?”

I nod. She drives off.

Now I wish it was in my room again, so I could read all about this girl she calls ’younger me.’

Ode to an Ink Bottle

Lucy , Year 8

You lie broken


pieces missing


turned to dust.


you hold yourself


head high.

Stamped upon your person,

a reminder from whence you came

your house in London

your fathers

were learned men.

You are

bespeckled with grey

and rimmed with sunset,

an upturned collar

at your throat.

Your coat still fresh,



Inside, you are adorned

with swirls

from the violet-black ink

you once held.

Though empty

you spill

secrets, still.

Dripping from your throat

like ink

or blood


in water.

I wonder,


what will you tell?

Your perfected glaze

is uneven,


Who once held you?

Filled your cavity with ink?

Did they write secrets?

Or lies?

What was it that broke you, pushed you to the brink?

And who then left

leaving you to wonder

as I do

What happened

to you?

Ode to Ink Pot

Annabelle, Year 7

You come from London, in Charles Hoskin’s hands

You used to hold ink, but now your insides are bare

From the 1850s, that’s a while back!

You were in someone’s house, fulfilling your purpose

Although you could hold ink, you’re really a mystery

You could have had medicine or maybe even chemicals

Saving people’s lives, and being a doctor

Making people’s photos come true, showing what was black

But I still wonder, why you haven’t been damaged.

Through the big and small earthquakes, you sat there on the shelf

Waiting to be bought, on Duke Street

Sitting there until Charles Hoskins came and took you to his home.

Treasuring an inkpot

Annabelle, YEAR 7

“This ink pot was a great help to my greatest novel masterpiece! It belongs in a museum!” said Mr. Hockin.

“An ink pot in a museum? Preposterous!” exclaimed the lady.

“Someday it will be displayed in a museum, mother!” he replied.

“Museum, fiddlesticks! Do something useful with your life and be a shopkeeper!”

Ink Pot at Sea

Annabelle, Year 7

I’d been sitting on a shelf for a while.

Then there was a lot of chattering and clunking, and two men burst into the cramped room. They put me in a little box, no, they stuffed me in a little box, even though I was fragile. Now there was a small chip in my cap, which clearly wasn’t good seeing as I’ll be bouncing around. So, there I was, my insides being poured out, in the middle of a box, meanwhile, someone was wondering when their exotic ink would arrive.

They took me out of the soaked cardboard and put me in a bigger metal container, not noticing that I was empty and bare. I felt wavy and sick. I didn’t know what kind of road this was or who built it but it’s wavy, blue, and very poorly made.

All of a sudden we hit something! I felt myself sliding and bumping.

And now salty liquid is starting to pour in. The next thing I know, the seal of the box has worn away and I am floating.

No, sinking!

I feel powder on my underside.

For once I feel relaxed. I look at how beautiful this strange, relaxing road is, with floating, swaying, green stuff, peach powder and glistening liquid.

I like this road now. It is paradise.

Ode to a scared bowl

Breeze, Year 8

Those hands that crafted you have long since turned to dust

Those patterns you carry no longer frequent crockery cupboards

And you never held food or were served on a table in a grand house

And yet

Your story is still one to tell

What was it like being





buried under layers of dirt and gravel?

the world moving on above you?

Did you realise?

Did you know?

When you saw the sun once more, did your porcelain heart leap with joy?

Did you wait nervously while foreign hands reassembled you with expert confidence?

Do you sometimes miss that dark earth you were pulled from?

Are you scared?


Breeze, year 8

I was the leader of many expeditions when I was small(er). The majority of these proved unfruitful (although they were a great deal of fun and distracted me for at least an hour) save for one.

‘Twas a summer day in 2017.

My location: Woodend campsite.

My mission: Discover something awesome.

So, after packing our backpacks with all manner of equipment, my trustworthy companion (a.k.a my best friend) Milly and I set off into the deep dark woods. Dangerous obstacles were flung at us from all angles! We crossed a roaring river, intent on sweeping us away (also known as a meandering stream that, at best, would’ve just managed to sweep away a very small mouse). We scaled a towering cliff! (better known as a small hill) and finally fought off a hunter and his wolf! (some people might recognise them as a person going for a jog with their labrador). Until we finally stumbled upon a treasure worthy of our expedition.

A teensy, tinsey bird's nest. Carefully crafted by expert beaks, it stayed strong even after the fall from its resident tree. Lined with downy feathers, the nest would’ve made a perfect nursery. I still have that bird's nest, it sits quite cheerfully on my shelf. A reminder of one of the best expeditions that ever took place.

Ode to a Writing Slate

Claire, Year 9

An imperfect slate

The dark murky surface

Covered in marks and bruises

Rough edges scrape my thumb

Flawless squares fill the shell

like a tough child keeping secrets

How could they tell anyone

The burden on their shoulders

They were tainted

forever grey.

Numbers, letters and symbols

Twenty-two, twenty-nine

Scraping the thin surface

What do they mean?

What secrets are they keeping?

They confined to you

Their secrets, their plans

Their thoughts and their brain

Their mysterious memories

That poisoned the slate

forever grey.


Claire, year 9

I’ve discarded lots and lots of failed attempts at diaries. Some have a bright green watermelon as a cover with neon pink stars and sparkles surrounding it. Some have motivational phrases like, ‘You can do it!’ or ‘New Year, New Me’. But, there was one that has survived the difficult journey.

A marble of sage green and pristine white overtook the cover, the swirls making patterns and shapes. The notebook itself was quite thin, the pieces of paper had clean black lines to help with my nine-year-old self’s messy writing. The cover felt slick and slippery, my hands taking it everywhere I go. In Auckland, Singapore, Saipan and my beloved homeland, Korea. The first few pages, like every little girl’s dream, were kept in the most immaculate condition. Perfect handwriting with pictures and stickers on the sides, my best attempt at calligraphy as I wrote the words, dear diary.

Now, as time goes on and I go through the pages of the diary, my handwriting gets messier and scrawler, the amount of stickers decreases, pictures are stick figures, and my once beautiful diary becomes a scrawly train of thoughts.

It’s travelled with me through thick and thin, ups and downs, a journey of a lifetime if you will. It becomes a place for my secrets, thoughts, memories and moments with friends and family and a memento which I hope to keep throughout my life.

An Ode to Spot’s Collar

Stephanie, Year 8

My Dog had a collar, he wore you with pride.

Your leather round his neck is now teary-eyed.

My dog had a collar, with the year written on metal,

Your adventures through bushes, the stinging nettles.

My dog travelled many journeys, wagging his tail,

You joined in his adventures through mysterious trails,

Dearest dog collar, what are you now?

Whose adventures do you wander? Where are those bow-wows?

Tattered you lay, carelessly disregarded,

The house you once lived in, is now unguarded.

I had a dog once, a long time ago,

He was mine, we competed in many a dog show.

But his entirety was not just owned by me,

In a way, in a sense, he was yours,

as well as the fleas.

Goodbye Spot, I’ll see you again someday,

Ode to a Dog Collar

Iris, year 8

Your label, oxidised to green

Your leather, burnt-looking and crisp

Notches in the sides and edges

Rusted bolts and tiny stitches.

How are you staying together?

Who did you you belong to?

I am curious about what you say.

You are surprisingly heavy.

You must have many memories of the dog who once carried you around their neck

and of the human who held the leash.

What did you see, what did you do?

Where have you been, and where will you go?

A Dog's day out

Iris, Year 8

Excitement bubbles up in my chest, I get to go in the carriage! Jumping into the back seat, I wonder where we might be going, but not for long because the car starts moving and we’re off and away! Hundreds of smells bombard me as Emily opens the window beside me. Ohhh! We drive past the butcher’s shop and the smell of raw sausages, beef, and bacon gets my mouth watering.

“Can we stop there on the way back??” I ask Emily, desperate to get some of the delicious meat in my mouth.

“Shush Max, you know you can’t bark in the car!” is the reply.

That’s alright, I think, It was worth a try.

The carriage finally stops in front of a small shop on the corner of two busy streets.

Ooo! We’re here! We’re here!

Emily gets out of the carriage and opens the door for me to jump out. Going into the store, I’m surprised to find other dogs and their owners there too, sitting on chairs lining the walls.

This isn’t the vets, so where are we?’

Emily sits on a chair beside a man with a Border Collie, and I sit on the ground at her feet. I look around, desperately searching for something or someone to play with. Excruciatingly bored is how I feel right now. Suddenly, a tall man with an apron on approaches, and hands something to Emily. What is it??

“Here Maxy” She reaches down and takes my collar off, replacing it with a new leather one!

The leather feels soft yet strong around my neck, and I can feel steel, right at the front against my throat, cold but soothing. I love my new collar, and can’t wait to show it off to all my friends. I lick Emily’s knee in appreciation.


Iris, Year 8

When I was really little, about one or two, my sister and I had little blankets with animal heads on the top. Mine was a little yellow duck, and my sister’s was a dog with dark brown spots on it. One day I lost mine, so I stole my sister’s one. She had named it Patches, but I renamed it to Lovey for some unknown reason. I have had him ever since. Lovey is a soft beige blanket with a dog head attached to one corner. It has some spots on it and little bumps in the middle. He has a little hole in the fabric because one time my mum and sister were cutting paper, and I thought that since Lovey was flat like paper I could cut him. It didn’t end so well. He also has a tag (or what is left of one) on one side. I used to really like the feel of how smooth the tag was, so I would put it between my thumb and index finger and rub it. A hole then appeared in the middle of the tag, and all the writing was rubbed off. Lovey has been through a lot with younger me and has always comforted me when I was sick or sad.


Stephanie, Year 8

The Smiths,


Rod Stewart and more

The Best of the Beatles was obviously George

Happy Days,

Top Gear,

Welcome Back Kotter,

TV series that are better than Harry Potter



And Volkswagens,

Cars that could take off like a dragon.



Enid Blyton.

James Herriot’s books make my smile brighten.



Cust and Thailand,

All it’s missing Are my friends in the cover band.

My being,

My soul,

My personality.

These are the things that make me me.

Rover 75

Stephanie, Year 8

To some, a car might just be a means of transportation, but to me, cars mean so much more. My house would not be home, if it weren’t for a wrecked car mid-restoration, slowly coming to life in front of my eyes. One such car was our ‘Black Rover.’

The pearl black paint dances in the twinkling sunlight and the gravel rash tore around the wheel arches. It was in a state of utter tragedy.

After countless hours spent in the workshop and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars invested into this beast, the car came home looking like it was a showroom car. The refurbished seats wafted the familiar scent of ‘Rover’ leather around the interior. The wooden grain of the dashboard swirls and twirls in patterns resembling panda bears and brollies in the rain. Outside in the engine bay, the car held a feisty, Mustang engine. Usually, a Rover 75 does not house a V8, but this was one of the last cars designed by Rover before they went bankrupt in the early 2000s. The rarity of such a Rover is unmatched. Only 883 were ever produced. To me, my special connection to this car is the stereo, which has played the soundtrack of my life on multiple rallies and runs. With all sincerity I love the ‘Black Rover’. She isn’t just a car… she’s a beast.

Ode to a Child’s Cup

Tiantian, year 9

The perfect cup for a perfect child,

A moment in time shown on the surface.

Delicate, pearly white porcelain

dotted with ink,

like paper bearing a letter.

Trees, bushes, roses and more,

the image of friendship printed for show.

Two children send letters through

the depths of the trees

underneath the gloomy sky.

But what other secrets are you hiding?

What words could the hidden letters bear?

Who made you, and what made them decide

to set such marks upon your smooth skin?

Was it words of deceit that made you break,

that tarnished your brilliant shine?

The moral drawn from this, I can conclude,

Is that all things are, at first,

so perfect,

but as time goes by,

darkness overtakes it all.

Ode to child's cup

Holly, Year 8

A beautiful glaze, mottled by time, adorns you.

Frozen in time while the world moved on above.

You bear an intricate print,

a young boy and girl sending secrets written in ink.

The garden they play in is alive with

trees and roses that spring to life like a newborn animal.

A fine porcelain cup for a thirsty child.

Did the child beg for you each night at dinner?

Were you stored high up on a shelf?

Were you discarded when your child claimed to be too old for you?

A snaking crack runs scathingly down your back.

Now tainted and broken, you’re a shadow of what you used to be.

Happy birthday, Violet

Holly, Year 8

“I can really have it?” I ask, practically dumbfounded.

“Yep, I’m too old for it and since it’s your seventh birthday I’m gifting it to you. Happy birthday, Violet,” says my older brother.

Cautiously, he passes me a cup. Holding it with trepidation, I scrutinise every inch of it, holding it up to the light to catch a glimpse of the finer details. An intricate design is skillfully painted onto the cup. There are two young children playing some secret game in a garden. I am in love with it. The look of untrust that was previously painted on my face chips away, and is replaced with a marvellous grin.

“Oh thank you so much, Edward!” I yell leaping forward, curling my arms tightly around his waist (Being careful not to drop the cup).

He laughs, but it comes out all wrong. Mother and Father bought him this cup when he was two,.Edward has owned it for over a decade, it must be hard for him to part with it.

Sitting on the edge of my bed, I swing my legs back and forth while turning the cup around in my hands. To keep the cup very safe, I set it on my dresser. I’m touched that Edward would give me something so special

I decide to thank him one last time. I stand up quickly, too quickly. In the process, I accidentally bump my dresser, but it’s enough to send the cup toppling off. Horror reverberates around my skull, jumbling my thoughts/

Out of instinct, I dive to try and save the cup, but it’s too late. A large piece has separated from the back and is lying on the floor. It seems to be teasing me. Look at what you did! It shouts. You’ve really done it this time! Edward will be furious.

Tears roll down my cheeks and cries are drawn out of my throat. I frantically grab the two pieces, trying to mush them together. The door flings open. I see Edward standing in the doorway.

“Violet, are you okay? What’s the matter? Why are you crying?”

I try to reply, but shame courses through my veins. I’ve disappointed my brother. I begin an apology, but he deciphers what has happened before the first word escapes my lips. Slowly, he creeps towards me. I’m expecting a rage of fury to be unleashed. However, I am ambushed with a tight embrace. He wipes my streaming eyes and holds me close.

“It’s okay,” he says.

These two words break me

“I’m- Sooo so-r-ry” I hiccup.

“It’s not your fault Violet, don’t blame yourself, it’s not your fault.”

It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault

But it is.

A Rather Bad Hair Day

Tiantian, year 9

I was having a pretty rough day. You see, my hair was greying, growing limp and slowly starting to leave my head bare. A man like me cannot dare to leave home empty-headed, so I had to find a quick solution to this dilemma. I firmly tugged a hat onto my head and strode out to the only place that could help me: Montpellier House. A shop that sold everything you could imagine and need in times like this. Surely, they had something that could save my head!

As I entered the store, I was once again impressed by the overflow of products they had on sale. I headed to the section that sold hair products, and was immediately drawn to a lone container sitting in the middle of a shelf: ‘Russian Bears Grease: From the BEARS In their Native Climate!’

Ah! Now that I saw this, I distinctly remembered advertisements showing this as the cure-all for hair; wild, frizzy, too-thin, flimsy, and…balding heads too! This would help me retain my dignity.

I grabbed it off the shelf and headed to the counter.

“In what times of need do you require this, sir?” the cashier inquired.

I, of course, could not expose myself to be an ageing man without any hair, so I replied wittily. “You see, my father, he’s growing quite old. I thought that to save that bit of humiliation would give him a lifetime of gratitude towards me!”

The cashier laughed heartily with me and I walked back home.

As soon as I entered the front door, I changed my pace to a jog towards the bathroom; a special privilege that gentlemen like me receive. I screwed the lid open, scooped up a dollop of the pale green ointment and smothered it on my bare head. I peered at the label plastered on the container: “Apply once a day; effects will show after one night’s sleep.” I sighed in relief and immediately headed towards my bedroom; dusk had not yet approached, but I wanted my hair back as soon as possible! I quickly drifted off to sleep, excited to see my head full of hair again!

The next morning I slowly opened my eyes to a glaring blast of sunlight. My hands immediately lifted up to feel my head, but…there was nothing. It seemed that no hair had grown at all.

“What! This is not possible!” I climbed out of bed and headed past my servants towards the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, my heart dropped to my stomach; no hair had sprung out of my head. I grabbed the product container and peered at the label once again. “It should’ve worked! I did as it told me to!” However, just as I was going to set it back down, I noticed tiny words written down the bottom:

Disclaimer: Will not work with already bald heads.

“This is not possible!” My confusion was replaced by anger. I had been tricked! Out of fury, I raised the porcelain container up and threw it onto the tiled ground. Only then do I realise what I had done; pieces of the delicate container lay on the ground, the concoction oozing onto the floor. How could I have fallen for this blatant act of deceit?

My diary

Tiantian, Year 9

A diary with a midnight-blue cover, decorated with stars and a moon, sits on my shelf. Locked by a code I still have written down somewhere, no one else but me can read it. Opening the cover, the words, “Tiantian, 2015,” are scrawled inside in messy children’s handwriting. An assortment of differently laid out pages fill this diary, with some just having boring lines, some having grids, some with checklists, and others with space for images. Every single one of those pages is filled with a summary of the day’s events or pictures I drew with the scented gel pens I collected. I basically poured my whole soul into those pages.

This diary was an important part of my life that let me tuck all of my worries and concerns away. Since receiving it as a Christmas gift when I was 5, I used it all the way up until I was 8 years old and had filled the entire book. Although the things I wrote in it were really embarrassing, I kept it as a reminder that people change and you never really know what’s going to happen in the future.

‘For Display Only’

Lucy, Year 8

I have seen my sisters leave, many times. Over and over, a man, or woman, will peruse the aisles, before choosing a vase and leaving. The shopkeeper's assistant will smile, and hurry past my shelf. He lifts them up and takes them away, never sparing me a second glance. He is careful not to break them, for he fears the wrath of the shopkeeper.

I wait patiently on my shelf, facing the window. I see all that happens on the street. I see the seasons change, the horses thunder past, dragging behind them a carriage or cart, and I see the people. So many people. Women dressed in silks and cotton, Men wearing suits of navy and black. Some stop, to peer through the window, some rush by, ignoring me and my shop. I am proud of my shop, and I am oftentimes offended by them. But the ignorant cannot see true beauty. Perhaps that is why, although my sisters leave, and so do my friends, I remain.

I have skin of ivory and a stalk of green. My petals are lilac, my bracelet blue, and I wear accessories of the brightest gold. My sisters are dressed in garish scarlets and oranges, my palate is more refined and elegant. I am more beautiful than them, but they leave, and I stay. I always smile for them, but now my smile doesn’t reach my eyes. Yes, my shop is charming, and filled with delightful things, but Oh! How I long for an owner of my own! Why? Why does no one want me? Will I stay here, on this street, forevermore?

As night falls yet again, My hope fades with the daylight. All shops close at night. But then, why is a figure coming? Does he not know? I squint, the dark clouding my vision. He is fast approaching now. He is holding something, something large. It collides with the glass window! A robber, come to steal. He heads for the cash tray. Fool! It is emptied after the evening rush.

Evidently, he has discovered this too, for he flies into a rage, sending china vases to the floor. I cry, for my friends have been shattered. I blink tears away to see him heading towards me, and my precious shelf. But, luckily, he is only leaving. I breathe a sigh of relief. This wretched man, what has he done? My shop ruined, and my family gone. As he steps past, He reaches out and picks me up. I tense, and He sends me tumbling, down, down, down. I shatter on the cold cobbles outside. The moment I dreamed of, of being chosen, has finally come, but not how I wanted. I look upwards, at my beloved shelf, and see, finally, why I was never chosen. Why I was never touched. I sign hangs above my spot, and it reads: For Display Only.

hundreds of plastic pieces

Lucy, Year 8

My brother and I have a collection. It isn’t of teaspoons, or stuffed animals, or crayons, it is of Lego. We have spent countless hours cultivating our city, which we have built from the ground up. And although our greatest builds pale in comparison to those of grandmasters, we are still proud. I remember sifting through hundreds of plastic pieces, that half-filled a container large enough for me to sit in. I remember my Cinderella castle, with a swing and a door with a key, that got smashed when we moved out of our house for renovations (RIP Cinderella Lego set). I remember sitting in the warm sun, and smelling the ‘Lego air’ (as we so aptly put it) when I opened the lid of a Lego container. Me and Zach are going to leave the Lego at home when we move away, so when we have children they can play with it.

When our collection was too large to sit on the floor, we built a table with the help of our Dad. It has a green top, so our Lego figures can touch grass. Our characters have been through a lot. We got prank kits one year for our birthday, which, along with the usual joke paraphernalia (fake poop, bloody fingers, whoopie cushions and fake cockroaches) contained glow-in-the-dark green slime. Our figurines wore clothes of that goop for weeks until my Mum told us to throw it out because it stunk and had bits of dirt throughout it. I think one guy, Steve from Minecraft, still has some stuck in his foot. As I grew older, I am guilty of not playing with the Lego as much, but thinking about it has prompted me to do so. I’ll ask Zach on the weekend.

A huge thanks to the Christchurch Archaeology Project ( especially to Jessie for turning up each day to share her passion), Christchurch Heritage Festival and the team at Tūranga.

(c) The Young Writers and Write On 2023


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