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Artefacts and Taonga 2023 # 3

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

This year 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 Friday class.

Silver Lustreware Teapot.

Skye, Year 8

All eyes are on me. I’m not sure why but the owner of the shop had decided to leave my case open that day. I don’t blame him, poor little humans, for they could never be as gorgeous as me. My common clay body is masked by the beauty of a shiny silver finish. But wait, who is that? My heart stops as the last human gaze is averted from my beauty to another artefact. Their white precious skin is glazed with elegant blue details. I hate to admit it but could she be.. more gorgeous than me??

Relief washes over me as I sense one pair of eyes still on me. I glance over to see a small, grubby child. Oh no.. anyone but that! I can’t escape, my body stiff, the child creeps closer and I begin to cry, Please don’t come any closer! I’ll, I’ll tell your mother!! It was no use. I’d have killed to have a voice just for that moment. The child gets closer still and my case is wide open. He reaches out and…

“Horace!! What are you doing?” A mother's cry.

All would be well if his hand hadn’t knocked me by an inch! I tremble and tremble and.. SMASH!!! Nooo! My beauty unmasked, I lay in pieces as my simple clay build is revealed. No, no see I’m still beautiful, look at my silver finish!

At that moment It’s almost like I heard a perfectly pitched laugh from somewhere high up, from something that could only have been…

Radiant and reFLective

Elsie, Year 8

Your metallic veil conceals ceramic affection

shrouding you in a sense of beauty.

How does your shaping erase your sad history?

How do you reflect so much light

that even the sun

cowers in your presence?

Your beauty hides scars

you’re coated in mirror bubbles

yet you never got to be loved.

Ode To The Torpedo Bottle

Emma, Year 6

In front of me, you lay, my bottle,

You are one as smooth as glass.

As shiny as diamonds.

The lush green colour spills across your body.

I imagine you sail the seven seas,

not letting any waves throw you back.

You are the ship which can sail across the world,

the one and only, the only one.

I watch you let all your problems be carried,

carried back to the beach shore

while you keep my drink cool and refreshing.

But how do you do it? I wonder,

How are you so awesome, amazing and fascinating?

How are you capable of such an amazing thing?

That is how you are unique.

I can always count on you my torpedo bottle,

you are always amazing, curious and sometimes cheeky,

like when you explode the cork into the air for fun.

Oh, what a magnificent torpedo bottle l have.

To me you are as important as oxygen is to living creatures.

Torpedo bottle

Janie, Year 8

A unique design created with precision,

cool-tone blue

skin as thick as the earth’s crust.

Thick, hard glass

blown into a perfect torpedo shape.

For something so old and precious

you still hold strong.

28 Wharf Road,

City Road, London

inscribed on your side.

Is that where you are from?

What are you trying to hide?

Sodawater, is that what you used to hold?

Was that your purpose?

Fulfilled or unfulfilled

it doesn’t matter.

You are perfect the way you are.

Flower Candle

Holly, Year 7

You still have 2-6 written on your base. Your delicate petals cracked apart. The vines moulded onto your leaves. The glossy green shade reflects like a mirror. I can see where your curved handle snapped off, leaving a brown colour almost like a dying stem. I could effortlessly picture the flowers growing out of you, blooming red. Making every room brighter with your presence. Just looking at you, I can almost see that flame.

List of Things from Childhood

Milla, Year 6

Blue, green and baggy jeans,

My Vizslas, Mango & Moose.

My shiny gold trombone shows

my reflection while I play.

Harry Potter, Percy Jackson,

Old piano, bass guitar.

Treehouse Oh so old you are,

my pretty little music box,

and a long fantastic flying fox.

Heidi’s Paintbrush

Heidi, Year 6

The old paintbrush at home,

strange as it seems to be,

is truly special to me.

It’s covered in marks,

each splatter of paint,

is a different picture I made.

I do not want it to go,

since I treasure so,

even today, when I can’t

use it anyway!

Memoirs of a Dog (1870)

Felix, Year 7

Urgh, this stupid collar is making my neck so itchy! Ooh, maybe that guy in the house with a big window that has a lot of jugs and bowls in it might help me get it off. Oh no, the door’s shut. Maybe I could try and push it open. Why did it make a ding noise? Uh hey, mister can you get my collar off? Mister?

Hey, don’t try to kick me. Okay, I’ll try someone else. Sheesh, what has his tail in a knot?

Excuse me ma'am can you help get my collar off? No? Okay.

Huh? Why did everyone just leave? Why did all the lights go out? Why can’t I open the door anymore?

Excuse me! Person on the street! Can you hear me?

This is scary.

Maybe I’ll go have a rest. That blanket in the corner looks comfy.

Huh!? It’s tipping? Uh oh. Smash! Watch out now there are lots of white pointy bits on the floor.

Okay, no rest. Time to do things the old old fashioned way. How about if I try running into that shelf? Will that get my collar off? Oof! No, it just hurts. Wait, the shelf is tipping over. My way!? AARGH!


Ow that hurt.

Crash!!! Crash!!! Crash!!!

All the other shelves fell over? Okay, then I’ll just go to sleep on the counter.

Ahh. Stretching my back always feels good in the morning. Hey, I know that guy walking past the shop in the black uniform. Hey! Over here! Okay, I’ll run over to him.


What is this invisible wall?

Smash! Clatter!

The invisible wall just broke? Oof. At least I’m outside on the footpath now. And hey, my collar came off.

NB: This story cleverly combines two true stories about dogs in early Christchurch!

The Shoe Ink Bottle Disaster

Hana, Year 7

Dear Mr Arthur Stewart,

I’m terribly sorry Sir, but I broke your shoe ink bottle.

Well, it wasn’t me, but I am the one who is forced to write you this letter.

I know how much you loved that ink bottle and how devastated you will be when you get this.

So this is how it happened.

I was in class yesterday as usual, except we had the substitute teacher instead of you. I accidentally forgot my ink bottle at home ( I am apologising for this in advance). I told the substitute and she said I could just use the spare one on your desk. This is your shoe bottle I’m talking about here, you know the one NOBODY ELSE CAN USE. I tried to explain to her that it wasn't a spare and it was just your personal one that you always keep there, but she wouldn’t listen to me. She called me rude, and disrespectful and told me to get on with my work. I told her I can’t work on my poem without an ink bottle.

She said “DON’T GET SMART WITH ME” and threw your ink bottle at me, which broke the front off and drenched me in ink! Then the substitute laughed and said, “Now you have ink!”



I Am Artefact

Isaac, Year 8

I Am Artefact.

I may look like I have holes and cracks, but my will is strong.

I may look like I’m extremely old, but I have survived.

I may look like I no longer function, but I now serve a different purpose.

I Am Artefact.

I may smell like coffee, but I still survive.

I may smell like dirt and rust, but I'm not broken yet.

I may smell like old clay, but I was more.

I Am Artefact.

I may smell disgusting, but I’m not like you.

I may smell like Earth, but I’m not buried in the past.

I may smell like clay, but I’m still an Artefact.

I Am Artefact.

I may taste like Earth and grass, but I am still me.

I may taste like unhygienic people have touched me, but that was a different time.

I may taste like old materials, but I still have things to tell.

I Am Artefact.

I may sound like I’m too old to exist, but I still exist.

I may sound like I’m too creaky, but I’m not too old to be alive.

I may sound like I’m an Inkpot, but I’m something more.

I Am Artefact!

The mixing bowl

An, Year 8

Look at you, oh mixing bowl,

in all your glory, playing your role.

Your vibrant yellow and hues of blue,

held together by drops of glue,

Your coat of seaweed-like design,

Dendritic mocha they call it, how divine.

Look at you just sitting there,

for everyone to watch and stare.

I wonder where you have been?

I wonder, what have you seen?

I wonder, how did it feel buried underground?

Did you ever get lonely, with no one around?

What memories were you to bear?

What caused all that wear and tear?

Though memories you may not hold,

you have so much history to be retold.

A kitchen bowl you may have been,

a treasured artefact, you are now seen.

My treasure

An, Year 8

My treasure, the most important thing to me is the floor mat, adorned with the many plates of fruits, spring rolls, meats, and noodles. It’s the bright smiles on everyone’s faces as food is shared and enjoyed. It’s the lively chatter that fills the room, from the gossiping aunties, and uncontrollable laughter of energetic children, to the wise words of advice ushered by grandparents. This is my treasure, it’s being able to share food, laughter and memories with the people I care about. It’s the special moments spent around people I love, sharing things we love. My tradition, my culture, my friends, my family, my treasure.


Mitchell, Year 7

My big, cool and amazing soft toy dog Gus is very special. I got him during a camping trip that we went on for Christmas when I was just over nine. The reason he is very special is because he helped me get through nearly every single one of the many nightmares I had during that time. He is light brown with white around his chubby and adorable mouth and under his ears. He has a giant black nose. He used to be very fluffy but isn't any more because of how many hugs he has had.

After a year of having him my little sister thought it would be cool and funny to have a bath with him. I caught her coming out of my bedroom with him. I chased her down the hall, but I was too late to save him from getting soaked but just in time to get him out of the bath before my little sister got in. Now that Gus was all wet I had a problem. I wanted to sleep with him that night. So I came up with the massive brain idea to dry him with a hair dryer. However, when l was drying his back I held it too close to him for too long and now he has a big hole in his back. Don't forget I accomplished my incredible feat and dried him in an hour. If I ever throw out Gus I would be very sad.

Ode to the Porcelain Cup

Theia, Year 6

The light bounces off your golden swirls, glistening in my eyes.

The delicate white porcelain you’re made of shakes

in the wind as if it could shatter at any moment.

Despite the cracks and missing pieces

you still look like a present to be put on a shelf and looked at

instead of sitting in a dusty museum or archaeology centre all day.

Which child would you have brought joy to if you had been bought?

How long would it take for the chips and cracks to show

if you had not been broken all those years ago?

Would you be treasured as something to keep

or ignored like a gum wrapper in a drain?

Whose hands sculpted you and painted on the golden accents?

Would you have been a cup for a christening or a birthday present?

You would have been one of the many cups to be bought

and taken home as a present for a child but instead,

you live an unfulfilled life with a piece of your story missing.

You could have been something more than a broken cup, a lost soul.

The Elegant Hand

Jesse Year 8

It is 1867 and I have been freshly shipped from England to my new home in a store in Christchurch, New Zealand. I am looking so lovely and beautiful with my amazing purple tulip in my hand. I’m trying to hold it so delicately so hopefully, it won't just break into crisp fine dust where I will never get it back again.

I wear my small golden ring on my middle finger. I think once again on how I might break the leaves and stem of my tulip if I hold it too tight. If I wasn’t ceramic I might be able to feel the lace cuff I am wearing on my skin whenever the shop door opens.

Speaking of my lace cuff, it has a beautiful undercoat of purple that is pretty much the same shade of purple as the lilac-coloured tulip that I am holding. Then on the edge of my cuff, there is a gold rim with a golden button encrested into it. Just above my cuff is a beaded blue bracelet with a tiny blue diamond-shaped bead in the middle.

I get to have a chance to look out the window eagerly waiting for someone to come by and buy me, yet no one did. One day while I was resting in my shop there was this whining and barking coming from below me but I'm not too sure what it was coming from. Then all of a sudden I saw this big beastly black figure racing towards me like it was trying to break something. Sadly for it, it didn’t work. But then it seemed to have another idea as it slowly inched backwards. When it felt it had gone far enough it stopped and then turned towards me!!! It started to run then it launched itself at me. OH MY GOSH, he might actually hit me. Oh wait, never mind he hit the window, wait what happened? I'm falling, I'm falling. Stop. Please someone help save me!!! My life slowly fades away as I crash onto the ground and shatter into pieces, some pieces of me never to be found again.

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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