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Seaweek Poetry Winners- Senior

Over 150 poems were entered in the Canterbury/ Waitaha Seaweek 2023 Poetry Competition and many more were written over the weeks leading up to the deadline, showing how connected our young writers are to the moana.

The judges, Jenna Heller and James Norcliffe, are both renowned poets. In fact James is so renowned he won the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry this year! Here are their picks for the senior winners:

Congratulations to

Years 9-10

1st: The Wahine, Heidi S, St Andrews College

2nd: Pōhara, Violette D, Rangi Ruru

Years 11-13

1st: I search for the pods and schools, Will R, St Andrews College

2nd: My heart is in the ocean, Suki K, Hagley College


The Wahine

by Heidi S

the sea comes flooding in the sea welcomes me

the wahine is on her side I swim through the depths

slowly rotting away not stopping

in the depths of the sea swimming on forever

shredded metal around gaping holes thru the forests of kelp

masts and pipes snapped like twigs swimming deeper

the sea is in every crevice getting darker

the fish have made it their home watching the fish swim by

those still aboard swim towards the light

collapsed in a pile always getting brighter

of gleaming white bones and into the air


Pōhara – a poem for two voices

by Violette D

I am this space

The sky and the sea suspended together

I move as one with them

Changing from minute to minute almost in a rush to disappear

Painting the clouds with a symphony of colours

Shattered lights dance on the edge of my paddle board

Silhouettes of heroes. Mighty mountains disappearing into still dark water

I imagine their secrets of a time before tāngata came to my beach

The sand, a bare band of silence fringed with harakeke

Memories of my kapa haka skirt

Maki, guardians of Moana watch quietly

Sharing my secluded place of paradise

Your depths are a mystery

I sense the gentle whai skimming below the surface saying goodnight

Yet your surface is so clear

The tips of my fingers drag through your walls

Sand brushes tired feet

Like a hug from a lost friend

Stars rise from their beds

Each a small token of gratitude

Projections of Aroha

You are my element, my sacred love

An ocean of candles, a thousand notes of music


I search for the pods and schools

by Will R

I search for the pods and schools

the boat motor circling local shoals

gurnard, kahawai, moki

Eyes staring through me

windows of X-rays

swells bruise on the hull


a ramekin in sink water


Karoro in the nor‘west breeze

their pulled and rugged feathers

swaggering down below the arch

On top the abyss of the Canterbury bight

I peer above and below


and below

Searching for eyes

everything blue

but I am drawn below

past the cross-hatched currents

No gurnard, kahawai, moki

just me

and the sea


My heart is in the ocean

by Suki K

My body is on land, but my heart is in the ocean

Fingertips upon the sand currents silently awoken

Moonlight specks like freckles, dust the water's skin

The ocean is a vessel, holding secrets deep within

The tides forever shifting, guided by the waves

The sea is always listening, attentive and unchained

She breathes a melody, from deep inside her core

You might hear it if you listen, mind focused from the shore

She's been there from the start, lived on time and time again

And even when it's dark, she'll be there till the end

My body is on land, but my heart is in the ocean

The water takes my hand, and heals what has been broken

Congratulations to each of their writers

and their wonderful poetry teachers!

A huge thanks to the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education, Selwyn Libraries, Christchurch Libraries and Creative Communities Christchurch for helping bring free poetry workshops to many young writers in the lead up to Seaweek 2023.

(c) Write On 2023


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