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Kaituhi Rāwhiti

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn

The first seedling idea for an East Coast writers’ garden was planted in the rich and fertile soil of a Tairawhiti Writers Hub meeting, when Gillian Moon (wait up, that’s me!) brought to the table an idea of putting together a collection of writing from the shores of Tairāwhiti.  Nurtured with encouragement and enthusiasm by fellow members and by securing and applying a generous amount of compost via a grant gratefully received from the Margaret King Spencer Writers Encouragement Trust Fund, Kaituhi Rāwhiti;  A celebration of East Coast Writers began its journey.

During the early months of 2020,  the four Editors; Aaron Compton, Christopher McMaster, Gillian Moon (me again) and Claire Price put out the call for submissions of work to be sent in, with the opportunity to appear in a published anthology of East Coast writing.  Under the unexpected yet auspicious circumstances of lock-down, writers around the region had their pens scrolling across pages and fingers tapping at their keyboards, with the hope of getting published in this celebratory first volume of writing.

The motivation behind Kaituhi Rāwhiti was to bring together and showcase the diversity of people who call Tairāwhiti their home and to provide a platform for writers to share their stories and their craft in a safe, creative and nurturing environment.  And with thirty four contributors (nine of those Rangatahi from our region), the foreword by Witi Ihimaera, a sell out book launch, and ongoing book sales – it can be proudly deemed that Kaituhi Rāwhiti was and is a great success!  With that in mind and a “let’s do volume two” ringing loudly in the ears of the editors, the call has gone out for submissions to Kaituhi Rāwhiti Two!

With a slight change of the original line up of Editors,  Regina de Wolf-Ngarimu has stepped in to fill the shoes of Claire Price, who is busy with other business and creative projects this year.  Regina is a contributor in the original Kaituhi Rāwhiti and brings a wealth of skills in the form of publishing, writing and marketing.  

What are the Editors looking for?  Submissions!  Any genre will be considered!  We want diversity, we want stories that celebrate different cultures, we want poems, photos with words, drawings that tell a story, essays, memoirs, speculative fiction.  Dig out those old, forgotten jotted down stories, notes and words – blow off the dust, re read, re visit, re write and let your imagination go. Gizzy’s sizzling summertime is just the time to chillax at the beach, river or park under a shady, leafy tree and work towards the March 01 2022 deadline for submissions.  What will your words bring to the garden of Kaituhi Rāwhiti Two?

Check out our Tairawhiti Writers Hub Facebook page and request to join – we love welcoming new members.  Or if you want to check out a copy of the original Kaituhi Rāwhiti, the H.B. Williams Memorial Library has a copy to loan or they can be purchased from the Tairāwhiti Museum and from all our supportive bookshops.  Alternatively drop us an email at for any questions or comments.

Story by Gillian Moon

NOise VACANCY 2021

The idea for Noise Vacancy came into being in 2020 over the course of an evening in which a group of friends, Nikki O’Connor, Lina Marsh, Katy Wallace and myself had come together to discuss an event in which for local artists to show their stuff, potentially as a part of the upcoming Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival.

Over the course of the evening the topic of vacant buildings in our inner city came to the fore and the concept of NOise VACANCY was born.

Last year’s NOise VACANCY was a grand experiment. We initially envisaged a walking tour winding through the streets, an otherworldly coming alive of disused spaces strung across the city. However the months passed and landlords were not exactly jumping at the opportunity to have a group of artists bring their unused buildings to life for a night.

The answers we received were always the same, “it’s about to be leased” or “awaiting earthquake strengthening” or in most cases no reply at all. Many of the buildings we enquired about in those first few months still stand in the same state today. Empty.

There were two wonderful people who had a different answer for us however and so it was that Patrick McHugh and Jill Tomlinson handed us over the keys and told us to ‘go to town’ in their two level Lowe Street building. 

A couple of months later they were amongst the most excited audience members as a night of magic and mystery unfolded for both those who participated and attended. Hundreds of people explored, discovered, pondered and puzzled alongside each other, with much excited chatter about how they had never experienced anything like it – at least not in Gisborne.

This year’s event was no different.  Another landlord stood apart from the rest with Tony Robinson opening the doors to the Public Trust building on Childers Road for a bunch of artists to explore and occupy for a few days during Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival. Despite the Covid restrictions meaning that the audience had to book into specific time slots the air of discovery and excitement remained.

The brief to the artists is to respond to the space and its history using sound.  By its very nature art will also reflect the socio-political contexts of its time and some of our current issues were certainly in evidence in this year’s works.  

Curator Nikki O’Connor is always interested to see how the artists and sound makers connect to the kaupapa, and how they incorporate sound, “As they spend more time with the space and it’s stories it’s fascinating to watch the ideas take shape. The range of creative disciplines and approaches adds to the surreal dreamland feeling of the night”. 

As the original tenants of the building, the Public Trust Organisation gave some artists the nudge to explore notions of trust, the housing crisis was given a few strong nods and Wendy Kirkwood’s vintage clothing store ‘Unfinished Business’ and the Family Planning Association also inspired installation and performance. Other pieces responded directly to the space in experiential forms such as dance, chanting and spoken word.

As the audience meandered around the two storeys of the building in the changing light, projections spoke into various corners including the street outside and the yard out back. A few hardy performers kept going for the entirety of the experience – no less than 4 and a half hours – while others popped up during each session. 

One of the things about the altered reality of an experience like this – both immersive and sometimes interactive – means that the lines between art and real life can become blurred. And so an empty paper cup set upon a window sill might be picked up and turned over for clues as to its purpose, and a couple passionately kissing on a corner may be unflinchingly observed as a courageous piece of performance art (in a small town such as this), until it becomes clear that actually, the performance is just about to begin…

It was great to have a few more young people involved this year with a stairwell installation speaking directly to the regenerative power of rangatahi.  12 year old artist, Wolfe Jackson says he felt really lucky to be a part of NOise VACANCY, “It was really cool and inspiring being around so many other different artists.  It was my first exhibition and I was a bit nervous that my art would be just seen as kid’s drawings, but the feedback from people was surprisingly good so that was a relief.  It was a great night, a bit tiring but so worth it in the end”.

One of this year’s curator’s Katy Wallace loves the way in which “NOise VACANCY gives local creatives the chance to push their practices in different ways and to work with or alongside each other. It is a refreshing challenge to any creative practice considering sound, installation, and performance in one package”.

One of the highlights for curator Lina Marsh was working with a great team of wahine who were open to giving anything a go. This included launching NOise VACANCY 2021 online during lockdown. “Neither of us really knew what we were doing and it made it hard to communicate online as opposed to in person, but we embraced the opportunity and created a kookie zoom recording announcing our aims for this year’s performance. NOise VACANCY definitely pushes you out of your comfort zones”. 

NOise VACANCY provides a fantastic opportunity to show what local creatives are capable of, for our community to experience something out of the ordinary, and it also achieves the original intent of bringing energy to spaces which had been previously forgotten. 

In a happy epilogue to NOise VACANCY episode one, 64 Lowe Street is currently occupied by a bunch of creatives and the record store Spellbound Wax, all of whom are overjoyed to have an affordable and inspiring space, which they otherwise might not have, if it were not for the NOise VACANCY experience. 

If you were at NOise VACANCY we’d love to hear what you thought! Let us know in the comments below or drop a line to or @noisevancy on Instagram.

The Poetry of Objects #3



in the shade someone
a knob
with a satisfying


causing a small beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a writer, reading verse about
humans becoming angels the hard way,
music beating behind her like wings through the house;
the beeps on each hour;
the bird every morning
singing from the magic box atop the fridge.


Do you hear me now?

there was a microphone
I spoke
who now would hear me say:

Close your eyes and forget the foamy white noise of the breakers,
close your eyes and feel the swell that lifts you,
Up you go,
and down…

without looking, see the next wave nearing, and
as you rise with it see the one behind it,
and the next,
and the rest,
a procession of gentle waves
refracting around you,
lifting you.


splash your hand on the wave and smaller ripples spread
in all directions from your radiance,
a signal riding up and along on the
smooth series of sine waves.

clouds in the bright blue casting fat drops wide onto the water,
each drop broadcasting ripples,
each drop the centre of expanding circles
that become lost in the noise of the ocean.

the depths.
the surface.
You swim in broad frequencies.
up at the hill.
The transmitter tower,

for shore.
Time for home.

Do you hear me now?

from the sun-shower under a corrugated iron roof.
the world outside wet and bright,
holes torn in the clouds where
the single visible point of radiance is blinding.
Up on the hill, the radio transmitter pushes swells into the air,
a radiance unseen to biological eyes
making great spherical onion layers around itself,
a series of smooth sine waves
carrying splashes and ripples coded for voices and music;
they fly straight through the iron and wood and the feature wall,
and you, not lifting you


in the shade someone
a knob
with a satisfying

causing a smaller beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a broadcaster who recalls:
“slipping between the peaks and troughs,
a whisper in the whines and crackles
of the cosmic microwave background.”

The bakelite box hums to itself.

“Is this thing on?
Do you hear me now?”

Pause. Hum. Another voice says:
“Thank you, we’re coming up to the news at 9-”
but she murmurs:
“If my lips brushed the microphone would you hear
i love you
within the hiss and pop of
the dying down of the birth of the universe?

Do y-”

me a microphone,
I want you to hear me say:
let my waves lift your body,
let my waves lift your soul, while
radiant angels splash in the medium of space/time and
throw voices into the ear…

(Fade out to white noise)

Aaron Compton, July 2021

Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local. This radio is currently for sale at Retro, 8 Ballance Street, Whataupoko. You can follow Ro on Instagram or on Facebook.

Poetry of Objects #4

Plain Weave|

Location becomes ingrained in the object
and its story,
in us,
in the cracks of our heels,
between round willow weaves, over/under the thicker spokes
in the up-set corners
of a plain-weave basket.

Inside the picnic basket is not most important,
beneath is where it’s at:

where are we going?

You have to take the turn fast
and in the mirror the bottle of bubbly rolls
off the highway onto the dusty road
(i mean across the backseat),
making the basket rattle
under the bridge as the cars behind us
accelerate above, across, away and
let’s hope the fruit doesn’t squash the jubilee sandwiches;
only a brief snaking loss of traction then a slow river
between giant graffitied concrete pillars and rounded boulders so

as for your fancy almond-flour cakes,
none of this matters like dirt under your tyres.

Here, there’s a patch of grass and weeds
soon giving way to the creaking hamper,
chlorophyll staining the fibres of basket and knee
beside a waterfall, where someone’s hair drips
mountain water into the willow weave while

unseen grubs munch the grass from underneath,
pausing to eavesdrop on us, feasting above.

Next time it might be beside the
seaside, side-eying the salad and the sand

on the blue fabric lining your wicker treasure chest, a loose berry getting gritty, a jammy knife, stray; crumbs on the blanket, our hair still wet, again, still, falling back, eyes closed in the sunshine
and hearing the hinge squeak open.

Inside is not what’s most important, nor underneath, it’s who’s beside the kete that counts,
beside us:

who are we?

Who, in a minute or two, is going to
gently touch your arm and say


Objects become ingrained in their own provenance
and in our stories too, memories
in the wrinkles of our eyes,
between round willow weaves
over/under thicker spokes,
in the up-set corners
of a plain-weave basket.
Aaron Compton
Tūranganui a Kiwa
The third stanza is woven, alternating lines from what had been two separate stanzas, the ends trimmed to fit.

Creative Kupu

What is Creative Kupu?

It is a mātauranga Māori focused initiative that offers accessibility to creativity for kids. The kaupapa of Creative Kupu is therefore guided by tāmariki in what they’re interested in writing, and in developing through a series of workshops and wānanga.

Why am I interested in making this more accessible to kids here? 

In 2016 I was asked by my friend who was teaching at the time to write a play for their school in Papakura, South Tāmaki. They told me that their budget was small, and that the Ministry of Education asked for $1500 for the licencing rights to use the same old play that the kids didn’t know, and couldn’t relate to. I wrote Young Mana for a koha, so that the school could use the remaining pūtea to put on a cool production, rent out a theatre, have costumes and even a sound technician.

Young Mana was written from my own experience growing up as an urban Māori in Tūranga-nui-a-kiwa, in Elgin. Although locationally different, my observations spent in Papakura showed me that economically and demographically, we were exactly the same.

I pulled in elements that I considered exciting, and had hoped the kids acting the parts would too.

The genre of the play is fantasy, and utilises manu, kuri, taniwha, and the kiore to represent key characters. Mana endures a necessary journey in discovering his whakapapa, alongside the guidance of his Mum and a few friends.

Back in June I started 1-hour weekly workshops at my old primary school, Elgin. I wanted to bring the pilot of Creative Kupu, a series of creative writing workshops to Tūranga-nui-a-kiwa for my part in the ONO Project.

This seemed like a good opportunity for me to reconnect with the school where my creativity was first noticed.

Coming back into Elgin was nothing but a warm memory for me. This feeling was only continued when I was openly embraced by the Principal to come in and run these workshops.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t keen to develop a play with these kids. However, this time, I wanted to give the kids full autonomy over the story, and therefore over their creative pieces, so that the characters they would be ‘playing’ wouldn’t be from someone else’s perspective.

I also asked the kids what they wanted to focus on, because I wanted to make best use of a short time spent at the school. We all know that creative processes take adults weeks, months and sometimes even years. Having 5 weeks; 5 hours to take the kids to a space of creating with purpose is difficult, and I’m sure teachers can vouch for me on that.

When I introduced myself to these kids, I proposed that I really wanted to develop works with them, to keep in touch, and to see their mahi produced into something like the production shown above.

I wanted to see what they would focus on, and figuring that out required trialling one out of the two top options, Songs and a Play.

We started with songs, taking one kid’s suggestion to watch an exclusively PG video clip of their current favourite song, ‘Don’t Worry Baby’, covered by Tomorrow People.

I had to tell them that the original was actually sung by a group of American men in the 60’s.

They didn’t like that so much.

I asked them to respond to the song, how it made them feel.

And this one just cracked me up. This kid wanted to write their own song, but needed the teacher to write while they said the lyrics.

“Girl can you hear the drums

Girl can you hear the guitar?

Girl can you hear my heart?

Girl do you know that you make me bad.

Bad, bad, bad.

Girl do you need a Knight in shining


They later asked me if I could send these lyrics to Three Houses Down.

 This process was difficult because the song chosen didn’t interest the majority of the group. I would say 40% of the class actually enjoyed the song, while the remaining found it a bit lame. Creating their own lyrics would too prove a bit daunting, with many feeling whakamā around expectation.

Lyricism is time consuming, requiring time to reflect on personal feelings and experiences. Some of the kids opened up about their feelings, but were reluctant to put that down on a piece of paper. The kōrero was pretty special, and still counts as process.

I decided we’d give that a break, and trial something else the following week.

In the next session, I decided to push songs aside and trial the play workshop. I thought that something we could get out of an hour would be creating a character – how fun I thought. Turns out that this required a bit of unpacking too, and that agreeing to them using their chromebooks would benefit some, while distract the remaining. Creativity comes in many forms, I decided. 

One of the kids showing me the drawings they had done in their creative writing book. The drawings were incredibly detailed, and involved illustrations I’m dubious would be of interest to kids. I have a feeling that an older sibling drew them, but still this kid’s interest in drawing is obvious to me.

Anime seemed to be a huge theme here, with this kid showing me a character they had “made up”. The character is Todoroki, who has the catch phrase: “It’s not your fault, we’re just playing on different levels”.

Pre-existing or not, the character sounded sassy, which I like.

I thought for the longest time that these kids were super talented drawers, until I noticed them all folding their chromebook’s down so that they could trace pictures. Hei aha.

It was cool to learn that Dragon Ball Z was making a comeback.

This kid had traced a video game character. They were telling me all about how unspotabble the character was, and so I suggested they could create a character that would be able to defeat them. We ended up just talking about video games. 

“My character is a girl. She loves drawing her name is Lia. She’s pretty (<3) her hair is blonde and her teeth are bright and white. She is 38 years old and if she was in a movie she would go on an adventure with her drawing book and pencil, and whatever she drew would come to life.”

I was blown away by the imagination in the creation of this character. The idea that Lia could draw things to life excited me, and I wanted to understand how that would look.

This is clearly someone who loves creative writing, and a student who might be interested in continuing onward with this kaupapa.

The kids are on their school break currently, but when they return, we will pick up where we left off and continue developing characters, and moving on to placing the character into a scene.

Massive aroha to Elgin Primary School, to the Principal for entrusting me into this space, the teacher for their huge support and flexibility, and of course to these kids who willingly engage in their creative processes.

Ngā mihi aroha,

Jordan Walker, Creative Kupu

The Poetry of Objects #2

Remember the Grain


From micro-organisms in the silt of an undersea jet trench
to bacteria,
seeding rain-clouds,
we all need our star,

even poets needs the sun;
Let’s paint a picture:

photons striking green barley in the field,
energy stored as starch in swelling grains.
Oak leaves taking the same energy
to stouten trunks.

Evening rays,
filtering through the atmosphere at an obtuse angle,
shifting to the amber end of the spectrum,
giving painters and film-makers’ the brief,
perfect light for capture in their cunning artifices.

There’re golden fields.
Mighty oaks.

A selection of my favourite things.

Consider yeast,
in the darkness of a mash tun,
converting the energy of grain,
from starch and sugars to ethanol,
which goes in an oak barrel to age,
the way the day is aged,
with the hogshead sun so low
over the yardarm.

Bring the decanter into the light,
let it flash and colour,
see your fingers refracted through the cut crystal,
through morning and afternoon sun distilled into a flammable liquid.

Pour one out for us;
Feel that good burn as it goes down;
Become part of the sunset,
even as a sunset passed becomes part of you;
Remember the grain,
if only for this brief few minutes:
live as if in a movie,
or in a picture we’re painting,
with all,

from the trenches to the cloud tops,
raising a glass to Te Rā.


By Aaron Compton

Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local. These sparkling crystal decanters are currently on sale at Retro, 8 Ballance Street, Whataupoko. You can follow Ro on Instagram or on Facebook.