Prepare your inkwells, dust off your parchment, don your writing wreath and share a poem with the good people of Pōneke!

Tūhono, Wellington City Libraries’ poetry journal for youth, is now open for submissions until 14 December! We have loved reading all the wonderful poems sent into us so far!

This year, the theme is “Whakangā | Breath.” Whakangā refers to the taking in of breath, or to the process of breathing. It also calls to mind the idea of inhaling from the world; taking a breath to create calm; taking time to stop, slow down, relax, be.

Enter here!

Click this button to enter!

Unlike some other poetry journals, having your work accepted in Tūhono is not a competition — as long as you follow the rules of submission, every piece of work that gets sent to us will be published. Tūhono itself — the collection of poetry from young people all over Wellington — will be published as an eBook on OverDrive, and in a limited print run for our libraries, so that everyone with a library card can borrow it and bask in your talent and glory! Check out previous editions of Tūhono on our catalogue here.

Here’s a few of our favourite poems from teens in 2021!

1. Not parents, old worn forms of myself — Iris

Poem example 1

Not parents, old worn forms of myself 

I am a morphed being, a recipe fulfilled  

that started with a twinkle in the eye of my mum. 

The ingredients of my hair: 

a lighter shade of my mum’s,  

a darker shade of my dad’s. 

She was red, he was blonde. 

Twirl and mix. 


My dad and I used to drive in the old, red Toyota, 

Blaring out David Bowie and Courtney Barnett, 

driving through the backroads of the Wairarapa. 

This made my playlists match my dad’s. 


I have curiously adopted my parents’ former loves: 

I enthusiastically harbour my dad’s old guitar, 

Squire strat, 1993. 

My mum’s old clothes have been  

inconspicuously slipped into my cupboard: 

vintage silk shirts that now 

hide holes in the armpits. 


My mum and I share the blazing rage that we harbour.  

We let it rip loudly and then slowly, quietly  

disintegrate into our guilt. 

And when she was small, her hair shone like gold  

in the Hawera sun. Just like mine. 


And when I look at them still, 

the folds in their faces  


And I am left with the grippingly surreal versions of myself. 


2.  Trees of Gold — Mika

Trees of Gold poem image

Trees of Gold

water rushes 

light bounces and wrinkles 

looking down 

an echo of overhanging trees 

in shallow pools of rippling glass 


swaying trees drop leaves of gold 

water carries shimmering light  

and golden leaves down rivers of past 

thoughts and reflections 


memories flow down 



and valleys 

changing direction 

and bubbling back up to the surface 


trees of gold 



and on 

— Mika

3.  Maumaharatanga — Sienna



Leaning over the boat and seeing the water flying by 

The smell of the salt and the fresh air  

The sound of  

The water hitting the boat  

The bird cries in the distance 

The taste of the wind  

Swirling over the waters 

The feel of the salt dried on hair in the sun soaked afternoons 

Windows down 

Towels on seats  

The sparkling paradise of the endless ocean  

so inviting yet  

so intimidating 


I look out my window at those same waters 

7 years down the track. 

I look at it and i despise it 

The way it moves, 

The way it feels when the salt and the chill hits your skin. 

The wind whipping my hair into my face  

into unfixable knots anytime i get close 

I choose now to sit inside 

It’s safer  

The windows stay shut 

have not been opened in so long  

it feels unnatural to open them  

The sea stays far away, untouchable 

Washing away the maumaharatanga 

And a part of me with them. 

— Sienna