Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Vaughan Rapatahana’s ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’


Aotearoa New Zealand


‘Kotahi ano te kōhao o te ngira 

E kuhuna ai te miro ma te miro whero me te miro pango ‘

– Pōtatau Te Wherowhero

]There is but one eye of the needle,

Through which the white, red and black threads must pass.]


ko Aotearoa te ingoa o tēnei whenua ātaahua.

land of the long white cloud for many

nestling in a sea of verdant green,

surrounded by a brilliant blue ocean

& where the All Blacks often reign.


yet of course New Zealand

is also the name of these islands

some say that maybe –

with our increasingly multi-cultural crew

Pākehā, Māori, Asian, Pasifika –

it is time for a new name,

stressing our interconnections?

after all, we are rowing together

in this waka nowadays

heading in the right direction –

learning how we can all work closely

to include, as well as to respect, all our

sometimes confusing cultural credos

and to kōrero together in spite of them

in a continuous talanoa.




ni hao 

talofa lava 

tēnā koe  


malo e lelei

as-salam alaykom


different, yes and yet, respecting this diversity,

this contrasting, this sometime conflicting mix,

where Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the foundation document,

where journalism has flourished for well over 150 years

with upfront news & freedom of views

in the two key tongues, te reo Māori rāua ko te reo Ingarihi,

& Hindi is now the fourth most spoken language – namaste!

together we can connect and thrive.


āe ko Aotearoa te ingoa

throughout both North and South

we are birds singing several different waiata

tui, takahē, kōkako, kiwi

striving to make one mighty nest;

our own place for all –

one of a kind, the very rare huia,

a heaven on earth.

pristine air; clean water; prime food,

scenic vistas second to none,

what else could anyone want?


āe, ko Aotearoa te ingoa

let’s be thankful about who we are

& what we have –

the sense of fair play

the spirit of helping those in need,

sharing & supporting

including one and all.


thank you my friends 

kia ora taku hoa  

fa’afetai outou o a’u uo 

xie xie wo peng-youmen

salamat po mga kaibigan

shukraan lakum ‘asdiqayiy


there is so much to celebrate

in this lengthy land,

tō mātou whenua tino waimarie

& we should all be proud.


Vaughan Rapatahana

from ngā whakamatuatanga / interludes  (cyberwit, 2019)





A poet, novelist, teacher, critic, translator and editor, Vaughan Rapatahana, Te Ātiawa, commutes between homes in Hong Kong, Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. He is widely published across several genres, in multiple countries, in both his main languages, te reo Māori and English, and his work has been translated into Bahasa Melayu (Malay), Italian, French, Mandarin.

In 2019, he published five books, participated in World Poetry Recital Night, Kuala Lumpur and Poetry International at London’s South Bank Centre and in the launch of Poems from the Edge of Extinction and in Incendiary Art: the power of disruptive poetry. His poem tahi kupu anake included in the presentation by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas to the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva in November 2019. His PhD thesis from the University of Auckland is on Colin Wilson and subsequently published a collected works about Wilson,  More than the Existentialist Outsider (Paupers Press, Nottingham, UK, 2019.)

His latest poetry collection ngā whakamatuatanga/interludes was published by Cyberwit, Allahabad, 2019) and Aotearoa New Zealand. Atonement (University of Santo Tomas Press, Manila) was nominated for a National Book Award in Philippines (2016). He writes a series of commentaries pertaining to Aotearoa New Zealand poetry for Jacket 2 (University of Pennsylvania, USA): a 2015–2016 series and again during 2018-2019.

His poetry teaching resources have been published in Hong Kong SAR, Brunei Darussalam, Australia, and New Zealand, including the first bilingual (Māori and English) such resource in 2011, Teaching Poetry. In 2019, book three of the series Poetry in Multicultural Oceania has been published by Essential Resources, Christchurch, New Zealand – with a new resource Exploring Multicultural Poetry for younger students due at the end of 2019.

Rapatahana will be participating in The Foundation and Cultural Organization International Academy Orient-Occident. Curtea de Argeş, Romania in July 2020.

Rapatahana is one of the few World authors who consistently writes in and is published in te reo Māori – in all of his books and also poetry publications in Aotearoa NZ (for example, Mayhem, Poetry New Zealand, takahē), USA (Antipodes), Canada (The Capilano Review), Australia (Meniscus), U.K. and so on. It is his mission to continue to do so and to push for a far wider recognition of the need to write and to be published in this tongue.

His New Zealand Book Council Writers File




1 thought on “Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Vaughan Rapatahana’s ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’

  1. Pingback: Poetry Shelf review: Vaughan Rapatahana’s ngā whakamatuatanga / interludes | NZ Poetry Shelf

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