Tāmaki Poems



You can write about anything you like, and you can use your unpublished poems but make sure you include at least one place name or place marker in Auckland in your poem. This can be a suburb, and street name, the name of a building or a park even a river or motorway. If this poem doesn’t include a location in Auckland, make sure you have an idea of where it can be location tagged on our map.

The boundaries of Auckland are from Wellsford in the North and Pukekohe in the South and everything in between. Remember that Auckland extends out to the Hauraki Gulf and into the Manukau harbour. Some features aren’t on this map, but they will feature on the border.



All the poems pinned to the online Tāmaki Poems map will be accessible to visitors from all over the world.

The site will be live until December 2020 and then archived but still available for viewing. When pinning children’s poems to the map, please make sure that the poems contain no identifying details about their identities. Some children might want to write poems about their own houses – please make sure that they are not pinned directly to the specific point on the map, just keep it to the neighbourhood.

All poems can be submitted anonymously or with a pseudonym if desired. In the case of under 18s who list poems, please ensure they use a pseudonym or their first name only.

Check out these ideas to get your creativity going


Younger children will need an adult’s help with the writing ideas; confident older readers can work through them by themselves.



Let’s begin with our imagination. If you could go anywhere, where would you go? The top of the Sky Tower or the bottom of Lake Pupuke? What about a stormwater drainpipe? Where does that go and where does it end up? If you could rearrange Auckland what would it look like?



Let’s write a poem about a place we know. A great poem can inspire you to write one of your own with a similar shape and style. Find a favourite poem and replace different places and words for your own. Try and replace every word so that in the end you have a completely new poem.



Think of a place you spend lots of time in. It could be a place you are very familiar with like your house or a place you go to quite often like the diary or a local park or maybe a place you’ve come to only recently. On a large sheet of paper make notes about this place, the colours, the smells, the tastes, the sounds. Write down what you do when you are there and how it makes you feel. This should be a messy scribble page with just words and squiggles.


Begin your poem with the line: There is a place I know very well…


All of a sudden, your bedroom might become a very exciting place to be.



You can write a poem about a special historical site.

Is it somewhere near where you live, or far away? Think of someone special you might want to invite to go with you to this place – a friend, a parent, a teacher maybe? It doesn’t matter if this person can’t really be there, you can bring them with you in your poem.

Decide on the place you want to visit with your special person, then spend some time gathering information about that place.

Where can you find out information about this place? You could look online, in a book, or talk to people. Look for poem clues: Where is it? What does it look like? What is it called? How did it get its name? What is its history? What was it once used for? Why is it interesting to you?

People might have lived and worked there, or it might have been the home of creatures long since extinct, like dinosaurs. Try to imagine yourself and your special person being part of that history.

Make a messy mind map. Remember to include words that describe smells, tastes, sounds and colours, textures, weather, terrain and how it feels to be there. Use your words and research to inspire a poem that tells the story of this place and the time you spent there.

It’s time to plan your adventure.



Names are generally given to places by the people who first lived there or by an event that happened there, and these names can carry a lot of backstory and meaning and can provide valuable clues about the place and the people who lived there.

Look to the map compiled by Mr Leslie Kelly in 1940 for clues. Do they have an English and Māori name? Is there someone special who lived there?



Is there a local language or custom that only takes place where you live? Why is it different or unique to where you live? Is there a local figure or famous landmark that everyone knows about?

Write a poem using words from your own dialect, language or culture as stepping stones in your poem.

Remember that different languages hold different ways of describing things so celebrate that difference. Translation of language often fails to give a true meaning but sometimes even the attempt can reveal something special about each language.  

Is there a particular rhythm, style or shape to your poem because it is not in English?

Imagine each word or term is like a label on a drawer for you to open and look inside, which will reveal something hidden about the place and the people it comes from.



Encountering people from places and cultures other than ours, especially if we know nothing about their heritage or history, helps us search for the common ground between us and champion what’s unique.

It would be a very boring world if we were all the same.

Can you describe what you hear when your neighbours over the fence talk to each other? Is there something special about how they celebrate or mourn? What does this look, smell, sound like? Is there something musical or poetic about the sounds you hear?

Remember that when you’re describing others, make sure you put yourself in their shoes and think about how they’d feel reading your poem.


Get writing!