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31 Mar 2019

Top Waikato poets' works showcased in new anthology

The Waikato might not be an environment that many might believe would inspire works of poetry – but you would be believing wrong, if you did.

The region has produced – or is now home to – a great number of wordsmiths of the poetic form, including former New Zealand Poet Laureate Vincent O’Sullivan, Stephen Oliver, and Bob Orr.

Works by these three and 38 other Waikato poets are featured in Nga Kupu Waikato, the first anthology of Waikato-based or previously Waikato-based poets to have been assembled.

Former New Zealand Poet Laureate Vincent O'Sullivan is among the writers featured in Nga Kupu Waikato.

Former New Zealand Poet Laureate Vincent O’Sullivan is among the writers featured in Nga Kupu Waikato.


The person who did the assembling was another Waikato poet, Vaughan Rapatahana, who devised and edited the tome that will be officially launched at an event at Browsers Quality Secondhand Bookshop in Victoria St, Hamilton, at 4pm on Sunday.

“There is a wide range of styles, kaupapa and, of course, poems are written in te reo Maori and te reo Ingarihi,” Rapatahana said.

“We wanted to include fine poetry by as many Waikato poets as possible. Some poets have more than one poem and there are over 90 pages, as well as an introduction by Dr Mark Houlahan at University of Waikato.

“The Community Grants Scheme Hamilton generously provided some funding, as are the university, while some individual poets also kindly donated too.”

Copies of Nga Kupu Waikato will be available to buy from Browsers on Sunday at $15 per copy, he said.

“After the launch I will make the rounds of other Waikato bookstores … We will probably also have further regional launches in Thames, Rotorua and so on.”

Rapatahana, who is based in Mangakino, employed the talents of his daughter Pauline Canlas Wu to create the cover artwork for the anthology. He was the first poetry editor for MAI Review Journal, an online academic journal specialising in the work of indigenous writers. He also has a PhD in Existential Literature and Philosophy from the University of Auckland and is a member of the New Zealand Poetry Society.

Those attending the launch of Nga Kupu Waikato will have the opportunity to meet some of the participating poets and also hear some of their works being read.


Originally appeared on Stuff.co.nz by Mike Mather