Monday, 5 October 2020

Nature Activity Poems Published


Congratulations to these talented Russley writers, who have had their poems published on Poetry Box

Blake W | Wind
Sam L | Ginko Walk
James DW | Ginko
Anabelle K | extreme ginko walk
Mostafa | I Wonder Why
Esme | Scribbles

Paula Green's Poetry Box challenge was to write a nature poem, inspired by some of the activities in The Nature Activity Book, by Rachel Haydon and Pippa Keel. Paula invited students to explore nature, to listen and look, use their imagination, and take their time writing a poem.

She received hundreds of poems from all over NZ and said it was an exceptionally hard job choosing just a few. 

Paula said, "I loved reading your poems and I can tell you loved writing them. I especially loved the way you went outside and you listened and looked. What a terrific time the students at Russley School had slowing down in the world to look and listen."

"I loved the way some words stayed with me all day. I loved the way Esme ended her poem with a pencil scribbling!"

Paula Green chose Blake's poem, Wind, as one of her favourites and he will receive his own copy of the The Nature Activity Book. Congratulations, Blake!

I Wonder Why
In front of the library filled with books 
mysteries and adventures
a warning 
COVID-19 poster
the bare oak tree stretches its branches to reach the sky
soft breeze cools me down 
a flock of house sparrows chirp gracefully  
delicate flowers shine in the sun
and I wonder
why the sky 
is such a very bright blue?

- Mostafa Elnahas | 9 years old | year 5

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Nature Poems

Enjoy these two beautiful poems from our Team Moana writers, inspired by a ginko (poetry walk) around our school grounds.

Slowing down time...

I inhale the sweet scent of jasmine,

the strong vanilla aroma of the ponderosa pines,

and the tangy smell of willow after a rainstorm

I glance up to see the sage green leaves 

of the fast growing poplar,

and twittering kākāriki perching on evergreens

Carefully, I listen for kākā,

but find only the raspy chatter of magpies

as they scramble across bewitching magenta

trailing the petals,

I find a lane of fuchsia cherry blossoms

A kōwhai,

symbol of power and authority,

looms overhead at the end of the lane,

sturdy and dominating

I gaze, 

dazed as the scarce monarch 

flits between cherry blossoms

apricot wings slowly unfurling 

as they rest on dew covered blossoms,

slowing down time

Akhila Sharma | Year 8


sky surrounds me like a cage

slowly consuming me

i am mesmerized by the silk-like clouds

with ripples like lake taupō on a summer day

to my left, is a sheet of imitating clouds


waves of white cotton candy blocks out the burning sunlight

the sound of crunching pebbles 

and whistling leaves in the wind follows me like a shadow 

but as night falls, 

all shadows disappear

and the clouds dissolve into the dark abyss

By Jay Poole | Year 8

Friday, 18 September 2020

Lockdown Voices - Now Live!

It was very exciting to attend the launch of the Lockdown Voices 2020 at  Tūranga this evening.

Bryn and Milla bravely took the stage to read their poems to the crowd. They did a wonderful job, and truly did Russley School proud.

You can hear their poems as podcasts on the links below, along with poems from Emma C and Lukas D. Their work will be broadcast on Plains FM Radio over the next few Saturday mornings. (Scroll down for the broadcasting schedule).

Bryn Devonald - How NOT to Wash Hands During Covid-19

Emma Cox - My Grandad's Spectacular 73rd Birthday

Lukas De Wit - How NOT to do a Zoom Meeting

Milla Ydgren - Ode to the Supermarket D.J.

and past-Russley-pupil, Monica Koster - Standing at Dawn.

Not only are these students published authors, but they are also recording artists. Thanks to Plains FM 96.9 their voices will be heard on the radio.  Tune in to listen here. They will be broadcast on the following dates:

Lockdown Voices – 1 – Saturday 19 September at 9am 

Lockdown Voices – 2 – Saturday 26 September at 9am

Lockdown Voices – 3 – Saturday 3 October at 9am

Plains FM will also repeat these broadcasts several times for different audiences.

Episode 1 includes: Monica & Milla

Episode 2 includes: Emma & Lukas

Episode 3 includes: Bryn

Congratulations to all our talented authors!

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Inspired by Nature

 Ginko:  a Japanese word meaning a walk taken with the purpose of writing a haiku poem

Our walk around the Russley School grounds was great inspiration for some nature-themed poetry. We decided to write free-verse poems as an artistic expression of our response to our environment. We love free-verse poetry, as it gives us permission to break all the rules. We can choose the words, sounds, shape and form we want to convey our thoughts to the reader. We are not confined to following a particular pattern, syllable or word count or number of lines. We can make it up as we go along. We don't even have to use full stops or capital letters. Our line breaks and stanzas (verses) help the reader know when to pause and take a breath, like punctuation.

Look for the poetic language we've used to create vivid images; similes and metaphors, strong verbs, specific nouns and senses such as sound.

Nature poem 


Pastel yellow of a sunflower 

The freeze of the cold breeze

Roses bloom with joy 

Spiky thorns prick like needles 

Iceberg of fresh air whips my bare legs

Sky high trees sway like wind chimes 


Tiny ant runs on the slippery grass 

A nest balances on a thin branch 

I wonder 

why do birds chirp

chirp away?

  • By Morgan Campbell | age 9 yrs | year 5

I Wonder Why


In front of the library filled with books 

mysteries and adventures

a warning 

COVID-19 poster

the bare oak tree stretches its branches to reach the sky

soft breeze cools me down 

a flock of house sparrows chirp gracefully  

delicate flowers shine in the sun

and I wonder

why the sky 

is such a very bright blue?

  • By Mostafa Elnahas | 9 years old | year 5


Wind so shivering cold

I pull down my sleeves

until they cover my hands

The NZ flag flies awkwardly 

grasps the pole like a sail on a boat

A small rock in my shoe

pokes my foot hurting my heel 

A  fabulous fragile yellow nemesia

drops its petals

My red, sharp WARWICK pencil scribbles

adjectives and verbs

  • By Esme Stalker/10yrs/year 5

Monday, 7 September 2020

Colouring our World with Poems

Poet: Beau

Our Russley Writers have been exploring colour. They each created a poem which celebrates a colour of their choosing and entered the Poetry Box Challenge. Author Paula Green congratulated all our students who submitted their writing. She said, 'Your choice of words made colours come alive, your poems were full of movement and zest. I really liked the pictures that grew in my head as I read. I especially liked the way they all flowed so beautifully. So many standout lines and images. Brilliant!'

Paula received hundreds of submissions from schools all over NZ and has chosen some of her favourites to publish on the Poetry Box website. Twelve students from Russley School have had their poems selected. 

Special mention to Beau Twidle, who Paula chose as one of her top three favourites overall! Beau wrote a fabulous poem about black and has received a copy of Paula Green's book, 'Groovy Fish' as a prize. Congratulations Beau, and to the other published poets:

Beau T 
Esme S
Evrin M-T
Morgan C
Madeleine H
Jay P
Akhila S
Joseph S
James DW
Isaac E
Henry P
Oliver P

Here is Beau's poem:


night covering penwood street
ants running across the dirt
a sleuth of bears sleeping
a box of old fashioned telephones
a patrol unit of arrows flying at the target
a bundle of cables, like snakes

by Beau Twidle | Year 5

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Lockdown Voices Launch!


We are so excited to have FOUR Russley students sharing their amazing poetry in this special project.

Emma Cox
Bryn Devonald
Lukas De Wit
Milla Ydgren

Their poems were selected for the Lockdown Voices Project and have been recorded as podcasts for Plains FM. The launch is on Friday 18th September 5pm-6pm at Tūranga. If you're interested in attending and showing your support for our students, please rsvp to or talk to Mrs Koster for more information.

Friday, 21 August 2020

Unleash the Power of Poetry

Enjoy these poems from our Russley Writers... inspired by Apirana Taylor's poem, Haka.

Here is Apirana Taylor's poem...


When I hear laughter
I feel it in my veins 
and in my heart 
it spreads like a song 
it makes my smile grow
it is the yodel of a young girl
the grin of a mischievous pixie
a bag of peppermints
and the joy of life
it is the crisp of leaves
hee hee hee

By Madeleine Hicks | 13yrs | Year 8

Rain in the Night | Sienna Burgess | 12 years | Year 8

when i hear rain in the night
i feel the pitter patter sing me off to sleep
the rhythm tapping into my bones.
breaking the deadly silence
making the endless skies pour with emotion
it is the lullaby of the sky 
the song of the owl
and musicall of the darkness
it is a puddle maker
a mood shaker
pitter patter pitter patter on and on

Forest Wind | By Abby Brown | 12yrs | Year 8 

when i hear the wind 
i feel it in my stomach
and my lungs
the song of the trees
flutters through the woods
it makes my toes curl
and my shoulders tense
it is the dancing of the leaves
the forest breathing
and the birds voice
it is sky's calling

Whooshing wind | by Morgan Campbell | age 9yrs | Year 5

When I hear the rushing wind
Smack my bedroom wall
I feel it  down my spine
the cold breeze hits me
through my open window

It makes me shiver and shake
I hide my head under my covers
It is a screeching laughing owl
a sneaky thief
and a smooth flute
It is a spooky spirit
shhh shhh shhh

Rain Falling | by Millie Sutton | Awa Nui

When I hear... the rain falling from the sky
I feel it...rushing down my body
It makes...a shiver down my spine

It is needles and nails
and Lego clicking together
It is tinfoil crackling

Click click click clap

When I hear the soccer ball crashing | by Annabelle Kang | Team Roto

When I hear the soccer ball crashing
into my mums makeup
I feel my heart beat faster
 than sprinting in cross country
It makes my lips clutch together
it is my mum wagging her finger
and a dinner without dessert
It is the end of my precious young life

When I hear the Sound of a Rumbling Car | by Finn Beedie | Team Roto

When I hear the sound of a rumbling car engine 
my eyes light up
I feel it in veins
It makes my heart beat rapidly
It is so loud that I almost have a heart attack
It is a lion roaring
It is a heavy metal bands concert
It is godzilla stomping

CRACK! | by James De Wit | Team Roto

when i hear the crack of my mum’s vase
i feel goosebumps racing
up my body like cockroaches
it makes me crouch
ready to run
my muscles tense
my heart pumps  
it is no ipad time
and a stern telling off
it is a shaking fist

Gong | by Oliver Peters | Team Roto

when i hear the gong,
i feel it in my veins
it makes the hairs
on the back of my neck bristle
and my eyes flash
it is a rising, scaley cobra
it is war ending
it is a japanese warrior
and lightning flashing

Earthquake! | by Samuel Li | Team Roto

when i hear the earthquake
i feel it in my nerves
it makes my mouth open
and my hands sweat
it is the crack of mountains
and the roads dividing
into a massive choco bar  
it is the water rising
it is a close call

drop, cover, hold!  

Here is a video from way back in 2014, when Russley School hosted a National Poetry Tour. We had some famous writers such as Paula Green, Bill Nagelkerke and Gavin Bishop join us... and some of our students performed some poems by NZ authors.

Go to 12.02 and watch our students perform their version of the poem Haka by Apirana Taylor. A very stirring performance!

Happy National Poetry Day!

21 August is National Poetry Day. A great time to celebrate all the awesome poetry being created at Russley School by our very talented writers.

Here are some spoken word poems from our clever Team Roto writers:

Red Room Poetry Object Results!


Congratulations to Kayla and Milla! 

Achieving two out of the four placings in this prestigious competition is incredible!

Monday, 17 August 2020

We Went on a Ginkgo

 A ginkgo walk is a nature walk traditionally used to help you write haiku. You can go alone, or in a group with other poets, and look for inspiration to write. Haiku were originally written about nature, but today modern haiku poets are finding inspiration everywhere. 

Regardless of what genre you are writing, a ginkgo walk can be a great way to connect with nature and the world around you, and be inspired to write something… anything! Even if you only end up with one line of a poem, an interesting description or an original simile, then it is worthwhile.

Take a notebook or scrap of paper and pencil, and go for a walk. Feel the sunshine, the air, listen to the sounds around you. Notice the big things like sky, clouds, trees… and look for the small things like bugs, ants, leaves. Make some notes. Write a list. Take some photos. After your walk, try using one or two of your notes or images to inspire a poem, description or story.

Here are some photos of our Team Roto Writing Group on a ginkgo.

We went on a hunt for interesting things to put in our poems... a sort of a scavenger hunt for words. We looked for something small, something big, something moving, something changing, something surprising, something red, something that made us wonder.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Top Outdoor Spot 2020 | 2nd Place


Oliver Peters | 2nd Place
Top Outdoor Spot 2020 (despite the misprint on the certificate!)

Last term, our writers composed poems for the Top Outdoor Spot Competition, run by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission | Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa. Their writing celebrated favourite outdoor locations around Aotearoa. Three of our students were shortlisted in the competition:

Bryn Devonald | Rapaki Track
Rani Sharma | Wanaka
Oliver Peters | Okains Bay

Year 4 student Oliver Peters was awarded second place overall, which was an outstanding achievement, considering the competition was open to students in years 4 to 8 throughout New Zealand.

Oliver received his prize today, courtesy of the NZ Walking Access Commission and Kiwi Camping. Congratulations Oliver!

Okains Bay

As we drive to our very special place,
playing car cricket, doing lots of arguing
my palms are sweating, ears toasting
I put my head out the window and feel the fresh breeze

We drive into the campground and find the perfect spot,
pitch our tent in the finest of sand,
under the shade of a huge Tōtara.

I slip on my jandals, with a rubbery touch,
run to the lagoon, dashing across spiky stones,
slowly followed by my parents and brothers,
we dash to the ocean’s edge.

The water is cold and creamy,
its waves have a lovely curl,
it moves so quickly like a wild pig being chased by ferocious owners.

The lagoon makes a cold splash when I jump in,
dive bombing from a nearby ledge,
my toes and fingers old and numb,
I safely swim to the shore.

The adults are playing cricket,
up on the beach 
the ball rolls through the air with speed, hit by Uncle Fred
and lands in the sea, fetched by other children.

Sweeping over rocks, the tide is like a prowling cat,
pulling away sticks, stones and driftwood,
we’re heading for the shore.

We take a break from swimming,
and walk along a large track on the hills,
hidden behind harakeke and wind grass

Okains Bay is home to pīwakawaka, kererū and kingfisher,
chasing each other around the dense pine forest,
it contains memories I will never forget,
camping, rafting, nature walks,
with my friends and family.

As we pack up our tent, barbeque and boogie boards
I reflect on our wonderful time in this amazing bay,
even though we are all sunburnt, worn out and covered in mosquito bites,
I will never forget this mind blowing place!

Oliver Peters | Year 4 | age 9yrs

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Announcing the arrival of Toitoi #20!

 It was so exciting to receive our copies of the latest Toitoi journal, number 20. We are delighted to see mahi from FIVE Russley students published! 

Congratulations to the following published authors and illustrator:

  • Shona Beedie | poem | 'Space Beast'
  • Henry Peters | non fiction | 'Fabulous Sea Turtles'
  • Micaiah Veer | poem | 'Fort of Feathers'
  • Ruby Jones Johnston | illustration | 'Junk Drawer'
  • Isaac Elkins | article | 'Interview with my Grandad, John Stalker, 73 Years Old'

Here are some photos of proud authors, Isaac and Henry, with their copies of Toitoi.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Published Authors and Illustrator in the Making

We have much to celebrate at Russley School - so many gifted creatives doing their thing!

Our latest most awesome success is that three of our students are to be published in the next issue of the Toitoi journal.

Hollie Anderson's poem titled 'Ollie the Cat' and Oliver Peters' poem titled 'Travelling' have both been accepted for publication in Toitoi 21. Talented student artist Benson Lee has been asked to be an illustrator for this issue of the journal. I can't wait to see what he comes up with!

Congratulations to these three hard working students, this success is well deserved!

Benson's sample illustration, submitted to Toitoi.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Second Place in Top Spot Competition!

More awesome news! The final results are in for the Top Outdoor Spot Competition...

Drumroll please...

Oliver Peters (Roto), has won 2nd prize!

This is an awesome achievement, as the competition was open to students all over New Zealand.

Second prize is, courtesy of Kiwi Camping: an event chair, emergency poncho, Kubb game, towelling hat and bird stickers, and from Skellerup: Red Band gumboots.

Congratulations, Oliver!

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Red Room Poetry Object Shortlist!

I am thrilled to announce that from over 2,200 submissions, Russley School have NINE students shortlisted in this prestigious Australian competition.

Congratulations to:

Oliver Peters | My Special Shell
Willow Rentoul | Hottie, My Toy
Bryn Devonald | Karate Trophy
Milla Ydgren | Nana's Opal Ring
Kayla Raadgever | Silver Owl
Olivia Whitelock | Caramel
Hollie Anderson | My Pounamu Necklace
Michaela Everest | Seal
Sophie Hoglund | Mother of Pearl

This means these talented writers are in the running to win some exciting prizes, including mentoring with a professional poet and more. Their poems have been published on the Object Poetry Shortlisted Poets webpage.

The winners will be announced online on Thursday 20 August, so keep an eye on the Russley Writers'  blog.

You can read their poems on the Red Room Poetry website here:

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Celebrate Matariki 2020

Some of our writers have been busy crafting poems about Matariki. The following students have had their poetry published on the Christchurch City Library Canterbury Stories, digital heritage repository.

Well done to Bryn, James, Alice, Samuel, Oliver, Amber, Isaac, Milla and Emma.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Writers Shortlisted for Top Spot Competition

Last term, our writers composed poems for the Top Spot Poetry Competition, run by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission | Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa. Their writing celebrated favourite outdoor locations around Aotearoa. The competition was open to students in years 4 to 8, throughout New Zealand.

I am delighted to announce that three of our students have been shortlisted in the competition.

Congratulations to:

Bryn Devonald | Rapaki Track
Rani Sharma | Wanaka
Oliver Peters | Okains Bay

The shortlisted entries are currently being judged by the Walking Access Commission board and final results will be announced in a few weeks.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

National Flash Fiction Day Results

National Flash Fiction Day New Zealand | Because life is short ...

Results have been announced for the New Zealand Flash Fiction Competition 2020. So very proud to have TWO Russley Writers' Club students in the Longlist. This is a fantastic achievement, as the competition was international - as you can see by the results list, there were writers from the United States, South Korea and Germany!

Congratulations to Reuben and Micaiah!