Tāmaki Poems – New Zealand Poetry Society

CALL FOR POEMS – Tāmaki Poems

Press Release for New Zealand Poetry Society 11 August 2020


Tāmaki Poems is a community-generated poetry project, centred on a map of Auckland compiled by Mr Leslie Kelly in 1940. In the lead up to the opening of Tāmaki Herenga Waka – Auckland Stories early next year, our new permanent galleries, writers of all ages and backgrounds from across the city and country are invited to write new poems of place, heritage and identity, and pin them to an online version of a new map.

The Tāmaki Poems project will help Aucklanders to reflect on our cultural identities in one of the most interesting cities in the world to live in.

Tamaki-Makau-Rau: map of the Tamaki isthmus with Māori place names / compiled by Mr Leslie Kelly. G9083.A82

This map showing the isthmus of Auckland was made by Mr Leslie Kelly in 1940. Some of these names still appear in some form in our road signs and place names, many however, have fallen into history. But with a map like this one we can remember the important places, events and people who made Tāmaki Makaurau home for hundreds of years. Auckland in 1940 was a very different place and imagine a hundred years before that in 1840 when the city of Auckland was invented.

Take some time to zoom in and explore the map and locate different places that you’ve visited, worked or played, to gain some understanding of the layers of history that all of us live within. Some of our favourites are Te Routu-o-Ureia (the backscratcher of Ureia), Motu-Ngaengae and Te Ako-o-te-Tūī. Ureia was a powerful taniwha living in Tīkapa Moana o Hauraki (the Hauraki Gulf). Motu Ngaengae is the te Reo Māori name for Watchman Island which you can see from above as you cross the harbour bridge; ngaengae means to be out of breath in te Reo Māori and I’m speculating that the name comes from an attempt of someone in history who swam to the island and arrived there out of breath. Te Ako o te Tūī is the name of a small stream that flows from a puna (a freshwater spring), that we know now as the duck pond next to the Wintergardens. The name comes from the observations of Tūī who would learn (ako) the different trees that lined the stream, when they flowered or fruited, and would travel up and down the stream at different seasons of the year.

What other stories can you see when you investigate this map? Are there some kupu Māori (Māori words) that give clues to a place and its features or history? Some will be obvious, and others will be only known by a few special people. Whatever names you find, let it inspire you to write a poem about this very special place that has many names but that we call home.

Send your poem along with your Name, Age, Poem Title (if any), Poem Location and a contact email or phone number to Elliot at tamakipoems@aucklandmuseum.com

Send your poem as a Word DOC or in the main body text of your email. Please submit the poem as you would like it to appear for readers on a pop-up window over the map i.e. as it appears on the page.

In the future, once we’re live, there will be a direct link to share with all poem submissions which you will receive via email.


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

The boundaries of Auckland are from Wellsford in the North and Pukekohe in the South, Aotea to the East and the Tasman Sea to the West. Remember that Auckland extends out to the Hauraki Gulf and into the Manukau Harbour. Some locations aren’t on our old map but they will feature on the new updated map so don’t let old boundaries guide your new poems.

Your poem can be in any language you choose but because of limited capacity and capability of staffing for this free offering, spelling and grammar checking may not be available and the poem will be uploaded as is.


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 February 2021 and then archived. When geotagging children’s poems to the map, please make sure that the poems contain no identifying details about the individuals or their families.

Some children might want to write poems about their own homes – this is great but 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 their first name only.

Terms and Conditions 

Please remember that this site will be open and available to readers of all ages so keep your language appropriate. The Auckland Museum does reserve the right to censor any language it deems inappropriate for general viewing and by submitting your poem you are agreeing to have your poem adjusted to fit our guidelines.

By submitting your poem, you agree to have your work viewable by anyone who accesses the website as it is in the public domain. Once they are published on the site they are to remain there in perpetuity.

By submitting your poem, you acknowledge that you the author are submitting an original poem and if there has been a copyright infringement, the poem will not be displayed. Fair use requires that written content contains no more than 10% of copywritten work.

The site Tāmaki Poems will be live until February 2021 and after that submissions will be closed and will remain as an online archive for all the world, to reveal how Aucklanders feel, think and write about the place we love.

Please forward any questions and correspondence to: tamakipoems@aucklandmuseum.com

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