Children's writing competition 2018

Congratulations to the winners of our April writing competition, run in conjunction with the Wild Dunedin Festival of Nature. And a big thank you to our judge, Dunedin children’s writer Sandy McKay!

[nb, spelling and grammar in the below is writers’ own]

First Place: Liesel Tolson, age 10, Macandrew Bay School

Judge’s comment: A letter from a hoiho imploring people to see the world from a different point of view. The story had a cute format and showed a good sense of humour.

Hello, I’m a hoiho, you know! Your neighbour the one in the eco-friendly, beachside bach. I know, I’ve never contacted you before. I’m the quiet type and mostly keep myself to myself. However, it’s about high time that I spoke up for myself and wrote this letter of complaint.

Had boisterous types in the neighbourhood before like those sea-lions that treat us like snacks, but you really do take the biscuit. You are the worst neighbour ever!

Not only have your homes and buildings taken over lots of places where we used to hang out, but you noisily tramp through our front gardens with your D.O.G.S. (Dangerous Over-hairy Gobblers of Sealife). Whilst our chicks are trying to sleep. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ve pinched most of the fish from the sea and replaced them with P.L.A.S.T.I.C.S. (Pieces of Lasting Attrocious Silly Toxic Items Cluttering the Sea).

I’m a Hoiho, I implore you to mend your ways and be better neighbours. In return, we promise to boost your economy, attracting tourists by swimming, hopping and walking around being simply fabulous. Now I can’t say fairer than that, can I?

With kind regards

A Hoiho

Second Place: Lauren Gibbens, age 10, Grants Braes Primary

Judge’s comment: Some good description, nice use of dialogue and a good ending.

Hoiho Heartbreak

“Airini, come back!” As Airini’s mother shouted frustratedly from across the bay, Taimana, Airini’s playful golden retriever cross beagle, tugged on her lead. The harsh pull combined with the gusty wind overbalanced Airini, and she fell down the steep, grey boulders to the grainy sand below.

“Be careful Airini!” Her mother scolded as Airini pushed herself up and brushed off the sand clinging to her wavy blond hair. Ignoring her mother, Airini scanned the windblown beach for Taimana.

She located the boisterous golden white puppy sniffing two small rocks close together. Upon closer inspection, something small, with piercing yellow eyes was huddling under the stones. Cautiously, Airini lifted one of the rocks to reveal... A penguin! It’s matted feathers shivered as Taimana started barking. “No! Bad dog!” Airini was sorry she had to tell Taimana off; the amiable puppy was always trying to make friends, but the penguin was obviously scared out of her wits, and Taimana wasn’t helping.

Soon Airini had Taimana under control, and as her mother and her brother Kaihautu raced over, Airini inspected the cowering penguin. A piece of plastic was wrapped around the penguin’s neck. Airini reached down to pick up the frightened bird but her mother exclaimed “Don’t touch the penguin, it could give us a disease!” Airini stepped back, looking crestfallen that she could not help the hoiho.

Her mother called DOC, the local conservation department dedicated to conserving and promoting New Zealand’s environment. Soon a group of young adults came racing along the beach and stopped next to Airini’s family. “Are you the people who called?” A tall man asked politely. “Um...Uh huh” Kaihautu answered. “Good, my name’s James, can you tell me what’s going on?” Airini pointed at the penguin. “Oh, I see.” James nodded. “Amanda?” A blond girl raced off and reappeared carrying some sort of stretcher. Using plastic gloves, James expertly placed the penguin in the penguin stretcher. “Oh, before we go, can I have your details?” Airini’s mother and James started conferring in low voices. After a while, James nodded and exclaimed, “Thank you for notifying us of this, Airini, we will keep you updated on her recovery. I will take care of... what did you name the hoiho?” Airini thought hard for a moment, before replying, “Tumanako. Her name is Tumanako.” “Ah, a fine name. Perhaps her name will bring just that to other Hoiho around New Zealand.” James nodded to Airini’s mother and turned to join his group. As the DOC people left, Kaihautu leaned over to Airini and whispered sheepishly, “What does Tumanako mean in english?” Airini smiled.


Third Place : Ariel Holloway, age 9 (and ¾), St Joseph’s Cathedral School

Judge’s comment: A great description of the hoiho’s day with some interesting use of simile and lovely rhyme.

Finally I have caught my bait, though it was a big weight. A big salmon as pink as rays of the morning sun, it waves its tail desperately but I know I’ve won. I bite down on my food, ate and jumped into a good mood. I waddled up the sandy hill all the way up to the big mill. I bent my feet, lifted my wings and leapt with a full swing. Even though I cannot fly, I was up really high. I slid on my belly down the dunes, waving at my communes. Then I came to the bump over the stump. I few in the air passing over some white maire. I plunged in the sea feeling as if I was being set free. I swam and swam looking at the little clams. The fresh salty water felt glorious as well as victorious. I want to do this every day and sometimes stay longer in the bay. But now it is time to return to my home, so I swim out of the seas foam. Well now you know a Hoiho’s day a yellow eyed penguin, the English would say.