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Poems for May 2018: New Zealand's South Island; 1 Poem; Taramakau River; Māori Art, Paua and Greenstone


Ann loves to write poetry and stories. Current poetry on Nature, Travel & beyond, including varied poetic structures.

Taramakau - Braided River

Although we had been across the mouth of this river, further up on the west coast, the best view ever was experienced from the plane as we left New Zealand. Our flight followed the river’s course from part way across Arthur’s Pass to the sea, above the northern edge of the Southern Alps. I was riveted. The pattern of this ‘braided’ river is unlike anything I have ever seen before. I understand now how the Maori people used patterns from the landscape in their art, for if you stood atop any of these mountains and looked down on a river, you would see part of nature’s intricate tapestry.

Course of Taramakau River

Taramakau River

Source in Southern Alps, guardians of the south-west coast,

majestic in their snow-cragged sleeping caps, grey ridged coats.

Taramakau weaves its thread down to shale bed then it squeezes

through a gorge to re-emerge this time on wider shale, and teases

the eye, braiding through as turquoise ribbon on grey base,

following the dark greywacke guide to reach the sea’s strong race.

Braid consolidates shore to shore, firmly patterning the shale,

tapestry to feast the eyes from above, fixing ancient design, dark-pale.

What wondrous fabric is discovered, only from above, on high!

Look down humbly, your heart will soar, make your senses fly.

Just a river you say? Rather a liquid landscape, nature’s best,

inspiring all who dare to aim, to find the ultimate, flowing, artistic fest.

Woven scarf laid over schist, fluttering tatters reach from the slopes,

pouring their fresh, sparkling turquoise to refresh our eyes and hopes.

Taramakau! Wander, weave and wrench the mind, tearing it apart;

challenge imagination with your wild, living, natural art!

More about The Taramakau

  • Its source is 80 km east of Hokitika (a small town on the west coast).
  • Several small rivers are tributaries of the Taramakau, the main one being the Otira River, the valley of which forms the western approach to Arthur’s Pass.
  • The river mouth is on the west coast just south of Greymouth.
  • ‘Braided’ refers to the way the river meanders through the river bed, seeming to form a plaited pattern among the stones and shallow banks.


Not only does this river inspire poetry but also fiction and many forms of art. The patterns are endless.

The braiding of the water: it looks just like a woven tapestry as it knits one shore to the other.

The river's banks: they broaden, then narrow, with an occasional island in the middle, foliated or not. Off-shoots adorn the adjacent land, looking like wisps of material that have been torn off the main strip.

Turquoise waters: where does that colour come from? It's not merely the reflection of the sky. There is a quality in the schist of the river-bed that refracts the light and cools your eye with this surprising clarity and depth of hue.

It is a living, flowing, ever-changing natural work of art that cannot fail to make one ponder on the mysteries and glories of this world.

It is typical of the nature that inspires so much of New Zealand's art.

Māori Art

'Art is and has always been an integral component of Māori culture. Traditional Māori art was created using materials available at the time, such as wood, bone, pounamu (jade or greenstone), paua (abalone) shell, flax and feathers. More variety of materials are used today, though many artists continue to use the traditional materials.

Māori visual art consists primarily of four forms: carving, tattooing, weaving, and painting. Symbolic pattern-making and geometric design feature in their art.

The colours black, red and white feature strongly in Māori art. Red is a symbol of ‘mana’ (prestige, power, status) and is therefore often used in the decoration of important items such as the buildings and structures around a ‘marae’ (courtyard where formal greetings and discussions take place) and ‘waka’ (canoes).'

Māoris often wear a piece of greenstone round their necks on a traditional black thread, as in the photo. The greenstone can be highly polished and is often expensive in the many specialist shops, or pieces found on the beach are tumbled and made into jewellery by locals. The latter are sold on the beach and in the street for around 5-10 dollars (price in 2018). You can see an example of each in the photo.

Wood Carving

Modern Wood Carving in Traditional Style

Modern Wood Carving in Traditional Style

Materials: Paua and Pounamu

Paua Shell (Abalone) made into Beautiful Jewellery

Paua Shell (Abalone) made into Beautiful Jewellery

Pounamu or Greenstone (New Zealand Jade)

Pounamu or Greenstone (New Zealand Jade)


Still with a view of the Taramakau and looking out over the Southern Alps to the south, I took my fill of this panarama, this unspoilt savage mountain terrain behind the plain. My heart ached to leave; I believe there is little else which can surpass what nature has created here, at least nothing that I have seen in my, albeit limited, travels.

Sadly, this was probably the last time I would visit. However, I'm privileged to have been able to experience first hand this beautiful land, its people and its culture. My treasured memories keep it alive in my soul.

Arthur's Pass and Goodbye to New Zealand

River one end of the Gorge in Arthur's Pass

River one end of the Gorge in Arthur's Pass

Last look across the Southern Alps to Mt Cook and down to the braided river, flying out of New Zealand

Last look across the Southern Alps to Mt Cook and down to the braided river, flying out of New Zealand




What do you know about New Zealand?

Visiting New Zealand

© 2018 Ann Carr


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 11, 2018:

I didn't know that, Lawrence, so I'm glad it was given to me by my daughter, in a roundabout way (she gave me the dollars to buy her Christmas present to me whilst I was there).

The South Island is worth spending loads of time in, as it's so varied and just as spectacular as the North, though in different ways. I love New Zealand and all its wonders.

Thank you for reading and leaving your valuable input. Glad you enjoyed this.


Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on June 11, 2018:


This was wonderful, loved it.

According to Maori custom, Greenstone should always be given (you buy it for someone) as its also a symbol of friendship.

I live in the North Island and have only been to the South Island once.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 19, 2018:

Thank you, Gypsy. Glad you enjoyed it.


Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on May 19, 2018:

A most interesting and fascinating read.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 18, 2018:

Thank you very much, Liz. Your visit is much appreciated.


Liz Westwood from UK on May 17, 2018:

I love the way you write such varied and informative articles. There's something for everyone here.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 16, 2018:

Thank you so much, Carherine. You have described exactly what I was trying to do so I'm thrilled!

I know I must be doing something right when a writer of your calibre is complimentary.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 16, 2018:

Nature can get you like that sometimes, Eric! Thank you for your comment and interesting input as always.


Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on May 16, 2018:

I loved your poem, especially your use of images--the rive is a thread, a ribbon, a scarf. Your flowing cadences also reflect a river. You described the river wonderfully and evoked the mood so well.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 16, 2018:

Excuse me as I come back to my little reality. You took me to a different one. My sisters took on Canadian personas so they could work in New Zealand for a bit. They are quite stuffy about folk out of the commonwealth.

You paint a picture of a river. My brother actually thinks that "his" river is the manifestation of God.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 16, 2018:

Thank you, Dora. I'm always pleased when you like specific parts of my work and so happy that you enjoyed this trip. It's a valued compliment from a writer as good as you. Thank you for your continued encouragement.


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 16, 2018:

"Liquid landscape, nature’s best." I like that and the fact that you see the various shades of colors in the river. You're a true poet. Thanks for taking us n the trip and also giving us a view of the intricate Māori art. Good read!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 16, 2018:

Thank you, Linda. It is a beautiful country. If you can visit relatives then take the opportunity as soon as possible; you won't be disappointed!


Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 15, 2018:

You've shared a very interesting poem and some lovely photos, Ann. I would love to visit New Zealand. Some of my relatives live there, so I have another reason for visiting the country besides its beauty. Thank you for sharing all of the information.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 15, 2018:

Frank, you spoil me with your kind comments. Thank you very much. I couldn't believe how amazing this river looked from the air; I don't enjoy flying but it does have its compensations!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 15, 2018:

Always a pleasure to take you on a tour, bill! Glad you enjoy the scenery. Wouldn't it be good if we could actually travel by somehow just transporting ourselves in a second to any place we fancy?

Have had a terrific Tuesday in the sun (it's been out for more than 2 days!!), ending up at my younger daughter's where I shall be for 3 days. Lovely!

May your week be filled with wonder and wisdom!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 15, 2018:

Hello Elijah. Thank you for your visit and kind comments. Glad you enjoyed this.


Frank Atanacio from Shelton on May 15, 2018:

You give New Zealand and the South Island Taramakua river et al... justice.. your poetry favors the information you provide.. Ann you are standing tallest these days in poetry writing... bless you

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 15, 2018:

This is such a great deal! I get to travel to New Zealand for free. I don't even have to endure the long flight. I just hitch a ride in your traveling bag and silently enjoy it all from the comforts of my writing studio. It is so nice of you, Ann, to allow me free passage. Thank you dear friend.

Wishing you a Ruby Tuesday!


Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on May 15, 2018:

More history set in that "Down Under" to us setting very well presented and full of interest and suspense. Thanks for it.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 15, 2018:

Thank you Peggy. Yes, the people are welcoming. We have family and friends there and we've always had a brilliant time out and about.

Good to see you today.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 15, 2018:

Hello Mary. Yes I can understand that; it is far away from everywhere else, apart from just 3 hours from Australia of course. The other thing that puts me off is the earthquakes!

Thanks for popping by; much appreciated.


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2018:

Some friends of ours have visited New Zealand and raved about not only its beauty but the friendliness of the residents who call it home. Thanks for writing this interesting article with us.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 14, 2018:

We used to go to New Zealand and we even thought of getting a place there. The beauty encouraged us so much but the isolation stopped us from doing it.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 14, 2018:

Thank you very much, Flourish. Glad to have given you the urge to go to NZ.

Yes, Paua is extremely pretty; there are many variations of those colours and obviously no two are the same.

Good to see you - thanks for the visit.


FlourishAnyway from USA on May 14, 2018:

Not only was your poem remarkable but also that Paua shell necklace. I’ve never been there but now want to venture there.

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