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

Updated on September 13, 2018
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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!

Bird's Eye View - Taramakau

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Braiding through the ValleyComing through the GorgeWeaving across the Plain with Southern Alps to the SouthNearing its mouth on the West Coast
Braiding through the Valley
Braiding through the Valley | Source
Coming through the Gorge
Coming through the Gorge | Source
Weaving across the Plain with Southern Alps to the South
Weaving across the Plain with Southern Alps to the South | Source
Nearing its mouth on the West Coast
Nearing its mouth on the West Coast | Source

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 | Source

Materials: Paua and Pounamu

Paua Shell (Abalone) made into Beautiful Jewellery
Paua Shell (Abalone) made into Beautiful Jewellery | Source
Pounamu or Greenstone (New Zealand Jade)
Pounamu or Greenstone (New Zealand Jade) | Source


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 | Source
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 | Source

What do you know about New Zealand?

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© 2018 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      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.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Gypsy. Glad you enjoyed it.


    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      2 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      A most interesting and fascinating read.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

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


    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 years ago from UK

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

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

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


    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      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.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      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.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      "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!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

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


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      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

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      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!


    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 

      2 years ago from Washington DC

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

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      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 W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      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.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      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 profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      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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