News | 25 August 2022
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Librarians vote for favourite New Zealand poem to celebrate National Poetry Day

Wellington City librarians have nominated Hone Tuwhare’s “Rain” as their favourite New Zealand poem in a poll to celebrate National Poetry Day tomorrow (Friday 26 August).

Poet Hone Tuwhare in front of house credit Tuwhare Trust
Poet Hone Tuwhare credit Tuwhare Trust

The haunting, evocative composition by one of New Zealand’s most distinguished poets was the runaway favourite of librarians who operate the 14 library branches across Wellington City.


National Poetry Day is a countrywide celebration of poetry, dedicated to showcasing and discovering New Zealand poets, sharing poetry, and experiencing the joy of the written and spoken word. Wellington City Libraries are marking the day with a poetry recital by Rogelio Guedea in Johnsonville Library at Waitohi hub.    

Number one: “Rain” by Hone Tuwhare

The poem “Rain” can be found in “Twelve Poems” by Hone Tuwhare (1922 – 2008), which was published by Otakou Press in 2007. The publication is available in the collections of Wellington City Libraries. A favourite for all ages, Tuwhare’s poem famously concludes with the memorable lines:


“But if I should not
smell or feel or see you

You would still
define me
disperse me
wash over me


Top five favourite New Zealand poems

*survey of Wellington City librarians

1) ‘Rain’ by Hone Tuwhare

2) ‘On the building site for a new library’ by JC Sturm

3) ‘The Māori Jesus’ by James K. Baxter

4) ‘The Magpies’ by Denis Glover

5) ‘Pyramid Scheme’ by Hera Lyndsay Bird

All these poems can be read in publications available in the Wellington City Libraries collections.

Poetry – inspiring knowledge and human values

Laurinda Thomas, Manager Libraries & Community Spaces says: “Wellington City Libraries are delighted to celebrate National Poetry Day. Our mission is to connect our communities to knowledge, wonder and possibilities - and poetry, like any other form of artistic creation, plays a vital role in our society by inspiring and transmitting knowledge and human values.


“The collections of Wellington City Libraries cover a wide range of poetry, available to borrow in books or digitally. We are proud to hold hundreds of volumes of New Zealand poetry, written by poets both well-known and not so well-known. We have more than 1000 New Zealand poetry books available to read or borrow.         


“We are lucky to count many published poets among our present and former staff, with a poem by Jacquie Sturm (1927 - 2009), who was a prominent Wellington City librarian, featuring in our top five!”  


Information on the Poetry Recital on National Poetry Day at Wellington City Libraries can be found on Johnsonville Library Facebook.