New Zealand in Writing in the 20th Century

A short text survey
Allen Curnow. Skeleton of the Great Moa in the
Canterbury Museum, Christchurch. (1943).
 Read the poem.
 When you think of a Moa what images do you get?
 Why do you think the poet chose to invoke these images?
 Highlight and count any references to death or decay.
 How does this relate to the Moa?
 What does this suggest to you about life in NZ?
 What does the poet mean when he talks of ‘standing upright
 What is his message about being able to do this?
 What is the relationship between the Moa and the poet?
Allen Curnow. Skeleton of the Great Moa in the
Canterbury Museum, Christchurch. (1943).
In groups of four answer these questions. Remember to
answer both parts and incorporate some analysis in
your answer (e.g., …because…)
Your group will present your answers to the class.
 The poem is in the form of a sonnet. Why might the poet
choose this form given his message?
 Underline any poetic devices you can find. How do they
help to support the message of the poem?
 Who is the poem written to? (i.e., who is its intended
audience?). Why is this important?
Allen Curnow. Skeleton of the Great Moa in the
Canterbury Museum, Christchurch. (1943).
 Curnow uses the moa as a metaphor for NZ settler society.
 He feels it cannot ‘stand upright’ without the aid of ‘iron
 He questions how much care this settler society has taken with
the native NZ icons or symbols it chooses to represent itself
 The moa egg has been ‘pieced together / But with less patience
than the bones that dug / In deep time shelter’
 The lack of patience emphasises the newness of the settler
society and suggests it has not carefully considered what it
means to live in NZ or even to be a NZer – it is a society
‘pieced together’, not a coherent whole.
 He is inviting the reader to ask what it will take for NZ
Europeans – those who created the settler society – to forge a
uniquely NZ identity. There is a ‘trick’ to ‘standing upright’ that
has yet to be mastered.
Frank Sargeson, ‘The Making of a New Zealander’.
 Listen to the story.
 Underline any unusual or interesting sections.
 This will aid your analysis of the story.
 You have 5 minutes to write your response to the story.
 Consider whether you liked/disliked it and explain why
using appropriate terminology, i.e., analyse your statement
(refer to narrative analysis handout).
 In groups of four share your responses.
Frank Sargeson, ‘The Making of a New Zealander’
and 2.1 Creative Writing: Prequels and Sequels.
 Choose one character from the story.
 Find a quote from the story that typifies the character.
Explain how it does.
Make a list of adjectives that describe the character’s
personality and looks.
What is this character’s past? Where did they come from?
How did they act then? Have they changed?
What does the future hold for this character? Where are
they going in life? Will this change them? How?
This character work forms the basis of your 2.1 writing.
Frank Sargeson, ‘The Making of a New Zealander’.
Answer the following questions:
What is the narrator’s attitude towards women?
What does the narrator say that leads to him losing his job?
Explain why the narrator is ‘cheeky’ to Mrs. Crump.
Why is it that the narrator is reluctant to talk to the Dalmations?
Explain how the writing style in this story reflects the personality of
the narrator.
Does this story have a New Zealand ‘sense’ to it? Justify your answer
(refer to the Aspects of Narrative handout).
How to Read Poetry.
 Like all good writing, poems rely on the connotative meaning
of words to convey meaning and imagery. But, because they
are usually short, every word counts in a poem so you must be
alert to the different meanings all words used have.
 E.g., in the Curnow poem the poet is using the connotations
associated with the word moa to provoke a succession of images
in the reader’s mind.
 Poems need to be read more than once for the connotations
to reveal themselves.
 Your first reading should be concentrated on getting a ‘feel’ for
the poem
 What images, feelings or moods spring to mind? Keep them
generic and it helps to make a note of these as they are often
right on the mark.
How to Read Poetry
 After the first reading you should start looking for any symbols
or images that are emphatically referred to or repeated. This
provides a good place to begin thinking of the connotations
they have and often guide your reading of the other words in
the poem.
 Thirdly, look for how the poet has used poetic devices to
support their message. These are not used by accident!!
 E.g., ask ‘why has the poet used rhyme in this particular place
and not others?’
 Lastly, look at how the poem is structured. This, also, is no
accident so it must serve some purpose and is used with the
intent of supporting their message.
 E.g., the Curnow poem used the sonnet structure – why?
Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, ‘At a Fishing
Settlement’. (1949).
 What is your immediate response to the poem?
 Work through the response sheet.
In Pairs
 Discuss your response.
 Explain: your thoughts about the poem; why you gave it the
rating you did. Saying you did not like it because you don’t
like poetry is not good enough.
 Identify as many poetic devices you can.
 Chose two and analyse their effect, discussing your answer
first then writing one paragraph each.
Analysis: What Is It? How Is It Done?
 This is a key skill that you must begin to master if you are
to do well in the end of year exams.
 When a question asks you to analyse it is asking you to:
 Break down the components of a text (e.g., an idea or
 Examine closely how they work and interact together.
 Discuss the implications of this and form a judgement.
 Basically, you must discuss how something is done and why
the author/poet has done it – what does it’s use contribute
to our understanding of the text and its message?
 Analysis is not describing or explaining what happens.
Analysis: What Is It? How Is It Done?
 So, what does this all mean!?! It is easier to think of
analysis in two parts: the how and the why.
 The How:
 This is where you should explain the effect of your
particular example/evidence.
 The Why:
 This is where you link the effect of the use of the
example/evidence (the how) to the author/poet’s purpose
or the message in the text.
 Only by combining both of these elements will you
demonstrate an ability to analyse.
Analysis: An Example.
Campbell, in his poem ‘At a Fishing Settlement’, uses a
simile to highlight the impermanence of man’s existence
in such an inhospitable place. The use of the simile ‘old
houses flanking / The street hung like driftwood planking’
shows us how the houses are just like driftwood and,
therefore, that the settlement is at the mercy of the
elements, likely to be tossed elsewhere at any moment.
By comparing the houses to driftwood we see that man is
not the master of nature but that nature is the master of
man and this helps the poet to emphasise the
impermanence of man’s existence in this place.
(Blue = statement Red = example/evidence Green = how Black = why)
Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, ‘At a Fishing
Settlement’. (1949).
3 Level Guide
Level 1
 Answer true or false. If false, rewrite so it is true.
 The poem is set in Spring.
 There are no trees on the ‘dark hills’.
 Houses are compared to driftwood.
 The speaker sees only a dog.
 A storm is hitting the town.
Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, ‘At a Fishing
Settlement’. (1949).
Level 2
 Find a quote to support each statement.
 The town is small.
 The town has seen better days.
 The speaker feels uneasy about the place.
 The weather makes it hard for life to thrive in this place.
 It is hard for those in this place to ‘connect’ despite them
having a desire to do so.
Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, ‘At a Fishing
Settlement’. (1949).
Level 3
 Choose two of these statements and then write a
paragraph response to each. Use evidence from the poem
to support your answer and ensure you analyse what the
evidence means.
 The way people act is influenced by the environment.
 Nature is more powerful than man.
 You cannot escape the past.
 Poetic devices help to emphasise the poet’s message.
Some Historical Background.
 Post World War II, and especially from the 1950s onwards,
there was a large migration of Maori into the urban centres of
New Zealand.
 This was because New Zealand experienced sustained
economic growth during this period and many rural workers
were drawn to the cities and major towns in pursuit of the
employment opportunities there.
 This movement was most pronounced in Maori as up until this
time the majority of Maori lived in rural areas, often in their
traditional tribal areas.
 This had the effect of splintering Maori whanau, and is often
pointed to as one reason for the loss of cultural identity felt by
many Maori and the reduced number of Te Reo speakers
during the middle part of the twentieth century.
Hone Tuwhare, ‘The Old Place’. (1964).
 Work through poetry response sheet.
In Pairs
 Discuss your responses.
 Make notes on how you will use this poem to answer this
Analyse the effect of a poetic device in the poem. How does it
help to emphasise the poem’s message?
 Be prepared to present your notes to the class.
Hone Tuwhare, ‘The Old Place’. (1964).
 Use this table to break down your notes on the question.
Poetic Device
‘fussy train’
Gives the train
the human
quality of
By giving the
train this
quality the
poet suggests it
is selective in
who it takes.
Helps the poet to
emphasise the
obstacles people
face when
returning to ‘The
Old Place’.
Analyse the effect of a poetic device in the poem. How does it
help to emphasise the poem’s message?
More Historical Context
 By the 1970s there was a burgeoning Maori middle class as
children of those who had moved to urban centres in the
1950s and 1960s went to university and into professional
 Many of these Maori began to reflect on what had been lost in
the process of Maori urbanisation.
 This feeling was mirrored by increased Maori activisim centred
around land rights and transgressions of the Treaty of Waitangi
(often the same thing).
 In turn, this led many urban Maori to reassert what it was that
made them Maori, the most visible example being the
resurgence in Te Reo at this time.
Witi Ihimaera, ‘The House With the Sugarbag
Windows’. (1977).
Make Notes on the Following.
 List the objects Watene associates with:
 The Pakeha world.
 The Maori world
 Explain how Watene feels about these objects.
 What is Ihimaera telling us by juxtaposing the Kelburn house
with Watene’s past house?
Discuss your Notes in Pairs.
Use Evidence to Answer this Question.
Analyse how the story reflects the social position and concerns of
Maori in the 70s.
Witi Ihimaera, ‘The House With the Sugarbag
Windows’. (1977).
Individual Task
 Write a poem using only quotes from the story.
 Your aim is to communicate the story’s message in poetic
 You should attempt to give the poem some form of rhythm
and integrate poetic devices to emphasise important
 Remember, an important aspect of the story is
juxtaposition. How can you achieve this in the poem?
The poem is to be posted on the class wiki
Checkpoint: A Critical Reaction to NZ Writing.
 Choose one of the texts we have looked at this term.
 Quickly brainstorm:
What the text is about. Consider:
The setting, characters.
Its message.
How it is written. Consider:
Techniques the author uses.
Its style.
How you respond to it and why. Consider:
How you feel when you read it.
Whether you think the author been successful in conveying the text’s
In Pairs
 Discuss your brainstorms.
 Feedback to class.
Inquiry Learning Module
 Your task is to select and research a text written by who
you see to be an important New Zealand writer of poetry
or short stories.
 You will have four periods to research and write a report
on your selected poem or short-story.
 The written report must be posted on the class wiki.
 In week two you will present your writer and poem/shortstory to the class.
Inquiry Learning Module
 This task is designed to support your learning in the
following ways:
The reading you do can be used for your 12905 reading
2. It gives you practice analysing unfamiliar texts, a key skill
for 2.6 in the end of year exam.
3. It is practice for the speech internal achievement standard
you will undertake next term.
4. You become familiar with the research process which will
support you next year when you are required to
undertake a research internal achievement standard.
Inquiry Learning Module
 Research Phase
What you need to have completed by next Friday
 Your written report on the writer.
This should be at least 400 words and should cover:
A brief (1 paragraph) biography.
A list of five of their important texts.
An analysis of your selected poem/short-story .
A discussion of why they are important in NZ literature
(extension question).
You also need to include a reference list.
This report must be posted on the class wiki.
Inquiry Learning Module
 Lessons 1-2.
 You have 2 periods in the computer lab to do your initial
Make use of the computer time well. and are good places to
start looking.
 Once you have selected your text, inform me as there are to
be no double-ups.
They will be allocated on a first-in first-served basis.
 Once you have your selection confirmed, begin working
your way through the research handout.
Be aware of the stages you need to have completed each lesson.
Writers you could consider (not exclusive, of
course, but all are in the school library)
Short story writers
1. Owen Marshall
2. Patricia Grace
3. Katherine Mansfield
4. Maurice Duggan
5. Carl Nixon
6. C.K. Stead
7. Denis Baker
8. Witi Ihimaera
1. Apirana Taylor
2. Denis Glover
3. Glen Colquhoun
4. Sam Hunt
5. James K. Baxter
6. Vincent O’Sullivan
7. Fleur Adcock
8. Karlo Mila
Inquiry Learning Module
 Step 1
 Define
What do I want to find out?
What questions should I ask?
 Step 2
 Locate
Where can I find information relevant to my question?
Who can I ask for assistance?
 Step 3
 Select
Does the information relate to my questions and come from reliable
Is Google the only answer?
Is my evidence from a range of sources?
Inquiry Learning Module
 Step 4
 Organise and Synthesise
Have I gathered information of sufficient depth and breadth?
Have I organised the information in a clear way?
 Step 5
 Create and Present
What is the best way to present this information?
Who is my target audience?
Have I communicated information in my own words?

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