Vaughan Rapatahana

Vaughan Rapatahana is a New Zealand writer and reviewer. Though perhaps best known for his poetry, his bibliography also includes prose fiction, educational material, academic articles, philosophy, and language critiques. Rapatahana is of Māori ancestry, and many of his works deal with the subjects of colonial repression and cultural encounter. His writing has been published in New Zealand and internationally. In 2009, he was a semi-finalist for the Proverse Prize and in 2013 he was a finalist for the erbacce prize for poetry. In 2016 Rapatahana won the Proverse Poetry Prize.

Vaughan Rapatahana (1953 – ) is a prolific New Zealand poet who also writes prose fiction, educational material, academic articles, philosophy and language critiques. Born in Pātea, Rapatahana is of Māori heritage, and has been published in both English and te reo Māori. He gained an MA (Hons) from the University of Auckland before studying Education. Rapatahana returned to the University of Auckland from 1991–1994 to write his PhD, titled Existential Literary Criticism and the Novels of Colin Wilson.

Rapatahana experienced a varied career before becoming a writer, working as a secondary schoolteacher, housepainter, storeman, freezing worker, and special education advisor. Rapatahana was poetry editor of the Māori and Indigenous Review Journal until 2011. He has lived abroad for a significant portion of his life, teaching in Nauru, Brunei Darussalam, PR China, and Hong Kong for extended periods. He currently resides in Mangakino. He writes regular book reviews for Landfall and Scoop.

Rapatahana has been described as a global poet. His first poetry collections were Down Among the Dead Men (1987) and Street Runes (1988), both published by Entropy Press, Auckland.

Links: www.read-nz.org/writer/rapatahana-vaughan

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

 te pāhikahikatanga/ incommensurabilty

ISBN: 978-0-6455503-3-7

te pāhikahikatanga/ incommensurabilty is a collection of Rapatahana’s poetry across several years, written in te reo Māori (with English language translations). He believes this is a unique work of contemporary Māori language poetry, as well as emphasising throughout that the two languages are essentially incompatible and never fully translatable one into the other. 


artworks by Pauline Canlas Wu ; musical score by Darren Canlas Wu

Review by Maris O’Rourke New Zealand Poetry Society

The fourth poetry collection from the multi-talented, prolific and loquacious Vaughan Rapatahana doesn’t disappoint. Small in size, it is big and dense within – with over 50 poems that take us on some wide-ranging, internal and external journeys. They are short, pithy poems, usually one or two pages, with staccato rhythms, often one-word lines, and varied, often unusual, use of fonts, space, shapes, photos and songs to produce meaning in more than one way, as with the poems ‘he patai’ (p.83), a question in the shape of a question mark, and ‘Ruby’s Place’, a musical score (p.123). Rapatahana has a strong command of language and an extensive vocabulary — I certainly had to look up a number of words.

Multicultural Rapatahana takes us with him on his travels around the world – Hong Kong, Philippines, Mauritius, Macao, London, Japan, New Zealand, USA, Israel and others — offering astute observations of our effect on our environment and each other, and the effect of the country and its history, people and behaviour upon him. All this in four different languages — Māori, English, Chinese and Tagalog, often on the same page, and with the occasional French, Latin or Greek word or phrase thrown in for good measure.

The haves and have-nots thread through Rapatahana’s poems as a consistent theme, as in the poems ‘tel aviv tramp’ (p.115), or ‘auckland tri.ptych III’

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KA Rees

KA Rees

KA Rees writes poetry and short fictionHer work

has been included by Australian Poetry Anthology, Australian Poetry Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Kill Your Darlings, Margaret River Press, Overland, Review of Australian Fiction, Spineless Wonders, and Yalobusha Review among others.

Links: www.instagram.com/kateamber01/

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

Come The Bones

Come the Bones

Her debut poetry collection.

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good old summer

 Kia ora ki katoa [Greetings to all].

Cornered by Coronavirus here in Aotearoa New Zealand, I wonder if any other Flying Islands contributors are Kiwi and might wish to share a reading, even if it is via Zoom…? Looks like we will be here for a while, despite escape plans being drawn…

Meanwhile a poem to warm everyone up, eh.

good old summer


came back


a  HUGE  grin

s  p  r  e  a  d  e  a  g  l  e  d

all over its face;

a panjandrum


of lucent hues


with emollient



its chortling

prodigal sun

flayed us all





happy    submission –

skin peeling,

smiles reeling,

balmy healing,


a sort of


mellow cadence

crooning through us all –

that winters’



had  forced  us

to  forget.

                                    My daughter Pauline Canlas Wu – in Hong Kong – is the artist.

Te pai katoa [All the best].

Vaughan Rapatahana

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Vaughan Rapatahana (Te Ātiawa)

Vaughan Rapatahana (Te Ātiawa) commutes between homes in Hong Kong, Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. He is widely published across several genre in both his main languages, te reo Māori and English and his work has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Italian, French, Mandarin, Romanian, Spanish.

I am a Flying Islands poet – Atonement Macau, 2015.

Right now I am in Mangakino. Lake Maraetai is our mighty lake.

at lake maraetai

these swan

glide in

an ontology

alien to my own.

their empyrean metaphysic,

through all dimensions,


& immutable.

in their majesty

they t r a n s c e n d

       this lake

as they dip deep


as they glissade

with immaculate grace

   a c r o s s  

the      surface;

as they foster

their    funicular   of   cygnets 

in all directions.

this archipelago of swan


my inauthenticity

into an ecstasy,

I could once

                  never own.

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KA Rees — Come the Bones

KA Rees writes poetry and short fiction. Her poems and short stories have been included by Australian PoetryCordite Poetry Review, Kill Your Darlings’ New Australian Fiction anthology, Margaret River Press, OverlandReview of Australian Fiction, Spineless Wonders and Yalobusha Review, among others.

Kate was shortlisted for the 2016 Judith Wright Poetry Award, she was the recipient of the 2017 Barry Hannah Prize in Fiction and runner-up in the 2018 Peter Cowan Short Story Award. She was a 2019 Varuna fellowship holder for her manuscript of short stories and the national winner of the 2019 joanne burns Microlit Award.

Kate is an inaugural participant in the 2021 Sydney Observatory Residency Program where she is writing the beginnings of her second collection of poetry on the Nocturn, and some of the more peculiar aspects of Sydney’s histories.

You can find her on Instagram: @kateamber01 and on Twitter @perniciouskate.

Come the Bones is Kate’s debut poetry collection. 

Liber Abaci

The moon spills
over the ocean;
the surface ripples—
glass eels swimming.

Driftwood sweeps on the curl
of a wave and the nautilus
with its air-filled chambers
floats in the pelagic.

Leaves fall from trees,
they spiral and twist
on the swirling breeze:
a peacock opens to the sky.

Stormbirds search unsuspecting
nests, their hell-eyes homing
in—the lights of a 747
wing-tips up, coming in.

Caterpillars mass on leaves
they eat through the soft belly,
sequencing nature’s code.

On the pavement, cracks fill
with ants, they swarm
and spread their frenzy
before the wet hands of summer.

The weavers in their webs
spin nets, their capture ready
to burst—wormy progeny
wriggle through the mess,
seeking to begin.

Requiem For Lorca

Lorca dreams of the Granada sun.
He walks the shape of afternoons.

Under the cathedral wall
bells chime the length of day.

He moves through squares full
with people smoking and talking

and eating the soft
soil—mouths full of dahlias,

their wine glasses empty
on tables of red earth. The sun

stretches lower. He sees dogs sniffing
and scratching and turning circles,

long snouts raised to the violent
blue, as the shadow of a moon

rises over peaks—the distant
capped mountains

where the bullfighters are killed
with capes in their arms.

It is winter, now and forever, and the sun
never warms the old walls of the town.

Still Lorca weaves his music
with the air of the Sierra Nevada.

In the setting chill of evening,
are these nights of music

and waiting in corners curled with smoke.
No one sleeps.

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