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All items in this booklet are exact reproductions of the authors’ original entry. ISSN 2537-6705 (Print) ISSN 2537-6713 (Online) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publishers. For more information about the Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Awards, visit our website: www.southtaranaki.com Cover design by Rachael Harris Book design and typesetting by South Taranaki District Council, Hāwera Printed by South Taranaki District Council Published by South Taranaki District Council 2018. 105 – 111 Albion St, Private Bag 902, Hāwera 4640, New Zealand

We Serve



Mayor Ross Dunlop........................................................................ 6


Mary-Anne Scott............................................................................ 7 Airini Beautrais............................................................................... 8 Matt Rilkoff..................................................................................... 9


First place / Immortality Sasha Finer / Hāwera High School.................................... 11 Second place / The Magpie Sasha Finer / Hāwera High School.................................... 13 Third Place / Olympics Holly Stewart / Hāwera High School................................. 15


First place / Forbidden Fruits Sasha Finer / Hāwera High School.................................... 18 Second place / Long Distance Calls Sasha Finer / Hāwera High School.................................... 19 Third Place / My Normality Lexi McQuaig / Ōpūnake High School.............................. 20


First Place / I Don’t use Snapchat, But my Dad does Maia-Laine Rupapera Maeke / St Mary’s Diocesan School... 22 Second Place / The Acceleration of Communication Alex Paish / St Mary’s Diocesan School................................. 24 Third Place / Farming through Technology Monique Radford / St Mary’s Diocesan School..................... 26


First place / Heartwood Bruce Finer / Hāwera............................................................ 29 Second place / Dilemna Chris Purdon / Hāwera.......................................................... 32 Third Place / Catch a Boy Darly Paraha / Hāwera.......................................................... 35


First place / Elegy Maria Cunningham / New Plymouth.................................... 39 Second place / After the Sale Stuart Greenhill / Stratford................................................... 40 Third Place / You always look younger when smiling at Parties Michaela Stoneman / Pātea.................................................. 41 Highly Commended / A rip in the crotch of my Jeans Alyx Devlin / Eltham.............................................................. 42 Highly Commended / Futures Past Michaela Stoneman / Pātea.................................................. 43 Highly Commended / Death and Taxes Maria Cunningham / New Plymouth.................................... 44


MAYOR OF SOUTH TARANAKI The Ronald Hugh Morrieson awards are a very important part of the South Taranaki Literary calendar. Ronald Hugh Morrieson was a true product of Hāwera and South Taranaki. Apart from a short time living in Auckland, he spent his whole life in our District. This makes him unique and different from many other New Zealand writers. He was an indigenous author of this area. His stories are moulded from the life he lived in our district. Locals who knew Ronald have some interesting opinions of the man and he certainly did not go unnoticed in this community. Unfortunately his fame did not get noticed more widely until he passed away and he was, as he predicted, “one of those buggers who got recognised after he died”. There are so many talented and creative people in our community, I congratulate all of you. It is great to see entries continuing to increase indicating how valuable this local competition is – especially in the Poetry section this year. Many entries are first timers so that is good for the ongoing future of the competition.

There was also an overwhelming response to this year’s Research Article, where students discussed the ways small town New Zealand has changed due to technology. There were several aspects explored in these pieces, and each was thought provoking. It is now 31 years since the first Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Awards and it has evolved over the years into an annual celebration of a writer who had a very distinctive flavour for his time. Congratulations to all who have submitted an entry for the Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Awards this year, I am sure that Ronald would be very proud to know that he has inspired so many to participate in the wonderful art of story writing. Good luck,

Ross Dunlop

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SHORT STORY - SECONDARY SCHOOL AND OPEN Judging the short story competition and having the opportunity to visit and run writing workshops for the RHM award has been a very special experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity and I’ve appreciated having a chance to get to know this stunning part of NZ. Congratulations to the winners, but also to all the writers who bravely had a go.

Open section

The stories in this section gave me an insight into the Taranaki that I hadn’t seen when I visited for a week. I felt the cold, the loneliness, the domestic violence and I was able to visualise the cows and the mud. But I could also see the deep loyalties which keep the people connected to their land and to each other in tough times. Loyalty seeped from the pages. There was plenty of death, but often in a realistic, cycle-of-life way. Many of the stories showed that people never forget injustice or violence, cruelty or lost love. Writing stuff down helps make sense of life’s events and the stories that most drew me in, were written with raw honesty. I know that writing tutors talk about the importance of editing, but a missing word or a misspelt word often tore me away from the story-flow. So too, with repeated words. Reading your work aloud helps you hear where the gears graunch or where you’ve slid off the road of your tale.

There were so many stories. It was an honour to read them and I hope some people found relief in the writing. One night they ate psychedelic mushrooms and the carpet danced for them. A little Death by Liberty van Voorthuysen. Both of his kidneys and liver have failed him. No, he has failed them. A Splendid Journey by Sarah NewmanWood. Crimes of an unsavoury nature have a stench all of their own. Icon by Bruce Finer

Secondary schools section

The stories in the secondary school’s folder were diverse in every way; length, style, subject and skill. Nearly all the stories had a strong sense of setting and showed a love for the district. Some entries weren’t so much stories but they were more descriptions of favourite places and towns. Although the destination pieces made me research the area, they weren’t what I was after. The three place-winners all had several things in common; the writers knew their topics in depth, the stories had a distinct beginning, middle and end, there was a strong sense of setting, and memorable characters.

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POETRY - SECONDARY SCHOOL AND OPEN It was an honour to be asked to judge the poetry section of the Ronald Hugh Morrieson literary awards. Clearly the awards function as a support and encouragement to Taranaki writers. Many of the poems submitted this year had a strong local flavour; evidence that the awards help create a space for the sharing of local voices and stories.

Open section

There was a great variety of poems submitted to the open section, ranging across comic verse, elegiac poems, memoir, love lyrics, odes and historical poems. A diversity of forms were present. It was pleasing to see so many entries and enjoyable to read them in all their varied styles. There were many poems worthy of commendation, but I have chosen six ‘bests’. The poems that caught my attention the most fit form to content and language to occasion. The better poems were those in which all the components: language, imagery, narrative, and so on, combined to produce a coherent and satisfying whole. The use of concrete descriptive imagery helped lift poems beyond the vague and abstract. The poems I have chosen as finalists approach a range of big themes, to do with birth, death, family and friends, and do so in original and striking ways.

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Secondary schools section

The poems I was most drawn to were those that used concrete sensory imagery, had a clear emotional centre, and/or did interesting things with language. The ‘truth’ of the subject matter was less important to me than the way in which it was presented. I was looking beyond sentiments I agreed with or could sympathise with, and appreciated the poems that helped me imagine myself in the situation of the speaker, or conveyed a clear mood or voice.


RESEARCH ARTICLE Technology is so integrated into our lives it’s essentially invisible. Understanding how it changes our lives is not as simple as recognising just what it does, but recognising the often unforeseen implications. How does it change the way we interact with each other, how we work, how we shop, travel and dream?

Congratulations to everyone who contributed a piece to this competition. It wasn’t an easy task choosing a top three and you all deserve praise for your thoughtful and inspiring words.

The task for this year’s research article was to discuss the ways small town New Zealand has changed due to technology. There was a huge response with 23 entries. This stands to reason. Like every generation, Generation Z, the i-Generation, or whatever you choose to call them, has grown up with more technology than their parents. Generally they have a less prejudiced view of new technology than their parents. They are sometimes more open to seeing its potential and its power to improve their lives rather than detract from it. This year’s articles covered all manner of issues to do with technology, from the doctors treating Pātea patients over the internet, to whether cell phones are good or bad (the jury is out) to how farming has been changed by advances in tech. The articles demonstrated a deep understanding of how technology is changing lives and, against the teen technophile stereotype, a scepticism of how good it is for humanity.

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HĀWERA HIGH SCHOOL There’s something about the bull that gets you in the heart. Not in a pathetic puppy-dog-eyes way – god, the last thing Tom feels is sorry for the thing. It’s more of a fearing-foryour-life way, if he’s honest; he doesn’t have to imagine the raw power in the beast, the ropy muscle and sweatdarkened hide. As it paces the yard, he watches from a distance, observing the damp muzzle and dark, bottomless eyes. Was it a Greek goddess who was meant to have the eyes of a cow? He’d run from any woman who had eyes like that, but he supposes that’s the point. From the way it’s pacing around, Tom expects the trouble to begin almost as soon as he tries moving the thing out of the yards. The minute he starts up the four-wheeler, it’s got those eyes on him, and as he revs the engine the bull shakes its brutish head in irritation. He backs off, and to his surprise it turns and starts an unhurried plod down the race, swaying complacently. By the time they’ve reached the tree paddock, the bull stands, docile as a lamb, while Tom does up the fence tape. It doesn’t take its eyes off him until he’s out of sight. The next morning, Tom watches the bull through the kitchen window as he boils the jug for his cup of tea. It stands with its back to the house, methodically tearing up the ground with a front hoof. The raw earth bursts from the seam of the paddock like a split wound. As it turns, muscle shifting, his heart sinks. The bull is unmistakeably lame, favouring a back leg when just yesterday it had been in fine form. Tom stares into his cup, unsettled by the inky swirls that rise from the teabag and turn the water dark, the deep umber of the bull’s eyes. Shaking his head, he tips back the cup and drains it, pulling on overalls and heading out the door. *** Stupid, he tells himself later. The calf yards had seemed like a good idea at the time, but when it got down to it, jabbing the bull with a syringe of penicillin wasn’t easy when it was already enraged at being tricked into a confined pen. As soon as it had realised what was going on, it’d turned and tried to have a go at the motorbike – lucky Tom’d got the gate in time, and lucky these yards had put up with worse than an ornery old bull in the years they’d been standing. Unfortunately, he wasn’t made of tough jarrah wood. He’d been so busy trying to get the penicillin in that he’d forgotten about the big, brutish head – until it whipped around and gave him a going for. Stupid. It had felt like a block of concrete to the stomach, the sheer weight of it – he swears he’d heard something crack. Tom was left staggering, struggling for breath. It felt like his lungs had been vacuum-sealed. He’d got the thing, though – managed to jab it with the needle just before it went at him. Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |


How he managed to get out and to the bike he’d never know, but he sure as hell isn’t going near that animal for a day or two – not with his torso a florid, technicolour bruise. He hisses as he rubs Voltaren onto his ribs. Won’t hurt the thing to stew in the yards for a few days, anyway, he thinks bitterly. *** The bloody thing is gone. It’s taken most of the yards with it, too – a row of shattered posts, jarrah wood splintered across the paddock. There’s not much Tom can do but set to work on the clean-up, fighting the pain in his chest, and hope the beast turns up sooner rather than later. It sure makes him uncomfortable, though – like having a spider in the room. You’d rather have your eye on it than let it out of sight. Despite his best efforts, Tom doesn’t see the bull for days. At night, he can’t sleep for his aching ribs. He begins to have nightmares – a bullfighting ring, the scarlet flutter of a cape held aloft. The bull turns and spears him with a look, and he feels twin horns curve up and under his ribcage, blood pooling on the sand. It’s stupid, he tells himself when he wakes with a start – the bull doesn’t even have horns. It doesn’t help shake his feeling that one way or another, this is going to end in blood. *** On the fourth day, a phone call – Trevor Blainey from up the road. He’d been down working on the boundary fence when he’d come face to face with the thing. Nearly scared him stupid, and fair enough – Tom’s ribs are still giving him trouble. He spends his days hoping like hell the bull doesn’t get onto a neighbouring property; he’s already in enough of a mess as it is. *** It’s been two weeks since the bull arrived, and all’s quiet on the western front. Privately, Tom hopes the bull’s managed to kill itself somehow – drowned in a swamp, or else got bogged in patch of bush. Some way that he can’t be blamed, but gets the thing out of the way. He’s not stupid enough to really think it’s dead, though – he’s watched enough movies to know that you can’t assume something’s dead until you’ve seen the body, and it’s a body he’s missing. Today, he’s headed down one of the back gullies to find the source of a short that’s been screwing up the electric fence unit for a few days. His ribs aren’t much better, not really; but he’s gotten used to the pain, gotten used to gritting his teeth and getting on with it. Picking his way across the swampy ground, he hears the rush of the little creek waterfall concealed by a thick native bush growth – and beyond that, the steady tick of a shorting wire. Pushing past the damp kawakawa leaves that crawl across his neck, he stops. The bull lies on its side in the shade of the bush. Breathing laboured, its coat is streaked with dark – sweat or blood, Tom can’t tell. The ground is cut in swathes of black soil from the bull’s struggling legs. A metre away, the fence post lies on its side. Wires coil around the bull’s body, bright against the dark coat. With every tick of electricity running through the wires, the bull convulses. As Tom steps forward, the animal rolls its eye towards him. There’s an almost human look in those bottomless eyes, and they stay fixed on him as the current runs through the bull’s body. It’s horrible to watch, but he can’t look away – he’s sure the bull’s heart would have given out by now if it wasn’t for the steady jump-starting tick of electricity every few seconds. He’d wished the bull dead, but not like this. It’s a few minutes before Tom manages to shake some sense into himself. He climbs up the gully to the shed that holds the fence unit, ignoring the pain in his ribs. He doesn’t hesitate to flick the switch. Later today, he’ll head back down to fix the fence, bring the right tools. He’ll have to move the body - maybe push it in downstream. They’re gone faster that way. In a year, he’ll be able to come down here and see nothing at all. But beneath the surface, the bones will mingle with the debris of the creek, and the water will continue to rush over. It’s the closest to immortality you can get.

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HĀWERA HIGH SCHOOL We once had a magpie named Pew. He wasn’t the first wild animal, either – we’d had positive menageries of ‘found-pets’ – from the baby possum that peed in the back seat of Dad’s ute, to the two black kittens that had actually tamed up fairly successfully and were now the most entitled pair of cats you were likely to meet. We’d also had an injured harrier hawk, and a gecko (named Gareth Morgan - because he didn’t like cats, obviously) - but none of those were as good as Pew. *** Part of the reason for our ever-changing array of pets was Dad’s weird talent for catching animals. He’d come off the farm grinning, invite us to have a look in his overall pocket – and as we peered in, half-frightened, a wholly terrified mouse would squint back, whiskers quivering. He could catch rabbits, too, bringing them home nestled in his woolly hat. Dad had showed me how to catch spur-winged plover chicks; scare off the parent birds, then watch as the little ones ran off and ducked into the grass. You had to keep an eye on where they’d dropped, though, because otherwise they were impossible to find. They were pretty cute, all quivering downy feathers stretched over delicate bones and strumming little heartbeats, but somehow, I don’t think they’d have made good pets. Despite this initiation, I never inherited Dad’s talent – that was my brother, Liam. We’d be visiting at an aunt’s place and he’d walk in cradling a baby rabbit he’d found in the garden. The honing of this particular skill resulted in a few mishaps, though – most notably the time he thought he could grab a possum by the tail. The possum didn’t think much of that idea, and Liam had scratches up his arms for weeks. When he was very young, he caught a mouse that one of the cats had set loose inside. The poor thing clamped its teeth onto the end of his finger and, with a yell, he shook it around furiously until it flew off and hit the fridge, dropping down dead. But it was Dad who’d caught Pew – a squabbly little half-grown thing that he’d spotted off the side of our farm track. We named him after the pet magpie out of Footrot Flats, with secret hopes that, like his namesake, he’d poo down the back of anyone he didn’t take a fancy to. (I’m not sure why we were so confident that he wouldn’t do it to us.) Because Mum adamantly refused to let the poor thing in the house, for a while Pew lived in the ‘birdcage’ – a tottering, lopsided construction of chicken netting and a few fence batons for good measure, propped up on the lawn. “Where’d you get that, Dad?” Matthew asked with cheerful curiosity. “Aaaah, just lying around somewhere,” he replied, changing the subject hastily. We all knew that was code for the junk shed. The junk shed was a shed down by the yards brimming with assorted flotsam and jetsam that ‘might come in useful one day,’ according to Dad. The fact that most of it had been sitting gathering dust and bird poo for over a decade meant that we didn’t believe him. Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |


But there was no denying that the birdcage did its job, although Pew remained huddled on the ground like a forgotten rag for the first week or so. In a rare team effort, we helped a suspicious Mum in the veggie garden and covertly pocketed muddy worms when she was looking the other way. Later we’d poke them through the mesh of the cage with grubby fingers, elbowing each other in glee as Pew cocked his head and looked at us with beady black eyes, before darting at the worms and gulping them down. He got so used to this routine that he began to dart at anything that looked remotely like a worm – including Matthew’s finger, which resulted in a lot of screaming and a telling-off from Mum. “Leave that poor bird alone,” said Dad. With his worm-suppliers scared off, Pew needed another food source. A quick Google search told us that feeding magpies was not recommended, which wasn’t much help; we weren’t going to leave him to starve. Eventually we decided on cat biscuits, soaking them in water so he couldn’t choke. This had even greater reception than the worms, and less danger of amputations. Raucous squawks could be heard from the birdcage every evening – squawks which drove Mum mad. We’d been learning in poetry in school, including Denis Glover’s The Magpies. In vain we warbled at Pew, trying to teach him to ‘quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle’ like a real magpie. He only looked at us out of those beady eyes and squawked belligerently. We concluded that, with no magpies to teach him, Pew was doomed to a quardle-less life. If Mum had been hoping that the dismantling of the birdcage would mean we were rid of Pew, she was sorely disappointed – he had clearly decided that cat biscuits were worth more than anything else he could find outside of our section. At the call of his name he’d come waddling at full speed across the lawn, wings extended. Inevitably, this led to him perching on the handle of the French doors, watching us with an expectant glare as we ate our meals. Pretty soon the glass was streaked with poo beneath the door handle. “That bird!” Mum growled. *** Pew got the hang of flying after a bit, although learning how to land took a bit longer. His swoops across the lawn were often cut short by a spectacular crash landing, but he thought he was quite clever once he managed to land properly. One day Liam called us outside. “Watch this… Pew!” With a squawk, Pew came soaring over, landing on Liam’s outstretched arm like a trained falcon from the movies. “Awesome!” Matthew breathed, deeply impressed. From then on, that was our ultimate party trick – showing off to visiting neighbours and family. All our friends wanted a pet magpie as cool as Pew. Once he’d nailed flying (and landing), Pew ruled the roost – the cats knew better than to go near that beak. Our garden was silent, the normal sounds of native birds replaced by the occasional grating squawk. Kereru, fantails, kingfishers – he’d even eventually managed to scare off a pair of obstinate tui. You couldn’t mention Pew near Mum now without a blasting. She’d been quite fond of the tui. *** In January we went for a week on our annual summer trip to Kai Iwi. Escaping the unpredictable summer weather of Taranaki, we spent most of our days on the beach getting so sandy it was unclear if we’d ever be fully clean again. When we got home, we were greeted with one very irate magpie – the neighbour had been feeding him while we were gone, but he must have missed the attention. He squawked irritably as we watched him eat his cat biscuits, then flew off down to the other end of the section. We were so busy unpacking the next day that we almost didn’t notice he hadn’t turned up for his meal. “Where’s Pew?” Liam asked suddenly as we ate dinner. We turned around and looked at the French doors – the handle was bare. “He’ll turn up,” Dad reassured us. But he didn’t. A week after we’d returned, the tui were back, trilling jubilantly from the flowering pohutukawa. The bowl of mushy cat biscuits we’d left on the deck remained untouched – the cats wouldn’t dream of going near them. The French door stayed clean, and we weren’t woken up at unholy hours by grating squawks. We haven’t seen Pew since. Dad maintains that Mum did away with him; Mum continues to deny it. Liam reckons he could’ve been shot by a neighbour – not everyone’s as tolerant of magpies as we are. Matthew thinks a dog got him, although considering the effect he had on our poor dog it’s likely the dog would’ve come out worse off than Pew. And me? I think he just got sick of us. He was never really what you’d call an affectionate pet, and he’d probably decided he was better off with the other magpies. There’s heaps of them where we live, see. Every time I see a group of them, I make sure to call out his name. And quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle, the magpies say.

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HĀWERA HIGH SCHOOL Today was going to make history. It would be published on the school newsletter, printed on the Hawera Star, it would even be uploaded to Stuff. Today I was going to win the Olympics. Grey clouds filled the sky above me, not the kind that bring rain, just clouds that cover the sun like a blind. Everything was quiet, other than the sound of my horse tearing at the short strands of grass on the dry ground. She was lucky, if she had been flown to the moon she would probably start chewing on moon rocks, that’s how much food ruled her world. She worried about nothing but her stomach. Meanwhile, while my feet were still firmly planted on earth, I had a lot to worry about, like how I was going to get this pony moving fast enough to get around the course. I had wandered across the arena earlier, marking the location of every jump with a cross on my mental map, like a pirate. Each jump was its own piece of modern art. Green and white poles rested on orange barrels, tractor tires stood tall, casting shadows in the pale light and tree branches twisted their fingers together to form a barrier. They were beasts, dragons and goblins waiting to be conquered. It was a good thing I had such a noble steed. The horse I was riding was small compared to most knights horses and was too round for many people’s liking. The armour she wore stood out in silver against her bay coat and shone like the sun. Maybe that was why they had named her Summer. Dragons and knights aside, this was the Olympics and if I wanted that gold medal I would have to hurry up and get in that arena. With a tap of my heels we began to move forwards, moving first at a walk, then (with some struggle) into a bouncy canter. Summer was determined to get back to her grass but I kept my reigns tight. “Sorry bud, We gotta win the Olympics first” I said scratching her neck. She shook her head, the horse equivalent of rolling her eyes. I could hear the commentator booming through the microphone and Summer pricked her ears at the mention of her name. I hid my grin when the commentator came to my own name. Olympic riders did not smile like idiots. Around me thousands of spectators looked on. Some were recording on their phones, some were looking at Summer with total jealousy and some were chewing snacks. I was starting to get tired of cantering around (this horse was NOT easy to keep going) and wondered how much longer it would be until they rang the bell. The faint smell of pancakes had wafted over from somewhere in the distance and I hoped Summer had not picked up on it yet, human foods were a particularly bad part of Summers food addiction. The absence of drool on her muzzle confirmed that she had not. Finally the bell rang. My legs tightened around Summer and she surged forward. I’d never witnessed her move so fast, apart from when it was dinner time, and I clung to the saddle to keep the horse between myself and the ground. It was only seconds before we were approaching the first jump. Quickly, I did my pre flight checks. Eyes up, heels down, shoulders back, leg on. We were a fighter jet lifting off the runway and the orange barrels were the enemies burning plane beneath Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |


us. We soared through the air for only a second before the plane began to lose height until the wheels touched back down on the ground with a thud. I was about to congratulate myself on a good piloting job but I caught the smile tugging at my lips just in time. Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals. Meanwhile, while my head had been in the clouds I realised the next jump was racing towards us. We were three strides out when I knew something was wrong. We were coming in too fast. Way too fast. Mums late for work fast. Silently panicking, I tightened my fingers around the reigns and sat back in the saddle, using every muscle I had to slow dow. Unfortunately there was not much muscle there, and certainly not enough to stop Summer, who had other ideas. There was a moment when we were just hanging there, my fingers clinging to her mane as Summer threw herself awkwardly over the jump, before we hit flat ground. She stumbled and I leaned dangerously to the left but with an unladylike grunt she ducked back underneath me and suddenly I was sitting upright again. Embarrassment threatened to grab a hold of me but I shook it off knowing I couldn’t afford to lose focus again. We cleared jump after jump until we reached the final obstacle. The sun had pierced a hole through the clouds and now it was burning down on me as I stared down the obstacle like a cowboy. My opponent was dressed from his hat to his boots in black. His outfit was patterned with bumps and curves like that of a tire and frayed pieces of rubber gave the appearance of tassels. Summer was fighting my hands with her head and champing at the bit. She wanted to take him down just as much as I did. “Steady” I murmured to her and she flicked her ears back waiting for my signal. This was a monumental moment and I didn’t mind dragging it out a bit. All that stood between us and that gold medal was this final opponent. Summers ears slowly swivelled forward and in that moment I let my reigns out an inch. She bounced forward like a dog and before I had time to think I heard the thud of her weight landing on the other side of the jump. The crowd was screaming with joy and the commentator was babbling in ecstatic disbelief. We had just won the Olympics. From inside the kitchen the girls mother looked up from her pancake mixture to check that her daughter had not fallen off, or more importantly, ruined the nice clothes she had insisted to wear today. She was quickly able to make out the shape of a fat little pony with messy braids that had half fallen out and saw her daughter twisting her face as if trying not to smile. She observed the scene with mild interest. The girl was wearing too big white jodhpurs with short muddy riding boots and an unflatteringly cut red t-shirt. Tangled brown hair stuck out at odd angles under a riding helmet and it was bobbing up and down as the pair cantered around the arena at an almost fast pace. The mother made a note to herself to remind her daughter to clean up the arena, there were barrels, poles, tires and tree branches strewn all over the place, stacked in untidy piles. Raising an eyebrow as the girl pumped a triumphant fist in the air, her mother turned back to the pancakes.

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HÄ€WERA HIGH SCHOOL Summer is our favourite myth citric-sweet between a grin Molars grit the bitter pith feel the slowburn heat of skin Watch the honeyed hours slip the languid treacle-tick of time Its sickly golden syrup drip will trickle seconds down your spine

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HĀWERA HIGH SCHOOL When I stay at your place I need earplugs to get to sleep amidst the noise and I lose myself in the closeness of the city you’ll laugh but where I live it’s hard to get lost when every road leads home. We’ll talk of everything and nothing but we’ve never argued we’re never together long enough I like that, I think maybe it brings us closer, closes the distance between us. The phone’s sandwiched between my cheek and the pillow it’s 11:47 on a Tuesday night my cheeks hurt from smiling but it doesn’t get closer than this.

Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |



ĹŒPĹŞNAKE HIGH SCHOOL Silent and still, A warm yellow light glows softly amongst darkness, Like a diamond in the raft All is calm and quiet, In my sanctuary, I arrived. Thick and salty, Sweet and vibrant It swirls through the blades Thin and golden, I watch it brown It leaves a trail of steam, Condensated windows The warmth of the toaster radiates heat under my chin. I sit upon the flaky leather chairs; alone. I pour the liquid down my throat and feel the ice spread; I shiver. Biting down, it crunches against my braces, scattering grains amongst the wire. I think of the hot pools of Kerosene creek, The cloth slaps my face. I spread the cream like butter, Who is this person I now see in the mirror? The taste of mint burns my throat, I inhale the crisp morning air; fresh.

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Excessive oil, grease. I thread the locks through my fingers and wrap a band around the small bun at the back of my head; now slightly presentable. I slip the uniform over my body, my skin adorned with tiny bumps. The cloth is cold and heavy. Gentle hymns play in the background as I stare at the reflection I see before me, A daily ritual, an insecure reminder. Slotting the jewels through my ears even though they remain irritated and red, Still, pain is beauty and life is tough. Descending into the first floor of our cold brick abode, I hear the bustle and commotion, They are awake. I pack my bag and wonder, Why is this so heavy? Trapped behind the zipper, the contents finally contained. The wind blows east as the sky cries, Tears pouring from above; The glass door of the bus slowly opens, A new day has begun.



ST MARY’S DIOCESAN SCHOOL - STRATFORD Technology within this day and age has had an immense impact on the way people live in New Zealand. As millennials the constant evolution of new technology has improved our lives for the better, allowing us to experience things like Netflix, electricity, memes and more. However, not all technological developments have had a positive outcome on our generation. Two years ago, I only used Snapchat for the sole purpose of maintaining my streaks. By definition a streak is when two users snap (message) each other within twenty-four hours for more than three consecutive days. Snapchat streaks were and still are frequently used in the daily lives of adolescents. From the moment I woke up to the moment I fell asleep, the only thing on my mind were streaks. However, streaks are an important commitment to uphold and required hours of time to keep alive. Once a streak was lost you would feel devasted after losing it because, of all the time and effort you devoted to creating them. Streaks were proof of your friendship with someone. Where you may say you talk to someone every day, a streak is physical evidence of your connection to that person. Streaks could also be seen by some as a challenge, to see how far you could take your streak with someone before the chain of communication broke. Eventually, this led me to convince my Dad to install Snapchat and thus create a streak. My Dad didn’t want Snapchat. It was to be expected that someone of the previous generation would have zero interest in some aspects of modern technology. My father had been reluctant to the entire idea of having a streak and saw no point in obtaining it. Which, in hindsight, was true. Streaks, put simply, were like being in an unhealthy relationship. You spend all your time talking to this one person, but over time only saw them as a nuisance and the source to your own insanity. Regardless, streaks were something everyone you knew had and thus were obliged to do the same. After thorough persuasion and a hefty bribery of Griffin Super wine biscuits, I’d finally got through to my Dad and convinced him to install the app. I gave him a basic run through of how to message friends, search usernames, find Snapchat lenses, view snaps, watch stories and, of course, create a streak. Two weeks later and no new streak was formed. My father had struggled to understand the basic use of Snapchat, from the way you activate the Snapchat filters to the way you replay messages. My Dad was completely and utterly lost. It also didn’t help that he was an adult with a full-time job instead of a carefree teenager with more concern about their streaks than their concern for math. I would take uncountable moments out of my day to clarify and explain the simple aspects of Snapchat to my Father. I saw my role as that of an exhausted adult, countlessly repeating

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simple instructions over and over to a naïve child. My words went out one ear and through the other - but a person’s patience can only go on for so long. Two months had passed, and I finally gave up on the idea of forming any streak with my Dad and concluded that the task was impossible. One year later, I had brought an end to my Snapchat account as well as my oh so sacred streaks. The meaningless chain of communication I spent months acquiring with friends and family, slowly became a bore that manifested into a ruthless addiction. To my surprise, it was also around this time my father became an expert on the use of Snapchat. Before I erased the app, I saw my Dad’s Snapchat story where he would record his fart noises, take photos of cows on the farm and create tributes to artists of the past. I had no words. I could only place my hand on my forehead and shake it in pure embarrassment. As my father’s use of Snapchat began to increase, so did his knowledge of New Zealand icons. My Dad knew kiwi icons such as Johnny Danger and William Wairua who went viral through serval media platforms, which in this case was Snapchat. My friends at school effortlessly recognized these names through Snapchat, whereas I was left to discover them through my Dad. This became the start of my Father’s newfound obsession and the end of my adolescence. When I thought my Dad’s use of snapchat couldn’t get any more cringey he surpassed all my expectations through his attempted imitations of William Wairua albeit when I took a visit to the fridge or laid lethargically on the sofa. My Dad used every opportunity to look and sound like William Wairua; squinting both eyes, mystically waving three fingers in the air, saying the also unforgettable catchphrase “There he is.” This put me off any and all catchphrases said by the kiwi icon. My Dad thought he was cool and my Dad thought he was a teenager. I was an actual teenager but had lost all interest in the app. And here lay an ironic image of both of us using technology. My father, a 42-year-old farmer, born near a time when cell phones let alone apps like Snapchat were non-existent, had adapted. Now he was fairly up-todate with the current icons in New Zealand and used all features of Snapchat in a cinch. In contrast, his 16-year-old daughter, despite her age, now used Snapchat as frequently as most people her father’s age. In conclusion, technology within this day and age has had an immense impact on the way people live in New Zealand. However, not all technological developments have had a positive outcome on our generation. Snapchat has changed my Father. He was once a simple man with good values and a good life but, unfortunately, he was caught in the crossfire of my selfish desires. As punishment for my mistake I could only observe my Father transform from a hearty farmer to an annoying teenager. Every time I saw him attempt to take a selfie or hear the words “medium rarhur” as he cooked his steak. I would sit down, take a deep breath and contemplate of my life before the tragedy and of “a life that didn’t closely resemble hell.”

Sources • Conrad Maeke (my Dad) • American beauty quote; a life that didn’t closely resemble hell • William Wairua quote; There he is • Johnny Danger quote; medium rarhurr • https://www.businessinsider.com/teens-explain-snapchat-streaks-why-theyre-so-addictive-and-important-tofriendships-2017-4?IR=T

Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |



ST MARY’S DIOCESAN SCHOOL - STRATFORD On average women speak 20,000 words a day. In comparison, men use a measly 7,000. As a woman, I 1000% appreciate the change in communication technology so I can spread my 20,000 words all over the world. Technology has changed how comfortably we live for, what we know about ourselves, where we live and the way we became. The way we communicate with each other has changed exponentially. Once upon a time face-to-face verbal communication was the only way to communicate with each other. Frightening, I know. Thankfully now we can communicate with each other from every corner of the world and it is practically free! Get ready to go way back in time to discover how our ancestors communicated with each other - not via the internet. Cavemen (and women) communicated to each other through a series of ‘uggg’s and ‘uhhh’s somehow understanding one another - it honestly beats me. However, more intriguingly, they also communicated by drawing and writing on the cave walls using pictures and symbols - similar to the modern day blogging. Unfortunately vlog cameras weren’t a thing back then, but cavewoman vlogs would sure have been interesting. Smoke signals were one of the first methods of communication where people were able to communicate to each other from a long distance. The smoke was used to transmit news, signal danger or to gather people to an area. This was smart technology for its time as some smoke could even reach as far as 450 kilometres using ‘relay’ fires. Of course if you lived 500 kilometres away you would get slain by the dragon, but whatever. Obviously smoke signals would not be suitable in today’s world because how would Suzy know what Linda was wearing to the dance and how would Jimmy’s mum tell Jimmy that its going to shower later so he needs to put on his rain coat and waterproof pants otherwise he might get hypothermia. Carrier pigeons were the next ‘big thing’ in terms of technology. Pigeons were the animal of choice because they would always (well, almost always) return home. Pigeons would carry messages back and forth up to twice a day of round trips up to 150 kilometres. Carrier pigeons were particularly in WWI and WWII transporting messages behind the front line. Using animals instead of people to carry the messages was smart because obvious pigeons were not a threat or a target. Though I wonder if Mrs Pigeon would get a letter to inform her that Mr Pigeon was killed in action. If pigeons were shot down, the written message could end up in enemy hands which could prove fatal. The next communication technology was the telegram, which was the beginning of the modern day telephone. A telegraph sent and received by an operator, then delivered in written form was called a telegram. Telegrams were were the best way to communicate to someone in a hurry which is why they proved particularly helpful in the

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military to notify families of death and serious injuries while in combat (note Mr and Mrs Pigeon). This was easy and efficient for the military during the war because they wouldn’t have to waste time or people to tell the families in person. Communication technology has changed the ways that small town New Zealanders interacts with each other. 50 years ago villages and towns were more of a tight-knit community where everybody knew everybody. Village and local halls were the place of communication for small towns where people would gather and become a community. How else would Mrs Dorothy have met her one true love Jimmy if it weren’t for his ravishing dance moves at the weekly local dance. In this day and age people seem more isolated from each other. It is far easier to call your neighbour than to organise a gathering. The diminishing sense of community can affect people because communicating with neighbours is a main part of their social life. Now this is gone, people can often be lonely because they have no other source of a social life. It is sometimes hard to appreciate how far communicative technology has come and how much it has actually changed all of our lives. From helping in emergencies to catching up with friends across the world to just reminding someone you love them daily. It is truly amazing the products made from some really smart brains combined with the need of ease and comfort because I find it hard to imagine myself leaving cave drawings telling my dad we ran out of milk, send a smoke signal to mum asking what time netball is and sending a carrier pigeon to my brother informing him that I will be late home.

Sources: • https://www.globalmessaging.co.uk/past-present-future/ • https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/10/community-in-the-digital-age/408961/ Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |



ST MARY’S DIOCESAN SCHOOL - STRATFORD Six and a half million cattle are living in New Zealand right now. That’s about one and a half of a cow for each person living in New Zealand. But how do we manage to keep these cows fed, milked and contained within the paddocks? Of course, milking sheds, silage bales, electronics and tractors are incredible things which have changed the dairy farming lifestyle. Technology is responsible for all the changes in our farming world and how it has impacted on the way farmers think and feel. It has also positively impacted the economy and reputation of our farming orientated country. When my grandad turned fourteen he began to lend a hand on his family farm. Everyday he would help get the cows from the pasture and put them into their walk-through shed. His father and him milked each cow by hand and then transported the milk to the factories by horse and cart. This was all changed when the herringbone (1952) and the rotary (1969) sheds were invented. They allowed the farmer to milk multiple cows at once through machines. These machine milking sheds allowed the farmer to stand in a pit beneath the cows which put less strain on the farmers’ backs as they no longer had to bend over. Adaption to these sheds was quick as farmers loved the idea of their job being faster and easier therefore increasing their job satisfaction. With less strain being put on their backs due to them not having to bend over anymore, their physical posture was enhanced allowing them to work longer. Milk was produced in large quantities which increased the farmer’s salary. Since the cows were now milked much faster the farmer had much more time for his family and other jobs around his farm. The partner could also explore other career options as they weren’t needed to do all the housework on their own. At last the farmer could cook more than eggs on toast. Important place-shaping technological advancements including rail and motorised transport, refrigeration and a lot of new innovations in the agricultural sector benefitted both rural and urban settings of small town New Zealand. When the modern-day tractor came about, so did an abundance of specialised equipment that could be used. The baler was one of the most useful inventions. Before this, farmers would cut their hay and silage by hand and stack them in small piles which were susceptible to combustion and rotting. When the baler was introduced hay and silage began being baled into rounds and squares. Silage wrap also assisted in the preservation and fermentation of the silage, helping it to last longer. The wrap also meant that bales could be left in the paddock stacked or ready to feed out. Perfectly wrapped bales meant that the farmer could sell them, bringing in another form of income. The farmer now didn’t need to worry about their

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feed becoming unpalatable or burnt. Buying or selling feed meant the farmer had reason to believe that there was going to be enough feed to last them the entire season. With more feed and the ability to store it effectively, cows produced more milk and therefore more money for the farmer was made. Now with financial stress minimized the farmer could focus on enjoying life. The farmer could take their partner and children on a holiday to an exotic country and buy himself some new Red Band Gumboots, something that would have rarely occurred before the baler. As farms began to grow in both size and cattle numbers it was harder to transport the milk by horse and cart as milk production flourished. Refrigeration, railways and motorised transport allowed the milk tanker to be invented. These tankers gave many people jobs then and have since given thousands of people jobs. As these became more common, larger factories were built in conjunction as it was easier to have one hub where many dairy products were made. Factories had extensive equipment which had the ability to perform these jobs much more efficiently than when they were done on farm. It also changed the way New Zealand exported their goods and in what quantities. Around 95% of our produce is exported overseas providing an exceptional economy for our small country. Factories also became a very large source of jobs and this meant that jobs became centralised in one place. This saw many people migrate from rural and town settings to cities. As the rural population decreased many small schools and shops in rural areas began to shut down. My father, Samuel went to six small country schools growing up. “I enjoyed the small school life and interacting with children who came from a similar background. It was awesome to do skids in the paddocks on my motorbike with my friends. When I went to high school it was interesting to see how the ‘town kids’ lived their life. For me I really liked teaching them some of the things I knew about hard work, farming and morals and learning about some of their experiences.” The two different upbringings coming together as one grew new friendships and allowed communities to understand life from both sides of the land. With children from towns and farms sharing schools and adults from towns and farms sharing a workplace everyone could realise how normal people just like them were doing amazing things like creating the delicious produce we eat every day. With many more professionals and the high-tech facilities, New Zealand has gained a positive reputation for its excellent quality of dairy products. Electronics and programming have created a more stress-free environment for the farmer, the town and the country. Programmes like NAIT (National Identification and Tracing System) have allowed the Ministry of Primary Industries to respond to any outbreaks or breaches of biosecurity. Right now, this system is being used to assist the government in the actions taken to prevent the spread of Microplasma Bovis. This disease has infected and quarantined 98 farms and 32,561 cows have been culled. Due to the extent of this disease it is not only affecting them but everyone in the country. Without this programme, the disease would be nearly impossible to track, and this would cause even more unwanted anxiety to farmers. It allows everyone to be updated and to give sympathy to our farmers who may be feeling weak and unable to carry on. Technology such as social media must be acknowledged as it impacts the way we receive the information. It also has places such as Facebook, with pages like Farming Karaoke, which gives the farmer their daily humour intake and gives them something to be happy about. Places like these are also lowering suicide rates and giving people hope. In conclusion this incredible farming technology that seems so little has made huge changes to farming life. The changes made to farming technology have impacted on 4,693,000 people in New Zealand. It has greatly impacted the economy and reputation of our small towns. It has changed the way farmers feel about their job and decreased substantial amounts of stress and anxiety. The technology has changed the way everyone lives their life and it is constantly growing with new concepts and features every day, making the farmer’s job more efficient. So, learning to cook more than eggs on toast, doing skids on motorbikes and dancing along to Farming Karaoke has influenced the wellbeing of the farmer and the quality of the products the world uses every day.

Sources http://lifestyleblock.co.nz http://mpi.govt.nz/ http://waikatoplan.co.nz/ https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/ Kevin Gooch Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |




It was supposed to be the end of winter now, but instead we got two Augusts in a row. Our little house creaked and quivered but stayed resolutely cold, expelling any trace of heat out into the wider world. Flat finances didn’t stretch to firewood and the boss’s ‘no perks’ policy really hurt us. “The forest’s not mine to give away, boys,” he’d said, standing firm amongst the piles of slash and waste timber. The house we lived in was though, and he was a bloody stingy bastard. “I can see my breath again,” Joel said, throwing another dart. “Let’s go to the pub.” We’d got the dart board when the T.V. had crapped out. It sure beat the hell out of shivering on the couch staring at a blank screen. Skek grunted. “No money, bro – and who’s gonna drive?” He had a point – we all had our fines to pay. It was bloody cold though. The old fella three doors down had more firewood than you could shake a stick at, neatly stacked right down the side of his house, but running up the street with an armful had proved less than ideal. He must have felt the same going by the lock he’d gone and stuck on his front gate. There’d be no more veggies from him. Last month we’d got onto a pile of forklift pallets over at the rail yard, and made a few nocturnal forays in Skek’s old Nissan. “We’ll never see out,” I’d whispered, as we stacked them first on the bonnet, then bridged across onto the roof. “Have faith, cuz.” Lights off, we’d snuck home - me hanging out one freezing window steadying the load, Joel out the other. Skek peering through the middle of the pallets like a pillbox, weaving from side to side to increase his field of vision. Moonlit and manic, riding our luck, until eventually the supply dried up. The bloody things had burned like balsa wood anyway. “Well, if we’re not going to the pub we need to find some more wood,” Joel said. He chucked his last dart, stuck a couple of chairs back to back under the hallway manhole, and disappeared up into the ceiling space. The chainsaw howled overhead, delivering a shower of borer dust and dead bugs into our half-cooked dinner. Skek and I shared a look as the house gave a little shiver. “Overbuilt, these old places,” Joel announced a few minutes later, passing long lengths of native timber down through the manhole. “Far more bracing up there than you’d ever need.” We basked in heartwood heat for days, drying our work clothes properly for the first time in ages and lazing about in the evenings like the truly wealthy. It didn’t last though. Soon the palings on the back fence were gone, and then one freezing evening the linen cupboard shelving went as well. Now if we wanted we could embrace the silky hot water cylinder like a lukewarm Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |


lover, not that it helped much. The next night when the boss dropped us off Joel hit him up about some renovations. “Opening up the living area would be the thing, boss - add a bit of value too - put in a log burner, maybe even some insulation.” The boss was unmoved. He kept his hands on the wheel, flexing his tattooed arms and shaking his weathered head slowly. “First rule of landlording, boys; don’t spend any money. Once you start you can’t stop. The profit’s in the capital gain, not improvements.” Joel nodded sagely. “Bloody builders are rip off bastards alright.” “Yep, if it wasn’t for that, there’d be no problem. See you next week, boys.” Next morning, we hid most of the food and filled the bathtub with booze and ice. We’d imagined a fine spring day for Skek’s party, but instead there was another storm coming. The place was that bloody cold there was no danger of the ice melting anytime soon. In desperation, we turned the oven on again, and stood around it with our hands out, thawing numbed fingers. “Pity about the boss’s take on improvements,” I said, pushing down the toaster for some extra warmth. “Nah,” Joel said, “he pretty much gave us the go ahead. No problem, he said - just the money.” Skek looked over at the offending wall and grunted. “Christ - we could knock that down in a flash and it wouldn’t cost him a cent, and the other one too – plenty of space then bro.” “Bugger the space, imagine the firewood,” Joel said, bouncing up and down. “All heartwood. If we started now we’d be done before anyone got here.” ~ Monday morning wasn’t so good. We were all a bit second hand and not that keen on work. It’d been the birthday bash from hell, a rabid rollercoaster of bad behaviour running riot as the weather built outside. The last of the more feral relatives had left with bad grace only hours before, off to God knew where. The storm was brutal now and gusty squalls swayed the house in an odd lurching motion. I had a vague recollection of one of Skek’s cousins crapping on about ‘lack of structural integrity’ or some such - claimed to be a building inspector too, which wasn’t the smartest. Thank Christ he lived in a different town. “Maybe the bastard will give us the day off,” Joel said, mournfully sweeping aside swathes of empty bottles with his boot. “Nah, he’ll still find us stuff to do.” I raked something crusty out of my hair, hoping it wasn’t vomit. I sniffed my hand. There’d be no felling today, but I knew there’d still be log making and maintenance. I was right; shambling out of the house we fought the wind to the waiting ute. “All right boys?” he asked, eyeing the mosaic of glass scattered across the road with a hint of menace. “A bit of a party, was there?” “Nah, just a few beers boss - no worries - no broken bones aye.” Skek’s grin was lopsided. There was no hiding his black eye. More worrying was the state of the house. How the hell were we going to tell him about our renovations? What seemed like a brilliant idea two days ago now looked like outright vandalism. It was going to take a fair bit of finishing work in there to make it look like anything else - finishing work that was way beyond us. To make matters worse, after an extra-long smoko, he announced we’d only work half a day, ‘on account of the weather.’ We all knew it was ’cause we were pisscrook and useless. The shipping container that served as our shelter had never felt more confining; it’s not nice to find you’ve crapped in your own nest. “We gotta come clean, guys,” I said. “Lets ‘fess up when he drops us off.” We wound up out of the forested valley in silence, each of us wary of what was to come. He had a bit of a reputation, the boss. Town lay waiting, hunkered down like a wet dog - bleak and sprawling. It was our town though; whatever happened, there’d be no pretences. Joel was the favourite, sitting up front as usual, so he got the job of breaking the news. At the outskirts, he looked back at us with a nervy grin. “Hey boss, we’ve been thinking about that capital gains thing.” “Oh yeah?” Slowing for the railway settlement, the boss glanced across and gave him the eye. Joel hesitated, less sure of himself now. “Me and the boys came up with the answer in the weekend, aye - made a bit of start, like.” We all felt his fear. A hard man from way back, they said. A fighter. The boss didn’t say anything, just stared straight ahead with a spooky sort of staunchness. He wasn’t even listening - there was a fire engine up our end of the street. My guts cramped and I wished to god I’d never left home. “What the fuck’s going on here?” The closer we came, the worse it got. “Where’s my fucking house?” “It’s gone!” But it hadn’t gone. It had just gone flat, folding down onto itself like a cardboard box.

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“I’ve never seen anything like it,” the fire chief said, clutching at the wing mirror and leaning in at us. “Bloody windy though.” One end stretched out across the lawn, dartboard and all - net curtains whipping in despair. Loose iron flapped out a death rattle and the clothesline spun crazily. None of us wanted to believe what we were seeing. What had we done? No one else’s house had blown down. We leapt out of the ute to escape the boss; he followed, roaring and spitting and looking for something to punch. Scattering like woodlice we tried desperately to blend in. I hid behind some firewomen - at least one of whom had been at the party - and looked in vain for another bolthole. He rampaged around swinging his arms and shouting. I had to move. I started sidling towards the safety of neighbour’s place, keeping him in sight - then froze as he huffed to a stop and let out a series of grunts, scanning about suspiciously. I was caught in the open like a bug on the concrete. “A bit of rot maybe,” the fire chief said, his gaze flicking away to the wreckage with a studied absence. Joel saw his chance. Stepping out from behind the fire engine, he kicked a stray can with matching frenzy and manned up. “It’s that bloody borer bug Boss. It’s finally done for her.” Rocked, his fight turned to confusion. He looked from Joel to the fire chief and back to what was left of his house, then shook his head in denial. The puff went out of him with a long moan. He backed away, sinking down on the lawn and covering his face. We gave him plenty of space, but he had nothing to say; nothing that made any sense, anyway - just money stuff. Thank Christ for that. ~ The wind dropped off as they took him away, shaking and keening like a wounded soldier. Our empties chattered softly in the gutter. I felt just as drained. Picking over the ruins, Skek eventually returned with a surviving six pack, and our precious dartboard cradled as tenderly as a new-born. It was broken in two. It dawned on me then what we’d lost. “Things happen for a reason,” I said, with a clueless sort of wisdom. “Maybe the next place will be warmer.” “Couldn’t be any colder, cuz.” We huddled together and shared out the beer in guilty silence. Now there was nothing left we’d never been more united. Joel shook his head in disbelief. “Bloody termites, who’d have thought?” He took a swig and sighed. “Still, plenty of good firewood in there, aye.” Even the boss couldn’t argue with that.

Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |




“How could you when you know we can’t pay the mortgage! Lisa needs new school shoes. Ben’s uniform is in tatters. The fridge is empty….” “Bugger off and nag them. I want to shleep………….” “You have to stop drinking our income.” “If I get up I’ll teach you a lesson you bitch!” Ben just had to get out. He and Lisa exchanged the look, and Ben slid out silently. His bike, bought with his newspaper delivery money, carried him into another world, often. His trout rod was grandpa’s, a loving legacy like the skills passed from the wrinkled hands and twinkled eye of the old war veteran, before alzheimer’s. Ben inherited his sense of humour too, and his ability to listen. He was Lisa’s hero. It didn’t matter that he was otherwise ungainly, a bit slow at maths and science, and painfully shy outside the family. He led her into a magic world of books, knowing exactly which stories would enthral her. At school she was everything he wasn’t. Prizes decorated their small lounge. Some were academic, some sporting. Next year she would be a senior, sailing on her own without the drift anchor of a loner of a brother. But underneath she was just like him. Hurting. A lone magpie yodelled: “Don’t dawdle now or cord’ll break and fish’ll escape.” A chill wind whispered “Lisa”, so tender and vulnerable. It was she who had blown the cover on teacher and coach, Bernard, who had slipped his hand up her blouse in a corner of the gym. She had grazes and a livid bruise from three girls after she reported it. Stories rippled around the school of their boozy visits to his place. After the board of trustees’ meeting the chairman had visited the teacher’s address only to find the flat empty and the bird flown, probably returned to his home country. Rumours and scandal briefly gripped the school, and to a lesser degree the town, evaporating over the Christmas holidays. It was as if the dapper figure in jeans and winkle pickers had been an illusion; a ghost, a brief bad dream overlaid by screen images of vampires war games and other TV mayhem. Ben slipped through the paddock to the boulders above the bridge. Here he assembled his rod, tied a small half-back nymph below the imitation cicada, all the while watching for any sign of a rise or feeding fish. The river was low and clear but spotting fish was difficult around the brown boulder stream bed, but the tranquil water and a sure hand flicking a line across it was soothing. He worked his way steadily upstream, covering the lies, lost in the focus on the bobbing cicada as the line drifted with the current. Occasionally it bucked as the nymph below dragged across a boulder or gravel bed, or hesitated in a stray water weed. The tell tale flotsam line dawdled along carrying the dry fly accompanied by a menu of bugs.

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He came to the bend by the old pump house. An overhead cable supported the pipeline that fed water to the paddocks across the river. It was decorated with flies from a hundred fishermen who had attempted to fish this lie. He drew the back cast horizontally across the pool and flicked the line forward, letting the cicada settle gently. A large brown snout showed briefly on the surface, drawing the cicada down. Ben gulped in awe. He had the presence of mind to count to three before tightening on the line. It was as if he had hooked a floating tree; one that kicked and bucked and swept unimpeded down the current. If he had not seen the take he may well have mistaken the fish for a log. The line screamed out to the backing as the rod arced and he had to remind himself to breathe. Ben followed the fish downstream, carefully picking his way over obstacles on the bank. Through the rapids, it plunged over a shallow gravel run where the dorsal fin of the giant brown broke the water in front of a tail that could have propelled a marine tug. It was the biggest trout he had ever seen. His heart was hammering as he guided it through a channel between the boulders. Then it was clear again, but still no sign of the fish turning. It bored downstream towards the willows above the Waingongoro bridge. He made an instant decision to follow it in the river rather than risk losing it. It would be several kilometres to the sea and he was prepared to wade and swim with it. As he arrived at the boulders where he had assembled his rod he slipped into the water. Icy hands gripped his calves. Melting snow on the mountain had stimulated the fish to feed. The footing was hazardous. Although the pools were only occasionally deeper than his waist, he was sprawled horizontal at times, rod held high, wet to his hair, hat floating off towards the fish. Half the backing line was gone. He would conserve the rest. The fish was under the bridge now. There were snags of all kinds under there; fence posts and wire, debris that vandals had dumped there over the years. But the giant brown forged its way through, dragging the bowed rod and the tumbling fisherman tenderly nursing it by the 6 pound breaking strain leader and stronger floating line. Ben found his footing under the bridge but the football sized boulders rolled and slid. He didn’t see the huge boulder before thudding into it. He reached out to balance himself and put too much pressure on the line. It parted and he went limp as a face cloth. He felt hollowed out, taking a long desperate look downstream, imagining the fish of his dreams doing its best to dislodge the hook from its jaw. Ben turned and gazed wistfully upstream, steadying himself as his heart beat settled. He had lost some skin, but boy, what a day! He was cold and wet and bruised, but for a while he had totally forgotten the violence of his home. As he weighed up his options for scrambling out without further bruising he became aware of a cord brushing against his leg. He reached down and pulled on it. It gave slightly. He pulled harder and a couple of boulders shifted. It was secured to a tarpaulin which he recognised. Where had he seen it before? His thoughts turned to a picture of the old tool shed; a blotched and smelly trailer canopy covered in bird droppings. He pushed the rod up the bank, gripped the fabric tightly with both hands and heaved. More boulders shifted and it began to drift upwards. As the clumsy bundle surfaced he noticed a protruding shoe. His heart skipped again as he recognised the sharp leather profile of the winkle picker and he shuddered. The shoe held a foot, part of something heavy in the canvas. A foul stench floated up. He peeled back the corner of canvas to reveal a flash of blue denim. A thousand questions hurtled through his mind while a nightmare of images kept popping out at him like targets on a jungle lane. He vomited into the gliding water and began to shiver uncontrollably, now hypothermic with the cold and wet, and revulsion. Deep breathing helped. He was holding onto the gruesome canvas bundle for reasons he couldn’t articulate. The current tugged on it and his knuckles grew white on pink. If Dad had done this he would go to jail. Then, steadily, he pressed it down, rewrapped and worked it back into its cradle, holding it there with one foot while he rolled and pushed rocks back onto it. His panic turned into frenzy as he hunted for more rocks to add to the weight. The pile almost reached the surface before he stood up, looking round desperately to make sure no one had seen him either from the road or from the nearby house. Traffic had passed overhead, but he was well hidden from the approaches to the bridge. Implications of being an accessory started to gnaw at him. The shivering had given way to cold sweat. He wished desperately that he could turn back the clock. Ben grabbed his rod, clambered blindly up the bank, trying to appear calm as he crossed the road back to his bike. His fingers fumbled as he secured the rod to the cross bar. The magpie seemed less friendly as he passed, as if joining in the turmoil of his thoughts. The big curve uphill gave way to the run home. The prospect of arrival there gripped him. How would he greet Dad? Mum? As he parked the bike against the kitchen wall every window seemed like a big eye, exposing him in detail. First he needed to confirm the tarpaulin. So far no one was in sight. There was the pedestrian gate. He hated the whine it made as he opened it. He ducked down until he reached the shed, then, hidden from the house, peered through the cobwebbed window into the gloom. He could just make out the skeleton of the old trailer frame minus canvas. The front door slammed, then a car door, followed by a screech of tyres as the car lurched down the drive. He wiped Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |


the sweat from his forehead, hugely relieved that he would not meet his father in the house but no closer to solving his burgeoning problem. No one was in the lounge or the dining room. Maybe Mum was cooking and Lisa was working. The kitchen was empty. There were sounds from upstairs. Better try to resume normality right away. But as he reached the landing Ben’s viscera convulsed. His mother’s racking sob was like a cold hand squeezing the organs. He was up the second flight in a stride and into the bedroom. Lisa was slumped over her mother, hugging her close, sobbing too. There was bright red blood, oozing between their faces. He placed a hand on each of their shoulders: “I’m here Mum. What’s happened?” The sobbing stopped. Both sat up and turned silently to Ben. They didn’t have to speak. Lisa opened her mouth but no words came. Mum’s ripped flesh, blood and bruising took him straight back to the bridge. A siren screamed as the ambulance spun away onto the road. Ben’s body felt heavy as he plodded back around the house, his thoughts spinning. He threw one leg over his bike and followed the ambulance towards the bridge, haunted by images of the vivid twelve centimetre rip around his mother’s left eye and the animal whimpering as medics lifted her onto the stretcher, as gently as they could around her damaged ribs. He could still see Lisa’s tormented look from inside the ambulance as they closed the door. He had not cried for years, but tears poured out on the wind and splashed off the cross bar of his bike as he peddled steadily back down the hill. He hardly noticed the magpie’s lament as he rode towards the bridge. Oblivious of the freezing water and slippery footing he worked at dismantling the underwater cairn, sobbing uncontrollably, seized by an incredible sense of sadness and foreboding. Gradually the canvas coffin floated up. He held on to it briefly. It hesitated in the swirl, before sliding silently into the current. He watched it through a fresh flood of tears, wondering where it would settle, and how long it might be before the cops came to ask questions.

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When I was a boy my best friend lived over by the abandoned Turuturu Mokai pa. My parents always made fun of my ‘special friend’ as they called him. But I wasn’t fazed as he was my best mate and I always responded with a ‘what-ever’ to their jokes. My friends name was Tonga and we must’ve been about the same age. We both looked pretty-similar being brown haired, small and wiry. Once Tonga jokingly said to me that he would’ve been the chief here one day. “Yeah whatever.” I replied cheekily. Funny what things you remember from your child-hood. When it was summer I’d take off my clothes just leaving my gruts on so I could run about like Tonga who never seemed overly bothered about clothes at all. Even in mid-July when the grass crunched frosty and sharp under our feet. One time, we must’ve only been about nine or ten years old when after a play-fight Tonga nudged me with his shoulder and then indicated with a flick of his head in the direction of the stream. Both of us crawled forward and eagerly peered over the edge down into the pool of water below. For ages we just laid flat on our stomachs gazing down at our twin reflections. Tonga’s head was resting on one arm and he’d let the other dangle over the edge and every now and again his finger tip would touch the water causing it to ripple. When he’d do this, I’d pull faces and we’d laugh at the distortions as the ripples elongated our grinning faces. “Tell me what you do” Tonga dreamily asked. “Like when?” I drowsily replied. The hot sun’d made us relaxed and sleepy. “When you walk into the mist each time you leave?” “Huh? What planet are you on Tonga?” “I was just wondering, that’s all. Come on let’s play catch a boy!” Catch a boy was our favorite game. It was sort of like a wild game of chase and rugby all wrapped up in one. The goal was to be the first to get to the top of the pa and then scramble over the red picket fence and touch the carved memorial pou standing in the middle. The game’d start by both of us climbing down into one of the deep old storage pits on the far side of the old pa. Then holding each other around the wrists with a firm grip we’d both start spinning around and around until we both got so dizzy that we couldn’t stand up anymore. Then the race was on! It was hard trying to clamber out of the deep pit while your head was spinning, and you were laughing hard-out and trying to fend off your mate all at the same time. All the way up to the top of the pa we’d repeatedly tackle each Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |


other and often roll back down the steep sides and all while we’d gleefully shout ‘catch a boy, catch a boy’ at the top of our voices as we ran. Today just like most other days as we grew tired I heard my mum shouting for me in the distance. Our family lived just on the edge of the Turuturu Reserve in one of the new houses. “See ya tomorrow Tonga, I’ve gotta go home for dinner.” We did a high five and then we both climbed back over the picket fence surrounding the pou. For some reason when I’d stumbled and slid down the grassy I stopped and turned to look behind me. Tonga was standing semi obscured in mist looking down at me. We looked at each other for a moment before he waved and ran off out of sight. Briefly Tongas curiosity about the mysterious mist flittered across my mind and I tried to remember what he had asked about me going into the mist. But by the time I’d gotten home I had totally forgotten Tonga’s questioning. Summer passed and then a cold winter that was followed by another hot summer filled with long days spent exploring the old pa with Tonga and wild games of ‘catch a boy’. When I turned 13 everything changed. My mum had been offered a job over in the Hawkes Bay and so our whole family moved over to the Bay. The last time I saw Tonga he was standing silhouetted in that mysterious mist waving at me. Time passed. We all grew up. Most Sundays I’d like to call in and have lunch with my old folks after they’d been to Church. For some reason they’d both developed an obsession for talking about the past. “Do you know that the original name of Turuturu Mokai is still unknown?” Mum once started a conversation with. Then she went on to reminisce. “You know I always wondered what the real name was and if I’d only collected a penny for every time I looked out of the kitchen window past little Tonga Hake pa to wonder at Turuturu Mokai, well! I’d be a wealthy woman” she continued. “I didn’t know that the smaller pa was called Tonga Hake.” I butted into the conversation. “Do you both remember my best mate Tonga who lived over at the pa?” My dad chuckled, and I noticed that he gave mum a quick wink. “Oh yes! Your special friend Tonga! How could we have forgotten him?” “What was that game you use to go on about?” Mum asked. “Catch a boy! Hey, I wonder what Tonga’s doing now?” Mum and Dad just looked back at me and didn’t say a word. Life is good. Or so it was until I got sick. But to be fair I’d have to say that I’d lived a charmed life. I’d done all the things you’re supposed to do at the appointed times: I’d done okay at school, been to university, had a good job, married and had two children and to top it all off I can say that I was a genuinely happy and content guy. But the thought of my actual dying scared me. I’d look at my body and run my hands over my stomach trying to feel the black malignancy inside. I couldn’t see it and apart from the occasional appearance of blood in the toilet bowl, I didn’t even feel crook yet. But I knew it was there, growing at pace with my burgeoning fear. Sadly, both my parents had died within weeks of each other last winter and I really miss them. I acknowledge that you might find it a bit strange that a man well into his fifties still wants his mum and dad. But it’s true, I’d love to feel my mums touch and my dad’s words of comfort. Still I expect that’s normal enough. Catch a boy, catch a boy. Every-time I doze off lately or fall into a light sleep I can even hear my old mate Tonga calling to me. Again, I expect that this’s normal too as my ailing body and brain start to shut down. I suppose all sorts of weird chemical things are happening inside me. It’d be interesting I suppose…if it wasn’t happening to me! Both day and night either my wife or one of my two sons are now always with me. On my good days we talk about the wonderful times we’d shared both as a husband and wife and as a family. I try to convey to my sons and wife just how precious they are to me and how much I love them. But now in these fleeting days the words feel like an arrangement of letters fallen haphazardly from the alphabet and totally fail to transfer my adoration in a way that’s meaningful. One such day my beautiful wife who was stroking my hand looked at me and said “husband, I’m taking you home to Turuturu Mokai. You may not know it my love, but when you sleep you call for your old friend Tonga and I have a feeling that this need must be fulfilled.” Even though my body was now weak and feeble, I felt a rejoicing inside of me. Home. I’m going home. I had no words to express my aroha to my wife. She’d always had the knack of knowing just what I needed. She wiped away the tears that fell from my eyes and pressed her nose against mine so that we could breathe in harmony.

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Arohanui. Arohanui. The drive across to Taranaki mostly passed in a blur for me. But I do recall the sound of my wife and sons singing and even in my dreams their voices soothed my pain. My amazing wife had got things organized before we’d made the journey and so there was a man waiting to let us onto the reserve. He’d opened the gates so that my wife could drive up around to the higher land next to the pa, close to where a lone horse was grazing. Supported on each side by one of my strong sons we walked slowly towards the old pou. My wife walked in front singing an East Coast waiata about coming home. I felt my spirits lift. The sights hadn’t changed. The line of cabbage trees was bigger of course, but everything else looked the same to me. In the warmth of the sun, my sons laid me down to rest against the red wooden panels that surrounded the old memorial pou. My wife cradled my head in her lap and gently stroked my forehead. I was indeed the luckiest man in the world. Even though I knew I was close to death, I had never felt so loved in my whole life. My eyes sought my wife’s and then each of my sons before returning once more to gaze at my wife. I smiled and squeezed her hand and felt her respond. “Catch a boy! Catch a boy!” My tired eyes opened to see Tonga standing next to the pou just behind my family. The setting sun was behind him almost blinding me, but it was him. It was Tonga my childhood friend and he hadn’t aged at all. He came close enough so that I could make out his cheeky smile. “Do you want to play?’ he asked. I smiled back at him. “What planet are you on Tonga? Look how old and feeble I am!” “You could play if you wanted to. Do you want to play?” “Yes!” “Come on then!” I stood up and looked down at my weary and faithful body. I walked around my family three times just looking at them. I didn’t feel sad that I was leaving them, but I did feel a certain wistfulness that we weren’t going to be sharing this adventure together. But at least I now had a certainty that when the time was right, that they would rejoin me. My Mansion has many rooms. Tonga and I played catch a boy and ran laughing as we re-discovered our favorite hiding places and trees to climb. It must’ve been a lot later in the day because by now we were both lying totally exhausted as only children can do after a full-on day of playing. Far in the distance I heard my mum call out for me. I turned to Tonga, “do ya wanna come home for dinner?” “I thought you’d never ask!” He cheekily called out as he ran off towards the sound of my mum’s voice loudly calling us in for dinner. As Tonga ran he was shouting, “catch a boy, catch a boy!” “Tonga ya cheat, wait for me!” “Mum!” “Dad!” “It’s me! I’m coming!”

Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |





Your eyes have seen everything now blue gone grey now burning white precision the last bright burst from a candle guttering in tallow sallow pie pastry skin wrapped in a wool shroud your hands woad with bruises you held onto the gate a last clasp to see me off I sought to dispatch the lack not to turn back only to cover the miles with quick-set concrete asphalt the thoughts no ambulance ward morphine cot sides set my head for hard and kept driving to know but not to say not to fade away later I wait in Darwin to book back business class when you’ve already gone and rain tears to comfort the dry dirt beneath my earthbound feet the warm air balmy and myrrh-scented like an old man’s dressing gown

Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |



After the sale my old man joined farmers, truckies and stock agent’s at the pub all laughed loudly and muttered quietly dry bitter comments about lawyers feminists, politicians and bankers about mongrel bastards with new ideas from the yuppie world of soft-cocks and wankers that forced them to smoke outside. After the sale work boots lined the wall to the pisser while men ogled the barmaid’s ‘jugz’ sat with their grey balding heads waxy-ears and hairy nostrils with their large calloused hands flat backsides and pot bellies comforted by background commentaries and yarns about the good old days when life never went far. After the sale the good old bastards talked about sacrifice, bloodlines and the weather about chips off the old block and loyalty cos, it was loyalty kept these blokes these mates, these cobbers together. After the sale they stood for an age pissing, leaning, watching their white piss carry cigarette butts boats to stack with their dreams on the grate, then dribble six steps after they’d shake.

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After the sale, the best had left in trucks and trailers, buses and trains cars and planes. While they remained to chew on the bone they called home.


When small talk becomes big talk Shiny tracksuits and thin ties

The worst thing about leotards Is going to the loo

Leathery lace shimmied by tassles Smoky shrouds of vape and spliff

You always look younger when Smiling at parties

There’s a guy with a mixing bowl on his head And another without any pants on Smothered in candles and cocktail favours Nostalgic cheesecakes cloaked with cream from a can New wave pallets set on fire A strange man rants his toupee askew Interpretive dancers everywhere Making shapes like they really mean it Sticky taped shoulder pads Deep breathing the smoke machine dream

Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |




of course I noticed the wear but I wasn’t aware that when I next went to sit they would split oh shit, throw a fit bloody counterfeit goods why must I be punished this way? granted I never pray but neither have I strayed too far from the doorway, the driveway, the highway it must be that time I forgot mum’s birthday that’s coming up soon, and it’ll take a full moon, monsoon afternoon, teaspoon to figure out the perfect present for her; dinner at a restaurant? just a hug? new jug? lounge rug? puppy pug? no she doesn’t want any more pets maybe just an evening of chess club, nightclub, ticket stub, chub-rub, bathtub, rub-a-dub why is there a massive fucking rubber duck blocking the shower?

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am I living with animals because the last time I checked this was a no pets flat, and that includes alsatians, crustaceans, dalmations and cats and bats and rats and most emphatically no bees or flees or manatees can’t you see? we need to breathe. we’re going home for the summer and are desperate for some fun: new years kiss? suntan bliss? take some snap shots, liquor shots, gunshots, boycott, topknot, seduce sir lancelot? attract tall boys, old boys, ocean buoys, play coy, shock the hoi polloi? start dating, creating, baking, gyrating? streak down the street? skinny dip in the heat? get low with a beat? stay proper and neat? sit my arse on a seat and do nothing but keep myself to myself and let the world come to me.




Gold lockets of matriarchs A bright yellow moon on her Bare breast bone Shielding her heart against inevitable woes Shining the wet light of a love that lingers Hanging over the ear of a scotty dog Their black and white faces Kiss whenever the hinge is closed Noses, cheeks, lips pressed Close like myopics to mirrors Angular hip bones unite In the process of considering Children, making children Slipping about like herrings on heat On dark satin sheets Did anyone ever say ‘It’s a good time to start a cult’? Her sugar intake is being monitored The future is female, technically A womb is still a womb

Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018 |




New to the market and sure to please, her home is a house that now rises and falls with the Nikkei index. The wash house can be reconfigured and wrapped in the faint musk wind from rats in the ceiling space. There is value to be added by rounding up rogue potatoes trading undercover in the vegetable patch. See past the dunny door creaking like her repeated complaints to the 24 carat opportunities inside. Reward tenants willing to pay top dollar for dirt left under the refrigerator with two shelves missing. Have the satisfaction of above average returns on a lemon tree left unfertilised for twenty years. Get ahead in the battle with overgrown corokia hedging in a location that can not be beaten. Peg out your commitments on the broken clothesline that obscures real rental returns. Know when to cut down the fruit trees and let her last letters fly from the letter box. Look with serious investment intention into sheds strung with frugal laundry. Commercial cleaning will take the sting out of the carpet where she fell.

44 | Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Award Finalist Booklet 2018

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2018 Ronald Hugh Morrieson Finalist Booklet  

2018 Ronald Hugh Morrieson Finalist Booklet