The fast pace of a fast-talking PI Poet Laureate

25 July 2019: The fast pace of a fast-talking PI Poet Laureate

A whirlwind two-year tenure is coming to an end for New Zealand Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh.

At an emotion filled celebration last night at the National Library, the first Pasifika Poet Laureate reflected on her time in the role and the people who connected to the tales of her tokotoko ‘Tusitala Kapura’.

Selina Tusitala Marsh reading a poem
Selina Tusitala Marsh. Photo Mark Beatty, National Library of New Zealand

From primary schoolers to a former President, from Pasifika leaders to plumbers, from church groups to government ministers to royalty, Selina has taken her lyrical flow to a diverse group of people.

The pace set by Selina has been a hectic one more suited to a sprinter than the trail runner she is.

“In the last year I have visited 12 countries and 35 towns and cities telling my tokotoko’s tales. In turn it’s told mine.” says Selina.

Through the journey of telling her story she has also discovered more of herself.

“To be given the freedom in this role to do it your way, is the greatest gift.”

Tokotoko Trio, a book of three poems written by Selina, handprinted by Brendan O’Brien with illustrations by Fatu Feu’u was also launched at the celebration.

The next New Zealand Poet Laureate will be announced soon.

The New Zealand Poet Laureate is administered by the National Library of New Zealand, which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs.

Selina Tusitala Marsh and the tokotoko.
Selina Tusitala Marsh. Photo Mark Beatty, National Library of New Zealand

Ends

Please credit images to Mark Beatty, National Library of New Zealand.

Media Desk Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs Mobile: +64 27 535 8639 or email: media@dia.govt.nz