Today is National Poetry Day. PANZA (Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa) would like to celebrate by posting a classic New Zealand poem on famous New Zealand aviator Jean Batten by H S (Henry Stansfield) Gipps (1865?-1944).

Gipps was born in Midlothian, Scotland, lived in England and came to New Zealand in the 1880s where he settled at Wakapuaka, Nelson. He was a contemporary of other New Zealand poets like the recently republished Robert J Pope (1865-1949).

In 1907 Gipps published his only collection called Outward Bound. He was a sailor with a love of the ocean. As such, a number of his poems concern sailing and journeys by ship. Mark Pirie included his sailing poem, ‘After’, in his special broadsheet feature last year on the Christchurch Star poets of the 1920s.

Gipps contributed to the paper from Nelson, and also contributed to the Nelson Evening Mail and the Evening Post’s “Postscripts” column in 1941. Other poems in Gipps’ book concern family, love and life in New Zealand. His poems give us a sense of Nelson in colonial times, ‘Our New Post Office’ for instance, while poems like ‘Across the Seas’ look back longingly to England, a land he left in search of a new life in the colony.

In Nelson, Gipps was a member of the Nelson SPCA and the Nelson Poultry, Pigeon and Canary Association.

His publications after Outward Bound were in pamphlet form, and by 1936 Gipps was firmly planted in New Zealand soil when writing his poem in praise of the ‘Greta Garbo of the skies’ Jean Batten, recently the subject of Dame Fiona Kidman’s novel, The Infinite Air. Gipps issued the poem as a stand alone pamphlet (copy held by the Turnbull Library in Wellington).

Gipps’ poem concerns Batten’s world absolute record flight from England to New Zealand 5-16 October 1936 in 11 days and 45 minutes, which included a 2 and a half day stop-over in Sydney. Also a world absolute record flight from Australia to New Zealand (Sydney to Auckland in 10 and a half hours) and broke the record flight from England to Australia (5 days and 21 hours). A remarkable achievement.

Batten remains an alluring and enigmatic figure, the subject of children’s fiction, historical fiction and biography but little is known about her presence in New Zealand poetry. PANZA knows of one other poem from this period by Donald H Lea (1879?-1960), ‘New Zealand Lass with a Hielan’ Name’, included in a previous issue of our newsletter Poetry Notes, Spring 2013. Lea’s poem also concerns Batten’s 1936 flight.

Batten’s own aunt Marieda Batten (Mrs Ida Mary Cooke) (1875-1933) was a poet and Mark Pirie will profile her in the next issue of Poetry Notes.

PANZA recognises H S Gipps as a poet of interest during the Edwardian and Georgian eras. He doesn’t appear in any New Zealand poetry anthology that PANZA is aware of.


Lines Dedicated to Miss Jean Batten

Joy-bells ringing, ’plane low-swinging—“See the conquering heroine comes!”
Hearts and voices join in chorus like a mighty roll of drums!
Earth’s vast spaces left behind her—desert sands and forest green;
Flying at three full “half-hundreds” over many a chequer’d scene!
At her bidding roars the engine—flashing “blades” unceasing whirl;
Throbbing horse-power turned to action by a lion-hearted girl!
Now low-flying o’er the ocean, where wild waves her passing greet;
Soaring high above the sand-storm to a clear ten thousand feet!
Borne in safety thro’ the heavens; sunny skies and starlit night;
Kindly providence to guard her, on her long and lonely flight!
All attention keenly centred on the bright-control board’s signs;
Altimeter, “speed,” and compass—all its intricate designs!
To Australia’s far-famed country has she sped on eagle wing;
Breaking every lone-flight record! Loud we now her praises sing!
Then—to crown this wondrous journey, and fulfil her well-laid plans,
See her launched upon the distance which the Tasman Ocean spans!
Ever nearer grow the mountains where the wild deer loves to roam;
Ever dearer grows the prospect of that long’d for Welcome Home!
New delights and joys await her in New Zealand’s sunny land,
As once more she joins the circle of the happy “household band!”

*                      *                      *                      *

Oh! the ringing shouts of “Welcome” which her “wonder-flight” acclaim!
Sure in aviation’s story hers is now the brightest name!
Every happiness attend her! Countless blessings mark her way!
Safely brought tho’ all Life’s changes to the Land of endless day!

H S GIPPS, Atawhai.
October 1936


Jean Gardner Batten. Ref: 1/4-003023-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22700855


Works by H S Gipps:

Outward Bound and Other Poems, Nelson, N.Z.: Alfred G. Betts, Printer, [1907].

Soliliquay of the Telephone, [Nelson, N.Z.]: Betts Typ., [1908].

Enter the Doctor: (with variations), Atawhai [N.Z.: H.S. Gipps, ca. 1935].

An Epic Empire Flight: Lines dedicated to Miss Jean Batten, Atawhai [N.Z.: H.S. Gipps], 1936.


A message from PANZA co-founder Dr Michael O’Leary:

Kia ora, I am raising funds for my new CD, please look at my Pledge Me site thanks for your support, Michael O’Leary https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/projects/2406

The 18th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Winter 2014, volume 5, issue 2: Niel Wright on George Bouzaid (1856-1933); classic New Zealand poetry by Jim Tocker (1920-2008); business poetry in New Zealand by Mark Pirie; Manchester United vs Auckland 1967 in verse; bibliography of Ellesmere Guardian verse 1921-1922; new publication: Fallen Grace by MaryJane Thomson; tribute to Hilary Baxter (1949-2013); further comment on Donald H Lea; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.

The 17th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Autumn 2014, volume 5, issue 1: Michael O’Leary on A. Stanley Sherratt (1891-1977); report on the Hawke’s Bay Poetry conference by Bill Sutton; comment on John Gallas by Mark Pirie; classic New Zealand poetry from New Zealand Farmer 1937-65; Joan of Arc sonnet found; Colin Meads rugby poem found; comment on Harvey McQueen; new publications by PANZA member and launch report; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.


In the spirit of the Beatles who put out a Christmas record for their fans, Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, the Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa (PANZA) and HeadworX offer to you, our friends and clients, this small token for your enjoyment.

Poems on All Black Kieran Read, polynesian legends, retired NZ cricketer Chris Martin, pop hero John Lennon, the Wahine disaster, Christmas, cricket and more.

Contributors: Michael O’Leary, Brian E. Turner, F. W. Nielsen Wright, Mark Pirie, Short Stay and A. Stanley Sherratt.

Download and view the free pdf of this book (file size 599KB):

The 16th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Summer 2014, volume 4, issue 4: Rowan Gibbs on Kowhai Gold (1930 NZ poetry anthology); Obituary: Trevor Reeves 1940-2013; classic New Zealand poetry by Alice Mackenzie (1873-1963); comment on Yilma Tafere Tasew by Dr Teresia Teaiwa; comment on Lawrence Inch (1904-1991) by Niel Wright; comment on Martin Wilson (aka Rakamamao 1924-1980) by Mark Pirie; comment on the John O’London Literary Club, Wellington (1937-1941); National Poetry Day poem 2013: The Wreck of the Wairarapa by John Henry Dillon 1897; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.

The 15th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Spring 2013, volume 4, issue 3: Niel Wright on Kate Gerard (1855-1934); classic New Zealand poetry by James H Sutherland (1925-1994); an account of the First World War poet Donald H Lea (1879?-1960) by Mark Pirie; a tribute to S G August; comment on William Taylor (1894-1991); comment on H Farrington by Mark Pirie; comment on Chapbook; Vincent O’Sullivan appointed NZ Poet Laureate; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.

The Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa (PANZA) now has over 5,000 titles.

Thanks to all those who have donated to the Archive over the past year.

The Poetry Archive of New Zealand catalogue has now been significantly updated to reflect new acquisitions in July and August.

Recent acquisitions include around 250 titles from Rowan Gibbs, the Wellington bibliographer, writer and book collector/ book valuer of Smith’s Bookshop.

The Archive began in February 2010 with around 3,000 titles and has grown substantially in the past year. PANZA would particularly like to thank Auckland poet, editor and novelist Alistair Paterson, Wellington poet/publisher Mark Pirie, Wellington publisher Roger Steele, Cecilia Johnson and the late New Zealand anthologist, poet and memoirist Harvey McQueen for their sizeable contributions to the fast-growing collection.

A full list of donations is listed in each issue of Poetry Notes, the PANZA newsletter.

poetryday2013 copy

Today is National Poetry Day. PANZA (Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa) would like to celebrate by posting a classic New Zealand poem by John Henry Dillon (1860-1922).

Dillon was a New Zealand-born Manawatū poet and builder, living in Palmerston North. He was the son of John Frederick and Maria Dillon.

His only collection Echoes of the War and Other Poems, appeared in 1897 printed by Wm. Hart, Caxton Printing Works, Palmerston North, and J C Andersen lists it in his 1936 Author’s Week bibliography.

As well as poems concerning the land wars of the 19th century (‘The Fall of Von Tempsky’ for instance) and pioneering bush-life, the book contains a moving poem about the wreck of the steamship Wairarapa on the Great Barrier Rocks in 1894.

Andrew Fagan recently revisited this tragedy of New Zealand’s past for TV One’s series about New Zealand disasters, Descent from Disaster.

Dillon’s poem further illuminates the tragedy by offering a powerful insight into the ferocity of the ocean and illustrates the helplessness of the passengers aboard at the time the ship struck the rocks.

The poem will register strongly for all who lost family members in the tragedy.

PANZA recognises John Henry Dillon as a rewarding and worthwhile poet of the 19th century. He doesn’t appear in any New Zealand poetry anthology that PANZA is aware of.

John Henry Dillon

The Wreck of the Wairarapa on the Great Barrier Rocks

On a dark October evening, at the silent midnight hour,
  Through the surge of maddened waters as they rush around her side;
With her head towards the harbour, though the storm clouds darkly lower,
  Sweeps the steamer Wairarapa like a giant in his pride.

’Twas a summer Sabbath evening that had lulled them to their rest,
  Who were sleeping in their cabins, dreaming little as they lay
Of the danger just before them, as they broke the billow’s crest,
  Ploughing onward in the darkness o’er the dawning of the day.

For the fog was thick about them, hanging like a winding sheet,
  And the waves beneath it murmured sullen, as they hurried by;
And the winds with fiendish hissing round about the rigging bent,
  As they swept towards the danger hidden from the keenest eye.

Danger! what of danger was there when the ship was stout and tried,
  She had breasted many a billow, passed unscathed through many a gale;
When the tempest in its fury swept across the ocean wide,
  She had kept undaunted onward, never did her engines fail.

Danger! yes, when darkness gathers o’er the bosom of the deep,
  And a heavy fog sinks slowly like a pall o’er land and sea;
Then ’twere better to be tossing on the wide expanse than keep
  Where the jagged rocks are jutting, and the shore is on the lea.

For she speeds across the billows, cutting through the sheets of foam,
  Still unchecked, though prudence whispers caution on so wild a coast;
And a sense of dire forebodings fill the anxious souls of some,
  Though the captain keeps his vigil, and each man is at his post.

Yet they watch with straining vision through the darkness of the night,
  For the friendly beacon flashing o’er the dense enfolding gloom;
Hoping still to catch the glimmer of the Mokohinui light,
  Never dreaming they are dashing madly onward to their doom.

Sudden breaks a cry of warning from the look-out all too late,
  As with eager eyes down-bending through the gloom he sees below
Whitened foam and curling waters; telling of a coming fate,
  And the startled winds give echo, breakers underneath the bow!

All too late; one moment longer, o’er the man beside the wheel,
  Quick to action, hears the order of the captain, comes the shock;
With the dreaded awful grinding of the fated vessel’s keel,
  As she goes to helpless ruin on the jagged Barrier rock.

God can this be true! that blindly, on this wild temptuous night,
  Far away from friend or succour, far away from human care;
Midst the heavy brooding darkness, with the tempest of its height,
  They have rushed upon destruction in their madness unaware.

Was it madness! who can answer? Only on the Judgement Day,
  When from silent depths of ocean shall the dead return again;
And the veil that shrouds the future be for ever rent away,
  Will those lost effects and causes, with their issues be made plain.

Ah, but then that scene of terror, as the waves like wolves in chase,
  Swept across the hapless vessel all unhindered as she lay;
Like a worn-out panting quarry, in the long and weary race,
  Driven from its native refuge, hunted down and run to bay.

Then above the raging water, reaching upward to the sky,
  Mingled with the storm wraiths shrieking, burst that helpless frenzied wail;
Moan of mothers in their anguish, sending up the pleading cry,
  Most for loved ones swept to ruin where no help could e’er avail.

For like sheep without a shepherd, scattered impotent and frail,
  Helpless in their awful peril, racked with anguish and despair;
How they battle with the fury of the unabated gale,
  Lifting still the heart’s petition in the broken voice of prayer.

Flung in helpless dire confusion, on the wave-washed slippery deck,
  Hurled resistless from their foothold, swept away across the side;
Tossed like bubbles on the billows, as they broke around the wreck,
  Till the living hope within them and the breath of courage died.

Women frail of form and lacking strength to buffet with the wave,
  Reared in luxurious lap and nurtured in the midst of warmth and ease;
Now the sport of angry waters where the strongest and the brave,
  Sink in helplessness and shudder in the trough of angry seas.

Tossed about amongst the wreckage, bruised and battered on the sand,
  Caught upon the backward roller as it followed in retreat;
Lifted up upon the breakers, flung again upon the land,
  Till the spark of life was stifled and the heart had ceased to beat.

Never from the jaws of ruin, yawning ready to devour,
  Struggled mortal in his peril, grappling fiercely with his doom;
More than they who with the fury of the tempest in its power,
  Fought with death amidst the waters in the almost stygian gloom.

See those manly swimmers striking bravely for the wave-beat rocks,
  Where the slippery foothold threatens death e’er they shall reach the crest;
Scarcely refuge there for human, where the screaming seagull flocks,
  And amongst the ragged ledges high above them builds her nest.

Now they reach the place of safety, now the life-line stretches tight,
  Down whose narrow way of rescue they who cluster on the deck;
And amongst the clammy rigging in the bitter blasts of night,
  Fain must pass to leave behind them all the perils of the wreck.

But alas! no hand can ever reach to rescue those whose life
  Ended with that Sabbath sunset, never more to see the light;
Lost amidst the briny waters in the vain unequal strife,
  As the billows broke above them in the death fogs of the night.

Morning breaks, and through the mistage looks the sun o’er sea and land,
  On the wreck amongst the breakers, on the wreckage on the beach;
On the lifeless forms now scattered in the seaweed and the sand,
  Flung like refuse of the ocean up beyond the billows reach.

Morning breaks to wails of sorrow from the hearts bereft that mourn,
  Far and wide, in hall and cottage, waiting vainly evermore,
For the loved ones lost and sundered, riven from their lives and torn,
  Loved ones whom with greeting never shall they welcome at the door.

Though mayhap when years have ended, when the storms of life at last,
  And the partings borne in anguish, and the waiting days are o’er;
Hands may join in tender greetings, while the memories of the past
  Cease for ever in the sunlight of that bright eternal shore.

Poem © John Henry Dillon


The 14th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Winter 2013, volume 4, issue 2: Mark Pirie on James H Elliott (1879-1955); classic New Zealand poetry by John J Gallagher (1843?-1931); comment on W S Marris by Niel Wright; obituary: Sarah Broom by Dr Jack Ross; a tribute to Helen Longford; comment on Angus McMaster (1908-1976); comment on the Tuapeka Times; further comment on George Clarke; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.


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