Ngāti Whātua o Orākei kaumātua, Bob Hawke with poet Robert Sullivan.
5 September 2011
A new step for Auckland Central City Library
Auckland Libraries has celebrated a poem that has been engraved on the steps leading up to the Auckland Central City
The poem, Kawe Reo (Voices Carry), by renowned poet Robert Sullivan is engraved into the library’s new front steps, created as part of the new shared
space in Lorne St. The new work celebrates the relationship between Auckland Libraries, the city and its people.
As a major New Zealand poet and former librarian at Auckland Central City Library, Sullivan was the obvious choice to
undertake a commissioned piece of poetry to reflect the area’s vibrant history.
Sullivan has had seven poetry collections published and won several awards for his writing and editing of children’s
literature. He was a poetry finalist in this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards for editing Mauri Ola, the follow-up anthology to the successful Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English.
“I loved writing this poem. So many of us owe the breadth of our imaginations to story-time and children’s collections
at the local library,” says Sullivan.
“I wrote the poem with echoes of nursery rhyme and waiata and used historical information about the library’s place near
Horotiu Stream and Lorne Street.
The poem is one of several artworks in Lorne Street where outdoor art is a key feature. It is also inscribed onto a
large bronze 'REO' seat soon to be installed in Lorne Street.
Reo is a word understood by many New Zealanders as representing language and a Māori translation of the poem runs around
the lettering of the seat.
Kawe Reo / Voices Carry
Voice carries us from the foot of Rangipuke / Sky Hill / Albert Park to the Wai Horotiu stream chuckling down Queen
Street carrying a hii-haa-hii story—from prams and seats with names and rhymes, words from books and kitchen tables.
Now we laugh again in the St James stalls, in the bookstores, Seddon Tech, Paterson’s Stables, Odd Fellows Hall,
art galleries and our great Library gifted by our people who saved the words of our ancestors for one and all…
- Robert Sullivan