It’s not often that a journalist turns up to an interview and becomes the subject of many questions herself.
But that’s what happened when Hibiscus Matters went to congratulate 11-year-old Laura Dymond of Stanmore Bay.
The Whangaparaoa College Year 7 student was recently one of just 10 finalists in the annual Elsie Locke Writing competition. The finalists’ work was chosen from 860 stories that were entered by students around the country.
Laura entered the competition, together with other students in her Year 7/8 Enrichment Writing Group, taught by Michele Duggan.
The topic was: ‘A story set in early New Zealand that is about exploration, a discovery, or an encounter’ and Laura wrote about a fictional Maori greenstone carver.
However, she prefers writing non-fiction and may one day pursue a career in journalism: this is why she turned the interview around and quizzed our reporter about how to get into the business.
The college is having artwork made by students and will put together a book of stories to celebrate its Enrichment Writing Group’s work.
The Greenstone Patu
By Laura Dymond, Year 7, Whangaparaoa College
I am Matiu, gift from God, and a major disappointment to my father. My name literally means ‘gift from God’ which is quite a lot to live up to, especially since my father is chief of our hapū and I’m expected to follow in his footsteps. The problem is, I’m nothing like my father. He can persuade a morepork to sleep all night and fly all day. And he’s as big as the mighty Aoraki; he can beat anyone in a battle. I’m kind of small, a bit shy and my only real talent is carving, which I love.
Our hapū is in trouble right now. The neighbouring hapū across the Arahura river say the fish in the river belong to them. Their chief has already presented their debate to Ariki Tauaora, the paramount chief of Ngaī Tahu and given him a beautifully carved stone patu as a gift. My father has only a simple wooden patu to offer, that was carved by my grandfather. We all know that no matter how persuasive my father can be, a wooden patu is nothing to one of stone.
This morning I decided to go and search for stone. We need those fish if we are to stay on the Arahura. I don't tell anyone, I just go. Into the welcoming arms of the mountain. A map of the mountain sits in the back of my mind. I come here so often that I myself have made the paths I now run.
I run for hours and finally come to the face of the mountain, a steep wall of entirely exposed stone. A dark entrance leads into a deep cave. Running is hard work and I never was very athletic. Feeling weary, I lay down and drift into dreams. A slow trickle of water is just audible but not enough so I remember it when I wake.
I’m thirsty when I wake. I cup my hands in the stream to quench my thirst when a glistening stone catches my eye. I kneel down to examine it. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It is a deep dazzling green and is smooth and cold under my hands. Filled with excitement, I realise I have discovered something wonderful. I believe I can carve this if I can get it back to the village. It is heavy but I am determined. The walk back home is long and tiring but my pounamu stone gives me strength.
My grandfather taught me to carve when I was small and carving is the one thing that comes easily to me now. I know exactly what to do. For two days and two nights I carve. I don’t stop. My hapū surround me watching and wondering, trying to catch a glimpse of my discovery. No one is sure what I am doing.
Finally it is finished. My father is the first to realise what I have made. An intricately carved, shining green patu. The perfect gift for the paramount chief. My father looks at me and smiles.
When the day comes I go with my father to present the greenstone patu. My father gives a brilliant speech. But as the paramount chief accepts the patu from him, my father seems sad. On the journey home he tells me that the greenstone patu made by his own son was the most important thing he had ever owned. My smile is huge as I turn to him “Don’t worry father, I know where there is more.”