A Treasury of New Zealand Verse




Brasch Collection PR963525 TS39 1926



Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs


In 1906, journalist W.F. Alexander and lawyer A.E. Currie published New Zealand Verse, the first multi-author anthology of English-language ‘New Zealand’ poetry. The publication represented a growing need for the colonists to show themselves worthy as a burgeoning nation with its own values and customs.
In the introduction, the editors declare a ‘conviction’ that certain New Zealand poetry volumes ‘contain verse which at least comes well up to the level of modern minor poetry ... It may be admitted from the outset that there is nothing very great to be disclosed herein; the poetical element that a new land contains must always at first be small and of little power.’
While writing a thesis on ‘New Zealand poetic reality’, I often delved into New Zealand Verse to inspect it as an artefact of its time. There are no contributions in te Reo, but Maori subjects do feature, a flavour of idiosyncrasy designed to increase the collection’s marketability in the eyes of its overseas publisher. Quaint as it may now appear, New Zealand Verse is not without value. Poems like H.L. Twisleton’s ‘The Whare’ obliquely express the searching loneliness of often talented settlers, probing for subject matter to exercise their usually modest creative ambitions.
(Chosen by Dr Richard Reeve, Dunedin poet and lawyer)


Cab 9 curriealex.jpg


W.F. Alexander and A.E. Currie, “A Treasury of New Zealand Verse,” ourheritage.ac.nz | OUR Heritage, accessed February 8, 2023, https://otago.ourheritage.ac.nz/items/show/9943.