Poetry in New Zealand: how much and says who?


ARTbop Literary Editor Marcus Hobson has been checking out our collective level of interest in poetry matters.

ARTbop’s Marcus Hobson at an evening of alchemy at the Black Sheep Whakamarama

A couple of months ago the New Zealand Book Council published its annual report on book reading in New Zealand. I was interested to see what it would say about poetry.

Warning: the dangers of extrapolation. The research company who conducted the survey actually got 2,261 adults to respond to their survey. From that selection of approximately 0.05% of the entire population of the island, they have then extrapolated what the rest of us are reading. That is where we get the alarming statistic that 442,000 New Zealanders have not read a book in the last 12 months.

One of the beautiful publications of contemporary New Zealand poetry shared on October 11th at the Black Sheep by Marcus Hobson ARTbop’s Literary Editor

But back to poetry – remembering that I am not entirely convinced about the numbers. So, 30% of all NZ adults read a poetry book in the last year (up 3% on the year before). Kids read more – 46% of 10-17 year-olds read some poetry, as I hope they would be forced to do by the education system. Going back to that 30%, that means 1,372,700 people in New Zealand read some poetry last year, and about 950,000 of them were adults.

According to the survey, the average poetry reader consumes 5.7 poetry books over the course of the year, well up on the 4.4 books each last year. Perhaps there were some better selections out last year. But what that is all supposed to mean is that as a whole 13,151,700 books of poetry were read by New Zealanders over the 12-month period. And even with that much interest in the noble art of poetry, we still can’t get people to attend our monthly poetry evening at the Black Sheep in Whakamarama.

Recent collections of NZ poetry

But wait, there’s more.

12% of adult readers said they had read poetry by a New Zealander in the last year. That is around 464,000 people and it means those people read an estimated 3,172,900 New Zealand poetry books. So, 32% of the poetry that we read is written by New Zealanders. 55% of adults read at least one work of fiction by a New Zealand author, so it sounds like we don’t hold our native poets in such high regard as we do our novelists. Perhaps it is just that there are far more fiction writers than poets.

I need bread and I need roses (and poetry)!

60% of adult New Zealanders reported that they read a book at least once a week, more than read newspapers (online or printed) or magazines. 95% of adults participated in the most frequent activity, which is browsing the internet at home once a week. 80% do it every day. That compares to 65% who watch TV every day. The world is changing.

You can download the book reading report from the New Zealand Book Council website (www.bookcouncil.org.nz). It is 45 pages long, but if you love numbers, statistics and charts you can download the 500 odd pages of data that sits behind it to see which regions favour which types of book and break that down by age, gender, race and income band. More facts, in fact, than you can shake a stick at.

Marcus Hobson is the ARTbop Literary Editor.  He is a regular book reviewer and writer.  An aspiring author of both novels and reviews Marcus relocated to the Bay of Plenty from Auckland.  He has in the past done such varied things as study ancient and medieval history, worked as an archaeologist, as an economist in central and southern Africa, and as truck driver in a quarry. Marcus is a lover of art, the written word and a full-time fanatical book collector, with over 3,000 volumes on his shelves. He lives close to Katikati with his artist wife and their daughters, two cats, a library and the odd chicken. Marcus has a current “work in progress” creative portfolio of fiction and poetry.  With Dhaivat Mehta he has also been supportive of ARTbop’s efforts to establish alchemy a spoken word poetry gathering at the Black Sheep Whakamarama.


Longtime collaborators Dhaivat Mehta and Kingsley Smith who as Tryptofunk will be appearing at The Jam Factory at the Incubator in December 2018

Tauranga slam poet and alternative spoken word poet Dhaivat Mehta at alchemy, the Black Sheep, Whakamarama










       ARTbop is promoting poetry in the Western Bay of Plenty




Join us every second Thursday of the month

(next Thursday 8th November 2018)

6.00pm to 8.30pm

Read your own poems or poems by your favourite poet.   Enjoy the power of the spoken word!

Phone:   07 571 8722   021 145 5810

Coming soon…

Stepping Out  – 23 November to 8 December 2018 (Comedy)

By Richard Harris

Directed by Merv Beets

Synopsis – This is a rollicking comedy about the attempts of some working class amateurs to overcome their inhibitions and left feet in a low-rent dance studio in North London. Mavis, a former professional chorus girl tries her hardest to teach the bumbling amateurs some terpsichorean skills for an upcoming recital. But before the dancing begins Mavis must mediate the minor dramas that erupt among this motley but loveable crew on their way to triumph at their recital.  

Tickets are available on the website:               https://16avetheatre.co.nz/


The next Affordable Art & Artisan Fair will be on the last Sunday of November – 25th November 2018).   The Fairs are held within the Black Sheep Cafe & Restaurant complex on the last Sunday of every month 11am to 3pm.  There is heaps of parking, clean toilets and wonderful food and coffee.  There’s live music. There’s an event prize you can win.   If you would like to join us as an exhibitor/retailer of your original creativity or artisan products you can contact us at aaafair17@gmail.com

We are sign posted along SH2 with signage to the turnoff of SH2 and Plummer’s Point Road.  You won’t be able to miss us! We’re indoors over winter months and outside in the Summer. 

Just a tiny taste of some of the amazing art and creativity you’ll find at the Affordable Art & Artisan Fair:

Omokoroa Artist’s Maggie Savage with commission work

The coolest keysrings you’ll ever see

Reusable produce bags

One of the raffle winners: this prize was two tickets to 16th Avenue Theatre’s Stepping Out!

Another raffle prize winner: spring flowers, plants and garden gear!





The beautiful bespoke clothing of Molly May

Christina of Heimelig Studio: beautifully executed original art and cards – I couldn’t part with the third one I bought!

Outside in the Courtyard this time!



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