Tēnā koe David

David Eggleton. Image David Mckenzie
David Eggleton is Aotearoa New Zealand’s Poet Laureate for 2019-2021.

David began reciting his poetry at rock music gigs in the early 1980s and remains interested in presenting poetry across as many media as possible, keeping poetry live, relevant and vital.

His poetry has featured in murals, short films, on T-shirts, in shop window displays, written on pavements and included in art gallery exhibitions.

His first collection, South Pacific Sunrise, was co-winner of the PEN Best First Book of Poetry Award in 1987. His seventh collection, The Conch Trumpet, won the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Award for Poetry.

David received the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Poetry in 2016 and in 2018 Otago University Press published David’s eighth collection, Edgeland.

He edited Landfall between 2011 and 2018, and the free street arts magazine The Cafe Reader between 2014 and 2018. A noted arts reviewer, he has received the Reviewer of the Year Award six times at the New Zealand Book Awards.

David Eggleton has been described as a beatnik bop poet, performing with the perpetual motion of a jiver down at a rock and roll dance-hall on Saturday night. He has also been called a visible ghost-writer, an anonymous voice-over, a shape-shifting poet in the street — a freestyling surrealist and lyrical word-spinner rhyming to a rhythmic beat.

Of his own poetry, David has said it is ‘one long poem, describing the epic voyage of my life’ and that it ‘expresses my passion for the communal experience of living here, in this green archipelago in the South Pacific.’

Former Poet Laureate Cilla McQueen observed of David’s poetry that it is ‘informed with indigenous understanding and discerns the post-colonial legacy with a satirist’s sharp eye for humour and incongruity.’

David is of Rotuman, Tongan and Palagi descent. He lives in Otepoti/Dunedin.


Up here, seagulls float like kites on thermals.
Down there, a car canters like a racehorse
through pasture, towards Aramoana.
The giant wharf cranes of Port Chalmers
stand like steel giraffes in a story book,
and time is reluctant to turn the page.

A fishing boat’s wake is carving a V
in the freckled salty skin of the sea,
furrowing its calm green translucence,
until the sun squeezes juice from quarter
of a lemon onto the veiling, foam-white,
dissolved wings of a billion butterflies.
Pick up that foam, pick it up and drape it
across the dry riverbeds of the skies.

David Eggleton