Waiheke poet to perform her specially commissioned work at Westminster Abbey

Pacific poet and Waiheke Island resident Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh is getting ready to recite for the Queen.
Supplied

Pacific poet and Waiheke Island resident Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh is getting ready to recite for the Queen.

 Pacific poet Selina Tusitala Marsh is off to London to see the Queen.
 
The University of Auckland academic has been commissioned to write and perform a poem at the Commonwealth Day Observance in Westminster Abbey on March 14.
 
Tusitala Marsh, who lives on Waiheke Island, was initially approached by the Commonwealth Education Trust last November.

But she thought they were asking her to find a poet for the event and started compiling a list.

It was not until two-weeks later, when they asked again, that she realised they meant her.
 
The Commonwealth Day Observance service is the largest multi-faith annual celebration in Britain.

It is on the second Monday in March at Westminster Abbey.

The one-hour service includes a speech from the Queen and features a mixture of testimonies, readings, songs and musical performances.
 
For 2016, the theme is "An Inclusive Commonwealth", inviting people to consider the meaning of a diverse, fair and tolerant international community.

Tusitala Marsh was given a remit to write a poem that was non-political, appealed to children and adults, and kept to a strict three-minute limit set by the BBC for filming.

She says it was hard.
 
"Then, three weeks ago, sitting at my writing table, aka the kitchen bench, I began chanting a line.

 "There's a 'U' and an 'I' in Unity, it costs the earth and yet it's free." 

It sent her on a journey, linking the theme of unity around the world through conservation and conversation.
 
Her poem begins by linking London in the UK to London in Kiribati.

It then shifts to smallest Commonwealth nation Tuvalu and juxtaposes its ocean mastery alongside European expeditions.

Ad Feedback

Other elements in her poem, Unity, comprise Samoan philosophy, comparisons between opposites and conservation of the planet through conversations over a cuppa tea. 
 
Tusitala Marsh will meet the Queen at a function in Marlborough House after the service.
 
The service will also be attended by the Head of the Commonwealth, High Commissioners, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and dignitaries from across the UK and Commonwealth as well as senior politicians and 1000 school children.
  
 

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Becoming Sweet Charity video

Becoming the title character of the musical Sweet Charity has been an overwhelming and fun journey for Auckland actress ...

The confident and funny title character of the 1960s dance musical is like nothing actress Megan O'Reilly has played before.

Women set their eyes on electrical trade

(L-R) Marama Amber de Rungs, Monica Kershaw, Susana Vulawalu, Tori Feau, Sela Pohiva and Warren Mills.

More and more women are getting switched on to a career in electrical engineering.

Boom times ahead

Cory Parish celebrates winning the Caulfield Cup aboard rank outsider Boom Time.

Sometimes all you need is a chance to prove yourself and when this Kiwi jockey got his, he grabbed it with both hands.

P researcher delighted with PM

Meth researcher Chloe Barker hopes new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will continue fighting for better laws for children ...

New Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has already proved her worth for meth researcher Chloe Barker.

Wellington

The shape of Our City tomorrow

Former Labour MP Moana Mackey, who now works with Wellington City Council's city planning team, is heading up 'Our City ...

WCC's 'Our City tomorrow' deals with population growth, earthquakes and climate change in Wellington.

New cycleway designs

Evans Bay option A had the most community support.The two-way seaward-side bike path is separated from the traffic lane ...

The 11 cycleway designs for Wellington suburbs could see more than 200 car parks go.

School without walls video

Green School was founded by former jewelers John and Cynthia Hardy in 2006.

Kiwi parents Rachel and Mike Perrett 'lost' their son in New Zealand. They found him in a forest school in Bali.

H&M offers European style

H&M Queensgate will open Thursday October 26.

The Swedish retailer, opening Thursday, will offer the same clothing you find in London.

Canterbury

Funeral angst 'not worth it'

Poppy funerals director Jasmin Teague intended to keep operating her business, but changed her mind days later.

Claims of death threats and poor health sink embattled funeral director.

St Asaph squeeze video

The cycle lanes on St Asaph St,

One busy central Christchurch street; hundreds of differing opinions leading to division.

East Chch school hall setback

Fire crews were called out to the site of the unfinished Linwood North School hall on Saturday. It was "well involved in ...

Fire, vandalism and the planned demo of Christchurch school hall wears down principal.

Rare study for stroke patients

Junelle Robinson plays croquet and takes life a lot more quietly these days after undergoing open heart surgery, ...

Junelle Robinson was "never doing enough", but a stroke changed her life.

Waikato

Biting the land that feeds us

Pukekohe potatos are under threat from urban development.

As population pressure mounts, food production is at stake.

Cash to quit smoking

Pregnant smokers can earn up to $300 by quitting the cigarettes through a Pinnacle Midlands Health Network programme ...

 Cash vouchers are up for grabs for pregnant smokers in a King Country town if they lay off the cigarettes.

Weather catches driver out

A driver took a slide in wet conditions at Palmers Garden Centre on SH2 Bethlehem.

Wet road proves hazardous for driver who plunged into bush.

Murray saga drags

Former Waikato DHB chief executive Nigel Murray resigned part way through an investigation into his expense claims (file ...

Waikato DHB could bill those wanting clarity around former chief executive's spending.

Taranaki

360 views: Gardening in heaven

290917 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Bindu and Kam Sharma at their Himalayan Garden of Tranquility in Whalers Gate in ...

Step inside, wander around, enjoy the interactive tours...

Crossing crash chaos

Rail crossing warning lights were activated in Inglewood after crash

Motorist flees after crashing into rail crossing control box.

Hospitality events attract hundreds

The Mayfair hosted an Oktoberfest party on Saturday night, which attracted a crowd of about 200. Pictured ahead of the ...

Hundreds turn up to partake in what Taranaki had to offer hospitality wise over the long weekend.

Life after tragedy captured in photos

Leighton Acharya, 2, and his mother Mez Newton, have been photographed in a series of images taken by award-winning ...

Just five weeks old when his dad died, photos have helped keep a young boy stay close to both his parents.

Manawatu

Watching with pride

Palmerston North's Brendon Hartley made his Formula One debut in Austin, Texas, on Monday.

Brendon Hartley's family gather at the pub for a champagne brekkie during the US Grand Prix.

Gateway ideas sought

Palmerston North's city entrance features were improved by yarn bombers.

Ashhurst could present itself as the home of the wind turbine or the Manawatū Gorge bypass.

From bodybuiler to mum

Jose Marshall went from learning how to walk again to competing at the bodybuilding nationals.

Jose Marshall turns her focus closer to home after her coma-to-competition success story.

Defence force to talk pay

Civilian employees of the Defence Force went on strike in The Square in Palmerston North in April.

Civilian workers and their military bosses must go back to the drawing board.

Nelson

Bloom draws crowd to Isel Park

Greg Olsen in a replica uniform seems part of a new display at Isel House.

Isel House reopens with a new display about soldiers of WWI with a Stoke connection.

State homes lay empty

A Housing New Zealand house in Norwich St, Stoke has been vacant for four years.

More than 50 people are waiting for homes in Nelson while 15 Housing homes remain vacant. 

Fighting back after cancer

Tyson Fitzpatrick oversees Thomas Ngaruhe strength and condition training.

After cancer treatment left him weak and exhausted, Thomas Ngaruhe fought his way back to fitness thanks to an innovative programme.

Injured tramper airlifted

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter flew into Kahurangi National Park on Monday to pick up an injured tramper.

A tramper has been lifted from Kahurangi National Park after hurting his leg.

Marlborough

Deck fall mistaken for army exercise

The railing of The Portage Hotel deck has been replaced, but still had orange caution tape wrapped around it on Sunday.

People at resort thought the blood was fake and the men were part of a military exercise.

Man stabbed

Police at the scene of a stabbing on Lane St, Blenheim.

A 26-year-old, known to the victim, has been arrested.

Under/Stand the sculpture

Steel sculpture 'Under/Standing' has been unveiled at Brancott Estate, near Renwick.

A geometric marvel, from the man who designed an island, just popped up in the middle of sauvignon blanc country.

What now for Marlborough?

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern announces a NZ First-Labour coalition government.

Major players speculate on how the new Government will affect big business, education and local government.

South Canterbury

Timaru micro-brewery progressing

The Ship Hop Brewing team (from left) Nic Mecchia, Hadley Rich, Brad Reid and Niv Cotterell are looking forward to ...

Beer will soon be flowing, in sample sizes, at a new Timaru micro-brewery.

'Keep rolling it out'

Waimate mayor Craig Rowley, left, Timaru mayor Damon Odey and Mackenzie mayor Graham Smith.

Faster internet for four towns will be good for businesses, mayors say.

Life after cancer video

Liam Crutcher, 5, was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a cancerous tumour on his liver, when he was nine months old.  He ...

Liam Crutcher loves to show people the scar on his stomach left after surgery.

Good behaviour praised

Aerial view showing  New Zealand Motorhome association rally on Caroline Bay in Timaru over Labour Weekend.

Good behaviour of South Cantabrians praised over the long- and jam packed- weekend.

Otago

Fire stops heavy traffic

A sizeable roadside fire at Fruitlands stopped heavy Labour Day traffic near Alexandra.

Labour Day traffic in Central Otago was brought to a standstill while a roadside fire was put out.

Otago scientists research Lake Wanaka parasites

Otago University zoology PhD student Brandon Ruehle with a bully he is going to investigate for the parasite tylodelphys.

Tylodelphys larvae burst out of their host snails like the Alien and go on to blind fish.

Southern Utd to build on first-up draw

Southern United coach Paul O'Reilly.

Southern United will be looking to build on their first round hard fought draw against Auckland City in the national football league.

Drunk teen's crash shocks

All four occupants of the car that crashed in Central Otago were intoxicated.

Intoxicated parent a passenger when drunk, unlicensed 15-year-old crashed car.

Southland

Location scout's extraordinary life video

Dave Comer was considered New Zealand's first professional film location scout.

From Barry Crump commercials to Peter Jackson blockbusters, Dave Comer connected NZ's landscapes with its people.

Ex-convict fears 'war on me'

Rex Haig, of Dunedin, is hoping to lodge a compensation claim with the Government.

Rex Haig's murder conviction was quashed, but his fight for justice is far from over.

Garage fire being investigated

A garage on a Conon St, Invercargill, property was gutted by fire on Sunday afternoon.

Fire investigators have been requested following a garage fire in Invercargill.

Climbers rescued after freezing night

Chris Prudden​, leader of Wakatipu LandSAR's alpine cliff rescue team.

So-called shortcut leads to 10-hour overnight stay in freezing conditions for two Aussie climbers.

Ad Feedback