Two new special issues of Toitoi: A Journal for Young Writers and Artists, showcase stories, poems and art about the vibrant cultures of Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Last year, young writers and artists aged 5-14 submitted over 400 stories, poems and art exploring their connections with the vibrant cultures of Latin America and Southeast Asia. They were encouraged to write in English, any languages of these regions or a creative mix of different languages as well as send any forms of visual art! 117 students had their work chosen for publication in the journals. 

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The School of Languages and Cultures at Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington coordinated a team of experts who translated all of the written pieces into the languages of the regions, creating multilingual publications in English and 14 other languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Bahasa Indonesian, Balinese, Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Malay, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, te reo Māori, Tetum and Vietnamese.

A copy of each will be given to every primary, intermediate school and public library in New Zealand.

In April 2019, The National Library of New Zealand, Services to Schools, also assisted by inviting teachers to join workshops to support the project in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in the first week of the school holidays. The purpose of these workshops was to provide teachers with resources and ideas that they can use in the classroom to teach their students about Southeast Asia and Latin America, and to inspire them to submit writing and art about these regions for publication.

If you missed the workshops, you can still download posters and teacher support material here.

The National Library has curated a set of resources for this special project based around culture, history, art, music, and events of interest from Latin America and Southeast Asia. These resources can be used to inspire art and writing based on these regions.

Teacher Support Material                                                  Southeast Asia Topic Explorer

Featured Toitoi authors

Francesco Giovanni Lopez
Francesco Giovanni Lopez
Age 10

What’s your name, how old are you, and where do you go to school?

My name is Francesco Giovanni Lopez. I am 10 years old and go to Boulcott School, New Zealand. 

How does it feel to have your work published in the special edition Toitoi?

I feel honored that my literary work has been selected and published into the Toi-Toi journal.This means a lot to me. Thank you! 

What’s your connection with Southeast Asia?

My roots originated from the Philippines, one of the Southeast Asian nations. Although I was born and still live in New Zealand, my family and I would often travel the Philippines and visit Avila, Guimaras where my lovely grandmother lives. 

Tell us about your favourite Southeast Asia memory.

My favourite Asia memory was when we went island hopping through various Guimaras islets, went snorkeling and visited a cave full of Bats. It was indescribably exciting! 

Quinn Matariki Ashby
Quinn Matariki Ashby
Age 13

What’s your name, how old are you, and where do you go to school?

My name is Quinn Matariki Ashby and I'm 13 years old. I'm homeschooled and have been for the last four years.

How does it feel to have your work published in the special edition Toitoi?

Last year I wrote a piece that was published in the Special Edition Toitoi. It felt like taking the first step in my writing towards bigger things! I enjoyed learning about the process of submitting work and having a real editor check in with me. When I first saw my work in print it was a little bit overwhelming.

What’s your connection with Southeast Asia?

I spent the first part of my life  living in South East Asia and then when we moved to China my family took lots of our holidays around South East Asia. 

Tell us about your favourite Southeast Asia memory.

One of my favourite South East Asia memories are of shopping trips to the markets. It's amazing how far my pocket money used to go! I used to like watching the bargaining process between my dad and the stall holders - so many noises, colours and smells!

I'd always choose to return to Thailand because of the food, the weather, the beaches, the language and the people - it is after all the 'land of smiles'.

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