Poet Paula Green says the birth of her own three daughters, now adult, provided some of the inspiration for her poem Birth written to welcome Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford's, baby.

Green, who last year received the 2017 Prime Minister's Award for Poetry, was contacted by the Herald about writing a "welcome poem" and, despite nursing a sprained wrist, accepted the challenge.

Drawing on her own experiences, she recalled looking at her newborn daughters and, each time, becoming acutely aware of the whole world around her. She also wanted the poem to be celebratory.

"I did not want to tell stories about the world in a state of disrepair; I wanted it to be a celebration especially because I am full of so much admiration for our Prime Minister as a woman having a child and doing so while in a very high-powered job.


"It seemed like a wonderful thing to mark this event with a poem." Green is also active in promoting poetry to a wide cross-section of the population.

In 2010, she co-authored, with Harry Ricketts, the anthology 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry and has long run two poetry websites, NZ Poetry Shelf and NZ Poetry Box.

The latter inspires children to read and write poetry, an interest that Green also fosters through school visits and by publishing collections of poems for children. Her book The Letterbox Cat and Other Poems won the children's choice non-fiction award at the 2015 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Last year, Green was admitted to the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to poetry.

The full poem is as follows:


The wind moves
through the manuka and cabbage trees
whispering a tender song of arrival

Dear little breath
the little cheeks soft
the little mouth opening and closing


Baby held to beating heart
and hope and mother's skin
the father's warm embrace

The wind's breath blows
across a city, the stories
of here and now,
of days gone and the days to come,
dancing like a ribbon
of bright butterflies

a gift, a taonga, a joy

a dance for family
a dance for connection
a dance for love

The tui sings, the korimako trills
the harbour waits
the mountain listens
for the baby born