Dora Roimata Langsbury (Ngāi Tahu) has wanted to be a writer since she was a child, so being asked to contribute one of her poems to the Victoria Street Poetry Project was a special honour.

“My Father’s Footsteps,” a poem wrap, did not win the competition but Dora was delighted when organisers asked if they could add her work to Colombo Street, to add colour and creativity to the central city.
“As an inner city dweller, I was most excited by the opportunity to help brighten up the central area. I live and work amongst the deconstruction and it has been a constant part of my life for the last two-and-a-half years. To be a part of brightening the area up is very special to me.”

Despite a long-held desire to “get creative words down on paper”, Dora always had difficulty and it wasn’t until she was at Teachers’ College that she was diagnosed with dyslexia. As she moved from teaching to marketing, she constructed methods to help her write business proposals and policies but she was no closer to becoming a creative writer. It wasn’t until she joined Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in 2005 and became a student support advisor for the Ngāi Tahu rohe, that she had a breakthrough.

“Te Wānanga o Aotearoa encourages its employees to develop their creative potential and they encourage employees to submit work to their annual academic and literary journals,” says Dora.

“My manager, Robyn Morete, knew I craved becoming a creative writer so she set me the task of contributing to both journals. It wasn’t an easy journey but some of the wonderful writing facilitators at the ‘Wā’ – Dr Alastair McLaughlan, Shelley Hoani and Shelly Davis – have been very patient and encouraging with me.”

Dora says writing poems for the wānanga’s literary journal, “Waiatata”, is what started her creative writing journey.

“My father, Kuao Edmond Langsbury, used to write beautiful poetry and I was envious of his gift. He was my inspiration to start writing and I wrote this poem for him, for his 75th birthday in 2009, to acknowledge the commitment he has made to his whānau, hapū and iwi, and to reassure him we will continue to awhi his legacy in the future.”

Dora has since attended creative writing workshops. She believes there is a creative writer within each of us and says the challenge is just finding the tools and techniques to unlock the stories and share them with others. She shares her poem “My Father’s Footsteps” here in the hope that her determination might be an inspiration to others.

My Father’s Footsteps
I can see you up ahead of me
I am following
in your footsteps

no matter how fast I walk
I cannot catch up

your footsteps are bigger than mine
but they were warm
and safe to step in

you turn around
and smile encouragingly
then return to your journey

thank you for your footsteps
when I can no longer see you
they will always be here
pointing me in the right direction

Dora Roimata Langsbury
27 June 2009.

Dora Langsbury holding the concept plan for the poetry project.

Dora Langsbury holding the concept plan for the poetry project.

Dora Langsbury is proud to be showing one of her poems on Victoria Street.

Dora Langsbury is proud to be showing one of her poems on Victoria Street.