sherratt cover

Title: Polynesian Legends

Author: A. Stanley Sherratt

Publisher: Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop/HeadworX Publishers

Release: November 2013

Price: $15.00

ISBN: 978-1- 86942-141-0

Extent: 44 pages

Category: NZ Poetry

Format: paperback

Cover art: Māui controlling the sun by Michael O’Leary, 2013

About the Book

Polynesian Legends

A. Stanley Sherratt’s powerful early sequence of Māori myths/legends has remained unpublished since 1924, when it was first serialized in the Christchurch Star.

Discovered in 2013 by editor Mark Pirie who has republished the text, this new publication includes an introduction by Māori literary scholar Dr Michael O’Leary, giving details of Sherratt’s life along with a brief history of Aotearoa legend telling in English.

About the Author

A. Stanley (Sherry) Sherratt b. 1891 was a Canterbury Railways clerk/official. He was educated and grew up in Kaiapoi, and afterwards spent much of his working life in Christchurch. Railways posted him to a number of places outside of Christchurch, including Invercargill, Greymouth and Kaiapoi from where he published his Polynesian Legends sequence.

During WWI, he served as a probationary officer in the territorial forces, Corps of New Zealand Engineers, New Zealand Railways Battalion (South Island).

Sherratt published the bulk of his poetry in the ChristchurchStar newspaper 1923-24, and was part of the Star group of poets 1922-26.

Stan Sherratt later retired to Nelson with his family.

Note: This is a joint publication between Earl of Seacliff and HeadworX.

You can download and view a free ebook version here:

Sample Poems:


Out in the west see the clouds swiftly massing;
Feel the chill sting of the wind that is passing;
Hear the wild gulls as they wheel in the sky,
Warning us mortals with dolorous cry.
God of the tumults, Tāwhirimatea,
Father of storms, with destruction, is near
Seeking anew his great vengeance of old,
Smiting his brothers with tempest and cold.

Dark is his face in the sky with his wrath
Flashing, his eye, as the lightning springs forth—
Threat’ning and deep comes the thunder, his voice—
Shrieking, the winds, in their mad flight rejoice.
Great is the pow’r of the God of the storm;
Awful, his wrath, in its terrible form,
Wreak’d on his brothers for tearing apart
Rangi and Papa, those dear to his heart.


Up ’mid the tow’ring mountains
  White with snow,
Up where the swirling white mists
  Softly flow,
Up ’mid the dark cold peaks and
  Caverns deep—
Goddess of Death was lying,
  Fast asleep.

None had her cold dominions
  Ever sought,
None to her gloom steeped boundaries
  Had been brought,
Never was need for her at
  Watch to keep—
Nothing disturb’d her long and
  Peaceful sleep. 

Up from the world below
  To this white realm of snow,
Māui came stealthily
  To conquer Death;
Sturdy and bold was he,
  And from all fear was free—
He would fight fearlessly
  To his last breath.

Goddess of Death awoke,
  Ere Māui made the stroke
That would have freed mankind
  From Death’s great pow’r.
Māui was slain instead,
  First of the sacred dead;
Honoured and great was he
  To his last hour. 

Up ’mid the tow’ring mountains
  White with snow,
Up where the swirling white mists
  Softly flow,
Up where the dark cold peaks are
  Headstones all—
Goddess of Death sleeps not, but
  Waits for all.

Poems © A. Stanley Sherratt