Phantom Blog

Phantom Blog

Phantom National Poetry Day 2021 set to ignite public spaces!

Poetry fans across Aotearoa New Zealand are eager to create a vibrant, diverse Phantom National Poetry Day on Friday 27 August 2021, after the global pandemic curtailed public gatherings last year.

The packed programme goes live today (Thursday 5 August), revealing the breadth of our annual nationwide celebration. More than 100 events and competitions are scheduled for late August. You can find the full programme at Phantom National Poetry Day.

Now in its 24th year, Phantom National Poetry Day is set to go off with a bang, with events all around the country – from cafés and bars to libraries, bookshops, marae, schools, universities and parks. Poetry will also pop up on public transport, city streets, beaches, and hospitals. There’s something for everyone, whether it’s poetry slams, open mic nights, readings, book launches, workshops or performances.

Among the highlights are:

Whangarei – Fast Fibres Poetry 8: poetry anthology launch and performances
Auckland – Written Windows: poetry displays throughout Auckland Hospital, with a performance event including Selina Tusitala Marsh and Renee Liang.
Hamilton – Flesh and Bone ii featuring poets from the moana, including Kelly Joseph, Maluseu Monise and essa may ranapiri.
Wellington – Open Heart Surgery poetry evening at Good Books.
Christchurch – Counterculture – Politics in Poetry Open Mic: contemporary political poetry from Ōtautahi poets.
Queenstown – Pop-Up Poetry Workshop led by Amy O’Reilly and Bethany Rogers.
Dunedin – Poetic Cabaret: dine with pitch-perfect poets and invited instrumentalists.

To celebrate both Phantom National Poetry Day and Australia Poetry Month, online warm-up event Aus x NZ Poetry Showcase is scheduled for Thursday 26 August. The evening will include lively virtual readings from Tusiata Avia, winner of the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry at the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards; shortlisted poets Hinemoana Baker, Mohamed Hassan and Nina Mingya Powles; MitoQ Best First Book Award (Poetry) winner Jackson Nieuwland; and Aotearoa Poet Laureate David Eggleton.

On Friday 27 August, Tusiata Avia will also appear at the WORD Christchurch Festival 2021 event Confluence and Jackson Nieuwland will take part in Wellington event Shouting Into The Void: Six Poets One Megaphone.

Poet and NZ Book Awards Trust spokesperson Richard Pamatatau says, ‘As always, this year’s Phantom National Poetry Day is an opportunity for our poets to bring words, ideas and language to people across Aotearoa. To celebrate who we are, what we stand for and to reflect on what has passed. In the midst of a global pandemic, and after last year’s socially distanced celebration, it is delightful to see activity and vibrancy surging back into the day, with so many events planned.’

Nearly 20 wickedly good poetry competitions are listed in the Competition Calendar, including online poetry competition Given Words 2021 – Noho Mai, in its 6th year, and E Tū Whānau’s inaugural Spoken Word Competition, with winners announced on Phantom National Poetry Day. To find out more and enter these competitions visit Competition Calendar.

Much-loved children’s poet Paula Green has created an inspiring resource for teachers to use with students – one which will spark their imaginations as they write poetry and create events. Find out more at Phantom National Poetry Day Schools Guide.

Phantom CEO Robin McDonnell says, ‘Phantom Billstickers LOVES poetry and has been taking it to the streets of New Zealand and overseas for nearly 40 years. There’s something delicious about finding poetry in unexpected places – on walls, lampposts, billboards – for all the world to see. Phantom National Poetry Day gives us an opportunity to go large and celebrate our local poets. What’s not to love!’

Held annually on the fourth Friday in August, Phantom National Poetry Day brings together poetry royalty and fans from all over Aotearoa New Zealand. Many of the programmed events will be FREE and open to the public. This popular fixture on our cultural calendar celebrates discovery, diversity and community. For the past six years, Phantom Billstickers has supported National Poetry Day through its naming rights sponsorship.

For full details about all the events taking place, including places, venues, times, tickets and more, go to Phantom National Poetry Day Calendar of Events.

Social media links


Facebook: @NZPoetryDay

Twitter: @NZPoetryDay

Instagram: nzpoetryday

Hashtags: #NZPoetryDay

We get it. You want your sites to make more money

As a landlord, you know the hard slog and expertise it takes to sort out leases, maintenance and compliance. Not to mention finding good tenants!  

We know it’s hard work because our Sales & Marketing Director, Rupert Fenton, grew up in a family that owned commercial properties. What he absorbed around the kitchen table turned out to be oddly relevant to his subsequent career at Phantom.

Rupert, a bit about your background…

“I grew up in the UK where my family had a small portfolio of commercial properties. I remember listening to my parents and grandparents talking about rates, rent rises, deferred maintenance and all the other stuff you need to stay on top of. So I never had the naive idea that owning a commercial property was easy money.

“In the end I didn’t join the family business, opting instead for the media business. I’ve spent 25 years now in the outdoor advertising industry in the UK and New Zealand. I’ve worked for start-ups and the world’s biggest outdoor media company. And now I’m part of a great team here at Phantom.”

On the surface of it, being a landlord and running a poster network seem like quite different businesses. But you say they’re similar. What do you mean?

“It’s the fundamental business model. If you get the right tenant/advertiser in the right location, you will get the best result. 

“As a landlord you don’t want just any old tenant – you need a business that will really thrive in the space, as well as treating it with respect and paying the rent on time. As their business grows, you as the property owner will be rewarded with a greater return. In the same way, our advertisers benefit from being in high-quality spaces.

“By attracting the right advertisers into our frames, we’re rewarded when their campaigns succeed. They know they’ve done well so they’ll happily come back for more.”

Surely it’s straightforward – high foot traffic equals high value?

“Of course, a premium site on a busy street will command top dollar simply because of the number of eyeballs it attracts each week. But that’s just the beginning. 

“Just as smart retailers look to add value to their stores, we add value to our poster sites. So you’ll see retailers taking on the online threat by innovating with their commercial space, like Barkers with in-store barber shops in its menswear outlets. We have the same can-do, innovative attitude.”

Can you give any examples? 

“At Phantom we’ve been creating more four-in-a-row sites, because we’ve noticed that big brands like State Insurance or Mercury like to book sequential street posters that tell a story. We’ve also invested in extra-large sites, that act as eye-level billboards to give our clients extra impact. And we have the skills in-house to build shelves for product sampling, or to customise and colour-coordinate our frames with their brands. 

“There’s a big pay-off, because now street posters can now serve a strategic purpose in big brand campaigns – and attract more customers.”

What about the role of posters in recovering from Covid?

“We understand how their businesses were hit by the lockdowns. Losing tenants and customers was a brutal blow, and it affected our business as well as theirs. 

“That’s why we’re super-focused on maximising returns from our poster network and helping support the property owners where our frames live. You could say we’ve got skin in the game.”

You’ll love this prize

Rock music and posters go together like Page & Plant, Lennon & McCartney, Tegan & Sara or those two dudes in Daft Punk. Together, they make magic.

Designers relish the opportunity to create something vivid and original. Musicians relish the chance to connect with their audience on the street. The results frequently end up in the collections of art-lovers.

We love them too.

At Phantom Billstickers, the very first poster we stuck to a wall was promoting a gig. Every week, we stick up a load more. So we thought it was time to celebrate the art of the music poster with a free prize draw for Phan Mail readers.

The Art of Rock is 348 pages of visual delight – a lavishly illustrated record of the rock concert poster. From the hallucinatory creations of the psychedelic era, to the in-your-face impact of 70s punk, this book has it all. There’s a foreword by Bill Graham of Fillmore fame, interviews with poster artists, musicians and promoters, and much more.  

And it could be yours.

Be in to win

All you have to do is email Rupert Fenton at, type in your name and contact number, plus the answer to this question:

How many poster sites does Phantom Billstickers have in Dunedin?

Hint: You’ll find some useful information here

Get your answer to us by Tuesday 25th May and we’ll pick a winner. Rock on, people.

Legal stuff: This prize draw is free. Only one entry per person. No cash equivalent is available

A Tinker’s Cuss

Continuing on the theme of NZ Music Month, here’s a blog Jim wrote in 2015 about his best mate Mike Jones and cutting his teeth on Kiwi music at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre.

A Tinker’s Cuss: Jim Wilson’s Blog, 19 March 2015

I wanted to say a little bit about the French person here on Koh Samui in Thailand.

The French person gets about the place with an innate sense of superiority and casts around sneering at the whole human race and exfoliating socialist fumes on everyone. They believe that everyone would be fine if they only did as they (the French person) wished.

The French person always has two selfie sticks in both back pockets. Now, it’s difficult to sit down with four selfie sticks aboard and it’s just lucky that the French person likes to stand as they deliver you a lecture stemming from their deep and inner intellectualism and academic egalitarian working-class background.

I remember having two French teachers in high school. The first one’s name was Evans and his Christian name was so strange I can’t for the life of me recall it. He taught us in one of those big towers at Otago Boys’ High School in Dunedin. What I most remember about him was that he thought France was infinitely superior to Great Britain and then by association New Zealand. He flung his long, gangly arms wide open and around as he spoke like he was getting ready to sign a peace treaty with the rebels in Algeria and yet at the same time wanted to tell them just how morally in the wrong they were. He had enormous hairy nostrils that flared cavernously as he paced up and down the room with his cane ready to deliver a decent Froggie Thwack as he went. He owed it to us and that was the egalitarian part of the equation.

Monsieur Evans tried to teach us how to speak French by starting with the nasal passages and arms first and by then working backwards. If he weren’t so damn interesting he would have been a completely repulsive human being. I believe the whole Flying Nun music explosion started as anguish in one of those classrooms and most probably in those nostrils right there. I bet Monsieur Evans drove a Ford out of a feeling of doing something generous for the Americans too.

The second French teacher was at Linwood High School in Christchurch. His name was Peter Sharp and he was a very good-looking, blonde haired athletic type. From memory, he played cricket for the Canterbury cricket team and he was very good at it. He commanded everyone’s attention in the classroom and then he demanded utmost concentration. If he thought you weren’t concentrating, then he’d fast bowl a piece of chalk at you. I believe he did this merely so that he could get some bowling practice in. I don’t know how well he aged. I can merely tell you that he was a prick when he was young. But I think we learned a lot from him too and there’s the rub.

My parents and I moved to Christchurch from Dunedin when I was 13 or 14. My brother died in a tractor accident on a road gang in Dunedin shortly after that.

When we moved to Christchurch, I met one of my very best mates and a joker who was a brother to me his whole life through. His name was Mike Jones and his mum owned a dairy down by the railway tracks on Wilson’s Road. Our family lived just across the street. My mum worked in Melhuish’s pickle factory that was almost next door to our house and my dad worked at Stainless Castings in Woolston. This was good work for both of them and they enjoyed it. It took me a while to get used to a Christchurch summer after a Dunedin one, but I enjoyed the change. Christchurch just seemed to have more fresh air.

A notion of what being a brother means is that he has been with me my whole life through and I have always cherished having good mates. There is nothing better for me than the feeling of being part of a team.

Mike Jones played bass in various Christchurch bands and when we were sixteen we hired the Mount Pleasant Community Centre hall to run dances. This would have been in 1968. We did a lot of these gigs and it was wildly good fun. We did gigs in the halls all around Christchurch in fact and this was well before bands really played the pubs as all hotels closed at 6pm.

The Mount Pleasant Community Centre Hall was mostly where I ‘cut my teeth’ in Kiwi music. I saw what could happen and not much new came after this. Oh, they keep on calling it different names, but it’s basically the same. We would get 600 or 800 people in that hall on a Saturday night and there would be ten bouncers working for us. You needed ten bouncers because half the hall might have had 570 people and the other half had 30 ‘Epitaph Riders’. The Epitaph Riders were the local bike gang well before everyone was either in a bike gang or selling coffee or amphetamines.

I remember that after these dances, Mike and I and a half a dozen others drove our Bradfords, Bedfords, Austins and Vauxhalls down to the Silver Grille on Manchester Street for a late night steak. I always drove a Volkswagen but mostly because I can’t stand the French. I guess you know.

One of our bouncers at these hall gigs (known in wrestling circles as ‘Dr Death’) ended up being a screw in Paparua Prison when I was incarcerated there on drugs offences a few years later. Then some of those Epitaph Riders became my best mates in jail. Dougal Johnson was one of them and but for him (and a few others) I would have been a real broken arse. As it was, I enjoyed it.

Loss, what do I know about loss? What could I possibly know…

Mike Jones became a junkie for a while and ended up in jail for manufacturing Heroin in the 1980s. I have many proud memories of him and here is one: at one time in Christchurch one of the ‘heaviest’ guys around was known as Griff and he terrorised many in the ‘home-bake community’ by taking their dope off them and other ‘rorts that a junkie will pull in order to survive.

‘Griff’ went around to Mike’s place one day in South Brighton and demanded Mike’s Morphine. Mike refused and so Griff got out a pair of scissors to cut a finger off. Mike was highly intoxicated and not making any sense at all, but he bellowed: “Go ahead” and this was when Griff had the scissors open across Mike’s fingers and he was screaming and ready to go as well. “Go ahead!”

You can’t and don’t call a policeman in a situation like this. Not before or after. You know it, the other guy knows it. Mike kept his fingers and the Morphine.

Funny the things you can feel proud of.

The stuff I know about Kiwi music doesn’t seem to fit into any particular format. I see others write about Kiwi music and I mostly don’t enjoy reading it (or worse I get angry). It seems that they always miss what are, for me, essential points. But I think we’re probably all like this (we have unique experiences) and meanwhile Facebook is driving us all mad and wanting our fingers to boot. They already have our minds it would seem.

I am committed to not looking at Facebook after 4pm. I’d rather get some fresh air.

Mike died about six years ago after he had interferon treatment for Hepatitis C which is not a very popular thing to get and yet a virus that almost all junkies attract. The treatment is worse than the virus. He developed liver cancer and he went to the wall very quickly. His voice is with me every day and mostly the way he played bass. I feel it rather than hear it and the man went to his grave still capable of raising a snarl.

Who could wish for more?

Francisca Griffin: Taking to the Road

With songs to call on stretching back to her days with Look Blue Go Purple as well as two solo albums, Francisca Griffin is about to tour in the North Island for the first time in decades. The most recent of her solos records is the lovely and affecting the  spaces between. She’ll be playing Auckland and some  out-of-the-way-places with her band, The Bus Shelter Boys. She spoke to Richard Langston.

Francisca Griffin and The Bus Shelter Boys

Your album the spaces between is a record of such a particular tone and mood, I’m wondering how you approach those songs live?

Ah, that’s a good question. That was a solo record with a lot of help from amazing people, Mick Elborado for example, he plays keyboards on ‘Rising Tide’ and now he’s in the band playing bass. I’ve got Gabriel on drums and the songs have morphed a little bit as I think songs should. The same basic bones are there with the ones I play with the band.

We went into practice and I just told Gabriel and Mick that they should play, well we just started, and they played what they wanted. There’s only one song where I directed Gabriel and sometimes I tweak a little bit of what Mick’s done – can you hold off on this bit, and that bit’s really great. I really like what they’ve brought to it and I enjoy listening to other people’s interpretations within the tunes.

We’ve got three new songs and we’re going to bring them on tour. We also play some of my older music like ‘Eyes Are the Door’ which is on the Look Blue Go Purple compilation, the first song I ever wrote. 

What I particularly enjoy about Spaces is how it evokes where you live (Port Chalmers) and people who are obviously close to you…

Yep, it’s songs written over 15 years…maybe a bit more actually. I started writing ‘Stardust’

in 1995 but it didn’t morph into what it is on the record now until 2012, it just happened one day when I was practising , ah, those words fit this.

Were you surprised when you were writing Spaces how powerfully some of those people came back to you, for instance the song about Martyn Bull (who she married and who died aged just 22 in 1983…and who famously drummed on Chills song ‘Pink Frost’)…

That song, ‘Martyn’, I wrote when I was playing with Sandra Bell and Dianne Civil  and Emma Milburn…we were this very short-lived band called Formentations and I wrote it just after we had stopped playing. That song just arrived like so many of my songs do. I do have to work at some of them of course, you do end up working on all of them to some extent, but that song was just there.

I have this new view of death, it’s not a popular one,  which is cool…it doesn’t bother me. Not long after Martyn died I was as you would imagine bereft. One night I lay down on his side of the bed and I was fucking miserable…and as I was drifitng off to sleep…and this is no word of a lie…this happened… I felt a weight on the bed come down beside me and then give a really amazing hug. When I woke up it wasn’t there. I think it was Martyn. He was coming to give me a hug to say that he was alright, he was doing okay.

What year did you write that song?


Ok that’s sometime after …

Oh yeah, totally. The time between I spent in LBGP and being a mum and being in a relationship where I was not at all confident to go and play and my partner was not in the least bit supportive of that, and so I lost confidence pretty much completely. A pretty difficult few years but I got a few songs out of it (laughs).

One of the other songs that’s very affecting is ‘Ghost Boy’…I heard it and got the impression you’d lost someone else…

That was written in 2000, I started writing it on bass and then moved it over to the guitar – it was the patterns as opposed to the notes because of course my bass is left-handed – conventional left-handed and my guitar is left-handed but my strings are all around the other way cos as people know who’ve read any interviews with me I learned to play at peoples’ houses at parties in the ‘80s and they all had right-handed guitars.

My son Oscar was visiting here from London, his Dad brought him over when he was 12. The visit had some really really really good aspects to it of course, I was seeing my son for the first time in two years and he was seeing us for the first time in two years and getting to know his little brothers a little better. At some stage we had a gigantic fight, and he couldn’t vocalise why he was so angry and I wrote him a really long letter…actually I never sent it…I gave it to him when he was older…just to put it out there I think we’ve resolved those things and have mended those hurts.

That song, every time I played it for a long time, and still sometimes now, I start crying, and lots of people cry when they hear it. Ro Rushton Green who’s just joined our band from the band Sewage, Ro plays violin and we started practising it last week so we’re going to do it on tour.

Ther version you have recorded on the album…Alastair Galbraith’s playing…the way he makes his guitar burble…moan…mourn…and lament…it’s incredible…

He does an astounding job. When we started practicing last week Ro cried while she was playing. It’s not just a song about Oscar… it’s a song about loss. The last two verses are about realising that you are still connected although you are not in the same room. 

When we play ‘Ghost Boy’ it will be just me and Ro. I’ve played a few times solo when I’ve asked Alastair to come and play as well which has been really amazing. There’s 3 songs on that record that Alistair’s on that I’ve roped him into playing live a few times which is awesome. 

‘Martyn’ was recorded with Gabriel (her son) and me playing guitar and Ro playing baritone sax, on tour Ro will play an alto sax cos a baritone is a monster to cart around and Mick’s bass is pretty much the only thing new on that song when we play live.

Which reminds of the fact you’ve got a knack..a gift…an ability to gather a community of musicians around you when you want to make music…

It’s just so heartening. Let’s talk a little about Songs from the Sky (her first solo album released in 1998). That came about because I played at The Empire one night a solo thing with Alastair Galbraith and Peter Jefferies and for some reason I ended up playing last when it didn’t even occur to me…I’m a bit naive sometimes…(laughs)…following Peter and Alastair was a big ask and to hold people’s attention.

When I was finished playing someone said to me , that took guts to play after them and I just went, what? David Kilgour came up to and he said, they’re great songs… When are you going to record them? I just looked at him and thought, here’s this guy that I absolutely admire, I’ve loved his guitaring forever, so when he said this, I thought…ah huh (laughs).

I got funding after Roy Colbert, bless him, and David wrote letters of recommendation. I asked David if he would help on it and he was amazing, he and Stephen Kilroy, they put up with me being a mother of small children and my band Heath Te Au and Tenzin Mullin they were pretty amazing too.

I got the CD out recently and looked at what we all did and OMG David plays a lot on that record, and I had a convo with him recently and said once again how appreciative I was of his help through that entire process and he said, oh, it was fun, I really enjoyed it. I said do you remember playing all those basslines and he said, no. He plays a few on that record and some guitar on ‘What Dreams’. We play that one live, that’s a lot of fun.

In our set we also play  ‘Lunar Fall’ the Cyclops song and we play ‘Call Me’ from Some from the Sky and ‘Antarctic’ from the Shrew’d compilation in 1993  released in Women’s Suffrage year.

You’ve said in the past that you play by feel,  I wonder what about your boys, do they have a similar approach to you?

Alexander’s not in the band but he is on the record. He did music at school. He doesn’t read music but he knows about chords and he knows about transposing and keys which I don’t have a clue about…none whatsoever…Ro and Mick know keys so Ro goes what key’s that in and I say I dunno ask Mick (laughs).

Gabriel also took music at school  but he plays by feel and honestly he’s just the most incredible drummer. He’s in a couple of other bands which I dub screamo bands. They play super fast.

There’s quite a gap between your solo albums – something like 17 years – when might you make another?

Next year. We’ve got three songs so far and when I play really intensely I start to write. I can’t just sit down and write – I can do little riffs and stuff – that intense outpouring really happens when I’m playing a lot, either practising or touring. The three new songs are fully band songs and one of them is called ‘Broken Heart’, another song that has made people cry. 

But y’know that thing of listening to some music and having your own moment of being so touched I know that  is a really important thing for people to have that connection and feel that way.

What local bands are you listening to…and getting excited about?

Na Noise. They are  bloody amazing. OMG…Night Lunch. Anything Milly Lovelock touches is amazing, another young woman called Julie Dunn… she’s got a couple of projects called Bathysphere and  Fleshbug . I love Tiny Pieces of Eight and Wet Specimen and Negative Nancies.

Gabe said you’ve gotta come and see this band Dick Move. They really like you and they’re fans of yours, and  when I met them they were so fanned-out they couldn’t actually talk to me. They’re ok now! Lucy the singer was wearing the Look Blue Go Purple t-shirt on stage last night when I saw them, really cool. 

There’s a lot of activity on the experimental side of things – there’s a crashie noise trio of Peter Porteous, Mick Elborado and Robbie Yeats. They’re calling themselves Ghost Bells.

That’s a juggernaut of sometimes not working but sometimes working and working well.

And I have it on good authority from Bruce Blucher that the Alpaca Brothers have just recorded some new songs with Bob Scott.

Are you looking forward to getting on the road…playing Auckland and then some out of the way places….in Palmerston North…Featherston…and Paekakariki…

Absolutely.  I haven’t toured – we did three gigs in the South Island in January 2019 for the spaces between- but I haven’t been in the North Island playing with a band and doing that driving around stuff since 1987, the last Look Blue Go Purple tour. We played some unusual places then, we really didn’t want to do the university circuit again, we played lots of different places including Greymouth in this tiny bar I think it was called the Tramway. That was hilarious, the entire town turned out to see us, then took us somewhere for a party. Great. I’m so looking forward to the wonderful places we’re going to play – it’ll be a blast. 

The smaller places anyone can come, they’re all ages venues which we love. And St Peter’s in Paekakariki looks like a pleasure to be in. Featherston is a tiny gallery,  Miracle Room. That’ll be me and Ro playing quietly.

Purchase tickets here