Home > Intermediate Fiction, Senior Fiction > Shadow of the Boyd by Diana Menefy

Shadow of the Boyd by Diana Menefy

Shadow of the Boyd by Diana Menefy. Pub. HarperCollins, 2010.

The burning of the Boyd and massacre of it’s crew and passengers at Whangaroa Harbour in 1809 is one of the major clashes  between Maori and Pakeha in the years before Waitangi, when New Zealand was a lawless society, although officially part of the colony of New South Wales.

Relations between the two cultures really depended on what had  happened in the previous contact between Maori and Pakeha. The burning of the Boyd is seen in these terms by Diana Menefy in this fictional account. You will have to read this short novel to find out what the misunderstandings were. But there is utu or revenge and cannabilism involved.

Into this novel is put a 15 year old boy Thomas Davidson who is based on a real character who survived the Boyd because of a friendship he had with George a Maori Chief’s son. It is he who narrates this story while on a journey back to England via South American on the good ship City of Edinburgh.

Much of the blame for the massacre and burning is put on  Captain Thompson of the Boyd, a cruel disciplinarian, and the actions of the ship that visited Whangaroa before the Boyd.

Life on board ship and early life in New Zealand are well told and this novel adds a personal dimension to an important incident in early New Zealand history.

I enjoyed the novel which is for middle school through to junior high school students.

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