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Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand History’

Finding by David Hill.

April 22, 2018 Comments off

findingFinding by David Hill. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This is the New Zealand story in my opinion. I hope David Hill got as much satisfaction writing it as I got reading it.

It is the story of two family trees, one Scottish who settled in the Waimoana river valley  in the 1880s and the other Maori who were already living in the Pa by the river and without whom the Scottish family could not have survived. It is the story of early New Zealand settlement that has been largely overlooked.

The story then tells of 7 generations who lived, loved and developed the land in the valley. They intermarried and were as close to each other as it is possible to be.

One of the descendants named Alan Hohepa sums it up when describing himself “I,m Pakeha and I’m Maori and I’m Ok being both”. Recognition of the need to keep the Maori language alive was firm with Maori and Pakeha characters alike.

The story takes us from the 1880’s through landmarks in New Zealand’s history until 2018 when the current residents of the Waimoana valley are considering whether to sell up and move to the city. You will have to read the novel to find out the decision.

This is the way race relations is supposed to be and it brought joy to my soul. The ending is both apprehensive and hopeful but who doesn’t feel like that these days.

Things I loved about this book include:- I loved the way the Maori reacted when the bagpipes are played – like a screaming Taniwha. I loved the way the treasures of the silver bracelet and the greenstone bat were handed down through the generations. I loved all the characters who had a respect for each other and the land they lived on.

I loved the way the love of the land is not all one sided. I loved how the stories of the past were held dear by successive generations whose family trees are drawn in the front of the novel for you to refer to, and I loved the Waimoana river and it’s valley which is a character in it’s own right and whose map is at the start of the book.

Splendid writing by David Hill in his easy style and the art work on the cover and at the beginning of each generational chapter is superb.

For everybody really but excellent for intermediate and high school readers.

Changing Times: The Story of a NZ town and it’s Newspaper by Bob Kerr

October 23, 2015 Comments off

changing timesChanging Times: The Story of a NZ town and it’s Newspaper by Bob Kerr. Pub. Potton & Burton, 2015.

An historical picture book starting in Scotland in 1839 when a young printer James McPherson and his family catch a ship to New Zealand and start a newspaper that is to last until the Internet news makes it obsolete at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century.

The story is narrated by paperboy Matt McPherson a relative of the original settler and shows the same innovative thinking that his ancestor did.

Once the first journey to New Zealand and establishment is over eacy two page spread features a different aspect of New Zealand history from the land wars through World war 1 and up to the establishment of the Internet.

Bob Kerr’s comic book style cartoon illustrations tell a million other stories too and on all two page spreads their are newspaper articles that  throw light on what was happening both historically and in the change of life style.

To link the pages and give the readers something extra there is a scottish tartan quilt or shawl hidden somewhere in the illustration. See if you can find them all. I still have one page to find it.

More effective than his previous historical picture book titled After the War. Mainly for primary and intermediate students but something there for the adults to muse over and to relive the passing days.

Essential for school libraries and for the coffee table.  Critically a superb piece of work.

Aotearoa Series Book 4 – Justice and Utu by David Hair

April 3, 2012 Comments off

Aotearoa series Bk. 4  Justice and Utu by David Hair. Pub. HarperCollins, 2012.

Utu can be described as a combination of karma and an eye for an eye. It is both good and bad and boy are both side brought out in this exciting action packed novel. It is the fourth in the series that began with the Bone Tiki.

Matiu has developed powers since his Bone Tiki days and there are gateways between the spirit world of Aotearoa and the real world New Zealand.

When a witch named Donna Kyle is captured and put on trial in pre 1840’s New Zealand, Matiu’s father Tama is instructed to present her defence by Governor George Grey. Donna Kyle has been a fierce enemy of Matiu in the past but wants to redeem herself using Matiu and a clairvoyant pakeha girl called Evie whom she blinds in the opening chapter of the novel.

This fantasy novel takes the reader to the lawless world of  the Bay of Islands and encounters real historical figures such as bully Hayes, Bishop Pompalier and Judge JS Williams who later sent the only woman sentenced to death in  New Zealand, Minnie Deans, to the gallows.

Great action and fantasy in the Maori spirit world, a world uniquely of Aotearoa.

Will appeal to good intermediate readers but mostly to high school students.

When Empire Calls by Ken Catran

March 22, 2012 Comments off

When Empire Calls by Ken Catran. Pub. Scholastic, 2012.

I love Ken Catran’s books because they are so well researched and he seems so comfortable talking about war. This time he takes on the Boer War and what an enlightening novel  this is.

Told from the point of view of James, a 15 year old farm boy who receives first hand accounts of Boer War action and tactics from his brother Edward who volunteered to go. Edward was caught up in the patriotic fervour that whipped through New Zealand in 1899. The wonderful British Empire must be saved from the wicked Boer.

Oh how untrue and hypocritical this patriotic propaganda was.

Firstly soldiers had to pay the equivalent of a years salary and provide their own horse. When they went to Africa they were forced to use scorched earth and genocide tactics to beat the Boers who employed guerilla like tactics. Internment camps for civilians were used for the first time.

Catran also skillfully portrays the growing New Zealand identity at the turn of the century which was to mature after Gallipolli and World War 1. Already there is racism as Maori were not allowed to go because the Boer was white. Can’t have brown fighting white, what!!

An excellent short novel for high school students. Cleverly written by an old master.

Shadow of the Boyd by Diana Menefy

December 11, 2010 Leave a comment

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.