Monday 4 April 2022

The Water Bottle

The Water Bottle is the story of three children: Tom, Airini and Derya. They come from different backgrounds, but maybe their families are connected in ways they don’t yet know.

This has been a lovely book to work on. There are a number of Anzac Day-themed picture books, but I think this one is unique for its pairing of a NZ writer and Turkish illustrator. I loved working with Oratia and seeing how the project developed, from our initial discussion to the finished book.  

Picture book writers and illustrators often work quite separately, but because Burak Akbay was in Turkey, we sent him suggestions for some NZ scenes, like what a typical war memorial or classroom might look like. But of course he was very familiar with the Turkish scenes, and it was fascinating to see his interpretation of them, and to watch the illustrations developing as he created them. 

You can read more about the book (and my own trip to Gallipoli) here on my website. 


Today polio is an almost forgotten disease, but a hundred years ago, polio epidemics regularly swept the world. This is the story of the 1936/37 polio epidemic in New Zealand.

Quarantine was first published by Scholastic as Enemy at the Gate, but it's now been republished and brought under the My New Zealand Story banner.

I love the fabulous new cover, and I'm so pleased that this book will now reach a new generation of readers for whom epidemics are now part of their lives, not just a story from history. 

Thanks to Bobs Books Blog for this thoughtful review

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Why do creative rights matter?

Sharing the stories behind my books Enemy at the Gate and The Great Chocolate Cake Bake Off here with @CreativeReadsNZ. 

As their website says, creative rights are Good for our economy, Good for our culture, Good for our social wellbeing and Good for all of us.

#CreativeRightsNZ @CreativeReadsNZ

Friday 11 June 2021

2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

I'm very happy and excited to be shortlisted in the Picture book section of these awards with This is Where I Stand, beautifully illustrated by Kieran Rynhart and published by Scholastic. It's a privilege to be included amongst these five lovely titles - and I know there were many other amazing picture books that came out last year as well, so  big congrats to all those writers and illustrators, shortlisted or not.  

Saturday 24 April 2021

Anzac Day 2021

 Seven years after marking Anzac Day at Gallipoli with the wonderful group of Gallipoli Volunteers (and some thousands of others), it felt very special today to be at another Anzac Day service beside the sea, as the local community gathered on a still and sunny morning at Paekākāriki.

Poppy tree in the village

Another special thing about this service was that nearly everyone who spoke or carried out an official function was a woman: MC Janet Holborow, the woman who called the karanga, the representative from the Turkish Embassy, the minister who gave the Prayer of Remembrance and the benediction, Alex Haddow who sang (beautifully) the NZ National Anthem and Po Atarau - Now is the Hour, Sunny Amey who read (beautifully) Binyon's Ode of Remembrance, Paranahia Broughton who read the Roll of Honour and Lieutenant Jaiselmer Keivom-Lockhart who gave the Memorial Address.   

"What last year taught us was that there are many ways in which we can serve our country" - Lieutenant Jaiselmer Keivom-Lockhart.

Yet another special feature was that for the first name, the names were read out of the ten US marines who died in a training exercise off Paekākāriki beach on 20 June 1943. Before her reading, Sunny Amey shared her memories of being at secondary school during WW2 and having US servicemen come to their home for lunch every Sunday. 

Getting ready for the Paekākāriki Anzac Commemoration 2021 

Across the road from the Paekākāriki Memorial Hall, the surf was up and the surfers were marking the day in their own way - you can just spot a couple of them in the bottom photo. 

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Wellington Writers Walk

 This year the Wellington Writers Walk committee decided to hold a walking tour as part of Wellington Heritage Week. Actually two tours - one on Thursday afternoon and one on Saturday morning. 

Thanks to Stefanie McKenna for these wonderful photos of the Thursday walk. (The Saturday one was equally fun, but with worse weather!)

We covered about 7 or 8 of the 23 plaques, between Te Papa and Frank Kitts park, starting with Iris Wilkinson/Robin Hyde and ending with Denis Glover. (Except on Saturday, when the rain finally defeated us before we reached Denis' plaque.)  

Thanks also to Constance Talbot for great organising skills, and Maggie Rainey-Smith for excellent co-hosting!

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Trees and the ocean

Last week I was in the South Island doing a series of school visits, thanks to Read NZ Te Pou Muramura and the Writers in Schools programme. 

At Kaikorai Valley College in Dunedin, I did a couple of writing workshops and we talked about using our imaginations to try and look at things in a different way. 

Here are four of the wonderful poems that the students wrote as a result - I love the amazing ideas they have come up with. 


The Ocean

The ocean is a soft Blue sheet, changing

in the wind and devouring land.

It is a complete different

world, creating a home for fish, sand

and crabs. It’s a shark haven

and a popular place for plastic.

An Ombre is what

the ocean is, made from

 millions of blues.

 It can be as beautiful as a peacock

or as ugly as a dump

(Grace, Year 7)



The ocean is like a ferocious lion swallowing up its prey,

or a motel for the swimming fish that never get a say,

or a calm blue sheet so inviting and kind,

but the further you go, the more likely you'll find

the home to the sharks, ready to pounce, 

their razor sharp teeth will bite even an ounce, 

the ocean is home to crabs and fish, 

but along with them what is not delish, 

a buffet of plastic ready to take

the life of an innocent sea critter,

Poor creature, too late.

The ocean is a war that cannot be won.

(Jordan, Year 7)

Pine Tree

Standing tall in the mountains,

A spike pointing towards the sky,

Green as grass on a summer’s morning.

In winter decorated with tinsel and lights

As bright as the sun.

Pine needles litter the ground

Like a soft blanket to walk on

(Cody, Year 10)


Earth’s life-line

A pine tree is a spear pointing to space.

The smell reminds us of the outdoors.

A pine tree is Earth’s lungs,

The swooshing sound keeps up at night.

Green covering of the hills,

Place which is called home for many animals.

The playground for many children.

The colour of classroom paint,

Rocket which is unable to take off,

The structure for a bird’s home.

 (Josh, Year 10)