Peter Cotterill is given a diary for his 13th birthday and proceeds to record the happenings in his life and of those around him for the year of 1953. The anticipation grows as Peter and his scout group get the opportunity to travel to Auckland over the Christmas period to take part in a First Aid competition, and we know that a disaster is pending.
Although Tangiwai is the ultimate focus of this book, it is filled with fascinating information of life as a pakeha in post WWII New Zealand. Peter writes about everyday life at home, returned soldiers dealing with PTSD, the introduction of parking meters in Auckland, and the excitement of owning a family car.
This is a much slower world without technology, television and social media, but with some of the same anxieties that teenage boys might share today – girls, changing schools and trying to make sense of adults.
This feels like an authentic account of the early 1950s and I get the sense that this was the life that David Hill experienced as he grew up.
It is a valuable addition to the My New Zealand Story series, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in recent NZ history.
Title: Journey to Tangiwai, The Diary of Peter Cotterill, Napier, 1953 (My NZ Story)
Ages: 10 years+
Reviewer: Anabel McPhee, Librarian, The Catlins Area School, South Otago
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Opening sentence: Thursday, January 1st 1953. I hate diaries. So why am I keeping this one?
You can buy this book here