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"Slowly, the sun rose on Christmas Day at Tangiwai, 1953. Now I could see the wrecks of two other carriages, a hundred yards downstream where the water had swept them. A huge concrete bridge pier had been hurled that far, too. Clothes and suitcases lay scattered along the banks, and in trees 15 feet above the now trickling river."
Peter Cotterill[2]

Journey to Tangiwai: The Diary of Peter Cotterill is the first book to be published in the My New Zealand Story series. It was written by David Hill. The book was first published in March 2003, and was reissued twice in December 2010 and June 2021. It was followed by Amelia Batistich's A Better Life.

Peter Cotterill spends the year of 1953 preparing for the Scouts' first aid competition. It becomes upended by the Tangiwai disaster.

Dedication[]

"To the many branches of the Marshall Family"

Book description[]

"When Peter Cotterill begins his diary in 1953, little does he realise that something is happening elsewhere in New Zealand that is going to have a huge impact on his life.
As he tells of his day-to-day life in Napier–school paper round, Scouts, as well as the lasting effects of World War II on his friends and family–the forces of nature are at work culminating in an event so tragic that it will shock a whole nation.
"

"Tangiwai, 1953
IT was there. Still forming. Every day. Bit by bit, IT weakened the walls around it.
Bit by bit, things were happening in my life. Things that would bring us together...

When Peter Cotterill begins his diary in 1953, little does he realise that something is happening elsewhere in New Zealand that is going to have a huge impact on his life.
As he tells of his day-to-day life in Napier–school paper round, Scouts, as well as the lasting effects of World War II on his friends and family–the forces of nature are at work culminating in an event so tragic that it will shock a whole nation.
"

Plot[]

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Historical Note[]

The historical note starts off by highlighting the differences between 1953 New Zealand and the country circa 2003. It highlights that "nobody had TV" and "computers seemed light something out of science fiction." Post-World War II, cars were scarce and there was not enough housing. Many women, whom took over traditionally male jobs during the war, were "unhappy" about being "just housewives" again. By 1953, New Zealand was sending troops to the Korean War. Some people wanted the country to have a strong military force and the Scouts was viewed as a "form of training for this." The Returned Serviceman's Association (RSA) desired for military training to be compulsory for young men.

Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England in June 1953. Many New Zealanders celebrated the occasion as there was still a strong loyalty to the British Empire. At the end of the year, Elizabeth toured the country. Lastly, the historical note discusses New Zealand's "monocultural" attitude in the 1950s and the general views on the Māori people, divorce, feminism, and gay rights. The author then wonders what Peter might be today after "[growing] up through all this." Eight photographs close off the section.

Characters[]

Main article: List of Journey to Tangiwai characters
  • Peter Cotterill, the thirteen-year-old son of Molly and Bob. He begins his first year of high school at the beginning of 1953. Peter spends a lot of time preparing for the Scouts' first aid competition.
  • Tom Sanders is Peter's best friend. They attend the same school and are a part of the same scouting troop. Tom has a hard home life due to his father's frequent absences.

Author[]

Main article: David Hill

David Hill is an author and journalist whom has published over forty books. He is best known for his young adult novels, including See Ya, Simon and Right Where It Hurts. Hill was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 and was awarded the Margaret Mahy Award in 2005 for his contribution to children's literature. He set Journey to Tangiwai in Napier where he grew up. Like Peter, Hill was also in the Scouts.

Editions[]

Awards[]

Notes[]

  • The cover of the second edition is a colorized photograph of the destroyed Tangiwai bridge.[7]
  • The cover of the third edition was illustrated by Minky Stapleton.[8]

References[]

See also[]

Resources:
File:Journey to Tangiwai Teacher Notes.pdf, File:Journey to Tangiwai (2021) Information Sheet.pdf, File:Journey to Tangiwai (2021) Teacher Notes.pdf



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