A powerful story from our colonial past, in which the bitter clash of two conflicting sets of cultural values is explored from the point of view of a young boy who survived the infamous massacre of the sailing ship Boyd.
In 1809 the ship is on her way across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. On board a Maori youth and an apprentice sailor become friends of a sort. A brutal flogging on the order of the captain leads to a bloody act of utu, or revenge, which results in the massacre of the ship's occupants, and the eventual destruction of the ship in a fiery explosion. A handful of pakeha were left alive, and it is their enthralling story which unfolds in this brilliantly written and evocative historical novel.
Based on the true life tragedy, it is both a classic adventure and a poignant coming of age story about a young ship's boy. Caught up in a bloody and tragic encounter between early Maori and Pakeha, his extraordinary experiences are skilfully used to explore the incident from the point of view of a young participant, and at the same time present children with the two sides to our history. As well, the author brilliantly evokes the realities of life for children in those times.
Finalist for the 2011 New Zealand Post Children's Book awards.