Friday 11 March 2011

The Land of the Long White Cloud - Linda Strachan

The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa which roughly translated means the Land of the long white cloud.

It is an incredibly beautiful country which has some similarity to Scotland (although frequently it has significantly better weather).

Christchurch 2009
New Zealand has been the focus of the news recently because of the terrible earthquake in Christchurch.  My heart goes out to all those affected by it. It must have been terrifying.

This trip did not include a visit to South Island but we visited Christchurch on a previous visit and it is a beautiful city, which hopefully it will be again.

 With the help of the New Zealand Book Council I was able to visit nine different primary and secondary schools in various locations in North Island.   It was fascinating to see where the similarities are with schools here in the UK,  and where things are quite different.
Elm Park School - Pakuranga  - Auckland NZ

Elm Park Primary school is situated in a suburb of Auckland and you can see a write up of my visit on their blog Elm Park's Room 16 Lightning Bolts blog.  The school had a wonderful new auditorium and the children had lots of great questions.  Hamish McHaggis seemed to go down well there, too.

I was surprised to find that books are very expensive in New Zealand. Especially in a place where other things are often cheaper than they are here, books cost much more. This must make it very difficult for families with young children to have many books of their own.

The first school I visited was AWATAPU COLLEGE  in Palmerston North

I love the way the Maori language is used alongside English although at times it made place names a little difficult to pronounce.

There are many country roads in New Zealand and teenagers driving too fast and getting into trouble on the roads is unfortunately as common a problem as it is in rural communities and small towns everywhere.
In fact teenage problems seem universal  so my teenage books, Spider and Dead Boy Talking with their themes of car and knife crime seemed to have equal relevance to the students there, as they do here in the UK.

Students at Rangikura School in Porirua

It was a delight and a privilege to be invited to visit these and other schools in New Zealand  where the welcome was always warm and generous.

I was also invited to speak to children's writers from SCWBI Australia in Sydney,  before returning home to Scotland (sunny but cold!)  just in time for World Book Day & Night events.

I will be posting more about the trip and my recent events on my blog BOOKWORDS    and on my website  over the next week or so, why not drop by and have a look!

Writing for Children (A & C Black) For all aspiring and newly published writers
 For younger children : The Hamish McHaggis series (GW Publishing)
                                          What Colour is Love?

 For teens / YA -  Spider (Strident Publishing)
                              Dead Boy Talking (Strident Publishing)
 Follow Linda's blog  - Bookwords -
Visit her website

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