Review Blog

Jun 13 2017

A Kiwi year: twelve months in the life of New Zealand kids by Tania McCartney

cover image

Ill. by Tina Snerling. EK, 2017. ISBN 9781925335446
On the surface there don't appear to be many differences between Australian kids and their Kiwi cousins apart from the fact the we Kiwis 'talk funny'. But as five Kiwi kids - Charlie, Ruby, Oliver, Mason and Kaia - show us as they journey through their year, there are subtle distinctions, enough to make their lives special and unique.
As well as different vocabulary like 'tramping' not 'bushwalking' and 'jandals' not 'thongs' Kiwi kids love rugby not rugby league or Australian Rules and are familiar with a very different range of flora and fauna. Maori culture and the influence of our Pacific Island neighbours is very strong with official places and concepts being in both languages. Maoritanga is a mandatory part of the school curriculum. The land is younger and much more mountainous and so winter is more severe with more opportunities to participate in snow sports, but summer sees us at the beach and playing cricket, even if we still remember that infamous underarm bowling incident.
But like Australia, ANZAC Day is sacred and we remember those who put the NZ in the word, and with the European forefathers of both country being predominantly from the United Kingdom many of the annual festivals are the same. But there are some that are unique that celebrate our heritage and landscape bringing a richness to our lives and our culture that is unique.
So many times I've heard Australians say they don't want to go to New Zealand because it would be just like Australia in miniature, but once having been there, change their tune and marvel at just how different it is. Tania and Tina have ferreted out those things that make this country and its people unique and bring them to life through the eyes of the children, celebrating them in such a special way that this book will be handed on to my grandchildren (whose dad is also a Kiwi) so they can understand where they come from - and why Grandma is just a tad different at times!
Barbara Braxton

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