30 Aug 2011

Book on Boyd massacre wins literary prize

6:12 am on 30 August 2011

Whangarei writer Diana Menefy has won New Zealand's oldest literary prize, the Esther Glen medal for her children's book The Shadow of the Boyd.

The book - aimed at 10- to 14-year-olds, deals with an early chapter of New Zealand history - an attack by Maori on the sailing ship, Boyd in Whangaroa harbour in 1809 in which more than 60 on board died.

Diana Menefy says that in writing the book she had to delve into Maori and pakeha mindsets.

She says the attack was seen as a savage outrage by pakeha but the Maori thought they'd been cursed by the captain of the last vessel to call at Whangaroa after their chief and many others died of influenza.

Ms Menefy says the chief's son had been flogged onboard the Boyd and robbed of all his possessions.

She says the action of Maori can be seen as a balancing of the scales.