New children’s fiction tells the story of Taranaki through time-traveling youngsters

Lauren Keenan has written a children's fiction book about Taranaki's story.


Lauren Keenan has written a children’s fiction book about Taranaki’s story.

Two children who travel back in time to meet their ancestors are the premise of a new children’s book aimed at bringing the story of Taranaki to life.

During Amorangi and Millie’s time travel the two children see giant eagles, witness the invasion of Parihaka, and get a first-hand look at the Great Depression.

And before they can move any moment, to try to find their missing mother, they must recover an item from each ancestor they encounter.

Author Lauren Keenan, Ngāti Te Whiti o Te Atiawa, has always loved the idea of ​​“connecting to the past”.

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”I have always been attracted by this idea of ​​meeting people who preceded me and I have always loved this idea of ​​being able to travel in time and meet my grandmothers and my ancestors in particular, whom I have never meet.”

And she loves the Maori worldview of how “your ancestors are behind you, but they’re also with you, and that’s something I really wanted to capture in the original draft that I wrote for my own. children”.

Keenan, who holds an MA in history, had a ‘horrible conversation’ in a history class at his high school in Palmerston North.

”My father helped my history teacher organize a trip to Parihaka, and it was optional, and half the class refused to go. It was a horrible conversation and I remember sitting there thinking “this is my story you’re talking about”.

The reasons half of his classmates refused to make the trip were varied, but included “the story is boring”, “we’re tired of the Maori stuff being shoved down our throats”, “the New New Zealand has no history,” “New Zealand history is not important,” she said.

”It was the 90s. It left an incredibly strong impression on me.”

Amorangi and Millie go back in time to try to find their missing mother, they find all their ancestors by 1832.


Amorangi and Millie go back in time to try to find their missing mother, they find all their ancestors by 1832.

Keenan dropped out of law school to study history and received a “barrage of hate” for the decision.

”It lit a fire in me that I carry with me on the story.”

One of the ways Keenan makes history interesting for her young readers is to take the world they live in and show the differences from the past, she said.

“It makes them conjure up these mental images of how things could have been different. I’m very careful about what people wear and how things smell, because if you go back in time, you’re going to find it really smelly. People don’t wash.’

In the first story, the children return and meet all of their ancestors between now and 1832.

The first person they meet is their own mother when she is 10 years old.

“They can’t believe his TV doesn’t have more than three channels and his camera doesn’t have a phone on it. Basically my life.

Keenan is particularly attentive to detail, so she showed her book to a social historian friend who told her she had described the wrong window for 1860.

”Apparently, I was five years ahead of schedule.”

  • Amorangi and Millie’s time travelthe first in a series, suitable for children aged 7 to 12 and available in most bookstores.

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