Southland author's 'vividly drawn' book wins

Southland author Pauline Smith's first novel, Dawn Raid, has won Best First Book at the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Pauline Smith.
Pauline Smith.

Mrs Smith and family members attended the awards ceremony at Te Papa in Wellington last night to receive her award and receive $2000 in prize money.

Mrs Smith was one of 33 finalists selected from 152 entries.

Her book was nominated in two categories - Best First Book and the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction.

Dawn Raid is the 28th book in Scholastic New Zealand's ''My New Zealand Story'' series, which tell of significant events in New Zealand's history as seen through the eyes of fictitious child diarists.

Mrs Smith's story focuses on the dawn raids by police on Pasifika households throughout the country in the mid-1970s as part of the then government's campaign against overstayers.

Through her diary, 13-year-old Sofia tells of the terror of the dawn raids and the work of the Polynesian Panthers to encourage immigrant families in New Zealand to stand up for their rights.

The judges said Mrs Smith's book ''is a vividly drawn snapshot of the 1970s, packed full of laugh-out-loud Pasifika humour''.

''This is a great story, and hugely relevant in our current geopolitical climate, to help children understand how political decisions around immigration that affect one group of people can have far-reaching implications in society.''

Central Otago author Jenny Bornholdt was a finalist in the picture-book category for The Longest Breakfast.

The top honour of the night, the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, was awarded to Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story, written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop, who was born in Invercargill.

Mr Bishop also won the Elsie Locke Award for non-fiction.

-By Petrina Wright

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