New Plymouth and the Taranaki


It has been a couple of weeks now since I first launched ‘A Flame Flickers in the Darkness,’ a historical fiction novel or book set during the New Zealand or Maori Wars of the 1860s. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and I look forward to hearing your view once you have finished reading it. The first review of the novel or book by Mr Peter Maxwell, the well known New Zealand Wars authority and author of history book, “Frontier: The Battle for the North Island of New Zealand,” is due next week. I am quietly anticipating Peter’s review as he is known as a meticulous researcher. Watch this space.

You can get your hard copy by ordering online from the PublishMe bookshop.

In the Mahurangi region you can get your copy from The Village Bookshop in Matakana. On that note, check out the Rodney Times next week for an interesting article. ;)

I also plan to be in Matakana at The Village Bookshop on Saturday 28 April 2012 from 9:30am-11:30am. Come along to the Farmers Market, have a coffee, buy some fresh local produce, and I will sign a copy for you. Check it out here at The Village Bookshop website.

In the Auckland region, please bear with me; I need to get out and about and talking to bookshops. Alternatively, Contact me, and we can sort something out. It would be great to catch up with you!

In Winnie News this week, I was in New Plymouth in the weekend for a mate’s wedding who I played rugby with while in Doha, Qatar (Wayne Balsom & Sarah Farnsworth).

A perfect day, awesome wedding and great reception with some classic MCing from Wayno’s brother Kev. Thanks for having us guys. We shared 3 years with Wayno and Sarah in Doha; it’s funny how living in really different places away from home draw people together. A bit like New Zealand in the 1860s, during the New Zealand or Maori Wars of the 1860s, the time period when ‘A Flame Flickers in the Darkness,’ a historical fiction novel written by Winston Cowie, is set.

That last paragraph was for Google ;)

Anyway, New Plymouth and the Taranaki.

What an awesome place and set up. We stayed on the beach down at Oakura, about 10km to the south. The surf was good out front and I managed to get out for surf no.19 of 2012. Yes, I’m counting. I have a mate, Nick Maister, who is at Med School in Geelong, near Melbourne. He surfed 212 times last year and passed all his Med exams. I felt pretty inspired by this so decided to count my surfing and fishing days this year. So far surfing is winning by 19-12. Every day is counted as a family day – to date, 112. A stats round up due in December. ;) Gees I feel lucky to live in New Zealand.

But back to New Plymouth and the Taranaki.

I really enjoyed visiting New Plymouth  – I had written about the place in the 1860s, Devon and Brougham Street, Marsland Hill, St Mary’s Church, Waireka, Waitara – I kept driving past these places and tried to imagine the events and battles that went on there during the 1860s.

My Mum and Dad were with us during the weekend (babysitters) and we got talking about the family history – Mum (Sue Cowie nee Kerr) was born in New Plymouth, lived on a farm at Tariki and went to Stratford High School. We established that the first Kerr in the Taranaki was a fella called Ed who arrived in about 1870, just after the wars had finished. Interestingly, his son and my Great Grandfather was Harry Kerr, who won the first Olympic medal for New Zealand, a bronze at the 1908 London Olympics in the 3500 metre walk. More research needs to be done to establish my exact whakapapa links with the Taranaki. I am working on it.

On the note of people who fought during the wars, it was uncanny that during the course of writing the novel / book, I found that two friends of mine were the direct descendants of two fellows that I had written about. Sam Priest, who I went to Oxford University with, is the Great Great Grandson of John Roberts who led a group of Pakeha out of Te Ngutu o Te Manu in Southern Taranaki during a battle with Titokowaru of the Ngati Ruanui and Nga Ruahine, for which he received the New Zealand Cross. The Worsfold brothers (Heath, Jacko, Blake and Eden) of Mangawhai are the direct descendants of Henry Mair, brother of Gilbert Mair, both who were prominent during the East Cape and Waikato War, respectively. Gilbert was also awarded a New Zealand Cross for bravery. You may be surprised to find that you too are a direct descendant of somebody who fought in the wars!

Read ‘A Flame Flickers in the Darkness,’ a historical fiction novel or book set during the New Zealand or Maori Wars, as a starting point, to learn about the First Taranaki War, the Invasion of the Waikato, the Second Taranaki War and happenings on the East Cape and in the Chatham Islands.

That was another plug for Google.

I was going to write about the Doha Rugby Club this week but have run out of space  – watch this space next week for an account of a team that in four years went from losing every away game by 50-60 points, to winning the West Asian Club Championship in 2012.

And those in the Mahurangi / Auckland region, I hope to see you next Saturday morning, 28 April 2012 at The Village Bookshop in Matakana.


Winston Cowie (Winnie)

Author; ‘A Flame Flickers in the Darkness’