Reviews are interactive!

Please, leave a review of any of my books or documentary works:


  • Nueva Zelanda, Un Puzzle Historico: Tras la pista de los conquistadores espanole by Winston Cowie (2017) (In Spanish);
  • Conquistador Puzzle Trail by Winston Cowie (2015); and
  • A Flame Flickers in the Darkness by Winston Cowie (2012) (now ebooks  Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker, available on Amazon Kindle).


  • Wild Abu Dhabi: The turtles of Al Dhafra (2021). An Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi production, it premiered at Vox Cinema and on National Geographic, winning a Finalist Award at the New York Festivals Film and TV Awards. Directed by Winston Cowie.
  • Zayed’s Antarctic Lights (2018).An Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi production – winner of a world medal at the New York TV and Film Festivals in the ‘Environment and Ecology’ documentary category. Directed by Winston Cowie; and
  • Our Sea. Our Heritage (2019). An Environment Agency production, it premiered at the Abu Dhabi Boat Show in 2019.Directed by Winston Cowie. 
  • Mystery at Midge Bay – Discovering New Zealand’s oldest shipwreck.  Documentary co-produced by Winston Cowie and David Sims (2012).

Below are a couple of reviews of my work that I am really proud of, with an opportunity for you to leave your own review if you felt so inclined in the TAB further down. Thank you to those awesome people that have already taken the time to do so –  I love hearing from you – please tell me what you thought, liked and what you would like more of.

Conquistador Puzzle Trail By Winston Cowie 

Portuguese and Spanish praise for Conquistador Puzzle Trail by Winston Cowie

Conquistador Puzzle Trail has been praised by both Portuguese and Spanish Embassies to Australia and New Zealand, and translated by the Spanish Embassy to New Zealand into Spanish!

Embassy of Spain to New Zealand

“We feel incredibly fortunate to witness such a thorough investigation into the history of New Zealand in which we can really appreciate the links shared with Portuguese and Spanish explorers. In our case, the confirmation of these ties between Spain and New Zealand will undoubtedly strengthen the positive relationship that our two countries already share and cherish.

Well-structured and impeccably researched, this important work will have a strong impact on the academic representation of conquistadores as well as a wide array of consequences for the future understanding of New Zealand history.

At the same time, we would like to acknowledge all of the time and energy devoted to the research that has gone into this investigative work. Throughout the pages, we discover new elements of New Zealand culture and history that invite us to truly believe that Mr Winston Cowie´s theory is correct.

Congratulations on the completion of this excellent work.”

Author’s Note: The Embassy of Spain to New Zealand has been fantastic and their cooperation and collaboration has been gratefully received by the author. I feel incredibly proud to have the permission to include both the Embassy of Spain to New Zealand and the Spanish Organisation for International Cooperation on Development logos on my book!

Embassy of Portugal to Australia and New Zealand

“A fascinating book and an important contribution for the investigation about the Portuguese having been the first Europeans to reach Australia and New Zealand almost 500 years ago.”

A Flame Flickers in the Darkness by Winston Cowie

Praise for New Zealand Land Wars Historical Fiction by Winston Cowie

The two special reviews below are written by descendants of two of those New Zealanders on the cover of Flames Flicker, that helped shape New Zealand in the 1860s.

Kuia Te Rau Oriwa Davis. Ngaruahine. A Grandchild of Chief Titokowaru.

“A soul-changing history ignited. A destined shared-future determined. We will not die. E Kore tatou e Mate! This book is part of a destiny foundation legacy, which was foreseen prolifically by old world priests, visionary chiefs, and Māori tribes widely. I was overcome with liberated emotion …. The reader will walk the journey in their skin regardless of ethnicity.” 

Sam Priest. A Great-Great Grandchild of Captain John Roberts.

“Winston Cowie is New Zealand’s answer to Wilbur Smith! As the great-great grandson of the one the book’s main characters, I took immense pleasure in seeing New Zealand’s history come to life in A Flame Flickers in the Darkness (now ebooks Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker). The power and mystique of the indigenous peoples battling the settlers’ rugged determination for a better life. These were men and women of their time, and Winston Cowie captured the period perfectly. The story of the New Zealand Wars is a story worth telling, especially when told as a cracking yarn! My great-great grandfather, John Roberts, a recipient of the New Zealand Cross for his actions in Taranaki, would be proud.”

Additional reviews I am proud of include those of Peter Maxwell and the South Taranaki Star and North Taranaki Midweek.

Peter Maxwell, New Zealand Land Wars Historian

“Winston Cowie is a young New Zealander with impressive academic credentials; an MSc from Oxford, and a law degree from Otago, who is making a career in environmental law and policy. “A Flame Flickers in the Darkness” is his first book – a 500 page plus historical novel set in 1860’s New Zealand against the backdrop of latter phases of the New Zealand Wars – the intense and bitter fighting between Maori and European over land, that in many ways divides the country still.

“A Flame Flickers in the Darkness” explores the relationship between two young men caught up in the dangers and adventures of this dramatic era – Jack O’Malley, an Irish whaler, and Whero, a Maori warrior of similar age but quite different cultural and racial backgrounds. Whero’s spirituality, and that of his people, contrasts with the sometimes cocky, matter-of-factness of the Europeans. The two strike up a friendship, but the fighting ultimately divides them and leads to a tragic climax.

Cowie captures the manners, customs and language of the era skillfully, and importantly, establishes the essential nature of the conflict – that particularly in Taranaki, this was a civil war between people who had become, and would be again, neighbours in this remote land.

A number of real historical figures appear in the narrative, both Maori leaders and European military men, and it is fascinating to have them fleshed out into actual people interacting with the fictional characters alongside them, rather than appearing as mere silhouettes in the formal documents.

Cowie’s book is a large and impressive work that makes a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of colonial New Zealand’s troubled history.”

South Taranaki Star & North Taranaki Midweek

“Taranaki’s land wars of the 1860s are the backdrop for an historical novel which gives a rare insight into the times.

First-time author Winston Cowie’s book A Flame Flickers in the Darkness is meticulously researched and he combines an impressive amount of detail with a wonderful story of a very personal friendship between the two main characters.

The tale of the two’s friendship and the increasing tensions and loyalties that brings them into conflict, intertwined with the backdrop of the racial tensions which ended in a bloody war which still has consequences today, Cowie has written an eminently readable book.

Perhaps some of the insights so admirably captured by the author lie in his own six-year odyssey which took him from his North Auckland home to Oxford University to Qatar. Clearly Cowie is an achiever who doesn’t quit – a bit like Jack O’Malley one of the central characters.

And yet Cowie has achieved the difficult task of having the reader like and empathise with both Jack and Te Atiawa warrior Whero.

Just 29 Cowie has already completed a law degree at Otago University, a Masters Science Degree from Oxford, and has worked in numerous countries before returning to New Zealand. A talented sportsman Cowie played rugby for Oxford as well as representing the university in surfing and athletics.

Perhaps it is not coincidental that A Flame Flickers in the Darkness was completed and published upon his return from overseas. Two missions accomplished.

But don’t be put off by the length of the book, which is just over 500 pages; the story is a ripping yarn which is hard to put down. For those of us keen to learn a little more about the history of our region, there is much to learn, much of it still pertinent today.”

Please, leave a review! I would love to hear from you!

29 thoughts on “Reviews

  1. Whilst Winston stayed with us in Oxford during the summer of 2007 he was working on ‘his book’, we assumed this would be one of those projects that would never come to fruition. Therefore, what a fantastic surprise it was when our personal signed copy of ‘A Flame Flickers In The Darkness'(now Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker ebooks) arrived in the post some time later! To us, Winnie was another smart, rugby playing Kiwi who had made the journey form the land of the long white cloud to Oxford to continue his studies and try and gain a rugby Blue. Little did we know that there was much more to this guy than at first met the eye! Once I stared reading A Flame Flickers In The Darkness, I was hooked and unable to put the book down until it was finished – despite the 500 pages! My knowledge of New Zealand history was patchy at best, but this engaging read was a great way to whet the appetite to learn more. The central characters were so well developed, you felt you were there with them as their journey took many twists and turns throughout the book. Taken purely as a novel the book was very well written and easy to follow, however the fact it is a historical novel takes it to a different level; but more importantly for me it has been written by my mate and I am proud to say it was a ‘Great Read’! Here’s to the next piece of literary work from Winnie, I look forward to reading it. Fez, Oxford University Rugby Club.


  2. I took this book, A Flame Flickers in the Darkness, (which has now been split into ebooks Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker) on holiday after my son suggested I might like to read it. Not normally an historical novel reader I was totally absorbed in the story from start to finish and soon realised my NZ history was very lacking. But what a wonderful way to learn the some history of our country. I loved the characters and found they really brought the historical facts to life. In fact I still find, now a year later, that parts of the story and the characters pass through my thoughts especially when travelling around different parts of the country. Despite it’s size “A Flame Flickers in the Darkness” has been making it’s way around our family in hope of enlightening them to some of NZ’s history.


  3. Many thanks, Tim. I am super humbled to receive your kind words mate. I am still incredibly grateful to you and Margaret and Kirsty for having me back in 2007. Thanks again! A Flame Flickers in the Darkness (which has been re-released as Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker ebooks) took a great deal of inspiration from being part of and playing for the Oxford University Rugby Football Club. The honour, the mana. Good luck to the Oxford Blues v Cambridge in the Varsity Match at Twickenham this year and every year hereafter. They have a fantastic and inspirational General Manager in you, Tim Stevens. Thanks again and good on ya mate. Winnie


  4. Hi Raewyn, It is comments from people like you, who I have never met, that make all of the hard work worthwhile. Your comment in respect of New Zealanders knowing very little of our New Zealand Land Wars’ history (also known as the New Zealand Wars and Maori Wars) rings true. To me, it is important that all New Zealanders learn about the New Zealand Land Wars – they are a fundamental part of our history that are not well known because they are not comprehensively taught in New Zealand schools, despite being an important part of our heritage; for it was in these wars that both Maori and the settlers that wished to settle New Zealand, developed a steadfast respect for one another. And 95% of New Zealanders would have very little idea about what unfolded. Driving south from Auckland past Meremere, Rangiriri and Ngaruawahia, I wonder how many New Zealanders reflect on the key events in New Zealand history that occurred in these places. A Flame Flickers in the Darkness (which has been re-released as Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker ebooks) unlocks these events and people. But I digress – I was saying thank you for your kind words and I look forward to meeting you some time. Best Wishes, Winston


  5. If you looked up “Good Keen Man” in the dictionary you would probably find a photo of Winston Cowie. For those of you who know Winston when he says he is going to do something he gets it done, but when he mentioned several years ago that he was writing a novel even I was skeptical. But in true Cowie form he rang me up last year to say he had finished his book and after finding a copy in the Matakana Village Bookshop I set about getting stuck into his historical novel “A Flame Flickers in the Darkness” (now Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker ebooks). Having flatted with Winston at Otago University I knew Winston’s passion for authors such as Wilbur Smith and I knew that Winston’s desire was to create a great New Zealand story similar to what Smith did with Africa. Winston has developed two strong characters in Whero and Jack and weaves a fascinating story around these two in a novel that mixes fiction with historical events during the turmoil of the New Zealand Land Wars / Maori Wars and early settlement of New Zealand. Anyone that knows Winston will see a lot of him in the lead character Jack (see the new cover for the “Greenstone Trail”), particularly the steely determination to succeed, while enjoying all the fantastic natural resources that New Zealand offers. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel particularly the way the historical elements were interwoven through the book (as I had only previously learned about these in rather tedious fashion at school). All the best with the book Winnie and your new adventures in the Middle East, will look forward to a few beers when you are back.


  6. Cheers Jimmy and great to hear from you! Many a fond memory of flatting together and frequenting the Captain Cook Tavern, Gardies and Bowler with you at Otago University. What a bugger that they are all now shut! And many thanks for the kind review of my New Zealand historical fiction A Flame Flickers in the Darkness (now Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker ebooks) – I was super chuffed to receive your review and more so when I received your phone call a couple of months back once you had finished. As you have alluded to above, as an author you do put a lot of yourself into the book and it’s probably true that there is a bit of me in both Whero and Jack. Maybe more so in one than the other but that’s debatable. ;)
    In summary, you enjoyed it and learned something of a key part of our history, the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s. As an author, setting out to make the New Zealand Land Wars or Maori Wars of the 1860s accessible to readers in an interesting historical fiction novel format, simply put; comments from you make me realise that I achieved this goal. And that’s a really cool feeling. So thanks for taking the time to read A Flame Flickers in the Darkness (now Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker ebooks) and write a review.
    And it’s good that you were initially sceptical as to whether I would finish or not – that’s half the point – my first draft was crap, the second much better and the third a finished product. Six years. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Writing and writing well does take a great deal of time to get right – I think there are very few who pick up a pen and nail it. “Good things take time.”
    Great to hear from you and cheers for your great review of A Flame Flickers in the Darkness (now Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker ebooks).


  7. Any Kiwis who enjoy Wilbur Smith novels should definitely read the New Zealand historical fiction novels Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker by Winston Cowie (formerly the epic novel ‘A Flame Flickers in the Darkness’). Not just a good adventure story, it retells a very colourful and difficult period of New Zealand’s history. The struggles faced by both the indigenous Maori and the European settlers are captured in a very balanced way, through warrior Whero and Irish settler Jack, two young men on an inevitable collision course to conflict.


  8. Hi Matt,
    Great to hear from you and many thanks for the great review. To be compared to a young Wilbur Smith is humbling mate – I am just pleased that you read Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker, enjoyed the characters and learned about a really interesting part of out history – the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s. I still shake my head with wonder when I think about what went on in 1860 New Zealand, and how so few know about it.
    Cheers again mate and go well! Winnie


  9. “A Flame Flickers in the Darkness” (now two books, “Greenstone Trail” and “Flames Flicker”) is a page turner. Set in the days of early New Zealand settlement by Pakeha, it follows the engrossing lives of its two richly developed characters: Whero, the strong Maori warrior from the Taranaki; Jack O’Malley, a robust Irish whaler turned aspiring Taranaki farmer.

    History buffs will enjoy the genuinely well researched scenes in which the story plays out, covering the First Taranaki War, the Invasion of the Waikato, events on the Chatham Islands and The Second Taranaki War. Cameo appearances by characters such as Tawhiao (the second Maori king), Gustavus von Tempsky, and Governor Grey give the story a fascinating edge, and bring the struggles, successes, and some critically important moments of New Zealand’s early settler history to life.

    Adventurous and romantic types will also get their kicks from the story (for which I shall not give away any more).

    Above all, the book will leave you with a great feeling for the times, the mentality and stoic nature of both Maori and early European settlers, and a proudness of New Zealand’s own unique heritage.

    If only New Zealand history and literature was this interesting in high school!

    I’ve recommended it to many, and after reading it you’ll do the same.


  10. Winston, I just wanted to write to tell you how much I enjoyed your book “A Flame Flickers in the Darkness,” which is now “Greenstone Trail” and “Flames Flicker”. It’s the first book I remember reading that conjures up such vivid images of what New Zealand must have been like in the early days of settlement. The characters were all real, most likeable, some inspirational. The war scene were brutal, the love scenes raunchy and the action scenes thrilling. Among that the story gave me a whole new perspective on my home province, the mighty Taranaki, which features prominently. It adds a whole new meaning to the many Pa sites we drive by everyday here, not to mention the shadow of the historic site “Marsland Hill” which we are lucky enough to live in. It certainly wasn’t easy to put the book down once I picked it up.

    I can’t say how much I am looking forward to your next book – I agree you are just like a young Wilbur Smith.

    Thanks for such a great read.
    Wayne Balsom


  11. Hi Wayne,
    Great to hear from you, a good mate from the Doha Rugby Club days, and get a review from a Taranaki local! And your review of A Flame Flickers in the Darkness (now Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker) is humbling mate. You raise a really interesting point in respect of the novel bringing to life the cultural landscape and place you are from. How many proud Taranaki locals would know that Marsland Hill was where the military barracks were located in 1860? Or that Brougham and Devon Streets were there in the 1860s, or that the Huatoki Stream is where the Pakeha gathered their water when New Plymouth was essentially under siege by the Te Atiawa Maori? The pa sites you mention – Te Kohia; Puketakauere; Mahoetahi; Kairau; Huirangi; Matarikoriko; Te Arei and Pukerangiora – they are all really significant and where proud Maori and Pakeha warriors fought each other and learned to respect one another for the first time. And the sites I mention above are only from the First Taranaki War! There is another long list from the Second Taranaki War. I think it goes to show the place that well researched historical fiction has – it can bring to life an era and alter a person’s perspective on a place or event.
    Many thanks for your great review, Wayne, and the comparison to Wilbur Smith is humbling.
    Cheers mate,


  12. Hi Murray,
    Great to hear from you! Its been ages since the Colorado snowboarding days and many thanks for the great review of ‘Greenstone Trail’ and ‘Flames Flicker’ (previously ‘A Flame Flickers in the Darkness).’
    I really appreciated your comments on the main characters’ interacting with the key influential people of the time:
    “Cameo appearances by characters such as Tawhiao (the second Maori king), Gustavus von Tempsky, and Governor Grey give the story a fascinating edge, and bring the struggles, successes, and some critically important moments of New Zealand’s early settler history to life.”
    The thing about these people is that they were fascinating and they were living here in New Zealand, shaping our country in the 1860s! Von Tempsky had done everything and King Tawhiao kept his mana and dignity in very trying circumstances.
    And thanks for your comment that you felt “proudness of New Zealand’s own unique heritage,” upon finishing. I also felt proud to read and write of the courage of these people, our ancestors, both Maori and Pakeha, who helped define New Zealand in the 1860s.
    I am really pleased you enjoyed it – cheers mate!


  13. Brilliant and touching, Cowie perfectly captures a time in New Zealand’s history that has never before been so well documented. With a writing style that draws the reader in, you will not want to put this book down. Both extremely entertaining as well as educational, an exceptional read.


  14. I have been meaning to send you a message for a long time to tell you how much I enjoyed your book, A Flame Flickers in the Darkness, which has morphed into ebooks ‘Greenstone Trail’ and ‘Flames Flicker.’ I have never been a prolific reader of books although my frequent flights for work have seen a huge improvement in this regard. I’m sure that knowing the author made your book special for me, but I could not help but marvel at your writing skills.
    As I got more and more in to the various parallel stories you were running I found it harder to put the book down and looked forward to opportunities to pick it up again. Recently I have been flying to New Plymouth for work. To be flying over areas such as the mouth of the Waitara River (which at the very time was referring to the scene I was flying over), had me VERY much ‘living the story’. Then to wander 50 metres at lunch time to have a sandwich and to sit on the banks of the Huatoki Stream while reading, again placed me right in amongst the story line. Several times I have looked out from the plane to see if I could see Whero appearing from his cave as we flew close to Mt Taranaki!
    Anyway, a big thank you for enlightening me so much about NZ history that I did not know nearly enough about. It certainly put the Maori land claims into a much clearer space for me.
    All the best and many thanks from an appreciative reader.


  15. Winston Cowie is New Zealand’s answer to Wilbur Smith! As the great-great grandson of the one the book’s main characters, I took immense pleasure in seeing New Zealand’s history come to life in A Flame Flickers in the Darkness (now ebooks Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker). The power and mystique of the indigenous peoples battling the settlers’ rugged determination for a better life. These were men and women of their time, and Winston Cowie captured the period perfectly. The story of the New Zealand Wars is a story worth telling, especially when told as a cracking yarn! My great-great grandfather, John Roberts, a recipient of the New Zealand Cross for his actions in Taranaki, would be proud. Looking forward to the next instalment! Sincerely, Sam Priest.


  16. If you like historical fiction, you have to read this book, Greenstone Trail by Winston Cowie. You can download it at Amazon Kindle. I read the hardcover version, “A Flame Flickers in the Darkness” and absolutely loved it! It’s a great adventure story and you’ll learn about New Zealand history, as well. (Winnie played rugby with Mike and he’s the author of that beautiful tribute “My mate: Mike Ballard” )


  17. Cowie’s Conquistador Puzzle is exceptionally written in the vein of a modern day ‘who dunnit’ style format. You simply get led by the nose and cant put it down. I love the series of puzzle questions and the various well thought thru theories surrounding each hypothesis.
    Excellent book, bound to become a classic.
    Well done Winston


  18. Hi Gordon,
    Many thanks for your positive book review of Conquistador Puzzle Trail! I am pleased you enjoyed it and am grateful to you for taking the time to write to me. One of the purposes of Conquistador Puzzle Trail is to get people thinking about and talking about pre Tasman and Janzsoon Portuguese and Spanish voyages to Australia and New Zealand, and I am pleased it has for you!
    All the Best,
    Winston Cowie


  19. The decision to write Conquistador Puzzle Trail as a series of puzzles
    lends itself to a general audience as well as to history /
    wreck enthusiasts and makes it most enjoyable reading.
    The multitude of illustrations enhances the pleasure.

    The central thesis that European explorers arrived in New
    Zealand post the Polynesian discoverers but pre-Tasman
    is certainly tenable based on the Dieppe maps, the obsessive secrecy about the Portuguese explorations, the British Admiralty 1803 chart, and the Ruamahanga skull. However more research and scientific archaeology is needed before the Conquistador Puzzle Trail is solved.
    In the meantime enjoy the challenges posed by this book.


  20. Dear Piers,
    Many thanks for your positive book review of Conquistador Puzzle Trail. I am pleased that you agree that the theory that the Portuguese discovered Australia and Zealand and the Spanish may have voyaged to New Zealand pre Tasman is tenable. The trail continues but certainly there is momentum growing around the theory! Australia and New Zealand may just have their discovery history wrong!
    With Best Wishes,
    Winston Cowie


  21. I’ve just finished reading your book “Conquistador Puzzle Trail” and find it absolutely fascinating.  I was born in Te Kopuru, Dargaville in 1930, Our families farmed at Waihue, Mamaranui, Arapohue (near Hoanga) and Kirikopuni.  We used to dig for toheroas at Bayley’s Beach.  In latter years I recall gossip about the west coast findings but have only just appreciated the full extent of this amazing story you have pieced together – what a huge effort!  Having travelled, trekked and flown around the world in my later years, I understand the wanderlust that must have driven those early sailors to find out what lay beyond their shores. Congratulations on a wonderful effort!! 
    The research you and your colleagues have done deserves much greater acknowledgement and appreciation. New Zealanders are world leaders in so many fields – perhaps we could stimulate government interest to shake up a bit more of world history.   And you can quote me on that.


  22. Winston,
    I received the copy of “Conquistidor Puzzel Trail” from Auckland on Saturday morning.
    I opened it for a quick appraisal and literally didn’t close it until I had finished reading it !!
    I firmly believe that this book should be compulsory reading for every New Zealand school pupil. I am especially impressed by the way in which the book is structured – it is one of the most thought provokeing books I have ever read.

    The need to question events and be honest and brave enough to speak ones mind without fear of recrimination in the interests or our country’s history is so important and you Sir deserve a medal for doing so.

    I look forward to reading of your progress regarding the shipwreck and I would hope that the National Government in New Zealand starts to give support and encouragement to your endevours.

    As a New Zealand citizen I am also most grateful for the interest and support that both the Spanish Government and the Portugese Government and their respective cultural / educational representatives and Embasadors have given to you and your ongoing research.

    It might sound odd to some people – but – it is amazing what can result from the discovery of an ancient Pohutakawa tree in Spain to a sunken Caravel in the North of New Zealand
    can lead to !! The outcome could be more profitable for all concerned than any Free Trade Agreement ever signed by our current government. The opportunity has already presented it’self but I fear the New Zealand Government hasn’t recognised it and is negligent in not pursueing it .

    Keep up the good work Winston – you have more suport than you realise….


  23. The book “Conquistador Puzzle Trail” is an ambitious journey, bravely challenging the status quo regarding which race actually was the first to discover Australia and New Zealand. The book provides solid, justified evidence through meticulous research and peer collaboration, illustrating that initial Portguese presence begun in the area during the 16th Century, and continued at relatively freuqent intervals until the famous “discovery” by Captain James Cook in 1769/1770.

    The nature in which the evidence of Portugese discovery was presented did not attempt to introduce bias into the delivery of the book’s message, and more importantly, left it to the reader to decide and analyse the detailed information.

    The dismissive nature of previous authors regarding Portugese activity in the area during the 16th / 17th Century, without exhaustive analysis of the data and information, is rather concerning. Winston’s ability as an analytic research author has placed a degree of doubt over the concerned past published papers, and credit should be given to him in this regard where he has challenged the accepted “recorded” events of history.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Conquistador Puzzle Trail, primarily due to the objections it posed to my previously taught education of who discovered Australia and New Zealand, and how it occurred. The majority of the events did promote the idea of early Portugese discovery, however when Captain James Cook observed European borne diseases were prevalent in the NZ Maori, and that local folklore alerted him to the existence of earlier sea faring vessels visiting the same area prior to his first visit, it was evident that such recorded information could have potentially been overlooked over the course of history.

    Hopefully, this book will bring discussion regarding who actually first discovered Australia and New Zealand into the public arena, where the previously dismissed evidence can be thoughtfully reviewed and debated by all concerned.

    Great work Winston, all the best.


  24. Dear Wade,
    Many thanks for your insightful review of Conquistador Puzzle Trail. The point of the book is to put in front of people the information in respect Portuguese and Spanish voyages to Australia and New Zealand, pre Tasman and Janzsoon, and let them make up their own mind as to whether or not these voyages occurred. Thanks for sharing your views and I agree it is concerning that the puzzle pieces have been largely ignored by academics over the past 30 years. For the 200 years before the 1980s, however, the top cartographers of their day all theorised that the Portuguese and Spanish voyages to Australia occurred. Thanks for taking the time to write a review. Best Wishes, Winston


  25. Dear Michael,
    Many thanks for your fantastic review of Conquistador Puzzle Trail. I am grateful for your positive comments, especially that Conquistador Puzzle Trail is “one of the most thought provoking books you have ever read.” That it should be “compulsory reading for every New Zealand school pupil” is also heart warming. I think it would be the perfect unit of work for Australia and New Zealand University or High School students – here is the information in respect of Portuguese and Spanish voyages to Australia and New Zealand pre Janzsoon and Tasman – these are the arguments for and against these voyages occurring – what is your view on whether or not they occurred or otherwise? It is a great exam question and the book is set up to be a learning resource as well as general interest. Thanks so much for your kind comments. I am pleased you enjoyed Conquistador Puzzle Trail! Best Wishes, Winston Cowie


  26. Mr Cowie’s book “Conquistador Puzzle Trail” is presented as a compelling well written view on the possible origin of the first early maritime explorers .
    A definite must read for both the professional and amateur historian. The author presents a credible alternate theory that Iberian maritime explorers discovered both New Zealand and the east coast of Australia before the voyage of Captain James Cook.
    The author presents the work as a puzzle trail which captures the reader from the start and builds on the theory with evidence of historical finds of armour of the type worn by soldiers of the period and even more compelling the oral history of the Maori people which records visits by strange men long before Cook.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mr Cowie’s book and found it easy to follow. This book is a must for readers with an open mind about both conventional and alternate history.

    Gordon Rennie
    Maroochydore , Queensland


  27. Conquistador Puzzle Trail is a marvellous historical detective story which brings together many disparate facts to help clarify more of the huge vacuum of knowledge about how New Zealand was discovered and settled before the famous Dutch and British landfalls. Congratulations Winston!


  28. Winston Cowie’s A Flame Flickers in the Darkness is an engaging, informative and thoroughly entertaining account of the New Zealand land wars of the 1860s. Although it’s a fictionalised novel, many of the characters and events are real, and rigorously researched by the author. He skilfully presents both the Mauri and Pakeha involvement in the conflict with careful neutrality. This is no dry, detached chronicle: brutality, passion and cultural beliefs are set against the wild and beautiful New Zealand landscape. The humanity of the two protagonists – Whero, a brave Mauri warrior and Jack, a whaler hoping for a new life – is depicted vividly through the battles they each have with their personal demons. A very satisfying read.


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