Virtual Author Visit from award winning author Pauline Vaeluaga Smith

Pauline Vaeluaga Smith won the Best First Book Award in the 2018 NZ Children’s Book Awards for her book Dawn Raid, a diary format fictional account of a 13 year old girl whose family is caught up in the Dawn Raids of 1974. Supporting our school wide focus celebrating the different cultures of Aotearoa New Zealand, last week our year 7/8s were treated to an awesome virtual visit by Pauline, in which she spoke live on Youtube about her experiences growing up in the Pacific Islander community and also of writing her first book. Several other intermediate and high schools across New Zealand joined in and schools were able to submit questions to Pauline – Seatoun School was noted for the number of quality questions we submitted and had answered! Thanks to Storylines for hosting this event.

Pauline was an educator in Pacific Studies and was disturbed by the fact that the majority of young people coming through knew nothing about the ill treatment of specifically Pacific Island immigrants in New Zealand during the 1970’s. She decided that the best place to start was with children and therefore started researching and writing the book that won her many accolades.

Pauline told us about the events that led to the action taken by the Polynesian Panthers, an activist group led by the young people of the Pacific Island community. This film above was part of the National government led advertising campaign, heavily suggesting that the problem causing the high unemployment and civic disturbances of the 1970s was the overstayers, and disproportionately blamed the Pacific Island community. More than 3/4 of overstayers were actually from other countries, mainly Europe. The dawn raids were an extended period of immigration officials knocking on doors in the early hours of the mornings hoping to catch people who had overstayed their visas to stay in New Zealand. This mainly happened in Wellington, however, all over the country people were being stopped in the street simply because of the colour of their skin, and asked to produce their papers giving them the right to live in New Zealand.

Pauline was extremely proud that it was the young people who took action – she particularly remembers in her own community that the older generation wanted everyone to keep their heads down and hope the trouble passed, while the young people were unhappy about the poor treatment and wanted to take action. Mimicking the actions of the police, the Panthers found out where politicians and prominent policemen lived and went to their houses in the early hours to wake them up. This made quite a difference actually and the Dawn Raids soon ceased. Further actions were very positive and community minded – breakfast and lunch clubs for the poor, visiting prisoners, supporting older people.

Some of the questions that we asked Pauline:

Did you anticipate a dawn raid on your house and family?

Pauline – No, I was so young I didn’t realise the extent of what was going on. Just after the book was published my Mum told me that the police stopped my dad and asked for his papers.

How did the racist cartoons make you feel?

Pauline – When I heard about how the people stood up against them I felt proud.

What are the long term effects of the dawn raids?

Pauline – The Pacific Islanders, still to this day, feel humiliated by the terrible events of the past.

We love the patterns in the book – how were they inspired?

Pauline – I wanted everyone to know that this is a Samoan/NZ book.

Pauline talked about her experiences of writing her first book – she started with a visual timeline of the main events of the book and then wrote the story including elements of home and school life from there. She loved having a say with the publishers about how her book would look – for example she made subtle changes to the front cover to ensure the girl was more obviously Samoan. Pauline said that young people who wanted to get into writing should just start something and start with what they know, using their own experiences. For example, in this book, the younger brothers who always ran around the house and ended up breaking things were very much like her own family growing up.

Pauline has started her second book which is about the Landmarch of 1978. She has found her genre of writing which is to educate. We very much look forward to reading more of her work.

Thank you to Amy and Madeleine from Room 1 for input on the questions and their answers and to little Naomi from Room 6 who helped me write this post!

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The Proudest Blue – being proud of the cultural items we display

To tie in with this week’s sharing of cultural items, the book we have read with our junior students in the library this week is The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad. Ibtihaj is an Olympic Medallist for the USA in fencing and was the first Muslim woman in hijab to represent the US.

In this book, Faizah enjoys her first day at school, made especially exciting because it is also the first day that her older sister Asiya will wear her hijab. The book explores what it means to Faizah and her sister to wear the hijab, and also to overcome the attitude and reactions of children at school who don’t understand their significance.

Faizah remembers the words of her mother each time she faces scrutiny or questions, and one sentence has been particularly well received and discussed during library time:

Don’t carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them. They are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them.

Ibtihaj Muhammad is a strong role model for girls and describes herself as a change agent, being named in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential people in the world. Here is her website, have a look:


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Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are upon us again and Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh is a great entry in the Non-Fiction section. Selina Tusitala Marsh is an awesome lady who overcame the put downs of childhood and decided to champion her passion for poetry. Here she is with the tokotoko she received when she became Poet Laureate in 2017:

In Mophead, we learn about the moment she saw her idol, Sam Hunt, performing his poetry in her school hall, and saw then that to be yourself and to be wild can be celebrated. She took her passion for poetry to Auckland University where she became the first Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English, and she represented Tuvalu at the 2012 Poetry Olympics in London in 2012. On this poetry archive website you can listen to the poem she wrote about Sam Hunt, and his school visit, entitled “Orange Crayon Stick Figure Man”:

Poets Laureates are “poets officially appointed by a government or conferring institution, typically expected to compose poems for special events and occasions” (Wikipedia). Not every country has one, but we are lucky to have a new one every three years. Look on this link to a blog run by the poets laureate of New Zealand to see some more examples of their work:

This book can be borrowed from our library, along with more of this year’s finalists. Images of Selina Tusitala Marsh and Mophead courtesy of The New Zealand Book Awards Trust.

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Alex Rider Short Story Competition

Have you ever been reading a book or series and wished something different had happened? Have you seen something incredible happening on the news and thought your hero would have been excellent in this situation? Well here is your chance to share your ideas!

The publishers of the Alex Rider series are offering prizes to the best, most creative ideas you may have for Alex to appear in. There is no limit to how many words you can write, so just let your imagination run wild and give it a go. You could even see your story published for the whole world to see! Anthony Horowitz himself will decide the winners.

You have until 3rd of July, or the end of term, to come up with something special. Click on this image here to enter and find out more details. Good luck!

The brand new instalment in the Alex Rider series will be on our shelves by the end of the week – the cover is here and you can find out more about the whole series from the official website by clicking on it:

The author reads an extract from it here if you are too keen to wait!

There has also been a TV series made for Alex Rider which looks brilliant. The trailer looks really good! It looks like it will be on Amazon Prime, so hopefully that means in New Zealand too. If you have this at home don’t forget to look for it from the 4th June which is Thursday.

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Digital Escape Rooms and Books to help explain Covid19

Over the last week of Lockdown at Level 3 the year 3/4 team enjoyed completing a digital escape room. An escape room is where you are given riddles or puzzles which must be completed before you progress to the next level. There are physical escape rooms that you can visit with your family and friends and they are brilliant fun! A digital escape room is still fun if you work together to solve the puzzles. Our children showed great knowledge and teamwork and are helping to create their own based on the Julia Donaldson picture books.

  Click on this image if you would like to have a go at the activity our 3/4 completed. This was created by a librarian at a Christchurch High School


 This is a collection of the best digital escape rooms that librarians across the world have created, put together by Queenstown Library.



There have been some fabulous stories and comics created to help explain to children the effects and feelings around covid19 and how people and countries have coped physically and mentally.

Clicking on the image “We did it together” will take you to a Livebinder where these stories can be found.



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Collection of free audio books and author videos

Delia created this great poster about a book she recommends, Northwood by Brian Falkner. He is an author from New Zealand and we have many of his books in the library.

The good news is that you can listen to this for free on the Radio New Zealand website, which is one of the links in this collection we have put together here. Have a look at the various options available, including some art tutorials for how to draw your favourite characters, the audio books of some much loved classics and some for our older students too.

The link is here, click on it!


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If you get in quick….Ebooks and audio books available right now!

If you are looking for a new book to read, don’t forget about the Libby or Overdrive apps from Wellington City Libraries. It can be frustrating seeing many books are already on hold, but there are plenty to go at! Here are a few gems I have found that are available to borrow Right Now!!!! These are all books or authors you have told us about and recommended during our Google Meets library sessions. Below is more detail about how to use the Libby app.

Funny books

Slightly longer chapter books with some mystery and suspense

Books for older readers

Follow this linkWellington City Libraries ELibrary link

Libby is their app which makes it really easy to borrow ebooks and audio books. You can obtain it from the App Store for free and once you have put in your library card details, everything else is easy, you just have to see what is available or what you can reserve. Type in the title you are looking for or the author’s name. The app you need looks like this:

Once you have downloaded the app, choose your library, ie Wellington, and it will ask for your card number. Your pin is the last 4 digits of your telephone number, whichever one you gave when you signed up at the library.

When you have done that and you open up the app, it will look like this:

Go to the magnifying glass to search up the name of the book or author or a subject type, like dragons, or magic etc.

I searched up “Lemony Snicket” and it gave me lots of books by that author. You can see which books are available to borrow and which are On Hold. Click on the book to see more information or click Borrow. It will ask you to confirm it is going onto your card and will then create the loan and the book is yours for 21 days.

It is good manners to return the book as soon as you have finished it rather than waiting for it to disappear from your device at the end of the loan period. Someone else may be waiting to borrow it. You can return it very easily by going to your Shelf, clicking on Manage Loan, and then Return Early.


If you have any questions just email me on the usual school email address and I will help you sort it. If these books are no longer available just search up some more!


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Stuck at home? Here are a few ideas…

OK, we are now staying at home for a few weeks or longer, so here are a few ideas to help pass the time and help you with your learning. I will be adding to this post whenever something new appears so save this as a favourite and scroll down for previous items you may have missed!

Image courtesy of Sustainability Trust

I love this idea from our lovely friends at Sustainability Trust! Now that recycling is on hold, here is a fun way to use some of the items you would normally be putting out to recycle. Go mad, use your imaginations! If you create something, ask your parents to post them on the Sustainability Trust Facebook page to enter their competition. Don’t forget to send it to me too so I can post them up here on the library blog!


Billie B Brown books are super popular with our junior students and the author Sally Rippin has created a cool holiday programme for you to take part in. Have a look:

Dav Pilkey, officially our favourite author last year, is producing a series of activities for you to join in with, plus a live activity which you can watch a recording of when you wake up on Saturday morning. Enjoy, Dog Man fans!

Do you love jigsaws? Well Te Papa, our national museum is sadly closed for now but have made some cool digital jigsaws using images of some of their collections that you can puzzle out. Have a go!

Yes that’s right, FREE online comics thanks to Marvel. Many of your favourites here, Moongirl, Avengers, X-Men, the list goes on. No catch, no registration, just click on the one you want and start reading! is a leading live nature cam network, also creating documentary films about people making a difference around the world. Click on the link below to see their incredible live webcam footage from all over the world – watch (and hear the sounds of) a watering hole in Africa, the Northern Lights in Canada, some sleeping bats or playing puppies, there is something to delight everyone here. A parent can set up a free account and away you go.

Colouring & Paper Craft
Glenn Jones Art is a company selling beautiful New Zealand artwork and they have created some lovely colouring and paper folding activities you can download for free. A simple Google search for free colouring pages will also come up with plenty of options.

A Wellington City Library card is a passport to an incredible amount of online reading, information and activities. This is a link to the elibrary site, which provides lots of options, from ebooks, audio books, historical photograph galleries, films, children’s games, online magazines, language learning and more. There are also some great stories that have been read aloud on the Storybox Library. Your pin for these services is the last 4 digits of your phone number, the number you gave when you registered the card. Try your mobile or home number. Remember to look under “More resources…” – this is where you will find more great options such as Tumble Book Library, more free Ebooks.

Libby is their app which makes it really easy to borrow ebooks and audio books. You can obtain it from the App Store for free and once you have put in your library card details, everything else is easy, you just have to see what is available or what you can reserve. The app you need looks like this:

Time Magazine for Kids have generously made their magazine available for the rest of the school year. All you have to do is choose which age group you would like to subscribe to and give a parent’s name and email address.





Amazon’s Audible have made their collection of audio books available for free! A lot of classic tales here, many of them read by famous actors, including some in French, German, Chinese and Italian. No log in necessary, no account set up, just choose and go!

Look at the page on this site Books and Reading for some more great free Ebooks, author websites and pages for parents related to children’s reading

One of those is the World of David Walliams’ website. He is currently recording chapters of his World’s Worst Children series – have a look:

Elevenses with The World of David Walliams

Take a tour through some of the best museums and galleries in the world:

If you want to take a trip round the world and find places that are important to your heritage and culture, ask your parents or grandparents which school they went to or where some special places are from their childhood and look them up on another free app you can look up on the App Store, Google Earth. This gives fabulous images and photographs and often additional information. Last week Room 17 took a walk inside The White House (we didn’t see Donald Trump). This is Coniston Hall in the north west of England and is important to me.

Here are some colouring books that 113 museums allow you to download for free:

Image courtesy of NASA

This computer-simulated image shows a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy and is one of hundreds of images that NASA has made available for everyone to look at. Their gallery is searchable and includes incredible facts and information.

Neil Gaiman, author of The Graveyard Book, one of our favourites, has recorded videos of himself reading his books aloud. Have a look at his website. Other authors are doing similar so if you have a favourite it is worth searching them up to see if they are doing anything.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California (look it up on Google Earth, it’s in a beautiful place) has closed it’s doors to the public for now but is instead streaming video of it’s  exhibits! Be patient with the link – because it’s on the other side of the world they may be asleep when you are awake and therefore you may be watching a recording. I had difficulty watching it on my IPad but had more success on a PC.

There are some more options on the other pages of this blog – try clicking on Research Help or Books and Reading for resources to help you research and author websites. For the username and password for those sites that require them, or any other questions, email Mrs Bamber on

Continue reading

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A new Winnie the Pooh story

This week we have been sharing a new book Finding Winnie, the wonderful origin story of the most beloved bear, Winnie the Pooh.

Harry Colebourn is a friendly vet in Canada when World War One breaks out in Europe, and he joins the army in order to look after the some 7,500 horses that made the voyage.

Before he leaves Canada he spies a trapper at the station with a bear cub that he can’t take his eyes off. Making a hasty decision, he pays the trapper $20 for the bear and names her Winnipeg after his hometown, Winnie for short.

Winnie is pictured here with the Winnipeg section of the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps. The photograph was taken in Valcartier, Quebec, where the Canadian soldiers trained for Europe. (Courtesy of the Mattick family)

This lovely picture book, written by Harry’s great granddaughter, follows Winnie as she travels with Harry and his regiment, stopping short of action by spending most of the war at London Zoo which would become her home for the rest of her life. It is here that she meets and becomes friendly with a young boy named Christopher Robin and it is Christopher’s father, Alan Alexander Milne, that wrote the stories of Winnie the Pooh and friends.

Anay is in Room 11 and had this to say after sharing this book:

Last year before I came to New Zealand I went to London Zoo. At London Zoo I said bye bye to all the animals. Later that day in the corner of my eye I saw the statue of Harry and Winnie!! Dun dun duuuuuunn!!!

There is an interview with the author here, where she talks about finding the photos and material that gave her the idea for writing this wonderful story.

Our children (and teachers) have loved learning this story because Winnie the Pooh stories have been enjoyed by many of us from an early age. They carry great messages of friendship, kindness, resilience and courage.


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Super Mathematician Katherine Johnson celebrated

photo from NASA

Katherine Johnson was a human computer, working for NASA at a crucial time for discovery of the solar system beyond earth. Her mathematical work enabled the very first NASA mission taking man into space, and as a female African American, she had to fight to earn her right to contribute. She calculated — by hand — the flight trajectories for a number of historic missions, including the Alan Shepard’s space voyage aboard Freedom 7 in 1961 and the Apollo 11 flight to the Moon in 1969. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015 and until then nobody had really heard of her.

She died today at age 101 and her life will be justly celebrated. We have a couple of great books about her in the library, one of which is the novel behind the Hidden Figures film released in 2017.




NASA has a nice description of her life here:

A Mighty Girl is a website dedicated to women like Katherine and to girls everywhere. This link takes you to their website where they have reviewed the book, Counting on Katherine. You can also search their site to find other interesting articles about other trail-blazing women in science.


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