Author(s): Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith
Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia’s main worries are how to get some groovy go-go boots, and how not to die of embarrassment giving a speech at school! But when her older brother starts talking about protests and overstayers, and how Pacific Islanders are being bullied by the police, a shadow is cast over Sofia’s sunny teenage days. Through her heartfelt diary entries, we witness the terror of being dawn-raided and gain an insight into the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers in the 1970s as they encourage immigrant families across NZ to stand up for their rights.
“You're having an amazing family holiday, one where everyone is there and all 18 of you are squeezed into one house. All of sudden it's 4 o'clock in the morning and there's banging and yelling and screaming. The police are in the house pulling people out of bed ...”
It's 1976 in Cannon's Creek, Porirua, and the first McDonald's in New Zealand has just opened. Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia's main worries are how she can earn enough pocket money to buy the go-go boots that are all the rage, and if she will die of embarrassment giving a speech she has to do for school! It comes as a surprise to Sofia and her family when her big brother, Lenny, talks about protests, overstayers and injustices against Pacific Islanders.
Sofia’s political awakening comes when police start storming homes early in the morning looking for immigrant overstayers and terrorising families. But they seem to be targeting only Pasifika people. Through her spirited diary entries, we join Sofia as she navigates life in the 1970s and is inspired by the courageous work of the Polynesian Panthers as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights. In fact some of the Polynesian Panthers were interviewed and feature as real characters in the book.
This is the 28th book in the excellent My New Zealand Story series which brings to life significant events in our history as seen through the eyes of fictitious child diarists. The legacy of the dawns raids continues to affect families across New Zealand and the Pasific and Sofia's story is a fascinating and important read for 9+
Winner of the 2018 NZ Children's Book Awards - Best First Book Award, and finalist in Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction