© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

History in the eyes of the young

Elizabeth Thomson
Falstaff and his new book  Falstaff Dowling-Mitchell

A new book has arrived on the New Zealand market in the hopes of appealing to young boys and get them interested in their history.

White Lies, Māori Legends and Fairytales hit the shelves and classrooms in March. 

Falstaff Dowling-Mitchell, a teacher at Hamilton's Nawton Primary School, came up with the idea for the book after remembering a concept he'd had years ago which suddenly felt right to put on paper. 

The book follows a young boy named Pētera and his friend Hone, growing up in Huntly, Hamilton, just as Dowling-Mitchell did, which shaped his writing of the book. 

"It's grumpy teachers, it's unfair parents, it's school bullies, it's kids taking risks and having big dreams...I hope people can relate to that." 

Dowling-Mitchell said he has always been a passionate writer, but the first thing he did in his process was google 'how to write a novel.'

What he got out of that was, 'write what you know.' 

He got in touch with Fleur Beale, author of I am not Esther, and other popular teen novels. She read through his manuscript many times and gave him tips. He also got in touch with a cultural advisor to make sure the Māori aspect was as accurate as possible. 

Dowling-Mitchell said it was 'scary' to release the book, but he is 'incredibly proud,' now that it is out, saying the reception was 'fantastic'. 

"It's super important that youth in our country understand our past and where we have come from...after what has been happening [in New Zealand] lately, it's very important for kids to understand that we live in a multicultural society."

The book is currently not in local bookstores but can be purchased from his website for both classrooms and individuals.