Land of Promise

The sea can be very cruel. William Donahue and his family discover this in 1839 during their miserable five-month voyage on the Adelaide from England to New Zealand. Sadly, one young member of their family is buried at sea. The Donahues have been promised land in a new town in Port Nicholson. But when they come ashore at Petone they find no plot of land waiting for them - and no sign of a fancy new town. Along with their fellow settlers they camp in tents and huts on the foreshore, battling floods and freezing weather. They struggle to claim their land, fighting both the incompetency of the New Zealand Company and the hostility of the local Maori.

Meanwhile 14-year-old Will is desperate to follow his chosen career - against the wishes of his domineering father. He hopes to become a newpaper printer and publisher like his hero, Samuel Revans.

Published in Scholastic New Zealand's historical My Story series, this novel for intermediate ages would be especially suitable for boys who like adventure and history.

Author's Comment

This book is very close to being non-fiction. Will Donahue, his family, and his friends are imagined characters. But most of the other characters in the book were real people or were based on real people. All the important historical events in the plot happened just as described - on the exact dates given in the book. So when you read Land of Promise, you can be sure you're reading what it was really like for those brave emigrants of the 1840s.

Reader's Activity

Visit the online Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and look up the entries for Samuel Revans and Edward Jerningham Wakefield. Crosscheck the information against Land of Promise and note which facts about these men were used in Land of Promise.

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