The Green Kiwi by Temple Sutherland
Set in the early 1940’s, Temple departs Scotland as a young man and arrives off the boat in Ruawai (via Auckland and Helensville) to work on a farm and find his future. The swamp that was Ruawai has been drained and farming is taking hold. Gum boots have been invented making life in the mud bearable. As he gets to know the locals he learns much about New Zealand and it’s culture, which he describes with local dialogue in place. For some readers it’s a trip down memory lane to a busy little town with regular dances and a movie theatre, for others it is a chance to see the town as it used to be.
My readers find it hard to keep reading when Temple moves on from Ruawai, but they are not disappointed because he makes all his other stops along the way humorous and interesting to read about.
Temple has a keen eye for a story, which he retells with humor and detail. He changed the names of the locals, but later provided Ruawai Library with the names the characters were based on, many of the families still live in the area.
I don’t think you need to have heard of Ruawai to enjoy this book. It was originally published in 1959 and has had a few reprints. It still appears on TradeMe from time to time if you can’t locate a copy at your library.