Nine Girls


It seems that all of Titch’s family is liars. It begins with Titch’s goat, though Titch’s best friend Tania, and then Paneiraira, the eel/tuna/taniwha with whom she communicates, tell her that there’s evidence well beyond this. In fact, it goes back to the days of Governor Grey’s warmongering upon the Maori of the Waikato.

Yet, what does it have to do with Titch? She declines Tania’s offer to be welcomed to the local marae. In fact, she doesn’t feel Maori. She doesn’t look Maori, and on first meeting, Tania suggests that she’s not part of the family. After all, Nan doesn’t speak Maori, agreeing with Dad that it’s not much use for anything.

However, moving from Remuera to Ngāruawāhia means that Tania’s immersed in the stories and history of her culture and whanau. Somehow, too, the locality, from the river, to stories of the treasure,  are all part of who Titch is.

We follow her immersion into Ngāruawāhia life, her discoveries and setbacks, her heartbreak and then her glimpse into a future. What’s more, this is based around real life incidents in New Zealand’s pioneer and twentieth century history. Furthermore, it is built from the author’s own life and iwi.

Bookwagon loves and recommends Nine Girls to all curious, engaged readers seeking a book that will make them laugh, cry and feel.

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Nine Girls

Stacy Gregg

(Penguin Random House)

Uncle Ernie knows where the gold’s buried beneath Taupiri Mountain. However, Uncle Ernie’s full of tricks, and wants a share of any gold that’s found. Then again, Titch’s mātāmua, so the decisions, and then any nasty discoveries, are in her court. Meanwhile, her best friend, Tania, will lift the tapu, ‘the most important part‘. Otherwise the curse laid on the treasure centuries before, will stand. It seems that Titch is learning a lot about her tangata whenua since the family returned to her mother’s people in Ngāruawāhia.
Nine Girls is Stacy Gregg‘s story of growing up through a turbulent time in New Zealand’s history. Thereafter, we consider race relations, from the days of the arrival of the pakeha, to the Waikato wars. What’s more, this is a time of a South African rugby tour, and protest repurposing of Maori land in Auckland. However we’re learning alongside Titch, uprooted from Remuera, to a sacred Maori land. It seems she is lost and alone, almost a bystander. Meanwhile, Tania seems immersed in her culture and family lineage. She and Pan, the taniwha eel, leader of the Ngāruawāhia waka, teach Titch about her family history. It seems ‘all [her] family are liars‘- beyond Uncle Ernie.
Bookwagon recommends Nine Girls to all older readers, who love memoirs, recent history, titles that course biography alongside considerations of race and culture. This book is reminiscent of Children of the Quicksands, though it is funny and rich. In fact it feels so real that you can smell Rainbow chips and the local dump too. What a magnificent and wonderful read.


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