There is no doubt that James Mackenzie existed, but the details of his life are sketchy and obscured by legend. Here’s what New Zealand History Online has to say about him:-
But, as you will find, our story will tell you more about James’ life and what may have happened to him in later life.
Our pioneers were, at first, suspicious of the native Maori people they met, but Sophia and Nancy become good friends with Atewhai, an elderly Maori woman who has a knack of turning up just when she is needed most. Her mother, Hinewai, taught her how to use things around her in nature to mend bones, heal sickness, soothe pain and make childbirth easier. Atewhai means ‘kind and loving’. Her husband is called Hunu, meaning ‘sun’. Although they were never blessed with children of their own they love their nephews, Taiko and Aperehama, and treat the children of the pioneer families as if they were grandchildren. Hunu enjoys telling stories to these youngsters and they, in turn, love to learn how the Maori people explain natural events through such stories.
Watch out for those Baylis brothers, They will take your money and try to steal your wife! Simon, the younger brother, a man of few words but plenty of evil deeds. Thomas, the older one, tells a good tale but is always out to make a quick buck. If they hadn’t chosen to travel to Australia, and then to New Zealand, they may well have got a free passage as convicts!
Edmund and Nancy Lawton live next door to Sophia and George. They follow a similar path as pioneers, although their home was in Devon where Edmund was a farmer’s son and Nancy, the eldest daughter of the local vicar.
Edmund is quiet and reserved but good with animals, especially horses, and resourceful in setting up a new home for his growing family. Nancy is always cheerful and optimistic, with a wicked sense of humour.
Nancy and Sophia are thrown together by their long journey across the globe. They soon become the best of friends throughout all their adventures together.
George McKay, the second son of a cattle farming family, was born in 1827 near Applecross on the west coast of Scotland. George met Sophia at school but it was not until they had finished their education that they began to step out together.
As a second son, George would not inherit the farm so he decided to seek his fortune in New Zealand, bringing his young wife, Sophia with him.
George is a handsome man, strong and dependable. Readers of The Wideawake Hat will, no doubt, fall in love with our hero. But don’t expect his journey as a pioneer to run smoothly.
To find out more, read The Wideawake Hat, available on 1st October as an e-book from Kobo.com
Sophia Morling was born in Leeds in 1829. When she was five years old her family moved away from the industrial north of England to the west coast of Scotland where her mother’s health improved to the extent that a sister and two brothers arrived safely and in quick succession. Sophia’s father, Albert, was a talented musician who made a fair income from composing songs for the music halls. Sophia inherited a good singing voice from her father and learned to sew, cook and run a household effectively from her mother.
In 1849 Sophia marries George McKay and the newlyweds set off on their pioneering trip to New Zealand.
Sophia is pretty rather than beautiful, with the palest blond hair which refuses to stay tied back tidily with ribbons. Intelligent, vivacious, practical and resourceful, she is the ideal pioneer wife for George. You will need to read The Wideawake Hat to see what adventures await her as she builds a new life on the other side of the globe……