Amanda Giorgis, Author

Introducing FRIDAY


Introducing FRIDAY. There is no doubt that Friday existed as James Mackenzie’s faithful and unusually clever working dog. There are differing theories as to what happened to her. (Yes, Friday is a girl – that rather surprised me when I was doing some research). It is possible that she was shot because she would not work unless spoken to in Gaelic, but one theory suggests she saw out her days at the Levels Station where she became something of a celebrity. There is even a photo of her there, although she would have been at least 17 by the time this was taken. Who knows? Read The Wideawake Hat to find out what I think became of this clever wee dog!

Photo Credit – Sheep dog owned by James MacKenzie. Ref: 1/2-007818-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23198202

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The Wideawake Hat – meet the characters – James Mackenzie


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.

The Wideawake Hat – meet the characters – Atewhai’s family

nature forest plant leaves

Photo by Pixabay on

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.


The Wideawake Hat – meet the characters – the Baylis brothers

silhouette of a man in window

Photo by Donald Tong on

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!

The Wideawake Hat – meet the characters – Edmund and Nancy

close up of horse

Photo by Pixabay on

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.

The Wideawake Hat – meet the characters – George

brown highland cattle on field of grass

Photo by Gabriela Palai on

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