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Ghosts of Nick’s Head visit Makauri

A love of history and a childhood fascination with ghost stories inspired author Sue Copsey to set a ghost story on Young Nick’s Head. Dressed in a cartoon ghost-patterned T-shirt, with matching plastic ghost earrings, the award-winning writer visited Makauri School yesterday.

The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head is the first of three in a series set in historical locations around New Zealand.

“I’m big on history, so it’s a way of teaching kids about New Zealand history,” said Mrs Copsey.

“I wanted to write a ghost story for New Zealand kids. I had a light bulb moment when I went into a bookshop and asked if they had ghost stories for children.”

Told no such books were in stock, Mrs Copsey drew on her love of history and ghost stories to write her own series.

The England-born author was brought up on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories about the adventures of a group of children that often involved smugglers in coastal locations. Smugglers play a significant, if not sinister, role in The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head.

The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head is the fictional story of two boys on holiday who stay in a house on the cliffs of Young Nick’s Head. When one of the boys tries to unzip a bag, a supernatural presence makes itself known. Two young adventurers spend their clifftop holiday unravelling the story behind a boy called Tom, who died in a mysterious cliff fall.

One of the boys always gets into trouble and scrapes, said Mrs Copsey. She based that character on her son.

True to the Famous Five tradition, the two boys enter a cave — only to be cut off by the rising tide.

“I wanted shipwrecks and smugglers like I had read about as a child, said Mrs Copsey.

“I looked at a map for interesting spots around New Zealand. I saw Young Nick’s Head and wanted to know who Nick was and his story.”

Mrs Copsey drew on historical accounts of Nicholas Young, servant to the surgeon aboard HMS Endeavour, to include in her story that involves three ghosts — two good, one bad.

The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head is the first in a series of three books that include The Ghosts of Tarawera and the yet-to-be-completed The Ghosts of Otago.

GHOST STORY: Visiting author Sue Copsey (centre) reads parts of her book The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head to Makauri School students Charlie Ireland (left) and Zoe Watts. Zoe said she liked how the book’s two adventurers went to the museum to learn about the haunted house in the story. Charlie said she liked the boys’ adventures and what they did. “They always got saved by a particular person. You have to work out who he is.” Picture by Rebecca Grunwell