Author(s): Jessie Munro
The protective arms of two headlands bring us from the Hauraki Gulf into the Wairoa River and up its meanders through wide valley flats, yet where steep hills on either side foreshadow the narrowing gorge to the river's source in the Hunua Ranges. At the end of the tidal reach is the village of Clevedon, where the old McNicol farmhouse stands out on a slope above the landing. It is now a museum for the district's history, and where this book was born. This story is brimful of people's lives: Maori and Pakeha, men, women and children, conveyed through a multitude of voices speaking from diaries, letters, farm records, minute books and memories; hence the title Voices of Belonging. Jessie Munro has set the immediacy of these experiences within the historical context of each period: narrative and analysis intertwine. Voices of Belonging speaks for its unique area, and for us all.
Jessie Munro grew up on a farm near Kawakawa Bay and went to school in Clevedon and Papakura before studying languages and history at the University of Auckland. A former Commonwealth Scholar, she is the author of the acclaimed biography The Story of Suzanne Aubert, Book of the Year in the 1997 New Zealand Montana Book Awards. Jessie came to the McNicol Homestead in 2008 to begin research for this book and found herself immersed in an ever-growing, intensely rewarding story. Her abiding love for Clevedon - people and place - has grown stronger than ever in the writing of Voices of Belonging.