Nine Girls

Stacy Gregg

Nine Girls
Penguin Group (NZ)
26 March 2024

Nine Girls

Stacy Gregg

An epic story woven with suspense by Pony Club Secrets and The Princess and the Foal author Stacy Gregg.

They dug a hole and they put the box filled with gold inside it.
To keep it safe until they could return, one of them placed a tapu on it.
A tapu so that anyone who tried to touch the gold would die.

Titch is determined to find the gold buried somewhere on her family's land. It might be cursed but that won't put her off.

Then an unexpected encounter with a creature from the river reveals secrets lying beneath its surface . . .

As Titch uncovers the truth about the hidden treasure, she learns about her own heritage - and what it's like to feel like an outsider in your own world.

A story about growing up in a time of social unrest in early 1980s New Zealand, Nine Girls is a page-turning adventure woven with suspense from the author of Pony Club Secrets and The Princess and the Foal.


In 1978, Titch’s dad goes bankrupt and her family moves from the flash city suburb Remuera to Ngāruawāhia, the small town where her mum comes from. In Ngāruawāhia, Titch and her cousins hear about a stash of gold that is apparently buried on the family land. Even though the gold is thought to be cursed, they become fixated on finding it. Things are different in Ngāruawāhia. Titch meets an eel named Paneiraira, or Pan for short. He’s a real character and a big talker, guiding Titch through the stories of her ancestors and helping her to understand herself and all the different and complex feelings of her family and her people.

The book is set over a few years and provides clear context for historical events like the occupation of Takaparawhau/Bastion Point, which began in 1977, and the greatly divisive protests that happened when the South African Springbok rugby team toured New Zealand in 1981.

This is an excellent coming-of-age story filled with strong characters. It’s frequently hilarious and deeply moving; a greatly enriching and engrossing read. Te reo Māori (the Maori language) throughout the book may feel unfamiliar to readers outside of Aotearoa New Zealand, so a glossary is included and there are notes at the back to clarify the historical detail and the author’s own story, which inspired the book. Recent government changes in Aotearoa New Zealand have sparked widespread concern surrounding Māori issues and with this in mind the book feels especially relevant. Highly recommended for readers aged 11+.

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