Journey to Tangiwai by David Hill
The Tangiwai disaster, on the eve of Christmas 1953, remains one of the major disasters in New Zealand's history. Peter Cotterill, age 13, starts the year writing in a journal given to him by his great aunt. We follow him through a year of many changes as his town of Napier struggles through hard times in the aftermath of World War 2. He joins the scouts and learns to overlook the small-town class structure. The story climaxes in a train ride to Auckland with his fellow scouts on the eve of Christmas. In the night, unbeknown to the travellers, a lahar has washed away a railway bridge... culminating in an event so tragic that it shocked the nation.