Vaimoana Tapaleao: Growing up with Harry

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Daniel Radcliffe as Harry in 'Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.' Photo / Supplied
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry in 'Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.' Photo / Supplied

My dad can't stand Harry Potter.

Every time he hears the opening theme song, he walks out of the room, mumbling something like: "Harry Potter so'o!" - Samoan for "too much Harry Potter".

Arguably it has been a bit like that. I have read every book more than once, some at least four times. I have all the DVDs and (I say this with a red face) I can recite each movie word for word.

My life with Harry has spanned more than a decade. I got my first book in my final year at primary school, as a 12-year-old.

I remember seeing it in the news that week. Hundreds of screaming kids dressed in robes and oversized glasses - their foreheads scratched with an odd-shaped scar - waiting to get their hands on a book. A book. I couldn't understand why they were so excited over a book.

It wasn't until a cousin lent me her copy that I finally understood.

Books really are a ticket to far-away lands and adventures, but reading Harry was truly (no pun intended) magical.

There were many times when I would lock myself in my room and read for hours non-stop. I'd laugh, cry, get angry, scared and excited, with Harry, Ron and Hermione and their friends at Hogwarts.

My fascination with Harry started with the idea that here was this kid whose room was the cupboard under the stairs who had grown up to believe that he was a nobody.

Then, all of a sudden on his 11th birthday, he's thrust into this strange but wondrous world where, lo and behold, he's one of the most important people in it.

As I made my way through high school, Harry stayed with me.

In year 11 English I quoted Hogwarts headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, for a speech I did on family.

The next year, when The Goblet of Fire came out, I went to a leadership camp and yes, Harry came with me.

My friend Sharon still teases me about my keeping the book under my pillow and reading it during free time.

There was also the time I almost had my book, The Half-Blood Prince, confiscated when I took it to Sunday school.

Reading Harry also led to my creative writing being a lot more colourful and English fast became my best subject.

As the years moved on, so too did the issues Harry and his friends faced - such as love, peer pressure and being different - the same as my friends and I were going through.

By now the movies had become a phenomenon, however, the books were what kept me wanting more. Poor J.K. Rowling couldn't write fast enough.

I was in my final year at university, aged 21, when the final book came out. By then it was dead embarrassing being among excited teenagers and I distinctly remember going to The Warehouse to buy The Deathly Hallows at 10am.

Even going to the movies became a bit of a pain, having to line up with giggling 10-year-old and 13-year-old girls just wanting to gawk at Daniel Radcliffe for three hours.

Now, at 24, I'm looking forward to seeing the final piece of this magical puzzle. I can truly say that Harry Potter has been a good friend these many years and has impacted me in many ways. "Bloody hell" - Ron's favourite phrase - has become a key one in my vocab, much to the disapproval of my mother.

However, the positives include my passion for reading and writing. I also see the written word as being of greater value now, given its power to steer young impressionable minds.

And it's this that makes me believe that although the films end here, the magic does not.

The other day, my 8-year-old niece, Jane, found a ratty-looking Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets buried under a stack of old books in my room. She sank into a corner and began to read. Suddenly she burst out laughing, turning a page. And there it was - magic.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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