Kaitaia book store Marston Moor has hosted a number of book launches over recent years, but none quite like Fraser Smith's effort last week.

The Ōtūru School principal, who began his working life as a teacher followed by fishing, beekeeping, music, farming then back to teaching, who confessed that he was "big on birds with feathers," proved to be adept at delivering bird calls and mimicking the parrot, Carrot, who plays a major role in Awatea and the Kawa Gang, to the obvious amusement and admiration of his audience.

Mr Smith said he had been "blown away" by the fact that his first book, Awatea's Treasure, which has since been reprinted, was even published, but it achieved much more than that. It went on to win a Storylines Notable Book Award, and was short-listed for the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults' Best First Book.

"This one was much easier to write," he said of his sequel on Thursday evening.


"It had to come. I don't know if another one is brewing, but it probably is."

He let slip a possible spoiler — another feathered character, a goose, inspired by a somewhat fraught relationship with the species as a child, does not live to a ripe old age.

Awatea and the Kawa Gang is a rollicking yarn, involving a supposedly haunted house, Carrot the talking parrot, an aggressive goose, a hidden tree hut, a secret and treasure, the hero finally turning the tables on his mischievous uncles by playing a spooky trick of his own.