Alistair McIntyre does not have to work hard to attract an audience as he travels from town to town reading his Doug the Digger books to children.

He says you only have to "look at a busy sandpit" to see how children relate to his love of machinery.

The writer, also known as "Mr Mac", is a role model for Duffy Books in Schools which provides free books to more than 100,000 New Zealand children, three times a year.

McIntyre was in Whanganui and visited St Mary's School in London St to
hand out books and share the tale of how he came to write Doug the Digger.


Having a father who was a civil engineer allowed young McIntyre to visit work sites and watch the machinery he loved in action.

"I ran around putting wooden pegs in the ground and was told to listen, look, learn and not tutu with anything."

McIntyre told the children how he left school at 15 and learned to drive trucks while saving hard to start his own business.

He owned two businesses while still in his teens but life took a tragic turn when McIntyre suffered a serious work accident at 25.

Unable to continue doing what he loved most, McIntyre had to re-evaluate his life.

"I had a dream about writing a book and I knew the idea was good, but writing was not one of my strengths," he said.

The book was published in 2003 after McIntyre went back to school for literacy lessons.

He said he now regrets that he did not work harder the first time around.


"I had days off and I didn't apply myself. You should always listen to your teachers and be proud of your work."

McIntyre is one of several role models who travel New Zealand presenting Duffy Books, but his presentation is unique. He arrives in a big truck, and gives children rides and safety lessons in the digger he calls "Kerri-Ann".

The Alan Duff Charitable Foundation Duffy Books in Homes is a literacy programme aimed at breaking the "cycle of booklessness" in many New Zealand homes.