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Travel to the past with Donna Goodacre by Finding Miriama

Updated: May 9

✦ What started as a family tree for her children evolved into a gripping historical novel. We speak to writer Donna Goodacre about her novel, Finding Miriama.

When did you first recognise your talent for writing, and what experiences influenced your path toward becoming an author?

In primary school I used to write stories, as many kids do, but when I left high school my principal, Mrs Drayton, told my mother I would write a book one day. Of course, being a teenager, I laughed it off.

Why did you write the book Finding Miriama and what is it about?

Finding Miriama started off as a family tree for my children about 10 years ago. But then I became intrigued by what I didn't know, and it grew. It's still based on my ancestors, in particular my great great grandmother, Miriama Potiki, who had a child with Major Joseph Greenwood when he and his family were based in New Zealand in the 1800s. However, it also follows the story of Joseph and his journey from England to India and Afghanistan and finally New Zealand, and also Catherine, his wife, whose story I became particularly curious about. It's an historical novel, but also a love story with a bit of war-time action thrown in.

Donna Goodacre Finding Miriama | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online

You explain Major Joseph Greenwood fathers a son to Miriama Potiki. Do you believe there was a genuine love interest between the two? If so, can you explain what historical research you found that may suggest this?

The fact that he left his illegitimate son a large parcel of land near what is now Auckland airport (oh if only we still had it!) told me that he must have cared for Miriama and Hohepa (Joseph Junior). However Joseph was a Member of Parliament by this time and in the end he did what was considered to be the right thing by following his wife and legitimate son back to England. The story doesn't end there though!

How did you research for your book?

I used many sources: Births, Deaths and Marriages, shipping records, a book written by Joseph about his involvement in the Afghanistan war, and Papers Past, which gave me a lot of insight into the day-to-day activities of the characters. I also used and British papers of the time. I had to imagine a fair bit as well. Every paragraph of writing amounted to hours of research. You have to enjoy it to do it!

Where can we find your book? 

My book is available on I'm pleased with the quality of the end product. The ebook and paperback are produced in Australia and the hardback comes from America. There is also an audiobook coming soon, read by Naomi Barton, who manages to successfully pull off the British, Maori and Indian accents. Not an easy feat! 

Is there going to be a sequel?

When the book was finally finished, I started getting feedback from people who wanted to know what happens next. I hadn't planned on writing a sequel since the first book took so long, but here I am in 2024, retired from teaching and no excuse not to write.

The sequel, which I've called Of Greenstone and Violins will be out this year. It follows the life of Joseph and Miriama's New Zealand-born son, and his quest to discover where he belongs. (The title Finding Miriama was instigated by my mother's quest to find her grave, which I did, but sadly Mum had already passed away not knowing.)

Donna Goodacre | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online

About Donna Goodacre

Donna is a retired English and Foreign Languages teacher. Her career has spanned forty years in both New Zealand and Australia. 'Finding Miriama' is her first novel, having started it in 2018 and the sequel 'Of Greenstone and Violins', will be released in 2024.

Donna is of Tainui Maori descent and divides her time between her birthplace in Tauranga, New Zealand and her home in Brisbane, Australia, where her husband, two children and grandson live.

Follow Donna's journey and blog and subscribe to her latest updates on her website.

Contact Donna Goodacre

Mobile AU +61407281766

Mobile NZ +64 211286187


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