Second in New Zealand Classics series reissues innovative local history that won 1988 NZ Book Award for non-fiction

‘Scott proves it is possible to hold history in the palm of your hand.’ —   Fiona Kidman

First published in 1987 and here in its third edition, Seven Lives on Salt River is a local history that transcends its boundaries along the northern Kaipara Harbour around Pahi to be a universal story of how European arrivals adapted to life among Māori in a new land. 

Dick Scott was renowned for bringing the suppressed history of Parihaka to light in Ask That Mountain, and like that earlier work, Seven Lives has become a classic of popular storytelling. 

The book portrays seven European families central to settlement in the area — the Blackwells, Coates, de Labrosses, Jackmans, Pooks, Scotlands and Stevens — with local Ngāti Whātua and other settlers.

Interwoven with stories and photos of the community are lives both ordinary and outstanding, including Gordon Coates, the first New Zealand-born prime minister; Jane Mander, renowned author of The Story of a New Zealand River; and Henry Scotland, a father of the peace movement and champion of Māori land rights. 

Beyond their legacies, it is the detail of how these families fitted in and the spectacular illustrations that gives this highly illustrated book its enduring fascination.

This facsimile edition, printed locally, takes its place in Oratia’s New Zealand Classic series, bringing key works of our history back into print.

The author

Prime Minister David Lange (left) with Dick Scott at the launch of
Seven Lives on Salt River in 1987


Dick Scott (born 1923) was a fearless and often peerless popular historian whose works included the ground-breaking 151 Days, Ask That Mountain and Would a Good Man Die? He stumbled on Pahi while researching the early vineyards of Northland, and later had a holiday home on the peninsula. Dick passed away on New Year’s Day 2020.