Children’s book brings North Shore history alive

In 1923 Takapuna housewife and poet Elizabeth Welsman Dawson arrived home from a shopping trip to town. The last part of her journey was from the Bayswater wharf aboard the Takapuna steam tram that rattled and belched clouds of soot and smoke over passengers, and everything it passed along the way. Elizabeth sat down and wrote a humorous poem about her experiences which was published in the Observer newspaper, and no doubt brought a wry smile to the face of many North Shore commuters of the time.

Almost one hundred years later Elizabeth’s grandson, writer Terry Carson, has taken this much loved family poem and created an illustrated children’s book, The Takapuna Tram. The scenes described by Elizabeth have been turned into colourful and quirky pictures by artist Elva Leaming. Award-winning book designer Anna Egan-Reid has taken the amusing old poem and the new original artwork, and turned it into a high quality, hardcover children’s book that is truly unique.

The Takapuna Tram will entertain young readers with its rhyming story line and colourful action pictures, while many adults will enjoy a nostalgic trip down memory lane with the images of the old steam trams, the ferries, old seaplanes, and even Jamuna the famous Auckland Zoo elephant.

"Turning my grandmother’s poem into a story book had been an ambition for many years. Although the book features a special period in North Shore local history it is so colourful and entertaining that today’s children will love having it read to them."

A number of ‘big children’ have told him how much they have enjoyed reading it to their grandchildren. A keen local history buff, Terry is delighted the book means his grandmother’s poem will continue to live on, along with memories of the old days when steam ruled the North Shore. To obtain a copy of this truly unique children’s book go to

Terry Carson can be contacted through the alibi press website or on 021 161 2054 for those who find payment by internet banking more convenient. Further details of the book can also be found at:

Terry Carson is also the author of the recent non-fiction book, The Axeman’s Accomplice – The True Story of Margaret Reardon and the Snow Family Murders, an examination of what really happened in the sensational multiple murder case at Devonport in 1847 – often called New Zealand’s early colonial era first ‘who dunnit’. Also available at

Issue 125 November 2021