The Tapu Garden of Eden is the story of an old man and his garden which occupies some now valuable real estate on the slopes of Maungawhau (Mount Eden) in Auckland, New Zealand. That a property developer is scheming to buy the land to build apartments is accidentally discovered by the old man’s young neighbour and friend, Hone Wihongi, a student at the local high school. Over the years the old man’s kindness has won him many friends among the local Maori and so Hone works with them, and against the wishes of the local borough council, to protect the old man and his garden.
He is unknowingly helped in his project by a mysterious boy, unknown to others and unseen by anyone, who secretly visits the old man. The clash of cultures is resolved and the old man’s garden – protected by tapu – is saved. But not as a garden.
The book is written for adults but I have discovered that teens love it. It’s funny, mysterious, sad, exciting. Even struggling readers want to keep reading which makes it especially popular with teachers and parents.