I read this story when I was a child who played bullrush (known as ‘bulldog’ in the UK) until it was banned at our school after a student’s arm was broken, and although I’m not tangata whenua, it shocked me to read a story that looked more like my actual life than any I’d read before. The paddock and the children in it looked a lot like my school playground, minus the cowpats. This story stayed with me and changed how I thought about stories: the idea that one could write about how things actually were in one’s day-to-day reality, cowpats and all, and that not all stories happened in a fantastic world, like Middle-earth or far-off London.
First published in The Dream Sleepers and Other Stories, Longman Paul, 1980. Collected in Collected Stories: Patricia Grace, Penguin, 1994