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Showing off some art . . .Doug the Digger author Alistair McIntyre shows Tuturau Primary School pupils how he draws Doug during his trip to the school as part of his Duffy Books in Homes programme trip.PHOTO: ASHLEIGH MARTIN

The author of the popular children’s book Doug the Digger visited pupils at Tuturau Primary School on Friday as part of the Duffy Books in Homes programme.

The programme was set up by author Alan Duff in 1992, distributing books to low-decile schools for pupils to take home.

The visit was part of Alistair McIntyre’s road trip around Southland, which went as far south as Bluff.

Mr McIntyre said Duffy Books in Homes also had role-model assemblies twice a year at which people like himself came to hand out books and talk to the children about the value of reading and writing.

“What I love is the kids getting their books, and it’s so well managed and organised,” Mr McIntyre said.

“I’ve done somewhere around 1000 Duffy assemblies, from Te Hapua in the North right down to Bluff, but out of all of those I’ve never heard of any muck-up of the school getting the wrong books or anything like that.”

Mr McIntyre said they had visited 13 schools in the Southland area on the trip and Tuturau Primary School was the last one.

“This is the last school and I’ve got tears already.”

Mr McIntyre said he had been a Duffy role model for about 19 years.

“It’s good seeing the kids and the smile on their faces.”

“I love it. I’m the biggest kid ever.”

Mr McIntyre said he was not the best at reading and writing but he followed his dream and challenged himself to write a book.

He said he had not heard of the Duffy programme before becoming a role model, but was now hooked.

“I love the concept of how the schools, communities and sponsors help the kids get their books, but I also love how they organise the assemblies and everything else.”