Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Te whare tapa wha - text as house and home

Two disparate events have happened recently to do with reading and writing, yet they have become connected in my mind - connected I think, because the first one gave me a way of thinking about the second.

The first concerns the launch of an educational video now available on the website of the National Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy which explores, among other things, what a text is and what reading means, especially, but not only, in relation to tertiary and foundation education. Among other things, the video explores the contribution Mason Durie's Te Whare Tapa Wha model (1982) makes towards understanding the creation and reading of text. Te Whare Tapa Wha, a model originally used to promote the understanding  and use of  a Maori view of health, has been used extensively in the NZ health sector and is increasingly being applied to many other areas as well.

Here is a link to the video.

My (small) involvement in the video - and the project behind it - gave me the opportunity to learn from a gifted teacher and colleague, Herewini Easton (you can see him in the video clip) who has expertise in both Maori and Pakeha/European pedagogies. One of things I learnt from him was to think of a text as a whare - a 'house' that is constructed by the four walls (or dimensions) of wairua, hinengaro, tinana and whanau - spiritual, mental and emotional, physical, social.
Thinking about text in this way is a wonderful opportunity to open up how we view reading and writing; and it makes (better) sense of some of my own feelings about, and responses to, reading and writing novels, short stories and poetry.

The second event  that occurred recently - inside.out - was a NZ Society of Authors Auckland branch event which provided an opportunity for writers to read their work in public. Held on Monday 6th August at 121 Cafe on Ponsonby Rd, it was a lively and well-attended event that grew out of discussion in the Auckland branch that while there are a number of opportunities for poets to read their work, e.g. Poetry Live, there are none for those who write novels, short stories, non-fiction and so on. Poets could also participate of course, and they did.

I commend all those involved in organising and participating in this event which I hope will continue  on a regular (monthly) basis and I very much enjoyed most of those who read their work - but, unfortunately, there were a few times during the evening when all I felt was shouted at, and abused as a reader/listener, and as a fellow writer, as if the 'performer' believed I/we were just a mirror to view themselves in rather than a community with which to genuinely share their best efforts.

Perhaps considering a perspective on constructing and sharing text like Te Whare Tapa Wha would help us to deepen and enrich both our writing and reading and help us all show more respect to each other and to our work.

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