This month we will focus on the literature of New Zealand.
Kia Ora – my name is Amanda Bond and I am a New Zealander currently living and working in Istanbul, Turkey. Throughout this month it is my honour to share some thoughts about the literature of my homeland.
I am the Teacher Librarian at Istanbul International Community School which means I am a trained teacher, teaching English literature at High School level before training to become a school librarian. I tell everyone I have the best job in the school and it is true.
I was a student in New Zealand at a time when New Zealand literature was really coming into its own. I remember reading the School Journals that were published four times a year. These Journals are provided to schools through the New Zealand Education Department and are full of different styles of writing; feature articles, poems, stories and plays by New Zealand writers – more on those in another post in the future. I particularly loved the plays. Investing in student literacy and New Zealand writers at the same time seems to me to be a win-win situation. When I reached high school the English Curriculum was developing and beginning to insist that students read New Zealand writers. I was treated to poetry by Denis Glover called Arawata Bill and a film series created for televisions called “Winners and Losers” which dramatised New Zealand Short Stories. Thus began my sincere appreciation for the work of Witi Ihimaera.
I was fortunate to have enthusiastic teachers who instead of teaching all the same old literature chose to embrace emerging writers from our own country. Our family had a tradition of visiting the town library most Friday afternoons. I enjoyed selecting a wide range of books, decimating the displays and seeking out new fiction. Our high school had a huge library and I became friends with the librarian there too. She was always giving new books or ‘another’ book linked to the ones I had previously borrowed. Teachers and librarians are the original influencers before the word ‘influencer’ was appropriated by YouTubers and thanks to these education professionals I developed a lifelong love of reading.
So over the next 28 days, I want to bring to your attention some of the marvellous writers and publishers from New Zealand, not as an ‘expert’ but as an enthusiast, following the footsteps of the people who encouraged me to love reading and love the literature of my home nation. My hope is that some of the posts will enable you to continue being the influencers that you are.
Amanda Bond is a New Zealand ex-pat currently working as Teacher Librarian in an international school in Istanbul, Turkey. Her twitter handle is @kiwionthego