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Mana Kupu - the Power of Words

Friday 9th September, 7pm
Te Aute College

Ben Brown, in discussion with Dr Simon Barber, will explore the idea that words have a kind of magic to them, that when they are assembled and used in certain ways - as stories for example - that their effect on how we see ourselves and how we engage with our world is formative and profound. A reflection on the how and the why words move us: mana kupu.

Ben Brown (Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Koroki, Ngāti Paoa) writes children’s books, non-fiction, poetry and short stories for children and adults. Born in Motueka (1962), the father of two has been a tobacco farm labourer, tractor driver and market gardener. Since 1992, he has been a publisher and writer, collaborating with the illustrator, Helen Taylor, in most of his 17 publications.

Ben is the current Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador and a regular contributor to the Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Writers in Schools programme.

In 2020 Ben presented the annual Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Pānui (lecture) titled If Nobody Listens Then No One Will Know, which received wide-spread acclaim. His Pānui affirms the vital importance of writing, reading and knowing each other through our stories; it explores the complex concept of youth justice in Aotearoa.

Dr Simon Barber is a scholar of Indigenous thought and politics, Marxist and critical theory, black studies, communism, and conjunctions thereof. He completed his Masters at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London and his doctorate in the Centre for Research Architecture, also at Goldsmiths. As part of his doctoral research he undertook a postgraduate diploma in Ahunga Tikanga (Māori Laws and Philosophy) at Te Wānanga o Raukawa in Ōtaki. His thesis, developing a conceptual orientation that combined his learning from the university and the wānanga, traced the clash and entanglement of Māori and Pākehā worlds in Te Waipounamu through ongoing processes of colonisation.

Simon recently co-edited a book with Miri Davidson (Through That Which Separates Us, 2021) centred around themes of deportation, incarceration, and colonialism. Currently, with Sereana Naepi, he is co-editing a Special Issue of New Zealand Sociology that poses the question of how Māori and Pacific scholars might – and already do – transform the social sciences so that they become a more adequate expression of this place (Aotearoa and Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa) and its people.

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