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April 9, 2018 | by  | in Arts Books | [ssba]

Te Hā Tangata: The Breath of the People


Te Hā Tangata: The Breath of the People is part of the Human Library, an international project that aims “to challenge prejudice and discrimination by creating relationships and connections”. With the Human Library, “the books are the people and reading is a conversation”, and Te Hā Tangata: The Breath of the People is a collection of transcripts from the recording sessions held at the Wellington Library by ten people who have been, or are still currently, homeless.

Those who contributed with their personal experiences did so to challenge the stigma and judgement people have towards homelessness, mental illness, and addiction, as well as express their creativity and prowess as writers and storytellers.

Their retelling of childhood abuse, addiction, discrimination, the failures of the foster care and justice systems, and life on the streets, are harrowing, heartwarming, and powerful. But you feel welcomed and privileged to be granted an insight into their lives, as they have shared their most private and darkest moments, but also their moments of triumph, friendship, and love.

The book also records the reactions and thoughts of the coordinators of the project, as well as the students and volunteers who attended the speaking sessions, who express the profound and immense impact that the project has had on their lives and their worldview.

Te Hā Tangata: The Breath of the People is a fantastic collection of personal stories, as it opens your eyes to the reality of homelessness, the systematic problems in our society that contribute to it, and how we all can help.

They are not people to avoid your gaze and walk away from. They are Robert, Shannon, Papa Smurf, Shomilla, Bruce, Verne, Sharron, Manu, Ngaire, and James.


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