10 Questions with Trudie Cain, Ella Kahu and Richard Shaw

<p>From left: Trudie Cain, Ella Kahu and Richard Shaw, editors of <em>Tūrangawaewae</em></p>

From left: Trudie Cain, Ella Kahu and Richard Shaw, editors of Tūrangawaewae

1. Now that it’s published, what pleases you most about Tūrangawaewae: Identity and Belonging?

Perhaps it’s the ‘thingness’ of the book itself – we now have a material artefact that speaks to the course and the contributions of our colleagues from across the college. And we love the cover!


2. What does the book symbolise about the new BA at Massey University?

The book’s content — wide-ranging, thought provoking and questioning— is exactly like Massey’s BA. It’s like it in another way too, in the sense that it emerged from a process to which a great many people from across the College of Humanities and Social Sciences contributed. So what you have —as with the BA— is a range of expertise on display.


3. What is the Tūrangawaewae course within the BA? And what does it intend to do?

Tūrangawaewae is one of five papers which comprise the core curriculum in Massey’s BA. Based on feedback from our BA graduates, the core exposes our students to staff and ideas from across the College, comprises an intellectual commons in which the transferable skills necessary for life in the 21st century can be taught and provides opportunities for students to develop a sense of community with others in the BA. Tūrangawaewae’s job is to encourage people to reflect on what shapes their sense of self (both as private individuals and as citizens), to examine the rapidly changing nature of citizenship in Aotearoa New Zealand and to question the taken-for-granted stories we so often tell each other about this country.


4. This is a book written to support and elucidate the course. Is it also more than that?

Absolutely. We think the book will give anyone who reads it cause to pause and think about what it means to be in this place and at this time. Who we are as New Zealanders, what we look like, the ways in which we live our lives— these are all changing rapidly and in fundamental ways. Simultaneously, internationally we’re living through a tumultuous period in history during which things many of us have long taken for granted are being questioned. We’d like to think that some of the intellectual tools we provide in the book will help people navigate through and make sense of these developments.


5. Tell us about one major new thing you learnt or thought about while you were working on it?

In particular because it was an inter-disciplinary project, along the way we were all exposed to ideas or perspectives that we hadn’t necessarily considered before. But one of the key learnings was around pedagogy —how best to take these complex and complicated ideas and share them with students in ways that resonated and accounted for multiple voices and perspectives. The collaborative writing and editing process really helped.


6. What’s one major new thing that you hope readers will learn from its pages?

Since there are three of us can we name three things? 1: An appreciation of the complexity of Aotearoa New Zealand’s history and its influence on where we are today.  2: An appreciation of multiple perspectives about any given issue. 3: Not so much a learning, but a willingness to be reflexive and examine their own perspectives and assumptions about Aotearoa.   


7. How was it being a threesome on this endeavour?

Just in case the image doesn’t capture it! We’ve been incredibly lucky in that we gelled as a team very early on. By the time we started writing we’d already been working quite closely together as we developed and taught the course. The writing was a fairly natural extension of that work.



8. What¹s the best time of day for each of you for writing?

RS: Best time of day for writing is early morning (pre social media and news sites checking) and late at night (post social media and news sites checking).

EK: The best time for writing for me is when the deadline is close and the ideas have been rattling around in my head long enough to fall into a pattern.

TC: I’m often most productive late at night when everyone in the house is asleep. The air seems more still and the lack of disruptions helps me to find the rhythm I need.


9. What strategies do you deploy when the going gets tough?

EK: I take Dory’s advice in Finding Nemo and ‘Just keep writing. Just keep writing’. As someone once said to me, writing is like carving —it takes time to shape and polish the perfect piece. But unlike with carving, in writing you have to first produce the log of wood, knots and all.

RS: I find avoidance (dressed up as work/life balance) works well, for a time. I’ll head out for a walk or a coffee, but take a notebook along for the trip, as quite often the solution to the conundrum du jour will pop into my head when I’m away from the desk, and unless I have some means of capturing it I’ll spend the duration of my walk, coffee or whatever muttering the answer furiously beneath my breath so as not to forget it.

TC: I like to talk it out. I have lots of great colleagues down the corridor or on the other end of the phone line who I can have a chat with. They seem to know when to listen and let me talk through a half-baked idea and when to tell me to just get on with it. 


10. What are you each reading at the moment?

RS: Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, in which the Queen has an unplanned encounter with a mobile library around the back of Buck Palace and becomes an avid reader, thereby shirking her queenly duties and bringing matters to the brink of a constitutional crisis!

TC: I like reading around a theme, and at the moment it’s mother-daughter relationships (don’t ask!). I recently finished Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk and have just started The Lives of Women by Christine Dwyer Hickey.

EK: On the serious side of my bedside table is The Political Classroom — in the search for more ideas on how to teach challenging content such as Tūrangawaewae. On the less serious side of the table is A Man Called Ove, this month’s read for my highly social bookclub.