Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Whole Village

Right - sulk officially over. I think the Sunday barbeque bothered me a little more than I was willing to admit. I know I don't really have a case to be irritated about it - I mean, that is why traditionally we didn't have a December meeting.

In fact, I was almost kind of bold today. I signed off an email with "I so wish I could take you out for a drink". The reason I can't? For starters, I'd met her while running around sorting out travel insurance for my sister and mum. If 2 females have me running around an entire day, imagine what another female in my life would do to me.

So I thought I'd a post on the various end of year events I've been to recently.

I know I've mentioned it before - the Manaiakalani Film Festival. While not strictly an end of year event, I thought it was long overdue that I wrote a little something about it. So the 7 schools involved within the Manaiakalani cluster, hired a cinema for the day. The kids got their work up on big screen.

When I was at school, it was considered a huge honour if you had an obscure piece of art you did a couple of years previously end up in an "art exhibition". Unfortunately, being an unpopular kid, the one piece of art I was REALLY proud of in an art class got smeared with black ink. There was no such honour in primary or intermediate school.

It turns out you don't actually need to to the film festival to see the films. The films can be found here. My personal favourite was "Rewind." "Are you ready?" is a little food for thought but could have probably done with a little less adult intervention (i.e. It's about pedagogy but it just stinks of an adult's words rather than the kids given free reign).

Manaiakalani is actually part of a much bigger project. The "Tamaki Transformation Project". It does all sorts of things with healthcare, education, housing etc. The bit I really respect about it is the fact that it's not a bunch of outsiders trying to do things for the people of the community, but instead, those people being proactive and getting involved with how all this happens. Brilliant.

So there was an end of year thing for this project. Unfortunately, I wasn't all that happy with it (I think I would have been happier going to the latest Harry Potter movie with Sooty - yet another made name to protect identities. Of course, if it wasn't for the event, I wouldn't have known Sooty was off to Harry Potter). The reason? I'm not going to go fully into it due to the risk of being horribly racially and culturally insensitive so I'll summarise as much as possible.

A LOT of the speeches (there were a few too many too) didn't take into account the audience - using language such as "P.I. brothers" when the audience was predominantly white middle class. This is part of a much larger issue which I'll be posting about one of these days - I just have to write it in my head before committing it to the blog.

I've been asked a couple of times now what P.I. stands for. To be perfectly honest, I've never been told, but I think it stands for "Pacific Islander".

Given that it was held at a marae - or rather, on the steps of a marae. It was unclear the proper protocols around use of the toilets (whether we had to be welcomed in) and refreshments (hot sticky day). Someone offering out water from a jug to the audience would have gone a really long way.

I know, for the Manaiakalani project at least, there were loads of volunteers. The thanks was mostly around money - not time, effort, volunteered expertise etc.

And I found the audience to be a little condescending. There were a few cultural dances in between the speeches and I heard whispers of "that's beautiful". It sort of came across as "look at the little brown people in their colourful costumes". I don't know what could have been done about that but it did bother me to an extent.

In saying all of that, the scope of the project is amazing. The approach that's being taken, how involved the community are in determining their own futures and the sort of support the project is getting in all areas just astounding.

I met a guy who was there scoping out the area for a potential community garden as part of a health initiative. Brilliant.

So fast forward 2 days, and we had the Manaiakalani end of year bash. A much less formal event where we drunk, gossiped and talked. Brilliant. I even got called a gentleman! A hell of a title to live up to though.

About 20 students had dressed up and did a haka and a few other performances (sorry guys - not really up on the correct terminology). The bit which really stuck me though, was just how proud of these kids I could be. I can't quite explain it. I guess I have a sense of possessiveness of the kids given that I've been at school so often and we've formed our own little relationships (one of my favourite ones is where a certain someone says "Hello Mr. Nevyn". And then, in the same breath she'll come out with "I'm sorry - I forgot to leave off the Mr". The "Mr" just suddenly appeared one day with no real explanation. Before that I was just Nevyn).

And finally, the name sake of this post - The Whole Village.

Today was the Volunteers Morning Tea at Point England School. I had been invited to this a few weeks ago and I was told that it was fairly big. What I didn't realise until today was just how big. I've always thought of that saying "It takes a village to raise a child" to be something quite foreign. I mean, we don't really have villages in New Zealand right?

So I'm there looking around the room and more chairs had to be put out. There were that many people. People who helped with one on one reading. People who organised the walking school buses. People who did a bit of work around the school. People who supervised on school trips / camps etc.

Considering that I was the only one there from the volunteers (and commercial partners) from the Manaiakalani project, you also have to take into account the people working in the background.

But those people weren't invited - the only people invited I'm guessing where those who had actually been at the school during school hours. What's astounding about that is the fact that I was told only about half of those who were invited were able to come today. More chairs, still people standing around, only half of those invited there, and loads of people not invited.

That's not a village - that's a friggin' town.

1 comment:

  1. I just got asked if Sooty is ... well... Sooty. Yes. Yes it is. Look for a pseudonym for soot, add a paddock and you've got the name. Despite the name really meaning something to do with manna and trees.

    So... yeah...