Visit a turn-up for the books

Kapi-Mana News - - WHAT’S ON - CHELSEA MCLAUGHLIN

Kather­ine Mans­field House & Gar­den is all about cel­e­brat­ing lit­er­a­ture, so it makes sense for its fundrais­ing to do the same.

A new se­ries of events, which will help fund the restora­tion of the writer’s for­mer fam­ily home in Welling­ton, will see well-known fig­ures dis­cussing their re­la­tion­ships with lit­er­a­ture.

It be­gins with Prime Min­is­ter Bill English, who has an hon­ours de­gree in English lit­er­a­ture from Vic­to­ria Univer­sity of Welling­ton.

Kather­ine Mans­field Birth­place So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Ni­cola Saker will host an in­ter­view with English.

The so­ci­ety re­ceives an an­nual grant from the Welling­ton City Coun­cil but ex­tra fundrais­ing is re­quired to help re­store the house, Saker says.

‘‘Next year it’s 30 years since the house opened … In that time, a lot has been done, but there’s just a lot of main­te­nance that needs to be done.

‘‘Car­pets need re­new­ing, win­dows need restora­tion, all sorts of things.’’

It also wants to im­prove ac­cess for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and en­hance its ed­u­ca­tional of­fer­ings.

The house looks at ‘‘the spirit of New Zealand through a lit­er­ary lens’’, Saker says.

‘‘We can look at early Welling­ton, so­cial his­tory, do­mes­tic pol­i­tics, gen­der roles. All that kind of thing can be ex­plored through the lenses of Kather­ine Mans­field.

‘‘I think it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing for the house to be part of a con­ver­sa­tion about the sig­nif­i­cance of read­ing and lit­er­a­ture and I think a good way of do­ing it is through peo­ple the public knows.’’

Saker says not many peo­ple are aware the prime min­is­ter stud­ied lit­er­a­ture, and dur­ing her talk with him she hopes to find out why he did.

‘‘I’d like to find out a whole range of things, what he read as a child and did he read to his chil­dren?

‘‘And what were his favourite univer­sity English lit­er­a­ture pa­pers? What would be his top five books to take to a desert is­land?

‘‘What book would he rec­om­mend to as­pir­ing politi­cians?’’

‘‘Next year it’s 30 years since the house opened … In that time, a lot has been done, but there’s just a lot of main­te­nance that needs to be done.’’

Bill English Opens the Books takes place on Thurs­day, Au­gust 1, at Samuel Mars­den Col­le­giate School; 5.30pm-7pm. Tick­ets and more in­for­ma­tion from kather­ine­mans­field.com.

PHOTO: ALEXAN­DER TURN­BULL LI­BRARY

New Zealand au­thor Kather­ine Mans­field, circa 1920.

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