Te Puke hosts creative writing course for migrants

Creative Writing workshop teacher Angie Belcher with her migrant students.

Welcoming new New Zealanders to Te Puke has taken a different approach this month with the offer of a free creative writing workshop for migrants, led by local author and educationalist Angie Belcher.

Angie, who lives at Maketu, has held a successful writing course for migrants to Rotorua and this inspired her to offer the same opportunity to the increasing number of newcomers settling in Te Puke and surrounding areas.

The six-week course aims to encourage newcomers to express themselves through the written word – be it poetry, storytelling, letter writing or even crafting a recipe.

Everyone – regardless of their English language ability – is welcome to join. The free classes start on Saturday October 31 and run weekly for six weeks from 9.30am to 11.30am in the Te Puke Library.

“This course is not about teaching English as a language – it is focused on enabling people to share their journeys and cultures and to grow in confidence by being in a small group of like-minded people,” says Angie.

Lessons are planned to encourage discussion and using words and language in a variety of written formats.

“Everyone regardless of age, or English ability is welcomed,” says Angie. “The only criteria is that they are willing to embrace and share their journeys and culture.”

Angie began her mission via the internet to encourage migrants to write. She has attracted many contributors across New Zealand.

“The work from those with little English is remarkable,” she says. “As mono-lingual Kiwis we can only admire the courage and strength found by contributors to meet the challenge of reaching into their hearts, dislodging suppressed memories and finding the right words in a foreign language to share their hopes, dreams and journeys.”

Team Leader Libraries Community Amanda-Jane McFadden is excited at holding the course in the Te Puke Library.

“This is the local hub of learning and creativity in the Te Puke township – so it is a lovely opportunity to celebrate the diversity of cultures we have in this area.

“By making these newcomers feel welcome in our town and having them as guests in our library, we all gain a better understanding of each other. We are looking forward to reading their stories that emerge from this workshop and sharing them with the community.”

The Rotorua workshop included 27 migrants from 18 countries, with English ability ranging from very little to fluent. Angie says the participants soon realised it was all about reaching into themselves and finding words to recount, describe or share a moment, memory, idea or feelings.

“With Te Puke's large migrant population and a culture of celebrating the diversity within the community I hope to be able to help newcomers share their journeys, dreams and aspirations – and so doing, help the rest of us to understand more about their cultures and to celebrate the diversity within our community.”

To register, either pop into the Te Puke Library or email tepuke@westernbay.govt.nz

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