Te Hā Tangata: the Breath of the People, launches on Wednesday 21 March at the Compassion Soup Kitchen in Wellington. The book is the culmination of the landmark 2017 Human Library on Homelessness project which enabled Taonga, people who have experienced homelessness, to share their stories.  The project aimed to elevate the voices of Taonga and challenge the stereotypes and stigma surrounding homelessness. The book documents the project’s journey and shares some of the incredibly moving stories that resulted.

Taonga will gather for the launch with others who collaborated in the project–staff from the  Compassion Soup Kitchen, Kahungunu Whānau Services, Te Whakamura Ai Te Ahi and staff and students from Massey University.

Karen Holland, manager of the Soup Kitchen, said, “Not only did I learn about the lives of our Taonga, but they taught me what it is like to experience homelessness, the daily rejection, the fear and the need for connection, aroha and dignity. We hope that the reader will take what the Tonga have shared, without judgement and in turn become tellers of their stories so that more people will share in the matauranga.”

Elspeth Tilley, Associate Professor of Expressive Arts, Massey University, said “Te Hā Tangata has completely changed how I interact with others, especially with strangers. I can’t thank Taonga enough for their bravery in sharing their stories.”

Te Hā Tangata: the Breath of the People  is available for purchase at https://compassion.org.nz/shop (RRP $29.95)

  • Te Hā Tangata was funded by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.
  • The Human Library is an international movement that aims to challenge prejudice and discrimination by using storytelling and the idea of a library to facilitate respectful conversations between people.

Contact: Karen Holland, Compassion Soup Kitchen Manager, Karen.h@compassion.org.nz, 022 627 0991