Ben Brown on the Northland Story Tour

July 6th, 2022. By Anne Dickson

In June, Ben and 3 other authors spent a week visiting schools and libraries on the Storylines Northland Story Tour.

Ben is first and foremost a storyteller

Pair an almost encyclopaedic knowledge, a steel-trap memory and a natural gift as a raconteur and the stories flow. Ben seems to have a story for every occasion.

On the Storylines Northland Story Tour in June, Ben spoke at 14 schools, which ranged from small rural primary schools to large urban secondary schools. His message about the importance of reading and story is woven into his storytelling in a way that makes it indistinguishable at times from the tale itself.

Over the course of a week, Ben and fellow writers and illustrators Elena de Roo, Ruth Paul and Tina Shaw travelled almost 1,200km, visited 36 schools in total and presented to approximately 2,650 students and teachers.

Ben and Elena outside Te Kura Takiwā o Opononi.
Ben Brown and Elena De Roo at Te Kura Takiwā o Opononi. Image credit: Storylines. All rights reserved.

Some great messages

Through stories from his own life, other New Zealand writers and pūrākau (including the story of Matariki) some of the messages included:

  • Stories are an integral part of who we are and who you are.
  • The most fascinating people are ordinary people.
  • The power of words. ‘This is a world which runs on words, and it’s valuable to have an understanding of them — that’s what we’re sharing with young people.’
  • Reading has given me a lifestyle that I wouldn’t otherwise have. Don’t underestimate the power of the story.

Highlight and photos

One of the highlights for me was seeing the resource Librarian Clare Geisbers created at Northland College in preparation for Ben’s visit based on his poetry, short stories and the Te Awhi Rito tauparapara.

You can view photos from the Northland tour and tours in other regions on the Storylines Facebook page.