Learning to stand upright here: who are we and who is our land

McNeil, Helen Patricia
Mountfort, Paul
George, James
Item type
Degree name
Master of Creative Writing
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Auckland University of Technology

Learning to Stand Upright Here is a novel about an immigrant family who come from the United Kingdom in the 1950s to a small town in New Zealand. It is a mill town, built on the volcanic plateau, on a land that is unstable and, at times, inhospitable. The novel traces the difficulties that each member of the family have in settling. Betty, the mother, never leaves the England she has brought with her. Ian, the father, finds his place in the world of work and the local pub. Amy, the younger child, develops a deep connection with the landscape and is consumed by it. Sandra, the older child and the protagonist, reaches out to the land through her connection with Maori. She returns to the town in the 1970s, and finds that she must deal with the past in order to begin to develop a sense of home. The exegesis that accompanies the novel draws on the fields of cultural geography, philosophy, architecture, and literature to explore a conceptual framework for the development of spirit of place. There are three levels of expression for the characters in the novel: ecological (sensual experience), historical/personal story, and cultural assumptions. They each have a differing degree of expression of these levels. At times the historical/personal stories differ because they are culturally bound. The exegesis also explores ways of languaging relationship with the landscape, using multisensorial description, second person narrative, and sentence structures in which the landscape feature becomes the subject of the sentence. One of the areas for further development of the novel is envisaged as being in the refinement of this languaging. [Note: the novel "Learning to stand upright here" is embargoed until 28 February 2014.]

Immigration , Landscape , Volcanic plateau , Sentient landscape
Publisher's version
Rights statement