“I remember picking up a Māori magazine, and it said this,” he leans back in his chair to recite the words:
“The marae is my home. The marae is my place of work. The marae is my church, the marae is my museum, it is where I was born, and where I will be buried.”
“So I got out of jail with $25 and a dream.”
When Mum decided that the thing she wanted above all else was quiche, it was my job to make it for her. That it was Easter Sunday, and that all the shops were closed, didn’t strike her as particularly important.
So I made pastry from scratch. I baked it blind. I fried bacon, beat eggs and, sweating from the fluster of creating something appetising, I presented the quiche to my mum with pride.
She took a bite and immediately vomited.
“I’m sorry,” she said, pushing the plate away.
Michael Fitzgerald, said to be a hospital obstetrician, and a stepdaughter, Sophie, never existed.
The nurse cousin visited Oates-Whitehead in London last year but realised something was up the day she tried to find Fitzgerald, without success. She told Richmal by phone, jokingly, that her fiance needed to introduce himself to colleagues so people would recognise him.
"She got all upset, and said 'I've got to go'.
Ross Tay-lor. Three clipped syllables. So very Anglo. So very middle New Zealand, but that's not who Taylor is. That person is a figment.
It was always meant to be Luteru Taylor. A proud name. The product of the union between his Samoan mother, Ann, who emigrated to New Zealand in her teens, and Kiwi father and former representative cricketer Neil.
The television news once called her the ‘rock n’ roll granny’. On her watch, The Kings Arms became a hub of the metal, punk, indie and reggae scenes. The irony was Maureen, who was 86 when she died last year, was a classically-trained singer who would often leave after the bands’ soundchecks to go to an orchestral concert. But music proved to be a way to keep alive an old-fashioned pub whose core clientele were literally dying off.
Eugene knows this path well - when he left state care, it wasn't long before he ended up in prison, where he remained for four years.
However, his father's death was a catalyst for change.
"Dad died in a cell at Paremoremo Prison. I was in Mount Crawford, my brother was in Mount Eden, one sister was in Arohata, another one was at Paparua.
"We'd been a family of inter-generational institutionalisation. I thought 'this is dumb, it needs to change'. I got my ta moko, and vowed it would end there."
“To me, it seems just an iPad on wheels, so what is the difference between an iPad reminding you to take your medication and this guy?” she says. “What they found with this guy is that people actually started having a relationship with it, because it reacts. They were obeying it. They didn’t want to disappoint the little guy so they were taking their medication. But with an iPad, you don’t care.
Bindner didn't have a home to retreat to. There was no cocoon where he could escape the pressures of life, pick himself up and face the world again. Public spaces were his home, but it seems few people saw him.
Almost three weeks after his life ended, almost no one in Te Awamutu remembered him. Daniel Bindner was a man hidden in plain sight.
A broken and flooded stretch of Avonside Dr now ends at Taylor's front door: the city's longest, most extravagant driveway.
It took six years for one of the city's oldest neighbourhoods to disappear. Now there is Taylor, and his only neighbour, the Queen of England: She is the registered owner of property titles bought under national earthquake legislation.
He describes a good, loving upbringing as the youngest of six children. “We certainly didn’t have money but I would never try and say that it was poor.” His Maori dad was a Baptist minister. Mum was a Pakeha primary schoolteacher and stay-at-home mum. “I was the youngest. So you might say that makes me self-assured,” he says. I remember this comment later, while watching his extraordinary appearance on Campbell Live.
I also recall his answer to a question about why people get involved in politics: “Some of it is ultimately … arrogance where you have to decide, actually, I could do a better job than someone else.”
I remember a second-year business student for whom I had just bought a large orange and vodka for $5 at the Fat Lady’s Arms one Saturday night in 2002. He wanted to know how writing would ever get me a decent job. “What are you gonna do with that?” he asked me, almost as if I’d just pulled some indescribable item out of my pocket and was demanding that he touch it. I remember, in that moment, looking at the university students dancing all around us to “I’m Gonna Be” by the Proclaimers, the worst song in the world and yet also the song that people most often shouted into one another’s faces. I said to the business student that I didn’t know what I would do with the writing. A hot shame came over me then for not having a reasonable plan.
“I’ll be back in touch if we have any comment,” he said.
He did not get back in touch.
In the 12 months since, the Herald has 10 times asked questions of Thiel — about his citizenship, his shrinking holdings in Kiwi software firm Xero, why he appears to have ghosted New Zealand, ties between his firm Palantir and local intelligence agencies, and even the celebrity classic, “What do you think of New Zealand?” And 10 times he again did not get back in touch.
But on the eve of publication of this story — a year and a day after questions were first asked about this saga — Thiel broke his silence with a short statement.
Lance Burdett, a former crisis negotiator for the police who now runs a resilience coaching business, says police don't always get it right, and he questions if they look closely enough at the leadup to shootings to determine what could have been done differently.
"I investigated cops," he says. "One of the things I used to do was go back and see the other jobs they'd been in - why did they lash out?
"Most times they've been to a baby death, they've been in a car chase, they've had something emotional before they've got there and so their mindset might not be right."
Here's where I cried like a child one night three years ago when my Dad was suddenly critically ill. I wasn't ready for him to go; I'd never be ready. I resent this piece of floor for holding me up that day. I'm sure there's another place where I later sat, maybe cradling a cup of tea, knowing that he'd rallied and would soon be discharged. I don't remember that moment; perhaps, deep down, I didn't trust my relief.
Go on, admit it. Deep down, in the places you don't care to reach into, you don't really like Grant Dalton OBE. You're not sure exactly why, but the animus lurks.
It might be the not-made-for-TV smile that can slide into a smirk. It might be the rich-man-pleads-for-money act. It might just be that some people aren't built to attract sympathy - just as Christopher Walken could never have played Forrest Gump, Dalton can't play the part of Sir Peter Blake.
They counted their age in centuries, but it took them less than a decade to die. In kauri time that’s a sudden accident—a heart attack.
Kauri have suffered two great tragedies, and now a third is in progress. The first was logging, when more than 99 per cent of the forest giants were taken. The second was the arrival of agathidicida. The third is our failure to do anything about it.
Simon likes the finer foods but has never been vocal about any sort of love for The Grove in particular. Meanwhile, my love for KFC has been well documented. Have you ever told someone that a movie was really funny, then watched it with them and died a little every time they didn’t laugh? This was like that. Except Simon had already told me he didn’t like KFC so it was more like telling someone who hates Will Ferrell that they’d love Anchorman.
Inside an antique wooden cabinet in the lounge of Jackie’s new Manurewa home, a beautiful collection of New Zealand ceramics is on display. On the wall above it is an enormous portrait of her father, Crown Lynn founder Sir Tom Clark, to whom the collection belonged. He looms, with his white hair and sharp grey suit and tie. He’s leaning forward, staring down the lens of the camera, with his elbow resting on his bent knee. Three picture frames sit on top of the cabinet - a watercolour portrait of Jackie that was painted by a friend, a certificate of appreciation from the Albert Eden local board and a motivational quote: “Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”
Mum was the primary ‘breadwinner’, providing the main income and exercising the matriarchal and patriarchal authority in the home. It was up to Dad to cook dinners, vacuum and mop, clean and hang out the washing and more. It was up to Mum to make sure the family got by. Not an easy thing to do as a teenage mother. Even harder when your husband was a former patched gang member, a bloke with ‘Mongrel Mob’ tattooed across his forehead, and in and out of work during the family’s early years.
I put the details of our household of two into the online carbon calculator, and felt a virtuous glow as our waste, energy and local transport emissions came in well below the New Zealand average.
But then I had to confront the jumbo jet in the room. The computer program asked for the details of all flights I had taken in the past year: London; San Francisco; a couple of cheap hops from Stansted to Scandinavia; numerous domestic flights from Christchurch to Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, Nelson.
The crux of the inquiry arrived when two key witnesses, Reay and Harding, gave evidence. Reay was pensive, deliberate on the stand, allowing long pauses to fill the hall while he formulated his answers...He proffered five alternative collapse scenarios, which, under questioning from Mills, he was forced to concede were “just a series of possibilities that occurred to you”.
“Am I right that they all have in common the fact that none of them attribute any responsibility to you or your firm for the collapse of the building?” Mills asked.
“I have not considered that,” Reay said.
One of my colleagues arrived at work on Thursday, after several days of me adjusting her chair and exclaimed, loudly and surprisingly angrily, "Who the f*** keeps doing this?"
Another colleague asked, "Doing what?"
"Altering my chair when I come in!" she said.
I kept my head down.
“I was screaming and yelling. I don’t remember what they were saying, my mind was gone. I couldn’t sleep.”
Beneath a deep grief for the loss of her closest sibling lies guilt.
As someone who untangled herself from a violent relationship, with the help of a friend, Vicki can’t help but feel she could have done more for her sister.
But she has questions, too, over what government and social welfare agencies could and should have done.
Harriet was loving all this, strolling down to a corner of the beach for a lonely swim, and stretching out on her wide Indian cotton sheet to read a book, and washing our metal camping cups in the DOC cold tap, which appeared out of the ground like a periscope, attached to a small stake.
"Isn't this great?" she would say. She was loving it.
Was I loving it? That is more complicated.
The turning point? The disappointment of missing out on a home, beholden to a landlord once again. At some point, everything began to frustrate me. The interminable waiting in winter for buses that were always full. Climbing Mt Eden for a moment of peace, to find the summit covered with people. Watching as my favourite cafe became "cool", its signature dish on Instagram and on Sundays you could hardly get a seat.
Again, they left in the night. At the beach, Zarif lay crammed in the boat's hold with 14 others.
The smugglers nailed planks of wood over them.
It was a tiny fishing boat, Zarif says, and gestures: barely from here to here. Raised in land-locked Afghanistan, he had never sailed on the sea.
"The first night, the water and the wind was really bad," he says. "The noise was loud and we were very afraid."
"I was so incredibly lonely and I thought to myself, look around you Marti. There are other migrants here. They're feeling the same. Why don't you take photographs of this strange country. And that's how it all began."
You don't plan to capture history, but you do anyway.
The study's first premises were in the Sunday School rooms at Knox Church Hall on Dunedin's main shopping street. I remember going with my mother when I was very young, awed by the staircase. We had fun. We did puzzles and ate slices of apple. I think the apple was morning tea, not a test, but who knows?
Chidgey’s densely layered lyricism has reviewers reaching for such words as haunting and spellbinding. The Wish Child, with its mystery narrator’s elliptical observations – “Let me say I was not in the world long enough to understand it well …” – has a touch of magical realism. In the book’s author photo – dark blue lace, pre-Raphaelite hair – Chidgey looks fully capable of binding a spell.
The first of the three gorges is known to paddlers as Awesome. What begins as a meandering stream from Trout Pool Falls quickly becomes a lot more committing as the river tightens and the flow of around 27-40 cumecs (cubic metres per second) is forced through a passage just 2m wide in places.
It is not for the faint of heart, nor the faint of mind.
Louise was neither.