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.
"She’d just be living on the pipe with a needle in her arm and f*ck everything else. She was pretty much the reason I stopped smoking meth. It got f*cking real, real quick.”
At one point, Brad and his friends broke the woman out of a psychiatric unit. “At the time we thought it was brilliant, hilarious—the greatest thing. You’re young, dumb and flying. You feel six foot tall and bulletproof… She’s got a child now. She’s still on the pipe."
Despite its pervasiveness, and roots extending back to the dawn of language, gossip gets a bad rap. It's perceived as a violation; low-brow, salacious, void of integrity. "The definition I really like is, it's private talk - it's talk about people's private lives," says Jennifer Frost, an associate professor of history at the University of Auckland, and author of the book When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in United States History. "That's what makes it illegitimate - you're airing private talk in public. You're crossing a boundary."
By 9am it was raining and Kate Hayward thought about leaving. It would be the first milestone.
Even though she believed her husband was dead, she left a note on the Toyota's dashboard.
It ended with a love heart.
"I thought if he sees that, just that, he'll be reassured."
There would be no reassurance.
She was the first to buy a ticket. “Yeah, I know what you’re thinking,” says Jenny Flain. “Desperado!” And with that the 35-year-old with the blonde mane and glorious shot taffeta gown cracks up.
A former vet nurse, now office administrator-cum-part-time hairdresser, Flain lives on a five-hectare block in West Melton, 20 minutes out of Christchurch, with two cows, a dog, two horses and four sheep. Until 2004 the menagerie included a partner of 11 years, but he was a townie and never truly belonged to the land.
One of this country’s few public critics of police pursuits, road safety campaigner and Dog and Lemon Guide editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, reckons police chase because they enjoy the thrill of it.
“Part of it is because they hate seeing people get away, and that’s natural, but police work by and large is very boring and one of the few things that’s really exciting is chasing someone. And yet it’s one of the least effective ways of catching anybody.”
"I thought by the time it gets to me, I'll be too old to really care. But in the last three years it's just happened so fast," says Gavin Sykes, who lives in Granity.
"People used to use our backyard to have 60th birthdays and all sorts of things. This was beautiful, this backyard. We had plants, nice grass... It was a beautiful area and the sea's just f...ed it.
"Right now, it could be all over for us in a year."
Ana-Carolina didn't get better. She didn't get worse. She didn't go home.
She got older and now, here she is, wearing Kitty Cat shoes that have never been walked in, all silvery-sparkled with green and red lights that would flash were they to be stomped on the ground.
When she couldn't provide her partner's cellphone number ("Since when has it been a crime to have speed dial?") she says police told her that was suspicious and they would have to search the couple's bedroom.
"I was trying to make jokes, cos, yeah, it was hard... I had the four babies. They're normally really boisterous, but they sat still.
"They started asking, `Are we baddies, mum? Is my daddy a baddie?"'
Four months later it's Christmas. We are living in a tiny prefab beside my grandmother's house, one road back from Milford Beach. My father phones. "Come back, Diana," he says, "it's snowing in Vancouver."
I say: "How can we come back? Mum is working six days a week. We don't even have enough money to buy shoes."
My mother takes the phone away.
I am 14, angry, a bitch. He knows how much I love the snow.
Harrow, a pharmaceutical salesman by trade, is sunny and affable. He’s the sort of person who trusts in the kindness of strangers, has difficulty seeing anything as insurmountable, and describes a 12-hour tramp as an ideal Saturday. The mystery of the snow birds was exactly the type of challenge he relished.
It is nearly 25 years since her daughter disappeared. Saturday, October 17, 1992 is a day she relives “year in and year out, over and over”.
“I hate airing my dirty laundry. There are so many people out there who judge me for the things that I have done … but honesty is the best policy,” she says with a gravelly voice.
Incredibly, she is the first woman to hold a regular political cartooning spot in this country. She's still sometimes mistaken for the cartoonist's wife at functions.
She feels grateful for the break in her 50s, given a widespread workplace prejudice against middle-aged and older people.
Actually, the idea of being "past it" hangs over women in many spheres of their life, she says. People used to tell her to get moving with marriage and children or miss out.
"But in fact I married late, and I had a child quite late, and I came to cartooning very late, and they've all been really happy things for me."
Most of the victims were Māori or Pasifika and from the margins of society - the homeless, mentally ill and unemployed - and there seems to have been a muted response to the crisis from Government and the public.
"I wonder if we had 20 kids from wealthy families dying in a very short amount of time what the response would be," says Ross Bell, executive director of the Drug Foundation.
"When I became pregnant at 16, to a boy from church, and we didn't get married . . . I literally left home on that day. I think I was in my school uniform. As harrowing as that was, all those years, what it did give me was the opportunity to have freedom in my life. One, to choose my own religion - which is none, absolutely none - and also to choose my own vocation. I've always wanted to do what I'm doing today, but I would never have been allowed to if I'd stayed in the family fold, because I was expected to study and become a lawyer and that wasn't negotiable."
The wizard has a soft and low voice. He's round-faced, boyish somehow. He and his journalist wife Marion McLeod live in a converted warehouse in central Wellington. (The children, Vanessa and Toby, are long grown up, with their own wordy careers in publishing and journalism.) The apartment is a high, airy space wallpapered with paintings, most of them by Ralph Hotere, with whom Manhire has collaborated since the late 1960s. (''We've always had this arrangement that he can help himself to my words at any time, and I can help myself to his images at any time.'')
"To Doug and Mary Catherall. A son. 1 July 1970. Stillborn," it read.
"They've got my birthday wrong," I whimpered to my mother. "My birthday is July 3, not July 1. And I'm a girl, not a boy."
"There's something I need to tell you," she whispered. And it was then that she told me about my brother, who was born dead two days before my first birthday. And there was more, Mum told me quietly, stroking my fine pigtails with her soft hands. Ten months later, she gave birth to my sister, who was also born dead.