Ockham literary winner Catherine Chidgey opens up

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.

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Our problem with P

"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."

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Word is out: The death of gossip in New Zealand

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."

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A guilty secret: Inside the killing of Hamilton man Frederick "Rick" Hayward, who vanished on the way to the Raglan family bach

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.

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Looking for Love

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.

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Is it time to ban police pursuits?

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.”

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Eaten alive

"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."

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Picking up the pieces in Ruatoki

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?"'

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My search for my lost father - Kiwi journalist Diana Wichtel's story

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. 

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Murky Water

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.

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Sharon Murdoch, the late cartoonist

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."

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Killer chemicals

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.

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Teuila Blakely on sex, Oscar Kightley and that infamous video

"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."

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Bill Manhire: Wizard of odes

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.'')

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Stillbirths and the conspiracy of silence

"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.

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