What lies beneath? The New Zealander on the trail of monsters

Seen through the lens of mathematical validity, it's not at all incredible that a professor of genetics from New Zealand's fourth largest university became the world's best-known monster hunter following an unlikely Twitter exchange that would have disappeared without incident were it not for the stumbling upon it of a Scottish journalist a year later.
But mathematical validity doesn't make for a great story.

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Turning 30 meant a new city and home of my own

Used too long, the fan smells like it's going to catch fire, but you can't leave the door open when showering because the steam sets off the smoke alarm.
Instead, I leave the two windows open day and night. The view is of a hillside, steeped in foliage and the occasional kererū. At night when it's dark and still but for the sound of the occasional bird titter or rain, I run a bath, turn off the lights, sink back into the hot water and think, I'm so happy to be here.

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Elliot has a brain tumour

“This isn’t the life I thought I’d have,” Caroline says quietly as we drive away from the hospital. “I loved working. I have this fantasy that I’ll have a job again one day, a career, and I’ll come home and kick my heels off, Jarrod will have a beer for me and he’ll be a stay-at-home dad, which has always been his dream. Dinner will have been slow cooking for hours. Our kids will be happy,” she says, pushing away tears.

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Grumpy resting face: inside the mind of CK Stead

Last month, at the Going West festival in Titirangi, father and daughter shared the stage for an hour of literary chat. The chair, Steve Braunias, read out Grimshaw's line about a chaotic childhood and asked them both what that was all about. Grimshaw said: "Well – it's complicated," and Stead said: "She was the chaos," and the audience shuffled deliciously in their seats.

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‘Love? I never had it. Never had it, mate’: Jade of Great Barrier Island

The sun’s up now. Jade raises her left hand, catches a shard of light in her palm. “I can’t tell you exactly when this place became my home. Maybe it was that first day and the moment I looked down and saw this.

“I can’t stay too long away from here. I couldn’t live in town. I don’t want to live in that crap.

“But this island. It’s in your soul, I don’t know if you feel it but you know once you’re away from it. It’s just a special place for special people.”

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Old soldiers and why we remember them

It's hard to know where my interest in war begins. My family has no military history links, that I know of. We never rose in the dark on Anzac Day. Apolitical, atheistic (perhaps as a result?), there were no dusty shoeboxes of exotic letters or knee-bouncing accounts of ancestral heroics. Boys would bring grandfathers' medals to school for "news", and afterwards I'd jealously skulk home and demand, "Did my granddads fight in the war?"

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Fixing Lucy

As a lightweight in a sport of giants, it was Strack’s technical proficiency that saw her excel. She was an enthusiastic student of the sport, and prided herself in her mastery of rowing’s biomechanics.

“I knew how to get a boat moving really fast,” she says.

That was until she forgot. Or at least, her body forgot.

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Are confidentiality agreements letting sexual harassers off the hook?

The Listener wanted to ask Kelli Balani about her case, her reaction to it and advice for other women in her position, but she is bound by a confidentiality agreement. Indeed, lawyers and investigators we interviewed for this story said confidentiality provisions surround almost every complaint of sexual harassment. Ostensibly, this is to protect the privacy of the victim, but recent high-profile cases have made it increasingly clear that such agreements are also allowing the perpetrators to emerge with their reputations intact and silencing those who might wish to warn others of their behaviour.

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'Let it rest': The Pike River and CTV families who want to move on

In one Press letter to the editor from 2011, M & S Jones of Halswell lament the influence of the "quake families" after the February 2011 earthquake: "[We] can't continue to sit silently in case the public come to feel that their comments and feelings represent all those who have suffered bereavement." In blue pen in the margin: "I know how you feel!!"

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Steve Braunias: Ancient man discovers the wheel

Uselessness loves company and I took consolation that I knew other people who couldn't drive. There was my niece Katrina, but she decided to learn when she was 35. There was my colleague Philip, but he decided to learn at about the same age. Well, there was always Shayne, widely regarded as the last great rock star in New Zealand, daemonic onstage, seething and intense offstage – who I viewed as a friend just as lame as I was, a plodder, carless, going nowhere. Good old Shayne!

But then he moved from Auckland to Brighton in Dunedin, where there was one bus an hour, and he decided to learn to drive. "Good one," I said, feebly.

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The sweetest goodbye: 'Her last words were always I love you'

My sponges soon became a treat between the two of us. I would make the cake, load it up with cream, put it on a pretty plate and present it to her in that little room. She would sit up in bed and eat it like a judge on the panel of a baking show. On those visits, she became master of the kitchen again. She would tell me if the oven needed to be hotter, if I didn't line the edges of the tin properly, if there was too much flour or too little, "I'll show you one day I hope, love. Maybe soon," she said.

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Why being made redundant in NZ is so tough

On 15 May 2009, Jack Taylor was an employee in the cutting room at Christchurch clothing manufacturer Lane Walker Rudkin. It was a Friday, when staff worked a half day. Not long before their shift ended, the 350 staff were divided into two groups and, like lambs to the slaughter, directed to different rooms. The receivers had been called in and the company would be folding, they were told. Workers in one room were given notice their jobs would end later that year. Those in the other room, including Taylor, were told their jobs would not exist past 12:30pm that day. "We were told to go to our lockers, take our personal gear, and leave the premises," Taylor says.

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Life hackers

Gene editing has the potential to improve lab research, create new crop varieties, eradicate pests, wipe out pathogens, manage threatened species, and bring extinct ones back from the dead.
That’s the idea, anyway. The reality is we haven’t done much of this yet—and we’re still in the middle of asking ourselves if we should. New Zealand could be at the forefront of gene editing, or take a principled stance against it.

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