Confessions of an All Blacks wedding reporter

In the pantheon of jobs I’ve endured in the pursuit of less unhappiness, reporting on All Blacks weddings for a newspaper was vastly more soul-destroying than screwing in the same screw 1000 times a day on a computer assembly line. It left me feeling considerably less clean than my days as a cable layer – a job that involved actually being covered in dog manure most days.

I hated it with every fibre of my being.

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My last ever drink - why I gave up even though booze never gave up on me

By the end of my decade and a half long bender, the shakes were bad enough I couldn't get the first couple of drinks from glass to mouth without spilling it everywhere. The trick was to make a quick diversion home en route from work to pub, improvise a sling from a bath-towel or t-shirt to hold one arm steadily in place, and wrestle to my lips a sufficient quantity to quell the shakes: precisely two cans of beer.

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Big Red

He began wearing the jacket everywhere. He wore it when he walked across the overhead bridge to the polytechnic where he was doing his songwriting degree. It billowed out behind him like an extra body. He wore it into the CD store where the girl he liked worked. When he came home to Te Kūiti on some weekends, I was briefly enveloped in the jacket, and again before he left. ‘Take it easy, Eyelash,’ he said.

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A letter to my father

Awful as it sounds, I’d once wondered how distressed I’d be when Dad died, but I knew in that instant how much I loved my father. I couldn’t take it in. “He was too young,” I sobbed, over and over. You’d only just buried your mother, Dad. You had a book to write, cities to explore, golf to play, plants to water, a wife to love, children to talk with, grandchildren to meet.

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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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