Despair and contempt: What it's like to seek an abortion

His manner is strange from the get-go. He doesn’t look me in the eye; he looks at his desk or off to the side of me as if I’m not really there.

And somehow, within two minutes of my arrival in this small, brown office in a provincial family medical centre, after briefly inquiring about my family medical history and without asking me why I want an abortion, he tells me I don’t meet the criteria. He won’t certify the abortion, because “this is not, and should not be, an abortion on demand society”.

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Greener pastures

THE SUN SETS over the Clutha Valley, staining the snow on the Pisa Range strawberry-pink. Outside a fruit-packing shed on the outskirts of Cromwell, melancholy music rises through the chill autumn air. A group of men strum guitars and ukuleles over the thud of the bush bass—a large wooden box with a pole and a string that is plucked. Their harmonised voices form sweet, ephemeral chords full of longing. These are songs of a tropical home, the kind sung by those in exile.

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Synthetic drugs and a hot car: The 'bad dream' life and death of baby Isaiah Neil

In one lengthy email to CYF in September 2013, a notification from the relative compared the unsafe home environment to one of New Zealand's worst cases of child abuse.
"The ineffective parenting or caregiving, the immaturity of the caregivers, drugs, alcohol and violence, turning a blind eye and creating a culture of silence . . . I am afraid these children will become another victim of our inability to act," she wrote.
"If they are not the next Nia Glassie, then they will be."

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Being young and Muslim in New Zealand

“I suffer as much as anyone does from ISIS because my family live in Iraq. They absolutely hate ISIS because they’ve made our lives a living hell.”

Hela hears her parents crying on the phone talking to relatives overseas, but she feels people don’t see Muslims as victims.

“Sometimes it feels like we’re Muslim before we’re human. We’re Muslim before we’re anything else.”

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A recipe for kindness: teaching baking behind prison bars

We don't ask why they're here. Instead, we help them through the first recipe. For many of these guys, basic skills like properly measuring a cup of flour have to be taught – but they're happy to learn.

And we talk about what we do in the community, and that their baking is going to women's refuges.

One baker, Kahu*, nervously asks if the women know who it's coming from – they do.

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Return of the lost birds

Janet Wilmshurst’s focus is ten centimetres from her face. Crouching in the dirt in a Swanndri and gumboots, her spiky grey hair almost brushing the cave roof, she peers into a sieve with her headtorch, hoping to find the partially digested remains of a laughing owl’s lunch.

She shakes the sieve over and over, sifting through the tiny particles with practised fingers. Then—“Ooh!” She picks something minuscule out of the rubble, and passes it to Jamie Wood.

“Wing bone,” he says. “Clearly been chewed by an owl.”

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Dear Paul... A letter to my dead brother on his birthday

"No." As death notices go, my sister's call on a winter's day two years ago was a bit on the succinct side but it conveyed the essential information. Well, I thought, that's how it goes. It hadn't exactly come as a big surprise. We'd been expecting it for a while. And so I got on with my day – work, feeding the cats, reading YOU WON'T BELIEVE lists online – in a glum mood, nothing more. The next day I fell to pieces.

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An epic tale of a Pacific family, and a tree

Down the bank. Past the cycle path and the boundary fence and on to the Mt Roskill extension of the Western Ring Route. According to Go Media Billboards, 60,000 eyes pass this spot every day. If they looked up, just before the $1.2m Ernie Pinches pedestrian bridge, they might see a palm tree. A thick trunk, a spiky head, that started its life in a tyre.

This is a story about a tree. A family tree. 

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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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