‘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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Scott Dixon's journey from his Nissan Sentra to motorsport legend

While Dixon now holds a near-historic driver's resume, has a wife, two kids and a true athlete's build, you don't have to squint that hard to see that kid with a pillow strapped to his backside driving a Nissan Sentra in Pukekohe all those years ago. The grin is still as boyish as it was back when he was driving karts and saloon cars.
On the raceway, you know where those 20-odd years have gone though. Ice pumps through Dixon's veins. His mind becomes a complete, constantly moving rational calculus of fuel spent and optimal speeds. On track, the Kiwi picks up exactly what he needs – and disregards the rest.

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The gap between the rich and poor at university

"People in New Zealand believe - and want to believe - it's an open society. It's something New Zealanders hold close to them," says Alan France, a sociology professor at Auckland University and an expert on class and youth.

"It's a view and has always been a view that New Zealand rejected the traditional class systems of the UK and tried to set up alternative systems. But all they did was create a new system based on land and property rather than work."

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One night in Auckland

Outside the casino, the moneyed and the desperate smoked in the light of the Sky Tower; across the street the secondary industry of the pawnshop had shuttered for the evening. A young Asian man spat heavily into an outdoor ashtray, the Pakeha woman next to him, with a lifetime smoker’s deep wrinkles, looked up from her phone in disgust. An American man in an Aertex shirt described his new cross-trainers to a female companion: “You’re a woman, you wouldn’t understand.”

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How the discussion around suicide ignores crucial voices

Sophie keeps her condition a secret because to other people she appears “normal” and the stigma, despite years of campaigns urging New Zealanders to be more open-minded, is too strong.
“People like me who have long-term mental health concerns don’t want to be a drain on society. I have a great job, good relationships, and am generally doing well — but I know how precarious my situation is. I’m one brain chemical misfire from losing everything I’ve worked for.
“We get shunted aside because we can’t be trotted out as problems that are easily fixed.”

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Sam Hunt: The last outlaw poet

Can you picture Hunt in the downstairs room, declaiming Yeats and Auden to no one? "Pathetic, in a way," he admits. "I remind myself of a character out of Dylan Thomas." 

From the hundreds – no, thousands – of poems and quotes stored in his head he produces Thomas' Quite Early One Morning. There are sad lines about the old contralto Clara Tawe Jenkins, who sits at the window and sings to the sea, for the sea does not notice that her voice has gone.

"F...ing beautiful. I've loved those lines since I was probably 8 or 9 years old.”

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Breastfeeding: Why is it such a battle ground?

Kate’s still angry. “As someone with complex health issues, to have ‘breast is best’ rammed down your throat past the point of reason is crazy, as is not discussing formula. This cookie-cutter stance doesn’t take people with health issues into account.”
And there’s a trickle-down effect. Kate, who visits an Auckland hospital six-weekly for her pain condition, once pulled out a bottle in the Westfield St Lukes parents’ room. “One of two mums there said, pointedly, ‘These chairs should only be for breastfeeding mothers.’ I left, then started bawling.”

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