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.”

Read More

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."

Read More

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?"'

Read More

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. 

Read More

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.

Read More

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."

Read More

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.

Read More

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."

Read More

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.'')

Read More

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.

Read More

The Tamihere case: In the Shadow of Murder

Tamihere says the testimony of the prison informants – including one who gave graphic evidence of how Tamihere allegedly told him he’d raped both the Swedes – sickened all who heard it. He told North & South he knew from that moment he would be found guilty. “With secret witnesses, there’s no defence, and that’s what screwed us. Once the jury heard that, it was over. It didn’t matter a damn what you said.”

Read More

Out of the ashes I rise

I had no way of keeping time, and it seemed to pass incredibly slowly. The lights were always on, all night; there was no way to turn them off. I tried covering my face with the blanket to block them out. A person checking on me through the window called out that if I didn’t uncover my face, the blanket would be taken off me. I wouldn’t have slept even if I was in a more comfortable place and the lights were off. Going through withdrawal from sleeping pills has always left me unable to sleep for a few days. There are not many things more frustrating than being so tired but unable to fall asleep. I had broadly calmed down after an hour or two. I did not feel invincible anymore. The way I was treated made me feel small, powerless, and like an animal.

Read More

My Boy!

I can hear the condescension in his voice — the “when-you-get-some-experience-in-the-real-world-you’ll-understand” tone — and, shit, it pisses me off. Sometimes I don’t think my father understands me at all. Worse, I don’t think he bothers to try.
I find myself craving his approval and simultaneously resenting him for this. His One Network News world-view infuriates me as much as my simplistic eco-socialism annoys him. So what he was about to say to me was kinda out of nowhere. As we slosh down the stream back to the car, he says, “I respect your political principles, my boy. You make me think.
“I’m proud of you.”

Read More

Kiwi seed hunters travel the world so scientists can breed 'super-grass'

In Palmerston North, the seeds go into a dry room, which looks like a super­market’s walk-in beer chiller. There they can stay fresh for at least 20 years – and up to a century – before they need replanting. “We have some cultivars from 1940 that are still viable,” says Ghamkar.
The fridge that stores the seeds is locked, but it is not a fortress. On starting his job as director last year, Ghamkar was horrified to learn that New Zealand did not have a back-up collection in Svalbard, the doomsday vault on an island off Norway, which is built to withstand even nuclear winter. “Even North Korea has a deposit there,” he says.

Read More

Synthetic cannabis: The killer high

Is she on synthetics?” I ask the man. He nods.
After a minute her eyes open, and she focuses on my face. She says she thinks I’m beautiful. Her teeth are covered in lipstick, she’s young - early 20s. I try to get out from under her, but my movement frightens her. She passes out, and I wriggle into a squat. Queen St is busy, but no one is helping us.
Some time passes and she opens her eyes. The man asks if she can get up, she takes his hand and stumbles onto her knees. She grabs for her bag, and turns her head to look at me.
“You’re a crazy fucking bitch,” she mumbles, as she swings it into my face.

Read More

John Clarke reflects on life as Fred Dagg

Clarke never uses dress-ups or attempts an impression. He is always John Clarke, only speaking in a language and tone that you instantly recognise as belonging to the bullshit artist, the bully or the cheat.
It’s subtle and disarming and absolutely consistent with everything Clarke has come to believe about satire and performance: that it should engage the audience in a collaborative act of the imagination; that you write it funny and then progressively take all the jokes out, “because, like life, you should have to decide if you find it funny or not”.

Read More

The Kiwi Bushman

At the mussel beds, empty beach stretches in both directions, a gentle curve snaking back and forward along the coastline. The high-tide line marks the entrance to a driftwood forest—bleached trees the only witnesses to the endless roar of the Tasman Sea. Against the melancholy isolation, the family looks like a band of survivors, the last people on Earth, a warm nucleus of home.

Read More

The right-to-die debate as viewed from a rest home

In 2009 I was working as a laundress in the rest home that housed the room my grandad was slowly dying in. This was my first ever proper job. I was 30. I took great self-punishing heart in the term laundress. I listened to the Nutters Club while I waited for the tea towels to dry and wondered if Mike King would be as fun now he was off the waste. After I got home I read a novel a night so I could leave my body and keep up with Kim Hill.

Read More