My 2018 in a nutshell

Well, well, well, lookie here, it’s the 1st of January 2019 and as my Gregorian calendar indicates, it’s the start of a new year. I don’t know what it is about us as humans that like to measure time in such linear fashion and rinse and repeat. I mean what even is time? Why don’t we mark every week, neigh every day as a new year, a new opportunity? Okay, there’s probably scientific reasoning behind the modern calendars, but let me have this.

It feels like so long ago now but we went to the first Ōtaki Summer Camp and learned so much more about all the political issues and youth activism going on in Aotearoa. In that website pic you can see us and my bright blue top listening attentively to Deborah Manning, human rights lawyer. Sadly we won’t be going this year due to baby, and well, age. But we would go back again in a heartbeat.

I started Te Ataarangi classes to learn te reo Māori. I fell off towards the end of the year but I’m determined to get back into it. When you miss one class it’s oh so easy to tell yourself to miss another and before you know it you’re so far behind you don’t want to be a burden on your group. But really, the folks at Te Ataarangi Upper Hutt are lovely and very knowledgeable. They won awards don’t you know?

Michelle and I were accepted into our Tikanga Māori correspondence course through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa which we’re still underway in completing. We’d recommend anyone give it a go and learn about the values and traditions of Aotearoa’s indigenous culture and some new te reo Māori along the way. Just keep in mind there’s a long waiting list!

My grandfather of 97 years passed away marking the last of my grandparents. He now rests peacefully with my grandmother. He was lively right up until the end and a great example of determination against great odds. I will share something about his impact on me in a later post.

Michelle and I started on our parenthood journey. It’s not long to go now (like literally January, it’s here). We attended antenatal classes with trepidation but it turned out to be a pretty relaxed affair, besides my frantic scribbling of notes. If you need to know the 120 signs of pre-eclampsia I can tell you, just let me find my notebook.

Michelle and I began another journey into zero waste. What with climate change and our child is coming into the world, we want to leave no trace as the old Scout motto goes. I started blogging about it and fell off. There are so many great resources out there you don’t really need me to say the same stuff.  Go to one of the talks from The Rubbish Trip and I dare you not to feel inspired. It’s only baby steps, our waste had decreased drastically making use of our compost, but our recycling is still way up there and we hope to decrease that further.

We saw P!nk in concert and among Dunedin’s sights, we had a little roadie further south, seeing the house in Invercargill where my mum grew up, and looking out to sea from Bluff’s iconic signpost.

I turned 30.

I said goodbye to Binge With Me. I’m so grateful for the contributors to this little site, but we just didn’t have the time or energy to keep it going. That and writing fiction is unsustainable, I still want to write three pages a day (ideally). Plus, who can keep up with TV these days? I’ve also taken a break from Toastmasters while we bring our new one into the world.

For most of the year, I’ve been recording what I’ve been grateful for each day and because each passing day things do begin to blur together and it’s only when you stop and take a moment you realise all the individual unique things that you’ve experienced.

For next year I will stop recording it for all to see and practise more internal gratitude (we’ll just have to see how that goes). And I’ll pick up 1 Second Everyday again, especially with it being baby’s first year to help with the memory jogging.

I want to make a concentrated effort at blogging. I mean it this time! Well, okay I won’t be strict about it, but when there are issues that are important to me I want to take a stance on what I believe in and I need more than 140 characters. And maybe, just the occasional dad blog…

Writer’s Blockade

A post? On this website? Am I dreaming? Well, dear reader, you are not. Or are you? Okay, you most definitely are not.

So what is this all about?

I’ve been struggling with writer’s block (since forever), but it’s most pronounced at present.  It’s not that I don’t know what to write about, but the pressure from thinking whatever I write will be shit. A friend of mine, let’s call him Nethan, suggested I come back to this blog and write about everything and nothing. So that’s what I’m going to do.

What have I been up to?

What are my plans for the future?

Well, dear reader, you’re about to find all that out and more.

It’s February 2018, and I’ll spare you the “this year’s going by so fast” because once you leave high school life practically flashes before your eyes.

A few weekends ago Michelle and I attended Ōtaki Summer Camp, organised by a group of people including New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager (co-author of Hit and Run). It was designed for young people (primarily activists under 30) to come and congregate and share ideas. The camp was inspired by kiwi camps of its ilk in the past especially in the 70’s and had guest speakers coming to speak on themes including activism, conservation, prisons, and Māori.

Deborah Manning spoke on her legal defence of Ahmed Zaoui, a refugee detained for suspected terrorism which had no grounds. The case took over five years. Again and again, Deobrah’s goto was not to give up. Now I’m a quitter. Always have been. When things got too hard I packed it in, had a tantrum. Nowadays I start projects and don’t finish them. I’m looking at you Fair Trade Upper Hutt. So I’m trying to do better, to be better. My mantra this year is “Don’t quit 2018”.

Ōtaki Summer Camp

I’ve been looking more into te reo Māori recently but this camp really cemented my need. There were a number of Māori speakers and guests in attendance who shared their stories. If I’m to care about New Zealand and fight for important issues I need to know the language and its colonisation. It wasn’t as peaceful as people make it out to be (or gloss over) and the effects of which are felt, even today.

So we applied for the free home course at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (still on the waiting list) and got out some library books:

The Great War For New Zealand   Māori At Home   Māori Made Easy

I started my new permanent job in December. I can’t say much about it but belonging to PSA it’s probably pretty obvious I’m in the Public Service. It’s mostly administration, some customer service. I signed up to complete an NZQA qualification through work this year because, why not? There’ll also be a large component on the Treaty of Waitangi.

I did have hopes for learning Spanish once upon a time, but it does make more sense to learn te reo Māori, living in New Zealand and all that. Plus, this is a language we need to keep alive. Spanish is doing alright. Heck, there’s nothing stopping me learning multiple languages.

Money’s been a bit tight lately. We really shouldn’t have blown through our savings (on an expensive TV no less). Yes, throw smashed avocados at us. Us no good millennials only have ourselves to blame. Nevermind how the boomers have screwed us. Wow getting all political already (I must’ve drunk more whisky than I thought!).

But as for entertainment I’m looking forward to The Killers hitting Wellington in April and Pink hitting Dunedin in September (it will be our first time down there!). Of course, there’s the New Zealand Film Festival and I’m going to make a bigger effort to do more artsy fartsy things like the Fringe Festival and going to Bats for homegrown theatre. I’ll have to leave homegrown music (sorry folks), there’s just too many art forms to follow!

Beautiful Trauma

As for projects, I’ve still got a bunch unfinished including a sci-fi novel I’m co-writing with Nethan, and designing a board game with friends. Hopefully, I can find the determination to continue with these projects. It’s better to try your best and finish something than to give up halfway and never realise what could have been. Wow, went a bit dark there, sorry.

I learned a bunch more WordPress stuff last year and launched a web store for non-profit NZ bookshop Writers Plot Readers Read. There’s certainly a lot that comes with e-commerce and we’re learning as we go.

Writers Plot Readers Read

I started a televison blog in February last year called Binge With Me, and write with a fellow contributor (who I haven’t met!). I’ve got a huge list of things to write but perhaps I’ve made it overwhelming for myself, hence the procrastination. Normal service should resume shortly (I hope). It would be a mighty shame to cancel the project after a year, though that was my initial goal. To let things flourish, it takes time and repetition. Success doesn’t happen overnight!

Less than ten years ago I called myself a Christian and youth group was a big part of my life, and so was a man named Geoff who recently passed away. I feel terrible distancing myself from them in the last ten years after I fell away from Christianity. The last time I saw Geoff was at a quasi-reunion a year or so ago. He had the memory of an elephant and remembered our time together recounting an experience that I’d forgotten.

Geoff’s memorial service was touching and it was heartwarming to see that everyone had the same opinion of him as I had. A man who gave his home to take in teenagers, and was a father to more than just his own children. And he actually listened to you, intently, sharing deep important shit, not just surface level (the complete opposite of what a New Zealand man “should be”).

He was no fuddy-duddy Christian, he was funny and rebellious in nature, preferring his own ways of worship than the Church and was never found too far from a motorbike. I remember being re-baptised by Geoff and his eldest son in a subzero Kaitoke river. Rest in peace Geoff. I hope the afterlife answers all your prayers.

Chlöe Swarbrick brought Julie Anne Genter’s member’s bill Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to the table last week. To show my support I turned up in person to the public gallery above the House of Representatives (for the first half at least, of course, the minister’s dinner break came up in the middle of it). And there was a decent turn-out, mostly young people, which one could say shows our progressive stance on the world. A cynic might say it’s because young people just want to get stoned. There may have been a couple of those, judging solely from appearance (I saw a duo in jandals and floral shirts!).

But this bill is about helping those suffering. Unlike the bill presented by the government, Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill (which went through to the next stage), this one only stops medicinal cannabis users being labelled as criminals. And only for those with less than a year to live. Nevermind people suffering from lifelong illnesses such as chronic pain.

Voting for Chlöe’s bill through to the Health Select Committee would actually give the people affected a chance to speak, as well as medical professionals. Unfortunately, they won’t get a chance as the bill did not pass thanks to a National block (despite it being a conscience vote) and NZ First all voting against. Where is our compassion? Are we really going to let the political game get in the way of human suffering? I can’t put into words quite like Chlöe. Go watch the speech.


Over a thousand words, I’ll take that. Writer’s blockade be gone!