Keep our daughters safe

First published in Hamilton News 14 December 2018

She should have been safe, but she wasn’t.  That’s the message our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern relayed to Grace Millane’s family on Monday as her suspected murderer faced court.  The outpouring of sorrow, grief and guilt from Kiwis led to two candlelight vigils being held in Hamilton and throughout the country on Wednesday, and in true 2018 fashion a torrent of attention on social media focused on how this could happen here.

I found it hard not to think back to the case of Margery Hopegood who unfortunately found a similar fate here in Hamilton in 1992, days after arriving in the country.  It reminds me that she should have been safe, but wasn’t.  We should all be safe, but aren’t.  It’s a reminder to us all that Aotearoa has an secret uglier than our less than 100% pure image – which is our rate of physical and sexual violence towards women.  I feel compelled to discuss this today due to #notallmen trending online.  No, it’s not all men.  But, it’s too many men, and this is one instance where you don’t get the luxury of putting up a wall to deny blame.  We all have to take responsibility for this.

Whenever we read an article about violence towards women there is an element of victim blaming.  Why was she travelling solo?  (How dare she be independent).  We check what she was wearing in her last photo. (Skirts a little too high, Dear).  We give well intentioned warnings to our daughters to, keep a phone with them, not drink too much and stay with friends.  What we don’t do is spend enough time telling our boys and men that they have no right to touch a woman without express permission, that “no means no” and that it’s not okay to “keep trying lest she changes her mind”.  Violence is never justified.  I was pleased to see strangulation and assault towards family members highlighted in the Family violence Act.  We don’t spend enough time telling the #notallmen brigade that it would be more useful for them to be pulling up their friends or family members who act or talk out of line.  Speak up against the violence.  Intervene.

If you find yourself wanting to direct your anger and sorrow anywhere – it should be at changing our culture that is currently accepting violence towards women.  We all have a responsibility to keep women like Grace safe, our daughters safe, my daughter safe.

Conversations around the water cooler

“She’s in childcare from 7.30-5.30pm … but it’s good for her to be socialising with other babies and it’ll give her a head start for school”.

“What did you get up to over the long weekend?”  “Oh you know, just caught up with jobs around the house.  The cars needed washed, lawns mowed – that sort of thing”.  “True, Never enough hours in the day eh?” “Nah, especially with the commute”.

“40 hour week? Good one, I’m pushing 70 hours trying to meet those deadlines. I’m lucky I can work from home so the Mrs doesn’t have a go at me”.

“What are you doing with your kids over the holidays?”  “Oh god, I don’t even want to think about it, we can’t afford the holiday program this year and I don’t have any leave left”.

“The Board says we have to tighten our belts, so HR will be looking at workloads and restructuring – it’ll mean a loss in jobs…  Don’t panic, we’ll make sure we honour our contractual obligations in the event of redundancy”.

“Are you coming to the gym later?” “Nah, I can’t.  I have to work late to make up for taking time off to take Mum to hospital last week”.

“I had a chat to the Manager about the role they’re advertising” “Oh yeah, what did he say?” “He reckons I can get it but I’ll have to go full time if I want it”. “Yeah, the good jobs are always full time”.

While Labour day is just a day off to most of us, it commemorates normalisation of an 8 hour working day.  The idea is that it would give us a fair work life balance, 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation and 8 hours of sleep.  Nice in theory.  It seems we still have a long way to go for fair and progressive employment conditions which reflect society in 2018.  If you had to work on Monday the 22nd, Labour day check out your employer obligations

Kirikiriroa Kids

Last week of the school holidays – the weather hasn’t been kind so what is there to do this week?

  •  Professor Novum’s Adventures in Orbit – a rollicking adventure and a celebration of imagination and creativity, adapted from stories written by local kids.  This show runs from 17-21 July at The Meteor.  Price: $9 child, $13 adult.  Tickets from


  • Peter Pan – an all time favourite play about a free spirited and mischievous young boy who can fly and never grows up.  This Hamilton Playbox show runs until the 21st July at Riverlea Theatre – Tickets from $20


  • Chill in the Park – This huge event is back for another year of School Holiday Fun at the Western Community Centre! This year we have 18 Ton of Snow, Nawton’s Got Talent, cool prizes and much more.  Just $3 per child
  • Hamilton Gardens Adventure.  Download the free Discovery Trail sheet (in both English and Mandarin) from the Hamilton Gardens’ website to see where the bees, hens and woodland critters are hiding.


  • Outdoor Kids A website which showcases the fantastic nature walks and trails around the Waikato!  Free outdoor fun! There is the added bonus of info on each walk to tell you which ones are suitable for strollers too!  Check it out!


Don’t spread your bad luck over here.

Is misfortune contagious?  If I distance myself far enough from those who experience bad luck; whether it be the loss of a loved one, redundancy or illness will I be able to continue with my privileged life and tell myself they are to blame for their circumstances?  Because it is their fault, isn’t it?  They chose to live like this, they clearly couldn’t afford to have children and their unemployment is a result of bad choices.  If I try understand the circumstances the vulnerable are in, if I attempt to help them, and if I see them as people – just like me – what will happen?  Will the gap between my life of privilege and their existence narrow?  There are two types of people in the world – those who see the bundle of blankets in a door way, recoil in disgust, judge and then think nothing of it until they next have to walk past; and those who see the people.

Which one are you?  I’m going to admit, I think I’m more of the first.  I don’t understand, and what I don’t understand – I don’t like much.  I’m certainly not alone.  Take the “Your help, may harm” campaign, rolled out in Hamilton last year.  “Your help, may harm”.  Look at that.  You are great, privileged and generous – now distance yourself.  Now, you don’t even have to fumble around in your pocket pretending to look for $2 – you can walk past – with a cursory nod to the poster on the dairy wall and go buy that takeaway coffee.  I can distance myself further.  Great.

It’s not just dirty old men in sleeping bags I’m avoiding.  What if, I found myself single, unemployed (because who can afford childcare anyway) and on a <shock horror> benefit?  I’d be smoking at the kitchen table while watching Jeremy Kyle in no time.  I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want society to judge me.  There are two types of people in the world when it comes to the fallout surrounding Green party co-leader Meteria Turei’s admission last week.  The one who thought – “OMG benefit fraud – she has no morals – she has to go!” and the one who thought – “I’m glad she chose to use this example to make welfare an election issue”.  Shouldn’t it always be one? I admit I am judgmental at times – but I’m in the second camp here, I wholeheartedly support what she did.  How can we judge a parent for wanting to make sure their kid is fed?  How can we act so shocked and disgusted when let’s be honest, it’s impossible to navigate our social welfare systems and no-one on a benefit is raking it in.  It barely covers the cost of living.  But, I understand… fraud is ripping off the tax payer – people like you and me who pay taxes.  I would never do that.

Don’t have children if you can’t afford them they say?  Jesus, I’d love to know how many of us actually planned to have kids.  Were you in a long term relationship? – did you save and plan for that kid?  I’m glad your child wasn’t born with an illness or disability, I’m glad you didn’t lose your income during that time.  Lucky our circumstances stayed the same eh?

Redundancy hurts.  Well, not for me personally – but I’ve heard it does.  I’m skilled, educated and have mediocre social skills – I’ll never have a problem getting a job.  Will I?

I have a choice now.  I can continue just “being lucky” until my time is up – and then become “one of them”… that pile in a doorway – that mother who has to lie to WINZ to survive, or that person who has to apply for 100 jobs before being successful.  I can plan on being lucky – or I can share luck, build resilience and demand better social services for the vulnerable.  I can discard the judgment, use my luck and privilege; and help in any way I can.

There are community organisations picking up where our central government misses the mark.  We can help them.  We can volunteer our time, skills or money to help improve our communities.  We can give as little or much as we like.  Everyone has something to share.  Find yours.  Get involved.  Don’t turn a blind eye.  Luck isn’t finite. While politics seems irrelevant – there’s no denying central government has the ability to respond to community momentum too.  They represent us.  The government does what we want – or it goes… that’s how it works.  Encourage the young, and poor to vote – if you know any.  And if you are privileged, if you’ve had luck – consider sharing it.   Vote for the greater good this year.  Vote for a fair and equal society.  There is no science backing the idea that misfortune spreads.


We made a worm farm – part 1

*Warning – I am no expert on worm farming – We are just “giving this a go”, so there’ll be lots of trial and error involved*

Worm farms are wonderful.  1. because food waste doesn’t end up in landfill (it actually makes up 30% of all landfill which is hideously wasteful but that’s a story for another day) and 2. because the worms will reward you by providing free natures’ best fertiliser for you.  This makes you a bit like Captain Planet.

While I sell a few different worm farm set ups in the shop, we wanted to give the DIY option a go.  Here’s how we did it…

Step 1.  We drilled holes in a bucket.

Step 2.  Put the bucket in the garden.

Step 3.  Put bedding, *yes bedding* in the bucket.  I used torn up paper/cardboard but we sell coir blocks in the shop if you want to be fancy (about $3 a block).  We tipped in some coffee grounds and scraps and put our “makeshift” lid on top.  We’ll get round to getting a proper lid at some point – we’re just focussed on it being dark in there – and also no vermin getting in.

Step 4: Put your worm family in their new home.  We flicked in a few worms from around our garden, but to speed up the process we’ll be buying some more worms from the Western Community Centre… (it’s $15 for an icecream container).  We’ll keep you posted on when we bring them home.

Step 5.  We wait.  One day, the worms will be like a machine… eating our food scraps to keep them from landfill, and with the added bonus of fertilising our garden directly.  The beauty of this particular in-ground set up is that it will help the area directly around the worm farm (which is smack bang in the middle of our vege garden)- and we won’t have to do the work like you do with the layer systems.

We’ve had varying luck with growing veges in the past, but with a change in diet, we definitely need to be growing more and regular crops to feed ourselves for less.  Something that has never really worked in the garden is cauli’s and broccoli’s which I really like – so I’ll be focussed on them.  They usually get eaten by something… we don’t use slug bait, or anything nasty… I guess that means we’re organic. 🙂

*****Update.  It’s been a few days since we set the home up – we still have to get our worm family – but the ones in there seem fine – I’ve been keeping it damp – but haven’t fed them since.   I took out a few handfuls of “stuff” too – I felt there was too much in there for them *****

Did you know about 30% of the food produced in the world is sent to waste?  

Did you know that matter, biodegradable or not, which is buried in a black plastic bag does not have the conditions to break down.  It will never go anywhere.

Did you know worms not only create a by-product (pee/poo) which is rich nutrients that help garden plants grow and stay healthy?

Did you know worms create tunnels, which help get air and water to your plants.

March 4th in Hamilton

March 4th is the annual Children’s Day Carnival in our central city with the theme “Who’s your hero”.  The Carnival encompasses events run by different organisations in and around Garden Place from 10-2pm.


Chalkfest run by Free FM is again part of the day’s events and can be found in Civic Square. Book your chalk space by emailing  There are great prizes on offer.  While the theme for the day is “Who’s your hero” you can draw whatever you like with the chalk provided.


Running alongside this – shutting down Worley Place is a Pop-up Park and Skate Competition run by HTown Skate Project.  Take the rare opportunity of being allowed to skate in our central city!  You can register for the competition (and use the park) from 8.30-11am with the competition starting at 11am.


As well as these events Waikato Museum is open from 10-5pm, and getting on board with the Children’s Day “Who’s your hero?” carnival.   There will be face painting, superhero crafts and other fun activities.  Don’t forget that the Bob Marley exhibition is on in the Museum, so if you haven’t been in to check it out here’s your chance.

If you want to avoid kids – Frankton Thunder might suit you better.  Held over two days for petrol heads and classic car enthusiasts a large focus of it is to raise money for Child Cancer with their Ulysses Motorcycle Club Child Cancer Charity Run and Miss Frankton Thunder competition.


Finally the much anticipated Future City Festival!  27 bands in two venues (Creative Waikato or Nivara Lounge), over two days.  Tickets are $35 from

I’ll personally be at Creative Waikato on the Saturday at the door – so please come say Hi!




The moral of the story is that there is none

One of the biggest lessons to learn as a parent is to get used to your efforts being spat back in your face.  We use cookie cutters to make rabbit or butterfly shaped sandwiches only to have them returned without even a nibble taken.  We bring home small gifts, carefully chosen in shops – to have them declare, that “Dora’s for babies” or to get a flat refusal to acknowledge said item.  We book a whole term of swimming lessons, after a summer of begging – only for them to announce they changed their mind.  (Accompanied by refusal to participate in expensive lesson).  Kids are fickle.  They frustrate the heck of you, but you go back for more.

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This photo popped up on my “Facebook memories” the other day (from 2014).  It was a reminder of how unrewarding parenting can be sometimes.  I normally avoid the Base, like the plague -but decided, since I’m a good Mum… I’ll put my own feelings about mass-consumerism aside and take her to meet Elmo and Cookie Monster, who were visiting for the holidays.  The flashy, white shininess of the mall blinded me and I was dismayed to see a line (despite being early to avoid that situation).

However Ella’s excitement was contagious and I remember telling her how excited I was because I never got to meet them when I was her age (clearly a little bit of embellishment for her benefit).  She made friends in the line, with other well dressed, well behaved little people and as we got near the front of the line (30 minutes later!!!) something began to change.  She became quieter… less chatty and then told me she wanted to go home.  HALF a fricken hour after getting in line!!  We were so close.

So, I did what parents do best… I went into bargaining mode, telling her – she will like it when it’s her turn and that she’ll regret it if she didn’t meet them because they might not come again.  I tried telling her Elmo would be said, that Cookie Monster would be disappointed (yes… I used the word ‘disappointed’ to manipulate a three year old kid). Then, I got desperate and the bribes started… first a lolly, then McDonalds… but it wasn’t working.  Elmo came up to her to say Hi…. the tears were welling, ready to explode… this was it.  With a sigh of resignation I held her while she tried desperately to hide from him, grimaced for the camera and we were on our way.

Good parenting has an element of show.  You cant tell behind that “haha” grimace I was losing my shit.  Losing it, over driving to a mall I loathe, waiting in line and then having to pretend it didn’t bother me that it ended this way.  Good intentions are not always rewarded.  There isn’t always a happy ending.  I showed her this photo before writing this and she shrugged and said she remembered she didn’t like it.  I asked if she was glad she went anyway and she said No.  So much of what we painstakingly do is a waste of time.  Moral of the story.  There is none.