December Energy Forecast From Gaia Chinniah

Gaia Chinniah is an internationally known healer, medium and spiritual coach. She founded Soul 33 a healing company and the modality of Soul Progression Therapy. Using the energetic cycles and seasons to set your goals, heal and manifest what you want in life is such a powerful tool to help us to navigate life daily without resistance. To use this December Energy Forecast, review once in its entirety and then at the beginning and end of each week remind yourself what the energy of the week is asking of you.

Week One: 1 – 10 December

The final month of the calendar year is here, and things are wrapping up. There is a lot of power this week to discover yourself through some independence and making a commitment to your greatness. Do you understand the power you have within your circumstance?

You will receive intuitive guidance through your meditation practice and quiet time to be sure, wait to ensure you are not being negative and then use your voice to articulate what you need. This is a week of following your dreams, taking a stand but not from a negative stance and revealing your truth through your expression. Take action! You be surprised as to how influential you are.

Card of the week: Signs

The intuitive messages you will receive this week are through signs and synchronicities. Receive signs without looking and spend time deciphering what they are telling you before speaking and acting. This card comes up to remind you to ask for a sign!

Week Two: 11 – 17 December

Mind your thoughts this week, be realistic and don’t over think when it comes to exchanges. Exchanges in terms of what you are giving in return for something. Are you doing things only to get something in return? There may be some sort of conflict or inner conflict but look at how you can come together with another and converge rather than working to fulfill independent needs. Intend and surrender, be in the flow. Be balanced by being patient but also remember memories are being created and you want them to be impressions that are lasting for how you made someone feel. Be in the flow of life this week.

Card of the week: Trust

Trust that relationships are coming together for a common purpose. Trust in yourself that you are enough. This card comes up to remind you that you can trust what is happening for you.

New Moon: 12 December

We have a new moon and it’s time to intend bigger things for yourself. Remove mental limitations from your intentions and create the roots for feeling safe before the New Year.

Week Three: 18 – 24 December

We have the solstice this week which is a time of purification and a new beginning! We want to think about applying purification and simplicity in our life, especially in areas where you feel you have lacked progress. What value does this area or person hold in your life?  Why do you want to keep it? Find your courage and determination to see the situation with new eyes; paint a new reality! There are some closures this week, things that will make you feel like you want to be done with certain things and this is so you can unlearn and let go. Abundance is in the air once we can move past ourselves, and you will see support showing up around you to remind you that you are not alone.

Card of the week: Spiritual Growth

Spiritual growth comes from awareness of what is ending and beginning in your life. You are spiritually growing this week by allowing closures and recreating a new perspective. This card comes up to remind you that you are growing!

Week Four: 25 – 31 December

It is Christmas this week and there is magic in the air. While it can be a triggering and confronting time of year we are being asked to be as emotionally balanced as possible, be gracious and social by living in the present moment. There is a turning point and truths being revealed about how you feel about certain things, take some time out if you can and retreat and gain power from the knowledge that you receive. Tune into the collective and embrace the festive season of giving, receiving and feeling the sacred bonds you have with yourself and those around you.

Card of the week: Masters

It is not surprising the Masters card comes up for us this week to remind us about why we celebrate Christmas. The Masters card appears when there is deep guidance back to what is most important. This is a reminder that you are divinely connected and are safe and supported in life.

Full Moon: December 27

The emotions that come up this week may be around home, family and feeling de-stabilised by triggers. With this full moon phase you have the opportunity to get some relief and a strong foundation for January 2024.

This is a magical month with a lot of support showing up for us and the ability to be courageous in our direction. Many truths will be unveiled for us to have clarity and to allow things to end for a new beginning which will be a vital part of how we begin a new year. You will find your power and your voice this month but be sure to take a moment before speaking and acting. You want to be clear in your mind first.

Related Article: WOMAN Relaunches As A Quarterly Magazine!

Strawberries & Cream Tiramisu Recipe

Delicious tiramisu recipe courtesy of Luna Bakehouse and Brown Brothers.


  • 4 fresh strawberries (sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons of strawberry jam (50gms)
  • Fresh cream (120mls)
  • Mascarpone (100 gms)
  • 6-8 ladyfingers
  • Brown Brothers Moscato Strawberries & Cream (100ml)



  • Whisk the fresh cream and jam until slightly thickened
  • Add Marscapone and whisk until stiff peaks form
  • In a deep bowl, dip one side of the ladyfingers into the Brown Brothers Moscato Strawberries & Cream
  • Layer the dipped ladyfingers in a serving dish
  • Spoon the cream mixture over the ladyfingers
  • Repeat the layers until at the desired height
  • Add fresh sliced strawberries on top 
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours
  • Slice and serve chilled
  • Enjoy your Tiramisu!

Related Article: Three Delicious Cocktail Recipes from Good Cocktail Co.

Get The Look: Natural Summer Glow

When it comes to make-up, many of us tend to pare down our routine in the summer. Enjoy this natural, easy and pretty make-up look.

Start with a cleanser and hydrating spray so you have a clean and fresh canvas to work on. Apply serum, moisturiser and a sunscreen for that poolside lounging. For evening cocktails, add a highlighting liquid to your décolletage, arms and legs.

Using a couple of drops of serum primer on the back of your hand, work in a little Aleph concealer/foundation so it becomes dewy and sheer, perfect for this summer look. Set through the T-zone and under eyes with the Aleph translucent powder, allowing the high points to appear dewy and fresh.

Dab a little Aleph cheek/lip tint in Ascend onto your cheeks and pat into your skin with your fingertips to create a “glow from within”. Add a touch of Aleph Radiance Moon to the same area to create a dewy sheen.

Apply Aleph eye pigment over the lid with a flat brush and blend out with your fingertip and under the outer corner of the eye. Then apply Aleph Radiance Sun through the centre of the lid. Curl lashes and add mascara using a tubular waterproof mascara for those hot summer days.

Keep brows minimal by using a styling wax to create a soft no-fuss brushed-up feel and to help keep in place all day.

Use your favourite shade to add just a hint of colour so as not to look overdone. Apply with a fingertip. I used two shades from Aleph called Ascend (peachy coral) and Grounded (soft nude).

Finish with a setting spray to keep your skin feeling hydrated. I used Hourglass Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray which is lightweight, hydrating and sets make-up for 24 hours.

What You Will Need

Mecca Cosmetica
To Save Face SPF50+ Brightening Sun Serum

To Save Face SPF50+ Brightening Sun Serum.
Meca Cosmetica $53

Les Beiges Foundation

Les Beiges Foundation

Aleph Beauty
Highlighting Fluid Foundation/ Concealer

Highlighting Fluid Foundation/ Concealer

Aleph Beauty
Cheek/Lip Tint in Ascend

Cheek/Lip Tint in Ascend

Aleph Beauty
Cheek/Lip Tint in Grounded

Cheek/Lip Tint in Grounded

Aleph Beauty
Radiance Highlighter in Moon

Radiance Highlighter in Moon

Aleph Beauty
Eye Pigment in Meteorite

Eye Pigment in Meteorite

Mco Waterproof Full Lash Mascara

Mco Waterproof Full Lash Mascara

Anastasia Beverly Hills
Brow Freeze

Brow Freeze

Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray

Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray

Our Top 5 Picks For A Summer Long Lunch With The Ladies

I have a tendency to immensely enjoy a ladies’ long lunch over which we share a couple of aperol spritzes and chatter non stop about our lives. 

As we head into summer and we have a bit more time to catch up with the people we love, here are my top picks based on the fact that they serve stellar food items, have an incredible overall ambiance and some which have withheld the test of time by being cornerstone dining establishments in Auckland.

Andiamo Eatery

Located on Jervois Road in Herne Bay, as announced on their website, Andiamo quite literally is the “perfect neighbourhood spot for lunch or a leisurely dinner”. 

Currently the outdoor seating has a beautiful floral arrangement hanging from the ceiling which makes the ambiance just that much more vibrant and inviting. The restaurant is spacious, modern and sleek and it really does just feel like your local.

With a diverse Italian inspired menu, Andiamo caters to all tastes. From the number of sharing dishes (I’m a sucker for the grilled eggplant and the chilli-fried calamari), to having a pizette (a smaller pizza but it really isn’t that small!), to the various pastas (the ricotta agnollotti and fusilli cacio e pepe are divine to say the least) and various fish and meat options available you are spoiled for choice here. 

The cocktail list is extensive with unique drinks. My top recommendations are the “very superior spritz” which is a pampello and strawberry based drink, and the “El Diablo” which is tequila and mezcal (if you like ‘em spicy!). 

The perfect place to go for lunch with the ladies where you can order a bunch of dishes to share, this is one of my top spots if you want a long lunch with a drink in hand.

Soul Bar and Bistro

The viaduct’s finest Soul bar and bistro is the epitome of a long lunch location. 

What more could you want then the vibe that soul has to offer? I’m talking about breathtaking waterfront views, the hustle and bustle of the viaduct on a summer’s day, and just feeling like you’re amongst the action. 

Soul, as an institution, has been in the Auckland dining scene for 21 years and has continuously elevated their dining offerings in that time to grow as we have. 

A spot that you can guarantee your food will always be great at, I go for the incredible outdoor dining venue and the fact that the soul bar macaroni and cheese is literally something I wake up at night craving. 

Soul has some of my favourite cocktails such as the “Pretty in Pink” for a vodka strawberry cocktail and the “Silver Spoon” if you’re down for some gin with vanilla and lemon and egg whites for the foam.

Perfect for a saturday late lunch where you’re sharing a dozen oysters with the ladies and plan to bar-hop around the Viaduct, Soul is perfect for any lunching summer occasion. 

Hotel Ponsonby

This next location isn’t quite a mainstay like the others, but has gained a huge following and is always busy and brimming with people.

A self-proclaimed bar, bistro and beer garden, Hotel Ponsonby truly has it all. Catering to the blokes who love a good lager, the girls who want a vino in the sun, or a few delectable cocktails (I easily always down a few of the coconut margaritas!) this is such a great use of the space on the corner of Saint Marys Road.

The menu changes quite often, but the standouts for me on the recent menu when I went last week was the anchovy burrata on lemon-fried bread (complete sensory overload!), the spinach fazzoletti and an absolutely divine kina tagliatelle (the sort of which I’ve almost never had!).

If you’re in a bit more of a drink and snack mood, there’s so many options making HP my “local”.

No matter what you do this summer, be sure to visit at least once with the ladies on a sunny day!


Prego has been open since 1986, making its accolades for service and Italian cuisine no small feat. As they’ve declared, they’ve survived three recessions, two volcanic eruptions and one global pandemic which is all attributable to their consistent commitment to greatness which has helped them foster generations of loyal customers. 

Located on Ponsonby Road, the spacious venue boasts an incredible outdoor area at which being seated feels like you’re on holiday.

They cater to all dietary requirements and both the fungi pizza (we love a mushroom medley) and the linguine alla marinara (the prawns are always so fresh and the pasta sauce is so rich!) are my absolute favourite dishes. 

The wine list is so comprehensive with both top New Zealand wines and Italian imports, but nothing beats the Prego Chilli Margarita. 

I absolutely love Prego for a Sunday lunch with the ladies that transcends from the afternoon into the evening.

Non Solo Pizza

Non Solo has been around since 1997, making it 25 years old to date and again a quintessential Auckland restaurant. 

NSP truly thrives in the summer as the dining space is large and has by far one of the most phenomenal outdoor courtyards that feels like you’ve been transported to Italy. From the busts to the fountains to the greenery, sitting in the courtyard is an experience in and of itself. It was the perfect photo spot during my birthday lunch earlier this year.

NSP is lively and radiant which makes it an incredible choice on a summer’s day. To be completely candid, I’m not a huge fan of the pastas at NSP but the pizza choices are second to only a very very marginal few (I mean, it is called Non Solo Pizza after all). The Nerano in particular is a delicious and unique zucchini pizza covered in chilli and whipped stracciatella for a silky texture. 

This is my pick if you have a large group. For my birthday we did the Italian Long Lunch menu, which is $75 per person. They sat 25 of us in the courtyard letting the food roll out to us over the course of four or so hours, as we guzzled down a couple of bottles of the Ricasoli Albia Italian Rose and some Aperol Spritzes. 

Sip, Savor, Saunter – Sangria! An Ode to Summer’s Elixir

Summer is the season of warmth, sunshine, and relaxation. And what better way to embrace the spirit of the season than by indulging in a refreshing glass of sangria? Sangria, a traditional Spanish drink, is a perfect blend of fruit, wine, and brandy that creates a unique and delicious flavor. The fruit infuses the wine with natural sweetness and color, making it a perfect thirst-quencher on a hot summer day. 

Sangria is about savoring the moment, enjoying the company of friends and family, and taking in the beauty of the season. It’s a reminder to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life. Its minimal ingredients and creative expression makes it a perfect cocktail to keep stashed away for a sunny day. Not only does it taste divine, but the memories of your summer sangrias will stay with you forever – the smell alone will take you back to a special day. 

My first sangria was rather muddy. I was 19, and a pitcher was $30 at the dirtiest pub in Wellington. However, we have progressed and this fruity number is clean, crisp and doesn’t smell like the back of a cigarette. 

Though thoroughly enjoyed during summer, I like to spice my sangria to suit every season. You’ll find my red Sangria draws its inspiration from mulled wine with spices, while my spring rose sangria will forever be locked in my mind as the first sip of spring. My white sangria is matured, and brings itself out when the sweetest peaches and apricots are available in late January. 

Red Sangria

red wine sangria

When it comes to selecting red wine, you’ll usually find me in the international section. Nothing seems more moreish than Rioja, Temprinello, Sangiovese, and so forth. When it comes to sangria, I don’t mean to sound crude, but anything goes. Pinot Noir will add a lighter texture, whereas a Shiraz will pounce more forwardly. You can splurge much less with a red than with white wine, so keep that in mind. 

The recipe speaks for itself. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher of your choice, but keep some garnishes to freshen up on top. This is best when it has steeped for a few hours, and absolutely chilled, so plan accordingly. This recipe is also a base recipe, and can be adapted and changed depending on your time. You can add extra spices if you prefer a deeper taste, but I find this recipe is the perfect amount for summer time. 


  • 1 bottle of red wine of your choosing
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup brandy 
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 oranges, sliced


  1. Combine the orange juice, honey and spices in a medium saucepan. Heat until the honey is melted and combined. 
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the wine and brandy. This will ensure that the honey is mixed throughout, without heating up the rest of the liquid. 
  3. In a pitcher, add your sliced orange juice, and your liquid. 
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. 
  5. Spice up with orange garnishes, along with cinnamon and cranberries. 
  6. Serve over ice. 

Rose Sangria

rose sangria rosemary strawberry

Welcome to the wild world of rose sangria, a drink that packs a punch of flavor and captures the essence of spring like a butterfly net. Rose sangria is a unique blend of dry rose wine, fresh fruit, and a hint of brandy, creating a taste that is both light and complex, like a spring morning. This delightful concoction is the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring, with its delicate aroma and taste that invokes the first sip of the season. The dry rose wine is perfectly complemented by the sweetness of the fruit, creating a drink that is both refreshing and satisfying, like a sip of spring breeze.

Whether you’re hosting a brunch, a picnic, or a garden party, rose sangria is a crowd-pleaser that will add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your event. The first sip of rose sangria is like a sip of spring – refreshing and delightful, perfect for those sunny days, unless you live in Scotland.


  • 1 bottle of dry rose wine
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup triple sec
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves


  1. In a large pitcher, combine the rose wine, brandy, triple sec, honey, and lemon juice. Stir well to combine.
  2. Add the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and mint leaves to the pitcher.
  3. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours, to allow the flavors to meld.
  4. Before serving, give the sangria a good stir and pour into glasses filled with ice.
  5. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf and a few berries.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

White Sangria

white wine sangria peach

Now is the time to splurge. The late summer sky is setting in, and we want something fresh, crisp but also honey-like. It’s time for white wine sangria. My preference of wine for this will forever be a Pinot Gris, as it holds the peach notes. However, a Savvy B also does the trick. Whether you’re throwing a backyard bash, a park picnic, or a pool party, white wine sangria is a crowd-pleaser that will add a touch of class and sophistication to your shindig, or at least make it feel like one.


  • 1 bottle of dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup triple sec
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 peaches, sliced
  • 2 apricots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves


  1. In a large pitcher, combine the white wine, brandy, triple sec, honey, and lime juice. Stir well to combine.
  2. Add the peaches, apricots, raspberries and mint leaves to the pitcher.
  3. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours, to allow the flavors to meld.
  4. Before serving, give the sangria a good stir and pour into glasses filled with ice.
  5. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf and a slice of peach or apricot.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Note: You can adjust the sweetness of the sangria by adjusting the amount of honey added. If you prefer a sweeter drink, add more honey to taste.

This white wine sangria recipe with peaches and apricots is perfect for summer parties and get-togethers, the peaches and apricots give a nice sweetness to the drink, and the raspberries and mint leaves add a touch of freshness and aroma. You can serve it in a pitcher or in a wine glass.

Green Sides with a Twist

As the warm weather has well and truly seeped in, our taste buds are craving seasonal produce. Crunchy, juicy and fresh foods are what we’re hunting for in our recipe repertoire. Since we’re in spring, I’ve put together two transitional salads that are winking their way into the warmer months. Now is the time to fuel the soul for the last few weeks where the wind is mildly chilly and you are still choosing red wine over rosé.

I’ve put together two seasonal recipes for green sides – a must with every meal. Each of these salads are the perfect addition to any lunch or dinner, or to just bring some extra flair to your cooking. I like to think that these taste just as good as burgers! While burgers are absolutely and undeniably a very important food group to enjoy when feeling indulgent, these salads will leave you feeling full, nourished and very satisfied! 

Broccolini with Pangritata

Broccolini is one of those vegetables that are never left stocked at the supermarket. Most adults have a foul relationship with traditional broccoli; either having been spoon fed it in mushy form as a baby, or not being able to leave the table until every last piece of boiled swampy green tree has been eaten off the plate. Meet the new and improved older sister – broccolini. Tall, heavenly green, deliciously crunchy and hard to mess up in the kitchen. With absolutely no preparation involved, this is the perfect dish to cook up within 15 minutes. 

I like to keep vegetables simple and strong. They have an incredibly delicious natural texture that needs a little heat to enhance. Lemon, garlic and chilli bring these crunchy goddesses to life. Indulge me here – most vegetables are better with a little bready crunch. I have paired this dish with a herby pangritata – a poor man’s parmesan. If anyone else is like my family, and did Hello Fresh for months on end and seemed to have a never ending supply of panko bread crumbs, this one’s for you. 

Note – this is something that you can top on any loosely inspired Italian dish and taste its transformation first hand.

Pangritata Ingredients

  • 200g bread crumbs (I always store my sourdough ends in the freezer for this, however, panko bread crumbs are extra delicious!)
  • A ‘glug’ of your preferred oil 
  • Minced garlic, to taste
  • Dried herbs of your choice (oregano, italian mixed herbs, etc.)

Broccolini Ingredients

  • 2-3 bunches of fresh broccolini (broccoli will also work fine for this recipe)
  • Herbs and spices of your choosing – I would recommend onion and garlic powder, chilli/red pepper flakes, lemon zest and flaky salt
  • Preferred oil – here I have used the oil left over from making my confit garlic.


Preheat your oven to 190 C – you know your oven best. This recipe works well between a 180-200 degree heat, as we want to keep the crunch and avoid making it soggy. If you find your oven doesn’t circulate heat very well, place the pangritata on the top tray, and the broccolini at the bottom. 

To make the pangritata, add oil to your oven tray and place it in the oven to heat. Preheating your oven tray with oil helps to heat it up before any additional food is added – ensuring the crispiest pangritata possible. Once hot, spread the bread crumbs, dried herbs and garlic until your heart’s content. Season with salt and add back to the oven. 

To make the broccolini, preheat your oven tray, doused with your oil of choice. Remove when hot, add the broccolini, herbs and spices. Toss around, and then place in the oven. I cooked mine for approximately 7 minutes. This dish is best served with the broccolini crunchy but cooked. 

Remove both broccolini and pangritata from the oven. Place the broccolini and residue juices in your serving dish and sprinkle heavily with your pangritata. 

Top tip – try save some for your guests (;

Asparagus & Walnut Salad

Everyone loves whole cooked asparagus with butter but shaved asparagus ribbons calls for a party – it tastes like a party too. With half mildly pickled, and half left crunchy, this calls for textural indulgence. Though this might not initially sound as good as a burger – wait until you get the pickle, saucy, burnt walnutty goodness.


  • 2-3 bunches of asparagus 
  • 1 spring onion stick
  • Vinegar of your choice – I chose white wine vinegar but rice wine vinegar could also work 
  • ½ cup walnuts 
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds 
  • Oil of your choice


Separate the asparagus into two piles. Snap off the ends and trim if necessary. Use a mandoline, but a peeler should work as well. Take one half and add it in a bowl and lightly coat in sugar and salt. Add vinegar and water to ensure each ribbon is coated. Let rest for 10 minutes. This will form a light pickle to add texture and taste variation to this dish. You could leave this pickle for up to 30 minutes if you prefer a more acidic bite. Toss the other bunch lightly in olive oil.


Once prepared, drain and toss all the asparagus together in a preparation bowl. Sprinkle with your sesame seeds. 

Add walnuts to an oven tray with a little oil. You can either use a high heat or the grill setting. I like to take the walnuts until half of each has formed a black burnt colour. This gives it a popcorn-like taste. 

Slice the spring onion on a diagonal, very thinly. Add all the ingredients to the bowl and use your hands to toss. Get those juices flowing! 

Choose your desired plate, using tongs twist onto the plate as an Italian would do with pasta. Top with additional walnuts and spring onions for a garnish. This is a dish that compliments flaky salt, so season to your preferred taste.

ADHD: How women are affected by our flawed system

The way to an ADHD diagnosis for women in Aotearoa is expensive and lengthy. Recently Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick opened up to the media about her own journey through the health system. “If you designed a system that was navigable for somebody with ADHD, it would not look like the one we currently have,” she says. We talked to three women from Aotearoa who walked the long road to get help and found their lives changed for the better.

*This is a voiceover created by AI and therefore some of the words or pronunciations may be incorrect. We hope you still enjoy this listening experience.

Hinemoana Baker

The award-winning writer and poet answered our questions about her experience with ADHD. I sought a diagnosis in 2014 when I stopped being able to read. I was almost completely incapable of focusing on anything longer than a paragraph. I thought it would pass, but it didn’t – it got worse. As time went on, I stopped being able to concentrate almost completely.

It spread into being unable to write as well, which was really distressing as I had a writing residency to start that year and then another one in 2015-16 in Berlin.

I have since read and heard about how girls and women with ADHD often learn many masking and coping strategies that make it as invisible as possible, most of the time, at least from the outside. Then something major happens, a trauma or grief or big stress, and all those coping strategies fall away and ADHD kind of takes over their lives.

That is what happened to me in 2014. My 10-year relationship ended, and in 2015, a rebound one also ended. Things compounded when I travelled to Berlin for the writer’s residency and got very sick on the way over. That illness lasted for a couple of years, and is still not entirely gone.

All of that, plus my mother’s death, the death of her two sisters, the loss of my job and two big relationships in the same year meant that by the end of 2018, I was a bit of a wreck. My ADHD really came even more to the fore then, although at the time I had no idea that was the problem.

Not only could I not read or write, but also I was terrified of opening any mail, and was almost paralysed with fear when having to deal with anything bureaucratic – and there is a lot of bureaucratic stuff to deal with in Germany. In addition, I couldn’t keep my room tidy. The most basic things, dishes and laundry, were completely beyond me. I still had no idea why. I thought it was depression and anxiety, which I have had since I was a teenager and been medicated for since my late 30s. And I guess maybe some of it was.

My proper diagnosis came in 2019 when I got the opportunity to begin a PhD at Potsdam University. I knew there was no way I could even attempt something like this without getting help with my reading and writing situation. I was able to access a counsellor/therapist through my health insurance here. It sounds like a ridiculous coincidence, but she also just happened to be an expert on ADHD, particularly how it presents differently in girls and women.

When I described what I was struggling with, she immediately asked if I had ever been tested for it, and I said no. She then asked if I had ever done cocaine or speed, which I thought was an odd question. She explained that they have a similar action to Ritalin, and in almost every case, people with ADHD find them to be calming rather than stimulating. I didn’t have experience with either drug. She then took me through a very long, very detailed questionnaire in German about my childhood, teens, and current difficulties. The results were clear – I definitely have ADHD – with the “hyperactivity” presenting, as it often does in non-men, as self-destructive behaviours such as nail-biting. I had always thought my habitual nail and cuticle annihilation was anxiety-related.

She sent me to a psychiatrist (again covered by my health insurance). The psychiatrist prescribed bog-standard Ritalin, and within days my life changed. I was able to read and follow the detailed and complicated instructions that came with enrolling in post-graduate education here. I attended all the necessary sessions and I was making a relatively good start with my thesis writing and planning. I could tidy my room and open letters again. Things were looking up until the pandemic, but that’s a problem even Ritalin can’t solve.

Isabella Dampney

Two years ago, when Isabella Dampney returned to Aotearoa in the middle of the pandemic, she went through the usual readjustment experience of coming home. The 27-year-old artist took temporary jobs while working out what her next plan was going to be. It was only after cycling through a number of jobs and never settling for anything that Isabella began to wonder if her feeling of displacement was more than temporary; an accumulation of small things such as forgetfulness, an inability to concentrate and passing comments from a colleague who had ADHD and assumed she had it too, led her to seek out information. The internet provided plenty of answers and there were the usual tick-box tests, but trying to get a proper diagnosis was not easy and took almost a year.

“I rang every psychiatrist in Auckland and Wellington and the earliest appointment was in eight months,” she says. It was an expensive process that started with the initial $500 for an assessment and then a referral, then additional costs for follow-up appointments and prescriptions.

She was disheartened to find there was little or no support for anyone on a low income needing a prescription, especially when the prescription costs are ongoing and the diagnosis needs to be reconfirmed annually by a psychiatrist. But even without the medication, Isabella has found getting the diagnosis worthwhile.

“It made me understand myself on a personal level – why I do things in certain ways. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about ADHD, but it’s slowly improving.”

Artist Isabella Dampney. IMAGE: REUBEN LOOI

Louise Adams

Editor and digital producer Louise Adams agrees. When she looks back at her academic life, she says the red flags were all there.

“My school reports were littered with remarks like ‘doesn’t apply herself’ on subjects I didn’t enjoy – but no one ever suggested to my mother that I get tested,” she says. “I was a girl who daydreamed.”

She came across the topic of ADHD in women by chance in a story on David Farrier’s Webworm blog in 2021. It wasn’t just the gender issue or the clinical bias that made her sit up and pay attention.

“Admittedly, my knowledge and assumptions about ADHD at the time were based on social stereotypes about physically hyperactive children,” she says. “But when I read David’s article, I found myself identifying with nearly every symptom presented, particularly the part which explained that adult ADHD is more about having a hyperactive mind than a hyperactive body. This completely exemplifies my own experience with ADHD. It was a light-bulb moment.”

Editor and digital producer Louise Adams with Maggie. IMAGE: SUPPLIED

But getting a referral, diagnosis and treatment required spending a large chunk of her savings. Plus, getting on the case, making appointments, and filling in forms are all things many people with ADHD find difficult.

However, the difference ADHD medication has made in her life has been worth every dollar spent on appointments. It has brought more order, structure and motivation to her life, as well as reduced anxiety and depression. She feels far more productive and calm.

“I would never normally ‘self-diagnose over the internet’, and I wouldn’t recommend others do, either, but there are valid resources, such as the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale, that are worth looking into if you are already ticking these boxes in your head.

“It was all worth it for me. The difference in my life before and after medication is like night and day.”

Related article: ADHD and Women: The Hidden Epidemic

Powerhouse Designer Kiri Nathan On The Challenges Underlying Her Success

Fresh from her stellar runway show at New Zealand Fashion Week: Kahuria 2023, fashion designer, Kiri Nathan, tells journalist and playwright, Aroha Awarau, about her electrifying show.

Kiri Nathan

Māori designer, Kiri Nathan (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Hauā), opened this year’s New Zealand Fashion Week in August, with an emotive runway show chronicling the history of Māori garments. Fashion bible Vogue Australia described the experience as “the changing of the guard” in New Zealand fashion.

Kiri blushes whenever she’s congratulated about the milestone spectacle that she created and, in the process, becoming the very first Māori designer to open New Zealand’s premiere fashion event in its 20-year history.

Instead, Kiri prefers to give credit to the 280 whānau and friends who worked tirelessly to make the show happen. Importantly, she also acknowledges the up-and-coming Māori and indigenous fashion designers that are making their own mark in the fashion industry.

“After the show, we were given a full-house standing ovation. It was joyous and celebratory. This kind of reception hardly happens at New Zealand Fashion Week. Everyone connected and responded to the runway experience. It made an impact,” Kiri explains.

“It was a powerful moment for Māori fashion. The garments told stories of how Māori wore and made clothes, based on social and environmental impacts. Our history and our aspirations for the future were all connected.”

Kiri established her eponymous high-end brand thirteen years ago. Her distinctive fashion garments, jewellery, and pounamu designed by co-founder and husband Jason Nathan, weave together Māori culture, tradition, and contemporary designs. She uses ancient techniques like weaving, and kākahu (handwoven garments and cloaks) to create her pieces. Her clothes honour the world of Māori by acknowledging whakapapa (genealogy) and utilise sustainable materials to form a deeper connection to the environment.

Kiri Nathan

When Kiri first started her brand, some fashion insiders told her that her unapologetic focus on Māori and indigenous ideologies had no place in modern fashion.  But Kiri stuck to her principles, believing that her authentic indigenous lens was what made her unique, and her brand became well-known locally and internationally. She has designed garments and gifted pounamu and kākahu to international personalities like Barack Obama, Meghan Markle, Beyoncé and Mariah Carey, and her gowns have appeared on the red carpet at the Oscars and Hollywood premieres.

“It’s been an evolution, for me personally, as a creative and as a businesswoman. I continue to learn and grow. During the early years, it was extremely challenging. There were many negative experiences within the industry, I found the frameworks and how people treated each other especially difficult.”

Kiri’s business has become so successful that a year ago she moved her base from her tiny Auckland home and studio, into her own showroom and operations hub situated in the heart of the Auckland suburb of Glen Innes.  Named Te Āhuru Mōwai, meaning shelter or safe haven, the working space is where Kiri not only makes her clothing and woven kākahu, but it’s also a community hub for the future of Aotearoa fashion to be mentored in design and business.

Kiri proudly takes us on a tour of her immaculate showroom, renovated from recycled and repurposed wood and furniture.  Clothing is not arranged in seasons, like other fashion houses. Instead, they are arranged by various components of the Māori world. For instance, there’s a Matariki collection, with each garment inspired by the nine stars of Matariki.

She based her workshop in the working class suburb of Glen Innes, as opposed to the inner city, because Glen Innes is where Kiri was raised and went to school. It was important to return home, to re-connect and give back to her community.

“My formative years were spent here in Glen Innes. This is where my creativity started, it was an outlet that always brought me into a space that felt safe and secure.”

There are many taonga (treasures) displayed inside Te Āhuru Mōwai that have great significance. In one corner lies a giant mauri greenstone gifted to her by the people of the South Island iwi of Kai Tahu. In another corner is her most precious taonga, an old Singer sewing machine owned by her paternal grandmother, Inez Fullerton. Inez was a talented seamstress who sewed and knitted clothes for her whanau.

“I used to sit at the foot of the sewing machine and spent hours watching grandma sew. I used to watch her cut patterns and make clothes. It was calming for me,” adds Kiri.

“As I got older, she let me have a go at sewing and making clothes. I always wanted a place to honour her sewing machine and the memories that it holds.”

At 18, Kiri became a single mother to her son Astley. To help provide a future for herself and her baby, Kiri spent three years completing a diploma in visual arts at the Manukau Institute of Technology, majoring in fashion. But after she graduated, Kiri was disheartened with fashion and became a flight attendant and an in-flight manager for Ansett and Air New Zealand for fourteen years.

“By the end of the three years of study, I never wanted to see a sewing machine again. The theory-based course killed my desire to create for years.”

She met her husband Jason and his daughter Ahmardia in 1998. They married and went on to have three more children.

While juggling a career at Air New Zealand and family life, Kiri entered various fashion competitions including the New Zealand Wearable Art Awards. In 2008, she won the Supreme Award at Style Pasifika with a garment that was inspired by a picture of her grandparents when they were younger. Winning the major prize, and with the support from her husband, they had the confidence to start their own label. 

“We were clueless, completely green with no idea where to start. In our divine wisdom, we thought it would be a wonderful idea to start a business, and work around the kids.”

Today, that decision has paid off. Kiri has become a major influence in New Zealand fashion and for indigenous designers around the world. She became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2020 for her contribution to Māori and the fashion industry.

In 2017, she founded Kahui Collective, a community to support Māori fashion designers in their businesses and creative endeavours.

“It’s important to bring all of our like-minded and creative whānau together. We’re in an industry that is still on its journey to fully understanding and realising the potential of Māori fashion. For Māori fashion to be successful, it has to be a collective effort.”

This article was published in Volume 1 of WOMAN Magazine, on sale now at all good magazine retailers.

This is public interest journalism funded by NZ on Air.

Related Article: Pacific Health Leader Shares Her Painful Medical Battle

Pacific Health Leader Shares Her Painful Medical Battle

The leader of a major Pacific organisation is making the ultimate sacrifice to ensure more women are aware of the dangers of breast cancer.

Debbie Sorensen is the chief executive of the Pasifika Medical Association, the largest Pacific non-governmental organisation in New Zealand, and for 16 years she has helmed the entity with a strong and confident style of leadership.

But last month, she allowed herself to be vulnerable when she released a short documentary detailing her diagnosis with an aggressive form of breast cancer and the medical battle she endured to save her life. This was Debbie Sorensen whom her colleagues, peers and the public have never seen before. She was emotional, fragile, sick in a hospital bed with little hair on her head, allowing the world to see her experience the harsh reality of fighting breast cancer.

“We’ve watched too many sad medical movies when things don’t end well and people die. But this is a different story. I’m not dead yet.  We really need to encourage our Pacific women to not be so fearful. We can’t afford to have our Pacific mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and sisters die, so we have to do something about it,” she says.

Debbie was initially hesitant about letting the cameras in. She agreed to be filmed because she wanted to show a high-profile Pacific woman going through this experience and hoped it would encourage other Pacific women to have regular mammograms.  She also wanted to dispel the myths and anxieties that may surround chemotherapy and radiology treatments.

Debbie accepted that the most impactful way to spread the message was to show the rawness and honesty of battling breast cancer.

“If the documentary was a nice, flowery floating story, then women wouldn’t feel like they needed to act.  But actually, it’s very serious. I want people to be shocked, and that to be a call to action.”

A report published last year by Breast Cancer Foundation NZ found that Pacific women were 52% more likely to die of breast cancer within 10 years than Pākehā and had the highest rate of stage 3 and 4 breast cancers and of HER2+ cancers, and more grade 3 tumours than all other ethnicities.

Debbie’s breast cancer was discovered last April after she went for a check-up. It was an aggressive form of breast cancer that needed urgent attention, and she had a biopsy after her examination. Ten days later, she was in the theatre having a partial mastectomy, and ten weeks after that she started chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

“I was in shock. No one on either side of my family has had breast cancer. I thought I could get lots of other cancers, but not breast cancer. My father died of bowel cancer. When I was young, I smoked, and it would have been easy for me to get lung cancer. I was expecting the doctors to tell me it was only a breast lump. Lots of women have lumps removed and examined and they are benign.”

Once the seriousness of the cancer was confirmed, and the treatment plan had been put in place, Debbie prepared herself for the gruelling days of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“I’m not a person to feel sorry for myself. We just needed to get on with it. If they hadn’t found this early, then I might be planning a funeral,” she says.

“My overwhelming feeling was one of gratitude. I feel grateful that it was found, grateful that I was able to access health services, and grateful that I work in such an organisation where all my bosses are doctors and were very supportive.”

Debbie is a Tongan leader, a mother and a grandmother, who started her medical career as a nurse. She branched out into governance, management, and health advocacy for the Pacific community when she helped establish the Pasifika Medical Association in 1996. The association includes Pasifika Futures, the Whanau ora Commissioning Agency for Pacific families and ETU Pasifika Primary Care services in Auckland and Christchurch. 

Today, Debbie is back at work and feeling much better. She has yet to be given an all-clear from her doctors and still requires regular checks.

“I have to continue to be vigilant, and positive and continue to listen to my doctor’s health advice.”

She says the experience has given her a deeper insight into the public health system and has encouraged her to continue to fight for health equity for the Pacific community . 

“This experience has made me insightful. It’s made me determined to make sure that everything that we do makes it better for our Pacific people and their engagement with the health sector,” she says.

“The experience has also made me realise how loved I am and how important it is for me to get better and live the best life that I can.”

Watch Debbie’s documentary here.

This is public interest journalism funded by NZ on Air.

Related Article: How Miriama Smith Learned How to Love Acting

WOMAN Relaunches As A Quarterly Magazine!

With the digital platform in growth mode, School Road Publishing are coming back into the market with WOMAN magazine, giving the brand more exposure and credibility than ever.

WOMAN magazine returns to the newsstands Monday 27 November in a new more stylish and directional seasonal format. 

The changes come after Martine Skinner (ex Bauer/ACP) was announced General Manager and Sarah Hoffmann (ex Bauer, STUFF and NZME) was appointed Sales Director of School Road Publishing, owned by the Waitapu Group. 

 “We’ve bought the magazine back in a redesigned, contemporary matt format with more content so our audience can enjoy WOMAN in a more relaxed and tactile way during their leisure time, while still receiving continuous updates from and its social platforms throughout the week,” says Skinner.

Through a unique commercial model, WOMAN has invited a limited number of well-known brands to be Preferred Partners over the summer months and who are seamlessly integrated into the magazine.  

“We could not have delivered this issue without our preferred partners. We’re excited to be collaborating with them and sharing their stories through a mixture of editorial and sponsored editorial across all platforms” says Hoffmann.

At the helm of the first new look issue is Editor Angie Fredatovich, working alongside the creative talents of Waitapu Group’s other companies including the specialist visual storytellers at Film 360 and Stanley Street Agency’s design talents.  Experience editor and publisher Christina Sayers-Wickstead has contributed to the issue.

WOMAN Magazine is on sale now at all good magazine retailers.

Meet WOMAN’s New Editor Angie Fredatovich

It’s a ‘pinch me’ moment to be introducing myself as the new editor of WOMAN Magazine. Thirteen-year-old me who read fashion magazines cover to cover used to dream of one day being the girl who got to be the captain of such a creative ship. Secret confession — I also wanted to be the person who got to give nail polishes those clever, quirky colour names.

As we get to know each other you’ll learn that the one thing I dislike more than anything else is ageism. It’s important to me that whether you’re 19 or 90 you’ll find lots of things you love and can relate to in our newest issue (on sale Monday 27 November). You can rock the fashion, find inspiration, enjoy the escapism and get lost in the reads.

At the heart of WOMAN are the profiles we write about other women and this issue is filled to the brim with smart, inspiring and wonderful wãhine toa. It’s not just about giving voice to the women we write about, it’s also about giving you a voice. Please know that you can always reach out to us, and tell us what you’re thinking or what’s inspiring you, we’d love to hear from you via hello@

I want to leave you with one last thought before you read the newest issue. Attitude not age, because it’s not about the number of years you’ve lived, but the way in which you’ve lived them.

WOMAN Magazine is on sale now at all good magazine retailers.

8 stylish trends to take your outdoor space to the next level

A convivial contemporary outdoor lounging area is an irresistible asset – not least because both resident family and visiting friends always seem to gravitate towards them. Here are eight enviable alfresco lounges to inspire you.

Summer heat

This covered patio area is the epitome of cool and relaxed due to its neutral colour theme. Key to its success is the dappled shade provided by the slatted wooden pergola, and the wide variety of appealing lounge-seating options, which range in style from the built-in banquette to rattan hanging pods and a pair of canvas butterfly chairs.

Get the look

Create a laidback seating nook by layering cushions of varying sizes on an outdoor couch. Recreate this style by choosing an all-white colour palette with a smattering of blue accents.

Lafuma Sphinx lounge chair, $495 from Jardin.

Lafuma Sphinx lounge chair, $495 from Jardin

.Nouveau outdoor cushion, $24.99 from Mitre 10.

Nouveau outdoor cushion, $24.99 from Mitre 10.

Palm Springs square plant holders, $599 for set of two from Hunter Home.

Palm Springs square plant holders, $599 for set of two from Hunter Home.

Synthetic rattan pod chair, $900 from Tee Pea Home.

Synthetic rattan pod chair, $900 from Tee Pea Home.

Embry vases, $59.90-$69.90 from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Embry vases, $59.90-$69.90 from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Top Tip: Offsetting the prevailing use of wood and concrete with canvas and rattan accents means there’s visual interest here as well as a variety of seating styles. The latter facilitates almost any holiday past-time, from an afternoon chat to solitary reading.

White out

Gathering around an open fire will always be one of the best ways to enjoy spending time outdoors with friends and family. This fire bowl is situated in an intimate outdoor conversation pit that is dropped below ground level and surrounded by built-in planters. The plants and the change in level reinforce the feeling of privacy, with the white painted bricks giving some serious Mediterranean vibes.

Sunken garden among a white brick wall, with built in bench seat with grey and white cushions, paving stones and gravel are on the ground with a fire pit in the middle of the space

How to get this look

Planter boxes positioned alongside a low couch can emulate the feeling of being at different levels if you don’t have the space to build a conversation pit.

Fire Pits

Noveau fire pit bowl and poker set, $149 from Mitre 10.

Noveau fire pit bowl and poker set, $149 from Mitre 10.

Acadia corten Gobi fire pit, $1499 from Outdoor Concepts.

Acadia corten Gobi fire pit, $1499 from Outdoor Concepts.

Macedon fire pit, $399 from Early Settler.

Macedon fire pit, $399 from Early Settler.

Wanaka corten fire pit, $680 from Bray Design.

Wanaka corten fire pit, $680 from Bray Design.

Barn is beautiful

One side of this contemporary barn-style holiday home in the country opens up completely to an outdoor living area.

barn style home with pitched roof, the outdoor space is a deck with two loungers around a fire pit and a table and chairs closer to the house

Positioned to take in views over a dam, orchard and forested surrounds, the decked entertainment area features separate zones for outdoor cooking and eating, and this pared-back yet luxurious seating space.

Clean lines are a prerequisite for an elegant outdoor setting like this one. Choose armless couches, chairs and stools for an uncluttered look, and stick to elements of steel, wood and concrete.

Top tip: For the ultimate indoor-outdoor flow, match your exterior to your interior by repeating colours used inside your home on furnishings in outdoor areas.

Mixing deck

This front deck is much more like an outdoor room than a conventional verandah. It has sliding wooden shutters that can be used to partially screen it from the elements – such as strong winds or harsh sunlight – or to fully and securely enclose it.

Get the look

Soften wooden outdoor furniture with padded cushions in terracotta tones. Add exterior wall art in metal or painted wood to add artistic interest.

Casual elegance

Outdoor room, with large pale rug, wicker baskets and a seating area around a coffee table

This sophisticated, modern verandah is situated in the new wing of a family home, and leads onto a verdant garden and dining area. The restrained colour palette, styled shelving unit and elegant lighting give the space the sort of sophisticated flair that is usually only seen in interior living rooms, while the relaxed outdoor-style seating options convey a more casual feel. The result is a space that’s perfect for entertaining.

Get the look

Invest in good-quality outdoor cushions, rugs and baskets so your furniture and accessories can weather the elements. Cute dog optional!

Kisbee lounge single seat, $2098 from Devon.

Kisbee lounge single seat, $2098 from Devon.

Black glass trapeze hanging light, $1217 from Leopold Hall.

Black glass trapeze hanging light, $1217 from Leopold Hall.

Kuba teak outdoor coffee table, $995 from Design Warehouse.

Kuba teak outdoor coffee table, $995 from Design Warehouse.

African handmade palm basket, $85 from Artisans Bloom.

African handmade palm basket, $85 from Artisans Bloom.

Keep it country

When asked about the charming mix of vintage and reclaimed pieces that characterise their home – including this romantic verandah – the homeowners say: “We don’t find them; they find us. They are mostly passed-on heirlooms and junk-shop or reclamation-yard finds.”

Country style outdoor room, with white painted brick wall, a floating shelf with hanging plates above it, small seating area with lounge chair and arm chair and a wicker rocking chair

Get the look

This is a look that can’t be forced, and takes some skill to put together to create a dreamy and effortless feel. Start with key pieces – an eye-catching vintage rattan chair or a collection of vintage china – and build the rest of the look around them.

Top tip: When buying vintage or second-hand wicker or rattan furniture, inspect it carefully for any breaks or brittle pieces of cane. Check to see if it’s sturdy or has any sun damage, and it’s always a good idea to give it the “seat” test. Try before you buy!

Classic chic

This patio, with its pergola and a river-stone floor, is pure holiday goals. The pergola itself is supported by plastered masonry pillars, and has a forged iron top frame and cross wires covered with bamboo and a salvaged mature grapevine. The built-in seating was added during the home’s recent renovation because small spaces generally feel bigger with inbuilt seating arrangements.

Outdoor space with inbuilt seating, the ceiling has plants hanging down from it, there are tiles on the ground

Get the look

Tinted glass vases in ocean blues add a Mediterranean vibe to an outdoor area. Add striped cushions, oversized lanterns and, if you’re lucky, a view of the sea or a grapevine-covered hillside.

Get Comfy

Outdoor canvas cushion cover in horizon, $49 from Bolt of Cloth.

Outdoor canvas cushion cover in horizon, $49 from Bolt of Cloth.

Midori Indigo Sunbrella outdoor cushion, starting at $180 from Coast New Zealand.

Midori Indigo Sunbrella outdoor cushion, starting at $180 from Coast New Zealand.

KAS Limona plain outdoor cushion, $34.99 from Briscoes.

KAS Limona plain outdoor cushion, $34.99 from Briscoes.

Panama outdoor cushion, $36.95 from Bed Bath N’ Table.

Panama outdoor cushion, $36.95 from Bed Bath N’ Table.

Green room

In a family home that’s all about seamless indoor-outdoor living, spaces suitable for enjoying family time and entertaining friends are essential. This patio runs the full length of the house, and all the doors can be flung open to connect inside and out.

Outdoor room, with a roof with hanging plants, white wicker furniture and a bar that has green square tiles

Choose bright blue outdoor upholstery fabric, and combine it with the natural textures of plants, rattan furniture, grass matting and side tables in stone and ceramic to make a vibrant space that also delivers warmth and understated luxury.

Top tip: Create a genuinely romantic space that includes a comfortable lounge area by adding dozens of overhead hanging plants and plenty of greenery.

Learning To Love Exercise

Sharon Stephenson meets a fitness guru who’s heard every excuse under the sun for staying on the couch, but swears he can help even the most sedentary type fall in love with fitness. 

It’s 6am, rain is spitting at the roof and an icy southerly is threatening to cut my house in two. Reasons to flag exercise come thick and fast: it’s too cold, too dark, too early, too hard. Hitting snooze on the alarm and wedging myself further under the duvet seems a far easier option.

I’m not alone: figures suggest that nearly half of adult Kiwis do zero, little or not enough exercise every week. What’s more, while 14 percent of us have gym memberships, not many of us use them that often.

Add in a global pandemic, economic meltdown and an ever-increasing battle to just drag ourselves through the days, and it’s easy to see why exercise can fall down the to-do list.

Bevan James Eyles gets it. The Christchurch fitness professional has probably heard every excuse there is not to exercise. And he knows full well that many more of us slip off the health wagon every day than ever manage to clamber back on.

“It’s a lack of willingness to want to commit to exercise that stops so many of us making exercise a regular part of our lives,” says Bevan from the Canterbury home he shares with his wife Jo.

It’s a conundrum the 44-year-old reckons he’s cracked in his second book I Will Make You Passionate About Exercise

Aimed at those who don’t share the same love of exercise as the award-winning fitness instructor, Ironman triathlete and marathon runner, the book’s 253 pages take readers on a journey of learning to love exercise forever. 

“It’s a series of baby steps that will help build the foundation for a lifetime love of exercise,” promises Bevan, who’s so passionate about the subject he barely stops for breath. “That means overcoming both physical and mental barriers so that you can get to a place where exercise brings lots of benefits to your life and where you’re actually excited to exercise.”

It might sound like a tall order, but Bevan has achieved considerable success with his baby steps strategy so far. Including a 70-year-old woman who hadn’t exercised since high school.

“She was overweight, unfit and didn’t know how or where to start. We got her onto our 5km running programme in 2018 and 18 months later she ran a half-marathon.”

What this woman had to overcome, what all non-exercisers have to overcome, are the barriers to building basic exercise foundations. 

“Probably the biggest barriers are learning to fit exercise into your life and getting into the habit of making it a priority. It’s about creating a shift in behaviour, of finding a movement you enjoy that you’ll be able to prioritise, even if it’s a five-minute walk. That’s the key to succeeding.”

Fitness Industry Failure

Bevan didn’t have to go down this road; he’d already carved a successful niche in the fitness industry, travelling around the world teaching with Les Mills and breaking his own personal best times in marathons and the gruelling Ironman competition.

But his break-in-the-traffic moment came at a conference in Florida when a colleague commented that the fitness industry was actually failing people. 

“She said, we’re actually failing because there are fewer people moving and more people putting on weight. Which was a total revelation to me. I’d spent my career working with people who already exercised and enjoyed it, but no one was really trying to help non-exercisers to get on the exercise ladder.”

It wasn’t, he adds, that people hadn’t tried exercise, more usually that they’d tried and failed – and had a negative experience doing so. “So, of course, they don’t want to go back to doing something they found unenjoyable, something they failed at. My question to myself was, how do I take someone who isn’t doing any exercise, who has a history of failure and is uncomfortable and possibly insecure about exercising, to a place where they know they’ll exercise forever?”

His own first baby step, in 2007, was starting a running group, aimed at getting people off the couch and running 5km in eight weeks. It was, he admits, an epic failure.

“There were 15 people in the group and everyone failed to run the 5km. I realised I didn’t really understand the non-exerciser and needed to do things differently.”

That included grilling his group about what they needed to be able to safely bring exercise into their lives and to build a pathway to becoming a lifelong exerciser. Armed with that knowledge, Bevan tried again, this time working with people to provide strategies from the minute they decided to exercise, to putting on their trainers and getting out the door. 

“At the beginning, you’re not learning exercise techniques, you’re learning how to get yourself ready to move, so things like packing your bag the night before and planning a night of the week you know you’ll be successful or will have energy. At this stage, exercise has to be extremely easy, physically and mentally, because it’s about building a framework and opening the door for you to enjoy exercise.”

Armed with that insight, Bevan’s second running group was a resounding success, with 90 percent of his trainees reaching the 5km target. To date, he estimates his business, Extra Mile Runners, has put more than 4000 people through their paces, with many going on to compete in half-marathons within 18 months of starting.

“Once people have exercise in their lives, they tend to prioritise a form of movement that they really enjoy, and to build a community around it. That’s what leads them down growth pathways.”

Man crouched down holding his arm.
Bevan admits his first attempt to get non-exercisers into action was a flop, so he’s worked on strategies to make it easy to get into the habit.

Rocky Beginnings     

Look at Bevan and you’ll see a fit, happy man, comfortable in his skin. But the father of daughter Tyler, 25, says it wasn’t always like this. 

Born and bred in Christchurch, Bevan admits poverty and alcoholism, care of his father and other family members, formed the backdrop to his life. 

“Ambition isn’t really put in front of you in that kind of environment, so I left school at 15 with no qualifications and few basic skills. I remember once in the doctor’s surgery filling out a form and not being able to spell the name of my street.”

There followed five years of drugs and alcoholism, of becoming, by his own admission, “a real drop-kick. I went down a path of losing myself, of hurting people and wasting my late teenage years.”

Ironically, it was a bad LSD trip that set him on the right path. “I had a moment of clarity during this trip about who I was – a broken person, a loser going nowhere fast.”

While trying to find another direction, he stumbled upon an exercise machine in his mother’s garage. “It was the stupidest machine ever, but I started doing 30 minutes on it a day and found I really enjoyed it.”

That eventually led to an Ironman competition and the realisation that not only did he like exercise, he was also good at it.

“I learnt it first with playing the guitar and then with fitness – if you want to be good at something, you have to put the effort in.” 

Bevan started writing his book 2 years ago, aiming to bring his exercise gospel to others via 10 easy baby steps. 

“The first step in prioritising exercise in your life is to focus on what you can do right now, so if that’s a five-minute walk, to me that’s a win because you’re going to get out the door and do it. What we’re trying to teach are the habits and behaviours you do before you actually even start exercising. And if we can remove that tension of being worried about the exercise or the time it’s going to take in your day, then we’ll increase the chance of you doing it.”

Other lessons include finding movement you enjoy and using forward thinking positively to motivate you to get moving.  

“Instead of thinking about exercise as something that’s going to be hard and horrible, think about how you’re going to feel afterwards. The goal is to bank a whole lot of positive experiences so that when you think about exercising, you want to do it.”

Which is particularly important as we age, and even more so for women, he adds.

“No matter what your age, the key is to find a movement you enjoy and create a safe pathway to bring that exercise into your life. For women, it’s also important as they age to incorporate some strength work into their week, particularly if osteoporosis is an issue. In general, I find women enjoy cardio but can be a bit afraid of things like the weights room. But you don’t have to do weights – a circuit class or pump class, or working with a personal trainer can also build strength. Remember, it’s all about baby steps.”

Bevan’s Get-Moving Tips

  • Make a decision to exercise. Ask yourself what you want your health to look like in five or 10 years and make that decision today.
  • Work with an expert to create a safe, sensible plan designed specifically for beginners.
  • Work towards creating a fitness lifestyle; don’t just focus on a quick fix.
  • See yourself as an exerciser.
  • Build a support structure around exercise – find a form of movement you love, as well as a good leader and a community who can support you.

Book cover for 'I Will Make You Passionate About Exercise' by Bevan James
I Will Make You Passionate About Exercise by Bevan James Eyles (Mary Egan Publishing, $37).

Karen Walker on her Limited Edition Puzzle

With a cult international following and collections stocked in more than 1,000 stores in over 40 countries, Karen Walker is undoubtedly New Zealand’s most famous fashion export. She’s a self-confessed lover of creating order out of chaos and mixing pragmatism with eccentricity —both of which apply to her prowess as a fashion designer and her love of a good puzzle. We talk to NZ’s most acclaimed fashion designer Karen Walker about the inspiration behind the design of her Runaway Stamps puzzle, how she prioritises wellbeing in her day and, of course, delve into her love affair with the humble puzzle. 

The Karen Walker x Piecehouse puzzle is inspired by her childhood stamp collection, rich with adventure and exotic locales.

Your pieces are usually found on catwalks, not in a box. What led you to this collaboration? 

As a puzzle fanatic, I’ve actually wanted to create a jigsaw puzzle for many years! When PieceHouse sent us a puzzle to look at out of the blue, we knew we’d found the right partner. They’re puzzle fanatics like me and create lovely puzzles that are carefully crafted. 

We’ve spotted your signature Runaway Girl, but tell us more about the Runaway Stamps puzzle design.

We reworked a print from our 2018 collection called Love Letter a montage of vintage postage stamps that nod to Edwardian etchings and feature camels, giraffes, a kiwi bird and, of course, the graphic silhouette of our Runaway Girl with her shoulder-slung bindle front and centre. As a child, I was a bit of a stamp collector and was always drawn to the multifarious graphics and the sense of adventure and possibility they suggested. We took the original fabric, recoloured the graphics and repositioned the stamps, taking care to have them placed in just the right way to create a puzzle that’s challenging but still fun. 

You’re a self-confessed puzzle fanatic; where did it all start?

I’m a lifelong puzzler. My first, as a very young child, was an old wooden puzzle found at the back of Grandma’s games cupboard. The scene: a Regency painting of a grand drawing room with parquet floors, chandelier, harpsichord and a woman in a white gown by a large window. I was hooked. From then, every winter school holiday had a puzzle – 1,000 pieces minimum. One of the Eiffel Tower was the only one to beat me – too much flat, blue Parisian sky. Forty years on, that defeat still stings. 

Tell us what your dream puzzling scenario looks like.

Having company when puzzling is great fun (with the right types at the table), but they are also divine solo. My perfect puzzling scenario is a mid-morning empty house, a fresh pot of Earl Grey tea and one of my favourite podcasts or audiobooks. I’ll often do a bit of binge and really enjoyed having every John le Carré for company on one such binge (le Carré himself a lovely reader) and, on another, worked my way through every 007 (David Tennant is particularly good company) followed by every Jeeves and Wooster (Martin Jarvis does a lovely job). That’s a lot of puzzling and a lot of fantastic books. 

How do you juggle seemingly endless work demands with personal wellbeing? What advice would you give those aspiring to live a balanced life?

What works for me is building my wellbeing into my schedule as I do with my work responsibilities. That might be scheduling a dog walk, yoga class or meditation without guilt. These tasks are just as important as anything else in my day. I also start a puzzle at any time of year when I notice my mind’s buzzier than I like it to be, as a puzzle is one of the best ways I know to calm that buzzy state. 

Q&A credit to Piecehouse.

Related Article: Kowtow’s Gosia Piatek On Fashion, Sustainability And Making A Change For Good

Dietitian Deb Sue’s Top Tips for Supermarket Shopping with Kids

Supermarket shopping with kids can be a stressful exercise, so in a bid to make the experience easier for shoppers big and small, Woolworths is making changes at checkouts all across the country.

80 percent of food items at checkouts will carry a Health Star Rating (HSR) of 3.5 or above, with the remaining checkout space undefined by HSR, and kids confectionery will also be removed from checkouts across Woolworths supermarkets nationwide.

While treats and snacks will still be available for customers to choose in other parts of the supermarket, Woolworths New Zealand nutritionist and registered dietitian, Deb Sue, says the supermarket is giving shoppers a helping hand to make healthier choices at the checkout.

Deb Sue

“We want to give all New Zealanders healthier snack options to choose from at the checkout which is why you’ll find a selection that’s focused on higher Health Star Ratings. We’re not telling anyone what they should be putting in their trolley, but by upping healthier options and moving less healthy choices into aisles, hopefully it makes it that little bit easier.”

Those end-of-shop negotiations from the little ones will get a little less theatrical as parents can take comfort in knowing more healthy options are replacing products aimed at children at the checkouts.

But how to get to the end of the shop smoothly? Dietitian and mum Deb Sue shares her dos and don’ts to tackle any trolley tension:

  1. Don’t shop when you’re hungry, particularly with hungry kids

    • Go after breakfast or lunch and you’re less likely to make impulsive or hangry decisions, and bring the kids’ water bottles to keep them hydrated so they don’t mistake thirst for hunger

  2. Get the kids involved with meal planning and finding the groceries they need in store

    • If the kids are helping to make their favourite meals during the week, they’ll be more invested in getting the right ingredients to complete their goals

  3. Get the kids looking out for the HSR rating in store and knowing what this means

    • The HSR rating uses a rating scale of 0.5 to 5 stars. When comparing similar foods, foods with more stars are healthier than foods with fewer stars
    • Educate and distract at the same time!

  4. Role play shopping at home with your little ones

    • Give the kids an insight into the things you need to think about (and ignore) while shopping and they might have a little empathy next time

  5. Get them to help make the shopping list before you go & match it as much as possible to match the layout of the store

    • Call it orienteering or a treasure hunt and get the kids to select as many of the things on your list without backtracking or going down the same aisle twice
    • Tip: The myCountdown app has a product locator so you can find the exact aisle number

  6. Always start the shopping process in the fresh fruit and veg section – look out for the free fruit for kids tubs

    • Fill as much of the trolley as you can with vegetables and fruit so the kids see the trolley become full at the beginning, plus filling them up on free fruit will keep them distracted, full and less likely to want a packaged treat

  7. Pre-select a treat

    • If your little one is going to demand something no matter what, agree on what they can have before your shop. Even better, give them two healthy options so they feel they have a say on the matter when choosing between the two
    • Better yet, keep the focus off food and entice them with a non-food treat like going to the park, pool, or library afterwards (and it’s likely to speed up the shopping!)

  8. Make it fun

    • Distract the kids and get them to count how many blue shirts, or hats, or sneakers they can see throughout the shop

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Seedy Almond Cake Recipe

Seedy almond cake on a white table and white plates

This treat is low in sugar, packed with goodness and best of all, absolutely delicious!

To create this recipe, I started with a basic Victoria sponge and swapped out the white flour for a blend of wholemeal and ground almonds, reduced the sugar substantially and added extra nuts and seeds. To result is delicious – and you really don’t miss all that sugar. I love to eat the cake still just warm from the oven, but it keeps well too. It’s great with a cup of tea or, for a high-fibre probiotic pud, enjoy it with a spoonful of kefir or natural yoghurt, and a little heap of fresh berries or roasted fruit. The poppy seeds aren’t essential, but I love them for their look and their texture and, like any seed, they are rich in minerals.

Makes 8 slices


  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 70g soft light brown sugar or light muscovado
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange or lemon (optional)
  • 100g wholemeal cake flour/fine plain wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 25g sunflower seeds
  • 25g poppy seeds (optional)
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk or water
  • About 20g flaked almonds or pumpkin seeds (or a mix)


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 20cm round springform cake tin with baking paper.

2. Put the butter and sugar, and the orange or lemon zest if using, into a large bowl or a free-standing electric mixer. Use an electric hand whisk or the mixer to beat for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy.

3. In a second bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, sunflower seeds and poppy seeds, if using.

4. Add an egg and a spoonful of the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar. Mix and beat until evenly blended. Repeat to incorporate the remaining eggs. Tip in the remaining dry ingredients and fold together gently but thoroughly, finishing by folding in the milk or water to loosen the batter a little.

5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread it gently and evenly. Scatter with the flaked almonds and/or pumpkin seeds. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool, at least a little, on a wire rack.

6. Remove the cake from the tin and cut into slices to serve. It will keep in an airtight tin for up to five days, but you’ll most likely finish it well before then.

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New Zealand’s Best Wedding Cakeries

Calling all lovebirds! Are you ready to embark on the sweetest journey of your lives? Well, hold onto your cake forks because we’re about to take you on a whirlwind tour of New Zealand’s top wedding cakeries! These talented bakers and decorators have mastered the art of turning sugar, flour, and a whole lot of love into edible works of art that will leave your taste buds begging for more. So, grab your sweetheart and get ready to discover the crème de la crème of the cake world right here in NZ!


Cake & Co.

Let’s begin our journey in the vibrant city of Auckland, where you will find the land of heavenly sweets. First stop is Cake & Co. This bakery is a little piece of paradise with mind-blowing creations that seem to have come from a fairytale run by the wonderful Jackie who you will fall in love with!. From elegant and classic designs to trendy and modern masterpieces, their cake artists will bring your wildest dessert dreams to life. 

Just Jess Boujee bakery

The Just Jess Boujee bakery is quickly becoming everyone’s favourite bakery.  With a name like “Just Jess,” you know her work will come with a personal flair. Her cakes are edible works of art that will have your guests taking photos from all sides. 


Bluebells is a cakery that will make your heart skip a beat. If you have read some of my wedding writing before, you may have picked up that I’m a florist, and it just so happens that I am a florist that actually does a lot of the flower action at the Bluebells Kingsland bakery, nestled in the heart of Auckland. Bluebells is a hidden gem that has been crafting edible works of art for years. Their dedication to perfection and their love for all things sweet shine through in every wedding cake they create.



Sweet Avenue Cakes

Travelling south to Hamilton, this quaint city is home to a little piece of heaven called Sweet Avenue Cakes. They will design a cake that tells your love story with their extraordinary attention to detail and dedication to perfection. Sweet Avenue Cakes will bring a touch of sweetness and charm to your special day, whether it’s with whimsical woodland themes or glitzy showstoppers.

Chrissy Cakes 

We have another sweet surprise from the city of Hamilton. The queen of sweets, Chrissy Cakes is able to fulfil all of your wedding cake fantasies. With her artistic flair and culinary expertise, Chrissy will whip up a masterpiece that not only tastes divine but also showcases your individuality as a couple. Trust us, Chrissy Cakes will leave your guests in awe and your taste buds in everlasting bliss.


Sage & Grace 

On this sugar-coated journey, Tauranga is the next stop. You’ll be taken to a world of sophisticated flavours and culinary artistry with every bite. This is my all-time favourite caker on this side of NZ. You must follow their Instagram for a constant stream of wedding inspo.  Sage & Grace is the cakery to go to if you want a cake that exudes grace and charm. These images above will tell you just that. 


Em & Skye

Em & Skye of Wellington is ready to add a little magic to your wedding day. These cake masters have mastered the technique of fusing flavour and design to produce jaw-dropping works of art. Em & Skye will completely mesmerise you and your guests with their whimsical creations and bold colours. Additionally, they provide bespoke designs to satisfy your most extravagant cake fantasies. 


The Cake Eating Company 

Now, we’re off to Christchurch, where The Cake Eating Company reigns supreme. These cake maestros are true artists, crafting cakes that are almost too beautiful to eat (almost!). From delicate hand-painted watercolor designs to intricate sugar sculptures (check out that monstera stencil! The Cake Eating Company will create a masterpiece that perfectly complements your wedding vision. Trust us, your taste buds and your eyes will thank you!  


Weeping Willow Cakes

Ah, Queenstown, the South Island’s crown jewel. This breathtaking location demands an equally breathtaking wedding cake, and we know the perfect bakeries to make that happen! Your go-to place for mouthwatering, picture-perfect cakes is Weeping Willow. They will produce a cake that is as lovely as Queenstown itself thanks to their attention to detail and commitment to using only the best ingredients. This team will turn your cake fantasies into a reality, whether you want rustic naked cakes or lavish tiered creations.

The Country Cakery

With their exquisite designs and mouth-watering flavours, the Country Cakery will tug at your heartstrings with their exquisite designs and flavors that will make your taste buds sing. With a dash of romance and a sprinkle of elegance, you can count on Nadine to create a cake that is an expression of your love story. From the first bite to the last, your guests will be transported to a world of pure culinary delight.

So, dear couples, as you embark on this sweet journey towards your big day, remember that your wedding cake is more than just a dessert — it’s a symbol of your love and your style. Let these talented cakeries work their magic and create a cake that will not only tantalise your taste buds but also capture the essence of your love. I hope these amazing cakeries make your wedding day a truly delectable experience. Happy cake hunting, lovebirds!

Related Article: Decadent chocolate cake with butterscotch frosting

Your Virtual Kaikōura Tour Guide

As the late great George Michael once said, “Turn a different corner and we never would have met’,” which is exactly how I feel about Kaikoura.

How To Get Here

The best way by far to arrive in Kaikoura is by train. The Coastal Pacific goes between Picton and Christchurch, sadly only three days a week now. But when you arrive at the Whale Way Station (cracks me up every time), you’re right on the beach. Otherwise it’s a drive from the closest airport, Blenheim, or Christchurch, or get the ferry to Picton from Wellington.  

How to pronounce “Kaikōura”

It’s not Kai-kura or Kai-cawra, it’s Kaikōura – just the way it’s spelled with a long “o” which is what the “ō” means.  Although as Brett Cowan says: “Hey, I’m not about to correct anyone – although the local primary school kids might correct me!”

The corner in question is under the rail bridge on your left if you’re driving State Highway 1 south from Picton and for years I hurtled past it on my way to or from other places.

Until a pal visiting from England (remember when that happened?) came to stay, regaling me with stories from her Kaikōura stopover.

“And then the bus driver said, ‘Climb aboard, my little mermaids’,” she laughed. “Me and my 86-year-old cousin in wetsuits after swimming with the dolphins! Can you imagine?”

Swimming with dolphins? Yes, I had imagined it. Many times. I just didn’t know you could do it in Kaikōura.

But turn that different corner off the highway and it’s a whole new world. First there’s the compact main street with its shops and cafés and council building shaped like a cray pot. 

Follow the road past the curving beach and stick with it for a few minutes as you pass a historic pink cottage, the remnants of old whaling stations and finally come to a car park overlooking a seal colony at the tip of the Kaikōura peninsula. Yes, it’s a peninsula. I mean, who knew?

Not me, until 2017 when I made my first dedicated trip to this precious gem of a coastal town (population 2,400) and discovered that Māori legend has Maui using the peninsula as a foothold to brace himself as he pulled the North Island out of the ocean. 

So without Kaikōura, Auckland could be just another suburb of Hobart. In which case, it’s a big old ngā mihi, Maui. Or kā mihi as they say down here.

On that first trip, I quickly found myself doing my own unlikely mermaid impression with Dolphin Encounter. And boy, did we encounter dolphins. Not one or two, or a dozen, but hundreds. I’d been reluctant for aesthetic reasons to don a wetsuit but I could not get into the water quickly enough to swim with these magnificent creatures. At one point I looked down, making the recommended nonsense noises through my snorkel, and there were seven of them circling playfully in layers below me.

Naturally, I cried. Misty mask aside, who wouldn’t? It remains one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had. And I went back last year and had it all over again.

But 2020’s been a different beast and, worried about how this beautiful place was faring without all those lovely international dollars (thank you COVID), back I went.

“Yes, we’ve taken a hit,” says Lisa Bond who’s been with iconic tourism business Whale Watch for 25 years. “But people love this place and we’re actually doing okay with domestic.” 

Yes, the Kiwis are coming. 

Well, we can’t go anywhere else but even so, where else can you go where you stand on an empty beach with waves lapping at your ankles and snow-capped mountains so close it feels like you could reach out and scoop the icing off the top of them with your finger?

“That’s exactly what I was just saying to my wife,” said one young Wellington father of two whom I met outside BeeBox Café where I had just decided against buying a cheese scone because it was gluten-free and I’m not. 

It was this Wellingtonian family’s first time in Kaikōura and he was amazed. “I had no idea. I guess you have to come here to really appreciate it.” 

Dan Stevenson from South Pacific Helicopters, which offers fixed wing and helicopter fights for whale watching and sightseeing, says the Kiwis are doing more than just opening their wallets. “Well, they get my weird jokes,” he says. “But also, if they can’t do something right now, they might come back and do it next time.”

The optimism in this town seriously warms the cockles. Dan says the pandemic’s actually given him precious time to think about how to do things differently and Lisa’s the same. She started as a guide at Whale Watch, then became a boat captain and is now marketing manager – but “post Covid we’ve all had to wear many hats, go back to doing whatever. And I think we appreciate each other a lot more now.”

But enough standing around chatting with the locals (although that’s one of my favourite things to do), it’s time to do some actual Whale Watch-ing.

Kaikōura’s sperm whales are not migratory but permanent residents and half an hour out of the marina, we spot Zeus, who gives us the pleasure of his company on the surface of the water, blowing his spray, for a good 20 minutes before rewarding us with an elegant flick of his tail – and he’s gone. 

On the way back to shore, fur seals dived [subs: dove?] gracefully in and out of the water – porpoising as it’s called – startling because they look like such lumps when they’re basking on land. And then there’s those dolphins. (Oh, and did I mention the albatross?)

The reason for this embarrassment of riches is the Hikurangi Trench which comes closer to shore than any other trench in the world forming the Kaikōura Canyon, a year-round food source that fuels this natural wonderland.

Speaking of fuel sources, I could not get that cheese scone out of my head (don’t judge) so after our Zeus experience I got Lisa to drive me back to BeeBox to buy one but – sold out. Lesson learned. If the corner George Michael wants you to turn is a gluten-free one, take it. 

And you should also venture off SH1 to the glorious Hapuku Lodge. If you can’t stretch to staying in their amazing treehouses, you can always feast in front of the roaring fire in their restaurant. This is a very special spot. Oh, and get the crayfish. Kaikōura is famous for them although none of the locals I asked really cared for it. 

Hapuka Lodge
View from Hapuka Lodge

Including Brett Cowan, Cultural Facilitator with the Kaikōura District Council. A member of the local iwi, Brett’s mother was born in Kaikōura but he grew up in Christchurch, moving “home” in 2000, and now bursting with pride in the area and its people.    

“It’s a one-stop shop,” he says. “If you want a lonely beach to read a book on, you’re there. If you want a mountain bike, we’ve got them. You can go snowboarding and surfing in the same day. Do something different every day for two weeks. I think we’ve got it all.”

Including resilience. If locals are stoic in the face of the pandemic it’s because they survived the massive earthquake which hit in December, 2016.

“Two minutes.” 

Those who were there that night all say the same thing with the same look on their faces. Two minutes is a very long time for an earthquake.

But when I ask one operator whose family home was destroyed if he considered moving away afterwards, he looked at me as if I’d just shot his favourite horse. No way. He rebuilt the house, only stronger. “Next time, we’ll be ready for it.” 

In fact, you’re more likely to meet people who’ve moved to Kaikoura since the earthquake. 

Rob Cullen runs the Old Kaikoura Winery restaurant on the cliffs above SH1 just south of the town- and it’s an absolute must. The view is sensational – that comes with the territory – but the food is next level. Stewart Island salmon with locally-picked kawakawa? A chocolate mousse with a chilli bite that blows your socks off in a good way? 

There’s a reason the standard’s as high as those snow-capped ranges up behind us. Rob spent years feeding the Jordanian royal family before bringing his wife and five children back here. There came a day, he says, when he looked around at all that flamboyance and thought: “This is not us. So, now we’re back to basics. This is reality! And if you want a safe place to bring up families, it’s Kaikōura.”

Similarly, I bump into Johnny De Zen, an Australian doing the electrical work on the stunning rebuild of Kaikoura’s Art Deco cinema, the Mayfair. Red-stickered the last two times I was here, he was just putting the finishing touches to this re-born community asset. His pride in the place was infectious and his delight obvious as he talked about swapping his stressful Sydney commute for life here.

“There’s something about Kaikōura that draws people in,” agrees Moira Howard, another import who moved here many years ago after meeting her husband, local farmer Richard. 

I’m lucky enough to be staying in one of the uber-stylish self-contained cottages Richard and Moira have built on the family property, Glenburn. It has that magical Kaikōura combo: wake up looking at the Pacific, turn around and see the sun rising on the mountains. All that and you can cook and do your own laundry. 

I tell them about a woman I met earlier on the beach who’d moved to Kaikōura from the UK two years ago but lost her husband after just a year yet had no thoughts of leaving.

“The ocean,” she told me. “And the ruggedness of it all. It’s an ever-changing world.”

Richard agrees. “I’ve lived here all my life but sometimes I look out the window and go ‘Wow. I’ve never seen THAT before’.”

At Karaka Lobster, north of Kaikōura (spot the stunning cultural art installations along the way), I meet yet another Australian. Zali Thomas moved here with her partner at the beginning of the year. He catches the crays and she serves them from their shoreside café with stunning ocean views. They’re a brand new business and once more that incredible optimism bursts through the COVID bubble.

“We don’t have anything to compare it to but it’s the Kiwis who talk and spread the news,” says Zali, “so we’ve been thinking maybe it’s a good thing we don’t have the foreign tourists because they won’t come back but the Kiwis tell their friends who will. And locals keep coming in to grab a coffee and say: ‘We want to keep you guys on your feet’.”

On a bad day Zali is shifting 10 crays and on a good day 30 but no matter how often – or not – the cash register rings: “We’re just so lucky to have such a beautiful landscape.”

10 Things To Do in Kaikōura

  • Watch the whales
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Spot the seals
  • Walk the peninsula
  • Chat with the locals
  • Get up for the sunset
  • Grab a mountain bike
  • Visit The Mayfair
  • Read a book on the beach
  • Eat crayfish

Where to Stay

Where to Eat

  • Old Kaikoura Winery
  • Karaka Lobster
  • Hapuku Lodge
  • BeeBox Café
  • Kaikōura Fine Foods


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Hairspray is So Last Year, Use These Products Instead 

Have you ever had those days where you spend an hour on heat styling your hair, only for it to come undone within a couple of hours? We have the perfect solution that doesn’t require lacquering your hair in a thick coat of hairspray.

Here are the industry secrets for bouncy, flowy, and long-lasting heated styles.

ghd Curly Ever After Curl Hold Spray 

Despite its name, you can use the ghd Curly Ever After Curl Hold Spray for any heated style. Formulated by ghd stylists and engineering heat experts, this product maximises the longevity of your chosen styles and works as a heat protectant, too. You might as well switch out your regular heat protectant for the Curly Ever After to reach the fullest potential of your hair goals. 

Furthermore, according to consumer testing, 8/10 people felt a difference in the hold of their curls, while 8/10 women also noticed a shinier, healthier result when using the Curly Ever After. 

If you have thin hair that cannot seem to grip a curl or thick and stubborn hair that doesn’t agree with your heated tools, you have to try the Curly Ever After. To use, spray onto the lengths of your hair, brush it through and wait until your hair is dry before heat styling. 

For wet to dry stylers who love a good blow out, the Curly Ever After is a godsend for long lasting bounce!

Hair by Sam McKnight Modern Hairspray Multi-Tasking Styling Mist 

We all love a beachy, effortless and wavy moment. One problem. The nature of this hairstyle requires less heat to achieve, and so it tends to fall flat after a few hours. If you can relate, you need to get your hands on the Modern Hairspray Multi-Tasking Styling Mist from Sam McKnight. 

This product is best for beachy or wavy styles where volume, texture and longevity come first. The Modern Hairspray will give your hair that extra tousle for flirty hair flips and that effortless vibe. It can also double as insurance for meticulously styled updos and perfect for short hair styles. 
Spotted on the set of hundreds of runway fashion shows, the Modern Hairspray Multi-Tasking Styling Mist has become an industry favourite, and for good reason. This product is best used before you begin to heat style, not afterwards. Afterall, this is a modern hair spray. Because this is a multi-tasking mist, this product will give your hair grip and shine for the ultimate lasting waves without the crunch factor.

Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse 

The Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse is for people who prefer to wet-style their hair. Formulated with Living Proofs’ patented ingredient, the Thickening Molecule, it works by attaching thickness and volume to each strand – much like mascara. It is an excellent option for those who need to blow dry their hair before curling. 

You know how second-day hair always seems to curl a little better? Providing an extra layer of hold on super clean hair gives you long-lasting curls that won’t slip away throughout the day. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about the hair becoming stiff due to the touchable and flexible hold you can easily brush out when the day is over!

You don’t need hairspray for long-lasting styles! Ditch the stiff crunch for soft and touchable hair with these products.

Slippers to Rock Day in, Day out

The finest slippers have the ability to make any gloomy day enjoyable. They not only guarantee that you’ll end the day on a soft note, but they also put a cosy spin on the weekdays if you choose to work from home. 

From slip-ons to moccasins and everything in between, slippers are the ideal footwear to keep your tootsies warm and comfy during the colder seasons – and do it in style. It’s time to ditch those pink bunny slippers and the fuzzy socks with holes in ’em and treat yourself to a pair that will spark joy. 

You may have already found your perfect match, and I’m not one to home-wreck your relationship with your slippers. But I suggest gifting a pair of top quality slippers to a bestie or your wonderful Mum this upcoming Mother’s Day. 

Slippers are highly underrated in the big scheme of footwear and act as a thoughtful gift to your loved one. They’ll be reminded of you each time their toes seek refuge in their snuggly gifts from heaven. Scroll below for our favourite slipper picks that I wish I could own in entirety!

Sheepy Slippers in Moss

Sheepy Slippers in Moss $119.90

La Tribe (who are mentioned a fair bit in this lineup) slippers are well-known for their adorable look, great fit, and quality. What more could you ask for? The Moss La Tribe Sheepy Slipper is a handcrafted 100% sheepskin slipper with a functional rubber sole.

Plush Fur Scuff Slipper

Plush Fur Scuff Slipper $29.99

These beauties are giving off designer vibes despite being less than $30. Slip them on to elevate your home look and simultaneously treat your feet to some seriously soft plushiness. Plus, these come in green and navy too. One pair for you and one pair for your partner, perhaps?

Tarte Moodles

Tarte Moodles $118

If colour is what you crave in life, meet the Tart Moodle collection! Fresh Retro Love and Shelley have collaborated to produce a selection of comfortable wool blanket slippers from New Zealand that are suitable for all seasons! These slippers have plush sheepskin and wool blanket linings. They also come with an added bonus: exceptionally soft EVA foam soles that may be worn both indoors and outdoors. The best part? They’re also completely recyclable!

Double Strap Slipper

Double Strap Slipper $119.90

A fusion of beige plush and open-toe slipper fashion comes together to provide you with the ultimate bed-to-couch-and-back-again footwear, perfect for those whose tootsies prefer the open air. The best-selling Sheepy Slippers are carefully crafted using 100% sheepskin and finished with a hardy rubber sole.

Karen Walker x Classic Crochet Knit

Karen Walker x Classic Crochet Knit $139

The Karen Walker x Classic New Zealand Sheepskin Slippers are handcrafted in Hawke’s Bay by a team of four skilled crocheters using Classic’s 100% New Zealand sheepskin and woollen yarn from Napier-based spinners Skeinz. In case you need some extra ankle warmth, the knitted cuff folds up as well.

Superette x La Tribe Cross Over Sheepy Slipper

Superette x La Tribe Cross Over Sheepy Slipper $119

A round of applause for the snuggliest of all kiwi collabs. Leaving your comfy blankets on colder mornings tends to be a struggle, but at least with this extremely plush pair by your side, your feet can have that extra 15 minutes of snooze time. The crossed straps keep feet well in place and will make it very hard to part ways with them when it’s time to step outdoors.

UGG Twinface Sheepskin Slippers

UGG Twinface Sheepskin Slippers $89

They contain memory foam, are water-repellent, and appear to be the softest booties ever to grace the world, so of course, we’re totally into them. Slide your feet into these Sheepskin Slippers and enjoy the softness and warmth of hand-selected Australian sheepskin. While I don’t own a pair myself, my fellow slipper-lover flatmate does. Since purchasing these, I’d say he spends 90% of his time at home in these guys – and yes, he absolutely wears them out!

UGG Fluffy Slipper

UGG Fluffy Slipper $65

The Fluffy Slippers are the epitome of comfort. The slip-on slippers, made of luscious natural sheepskin wool with a fluffy strap, will keep your feet cosy all over the house. These slip-on Uggs will keep your toes toasty, and the rubber bottoms protect you from sliding around. They’ll also fit with any loungewear combo because they are essentially neutral.

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the amazingness of slippers. They’re the ultimate comfort footwear that can turn a dreary day into a cozy one. So, go ahead and upgrade your slipper game with a stylish and comfy pair that will bring a smile to your face. And don’t forget to share the love by gifting a pair to your bestie or mom on Mother’s Day. Trust me, their feet will thank you! Happy slipper shopping, folks!

Coping With Day To Day Anxiety

Anxiety. It’s something that is being talked about a lot more, especially in recent times – and we’ve all experienced it at various levels during the past few years. We all know how that anxious feeling can manifest itself in our tumbling, turbulent thoughts, and we might also have an inkling of how it can manifest in our bodies.

Anxiety can have very real, physical effects, and it’s those effects – and how our responses to anxiety vary from person to person – that’s an interesting emerging area of study for Kiwi scientists.

Otago-based neuroscientist Dr Olivia Harrison is delving into understanding anxiety, and how different people respond to difficult feelings.

Dr Harrison says it’s important to understand the difference between common, everyday feelings of anxiety – which we can cope with – and the actual clinically-diagnosed condition of anxiety.

“The language can be a little bit confusing,” she says, “because anxiety itself – being worried about something, being anxious about something – is perfectly normal. That’s a really normal response to scary situations. And with the pandemic of the last few years it has been really scary for a lot of people. So it’s expected that we’ll have higher levels of worry and higher levels of anxiety.”

Worry is not all bad. It has served us well, in an evolutionary sense.

“If we didn’t have worry as a society, we wouldn’t survive,” Dr Harrison points out. “It’s what has kept us alive. If we didn’t fear the tiger, then we wouldn’t have run from the tiger. It’s also good to know that it’s okay to feel worry. And especially in the current situation, we’re all going to be a little bit worse for wear.”

Clinical anxiety, though, is different.

“That’s when those sorts of behaviours are impeding your life more. So they’ve become more destructive, and they’re stopping you doing the things you want to do. So that’s where we’d look to step in [with treatment], because those destructive behaviours can be really disabling for people.”

One in four Kiwis is at risk of developing mental health struggles, and anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions, especially for women. But when it comes to managing and responding to anxiety, no two people are the same.

Dr Harrison is interested in how to help those of us who might be more susceptible to moving from regular, everyday anxiety into the destructive clinical anxiety zone.

“I’m really interested in elevated anxiety in the normal population – what we sometimes refer to as the ‘worried well’. So we are perfectly functioning, but maybe have slightly higher levels of worry than your typical person.”

For those people, identifying that – and putting strategies in place to stop anxiety getting out of control – could be a valuable health intervention. What Harrison and her fellow researchers have already uncovered is that those of us who are naturally a bit more anxious might actually be less in tune with our bodies – and in particular, be less sensitive to changes in breathing.

It’s a counterintuitive finding, she says, “because if you’re a more anxious person, you typically think that you’re quite in tune with your body; that you are quite vigilant towards your body. But actually what we found is the opposite: you are less sensitive to changes.

“So you might be concentrating on your body a lot, but actually with those small stimuli that give you sensations, you need a bigger stimulus for you to actually be able to feel it. It might be because we’re operating at a slightly higher level of tension . . . so even though we think we are tuning in, we’re not as sensitive as we think.”

This can cause real problems when we fail to take note of our own anxiety-induced symptoms such as shortness of breath, headaches, gut troubles and more, sending us into a downward spiral of worry-exacerbating-symptoms-exacerbating-worry. But understanding our own tendencies can be helpful, Harrison says.

“I’ve spoken to lots of people about these results and they’re like, that makes so much sense!” she smiles. “It’s definitely something that resonates with people. And just having the words to describe that and to understand what’s going on can be really helpful.”

Harrison is now looking at how treatments such as exercise and anxiety medication may help improve symptom perception, knowledge she hopes will help create innovative individualised treatment plans in the future. And for her, being aware of her own anxiety, this work is quite personal.

“As researchers, we do what we are interested in and what resonates with us,” she says. “I’m aware that I am a highly anxious person. I’d put myself classically in that ‘worried well’ category. So I’m very aware of trying to manage that.”

And what does she say to those who ask for her advice on struggling with day-to-day anxiety?

“I don’t get it right all the time at the moment. Everyone says: tell me how you manage. Well, I don’t always manage. And that’s okay.”

*Dr Olivia Harrison was awarded the 2021 L’Oréal- UNESCO For Women in Science fellowship to help with her anxiety research.

Coping with everyday anxiety: Remember what makes you happy

When times are stressful, Dr Harrison says we don’t have to completely overhaul our lives to feel better.

“The advice I always give is: have a think about what you do in your life that makes you really happy. Start there, and incorporate more of that.

Things we do just for fun are easy to scrub off our lists, she says, but we should do the opposite and figure out how we can carve out a little bit more time to do them, for an easy win.

“Starting with things we’re already doing is really nice,” she says. “It’s not something new. It’s not that I’m going to detox and change my whole lifestyle. Instead, it’s how do I do something I already know is important and makes me feel good. For me, I love baking
and exercise.”

She also stresses that if your anxiety is feeling debilitating, it’s time to seek help. “If it’s becoming destructive, the first step is talking to your friends and family and then seeking more help.”

If you’re struggling and need to talk, call or text 1737 for free any time.

Why Vulnerability Is A Strength

Often, we see the term “vulnerable” or “vulnerability” used in a way that implies a negative connotation. We see it mentioned in a way that implies it’s a disadvantage, or that someone may be an easy target because they’re weak. 

*This is a voiceover created by AI and therefore some of the words or pronunciations may be incorrect. We hope you still enjoy this listening experience

In a workplace, I often find that female bosses try not to tap into their intuitive and emotional side but be more firm and tap into their masculine energy.

Even in my own personality traits, I’ve been told that I’m often direct and confrontational which can come off tough. In learning how to better communicate with friends and in relationships, I realised that there is a real power to being vulnerable in the right situation. It’s easy to try to protect your feelings and come off staunch and un-emotive about particular things, but there’s a real power in feeling your emotions, stepping forward and being honest, unguarded and slightly exposed.

vulnerable woman

What is being vulnerable? According to the book ‘Daring Greatly’ by Dr. Brene Brown, a professor at the University of Houston who specialises in the study of vulnerability and empathy, vulnerability is defined as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”

Vulnerability is a strength in your relationships because it can truly help you to learn more about yourself and your relationships with others. Being able to be vulnerable with yourself gives you the opportunity to work through emotions easier by actually acknowledging them. 

In the past, my general approach to relationships was to be cold and short and try to cut things off if I felt like a person wasn’t 100% interested. With age, time and experience, I learned that by being honest, vulnerable and open with communication, how misconstrued your perception can be. Through the practice of being vulnerable, I’ve seen how it has strengthened my relationships and allowed me to feel more reciprocal and genuine in my connections. 

It’s also increased my self-awareness as it’s made me understand when to pick and choose my battles. It allows you to question whether something is really a problem and if so, how to find a solution to it. Accepting that there is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure in vulnerability is the key.

Based on a psychological study of 1000 patients at the Eugene Institute, they noted that those who were okay with being vulnerable and explaining a perspective had better mental health than those who didn’t. Those who found passive aggression or non-confrontation easier tended to harbour resentful thoughts which skewed their natural behaviours in other aspects of life. The study concluded that those who were okay with being vulnerable were more willing to be resilient in the face of adversity and even went as far as concluding that they were brave in some contexts.

So the next time somebody uses the word “vulnerable” in a negative connotation, I urge you to disagree. Vulnerability is one of the best ways to get to know your authentic and true self – it isn’t a sign of weakness but one of our greatest strengths.

I Am Your Nose

Kia ora! Hi. Over here. Yes, that’s me waving at you from the centre of your face.

I know we’ve had an awkward relationship at times. Like that time I wouldn’t stop dripping while you were trying to impress the school principal and you ended up with snot smeared all over your face. Or that time I seemed to grow much faster than the rest of your features, so I looked like a bulbous growth on your sensitive adolescent ego.

But we’ve grown into each other since then, right? Right?

You see, I’m used to being the one hiding out in plain sight, keeping my talents veiled. But just quietly, I know I’m crucial to your survival, physically, socially and – dare I say it – in love as well.

Let’s start with the obvious. What do you need to live? Oxygen! How does it enter? Through me. Most of the air you breathe enters through my capacious passages. And when I say capacious, I mean it. Some people are surprised when they find out just how far back I go into your head. Those nasal swabs you’ve been having might give a clue. (And that’s only part of the length needed to satisfy me.)

When you breathe, air gets pulled in through the front door – my nares, or nostrils – and into the secret back-party room. Here, the molecules swirl around my architecturally designed interior, a warm, dark space with three curved wall features (the upper, middle and lower conchae, also known as the turbinates). My walls are not just pretty, they’re also the latest in air-conditioning design. They moisten and warm the air so it’s the perfect temperature for gas exchange to occur when it reaches the lungs.

Babies must breathe through their noses – it’s an adaptation they are born with to allow them to breathe and suckle at the same time. But grown-ups can choose whether to breathe through me or my colleague, the mouth. I’d advise choosing me.

Research has shown (I knew all along) that breathing through me lowers your stress levels, helps you sleep, improves your exercise fitness, improves dental health, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart health. I also improve your memory, alert you to dangers, and make you super sexy. Read on.

First, let me inform you of my security features. As your gateway, I’m equipped with the best. Those nostril hairs that you cringe at in the mirror? They’re a very effective broom, keeping randoms where they belong: outside. After that, anything wanting to score a free ride into your body has to contend with a tidal wave of sticky mucus that is constantly produced (a litre a day; more when you’re unwell). Much more effective than sprinklers on a parliamentary lawn. And, of course, there’s the sneeze – my high-tech expulsion device, travelling up to 5m a second, ejecting toxic organisms as aerosols for other suckers to breathe in. (In case you’re wondering, sneeze style is genetically determined.) But should intruders still stick around, immune cells breaststroke through my mucus, eliminating their targets with more efficacy than Navy Seals and none of the toxic masculinity. (Hope you’re feeling better about the snot now.)

I also make nitric oxide, a gas that not only opens up blood vessels in the lungs, making them more efficient, but also may prevent viruses such as Covid-19 from multiplying and taking hold. I’m also exceptionally tidy; the perfect flatmate. The vanquished occupiers are swept efficiently towards the door by the coordinated movements of tiny cilia, microscopic “hairs”. These cuties Mexican wave those who have outstayed their welcome back to where they came from. Hasta la vista!

Speaking of bad smells, did you know I can detect more than a trillion unique scents? Great to make sure you don’t swallow something that’s off, but I am also a purveyor of good taste and – get this – I can detect disease. Sometimes I can smell the early onset of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or someone who’s crashing into a diabetes coma.

My sense of smell (okay, I can’t actually smell, that’s the brain’s processing job, but I pick up the signals) also affects memory. You may have heard that of the five senses, smell is the most effective at triggering lost memories. But breathing through me also improves your recall: associating smells with events embeds them deeply. Memories lead to emotions: that’s why I’m so important when you’re in a place and a smell brings it all flooding back.

Smell is also a key part of what I assess when you meet someone. A person’s smell can clue you into all kinds of things, including your past memories relating to them. Noses also pick up on personal hygiene (okay, shallow, but we all do it), general health, or even if someone’s lying: my temperature increases if it’s fake news. But stress makes me react the opposite way: my temperature drops, possibly because you’re breathing more quickly.

If you’re having trouble finding your direction, I can help. I am a built-in GPS, or rather OPS (olfactory positioning system). As with other animals, humans can navigate along “smell maps” to find their way to things, such as bacon, when other senses are muted. Yes, I know, I am awesome.

My form is also a map of your great-great-great-grandmother’s travels. Did you know that over time, I have evolved into different shapes, affected by such factors as climate change and sexual selection? I am your ancestors’ histories carried on your face. Why would you want to change me?

I know you want to get to the sexy bit before we finish. Have you ever noticed that when I’m blocked, your sex drive is . . . off? That isn’t just due to discomfort, it’s because I play a key role in your arousal. Memory, health, attractiveness, emotion. . . I’ve mentioned it already. But there’s also a mysterious pit located on my septum (the bit of flesh between the inside of the nostrils) called the VNO (vomeronasal organ). It’s rich in nerves and blood vessels, and some scientists think it triggers hormone release when it detects pheromones, as it does in other animals. Unbelievably, this isn’t an area that has been prioritised in scientific research. But the entire perfume industry might be built on it.

So that’s me, the quietly sexy, dangerous and perceptive one. I know you won’t be able to look away, now that you know my secrets. Nice to meet you, I am your nose.

Three Delicious Cocktail Recipes from Good Cocktail Co.

Check out these tasty Good Cocktail Co. recipes below — perfect for the warmer weather on the horizon. WOMAN tried and approved.

Lemon Foam Margarita

Good Cocktail Co.


  • Good Cocktail Co. Margarita Mixer
  • Altos Tequila
  • Garnish with Good Cocktail Co. Chili and Sweet Orange Salt Rim Garnish

Add 45ml tequila and 75ml Margarita Mixer into a cocktail shaker.

Add ice into the cocktail shaker and shake well.

Strain into a glass full of ice.

Garnish with Good Cocktail Co. Chili and Sweet Orange Salt Rim Garnish!

Cosmo Fizz


  • 45ml of Absolut Vodka
  • 75ml Good Cocktail Co. Cosmo Mixer
  • Good Cocktail Co. Berry and Lime Rim Garnish

Build all elements into a highball.

Garnish with Good Cocktail Co. Berry and Lime Rim Garnish and dried boysenberries or grapefruit.

Classic Mojito


  • Havana Rum
  • Mojito Mixer
  • Mint
  • Good Cocktail Co. Passionfruit and Ginger Rim Garnish

Add 45ml Havana Rum and 75 ml Mojito Mixer into a highball glass.

Add mint and ice into the highball glass.

Garnish with Good Cocktail Co. Passionfruit and Ginger Rim Garnish and a sprig of mint.

Related Article: A Passion To Do Good: Daily Good’s Impact On Rural Fijian Women

If I Could Change the World

Life can be tough at the best of times – and we can all agree that these are not the best of times. But three Kiwi women are doing their bit to help save the world – or at least their corner of it – in very different ways. SHARON STEPHENSON sat down with them to find out how they’re making a difference.  


Not all heroes wear capes, this we know. Some wear leggings, singlets and jandals.

It’s the most comfortable clothing when you’re rescuing dogs in 40 degree heat on the streets of Bali, admits Alanah Dalton who founded the charity Sari the Bali Dog in 2016.

When we speak, Alanah has just come back from saving a dog that was about to be eaten.

“The dog meat trade is Bali is illegal but it does go on,” says Alanah. “Someone told us the dog meat people were coming for this dog so Gusti, a lovely Balinese man I work with, rescued her. She’s the sweetest dog and we’re about to get her sterilised so hopefully she can be re-homed.”

The Indonesian island is now home for Alanah, 45, who first visited in 2005.

“I went on a day trip to Ubud and saw a mural which turned out to be for a dog rescue. Back then there weren’t many people doing this kind of work and there were so many dogs needing help. What I saw at that centre moved me to tears.”

Having graduated from Canterbury University with a law degree, Alanah was busy climbing the career ladder in Christchurch’s IT sector. But after that holiday, her thoughts kept returning to the plight of the Bali dogs.

She returned several times over the next few years, her suitcase bulging with blankets, towels and toys for the dogs, along with money she’d fund-raised. Each visit would be spent volunteering at the charity.

“My house in Christchurch was badly affected by the quakes so in 2015 I sold it, put all my stuff in storage and decided to travel for a year, firstly to Bali for four months then to Cuba, Mexico and Europe.”

However, Alanah was offered a full-time role at the charity and stayed. “I was happier volunteering than I had ever been in a paid job. I would go home at night sweaty and covered in dirt and blood from things like pulling maggots out of a dog’s wound. It was totally unglamorous but I loved it.”  

It wasn’t long before Alanah began fostering street dogs, including a tiny bundle of brown and white fur she named Sari. Her charity, named after that dog who’s now eight, is focused on rescuing and rehabilitating the street dogs she finds in her travels or that come via Gusti who’s been feeding stray dogs for years. 

It includes getting animals the vet care they need, fostering them, helping them find homes and fundraising mainly via social media.

As if she didn’t have enough on her plate, in August this year Alanah and two friends – a fellow Kiwi and an Australian/Balinese woman – started another charity, The Undateable Bali Dogs, to provide a refuge for the kind of older, disabled dogs who often aren’t winners in the adoption lottery.

Online work for Kiwi companies helps to pay the rent  and Alanah is about to launch a business offering products for both children and dogs that she’s hoping to launch in New Zealand. 

“Everything I do is about teaching people how beautiful these animals are and how to care for them.”

Despite some of the horrific things she’s seen, Alanah admits that the “hundreds and hundreds” of dogs she’s helped over the years are what keep her going.

“I’ve seen dogs deliberately slashed by machetes, ropes embedded in their necks and faces eaten by maggots. But they’ve done nothing wrong and I can’t close my eyes to it. If I don’t help them, who will?”

Although a return to Aotearoa is on the cards one day, for now Bali is home. 

“People always say, the dogs are so lucky to have you but I’m the lucky one! I’ve gotten so much more from the dogs than I’ve given them because they’ve taught me patience and generosity. No  matter what happens they still trust humans. But most of all, they’ve taught me never to give up. Many of these dogs have been through horrible things but they keep fighting every day to survive.” 



Five years ago, while writing about Hawke’s Bay eateries, I met Gretta Carney (Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi), naturopath and founder of Hapi Organic Cafe. 

When I told Gretta how much I liked her cold-pressed turmeric tonic, she gifted me several bottles, along with so many loaves of seedy bread and pottles of cashew cheese I was in danger of overshooting the luggage allowance on my flight home. 

That’s just the kind of person Gretta is. Anyone who knows the 48-year-old knows of her generous spirit, of the way she shares her passion for food as medicine with whoever is fortunate enough to fall into her orbit.

From a central Napier cafe that marries healthy with cool, Gretta’s team of 15 turn out chipolte tofu tacos, vegan mac ‘n cheese, organic miso and paelo bread, washed down with cold pressed elixirs and nut mylks.

Much of the produce comes from the 4ha organic farm on the outskirts of Napier Gretta shares with her children Orlando, 22, Esadora, 13, and Vida, 11. 

“We’re about providing fresh, flavourful, nourishing food that supports well-being and promotes a sustainable approach to food and business that benefits people and the land,” says Gretta.

It’s not just a line, polished to a high sheen for media: Gretta has lived experience of how nutrition can have a huge impact, having used it to solve her own health issues of epilepsy and depression.

Her story begins in rural Hawke’s Bay, on a beef and cattle farm not too far from where she now lives. The eldest of three children, Gretta had her sights set on becoming a lawyer and started a law degree at Victoria University.

But while managing her epilepsy, which appeared at puberty, and subsequent depression, she became interested in the impact that food and the environment had on her health.

“I was told I’d be on epilepsy drugs for the rest of my life. But I knew I didn’t have to accept that diagnosis, that I could fight for my own health.”

She spent her 20s gathering as much information as she could to heal herself (she’s been free of both epilepsy and depression since 1997). 

Around the same time, Gretta realised that she didn’t actually want to be a lawyer so switched her focus to a theatre and film degree where her classmate was Taika Waititi. 

“When I finished my degree I took off around the South Island for a year and then headed to the Arizona desert where I had my epiphany.”

That would be her A-ha moment among towering cactus in the Sedona desert, the wellness capital of the world.

“I had a profoundly spiritual experience where I understood that healthy food was where my future lay.”

She returned to Wellington and started The Organic Catering Company with a neighbour, feeding and watering high-profile clients such as the Green Party.

When Orlando was born with significant health issues, Gretta once again switched tack, this time  researching how food and the environment – particularly eliminating toxins such as industrial cleaning products and pollution – can impact ailments such as autism, asthma and eczema.

“I did biomedical analysis, started studying bio-dynamic agriculture, which takes a more holistic approach to growing our food, and qualified as a naturopath.”

By now back in the Bay, Gretta juggled raising children with policy work at Te Waka Kai Ora, the national Māori organics association. “That allowed me to combine my passion for food and work as a naturopath with connecting with who I am as Māori.”

Despite having a CV free of hospitality roles, Gretta decided to channel her love of food into feeding others and opened Hapi in late 2015.

While it proved hard yakka – “I didn’t pay myself for years” – Gretta is proud of the wellness hub she’s created.

“I could tell you 50 stories of how whole, organic food has helped people’s allergies or physical or mental health issues. Creating the space for clean eating that supports our health, the kind of food  our ancestors have eaten for centuries, can be a cure for many ills.”

Next up for the dynamic wellness crusader is expanding her online offerings and supplying consumers directly with produce from growers.

“That allows us to support local artisanal food producers and bypass supermarkets.” 

And when she’s not doing that, Gretta is focused on her side hustle, growing Kai Co-op, a project involving cooking classes for rangitahi (youth) that sends them home with a box of ingredients and recipes so they can recreate the dishes. 

”Our food system is not something that needs to be reinvented or re-imagined, it just needs to be remembered. If I have learned one thing in my journey it’s that the answers are always simple. He kai he rongoā, he rongoā he kai.”



Ever since humans learned how to pack a suitcase, mankind has been on the move. Some people relocate in search of work or economic opportunity, to join family or to study while others move to escape conflict, persecution or natural disasters. 

According to the United Nations, more people than ever live in a country other than the one in which they were born: in 2020, for example, the global number of international migrants was estimated to be 281 million, or around 3.5 per cent of the global population.

If you’re one of them you’ll know that every move necessitates a laundry list of items to sort out, from getting the kids into schools to finding a place to live and opening a bank account. 

Aucklander Bridget Romanes has been on the frontline of global moves many times, having ping-ponged between Auckland, India and Singapore. 

So helping new migrants settle into Aotearoa seemed like a natural fit for the 57-year-old former diplomat. 

In the time-honoured tradition of seeing a gap in the market and and going for it, in 2016 Bridget became what she calls an ‘accidental entrepreneur’ when she started Mobile Relocations, a business funded largely by employers that helps newcomers settle successfully in Aotearoa.

“It’s in the interests of a healthy society that new migrants can settle quickly, make friends and become part of the community,” says the mother of three adult children. 

“It also works for the employer who has seen the value of bringing talent and their familes from offshore to New Zealand and has invested a lot of money doing so. Not only do they have a duty of care to those employees they also need them to be happy so that they can deliver, because if people can’t settle they may leave and that’s a huge amount of money wasted from the employer’s perspective.”

Bridget, who landed a coverted role at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade after finishing a politics and economics degree at Otago University, was posted to India in 1991. She loved the diplomatic and trade aspects of the role, and enjoyed travelling around the sub-continent, but found one aspect of her three years at the NZ Embassy in New Delhi particularly hard.

“It was probably the biggest challenge of my life learning to be a minority in a country. I had to learn to fit into their world rather than impose my world on theirs.”

So too when she was based in Singapore working on the 1999 APEC summit and had 21 nationalities in her office.

“It taught me how to work in a different cultural environment and how to be effective and respectful in that enviroment.”

If I could change the world

It helped that Bridget had grown up with a travel-loving father, Wally Romanes, who climbed the Himalayas with Sir Edmund Hillary and started NZ’s first adventure travel company. 

“We always had lots of interesting people from India, Nepal and Germany at our house.” 

Bridget brought all those strands together for Mobile Relocations which today employs 20 staff around the country who do everything from pick up new arrivals at the airport to help them find a  gym.

Success came early, fuelled by contracts with companies such as Deloitte, KPMG and DB Breweries. 

When we speak Bridget is excited about a new initiative, Kiwi Launch Pad, a digital platform for new migrants, which is funded by employers and contains all the information newcomers need to settle successfully in NZ. 

“The government’s visa programme makes it mandatory for employers recruiting offshore to provide resettlement support for people they bring into NZ and the Kiwi Launch Pad provides that information in one place. ” 

Already 2,000 or so migrants are using the portal and Bridget sees the potential to roll it out to  other countries who employ talent from offshore. 

“I loved being an expat but I knew others had a very different experience. Better resettlement help  could have been a real solution for a lot of the unhappy expats I saw. A good resettlement service is like having a well informed friend who can make sure you’re happy and fitting well into your new country.”

*Gretta and Bridget were among seven 2023’s recipients of five-year interest-free loans, mentoring, resourcing and support from Coralus (formerly SheEO). Launched in NZ in 2017, Coralus is global organisation that’s raised $1.6 million to support women and non-binary-led businesses. 

Related Article: How Miriama Smith Learned How to Love Acting

The Importance of a Will for Blended Families

Blended families – which are families that consist of a couple, the children they have had together, and their children from previous relationships – face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning. 

Currently if you die without a will, your spouse will get chattels to the value of the first $155K, then 1/3rd of the remainder, and then your children will get 2/3rds of the remainder.

Where there are blended families, the situation is more complex. Whether your stepchildren are entitled to benefit from your estate will largely depend on whether those step children were being financially maintained (either wholly or partly), or were legally entitled to be financially maintained (either wholly or partly), by you, immediately before your death. We recommend you seek independent legal advice on your particular circumstances.

Glenys Talivai, CEO of Public Trust New Zealand, is passionate about encouraging blended families to consider where they want their assets to go after they are gone. 

“We see the devastating impact on all types of families when people don’t have plans in place, but with blended families in particular, there is an added layer of complexity. You may have a partner or spouse, shared children, or step-children, who all have different interests and needs that need to be considered. This ensures that everyone who relies on you is adequately provided for,” Glenys says. 

“With 65% of parents with children under the age of five without a will, we really encourage anyone with children to get their will sorted, not only to help ensure your children are provided for, but also so that you get to choose who you wish to appoint as testamentary guardian of you children – in other words, the person who gets to make important decisions about your children.” 

Glenys Talivai comes from a blended family herself, so she understands the complexities around this issue. “My husband has children from previous relationships and when we had our own kids, we had an honest discussion about how we would ensure all our children are taken care of through our wills. We took into consideration the assets we both brought to the relationship, the different needs of each child and that our wishes were clearly laid out.”

Related Article: Shelley Katae’s Vision For Home Ownership In Aotearoa

How Miriama Smith Learned How to Love Acting

The passion for acting didn’t come immediately for Miriama Smith. But as time went on, the actress learned how to appreciate her craft.

Miriama Smith has become one of New Zealand’s most sought-after actors, scoring major roles in film and TV including roles on Shortland Street, Mt Zion, and Xena: Warrior Princess.

But the 47-year-old admits she initially did not have a passion for acting and describes the early success of her career as being able to “fake it until I make it.”

“I never dreamed of becoming an actor. At first, I was dabbling in it and tried lots of other things before I settled into acting and decided to take it seriously.”

Miriama (Te Arawa) is one of eight other Māori actors who will be talking about the highs and lows of their acting careers in an event called M9. The event held in Auckland this month is like a Māori TEDx Talk where Māori in various industries talk about their careers and share their stories to inspire others.

Past M9 subjects have included kapa haka, and te reo Māori. The latest instalment will include Māori actors like Miriama McDowell, Ben Mitchell, and Kura Forrester, who will shed light on the profound impact of whānau, marae, hapū, iwi, and other influences on their acting careers while candidly discussing carving a path in the world of film and TV.

Miriama says she can’t wait to share the stage with her friends and acting colleagues.

“This industry is like a village; we are like a whānau. I’m looking forward to hearing other stories and being inspired.”

Born in Rotorua and raised in Porirua, Miriama was a dancer as a teenager and was encouraged to become a catwalk model. However, one of the agents noticed that she felt awkward and uncomfortable on the catwalk and swayed her into acting.

“The catwalk wasn’t really my thing. I wasn’t into standing on a catwalk and having an audience glaring at me. But the agent saw that I was really comfortable in front of the camera.”

Miriama nabbed her first acting job at 14, a commercial for Roses chocolate. Other ads and TV appearances followed, including a speaking role in the cop drama Shark in the Park. Despite her early success, Miriama never caught the acting bug. There were other experiences that were more important to her, like going to university and traveling.

“I was restless. I had an itch to see the world and was determined to not be put in a box. I was like a pull in a China shop.”

While attending Waikato University to complete a sports degree, Miriama scored her first major role on Shortland Street in 1997, playing Nurse Awhina Broughton.

“Whenever you do Shortland Street, that’s all you become in people’s eyes. No matter what other roles that I end up doing, I’ll always be known as Nurse Awhi.”

Miriama says that in the 90s, roles for Māori and Pacific women were scarce and she auditioned for and played many stereotypical characters.

“The way that Māori characters were written didn’t feel real. it felt contrived and tokenistic. We weren’t universal and we were put into boxes,” she says.

“I had long hair so I had a niche of playing Pacific Island princess with pidgin English saved by the White man saving us from our savage selves. At least once a year I was always cast as a Polynesian princess and that became tedious.”

With social change and movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, Miriama says the industry is slowly changing and showing more diversity in casting.

“The marginalised have found a voice and it’s happened very rapidly. We have to be real about the fact that we have to share diverse stories.”

After a year on Shortland Street, Miriama travelled the world and embarked on her OE. She returned to New Zealand in 2000 because of the Y2K scare.

“I thought the world was going to blow up. If there was going to be Armageddon, I thought I might as well be at home with my loved ones,” she says, laughing.

On her return, she scored a role on another major New Zealand TV series, Mercy Peak. She reunited with actors that she had worked with on Shark in the Park years before. These actors had found steady work and it was only then when she realised that she could make a career of acting.

“I looked at them and saw how acting could be a sustainable career. I just stuck my toes in the sand and focused on getting more acting work.”

Other major roles followed throughout the years, including main roles on the Australian series Last Man Standing, Power Rangers, and heading the cast of the mystery series, Filthy Rich.

“I was very sure that when someone said to me that I was an actor, I would say I’m Miriama doing acting. I did not want to be defined by profession.”

Today, Miriama continues to be cast in film and TV and she is able to juggle her acting with other work as a yoga teacher and marriage celebrant. She loves the variety in her life.

“I have different networks that push me away from the industry and allow me to have a break. It’s great for the soul.”

Her main focus in life nowadays is her ten-year-old son, Rauaroha. Miriama is a solo mother living in Waihi Beach and she is committed to being a parent.

“He’s my everything. He’s so wise and worldly, and yet in the moment, he’s still my baby.”

M9 is on Thursday 16th November at the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre in Auckland at 7:300pm

Related Article: A Chat With Noora Niasari On Her Debut Film ‘SHAYDA’

This is public interest journalism funded by NZ on Air.

5 Steps To Let Nature Take Over Your Garden

Tidy gardeners, put down your weed whackers and lock up your lawnmowers. It’s time to let nature take over.

Are you a tidy person? I have aspirations but struggle in certain areas – the never-ending pile of laundry, for one. Plus, when it comes to housework, I usually choose garden work instead.

Don’t think this means that I have a spick and span garden though. Clipped edges and freshly cut lawns are my partner’s domain, and there are often robust “debates” over what constitutes a weed after he’s pulled out some little flowering gem that’s had the audacity to pop up in the driveway or on a path.

Gardens have always been at the intersection of nature and civilisation, and some of us like to impose more order over the natural world than others. But nature needs us to let go. “Rewilding” is a type of conservation that restores an area’s ecology – take the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park in the US and beavers in the UK. The wolves thinned out overpopulated elk herds, allowing willow and aspen groves to flourish again, thus restoring habitat for birds. The beavers increase biodiversity because they build dams that create wetland habitats for wildlife.

A local rewilding success story is Wellington eco-sanctuary Zealandia. Since kākā were brought there in 2002, the population has flourished and locals now frequently spot wild kākā in their gardens.

When it comes to restoring biodiversity, our backyards are the perfect place to start.

Grow Natives For Our Birds And Bugs

If you need a reason to go wild, consider that 40 percent of our indigenous plant species, 85 percent of our native lizards and 40 percent of our native bird species are endangered or at risk. Though you’re not going to bump into a kākāpō rummaging around in your leaf litter any time soon, by planting natives you provide food for the locals. Try to eco-source plants, which means choosing species that have adapted to your area’s unique conditions – your council can advise you – and check out the Forest and Bird and Department of Conservation websites for lists of what native plants are on the menu for endemic birds, depending on whether they eat nectar, seeds, fruit or insects or are flexitarians. Try to grow a selection of plants that provide food at different times of the year.
If you have space and live in a frost-free region, pūriri provide fruit, seeds and nectar all year for tūi, korimako, silvereyes and kēreru, and are the host plant of the pūriri moth. For smaller sections, flax and petite kōwhai varieties (such as ‘Dragon’s Gold’) provide nectar for tūi, kēreru, kākā and korimako – and for an all-you-can-eat hedge, pittosporums serve up nectar, fruit and seeds.

piwakawaka in a tree
Embracing a wild aesthetic means leaving leaf litter to rot on the ground and not tidying up too much, so birdlife such as the pīwakawaka have a smorgasbord of insects to dine on.

Trap Pests

Predator control is key to nurturing our native animal species. You may think there are no rats or mice on your property but you’re probably wrong! Rodents, particularly rats, are experts at going incognito, and there are usually one or two lurking about. When it comes to reducing rodent numbers, traps are the most humane option because they’re instant. If you’re squeamish like me, Goodnature’s A24 self-resetting rat trap is a good choice because you don’t have to reset it very often, plus the dead rats are often scavenged by other animals, so you might not need to deal with the remains. Predator Free NZ has helpful information on its website about backyard trapping, including possums – cute in Australia but an ecological nightmare here.

Make Some Mess

Letting go of social conditioning about tidiness is essential for rewilding – and vindication for messy gardeners. Grow a dense thicket of trees and shrubs at different heights to create hunting, mating and nesting places for birds, and allow leaf litter to pile up on the ground. Insects and invertebrates such as beetles, wētā, slugs and worms thrive in decaying organic matter, including piles of leaves and rotting wood, and provide food for insect-eaters such as pīwakawaka and grey warblers. Allowing even just a few corners of your garden to be messy will build up its ecosystem. And if you can’t resist imposing a bit of order, build a bug hotel. Stack twigs, small branches, pine cones, bamboo and broken shards of terracotta – the more varied your materials, the more diverse your guests will be. Put it in a shady spot and see who moves in. Make a home for lizards by loosely stacking heat-generating materials such as stones, bricks and bits of corrugated iron in a sunny spot and add some native ground cover for good tangly hidey-holes. Leave plants to go to seed to provide food for finches and other seed-eating birds. A yellowhammer has been visiting my garden daily to snack on seeds from a dried brown sunflower I haven’t pulled out. Leave saucers of water in your garden so pollinators such as bees visit your garden regularly. Provide stones for them to stand on while drinking, as they can’t swim.

a bee watering hole created in a plant pot with stones
Build up your garden’s ecosystem by growing a range of plants. Create a safe watering hole for bees and they’ll add you to their list of gardens to visit. IMAGE VIA GETTY

Lose The Lawn

The ultimate symbol of dominance over nature, lawns make up around 15-20 percent of the urban landscape but are monocultural deserts of one plant species – the opposite of a biodiverse ecosystem. That means fewer bees, butterflies, moths and invertebrates. A 2018 US study showed that lawns cut fortnightly instead of weekly or three-weekly had the most bees visiting them because dandelions and clover had time to grow and flower but were short enough that it was easy for the bees to access the flowers. So if you don’t want to go full meadow chic, consider mowing less frequently or setting your lawnmower blades higher for a shaggier cut. Or mow pathways but leave areas of meadow either side. If you decide to dig up the lawn, consider replacing it with native trees and shrubs underplanted with ferns and ground covers, or grow food and flowers. Paths lined with bark or pebbles will allow you to journey through the space and also sprout surprise self-seeded plants.

a woman holding a bouquet of wild flowers walking through a field

Ditch Chemicals

It seems like a no-brainer but if you want a diverse range of wildlife in your garden, don’t use herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. As well as harming the life you’re trying to nurture, including your soil biology, they’re also not good for humans. Glyphosate is still widely used in New Zealand despite being banned or restricted in numerous countries and identified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Our government is currently reviewing its use, so its days may be numbered. Also consider replacing synthetic fertilisers, which are detrimental to soil life, with natural fertilisers made from plants, animals or minerals, such as seaweed, manure, blood and bone and compost – and a dead rat or two!


The Queen Of Manifesting: Roxie Nafousi

Roxie Nafousi is a self-development coach, author, motivational speaker and most importantly, a mother.  You have probably seen the iconic little orange book that brought the colour orange back into vogue in 2022.  

Roxie Nafousis’ first book, ‘Manifesting: The 7 Seven Steps To Living Your Best Life’ was the must have self development book of 2022. UK Sunday Star Times labelled it the #4 self help book of the year, while Forbes named her “The Manifesting Queen”.  Exactly a year on and off the back of the success of her first book Roxie has written ‘Manifest: Dive Deeper’.

“All of a sudden Manifest was the book to own and be pictured with, and orange was the colour of the moment”

The practice of Manifesting sits alongside astrology, crystals and tarot cards. These ‘woo woo’ beliefs are being resurrected by the twenty-somethings of today in the hope they start ‘living their best life’, undoubtedly influenced by Tik-Tok. Unsurprisingly #Manifestation has a staggering 24.8 billion views on Tik Tok.  Roxie has expressed her frustration at the practice of manifestation and claims it has been ruined by social media, with people hoping to manifest a dream car or handbag over a purpose-led life. 

Manifesting was first coined by William Walker Atkinson in his 1906 book ‘Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World’ which was then made famous by the popular book & movie ‘The Secret’ written by Rhonda Byrne. William introduced the power of the mind stating “I believe that the man who understands the use of Thought-force can make of himself practically what he will.”

Manifesting, in case you are not a twenty-something on TikTok, is the practice of harnessing positive thinking. Roxie explains that due to quantum physics like attracts like, so high vibrations attract high vibrations back. Roxie believes that due to our brains being able to easily form new pathways we have the ability to override past beliefs, raise our self worth and align our thoughts to create our own reality. 

 “People on Tik Tok say they manifested their Chanel bag. Well, that’s not really what manifesting is about.”
-Roxie Nafousi

Rather than wishing for materialistic items or to win the lottery, Roxie acknowledges it as “a self-development practice to live by, that will empower you to be the best version of yourself and live the best life that you can.” 

Roxie is very open with her traumatic early 20’s that lead to her hitting ‘rock bottom’ and beginning her own manifesting journey. After drug fueled partying, poor self care and suffering from addiction, a friend introduced the concept through a podcast that she credits to saving her life. It is her personal story that makes her methods and teachings feel more authentic, realistic and accessible to anyone. 

“I made a decision that I was unworthy as I was. Of course, I was not attracting anything good. What you will learn from the book is that you manifest your own subconscious beliefs—what you think you’re worthy of.”

Roxie Naoufi’s new book ‘Manifest:Dive Deeper’ delves into the inner healing required to unlock the potential of manifesting and expanding your understanding of the long standing practice.

3 books stacked on top of each other on a white marble table

Manifest: Dive Deeper’ follows the same 7 steps from the original book but provides additional exercises, advice and personal stories from Roxie’s own manifesting journey.  

These 7 steps include: 
1. Be clear in your vision
2. Remove fear and doubt
3. Align your behaviour
4. Overcome tests from the universe 
5. Embrace gratitude without caveats
6. Turn envy into inspiration
7. Trust in the universe

The new year will always bring a feeling of motivation and energy to ‘live your best life’. 

Roxie is not here to say you can vision board and journal your way out of the rising cost of living, but self love, gratitude and having clear goals can go a long way in living a purposeful life this year. 

Manifest: Dive Deeper book cover
Manifest: Dive Deeper By Roxie Nafousi  $39.99
(Penguin Random House UK)

Brave heart, new hope: A domestic violence survivor shares her story

A neighbour gave Amahle the courage to break free from her abusive husband. She shares her story with Fiona Fraser.

The scars aren’t all visible, but they’re there. Amahle* lives with post-traumatic stress disorder, back pain, insomnia and tinnitus. She doesn’t cope well in crowds, is nervous to walk the streets around her home, and fears the day her former husband returns to New Zealand, finds her and potentially kills her.

Amahle is one of the more than 35% of women in Aotearoa who experience violence at the hands of the person they love, and hers is a particularly chilling tale – one she’s courageously sharing to highlight the incredible work Women’s Refuge does.

“They save women’s lives,” she says, simply. “And I am one of those women.”

To tell Amahle’s story, we need to go back to South Africa where the now 50-year-old was a single mum. Raising her four-year-old son alone, she says she was considered something of an outcast, a woman of colour in a country still grappling with racial equality. Frowned upon by her community, meeting a tall and successful man like Samuel* was a godsend.

“I was the black sheep of the family,” Amahle begins. “And when he began to talk to me online, he was just so respectful and kind.”

Feelings blossomed between the pair and they decided to wed. Amahle confides that for her, Samuel – an educated, well-spoken, white South African – presented “a way out”.

“He was the solution to the problem of my being an unmarried mother,” she says.

For the first two years of their marriage, their relationship was peaceful. “But soon he began to insult me, and the controlling behaviour began. I had no say in anything. He made every decision, right down to the clothes I wore and what I put in the shopping trolley. Once, when I tried to choose some diced chicken, that enraged him so much he pushed me and my son out of the car, in the dark, on the side of the road.”

Physical intimidation happened gradually, Amahle says. “He’d start by pulling my ear, smacking me on the side of my head,” she recalls. Then she fell pregnant, and the hitting stopped. “I had three children with him, and he wouldn’t touch me while I was carrying his children – wouldn’t touch me while each of the children were babies. Those were the best years of my life, being pregnant with my kids.”

He wouldn’t touch me while I was carrying his children. Those were the best years of my life, being pregnant

As the children grew, the beatings became regular – and increasingly violent. Amahle says any little thing could provoke Samuel, so she learned to remain silent and stay out of his way. It was only then, she says, that she could rely on a beating just once a week, instead of every day.

“On more than one occasion, he broke my ribs. And if the hiding was intense like that, he’d go out and buy me jewellery afterwards – rings, bracelets. The more violent the beating, the more expensive the gifts.”

He was sadistic, too. “He owned a gun, and one day he shot the family dog in front of me and my six-year-old son, and left him there to suffer. It was absolutely heartbreaking, and I knew he was showing me the extent of what he could do to me.”

Amahle says there was no one to reach out to – no one who could help. “At that time there weren’t any good support services in South Africa for women experiencing violence. I tried to tell my mum, who lived 17 hours away, what was going on – not so much about the hitting, but about the control and the anger. And she said, ‘You know, everyone has problems. Be grateful. At least you have a big house, nice cars and a good life.’”

But that, too, was about to change. One evening, while away on a business trip in Dubai, Samuel sent an email announcing the family was moving to New Zealand. No warning, no discussion. It was a decision that would further isolate Amahle from her already small network of friends and family.


On arrival, the couple settled in Napier and Samuel bought a produce business, in which Amahle also worked. Samuel would disappear, sometimes for a week at a time (Amahle later found out he’d met a woman in Tauranga), but when he was home, life was miserable. The beatings were intense, Amahle says. “It was as if being here brought out the worst in him. He would sidle up to me holding a knife, threatening me constantly,” she recalls, shuddering. “He started beating the children, banging their heads together. He wanted to scare us all. It got so bad I became convinced he would kill my eldest son – so I put him on a plane back to South Africa, to save his life.”

Amahle was home alone one day when her neighbour popped in. “She’d been hearing a lot of screaming, she said, and fighting. She’d waited for a day when his car wasn’t there and chosen her moment. She said she didn’t want to interfere – and to please tell her to go away if I didn’t want to talk. But then she asked me three little words: ‘Are you OK?’ I told her everything.”

The actions of that neighbour sparked a chain of events that very likely saved Amahle from death at the hands of her husband.

First, Amahle and her neighbour formulated an escape plan. “She got two stools from her house and told me to bring the children out to our back yard. She showed us that there was a stool on her side of the fence and a stool on my side and how they could jump over the fence to get away. I packed an emergency bag that she hid on her property, and she showed us how she would leave a window open for us to get in if we ever needed to. Then, I got the children a small mobile phone, and we put her number in it. We gave them a password – if they ever text her the word, she would come straight away. And she encouraged me to call the Napier Women’s Refuge.”

Amahle hadn’t ever heard of Women’s Refuge before, but she nervously made the call. Terrified her husband would find out what she was up to, she was at pains to tell the Refuge staff member who answered how sensitive this was, how frightening Samuel could be.

“I thought I’d sound neurotic, but these were the experts – and she had heard it all before. She was so calm, so helpful, took down my story, arranged to notify Child, Youth and Family [now Oranga Tamariki], and organised for a social worker to visit at a time Samuel definitely wouldn’t be home.”

I thought I’d sound neurotic, but these were the experts – and she had heard it all before

With the support of Women’s Refuge, Amahle’s two school-age children were collected from class to attend their Tamariki programme, and delivered back again before the bell rang so Samuel would never know. “They learned that what was happening was not their fault, that their father’s behaviour was not OK, and what they could do if they were threatened. It really helped them feel safe and secure.”

Amahle – who, as a migrant, was reliant on Samuel’s residency to remain in New Zealand – had assumed she was powerless and could never leave her husband. Women’s Refuge assured her that her safety came first, and residency could come later.

“I also did their women’s education programme ‘Journey to Freedom’, and it was so good I went five times! It taught me to formalise a safety plan and gave me the confidence that one day I could leave him.”

But at home, she was “walking on eggshells. I knew if he had any inkling we had asked for help, he would fly into a rage. And he would certainly kill me.”

In the end, it was the skills taught by Women’s Refuge that saved Amahle. One day, while working together in their small business, Samuel did his best to end her life. Grabbing her by the hair, then the throat, he threw her to the floor. With one foot on her head, he used his other steel-capped workboot to kick her in the skull and body, over and over again.

“I remembered how in one of the Refuge courses I’d been taught that if you just covered your head and played dead, he would grow bored. They’d taught me to practise holding my breath too. So I lay still and I stopped my breathing. And when he gave up kicking me, I just ran – I ran next door to a charity shop. I couldn’t talk from the strangling, but I wrote a note that said, ‘Call police. My husband tried to kill me.’”

Samuel was found, arrested and appeared in court facing charges of assault. But Amahle says, to her horror, he was released on bail, leaving her and the children more vulnerable than ever.

“I was disgusted. Women’s Refuge were right there with me though. They sorted the protection order, found me a new place to live and got me a lawyer. They wrapped me up in care and love.”

Amahle says the police officers assigned to her case were also a huge ally at a dangerous time.

“For two weeks, they were always at my house – just parked outside, or stopping by. Because, you know, he was watching me. He would just turn up and sit outside the house. It was the most terrifying time of my life,” she says, shaking her head.

Although he was convicted and ordered to complete community service – which is a crime in itself, Amahle believes – Samuel was able to withdraw all the family’s money and escape to South Africa without serving a day of his sentence. “He left me destitute. He emailed me from the airport to say, ‘Good luck, bitch. See how you survive with all that debt. I’ll come back for you.’”

That was in 2014. In the intervening years, Amahle has slowly rebuilt her life, sometimes working three jobs to get by. She’s taken more courses through Women’s Refuge to more fully understand the impact Samuel’s abuse has had, she’s completed the pre-entry year for a social work qualification, and is enjoying watching her children grow, safe from their father’s violence. For now.

Amahle says even though he was convicted of a crime, back in South Africa it’s easy to simply buy a new name, a new passport, a whole new identity. Samuel’s already sent messages to Amahle using a different email address – an unyielding reminder of the hold he has had over most of her adult life. “I’ve learned to control my fear,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of work on that, but there are times I still feel very scared. Like now.”

Baking and art are her outlets. “I’m a Good Bitch,” she says, hooting with laughter, referring to the regular baking she does for charity Good Bitches Baking (GBB). Her artwork is also important to her. She donated several pieces to Women’s Refuge and a designed a T-shirt design for GBB in support of the Christchurch mosque attack victims. “How amazing is that!” she says with a grin.

Walking away from her abusive husband wasn’t easy, and Amahle is extremely grateful for the kindness and understanding shown by her neighbour and Women’s Refuge.

Life is far from easy for Amahle, but it’s a darn sight better than it was when she was constantly bloodied, bruised and bewildered, she says. Now, the grandmother of two just wants to speak up – shout her story, if necessary, in the hope it will help others. And she wants to meet someone new. “It’s time.”

No matter what’s next for Amahle, her incredible legacy will be her four beautiful children, who are alive to tell the tale of their mother’s survival.

They have a loving neighbour and the Napier Women’s Refuge to thank for that.

And their mother’s courage.

They’re here for you

Julie Hart from Napier and Hastings Women’s Refuge says Amahle’s story is typical of many migrant women’s experience.

“The women we come in contact with who’ve come here from a range of overseas countries, frequently find themselves with no residential status and tough immigration rules that make them totally reliant on their abusive partner to remain here. Some are also shunned by their own communities if they express a desire to leave their husband or partner. It’s very difficult for them.”

Women’s Refuge whānau support advocates, however, can work closely (and in complete confidence) with migrant women to help them stay in their homes safely, or leave their partner successfully. “We never tell women what to do,” Julie says. “We ask them what they want to do and then help them achieve it.”

Services might include training to support safer interactions at home, installing monitored alarms or security systems, and programmes for children living in a domestic violence situation to better understand and interpret their emotions and responses to violence.

Safe houses are also available for those who need to flee and have few options. “On average, a woman will leave her abusive partner seven times before she leaves for good. And each time they go, they get a little bit stronger, a little more empowered.”

Her message for women experiencing abuse of any kind is to tell someone. “A friend, a family member, a GP, work colleague or neighbour. Seek help, and if at first you don’t get the response you need, keep reaching out until you do. Of course, if you’re in immediate danger, please call 111. And there’s also our free helpline for advice and instant support, 24 hours a day, which is 0800 REFUGE. We will listen, we will help, we promise that.”

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