Trigger warning: sexual assault.

I read a good blog on Friday, written by a good man, in response to the Australian court ruling that Gable Tostee was not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of Warriena Wright.

He reflected that the rape culture that is ingrained within our society and the way women and girls are treated means that Gable Tostee will likely seek out another date this weekend – to add to his spoils. And the irony is, that while his ‘not guilty’ verdict has resulted in a few days of social media frenzy, in general our countrymen don’t particularly care about rape culture or do anything to challenge it. Yet women and girls are suffering from sexual assault and harassment every day, and growing up with major problems of self-loathing, depression, unable to trust or bond with men.

So then, here is my version of ‘I know a woman….’

I know a woman who was constantly tickled and fooled around with as a small child by her uncle. Her parents and grandparents thought nothing of the attention he gave this wee girl. She felt uncomfortable. One day her uncle caught her alone outside, and molested her. She was too young and scared to know what to do. 8 years later she told her mother. Her mother believed her. But as her uncle was unwell by this time, and his wife was much loved by the family, it was decided by the adults to let the issue rest, and not confront him.

I know a woman who went with her family on a church camp at age 11. She was excited to be hanging out with the young people rather than sleeping in her parents’ cabin. But the older girls and boys played ‘dare’ and forced her to kiss a boy. She didn’t want to wimp out but she didn’t want to play this game. So they mocked her and she felt violated.

I know a woman who grew up in a rural area and went to a small country school. One of her male teachers used to call her up to his desk and make her sit on his lap behind the desk, where he would molest her, although the whole class was working away in the same room. She was terrified but had no idea what to do. She hated school.

I know a woman who was raped as a 13 year old girl in the hay-barn by an older boy. She never told anyone. But she wore concealing tops and jeans, and lectured her daughters in later life about their clothing, telling them that men’s lustful thoughts were the girls’ responsibility for having caused. These daughters grew up with feelings of confusion and shame about their bodies.

I know a woman who went to her school ball at age 15 and danced with a boy she liked from school. During the walk back from the supper provided in the library, they found a quiet place to hide and make out. She was happy and excited that he liked her. Things got hot and heavy and she gave him a blow job. The next day at school, all the students laughed and made gestures at her as she walked to classes, because he had told everyone. Unfortunately he wasn’t interested in having anything more to do with her, but her new reputation stuck for the remainder of her high school years.

I know a woman who went into town during the school holidays to do some shopping. A couple of older boys (strangers) walked towards her on the street and were calling out and leering at her. She avoided their gaze and kept walking, but as they came alongside her, one reached out and grabbed her breast, before continuing on walking down the street laughing. She was shaken and upset, and went home and told her parents. They rang the police but nothing could be done because the young men couldn’t be found around the shops, and she didn’t know who they were.

I know a woman who came home from her first year at university and partied with her old high school friends. At a party where serious binge drinking was going on, she was completely wasted and headed to the toilet to vomit. After spewing she came out to find a male friend waiting for her. He guided her into the bathroom, found a toothbrush for her to use, then lowered her to the floor, where he had sex with her. She was barely conscious and unable to resist. Then he went back out to the party.

I know a woman who has sons and daughters. She loves them and wants them to grow into good people, who respect others and are respected in return. She watches closely when family friends are around who like to play rough’n’tumble or tickle games, and often intervenes. She tries not to be over-protective of her teenage girl, but has already taught her about dressing appropriately around older men. She teaches all her children that No means No and they must feel able to say No when they don’t like something, and stop doing it if someone else says No. She fears for their future, growing up in a society so effected by rape culture.


I don’t normally do this, but this is a trigger warning if you have had your own experience of abuse. I feel compelled to provide this response and reaction to the furor surrounding the acquittal of Gabel Tostee. Gabel Tostee will try and find another woman this weekend. I know a […]

via Gabel Tostee will try and find another woman this weekend — First We Take Manhattan


First We Take Manhattan

“It came so fast and so unexpectedly, the ferocity of what happened … and the fact that it continued for quite a number of days and there was no respite from the floods.”

“You’ve got to admire them, their places are wrecked and they’re still smiling, even though it’s a sad smile.”

These are two quotes from New Zealand ex-pats in the reporting about a natural disaster in the Pacific, though not the one you’re thinking of; these quotes are from the aftermath of Cyclone Daphne’s close shave with Fiji in 2012. The commentary follows an eerily similar pattern to what we should all be familiar with from Cyclone Pam:

  • the indigenous population are a faceless collective, their suffering defined by the number of deaths and generic full colour photos of suffering and loss;
  • the ex-pats (here’s a fascinating Guardian article asking why colonial nations are ex-pats not immigrants) dominate…

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This Friday it is 175 years since the initial signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, on the lawn in front of James Busby’s house in Waitangi. As I sit in front of the whare tupuna at Whareroa Marae, Tauranga, with my students of Te Wharekura o Mauao, I can’t help but question what exactly there is to celebrate on Waitangi Day, and how much further we need to go as people of this land, to restore our relationships to those anticipated by the rangatira to signed that document.

Our Wharekura is beginning the kura year with a noho marae, to promote Te Kotahitanga (unity) between the new students who have enrolled in 2015, and our existing whānau. My group is fortunate to be able to stay at Whareroa Marae on the shores of Tauranga harbour, the ūkaipo of Ngāi Te Rangi, and the hapū of Ngāi Tukairangi and Ngāti Kuku.

In Tauranga today, tens of thousands of people are lucky enough to have secured property with views of our beautiful mountain, Mauao. Standing at the entrance to the harbour, Mauao provides a commanding presence across the whole of Tauranga Moana, and both long-term residents and the constant stream of new migrants to Tauranga seek to buy a piece of land that looks out to Mauao.

But the whānau of Whareroa Marae, who live at the base of mountain on the inland side, and for hundreds of years have lived off the land and sea, cannot even see their mountain. Thats because in the 1940s and 1950s, the Crown compulsorily acquired hundreds of hectares from Ngāi Te Rangi to build the Port of Tauranga and the airport. A huge fertiliser works towers above the marae, completely blocking their view of the maunga that is a mere 4.8 kilometres away.

Looking out from the marae ātea towards the water, the cranes of the port, the Mount motorway bridge, and the Tauranga Marina crowd out the landscape. And to the east, airport lights and warning posts signal the loss of that huge expanse of whānau land, confiscated during World War One for military purposes, and never returned.


It is impossible to look at the physical environment here, and not weep at the immense loss of this community, thanks to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the conscious acts of successive government officials and local authorities to strip away Ngāi Te Rangi’s birthright, in order to develop the economy of Tauranga. During the Waitangi Tribunal hearings process, local iwi spelt out the devastation that these successive land and foreshore confiscations have rort on their wellbeing. The recent settlement of their Treaty claim cannot possibly restore to these people their rights and resources.

As New Zealand takes a moment on Friday 6th February 2015 to remember the ‘birth of our nation’ 175 years ago, please spare a thought for our indigenous peoples who have lost almost everything as a result of that document, and it’s interpretation by the Government ever since.

Don’t ask me to celebrate. I am nowhere near ready.

zoom strip

It’s the third term at Wharekura and I have been struggling to work out how to tackle this term’s NCEA assessment task with my Tau 11 Whenua/Hītori students.
Sure, the fact that I am likely to be the only kaiako hītori in Aotearoa who is teaching their Taumata 1 NCEA tauira about Te Riri o te Pākehā ki Tauranga Moana as the historical context for their NCEA assessments. Certainly there is absolutely no history textbook for the 1864 battles of Pukehinahina, Te Ranga, the raupatu o Tauranga Moana, the Te Puna-Katikati Purchase and obstruction of surveying, leading to the Bush Campaign of 1867.

So I have struggled to find a way to prepare my students for undertaking their ‘demonstrating understanding of different perspectives’ using two of the key leadership figures during the period 1865-67, of Sir George Grey & Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipipi.

Yesterday I came across Istvan Banyai’s ‘Zoom’ book, which has been reworked as a YouTube clip and is a simple yet incredibly powerful tool to convey the questions of perspective, context, ‘bigger picture’, assumptions to students. To begin the lesson, I printed off A4 copies of the first few pages of the Zoom book, and cut out circles in A4 card, which I attached on front of the images. Each student had one ‘peep hole’ version of a Zoom picture, and their first task was to think about what the complete (largely hidden) picture was, and to draw it. It was hilarious to see how the tauira had interpreted the wider context of the small section of the image they could see.

Then we watched the YouTube clip, and they were incredibly engaged, guessing ahead of time what the next ‘Zoom’ would reveal, laughing when they were proven wrong. I asked them at the end, what struck them in particular. One of my female students said “our assumptions were way off!” They totally grasped the issues of perspectives being influenced and shaped by what we can see through our lens.

So then we did an exercise of ‘Zoom’ing back from ourselves as individuals, using a series of concentric circles. At the centre, the students placed themselves, next their whānau and closest friends, then our Wharekura, then Tauranga Moana as a community, then the Bay of Plenty/Waiariki region, then Aotearoa as a whole. and finally the World. They spent 30 minutes writing who they were as individuals from the perspective of each layer, absolutely absorbed in their work.

Finally we did the same exercise for Sir George Grey, considering the perspectives on him from his parliamentary colleagues in the fledgling Pākehā government, then the Auckland Pākehā settlers, New Zealand’s settler colony as a whole, and the British Empire.

For me as a kaiako, today’s lesson was a success because my tauira ‘got’ the kaupapa ako I was trying to develop with them, in a way that I could never have conveyed just talking about perspectives in an abstract way. By beginning with a visual medium and then encouraging them to analyse their own life from increasingly wider contexts, I am so happy to say I have crafted a lesson that teaches perspectives in history. Go ahead, try it yourself!

I read this list of 10 Habits for Happy Couples today, but the original article had diabolically shocking photos of skinny, soft focus, white, heterosexual couples only, which almost ruined the awesome advice within.  (You can check out the original article here:

So my dear husband has amended the article to include some better photos 🙂


Dr. Mark Goulston is psychiatrist, international speaker, and best selling author. He also happens to be an avid blogger. His post 10 Habits of Happy Couples, has been read by over half a million people.

Regardless of the state of your relationship, Dr. Goulston provides some interesting insight on the 10 habits that will allow you and your loved one to keep the magic going.

#1. Go to bed at the same time. Remember the beginning of your relationship, when you couldn’t wait to go to bed with each other to make love? Happy couples resist the temptation to go to bed at different times. They go to bed at the same time, even if one partner wakes up later to do things while their partner sleeps.

#2. Cultivate common interests. After the passion settles down, it’s common to realize that you have few interests in common. But don’t minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy. If common interests are not present, happy couples develop them. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own; this will make you more interesting to your mate and prevent you from appearing too dependent.


#3. Walk hand in hand or side by side. Rather than one partner lagging or dragging behind the other, happy couples walk comfortably hand in hand or side by side. They know it’s more important to be with their partner than to see the sights along the way.

Couple walking side by side by Cambus bus stop at the University of Iowa in Iowa City with woman wearing North American flag shirt and partner with REI backpack and holding each other the way couples often do.

#4. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode. If and when they have a disagreement or argument, and if they can’t resolve it, happy couples default to trusting and forgiving rather than distrusting and begrudging.

Kia ora - Hello!

#5. Focus more on what your partner does right than what he or she does wrong. If you look for things your partner does wrong, you can always find something. If you look for what he or she does right, you can always find something, too. It all depends on what you want to look for. Happy couples accentuate the positive.

A couple dances to the sounds of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Party Band at an Independence Day celebration at the International School of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 3. The MarForPac Band was in Mongolia sharing their time and talents with the Mongolian Armed Forces Band and held several free, public concerts.
#6. Hug each other as soon as you see each other after work. Our skin has a memory of “good touch” (loved), “bad touch” (abused) and “no touch” (neglected). Couples who say hello with a hug keep their skin bathed in the “good touch,” which can inoculate your spirit against anonymity in the world.










#7. Say “I love you” and “Have a good day” every morning. senior asian couple laughing and talking (©

#8. Say “Good night” every night, regardless of how you feel. This tells your partner that, regardless of how upset you are with him or her, you still want to be in the relationship. It says that what you and your partner have is bigger than any single upsetting incident.


#9. Do a “weather” check during the day. Call your partner at home or at work to see how his or her day is going. This is a great way to adjust expectations so that you’re more in sync when you connect after work. For instance, if your partner is having an awful day, it might be unreasonable to expect him or her to be enthusiastic about something good that happened to you. 

#10. Be proud to be seen with your partner. Happy couples are pleased to be seen together and are often in some kind of affectionate contact — hand on hand or hand on shoulder or knee or back of neck. They are not showing off but rather just saying that they belong with each other.

Happy couples have different habits than unhappy couples. A habit is a discrete behavior that you do automatically and that takes little effort to maintain. It takes 21 days of daily repetition of a new a behavior to become a habit. So select one of the behaviors in the list above to do for 21 days and voila, it will become a habit…and make you happier as a couple. And if you fall off the wagon, don’t despair, just apologize to your partner, ask their forgiveness and recommit yourself to getting back in the habit. If there was one key to happiness in love and life and possibly even success it would be to go into each conversation you have with this commandment to yourself front and foremost in your mind, “Just Listen” and be more interested than interesting, more fascinated than fascinating and more adoring than adorable.

Modern Learning Environments.