Author in search of exceptional Kiwis

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 12/03/2014
Ben Vidgen
ROBYN EDIE/ Fairfax NZ

ROAD TRIP: Dunedin author Ben Vidgen thumbs his way out of Invercargill as he begins his journey to meet inspiring Kiwis for a book he is writing.

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Ben Vidgen is travelling the length of New Zealand to meet inspiring Kiwis so he can fill the pages of his latest book.

The Dunedin author's hitch-hiking journey continues today as he looks for a ride north.

The author says his latest adventure was about unearthing people who have great stories to tell, rather than unearthing illicit arms dealings and infiltration of the New Zealand Government by international spy agencies, like in his books State Secrets and State Secrets II.

Hopefully, there would also be no death threats as a result of this work, he said.

"I received death threats after the State Secrets books. But they were best sellers," Vidgen said.

The purpose of the trip, which will take him from the southern most point of the South Island to the top of the North Island, was to discover Kiwis who were making a difference, using Kiwi ingenuity to make their communities and their lives better and not waiting for others to get the job done, he said.

"My aim is to highlight the amazing ways ordinary New Zealanders are self-empowering themselves and those around them," he said.

Through the book, he hopes to connect these people and allow others learn what they are doing, Vidgen said.

"I will be experiencing real-life examples of Kiwis making changes in their communities."

Bluff boatbuilder Kevin "Stoney" Bourke was one of the first people he spent time with as part of his journey, Vidgen said.

"Stoney is building a 20-metre, double-hulled, 18-bunk waka to spread an environmental message, aiming to clean up beaches and teach children respect for the land, sea and themselves," he said.

"This has all been done out of his own pocket and is a classic example of the [kind of] people I want to meet along the way."

Hitch-hiking would allow him to meet people from all walks of life and lead to unexpected experiences, Vidgen said.

It would also be safer for others on the road as anyone who had seen him drive would attest, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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