OPINION: Danyel Southwark is an Auckland everywoman with two young children and a husband who has "business interests". And, as a new column starting this week reveals, she also has plenty to say about the social issues she sees around her and happenings in her own life - as relayed by satirist Steve Braunias.
New Zealand, land of opportunity! On the very first day I sit down to begin today's instalment of my new column for the Timaru Herald, I'm shoulder-tapped by Act to seek the party's nomination to stand for Epsom at this year's election.
I said I'd think about it. One thing's for certain. As columnist or MP, I pledge to stand for the things I believe in. Sensible tax policy. Sensible sentencing. But as anyone who knows me will say, not sensible shoes! On holiday in Rome in August, I couldn't resist a totally impractical but extremely beautiful white extreme stretch platform Mia Piaci boots with 20cm heels and front lacing.
My husband said, "How much?"
I said, "195 Euros."
Faster than you can blink, Guy said, "Oh, only $NZ318. Good girl."
He's money conscious, but money doesn't rule our lives. Neither does government! We believe in economic and social freedoms. That includes the right to say what I think. I'm not PC - far from it. That makes me part of the silent majority. But I've had enough of the persecution of silence. It's no exaggeration to say that lynch mobs roam the streets of New Zealand hunting for people who dare to speak their mind.
I have a right to my opinions. They're always backed by facts. Here are some facts about me. I'm just an everyday housewife. I keep myself busy, and fit, at the same time as managing the household. I have two girls, aged six and nine. My husband has business interests in uranium and other things. We love our life. And I heart New Zealand.
There were encouraging signs last week that the smacking debate was back on the agenda, but it seems to have fizzled out already. That's a shame - for all New Zealanders. Since parents were denied the right to inflict small but important punishments, children have been allowed to run wild. You have to wonder whether that's got something to do with the disgraceful episode of the drunk nine-year-old boy at a Hamilton skate park.
I discipline my two girls when they misbehave - and sometimes even when they don't. A gentle tap reminds them of who has the power in our household. Children respect authority.
Charity only goes so far. New research shows that the best way to give to the wider community is to adopt the practice of the "five- minute favour" - an innovative scheme invented by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Adam Rifkin.
Rifkin came up with the idea after observing professionals who were successful, sought-after, and happy. The key to their happiness, he found, was that they routinely did small things for others, free of charge - no cost, no catch. By giving, they felt lighter, more at ease.
It's something I do at least once a day. For example, I'll use a product, and offer helpful feedback. Or I'll "like" something on Facebook, and boost someone's self-esteem. It doesn't require an enormous amount of sacrifice but it can change lives - and improve your own.
Day one of reading Eleanor Catton's novel The Luminaries.
I've been looking forward to sitting down with the novel which won the Man Booker Prize. I watched the awards show live on the BBC channel.
It was a proud day for New Zealand when she won - up there with Lorde, and the Asian girl who plays golf.
But it hardly makes up for the pain of our America's Cup loss in the waters of San Francisco. Guy and I were there, cheering on Dean and the boys to the bitter end. And it got very bitter.
I didn't get very far with The Luminaries.
The nine-year-old was in floods of tears when she read about Justin Bieber's arrest - until I hit on the idea of making a colour photocopy of his police mugshot where he's smiling and looks quite cheerful, enlarging it, and pinning it above her bed. She lay there and stared at it for the rest of the day, refusing all meals.
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