Hui key to happiness

Miranda Reihana is impressed by the new mirrors in the  refurbished Buxton Square toilets.
Miranda Reihana is impressed by the new mirrors in the refurbished Buxton Square toilets.

Everyday Housewife Harriet Wakefield shares her thoughts on the week past, as relayed by satirist Steve Braunias.


I didn't know Charlotte Dawson, although I saw her once when I was in Auckland. I was in a shop. I saw her walk past. It was only an instant - but with the news of her tragic death, I find myself reliving that moment.

If only I had reached out. Would it have made a difference? I'll never know.

We shared common experiences. I think I was trying on shoes. Charlotte, too, would have tried on many pairs of shoes.

It was a sunny day. Or it might have been raining. Charlotte had also seen many seasons.

Actually, it might have been Susan Wood.

But one thing's for certain. We all must have a national debate about depression. We all must engage in a national conversation about bipolar conditions and suchlike. We all must hold a hui about all states of unhappiness and distress. Only then will we all be truly happy.

Until then, we all must go on Facebook or Twitter, and send a message to people who are mentally ill, and who pose a danger to themselves and others. We all must write: "Kia kaha."

It will lift their spirits - and our own.


New advances in raw food are going to change the way we eat. Auckland-based raw food specialists, Little Bird, heat nothing over 46 degrees in its baking. Excellent. I've always felt that scones came out of the oven too hot.

They also have a very good mail-order service. Last week I bought a $9 nibbles bag containing chia, goji, cacao, and Himalayan crystal salt; it arrived today, and I immediately set to work on a Little Bird recipe for a smoothie.

I used 1.5 cups of nut milk (almond or macadamia work well), one frozen banana, a tablespoon of carob, a hint of vanilla, and two tablespoons from the $9 bag.

My partner Cheng Qi came upstairs with the laundry just as I'd finished making the life-giving drink.

He looked as though he was about to cry when I poured a glass and handed it to him.

"It's very ... brown," he said.

"That's the nuts," I said.


To the National Library, for a full day's research into my biography of an early settler - and one of my ancestors - who I thought went by the name of Te Quentin. But I found documents today which establish that he was, in fact, known as Te Giovanni.

He was a shadowy figure, a restless spirit. He arrived in New Zealand in the late 1830s. He rejected European society, and lived with Maori - in Hamilton, Waitara, Horowhenua, Golden Bay, Waimate and Stewart Island.

Records suggest that he held his hand out at every village he visited. My book will explore the possibility that he was the father of the welfare state.


To the local branch meeting of the Labour Party, where it's confirmed union activist Matt McCarten is the party's new chief of staff.

"Wooh!" someone shouts.

"Alright!" someone else shouts.

Then there's a kind of embarrassed silence.

"Any questions?" asks the chairman.

A nice old lady puts up her hand, and asks, "Does this mean the party is getting more ... political?"

"What do you mean, 'political'?" said the chairman.

"Well," the nice old lady said, "left-wing."

We had an interesting discussion about what left-wing means these days, and then we discussed fund-raising.


New Zealand is overflowing with creative people who have creative ideas.

A follower of my Twitter account linked to a newspaper story about women artists in Nelson, who have transformed a public toilet.

They installed mirror art, and painted the toilet block in rainbow colours.

Inspired, I held a family meeting with Cheng Qi, his daughter Yuk King, my daughter Hinemoa, and my mother, who lives with us. I brought in pots of paint, and paint brushes, and announced brightly, "We'll be spending the weekend in the toilet."

Hinemoa said she was spending the weekend at her father's, and Yuk King said she was going to her mother's. My mother poured another whiskey, and went to her room.

I looked at Cheng Qi. He bowed his head.

Diary of a Housewife, the creation of Steve Braunias, features the satirical musings of two contrasting Kiwi women, Aucklander Danyel Southwark and Wellingtonian Harriet Wakefield.; Twitter @SteveBraunias.

The Timaru Herald