Blog 055 Children of New Zealand Vulnerable No Longer – Part Two

In conjunction with the release of the well-informed Ministry, Oranga Tamariki comes the privately funded care and advocacy service, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. That provides children with another advocate where they are not sufficiently being listened to or being consulted within the ministry. The idea was proposed at a dinner regarding philanthropic support, governmental support, judiciary support and most significantly the support of care and experienced children. It was set out so that the children of tomorrow, or in actuality it is the children of today, would be able to benefit from the knowledge that no budget cut, no policy change, no political shit storm would change the nature of the advocacy service. that most importantly, the voices of young people would remain the highest priority. That in itself is an incredible thing.

Last Saturday, the 1st of April 2017, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai was launched in Auckland, New Zealand, at a privately owned venue called Woah! Studios. Which I won’t go into too much detail symbolically but it is important to mention that it was started by a man who had this crazy idea to transform a broken down warehouse into an incredible landscape architecture with a functioning auditorium that could seat a few hundred people. Analogically, it could be compared to VOYCE, as being something that has transitioned from being a broken down system and taken into becoming something beautiful, something with momentum and something with a huge capacity and most importantly function.

The launching of VOYCE –  Whakarongo Mai means that where the Ministry for Vulnerable Children fails to act within its duties to keep the interests of the child at the centre of everything, they can be disputed by law. Part of the process of creating the new advocacy service was designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development. that it was recognition from a governmental point of view that as a system they historically have not done enough to protect the interests of thousands of children in care. That the previous organisation, Child Youth and Family, failed on many occasions to deliver a service that was designed with children at the centre. That the previous system introduced time and time again these patch job excuses, 14 times to be exact over a period of 20 years, rather than stepping down from the horse, recognising that there are significant problems that need to be dealt with from an overhauled perspective, giving the reigns back to the people, as a democracy you would expect that sort of provision in the first damn place, and then finally being consistent and transparent in the service they are providing thousands of children in care.

It’s incredible to see that after such a long time ministers and people in authoritative positions have failed to see how blatantly obvious our problems as a country actually are. That power and money time and time again have been considered more important than human life. That we as a nation have one of the worst track records in the developed world for child abuse both sexually and circumstantially. That as a people we must take responsibility forever over the life interests of our youths in the care of oranga Tamariki. This is the call to arms that has been sent out from last Saturday. That every child under the care of the new Ministry, Oranga Tamariki, be hailed as one of the most significant pieces of change ever made in New Zealand history.

A bit of NZ history. In the early 20th Century, NZ was the first country in the world to allow women voting powers within their elections, then there was the recognition of cultural significance by making Maori officially recognised as one of our national languages, then there was the implication of legalising gay marriage in 2013 which inspired other countries to follow suit, now finally is the implication of a ministry designed for kids, by kids with an advocacy service that returns the Mana of a child back to the child. Mana, meaning power/authority over one’s life. That as a country we are leading the path to kicking ass when it comes to not only our scenery but by recognising that we have a huge problem with looking after our kids. The new advocacy service provides a culmination of years of hard work from amazing people within the new organisation, to the amazing commitments made by philanthropic and corporate entities. Their involvement in the process is truly incredible.

It’s funny that we talk about businesses having a major stake in the procurement of the new advocacy service. It sparks a light in the eyes of right-handed conservatists who think that these businesses have an interest only in profiting from the sustainable image of publicly showing that they care about children. But they do care. In the last few years, these corporations have come to grips with the recognition that there is more to business than money. That their investment in children sparks a trust that encourages leadership development for tomorrow’s voices.

When I took part in a hackathon last year, aimed at the research and creation of a digital platform that children within the care of Oranga Tamariki would be able to connect with the people behind VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. I was placed in an environment of mixed opinions. Some people were aware of the changes to the ministry, others not so much. It was a huge challenge to many who were there from the various tech departments who had the right heart for the job but didn’t hold the necessary knowledge to be able to tackle such a massive issue, giving a clear path for children in care to be able to have a voice. It was a huge learning kerb for me personally because it meant that I had to be a dynamic part of the change giving my accounts to these people in order to expose the severity of misguided opinions. That the most important thing was knowing that some people, while they themselves are really educated in the normal way of understanding kids in care, that the whole normality was actually the thing in question. That the normativity that had been prescribed to the old ministries way of dealing with things was completely out-dated and utterly misguided. That the next was to finding a positive medium, and that was a huge eye-opener for everybody at the hackathon which was truly a blessing in disguise for me to be a part of.

 

If we can imagine, that in 20 years, that there are no children in the care of Oranga Tamariki. I just want to point out that this is completely and utterly beautiful. This was the goal set out by the new chief executive of Oranga Tamariki, Grainne Moss. Whose primary target was understanding the needs of young people in care and pro-actively creating a New Zealand without any children in care? That is a pretty fascinating reality. The most impressive part about the entire idea is that with the new ministry, Oranga Tamariki, and the new care advocacy service VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai operating in a functional way, that this idea can seriously become a reality, to a bare minimum take the number of kids in care down from being 5500 all the way down to less than 50. Then that is something I can be proud to have been a part of.

End.

Below is the link to the VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai interviews with the Youth’s who made it all happen.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. Our Rights

Blog 054 Children of New Zealand Vulnerable No Longer

Last Friday, March the 31st, was the last day that Child Youth and Family ever existed. It sparked the newly designed Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Vulnerable Children to be launched. I thought it significant to make mention of the entire process of creating this new ministry. As is how it will change the course of historic dealings with the vulnerable children of New Zealand that is actually meaningful in some way. In many ways, this chat is an account of how significant this new ministry is from the perspective of a care experienced individual. My own experience is what have given me the incentive to advocate for the youth of New Zealand.

My experience with the system began when I was eight months old when I was taken out of the care of my parents. I was fortunate enough to be taken in by an incredible family who has been able to provide me with the most significant opportunities that any child could have possibly received. At the age of twelve, I was legally given the right to accept adoption as a means of my care and I’ve never looked back since. So that’s pretty cool. But what wasn’t cool was the consistent losses of the voice of children in the care experience. Fortunately, the social workers that looked after the younger me, by reports from my parents, were actually pretty cool. They were the right people for the job, who understood and respected my own culture on the basis of my Maori background but my social workers also placed me with my biological aunty on my dad’s side. So that’s pretty cool too.

But my story is not all great and glamourous. At the beginning was the fundamental basis that a traumatic situation had occurred where I was taken from my parents. That no child should have to experience that level of severity. But I guess where it becomes more serious is the idea that many children do not nearly get the same level of luck that I had. To land with people who were able to project the highest level of opportunities imaginable is truly a miracle. To have been provided with simple basics such as coming home to a loving, caring home that has the strategic expertise to respond to any situation that could have possibly come up. Such as providing me with opportunities as I was growing up to meet my biological parents, to meet my biological sister. To have those connections made was of huge benefit to me, even if I rejected them. They allowed me to move on with my life and not become restricted or constrained without some kind of idea of what happened when I was 8 months old that warranted being taken away in the first place.

Collectively, my experience in the system was pretty good. I was given the right social worker who cared and understood my own personal needs. I was placed in a home that had everything necessary to be humbler and honest and be loving and caring in a way that grew me into the person I am today. I was also given the opportunity to mend broken bridges within my biological family, and lastly, I was provided with the education to be able to go and find out more about my family and find out what the world looks like. The entire story finishes where I acknowledge my step mother for being the one who curated my entire life story thus far, having given me the education that is so intertwined with the person I am today, and giving me constant reason to grow and to fight my battles from a mature and intelligent way, even when there are spelling mistakes.

When you boil it all down, even through my story, the fact is that I was taken away from my family. Regardless of how amazing the recovery is, I have learnt that it is simply not good enough. Those other children shouldn’t have to be lucky in order for their experience in care to be successful. Every child should be given what I was given, at the bare minimum. They shouldn’t be abused, throw around like a rag doll and stigmatised as a vulnerable child. They should quite simply be consulted by the right social worker who provides the child with a voice that they can trust will give them hope to one day reconnect with their parents or at the bare minimum be given peace of mind that none of what happened was in any way their fault. That the child can grow up with a fair understanding of what happened and can happily move on with their life. Period.

So the newly constructed Ministry Oranga Tamariki is a breath of fresh air for an old child like myself. Having been a part of the creation of this whole network designed for children like me of tomorrow. I was head over heels when the network was released. The bi-monthly meetups of our youth advisory panel existed to keep every single bureaucratic member within the Ministry of Social Development and beyond to keep the thoughts and the Mana, authority over identity, with the child at the forefront of the entire ministry. That no adults opinions would ever overrule the needs of the children. At a basic understanding that the ministry would be designed to work ‘with’ children, not ‘for’ children. The hugely massive distinction being that the decisions made would be primarily focused on ensuring that children were being consulted about the choices made for them so that they never ever felt that it was their fault. That they never blamed themselves for the shortcomings of adults who knew what they were doing. A system of macroeconomics where one decision for legislative changes affected the incomes and socio-economics of thousands of families. Where small decisions make massive changes on the well-being of your everyday person, huge consequences can sometimes cause massive impacts on how people manage themselves. A system of inflation, whatever the reason might have been to lead my parents to not successfully being able to look after me to the degree that was needed when I was eight months old. It is simply not good enough.

One of the major changes implicated by the new ministry is that the complaints system is made more abundantly clear. That a child would have a clear pathway to contact Oranga Tamariki, who would be urgently accountable regardless of the significance of the complaint, that the child would know that they have rights in the first place. A previously unrecognised problem is that so many youths, including myself, were not aware that we even had rights. More important measures included youth justice. In the case of youth justice where a person who has been in care would be understood rather than empathised with in a degrading manner. That an advocate would be present at the time of the police officer making an arrest of a child, or where not possible, police officers would be made to understand the voices of youths from care experience so that they, the police officer themselves, would actually be the child’s advocate, would treat the child as if they were their own. That the police officer would be present throughout the child’s entire remand. That they would be present during the entire process to remind all other adults, the child’s parents, a judge, everyone would be aware that this child has a story, that they are being listened to, that they are not the only one who made mistakes. That this would help enrich the child who is in question to grow within themselves, that their support grows also and treats this child as a taonga, a precious treasure. This validation would give them the tools and the knowledge to feel empowered by a figure that usually looks intimidating but instead comes down from its high horse to give these children the understanding that they deserve.

A complaints system that recognises the rights of children in care. A new insight into how children are taken into remand within the new youth justice system. Staff who are more accountable for the decisions made for the child. The last biggest change to Oranga Tamariki versus the previous network includes transition funding. That the new ministry funds children in care from the age of 17-18-years-old. A massive game changer that recognises that most of the children in care do not have financial guarantors who can sign them a lease to a new home, can give them financial literacy like understanding IRD, paying taxes, gaining a passport, applying for a university. All of these micro-dimensions were intimately checked over by the voices of young people like myself and were raised long ago by previous youth advisory panels to help the new ministry grow and to provide a service that more effectively deals with the needs of children who are taken away from their families. that they are given the tools needed to get to where they need to go from a governing body that actually gives a shit.

Beyond the care and experience within a new children’s ministry exists the support of engaging with all New Zealanders. That iwi and government both acknowledge that our country has a problem with child abuse.

That each and every person in New Zealand is responsible for the shortcomings of children within the system who have been dealt a bad hand by the adults who raised them up, but also from a government who is responsible for looking after them. This issue was most notably raised when the Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Bill English when he was present last Friday, the 31st of March, at the launching of Oranga Tamariki. That he spoke with us regarding the entire ministry trying to listen to our voices, trying to take on the significance of the new ministry. And that in itself is evidence enough that this is a change which is necessary. More importantly are the voices of young people who are and have for years been looking for the help that they deserve. That they are no longer vulnerable children but children of us.

End.

Below is a link to my interview with the media regarding the coverage of the launch of Oranga Tamariki.

My interview on Stuff

As always 😉

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 053 Sex Before Marriage!

Today I want to talk about something really interesting. Something that will undoubtedly get me into some degree of trouble and likely some degree of grief. Sex before marriage. The concept isn’t a religiously favourable one. At an emotional level, it is seen as one of the deepest forms of trust and solidarities a person can offer. The emotional connection, the spiritual exposure. Sex is a way of letting somebody passed your walls and into a space of trust and expectation. It hinders your ability to be a rational person. But is it as important as the religious authority would have you believe?

Today I want to talk about this because sex before commitment is something I think that everybody should experience. To be able to protect themselves from making mistakes, to have the wisdom to be able to grow and know their limits. To experience and have an informed opinion about so that they can define the distinction between sex and love. To be able to know what love looks like and how it differs from the lustfulness of a child without boundaries. That when the most formal commitment in life arises, marriage, that the person would be well-informed enough to know when the other person actually cares about them, to know when the other person respects them enough to treat them properly. To have that connection and to know the needs of the other. That if it doesn’t mean enough they will be able to make the informed decision to care bout themselves more than the needs and physical lusts of the other.

At the end of the day, how can we possibly know the answer to a question if we haven’t experienced it yet? We have to go out, make mistakes, get hurt, and learn from those experiences to understand what sex actually does to us. An expression I could use is that it is almost like trying a spicy food for the first time. There is so much division in the world and it is sad that we can’t come to terms that some people need to experience these things to learn and mature from them. Vital learning kerbs all avoided because of bubble wrapped social ideologies.

From my experience, growing up with the expectations that most people my age when I was sixteen were already getting it on. It is unavoidable, the pressure that others would create when they would ask questions like, “have you done it yet?” The over sexualisation of kids on social media at the time was already drastically worse than the generation that came before us, the first millennials.

Heading into high school knowing sure well that statistically more than 30% of year tens openly admitted to having had sex. More than 50% in year eleven, and more than 70% in year twelve, admitting to having had sex. The majority of the boys would have been towards the contrary, having being allowed the right of passage when it came to socially accepting sex as being something cool and something only the popular were doing. It was cool. But come to think of it, I know that most of those kids were probably talking shit. It made no sense for most of these kids to having had sex in the past. Not to any capacity, it seemed unlikely. For some, it was a right of way but for others it seemed like a bargaining chip that was used just to increase a person’s social status so for me to say that I was confident that most people were shagging at a young age, those of you who are highly anti can rest assured that this definitely wasn’t the case.

But what does it matter? How do the decisions of others affect your way of living? Let’s fast forward to the life of a 19-year-old student living in a student accommodation block surrounded by beautiful people, all of whom are completely allowed by law to do with their bodies however they please. At this age, it is even more acceptable to do with your body as you please. So acceptable that it’s almost unacceptable not to have. The reason I bring this up is because most forms of religious marriages don’t occur before 20, and if they do then it’s honestly just an excuse for the latter or a difference of opinion.

It’s a huge mistake to think that religion or Christianity is an excuse to treat others like they are not in control of their own body, or even their own wairua, spirit. I can understand from a mother or father’s perspective. Their little boy, their little girl, their child having practicing sex with another person. The natural inclination to prevent and protect. To only have accepted the idea of sexual interaction far beyond the point of marriage. To accept the idea only when it becomes socially normal. Such an unrealistic expectation to have, especially when so many people are doing it all the time.

But the point is beyond the views of a parent or the views of a 19-year-old student. The point is that there are so many people trying to control the way people should go about using their own body. I think that people should be allowed the opportunity of experience. I think they should be given the right to do whatever they want to do regardless of its consequences. But particularly the idea of having sex. The experience is arguably an important one because it teaches people to know what the difference is between loving somebody and being manipulated for sex. That the answer is kind of backwards trying to figure out who a person might be and what spiritual needs that they hold.

Learning about what love is for me is really a vital stage in figuring out who I am as a person but also appreciating other people’s relationships and how amazing they are as examples of how to manage when everything turns to custard. But also learning to appreciate the love that your parents have for you. To learn to appreciate how incredible the love for you must have been when you were born. To be able to learn from the most barbaric means and to grow and adapt as a person who understands what it means to love and to be loved is actually pretty awesome.

Blog 052 The Way People Learn

Everybody learns differently, it’s not a case of one size fits all. It’s quite often that some ways will clash and that its harder for some people to learn. I was quite pissed off the other day when I went into a class expecting the teacher to be able to teach me something, only to find his teaching method to be really rushed and the way that he teaches to be really difficult for me to learn from. Hidden beneath the reams of paper he would hand out to the class, the pointless readings and the code words for certain lessons, I found myself confused and even though I spent the following two hours beyond the lesson just trying to understand what the heck this guy was trying to teach. I still found myself struggling to get the concept.

My angle is this. You go into a class expecting to be facilitated for your lesson. To expect that you will be able to understand the material taught to you regardless of how complicated it might be. To assume that you almost knew nothing when you walked into the class, to walk out at the end of the semester having benefitted from the teachings and the course content. What I hate is that this just isn’t a reality for me all the time, and yes I confess that I may not be a genius. Although why it is true that I might not be the future Elon Musk or the next big thing, I can’t begin to assume that 7 billion people on this planet and I would be the only one to struggle in class even having gone over the relevant material. So what is that I’m missing?

From time to time students and teachers alike have made reports of struggling with learning or teaching the information. They have reported that it has cost time and money for them to get to class and that sometimes it’s impossible to do so for whatever reason, and so they have missed the classes altogether. So it has dawned on me. The expectation that we are to attend classes, that we are to go to school and learn from the confines of a giant concrete building at the top of a hill, may be precisely why it is hard to learn sometimes. That we are restricted in our ways of learning and not given the opportunity to grow and experiment with different ways of learning.

I’m eluding to online learning. Call me crazy but it must be hard to come across a single University without an online forum to collect information in 2017 regarding variously taught materials or to gather extra information about a topic. It must be hard to find in today’s climate a network strategy about going about an exam or learning a lesson that is not already online at any one point. What I am confused by is the lack of online encouragement from a universities perspective to give us the tools and knowledge that we need to succeed within a class so that we can actually gain something from spending our time and money for 12 weeks of a course.

I struggle to comprehend why we cannot learn everything that we need to know through simple online tutorials, lectures and other abiding material essential to the final examination. That it makes absolutely no sense that we have to get our sorry asses up out of bed at an ungodly hour of the morning, waltz to the top of a hill only to arrive at a lectureless lecture and no time to piss around.

But then I had a realization. The realization that there is actually no point in having a physical campus. That the entire system is intrinsically flawed. That university cares not about our actual learning in the long term but that they can get away for years of our lives having dealt out time schedules, moderators and finally an A4 sheet of paper bullshitting us that we have actually learnt something but instead have only put up with the bull shit time constraints, cold wet winter mornings waiting for the other poor guy to arrive, and confusion around the actual taught material.

I don’t believe that the current system actually works because it is influenced by big money. It is manipulated to suit the constraints created by a system that is hundreds of years old, and that we are not being given the precise tools that we need to accomplish learning. Do I have to spend ten hours for every one-hour lecture attended just to get it into my “thick skull” that there is actually some life relevance and reliability of the information learned? It seems incredulously irrelevant to create a system that forces people to go higher just to learn in a uni-modal way.  I guess that’s why they call it university…

Onto a more personal note. The grievances created through a system flawed through big money politics, why not give us the tools we need to learn by creating a digital platform that allows multiple forms of learning. Through written content. Through audio diaries. Through digital imagery. Through videos which show the ideas in action. We’re fucking adults. Stop treating us like we need a few more years at high school and give us what we’ve paid for. Knowledge. Nobody should be forced to sit inside on a beautiful autumn’s morning waiting for some guy to arrive and teach in a way that doesn’t suit them. Everyone has good teachers and bad teachers and everyone reports on how they learned more or less based on a teacher’s different way of teaching.

It’s time to react to the way people learn. You’ve already given us an online forum as a source to give us a course outline. But are you that scared of piracy that you think we would be bothered to copy and paste? You’ve already built up massive libraries and on some occasions gave us an online book ordering network to give us the material we need to learn. So why do we still need to spend hundreds on getting our own editions? You force us to buy ex-copies that have outdated information because you out-price us at the thousands you already expect.

A pledge from the everyday student to yours sincerely, it’s time to wake up.

Blog 051 Social Anxiety

By Mana Williams

There is so much clout surrounding youth suicide and the struggle people can have with anxiety. Today’s mellow chat expresses my accounts with anxiety through giving you some insight into my own story. How that relates to other people. In the hopes that I might be able to raise awareness of the silent killer from a fresh perspective. It’s something that we have to actively talk about, because it’s so easy for us as a people to take for granted the thing that hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders face each and every day. It’s so easy for us to fall asleep on the issue. So it’s time for us to wake up again.

It’s quite frustrating when somebody calls you out for being wrong. Whether that’s in class, at a lecture or even something mundane like not having the guy behind you scoff because you dropped your wallet and held up the line in the Warehouse. Visiting places and anticipating that people will rip you out for something can be really frustrating, coming from someone who openly admits to having struggled with anxiety as a teenager. This talk is for those out there struggling with anxiety to better explain from my perspective what it means and how it can be relieved.

Waiting in a long line at the Warehouse to buy my stuff, a teenaged girl in front of me was trying to pay for her washing basket, watching her drop her wallet with all of her bits n bobs coming loose I could see that the tension on her face was building. After she fell to the floor in a desperate panic hoping nobody would notice, she kicked her coins beneath the till where the customer assistant was standing. The panic was evident in her shaking, fumbling around and general unsettledness. But it looked similar to something I had gone through before. Rushing to get passed the transaction counter to be sure not to piss off the people waiting impatiently behind you. Rushing through everything too scared to face the confrontation with another person.

Anxiety is pixelation. A fuzziness of expression that divides our chances of being understood or accepted. The mid-teenaged girl looked like she’d been having a really rough day. She appeared fine on the surface but through the eyes of a guy who was an old acquaintance with anxiety, I could only have felt sorry for her. With the guy behind her scoffing with frustration adding to her problems without considering that she was going through something. It made me reflect on the causes of becoming anxious.

My experience with anxiety came symptomatically from the fear of rejection. An icky mold growing through the seams of an ill-tempered boys mindset designed around the idea that others deserved to have power over me. That it didn’t matter how much suffering you had to go through, the shame of stuffing up was far more unbearable. In the awful circumstance where you might trip up running for the bus, that you might drop the glasses walking to the kitchen from the dining room table at your aunt’s house just trying to be helpful. Anxiety always seemed to prevail.

The inconsistent waves of anxiety in my early years were the result of being taken away from my parents at eight months old and being placed into the care of other amazing people. The natural inclination to be attracted to the ones you’ve been brought up in without ever knowing any difference is the exact feelings which built up over time within my head. Then to have those feelings ripped apart after having being taken away from my parents without being told why then to blame those mistakes on myself was without a doubt the reason why I struggled with the hardship of feeling rejected. That others ought to have the talking stick and that I was always an inferior substance. Somebody who’s opinion never really seemed to matter as much as the next person.

Through the fears and obstacles that I had to overcome in my early years, when I was five years old I remember seeing my mum walking out the driveway heading to see my grandfather. I remember vividly running to the gates and crying uncontrollably until she came home over an hour later. Not having realized that my sister was in the house the entire time in charge of looking after me. In the mind of a young child, these experiences can be really testing, without the capacity to understand why the world is this horrible place and that not everyone is perfect is incredibly sad.

This is only a brief depiction of my story, however. There is no validity in expressing my experience and then asking you to feel sorry for me. The point of this little extract is to help you understand why some people struggle with anxiety. By giving my account of what caused me to feel anxious at a younger age and occasionally still today is to reflect on the feeling that there are others going through the same thing. Something as small as paying for a fucking washing basket can create enough grief to trigger a panic mode. That all some people would do is stand there, with their smug faces and scoff at the weakness shown by a poor girl who is definitely suffering through something. It is not good enough.

Anxiety is nobodies friend. Through my own self-growth and development of confidence over time through getting the support of those around me, I was able to overcome the deep anxieties that I was suffering through. Extremely lucky in hindsight to have had those voices advocating for me. For those people to stand with me and actively raise me up was a humongous relief effort that likely would not have given me the confidence to write these blogs.

It’s honestly as simple as appreciating the work somebody else has done in a way that is genuine, in a way that captures their attention so intimately that it makes that person who is struggling with anxiety to stop for just a moment. because that’s all it takes to save a life. That’s all that it takes to prevent a person from going off the rails. When they know that there is one person standing in front of them who genuinely cares about the work that they are doing. That can be sufficient enough to inform them that they are valued in some way that makes them want to be an actively contributing person who can carry on that legacy and continue to help others who have been down in that place where nobody likes or ever deserves to go.

It is as simple as saying “good work” or “well done you’re amazing.” Especially if you are someone of authoritative status, which to a person struggling with anxiety everybody is a person of anxiety, even if you were the guy standing behind the girl in line at the warehouse. If you could just lend a hand, ask if the person struggling is alright, if they need any help, that they are appreciated in some way, anyway at all. The smallest contributions to an ever anxious society is an abundant source of joy and fulfillment.

That’s all it takes man…

Blog 050! Who doesn’t like Sleeping In?

By Mana Williams Eade  15 Minutes

So today I slept in. Missed my morning class, missed a non-important hand-in session, which sucks. Missed the five milk-bathed weet bix that were on the menu for breakfast, such a travesty. But even after this whole ordeal, I could still describe how I feel in three words. “I don’t care.” In today’s wee blog lets chat about how important it is to take time out for yourself when everything all gets a bit panicky and gross. When you’ve got a mountain load of work in front of you and only a coffee mug of motivation. When you can’t be bothered because you haven’t given your brain the food that it deserves.

Who came up with this thing called sleep? 

Sleep is for the weak, apparently. We all need roughly 6-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per day to function correctly. That’s what we’ve been told by our teachers, that’s what our parents said our whole childhood, that’s what the professors at Harvard University said so it must be true right?

They all keep saying that this small sleep period, based on scientific evidence, proves that our bodies need REM sleep in order for our circadian rhythm to be healthy and let our body function properly. Such as sending the right chemicals to the brain, make sure our immune system is well balanced, basically reset our day. All of this information tells us one thing. That we only have half of our day to do shit.

So what’s your argument Mana? 

What if relaxing our brains improved our sleep quality and occupied less sleep time? No, I don’t mean pills or coffee, I mean real tangible fulfilment in doing something you really enjoy and are able to find a balance and manipulate so that you don’t have to sleep as much each day.

I’m referring to “YOU-TIME”.


The time of your day where you put aside the few notifications that are important but actually when put down on a piece of paper and perspectivised could actually be solved in 20 minutes or an hour later rather than right now.

I hate the idea that something is due and I haven’t done it, out of the fear of failure and the fear of shame. These are real emotions for me. When somebody tells me that there was something due mid-lecture that I didn’t know about, panic is a relaxed way of putting it.

When I woke up this morning it was a process of thinking why it really mattered if I missed breakfast if my assignment couldn’t be done in twenty minutes time, why I was so super stressed and only seconds into my new day.

All of these cocktail-party professors force these daily living schedules onto us so hard that they crush the shit out of how people live their lives. You can’t do this, you can’t eat that. Everywhere! It’s like we subscribed to wives tales just because the wife has a PHD.

The marketplace even takes grasp of this stuff. Promote the use of the word “organic” or “homemade” and “gourmet” then up the price of something by 30%. It’s all a big scandal and I won’t be able to expose it in one 1500 word essay styled blog piece.

While many things are true, that we should sleep, that we should eat food, that we should allow our bodies these natural resets. It shouldn’t be pressured down on us to live our lives orientated to one grumpy guy’s expectation. Power is something that we give to other people, right?

So it shouldn’t be too much to ask then to have that power back. It shouldn’t be too hard to say you took time out for yourself when people ask why you didn’t do something. When you think of the shame, it’s always in your head that maybe if I didn’t sleep enough last night then that is why I wasn’t on-time. That it was because I had poor routine skills that it wasn’t handed in.

My argument is that there are so many people out there driven by the fear of failing. The idea of shaming themselves in public or at school or within their social circles. My point is that taking time out for yourself is so much more important than anything else.

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Above fig.  WHATMANASEES Instagram

Example Time.

Imagine if you failed everything. Imagine if you slept in because you wanted that extra hours sleep, or even two hours sleep because you knew in yourself that your body wasn’t ready for it physically, and you weren’t ready for it mentally. That you missed your 50% course contribution assignment hand-in without late exceptions, that you were an hour late picking up your grandparents from the airport, that you missed having breakfast with your loved one before she flew away to a different city in the morning.

Imagine if all that shit happened. You failed your core-course, your girlfriend is upset with you for the next month while she’s in a different country and your parents won’t look at you whilst around the dinner table because you left nana and grandpop in the rain at gate three, Wellington International Airport.

What sort of shame would bear on your shoulders? Would you wake up that morning, look at your cell phone and have a mental breakdown? Because I know I would. It’d suck majorly. I’d probably compose myself and act like it’s all okay when deep down inside it’d be killing me the vision of my grandmother looking around for me in the rain, cold, searching for my car to roll up. Or my girlfriend, waiting at the coffee shop, trying to get me over the phone. Or the invisible clock on the hand-in box via the University server ticking over 9:01 am.

In my head, i’d be dying to know how to change it all, how to make myself feel better about stuffing up so massively. So much so that I’d probably down on myself for a while. So much so that it’s probably going to change the way I talk to my friends, my best mates. That I’d probably call them out for doing really small things wrong, that I’d probably stress even more when the next occasion arose where I was late again.

What does it all mean?


It means that in my opinion, nobody likes to feel shame. Nobody likes to feel the guilt associated with stuffing up. It affects the way we engage with the ones we love because we make the assumption that even under the most extreme circumstances we assume they’ll never be able to forgive us for what we did, but they will… People recover…

One of the strongest human characteristics next to blaming someone is forgiving them for it. Forgiving you for taking time out for yourself. We get it, things are tough. As long as I take ownerships for my lateness, take ownership for the mistakes I’ve made, email the course coordinator and tell them I was a bit late in completing my assignment, that I was up all night writing my blogs, doing what I love and so I slept in and couldn’t make it in time. Under the most extreme cases, these justifications won’t result in the loss of your life. Nobodies going to die. The truth is everybody likes to sleep in. But it’s time taken out for you to do what you want to do and not living to a socially barricaded way that matters most.




That’s another thought from my day. This is my 50th daily blog, which is halfway to one hundred! Happy days mate. There’s so much more coming and I’m really excited to share them with you! I’ve thought about applying to Salient Magazine to become a writer, which is Victoria University of Wellington’s local magazine, which is an outfit run by students just posting political and other interesting pieces. Will keep that in mind and will think on it over these next few weeks.

And as always!

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 049 Student Debt. (Something that a student doesn’t like to see)

By Mana Williams Eade   10 Minutes

Money is horrible to think about. It’s not designed to be saved. It’s never nice to run out of and is constantly used as a way of defining happiness. To cut to the chase, today’s chat looks at student debt, and how it’s not a sustainable option over short or even mid-term. To share my opinion of student debt and look at other students views on the elephant in the wallet.

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There’s just so much clout surrounding the expenses that so many students are forced to take out. We all know how hard it is to save up to pay for University. It’s not even a reality for the majority of people out there. When labor work fails to pay upwards of $20 an hour, a barista, a trolley boy, a hotel valet, a petrol station assistant, a library worker, a carpenter, a painter.

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At over $8,000 per year alone, a full-time year in an architecture degree at $20 an hour before taxes equates to 400 hours of work, minimum. Which at full-time rates, 40 hours per week, is a minimum of 10 weeks of work. Which doesn’t sound like much but that’s without being able to afford that coffee, those shoes, that car, and that life that you’ve always wanted to have.

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A lot of people are under the impression that student debt is what causes students to be poor, and while that’s true, it’s something that is so often under looked or unseen. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers when I say that there must be a lot of people out there suffering from the idea that they have a debt the size of a down payment on a house, unimaginable.

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It’s something that I don’t believe we talk about enough. There are so many people going through it with their eyes wide shut. It comes out through frivolous binges on alcohol, clothes, useless knick-knacks, and I’m a classic example of that. Going all out on a weekend “Bender.” The student world is full of spendthrifters who love to binge on things unneeded.

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Can we please take a few minutes to elaborate on the pointlessness of student levy costs. Wellington University has four campuses which all operate in accordance to their different faculties, true. But their cleaners, real estate, operational costs, insurance costs are all paid for through our student levy bills, which for me this year was around $700.

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But why do we need physical campuses still? With online communications technologies where we can live stream our entire course content in minutes, access an online library, order our books over the phone, live chatting with our tutors, what is the necessity for having physical campuses? With their large lecture theaters, Sushi Shops, Coffee Stores, and carparks.

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University is a big business. Through marketed normativity, it is given the key to our cities, our educations, our social infrastructure. We are made to believe that University only cares about us and our wants for studying but it isn’t. It’s not there to make you rich, its there to make you work, and make a lot of money for the government. That’s why it’s subsidized by 70%.

My Financial Position.

Just kidding, that’s my business. But it’s really saddening that we have to compare and contrast each other’s financial statuses as a means of treating people less than or not equal to another. I don’t care about your financial position. I don’t mean that in a mean way either it’s this way because I understand that it must be really tough for some people and their families to cope.

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That constant nagging and thinking if you could afford that coffee, those pants, this food, that Uber. It’s a stress and it seems to add to a building pressure around late assignments, missing family, social dramas, weather. All of this stuff adds to the growing binge trends and it looks like our leaders really aren’t doing shit about it. I’m not sure about you, but that sucks.

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These bureaucratic establishments full to the brim with suits who were provided with fully subsidized University fees, who were given education free of charge. John Key is a classic example of a person who came from humble beginnings, was given the opportunity to study for free, and then later on in his career use his political power to change funding policies.

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Although John would likely regard it as, “Just a bit of banter, no drama.” The reality is that over a hundred thousand kiwi kids are building debts bigger than a person with two cars, a boat and a kid on the way 25 years ago wouldn’t have had to juggle. The market inflation hasn’t increased relative to living costs, so we’re earning less and paying shit loads more.

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What it all boils down to is the ignorance of a political leadership, the unwillingness to believe that student debt is debt regardless if interest-free or not, and a gigantic business scheme that hasn’t changed in the last hundred years. It’s honestly truly whole heartedly a big waste of time worrying about it all. So I instead encourage you to build relationships with people. Buy your friend something for no reason. Pull out that box of chocolates you’ve had lying around for a while and share the love. Do the dishes for somebody because you know they have something due. Put away your cellphone instead of haggling on about somebodies Instagram filter. Create more meaningful relationships with those around you so that you’re not taken away by the systemic problems everyone is told is “reality.” Realize you don’t need to “harden up.” Because at the end of the day what matters is that you are always loved and that a numerical value shouldn’t define the person you perceive to be you.




 
That’s another chat for you guys. Something that I feel plays on a lot of peoples minds. The urge not to want to speak openly about how they are feeling about the whole situation is really worrying and from what I saw last year with people dropping out, people not being able to afford many things it really hit me that its shit out there and I wanted to share some light on the matter. I just want to re-iterate that this is not to put anybody down about their current financial situation it’s just a friendly reminder that it’s not your fault and isn’t your fault for being there and that there are a lot more important things to put your time and energy into and I guess at the end of the day time and energy are their own currencies, something which students definitely don’t have debt owing on…. So cheers…

Thanks for checking in…

 

Blog 048 What is Architecture – Part Two 

By Mana Williams.  20 Minutes.

It’s such a massive topic. The idea of architecture is a really broadly described term that so often people really wonder what an architect does and what architecture is. Usually, the perception is that architecture is a building and an architect is somebody who designs the thing. But today’s chat we’ll look at how it is so much more than just a sketchbook and a few clunky computer programs, in the hopes that it clarifies to potential architecture students to be aware of what it is and know the road they’re going down, in a non-university like propagandised way.

Let’s get a few things sorted. The first blog chat around architecture (Part One) talks about architecture being a place custom made for a particular circumstance. Designed as a space that could be reflected in its owner or at the very least is tailored to represent a large brand or family name. We also discussed how significant it is that we understand the idea of Turangawaewae or a place where I stand. Architecture could be a place that holds memories for you. Somewhere you could consider as being a special place, a place you go to when you need some reassurances.

So clearly there’s a lot of answers and not a lot of explaining going on, right?

In today’s talk, I’ll narrow it down to how architecture is used as a vehicle for companies to shine out and the similarities between individual ownership and how people act in not many different ways from these corporate entities. In the hopes that a student is very clear about what they are studying and how they understand their market so that they go in with their eyes wide open.

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Above fig.  WHATMANASEES Instagram

My Story.

But to do that we will need a bit of context because everyone loves to facts check. Well first and foremost. I am a second-year landscape architecture student looking at double majoring in both architecture and public policy. It’s quite an odd mixture, but that’s because I’m not your usual lolly. Last year I battled with the thought that maybe all of this architecture work doesn’t really do much in terms of focusing on what matters, like people, family and friends and some of the wider impacts that policy creates.

So that’s me… A self-fueled rocket ship here to take you up and away from the rubbish that other students and the university bubble will tell you.

Money and power are very correlated. Architecture is a way for businesses to showcase the magnificent power that they have in a physical model, in a functioning eco-system of staff, clients and their brand. To create a space that identifies their values and markets their business.

There is also a niche market for people to design homes around the basis of creating structures that they might be able to love. They can also use architecture to refurbish a space and mould it in a way that maintains the existing structure. To be fair, this was my childhood dream. To become an architect and design my own home. I even knew what it was going to look like.

While it’s really cool to aspire to have that sort of dream, to dream in those sorts of ways. There is more to life than a lust for a well-sketched wall bounded mortgage. My challenge to you is to think downgrade. Think about becoming a person who understands and is actively aware on the small details such as there is a massive social decline in the number of homes actually available.

Architecture is historically a profession that benefits privileged people. People with a lot of money to accommodate their grand ideas and their huge aspirations, not dissimilar to the likes of mine and yours. But does that really warrant a three storied house with five bedrooms and three garages at the top of a lofty mountain? Not really…

Architecture is a process designed to benefit people with a lot of money to do frivolous tasks like design massive outdoor water features, a mezzanine floor, a granite entranceway. I’m happy that you want to be an architect, go you. But I employ you to see a better use for that money. To make a change in the way your client thinks, after all, that is your job.

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Above fig.  WHATMANASEES Instagram

A quick crash course on the Architectural process.

An architect starts by meeting the client, finding out what they like, what they want, how much money they have to complete their desired project etc.

You then, as an architect, take that idea away into your little vault called a studio and come up with a million creative ingredients and produce a couple of iterations.

You go back to the client and discuss the concepts you’ve come up with. They tell you to make it better by pouring more and more money into it. They encourage development and refinement.

You go away and think hard about how to make the concepts better so you develop the ideas into a refined module. You then go back to the client again with a module in the hopes that they might buy the idea off of you.

Basically, the client has you by the short and curlies through the entire process. Or do they? In University they tell you not to stop at a basic concept but to think outside of the box. They imply that it’s significant for you to be using ideas that nobody has ever done before.

How many people downgrade and make the call to say that a building doesn’t need to exist but that this money is better spent on helping world vision extend their help of the billions of people living below the poverty line?

 

Above Source: Change, World Vision, 2017.

What I’m getting at here is that there are more important issues that need solving before we come up with an attractive solution to beautify an ugly building or idealise a brand or family home. 


the numbers don’t lie. Society is honestly doing piss all to make any tremendous change in how poverty affects the world’s kids. We can quite easily convince ourselves that it isn’t our problem, that it’s not our concern. But can you stop being so self-centered?

The truth is that architects have become passive authors who are content being somebodies bitch. Instead of standing up for themselves and those around them. They allow the client to rule the way they operate and rule the decisions they make because they are afraid to be put out of work. That’s the price of change, its a call to arms to look through the various social expectations and lay down the ethics that a person doesn’t need a ten thousand dollar Eames chair in their unused living room, or they don’t need a two-meter extension to their cantilevered bedroom balcony.

IT IS THE BIGGEST FORM OF MATERIALISM  IMAGINABLE. This is not dissimilar from most other professions, and although it’s cool that some people really do take a genuine interest in the various advocacies of major community led projects. It’s just not enough.

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Above is the branding for the new advocacy service, VOYCE, which speaks out for the 36000 children in New Zealand who are in the process of or have already been taken away from their families. So it’s not impossible. To actually be a part of any change you do need money, true, but you also need a strategy. Something that can be utilised in order to be functional. VOYCE is mostly led by people who have been in the care system and who have experience rather than qualifications. This makes their cause better managed and more prepared for whatever shit storm unfolds over the period of time that it is operational. VOYCE in itself will grow to be the largest advocacy service specifically designed to speak out for children who are displaced simply so that they can feel the basic rights of care and protection, something that most of us have had or at the very least experienced.

This is an example of people who have taken action to make the change, and it’s being released this Saturday. The reason why I exemplify it here is because this advocacy service is led by people and organisations such as VODAFONE. These entities set a good example by doing this sort of work because they identify the elephant in the room which is that there are always bigger problems that we are failing to solve.

What is the one thing that sets any Architect apart from the rest? 

In a business or a design firm, what makes an architect shine is their experience. Because experience provides creative opportunity. If you had all of the tools in the world like every other architect, the only variation is creativity. When you mix two experiences to fix a certain situation, you are being creative. The better you are and the more hard work you apply, the better the result and the better the solution.

The challenge I’m setting is to use your wealth of experiences to create a solution that fixes the problem of social inequality. To build your designs with the pre-determination that you’re not going to design something that benefits the whims of an every day A-list celebrity. That you won’t buy into these fancy concepts which shit on the everyday person. That you won’t build a solution for a business just to show off how much money they have. But instead will take a cause, and literally pour the inspiration into fixing that problem in a spacial dimension. Then present that to your client, and give them a lecture on how fucking disgusting they are for implicating a material lifestyle just to accomplish domination over a neighbourhood.

“When you take a Trump sign and slap it onto a building, it becomes a Trump tower.”
– Me.

End.




At the end of the day, it’s your career, I can respect that. I hope this blog has changed your perspective of Architecture and that you re-evaluate the robotic nature of answering to a set eco-system. And as always!

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 047 What Are Some Solid Study Habits?

By Mana Williams  10 Minutes

We all have our own way of getting a study done. Some people’s ways work better than others when you take them on board. Stepping back from the rigmarole of University life. This talk strips down some healthier study tips than the ones I’m currently practising. In the hopes that it serves as a personal reminder of how to set aside a few hours before kicking into gear and plan out a way that works for you. In today’s chat, we’ll explore the different goals I’ve set and how those fell over really quickly, but will also talk about social expectations and how it contributes to the need for procrastination.

You can do it without using your weekend.

My first major assumption when starting into my first-year architecture was that I would be able to get through university without once using my weekend time. I was hell bent on making sure that I didn’t use the weekend for school work because it was simply not an option whilst working a part time job. You’d get home from the long haul at work at 10 pm on a Sunday evening and then kick back into some solid Netflix only to realise you have an assignment due in at 12:30 pm the next afternoon.

The horrendously steep struggle street marathon to get through a sustainability project over the line quickly saw to it that my weekend-less school-work goal was a reality no longer. I know it’s harsh but try to give up on that idea. University is designed to test your ability to learn. But the ability to learn isn’t in the devil’s detail it’s in its font style and word count. They make it hard practically by setting these ridiculous assignments during ridiculous periods of time to make you prove that you are willing to push the bar between what is and isn’t comfortable.

I later found that working on projects through my weekend was almost expected. That’s because it was. There is an expectation that you work for 2 hours of every lecture attended, or thereabouts. If you had 4 lectures in one day, then you would be required to sit 8 hours of study time.

That’s a 12 hour day, without food, without making money at work, without a life. Combine that with Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at the same sort of tempo and you could understand that studying is almost a full-time job that requires a whole week entirely dedicated to this predetermined realization that you really don’t have a weekend to use to go for a surf or to go for a bike ride.

I’m intentionally being a drama queen. because it’s tough out there. When you have three assignments due, in a space of two days, you and everyone around you are sick to the bone whilst a southerly breeze busts down the street during winter, you’re stressed out by the lecturers cheek of pulling a cheeky one-liner, it starts to make sense to you that it’s not or ever will be a walk in the park.

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Above fig.  WHATMANASEES Instagram

Take Some Time Out For Yourself.

It’s not this way in the real world. Establishing some healthy study habits, like time management, and resting often made a huge difference for me. But the biggest difference is that I’m noticing that I get way more productive when I focus on things that matter to me, like this blog.

I remember when I was out on a careers open day last year. I was talking with an architect about his typical week and how his days are constructed. His answer was that his weeks were only 40 hours long because he was only paid for 40 hours of work per week. After his 5 pm beer with his boss, he was commissioned home and that was that. He explained that his university years were a real struggle, particularly towards the end. But in the real marketplace and in corporations, staff who earn a salary and contracted to work a particular amount of hours in a week. He urged the importance of taking time out for himself during the really tough periods of work because they gave him fresh ideas and new knowledge.

What we’re getting at here is basically is simmer down. That it is important to carefully plan out your study habits with a fine toothed comb but to also take the study with a grain of salt that the workload will be different in business but without you time what even is the point?

Being yourself is more important because life is more beautiful that way…




That’s the end of this little rant. it’s ironic because I’m writing this piece at 3:12 am on a Tuesday after having missed an assignment deadline… Go figures. Asides from that I just want to say…

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 046 Why Don’t We Trust Homeless People To Live On Our Streets – But Trust A Random Person To Uber Us Home?

By Mana Williams  15 Minutes

Some people live their lives homeless because it’s the lifestyle they understand. However, there is a space for recognizing that homelessness is a systemic issue. An unwillingness to accept that homeless people exist and that it isn’t some urban myth. This chat focuses on the expression of homelessness. We will go through a process of recognizing normativity and the stigmas associated with homelessness, in the hopes that it will evoke a sense of difference in somebodies life.

What is my opinion of homelessness?

Not everyone has been dealt a bad hand. Some people live a lifestyle that is uncommitted to the confines of a house. Some people choose to live homelessly. It’s my understanding also that there are people out there who were dealt a bad hand. Mixed with poor decisions as well as social discrimination for whatever their reasoning they are in this predicament.

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The truth of homelessness.

Homelessness is a social gray area. It’s always so interesting watching a fresh out of high school student walking along Wellington’s Courtney Place coming across the twenty or so homeless people living there for the first time. The expressionless faces as if they never knew it was a problem epitomizes the reality that so many people are aware of homelessness but never really see it until we get out of our comfort zones. The thing is we all know that homelessness is real but we don’t want to stop and say hello and ask how their day is.

We barely even smile to the guy at the coffee shop or the trolley boy at the supermarket. So consumed by the romanticisms of a well-noted piano piece that we lose touch with reality for the first 18 years of life, then when it hits us that life is more than our own selfish aspirations of becoming the next big thing that we can barely afford to smile whilst looking at the barista. We need to transition our way of thinking about homeless to a way of positivity. If it were our brother or sister, how could we walk by without such as the kindness of a small gesture of appreciating their efforts?

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An inability to change the way we feel about homeless people.

An unwillingness to grow within oneself is about as tragic as this story gets. So often I hear stories about politicians making smearing remarks about how homelessness doesn’t exist or isn’t a problem in New Zealand and that we should be focussing on more significant matters such as international exporting and immigration laws instead of housing or the protection of kiwi children in foster care.

We negate the beliefs of change through our leadership. When they feed us this shit about not needing to worry about matters that don’t concern us, like the Pike river mining incident and the effects that had on the families why their loved ones after all this time are still unable to be recovered. The notion that Christchurch and its people have recovered from the earthquakes when in reality there are still families living out of their cars and are still displaced by lodges to the government to have their houses reimbursed six years later. The executive wing in parliament are concerned with their next election and promote growth elsewhere without going back, picking up the pieces of a shattered society and learning through their mistakes. Therefore they are making the same mistakes.

I remember last week walking down Wellington’s Streets after meeting up with my mum for dinner. She gave me $4.50 in 50 cent pieces and told me to go and give them to people who live on the streets. As I was walking along, I got this tremendous shock when a lady came up to me with her hands in front of her asking me for money. Full of passion and full of love all of my strength just collapsed and I walked away without so much as an acknowledgment to the lady. Having seen her around before I knew that she was a regular in the neighborhood. For the life of me, it wasn’t computing why it was so difficult to stop and spend time with this lady. I was scared and uncomfortable. Having made the decision to want to go and photograph some of the storyboards that these people had in front of them, I found it tremendously hard to encapsulate what these people’s stories were on a camera without exhibiting them in a way that might compromise their mana, which is their power and authority over their own life.

After being reduced to feeling shit about myself. I made the commitment to finish this blog and make damned sure that it gave these people some justice. That I would go away and think about why I was afraid, why I made certain assumptions and where the problem, from a people perspective, might have been. In the hopes that I could bring this message to you and tell you that it’s disgusting how we treat homeless people.

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Why don’t we trust homeless people?

Why do I bother saying my opinion? Sit down and listen. When I passed this lady last weekend I was feeling uncomfortable. Not because she was covered in dirt from shoulder to toe or because she was asking for my money but because I didn’t trust her. Coming from a small town in the tiny winemaking region of Marlborough, it’s rare to find someone who wouldn’t wave and say hello, who wouldn’t wash you down with a hose and drop you off at home if you fell into a drain trying to bunny hop across it on your new bike. The issue is far greater than just because a person is homeless. It’s a people problem. Something I’ve picked up since those days. Through social media, on the news, in the newspaper, at school, in the supermarket. Our daily interactions shape our faith in people, shape our trust towards people we don’t really know.

Even somebody full of life and full of passion for loving others was pulled down by the defecating stench of distrust. I couldn’t stop to say hello because I felt so uncomfortable that it probably made her feel worthless. When she’s not! We get caught up in not wanting to give our money to those who need it more than we do because we think that maybe she might spend it on drugs or on alcohol but really who’s business is it to tell a person how they spend their money? Nobodies. It’s nobodies business to tell someone else how they spend their money. The underlying assumptions are what make us hesitate from providing these people with the comforts and resources they need.

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If we boil it all down what do we get?

We’ve discussed that homelessness is either by choice or it is by circumstance. Analyzed governments portfolio as being a dysfunctioning source of wisdom. Looking into social normativity as being a vehicle of discrimination and that these people deserve so much better than what they get. Basically, it’s a very real problem and needs a very real change from an individual’s point of view. Something that is tangible and is hard for us to accomplish. because these issues aren’t fixable in a day they require strength and consistency. I need to be able to walk down Courtney Place, ask a random person sleeping on the pavement if they want to go and grab a coffee. I need to be able to go into a coffee shop with this person and ask the baristas how their day is going. I need to not take for granted the daily struggles of any person. If I could accomplish this faith and hold this kind of change then it would maybe one day change the perspective of one other person, even if that’s in Zimbabwe, how cool would that be?

Trust is a fickle business. But that’s a story for another day…




I hope you enjoyed this wee chat. It’s certainly a really powerful topic that deserves so much more than I’m giving it. But for today I hope this shares a bit of light from my own perspective. As always…

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 045 Religion Vs. Christianity? 

By Mana Williams   10-15 Minutes

 

I guess this is more of an opinion based chat because there’s just so much to be said about this subject. For me personally, I feel that religion is often used by people to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Christianity is a sub-structure and is used as a tool to recognize truth and is a journey that proclaims the knowledge that no human is perfect and that there is hope through being grounded.

Within today’s chat, I will really unpack my perspective on how Christianity is used for good. To do this I will define religion and Christianity at a basic understanding, analyze other people’s views on the topic, and then come together at the end with a nice wee analogy. Let’s have some fun…


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The journey so far…

I am a Christian and a believer of God on the journey to finding out what that means. For the purposes of this chat, I will try and divulge more about my faith in a way that is agnostic to be as unbiased as possible. Agnostic meaning somebody in-between. If you would like to open this as a conversation for a later time please drop a comment down below.

Though it is amazing to celebrate God and to celebrate a belief system. I want to clarify that this chat in no way insinuates that one religion is better than another. It’s a place of mutual discussion, not to put down somebody for their opinions. Glad we cleared that up.

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What is Religion?

Let’s make a few distinctions. Religion isn’t a very liberal concept. Religions are human-made belief structures built to align our lives to the way a superhuman God, or God’s, might prefer people to exist. Super, to acquaint the notion that their deity is above or knows more than any human and therefore people must conform to suit their criteria. The authoritarian structure historically has been used to bargain a person’s liberation for a set of guidelines enforceable by faith law and occasionally a method of political manipulation in the past.

Although I think that there are many positive lessons that can be taught to the kids about decency and discipline. I also believe that freedom is a right that should be provided and accommodated for based on an individual’s needs rather than the belief that a person must conform to the beliefs of a god.

Looking at the word from others’ perspectives. 

“I think religion is a strange concept when Christianity is overlaid….it seems to denote a practice of rules rather than a lifestyle or a belief system. Religion forces uniformity.”
– Chris Manning, life-long Christian.

It’s not really about religion. It’s about relationship and eternity.”
– Bonnie Russell, life-long Christian.

“If you’re a part of a religion whose doctrine actively serves to discriminate people based on traits they can’t control then you’re a douchebag.”
– Jesse V.L, Agnostic Christian.

13450207_1147012765351688_5618627264865940156_nCredit: The Street Evangelical, Christian Church.

How does religion differ from Christianity?

Although Christianity certainly does encompass a few representations of the term, “religion.” Christianity is inherently different because it bases its lessons on practical functions such as a journey experience rather than countless speculations of mythological interpretation.

It is a walk rather than a bus ride. You are more than welcome to go it at your own pace because Christianity is based on the life of a guy named Jesus, who lived and walked a lifetime before being crucified and coming back to life. Treated as a walk rather than a bus ride because you are responsible for the direction and your own journey instead of a pre-packaged experience with restrictions and a glum view of the world.

In my opinion, Christianity does so well because it is a translated belief system based on the life lessons that we can relate to every day. The translation is vital in recognizing that we don’t need to suffer within the confines of an artificial structure designed by humans to withdraw our liberation and substitute it with a list of rules.

Christianity encourages the confession that you’re an idiot sometimes… And who doesn’t need a bit of moral support from time to time?

There is much to consider about Christianity that is good. The ability to create a vibe that allows people to humble themselves in a church and be vulnerable in that space without barriers in place to avoid emotions. Building a structure that allows people to feel grounded by the recognition that not anyone of any demographic is perfectly blended with the equal footing of god.

Churches accomplish a sense of being grounded by looking at truths within our lives that hold us back from being at our capacities. These truths cannot be argued with because they are true. Although from time to time it’s not weird to hear an extremists opinion on The Scoop NZ or the likes of NZ Herald. Opinions are only factual through evidence.



So What Does It All Mean? 

At the end of the day, Christianity promotes individual development and freedom of belief. It’s not a system that gives a lot of people arbitrary powers but instead seeks out equality and liberation. Free to express yourself in a way you desire whilst maintaining that nothing you do will ever stray you from your journey. Nothing done will ever cost the love of god if you and so inclined to believe.




This is today’s thought, I really love this notion that church is a grounding place because it provides freedom of expression without the social normativity. It’s something I’ve been pondering on a daily basis lately just trying to work within that thought and build an informed opinion of how religion and how Christianity operate to create this system where people can come and be who they want to be. Ultimately, I want to learn how to apply that to any daily scenario where I can be more genuine and more honest just in the conversations I’m having with people and with the interactions that might cause me or somebody else any grief. I think looking into that and deciding how I can build myself up fro the inside and apply my learnings from Church would be a huge growth for me personally. Otherwise, thank you for this very all over the place chat!

Thanks for checking in…




 

Blog 044 Somewhere Only We Know

By Mana Williams Eade   10 Minutes

Today’s blog looks at a place of retreat. A place you and I can go whenever we feel weighed down by our day. Weighed down by something that’s happened. Weight down by other people’s baggage. Whether that’s learning about somebodies story, whether that’s learning about somebody passing away. Whenever we feel like shit we all need a place of default that we can go when we feel down and out.

Today’s chat is a bit more somber than usual. Today’s chat focuses on the positive balance that we employ every time something isn’t okay. This is not a chat about isolation, its a chat about finding peace. Finding peace enough to not doubt yourself when you’re affected by a breakdown in a relationship. A break down in a class or lecture. Or the year old expression, “meh.” Today’s chat is about searching for that place.

We all need a place to go. A place that accommodates certain emotions. A place that we don’t have other people pulling at our sleeves in an untimely fashion. A place that only we know about and can create memories. It doesn’t have to be one place either. It could be a library, or a church, or a tree, or even virtual. For me, it’s somewhere that I can go to get clarity on an issue I’m having. A place where I can worry about nothing, clear the schedule and think about one thing in particular that is weighing me down.

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A nice wee spot on Kelburn Hill.

So where do you go?


Well, I go to church. And before you try and place me into a box labelled ‘religious rhubarb’ just let me explain it to you. It’s so important to stay grounded. Grounded during assignment periods and through seasons of degrading weather. Grounded when your parents call you out for doing something stupid. Grounding is a mindset. It’s a trick that lets you stick to the bottom of the fish tank and look up without rushing around in your head juggling life.

Going to church offers that grounding. There’s a willingness to confess to one’s own stupid mistakes there, and it’s because of this willingness that an environment is created where it’s easier for me to realise how stuffed up people really are. Learning about people in their everyday lives, finding out stuff that I struggle with and being able to learn from that is a really grounding experience. In knowing that there is a place I can escape to, that can offer me peace in learning about how important it is to meditate, it allows me to have a stronger opinion and a higher self-worth.

 

13450207_1147012765351688_5618627264865940156_nCredit: The Street Evangelical, Christian Church.

This is not really a shameless plug to make you go to church.

It is a plea to ask that you spend 30 minutes each day in that space or mindset of groundedness just to notice the massive change and the awesome clarification created. For me, I know that it has decreased my anxiety towards things, it has given me more clarification on why people might accuse me of things when they are feeling hurt. It takes the authority away from assignments and it makes things way easier to deal with.
By taking out some time each day to visit the place the only you know, you articulate the fish tank. You articulate how things are.By taking out some time each day to visit the place the only you know, you articulate the fish tank. You articulate how things are and that can be amazingly useful.


One of my spots. Credit: Wiremu Tuhimata

In the end.

Obviously, this is from my perspective. But if people took accountability more often then there would be a point of interest that might actually be beneficial for most people. Ministers wouldn’t stuff up making policies that protect our children in care, lecturers wouldn’t forget that teaching is a conversation of understanding and not a way of expressing their dominance in knowledge, and I’d probably go a whole day without feeling awkward in a situation that didn’t need to be. Wherever your place is, make sure that it’s somewhere you can feel grounded regardless of the situation.




This is today’s chat, another wee one to have a break from posting heavy things and those days when you realise that blogging is taking priority over university study.  Other than that…

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 043 What Is Passion?

By Mana Williams Eade    10 Minutes

I must admit that I am really tired from completing yesterday’s blog. Only now is it starting to hit me that this mammoth attempt to blog for 100 days straight is really really hard work. But if you’re passionate about something, it should never seem difficult, right?

Today’s chat is a quick reflection of how I got into writing and is much less intense than yesterday’s talk. I need to stress that writing is not my passion, my passion is understanding people at a really deep level that I can learn from, writing is my best skill. In today’s climate, the art of the pen (or keyboard) has become the way to make a significant difference. The international language of which people speak. Luckily for me, I was already really good at analytical thinking and was already very creative in my writing abilities.

So What Is Passion? 

From my point of view, it’s the drive to finish something even though nobody but yourself is asking you to. It’s the ability to bike up the steepest hill alone and suffer for no apparent reason. It’s what makes some people shine by themselves when they’re doing something they are passionate about. Try and recall the last time you finished a project from your own steam. A project that wasn’t being marked and wasn’t being judged by nobody but yourself. Did you feel proud when you did it?

Whenever I feel proud of something positive it immediately reinforces that habit as being good in the long term. But it’s not always good that sometimes people are passionate about something because they experienced defeat. Trying to mend certain bridges when times were tougher. I guess that can be considered as being an advocate. Somebody who can provide advice on systems that they have experienced slip-ups in. Somebody who has experienced the trauma of a moment and wishes nobody the same level of pain.

From time to time I run into people who have circumstantial passion. The kind of person who goes way further than just to ask if you’re okay. The person that would wait up for you at midnight after your relationship fell apart with a cup of tea in hand. The type of person who grows inside by helping others avoid the same shit they had to go through. The type of person who will answer the calls will come crash at yours and be the loudest advocate for children on the face of the earth. These people have passion too.
What Is Passion In My Eyes? 

For me, passion is being able to teach someone about the love and affection of family. Passionate about social growth, to be able to learn empty your cup, stop being a stubborn b***h and actually be willing to take on the advice of others.

Did you see the featured image at the top of this chat? Of course, that’s why you came here in the first place! I love my dog, his name is Boxer. Not because of the breed but because dad named him after his car’s engine, the Boxer… I know, how romantic… But my dog is a part of my family. Home-life is something that I’m really passionate about advocating for. Because love is grounding. It shares insight into how we can be there for each other, how we can learn to understand a difference of opinion to find a common view. Because I was smothered in love by my aunt, who is my adoptive mum, I was able to receive all of this precious insight into how important family is. Mum probably doesn’t even know to what extent these lessons do for kids. But for me, this is what passion is.

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-12-20-57-am

Build It And They Will Come.

Take this stand of avocados for instance. There is no cheeky avocado holding tray beneath this pyramid of precision.  Do something that makes you feel valued. You don’t have to listen to the shit of others to tell you what you can and cannot do, within the parameters of the law let’s not be archaic here.

For me, passion is a huge motivator for all of this work. I love helping people recognize when they are being lazy, I guess in the small steps of this journey still but overall it’s all about the process of reaching 100 days. Until that day, passionately waiting. 






This is today’s small chat. Am still resting from the weekend’s massive effort. But I am so thankful for each chat and each reader so thank you again!

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 042! Whakarongo Mai.

By Mana Williams Eade   30 Minutes

This Interview and Discussion was made by the youth of today for the youth of tomorrow.


Today’s chat is a reality check
. Today’s chat is about the creation of a new advocacy service that speaks for the voices of New Zealand’s children. That holds New Zealand collectively responsible for the protection and wellbeing of our children. Today, I interview another ministerial youth advocate and one of the founding members and trustees of the new non-governmental organization (NGO) VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, Tupua Urlich. This whole chat is based on the awareness to, and the celebration of what will be one of the largest advocacy services in the world.

A bit of history…

New Zealand has a population of 4.471 Million people and covers an area of 268,021 km² which is slightly bigger than the United Kingdom which has a population of 64 million people. There are more vending machines in Japan than there are people in New Zealand. So then this begs the question, why the heck do we have 5500 vulnerable taonga currently in our child welfare system? It’s completely and utterly disgusting. For those of you who do not know what taonga means, it is a Maori reference to a highly prized resource or item, something with huge significance. In reference to the children of New Zealand, they represent tomorrow’s lawyers, tomorrow’s voices, they represent tomorrow, which is today’s future.

The Ministry of Social Development for years has been grappling with this notion of creating an effective system that is obligated to look after and protect vulnerable children within New Zealand. They have made fourteen attempts to improve, refine and shape a better system that looks after our kids. But they haven’t nearly done enough because there shouldn’t be any kids in care at all! Even from a systematic point of view. The number is so small it should have been remedied twenty years ago. In a perfect world, parents would be complaining that they need a respite from their kids because they are so happy raiding the cupboards, drawing on the walls and suffocating their parents with love. But the reality is, that thousands of children have been taken away from their parents, ripped out of their communities from people they knew and loved, and are suffering from psychological and emotional trauma. This has got to end. The first step to recovering a functioning system was designed not too long ago by the ministry of Social Development and named Oranga Tamariki. It is a child-centered ministry that was designed with the advice of youth within New Zealand to make sure that it was a system that actually gave kids what they needed to grow and develop in a New Zealand that puts aside its shit and puts the needs of kids first. Something that can be celebrated.

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So what are we looking at today?

Today’s chat hosts a different spin on things, I will be interviewing the awesome Tupua Urlich and we will be talking about the first real and tangible opportunity to really make a massive change in our countries children’s lives with a new advocacy service called VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.





THE KORERO – Discussion

What is my experience with youth advocacy? – By Mana

My name is Mana Williams Eade, I’m a nineteen-year-old human being that cares. I grew up in the foster care system from the age of 8 months old, was raised by my aunt and step dad and became whangai at the age of 12. From there I excelled in school and clearly loved my writing and I now study Architecture and Public Policy at Victoria University. I was appointed to be a part of a seven-member advocacy panel that we named Te Whanau Aroha, which allowed me to voice my opinions to people who were listening. Since then I have experienced these huge efforts like Oranga Tamariki and the new Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft that have created humongous change in a short period of time. Some of my involvement with VOYCE included creating a digital platform that youth would be able to access and connect with using their new advocacy service, as well as doing video interviews for their upcoming website that launches on April the first. I’ve also started my own daily blog just talking about stuff that really bugs me and raising awareness for social stuff that matters, like VOYCE.

This discussion, however, is not only about my opinion through my experience but includes the voice of my friend Tupua Urlich. Here is his story…

“Diamond in the rough.” – By Tupua

A diamond in the rough would be the best way to describe my childhood. through the oppression and isolation, I learned to dream. For dreaming was my only escape from the pain and heartache of my childhood. Isolated and lost in a system of statistics, a system of abuse. Through my dreams, I imagined the unique gift to see the faint light in times of dark and sorrow my dreams became who I was in my mind. So a few things to identify me, I left my home, I left my family and everything I knew before I had even started school. The only place that I was accepted was in my dreams. those pressures around me, they gave me a precious retreat at no risk of ever being defected. The sad thing is, I’m not the only diamond in the rough.

“Adolescent truth.”

Like all teens, I thought I knew it all. The truth is I knew what I had to know about this world. My dreams reminded me of my escape or like a camera when it comes back into focus, the reality was clear. The world I had been raised in was far from a safe place. The countless beatings and abuse, darkness was coming through. Or the weight of 10,000 dark memories weighing me down, my soul finally collapsed under the immense weight and pressure. Now I needed an enemy to blame for my never ending pain. All along I was the only one they were angry at, I was the one they would beat, I was the one they would move time and time again. Nobody wanted me. With that realization, depression kicked in. I was fighting this battle with a broken sword, a weak shield and worst of all no hope, no belief that I ever had the chance of victory.

“Adulthood on the horizon”

Sometimes things just come into view. As I walked through a painful world I came to a place where I could see the future. Adulthood was emerging, I wasn’t ready. I never had the chance to be a child. The pain of the past hurt more than ever. Feeling hopeless and unworthy I attempted suicide. When that didn’t work I knew I didn’t have it in me, so I self-harmed. As a desperate plea for mercy, not attention like they would suggest. The truth was I was on my own and I had never been enough for myself. When I looked in the mirror I saw the lifeless defeated young man, then it hit me. Young, Man. My childhood was over, it was too late for me. I had revealed the true enemy now, but it wasn’t me. In this world, where battles are won by the pen, I had to change what that pen was writing for children and young people like me. I could heal through healing those who understood and experienced my pain. There is hope. Now, I have the courage.

“Courage is a feeling, and it’s very hard to describe a feeling in a few words.”

Name – Tupua Urlich
Role – Youth Advocate, Founding Member and Trustee of VOYCE.

It’s important that we reflect on these two hugely different opinions. I was fortunate enough to be cared for in a way that gave me the opportunity to understand the pen. Understand how I can manipulate it to advocate for those who do not have a voice. Where my friend Tupua came from a diversely different background and can tell his story through his experience. Together we bring this uniquely significant discussion about VOYCE to raised it up in a way that can never be brought down into the clutches of failure with the likes of Child Youth and Family. So I really hope you enjoy this wee chat below here. Thanks for reading.
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VOYCE-Whakarongo-Mai-logo.jpg

M – Mana
T – Tupua

M – What is VOYCE Whakarongo Mai?

T “VOYCE Whakarongo Mai is a Connection and Advocacy Service for children in care.”

M – How does VOYCE Whakarongo Mai, differ from other agencies like Child Youth and Family and Oranga Tamariki?

T “VOYCE Whakarongo Mai isn’t a care and protection agency it’s a rights organization. Oranga Tamariki has an obligation to look after and cater for the needs of young people who can’t live at home in New Zealand. VOYCE is more of a monitoring system you could say, Te Oranga Tamariki has an obligation to work transparently with VOYCE-Whakarongo Mai. There are laws binding them to Te Oranga Tamariki.”

M – Is VOYCE Whakarongo Mai a privately ran NGO?

T “Partly, VOYCE is funded by the government but is also a privately funded organizational philanthropy.”

M- Which corporations fund VOYCE Whakarongo Mai?

T “So there’s the TODD Foundation, Tindall Foundation, Foundation North and VODAFONE…”

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M – So what interest does a corporation like VODAFONE have with the care and protection of our kids in New Zealand?

T “There was a philanthropic meeting held in Ponsonby, Auckland, a couple of years ago. These big corporations like VODAFONE are very socially conscious and so they wanted to know what were some problems and some key solutions {in New Zealand} that they could help make possible. At every table, there was a member of Parliament, a Judge or a lawyer, a philanthropic member, and a young person etc. All of the different tables pitched ideas, we pitched the idea of a care and connection advocacy service and we won, which gave us funding and resources.”

M – So how would a child get in touch with VOYCE?

T “If you’re in Te Oranga Tamariki, you’re automatically enrolled with VOYCE Whakarongo Mai. So there’s no opt-in it’s an automatic service.”

M – That’s awesome because it allows kids without internet access to still be involved.

T “Some of the issues around Social Media is that many kids are banned from using social media as a utility to run away and get up to to all sorts of things.”

M – What is the capacity for VOYCE when it first rolls out?

T “We’re at early stages, but the figure will increasingly grow as the organization develops.”

M – We know that there are 5500 kids currently in the care and protection system but what is commonly missed is that there are approximately 30,000 children in the in-between stage. I guess a question could be if VOYCE caters for the wider population of kids in the system?

T “Wherever there is an Oranga Tamariki office, there will be a VOYCE office too. To ensure that all young people in the state have an advocate and have a connection service. So it’s really about making the service accessible and making the staff grow as the task calls for it.”

M – You said yesterday that there will be a base in Auckland?

T “The national Office will be in Auckland, and that opens on the 1st of April. When VOYCE opens in April they will start small and grow over time. Ensuring they have the right staff in the different roles. This will follow suit in other regions.”

M – How does VOYCE compare with advocacy services around the world?

T “At capacity, it will be the biggest connection advocacy service in the world.” 

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“Without the voice of experience, we’re not going to have any real change.” – Tupua.

“I am delighted that, for the first time, young people in care in New Zealand are to have an independent advocacy service to represent them,” – Minister Anne Tolley.




At the end of the day, what matters is that a child can be loved and cared for by their family. To be cherished and adored by those around them. The very least that we can do as a people is to advocate for their voices. The bare minimum people can do collectively as New Zealanders, as people, is to not treat these kids like damaged goods, but to simply treat them as taonga.




This is today’s chat. Thank you for being a part of the talk, I just want to extend thanks to Tupua for his incredible insight into advocacy services, it was really good to have him present in this korero. April the first! The day it all changes. And as always…

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 041 Pride (LGBT)

By Mana Williams Eade  10 Minutes

This small chat is just a quick reflection on the Pride festival yesterday. Reflecting on the attitude, the nature of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community within Wellington and shares my perspective on a few things.

Let’s get something clear, I think the ability to take pride in one’s own sexuality is really quite admirable. But let’s stop for a second and recognize how sad it is that we have to celebrate the ability for people to feel proud about who they love. How sad it is that people cannot just simply love who they want without judgment, without stigma. It’s not nice that people have to go above and beyond to get the rights that they deserve, to love whomever they please. I think that it’s bullshit that people have to go through a long unwinding process of organizing a parade and a festival of thousands of attendees, like the one held in Wellington yesterday, just to show society that it’s perfectly okay to love who you want.

When will people get it in their heads that people can love whoever they want?

A process must occur whenever people see two guys holding hands in public places. As if to assume that because it is not normal the public has the authority to treat the LBGT community differently, if you haven’t already you should check out my blog 040 about stigmatizing. Historically, yesterday’s pride parade was the biggest pride parade in Wellington in over 20 years. Which proves that this has been going on for quite some time. This suggests that we haven’t changed much as a society in 20 years. We pride ourselves on making huge advancements technologically but we cannot even comprehend that one guy might love another guy? It changes the meaning of the word pride! As if to suggest that even the meaning of the word PRIDE is to be limited to social norms, but it’s ironic when a minority group like the LGBT community have to push the buck to what is and what isn’t pride. But it’s not all doom and gloom. For time’s are a changing. A time where you could ride your segway down the middle of the main road in Wellington wearing a drag queen outfit and not give a shit about what anyone thinks. See image below for more details about how not to give a shit.

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Credit: Wellington Pride Festival parade. Photo/ Frances Cook – NZ Herald 2017

How do the choices of whom other people choose to love, affect us?

Do we really need to go out of our way to comment that a particular group of people are ‘weird’ simply for doing what they feel is expressing their own emotions? This calls for an analogy. The ability to love who you want is like dancing in a ballroom full of people. If you have somebody in your life that you love, would you walk across to ask them to dance with you? Is it not just jealousy when you see somebody else enjoying themselves in a way that you want? I feel like it’s never going to affect you. it’s never going to affect you unless you get too close. Unless you get involved. Unless you crash into each other. Besides, if you really love a person, does it really matter that much what other people are doing around you, or shouldn’t you be focused more on the person in front of you?

What really matters?

They aren’t there to hurt you, they are just like you. They are human. They are everyone and everyone feels the same sort of shit when they are stigmatized against. When they are treated as a minority. When you try and use authority to degrade them when you try and make minority groups feel like they are not worthy of priding themselves based on the person they love. One of the most refreshing sights from yesterday’s pride festival was to see the police presence, to see them actively encouraging the public to be more inviting of love regardless of how that looks. They were not in force and they were accepting of the people around them. The difference that the police made by being at the parade changed the image of the police force themselves. They made people snap out of their stupidity and whatever socio-political game they were playing and exposed the reality of the situation that in that space, these people are trying to show how much they want to love who they want regardless of gender. Having the police force present provided a different and warmer lens on what New Zealanders collectively ought to do, and that is to change their opinions on what is weird and realize that everybody is weird.

17358741_1837490489872889_4448705958328712000_o.jpgNZ Police presence at the Wellington Pride Festival parade.

End.




I guess this is the second chat for today, not too long just a rant I really needed to have. I wanted to get it down as to why some people think that it’s okay to call this community of people as being weird. Otherwise, stay tuned for the next chat, it’s going to be epic!

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 040 Social Stigma 

By Mana Williams Eade   20-25 Minutes

Today’s lengthy chat is about social politics but looks at identifying the key relationship differences between making a judgment call by stigmatizing versus giving a person special treatment. With a few examples and with relevance in the hopes of evaluating a little bit more about the massive dust cloud that is way too often used as an excuse for something to be right or okay when in reality both need to be understood and separated.

What does it mean?
Stigmatize – describe or regard as worthy of disgrace or great disapproval.

Special Treatment – distinguished, set apart from, or excelling others of its kind.
Judgment – the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.

Let’s talk about making a judgment call on a person.

Instead of writing up a whole blog about judging somebody I thought I’d make an entire paragraph dedicated to explaining my interpretation of making a judgment call on someone, so apologies for not having content out yesterday. When it comes to judging a person, there is a difference between stigmatizing and giving someone the benefit of the doubt by allowing them special privileges when appropriate. The act of making a judgment call, in my opinion, is just a way of protecting yourself from getting hurt in social situations. Recognizing a person’s caliber will let you know how many barriers you need to put up in order to stay level headed.

Time for an analogy.

Like a fortified castle, judging someone is the curation of the outer walls. Walls put up to protect yourself from other people’s shit, or vice versa. But it doesn’t change the reality that you shut people out whenever you erect walls. So why are we afraid of people’s shit? Is it memory conditioning? Is it a reaction from traumatizing childhood memories? Is it reactionary as an outlet for us or do we have to make assumptions to make ourselves feel better? For whatever reason, there are a few categories of judgment that can come out for ‘whatever reason.’ But for the relevance of the chat, I’ll focus on what I feel are the most important contrasting reactionaries which are stigmatizing and giving special treatment.

When is it ever okay to stigmatize?

Stigma is never nice, it’s easy to build your life around, it’s almost an excuse to be racially biased. This chat takes a really quick look at stigma and a couple examples of when it can really affect someone. To put it short and sweet, it’s never okay to stigmatize. The definition of stigmatizing is to recognize a negative change or characteristic of a person or to enlighten that they are different in a bad way. It’s when you use their indifferences against them to call them out on something or convince someone else that this somebody is bad without reason.

Storytime.

I was sitting in the university library last week when I struck up a conversation with a dude who lived outside of the city. It started off really nicely and we talked about what most students talked about, what degree they were taking, what year they were in and if they lived in a hall, whereabouts their parents live etc. The whole time was pretty casual in general. Until we started talking about socio-economics. We started discussing why certain areas of Wellington were really nasty in comparison to others. After discussing why certain areas within the city might not be very nice, he alluded to one area being very impoverished by the presence of the mongrel mob and the problems that they cause. But it hit me when he was talking about it, he made the assumption that just because an area has a low socio-economic rating it’s only due to the presence of gangs and drugs. In reality, any area everywhere is affected by drugs. It made me think about why he would comment on the presence of a gang. To assume that each individual within a gang is to blame for every ounce of heroin or cocaine in a particular suburb. To assume that the intimidation is real and that each gang member has no personality or no story to be told about why they are so inclined to create ripples in society in the first place. Who’s right is it to stigmatize against a group of people simply because they choose to live in a particular way that opposes the belief systems of others? Where in our constitution does it state that we have the right to stigmatize against a collection of people simply because their beliefs are indifferent to ours? Mate… To put simply, nobody has that authority. Sure we have the right to build our own opinions, but we have no claims to convince those opinions as fact or any authority to impose them onto somebody else.

Time to pull it apart.

Everyone has their own shit to deal with, whether that’s a mongrel mob member or my new library friend. It doesn’t give us the right to stigmatize them. Sure, don’t go out and wave your bum at them because that’s never respectful. We have no authority to say that an area is impoverished due to a particular group of people being present. What worries me most about my friend’s opinion of a certain area being really dodgy is probably because he told me that he gained his knowledge from the word of mouth from somebody else, who probably learned that from another person who may have had some sort of running in with a gang member at one stage in their life. But who knows? That gang member might have just lost their mum or dad to a car crash. They may have been going through some really tough times. Only after calling him out about it was it actually apparent to me that he was stigmatizing.

So how does giving special privileges differ from stigmatizing?

When something has happened to somebody and we are informed about it like if a lady is widowed by her husband’s passing, it’s usually normal for people to change their tone of voice or their way of communicating to this person. Conditioning our way of treating that person because they are grieving, because they deserve to be treated with more respect. I was recently at a funeral of a person who meant something to me, spending time at her funeral service and then spending time with her husband. It was obvious that he was grieving, so I and everyone else went out of their way to treat him with extra respect because he had just lost his loved one. Equally, if we learn about somebodies birthday we all of a sudden treat them nicer than usual regardless of what role they are in, whether they’re our waitress or if they are our parent. Giving special privileges, regardless if they are wanted, actually are appropriate in certain situations. They aren’t used against a person they are used for the person’s benefit. To lend a hand and bring them up to speed. it’s our most human contribution. To bring down a drawbridge to invite a person in and go out of our way to be there for them. Giving somebody special treatment is the opposite of stigmatizing. It is giving somebody the benefit of the doubt. I think it’s really sad that we are conditioned to only lend a hand when we are made aware of a problem. That we are only comfortable letting down our walls during a special occasion.

It’s almost like we are sitting behind the reigns of a high horse, only willing to come down when society expects us to. We should be able to do this any moment of the day. To show love and affection to our friends without needing a prompt, without somebody dying. That we don’t have to make assumptions around a certain gang of people, that we don’t have to stigmatize. Our families are closer than ever when we provide them with positive reinforcement, not stigmatic judgment. So how’s about we spend a bit more time treating everyone a bit more special?




And I guess that’s my talk for today! It was something pretty heavy on my shoulders so apologies for taking an extra day to deliver this one out there. Tonight’s talk is going to be pretty exciting! I’m interviewing a really impressive advocate and talking about the new child based New Zealand Ministry, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. So stay tuned for that!

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 039 Apartment living isn’t home

By Mana Williams

Today’s chat is much more informal, we’ll look into what makes home so special, and why city living tends to take a lot away from the genuine character building stuff that hard work maintenance jobs around the home facilitate. This is probably a chat my mum would really love, but I’m not going to talk about the weather of Wellington being terrible so that optimism can take a seat. Towards the other side of this brief chat is a small discussion piece that asks for some feedback and looks at asking you for your feedback.

So how does city living shape up against living at home?

Although your clothes are still the same, the days still have as many hours and the familiar faces you know as friends remain the same. The idea of flatting in a city environment is nothing like living at home. Mum’s amazing pancakes on the Sunday morning, Dad’s terrible dad jokes and pet smells, all make home this sanctuary for family. With the likes of apartment living being this really intense consistent monotoned sound of car tyres on the freeway, or the midnight road sweepers, or the emergency sirens at 5 am. The livelihood of flatting in the city tends to be really compact and bustling. Living in a city apartment styled complex is really noisy during the weekends too with flat parties going on like no tomorrow. With the large majority of teens living in the same sort of neighbouring areas due to rent costs as well as the vicinity to University campuses, it can be pretty communal at times too. With friends flocking to the one house with the television set or the one flat with the crazy party atmospheres or the flat with the best cook etc. Relative to home living, the closeness to your friends place can be markedly closer and is really useful you need to borrow a toaster or iron your shirts. It also gives you close vicinity to your girlfriends place. The environment created by the noisiness is really full on at times and for some people frustrating if they have classes in the morning or go to a different university. When it comes to the cost of living within a city atmosphere, the costs of essentials and the cost of food greatly differs,  depending on where you I’ve at home or the whereabouts of where your city flat is, for me I know that the majority of convenience stores and even supermarkets can be really expensive. This is obviously because well… where else are you going to get your milk from? In comparison to having to put up with the noisiness and the expenses of living within a city based flat setup to the warm, pet smelling comforts of home, flatting does come second best.

So what’s good about flatting in the city?

With flatting responsibilities comes more independence, which is pretty good right? The ability to be able to go and buy as much junk food you want, and it only being around the corner. It’s pretty great being able do almost whatever and it not having some serious consequences that your parents would probably frown on. The ability to be able to get really happy with your friends, be pretty much as noisy as you’d like before midnight everyday. The ability to be able to go out at night on the longest walk imaginable and not get told off when you got home at 4 am. The ability to have you music playing as loud as you’d like without any significant telling offs the list goes on. There’s also a huge opportunity for self growth and individual development. When you have to put up with your own nonsense after a period of time it becomes easier to get accustomed to certain things about yourself that you can’t be bothered mustering up all of the energy to fix it just for someone else’s benefit. Things like fashion, food expectation, and certain unbearable emotions can fall by the way side.

So there’s definitely a huge compromise made when going to live in a flatting situation instead of the comforts of home. Whether that be because you are having to get up early in the morning or if you really miss mum and dad and need some emotional support, living in an city flatting situation can have it’s downsides.




Today’s chat is very short but this is so that I can continue to open it up to conversation. Tomorrow’s blog will be really intense so look forward to that. Thank you for reading and as always…

Thanks for checking in…

Daily Blog: 11:00 pm NZT

Blog 038 What Does Stress Do?

By Mana Williams. 20 Minutes

In contrast to limbic interruptions comes the opposing frustration, rushing. Among the ranks of corporations, schools, airports and train stations, exists a process of rushing. Something that looks like stress and messes with everything we do even if we don’t want it too. Today’s little chat is in regards to the concept of rushing and the wider impacts rushing can have on really important systems that live actually depend on. The price of stress at a people level within governmental agencies and takes a lens on the mismanagement within making public policy and what the effects of this could be.

What is stress?

It’s the brother emotion to shame. It’s the dragon under the mountain. It’s our brains nitrous oxide that can be confused with positive reinforcement and if not managed properly can be really irrational. Stress is physically defined as the exaggeration of pressure onto a system or load bearing network. It is a home made brain fart that can be defined as a cognitive coffee. Stress is initially helpful but gradually loses its touch and creates more damage than good. When we feel anxious about a result, stress is the first feeling out the door to address the problem. It’s like having a noisy chihuahua yapping in your head. Nobody needs it, it’s novel for a while, but the novelty wears off. Stress is not your friend. When we perceive that we are running out of time our brain works harder to find a resolve that we can rest on. The act of rushing is a physical translation of the feeling of stress.

So what can be done about it?

Government systems, corporate expectations, school assignments, parental rules all operate in routines. Terms used like deadlines, due dates, time frames all designed for general reinforcement. But since when have we ever perceived a deadline as being a good thing? You could argue that it’s a great thing to see that once that deadline arrives you are free from the grasp of whatever is due. But this is where elements like stress and the anxiety of failure come into play and that irrational stress Chihuahua come to answer the door. It’s never ending. Or so it seems. Meditation is key. I know it’s a bit soppy. But when people ask me why I am able to produce so much writing in my blogs without being concerned by the constraints of my work I say because I am able to disconnect from the urgency and create boundaries to achieve what I need to do.

So how is stress dangerous?

Within the wraps of bureaucracy, within governmental agencies and structures exists thousands of hard working individuals who all have to get to work in the morning, who are scrupulously moderated and multiple different amplitudes. Where there are deadlines and agencies that say you can and you can’t. Within government agencies work people, it is at a people level that we can all relate to. We could create any issue or visualise any situation that relates to us and imagine how that might cause a person in a powerful position to make a mistake that might affect thousands of people. The likes of an economic development minister who comes into work and creates a policy on how businesses in New Zealand must meet new criteria that small businesses can’t adhere to because it undermines their business and out-prices the consumer. Or when a Chief Executive of a new government-funded children’s ministry fails to take into consideration the opinions of children and creates a design around the voices and opinions of adults because they were bureaucratized by adults in an adults world to conform in a way that suits big money enterprises and creates a system that doesn’t work or is no different from the last faculty, un-ironed and mismanaged system that could damage the lives of thousands of children. It happens far too often where we get caught up in our daily race to be first to the lecture and we forget that our time should matter more than an assignment.

Stress is dependent on your sense of urgency, it feeds off of your need to do well, to accomplish as much as possible or to catch up on something missed. This in regards to a current essay that I’m supposed to be doing but instead am writing this blog to quantify the stress that’s going through my head. It’s crazy how easy our brains can become accustomed to feeling like shit when we are told to get to bed or to hurry up. It’s scary that even when someone encourages us to get the work done, whether it be in school or at work, that we can assume that it’s negative enforcement. If we are tooted at by a car it’s quite rattling and disgruntling, it’s easy to feel stressed out by it. If we are given an assignment and a lecturer reminds us that our essay is due in two days and you realise you’ve done zero of the readings. When a chief executive of a child-focused ministry is stressed out by her boss to discourage the use of multi-cultural involvement in future child based ministries because certain cultural aspects are being taken out of legislation because it is “too difficult to define” in a formulated and westernized legal way without recognizing that the needs of all people should be considered rather than just the majority. (We will talk about this in another chat) Then it’s easy to show why stress can be so volatile and ill-informed. When people wonder why something didn’t work even if every operational flaw is ironed out, it’s stuff like human error that provokes a miscarriage. Small human misjudgements like stress which leads to a rushed patch job that merely bandages the problem instead of actually solving it. The concern of not spending enough time necessary to see things through a different lens and notice the humongous effect it has on our lives.



What are some tangible ways of dealing with stress? 

These are the two angles that I use to tackle two different situations. The first is time dependent stress. The pressure on a load bearing system which is my brain’s ability to actually operate without fizzing out and realising how screwed I am. This stress can be managed by realising that it’s going to be hard work getting to where I need to be. Not telling myself that it’s going to be okay no matter what because that’s a false belief. Knowing in myself that it’s really a case of stringing out everything that needs doing or has happened and giving myself enough time to appropriately deal with that. Without proper conditioning to stress and learning how to support yourself when times are tough is like never sailing your boat out of a harbour. Growing the support of your loved one’s constantly and building up a relationship with those closest to you will give you little boosts here and there that will take off some of the load, things like doing the washing for your flatmates might, in turn, provide that extra support when you need it. Maybe helping out at church when there is a barbeque might bring back good karma and someone from church might drop you off at home when your mid-week life group finishes and you need to get home because your essay is due tomorrow. Solid foundations will be able to bare heavier loads in the long term and provide the rigidity needed in tough situations.

The second situation is unexpected stress or relinquished faith that happens faster than anticipated or when everything is super sudden without deadlines, like a boss asking you to do something that goes against your beliefs.

Similar to the first situation, know that you are supported and that in yourself you are loved first. Then take the time to reflect on how your beliefs or your routine is compromised by what they have said. Think from their perspective and compare it to your process of thinking. Find a common medium that allows you to stress less and not make stupid decisions.




So that’s today’s chat, they don’t always end with a long winded cello strum but as long as the point has taken flight that’s all I care about.

I think it’s really important that I say I’m not a qualified counsellor and I don’t claim to know more than anyone else. I guess from my perspective this work is just relevant to my emotions and experiences. So by my sharing, I hope to provide a different insight because no two points of views are ever completely the same. So I guess from my perspective this work is just to help someone through their tough patch of work, I know for me it’s certainly fresh in my head.

But again, I am really grateful to any readers out there still reading this stuff! It’s massively appreciated. Tomorrow’s blog will be delayed due to my essay being due. So wish me luck I get those readings done prior. And as always!

Thanks for checking in…

Daily Blogs: 10:00 pm NZT (Adjusted from 11:00 am NZT)

Blog 037 Lectures

By Mana Williams  15 Minutes

How confident are you that you could actively ask a question in a lecture of three hundred? I’m sure you could. But could you do it every day? How many times have you done it in the past? Can you count that number on two hands? Maybe one? It’s never easy asking a question at a lecture of three hundred, especially if the question isn’t a smart one. Lecturers can encourage questions at the start of a course and say that no question are silly ones. But the reality is, you do need to have a certain kind of confidence to be able to raise to that level and interrupt an auditorium full of grumpy humans. Today’s talk looks at the negative reinforcement that having lectures of this size can be and the relationship that should exist between a lecturer and a student. In the hopes that someone stuck out, there might be able to conjure up that level of confidence or get their questions answered in an alternative way.

What is a lecture?

The word lecture has two different definitions that both reflect a one-sided relationship. The defined answer is an educational talk to an audience, usually students. The second defined answer is a long serious speech, especially one to scold somebody. The power in a lecture is definitely one sided, which makes it really difficult to communicate on the same level and understand the message. The assumption made is that a lecturer knows more than the student. This is normally true but the reasoning behind why this methodology is used is to communicate as to suggest that if the message was delivered to an alien or somebody with no knowledge then the lesson needs to be easily consumed. But this takes away from the student their control of the situation. A lecture of three hundred is not a conversation, it’s a talking to. A place where a lesson could be taught to a multitude of people without taking into account the needs of the individual. Making it really hard for an individual to have one on ones. If a person wanted a questioned answered mid-lecture then the questions themselves would be clarified on an open source so that everyone would get their question answered.

So what’s changed?

We no longer live in a learning environment that big questions could only be asked in front of everyone. Unfortunately, some lecturers won’t answer too many questions after the lecture as they have lives and other classes to teach, so this is not a hugely valuable way of squeezing everything out of the lemon. We now have online forums to ask questions, using our University communications web pages. It seems easy but this is a great place to ask stupid questions. Online forums are tomorrow’s auditoriums. They still share the same lesson but the added role of anonymity is something of a breath of fresh air.

So is a lecture important?

We all have those horrible memories of trudging our daily slog to our 8:00 am first class, whether in school, course or to university. Those dreadful half-asleep brain marathons drawing on the theater desks. Watching the motivation at the start of a class slowly dwindle until it turns into a woeful can’t be bothered-ness. They say it is for our learning, they say it is to engage us in an appropriate way so that we are able to take in the lessons easier. They say it is good for us. So they say... Some cheeky lecturers even set lecture journals as if to suggest that we are to be forced to attend their wee chats and humorous one-liners that, they say, are extremely important for us to know if we are going to learn something significant that can definitely not be taught online. So they say…

What if you don’t have the internet?

Imagine if you didn’t have to pay for expensive levy fees for University and instead paid a company to hook your farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with the internet. It’s a real travesty why we even have to attend a gigantic facility when libraries are free. When the books we require can easily be handed to us using a little aunty named google. (It’s not uncle google, males have never known more than females). When administrators and Dean’s can be met with an email and interviewed with FaceTime or Skype media. A time where you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on the operational costs of big heavy, ugly buildings and be treated like a know-nothing alien.

The point I’m trying to get across.

I know it sounds like a massive yarn just to get out of going to lectures, because it is. But for a second consider how important spending thousands of dollars operating hundreds of gigantic theaters all across the world every weekday costs. How much electrical energy would we be able to save if we had windows that brought in natural light? How many beautiful morning walks have we missed out on sitting in a theater listening to a middle-aged man yak on about the font style of his presentation? How much banter with loved ones have we missed out on because we are living in a city our family is not in? We deprive our livelihood to be spoken down to on a shitty Tuesday morning. I mean it makes sense to spend thousands of dollars to do that right? Yeah, of course, it does bro you’ve got it. Imagine how many awesome memories we would have with our loved one’s if the image of going to a huge University changed and we were able to gain the knowledge we needed without even shifting away from our hometown or lived with our parents. I for one miss my parents like crazy! So what does sitting in a crowd full of three hundred other grumpy morning slugs have to offer me that would warrant the biggest priority in my entire life, the love of family, to be second best.

Whatever question you have, it should be answerable without forcing yourself into a jam packed brick walled building on a miserable wet/windy morning. We shouldn’t have to, the dichotomy of going to lectures versus using online media doesn’t actually add up in a 2017 climate.




This is today’s chat. I’m really enjoying these rants about things that shouldn’t be the same way as they used to be a hundred years ago. Be sure to check in each day at 11:00 am NZT. And as always!

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 036 Failure to Me

By Mana Williams  15 Minutes

Let’s stop real quick and think about failure and what it actually means to fail from my point of view. Think about what it does to us and how it affects our lives for a second. Take time out from our heavy Monday to reflect again because Saturday and Sunday are not the only day’s of the week we need to stop and think. Our shit is on flowing so we need to step it up every day of the week. In this chat, I’m going to share a few insights into failing and really get down to the guts of it and decide whether a failure is a bad thing or a good thing, and how it can be used for positive reinforcement. In the hopes that at least somebody out there will be able to benefit from these words in some way shape or form.

What is failure?

Take a step back from an occasion you failed something and ask whether it was your fault. Now stop. It’s so easy to get caught up in that feeling because it’s like juggling a monkey and three banana’s, you’re starting at the produce department trying to find the milk section. Failing something is never a bad thing. The word fail is to not yet have successfully achieved something. It’s meaning is opportunistic, you can get there. Without letting this turn into a self-motivational talk, let’s be real about this and actually look into how failure contends with my belief systems.

When I took year 12, 6th form or 11th grade, Chemistry in school. There was nothing I liked about the class apart from the idea that I would be able to take engineering in University. It was a pretty cushy class but for some unknown reason, I found myself hugely anxious when it came to sitting assessments or indeed exams. The whole class was ruined because I wasn’t able to find the courage within myself to just simply study and reach a state where it was comfortable to sit in an environment and feel confident enough to know that it was possible to pass. But it wasn’t a reality for me. In hindsight, my perception of why it was such a massive challenge basically comes down to the shame of failing the exam. That analytically it was never the failing that caused the limbo but it was more the anticipation of the shame it would cause, failure was just the figment in front of it. Low and behold it wasn’t long thereafter until failure occurred, and it really struck me this anxiety that started out from nothing which developed into real and tangible results. It was such a massive learning curve for me.

So what does the fear of failing look like?

When I woke up this morning, went to my classes and came home to begin studying, I felt this overwhelming anxiety kind of like writer’s block and I just didn’t feel like working. I’m always usually in work mode but today was a bit bleaker than yesterday. That if I didn’t complete my work it might somehow lead to the failure of an entire class, that this failure would be met with unrelenting shame on my achievements and everything goes pear shaped relatively quickly. Shame is the ultimate fallacy that urges us to fear failure. it inhabits our lifestyle if we let it grow on us, like a mold on the roof of a bathroom. It won’t go away unless you are actively minimizing the fear of it.  The shame your parents might bare if you don’t pass a course, the shame your friends might have towards you if you didn’t manage the try. It’s the shame that is psychologically disabling some people from achieving success. Fearing failure is like being scared of boarding a bus to go somewhere and learn something.

Here’s a quick analogy.

The fear of failure is the anticipation of shit weather. Shame is the rain, wind, and lightning that weather brings. Rather than concerning yourself with the rain, learn how to be content within yourself and know that you have got what it takes to ride out the bad weather. Like a little bungalow I guess, some kind of ranch built out of hard work and nails. To be bold and strong under the thick and dense weather. So much so that you hardly even take notice to it. There was one time when I was flying out of Christchurch and we had this whole week of persistent rain. I remember feeling real crap about my whole day and that nothing was going to make things better, but as soon as we flew above all of the clouds into all of the blue fresh skies I couldn’t help but feel how stupid the whole situation was. Just to be able to really zoom out of all of the drama, all of the anxiety and feel way better about me. I guess, in essence, that is the imagery I’m trying to get across. That simple effortless perspective change is all that is needed to overcome the fear of stuffing up. Subsequently, the fear of shaming yourself in front of your friends and family. To be able to say, “Well actually there’s no shame in what I’m doing, I’m so much better than this.”

There’s usually more to the story.

It’s got something to do with our other friend, rejection. The fear to be shunted operates in tandem with shame. But that’s a talk had for another day… At the end of the day what matters is that you actively engage yourself in these sorts of perspective changes. That you recognize the significance of not taking ownership for the battles that go on in your head. it can be as simple as the weather pattern making you feel upset or antsy. Ultimately, it’s down to you to make your change, but in my experience, finding positivity in every opportunity even if that is failing at something is a huge learning curve.




That’s today’s little chat, it’s not been a great day but I’m super stoked to get this content out there because it’s my first relevant post about some symptoms I’ve been experiencing lately. I hope this in some way has helped someone, but if not I’ll try again harder tomorrow. And as always…

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 035 Rejection

By Mana Williams.  15-20 Minutes

It’s something we don’t usually like to think we have any problems with. But the truth is, so many people like myself struggle with the gunk-on-the-shoe that is rejection. In tonight’s wee chat I would like to evaluate my battle with rejection and offer up some tangible ways of resolving the problem at a basic level in the hopes that hopefully one person can get something out of it.

So where’s my analogy?

It’s more than just gunk on a shoe. It follows you around every which way until it’s physically pried off with a fork and some elbow grease. Rejection is a problem so many people actively choose to ignore rather than deal with and I totally understand where they’re coming from! It’s painfully hard to admit that you have rejection issues. But looking into the core outlines of why it is that way or digging through the muck to find some leeway is really powerful. So like gunk on your shoe, it can become stuck but it can also become unstuck if you’re willing to spend enough time applying some effort looking into why it is that way.

It’s easy to get frustrated.

Looking back at some history it’s clear to me that when I felt left out of a given situation or didn’t feel empowered by my daily interactions with people it was easy for me to escalate things far beyond where they needed to be. As a coping mechanism, it was easier for me to simply blame others for their shortcomings without taking ownership for my problems because I was frustrated by everything. If we are particular about it, I really struggled with the concept of lust. Not love, It’s not possible at that age that this little brown boy was able to sense anything passed banter within the graphics class.

At a deeper level, certain traumatic situations that happen when we are kids are kind of like booby traps. They trip us up in our development and stunt the growth we deserve. Without functioning evenly we are so consumed by the realization that we need to feel the love our parents can provide. Usually from someone external like a girlfriend or a partner. This was a huge challenge for me in many ways, but it also helped me become the strong headed individual I am today. Having battled with some new information recently that when I was a kid and was taken away from my parents and placed into the custody of Child Youth and Family. Never before had I ever believed that this had ever defined the person I have become, until today… Some kids lose their parents at a young age, others lose their parents at an older age, and some lucky kids don’t lose their parents at all. With these little incremental situations happening even at an age before remembrance it was clear to my step-mum that the rejection concerns would later develop into bigger more widespread issues. It’s not clear to me if she really knew how much or how true it really was…

How bad could it possibly be?

Without getting into specific contextual memories, my experience with rejection is very reactive. The need to always be first, or the constant issue with staying still to have time to think about my feelings or prioritize in an intelligent or logical way. A couple of the feelings that I tended to use when faced with rejection was usually anxiety or depression. These two corrosive inhabitants generally dislike optimism so it’s not hard to feel negative in social situations when battling with this sort of stuff. Whether it’s at church helping on the barbecue, or in a flat party with your ex-girlfriend nearby. Forgetting something in a supermarket line then trying the shit house shuffle technique to ninja your way back to the produce department without other customers noticing, or when you’re meeting with a minister to inform her that she isn’t doing a good enough job. Even if you are in some sort of power role in a martial arts club and need to teach students how to respect people with words instead of fighting them with feet and fists. Almost every situation is affected by how we are feeling. Rejection compromises our mindset and therefore affects us and our way of treating others, but more importantly, how we treat ourselves. It’s not simply the case of applying a band aid to the problem and hoping it goes away. It takes consistent effort that is never fun and is always challenging.

So what’s some solid advice?

Who doesn’t like to see something through till the end? It’s basic human qualities. Once you recognize that you have a real problem with rejection, you know there are truths within various moments that caused you to feel that way. Once you have the capacity to take on your brain in the biggest battle of your life, then every day is a battlefield you need to be ruthless in.

Just kidding…

It’s not hard at all. The answer is simply to love yourself and value yourself more than you value the opposing acceptance of your peers then you won’t feel rejected. Your second port of call is to actively engage and reverse engineer how you feel about a certain situation and managing those emotions in a way that makes you understand that everything is going to be okay. The third reinforcement is to seek the support of others, not in an externally lustful relationship kind of way, but more in a loving and supportive way of those around you to boost you back up to the front lines of the great fight against yourself and your old way of dealing with things.

Hopefully through this way of thinking you might experience a personality shift. Give it some salt, it deserves it because the problems we hide cause others grief and that matters…




I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty pumped to evaluate on this issue.It’s definitely a concern of mine that shares so much valuable light onto my strengths and weaknesses. I’m super fortunate to have the support that I’ve grown up with and I really value their time and energy. I’m also hugely grateful to you guys for reading my blogs, it’s hugely important to myself that you guys are here, so thanks, and as always…

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 034 What is Music to Me?

By Mana Williams.  15 Minutes

From Minaj to Beethoven, what is it that makes music so seamlessly a part of who we are and how we get through our daily slog? What does it do? What is it’s purpose? What even is it? Today’s chat focuses on something a little lighter, it talks about how I feel about music and what it’s been able to change in my life and gives a little lens into one or two examples of where it’s made a significant difference in my daily.

I remember when I was struggling with rejection issues as a kid, not really sure what my fit was. The pre-pubescent years when a few reality curtains got pulled down. The very first steps I took on my journey of growing up I guess. Music was an ideal way for me to express how I was feeling at a particular time. The way I could speak without speaking. Affirmation in the artistical sense. You could say it was the tussock grass on a distant beach that provided enough coverage and privacy for me to build a boat and set sail to this ridiculous rollercoaster life that I’ve had so far! Which is pretty epic.

So what does music do?

Now I’m not qualified in instrumental acoustics so you can’t quote me on any of this stuff. But I’m still going to say it. Music is the vibrations our ears pick up on. In no particular order, we grow in an atmosphere buzzing with music. Even with unpropagated stuff, like bird song, like the noise rain makes on a tin shed rooftop. It’s all music to our ears. As we grow up it becomes easier for us to manipulate how we listen to music. From the car stereo to the volume of the television. Music is a drug for broken people, and we all have scars especially if we aren’t aware of them. That’s not a bad thing, though. It has become something we can rely on and know we have privacy consoling in. Something to feel at ease in, whether that’s after a hard days work, or if you are struggling with your homework assignment due in on Monday morning. That three and a half minute ‘you-track’ is there in your pocket waiting.

It’s more than just a way of expressing how you’re feeling.

Music is a way for us to reflect on an occasion or a moment. When one of my close family members passed away, I remember the song that was playing at his funeral and the message that was reflective of what he would have been saying. When the memorial video played in front of all of his loved ones and friends, I still remember the curtains in the mortuary, the people who spoke on his behalf. I still remember everything that was important to him in my life and that song really enlightens our relationship. Music is a memory, it gives us something to celebrate about even if we forget. In conjunction with appealing to all people, it also gives us a way of recovery lost files.

When it’s a rainy day…

Something we can use to reflect on our week, that can take us out of the mess of our day. It’s been used this way for hundreds of years. In church, singing is a form of worshipping God as a means of expressionism and prayer. Every week I go to church because I can feel the realness in the words people sing. Even if they struggle to mean what they preach I still know that in that space, the emotion behind wanting to sing and wanting to express how they’re feeling male or female is a way for that person to relax within themselves and reflect for that one little tiny moment and become more content with themselves. I’m certainly like that! Sure, I struggle with the meaning behind the worship song but we will talk about religion and God another time. Having faith in myself to know that music is expressive of how I feel and the indifferences that I’m challenged by in my week.

What is it’s purpose?

Genre-language based communication. Some songs are about love and affection, others are about death and the destruction of the establishment. Some can be more passive like the love of Jesus, others might be more reclusive and solemn like classical instrumentals. These different categories are a way for people to align what they are listening to with how they are feeling. Like Spotify, which is an open sourced online music channel, can be searched using a genre filtering navigation tool. it allows us to search up songs based on what kick we need. In essence, that is the purpose of music. To give us the kick that we need in different emotional situations. 

But it’s not always doom and gloom!

It doesn’t always have to be for broken people either! Saturday night flat parties with all of your friends and a few extended mutuals dancing on tables and laughing about nothing can be fun too. Using music to enjoy others company. I remember when my friends and I were in Intermediate School at our school ball listening to Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the USA’ blaring out from the speakers. Now I will admit it’s not a memory that I am hugely proud of… But it was still so much fun and it’s hard to take anything away from it. Just because it was so much fun!

I guess that point I’m trying to get across here is that we use music as a source of enlightenment. Something to connect us up to how we want to be feeling or a tool to learn something we didn’t already know. To celebrate a memory we had once or one of loved ones. To worship in church or to get crazy on the dance floor with. Music in many capacities is something that’s become people of all sorts.




This is today’s melancholic chat, I’m really loving the support that I’m receiving through this work. So again I have to say a massive thank you to everyone! As always…

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 033 Water

By Mana Williams. 15 Minutes

In today’s chat I wish to talk about a massive problem New Zealanders are facing in everyday lifestyle. That is we have one of the highest rates of child abuse per capita of any country in the world which is completely disgusting. Although this is a really heavy topic I wish to address a perspective change which I feel would build up a resilience towards recognising that all children are born with equal potential and that routine and culture change how some people judge a child to be. In the hopes that I might convince you that personalities are different from culture. That children would be loved in the way they need to be.

So here goes…

It’s way too common that some people believe that if you are of a certain culture you can be put into a box, to assume that individuality is dictated by your culture. But they are both completely independent. One certainly affects the other but neither relies on either. I really like to use the metaphor, “Personalities and Culture are like Water in a Glass.” Meaning a personality is manipulated and moulded into the culture or environment it is in by routines and belief systems, but at a fundamental level they are completely separable.

I used this metaphor when talking to the New Zealand minister of social development, Anne Tolley, when talking about the life of a child and their expected behaviours when growing up. It is like people assume kids are their parents and are only capable of operating under the same habitual mistakes as their parents because it is the environment they grew up in. I wanted to discuss that it’s really important for us to recognise that a personality is distinctively different from a culture or an environment. I was trying to urge the powers that be into recognising the massive perspective change that needs to occur in order for the brash judgements to be exposed for what they are.

What does it matter to you?

My story is really small. When I was eight months old I was taken into Child Youth and Family, which is the Child Welfare network of New Zealand, where I was taken in by a remarkable family who looked after and cherished me and at the age of 12 years I was able to become whangai, which is the maori equivalent to adoption. From there i grew up and was lucky enough to have every opportunity in the world to take me to places wherever I was brave enough to work hard to get to. However, m sister was not as lucky as I was to receive the same level of care that I got. Without going deep into that conversation, at the age of 15 only last year did she reach a place where she could call her home and say that she had family taking care of her. It isn’t a game, it isn’t a part time job, it’s how it is and I feel that it’s within my capabilities to say what I feel and make a difference by advocating for youth in New Zealand.

So what’s the effects that all this shit has on New Zealanders?

It’s never nice to think that people are their own worst enemies, but often it’s true. When Donald Trump banned seven muslim countries from entering the USA this year, it was in the hopes that they would decrease the number of American’s being killed in terrorism. But to define terrorism we can easily see that it refers to the word terror, or to be afraid of the extremism. But is killing a person in general not extreme? If we zoom in hard on deaths within America we can see that the majority of killings are actually American’s killing American’s. That all shootings are terrorism and that there are assumptions within the problem that a certain kind of people need to be excluded in order for the rest of society to feel good about themselves or to kick the problem under the sheets. Which is hardly different to the perception or expectation that all kids in the care of Child Youth and Family have less potential than any other child. That the child must be defined by the decisions and routines of their parents. That in some way an individuals personality is consumed by the cultures and routines of their daily life, when it’s not.

Who’s business is it to put any child into a box and deem them “vulnerable”? Some children deserve to be supported more to give them the strength they need to work hard enough to get where they want to go. But the support they need is on behalf of all new Zealanders whether they want to give it to them or not. The support they need is not the kind that stereotypes and assumes that each child in care or any child in general might have something sour about their parents therefore they should be treated differently. When in reality, personality and culture are independent. The potential of a child is like yellow paint across a white canvas. Inexperienced and unaffected by the murkiness implicated by reality and hardship. A single stroke to replicate the individual. It was yellow at the start and it’s yellow in the end. Everything that happened in between is how so many people judge a child. If you apply blue paint to the same white canvas assuming that the child is the same as their parents, they will believe it. Intercepting that same stroke of yellow with blue paint makes it green in the end. If you tell someone they’re a piece of shit every day eventually they will believe it. This isn’t dissimilar from how we treat kids in care.

How are we supposed to change the incapable attributes within a broken system?

Let them be. Give them space. Treat them like you. Support them to have the right opportunities. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t put them into a box. By recognising that a personality and a culture or a way of being brought up, particularly in the case of a child, is two different things. Having time to teach others that a persons personality is not completely influenced by how they were brought up. That could be anyone from a Minister of Social Development, to a flat mate who wants to know why some kids are in care.

There’s a thing called mana. It’s not me by the way. It’s a maori belief that every child is born with a certain amount of mana and across their life, it is taken away from them. I guess this can be adjusted to the truth that a child is born with the same potential as every other child and gradually over time people assume stupid shit and wreck their sense of identity, taking away their potential.




This is a really massive topic and can be really heavy. I don’t claim to know more than any other person, this chat has been setup to reflect my beliefs and my opinions only in the hopes that it changes the way at least how one person thinks. But this is today’s chat for you. Im going to bring out another little chat this evening too, so stay tuned!

Thank you for checking in.

Blog 032 Behind Already! 

By Mana Williams 12 Minutes 

Late nights trying to damage control unfinished assignments due in the next morning, trying to find time to meditate or exercise because your day is stressing you out. Tissues in washing machine woes and broken dryers making you go bankrupt. This chat just takes a look at why I’m feeling hesitant at really getting invested in the work that’s been set down on my desk lately. The cognitive limbo between knowing something is due and actually doing something about it. 

What’s been going on? 

Okay so the first three days of the new University year have started and I guess it’s always a bit daunting not knowing what you want out of it. Staying on top of all of your stuff online, in class and in assignments to be ready for the exams. On Monday I went to Taekwondo because I thought it might feel good to get out and do some light exercise just to loosen up and connect with different people. Little did I know how intensely difficult it was going to be after way too many push ups and sit ups, I pretty much fell to the floor in a puddle of my own sweat. Not cool. As a result I was lethargic and grumpy on Tuesday and Wednesday which isn’t ideal but in hindsight the exercise has probably done me a world of good. 

So what’s the issue? 

In conjunction with my last blog about looking for ways to get back into the swing of things. I struggled to mention the psychology behind studying and really looking at how you can possibly justify spending thousands of dollars, using thousands of your own hours just ti listen to a guy going through a mid life crisis teaching you about the architects dress code. Or have a Brazillian lady tell you that it’s important to build an interior project at 1:5 scale and spend hundreds of dollars per person just to throw it out. Or to have an over enthusiastic lecturer spend ten minutes negotiating the colour and font choices of his presentations slides. Does University actually teach us good time management skills or is it just another thing we can learn to avoid and actively feel anxious about not knowing what to do and the lack of courage from not wanting to bail up a lecturer during a class of over three hundred people. 

So what do we actually get from it? 

It’s an investment, from a financial point of view. A place where you exchange money for education and knowledge about a job you want to do. From a personable point of view, it’s not a place for you to grow much as an individual. It’s designed to help give you the tools to work, or to manage the job. University gives you all of the tips and tricks of your chosen field. It’s not designed to teach how to manage the psychological stress of your job. 

Speaking with an architect working for a firm in Wellington, I found that often at times people who actually work in the industry don’t actually work on their weekends. Forty hours per week and no more or any less as is contracted. So as you could assume I really struggled with the idea or notion that these universities could force us to work through our own down time just to be more ambitious with the assignments they set. Too often it falls by the way side that university is a service that we ordered, like an Uber, to teach us and guide us to the place we want to get to using the tools and strategies that they have existing in place. It’s often taken for granted that as individuals we have complete autonomy for the enlightenment and stress we bring into our daily lives. So we can sit and banter in our lectures or make remarks about the work loads but at the end of the day what University does is prepares us for work. 

I know I set out to write this blog about procrastinating doing work, but it’s meant to express how much I care about exposong this bookshelf business that is university.

 Just thought I’d say something… 

This is todays random rant about university life. The next couple of chats will probably look into the state of Child Welfare in New Zealand, should be really intense. But as always… 

Thanks for checking in. 

Blog 031 The Swing of Things 

By Mana Williams  15-20 Minutes

Early morning slogs uphill after missing breakfast in the rain without a pen, without sufficient sleep, without any money for food, this year I’ve taken on two separate degrees, Architecture and Public Policy. It sounds crazy and ridiculous, that’s because it is! This week is the first week back at University. It’s been nearly five months since last year’s study finished. I can remember and reflect on how under prepared and underslept I was through that entire experience. In the sense that I wasn’t quite taking things seriously enough to fully embody the stress and the expected workload that going to University has. This chat looks at getting back to University and getting back into the swing of things.

So what happened last year?

I’ve quickly learned last year that university isn’t a place to be going if you’re not treating it as your priority. I would choose to work on a few different occasions which later stressed my ability to work functionally or reach my full capacity in the work that I was doing. I made a promise to myself last year that I would go through the entire year in Architecture and never have to use the weekend to finish any assignment. I can announce, that not one weekend went by, where I stuck to my promise… Every weekend during the semester was used to catch up on something the week before. Not rare was a late night completing an assignment due in the morning. Not uncommon was a missed 8:00 am lecture at the top of the hill. Whenever a significant hand in was coming up, all of the architecture student’s would convert into banter less stress monkey’s carrying a pile of sketches and a Macbook Pro in a bag down the busy streets of Wellington. Occasions where we had to calculate how much electricity an elevator used, how much water our shower and washing machine used, how much energy our food had. A ridiculous amount of money spent on an interior architecture exhibition project that ended up being thrown out or cut down into itsy pieces and divided out among the crew. Days spent putting together paper cubes, spent stressing out over computer aided design programs and figuring out how to build a wall. If there’s a lesson to be taught about first-year architecture, it would be to expect everything.

So what’s changed?

Spent a long time towards the end of last year by myself. Kind of like meditating at work, just doing the daily, getting through issues, dealing with my anxieties that put a dampener on my productivity earlier in the year. One of the actions I thought was clever was using Instagram to take daily snapshots to record how I was feeling each day, how the weather was looking and a rating out of ten. A really simple but effective way of quantifying productivity in the long term.

Building family relationships up was also a significant change over last year. I’m really reliant on the support of those around me, probably not dissimilar to many of you. So it seemed logical to go through and really build up any lost connections with my family and my friends. one pretty epic little adventure was getting my biological little sister, as I’m adopted,  to come and live with me at home. None of which was possible with the highest amount of love and support from my two amazing step parents. But to have these reconnections gradually strengthened my grasp on who I was and what I needed to accomplish in order to feel like I have direction, have a purpose for doing what I am doing. Also to give me a whack in the head if I slack off at any stage.

Getting back into Martial Arts also helped me recognize some deeper analytical thinking and teach young ones and old how to protect themselves from confrontation without having to throw a punch or block a kick. Hobbies are really important getaways from the viscosity of University and life stress. Martial Arts really helped me distract myself from thinking about University or work stress. A really powerful but simple tool that I feel if used correctly and routinely would be a huge asset to the way I deal with stress when my head goes below the water.

Religion didn’t use to be a priority for me until I realized how significant it can be to help you find answers and be in a safe and open environment. Heading back to church was a conscious decision I made to feel more structured and work towards discovering God more and know what all the hype is about. It’s an ongoing journey. I really enjoy church because it’s grounding, it’s confronting and it’s difficult to hide.

How can all this be applied into your daily?

Routine is a hugely valuable tool, once I get into a habit of posting stuff to Instagram without having to make an effort of doing so and recording how my day is going in a public forum, where I can receive support and feedback, will make a huge impact on knowing entirely how my year went. Knowing and understanding that I am not invincible will keep me focused in on recognizing how important having good supports can be. Having a solid base at home and in the flat will ensure that the ship stays afloat in many ways. Applying time for Church and Hobbies into my weekly schedule is like gains to a gym junkie. The most important lesson is to remain sure about me. Continue to make conscious efforts to make time to reflect no matter how busy I am, and in a big way.

Getting back into the swing of things at University for me is reflecting on all that happened earlier and reminding myself of ways in which I can combat each daily challenge, one Instagram photo at a time.




This was today’s chat for you. I’m trying to make sure I can keep each blog posted at around 10:30 pm/am at NZT  each day, but I get excited, post two in one day, then it really messes with my system. Anyway, tomorrow will be a surprise blog topic so look forward!

Thanks for checking in.

Blog 030 Living In Wellington

By Mana Williams 20 Minutes 

“Cuba Street is where you trip on a latte and land in a tattoo parlor.” – Peter Wood, Architecture Professor.

With its bureaucratic corporate wear and it’s Courtney Place nightlife, the alternative trends, and Student Ville lifestyle, multi-cultural vibrancy, Wellington must be the most sprightly place in New Zealand. Looking at it with a closer lens, this chat will look at what Wellington has that makes it special. There are a few things that will be covered in depth here so it will likely take some time. Like reviews of all places, there are three categorical mentions that can be used to judge a place. These are people, climate, and affordability. These blanket rules are basic and I’ve noticed people usually consider these three things when assessing how appropriate it is for them to move.

Time for a story. So sit back for a second.

Last year I moved to Wellington. Late January, a whole month before University classes started. Backpacking and carrying on, looking to make friends and do as much as possible before the restriction of school began. It wasn’t long before I accomplished that, and thankfully I was able to secure myself a job which is pretty awesome. After I got into my job and started getting into University stuff, very quickly I saw how expensive living in the city was.

So we’ll start with affordability. One way to look at affordability is to compare the price of a two-litre bottle of milk. There was a contrast between the price of milk in Lower Hutt versus the price of milk in Wellington City central by $0.80. That has much to do with convenience. Stores like The Fix remaining open 24 hours per day, because of that there is a huge emphasis put on operating costs for the store as well as convenience. Small apartment lifestyles, student living or couples with children, corporates living away from their homes on a work contract, temporary residents such as backpackers often occupy the central city space. As a result of this, there is a little microclimate that gets people doing little purchases often rather than large purchases weekly. In comparison to places rural or small town regions, Wellingtonians visit grocery stores more frequently, usually because they don’t have an easy way of carrying their groceries home, or perhaps they don’t have enough cupboard space to accommodate a huge grocery shop. Because of this, Wellington has a little niche for small purchases and higher prices for things like two-litre bottles of milk.

If we take the price difference mechanism of milk and apply it to rent and the cost of living. The closer to the central business district you are, generally, the cost of living and the cost of renting is more expensive. Last November me and my flatmates went looking around the city to find a place to live. Our price expectation ranged from $170-$220 per person on a weekly basis. The $220 group usually related to the more expensive stuff or fully furnished apartments etc. In our case, we were looking for a place to live that was close enough to University so that we wouldn’t have to pay for public transport. So generally we looked at places close to the central business district. – Thanks to Lauren for managing to find us a home in the end.

So what makes Wellington different?

Wellington is surprisingly hilly and there are a few suburbs that aren’t realistically very far from the central business district but because they are behind hills or at the top of hills they generally fluctuate in prices due to the quality of living for: warmth, sunlight hours, vicinity to shopping centres, and closeness to University. Places like Karori aren’t actually far out of town but because the suburb is behind two sets of hills you have to drive over a hill and through a tunnel. We looked at buying here at the same $170-$200 range and we were able to get a beautiful house with five spacious bedrooms, and a top of the range dehumidifier system. Way more than some of the slum-like apartments we visited in the city at the same price margin. To put it bluntly, city life is pretty expensive at the best of times in Wellington, but it can fluctuate significantly from place to place.

There’s more than meets the latte.

Otherwise, coffee shops are plentiful in Wellington. It’s not uncommon to pass four or five coffee shops on your daily walk down the road. In a lot of ways it actually builds up a resilience to building people and growing a cultural diversity. Left Bank down Cuba Street and Capital market are like oriental shopping centers. Lambton Quay and The Terrace are like corporate hang out zones. Wellington people exist as all of these little collections of ethnic groups, there isn’t a noticeable Tall Poppy syndrome in Wellington. It’s kind of sad really that we are still today having to suffer through that sort of crap outside of Wellington in places like Christchurch and Blenheim. But I guess that’s why when most people who’ve lived in Wellington usually say they loved it or they enjoyed it thoroughly. There’s a place for politics but it’s not usually buried in the sand in Wellington.

So what are the people like?

There’s a massive vibrancy here. As I mentioned before it must be one of the most sprightly places in New Zealand. I say this because there is a place for everything, normal and not-so-normal. Who can say really what a person is allowed to be or practice? I once walked down Cuba Street heading across to work, and I was held up  by a drag queen who for those of you that don’t know is a person who dresses up as a queen, usually a guy of the male gender right, but this drag queen was driving a couch down the road, and the couch was on fire. There were five people pushing the couch around but it was honestly the most Wellington thing I’ve ever seen. It was only a Tuesday as well. The part I loved about it the most was that nobody really took any notice of it or even questioned them. That really epitomizes Wellingtonians and how little they care about what people are up to. We had a group of friends over at the flat last week and one person was talking about the fashion trends of students in Wellington or just everyday people wearing hugely alternative clothes. For those readers who don’t know what I mean by alternative, it’s in regards to the hipster fashion trends. If you still don’t know what that means, it usually refers to the various slit jeans and four black layers, ear piercings the size of a burger ring. All just a bit impractical, but again, nobody seems to care. Our friend piped up and made the comment that it’s more alternative to wear normal clothes than alternatives. Which means basically it’s weirder to be normal now. It kind of points out that the culture of Wellington is constantly dynamic and is changing every day. In short, Wellington people aren’t massively judgmental. You can be who you want to be and nobody will care too much.


How about climate?

It’s consistent. Either in a bad way or in a good way. Wellington City is a huge wind tunnel. That’s why it’s so notoriously windy. But if it’s wet, or if it’s windy, it’s not far to your nearest coffee shop, your nearest library, or even actually, home. So it’s not a massive factor that would be too concerning living in Wellington.

So overall, Wellington has a lot going for it. There are two Universities, it has every corporate opportunity available, Government resides here, drag queens on burning couches, and an international community.Wellington’s a little micro-climate and it offers up expensive accommodation and costly milk, but it’s convenient in many ways for you to get to where you need to go. So to be fair, I think living in Wellington, is pretty damn good.




So that’s today’s talk. I didn’t have heaps to say about Wellington so I thought I’d get it all down on one blog instead of three or two parts. So I hope you enjoyed it! Tomorrow I’ll be looking at Getting back into the swing of things at University. That should be fun…

As always…

Thanks for checking in.

Blog 029 One Month!

By Mana Williams. 5 Minutes

Four weeks yesterday was my first blog. Since then much has happened. We’ve talked about financial independence, self-value, politics, history, architecture, restaurant experiences, love motivation, sports politics, what a martial artist is and many other crazy cool things! But where has our February gone? This chat looks at my journey so far blogging and where it is likely all going. Each day I aim to help people gain something. Different contextual materials with similar lessons. In the hopes that one day I might actually know a little bit more than my old self.

To sum up my main lessons:

  • Self Value and Independence concerning financial independence and not giving into marketing techniques.
  • Deep love for family and friends. Looking at what that means.
  • History and how we can apply their lessons in today’s climate.
  • Burying the hatchet on matters of social politics so we can move on.
  • What it’s like Living in Christchurch and Blenheim.
  • Creating a foundation for a new home.
  • And the psychology of shifting.

There’s a lot to be said about the various adventures I went on over the last month but to sum the overall structure I would have to say so far it’s been half and half talking about experiences and talking about feelings or theories about different things. Something awesome I’ve learned about doing this work is that I am able to say whatever I want to say. Which is pretty awesome.

Where to from here?

Over the next few weeks, I will be looking at getting back into the swing of things at University as well as carrying on with the great battle of learning how to make time for people close to me. I’ll also look into some more architectural blogs, I also want to look at what it’s like to live in Wellington, what it means to practise martial arts and maybe a testimony somewhere once I get into a more comfortable routine. One step at a time, one day at a time, one blog at a time. I’m thoroughly enjoying writing, though, it mean’s a lot that plenty of people will spend ten to twenty minutes reading my gobbledygook. March is absolutely going to be a hugely exciting month so please keep reading and please keep giving me feedback!

As always!
Thanks for checking in!

Blog 028 The Weekend

By Mana Williams 20 Minutes

I visited Auckland this weekend, headed to the Coromandel Peninsula for a quick getaway and a catch up with some friends. The whole occasion though was mostly spent offline. Which for most people of my generation is completely taboo, which I feel is stupid. So this chat is in discussion with some of the psychological ties created by our media devices at a social level and looks for some answers that people might be able to try.

Imagine you’re going on holiday. Spending time with people you’ve never met before on a beach in the top of the North Island of New Zealand. A nice holiday home with large open rooms and modern decor. Food and drink of all kinds available to you and you are comfortable with the people around.

But there’s one catch. There’s no Internet or cell phone coverage!

This happened last weekend. Within two hours there were a few lost lambs holding their devices up like the Liberty Statue in New York holding her torch into the sky trying to get reception. It’s almost like they expected to get data in the middle of nowhere. I remember one time when I was biking on the top of a hill in Christchurch, New Zealand, looking for a decent photo when it hit me that my entire life was basically a photo book. Wasting around looking for reasons to consume my time on social media like Snapchat or Facebook.

It’s sad that we acclimatize ourselves to become used to natural beauty or adapt our way of living to find pessimism in our own climate that it’s honestly disturbing! We have access to unlimited natural beauty yet we moan and complain about ICloud updates and Facebook posts about Donald Trump that too often we miss what is really important. New or existing connections with friends and the love of our family are the most significant things we will ever have.

So why do we care so much about communicating with the outside world?

I can’t speak for other people because someone might have something important going on, but I can suggest a few things that might shed some coverage on the phony addiction. Reading from a scientific point of view, when we receive text messages or a little red notification number on Facebook, our brain receives a shockwave that releases a chemical dopamine in our body. Yeah, dopamine, one of the many drugs Lance Armstrong used to win the Tour De France seven times. To put it bluntly, it’s a drug which induces addiction. The same kind of chemical reaction that is caused by drinking alcohol and smoking Marijuana.

But by all means, take that call in the middle of our conversation. By all means, sit outside a neighboring house with WiFi. I should rephrase by all means into by any means. Because by any means necessary we look for reasons to sit on our phones. Dinner tables, Funerals, Graduations, in the hospital, mid-conversation on our date, it’s shocking.

So what can we do to change?

Not much is accomplished without a lot of effort. As time ticks over we look at ways to make our lives easier by letting go of stress and self-anxiety. Like watching TV, cell phones offer us some lazy time. But you’re on holiday, spending time with new people who are actually interested in your business, so get off your phone, stop looking for reception, and live a bit better. We are all so consumed by social media, the aspect to socializing and a need for politics and information or communication erodes our time spent with others. It’s corrosive attributes bleed out when other people want our attention. When your little sister is wanting to talk with you or when a parent is trying to spend some quality time with you, when your lover is trying to gaze into your eyes. We are all catalyzed by our lust for social mediums that it’s noticeable when we are addicted.

Why the fuss?

Wouldn’t it be great if airports were not a warehouse full of anxious people and overpriced Powerade’s? I was sitting in an airport last night next to a power outlet charging my phone, and I was looking around the airport terminal thinking about all of the people with their cell phones out and how nobody was talking to each other. It was like we all had this predisposition that we were all traumatized by the idea of missing out or the idea of being late for something, even if that something wasn’t really that important. This made up fear like a whip forces us to converge into this way of living and keeps us in a state of anxiety. It shocked me that so many people were in one room and you could literally hear a coin hit the floor. Almost like sheep in a slaughter house waiting for the chop.

What would be a reasonable change?

Sitting in church last weekend was one of the first churches where all of the new students had arrived. Looking around I could see a lot of faces old and new. I was triggered to go and socialize. After chewing a guys ear off, I got an overlay on the significance of properly socializing. Going out of my way to make a new connection with a guy who I had a ridiculous amount in common with showed me how important it is to open your eyes and get out of your comfort zone. Or should I say cell phone zone? Anything to disconnect. Being able to get off the grid helps you find moments of randomness where you learn something new.

So what does it all look like?

If you were on holiday, your cell phone was disconnected, sat in an airport hangar sitting next to your family, what would you talk about? You would gain some rich connections that’s for sure. Precious moments where you might talk about the good old days with your mum or something stupid you did on your first day of high school. These little moments is what it really looks like. I’m not saying you’ll get cheaper Powerade’s at airports but you’d certainly feel less anxious if everyone was talking about something.


This is today’s blog for you guys, I hope it wasn’t too long as I had a long time to put this one down into words. Tonight I will be writing up my monthly talk to check in and see how I’m feeling and see how I’m doing. Would like to say again how thankful I am that you are still here, and as always…

Thanks for checking in.

Blog 027 Between a Rock and a Hard Place 

By Mana Williams. 15 Minutes 

Everyone faces decisions where they can’t win everyone else’s blessing. Compromises can be made to soften the landing, but ultimately tough decisions usually don’t have winners. This chat is on a personal note. It looks into situations we can’t talk our way out of and looks at thought processes we can use to help us better weigh up our choices and make a calculated decision.

Teenage relationships are like two people riding one bike. Two fundamentally independent individuals trying hard to work as a team to do something that has direction and purpose, but most people may view them as being foolish and stupid.

Looking at it, would you change anything about your teenage crush or relationship?

Met with rocky beginnings and rough endings, I would say my teenage relationship had loads to be desired. I’m a huge believer that we are all destined to love someone and deserve it. If the afterglow of a relationship still causes you significant grief months after you’ve let them go, is it worth going back for them? I think so,  I think that maybe as a teenager you are always fighting to maintain balance and care about what other people think. Youth feel that they might not actually be aware of their problem or have the wisdom to equip themselves with the right tools to know what is and isn’t truth. If I was to go back into my previous relationship with someone who I cared about, the change would be around knowing myself better and trusting myself with the decisions I’m making as being right. Being able to sit down and be completely content without confidence anxiety. To be comfortable in me and know what needs to be said and when.

I think age and experience correlate with growth and understanding of other people’s opinions. I seem to notice each day that I become more self-aware of my shortcomings and less interested in opposing opinions.

It makes me wonder if an adult relationship is like two people riding a tandem bicycle, changing the functions of the relationship and working to make room for an extra set of cogs, roles and more room for error. The setup is more functional and because of that, it makes sense to me that an adult relationship is more mature and ultimately more balanced. It would make sense then that age and experience must bring more function to an existing relationship.

So what decisions need to be made?

As time has progressed I’ve become aware that I have some issues. It’s been interesting to find how these issues have affected my life but in particular my relationships with other people. Because I am aware of these problems in many ways it’s like discovering a kink in a hose. I’m still in the process of clearing out some of the more significant issues but my goal is to reach a stage where I can deconstruct my concerns and figure out how to be more positive and be more tenacious in my relationships.

When a relationship breakdown caused you grief and those around you hardship, what actions can you take to make sure you learn from that point of interest?

As a collective, I spent months working myself back to feeling confident enough. After a significant break up ruined my relationship and muddied the water between myself and my closest friends. It became more apparent about the various lessons that needed to be learned and recognized. When choices need to be made, I feel that it’s more important to do what makes you happy, but make sure that you are calculated prior to approach a situation.

Always fight your brain to get through to your heart.

Soppy it may be, but it’s true that nothing will make your life more challenging than the brain perceiving love when there is none. What it’s trying to say is to get to a stage where you know yourself well enough to know what honestly makes you happy, not what your brain perceives as happy. This happiness will let you grow in a way that is functional and will provide traction control for your future relationship.

What tough decision do you have to make?

When a relationship falls apart because two people who have too much going on, there are actions that can be made to restore it with the aim that maybe one day it could work again. Looking at age again and how wisdom increases over time, I feel that one day I will have the ability to be able to make those decisions for myself again. Until that day arrives, the choices put in front of me will consist of positive enforcement. Such positivity includes knowing your own self, as well as facilitating a relationship that is growing each day. Without going into too much detail, within the mentioned conversation is the decision I’m facing currently.


I will continue to write day by day and these blogs will remain a significant part of my day. I’m extremely grateful for the support given each day by readers and I will continue to write. As always…

Thanks for checking in.

Blog 026 Friday Nights at University

By Mana Williams  7-10 Minutes 

Late nights getting loose, flat parties, trashy fashion, low standards, ex-girlfriend drama, and loads of hype. Friday night university life in a place like Wellington can be really full on. Less than a Saturday but more than a Thursday.

A time for short-term promises and long term goals. We are all a part of the problem whenever we enforce the ideology of alcoholism. From about 12 pm every Friday, students begin the descent into the lands of drunkenness. This blog is in regards to University life and the culture of drinking on a Friday.

Why all the hype?

This generation has a belligerent fear of missing out that drives us to seek out the hype. So many push the idea of getting more or getting loose and when you are young it is so easy to accomplish that. This fear of missing out drives the urge for us to be bothered getting into nice clothes have the energy to go have fun, have time to go find love. So we push and we push till we find some hype.

A time of the week when society stops spinning it’s cogs so dominatingly eases up and starts relaxing. In the meantime, students are looking for questionable adventures and intangible developments. We find solace in the rhythm that we are better off joining in rather than resisting the current. It’s worth getting out of pajamas for because it gives us freedom to do silly things.

But what are the consequences of doing silly things?

It’s only a moment, it’s only a night. Looking for short-term preoccupation is about as intelligent as consuming elicit drugs. Short term gain, long term stupid. Within the wobbly world of nightclubbing, it’s not uncommon to do dumb stuff. But for me, not a dance, nor a ballad has encouraged any sort of meaningful relationship. Because it’s probably not a meaningful connection. In the sense that they probably don’t care very highly about what you have that makes you, you. That’s sad.

You’re only kidding yourself believing that you need to go out!

It doesn’t take an architect to realize that going out on a Friday night is unnecessary. With the cost of alcohol at ridiculous prices, how in the world do students afford to accommodate their binge drinking culture? No wonder there is a stereotype of low-quality two-minute noodles marked as a staple diet for students. They aren’t poor they just spend their money on stupid shit.

What else is there?

I’m not saying don’t go into town, I’m just letting you know what’s out there. Guys and girls are both full of potential but they are equally full of drama and that’s not healthy. Not in the sense of unholy stuff, or things that draw you to a person that makes you feel special. Looking for wisdom where there isn’t any.

Instead, adjusting strategy to hang out with the lads, or the girls. Being content with one another and accepting each other for their shortcomings, likewise. Making compromise through their cloud of rubbish because you know your relationship with them will last longer than Friday night.

An early stab of wisdom on a Saturday. I feel that if I continue pushing we might eventually reach a perspective that makes more sense. But for now…

Thanks for checking in.

Blog 025 Compromise

By Mana Williams. 5 Minutes 

To agree on standards lower than is acceptable or to reach a settlement for less than is wanted. To be able to let go in order for a certain situation to occur which might be helpful in the long term is to compromise. This chat is aligned with lessons around reaching a compromise that is peaceful without having to change your personality to suit somebody else’s needs. Particularly in the case of flatting and learning how to become comfortable with those around you.

Is there an ask?

Treating others like shit won’t get you anywhere. So positive thoughts! There’s so much going on every day in the mind of a human that it’s almost fruitless to try and figure it all out. So don’t bother wasting your time trying to argue someone else into a corner. Instead of trying to reverse engineer someone’s personality, be more reasonable and make a compromise.

Some people have personalities, which is usually stuff that they need to deal with. Let them accomplish their own hassles and focus in on protecting yours. Enforcing your own knowledge onto others is like turning over a new page and going back two.

Therefore the first compromise is to listen.

If you think of a house dog, as a neutral member of a family, they are valued and trusted. They earn their stripes not based on how fast they can run or how loud they can bark, but primarily because they are selfless without kicking up a fuss and are content with listening to you.

A dog is a perfect listener, I know shocking right? The ethics of using a dog as an example is they are the extreme value. The opposite extreme value would be a person who doesn’t listen and isn’t willing to make any sacrifices or compromises, they are not willing to listen. That is not to say that you must be somebodies bitch, it just means that within the context find how much you are easily able to compromise without changing who you are, then making that change and show it by listening. The word listen is to pay attention, payment of which we people are often in debt with.

Why would you tell someone what you already know, why would you not just listen and see what new stuff they have?

When you’re missing home, missing someone or going through something tough, it’s important that the people around you are supporting you and showing you respect. But this is a two-way street. If you both have personality differences and cannot acclimatize then you both need to make an effort to compromise. By coming to an agreement you’ll be able to support and be there for each other. Listening to each other and providing answers to any given situation is a bold move, but if sustained for a long period can build stronger and stronger relationships.


Another quick thought for you. I quite like these five-minute hits, if you have any feedback please do say in the comments section below!
Thanks for checking in!