Blog Post: New Year, New Dreams.

My life has been full of experiences, and I’m not even 21 yet. I have learned countless lessons from my mistakes, which has made me a better person. Truth is, I am forever grateful for making mistakes. As an adolescent, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do and became increasingly frustrated under the pressure of my friends, family and teachers to ‘choose’ a career path in such a short amount of time. This got me wondering, am I going to be caught in the deathly life cycle of school, work, die?

To put things in perspective, I was in Italy not too long ago and overheard an elderly couple from England talking about their vacation. This got me thinking about how courageous they are, as they talked of where they should travel to next, and how they’re going to get there. The couple had absolutely nothing planned for this holiday. These people are called non-institutionalised tourists; they take life as it comes, and simply go with the flow. If this adventurous elderly couple can truly understand the value of life, why can’t we all?

Just because you’re unsure about what life you may lead in 5 years, doesn’t mean you can’t make a start on what you want it to be now. 2017 is the year for new beginnings, the year where our dreams finally come true. It’s easy to obsess over the big picture and forget all the little victories along the way. It’s those little victories that can add up to something bigger than you could have ever imagined when you first started.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that you’ve got to feed your dreams to keep them alive. It’s the same with nightmares; If you keep feeding that fear of not starting/doing something you’ve dreamed about, then the fear will grow bigger and bigger until it consumes your life completely.

2017 is here, only you can shape it to make it the best year so far.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha



Let’s change society’s opinion on make up for men. (With YouTube star Ryan Potter)

The male beauty industry is growing at an alarming rate; in fact, it’s growing so fast it has almost caught up with the female beauty industry! With new grooming/beauty products quickly hitting our shelves, is it any surprise that male makeup has been a huge trend in 2016? One person who knows their stuff about makeup is 17-year-old makeup guru and enthusiast Ryan Potter.

Ryan is only new in the YouTube Universe, but don’t let that steer you away from his ability to influence you. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Ryan ever since he started uploading videos to YouTube back in 2014/15. In the space of just one year, his beauty channel has gained over 14 thousand subscribers and has attended multiple YouTube stardom events across America.

I sent Ryan some questions regarding the male makeup industry and his fascination with makeup.

When you first started your YouTube channel, did you ever think it would grow as big as it has now?

“I wasn’t sure what to expect! I first started my makeup journey on Instagram and eventually I decided to make the transition to YouTube because a lot of people expressed interest in watching tutorials on my looks. I’m surprised how fast it’s grown and I’m definitely excited to see where this next year takes me!”


Did you have a goal you wanted to accomplish when you started your channel, and if so, have you achieved that goal?

“I didn’t really have a set goal in mind when I originally started. I did want to hit 20k views on one of my videos which I did accomplish with one of my Halloween tutorials. Other than that, I just wanted to keep on improving my content as I went on. I just recently upgraded my equipment which was really exciting for me.”

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

“In 10 years, I’d like to continue to be in the makeup industry. It’s something I’ve grown to love and have a passion for. I’m excited to see how the industry advances and what opportunities will be available! I would also love to be living in California. That’s a huge goal of mine.”

When did your fascination with make-up begin?

“I think it definitely all began when I was super young. I have a vivid memory of stealing makeup from my Mom’s friends garage. She was an Avon sales lady and she stored all of her makeup there…so I took it upon myself to do a little shopping! Looking back, I think it’s kind of funny to see where I’m at now! Here recently however I really started to become serious about makeup when having nice eyebrows was a trend. That was when I first started wearing makeup, from there I progressed in stages of wearing makeup and here we are!”

If you could choose only one makeup product to use for the rest of your life – what would it be and why?

“I love when people ask me this question because I think most people say eyebrow pencils or mascara. For me I can’t live without blush. I think it makes you look super healthy and ‘glowy’ and it’s a staple for me. I usually don’t wear makeup everyday but I will pop on a little blush just to give my face a little life. I can’t live without it!”

Finally, do you have any influential advice you’d like to share to your YouTube audience who may be struggling through life right now?

“I would say to look ahead. Set goals for your future and work towards them. I think looking towards something brighter can help you get through your present situation.”


Truth is, you don’t have to wear makeup if you’re a woman, you don’t have to wear makeup if you’re a man either, and most importantly you don’t have to be gay to wear it. If I’ve learnt anything from my research on male makeup, it’s that your sexuality does not in any way influence your choice to wear makeup. It’s becoming incredibly common and is nothing to be ashamed of. No one should ever feel the pressure of having to present themselves in a certain way. 2017 is just around the corner, and I feel it’s time we stop identifying makeup as something just females are obligated to do, and embrace its power to make everyone feel more comfortable in their own skin, no matter what race, gender or sexuality you are. Makeup is comfort – just ask Ryan!

Where you can find Ryan:


Twitter: @makeupbyryan

Instagram: @cybersleep

Orca Whales in Taranaki: How can we protect them?

With Orca sightings become more and more common in New Plymouth, how can we help the whale population become sustainable in Taranaki Waters?

It’s nothing new seeing Orca whales pondering through our renown Taranaki waters, and when they do, residents quickly become ecstatic at the news of the sighting and travel down to the coastline just for a glimpse of the magnificent mammal. Orca prefer deep water, but often come in closer to shore to feed on stingray, (commonly found along our rocky coastline). If you’re lucky, you can experience Orcas feeding on stingray! They hunt and kill their prey by grabbing the stingrays, flipping them upside down, paralysing them, and then eating their livers.


DOC encourages residents who happen to be in the water when Orcas appear to be gentle, and to not chase the animal, but actually let the Orca come to you. Under the marine mammal’s protection regulations 2002, it is actually illegal to swim within 100 meters of an Orca whale. This is due to safety concerns and protection purposes of the whales. The penalty for breaching the regulations can reach up to a $10,000 fine! In addition to swimming, it is an offence to harass, disturb, injure, or kill marine mammals, which is a given. The penalty for infringing this offence is a maximum of two year’s imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000. However, it still pays to show respect around these animals. Remember that if a whale approaches you (which is highly likely in Taranaki if you’re a surfer), be gentle and do not attempt to harass the mammal. There have only been several cases of injury and death caused by killer whales, most occurring in captivity. So as for the odds of being attacked by an Orca in our waters, there’s really nothing to worry about.

Furthermore, if you’re lucky enough to see a pod Orca Whales swimming in our waters, how can you properly identify them? Otherwise known as the Orcinus orca, a killer whale can be identified by its un-missable black and white markings along it’s body, this is the main characteristic most people use to identify the whale. They also hold a very tall and prominent dorsal fin. In the wild, Orcas can grow up to 9m in length! In terms of the sexes, females and males differ in that males are longer and bulkier than females and females have smaller, more curved dorsal fins, and smaller flippers.

New Zealand is home to an estimated 150–200 Orca Whales. Those of which travel extensive lengths throughout the country’s coastal waters. Experts are beginning to understand that Orca throughout the world have different personalities and actually adapt to life wherever they are situated, much like humans do. Orca are typically encountered in family groups called pods. Orcas will generally stay in their pods for life, raising their young and swimming alongside them until they mature, therefore continuing the life cycle.

Follow these rules when sharing the ocean with orca.

  • Do not swim within 100 m of a killer whale/orca.
  • If you see any while in a boat/other vessel, do not be within 50 meters of the whale.
  • Do not circle Orcas, obstruct their path or cut through any group.
  • Operate your boat slowly and quietly at ‘no wake’ speed when within 300 m of a killer whale.
  • Avoid sudden noises that could startle the animals.
  • Be sure to experience the magnificence of these stunning creatures!

Is Brian Tamaki Homophobic? Yes.

You can read the full article on Villainesse:

Newly elected and openly gay Auckland Councillor Richard Hills has spoken out against recent comments made by Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki.

“I think we need to treat these comments as nothing more than a joke, in fact we should really be ignoring them, but if we have to speak about them we shouldn’t take them seriously and tell every person in the LGBTI community that they’re awesome and to ignore this,” he told Villainesse.

“I’ve also seen many friends who are religious condemning these comments too. It’s sad that [Tamaki] has a large following though and there will be many vulnerable people in his community confused about those damaging comments. I hope they feel able to speak out to someone.”

Tamaki made comments in a sermon on Sunday apparently attributing one of the causes of the Christchurch earthquake to “sexual sin”. He took particular aim an openly gay Christchurch priest, appearing to suggest that his homosexuality may have played a role in the deadly Christchurch earthquake of 2011.

Tamaki said during the sermon: “The land actually speaks to God. Out of the soil … Abel’s blood spoke to God from a murder. The earth can speak. Leviticus says that the earth convulses under the weight of certain human sin. It spews itself up after a while – that’s natural disasters. Because nature was never created to carry the bondage of our iniquity.”

When contacted by Villainesse on Thursday, a Destiny Church media liaison declined to comment or respond to Hills.

She referred queries to an interview Tamaki did earlier in the day with RadioLive’s Willie Jackson.

“He did a very adequate job explaining himself,” the liaison said.

Tamaki appeared unrepentant in the RadioLive interview, stating that he was simply conveying “God’s message”. Tamaki told Jackson that he felt it was “proper and right” for him to give a “biblical perspective” of natural disasters and went on to attribute such natural phenomena to the “rise and degradation of sexual sin on the earth.”

During the interview, Tamaki doubled down his earlier comments and claimed that it was “no coincidence” that a Christchurch church with a gay pastor was “razed to the ground.”

Tamaki went on to confirm that child abuse, adultery and any other “extra-sexual behaviour” were also responsible for natural disasters, clarifying his view that gay sex is “only one of many sexual deviations”.

Tamaki refused to apologise to the people of Christchurch and reaffirmed his earlier comments that Christchurch was a “hotbed of sin”. Late in the interview he claimed that the bible is “more accurate than anybody else’s word; the media, words from our Government or any human.”

Introducing Auckland Councillor Richard Hills

You can read the full article on Villainesse:

The LGBTQ+ community in New Zealand has accomplished many great things, and has recently celebrated another exciting milestone during the recent local body elections, during which Auckland elected its first openly gay councillor, Richard Hills.

With 12,651 votes in total, Hills will work with former Labour Leader and newly elected Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, along with 19 fellow councillors in his position. The win makes Hills the first openly gay Auckland councillor since the Supercity was established in 2010.

As a gay man, Hills says his sexuality did not impact his campaign, which was based on positivity. “At first I hadn’t considered that my sexuality was significant until media started asking me questions, and for me it isn’t significant, it’s just life. But for many people, especially the many young people who see me getting elected to the council of our biggest city and my sexuality not being a barrier to that, it is quite important.”

He has a strong history of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, with a particular and important focus on youth issues. Just recently he was awarded the Sir Edmund Hillary Youth Achievement Award from the Graeme Dingle Foundation for his contributions to youth and community.

“Who you love or what gender you identify as shouldn’t have an impact on what career you want even if that career happens to be voted on by thousands of people, I hope to also make sure the council is more inclusive than ever, I’m excited about it,” he told Villainesse.

The news follows New Zealand’s fairly recent decision to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples in 2013. Gay rights have been a major political issue since the Homosexual Law Reform debates. The Civil Union Act was actually opposed by nearly half of Parliament. Yet throughout history there have been a number of gay and lesbian Members of Parliament in New Zealand. The first LGBTQ+ MP to be elected was Chris Carter, who became the first openly gay MP when he came out shortly after his 1993 election. He then became New Zealand’s first openly gay Cabinet Minister in 2002. Following Carter, Maryan Street was elected as New Zealand’s first openly lesbian MP in the 2005 election.

But back to local politics: With his historic election victory, there is no doubt that Hills has opened up a vast new array of opportunities for LGBTQ+ people, promoting gay rights in the workplace and providing us with the inspiration we need to become successful in life no matter what our sexuality/sexual orientation may be.

Here’s to Councillor Hills!

An Interview with Writer & Novelist Mary Miller

You can read the full article on the NZ Writers’ College Blog:

Born in Mississippi, Mary Miller never thought of writing as a career. After publishing her first short story collection Big World, Miller’s career grew substantially. In 2014 she published her first novel, The Last Days of California which sold over 25,000 copies.

Q: How did you get into the writing business?

A: I started writing at age 27, when I was unemployed and living in a small town in Mississippi. I had written some poetry throughout childhood and young adulthood, but hadn’t really considered it something I might do as a career. But when I found myself without a job and had all of this time to fill, I picked it back up again.

I began to write regularly and graduated from poetry to flash fiction to short stories (turns out I was never a good, or even decent, poet).

After that, one thing led to another: I continued writing; I sent my stories out for publication; I made friends within the writing community. I basically just made it my life.


Q: How do you deal with rejection?

A: I don’t mind rejection so much anymore, though occasionally it’s still painful (for example, when an editor solicits you and then decides not to accept the work). But even then I’m not bothered for long.

There are lots of magazines out there. And it also doesn’t mean that that particular magazine won’t accept something from you in the future.


Q: What has been your greatest writing achievement so far?

A: Publishing a novel has been my greatest achievement, primarily because I never thought I would. I’ve always written short stories and didn’t think I would be able to complete a long project. It felt pretty great to hold the finished product in my hands and know that I had done the work to get there.


Q: How do you get ideas for your books, are they from life experience?

A: Yes, particularly with short stories. My stories almost always begin with things that have happened to me in real life and then veer into fiction as I continue working on the story.

Sometimes they stay pretty close to my own experiences and sometimes they wander far from them, but they almost always represent how I feel and think about things.

With The Last Days of California, I got the idea for the story from a newspaper article, though the fifteen-year-old narrator is largely based on myself at that age. I imagined myself as the narrator of the book, how I would think/feel in her situation.

Though some of my stories could be published as creative nonfiction, I love the freedom that fiction allows.


Q: What advice would you give people wanting to get into the writing business?

When submitting work for publication to a magazine or journal, always follow the guidelines. Keep your cover letter short and don’t try to explain your story or poem.

Be patient, i.e. don’t write the editor asking about the status three weeks after you’ve submitted your work.

Don’t send out sloppy work with typos and weird spacing, etc.; it makes it look as though you don’t care (and if you don’t care, why should the editor?).

Don’t be afraid of rejection. Rejection is the path you have to take to publication. If a magazine sends you a personalized note asking you to submit again, do it. You need to have a lot of persistence in this game. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to think of it as a game.

When I was an editor at Bat City Review, we read a lot of good work that we couldn’t publish for various reasons. Sometimes the theme was too similar to something we’d already accepted; other times the story was good but needed substantial editing and we didn’t have the time or resources to work with the writer.

There are other reasons, none of which are personal, so try not to take it personally.

The editor is not rejecting you, even though it may feel like that. Also, and this should be obvious, but always try to improve your work, to make it better.


More about Mary Miller.

Quotable: “A story works when there’s momentum, life behind the words. Some stories have this and others don’t, and it’s difficult to say why this is. If all stories ‘worked,’ though, writing wouldn’t be much of a challenge; it wouldn’t be art.”


The Last Days of California:


Should you be drinking more water?

You can read the full article on Stuff:

Do you ever feel like a wilted flower when you wake up in the morning? There’s a cure for that, it’s water!

Humans are composed of more than 60 per cent of water and our cells call out for the fluid every second of every day. We need it to function.

Hollywood star Cameron Diaz stated in her most recent book The Body Book, that she wakes up every morning and chugs one litre of water, and she immediately feels rejuvenated, awake, and out of sleep-mode. I couldn’t agree more.

Water has always been my drink of choice. It just makes me feel good about myself.

If you experience frequent headaches, constipation, or cravings, then you should probably be drinking more water.

To know if you’re drinking enough water or not, listen to your body. If you begin to feel thirsty, then you’ve gone too long without drinking water. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, then you’re not drinking enough water.

The amount of water intake should vary depending on the person. For example:

– If you are on your feet eight hours a day, sweating: You need to drink more water to refill the fluid you’ve lost throughout the day.

– If you’re in an office for eight hours a day: You need to drink enough to replenish the water you’ve lost from inhaling and exhaling in that air-conditioned room.

– If you drink a lot of coffee: Many believe coffee is a diuretic, which means it may increase the amount of times you’ll need a bathroom break. To prevent this excessive fluid loss, you should always drink a cup or two of water after drinking coffee to replenish the water you’ll lose.

There’s never going to be a set amount of water everyone should drink per day – we’re not all the same.

But we can all get the same health benefits.

Here are the top five benefits of drinking water:

1. It promotes weight loss: Water helps remove all the by-products of fat, it reduces food intake by filling up your stomach, and it raises your metabolism.

2. It increases energy: Our brains are largely made up of water. If we drink enough water, we become more alert, sharp and focused.

3. It’s a headache remedy: Water is nature’s free medicine.

4. It keeps your skin looking good: Our skin cells need water to plump up. Drinking water will make your skin glow.

5. It improves your mood: Giving your body what it needs means you get all the benefits.

When was the last time you had a glass of water? Maybe you should have a glass or two now?

Remember to always carry a water bottle with you – wherever you go. It’s truly a life saver!

Comedian Felicity Ward Interview

Read the full article on Villainesse:

How often do you hear of shows about irritable bowel syndrome? It’s not exactly a common plot feature, yet it’s the focus of Felicity Ward’s new show What if there is no toilet?, which is currently playing at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival in Auckland.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to get to know Felicity over the phone, and to ask her about her show. What if there is no toilet? is about her struggle with irritable bowel syndrome, and how she has managed this illness alongside her career as a comedian.

For those who don’t know her, Felicity Ward is multi-award winning Australian stand-up comedian, writer, and actor perhaps best known for her TV appearances on Spicks and Specks, Thank God You’re Here and Good News Week as well as for her work with comedian Heath Franklin (otherwise known as ‘Chopper’), starring alongside him on his popular show Chopper’s Fuckin’ Bingo.

It’s been six years since she last performed in New Zealand, during which time she’s played a number of solo shows all around the globe, and managed to slot in a number of impressive TV performances.

What If There Is No Toilet? was written after her Australian documentary on mental health, Felicity’s Mental Mission, was aired on ABC in 2014. In What If There Is No Toilet? Felicity delves into her depression, anxiety, a lame attempt at self-harm, and her longest running relationship: with the toilet. Her inspiration in creating this show came from her a desire to create good out of a bad situation.

When I asked Felicity about her biggest achievement in life, she described how amazing it felt to create a documentary on mental illness instead of focusing on plain old comedy.

Comedy, however, has played a significant role in her life, and she knew after her very first gig that she wanted to be a comedian. She’s realistic about the comedy road, however, and offered the following advice to young comedians hoping to break in: “Get prepared to become financially unstable! But mostly write as much as you can anywhere you can and gig until you make it.”

I asked Felicity where she gets her material from – “comedy gods” and “the universe” but she mostly finds material from anywhere and everything. Life itself is a form of material, she says. An important part of being a comedian is living in the now, but with society changing so fast, I asked Felicity where she sees comedians further down the line: “Robots have taken over but I’m still paying my bills.”

My name is Adam and I am a feminist man.

You can read the full article on Villainesse:

Identifying as a feminist is not as simple as wearing a ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt. In fact, I personally think those shirts are awful and can send the wrong message about feminism to the public. Feminism will have different definitions for everyone, but all will most likely boil down to the same or similar messages about equal rights. For me, a feminist is a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

Identifying as a feminist can be tricky. For example, if you consider yourself part of the movement or an ally for LGBTQIAA rights, you wouldn’t call yourself gay or bisexual if you were straight, so I’ve struggled with the word, wondering if there’s a sense of entitlement implied by men identifying as feminists.

Do we, as men, have the right to call ourselves feminists? I’ve been pondering this conundrum for a while. I have recently come to the realisation that yes, men can be feminists. Men can go into masculine areas and call out misogyny by using their privilege as a tool to get the point across to other men. Men can be guided by the definition of feminism to actively advocate for equality.

For many men, it’s hard to know where to start with feminism. And identifying as a feminist, or saying you believe in equal rights is only the first step. Real feminism is all about action. So how can we as men contribute to feminism?

– We can listen to women and ask how we can help.

– We can be friends with women without having other motivations.

– We can do 50% (or more) of the housework.

– We can do 50% (or more) of the cooking.

– If we have children, we can take on 50% (or more) of the childcare.

– We can be relied on for emotional stability and support.

– We can demand that our female colleagues are paid the same as we are for the same work.

– We can accept that when a woman says ‘no’, she means it.

– We can question our own use of language to make sure we don’t make any comments about women that could be sexist.

– We can use our privilege to call out sexism and misogyny when we see it. Particularly, we can stand up to sexist men.

Perhaps most importantly, when we identify as feminists we can explain to others that feminism is simply a belief in equality. We can point out to our male friends that if they believe that women are equal to them they might even be feminists too.

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a feminist man. I don’t think anyone should be ashamed to stand up for equality. I am a feminist, and I believe in the political, social and economical equality of the sexes.

Are you an e-waste litterbug?

Received a new iPhone for Christmas? Thinking of upgrading your laptop? These often unnecessary device upgrades are becoming more and more common as we advance through the digital age. Unfortunately, little thought goes into what happens to the old gizmos and gadgets we dispose of each year. It’s a little-known fact that New Zealand disposes of over 70 tonnes of electronic waste per year. If we expect to keep our country clean and green for generations to come, this needs to change.

Fortunately, there are organisations that offer e-waste recycling schemes for New Zealand that focus on resolving this issue, and there are things we gadget-lovers can do to make a difference. Environmental Choice New Zealand’s General Manager Francesca Lipscombe sheds more light on the issue.

What actually is e-waste, and why is it a problem?

E-waste is electronic equipment (anything powered by electricity or a battery) that enters the waste stream.

The scale of the issue is a problem – we’re using and disposing of more electronic equipment than ever before. A Ministry for the Environment (MfE) publication in 2009 described e-waste as the fastest growing type of municipal waste in the world. A more recent MfE discussion document noted that New Zealand disposes of some 72,000–85,500 tonnes of e-waste per year.

This is of concern because E-waste contains higher levels of heavy metals and other hazardous substances than other municipal waste. Without proper recycling this toxic waste ends up in the landfill. There is also an important opportunity to recover valuable resources from e-waste for reuse.

The way we are disposing of our electronics now, what will the effects be in the near future?

By sending e-waste to the landfill toxic substances can leach into soil, pollute waterways, upset ecosystems and have the potential to affect our health. For example, lead causes damage to the nervous system and blood. Barium can damage organs such as the heart, liver and spleen. Beryllium and arsenic are carcinogens.

How do other countries control e-waste disposal?

E-waste is an international problem and a priority in many parts of the world. While Canada and most European countries lead the way with e-waste recycling, the export of e-waste to developing nations, which their lack of effective environmental regulations and controls, has resulted in significant adverse effects on people and the environment.

Australia has legislation in place around e-waste but still has problems with acceptable standards of recycling.

Legislation is a start but manufacturers of electronic products have a responsibility that goes beyond the sale to the end of life of a product.

What are some of the toxic materials in e-waste that damage the environment?

The MfE suggests the following twenty substances could be present in our e-waste: antimony, arsenic, asbestos, barium oxide, beryllium, cadmium, chlorofluorocarbons and hydro-chlorofluorocarbons, chlorine or brominated flame retardants, cobalt, copper, lead, lithium, mercury, nickel, poly-chlorinated biphenyls, selenium, silver, tin and zinc.

How should we be responsibly disposing of our e-waste?

Consumers can be more responsible in disposing of e-waste firstly by purchasing products from electronics brands that offer local, reputable take-back and recycling services. They can also follow through with that by taking electronic products to collection points for disposal.

Do your research. There are some manufacturers who have a very responsible attitude to the complete life cycle of their products. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers of electronic products have made this commitment to the environment.

What is the most common type of e-waste we see in New Zealand?

Over 600,000 desktop computers and laptops were sold in New Zealand in 2007 but e-waste is much larger than just computers and TVs. Think mobile phones, game consoles, tablets etc. For example, in 2011 over 300,000 desktop printers were imported into New Zealand.

How can we find out more about e-waste and how it’s damaging our country?

This is the tricky question as there is a lot of ‘greenwash’ in the market place. I try to encourage businesses and consumers to ask questions when faced with environmental or sustainability claims. Make businesses substantiate their claims.

Environmental Choice also offers a website where you can find information about companies who have taken proactive steps to review their supply chain and produce environmentally preferable products.