Sir Murray Halberg 7.7.33 – 30.11.22


Phil GIfford pays tribute to Sir Murray Halberg:

Sir Murray Halberg is in the callroom at the Olympic Stadium in Rome with the other finalists in the 1960 Games 5000 metres.

“I looked around,” he’d say many years later, “and I realised I was with 11 frightened men. I knew then I could win.”

Halberg’s generosity led to him setting up the Halberg Foundation, which for almost 60 years has benefitted physically disabled Kiwis by allowing them to get involved in sport.

The kindness and empathy expressed through the foundation provided a lovely counterpoint to one of the most fiercely competitive sportspeople New Zealand has ever produced.

His sporting career could have been over when he was just 17. Playing rugby for Avondale College he was smashed in a tackle. His left shoulder was dislocated, blood clots formed, and the nerves in the arm would never recover. . . 

By 1956 Halberg was at the Melbourne Olympics, making the final of the 1500 metres. In 1958 in Cardiff he won gold in the three miles.

But the pinnacle of his career would be at the Rome Olympics. He and Lydiard had an audacious plan. Halberg would sprint with three laps left in the 5000 metres final.

“I knew what the other runners would be thinking, ‘He’s mad.’ But it was my destiny to win, not to quit,” said Halberg of his all or nothing dash. “The hours and hours I’d put my body through flashed through my mind, and the strength returned to my body.”

Film of the race shows how much effort he’d put in. Once he ran through the finishing tape he swerved to the inside of the track and, in his words, “hit the deck in a heap”. . . 




When we last spoke, in 2011, I asked, at her request, if he’d write a foreword for Valerie Adams’ book. As an official at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester he’d been very kind to a teenaged Valerie, and she’d never forgotten his thoughtfulness.

He wrote: “As a competitor she presents a real game face to the world, but out of competition she is a big hearted, warm and kind natured person.” The same description perfectly fitted Sir Murray Halberg.

The high esteem in which some sports people are held is due only to their sporting achievements.

Sir Murray did much more through the Halberg Foundation which

. . . aims aims to enhance the lives of physically disabled New Zealanders through sport and recreation. 

Our vision is for an inclusive New Zealand.

Our purpose is bringing about moments of joy.

Christine McVie 12.7.43 – 30.11.22


The world has lost a songbird:

Christine McVie, who played with Fleetwood Mac and wrote some of their most famous songs, has died aged 79, her family has said.

The British singer-songwriter was behind hits including Little Lies, Everywhere, Don’t Stop, Say You Love Me, and Songbird. . .  



The power of . . .


Mike Hosking encouraged listeners to watch this video in which Richard Hammond explains what happened when he was in a coma.

Different people will take different messages from it.

The messages I got were the power of the mind and the power of love.


This isn’t NZ as it should be


WorkSafe keeps telling us everyone should come home healthy and safe.

Of course they should, even though some workplaces are potentially more dangerous than others.

Until recently shops wouldn’t have been among the riskier workplaces.

But an increasing number of ram raids and other brazen robberies has changed that.

Dairy and Business Association chair Sunny Kaushal warned that someone would die, and now someone has.

. . . “This incident has left us numb with sadness. It’s quite shocking, very horrific,” Kaushal told AM co-host Ryan Bridge. 

Kaushal said fellow dairy workers will be scared when they go to work on Thursday. 

“They would be fearing for their life everywhere. We were thinking this would happen and the worst has happened and it’s just not good. The family of this young fellow would be looking for answers,” Kaushal told AM.

Kaushal told AM he and the Dairy and Business Owners’ Group have been warning the Government an incident like this would happen for a long time. 

“We saw this would happen. This was the worst fear and last night it has happened,” he said. 

We have been warning the Government and the authorities for a long time that this is coming and no action is taken and the Government has not taken any action.” . . .

Heather du Plessis-Allan opines:

. . . With all those ram raids, daylight robberies, tobacco thefts, we could see this coming. 

I’m not going to lay blame on anyone for this other the person who did it. Because no one put the knife in their hand. They did it, it’s their fault.

But I’m talking about the politics of this.

Because this is very, very bad for the Government, but especially for Jacinda Ardern. 

The public fury at what’s happening to our shopkeepers and shops is at fever pitch.

We have bystanders now chasing and confronting robbers in baklavas out of sheer frustration at the fact that the authorities seem to not be doing enough.

People are going to be very angry that it has now claimed a life.

And they will blame the Government because it is the Government they look to, to do something. 

And nothing has been done other than a pitifully slow roll out of bollards to a handful of shops.

It doesn’t help Labour that they are perceived as ‘soft on crime’.

They’ve repealed the three strikes law, they’ve given millions to the Mongrel Mob, they’ve emptied the prisons, and they’ve admitted jail is not a solution for them.  . .

This isn’t New Zealand as it used to be and should be again.

Prisons are, as Bill English said, a moral and fiscal failure, but until there are other ways of keeping criminals from endangering others, where else should they be?

Causes of crime are multiple. Addressing them will take time and money.

That will be no comfort to the family and friends of the murdered man, nor to all the other workers who fear for their safety and who deserve more from the government than kind words.

Lesley Elliott 1946 – 20.11.22


Lesley Elliott MBE, ,campaigner against domestic violence,  has died.

The founder of the Sophie Elliott Foundation died on Sunday at age 76.

Mrs Elliot had been a vocal advocate for abuse awareness since her daughter Sophie Elliott, then a 22-year-old student, was stabbed to death in Dunedin by her former boyfriend in 2008.

Following the death of her daughter, Mrs Elliott set up the foundation to raise awareness of the signs of domestic violence.

She travelled across New Zealand delivering talks to community groups and schools.

She wrote two books on the issue, Sophie’s Legacy and Loves Me Not — How to Keep Relationships Safe, and tens of thousands of copies were given away. . . 

Lesley could have been overwhelmed by her grief and become bitter. Instead she used the violent death of her daughter to educate others to help save them from becoming victims of violence.

She was a living example of how good can come from tragedy and that grief can be a catalyst for helping others.

Robert Clary 1.3.26 – 16.11.22


Robert Clary, holocaust survivor and actor has died:

Robert Clary, a French-born survivor of Nazi concentration camps during World War II who played a feisty prisoner of war in the improbable 1960s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes,” has died. He was 96.

Clary died Wednesday of natural causes at his home in the Los Angeles area, niece Brenda Hancock said Thursday.

“He never let those horrors defeat him,” Hancock said of Clary’s wartime experience as a youth. “He never let them take the joy out of his life. He tried to spread that joy to others through his singing and his dancing and his painting.”

When he recounted his life to students, he told them, “Don’t ever hate,” Hancock said. “He didn’t let hate overcome the beauty in this world.” . . 

Clary was born Robert Widerman in Paris in March 1926, the youngest of 14 children in the Jewish family. He was 16 when he and most of his family were taken by the Nazis.

In the documentary, Clary recalled a happy childhood until he and his family was forced from their Paris apartment and put into a crowded cattle car that carried them to concentration camps.

“Nobody knew where we were going,” Clary said. “We were not human beings anymore.”

After 31 months in captivity in several concentration camps, he was liberated from the Buchenwald death camp by American troops. His youth and ability to work kept him alive, Clary said. . . 

I laughed at Hogan’s Heroes when watching it years ago, without knowing the tragedy of Clary’s youth.

Grow your own sunshine


How do you help children keep memories alive after a death?

Ben Brooks-Dutton writes  on how to grow your own sunshine:

As an entirely inevitable conversation unfolds about death, loss and grief this week, I wanted to share a children’s story I wrote some years ago. Many adults feel unsure about how to discuss death with children, and as a result the subject can be avoided entirely or made oblique to somehow soften the blow. I can say from experience, as the parent of a child whose mum died when he was just two, that I needed to explain the truth about death from a very early age. Despite having all the resources to do this in indirect ways – through animal stories that avoided the words ‘death’, ‘dead’ or ‘died’, for example – they never worked for me or my son. From a publishing point of view, it seems that these kinds of stories are the only ones deemed palatable enough to print. Almost every person I know who has either personal or professional responsibility for bereaved children say they disagree. Perhaps that’s because the worst thing that can happen is someone dying – not saying the words association with death. I believe children need to be empowered with the truth about death in order to be able to empower themselves to rebuild a life after it. And that’s what this story is about. Intended as a picture book, the words are written from the point of view of a child like mine – now 11 years old and with experience that he can share with other children who are living with death. As always, I share in the hope the words can reach and help others.


Sometimes I get sad.
I stare off into space and the world around me seems to stop.
Sometimes it happens at school when I’m supposed to be listening in class.
The teacher is talking and I drift off with my sadness to a place where I feel alone, even though all my friends are right there in the room.
Sometimes it happens at a party when I’m supposed to be having fun.
There are balloons and cakes and happy music is playing, but my sadness takes me to a place where the party seems to stop.

My dad says it’s okay to feel sad.
He says it’s normal when somebody dies.
He says that the sadness of losing someone can feel like it will never end, that it’s impossible to just make it stop when we want it to go away.

He draws me an enormous heart.
He tells me that the sadness we feel when someone dies can grow as big as the love we felt when they were alive.
He says that all of our feelings seem to grow so much bigger when we miss someone with all our heart.

I really miss my mum.
Sometimes I miss her so much that I don’t know what to do.

I’ve tried running really really fast to try to get away from how I feel.
I’ve tried rolling my socks up into a ball, putting my feelings inside and throwing them against the wall.
I’ve tried kicking things and shouting at people when I get really cross.
I’ve tried lots of things to stop myself from feeling angry that she’s gone.

But when I run away or throw things or get cross about how I feel, I usually still feel sad. It’s like being stuck in a grey and cloudy day, waiting for the sun to shine again.

Lately I’ve been trying something new.
I’ve been trying to make the sun shine for myself.
I’ve been talking about my mum and not keeping the sadness inside.
I’ve been listening to stories about her and feeling happier again.
I’ve been remembering her in special ways that make me smile.

My dad had an idea to make a memory bear.
He let me choose a jacket my mum used to wear and had it turned into a bear I called Fred The Blue.
Now Fred The Blue sits on my bed every night and looks over me while I sleep – part bear, part Mum.

On my mum’s birthday we made a cake.
My dad says there are no rules on birthdays so we ate it for breakfast instead of waiting until tea.
He promised me we can do that every year now.
A new tradition to remember my mum with a smile.

And I realised my dad is sometimes wrong.
He told me there were no birthday rules but there is actually one: nobody is allowed to be unhappy when they eat cake.

At Christmas we put up the tree.
My dad has all the decorations in a box that he says keeps the memories safe.
When we open it up it is full of the baubles that my mum bought and others that we collect each year to make her part of the celebrations, even now she’s gone.
One of them has a picture of her inside cuddling me when I was really small.
I love to see the two of us together there, on the tree.

I do some things on my own, too.
I take some time to myself and look at pictures of my mum.
I imagine what she would have sounded like and how she might smell.
Dad plays me a video of her talking and buys me the perfume she used to wear so I can hear and smell her for myself.

Sometimes I just need to talk to someone new.
I ask my dad if there are other children like me or if I’m the only one.
“You’re not the only one,” he says, “There are other children out there just like you.”
We meet some and it’s nice not to feel alone.

I tell them all the ways I try to keep my mum’s memories alive and they share their ideas, too.

They tell me about the stories they write to remind themselves of the mums or dads, brothers or sisters, or even grandparents who have died.

They talk about the memory jars and memory boxes they fill with all kinds of things that remind them of the people they love.

A little girl even tells me about the sunflower seeds she planted so that she could grow memory sunshine for herself.

And I remember learning how flowers grow.
That flowers bloom not just with light from the sun, but also with rain from the clouds.

And then I realise that I can grow this way, too.

That grey skies will form and I will feel sad again, but I will grow understanding that my sadness is made of love.

That tears of sadness will come and fall like rain again, but I will grow knowing that my tears are made of life.

That rainbows will appear across the sky, but I will grow believing that they are upside down smiles made of colour.

That storms will come and I will feel scared, but I will grow knowing that behind the clouds shines a constant sun made of promise for brighter days ahead.

And I will learn to grow my own sunshine.

And I will learn to grow.

This was written for children, but like all good writing for children, I think it would be helpful for adults too.

Leaders of loving service


People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.

Those are the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby in his address at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

How many other leaders of loving service can you think of?

The media is full of people who are well known for being famous and extraordinary people in terms of their fame doing ordinary things or behaving badly.

People, leaders or not, who do loving service are a rare commodity.

Perhaps Sir Edmund Hillary was one, using his fame, and his own efforts to help the people who had helped him, and remaining humble with it.

He, and the Queen, are both dead.

Let us hope, for all our sakes, there are others still living who serve lovingly.

The Archbishop’s full address is after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

‘She was history’


The British do ceremony well.

Coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral was exemplary as was Kirsty Young’s closing monologue.


When normal isn’t normal


Patti Davis , Ronald Reagan’s daughter, writes of when a private loss requires public grief.

. . . My father was the beacon of light we all gravitated to, no matter how we felt about each other. When forces like this die, the fault lines in the family that were always there remain. Yet the beauty of memorial services and funerals is that for a while, that breakage is healed.

During the five days of services for my father, on each coast, we were more of a family than we’d ever been. I didn’t want it to end. As we were flying back to California from Washington, DC, for the final service and burial, I said to my mother: “Can’t we just fly around a bit more? Go to some other states? I’m sure they’d welcome us.” She smiled, sadly, and I’m not sure if she knew that I was saying I wanted the fragile peace we had during those days to last.

Several times during that period, friends remarked on how hard it must have been to mourn in public. I always said, “No, that actually was the easy part.” I felt thousands of locked hands beneath me, keeping me from falling. That’s also why I didn’t want the week to end. Once it did, I would be left with the solitariness of my own grief, slogging through the waters that would inevitably rise around me.

Even if you are the royal family, the most famous family in the world, everyone doesn’t see everything about you. There is grief that spills out in the shadows. We need to remember that when we watch the public ceremonies surrounding the queen’s passing. . .

Driving home through dark quiet streets, I knew the river of grief that was waiting for me, and I knew I would have to cross it alone.

My hope is that people remember this about the royal family: In the end, though they breathe rarefied air, they grapple as we all do with life and death, with the mystery of what it means to be human. When darkness falls, and they are alone, they sink into the same waters that everyone does when a loved one dies. And they wonder if they’ll make it to the other side.

Grief doesn’t end with a funeral but after it, people outside the inner circle of grievers return to normal life while those inside that circle are left to come to terms with the knowledge that normal isn’t normal any more.

And that normal is forever.

Grief is sometimes likened to an illness from which the grievers recover.

It’s more like a wound.

At first it bleeds profusely and the pain is so intense it’s all consuming.

The love and support of family and friends can help dull the pain and stem the blood, sometimes professional help is needed, but even with  that, the slightest knock will restart the bleeding and the pain.

Gradually a scab forms. At first it’s still tender and easily dislodged, often unexpectedly and at inopportune moments.

Eventually, and there’s no rule on how long that takes, the wound heals but the grievers are left with a scar that will always be with them and even years after the grief wound was inflicted it can hurt.

This doesn’t mean grief is always all consuming, nor that it’s not possible to be happy and enjoy life again.

It means that grief changes you and while you can, and most do, adjust to the new normal, it can never be normal as it used to be.

Tonight (New Zealand time), Queen Elizabeth II’s life  will be celebrated at her funeral and she will be buried beside her husband and parents.

The world will keep turning, the media will find something else on which to focus, and normal will be normal for most of us.

But not for those whose grief is so personal and who will have to adjust to a new normal without the one they loved – and still love because love is stronger than death.

3 secrets of resilient people


Lucy Hone did a lot of work on resilience after the Canterbury earthquakes.

A few years later her daughter, her daughter’s best friend and her mother, who was also Lucy’s friend, were killed in a car crash.

Lucy used both experiences to help other people with big challenges.

Private grief, public grief


Andrew was born on the 9th of September and he died on the 9th of September.

He lived only an hour and my mother never saw him. He’d been delivered by caesarean and by the time she came round from the anesthetic he’d been taken away.

One of my earliest memories is my father telling me not to talk about him because it would upset my mother. That was the way death and grief were treated back then.

Only recently, more than 20 years after my mother died, did I find out he’d been cremated in Dunedin and his ashes scattered in a cemetery there.


Tom died on the 9th of September, more than 20 years after the birth and death of his uncle.

One of the doctors who had looked after him told me that we all make a fuss over saying hello, it’s must as important to say goodbye properly.

Tom had a degenerative brain disorder and a lot of people said it was better that he died.

I knew what they meant but as I bobbed round in a sea of grief I wondered, if this was better how bad would worse be?

I was constantly tired but couldn’t sleep, I often felt physically unwell and I would get upset and angry over things that I ought to have been able to deal with calmly.

It took a Women In Agriculture day on feelings that are a pain in the neck to help me understand grief was the problem.

What I learned that day made me realise that although I didn’t blame anyone for Tom’s disability and death, I was still really, really angry that the baby we’d wanted and loved had died.

That day learning how to name and claim my feelings helped me tame them.

I also had wonderful support from extended family and friends.


Queen Eilzabeth II died on September 9  on the New Zealand calendar, though it was the 8th in Scotland.

Knowing it was the anniversary of my brother’s birth and his and my son’s deaths, made me grateful that I was able to grieve in private. Those who loved the Queen and were closest to her, have to perform public duties and have so little opportunity for private grieving.

The Queen was a public figure and there is widespread sorrow at her death. Her family and friends will be touched by the many, many people whose life she touched and who are sad it is over.

But how hard it must be for them, to be in the public eye when the pain at the death of their mother, grandmother and great grand mother, is so raw.


Grief is hard and it hurts.

It’s not like an illness you get over, it’s a process you go through. It’s more like a wound, the scar of which you’ll always carry even when, with time and love, the intense, raw pain passes and you’re able to be happy again.


If you’re looking for something to help with grief, or help someone who is grieving, one of the best resources I’ve found is Refuge In Grief.

That’s where this video comes from:



‘She showed the world how to give, how to love and how to serve.’


Oratory is becoming a lost art, but Boris Johnson still has the gift.

Happy and Glorious



‘Laughter is the only cure for grief’


“ . . .  I believe that laughter is the only cure for grief and that love is stronger than death.” – Robert Fulghum.

Olivia Newton-John 26.9.48 – 8.8.22


Olivia Newton-John has died:

Born in Cambridge in 1948, Newton-John and her two siblings – the grandchildren of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born – moved to Australia with their parents when she was just 5. It was there that she won a trip to London on television talent contest. The appearance would lead to numerous spots on local Australian programs before she redeemed her prize and traveled back to the U.K.

In London, Newton-John began touring as one-half of Pat & Olivia – her act with Pat Farrar. By 1971 though, Newton-John’s solo career had kicked off. Two albums – If Not For You and Olivia – followed in quick succession, before 1973’s Let Me Be There certified her star status in the U.K. and the U.S. The title track won Newton-John her first Grammy, for best female country vocal performance.

The next year, Newton-John collected two more Grammys, this time record of the year and best post vocal performance, female – both for her timeless hit “I Honestly Love You.” In total, Newton-John was nominated for 12 Grammys throughout her career, winning once more for video of the year with “Physical” in 1982.

Newton-John was also recognized with multiple Country Music and American Music Awards, as well as four People’s Choice Awards.

In 1978, Newton-John’s acting career took off with Grease, in which she starred opposite Travolta as innocent high schooler Sandy. The role earned Newton-John a Golden Globe nomination. 

Two years later, she lead another movie musical, Xanadu, before later appearing with Travolta again in 1983’s Two of a Kind. Despite a few other film and television roles, Newton-John’s focus returned to music.

Newton-John — who received the Officer of the Order of the British Empire medal in 1979 — wed actor Matt Lattanzi in 1984, with whom she welcomed her only child, daughter Chloe Lattanzi, in 1986. The couple divorced in 1995.

One of the first stars to publicly share their health crisis’, Newton-John revealed in 1992 her first diagnosis with breast cancer. Her battle – which included a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and breast reconstruction – ultimately lead to the creation of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Melbourne. In the decades since, Newton-John become an advocate for cancer awareness and research.

In addition, Newton-John began as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador in 1991, and once served as the national spokesperson for the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition. She and Easterling – whom she wed in 2008 – also worked closely with the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research.

Eight years before her death, Newton-John was honored with the Medal of the Order of Australia. . . 

Judith Durham – 3.7.43 – 5.8.22


The Seekers’ lead singer, Judith Durham has died:

. . . Born in Essendon in Victoria, Durham recorded her first EP at 19 and went on to worldwide fame with The Seekers, selling more than 50 million records.

Durham is believed to have died in hospital on Friday night from an undisclosed illness.

As part of The Seekers, Durham was one of the first Australian artists to achieve international success, with songs like Georgy Girl, I’ll Never Find Another You, A World Of Our Own, Morningtown Ride, I Am Australian and The Carnival Is Over. . . 


John Grenell 19.7.44 – 26.7.22


Country music singer John Grenell (formerly Hore) has died.

. . . Grenell, who was born in Ranfurly, had a number one hit single in the 1990s with the Jim Reeves song, Welcome To Our World.

The song was heavily featured nationally in a Toyota vehicle TV advertising campaign.

He also had a big hit with the song I’ve been everywhere which was adapted to feature many place names in Aotearoa.

He performed in several countries and won multiple country music awards. . .

And now for the good news


It’s all too easy to find news that paints modern life as worse than it was in the past.

But there is some good news:

The Happiest Man On Earth – Eddie Jaku


Eddie Jaku was a proud German but he and his family were also Jewish and when Hitler came to power their lives changed for the worse, and for ever.

HIs autobiography tells of a happy childhood, harrowing young adulthood, several years of which were spent in concentration camps, and life afterwards where he moved to the other side of the world and his work was rewarded with the Order of Australia.

It is testament to the worst and best of humanity, the power of friendship and love, and how good can triumph over evil.

It also shows the truth of the words of another holocaust survivor, VIktor Frankl: Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

The Happiest Man On Earth by Eddie Jaku.

Published by Pan Macmillan

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