Tuesday, 26 August 2014


On a cold and miserable afternoon earlier this month I was reflecting on what to pen in this week’s column. The hot topics of the day came to mind. The All Blacks and the Wallabies clash at Eden Park. The recent funeral of a friend was weighing heavily on my mind. Nicky Hagar’s new book ‘Dirty Politics’ is receiving some very mixed reactions. All of these subjects and many more are typical water cooler topics of the day. 

But when I weighed these up against what is going on in Iraq with ISIS terrorists forcing people to vacate their homes and head for the hills to escape being slaughtered because they would not convert to a radical branch of Islam, I sensed that I found a more worthwhile, meaningful and germane story to comment on. 

It always seems uncomfortable to get too excited about what is going on in overseas countries. We can easily get whipped up over the perceived need for the Gisborne to Wairoa rail link or the pros and cons of fracking but where is our appetite for human rights in general, and more specifically the right of all peoples to live in peace in their own homeland. Out of sight, out of mind ? 

I find it hard to comprehend that we have become so desensitized that what is happening to innocent people in the Middle East today is being glossed over and largely ignored because we are so immersed in events within our own nation’s borders. How often do we hear the words, “Live and let live.” Keep out of my patch and I will keep out of yours. 

This ISIS terrorist threat has enunciated an apocalyptic ‘end of day’s vision’ that must be acknowledged and responded to. We too are also part of their world visionary plan. Time for us all to begin to look out for each other for the continuation of our world the way we know, love and enjoy it !

Garth Hibbert
St Andrews Presbyterian Church 
Garth is a Gisborne born retired business administrator who for the past 15 years has written short stories, anecdotes, columns and reflections about life and current affairs. He is a believer in the Christian faith and a servant of his Lord.

Published in the Gisborne Herald 23 August 2014

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Six People

Recently I have made a priority to spend time just one on one with my son, so every Monday afternoon him and I head out for a bike ride, throwing a ball etc.

We have done many things together as a family and enjoyed every minute but to have this time together as father and son is great.  Often as men we think we need to be teaching our kids lessons every time we are with them I have seen how just hanging out with no ‘teaching’ agenda has been great for our relationship. To put aside the stresses of the day and give him the time he deserves has been good for me as well as my son. 

I have thought about the many tamariki out there in our community who don’t have fathers and how can we as a community show love and care for these ones. They say it takes six good adults to help form and shape a well- rounded person, six people that contribute by being caring and consistent.  We have welcomed other trusted men and woman into the lives of our children; my wife and I realize from our own lives the importance of having good mentors and role models. This community approach to raising our children helps give them a greater multi dimensional way of seeing the world. As with the body of Christ we all have different God given skills and giftings that can contribute to the lives of others. Is there space in our busy lives to mentor and help grow others less fortunate? They often are the ones who end up teaching us.

 Even involving a young person in our normal everyday activities can make a huge impact on them, you don’t have to make additional time in your busy week just bring them along side you and your families routines, washing the car, going to the beach etc.  Of course there is an importance of getting to know the rest of the whanau to build trust, this in itself is a great way to connect community.

A work colleague of mine told me that one of the best memories he had as a young nine year old boy was when a youth group leader picked him up and took him to buy a loaf of bread from the local dairy once a week.

When someone takes the time to care it can be an influence that can last forever.

Much Love,  Jason Akuhata-Brown

Jason and his wife Councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown are well known in Gisborne for their work in the community, particularly in Kaiti where they live alongside the people they care for and learn from.

Published in the Gisborne Herald 16 August 2014

Sunday, 3 August 2014


In the near future, we are going to live in an old villa in the country.  The villa has been altered at various times in its history, resulting in a mixture of styles from different eras.  One of the interesting features of the house is the doors, which have a smooth modern look.  Most people would think the doors are not part of the original house.  The doors are in fact solid native timber with nice panels and have been covered with a thin veneer to modernise the appearance of the house.

The current state of the doors, remind me of an account in the Bible in the book of Samuel.  “......The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).  God chooses a young shepherd boy David, to defeat Goliath and become the king of Israel.  David completely relies on God for strength.

The God at the centre of this story is alive today just as much as He was in the time of David.  I have personally experienced the transformation by God from a “door” vulnerable to damage, to one with a solid timber core that has God has created me to be.  God has gently removed the veneer that I had and exposed a depth and dimension in my character that I believe can only be created by Him. 

There is a strength and solidity that have resulted from a faith in God.  There is also a hope in God that I can hold onto daily.  You too can start the process by simply asking God to strip back the veneer in your life and reveal the character, He has created in you.

Don McLean

Assembly of God