March 2014

The following is the column published in the Northland Age yesterday. Interestingly I was approached first thing in the morning by a woman telling me of a nationwide TPP protest  beginning at 1pm on Saturday, March 29th. Here are a couple of links to check out: This one tells you where each concurrent protest takes place.

Here’s the column:

TPPA31-417x600Our New Zealand government is currently negotiating a massive trade treaty, behind closed doors, that could hand corporations the power to overturn our laws in secret courts.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is called a trade deal, but it is really a huge corporate wish-list aimed at attacking everything from environmental protections to affordable medicines to internet freedoms. And, it would let corporations sue us for any laws they think hurt their profits.

Here’s what it says about TPP on the website:

‘We can already see what happens when corporations get the power to sue democratic governments:

Tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing Australia for billions of dollars in lost profits because the government took action to reduce teenage smoking.

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly is suing Canada for $500 million, just because Canada has laws to keep life-saving drugs affordable.

Swedish energy company Vattenfall is suing Germany for its decision to phase out nuclear power.

Worst of all, these cases are happening in secret international courts to which only corporations have access.

If we sign up to the TPP, future laws designed to protect consumers, our health, and our environment could be overturned –and there is nothing we or our elected governments could do to stop them.

Thousands of corporate lobbyists are helping to write these secret pacts –but the public isn’t allowed to see them. Global governments, including our own, know that the public won’t like these corporate power grabs, so they’re hoping to keep it all under the radar until it’s too late to stop them.’


At this moment, Canadian company Infinito Gold is suing the Costa Rican government for over $1 billion because Costa Rica rejected Infinito’s plan to build an open-pit gold mine in a pristine tropical forest.

Over 75 per cent of Costa Ricans are against the proposed mine, and in 2011, Costa Rica banned all open-pit metal mining in the country.

In March 2011 the New Zealand Government committed to a goal of New Zealand becoming smoke free by 2025. This admirable and achievable goal will allow our children and grandchildren to be free from exposure to tobacco and tobacco use. It is not a ban on smoking. The goal is that the smoking prevalence across all populations will be less than 5% and tobacco will be difficult to sell and supply. Imagine, as is currently happening in Australia, if our government is sued by the tobacco giants for discouraging smoking. Potentially every New Zealand taxpayer would be beholden to the tobacco corporates.

Since the 1980s New Zealanders have witnessed the increasing ability of corporations to influence government policy. We don’t need further erosion of our democratic rights. We need to be masters of our own destiny. You can tell the leaders of our political parties to stand up for New Zealand and reject the TPP corporate power grab by following this link:

You can also be part of the protest on March 29th. Here’s why:

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See

The Tree House at Night

The Tree House at Night

In December on a whistle stop tour of our beautiful Far North I had the pleasure of briefly revisiting The Tree House lodge on the calm mangrove shores of the north Hokianga Harbour not far from Kohukohu. I say revisit because our family has stayed there a number of times over the years, first when our children were very young and we were living in Kerikeri and more recently when they were in their teens and we were attending a ceili in Kohukohu.

In case you don’t know, The Tree House is a backpacker lodge that at times has been selected as the top backpacker accommodation in New Zealand and still consistently pulls down backpacker service ratings in the mid-90% range. It is a magnificent place for travellers to visit, to rest and to receive inspiration for what can be done on the land when there is the necessary vision and effort in place.

Inside the Tree House

Inside the Tree House

Phil and Pauline Evans migrated from Sydney to their present 6 hectare property in 1981. The flat areas bordering the harbour contained only one tree. They set to work planting 10,000 trees and today, over thirty years later, they live and work in forest of their own making. There is a macadamia nut orchard, many productive fruit trees including the first black sapote I have seen fruiting in the Far North and there is a guided nature trail through healthy regenerating native bush. The wooden house on stilts they initially built received an addition that was the original backpacker accommodation. It was built using recycled windows and other materials on a limited budget. And now there are a number of other units to stay in, one overlooking a pond, others with glimpses of the harbour and still another facing a small paddock also available for camping. Bird life is prolific including a number of ground foul that Phil and Pauline and family look after.

Another Tree House Cabin

Another Tree House Cabin

There are now three generations of Evans’ living at The Tree House including 18 month young Coed (Celtic for ‘forest’- appropriately named, don’t you think?) and the entire family are to be commended for creating a successful lifestyle and business on a limited budget. Their creation continues to enhance the vacation experience of many overseas visitors and brings tourist dollars to our area. We need more such examples.

Coincidentally, the day after the aforementioned visit to The Tree House our Wednesday tramping group were guided around a 170 acre rugged coastal property at Te Ngaere Bay. Te Ngaire 13 034Our guide was John McBain, a fit and knowledgeable octogenarian Forest and Bird member who was hired by the owners of this ex-farm to plant a ‘few’ trees. 11,000 native trees (including 600 pohutukawa) and twenty years later we walked for hours through the forest of one man’s making. He did receive help at times from some local young men. Here is yet one more example of what can be done with vision and dedicated effort. Wow!

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See

WPD1I recall a study done some decades ago at a prison. Half the inmates were put on a strictly vegetarian diet and the other half of the prison population retained their usual meat-based dietary fare. After a few months the behaviour differences in the two study populations were obvious. Violence amongst the vegetarian prisoners just about vanished, yet it remained at its usual level with the meat-fed control group.

Tolstoy wrote back in the 1800s that as long as we have slaughterhouses, we will have battles. Strong statement, don’t you think? And yet, the battles continue and violence, even in our homes, is not unusual.

Jesus was an Essene. The Essenes did not believe in the sacrifice of animals, a common practice of their day. They demanded complete cleanliness of the body and dressed always in white. Since they did not believe in harming any of God’s creatures, they were strict vegetarians. When Jesus spoke of meat, he was referring to food of a vegetarian nature. The Greek words we loosely translate as ‘meat’ merely mean food or nourishment. Thus, when Jesus is quoted as asking, “Have you any meat?” he was really asking, “Have you anything to eat?” There is no documented evidence that he ate anything other than live, vegetarian food, even when visiting the homes of the rich, where he was often a guest.

Perhaps we need to listen to courageous speakers and writers such as Will Tuttle, Ph. D. I have in my hands a copy of Dr Tuttle’s book titled World Peace Diet and subtitled Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony.

Will Tuttle

Will Tuttle

The plant-based lifestyle and diet advocated by Will Tuttle is nothing new. What is perhaps new is the comprehensive and compassionate manner in which Will Tuttle links our feelings, our psyche and our individual and collective behaviour to the way in which we treat animals. He is a compelling voice for the many sentient creatures we share this beautiful planet with. He is urging humankind to move from human to kind.

It so happened that Will Tuttle spoke in Kaitaia at the Te Ahu Centre on Sunday, February 23rd. Dr Tuttle is the co-founder, with Judy Carman, of the Circle of Compassion and the Worldwide Prayer Circle For Animals. A classical musician and former Zen monk who studied in Korea, Will Tuttle spoke about the connection between what we put on our plates and the current state of affairs in our lives and in the world.

On Sunday 23 February at Te Ahu vegan refreshments were served at 1pm, Will Tuttle’s presentation began at 1.30pm and was followed by a vegan meal at 3pm. Sponsored by Gentle World, the talk and meal were free.

The turnout for the event in our little town was excellent. And not only were the words of Dr Tuttle inspiring, so was his musicianship on the piano. He played one well known classical composition and one piece of his own making.

For a comprehensive post on Will Tuttle’s February visit to Kaitaia please visit:

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See