Book Reviews

41lY9QQGpIL__SL500_AA300_My father suffered silently with arthritis for the last decade of his life. Aspirin gave him some pain relief but, frankly, what worked best for him was movement. He walked a lot. He and my mother first joined and then led a hiking group based in their winter home of Tucson, Arizona. I suppose I’ve inherited this love of hiking, or rather ‘tramping’, from my parents. What I would not like to inherit from them is arthritis.

Arthritis is New Zealand’s leading cause of disability, according to Sandra Kirby, chief executive of Arthritis New Zealand.

For a long time I have been a health researcher and educator. I am not a doctor. We are blessed to have a group of truly caring GPs in the Far North. Please see your doctor about your health concerns. But please do whatever you can to improve your health in an allopathic or complementary way. I’m sure our many good doctors would agree that it is important for each individual to take responsibility for their own health.

9780861889730Our tramping group is seasonally joined by people visiting from other countries. One such person was describing to me how he had recently been diagnosed with diabetes and arthritis. Initially he took medication for his arthritis but he stopped after a short time because of unpleasant side effects. With the help of his wife he is now managing both ailments through changes in diet, specific stretching exercises, walking and swimming. He is pleased with the results of the changes he has made.

I have beside me three books on arthritis: Say No to Arthritis : The Proven Drug-free Guide to Preventing and Relieving Arthritis,  Arthritis : Reverse Underlying Causes of Arthritis with Clinically Proven Alternative Therapies and Athritis Relief at Your Fingertips : How to Use Acupressure Massage to Ease Your Aches and Pains.

9781587612589_p0_v1_s260x420Each of these books states emphatically that one need not be a victim of arthritis, that each sufferer can make changes right now to alleviate pain and immobility. Changes in diet, use of herbs and self-massage are only a few of the options available for anyone dealing with arthritis. There is even evidence that adding the mineral boron to your daily supplements can help greatly. Israel has one of the lowest per-capita incidences of arthritis and it has one of the highest natural concentrations of boron in its soils. Boron is obtainable from your chemist. It is a necessary trace mineral.

Don’t lose hope and help yourself and your physician to help you attain better health. Even rubbing the web between your thumb and index finger can provide pain relief. Don’t take my word for it. Do some independent research and put into practice some of the myriad harmless means to improve your health and wellbeing.

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

One night a few years ago I was returning home from recording at the radio station. It was overcast and completely dark and my path took me through the reserve in the middle of Coopers Beach. On the way through the reserve I passed a group of young people partying loudly with alcohol. They verbally threatened me. I found it expedient to walk quickly down to the beach. I didn’t want to risk antagonizing any of them so I said nothing except ‘kia ora’.

The next morning I walked the beach. I picked up a few bits of plastic and stopped in at the reserve to discard them in the rubbish bin. I was shocked to find broken bottles all around the area where the young people had been the night before. I chastised myself for not having called the police the night before. Doing so may have prevented the mess.

Surviving CENTREPOINT COVERSurviving Centrepoint is reputably the first expose written by someone who actually lived at the time of Bert Potter’s and Centrepoint’s social experiment, a time of questionable sexual freedom, extremely limited parental guidance and home of New Zealand’s first methamphetamine lab. The author, now a mother of two in her thirties and a physician, does us all a service by being courageous enough to share her sometimes shocking experiences. Five of the girls at Centrepoint went on to become prostitutes. One committed suicide.

We in the Far North have been stunned by a recent chapter of sexual violation to our youngsters. I’m writing of James Parker. His paedophilic behaviour went on for an extended period of time. I wonder if there were those who suspected Parker’s behaviour but didn’t report this to the police at the time. If they had I wonder if some of the subsequent sexual violations could have been prevented.

Just as I could have prevented a relatively minor act of vandalism by calling the police one dark evening there are perhaps those of us who know of some abhorrent behaviour in their neighbourhood that can and should be reported. The police are not always able to administer a successful outcome but we at least need to alert them of potential risks to life and property.

Kaitaia is currently reeling from the Parker crime. Teachers at Kaitaia Intermediate and Kaitaia College are well aware of the repercussions in the behaviour of the affected boys. These young people need our sympathy and our help if they are to overcome the hurts of their experiences and not turn their pain into anger, confusion and questionable behaviour of their own.

Problems cannot be repaired if they are not addressed. Let’s be open and caring and err on the side of due diligence. Turning the other cheek doesn’t imply closing one’s eyes.

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

A few months back I was helping out in the i-SITE at Te Ahu. In walked a young, fit overseas traveller with an enormous backpack. He inquired about getting to CapeReinga. He was about to begin the Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand’s long walk. Now it isn’t every day one meets someone ambitious enough to walk the length of the country.  I had just begun dialogue with this enthusiastic visitor when in walked a fit young woman, also carrying a heavy backpack. She overheard our talk and piped in, “I’m also about to begin walking the Te Araroa Trail.”

Geoff Chappel writes the following in his introduction to Te Araroa: A Walking Guide to New Zealand’s Long Trail: “In 1976, two of my friends, Geoff Steven and Phil Dadson, had filmed and sound-recorded the Maori land march from CapeReinga to Wellington. The poet Hone Tuwhare was on that march and something he said then stuck in my mind. ‘To know Papatuanuku,’ said Hone, ‘you have to go through slowly, on foot.’ . . . In 1994 I wrote a newspaper story that invoked a long trail – a reincarnation of a path that had once existed and had been forgotten. This was unprovable but I believed it was true.”

Reading of this initial glimpse of a possibility through to a complete trail today (there are a few road links still but the intention is for the entire journey from the Cape to Bluff to be completely off-road) is at once fascinating and informative. Like any dream worth its weight, it has taken an incredible dose of persistence to see it through.

Te ara roa book coverTe Araroa is a beautiful book, outlining 113 walks and long tramps, replete with colour photos and 3D maps. I recommend it for any keen trampers, whether interested in a few good walks or ambitious enough to want to piece together trails spanning the length of the North and South islands.

The above book is found within our Aotearoa collection in Kaitaia Library.

Our two backpackers left the i-SITE side by side, one man and one woman, off to begin the journey of their young lives.  They walked with bouncing strides, despite the weight of their packs. They looked like they belonged together. I smiled, pleased to have played a small part in the serendipity of their meeting.  I mentally wished them well, trusting they would complete their ambitious tramp, the Long Walk, with hearts open, heads harvesting the whispers of Rangi, the Sky Father, and feet feeling the subtle thrumming of Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother. Perhaps we should all consider regular walks taken away from the insistent cacophony of the modern electronic world, attuning to the rhythms of nature, using physical exertion to rest our psyches and soothe our souls.

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

One of the great pleasures for a parent is to sit snuggled up with your child (or children) reading a book aloud. We are so fortunate today to have children’s picture books with outstandingly vivid and colourful artwork. Artist/authors such as Eric Carle, Jeannie Baker, Colin Thompson and New Zealand’s own Lynley Dodd come to mind. Reading out loud like this instils a love of books in young people. You can’t start the process too early.

One of the great disappointments I’ve experienced as a parent happened the day my children disappeared with the book I was reading out loud to them—to read themselves! The disappointment didn’t last for long. I knew I’d done my job. Our daughters are, to this day, lovers of books and literature. I now have to wait for our first grandchild to revive this great pleasure of reading out loud to youngsters. But you may not have to. Here are a couple of authors with adventurous stories to read out loud (until your children take off with the book!)

Arthur Ransome (1884 –1967) was an English author and journalist turned foreign correspondent and spy in Russia during the Great War. Upon his return to Britain he settled in the Lakes District, the area which inspired his first children’s book Swallows and Amazons. Many more followed, telling of school-holiday adventures of children, mostly in the Lake District and the Norfolk Broads. Many of the books involve sailing; other common subjects include fishing and camping. The books remain so popular that they provide a basis of a tourist industry around Windermere and Coniston Water – the two lakes that Ransome used as the basis for his fictional North Country lake. We possess the series in the FNDC library system and encourage you to introduce these gems to your children.

Willard Price (1887 –1983), a naturalist who worked with National Geographic, wrote his Adventure Books to encourage an interest in natural history among children. There are fourteen books in the series. We have them all in the FNDC library system plus Price’s exciting autobiography. In reading his own story I discovered that Willard Price was born in Peterborough, Ontario, a lovely small city in the picturesque Kawartha Lakes region of Southern Ontario that I called home for five years. Here’s a brief summary of his books which I cannot too highly recommend for young people, particularly reluctant male readers, interested in adventure and the outdoors.

When naturalist John Hunt realises that both his sons are too young for their classes and getting too far ahead in school he makes them an offer: take one year out and work in the family business. Hunt runs a wildlife reserve and supplies animals to zoos, circuses and conservation parks. It is no surprise when both boys jump at the chance. The Hunt brothers, Roger and Hal, travel all around the world, studying and capturing animals and learning to survive on the African veldt, desert islands and Arctic tundra. The stories are sort of Gerald Durrell meets the Hardy Boys. They’re great fun to read and a learning experience.

Membership in the library is free for anyone under the age of eighteen so give your children the life-long gift of reading by bringing them to the library.

One more thing. We recently updated our magazine collection and we’re pleased to announce some exciting additions to our already comprehensive collection. So look out for new gems such as NEXUS (the NZ edition is published right here in the Far North), Lifestyle Block and Popular Science which augment our old standbys.

The Kaitaia Public Library  at the new Te Ahu Centre is open Monday to Friday from 8.30-5.00 and Saturdays from 9-1. Please note our new phone number is 09 4089455. Come in and meet our friendly, helpful staff and browse our full and diverse collection of books and other media materials and regale in a new, true library experience in our stunning and artistic Te Ahu space.

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