Breaking Free – Lifestyle coaching blog with coach Christine Zeschniok

Breaking Free – Lifestyle coaching blog

Whangarei’s Christine Zeschniok has been sharing blog advice about mindfulness and self-improvement during the COVID-19 State of Emergency – surely the most stressful emergency the majority of New Zealanders have ever experienced. 

Her words and advice can be found at

A sample of Christine’s recent communications…

Monday April 20- Where to from here?

In the past three weeks we have all had the time and opportunity to reflect on our current way of living. A lot of us have been in a situation where they have not been able to run from their thoughts, as we humans tend to do when things get uncomfortable. This has made the past three weeks of lockdown even harder for some of us.

It’s not ‘just’ being at home instead of the safe escape of the work desk, or being unable to see friends and family, missing general social interaction and connection, trying to engage the kids; it’s the uncertainty of ‘What next?’ and ‘When?’

But we have all been, more or less (thanks to Netflix!), ‘forced’ to reflect upon the way we live.

Two things I have witnessed and experienced during this time:

People are either running from or embracing any form of change: People are running from their truth, their desires, upcoming questions, feelings of failure, self-criticism, and doubt. They get frustrated and annoyed with themselves and the world. While at the same time, feeling helpless and not in control of their situation.


Other people seem to be embracing what is: They are action-takers, solution-finders, actively setting new standards and priorities for themselves, establishing new routines, valuing self-care, focusing on what is good, and as a result becoming creative in their approach to deal with this time of lockdown.


Isolation seems to point the spotlight on how we perceive ourselves, resulting in a magnified response to the current changes and challenges: We are seeing around us, either accelerated or stalling personal growth.

People seem to either: Overeat – Prioritise self-care

                                           Drink more alcohol – Focus on health

                                           Get lost in boredom – Be busier than ever

                                           Lose joy – Get creative

                                           Get frustrated – Find new solutions

                                           Watch Netflix – Value quality social time

                                           Lose their spirit – Redefine their spirit

There seems to be a theme dividing us, which is letting things happen to us versus making things happen for ourselves.

Choose carefully which side you want to be on. After all, it is a choice.

This choice can be made easier by asking yourself: What are my overall goals in life?

Where do I see myself in ten years from now?

And which path that I can take now, is most likely to get me there.

Remember the steps to create more awareness and open your mind to new ways of thinking.

What we must do, in order to tap into our unique power and discover who we really are:

Pause: Acknowledge and hold space for the stillness around you. Be kind to yourself and accept your feelings without judgement.

Reflect: Ask yourself these two questions: What do I want to let go of as a result of this situation? What part of my life do I want to go back to where it was before lockdown?

Reframe: Look for new opportunities in the things you would like to change in your life. How could the current situation be interpreted or put into perspective differently?


Change your mindset, change your life.


Stay safe, stay sane!


Have a great week and chat soon,


Christine Z


VOTE FOR THE TALE OF PRINCE! – support Bianca Staines to get a movie made

12 March – 14 March 2020



Hello everyone,

My name is Bianca Staines and I am the author of The Tale of Prince, an award-winning book for children and young adults.

This week, starting at 6am on Thursday 12th March 2020, The Tale of Prince, will be entered into a contest called TaleFlick Discovery.

TaleFlick is a US curation company looking for the next big story success to turn into a movie or series, and the TaleFlick Discovery contest allows the public to vote on which stories they would like to see adapted to film. The winner of the competition will be pitched to producers and potentially score a movie deal!

I would like to ask your help to achieve my dream.

Please visit and vote for The Tale of Prince by Bianca Staines.

bianca QR code

To find out more about my books, reviews, awards and who I am, please go to

The competition closes at 12pm on Saturday 14th March 2020.

Thank you for your support!

bianca prince picture illustration

Bianca Staines taleflick landscape

‘Edging Towards Darkness’ by John Lazenby – essential cricket reading

John Lazenby is a writer who has settled in Whangarei and has written for Scene magazine and Northland Inc. 

He’s known for a career in journalism and for publishing three books about cricket, including most recently Edging Towards Darkness: The Story of the Last Timeless Test, published by Bloomsbury in 2017. 


‘Cricket matches didn’t always top out at five days, regardless of a result or not – they used to be ‘timeless’, with play continuing until one team won, no matter how many days that took.

The last of these – which took place in Durban in 1939, in a series pitched against the backdrop of impending war – is now universally acknowledged as ‘the timeless Test’. Weighing in at a prodigious ten days – the match stretched from 3-14 March 1939, and allowed for two rest days, while one day’s play (the eighth) was lost entirely to rain – it is quite simply the longest Test ever played. A litany of records also perished in its wake and ‘whole pages of Wisden were ruthlessly made obsolete’. If that was not enough, one player, the fastidious South African batsman Ken Viljoen, felt the need to have his hair cut twice during the game. Only the matches between Australia and England at Melbourne in 1929, which lasted eight playing days, and West Indies and England at Sabina Park, Jamaica, a year later (seven days), come remotely close in terms of their duration.

In Edging Towards Darkness, John Lazenby tells the story of that Test for the first time. Set firmly in its historical and social setting, the story balances this game against the threat of encroaching world war in Europe – unfolding at terrifying speed – before bringing these two disparate strands together in an evocative and vibrant denouement.’


Self-publishing course from Kaipara author Steff Green – special subscriber price

Writers Up North wholeheartedly endorses the following course from Kaipara writing legend Steff Green…



How to Rock Self-Publishing: The Course – now open for registration.


Do you have a story you’re bursting to tell the world?

Are you sick of being rejected by the publishing establishment?

Do you want to inject a little punk rock, DIY ethos into your indie author career?

Yesterday, I introduced you to my brand new book, How to Rock Self-Publishing.

In this book, I show you how to tell your story, find your readers, and build a badass author brand. 

I also promised there’d be more. 

So much more.

On 20th March, 2020, I start my first ever online course, also called (you guessed it) How to Rock Self-Publishing: The Course. This course is the book on steriods.

Think hours of video, tons of bonus content and deep diving into topics, worksheets, checklist and my personal favourite part – 10+ hours of interviews with successful self-published authors across all different genres about how they are rocking their writing careers.

The course normally costs $497, but I know you’ve been following me for ages and I feel like you’re part of my crew. I’m doing a special subscriber only price of $147 – get it here

You’ve got until March 19th to sign up, but there are only 50 places and they’re already starting to fill up. 

If 2020 is the year you hold your book in your hands and smash your writing goals, then I hope you’ll join us!



Northland writers’ news – January 2020 roundup

January 2020 roundup of Northland writers’ news


Got some new creative writing you’d love published? Send it to Mike the admin man –

Between Places- flash fiction by Michael Botur

Between Places

Flash fiction by Michael Botur


Wifey wanders into the lounge, yawning, to split the curtains. The light shows a human’s on the couch. She shrieks. It’s only Stephie. She’s between places.

I tell Stephie she doesn’t have to wash her hair in the sink. Doesn’t have to scrub her sandpaper pits with moist towelettes.

Stephie curls up inside her dog, draped like a fox-fur. Snoozes through to noon. Watches TV til two.

Stephie comes from down south. Grew up with shotguns and quaddies and gummies and her arm buried in the backsides of Jersey cows. Stephie eats cigarettes and nibbled fingertips. Peels the label off her beer. Thousand yard stare.

Preceded by an eight cylinder Holden growl, some mulleted man with tank top and black tribal tats rocks up to sweep her up, cept Stephie’s got an ankle bracelet on. Curbed, curfew. She leads him to the laundry room with arms of chips and beer and locks the door.

She gushes, my wife, bout how Stephie’s the lowest cheating skank. But she’ll be gone soon, I insist. Watch her run through life with laces untied, trip and stumble.

Stephie’s in-between places. Recovering from recovery. The fidgeting, the puckered mouth, the bitterness at WINZ. She got offered this job, midnight massage, and could really use the dosh. Shirtless, let her practice her caress. Shoulders sense her breath. Fingers in ridges and valleys. Nails inside me.

Can’t say I haven’t stared like a dog, hungry, when she comes out of the bathroom steamed, her middle swathed in a towel, and winks at me.

Stephie’s off up north this month. Leaves bills and blister packs of pills in the cracks of the couch. She’s left her mutt. I take it for a trot. It eyes me up, pleading, needing chow.

It wasn’t really a thing, she tells me in texted powwow. You seemed sad that day. All I did’s caress some serotonin from your brain. Two adults, a couch, a touch.

Think of it as meds.

Go back to your wife and kids.


A Kete Half Empty: Why poverty in New Zealand is everyone’s concern – essay by Dr Renee Liang

Dr Renee Liang works between Whangarei and Auckland. A poet, playwright, fiction writer, MC and advocate for the NZ Chinese community, Renee’s work has been profiled plenty on 

Renee Liang’s essay A Kete Half Empty is funded by the D’Arcy Writers Grant and was first published in North & South in January 2020. 

The grants, sponsored by Mark and Deborah D’Arcy, an expatriate Kiwi couple living in New York, were designed to encourage the writing of essays of 10,000-12,000 words on New Zealand life and culture.

Read Auckland-Northland writer Renee Liang’s essay in full on

Find out more about Renee Liang:

Blown away by the Chatham Islands – travel writing by Michael Botur

Blown away by the Chatham Islands

Northland writer Michael Botur spends 10 days in our most remote community.


Helen Bints stone cottage at Mt Maunganui

The wind began even before I left Auckland.

Air Chathams flight 519 is a sixty year old Convair 580 with four chunky propeller blades on each engine which gave me the noisiest flight I’ve ever experienced. Everything about the Chatham Islands is extreme, actually: remote, isolated, and under-visited.

Pushed to the edge of most people’s minds, the Chathams are as far east as Tonga and as far south as Patagonia. They catch the wind, so expect bent-over trees, huge waves and windbreaker jackets on everyone.

45 minutes ahead on the clock, the Chathams resemble a country farm town plopped in the middle of the Pacific. They’re separated not only by 800km of ocean, but also by culture. Don’t expect paved roads, a high school, cellphone reception or a supermarket.  Do expect small town charm, though – with just 600 residents, you’ll be treated with interest.

Hit up the locals in the pub at Waitangi for a conversation and you can expect the following: they refer to the mainland as “New Zealand,” they’ll laugh if you ask about swimming in the freezing, shark-infested ocean, and they’ll look hard into your face to see if you’re recognisable. Ask how to get down to the beach and you may be told you have to phone 5555 (the first three digits are a given – every number on the Chathams begins with 305.)

The centre of the community, geographically and socially, is the Hotel Chathams, containing your only reliable restaurant. Recently renovated, your hotel comes with heat pumps, double glazed windows, deep carpet and excellent water pressure while outside it’s gale force winds and pounding waves.  

Floyd, Kaai, Francesca and the friendly faces running the place bring big city hospitality standards. Each person has a different story about going away and ending up back on the islands where life is straightforward.  

The charming Toni Croon – whose sister is the mayor – manages the Hotel, has a side-business in honey and works with her whanau to guide tourists through the Admiral Gardens. Everyone on the islands jumps in to help with work where needed, so don’t be surprised if you see Toni doubling as your tour bus driver, motel cleaner, receptionist, and mucking in to help move a stuck 4WD out of a paddock near Cape Pattisson.

Every local you’ll meet comes with colour – fishermen swapping crayfish for cement; All Blacks fans dancing in the pub after every try. One man I met was sitting in his lounge in a wetsuit, miles from the ocean. Most of these people will drop everything to let you experience something new on their land, boat or patch of coast, and they’ll always give you a lift – this intimate community is a hitchhiker’s paradise.


Expect mud, wind and memories

Helen Bint, who resides in an unpowered Category 1 heritage-listed Stone Cottage with no neighbours for ten kays, will let you climb the towering stone mountain overlooking her home for fantastic northern coastal views.

At Blind Jim’s Point on the edge of the endless Te Whanga Lagoon, bus driver Matilda finds fossilised prehistoric shark teeth for every tourist.

Lois Croon, who can give you access to private walking tracks through the dunes and forests on her property, will tell you casually that her son has been attacked by great white sharks “once or twice” – but it’s okay. He knows now to punch them on the nose.

While gorse-covered farms prevail, wetland boardwalks around the lagoon have been built near Kaingaroa in the northeast, and there are forests of nikau palms and kopi (karaka) trees. Some of the bush walks are so wild you won’t see a single soul.

Tucked into the cliffs southwest of Waitangi, the Awatotara Track follows tannin-blackened waterfalls down a steep valley and arrives at a wild cove covered in washed-up buoys and crayfish pots. Another track, towards the towering southern cliffs of the Rangaika/Thomas Tuuta Scenic Reserve, takes you through what looks like desert (it’s native tarahinau peat bush) before entering a gnarly forest straight out of Hansel and Gretel. Expect pigs, black swans, horned sheep, feral goats, wild horses, weka, deep mud and a hot shower after every excursion. You’ll encounter dolphin bones, steer skulls and paua shells amongst the unmissable blue-flowered Chatham Islands forget-me-nots.

It’s southern Pitt Island that drops jaws, though. A Cessna flies the 50km over the water and arrives at Pitt’s Flowerpot Lodge after 25 breathtaking minutes. The Flowerpot is value-added accommodation, so expect your bill to cover skylights, plush décor, comfy armchairs, continental breakfasts and a guided tour of beaches with the bones of Moriori, sharks and whales.

Essential experiences:

  • Visit the hexagonal basalt rock crystals by Port Hutt and you can pluck paua and kina out of the rock pools
  • A seafood buffet BBQ at the Admiral Gardens will include locally caught crayfish and cod
  • The seals at Point Munning on Chatham Island’s northeast corner live on spears of Star Trek-ish sparkling white schist  
  • The Moriori community in southeast Owenga have a gorgeous marae named Kōpinga.  Any visitor can expect fascinating oral history, panoramic views, a sobering memorial and a sealskin rug
  • Artists Celestine, Celine and Eva-Cherie showcase handmade art in their home galleries, with café service.
  • Don’t forget to ring ahead and get permission to get anywhere off the beaten track, be it by bus, 4WD ute, or – as in my case – a quad bike on the tray of a ute, which I sat upon while the driver broke every driving law in the book (totally worth it).

A week in the Chathams – still a pipe dream on many people’s bucket list – is guaranteed to turn the conversation your way at your next dinner party.

Fancy? Nope. Memorable? One hundred percent.


Air Chathams flies from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch most days of the week.

Hotel Chathams room rates range between $100-$250, with luxury options.  

Accommodation options include Te Henga Lodge, Traveller’s Rest and the brand-new Admiral Garden Cottage.


Pomegranates and Dystopia by Syreeta Hewson

Pomegranates and Dystopia

Poem by Syreeta Hewson

Its a little Mad Max here
Order has gone, while my washing is being tugged roughly by the wind – all sparkly bras and pink nightgowns
Pomegranate seeds and juices are sprayed around my feet, fallen to the bone dry ground, painting the dust like blood splatter from my efforts to tear it open
The wine? Its not cold anymore – hell; theres a mirage across these cracked lands from this heat
Lana del Ray croons; she sure suits this halcyon evening
There’s a satellite behind me, but it ain’t real
It’s the underside silver of beach umbrella – you know the candy striped ones?
It’s caught and blows, lazily swaying at first as if testing it’s own willingness for escape
Shuddering in a gloriously felt breeze, I watch without moving as it’s finally grabbed with one hard gust – to spin and land in trees near by
And I say, “ yes! Fly fucker fly!”
I was telling a friend earlier, about the times – more asking perhaps
Where they went
Remember I said – the beat poets, the jazz clubs?
Remember when colour existed?
When hedonism was almost a virtue, or at least it was well dressed.
Remember when character was presence of body, mind and soul – not hiding behind shit screens and fake personas.
Remember when your lips were stained red and I liked it
I tasted them slowly, like nectar.
I bit you
Do you remember yet?

Book Launch, December 7, Whangārei: Ngā Kupu Waikato – Poetry Anthology

Kamo Book Launch – Ngā Kupu Waikato – edited by Vaughan Rapatahana

Ngā Kupu Waikato is an anthology of poetry about the Waikato edited by former Northlander Vaughan Rapatahana

VENUE Book Inn, 420 Kamo Road, Whangarei

DATE / TIME: Saturday 7 December, 1.30pm

Also launching at the event is Scoria, a collection of ‘Short prose from the Cinder Cone’ by Jac Jenkins and Kathy Derrick, published by the newly-formed Pavlova Press.

Readings will be delivered by Vaughan Rapatahana, Piet Nieuwland, Olivia Macassey, Jac Jenkins, Kathy Derrick, Alistar Tulett and more.