DEBATE ISSUE 14 | OCTOBER 2017
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Anxiety Gave Me Lemons :: Page 14
The NZ Gossip Industry is Dead Page 8
Running on Empty Page 10
The Monster Under The Bed Page 22
Stress Less Page 26
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Editor’s Letter Welcome to the last issue of Debate for 2017, and my final issue as editor, *sniffs*. Yikes, that went fast. Semester II is no doubt starting to feel pretty real for most of you, as those scary big-percentage assignment deadlines pile up and exam time looms. But fear not. Issue 14 is jam-packed full of tips, tricks and some really great reads to get you through the tough times.
emotions, and sometimes things are going to get you so down that you feel like you can’t get up again, but you can. The best place to start is to talk to someone you trust – be it a friend or a professional – about the way you’re feeling, and go from there. You might be surprised what a difference getting your feelings out in the open can make. Take care of yourself during exam time. Drink more water than coffee, eat your greens, sleep sometimes and suspend your Netflix account. You got this. It’s been an absolute pleasure being your editor this semester; working with so many talented artists and writers to bring you a fortnightly publication that represents your voice at AUT.
This issue is all about mental health – something that is so, so important, yet is often swept under the rug here in old ‘she’ll be right’ Aotearoa. Mental illness will likely affect each and every one of us at some stage in our lives, be it directly or indirectly, and not one of us is immune to it – not even you, you tough-as-guts, rugbyplaying, beer-drinking man who never talks about his feelings. I see you.
I wish you bucketfuls of luck and good study vibes for the rest of your tertiary journey. As for me, I’m off to New York at the end of the year to chase my childhood dream of becoming Carrie Bradshaw (more realistically Hannah Horvath), but I’ll be around for a couple more months if you would like to pop in and say hello. I would love to meet you.
But you know what? It’s okay not to be okay. It doesn’t mean you are any less of a person. You have real human feelings and
Like and/or follow us on social media to keep up to date with news, features and giveaways. www.debatemag.com
To Commemorate a Fallen Student By Zhou Wu
Dear fellow student who once walked with us, but walks no more. I may never have met you, nor known you by face or name, but whether or not you can hear me, I want you to know – I value you. I value your life, your existence. I value the moments you spent with us, the moments we shared in the same lecture theatre. For we were fellow students, in a paper which I shall not here name, and whatever other battles you may have been facing, we were facing some of the same. The assignments, the tests and exams – sometimes they feel so big, they threaten to tear your dreams apart. And I don’t know the pressures that were assailing your mind, but perhaps I can imagine. Perhaps high expectations were lain upon your fragile shoulders by those who sacrificed much to bring you to this point. Perhaps it was financial issues, self-esteem issues, relationship issues. Perhaps it was everything, all rolled into one. Whatever it was, let me tell you straight: I know for sure that you tried – you tried your best, and it mattered to you.
I am proud of you. I am proud of you for continuing for as long as you did. And though you are no longer with us, nor shall we see your face again, I want you to know that every moment you spent, every drop of sweat that fell from your face, was worth it. Maybe it didn’t feel like it at the time, but I value the effort you put in. Our futures are uncertain, all of us. From the student staring failure in the face, to the student with a stack of straight As. But let us not forget, we are all in this together. Look around you. Fallen student, walk in line with us as we continue our journey into the great unknown. We will not forget you.
Feeling low? Call Lifeline New Zealand on 0800 543 354.
What's on? Cheap, free and koha events around town
Mental Health Awareness Week
A Public Airing of Grievances
Where: Aotearoa, New Zealand When: Monday 9th - Sunday 15th October What: The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Nature is Key. Getting out and about in the great outdoors is a great way to grow, support and nurture our mental health and wellbeing. For information and events, see mentalhealth.org.nz. How Much: Free!
Where: Basement Theatre When: Wednesday 11th - Saturday 14th October, 6.30/8.30pm What: Revenge at summer camp, a lifetime supply of yogurt, the worst superhero of all time. Find out how these things combine into a darkly-comic stand-up story about time travel and accidentally breaking people’s hearts. Told by one of Auckland’s most exciting new comedians, Uther Dean. How Much: Tickets from $18
Shifting Ground (Artweek)
Let’s Talk About It
Where: Silo 6 (Jellicoe Street) When: Sunday 8th - Sunday 15th October, 5-7pm What: Shifting Ground brings together a group of artists from
Where: Corban Estate Arts Centre (Henderson) When: Thursday 12th October, 7-9pm What: Lets Talk About It features young people performing spoken word, raps and songs, along with sharing how they are overcoming their challenges with mental health. Aimed at letting other young people know they are not alone on their mental health journey. How Much: Free entry
AUT Visual Arts, addressing the specific past of the Silo’s utility as being both made of concrete and a container of concrete. Featuring artists Anthony Cribb, Laura Marsh, Lucy Meyle, Jemma Nissen and Emily O’Hara. How Much: Free entry
Mental Then physical Hauora By Kelly Enright
Physical Mental Hauora They have taught me how to clean my cut to dress my wound to swallow my medicine with my feelings Is my spirit not physical to you? Are these musings turned scribbles not real enough for you? doughy face, bruised brain, all the same Radiance needs a source, friend your skin cannot be alight but only translucent aglow what is a blurb without a story, an empty packet? be full, overflow Mental Then physical Hauora
The New Zealand Gossip Industry is Dead. Good. An article in a recent Sunday magazine argues that the decline of the New Zealand gossip industry is a loss for journalism. Abigail Johnson says good riddance.
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” So opens the editorial of a recent Sunday rag in an attempt to bring some Orwellian weight to the Gossip is Good argument. Whether George Orwell ever wrote these words has never actually been corroborated, but hey, it sounds about right. What follows is a four-page eulogy, lamenting the death of print-gossip in New Zealand, and pining for the scandalmongers of the 1980s. Cool. Assuming Orwell did make the ‘definition of journalism’ quip, I wonder if he had ‘socialite is denied entry to nightclub’ in mind as the high-water mark? Maybe, maybe not. A quote that can be corroborated is this one: “New Zealand is small, nasty and vindictive […] (in) a time when I needed nurturing, I came back to New Zealand for refuge and I got savaged.” That was Charlotte Dawson, a long-time target of NZ’s gossip industry. She killed herself in 2014. To argue gossip has no impact on mental health is to ignore Dawson’s death. And her life. The Boomer wank-fest article purports capital G – Gossip! was a way of speaking truth to power – a strain of journalism that embarrassed the shameless and exposed the rich-and-terrible. It was the voice of
the people, they claim, the voice of women and gay men. To borrow an 80’s gossip-rag idiom, what tosh. Gossip, by nature, appeals to the baser instincts of humanity. The urge to tear people down, particularly female people, has never been noble. It has long been referred to in this country as Tall Poppy Syndrome, and exists only to make ourselves feel better by contrast. There is certainly virtue in speaking truth to power, but I don’t think ‘who’s shagging who’ journalism can be defined as such. The tabloid-print industry is dead, and it's Millennials who killed it. We’re an industry-killing generation, as the Boomers oft remind us, and we should wear the badge with pride. Sure, the Kate Middletonadorned rags that decorate the Pak n’ Save counter are still there, but I don’t know anyone my age who buys them. This is not to say we aren’t destructively star-obsessed. Like climate change and a stuffed housing market, celebrity-worship is a disease that we’ve inherited from our recent forebears. We’ve simply cut out the tut-tutting middleman – when we’re curious about a celeb, we go straight to their Instagram Story. A rumour abounds that NZ doesn’t have any stars, but, for a country smaller than most US states, we punch well above our
weight. We produce excellent films, sublime musicians and we even have a thriving national soap. We have YouTube stars, shit, we even have a member of Taylor Swift’s squad. We’re overflowing with celebrities, but we’re also in incredibly close proximity to them. In a country where you can catch your favourite Shorty star shopping at Sylvia Park, a real gossip industry is simply not sustainable. Everyone knows everyone. Cast your mind back to mid-2015, when Mediaworks launched Scout – the Rachel Glucina-helmed gossip site intended to act as NZ’s answer to TMZ. Their infamous opening story involved Mike Hosking, a vacuum and a creepy pap. The site was overwhelmingly derided by most of the country’s public figures, and more importantly, attracted little to no interest from the public. It was dead before Christmas 2016. I like to think this means we have evolved. Maybe we learnt something from Dawson’s death? (I know that’s an optimistic take). Or perhaps gossip died because Millennial Kiwis are different from Boomer Kiwis; by and large we are more tolerant and progressive in our politics. Or maybe we just don’t care. Whatever it is, the print-gossip industry is indeed dead in this country. And I’m in no hurry to revive it.
Running on Empty Kaitlyn Wislang on why exhaustion is not the new black. It’s so easy to become wrapped up in the way everyone else is living that we sometimes forget to question if it’s right. Are we living right? A friend tells me why she is so exhausted this morning – she was awake until three in the morning working on an ecology report. A different friend studied for seven hours straight, with no breaks. Another friend has pulled more all-nighters than he can count this semester. The thing is, this doesn’t even feel like something different or new to write about. It’s not shocking. If anything, it’s painfully common. The way I see it, we have accepted that living our lives right involves exhaustion. That it involves pushing ourselves to
new limits; embracing the idea that we are only doing our best if we are working until it hurts; that we should keep going until we break down. We pride ourselves on how exhausted we are, or how busy we can make our lives. If we aren’t as bone-tired as the person next to us, we often feel inadequate or unsuccessful. When it comes to academic work, we’re told to “just do your best”. But how do we define doing our best? Does it mean staying awake all night to put the finishing touches on an assignment? Running on straight caffeine to keep us awake after a string of all-nighters? Or, perhaps it’s pouring our entire selves into our work, so much so that we have no energy for anything else?
The word burnout isn’t talked about enough. Nor are the words deprivation, exhaustion, and academic fatigue. Once your best starts to break you, it’s no longer your best. Saying to your friends, “I got a full eight hours of sleep last night, had a good breakfast, caught up with friends and family, went for a run and finished the essay,” will likely return some death stares or confused looks, and understandably so. To live a life that is not drowning in the glamorisation of exhaustion—of that being the best way to live—is essentially unheard of.
Here are some ideas on how we can find balance between academia, and all other realms of our lives:
It’s become a competition of sorts. When we talk among friends about how late we stayed up, or how many hours we worked without breaks, we have learnt to equate that with effort and success. When the people around us keep pushing to the edge of exhaustion, we think we have to live like that too. Otherwise, how could we possibly be as high-achieving and successful?
• I’m not suggesting you drop out of uni, take a yoga teacher training course, or go on a life-long hiatus from all things stressful. By all means, keep working hard and smashing out those assignments, but why not try a different approach? Balance is what can save us, and is the best way to replenish and nourish what we have poured away. But it doesn’t always have to be once we reach empty. In fact, it should be while we still have more to give.
Get organised: Plan your days, from when you’re going to wake up, to when you’re going to go to bed. Include work commitments and a study plan, and make sure to put breaks in there too. Include some things to look forward to, like grabbing a coffee with friends or watching the latest episode of the series you're trying not to binge. Set small, bite-size goals: Instead of letting your brain spiral deep into the “OMG I have four exams starting in two days, omg, omg…,” try this: Pick one topic, study it for a condensed 45 minutes, then take a 15-minute break. Tick that goal off and move on to the next one. Treat yourself right: Try and go to bed at a consistent hour each night, ideally before midnight. Make sure you’re getting plenty of nutrients from your food, and ocassionally treat yourself with foods that make your soul happy. Move in a way that releases stress, whether that be swimming, dancing, running or yoga. Have a yarn. Talk to someone you can trust about what’s stressing you out. When talking about stress or
exhaustion, we’re often quick to point out, “I’m fine though”, because if you say it out loud it’s definitely true, right? It’s totally okay if you’re not fine. If you need a professional ear, the AUT counsellors are wonderful. You may scoff at this list, thinking you don’t have time to take care of yourself, but you do. We all have the same number of hours in the day – it’s up to you how you use them. Perhaps doing our best is taking care of ourselves, and seeing what results from not crashing and burning. We might surprise ourselves if we begin to learn that we are here for so much more than running on empty.
The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand recommends including the Five Ways to Wellbeing in our day-to-day lives. These are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Connect, me whakawhanaunga Give, tukua Take notice, me aro tonu Keep learning, me ako tonu Be active, me kori tonu
You can find more information on how these actions fill us up, rather than depleting us, at www.mentalhealth.org.nz/ home/ways-to-wellbeing/
A Workout For Your Mind Jess Furmanski caught up with yogini Kiri Spiotta to talk about her mental health journey, and how closely it’s tied to her love of yoga.
I managed to catch Kiri in between jobs, rushing from one yoga commitment to the next. Although she’s juggling work, fulltime study and relationships, she’s doing it for all the right reasons and loving every minute of it. Kiri is a psychology student and yoga instuctor who has taught people of all ages and experience levels. The 22-yearold currently teaches at four different yoga studios across Auckland, all of which
have tailored workshops, different views on yoga, and cater to different audiences. From hot yoga, physical power flows and combination yoga to more holistic classes, Kiri is all over the place – and it’s no coincidence she’s building a career out of something she believes in with the strongest conviction. For Kiri, yoga isn’t just a hobby or a Sunday-morning-before-brunch sort of deal. She’s been practising since she was
five years old, when she would hide in her mum’s room with her yoga videos. As an “anxious little kid”, she found yoga helped her where traditional therapy couldn’t. However, it wasn’t until her early teens that her struggle with depression and anxiety led her to regular yoga practice, guided meditation and relaxation. At the age of 18, she decided to get her yoga teacher training certification, as she had begun to articulate the effect yoga was having on her physically, emotionally and mentally.
“Saying you’re not flexible enough to do yoga is like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath.” Beyond just a form of exercise, yoga is not moving muscles, but moving energy, says Kiri. “When you’re suffering from depression and anxiety, you’re in your head; you’re not grounded.” She realised yoga was a way to help her regain control of her own body, stop focusing on her thoughts and start focusing on reality instead. Amid our hectic lives, the need for multi-tasking can be overwhelming, but the focus that yoga calls for is a great way to practice attention control, because, “the second you start thinking about something in a balancing posture, you fall over on your face.” One of the key benefits of yoga is the awareness of breath, and how different ways of breathing affect our bodies. The parasympathic nervous system is responsible for rest and relaxation, says Kiri, but when we’re rushing between class, work and other commitments, we’re taking shorter breaths, thus not activating that part of our body. No wonder we’re all so stressed! These short breaths are a function of our sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for activating the ‘fight or flight’ mode most students will no doubt be
familiar with. But when practising yoga, we draw in much deeper breaths, which teaches us to control our breathing in all aspects of life. “When you’re in a difficult pose everything is burning, but you have to keep the breathing going," says Kiri. Drawing a parallel between being chased by a cheetah and stepping into an exam, she says there’s no reason to be breathing so rapidly in this day and age. The techniques we learn in yoga help us to slow down our breathing when we’re stuck in a position that makes us feel stressed or anxious. “Whatever is going on in your head, whatever madness is going on around you, if you can keep breathing through it, you find this internal stability that carries through the rest of your body and the rest of your life,” she says. When struggling with self doubt, depression or anxiety, it can be hard to pull ourselves out of that space. One of yoga’s core teachings, says Kiri, is learning how to separate your self from your thoughts. “Your emotions are things you’re experiencing, but they’re not you. The fact that you can acknowledge them means they’re not you.” “You can have sad thoughts, but you are not
a sad person. I was having some really dark, sinister thoughts that I never wanted to act on, but yoga’s core teachings helped me realise that despite the thoughts, I am not a dark person.” For anyone who’s perhaps too shy to try yoga, Kiri says there’s a huge misconception around the practice in terms of how flexible a person needs to be. “Saying you’re not flexible enough to do yoga is like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath.” She teaches classes for people of all abilities, and while some people can lower their face to their feet, others can only lightly stretch. But, “what’s important is the feeling, not how it looks,” she says. When teaching, she encourages her students not to look around, because “comparison is the thief of joy.” “Nothing good ever comes from comparing yourself to others. There’s always going to be someone better than you, more flexible than you, and what’s important is how it feels for you personally.” Keen to give yoga a try? Check out our giveaways page to win a two-week unlimited pass to RISE Yoga.
Anxiety Gave Me Lemons Matthew Roberts opens up about his mental health journey, and the highs and lows that have come along with it. Illustration by Hope McConnell.
I’d always thought of myself as pretty chill – your regular jeans and jandals, s’all good kind of guy – and I was proud of it. Nothing had ever really fazed me all too much, and up until last year (yes, apocalyptic 2016 did striketh us all), life was fairly breezy. Can you sense the impending however? Ominous, I know.
I wondered if my anxiety was merely a paper cut that would heal without a bandage. Perhaps, on bad days, I was making a mountain out of a molehill? But I let those bad days stretch into bad weeks before deciding I couldn’t just let this one slide, and booked a session with a counsellor.
After a year of nought but lemons, this year brought with it welcome stability. Life once again started serving me lemonade – on tap. I have enjoyed my fulltime job, my family is back to its healthy self after a few close calls, I’ve got a beautiful partner, and, well, things should be progressing rather swimmingly. But they’re not. And it’s terrifying.
I’ve likened my anxiety experiences to wearing the burdensome horcrux of Slytherin’s locket – it weighs heavily when it hangs from your neck, acutely enhancing worries you could so easily shrug off were they faced on a better day. Fleeting thoughts become draining worst-case scenarios that send you tumbling down a slippery slope of adrenalin-induced heart hammers.
A few months ago, I started to suspect my unwelcome struggles might have something to do with The Big A – anxiety. A quick Google search revealed a checklist of symptoms that rang true, and so I decided to reach out for help. Well, I would have, in an ideal world, but it wasn’t that easy. Instead, I struggled for weeks, held back by indecision. I felt like asking for help would mean letting go of my calm and collected self perception, a brave new world where I wasn’t in charge of my own emotions.
It's not just a mind game either. Anxiety’s claws are deep, and the physical reaction is much harder to ignore. My body goes into fight-or-flight mode; a racing heart and an empty stomach, like I’ve missed the bottom step. While I can often fight the negative thoughts using logic and positivity, the physical symptoms are more difficult to combat. A couple of hours of this and I might have run a mile, such is my exhaustion.
I described these symptoms in my session, albeit with less Harry Potter metaphors, and I must say it was nice to see my words met with a knowing expression. I feel selfish admitting it’s nice to know I don’t struggle alone, but it really is a comforting thought.
“I’ve likened my anxiety experiences to wearing the burdensome horcrux of Slytherin’s locket – it weighs heavily when it hangs from your neck, acutely enhancing worries you could so easily shrug off were they faced on a better day.” Speaking to a counsellor for the first time was a big move, particularly for someone with a history of internalising every problem. And while I didn’t get my silver bullet solution, which I admittedly did hold out hope for, I walked out of there with a sense of pride for addressing my problems head on, and a new-found sense of confidence that I can continue to do so. I’ve picked up a few solid tips for calming myself down when things get too much. Sometimes I close my eyes and listen
intently to my environment to try and identify five different sounds. It’s a nice way of focusing a misbehaving mind onto a simple task, and puts you smack bang in the middle of the present. Exercise is another big one for me. Working an office job (and being a lazy shit), means my weekdays can zip by without me breaking a non-anxiety-related sweat. I’ve come to realise endorphins are my friend, and when things get stressful, I force myself to get a bit sweaty. But the biggest help for me is believing I am not my anxiety. Yes it can overwhelm me, and yes it can linger for days or weeks at a time, but it doesn’t define me. Remembering I’m a pretty fun guy who loves music, beaches at golden hour, morning surfs and hiking in the rain – that’s what brings me back. Until all this happened, I felt blessed that I didn’t contribute to New Zealand’s mental health statistics, but I’ve quickly come to realise that rain clouds can appear on any horizon, no matter the forecast. I don’t believe you can fully prepare for it, but if you look outside and identify what you see, don’t be afraid to dress up warm and face it. Follow the routes with the most cover and take the friends who will remind you to jump in the puddles. You will be okay.
Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy Rhianna Osborne on what it feels like to live with anxiety.
You know the feeling when you collapse after a run but your heart is still racing? When you’re holding your breath under water and can feel that you’re running out of air? Or how about the feeling of panic when there’s no space to move in an overcrowded elevator? Now imagine combining all of those feelings and having to be prepared to handle them at any given time, all at once. That’s anxiety. Anxiety is commonly defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It’s a constant battle to control waves of overwhelming emotions, mood swings and feelings of panic in situations that, to anyone else, wouldn’t seem at all unnerving. Like many other forms of mental illness, anxiety is not uncommon among young people in Aotearoa. It is estimated that more than half a million people suffer from anxiety and/or depression in New Zealand at present, with teenagers and young adults making up a large majority. In light of this, I asked a few of my peers to share their personal experiences with anxiety and how it affects their lives:
“Young people are put under increasing amounts of pressure to do the whole school, university, career thing and to balance a healthy social life as well. If this lifestyle isn't something you can adhere to, you can be judged quite harshly. And being anxious about how you're living your life can lead to other issues with mental health, which, in a country with a failing mental health system, really isn't ideal.” – Maia*, 20
“Anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand, especially for young people. As a relatively ‘normal’ person with no family history of mental illness, I was really surprised when it hit me during my second year at university. Life was happening too fast, multiple family tragedies hit me out of the blue and I stopped being able to sleep, quit my job and nearly failed university while having multiple panic attacks a day.” – Sam*, 23
“I’ve been on anti-anxiety meds for a while now, but before I realised I had anxiety, I was convinced I was crazy. I was always imagining the worst, like that someone was waiting behind my gate when I got home after work, or that my bank account would be drained. It’s like running a race all the time, or that feeling when you drink way to much coffee and you’re shaky and feel sick, and like you have no control over anything.” – Lee*, 25
Twenty five percent of New Zealanders will at some point in their life be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder1, so it’s important to realise that you’re not alone. Need help? Call 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389). *Names changed on request 1
Treat Yo'self Student life can be tough, which is why we search the city for the snazziest stuff to give away. Like the look of something below? Check out the details and head over to our Facebook page (facebook.com/ausmdebate) to enter. Winners will be drawn Monday 23rd October .
Clean Maniac Want out-of-the-shower fresh hair all day, every day? Lucky for you, we’ve got our hands on three packs of Clean Maniac shampoo and conditioner to give away, thanks to Redken. The silicone and sulfate-free formulas are powered by the micellar technology found in skincare, leaving you with moisturised, bouncy and clean hair. To win, like our page on Facebook and message us with your campus and ‘MANIAC PLEASE’.
Dunstan Creek Haunting
Love a toastie? Who doesn’t. For a bit of comfort food to aid you through the coming weeks of exam stress, we’ve got our hands on a couple of $10 vouchers to give away from Toastie Bros, a gourmet cheese toastie company making the best toasties in town. To win, like our page on Facebook and message us with your campus and ‘TOASTIE PLEASE’.
Based on real-life accounts of early New Zealand hauntings, this “genuinely chilling and scary” (The Press) show will make you question every shadow, and want to sleep with the lights on! We have two double passes to give away to the opening night on Wednesday 24th October at the Herald Theatre, thanks to Auckland Live. To win, like our page on Facebook and message us with your campus and ‘HAUNTING PLEASE’.
Stay Afloat Did you know an hour in a flotation tank is equivalent to four hours quality rest? Take us there now! We’ve got three one-hour float session vouchers to give away thanks to Float Culture. Floating is the ultimate way to relax and unwind from all that exam stress, with no unwanted distractions. To win, like our page on Facebook and message us with your campus and ‘FLOAT PLEASE’.
Stretch It Out
From the Garden
Practising yoga is all sorts of good for you, and when you want to really get your sweat on, hot yoga is the way to go. We have a two-week unlimited pass to RISE to give away to one lucky Debate reader. RISE is a hot yoga and pilates studio in the industrial precinct of Parnell, with more than 30 classes a week. To win, like our page on Facebook and message us with your campus and ‘STRETCH PLEASE’.
Our friends at Forage are at it again with another great giveaway to help you through the busy study period. Garden of Life is the number one brand in the natural products industry, with a host of organic, non-GMO supplements. We’ve got a goodie bag of GoL products to give away, including a delicious plant-based protein powder – perfect for breakfast smoothies. To win, like our page on Facebook and message us with your campus and ‘GOODIES PLEASE’.
The Down Low on Anti Ds PHD student David Evans Bailey takes a look at the dark side of anti-depressant use. Though they may be dubbed ‘happy pills’, the number of antidepressants prescribed in New Zealand in the last year makes for depressing reading. Ministry of Health figures show nearly 300,000 antidepressant prescriptions handed out in the year to date, with 50,000 of those going to the 13 to 30 year age group. The fact that these figures are so high clearly indicates that depression is an issue in NZ. But is a bottle of pills the right answer? Possible side effects from antidepressant medications include insomnia, ejaculation problems, nausea, weakness, headache, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, anxiety, nervousness, shakiness, decreased sex drive, indigestion, dizziness, impotence, all over body pain, weight gain, emotional numbness, uncontrollable limb and body movements… the list goes on. And opinions vary as to how effective these medications are in relieving the symptoms of depression – some doubt they help, while others consider them to be essential. Jim*, 26, tells a cautionary tale of his experience on antidepressants. He describes the first couple of weeks taking them as one of the
most horrible feelings he has ever experienced. He felt lethargic, wobbly and “not all there”, almost as if he was floating. While on the medication, Jim also had trouble sleeping and had to take sleeping pills to counteract this – and even more disturbing to him was experiencing a complete loss of libido. Having made it through the worst of the start-up phase, Jim started to feel better, but those closest to him noticed he was often not himself. At times, he felt detached from his life and unable to fully participate in it – not at all what he expected from a medication that was supposed to make him feel better. He says he is eager to get off the pills, but this process can take months, as the withdrawal period can be just as bad as the induction. It was too easy to get the pills in the first place, says Jim, who, after reporting symptoms of depression, was given a test by his doctor that he was easily able to manipulate, and voila! He was off to the pharmacy to pick up his prescription. He says he regrets having started taking antidepressants, but due to financial pressures and long waiting lists,
seeing a therapist was not an option. Talking therapies in NZ are not only expensive, but also hard to come by, and since Jim is no longer a student, he does not qualify for free or discounted counselling services. He tried for months to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist, but when he finally made it to the top of the waiting list, he discovered the price—$160 for a single appointment—was unaffordable, cancelled and made a doctor’s appointment instead. While Jim’s experience is just one out of almost 300,000 in New Zealand, it certainly begs the question of whether anti-depressant medication is prescribed too easily given the host of nasty side effects that come along with these drugs. There is no magic bullet for mental health – remedies often take time, perseverance and fortitude, with plenty of support from those close to us. While antidepressants may be the answer for some, it’s important to be well informed before embarking on any course of medication. *Name changed on request
The Monster Under The Bed Our Go Fuck Yourself columnist Cordelia Huxtuble talks to mental health advocate JoEllen Notte about the relationship between sex and depression.
I first met JoEllen Notte at a sexuality conference in Toronto called Playground, in 2015. She was talking about the impact antidepressants have on sexual function and relationships, which she referred to as ‘the monster under the bed’, and the conversation no one was having. Notte recognised this was an issue for her when she changed her antidepressant medication – while on a date with a lover, she realised she couldn’t orgasm. It wasn’t happening. She describes the weird sensation of watching her orgasm through a glass window, waving at her, but she couldn’t access it. She got out the big guns, i.e. her hitachi magic wand—usually an express route to orgasm—still, nothing. This disturbed her (understandably), so she launched an informal online survey, curious to know if anyone else on anti-depressant medication had experienced sexual side effects. The response was overwhelming: loss of libido,
genital numbness, erectile dysfunction and inorgasmia (the inability to orgasm) were the most common. The thing I found particularly fascinating was how many of these people received very little or no information about these potential side effects when they were prescribed the medication, and again, how a majority of the group struggled to bring this up with their doctors. Sex and depression has kind of exploded lately, with Notte leading the conversation. She’s written about it for the BBC, and has been interviewed by Vice. She writes often and eloquently about sex and depression in relationships. She’s followed up her initial survey with two more, and now she’s writing a book. I’ve been pondering a few things since we last talked, so I decided to send her an email. Here’s our conversation:
CH: Do the side effects of medication differ across solo sex, hetero-partnered sex and queer sex? Or, if someone's feeling a loss of libido or inorgasmic, is that likely to be happening in all areas of their life? JEN: Generally, I've seen a lot of it functioning like a light switch – it's there or it's not. There are, of course, exceptions. People who reported that during a certain episode (because remember depression differs person to person and episode to episode) they found themselves with no desire for people of one gender but comforted by people of another. There was also a noteworthy moment at a conference when I was sharing some of the survey numbers and it came up that there was a general trend away from using sex toys during bouts of depression among the respondents. Some sex writers in the audience tweeted about finding that to be untrue for themselves and it started a lively discussion among a group of sex writers about how depression (so many of us are affected by it) affects our toy use. So, short answer: as far as I've seen, not really, except for the times when they do. CH: If you could dream up an ideal health professional, how would the conversation around potential sexual side effects of medication go? JEN: It's hard... I started this work guns blazing about how doctors don't talk to patients about sex, and make it hard and scary due largely to their lack of sex education and personal discomfort. Now, I see the situation is a bit more
nuanced than that. Do doctors need more sex education and to get over their own hang ups? Yes. Have people had horrible experiences with doctors shaming or dismissing them? Absolutely. However, I've also come to see (through my participants' responses) that a big part of the problem is that EVERYONE is afraid to talk about sex – patients included. I think it needs to start at intake, by establishing that your sexual health is seen as part of your [overall] health. Establishing that foundation – and knowing that the doctor's office is a place where you can talk about both your headaches and your libido, your flu and your orgasms – positions you well to deal with things like sexual side effects.
this come up in your conversations and research? JEN: I also love that quote! You are correct though, this is a hard one for people. I always say that people get tripped up by wanting the road back to sex to be a short, straight path full of stuff they already recognise, but, more than likely, it's going to be long, twisty and have a bunch of new things along the way. Something that has come up repeatedly is the struggle folks have with not ‘just doing it the “normal” way’ (meaning the way they always have) – sometimes this is coming from partners and sometimes it's coming from folks with depression themselves.
In this scenario, the topic of sexual side effects would be broached when discussing possible medications side
No one wants to have depression and it can be frustrating to have to change your sex life because of it, but this is why I love what Stephen says about it – rather than seeing it as the end of one thing, it
effects (in the 2014 survey, less than 25 percent of the people who experienced sexual side effects felt that they had been adequately prepared for the possibility by their doctor), and then as regular followup appointments continue, it would be asked about the same way we are asked about sleep, appetite, etc.
frames it as an opportunity to try new, fun things! The interviewees spoke a lot about communication, staying open-minded and being patient. Also, a couple of them mentioned one of my favorite pieces of sexual advice – read Emily Nagoski's Come As You Are. [CH: I 100% endorse this book too! It is so great].
CH: Psychotherapist Stephen Biggs is quoted in one of your articles about how having sex while experiencing or coming out of depression might be a totally new type of sex, and to think of it as a second teenagehood. I think this is true for different phases in our lives, yet I feel that we tend to hold tightly to the type of sex and arousal patterns that are familiar. Has
If you’d like to know more about this topic, JoEllen’s website is FULL of information (and the best sex toy reviews I know): www.thereadheadbedhead.com Her book, aptly titled The Monster Under The Bed, is underway. If you’d like a sneak peek, support her on Patreon!
Schedule Yourself Happy Mya Cole set herself a daily routine to see what impact it would have on her mental health.
We’re told that following a daily routine is a good way to keep your mental health in check. Great minds such as Karl Marx and Franz Kafka adhered to strict routines, Mariah Carey schedules time for a whopping 15 hours of sleep a day, and Anna Wintour plays a game of tennis and gets her hair blown out all before you’ve even woken up. So, as someone with little semblance of any routine, I decided to give it a go. I googled ‘daily routines for good mental health’, and based on a bunch of information, I created my own routine to fit around my study/ work schedule, which included mindfulness, healthy eating and a strict no alcohol policy. I vowed to stick to it for a week to see if I noticed any changes in my mental wellbeing. In theory, each day was going to look something like this:
7.30am: Wake up, drink lemon water 7.35am: Get dressed 7.40am: Make a smoothie 7.50am: Walk to Tepid Baths 8.10am: Swim
‘I began the week with a clear agenda – a meticulous plan that was meant to be my ticket to a healthy mind and a healthy lifestyle. And it was! At least until I ended up dancing on the stage of Saloon Bar…
8.50am: Shower, get dressed 9.10am: Drink smoothie, write 9.50am: Walk to university 10.00am: Lectures 12.00pm: Walk home 12.15pm: Make and eat lunch 1.00pm: Meditate 1.30pm: Study 2.00pm: Walk to work 2.15pm: Work 4.30pm: Eat dinner 5.00pm: Work 8.30pm: Walk home 8.45pm: Free time 9.00pm: Have sex 9:30pm: Read 10.00pm: Sleep
Monday: Today went beautifully, a busy, corporate woman’s wet dream. My morning swim was divine and left me with a defined sense of superiority that comes with exercising at an ungodly hour of the morning. By the end of the day, I couldn’t help envisioning my future as a successful woman of the schedule. Tuesday: Tuesday was equally impressive until I decided to start drinking wine. Nothing too outrageous, just a glass at home while preparing (second) dinner with my boyfriend. Then a few more glasses during dinner. And some more after dinner. Before I knew it, there were two empty bottles on the table
and we were listening to De La Soul. Wednesday: I woke up feeling slightly drowsy but determined to get to the pools and swim away my hangover. It worked, and while I chowed down on my morning wrap (I needed more than a smoothie to kill this particular hangover) I felt the endorphins from exercise and routine fill my body. The strict schedule was doing wonders for me – I felt less anxious and generally happier from the exercise. I also vowed to not drink any more until Saturday, but as the evening rolled around, the vino started calling my name again (a glass or two of red is good for your health right?). I still went to bed on time though, and felt thoroughly refreshed by the time I awoke on Thursday morning. Thursday: Today was a picture of perfection until I met some girlfriends for dinner on K Road.
When researching routines for good mental health, I had read that it was important to have something to look forward to, so I arranged this dinner to be waiting for me at the end of the week. I should have known from the get go there was going to be trouble: More red wine, polenta chips galore and bowlfuls of cheesy arancini balls. Dessert rolled around, as did the third bottle of red, and then thoughts of karaoke began sowing their seed in my brain. Routine was a far-away concept, and waking up to swim in the morning was a possibility that was fast disappearing. When you look back on a night out, there’s always a point at which you identify you probably should have gone home. For me, that point was turning up outside my favorite bars—which happened to be closed—drunk and slightly confused. But I partied on. Friday: I woke up this morning and resigned
myself to lying on the couch all day, feeling sorry and writing about the pain that was coursing through my hangover-ridden body.
I’m clearly no expert, but I do think routine can be crucial in the quest for mental wellbeing. For me, however, the changes will have to be slightly more incremental. I don’t think I can meditate and swim in the same day, for example. Drinking wine with dinner is going to have to be allowed – no regular binging though. Although I had fun, I know excessive drinking and cheesy balls are not a good recipe for long-term mental health. Before the week took a turn for the debaucherous, I was actually doing pretty well, so I am going to try again. I am going to choose the things that are most important to me, and make time for them. And I’m not going to beat myself up if I end up on a mini bender every now and again!
Stress Less Nicky Price on how to manage when the Big ‘S’ gets the best of you.
Now that we’re well into the second half of the semester, the stress is on. Assessments are starting to pile up, exams are on the horizon, and most of us are looking at our workloads with a reasonable amount of horror. You can practically feel the stress in the air when walking into class, and I’ve already seen three different people in tears this week. So, in the name of survival, here are some of my tried and true tips for dealing with stress. I’ve split this into two categories:
Management: For keeping stress levels down One of the best methods I have for dealing with dayto-day stress is enjoying the small things in life, as cliché as that might sound. Whether it’s treating yourself to something you enjoy or taking some time out, it’s something that takes little time and effort but can help keep you grounded. For example, take 15 minutes to sit down and enjoy your morning coffee rather than gulping it down on your way to class, or if there’s a bakery you
like that makes cupcakes to die for, treat yourself to one on the way home at the end of the week. You get the gist: Take a hot bath, go for a walk, buy yourself some flowers – whatever it is that makes you feel good. Giving yourself something to look forward to can help to break up that seemingly endless cycle of stress. If stress is something you deal with regularly, you may find it helpful to make yourself what I like to call a ‘care kit’. Grab a box, and fill it with items that help you relax— be it photos, comic books, an old soft toy, colouring in pages, books, chocolate, travel mementos—anything that relieves feelings of stress. Alternatively, you could create an electronic version. Make a playlist of videos that make you laugh, download some of your favourite movies or save some of your favourite songs or albums. Hell, make a blog specifically for reblogging things that make you happy. What’s great about a care kit is that you can adapt it to suit you. And whether you open it once a year, once a month or once a week, it can be helpful to have something to fall back on when you’re too tired and stressed to think about how to cope.
Crisis: For when you reach breaking point I think it’s safe to say that everyone reading this will have at least once in their life reached breaking point when it comes to stress. When everything seems to go to shit all at once; when you reach your limit and seem to forget how to function for a little while. And that’s okay. Whether your meltdown comes in the form of crying into your pillow for a few hours, feeling completely numb or disappearing into your room for a day or two, I hope the list of ideas below will help you get through it:
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Put on a feel-good film – think Disney, or a classic comedy Be around people, even if you don’t think it will help Pull the curtains open, turn the lights on and open a window Wrap yourself in a blanket, the heavier the better Go for a walk or a run Write a list of the things bothering you, and then rip it up or burn it Take a short nap Make yourself a hot drink Have a hot bath or a long hot shower Blast your favourite music Write a letter to someone you care about (or someone you’re mad at) Do some drawing or colouring Binge watch an entire series on Netflix If you enjoy the sound of rain, listen to rainymood.com Watch cute cat or dog videos Hug something, whether it be a friend, an animal a pillow or yourself Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while
Finally, remember, this will pass. It’s only one moment in your life, and you will get through it. There is always a way to fix things and you are always stronger than you think you are. There are people who care about you, there is no shame in getting help and even if you think that what you’re facing is the end of the world, I promise it won’t be. If you make a mistake, that’s okay – mistakes are proof that you’re trying, and it’s how we learn. And, finally, don’t forget that it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be scream, to be stressed or angry or tired or numb. You don’t have to be happy all the time. What you’re
feeling isn’t the way you’ll feel forever, it’s just how you’re feeling now. Just hold on, keep moving forward, and things will work out. I promise.
Available services: Apps: • MoodPanda: Lets you measure your daily moods and track the • •
scores over time Smiling Mind: Provides relaxation techniques and meditation exercises CalmKeeper: Helps manage anxiety and panic attacks by providing immediate access to tools that help you cope
Websites: • Moodgym: Based on cognitive behavioural therapy and • • • •
interpersonal therapy SPARX: An e-therapy 3D fantasy game environment that teaches the player skills to manage symptoms of depression (developed by Auckland University students) This Way Up: Provides mini courses for stress management, worry, sadness, and shyness, with self-tests to monitor progress The Quiet Place Project: Provides multiple services including a meditative exercise, a place to vent, and an exercise known as “the dawn room” – I personally swear by this one The Lowdown: Has a wide variety of resources for depression, anxiety, stress, relationship issues, family violence and more
Helplines: • The Lowdown (text 5626) • Suicide Crisis Helpline* (call 0508 828 865) • The Anxiety Helpline* (call 0800 269 4389) • The Depression Helpline (call 0800 111 757, text: 4202) • A general talk service* (call or text 1737) • Lifeline (call 0800 543 354) • OUTline, an LGBTQIA+ service (call 0800 688 5463) • Alcohol Drug Helpline (call 0800 787 797) • Samaritans (call 0800 726 666) *Operated by trained psychologists or counsellors
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Put Down Your Kale Smoothie And Eat What Makes You Feel Good Our resident foodie Crystal Wu thinks you should eat that big ol’ slice of cake you’ve been dreaming about all day.
Unrealistic beauty standards are destroying our eating habits, but this shouldn’t be news to you.
tell us eggs are great, while others say the high level of cholesterol and fats contained in eggs can shorten our lifespan.
The concept of body perfection has been drilled into us by the media since, well, forever, and this has only been exacerbated by the internet. Think: ‘How to get a thigh gap in time for summer,’ and ‘10 foods to cut down belly fat FAST.’
Kale is another one. While there’s no denying this trendy superfood is packed full of green goodness, many people can’t actually digest kale properly due to its high fibre content. So, while some people may feel like #health after eating a massaged kale salad, others will be left feeling bloated and gassy.
It goes without saying that healthy eating is beneficial for each and every one of us, but with all the contradictory information out there, what does eating healthy actually mean? One minute, [insert food here] is good for us, the next minute, it’s the devil’s food – to be avoided at all costs. Who are these people to tell us what we can and can’t eat? And who do we listen to? Eggs are a perfect example – a popular breakfast food, high in protein and fat content that make them ideal to keep us full and sustained for longer. They also contain choline, which helps brain development and memory. Some studies
What I’m trying to say is this: Ignore what everyone else is telling you and EAT WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD. We all want to be healthier, reduce cravings and control our temptations, but we’re putting too much emphasis on following a certain diet, rather than figuring out what works best for our own bodies. Here are my tips for being the best version of yourself: 1. If you really feel like a chocolate muffin, go and buy yourself a chocolate
muffin. Don’t opt for that highly processed low-carb bar from the vending machine, because at the end of the day, it’s probably just as bad for you. 2. If you’re hungry, don’t try and fill yourself up with lettuce leaves. Add some sort of protein or healthy fat to your meals so you stay fuller for longer. 3. One scoop of ice cream won’t make you ‘fat,’ but routinely eating a cheeseburger, large fries and a diet coke will. Focus on changing your routine and cutting out bad habits. 4. Listen to your body. It knows best what you need. Eat what it tells you to eat, be it a green salad and a smoothie, or a bar of chocolate – just keep in mind portion control. 5. Be aware that everyone is different; some bodies metabolise faster than others, some can’t digest certain foods properly. Understand what works best for you, and do that!
No-bake peanut butter brain balls Did you know peanut butter is good for your brain? That’s right, peanuts are a great source of particular vitamins the brain needs to function properly. Try these scrumptious peanut butter brain balls to snack on while you’re studying. They’re vegan, and can easily be made gluten free. Ready in 15 minutes!
Ingredients • • • • •
1 cup pitted dates (if dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain well) 3 tbsp natural peanut butter (salted) ¼ cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped* 1 tbsp chia seeds 2/3 cup rolled oats**
Instructions 1. Pulse dates in a food processor or blender until ‘smushed.’ 2. Add oats, chocolate, chia seeds and peanut butter and pulse or mix until combined. 3. Roll the mixture into 15 small balls using the warmth of your hands to mold them together. 4. Pop in the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes. 5. Enjoy! *Most dark chocolate over 50% is dairy-free, but make sure you check the ingredients first. **Can be made gluten free by using gluten-free oats instead.
Concert (Logan Campbell Centre, 22nd September) Reviewed by Sharleen Shergill
Musical Reviewed by Clodagh O’Carroll
My only wish going into this concert was that Bryson Tiller would play more songs from his debut album Trapsoul than his recently released second album True to Self. This wish seemed to be shared among the fans around me. Luckily, our wish was granted.
I don’t know about you, but a show with the tagline “The Ultimate 80s Musical Experience”, starring Lucy Lawless, sounded fabulous. I was not let down. Pleasuredome was fun, camp and indeed very 80s.
I was filled with a rush of excitement during the first half of the show as he played his hits Don’t, Exchange, Sorry Not Sorry and Run Me Dry. These were all songs the crowd knew the lyrics to and could sing along. The vibe lowered when Tiller played his newer songs—I could feel the crowd didn’t know many of them—but I was curious to see if he would play songs that he has featured on, such as Wild Thoughts. And as if he was reading my mind, he played it! The lighting and the visuals on the screen behind him brought the whole show together. The blue, purple and pink strobe lighting beautifully supported the transition of moods from soulful to straight out dance. I was left wanting more as the concert ended unexpectedly. As Tiller grows as an artist, I hope he gets the chance to play a bigger venue with larger production opportunities next time. But, overall, I enjoyed the atmosphere, and you know you’ve had a good night when you’ve lost your voice by the end of it.
We entered the ‘dome’ through the set of a New York street, into what I assume was a 1980s nightclub replica (unfortunately I missed the 80s by quite a few years). I was blown away by the scope of it, and how much detail had gone into the set. Sappho (Lawless) is the star of the show who works at Pleasuredome, a nightclub about to be closed in a deal with a homophobic property developer. While struggling with a cocaine addiction and the imminent closure of Pleasuredome, Sappho meets Lily, the property developer’s (engaged) daughter. It’s love at first sight for Sappho, and a queer awakening for Lily. Unfortunately, Sappho doesn’t know who Lily is, Lily’s fiancé isn’t who he says he is, and shit just keeps hitting the fan. I spent the whole time terrified Sappho was going to die (Lawless is the Sean Bean of queer female characters), but the ending is cheesy to the extreme, and had me simultaneously cringing and feeling relieved. With a table right next to the stage, we were close, and I mean close, to the action. Pleasuredome is raunchy and showcases some amazing singing and dancing – in fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a room with so many talented people.
RABBIT Play Reviewed by Sam Richards
I recently attended the Stray Theatre Company’s production of ’Rabbit’ by Nina Raine, directed by Rachael Longshaw-Park. The play centres around Bella, who, on the night of her 29th birthday, invites a small group of friends and ex-lovers to celebrate with her over a few drinks at a local bar. Unbeknownst to her invitees, Bella’s father is dying in a nearby hospital, though their strained relationship keeps her from his side.
Communication Design Grad Exhibition Opening night 10.11.17 From 6pm to 9pm www.openexhibition2017.com
Covering well-trodden themes of sexuality, gender politics, patriarchy and messy friendships, the birthday get together quickly disintegrates into an alcohol-fuelled grudge match as the group recounts war stories, goes to battle over gender equality, and talks about sex, all while Bella comes to terms with her father’s passing. Quick disclaimer: I know very little about theatre which makes me an inept critic. However, Kristina Cavit (who plays Bella’s oldest friend) was an obvious standout, anchoring her sometimes overzealous cast mates, though overall, performances from Kirsty Bruce, Carl Drake, Sahil Arora, Kyle Shields and Ariane Annie Lenihan were confident and engaging. But again, I have no clue what I’m talking about when it comes to theatre. Although I found Rabbit's very ‘white, middle-class’ setting a little unrelatable and irksome at times, the play and its content lingered with me well after the curtain had closed, and overall, it was an incredibly well-executed show. 33
12 things to help you survive exams
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