Introducing: NUBU Pharmaceuticals

Well here we are!

Firstly, I am so excited I can finally talk about this with you. Talk about this thing that has loomed large over my life for quite some time now. It has been such an adventure getting here, and it is great to finally be at a point where we can now start talking about all that we have achieved.  

The idea for NUBU Pharmaceuticals came to me while I was working at Newstalk ZB. As those of you that have listened to talkback radio will know, it is a rarity for everyone’s viewpoints to align on a particular topic. Perhaps as rare as unicorns? However, on this afternoon, that is exactly what happened. My radio co-host Kerre and I had decided we would discuss medicinal cannabis. It had frequently been in the news, mainly following Helen Kelly’s fight to access medicinal cannabis to ease the effects of her terminal lung cancer.

As a somewhat progressive issue, I was expecting the usual afternoon of, some for, some against. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Straight away we had people calling, texting, emailing, and sharing heart wrenching stories about family members and friends suffering horribly, with cannabis the only thing that eased their pain. Cannabis that, due to current regulations (or lack thereof), had to be sourced from the black market. Meaning upstanding citizens were having to become criminals to allay the pain of a loved one. 

Unanimous is not a word I can use to describe any other day of talkback that I have been involved with. But it perfectly describes that afternoon in early 2016. Everyone, literally everyone, that contributed to the show wanted the same thing. Greater access to medicinal cannabis products.  

This impassioned response stuck with me. And so, at a dinner that weekend at my friend (and now business partner) Will Douglas’ house, the initial conversations of what would become NUBU Pharmaceuticals began.  

Internationally, cannabis was having a re-birth of sorts. Countries one after another were legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes, states in the US were following suit even faster. Will and I figured this movement would eventually reach New Zealand, and if we started researching the business now, by the time it did, we would be well positioned to be at the forefront of the industry.  

And guess what? All of the above has happened.  

All those catch ups, all those emails, all those calls, to suppliers, consultants and industry experts, formed the foundations of NUBU Pharmaceuticals.

Back in 2016 there was only one medicinal cannabis-based (or CBD) product available in New Zealand, and that came with a price tag of $1200 p/m. Horrendously expensive by anyone’s measure, and without a doubt priced out of reach for the majority of New Zealanders.

Having seen similar formulas retail in the US and Canada for a tenth of the price, Will and I knew that we’d stumbled onto an opportunity. Not only from a business sense, but, (and more importantly), an opportunity to help the thousands of people throughout New Zealand who were already using cannabis for medicinal purposes, and the tens of thousands who potentially could. 

And although this no doubt reads like PR spin, an attempt at marketing and/or me trying to pitch my company in a certain light, it isn’t. Helping people is at the core of this business, and has been since day one. 

Accessible, reputable and clinically effective medicinal cannabis products to the New Zealand market has been the goal, and still is. And the exciting thing is, we are already having an impact.

Although legislation to allow the development of a local medicinal cannabis industry is but weeks away, there is a need for medicinal cannabis now. The same issues outlined on ZB that afternoon a couple of years ago, still exist.  

Will and I set out to find an international partner to work and start a conversation with, about the price of CBD in New Zealand.

We found that partner in MCG Pharmaceuticals – one of Europe’s leading cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical companies.

It is our aim to herald in a new era of lower costs, through competitive pricing and increased market accessibility. The wholesale price of CBD products has fallen by 20% over recent months and we expect this to drop further in the future.

Of course, NUBU Pharmaceuticals wants and plans to be a part of the production of medicinal cannabis products locally, and we are eagerly waiting the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill currently going through Parliament. 

We have spent the last two years working with local and international experts designing our future grow and manufacture facilities. Both are state-of-the-art. 

We wish to grow cannabis organically and sustainably – I could hardly have harped on about being sustainable and ‘going green’ for the last decade, to then turnaround and set up a business that did the opposite, huh?  

We are currently working through our organic certification, and hope to have that sorted so as our very first grow can be stamped ‘organic’. 

NUBU Pharmaceutical’s cannabis would be grown in a greenhouse, utilising the natural energy of the sun (as opposed to indoors under energy intensive lights), water will be recycled and recirculated to reduce our water consumption, and many other opportunities to reduce waste and recycle have been incorporated into many other areas of the business. Of course, as new opportunities arise to save energy, reduce waste and/or reduce our impact on the environment, they will be adopted. 

As a company, we see huge opportunity for New Zealand with regards to cannabis. As a country, so much of our expertise lies in the production of primary exports. There is no reason why cannabis can’t be yet another feather in that bow. And so, along with everything else that is going on, we have also been working on a number of export opportunities with local and international partners.  

I’ll be able to speak more about that in the coming months.

But there we go, you now know what I have been up to. I have been setting up a medicinal cannabis company. Who saw that coming? From radio to pharmaceuticals. Not exactly a liner career path, but hey, sometimes life works in mysterious ways*.

The opportunity to build a business from the ground up - in an entirely new industry, learn a whole new set of skills, and (and most importantly), effect positive change in peoples lives, really is a once in a lifetime.

As I said at the start, it has been an incredibly exciting couple of years pulling this together, and with the legislation to allow us to really get started just a few weeks away, the best really is yet to come… 

*and just briefly for those of you thinking, “why on earth would I trust a guy that used to work on the radio to deliver medicine for me?”, rest assured it won’t be me! NUBU Pharmaceuticals is made up of a team of experts from a multitude of areas, pharmaceuticals, business, cannabis, marketing, I am just one half of the equation that sat in house in West Auckland one Saturday afternoon in 2016 and thought it wise to start a medicinal cannabis company.

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Has dating actually changed?

HBI.jpg

 

Ahhh relationships. They are tricky wee beasts aren’t they? 

But they always have been. Yes, things are slightly different now, there are apps that can help a person find a willing participant for whatever fantasy they are in to, and sex (if you have no standards) can be obtained at but a moment's notice, but the art of dating and finding that special someone has always been a difficult task.

It has been interesting the last few days reading the articles, opinion pieces and social media comments about Heartbreak Island, and especially the mechanic that saw each contestant rank the others on the island based on a few pictures and a short bio. 

I thought about writing something on Tuesday morning, but decided against it. However now that the impassioned moaners have had their say and those jumping in to yell and scream (because they can) have ventured forth to find something else to complain about, I thought now could be an interesting time to have an actual discussion about it. And with that in mind, here we go. 

Firstly, very early in the programme on Monday night, I say how on Heartbreak Island ‘we are taking the world of online dating, offline’. I remember doing the line in Fiji, and I remember seeing it on Monday. 

This was obviously lost on a number of people as, guess what, the whole ranking thing, judging people on photos and a bio, that's how people date now! 

And for those saying it’s horrible, it is! But it is reality. Do you know how many times I have swiped right on someone (for those that have never used Tinder, right = yes I am keen) only to never get a match from them… Thousands! Well, maybe hundreds. I haven’t used Tinder that much. 

For those of us still in the dating pool, this rejection is a daily occurrence. Never used Tinder? Met your husband/wife in a bar? This will be completely foreign to you, and therefore perhaps I understand what happened on H.I on Monday is your worst nightmare. But you know what, for those of us still swimming in the pool, this is our lives! 

Is it right? No! I’m bloody awesome. I have an incredible personality, can cook and clean, have amazing family and friends, an alright career, and yet hundreds have declined me on Tinder because of the way my eyes are deposited in my face and the size of my ears in proportion to my nose! It sucks. But again it is reality, and you know what, it is nothing new! 

Let's cast our minds back to the 1980s when the internet and mobile phones weren’t a thing and meeting friends meant catching up with them at a certain place at an exact time - I wasn’t around then, but this is how I am told things worked, and when dating was done in bars.

Are all the people deriding Heartbreak Island meaning to tell me back then, and prior, if someone approached someone in a bar, no matter what they looked like, the approached would always take the time to delve deep into the approacher’s personality so as to find out whether or not he or she was a suitable match? 

Bullshit. 

The bar in the 80s worked the same as the dance hall in the 30s. The ‘hotties’ got the whatever or whoever they wanted while the ‘uglies’ or those deemed ‘not as attractive’ languished in corners. 

And so what is the difference now? There is no difference. People have been getting rejected since evolution began (or God put us here 5000 years ago, whatever you prefer). And so what happened on Heartbreak Island on Monday night is nothing new. 

It’s the time-old tradition of the beautiful being championed, while those deemed not as beautiful are… well, present. 

But, and this is kinda the point missed by many, no one on the island was dismissing Ella or Tavita completely, just their pictures, the way they had marketed themselves! 

In the same way so many have dismissed me - and will dismiss me in the future. Bastards! 

Which brings me to my next point, and one that has been thrown around online a bit the last couple of days. Should this sort of carry on be on TV? 

Many argue that no it shouldn’t, as it means ‘children’ or ‘young people’ are shown a world in which being beautiful is key to success, vanity is held in higher regard than intelligence and integrity. 

Sure, I see where you are coming from but, IT IS! 

The world does hold beauty above brains. It always has, it probably always will. 

Again, I don’t think it’s right, but that’s the way it is! 

And so the argument continues, even so, it shouldn’t be on out TV screens.

And then what? Kids grow up thinking that brains trump beauty every time only to get out in the ‘real world’, out from under Mum & Dad’s wings, only to discover the complete opposite? 

And it is this I would love to hear your thoughts on, what is best? Depict reality, or depict a lie? 

I don’t have kids so I can only look at my own experiences. If you think it took me to see a TV show to learn that beauty and popularity meant currency in this world, you are dead wrong. This was obvious to me at primary school. Probably kindergarten. This reality being depicted on a TV show wouldn’t have spoiled my mind as a kid, as I am sure it isn’t young people now. It will just be reinforcing an idea that exists all around us from the day we are born.

But enough from me, what do you think? 

Has dating actually changed? Or is it the same as it’s always been? And how about the realities of dating being depicted on TV, better to show real life? Or pretend it doesn’t exist? 

I look forward to reading your thoughts on my Facebook page

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Life Update #2: Heartbreak Island

 The cast of Heartbreak Island 2018

The cast of Heartbreak Island 2018

I feel like every time I sit down to write one of these I think and/or write the following: 

a. It has been a really long time since i've done this, bad Mark!

b. Why are you still not travelling overseas?!?

For those of you that have been reading my very intermittent rumblings, you’ll know 2018 was to meant to be another year galavanting the globe, visiting parts unknown (RIP A.B), and catching up with far-flung friends. 

However aside from a couple of quick trips across to Australia, I’ve just been in New Zealand.

Ha! 

Whoops, annnnnnnnd Fiji. Genuinely forgot about Fiji. Idiot. 

And of course that six weeks in Fiji filming Heartbreak Island. Hmmmm.

But before we get to that, the travel. 

The travel hasn’t happened yet as I have ended up working full time in a business a friend and I started a couple of years back. Well at least started investigating a couple of years back. A business that, in the last few months, has required my full attention. I can’t say too much more but hopefully that will change in the near future. We just need a couple more things fall into place, and then we are away! 

It is bloody exciting though. It is bigger than anything I have ever attempted to do before. And if (/when) it happens, it has the potential to change many, many people's lives. 

I’ll keep you posted. 

And now to Heartbreak. 

Well, here we are! I can’t believe it is about to be on TV! I can’t believe it is June and it’s all about to go down… Where has the year gone? 

Although I have had some ongoing Heartbreak work since getting back from Fiji, the whole experience really does feel like something from another lifetime.

Having being so engrossed in all of the happenings on the island for the entirety of filming, the world of Heartbreak being my be-all and end-all for those six weeks, it was odd flying back to Auckland to nothing. No job, well no full-time one. No more contestants (so no more gossiping about their every more). No crew.  It was (and I hate to use the analogy) like waking up from a dream. It took some adjusting. 

And so the last two-to-three weeks have been stranger still as I have found myself back in the world of Heartbreak, reliving that past life. 

It has been fun reminiscing. It’s been great seeing lots of Matilda again, and the crew that shot the show - the crew that are yet to get a break. They have been tirelessly editing the hours and hours of footage in preparation of the show going to air! You can’t even begin to imagine the size of this job. Multiple cameras filming 24/7 for six weeks… ugh! 

It’s also been fun catching up with just about everyone I have ever worked with in radio/print over the last 10 years to talk to them about the show and what to expect. 

It is so odd sitting in a radio studio and being interviewed though. Since I was 19 I have always been the interviewer. The one on the side of the buttons, not opposite. Great fun though. I am incredibly appreciative of all the support all my old colleagues have shown too. All very sweet. 

…cue next week when they start slating my performance on TV. HaHaHa! Do your worst I say, nothing will compare to talkback!

So to the show itself as I am now finally allowed to talk about it.

First things first, as it seems to have been the focus for many, yes the contestants do have sex with each other. But, this is a TV show for TVNZ2 at 7:30pm, you are not going to see that happening. Therefore, it is safe for your kids to watch. Even the uncut edition on Friday nights (TVNZ2 at 9:30pm), it is still going on TV. There isn’t full-frontal nudity (at least to the best of my knowledge) however there will be nods to who is sleeping with who and whatnot.

The show was incredibly fun to film and as I stated earlier was all encompassing (in a good way). Every one of the crew was hanging out each morning to find out what had happened overnight - whose relationships were fraying, whose were alight with… errrr, passion? 

And apparently during filming we were only aware of about 20% of what was happening. So much more has been revealed in the edit. One of the producers said to me recently, “You thought there was drama on the island, wait till you see it on TV.” And so, even though I know what happens, I know who wins, I cannot wait to see it. 

I did (finally) get to see episode one on Friday… and beyond the horribleness of seeing myself on TV (hearing myself on the radio I am used to, seeing myself on TV - not so much), it was great. 

So many laughs. So many awkward groans - some of the things that came out of the contestants mouths… I know some of them entered Heartbreak Island to find love, some for the money, and some (and have fun picking these ones out) to become Insta famous and live out the rest of their lives in the social pages. Only time will tell if they succeed, or live to regret their decision to participate. 

I’m not massive on regrets, but I do feel like a couple of contestants may walk away from this thinking they maybe shouldn’t have, or at the very least should've played things differently. You’ll see...

The lesson that was reinforced to me over the course of filming was that you really are best to be yourself. Pretending will only get you so far.

There will be laughter, there will be tears, there will be drama and (potentially most importantly) there will be real romance! It is of course entertainment but it is also an insight into the lives and the inner workings of a group of 20-somethings in 2018. For those not in that age bracket, it will give you a sneak peek into it, and for those in or around the age group, perhaps a moment (or moments) to reflect. And although the situation is very different from my day-to-day reality and no doubt yours, the same themes that criss-cross our own lives, criss-cross the contestants during filming. And so as crazy as it sounds, there will be parallels with your own life - no matter your age. How you deal and/or have dealt with love, rejection, disappointment etc. The show will be the spark for countless conversations I am sure...

Anyway, I am burbling now. For those of you that watch, I hope you enjoy and I look forward to hearing your thoughts - both positive and negative.

Heartbreak Island screens on TNVZ2 Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30pm

Heartbreak Island Uncut screens on TVNZ2 on Fridays at 9:30pm and again on Duke on Sunday night at 9:00pm

ps Fingers crossed I get something else up on this blog before Christmas.

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Saturday Night, a Cat, the Warriors, and $2 Chips.

 Alfie Hayes

Alfie Hayes

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know I live with a cat called Alfie. 

He is my flatmate, Erin’s.

Alfie is an indoor cat - although he has recently gained access to the backyard. But, having spent the best part of the first year of his life inside, even with the possibility to now go outside, he spends most of his time inside, near whoever is home, on his back, legs in the air hoping for a belly scratch. 

“Poor cat”, people often say, “He should be able to roam”.

And to be honest, for a time I did kinda agree. Buuuuut, what you don’t know, doesn’t hurt you, does it? 

Does Alfie miss the great outdoors? Roaming the streets with his cat pals, chasing mice and birds and reminiscing on their misspent youth? Doubt it. He’s never experienced it. And you can’t miss what you’ve never done. 

Which brings me to the Warriors game on Saturday night. 

Stick with me. 

Now I've been a fan of the Warriors since they began in 1995. Am I a die hard fan? One that watches every week without fail? Like that of my Dad and my Aunty? Nope. But if I am around, I don’t mind watching them play. More so than any other sports team this country has - sorry Rugby fans, just not that fussed. 

Anyway, while watching the Warriors on Saturday night I became aware of something that, although not the end of the world, has me a little sad. 

If you caught the game on Saturday you would’ve noticed the ref was unable to make a single decision himself and so after every try outsourced the final call to the video ref. 

Annoying at the best of times. But even more frustrating on Saturday as while waiting to see the video ref's decisions, learning (and then being reminded) that at KFC in Australia you can get a large fries for just $2. 

In Australia and only Australia. 

Bah! 

Talk about disappointing. I know we are constantly getting served adverts with no relevance to us by companies nowhere near us, but $2 large fries at KFC, don’t tempt me like that? 

It’s. Just. Not. Fair. 

And like if we were to let Alfie out into the big wide world to explore for a day, but then never let him back out again. I feel I have been shown a world somewhat bigger and better beyond my own, alas that I cannot access.

Well that is without a $250 flight to Australia. But for a large chips, well that would be a touch excessive, wouldn't it?

LIFE UPDATE

 Hanging on Kuaotunu Beach in early March. 

Hanging on Kuaotunu Beach in early March. 

And then all of a sudden it was March and I hadn't written a blog in three months!

Whoops. Bad Mark.

Firstly, how did it get to March? Where does the time go? I remember talking on the radio once about how time seems to go faster the older you get. Many agreed. I can’t even begin to imagine how quickly years pass in your eighties. Are years like weeks? Months like days? I joke. 

So a quick update of the first three months of 2018. 

Well the bulk of it was eaten up filming Heartbreak Island. As you are probably aware after wrapping up at Newstalk ZB in Jan, I flew out of NZ to a now no-not-so-secret location (the Herald told everyone) to film the reality dating show Heartbreak Island. 

Now my plan was to blog throughout the filming process, buuuuuut it was gonna be hard to do: 

a) without revealing the location of said filming

b) without giving away any details of the show

…and so I didn’t. To be honest, there wasn’t the time either. I had grand plans to get all sorts done while I was away filming. Not so. Although Matilda and I (I know she agrees), without a doubt had the easiest jobs on the island, it still took it out of me. Prancing around in front of a camera and looking pretty – well attempting to (I failed miserably on a couple of times, one notable example was when I put an oil-based sunscreen on my face and my skin broke out, can’t wait for that episode to air). In the heat of the tropics, turns out, it’s actually hard work. 

Hard work, but the most fun ever. Except when I got stuck in a toilet. But seriously, I’ve had some pretty awesome jobs since leaving school, but hosting Heartbreak Island is definitely my all-time favourite so far. Learning how reality TV is made was incredibly interesting, but being right in the middle of it and watching it unfold right in front of my eyes? Next level. 

I’m still unsure if it’s a positive or a negative just how much I enjoyed it. I guess it’s the voyeur in all of us that attracts us to reality TV, and the voyeur in me that had me loving every minute of hosting a reality TV show. I do remember thinking a couple of days into filming, ‘Why have I only discovered this now? Why haven’t I been doing this since I was 20?’ Ha! 

But better late than never, huh? 

So safe to say I cannot wait for you to see it. Obviously I still can’t say anything about what went on. But put it this way, I was engrossed in the going-ons of the island the entire time I was there, everyone in the crew was! Once it’s cut down and edited for your viewing pleasure, I’m sure you will be just as fixated. 

The things people did with cameras present…

So with Heartbreak Island wrapped I returned to NZ and… got drunk, slept and ate. 

When I quit ZB I figured I would just work through the summer holidays as come 15 Jan (or thereabouts), I would be unemployed and thus would have all the time in the world to relax, sleep, travel, whatever! 

However landing Heartbreak Island meant I worked at ZB until 5 Jan and was on the ground filming 8 Jan. There was no time between drinks at all. And so by the time filming wrapped mid Feb I was behind on so many things, but incredibly so on sleep and time with mates. 

And so that has been the last few weeks, catching up on all the life admin I didn’t do while I was away, and seeing friends and family.

There has been trips to music festivals (ahhhhh Splore I miss you already), the annual dress up party at my mum and dad’s bach (this year the theme was ‘L’. I went as a lamp, but Mum won best dressed as 'lost luggage’), and some travel - I am currently in Melbourne visiting friends and just hanging out. Yup, life has been/is tough. 

So what’s coming next? Well to be honest – I have no idea. Ha! 

There are a number of possibilities and so until one or a number of them land or fail, I don’t really know what my next move is. 

Of course the plan this year was to travel, and that will happen eventually (hopefully). Well put it this way, I will be out of NZ for the bulk of winter come hell or high water… Ha! But dependent on when the TV show goes to air, dependent on if this business that I have been working on for the last year and a bit gets funding, and a whole host of other things, will kinda dictate when and what I do next. 

It’s funny, I explain my current situation to people and many exclaim, “That must be stressful!”, but I actually love it. The unknown excites me. The fact that I have no idea what is going to happen next, where I am gonna end up, what on earth I will be doing in three months, let alone six months or a year, is bloody exciting. 

Tell you what though, how sweet is Melbourne? I could totally live here. It has been so nice catching up with friends from all over the world over the last few days and I had THE best coffee I have had in years this morning. If you find yourself in Melbs, and in the north, check out Barry’s. Honestly, so good. I got a long black and it was so flavoursome. I feel like had I had the tasting notes in front of me I would’ve (for potentially the first time ever), been able to whole-hearty agree with the description. Just amazing. 

ps click here to join my mailing list and never miss a blog post.... I know I have said this before, but I am actually going to start taking this seriously. None of this every couple of months rubbish. Promise. 

ANOTHER NEW YEARS FLYING SOLO

 A generic picture of fireworks to evoke thoughts of NYE.

A generic picture of fireworks to evoke thoughts of NYE.

It is New Years Eve eve and like a number of my more recent New Years I find myself alone. 

Sad? Nah, not at all. In my mind It's actually a positive. I think a bit of alone time at the back end of the year is actually a gift. To be honest though it’s been a couple of years since I have done the solo thing for New Year. Last year I spent the  period with friends at Rhythm & Vines, and the year before that having just arrived back in the country to start my gig with Kerre at ZB, with friends in Waihi. 

However this year is much like the years prior to the last couple, with me working through the Christmas/NY break on the radio in Auckland (thankfully only on one station this year), outside of work I’m pretty much flying solo. 

I mean I am not alone, alone, there are friends around, but with the flatmates heading further afield for their NY celebrations yesterday, I now have the house to myself and therefore the ability to socialise when and if I want… if I want. 

Bliss! 

And with this bit of downtime, this space to think, with work all but wrapped up for the year (I still have a bit to do on a couple of fronts), and a new year approaching, I’ve found myself (as I have in the past), reflecting on what has been and pondering what's coming next.

2017 has ben quite the year. Perhaps not as crazy as some previous, but riddled with incredible memories none the less. But as amazing as the past year has been (don’t get me wrong its had its shite moments too), what is really making me grin ear to ear as I type this is whats coming next.

2018 (given current estimates/current plans), really is going to be one for the books. 

I remember a few years back on New Years Eve 2012/2013 (I was hosting 12am-6am on Newstalk ZB New Years Day) being in a similarly contemplative mood at my friends Dermott & Kirsty’s house. I remember sitting at their outdoor table as the sun went down and writing in my journal that I was pretty excited about the year ahead; South America for 5 months, Glastonbury (again), and the countless possibilities in London and Europe post. 

Fast forward five years and I say pfffffft to 2013, as look what 2018 has in-store!

- Hosting Heartbreak Island (a reality TV dating show for TVNZ2) with Matilda Rice on a tropical island 

- Backpacking through ‘The Stans’ (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan etc) with a couple of friends who are planning to travel the Silk Road next year

- A wee trip to the south of France with one Kerre McIvor 

- At least a portion of a summer in London with whoever of my crew is left there (so many have left)

- Hopefully a couple of months in Central America/Mexico and/or India/Asia while NZ is in the depths of Winter

- Maaaaaaybe a trip to Toronto in Canada to catch up with friends.

- A return to Burning Man

It really is all very exciting. And that's without mentioning the various business opportunities I am currently chasing, the crazy schemes I’ve been wanting to try but haven’t had the time to whilst working at ZB, and/or the long list of people I will be able to reconnect with once I am on the move again. You know who you are... CANNOT WAIT!!! 

Now granted not all of this will come off, but even if I manage to nail 50%, 25% even, It'll be an epic year.

As a somewhat positive person I am generally upbeat about life most of the time, but my current mood really is next level. I don’t think I have ever been so excited for a new year, ever! And not because the last year has been bad, as I said before it hasn’t, but because the coming year has the potential to be so fucking awesome! 

Baaaaaaah! I actually cannot wait. And I’m not going to have to. I’m off to Heartbreak Island next week! 

So thats where I am at at the end of 2017. Miserable, downtrodden, over it, my zest for life all but extinguished. Bah! I hope you are feeling similarly and like myself, have a number of things to look forward to in 2018. 

ps for those of you now worried I am going to spend NYE alone, don’t. Wheels are in motion, plans are afoot. I’m just currently trying to figure out how to see 2017 out in style and yet wake up in time AND be coherent for my four hour show on Newstalk ZB on Monday. I definitely won’t be on my lonesome when 2018 arrives. Promise. 

Still holding out hope for a pash at midnight… but we will have to see on that front. 

ps click here to join my mailing list and never miss a blog post.... with my departure imminent I am hoping to start firing out a blog or two weekly! 

Finally! I am allowed to tell you...

 Matilda Rice and, well, me.

Matilda Rice and, well, me.

Secrets. I hate keeping them. Especially secrets about things that are somewhat exciting. 

So with that in mind I am beyond happy that I can finally talk about this one. You have no idea how hard it has been keeping my mouth shut about this...

As you may have read in the NZ Herald this morning, next year (along with the lovely Matilda Rice), I am going to be the host of TVNZ2’s new entertainment show Heartbreak Island. 

What is Heartbreak Island? Its an original concept that will see a group of singles take up residence on a tropical island in the hope of finding love and winning $100,000. That’s pretty much all I can tell you right now, and to be honest, I don’t really know much more. 

Basically I got a call asking me if I wanted to host a TV show that was going to be filmed on a tropical island over 5 or 6 weeks, and without really thinking or asking any questions, I said yes! 

I mean, why wouldn't you? 

To say I was/am stoked is the understatement of the century. I cannot wait.

Gonna preempt a question now. No, this isn’t why I left Newstalk ZB. This wasn’t even on my radar prior to me handing in my notice. As I have mentioned to you previously, the plan next year was to go travelling again. This opportunity came along about a month or so ago. Was it fate? Luck? Good timing? I don't know, but I love whoever or whatever is responsible.

Initially when the producers were pitching the show to me I thought they were asking me to be on it, as a contestant - which I wouldn’t have been that keen on. But to host, to watch the action unfold before my eyes, oooooooooh yes, I cannot wait!

So there we go. Not only is 2018 gonna see my return to the world of travel, hopefully knocking off a handful of countries in this here world of ours, (and thus writing some interesting travel blogs for you to read along the way) it is also gonna see me co-host a primetime TV show on TVNZ. Waaaaaahooooooooooooo 2018! 

ps click here to join my mailing list and never miss a blog post.... promise to keep you as up-to-date as I am allowed re: Heartbreak Island.

YOU TRY AND HELP...

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Before I get into this, a quick FYI. I am writing about this online and haven't/won't be mentioning it on the radio because if I tell this story on-air the lady involved could hear, and I feel like it could potentially upset her (and I don’t want that). However in saying that I think it really is too funny to go untold. 

Back in early October Kerre and myself got a phone call from a lady called *Diane* who mentioned that she had bad arthritis and that therefore struggled to get her rubbish and recycling bins out sometimes (God knows what we were talking about and how we got onto bins, but we did). She went on to say she had people to do every now and again, but on some occasions struggled.

I could see Diane was calling from Auckland so I asked whereabouts, thinking if it was close to work/home I could nip around on the way home and pop the bins out for her. It turned out she lived in Mt Eden near Eden Park, which is literally ten minutes from my house, so I put her back to the producer and given collection day was tomorrow, said I would arrange to pop over after the show. 

The show ends, and long story short Diane decides she doesn’t need me to put the bins out after all. Turns out there isn’t much rubbish. 

I tell her to let me know when there is,  and I'll pop around and sort it.

The following Monday around 3pm I get a text on the work text number saying, “Still not much rubbish, don’t worry about the bins, Diane”.

I reply “No problems, maybe next week?” “OK,” comes the response. 

The week after it's the same again, still not enough rubbish to go out and the favour gets delayed yet another week. 

Fast forward to last Monday (the 29th) and finally there is enough rubbish to go out. A text saying as much arrives on the work text number just after 3pm.

The saga of Diane and her bins is now amusing me to no end. This marks the fourth Monday in a row where, whether or not Diane's bins need to go out, have enough trash and therefore if I am required to take them out, has become the focus of my Monday afternoon. More often than not part of the broadcast - and people accuse us of talking rubbish? 

“Perfect," I say "I have a meeting after the show but after that I will come and take them out.”

Diane (as expected) is incredibly sweet. She lives on her own in a block of flats down a long driveway. Has been there for 20 odd years and has spent most of that time listening to Newstalk ZB - listens pretty much 24/7, doesn’t miss a beat, LOVES Bruce Russell (who doesn’t), and is genuinely chuffed I have come to take her bins out. 

Anyway, mid-chat a women drives up the drive asking if it is my car semi-blocking the driveway and if I could move it as her son-in-law is about to drop some furniture off and my car will be in the way. I apologise and say that I will move it as soon as I have taken the bins down, say my farewells to Diane and head down the drive, only for the son-in-law to arrive, driving around my car and blocking me and the bins in. 

Hilariously it turns out I know this lady's son-in-law (and you might too), it was Ben Boyce from Jono and Ben. Small world.

“What are you doing here?” he asks, “Is that your Grandmother?”, “A family friend?”, “No”, I reply to all, explaining how in fact I have found myself here, which moves into what I’ve been up to and vice versa, and eventually wraps up with me offering to help him move the furniture he’d come to drop off.

With that sorted, Ben and his family left leaving the driveway clear so I could finally take the bins out… 

The bins now out, I find myself chatting to Ben’s mother-in-law about Diane, life, travel, Newstalk ZB, and she very kindly offers to bring the bins in for me (and Diane) once they have been emptied. Appreciative of not having to make a trip back, I bid my farewells and head home for dinner.

Tuesday 31st October (the next day). 

It was Mum’s birthday so in the evening Mum and I caught up and watched the new film Borg vs McEnroe - very cool, especially as I had never heard of Borg before and had no idea who won Wimbledon in 1980! Anyway, the movie wraps up, I say goodbye to Mum, check my phone and there is a text from Diane

“Someone has put my bins by my front door. Not a good look. Diane"

Now don’t get me wrong, the bins were kept by the garage, not the front door, and if something has a place, it has a place, but what a text! The tone!

And figuring I was going to have to sort it at some point and now was as good a time as any, I get in the car, drive to Mt Eden, yell "hello" through the door, and put the bins back where they were meant to be. 

“That’s what you get,” said my friend Cathryn in hysterics as I relayed the story to her down the phone as I drove home. “That’s what you get.”

And she’s right, why is it when you try and help the smallest things always end up being the most complicated? WHY? Pulling into my driveway and wrapping up my conversation to Cat my phone beeps and its another text from Diane. 

“Thank you,” the texts reads. “You need not have done it tonight. I appreciate your kindness. Diane” 

Ha! 

So she says.

HOLDEN 'EQUINOX' LAUNCH

 Kerre & myself at the launch of Holden's new 'Equinox' at Whoa! Studios in Henderson.

Kerre & myself at the launch of Holden's new 'Equinox' at Whoa! Studios in Henderson.

 

First things first, can I just say a huge thank you for all the kind comments, messages and emails following my 'leaving ZB' announcement, I have been blown away by the support. It’s been beyond amazing. So cheers.

I had a very cool night last night, Kerre & I went to the launch of Holden’s new Sport Utility Vehicle, the ‘Equinox'. Having never been to a car launch before, I had no real idea what to expect, but the promise of a five-course degustation meal following the presentation was more than enough to get me along… suit and all! 

The evening was very cool. Not only did we get to see the new ‘Equinox’, we got too see a few other models that Holden is bringing out over the next few years, including the new Commodore, which (as you'd expect) is one incredibly sexy piece of machinery. 

 The new Holden 'Equinox' on the left, and the all new 'Astra' on the right.

The new Holden 'Equinox' on the left, and the all new 'Astra' on the right.

Not only were there beautiful cars, but incredible people too. I met Stephen Donald for the first time (lovely), designer Tanya Carlson (also lovely), and legendary motoring writer Sandy Myhre (Sandy writes the blog www.wenchesonadventures.com). Sandy and I bonded over the fact we both drive late 1990’s Nissan Pulsars. Having often had the piss taken out of me by various people on the radio for driving a 'shit car’, it warmed the cockles of my heart to know that a woman that has been behind the wheel of some of the most beautiful cars in the world, loves, and has no intention of getting rid of her 1998 Nissan Pulsar. Amazing. Go the Pulsar! 

In saying that would I flick the Pulsar for any of the new Holdens I saw last night? In. A. Second. 

Cheers to Ed and the team at Holden NZ for the invite. And to the chefs at The Grounds at Whoa! Studios in Henderson, thanks, the food was deeeeeeelicious.

 

 

WHY I AM LEAVING NEWSTALK ZB

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I can't tell you exactly when I came up with my ‘40-year plan’, but I must have been around 15 or 16. The first inklings of the plan coming together after I appeared as a contestant on a TV cooking show called Ready Steady Cook. While watching TV after school one day I saw an advert seeking contestants for the show, thinking it would be a bit of fun, I applied, along with my friend Ryan. We both got an interview, and a couple of months later we found ourselves on the way into downtown Auckland to film an episode. For the show, Ryan and I would be pared with a chef and given 20 minutes to cook a meal with some ingredients ‘we’ (ahhhh the magic of television) had picked up from Woolworths. The show was filmed in front of a live studio audience and hosted by the one and only, Kerre Woodham (now McIvor).

Long story short, I fell in love. As far as I was concerned I had found my place in the world. And that was in front of a camera and with an audience hanging on to my every word. Ha! I’m pretty sure I said to Dad before we had even left the building, “When I leave school I want to do what that lady Kerre does.” Dad went on to explain that not only was she on TV, she was also on the radio. And so it must have been that night, for the first time, at the tender age of 11, I listened to Night Time Talk with Kerre Woodham on Newstalk ZB. While all my friends were listening to music on Mai FM, ZM and (at touch later in life) Channel Z, I was listening to Kerre discuss the news, politics, and whatever else came up with the general populace on ZB. And talk about becoming a habit of a lifetime. I listened to talkback from that point on every single night before bed. After a time I couldn’t get to sleep without it. The habit only coming unstuck when I left the country at 26. And not out of choice, but because there was no way of listening to it whilst staying in hostels in South East Asia. There were a few sleepless nights initially, but it was definitely for the best. It was a somewhat weird conversation to have when people stayed over, “yeaaaaah, I can’t go to sleep unless I have talkback on, sorry."  And yes, weird as a kid, and even more so as an adult. 

With a new career goal in mind (becoming a pilot was now on the back burner), research was done, people in the media spoken to, and it was decided to realise my dream of working on TV/on the radio, the New Zealand Broadcasting School in Christchurch was where I needed to head to once I had finished high school. 

And so somewhere between appearing on Ready Steady Cook, and getting into Broadcasting School I formed what became my ’40-year plan';

 

1. Get into the New Zealand Broadcasting School 

2. Graduate and get a job on-air at a radio station

3. Move into TV

4. Travel

5. Return to New Zealand and host Talkback

 

Looking back on this now it actually blows my mind that all of this 'plan' actually came to pass. It's crazy enough that it happened, but the bit that really blows me away is just how quickly I achieved what I set out to.

I graduated from Broadcasting School in 2005, I was working at The Edge in a part-time on-air capacity by 2006. By 2007 I had my own show on ZM. And by 2009/2010 (it’s starting to get blurry…) I was filming stories for TV2’s The Erin Simpson Show. 

Tick.

Tick.

Tick.

And then came the decision of a lifetime (at that point anyway), to throw it all in and venture out into the world. And as difficult as leaving ZM and The Erin Simpson Show was, it was the best decision I ever made. Not only did those four years floating around the world change me irrevocably, they increased my awareness on so many fronts that in a way, I believe, set me up to nail that final piece of the ’40-year plan’, and land a show doing talkback on Newstalk ZB

But why am I telling you all this? And why am I leaving ZB? 

Doing Afternoons with Kerre on Newstalk ZB (as you now know) was a dream come true. And it has been amazing. Yes there have been some trying times - in all honesty I don’t think anything can really prepare you for your first few months hosting talkback. It is like nothing else I have ever experienced, and/or ever will. But even through those first few months and without a doubt every day since, man we have had some fun. 

But as much as I do genuinely love the job, love Kerre (I don’t think there are words for how much I love that woman), love hearing from all the people I get to on a daily/weekly basis, I’m not done with the world just yet. 

I currently have absolutely no regrets. If (and I do hope this doesn’t happen) I die tomorrow, I’m actually not fussed. In my mind there is nothing more I could’ve done with my time on this planet. I really have had the most incredible life. And so I guess from having felt this way for so long, my worst case scenario is getting to a point where I do have regrets. Inevitable you might say, but I am going to try and stay ‘regret free’ for as long as possible. And although it would’ve been easy to stay on at ZB and continue on this path, it would’ve meant not realising so many dreams that have come about since I was a teenager.

If hosting talkback on Newstalk ZB was living 16-year-old Mark’s dream, I’m leaving to realise what the 27-year-old me (and the current version) wants. And that is (in short) to see Africa (I’ve only been to Morocco), to get to 100 counties by 35 (I’m at 63), finish off my Spanish (I want to be fluent and that is going to take a few months of full immersion, probably in Mexico), I want to return to India to learn how to be a yoga instructor, and spend summers with my friends in Toronto, Berlin, New York, and of course a few more in my beloved London. Hosting a talkback show Mon-Fri 12pm-4pm and doing/achieving the above is not really possible. And so, it was one or the other. 

Am I an idiot? Deranged? The stupidest fool that ever lived for leaving such a plum job to try and cross off a few more ‘dreams’? Maybe. Probably. But you know what? Playing things safe is boring, go big or go home I say. It is possible I may end up looking back on this decision and thinking, ‘you bloody idiot!’, but I doubt it. Like everything, this next phase of my life will either work or fail miserably but whatever the outcome, it's going to be one hell of an adventure giving it a go. 

And how am I going to fund this, you ask? Well the plan is to go full digital nomad. Blogging, travel writing (I have already locked in some stories with the New Zealand Woman's Weekly), some digital advertising/social media consultancy, and managing my various business interests remotely. My plan isn’t to leave NZ for good. I want to return for (at minimum) the summers each year. All things going to plan I will be back in the country each December to catch up with friends and family and (hopefully) do some fill in work on Newstalk ZB while everyone is away for their summer break. Just like i used to before I got the full-time gig with Kerre. 

So yeah, sad news in a way. The end of an era - that is if you can call a couple of years an era. But exciting times ahead. FYI Kerre and my last show together will be December 21st, but my last will be January 19th. I am going to work through Xmas and NY and take a break post. 

And finally, for those that are concerned, don’t worry, Kerre isn’t going anywhere. And I'm sure there will be an announcement around the future of the show in due course. 

As I mentioned before, the plan is to go full-time blogger (especially once I start travelling again). In preparation for this I have recently started a mailing list and would love for you to sign up. If you are keen, you can do that here.

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER I GAVE UP SUGAR

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I can't really recall why I decided to give up sugar. I guess I just got swept up in the hysteria around doing so and decided to give it a go. The countless stories from talkback callers, and the media in general, about how giving up the ‘white devil' has changed their lives. This run is my second attempt. I managed 11 days sugar free last month but succumbed to the temptation at a leaving dinner for my brother. He was returning to Europe the next day, so Mum, Dad, my brother and I went out for a family dinner at Eight at The Langham. I announced at the start of the dinner that I was now sugar free and therefore WOULD NOT be indulging in dessert. However that promise slowly faded each time I returned to the buffet and in the process passed the chocolate fountain. Of all the bloody things! How was I supposed to say no to a chocolate fountain? I mean, I am not without self control, but I couldn’t, and I didn’t. And so after a good few rounds of savoury I was gorging myself on chocolate cake, caramel slice, lemon meringue pie, and of course, litres of chocolate sauce. Bugger!

Buuuut, a surprising thing happened. Eating sugar again was just ok, but it was the mind blowing experience I was expecting. Prior to that first bite of chocolate cake dripping in chocolate sauce, the anticipation was real. But it never eventuated. And so I tried everything else that was on offer, thinking maybe the cake was just lacklustre. But no. Nothing hit quite like I was expecting it to. This is in no way a slight on the chefs/bakers at Eight, but more (I think), an insight into how I had mentally built up to joy of consuming sugar in my mind. 

Claire Turnball from Mission Nutrition once told me that it takes 12 days to reset your taste buds. So if you are salt fiend, try and go without for 12 days, and following that, you want for everything salty, or need to coat everything you eat in it, should be reduced. So at 11 days without sugar, maybe the reset had been completed. 

So anyway, after a relapse a couple of weeks back, I am now nine days into (what I have promised myself), is 30 days without sugar. It's funny, it wasn’t until a caller rung talkback on Monday extolling the virtues of his sugar-free life and explaining how his mood had improved, that I realised the same had happened to me. And although there was a wee relapse, if I look back across the last few weeks I am so much more even, mood wise, than I have been almost ever. I’m having ups and downs (of course, I am human), but not to the great extents I feel like I used to. I’m still no delight first thing in the morning, but the process of getting up and going to the gym has been easier of late, and has required a tonne less coffee! Is it all due to being (almost) sugar free? Perhaps. I don’t really feel like much else has changed. I am still working too much, sleeping too little, eating and exercising well (I’m pretty good with the latter two), so it could be?

Aside from the more constant mood, and saving $$$ on $1 mixed bags (oooooh I’ll be a millionaire in no time), I have lost a little bit of stomach fat. Not that I am in any way overweight or need to lose weight, but I have noticed a weeeeee tightening around the abdominal area. Which, let's be honest, is welcomed by most.

So there we go, my experiences after a couple of weeks (but in reality nine full days) of a diet with no sugar. FYI I am not avoiding fruit or anything with natural sugars, just those manufactured, wrapped in plastic type foods full of sugar. Those along with sauces that contain it, sugary drinks, and the delights in cafes and restaurants that look like recipes that could’ve come from one of Joe Seager's cookbooks, and therefore contain no less than 1.5kg of the stuff!

It will be interesting to see where I am at following the full 30? A ripped torso and completely zen like Buddha hopefully...

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