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?



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? 


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.


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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Another World Right On Our Doorstep

White Island from aboard White Island Tour's custom made vessel. (photo Tori Hayley)

White Island from aboard White Island Tour's custom made vessel. (photo Tori Hayley)

Photos: Tori Hayley

Last year Elon Musk (Tesla, PayPal, Space X etc), published an article about setting up a colony on Mars. He estimates establishing a colony of 12 people would cost around US$10 billion per person. Now I know his goal is to ensure the human race endures, and it’s about more than just experiencing something new. But I say to Musk (and anyone else thinking along the same lines), instead funnel that money into saving the planet we are on, and to tick the ‘experience’ box, get themselves to White Island.

New Zealand’s most active volcano, Whakaari (or White Island) is located off the coast of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, and is about as different or otherworldly as you can get here on planet Earth. This feeling hits you as soon as the island comes into view. The white smoke slowly rising from the island is your first clue, followed by the absolute barren landscape that inches into view as the White Island Tours boat moves closer to main entrance of the island at the southern end.

It is not a quick trip from Whakatane out to White Island, and the crossing of the Bay of Plenty did have some (myself included for a time) feeling slightly wobbly. I would definitely suggest you take some sort of sea sickness remedy if you are prone to it.

Upon arrival, we were decked out in hard hats, a life jacket and a ventilation mask, and then ferried to the island from the boat on an inflatable (not too dissimilar to that of the Surf Lifeguard’s).

Landing on the island looked and felt like some sort of evacuation in reverse. And given the stories about the trials and tribulations (sometimes ending in death) of those that have mined sulphur on the island over the years, and I guess the threat of an eruption, apprehension did tend to creep.

Nothing on the island has been left unscathed – the volcano is very much in control here. Even the stairs you use to climb onto the island bear the scars from an eruption in 2013. The mining equipment from the early 20th Century, having seen a few more, even more worse for wear

Once on the island your attention is pulled in every which way, it’s all familiar and yet not. The contrasts in colours are incredible, the white of the smoke and steam, the red of the iron covered rock, and the yellow of the sulphur up against the deep blue of the sea, and the cloudless sky.

The tour takes you slowly towards the crater, stopping at heat vents, bubbling mud, and fizzing streams. The ground is uneven and constantly changing. If you have visited White Island in the past chances are the White Island I saw is completely different from the one you did. It is difficult to fathom given the size of the thing but the crater that consumes such a huge part of the island currently didn’t exist until after an eruption in 2000.  

After the crater the tour winds its way to what is known as the ‘overall lookout’. Names aren’t complicated here; the lookout named as such because it gives you, yup, an overall view of the island. There is also Shark Bay, yes indeed you guessed it, someone saw some sharks there once.

After the lookout it is down to remnants of the sulphur mine, and big dose of perspective. Whatever it is you do for work, however much you hate it, your job ain’t got nothing on those that worked here in the various sulphur mines! The constant threat of death, decaying teeth, decomposing clothing, just general conditions you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy…. Or maybe you would? Sicko.

After exploring the sulphur mine, our group is taken from the island in the same way we arrived, lunch is handed out (featuring the most delicious NZ apple I have eaten in a very long time) and the boat takes us for a tour of the exterior of White Island before heading back for Port Whakatane.

More than content with the events of the day, and ready for the return journey (I had found myself a sweet spot at the back of the boat that meant I would have the sun in my face and the wind in my hair all the way home), the day went from awesome to ridiculous as we found ourselves cruising alongside a pod of not ten, not hundreds, but literally thousands of dolphins.

They were everywhere. I’m not sure what the next step up from a pod of dolphins is? I’m going to suggest a ‘school’. However, I don’t feel even that is enough. More like ‘schools’. I’ve never seen anything like it. But apparently, this is normal during the summer months in the Bay. For those of us that weren’t White Island Tours crew, we didn’t know which way to look? The dolphins were breaching the water, left, right, behind, in front, and for hundreds of metres around. You’ve never seen happiness sweep over a group of people so quickly. What is it about dolphins? Just magic.

So again, Mr Musk I reiterate. Save the planet we are on and visit White Island on a White Island Tour. You are hardly going to encounter thousands of the world’s most delightful animal en-route to Mars from Cape Canaveral are you?

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