Short Story Non-Fiction

The Cannibal Isles

“Catch the bus at the Nadi markets, but be sure it takes the back road to Lautoka,” Dr. Rajat instructs me over the phone.

Although I’m in Fiji on holiday, I’m invited to attend a workshop on Community Health. Back in New Zealand, I’d heard about free medical camps being held on outlying Fijian islands where villagers had few facilities. Is this my opportunity to find out more?

The back road goes via the coast through Viseisei, where the first settlers  of Fiji, cannibals all, made landfall. Our window-free bus allows tropical air to waft over us. I’m set down on the seaward side of the main road beside the village.  An impressive bure-style hall of traditional Fijian design perches on a nearby hill. Read more...

The Fire that Jack Built

“The fire isn’t far from your veggie garden,” said the fire fighter to me. “What would you like us to take out of the house first?”

I goggled at him in horror, dumbstruck. What on earth would I choose?

I’d come back from work that day, another day working for the Salvation Army teaching trainees horticulture, just another day at the office it seemed. It was warm, radio going in the car to pass the pleasant journey from Whakatane to our rural coastal home at Bryan’s Beach. It took thirty minutes and just past half way, I noticed a plume of smoke in the sky.

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The Wild Child, Noel Peterson, aka Tauranga’s Green Wizard

“Noel, Noel, where are you?”

Sometimes eight-year old Noel smiled to himself as he listened to his mother calling out for him. He knew he would be safe from discovery, hidden in one of his secret caves. Whenever he got sick of being told off or strapped for not going to school, he would run away and hole up in the cave for a while.

By the time he was seven, he had discovered two caves in the area during his wanderings; one at the bottom of the cliffs below Tutarawananga, (Yatton Park) the other on a hillside near the top of Oropi Road.

His mates were the cave wetas, with body’s one-inch long (2.5cm) and long, long legs, four-five inches long (about 10cm). Harmless creatures, they stimulated his first interest in insects. Read more...

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