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What was the best birthday present you ever received, and why?
For my 18th birthday, I asked my grandmother to buy me a tramping & climbing pack - a Macpac Torre. That pack has been with me on so many adventures around New Zealand and the world, and despite needing several repairs is still going strong. It’s so old now that it even has a bit of retro credibility with younger trampers, especially with its late ’80s-style purple canvas.
What smell do you find irresistible?
As a student I worked over summer holidays stonefruit picking in Central Otago, where thyme grows wild in the hills. Whenever I smell fresh thyme now I start remembering those hills, often before I realise what brought that memory to mind. To me it’s the smell of hot summers and open spaces.
What is your least favourite thing about humanity?
In my job I get to see first-hand both the desperate plight and the heroic resilience of many of the most vulnerable children and their communities around the world. My least favourite thing is seeing power and privilege used to oppress rather than to lift others up. But I more often see people working hard for those around them.
What is one strong childhood memory?
After my School Certificate exams in fifth form a friend and I spent much of the summer sailing our little centre-board yacht on day expeditions far and wide. The only responsibility was to make sure we could get back home every evening, despite the inevitable gear failures along the way.
What is your message?
As we are enjoying the return of freedoms here in New Zealand, it’s a really important time to remember people who have it the toughest around the world. For those who can only afford to feed their family today from what they earn today, Covid-19 is a matter of survival. It’s so important now that we reach out to our global neighbours.