Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review of Surviving Suicide: a mothers story

Heather Hapeta (Goodreads Author)

Pip Adam's review 
Oct 07, 2012

really liked it

Like many people, suicide has been a part of my life from an early age. I found Surviving Suicide: A Mother's Story a very helpful book. Although, thankfully, it has been almost a year since the last suicide in our family I still gained a lot of information and hope from this book.

The book begins with a detailed retelling of the author's experience of her son's suicide. Hapeta recounts this time in an intimate way, explaining exactly how she felt and what she did, in the time leading up to the suicide as she tried to help her son recover from the debilitating affects of a serious accident, when she found her son's body after his suicide and in the time following. I found this account very affecting and the detail was extremely helpful. I have found that we often talk in abstracts about suicide, with our relatives and friends, but to read a detailed account of one person's experience was very useful. I could relate to many of the experiences Hapeta recounts and I found it quite helpful to compare my own experience with hers, both the similarities and the differences. In this section Hapeta also talks about what worked and what didn't during this time in her son's life and death. I'm not sure what it would be like reading this account closer to a suicide but I found it very helpful.

The second section of the book (I am not sure the book is as clearly delineated as I am presented it as, Hapeta's voice continues into the second section which is great because its easy tone and direct language is part of what makes this book so helpful) offers some invaluable advice concerning a large range of things. This makes the book an extremely useful handbook to have in the time of a suicide. This section begins with some lists about how to deal with the time directly after the suicide and comes from both Hapeta's personal experience and her word as a grief cousellor. There is one particular list which helps friends of people surviving suicide might help them. I remember Hapeta giving me this list a long time ago after a friend died and I found it useful then and I think it is still useful now. As well as guidance on how to navigate the emotional landscape of suicide, Hapeta offers pragmatic advice about the law and the media. I think this is an extemely important part of what makes this book so successful. I remember directly after the suicide of a close friend, whose will I was the executor of, being inundated with legal requirements which I didn't understand. I'm not sure I would have been robust enough to read these sections of this book but if I had a copy I am sure someone close to me could have read these and clarified what needed to be done. This legal information deals mainly with New Zealand law, but I feel that if you are an overseas reader it would act as a checklist of things to ask legal experts about. I also found Hapeta's sections about the media very helpful. There is a lot of publicity about whether the media should report suicide and Hapeta offers really intelligent and caring recommendations about how to deal with this that again come from her unique experience as suicide survivor and professional.

This book is unique, I believe. I have never read anything quite like it. The blend of personal and professional experience is invaluable. My hope is that no one will every need a book about suicide again, but I suspect they will and if they do, I think this is a very good option.


this book is avaibake on Amazon


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Tips to about how to help after a suicide death

How to help after a suicide death

Remember, despite the headlines, suicide deaths are numerically small and the grief from this form of death is different, however, I know, and so do many, many others, it is possible to survive the pain.
Here are a few suggestions learnt from my own pain and the experience of others’ when I was involved with the Canterbury Bereaved by Suicide Society:
* Do let us talk – mostly we don’t want your advice, just your ears – we need to voice what's going on in our head.
* Do respond honestly to our questions about the death.
* Don't remove tasks, responsibilities, or other actions, unless we ask you to. Tidying our daughter’s room; sorting our husband’s clothes, or a father’s office; although painful, these actions are often valued tasks that help us work through the pain. Just because it hurts doesn’t mean we don't want to do these jobs. We may just want to do it later: when we are ready.
* Don't tell us it's not our fault; that it's XYZ's fault; that it’s God’s will; and that we'll find a meaning to this in time, or any other conclusion you may have: ours may be different. Your deductions may be true but we have to work through a process to arrive at our own answers. Each of us will grieve in our own way and come to our own solutions.
* Don't tell us that you know how we feel – you don't, even if you too had someone die by suicide.
* Try not to let your own sense of helplessness stop you reaching out to us. Some of the most helpful support I got was from people who said; ‘I don't know what to say’. I knew they were speaking from the heart.
* Do allow us our own feelings: we will be working through anger, disbelief, hate, love, blame and every other human emotion there is. We won't be doing it in a nice neat list like many grief books suggest. It will be more like the tin of emotional worms I spoke of earlier – each one wriggling, and working their way from the top to the bottom then back up to the top, again, and again, and again.
* Don't tell us what you would do, or how you would feel if you were us – you aren't us.
* Remember our grief will not be over in six weeks or six months. We have at least a year of working through the initial, intense, pain, the funeral, the inquest, then the first Christmas, the first birthday, and the first anniversary of the death, the funeral and every other important time that we shared with our loved one.

April 2012. ISBN 978-0-473-20510-2 available in paperback and for e-readers  - AMAZON 


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Apartment life and an apologies to Wellington motorists

Twice a year my windows are professionally cleaned.  Inside it's left to amateurs like me ... that's good as I'm on the 4th floor and am scared of heights.

Sadly, for my fellow Wellingtonians, this means my street is converted to a one-lane throughfare for a few hours.  Sorry to have my windows hold you up every few months.

Here's a photographic story of my street and window cleaners.


















Thursday, June 18, 2015





There’s no universally accepted definition of ecotourism, and there are considerable overlaps in the meanings. It’s perhaps the most over-used and misused word in the tourism industry - often deliberately misused for marketing purposes.

Hapeta say "I’m a self-taught writer, not a journalist, or an ecologist. This is not a scientific paper with lots of facts and figures, merely the musings about green issues by a traveller who wants to walk as lightly as possible on Earth"

She uses her trips to Malaysian Borneo as a way of exploring the issues.  She also says she is "Time-rich, I’m a slow traveller, so stay longer in more places than most, trying to absorb the culture and flavours, to sit and watch people. It also means that although I don’t always sign up for an expensive eco-tour, I do try to practise the principles of ecotourism."

This small book starts with her surrounded by noisy, diesel-fumed boats, nudging each other, racing their engines, drivers manoeuvring so their passengers get the best view.  It made her wonder "can a travel writer, or any traveller, really be green - or is this just an oxymoronic dream, given the air miles needed to get to destinations?"

In this essay-cum-travel memoir she considers how green she was, or wasn’t, while exploring this ‘seething hotspot of bio-diversity’ of an island. (‘Quote from Planet Earth’ BBC TV).
She obviously agrees with Malaysia's tourism tagline. ‘Malaysia - truly Asia’ and this booklet is a good introduction to the island of Borneo and green travel issues around the world.

Hapeta has two other book available on Amazon ( and other e-sellers) Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad;  and, Surviving Suicide - a mother's story

She writes travel blogs on www.kiwitravelwriter.wordpress.com  

Her FaceBook page is The Travelling Writer


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

TPPA protests in New Zealand

On the 8th November 2014,  Kiwis kick-started the global day of action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Many New Zealanders believe it poses an enormous threat to NZ’s ability to regulate for itself, and gives foreign investors and multinationals new rights to control NZ laws.

The family-friendly march from the Bucket Fountain in Cuba Street to the Civic Square ended with speeches and music. Speakers focused on local government and community issues as well as the broader national concerns.

Ariana addresses the crowd in Civic Square, Wellington New Zealand


Speakers included Sandra Grey (MC), Todd Rippon (Actors Equity), Greg Rzenosweicki (Renewables), Sue Kedgley (GWR Councillor), Gay Keating (OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council)

Many people have already signed a petition to the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, to protect the country’s sovereignty. They said ‘it’s not for sale; No one can sign it away on our behalf’, and reminding him that ‘New Zealand is a sovereign nation’.

Speakers today believe if the TPPA goes ahead, New Zealand risks:

  • Medicines costing more
  • GM labelling being scrapped
  • Internet access being criminalised
  • Copyright law being expanded
  • Parallel importing being banned
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi (1840) being overridden
  • New Zealand would be giving international investors the power to sue our government for making laws which they oppose.

Monday, July 14, 2014

too too cute. A baby turtle we called Lucky!

we called this little fella "lucky'" - hope he is the one in a many hundreds who actually are lucky


Writing today about this little fella and it's 199 siblings and cousins. Check out my travel blog (www.kiwitravelwriter.wordprss.com) later to see more photos

See the video of its solo trip to the sea. (the others had left in the middle of the night!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Annie - the cute red-headed orphan

Who wouldn’t love the cute red-headed orphan Annie?

Attending as guests at the opening night of the UK production of Annie – one of the best-loved, family musicals I believe the two of us were the only people there without knowing a child in the cast – or one who had auditioned!

Opening at the St James Theatre, Wellington, to rave reviews, some of which said:

  • ‘What a show - slick, boisterous, classy, with excellent performances from the whole cast’ said the RNZ National reviewer.
  • ‘It is a performance that oozes enjoyment, fun and general positivity,’ said Theatre View. ‘This is a cast who clearly love the heck outta their work. It's the best method of escapism since the invention of magazines and island holidays. I feel ten years old again and possess the same amount of optimism.’
  • ‘It’s pure magic.’  Daily Express UK
The show features a host of familiar faces from British TV and my co-guest often said “oh she’s on XYZ or he’s from ABC’. Leading the cast is the hilarious star of stage and screen, Hi-de-Hi comedian Su Pollard, who I did recognise, who is the alcohol-soaked Miss Hannigan, headmistress of the hard-knock New York City Municipal Orphanage.  Playing the kindly billionaire businessman Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks is David McAlister while the role of former US President Franklin D Roosevelt is Frazer Hines.

The set and singing (a little loud which distorted the words for those of us, like me, who didn't know them) were almost outshone by Sandi: everyone’s eyes were on the dog – a real scene stealer! My fellow guest said on leaving ‘that song is going to keep repeating on my head’. It didn’t become an earworm for me, but I’m sure lots of young girls with dreams of the stage will be singing it into hairbrush microphones over the next few days and weeks.

Annie plays in Wellington until 8th June then in Auckland for a month.




Friday, April 11, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New Zealand week in Malaysia!


Malaysia was recently full of Kiwis participating in New Zealand Week 2014 – seven days of activities and events exploring and celebrating the links between the two nations.

The festival was entitled Lima Mata Ikan (meaning “five fish eyes”), and much was made of the fact that the Maori translation of this phrase is very similar: Rima Mata Ika.

There were collaborations between indigenous artists from both countries (using the title as a creative motif), showcases of New Zealand culture, products and businesses and tourism. Activities included a New Zealand Food Fair, cultural performances by an excellent kapa haka group, an eco-tourism seminar and a gala dinner featuring a video competition between joint New Zealand-Malaysia student teams.

An exhibition by the Te Puia Institute included the unveiling of a ceremonial Maori carving called “Pataka Taonga” (“storehouse of treasures”) in the Sarawak Art Museum.

Sarawak’s capital, Kuching, and Kuala Lumpur in Peninsular Malaysia were at the centre of the action and New Zealand’s Minister of Maori Affairs Dr Pita Sharples, who headed the delegation, was the keynote speaker at the indigenous eco-tourism event.

Delegates were hosted by New Zealand alumni living in Malaysia, of which there are a surprising number - more than 400 in Kuching alone! In Kuching, the event coincided with the Borneo Post International Education Fair (BPIEF) and 14 New Zealand universities and institutions of higher learning were participants.

Dr Sharples was optimistic about further inter-cultural exchange and educational opportunities. In Kuching he said: “From this New Zealand Week event, (until then) I didn’t realise that hundreds of Sarawakians have come through our universities. There’s even one university in New Zealand where there are 2300 students from Sarawak.”
“It’s great that these cultural exchanges are taking place between our two countries,” says Zalina Ahmad, director of Tourism Malaysia in New Zealand. “We have so much in common – you only have to look at the similarities between the Maori and Bahasa Melayu Malaysian language to realise this – and we can only strengthen our business and cultural links by celebrating these similarities in an enjoyable way.”