Ask Aunty S


Dear Aunty S

Last Xmas I had another miserable time at my parents house.
My sister is horrible and flaunts her wealth in front of my kids by taking her kids presents over to my parents house for them to open.
My kids open their presents at home.
My parents are sweet and have told me not to come this year, just visit in the evening after she has gone home which I am thrilled about as we will have a family Xmas at the beach.
There is a small problem, my husband  says I can take the kids to the beach if I want but he is having Xmas dinner at my parents.
He likes catching up with his brother-in-laws, they sit around and get rotten drunk.
The kids are fine going without their father but I am now feeling guilty.
What should I do?

Aunty S responds

Your husband is quite happy to go to your parents without his family so you have no reason to feel guilty.
Of course It is sad he prefers a drinking session to having a day out with his family but if you are okay with this there is no problem.
Have a fun-filled day at the beach.

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Dear Aunty S


Dear Aunty S

I have decided not to go to my in-laws this Xmas as I am over all the drama that happens year after year.
My kids are old enough to pick up on the fact they are being ignored by their cousins and Grandparents and of course there is always the snide remarks about how brown they go in Summer.
I am Maori and my husband isn’t.
His family have never forgiven me for marrying their son.
My husband is very supportive and always apologises after we leave their house.
I am the one who has insisted we go each year in the hope they would accept us.
My husband is glad I have seen sense and now wants to have it out with his parents.
I would rather we just ignore the elephant in the room and politely say we are busy this year but hope to pop over at some stage on Xmas Day, of course we won’t.

Aunty S responds:

I agree with you my dear.
Very wise.
You gave it your best shot to try to make them accept you, their behaviour is now affecting your children; time to end the Xmas horror but not in a confrontational way.
Have a great Xmas with your lovely family.

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Govt protection proposed for 90 per cent of bank deposits


People with money in the bank will soon have a guarantee of most of their money.

Kiwi households have around $170 billion on deposit with banks, but currently, should a bank fail in New Zealand, there’s no guarantee the Government would bail it out.

Under the Reserve Bank’s Open Bank Resolution scheme (OBR), depositors at a failing bank might have to take a “haircut” with some of their money being taken to recapitalise their bank, and get it open for business again quickly.

New Zealand is unusual by international standards in not having a deposit protection scheme for money in the bank.

The decision comes as part of phase two of the review of the Reserve Bank Act.

“Now is the right time to check we have the tools to make sure banks meet their obligations to New Zealanders, and the powers to enforce them,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

“The Government is also making sure New Zealand follows international best practice for promoting public confidence in our banking system, including on the issue of depositor protection.

“Our banks are safe and sound. However, the OECD and IMF have said that our banking system might be more vulnerable in a crisis because we don’t have a deposit protection regime. A deposit protection regime will increase public confidence in the banks.”

The Government is proposing a limit between $30,000 and $50,000 for the deposit protection regime. This would cover 90 per cent of individual bank deposits in New Zealand, which is similar to international schemes. It follows consultation with the sector.

“Overseas experience shows that bank failures can be the result of a few bad decisions that normal bank customers had no influence over and no idea about. A deposit protection scheme will help protect customers like a young couple saving a deposit for a house, people saving for their retirement, or the small business operator who keeps money aside for a rainy day.”

Banking expert Claire Matthews, of Massey University, said it was likely to increase costs for bank depositors.

Internationally, guarantees such as this were not free for the banks. “You can argue the big banks can cover that cost within their level of profit currently but I would expect them to pass it on in some way. Smaller banks don’t have that same capacity so that will increase the cost to depositors.”

She said, depending on which institutions were covered, it might prompt people to shift their money to those with the guarantee.

The Government is also making sure bank regulators in New Zealand have the right tools to hold the banks and their executives to account.

Phase two of the review will look at whether the Reserve Bank’s supervisory regime is sufficiently strong. It will also review the enforcement tools the Reserve Bank has, including whether penalties are tough enough to discourage certain behaviour.

The Government is considering adopting elements of overseas frameworks, which would increase the responsibilities and accountabilities of senior executives for the actions of New Zealand’s banks and licensed deposit-takers.

Australia’s Bank Executive Accountability Regime and the UK’s Senior Managers Regime are two examples of frameworks that assign duties to individual decision-makers at banks, so that if things go wrong the individuals directly responsible can be identified and held to account.

“These regimes go a step further than New Zealand’s current Director Attestation Regime for banks, by also holding senior managers to account for the prudent management of their bank within their area of responsibility,” Robert said.




This is disgusting

Concern mounting over common food additive linked to cancer, bowel disease

Concern is mounting over the safety of popular food additive 171, otherwise known as titanium dioxide.

The substance, which is used for food colouring, can be found in almost 1000 products on supermarket shelves, including mayonnaise, chocolate, toothpaste and even some lollies.

Now, research published yesterday by the University of Sydney suggests the additive could lead to bowel disease or cancer, Nine News reports.

Unlike other food colourings, which are chemical-based, titanium dioxide contains nanoparticles, which can also be found in anything from scratch-resistant sunglasses, car paint and medicines.

Associate Professor Wojciech Chrzanowski, a co-lead author of the study, said its consumption has been linked to “auto-immune disease, asthma, allergies and reproductive issues.”

“We’ve been exposed to nanoparticles all our lives. Mr Chrzanowski said. “However, we are sort of entering the stage where we are over-exposed.

“They should be aware of the potential risk associated with these (products) and maybe when possible limit the consumption of these products.”

France has announced it will ban its use as an additive from 2020. However, here are no current plans to ban the colouring in Australia.

This is a vital read

How dangerous is your painkiller?   

24 February 2018

This article can be found on:

Researchers have today revealed the exact risk of having a heart attack or stroke from taking several common painkillers.

The heart dangers of ibuprofen, celecoxib, mefenamic acid, diclofenac and naproxen – taken by millions worldwide to dampen pain – have been assessed.

Taiwanese experts have concluded that the five different tablets could all affect the heart within four weeks, but some are more dangerous than others, the Daily Mail reported.

They assessed the odds of a major cardiovascular event for each of the popular painkillers, using data from 56,00 adults with hypertension – high blood pressure.

They discovered, on average, one in 330 adults who have been taking ibuprofen will experience a heart attack or stroke within four weeks.

However, the drug, costing as little as 20c a tablet and available in supermarkets and dairies, was found to be three times less dangerous than celecoxib, which will lead to one in 105 adults experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

The scientists found mefenamic acid posed the least threat, with just one in 394 users expected to suffer a stroke or heart attack.

One in 245 adults will suffer a cardiovascular event from taking diclofenac, commonly sold as Voltaren in NZ. It was banned from sale over-the-counter in the UK three years ago due to its heart dangers.

However, as many as one in 214 adults taking naproxen – which can be bought from pharmacies without prescription, could expect to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

The findings, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, highlight the known dangers of taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

An array of evidence has emerged in recent years, linking the widely taken drugs to heart attacks and cardiac arrest – which can kill within minutes.

But few studies published to date have been able to calculate the exact risk of major cardiovascular events between different NSAIDs.

Nearly 56,000 patients with hypertension – high blood pressure – were monitored by researchers at National Yang-Ming University, Taipei.

These patients are at an elevated risk of heart attacks and strokes, but are often unaware that taking common painkillers can boost their blood pressure further.

Major cardiovascular events were classed as when patients were hospitalised for stroke, heart attacks, TIAs and angina.

However, the scientists, led by Dr Yaa-Hui Dong, were keen to point out that there were no significant differences between the painkillers.

And they warned the only significant increased risk was observed when comparing celeocxib and mefenamic acid.

Dr Chia-Hsuin Chang, co-author of the study, said: “Our results provide important information about the comparative safety of alternative NSAID use in patients with hypertension in real-world settings.

“Under low-to-moderate daily dose and a short-term treatment period, most commonly used NSAIDs have similar cardiovascular safety profiles.”

Some cardiologists have called for far tougher controls on NSAIDs amid worrying trials delving into their true dangers.

Professor Gunnar Gislason, from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, last year called for them to be only available in pharmacies.

He led a study that found people who take ibuprofen have a 31 per cent increased risk of cardiac arrest, researchers found.


Taiwanese researchers calculated the exact risk of having a heart attack or stroke from taking several common painkillers.

The dangers of ibuprofen and four other popular tablets, taken by millions of adults across the world to dampen their discomfort, were assessed.

IBUPROFEN: 1 in 330 adults
CELECOXIB: 1 in 105 adults
MEFENAMIC ACID: 1 in 394 adults
DICLOFENAC: 1 in 245 adults
NAPROXEN: 1 in 214 adults

Ask Aunty S


Dear Aunty S

My boyfriend of a few months died a while ago and I cannot grieve for him in public because I was his secret girlfriend.

We only ever met up at my house once a week in the evenings  when my kids were asleep so nobody knows of our relationship, not my kids or my friends so I am sad and all alone. I want to tell everyone so they understand why I am so sad.

I know he would have left his wife.

My Counsellor has been cruel so I won’t be going back to her as she said he wouldn’t have left his wife for me and I should just move on.

I think I should tell his wife, what do you think?

Aunty S responds

Absolutely not.  

Keep right away from her and her family.

An occasional dalliance does not constitute a relationship so I am in full agreement with your Counsellor so please take her advice and return to her as you need assistance to regain control of your life.

Over and out.

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Bullying – Stan’s story

Last summer, a young man stayed with us for a few weeks whilst he recovered from the after-effects of being horrifically bullied.
He required somewhere safe away from his hometown, to try and work out how to rebuild his life after his previous one had been stripped from him.

The other day he asked me to mention his story on my blog in the hope that it helps someone who is going through a similar ordeal.
I will refer to him as ‘Stan’ from hereon to protect his identity.
This is his story, albeit very condensed.

Stan had worked for the same firm for over ten years, loved his job, had great workmates, loyal friends, owned his own home and was in a fledgling relationship with a young woman.
With one lie, his world came tumbling down.
At the beginning of this year, he had an appointment in the city,  an hour’s drive from his town, so he took a day off work to attend it.
On his way into the city, by sheer chance, he spied a workmate,  walking out of a house, in a loving embrace with a woman who wasn’t his wife.
The workmate looked up and saw Stan drive past.Stan didn’t give it a second thought and carried on driving.

But the next day at work Stan knew something was wrong when his workmates shunned him as soon as he walked in.
Shortly after, his boss called him into his office and asked him outright whether he was a Paedophile.
Stan thought he was joking and laughed.
His boss then shouted at him and told him how his workmate, the one cheating on his wife, had witnessed Stan with his arms wrapped around a young teenage boy in a compromising situation in the city the day before.
Stan was stunned and told him it was a lie and then tried to explain what had actually happened but his boss kept shutting him down, yelling at how disgusted he was with him and would fire him if he could, but his hands were tied because of his job contract.
It was a master stroke by the bully; isolating your victim is the first rule in the “bully handbook”, as once isolated, it is very hard to get the truth out there.

His friends were angry that Stan was being lied about  and  said they would stand up for him.  They didn’t follow through as they were terrified of the bully, as he had a name for himself as  being a nasty piece of work under the guise of a jocular man.
To make things even worse, Stan’s girlfriend walked out on him.

After two weeks of being ostracised at work, he knew he couldn’t go on so left the job that meant so much to him.
His parents took him to the Doctor, where he was put on anti-depressants and was advised to get away for a few weeks to calm his nerves.

When I picked him up from the airport, I found a traumatised young man, a man who had never suffered a day of depression in his life.

Quite simply, the bully had broken him, and furthermore he had been betrayed by everyone except his family.

Our home  is often referred to as a ‘retreat” as it is enveloped in a private garden so one has complete privacy which is exactly what Stan required to heal his mind and soul.

On Week Four of his stay, I asked him whether he would mind if I called his ex boss for a chat. 

He told me it would be a waste of time but “go for it”.

I was determined to sort this boss out once and for all.  

I doubted he would take my call but I was willing to give it a go so imagine my surprise when I found him receptive!

I cut to the chase and explained, ever so calmly,  the whole sordid situation in depth, exposing the bully’s affair and how Stan had witnessed the bully  in an intimate moment with this woman and how he used him and his workmates to help destroy Stan’s credibility should he decide to tell the bully’s wife as to what he saw.
As the conversation progressed his ex boss started putting it all together and then out of the blue, with a few expletives attached, he exclaimed how he had been gullible.  I agreed.
I then went on to tell him how I had used ‘Google Maps’ to locate the house where Stan had seen the bully. I gave him the location and to my utter amazement it was the address of a woman who once worked for him.
Stan hadn’t recognised her.

By then he was feeling more dreadful, so I told him that all bullies operate one way.
They recruit bystanders, folk who they believe they can manipulate, and then they feed them whatever they want them to believe knowing full well they will repeat it.
How sad is that, innocent folk being sucked into a bully’s world.

He offered Stan his job back and asked me to pass on his apologies to him, and made  it clear that the ‘bully’ would be shutdown from doing anymore harm in the workplace and he would talk to all the other workers and tell them the truth of what actually happened.
To his credit he was a man of his word.
Within hours, workmates and friends began ringing  Stan to apologise.
His ex girlfriend didn’t but that didn’t worry Stan as he saw a different side to her when she dumped him.

Stan stayed with us for another week and the day I took him to the airport I knew he would be okay as he was back to his old self; not that I actually knew his old self as I had only met him for the first time when I picked him up from the airport five weeks prior.
And by the way the bully walked out the minute his boss exposed him to the rest of his workmates. He knew his goose was cooked.


Stan’s story has a happy ending; trust me, not all end like this.

                                  Peace and love always

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Down Syndrome – A basic brief overview

My Take…Part One

After a recent episode on Shortland Street, a New Zealand TV programme, where some very negative views were expressed about Down Syndrome, my phone was red hot for weeks and emails kept filling my inbox, so I thought maybe it was time for me to write a very brief summary on Down Syndrome.  (For the record, I have never watched Shortland Street.)

Down Syndrome is not an illness or a disease.
Down Syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome.

There are varying degrees of intellectual disability associated with Down Syndrome; some mild, some severe.

Many people assume that Down Syndrome folk are all alike; this is not the case.
Each have their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses; the same as all other children.
Some have health issues, some mild, some severe; the same as all other children.
Some speak clearly, some will speak with difficulty and some are nonverbal with one or two word phrases, often spoken out of context but as long as their family or caregivers understand them, there is no issue.

Some have a limited ability to comprehend the world around them and require 24/7 care, however this doesn’t interfere with their love of life and there are some who can work/live in an assisted environment.

Many folk believe nonverbal Down Syndrome adults weren’t given opportunities to engage and learn language skills when they were young.  

This couldn’t be further from the truth and this misinformation has put many families under horrendous stress. 
Sadly there are many textbook cowboys who have and are still devastating folk with this misinformation.
Being at the coalface, and being involved with hundreds of families throughout the years has given me the licence to speak on this subject.   

Nonverbal communication includes gestures, facial expressions, and body language; I know this for a fact as my Down Syndrome daughter is nonverbal and we have absolutely no issues with understanding her needs.

I remember when she was a wee toddler, I allowed a Psychologist into my home. 
She came to assess her which was common practice in the late 1970’s.
I was about twenty-four, the same age as this woman.
Puffing herself up like a rooster, she informed me this was her first job after receiving her Degree.
I thought she wanted me to bow at her feet.
She proceeded to lay out some educational toys on the lounge floor & then fired instructions at my daughter as to what she wanted her to do.
She became annoyed as Belle didn’t understand what she meant, and for that matter nor did I!

This young expert was going by text book theories and was unaware that each child was different; she had lumped them all into one category.
When I saw my daughter become distressed, I reached over to her and this little upstart smacked my hand.
Yep….I picked up her bag of gizmos and told her to leave my house and not come back.  She huffed and puffed and left.
I wasn’t very assertive back in those days so I was rather proud of myself.
These days I often wonder how many lives she has ruined with her self righteous attitude.
And while on the subject of professionals.

Ensure you have a Doctor you can trust.
You know your child best so a good working relationship is needed.

If you disapprove of the way your Doctor treats you and your child, find a new Doctor, one who is kindhearted.
Even in our ‘modern enlightened world’ there are still some Doctors who aren’t very tolerant of our gorgeous kids.

Never allow yourself to be downtrodden, your Down Syndrome child/adult is depending on your strength of character.  

If you feel worn out, contact me and I will ring around and find a Doctor for you.  I don’t care if you live in the Northern Hemisphere; I will find the best care for you and your child as I have acted as a support person/advocate for many over the past forty years. Confidentiality guaranteed.

My younger children, who are now adults, love their big sister dearly and vice versa.   
Their patience, kindness, compassion and love for her brings tears to my eyes.
I know I have raised three fine human beings.
As for me my life has been greatly enriched by having Belle as my daughter.
We start and end every day with a kiss and a hug.
I am so grateful she came into my life.

Always remember, our Down Syndrome family members deserve to live in an environment where they are loved and feel safe and it is up to us to make sure this happens.
Furthermore there will always be some folk who strongly believe our Down Syndrome children have no right to life; this we have to accept but opportunities will present themselves from time to time where we can educate the ill-informed.

                                             Peace and love always.


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Ask Aunty S


Dear Aunty S

I recently found out my father isn’t my father and my mother refuses to tell me who my real father is so my father is helping me even though he is devastated that a friend of his was the one who told me when he was drunk at a recent Funeral we all attended. 
Apparently it is common knowledge that I am not my father’s biological child, with me being the only one who didn’t know.
My father showed me photos taken at the time I was conceived and I am a mirror image of one of his mates.
My mother has never admitted to my father that this man is my biological father but it is blatantly obvious.
My father has been the best father I could have wished for and he is happy to make contact with him is I can meet him but I really don’t want this as he is nothing to me.

He had an affair with my mother and then went overseas when she got pregnant.
All I actually want from this man is the family medical history.
I know where his mother lives and apparently she is a very nice woman so I am thinking of writing to him and getting his her to forward it.
If I visit her she will see the striking resemblance  so my father has offered to hand deliver it.
I checked him out on Facebook and I really didn’t like what I saw so this confirmed my decision not to meet him.
Am I approaching this in the right way?

Aunty S responds

What an amazing young man you are!
You have a well thought out plan but there is a Plan B that you may like to consider.
Your father could phone your biological grandmother and ask for his address under the guise of wanting to catch up with her son as he will be in part of the world in a month’s time.
If by some chance your biological father decides not to speak/correspond with you, I have a Plan B to find out his family medical history which I will reveal should you get back in contact.
I wish you all the luck in the world.

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