Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

A happy trip down memory lane

Singer Ladi6 is one of 54 New Zealanders who recall their happy times and places in the book, which raises money for KidsCan.
Singer Ladi6 is one of 54 New Zealanders who recall their happy times and places in the book, which raises money for KidsCan.

Some of the country's best-known celebrities, artists, poets and musicians have shared their favourite places and fondest memories in a new book.

My Happy Place features words from 54 Kiwis and includes entries from actor Sam Neill, authors Joy Cowley and Maurice Gee, musos Boh Runga and Ladi6 and artist Dick Frizzell.

Money raised from the sale of the book will go to children's charity KidsCan.

The book was the idea of Wellington woman Melissa Mebus, who has been working on it for just over a year.

"I just thought about putting together something that would make people happy.

"And then I thought about doing it for KidsCan.

"It's also a book that you can go back to on those days when you might be feeling down."

Most of the entries speak of childhood memories, first-times and dreams.

Frizzell's happiest memory is as a 10-year-old on a sunny Christmas Day in Hastings.

"I'd got a little canvas pup tent with galloping cowboys and Indians printed on both sides ... I crawled inside with a box of chocolates and a brand-new Beano annual and lay down ... eating chocolates."

Boh Runga talks about the tree at Kairaki Beach in Kaiapoi, north of Christchurch, that she and her sisters would often play under.

"It was a massive pine tree, with its great branches arched and bowing down to the ground, spreading out 360 degrees ... It was a secretive place for us to dream under."

Sam Neill's page is devoted to encouraging youngsters to never give up. Ever.

Each entry is accompanied by schoolchildren's illustrations.

For more information, visit

Fond memories

Maurice Gee "My brothers and I ran home on the stony road and burst into the kitchen - and there was our mother, stirring the stewpot at the wood range ..."

Joy Cowley "I didn't want to read aloud at school. I couldn't put my hand up to volunteer for a team ... change came one day when a kind teacher talked to me."

Boh Runga "A living, breathing treehouse. We used to sit in the dry pine needles and it felt safe and hidden and all ours."

Ladi6 "The road leads me to a big, rusty, dark red iron gate in the middle of the valley. I walk through the gate to find a meadow. The grass is lush and green ... "

- NZ Herald

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