Like the weather, this last week has been a bit gloomy with the whole of the long white cloud seemingly covered in a long dark cloud of whakama (shame) and pouri (sadness) because of what happened to Grace Millane.

Just when we could come up for a breath of goodwill and good cheer the country is plunged into pouri, all of us asking how and why something so tragic could happen to someone so full of life and love.

For many of us it's not about what she could have done or what other girls and women could do to make their inner and outer circle of life safer, it's about how and why it could happen in the first place.

There is no short-term quick fix answer for violence of any sort. What we do know is all violence comes from anger and anger is born of fear from not being able to understand situations so there is an urgent need to teach men and males in general how to deal with their inability to understand where anger and violence comes from so it can be stopped.


Somehow, we have to get past blame and shame and get to a two-way conversation where we talk about why men commit 95 per cent of the acts of all violence against females.

If there is anything good that can come of the alleged murder of Grace Millane then perhaps this is the conversation kickstarter that starts making sense of it all?

After the headlines hit I kept asking myself what can we do as fellow human beings trying to walk through life with as much joy and the least amount of sadness as possible?

As always, I went walking to try and find the answer.

I went looking for my favourite jumper lead that can take me from sadness to gladness in a single heart beat – the flowering pohutukawa tree.

If ever there is a sight to soothe the soul on a grey day it must be the crimson cathedral of blossoming pohutukawa trees around the northern skirt of Mauao. Sometimes early and sometimes late in December. God shows off with a korowai of colour that no artist could ever paint and when you get the timing right as you will all this week you get a front row seat.

Usually the visual treat does the trick and my mojo returns back to somewhere near normal, only this time I couldn't get past what it would be like walking in the shoes of the father of Grace Millane, who will have to carry his little girl home to a mother and family. A family who would have cried rivers of tears for their daughter and sister, as would the community of Essex where she comes from.

So, I reset the sadness clock and started to play the Joy Chip game.


Oh no there he goes back to being a cosmic cowboy again, what on earth is the Joy Chip game you may well ask?

For a long while now we have played a game called The Joy Chip and the name of the game is to go out and make as many people smile as possible. No rules other than a conscious effort to be nice to anyone and everyone. A direct hit is determined by the incoming smile and each one you get a great big grin from registers as a credit on to your Joy Chip.

From there it is taken upstairs to the eternal hard drive in heaven or nirvana - just like a try or no try in rugby - and he or she who has the most credits at the end of the day, wins.

Simple huh?

If the pohutukawa tree could play our Joy Chip game I reckon it would win hands down every day.

But not today.

Today I found a new contender for the annual Christmas Joy Chip award, a coveted trophy almost exclusively won by Mauao and his pohutukawa princesses.

For some unexplained reason I chose to look left at exactly the right time as I drove down Marine Parade - just past Mount Drury, and the picture postcard of little drummer boys hit me in the face, like a legion of smiling snowballs looking for a joy chip to belong to.

Who would do such a random act of kindness was my first reaction? Quickly I backed up and stood in front of this fairyland front lawn, like a little kid looking at the family Christmas tree, as the lights are switched on for the first time.

Whoever you are I would like to award you with the supreme winner of the Joy Chip award and thank you for helping me focus on the things that matter.

May all who go looking for a little slice of happiness on a grey December day find your front lawn on Marine Parade.