A 90-year-old Dargaville man says he is well chuffed to have his short story published in a book celebrating human kindness.
John O'Neill had his story entitled SOS published in Timeless Wisdom, a four-part book series of true stories that reveal the depths of human experience as well as celebrating international writers over the age of 60.
He says this is the first time he has had a story published in many many years and is "very well pleased about it".
The story is about a 19-year-old Irishman who went to work as a telegraph operator who communicated by way of morse code with hundreds of fishing boats that floated upon the frigid cold seas between Scotland and the Arctic in the year of 1947, when one night shift a SOS distress call is received.
O'Neill, who grew up in Ireland before immigrating to New Zealand with his family as an adult, admits his story is actually autobiographical.
"I knew personally one of the characters in the story and he is not changed in any way, he was the old man who is the boss of the station essentially.
"The younger man, the apprentice in the story, is me, but dressed up a little bit.
"My first job was in radio telegraphy on ships, wireless operator was the common name back then.
"And I ended up working in this radio station that this story is written about. The SOS story is reminiscence if you like, partly my experience and partly a story I was told that occurred."
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His story goes on to portray the comradeship between the two telegraph operators, one at the beginning of his career and the other at his end.
It covers what occurs when the SOS call is received and how the two work together to handle the situation. Themes covered include new beginnings, loss and humility.
O'Neil says that when he first started work using morse code he thought it would be around forever.
"Of course looking back on it now, I took up this morse code calligraphy course, as a way to get earning quickly as it was a six-month course, but I never even dreamed that this was the end of that world, that morse calligraphy would be extinct within a few years."
He compares morse code to handwriting.
"There is no such thing as a standard morse code. It is very personal and in this story the boss immediately recognises and knows the man aboard the fishing boat that issues the SOS signal, which makes the situation all the more personal."
In having his work published O'Neill beat out hundreds of other worthy entries for a spot.
Project organiser and author Renée Hollis says it was quite a big job putting four books together at the same time.
"It came about thinking about older voices wanting to be heard. So I put this international competition together and I had over 300 entries from all over the world, from Australia to Canada, to South Africa and Europe."
Hollis says the process of selecting just 100 from all of the entries received took some time.
"So I sat down with another editor and we went through them all, but some of them, if they were similar, we chose which one we liked the best."
Hollis says she is interested to see which book out of the four will end up being the most popular.
"So far, Human kindness seems to be more popular than Fear and Courage, maybe it's a sign of the times and people are just wanting to read more uplifting stories.
"For many it's the first time ever having their work published, so it's quite exciting for them."
Human Kindness is out now alongside another called Fear and Courage. Love and Loss, Struggle and Success will be out in March 2020 and available at leading book stores.
Books can be purchased online from: exislepublishing.com
Farmers to protest again
Farmers will ride tractors through the main street of Dargaville next week.
Ruawai dairy farmer Mark Cameron says farmers will be riding on tractors through the main street of town on Thursday demanding a longer consultation period on the Government's proposals in the zero carbon and freshwater bills.
"There could be as many as a thousand people at the protests. There will be a lot more people coming to this protest, which is a continuation of the Ruawai protest which was held recently, as far as we can attest."
Cameron says they will be demanding the Government give them more open and honest dialogue about the costs to farmers if the bills are passed through legislation.
"And we want to know what the flow-on effect to the consumer will be; we think the consumer deserves to know this information too."
Cameron fears the bill will cost farmers hugely and will make farming in New Zealand commercially unviable.
However Environment Minister David Parker reportedly told TVNZ he disagrees and says they have already extended the consultation period from six weeks to eight.
"We've got these meetings throughout the country," he said. "I don't agree that there's not been enough talk. There's been lots of it."
Cameron says that's not good enough.
"This is nothing more than vote pandering, this is deflection, eight weeks cannot quantifiably cover everything."
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