There are only two occasions for which I usually get all pensive and reflective.

The first is usually somewhere over the Pacific on a long-haul flight. There's nothing like a bit of altitude and a Kirsten Dunst rom-com to get all emotional and introspective.

The other occasion is the Christmas break. On a spiritual level I'm agnostic as anything, but I figure nothing washes down new potatoes and fruit mince pies like a few lashings of atonement.

I get stuff wrong. Most opinion writers and pundits do. The glory of working in a fast-moving medium is that usually people forget in a few days and you're rarely held to account for your errors.

Advertisement

Earlier this week, I got something wrong on Twitter. It was a stupid tweet, cheap and shallow, and it doesn't need republishing.

But having been humbled into apologising and correcting my error in that medium, I've gone back and considered my previous 280-odd columns, so I can do the same here.

This time in 2012, I wrote for the Herald on Sunday from Sandy Hook, Connecticut. I'd been reporting on the school massacre for ONE News, and President Obama had just visited town.

I'd only been living in the US for a year at that stage, but I was sure the shooting would prove to be a tipping point for gun laws. I said as much in this column.

How, I reasoned, could twenty 5-and-6-year-old children, each shot in the face, fail to spark common sense gun law reform?

I was wrong. Nothing changed. And having covered more than my share of mass shootings since, I look back at my optimism for the Sandy Hook families with a sense of profound cynicism.

I was wrong too, about MH370. I wrote a stupid column a few years back, a really dumb piece, ridiculing the global fascination with the missing Malaysian jet. I made an absurd and bold prediction that the wreckage would quickly be found.

I was wrong. Advice to aspiring pundits: politics and sports are one thing, but it pays not to speculate with something as sensitive as human lives.

Advertisement

I was wrong about Donald Trump when he first announced he was running.

I thought he wouldn't last as a candidate. But as he gained momentum I travelled around the US to cover his campaign, and it became increasingly obvious that he'd tapped into an extraordinary movement.

I still think Trump is a racist, sexist, unqualified oaf. I think his election betrays the very best qualities of his country and its people. I hope he loses the Senate next year.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Specifically in this space, I regret a few other things.

A column I wrote on stop-and-frisk, the police search laws that grossly discriminated against coloured people, failed to articulate the damage of that racial discrimination in New York.

On another occasion a few years back, I wrote a column that criticised the homophobic policy of World Vision's American arm. World Vision New Zealand shared in my condemnation of their colleagues' policy and no doubt does excellent work, but I probably singled out and blamed the New Zealanders more than they deserved.

As a pundit and columnist, there's probably one other decent occasion for reflection and atonement, outside of long-haul flights and the Christmas break.

This concludes my sixth year writing for the Herald on Sunday. It's also my last.

One of my resolutions for 2018 is to do something about managing my workload. It's a good time for another voice.

My deep thanks and gratitude to the staff at the Herald on Sunday, and to those of you who've challenged and encouraged me over the years. Ngā mihi.