Hits radio host, celebrant and MC Will Johnston muses on his life in the Bay of Plenty.


You know what is slightly bizarre?

Hanging out on an active volcano.

We seem to do it a lot as humans: to get closer to nature we accept a little danger when given the opportunity.


And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

It's less dangerous than the car/bus ride to the wharf, the boat/chopper ride out there and the alcohol you consume afterwards to celebrate the fact that today you stood on an
active volcano.

Those things are all much more likely to be hazardous to your health.

We have this week been reminded that we live with Whakaari/White Island — an
extremely active volcano — just off the coast.

But no one expects the kind of horrific nightmare that's unfolded this week.

I, like most of us, have not had this far from my mind all week.

I've reported on it and talked to a myriad of people about it on air and just in my personal life.

I've seen the pain it's bringing to the Bay right now.


Yet I still cannot imagine the unbearable pain the relatives and friends of those killed
or injured, and the trauma emergency services must feel coming to terms with
what has happened out there.

I can't even let my mind go to what it would have actually been like being on that
volcano at that time.

Other than the true meaning and feeling behind the word "helpless".

Most of us have been super close to the earth's fiery vents.

I've been over the Tongariro Crossing a couple of times and snowboarding/sliding out of control like a lanky llama on a fibreglass banana skin down Mt Ruapehu more times than I remember.

I'm lucky enough to have gone to Hawaii too. That's all volcano. And also: Rotorua. Yeah.

We are surrounded.

Everyone seems to have a White Island story. I've never been.

Though I have a voucher in my drawer from my sister to go for a tour . . . Literally anyone who's been out there could have had happen to them what happened to those poor souls this week.

Seismic events like this make me feel like nature is a real bitch sometimes.

I felt the same about Christchurch earthquakes and Pike River.

Like it draws us in with some amazing sights and beauty and prosperous opportunities to explore and create and advance, then it just cuts us down with no warning or remorse.

What I'm saying is that, living where we do, that kind of event could happen at any
time to any one of us.

The earth is volatile where we are in the world.

This week has been one that will make me change the reckless abandon that I've
approached hazardous wonders of this beautiful planet we live on.

But it won't change my love for the Bay, even with the unpredictable nature of
everything from volcanic activity, earthquakes, tsunami risks and crazy weather events we seem to have more frequently.

Take a second this week to mourn the lives of people who were getting close to something special.

It cost them their lives. And it's given me the perspective I didn't know I needed about the place I live.

Will Johnston is the local 9am-3pm host for The Hits Bay of Plenty 95FM. He's also a celebrant and MC. Follow Will on Instagram on @radiowill.