Stuff that matters


The Kardashians don’t matter much, unless you’re a Kardashian, that is. Or one of their 400 million close, personal friends. The result of sports games don’t matter much, unless you were involved in the said games. 90%* of the stuff we do, especially around social media – doesn’t matter at all.

Last night, I was asked to speak/sing at the One Percent Collective’s Generosity Sessions, in support of the Neonatal Trust. For those who have no clue what that is, think babies born too soon, babies born sick, think incubators, unthinkably tiny hands and feet, think ridiculous sadness and hope and love all rolled onto one. This area of medicine, like so many, is under-funded and under-resourced, so they rely on the goodness of others to help. So when I was asked to help, I agreed immediately.

First to speak was Dr. Max Berry who is Consultant Neonatologist based in Wellington. The stuff she does matters. She took those gathered on a stormy, hideous night, through the struggles and triumphs of working in a world where so much is yet to be understood. It would appear they operate on the best knowledge that they can get their hands on, passion, commitment and the sniff of a (barely) oily rag. That this exceptional woman spends much of her time raising funds, as opposed to being exceptional – makes no sense whatsoever.

Then there was Emily Writes. Mother/Blogger/Author/Bogan. She tells a story like no one I’ve ever had the privilege to listen to. She was funny, touching, dark, realistic and refreshingly honest as she told us of the struggle she and her husband (Hot-Hataitai Gardener-Guy) had bringing their son Eddie into the world. There were few dry eyes in the room. Her work matters a lot, and I now know why 35,000 people follow her. Make that 35,001.

How the hell do I follow that? My speech went out the window.  What could I add to it?The reason I was invited was because in 2012, I wrote and performed a song called “What you don’t know” at the Neonatal Trust’s provocative production “Project Born.” It was written from the perspective of a father who visits his premature babies at the hospital morning and night and goes home to an empty flat to eat his cold baked beans out of a tin. What made this particular song special to me is that my daughter Lily, aged 12 at the time sang backing vocals on the session, and at the beginning of it, the sound effects are those of my wife Sam’s sonograph when she was carrying George (who will tell you that he is now “5 years and 10 monfs”). Most recently, as part of Points for Purpose, we have decided to support the Neonatal Trust, so I dusted off “What you don’t know” and – with a voice chilled by nerves, the southerly blast and the strain of holding emotions at bay – I gave it my best. It was croaky, emotionally charged, but honest.


I followed it up with Innocent & Wise, and I’ve never, ever been so proud of a song. I knew as I wrote this song that it was good, but I never knew just how much I would enjoy performing it. In that setting, talking about generosity and about stuff that matters so much to so many, Innocent & Wise was a story of hope, honesty, respect and resilience – much like the journeys neonatal families face. I sat IN that song. I didn’t over-sing it. I didn’t need to try, – I just told the story the way it was supposed to be told, just like the speakers before me had told theirs.

Last night mattered, and I made a mental note on my drive home with the assistance of an urgent southerly wind – to matter more. Thanks to Pat from the One Percent Collective, to Neil and Justine from the Neonatal Trust, to Max and Emily.

Emily Writes            

Max Berry                 

Neonatal Trust         

One percent Collective


*This figure has been arrived at through the exacting powers of the author’s hunch, and should therefore not be quoted under any circumstances.




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