New Zealand's ever-reliable celebrities have been keeping their names in the limelight. Take Alan John 'A J' Hackett, the intrepid entrepreneur who popularised bungee jumping. His penchant for plummeting to the earth from great heights, relying on a thin elastic strip, has certainly seen him dicing with death on more than one occasion. The Kiwi who famously launched himself from the Eiffel Tower in 1987 recently had a more mundane but equally terrifying mishap. Driving with his wife, Amanda, and three stepchildren to their Hawke's Bay home, he was faced with oncoming headlights as just ahead a car wrecklessly overtook a truck. With seconds to react, Hackett managed to steer his Toyota Caldina station-wagon away from a head-on collision, flipping the vehicle in the process. Fortunately his family all managed to scramble safely away while A J, proud survivor of numerous death-defying jumps, escaped with broken ankles.
Bubbly TV personality Aroha Hathway, used to grilling interviewees on camera, has courageously revealed her own innermost secrets. Facing her own demons, she has revealed her diagnosis with bipolar disorder (manic depression), the fact she was subjected to cruel taunts as an obese teenager, and her experience of childhood sexual abuse. Asked about her mental condition recently, she stated: “There are many issues I can talk about. I've always been vocal about mental illness because it's a silent killer. It goes unnoticed and if people don't get help, it can be very dangerous”.
New Zealand's Got Talent semi-finalist Natasha Alexandra may have been temporarily unhappy with mixed reviews of her performance last week, but she is used to adversity. Her self-penned song Last Monday, which has taken the 17-year-old all the way to the contest's penultimate hurdle, is actually about the relentless bullying she suffered at school.
The Aucklander was targeted by a group of girls, then subjected to verbal and finally physical abuse. She retreated into songwriting. Facing the problem head-on, and using her lyrics to confront the idiots who made her life a misery, has been cathartic. Her father restricted her access to social media – so often the tool of choice for anonymous cowards. Instead of agonising over Facebook posts Natasha would head for Karekare Beach in Waitakere, guitar in tow, and find the inspiration to compose her fantastic tunes.
Despite her recent performance being criticized by judge Cris Judd for being 'too pitchy', she has vowed to continue channeling her proud spirit into her music. As Natasha said: “It was a horrible experience, but I'm kind of glad it happened because I wrote some really good songs during that time. Music was my emotional outlet and I don't really know what I would have done without it”.