Author(s): Helen McNeil
Leo Harris, union president at the mill in a one-industry town in the rural heartland, has a problem. So long as I live and breathe, he says. `I'll stand up to power. But the mill's CEO insists This was a showdown waiting to happen. 'It's 1986 and the entire town and its people are caught in the stalemate between the two. With their livelihoods, their families, their identities under siege, everyone must choose where their loyalties ultimately lie. It's not just about work; marriages, family relationships, whakapapa are in jeopardy and long held secrets burst to the surface. Sisters become estranged; union executives are attacked; an ill-fated love affair is revealed. This story of deeply-held conflicts brings alive a time in New Zealand history when the very foundations of our political identity changed dramatically. Truth becomes negotiable and outcomes unpredictable. Only one thing is certain, no one will survive unchanged.
Twenty five years as a psychologist has given Helen McNeil's writing both insight and compassion. She writes about ordinary people dealing with the deep question she struggles with herself: Where is home? What does family mean? Are my beliefs worth the pain? Who am I? Helen grew up in Kawerau where the pulp and paper mill dominated the life of the town and union struggles were always present. She has continued her interest in the power of the collective and currently lives in Earthsong Eco-neighbourhood (Auckland, New Zealand) alongside chickens, organic gardens, lots of compost and constant negotiation.