The evening of Thursday 26th November marked not only the Wellington launch of John Wareham’s new book, Exposed, but also his return to New Zealand after 45 years abroad. John and his family spent most of those years in New York, and Unity Wellington was happy to be the venue for this homecoming and celebration. In Exposed, John has written a memoir of his time boarding at Palmerston North Boys’ High School, ‘where sexual abuse was an open secret and sadistic masters ran rife.’
Ian Watt, friend and former chief of HarperCollins New Zealand, kicked off the speeches by talking about his involvement with this ‘unusual memoir’. He was followed by Eugene Ryder, Black Power spokesman and community youth advocate, who spoke about the impact that John’s teaching has had on him.
John began his speech by reminiscing about his youth in Wellington as a self-described ‘juvenile delinquent’ (including bowling club vandalism and an overnight stay in the police barracks.) Skirting over his Palmerston North days, he then spoke about his move overseas, first to Australia and then to New York, where he lectured on leadership psychology and public speaking to everyone from top businessmen to prison inmates. ‘I’ve spent my life helping others to make sense of their lives’, he said, inferring that the writing of Exposed has done something towards smoothing out the wrinkles in his own past.
Finally, we reached the catalyst for the book itself. John received an email one day inviting him to speak to a group of Palmerston North Boys’ High School students who were to visit New York. As John describes, ‘I can’t possibly do this’, turned into ‘Maybe I should do this.’ He did not go into exactly what was revealed to the unsuspecting students, but we do know that this visit is what prompted the trek into his past that became Exposed.
Speeches were followed by a flurry of book signing and more wine drinking as John caught up with old friends and acquaintances.
Exposed (Welcome Rain Press) is $30 and available in store now or from our online shop.
Words by Cassie Richards, photos by Laura Munro.
Note: A video of the book launch is viewable below: