1st Place – Raymond Kemp
2nd Place – Anna
3rd Place – Barry Phease

Thank you to Maria Morunga and Hazel Bidmead who are other awesome contestants 

The room was packed with 30 different faces, some familiar, some unfamiliar, all Toastmasters,  for first of four Area contest. This one, the Table Topics contest was kindly hosted by 5 Crowns Toastmaster club.

Hugh Hill, was the contest chair, his strong stentorious voice made the rules clear to all. Then all but the first contestant was asked to leave the room, with Bee Rei the Master at Arms. Then he announced that question. That question which we as Toastmasters love and hate at the same time, a question we are not ready for, a question that even after years of Toastmastering we should jump to answer but most sigh with relief that it is the contestants answering, that question, a Table Topics question, which this time was:


For Maria Morunga (TPK Toastmaster) the first contestant she could have quipped that Happiness is answering Table Topics questions but that was not what she said at all, just me capturing the confidence and competence of her answer.

For she answered by intriguing us with an unexpected answer of digging and mud. She answered to the mud first, on her mountain bike where it splatters all over her up and down the hills. Then she answered to the digging, digging into the mud in her garden.


Hazel Bidmead (Terrace@12 Toastmaster) was second up, with her chance to extoll what happiness is. She told us that is was “outside on a day like today” with the sun and the breeze in Wellington. She loves to go out an soak up the honey sun and ended by recommending “all make use of being outside in the shining sun with nature”. Good advice for the sun does sojourn for long in Wellington.


“Happiness is an elusive concept” is how Barry Phease (Fearbusters Toastmaster) the third contestant started. He then explored the state of happiness for the imperian hight of delirium all the way down to sadness even depression. Philosophising that “happiness is our own reaction” to events and so is sadness. He mentioned “There are things in the world I’m not happy with” but did not expand, although I think the audience had plenty of examples jumping into their minds. He ended with the observation “Happy is what we want to be, but not where we all ways are”.


Forth up, Raymond Kemp (5 Crowns Toastmaster) found happiness in three areas; family, health, and motivation. With his Family, it was our happiness too when we laughed at his tale of his young daughter spend of $160 on virtual dresses and Raymond kept her happiness going by complementing the beautiful dress, whilst we knew he also was wincing at the hole in his pocket!

Being happy without being healthy is hard and like Maria, biking is a big happiness for Raymond, especially on the way up hills when he gets flooded with endorphins, and on the way down when he does not break a bone. Motivation and happiness in challenges, “don’t give up, carry on” be it Toastmaster, or the gym.


Fith was Anna (MBIE), who said “Happiness is hard for me”, she expanded further that she was “cursed with chemicals that keeps me from being chipper”.

To keep centred around happiness she has her Policy Advisor job, a wrist ruining hobby of Crochet, and a desire to explore. Anna ended drawing empathy from the audience by finish with “happiness is difficult because of the brain given to me”.