Now the Yanks are making sheep jokes about us


Every now and then someone suggests New Zealand should be renamed. But Sheepbangabanga?

That’s the name on this advertisement which Whaleoil uncovered.

Someone should tell those Americans the growth in the human population and decrease in sheep numbers means we’ve gone from more than 20 sheep per person to fewer than 10; and in spite of all the jokes Kiwis and sheep never have been more than just good friends.

Update: I should have realised this – it’s not the Americans making sheep jokes, it’s the Aussies. The ad is for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

People behind the numbers


The loss of 145 jobs from Dunedin’s Cadbury  factory is a blow to the city even though the company will be investing up to $51m in the plant in the next couple of years.

That’s a lot of jobs to go in a city, especially when it follows other losses announced earlier in the year; and behind the numbers are the people – the workers who will lose their jobs and their families.

Some older workers might welcome redundancy payments which will provide a boost to retirement savings. Others might find it’s an opportunity to do something different and better.

But at least some of them will be devastated at the loss of their jobs. They’ll be worried about paying the mortgage and other debts, supporting themselves and their families and wondering where they’ll get another job.

Tumeke blog rankings


Tim Selwyn has published the July rankings for the New Zealand bologsphere on Tumeke!

Kiwkblog and Public Address retain first and second places respectively.

The Standard and Whaleoil swap places at third and fourth.

Frogblog, Not PC and No Minister are steady at numbers five, six and seven and The Hive is up one place to eight.

No Right Turn is down one to nine. Tumeke!, Poneke, Inquiring Mind and Cactus Kate retain their places from 10 to 13.

Keeping Stock is impressively up 11 at 14; New Zealand Conservative has jumped seven to 15 and Homepaddock has moved up five to 16.

The Visible Hand in Economics is down one to 17, Liberty Scott is steady at 18, the Dim Post moves up 13 to 19; and The Hand Mirror is down six to 20.

Links to all these sites are on my blogroll.

Tim comments:

Apart from the bronze, the top dozen are rather static. The big movers seem to be the more right wing blogs that have picked up their traffic count and content output – the latter driving the former most likely: Keeping Stock, NZ Conservative and Home Paddock helping to displace left Labour blogs of Jordan Carter and Tony Milne.

The ranking is based on Alexa rank for traffic plus the number of posts, comments and links.

Thanks, Tim for the time and effort you put it working it all out and thanks to all of you who visit, link and comment and thereby contribute to Homepaddock’s improved place.

Christ’s life to be filmed on Benmore


The battle scene in Chronicles of Narnia took place at Elephant Rocks, near Duntroon. Now a Sea of Galilee fishing village will be built further up the Waitaki Valley on the shores of Lake Benmore for a film about the life of Jesus Christ.

Filming of the independent film Kingdom Come, which will employ up to 400 people, is scheduled to begin about the middle of February. Construction of the set is expected to start shortly at the Falstone camping reserve on the lake’s Haldon Arm.

The Falstone area and Lake Benmore were chosen by Wellington-based film company, South Vineyard Ltd, after an extensive search throughout New Zealand for a lake environment that best depicted a location on the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

The Narnia filming brought a lot of money in to North Otago.

The propsect of accommodating, feeding and providing other services to 400 people for a couple of months will be welcomed by local businesses. If the Narnia experience can be relied on, there will be a further boost from increased tourism once the film is released.

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition


Winston gets sillier by the day.

Several blogs have mentioned his speech to a Grey Power meeting in which he compared the priviliges committee hearing to the Spanish Inquisition.

My pick of the posts is from  Keeping Stock  who found a clip on You Tube which puts the comment into context.

A poem to have flu by


Robert Frost said, “A poem begins with a lump in the throat.”

The flu which is cutting a swathe through schools, work places and homes also starts in the throat. It graduates from there to the rest of the body until even the bits without nerves are suffering.  

Our household has stayed flu-free (touch wood) but several friends have been afflicted. So too has Opposable Thumb   who found this from Romanian poet Marin Sorescu:


When you are ill you weigh more.
Your head sinks into the pillow,
Your bed curves in the middle,
Your body drops like a meteorite.
“He’s so heavy,” say the relatives,
They turn you on the other side
And nod meaningfully. “He weighs like the dead.”

The earth feels its prey
And concentrates upon you
Its colossal force of attraction.
The iron in you hungers to go down.
The gold in you hungers to go down.
The gravitation of the whole world has its eyes on you
And pulls you down with unseen ropes…

You look like the bell the peasants
Take down before their exodus, burying it very deep,
Marvelling at the sight of the bell digging its grave,
Eagerly biting the dust.

You are all lead
And unto yourself
You have become exceedingly all-important,
Surrounded by endless mystery.

ST editorials now come with smiles


I don’t know if the Southland Times has had a change of staff or a change of style, but I’m enjoying their tongue in cheek editorials.

Today’s offering comfort because Queenstown didn’t make it on to the new Monopoly board left me with a grin.

Gdansk got in, you’ll notice. Good on good old Gdansk. Magnificent old Polish shipyard town that it is.

Kudos to Kiev as well, and send our regards to Riga. Because at times such as this Queenstown types now have a chance to show their most generous disposition.

If anything, first and foremost in our thoughts and prayers should be Aucklanders, whose city dipped out, too. And when the New Zealand landmark version came out last year, neither the Sky Tower nor Viaduct Harbour got a look in. At least the Queenstown skifields, along with Milford Sound, made it on to that one.

Let’s remind ourselves that this latest spasm of promotional rivalry, both national and global, was for the most part civil enough. Feel free to emit a small sigh of relief. That was never a given.

Wars have started over less.

And days have gone better because they start with a smile.

Glenn giving evidence


Owen Glenn has provided written evidence  about his donations to New Zealand First (or was it Winston Peters, or his lawyer?) for the Serious Fraud Office and the privileges committee.

In his statement, Mr Glenn appeared to confirm that his donation to Mr Peters was to “assist with his legal expenses” – a critical issue, in light of an e-mail that surfaced recently in which he appeared to believe it was a donation to the NZ First Party. Such a donation was never declared to electoral authorities by NZ First.

Mr Peters and his lawyer, Brian Henry, say the Glenn donation was paid directly into Mr Henry’s fees account to cover Mr Henry’s fees in the NZ First Tauranga electoral petition.

If he appears, Opposition MPs are also likely to grill Mr Glenn over who put him in touch with Mr Henry, after Mr Henry refused to name the middleman, citing client confidentiality.

This is beginning to resemble the plot of a soap opera, but that shouldn’t divert us from the importance of the issues. It’s not just about Peters and his party. It’s also about our reputation for open democracy and the lack of hidden influences and corruption which ironically are the things on which Peters has built his career.

Dodgy practice behind circumlocution


The Southland Times  might have its tongue in its cheek but it makes some very good points:

The length and breadth of the country, lawyers must be explaining to their stony clients why they don’t have the same relationship Winston Peters has with his “blood brother” Brian Henry, QC, writes The Southland Time in an editorial.

 Your lawyer does work for you — valuable, detailed, normally expensive work — and then casts around for donors to recompense him for it. Should it happen that he finds none, or not enough, then it’s his loss and he regards his time as donated.

In either case, no bill is presented to his client, so it’s not his debt.

Outstanding. Mateship at its finest. And it works particularly well when there isn’t any impertinent suggestion of the public having any legitimate interest in this.

Mr Peters’ relationship with Mr Henry was presented to Parliament’s privileges committee as one that removes the NZ First leader from expectations of accountability.

He has been hauled before it to answer allegations that he broke the rules that require MPs to disclose debts and gifts. The explanation goes that he didn’t ask about, wasn’t told about, and therefore could hardly expected to know about, let alone declare, the likes of the $100,000 that expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn seems to think he donated to NZ First.

And if Mr Glenn is confused on that point, well then whomsoever’s problem that is, it shouldn’t be Mr Peters. Apparently.

Even if it transpires he’s off the hook legally, Mr Peters is unlikely to be able to keep enjoying this state of blissful ignorance — a political nirvana if ever there was.

Behind the circumlocution, New Zealanders will have little difficulty recognising a dodgy practice.

At very least, this matey relationship inappropriately removed Mr Peters from a loop that, for accountability’s sake, he should have been in.

Mr Peters’ defence is akin to a child insisting he hadn’t heard what his parents said, but only because he’d stuck his fingers in his ears and gone “la-la-la-la-la!” to avoid hearing it.

He didn’t know anything about any donations? Okay, but he surely knew about there being some sort of system in place to explain the fact that he never had a bill.

Not even Mr Peters’ fiercest foes would deny his intelligence.

And you don’t need much of that to know that when you’re engaged in serious legal action, serious bills are mounting up somewhere. If these aren’t coming anywhere near you, then a degree of curiosity about what happens to them is not just appropriate, it’s politically necessary.


For his part, Mr Henry has clearly long been determined that Mr Peters’ foes, who are legion, are not going to squash him for want of a legal defence. Not only has Mr Peters not received any bill for work done by Mr Henry since 1991, but the lawyer stumped up himself for the $40,000 costs ordered against Mr Peters by the court in the failed Tauranga election petition.


 Peters now says he’s in the clear  because he paid the money back. I’d want to see the paper trail before I’d accept that and even it if does prove he’s right there are a lot more questions yet to be answered.

Rich: feminism not an F word


I started the previous post by saying the headline was guaranteed to get media attention, so too was this one.

The slogan “Girls can do anything” needed to be reprised for a younger generation because the battle for equal rights was not over, National List MP Katherine Rich said yesterday.

Invited to speak by the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women Otago branch, Mrs Rich chose the topic “Feminism is not an F Word” before addressing the more than 70 people at the Hutton Theatre, at Otago Museum.

… The provocative title was chosen because young women often told her the battle for equal rights had been won, and the word feminism, to them, conjured up images of “hairy armpits” and “burning bras”.

Feminism should be seen neither as a dirty word, nor as a relic of some forgotten past, Mrs Rich said. She was proud to be called a feminist and “people say they are really surprised by that”.

Bringing back the “Girls can do anything” campaign was one way to encourage girls to realise their ambitions, as the world was a different place once they left school. There was “still huge progress to be made”, particularly around pay disparity, she said.

A survey carried out by Mrs Rich on policy analysts in various ministries revealed men were paid between $2000 and $28,000 more than women even when working in more senior roles.

Policy analysis is policy analysis, if people have similar qualifications and experience, are working the same hours in the same sort of job gender shouldn’t come in to it. Are women not as good at negotiating as men? What role does the Public Services Association play here? Was she comparing apples with apples, or did women have broken work histories because of taking away from the work force to have children? If not we have a problem.

 While great progress had been made in recent years, representation of women in the workforce and pay equality were still issues worth fighting for, she said.

“There is no silver-bullet solution.”

In February, Mrs Rich announced she was stepping down from Parliament to concentrate on her family and a new career direction.

“I have had a good nine years,” she said. “I leave pretty positive about the whole democratic process.

“Politics isn’t a job. It is a life, all day and every day . . . and the public don’t deserve anything less.”

Mrs Rich said she was inspired to enter politics after hearing former National Party MP Marilyn Waring speak at St Hilda’s Collegiate School.

“I was just 13 years old and I have never forgotten her speech”.

Ms Waring was one of the first people she contacted after being demoted by former National Party leader, Don Brash.

“I rang her up and said we may have some things in common.”

One highlight during her three terms in Parliament was watching the first female speaker of the House, Margaret Wilson, be received by former Governor-General, Dame Silvia Cartwright and Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Not since she attended the Outram Brownies in 1975 had she witnessed three females in charge, she said.

“When my daughter grows up I hope she gets to see something like this again.”

In February Poneke asked, as New Zealand’s golden decade of female leadership  comes to an end, what will be the role models for our daughters? HIs 15 year-old daughter posted a response which resulted in a new post, daughter finds the “girls can do anything” refrain demeaning.

Role models are personal, and when I looked at the women in the three positions Katherine mentioned, and added Chief Justice Dame Sian Ellias and Teresa Gattung, who was then CEO of Telecom our biggest company, I noticed none had children.

I respect what they have achieved, their right to not have children and that their accomplishments may motivate others to follow them but they weren’t role models for me. I like, respect and admire Katherine far more not just for what she has been doing as an MP and how she did it, but also for making the very, very tough call to resign for the sake of her family.

[Correction – Poneke and Colin Lucas have pointed out I was wrong – Sian Ellias does have children].

No way without a willy


The headline DCC councillors ‘need a willy to progress’ – Butcher  was guaranteed to get media attention, but is she right?

“You have to have a willy to get anywhere in this council.”

That was Dunedin city councillor Fliss Butcher’s reaction this week after she was overlooked for the role of council appointee on the advisory board of the University of Otago’s centre for entrepreneurship council.

She says sexism is behind the decision – a claim hotly denied last night by Mayor Peter Chin.

I don’t know enough about this particular case or the DCC in general to know if her claim of sexism is fair.

But if it is there are better ways to go about countering it than having a public tantrum.

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