Rain on the Roof


This Friday’s poem chose itself because we’re having a lovely rain – just what those of us trying to grow grass need, although anyone trying to harvest may not be quite as enthusiastic.

I first came across Rain on the Roof  by Janet Frame in Otago University’s paper Critic when I was a student, but copied it today from Janet Frame stories & poems published by Vintage.


                 Rain on the Roof


My nephew sleeping in a basement room

has put a sheet of iron outside his window

to recapture the sound of rain falling on the roof.


I do not say to him, The heart has its own comfort for grief.

A sheet of iron repairs roofs only. As yet unhurt by

     the demand

that change and difference never show, he is still able

to mend damages by creating the loved rain-sound

he thinks he knew in early childhood.


Nor do I say, In the travelling life of loss

iron is a burden, that one day he must find

within himself in total darkness and silence

the iron that will hold not only the lost sound of the rain

but the sun, the voices of the dead, and all else that

      has gone.


                      – Janet Frame –

Property rights foundation of economic & social progress


New Zealanders’  high level of home ownership ought to ensure a high regard for property rights but this is disputed in a paper by Professor Lewis Evans and Professor Neil Quigley of the Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation at Victoria University of Wellington with Kevin Counsell of NERA Economic Consulting.

Protection of Property Rights and Just Compensation argues that we have a poor record of safeguarding property rights and puts the case for including them in the Bill of Rights Act because they are a human right and essential for economic and social progress.

The authors undertook five case studies of the harm done by the current lack of protection of property rights, one of which looked at the confiscation of the value of crown pastoral leases and concluded:

In our view this taking of the lessee’s property right should be possible only if the lessee is compensated for the loss of income. This conclusion holds whether the taking is actually the destruction of the economic viability of the lessee’s pastoral farming by the change in the rent, or whether it is the taking of public access rights or conservation land in exchange for remission of the new rental charges back to the level at which pastoral farming is viable.

Another case study of particular relevance to rural property owners was on the destruction of value of pre-1990 forests under the Emissions Trading Scheme. But a threat to any property right is a threat to all so the other case studies are equally interesting: the destruction of Maori land value by Crown pre-emption rights; the nationalisation of petroleum; the confiscation of the foreshore and seabed; and the attack on the value of shares in Auckland International Airport Ltd.

The study looks at legislation which devolves the ability to take property rights:


The RMA is particularly notable for the power that it provides for local body administrators to routinely set aside private property rights without compensation.


The authors also took issue with Fish and Games’ challenge to pastoral leaseholders’ right to exclusive use of their land.

. . . Fish and Game New Zealand is advocating confiscation of rights which Crown pastoral lessees have long presumed that they held (albeit that this is to be determined by the courts). . . because Fish and Game is taxpayer funded, its actions illustrate the substantial asymmetry that may exist between rights holders and special interest groups who ‘represent’ popular causes that are supported by politicians: the resources of the latter are very often vastly in excess of those of the rights holders. . . property rights are a solution to the problem of the commons created by open access. Overriding rights of exclusive occupation will create an outdoor commons that will itself require regulation and inhibit socially desirable multiple-use activities in a world of increasing scarcity.


Investment and growth depend on confidence. Safeguards to property rights would give businesses and individuals greater confidence to invest and from that would come growth with obvious economic and social benefits.


HAT TIP: Matthew Hooton & the Exceltium Quarterly.

The auditorium





Inside the Opera House


The motif for the Oamaru Opera House is a mask, created by Donna Demente:




Blessing and blessed


A medly from a lone piper serenaded those gathered outside Oamaru’s newly refurbished Opera House before dawn.

As the music stopped, the large white curtain which cloaked the building fell:


We were led inside to find Waitaki Mp Jacqui Dean, Mayor Alex Familton, councillors, council staff, representatives from Ngai Tahu and a minister on the stairs facing us.

A blessing in Maori, a reply from the Mayor, a prayer and the combined singing of Whaakaria Mai followed then the voice of a soloist on the stage called us into the auditorium.

The mayor spoke briefly then a young ballet dancer, representing those who will perform in future, took the stage and commanded (yes, that was the word she chose) the Opera House open.

We were then invited to explore the building, and what a treasure it is.

We are fortunate that more that the people from a previous generation gave us this building and that there were enough in the current generation of councillors and supporters who were prepared to work hard to not just preserve but to restore and improve it for the future.

There’s a daylight photo of the outside here and I’ll post some interior shots later.

Of course it will affect rates


The Auckland Regional Council lost $1.79m when too few people turned up to a football game but:

Mr Winder said the ARC was determined the loss would not have any effect on rates or ratepayers.

How can this be?

It’s not just money spent directly by the council which affect rates and ratepayers.

A loss for the council’s business unit is money not available for other projects which directly or indirectly impacts on the council budget and the people who fund it.

Fortnightly fix insufficient


Last Friday I looked, as is my wont, for my Friday fix of Jim Hopkins in the NZ Herald, but alas my search was fruitless.

Neither a column nor an explanation for its absence were there.

This morning I looked more in hope than expectation and found to my delight he’s back but only fortnightly as, I gather, is the case for other columnists who aren’t on the Herald’s staff.

Tough times no doubt lead to tough decisions but this isn’t the right one for writer or reader.

For several years I wrote a weekly column for the ODT, then I got a call from the editor saying they wanted to reduce my contribution to a fortnightly one and the space left in alternate weeks would be filled by a staff writer.

That was the beginning of the end. When I was doing the weekly column I established a pattern: gather ideas and mull them over, mentally writing, discarding errant phrases and refining the ones that worked while I was doing whatever else needed doing until a couple of days before deadline. Then I rang the friend who did a picture to accompany my words to tell her what the column was going to be about, the next day I wrote it and began gathering ideas . . .

The fortnightly deadline broke the rhythm, two weeks was too far away to start the gathering of ideas for anything which might be topical by publication date and the week off in between made it much harder to get the creative flow going again.

I approached other editors in the hope of getting a weekly stint, or a space in the alternate fortnight but they weren’t interested.

The difficulty with the stop-start writing was my problem but the fortnightly offering didn’t work for readers either, they kept telling me they couldn’t find the column and then they stopped looking for it because they thought I’d given up.

The Herald may not be worried that they’re making writing more difficult for columnists but they ought to be concerned about disappointing their readers.

Unless it’s considerably more generous to its freelancers than other papers, cutting their contributions in half isn’t going to save much money. But every cent counts and if they think this is a necessary economy measure, they’d be better to get rid of half their contributers rather than halving the output from them all.

That said, I don’t want Hopkins to be one of those that goes. He’s one of very few satirists writing in New Zealand and as such he should be accorded the respect due to a member of that endangered species which has both the wit and words to poke the borax at those in high and not so high places.

Take this from today’s column, for example:

The fact that senior people in gummint departments aren’t able to write a decent letter suggests we’ve got an education system so useless it can’t even teach kids how to light a fire by rubbing two policy analysts together.

But that’s a story for another day. The point here is, if anything, even more disturbing. It turns out Winz has been dashing off lots of “badly written” letters. Seriously! Judge for yourself …

You can judge more for yourself by reading more  here.

A sign of the times


When I moved here just over 26 years ago there were three schools, three rugby clubs, a tennis club, a badminton club, two Young Farmers clubs, active branches of Federated Farmers and Womens Division plus one Catholic and three Presbyterian churches * in the valley.

A few years later the ag-sag struck, jobs were lost as farmers retrenched, young people left for education or work and few returned, the average age of the remaining population went up and one by one the institutions and organisations folded.

The development of irrigation in the last few years reversed the population drift and has brought younger people back, but life won’t return to how it was.

One of  the Presbyterian churches is still in use but the schools all closed, two were sold and the third is leased by the Bretheren Church which buses children to it from as far away as Dunedin and Timaru – an hour and a half and an hour away respectively.

None of the other organisations or clubs remain which makes this a sign of the times:


It’s advertising the 50th reunion of  the Enfield Rugby Club which went out of existence nearly two decades ago so it’s been out of existence for nearly as long as it was active.

That won’t of course, stop those who attend the reunion enjoying it.

*we are on the right side of the Waitaki 🙂

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