USA backs out of FTA


Remember the excitement which greeted the announcement that the USA was going to enter mulitlateral free trade negotiations with New Zealand?

Well, take the champagne out of the chiller, because TVNZ reports they’re back tracking .

The Obama administration has sought to indefinitely delay the so-called Trans Pacific Partnership talks due to get underway in Singapore later this month.

They were expected to strike a trade deal between the US, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei.

The postponement is to give time for the US to select a new trade representative.

This is a serious blow not just to New Zealand’s hope for improved access to US markets but to all who’re working towards global free trade.

As Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson said when reacting to the anouncement the USA was going to join the Trans pacific Partnership:

“Moves to negotiate multilateral agreements with likeminded countries by the United States, sends a clear signal to the WTO to get Doha back on track. 

The indefinite delay shouldn’t derail the Doha negotiations but it could result in much slower progress.

UPDATE: goNZofreakpower asks if this means we can can  section 92A?

Aint nothing like a Dame or a Knight


It wasn’t an election pledge but several months ago John Key did say National might review the honours system.

They have and the result is a reinstatement of titular honours.

The new system will apply from June and the 85 people who were appointed Principal and Distinguished Companions *1 of the New Zealand Order of Merit between 2000 and 2008 will be given the choice of accepting a title.

When this change was mooted last October I wrote:

The egalitarian in me balks at hereditary titles, but I am more warmly disposed to those people have earned.

There may be arguments about some who’ve got honours but they are the exceptions because most are deserved.

I had the privilege of sitting on a board with Sir Robin Gray and recently had dinner with friends where Sir Brian Lahore was also a guest. Both enhance the honour rather than the reverse and I think that is true for most recipients.

However, whether or not titles are reintroduced I would like a change to the current system which few understand.

If we’re going to have our own honours we should make them properly our own and award our brightest and best the Order of the Kiwi.

That would be a fittingly New Zealand way of honouring someone without getting too effusive because the recipients would then be Jo (or Joe) Bloggs OK 🙂

I haven’t changed my mind on any of that and hope the reinstatement of titular honours is the first step towards a New Zealand system of honours which is less wordy and more easily understood than the current one.

And given it’s International Women’s Day when we might be considering gender equality – it’s time some thought was given to what to call the spice*2 of those who are honoured.

The correct address for the wife of a Sir Whoever What’sit is Lady What’sit not Lady Herownname. The husband of a Dame stays a Mister and I don’t think the partners of those in a civil union or who are partners in life but not by law rate in the etiquette books.

I am sure that most of those honoured would give their spice some of the credit so I’m not totally averse to them gaining a special honourific in recognition of their other half’s honour – but either all spice gain one or none.

*1 – whoever came up with that longwinded explanation for good bloke/blokess needs to go back to communication school.

*2 – spice: a plural noun which covers more than one spouse or partner.

UPDATE: Stephen Franks  wonders:

whether any of the Labour notables who’ve disparaged “imperial honours” but honoured themselves with post-colonial orders that now convert back into Knight and Dame-hoods, will have the grace to decline John Key’s generous invitation?

He also notes that the Order of New Zealand was created as a non-titular honour so people like Jim Bolger and Jonathan Hunt won’t have to resist the temptation to have a title.

UPDATE 2: Monkeywithtypewriter reckons being able to choose is choice.

They did it themselves


Hard work by the people of Karamea has opened up native forest and limestone caves to visitiors.

It sounds like they’ve created a very good reason for people to do more than pass through as most do now.

But what really impressed me was this:

The Oparara track is a 30km network of walkways through a pristine stand of native forest near Karamea, and it was all designed and funded entirely by the locals.

They did it all themselves.

That’s impressive for any community but more especially a small one like this.

Fagan wins 16th Golden Shears title


Winning a national sporting title is a great accomplishment.

Doing it for the 16th time and at the age of 47 as David Fagan has done with the Golden Shears is a stunning tribute to fitness, skill, dedication and determination.

I hope the people who select finalists for the Halberg Awards  take note.

And if you don’t think shearing is sport, read Witi Ihimaera’s  Bulibasha. I’ve never been gripped by any other sporting commentary as I was by the one in that book.

Let’s bank it


Federated Farmers is campaigning for more water storeage.

The slogan is compelling: water – let’s bank it.

This bill board, spotted at Wellington Airport yesterday, looks good:


I hope they’ve got plans to explain it on their website too because when I looked for more information all I could find was a couple of press releases on the issue but I didn’t find anything on the campaign.

Water – quantity and quality – is vitally important and as is almost always the case the issue is dominated by emotion rather than facts.

This campaign by Feds puts the facts while appealing to feelings which ought to make it a winner.

Otaaaago 6-0


The only sign of any build up to last night’s rugby game when we passed through Dunedin yesterday afternoon was a lone car painted in Highlanders’ colours and playing the Highlanders’ song.

There was none of the usual excitement about the match against that team from the wrong side of the Waitaki which usually engenders strong support from both sides.

However, from what I could see on TV, it looked like a reasonable crowd so perhaps the southern fans responded to the come-to-see-us-or-lose-us  message from Highlanders chief executive Richard Reid.

It might have been a good crowd though not a record one, but it was a record score – the lowest in the Super 14 history: Highlanders 6 – Crusaders 0.

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