Even Words Grow Old


Today’s contribution to poetry month is Owen Marshall’s Even Words Grow Old from Occasional, published by Hazard Press, 2004.


Even words grow old


Even words grow old, finally over the hill

hearts grown cold though husks there still.

Piquant vocabulary becomes as a museum’s

buttoned shoes. Idioms rattle in the text

shrivelled in their shells, and prejudice

of an age lies exposed in bare expression.


Smiles of grammatical exactitude tighten

to a pedant’s rictus. Even words grow

old, no matter how resolute the will, and

meanings fade as the subtle colours of

the dying salmon. thus convulsive mutation

and slower evolution gather their ambiguity


and blunt that first magnificent precision

so kids can only mouth at Shakespeare and

olde Chaucer. Simulacra abound, amiable

dissembling appearance, yet meaning warped

or meanings true but faces hard to recognise

as cracked, dim frescos of Etruscan beauty.


Imprisoned on the page, even words grow old

sentenced to repetition and static senility

flashes of wonder and fleeting comprehension

from all points of the compass, but no one

direction. Strange things lie buried: bog

corpses of language of which we lack memory.


So writing’s fabric wears thin, and dresses

of the past no longer cover our modern hips.

Persian sages gave their dingle, immutable

injunction, and paradox, This Too Will Pass.

Even words grow old- but spawn afresh, thank God

bright, nervous fingerlings, perfectly attuned.


             – Owen Marshall –

Farming and conservation not mutually exculsive


High Country farming and conservation aren’t mutually exclusive a report into enivronmental stewardship and tenure review  by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright.

The report  recommends that a High Country Commission be established to provide oversight and strategic direction and it questions the ongoing expansion of the DOC estate.

The only high level strategy for the high country is DoC’s plan for the creation of 22 high country parks. Yet much of the land going into those parks has no special biodiversity value, and comparatively few people will be hardy enough to use them for recreation. With the addition of each park must come the need for significant ongoing Crown expenditure on pest and weed control, access roads, fences, tracks and huts. It is hard to see how this strategy yields the best national value for the conservation dollar.

Farmers and local bodies have been saying this for some time but went unheard because the previous government failed to recognise that farmers had been and could continue to be stewards of high country land and that farming and conservation aren’t mutually exclusive.

Labour’s antipathy to private property rights drove the purchase of large tracts of South Island high country which few if any members of the public will ever see and has left taxpayers with an on-going bill for weed and pest control, repairs and maintenance.

Public funding for conservation will always be limited. Other models that sit between the extremes of unfettered private ownership and management on the one hand and pure DOC ownership and management on the other should be used more widely. Covenants and possibly performance-based fi nancial incentives as well as local authority rules can all be used to support farmers and other owners in the stewardship role many already play.

The previous government gave a directive that leasehold land couldn’t be protected with QEII National Trust covenents, preferring to buy land back from pastoral lessees, saddle DOC with its management and the public with the bill.

Land purchase and fencing alone has already cost the public $120 million.

Agriculture Minsiter David Carter has welcomed the report and says it:

. . . recognises that farmers already play a ‘stewardship’ role, a role which lessees have long argued and which has been overlooked.” 

Mr Carter says that high country runholders can be just as effective stewards as the Crown. 

“We also support the questioning by the Commissioner of the ongoing expansion of the DOC estate. 

“The Government has made it clear that it supports the principle of tenure review, but believes a new approach is needed to restore confidence in the process.  Voluntary, good faith negotiations between lessees and the Crown are at the heart of this.   

This is a welcome change from the anti-farmer view which the previous government subscribed to and should see better economic and environmental outcomes.

Please tell me it isn’t so – updated & updated again


Trans Tasman is reporting that Michael Cullen will be appointed to chair NZ Post and KiwiBank when Jim Bolger retires.

A loyal National Party member has just phoned to tell me he and others who spent nine years working to get Cullen’s hands off the reins are furious about this and I share their views.

There must be someone better equipped for these roles than the man who overtaxed and over spent for nine long years, leaving our economy far less able to weather the recession than it would have been had his policies been directed at growth rather than redistribution.

SOEs have been underperforming and need highly skilled leadership and that requires someone with a far greater regard for other people’s money than Cullen.

When the idea of Cullen chairing an SOE was  first mooted, blue tinted bloggers were united in their opposition. If the first to react are any indication they haven’t changed their minds: 

Fairfacts Media asks what is John Key playing at?

Kiwiblog says it’s a crappy move

UPDATE: SOE Minister Simon Power has announced:

“Hon Dr Michael Cullen has been appointed to the board of New Zealand Post, and is expected to become deputy chair in the medium term. 


Fairfacts Media thinks Cullen deputising Bolger is too good to be true

At No Minsiter Psycho Milt  is amused but Lou Taylor isn’t.

Keeping Stock thinks John Key is up to something


Roarprawn reckons it’s a poisoned chalice.

Cactus Kate was forced to seek solace in oysters and Moet

Barnsley Bill’s vote has been lost  and Not PC wonders why  he gave it to National anyway.

Whaleoil is disgusted then has second thoughts  and thinks John Key has snookered Labour.


The red rag was thrown and the blue blogs roared, but what if we’re wrong and it’s really a cunning plot?

Fairfacts Media doesn’t think the job’s as good as it looks.

Anti Dismal  has a better idea – sell the SOEs.


at NZ Conservative Zen Tiger spots a pirate plot  and muses on the relevance of history

Macdcotor advises Cullen not to trip on the way out.

At Tumeke!  Tim Selwyn thinks it’s unbelievable.

Confession of a hard-nosed churl


If asked to describe myself, hardnosed-churl wouldn’t immediately spring to mind.

But after reading last week’s Listener I’ll have to add it to my list of defects because Jane Clifton says:

It’s a testimony to Clark’s standing that even this close to her election defeat, all but the hardest-nosed churls are immensely proud of her.

So here I am, not just a hard-nosed churl but one of the hardest because I’m not proud of her.

Remaining unmoved by Helen Clark’s apointment ot the UN is not just because of political bias. I don’t recall feeling proud of Mike Moore when he became leader of the WTO (though I did appreciate his efforts to free up trade) or of Don McKinnon when he became secretary general of the Commonwealth either.

Nor is it that I don’t do vicarious pride, I have been known to bask in others’ glory.

But, while I wish her well in her new position and hope she makes a positive difference with the UN’s development programme, I am too coloured by my view of her failings to feel proud of her.

I’m not denying her poltical skills nor her accomplishments, I accept that she genuinely wanted to make New Zealand better and I could overlook the fact that in many important ways she didn’t. But I can’t set aside her inability to admit her mistakes and accept she was wrong.

There were several instances of this but there are two that stand out:

  * Signing a painting which wasn’t her own work when she was a busy Prmie Minister might have been understood if not condoned, but signing the half dozen or so of other people’s art works over 20 years to which she finally and grudgingly admitted is bazarre.

* deliberately spending taxpayers’ money on Labour’s pledge card then changing the law to validate it and then introducing the dog’s breakfast that was the EFA to enable her to do it again is corrupt.

Kiwiblog finds more in his reaction  to the Sunday Star Times  interview with her.

Inquiring Mind is sure she’s no iron lady

Keeping Stock says Diddums so does Lou Taylor at No Minister

Fairfacts Media diagnoses narcissism.

There are other views.

The Hand Mirror says congratulations

and John Key gave a gracious speech 

But I’ll leave the last words – and picture – to Garrick Tremain:


Shop shoppers shop after shopping shops



Labour Department staff who shop shops for opening on Good Friday and Easter Sunday have been spotted shopping in these shops afterwards.

Every Easter the Department of Labour issues New Zealand businesses with thousands of dollars worth of fines for opening their doors.

However, the Department has been left red-faced after revelations that some of its inspectors are doing a bit of shopping on the job.

Music retailer Mark Thomas has already received a warning that if his store opens this Easter he will be fined thousands of dollars.

It has happened before with penalties issued by Department of Labour inspectors. But Thomas says their brand of enforcement is hypocritical.
“It’s quite funny really. They serve us the notice and occasionally they’ll give us the notice and head off shopping in our shop for half an hour,” explained Thomas. “We smile to ourselves and think ‘what’s the point of that’.”

The regulations which allow some, but not all, businesses to operate on these two days, require Labour Department to work on their holidays shopping the shops which shouldn’t be serving shoppers and they then show they’re less than 100% behind shopping the shops by shopping there themselves.

After 3 News asked the Department to comment, it issued a statement saying “any such behaviour is inappropriate. It is unfortunate that this matter is only now being reported, however the Department would appreciate any information about this alleged incident so that we can investigate it, and if necessary, take action.”

However, the Minister was not taking such a hard line.
“I think Labour inspectors are entitled to choose whether they shop or not and personally I think businesses can choose whether they open or not and it is a matter of choice,” said Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson. “But then again I don’t condone breaking the law either.”

Easter trading law is a mess, particularly in places like Wanaka where you have one business which is permitted to open next to another carrying out a similar operation which isn’t.

Then Otago, now Waitaki, MP Jacqui Dean tried to get a private members’ bill through to exempt Wanaka businesses but failed and the law is so bad it shouldn’t be tinkered with it should be scrapped.

I don’t see businesses opening as a threat to Christian beliefs. Those who wish Good Friday and Easter Sunday to be sacred can observe them as such regardless of whether the law permits shops to open or not. And changing the law would mean Labour Department staff wouldn’t have to work on these days either so could shop without having to shop the shops first.

Country rentals attracting crims


When jobs on farms and in farm servicing went in the 80’s ag-sag so did the people who’d done them, leaving empty houses.

The houses were offered for rental and the hard working people who’d been part of their communities  were sometimes replaced by people who moved to the country knowing they wouldn’t get work and who supplemented their benefits with criminal activity.

Otago police warn that this is happening again.

Const Tremain said criminals, or others, who wished to evade the attention of police for whatever reason typically targeted rural and semi-rural locations.

“The isolation and a smaller police presence are the main reasons, and they will take advantage of rural folks’ general good nature in order to get what they want.”

The shorter turnover of lifestyle properties has been exacerbated by dairying which has a high staff turnover so we don’t know our neighbours or our employees as we used to.  

We’ve had thefts of fuel and k-line irrigation pipes and a vehicle taken – but recovered – in the last couple of years and some calves went missing last spring.

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