Whitebait season beats bridge building


On the West Coast they know what really matters.

Taylors Contracting have to move a river twice during a major rebuilding of a road and rail bridge over the Arahura River, between Hokitika and Greymouth.

Their deadline for doing it is determined by the whitebait season.

The boy on the beach


A family of four wandered on to the beach and settled down near us.

The parents were very attentive, swimming with the two young children, playing with them in the sand and watching them play by themselves. They frequently admired what the children were doing and chatted with them.

Every now and then the wee boy, who was about three, would do something to annoy his younger sister. His parents reprimanded him, quietly and calmly. He continued to annoy her, the reprimand, still calm and quiet became sterner. He snatched his sister’s toy. His mother picked him up, took the toy from him, set him down at a distance from his sister, told him to stay there and play by himself. She also warned that if he annoyed his sister one more time he’d be smacked.

A few minutes later, he ran up to his sister, pushed her over and took another toy.

The mother smacked his hand, lightly. His lip quivered, he looked her in the eye, sniffed, took a deep breath, sat down and began playing happily again.

Smacking in general is not a good thing to do, there may have been a better alternative to it in this particular case, but should what the mother did be against the law?

This took place in Fiji where it isn’t. Had it happened here the mother would probably not have been arrested and charged for breaking the Crimes (Substitution Section 59) Amendment Act, but she had broken the law.

The memory of this scene is one of the reasons I voted no in the referendum.

It doesn’t mean I condone smacking. It doesn’t mean I think it’s a good way to discipline children.

It just means I know that parenting is an imperfect art, even the best parents don’t get it right all the time, and when they get it wrong in a way that does not physically or emotionally harm a child, they should not risk criminalisation.

It doesn’t matter that no-one has been charged for a trivial smack like the one given to the boy on the beach. It doesn’t matter that no-one has got away with using much more force if it was reasonable in the circumstances and for the purposes of prevention, which the law permits.

A law which allows an action for one reason but disallows a similar, or maybe even lesser, one for another is bad law. A law which means parents risk being criminalised for a trivial action is bad law. A bad law shouldn’t be tweaked when it needs to be changed.

This is a bad law and one bad law undermines all the other good ones.

Apropos of this:

Keeping Stock has written a very good memo to John.

Kiwiblog looks at Key’s response (to the referendum not Keeping Stock’s memo).

Dim Post leaks some changes to  smacking law.

Chris Trotter writes on the Deafening Echo at Bowalley Road.

Karl du Fresne posts on Losing 40 – nil and blaming the ref.

Ice Cream Pudding


My mother called it ice cream pudding, other people’s mothers called it ice cream custard.

Either way, it still tastes good.

Ice Cream Pudding

 4 Tablespoons butter       4 Tablespoons sugar

 4 Tablespoons flour          1 egg

 1 teaspoon vanilla        2 cups milk


 Cream butter & sugar, stir in flour & mix.

 Stir in egg & vanilla & mix.

 Heat milk, remove from heat and gradually add to the rest of the mixture, stirring as you go so it won’t go lumpy.

 When all the milk is stirred in, put mixture back in pot, return to heat and stir until it thickens and boils.

Serve warm or cold with fruit.


Smoking bad for environment


It isn’t news that smoking is bad for human health but now it seems it’s bad for the globe’s health too.

The number of outdoor heaters has increased since smoking inside was banned and environmentalists are concerned about the carbon emissions from them.

 “100,000 homes all using a standard patio heater on average of one hour per week would generate a carbon footprint of approximately 18 000 tonnes, that’s equivalent to a medium-sized car travelling from Auckland to Wellington and back again around 60, 000 times,” says Kathryn Hailes, from Carbonzero programme.

“If these households stopped using their patio heaters cost savings could be potentially around $20 million dollars per annum, that’s a lot of savings that people could keep in their back pocket rather than using to heat the ambient temperature of the neighbourhood,” says Ms Hailes.

But do 100,000 homes all use a standard patio heater for an average of an hour a week?

We have a couple of patio heaters which we use for a few hours a few times a year – less than 10 hours in total.

We use a barbeque a lot more often, though usually for less than 15 minutes at a time.

“What seems very bizarre about them is that we’re busy insulating our houses so that we can minimise the amount of heat that we need to keep warm and here we are burning fuel outside with not even walls let alone insulation heating up the entire universe,” says Jeanette Fitzsimons, Green Party MP.

Environmentalists say they produce the same volume of climate-changing gases as a speeding truck. They’ve also calculated they consume as much energy as five electric fan heaters on full power.

The European parliament is in the process of banning the outdoor heaters and Australia is wondering about the environmental cost of them.

Here in New Zealand there are no plans for a ban but the energy efficiency and conservation authority says it’s keeping a close eye on developments in Australia.

Jeanette Fitzsimons doesn’t support a ban but says she is concerned about the heater’s carbon footprint. . .

 “It’s a question of personal responsibility of the person using them and that’s one of the things that a price on carbon emissions will start to create as it will raise the price of fuel and then people can decide ‘Do I really want to spend that much on outdoor heating or have I got better things to do with the money and the fuel,’ and for those determined to head outdoors on chilly evenings there’s always the option of putting on another jersey,” says Ms Fitzsimmons.

Personal responsibility and letting people make their own choice based on price is a pleasant change of tone from the Greens which have in the past been more keen on bans.

However, has anyone thought that if people weren’t outside enjoying themselves they might be somewhere else doing something else which caused even more emissions?

2 + 2 = whatever the journalist thinks


The headlines says: 

Key suggests Hide’s minister days are numbered

The first paragraph says:

Prime Minister John Key has suggested Rodney Hide’s days as a minister may be numbered.

And the Prime Minister actually said:

Mr Key says he respects Mr Hide’s position and it’s the sort of thing that can happen with MMP governments.

“He’s effectively said he’d resign as minister of local government and from there on in it would be up to me as Prime Minister to determine,” Mr Key says. “But lets cross that bridge if we ever come to it.”

How that adds up to intro and headline beats me.

Am I missing something or is this just another example of what Macdoctor’  calls Spam Journalism?

Champion gas in need of a champion


It’s time someone stood up for CO2. This humble little gas needs a champion.

There’s plenty of people willing to stick up for dead dogs in umus or dead galahs in aviaries (and so they damn well should!). And there’s heaps of folk happy to defend any beneficiary lucky enough to gross a grand a week (where can the rest of us apply?) but no one, it seems, is willing to stand as CO2’s advocate.

If it was a gay gas hoping to adopt, there would be benchfuls of judges saying, “Why not?” If it was an ethnic gas, seeking a seat at the Super City table, there’d be coalitions of politicians saying, “Good on you, CO2!”

That’s a taste of Jim Hopkins’ column in the Herald. If you want to find out more about cinemactivists emoting about emitting and Greena, The Worrier Princess then read more here. Your laughter lines will thank you for it.

On a similar theme, Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson asks, could greenicide enter the English lexicon as a corruption of that all-defining slogan, clean and green?

Most farmers are clean because of high standards of farm management. Most farmers are green because farms are our offices as well as our homes. The vast majority of New Zealand’s farmers take environmental management very seriously.

Yet clean and green has been corrupted into greenicide, being the adoption of green policies at any cost.

He explains how much the campaign to reduce carbon emissions by 40% would cost, says reductions can’t and won’t work and introduces the convenient truth – that humans evolve.

Technology will enable humans to prosper and grow and that’s a positive and realistic vision of the future farmers support.

Controlling emissions demands an investment in science research and technology. This reconciles a basic human yearning “for more” without killing our planet.

. . . That’s why the Kyoto Protocol and Copenhagen negotiations seem more like a big jobs scheme. Too much spending is on policy, appearance and spin, not nearly enough is spent on solutions.

. . . If New Zealand put 0.05 per cent of gross domestic product into research instead of the emissions trading scheme, it would pump $87.5 million into climate variation research. In the United States, that figure would be some $11 billion and globally, over $34 billion would be raised.

The amount raised also illustrates New Zealand’s very small part in a much bigger global picture. New Zealand doesn’t produce 99.8 per cent of global emissions.

New Zealand can lead internationally on research without killing the economy.

The heroes aren’t the doom merchants who tell us how to live, but the scientists and farmers who enable us to live and prosper. Greenicide is not the solution.

That is the most sensible view on the issue of climate change I have come across.

Money for research will do far more for the environment, without the social and economic damage, than an ETS.

Whatever target we aim for, the ETS is not unlike the medieval system of religious indulgences, which required people to pay before they sinned, and will do as little good.

Which part of no don’t you understand?


The noes have it.

Preliminary results of the referendum on child discipline were:

Votes Number of Votes
Percentage of Total
Valid Votes
For the response Yes 191,495 11.81%
For the response No 1,420,959 87.60%
Informal Votes 9,696 0.60%
Total Valid Votes 1,622,150 100.00%


The number of invalid votes cast was 802.

A total of 1,622,952 people voted which is a turnout of 54.04%.

That compares with a 26.9% (652,394 voters) turnout in the 1995 referendum on the number of firefighters.

A total of 2,059,948 people voted in the referendum on the number of MPs  and  2,056, 404 voted in the referendum on the criminal justice system. Both of these were held in conjunction with the 1999 general election.

The two referenda held in isolation got a much lower turnout than the two held with the general election. The latest one which was by postal ballot got a much higher turnout than the 1995 one which required people to vote at a polling booth.

August 22 in history


On August 22:

565 St Columba reported seeing the Loch Ness Monster.

1851 the first America’s Cup was won by the yacht America.

1862 French composer Claude Debussy was born.

1864 12 nations signed the first Geneva Convention and the Red Cross was formed.

1893 US writer Dorothy Parker was born.

1934 Genral “Storman’ ” Norman Schwarzkopf

1969 The first Young Farmer of the Year contest was held. The winner was Gary Frazer.

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