Will he ask the $158,000 question?


Paul Holmes will be interviewing Winston Peters on Q&A this Sunday.

The media release says the interview will be on Peters’ future and the party’s ambitions.

But will Holmes ask the only question that matters? The $158,000 one:

When will Peters pay back the $158,000 he owes the taxpayer from the misuse of parliamentary services funds before the 2005 election?

I use he advisedly because we all know that he is the party.

If Holmes wants a supplementary he could also ask where the $158,000 he supposedly paid to charities went.



Agriculture was one of the rounds delegated to me when I first started work as a reporter. One of the responsibilities which went with that was reporting on the monthly Provincial Federated Farmers meeting.

That was nearly 30 years ago when North Otago, like most provinces, had several active branches and the monthly meeting regularly had 30 or more attendees.

Now there are no branches and no monthly meetings. That’s not all bad. Other methods of communication, especially the internet, mean gathering together in one place isn’t as important as it used to be. Meetings happen now not as a matter of course but because there is something important to discuss or someone to listen to.

One of those meetings was held in Oamaru today. When I walked in I remembered how the meetings I used to attend were full of old men. Those attending today didn’t look nearly as old. Then I realised that wasn’t because attendees had got younger, it was because I’ve got older.

Conversation on a country telephone


Scene one, a farm house at evening.

The phone rings.

A woman answers: “Hello X speaking.”

Caller off stage : “Gid’day is Y there?”

Woman: “No, could I help?”

Caller: “Nah, thanks, I’ll ring him back.”

Scene 2 same place, the following morning.

The phone rings.

A woman answers: “Hello X speaking.”

Caller off stage : “Gid’day is Y there?”

Woman: “No, is there anything I could do?”

Caller: “Nah, thanks, I’ll ring him back.”

Scene 3, same place, later that day.

The phone rings.

A woman answers: “Hello X speaking.”

Caller off stage : “Gid’day is Y there?”

Woman: “No, could I take a message?”

Caller: “Nah, thanks, I’ll ring him back.”

Scene 4, same place the following evening.

The phone rings.

A man answers, “Hello Y speaking.”

Caller Off Stage “Gidday, it’s Z here, I was wondering . . . ”

Man:  “It’s no use asking me, you’ll have to speak to X, she always handles that.”

More Country People


Pause, if you will, and marvel at how a poem written in another century in another country still hits the spot in this country, now.

It’s More Country People by Carl Sandburg who was born in 1878. I found it in American Poetry of the Twentieth Century edited by Richard Gray, published by Cambridge University Press.

           More Country People

The six pigs at the breast of their mother

Equal six spots of young brown against a big spot of old brown.

The bleating of the sheep was an arithmetic

Of the long wool coat thick after winter.

The collar of white hair hung on the neck of the black hog,

The roosters of the Buff Cochin people strutted.


Cherry branches stuck their blossoms against the sky.

Elbows joined elbows of white blossoms.

Zigzags blent into a mass.

‘Look once at us – today is the day we call today.’

         – Carl Sandburg –


If the name Carl Sandburg means something and you can’t work out what, it might be because his poem Fog was used to teach you about metaphor: The fog comes/ on little cat feet . . .

Dan wins Dave at Edinburgh Fringe Festival


The Dave Award for the Funniest Joke of the Fringe was won by Dan Antopoloski with this one liner:

“Hedgehogs. Why can’t they just share the hedge?”

Some of the others in the top 10 were:

 “I was watching the London Marathon and saw one runner dressed as a chicken and another runner dressed as an egg. I thought: ‘This could be interesting.'” – Paddy Lennox.

 “I’m sure wherever my dad is, he’s looking down on us. He’s not dead. Just very condescending.” – Jack Whitehall.


 “A spa hotel? It’s like a normal hotel, only in reception there’s a picture of a pebble.” – Rhod Gilbert.

Then there were the worst jokes which included:

“I’m not doing any Michael Jackson jokes, because they always involve puns about his songs. And that’s bad!” –  Carey Marx.

“I phoned the swine flu hotline and all I got was crackling.”  –  Frank Woodley.

Things to hate about spring


Just the one:


The wind started blowing a couple of days ago and it feels like it’s forgotten how to stop.

It’s better for lambs and calves than a southerly or westerly easterly which bring cold and wet.

But enough’s enough.

Mining and conservation can co-exist


The suggestion from Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee that the government is planning to investigate mineral potential on conservation land should be regarded as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Australia’s mineral resources are often cited as one of the reasons its economy is so much stronger than ours. But, we do have mineral resources, the problem is getting to them because many are under conservation land.

There are obviously competing objectives here but there is scope to explore how economic development objectives could be better reconciled with other land values.

There is the potential for more flexible arrangements that do not undermine conservation and environmental objectives.

The government made a small step towards this earlier this year with the Oteake Conservation Park which lies between North and Central Otago. It shows how it might be possible to mine a small area while safeguarding the rest.

When the park was formed an area of 195 hectares over a lignite reserve was excluded, leaving 64,805 hectares in the conservation estate.

That is a tiny amount of land which might be able to be mined while leaving a large area protected.

When he announced this, Conservation Minister Tim Groser said there were no immediate plans to mine the deposit but it could yield liquid fuels equivalent to New Zealand’s transport requirements for 15 to 20 years

August 28 in history


On August 28th:

1749: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born.


1828 Russioan author Leo Tolstoy was born.

Only color photograph of the novelist, shot at his Yasnaya Polyana estate in 1908 by Prokudin-Gorskii, a pioneer of color photography

1906: English poet John Betjeman was born.

Statue of John Betjeman at St Pancras station.

1924 NZ author Janet Frame was born.


1930: English actor Windsor Davies was born.

1965: Canadian singer Shania Twain was born.

1992: Canterbury was blanketed by snow after the biggest fall in 30 years.

SOurced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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