From poems to prose


Friday has been poetry day here for more than a year.

I’m keeping the literary theme but moving from single poems to a discussion of books – novels, biographies, poetry . . .  old and new.

Probably starting next week because events have overtaken my intention to start today.

Did you see the one about . . .


Art is everywhere – Art & My Life discovers children learn fast.

On your marks get set at Bespoke Media Training where Bill Ralston finds TVNZ’s negotiating skills aren’t what they should be.

Show your love with Vogels – Cactus Kate’s top 10 gift list.

A bit of a squeeze – Opinionated Mummy shows some smart cars.

Don’t dream it’s over – Macdoctor’s sure it isn’t apropos of which Not PC posts Hurrah! we’re round the corner at last.

Champagne Charlie – Quote Unquote wonders where a bottle smuggler put the bottles. He also posts a wee bit of humour on changes in language.

Unlike the rest of the world we like America – Updated with Letterman Top 10


John Key often speaks off the cuff, whether he’d rehearsed what he said when he appeared on the Letterman show or not, this comment would be hard to beat:

“Unlike the rest of the world, we like America”.

It might have been said with a smile, but there is a very serious message in that statement.

He will however, be hoping that no-one took him seriously when he said:

“New Zealand is a convenient 20-hour flight away” and “if you go in the next 30 days I’ll pick you up at the airport personally”.

Key also rang the bell which closes the New York Stock exchange.

New Zealand Stock Exchange boss Mark Weldon says ringing the bell is a highly coveted honour bestowed on visiting dignitaries.

Mr Weldon says the financial markets all cover the ringing of the bell and the prime minister will get great profile for New Zealand by doing it.

If my experience is anything to go by a lot of Americans won’t know where New Zealand is – and ignorance of our location or even existence isn’t confined to the US.

That said, we have a lot to gain from warmer relationships with the US. Hopefully a few of the people who do know where New Zealand is and are in a position to influence policy will have got Key’s message.

UPDATE: (Hat Tip Rob’s Blcockhead) The Top 10 List from the show:


The quote I linked to above got it wrong. Key said: “Unlike most of the world we still like Americans.”

Sue Bradford resigning


Just heard on Nine to Noon that Green MP Sue Bradford has announced she’s resigning from parliament next month.


The next person on the Green list is David Clendon. If he enters parliament the Greens will then have five male and four female MPs.

The NZ Herald says Clendon is:

. . . a sustainable business advisor, who is of Ngapuhi, Te Roroa and Pakeha heritage.

Kathryn Ryan interviewed RadioNZ National’s  chief reporter Jane Patterson who said the decision was prompted by Bradford’s loss of the contest for co-leadership to Metiria Turei. The interview will be online here soon  is now online here.

Ryan’s interview with Bradford will be online at the link above soon.

Brrrr # 3


We spent yesterday in Omarama where it was freezing all day & we’ve woken to fresh snow on the surrounding hills.

PM of NZ is also feeling cold.

Snow closed the Rimutaka road.

The weather forecast is gloomy.

And the clocks go forward an hour on Sunday.


Anyone want to join my campaign to delay the start of daylight saving by three or four weeks?

Coal to fertiliser plant for Southland?


Eastern Southland’s lignite coal could be turned in to fertiliser if joint investigations by farmer-owned co-operative Ravensdown and Solid Energy are successful.

Solid Energy, and agricultural fertiliser supplier, Ravensdown, are jointly investigating the viability of building a US$1 billion plus coal-to-fertiliser plant in Eastern Southland, harnessing the region’s world-scale lignite resource and making New Zealand self sufficient in, and potentially an exporter of, urea fertiliser.

The study will consider the economics and possible location of a plant producing up to 1.2 million tonnes a year of urea – a nitrogen fertiliser used to enhance grass growth – from up to 2 million tonnes a year of lignite mined from Solid Energy’s extensive lignite resources. At last year’s urea prices – up to US$800/tonne – this plant would have generated the equivalent of about NZ$1.5 billion per annum in export equivalent revenue – through a combination of import replacement and direct exports.

The venture could created up to 500 new jobs. The study should be completed early next year when the companies will decide if they proceed to the next stage. If they decide to go ahead construction could start by 2012 and the plant might be operating by late 2014.

Solid Energy’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Don Elder, says: “. . . Agriculture is our most important economic sector . . .. Urea is a key input to increased farm productivity, but is mostly imported at present, which exposes our farmers to world supply volatility, and prices that can fluctuate widely. Producing urea from our vast lignite resources is a prime example of how New Zealand can capitalise on our position as one of the richest countries in the world in natural resources per capita.”

The lignite to uerea study is running in parallel with work to investigate producing diesel.

“Developing a urea plant in advance of constructing a lignite-to-diesel plant would allow New Zealand to have advanced gasification industry competency and capabilities in place at an earlier stage, to substantially facilitate further and larger developments. Alternatively the two developments could take place in parallel and form the basis of a “syngas park”, supplying clean syngas to multiple downstream applications including diesel and urea.”

Federated Farmers  president Don Nicolson said the responsible exploitation of our mineral wealth would play an important part in increasing productivity.

“The numbers involved in this feasibility study are mind-boggling.  Even if annually it converts two-million tonnes of lignite into fertiliser, there are enough proven lignite reserves to keep the plant ticking over for some 650 years.

“The study opens up the prospect of 500 new jobs and the construction of a state of the art facility in an investment worth some $1.4 billion.

“Given New Zealand imports some half million tonnes of gas or coal based urea each year, the new plant will likely be built to the latest environmental standards.  This has obvious benefits from a global climate change perspective.

“The really exciting thing is the potential of turning New Zealand from an importer into an exporter, generating the equivalent of $1.5 billion in export equivalent income each year. 

“That amount represents one and a half times the size of the wine industry or three times the current value of the wool clip.

“It’s also an example where companies can leverage off agriculture, New Zealand’s most important industry, into completely new areas.  In this case taking a low value mineral which occurs in vast quantities and turning that mineral into a high value export.

Turning a low value resource into fertiliser, replacing imports, creating jobs in rural Southland, doing it all to meet the highest environmental requirements . . .  If investigations show the project is feasable it will be very good news indeed.

September 25 in history


On September 25:

1513 Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean.

1819 Samuel Marsden planted what is believed to have been the first grape vines in New Zealand.

1897 US writer William Faulkener was born.

1921 Sir Robert Muldoon was born.

1929 English comedian Ronnie Barker was born.

1929 US broadcaster Barbara Walters was born.

Barbara Walters.jpg

1944 Michael Douglas was born.

1946 English actress Felicity Kendal was born.

1952 US actor Christopher Reeve was born.

1962 The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria was proclaimed.

1969 English actress Catherine Zeta-Jones was born.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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