Perfect Woman


Among the events in Wanaka at Labour weekend is the Perfect Woman competition.

One of the seeds which planted the idea for the inaugural contest was this advertisement:

Helen Reddy – I Am Woman


In honour of Helen Reddy’s birthday, one of the most culturally significant songs of the 1970s: I Am Woman.

I was at an all girls’ High School when it came out and we loved it.

Going the Distance


 Tracey Richardson reached rock bottom.

She was clinically depressed, morbidly obese, unfit, her business had collpased and two of her four children had cystic fibrosis.

She was faced with giving up or radically changing her life.

She chose to change and succeeded. She went from being a non-athlete to competing in a triathlon and the Hawaii Ironman, raising money for cystic fibrosis in the process – and then wrote about it in Going the Distance.

It’s an honest, open and inspiring account of an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things.


dairy 10004


Post 25 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

book month logo green

Deborah at In A Strange Land posts on Kauri In My Blood by Joanna Orwin.

Oswald Bastable posts on Craftsmen in Uniform by Peter Irwin Cape.

The image in the mirror


About 9 years ago I was at a National Party meeting in Wellington.

The party had lost the previous election after nine years in government and was languishing in the polls.

A former cabinet minister had been expounding on what the party needed to do.

Someone sitting beside me sighed and said, “He doesn’t get it, does he. That’s what lost the last election and it’s not going to win the next one.”

She was right.

But there’s a lot more to winning again after being defeated at the end of nine years in government than that.

What the losing party does is only part of the story, what the winning party and its leader do and how they are perceived is even more important.

At the moment the polls put National well ahead of the opposition.

Labour doesn’t appear to understand why. But Chris Trotter does:

Helen Clark’s government – especially in its third term – wildly overshot the New Zealand political runway.

Kiwi voters were in the market for someone willing to haul the country back on to the “mainstream” tarmac. Someone who could return their lives to “normal” and release them from the uncomfortably negative emotions “Aunty Helen’s” behaviour had aroused.
Mr Key was that “someone”.  . . . A successful bloke they could admire – but who never made them feel inadequate. A guy they could chat with over a summer barbecue without the slightest embarrassment. Someone whose kids looked remarkably like their kids. Someone, in short, remarkably like themselves. . .

. . .It’s not something Labour can do anything about. To attack John Key is to attack up to three-fifths of the voting public. . .

His fall can only be tragic – and Labour will have nothing to do with it.
Because New Zealanders will only fall out of love with John Key when they cease to love the image in the mirror he’s become.


I don’t think even Helen Clark’s biggest fans would have described her as someone remarkedly like themselves. But for the first few years of her government she was very popular and it seemed there was little National could do about it.

Under Bill English the party’s policy mellowed but that didn’t work. Under Don Brash policy moved in the other direction and it nearly worked.

It was a combination of growing disenchantment with Clark and her party, trust that National had swallowed some dead rats and enthusiasm for John Key which gave him the votes to be Prime Minister last year.

It’s partly what the government is doing but mostly who John Key is, that’s keeping poll support high.

Labour has to regain the disicpline the party had in government and stop doing stupid things to retain their bedrock support.

But there’s nothing they can do to attract back the swingers yet because Trotter is right: people like the image in the mirror.

False names & fake company polls with public money


Polling is a common practice for political parties and MPs are able to poll using public money.

But why hide behind false names and a fake company?

The Labour leadership is embroiled in a murky polling operation run by a senior MP who has instructed volunteers to deliberately deceive people about their identities and the reason for their calls.

The polls were being run from Parliamentary offices by former Cabinet minister Rick Barker, who has admitted instructing staff to use false names and claim they were calling from a company that no longer exists.

I don’t know if this could be considered false pretences but it’s definitely not a good look.

In case you’re wondering why the party was using public funds for what is obviously political ends, Labour is deeply in debt so doesn’t have party funds to use for polling.

You don’t have to force us


A quarter of all light bulbs in Otago homes are energy efficient and 84% of homes in New Zealand are using eco bulbs.

That’s the findings of a study conducted for the Electricity Commission.

Commission chairman David Caygill said changing all the old bulbs across the country could save householders $245 million a year.

“Most New Zealanders now recognise that inefficient lighting has been adding greatly to household power bills.”

Cost savings were the main reason for switching bulbs as an energy-efficient one used 80% less electricity and lasted six times as long as a standard bulb.

Who would have thought that people might work out that saving power saved money without the state forcing them into doing it?

The people behind mandatory country of origin labelling  (MCoOL) should take note. They think:

Mandatory country of origin labelling (MCoOL) is the only way to ensure the consumer gets to make the right choice for them, whether their purchase decision is based on product origin, the price, safety concerns, what the kids like, nutrition needs or just plain old flavour preference.

I can see what CoOL, mandatory or not, has to do with product origin and safety. But it’s likely to increase prices and has nothing to do with what the kids like, nutrition needs and flavour preference.

I like to know where the food I buy comes from and rarely buy something unless I’m satisfied about its country of origin. But that’s no reason to make CoOL mandatory.

If consumers want CoOL it’s up to us to let retailers know. Consumer pressure persuaded Food Stuffs to drop its plastic bag charge, it will also persuade them to have CoOL if enough of us stated demanding it.

There’s no need to force it on us. The bulb study shows most of us are quite capable of working out what’s best for us and acting on it.

P.S. – How’s this for a poll?

It’s from the CoOL website and while the rest of the page talks about mandatory labelling, the poll doesn’t.

 I’d answer yes to all the questions but if the final question had mandatory in it I’d answer no.

We’ll keep you up to date with any progress on our campaign.

 A quick poll

Have you ever considered where your food comes from?

yes  no

Would you like to know where your food comes from?

yes  no

Would Country of Origin food labelling be likely to affect your choice of purchase?

yes  no

Do you think Country of Origin labelling is a good idea for New Zealand?

yes  no




DOC duo dock rata


When the Queenstown Lakes District Council discovered a protected rata tree on Pigeon Island in Lake Wakatipu had been pruned by a chain saw it was not amused.

It wanted to prosecute the person or people responsible for attacking the 100 year-old tree.

Then the culprits confessed. They were DOC workers who’d been working on the island and had cut what they thought was dead wood from the tree to replenish the wood supply in the hut they’d been staying in.

The council decided not to prosecute but the men were disciplined and required to pay $1500 towards the cost of the investigation.

DOC’s often hard line approach to safeguarding native flora isn’t always appreciated by the public and there’s been little sympathy for the culprits.

The Southland Times opines:

. . . it is hard to imagine anything quite as extravagant as them being such a target for every wit and half-wit in the district, or the furrowed-brow reproach of their suddenly put-upon workmates in the department, who inevitably get roped in to the climate of public commentary.

No doubt their faces were as red as the rata flowers.

October 25 in history


On October 25:

1828 The St Katharine Docks opened in London.

1825 The Waltz King, Austrian composer Johann Strauss II, was born.

1838 Georges Bizet, French composer, was born.

1854 The Battle of Balaklava took place during the Crimean War (iCharge of the Light Brigade).

Charge of the Light Brigade.jpg
Charge of the Light Brigade by Richard Caton Woodville.

1864 John Francis Dodge, US automobile pioneer, was born.

1881 Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, was born.

1888 US polar explore, Richard E. Byrd, was born.

Lt com r e byrd.jpg

1917 The start of the  October Revolution, involving the capture of the Winter Palace, Petrograd, Russia.

 1938 The Archbishop of Dubuque, Francis J. L. Beckman, denounces Swing music as “a degenerated musical system… turned loose to gnaw away at the moral fiber of young people”, warning that it leads down a “primrose path to hell”.

1941 Australian singer Helen Reddy was born.

1941 US writer Anne Tyler was born.

1949 IHC was founded.

1971: The Christchurch-Dunedin overnight express, headed by a JA-class locomotive, ran the last scheduled steam-hauled service on New Zealand Railways (NZR), bringing to an end 108 years of regular steam rail operations in New Zealand.

 Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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