Adios, Anna


One blog often leads to another. 

Usually it’s a single, fleeting visit but  occasionally a post hooks you and you become a regular reader.

So it was with Annie Fox, the blog of Anna Woolf.

There among the posts on politics, people and places were many on her experiences with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

They were written with humour, honesty and courage.

Although I knew Anna only through her blog, I was really sad to read at Not PC that she has been transferred to a hospice.

Anna wrote realistically and without self pity about her symptoms, treatment, side effect and prognosis. She has been an inspiration.

Gracias y adios.



Born Free


Matt Monro would have been 79 today.

The film Born Free was released when I was at primary school, inspiring a genre of Safari games and dreams – which I eventually outgrew – of living in Africa.

The Rose


Happy Birthday Bette Midler – 65 today.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. What is a cutty sark (as distinct from the Cutty Sark)

2. Who is the patron saint of farmers? 

3. Who said, “There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.”?

4.Who wrote, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever?

5. What’s a kakaruwai?

Andrei got 2 which conincided with my answers. He also came up with four saints who concern themselves with farming matters, none of which was St Isodore which was my answer. But he’s a Catholic and got his from a book of saints and I’m a Presbyterian who got my answer from Wikipedia so I defer to him and award four bonuses.

Gravedodger got four right and a bonus for extra information for #1.

PDM gets 1/2. Cutty Sark is a brand of scotch but a (note the a) cutty sark (according to my father who was a Scot) is a short shirt.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Oamaru Mail goes online


The Oamaru Mail has gone online.

That was the paper which gave me my first job when I graduated from Canterbury University’s journalism school.

I wasn’t over enthusiastic about returning to the town I’d grown up in but it gave me a lot of experience I wouldn’t have got as a new reporter elsewhere. While classmates who started work on bigger papers got all the little stories I had three rounds of my own – farming, health and social welfare. I also had to do court and local body reporting when the chief reporter was away.

It was election year – 1981 – and among the people I interviewed were then deputy leader of the Labour Party, David Lange, and its president Jim Anderton.

The day the Prime Minister, Rob Muldoon was in town, Social Credit was having a meeting in Waimate. I had to go there to interview Bruce Beetham while the chief reporter covered Muldoon. 

The paper edition of the Mail is published Monday to Friday and it’s part of APN’s stable of regional newspapers.

Others are: Northern Advocate, The Aucklander, Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Daily Post, Hawkes Bay TodayStratford Press, Wairarapa Times-Age, Wanganui Chronicle and Star Canterbury.

Who’s got the rural power?


If I’d been compiling a Primary Sector Power List I’d have had Jacqueline Rowarth on it.

Director of Agriculture at Massey University and is the inaugural Federated Farmers’ agricultural personality of the year.

She was also one of the panelists who drew up the Listener’s 2009 Power List which is why she doesn’t appear on it.

The top spot on the Listener’s list of  people who wield the power in the primary sector went to Chris Kelly, Landcorp’s chief executive.

He’s followed by Henry Van der Heyden,  Peter and Andrew Talley, Alan Hubbard and Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper.

I wouldn’t have put anyone from SFF on that list. The company does very well with PR but its performance doesn’t match its rhetoric.

If you set aside the settlement from PGG Wrightson in compensation for the failed merger bid and other one-off payments the company’s operating profit for the year was only $5.1m.

Contrast that with Alliance Group which does very little PR but made an operating profit of $67.9m.

Sheep and beef farmers are very grumpy and with good reason. Last season’s long awaited increase in prices was short lived and this season’s forecasts aren’t looking very bright.  But most of the grumpiness and concern is from SFF shareholders and suppliers and I don’t think they’d be voting anyone from the company on to a power list.

Key tops Listener power list


It’s no surprise that Prime Minister John Key tops the Listener’s top 10 in its 2009 Power List.

The panel says he is:

being identified by leadership scholars as pioneering an entirely new style of political leadership in this country. Sceptics may cite his pragmatism as evidence of overt risk-aversion, but so far his reasonable, moderate demeanour and light-handed management has worked magic for the Government’s standing. He has been the polar opposite of Helen Clark, resisting both the micromanagement of others’ portfolios and playing favourites in the caucus. His cheerful tolerance of coalition partners’ ructions – “The bulk of people who come into politics have type-A personalities!” – has saved National from being embroiled in their crises.

Bill English is second followed by Alan Bollard, Rodney Hide, Steven Joyce and Rob Fyfe.

Then comes Michael Stiassny, the country’s senior receiver. The introduction to the list explains:

Perhaps the most telling detail about this year’s Power List . . .  is that a receiver (Micahel Stiassny) comes in at No 7. Yes, it has been a tough year; a year when debt became a dirty word, when old power bases were weakened by the recession. . .

Tariana Turia is ninth then John Whitehead and Peter Jackson. The top 10 has an 11th place – it’s filled by Phil Goff.

Then there’s those who have been delisted:

Craig Norgate who was 4th in the Business and economy section last year; Andrew West who was 3rd in agriculture  and Pat Snedden who was 4th in health and medicine.

The panel that selected the 2009 almanac of influence was chaired by Listener senior write Rebecca Macfie. Members were Lynn Freeman who hosts Radio NZ’s arts programme; Karl Du Fresne, Chris Wikaira, director of PR firm Busby Ramshaw Grice; Jane Clifton; Jacqueline Rowarth, Director of Agriculture at Massey; Bernard Hickey, Alan Isaac who chairs NZ Cricket, is a director of Wakefield Health, trsutee of NZ COmmunity Trust, chair of McGrathNicol & Co and advisor to Opus International; and Stephen Franks.

The full list and commentary won’t be online until Boxing Day. I subscribe to the magazine and if I didn’t I’d fork out the $3.90 for this issue.

2025 Taskforce wants more from Fonterra


The 2025 Taskforce report says Fonterra hasn’t lived up to its promise and it should convert to a conventional corporate structure.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s largest company. It is a private company, owned by its shareholders, and we have studiously avoided commenting on individual private companies elsewhere in this report.

However, Fonterra exists in its current dominant position only because of exceptions granted to the Commerce Act to allow it to form. The Dairy Industry Restructuring Act continues to influence it and the sector as a whole. 

Fonterra’s performance matters for New Zealand and in view of Parliament’s role in the creation of Fonterra, the Government has a legitimate strong interest in the future structure of the company in a way that it would not if a more competitive model had been adopted earlier. 

As with so many state-sponsored or facilitated businesses, Fonterra has not lived up to the promise sold to New Zealanders when it was allowed to form. 

We do not believe that in its present cooperative structure it can do so, and we believe it is important for the long-term health of the dairy industry in New Zealand, and hence for farmer shareholders, that a transition to a conventional corporate form with outside traded capital occurs expeditiously. 

That choice is one that is in the hands of farmers, but we believe it is important that the Government keeps legitimate pressure on, using any appropriate instruments to encourage the transition to be made. No consideration of accommodation for Fonterra on any other front should be countenanced until the transformation of the company is irreversibly underway.

I’m pleased the report acknowledges that the company is owned by its supplier shareholders and its future is in their hands.

Whatever anyone says about Fonterra’s role in the economy and its importance to New Zealand, farmers have shown little appetite for a public listing before and are unlikely to support the idea now.

I’m also intrigued that the recommendation for Fonterra is being made by a taskforce chaired by Don Brash. He is one of the men behind Oceania Dairy Group which is planning to build a milk processing plant near Waimate in South Canterbury.

I am not accusing him of any bias, in fact the opposite is the case. If Fonterra was operating as well as the 2025 Taskforce thinks it ought to be it would be much harder for new competitors to gain traction.

Criticism of Fonterra from farmers has quietened since the forecast pay out was increased but global prices are expected to fall when new season supplies from Europe and the USA reach the market early next year.

However, those unhappy with the co-operative are more likely to move their milk to another processor than to agitate for it to change its structure.

December 1 in history


On December 1:

1640  End of the Iberian Union: Portugal acclaimed João IV as King of Portugal, thus ending a 60 year period of personal union of the crowns of Portugal and Spain and the end of the rule of the House of Habsburg ( (also called the Philippine Dynasty).

1761 Marie Tussaud, French creator of wax sculptures (Madame Tussauds), was born.


1913 The Ford Motor Company introduced the first moving assembly line.

Ford Motor Company Logo.svg

1913  Crete, was annexed by Greece.

Location of Crete Periphery in Greece.

1918 The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) was proclaimed


Flag Coat of arms

1932 Matt Monro, English singer, was born.

1933 Pilot E. F. ‘Teddy’ Harvie and his passenger, Miss Trevor Hunter, set a record for the longest flight within New Zealand in a single day. They flew approximately 1880 kms from North Cape to Invercargill in a time of 16 hrs 10 mins.

1935 Woody Allen, American film director, actor, and comedian, was born.

1939 Lee Trevino, American golfer, was born.

1940  Richard Pryor, American actor, comedian, was born.

Richard Pryor (1986) (cropped).jpg

1945 Bette Midler, American actress and singer, was born.

1946  Gilbert O’Sullivan, Irish singer, was born.

1955 In Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white man and was arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation laws, an incident which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.


1969 The first draft lottery in the United States was held since World War II.

1973  Papua New Guinea gains self government from Australia.

1981  The AIDS virus iwa officially recognized.

1982 At the University of Utah, Barney Clark becomes the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart.


The CardioWest temporary Total Artificial Heart
1990 Channel Tunnel sections started from the United Kingdom and France met 40 metres beneath the seabed.
Course Channeltunnel en.svg
1998 Exxon announced a $73.7 billion USD deal to buy Mobil, thus creating Exxon-Mobil, the world’s largest company.
Exxon Mobil Logo.svg
 2001  Aiko, Princess Toshi of Japan, was born.
Imperial Coat of Arms

Sourced from NZ History ONline & Wikipedia.

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