PM’s literary awards for Cowley, McQueen & McNeish


Joy Cowley, Cilla McQueen and James McNeish received the annual Prime Minister’s Award for Literay Acheivement tonight.

Each receive $60,000 in recognition of their contribution to New Zealand literature.

Minister for Arts and Culture Christopher Finlayson, presenting the awards at Premier House on behalf of the Prime Minister, said the awards rewarded excellence and helped raise the profile of New Zealand writers.

These awards aren’t for a particular work, they recognise significant contribution to New Zealand literature over many years.

Previous winners are:

•Fiction: Janet Frame (2003), Maurice Gee (2004), Margaret Mahy (2005), Patricia Grace (2006), Fiona Farrell (2007), Lloyd Jones (2008), CK Stead (2009)

•Poetry: Hone Tuwhare (2003), Kevin Ireland (2004), Alistair Te Ariki Campbell (2005), Vincent O’Sullivan (2006), Bill Manhire (2007), Elizabeth Smithers (2008), Brian Turner (2009)

•Non-fiction: Michael King (2003), Anne Salmond (2004), Philip Temple (2005), Judith Binney (2006), Dick Scott (2007), WH (Bill) Oliver (2008), Dr Ranganui Walker (2009).

If you’re looking for some Labour Weekend reading I can recommend Cowley’s just-published memoir, Navigation.


Word of the day


Generica  – features of the built landscape (malls, motels, housing . . . ) which are exactly the same wherever you are.

Monday’s quiz


1. Who is the President of Chile?

2. Who is the patron saint of miners?

3. Who said, “The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.”?

4. It’s trabajador in Spanish, travailleur in French, lavoratore in Italian and kaimahi in Maori – what is it in English?

5. Who is the outgoing Director General of Agriculture & Forestry and who is his successor?

Strong rhetoric, fuzzy logic


Phil Goff has announced a change in policy which he says will mean most sales of land to foreigners will fail

“Buyers will have to prove that selling land to them will be good for our economy,” he told the conference.

“We will force would-be buyers of New Zealand rural land to invest in New Zealand and our people by bringing jobs, transferring technology, increasing exports or bringing other benefits.”

Force is a very strong word but he doesn’t explain how he’ll measure the benefits required of would-be buyers nor what will happen if promised benefits don’t eventuate.

That could be because Goff spent 15 years in past governments when thousands of hectares of farmland were sold to foreigners and he knows there is more to be gained than lost from it.

That isn’t stopping him from talking tough though:

“Labour will reverse the current approach to overseas sales of land,” he said at the party’s annual conference in Auckland.

“Instead of the overwhelming majority of farm sales being approved, the overwhelming majority will be declined.”

They would be rejected unless the overseas buyer of farm or forestry land also invested in significant further processing of primary products and brought new technology into New Zealand.”

About 75% of our forestry is already foreign-owned and most of our wool is sold unprocessed. But only a tiny percentage of farmland is the property of overseas investors who already have to pass strict criteria before they buy.

Goff”s rhetoric will touch a chord with the xenophobes but it might not make much difference to what happens now.

The Overseas Investment Office runs a very strict ruler over any applications from foreign-based buyers of farmland.

Applicants for consent must satisfy a number of criteria, including the core “investor test” criteria. In addition, consent to acquire sensitive land will only be granted if:

  • the transaction will, or is likely to, benefit New Zealand, or alternatively
  • the relevant overseas person intends to reside in New Zealand indefinitely.

Some types of land (such as farm land) also have specific consent criteria.

 Applicants have to jump some high  hurdles and those who get approval already bring in capital, introduce technology, employ locals, increase exports and/or bring other benefits.

Friends sold their farm to an international company which owns a lot of land in New Zealand and overseas.

This year they budgeted $980,000 for depreciation and will be spending $2.33 million on farm improvements, excluding maintenance fertiliser. That means things like machinery, houses and fences. It also includes planting tree seedlings on several hundred hectares of erosion prone land. These trees aren’t being planted for forestry, they may earn some carbon credits but they won’t be harvested, they are being planted to protect the land.

There wouldn’t be many New Zealand owned farms spending more than twice their depreciation on improvements and prepared to do that much for an environmental rather than economic return. If they did it would be a lot less than $2.33 million.

Some controls over foreign purchases is sensible. What we have now balances vendors’ rights to get the best price with the national interest.

Goff is responding to the xenophobic opposition to foreign ownership with strong rhetoric based on very fuzzy logic. Applying it to Australians, as he says he will, also contravenes our CER agreement and the reciprocal rights we have for land purchases there.

If he and his party really want most sales to foreigners to fail they need to explain how they will compensate for the lost investment and the cost of that to individual farmers and the country.

Conspiracy theory


Labour’s conference was a chance for the party and its leader to give the public reasons to vote for them.

Q & A interviewed Phil Goff who looked like he was trying, and failing, to defend the indefensible.

The Nation chose to interview Russel Norman and do a feature on Winston Peters.

If I was trying to draw up a list of reasons to vote for a Labour-led government neither Norman nor Peters would be on it.

October 18 in history


On October 18:

1009  The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem, was completely destroyed by the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, who hacked the Church’s foundations down to bedrock.

1016 The Danes defeated the Saxons in the Battle of Ashingdon.

1081  The Normans defeated the Byzantine Empire in the Battle of Dyrrhachium.

1210  Pope Innocent III excommunicated German leader Otto IV.


1356  Basel earthquake, the most significant historic seismological event north of the Alps, destroyed the town of Basel.

1386  Opening of the University of Heidelberg.


1561  Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima – Takeda Shingen defeated Uesugi Kenshin in the climax of their ongoing conflicts.

Sengoku period battle.jpg

1599 Michael the Brave, Prince of Wallachia, defeated the Army of Andrew Bathory in the Battle of Şelimbăr, leading to the first recorded unification of the Romanian people.

1648  Boston Shoemakers formed the first U.S. labour organization.

1748The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended the War of the Austrian Succession.

1767 Mason-Dixon line, survey separating Maryland from Pennsylvania was completed.


1775  African-American poet Phillis Wheatley freed from slavery.


1851  Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick was first published as The Whale.

1860 The Second Opium War  ended at the Convention of Peking with the ratification of the Treaty of Tientsin, an unequal treaty.

Convention of Peking.jpg

1867  United States took possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million. Celebrated annually in the state as Alaska Day.

Flag of Alaska State seal of Alaska

1898  United States took possession of Puerto Rico.

1912  The First Balkan War began.

1914  The Schoenstatt Movement was founded in Germany.


1919 Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 15th Prime Minister of Canada, was born (d. 2000).

1921  The Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed as part of the RSFSR.

1922 The British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation) was founded.

BBC logo

1924  Amateur radio operator Frank Bell sent the first trans-global radio transmission from Shag Valley, East Otago to London were it was received and replied to by amateur operator Cecil Goyder.

First trans-global radio transmission to London

1925  The Grand Ole Opry opened in Nashville, Tennessee.

Grand Ole Opry Logo 2005.png

1926 Chuck Berry, American musician, was born.

1927 George C. Scott, American actor, was born (d. 1999).

1929  Women were considered “Persons” under Canadian law.

1929 Violeta Chamorro, President of Nicaragua, was born.

1934 Inger Stevens, Swedish actress, was born (d. 1970).

1936 Adolf Hitler announced the Four Year Economic Plan to the German people. The plan details the rebuilding of the German military from 1936 to 1940.

1939 Lee Harvey Oswald, alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy, was born (d. 1963).


1944 – Adolf Hitler ordered the public funeral procession of Nazi field Marshall Erwin Rommel, commander of the Deutsches Afrika Korps

1945  The USSR’s nuclear programme received plans for the United States plutonium bomb from Klaus Fuchs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.


1945 – A group of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, led by Mario Vargas, Marcos Pérez Jiménez and Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, staged a coup d’état against then president Isaías Medina Angarita.

1954 The New Zealand Opera Group (later renamed NZ Opera Company) had its first opening night when it performed The Telephone in Wellington.

NZ Opera Group's first opening night

1954  Texas Instruments announced the first Transistor radio.

1967 The Soviet probe Venera 4 reached Venus and becomes the first spacecraft to measure the atmosphere of another planet.


1968 Bob Beamon set a world record of 8.90 m in the long jump at the Mexico City games.

1989 East German leader Erich Honecker resigned.


1991  Azerbaijan declared independence from USSR.

2003 Bolivian Gas War: President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, was forced to resign and leave Bolivia.


2007  Karachi bombings: attempted assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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