Word of the day

November 29, 2010

Mabsoot – a happy person.

Power Trans Tasman’s politician of year

November 29, 2010

Simon Power tops Trans Tasman’s 2010 roll call of politicians and is named their politician of the year.

Power gets the top ranking thanks to his towering performance in Parliament and the sheer volume of the legislative work he has done. He has taken more Bills through Parliament than any other Minister, accounting for one third of the Government’s legislation in 2010. He is the lock to Key’s flashier winger’s performance. Trans Tasman says of Power “An outstanding Minister. Huge workload includes reforming the Justice system and market regulation as well as law reform. He is looking more and more like a leader in waiting.”

He gets 9 out of 10 in the roll call as does John Key who also scored 9 last year.

Bill English, who has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of entering parliament, went up from 8 to 8.5 and was commended for the work he has done on tax reform and steering the country through the worst recession since the 1930s.

Honourable mention must also be made of Gerry Brownlee who has had another strong year in trying circumstances. “Brownlee gives the impression he is growing into the job, his media management has improved and so has his running of Parliament as leader of the House.” He stays on a rating of 8 out 10.

Other Ministers to go up in the ratings are Tony Ryall, to 8.5, Nick Smith, to 8, Judith Collins to 7.5, Chris Finlayson to 7.5, David Carter to 7, Murray McCully to 8, Tim Groser to 7.5 (no love lost between that pair), Wayne Mapp to 6 and Kate Wilkinson to 5.

Among MPs whose score improved this year was Eric Roy who was described as: 

An Associate Speaker who handles the House with patience and good grace, and this often isn’t easy. His experience is respected, his demeanour is appreciated.

On the whole National scored better than Labour.

For the Record, 30 National MPs managed to boost their scores this year, 13 stayed on the same score and 15 went down.

For Labour a much better performance – last year not one MP improved on their 2008 score. This year 26 of the 42 boosted their scores, 10 stayed the same and 5 went down.

National managed to get 32 of its 58 MPs over the 5 mark this year, improving on the 20 who made it last year – 26 of them were under the 5 mark. For Labour another relatively low scoring year, with just 15 MPs over 5 out of the Party’s complement of 42 – 26 rated below 5.

Some MPs will feel undervalued by their ranking and assessment. The judgement is made by Trans Tasman’s Editors on the basis of MPs’ performance in Caucus, Cabinet, Committee, The House and Electorate and the influence they bring to bear in their various forums. Roll Call is compiled by Trans Tasman’s team of writers and Parliamentary insiders, with a final decision on each ranking arrived at after much discussion.

I don’t know these people but I have no doubt about their knowledge and impartiality. However, as my previous post pointed out good electorate MPs do a lot of hard work which may be appreciated by those they help but largely goes unnoticed by anyone else.

Some of those not particularly well ranked have very good majorities which shows their constituents value them more highly than the pundits do.

All in a day’s work

November 29, 2010

Friends were having problems with a government department.

They approached their MP, Jacqui Dean, who listened to what they said, asked a few questions to clarify some points and said she’d do her best to sort it out.

An email arrived a few days later showing she’d been successful.

There’s nothing unusual in this. It’s what good MPs and their staff do for their constituents every day.

It won’t show up in Trans Tasman’s annual roll call which is due out today.

It’s not the sort of thing which usually makes headlines or gets any acknowledgement.

It has nothing to do with politics, it’s all about public service.

Science success should be celebrated like sporting success

November 29, 2010

If someone had won hundreds of thousands of dollars for sporting achievement a few days ago they’d now be household names. But how many know who Professor Sir Paul Callaghan, Dr Robin Dykstra,  Dr Mark Hunter, Dr Andrew Coy and Dr Craig Eccles are?

The first three are from Victoria University, the other two are from Magritek and together they won the Prime Minister’s Science prize worth $500,000.

Scientists who have turned world-leading research into a multi-million dollar technology company have won the top award at the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes, New Zealand’s most prestigious and valuable science awards.

Prime Minister John Key today announced the prizes, which have total prize money of $1 million, at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Clubrooms in Auckland.

The top award, the Prime Minister’s Science Prize, went to the Magnetic Resonance Innovation team of Victoria University of Wellington and spin-off company Magritek.

Magnetic resonance uses radio waves and magnetic fields to find out information about molecules.  Discoveries by the team are widely used in medicine and science, and have applications in agriculture and industry.

Magritek are selling products based on magnetic resonance around the world, with the company rapidly growing and generating millions in export revenues.

Others recognised with an award were:

  • Bailey Lovett, 17, of James Hargest College in Invercargill who won the Prime Minister’s 2010 Future Scientist Prize and received $50,000 towards her university studies.
  •  Steve Martin, Howick College, won the Prime Minister’s 2010 Science Teacher Prize. He received $50,000 and his school received  $100,000.
  • Dr Donna Rose Addis, University of Auckland won the Prime Minister’s 2010 MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist and received $200,000, with $150,000 to be used for research.
  •  Dr Cornel de Ronde, GNS Science won the Prime Minister’s 2010Science Media Communications Prize. He received $100,000, half of which of which will be used to develop his science communication skills.

In announcing the awards the PM said the prizes recognise the winners and highlight the importance of science to this country.

They do, but these and other top scientists and their achievements still don’t get the publicity and public appreciation they deserve. Nor do they achieve the hero status accorded to their sporting equivalents.

They should.

November 29 in history

November 29, 2010

On November 29:

800 – Charlemagne arrived at Rome to investigate the alleged crimes of Pope Leo III.

939 – Edmund was crowned King of England as his half-brother Aethelstan died.

1394 – The Korean king Yi Song-gye, founder of the Joseon-Dynasty, moved the capital from Kaesŏng to Hanyang, today known as Seoul.

1777 – San Jose, California, was founded as el Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe.

1781 – The crew of the British slave ship Zong murdered 133 Africans by dumping them into the sea in order to claim insurance.


1807 – The Portuguese Royal Family left Lisbon to escape from Napoleonic troops.

1830 – November Uprising: An armed rebellion against Russia’s rule in Poland began.


1832  Louisa May Alcott, American novelist, was born (d. 1888).

1845 – The Sonderbund was defeated by the joint forces of other Swiss cantons under General Guillaume-Henri Dufour.


1847 – Whitman Massacre: Missionaries Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and 15 others were killed by Cayuse and Umatilla Indians, causing the Cayuse War.


1849  Sir John Ambrose Fleming, British physicist, was born (d. 1945).

1850 – The treaty, Punctation of Olmütz, signed in Olomouc meant diplomatic capitulation of Prussia to Austrian Empire, which took over the leadership of German Confederation.

1864 – Indian Wars: Sand Creek Massacre – Colorado volunteers led by Colonel John Chivington massacred at least 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho noncombatants.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Spring Hill – Confederate advance into Tennessee missed the opportunity to crush the Union army.

1872 – Indian Wars: The Modoc War began with the Battle of Lost River.

1877 – Thomas Edison demonstrated his phonograph for the first time.

1890 – The Meiji Constitution went into effect in Japan and the first Diet convened.


1893 Elizabeth Yates became the first woman in the British Empire to win a mayoral election when she became Mayor of Onehunga.

First woman mayor in British Empire elected

1893 – Ziqiang Institute, today known as Wuhan University, was founded by Zhang Zhidong.

1898  C. S. Lewis, Irish writer, was born(d. 1963).

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis

1899 – Spanish football club FC Barcelona was founded by Joan Gamper.

1910 – The first US  patent for inventing the traffic lights system was issued to Ernest E. Sirrine.

1913 – Fédération Internationale d’Escrime, the international organizing body of competitive fencing was founded in Paris.


1915 – Fire destroyed most of the buildings on Santa Catalina Island, California.

1917  Merle Travis, American singer/guitarist, was born (d. 1983).

1922 – Howard Carter opened the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun to the public.

1929 – U.S. Admiral Richard Byrd becamed the first person to fly over the South Pole.

Lt com r e byrd.jpg

1932 Jacques Chirac, French President, was born.

1933 John Mayall, British blues musician, was born.


1943 – The second session of AVNOJ, the Anti-fascist council of national liberation of Yugoslavia, was held determining the post-war ordering of the country.

1944 – The first surgery (on a human) to correct blue baby syndrome was performed by Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas.

1944 – Albania was liberated by the Albanian partisans.

1945 – The Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was declared.

Flag Coat of arms

1947 – The United Nations General Assembly voted to partition Palestine (The Partition Plan).

1950 – Korean War: North Korean and Chinese troops force United Nations forces to retreat from North Korea.

1952 – Korean War: U.S. President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled a campaign promise by traveling to Korea to find out what can be done to end the conflict.

1961 – : Mercury-Atlas 5 Mission – Enos, a chimpanzee, was launched into space.


1963 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson established the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

1963 – Trans-Canada Airlines Flight 831: A Douglas DC-8 carrying 118, crashed after taking-off.

1965 – Canadian Space Agency launched the satellite Alouette 2.

1972 – Nolan Bushnell (co-founder of Atari) released Pong (the first commercially successful video game) in Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, California.


1987 – Korean Air Flight 858 exploded over the Thai-Burmese border, killing 155.

1990 – The United Nations Security Council passed United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, authorizing “use all necessary means to uphold and implement” United Nations Security Council Resolution 660″ to restore international peace and security” if Iraq did not withdraw its forces from Kuwait and free all foreign hostages by January 15, 1991.

2007 – The Armed Forces of the Philippines laid siege to The Peninsula Manila after soldiers led by Senator Antonio Trillanes staged a mutiny.

2007 – A 7.4 magnitude earthquake off the northern coast of Martinique.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

Just wondering . . .

November 28, 2010

. . .  if anyone actually reads and understands the licence agreement on software upgrades before clicking yes I have read and understood the licence agreement.

Brash mis-reported again

November 28, 2010

An email arrived yesterday saying: I gave a speech this evening to the Orewa branch of the National Party.  Because the electorate chair had made it clear that it was open to the media, several journalists now have copies of it, so I am sending it to a wider group of friends so that you know what I actually said, not just what the media say I said!

It came from Don Brash and when I read the Herald on Sunday this morning I can see why he did that.

The headline says: Brash attacks Maori again.

The intro says:

Former National leader Don Brash attacked Maori in a provocative speech to party faithful at Orewa last night – returning to the issues that propelled him to the leadership six years ago.

Titled Return to Orewa, Brash said Maori have no special rights and there was no grounds for a separate Maori political party.

Further down he is quoted directly:

“The whole concept of a racially based political party would be seen as grossly inappropriate if wanted by any other race than Maori,” he said. “What would be the reaction if a group of New Zealanders of European background decided to set up a ‘European New Zealanders’ Party’?

“There would be outcry, and rightly so.”

Brash said general legislation, such as the Resource Management Act, which requires local councils to consult their communities and Maori separately, should be “insulting” and “patronising” to Maori people.

“The Maori electorates were established for a five-year period in 1867. There is no logic for them at all 143 years later.”

The headline and intro are opinion which in my view misconstrue what he said and the story does not give context to his remarks with this:

National campaigned in at least the last three elections on the principle that all New Zealanders are equal before the law. That principle was enshrined in Article III of the Treaty of Waitangi, which guaranteed that all New Zealanders would have the rights and privileges of British subjects.

Let me say to avoid the slightest ambiguity that I have always supported the Treaty settlement process. I still do. There were clearly gross injustices committed historically, and where those can be established beyond reasonable doubt, compensation should be paid to the descendants of those affected. One can debate how big those settlements should be, but I don’t think any fair person can object to the principle of compensation, provided of course that it is both fair and final.

But there is absolutely no case that I can see for treating Maori people differently in general legislation, as is done for example in the Resource Management Act, which enjoins local councils to consult with their communities and with Maori. If I were Maori, I would find that grossly insulting language, patronizing, and implying as it does that Maori are not part of the community.

Nor are there any grounds for separate Maori political representation, in Parliament or anywhere else. The Maori electorates were established for a five year period in 1867. There is no logic for them at all 143 years later. Maori are absolutely capable of being elected to Parliament on their own merits, and when I was in Parliament there were 21 Members of Parliament with Maori ancestry, only seven of them elected in the separate Maori electorates.

 And of course, the same principle applies to local government. Here in Auckland at the recent election, and without any special legislation, Maori achieved the proportion of elected representatives on the new Council that their numbers warrant.

You can agree of not with what he said but those views are not an attack on Maori.

He is not suggesting they have fewer rights than any other New Zealanders, he is criticising legislation which gives them more.

A European, or any other racially based party would be seen as grossly inappropriate.

It could be seen as insulting and patronising that Maori have to be consulted separately because it suggests they don’t have the same rights and abilities as anyone else.

The Maori seats were established for a five-year period more than 100 years ago, there is no longer any logic for them and the Commission which designed MMP recommended that they went when MMP was introduced.

Like Don I support the settlement of past grievances. Some appalling things were done in the past and while individually no-one today is responsible for that, as a country we do have a responsibility to make amends and pay compensation.

The Maori culture must be respected and protected – if we don’t do it here it won’t be done anywhere else.

The the over representation of Maori in negative statistics and under representation in positive ones must be addressed.

It would be racist to say Maori are not New Zealanders or treat them as anything but New Zealanders. It is racist to treat any group of New Zealanders as anything other than New Zealanders.

Regardless of what happened in the past and any problems there are now, we have to be very, very careful about treating any group as special or different. Special  or different for supposedly positive reasons can very easily become special and different for negative ones.

%d bloggers like this: