Word of the day


Saltus – breach of continuity in a sequence, especially the omission of a necessary step in a logical argument; jump to a conclusion.

Report confirms wisdom of decision to end travel perk


The independent investigation found no systemic abuse of the  MPs’ travel rebate by Pansy Wong and her husband Sammy.

Speaker Lockwood Smith said:

“The investigation, conducted for the Parliamentary Service by former senior public servant Hugh McPhail, looked into 13 international trips made by Pansy Wong and her husband together or separately since 2000. It found that one trip, a flight from Beijing to Lianyungang, China in December 2008, could have been in breach of the Speaker’s Directions.

“The report notes that while this trip was unplanned and inadvertent, it could be construed as having been for a private business purpose. It recommends that Pansy Wong and her husband should repay the travel rebate for that trip of $237.06 each.

“Otherwise, the report found no evidence that Pansy and Sammy Wong had not com plied with the Speaker’s Directions regarding private international travel,” Dr Smith said.

The investigation also looked at the use of the electorate office as the registered address for a ocmpany and found no evidence the office was ever used for private business purposes.

What looked like a large bomb has turned in to a small cracker albeit a  very costly one for Pansy who said:

“I apologise, and I will refund the level of rebate attributable to the section of the trip, which amounts to $237.06 each for my husband and myself,” Mrs Wong says.

“The experience of the past three weeks is not something that I would want to repeat.

“I am grateful for the support I have received from family, friends, supporters, and colleagues during this difficult period. . .

“While it is my hope to return to Cabinet, I understand that it has to be earned, and my energy and focus now will be used to serve the people of Botany and promoting the interests of ethnic communities across our country. I am looking forward to returning to Parliament.”

This episode was the last straw which showed up the faults in the travel rebate scheme.

MPs should be paid a reasonable a mount for the work they do, there should be an open and transparent process for paying work-related travel costs and private travel costs should be their business paid from their own funds.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog has more which shows the length the Wongs went to to comply with the rules and avoid any conflict of interest.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. What is Metrosideros excelsa?

2. Who said: “Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.”?

3. It’s ordenador in Spanish, ordinateur  in French and  rorohiko in Maori – what is it in English?

4. Who won the 2010 Rutherford Medal?

5. Name three of the five MPs who’ve just completed 20 years in parliament.

There I was offering a bonus electronic posy if anyone got # 2 because I thought it was a tough question, and three people got it.

James got two right.

Ray got four right, the bonus posy for answering #2 – and a you-could-say that for his answer to #5.

Andrei got three and a bonus posy.

Rob got two right, a bonus for knowing more than three of the MPs (though I think Robertson enetered parliament in’87 not ’90) and another bonus for humour.

David got three and a bonus for added information.

Zen got two with bonuses for extra French and humour and a bonus posy.

Paul got 3 /13 with a bonus for humour.

PDM got one for humour – but I hope he’s not prophetic.

The answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

We can’t carry another’s grief


Our flag hung at half mast yesterday and I stopped for the long two minutes of silence at the start of the service of remembrance for the miners and contractors who died in the Pike River mine.

I caught the first few minutes of the service on television then listened to the rest on the radio as we drove to Christchurch. I was moved by the simplicity and sincerity of the service and the messages given, not least of all that of Prime Minister John Key who said :

. . .  I want to thank all those people who rallied round to support the families of the miners. I know your work is not done and will continue for many months and years to come.

I want to thank those who worked so hard on the attempted rescue and especially those who were on standby to go into the mine. I know you wanted to bring your fellow miners home alive, but that was not to be.

I want to thank all those who offered support from throughout the country and indeed from around the world.

And I’d like to say something personal to the families of the lost miners, and in particular to those mothers of children who have so cruelly lost their fathers.

Amongst all your other emotions and pain there may be fear for your children growing up without the father who loved them.

Because I was such a child, I know that the absence of a parent is a heaviness you learn to carry in your own way.

It is a terrible thing to happen. But it doesn’t mean your children will not go on to live happy, worthwhile and fulfilling lives and, in time, experience joyfulness and love in new families, yet to be created.

And even if those children’s memories of their fathers fade, his legacy will live on in each one of them. . .

Whoever, thought of the 29 tables, one for each of the men who died,  was inspired. This, more than anything else brought home that while the country has been caught up in this tragedy because of the number who died, each was an individual.

Those of us who have looked and listened from a distance have been moved and saddened by those deaths, but we can’t carry the grief of the families and friends who have lost their husbands, sons, fathers, mates and neighbours. That grief is theirs.

We can give money and write messages from afar. Those who are  part of the community can give more practical support. All of that can help, but grief is personal and individual for each of those who have lost the one they loved and we can’t carry that for them.

Now the service is over there is talk of life getting back to normal, but normal isn’t normal anymore for the families and community.  The people left behind will need love and support from others as they adjust to the new norma; and  they will also need their own strength to carry their grief.

It will take time but the burden will get lighter and Joyce Grenfell’s words may help:

 Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So …. sing as well



10/10 in this week’s Dominion Post political quiz – just one lucky guess.

No need for complusion in labelling


The announcement that sow crates will be phased out has led to calls for country of origin labelling to differentiate local produced pork products from imports.

Supermarkets and butcheries could and should provide country of origin labelling as a service to their customers. It could also help with marketing but there is no need for compulsion.

If New Zealand producers label their produce as New Zealand produce they can then use the opportunity to differentiate it from pork products from overseas competitors who continue to use stalls.

Customers will be able to work out for themselves that if it isn’t branded as New Zealand produce it will be from somewhere else and make their decision on which bacon, ham or pork to purchase with that knowledge.

December 3 in history


On December 3:

1800 – War of the Second Coalition: Battle of Hohenlinden, French General Moreau defeated the Austrian Archduke John decisively, coupled with First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory at Marengo effectively forcing the Austrians to sign an armistice and ending the war.

Bataille de Hohenlinden.jpg

1838  Octavia Hill, British housing and open-space activist, was born (d. 1912).

1842 Charles Alfred Pillsbury, American industrialist, was born  (d. 1899).

1854 – Eureka Stockade: More than 20 gold miners at Ballarat were killed by state troopers in an uprising over mining licences.

Eureka stockade battle.jpg

1857 Joseph Conrad, Polish-born British writer, was born (d. 1924).

1863 The Land COnfiscation law was passed allowing the confiscation (raupatu) of Maori land as punishment of those North Island tribes who were deemed to have been in rebellion against the British Crown in the early 1860s.

Land confiscation law passed

1904 – The Jovian moon Himalia was discovered by Charles Dillon Perrine at California’s Lick Observatory.


1910 – Modern neon lighting was first demonstrated by Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show.

Photograph of glass tube that's been bent to form the connected letters "Ne". The tube is glowing brightly with a red color. 

1912 – Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia (the Balkan League) signed an armistice with Turkey, ending the two-month long First Balkan War.

1912 – First Balkan War: The Naval Battle of Elli.

Battle Elli.jpg

1917 –  Quebec Bridge opened to traffic.

1927 Andy Williams, American singer, was born.

1944 – Greek Civil War: Fighting in Athens between the ELAS and government forces supported by the British Army.


1948 Ozzy Osbourne, English singer, was born.

1949 Mickey Thomas, American singer (Jefferson Starship),was born.

1951  Nicky Stevens, British singer (Brotherhood of Man), was born.

1959 – The current flag of Singapore was adopted.


1964 – Berkeley Free Speech Movement: Police arrested over 800 students at the University of California, Berkeley, following their takeover and sit-in at the administration building in protest at the UC Regents’ decision to forbid protests on UC property.


1967 – At Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town a transplant team headed by Christiaan Barnard carried out the first heart transplant on a human (53-year-old Louis Washkansky).

1970 – October Crisis: In Montreal, Quebec, kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross was released by the Front de libération du Québec terrorist group after being held hostage for 60 days.

1971 – Indo-Pakistani War of 1971: Pakistan launched pre-emptive strike against India and a full scale war began.


1973 –  Pioneer 10 sent back the first close-up images of Jupiter.

Pioneer 10 at Jupiter.gif

1976 –  Byron Kelleher, New Zealand rugby union footballer, was born.

B Keller.jpg

1976 Mark Boucher, South African cricketer, was born.

Mark Boucher 4.jpg

1976 – An assassination attempt was made on Bob Marley.

Black and white picture of a man with long dreadlocks playing the guitar on stage.

1979 – In Cincinnati, Ohio, eleven fans were suffocated in a crush for seats on the concourse outside Riverfront Coliseum before a Who concert .

1982 – A soil sample was taken from Times Beach, Missouri that would be found to contain 300 times the safe level of dioxin.

1984 – Bhopal Disaster: A methyl isocyanate leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal  killed more than 3,800 people outright and injures 150,000–600,000 others (some 6,000 of whom would later die from their injuries) in one of the worst industrial disasters in history.


1990 – At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Northwest Airlines Flight 1482 collided with Northwest Airlines Flight 299 on the runway, killing 7 passengers and 1 crew member aboard flight 1482.

1992 – UN Security Council Resolution 794 iwa unanimously passed, approving a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers led by the United States to form UNITAF, with the task of establishing peace and ensuring that humanitarian aid is distributed in Somalia.

1992 – The Greek oil tanker Aegean Sea, carrying 80,000 tonnes of crude oil, runs aground in a storm while approaching La Coruña, Spain, and spilt much of its cargo.


1997 – Representatives from 121 countries signed The Ottawa treaty prohibiting manufacture and deployment of anti-personnel landmines. 

Ottawa Treaty members.svg

1999 – NASA lost radio contact with the Mars Polar Lander moments before the spacecraft enteredthe Martian atmosphere.

1999 – Six firefighters were killed in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire.

2005 – XCOR Aerospace made first manned rocket aircraft delivery of US Mail in Mojave, California.


2007 – Winter storms caused the Chehalis River to flood many cities in Lewis County, Washington, also closing a 20-mile portion of Interstate 5 for several days and casuing at least eight deaths and billions of dollars in damages.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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