Word of the day


Haruspication – divination from natural phenomena, especially the inspection of animal entrails.

ipredict picks Parata for Cabinet – updated


Hekia Parata is the most likely to replace Pansy Wong as a Minister according to ipredict.

She’s given a 97.52% chance of becoming a Minister.

Other picks are: Simon Bridges 2.74%; Chris Tremain 2.48%; Craig Foss 2.48% and Amy Adams 1.74%.

Pansy Wong’s chance of getting back into Cabinet are rated at 1.34%.


ipredict was right:

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Hekia Parata is to be appointed a Minister in Cabinet.

“Ms Parata takes over the Ethnic Affairs and Women’s Affairs portfolios previously held by Pansy Wong. She will also be Associate Minister for ACC, of Energy and Resources and for the Community and Voluntary Sector,” Mr Key says.

Ms Parata’s role as Associate Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector follows discussions with Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Tariana Turia, who requested an associate in this portfolio. It is no longer considered necessary to have an associate in Mrs Turia’s Disability Issues portfolio.

Ms Parata will be sworn in on Wednesday afternoon by Her Excellency the Administrator of the Government.

“Ms Parata has a strong background in the public service and has also been a successful businesswoman.

“Her competence and ability were highlighted by the excellent result she achieved for the National Party in the recent Mana by-election, after running an outstanding campaign.

This is a swift promotion after only two years in parliament but it is well deserved.

We can’t spend our way out of this


Cutting personal taxes and increasing GST was designed to encourage us to save more and spend less.

It seems to be working:

Larger than forecast deficits in the Crown’s financial statements reinforces the need for tight fiscal discipline alongside the Government’s ongoing efforts to move resources to frontline services, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Lower than forecast tax revenue combined with the fiscal impact of the Canterbury earthquake have contributed to a $4.4 billion operating deficit before gains and losses in the four months to 30 October.

“The $1.1 billion lower-than-forecast tax take is largely the result of lower than expected business profits and lower GST as New Zealanders spend less and save more,” Mr English says.

The drop in revenue is partly offset by $440 million lower than forecast government spending.

“While the Government’s books have taken a hit from the effects of lower consumption and increased household saving, this trend creates a strong platform for faster growth in the medium and longer term as we rebalance the economy towards savings, productive investment and exports.

“However lower consumption, a weaker global outlook and the fiscal impacts of the Canterbury earthquake will mean slightly lower growth and slightly higher deficits in the short term before improvements show through.

“This reinforces the need for sound financial management and ongoing discipline in Government spending if we are to get back to surplus by 2016. That is why the Government is committed to spending restraint for the foreseeable future.

“In the New Year the Government will consider further decisions around how to increase efficiency in the public sector and how it manages some of its large and growing expenses.

“This will be assisted by report of the Welfare Working Group, the Government’s review of spending on policy and the ongoing response to the report of the Housing Shareholders Advisory Group,” Mr English says.

Whatever prescription the government comes up with, we can’t spend our way out of this.

Over taxing and over spending by the previous administration were major contributors to the sorry state of the national accounts, continued fiscal rectitude has to be part of the solution.

Spot the difference


There’s this version:

Six people have died on the roads this weekend – two of the deaths after police pursuits.

There is another version: Six people have died on the roads this weekend – two of the deaths after drivers fled police.

Then there’s this version:

Police Minister Judith Collins says she’s confident the police are doing all they can to ensure public safety, despite the deaths of 19 people this year following police chases.

Which could have been written:  . . .  despite the deaths of 19 people this year after drivers fled police

The second puts the blame where it should be.

Let’s make New Zealander count


If Paul Henry’s implication that the Governor General didn’t look like a New Zealander was abhorrent, what do we think of the official view that only Maori or Pakeha/European New Zealanders are Kiwis?

An online survey I completed recently asked respondents to indicate their ethnicity. The options were:

New Zealand Maori, New Zealand Euorpean, Other European (including Australian), Cook Island Maori, Samoan, Fijian, Other Pacific Island, Chinese, Indian, Other Asian, Niuean, Tongan, Other ethnic group.

This notion that you’re only a New Zealander if you’re of Maori or European descent is common in surveys and official forms. Some don’t even consider Maori as New Zealanders. Anyone who put New Zealander as their ethnic group on a census was counted as European until 2006.

Before the last census was carried out it was announced that one of the options for ethnicity would be New Zealander and there it was  -right at the end after European, Maori, Asian, Other including MELLA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African – Other (including New Zealander).

The notes on the census data explain:

New Zealander was introduced as a new response for the 2006 Census . . . for 2001 and previous Censuses “New Zealander” was counted with the “European” category.

That was the official view – only those of European descent could be New Zealanders. The new category is an improvement on that, but only just – New Zealander comes last.

So what is ethnicity? The  2006 census definition is:

‘Ethnicity’ is the ethnic group or groups that people identify with or feel they belong to. Ethnicity is a measure of cultural affiliation, as opposed to race, ancestry, nationality or citizenship. Ethnicity is self-perceived and people can belong to more than one ethnic group.

As opposed to race, ancestry, nationality or citizenship .” That’s pretty clear, so why is New Zealander, not the first option?

My cultural affiliation has nothing at all to do with my race – that’s just a genetic lottery which gives me blondish hair, fair skin and blue eyes. It does have a lot to do with my nationality but it’s much more than that. It’s not how I look and only partly where I was born. It’s much more about what makes me who I am and how I feel.

If the census wanted race then I’d answer European. But it’s not asking for race, it wants the ethnic group or groups that people identify with or feel they belong to and my first answer for that is New Zealander.  If pushed to be more specific I might add of Scottish descent but I’d never answer European.

Preparations are underway for next year’s census – which is going to give us the option of an on-line response –  but the government statistician has decided there will be no change to the ethnicity question:

A review of the official ethnicity statistical standard was initiated by Statistics NZ in 2008, after ‘New Zealander’ responses in the last census rose to 11.1 percent, from 2.4 percent in 2001. The scope of the review was wider than census but was used in conjunction with the census cognitive testing and research programme in decision-making for the 2011 Census. For more information about the research completed by the review and what this involved, see the Final Report of a Review of the Official Ethnicity Statistical Standard 2009.

In the review, most key users of census data stated that the format of the census ethnicity question should remain unchanged. They emphasised the importance of consistency in statistics across the Official Statistics System and the comparability of the ethnicity measure over time. These views reflect concerns that even a minor change in a questionnaire’s format can have unintended but significant impacts on responses and subsequent statistical outputs.
Some submissions to the review expressed a desire for greater visibility for ‘New Zealander’ responses. As with outputs from the 2006 Census, this will be done by having ‘New Zealander’ as a separate category (under ‘Other’) in several of the 2011 Census outputs. For an example of how ‘New Zealander’ responses in the 2006 Census were output, see QuickStats About a Place on the Statistics NZ website.

Statistics NZ will not be adding a ‘national identity’ question or related measure to the 2011 Census. Results from cognitive and other question testing for the 2011 Census indicates that the inclusion of a national identity question as a filter to the ethnicity question would have no notable effect on respondents’ approach to the latter, and would add little value in terms of producing output data that is fit-for-use.

I understand the need for consistency of categories so that people who use the stats collected can make comparisons, follow trends and make plans. But there is no point in consistency if it’s based on the false assumption that race dictates ethnicity, especially when the official explanation says:

An ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • a common proper name 
  • one or more elements of common culture which need not be specified, but may include religion, customs, or language
  • unique community of interests, feelings, and actions
  •  a shared sense of common origins or ancestry 
  • a common geographic origin.

I doubt if European covers any of those.

Being a New Zealanders means those of us of many different races share elements of common culture, unique communities of interest, feelings and actions and a common geographic origin. Some of us will also have a shared sense of common origins or ancestry and proper name. All those things we share depend on where and how we live now not where our ancestors happened to come from. It’s not about how we look but how we feel.

The race-based bias to options for ethnicity, contradicts the the explanations of what it is. Problems because of that will only get worse as our country becomes more multi-cultural and those born here identify more with New Zealand than the countries and cultures of their parents, grand parents or great-grandparents.

How would you feel if you think you’re a New Zealander but official forms keep telling you you’re not?

It’s too late to change the options for next year’s census but we can encourage people to opt for New Zealander and campaign to ensure that New Zealander becomes the first choice on forms in the future.

The United States might not be a model for race relations but they have got one thing right – they may be a variety of Americans (Native, Afro, Jewish, Irish . . . ) but they are Americans. Australia also counts people as Australians while also acknowledging there may be different categories within that broad classification.

We are and should be counted as New Zealanders. If  counting what we have in common doesn’t work for the statiticians and planners, let them then filter for differences and determine if we’re Maori, Pakeha/European, Pacific, Asian . . .  New Zealanders but let New Zealander count.

December 6 in history


On December 6:

1060 – Béla I of Hungary was crowned king of Hungary.

1240 – Mongol invasion of Rus: Kiev under Danylo of Halych and Voivode Dmytro fell to the Mongols under Batu Khan.

Gengis Khan empire-en.svg

1534 The city of Quito in Ecuador was founded by Spanish settlers led by Sebastián de Belalcázar.


1648 Colonel Pride of the New Model Army purged the Long Parliament of MPs sympathetic to King Charles I  in order for the King’s trial to go ahead; –  “Pride’s Purge“.

Colonel Thomas Pride refusing admission to the Presbyterian members of the Long Parliament.

1704 – Battle of Chamkaur.

1745 – Charles Edward Stewart’s army began retreat during the second Jacobite Rising.


1768 The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was published.

Encyclopædia Britannica logo.jpg  

1849 American abolitionist Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery.

1865 – The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, banning slavery.


1877  The first edition of the Washington Post was published.


1877 – Thomas Edison created the first recording of a human voice, reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.


1884 The Washington Monument in Washington D.C. was completed.

1897  London became the world’s first city to host licenced taxicabs.

1900  Agnes Moorehead, American actress, was born.


1907 –  A coal mine explosion at Monongah, West Virginia killed 362 workers.

1917 Finland declared independence from Russia.

1917  Halifax Explosion: A munitions explosion killed more than 1900 people and destroyed part of the City of Halifax.

1921 The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in London by British and Irish representatives.

1922 The Irish Free State came into existence

Flag Coat of arms

1933 U.S. federal judge John M. Woolsey ruled that the James Joyce‘s novel Ulysses was not obscene.


1935 New Zealand’s first Labour government took office with Michael Josepph Savage as Prime Minister.

1947 The Everglades National Park in Florida was dedicated.

1956 – Aged 14, swimmer Sandra Morgan became the youngest Australian to win an Olympic gold medal.

Olympic logo 1956.png

1957 –  A launchpad explosion of Vanguard TV3 thwarted the first United States’ attempt to launch a satellite into Earth orbit.

Vanguard rocket exlodes.jpg

1965 – Pakistan’s Islamic Ideology Advisory Committee recommended that Islamic Studies be made a compulsory subject for Muslim students from primary to graduate level.

1967Adrian Kantrowitz performed the first human heart transplant in the United States.

1975 – Balcombe Street Siege: An IRA Active Service Unit took a couple hostage in Balcombe Street, London.

1977 – South Africa granted independence to Bophuthatswana, although it was not recognized by any other country.

1978 – Spain approved its latest constitution in a referendum.


1982 – Droppin Well bombing: The Irish National Liberation Army detonated a bomb in Ballykelly, killing eleven British soldiers and six civilians.

1988 – The Australian Capital Territory was granted self-government.

1989 The École Polytechnique Massacre (or Montreal Massacre): an anti-feminist gunman murdered 14 young women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal.

commemorative plaque in polished stone, deeply engraved with in circle with 14 small silver disks distributed around the circle. Inside, and under the university's logo and the legend "In Memoriam" are the names of the 14 victims and the date of the massacre 

 1992 – Extremist Hindu activists demolished Babri Masjid – a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya, India which had been used as a temple since 1949.

Babri Mosque 

1997 – A Russian Antonov An-124 cargo plane crashed into an apartment complex near Irkutsk, Siberia, killing 67.

1998 – Hugo Chávez Frías, Venezuelan military officer and politician, was elected President of Venezuela.

2005 – Several villagers were shot dead during protests in Dongzhou, China.

2006 – NASA revealed photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars.


2008 – The 2008 Greek riots broke out upon the murder of a 15-year-old boy, Alexandros Grigoropoulos.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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