Pike River mine too unsafe for recovery


When people die farewelling them properly is an important part of the grieving process and that is almost always less difficult if those who love them are able to see the bodies.

The announcement this evening that  police have decided it is too unsafe to enter the Pike River mine and the recovery effort will be abandoned means their families won’t have that comfort.

Given that determined recovery efforts have been going on for nearly two months with little progress the announcement isn’t surprising. But it will still be devastating for the families and friends of the men who died and all those who’ve worked so hard to recover the bodies.

If there is anything good in this announcement it is that a decision has been made, even if it’s not the one everyone was hoping for.

Now, in Mary Lee Hall’s words, it’s time to Turn Again To Life

If I should die and
Leave you here awhile
Be not like others sore undone,
Who keep long vigils
By the silent dust and weep.
For my sake turn again
To life and smile
Nerving thy heart
And trembling hand to do
Something to comfort
Other hearts than thine.
Complete these dear
Unfinished Tasks of mine,
And I, perchance
May therein comfort you.

Word of the day


Acalculia – inability to work with numbers; an acquired impairment characterised by difficulty in performing mathematical tasks.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who was the 2010 New Zealander for the Year?

2. What is a Malus domestica?

3. Who wrote Flowers For Mrs Harris?

4. Who said:  “A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.”

5. Doug and Rowland Smith broke which record this week?

NZ 4th in world for economic freedom


New Zealand has retained fourth place  in the 2011 index of economic freedom.

The Asia Pacific leads the world.  Hong Kong retained first place with a freedom score of 89.7 followed by Singapore (87.2), Australia (82.5) and New Zealand (82.3).

Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, the USA and Bahrain were the others in the top 10.

The Heritage Foundation which complies the index bases its measurement on three fundamental principles of economic freedom—empowerment of the individual, non-discrimination, and open competition:

In an economically free society, each person controls the fruits of his or her own labor and initiative. Individuals are empowered—indeed, entitled—to pursue their dreams by means of their own free choice. In an economically free society, individuals succeed or fail based on their individual effort and ability. The institutions of a free and open society do not discriminate against—or in favor of—individuals based on their race, ethnic background, gender, class, family connections, or any other factor unrelated to individual merit. Government decision-making is characterized by open­ness and transparency, and the bright light of equal opportunity replaces the shadows where discrimination can be most insidious.

In an economically free society, the power of economic decision-making is widely dispersed, and the allocation of resources for production and consumption is on the basis of free and open competition so that every individual or firm has a fair chance to succeed.

New Zealand is  one of only six of the 179 countries graded which is regarded as totally free with a score above 80.

With ratings between 70 and 80, the next 27 countries are “mostly free.” These 33 economies provide institutional environments in which individuals and private enterprises enjoy a substantial degree of economic freedom in the pursuit of greater prosperity and success. An equal number of countries are divided between “moderately free” and “mostly unfree,” accounting, in the middle of the distribution, for the largest share of the countries graded in the Index—114 countries. With scores below 50, there are 32 countries that remain economically “repressed.”

New Zealand went up 0.2 on last year’s score with 99.9 for business freedom, 86.6 for trade freedom, 64.7 for fiscal freedom, 49.3 for Government spending, 84.8 for monetary freedom, 80.0 for investment freedom, 80.0  financial freedom,  95.0 for property rights, 94.0 for freedom from corruption and 89.2 for labour freedom.

This shows the area where New Zealand must do beter is government spending. That could be used to good effect in the election campaign against those misguided politicians who think they can tax and spend their way to prosperity.

The report shows economic freedom advanced this year, regaining  much of the momentum lost during the fiscal crisis and global reces­sion.

 Many governments around the world have rededicated themselves to fiscal sound­ness, openness and reform, and the majority of countries are once again on a positive path to greater freedom. . .

. . .  Along with Hong Kong and Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Canada have solidified their status as the world’s “free” economies. These top six econ­omies are the only countries to achieve scores above 80 on the 0 to 100 economic freedom grad­ing scale. Hong Kong was able to uphold its status as the world’s freest economy, a position it has held for 17 consecutive years. Singapore remains a close second, narrowing the gap with Hong Kong. Australia and New Zealand have maintained their previous rankings of 3rd and 4th in the 2011 Index, while Switzerland climbed up to the 5th spot, overtaking Ireland, which fell to 7th place.The relative strength of the “free” economies is no accident. Their strong com­mitment to all facets of economic freedom has endowed their economies with a high degree of resilience. All are recovering rapidly from the shocks of the global slowdown.

There is an important message here for those who think restrictions on people or businesses will help our economic recovery and the report also links economic freedom with environmental gains showing a free economy is a clean economy:

Environmental protection has become synonymous with big government: massive environmental statutes and global treaties, volumes of expansive and expensive regulations, and armies of bureaucrats micromanaging the private sector in an effort to reduce pollution. This certainly describes nearly all of the existing policies for addressing environmental concerns as well as most pending proposals dealing with global warming.

However, the Index of Economic Freedom strongly suggests that this command and control approach to “going green” is a fundamentally misguided one. It is the nations whose economies are ranked as most free that do the best to protect the environment, while the least free ones do the worst. Thus, the same free-market principles that have proven to be the key to economic success can also deliver environmental success and point the way to an approach that advances both concerns.

Not only is economic freedom and environmental protection not mutually exclusive, economic prosperity leads to environmental enhancement.

Dishing up delusions


Dish magazine usually gets my taste buds tingling but the latest edition contained a letter (not online) which also made me choke.

It came from a Devenport woman who  began by explaining her family had recently returned from a holiday in Spain where they visited a village in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

. . . Upon arrival we marvelled and delighted in the fact that we had found ourselves in such a remote and beautiful part of the world. We were truly a world away from our home in Auckland.

You can imagine then, our astonishment and dismay to be offered New Zealand-grown kiwifruit at the hotel’s breakfast buffet!

Having completed the arduous flight from Auckland to Malaga, via Hong Kong and London, and the the perilous drive up the mountain, our minds boggled at the thought of just how far those little beauties had travelled to arrive on our plate. Did we really need to have kiwifruit for breakfast?

Surely at that time of the year there is enough fruit grown in Spain or nearby European countries to satisfy the palates of mountaineers and tourists alike.

Now, I mean no disrespect fo those entrepreneurial New Zealand farmers who have managed to sell their product to the world, but as we all try so hard to arrest global warming and decrease our carbon footprints, surely this can’t be a good thing.

Upon reading this letter I muttered and despaired at the fact someone could be so deluded.

I couldn’t imagine her astonishment and dismay because I am always delighted to find New Zealand produce in far flung parts of the world.

You can’t get further in the world from New Zealand than Spain yet it’s our biggest importer of kiwifruit. Unlike Ms Davenport they travel by boat rather than plane so  their trip to Spain would have had a much smaller carbon footprint than her family did on their trip.

At that time of the year, presumably summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it is possible in Spain to find fruit from many different parts of the world, all of them closer than New Zealand. But as Lincoln University has proved, this doesn’t mean their carbon footprint is lower than that of produce from New Zealand. The efficiency of our production often more than makes up for the environmental impact of the journey.

I’m pleased Ms Devenport means no disrespect to entrepreneurial New Zealand farmers who mange to sell their products to the world. If it wasn’t for them and other exporters no-one in New Zealand could buy imports or travel overseas.

Our population of four million wouldn’t equate to that of a reasonably sized city in most parts of the world. There are too few of us to sustain a first world economy if we sold only to ourselves.

If we want to buy imports or travel overseas we need foreign exchange and we earn that by exporting so the presence of kiwifruit in a Sierra Nevada village is a very good thing.

January 13 in history


On January 13:

532 – Nika riots in Constantinople.

888 – Odo, Count of Paris became King of the Franks.

1328 – Edward III of England married Philippa of Hainault, daughter of the Count of Hainault.


1435 – Sicut Dudum was promulgated by Pope Eugene IV about the enslaving of black natives in Canary Islands by Spanish Natives.

1547 – Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was sentenced to death.

Henry Howard Earl of Surrey 1546 detail.jpg

1605 The play Eastward Hoe by Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and John Marston was performed, landing two of the authors in prison.

1607  The Bank of Genoa failed after announcement of national bankruptcy in Spain.

1610  Galileo Galilei discovered Ganymede, 4th moon of Jupiter.

True-color image taken by the Galileo probe

1785 John Walter published the first issue of the Daily Universal Register (later renamed The Times).

1822 The design of the Greek flag was adopted by the First National Assembly at Epidaurus.

See adjacent text.

1830 The Great fire of New Orleans, Louisiana began.

1842  Dr. William Brydon, a surgeon in the British Army during the First Anglo-Afghan War, was the sole survivor of an army of 16,500 when he reached the safety of a garrison in Jalalabad.

Remnants of an army2.jpg
Remnants of an Army by Elizabeth Butler

1847  The Treaty of Cahuenga ended the Mexican-American War in California.

 Campo de Cahuenga, scene of the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga, January 13, 1847

1885 Alfred Fuller, Canadian businessman, The “Fuller Brush Man”, was born (d. 1973).

1890 Thomas William Murphy or ‘Torpedo Billy’, became the first New Zealander to win a world title in professional boxing.

'Torpedo' Billy Murphy wins the world featherweight boxing title

1893 The Independent Labour Party of the UK had its first meeting.

 Portrait of ILP leader Keir Hardie painted at the time of the foundation of the organisation in 1893.
1893 – U.S. Marines landed in Honolulu from the U.S.S. Boston to prevent the queen from abrogating the Bayonet Constitution.

1898  Emile Zola’s J’accuse exposed the Dreyfus affair.

1911  Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Premier of Queensland, was born.

1915 An earthquake in Avezzano, Italy killed 29,800.

1926 Michael Bond, British writer, was born.

1939 The Black Friday bush fires burnt 20,000 square kilometres of land in Australia, claiming the lives of 71 people.

1942 Carol Cleveland, English actress and only significant female performer in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, was born.

1942  Henry Ford patented a plastic  automobile, which was 30% lighter than a regular car.

1942  First use of aircraft ejection seat by a German test pilot in a Heinkel He 280 jet fighter.

1953 Marshal Josip Broz Tito was chosen as President of Yugoslavia.

1958  Moroccan Liberation Army ambushed Spanish patrol in the Battle of Edchera.

1964  HinduMuslim rioting broke out in Calcutta – now Kolkata – resulting in the deaths of more than 100 people.

1964  Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, was appointed archbishop of Krakow, Poland.

Pope John Paul II on 12 August 1993 in Denver (Colorado)

1966  Robert C. Weaver became the first African American Cabinet member by being appointed United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

1968  Johnny Cash performed live at Folsom Prison.

1970  Shonda Rhimes, American screenwriter/creator Grey’s Anatomy, was born.

1985 A passenger train plunged into a ravine at Ethiopia, killing 428 in the worst rail disaster in Africa.

1990 L. Douglas Wilder became the first elected African American governor when he took office in Richmond, Virginia.

1992 – Japan apologised for forcing Korean women into sexual slavery (Comfort women) during World War II.

1993 Space Shuttle programme: Endeavour headed for space for the third time as STS-54 launched from the Kennedy Space Center.


2001  An earthquake in El Salvador, killed more than 800.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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