Word of the day


Tacent – silent.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Where was Julia Gillard born?

2. What is the common name of Australia’s naitonal flower, Acacia pycnantha?

3. Who said: “Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.”?

4. Who wrote the series of books featuring Scobie Malone which started with The High Commissioner ?

5. Who in Banjo Patteron’s poem came from Eaglehawk and caught the cycling craze?

Not the right time even if deal good value


The news that the crown fleet of three-year old BMW’s was being replaced understandably raised the ire of many, including National supporters .

Then came the news that it wasn’t a decision made by the government but by the Department of Internal Affairs:

Mr Key revealed this afternoon that the Government was not kept in the loop about the decision. A six-year deal for the cars was signed by Labour with a three-year rollover clause.

“That decision to invoke that rollover and bring new cars in was made by the Department of Internal Affairs without reference either to their minister or to me,” he said.

Mr Key found out about the new cars when one of the drivers told him last week.

The department did not think it had to check as it had authority from the former Labour Government.

“I can’t take responsibility for a contract that was entered into by the previous Labour Government, that wasn’t bought to my attention or to my ministers’ attention,” Mr Key said.

“I am surprised, I would’ve thought they (Internal Affairs) would have referenced it to us… politically we should have known about it, we didn’t.”

He said Internal Affairs did understand sensitivities about spending but felt they got a good deal.

Good deal or not this is not the time to be spending a few million dollars of public money if it is not absolutely necessary.

A spokesman for Internal Affairs told NZPA there was no requirement to inform the Government about its decision to chose the option of buying new vehicles.

“It’s our contract, we administer it. Our assessment was it was the best value for money to replace the vehicles now and we got a good deal in the first place and we got a good deal now,” he said.

Had the cars been kept they would have lost value and the resale price would be considerably lower.

Even if that is so, a government department is supposed to operate on  a no-surprises basis with its minister.

If the person in charge doesn’t understand that something as politically charged as a fleet of flash new cars would come into that category at any time, let alone when the government is calling for restraint, s/he ought not be in a position to make that sort of decision.

Labour’s stance on pastoral leases will force more into freeholding


If there was a single group which had more reason than most to be delighted when Labour was defeated in 2008 it was pastoral leaseholders.

Families who had loved and looked after the South Island high country for generations had their livelihoods and their property rights threatened when the then-government tried to rewrite the rules on their rents.

It was expensive not only in financially but emotionally too.

When pastoral leases were set up,  legislation established that rents were based on land exclusive of improvements. That meant the land was the Crown’s but all improvements – including soil fertility, pasture, fences and buildings were the property of the leaseholder.

Then Labour decided to add the amenity values to the equation. Land which happened to be close to a lake, river or have a good view was suddenly deemed to be worth more and the rent was based on that even though that figure was often many times higher than the property’s earning capacity.

To make it worse the main reason amenity values were so high was they were based on the ridiculous prices, well above market norms, that Labour had paid to buy high country properties like St James Station.

A test case taken by Minaret Station to the Otago District Land Value Tribunal backed farmers  ruled against the inclusion of  amenity values in rent reviews.

By then National was in power and came up with a much more equitable formula for pastoral rents which was accepted by farmers and Labour, or at least that’s what their agricultural spokesman Damien O’Connor said back in August last year.

It’s not what he’s saying now Crown Pastoral land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Bill is in the House for its first reading.

But at least he’s saying it without the vitriol which punctuated the speech of his colleague David Parker, who as the then-Minister was responsible for much of the mess which resulted in the test case.

The rural grapevine reckons the seeds which drove Labour’s determination on this issue were planted when Helen Clark’s request to land a helicopter on a high country property to shorten a tramp was declined by the landowner. I don’t know if that is true. But if it is Parker often tramped with her and even if he wasn’t with her on that occasion he’d no doubt have been told the story.

If it’s not true I have no idea what is behind his apparent dislike of farmers.

We were part of a small group of pastoral lessees who met him when he was Minister. He didn’t appear to understand our concerns and made it quite clear he wasn’t prepared to make any concessions.

But I never thought I’d hear an MP say, as he did in Tuesday’s speech:

. . .   what comes around goes around and I will never put up with an argument now from the lessees coming to me and saying ‘please respect my property rights under this lease’ because what comes around goes around and this is a licence for a future government to go in and fix these things up and to change the terms of this lease. . .

That is a threat lessees should take seriously because it means when Labour regains power they will mess with rents again.

The message lessees should take is to do all they can to freehold their property through the tenure review process before that happens.

Spot the irony – Labour’s stance on pastoral leases and the anti-farmer sentiment of its former minister, are going to force lessees into freeholding. It’s the only way they can be sure their property rights are secure.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog

February 17 in history


On February 17:

1500 The Battle of Hemmingstedt.

1600 The philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned alive at Campo de’ Fiori in Rome for heresy.

1801 An electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr was resolved when Jefferson was elected President of the United States and Burr Vice President by the United States House of Representatives.

Jefferson portrait by Charles Willson Peale 

1809 Miami University was chartered by the State of Ohio.

Seal of Miami University

1814 The Battle of Mormans.

 1819 The United States House of Representatives passed the Missouri Compromise.

 The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in the Unorganized territory of the Great Plains (dark green) and permitted it in Missouri (yellow) and the Arkansas Territory (lower blue area).

1848 Louisa Lawson, Australian suffragist and writer, was born  (d. 1920).


1854 The United Kingdom recognised the independence of the Orange Free State.

1864  Banjo Paterson, Australian poet, was born  (d. 1941).

1864 The H. L. Hunley became the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.

Css hunley on pier.jpg

1867 The first ship passed through the Suez Canal.


1873 The editor of the Daily Southern Cross, David Luckie, published a hoax report of a Russian invasion of Auckland by the cruiser Kaskowiski (cask of whisky).

'The Russians are coming!'

1877  Isabelle Eberhardt, Swiss explorer and writer, was born  (d. 1904).


1904 Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini received its premiere at La Scala in Milan.

1913 The Armory Show opened in New York City, displaying works of artists who are to become some of the most influential painters of the early 20th century.


1917 Guillermo González Camarena, Mexican inventor (colour television), was born.


1924  Johnny Weissmuller set a new world record in the 100-yard freestyle swimming competition with a time of 52-2/5 seconds.

1924 Margaret Truman, American novelist, was born (d. 2008).

1925 Harold Ross and Jane Grant founded The New Yorker magazine.

 2004 cover with dandy Eustace Tilley, created by Rea Irvin. Eustace Tilley debuted on the first cover and reappears on anniversary issues

1925 Ron Goodwin, English composer and conductor, was born  (d. 2003).

image of Ron Goodwin 

1929 Patricia Routledge, English actress, was born.

1930 Ruth Rendell, English writer, was born.

1933 Newsweek magazine was published for the first time.


1933 – The Blaine Act ended Prohibition in the United States.

1934 Barry Humphries, Australian actor and comedian, was born.

Barry Humphries July 2001.jpg

1940  Gene Pitney, American singer, was born (d. 2006).

1945 Brenda Fricker, Irish actress, was born.

1947 The Voice of America began to transmit radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union.

Voice of America Logo.svg

1958 Pope Pius XII declared Saint Clare of Assisi (1193~1253) the patron saint of television.


1959 Vanguard 2 – The first weather satellite was launched to measure cloud-cover distribution.

Vanguard 2

1962 A storm killed more than 300 people in Hamburg.

1963 Michael Jordan, American basketball player, was born.

A smiling bald African American man wearing a silver earring and herringbone jacket

1964 Gabonese president Leon M’ba was toppled by a coup and his archrival, Jean-Hilaire Aubame, was installed in his place.


1965  The Ranger 8 probe launched on its mission to photograph the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon in preparation for the manned Apollo missions.


1972 Sales of the Volkswagen Beetle model exceeded those of Ford Model-T.

Volkswagen Beetle .jpg

1978 A Provisional IRA incendiary bomb was detonated at the La Mon restaurant, near Belfast, killing 12 and seriously injuring 30.

1979 The Sino-Vietnamese War started.

1995 – The Cenepa War between Peru and Ecuador ends on a cease-fire brokered by the UN.

1996 World champion Garry Kasparov beat the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match.

Garri kasparow 20070318.jpg

1996 – NASA’s Discovery Programme started as the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft lifted off on the first mission ever to orbit and land upon an asteroid, 433 Eros.

Near Shoemaker.jpg

2003 The London Congestion Charge scheme began.


2006 A massive mudslide occurred in Southern Leyte, Philippines; the official death toll was 1,126.


2008 Kosovo declared independence.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia

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