Word of the day

07/04/2011

Gasconade – boastfulness, bravado; to show off, to bluster.


Modern music fail

07/04/2011

“Nirvana or Glen Campbell?” Jamie Mackay asked me at the end of our chat on the Farming Show yesterday.

I had to confess I didn’t know Nirvana.

I recognised the name and knew it was a band but couldn’t name a single song they sing. A quick Google led me to a list of songs but none I recognised.

Oh dear- I’d give myself a modern music fail, except I’m not sure that a band that disbanded in 1994 counts as modern.


Thursday’s quiz

07/04/2011

1. Who said:  “Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.”?.

2. What does a bolometer measure?

3. It’s oro in Spanish and Italian and koura  in Maori what is it in English?

4. Name the author and title of the book which opens: “Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.”

5. Who is the MP for Waitakere?


Have Maori seats passed their use-by date?

07/04/2011

Otago used to have special seats for gold miners. When the gold ran out the need for the seats declined and the seats were disestablished.

Maori seats were set up to give votes to Maori men when the right to vote in New Zealand depended on land ownership. When universal franchise was introduced these seats should have gone but they didn’t.

The most recent official view that there was no longer any need for Maori seats was the Royal Commission on MMP but its advice wasn’t taken.

Disestablishing the seats was National Party policy before the last election but it was set aside as one of the conditions agreed to in coalition negotiations with the Maori Party.

That party has good reasons for wanting the seats to continue even though Tariana Turia said in a discussion on Agenda in 2008:

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

The seats by themselves didn’t give Maori a voice. They have also often given them inferior representation, sometimes because of the MP and always because of their size.

Most of the seats are far too big to service properly. Te Tai Tonga covers 161,443 square kilometres – the whole of the South Island, Stewart Island and part of Wellington. Te Tai Hauauru is 35, 825 square kilometres in area, Ikaroa-Rawhiti covers 30,952 square kilometres and Waiariki 19,212 square kilometres.

But Maori representation isn’t confined to special seats, the majority of Maori MPs in parliament now aren’t there because of the Maori electorates.

Big News lists the 23 who now sit in the house and Kiwiblog notes:

So that is 23/122 MPs are of Maori descent, representing 18.9% of Parliament. Now this means that Maori are over-represented in Parliament, relative to their population proportion. Now I don’t think this is at all a bad thing. My belief is that Parliament should be diverse and broadly representative of NZ, but we shouldn’t have quotas trying to match the makeup of Parliament to the exact population.

But what it does show is how well MMP has worked for Maori representation. We now have seven Maori MPs in Maori seats, three Maori MPs in general seats (all National) and 13 Maori List MPs.

It also reflects my view that one could do as the Royal Commission recommended, and abolish the Maori seats (in exchange for no 5% threshold on the list for Maori parties). Even without the Maori seats, there would be at least 16 MPs of Maori descent in Parliament (and probably more).

Isn’t it interesting that National, the party so often derided for being the party for middle-aged Pakeha men is the only one to have Maori in general seats, one of whom is a woman and all of whom are young?

Whether it is MMP by itself or whether there would have been an increase in the number of Maori MPs under another electoral system because of changing times and attitudes, is a moot point.

But the numbers show we no longer need special Maori seats and who better to argue that than Botany’s new MP Jami-Lee Ross who said in his maiden speech last night:

Mr Speaker, as a new Member of Parliament, I join the ranks of members, past and present, proud to call themselves Maori.  But whilst I am an individual of Maori descent, I do consider myself a New Zealander first and foremost. I have Ngati Porou blood running through my veins, but I can assure the House that I am a New Zealander who believes strongly in one standard of citizenship.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is an exceptionally important document in New Zealand. It has a very simple and succinct text, but one that must be read in its entirety. We often hear of the principles of kawanatanga as expressed in Article 1, and of tino rangatiratanga in Article 2. Sadly the often forgotten part of the Treaty is Article 3.

The Kawharu translation of the Maori version of Article 3 reads:

For this agreed arrangement therefore concerning the Government of the Queen, the Queen of England will protect all the ordinary people of New Zealand and will give them the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England.

I am not convinced that we have reached the point in New Zealand where we calmly and honestly, talk about the relationship between Maori and non-Maori in the context of Article 3. My strong belief in one standard of citizenship means that I believe in fair, full, and final settlements of treaty grievances, with a strong emphasis on the word final. Believing in one standard of citizenship means that I will treat every single one of my constituents equally, regardless of the colour of their skin.

It also means that I do not subscribe to the view that I, or any New Zealander of Maori descent, requires special seats to be elected to Parliament, to Councils, or any other body in this country. It is my hope that the people of New Zealand will be the given the opportunity, in the near future, to examine the role of Maori seats in Parliament by way of referendum. I am a New Zealander of Maori decent, and proudly so. But I hope to challenge the status quo in my time here. I will be criticised along the way, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying that all New Zealander’s should be treated equally. He iwi tahi tatou – we are all one people.

One people does not mean we don’t have differences but nor does it mean we need special seats to ensure fair, proper and effective representation for everyone.


All the news and just the news

07/04/2011

When I started working for a newspaper continuous feeds from the New Zealand Press Association kept us up with what was going on in New Zealand and around the world.

They gave us the news – just the news without comment or bias -and all the news. If it happened and mattered, NZPA reported it and it was up to newsrooms all over the country to use it as it was or give it a local angle, or not,  as we chose.

The decision by Fairfax Media to withdraw from NZPA is concerning.

Kiwiblog says: 

I think the decision is a disaster for parliamentary reporting, and bad for the overall news industry.

NZPA are the one news agency in Parliament that cover every bill before the House. When other media are safely home in bed, there will be a NZPA reporter noting what time the House rose, and what bill was being debated at the time. Likewise on select committees, they are often the only news agency there (apart from the excellent Select Committee News, which is subscription only).

What I also liked about NZPA is they complement the other press gallery agencies. The other agencies naturally focus on stories which sell – which will make for good television, can run on a front page etc. But NZPA are not about “sexy” stories. They just faithfully produce concise factual and relevant stories about what happened – reporters in the old fashioned sense.  And not just about Parliament, also from the courts and elsewhere. . .

Dim Post says:

It seems to have been standard practise in news rooms for time immemorial, for journalists and news editors to take a PA story and stick their own by-line on it and publish it, so PAs footprint on the media landscape is even larger than it may have seemed; even the media executives who closed it down after a hundred and thirty years probably don’t realise quite what they’ve destroyed.

 He also notes that NZPA is the only news outlet which isn’t dependent on advertising and  Peter Griffin says the closure of NZPA would hurt science:

The death of NZPA is really the end of an era in New Zealand journalism. NZPA for over one hundred years has been the agency of record for breaking news stories. Newspapers might write more fulsome and colourful accounts than NZPA produces, but the agency can be counted on for serving up short, concise, timely and generally accurate news alerts on a wide range of subjects – from general news and politics, to business sport and science.

A few weeks back I sat in NZPA editor Kevin Norquay’s office to talk about that last topic – science. NZPA is a bastion of decent coverage of science-related issues in New Zealand and that is largely down to one individual – NZPA veteran reporter Kent Atkinson. Part of the reason for my visit was to thank NZPA for its commitment to covering science issues and giving Kent the leeway to pursue a round he loves. . .

The great thing about NZPA is its reach. A decent science story, or any story for that matter, can run in numerous daily metropolitan and regional newspapers. While Stuff and the Herald Online will pile in to cover the populist stories – Darren Hughes’ night time exploits, the plastic waka etc , often with rolling coverage during the day, NZPA can be relied on to fill in the blind spots, with dispassionate reports. That safety net of coverage will soon be gone for our major mainstream news organisations. . .

But where some see a threat others see an opportunity:

In response, Fairfax’s main rival, APN, announced it would establish a new national news service to “counter the Fairfax move”, its chief executive Martin Simons said.

“We will have discussions with key NZPA staff and work with New Zealand’s independent publishers to tailor a news service to meet the nation’s content needs.”

The Otago Daily Times already shares content with APN titles such as The New Zealand Herald. This alliance was important to strengthen the company’s South Island bases in Christchurch and Oamaru, Mr Simons said.

Until 2006, New Zealand newspapers shared stories through NZPA, but commercial tension between Fairfax and APN forced NZPA to become an independent news source.

Allied Press managing director Julian Smith said, depending on the review, it was likely Allied Press, which publishes the Otago Daily Times, owns numerous southern community newspapers and has an interest in the Greymouth Star, would join the APN-led service.

The new service would be more like NZPA’s original model of newspapers sharing all content and could lead to an improvement in quality, he said.

I hope he’s right.

The internet gives us access to more news than ever before but unlike NZPA it isn’t always just the news which we can trust to be factual and unbiased.

Without an organisation like NZPA it won’t be all the news either.

UPDATE: Karl du Fresne calls it a seriously retrograde step and says:

Even more worrying is that the existing “black holes” in news coverage will become wider and blacker still. Under the old co-operative model, NZPA had the entire country covered . . .

The net result is that New Zealanders will know less about themselves. Parts of the country that have already faded from view since 2005 because of attenuated news coverage may become damned-near invisible, other than when a catastrophe occurs (as at Pike River).

Try as I might, I can’t see this as anything other than a seriously retrograde step. If the creation of NZPA in 1880 helped bind the country together, then its demise is likely to have the reverse effect. . .

Already sparse national coverage of provincial and rural news will become sparser.

The media is one of the bridges over the urban-rural divide and the death of NZPA will tear up several of its planks.


PPP puts money into education not buildings

07/04/2011

What’s the best use of money and energy for school boards – education or the buildings it happens in?

The PPP for two new schools in Hobsonville will enable the boards to focus on what matters:

The Government intends to commission two new schools in Hobsonville that will be designed, financed, built and maintained under a public-private partnership, Infrastructure Minister Bill English, Education Minister Anne Tolley and Associate Education Minister Rodney Hide announced today.

The Government will now seek formal expressions of interest from market participants for new primary and secondary schools at Hobsonville Point, north-west of Auckland. Subject to satisfactory bids, the schools will be the first built in New Zealand under a PPP.

“This Government has made it clear we are open to greater use of private sector expertise where it makes sense. Building and maintaining two new schools through a PPP is likely to result in a range of benefits,” Mr English says.

“While the financial savings in this case are expected to be relatively small, overseas experience shows appropriate use of PPPs introduces new design, financing and maintenance techniques, which flow through to the wider public sector – helping it to improve its procurement and management of infrastructure.

“That is vital when the Government holds $223 billion in assets, which will grow by $33 billion over the next four years. We need to ensure taxpayers get high-quality services at the best price from this large and growing asset base,” Mr English says.

Mrs Tolley says the PPP will benefit students and teachers.

“The private sector partner will be responsible for financing, designing, building and maintaining the property for 25 years of school operations,” Mrs Tolley says.

“This means the schools and boards can focus more on teaching and learning, without the added responsibility of managing the property.

“The land and school will still be owned by the Government, while the board of trustees will remain wholly in charge of the governance and day to day running of the school.

“In addition, the private-sector partner will carry the risk around time-consuming and expensive problems like leaky buildings and be required to sort them out quickly or suffer a financial penalty,” Mrs Tolley says.

The NZEI opposes the move showing its priority is politics rather than education.

Who builds, maintains and owns the buildings doesn’t matter. It’s standards, costs and maintenance which matter and they can be controlled under PPPs at least as well as they are under state ownership.

Membership of Boards of Trustees is demanding, leaving the responsibility of building ownership and maintenance to someone else will lessen the workload and leave them to concentrate on what really matters – the pupils and staff.


April 7 in history

07/04/2011

On April 7:

529 First draft of Corpus Juris Civilis (a fundamental work in jurisprudence) was issued by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I.

 

1348 Charles University was founded in Prague.

 

1506  Saint Francis Xavier, Spanish co-founder of the Society of Jesus, was born (d. 1552).

1521  Ferdinand Magellan arrived at Cebu.

1541 Francis Xavier left Lisbon on a mission to the Portuguese East Indies.

1718 Hugh Blair, Scottish preacher and man of letters, was born  (d. 1800).

 

1770 William Wordsworth, English poet, was born  (d. 1850).

1776 Captain John Barry and the USS Lexington captured the Edward.

USS Lexington

1788 American Pioneers to the Northwest Territory arrived at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, establishing Marietta, Ohio as the first permanent American settlement of the new United States in the Northwest Territory, and opening the westward expansion of the new country.

 

1795 France adopted the metre as the basic measure of length.

1803 Flora Tristan, French feminist and socialist philosopher, was born (d. 1844).

 

1827 John Walker, an English chemist, sold the first friction match that he had invented the previous year.

 

1856 New Zealand’s first state secondary school, Nelson College, opened.

First state secondary school opens in Nelson

1860 Will Keith Kellogg, American cereal manufacturer, was born (d. 1951).

1862 American Civil War: Battle of Shiloh ended – the Union Army under General Ulysses S. Grant defeated the Confederates.

Battle of Shiloh Thulstrup.jpg

1868 Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of the Canadian Fathers of Confederation was assassinated.

1890 Completion of the first Lake Biwa Canal.

 

1908 Percy Faith, Canadian composer and musician, was born  (d. 1976).

1906  Mount Vesuvius erupted and devastated Naples.

 

1906 – The Algeciras Conference gave France and Spain control over Morocco.

1908 H. H. Asquith of the Liberal Party took office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1915 Billie Holiday, American singer, was born (d. 1959).

1922 Teapot Dome scandal: United States Secretary of the Interior leased Teapot Dome petroleum reserves in Wyoming.

 

1927 First distance public television broadcast (from Washington, D.C. to New York City, displaying the image of Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover).

1933 Prohibition  in the USA was repealed for beer of no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight, eight months before the ratification of the XXI amendment.

1934 Ian Richardson, Scottish actor, was born  (d. 2007).

Francis Urquhart.jpg

1938 Spencer Dryden, American drummer (Jefferson Airplane), was born (d. 2005).

1939  World War II: Italy invaded Albania.

1939   Francis Ford Coppola, American film director, was born.

1939  Sir David Frost, English broadcaster and TV host, was born.

1940 Booker T. Washington became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.

 

1941 Gorden Kaye, British actor, was born.

 

1943 Germans ordered 1,100 Jews to undress to their underwear and march through the city of Terebovlia to the nearby village of Plebanivka where they were shot dead and buried in ditches.

1944 Gerhard Schröder, former Chancellor of Germany, was born.

1945 World War II: The Japanese battleship Yamato, the largest battleship ever constructed, was sunk 200 miles north of Okinawa while en-route to a suicide mission in Operation Ten-Go.

Yamato sinking from the aft

1945 – World War II: Visoko was liberated by the 7th, 9th and 17th Krajina brigades from the Tenth division of Yugoslav Partisan forces.

1946 Syria‘s independence from France was officially recognised.

1948 The World Health Organisation was established by the United Nations.

Flag of WHO.svg

1948 A Buddhist monastery burned in Shanghai, leaving twenty monks dead.

1951 Janis Ian, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1954 U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his “domino theory” speech during a news conference.

 

1954 Jackie Chan, Chinese actor, director, producer, and martial artist., was born.

1956 Spain relinquished its protectorate in Morocco.

1963 Yugoslavia was proclaimed to be a Socialist republic and Josip Broz Tito was named President for life.

1964  IBM announcedthe System/360.

 

1964 Russell Crowe, New Zealand actor, was born.

1969 The Internet’s symbolic birth date: publication of RFC 1.

 

1971 U.S. President Richard Nixon announced his decision to increase the rate of American troop withdrawals from Vietnam.

1977 German Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback and his driver were shot by two Red Army Faction members while waiting at a red light.

 

1978 Development of the neutron bomb was canceled by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

1983 During STS-6, astronauts Story Musgrave and Don Peterson performed the first space shuttle spacewalk.

Sts-6-crew.jpg
L-R Peterson, Weitz, Musgrave, Bobko

1985 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared a moratorium on the deployment of middle-range missiles in Europe.

1989  Soviet submarine Komsomolets sank in the Barents Sea killing 42 sailors.

K-278 Komsomolets

1990 John Poindexter was found guilty of five charges for his part in the Iran Contra Affiar (the conviction was later reversed on appeal).

1992 Republika Srpska announced its independence.

Flag Seal

1994  Massacres of Tutsis begin in Kigali, Rwanda.

1999 The World Trade Organisation ruled in favor of the United States in its long-running trade dispute with the European Union over bananas.

2001 Mars Odyssey wass launched.

2001 mars odyssey wizja.jpg

2003 U.S. troops captured Baghdad.

2009 Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for ordering killings and kidnappings by security forces.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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