Te Heuheu to retire

May 10, 2011

National cabinet Minister Georgina te Heuheu has announced she will retire from parliament at the end of this term.

“Now is a good time to go. The National Party is in good heart. It has strong leadership. The National Government has outlined a credible programme for New Zealand’s future, and it’s now time for family and friends.

“I came in under MMP at a time when the National Government had embarked on an ambitious programme to settle Treaty injustices and to work to lift Māori participation in the economy and society. I’m proud to have been part of this key policy direction as I strongly believe it has set the course for a strong and enduring future for all New Zealanders.

“I have had 15 great years as a Member of the National Party Caucus. I have served under three Prime Ministers. Jim Bolger was Prime Minister when I came in and I have had the privilege to serve twice in Cabinet, first under Jenny Shipley and now under John Key.

“During that time I have had the opportunity of contributing to some very challenging issues that go to the heart of who we are as New Zealanders, including promoting the reconciliation of the interests of Māori and their fellow New Zealanders.

“I’ve endeavoured to do this by promoting reasoned debate and hopefully, exercising a degree of calm, and quiet determination.

“I am very proud to have served in the current Cabinet in this term. John Key has a very keen sense of what it takes to build a dynamic, inclusive society and I’ll be working hard up to the election to ensure he gets the chance to carry that leadership on for our country.

“I also hope New Zealanders give him a good mandate to pursue a vision for New Zealand that recognises that every New Zealander has an important role to play in building a strong nation.

“Politics is a brutal game at times. I have tried to focus on the issues rather than personalities. Politics can be all-encompassing and often you forget there are other things in life.

“I know there are other challenges out there, but for now I’m looking forward to going home and enjoying my family. I only hope they’re looking forward to the same thing.”

Mrs te Heuheu entered parliament as a list MP in the first MMP election in 1996.

She was the first Maori woman to gain a law degree from Victoria University and  and be admitted to the High Court as Barrister and Solicitor.

She practised law in Wellington and Rotorua before becoming an MP.

Her career in politics saw her become the first Maori woman to gain election as an MP for the National Party; the first Maori woman to chair the Maori Affairs Select Committee, and only the second Maori woman to be appointed to a New Zealand Cabinet.

Her ministerial portfolios from 1998 to 1999 were Minister of Women’s Affairs, Associate Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Minister of Health.

She is now Minister for Courts, Pacific Island Affairs, Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister of Maori Affairs.

Prime Minister John Key said:

“I want to thank Georgina for the contribution she has made in her career in national politics over the last 15 years, and also for her public service in a myriad of other roles.

“In particular I want to record my appreciation for the role Mrs te Heuheu has played over the years in helping to grow the relationship between iwi and the National Party,” says Mr Key.

Two other ministers, Simon Power and Wayne Mapp, have announced they are retiring at the end of this term; Richard Worth and Pansy Wong have already stood down and Coromandel MP Sandra Goudie has announced she will retire in November too.

Having a turn over of Ministers and MPs is good for the health of the party. It makes it much easier to refresh caucus and cabinet without putting any noses out of joint.


Word of the day

May 10, 2011

Jobation – castigation, scolding, tedious criticism or reproof,


Why do so many people live there?

May 10, 2011

A survey confirms what those of us with the good sense, or luck, to live elsewhere suspected – Auckland’s not a healthy place to live:

A survey by Southern Cross Healthcare says Auckland has the worst work-life balance and, apart from quake-hit Christchurch, the most stress.

The survey says Aucklanders are eating more takeaways than any other city and that only 16% of people eat more than five servings of fruit and vegetables a day – less than people in any other city.

It’s not a bad place to visit but I wouldn’t choose to live there and the results of this survey make me wonder why so many other people do.


Lamb prices bouyant, crop down

May 10, 2011

The Southland blizzard, spring storms in the North Island and dairy conversions have taken their toll on this season’s lamb crop.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service announced today after reviewing the provisional half-year lamb slaughter numbers that total lamb production is on track to reach the forecast figure of 19.3 million head for the current season. This season is 7.7 per cent less than the 2009-10 season and is less than the 19.5 million head forecast in the November 2010 Lamb Crop report. This is the lowest lamb slaughter figure since the 1960-61 season.

Supply is down and prices are up and look bouyant for the rest of the season.

Lower global supply, including lower than usual exports from Australia, have led to higher mutton prices with record highs throughout the season even though our export mutton volumes are higher.

 Based on the provisional half-year slaughter numbers, we still expect at least 4 million head of mutton to be processed, which is 9.9 per cent more than last season.” Anecdotal comment suggests farmers are culling the bottom end of their flocks to take advantage of higher mutton prices and this could lift the mutton volume a further 5 per cent (0.2 million). In turn this may have an offset with more lambs kept as replacements lowering the export lamb slaughter by a similar number. Lamb prices for April averaged $116 per head and were up 53 per cent on last year’s $76 per head for the same month. Similarly mutton prices are up 63 per cent on 12 months ago and for April averaged $97 per head.

The last three seasons have been very tough for sheep farmers. This season’s improved returns for lamb and mutton and  are very welcome, especially when pelts and wool are also receiving better prices.


Politics precludes Greenpeace from charitable status

May 10, 2011

The High Court has ruled that Greenpeace is too involved in politics to be registered as a charity.

Justice Paul Heath turned down an appeal last Friday that Greenpeace could register with the Charities Commission after the body rejected its 2010 application.

Justice Heath said Greenpeace’s political activities can’t be regarded as “merely ancillary” to its charitable purposes and that the commission was correct in disqualifying it for registration over the potentially illegal activities.

Though the pursuit of peace could be “worthy,” that didn’t necessarily make it charitable, he said.

“The commission was correct in holding that non-violent, but potentially illegal activities (such as trespass), designed to put (in the eyes of Greenpeace) objectionable activities into the public spotlight were an independent object disqualifying it from registration as a charitable entry,” Justice Heath said in his judgement.

“In qualitative terms, the charitable purposes of Greenpeace could be met without resort to the type of political activities that deny its right to registration.”

. . .He said Greenpeace viewed itself more as an “advocate rather than an educator,” and cited the commission’s examples of Greenpeace’s non-violent action including a protest over Fonterra Cooperative Group’s increasing use of coal, and a campaign opposing the importation of palm kernel oil that also targeted the dairy exporter.

Good.

Greenpeace is an overtly political organisation.

It is still free to pursue it’s political objectives but this ruling means it won’t get the tax exemptions charitable status would give it while doing so.


Water makes us lucky

May 10, 2011

When our average rainfall is about 20 inches and that can get down to not more than half that in a dry year we’re loathe to say we’ve had too much rain.

After an unusually wet start to the year and with something like May’s total rainfall coming in 12 hours last Saturday, we’re beginning to think we’ve had enough.

However, although a wet autumn happens now and then we know dry years are more common. We’ve enjoyed the respite from irrigation but it hasn’t stopped the work that’s going on further irrigation development which we know will be needed to insure against the worst effects of the next drought.

In light of this the government’s water policy package,  announced by Environment Minister Nick Smith and Agriculture Minister David Carter is very welcome.

It includes:

• A National Policy Statement on fresh water management to set a consistent, nationwide regulatory framework for setting water quantity and quality limits to govern the allocation and use of freshwater
• An Irrigation Acceleration Fund of $35 million over five years to support the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the ‘investment-ready’ prospectus stage which could unlock the economic growth potential of our primary sectors through the development of more efficient and effective water infrastructure, such as storage and distribution
• A Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean Up Fund to assist councils with historic pollution problems with reprioritised funding of $15 million over two years, and a total clean-up programme commitment of $264.8 million
• The Government will also consider in a future Budget investing up to $400 million of equity in water infrastructure schemes.

Federated Farmers says the water policy, including storage, will cement New Zealand as the ‘lucky country’.

“This Government is serious about playing to New Zealand’s natural competitive advantage and that’s agriculture,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers co-spokesperson on water.

While Australia digs themselves up, we’re hard at work to convert our rainfall into renewable and sustainable food and fibre exports.  Water is behind everything we export and these exports directly pay for policing, doctors, nurses and teachers. 

“The $35 million investment in the Irrigation Acceleration Fund over five years shows how a modest investment in agriculture will yield long term results. 

“The Opuha Study showed that for every dollar invested in water storage, eight dollars was generated through the economy.  If you take that and add it to today’s announcement and future plans, you are talking about a multi-billion dollar uplift.

“The $35 million for the Irrigation Acceleration Fund is easily as significant for New Zealand’s economic development as the Government’s $40 million underwrite of the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund last August.  Except every dollar invested in agriculture goes a long, long way.

“It’s also a major vindication for Federated Farmers pushing water storage well before the Prime Minister’s 2009 jobs summit.  What we are talking about is a boost for jobs and a boost for the regional and national economy.

“The 2007/08 El Nino influenced drought cost the economy $2.8 billion and is now seen as the probable cause of the last recession.  Water storage provides a way to smooth out periods of low rainfall because what we are talking about, is storing from what naturally falls from the sky.

“But we are excited to see the Government openly talking about a potential $400 million worth of equity for the construction of regional-scale schemes that will encourage third-party capital investment.

“This is the first time in years we have seen Government grasp the enormous opportunity to future proof not just our agricultural industries but our towns and cities as well. 

“It’s significant because Government is willing to get off the side-lines given it’s an ideal form of a private-public partnership,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

Feds chief executive Conor English issued a statement earlier on the importance of water storage :

Water storage will enable “more fish and less drought” and build resilience into our economy and environment. In the city you don’t have to wait for the rain to fall before you have a cup of tea. In the city, we have access to water at the right place at the right time. In the city we store water, we bank it, we save it on a rainy day so we can use it when it isn’t raining. So why not do more of the same in the country?

It’s not that New Zealand is running out of water, it’s that water is running out of New Zealand.

The Greeks, Romans and Egyptians built their civilisations on water. We know from the Opua dam that the environment, recreational values, the economy and community spirit are all enhanced by using smart water storage strategies. I’ve yet to meet a fish that doesn’t like water 365 days a year.

Government studies of that project tell us that every 1000ha irrigated creates 27 jobs and injects $7.7 million into the local economy. With 30 potential projects covering around 1 million Ha up the eastern seaboard that’s about $7.5 billion extra revenue for the country each year, and 27,000 new jobs. Over a decade that’s $75 billion extra cash for the country, if all potential projects came to 100% fruition, which is unlikely however.

Irrigation has made a significant difference to the economic and social life in North Otago. Strict requirements for environmental farm plans, which are independently audited each year, help ensure that this doesn’t come at the cost of the environment.


The mana of mana

May 10, 2011

The French like to keep their language pure and aren’t keen on borrowing words from others.

Speakers of English aren’t so fussy, taking words from many other languages because often there isn’t one which expresses what we want to in our mother tongue.

One such word is mana. The closest I’ve come to finding a single word to express something close to what it means is honorificabilitudinitatibus .

It’s defined as with honour, characterised by honour, deserving respect. But honorificabilitudinitatibus is  far too much of a mouthful to use when mana expresses the meaning at least as well and far more simply, at least to those of us familiar with the New Zealand vernacular.

Given it’s meaning I wonder about how appropriate it is to use mana as the name for a political party. Hone Harawira’s new vehicle for radical Maori and left wing ideology isn’t the first  Mana Party. Mat Rata formed Mana Motuhake when he left Labour in 1980 and I think there’s been at least one other party calling itself Mana.

It’s a name that behoves the members of a party which uses it to keep to high standards and so far those associated with the newest one haven’t done that.

Hone Harawira started by lying to Duncan Garner about his intention to call a by-election and although he apologised for that, it wasn’t a good first step.

He then got hyperbolic in comparing Act leader Don Brash to Hitler and followed that by praising Osama bin Laden as a freedom fighter. He apologised for that as well but too late to prevent the impression he hasn’t got the very necessary attribute for leaders of engaging his brain before opening his mouth.

Then his mother and sister demonstrated that they fall well short of the standards acceptable for anyone who might be said to have mana with their prolonged shouting and swearing at Saturday’s Maori party hui.

Richard put it well in a comment on yesterday’s post:

The lack of respect will be noted if not explicitly commented on- that is not the way its done.

So far almost everything the party and its front people have done hasn’t been the way it should be done and has been the opposite of anything which might be considered worthy of the word mana.


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