Word of the day


Katowse  – ruckus, tumult, din.

Late history post


Every now when I schedule a post it doesn’t publish when I expect it to.

I’m not sure if I put the wrong time or if it’s the tech fairy playing games, but I’ve jsut realised today’s histoy post hadn’t been published.

It is now, back-timed (is that a word/phrase?) to early morning as usual.

Belated birthday greetings to:  Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin,  Edward Lear,  Florence Nightingale, Ian McLaganX, Jonah Lomu, Katharine Hepburn,  Susan Hampshire and Tony Hancock.



6/10 in the NZ Herald world news quiz – with some lucky and unlucky guesses which cancelled each other out.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who wrote the book April Fools Day about his son who was a  haemophiliac and contrated Aids through a blood transfusion?

2. Who said: “It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a Hospital that it should do the sick no harm.”?

3. It’s chien  inFrench, cane in Italian,  perro in Spanish and kuri in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What’s the capital of Uruguay?

5. Which group sang Dance All Around the World?

No power in middle if can’t go both ways


United Future leader Peter Dunne has given up his bob-each-way approach to elections and called a win for National in November.

In doing so he made an entertaining attack on Labour:

One reason I am very confident National will lead the next government is that Labour, at this point in the political cycle, is not a viable, functioning alternative.

Actually, I am being polite here.

Events of recent times bring the term ‘cot case’ to mind.

With no new faces on their front bench, they are essentially going into this election with the re-heated caucus that New Zealanders threw out three years ago, and as one would expect, they seem bereft of new ideas.

It is not really possible to generate new ideas when you have yet to accept that your old ideas have been rejected . . .

He wasn’t very complimentary about Act either and made some telling comments about the party’s name:

ACT writ large is the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers.

I have always found this a most telling name for a political party. They do indeed know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

If I or most New Zealanders had to choose the two words that most fundamentally defined us, I can tell you now that those two words would not be ‘consumer’ and ‘taxpayer’.

And therein lies ACT’s essential problem.

They are out of synch and out of touch with the way New Zealanders see themselves and the priorities and values that they live by.

For one thing, I am a citizen before I am a taxpayer or a consumer.

I am a New Zealander.

I value the broad community that we live in, and the many smaller communities that make up this country. . .

Then he got stuck into New Zealand First:

There is another thing that Middle New Zealand does not want.

And I am going to speak his name: Winston Peters.

His obfuscations, half-truths, dancing on the head of a pin and, ultimately, his destructiveness, finally caught up with him in 2008.

My only concern about Winston Peters in 2011 is a very simple one: that people will have short memories.

Actually, he relies on that.

He counts on it.

One can only hope that his recently auctioned ‘No’ sign goes on a national tour later this year, stopping in every town hall and Grey Power meeting five minutes after Winston Peters darkens its doorstep.

People need reminding in one simple word of the destructiveness and duplicity that Winston brought to New Zealand politics.

There is no more apt reminder of why New Zealanders should not have Winston Peters back – ever – than that sign.

That sign said it all, but in a way that he never intended. It should be his political epitaph. ‘No.’

I salute John Key for ruling him out yet again as a potential coalition partner.

It was bold and it was principled, just as it was in 2008. 

Running a country is hard enough; you need to do it with people whose word today means what it meant yesterday, and will mean the same tomorrow.

The wink, the grin and a good deal of opportunistic fact-free scare-mongering should never again be enough for Winston Peters to re-enter a House that has been more honourable for his absence.

I do not believe that he will return. New Zealanders are not foolish. . .  

He also made a perceptive observation about the Maori Party:

And then there is the Maori Party.

As I have said before, the key to understanding this unlikely but genuinely strong relationship is that John Key’s invitation to join him after the last election was the first time in modern political history any major political party had invited Maori to join in government.

 Labour talks about the relationship forged with Ratana in 1935, but the truth is it was always a subservient one, where Maori political loyalty was taken for granted and rarely reciprocated in a meaningful way.

Maori know that.

That is why the strength of the bond now formed with National cannot be underestimated. . .

I can’t argue with his analysis but I do wonder about his motive.

The real power under MMP lies in the middle of the political spectrum and the most powerful of the wee parties are those which can go left or right.

His comments about Act are designed to appeal to people who don’t want National to move too far right. But his criticism of Labour and Peters means he’s ruled himself out of a colation with them and in doing so has lost a lot of his negotiating power.

If he won’t go with the left the only place left for him is with National unless he’s content to warm a seat on the cross benches and after all these years as a minister that wouldn’t have much appeal.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog

Gutter not a good place to be


On the day John Key announced proposed changes to policies Labour holds dear – Kiwisaver, Working for Families and interest free student loans – you’d expect the party to be on the attack.

It was but not on policy.Instead it made a silly attempt to link the agreement to replace the fleet of BMWs used for VIP transport with a donation to National from a BMW dealership.

Trying to get this particular kite to fly was doomed from the start because it was full of holes.

# 1 Only a few weeks ago Labour was criticising the Prime Minister for not knowing about the car deal.

Let me type this slowly in the unlikely event that anyone from Labour is reading it – if he didn’t know about the deal he couldn’t have used it to encourage a donation.

# The contract was signed up by Labour and rolled over by Internal Affairs.

#2 Deals like this are handled by Internal Affairs to avoid any question of impropriety between politicians and firms which get government contracts.

#3 I don’t know the details of the donation but they are usually handled by the volunteer wing of the party not MPs so it is most unlikely that Key knew about the donation.

#4 The car deal was done with BMW NZ, the donation was from a franchisee, a completely different entity, and the principal knew nothing about the fleet contract.

The PM said Labour has descended into the gutter again.

“This is not only a baseless smear on my integrity, it is also a smear on the integrity of officials in the Department of Internal Affairs who are responsible for the contract.”

Mr Key says New Zealanders will judge for themselves what Labour’s latest smear attempt demonstrates about the priorities of that party’s MPs.

“Next week Finance Minister Bill English will deliver a responsible and measured Budget that sets a credible path back to surplus. The National-led Government is focused on getting the books back to surplus while at the same time continuing to protect the most vulnerable New Zealanders, boosting frontline health and education services, and helping to pay for the rebuilding of Christchurch.

“Labour is waving the white flag of surrender. It has no answer to the big issues facing New Zealand and in desperation chooses instead to focus on smears and baseless innuendo.”

The gutter isn’t a good place to be at any time, and it’s even worse in election year because they won’t find any policy there. And that’s the big point in this story – Labour’s attacking the PM rather than policy because it’s got no viable ideas to put to the public.

May 12 in history


1191  Richard I of England married Berengaria of Navarre who was crowned Queen consort of England the same day.


1264 The Battle of Lewes, between King Henry III and the rebel Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, began.


1328 Antipope Nicholas V, a claimant to the papacy, was consecrated in Rome by the Bishop of Venice.

1364  Jagiellonian University, was founded in Kraków.

1551  National University of San Marcos, was founded in Lima.

National University of San Marcos seal

1588 French Wars of Religion: Henry III  fledParis after Henry of Guise enters the city.

1689  King William’s War: William III  joined the League of Augsburg starting a war with France.

1743  Maria Theresa of Austria was crowned King of Bohemia after defeating her rival, Charles VII, Holy Roman Emperor.

1797  First Coalition: Napoleon I of France conquered Venice.

1812 Edward Lear, British author and poet was born (d. 1888).

1820 Florence Nightingale, British nurse was born (d. 1910).


1821  The first big battle of the Greek War of Independence against the Turks occured in Valtetsi.

1828  Dante Gabriel Rossetti, British painter,was born (d. 1882).

1863  American Civil War: Battle of Raymond: two divisions of James B. McPherson‘s XVII Corps (ACW) turned the left wing of Confederate General John C. Pemberton‘s defensive line on Fourteen Mile Creek, opening up the interior of Mississippi to the Union Army during the Vicksburg Campaign.

Logan's Division Battling the Confederates Near Fourteen Mile Creek

1864 American Civil War: the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House: thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers died in “the Bloody Angle”.


1865  American Civil War: the Battle of Palmito Ranch: the first day of the last major land action to take place during the Civil War, resulting in a Confederate victory.

1870 The Manitoba Act was given the Royal Assent, paving the way for Manitoba to become a province of Canada on July 15.


1873  Oscar II was crowned King of Sweden.

1881  Tunisia became a French protectorate.

1885 North-West Rebellion: the four-day Battle of Batoche, pitting rebel Métis against the Canadian government, ended with a decisive rebel defeat.


1890  The first-ever official County Championship match begins. Yorkshire beat Gloucestershire by eight wickets at Bristol. George Ulyett scored the first century in the competition.

1907 Katharine Hepburn, American actress, was born (d. 2003).

1910 Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, British biochemist, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1994).

1924 Tony Hancock, British comedian, was born  (d. 1968).

1926  UK General Strike 1926: In the United Kingdom, a nine-day general strike by ended.


1932  Ten weeks after his abduction, the infant son of Charles Lindbergh was found dead in Hopewell, New Jersey, just a few miles from the Lindberghs’ home.


1937 Susan Hampshire, British actress, was born.

1937 – George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon were crowned King and Queen.


1941 – Konrad Zuse presented the Z3, the world’s first working programmable, fully automatic computer, in Berlin.


1942 – World War II: Second Battle of Kharkov – in the eastern Ukraine, Red Army forces under Marshal Semyon Timoshenko launched a major offensive from the Izium bridgehead.


1942 – Holocaust: 1,500 Jews were sent to gas chambers in Auschwitz.

1945 Ian McLagan, British keyboardist (Small Faces), was born.

1945  Argentinian labour leader José Peter declared the Federación Obrera de la Industria de la Carne dissolved.

1949 – The Soviet Union lifted its blockade of Berlin.


1949 – The western occupying powers approved the Basic Law for the new German state – the Federal Republic of Germany.

1952 Gaj Singh was crowned Maharaja of Jodhpur.

1958 Aformal North American Aerospace Defense Command agreement was signed between the United States and Canada.

North American Aerospace Defense Command logo.jpg

1962  Douglas MacArthur delivered his famous “Duty, Honor, Country” valedictory speech at the United States Military Academy.

MacArthur is seated, wearing his field marshal's hat and a bomber jacket, and holding a pair of binoculars. Four other men also carrying binoculars stand behind him. 

1965 – The Soviet spacecraft Luna 5 crashes on the Moon.

USSR Luna lander bus.jpg

1967  Pink Floyd staged the first-ever quadraphonic rock concert.

1971 A civic reception for 161 Battery on its return from Vietnam was disrupted by protesters.

Anti-Vietnam War protests in Queen Street

1975 Jonah Lomu, New Zealand rugby union footballer, was born.

Jonah Lomu (cropped).jpg

1975  Mayagüez incident: the Cambodian navy seized the American merchant ship SS Mayaguez in international waters.


1978  In Zaïre, rebels occupy the city of Kolwezi, the mining center of the province of Shaba.

1981  Francis Hughes starved to death in the Maze Prison in a republican campaign for political status to be granted to Provisional IRA prisoners.

1982 – During a procession outside the shrine of the Virgin Mary in Fátima, Portugal, security guards overpower edJuan Fernandez Krohn before he  attacked Pope John Paul IIwith a bayonet.

1999 David Steel became the first Presiding Officer (speaker) of the modern Scottish Parliament.

2002  Former US President Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba for a five-day visit with Fidel Castro becoming first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since Castro’s 1959 revolution.

2003  The Riyadh compound bombings, carried out by Al Qaeda, kill 26.

2003 – Fifty-nine Democratic lawmakers bring the Texas Legislature to a standstill by going into hiding in a dispute over a Republican congressional redistricting plan.

2006  Mass unrest by the Primeiro Comando da Capital began in São Paulo, leaving at least 150 dead.


2007  Karachi riots , which killed over 50 people in Karachi and above 100 injured, on the arrival of Chief Justice of Pakistan; Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in Karachi city.

2008 Wenchuan earthquake (measuring around 8.0 magnitude) in Sichuan, China, killed more than 69,000 people.


2010 – An Afriqiyah Airways Flight crashed, killing all but one person on board.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

%d bloggers like this: