How did the Budget affect your family?


It’s a simple enough question – how did the Budget affect your family?

It wouldn’t be silly for an opposition MP to run a poll asking it.

But it would be silly to do so a couple of days before the Budget is delivered, giving people who read Kiwiblog and Keeping Stock the opportunity to vote and give results he wouldn’t be expecting:

  • Better off (87%, 297 Votes)
  • Worse off (11%, 39 Votes)
  • No change (2%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 341


Word of the day


Rancidification – chemical decomposition of fats, oils and other lipids; disagreeable odour or taste of decomposing oils or fats; rank; repugnant; nasty, rancid remarks.

Alf Grumble ruminates on rancidification and its political implications here.

Fonterra expects record production


Fonterra is expecting record production for the 2010/11 season after the best autumn weather in several years. 

Production is 4% ahead of the same time last year with a couple of weeks of the season still to go. This time last year drought resulted in lower milk production.

Steve Murphy, general manager milk supply said:

Fonterra last season collected 1,286 million kilograms of milksolids.

“Exceptionally favourable pasture growth conditions since January mean our farmer shareholders have enjoyed strong production around the country, particularly north of Taupo. This is a real turnaround from earlier in the season when many of our farmers were struggling with a cold and wet spring. This, coupled with an early December drought, depressed production levels dramatically.”

 “It was a tough start to the season due to the northern drought. Farmers then had to cope with more drought, floods and snowstorms. But the recent excellent pasture growth has meant herds are now in good condition, which bodes well for calving and the new season’s start.”

Mr Murphy said the additional milk would be welcomed in the market where supply remained tight.

He noted prices for globally traded dairy products, while off their highs of early March, were still at historically high levels.

“This means farmers are on track to enjoy another good season, which will flow through the economy and benefit every New Zealander.”

Farmers have been very cautious, paying off debt and containing costs in the expectation that next season’s payout will not be as high as this one’s.

But record production when international prices are well above the long term average is very good news not just for the company and its shareholders, employees and those who supply and service them but the wider economy as well.

Energy changes bring lower prices and dividend


The government will receive a special dividend of $520,996,030  from Meridian Energy following the sale of two hydro power stations on the Upper Waitaki.

The sale is part of a package of Government reforms aimed at improving the electricity sector. Meridian is selling Tekapo A and B power stations on the Waitaki Power Scheme to Genesis Energy.

In December 2009 the Government announced its decisions from the Ministerial Review that include a series of changes that support the overall Government objectives to improve retail competition in the industry, promote the reliability of electricity supply and improve governance in the sector through the establishment of the Electricity Authority.

I had my doubts about the wisdom of this policy when it was first mooted. But this dividend and the lower prices we’re seeing as a result of increased competition have changed my mind.

High lamb price cause for celebration not outrage


Phil Goff was reportedly outraged at the price of lamb during his weekend supermarket shop.

“We bought some chops, half a dozen chops – it was 15 bucks for that.”

Shock, horror, after several years of prices which barely covered the price of production, if that, farmers are getting a decent return. That’s coming from the demand for our meat on international markets and those prices are reflected in our supermarkets and butcheries.

The increasing price of food isn’t easy for people on low to middle incomes. But they’re boosting export income which is helping economic growth and that is the only sustainable way to boost jobs and wages.

It’s only three years ago that Federated Farmers’ T150 campaign which set a target of $150 for lambs was considered unrealistic. This season prices have been passing that – getting up to $199 at Temuka last week.

That is a cause for celebration, not outrage. Higher prices for primary produce are the seeds from which our much needed recovery will grow.

Public participation prerequisite for democracy


The Human Rights Commission is concerned that the lack of public participation in fundamental legal reforms is damaging parliamentary democracy.

 In the past five years fundamental human rights issues such as the lack of public participation in submission processes, diminishing collective deliberation about fundamental changes, rushed legislation, the by-passing of select committees, and what appears to be less respect for submitters in select committee proceedings have been of concern, says Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor.

In a submission to the Standing Orders Review, the Commission says that each of these on its own is a cause for concern but the aggregated effect warrants serious scrutiny so that parliamentary processes are not further weakened.

The problem isn’t just a lack of engagement with parliamentary processes, it’s the low membership of and interest in political parties.

What does it say about the strength and stability of a party when someone who isn’t even a member can execute a coup and become its leader?

What danger does it pose when that party is in government and that person can have so much influence without even being in parliament?

MMP gives much greater power to parties at a time when membership is declining.

This isn’t confined to politics – many churches, sports clubs, service groups and other voluntary organisations have difficulty recruiting and retaining members too.

That is a concern because they are part of a strong and vibrant civil society. The declining interest and involvement in political parties is even more serious.

A party leadership change by a takeover of a small caucus supported by a low membership is the sort of thing that should only be possible in banana republics. Now that’s it’s happened once, what’s to stop it happening again with more serious consequences?

Without a resurgence in participation in parties and the political process, how long will it be before our version of democracy becomes of the few by the few for the few?

Good manners rule on marae


At last, board members of the Te Tii Marae have run out of patience with Titiwhai Harawira.

Titewhai Harawira faces a possible ban from Te Tii Marae after being accused of “rancidification of Maori protocols” at a recent Maori Party hui.

In an email to the Herald, seven board members from the lower marae at Waitangi said they were disappointed protocols such as manaakitanga (looking after people and agreeing to disagree), whanaungatanga (strengthening families) and kaitiakitanga (caring for resources or people) were becoming meaningless to “a pocket of Maori people”. . .

. . . The Te Tii email said the marae would not be a “dumping ground for personal agendas” any longer.

 “The political poncing and resultant rancidification of Maori protocols by bullies who want everything their own way by whatever foul means, are not traits that this particular board would wish to have our children and young adults perceive as being the Ngapuhi way forward.

 “The board’s priority is to preserve the dignity of the marae and trespass notices will be issued where the board considers it necessary to do so,” the trustees wrote.

 The best response to rudeness is good manners and reason, just like this.

Dear Don – can we trust you?


Dear Don

I read your letter to John Key with a heavy heart because I thought I could trust you.

I’ve always regarded you as a man of your word. But if you want John to break promises he made, then how can I trust you not to break yours?

You are right to oppose policies which give public money to people in want rather than in need. Working for Families, interest free student loans and Kiwisaver fall into that category to a greater or lesser extent.

But these were dead rats National swallowed before the last election and it would be electoral suicide to regurgitate them.

The party spent nine long years in opposition trying to win back public confidence after the Bolger government broke promises. (It was wrong to make some of those promises in the first place, but that’s another argument). Right or not, to make the promises, it broke them and paid dearly for it.

In 2008 National was deliberately moderate in what it promised to do this term. The party and its leadership had to show they could be trusted, and they have. .

That’s why any changes to WFF, student loans and Kiwisaver won’t take place until after the election. This is a principled position which gives voters information. If enough of them accept the need for the changes, National will then have a mandate to implement them. If they don’t, we’ll be in the unsteady hands of a Labour-Greens administration propped up by the likes of Winston Peters, Hone Harawira and whoever gets dragged into parliament in their wake.

National did argue for the abolition of Maori seats when it was in opposition and this was part of the party’s election manifesto. But when you enter a coalition agreement both sides have to give  at least a little and this was one area in which National gave way to the Maori Party.

That doesn’t mean that abolishing the seats isn’t still one of National’s aims, it’s just one it was prepared to park for three years.

National could have left the Maori Party out in the cold as Labour did after previous elections and had it done so the Maori seats would have gone. But by choosing to invite the Maori Party into coalition, National was able to form a stronger and more stable government not beholden to a single wee party to pass legislation.

This required compromise but that’s the reality of MMP politics. If you want to achieve anything if or when you return to parliament that’s something you’ll have to accept.

National inherited an economy in recession and has faced an unprecedented string of difficulties since then – the global financial crisis, finance company collapses droughts, floods, blizzards, the Pyke River explosion and two devastating earthquakes followed by continuing physical and financial after shocks . . .

The government’s response has been moderate and measured. It has managed to take the people with it as it turns the economy from one going backwards under consumption fuelled by borrowing to one going forwards, albeit slowly, on the solid and sustainable base of savings, investment and exports.

In doing so National has shown it can be trusted. This doesn’t guarantee a second term in government but had it gone back on its promises it would have guaranteed it had only one term.

In politics you can’t get everything you want when you want it. The fullsteam-ahead in one direction with previous adminsitrations followed by a fast reversal hasn’t served us well.

Slower and steadier, keeping promises and taking the public with them is much more likely to result in change for the good and the long term.

It also builds trust which gets me back to the start. If you are exhorting John to break his promises – which of yours can we trust you to keep?

Yours sincerely,

May 17 in history


152 Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was executed for treason.


1536  George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford and four other men were executed for treason.

1590  Anne of Denmark was crowned Queen of Scotland.

1642 Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve  founded the Ville Marie de Montréal.

Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve.jpg

1673  Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette began exploring the Mississippi River.


1749 Edward Jenner, English medical researcher was born (d. 1823).


1775  American Revolutionary War: the Continental Congress banned trade with Canada.

Congress voting independence.jpg

1792 The New York Stock Exchange was formed.


1805 Muhammad Ali became Wāli of Egypt.

ModernEgypt, Muhammad Ali by Auguste Couder, BAP 17996.jpg

1809 Napoleon I of France ordered the annexation of the Papal States to the French Empire.

1814  Occupation of Monaco changed from French to Austrian.

1814 The Constitution of Norway was signed and the Danish Crown Prince Christian Frederik was elected King of Norway by the Norwegian Constituent Assembly.

1849 A fire threatened to burn St. Louis, Missouri to the ground.

1860 German football club TSV 1860 München was founded.


1863 Rosalía de Castro published Cantares Gallegos, her first book in the Galician language.

1865 – The International Telegraph Union (later International Telecommunication Union) was established.

1868 Horace Elgin Dodge, American car manufacturer, was born (d. 1920).

1873 El Paso, Texas was established by charter from the Texas Legislature.


1875  Aristides won the first Kentucky Derby.

1877 The Victorian Football League was founded.

Vfl logo.png

189– The first Omonoia station of the Athens metro was inaugurated in Greece.

1900  Second Boer War: British troops relieved Mafeking.


1902 Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovered the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer.


1911 Maureen O’Sullivan, Irish actress, was born (d. 1998).

1914  The Protocol of Corfu was signed recognising full autonomy to Northern Epirus under nominal Albanian sovereignty.

1915 The last British Liberal Party government (Herbert Henry Asquith) fell.


1919 War Department (UK) ordered the use of National Star Insignia on all airplanes.

1927 U.S. Army aviation pioneer, Major Harold Geiger, died in the crash of his Airco DH.4 de Havilland plane.


1933  Vidkun Quisling and Johan Bernhard Hjort formed Nasjonal Samling — the national-socialist party of Norway.

1935  Dennis Potter, English writer, was born (d. 1994).


1936 Dennis Hopper, American actor and director, was born  (d. 2010). 

1939 The Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers played in the first-ever televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game.

1939 Gary Paulsen, American author, was born.

1940 World War II: Germany occupied Brussels.

1940 World War II: the old city centre of the Dutch town of Middelburg was bombed by the German Luftwaffe, to force the surrender of the Dutch armies in Zeeland.

1943 The United States Army contracted with the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School to develop the ENIAC.


1943 – World War II: the Dambuster Raids by No. 617 Squadron RAF on German dams.

Mohne Dam Breached.jpg

1949  Bill Bruford, English musician (Yes), was born.

1954 The United States Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education which declared that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students and denying black children equal educational opportunities unconstitutional.

1956 Sugar Ray Leonard, American boxer, was born.

Ray Leonard.jpg

1961 Enya, Irish singer and songwriter, was born.

1962 George Wilder escaped from New Plymouth prison.

George Wilder escapes from prison

1963  Bruno Sammartino defeated Nature Boy Buddy Rogers in 48 seconds in Madison Square Garden for the WWWF Heavyweight Championship. It begins the longest heavyweight championship reign in professional wrestling history.

1967 Six-Day War: President Abdul Nasser of Egypt demanded dismantling of the peace-keeping UN Emergency Force in Egypt.

1969 Venera program: Soviet Venera 6 began its descent into the atmosphere of Venus, sending back atmospheric data before being crushed by pressure.

1970 – Thor Heyerdahl set sail from Morocco on the papyrus boat Ra II to sail the Atlantic Ocean.


1971 Princess Máxima of the Netherlands was born.

1973 – Watergate scandal: Hearings begin in the United States Senate and are televised.

1974 Andrea Corr, Irish singer (The Corrs), was born.

1974 Police in Los Angeles raided the Symbionese Liberation Army‘s headquarters, killing six members, including Camilla Hall.

Symbionese Liberation Army Naga Symbol color.svg

1974  Thirty-three people were killed by terrorist bombings in Dublin and Monaghan.

1980 General Chun Doo-hwan of South Korea declared martial law in order to suppress student demonstrations.

A portrait of an Asian man in his 40s wearing glasses and a beige wool jumper. He sits on a chair and narrows his eyes.

1980 – On the eve of presidential elections, Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path attacked a polling location in the town of Chuschi, Ayacucho, starting the Internal conflict in Peru.

The Shining Path's flag

1983 U.S. Department of Energy declassified documents showing world’s largest mercury pollution event in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (ultimately found to be 4.2 million pounds), in response to Appalachian Observer’s Freedom of Information Act request.

1983 Lebanon, Israel, and the United States signed an agreement on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.

1984 Prince Charles calls a proposed addition to the National Gallery, London, a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend,” sparking controversies on the proper role of the Royal Family and the course of modern architecture.

1987  An Iraqi fighter jet fired two missiles into the U.S. warship USS Stark (FFG-31), killing 37 and injuring 21 of her crew.

USS Stark FFG-31

1992 Three days of popular protests against the government of Prime Minister of Thailand Suchinda Kraprayoon began in Bangkok, leading to a military crackdown that resulted in 52 officially confirmed deaths, many disappearances, hundreds of injuries, and more than 3,500 arrests.

1994  Malawi held its first multiparty elections.

1995  After 18 years as the mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac took office as President of France.

1997 – Troops of Laurent Kabila march into Kinshasa. Zaire is officially renamed Democratic Republic Of Congo.

2004 Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.

2006 The aircraft carrier USS Oriskany was sunk in the Gulf of Mexico to be an artificial reef.

USS Oriskany

2007 Trains from North and South Korea crossed the 38th Parallel in a test-run agreed by both governments. This was the first time that trains crossed the Demilitarized Zone since 1953.

2009 Dalia Grybauskaitė was elected the first female President of Lithuania.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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