Word of the day


Scobiform –  like sawdust or scrapings.

Te Tai Tokerau close – iPredict


People putting their money on iPredict are favouring Hone Harawira to hold Te Tia Tokerau in tomorrow’s by-election.

Vote share contracts were launched this week for tomorrow’s Te Tai Tokerau by-election, and the market is predicting an extremely tight race. Hone Harawira is expected to receive 41.1% of the vote, with Labour’s Kelvin Davis a close second with 40.1%. The Maori Party’s Solomon Tipene is expected to receive 18.0% of the vote. However, Mr Harawira’s position in November’s General Election has strengthened over the past week, with the market indicating he has a 70% probability of winning Te Tai Tokerau in November (up from 52% last week).

The Electoral Commission website still isn’t showing Mana as a registered party but Graeme Edgeler has a media release saying it has been registered.

That means if Harawira wins his gamble will have paid off with extra funding as the leader of a registered party.

iPredict isn’t a poll but that result does reflect last week’s poll showing Harawira just ahead of Labour Kelvin Davis.

Maori electorates have a low voter turnout in general elections and people are usually even less enthusiastic about voting in by-elections.

The result could hinge on the parties’ ability to motivate people to vote, if indeed the race is as close as polls and iPredict suggest.

Can we rely on them? The last word on that goes to Rob:

   Chris Trotter – and others – are saying the polls understate Hone Harawira’s support because a lot of his supporters use cellphones, and/or are young.  . .

Ah, yeah.  Parties doing badly in the polls always seem to argue that for some reason their supporters aren’t getting polled.  . .

There might be a bit more variation in tomorrow’s byelection, because it is for the country’s northern-most Maori electorate, and if the stereotypes are true, there is a disproportionate number of the country’s drug dealers in that electorate – people who famously buy cheap prepaid cellphones on Trademe rather than have a landline.   But I’m always dubious about stereotypes, especially self-serving ones, and this one is a bit too pat. I’m also not too sure if drug dealers are particularly conscientious about voting.

Tomorrow we might know no more about the drug dealers but we will know how good the predictions were.

Why didn’t he do this yesterday?


Manufacturers and Employers Federation Northern CEO Alasdair Thompson should have apologised properly yesterday.

Instead he compounded the stupidity of his initials comments with two prolonged interviews here and here.

Now he’s finally said what he should have said yesterday:

The Chief Executive of the Employers & Manufacturers Association, Alasdair Thompson has issued an unreserved and unqualified apology for his comments and behaviour in the media yesterday on the issues to do with equal pay.

“I apologise for my poor choice of words and bad judgment during the discussion about gender and productivity in the workplace,” Mr Thompson said.

He said what started out as a genuine concern for the problems women face in the workplace soon disintegrated into facile observations that did a disservice to what is a very serious matter.  

“I raised issues that were misplaced and irrelevant to the discussion,” Mr Thompson said.

“I realise my remarks offended many people.

“I have personally always supported equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity, respect and courtesy for both women and men in the workplace. 

“The EMA unquestionably believes in equal pay and both the EMA and I believe gender plays no part in the productivity of a person, and that there is no justification for gender to influence what someone is paid.

“Although this experience has been very painful to me, it has also served as a valuable lesson – one I shall never forget.”

A lot of other people won’t forget it either.

Should they do so, Lew at Kiwpolitico has some very good advice  for anyone else at risk of putting both feet in their mouth.

UPDATE: Brian Edwards thinks Thompson has a case for complaining to the BSA.

PSA blaming wrong government


The Public Service Association is blaming the government for the loss of 100 Department of Conservation jobs.

The PSA is on the right track but has the wrong government. It’s the previous one which is to blame.

Labour made unsustainable increases in the cost of the public service in general and DoC in particular.

It took an aggressive  approach to increasing the conservation estate under the tenure review process, paid ridiculously high prices for high country land but didn’t provide for the extra costs of looking after it.

Now DoC’s budget is overstretched and its staff are paying the price for Labour’s folly.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. What does a luthier do?

2. Who said: “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.”?

3. What are the two missing lines in this verse:

If you can keep your head when all about you

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

4. It’s  pomme de terre in French;  patata in Italian; patata  or papa in Spanish and puteito in Maori, what is it in English?

5. What is a Brassica oleracea botrytis?

P0ints for answers:

Robert got one and a thanks for correcting me (Maori Dictionary http://www.maoridictionary.co.nz/index.cfm?dictionaryKeywords=potato&n=1&idiom=&phrase=&proverb=&loan= said puteito is obsloute).

Andrei got three.

David got three and a bonus for deduction.

PDM got two and an almost (right family for the Brassica, but wrong member).

Gravedodger got two and an apology for taking him back to school memories.

Adam wins an electronic batch of biscuits with four right.

Paul got two and a bonus for wit.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »



9/10 in the NZ Herald’s changing world quiz.

Honesty compels me to confess there was a fair amount of luck involved.

No need for another investigation into milk price


The Ministries of Agriculture and Economic Development and Treasury havelaunched a second probe into Fonterra’s pricing of milk.

They could save themselves a lot of time and effort by reading the National Bank’s Agrifocus which says :

On the face of it, it seems the rise in the price of fresh milk can be largely explained by the increase in international dairy prices and on-farm costs. Furthermore, the increase in fresh milk prices has not been out of step with the increase in the price of other staples. Its per unit cost when compared to other substitutes is particularly curious as it takes a considerable amount of money to produce, collect, transport, process and manufacture, store, ship and keep cool. In many cases milk is a far superior, nutrient–rich product.

If price increases alone are the precursor to an inquiry, then we would seem to need a lot of inquiries into other areas! Of course this will not be the case. The real issue is how economic agents adjust to the realities of a rising trend in real commodity prices – a reverse of the trend seen over the prior century.  New Zealand benefits hugely from such a trend, though there is a consumer cost along the way.

We export food and those exports are one of the few bright spots in the economy at the moment.

When demand and prices are high on international markets the price increases on the domestic market.

That doesn’t make it easy for people struggling on tight budgets but the problem isn’t high export prices it’s low incomes.

The report looked at the  rising cost of milk must be considered in conjunction with comparable movements in other staples and substitutes; rising input costs at the different levels of the supply chain; and international dairy prices.

Looking at the price movements of key foodstuffs over a 10 year period shows that the price of fresh milk has increased by 36 percent over this period, or 3.6 percent per annum. Over the same 10–year period, the headline inflation rate has risen 31 percent. Interestingly though, the price of different types of meats, bread and other dairy products, such as cheese, have all increased more than fresh milk over the last 10 years! The price of sheepmeat is the front-runner, increasing 73 percent over the last 10 years, over twice the rate of headline inflation.  There is some irony in this.  Economists normally point to competition as a way of keeping a lid on prices and there is certainly a lot of competition in the sheepmeat industry, so much in fact that people are calling for consolidation! So here we have an industry that has more competition and fragmentation than the dairy sector, which has seen higher price rises!  Of course, the underlying causes of price movements are far more extensive than that (i.e. reduced sheep numbers has led prices higher) but we still thought it worth noting.

Prices have gone up but let’s put it in perspective. A comparison with other liquid products (which don’t have the nutirtional benefits milk does) shows:

 It costs $1.84 for a standard litre of milk, $2.73 for a litre of bottled water, $1.52 for a litre of fizzy, $1.92 for fruit juice and $5.12 for a litre of beer (according to Statistics New Zealand).The price differential between milk and water is particularly curious in a country such as New Zealand where it is fine to drink water out of the tap.

In addition, we are trying to move up the value–added chain as an exporting nation but sometimes bemoan some brand–based products.  The suggestion that some branded milk products are priced too high seems perverse when we have constantly been told by various commentators, academics and successive governments that we need to build brands and market our products to add greater value (i.e. extract more money out of consumer wallets).  Especially when you consider the tap water/branded water differential!  It would be nonsensical to suggest that dairy companies should build brands offshore but not try to do the same in the domestic market. The discontent at the price of branded milk products seems to go against all the business principles that various individuals have preached over the last 20 years. And there is always the simple fact that if you cannot afford the branded product you can always purchase the unbranded one, which particularly in the case of fresh milk is very close in quality and content.

The other factor which impacts on the milk price is the cost of production.

Dairy farm total input prices have increased by nearly 34 percent, 3 percent more than aggregate consumer prices, and 2 percent less than the price increase for fresh milk.This would, on the face of it, seem to explain nearly all the observed milk price increase over the past 10 years. Ultimately, a complete examination would include other parts of the supply chain, notably the dairy processing sector, the two New Zealand supermarket chains and local dairies. This analysis would include margin and cost movements, but because of commercial sensitivity, it is difficult for us to obtain a complete dataset that would allow a full assessment for fresh milk.

Eleven of the 17 farm working expenditure categories have increased more than the price of milk.

The main culprits are fuel and electricity, which have increased a whopping 92 and 87 percent respectively over the last 10 years, or 9.2 and 8.7 percent respectively year-on-year.

One of the reasons fuel and electricity prices have increased is the imposition of the ETS. If Labour acts on its threat to force farmers to pay additional ETS levies it will impact on the price of milk.

Responsible but not at fault


Anger is a natural and normal reaction to stress, tiredness,  frustration and fear.

Christchurch people want someone to blame and some have chosen Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

In spite of the fact that his own home has been badly damaged, he remains focussed on the recovery effort and  he has reacted to the pressure and personal attacks with grace:

“I’m getting a bit of flak, you know, people are asking questions but inevitably in a circumstance like this someone cops it. You’ve only got to look at the distress in people’s lives at the moment to know that anything that is vented my way is not worth worrying about. It’s done at a time when people are under extreme stress – I understand that.”

Christchurch people have had more than enough.

The Minister is responsible for the recovery but he’s not at fault for the the time it’s taking.

There is nothing he or anyone else can do to provide the faster and more concrete solution people want for what Gravedodger correctly calls a liquid situation.

June 24 in history


972 Battle of Cedynia, the first documented victory of Polish forces.


1128  Battle of São Mamede, near Guimarães:Portuguese forces led by Alfonso I defeated his mother D. Teresa and D. Fernão Peres de Trava. 

1314  First War of Scottish Independence: The Battle of Bannockburn concluded with a decisive victory of the Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce, though England did not recognise Scottish independence until 1328 with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton.


1340  Hundred Years’ War: Battle of Sluys: The French fleet was almost destroyed by the English Fleet commanded in person by Edward III of England.

A miniature of the battle from Jean Froissart's Chronicles, 14th century

1374  A sudden outbreak of St. John’s Dance caused people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and began to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapsed from exhaustion.

1441  King Henry VI founded Eton College.

Eton shield.gif

1497  John Cabot landed in North America at Newfoundland; the first European exploration of the region since the Vikings.

1497  Cornish rebels Michael An Gof and Thomas Flamank were executed at Tyburn, London.

1509  Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon were crowned King and Queen of England.


1535  The Anabaptist state of Münster was conquered and disbanded.

1542  St. John of the Cross, Spanish Carmelite mystic and poet, was born (d. 1591).

1571  Miguel Lopez de Legazpi founded Manila, the capital of the Republic of the Philippines.

1597  The first Dutch voyage to the East Indies reached Bantam (on Java).

1604  Samuel de Champlain discovered the mouth of the Saint John River, site of Reversing Falls and the present day city of Saint John, New Brunswick.

1662  The Dutch attemptted but failed to capture Macau.

1664  The colony of New Jersey was founded.

1692 Kingston, Jamaica was founded.

1717  The Premier Grand Lodge of England, the first Masonic Grand Lodge in the world (now the United Grand Lodge of England), was founded in London.


1748  John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley opened the Kingswood School in Bristol.


1793 The first republican constitution in France was adopted.

1794 Bowdoin College was founded.


1812 Napoleonic Wars: Napoleon’s Grande Armée crossed the Neman River beginning his invasion of Russia.

Emblem of Napoleon Bonaparte.svg

1813 Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman and reformer, was born  (d. 1887).

1813  Battle of Beaver Dams : A British and Indian combined force defeat the U.S Army.

Laura Secord warns Fitzgibbons, 1813.jpg

1821  The Battle of Carabobo took place – the decisive battle in the war of independence of Venezuela from Spain.


1859  Battle of Solferino: (Battle of the Three Sovereigns). Sardinia and France defeat Austria in Solferino, northern Italy.

Napoléon III à la bataille de Solférino..jpg

1866  Battle of Custoza: an Austrian army defeats the Italian army during the Austro-Prussian War.


1880  First performance of O Canada, the song that became the national anthem of Canada, at the Congrès national des Canadiens-Français.

O Canada.png

1893 Roy O. Disney, a founder of the Walt Disney Company, was born  (d. 1971).

Logo WaltDisneyCo.svg

1894  Marie Francois Sadi Carnot was assassinated by Sante Geronimo Caserio.


1901  First exhibition of Pablo Picasso‘s work opened.

1902 King Edward VII developed  appendicitis, delaying his coronation.

 1905  NZ Truth was launched.

New Zealand Truth hits the newstands 

1916  Mary Pickford became the first female film star to get a million dollar contract.

1916  World War I: The Battle of the Somme began with a week long artillery bombardment on the German Line.

Cheshire Regiment sentry, Somme, 1916

1918  First airmail service in Canada from Montreal to Toronto.

1922  The American Professional Football Association formally changed its name to the National Football League.

National Football League 2008.svg

1928  With declining business, the International Railway (New York – Ontario) began using one-person crews on trolley operations in Canada.

1932  A bloodless Revolution instigated by the People’s Party ended the absolute power of King Prajadhipok of Siam (Thailand).


1938  Pieces of a meteor, estimated to have weighed 450 metric tons when it hit the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded, land near Chicora, Pennsylvania.

1939  Siam was renamed to Thailand by Plaek Pibulsonggram, the third Prime Minister.


1944 Jeff Beck, English musician (The Yardbirds).

1945  The Moscow Victory Parade took place.

1947  Mick Fleetwood, English musician (Fleetwood Mac), was born.

1947  Kenneth Arnold made the first widely reported UFO sighting near Mount Rainier, Washington.


 Patrick Moraz, Swiss keyboard player (Yes) was born.

1948  Start of the Berlin Blockade. The Soviet Union makes overland travel between the West with West Berlin impossible.


1949 John Illsley, English bassist (Dire Straits) was born.

1949  The first Television Western, Hopalong Cassidy, was aired on NBC starring William Boyd.

File:Hopalong Cassidy -30.jpg

1957  In Roth v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that obscenity was not protected by the First Amendment .

1961 Curt Smith, English musician and songwriter (Tears for Fears), was born.

1963  The United Kingdom grants Zanzibar internal self-government.

1975  An Eastern Air Lines Boeing 727 crashes at John F. Kennedy Airport, New York. 113 people died.

1981  The Humber Bridge was opened to traffic, connecting Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

1982  British Airways Flight 9, sometimes referred to as “the Jakarta incident”, flies into a cloud of volcanic ash thrown up by the eruption of Mount Galunggung, resulting in the failure of all four engines.

Boeing 747 in flight at night. A red glow is seen in front of the nose and the leading edges of the wings and horizontal and vertical stabilizers.

1985  STS-51-G Space Shuttle Discovery completed its mission.

Space Shuttle Discovery

1993  Yale computer science professor Dr. David Gelernter lost the sight in one eye, the hearing in one ear, and part of his right hand after receiving a mailbomb from the Unabomber.

1994  A United States Air Force B-52 aircraft crashed at Fairchild Air Force Base, killing all four members of its crew.


2002  The Igandu train disaster in Tanzania killed 281, the worst train accident in African history.

2004  In New York state, capital punishment was declared unconstitutional.

2007  The Angora Fire started near South Lake Tahoe, California destroying 200+ structures in its first 48 hours.

Angora Fire

2010 – John Isner of the United States defeated Nicolas Mahut of France at Wimbledon, in the longest match in professional tennis history.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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