Word of the day


Hesternopothia – pathological yearning for the good old days, beyond notalgia.

Few are well tended lawns


Quote of the day:

All flesh is grass, of course, but few of us are a well tended lawn. Theodore Dalrymple



3/10 – two of which were guesses – in the Herald’s sports quiz.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”?

2. It’s cadeau in French, regalo in Italian and Spanish and perehana in Maori, what is it in English?

3. What are Ilex and  Hedera helix?

4. Who is believed to have led the first Christmas service in New Zealand?

5. Name four of Santa Claus’s eight reindeer.

Meanwhile in Cabinet . . .


Faces of the day:

FEMALE POWER TRIO: Ms Bennett, Ms Parata and Ms Collins say they are 'real power' of Cabinet (pic: Patrick Gower)
Photo borrowed from TV3’s:  Cabinet’s female trio take on Key’s boys.

Landcorp has conflict of interest – Fay


Sir Michael Fay who is part of a group of dairy farmers and Iwi wanting to buy the 16 Crafar farms says the bid is being kneecapped by Landcorp.

“Landcorp is lending a New Zealand face and New Zealand expertise to an overseas bid that fails to meet the Overseas Investment Office test of adding value to an asset,” says Sir Michael. “Shanghai Pengxin admits it knows absolutely nothing about dairy farming.

Landcorp’s involvement is nothing more than an attempt to sanitise a deal that stinks in the minds of most New Zealanders.

“Chris Kelly says Landcorp is doing a good deal to enhance dividends to the Government, Landcorp’s owner. But Landcorp is effectively helping to shut out a New Zealand bid, competing against our own dairy farmers and flying in the face of public opinion polling that shows more than 80% of New Zealanders want the Government to actually step in and stop the sale of the Crafar farms to foreign buyers.

The SOE should be enhancing dividends but Fay isn’t the first to complain that it competes with private individuals and companies in doing so.

“Under its Statement of Corporate Intent Landcorp is supposed to have regard to the best interests of the community in which it operates. Clearly in this case it is direct conflict with the interests of the Central North Island farming community and the New Zealand public in general.

“It’s no wonder so many New Zealand farmers have had a gutsful of Landcorp if they can’t see this conflict. Perhaps Landcorp should be the first SOE to be sold off and the whole lot can be returned to New Zealand farmers who will certainly do a better job of running those farms than a Government department.”

The difficulty in selling the Crafar farms as an entity shows that it wouldn’t be sensible to try to sell Landcorp as a going concern. But I’d be happy for it to gradually sell off its farms one by one until it put itself out of business.

If the government has a role in farming it is in training, research and irrigation, not in business which competes with the rest of us.

Sir Michael says the argument about Landcorp being charged with making good returns for Government was a stupid line to run to justify the SOEs involvement in the Shanghai Pengxin Crafar bid.

“The Government will do much better out of the 16 farms being retained in New Zealand ownership with all the dividends staying in New Zealand and all the wages, salaries, payouts and taxes flowing into local communities and the Government’s coffers

“Landcorp is at best an average farmer of the vast tracts of land it holds and generally returns much lower production figures than their neighbours. Now they are setting themselves up as tenant farmers of land that the public demands should be retained in New Zealand ownership.

“Where’s the sense or their mandate for that?”

I don’t have a problem with foreign ownership per se. Regardless of who owns the farms most of the wages, salaries, and taxes would be paid in New Zealand. If they’re owned by foreign-based people or companies some of the payout and dividends would go overseas, but only after overseas money came in for the purchase and further investment.

But I agree that Landcorp’s return isn’t particularly good.

The $1.6 billion tied up in its assets would be better used elsewhere and not in competition with the private sector.

Sideshows still going on


One of the problems which dogged Phil Goff’s leadership of the Labour Party was sideshows by members of caucus which took the focus off him.

The change of leader hasn’t changed that.

When a new leader takes charge it’s both good manners and good sense for the rest of the party to give him some clear air to get all the positive media focus he can get.

Yet just one day after David Shearer became Labour’s leader its immediate-past deputy, Annette King was making news:

Her parliamentary ambitions are over, but Annette King may now turn her thoughts to the Wellington mayoralty.  

It’s possible she was just responding to a question from a reporter but even so she could have waited to talk about that and  should have waited for what came next:

. . .  but there is a hint of bitterness.

“It’s interesting that, when I read the history of all the people who are responsible for all of our party, that somehow I never get mentioned.

“I actually chaired it all, pushed most of it through, but never mind, it’s always men that get the greater accolades here.”

 The Labour caucus had been more united in recent years than she could remember and Mr Shearer would ease concerns about divisions through the appointment of portfolios, she said.

United in their divisions perhaps, including the one between the men and women.

As for easing concerns about divisions through the appointment of portfolios, is that a not too veiled threat about the consequences should she not get the appointment she wants?


Adolf points out in a comment that David CUnliffe isn’t playing nicely either:

Defeated Labour leadership contender David Cunliffe will not say if he will accept an invitation to be on the party’s front bench, as he needs time to “work out what’s in my gut”.

What’s in his gut, could it be bile?

December 15 in history


37 Nero, Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, was born  (d. 68).

1791  The United States Bill of Rights became law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly.

1832 Gustave Eiffel, French engineer and architect (Eiffel tower), was born (d. 1923).

1863 The mountain railway from Anina to Oravita in Romania was used for the first time.

1891  James Naismith introduced the first version of basketball, with thirteen rules, a peach basket nailed to either end of his school’s gymnasium, and two teams of nine players.

1892 J. Paul Getty, American oil tycoon, was born (d. 1976).
1905 The Pushkin House was established in St. Petersburg to preserve the cultural heritage of Alexander Pushkin.

1906 – The London Underground‘s Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway opened.

1915 – Evacuation of Gallipolli began.

1915 – World War I: Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig replaced John French, 1st Earl of Ypres as Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force.

1930 Edna O’Brien, Irish novelist and short story writer, was born.

1933  – Donald Woods, South African journalist and anti-apartheid activist, was born.

1939 Cindy Birdsong, American singer (The Supremes), was born.

1939  Gone with the Wind received its première at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

1942 – Dave Clark, English musician (The Dave Clark Five), was born.

1944 The Finance Act (No. 3) abolished the Chinese poll tax, introduced in 1881, which was described by Minister of Finance Walter Nash as a ‘blot on our legislation’.

Poll tax on Chinese immigrants abolished

1951 The towering Belmont railway viaduct, which bridged a deep gully at Paparangi, northeast of Johnsonville, Wellington, built in 1885 by the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, was demolished by Territorial Army engineers.

Belmont viaduct blown up

1955  Jens Olsen’s World Clock started by Swedish King Frederick IX and Jens Olsen’s youngest grandchild Birgit.

1965  Gemini 6A, crewed by Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford, was launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida.

1973  John Paul Getty III, grandson of American billionaire J. Paul Getty, was found alive near Naples, Italy, after being kidnapped by an Italian gang on July 10, 1973.

1978  President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States would recognise the People’s Republic of China and cut off all relations with Taiwan.

1997 The Treaty of Bangkok was signed allowing the transformation of Southeast Asia into a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

2000 The 3rd reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was shut down due to foreign political pressure.

2001 The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened after 11 years and $27,000,000 to fortify it, without fixing its famous lean.

2006  First flight of the F-35 Lightning II.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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