Word of the day


Edacious – devouring; voracious; consuming.



Oh dear, only 5/10 in Stuff’s Biz-Quiz.



7/12 in NZ History Online’s Kiwi Christmas quiz.

Te Harinui


When I looked for Te Harinui a couple of years ago there was only one on YouTube, last year there were a couple and now there are several.

This one from the Twyford Singers is the best musically, though it would have been even better had they upped the tempo a bit so it sounds more like a song of celebration than a dirge.



Only 5/10 in the Herald’s changing world quiz.

What’s the problem with paying more for better?


A post-grad year at teachers’ collge taught me that I was not cut out for teaching.

However, one thing I gained in that year was an admiration for good teachers.

That’s why I’ve always struggled with the idea promoted by teacher unions, and many teachers, that all teachers should be paid the same.

The suggestion made a couple of years ago by John Hattie, author of a study on education, that’s it’s time to revisit performance-based pay for teachers was met with the usual response from Kate Gainford, head of the secondary teachers’ union:

Gainsford says it would be “extraordinarily problematic … on so many fronts” to work out an excellence-based pay formula. She would like to see the focus on supporting “all kids, in all classes, in all schools”, rather than on a sorting mechanism for teachers.

This is one of the arguments that is being brought out again in opposition to the idea of charter schools which would have the ability to pay good teachers more.

I doubt if there is any profession which puts more time and effort into evaluation than teaching. If it works for their pupils, why not for teachers?

Their fears appear to be based on the mistaken belief assessment of teachers will be based solely on narrow criteria like exam results and the “excellence” of their pupils.

There is much more to being a good teacher than that. Helping a pupil who starts with disadvantages, be they intellectual, physical, emotional, cultural linguistic or social, take small steps could be much more an achievement than helping a more able pupil take giant leaps.

Then there are other factors like mentoring other staff and contribution to extra curricular activities.

With the current tenure-based system of pay rises teachers generally only get get paid more for promotions which take them out of teaching and into administration.

Wouldn’t it be better to pay good teachers more to stay in the classroom?



8/10 in the Herald’s political quiz.

Great summer shut-down getting longer


Christmas is used as a date by which we aim to get things done.

Sometimes it’s a self-imposed deadline, sometimes it’s because we know if it’s not done before Christmas it won’t be done until early January at best.

The requirement to get things done by or before December 24th is even more important now that the great summer shut-down is getting longer with many businesses staying closed for an extra week.

The norm used to be about a fortnight from Christmas Eve and most businesses were back at work by the second week in January.

Since annual leave entitlements were extended to four weeks it’s not uncommon for businesses to close for an extra week. It’s easier to shut the office or factory altogether than have people taking another couple of weeks at odd times through the year with resulting disruption and pressure that puts on remaining staff.

Research by Mercer shows New Zealand has among the highest levels of statutory holiday entitlement in the Asia Pacific region but fewer holidays than the majority of Western Europe.

Western European employees, on average, have access to the greatest amount of statutory paid holiday in the world, in contrast to employees in the Asia Pacific region, which has the lowest levels. Japan, Australia and New Zealand offer 20 days of statutory holiday entitlement. This compared to Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Pakistan which provides 14 days followed by India and Indonesia (both 12) and China (10), Thailand (6) and the Philippines (5) offer the region’s lowest holiday entitlement.

I wonder what part more generous leave entitlements play in the economic mess in Europe?

Everyone needs holidays for the sake of their physical and mental health. The five to 14 days offered by some of our Asian neighbours wouldn’t be tolerated here, and nor should it.

However, not all workers here want 20 days – four weeks – annual leave on top of the 11 statutory holidays to which they’re entitled and they can choose to take a week’s extra pay in lieu of the fourth week.

December 18 in history


On December 18:

1271  Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia and China.

1620 – The Mayflower landed in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts with 102 Pilgrims on board.

1642  Abel Tasman and his men had the first known European encounter with Maori.

First contact between Maori and Europeans

1707 Charles Wesley, English Methodist hymnist, was born (d. 1788).

1777 The United States celebrated its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the Americans over General John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga in October.

1778 Joseph Grimaldi, English clown, was born (d. 1837).

1849 Henrietta Edwards, Canadian women’s rights activist, was born (d. 1931).

1863 Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, was born (d. 1914).

1878 Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, was born  (d. 1953).

1888 – Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law discovered the ancient Indian ruins of Mesa Verde.

1890 Edwin Armstrong, American inventor (FM radio) was born (d. 1954).

1898  Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat set the new land speed record going 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h), in a Jeantaud electric car. This is the first recognised land speed record.

1900 The Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook Narrow-gauge (2 ft 6 in or 762 mm) Railway (now the Puffing Billy Railway) in Victoria opened.

1908  Celia Johnson, English actress, was born (d. 1982).

1910 – Eric Tindill, New Zealand cricketer and rugby player, was born  (d. 2010).

1912 The Piltdown Man, later discovered to be a hoax, was found in the Piltdown Gravel Pit, by Charles Dawson.

1913 Willy Brandt, Chancellor of Germany, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born (d. 1992).

1916  Betty Grable, American actress, was born  (d. 1973).

1935  Jacques Pépin, French chef, was born.

1938 Chas Chandler, English musician (The Animals), was born (d. 1996).

1943  Keith Richards, English guitarist (The Rolling Stones), was born.

1946  Steve Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist, was born  (d. 1977).

1946 – Steven Spielberg, American film director, was born.

1963 Brad Pitt, American actor, was born.

1966 Saturn‘s moon Epimetheus was discovered by Richard L. Walker.

1969  Home Secretary James Callaghan‘s motion to make permanent the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, which had temporarily suspended capital punishment in England, Wales and Scotland for murder (but not for all crimes) for a period of five years, was carried by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

1973 Soyuz 13, crewed by cosmonauts Valentin Lebedev and Pyotr Klimuk, was launched.

1987  Larry Wall released the first version of the Perl programming language.

1997  HTML 4.0 was published by the World Wide Web Consortium.

1999 NASA launched into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT.

2006 – The first of a series of floods struck Malaysia. The death toll of all flooding was at least 118, with over 400,000 people displaced.

2009 – The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference closed with the signing of the Copenhagen Accord.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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