Word of the day


Asseverate – to affirm, aver or declare positively or earnestly or with solemnity.

Good people, good businesses


The finalists for the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year are:

Dr Sharad Paul Auckland :

 Dr Paul is a medical doctor who’s Skin Surgery Clinic gives free skin cancer checks every year and offers treatment for the fraction of the cost of other specialists. In 2010 he invented the first new skin graft technique for 100 years that cuts costs, pain and healing time for patients. He has also just developed the first skin cream range dedicated for brown skin. In addition to his medical achievements, he runs an award winning bookstore and uses all of its proceeds to fund literacy programs in low decile Auckland schools, with the aim of helping children to “dream with their eyes wide open”. In the words of his nominator, “he is one of the most inspiring, intelligent and compassionate men you are likely to meet”.

Sir Richard Taylor Wellington:

 Richard Taylor is an extraordinary New Zealander. He has set a shining example by being a global player in the international movie industry, but decidedly choosing to base himself in New Zealand. His company Weta, is a huge success, employing well over 1000 people and will annual revenues in the 100s of millions per annum. But most importantly, Richard is a passionate and articulate New Zealander, committed to this country, and committed to showing New Zealanders that we can do it here. Let me quote “Why shouldn’t it be us? We stay here firmly in Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand, first because we are New Zealanders and this is our home and I don’t believe I would work in this sector, in this field, if I had to work somewhere else. This is where I want to work and you couldn’t hope to work anywhere more fulfilling”.
Richard is an intensely decent man. He is committed to his family. Despite his enormous list of Hollywood successes and multiple Oscars, the work he is most proud of is the TV series “Jane and the Dragon”, whose message is “girls can do anything”. He is humble and unassuming and yet passionate and articulate. He has a strong vision for New Zealand as a place of talent where we develop and earn from our own intellectual property.
 For more about Richard read Sir Paul Callaghan’s (2011 New Zealander of the Year) interview with him in his book “Wool to Weta”. The man is a legend who shows us all how it can be done while remaining true to our Kiwi values.

Dame Suzie Moncrieff Nelson
Sculptor Suzie Moncrieff’s ingenious 1987 promotion of an art gallery in Nelson has grown to become one of the world’s most prestigious art and design competitions.

The World of Wearable Art™ is a theatrical spectacle for colour, music, dance and art that has migrated from walls to the moving human body. Each year this highlight of the New Zealand cultural calendar surprises amuses and astounds sell out audiences. It also promotes and showcases New Zealand to the world as a place of inspiration and creativity.

Suzie Moncrieff, the creative visionary and founder of this unique concept has dedicated the past 25 years to the realisation of her dream to make this an international arts competition celebrated right here in New Zealand. She has worked tirelessly to break down the barriers and make art accessible to all.

Alongside that she has focused on educating people on the importance of the quality of the work being ‘world class’ resulting in designers and artists from all around New Zealand and the globe entering. This combination of creativity and education has enhanced individuals self-belief and led them to create art works that have brought joy and inspiration to more than 250,000 people thought the world over the last 10 years.

The winner will be annoucnced on February 16th.

Apropos of celebrating success, the finalists in the New Zealand international business awards are:

Best Business Operating Internationally –Under $10m

ASPEQ (Wellington);  BioVittoria (Hamilton); Energy Mad (Christchurch); Escea  (Dunedin); Fastmount (Auckland).               

Best Business Operating Internationally – $10m-$50m

Altitude Aerospace Interiors  (Auckland); Canary Enterprises (Hamilton); EasiYo Products  (Auckland); Les Mills International  (Auckland); Trilogy Advanced Natural Skincare   (Wellington);  Triodent  (Katikati); Vista Entertainment Solutions             (Auckland).

Best Business Operating Internationally –Over $50m

BCS   (Auckland); Buckley Systems  (Auckland); Christchurch Engine Centre               (Christchurch); Downer NZ  (Tauranga); Orion Health (Auckland); Rakon (Auckland); SKOPE (Christchurch); Tait Electronics (Christchurch); Westland Milk Products (Hokitika)


Supported by the Ministry of Science and Innovation

Best Use of Research and Development in International Business

Downer NZ (Auckland); Energy Mad  (Christchurch); Seperex  (Dunedin); Technopak (Auckland); Westland Milk Products  (Hokitika).

Best Commercialisation of Intellectual Property in International Business

Burger Fuel  (Auckland); Everedge IP   (Auckland); Westland Milk Products (Hokitika)

Best Use of Design in International Business

ASPEQ  (Wellington); Canary Enterprises    (Hamilton); Energy Mad (Christchurch); Sistema Plastics (Auckland); Triodent  (Katikati).

Most Innovative Business Model in International Business

Burger Fuel  (Auckland); Energy Mad  (Christchurch); GMP Pharmaceuticals           (Auckland)

Winners will be announced on March 21st.



We never had to tell our sons they had disabilities.

They both had brain disorders which left them profoundly handicapped and as far as we could tell they couldn’t understand anything we told them.

But we did have to explain about disability to their sister who was aged two when her first brother was born and four when the second arrived. We also had to explain to lots of other people – children and adults.

We tried to do it simply and honestly, describing the severity of the disabilities without in any way taking away from our sons their humanity and right to be treated as people in their own right.

The question of what to tell children who have a disability,illness or other condition which makes them “different” and when to tell them, is one of the many challenges facing their parents.

The best example I’ve seen of it is The day I told him he was “awesome” part one and part two at Autism and Oughtisms.

Awesome is an overused and often misused word, but in its true sense is the appropriate one for these posts. I am in awe of the sensitivity and creativity the mother showed.

Apropos of this, I recommend two very good novels.

Crash by William Taylor – the story of Poddy who has Downs Syndrome and Yes by Deborah Burnside – the story of Marty, a teenager with autism.




8/10 in the Herald’s travel quiz.

Quote of the day


6. The best thing for wages and working conditions is full employment, and we can achieve this by getting rid of the minimum wage and regulations. This will increase wages and improve working conditions, but these higher wages and conditions won’t reduce employment in the same way as the regulations did before because free market.


Because optimal.

There is some level of wages and working conditions which is the best we can do at any particluar level of technology or wealth. The trade offs of those in work having great wages and conditions and those who can’t get work because their labour is not worth the great wages and conditions. Tim Worstall

Don’t know courage until tested – updated


I did a lot of lifesaving when I was at high school.

All the rescuing was done in a swimming pool with a calm “patient” who was able to swim and the CPR was done as best we could without actually touching our partners who acted as the bodies.

I did lots of practice and passed all the tests but it always worried me that although I knew what to do in theory, I’d panic and get it wrong or not do it at all if I had to put it into practice.

The knowledge and training gave me the responsibility to use it if called on and I didn’t know if I would.

What I learned at school has been reinforced by CPR lessons given after each baby was born and more recent first aid classes.  But again I wondered what I’d do if put to the test?

I found out with our first son who stopped breathing when he was 20 weeks old.

He was on an apnoea mattress which alarmed in the middle of the night.

False alarms weren’t unknown but I leapt out of bed, glanced at him, re-set the mattress, then remembered what the nurse who’d taught us CPR had said: that technology has its place but it doesn’t replace your eyes and ears.

As I looked at Tom more closely the alarm went again and I realised this was for real.

I lifted him from his cradle, put him on the floor and started doing CPR but his chest wouldn’t move. My farmer grabbed the Plunket book, read out the instructions one by one and I realised I had tilted Tom’s head too far back. I moved it forward a little, blew, softly into his nose and mouth and saw his chest move.

My farmer phoned the ambulance. In those days the call went to the local hospital, it was answered by someone who used to shear for us. He said he’d give the ambulance directions and clear the line so my farmer could ring our GP and his nurse who lived a couple of kilometres away.

The nurse came up straight away and took over the CPR until our GP then the ambulance arrived.

Doing CPR on my own clean, uninjured baby, with my farmer there to help wasn’t too difficult. But I’ve often wondered since if I’d be able to do it as well on someone else, especially if they were covered in blood or vomit, and how I’d cope with other injuries or serious acute illness.

I go over in my head what I’ve learned from first aid classes but no amount of theory can tell us how we’d react in practice until we have to.

The reports on the captain of the Costa Concordia who abandoned ship made me think of this again.

He’s the object of a Tui billboard, his conversation with the Coast Guard has provided slogans for t-shirts and a friend emailed me this:

The current plight of the Costa Concordia reminds me of a comment made by Churchill. 

After his retirement he was cruising the Mediterranean on an Italian cruise liner and some Italian journalists asked why an ex British Prime Minister should choose an Italian ship. 

“There are three things I like about being on an Italian cruise ship” said Churchill. 

“First their cuisine is unsurpassed.  Second their service is superb.  And then, in time of emergency, there is none of this nonsense about women and children first”. 

It’s all very amusing but Theodore Dalrymple asks who’s to say how we’d behave in a similar situation?

Courage is a virtue and heroism is admirable, but do we have a right to demand   them? Which of us cannot look back on his or her own life and remember   decisions, or compromises made, or silences kept because of cowardice, even   when the penalties for courage were negligible?

If we are cowardly in small things, shall we be brave in large? Have we the   right to point the finger until we have been tested ourselves? When we read   of the seemingly lamentable conduct of the captain of the Costa Concordia,   Francesco Schettino, who left his passengers to their fate, do we say,   “There but for the grace of God go I”?

Of course, leadership entails an obligation to be courageous – morally,   physically or both. It is the price of leadership; it is why leaders are   more highly regarded and rewarded than the rest of us . . .

The captain was paid to take care of the ship, its crew and passengers and he failed.

We all hope, maybe even think, that if we were in a situation like that which required us to act with courage we’d do so but none of us know how brave we’ll be until have to be.

Life and literature are full of ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

There are also many real and fictional examples of people who do the wrong thing and no matter how well trained we are none of us will know how we’ll react until we’re really tested.

UPDATE: Macdoctor has a very good post on this in Sinking Feeling.

January 22 in history


1506 The first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrived at the Vatican.

1521 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, opened the Diet of Worms.

1561 Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, was born (d. 1626).

1771 – Spain ceded Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands to England.
1788 George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (Lord Byron), English poet, was born (d. 1824).

1824 – Ashantis defeated British forces in the Gold Coast.

1840 The New Zealand Company’s first settler ship, the Aurora, arrived at Petone, marking the official commencement of the settlement that would eventually become Wellington.

First European settlers arrive in Wellington

1889 Columbia Phonograph was formed in Washington, D.C.

1899 Leaders of six Australian colonies met in Melbourne to discuss confederation.

1901 Edward VII was proclaimed King after the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.

1905 Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg, beginning of the 1905 revolution.

1906 SS Valencia ran aground on rocks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, killing more than 130.

1919 Act Zluky was signed, unifying the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic.

1924 Ramsay MacDonald became the first Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1927 First live radio commentary of a football match anywhere in the world, between Arsenal F.C. and Sheffield United at Highbury.

1931 Sir Isaac Isaacs was sworn in as the first Australian-born Governor-General of Australia.

1934 Graham Kerr, British-born, New Zealand chef, was born.

1940 John Hurt, English actor, was born.

1941 British and Commonwealth troops captured Tobruk from Italian forces during Operation Compass.

1946 Iran: Qazi Muhammad declared the independent people’s Republic of Mahabad at Chuwarchira Square in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. He was the new president; Hadschi Baba Scheich was the prime minister.

1946 – Creation of the Central Intelligence Group, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.

1952 The first Jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, entered service for BOAC.

1957  Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula.

1957 The New York City “Mad Bomber”, George P. Metesky, was arrested and charged with planting more than 30 bombs.

1959 Knox Mine Disaster: Water breaches the River Slope Mine near Pittston City, Pennsylvania in Port Griffith; 12 miners are killed.

1960 Michael Hutchence, Australian singer (INXS), was born (d. 1997).

1962 Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu, Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, was born.

1963 The Elysée treaty of co-operation between France and Germany was signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer.

1965 Steven Adler, American drummer (Guns N’ Roses), was born.

1968 Apollo 5 lifted off carrying the first Lunar module into space.

1973  The Supreme Court of the United States delivered its decision in Roe v. Wade, legalizing elective abortion in all fifty states.

1984  The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, was introduced during Super Bowl XVIII with its famous “1984″ television commercial.

1987  Pennsylvania politician R. Budd Dwyer shot and killed himself at a press conference on live national television, leading to debates on boundaries in journalism.

1990 Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. was convicted of releasing the 1988 Internet Computer worm.

1992 Space Shuttle programme: STS-42 Mission – Dr. Roberta Bondar became the first Canadian woman in space.

1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burned alive by radical Hindus while sleeping in their car in Eastern India.

2002 Kmart Corp beccame the largest retailer in United States history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

2006 Evo Morales was inaugurated as President of Bolivia, becoming the country’s first indigenous president.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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