Word of the day


Bonza  – excellent; very good, wonderful.

Track to surplus steeper


Uncertainty in Europe has made the track back to Budget surplus steeper but Prime Minister John Key says the government is still planning to reach that target in the 2014/15 year.

“Today I can confirm that we are still on track to post a surplus in 2014/15, and the upcoming Budget Policy Statement will show a forecast surplus in the range of $300 to $500 million in that year,” Mr Key said.

“Given the events in Europe, this surplus is understandably smaller than was previously forecast. But we remain on our tight fiscal track.”

It might be politically tempting to soften the target but it is much better economically, and in the country’s long-term interests, to stick to the goal of surplus as soon as possible.

The commitment was made in a speech delivered this morning in which he outlined the government’s priorities:

Our first priority is to responsibly manage the Government’s finances. In the world as it is today, the state of the country’s finances is all-important.

Our second priority is to build a more competitive and productive economy. That means an export-focused economy, which is selling more of what the world wants, at a competitive price, and is built on a solid base of innovation.

Our third priority is to deliver better public services to New Zealanders, within the tight budget the Government is operating under.

And our final priority is to rebuild Christchurch, our second-biggest city.

The full speech is here.

Is that all there is?


The so called teapot tape has been released on YouTube..

It’s not easy to hear what is being said by John Key and John Banks in their pre-election conversation because of the background noise.

But from what I could hear and understand there is absolutely nothing to cause embarrassment or upset to anyone.

If that is all there is, the Herald on Sunday and TV3 who had the tape and made such a fuss about it really need to look at themselves, their standards and motivation.

They inferred  implied the contents were politically sensitive and potentially embarrassing.

They told us it was in the national interest to release them. If that’s all there is it wasn’t. They are simply boring.

The HOS and even more so TV3 turned a non-event into a potential scandal and then someone from one of those media outlets or Bradley Ambrose, the reporter who, inadvertently or not, recorded the conversation, gave something to Winston Peters which enabled him to do what he does best – manufacture outrage to generate attention.

The only embarrassment is to the media who created an issue out of nothing.

I am not linking to the recording because I am unsure of the legal position but if you can’t find it you’ll save yourself 10 minutes and 46 seconds of boredom.

Whaleoil, Kiwiblog and Keeping Stock also have posts on the recording.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who said: “Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.”?

2. What is the common name for Didelphimorphia Phalangeriforme?

3. It’s premières crevette in French, gambero crudo in Italian and gamba crudo in Spanish (I couldn’t find it in Maori), what is it in English?

4.Who wrote My Brilliant Career? and who wrote A Town Like Alice?

5. What are the first four lines of the Australian National Anthem?

Making flying fun


We flew from Christchurch to Palmerston North with Air New Zealand on Tuesday evening and had the pleasure of being looked after and entertained by a cabin attendant with a sense of humour.

From the opening words of her safety briefing Sam had us all listening and laughing as she delivered the usual spiel with several very amusing twists and additions.

She put a lot extra into doing what is a necessary but usually boring part of her job and she continued to elicit smiles and laughs in her interaction throughout the flight.

We flew home again yesterday, the cabin attendants did all that was required of them and we couldn’t fault their service but they didn’t get us listening and laughing the way Sam did.

She obviously enjoyed her job, put a lot into it and in doing so made it a much more enjoyable and memorable flight for the passengers.

Cobbers and mates


It’s Australia Day.

Our cobbers and mates (is there a difference between the two?) across the Tasman are celebrating and don’t they do it well?

They have an Australia Day address – this year’s by Associate Professor Charles Teo Am, a first generation Australian.

You can listen to him delivering it and read a transcript at the link above. If you don’t have time for that, at least ponder this which applies just as much to New Zealanders:

. . .  I would like to see this Australia Day as a turning point. I want my fellow Australians, those who were born here and those who have immigrated here, to pause and think of the lives that have been sacrificed for what we take for granted today. I want everyone who finds themselves angry and intolerant to think first about the misfortunes of those who are less fortunate…such as those with cancer. I want anyone who has come from another country to embrace the Australian way of life, it has served us well. I want all Australians to see how immigrants have contributed to our nation and to appreciate that a rich and prosperous country such as ours has a moral and global responsibility to share our resources. . .

They have the Australian of the Year :

The Australian of the Year 2012, Geoffrey Rush, has now celebrated 40 years as an Australian actor, achieving the rare international distinction of the ‘Triple Crown’ – an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy. . .

The Senior Australian of the Year 2012, Laurie Baymarrwangga, is an extraordinary elder from the island of Murrungga in East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. . .

The Young Australian of the Year 2012 is 22 year old engineering advocate Marita Cheng of Brunswick East whose leadership is changing the occupational landscape for women by encouraging girls to pursue engineering studies and careers. . .

Australia’s Local Hero 2012 is foster mother and carer Lynne Sawyers of Darbys Falls. Lynne has shared her home, her family and her love with more than 200 children. For 15 years, she has been on call to care for lost, abused and bewildered children in heartbreaking circumstances. . .

They have family and community celebrations and they have lamb with lambassador Sam Kekovich:

They seem to have a unity we have yet to achieve over celebrating a national day. But they also have a contrary view: see Australia Day/Invasion Day: Unity/Disunity at Larvatus Prodeo.

Shearer climbs off wrong side of fence


David Shearer has finally climbed off the fence on which he’s been perching since he became Labour leader and taken a position pm something.

But he’s gone to the wrong side.

He says the Government must not sell the 16 former Crafar farms to a Chinese company as  it’s not in the national interest.

But the government doesn’t own the farms.

They are private property on which large sums of money are owed and the receivers must do what they can to recoup as much from the sale as possible.

It would definitely not be in the national interest, nor in that of the creditors, to have political interference stymie a sale at a higher price in favour of one which would recoup around $40 million less.

Shearer wasn’t part of the Labour government which sabotaged shareholders’ value in Auckland Airport with the refusal to let a Canadian pension fund buy it but he ought to know about it the damage it did.

The Crafar farms have become a symbol but while a big holding for an individual person or company they are a very small percentage of New Zealand farmland, only about 1% of which is foreign-owned.

Kiwiblog points out a good deal more was sold by Labour:

Labour during their nine years in office approved the equivalent of the Crafar farms being sold to foreign owners every single month! Yes the Crafar farms are around 9,000 hectares and Labour approved 650,000 hectares – equal to 75 Crafar farms.

Shearer wasn’t part of those governments either, but what has changed that made those sales right and this one wrong? Nothing but an increase in xenophobia, emotion and political opportunism.

Prime Minister John Key says:

“The wholesale sale of land in New Zealand is not in New Zealand’s best interests, and that was why we sought to toughen up the overseas investment act,” he said. “At around about 1 percent, I don’t think we have a substantial issue.”

The Overseas Investment Office has strict criteria for approving land sales to foreigners.

If there is a need for that to be stricter it should be done properly and on principle.

Political interference which overrides the criteria for an individual case is not in the national interest, especially when there is no guarantee that the consortium which is the under-bidder would not then on-sell some or all of the farms; nor that some or all of the new purchasers wouldn’t be foreigners too.


January 26 in history


On January 26:

340  King Edward III of England was declared King of France.

1500  Vicente Yáñez Pinzón became the first European to set foot on Brazil.

1531  Lisbon was hit by an earthquake–thousands died.

1564 The Council of Trent issued its conclusions in the Tridentinum, establishing a distinction between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

1565 Battle of Talikota, between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Islamic sultanates of the Deccan, led to the subjugation, and eventual destruction of the last Hindu kingdom in India, and the consolidation of Islamic rule over much of the Indian subcontinent.

1589  Job was elected as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

1699  Treaty of Carlowitz was signed.

1700 A magnitude 9 Cascadia Earthquake took place off the west coast of the North America.

1714 Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, French sculptor, was born (d. 1785).

1722 Alexander Carlyle, Scottish church leader, was born  (d. 1805).

1736 Stanislaus I of Poland abdicated his throne.

1788 The British First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip, sailed into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish Sydney, the first permanent European settlement on the continent.

1808 Rum Rebellion, the only successful (albeit short-lived) armed takeover of the government in Australia.

1813 Juan Pablo Duarte, Dominican Republic’s founding father, was born  (d. 1876).

1838 Tennessee enacted the first prohibition law in the United States.

1841 The United Kingdom formally occupied Hong Kong.

1844 Governor Fitzroy arrived to investigate the Wairau incident.

Governor FitzRoy arrives to investigate Wairau incident

1855 Point No Point Treaty was signed in Washington Territory.

1857 Trinley Gyatso, Tibetan, The 12th Dalai Lama, was born .

1880 Douglas MacArthur, American general, was born (d. 1964).

1885 Troops loyal to The Mahdi conquered Khartoum.

1892 Bessie Coleman, American pioneer aviator, was born  (d. 1926).

1904  Seán MacBride, Irish statesman, Nobel Prize Laureate, was born  (d. 1988).

1905 The Cullinan Diamond was found at the Premier Mine near Pretoria.

1905 Maria von Trapp, Austrian-born singer, was born  (d. 1987).

1907 The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk III was officially introduced into British Military Service, and remains the oldest military rifle still in official use.

1908  Stéphane Grappelli, French jazz violinist, was born  (d. 1997).

1911 Glenn H. Curtiss flew the first successful American seaplane.

1911 – Richard Strauss‘s opera Der Rosenkavalier debuted at the Dresden State Opera.

1913 Jimmy Van Heusen, American songwriter, was born  (d. 1990).

1918 Nicolae Ceauşescu, Romanian dictator, was born (d. 1989).

1920 Former Ford Motor Company executive Henry Leland launchedthe Lincoln Motor Company which he later sold to his former employer.

1922 Michael Bentine, British comedian and founding member of The Goons, was born  (d. 1996).

1924 St.Petersburg was renamed Leningrad.

1925  Paul Newman, American actor, philanthropist, race car driver and race team owner, was born  (d. 2008).

1930 The Indian National Congress declared 26 January as Independence Day or as the day for Poorna Swaraj (Complete Independence) which occurred 20 years later.

1934 The Apollo Theater reopened in Harlem.

1934 – German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact was signed.

1939 Spanish Civil War: Troops loyal to nationalist General Francisco Franco and aided by Italy took Barcelona.

1942 World War II: The first United States forces arrived in Europe landing in Northern Ireland.

1945  Jacqueline du Pré, English cellist, was born  (d. 1987).

1950 The Constitution of India came into force, forming a republic. Rajendra Prasad was sworn in as its first President.

1952  Black Saturday in Egypt: rioters burnt Cairo’s central business district, targeting British and upper-class Egyptian businesses.

1955  Eddie Van Halen, Dutch musician (Van Halen), was born.

1957 Bubble wrap was invented by Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes.

1958 Japanese  ferry Nankai Maru capsised off southern Awaji Island, 167 killed.

1958 Ellen DeGeneres, American actress and comedian, was born.

1961 Janet G. Travell  becamethe first woman to be appointed physician to the president (Kennedy).

1962  Ranger 3 was launched to study the moon.

1965  Hindi became the official language of India.

1978  The Great Blizzard of 1978, a rare severe blizzard with the lowest non-tropical atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the US, struck the Ohio – Great Lakes region with heavy snow and winds up to 100 mph (161 km/h).

1980 – Israel and Egypt established diplomatic relations.

1984 Floods devestated Southland.

Floods devastate Southland

1988  Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s The Phantom of the Opera had its first performance on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre.

1991  Mohamed Siad Barre was removed from power in Somalia, ending centralized government, and was succeeded by Ali Mahdi.

1992  Boris Yeltsin announced that Russia would stop targeting United States cities with nuclear weapons.

1998 Lewinsky scandal: On American television, U.S. President Bill Clinton denied having had “sexual relations” with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

2001 An earthquake in Gujarat, India, killed more than 20,000.

2004 President Hamid Karzai signed the new constitution of Afghanistan.

2004 – A decomposing  whale exploded in Tainan, Taiwan.

2005 – Glendale train crash: Two trains derailled killing 11 and injuring 200 in Glendale, California.

Sourced from NZ History Oline & Wikipedia

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