Word of the day


Cheese – the curd of milk separated from the whey and prepared as a food; a definite mass of this substance, often in the shape of a wheel or cylinder; something of similar shape or consistency, as a mass of pomace in cider-making;  partly digested milk curds sometimes spit up by infants; an important person (big cheese); to forge (an ingot or billet) into a cheese.

Lifetime achievement award for Bob Berry


The New Zealand Specialist Cheese Association has presented Whitestone Cheese founder Bob Berry was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the country’s speciality cheese industry.

Bob started his working life as a stock agent before taking over his own farm. He and his wife Sue started Whitestone Cheese in 1987 in an attempt to overcome the ag-sag.

We were privileged to be at the company’s 25th anniversary celebrations and listened in admiration to the story of how the company started and grew. Whitestone now supplies delicious cheeses to outlets throughout New Zealand and has a growing export market.

The company has been a consistent winner in cheese awards since the early days and in last night’s Cuisine Champions of Cheese awards notched up another two wins – the Vintage Blue won the Ecolab Champion Blue Cheese Award and the Whitestone Range won the Caspack Champion Cheese Packaging Award.

The Oamaru Mail reports:

The company’s flagship cheese, Windsor Blue, has won more awards than any other cheese in New Zealand. Whitestone Cheeses have also been included in gift packs at the Oscars after-parties in the US.

Whitestone Cheese attributes its success to the use of locally sourced ingredients, including rich North Otago milk and traditional cheesemaking techniques.

Earlier this month son and general manager Simon Berry told the Oamaru Mail his father was often still on the road promoting the brand.

“Bob will never retire. He’s a bit like an old farmer; always tapping away at his fences,” he said.

He also acknowledged how Whitestone Cheese had become a proud North Otago institution, creating plenty of regional pride among his workers and the wider community.

“There is a bit of a culture of pride. We’re up there with the world’s best and we’re just from little Oamaru.”

The pride is justified, the cheese is delicious and most of it is named after North Otago localities or geographical features.

You can find out more about the company and order cheese online here.

If you watch the TV ad on the front page, you’ll  hear Bob and get an idea of his passion for his cheese.

The full list of 2012 Cuisine Cheese champions is here.

More late referrals from Electoral Commission


The Electoral Commission has made more referrals to the police:

  1. Mediaworks for the broadcast of The Jono Project on TV3 on 4 November 2011, which in the Electoral Commission’s view was an election programme, contrary to section 70 of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
  2. Five comments posted by members of the public on social media on election day, which in the Electoral Commission’s view were advising or intended or likely to influence any elector as to the candidate or party or referendum option for whom the elector should or should not vote, contrary to section 197(1)(g)(i) of the Electoral Act 1993.

The offending episode of the Jono Project is here.

I haven’t watched it nor do I know what the comments on social media were and where they were made.

But this is yet another example of how our electoral law is failing.

If we have laws about acts which might influence the election they are ineffective if they’re not policed and any breaches acted on before the election.


Why work is better than welfare


Why is work better than welfare?

Why do we think it is better for them to go to work? Well, if you look at the system that has been in place now through a number of Governments, you see that that system supports high levels of income for people in work. Let us take somebody who works 20 hours a week and leaves the domestic purposes benefit. They get the minimum family tax credit, which is $22,204 a year, and on top of that they get the in-work tax credit, which is $3,120 a year— all of which adds up to about $25,300 a year for 20 hours. The domestic purposes benefit for that person would be $15,000. That household will be considerably better off. This Government is also investing $130 million in support for those mothers, whether it is in retraining or in childcare facilities.  . .

. . . If you add to that the fact that the Government is providing enormous support around these families and individuals in terms of retraining and help, I personally think it is actually helping those families to give them the assistance, to give them the training, to give them the childcare facilities, and to actually make sure that they get an opportunity to fill their lives. And if anyone thinks that that is going to come through a lifetime on welfare, then they should go all the way back to the architect of the welfare system, Michael Joseph Savage, whose exact words were: “Welfare will never be an armchair ride to prosperity.” John Key

Has the Minister seen . . . ?


Questions and answers  of the day:

Maggie Barry: Why is it important to keep Government debt under control?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: You only need to watch TV any night of the week currently to see the impacts of excessive debt on some of our communities. The best reason to get on top of debt is to protect our most vulnerable, because our most vulnerable are most dependent on sustained support from the Government, and Governments with too much debt cannot sustain support for their most vulnerable.


Maggie Barry: Has the Minister seen any reports of alternative approaches to managing debt?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have heard reports that indicate that other political parties do not believe that it should be managed at all. In fact, they are proposing that the Government should not sell shares in some assets, because they would rather go to volatile international financial markets and borrow billions more, paying interest to overseas lenders rather than dividends to New Zealanders.

Where are the jobs?


The very restrained and moderate welfare reforms announced by the government have resulted in the obvious question: where are the jobs for the beneficiaries who could work and will now be expected to seek work?

One answer lies in occupations where there is a high proportion of immigrants, among which is dairying.

It is work which requires stamina and the ability to work long hours but the tasks required of basic dairy workers aren’t particularly difficult to master.

Most position offer on-farm accommodation. Workers also have the opportunity to study through AgITO, gain qualifications and promotion.

Yet people who advertise for dairy workers often end up with immigrants because they can’t find New Zealanders willing to do the job.

Last year our dairy farms had a distinctly international look with staff from Belgium, England, the USA, Ireland, Sweden and Nigeria.

More than 1,000 people from the Philipines  are working, or will be next season, on dairy farms in Southland.

It might not be easy for solo-parents to find child-care to enable them to work the hours required in dairying and some older people might not cope with the physical demands of the job.

But there are jobs there for younger people who aren’t primary caregivers with the will to work.

Leap Day


Today’s today in history post was shorter than usual because it’s Leap Day, the extra day added to February every four years to keep the calendar in sync with the sun.

It is traditionally the day in which women can propose to men:

According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every 4 years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar.

In some places, Leap Day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day. In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.

 Proof indeed that not all traditions are good ones.

February 29 in history


1468 – Pope Paul III  was born(d. 1549)

1504 – Christopher Columbus used his knowledge of a lunar eclipse that night to convince Native Americans to provide him with supplies.

1692 –  John Byrom, English poet was born (d. 1763)

1704 – Queen Anne’s War: French forces and Native Americans stagd a raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, killing 56 villagers and taking more than 100 captive.

1712 – February 29 was followed by February 30 in Sweden, in a move to abolish the Swedish calendar for a return to the Old style.

1720 – Queen Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden abdicated in favour of her husband, who became King Frederick I.

1796 – The Jay Treaty between the United States and Great Britain came into force, facilitating ten years of peaceful trade between the two nations.

1812 – Sir James Wilson, Premier of Tasmania, was born (d. 1880)

1840 – John Philip Holland, Irish inventor (submarine) was born (d. 1914)

1852 – George Maximilianovich, 6th Duke of Leuchtenberg, Russian nobleman, was born (d. 1912)

1864 – American Civil War: Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid failed – plans to free 15,000 Union soldiers being held near Richmond, Virginia were thwarted.

1892 – St. Petersburg, Florida was incorporated.

1896 – Morarji Desai, Prime Minister of India (d. 1995)

1904 – Jimmy Dorsey, American bandleader was born (d. 1957).

1904 – Wolfe+585, Senior (alleged date), German-born American typesetter who has the longest personal name ever used (death year unknown).

1916 – Dinah Shore, American singer and actress (d. 1994)

1916 – Child labour: In South Carolina, the minimum working age for factory, mill, and mine workers was raised from twelve to fourteen years old.

1924 – Sir David Beattie, New Zealand Governor-General was born (d. 2001)

Sir David and Lady Beattie

1932 – Time magazine featured eccentric American politician William “Alfalfa” Murray on its cover after Murray stated his intention to run for President of the United States.

1936 – Baby Snooks, played by Fanny Brice, debuted on the radio programme The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.

1940 – For her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award.

1940Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople was born.

1940 – Finland initiated Winter War peace negotiations

1940 – In a ceremony held in Berkeley, California, because of the war, physicist Ernest Lawrence received the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics from Sweden’s Consul General in San Francisco.

1944 – World War II: The Admiralty Islands were invaded in Operation Brewer led by American General Douglas MacArthur.

1952 – The island of Heligoland was restored to German authority.

1956 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced to the nation that he was running for a second term.

1960 – An earthquake in Morocco killed over 3,000 people and nearly destroyed Agadir in the southern part of the country.

1960 – Family Circus made its debut.

1964 – Opening of first road to Maungapohatu.

Opening of first road to Maungapohatu

1964 – In Sydney, Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser set a new world record in the 100-meter freestyle swimming competition (58.9 seconds).

1972 – Vietnam War Vietnamisation – South Korea withdrew 11,000 of its 48,000 troops from Vietnam.

1972 – Hank Aaron became the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to sign a $200,000 contract.

1980 – Gordie Howe of the then Hartford Whalers made NHL history as he scores his 800th goal.

1984 – Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced he would retire as soon as the Liberals could elect another leader.

1988 – South African archbishop Desmond Tutu was arrested along with 100 clergymen during a five-day anti-apartheid demonstration in Cape Town.

1988 – Svend Robinson became the first member of the Canadian House of Commons to come out as gay.

1996 – Faucett Flight 251 crashed in the Andes, killing 123 people.

2004 – Jean-Bertrand Aristide was removed as President of Haiti following a coup.

Word of the day


Nescience – absence of awareness or knowledge; ignorance; agnosticism.



5/10 in NZ History Online’s quiz.

Welfare reforms to change expectations


The welfare reforms announced by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday were part of the policy National campaigned on.

The welfare reform programme will put a clear emphasis on work availability, addressing the fact that 13 percent of the country’s working-age population are currently on a benefit, with 220,000 children in benefit-dependent homes.

“Despite the good intentions of the welfare system, it’s now creating a cycle of dependence and is actually out of step with today’s needs,” says Ms Bennett.

The usual suspects have immediately labelled this beneficiary-bashing which ignores the fact that people on the same income are better off in work than on benefits.

There are no punitive measures in the policy, those who need support will still get it.

But the policies will change expectations. Those who could work will know they are expected to do so and that is how it should be.

Not all of those who could work will be able to find jobs, especially in the short term, but every young person who goes into education or  training rather than unemployment and every beneficiary who moves from welfare to work will help themselves and the country.

We can not continue to support 13% of the working-age population on benefits and nor should we.

Benefits should be there for those in need, and for most that need is temporary.

For far too long too many people have had no encouragement to get off benefits.

The change in expectation that those who can help themselves should do so will be good for them, the economy and society.

There’s a Q&A on the reforms here.


Wheelman welcomed back


Wheelman David Wilson was welcomed back to Oamaru on Sunday  after riding from Stewart Island to Cape Reinga on his penny farthing Pioneer Spirit.

To ride the length of the country on a modern bike is no mean feat, to do the trip of more than 2,000 kilometers on a penny farthing is even more of an achievement.

The background website for the journey explains:

In 1884 when the Auckland to Wellington journey was usually made by coastal steamer and the main trunk railway was still a dream, the first bicycle ride between the two cities was accomplished by Wheelman J Fitton on a 52 inch-wheel penny farthing. Then, 123 years later during 2007, English Wheelman Joff Summerfield rode his penny farthing from Invercargill to Auckland as part of his around the world tour. Never, however, in the history of the colony has a wheelman been recorded as riding a penny farthing the entire length of the country until now. Conception for this journey occurred in 1998, with tentative planning starting in 2005.

The emphasis on the ride is that of ‘promoting awareness of the immense benefits of community economic and cultural developments’.

This ‘Aotearoa New Zealand History in the Making’ ride is being undertaken by New Zealand Wheelman and Captain of the Oamaru Ordinary Cycle Club ( OOCC), Mr David (The Judge) Wilson mounted upon ‘PIONEER SPIRIT’, an 1880s-style, 54 inch high-wheeled penny farthing bicycle replica manufactured in Oamaru, with its elevated centre of gravity, solid rubber tyres, fixed pedal system and primitive “spoon” brake. He will be wearing the breeches and knee high socks of the 1880-era bicyclist, and will be carrying only one change of clothes. He will be travelling alone, relying on his own resources and the kindness of strangers for comfort along the way, and will keep a daily log (blog) of the trip at the end of each days ride. The ride will require surviving such modern hazards as bad weather, hunger, thirst, stray animals, poor roads and encounters with inconsiderate and menacing motorists. 


Oamaru Life has a video of his welcome home.

Too much rugby too little money


The 130 year old Otago Rugby Football Union is to go into liquidation on Friday.

Chair Wayne Graham said:

The funding shortfalls last year came from a reduction in poker machine income ($200,000 less than budgeted), sponsorship ($30,000), gate revenue ($138,000) and signage ($30,000).

Costs had increased for staff ($98,000 more), the ITM Cup ($136,000) and for Carisbrook ($127,000).

Part of the problem is too much rugby and not enough money.

The rugby season starts in February with Super 15 games, lasts for months and All but the die-hard fans other many other way a to spend their time and money.

Gold endorsement for NZ at Oscars


Quote of the day:

“It’s a great place to grow up, you can do whatever you want there,” he toldThe New York Times.“Whereas I think in America, everyone is obsessed with their careers, New Zealand I think you just get to live your dreams.” Bret McKenzie explaining why so many New Zealanders have won Oscars.

He won the 2012 Acadamy Award for best original song for Man or Muppet and his words are a golden endorsement for New Zealand that money couldn’t buy.

February 28 in history


20 BC coronation ceremony of Liu Bang as Emperor Gaozu of Han takes place, initiating four centuries of the Han Dynasty‘s rule over China.

870 The Fourth Council of Constantinople closed.

1261 Margaret of Scotland, queen of Norway, was born  (d. 1283).

1638 The Scottish National Covenant was signed in Edinburgh.

1710  In the Battle of Helsingborg, 14,000 Danish invaders under Jørgen Rantzau were decisively defeated by an equally sized Swedish force under Magnus Stenbock.

1784 John Wesley chartered the Methodist Church.

1787 The charter establishing the institution now known as the University of Pittsburgh was granted.

1824 Blondin, French tightrope walker, was born  (d. 1897).

1827  The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was incorporated, becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight.

1838 Robert Nelson, leader of the Patriotes, proclaimed the independence of Lower Canada (today Québec).

1844 A gun on USS Princeton exploded while the boat was on a Potomac River cruise, killing eight people, including two United States Cabinet members.

1849 Regular steamboat service from the west to the east coast of the United States began with the arrival of the SS California in San Francisco Bay, 4 months 21 days after leaving New York Harbour.

1865 Wilfred Grenfell, medical missionary, was born  (d. 1940).

1870 The Bulgarian Exarchate was established by decree of Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz of the Ottoman Empire.

1883 The first vaudeville theatre opened in Boston, Massachusetts.

1897 Queen Ranavalona III, the last monarch of Madagascar, was deposed by a French military force.

1900 The Second Boer War: The 118-day “Siege of Ladysmith” was lifted.

1912 Clara Petacci, Italian mistress of Benito Mussolini, was born  (d. 1945).

1914 The Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus was proclaimed in Gjirokastër, by the Greeks living in southern Albania.

1922 The United Kingdom accepted the independence of Egypt.

1925 Harry H Corbett, English actor, was born  (d. 1982).

1928  C.V. Raman discovered Raman effect.

1933 Gleichschaltung: The Reichstag Fire Decree was passed in Germany a day after the Reichstag fire.

1935 DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invented Nylon.

1939 The first issue of Serbian weekly magazine Politikin zabavnik was published.

1939 – The erroneous word “Dord” was discovered in the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, prompting an investigation.

1942 Brian Jones, English musician (The Rolling Stones), was born  (d. 1969).

1942 The heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) was sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait with 693 crew members killed.

1943 Charles Bernstein, American composer, was born.

1945 New Zealand soldier David Russell was executed by a Nazi firing squad in Italy.

Kiwi soldier faces Nazi firing squad

1946 Robin Cook, British politician, was born.

1947 228 Incident: In Taiwan, civil disorder is put down with the loss of 30,000 civilian lives.

1953 Paul Krugman, American economist, Nobel laureate, was born.

1957 Cindy Wilson, American singer (The B-52′s), was born.

1958 A school bus in Floyd County, Kentucky hits a wrecker truck and plunged down an embankment into the rain-swollen Levisa Fork River. The driver and 26 children died in what remains the worst school bus accident in U.S. history.

1970 Daniel Handler, American writer, better known as Lemony Snicket, was born.

1972 The Asama-Sanso incident ended in Japan.

1972 The United States and People’s Republic of China signed the Shanghai Communiqué.

1974 Moana Mackey, New Zealand politician, was born.

1975 A major tube train crash at Moorgate station, London killed 43 people.

1985 The Provisional Irish Republican Army carried out a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary police station at Newry, killing nine officers in the highest loss of life for the RUC on a single day.

1986 Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden  was assassinated in Stockholm.

1991 The first Gulf War ended.

1993 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raided the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group’s leader David Koresh. Four BATF agents and five Davidians die in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.

1995 Denver International Airport officially opened in Denver, Colorado to replace Stapleton International Airport

1997 – The North Hollywood shootout took place.

1998 – First flight of RQ-4 Global Hawk, the first unmanned aerial vehicle certified to file its own flight plans and fly regularly in U.S. civilian airspace.

1998 – Kosovo War: Serbian police begin the offensive against the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo.

2001 – The Nisqually Earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale hits the Nisqually Valley and the Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia area of the U.S. state of Washington.

2001 – Six passengers and four railway staff are killed and a further 82 people suffer serious injuries in the Selby rail crash.

200 More than 1 million Taiwanese participating in the 228 Hand-in-Hand Rally formed a 500-kilometre (300-mile) long human chain to commemorate the 228 Incident in 1947.

2005 Lebanon‘s pro-Syrian prime minister, Omar Karami, resigned amid large anti-Syria street demonstrations in Beirut.

2005 A suicide bombing at a police recruiting centre in Al Hillah, Iraq killed 127.

2007  Jupiter flyby of the New Horizons Pluto-observer spacecraft.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

Word of the day


Rudd – to put  personal ambition before party good; to be blinded by vanity; to miscalculate.

Air NZ looking to South America


Air New Zealand is trialling flights to South America with a charter flight for fans going to the first four nations Rugby Championship match between the All Blacks and Pumas in Argentina.

Radio NZ reports the company is watching developments in the region before scheduling regular flights.

. . . But the airline did announce its first foray into South America, with a flight in September using its black Boeing 777-300.

The charter flight will be aimed at All Blacks fans travelling to Buenos Aires for the team’s first game against Argentina in the expanded Four Nations competition.

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe says the airline is very interested in South America as a potential route in its global network.

He says the company hasn’t yet made a decision about its overall strategy for South America.

Mr Fyfe says the Brazilian airline TAM is about to go through a merger with Chile’s LAN and Air New Zealand wants to see which alliance the new airline LATAM ends up in before finalising its preferred strategy.

When we went to Argentina a couple of weeks ago there were no Star Alliance airlines flying to South America.

The options were a direct flight from Auckland to Buenos Aires with Aerolineas Argentina, Lan Chile which goes Auckland-Santiago-Buenos Aires, Qantas which would have necessitated flying east to Sydney before flying west or Emerites which is the long way round and required a two-day stop in Dubai en-route.

The Aerolineas flight is 11 1/2 hours there and 13 home which isn’t too bad but an Air New Zealand flight or a Star Alliance option would be even better.

Football is the most popular sport in Argentina but we met some rugby fans when we were there who were pleased the Pumas were joining the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies in the Rugby Championship.

Tough measures for tough times


John Armstrong thinks that ministers are in danger of looking uncaring.

He is mistaking the making of tough decisions for the absence of care.

But in politics, as in parenting, tough times require tough love.

The easy option would be for the government to carry on spending too much.

The right option requires significant belt-tightening. Unfortunately, as has been seen most recently in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, that usually means job losses.

But not taking the tough decisions now would lead to a bigger mess in the future as the people in Greece and wider European Union have discovered.

If ministers are looking uncaring, perhaps it’s not what they’re doing but the way what they’re doing is portrayed in the media that is part of the problem.

It’s very easy to write woe-is-them headlines about people losing jobs, it takes more time and effort to explain the need for the losses and also follow up to find out how many find other work.

Redundancy is tough but it doesn’t mean all those involved will be out of work for long, if at all.

Why not just print more money?


Bernard Hickey wants the government to print more money.

I don’t know which is more frightening, his suggestion or the number of comments supporting him, for example:

The NZ dollar needs to lose 40% of its value, and massive public works projects can be funded – workers employed, taxes paid, the mental state of the nation immensely improved. BUT sale of land, houses and public assets MUST be blocked or the foreign locusts will pounce aided by the devalued NZ dollar. It’s crucial that the two go together – devaluation and regulation of asset purchases by foreigners.


By choice I would, by law, insist that all loans were replaced with local borrowing, and thereby remove our balance of payments burden at a stroke. In addition, the RB would have control over liquidity without having to rely on the OCR (which has little leverage).


All the Banks you mention, including the Reserve Bank of New Zealand are controlled by the Rosthchild banking family, so you would have all New Zealanders pay more for products, fund the interest costs on this fake money and fall deeper into debt to the international Bankers?
If less of our hard earned “real money” was sent offshore to pay interest costs to these people we would all be better off.
Printing more money would devalue our currency which immediately makes the foreign debt we owe – as a country and individuals – higher.
The upside of a lower valued currency is that our exports would earn more but the downside is that imports would be more expensive. That doesn’t just mean luxuries, its basic food items like flour and fruit; vehicles, machinery, fuel; medicines . . .
The other consequence of printing money is inflation.
We were in Argentina a couple of weeks ago. The official inflation rate there is about 12% but several people told us it’s really around 24%. It’s less than 30 years since we had that sort of inflation rate here – it helped speculators but ruined savings and investment which is what we need to be encouraging.
The other argument against printing more money is that it doesn’t address the underlying problems in our economy – we’ve been spending too much and earning and saving too little.
The solution to that is not printing more money. It’s export-led growth, more savings, more investment and reducing the burden of the state.

Is there no-one else?


A majority of Australian  voters would prefer Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, however a majority of the Labor caucus prefer Julia Gillard as leader.

If the voters want the man who caucus can’t stomach and caucus wants the woman who polls show will lead the party to defeat, is there no-one else in the party who would be popular with both the caucus and the public?


Does anyone know why there’s no u in the Labor Party although Australia generally follows the British English spelling for labour?

%d bloggers like this: