Word of the day


Lummox – a clumsy, stupid person; a large, gangly, lanky person.



9/10 in Stuff’s Biz Quiz.

Quote of the day


“irrespective of how long an animal may live, it does not remove our ethical obligations as farmers. Sick or maltreated animals do not produce quality meat, milk or fibre. Good farmers know this. How we treat our farm animals from birth until their end defines us as an industry and a society. I enjoy eating meat, but I enjoy eating it more because I know that the animal hasn’t suffered.” – Bruce Wills ( in the Sunday Star Times, not on-line).

Jian Yang’s maiden speech


National list MP Jian Yang delivered his maiden speech on Thursday.

Some of the highlights are in bold:

Mr Speaker,

As a Chinese who immigrated to New Zealand only 13 years ago, I feel extremely honoured standing here before you all to give my Maiden Statement today. 

Firstly,I would like to thank the Chinese community for their encouragement and support. 广大的华人华侨朋友们,我感谢你们的一贯支持和厚爱。这一刻也属于你们。(Dear fellow Chinese, I thank you for your consistent support.  This moment belongs to you as well).

I am grateful to my colleagues at the University of Auckland, particularly the staff of the Department of Political Studies. Special thanks go to Professor Barry Gustafson and Professor Raymond Miller, from whom I learned a great deal about New Zealand politics, and who both encouraged me to step out of theoretical politics and into realpolitics.

 I thank the Board directors of the National Party for their trust. In particular, I thank our President Peter Goodfellow. I cannot overstate Peter’s help in the past few months.

I also thank my Party colleagues for their warm welcome and support.

And I thank the Prime Minister for his trust and guidance.

Most of all, I thank my family; my parents in China who cannot be here today and my wife Jane and my daughters Suzie and Evelyn. I fully understand the sacrifices my family have to make, and it was not an easy decision to leave the Ivory Tower and jump into the turbulent sea of real politics. Thank you Jane, Suzie and Evelyn for your love and trust.

Mr Speaker, as the Prime Minister noted in his first speech to the new parliament, the National Party was the first party in New Zealand to have a Chinese MP. I would like to take this opportunity and acknowledge the achievement of Hon Pansy Wong.

My election into Parliament lays down yet another milestone in the history of Chinese immigrants in New Zealand. I am the first National MP who is an immigrant from mainland China.

The Chinese community in New Zealand has experienced rapid growth in the past two to three decades. We are attracted by, among other things, New Zealand’s second-to-none environment, democratic political system, equal economic opportunities and stable society.

Mr Speaker, as an immigrant who witnessed and experienced the many political upheavals in China, I do not take any of the benefits I’m enjoying now for granted. My grandfather was a general of the Nationalist Party, or KMT, which is today the ruling party in Taiwan. When the Communist Party came to power in China in 1949, my grandfather lost all his property, was imprisoned and lived in poverty for the rest of his life.

In the first thirty years of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese government launched one political movement after another, climaxing with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution beginning in 1966. The Revolution left behind millions of political victims, including my parents, who were sent to the countryside to be re-educated by peasants.

In 1978, under the rule of Deng Xiaoping, China made the historic decision to reform and open up. Capitalism began to flourish Deng’s virtue of pragmatism is highlighted by his most famous quotation “I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat. It’s a good cat as long as it catches mice.” In that same year of 1978, I passed the newly-restored higher education examination and became part of the small group of high-school graduates who went on to university.

The change in China since 1978 has been awe-inspiring. China today is a different world. But the journey has certainly not all been smooth. In April 1989, a great opportunity was opened up for me when I received a scholarship from the John Hopkins University in America. However, in the weeks following, student demonstrations swept China. The Chinese government’s policy change afterwards prevented me from leaving to study in the United States.

Fortunately for China, after a period of hesitation the government decided to continue its reformation. In 1994 I started my postgraduate study in Australia, and in 1999 I completed my PhD and began my work at the University of Auckland.

My experiences reiterate the inescapable influence of politics on our lives, and greatly contrast the deep value placed on political rights and freedom that we enjoy in New Zealand. For this reason, I appreciate the National Party’s commitment to democratic principles and individual freedom and choice.

Politics and economics are two areas difficult to differentiate. Between 1949 and 1978, China was a socialist country with a planned economy. The Chinese people were called upon to march towards a Communist utopia; where everyone should contribute to society to the best of his or her ability, and consume from society in proportion to his or her need, that is, “From each according to his ability, toeach according to his need.”

Socialist economic policies did not aid China. By the year of my birth in 1962, China had wiped out private ownership in an effort to build a socialist economy. A horrific famine had just passed with the death of millions of people. In those years, everyone was equal but everyone was poor. The most spectacular present that I received for my 10th birthday was two eggs for breakfast.

By 1978, the Chinese economy was on the verge of collapse. It was at that critical moment that the Chinese government started economic reforms, salvaging the economy just in time. Market economy was introduced. Entrepreneurship was encouraged. The irrational pursuit of income equality was abolished. A popular official slogan at the time was “shui xian fu, shui guang rong 谁先富,谁光荣” meaning “It is glorious to become rich before others.”

We are all aware of China’s enormous economic growth since that pivotal year of 1978. China has risen to become the second largest economy in the world. The Chinese government has successfully lifted millions of people out of poverty.

Reflecting on the way in which China has achieved its positive change and development gives me a firm belief that the policies of the National Party are in the best interests of New Zealand. We give priority to economic growth. And to achieve this growth, we emphasise the importance of personal responsibility, competitive enterprise and reward for achievement. These are all values shared by the Chinese community and many other New Zealanders.

The Chinese were the third racial group to settle in New Zealand, after the Maori and European. Most of them came as gold miners in the second half of the 19th century. Historian Michael King said “Once in New Zealand, the Chinese who persisted despite the poll tax and considerable prejudice proved themselves to be law-abiding and hard-working citizens.”

We should not undervalue the contributions of the Chinese community to New Zealand. Not only has the Chinese community contributed economically, they have also enriched the lives of all New Zealanders through the celebration of Chinese arts, cuisine and traditions. Every year about 200,000 people from different ethnic communities came to the Auckland Lantern Festival as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

To the Chinese, strong work ethics coupled with good education are the two key elements to success. Surveys show that Chinese immigrants are often well educated, and it is no secret that Chinese children generally do well at school. The New Zealand Herald noted in April last year that “If education is our future, Chinese minds will be prominent in shaping New Zealand’s destiny.” This again reinforces the Chinese community’s vital role in the future development of our country. The Chinese community’s value in education echoes that of the National Party. We are committed to offering the best education to all New Zealanders, and we believe education provides the ability for all to move forward.

Despite the successes of the Chinese in New Zealand, all new immigrants need time to adapt to a new country. Considering their Eastern cultural background, it may be more challenging for Chinese immigrants to adapt to our mainly Western society. It is in the best interests of all for us to give them more support in this respect.

On the other hand, all immigrants should themselves try to integrate. Chinese immigrants are no exception. Members of the Chinese community should not only learn the languages and cultures of mainstream society, but also be willing to sacrifice for the country.

It is pleasing to note the global trend among overseas Chinese is to move away fromluoye guigen 落叶归根, “fallen leaves return to the roots”, but towards luodi shenggen落地生根, “to grow roots where they land”.The mentality of sojournism is no longer dominant. Many Chinese, including my family, gave up their Chinese citizenship and proudly became New Zealand citizens.  Mr Speaker, we are Kiwis, although made in China.

The Chinese immigrants do have a strong desire for recognition and integration, which is why they have been actively involved in philanthropy and politics. They have been generous in their donations to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake. There were also a record number of Chinese candidates in the most recent general election.

Mr Speaker, I feel truly honored to be a National Party representative of the Chinese community. I hope to see more Chinese in Parliament as the community is still under represented.

Mr Speaker, the rise of China has given New Zealand an ideal opportunity. China is now our second largest trading partner. Our trade with East Asia, especially China, played a crucial role in our effort to deal with the global financial crisis in recent years. In this respect, Chinese residents’ connection with China is a great asset to New Zealand. The connection has generated many economic opportunities and there is still a great potential.

As a Chinese immigrant, I will act as a bridge between the Chinese community and our mainstream society. I will also endeavour to contribute to the strengthening of New Zealand’s relations with China.

What is more, my background and experiences render me capable of making contributions in many other areas, be it education, foreign affairs, ethnic affairs, or health. 

To conclude, the values held by me and many Chinese New Zealanders are parallel to those of the National Party and other New Zealanders. These include equal citizenship and equal opportunity, individual freedom and choice, personal responsibility, and reward for achievement. As a father of two, I see it as my responsibility to provide a safe and prosperous environment for my children to grow up in. With the National Party, I look forward to a brighter future.  Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The video is here.




8/10 in the Herald’s Question Time quiz.

Scott Simpson’s maiden speech


National’s Coromandel MP Scott Simpson delivered his maiden speech on Thursday.

Some of the highlights are in bold:

Mr Speaker Congratulations on your re-election and also to your fellow presiding officers on their appointments to roles overseeing the smooth and efficient conduct of our proceedings during this 50th Parliament of New Zealand.

Sir, it is with a mixture of pride, awe and humility I rise to speak as the new MP for Coromandel.

I’m very conscious of the huge honour I have been given by my Party in being selected as a candidate… and of the even greater honour granted to me by the people of Coromandel in electing me to be their voice, their representative, their face in this place. I acknowledge a fellow contestant for the seat, Catherine Delahunty who sits in this House by virtue of the Green Party List.

Coromandel evokes in the minds of almost every New Zealander the very best images of the classic Kiwi summer.

 Beautiful beaches, iconic bush and natural scenery second to none in our country.

Indeed the Peninsula proper is not only home to people who get to enjoy those gems on a daily basis… it is also the favoured holiday destination for tens of thousands of visitors each year who now access and exit the area over our wonderful new Kopu bridge.

No longer are they subjected to long delays and frustrating traffic jams. And in fact, A story published locally last week commenting on how well the new bridge had coped with heavier than expected traffic flows during the long Waitangi weekend summed it up beautifully with the simple headline “Thank you Mr Key”.

But the Coromandel electorate is more than just the Coromandel Peninsula.

It includes all the Hauraki Plains, our dairy heartland, through the scenic Karangahake gorge to Waihi and Waihi Beach and south to the jewel of the Western Bay of Plenty, Katikati.

It’s a diverse electorate, an electorate with a rich heritage and a bright future.

It’s an electorate mature in its demographic.

We have the highest number of people aged between 50 and 64 and the second highest number of people aged 64 plus of any electorate in New Zealand.

When added together those two age segments highlight a series of issues confronting us, not least of which is how to encourage more younger people to make Coromandel their home and to raise their families in our part of paradise.

The answer Mr Speaker, lies in economic development, jobs and prosperity and I’m very pleased to be a member of a John Key led Government committed to encouraging economic growth for provincial and rural New Zealand.

I’m looking forward to supporting existing well established agricultural, fishing, tourism and manufacturing businesses and to encouraging the establishment of new innovative and exciting enterprises.

In particular, Sir, I’m looking forward to the new opportunities to be created by an expansion of our already excellent aqua- cultural sector that will bring further jobs and enterprise to our area.

Mr Speaker, my predecessor, Sandra Goudie, devoted herself unstintingly to the people of Coromandel. Today, Sir, I pledge the same devotion in the hope the aspirations she and I both have for Coromandel can and will be continuously advanced both here in Parliament and within the wider community.

Mr Speaker, although most of my working life has been in commerce and business, for the last few years I’ve had the great privilege of being CEO of the greatest little charity in New Zealand, Make-A-Wish.

It is a charity devoted to a simple mission of granting the one cherished wish of children and young people coping with life threating, sometimes terminal, medical conditions.

Let me assure members, there can be no greater joy than to work in a job where literally you are a professional wish granter on a daily basis.

It remains to be seen if I will be able to transfer that skillset to this workplace.

Granting wishes to very ill youngsters taught me many things, most I guess I already knew but the experiences certainly reinforced for me some simple life truths.

Life is not fair.

Bad stuff does happen.

Bad stuff happens irrespective of family circumstance, age, gender, wealth or location.

But Mr Speaker on the other hand, Small things count.

Small gestures of kindness and goodwill have enormous power and magic not just for children and young people coping with dire medical conditions, but for all people, all humans, all mankind.

These are things I hope never to forget during my time in this place.

Mr Speaker, 76 years ago, Sir, the National Party was formed by far sighted people with a far sighted national vision for a better New Zealand.

76 years ago New Zealand was a new pioneering nation still struggling to come to terms with the worst local and world economic depression ever known.

A country, Sir, still reeling from the human and emotional impacts of the Great War where the sacrifice of young New Zealand blood was greater than a new, developing nation found tolerable to bear.

Both my grandfathers served at Gallipoli – both eventually returned home although one was wounded at Gallipoli, patched up and then sent to fight on in France.

The plaques adorning this chamber stand as honourable tribute to that sacrifice and to subsequent further Kiwi sacrifice.

Silent but powerful reminders to each of us of the past high price paid by others for our freedom to be here today. Many of those early National Party founders where the sons and daughters of immigrant pioneering families.

Like the tanagata whenua who arrived centuries earlier, they came with little in the way of personal possessions. But they came Sir, with the greatest asset of all….

A gritty, stubborn and unshakable belief that through hard work, determination and passion…

Their dreams of a better life than the one they had left behind could be forged for their children and grandchildren in a new little country rich in natural resources, blessed with a moderate climate and fertile soil.

Today Mr Speaker, we are all the beneficiaries of determination, hard work and foresight.

Each member of this House has progressed a journey to be here.

Some have been catapulted here almost unexpectedly here. Others, like me, have watched the affairs of our parliament from the side-lines for years and many, like me, have been volunteer activists within our own Party organisational wings for far longer than we care to remember.

I’ve done so since school days.

Active participation in our democracy is important and although I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs…. It will always be my advice to political friend or foe alike, to get involved, be active, have your say and fight for what you believe in.

Doing so may not always result in the outcomes sought, but doing so will mean you have the satisfaction of being a participant rather than a mere observer who simply has to live with the results destined by those who did choose to step up and get involved.

For me Mr Speaker, the game started early while still at school.

The year was 1975. Hard to believe I know. Rob Muldoon was barnstorming his way to a huge victory over Labour. My hardworking parents were running the small seven day a week business they had established early in their married life.

We lived in Mt Eden…., the suburb not the prison.

It was my School Certificate year.

It was the Eden electorate. Aussie Malcolm was the National candidate running against a first term Labour MP, Mike Moore. Eden was the most marginal bell weather seat in New Zealand.

Aussie Malcolm ran under the provocative campaign slogan… “Malcolm will do Moore for Eden”. The politics was intense, exciting and as it turned out for me, highly addictive.

I guess for a teenager in the 70s, given the range of possible addictions on offer, politics was at the lower end of the parental concern spectrum.

Aussie Malcolm went on to beat Mike Moore and the rest is as they say history.

Over the years I have developed an enormous regard for the army of ordinary Kiwis from all walks of life that make up the volunteer wing of the National Party.

No National MP sits in this House without the support, endorsement and backing of those people.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank all those people who have helped me along the way.

An embarrassingly large number are here in the gallery today along with friends and members of both my close and extended family.

Thank you for your on-going support, friendship and love.

Sir, my Coromandel team was during the campaign and remains so today, a truly outstanding team of people, too many to name individually but so ably led by Electorate Chairman, Ian McClean and Campaign Manager, Heather Tanner.

Thank you one and all.

Sir, for those of us interested in such things, the Maiden speech of Sir Jack Marshall delivered in this House almost 65 years ago is regarded as setting the bench mark in terms of defining what we these days label as ‘liberal conservatism’.

And it is to that subject I now turn for the principles he set out in that speech still hold true today.

Let me make it clear at the outset the concept of liberalism does not mean at all anything to do with the touchy feely, namby pamby, soft soap approach so often the political homeland of Parties on the left.

Rather, liberalism is an acknowledgement that as a citizen I have the right to live my life in my own way provided only that this does not interfere with the rights of others. 

That I should be free to do as I wish, subject only to the rule of law.

The Hon Chris Finlayson teased out these concepts in his Maiden Speech. 

He said and I agree entirely, that the left may have admitted that the right won the great economic debate of the 20th century and that socialism in its many and varied forms has failed, but the left still wants to regulate and control. Their natural instinct remains one of ‘only we know best ‘.

For me Mr Speaker the contrast between that view and of National Party principles could not be more stark.

National Party principles are liberal principles.

A belief that personal effort and initiative should be rewarded.

A belief Sir, that individual responsibility and accountability for our own actions and inactions provide the foundation stones of our society.

A belief that it is individuals who are best placed to make decisions about their future not the State. That a free, open and property owning democracy provides the best model for Government.

These Mr Speaker, are the values and principles the National Party was founded on 76 years ago and they relevant today as they ever were.

The principles on which our society is built, in spite of vocal minorities who work to make it not so,areprinciples of a liberal democracy.

But liberalism and democracy are two very different things

Democracy is a method for choosing and removing Governments.

Liberalism on the other hand is a doctrine about what society ought to be, about what Governments should or shouldn’t do… and above all liberalism is a doctrine which defines limits to Government power.

I am convinced there is a common liberal thread, whether we choose to recognise it or not, that binds us together as a nation.

That common thread encompasses freedom of action and of individual rights, tempered by a willingness not to interfere with the rights of others whilst pursuing our own.

It encompasses a society of racial and religious tolerance

It encompasses equality of opportunity and equality before the law.

The suggestion that a liberal is someone who wants to liberalise everything is entirely wrong. Merely recognising and respecting the ideas and opinions of others does not mean the same thing as accepting, embracing or adopting those ideas or opinions.

It is not a question of what we are prepared to tolerate as a society, but rather what we are prepared to defend as important and precious as a nation.

For me it is the defence of a relentlessly optimistic outlook for my electorate and our nation.

The defence of that gritty, stubborn and unshakeable belief that a brighter, more prosperous future lies ahead for our children and grandchildren… if only we here today, in this place and of this generation have the personal and collective strength to step up and make it so. For a little country with so much going for us we spend far too much time and energy focusing on the things that hold us back, on the road blocks and the reasons why things can’t be so.

The Hon Steven Joyce has highlighted this theme recently.

Well Mr Speaker, as I conclude this my first address in our House of Representatives…

Mark me down as one who stands firmly on the side of those that can do and will do.

Mark me down as a supporter of growth and opportunity.

Mark me down as a champion of individual rights over State rights, of freedom and tolerance but tempered at all times by the often forgotten important obligation of responsibility for actions and inactions. Mark me down Mr Speaker, as a defender of our very best liberal democratic values and as a staunch advocate for volunteer political activism.

Mark me down Mr Speaker, as a new member who has come here now to be an active and energetic participant from within rather than a casual spectator from the side-lines. Sir, I am a fourth generation New Zealander of European dissent 

My great grandparents arrived in Kuatounu on the Coromandel Peninsula in the mid-1800s.

I am the very proud father of Andrew and Ashleigh.

Mr Speaker, my name is Scott Simpson I’m the National Party Member of Parliament for Coromandel reporting for duty.

The video is here.

Heartland and head land


In some parts of the world farming is a subsistence operation.

In others it’s carried out by employees on behalf of absentee landowners.

Here, more often than not farm owners are also farm workers.

They use their hands and get them dirty but they also use their heads and a lot of equipment designed and produced by other people who’ve used their heads.

This point is well-made by Jim Hopkins in his observations on the Southern Field Days:

The buzz from the boffins is that we’ve got to get high tech and whizzy. We must walk the Weta walk and talk the IT talk. Add value, head upmarket, tap into the cyber world. Farming is a sunset industry, old hat, old school, old world, prone to fouling pristine streams with incontinent cows.

There’s no point flogging milk and trees and meat and wool to the world. Commodities are so yesterday!

Except they’re not. They’re still how we pay two-thirds of our bills. And Field Days aren’t merely the heartland doing its thing. They’re also the head land, a place where much of that cutting-edge stuff so beloved of the policy analysts is actually on show. It’s just that they’re not looking.

Innovation and success go hand in hand.

Most farms these days are high-tech work places. The introduction of the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme will make livestock farms even more so.

There is some work that machines and gadgets will never replace on farms, the nature of the business will always require a lot of manual work. But now more than ever successful farms require a lot of head work – on the farm and from the people and businesses which service and supply them – as well.





February 19 in history


197 Roman Emperor Septimius Severus defeated usurper Clodius Albinus in the Battle of Lugdunum, the bloodiest battle between Roman armies.

1473 Nicolaus Copernicus, mathematician and astronomer, was born (d. 1543).

1594-  Having already inherited the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth through his mother Catherine Jagellonica of Poland, Sigismund III of the House of Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, succeeding his father John III of Sweden.

1600 – The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina exploded in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America.

1674 – England and the Netherlands signed the Peace of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. A provision of the agreement transfered the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to England, and it was renamed New York.

1743 Luigi Boccherini, Italian composer, was born  (d. 1805).

1807 Former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr was arrested for treason and confined to Fort Stoddert.

1819 British explorer William Smith discovered the South Shetland Islands, and claimed them in the name of King George III.

1847 – The first group of rescuers reached the Donner Party who had been snowbound. Some of the party resorted to cannabilism to survive.

1861 Serfdom was abolished in Russia.

1878 The phonograph was patented by Thomas Edison.

1883 Parihaka leaders Te Whiti and Tohu were released.

Release of Parihaka leaders Te Whiti and Tohu

1884 The Enigma tornado outbreak.

1895 Diego Mazquiarán, Spanish matador, was born  ( d. 1940 ).

1924 Lee Marvin, American actor, was born (d. 1987).

1936 Sam Myers, American musician and songwriter, was born (d. 2006).

1938 Twenty men and one woman were drowned when a sudden cloudburst sent a wall of water surging through a public works camp at Kopuawhara, near Mahia. This was New Zealand’s deadliest 20th-century flood.

21 drown in Kopuawhara flash flood

1940 Smokey Robinson, American singer, was born.

1942 Nearly 250 Japanese warplanes attacked Darwin killing 243 people.

1942 –President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order 9066′, allowing the United States military to relocate Japanese-Americans to Japanese internment camps.

1943 Battle of the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia began.

1945 Battle of Iwo Jima – about 30,000 United States Marines landed on Iwo Jima.

1947 Tim Shadbolt, mayor of Invercargill, New Zealand, was born.

1949 – Ezra Pound was awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.

1952 Amy Tan, American novelist, was born.

1953 Georgia approved the first literature censorship board in the United States.

1958 Helen Fielding, English writer, was born.

1959 – The United Kingdom granted Cyprus its independence.

1960  Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was born.

1963 – The publication of Betty Friedan‘s The Feminine Mystique launched the reawakening of the Feminist Movement in the United States as women’s organisations and consciousness-raising groups spread.

1972 The Asama-Sansō hostage standoff began in Japan.

1976 Executive Order 9066 was rescinded by President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4417

1978 Egyptian forces raid Larnaca International Airport, in an attempt to intervene in a hijacking situation, without authorisation from the Republic of Cyprus authorities. The Cypriot National Guard and Police forces kill 15 Egyptian commandos and destroy the Egyptian C-130 transport plane in open combat.

1985 William J. Schroeder became the first Artificial heart recipient to leave hospital.

1985 – Iberia Airlines Boeing 727 crashed into Mount Oiz in Spain, killing 148.

1986 Akkaraipattu massacre, massacre of 80 Tamil farm workers by the Sri Lankan Army in the eastern province of Sri Lanka.

1986 – The Soviet Union launched its Mir spacecraft.

1999 – President Bill Clinton issued a posthumous pardon for U.S. Army Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper.

2001 An Oklahoma City bombing museum was dedicated at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

2001 Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was awarded an honorary knighthood in recognition of a “lifetime of service to humanity”.

2002 – NASA’s Mars Odyssey space probe started to map the surface of Mars using its thermal emission imaging system.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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