Word of the day


Battologist – one who needlessly and tiresomely repeats the same thing in speaking or writing.

Hip, funky, hot and cool


Last month Cuisine listed Oamaru as one of the 25 hippest places in the world, this month AA Directions reckons it’s funky:

‘Character’ according to the dictionary is the quality of being individual, typically in an interesting or unusual way. With that definition in mind, we went in search of New Zealand towns with genuine character, towns with strong, distinct personalities. Here’s what we found…

Walk the cobbled streets of Oamaru’s heritage precinct outside school hours, and there’s a good chance of spotting the fugitive sky pirate, Sir Livin Hope, or a small girl carrying a case full of deadly ray guns.

These are characters who reside in the weird and wonderful world of Steampunk – an imagined Victorian future where electricity fizzled out and steam remained king.

Some call it science fiction, others an alternative history. It’s a style of dress, a form of art and, for a select few, a way of life. However it’s defined, one thing is certain: Steampunk is alive and well in Oamaru.

It all started two years ago, with a beer mug. . .

Stempunk is fascinating and fun, think art meets science mixed with history and fantasy.

It’s as small as a piece of jewellery or as large as a steam train which rewards those who feed it with $2 coins with a light and sound show:

Steampunk isn’t the only thing that’s hot down here, via Oamaru Life I discovered that wine blogger Robert Giorgione asks if Waitaki could be the next wine hot spot:

Before we proceed any further, I know exactly what you’re thinking right now. Who or what the hell is Waitaki? More to the point – where is Waitaki, more like? To put it plainly and simply, the Waitaki Valley (a.k.a Waitaki) is a very small wine region out in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand. Or as Kiwis would say – “it’s out in the woop woops mate!” In fact, I passed through this remote and picturesque little piece of bush in 2004 during my road trip around the South Island. . .

Passing quickly over the phrase which is not woop wopps but wop wops and the quibble that there’s little if any bush left in the valley, his praise is welcome recognition of the valley’s growing wine industry.

The Waitaki Valley isn’t the easiest place in which to grow grapes, but the wine which results from those who persevere has a growing reputation for its quality.

IMF approves govt plan


The International Monetary Fund has backed the government’s plan to return to surplus calling it ambitious but not overly dramatic:

IMF mission chief to New Zealand Brian Aitken told reporters in Wellington yesterday the global lending agency supports the National-led administration’s plan to get the books back in surplus as an appropriate balance between constraining public debt and protecting the economy.

“I don’t think we would want to see anything dramatic, but I don’t think the government needs to take dramatic action,” Aitken said. “It is a kind of ambitious deficit reduction plan.”

The IMF today released its preliminary concluding statement on New Zealand’s economy after a week-long mission, and Aitken said the “outlook for New Zealand looks good though it’s not great.”

The benefits of the government’s plan lay in withdrawing fiscal stimulus ahead of the earthquake reconstruction and private sector recovery, giving the government room to act in the event of another global shock, limiting pressure on interest rates to rise and helping contain an increase in the nation’s net foreign liabilities, the IMF said.

The IMF said the major risks to our economy are external ones.

It also said that New Zealanders have learned the lessons of the economic crisis:

New Zealand seems to have learned the economic lessons of the recent housing bubble and a “structural shift” in savings habits is under way, says the International Monetary Fund.

In an uncharacteristically upbeat assessment of the New Zealand economy, the IMF says New Zealand is emerging in reasonably good shape from the recent global financial crisis.

The Reserve Bank’s “accommodative” monetary policy receives the thumbs up, as does the government’s deficit reduction plan.

The IMF is still concerned about New Zealand’s long-term external liabilities, with a current account deficit going back to the mid-1970s, and says the only way this large external liability will be eased is by a higher level of savings.

But New Zealanders appear to be doing that, the IMF’s deputy divisional chief for the Asia Pacific region, Brian Aitken, says.

Finance Minister Bill English welcomed the IMF’s assessment:

In its preliminary concluding statement on New Zealand, published today, the IMF notes the Government’s medium-term deficit reduction plan is aimed at limiting the increase in public debt to guard against future economic risks and contributing to lowering external debt.

“In our view, this strikes the right balance between the need to limit public debt increases, while containing any adverse impact on economic growth during the recovery,” the IMF says.

Mr English says returning to surplus in 2014/15, while challenging, will make an important contribution to reducing New Zealand’s external debt and improving national savings.

“The IMF and others clearly recognise the focus of the Government’s plan in achieving this important goal,” he says.

“Getting back to surplus will help create a buffer against future global shocks and, as the IMF notes, it will limit pressure on monetary policy and therefore the exchange rate. This will be important in easing headwinds for exporters and reducing the current account deficit.

“That’s why Budget 2012 will be a zero budget or close to zero, in terms of extra spending over the next four years. We will do that because we need to get back to surplus so we’re not continuing to increase debt.”

We’ve been living on other people’s savings for too long but the message does seem to have got through with increased savings and lower debt.

It isn’t easy to get the balance between limiting debt and not constraining economic growth but the government is doing its best to get it right.

The IMF report is here.


Answer depends on question


The latest One News Colmar Brunton poll shows a drop in the number of people opposed to the partial sale of state assets although the majority still oppose the idea:

The latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll shows the policy continues to fly in the face of public opinion, with only 30% of people saying they support the mixed-ownership model.

Double that number say they do not support it (61%), and the rest (9%) do not know.

But it appears voter support for asset sales has picked up slightly since ONE News last asked the question in a November poll.

Back then, just 26% of people supported the plan, while almost 70% opposed it.

What answer is given depends on the question asked.

If, for example people, were asked: do you want the government to borrow more from foreigners? or do you want the government to stop investing in new infrastructure? or would Air New Zealand be better if it was wholly owned by the government? it’s likely that many of those who think they’re opposed to partial sales might answer no to all those questions.

Collins paying own way


Confession time – when I heard that Judith Collins was suing Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little and Radio NZ for defamation I wondered if it would be better to let the matter drop.

Such is the low esteem in which most politicians are held, it’s not easy for them to prove their reputations have been damaged and I thought the suit was a waste of time and money.

But Stephen Franks has changed my mind:

Such plaintiffs serve the public interest in upholding the integrity of public debate. If there is no sanction for lying in the exercise of free speech, a kind of Gresham’s law may prevail. The person determined not to lie may be destroyed by the colour and effectiveness of ever bigger lies.

It’s very easy for MPs to insult someone’s integrity but that doesn’t make it right. It could be seen as a form of bullying and the best way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them.

They are probably hoping she’ll back down, but she’s said she’s continuing with the defamation case and she’s using her own money to do so.

Even if the Cabinet manual allows for public funding of law suits of this nature, I don’t think it would be the best use of scarce funds and am pleased the Minister will be paying her own way.

April 3 in history


1043 Edward the Confessor was crowned King of England.

1077 The first Parliament of Friuli was created.

1559 The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis treaty is signed, ending the Italian Wars.

1593  George Herbert, English poet and orator, was born  (d. 1633).

1834 The generals in the Greek War of Independence stood trial for treason.

1860 The first successful United States Pony Express run from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California began.

1865 American Civil War: Union forces captured Richmond, Virginia the capital of the Confederate States of America.

1882 Jesse James was killed by Robert Ford.

1885 Gottlieb Daimler was granted a German patent for his engine design.

1895  Trial of the libel case instigated by Oscar Wilde began, eventually resulting in his imprisonment on charges of homosexuality.

1915 Piet de Jong, Dutch politician, Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1967 until 1971, was born.

1917 Vladimir Lenin arrived in Russia from exile, marking the beginning of Bolshevik leadership in the Russian Revolution.

1922 Doris Day, American actress and singer, was born.

1922 Joseph Stalin became the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1924 Marlon Brando, American actor, was born  (d. 2004).

1934 Jane Goodall, English zoologist, was born.

1936 Bruno Richard Hauptmann was executed for the kidnapping and death of Charles Augustus Lindbergh II, the baby son of pilot Charles Lindbergh.

1943 – The Battle of Manners Street between soldiers and civilians.

'Battle of Manners Street'

1944 Tony Orlando, American musician, was born.

1946  Japanese Lt. General Masaharu Homma was executed in the Philippines for leading the Bataan Death March.

1948  Carlos Salinas, former President of Mexico, was born.

1948 President Harry S. Truman signed the Marshall Plan, authorizing $5 billion in aid for 16 countries.

1948  The Jeju massacre began.

1956 Hudsonville-Standale Tornado: The western half of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan was struck by a deadly F5 tornado.

1961 Eddie Murphy, American actor and comedian, was born.

1968 Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

1973 The first portable cell phone call was made in New York City.

1974 – The Super Outbreak occured, the biggest tornado outbreak in recorded history. The death toll was 315, with nearly 5,500 injured.

1975 Bobby Fischer refused to play in a chess match against Anatoly Karpov, giving Karpov the title of World Champion by default.

1982 The United Kingdom sent a naval task force to the south Atlantic to reclaim the disputed Malvinas/Falkland Islands from Argentina.

1996 Suspected “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski was arrested.

1996 A United States Air Force airplane carrying United States Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown crashed in Croatia, killing all 35 on board.

1997 The Thalit massacre began in Algeria; all but 1 of the 53 inhabitants of Thalit were killed by guerrillas.

2000 United States v. Microsoft: Microsoft was ruled to have violated United States antitrust laws by keeping “an oppressive thumb” on its competitors.

2004  Islamic terrorists involved in the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks were trapped by the police in their apartment and killed themselves.

2007  Conventional-Train World Speed Record: a French TGV train on the LGV Est high speed line set an official new world speed record.

2008 ATA Airlines, once one of the 10 largest U.S. passenger airlines and largest charter airline, filed for bankruptcy for the second time in 5 years and ceases all operations.

2009  Australia formally adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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