Word of the day


Liberty – being free from restriction or control; freedom from unjust or undue government control or restriction; freedom from arbitrary or despotic control; the right and power to act, believe, or express oneself as one chooses or pleases;  being physically and legally free from confinement, servitude, or forced labour; the right or immunity to engage in certain actions without control or interference; the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges; breach or overstepping of propriety or social convention; statement, attitude, or action not warranted by conditions or actualities; unwarranted risk; a chance; a, usually short,  period of shore leave for a sailor.

Viva la France


In honour of Bastille Day: Do You Hear the People Sing at the 10th anniversary, sung in their own languages by 17 men who played Valjean.

Possum fur and pest control goals don’t match


A Landcare Research study shows that possum fur trapping and pest control goals do not always match.

That has been welcomed by the Animal Health Board which is tasked with controlling and eventually eradicating bovine tuberculosis as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Possum control is a very important part of their work.

We currently use a combination of trapping, hand-laid toxins and aerial control – an approach that is keeping us on target in terms of eradicating the disease from the wild. From a TB control perspective, even if fur trapping was subsidised, it would be far too risky for New Zealand to rely on fur trappers for critical disease management-driven pest control.

The AHB has recently engaged with the New Zealand Fur Council to identify opportunities for fur recovery as part of our possum control operations. However, our primary  concern  must always be to keep possum numbers low enough to break the TB cycle. Any fur recovery activities would need to be subordinate to this goal. A major advantage of our current control strategy is that we can be confident we are consistently achieving the extremely low possum densities needed for effective TB control. As soon as there is a conflicting objective such as the recovery of fur, the pest control outcome can be compromised. Stringent performance monitoring would need to be put in place, at a significant additional cost. Some of our ground control contractors do recover furs, but this is something they need to negotiate with their employer as it has the potential to reduce efficiency and performance – time spent plucking possums is time not spent checking traps or laying baits.

While the study highlights the theoretical socio-economic benefits of trapping over aerial control, the reality is that the AHB is already using trapping and ground control techniques on up to 90 per cent of our operations annually, and only use aerially-applied toxins where other methods are impractical. Fur Council representatives readily admit that much of land controlled by the AHB is already well below economic levels for the possum fur trade. On top of this, the AHB provides a steady source of work for hundreds of local pest controllers across the country. In the 2012/13 financial year, we expect to spend more than $40 million on TB possum control. Much of this money will end up in struggling rural economies. In many areas, we already struggle to find enough people with the skills to carry out trapping and ground control across often challenging terrain.

I love possum fur clothing and am particularly enamoured of merino mink – the combination of merino wool and possum fur.

I have sympathy with communities which want to foster the fur business:

The Coromandel Colville Community Board and the Thames Coromandel District Council are against using residual poison and are instead supporting a locally based possum trapping industry.

Earlier this year, Waikato Regional Council sought submissions from suitably experienced operators about undertaking possum control in the north west Coromandel Peninsula.

The Colville-Coromandel Community Board has put forward a proposal to the council to allow the community to trial a mixture of commercial and private possum trapping.

But there is no contest between eradicating TB and fostering the fur industry.

Human and animal health and the wellbeing of native flora and fauna which are all at considerable risk from possums must come first.

Strong professional body better for teachers and pupils


Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced the committee tasked with reviewing the Teachers Council:

“The goal is to ensure that the Teachers’ Council is a strong, professional body that will set and enforce high standards, promote effective teaching practice, develop the professional community of teachers, and lead public discussion on education issues,” Ms Parata says.

“The Teachers’ Council Review Committee will investigate the council’s current capability to focus on these roles, and on what structural and legislative arrangements might be needed to ensure effectiveness.”

Pauline Winter has been appointed chair of the committee and Dr Judith Aitken, John Morris, Robyn Baker and Jonathan Krebs members.

“The committee has skills and expertise right across education, business, the State Sector, and professional bodies. They’ll seek input from a wide range of stakeholders, and report to me at the end of October.

“This Government is determined to lift student achievement, and we know that quality teaching has the biggest in-school impact on achievement,” Ms Parata says.

“Strong professional leadership, distinct from government or industrial organisations, will achieve a great deal in lifting the status and profile of teaching as a career for the 21st century.”

One of the reasons the views of teachers aren’t always taken seriously is that their spokespeople are almost always unions which have vested interests and political bias.

Ensuring the council is a strong, professional body that will concentrate on professional rather than industrial or political matters will be better for the profession and those they teach.


Innovation ranking climbs


Picture of the day:

It refers to New Zealand’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index which has climbed two places since 2011 and 15 since 2007.

The report, which analyses innovation in 141 countries, also ranks New Zealand third in the Asia and Oceania region after Singapore and Hong Kong.

“The 2012 Global Innovation Index recognises the good progress New Zealand is making as a smart and innovative country to do business,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says.

“The index is one of the most widely cited composite indicators of national competitiveness and New Zealand has scored highly on the ease of starting a business, education, knowledge creation and the number of new businesses per capita.”

Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore top the rankings, while New Zealand is ahead of countries such as Norway (14th), Israel (17th) and Australia (23rd).

“We’re also ahead of major economies such as Korea, China, Japan and Germany. This shows that although we may not have the size or population of those countries, it’s the quality of our people, their ideas, and the regulatory and business environments that are helping make a positive difference,” Mr Joyce says.

The index is prepared by the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD, a leading graduate business school), and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (a specialised agency of the United Nations).

Scoring highly on the ease of starting a business, education, knowledge creation and the number of new businesses per capita is notable.

We were ranked third for institutions, sixth for political stability, second for the regulatory environment, first for school life expectancy, first for ease of protecting investors and second for the consumption of culture and recreation.

The full report is here.

Water woes


Column of the day by Jim Hopkins:

He starts:

Oh, darn. “Once more unto the beach, dear friends.” Well, not the beach, more like the river, puddle, rill, and stream. But the principle’s the same. And the issue’s the same. And the argument’s the same. And the reaction’s the same. And the reaction to the reaction is the same.

And here we go again – another fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Because we have.

This is our favourite faction replay, the old and festering sore, inflamed by good intentions and false expectations, and it just keeps on keeping on – dragging us back to Groundhog Day over and over again. Although, this time, it’s more Waterhog Day than Groundhog Day. . .

He concludes:

. . . This is something for the Crown to settle, in due and thoughtful course, with those citizens who feel they’re entitled to a specified piece of the water rights action.

Good luck to all involved. But the larger question is what price do those citizens – and their neighbours – pay to achieve that benefit.

Abraham Lincoln said “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In which case, how long can we stand dividing our house against itself? That’s the nub of all these matters. And the matter no tribunal can resolve.

John Key has been accused of dog whistle politics for stating, correctly, that Waitangi Tribunal rulings aren’t binding on the government.

Sadly the bigots have seized on the excuse to voice their opinions.

Funny though, that no-one calls it dog-whistling when those on the other end of the political and race/identity spectrum make equally extreme comments.

What those making the fuss from that side overlook is that the tribunal might find in favour of the government’s stance. They would be quite happy for it to ignore the findings then.

But whatever the tribunal rules and whatever follows, which could well be court action, Lincoln was right about the dangers of continued division.











July 14 in history


1223 Louis VIII became King of France upon the death of his father, Philip II of France.

1698 The Darien scheme began with five ships, bearing about 1,200 people, departing Leith for the Isthmus of Panama.

1769 The de Portolá Expedition established a base in California, and set out to find the Port of Monterey.

1771 Foundation of the Mission San Antonio de Padua  by the Franciscan friar Junípero Serra.

1789  French Revolution: Citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille and free seven prisoners.

1790  French Revolution: Citizens of Paris celebrated the constitutional monarchy and national reconciliation in the Fête de la Fédération.

1791  The Priestley Riots drove  Joseph Priestley, a supporter of the French Revolution, out of Birmingham, England.

1798  The Sedition Act became law in the United States making it a federal crime to write, publish, or utter false or malicious statements about the government.

1834  James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American painter (d. 1903).

1858  Emmeline Pankhurst, English suffragette (d. 1928)

1865  First ascent of the Matterhorn by Edward Whymper and party, four of whom died on the descent.

1868  Gertrude Bell, English archaeologist, writer, spy, and administrator, was born (d. 1926).

1872 Albert Marque, French sculptor and doll maker, was born (d. 1939).

1881 Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Pat Garrett outside Fort Sumner.

1853 New Zealand’s first general election began.

NZ's first general election begins

1900 Armies of the Eight-Nation Alliance captured Tientsin during the Boxer Rebellion.

1902 The Campanile in St Mark’s Square, Venice collapsed, also demolishing the loggetta.

1903 Irving Stone, American writer, was born (d. 1989).

1910 William Hanna, American animator, was born  (d. 2001).

1911  Terry-Thomas, British actor, was born  (d. 1990).

1912 Woody Guthrie, American folk musician, was born (d. 1967).

1913 Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States, was born (d. 2006).

1916 Start of the Battle of Delville Wood as an action in the Battle of the Somme.

1918  Ingmar Bergman, Swedish film and theatre director, was born (d. 2007).

1921 – Leon Garfield, English children’s author, was born (d. 1996).

1928 Nancy Olson, American actress, was born.

1930 Polly Bergen, American actress, was born.

1933 Gleichschaltung: In Germany, all political parties were outlawed except the Nazi Party.

1940 Susan Howatch, English author, was born.

1943  The George Washington Carver National Monument became the first United States National Monument in honor of an African American.

1948  Palmiro Togliatti, leader of the Italian Communist Party, was shot near the Italian Parliament.

1950 Sir Apirana Ngata died.

Death of Sir Apirana Ngata

1958  Iraqi Revolution:  the monarchy was overthrown by popular forces lead by Abdul Karim Kassem, who becomes the nation’s new leader.

1965  The Mariner 4 flyby of Mars took the first close-up photos of another planet.

1969  Football War: after Honduras lost a soccer match against El Salvador rioting broke out in Honduras against Salvadoran migrant workers.

1969  The United States $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills were officially withdrawn from circulation.

1984 – David Lange led Labour to election victory.

David Lange celebrating 1984 election victory

1992  386BSD was released by Lynne Jolitz and William Jolitz beginning the Open Source Operating System Revolution.

2000 A powerful solar flare, later named the Bastille Day event, causef a geomagnetic storm.

2002  French President Jacques Chirac escaped an assassination attempt unscathed during Bastille Day celebrations.

2003  The United States Government admitted the existence of “Area 51“.

2007  Russia withdrew from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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