Word of the day


Inquorate –  having insufficient numbers for a quorum.

Irony deliberate or accidental?


The Afternoons’ panel has just finished discussing the police’s decision not to prosecute John Banks and invited former Labour Party president Mike Williams to give his view.

If memory serves me right he was president when his party was guilty of the pledge card rort.

The question then is: was the irony in inviting him to talk about electoral law accidental or deliberate?

National Poetry Day


If you’ve reason to rhyme or in the mood for metaphor,  today’s the day to do something about it.

It’s National Poetry Day:

Now in its 15th year, National Poetry Day sees poets – both fledgling and award-winning – take to the streets, cafes, auditoriums and class rooms all over the country to read, rap, dance and sing.

The breadth and diversity of this year’s National Poetry Day performances are cause for celebration says event organiser and published poet, Siobhan Harvey.

“More than ever before the shows are interactive and visual, and there are some truly creative events using multi-media.

“There’s something for everyone. National Poetry Day isn’t just for established poets; it’s also for people who simply want to give poetry a go. So if you harbour a desire to perform a piece of your own, this is the day to throw caution to the wind.”

A full list of events celebrating poetry is here.

Tuesday Poem is a good place to start if you’re looking for poetry.

If  the proximity of the Olympics has led you to thoughts of sporting poems, there’s a good selection here.

And for no better reason than it’s the first poem I can remember learning at school and I’m sure it’s out of copyright:

Eletelephony by Laura Elizabeth Richards

Who tried to use the telephant—
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)





Exporters positive


The global outlook might be cloudy but exporters are still sunny:

“The ExportNZ 2012 Survey shows the majority of exporters are still in a positive frame of mind despite exchange rate challenges and the lacklustre growth affecting some parts of the world economy”, says Catherine Beard, Executive Director of ExportNZ.

Just over half the respondents (51.8%) expected their profitability to improve in the next 12 months and 35.7% expect to employ more people. Over the next 12 months, 19.6% expect their orders to rise substantially and 48.8% said they expected orders to rise slowly.

The top 5 export destinations for respondents were Australia, North America, Europe (incl UK), China (incl Hong Kong) and ASEAN. . .

The main obstacles to exporting identified by respondents were demand offshore, exchange rate volatility, funding for developing export markets and price competitiveness of their products.

Regulatory barriers to export were more troublesome in overseas markets, where 34.1% had a problem than in New Zealand, only 13% mentioned domestic barriers.

The overseas barriers are mainly around issues such as tariffs, product registration, bureaucracy and non-tariff barriers – see full report for expanded list.

The domestic barriers mentioned included treatment of the export of education services (NZQA and immigration rules), food safety transaction costs, phytosanitary and AQIS costs and export freight costs.

The Ports of Auckland dispute affected 28% of Auckland respondents negatively and 15% of Tauranga exporters. Dollar figure losses ranged from $5,000-250,000, with one respondent having lost $4,000 a week. See full report for comments.

When asked if the Government was doing enough to support exporting 61.3% said no (down from 65% last year) and when asked what kind of Government assistance was favoured, the majority said Export Market Development, followed by R&D assistance.

When asked more generally what the priority issues were, development or venture capital was most important, followed by export market development and R&D.

Catherine Beard said the emphasis on more help needed for export market development probably reflects the fact that many of our exporters are relatively small by world standards. While 24% of respondents said capital was no constraint at all, for around 32% it is a real constraint.

The regions where respondents said they expected most growth were Australia, North America and China, and 40% of respondents expect to enter new markets in the next 12 months, which is encouraging.

Catherine Beard said it was good to see the resilience of the export sector in the survey results, particularly given the global slowdown and the volatile dollar.

“There is a significant list non-tariff barriers that exporters are battling and ExportNZ is keen to work with government officials to tackle them.”

This reinforces the importance of the work the government and officials are doing in negotiating free trade agreements.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.“?

2. Who wrote, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?

3. It’s too easy in French, genitori  in Italian, padres in Spanish and in matua  in Maori, what is it in English?

4.  What is the current period of paid parental leave in NZ?

5. Which is your favourite Margaret Mahy book?

Points for answers:

Wildwan got 3.

Alwyn got five and a bonus for listening to his wife for which he gets an electronic box of chocolates.

Adam got 3.

Grant got 4 and a bonus for being the only one to have read a Margaret Mahy book.

Answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fagan father & son double win


Father and son wins at the Royal Welsh show have added another chapter to the Fagan shearing legend:

The New Zealand shearing legend David Fagan and his son Jack have scored a remarkable double on one of the biggest shearing stages in the world by winning the open and senior finals at the Royal Welsh Show.

Earlier this year Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers called for shearing to be introduced to the Olympics.

Sir Brian Lochore seconded that:

Sir Brian, a Wairarapa farmer who contested in the first ever Golden Shears in Masterton in 1961, gave an almost “hero” status to today’s modern day international shearing guns in his speech at last night’s (Thursday March 1) Golden Shears World Championship dinner.

“Those competitors who are part of Golden Shears and now the World Championships are part of the World Cup of Shearing. Lets compare it to rugby. When New Zealand hosted the World Cup of rugby, we had the best players – the best prepared. Here in Masterton right now we have those same best players and the best prepared.”

Sir Brian said Golden Shears and the competitors who took part had champion quality.

“I absolutely support that shearing is no longer just a job. I do think that one day you will get it in the Olympics.”

Shearing is one of the most physically demanding occupations, it’s also a sport and those who take part are just as much athletes as those who compete in sports which are already included in the Olympics.

One earns the other spends


The contrast between National and Labour could hardly have been greater this week.

Speeches by ministers at the National Party conference outlined policies for economic growth and emphasised the need to spend public funds carefully.

Then Labour promotes Private Members’ Bills to extend Paid Parental Leave, increase the minimum wage and Mondayise holidays for Waitangi and Anzac Days should they fall on the weekend.

National’s policies acknowledge the difficult international economic climate and that we have to earn before we can spend.

Labour’s show its priority is spending and it has no idea about earning.

The Mondayising of Waitangi and Anzac Days is the least expensive of the measures Labour is promoting. It would be needed only once every seven years and businesses cope with the holidays every other year.

I don’t have strong feelings about whether or not Waitangi Day is Mondayised, but I do agree with the RSA on Anzac Day:

The RSA policy has always been to preserve the special nature of Anzac Day. The National Executive Committee of the RSA has given this issue very serious consideration and we do not support this legislative change,” says National President Don McIver.

“We would always want to see Anzac Day commemorations fall on 25 April and not on the nearest week day and we understand the proposed bill will preserve that arrangement.”

“However, we are seriously concerned that to allow a holiday long weekend when Anzac Day falls within a weekend will take the focus away from our most solemn day of commemoration in memory of the sacrifice of New Zealanders for their nation and, instead, turn attention towards the holiday itself.”

“We are concerned that this will trivialise the true intent of this very special day of national commemoration.”

Anzac Day isn’t a celebration but a commemoration. If it falls on a week day people have had a day off to remember the sacrifices of the people who fought for peace, it’s not supposed to be just another holiday.

No-one disputes the demands new babies place on families and the importance of parent-child bonding. But I have yet to see a good argument why paid parental leave should be publicly funded, especially when not only isn’t it means tested but it also pays more to wealthy earners than poorer ones.

As for increasing the minimum wage – that’s just another example of Planet Labour’s distance from the real world where, as National knows, the best way to increase all wages is through economic growth.

On Planet Labour it’s all about spending, in the real world National knows only when we’re earning our way can we have choices about spending.

Why walk to opposition wilderness?


The Maori Party’s opponents were very keen for it to walk out on its coalition agreement with National.

But difficult as coalitions and the compromises it requires can be, the party knows where it can achieve most:

This week in the clearest statement she has made on why the Maori Party will not walk away from its coalition agreement with National, Turia (who many regard as the true leader of the Maori Party) said: “Why would we jeopardise the greatest opportunity Maori have ever had to benefit from political influence by abdicating our responsibilities and disappearing into the crowded wasteland of the opposition?”

In this single sentence she encapsulated what she thinks the Maori Party can achieve in alliance with National, but also her distaste for what she calls “the Labour House” where she says, when she was in it, she “had huge difficulty in learning by rote the key lines of the day.” She says the Maori Party contributions at Cabinet Committees have a free and frank flavour which leaves little room for doubt “if we have concerns.” She says “just as importantly we acknowledge the compromises made in our favour: the transformation across all sectors through Whanau Ora, and the increased priority given to addressing poverty and a range of social issues.”

Labour had the Maori seats sewn up for so many years it took them, and Maori, for granted.

National showed respect for the party after the 2008 election by inviting it into coalition when it didn’t need to.

Yesterday, the government completed the third reading of the Ngai Tāmanuhiri Claims Settlement Bill during which Tariana Turia struggled with tears .

Three other settlements were also finalised and several MPs made Facebook entries saying how moving the waiata from the gallery were.

Sporting success good, business success . . . ?


Tomorrow the Olympic Games open. We’ll all be hoping our athletes do well and celebrating their success.

Today the NBR publishes its Rich List and the success it represents is less likely to be celebrated.

After more than a quarter of a century, the NBR Rich List 2012 still draws a variety of strong reactions, many of them negative.

My description last year that we should treat those successful in business as “national treasures” was especially controversial.

It would appear many New Zealanders – probably even a majority – object to wealth, even though by world standards this country’s levels of prosperity are modest indeed…

Few are wealthy because of luck, most earn it. Financial fitness is at least as much a result of ability and hard work as physical fitness.

This year’s list shows that investments in property and natural resources have paid off:

Those who have invested in natural resources or high-growth companies have seen their wealth increase dramatically, while those in the more traditional sectors have found the value of their businesses drop or remain static in a world still in the grip of subdued consumer spending. . .

The list also introduces an international section in recognition of the globalisation of wealth:

These new members have invested parts of the their fortunes in New Zealand or have substantial assets that give them residency rights.

The assets are both for business and pleasure.

To these we have added some of the richer New Zealand-born expatriates, who have created billion-dollar fortunes overseas and do not have this country as their primary residence. . .

At least some of this will count as foreign investment to which the xenophobes show such antipathy.

But New Zealand is richer because of the inward investment and also through the philanthropic activities of the investors.

These people don’t seek medals. But just as watching elite athletes might encourage the less active amongst us to exercise more,  financially successfully people can be role models who provide positive examples and their achievements should be celebrated.




July 27 in history


1054  Siward, Earl of Northumbria invaded Scotland to support Malcolm Canmore against Macbeth of Scotland, who usurped the Scottish throne from Malcolm’s father, King Duncan. Macbeth was defeated at Dunsinane.

1214 Battle of Bouvines: Philip II of France defeated John of England.

1302  Battle of Bapheus: Decisive Ottoman victory over the Byzantines, opened up Bithynia for Turkish conquest.

1549 Jesuit priest Francis Xavier’s ship reached Japan.

1663 The English Parliament passed the second Navigation Act requiring that all goods bound for the American colonies had to be sent in English ships from English ports.

1689  Glorious Revolution: Battle of Killiecrankie ended.

1694  A Royal Charter was granted to the Bank of England.

1720  The second important victory of the Russian Navy – the Battle of Grengam.

1768 Charlotte Corday, French aristocrat who killed Jean-Paul Marat, was born (d. 1793).

1778  American Revolution: First Battle of Ushant – British and French fleets fought to a standoff.

1794  Maximilien Robespierre was arrested after encouraging the execution of more than 17,000 “enemies of the Revolution”.

1824 Alexandre Dumas, fils, French author, was born (d. 1895).

1862 The SS Golden Gate caught fire and sinks off Manzanillo, Mexico, killing 231.

1866  The Atlantic Cable was  completed, allowing transatlantic telegraph communication for the first time.

1870 Hilaire Belloc, English writer, was born (d. 1953).

1880  Second Anglo-Afghan War: Battle of Maiwand – Afghan forces led by Ayub Khan defeated the British Army.

1882  Geoffrey de Havilland, British aircraft designer, was born (d. 1965).

1914  Felix Manalo registered the Iglesia ni Cristo with the Philippine government.

1916  Elizabeth Hardwick, American literary critic and novelist, was born (d. 2007).

1919  The Chicago Race Riot erupted after a racial incident on a South Side beach, leading to 38 fatalities and 537 injuries over a five-day period.

1917 The Allies reached the Yser Canal at the Battle of Passchendaele.

1921  Researchers at the University of Toronto led by biochemist Frederick Banting announced the discovery of the hormone insulin.

1928  Tich Freeman became the only bowler ever to take 200 first-class wickets before the end of July.

1929 Jack Higgins, British novelist, was born.

1940 The animated short A Wild Hare was released, introducing the character of Bugs Bunny.

1941  Japanese troops occupied French Indo-China.

1944 Bobbie Gentry, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1949 – Maureen McGovern, American singer, was born.

1949 – Robert Rankin, English novelist, was born.

1949  Initial flight of the de Havilland Comet, the first jet-powered airliner.

1953  Korean War endeed: The United States,  China, and North Korea, signed an armistice agreement. Syngman Rhee, president of South Korea, refused to sign but pledged to observe the armistice.

1955  The Allied occupation of Austria stemming from World War II, ended.

1958 Christopher Dean, English figure skater, was born.

1963 Pioneeer aviator George Bolt died.

Pioneer aviator George Bolt dies

1964 Vietnam War: 5,000 more American military advisers were sent to South Vietnam bringing the total number of United States forces in Vietnam to 21,000.

1968 Cliff Curtis, New Zealand actor, was born.

1969 Jonty Rhodes, South African cricketer, was born.

1974  Watergate Scandal: The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted 27 to 11 to recommend the first article of impeachment (for obstruction of justice) against President Richard Nixon.

1976  Former Japanese prime minister Kakuei Tanaka was arrested on suspicion of violating foreign exchange and foreign trade laws in connection with the Lockheed bribery scandals.

1981  On Coronation Street, Ken Barlow married Deirdre Langton.

1983  Black July: 18 Tamil political prisoners at the Welikada high security prison in Colombo were massacred by the Sinhalese prisoners, the second such massacre in two days.

1987 RMS Titanic, Inc. began the first expedited salvaging of wreckage of the RMS Titanic.

1990  The Supreme Soviet of the Belarusian Soviet Republic declared independence of Belarus from the Soviet Union.

1990 – The Jamaat al Muslimeen staged a coup d’état attempt in Trinidad and Tobago, occupying Parliament and the studios of Trinidad and Tobago Television, holding Prime Minister A. N. R. Robinson, most of his Cabinet, and the staff at the television station hostage for 6 days.

1995  The Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C..

1996  Centennial Olympic Park bombing: In Atlanta, Georgia, a pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Alice Hawthorne was killed, and a cameraman had a heart attack fleeing the scene. 111 were injured.

1997  Si Zerrouk massacre in Algeria; about 50 people killed.

2002  Ukraine airshow disaster: A Sukhoi Su-27 fighter crashed during an air show at Lviv, killing 85 and injuring more than 100 others, the largest air show disaster in history.

2006  The Federal Republic of Germany was deemed guilty in the loss of Bashkirian 2937 and DHL Flight 611, because it was illegal to outsource flight surveillance.

2007  Phoenix News Helicopter Collision: News helicopters from television stations KNXV and KTVK collided over Steele Indian School Park in central Phoenix while covering a police chase; there were no survivors.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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