Word of the day


Eructation – the act, process or an instance of belching; a belch; the release of gas from the intestinal tract through the mouth; that which is regurgitated in belching.

State of recovery


The second anniversary of Canterbury’s first big earthquake is just a few days away, Earthquake recovery Minsiter Gerry Brownlee has taken the opportunity to update us on the state of the recovery:

I want to provide you with an overview of the recovery process to date and the significant progress that we are making.

But first, I want to thank the rest of New Zealand for the incredible level of support and assistance that the Canterbury region has received over the last two years. From all ends of the country, New Zealanders came to our aid and continue to support us.

Those of us not directly affected by the quakes can’t really understand what the people of Christchurch and its hinterland have been and are still going through. Nor should we underestimate their resilience.

 And we can all be proud of what we have achieved to recover from this adversity. Everyone has had to make sacrifices, to do things differently and to cope with the strain that these events have caused.

The shared experience since then has come to define the lives of this generation of Cantabrians.

Our challenge is that, in five years’ time, the event that by then defines the lives of this generation of Cantabrians is not so much the earthquakes, but being part of the recreation of the magnificent new Christchurch.

Out of the tragedy comes the opportunity to create the best small city in the world, and there are extraordinary opportunities for anyone who wants to be part of it. . .

Some people have left the city and who can blame them when there have been more than 10,000 quakes and aftershocks since September 4 2010 ?

The vast majority have stayed. They and others from outside attracted by the opportunities will make a better city.

. . . I would like to think that the City Red Zone will no longer be “red” meaning danger – it will be “red” because of the high energy activity and building going on there.

We can plan a better and brighter future. The rebuild is gaining momentum. Nearly $1 billion worth of building consents were approved in Canterbury in the first half of 2012, while the amount of ready mixed concrete produced in the Christchurch metropolitan area has more than doubled since March 2011, to 112 thousand cubic metres. Over the same period, the amount of concrete produced in Auckland actually decreased and in Wellington it stayed roughly the same.

As I said at the outset, the challenge I make to you this morning is to ensure in five years’ time, the event that defines the lives of this generation of Cantabrians is no longer the earthquakes, but being part of the recreation of the magnificent new Christchurch.

We have to make it exceptional – we have to have both public and private sectors – focused on creating only the best of facilities.

To be blunt about it, New Zealand has something of a record of doing things a bit half-arsed. . .

He gives examples of Auckland building the harbour bridge without considering the development that would encourage on the North Shore, the eight years it took to build a bridge to the airport which was too small; the Terrace tunnel in Wellington which can’t cope with the traffic and parliament buildings which were never finished then added to by the ‘dysfunctional round building’.

I am determined that this is not how we are going to recreate Christchurch.

The policy has to be that everything we decide to do in Christchurch is going to be the best. What’s more, we need to do it quickly and – to use the jargon – it must be future-proofed. And will benefit New Zealand as a whole. We have the opportunity to now make it happen.

Partly as a result of the shared experience over the last two years, I think that people in Christchurch and Canterbury have a new respect for one another, and an easy-goingness and tolerance that wasn’t always here before. We must hold on to that.

We’ve had our scraps and bitter words, of course. We’ve been under pressure but it’s made us stronger.

Despite misgivings by some, there is now a unity around the future of Christchurch that I doubt any other city, anywhere in New Zealand, has ever had in recent history.

No-one envies the city the quakes but many would like the opportunity to unite to build something better.

The cost of our new city is predicted to be $30 billion dollars, this is roughly predicted to be the size of our region’s entire GDP. But it will leave us a highly productive and exciting place to live. We can’t build all this overnight, but we must not delay.

Our level of investment will create an economic boom. According to the National Bank, Canterbury is already the fastest growing region in New Zealand. We also need to attract private investment and industry.

Money, people and ideas are pouring in. But, we need to develop an economy that is built on a fundamentally strong economic base. A good example is the new Fonterra plant that will open at the epicentre of the September 4 quake – Darfield – at the end of this year. Fonterra is investing $500 million and the plant will process 6.6 million litres of milk a day. This highlights the strength of the agricultural base of the Canterbury region.

That economic base is the primary reason why the Central City will be recreated as the CCDU Blueprint lays out. The business community which drives our economy have embraced that vision of a modern CBD which makes doing business easier. More Canterbury businesses want to be based in the new CBD than were based in the old. The people of Christchurch are equally unified around the Blueprint.

The city centre was dying, the rebuild will breathe new life in to it.

According to research used to inform CCDU’s investment strategy, 74% of Christchurch businesspeople, 56% of Christchurch residents and 52% of New Zealanders support the plan, with most others being neutral.

Nearly 80% of Christchurch businesspeople and 61% of Christchurch residents believe things in Christchurch are now heading in the right direction, higher than the benchmark of the 51% of New Zealanders who believe things in New Zealand are heading in the right direction.

Importantly, to get our plan underway and create jobs, 97% of Christchurch businesspeople plan to keep living in the city, and three-quarters of them believe this is a good time to invest.

But a real city will not feel like a business park. The Blueprint is designed to be a place that people will want to live in. It must have the social and cultural fabric that people enjoy being part of.

Not only will the Avon River Precinct attract local and visitor use, it will support the core commercial, retail and cultural activities and become a destination in its own right with cultural, art and historic references.

I want to make it clear we must all agree that these projects and facilities must be the best to be found in any small city in the world.   We should not entertain proposals that fall short of that objective. There are going to be no repeats of the four-lane harbour bridges. 

And we need to act quickly to achieve the vision.

Our city’s children who are five today, were barely three in February 2011 and they will not have full access to their central city until they are perhaps 10.  One important part of the Frame – in the north-east – will be the new children’s playground. We will build them a playground from where they can view the rebirth of their city, through their childhood years. It will be the best playground in the world. Not a fun park, but a playground.

Later in the month, I will announce with the Minister of Education a competition for the children themselves to help envision what that playground will be like and begin to understand what a great place Christchurch will become.

A child friendly city is a family friendly city, what a good idea to plan for and involve those who will be part of its future.

Our goal should be that within a decade, Christchurch is clearly recognised as the best small city in the world in which to bring up kids, open a business, go to an art gallery, study at university, watch the All Blacks, make money, create jobs, build a home.

My officials, and those in the council, have made strong commitments to make all this happen fast. The longer we take, the more opportunities will be missed.

Last year, Christchurch was unable to host part of the Rugby World Cup 2011 and 2011 Festival. In the home of the Crusaders, we missed out on what will be remembered as the biggest cultural and sporting event that New Zealand has ever held. In 2015, New Zealand will host part of the Cricket World Cup. The people of Christchurch can’t miss out again. We need to all go into bat for Christchurch and ensure that not only do we take part – we take a leading role in that event.

Beyond that, our new Blueprint will give us the facilities to be the leading events destination in New Zealand.

My message to the businesspeople and investors of New Zealand; and to the philanthropists who might want to become involved in our new parks, our new arts centres or our new sports stadia is this: Christchurch is the place to be. Everything we do here will be the best.

We have always been a beautiful city, in the most beautiful part of New Zealand; the best part of New Zealand to bring up a family; and the main support centre for the South Island’s most important industries, past and present, including agriculture, tourism, mining and oil, education, the high-tech industries and logistics.

We have a fabulous new airport, a restored port and are building superior roads, connecting us better than ever before with the rest of the South Island and the world.

If we can’t make something extraordinary about the newly recreated Christchurch off the back of such opportunities and such overwhelming public, political and business support, there is something wrong with us.

And we’ve proven this last two years there is nothing wrong with us. We have proven we are among the best and most resilient people in the world, and we can do things fast.

Other parts of the South Island, and New Zealand are watching, some with apprehension – will the city take too many workers from elsewhere? But there are opportunities which can provide work and retain staff outside the city too.

For example, while the city needs tradespeople to rebuild it can’t cope with an influx of people yet so building companies further afield are looking at opportunities for work that can be done elsewhere, for example constructing buildings which can be transported.

There are still hold-ups and frustrations for people wanting to rebuild homes, community facilities and businesses.

But there is also vision, unity and energy.

The sooner that is realised the better it will be for the city and the country.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who said: Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.?

2. What is the significance of the temperature Fahrenheit 451 in Ray Bradbury’s book fo that name?

3. What is the largest and heaviest organ in the human body (i.e. internal).

4. How many sides does a heptagon have?

5. Who won New Zealand’s first gold in the 2012 Paralympics and in which sport?

Hard work gets no headlines


The Oamaru Mail reports that the twin bridges across the Waitaki River between Kurow and Hakataramea are to be replaced.

This is very good news.

The old bridges are at the end of their lives and have been closed several times in the last few years.

Each time that happens people wanting to get from one side to the other face a round trip of more than 100 kilometres.

The new bridges will have a cycle-pedestrian path on the downstream side and will provide a dependable alternative route if State Highway 1 at its Waitaki River Bridge was closed.

The project will increase the capacity for over-sized vehicles, such as agricultural machinery and freight, to use SH82 rather than detour to use SH1.

Replacing the ageing structures has been a hot topic with civic leaders, including Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, Waimate Mayor John Coles, residents and service providers. . . 
 Mrs Dean said she was “very pleased” by the announcement.

“In a very constrained budget, bearing in mind the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes, I’m really pleased to see that funding has been approved,” she said.

“This is major achievement for all of us. A lot of time and effort, both here in the Waitaki and at Parliament, went towards having the bridges’ faults recognised and to push for new replacements and I’m happy our efforts have paid off.”

Although she shares the credit, talking of  “we” and “us”,  it is she as the local MP who has done a lot of the hard work needed behind the scenes to put the case for funding the new bridges.

When locals have an issue the MP gets blamed if they don’t get what they want when they want it and this happened over the bridges. I won’t hold my breath waiting for the people who criticised her to now say thanks.

Agitation and blame get headlines, hard work doesn’t and sadly it rarely even gets acknowledgement.

Doesn’t makes sense to borrow to buy


Quote of the day:

Watching the TV1 news this evening, I saw a report indicating a high level of opposition on the part of small business owners to the Government’s proposed asset sales.  And I was depressed all over again at how poorly this issue is understood.

If the average person was asked: Should the government increase the national debt to buy, say, Contact Energy, or Countdown supermarkets, most people would say “Don’t be mad – why would we increase government debt to do that?”

And yet, when the Government proposes to sell a minority interest in some existing businesses – some of them quite risky (e.g. Solid Energy and Air New Zealand) – to reduce its borrowing, a majority of the country reacts in horror.  And yet the two situations are two sides of the same coin.  If it doesn’t make sense to borrow to buy Contact Energy or Countdown, why doesn’t it make sense to sell Meridian Energy and Solid Energy to reduce borrowing? Don Brash

Age stays same now change attitude


Now that a majority of MPs have voted in favour of keeping the purchase age of alcohol it’s time to concentrate on measures which will change the attitude to alcohol abuse and misuse.

Justice Minsiter Judith Collins says:

“Our Alcohol Reform Bill aims to drive lasting change to our drinking culture, and has a wide range of measures to reduce alcohol-related harm in our families and communities.

“I am very pleased to be leading this Bill through Parliament. This is the first time in more than two decades that any Government is acting to restrict rather than relax our drinking laws.

“But, we can’t do it alone. We all have a role to play in shifting our drinking culture, towards more moderate and responsible alcohol consumption,” Ms Collins says.

She’s right, Parliament can change laws but a culture change requires a change in attitude.

Drunkenness isn’t attractive or funny or clever.

The behaviour it leads to can be and often is dangerous to the drunks and others in their vicinity.

Alcohol has a place as a social lubricant but it must be in moderation, regardless of the age of the drinker.

August 31 in history


12 Gaius Caligula, Roman Emperor, was born (d. 41).

1218 Al-Kamil became Sultan of Egypt, Syria and northern Mesopotamia on the death of his father Al-Adil.

1422  Henry VI became King of England at the age of 9 months.

1803 Lewis and Clark started their expedition to the west.

1841 – The brig Sophia Pate, was wrecked on a sandbar at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour with the loss of 21 lives.

1870 Maria Montessori, Italian educator, was born (d. 1952).

1876 Ottoman sultan Murat V was deposed and succeeded by his brother Abd-ul-Hamid II.

1880 Wilhelmina I of the Netherlands, was born (d. 1962).

1886 An earthquake killed 100 in Charleston, South Carolina.

1888  Mary Ann Nichols was murdered, the first of Jack the Ripper’s known victims.

1894 The new Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration (IC&A) Act, a flagship policy of Richard Seddon’s Liberal government, made New Zealand the first country in the world to outlaw strikes in favour of compulsory arbitration. There were no major strikes for 11 years and wages and conditions generally improved.

Arbitration Act becomes law

1894 Albert Facey, Australian writer, was born (d. 1982).

1897  Thomas Edison patented the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.

1907 Count Alexander Izvolsky and Sir Arthur Nicolson signed the St. Petersburg Convention, which resulted in the Triple Entente alliance.

1918 Alan Jay Lerner, American lyricist, was born (d. 1986).

1920 Polish-Bolshevik War: A decisive Polish victory in the Battle of Komarów.

1940 Pennsylvania Central Airlines Trip 19 crashed near Lovettsville, Virginia. The CAB investigation of the accident was the first investigation to be conducted under the Bureau of Air Commerce act of 1938.

1940 Jack Thompson, Australian actor, was born.

1943  The USS Harmon, the first U.S. Navy ship to be named after a black person, was commissioned.

1945 The Liberal Party of Australia was founded by Robert Menzies.

1945 Van Morrison, Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician, was born.

1949 The retreat of the Greek Democratic Army in Albania after its defeat in mountain Grammos marked the end of the Greek Civil War.

1949 Richard Gere, American actor, was born.

1957 The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

1958 A parcel bomb sent by Ngo Dinh Nhu, younger brother and chief adviser of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, failed to kill Sihanouk of Cambodia.

1958 Serge Blanco, French rugby union footballer, was born.

1962  Trinidad and Tobago became independent.

1965 Willie Watson, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1965  The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy aircraft made its first flight.

1974 Leader of the Labour Party since 1965 and Prime Minister from late 1972, Norman Kirk, ’Big Norm’, died suddenly at the age of 51. He was the fifth New Zealand PM to die in office.

Death of Norman Kirk

1978 William and Emily Harris, founders of the Symbionese Liberation Army, pleaded guilty to the 1974 kidnapping of

1986 Aeroméxico Flight 498 collided with a Piper PA-28 over Cerritos, California, killing 67 in the air and 15 on the ground.

1986 The Soviet passenger liner Admiral Nakhimov sank in the Black Sea after colliding with the bulk carrier Pyotr Vasev, killing 423.

1991  Kyrgyzstan declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1992  Pascal Lissouba was inaugurated as the President of the Republic of the Congo .

1993  HMS Mercury, shore establishment of the Royal Navy,  closed after 52 years in commission.

1994 The Provisional Irish Republican Army declared a ceasefire.

1997 Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Al-Fayed and driver Henri Paul died in a car crash in Paris.

1998 North Korea reportedly launches Kwangmyongsong, its first satellite.

1999 The first of a series of bombings in Moscow, killing one person and wounding 40 others.

1999 – A LAPA Boeing 737-200 crashed during takeoff from Jorge Newbury Airport in Buenos Aires, killing 65, including 2 on the ground.

2005  A stampede on Al-Aaimmah bridge in Baghdad killed 1,199 people.

2006 Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, which was stolen on August 22, 2004, was recovered in a raid by Norwegian police.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

Word of the day


Conscience– an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior; the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action; source of moral or ethical judgment or pronouncement; conformity to one’s own sense of right conduct; the awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one’s conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong; the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual; an inhibiting sense of what is prudent; the part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego.

Need attitude change not age change


MPs face another conscience vote tonight, this time on the sale of liquor.

Graeme Edgeler explains there are three choices and the manner of voting might not lead to the result favoured by most.

I’ve never supported a return to a purchase age in both licensed or off-license premises of 20.

I was initially supportive of a split age – 18 in licensed premises and 20 for off licence outlets.

But on further consideration am convinced that will merely be a band-aid on one symptom of a much wider problem of alcohol abuse and misuse.

That is by no means confined to 18 and 19 year-olds and it would be most unfair to restrict the majority who drink responsibly because a few of their contemporaries don’t, while doing nothing for the many over 19 who drink to excess.

We do need to address the attitude to alcohol and the problems associated with it but that won’t be achieved by tinkering with the purchase age.

Rural round-up


Greens and Labour waging war on overseas invest – Allan Barber:

The Greens’ private members bill restricting, in other words banning, all sales of farm land of more than 5 hectares to an overseas investor was defeated last week by two votes. Under a Labour/Green coalition, ably assisted by NZ First and the Maori Party, the terrifying thought is this piece of xenophobic ignorance would be passed into law.

There’s a more than remote possibility of a change of Government in 2014, so this, or some variation of it, could become Government policy and would easily gain a majority in the house. Back in March David Shearer put up his first private member’s bill on the same issue which sought to ensure substantial extra jobs and exports from foreign investment. There were some embarrassing omissions, but the intent was clear, if not as draconian as Russel Norman’s bill. . .

Abigail Vickers, the type of person the dairy industry needs –  Milking on the Moove:

The May 2011 issue of the Dairy Exporter has an article on Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the year, Abigail Vickers.

At the time of the article, Abigail was 25 years old and in her second year as a dairy assistant. She has a goal of owning her own small scale organic farm, that doesn’t necessarily have to be involved in dairy. She already has 5 cows which she leases out, but would like to grow the herd to around 50 cows.
She entered the dairy industry to learn as much as she could about pasture management.
What a great example of a driven young person who has their act together. How many second year dairy assistants have started building up their herd? I don’t know many herd managers who have started building up their herd? She is an example of the type of people the dairy industry needs . . .

Omakau farmer outguns Aussies – Shawn McAvinue:

A heartfelt speech helped a Central Otago grazier beat her Aussie counterparts for an agricultural business award. 

Omakau dairy farmer Jan Manson said she was “taken aback” when she won the Rabobank business development award.

    The $5000 award is part of the executive development programme, which helps agricultural businesses in New Zealand and Australia develop growth strategies. . .

Dairy farmers see milk money in cow pats – Shawn McAvinue:

What creates the perfect cowpat is a hot topic.  Shawn McAvinue   visits a Central Southland dairy farm where staff  are making and mixing quality feed for more milk.

What goes in must come out. 

And Southern Centre Dairies owner Alfons Zeestraten is spending a bit more time examining the green stuff to ensure he gets quality milk. 

You see, he says the ideal cowpat should have the consistency of a children’s chocolate yoghurt. . .

This is a great time to be a low input pasture based farmer and it’s going to get better – Pasture to Profit:

Chaotic extreme weather conditions have caused the worst drought (for more than 50 years) across most of North America.The feed shortages will impact on every dairy farmer. I feel very sorry for those farmers directly affected. Having worked in Australia during years of extreme droughts I know it’s very tough & stressful for both farmers & rural professionals.
Corn/Soybean & to a lesser extent wheat prices are about to substantially increase. All purchased dairy feed will become very expensive. Low input pasture based farmers who don’t buy feed in will avoid the much higher costs but benefit from the expected higher milk prices. . .

Entering Dairy Awards Motivates And Enthuses:

Unique opportunities, enhanced farm businesses and stronger networks are some of the major benefits gained from entering the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Plans for the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are underway, with details to be confirmed at a conference in October. The awards run the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

In reflecting on their participation and success in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, 2011 national winners Jason and Lisa Suisted say the experience delivered a new perspective to their farm business. . .

It’s farming  Jim but not as we know it – Willie Leferink:

Last week, I presented at the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences summit of farming under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

While many of the presenters focused on what we can do right now, I instead focused on what would happen if farming was included in the ETS.

I was brutally frank with my assessment, but would you expect anything less from a Kiwi-Dutchman?

Right now, there is a lot of work underway to deal with the methane belched from the rumen of cattle.

I take my hat off to the scientists who are trying to find solutions over those who have taken 30-pieces of council silver to ‘police’ farmers. . .

Arable on the Rise:

Arable farming is on the rise again, on the back of good prices and consistently good profitability.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released an analysis of arable production and profitability as part of its annual Farm Monitoring Report series. The report is based on a model of a Canterbury cropping operation and an overview of typical financial performance, based on information gathered from a sample of growers and industry stakeholders. . .

Honey the hot new taste topic

Forget the vegemite/marmite debate – honey is emerging as the hot topic in taste differentiation.

Where once people believed honey was simply honey, a new national competition has highlighted the distinct taste and flavour differences in New Zealand monofloral honey – honey made predominantly from one single nectar source.

The inaugural Airborne Honey MonoFloral Honey Competition aims to raise awareness of New Zealand’s unique honey types, and show the outstanding flavour and taste that can be achieved with stringent quality control and traceability from hive to jar. . .

Nitrogen best option to boost feed for lambing

With bumper lamb numbers due this spring, having the best feed available will be a priority for farmers wanting to achieve optimum live-weight growth, especially with subdued market prices.

Sheep scanning results are showing improvement over last season with 2012 lamb numbers expected to be about 4% up on last year which means an extra 1 million mouths to feed this spring.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Research and Development Manager Warwick Catto says with lambing rates up, the quality and quantity of nutrition will play an important role in determining growth of stock, and nitrogen has a big role to play. . .

Rockburn Pinot Noir 2010 scoops Double Trophies at Bragato Wine Awards in New Zealand

Champion Pinot Noir Trophy & Reserve Champion Wine Trophy

Rockburn Wines’ Pinot Noir 2010 has continued its record of highest success, this time in the prestigious Bragato Wine competition in New Zealand.

Rockburn Pinot Noir 2010 took out the Mike Wolter Trophy for Champion Pinot Noir and also the Richard Smart Trophy for the Reserve Champion Wine. Over 530 wines were entered into the competition that celebrates growers first and foremost. . .

Job ready – or not


Which bit of job-ready do people opposing Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s determination that beneficiaries with work expectations will face sanctions if they refuse to apply for drug-tested jobs not understand?

Expecting employees to be drug-free is a reasonable expectation from employers.

Expecting beneficiaries who could work to be ready for work is also reasonable.

What’s wrong with a sanction for those who could work but do something which makes them ineligible for a job they are otherwise capable of doing?

Transparency International co-founder dies


Jeremy Pope, ONZM (1938-2012) who was the co-founder of Transparency International has died.

At Transparency International (TI), Pope co-created the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which identified best and worst practices related to corruption and ranked countries accordingly. He wrote the international organization’s “manual” on preventing corruption entitled Confronting Corruption: The Elements of a National Integrity System, which was translated into more than 20 different languages.

A barrister in New Zealand and England, Pope worked for 17 years as legal counsel and then director of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Legal Division. He was secretary to the Commonwealth Observer Group that oversaw Zimbabwe’s independence elections in 1980 and was a member of the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons that visited South Africa in 1986 and triggered the release of Nelson Mandela.

Pope wrote guide books about New Zealand in the early 1970s and 1980s with his wife, Diana. During the 1970s he was active with the “Save Manapouri” environmental movement in New Zealand. He was for many years editor of the New Zealand Law Journal and the Commonwealth Law Bulletin.

When Pope moved to London in the 1970s, he kept close touch with New Zealand events, advising on international solutions including in relation to the South African Rugby Tour. In 1982 he became the founding trustee of Interights, which is an international human rights NGO.

In 2007, Jeremy was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for “services to international affairs.” He served as a Commissioner on the New Zealand Human Rights Commission (Te Kāhui Tika Tangata) from 31 January 2008 until his death. . .

Corruption is a plague and one of the weapons needed to fight it is transparency.

The world is a better place for the work of Mr Pope.

Joined not separated


Quote of the day:

. . . we are nations joined by a large ocean, rather than separated by it. Too often the obvious potential of the Pacific is overlooked. We need to focus more on the strengths and assets of our part of the world, rather than pondering on what we allegedly don’t have.  Prime Minsiter John Key in his address to the Pacific Island Forum opening ceremony.

It’s good advice for more than the forum.

Farmers face ‘perfect policy tsunami’


Farmers would face a perfect policy tsunami in the agricultural policies of a Labour-Greens government, Federated Farmers vice-president Dr William Rolleston said.

This tsunami included adding agricultural emissions to the ETS, resource rentals for water, land and water plans put out by regional councils around the country and a capital gains tax. 

 It was not unreasonable to think a Labour-Greens government would be formed in 2014, he told farmers and scientists at a forum at Lincoln on the emissions trading scheme organised by the New Zealand Institute on Agricultural and Horticultural Science. 

 “We cannot sustain a tsunami of policies that drowns agriculture in a sea of red ink,” he said.

He gave examples of costs a Labour-Greens government would impose on farming including $40,000 a year if agriculture was forced into the ETS.

MAF modelling showed that had agriculture been in the ETS sheep farmers would have made surpluses in only two of the last four years and those surpluses would have been $4000 and $468.

Water resource rentals would add to costs, turning small profits into big losses.

   All of New Zealand farms would be foreign-owned and all would be dairying because it would be the only way for land owners to achieve an economic return, he said. 

Dr Rolleston also spoke of the extreme nutrient limits being set in land and water plans which would drive production levels down to those of hobby farms.   

    It could also trigger a banking crisis as the reality of digesting these policies all at once could sink the economy. Farmers would walk off their land and the banks would face a $48 billion write down of the debt owed to them in the rural sector. 

    “Foreign buyers funded by foreign banks would be the winners,” Dr Rolleston said. 

    Opposition to genetic modification meant the agricultural sector was being denied the tools to address its environmental responsibilities in the short timeframe demanded by environmentalists. 

    “It’s vital that the Greens and Labour wake up to the risks this policy tsunami imposes to the entire economy.”

This is strong speaking from the vice-president of an organisation which is non-partisan but it is not an exaggeration.

The Timaru Herald reports on farmers’ fears of needing consent to farm under Environment Canterbury’s land and water plan.

Farmers in other regions have similar concerns and if they are worried now they will be even more so under a Labour-Greens government.

I listened to an Opposition MP speak at a seminar recently.

It was under Chatham House rules so I cannot give any details. But I will say it left all of us listening with exactly the same view Dr Rolleston has on the devastating impact a Labour-Greens government would have not just on farming but the wider economy and society too.

August 30 in history


1363 Beginning date of the Battle of Lake Poyang; the forces of two Chinese rebel leaders— Chen Youliang and Zhu Yuanzhang—were pitted against each other in what is one of the largest naval battles in history, during the last decade of the ailing, Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty.

1574  Guru Ram Das became the Fourth Sikh Guru/Master.

1590  Tokugawa Ieyasu entered Edo Castle.

1720 Samuel Whitbread, English brewer, was born (d. 1796).

1791 HMS Pandora sank after running aground on a reef the previous day.

1797 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, English writer, was born (d. 1851).

1799 Capture of the entire Dutch fleet by British forces under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby and Admiral Sir Charles Mitchell during the Second Coalition of the French Revolutionary Wars.

1800 Gabriel Prosser led a slave rebellion in Richmond, Virginia.

1813  Battle of Kulm: French forces defeated by Austrian-Prussian-Russian alliance.

1813  Creek War: Creek Red Sticks carried out the Fort Mims Massacre.

1835 Melbourne was founded.

1836 The city of Houston was founded by Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen.

1862  American Civil War: Battle of Richmond: Confederates under Edmund Kirby Smith routed a Union army under General Horatio Wright.

1862 – American Civil War: Union forces were defeated in Second Battle of Bull Run.

1871 Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand-born Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate, was born(d. 1937).

1873 – Austrian explorers Julius von Payer and Karl Weyprecht discover the archipelago of Franz Joseph Land in the Arctic Sea.

1903 Guide Joseph Warbrick and three tourists were killed instantly when Roturua’s Waimangu geyser erupted unexpectedly.

Four killed by Rotorua geyser

1908 Fred MacMurray, American actor, was born (d. 1991).

1909  Burgess Shale fossils discovered by Charles Doolittle Walcott.

1912 Nancy Wake AC GM, New Zealand-born World War II secret agent, was born (d. 2011).

1914  Battle of Tannenberg.

1918 Fanny Kaplan shot and seriously injured Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

1922 Battle of Dumlupinar, final battle in Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922).

1930 Warren Buffett, American entrepreneur, was born.

1935 John Phillips, American singer/songwriter (The Mamas & the Papas), was born (d. 2001).

1942  World War II: Battle of Alam Halfa began.

1943 Jean-Claude Killy, French skier, was born.

1945 Hong Kong was liberated from Japan by British Armed Forces.

1945 – Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Douglas MacArthur landed at Atsugi Air Force Base.

1946 Peggy Lipton, American actress, was born.

1951 Dana, Irish singer and politician, was born.

1956 Lake Pontchartrain Causeway opened.

1962  Japan conducted a test of the NAMC YS-11, its first aircraft since the war and its only successful commercial aircraft.

1963 Hotline between the leaders of the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union went into operation.

1967  Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as the first African American Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

1972  Cameron Diaz, American actress, was born.

1974  A BelgradeDortmund express train derailed at the main train station in Zagreb killing 153 passengers.

1974 – A powerful bomb exploded at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries headquarters in Marunouchi, Tokyo – 8 killed, 378 injured.

1984   The Space Shuttle Discovery took off on its maiden voyage.

1995 – NATO launches Operation Deliberate Force against Bosnian Serb forces.

1999 – East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in a referendum.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

Parliament showing respect – UPDATED


I have just started listening to the debate on the marriage equality Bill.

It is good to find that MPs are listening respectfully – as they should –  to speakers who have a range of views on the issue.

You can listen here.

UPDATE: The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill has passed its first reading 78 – 40. UPDATE: 80 – 40.

I was impressed by the reason and sincerity of speeches on both sides of the debate.

Update: Kiwiblog has who voted how.

Dr Paul Hutchison’s speech:

Best job ad ever?


Jamie Mackay asks: is the best job ad ever?

. . . you will need to be very fit . . . be a non smoker . . .  be able to wash, use deodorant, and keep your personal hygiene to an acceptable level. This may mean washing/showering in cold water . . .

Click on the link above to hear the rest which I suspect goes close to the line which employers aren’t permitted to cross in describing the employee they’re seeking.

Who am I?


It’s a big question – who am I?

National MP Alfred Ngaro gives a very moving answer to it at the Fathers’ Breakfast.

Balance sheets for dummies


Clayton Cosgrove reckons Mighty River Power’s annual result as evidence the state owned company was in no fit state for sale.

But Dene Mackenzie in the ODT (not online) points out Cosgrove’s made a major error:

The inability of Labour SOE spokesman Clayton Cosgrove to read a balance sheet is a breathtakingly sad indictment of the arguments surrounding whether or not the Government should partly sell down its electricity companies.

Mr Cosgrove, who in a previous life worked for a Perth-based mining company, issued a statement yesterday saying Mighty River Power’s $60 million profits plunge was yet another reason for the Government to stop its uneconomic asset sales programme.

“Mighty River profits have almost halved. That will have a real impact on their share price if the Government rushes ahead with the sale. Listing a struggling company in a market like this is economics for dummies,” the MP said. . .

However he wasn’t reading the announcement properly.

. . . In fact, Might river Power’s operating earnings – what it makes before any interest payments, tax, depreciation, amortisation financial adjustments (the true reflection of a company’s profitability)  – came in at $461.5 million, up 4% on the previous corresponding year.

The company had fair value adjustments of $92.8 million which did take the reported profit down to $68 million, mainly reflecting a significant fall in interest rates in the first half of the financial year.

That resulted in the recognition of an adverse change in the non-cash fair value of financial instruments . .

The company paid  a $120 million dividend  and Cosgrove is correct that the Government would get a lower dividend if it partially floats the company.

He described raising the dividend while profits, in his view fell, as a cynical move to make the company more appealing. Mr Cosgrove warned investors would see through the move.

But investors who stump up with the money to pay down some of New Zealand’s debt and help invest in the future education, health and welfare needs of the nation deserve a return. That is how a capital market works. . .

Cosgrove thinks he’s found economics for dummies but in fact he’s shown he’s in need of a course in balance sheets for dummies.

Marriage will survive


Marriage is described as an honourable estate in the traditional church service.

One of its aims was to protect women and children.

It’s a noble goal but the laws governing marriage began in the days when women had few rights and were regarded as little more than the property of their fathers, husbands or other male relatives.

Sometimes the protection marriage was supposed to afford became a prison, depriving women of autonomy and/or trapping them in abusive relationships. It even allowed men to rape their wives until relatively recently.

Marriage survived in spite of that.

It has survived changes in society and the law which recognise women as people in their own rights, able to operate their own bank accounts, work outside the home, own property and say no to their husbands.

It has survived changing moral standards which include the normalising of living together and having children without formalisation by the state or blessing of the church.

It has survived no-fault divorce and everything that leads to it including, but not limited to abuse, boredom, incompatibility, infidelity, lack of commitment, problems with money or sex people who, in spite of their vows enter it lightly and selfishly and some who, at least in hindsight, should never have married in the first place.

The Bill seeking marriage equality is likely to pass its first reading today. That is only the first hurdle but opponents are describing it as an assault on the institution.

That is very much a matter of opinion but even if it is, marriage will survive.

It has survived all sorts of exterior assaults and changes because while marriage is an institution, it is also a contract between two people.

It is the heartfelt and mutual commitment to each other and their relationship that really matters.

As long as that endures marriage will too.

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