Pixie Williams 1928 – 2013


Pixie Williams, also known as Pixie Costello, and best known as the singer of Blue Smoke, has died.

The song, written by Ruru Karaitiana and sung by Ms Costello, marked the beginning of the New Zealand recording industry, being the first record to be wholly produced in the country.

Chris Bourke, author of Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music, says the song is important.

“There’s always been music in New Zealand. What the significance of Blue Smoke is it’s the start of an industry where there’s a local record label putting out local records by local artists and written by locals as well. Blue Smoke really got things rolling.” . . .


Promotion for Dean and Wagner


Prime Minister John Key has appointed two parliamentary private secretaries.

Nicky Wagner will be Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gerry Brownlee in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery portfolio and also Parliamentary Private Secretary to Nick Smith in Conservation.

Jacqui Dean will assist Chris Tremain in Local Government and Prime Minister John Key in Tourism.

Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS) are MPs appointed to assist Ministers but, unlike Under-Secretaries, they are not part of the Executive. They receive no extra remuneration.

“This is an important position that ensures a strong link between the Minister and the caucus and gives back-bench MPs valuable experience,” says Mr Key.

“Nicky Wagner, as the MP for Christchurch Central, is already heavily involved in the recovery of Christchurch and is an ideal choice to assist Mr Brownlee. Her experience as a former Environment Canterbury Regional Councillor will be valuable to Dr Smith in Conservation.”

A Minister cannot delegate any statutory roles or function to a PPS, however it is expected that the PPS represent their Minister at public events and deliver speeches on occasions when the Minister is not available.

“Jacqui Dean has extensive Local Government experience from her time as a Waitaki District Councillor and as Deputy Mayor and I expect her to ably assist Mr Tremain. It is also fitting that an MP based in the South Island where so much of our tourism is based, will be part of the Tourism team. . .

Congratulations to both women.

They are very effective MPs in their electorates and will ably assist the ministers.

Information on a PPS is here.

Word of the day


Poliorcetics – the art of siege warfare; art of conducting and resisting sieges.

Stand up on own feet


The Otago Daily Times devoted the front page of Saturday’s paper to a campaign Stand Up Otago with its editorial saying its time for the South to fight:

Today, the ODT is calling on the people of the South to try to save jobs and services that are shifting out of regional New Zealand – and in many cases being transferred to two main centres.

We believe it is time residents of the South stood up and made a statement to the Government and others that stripping jobs out of the regional economies of New Zealand is not in the country’s best interests.

The paper has been covering growing concern over job losses in Dunedin and its hinterland and the last straw has been the announcement AgResearch is to cut 85 jobs from Invermay.

The concern is understandable but the ODT is aiming at the wrong target.

The Invermay decision was AgResearch’s, not the government’s and looking to the government for jobs in the city is short-term thinking.

The government does fund plenty of jobs in Dunedin through the university and hospital but iIf governments give they can also take away.

The city and province should be looking to the private sector not the government for long-term sustainable businesses and jobs.

There is a very good example of this in the same edition of the ODT in an interview with Tony Allison, CEO of Night ‘n’ Day Foodstore Ltd.

The company was ranked fourth in the country in the Deloitte Fast 50 companies last year, with 952% growth. It was also Otago’s fastest-growing retail or consumer products business. Its CEO was winner of this year’s Otago Southland branch of the Institute of Directors’ aspiring director award.

The interview concludes:

. . .Mr Allison could not understand why more companies were not based in Dunedin, saying there were ”really smart people” in the city, along with the resources and infrastructure.

The city, and province, have lots going for them including good people, good infrastructure, good services and relatively inexpensive real estate.

There are plenty of examples of people running successful international businesses in Otago, including Ian Taylor who is calling for the formation of a  political party to be the voice of the south.

Mr Taylor told the ODT public dissatisfaction meant any new party could snap up seats in Dunedin, Southland and Waitaki and ”bowl in” to Parliament.

Once there, it could be a voice for regional development in the corridors of power.

”Now is the time to take our future in our own hands and do something about it … [to] come together and force the politicians to take notice. No-one else will.

”It is up to us to stand up and be counted and the best way to do that is from the inside,” he said.

He is a very good businessman but doesn’t know much about politics.

A south of the south party would have even less chance of success than a South Island one. This has been attempted but never made traction for very good reasons among which is that there aren’t enough people to make a big enough difference.

Sustainable development and growth in the south won’t come from the government directing agencies to locate down here.

It will come from policies which enable businesses to prosper and grow.

The south should be advocating for these policies at local, regional and national levels.

The south won’t be strong if it’s beholden to government. It’s strength will come from standing on its own feet.

The paper has a role to play here by highlighting, as it often does, the good news stories about successful businesses and business people.

They’re the ones who depend not on governments but their own ability and hard work.

The south does need to stand up – but on its own feet, not leaning on the government.

Fathers are parents too


All the media releases and interviews on the possible contamination of infant formula I’ve seen or heard have talked about mothers’ concerns.

What about the fathers?

One of the advantages of bottle feeding rather than breast feeding is that fathers can have a more hands-on role in parenting.

Even if they weren’t buying formula and/or feeding their children every good father would be just as concerned as the mothers over the health of their babies.

There would be an uproar if media releases assumed all politicians, professionals or other occupations were men.

It is just as wrong to ignore them and make the assumption that they don’t now have a place in what were traditionally women’s roles.

Family matters don’t matter to women only.

Fathers are parents too.

How important is food safety?


Food safety is first and foremost a matter of health.

That is the first priority for Fonterra and the government as Trade Minister Tim Groser made very clear on Q&A yesterday:

Today our sole concern is on the health of infants and other users of these products, both our own and in the countries’ that we’re exporting to. So it’s not that we don’t think there’s some very important questions, but we’re focusing on the essential problem of today.
“We don’t want Fonterra worrying about their long-term reputation or risks right now. We want everybody focused on the health of the little babies.”

Once the health concerns have been dealt with attention can turn to what happened, how it happened, why it happened, how to make sure it doesn’t happen again and what to do if – as there will be one day – there is another food-safety problem.

This must be done thoroughly and quickly to restore trust not only in Fonterra but in all our food because while health is the first and most important concern, food safety is also an economic matter for New Zealand.

Just how important it is can be seen in the impact on the New Zealand dollar:

The kiwi fell to a month low of 76.99 US cents, and recently traded at 77.15 US cents from 78.31 cents at the New York close and 78.87 cents at the 5pm market close in Wellington on Friday. The trade-weighted index dropped to 73.71 from 75.16.

Lots of people have been wanting a lower dollar.

No-one who understands the importance of food safety and food exports would have wanted it to happen this way.

Answering the Ws


One of the first lessons I learned at journalism school was the importance of making sure a news story answered all the Ws – who, what, where, why and how.

It’s a rule which applies to public relations too and one which Fonterra failed to follow in its releases over the contaminated whey.

There is a sad irony in this saga – the reason the contamination has been found is that Fonterra has such  a strict food safety regime. It’s probably the strictest in the world.

That means that sometimes it will find something other companies would not.

But knowing that, the company should be prepared to alert the public with absolutely all the information it needs.

One obvious question the company should have answered in its first release was: why there was such a long time between the contamination occurring, its detection and the public announcement?

As suppliers we are subject to strict rules about shed hygiene and every tanker of milk which leaves every farm is tested.

If the milk contains penicillin, colostrum or anything else it shouldn’t, it’s graded and there are financial penalties for those grades.

Fonterra has similarly strict regimes for each step of its processing and distribution.

The media release should have explained all that including how and when the contamination was found and what consumers who had any concerns should do.

Knowledge is power, consumers here didn’t have enough knowledge and were consequently powerless until the Ministry of Primary Industries issued a warning about a specific brand of infant formula several hours after Fonterra’s first release.

The Chinese have stopped the importation of all New Zealand milk powders from Australia and here, a move Trade Minister Tim Groser describes as absolutely appropriate:

“It’s better to do blanket protection for your people and then wind it back when we, our authorities, are in a position to give them the confidence and advice that they need before doing that,” he said. . .

If the Chinese have a word for schadenfreude, they could be excused for feeling it.

Our reputation for food safety has always been high and China’s has not.

That reputation is under threat and the way Fonterra has handled the issue hasn’t helped.

This isn’t just about whey and the products it’s been used in. It isn’t just about Fonterra.

This issue is about trust in our food and food safety and our biggest company has put that at risk.

August 5 in history


25 – Guangwu claimed the throne as emperor after a period of political turmoil, restoring the Han Dynasty after the collapse of the short-lived Xin Dynasty.

642  Battle of Maserfield – Penda of Mercia defeated and killed Oswald of Bernicia.

910  The last major Viking army to raid England was defeated at the Battle of Tettenhall by the allied forces of Mercia and Wessex, led by King Edward and Earl Aethelred.

1100 Henry I was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

1305 William Wallace, was captured by the English and transported to London where he was put on trial and executed.

1388 Battle of Otterburn, a border skirmish between the Scottish and the English in Northern England.

1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert established the first English colony in North America, at what is now St John’s, Newfoundland.

1620 The Mayflower departed from Southampton on its first attempt to reach North America.

1689 – 1,500 Iroquois attacked the village of Lachine, in New France.

1716 The Battle of Petrovaradin.

1735  New York Weekly Journal writer John Peter Zenger was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, on the basis that what he had published was true.

1763 Pontiac’s War: Battle of Bushy Run – British forces led by Henry Bouquet defeated Chief Pontiac’s Indians at Bushy Run.

1772 The First Partition of Poland began.

1858 Cyrus West Field and others completed the first transatlantic telegraph cable after several unsuccessful attempts.

1860 Carl IV of Sweden-Norway was crowned king of Norway, in Trondheim.

1861   The United States government levied the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US $800; rescinded in 1872) to help pay for the Civil War.

1861  The United States Army abolished flogging.

1862 Joseph Merrick, the “Elephant Man” , was born (d. 1890).

1862 American Civil War: Battle of Baton Rouge.

1864  American Civil War: the Battle of Mobile Bay began – Admiral David Farragut led a Union flotilla through Confederate defenses and sealed one of the last major Southern ports.

1870 Franco-Prussian War: the Battle of Spicheren resulted in a Prussian victory.

1884 The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty was laid.

1888  Bertha Benz drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back in the first long distance automobile trip.

1901  Peter O’Connor set the first IAAF recognised long jump world record of 24ft 11¾ins.

1908 Harold Holt, 17th Prime Minister of Australia, was born(d. 1967).

1914  World War I: The German minelayer Königin Luise laid a minefield about 40 miles off the Thames Estuary. She was intercepted and sunk by the British light-cruiser HMS Amphion.

1914 In Cleveland, Ohio, the first electric traffic light was installed.

1925 Plaid Cymru was formed with the aim of disseminating knowledge of the Welsh language.

1930 Neil Armstrong, American astronaut, was born.

1940 World War II: The Soviet Union formally annexed Latvia.

1944  World War II: possibly the biggest prison breakout in history as 545 Japanese POWs attempted to escape outside the town of Cowra, NSW.

1944  Holocaust: Polish insurgents liberated a German labour camp in Warsaw, freeing 348 Jewish prisoners.

1949  In Ecuador an earthquake destroyed 50 towns and killed more than 6000.

1957  American Bandstand debuted on the ABC television network.

1960  Burkina Faso, then known as Upper Volta, became independent from France.

1962 Nelson Mandela was jailed.

1963  The United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union signed a nuclear test ban treaty.

1964  Vietnam War: Operation Pierce Arrow – American aircraft from carriers USS Ticonderoga and USS Constellation bombed North Vietnam in retaliation for strikes which attacked U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.

1979   In Afghanistan, Maoists undertake an attempted military uprising.

1988 The Cartwright report condemned the treatment of cervical cancer.

Cartwright Report condemns cervical cancer treatment

1995  The city of Knin, a significant Serb stronghold, was captured by Croatian forces during Operation Storm.

2003  A car bomb exploded in Jakarta outside the Marriott Hotel killing 12 and injuring 150.

2010 – Ten members of International Assistance Mission Nuristan Eye Camp team were killed by persons unknown in Kuran wa Munjan District of Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan.

2010 – Copiapó mining accident  trapped 33 Chilean miners approximately 2,300 ft below the ground.

2012 – The Oak Creek shooting took place at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six people; the perpetrator was shot dead by police.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

%d bloggers like this: