Word of the day


Snollygoster – unprincipled but shrewd person, especially a politician; one who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles; a clever, unscrupulous person; carpetbagger; somebody who will go to any lengths to achieve public office, regardless of party affiliation or platform.

Not Judge Judy


Tweet of the day:


Grammar test, Food Switch & buy-nothing Christmas


Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

You can’t write proper English under pressure – which tests your grammar, spelling and reactions.

Food Switch – an app for your mobile phone which scans bar codes of food products, gives you their nutritional value and suggests healthier alternatives for those higher in fat and sugar.

Buy Nothing Christmas – suggestions for gifts using your hands, heart and imagination rather than money.

Rural round-up


Environmental analysis role exciting  – Sally Rae:

Mark Crawford is excited about his new role as a Ravensdown environmental consultant.

The fertiliser company has launched an environmental analysis and planning service, in the wake of increasing demands on farmers to meet environmental standards and regional regulatory requirements.

The adoption of stricter nutrient management regulations was being led by the Horizons Regional Council in the lower North Island, with Otago and Canterbury also nearing completion of recent plan changes. . .

Top of the south for Farmax consultancy – Sally Rae:

Simon Glennie reckons he does his farming vicariously through his clients.

Mr Glennie, a consultant at Dunedin-based AbacusBio, has been named South Island Farmax consultant of the year.

The inaugural awards honoured the top North and South Island consultants who used the farm support software. . .

Dairying women learn to ‘dig deep’ through good and bad at annual conference:

Hundreds of women who work in the dairy industry will be tackling some of the big issues that affect today’s farmers including how to reach and sustain a level of performance that matches medal winning athletics and world champion sports teams when they get together at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in March 2014.

The line-up of high calibre keynote speakers includes Hamilton sports psychologist David Galbraith who has worked with the Chiefs rugby team, Magic netball team and Olympic silver medal winner Sarah Walker.

The two-day conference at Hamilton’s Claudelands Event Centre, starting on 19 March 2014, is themed ‘Keeping your finger on the pulse’. . .

Otago link highlighted in Fonterra book – Sally Rae:

Think Park Beede and basketball immediately springs to mind.

Dr Beede was heavily involved with the sport in Otago and coached the Otago Nuggets.

What is not so well known is that he was tasked with coming up with a name for the new dairy company that was to become Fonterra.

The story of the creation of the name – and the Otago connection – is highlighted in the new book Till the Cows Came Home by Wellington journalist and former Southland Times editor Clive Lind. . .

Farmers urged to plan ahead to prevent game bird crop damage

With the start of summer, farmers are starting to see large groups of paradise shelducks moving into their newly-planted crops or onto their irrigation lakes.

Fish & Game Northland says if farmers plan ahead, they can reduce the damage done by these flocks of ‘parries.’

“We encourage farmers to place bird-scaring equipment out before their grasses or crops emerge,” Fish & Game officer Nathan Burkepile says.

“And farmers with paradise shelduck problems on irrigation lakes should start scaring the birds off these lakes before the birds start moulting in January.” . . .

At least one dairy farmer won’t mind the summer heat – Milk Maid Marian:

Wayne has a reputation for getting stuck and he’s outdone himself this year by bogging a quad bike on the first day of summer. Worse, he left his helmet at the scene of the crime and by the time the kids and I came to the rescue, his gear had been given a beating by the local hoons.

Cows may be vegetarians but don’t for a minute think that this in itself bestows innocence. They are merciless with unattended vehicles. This time the helmet, fuel breather line and rubber boot for the brake assembly were squelched deep into the quagmire but I’ve seen much worse. . . .

Shane Ardern to retire


Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern has announced he won’t seek re-election next year.

“I have decided to stand down at the next election. I know that I leave with the country in safe hands, under the excellent leadership of John Key as Prime Minister,” Mr Ardern said.

“It is a privilege to serve the electorate of Taranaki-King Country, which is a large rural electorate stretching from Stratford to Hamilton International Airport.

I entered politics because, as a farmer, I am passionate about representing and standing up for rural New Zealanders, and ensuring they have a voice in Wellington. “But at next year’s election it will be sixteen years since I was first elected. Now it is time to spend more time with my family and return to farming full-time. Family and farming is where my heart lies.”

Mr Ardern was first elected in a by-election in 1998. Despite boundary changes he has increased his majority, receiving nearly 70 per cent of the vote in 2011.

“As Chair of the Primary Production Select Committee, Chair of National’s agriculture caucus, and through my work on a number of other select committees, I have worked on policies that have helped drive New Zealand’s economic recovery. These have assisted our farming communities and the towns and businesses that rely so heavily on the success of our primary industries.

“It has given me great satisfaction to see policies I have worked on – particularly in the dairy industry, biosecurity, forestry, and rural New Zealand – passed into law. “Between now and the election, I will continue to work hard for the people of Taranaki-King Country and continue my focus on agriculture and our rural communities.

“I am immensely proud to represent the people in Taranaki-King Country. Thank you for your support. As an electorate MP, it is your vote and your belief in me that is the opinion I value the most. This is the best electorate in New Zealand.”

Shane is probably best known as the MP who drove a tractor up the steps of parliament during protests against the fart tax.

As an electorate MP he will have helped countless people in many ways which never make the headlines but make a difference to them.

Taranaki- King Country is the biggest North Island general electorate and solidly blue.

If you keep on doing what you’ve always done . . .


Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced a review of the Ministry of Education’s Professional Learning and Development (PLD) expenditure in schools.

“The Government invests more than $70 million each year in PLD to improve the skills of our teachers and education leaders. However, the long-term level of underachievement in our education system will not be shifted by doing what we have always done,” Ms Parata says.

If you keep on doing what you’ve always done you keep on getting what you’ve always got and in New Zealand that is too many children who fail at school.

That isn’t always the fault of teachers – a large part of the problem is what happens at home. But that isn’t an excuse for not ensuring teachers are better equipped to help all their pupils.

“The quality of teaching and education leadership has a direct impact on the educational success of our young people. If we can improve the professional learning and development provided to our teachers, then we will see a system-wide lift in student achievement.

“We are determined to raise achievement for 5 out of 5 young New Zealanders and to do that we must ensure that the PLD resource is targeted to back our teachers.

“This review provides the opportunity to ensure that our teachers are getting the right level of support for their development needs and are being challenged to raise the achievement of all students. . . 

This is a very sensible approach to ensure that teachers are as well equipped as possible to help all their pupils.

Cathedral isn’t public property


The group trying to stop the demolition of Christchurch cathedral has lot its bid to appeal to the Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court (Justices John McGrath, Susan Glazebrook and Terence Arnold) considered four Court of Appeal findings in dispute.

First, the Court of Appeal found public funds donated to the cathedral were irrelevant in determining the church’s powers.

Second, the church is free to demolish the existing structure.

Third, the church has no obligation at all to maintain or repair the existing structure.

Fourth, the church is required to have “a” cathedral, not maintain or repair the existing one.

The Supreme Court found the issues raised were that of interpretation of the law, not legal errors in the Court of Appeal findings.

“We are accordingly satisfied that no legal question of general or public importance arises from the application for leave to appeal,” the judgement says. . .

Christchurch lost a lot of beautiful buildings in the earthquakes and there is a sentimental link to the cathedral for many people, whether or not they are members of the congregation.

But while the cathedral is regarded as a public building it’s not public property.

It’s the church’s property and it’s up to them to decide on whether they should try to reconstruct what’s left of the existing cathedral or build a new one.

They’ve opted for a new one and should be left to spend their money on that rather than fighting for their property rights in court.

Anyone else having problems?


The normally 100% reliable WordPress platform won’t let me use tags or links nor can I schedule posts.

I’ve tried on both a notebook and iPad, using Firefox and Outlook which suggests it’s the platform not anything I’m doing.

Is anyone else experiencing this problem or does anyone else know how to solve it?

UPDATE: whatever was wrong has been righted.

Green pot calling blue kettle black


The Green Party is complaining about transport costs:

New data shows that families’ spending on transport is skyrocketing, driven by the cost of petrol and cars, and National’s transport priorities is making it worse, Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said today.

This is very much a case of the Green pot calling the blue kettle black.

Her party would make fuel even more expensive through higher ETS charges.

The Green Party also wants to lower the value of the dollar which would increase the cost of imports, among which are fuel and vehicles.

And the party is campaigning strongly against mineral exploration which has the potential to not only earn export income but also reduce our reliance on imported fuel.

Conservatives filling vacuum


Conservative Party candidate Leighton Baker doubled the percentage vote he got in 2011 in Saturday’s Christchurch East by-election.

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum.

The Conservative Party is filling the gap left by the decline of New Zealand First and United Parties which didn’t stand candidates.

Its challenge will be to build its vote to pass the 5% threshold so it can enter parliament without the need for a deal which would be needed for it to win an electorate.


Has accident already happened?


Trans Tasman’s annual roll call says this about David Cunliffe:

Due to changes in Labour’s rules managed to pull off the unthinkable and become leader despite many in the caucus not wanting him. He is clever, articulate and a good communicator. Has the potential to be the next PM, but he will only get the one shot. Caucus has no choice but to get behind him. The great fear is he could still  be an accident waiting to happen.

An accident has already happened.

Labour leader David Cunliffe might have fallen foul of the law with a message posted on his Twitter profile on the day of the Christchurch East by-election.

The Electoral Commission is looking into the tweet by Cunliffe on Saturday urging Christchurch East residents to get out and vote for the successful Labour candidate Poto Williams.

“If you are resident in Christchurch East don’t forget to vote today – for Labour and Poto Williams!” he wrote.

Under Electoral Commission rules, no campaigning of any kind is allowed on election day.

The message has since been deleted. Cunliffe yesterday took responsibility for the tweet, saying it was sent in error but was reluctant to explain how. It was “deleted within seconds”.

He said he was not aware of the rules at the time it was sent. He would co-operate with the Electoral Commission if it investigated. . .

It defies belief that a seasoned MP could not be aware of the rules, which aren’t just rules, they are electoral law.

In the National Party the law about what you can and can’t do on election day are drummed into everyone from the newest volunteer to the longest-serving MP. I have no doubt Labour takes the law equally seriously.

He might have forgotten, he might not have thought but ignorance is no defence.

Keeping Stock noticed the tweet and responded:


Whether or not that prompted the deletion of the tweet, it disappeared very quickly.

The Electoral Commission is unlikely to do anything about this given the fleeting appearance of the tweet.

But it does show a lamentable lack of attention to detail on Cunliffe’s part.

That is not not an asset in an aspiring Prime Minister and confirms Trans Tasman’s view of him as an accident waiting to happen.




Terms of trade best since 1973


New Zealand’s terms of trade are at the highest level since 1973:

New Zealand’s merchandise terms of trade rose 7.5 percent in the September 2013 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. The latest increase was due to export prices for goods rising more than import prices.

“Dairy export prices helped lift the terms of trade to their highest level since 1973,” prices manager Chris Pike said. “Both the terms of trade and export prices have been on the rise since the start of this year, reflecting higher dairy prices.”

Terms of trade is a measure of the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad. An increase means New Zealand can buy more imports for the same amount of exports.

In the latest quarter, the price of exported goods rose 8.9 percent, while seasonally adjusted export volumes fell 2.1 percent. Both price and volume movements were strongly influenced by dairy products.

In the September 2013 quarter, dairy export prices rose 24 percent to their highest level since 2008, and are now 46 percent higher than a year ago.

Seasonally adjusted dairy export volumes fell 2.7 percent, which is the fourth consecutive quarterly fall. Seasonally adjusted dairy product values rose 20 percent, following a 4.7 percent fall in the June 2013 quarter.

Prices for imported goods rose 1.2 percent in the September 2013 quarter, after four consecutive falls. Petroleum and petroleum products (up 3.1 percent) contributed the most to the overall increase in import prices due to higher prices for crude oil. . .

The impact of imported fuel reinforces the importance of mineral exploration to reduce our reliance on imported supplies.

National policies have been focussed on increasing export-led growth.

The best terms of trade in 30 years is evidence that they are working.

This also reinforces the importance of free trade.

A day after major tariff cuts came into effect between New Zealand and Chinese Taipei, Statistics New Zealand has confirmed New Zealand’s terms of trade are at their highest levels since 1973, the year Britain joined the European Union.

“The latest terms of trade, which sees export prices for goods rising more than import prices, may finally consign to history the ghost of Britain’s entry into the EU,” says Federated Farmers Vice-President, Dr William Rolleston.

“This is timely, coming only 24-hours after tariffs were eliminated on our exports to Chinese Taipei of milk powder, cheese, butter, apple, cherries and wine.

“This will result in tariff savings of nearly $40 million on current trade figures.  It is great news for our exporters and is set to get greater because tariffs on beef will be eliminated in two years time.

“In three years time kiwifruit tariffs will be eliminated and in four years time, tariffs will be consigned to history on our exports of sheep meat, honey and most fish products.

“Once the agreement is fully implemented, in year eight, tariff savings are estimated to reach $75 million.  Given the experience of other agreements, we can safety assume savings are likely to be much higher as our trade expands.

“The good news is that tariffs on 98.5 percent of our trade with Chinese Taipei will be eliminated by year four.

“This underlines why trade is vital to every New Zealander.  Regardless of whether you are in a job or looking for one, everyone is part of the export economy and the trade statistics for the September quarter bear this out.

“The price of exported goods rose faster than imports in the September quarter, meaning our terms or trade are at their highest since 1973.

“While dairy export prices have led the charge, being 46 percent higher than a year ago, it does seem broadly spread among the primary industries.

“The shame perhaps is that dairy volumes recorded a fall for the fourth consecutive quarter.  This highlights the lingering after-effect of this year’s drought showing how the lack of water storage becomes an economic opportunity cost.

“There’s a feeling we may be turning over a new economic leaf led by trade agreements just like the one that has commenced with Chinese Taipei,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

The new economic leaf might be led by trade but it is also helped substantially by policies which focus on reducing the burden of government and changing from consumption fuelled by borrowing to export-led growth.

The last Labour government squandered the good times but National has managed to turn the economy round in spite of adverse conditions beyond its control.

December 3 in history


915 – Pope John X crowned Berengar I of Italy as Holy Roman Emperor.

1799 – War of the Second Coalition: Battle of Wiesloch, Austrian Lieutenant Field Marshal Sztáray de Nagy-Mihaly defeated the French at Wiesloch.

1800 – War of the Second Coalition: Battle of Hohenlinden, French General Moreau defeated the Austrian Archduke John decisively, coupled with First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory at Marengo effectively forcing the Austrians to sign an armistice and ending the war.

1838  Octavia Hill, British housing and open-space activist, was born (d. 1912).

1842 Charles Alfred Pillsbury, American industrialist, was born  (d. 1899).

1854 – Eureka Stockade: More than 20 gold miners at Ballarat were killed by state troopers in an uprising over mining licences.

1857 Joseph Conrad, Polish-born British writer, was born (d. 1924).

1863 The Land Confiscation law was passed allowing the confiscation (raupatu) of Maori land as punishment of those North Island tribes who were deemed to have been in rebellion against the British Crown in the early 1860s.

Land confiscation law passed

1904 – The Jovian moon Himalia was discovered by Charles Dillon Perrine at California’s Lick Observatory.

1910 – Modern neon lighting was first demonstrated by Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show.

1912 – Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia (the Balkan League) signed an armistice with Turkey, ending the two-month long First Balkan War.

1912 – First Balkan War: The Naval Battle of Elli.

1917 –  Quebec Bridge opened to traffic.

1927 Andy Williams, American singer, was born (d. 2012).

1944 – Greek Civil War: Fighting in Athens between the ELAS and government forces supported by the British Army.

1948 Ozzy Osbourne, English singer, was born.

1949 Mickey Thomas, American singer (Jefferson Starship),was born.

1951  Nicky Stevens, British singer (Brotherhood of Man), was born.

1959 – The current flag of Singapore was adopted.

1960 Bluff Island Harbour opened.

Bluff Island Harbour opened

1964 – Berkeley Free Speech Movement: Police arrested over 800 students at the University of California, Berkeley, following their takeover and sit-in at the administration building in protest at the UC Regents’ decision to forbid protests on UC property.

1967 – At Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town a transplant team headed by Christiaan Barnard carried out the first heart transplant on a human (53-year-old Louis Washkansky).

1970 – October Crisis: In Montreal, Quebec, kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross was released by the Front de libération du Québec terrorist group after being held hostage for 60 days.

1971 – Indo-Pakistani War of 1971: Pakistan launched pre-emptive strike against India and a full scale war began.

1973 –  Pioneer 10 sent back the first close-up images of Jupiter.

1976 –  Byron Kelleher, New Zealand rugby union footballer, was born.

1976 Mark Boucher, South African cricketer, was born.

1976 – An assassination attempt was made on Bob Marley.

1979 – In Cincinnati, Ohio, eleven fans were suffocated in a crush for seats on the concourse outside Riverfront Coliseum before a Who concert .

1982 – A soil sample was taken from Times Beach, Missouri that would be found to contain 300 times the safe level of dioxin.

1984 – Bhopal Disaster: A methyl isocyanate leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal  killed more than 3,800 people outright and injures 150,000–600,000 others (some 6,000 of whom would later die from their injuries) in one of the worst industrial disasters in history.

1990 – At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Northwest Airlines Flight 1482 collided with Northwest Airlines Flight 299 on the runway, killing 7 passengers and 1 crew member aboard flight 1482.

1992 – UN Security Council Resolution 794 was unanimously passed, approving a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers led by the United States to form UNITAF, with the task of establishing peace and ensuring that humanitarian aid is distributed in Somalia.

1992 – The Greek oil tanker Aegean Sea, carrying 80,000 tonnes of crude oil, runs aground in a storm while approaching La Coruña, Spain, and spilt much of its cargo.

1997 – Representatives from 121 countries signed The Ottawa treaty prohibiting manufacture and deployment of anti-personnel landmines.

1999 – NASA lost radio contact with the Mars Polar Lander moments before the spacecraft enteredthe Martian atmosphere.

1999 – Six firefighters were killed in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire.

2005 – XCOR Aerospace made first manned rocket aircraft delivery of US Mail in Mojave, California.

2007 – Winter storms caused the Chehalis River to flood many cities in Lewis County, Washington, also closing a 20-mile portion of Interstate 5 for several days and casuing at least eight deaths and billions of dollars in damages.

2009 – A suicide bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia, claimed the lives of 25 people, including three ministers of the Transitional Federal Government.

2012 – At least 475 peoplewere killed after Typhoon Bopha, made landfall in the Philippines.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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