National selects Christopher Penk as Kelston candidate


The National Party has selected Christopher Penk as its candidate for the Kelston electorate at the 2014 General Election.

. . . Mr Penk said he was honoured to be selected and would be running a strong campaign to win more party votes for National in the seat.

“National’s plan for a stronger economy with more jobs, better public services in health and education, more support for families, and safer communities is delivering for Kelston communities. I’ll be working tirelessly to ensure we can keep New Zealand heading in the right direction.”

National re-opened selection for the Kelston electorate after the decision by List MP Claudette Hauiti to retire from politics at the election. . .

As the National Party List has already been selected, Mr Penk will enter National’s List at the position of 68. Placing him, as an electorate candidate, ahead of other candidates not standing in seats, but behind other electorate candidates.

Biographical Notes – Christopher Penk

A born-and-bred West Aucklander, Christopher Penk lives in Kelston with his wife Kim.

After completing his secondary education at Kelston Boys High School, Christopher studied at Auckland University, gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1999 and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree in 2009.

Christopher joined the Royal New Zealand Navy in 2000, which included serving as an officer of the watch on the HMNZS Te Kaha. He also worked for 12 months as aide-de-camp to the Governor-General in 2003, greatly enjoying this role as a member of Dame Silvia Cartwright’s personal staff at Government House. Later, Christopher went on to fulfill a dream of serving aboard submarines, spending time in the Australian Defence Force as navigating officer on HMAS Sheean.

Christopher returned to New Zealand in 2008 where he completed his legal training. This culminated in his admission to the bar in 2010, most recently working as Senior Solicitor at Hornabrook Macdonald Lawyers, a boutique commercial and property law firm.

Outside his military service and legal career, Christopher has been an active member of many community groups, including the Returned Services Association, Glen Eden’s Playhouse Theatre, and playing and coaching several cricket teams at the local Suburbs New Lynn Cricket Club.


Fantastic facts about the south #49


Fantastic fact # 49:

Word of the day



How superficial are you?


I suspect doing a test that seeks to find if you’re superficial could be a sign of superficiality but for the record my result was:

There’s beauty in everything

You don’t care if a person is as ugly as an ogre, as long as they have a beautiful personality. You know not to judge a book by its cover and exercise that cliché everyday. Good Job!

Rural round-up


Succession planning: the good, the bad and the ugly –  Olivia Garnett , Lucinda Jose , Lucie Bell , Owen Grieve , Belinda Varischetti , Joanna Prendergast and Bridget Fitzgerald:

“To me, farm succession is a dirty word,” an anonymous woman told ABC Rural.

She married into a farming family when she was very young. 

“Farm succession is something that makes me quiver when I think of it.

“To me, all it means is arguments, squabbles, bitterness, resentment.  Every time it comes up in conversation there’s always so much negativity about it.

“I don’t think my in-laws even know that there is such a thing as succession planning. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Seeks Beef Industry Ambassador:

Do you have what it takes to represent New Zealand beef on the world stage?

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is giving one young beef producer the chance to attend the Five Nations Beef Alliance conference and young leaders programme in the USA this October.

The scholarship is open to New Zealanders aged 22-32, who are working in and can demonstrate a passion for the beef industry and its future direction.

This is the fourth year Beef + Lamb New Zealand has offered the scholarship. It covers all conference-associated expenses, including airfares and accommodation. . .

 Time to Get Entries Sorted For 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Entries for the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened on August 1, 2014.

A major event on the farming calendar, the annual contest promotes sustainable land management and is facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust.

NZFE acting chairman Simon Saunders says the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards drew an excellent standard of entries and he is expecting strong interest in the 2015 competition.

He encourages farmers and horticulturists to put themselves forward for the awards or to nominate others that might benefit from being involved.

The competition is now operating in ten regions throughout the country and past-entrants have described their participation as a highly worthwhile experience. . . .

Australian company Taylors Wines takes on New Zealand

Taylors Wines is seeing early results from its investment in the New Zealand market, with a strong sales increase in the first quarter of its new distribution company.

Company Director, Asia Pacific Market Manager and third generation family member Justin Taylor says NZ has always been one of Taylor’s most important export markets and the company is delighted with its early sales success.  . .

Flavour fizzes in dairy war – Andrew Marshall:

ION’S big milk business is fast becoming a flavoured milk business as the dairy, drinks and beer giant makes determined moves to rebuild its bruised dairy sector reputation.

Yoghurt lines and specialty cheese brands such as King Island and Tasmanian Heritage are also enjoying specific attention from Lion’s dairy and drinks managing director Peter West, who has singled out 10 of the division’s 40 brands to lead the turnaround.

Export prospects are on the agenda, too, as the Japanese-owned milk business prepares to trial a partnership with Chinese distributors exporting ultra-high temperature (UHT) treated lines from November. . .

 Farmers Market NZ Award Winners:

Tasting Real New Zealand flavour at Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Markets New Zealand (FMNZ) celebrated the real heroes and champions of regional food production at the 2014 Farmers Markets Awards in Feilding. Chefs Julie Biuso and Hester Guy tasted and tested the very best of NZ Farmers Markets showcasing local innovation and regional tastes that we are developing right here in our own backyards. Judge Hester Guy says “We found less reliance on preservatives in the bottles and more emphasis in the integrity of ingredients. The raw product is the hero and the quality and flavours of these products is paramount”. Chairperson of FMNZ – Chris Fortune commented that “the attention to quality and freshness is what makes the difference and you can find that in bucket loads at Farmers’ Markets nationwide on a weekly basis” . . .

Shane Ardern’s valedictory


Taranaki King Country MP Shane Ardern delivered his valedictory statement on Wednesday:

SHANE ARDERN (National – Taranaki – King Country): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen—tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Prime Minister, after 16 years in Parliament there is quite a bit I could say, but I will not. Do not panic! I was elected to Parliament in 1998 as the result of a by-election following the former Prime Minister the Rt Hon John Key—another Freudian slip, Prime Minister. It was Jim Bolger, who had just been replaced by the very caucus that I was now a part of. What I found was that having been his electorate chair and expressing similar views to him was not career enhancing.

For the last time in this Parliament I wish to declare an interest in the dairy industry. I am the son a sharemilker. I worked my way through the industry and bought our first farm at the age of 23. To those who have experienced my determination and unflinching support for the farming community, my late parents, Olive and Noel Ardern, and their employer, the late Tom Hargraves, are responsible for who I am. I am a farmer, came in as a farmer, leave as a farmer, am—although it does not sit comfortably with many in this place—proud to be a farmer, and I am prouder still to have represented a rural farming electorate.

I know that being a working farmer has served me well as an MP, so it will come as no surprise that I am going to talk about agriculture. On my arrival one of the most important pieces of legislation was the deregulation of the dairy industry and the debate on what structure should replace the dairy board. This was a contentious issue not just for Parliament but among farmers and the wider financial community. The result was the formation of Fonterra*, , and, despite its many critics to this day, name me one other industry that has performed as well, for as long, and currently is the only opportunity for New Zealand exporters to be truly of an international scale. As the weeks of prolonged caucus debate went on, with economic commentators claiming that the sky would fall if Fonterra was allowed to be formed, I was concerned that the formation would not happen and we would be left with a fragmented industry.

You only have to look at other industries that have not taken this step to see how damaging to the sector and the New Zealand economy this would have been.

As I was driving to the airport at 5.40 a.m. on a cold Tuesday Taranaki morning preparing for another caucus debate on the issue, I came across this young mother driving an old * Ferguson tractor with a child in a backpack and another child sitting on her knee, with a transport tray loaded with bobby calves, making her way to the farm gate. I realised that it was her that I was fighting for, and it steeled my resolve against those bureaucrats, those economic commentators, economists, and politicians who thought otherwise, because her efforts could reach their maximum opportunity only with the formation of a focused marketing structure that was internationally competitive so that we could capture the highest world market prices.

I told her story to my caucus colleagues because she epitomised the 11,000 other dairy farmers. Despite adverse conditions and personal demands, what I saw was one gutsy young New Zealander out there making it happen. For her sake, I have no regrets at maintaining a non-negotiable position on the type of industry structure that will give the highest returns possible to the farm gate and to *“ “New Zealand Inc.” I know it has not always been career enhancing, but if I had my time again, I would not change my stance.


My biggest regret is not being able to see the same structural change in the meat and wool industry. The question is: was I wrong? If Fonterra had not been formed, could members of this House guarantee that our economy would be growing as well as it is today? The answer is no, they could not. So stop criticising the primary industries, and, instead of looking for alternatives that do not exist, celebrate that we are world leaders in agriculture.

Why is it that we unite and support our international sporting teams, but when it comes to primary industries, we think that any small provincial structure will succeed? Support the industries that support you. Some in this House today will remember when Myrtle* the “Fergie”* ” came to Parliament. Eric, you should have bought a “Fergie”, mate. I was happy to become known as the “Tractor Man” when I took the old “Fergie” up the steps of Parliament in protest at the proposed introduction of a methane tax, commonly known as the “Fart Tax”. Some considered that this was the wrong thing to do, but nobody and nothing was put at risk, and that was subsequently proven in court. All I am going to say is that the tax did not happen, it has not happened, and it should not happen.

If anyone thinks I was dangerous then, be warned; I will be a lot worse when I am not constrained by parliamentary considerations—and the old “Fergie” is still around.

The only time that I doubted I may have gone too far was when I was chairing a select committee and I was greeted once by a leading trade unionist as “Comrade”. The other good thing that came out of that, of course, was that it really brassed off Hone. He still has not got over it.

I want to say to this Parliament that Fonterra earns the money that gives us the ability to have a first-class* social system. It allows us the luxury of enormous investment in environmental sustainability and conservation. Internationally, our farmers are known as one of the lowest carbon producers with the highest food safety standards and the most sustainable farming practices.

If members are honestly concerned with the environment, then work with the farmers and approach this with an open mind. If you really care about the future of New Zealand, I beg you to spend time on farms speaking with farmers and observing what they do. Look at the money that Fonterra spends on research and investment in environmental issues, despite Fonterra remaining, by international standards, a small farmer cooperative. For example, in the last 5 years 23,000 kilometres of riparian margin planting and fencing of waterways have been completed. That is further than New Zealand to London. It is a long fence.

Members have an opportunity to play an important role in keeping New Zealand’s economy growing, with the triple bottom line* of social, environmental, and economic benefits. To tax, restrict, and punish farmers while turning your heads away from the pollution of the cities is hypocritical and does nothing for the future of New Zealand. Abraham Lincoln once said that you cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

Over the 16 years I have established my role as representing farmers, I have served as chair of the Primary Production Committee* and chair of Ag Caucus. I have represented Parliament overseas as the New Zealand delegate on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association* and I have served on many other select committees as chair and member. Some of you may not know this, and it will come as a shock, but I was proud when the Hon Bill English appointed me as spokesman for conservation. There are some environmentalists who have not yet recovered. Fish and Game* should be grateful to have Nick Smith as its Minister.

As biosecurity spokesman, I am delighted that many of the policies I put before caucus have now become legislation. I came into this Parliament during the first MMP* Government and I have a concern about the unintended consequences of our electoral system. My electorate has changed over the 16 years as MMP has forced rural areas to become larger and harder to service. Rural New Zealand has been the biggest victim of the MMP system, and all parties should look to redress the imbalance. It is not fair and it is not right that the areas that produce the money have very little representation in Parliament. When I was in high school, five MPs used to represent the area that is now the Taranaki – King Country*. .

We are in danger of becoming a Parliament of professional politicians, and if that happens, then we forget that we are the people’s representatives. In order to be a worthy representative, to truly be a good MP, I believe you need to remain connected or, if you like, have a vested interest. It is my view that Parliament and the media have become childish around vested interests in business. As a farmer I am worried about the lack of representation of farmers in politics.

This is a message for farmers. If you are not happy with the direction that a Government is taking, then you should stand and be a representative. If you do not, if you stand back, then you are as guilty as those who are doing what you do not like. Farmers in the past have had the reputation of serving their communities, and you will fail if you use the excuse that farming has become more complex and you are too busy. If you do not get involved at all levels, then the price that is paid will be yours. To my own electorate, I am proud that I have increased my vote each election, despite many boundary changes, because at the end of the day it is the opinion of those you represent that is most important.

I thank the people of the Taranaki – King Country area for their loyal support. All MPs know that we cannot do the job without the hard work and support of dedicated people willing to go the extra mile. My thanks go to everyone who helps make this building work: the Clerk’s Office*, , select committee staff, report writers whom I have worked with, the Parliamentary Counsel Office*, , Parliamentary Library*, , Hansard, security, messengers, Bellamy’s*, , and the cleaners. To Instyle Taxis, Jane and Paul, thanks—thanks to all of you for your support. There are too many individuals to thank by name, but, in particular, I would like to single out a few: Leveson Gower, our new electorate chair, and his wife, Vicky, and son, Angus, who are here today; past chair Harry Bayliss and his wife, Helen, who are here today; and special mention must go to the late Matthew Hammond and his wife, Angela. Matthew was my electorate chair for 10 years, and, I might point out, a sheep and beef farmer. He said to me one night after an extremely frustrating meat and wool meeting: “Shane, if those meat and wool farmers want to go broke, then I guess you are just gonna have to give them the right to do so.” Matthew was my chair until a few weeks before he succumbed to cancer. Thanks to my electorate secretary, Helen Hoskin, and treasurer, Janette Brocklehurst, who previously worked for Roger Maxwell and then for me, and has continued in a voluntary role throughout my whole political career. As treasurer, Janette’s strength has always been to answer any suggestions from branch members that involved spending money with a no. The Hon Bill English could take lessons from her.

To my executive assistant, Kathy Ker, who was recommended to me by senior whip* John Carter as someone who may be able to keep me out of trouble—I suspect that in all her years, this is the only area where she has failed. Jokes aside, she is the one who watched my back and whom I trusted to ensure the work was done. The value of having someone who is loyal and brutally honest to the point where she has told me right up to, and including, the writing of this speech when she thinks I am a plonker has made it possible for me to be an effective MP as well as continue farming.

I have seen senior bureaucrats, Ministers, and other officials who have not seen things from my point of view walk away checking themselves bodily after an encounter with my executive assistant. By the way, she has been referred to on many occasions as the “Tractor Woman”. Thank you, Kathy. To my electorate staff, the first two, the late Maureen Wilkie and Ella Borrows; to those in between; and to my current agents Sharon, Claire, and Tracey, who are here today, I know that it is not easy looking after a large electorate. Thank you for your work.

To my wife, Cathy, and to my family—sons Jonathon and Cameron—all MPs know that when you make the decision to become a politician, then it has a significant impact on your family, and personal sacrifices will be made. Our occupation is not for everyone, and I am proud of my family, who have embraced farming—for all the good, the bad, and the challenges that it delivers. My family’s love and commitment to the land is best reflected in the words of Princess Te Pūea Herangi* when she said: “The land is our mother and our father. It is the loving parent who nourishes us, sustains us, and when we die it folds us in its arms.”

We are a typical farming family who know that we must leave the land in better condition than when we found it. Thank you Cathy, Jonathon and Cameron for your support over the years. I am returning home, you will see a lot more of me, and I love you. To those MPs who ventured into * Taranaki – King Country, friend and foe, I notice that not many of them return. But my good friend and colleague Gerry Brownlee is the exception, and Gerry, we still have those gumboots ready for your next visit.

To the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key, thank you for being an exceptional leader. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a leader who plays golf with the President of the United States, who dines with the President of China, who stays with the Queen of England, and who knows all of the European leaders. As an export nation at the bottom of the South Pacific, that is a rare and wonderful thing. Our leader is exceptional.

To my parliamentary colleagues, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today, and may you all enjoy the electoral success that you deserve. Might I add that it is often said that you make no friends in politics and that you do not meet many nice people. It is just not true. Some of the security staff, messengers, and other people in this place are wonderful people. I wish to share with you the following verse, which I quoted in my maiden speech: “Seek that which is most precious. If you bow down, let it be to a lofty mountain. Let nothing but the insurmountable turn you from your goal.” It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve as a member of this House. Thank you members, thank you Mr Assistant Speaker. I am returning back home to the slopes of * Mount Taranaki, to the farm, to the land where I belong. Kia ora.

Shane might have been an MP but he never forgot he was a farmer –  note the tractor climbing up the steps beside him.

Shane Arden MP .horny-handed son of toil and highly successful  farmer from the Naki recalls his visit to the steps of Parliament with Myrtle his Ferguson tractor as he makes his Valedictory address

Saturday’s smiles


A blonde was playing golf  when she took a big swing and fell.

The party waiting behind her was a group from Wellington that included David Cunliffe.

He stepped forward and helped her to her  feet.

She thanked him and started to leave,  when he said,    “I’m David Cunliffe and I hope you’ll vote Labour in the next  election.

She laughed and quickly said:  “I fell on my backside, not my head.”

Fantastic Fact about the south #50


With 50 days to the election I'll be posting 50 fantastic facts about Dunedin and the Southern region. Fantastic fact #50:

Eric Roy’s valedictory


Invercargill MP and deputy speaker, Eric Roy delivered his valedictory statement on Wednesday:

ERIC ROY (Deputy Speaker – National): Can I begin with an immortal quote from * Ecclesiastes * 3 that says that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens; a time to be born, a time to die, and a time to uproot. And so it is that our family is in their season of uprooting and finding some new challenges.

I have often said that politics is a little bit like a crayfish pot. It takes a bit of energy to find the opening and to get in, but it is even harder to get out, and it is somewhat more difficult to get out undamaged. Whether I am undamaged or not is for others to choose, but certainly for myself I can report I have learnt a lot, I have grown a lot, and I have made some really great friends.

The year 2014 is a significant and pivotal year in our family, but in life’s calendar there have been other pivotal years. I guess this started in another very pivotal year, 1972. Four things happened that were kind of loosely connected: I got married, the * Norm Kirk Government swept to power, I bought a tractor—a David Brown 990, white model—and I joined the National Party. The connection was that the tractor salesman was incensed that Labour had the right, after 4 years of National Government, to assume the Treasury benches. He was able to persuade me, with my new responsibilities of a David Brown 990, white model, and a new wife, that I should join the National Party. Little did I know that that would set me on a course where I actually ended up here. I can now report that the David Brown is, to give it a technical term, * munted and the membership of the National Party has been an interesting ride, but the real winner of that year was certainly the marriage.

You just stand here in your valedictory and you have got an absolute montage of thoughts about what you could do. I thought I might give out a few awards. I will say that these are rhetorical and not material. My first award goes to Elizabeth, who has been my most valued and energetic supporter. Elizabeth has a saying that behind every great man there is a great behind. I am not one to disagree with Elizabeth. At this time I would also certainly like to thank my parliamentary team of Susie, Michelle, Patty, and Pauline. I need to also acknowledge my business managers Felicity, Steven, and Terry, who run our * Te Ānau operation and who have uncomplainingly kept things on an even keel. I could spend some 10 minutes naming, identifying, and extolling a number of people who have assisted me, suffice to say in the confines of time I just want to acknowledge people in a variety of communities, committees, and roles who have been generous in their support, help, and advice and who have been very beneficial to my time here.

It used to be that 21 years was the age of majority, and you got the key to the door. I joined the party in 1972. Twenty-one years later in 1993 I had the key to the door and I came to Parliament. Since then I have represented two electorates, had two terms on the list. I have been in Parliament, out of Parliament, back in Parliament. I have been in Government, out of Government, and back in Government. It is 21 years since 1993. I have got the key to the door; I am leaving. One should not try to interpret any reason for that; it is just a time to uproot and take some new challenges. It may have a lot to do that I want to leave this place before I am subsumed into the fourth stage of manhood. If you are not familiar with that, stage one you believe in * Santa Claus, stage two you do not believe in Santa Claus, stage three you are Santa Claus, and stage four you look like Santa Claus.

But it is great that with my maiden speech there were three generations of Roys in the gallery; today there are three generations of Roys again, but they are different generations. It is good to be able to do this amongst family and friends. Each one of us comes to Parliament representing a kind of matrix of various things that we have been involved with. Certainly for me, there was a variety of community groups and activities across a wide range of organisations, a background in agriculture and farming, a strong sense of Christian values that were steeped in Presbyterianism, and a love of the outdoors. Many people know I have got a bit of a passion for hunting. It was not very long until Bill English gave me the brand that this was the Christian who kills.

If I was to give an award for the most hectic time in Parliament, it would certainly be in my first term of 1993 to 1996. Inside a year, because of a transgression of John “Hone” Carter I was a junior whip. As we neared the first * MMP election, with the advent of opportunities that might persist in places other than the various parties that exist, we had the formation of a number of parties and erosion out of our backbench—the formation of United Future, the * Right of Centre Party, and also the * Conservatives. I ended up as a junior whip with a backbench of 13 people to run the select committees. It was at that time that as a systems person I created a number of mechanisms to actually know where people were and what they were doing. That certainly stood as a mechanism that whips used for some time—I am not sure if it is still used. I also had to have an overlay of Cabinet committees and the agendas of when various Ministers were involved in those committees so that I could pull people out and man select committees. Over that period of about 18 months when I had those numbers to work with we never lost a vote in a select committee. It is interesting that during that time we lost five votes in the House. I think in a way we think that the world will fall down when that happens. I would predict that under MMP that will happen again. We ought not to get too serious about that sort of thing happening.

Why I say it was so hectic is that while I was busy as whip I was also a select committee chair. I ran the Primary Production Committee largely just with myself on one side. The biggest thing we did in that time was a total rewrite of the * Fisheries Act. This was a paradigm shift away from the old to a new sustainable process, giving property rights, quota management, and a whole lot of issues that had never been done anywhere else in the world. Although I was not the architect of that bill, our committee was certainly tasked with making it work and making a number of substantial changes that we put into the bill. It was about 19 months’ work. And so it was that before we actually got there, I did something quite interesting. We were kind of bound up and could not find a way through the maze of submissions and advice and contradictions that were about. So as a committee we put out a position paper. I called in all the parties, who were highly polarised, and impressed upon them what * Chatham House Rules were. I then presented the position paper and threatened them with all kinds of things that probably did not exist in * Standing Orders if they broke ranks.

You have got to remember that in that environment there were sort of the eco-groups represented by * Greenpeace, commercial fishing on the other side, Māori customary, recreational. We put out what we thought were ways forward on deeming, setting of * total allowable commercial catch, and a whole lot of things that we just could not find our way through. Everybody held to the * Chatham House Rules, and on the basis of equal screaming we made some decisions that were put in the bill. The bill came back to the House about exactly the same time in the political cycle as we are now, as we were closing out for 1996. Then putting on my whip’s hat, I was able to persuade the House that a 550-page bill could be taken as one question in 15 minutes in the House in Committee and then dealt with forthwith in another 20 minutes in the third reading.

It is kind of interesting that 18 years on, those substantive things that were put in have not been changed, but of interest further is that last month a report on an audit of fishing systems in 53 different countries around the world was put out and New Zealand came out as best managed and most sustainable.

I cannot give myself an award, but I would certainly give myself a tick for what we did on fishing. That was quite an extraordinary period of time.

The following year the award for greatest adversary appeared. It occurred quite simply. One night I could not eat my tea and later that evening I was walking up Glenmore Street and I collapsed. Sometime later, and I am not sure when, a car picked me up and took me to my flat. That was Thursday night. It was Monday before I could get to the doctor. He pushed and prodded and then got me scanned forthwith, and they found that I had lumps inside me as big as footballs, as my entire lymph system had been taken over by an aggressive lymphoma. The oncologist informed me that I had a 20 percent chance of getting through it, which is a kind of code for “Are your insurance premiums up to date?”. They opened me up, then closed me up, and said that there was nothing they could do. So I went home and I was sitting there—this was Wednesday. So the award for the most surreal telephone conversation I have ever had in my life went something like this. Here I am, sitting at home internalising some reasonably significant issues. The phone goes—ring, ring. “Hello, this is Eric.” “This is Murray McCully.” I think, goodness me. The all-knowing black knight has heard about my predicament and he cares. “What’s on your mind, Murray?”. “Um, I have to give a speech in Invercargill on Friday. It’s July and I’ve got a very bad cold. I don’t think I should be going to Invercargill on Friday. Can you do it for me?”. “Murray—um, do you think I really should be doing this? I’m sorry to hear about your cold, but I’m dying of cancer.” There was a long pause, then “Ha, ha! I’ll send you the notes.”

Much is often said about the dog-eat-dog bear pit of this place. It is certainly my experience that there are genuine people in here, across the House, for whom I have a great deal of admiration. I will give you an example of that. When I was in this battle, the first two MPs through my door at my farm were Damien O’Connor and Jim Sutton. And afterwards there were numerous acts of kindness and areas of support that really were a big part of the fight that I was in—some of it more helpful than others. Some of it made me smile, like the wonderful words of support from H V Ross Robertson: “You’ll be right, mate. Big strong bloke like you, you’ll be right. But you are lucky. If it’s in your lymph, you’re buggered, you know.” So Ross gets the award for the best or worst backhanded compliment.

In order to truncate the whole story about the cancer, let me just say that it is a small part in a book that I have almost written, called Notes to the Grandchildren, which will be available at all good booksellers presently. There are two ongoing repercussions from this event of a brush with death, and they are not unique to me, but they have impacted me. One is that when you go through medical trauma, your senses kind of get mucked around emotionally. I do not understand it, but I knew it had happened to me when I found myself crying when Nemo got lost. The second one is that you have an increased sense of your own mortality and you are doing all this self-assessment and appraisal about what you are doing, how you are doing it, and where you are doing it, and whether it is the right thing, and that can be a bit of an insomniac or monkey on your back.

But after an absence from Parliament, I came back and was invited to take up a role as a presiding officer. It is quite a simple job, in principle: protecting the rights of the minority and ensuring the will of the majority, but, of course, it all takes place in an environment of wounding, damaging, getting credibility for yourself, and there are layers of passion and all sorts of things come in there. That is what makes it interesting. I think in a way, reflectively, there has been a bit of a change since MMP and the battle now is more party to party because, of course, that is the important vote, and we have changed some things we do. When I came in here, general debates were principally opportunities for individuals to raise matters of concern in their own electorate or elsewhere. It is now largely for most parties a themed debate, and I think we are not as well served by that. Is there an issue for change? I believe there is, and I have for some time, and I have an increasing feeling that we should do this and that is, make all third reading votes a personal vote. Note well that I am saying personal vote not free vote. I think increasingly there is some isolation and dislocation by members in this House from the actual meaning of voting and we see when a vote comes along, sometimes the groupings left and right advise the minor parties what they are doing. We are seeing increasing times when there is redress sought to either amend the vote or to record in the record of the House what actually was the intention. Even more recently we are seeing the veracity of proxies challenged by points of order or by interjection. I do not think that looks too credible in the eyes of the public. It is not what they expect from their representatives in the highest court of the land. I do realise that there would be a time factor involved in actually doing this. I think the Business Committee could think about how that might be done. One suggestion would be to have any third reading votes immediately after question time the following day, or even one more extended hour in a session of a Parliament would cover for any of that time that had been taken up in that personal vote situation.

One of the greatest disciplines about being a presiding officer is curtailing response. Sometimes you people, as you get involved in debate—I am just dying to respond into a debate and I have not been able to do that. The other thing is: curtailing the desire to actually reposed with an interjection at times. That has been so hard. In an emergency I turn to my right-hand man, Roland Todd, and say “Roly, this is how it works” and tell him. Roland always had a three word response that never changed: “Is that so?”. Thank you, Roland.

The cruellest barb award goes to an occurrence that occurred outside Parliament. I was going to give a speech at a field day in Palmerston North, and the best app on my * BlackBerry could not find the memorial hall. I saw this guy in a dirty ute with a tweed jacket and I thought “He’s gotta be going there”. So I asked him where the memorial hall was, and he told me, and then I looked at my watch because I was the opening shot, and he said: “Look. There’s no need to worry. They’ve got a boring old fart from Wellington opening it up.” That is the cruellest barb—as old fart, yes, but boring?

Let me just conclude with a couple of issues that I think it would be remiss of me not to mention, because they are issues that I have as probably my greatest concerns. The first is the sort of ongoing inability of a number of New Zealand citizens to make sensible decisions in relation to their own conduct. I have made some comments about this in my maiden address. I can give you some examples. On 16 January this year in Golden Bay hundreds of people spent 3 nights trying to stop some pilot whales from beaching themselves. So inherently there is good in all of us. On 16 January this year, the same day, Mrs ** Pravit Singh in Papatoetoe was attacked by two assailants and in a crowd of hundreds of people she called for help. No one went.

Worse than that, when she escaped and started to flee, some of the onlookers herded her back to the assailants. There is something inherently wrong with a society that actually cannot make proper and sensible decisions.

It is my view that we have stepped away from reference points that enable us to actually do that. We used to be solidly grounded in Judaeo-Christian values and that kind of worked for us. We have never had the debate about what we put in their place if we actually want to move away from that. I do acknowledge that it is not the role of this Parliament in any way to be a faith promoter and that there should be that separation between religion and politics. This is where I think it does transcend that: when we deal with issues of conscience, how do we actually make those decisions? When we are on the big issues like euthanasia, trading in alcohol, abortion, or any of those issues, do we do it out of convenience, fairness, populism, or do we have a basis for choosing right and wrong, and what sort of a message are we actually sending to the wider community?

The last point that is a big concern to me would be the award for the biggest lesson that I have learnt. Let me reference it a wee bit for a start. Some of you will know that in 1967 I did some volunteer service. I went to Vanuatu and there I, interestingly, learnt about cargo cults. What are cargo cults? “Kago” in Bislama is “possessions”. A phone would be cargo—anything that you have. What happened was that as these people who had lived there and had lived idyllically for a long time were contaminated by a lot of people who came in with a whole lot of cargo, they got to thinking “How do we get this?”. During the Second World War was probably the advent of most of these. On the island of Tanna there is a cargo cult called the John Frum movement. One night in Tanna, as people were talking about how they could get the cargo, a man in a splendiferous uniform arrived and pulled a big scam. He said: “Give you money and I shall return with money for you, but these are the things you need to do to worship. I am John from America.”—hence the John Frum movement. He took their money and left. Four generations on, people on Tanna are still waiting.

We laugh and think that is kind of quaint, but in reality the biggest lesson for me is that cargo cults are very much a part of every part of society. Weekly I have people saying to me: “Why doesn’t the Government do this? Why don’t you do this?” People have an expectation that there is some other way that they can actually get cargo. I absolutely applaud what Paula Bennett is doing—showing people who have got into a dependency mould that there are other pathways.

Here is the real rub, though. As we get into the last 5 or 6 weeks before an election and parties are really, really keen to retain power or earn power, we could use the equity of this country to promise cargo that might be a reward in the ballot box. I think that we need to really ponder the motive of how we actually do all of those things coming up through the election. I will not be here so I just make that little call now.

In spite of much encouragement I have decided not to sing a waiata at this point. However, I have written a valedictory poem, which is quite short. It is called “October”, and with apologies to * A B Paterson:

There was movement up in Welly, for the word had passed around

That a new Parliament was under way,

They gathered from electorates, new faces to abound

And all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted members from electorates near and far

Had gathered to the Parly for the fight,

For the members love hard talking where the nation’s fortunes lie

And the MPs sniff the battle with delight.

But in a quiet mountain valley, there’s a stream with crystal flow.

A man with fly rod ready, a trout to be his foe,

Recalled his journey forays in the days of Wellington,

He reflected for a moment and times in House and so

Of democracy and friendships, the privileged to serve,

Of bells and whips and caucus, select committees too,

While Standing Orders, Speakers’ rulings, points of order, “Order!”.

He clears his thought, a trout rises, solitude returns.

I bid you adieu.

Dalziel sees light on asset sales?


Christchurch has to find an extra $883 million by 2019 to cover its share of the rebuild and one of the options for funding that is asset sales:

. . . Meanwhile the Cameron Partners report shows the council needs to find an extra $883 million by 2019 to cover its share of the rebuild – constructing basic community facilities like libraries and swimming pools, and carrying out road and piping repairs.

The finance advisory firm believes the council has few legitimate reasons to hold onto its entire $2.6 billion asset portfolio and says there is “considerable scope” for a partial sale.

Ms Dalziel says the proposal is being considered as part of a wider recovery plan, which is likely to include rate increases and spending cuts. The council plans to open the floor for consultation in September and will listen to public opinion before making any decision.

The council is considering the release of around $400 million in capital from CCHL. The $2.6 billion portfolio includes Christchurch International Airport, the Lyttelton Port Company and electricity supplier Orion – although Ms Dalziel hopes to maintain “strategic control” of all three companies. . .

Christchurch mayor, Lianne Dalziel, was a Labour MP when the party so vehemently opposed the government’s plan to sell shares in a few state assets.

She appears to have now seen the light and accepts that asset sales would be preferable to a huge rates hike or steep increase in debt but her former colleagues are still in the dark:

Labour will vigorously oppose short term solutions to plug Christchurch City Council’s funding shortfall – including asset sales – which leave the city worse off financially and strategically in the long term, Labour’s Canterbury Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. . .

The Green Party is similarly blinkered:

Christchurch City Council should not be forced into selling its strategic assets, the Green Party said today. . .

“A firesale of Council assets involving the sale or partial sale of strategic assets such as Orion and Christchurch Airport is not in Christchurch’s interests,” said Green Party Christchurch spokesperson Eugenie Sage today. . .

This is the council’s business not opposition partys’.

The government is making a multi-billion dollar commitment to the rebuild and no-one should begrudge that but the city has to help itself too.

Christchurch people have more than enough to cope with without substantial rates increases or shackling themselves with excessive debt.

The city council has asked for advice on what to do and it’s up to it to do it or not without the interference from opportunistic opposition parties blinded by their ideological opposition to sensible economics and more interested in securing votes than the best interests of the city and its people.

Saturday soapbox


Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse.

Grammarly's photo.

August 2 in history


338 BC  A Macedonian army led by Philip II defeated the combined forces of Athens and Thebes in the Battle of Chaeronea, securing Macedonian hegemony in Greece and the Aegean.

216 BC Second Punic War: Battle of Cannae – The Carthaginian army lead by Hannibal defeated a numerically superior Roman army under command of consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro.

1377 – Russian troops were defeated in the Battle on Pyana River, while drunk.

1610  Henry Hudson sailed into what it is now known as Hudson Bay, thinking he had made it through the Northwest Passage and reached the Pacific Ocean.

1798 – French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of the Nile (Battle of Aboukir Bay) concluded with a British victory.

1835 –  Elisha Gray, American inventor and entrepreneur, was born (d. 1901).

1869 Japan’s samurai, farmer, artisan, merchant class system (Shinōkōshō) was abolished as part of the Meiji Restoration reforms.

1870  Tower Subway, the world’s first underground tube railway, opened in London.

1895 – Matt Henderson, New Zealand cricketer was born (d. 1970).

1903  Fall of the Ottoman Empire: Unsuccessful uprising led by the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization against Ottoman,TUrkey, also known as the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising.

1916  World War I: Austrian sabotage caused the sinking of the Italian battleship Leonardo da Vinci in Taranto.

1923  Shimon Peres, Israeli politician, Prime Minister of Israel and the ninth President of Israel, was born.

1924  James Baldwin, American author, was born (d. 1987).

1924  Carroll O’Connor,  American actor, was born (d. 2001).

1925  Alan Whicker, British journalist and broadcaster, was born.

1932 Peter O’Toole, Irish-born actor, was born.

1932 – The positron (antiparticle of the electron) was discovered by Carl D. Anderson.

1934 Gleichschaltung: Adolf Hitler became Führer of Germany.

1937 The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed in America, essentially rendering marijuana and all its by-products illegal.

1939 Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to begin the Manhattan project to develop a nuclear weapon.

1942 Isabel Allende, Chilean author, was born.

1943  Rebellion in the Nazi death camp of Treblinka.

1943  World War II: PT-109 was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri and sank. Lt. John F. Kennedy, future U.S. President, saved all but two of his crew.

1944  Birth of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia.

1945 World War II: Potsdam Conference, where the Allied Powers discussed the future of defeated Germany, concluded.

1964  Vietnam War: Gulf of Tonkin Incident – North Vietnamese gunboats allegedly fired on U.S. destroyers, USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy.

1967  The second Blackwall Tunnel opened in Greenwich, London.

1968  The 1968 Casiguran Earthquake hit Casiguran, Aurora, Philippines killing more than 270 people and wounding 261.

1973 A flash fire killed 51 at the Summerland amusement centre at Douglas, Isle of Man.

1980  A bomb exploded at the railway station in Bologna, killing 85 people and wounding more than 200.

1983 USS Texas was met by anti-nucelar protesters while visiting  Auckland.

Protest as USS Texas visits Auckland

1985 Delta Air Lines Flight 191, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar crashed at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport killing 137.

1989  Pakistan was re-admitted back into the Commonwealth of Nations, for restoring democracy.

1989  1989 Valvettiturai massacre by Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka killing 64 Tamil civilians.

1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait.

1992 Barbara Kendall won gold at Barcelona.

2005 –  Air France Flight 358, landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport, and ran off the runway causing the plane to burst into flames. There were 12 serious injuries but no fatalities.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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