366 days of gratitude

December 18, 2016

My farmer was in Millers Flat on Friday and came home with cherries.

There’s always a little apprehension about the first bite of the first of the season’s fruit.

Will it live up to the memories?

The cherries did – juicy, and just sweet enough, tasting just as good as I remembered and I”m grateful for that.


Word of the day

December 18, 2016

Pipperoo – someone or something that is particularly likable, pleasing, remarkable, wonderful or  superior; a humdinger.


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


Leafy Pizza

December 18, 2016

This is a giraffe bringing a hostess gift of juicy leaf pizza because he is so tired of there never being anything he can eat at these functions.  – Leafy Pizza  ©2016 Brian Andreas – posted with permission.

You can buy books, posters, cards, ornaments and more and sign up for a daily dose of whimsy like this by email at Story People.


24/30

December 18, 2016

24/30 in  the Sunday Star Times’ 2016 quiz.


Sunday soapbox

December 18, 2016

Sunday’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, but not abuse.

No automatic alt text available.

You will be too much for some people. Those aren’t your people.


December 18 in history

December 18, 2016

218 BC – Second Punic War: Battle of the Trebia – Hannibal’s Carthaginian forces defeated those of the Roman Republic.

1271  Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia and China.

1620 – The Mayflower landed in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts with 102 Pilgrims on board.

1642  Abel Tasman and his men had the first known European encounter with Maori.

First contact between Maori and Europeans

1707 Charles Wesley, English Methodist hymnist, was born (d. 1788).

1777 The United States celebrated its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the Americans over General John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga in October.

1778 Joseph Grimaldi, English clown, was born (d. 1837).

1849 Henrietta Edwards, Canadian women’s rights activist, was born (d. 1931).

1863 Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, was born (d. 1914).

1878 Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, was born  (d. 1953).

1888 – Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law discovered the ancient Indian ruins of Mesa Verde.

1890 Edwin Armstrong, American inventor (FM radio) was born (d. 1954).

1898  Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat set the new land speed record going 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h), in a Jeantaud electric car. This is the first recognised land speed record.

1900 The Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook Narrow-gauge (2 ft 6 in or 762 mm) Railway (now the Puffing Billy Railway) in Victoria opened.

1908  Celia Johnson, English actress, was born (d. 1982).

1910 – Eric Tindill, New Zealand cricketer and rugby player, was born  (d. 2010).

1912 The Piltdown Man, later discovered to be a hoax, was found in the Piltdown Gravel Pit, by Charles Dawson.

1913 Willy Brandt, Chancellor of Germany, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born (d. 1992).

1916  Betty Grable, American actress, was born  (d. 1973).

1935  Jacques Pépin, French chef, was born.

1938 Chas Chandler, English musician (The Animals), was born (d. 1996).

1943  Keith Richards, English guitarist (The Rolling Stones), was born.

1946  Steve Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist, was born  (d. 1977).

1946 – Steven Spielberg, American film director, was born.

1963 Brad Pitt, American actor, was born.

1966 Saturn‘s moon Epimetheus was discovered by Richard L. Walker.

1969  Home Secretary James Callaghan‘s motion to make permanent theMurder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, which had temporarily suspended capital punishment in England, Wales and Scotland for murder (but not for all crimes) for a period of five years, was carried by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

1973 Soyuz 13, crewed by cosmonauts Valentin Lebedev and Pyotr Klimuk, was launched.

1987  Larry Wall released the first version of the Perl programming language.

1997  HTML 4.0 was published by the World Wide Web Consortium.

1999 NASA launched into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT.

2006 – The first of a series of floods struck Malaysia. The death toll of all flooding was at least 118, with over 400,000 people displaced.

2009 – The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference closed with the signing of the Copenhagen Accord.

2010 – Anti-government protests began in Tunisia, heralding the Arab Spring.

2015  – Kellingley Colliery, the last deep coal mine in Great Britain, closed.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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