Word of the day


Caird – a traveling tinker; tramp; gypsy.

Tim van de Molen’s maiden speech


National’s Waikato MP Tim van de Molen delivered his maiden speech last week:

The mighty Waikato: beautiful scenery; well managed & successful farms; thriving and vibrant provincial towns; diverse but united communities; and continual opportunity.

As the new Member of Parliament for the Waikato, I want to start by saying that it is an absolute privilege to have been elected to this role, and in such a magnificent part of the country.

A role that holds great opportunity & great responsibility. As a new MP, listening is a key part of this. My grandfather once said, “you have two ears & one mouth, use them in that proportion”. Congratulations to my fellow new MPs, I’m excited about the path ahead, as I’m sure you are.

The journey to be here was an exciting & rewarding one. A journey shared by so many people in the Waikato & beyond – by family & friends, by Party members, by the public who believe in our vision. Thank you all sincerely for your support.

Today, I want to share a bit of my background (my family, my upbringing, my experiences), why I am who I am, to touch on what brings me to this position. I want to share some of the wonderful aspects of the Waikato; and I want to outline some of my aspirations for both the Waikato & for New Zealand.

Firstly, I’d like to share that I felt, on entering this building, the mana, the prestige, the history of our nation. The decisions made by those who have come before, decisions that have shaped our country. One of those people was my Great, Great Grandfather, John Stevens.

A former member of this House, who spent a number of years through the 1880’s, 1890’s & early 1900’s, representing Rangitikei & then Manawatu.

For me though, Waikato has always been home. I was raised there, I have worked and played there, and now I’m raising my family there. As one of five children, I grew up in a competitive, family focused home where strong values were instilled in us.

Values such as: hard work and enterprise (& fair reward for it); taking responsibility for your actions; strength and importance of family; equal opportunity; and standing up for what we believe in. We were encouraged to use our initiative, to try new things and to ask questions.

We had a very rural upbringing, although my parents are teachers, and we were constantly interacting with the outdoors – generally racing around the countryside with skinned knees & bare feet. Hunting, camping, and fishing were regular activities.

I remember that when we would go fishing from the wharf, Dad needed to concentrate on the fish, of course, so he would tie a rope around my chest & secure it to a post on the wharf, easy retrieval in case I should fall in – yes, Health & Safety in action, even back then. That’s what I choose to believe anyway, and not that I was a burley pot in case the fish weren’t biting!

We would spend long summer days exploring on family farms, or in later years, helping with chores once we became useful. Or on crisp winter mornings, breaking ice on the troughs to use as a Frisbee, or watching the horses’ breath steaming as they were galloped around the track.

Those early years on farm were some of my best memories & developed into a true passion for the Primary Industries; a passion that continues still. I believe we were very lucky to grow up in such an environment, but then, really, it’s the typical Kiwi upbringing that so many of us are lucky to have had.

I’m proud to be Kiwi & I’m proud of the diversity that often reflects for each of us. For me, on my mother’s side, our ancestors arrived in New Zealand from the UK in the 1860’s, and my father’s parents arrived in the 1950’s from the Netherlands.

My hometown of Matamata was, & still is, a jewel in the Waikato crown. One of those great provincial New Zealand towns. I enjoyed my schooling at Matamata College before heading to Waikato University where I obtained a Social Science degree, majoring in Psychology.

During this time, I also trained as a Scuba Diving Instructor – as you do when living in the most inland city in the country. This degree and diving combination, as I’m sure you’d expect, naturally lead to becoming a dairy farmer… my journey has been varied!

The New Zealand Young Farmers organisation was a key part of my life for 13 years. It was through this organisation that I got my first governance experience. Young Farmers was a key contributor to my desire to become an MP. It developed that knowledge that the decisions we made could positively, or negatively, influence the experience of the grass roots members.

Making those calls with the best interests of others in mind, guided by our values. I get great satisfaction from helping people, from supporting them to learn to grow & to succeed. Acknowledging, of course, that success may be measured differently by each of us.

Over the years, my Primary Industries involvement has also led to opportunities to visit Australia, Japan, the UK, & Singapore. We are indeed global leaders in this space.

But with the increasingly disruptive technologies that are now emerging & the changing expectations of consumers, we must be more nimble, more innovative & more united as an industry & as a country, if we are to continue to succeed.

Winning the Young Farmer of the Year Contest was a highlight of my time in the industry. It had long been a dream. Achieving it was a reflection of the team of people helping me – their skills, knowledge & enthusiasm coupled with their willingness to impart that to me. As in so many pursuits, a great team will accomplish great things.

Working as a rural bank manager was a role I loved. Building an understanding of someone’s business, helping them achieve their dreams & aspirations was hugely rewarding. I learnt so much from them too, there is always another perspective. Alongside this, I was able to achieve my own dream of getting into farm ownership.

Having a background across dairy, sheep and beef, horticulture & agri-business is very important in a strong rural area like the Waikato. Having said that, there’s more to the Waikato than cows & crops.

That’s where my experience as a business owner; time working in the tourism sector; service in the NZ Army; and voluntary roles like the St. John Ambulance, enable me to better relate to and understand the diverse range of people in our electorate.

For anyone who has served in the military, I am sure you can appreciate the physical & mental adversity you are frequently presented with. For example, being tasked with Sentry duty – sitting out in the Waiouru tussock, in a hole in the ground at 2:00am, with the sleet driving horizontally, not having slept in three days.

And in the distance, you can see the Desert Rd, with occasional headlights twinkling through the sleet – and you wonder if the driver of that vehicle faces the same challenges you do. Or perhaps, rather than the biting cold, they’re biting into a hot pie; & rather than sitting in a hole, they’re sitting in a leather seat with a seat warmer. Character building moments.

I share these experiences & memories because they have shaped me. It’s the ‘why’ of who I am. It’s also the basis from which my own personal motto comes: If it is to be, it is up to me.

It’s about taking responsibility for your own journey. Driving yourself onward, challenging yourself & thirsting for more. Education is a lifelong experience – you can always learn something from the people around you.

Each day, we can wake up & be a better version of ourselves than we were the day before. But it requires courage, determination, a focused plan & hard work. It doesn’t mean being on your own though, I love working & succeeding as a team.

On that note, the most important team of all is my family. Thanks to my wife Hilary, to my parents, Ron & Sue, who are all present today. Thanks to my siblings, present & watching from afar.

It is a blessing to have the opportunity with my amazing wife, Hilary, to now raise our own family. We have two wonderful children: our beautiful Isobella, nearly two; and sturdy wee Arthur, who arrived only a month ago, shortly after the election.

An election with a young family is not easy, clearly, I have an incredible wife! I would like to acknowledge Hilary – it’s an honour to be your husband.

I love your strength, compassion, intelligence & beauty. You inspire me to be better every day. Actually, it’s our third wedding anniversary today. What more romantic setting could one desire to celebrate such an occasion?!

I love innovation & I thrive on a challenge. In politics, the job is never done. There is always something more that can be achieved, some competing need. I’d like to acknowledge Lindsay Tisch for his dedication as the MP for Waikato over the last 18 years.

His contribution to the National Party extends well before the time he spent as MP & I would like to extend my thanks for all that he & wife Leonie have done. I wish you both the best for the future.

In the Waikato, we have some exciting opportunities in front of us. We need to continue to capture the growth potential with ongoing significant investment in infrastructure.

The Waikato is of great strategic importance given our location in the Golden Triangle, as well as the diversity of economic potential in the region. I will help the newly minted Minister of Regional Development to keep this front of mind when looking for projects to support.

We have an opportunity to further empower our communities. I believe that education is the foundation of opportunity. Our communities are diverse, we are all different, which makes us all unique. But we are all equal, and we can all succeed, though success may look different for each of us. Those who aren’t currently succeeding need help & encouragement to do so, & I will work towards this.

We have an opportunity to strengthen relationships between rural & urban New Zealanders. The strength of the Waikato, & New Zealand, has historically been underpinned by the success of the Primary Industries. And although we now have a lot more diversity, the sector remains a significant contributor to our success.

Farming continues to evolve: how we farm now is not how we farmed 10, 20, 50 years ago and it won’t be how we farm 10, 20, 50 years in the future.

Primary producers are typically great at adapting to their changing landscape, but they need a supportive structure to facilitate this. The ongoing negative agenda being pushed by some groups is counter-productive & divisive.

Let’s work together. We must be sustainable – environmentally, socially & economically.

We have an opportunity to improve our tourism offering. There are so many amazing places in our region, places that are the envy of the country & indeed, the world. Places like Wairere Falls, Port Waikato, the Hakarimata Track, Hobbiton, Nikau Caves.

I ran the Athens marathon in Greece some years ago – a wonderful experience, but very commercialised. Likewise, climbing Mt Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain – a powerful, spiritual experience passing through the shrine at the summit, only to see a Coke vending machine atop the peak. That’s fine for them, but it’s not the Kiwi way. So many tourists come to New Zealand for our relatively unspoilt & raw beauty. Let’s showcase it more.

As I draw to a close, I am confident that my vision & values, my skills & experience, my enthusiasm & determination, will ensure that I am able to contribute to the success of the Waikato & to all of New Zealand.

To my Waikato constituents, I look forward to justifying the confidence you placed in me when you voted. It is my hope that I am able to add to the mana of this House & that after I am gone, some new, fresh faced MP will experience that same sense of awe, & be further inspired to make our great country, greater still.

That picture of the Waikato I shared at the start of this address: the scenery, the successful farms; the vibrant towns; the united communities & the ever-present opportunity.

This can and should relate to all of New Zealand. I am committing to making this picture, our reality. I look forward to serving New Zealand.

Remember, that every day, we can be better than we were the day before.

Friday’s answers


Teletext gets my thanks for posing Thursday’s questions and can claim a virtual bunch of roses for stumping us all by leaving the answers below.

(I couldn’t answer any of the questions but emailed them to a friend who replied with them all – I’ll await with interest to see if your answers match his.)

Rural round-up


NZ food shortages in 5 years – report – Pam Tipa:

New Zealand has no food security policy and will be short of some foods within five years, says a Horticulture NZ report on domestic vegetable production.

“We complacently believe we will always be able to sustainably grow enough food to feed ourselves and contribute to the country’s economic wellbeing,” the report says.

“However with prime production land being lost, climate change, competition for water resources, extreme weather events and the constant threat of pests and disease we must turn our minds to food security issues for the future of NZ’s domestic production.” . . 

Young Farmers search for talent – Tim Fulton:

Young Farmers is re-inventing itself as an agency for talent attraction from schools, helping farming to compete for staff in towns and cities.

The organisation was pitching for funding from industry groups and corporates to inject more farming-based curriculum into the education system.

The project would cost $1.5m, chief executive Terry Copeland said.

Once in place Young Farmers staff would manage the relationship with schools and commercial backers of the project like a sales account, he said. . .

Sweet success in manuka honey – Peter Burke:

Manuka honey could long term earn more money for a central North Island Maori trust than its sheep and beef farming operation.

Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, whose large land holdings range from the central North Island to the Whanganui River, is planting manuka on steep country largely unsuitable, or less productive, for sheep and beef.

Chief executive Andrew Beijeman says they are also letting land, which is naturally reverting back to manuka. . .

Possums sorted – look out Omaui rats – Kate Guthrie:

A few years back, John Collins of Omaui got sick of shooting possums every night. He decided more needed to be done.

Omaui is a small village of about 30 houses in Southland, located right at the mouth of the Oreti River estuary, opposite Oreti Beach.

“I’ve always been environment-minded,” says John, who is now Chairman of the Omaui Landcare Group, “But until I came to Omaui I’d never settled in a place where that feeling for the environment came out. . .

IrrigationNZ back to help improve irrigation management:

IrrigationNZ will be back on farms this summer testing irrigation systems and helping farmers improve the efficiency of their irrigation.

Last summer, IrrigationNZ in partnership with Environment Canterbury, developed a new testing programme which saw 131 Ashburton farms have their irrigation systems tested to see how they were performing.

Over the next three months, IrrigationNZ will be testing irrigation systems in Selwyn district. As part of the testing process, farmers and farm staff are also interviewed to find out how they manage their irrigation systems. . . 

Can we sustainably meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries?—Yes, says Louise Fresco – Susan MacMillan:

The following argument for continuing to use livestock to use the planet’s full ecological potential is made by Louise Fresco, a Dutch writer and food and agricultural scientist specializing in sustainable tropical agriculture. President of the executive board of Wageningen University and Research, Fresco is a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors and holds many other distinguished appointments and honours.

Fresco says that the short answer to the question of whether livestock production can meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries is ‘yes’.

‘Livestock production cannot only meet the growing demand for animal proteins, but we absolutely need livestock to use the planet in a sustainable and healthy way. . .


Simple taxes better taxes


Former Finance Minister Sir Michael Cullen will chair the working group which is taxed with finding a fairier tax system:

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash announced the terms of reference for the group, which will come up with a series of recommendations by February 2019 which the government will then use to inform its policy direction at the next general election. Robertson said he isn’t making a grab for cash. Reforms could be fiscally neutral and he had an open mind on whether a capital gains tax would be necessary.

“The main goal here is to create a better, balanced and fairer tax system for New Zealand,” Robertson said. “Our belief at the moment is that we do not have that.”

The group has been told to consider the economic environment over the next five-to-10 years and how that’s affecting changing business models, demographics and business practices; whether some form of housing, land or capital gains tax would improve the system; whether a progressive company tax with lower rates for small businesses would improve the system and business environment; and what role tax can play in delivering environment benefits. . . 

The group has been told not to look at increasing income tax rates or the rate of GST, inheritance tax, a tax on the family home, or the adequacy of the personal tax system and its interaction with the transfer system. It has been directed to look at technical matters already under review such as international tax reform targeting multinational profit shifting, and the tax department’s business transformation programme.

While the issue of applying GST to goods and services bought online from overseas could be dealt with separately and was not part of the working group’s brief, Robertson said the group could examine exemptions from GST for particular categories of goods. Labour’s coalition partner in government, NZ First, has campaigned for years to remove GST from fruit and vegetables.

Robertson said the group will be able to look at the tax treatment on savings and investment, which has cropped up in previous reviews as an area in need of reform.

The best taxes are simple taxes.

Taking GST off fruit and vegetables sounds simple but it isn’t. If it’s all fruit and vegetables it will include processed ones which might have lots of sugar and salt added. But if it’s only fresh fruit and vegetables luxury imports like pomegranate will be exempt while frozen vegetables won’t.

Our GST is lauded around the world for its simplicity. Once you introduce exemptions it gets complicated, inconsistent and more expensive to administer.

National’s Finance spokesman Steven Joyce says the working group is underwhelming:

“Its Terms of Reference is written so that it will propose one significant thing at the end of it, a Capital Gains Tax,” Mr Joyce says.

“Yet Mr Robertson’s assertion on the current taxation of capital gains in the property market remains incorrect. People who buy and sell houses for a profit have those profits treated as income for tax purposes under the law today.

“So people can only assume once again that his unspoken desire is to introduce a Capital Gains Tax on farms and small businesses.” . . .

“Nothing will come out of this group that Grant Robertson doesn’t want. And all he wants is a recommendation for a Capital Gains Tax.

“Mr Robertson would be better to dispense with the expense to taxpayers and write out his tax policy for the next election when the time comes in the normal manner.”

I’m not opposed to a CGT per se, if it was fiscally neutral through reductions elsewhere. But as with GST, a simple CGT would be a better one.

Once there are exemptions there are loopholes which will be very good for lawyers and accountants but much less so for the aim of balance and fairness.


Quote of the day


Heckling is an act of cowardice. If you want to speak, get up in front of the microphone and speak, don’t sit in the dark hiding. It’s easy to hide and shout and waste people’s time. – Billy Connolly who celebrates his 75th birthday today.

November 24 in history


380 – Theodosius I made his adventus, or formal entry, into Constantinople.

1429 – Joan of Arc unsuccessfully besieged La Charité.

1542 – Battle of Solway Moss: The English army defeated the Scots.

1639 – Jeremiah Horrocks observed the transit of Venus, an event he had predicted.

1642 – Abel Tasman became the first European to discover the island Van Diemen’s Land (later renamed Tasmania).

1806 William Webb Ellis, who is credited with the invention of Rugby, was born (d. 1872).

1815 –  Grace Darling, English heroine, was born (d. 1842).

1849 – Frances Hodgson Burnett, British-born author, was born (d. 1924).

1850 – Danish troops defeated a Schleswig-Holstein force in the Battle of Lottorf.

1859 – Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species.

1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Lookout Mountain – Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant captured Lookout Mountain and began to break the Confederate siege of the city led by General Braxton Bragg.

1864 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French painter, was born (d. 1901).

1868 Scott Joplin, Ragtime Composer, was born (d. 1917).

1888  Dale Carnegie, American writer, was born (d. 1955).

1894 Herbert Sutcliffe, English cricketer, was born (d. 1978).

1897  Lucky Luciano, American gangster, was born  (d. 1962).

1922 – Author and Irish Republican Army member Robert Erskine Childerswas executed by an Irish Free State firing squad for illegally carrying a revolver.

1940 – World War II: Slovakia became a signatory to the Tripartite Pact, officially joining the Axis Powers.

1941 – World War II: The United States granted Lend-Lease to the Free French.

1942 Billy Connolly, Scottish comedian, was born.

1943 – World War II: The USS Liscome Bay was torpedoed near Tarawa and sank with nearly 650 men killed.

1944 – World War II: The first bombing raid against Tokyo from the east and by land was carried out by 88 American aircraft.

1959 – All hands were lost when the modern coastal freighter Holmglen foundered off the South Canterbury coast. The cause of the tragedy was never established.

Fifteen die in mysterious shipwreck

1961 Arundhati Roy, Indian writer, was born.

1962 – The West Berlin branch of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany formed a separate party, the Socialist Unity Party of West Berlin.

1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered by Jack Ruby in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters. The shooting was broadcast live on television.

1965 – Joseph Désiré Mobutu seized power in the Congo and becomes President.

1966 – A Bulgarian plane,  TABSO Flight 101, with 82 people on board crashed near Bratislava, Czechoslovakia.

1969 – The Apollo 12 command module splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean, ending the second manned mission to the Moon.

1971 – During a severe thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper (AKA D. B. Cooper) parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines plane with $200,000 in ransom money.

1973 – A national speed limit was imposed on the Autobahn in Germany due to the 1973 oil crisis.

1974 – Donald Johanson and Tom Gray discovered the 40% completeAustralopithecus afarensis skeleton, nicknamed “Lucy” (after The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar Depression.

1992 – A China Southern Airlines domestic flight crashed, killing all 141 people on-board.

1993 – In Liverpool, 11-year-olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were convicted of the murder of 2-year-old James Bulger.

2007 – Australians elected the Labor Party at a federal election; outgoing prime minister, John Howard, became the first PM since 1929 to lose his own seat.

2012 – A fire at a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killed at least 112 people.

2013 – Iran signed an interim agreement with the P5+1 countries, limiting its nuclear programme in exchange for reduced sanctions.

2015 – A Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet is shot down by the Turkish Air Force over the Syria–Turkey border, killing one of the two pilots; a Russian marine is also killed during a subsequent rescue effort.

2015 – A terrorist attack on a hotel in Al-Arish, Egypt, kills at least seven people and injures 12 others.

2015 – An explosion on a bus carrying Tunisian Presidential Guardpersonnel in Tunisia’s capital Tunis leaves at least 14 people dead.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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