365 days of gratitude


A friend recommended that I get a down jacket.

They were warm and light and I wouldn’t regret the purchase, she said.

The recommendation happened to coincide with one of Macpac’s sales.

I bought one, my friend was right. It is warm and light, I haven’t regretted buying it and on days like this I’m very grateful for it.

Word of the day


Adhocracy – a system of flexible and informal organization and management in place of rigid bureaucracy; a system of flexible and informal organisation and management in place of rigid bureaucracy; rule by committee and task forces.

Rural round-up


Van Leeuwen owner awaits M.bovis compo, says MPI like a ‘slow machine’ –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Aad Van Leeuwen is still waiting for compensation from the Ministry for Primary Industries more than nine months after he reported the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis in his South Canterbury herds.

“There was an advance made a couple of months ago covering barely 20 percent of all the stock but the remaining more than 80 percent has not arrived yet and there are continuous questions coming (from MPI) that have all been answered,” the owner of Van Leeuwen Dairy Group told BusinessDesk. Compensation for the stock alone is around $3 million and doesn’t include anything else such as milk loss, he said. . . 

Farmer research highlights hill country risks and opportunities :

Farmers from Canterbury and Manawatu have shared their stories on their hill country development experiences with research company UMR through an anonymous survey, as part of a research project commissioned by Environment Canterbury, and supported by Beef & Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers (South Canterbury).

The in-depth interviews were undertaken to understand current hill country development practices, as Environment Canterbury considers approaches to help farmers determine whether and how to develop their hill country pastures.

Some sheep and beef farmers are improving hill country productivity by planting older hill country pastures with higher producing pasture species. This commonly involves one or more years in winter feed, and creates an increased risk of sediment losses during this period. . .

Gibbs family meet environmental challenges of coastal property – Esther Taunton:

Farming on the South Taranaki coast has its environmental challenges but the Gibbs family tackle them head on.

The regional winners of the 2018 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Grant, Dinny and Leedom Gibbs of the Gibbs G Trust milk 435 cows on a 122-hectare farm five kilometres south of Manaia.

Steep cliffs form the southern boundary of the property, which is exposed to wind and “devastating” salt spray. . .

Government should commit to rural communities:

National is urging the Government to support the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) with ongoing funding, National Party associate spokesperson for Health Dr Shane Reti and National Party spokesperson for Rural Communities Matt King say.

“National recognises that rural communities in New Zealand have different needs and face special challenges, especially when it comes to accessing health services,” Dr Reti says.

“We support the RHAANZ’s request for ongoing operating funding outside their existing contracts to ensure that rural communities have access to the services that they need. . . 

NZ ahead of UK sheep genetics – Colin Ley:

New Zealand’s sheep genetics are way ahead of those in Britain, Scotland-based NZ agribusiness consultant Tim Byrne says.

As a senior consultant with Dunedin’s AbacusBio Byrne opened the company’s first European office in June last year to more effectively service British and European Union clients while also seeking to access new areas of agri-tech development in Europe.

While fully convinced that NZ sheep farmers hold a clear genetics advantage over their British counterparts he’s not so sure Kiwi producers are striking a sufficiently strong profile on environmental management issues. . . 

What does added value mean?:

Outsiders commentating on the New Zealand meat industry often confidently pronounce the sector needs to ‘add value’ to the products, but what exactly is added-value, who are you adding value for and who is getting the value? It depends who you talk to.

Meat is a nutritious, and most would say essential, base ingredient in a modern healthy diet – to be eaten in moderation – for end-users around the world.

To get maximum prices, the base material – the meat – needs to be consistently tender, juicy, sized and available all year round. Meeting those demands – producing healthy animals on pasture to precise specification – adds value for a red meat farmer, who earns more money for a premium product.

The consumer might say added-value is something that helps daily life, so increasing the speed of preparation, recipe choice, and portion control might all feature in the added-value mix they will pay more for. . . 

Jonathan Coleman’s valedictory


Jonathan Coleman delivered his valedictory statement last night:

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (National—Northcote): One of the things I’ve often been asked is “Why on Earth would anyone want to go from being a doctor to becoming a politician?” And, indeed, there’ve been one or two occasions over the years—and, in fact, some in more recent times—when I’ve asked myself that very same question. But despite my job coming with a permanent open invitation to go on Radio New Zealand National Checkpoint and notwithstanding the maligned motives that some less generous citizens might attribute to politicians, the fact is that it is a very real and rare privilege to serve in this place, to represent one’s community, and to be allowed in to the lives of a wide range of New Zealanders as they experience the best and worst of what life has to offer in this country. That is also because if it’s possible to get in to Government and make it to the Cabinet table, there is the chance to effect real change to improve the lives of our fellow New Zealanders. That is the reason why we all come to this place regardless of our political views.

Twelve years, six months, and 29 days as a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives is a career probably longer than most but shorter than many. I’ve felt honoured to serve as the member of Parliament for Northcote with nine years as a Minister of the Crown. I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had over that period. When I look back on that time, there’s been some incredible political and life experiences, but above all I’ve gone to work every single day determined to make a positive contribution for my electorate and for our country. I was aware that each day I spent in this place was because I’d been sent here by the people of Northcote, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Some leave this place under duress, some too early, and some too late. For me, now is the right time, and I’m looking forward to the future and to the new challenges ahead. There is so much to fit into a valedictory, but having listened to a few over time, the best have a bit of reflection, maybe a little advice, a little bit of philosophy, a whole lot of thanks, and, believe it or not, not too much politics.

I was lucky enough to secure the nomination to contest the Northcote electorate for the 2005 election. My time as a candidate was pretty eventful, with an intense campaign of door knocking, human hoardings, and pub canvassing. It culminated in winning the seat from the sitting Labour member, which, of course, was a massive achievement for the whole Northcote team. That turned out to be a defining point in my political as well as personal life, as Sandra and I moved in to the electorate and built our family life there. And Northcote is now well and truly home. I’ve been fortunate enough to represent an electorate within which the previous five generations of my family have all lived, since 1846, and that has meant a huge amount to me over my career. I believe it’s a pretty rare thing, especially for an urban seat.

That first term as an MP pretty much determines your future in this place, both in the electorate and in this Chamber. I was lucky enough to be part of a health team run by the inscrutable Tony Ryall. He was prepared to share the opportunities around, especially at question time. That certainly enabled me to build a bit of a profile, clashing with the then Minister of Health Pete Hodgson who would scream across the Chamber in response to naïve questions from a young backbencher, which was a bit of a win as far as I was concerned. Yes, I felt like screaming at times as Minister of Health but I never actually did it. Anyway, the point is that politics does not have to be a zero sum game; it’s often described as being that. But sharing the opportunities with colleagues, especially junior colleagues is an approach I’ve tried to follow. Yip, there was the odd career-threatening moment in that first term but I survived to become part of the three-term National-led Government that swept to power in 2008.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to spend nine of my 12 years here as a Minister. My ministerial career kicked off with a short phone call monologue from the new Prime Minister, who had already had to wade through party negotiations and discussions with multiple colleagues. By the time he got to me he wasn’t about to enter into any debates, he just said “You’re doing immigration, broadcasting, associate health, and associate tourism. I’m the Minister of Tourism so you’ll be doing all the work. Catch you Monday.” John Key was a great guy to work for. Ministers agreed priorities with him and if he had confidence in an individual he just let them get on with it. He was, of course, arguably the most talented politician we’ll see in our life time, and to serve as part of that Government was at times a pinch-yourself-to-make-sure-it’s-not-a-dream type of experience.

He could also be pretty forgiving. As his erstwhile attending physician I was with him when as Prime Minister he tripped heavily on the stage stairs while running up to give a speech at Chinese New Year celebrations in 2009. Returning to the seat beside me he commented that his arm was a bit sore. I advised him of a treatment plan with which members of my family are very familiar, namely take a couple of Panadol, forget about it, and all would be well. However, it seems the Prime Minister did not actually follow this advice because the next day he rang to inform me that his arm was actually broken in two places. Anyway, I already had my Cabinet warrant so that was that. Being the Cabinet doctor certainly gave an interesting insight into the constitutions of various colleagues, several of whom seem to think I had an unending appetite for graphic descriptions of their symptoms. Let’s just say there seem to be a lot of very serious man flu running around.

Bill English made a remarkable contribution to New Zealand politics, and it was great working with him across my time as a Minister. Of course, his time as the Prime Minister was all too short but he made a massive intellectual contribution both to the National Party and also to New Zealand politics.

I’ve never been that keen on being dictated to and that is aligned with my political philosophy, namely that while it’s up to the Government of the day to draw up the boundaries of the playing field, if you like, it’s important to then allow New Zealanders to get on with it because they, not the Government, are the best people to determine how they live their lives, spend their money, and raise their children. And that’s what has always attracted me to the National Party’s philosophy. In line with this, on conscience issues that result in massive societal change my instinct has always been that the people should decide, not the Parliament. While thankfully our politics in New Zealand is not as polarised as in some jurisdictions it’s still important to note that philosophical differences are certainly there. While the votes are in the centre, political parties have to be able to mark out clear territory on the electoral spectrum in order to survive.

I came to politics through a background in medicine and business, and I believe that it was the former that stood me in greater stead. Because politics, in the end, is about understanding people. It’s about listening, it’s about dealing with the full range of human nature and emotion, it’s about making decisions and charting a course of action when sometimes there is no right or wrong obvious answer. Medicine also gave me daily contact with New Zealanders of every type and background imaginable. My time working as a doctor in south Auckland remained a long-term private reference point as we sat around the Cabinet table taking policy decisions. Ten dollars to see the doctor was a lot of money for many of my patients and I never forgot that. Later on when faced with really tough issues like cancer patients seeking funding for life-saving drugs I was able to reflect on my bedside experiences.

But there’s no blueprint for being a Minister of the Crown apart from a little known and, I suspect, a little read tome entitled How to be a Minister by the late Gerald Kaufman, an English MP. And I suggest some members of the new Government get hold of a copy pretty quickly. Considering its somewhat limited audience the author probably didn’t make a lot of money from book royalties. I withdrew it in my first week as a Minister and had it on continuous loan from the Parliamentary Library for quite some time, by which time I think two colleagues had actually been dismissed from the Cabinet. I felt a bit bad that my long-term loan of the library’s only copy may have deprived them of career-saving advice. Basically though, new Ministers have to make their own way and it’s very much a sink or swim environment. A Minister has to have a few very clear big picture priorities if they wish to achieve anything. Understanding details is important but it’s the agenda that counts.

My ministerial career started in immigration, which I soon discovered makes one a very popular guest at ethnic events. Some of the representations to my office were slightly unconventional, including one which arrived accompanied by a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label whiskey, which needless to say left the office in the custody of the owner. Right from the start I focused on attracting migrants with the skills and capital to make a contribution to New Zealand, including a highly successful business migration programme and the introduction of the silver fern visa to attract promising qualified young people who are likely to make a long-term contribution. We also drove the reconfiguration of the Immigration New Zealand network, aligning the footprint to important markets across the globe while moving processes online and eliminating as much bureaucracy as possible. It’s my view that New Zealand must continue to position as an outward-looking internationally-engaged open economy and immigration is central to that.

However, that term wasn’t always totally rosy. One night in September 2010, Peter Dunne offered me the generous opportunity of reading for him a bill on tax, entitled the Taxation (International Investment and Remedial Matters) Bill. Unfortunately, he sent me down with a copy of a speech he’d given two years ago, on the Taxation (International Taxation, Life Insurance, and Remedial Matters) Bill. Tell me if you can tell the difference. In fact, no one in the Parliament could, until about minute seven or eight, when Stuart Nash suddenly realised there was something eerily familiar about the words that were being uttered. But in the end, of course, the bill passed its reading and as far as I can see hasn’t been repealed yet.

My period as Minister of Defence was extremely interesting and satisfying, and there was a lot going on. The New Zealand Defence Force had three large missions in Afghanistan, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste, all of which we withdrew from over those years. At the same time, there was a major review of defence capabilities required to deliver on New Zealand defence policy. We were also engaging with the US on defence matters, after a considerable hiatus, and all in all this was a period of major change.

I came away from my time in that portfolio with a deep respect for the men and women of the New Zealand Defence Force. I’ve never met a group of people more dedicated to the service of their country and with greater pride in their vocation.

There were many poignant experiences, including three visits to Afghanistan, returning the veterans to El Alamein and Monte Cassino, and speaking at the Gallipoli Dawn Service on Anzac Day 2013. But there was none more intense and emotional than travelling the length of New Zealand twice in the space of 10 days to visit the parents and close family of young men and women who had been killed in the service of our country in Afghanistan literally two days before.

One of the things I’m absolutely proudest of, and you wouldn’t have read much about it in the news at the time, was getting the families of those killed and wounded in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste into this Chamber for the dedication of new plaques commemorating those deployments, and those are there, above the entrance to the Chamber. I know that recognition made a huge difference to those people.

To maintain an active, engaged New Zealand Defence Force, operations are absolutely crucial. In that regard, present and future Governments need to think carefully about how they will maintain the important strategic capability that is the New Zealand SAS.

My biggest message on defence, though, is that despite what the sceptics might think, New Zealand’s contribution really does count and has a huge flow-on effect in terms of our overall standing with like-minded nations. I know it definitely helped reopen doors in Washington over the last 10 years.

As stimulating as defence might be, health is actually a much more dangerous portfolio for any Minister. It’s on the front line of politics, and I was delighted to take up the challenge for my final three years as a Minister. It’s certainly a great way to boost your profile, up to a certain point—in fact, even beyond the point you’ve announced your retirement. It’s a portfolio where there is always more to do. Every day in my office, the overriding priority was to continue to increase and improve access to clinical services for all New Zealanders. I’m not pretending the system is perfect, and there will always be pressures in health for any Government. But some critics do the country a disservice by their portrayal of the New Zealand health system.

We delivered results, and the figures tell the story: increased access to surgery, increasing numbers of specialist appointments, decreased waiting times for cancer treatment, vastly improved immunisation rates, and more doctors and nurses. There was also $3 billion of new health facilities the length of New Zealand and a $5 billion lift to the health budget—fully funding population growth and inflation over our time in Government.

Perhaps the biggest single initiative I was involved in delivering was the $2 billion pay settlement for some of the most deserving people in New Zealand—the 55,000 care and support workers, and of course most of those people are women. I know it made a huge difference to them and their families. If the new Government, in the end of their time, can have matched our record of delivery they will be doing very well indeed.

Apart from the focus on clinical results, my big-picture drive was on a new New Zealand Health Strategy, which lays out the blueprint for a sustainable health system. That was delivered, and its implementation will now set up the system for New Zealand for decades to come. The National Government also laid the foundations for an electronic health record, and that will make a patient’s key health information available through the system. It is the only way we’re ultimately going to unlock productivity in healthcare, and I sincerely hope that this is work that the current Government will prioritise.

There were other portfolios too: State services, where I was Minister at a time of the biggest reform of the Public Service in a generation—important, but it certainly seemed like work; sport, where we linked participation to better health outcomes while continuing to drive high performance results—important, but it certainly did not seem like work.

There’s so many people to thank for the past 14 years, first as a candidate and then as a member of Parliament. To colleagues across the House, it’s been a pleasure, mostly, to work with you over the years. To Wayne Mapp, to Nathan Guy, to Judith Collins, to Gerry Brownlee, to Maggie Barry, to Simon O’Connor, to David Bennett, and to Sam Lotu-Iiga, thank you for your friendship. We all need people we can talk to in this place, and I had that, and I’m thankful for it.

To Simon Bridges, National Party leader, and the rest of the National team here in Parliament, thank you for your support, especially since my announcement but over many years before that. Simon, I wish you and the rest of the National team all the best. You will make a great Prime Minister, and you are supported by a very talented caucus.

I had fantastic people around me during my career here in Wellington: my senior private secretary of nine years,

Melissa Turner, Oliver Thurston, Nikki Grant, James Watson, Martin Watterson, Steven Parker, Angela Keneally, Michael Johnson, Kirsty Taylor-Doig, J2 Jonathan Franklin, and Margaret Lawrie. Former Nelson Under-21s fullback and political soothsayer Peter McCardle became a close friend and mentor, and I thank you Peter for all the excellent advice, some of which I even took.

Thank you to the huge number of Public Service secondees and various officials with whom I worked over my career. I always placed the emphasis on building a team in my office over those nine years, and we had a huge amount of fun, as well as working long hours with great intensity.

Electorate teams are special, and I had a wonderful electorate agent for a decade, Anne Lyttelton—utterly loyal, a great friend, and, best of all, she never failed over the years to take the bait when I’ve rung the office impersonating various demanding constituents. Gavin Cook, you’ve given 43 fantastic years of service to the electorate committee, and you’re like a close uncle to me. Colin and Helen Hartwell, you’ve been with me from day one and I thank you for all the times we’ve had over many years. We will still all catch up.

To electorate chairs Callum Dixon, Jason Shoebridge, Kevin Kline, and Alex Foan, thank you so much for all your work, support, and loyalty. To Angela Hare, Karen Meldrum, Valerie Taylor, Adrienne Moat-Wilson, John Palmer, Geoff Parry, Paul Lahore, Martin Cooper, John and Ali McFetridge, and Julie Fenning, to Peter Kylie, to Alastair Bell, Margaret Voyce, the Ellis family, to Martin Gummer, and to Tim Hurdle—thanks for the tremendous part you’ve all played along the way.

One of the toughest parts of being a member of Parliament—a long-term member in an electorate—is the people you lose along the way. I want to remember the late Bob Mitchell and the late Bill Plunkett; sterling guys, who left a big hole to fill.

To former Birkenhead and Northcote MPs Sir Jim McLay and Ian Revell, I’m absolutely thrilled that you’re here today. You’ve been staunch supporters over many years—my whole career—and I thank you.

To the National Party, to presidents Judy Kirk and Peter Goodfellow, thank you for the opportunities of the last 12½ years. To the people of the Northcote electorate, representing you has been the greatest privilege. You were so loyal in your support over five elections, and I thank you. I’ve been truly moved by the reaction to my resignation, and it has meant everything to me. Being an electorate MP is not a job; it’s a whole life. I feel privileged to have lived it for nearly 13 years.

Northcote is not an electorate I ever took for granted, but it will reward sheer hard work with loyalty. I wish the new National candidate and the team all the best in the upcoming by-election.

To personal friends, many of them from well outside politics, including the Northcote Book Club—thank you for your support and forbearance over the years. It’s going to be great, actually, now to be able to see a lot more people than I have been able to for quite some time in some of my favourite haunts, like the Northcote Rugby Club, the Northcote Tennis Club, and the Northcote Tavern. I’ll be able to spend quite a bit more time there, although hopefully not too much time in the tavern. But it will be good to be back home much more often.

To the wider Coleman and Keeney families, thank you for being there at a personal level. To my mother, Pat, and her husband, Jack, thanks for everything over more than just these last 13 years. To Kay, Richard, and Matthew, and families; to Judy, my mother-in-law, thank you. And I honour the memory of my later father, Ron, a Northcote boy. He would have been amazed to see how it’s all turned out.

Above all, to Madison and Jack, you’ve had a taste of the political life and are just two awesome kids who have grown up thinking it’s normal to see Dad on TV. Jack, you were born when I was a Minister and you’re now 10; so, you know, that’s a long time. I know you don’t like being mentioned too much, but your name is in the Hansard now. Madison, you are the same. You’ve been a fantastic inspiration to me over many years, and it’s now great to see where you’re going and the next stage, when you move off to intermediate school next year. Actually, Jack is eight; Madison is ten. I’ve spent so much away from home! I knew he was shaking his head for a reason, and he’s pointing his finger.

Anyway, to Sandra, who never liked being known as the Mayor of Rotorua’s daughter and had a very healthy sense of perspective on being the MP’s wife, this has been a long and important and fun chapter for us, but I couldn’t have started that chapter, I couldn’t have moved through it, and I certainly couldn’t have successfully finished it without you. Thank you. I still can’t believe I didn’t tell you I was contacting the National Party about being a candidate, but I guess that’s a while ago now. You’ve been with me every step of the way since that time, and you’ve seen and done it all, from delivering pamphlets to emotional support. Yes, I am in debt to you big time.

Finally, to distil political advice into succinct verse, look no further than a poem by an old white guy called Rudyard Kipling, called “If”, which he wrote as advice to his son. I’m not going to recite it in its entirety but it’s worth the read for any politician—or, actually, for any one at all.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—

Yours in the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Thank you, and kia ora. It’s been a pleasure to serve

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday’s quiz


You’re invited to pose the questions.

Anyone who stumps everyone will win a virtual peach and apple crumble.

O&G exploration ban greenwash


The government’s decision to stop offshore oil and gas exploration is nothing but greenwash.

National Opposition energy and resources spokesman Jonathan Young said the decision had come without any consultation with industry.

“The Government had promised to consult but have now made an abrupt decision to stop any new offshore exploration,” he said. 

New Zealand has only about 10 years supply of gas reserves left, he said.

“So in 10 years time we will be buying imported gas to fire up the barbecue,” he said.

Young said 20 per cent of nationwide electricity generation depended on gas.

“What will replace gas as the demand for more electricity rose with electric vehicles and we don’t have enough renewables.

“It will be coal – good one Government.”

This move will do nothing to reduce the use of oil and gas in New Zealand or elsewhere.

It will just mean importing oil and gas from elsewhere. That will be more expensive and worse for the environment.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom called the decision a “kick in the guts” for the Taranaki economy.

The industry provided directly and indirectly up to 7000 jobs in the region.

“It was a kick in the guts for the long term future of the Taranaki economy and urgent work was needed on a plan to maintain Taranaki’s position as the provincial powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy,” he said. . .

Any gain from the projects which got money from the Provincial Growth Fund last week will be more than cancelled out by the jobs lost in the oil and gas industry and those who service and supply it.

This policy is economic sabotage for no environmental gain from a government long on rhetoric and virtue signaling and very short on reason.



New beginning for strong wool?


Could this signal a brighter future for strong wool and the sheep industry?:

One of the world’s largest producers of synthetic fabrics is coming to the aid of the ailing strong-wool industry.

DuPont, the 216-year-old global agricultural and industrial chemical business, and Wools of New Zealand are collaborating to develop a new, eco-friendly, wool-blend home textile yarn.

Wool ticks a lot of the boxes environmentally concerned customers care about.

It’s a natural, renewable product and in New Zealand comes from free-range sheep.

Contrary to what radical anti-farming activists try to say, wool is shorn from live animals which are treated well in the process.

The new yarn is scheduled to be released later this year or early next, prompting a “cautiously optimistic” Wools of NZ chief executive Rosstan Mazey to predict the industry could be on the cusp of significant change.

DuPont’s involvement provided product development and marketing horsepower Mazey said has been missing from the wool industry.

Initial work is under way developing what he called a super fibre for high-end carpets, which means finding the optimum blend of wool and bio-synthetic fibres.

Other super fibre products for apparel and upholstery could follow.

DuPont also has links, distribution networks and access to retailers throughout the world on a scale not available to NZ wool exporters.

“The exciting thing for us and for our growers is that this is very much a starting point and who knows where it will end.”

Mazey said if successful, the super fibre could use significant volumes of strong crossbred wool.

“It could take on a significant portion of the strong wool clip. 

“It is too early to say how much but it is exciting that it could take meaningful volumes that would lift demand for the overall clip.”

DuPont’s global segment leader John Sagrati said it will allow the creation of a sustainable, eco-friendly yarn with enduring performance.

“Bringing together world-leading source traceability and patented technology from Wools of NZ with DuPont’s global leadership in bio-sustainable, high-performance materials inspired this collaboration of expertise and products scheduled for release in 2018.” . . 


Strong wool has struggled against synthetic competitors.

But it is kinder on the environment and its flame retardant properties make it safer for furnishing too.

The aim is to produce a fibre for high-end carpets where cost is less of a concern and that could signal a resurgence in fortunes for strong wool and the farmers who produce it.

Quote of the day


The law, for all its failings, has a noble goal – to make the little bit of life that people can actually control more just. We can’t end disease or natural disasters, but we can devise rules for our dealings with one another that fairly weigh the rights and needs of everyone, and which, therefore, reflect our best vision of ourselves. –  Scott Turow who celebrates his 69th birthday today.

April 12 in history


467  Anthemius was elevated to Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.

1204 Constantinople fell to the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade, temporarily ending the Byzantine Empire.

1432 – Anne of Austria, Landgravine of Thuringia was born, (d. 1462).

1557 Cuenca was founded in Ecuador.

1606  The Union Flag was adopted as the flag of Great Britain.

1633 The formal inquest of Galileo Galilei by the Inquisition began.

1776 American Revolution: With the Halifax Resolves, the North Carolina Provincial Congress authorised its Congressional delegation to vote for independence from Britain.

1799 – Henri Druey, Swiss lawyer and politician, 2nd President of the Swiss Confederation, was born (d. 1855).

1820 Alexander Ypsilantis was declared leader of Filiki Eteria, a secret organization to overthrow Ottoman rule over Greece.

1861 American Civil War The war began with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbour of Charleston, South Carolina.

1864  American Civil War: The Fort Pillow massacre: Confederate forces killed most African American soldiers who surrendered at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.

1877  The United Kingdom annexed the Transvaal.

1883 – Imogen Cunningham, American photographer and educator, was born (d. 1976).

1902 – A train accident in South Africa killed 16 NZ soldiers.

1902 – Louis Beel, Dutch academic and politician, 36th Prime Minister of the Netherlands, was born (d. 1977).

1903 – Jan Tinbergen, Dutch economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate, was born (d. 1994)

1908 – Ida Pollock, English author and painter, was born (d. 2013).

1913 HMS New Zealand began a tour of New Zealand.

HMS New Zealand begins tour of NZ

1916 – Russell Garcia, American-New Zealand composer and conductor, was born (d. 2011).

1917 World War I: Canadian forces successfully complete the taking of Vimy Ridge from the Germans.

1919 Billy Vaughn, American musician and bandleader, was born  (d. 1991).

1924 – Raymond Barre, French economist and politician, Prime Minister of France, was born (d. 2007).

1927 April 12 Incident: Chiang Kai-shek ordered the CPC members executed in Shanghai, ending the First United Front.

1929 – Elspet Gray, Scottish actress, was born (d. 2013).

1932  Tiny Tim, American musician, was born (d. 1996).

1934 The strongest surface wind gust in the world at 231 mph, was measured on the summit of Mount Washington, USA.

1934 The US Auto-Lite Strike began, culminating in a five-day melee between Ohio National Guard troops and 6,000 strikers and picketers.

1935 – Wendy Savage, English gynaecologist and activist, was born.

1935  First flight of the Bristol Blenheim.

1937 Sir Frank Whittle ground-tested the first jet engine designed to power an aircraft at Rugby, England.

1939 Alan Ayckbourn, English writer, was born.

1942 Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, was born.

1945 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt died while in office; vice-president Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President.

1946 – George Robertson, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, Scottish politician and diplomat, 10th Secretary General of NATO, was born.

1947 Tom Clancy, American author, was born (d. 2013).

1947 David Letterman, American talk show host, was born.

1949 Scott Turow, American writer, was born.

1950 David Cassidy, American singer and actor, was born.

1952 – Leicester Rutledge, New Zealand rugby player, All Black, was born.

1955 The polio vaccine, developed by Dr Jonas Salk, was declared safe and effective.

1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space inVostok 3KA-2 (Vostok 1).

1963 The Soviet nuclear powered submarine K-33 collided with the Finnish merchant vessel M/S Finnclipper in the Danish straits.

1968 Nerve gas accident at Skull Valley, Utah.

1978 Guy Berryman, British musician (Coldplay), was born.

1980 Brian McFadden, Irish Singer (Westlife) was born.

1980  Samuel Doe took control of Liberia in a coup d’état, ending over 130 years of national democratic presidential succession.

1980 – Terry Fox began his “Marathon of Hope” at St. John’s, Newfoundland.

1981 The first launch of a Space Shuttle: Columbia launched on the STS-1mission.

1990 Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs exhibition opened at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

1992 The Euro Disney Resort officially opened with its theme park Euro Disneyland.

1994 Canter & Siegel posted the first commercial mass Usenet spam.

1998 An earthquake in Slovenia, measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale occured near the town of Bovec.

1999 US President Bill Clinton was cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a sexual harassment civil lawsuit.

2002 Pedro Carmona became interim President of Venezuela during the military coup against Hugo Chávez.

2002 – A female suicide bomber detonated at the entrance to Jerusalem’sMahane Yehuda open-air market, killing 7 and wounding 104.

2007 A suicide bomber penetrated the Green Zone and detonated in a cafeteria within a parliament building, killing Iraqi MP Mohammed Awad and wounding more than twenty other people.

2010 – A train derailed near Merano, Italy, after running into a landslide, causing nine deaths and injuring 28 people.

2014 – A wildfire ravaged the Chilean city of Valparaíso, killing 16, displacing nearly 10,000, and destroying over 2,000 homes.

2017 – Zuma Must Fall protests resumed in South Africa, with Julius Malema addressing large crowds in Pretoria.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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