365 days of gratitude


Reading and listening to Dan Bidois’ maiden speech made me grateful for people like his mother and grandmother who brought him up with love; his principal who steered him from trouble into an apprenticeship; and the mentor who saw his potential and steered him towards university.

It made me grateful where we live in a country where people on the wrong path can make it to, and on the right one.

It made me grateful for people who appreciate the opportunities they’ve been given and the people who gave them.

Dan Bidois’ maiden speech


Dan Bidois delivered his maiden speech today:

Tēnā koutou katoa.

Ko Tainui Te Waka.

Ko Waikato Te Awa.

Ko Ngati Maniapoto Te Iwi.

Ko Ngati Huiao Te Hapu.

Ko Kakepuku Te Maunga.

Ko Te Kauae Te Marae.

Ko Michael Bidois Toku Papa.

No Hangatiki Toku Papa.

Ko Leah Harding-Bennett Toku Mama.

No Hokianga Toku Mama.

Ko Dan Bidois Ahau.

No Reira.

Tena Koutou Katoa.

Mr Speaker. Today I rise in this House for the first time to speak on behalf of the people of Northcote.

I’m here as the result of a by-election that was held on the 9th of June after the departure of the Hon Dr. Jonathan Coleman, a man who held this seat for nearly 13 years, with 9 of those years as a Cabinet Minister. On behalf of the people of Northcote, I wish to thank Jonathan for his service to the Northcote electorate.

I wish to thank the people of Northcote for their support and confidence in me, it’s truly an honour to be your representative in this House.

To the National Party, in particular Party President Peter Goodfellow, our Leader Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett, Alastair Bell, Andrew Hunt, the Young Nats, the delegates who chose me as their candidate, all of the volunteers and staff who helped out on our campaign, and the Northcote Electorate Executive – thank you for your dedication, encouragement, and support, I am indebted to you all.

To retiring Northcote electorate executive member, Gavin Cook, thank you for your service to our party over the past 40 plus years and for your wise counsel offered to me over the past few months. And to my family, mum, dad, Wayne, Fleur, Chontelle and Rob, thank you for your on-going support of my often crazy and unconventional endeavours.

Northcote is the hidden gem of Auckland, and an area I couldn’t be more proud to represent, with its diversity, collective aspirations, entrepreneurial spirit and strong sense of community identity.

What began as a place with only a handful of settlers in the 1800s, developed into a fast growing, ambitious and compact electorate, especially after the Auckland Harbour Bridge opened in 1959. Today, the tight knit communities of Birkenhead, Glenfield, Beach Haven, Birkdale, Chatswood, Hillcrest and Northcote continue to thrive.

The proximity of Northcote to Downtown Auckland attracts many young professionals and aspirational families to the electorate. And it’s a diverse electorate in terms of ethnicity, socio-economic groups, professions and generations. Yet despite the diversity, the people of Northcote share some common threads, they are hardworking, entrepreneurial and family orientated.

Like many other parts of Auckland, Northcote has its fair share of challenges. With the scale and pace of growth in the North Shore over the past 20 years and in the foreseeable future, investments in key infrastructure such as public transport, schools, healthcare services, car parks, and sporting grounds have yet to match this growth.

Congestion is a big problem for many in my area, and the apex of this congestion is Onewa Road, the main arterial route to the CBD. I am committed to ensuring Northcote gets its fair share of investment to manage these challenges, and to being vocal on all matters local and national which impact the people of Northcote.

Mr. Speaker, I come from a place far removed from this House, both literally and figuratively. At 9 months old, I was lucky enough to be adopted into a humble, working class family.

My parents are small business owners. My dad drives trucks and my mum is a saleswoman. They didn’t grow up with much, yet they made a better life for themselves through hard work, personal responsibility and private enterprise.

Two women shaped my life views in particular. My late grandmother, Millicent and my mother, Leah. Millicent grew up poor in Hokianga and was widowed at 35 with two young daughters, after her husband Bill Harding died from an injury that he sustained during the Second World War. A devout catholic, she never dated or remarried, instead dedicating the next 60 years of her life to raise her two children and helping to raise my siblings and I.

My interest in politics stems from Millie. She was a staunch National Party supporter ever since her local MP, Sir Rob Muldoon, helped her into a State House in Glenn Innes in the 1960s. Surviving on only a modest widow’s pension, having access to a State House meant that she could dedicate herself full-time to raising her two kids, and later helping to raise my sisters and I.

She was a person of deep contrasts, for example even though she was a National supporter, she did have a soft spot for Winston. I guess none of us are perfect. And even though she was poor, Maori, and doing it rough as a widowed mum, she believed in personal responsibility and freedom of choice.

She believed in a hand up, not a hand out. Mr Speaker, her values became my values and I know she would be most proud to see her grandson serve in the House today.

The other woman was my mother, Leah, who attended boarding school in the electorate I now represent. My mum faced her fair share of challenges from the moment she adopted me, from taking care of a sick baby, later dealing with a troubled and misbehaving kid, watching her son battle cancer, struggling with her separation and raising 3 children.

I’m inspired by the grit and determination my mum displayed to rise above her challenges and provide for her family. And she worked hard, at one stage holding down 8 different jobs in order to make ends meet.

My mother’s story is indicative of the promise of living here in New Zealand, that anyone can get ahead and make a better life for themselves and their family if they work hard and have the determination to follow through.

Despite this loving family, I was far from a role model growing up. I spent most of my high school years either in detention, chasing girls, or getting into mischief. I was probably on the pathway to prison if it weren’t for an intervention my high school principal made which changed my life forever.

My principal convinced a local butcher next to my high school to take me on as a butcher’s apprentice. Through this job, I developed discipline, customer service skills, discovered the joys of earning a paycheque, and later discovered my passion for economics.

After completing a butcher’s apprenticeship, I was mentored by a senior leader of Woolworths to go to university, ending up with three bachelor’s degrees in economics, marketing and commerce from the University of Auckland, before later completing a fourth degree in public policy at Harvard University.

That a high school dropout can later graduate with a Masters degree from Harvard speaks to the promise of growing up in a free and equitable country like New Zealand. Where any kid, no matter where they come from, whatever their skin colour, or which school they attend, can succeed if they have the determination, aspiration and work ethic to do so.

New Zealand is one of the few places in the world where this story is even possible, and it’s this aspect of our society which I seek to uphold and strengthen.

An upwardly mobile society based on merit and equal opportunity is the endeavour that brings me to this House today. Where every Kiwi kid has the opportunity to reach their potential and fulfil their god given talents. Where every Kiwi kid receives a great start in life through education, and climbs ahead through private enterprise.

Like all of you, I’m here because I want to improve the lives of New Zealanders and to make a difference to the social, economic and environmental future of this great nation. But New Zealand’s future success depends first and foremost on creating a vibrant, dynamic and a knowledge-based economy. For it is only through a strong economy that we are afforded the opportunity to strengthen our environment and address our social issues.

I have always believed in the power of free and competitive enterprise to transform lives and lift all of our communities to a better place in life. And it’s worked for me. From working for $6 an hour as a butchers apprentice, then as a strategy consultant with Deloitte, and as an economist at the OECD, and most recently as a senior executive for Foodstuffs. It’s also worked for my family.

From seeing my parents work their guts out to get ahead and from seeing my older sister’s struggle from pay cheque to pay cheque. Through my life and through the life of my family, I have witnessed the engine of economic growth in our society and its ability to reward hard work, incentivise people, and ultimately improve lives.

Yes, saving rates, interest rates, unemployment rates, real GDP growth rates and bond yields are all important indicators of economic progress at the macro level. But more importantly, a strong economy is about individuals.

The young child who’s employed and earning money instead of roaming the streets looking for trouble. The father who takes pride in the fact he is providing for his family and ends each day with a sense of accomplishment. The disabled person who feels included in society and that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. And the single mother, who feels empowered, free and independent and is able to provide for her children.

I’m proud to be a member of the National Party, a Party that backs Kiwi businesses and strives for a strong economy first and foremost, where everyone can get ahead and improve their lot in life. A Party that favours free, competitive enterprise where government sets the rules of play and then gets out of the way.

My time overseas, living and working in America, France, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Malaysia, gave me an immense appreciation for having grown up in this country. It made me proud to call myself a New Zealander.

It also gave me the opportunity to reflect on some of the challenges this great nation faces in the coming years. Climate change. Rapid advances in automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. A population that’s getting older and living longer. A shifting centre of geopolitical and economic power from the West to the East. And accelerating globalisation calling into question the role of the nation state.

Responding effectively to these challenges and opportunities will determine whether our great nation endures or declines, prospers or shrinks. This is going to be a monumental task, but I relish the opportunity to play a small part of this effort.

I’m positive that New Zealand can rise to the challenges we face and will prosper well into the next century, provided we take a long term perspective to policy development and effectively capitalise on the natural advantages we have as a nation.

We are small enough to be nimble and agile in our policy responses. We are not straddled by the chains of history we are young and forward looking as a nation. We are enterprising, innovative and creative as a culture. We dare to dream big and we are not afraid of rolling up our sleeves and mucking in.

I’m immensely proud to be a New Zealander and to call this place my home. I’m proud to represent the people of Northcote in this House in what is the best place in Auckland to live and raise a family. And I’m proud to be a member of a party that unashamedly backs Kiwi businesses and entrepreneurs to show us the pathway to a better life.

There’s a Maori proverb that says “the person with a narrow vision sees a narrow horizon, while the person with a wide vision sees a wide horizon”.

The horizon I see for New Zealand is positive, full of economic opportunities for our kids and their kids, and prosperous.

It’s my purpose in this House to ensure that the people of Northcote are included in this horizon, and that our nation’s actions reflect these aspirations.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Word of the day


Lour – look angry or sullen; frown, glower, scowl; to be or become dark, gloomy, and threatening; wrinkle one’s brow, as in thought, puzzlement, or displeasure.

Pomahaka Catchment


Rural round-up


Moves to revive Ruataniwha dam scheme – Anusha Bradley:

A group of Central Hawke’s Bay businessmen are hoping to resurrect the controversial Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme after buying the intellectual property from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council for $100,000.

The regional council spent $14 million, and four years, trying to get the scheme off the ground before the Supreme Court ruled last year it could not flood a large parcel of conservation land.

Now, a company called Water Holdings CHB has bought the intellectual property and rights to the scheme from the regional council’s investment arm.

Water Holdings CHB director Gavin Streeter said owning the assets, which included consents and modelling data, would allow the community to explore options for reviving the scheme. . .

Chance for young farmers and farm workers to have their say:

Farmstrong has developed a new online survey to better understand the pressures facing younger farmers and farm workers, and asking them what works to improve their wellbeing.

The survey is being undertaken in association with NZ Young Farmers, and is open for all under 35 year old farmers and farm workers.

We have developed two surveys, one for women and one for men. Most of the questions in the two surveys are similar, but there are some that are specific to men or women, such as the networks they belong to or the print magazines they read.

The survey is confidential and only takes about 10 minutes to complete.  It is open till 16 July 2018. . . 

Sell-out crowd for 50th FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Invercargill:

Finalists competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final will arrive in Invercargill today.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the iconic agricultural contest, which was first held in Auckland in 1969.

A sell-out crowd of more than 1,000 people will pack ILT Stadium Southland for Saturday’s quiz and awards night. . .

AI and IoT changing the face of NZ dairying:

A fledgling New Zealand agritech company run by a rising Kiwi entrepreneur who has worked for Rocket Lab has raised $8 million, from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Data Collective, which is likely to result in massive changes to the nation’s burgeoning dairy industry.

Waikato company Halter will use the $8 million boost to help farms guide and manage their dairy cows by using IoT and artificial intelligence, sustainably increasing production, saving billions in labour costs and improving environmental compliance and animal welfare. . .

GlobalDairyTrade marks its 10th anniversary:

Ten years ago, Global Dairy Trade held it first online auction on the GDT Events platform with the aim of being the most credible and comprehensive provider of prices across core dairy ingredients.

By the end of June this year, GDT Events had facilitated the trade of more than US$22 billion cumulative value of dairy products to buyers from over 80 countries.

Eric Hansen, Director Global Dairy Trade says the GDT Events auctions re-wrote the rules of engagement for buying and selling dairy commodities. . .

Fonterra welcomes appointment of new Beingmate baby & child food General Manager:
Fonterra welcomes the appointment of Bao Xiufei (Bob) to the role of General Manager of Beingmate Baby & Child Food Co Ltd. The move was announced yesterday and follows a comprehensive search.
Mr Bao joins Beingmate from Royal FrieslandCampina China, where he had a successful career, including most recently, as Friso Chief Sales Officer (CSO) and Consumer Dairy Managing Director. Prior to this, he was the Sales Director at Wyeth Nutrition and held senior roles at PepsiCo and Wahaha Food Group. . .

Horticulture NZ asks growers to renew funding:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board is asking growers to vote to renew the levy funding that keeps the organisation going, with voting papers going out today. 

A levy rate of 14 cents per $100 of sales of the fruits and vegetables covered in The Commodity Levies (Vegetables and Fruit) Order is the principal funding mechanism to support Horticulture New Zealand’s work for commercial fruit and vegetable growers. The levy expires in May 2019 and voting to renew it, or not, needs to be completed by 13 August 2018.

“The purpose of Horticulture New Zealand is: Enabling, promoting and advocating for growers in New Zealand to achieve the industry goal (a $10 billion industry by 2020),” says Board President Julian Raine. . .

Agriculture 4.0: Technologies at the heart of agtech:

‘Agtech’ has been described as the fourth agricultural revolution – a marriage of data, farming and technological innovation that will further transform the industry and help us to achieve so far unrealised levels of productivity (such as the long-sought 20t/ha wheat yield), efficiency and environmental sustainability.

3D printing

According to Dr Larousse, eight technologies are at the heart of agtech and all have the disruptive power to transform agriculture. Four of them are software, four hardware. One of them is already being practised by Alltech: after its recent purchase of the feed solutions company Keenan, it decided it could provide a more efficient spare parts service by turning to 3D printing, allowing farmers around the world near-instant access to parts from their local dealer. “But it needn’t stop there: we could also ‘print’ food from its constituent ingredients or provide robots with the means to self-repair.” . . 

Less for more or more for less*


Governments have choices when giving assistance.

They can make it universal – giving to more people, but each getting less; or they can target it – giving it to fewer people but each getting more.

With two payments starting this week, the government opted for the less for more approach.

There was $65 a week for a year for all parents of new babies and $450 to help all beneficiaries with winter heating – or whatever else they choose to spend it on – whether or not they needed it.

The baby payment can’t be claimed with Paid Parental Leave so single-earner double-parent households will get it and those earning less than $79,000 will get the payment for up to three years.

But some families still won’t have enough with it and others will have more than enough without it.

Most beneficiaries who get the winter heating payment will need it, but among those receiving it are pensioners, including those still in paid work, in receipt of more than one pension and/ or with more than enough other income.

Act Mp David Seymour says:

Around 9 per cent of superannuitants earn over $60,000 a year – more than the median income and three times the level of the pension.

“Their slice of winter energy payments will cost taxpayers about $73 million. . .

Eloquently as the gentlemen at Point of Order argue for a mate who will use the payment to power up his electric Mercedes, most of us would find more pressing needs for that $73 million.

There are costs to targeting but it would have been very simple with the heating payment.

Had it been opt in most of the better-off pensioners wouldn’t have bothered to claim it. Since it’s opt-out few will bother to turn it down.

Both these payments are part of the nanny state Damien Grant says insulates us from the consequences of failure:

. . . Children protected from the rigours of life fail as adults. We all understand this and parents grimace as our children stumble through the same mistakes we made. Yet we have unlearned this obvious truth when it comes to the wider community.

What happens to an individual when the consequences for failure are removed? What happens to families whose parents are not expected to provide for their own off-spring? What happens to a community over multiple generations of dependency?

We have been taught that we are not responsible for providing for our own education, paying for our healthcare or even scrabbling for food. The existence of poverty is never the fault of the individual but of the wider society who, as a consequence, must bear responsibility for the poor life decisions of all its citizens.

We can see the result, as most OECD nations have been conducting an inter-generational experiment on shielding their citizens from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Controversial-yet-influential American political scientist Charles Murray’s 1984 book Losing Ground outlines a theory that welfare can increase poverty because it rewards self-defeating decisions, such as avoiding employment. His writing contributed to then-US President Bill Clinton’s limited wind back of federal welfare in 1996.

In New Zealand, every citizen is a beneficiary. We are all eligible for free healthcare, pensions, TVNZ and a welfare system that is so invasive that my local district health board keeps sending me requests for a stool sample. (Seriously, cut it out!)

We are insulated from the full consequences of failure and hampered by a progressive tax and social regime that places a drag on success. The results are rising numbers of single-parent families, record levels of incarceration and persistent pockets of poverty and low academic achievement.

The response to this ongoing failure is ever-increasing intervention.

Today makes the start of the Orwellian Working For Families programme, where middle-class parents receive even more government cash paid for by scrapping the last government’s tax cuts. 

We have become infantilised by this paternalistic managing of much of our economic life and are unwilling to embrace the freedom and responsibility of adulthood. 

It is very difficult to design a welfare system that helps those in genuine need without trapping them; to give people enough without incentivising them to stay dependent; to give hand- outs that provide hands-up without holding people back.

But targeting extra payments would be a good start.

* I know that should be fewer not less, but whenever has correct grammar got in the way of a headline?


Quote of the day


If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’ – Dave Barry who celebrates his 71st birthday today.

July 3 in history


324  Battle of Adrianople Constantine I defeated Licinius.

987 Hugh Capet was crowned King of France, the first of the Capetian dynasty.

1608  Québec City was founded by Samuel de Champlain.

1728 Robert Adam, Scottish architect, was born (d. 1792).

1754  French and Indian War: George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity to French forces.

1767 Pitcairn Island was discovered by Midshipman Robert Pitcairn on an expeditionary voyage commanded by Philip Carteret.

1767  Norway’s oldest newspaper still in print, Adresseavisen, was founded and the first edition published.

1775 American Revolutionary War: George Washington took command of the Continental Army.

1778 American Revolutionary War: British forces massacred 360 people in the Wyoming Valley massacre.

1819 The Bank of Savings in New York City, the first savings bank  in the United States, opened.

1839  The first state normal school in the United States, the forerunner to today’s Framingham State College, opened in Lexington, Massachusetts with 3 students.

1844 The last pair of Great Auks was killed.

1848  Slaves were freed in the Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands) by Peter von Scholten in the culmination of a year-long plot by enslaved Africans.

1849  The French entered Rome to restore Pope Pius IX to power.

1852  Congress established the United States’ 2nd mint in San Francisco, California.

1863  U.S. Civil War: The final day of the Battle of Gettysburg culminated with Pickett’s Charge.

1866  Austro-Prussian War was decided at the Battle of Königgratz,resulting in Prussia taking over as the prominent German nation from Austria.

1884  Dow Jones and Company publishes its first stock average.

1886  Karl Benz  officially unveiled the Benz Patent Motorwagen – the first purpose-built automobile.

1886  The New York Tribune became the first newspaper to use a linotype machine, eliminating typesetting by hand.

1898  Spanish-American War: The Spanish fleet, led by Pascual Cervera y Topete, was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in Santiago, Cuba.

1913  Confederate veterans at the Great Reunion of 1913 reenacted Pickett’s Charge; upon reaching the high-water mark of the Confederacy they were met by the outstretched hands of friendship from Union survivors.

1937 Tom Stoppard, Czech-born, British playwright, was born.

1938  World speed record for a steam railway locomotive was set in England, by the Mallard, which reaches a speed of 126 miles per hour (203 km/h).

1938  President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and lights the eternal flame at Gettysburg Battlefield.

1940  World War II: the French fleet of the Atlantic was bombarded by the British fleet, coming from Gibraltar, causing the loss of three battleships:DunkerqueProvence and Bretagne, and death of 1200 sailors.

1944 World War II: Minsk was liberated from Nazi control by Soviet troops during Operation Bagration.

1947 Dave Barry, American humorist and author, was born.

1950 – Ewen Chatfield, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1951  Richard Hadlee, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1952-  The Constitution of Puerto Rico was approved by the Congress of the United States.

1952  The SS United States set sail on her maiden voyage to Southampton. During the voyage, the ship took the Blue Riband away from the RMS Queen Mary.

1959 Julie Burchill, British journalist and author, was born.

1960 Vince Clarke, British songwriter (Depeche Mode, Yazoo, and Erasure), was born.

1962  Tom Cruise, American actor, was born.

1962  The Algerian War of Independence against the French ended.

1963 In New Zealand’s worst internal civil aviation accident, all 23 passengers and crew were killed when a DC3 crashed in the Kaimai Range. Helicopters were used for the first time in the search and rescue operation that followed.

DC-3 crashes in Kaimai Range

1964 Joanne Harris, British author, was born.

1969  The biggest explosion in the history of rocketry occurred when theSoviet N1 rocket exploded and destroyed its launchpad.

1970 The Troubles: the “Falls Curfew” began in Belfast.

1970  A British Dan-Air De Havilland Comet chartered jetliner crashed into mountains north of Barcelona killing 113 people.

1977 The Senegalese Republican Movement was founded.

1979  US President Jimmy Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.

1986  US President Ronald Reagan presided over the relighting of the renovated Statue of Liberty.

1988  United States Navy warship USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 killing all 290 people aboard.

1988 Winston Reid,   New Zealand– Danish Football Player, was born.

1988  The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey was completed, providing the second connection between the continents of Europe and Asia over the Bosporus.

1994 The deadliest day in Texas traffic history when 46 people were killed in crashes.

1996 Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland.

2001 A Vladivostok Avia Tupolev TU-154 jetliner crashed on approach to landing at Irkutsk, Russia killing 145 people.

2004  Official opening of Bangkok’s subway system.

2005  Same-sex marriage was legalised in Spain.

2006 Valencia metro accident left 43 dead.

2006  Asteroid 2004 XP14 flew within 432,308 kilometres (268,624 mi) of Earth.

2009  Mark II.5 Skytrain cars entered service in Metro Vancouver.

2013 – Egyptian coup d’état: President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by the military after 4 days of protests all over the country calling for Morsi’s resignation, to which he didn’t respond. President of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt Adly Mansour was declared acting president.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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