Word of the day


Proceleusmatic – inciting, animating, or inspiring; prosody; a metrical foot used especially in ancient quantitative verse and consisting of four short syllables;  pertaining to or consisting of feet of this kind.

Essential Day


A year on from the level 4 lockdown, it’s time to celebrate Essentials Day:

This time a year ago, the whole of Aotearoa (and indeed the wider world) stepped up for the first big Covid lockdown. Together our nation united to face the largest health challenge facing the country since the First World War.

Everyone has their own memories of getting through that first Level 4 Lockdown and for so many it marked a period of terrible change, even an end of an era.

While we never want to belittle the myriad challenges people around the globe have faced since, we are forever aware of the large body of scientific research demonstrating the psychological benefits of gratitude. Tuning into what’s still good in our world (cognitive reappraisal) is a foundational skill for resilience. Multiple studies have demonstrated the psychological benefits of noticing positive events, gratitude, mindful awareness, positive reappraisal, the use of personal strengths and acts of kindness during times of significant stress and suggested the importance of these strategies for supporting people through the ongoing challenges of the pandemic (Waters et al, 2021).

Gratitude is just one positive emotion that serves to buffer and bolster mental health in times of adversity and stress, aiding recovery from loss and trauma via widening perceptual field and allowing people to see the big picture (Vernon et al., 2009).

Kim Tay, Director of Online Training from the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience says: “There’s no doubt the past year has been tough, and we don’t want to diminish that, but wherever you are on the spectrum of how the pandemic has impacted you, taking a moment to notice what’s still good in your world, and particularly who you are grateful for, is such a powerful way of broadening our perspective and enabling us to cope in the face of uncertainty, challenge and change.”

“The benefits of a grateful mindset and grateful orientation toward life would appear to be especially valuable in the midst of uncontrollable stress, such as that engendered by the coronavirus crisis”, reports Professor Lea Waters and colleagues from around the world in their recently published paper on psychological strategies for ‘buffering, bolstering and building’ psychological health.

And so, we encourage you, your colleagues, your teams, families, whanau and communities to make an intentional effort to tune into the good at this time. To pause and reflect, for a moment, on the magnificent job done by all the people involved with delivering essential services, on the extraordinary ways families coped with home- schooling, and the businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes doing their utmost to keep going.

Consider all those behind-the-scenes legends who keep New Zealand moving through adversity, never seeking the limelight or praise, and the massive contribution they make every day of the year.

We encourage you to take a moment to ponder, who is essential to you and your way of life? It could be anyone involved in keeping your whanau safe and healthy, the food flowing, the power on, the rubbish collected. Or simply someone you can’t imagine facing the tough times without.

Let’s call it, Essential Day, making it a chance to acknowledge everyone connected to those essential services who kept calm and carried on. And to all those in Aotearoa who keep working day in, day out for a better New Zealand.

Questions you can ask yourself and your teams:

  • Who are you grateful for?
  • Who wouldn’t you want to live without?
  • Who stood up for you last year – at work or home?
  • Who are you most proud of?
  • Have you ever thought of thanking the people behind the essential services in some way?


Sowell says


Rural round-up


Pastoral lease review untenable – farmers – David Anderson:

High Country farmers are questioning the Government’s motives and the legality of its proposed reforms to pastoral land legislation.

“The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill is a solution looking for a problem, and is unnecessary, counterproductive and potentially unlawful,” Federated Farmers South Island policy manager Kim Reilly told the Environment Select Committee that is overseeing the bill.

“The existing contractual relationship [under the Crown Pastoral Land system] based on trust and reciprocity would be replaced by an approach of regulation, policing and enforcement.”

Reilly says the bill – as proposed – reduces the certainty of leases and the incentives for farmers to continue to invest in enhanced environmental outcomes. . . 

Beef up carcasses: Researcher – Shawn McAvinue:

Beef carcass weights need to rise after decades of “disappointing” results on the hook, a genetics researcher told a room of farmers in Gore last week.

Zoetis genetics area manager Amy Hoogenboom, speaking at a “What’s the Beef” roadshow at Heartland Hotel Croyden last week, said cattle carcass weights in New Zealand had increased by 4% on average in the past 30 years.

“Does that surprise anyone? Does that disappoint anyone?” she asked a room of about 40 beef farmers.

Dr Hoogenboom, of North Canterbury, said the increase was “not a great improvement”. . .

Are you roar ready? – Grace Prior:

The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council is calling for greater awareness about hunting safety this season.

MSC said it was predicting that this year’s Roar, the biggest event in the deer hunting calendar, would be a big one with hunters itching to get out in the hills after covid-19 cancelled their chances to get out last year.

This year, MSC’s message was simple, “be the hunter your mates want to hunt with”.

MSC said there had been a death in Wairarapa in 2012 during the Roar season, where someone had been misidentified. . .  

Feds proud to back NZ Dairy Story:

Sip that fresh glass of New Zealand milk, cut a wedge of our cheese, and know the farmers behind it are world leaders in animal welfare and climate change. And unlike producers in many other nations, they do it without direct, free-trade distorting subsidies.

Federated Farmers is proud to endorse the messages in The New Zealand Dairy Story. It’s a resource launched this week that draws together facts and figures our exporters, government representatives, educators and others can use to continue to grow our global reputation for producing quality, highly-nutritious milk and more than 1500 other products and product specifications made from it.

“New Zealand’s farmers and dairy companies produce the equivalent of two and a half serves of milk per day for around 90 million people each year, many of whom are in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where there are not the same natural resources to produce milk,” Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Wayne Langford says. . . 

New Zealand Dairy Story: dairy goodness for the world:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is proud that dairy has joined other export sectors in telling its story through the New Zealand Story initiative to ‘make New Zealand famous for more good things’.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been added to the New Zealand Story online toolkit (https://www.nzstory.govt.nz/) and is one of dairy goodness for the world.

“The New Zealand Dairy Story sets out New Zealand’s unique combination qualities as a country – our natural advantages, our care, our ingenuity and our integrity – and how they come together to make New Zealand a great source of milk, and therefore of dairy nutrition for a sustainable diet” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. . . 

Westland unveils Project Goldrush: a $40 Million investment to access global consumer butter market:

Westland Milk Products is embarking on an ambitious $40 million plan to double capacity of its consumer butter manufacturing facility.

The plan to increase production of premium grass-fed consumer butter brand Westgold has been five years in the making and is backed by new owner, global dairy giant Yili.

Westland resident director Shiqing Jian said Westland was transitioning from a supplier of mostly bulk commodities to play a greater role in the production of consumer goods in an expanding global butter and spread market.

“The investment highlights the important role Westland plays in Yili’s ongoing plans to supply international industrial and consumer markets,’’ Mr Jian said. . . 

Water crisis highlights need for new solutions, technologies to drive conservation in Asian agriculture:

As World Water Day is recognized in Asia and around the globe today, CropLife Asia is marking the occasion by calling for more intensive efforts and collaborative work to drive water conservation in regional agriculture.

“There is no natural resource as precious as water, and how we work together to ensure it’s conservation will play a large part in determining the future for all of us,” said Dr. Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director of CropLife Asia. “Food production requires far too much of this precious resource. Thankfully, plant science innovations are reducing the amount of water needed to drive agriculture. Access to these technologies and other tools that support sustainable food production with less dependence on water are critical for Asia’s farmers.”

With the recent release of new water security data as part of UNICEF’s Water Security for All initiative, the critical importance of the availability of this resource is more evident than ever. Specifically, the analysis revealed that more than 1.42 billion people worldwide live in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability – this includes 450 million children. . . 

Joseph Mooney’s maiden speech


National MP for Southland Joseph Mooney delivered his maiden speech yesterday:

Mr Speaker, It is with a sense of both pride and humility that I look forward to my first term in the 53rd Parliament as the Member of Parliament for Southland.

The electorate of Southland is a regional economic powerhouse, both in farming, tourism, horticulture, construction and an increasing presence in information technology.

My 11-year-old daughter said to me yesterday as we walked around Parliament that she wouldn’t have believed she would be doing that a year ago, and I replied that I wouldn’t have either.

It has been a tumultuous period in our country’s history that has brought me to this House to serve the people of my electorate and this nation. It was a challenging campaign for the Southland electorate, but they handled it with aplomb, and I particularly want to thank my campaign chair Jeff Grant who stepped up to lead the campaign when I was selected.

I also want to thank each and every member of the campaign team and all of the hard working volunteers, who gave of their time freely because they believe that the National Party will deliver the best for the people of my region and of this country.

I also want to acknowledge and thank the Honourable Judith Collins who stepped up to lead our party and our campaign at short notice, and did a very good job of doing so.

I would like to acknowledge my wife Silvia who is the bedrock of our family. She saw something in me 20-odd years ago when I had nothing to my name and she has stuck by me through thick and thin since. She is an incredible woman and I am very lucky to have her by my side. Her parents will be watching this speech on the internet from Germany and I want to say thank you to them as well for all of their support over the years.

I also want to thank my children Estrella, Moritz and Soleil for all of your support and for being great human beings.

I also wish to acknowledge my mother Bronwen who sits in the gallery tonight and to acknowledge her long and varied and often very challenging journey, which has led tonight to seeing one of her eight children making a maiden speech in Parliament. Who would have thought Mum, eh?

I was motivated to offer to serve because I have vividly experienced the impact of decisions made in this House as a child, and given the challenges facing our country, I will be a voice for pragmatism, of ambition for our nation, but also of caution.

I was a child in the ‘80s when a Labour Government embarked on a radical programme of restructuring the economy. Change was needed, but I can tell this House that change needs to be managed carefully. Those changes in the ‘80s had a huge impact on the rural sector and many farmers lost their farms or experienced significant hardship.

My step-father worked on farms but lost his job during that period and struggled to find more work. I recall my family going hungry during those times and I remember days on end when we had no food to eat, and going to the river to look for blackberries so we had food.

For a variety of reasons my younger brother and I chose to leave home when I was 11 and he was nine. We planned to get to the goldfields in Central Otago, live in old mining huts and make a living panning for gold. We managed to get from Hawke’s Bay to Wellington, but were stymied by Cook Strait, and ended up living for a bit over a week on the streets of Wellington, huddling together for warmth on cold rainy nights in flax bushes while we tried to figure out how to cross the Cook Strait to the South Island.

Let me tell you that Wellington is a cold, hard place when you are a child living on its streets. I remember this every day when I come to this House, and it serves to remind me that while I am here I need to do my best to ensure the policies that go through this House do not have unintended consequences that hurt our country’s children.

I am a Kiwi through and through and very proud of my country. One of my ancestors was a gold miner in Central Otago, my paternal grandfather played cricket for New Zealand and was a successful Wellington businessman, my maternal grandfather was a Captain in the New Zealand Army fighting in North Africa and Greece during the Second World War who suffered severe war injuries but went on to found a successful business in Auckland on his return.

As I look around the walls of this House, I see the names of theatres of war where New Zealanders have served, including Egypt and North Africa where my grandfather served. Walking the corridors in this House I have also come across the photograph of another ancestor I recently learned about, a great-great uncle by the name of the Honourable Bill Fox who served in the cabinet of Walter Nash’s Government.

A number of my forebears were successful in their lives, but this did not carry through to my generation. I say this as a salutary lesson that the success of each generation is the challenge and responsibility of that generation. The same is true for our country, our success in the past is not a guarantee of success tomorrow and we must all work both carefully and ambitiously to continue and grow our country’s success.

I have both a practical and a professional background, and a background in both rural and urban New Zealand.

In my younger days in the Hawke’s Bay, where I was born, I’ve cleaned water troughs, drenched sheep, driven tractors, picked apples, pruned pine trees, picked up thousands of hay bales and driven them around the countryside stacking them into hay sheds.

As a teenager I went to high school in Auckland. I should say that my high school career was ultimately unsuccessful as I left school without university entrance, and spent a number of years in the school of hard knocks.

I was fortunate to have a lot to do with the Māori community growing up and it fostered a deep interest in our country’s history and the Treaty of Waitangi, to the extent that I first came to Parliament as a teenager to interview an MP about its place in New Zealand.

I helped build small companies both in New Zealand and overseas and experienced the challenges of building and managing teams and making sure both the staff and the bills get paid, all the while dealing with seemingly endless regulations while making sure the job got done.

That ultimately prompted me to study law as I realised that law was in effect the DNA of our society. I went to university as an adult student with small children and managed to get an honours degree in law with children climbing on my shoulders while I studied, maybe proving that failure at school doesn’t necessarily mean an absence of academic ability.

While at university (and afterwards) I also volunteered as a firefighter – a rewarding and sometimes challenging role being part of a close knit team being of service to the community, and I have spent time in the Army Reserves. It has emphasised to me the value of volunteers in our communities who do so much to weave the fabric that binds our communities together and makes them work.

I built my own law practice from scratch in Otago and Southland and made it a success.

Mr Speaker, we are seeing a contest of ideas and ideals both globally and nationally, and I strongly believe that the narrative of hard work and self-responsibility being the surest path to success is vital for the future of our country. We all need to do our bit to grow the pie rather than trying to divide it into ever smaller pieces.

I know from my life experience that if parents don’t have jobs, kids go hungry. So it is one of the key responsibilities of government to create a policy framework that empowers businesses, that empowers employers and that empowers employees.

I believe strongly in the success of our primary sector to ensure domestic food security, employment and export earnings.

Tourism is also a hugely important part of our economy. We will need to do all we can to support the industry and its people until the borders can reopen. I would strongly encourage this Government to urgently work on opening the trans-Tasman bubble with Australia, which the scientific experts are telling us can be done safely.

Broader afield we are also witnessing conflicts brewing between big powers that haven’t been seen in a very long time, and they are right on our back doorstep in the Asia-Pacific. I believe we will need to carefully manage our economic and security interests in an increasingly unstable geopolitical environment where nationalism and protectionism seem to be growing apace.

In particular we will need to proactively advocate for the continuation of the rules based multi-lateral trading framework that is crucial to our economic survival as a small trading nation at the bottom of the Pacific.

The Southland electorate is an incredible place – I think it may well be the most incredible electorate in the world.

It has the snowy peaks and deep glacial carved lakes region of Glenorchy and Queenstown, the historic old gold mining regions of Clyde, Alexandra, and Roxburgh that now produce fruit and wine and electricity.

There is some of the Catlins, the southernmost part of the mainland with some of the best big wave surfing in the country at Papatowai and a great community heart in Owaka.

Then there is the heartland of the South, the land of milk and honey that is West Otago from the likes of Clinton, Tapanui, and Moa Flat, through to the central heartland Southland towns of Gore, Mataura and Winton. This is the productive machine of the South with hard working pragmatic folk who get on with things and do an amazing job of both looking after the land and producing products for our country to sell on the world stage.

Out towards Western Southland is the land of big country, big skies, big mountains and big fjords. I am course talking about Te Anau, Manapouri and most of Fiordland including Milford Sound.

It is a breath taking and incredibly diverse region.

But the biggest treasure are the people who are folk with big hearts, are very hard working, and are very sharp, but don’t tend to boast about it to the rest of the world.

And that reminds me of the Maori Whakataukī (proverb).

He aha te mea nui o te ao?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world?

It is the people, the people, the people.

I am proud to be a representative of the National Party.

The National Party has a philosophy based on true concern for the needs and aspirations of each individual, and is the party best suited to meet future challenges because its roots and its philosophy is visionary, reformist, purposeful, and based on an understanding of human qualities and aspirations.

A strong and successful country depends on strong and successful communities, and those strong and successful communities in turn depend on strong and successful families – however those are constituted – which, in turn, depend on strong and successful individuals.

The State is not an end in itself, but is a means of helping people achieve their own goals.

If there is one thing we can be sure of it is that the future will be unpredictable. We need to provide the systems of government that enable our individuals, our families, our communities, and ultimately our nation, to be successful.

All citizens are equal before the law and, therefore, all individuals have an equal opportunity to develop their inherent talents and pursue their aspirations.

The National Party also has deep roots in the New Zealand Liberal Party, which was the first organised political party in this country. I raise this because the National Party has a very long history of taking care of the vulnerable while also building the framework for every New Zealander to realise their own aspirations.

The Liberal Government established the basis of the later welfare state with old-age pensions. In 1893 the Liberal Government extended voting rights to women, making New Zealand the first country in the world to enact universal female suffrage.

The Liberal Party was also the party of Sir Āpirana Ngata, who served as the MP for Eastern Māori for nearly 40 years and made a vital contribution to the revival of Māori in the early twentieth century. He used his knowledge of the Pākehā world and his professional skills to assist his people to develop and farm their land while also encouraging Māori to preserve their culture and maintain their own identity.

We are a nation of adventurers, of risk-takers, of nation builders, of dreamers and doers – people who have collectively chosen to make our home under the roof of the Southern skies and its constellation of stars. All of us come with that adventurous DNA, whether it traces back hundreds of years to our ancestors, or whether we personally made that journey to travel to these islands ourselves.

Many of our ancestors navigated their way to these islands looking towards and guided by those stars, and now some of our countrymen and women launch fiery rockets into those starry skies from Mahia Peninsula in the Hawke’s Bay. They embody the sense of vision and ambition that we need to foster and celebrate in this country.

I know Mahia well from surfing the kinetic energy of its ocean swells as a youngster, and it was a remote place then that was about as far removed from space-going rockets as you could get. Now that is where rockets launch satellites regularly into the stars and is a perfect reflection of how the future can quickly become our reality with the right people, ambitious dreams, resources, hard work and the right policy frameworks.

We are a nation, Mr Speaker, that came together and agreed on making sacrifices to eliminate Covid-19 from these shores to the best of our ability. Let us also be a nation that comes together and says we are a place where our children feel valued and welcomed, and can realise incredible opportunities that harness their talents, hopes and dreams.

Let us be a nation where our children get the best start in life by receiving the best education facilitated with the help of cutting-edge technology.

Let us be a nation that comes together and says we can have the best and most effective healthcare services in the world because a healthy population means a successful population.

Let us be a nation where the best and the brightest in the world dare to live, dare to dream, dare to aspire, dare to action those dreams, and dare to be and do their best.

Let us be a nation that encourages the growth of technology, leading the world into the stars, oceans, land, biotech, nanotechnology, fintech and others. For technology is how our species has lifted itself up and achieved its best, and we have the tools and the space in this remote yet hyper-connected nation to be at the forefront of some of the best technology, which can solve our biggest issues, from health, to education, to housing, to climate resilience.

Let us be a nation that is ambitious in its infrastructure development and has a time horizon looking ahead 20 to 30 years, so that the next generation has the tools it needs to be world leaders.

Let us be a nation that comes together and looks to its abundance of land and resources, and enables our people to solve their own housing needs by building many more warm and healthy homes.

Let us be one of the most productive and effective nations and encourage and celebrate the people, businesses and policies that can make that a reality.

Let us be a people who rejoice in our great fortune to be fellow travellers under these southern skies, to celebrate our great collective heart and our practical pragmatic minds, to treasure and celebrate the achievements of our people.

For there is more that binds us together than divides us in this land.

It is with a great deal of optimism and hope that I look towards the future of this great country, and the great region that I am so fortunate to represent in this Parliament.

I look forward to making my contribution in this House by helping bend the arc of history towards the realisation of the vision and ambition that will ensure our people can make the most of their gifts and talents and are motivated to give their very best for themselves, their families, their communities, and our country.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Yes Sir Humphrey


Penny Simmonds’ maiden speech


National MP for Invercargill Penny Simmonds delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Oku Rangatira

Nga mihi nui

Ki a koutou katoa

Karanga mai karanga mai

Mr Speaker and parliamentary colleagues, I proudly represent the people of the Invercargill electorate, which takes in the communities of Invercargill, Bluff, Stewart Island, Riverton, Tuatapere, Otautau, Wyndham and Edendale. Its boundary to the east is the Catlins Conservation Park, to the west it extends into Fiordland National Park and to the south it takes in Rakiura National Park.

It is a region of stunning rugged beauty, important rural and manufacturing industries and innovative, hardworking people.

It is a region that produces its wealth from farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, tourism and aluminium smelting. Much of this wealth comes from the consistency of our rainfall, which, despite the often unflattering comments by the misinformed about our climate, is the lifeblood of our industries. As our famous Mayor, Sir Tim Shadbolt prophesized many years ago, water will one day be more valuable than oil!

My foray into politics has perhaps been more of a surprise to me than to many of my supporters. After several decades of involvement in the communities of Invercargill, and Southland, many saw my move into politics as logical or even inevitable, however it was anything but for me.

I loved my work at the Southern Institute of Technology, SIT, and in various community organisations such as the Community Trust, Hockey Southland and in the implementation of the Southland Regional Development Strategy.

However the foundation industries of our Southern community are coming to critical junctions, where decisions will be made that will impact on several generations of Southerners, and I want to be part of that decision-making, not just subjected to them.

I would, however, Mr Speaker, like to first refer to the influences of my early years growing up on a farm in Riversdale in Northern Southland. Ours was not a traditional farming family with land passed down through generations. My parents’ first farm was a returned serviceman’s settlement block, acquired after my father served in the Army in World War II and after many years of working as a shearer. My father was the oldest of five siblings and when his own father died at a young age, my father, at the age of only 14 years, became the family breadwinner. This experience, and the kindness shown to him and opportunities given to him by many people in the Northern Southland rural communities, shaped the values of his and our lives. He carried a deep sense of fairness and looking out for others, until his own relatively early death.

My mother came from a large farming family of, well to be blunt, fairly stroppy, high achieving females. She, like her sisters excelled in many sports, with three of her sisters playing hockey for New Zealand, two of them captaining the New Zealand team. My father, and indeed most of the male in-laws in our extended family had to quickly adapt to being regularly thrashed at tennis, golf, bowls or any other sport they might have the misfortune to compete against their wives in. This laid the foundation for a highly competitive spirit and instilled the notion of “girls can do anything” long before it became a popular slogan. It also supported a number of us in subsequent generations to achieve national honours in hockey.

My mother was also a skilled pianist. She had to turn down a scholarship to study beyond her teaching letters at Trinity College in London. Due to her family’s financial circumstances they couldn’t afford it, and her mother was in a wheelchair. So her duty was to help the household. She did continue to use her skills as a music teacher and in local choirs and both she and my father, who also played several instruments instilled in us a love of music.

The one element that stood us apart from most of the community was our oldest sibling being intellectually handicapped as a result of decisions made during a difficult birth. This extended our world into the families, institutions and bureaucracy of dealing with disabilities. This has continued for our family with the birth of our youngest daughter, Briony, who has Down’s Syndrome.

Apart from that, my upbringing was pretty standard fare in a Southland rural community. We were neither wealthy, nor poor. We understood the need to work hard but also to support those who needed it. We immersed ourselves in the community through school, sport, music, church and social activities. We learnt the value of family and community engagement and support.

It was that understanding of the value of interconnectivity with community which drove me in my 30 year career at the Southern Institute of Technology.

I started as Chief Executive when the then Southland Polytechnic, although financially stable, had experienced two consecutive years of declining student numbers. With only 1400 equivalent fulltime students it didn’t have far to fall to reach an unsustainable level and risk closure.

Our SIT team, over the 23 years I was Chief Executive, secured the support of our local community to implement a number of innovative schemes and initiatives which impacted positively on individuals, their families, local industries and organisations as well as the community itself.

Our Zero Fees Scheme, supported by Community funders, Local Authorities and many individual businesses, and championed by my good friend and mentor, His Worship, Sir Tim, was a pivotal community initiative. Mayor Tim’s account of my devising the scheme in the shower, has an element of truth to it. I did after all, at that time, have a very young family of three daughters and uninterrupted time to think and plan was a rarity, although I can assure you, Mayor Tim was not privy to my daily ablutions.

Our Zero Fees scheme was not a lone initiative. It was part of an overall strategy to rejuvenate the economic, social and cultural elements of our community after the devastation of the 1980s which we were still suffering the effects of.

The establishment of a strategic partnership with Te Wānanga O Aotearoa in 2001 through the assistance of two other people pivotal in my career, the late Koro Riki Cherrington and Ngāi Tahu kaumātua Michael Skerrett enabled a raising of awareness, knowledge and capability in tikanga and te reo Māori in our communities. The Wānanga gained many friends when they were large, wealthy and influential. However, the founding members, Rongo Wetere and his family, and other early managers of the Wānanga never forgot that we worked with and supported the Wānanga when they were small and struggling.

A Woolf Fisher fellowship enabled me to visit a number of innovative educational institutions in various parts of the world, including the Canadian distance tertiary education delivery in Nova Scotia, using technology to overcome the tyranny of geographic isolation. Modelling this lead to SIT developing its own distance learning delivery faculty, SIT2LRN, which has proven to be invaluable, enabling SIT to deliver cost-effective, quality tertiary education and training throughout New Zealand and across the world, as well as blended on-site delivery and seamless delivery for SIT students during the 2020 Covid lockdown.

SIT’s international strategy, brought to our local communities international graduates with diversity, vibrancy and skills to address industry skills shortages. Again working with the community, SIT brought the international students into Invercargill to study, not Auckland as many other institutions did, simply clipping the financial ticket. The need to work for and integrate with the local community was always top-of-mind.

I am extremely proud of what SIT has been able to achieve for Invercargill and Southland over the two decades and more I was Chief Executive, and my reason for recalling these achievements today is to underpin why I made a decision to stand for the Invercargill MP role.

I believe in the value and importance of our communities in the south and I have unashamedly fought to strengthen and support our people, industries, organisations and communities in my various positions at SIT, and in other community leadership roles I have held.

At times my parochialism and intransient attitude to changes imposed from Wellington may have been interpreted as disruptive or even cantankerous. But I learnt many years ago how important it is to push back against “Wellington knows best”.

I looked back to the development of the Tiwai Aluminium Smelter in 1971, the economic development brainchild of long-serving Invercargill Mayor Neil Watson and then MP Ralph Hanan, set up in conjunction with the Manapouri power station, and currently under threat, and with it the jobs and livelihoods of several thousand Southlanders and their families.

I also looked to our Southland rural sector, the economic bedrock of Invercargill and Southland’s wealth and prosperity, which survived the reforms of the 1980s and pulled itself back to a powerhouse once more, ensuring that Southland punches well above its weight consistently contributing around 15 per cent to NZ’s GDP with less than 1.2 per cent of New Zealand’s population.

The South’s rural sector is justifiably proud of its long history of economic success. But our rural sector is facing significant threats that seem to ignore, or not understand, the unique climatic and geographic challenges of the southern farmer, and give no credit to the incredible progress already being made by farmers working together with scientists to improve environmental outcomes.

And I look to the threat of SIT, the organisation I had the privilege to lead for over 23 years, losing its autonomy and innovation, being swallowed up in the ideological mega-merger of institutes of technology and polytechnics.

While there may be better alternatives to the status quo in each of these industries, I know that the decisions must be driven by Southlanders to ensure the benefits stay in the south. The decisions must also be pragmatic, science, technology and engineering based, not reacting to emotive sound bites from people who don’t understand either economics or science.

Ngai Tāhu’s Murihiku regeneration project provides the opportunity for a partnership to drive our future from the south. As Tā Tipene O’Regan said recently: “we are facing a once-in-many-generations opportunity to reset the way we manage energy”.

We need to ensure that the clean energy from Manapouri and the abundance of freshwater in the south is harnessed to provide jobs and prosperity for the south. However, the Crown’s plans to spend over half a billion dollars on upgrading transmission lines to take power north does not fill me with confidence that they share our vision for the south’s clean energy and freshwater.

It is these important local issues and pending decisions that led me to stand for the Invercargill electorate at a time when my role at SIT could no longer achieve the things that I considered important to Invercargill. I saw an opportunity to further our community’s needs and support our farmers and industries as the local MP.

In securing the role of MP for Invercargill, I extend my thanks and gratitude to the Invercargill National Party executive, my campaign team, the regional chair and the hundreds of members and volunteers whose hard work made this transition possible for me, and I thank my caucus colleagues, and in particular our leader, the Honourable Judith Collins, who have helped ease my way into the intriguing world of politics.

I also acknowledge my long suffering family, who for years have put up with me being away on business for significant family events like birthdays and anniversaries, and despite this have encouraged me in my new endeavour. My thanks to my husband Marty, twin daughters Alex and Whitney, their spouses Kurt and Rowan, our little mokopuna Flynn, Lily and Harrison, and of course our very special youngest daughter Briony. Briony’s support person, Jicinta Veale, must also be acknowledged as playing a large part in enabling me to do what I do.

A career politician has never been my aim, but then a career chief executive wasn’t my aim either, and I lasted 23 years in that role. In both instances I have been driven by what the roles enable me to do, rather than the role being an end in itself.

The position of Chief Executive of SIT enabled me to do what I loved – contribute to the economic, social and cultural development and wellbeing of our southern region through the benefits SIT provided for our students, their families, our industries and our community.

It was an honour and a privilege to work in tandem, with the community to implement many innovative initiatives and I acknowledge all my SIT senior management colleagues who were instrumental in these achievements. In particular I thank those in the gallery here today still supporting me, Bharat Guha, and Teri McClelland, as well as my good friend and colleague Patsy Eade and the many supportive SIT Council members I had over the years.

I will always be indebted to our famous Mayor, Sir Tim Shadbolt, who was with me through these golden years at SIT as well as the very influential Ngai Tāhu and SIT kaumātua Michael Skerrett.

I will be driven in this new role as Member of Parliament for Invercargill to continue my advocacy for the people, industries, organisations and communities of the Invercargill electorate.

I come to the role with the experiences of a farmer’s daughter and a farmer’s wife, a mother and a grandmother, an educationalist and a soldier for several years in the Territorials, a businesswoman, a community leader, and a sportsperson.

But most of all, I come as a passionate Southlander who will not stand by and allow the place that I proudly call my home to be adversely impacted upon by poor political decisions. Our farmers, rural communities, SIT, our productive land, fresh water and clean energy are worth standing up for.

In concluding, I will chant a waiata written for me by the late Koro Riki Cherrington. It refers to the people and rivers of the south and the pathway of the whales. Murihiku, the southern region is of course the important and powerful tail of the whale of Aotearoa. Something best not to get in the way of.

Kia Ora. Thank you.

Christopher Luxon’s maiden speech


National MP for Botany Christopher Luxon delivered his maiden speech yesterday:

E te mana whakawā. E nga mana, E ngā reo, E nga mataawaka.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa e tau nei.

Mr Speaker, I rise today mindful of the privilege and responsibility it is to serve in this House of Representatives, and also as the last of the new intake of MPs in the 53rd Parliament to give their maiden speech. And while some time has passed, I want to congratulate all my parliamentary colleagues for their election success. I also want to acknowledge the work that all the parliamentary staff do to ensure this House and our democracy functions well for New Zealanders.

I am honoured to be the member for Botany. Because it is one of the most diverse communities in the country and is full of hard-working, determined and aspirational people. I want to thank the people of Botany for their trust. I will work hard for you.

Politics, contrary to what people say, is actually the ultimate team sport so I want to thank my tremendous team of local volunteers and supporters, many of whom are here today. In particular, the incredible Katja Kershaw, Lisa Ambridge, Jake O’Flaherty, Graeme Rayner, our Executive Committee and our outstanding Campaign Team.

To my children, William and Olivia, thank you for being so supportive, understanding and encouraging as I take on this new challenge. Our future is in great hands with your generation coming through.

And most of all, thank you to my wife Amanda. She is my best friend. We met when we were 15 and she is the most extraordinary person I know – strong, wise, smart, and funny.

Botany Electorate

Mr Speaker, MPs in this House represent different communities, and all of them together make up Aotearoa New Zealand. Botany makes a special contribution to our Kiwi mosaic.

From our mana whenua with their long connection to our land and sea; to the northern suburbs of coastal Cockle Bay, Shelley Park and Botany Downs; to the converted farmland and home to New Zealanders in Dannemora, Sommerville, Shamrock Park and East Tamaki Heights; to Flat Bush and Chapel Downs – some of the fastest growing residential areas in the country; and our proud Pasifika community in the southwest in Rongomai and Clover Park.

Botany’s diversity makes it special. Over half its population was born overseas and New Zealand is a much richer place economically, socially and culturally because of these communities. But whether you have lived 40 years in Cockle Bay or four years in Flat Bush, Botany people have all worked incredibly hard to get to where they are. It is that desire to get ahead, for ourselves, our families and our community, and our country that unites us regardless of our age, ethnicity, language and faith.

But like most districts, Botany has its challenges. East Auckland is already bigger than Dunedin and Tauranga, yet it is chronically under-served by public services. On behalf of those who voted for me, and of those who didn’t, I am committed to solving these problems.


Mr Speaker, let me share a little of where I come from.

My ancestors came to New Zealand as Irish miners and hotel keepers; they came as Scottish stonemasons and bakers; and they came as English farmers, labourers and fishermen. They were new New Zealanders too.

I remember and honour in this special place, my late grandparents, Bert and Clare Turnbull, and Fred and Joan Luxon. I thank my brothers and all my family members for their love and support. Nothing is more precious than family.

From my father – Graham Luxon – I learned to set big goals and to work hard to achieve them; to have a positive attitude and to never let your circumstances define you. He left school and worked his way up from sales rep to General Manager. He’s a real life MacGyver and a very present father. His enthusiasm and positivity are truly infectious.

From my mother, Kathleen, I learned about people, perspectives, relationships and I inherited my sense of humour. Mum came to university the same year as I did, to do a Diploma in Social Work. She has become a highly respected psychotherapist and counsellor. She taught me to walk across the room, to engage with people different from me, to see both sides of an issue and, in doing so, to broaden my horizons.


Mr Speaker, it seems it has become acceptable to stereotype those who have a Christian faith in public life as being “extreme”, so I will say a little about my Christian faith. It has anchored me, given my life purpose and shaped my values, and it puts me in the context of something bigger than myself. My faith has a strong influence on who I am and how I relate to people. I see Jesus showing compassion, tolerance and care for others. He doesn’t judge, discriminate or reject people. He loves unconditionally.

Through history we have seen Christians making a huge difference by entering public life. Christian abolitionists fought against slavery. Others educated the poor and challenged the rich to share their wealth and help others less fortunate. The world is a better place for Christians like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King and Kate Sheppard contributing to public life.

My faith is personal to me. It is not in itself a political agenda. I believe no religion should dictate to the state and no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others. As MPs we serve the common cause of all New Zealanders – not one religion, not one group, and not one interest. A person should not be elected because of their faith and nor should they be rejected because of it. Democracy thrives on diverse thinking and different world views.


Mr Speaker, until now, my career has been in business.

My first job after leaving university was at the global multi-national, Unilever – a huge company that is bigger than many countries. I had amazing opportunities and a truly global business education. I spent 16 years overseas working in developed and developing countries, turning businesses around and working alongside some very smart people. I realised that down-to-earth Kiwis could be as good as the Oxbridge set from England, Ivy League educated Americans, and born-confident Australians.

I came home to New Zealand and had the great privilege of leading our most iconic company – Air New Zealand – for seven years. My team, many of whom are here today, turned a good New Zealand company into one that was truly world-class and globally acclaimed.

Over my career I have come to believe more and more strongly that successful businesses have a critical responsibility to engage on the economic, social and environmental issues a country faces. Making a difference to people’s daily lives is a shared responsibility for government, community and also business.

In my time, Air New Zealand employed 12,500 people. It was a cross-section of New Zealand life. As CEO, I had the opportunity to get things done and demonstrate that a business could do well by doing good.

For example, we decided that New Zealand’s shameful record of family violence was a workplace issue as well as a social issue. So we introduced a three-week paid family violence leave policy for victims.

The pay equity gap at Air New Zealand was reduced to zero and we introduced a 26-week paid parental leave policy. Senior Leadership Team positions held by women went from 16 per cent to 44 per cent.

We worked hard to grow career pathways and internships for young Māori and Pasifika. We worked hard to champion and mainstream te reo and Tā Moko. We earned gender and Rainbow tick certifications.

Air New Zealand was also a foundation member of the Climate Leaders Coalition. 100 per cent of our company car fleet became fully electric – and that was over five years ago.

When the business delivered superior commercial returns we shared those profits with our employees through a Company Performance Bonus. The principle was simple: when Air New Zealand did well, all our staff should do well too.

Mr Speaker, I understand, of course, that a country is not a company. However, New Zealanders look to the Government to get things done. It’s not good enough saying you’re going to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but not do it. It’s not good enough saying you’re going to reduce child poverty but not actually do it. Talking about it gets you a headline but only doing it makes a difference. I have entered politics because I want to make a difference, to solve problems and to get things done.


Mr Speaker, New Zealand’s ability to become more prosperous and to enjoy a higher quality of life as a nation depends on the size and output of our economic engine. Just as growing Air New Zealand provided the opportunity for all staff to benefit, I believe that it’s growing New Zealand’s economy that will provide the opportunity for all New Zealanders to benefit.

However, I believe that right now, New Zealand’s economic engine needs major modifications and serious upgrading. We are underpowered because our economy for the last 30 years has been suffering from a productivity disease. Economic growth has largely been driven by having more people in the country and more people working harder.

We need to work smarter, not harder. We can do this by building and unleashing genuinely world-class export businesses, step-changing education and labour skills, and delivering infrastructure better. Improving productivity is the single biggest thing we can do to improve our standard of living.

Some Kiwi firms are succeeding internationally but, frankly, New Zealand needs many more of them. Only two of our Top 10 firms on the NZX compete in global markets at scale. Yet New Zealand has many opportunities on which it can build its future. We are well located to access the rapidly rising middle class and urbanising populations in the Americas, Asia and Australia. The question is: will we take advantage of and fully exploit and convert these opportunities, or will they just pass us by?

New Zealand has not invested in skills, R&D and innovation to nearly the same extent as the high-performing, small advanced economies of the world. New Zealand’s rapidly falling international performance in the basics of reading, maths and science is extremely concerning. I worry not because of a graph on a league table but because of the strong link between educational attainment and higher wages. Higher wages and greater job opportunities underpin the choices that New Zealand families have in how they live their lives.

Automation technologies, which span advanced robotics, machine learning and AI, will unleash unimaginable change in our society and our working lives. When I chaired the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, we looked very closely at both the opportunities and challenges greater automation presents New Zealand. It has the potential to help us work smarter and seriously improve our competitiveness and productivity. However, we are not currently geared-up for it. We need to build a bold plan with real actions to harness the opportunities and to ensure that large parts of our society are not left behind. The urgency can’t be understated.

Let me also talk briefly about infrastructure, which is at a crisis point. The issues are multi-generational and systemic. We need to reset and develop a new model to power the country into the 2040s rather than continuing to Band-Aid and No.8 wire our current system.

Infrastructure is not just about dams and transmission lines and highways. It’s about nation building. It’s about how we see our future. We need an overarching vision, new funding and financing mechanisms, upgraded legislation, and better project management and execution. Investing in world-class infrastructure that effectively connects, transports and develops information and ideas, people and products, is critical to New Zealand’s creation of wealth and the distribution of prosperity.

National Party

Mr Speaker, I am a proud member of the National Party. I believe that positive, practical centre-right principles and policies are best to navigate the challenges and opportunities that New Zealand faces.

I’m proud to be here under the leadership of Judith Collins and, like my colleagues, have built my personal and professional life on National Party values of freedom and choice, rights and responsibilities, limited yet better government, competitive enterprise, and equal opportunity and citizenship.

I believe in tackling inequality and working to find that balance between encouraging and rewarding hard work and innovation, while always ensuring there is social mobility and a safety net. Every New Zealander who cares about other New Zealanders understands what this means.

No matter your situation, I believe in a New Zealand that backs Kiwis to work hard, to convert opportunities, to create prosperity for themselves, their families, their communities and our country. Because that is how we will make our country stronger.

But I also believe that governments must make powerful and targeted interventions on behalf of those with the most complex and challenged lives. With the right resources at the right time, in the right place, the State can help people make positive and sustained changes that enable them to rise up and realise their potential.


Mr Speaker, regardless of the different political views we hold in this House, New Zealanders can all agree that we are incredibly fortunate to live in this country.

I believe, more than ever, that if we make the right decisions, New Zealand has a great future ahead of us. We can do better, be more prosperous, and more ambitious – if we think strategically, solve problems, deliver results and get things done. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity and I don’t believe other New Zealanders want it either.

Like most New Zealanders, I have sat around the kitchen table talking to my kids about the subjects they’re choosing to study, or talking to Amanda about the care of elderly or sick friends. I understand that the choices that every New Zealand family has at such times are constrained by their circumstances. I’ve come to politics because I want those choices to be better for more New Zealand families. It’s by being more successful as a country that we can ensure that those kitchen table decisions include wider choices and better options for all New Zealanders.

The choices we all have, whether at the kitchen table or the boardroom table, are never made in isolation. The resilience and wealth of a student flat, a family home, a small business or a big corporate are all affected by how New Zealand is doing as a country. It’s my absolute belief that New Zealand can do better and when it does, New Zealanders will do better too.

We will ultimately get the country – the economy, society, and environment – we deserve, and I think we deserve the very best.

Mr Speaker, that’s the work that I am committing myself to today, and for as long as I am in this House, I intend to represent the people of Botany and to serve New Zealand to the very best of my ability. Thank you.

Anything but kind


Court documents have provided National with fuel to renew calls for Speaker Trevor Mallard to resign:

The legal threats used by Trevor Mallard to silence a Parliamentary staffer who he falsely accused of rape make him unfit to continue as Parliament’s Speaker, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says.

National has received the statement of claim by the plaintiff, lodged in the High Court as part of defamation proceedings, which alleges Mr Mallard repeated his false allegation against the staffer in public even after he was told by Parliamentary Service that it was incorrect.

The document also shows Mr Mallard, who has admitted he knew within 24 hours of making the initial claim that he made a mistake, informed the staffer, through lawyers, that he would not apologise, would not pay damages, did not accept the staffer had been defamed, would prove what he said about the staffer was true, and would defend any claim “vigorously”.

Mr Mallard, via his lawyers, said that should the staffer pursue litigation, “the question of his reputation, and his conduct, will be very much the centrepiece of any public proceeding”.

It took about 18 months before Mr Mallard finally settled with the staffer and apologised for “distress and humiliation”. The matter cost taxpayers $333,641.70 in the form of a $158,000 ex-gratia payment to settle the legal claim, $171,000 in fees to Dentons Kensington Swan and $4641.70 to Crown Law for advice to the former Deputy Speaker.

Trevor Mallard has lost the confidence of the Opposition over his handling of this matter and should not continue as Speaker of the House, Mr Bishop says.

“Trevor Mallard behaved in a threatening and bullying way. This wasn’t just a ‘mistake’, as he tried to portray it. His behaviour is unbecoming of someone whose job it is to uphold the standards and integrity of Parliament.

“He is in a position of immense power and has used this power to try and silence a former employee. The irony is that he has exhibited the exact behaviour the Francis review was commissioned to stamp out: bullying.”

National has sought the leave of Parliament to debate a motion of no confidence in Mr Mallard on several occasions this term, but they have been continually blocked by Labour.

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins wrote to the Prime Minister on March 16 to inform her of this latest information regarding Mr Mallard.

“The Prime Minister and her Labour MPs need to ask themselves whether this is the sort of behaviour they’re prepared to keep defending,” Mr Bishop says.

“In any other workplace in New Zealand, Trevor Mallard would be sacked. What’s good for any other workplace should be good for Parliament as well.”

Making the accusation without proof was wrong.

Failing to apologise as soon as he knew he was wrong made it worse.

Allowing the legal process to continue when he knew he was wrong compounded the wrongdoing.

That the legal process included threats should the accused man pursue litigation is unacceptable behaviour from anyone let alone the Speaker.

This could all have been avoided had Mallard apologised as soon as he knew his accusation was groundless.

It could have been avoided had PM Jacinda Ardern done the right thing by seeking his resignation months ago.

Allowing the matter to fester is anything but kind to the man who was wrongly accused and who lost his job as a result of that.

It is also anything but kind to the taxpayer who has already had to pick up the bill for legal costs and could well face even heavier payments for more legal fees and compensation.

The PM says she always reads letters from children. She should not only read but act on this one:

The transcript of Bishop’s speech is after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

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