Word of the day


Snecklifter – one who goes from door to door, first footing, on New Year’s Eve; a burglar or ghost; a person who pokes his/her head into a pub to see if there’s anyone who might stand him/her a drink.


Quotes of the month


I wonder if the lesser importance the Maori world-view places on biological parents – mothers in particular – is actually an adult world-view? The world through the Maori child’s lens may be quite different. – Lindsay Mitchell

Political neutrality and trustworthiness are bottom lines for the public service. The matters that have been raised go to trust and confidence in a key public service agency. – Peter Hughes

Understanding how poor practice becomes embedded or normalised in organisational operations needs further study. During a global pandemic, when the state enjoys greatly expanded powers, this is arguably more urgent than ever. – Barbara Allen & James Gluck

In the eyes of many political journalists, being a Christian automatically categorises him as a weirdo and possibly a fundamentalist right-winger. But in the 2018 census, 37 per cent of New Zealanders identified as Christian, and my guess is (in fact, logic dictates) that they span the political spectrum, supporting Labour and even the Greens as well as conservative parties. “Christian” is not a synonym for loony, wild-eyed extremist or tragic Gloriavale cultist. – Karl du Fresne

Trapping politicians, baiting them, trying to catch them out and make them look silly, hypocritical or indecisive … that’s what now passes for political journalism. And of course the journalists always come out on top, because they can set themselves up as judge and jury, are responsible to no one, pay no penalty when they get things wrong  (as they frequently do) and always have the last word.

What’s more, they’re highly selective about whose feet they hold to the fire. Luxon wields no real power at this stage of his political career, yet he’s subjected to far tougher treatment than the sainted prime minister, who clearly enjoys immunity from difficult questions. But most New Zealanders still believe in giving people (even conservative politicians) a fair go, and the media are probably doing far more damage to themselves than to Luxon. – Karl du Fresne

As a defender of free speech, I sometimes feel like a man falling through a collapsing building. Just when you think you’ve finally reached rock bottom, the floor gives way again – Toby Young

In a rational world, this letter would have been regarded as uncontroversial. Surely the argument about whether to teach schoolchildren scientific or religious explanations for the origins of the universe and the ascent of man was settled by the Scopes trial in 1925? Apart from the obvious difficulty of prioritising one religious viewpoint in an ethnically diverse society like New Zealand (what about Christianity, Islam and Hinduism?), there is the problem that Maori schoolchildren, already among the least privileged in the country, will be at an even greater disadvantage if their teachers patronise them by saying there’s no need to learn the rudiments of scientific knowledge. Knowing about Rangi and Papa won’t get you into medical school – Toby Young

Remember, the only thing necessary for the triumph of intellectual intolerance is for believers in free speech to do nothing. Toby Young

You know your parents are carrying this massive weight from the very beginning. They never let on to us, but we knew they were carrying this massive, massive weight always, it never goes away. Toni Street

I’m a big believer in sharing those experiences. What people have to know, if you have a tragedy like that, there will always be things in life that you can enjoy. There will always be moments that you will make you happy,” Street said.

There are always things to look forward to if you’re prepared to pick yourself up and carry on. – Toni Street

Yes, Parliament is rough and robust, which is the price we pay for a country which actually has pretty clean politics. If I had the choice between journalists who ask nasty questions and who write nasty stories that sometimes hurt a bit, and a country that turns a blind eye to the abuse of power and corruption, I’d much rather have it the way we do. Nick Smith

The electric car is absolutely useless if we’re having to generate the power from burning coal. We have to expand the generation very significantly if we’re to displace the substantive use of fossil fuels in the transport and industrial sectors. – Nick Smith

You can’t get all uptight about climate change and in the next breath say, ‘look, I don’t want wind turbines, I don’t want to see geothermal power, and there’s even been opposition to solar panels because they do have an aesthetic effect – I say that you should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Nick Smith

For the best part of my political career, we saw the rise of democracies around the world, but in the last 10 years democracy has been going in the opposite direction.

“I think right now we really need to look at the US where the polarisation of their politics is making their country weaker.” – Nick Smith

Good customer service these days requires you to at least look as though you care. John Bishop

Farmers have been around long enough to know that net zero emissions is more a political game than a scientifically based reality.  When senior UN officials say it’s less about the environment and more about getting rid of capitalism farmers know they need to play their political cards.  They know there are countries dying to find an excuse to put tariffs on our goods if we don’t join the ‘reduce emissions’ game.  That’s why they are spending literally millions breeding stock with fewer methane belches, creating seaweed additives to limit methane emissions and researching new grasses that help.  Afterall it will be technology, not taxes, that fixes this “problem”. – Owen Jennings

The economy is a complex system. As system gurus point out “Fiddling with a complex system usually makes things worse”.  Rather than fiddling in ignorance, the principle behind the Hippocratic oath is better.  Just as doctors are obliged; “First do no harm” so too for all complex systems. Ban all fossil fuel by 2028, as some one-dimensional thinkers advocate, and billions will die, because our food supply is energy dependent. This principle applies, not to just the economy, but the environment, and the complex societal issues we face. Dr Sean Devine

Where the dominant climate narrative mainly ignores the human socio-economic system, it becomes a narrative of power and control, rather than direction and hope. Societal division inevitably follows.

In other words, much of the conversation on global warming is show-pony stuff that, in terms of what can be done, has no substance.  Without engaging with the draught horses of the economy, so to speak, those who carry the burden of change, the show-pony performance may feel good but because it alienates, it destroys. – Dr Sean Devine

These economic perspectives need to be part of our DNA, rather than the show-pony stuff.  Unless we grasp the need for holistic thinking that engages with all of society, with a wide understanding of how to go forward, division and chaos awaits us. Dr Sean Devine

An effective government would govern in a way that affirms the legal equality of all New Zealanders.

This latest twist in the iwi-roadblock saga is a glaring example of ineffective government mired in the conflicting interests of preferential treatment. – Don Brash

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right in a liberal democracy – as important, even, as the right to vote, since people’s ability to cast an informed vote depends on them first being able to participate in free and open debate about political issues and ideas.

This is one of the crucial factors that distinguishes a true liberal democracy such as New Zealand from authoritarian “pretend” democracies such as Russia, where people are allowed to vote but are denied access to information and opinion that doesn’t conform to the agenda of those in control. – Karl du Fresne

The bottom line here is that science and academia need people who challenge accepted wisdom, otherwise we would be stuck forever in the status quo. But in New Zealand in 2021, the price for deviating from approved orthodoxy is punishment and ostracism.  – Karl du Fresne

It’s the theory vs reality weakness this Government suffers so badly from. Life is not sorted on a white board and real life in the traffic light system is proof of it.  – Mike Hosking

But almost every climate summit has been branded the last chance. Setting artificial deadlines to get attention is one of the most common environmental tactics. We have actually been told for the past half-century that time has just about run out.

This message is not only spectacularly wrong but leads to panic and poor policies. – Bjorn Lomborg 

Nonetheless, after 50 years of stunningly incorrect predictions, climate campaigners, journalists and politicians still hawk an immediate apocalypse to great acclaim.

They do so by repeatedly ignoring adaptation. Headlines telling you that sea-level rise could drown 187 million people by the end of the century are foolishly ignorant. They imagine that hundreds of millions of people will remain stationary while the waters lap over their calves, hips, chests and eventually mouths. More seriously, they absurdly assume that no nation will build any sea defenses. In the real world, ever-wealthier nations will adapt and protect their citizens ever better, leading to less flooding, while surprisingly spending an ever-lower share of their GDP on flood and protection costs. Likewise, when activists tell you that climate change will make children face twice as much fire, they rely on computer models that include temperature but ignore humans. Real societies adapt and reduce fire because fires are costly. That is why global fire statistics show less burned area, not more, over the past 120 years. Perhaps not too surprisingly, the activists’ models even get the past wrong, but when has that ever stopped the righteous?

These unsubstantiated scares have real-world consequences. An academic study of young people around the world found that most suffer from “eco-anxiety,” with two-thirds scared and sad, while almost half say their worries affect their daily lives. It is irresponsible to scare youths witless when in reality the UN Climate Panel finds that even if we do nothing to mitigate climate change, the impact by the end of the century will be a reduction of an average income increase from 450 percent to 438 percent — a problem but hardly the end of the world. Bjorn Lomborg 

Activist politicians in the rich world are tinkering around the edges of addressing climate change, showering subsidies over expensive vanity projects such as electric cars, solar and wind, while the UN finds that it can’t identify an actual impact on emissions from the last decade of climate promulgations. Despite their grandiose statements of saving the world, 78 percent of rich countries’ energy still comes from fossil fuels. And as the Glasgow climate summit showed (for the 26th time), developing nations — whose emissions over the rest of this century matter most — cannot afford to similarly spend trillions on ineffective climate policies as they help their populations escape poverty.

Fifty years of panic clearly haven’t brought us anywhere near solving climate change. We need a smarter approach: one that stops scaring everyone and focuses on realistic solutions such as adaptation and innovation. Adaptation won’t make the entire cost of climate change vanish, but it will reduce it dramatically. And by funding the innovation needed to eventually make clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels, we can allow everyone — including developing countries — to sustainably go green. – Bjorn Lomborg 

The question of whether National made the right choice last week in selecting Christopher Luxon as its leader was immediately confirmed by the intense reaction from the left and much of the mainstream media.

Given the widespread squawking and flapping of wings, you might have imagined a fox had been dropped straight into the hen house. It is certainly impossible to imagine that selecting Simon Bridges to lead the party once again would have had the same effect. Graham Adams

I shouldn’t have to point out that scientists who defend their discipline and the knowledge it produces should under no circumstances be put in danger of their jobs, careers, or reputations simply for defending the toolkit of science as the best way to understand nature.

New Zealand is a wonderful place, and I love it, but many of its residents have got to stop pretending that there are multiple ways of knowing that can be taken as science! There is no special “Maori science”; there’s just “science.” – John McWhorter

Underlying the bureaucratic desire to reform language are two assumptions: first that it is the duty of bureaucrats to prevent offense to people occasioned by the use of certain words, and second that they know what words will give offence to people.

Of course, there are only certain categories of people who needed to be protected from taking offence: that is because, in the estimate of their would-be and self-appointed protectors, they are very delicate and can easily be tipped into depression or states of mind even worse than depression.

Whether it is flattering, condescending or downright insulting to consider people so delicate that they cannot hear certain words that were hitherto considered innocuous, I leave to readers to decide. For myself, I think that to regard people as psychological eggshells is demeaning to them, but other may think differently. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is in the interests of bureaucracies that the population should become hypersensitive, for then it will run to the bureaucrats for so-called protection from offensiveness.

A hypersensitive population creates endless work for the bureaucrat to do: he will have constantly to adjudicate between the claims of those who have taken, and those who have allegedly given, offence. Conflict and stoked-up anger are to him what fertilizer is to corn.

For much of the population, hypersensitivity becomes a duty, a pleasure and a sign of superiority of mind and moral awareness. In addition, it is an instrument of power. And, of course, habit becomes character. What may have started out as play-acting becomes, with repetition, deadly sincerity. – Theodore Dalrymple

People who have had to be taught what microaggressions are because they have not noticed them eventually come to believe in their reality and that that they have been subjected to them. Then they start to magnify them in their minds until they seem to them very serious: they become self-proclaimed victims.

There are two things that victims seek in our law-saturated world: revenge and compensation. Neither of these things can be achieved without the aid of a large apparatus of bureaucrats (civil-litigation lawyers are bureaucrats of superior intelligence who are usually endowed also with a modicum of imagination).

And from the point of view of political entrepreneurs, the promoters of diversity and equality of outcome, the more people who consider themselves to be victims the better: for they bring more grist to their mill. Psychotherapists ably bring up the rear, for they too need the psychologically vulnerable in order to prosper. – Theodore Dalrymple

Never mind: as every language reformer knows, the purpose of language reform is not to ameliorate hardship but to achieve, increase, and hold on to power. – Theodore Dalrymple

Distance was supposed to be dead. The first dotcom boom promised an end to distance’s tyranny, and technological substitutes for face-to-face communication have developed considerably since then.

The tyrant remains undefeated for a simple reason. Tech alternatives for business communication and interaction are not always good substitutes for meeting people in person. Instead, they are often complements to those interactions. Rather than replacing in-person meetings, they can make them more valuable.

Mistaking complements for substitutes can be costly when it comes to policy.Eric Crampton

Connections forged and maintained through in-person interactions are difficult to replace.

Today’s international student may be tomorrow’s link into an international trade network. – Eric Crampton

Distance’s tyranny worsened considerably these past 20 months. It should not last a second longer than necessary. If Omicron proves a more substantial challenge, border systems able to safely accommodate far greater numbers of travellers must be a priority for 2022. Eric Crampton

The photo, then, tells us quite a lot about the state of political journalism. It’s less concerned with the substance of politics than it is with the excitement of the chase and the ambush, the irrational, adrenalin-charged excitement of the media scrum and the  desire to bail politicians up, catch them out, trip them up and trap them into saying things that will backfire on them; the “Gotcha!” moment.

Not all these elements are present in the picture, of course, but nonetheless it encapsulates the sense that coverage of politics, for broadcasting journalists especially, has become an infantile game in which almost all sight has been lost of journalism’s key purpose, which is to inform the public about things that actually matter to them.

Media coverage of politics has become a circus in which the media themselves act as ringmasters. To their shame, politicians are complicit in this, allowing alpha journalists such as Tova O’Brien to bully and goad them. Politicians are thus instrumental in trivialising politics and demeaning themselves. They should remind themselves that they at least have the honour of being elected and publicly accountable (those who represent actual electorates, that is – list MPs not so much), which is more than can be said for journalists. In that sense politicians have the moral high ground over their tormentors. They need to remember this and stand up for themselves. – Karl du Fresne

What makes things worse is that the media have almost entirely abandoned coverage of parliamentary proceedings – that is to say, debates and select committee hearings where important issues are debated and decided, and where our laws are shaped. This stuff is way too dry and tedious for the media, who prefer to confront MPs outside the debating chamber and pepper them with questions about the latest confected controversy-du-jour.

Parliamentary proceedings appear to interest the media only when there’s blood on the floor or when (as happened yesterday) there’s the tantalising prospect of a showdown or shootout.Karl du Fresne

The government’s action might have been “shady as all hell”, as du Plessis-Allan says, but governments get away with these things only if the media let them. And as long as cynical politicians can rely on the mainstream media being distracted by sideshows and political soap operas, they will continue to escape tough scrutiny on things that really matter.-  Karl du Fresne

Michael Wood’s response to news that BusinessNZ is refusing a central role in the Government’s flagship industrial relations reforms may have revealed the truth about fair pay agreements.

Rather than agreements to create better working conditions, the reforms are about Labour giving structural importance to the union movement and paying it to do so.NZ Hearld editorial

The answer is that FPAs are more about the union movement than about workers’ conditions. At least now Wood has dropped the pretence about the reforms as being about agreement. – NZ Hearld editorial

With 44 deaths recorded so far, the government’s first duty to keep its population safe appears to have been met, at least when compared to the horrors experienced in other countries, and indeed during the 1918-19 pandemic.

However, that success has come at a cost – to mental health, the economy, rights and freedoms and, to a degree, social cohesion. All of these will be important elements of an inquiry.Alexander Gillespie

A royal commission would allow for these personal, economic and democratic costs to be fully documented, measured and evaluated. Most importantly, it can recommend improvements and remedies. And it should be scheduled to start on March 19, 2022 – two years exactly from when New Zealand first closed its borders to the outside world.

Present generations have learned some hard but valuable lessons from COVID-19. Given the possibility of future pandemics, it’s vital those lessons are passed on to future generations.The ConversationAlexander Gillespie

For anybody thinking that organic regenerative agriculture really is the answer – think again. Production will decrease (which means more land needed for food somewhere in the world with impacts on biodiversity and greenhouse gases) and a premium for the product is required to maintain farm income.

People are already concerned about rising food prices and what they say they’ll pay for a type of food (organic, free-range, whatever) frequently doesn’t come to pass. Most farmers have mortgages, just like house owners, and the banks mind about solvency. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Farmers can’t just reduce animal numbers and maintain the economies of scale needed to support employees, infrastructure maintenance, implementation of new technologies and bank repayments. If income is reduced, who will own the farm? Who would want to buy and run it?

The implications for New Zealand are considerable. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Without production animals, the export economy would be almost halved. Forestry might take over the land, but 30 years is a long time to wait for payday. The tax take would then be reduced because of a restricted economy. The Department of Conservation (DoC) is already inadequately funded for the native forest; how would it cope with ex-farmland as well?

The animal protein that humans need to provide essential amino acids would have to come from other countries, not necessarily with the same high standards of production in animal welfare and low environmental impact. – Jacqueline Rowarth

New Zealand production systems have undergone constant improvement over the decades as scientific understanding has refined systems for New Zealand soils, topography, climate and markets. The team of scientists, researchers, rural professionals and farmers have enabled New Zealand to produce food with lower environmental impact than other countries can achieve.

We have the data.

Per unit of food, greenhouse gases are lower than in other countries. From 1.7 million hectares (less than 7 per cent) of New Zealand, dairy farmers produce 35 per cent of the export economy. In beef and sheep production, land that isn’t suitable for anything except pastoral agriculture (or forestry) maintains productive capacity and employment, whilst generating income for families and environmental protection including control of introduced weeds and animals.

Farmers, like anybody else, need to be able to pay the mortgage. Farmers, like anybody else, want to feel valued and know that their work is worthwhile. People choosing careers want it too. Thank a farmer as you eat your next meal. The alternative isn’t pretty. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Since then we have seen all sorts of left-wing activism out of the Ardern government, much of it not signalled to the voters – the NZ government has doled out tens of millions of dollars to big media if they promise to toe the government line on Maori issues related to the Treaty; it is moving against local councils on water issues and restructuring health, both under the aegis of an identity politics, illiberal worldview that will have awful long-term consequences. But perhaps the worst effect is how this Ardern government’s Maori activism has turned supposedly august bodies devoted to reason and the pursuit of truth into politically correct, cancel culture vassals of the government’s worldview. – James Allan

So either these couple of thousand Kiwi academics and the upper echelons of the Royal Society (which should have laughed this complaint out of court) are stupid and know nothing about the scientific worldview. Or, and this for most of them is the real answer, they are pusillanimous cowards. Like me they are perfectly aware of the difference between pseudo-religious claims about the world and scientific ones that involve falsifiable hypotheses.

But they are afraid to go against the modern world’s equivalent of the Church, deeming what can and cannot be said. Anyone with any integrity who happens to be a member of the Royal Society of New Zealand should be resigning in protest. If you’re not openly and bravely against cancel culture and the dogma of brutish identity politics, you’re part of the problem. –  James Allan

This will make NZ smoke-free only in the sense that NZ is cannabis free or America was alcohol free in the 1920s.

It seems bizarre that a Government which told us (correctly) that prohibition is the wrong strategy for cannabis, thinks it will work for tobacco. They wanted to legalise cannabis and ban tobacco! – David Farrar

Politicians are using Maori to push their own barrows. Ricardo Menendez March is a non-Maori socialist but it suits his purposes to yell ‘discrimination’ at every opportunity. Accusations of racism not only shut detractors down but demand some sort of redress and recompense.

No matter that the redress is wrongful given no actual case of racism has occurred. – Lindsay Mitchell

Our society does not tolerate a diversity of views. There is only one view on every topic – this government’s view, backed up by it’s “independently appointed” experts who invariably are funded by this government to produce research that supports this government’s political position. Derek Mackie

Short of totalitarian censors, literature has few enemies as redoubtable as modern literary scholarship—many of whom probably aspire to be totalitarian censors. – Theodore Dalrymple

In the totalitarian world of crude, feminist literary criticism, women should not be depicted as weak, because this reinforces unwanted stereotypes—even if the depiction of weak women is true to life, that is to say to some life and to some women.

In the name of ideology, this truth to life must be suppressed because is casts doubt upon the ideology and is disturbing to the ideologist’s equilibrium. What are wanted by these feminist critics are positive heroes (we must not use the word heroines), just as they were wanted in the Soviet Union in the time of Zhdanov.Theodore Dalrymple

I have no real objection, though, to the placement of a notice at the entrance to all theatres and cinemas as follows: “Any spoilt, self-pitying, middle-class hysteric who has an attack of the ideological vapors during a performance in this theatre/cinema will be removed forcibly and not allowed to return.”

The same, of course, would go for the students of any university who claimed that they would be damaged by hearing something in the lecture hall that they might disagree with or that could possibly make them think. – Theodore Dalrymple

Put bluntly, being in Wellington is like being bathed in a comfortable cocoon where politicians, journalists, parliamentary staffers and bureaucrats are sheltered from the prolonged stress that Aucklanders have felt since the city was put into lockdown in August.Fran O’Sullivan

I don’t think this Government cares about farmers and the rural communities. I don’t think they appreciate them, I think they’ve undervalued them. Farmers are not villains.

“The reality is, 80 per cent of our exports come from farming. This Government is raining rules, regulations and costs down on the farming industry. – Chris Luxon

I want this country to be world-leading in solving agriculture emissions. We don’t have obvious solutions today, but we invest in New Zealand’s research facilities.Chris Luxon

THE 1970’s saw the blame pointed at saturated fat and the introduction of low fat, sugary processed foods.

That was a health disaster.

We cannot repeat that with the demoniSation of meat and replacement with more highly processed and fortified foods. – Dr Gary Fettke

Wading through decades of nutrition research led me to discover the health concerns over meat consumption have been falsified by statistical manipulation, misinformation, and biased promotion.

Our current dietary guidelines – shaped by vested interests and religious ideology are heavily promoting cereals, grains, and plant protein as ‘health food’ –  are completely flawed. – Dr Gary Fettke

Market opportunities hinge on creating a fear of ‘meat’, and the branding of meat substitutes as safer for the consumer and planetary health. This has become a massive media and propaganda ‘war’.

Incredibly, and unexpectedly, how we understand and interpret the ‘definition of meat and other animal products’ has been heavily influenced by religious ideology over the last century, and particularly here in Australia since 1897…  Sanitarium was founded that year to; – “supply the people with food which will take the place of flesh meat, and also milk and butter” as a way to win souls. – Dr Gary Fettke

Animal based foods, particularly when eaten from tip to tail, are nutritionally complete.

Plant-based foods are nutritionally incomplete, with poor bioavailability of protein, and requiring fortification.

Let us advocate for whole foods. Let us not repeat the health disaster of the 1970’s. – Dr Gary Fettke

There are special days in Parliament, and this is one. Too often you see the disagreements, the debates, and sometimes behaviour that is not becoming, and tonight you see the unanimous agreement, where the co-operation of members across the House and every party in Parliament agrees not only on a problem but, more importantly, the solution to that problem. – Louise Upston

Today, I want to give confidence to every New Zealander that this is your House and, as MPs, we work for you. We work to make New Zealand a better place. You can meet with your MP, like Graeme did, and you can change the law. To paraphrase another New Zealander, while it might not happen overnight, it can happen. Tonight is proof of that, and I think it’s a wonderful way to end this parliamentary year, for the members’ day, where victims will have more rights with the unanimous passing of this bill. – Louise Upston

From where I sit from across the ditch it appears ‘the land of the long white cloud’ is encased in a smokescreen. While Jacinda Ardern reigns over the most progressive government in the Pacific, the passing of stock-standard progressive policies is coming ‘hand in iron fist’ with the erasure of liberty and the failure of the protections citizens used to take for granted. – Edie Wyatt

The press and government of New Zealand appear to have wholeheartedly embraced the belief that men and women have gender ‘selves’ and that these ‘selves’ or souls are rendered legitimate by the decree of government. – Edie Wyatt

The strange authoritarianism of the new left echoes of the kind of old fashion conservatism that bypassed liberalism. Even the concept that we live in flesh suits with gender souls, has echoes of conservative religious ideas from another time. – Edie Wyatt

One answer Luxon gave while under questioning about the Treaty is interesting when thinking about National’s attempts to restore a big tent. He said he respected the central role of the Treaty in our national life but then went on to talk about the multi-cultural reality that is our lived experience. That space provides the very canvass of a big tent. It is inclusive, respectful, and welcoming of all New Zealanders. It is also forward rather than backward-looking. – Jon Johansson

National sniffs opportunity and Luxon gets to write a fresh chapter. And in that sense, it’s game on. – Jon Johansson

At the end of the day, whether you are running Unilever, Air New Zealand or New Zealand, it all comes down to how you lead your people.

People are not sector-specific. Leaders who can articulate their vision while inspiring belief in others and unite their team, even at the toughest of times, are what this country needs. – Cecelia Robinson

So, enough of the tabloid stories. Instead of worrying about how big Luxon’s bank account is, let’s focus on what is important — what he would do if he was Prime Minister.

The media have a critical role to play in asking these questions helping voters make up their mind. That is why we now need them to step up and start asking the questions that matter. After all, the future of our country depends on it. – Cecelia Robinson

Elimination has probably been celebrated in New Zealand a bit too much. Yes, it was a great success, but that success came at the price of many freedoms, a lot of money, and was really the best of a bunch of bad choices. It mostly worked for about 15 months, until it didn’t.Luke Malpass

We have to learn from these experiences so that these kinds of things don’t happen in the future. We cannot be in the situation where tens of thousands of people – citizens – are treated in this manner. We feel abandoned. We feel like we don’t matter. And that’s wrong. – Cherie Brown

The managers of the London Underground specially select people with impenetrable accents or speech impediments to make public address announcements, as part of their social-engineering works.Theodore Dalrymple

The relations between the population and the state in Britain are those of duty and obligation: the duty and obligation of the population toward the state, not the other way round. During the first Covid lockdown—one is beginning to forget how many there have been—the population was enjoined to stay at home in order to “protect the NHS,” the behemoth centralized health-care system that has served it so ill for more than seventy years. In essence, the population was asked to modify its behavior for the convenience of a state bureaucracy. The government might as well have said, “Protect the Inland Revenue: Pay Your Taxes.”

The government was able to get away with so ludicrous a slogan because of one of the most successful propaganda campaigns of the second half of the 20th century, namely that the institution of the National Health Service was a great social advance. It was nothing of the kind: Before it was founded, the country had one of the best health systems in the developed world and soon found itself with among the worst. The intention of the new service was egalitarian—treatment free at point of care and paid for from general taxation—and no one really bothered to check whether its effect was egalitarian. And since it has very unpleasant aspects for practically everyone, rich or poor, the British people still believe that it is egalitarian in its effect, when it is nothing of the kind. Such benefits as it confers are conferred in the rich, educated, and articulate, for the general principle of British public administration is for something to be done only if not doing it is likely to cause the relevant bureaucrats more trouble in the end. The rich, educated, and articulate can make trouble; the poor, uneducated, and inarticulate can only shout or throw bricks at the window (usually bulletproof and often soundproof, too). Theodore Dalrymple

The British population, believing that equality is a good in itself irrespective of whatever is equalized thereby, has come to regard the sheer unpleasantness of the NHS—to obtain treatment from which is an obstacle race in shabby buildings operated by exhausted and disgruntled staff—as evidence of its essential moral virtue, for it is unpleasant for all. Everyone is a pauper at the NHS’ gates, and where everyone is a pauper, no one is.

In addition to being treated better, the rich, educated, and articulate have escape routes, albeit expensive ones. Private medicine is still permitted in Britain, but in conditions of scarcity prices rise and so it is vastly, indeed fantastically, more expensive than it need be, or is elsewhere in Europe. The rich can also go abroad for treatment, and do. Theodore Dalrymple

Recently in London, I spent half an hour in a traffic jam to go a mile on a thoroughfare half of which had been blocked off for cyclists—of whom, in half an hour, not a single one passed us. By such means do bureaucracies let us know who is boss—and it isn’t us. – Theodore Dalrymple

But then, democracy is notoriously untidy and inconvenient. How much cleaner and more efficient it would be if we delegated all power to an unelected central authority that knows what’s best for us. There’s even a ready-made name for it: the Politburo.Karl du Fresne

I’m not pretending there isn’t a problem with water.  But Three Waters is not the answer. It’s got nothing to do with improving water, but everything to do with centralising power and snatching assets from those councils which actually have done a good job.  – Tim Dower

History isn’t about you; that’s what makes it history. It’s about somebody else, living in an entirely different moral and intellectual world. It’s a drama in which you’re not present, reminding you of your own tiny, humble place in the cosmic order. It’s not relevant. That’s why it’s so important.Dominic Sandbrook

Finally, the most important thing of all. Not a place, time or character, but an attitude. ‘The past is a foreign country,’ L.P. Hartley famously wrote at the beginning of his great novel The Go-Between, ‘they do things differently there.’ Exploring that vast, impossibly rich country ought to be one of the most exciting intellectual adventures in any boy or girl’s lifetime — not an exercise in self-righteous mortification. Put simply, it should be fun. This is why children fall in love with history. Not because it’s relevant, or improving, or even instructive. And certainly not because it fosters grievance and victimhood. Not because it’s ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘necessary’. But because it’s fun. That’s the best reason to do anything, isn’t it? – Dominic Sandbrook

My view is that when the borders open a generation of young Kiwis will depart our shores for Australia for the higher wages on offer and lower cost of living, and to embrace some freedom after two years being cooped up. Tony Alexander

There are people in the police hierarchy who apparently think that anyone who criticises the government should be watched. This was also the mentality of East Germany’s Stasi, South Africa’s BOSS (the Bureau of State Security) and Haitian dictator Papa Doc Duvalier’s murderous Tonton Macoute. – Karl du Fresne

It’s hard to take this alarmist nonsense seriously, but we must. The documents reveal there are people in the police who think it’s their function to protect us against the free exchange of ideas and opinion – a right guaranteed to New Zealanders under the Bill of Rights Act. To put it more bluntly, these commissars-in-waiting apparently regard democracy as dangerous.

So being anti-government is now seen as a potential threat to public safety? This is the type of state paranoia that ultimately leads to monitoring of phone calls and knocks on the door at midnight. Slater was right to describe it as sinister.  – Karl du Fresne

 But the realisation that this type of censorious zealotry exists within the police should strike a cold chill in the heart of anyone  who values open democracy – and all the more so when it remains possible that under so-called “hate speech” laws, the police will be given power to determine what we can and cannot say. – Karl du Fresne

Yet for once freedom of speech is not the crucial issue for me here. It is instead the burgeoning madness and stupidity, condescension and racism that are propelling us towards the De-Enlightenment. All of those academics, and the Royal Society, know full well that the Maori explanation for the creation of the world is not correct. And yet, hypocritically and patronisingly, they pretend otherwise.

The argument — facile beyond comprehension — is that science has been used by white, western, developed nations to underpin colonialism and is therefore tainted by its association with white supremacy. As Dawkins pointed out, science is not “white”. (The assumption that it is is surely racist.) Nor is it imperialist. It is simply a rather beautiful tool for discerning the truth.Rod Liddle

A lunacy has gripped our academics. They would be happy to throw out centuries of learning and brilliance for the sake of being temporarily right-on, and thus signalling their admirable piety to a young, approving audience.

It is an indulgence that, with every fatuous genuflection towards political correctness, is dragging us all backwards. – Rod Liddle

And now, in the Prime Minister’s own words, I would say I absolutely reject the assertion that the Prime Minister should miss out on a Christmas present. So I got thinking about this the other night, and I was thinking, “Well, what gift could I give the Prime Minister instead of what she would normally receive from Mike?” And then I got thinking about my colleagues across the House here. So I know it’s not quite in the spirit of Christmas, but I thought I would share with you my secret online shopping cart. And so, for Jacinda Ardern, I wanted to gift her a Kookaburra cricket ball. Because I have to tell you, Ajaz Patel was my dead-set sporting legend and hero this year, what he achieved was absolutely phenomenal. But I have to say, I think the Prime Minister made him look very, very average, and that’s because she took her spin game to the next level. She was bowling balls superbly, the batters were totally confused in the direction the ball was actually going. – Chris Luxon

For Nanaia Mahuta, I thought long about this, we’ve got her a special gift set of three waters—it comes in sparkling, still, and tap. – Chris Luxon

I just say to Labour: what will they campaign on in two years’ time? They won’t be campaigning on housing, because housing is out of control. They won’t be campaigning on child poverty, because it’s up, not down. They won’t be campaigning on a wealthier New Zealand, because the forecasts out in the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update show that over the next two years, New Zealanders will get poorer, in real terms. And good luck to the Labour Party at the 2023 election campaigning on a record of success that isn’t there. New Zealanders are pretty tolerant people; they give Governments three years. They don’t typically give them six unless they can point to a record of achievement.

For a libertarian like me, this year has been tough. We have given the Government enormous power. The big issue of 2022 is going to be: at what point do the mandates stop, at what point do we stop dividing New Zealanders, at what point do we start coming together as a country again? They can’t go on for ever, we can’t continue to divide New Zealanders—we’re going to need some answers from the Government next year.Chris Bishop

I’d like to start by thanking all those essential workers. To me, the phrase “essential worker” is actually a tautology. All workers are essential, whether they’re deemed as such by the Government or not. – Chris Penk

The problem for the Royal Society in rejecting what they see as the professors’ “narrow and outmoded definition of science” is that a wider and more fashionable view of what constitutes science leads inevitably to a philosophy of “anything goes”, or a sort of epistemological anarchy.

Once Māori myths and legends are introduced into the school science curriculum there is no justifiable reason not to include Creationism (the belief that the universe and the various forms of life were created by God out of nothing) as well.Graham Adams

I would encourage you Prime Minister to read to learn about well-functioning markets and the importance they play in wealth / equity distribution. In the West, 50 million people have come out of abject poverty in the last 10 years alone.

As Mark Twain correctly observed – Those who do not read to learn, have no advantage over those who cannot read. – Gerry Eckhoff

The bottom line here is that science and academia need people who challenge accepted wisdom, otherwise we would be stuck forever in the status quo. But in New Zealand in 2021, the price for deviating from approved orthodoxy is punishment and ostracism. – Karl du Fresne

Suddenly I am inundated with emails from disaffected Kiwis who take issue with the New Zealand government’s and academia’s new push to teach mātauranga Māori , or Māori “ways of knowing” as coequal with real science in high-school and university science classes.  Many of these people are worried that the country is being swept with an ideology that “all things Māori are good” (tell that to the moas!), and that such an attitude is going to affect not just science, but many parts of life.  It’s one thing to recognize and make reparations to a people who were genuinely oppressed for so long, but that doesn’t mean that that that group should be valorized in every way, nor that their “ways of knowing”, which include creation myths and false legends, can be taken as coequal to science and taught in the science classroom. – Jerry A. Coyne

While the open-minded exchange of facts about “the relationship between mātauranga Māori and science” has potential to be a good debate, I am not optimistic. For one thing, the “indigenous way of knowing” can be slipperly, varying widely depending on who’s interpreting it. It would be lovely if they got Richard Dawkins to defend science along with some of the signers of the letter. And, as one of my Kiwi colleagues said, “I think this is good news, but productive discussion is unlikely unless [Freshwater] discourages the ongoing use of terms such as racism and cultural harm to describe those who challenge the notion of equivalence.”Jerry A. Coyne

Confusing choice and its consequences to force and its antecedents is like confusing a tarantula for something you should hug to your breast. But that’s what these non-thinkers above are doing. – Peter Cresswell

We are not China, as the lenient response to the protests has demonstrated, but our media are no less inclined to suppress views considered socially harmful on one subject in particular. It’s one that goes to the heart of our national identities and democracy.John Roughan

A post-colonial state is not one nation but two and both should be respected. When I read reports from certain government agencies that now refer to New Zealand only as “Aotearoa”, I feel deprived. But I would bargain this to stop pre-European names becoming alternatives for cities founded by our colonial forebears.

I think it is well past time to challenge this notion that our colonial heritage is entirely regrettable. Colonialism has given us much to celebrate, not least British common law, civil liberties and constitutional institutions. – John Roughan

I agree that the solution to the sorry position of Māori on most social statistics is probably to be found in greater indigenous nationalism and self-government. In fact, I have advocated these many times here. But indigenous nationalism does not need to rename creations of European heritage and self-governance is not “co-governance” of services for all.

Most importantly, these sort of decisions should follow public debate and open negotiation by a Māori political party, not be made within a governing party out of sight, not if they are to survive a change of government. – John Roughan

Inside this government there is a Māori caucus which presumably negotiated the co-governance now proposed for the public health service and “three waters”. We don’t know how these arrangements are supposed to work or how far into state services co-governance might go. There is almost no critical reporting of this aspect.

Worse, objectors believe the media are closed to their views and committed to the causes that worry them. – John Roughan

Why are we so angry? I suspect it has less to do with what is happening than the way it is happening, with no reference to the general will. John Roughan

If the Government wants to support the environment it should just have a programme that supports the environment … but, of course, that wouldn’t warrant emergency Covid response money, such funding would need to compete in a budget process against all the other very pressing funding needs that we have, other spending priorities and I’m thinking, for example, of the life-saving drugs that Pharmac isn’t able to buy at the moment… – Robert MacCulloch

We now have a messianic regime that appears to believe they have been anointed by destiny to save Aotearoa from Covid, guns and hate speech. Why should they not also save the unfortunate, ill-informed and ignorant from the perils of tobacco?

The right of agency, to choose, the taonga of self-determination, meanwhile, is to be restricted to those best able to exercise it: the joint smokers and gouda connoisseurs of Thorndon and Herne Bay. – Damien Grant

Sometimes it feels like there’s a lot of identity politics going on, but the bottom line is that we are all bigger than our individual identities. We’re all New Zealanders.” – Chris Luxon

The only certainty in 2022 will be uncertainty. Janet Wilson

There is a cost of long preparedness for something that does not happen; preparedness is expensive, and we are governed by politicians who are sensitive to criticism of waste and think in terms of election cycles. – Theodore Dalrymple

Professor Rogers attributes western governments’ panic or over-reaction to the pandemic to their unpreparedness, and no doubt this is partly, or in large part, correct: but there is also another dimension, namely a cultural shift in the population (which governments, being elected, have to take into account) with regard to acceptable risk, which is fast approaching zero. If I may take a single example: some time ago, in a train station in Sydney, Australia, I counted six warnings about the various supposed dangers of taking an escalator down to the platform. A society in which so commonplace an activity comes with so many warnings is a very cautious one, to say the least. In such circumstances, the default position for governments will always be to do too much rather than to do nothing or too little, and the most draconian measures will always seem more ‘prudent’ than the less. Theodore Dalrymple

To an epidemiologist, all that counts is illness. Political oversight of the recommendations experts is necessary, which is obviously true, but it is also obviously inevitable, since public health experts do not agree among or between themselves, and so politicians are obliged to choose, whether they want to or not, or whether they do so in full consciousness or not. Science is not doctrine from which policy emerges by spontaneous generation. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is relatively easy to measure the number of deaths caused directly by Covid-19 (though there are complications even here), but it is far harder to measure the health consequences of the measures taken to combat it. The deaths from Covid-19 are immediate and apparent; those caused by, for example, delayed medical treatment or the so-called diseases of despair will appear only later and will remain controversial as to causation. Thus, in an epidemic such as that of Covid-19, it is understandable, if not necessarily desirable, that tunnel vision, not only that of the public health experts, should prevail. Theodore Dalrymple

 A government that said it wanted everyone to make sacrifices but said it could not be sure whether or not they were justified would not willingly be obeyed. When you are imposing things on millions, it is best to know, or at least appear to know, what you are talking about. Unfortunately, when you pretend to believe in something long enough, such as your own omniscience, you come to believe in its truth. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is worth mentioning that, for reasons that I do not fully comprehend, immunisation has long been one of the medical procedures that has aroused the most popular antagonism. The history of opposition to immunisation is long and interesting. Before the Covid-19 vaccines started putting microchips into people at the behest of Bill Gates and George Soros, the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine was turning children autistic, and there are still people who believe this despite conclusive evidence of the fraudulent basis upon which the theory was based and the failure to find any statistical link despite rigorous search.

No doubt we shall be better prepared for the next pandemic than we were for that of Covid-19: provided, of course, that the next pandemic resembles it in relevant ways, which it may not. Our preparations might come to resemble the Maginot Line—though it is also important not to exaggerate the uselessness of the Maginot Line. – Theodore Dalrymple

Herd behavior is among the pre-eminent causes of stupidity. Numerous scientific studies have shown how individual humans can be swayed by the crowd to adopt positions which go against all logic. – Peter Burns

We are living in an insane society. On one hand, you have people believing Trump won the presidency, despite evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, you have people ruminating on the eternal sin of “white people”, whoever they are. As an individual who tries to use reason and common sense, you often end up feeling isolated amid all the madness. – Peter Burns

I want to make sure there’s civility in our politics here in New Zealand.

You just have to look around the western liberal democracies and see there’s a massive amount of divisiveness that’s taken place. Once you set that off, and it’s a course in motion, it’s not constructive for the country. – Chris Luxon

Rural communities is a place where this party had its real origins in – a conservative rural and urban liberal starting point. And I just feel we’ve neglected those communities and I want them to know we’re back and we back them.Chris Luxon

Everywhere you turn it’s the Ministry of Health that seems to block any discussion, and it is interesting that there are a number of business people I have talked to that have stepped up in support, there are a number of people working with government who have stepped up in support, but all of them feel threatened to speak out. Now that’s not a democracy. – Sir Ian Taylor

Market  capitalism  has  always worked  better  than  socialism.Point of Order

Low quality spending for low quality outcomes should never be tolerated. And isn’t that the wider problem at play here? Just imagine if we compiled the full laundry list of soiled spending projects.  – Mike Yardley

Critical thinking requires us to engage with ideas we find disagreeable, difficult and even offensive, and to learn to bring to bear reason and evidence, rather than emotion, when we respond to them. One of the core principles that have historically enabled universities to fulfil this mission is academic freedom.  Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

Academic freedom – and the benefits to human knowledge it brings – requires the tolerance to hear and engage with ideas to which one objects. To be sure, such tolerance often doesn’t come naturally, which is why academics must model it to students.

But the importance of this kind of tolerance goes beyond the academy. The free and open society we, perhaps, take too much for granted depends on the willingness of its citizens to tolerate the expression of rival opinions. – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

One of the things that defines scientific inquiry is that it brooks no sacred claims. True science is never ‘settled’. Even when theories seem to explain observed phenomena perfectly, new information and fresh insights may throw everything up in the air once more.  Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

In science, ideas must be tested against evidence, never against what we would prefer to believe. For example, religious conviction does not provide a valid basis for objection to a scientific idea. Neither is it ever legitimate in science to allow personalised attacks to substitute for reasoned, evidence-based argument.  – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

Obviously, the reaction to the Listener letter doesn’t come anywhere close to the violent persecutions that were faced by scientists and free-thinkers in the past. Still, the role that powerful institutions have historically played in setting the boundaries of discussion – often to the great detriment of society as a whole – should lead us to think hard about the relationship between academic freedom and whatever ideology is currently in the ascendant. If the record of intellectual history shows anything, it is that opinions that were once seen as indefensible – both morally and intellectually – have often turned out to advance knowledge. Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

In New Zealand at the moment the situation is more complicated.  We’re on the boundary between zero Covid and low-level suppression.  The government is still trying to keep control of test results, which has clear benefits in contact tracing and elimination, but removes the ability for everyone to use rapid tests to reduce their individual risk of spreading Covid.  Whether you think the government is making the right decision here depends a lot on how much you trust the public health system, and on how much you trust other people. –  Thomas Lumley

Nope, trans women are not women.  They are trans women. They have their own identity and characteristics and need to stop taking ours and the advantages of women.  They should not be competing in sports with women when physical strength is an advantage.  Get their own category. –  Cactus Kate

For thousands like me who now call New Zealand home, dangerous visits like this are a choice we have had to make. I won’t see my wife and son for two months, so I can see my family here now.

It’s hard to imagine any immigrant will ever view global travel quite so casually as we did at the end of 2019.  – Nik Dirga

In short, while New Zealand can claim some bragging rights in important areas, there is less to celebrate when it comes to the lives and fortunes of many of its citizens. As ever, the final verdict has to be: room for improvement. – Alexander Gillespie

As she drives New Zealand Inc over the cliff, the PM asks us to admire how smooth the ride is to the bottom.

For Christmas, we can give Labour a bouquet for chutzpah. – Richard Prebble

When our Ministers of Science are embedding matauranga Maori considerations in their public statements and in their funding and policy decisions, sorting things out and reinforcing the notion that science is science is science is desperately overdue. Point of Order

The question is how to recover – preferably before the Government “modernises” science by gearing it to a treaty written and signed in 1840. That was almost 20 years before Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution (with compelling evidence) in On the Origin of Species . – Point of Order

It has been a year of division and polarisation. I’m not referring to the social tensions brought to the surface by Covid-19, although that hasn’t helped. I’m talking about the relentless promotion of identity politics, by both politicians and the mainstream media, and the deliberate fostering of a sense that New Zealand is no longer a society of diverse people with common interests but one in which aggrieved minorities seek to overturn a supposedly privileged and callously indifferent ruling class.

The year has been an object lesson in how a determined and ideologically driven government, supported by allies in academia, the bureaucracy and the media, can deconstruct one of the world’s most tolerant, liberal democracies. Many of us – perhaps most of us – don’t recognise the new country that’s being created and were never asked whether we wanted it.

Indoctrination of the young and impressionable in schools and universities is a crucial part of the transformation process. Unencumbered by knowledge of their own history, they are ripe for the picking. Karl Marx never saw his revolution of the proletariat realised, but I’m sure he would heartily approve of the disruption generated by 21st century activists who share his view of Western democratic society as rotten and irrevocably divided between oppressed and oppressors.

We are witnessing nothing less than a cultural revolution. It’s not one in which supposed enemies of the people and capitalist running dogs are being dragged from their homes and sent to re-education camps, as in Mao’s China, but there is a similar underlying tone of authoritarianism and denunciation of dissenters. We saw it in the savage reaction to the Listener Seven, who were howled down for their heretical attempt to uphold scientific values.

Jacinda Ardern has cleverly contrived to remain aloof from all the ugly stuff, but as prime minister she has given her implied consent. While smilingly uttering pious bromides about social cohesion, she presides over a government that is busily undermining that same sense of solidarity. The country will have a chance to assess her record in 2023, but by that time, even if a new government engages reverse gear, the damage will be deep and possibly irremediable. – Karl du Fresne

2021 has also brought the realization that we are fighting for the very soul of New Zealand.

Are we to be a country where every person, regardless of when they or their ancestors came to New Zealand, has equal political rights, as Article III of the Treaty of Waitangi unambiguously promised?

Or are we to become a nation permanently divided by race, with those who chance to have one or more Maori ancestors (always with ancestors of other ethnicities too of course) having forever a preferred constitutional status? Don Brash

Did the Treaty involve Maori chiefs surrendering sovereignty in return for being guaranteed their property rights and political equality with all “British subjects”, or did it involve no surrender of sovereignty but instead the promise of some kind of partnership with the head of the mightiest empire the world had seen to that date?

Speeches made by chiefs at the time, and again at Kohimarama in 1860, make it quite clear which of those two interpretations was understood at the time. And indeed, that is the interpretation which prevailed for nearly the next century and a half.

More importantly, it is the only interpretation which is consistent with a peaceful future, where all citizens have equal political rights without any preference based on race, as politicians as different as David Lange, Winston Peters and David Seymour have made clear.Don Brash

The Government did nothing to prepare for Delta. Its promise that we would be at the front of the vaccine queue became its second-term equivalent of KiwiBuild.- Matthew Hooton 

The bureaucrats are perfectly egalitarian. It doesn’t matter if you are a billionaire or a tiny community health provider in the poorest town. If you have a good idea to improve New Zealand, the Wellington bureaucracy can be relied on to tell you to get stuffed, and that they know best.

The success of much of her Covid response has created an obsequiousness towards the Prime Minister and a braindead obedience of central authority that are unhealthy in a democracy.

So, for taking personal responsibility for keeping his community healthy rather than waiting on Wellington, and for refusing to back down when treated with the usual contempt by the bureaucracy, John Tamihere is my New Zealander of the Year. More of us should do the same for our own whānau and communities, however they are defined. – Matthew Hooton 

The job of Government is to forward plan. Assume the worst – that omicron is more infectious, more deadly or both. At some point further down the Greek alphabet, sigma or upsilon could create as much uncertainty. We cannot continue to be the only country in the world blocking the entry of our citizens. – Janine Starks

The job of Government is to forward plan. Assume the worst – that omicron is more infectious, more deadly or both. At some point further down the Greek alphabet, sigma or upsilon could create as much uncertainty. We cannot continue to be the only country in the world blocking the entry of our citizens. – Janine Starks

When the opening dates were “locked in”, overseas media such as Business Traveller Europe printed gushing statements from our government. “We are making this announcement to give families, businesses, visitors and airline and airport companies certainty and time to prepare”.

Omicron quickly unveiled the “flyer beware” truth and a government still not committed to dealing with its international responsibility of allowing citizens in and out. Looking one step ahead to tourism, how can any airline or travel operator commit their clients to a country with a cancel.com mentality? – Janine Starks

It’s just gouging the food producing areas which give us the crops we need for a good balanced diet, so why would you keep building more houses and roads on the most highly productive land in the region. Julian Raine

We’re commercial farmers in the middle of town and quite frankly, people don’t want us, but yes, they want the milk we produce. – Julian Raine

We have to keep the plains for food, and if I’m brutally honest, not for urban development and lifestyle block holders – they’re the worst, they want four hectares to run three sheep and a horse, with no clue what to do with the rest of the land.Julian Raine

I am sure someone somewhere today will remark that Christmas is a time for children. It’s an engaging truth, but only half the story. Perhaps it’s truer to say that Christmas can speak to the child within us all. – Queen Elizabeth

If there’s a stand-out lesson from the last two years in trying to avoid first Covid and then the Delta variety, it’s surely that creating a hermit kingdom was a price too big to pay. We found the hard way that elimination and then minimisation simply were overly optimistic goals.Bob Jones

Are we going to do this forever? Is this how New Zealand’s approach is going to be at the border for this and any other variants or even any other future pandemics? Is it acceptable just to lock out your citizens, and that’s one of the reasons we’re bringing the case as well, because we think it’s important for a precedent perspective.

What we’ve seen from these recent changes is New Zealand is going to continue acting in this way, there’s going to be a revert back to harsh border settings and it seems like that is going to be a constant. – Alexandra Birt

Here we go again, fighting the last war. Because governments are perceived to have moved too slowly to ban flights when the delta variant arose in India, we jumped into action this time, punishing the poor South Africans for their molecular vigilance. But nothing was going to stop the delta going global, and the latest set of government measures to stop the spread of the new omicron variant are about as likely to succeed as the Maginot line was to stop General Guderian’s tanks.

The cat is already out of the bag. Just because we can take action does not make it the right thing to do. – Matt Ridley

The knowledge that we possess about this virus is truly extraordinary. Compared with even two decades ago, we can read its genome, trace its ancestry, map its mutations, predict its characteristics and understand its biochemistry in stunning detail. But this has profited us little. Our ability to stop it in its tracks – vaccines aside – is barely above the mediaeval. Would the course of pandemic have been better or worse if we could not take tests, model curves or differentiate mutant strains? I am not sure. Like Cassandra we are cursed to see the truth, but not be able to act on it. – Matt Ridley

So, as I pen this letter to that fresh-faced young man, it won’t be tinged with regret for what might have been, or with remorse for poor choices – though there were a few. Rather, it will be with encouragement and enthusiasm to seek out opportunities and to believe my mother when she told me that you get out of life what you put into it.

I will encourage my youthful self to absorb some useful life mantras: that there is no substitute for hard work; that life is precious; and that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. However, on the latter point, I won’t spoil the surprise for my younger self by telling him just how much his name will become associated with tax cuts for New Zealand families.John Key

You will need to be open-minded, flexible and respectful of others, even those with whom you do not, and never will, agree.

“Your mum will have a point when she says, ‘Money doesn’t bring happiness.’ Yet you too will have a point when you counter, ‘But it sure as hell helps.’ Money for yourself and your family will give you confidence, choices and opportunities to explore and experience the world.  – John Key

Pursue your desire to serve the public. Our country, city and communities need people who have the skills, passion and vision to drive change, find better ways of doing things and who can stare down critics because standing for something is so much more powerful than standing for nothing. Being in the game is so much more exciting and empowering than being a spectator.John Key

When you have children, hug them every chance you get. They are precious. Never forget that, even when they don’t do what you hoped they would, or when they instead do what you hoped they wouldn’t. It will be a blessing to have them, and a privilege and pleasure to watch them grow into the adults they will become.

Never forget to laugh. Take life, your job and your responsibilities seriously, but not yourself. – John Key

Every self-help book, every motivational speech, every piece of sage advice from a trusted friend or colleague helps but none of it will replace the greatest advice, which is to trust your own instincts.

Most of us know the difference between right and wrong, but none of us is perfect. Humans are complex but somewhere in everyone’s heart is a moral compass that tells you, sometimes against all odds and in the face of many saying the opposite, which path to take. What you believe is possible is a much better indicator than a whole lot of people saying what is not.  –   John Key

You’ll cry sometimes, because the only way to avoid grief is never to love at all, and that would be a shallow and inhibited life. –   John Key

A cynic might argue that it is in the Government’s interests to keep Covid-19 firmly in the public eye because that means voters are distracted from damaging issues such as the national debt ballooning, rising inflation and interest rates, and house prices exploding to obscene levels. More likely is that the Government is simply being overly cautious, especially as the threat of Omicron hovers on the horizon.

However, unless the Government begins a steady process of easing the restrictions, heading towards their elimination, early next year it will lose the agreement and approval it currently has with a large chunk of the population.  –  Bill Ralston

State regulation and centralisation versus deregulation and individual choice is the big political divide. It never occurs to today’s ministers to let the market find a solution. – Richard Prebble

Technology can empower us. The solution to the proliferation of the malicious and the false is not regulation but letting us see for ourselves.  Richard Prebble

In the face of childish petulance, and far worse, Rowling has shown herself to be a grown-up who, as she has painstakingly explained on numerous occasions and in a lengthy essay, is far from hostile to trans people but doesn’t think their rights should trump those of others. – Sarah Vine

Rowling is a woman who has known male violence herself and is determined to protect other women from sharing that fate, whatever the cost to herself.

She is a woman who stands up for what is right and reasonable in the face of aggression, paranoia, ignorance and hysteria; who has the courage to say what she believes even when she knows her words will be twisted out of all context.Sarah Vine

. . . if you can’t say what you think, soon you won’t be able to think, because mostly we think in words. – Jordan Peterson

The issue is there is no distinction between free speech and free thought. And there’s no thought without free thought. Thought by its nature is either free or it doesn’t exist. – Jordan Peterson

Because equity means the equality of outcome, which is exactly the opposite of any conceivable diversity.

“So how are we supposed to manage this? You’d think people who are concerned with words, academics, say, would be a little more cautious about such things. Words matter as far as I’m concerned, I weigh my words. – Jordan Peterson

The proper idea is to look at the benevolence and the capacity for atrocity that characterises you. Because if you don’t see that within you, as the responsibility you have in relation to ethical struggle and in relation to conducting an ethical life, then you will absolutely see it in someone else, because it absolutely exists and has to find its place. – Jordan Peterson

Anyone with any sense who has any privilege has guilt about it. We know perfectly well that we are the undeserving beneficiaries in some sense of what our culture and our parents have arbitrarily bestowed upon us, [where arbitrary means] not through our own efforts.

[One must then] try to live a life that justifies those advantages. You take the burden of the catastrophe of history on to yourself and you take that seriously. And so then you try to act like a noble and outstanding person, moving forward. If you don’t do that you’ll suffer for it. Because we have a conscience and it will take us to task. – Jordan Peterson

Misplaced guilt and a hatred for human enterprise, and the belief that we’re a cancer on the face of the planet and that the planet would be better with fewer people on it or perhaps none. That’s not the rock you build your house on. – Jordan Peterson

I’m angry.I feel sad when I’m sitting across the table from someone who’s contributed positively to our community and our country, and they are sick and they can’t access the care that they need. – Melissa Vining

I’m in the middle of my grief. I am now a single mother, and I feel compelled to contribute what I can to change it. How do they sleep?Melissa Vining

In the short term, the NZ approach looks cosier.  With such an attentive state, there are attractions to trading autonomy for security.  But the price for a regimen of five million usually ends up being disproportionately paid by the creative, productive, free-spirited and indeed radical forces. – Point of Order

Because acknowledging that Covid is no longer a crisis means putting it in the mix with all the other problems.  Which are not trivial.

On the economic front, real wages have been largely stagnant since 2008, and the government is demanding higher taxes from 1 April (around 3% of take-home pay for middle income folk).  Interest rates are heading up and house prices look high enough to worry the haves, whilst still tormenting the have-nots.  – Point of Order

And if you choose to subsidise fear of Covid, you are likely to get more of it. – Point of Order

So, I was one of those guys who went from conventional to organic. But I switched back again because I like growing more food on less land and leaving a much smaller carbon footprint while doing it.Jonathan Lawler

While my story is anecdotal, so is every story shared in these activist documentaries. And while I can appreciate the awareness being brought to healthier food choices and a bigger celebration of the work that goes into agriculture as a profession, these docs are not being filmed to stop climate change or to make everyone more healthy. They are the marketing arm of the $55 billion organic/vegan industry — and yet most viewers still don’t realize the bias. They are truly fanatical and use disgruntled employees, misleading camera angles, and FEAR to convert their followers. When they cite scientific studies, if you can call them that, they are based on unrealistic doses that the farmer or consumer would never be subjected to. – Jonathan Lawler

They have cast aside an audience who uses critical thinking and opted for ideology and religious fanaticism to forward their agenda. Nothing frustrates me more than someone coming to my farm and telling me that my GM sweet corn is harmful to the environment or poisoning people. They carry on about the idealistic farmscapes seen through the lens of the latest documentary and use words like biodiversity while ignoring the biodiversity they are surrounded by on my farm. It is literally equivalent to me walking into an operating room and telling a surgeon, “I got this. I just spent two hours on WebMD.”

So what are the answers to these documentaries spreading lies at the expense of farmers? We need to speak up and speak out. When a documentary is cited, cite your experience. Cite your knowledge. Cite the science. Be as fanatical with the facts as they are with their lies. We need to stand up to this propaganda before we are legislated out of existence. – Jonathan Lawler

It’s tragic that these anxious young people aren’t living their lives with optimism. Aren’t intellectually free to pursue ambitions born from their own unique desires and attributes.

Life itself is an amazing win. The odds of being conceived are less than those of striking Lotto.

It should be grabbed and relished. Your life belongs to you and you alone. It’s the only thing you can actually control. – Lindsay Mitchell

Intelligent and sensible people are faced these days with a strange dilemma: whether to argue against evident idiocies, and thereby dignify them by the effort to consider them seriously and refute them, or to ignore them as they deserve and thereby leave the field to them unopposed, as it were.

The second alternative is increasingly unviable because the idiocies in question don’t remain confined to the sphere of abstract speculation in universities but descend to earth in the form of the foundations of public policy.Theodore Dalrymple

It might be said that Rowling didn’t have to comment on the absurdity of the new Scottish legal dispensation, for everyone has the freedom to remain silent (a freedom, alas, too often disregarded), and therefore that, in a sense, she brought the nastiness onto herself, since it was entirely predictable. But if a powerful and privileged person such as she refrains from comment through fear of the response, the totalitarians among us—who are many—have won. – Theodore Dalrymple

But, as the Scottish philosopher David Hume (who, incidentally, recently fell foul of the Zhdanovs of political correctness, despite having been an early opponent of slavery), put in his essay on the freedom of the press, it’s seldom that liberty is lost all at once. More usually, it is subject to a process of whittling.

It matters not a jot whether Rowling uttered a truth or a falsehood, though in fact it was obviously a truth. What she said wasn’t an incitement to commit an illegal act, and she has consistently argued for the decent treatment of transsexuals, whose position in the world is unenviable.

What matters is the attempt to silence her by intimidation and social ostracism. And if the attempt were to work for her, it would work for almost anyone, and then the absurdity of the new dispensation would go unanswered and unopposed. Theodore Dalrymple

The views of such people may be mocked, but the people themselves aren’t to be threatened or cowed into silence—except, perhaps, by the justified fear of appearing ridiculous, once they realize how ridiculous in fact their views actually are.

It’s alarming that there should be people who don’t see that to call someone a woman who uses his penis to rape a woman is a reductio ad absurdum of the whole transgender ideology. Only someone of a certain degree of misapplied intellectual sophistication could evade seeing it: No person who had not been through an ideological training (or whose career, such as that of the chief of the Scottish police, depended on abject conformity) could fail to see it.

Intellectual fanaticism, which is the source of totalitarianism, consists of following an argument to an absurd conclusion and then questioning neither the premises nor the logic by which the absurd conclusion was reached. Like any other faculty, however, that of perceiving or detecting absurdity withers with disuse. An age of absurdity is an age in which people (or at least, the people who count) are unable to see it. – Theodore Dalrymple

Not taxapyers’ wellbing


This shows no regard for taxpayers’ wellbeing.

Word of the day


Bingle –  a collision; a minor crash or upset.

Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Emma Higgins


Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Emma Higgins is co-host of Black Heels and Tractor Wheels. She is a senior dairy analyst at Rabobank and has held a range of roles in corporate and agribusiness. She serves on the board of Rural Women NZ and is a third generation member of the organisation. 

He’s devastated


The DJ who has taken Omicron into the community says he’s devastated.

In a statement on his Instagram page late on Wednesday night, DJ Dimension – whose real name is Robert Etheridge – said he tested positive after 10 days of isolation.

“In line with the Government rules, I was in managed isolation for seven days followed by three days of home isolation,” Etheridge said.

“During this time, I received three negative tests and showed no symptoms. After completing my ten-day isolation, and of the understanding that I had completed my quarantine, I entered the community.  . . 

That was a misunderstanding.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson earlier told the Herald the infected person did not wait for a negative test result before they left the place they were self-isolating.

It was only a matter of time before Omicron crossed the border.

Now it has and the man who let it out says he’s devastated.

If he’s devastated how will so many other people be feeling?

This variant is highly infectious. It will be a miracle if he hasn’t infected people who will infect more people.

And among the others who will be devastated will be the tens of thousands of grounded Kiwis, stuck overseas at the mercy of the MIQueue lottery who will be asking how this man got into the country when they are locked out.

Misusing our money


Word of the day


Betwixtmas – the days between Christmas and New Year, specifically December 27 -31.

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels – Chelsea Millar


Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Chelsea Millar is a self-proclaimed Agvocate and owner of Grass Roots Media, after previously working with FMG and AgriHQ. She has stepped into her Boss Lady Role – building her own business from the ground up. She’s going from strength to strength in the business world and has most recently won the Emerging Business category at our very own NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards. In today’s episode we talk about gathering your time around you, creating a special team culture and telling epic rural stories. 

Instead of nurses . . .


The Covid-response fund was supposed to fund the Covid response.

That could well have included paying more nurses – and more pay for nurses.

Instead, $1,323,000 was spent on performing arts.

Word of the day


Pertolerate – to endure to the end; to see something through to the bitter end.

God’s tech support


Black Heel & Tractor Wheels – Laura Koot


Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Laura Koot is the incredible Executive Director of The Fairlight Foundation and Owner of Real Country. Today, we talk about growing up rurally, following your passion, how she defines her success and how she got up after COVID impacted Real Country. Just a disclaimer, Laura discusses ‘lockdown’ during this episode, which was filmed before the current COVID outbreak. This episode is referring to lockdowns during 2020. If you enjoyed this episode, feel free to visit our Instagram, Facebook, and website, or even become a member! www.ruralwomennz.nz 

Misusing our money


Word of the day


Perendure – to endure or last for a very long time or forever.

Rural round-up


Farms can reduce numbers but how much do you want to pay for food? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It used to be a refrain at the family dining table: “Why don’t farmers just…” followed by topical words such as “stop using glyphosate, insecticides, fertilisers?” or, more recently, “…reduce animal numbers”. The topic depended upon what had featured in the news, but my response, whatever the actual question, was generally along the lines of “they can – how much would you like to pay for food?

The timing, as the family tucked into the delicious offerings of farmers and growers, prepared by members of the family, was impeccable as the food purchasers remembered the size of the bill at checkout.

What generally isn’t remembered is that the food bill is now a smaller component of discretionary income than it was thirty years ago. Food prices have increased more slowly than incomes because of ever more efficient production to do with technological advances.

The dinner table questions were and are important. Scientists challenge the status quo and try to identify what knowledge is needed to make improvements. . .

Water battle won but ‘sour taste’ remains – Sally Rae:

“A hollow victory.”

You might think Tarras farmers would be whooping with joy that years of legal wrangling over the Lindis River could finally be over.

Instead, Alastair Rutherford feels it is a “hollow victory” after a High Court decision to dismiss Otago Fish and Game’s appeal against a 2019 Environment Court decision to set the minimum flow at 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640l/s.

“We still can’t get excited about it. For all the effort and time and energy, it’s still got a sour taste,” Mr Rutherford, a fourth-generation farmer, said. . .

King Country shearers set new world record:

Five King Country shearers have set a record with 3740 lambs shorn in nine hours.

The crew from Te Kuiti-based Fagan Shearing, aged between 18 and 35, began the effort at Te Pa Station at 5am on Wednesday.

Delwyn Jones, Llion Jones, Jack Fagan, Reuben Alabaster and Kelly Brill all beat their previous best, with their achievements establishing a nine-hour five-stands world strongwool lambshearing record.

The highlight of the day was Jack Fagan’s total of 811 lambs. . . 

TracMap founder cheers Ag rite help OmniEye board

TracMap founder Colin Brown has been appointed chairman of the board of Dunedin-based agritech company OmniEye.

OmniEye was spun off from Greg Peyroux and Benoit Auvray’s established company Iris Data Science. The non-intrusive camera-based scoring and monitoring system provided farmers with an “intelligent eye” over livestock, allowing for better decision-making for the welfare of their herd.

Mr Brown grew TracMap to become one of the country’s largest agricultural GPS businesses before taking the technology offshore, selling its Ag Aviation GPS system worldwide, and the ground-based job management system into the viticulture and orcharding sectors in Australia and North America.

Since retiring from TracMap, Mr Brown has become a part-time independent director and is currently a board trustee on the Malcam Charitable Trust and also chairman of Vibation Action Ltd, another Dunedin-based tech startup. . .

Mackenzie students’ frost mat invention for water troughs bags award – Shourabh Vittalmurthy,:

A trio of Mackenzie College students have scooped an award for their invention which prevents water troughs freezing over in the winter.

Year 11 and 12 students, Amy Hay, 16, Hamish Ryall, 16, and Luke Jordan, 15, won the Te Arahanga Primary Industries National Excellence Award at the Young Enterprise Scheme National Pitches and Awards ceremony on Wednesday.

Their Flexi-Mat FrostEase invention is an outdoor grade PVC canvas and plastic mat welded together to create a layer of insulation to prevent troughs freezing over in winter.

The award, which is given in recognition to the YES company with the best business product relating to food or fibre, also came with $1000 prize money. . . 

Feds launches audio media platform for farming conversations :

Federated Farmers has launched an audio-based mobile communications platform, FEDSvoice, to deliver quality information to farmers and moderate safe conversations celebrating rural life and discussing the significant challenges that lie ahead.

A challenge that is top of most farmers’ minds is He Waka Eke Noa – the primary industries’ response to climate change and an agricultural emissions pricing mechanism. Feds National President Andrew Hoggard says it was the logical first discussion for FEDSvoice given the consultation date is closing in February.

“He Waka Eke Noa potentially has extremely serious consequences for rural families. We have made podcasts , hosted webinars, and we are also taking part in a roadshow in February with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ, because we simply must help farmers to understand and engage in the consultation process.

“FEDSvoice complements all of these and will keep conversation flowing and ensure we are accurately representing farmers.” . . 

Word of the day


Bellycheer – the gratification of the belly; feasting, and gluttony; to revel, to feast.

Milne muses


Maya muses


Sunday Soapbox


Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse but not to abuse.

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