Word of the day


Auld lang syne – old, long since;  time long past.

Beautifying the blogosphere


A Hymn To Time


by Ursula K. Le Guin

Time says “Let there be”
every moment and instantly
there is space and the radiance
of each bright galaxy.

And eyes beholding radiance.
And the gnats’ flickering dance.
And the seas’ expanse.
And death, and chance.

Time makes room
for going and coming home
and in time’s womb
begins all ending.

Time is being and being
time, it is all one thing,
the shining, the seeing,
the dark abounding.

Hat tip: The Marginalian

Quotes of the month


If we put a lot of new resources into altering our health services quality approaches for one issue it would remove very precious resources from somewhere else. Also it’s very likely to escalate not de-escalate … we cannot create a service to the loudest voice – it would make our equity issues worse, I fear. –  Professor Nikki Turner

Who is doing the most damage to the economy? Is it Grant Robertson with the printing, spending, cost of living crisis and upcoming recession?  Or is it Michael Wood with his refusal to supply the country with an amount of labour to actually meet demand?  – Mike Hosking 

As badly as they have cocked up the economy there are a tremendous number of variables at play

Whereas in immigration it’s clean and clear cut – you choose what sort of visas you offer and you choose the number of people you allow in on those visas. – Mike Hosking 

Our issue appears to be an astonishing refusal to offer a solution, when a solution is so easily and readily available.

Is it pig headedness that prevents him moving? He throws $60 million at bus drivers and yet doesn’t let more bus drivers in.

He argues as to whether we have a nursing shortage, given he thinks nurses are coming into the country in the numbers we need, when they are not.

What makes it really maddening is he says he is listening, when he isn’t.  – Mike Hosking 

Even the RSE part, which they have moved on, isn’t solved.

The processing is an issue, the accreditation is an issue, the fees are an issue, the wage levels are an issue and the criteria is an issue. – Mike Hosking 

So surely in the end of year prize for the minister who did his worst and provided the most damage to New Zealand Inc, no one has beaten Michael Phillip Wood of Mt Roskill. Mike Hosking 

This Labour government has long sought to portray itself as the contemporary inheritor of Norman Kirk’s and the Third Labour Government’s mantles. It may now be closer to doing so than at any point in its tenure. But it is not likely to be for the reasons it wishes. – Peter Dunne

While Labour went to the last election with a Three Waters reform programme, the unpopular details of the four water entities that form the heart of this legislation, were revealed afterwards. Its electoral mandate for these reforms is thin, making the entrenchment all the more galling.Thomas Coughlan

It should not be controversial for a government to both protect us from being attacked and having our stuff stolen, while also championing a justice system that doesn’t just punish and deter, but also rehabilitates and reintegrates for the good of society (not just the individual).

The Government’s inability to be clear about justice and crime has the same cause as many of its familiar flaws: It never did enough deep thinking in opposition.  – Josie Pagani

Instead of thinking about where its critics have a point and responding with better arguments, criticism of this Government is ‘’refuted’’ and ‘’rejected’’. People with different ideas are wrong. The Government is righteous, opponents are bad. Alternative interpretations are ‘’misinformation’’.Josie Pagani

To reject the reality of the everyday people experience is rarely a winning political strategy.

Most of us understand that crime feels serious now. We are not brainwashed – we see what is happening around us, to our friends and in our communities. Drugs easily available. Bikes and cars stolen in broad daylight. More gang members. – Josie Pagani

If the Government wants to fix problems, it has to start by acknowledging the problem exists. Then be frank about the causes.Josie Pagani

There is a principle in international law called the Responsibility to Protect that is derived from the basic requirement of every state towards its citizens. It starts with the responsibility to prevent crime. When that fails, the state has a responsibility to protect us. And if you are a victim, a responsibility to rebuild.

This is a simple template for any government.

A shared sense of the burden of crime helps communities heal. Denying there is a problem, and displaying defensiveness about its causes, undermines our sense of community and common identity. It creates a crack in which anti-social behaviour flourishes. – Josie Pagani

I think one of the great travesties of this Government, when we eventually look back on their long line of failures, will be what happened to mental health.

Don’t get me wrong, no government from what I can see, has ever got mental health right, it’s forever been a sector in dire straits, under resourced and woefully misunderstood.

But mental health itself has only become bigger and worse as the years has gone by, and arguably peaking as a real crisis now, post the pandemic.

And yet, the Government that promised to fix it – has not. Not even close. So much for the Wellbeing Budget. Kate Hawkesby

The wait times are actually so bad that most sensible people seek to avoid ED entirely if they can. One of our kid’s broke a toe the other day and the first thing I said was – don’t go to an emergency department.

That’s how bad it is, and has been a for a while actually. Now when accidents happen or kids are sick, parents are stopping to question whether it’s worth going to an ED, given they know they won’t get seen for several hours, given the hospitals are so snowed under and under resourced.

It’s a crying shame that in a first world country, our healthcare system has come to this. – Kate Hawkesby

GPs say they’re beyond frustrated, but what can you do? That appears to be what every nurse, doctor, orderly and hospital worker is asking these days, what can they do?

It just doesn’t feel right that when it comes to ill health physical or mental, that you have to stop and think about what resources you can actually tap into, and once you’ve done that, what might actually be available to you.

Worse yet, is a Health Minister who won’t acknowledge it’s a crisis in the first place, when all those of us experiencing it at any level, know that clearly it is. Kate Hawkesby

Going to school either matters or it doesn’t. Schools, teachers and the Ministry of Education say that it does, and outcome/attendance data certainly supports that view. You would think then it would be all hands- on- deck to maximise students coming to school in these fractured times.

So, I have been somewhat stunned to hear from a range of families where schools have taken 12 or more teacher only days (TODs) this year. All children are marked present for these days which is, in effect, forced absenteeism. The TODs are also rarely coordinated so a working parent, with three children at different schools, could have had up to 36 days to revamp their lives for. I am hearing of working people who have used up all of their annual leave through the impact of TODs. Some schools retort that “they are not a baby-sitting service”. No one expects them to be – just that when schools are “open” and during term time children should be able to go and be well taught.

Add to that the full-on round of paid union meetings at present …

Is it any wonder that so many children/families are seeing school as an option – not an imperative? – Alwyn Poole

And this is where Willis has the rub on Jacinda Ardern, who can’t speak to any of this with confidence. If pushed, Ardern will suggest we’re in line with the rest of the world and will blame other ‘mitigating factors’ including supply-chain challenges, the invasion of Ukraine, and the hangover of a global pandemic.

However, Ardern has also lost one of her greatest attributes – she is no longer an authentic communicator. She is replacing facts with forceful speaking. If she’s not 100% sure, she answers with faux authority while nodding furiously and wildly gesturing with her arms, then pointing to the next journalist to swiftly move the conversation along.

It is clear to anyone who works in communication that Ardern does not revisit some of her performances in the media. If she did, she would see the insincerity of her over-acting. She doesn’t present – she performs. And her style erodes not only the public’s trust, but also her relatability.

If Ardern doesn’t put in some long hours addressing this over the summer, she has no hope of winning next year’s election. Ardern’s unchecked leadership in a single-party government has not served her well. She appears flippant and dismissive. She is not the leader she was when she was re-elected in 2020.Rachel Smalley

The election will be won and lost on the economy, and Willis’s voice needs to be stronger. If she’s positioned alongside Luxon, the National offering suddenly looks smarter, broader, and safer. And remember, David Seymour will be part of the equation too.

If the country is emerging from a shallow-dip recession (and that’s at best) who do you want to lead our economic recovery? Luxon, Willis, and Seymour? Or Ardern and Robertson? Didn’t Robertson’s unchecked spending lead us down this path in the first place?

Labour can take only one strategy into this election – the party will focus solely on Ardern’s leadership. There is no ministerial bench strength. There is no list of policy wins. And there are few, if any, improved outcomes across many of the key social indicators. – Rachel Smalley

Pessimists would point out that New Zealand’s constitutional settings are under threat. The attacks may appear to be legal. Nevertheless, they undermine the spirit of our liberal order and are incompatible with it.

A Minister’s employment of a relative may have been legal, but it does not look good. It may be legal to rush two dozen bills through Parliament under urgency. Covid funds may have been legally allocated to other causes.

It may even have been technically legal to try to entrench a section of the Three Waters Bill.

But the question is not so much about legality in all these cases. The question is whether these instances are compatible with the spirit of a liberal parliamentary democracy.

Under that constitutional spirit, crown ministers should avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest. Parliament should have a chance to consider legislation properly if it cares about parliamentary democracy.Oliver Hartwich

One of the prerequisites of the liberal state is the spirit of democracy.

There are things politicians should never do, even if they are legal. Because once they do them, they undermine the acceptance of our liberal democracy as a guiding principle. And once the foundation of democracy is eroded, a country will struggle even to maintain the formal rules of the democratic game. – Oliver Hartwich

When, over the last weekend, news broke that the Government had tried to bind future governments to its Three Waters legislation, it caused an outrage in the social media.

Constitutional lawyers, commentators and political activists joined the debate. They came from all sides of the political spectrum. They were liberal, they were left-wing and they were right-wing. And they were united in their condemnation of the Government’s actions because they were incompatible with the constitutional spirit.

This is a source of hope for our democracy. We still have enough democrats supporting the rules of the game, even when they sometimes run counter to our own party-political interests.

This is a glimmer of light in a generally depressing situation where we have recently seen far too many violations of the democratic spirit.

New Zealand has a good democratic system. With the right democratic spirit, our country will blossom as a true liberal democracy.  – Oliver Hartwich

The simplest of questions: how is it possible the Government tries to gerrymander the Constitution and the way we run the country, without the Prime Minister knowing about it, and if that’s true, which I find almost impossible to believe, how does a Prime Minister get that out of touch?

Or if she did know, how is it possible that you find Three Waters, a policy that has been poison from day one, so magnetically important that you would see your Government fall because of it?

A policy that wasn’t campaigned on.

A policy rejected by councils and people up and down the country.

A policy that started with three waters then got switched to five, once again out of select committee — the same select committee that had more than 80,000 submissions, most of whom rejected it.

A policy you are so hung up on you’d enrage every constitutional law expert in the country to try and get through? – Mike Hosking

The sum total is every day this week, the Government has seen an avalanche of bad news, upset, anger, protest and disbelief, from one end of the country to the other, and I haven’t even got to the recession yet.

All governments have bad weeks, all governments eventually run out of puff, but a year out, this one is setting new records in setting fire to itself.Mike Hosking

Rongoā is traditional Māori medicine, including herbal medicine made from plants, physical techniques such as massage, and spiritual healing.

This makes it an “alternative treatment”,  but in this country it is a Beehive-blessed and state-subsidised alternative treatment.  – Point of Order

Maori traditional healers are the only alternative-treatment providers directly receiving public health dollars.Point of Order

I’m sorry that people listened to what we said and then acted on that and now find themselves in a position they don’t want to be in – Philip Lowe 

WHILE WE MAY be reasonably confident that the attack on New Zealand’s constitution will be repelled, it should never have happened. That it was legal scholars who sounded the alarm over the entrenchment of a section of the Three Waters legislation, should cause all 120 of our parliamentarians to hang their heads in shame. Their collective failure to grasp what Green MP Eugenie Sage was doing points to a woeful lack of political and constitutional awareness among those whose first and most important duty is to protect the integrity of our democratic system.

Had a similar effort to screw the constitutional scrum been attempted even ten years ago, the perpetrator would have been red-carded immediately. Not even Rob Muldoon, who was not above the odd instance of constitutional skulduggery, would ever have contemplated a stunt like Ms Sage’s. He would have known that his National Party colleagues would have intervened decisively to prevent him bringing their party into such disrepute. – Chris Trotter

That privatisation is so very clearly “one of these things [that] is not like the others” in no way dissuaded the three women of Three Waters from undermining the integrity of New Zealand’s sixty-six-year-old, unanimously enacted, entrenchment provisions – along with the parliamentary consensus that had rendered them sacrosanct for so long.

The beauty of this country’s unwritten constitution is its simplicity and flexibility. It is not beholden to unelected judges, and vouchsafes to all citizens the right to overturn with their votes what arrogant politicians have set up with their own. The only right our constitution sets in stone, is the right of citizens to participate in the government of their country. Those who seek to remove the power of the people’s representatives to amend and/or repeal the laws, are not their friends – they are their enemies. – Chris Trotter

It was a hugely ambitious project, and delivered huge results for New Zealand. 87% of homes can now have fibre connections,  got split into Spark and Chorus, and it was all done within budget. Steven Joyce and Amy Adams oversaw an incredibly competent and vital project, which stands in huge contrast to today’s  that promised light rail to be completed by 2020, and now are saying they may approve a business case by 2025.David Farrar

I can’t tell you to be kind, that was ruined for me when it was condescendingly rammed down our throats for months. So how about we try being patient, think about what others are going through and give them a thanks and a smile. – Paula Bennett

The question isn’t why Tame doesn’t sneakily rinse his colleagues for insider gossip on the merger, it’s why doesn’t the Government and the board deliver greater transparency for everyone. – Thomas Coughlan 

When an interviewer is in the chair – if independence means anything – they’re acting on behalf of the public, not their organisation. If TVNZ doesn’t want the unredacted business case to be given to National, well, that’s a problem for them, not their journalist.- Thomas Coughlan 

It’s not Tame’s job to help or hinder the entity, it’s to probe why the Government is doing what it’s doing – Jackson’s repeated bizarre insinuations about editorial independence left viewers none the wiser on this point and raised serious questions about whether he had the capability to be the minister of the entity he is so keen on creating. Thomas Coughlan 

Public media must bite the hand that feeds – this morning, Tame devoured Jackson whole. If the new entity can’t deliver equal levels of impartiality, viewers and listeners might be tempted to sate their appetite for accountability elsewhere. – Thomas Coughlan 

There is a doctrine under employment law which is analogist to the situation confronting the Labour Government.

Under employment law when there is a loss of trust and  confidence in the relationship between and employer and an employee, caused by the behaviour of an employee, there are grounds for a justifiable dismissal.

That is because trust and confidence goes to the core of the relationship and without it there is no longer a viable relationship. 

The 6th Labour Government led by Jacinda Ardern is not only incompetent but also deceitful.  – Graeme Reeves

In addition, without the consent of the people of New Zealand the Government has embarked on an unheralded and unprecedented surreptitious destruction of New Zealand’s constitution by conferring disproportionate power on an unelected minority ethnic group based on a fallacious interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi which incorrectly holds that the Treaty created an equal partnership (50/50) between Maori, however defined, and non- Maori. – Graeme Reeves

All of the above suggests to me the New Zealand electorate has finally lost its trust and confidence in the 6th Labour Government.

The Government should immediately announce that it recognises that it has lost the trust and confidence of the New Zealand electorate and that it will call an early election in the first quarter of 2023, and simultaneously announce that it will not pass any further non supply related legislation until it has had its mandate renewed by the people of New Zealand in a general election.Graeme Reeves

Constitutions are sets of rules and conventions about how rules are made. They’re the metarules of the game.

Bluffing, misleading, and sharp play are all expected in in-period politics.

But lying about constitutional changes snuck through under urgency is the kind of thing that threatens the constitutional order. – Eric Crampton

This kind of reckless disregard is the least bad explanation for what happened. If this is what happened, then Ardern should immediately have fired Mahuta for failing to make caucus aware of what was going on in her area of policy responsibility. Either Mahuta never understood it, or managed to fail to explain it to her colleagues.

Either way, the result was a cast Labour vote for entrenching a piece of policy. The Minister must be fired.

The worse version would be if Ardern did understand. In that case the Prime Minister would have at least tacitly supported this kind of play. It is difficult to consider a government legitimate that engages in this kind of play. 

Would you keep at the poker table people who made a habit of scribbling changes to the rules onto the rule-sheet while nobody was looking? Or would politely ask them to leave the table and have a think?Eric Crampton

If you’re under the illusion that the kind of furious tribal politics that afflicts the United States and Britain hasn’t crept onto our shores, then the shenanigans surrounding this political debacle are surely proof. – Janet Wilson

No-one likes to admit they’re wrong. But in this case the political face-saving surrounding entrenchment means that the Gordian knot tightens further.Janet Wilson

More puzzling is why the Government is hell-bent on spending all its political capital on a policy that people just don’t like, with a recent Taxpayers Union-Curia poll showing that 60% of voters were against it.

However, one thing’s for sure: forget the failure of KiwiBuild, or frontline health staff in crisis while the Government spends $11 billion centralising healthcare with little to show for it.

The Three Waters legal saga may be solved, but it will entrench a legacy of this Government’s bumbling inability to turn its vision into reality. – Janet Wilson

Either the Government knew what was happening – which is bad – or they didn’t, which is even worse.

If Three Waters was already emblematic of much that many voters don’t like about the government, the entrenchment debacle – the clause has been panned as undemocratic, and unconstitutional – has only likely solidified opinions.- Tracy Watkins

This beggars belief from a government that has taken the “no surprises” rule to such extreme lengths that even the most inconsequential Official Information Act requests are required to be sent to ministers’ desks as a deliberate stalling tactic.

But if true – if it really is believable for an MP and a minister to fly solo on what legal experts are calling a “dangerous constitutional precedent” – what on earth does that tell us about the state of decision-making in the Beehive?

Is anyone even in charge any more? – Tracy Watkins

If a hotly contentious clause in a deeply unpopular piece of legislation isn’t exactly what the no surprises rule is supposed to cover, what is? – Tracy Watkins

Labour would love to turn the argument about Three Waters into a debate over the privatisation of water assets. It might be a political red herring, but it feeds into their ideological blind spot about them and the Greens being the good guys and National being the bad guys. – Tracy Watkins

So rather than admit it might be out of step with public opinion on Three Waters, or gangs, or crime, or the parlous state of the health system, or the cost of living, the Government plays political games, and does things like plant mini hand grenades for its opponents, should they happen to get into office.

There’s a name for that – third-termitis, which is when ministers get too arrogant, when there are too many political sideshows and the Government starts blaming the messenger rather than the message for its slide in the polls.

Is this a sign it’s come early? – Tracy Watkins

This morning’s newspapers carried a full-page open letter from 42,576 signatories pointing out how undemocratic is one aspect of the Government’s three waters legislation.

The Government’s Bill confiscates local communities’ investment in water assets without compensation, and wrecks their future governance.

The letter focuses on the veto power the Government’s Bill gives to an unelected and unaccountable elite. The Bill gifts them 50% of the votes on issues that need a 75% majority to be implemented. This provision invites, even compels, extortionate demands.

The same contempt for one-person-one vote is manifest in the Government’s replacement legislation for the Resource Management Act.Bryce Wilkins

The Government’s arrogance and deceit in all this is breath-taking and deeply destructive.

The nation’s constitutional experts have acknowledged a public duty to speak up about the undermining of our democracy. Hopefully, having found their voice once, they will continue to do so. – Bryce Wilkins

 The purpose of pretending there are more than two sexes is to support those who have assumed non-traditional gender roles. In other words, those who question the binary nature of sex are doing so because they’re trying to make nature itself conform to an ideology that accepts the non-binary nature of gender. The conflation is deliberate, an example of what I call the “reverse appeal to nature”: “what is good must be what is natural.” But as Richard Feynman said about the Challenger space shuttle disaster, “reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

And, in the end, there’s no reason to misrepresent science: people of different genders can be supported and respected without having to distort the nature of biological sex.Jerry Coyne

Three Waters is a trojan horse for a major shift in the way we run the country. And the entrenchment idea was a trojan horse, within that trojan horse.

Wait till you see what they want to do with He Puapua.- Tim Dower 

What is it we are supposed to make of the revelation that the Prime Minister, having told us she didn’t know about her party’s attempt to entrench aspects of the Three Waters law, turned out to be in the very meeting where it was discussed?

A couple of simple questions.

Firstly, where is the media on this? The story had scant coverage – why is that? Is it not a story? Can the media who ignored it, which is most of them, seriously argue it doesn’t deserve a lot more coverage than it got?

Why did the Prime Minister tell us she didn’t know about it? Not only does that appear not to be true, but also made her look like she didn’t know what was going on in her own party. A party that went to Parliament and tried to entrench a bit of law that was so outside the norm it alarmed every constitutional expert in the country.Mike Hosking

They seem by the way to have settled on the term “novel”. It was a novel approach. “We knew it was a novel thing to look at”.

Novel is used to try and replace other words like scandal and dishonest. And then if she knew about it, which it appears she did, given Nanaia Mahuta said it was discussed and Jacinda Ardern confirmed she was there, is it possible she was asleep.

I jest.

But if she knew about it, but said she didn’t until it gets exposed, what does that say about her integrity? –  Mike Hosking

A Government is trying to up end the way we conduct Parliament, the law and elections. And what do we get?

Little, if anything.

And if we question the Prime Minister’s integrity, that also then brings in their promise to be the most open, honest and transparent Government ever — a line surely now so farcical, it will go down in political history.Mike Hosking

Crime seems to be the top topic, which by the way is an astonishing thing all by itself given the cost of living crisis. Historically the economy, the economy, it’s the economy stupid – is your driving force. So how bad must crime be perceived to top the economy?

But what about our leader? If you can’t trust the person running the country, what does that do to your vote? – Mike Hosking

RNZ is already seen as leaning sharply to the left. Many people to the right of the political centre have given up on it for that reason. Remarkably, we have come to regard this as a natural and acceptable state of affairs, but it’s not. A broadcasting organisation that all New Zealanders are obliged to support with their taxes has a corresponding moral and ethical obligation to serve people of every political shade.Karl du Fresne

Research shows that genes and pre- and post-natal environmental factors influence sexual orientation. The simplest evidence comes from studies of monozygotic twins, which are genetically identical, and dizygotic twins, which are not. When sexual orientation is compared, similarity of sexual orientation is higher in pairs of monozygotic twins than in pairs of dizygotic twins, showing that genes play a role.

But genetics is not the sole determinant, because not all pairs of monozygotic twins have the same orientation.

This is why I believe it to be morally wrong to discriminate against people because of who they are.

At the heart of the issue is the distinction between ‘tolerance’ and ‘respect’. To tolerate the views of others means that one is not obliged to agree with them, still less ban or ‘deplatform’ them, no matter how ignorant one considers their views. And one is most certainly not obliged to respect views one considers obnoxious, such as the Radical Islamic teaching that death should be the punishment for apostasy, adultery, or homosexuality. In a liberal society nobody has the right to require respect for all beliefs and practices. On the contrary, we have a right, and indeed on occasions a duty, to mock them. – Martin Hanson

 I believe that no one should be forced to publicly endorse a political view they do not hold. Martin Hanson

I would go further, for even if I were one of the rainbow community, I like to think that though I would wear a rainbow jersey voluntarily, I would most definitely refuse to do so under duress. Compulsory conformity is the way to totalitarianism.

Historically, homosexuals have been punished and discriminated against for their sexuality, but I think it’s fair to say that apart from rearguard action from conservative religions, the battle is effectively over.

So, perhaps it is time to regard people who are the products of religious brainwashing as victims rather than perpetrators.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s clear that ‘diversity’ doesn’t appear to include diversity of thought.- Martin Hanson

If the Government was smart, it would ditch the TVNZ-RNZ merger.Heather du Plessis-Allan

This is heading the way of Three Waters big time.

  1. It’s unpopular, only 22 percent of people want it.
  2. It smacks of a hidden agenda, because there’s no plausible explanation for why we need this merger. What’s the problem we’re trying to fix? It’s being rammed through urgently because they’re trying to get it done by March 1st next year.
  3. And it’s going to cost a lot of money, $40 million at last count, during a cost of living crisis.

Labour can’t afford another Three Waters if they want to secure the next election. They should be looking for a way to get out of this.

Either that or take Willie off the job. It’s clearly too big for him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

TRUST. Nothing is more important to a government than the trust of the governed. With trust, there is very little that a government cannot accomplish. Without it, durable political accomplishments are much less likely. Jacinda Ardern’s government is currently teetering on the brink of forfeiting a crucial percentage of the electorate’s trust – more than enough to cost it the next election.

Trust, of course, cuts both ways. It is equally critical, in political terms, that a government trusts the people to at least the same extent as the people trust the government. Indeed, nothing erodes the voters’ trust faster than evidence their own government considers them untrustworthy.

At the heart of the political uncertainties enveloping the concept of co-governance is the Labour Government’s all-too-obvious lack of trust in the Pakeha majority.Chris Trotter

A government untroubled by the political ramifications of such an investigation would not have kept its existence hidden from its coalition partner. A government willing to trust the New Zealand electorate would not have kept the working group’s report – He Puapua – under wraps. On the contrary, it would have welcomed the lively political debate which the unedited Report’s voluntary release would undoubtedly have generated.

But, as we all know, trust was lacking. Not only was the re-elected Labour Government anxious to keep the document secret, but those Māori with a deep interest in constitutional reform – including Moana Jackson – similarly manifested a strong aversion to debating He Puapua’s recommendations openly in the public square. – Chris Trotter

That Māori have myriad reasons to withhold their trust from Pakeha is undisputed by those with even a rudimentary understanding of New Zealand history. To refuse trust as a matter of policy, however, cannot hope to bring Māori and Pakeha close enough to jointly determine a mutually rewarding future for Aotearoa-New Zealand. For that to happen, both peoples need to trust each other enough to embrace new and untried solutions.

The Prime Minister should withdraw her objection to the creation of a co-governed Upper House. Let New Zealanders witness in public the Treaty debates that, hitherto, have only taken place in private. If there is wisdom and generosity to be found in the processes of co-governance, then let their virtues be seen by Māori and Non-Māori alike.

Trust them, and New Zealanders will, almost always, make the right choice. Chris Trotter

From the Labour Party’s formation in 1916 until the early 1970s people knew what it stood for. It supported a strong voice for people in workplaces and through their local government and Parliamentary representatives. It was a colour-blind, class-oriented party. It believed in equality of opportunity. It was innovative in international affairs and social policy. – Peter Winsley

The irony is that Labour, supported by the Greens, is now on the cusp of passing probably the worst legislation enacted in New Zealand since 1975 (or perhaps ever). If enacted, the Water Services EntitiesBill will effectively transfer control over New Zealand’s waters (including geothermal and coastal as well as freshwaters) to tribal interests. This will create at best a deadweight loss to the economy and at worse rent-seeking, ticket clipping and nepotism on a monumental scale.

Managing water assets, infrastructure and services requires hydrologists, geologists, engineers, trades people, microbiologists, financial managers and a host of other capabilities. Māori input is necessary and valuable. However, the Bill implies that tribal Māori alone have unique knowledge and expertise that can meet the key challenges in water management. It assumes that tribal leaders will act in the interests of all New Zealanders. Peter Winsley

How did we get to this point under a Labour Government? Social class politics evolved from the 1970s into today’s identity politics. The Parliamentary benches are now more diverse than ever before in gender, race, ethnicity, tribal, religious and other terms. They are not however diverse in social class. Most MPs are from the professional and management classes, are home owners with high incomes as well as high net worth. Few Labour MPs have built a business with all the travails this involves. Some have graduated from student political roles to jobs in or clustered around Parliament without ever having to make a product or deliver services that people in markets want to buy.

Up to the 1980s te Tiriti settlements involved reparations for historical injustices. However, especially since the 1987 Lands case, the focus has shifted to one of a supposed ‘partnership’ between Māori and the Crown. The Māori activist voice has moved from socio-economic concerns to wider identarian, political and constitutional ambitions.

The scope of te Tiriti issues has widened far beyond the intent of the signatories in 1840. “Presentism” involves interpreting te Tiriti as a modern rather than an 1840 document. For example, in 1840 ‘taonga’ meant tangible physical property such as a spear, a fishing net or a waka. It did not remotely mean, for example, language, intellectual and cultural ‘property’, broadcasting spectrum or water. – Peter Winsley

The Water Services Entities Bill has triggered rigorous scrutiny. Independent financial analyses have highlighted weaknesses in the government’s assumptions, the naivety of its debt financing proposals, and the failure to consider lower cost alternatives, including the more effective use of regulation – see Castalia: Five big problems with three waters.

The lack of effective governance structures and reporting mechanisms to ensure accountability will likely lead to performance failings and create fiscal risk. The Entities’ debts will ultimately become public liabilities. It is possible that the Water Services Entities will be a financial disaster of economy-wide significance. Peter Winsley

The real control over what happens with water will sit with a few tribal leaders. Te Mana o te Wai statements exclusively provided by iwi and hapu will cover all water use matters. These statements are binding on everyone exercising duties and functions under the Act.

The Water Services Entities process has been shambolic, dishonest and unprofessional. At one stage a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) was submitted to entrench in law a provision in the Bill that would require 60% of votes to change or repeal. Strong criticism from constitutional lawyers and the Law Society saw the Labour government back off this proposal. – Peter Winsley

Taken overall, the Bill gives tribes effective control of water in New Zealand. This has never been in the Labour Party’s election manifesto and New Zealanders have never voted for it. Enactment of the Water Services Entities Bill will besmirch New Zealand’s reputation as a democracy with quality institutions. However, it will teach the need for eternal vigilance to safeguard democracy. It may also force the Labour Party to reflect on what it stands for. – Peter Winsley

I saw my physio a few weeks ago, with a long list of complaints related to all this movement I now do. “Exercise is dumb,” I said. “It just causes injuries.”

Sure, he said – but not doing it is way worse. Dammit.- Megan Whelan

If more money being thrown at problems was the answer, our country would be the model for the rest of the world to follow. We are sliding backwards in so many areas of our life that revisiting examples of even moderate success (with so-called boot camps) is surely better than the undeniable certainty of failure by doing nothing.Gerry Eckhoff

One of the most astonishing things about the woke is their high boredom threshold. They seem to have the same thoughts about the same subjects, expressed in the same language, all their waking lives. They never tire or let their vigilance down. They look at Raphael or Botticelli and see only social injustice. They are terrible bores.

The explanation of their persistence, which resembles that of flies on a corpse, is that truth, which holds no interest for them, is not their object, but power, the cynosure of every ambitious mediocrity’s eyes. To change the metaphor slightly, the lunatics have taken over the asylum or, in the case of the museums, the philistines. – Theodore Dalrymple

The woke will not be satisfied until every cultural institution is examined microscopically for the moral purity of those who founded it, according to their latest and current moral certitudes—which, of course, may change, usually in the direction of more stringency and stridency. There is no such institution that can pass their test.Theodore Dalrymple

Increasingly, there is a tendency for the guardians of cultural treasures to hate what they are supposed to preserve. Many librarians, for example, loathe books and can’t wait to replace them with nice, clean computer terminals. When they can’t destroy them altogether, they love to disfigure them.

We were appalled (rightly) when the Taliban blew up the statues of Buddha in Bamiyan and ISIS destroyed Palmyra, but we have our own Taliban, the woke, eager to experience the joys of destruction in the name of absolute good—as defined by themselves. – Theodore Dalrymple

Winston Peters, aged 77, would be 80 in the next parliament. There is a role for eighty year olds but, as President Biden demonstrates, it is not in politics. Richard Prebble 

New Zealand First insisted the Reserve Bank’s remit be changed from being focused solely on inflation. It was that change that encouraged the bank to print billions of inflationary dollars.

The bank says government spending is a cause of inflation. New Zealand First’s Provincial Growth Fund that created very few jobs is a prime example of reckless government spending. – Richard Prebble 

There are some ponds politicians should never fish.

In the words of a wise ninety-year-old “do not let the shit-stirrer back on the bus”. Richard Prebble 

In yet another sign that the people that are supposed to know what they are doing, don’t, the Funding for Lending programme came to an end yesterday.

It was cheap money from the Reserve Bank to the retail banks to get cash out into the economy.

And in another of those “whoops, with the benefit of hindsight we would have done it differently” comments, they now say that they should have put more flexibility into the programme. – Mike Hosking

It reminds me of the wage subsidy programme by the Government. They swore black and blue that all that mattered was to get money out there to save jobs. And as a headline, as a broad concept, it wasn’t a bad idea.

But what about the detail? What about the flexibility?

How hard would it have been for the Reserve Bank to say “this is the deal for now but given none of us has a clue how this all unfolds, we retain the right to change things if matters require us to”.Mike Hosking

Surely someone at some point thought about that?

Equally, the Government’s wage subsidy – should you in future not actually need the help, should over the next financial year you turn out to be profitable, you will need to pay back some, or all, of the money.

Not every business was going to suffer. Some businesses were going to do well.

Once again, how hard would it have been to hand the money out with a rider?

How many meetings were held where a bit of basic common sense was clearly completely absent?

And as a result, how many billions have been funnelled out for no good reason for the next generations to have to try and pay back, because the people with the power and the responsibility never took the job seriously enough? Or if they did, never had the skills to execute it properly? – Mike Hosking

The pressure on Jacinda Ardern to sack Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is building. But Mahuta is too powerful within the Labour Party to get rid of easily.

The Three Waters reforms have become one of the Labour Government’s greatest liabilities. While there is widespread consensus on the need for significant reform of water infrastructure, including from opposition political parties and local government, the specific reforms the Government have dogmatically pursued remain unconvincing to most, if not downright offensive to many.

Poll after poll has shown that the public are opposed to the reforms. While everyone wants to see water fixed, the Minister has presented a reform programme that has been botched from the start. Mahuta has failed to convince the public of all the contentious elements of the reforms – from co-governance element through to legal entrenchment of the anti-privatisation provisions. Bryce Edwards 

The entrenchment drama has really made clear that Mahuta is a power unto herself in the Labour Government, and beyond reproach by Ardern. Although murkiness remains over exactly how and why Labour ended up pushing through the constitutionally objectionable and anti-democratic entrenchment provisions for Three Waters, there is now little doubt that Mahuta was driving the change.

Mahuta’s demeanor in the aftermath of the entrenchment scandal will be infuriating her colleagues. After all, she has been publicly blaming everyone else in the party but herself for the botch up.

The chain of events over the entrenchment is now becoming a bit clearer, with the obvious conclusion that Mahuta caused this problem for Labour, and seemingly defied the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and breached the Cabinet Manual – normally all sackable offences. – Bryce Edwards 

It appears that Mahuta, as the Minister responsible for getting the legislation passed, and working with Green MP Eugenie Sage, then choose not to inform any of her colleagues of what was planned and what this would mean. By design or otherwise, it appears that she neglected to inform the Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins who is the Leader of the House, and Attorney General David Parker that she was arranging for the Government to vote in the anti-democratic entrenchment provision that Cabinet had decided against.

Since then, Ardern has given cover to Mahuta by explaining to the public that it was a “mistake” made collectively by “the team” rather than Mahuta. But Mahuta herself has spurned that spin and thrown both the PM and other colleagues under the bus by speaking out publicly with a different story.

Mahuta has made it very clear that the vote wasn’t a misunderstanding, as the Prime Minister has tried to suggest, but a conscious attempt to bolster the reforms. She also pointed out that the entrenchment issue had actually been discussed at a caucus meeting. What’s more, she pointed out that Labour MPs had plenty of forewarning of the Green Party’s entrenchment amendment, suggesting that her colleagues, and especially those on the related select committee, should have read the material produced about the bill outlining the details of the entrenchment issue.  – Bryce Edwards 

The Local Government Minister has also made clear that she knew of the constitutional objections to what they were doing – Bryce Edwards 

There is a reluctance by some commentators and journalists to discuss a major factor in stopping Mahuta from being sacked – Labour’s very large and powerful Māori caucus. The fifteen-strong Māori caucus – and six out of the 20 Cabinet Ministers – is the biggest ever in Labour. Insiders say that they have incredibly strong leverage over Ardern and her fellow ministers.

Mahuta is one of the leaders of the Māori caucus, alongside Willie Jackson. Some commentators paint a picture of Ardern as being held hostage to the agendas of the senior Māori leaders. Bryce Edwards 

There should be no doubt that Mahuta’s reputation is at an all-time low. She was supposed to be one of the stars of Labour’s historically-powerful government this term, but has instead become one of the villains. She started the term with accolades for her new role as Minister of Foreign Affairs, but has performed relatively poorly in that role, as well as in her Local Government portfolio. – Bryce Edwards 

A bigger problem is that the Three Waters reforms continue to impact Labour’s reputation and popularity very negatively, threatening to help sink the government at the next election. Two polls out this week, showed that the party had sunk to historic lows in support. First the 1News-Kantar poll on Monday put Labour on only 33 per cent support, which was the lowest the poll had recorded for the party since coming to power in 2017. And then on Wednesday the Roy Morgan poll gave a more shocking figure of 25 per cent support.

It’s worth pointing out that Roy Morgan had the most accurate poll results in the lead up to the last election. And the 25 per cent result is probably the lowest that any government has polled since the early 1990s when Ruth Richardson’s radical neoliberal economic reforms dragged down Jim Bolger’s National Government. Notably, Bolger’s eventual response was to sack Richardson. However, Ardern is in a bind, and due to the power of Labour’s Māori caucus, both Three Waters and Nanaia Mahuta look set to continue as an albatross around Labour’s neck. Bryce Edwards 

There are no plausible scenarios to emerge from this that are good for the Government. Labour MPs may have decided to vote for the entrenchment, against advice, and have only backtracked because of the outcry. Or, as heavily suggested by Ardern, they voted for an entrenchment clause they didn’t fully understand.

The most charitable scenario – that Labour MPs, ill-informed or confused, somehow voted in error – does not absolve them of responsibility.

If the last scenario were the case, fault would in effect lie with Mahuta, for either failing to properly inform her colleagues of the 60% threshold and that it would succeed with Labour’s support, or failing to understand this herself.

Alternatively, Ardern and other senior MPs simply weren’t paying attention, and in the rush of lawmaking overlooked an incoming issue their caucus had ignorantly resolved to move on. – Thomas Manch

 No one person made the mistake, the Labour caucus as a whole has stuffed up, either through hubris or ignorance.

Ardern and her Cabinet were clearly inattentive to the problem, and, when it comes to the question of accountability – a realistic ask when a Government has attempted to change New Zealand’s constitutional settings by “mistake” – the non-explanation doesn’t hold water.Thomas Manch

The response also gives the appearance, for good reason, that Mahuta is being protected from blame. A very unfortunate perception given how Three Waters reform is perceived by a portion of the public. – Thomas Manch

The problem for Labour is that after two terms of it busily protecting the status quo and crapping on the very people it still claims to represent, a whole lot of folk will next year give it the middle digit. The rest of us won’t vote, dreaming of the day when a new political party emerges that truly represents our interests.Against the Current 

Standing alongside the Finnish Prime Minister, Ardern perhaps dreamt for a few minutes that she had somehow been transported to Finland’s magnificent Parliament in Helsinki where she could happily trumpet her imaginary democratic credentials without a backlash.

It has been observed that a peculiar transformation overtakes her when she travels overseas. At home she is usually very reluctant to defend democracy when asked, but once her plane touches down in a foreign country she becomes very keen to pose as its champion in front of adoring audiences. – Graham Adams

It is clear that what Ardern calls clarification is nothing more than legislative sleight of hand that means perfectly clear clauses have now been replaced with more obscure additions that require forensic skills and cross-referencing to decipher.

This is reprehensible behaviour by the government that shows contempt for voters’ right to be told openly and frankly what laws are being passed and what they mean.Graham Adams

In fact, Ardern’s tenure as Prime Minister will be remembered largely for her attempt to transform New Zealand into an ethno-state in which Māori ancestry confers electoral and institutional privilege. –

In the distortion of democracy that Ardern endorses, Māori are given special rights and greater representation on the basis of a radical — and hotly contested — view of the Treaty of Waitangi implying a 50:50 partnership with the Crown.

The entrenchment debacle has further exposed just how little Ardern cares about democratic and constitutional tradition. And she is certainly not repentant. – Graham Adams

Few governments have ended a year as embarrassed as this one. This week the Prime Minister had to correct a constitutional outrage committed in a rush to pass a Three Waters bill before Christmas, and explain editorial independence to the minister in charge of merging public radio and television.

Both these projects are signature items for a government that wants to be a government of change. Both offend the golden rule, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. We drink from taps without a qualm, councils are quick to fix rare blockages in drains and sewers, RNZ and TVNZ don’t need each other.

When the reasons given for a reform are unconvincing, people naturally suspect a hidden motive. The real purpose of Three Waters is suspected to be Māori control of a resource the Waitangi Tribunal says they own, but the motive for the broadcasting merger remains a mystery. – John Roughan

Were any in the caucus awake? It’s hard to believe there was no discussion of an “entrenching” clause, requiring a 60 per cent majority in Parliament if the entities were ever to be privatised. More likely there was a discussion, a foolish one, too embarrassing to admit, about how the clause would put National on the spot? – John Roughan

Privatisation is a red herring the Government has tried to use several times to divert attention from the real reason for sustained public opposition to its seizure of water assets. The supreme irony is that privatisation is not very different from what the Government is doing with them.

There is more than one way to deprive the public of effective control of a public service. Māori tribal authorities are independent and fiercely “private” organisations. Three Waters is giving them as much say over water services as any business acquiring at least a half share in a public asset. – John Roughan

What ultimately matters is not whether a service is run by public officials, company directors or tribal elites, but whether they can be punished if need be, by the paying public using either money or ballot papers. The water entities will not be accountable to customers or voters.

After the local body elections, Ardern told us we’d face crippling water rates if the Government didn’t proceed with this reform. We should have politely replied that we think we have the right to decide what we need and that facing the costs helps us decide. Furthermore, we don’t trust off-budget borrowing that must be secured against us.

And finally, now that Three Waters is becoming law despite the weight of public feeling against it, we still have one vote we can use. – John Roughan

Royal status rests on the connection between privilege and obligation.  It’s about otherwise ordinary people doing what they are supposed to do, rather than what they might want to do.

Without that, it’s hard for the monarchy to symbolise the connection between peoples and the rights and wrongs of their shared history, or even, on a good day, to embody a country.Point of Order

A third of our young people emerge from school barely able to read. Could that be because we confuse teaching – or, at least, the appearance thereof – with learning?

NCEA pass rates are rising while New Zealand’s performance in international tests like PISA continues to tank. Perhaps that’s because we confuse grade advancement with education.

Our public service is packed to the gunwales with university graduates. Yet our public systems – heath, immigration, not to mention education itself – seem to be falling apart. Maybe that’s because we confuse diplomas and degrees with competence. – Michael Johnston

Thinking is hard. But the future of open society depends on citizens who can think independently and take responsibility for their moral decisions.

The last two decades have seen an appalling decline in educational standards. Equally concerning is a decline in independent mindedness. – Michael Johnston

Some of our politicians worry about the perils of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ emanating from dubious online sources. They would like to regulate online content. But events in the last week or so suggest that some of those same politicians are part of the problem.

I’m with Postman and Weingartener. If we equip young people with bullsh*t detectors, they won’t have to rely on the government to be the arbiter of truth. – Michael Johnston

The most dangerous and destructive kind of foolishness is that of intelligent and educated people. There’s nothing so absurd, Cicero said, but that some philosopher hasn’t said it: And worse still, there’s no philosophy so absurd that it hasn’t found followers among the upper echelons of society who want to impose it on everyone else.

The desire for change and novelty at any price is part of human psychology. The truth limps and bores; fantasy runs and leaps and fascinates. People desire sensation for its own sake. Moreover, the prospect of a perfect society without unhappiness scintillates like a mirage in the desert: It’s never reached, but people believe that it’s there nonetheless.Theodore Dalrymple

Of course, men are born into particular circumstances that aren’t of their choosing: It’s inscribed in the nature of things that this must be so. I didn’t choose English as my native language, among a thousand other circumstances that I didn’t choose. But the fact that I was born to speak English didn’t determine what I was to say in it. Freedom isn’t freedom from circumstances. – Theodore Dalrymple

Well, it’s certainly true that the past can exert a baleful effect on the present, no one could deny it. But can it be true that all we inherit from the past is the weight of nightmares on our brains? This is a view of history that’s favored by those who seek absolute power, claiming to save humanity from its total misery.

Only a few seconds of reflection should be sufficient to show that this view of history is absurd. Everything we do, everything we enjoy, is the fruit of the past efforts of humanity. There’s no need to labor the point: We didn’t invent the alphabet, the wheel, the electric light, or even the boiling of an egg, for ourselves. If we were born into a place with no human history whatsoever, we shouldn’t survive long enough even to be miserable. – Theodore Dalrymple

LOOKING BACK over the five years this government has been in office, it’s hard not to feel depressed. Given the mess the Baby Boomers made of New Zealand between 1984 and 1990, it was assumed that the first Generation X government would, at least, know what not to do. Having learned their trade at the feet of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins should have been immune to the allure of grand ideological schemes; and known better than to make promises they couldn’t keep.

Under-promise, and over-deliver.” That was Helen Clark’s mantra for the 15 years she led (that is to say utterly dominated) the Labour Party. – Chris Trotter

By under-promising and over-delivering, a Labour government could present itself as both sensible and competent. Not much might be on offer, but if you said you were going to deliver – and you did – then your voters weren’t just grateful, they were impressed. The days of big dreams might be over, but Clark’s clear-headed grasp of her own and her party’s limitations, made it possible for some of the people’s smaller dreams to come true.

What was it that persuaded Jacinda Ardern to exactly reverse Helen Clark’s formula? Even with the winds of history at your back, over-promising the electorate is a silly thing to do. No government should ever attempt to defy Murphy’s Law, especially in circumstances where its supposed servants feel morally obliged to wreck any attempt to change the status-quo. If anything can go wrong with an unorthodox left-wing government’s policy, its neoliberal public servants are bound to make damn sure it will.Chris Trotter

And yet, Ardern and Robertson did nothing but raise expectations. New Zealand was going to be “transformed”. Kindness and wellbeing were going to replace neoliberalism’s watchwords of “effectiveness” and “efficiency”. Poverty, itself, was in the Prime Minister’s cross-hairs. After 30 years of the dismal science’s overcast skies, the sun was poised to break through. It was going to be a beautiful day! Labour’s whole front-bench seemed to be on Ecstasy.

But just as Labour’s big promises were on the point of being revealed as hollow, effectively scuppering the Government’s chances of re-election, big events intervened to restore its fortunes. It is hard to come up with a better example of ill winds blowing a floundering government so much good. – Chris Trotter

Over the next two years, convinced they were ten-feet-tall and bulletproof, Ardern’s government proved itself unsafe at any speed.

At the heart of Labour’s political delinquency was its conviction that the events of 2019 and 2020 had conferred upon the party’s leadership an unchallengeable moral authority. That the groups it was marginalising and (in their own eyes) persecuting: conservative Pakeha males; the militantly unvaccinated; traditional feminists; fundamentalist Christians; believers in freedom of expression; supporters of the National and Act parties; homeowning Baby Boomers; just might, together, add up to a majority of the electorate, did not slow them down.

Indeed, the refusal of these deplorables to acknowledge the Government’s moral superiority made its members very angry. – Chris Trotter

More rational, but equally problematic, was Labour’s Māori Caucus’ determination to take advantage of the party’s parliamentary majority to quicken the pace of decolonisation and indigenisation. This was necessary, they told their Pakeha colleagues, if the party was serious about forging a credible partnership between Māori and the Crown. Unwilling to risk accusations of racism, most of Labour’s caucus acquiesced. Any misgivings they may have harboured about co-governance, Three Waters, He Puapuaand the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, remained unacknowledged and unvoiced.

Only Labour’s steady decline in the opinion polls offers the slightest hope that the almost manic quality of its parliamentarians’ behaviour might be recognised for what it so clearly is: electorally suicidal. If not, then Roger Hall’s description of the Labour Party in his 1977 stage play, Middle Age Spread, may yet be applied to the bizarre mixture of febrility and fortitude that characterised Jacinda Ardern’s manic ministry: – Chris Trotter

What is it that makes this Government so obsessed with burning all its rapidly diminishing stock of political capital on half a dozen expensive structural reforms that do nothing much for anybody?

There they went again this week. Making a bigger pig’s ear of the Three (or five) Waters reform and the supremely unloved TVNZ-Radio New Zealand merger. Given the unpopularity of both these restructures then that is a rare skill.Steven Joyce

Attempting to entrench the Three Waters structure was not just a mistake but it was an insult to the intelligence of voters and anybody who’s ever worked in or near government.

There are only two possibilities that led to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta being able to whip the Labour caucus to vote for the entrenchment clause. She either did it with the tacit support of her senior colleagues, or she didn’t. If she did have their support despite the cabinet decision, then they are being less than frank, and the members of cabinet who weren’t in on it have been betrayed. If she didn’t, she is out of control and should indeed be relieved of her cabinet post. – Steven Joyce

The suggestion that the Prime Minister was asleep when the decision was made doesn’t wash. There are way too many people around any Prime Minister to avoid ordinary stuff slipping through “by mistake”, let alone something as constitutionally contentious as this. Alarm bells will have been ringing all over the Beehive, and Attorney General David Parker is clear that he was one of those ringing them. His public distancing from the melee is interesting in itself. He’s obviously decided he’s not going down with this particular ship.

So we are left with the Prime Minister’s explanation of what went on — or who is incapable of sacking one of her senior ministers who defied a cabinet decision. Neither option is edifying.Steven Joyce

Willie Jackson’s trainwreck interview with Jack Tame on Q+A last Sunday was thick with innuendo that the TVNZ-RNZ merger was designed to deliver a powerful publicly-funded media voice that would agree with the political leanings of its master. It was either incredibly loose or revealing, depending on your politics, and did absolutely nothing to ease the path of this reform.

It’s not just the Minister who does not seem to be able to come up with a good reason for the merger he inherited. The Prime Minister declared, with what obviously seemed like a good argument when she thought of it, that the national broadcaster would go broke without the merger. No it won’t. The Government funds it, and every year it can choose how much more to fund it. Unless the Government is going broke, which would be a somewhat bigger story, then the Prime Minister got it wrong.

We are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars more re-learning the lessons of history with this latest misguided merger. It’s only 40 years ago the monolithic broadcasting structure was broken into separate radio and television operations as the two platforms did not have much in common. They still do not. – Steven Joyce

Now we are to go back the old unaccountable days, presumably so we can experience the joy of picking it all apart again in due course.Steven Joyce

A broadcasting reform nobody wants, a water reform that is more about co-governance than better water services, a polytechnic reform that does nothing but add another layer of bureaucracy, a health reform which has so far done nothing any different — the list goes on.

You probably missed the Government quietly limbering up this week to merge all the crown research institutes back together again and recreate the old, unresponsive, monolithic Department of Scientific and Industrial Research — last seen sometime in the early 90s. More money, more consultants, and another trip backwards in results. – Steven Joyce

It takes a special level of political ineptitude to make voters want to cart a government out because of who runs the water pipes.

I suppose if you confiscate assets, force participation, give an unelected minority the greatest say on everything related to water, try to bind subsequent Parliaments to your view, and foist the whole shooting match on people without even taking it to an election then you get what you ask for.

All this adds up to billions of dollars wasted, and for what exactly? There’s always a dividend for those heavyweight rent-seekers in the Labour Party — the Māori caucus and the unions — but nothing about how these reforms will deliver better results for the public.Steven Joyce

This orgy of structural reform is creating organisations that serve the people that run them, not the people that consume their services. They come from a time when an organisation was all about the hierachical structure, rather than the end customer.

They are simply a recreation of the bad old days of the public sector.

This very expensive trip down memory lane needs to stop. Thankfully it is looking more and more likely it might. – Steven Joyce

Singapore’s literacy rate is 97% while New Zealand’s is a woeful 64%.

Simply put, a broken education system means each new generation is less capable than the last and the nation’s productivity, innovation and earning power all drop precipitously.

The result is less money for hospitals, infrastructure, law and order and other markers of a first-world economy. – Paul Adams

New Zealand’s tall-poppy syndrome is a key cultural blind spot, but many countries have a similar problem.

Our weakness is more subtle and more corrosive than that – it’s complacency. Our “she’ll be right” and “close enough” attitude means New Zealand isn’t performing at its full potential.

The Singaporean attitude is 180 degrees of this laidback Kiwi mindset. Over there, you must earn your way to the top, striving for excellence is championed and complacency is degrading.

There will be those who argue Kiwi complacency is a good thing, that we don’t want to be part of the rat race, but the response to this is simple: don’t expect first class healthcare, education, law and order or social welfare, and do expect your best and brightest to leave. – Paul Adams

The lack of vision among New Zealand’s elected officials, across both parties, is a badge of shame. Add to that a three-year electoral cycle that creates short-term thinking and energy-draining political turf wars, and there is no time for getting things done.

On the other hand, Singapore’s government is united by a single vision for its future. Yes Singapore’s “managed democracy” makes long-term planning easier, but it still offers plenty of lessons for New Zealand about the importance of consistency and unanimity.

Supporting the long term planning, Singapore has a world-class public service, many of whom are sent to the world’s best universities.

Singaporeans don’t just work hard; they pick their best to work the hardest.

Singapore makes no excuses about bonding these individuals: they are required to repay the society that afforded them such golden opportunities. – Paul Adams

New Zealand just isn’t getting enough capital to fuel the rockets our companies need for growth. This could have been so different if Robert Muldoon hadn’t cancelled Norman Kirk’s proposed superannuation scheme in the 1970s.

Had we avoided such petty partisanship, New Zealand might now have the equivalent of Singapore’s state-owned investment company Temasek, which was seeded in 1974 with $300 million and now boasts a whopping $400 billion in managed funds.

The investment possibilities for Kiwi companies would be incredible.

Add into this mix the intractable problem of convincing Kiwis that there are other asset classes besides real estate, and the reason for this country’s shallow capital pools are obvious and troubling. – Paul Adams

Immigration is a poor cousin ministry and has never been seen as a strategic lever.

Our national conversation on immigration has been variously obsessed with disturbing racial overtones and house price growth. – Paul Adams

Back in New Zealand, even if a foreign worker can travel to this country, it regularly takes more than six months for Immigration NZ to get its act together and issue a work visa.

In a post-Covid world, this policy might as well be a giant banner that screams, “Go Away.” – Paul Adams

According to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA), in the year 2000, New Zealand’s students proudly ranked third in reading, third in mathematics and sixth in science literacy.

By 2018, Kiwi students had declined to sixth, nineteenth and seventh, respectively. – Paul Adams

The causes of this decline are multifactorial and complex, but part of the blame is that the Ministry of Education and one of our major political parties have been captured by the teachers’ union, the NZEI.

While many teachers are highly capable, as a parent of four children it is increasingly hard to believe that the public education system is acting in the best interests of our children or the country. – Paul Adams

My takeaway from Singapore was that it is getting harder to call New Zealand a first-world country.

The issues I’m flagging can’t be blamed strictly on Covid-19. That’s lazy thinking. They’ve been metastasising for decades, right in front of our eyes.

Solving these problems will require long-term thinking and sustained bi-partisan effort. The question is: do we have the energy and courage to shrug off the complacency and do what’s necessary?Paul Adams

Finally, it is at best puzzling, and at worst concerning, that the terms of reference appear to expressly preclude inquiry into mistakes made in particular situations. That is because the terms of reference explicitly state that “how and when strategies or other measures were implemented or applied in particular situations” are out of scope.

On a literal interpretation, that means there will be no inquiry into particular delays in testing border staff (as occurred in July 2020), or the particular approach to the procurement of the Pfizer vaccine in the second half of 2021, or indeed to particular failings in contact tracing.

Professor Blakely may prefer an inquiry conducted along these lines. But, unless the terms of reference are broadened, the Royal Commission will not deliver all the lessons the country should learn from the Covid-19 ordeal. And it will not provide the form of reconciliation needed to heal an increasingly divided nation.- Roger Partridge 

The Three Waters entrenchment saga has given us — for the first time — an insight into Cabinet. And we’ve seen division.

Senior members of Cabinet clearly did not agree on entrenchment. – Heather du Plessis Allan 

Divisions in Cabinet are not unusual. What is unusual is Cabinet ministers being blindsided by a colleague doing the opposite of what they’d decided. –  Heather du Plessis Allan 

Labour refuses to explain whether Mahuta accidentally or deliberately failed to tell her caucus colleagues.

It suggests they’re embarrassed by whatever the explanation is. –  Heather du Plessis Allan 

There has been at least one other insight into tensions. A strategic leak before last year’s Budget let it be known there were massive tensions between the Māori caucus and Housing Minister Megan Woods over her refusal to free up money for Māori housing. She freed it up two weeks later.

This hints at tensions between Labour’s outsized Māori caucus and senior Cabinet members. Friction would be understandable. At 15 members, the Māori caucus is big enough to throw its weight around and demand policy wins.

But those policy wins have come at a political price. Three Waters is Labour’s biggest own goal since Kiwibuild.

The Māori wards on councils, the two permanent mana whenua seats on Ecan and the now-ditched changes to Rotorua’s local democracy caused flares of public upset. –  Heather du Plessis Allan 

National likely knows full well the PM won’t sack Mahuta. Mainly because the PM can’t. It’s unlikely the Māori caucus would tolerate a public demotion of one of its leaders.

Which means National has loads more hammering ahead of it, making the PM look weak for being unable or unwilling to discipline Mahuta.

And that lack of discipline from the PM only further hints the division is real. The Māori caucus may be too powerful for even the PM to control. –  Heather du Plessis Allan 

Make no mistake: no matter what Labour says now about the results of the Hamilton West byelection it will be – and should be – very worried about it.

Because if that byelection does turn out to be a sign of what is to come in 2023, Labour is in line for a walloping. – Claire Trevett

As for National, it is the second byelection win under Luxon’s belt in just one year as a leader. National needed the win more than Labour did in practical terms. It gives them one extra MP – and with that comes a smidgen of extra Parliamentary resourcing.

More importantly, it is a Māori MP.Claire Trevett

One of the factors of the byelection that it is hoped will come through in 2023 is the decency with which the campaign happened. Dansey turned up in person at Potaka’s function to congratulate him, saying she was at least pleased that the electorate had tangata whenua representation. It was the end of what seemed to be a respectful campaign by decent candidates. – Claire Trevett

But economic inequality is only one contributor to the worrying decline in social cohesion that Edwards wrote about this week. At least equally insidious, although far harder to measure, is the pernicious effect of identity politics.

This encourages us to think of ourselves not as a community with shared interests, values and aspirations but as a collection of minority groups with disparate and often conflicting goals. – Karl du Fresne 

Identity politics promotes a neo-Marxist view of society as inherently divided between the privileged – for which read white and male – and a plethora of aggrieved groups struggling against oppression and disadvantage. These include women (even though they make up half of Parliament and occupy the country’s three most powerful positions), Maori, immigrant communities, religious minorities, people with disabilities or illnesses (including some that are avoidable, such as obesity) and those asserting non-mainstream sexual identities.

We are told these perceived disadvantages are the result of structural imbalances of power that can be remedied only by a radical reconstruction of society. It’s effectively a zero-sum game in which power must be transferred from those who are perceived as having it to those who feel excluded. This creates conditions in which society runs the risk of going to war with itself.

Even traditional liberal democratic values that most of us thought were unassailable are under attack. – Karl du Fresne 

These trends have been evident for years but have greatly accelerated under the Labour Party government, the more so since Labour was given power to govern alone in 2020. The government itself is a symbol of the ascendancy of identity politics, with a powerful Maori caucus that functions as a virtual government within a government.  Karl du Fresne 

A striking feature of many of the loudest voices promoting identity politics and rebuking New Zealanders for their supposed failings is that their accents identify them as arrivals from other countries. For saying this I will be labelled as a xenophobe, but I welcome the fact that New Zealand is now home to multiple ethnicities. Multiculturalism has greatly enriched and enlivened our society.

What I resent is the disproportionate influence wielded in New Zealand affairs by vociferous, highly assertive relative newcomers – in academia, the bureaucracy and politics – who see New Zealand as a perfect ideological blank space on which they can leave their imprint. I suspect they can’t believe their luck in stumbling on a country with a population that’s either too passive, too naive or simply too distracted by other things – jobs, mortgages, sport, bringing up kids – to realise their country is being messed with. We have always been suckers for articulate, confident voices from overseas; it’s part of our national inferiority complex. – Karl du Fresne 

Social division has been promoted and magnified, deliberately or otherwise, by media outlets that relentlessly focus on issues that highlight perceived differences and supposed inequities.

The mainstream news media formerly served as an important agent of social cohesion by providing a public space in which issues could be civilly explored and debated. They have largely abandoned that role in favour of one where they constantly promote ideological agendas and hector readers, viewers and listeners with their own radical, unmandated vision of what New Zealand should be like.

In the process they have alienated much of their core audience, betrayed their trust and driven them to online channels that serve only to accentuate, and in some cases exploit, the deepening stress fractures in New Zealand society.

The result is that what was previously a unified and, by world standards, generally contented country is now a sour, rancorous babel of competing voices. Distrust, fear, resentment and sullen anger have displaced the broad consensus that sustained New Zealand for decades regardless of which political party was in power. Where all this could lead is impossible to say and frightening to contemplate.Karl du Fresne 

Winter is upon us, courtesy of the Arctic blast unleashed by the Troll from Trondheim. We will soon find out whether we can keep the lights and heating on, or whether Britain is about to be plunged into a nightmare of energy rationing, rolling blackouts, three-day weeks and untold human misery.

The proximate cause of our present crisis is Vladimir Putin’s despicable invasion of Ukraine, and the resultant reduction in global gas supplies. Yet the Government must shoulder its share of the blame: it prioritised reducing carbon emissions above all else, and neglected keeping prices low or ensuring availability and security of supplies. This winter may turn out to be a dry run for a much greater, self-inflicted disaster, a harbinger of a new normal of permanently insufficient, costly energy supplies that could jeopardise our way of life, upend our politics and trigger a popular rebellion.

We are nearing a turning point for democratic support for environmentalismPaul Homewood

Thanks to technology and markets, it ought to be possible to decarbonise without ruining our society and economy, but 14 years on the revolution is proceeding just about as disastrously as anybody could have imagined. In typical British fashion, our political class has taken all the easy decisions first, and none of the tough ones. The blunders, the groupthink, the demented short-termism and the mind-boggling bureaucratic incompetence have amounted to one of the greatest national scandals of the past few decades.

It’s easy to stop extracting fossil fuels or to boast about the decline of our carbon-emitting manufacturing sector, especially when we simply switch to importing goods, oil and gas from abroad, congratulating ourselves on our brilliance. We didn’t bother to construct gas-storage facilitiesor stress-test supply chains for geopolitical risk. We built offshore wind farms and solar but Britain also needed its own Pierre Messmer, the Gaullist who launched France’s huge nuclear programme. Instead, we got Nick Clegg: in a humiliating video from 2010, he rejects increasing nuclear capacity because it would have taken until 2021 or 2022 to come online.

The real world consequences are catastrophic. When the wind stops blowing and the solar panels are covered in snow, when all our cars are electric and boilers replaced by heat pumps, where will energy come from? Demand for electricity will surge, but there won’t be enough supply. The grid will implode. It may one day be possible to store electricity in giant batteries, but not today. Public rage if and when it all goes wrong will make Brexit look like a walk in the park. – Paul Homewood

Political parties have been lulled into a false sense of complacency: the public want to be greener, but not at the cost of suffering extreme material regression. Voters are worried about climate change and wish to decarbonise, but only a tiny minority are fully paid-up to the most extreme, fanatical, anti-human, anti-capitalist version of the environmentalist doctrine. Human nature hasn’t suddenly changed: we still want to enjoy economic growth, to live better, longer, richer lives. We want to own goods and travel freely. Few of us want to be poor and cold and miserable. We don’t aspire to return to a feudal lifestyle, with our overlords dictating how we can live our lives.

Until now, green virtue has come easily and cheaply. Everybody hates littering and waste. It’s not hard to recycle, or to shift to reusable bags. It’s a different matter when people begin to be truly inconvenienced (idiots sitting down on motorways) or forced to buy expensive new cars: the anger is immediate. Wait until voters are told they can’t fly to Spain, that meat will be taxed, or that power cuts will be the new normal to comply with net zero: there will be a populist explosion.

Politicians everywhere are over-reaching, having drawn an incorrect lesson from Covid, namely that we will be willing to give up on our jobs, prosperity and freedoms in the name of a climate emergency. – Paul Homewood

A side effect of individualistic meritocracy, which I otherwise support, is that those who rise to the top become entitled and look down upon everybody else. As Young put it, “by imperceptible degrees an aristocracy of birth has turned into an aristocracy of talent”. The result is the return of anti-capitalist, neo-feudal attitudes: the elites nudge and compel the masses to do what is good for them, safe in the knowledge that the powerful will retain their privileges, their exclusive “Zil” traffic lanes, their private jets.

It won’t wash. The politicians have a choice: make greenery consumer-friendly, harnessing technology to preserve the public’s quality of life, or face a calamitous democratic uprising. – Paul Homewood

Any advances on 4 Waters?
Ah, the rather imposing lady with the tattoo on her chin has bid 5 Waters.
Any further bids? Are we all done?
Going once……going twice…… Gone!
Out of public hands forever and now under the control of a small group of “private investors” who will no doubt cherish this magnificent asset as not only a thing of beauty but also a once-in-a-lifetime guaranteed investment.
Many congratulations, madam.
Indeed, congratulations to all the bidders who do appear to have been working as a syndicate to secure this unique opportunity.  – Derek Mackie 

The capital centre is tired, pipes are bursting, rates are sky-rocketing, residents are scratchy at an incoherent public transport plan, and its council has been plagued with dysfunction for a quarter of a century.

Faced with these problems, it has moved into ‘content creation’. Because there’s nothing a dose of good PR can’t fix.  – Andrea Vance

Communications has its place in local democracy – for telling people when to put the bins out, or explaining why they’ve replaced all the car parks with plant-pots (crime prevention, apparently).

But, when the country is laser-focused on public spending, and nervous about soaring household bills, this sassy online persona isn’t charming. It’s just insulting ratepayers to pay people to create cute in-jokes for their pals, pout and dress-up as a banana.

As a branding exercise, that TikTok account does send a message, but not the one these clueless creatives intended. It is a powerful reminder of everything that is wrong with our current system – the corporatisation of councils that rendered local democracy all but meaningless. – Andrea Vance

Try asking your own councillor to help you with a problem in your community. At best, they can write an email or make a phone call to bureaucrats on your behalf – generally to be met with the same intransigence and indifference that you originally experienced.

That’s because those officials are focused on protecting the interests of their employer – the council – not the community.Andrea Vance

We are all being managed by chief executives, instead of represented by councillors. And now we are starting to wear the true costs of those three-decade-old reforms. – Andrea Vance

The Government’s ongoing raid on remaining local power through a programme of centralisation (Three Waters, fluoridating water supplies, and more local government reforms which puts and emphasis on shift from managing infrastructure to “supporting community wellbeing”) will further undermine local democracy.

There was much debate this year about improving council election turnout, and improving the calibre of candidates.

Putting some real power behind that vote – and our toothless councillors is the best way to get citizens participating again. It guarantees more meaningful engagement than a few hundred likes for the marketing intern’s cat video.Andrea Vance

In political discourse and in the media, major storms and floods typically get presented as signs of impending doom, accompanied by invocations to the environment and calls to respect Mother Nature. Only catastrophes seem to grab our attention, though, and it’s rarely mentioned that warming would also bring some benefits, such as expanded production of grains in previously frozen regions of Canada and Russia. Nor do we hear that people die more often of cold weather than of hot weather. Isolated voices criticize the alarm over global warming, considering it a pseudoscientific thesis, the true aim of which is to thwart economic modernization and free-market growth and to extend the power of states over individual choices. – Guy Sorman

Scientific research should be based on skepticism, on the constant reconsideration of accepted ideas: at least, this is what I learned from my mentor, the ultimate scientific philosopher of our time, Karl Popper. What could lead climate scientists to betray the very essence of their calling? The answer, Curry contends: “politics, money, and fame.” Scientists are human beings, with human motives; nowadays, public funding, scientific awards, and academic promotions go to the environmentally correct. Among climatologists, Curry explains, “a person must not like capitalism or industrial development too much and should favor world government, rather than nations”; think differently, and you’ll find yourself ostracized. “Climatology is becoming an increasingly dubious science, serving a political project,” she complains. In other words, “the policy cart is leading the scientific horse.”

This has long been true in environmental science, she points out. The global warming controversy began back in 1973, during the Gulf oil embargo, which unleashed fear, especially in the United States, that the supply of petroleum would run out. The nuclear industry, Curry says, took advantage of the situation to make its case for nuclear energy as the best alternative, and it began to subsidize ecological movements hostile to coal and oil, which it has been doing ever since. The warming narrative was born.Guy Sorman

Curry is skeptical about any positive results that might follow from environmental treaties—above all, the 2016 Paris Climate Accord. By the accord’s terms, the signatory nations—not including the United States, which has withdrawn from the pact—have committed themselves to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in order to stabilize the planet’s temperature at roughly its present level. Yet as Curry elaborates, even if all the states respected this commitment—an unlikely prospect—the temperature reduction in 2100 would be an insignificant two-tenths of a degree. And this assumes that climate-model predictions are correct. If there is less future warming than projected, the temperature reductions from limiting emissions would be even smaller.

Since the Paris Climate Accord was concluded, no government has followed through with any serious action. – Guy Sorman

 “We’re always being told that we are reaching a point of no return—that, for instance, the melting of the Arctic ice pack is the beginning of the apocalypse,” Curry says. “But this melting, which started decades ago, is not leading to catastrophe.” Polar bears themselves adapt and move elsewhere and have never been more numerous; they’re less threatened by the melting, she says, than by urbanization and economic development in the polar region. Over the last year or so, moreover, the planet has started cooling, though “no one knows whether it will last or not, or whether it will put all the global-warming hypotheses in question.” According to Curry, the truly dramatic rupture of the ice pack would come not from global-warming-induced melting but from “volcanic eruptions in the Antarctic region that would break up the ice, and these cannot be predicted.” Climatologists don’t talk about such eruptions because their theoretical models can’t account for the unpredictable. Guy Sorman

In her view, research should be diversified to encompass study of the natural causes of climate change and not focus so obsessively on the human factor. She also believes that, instead of wasting time on futile treaties and in sterile quarrels, we would do better to prepare ourselves for the consequences of climate change, whether it’s warming or something else. Despite outcries about the proliferation of extreme weather incidents, she points out, hurricanes usually do less damage today than in the past because warning systems and evacuation planning have improved. That suggests the right approach.

Curry’s pragmatism may not win acclaim in environmentalist circles or among liberal pundits, though no one effectively contests the validity of her research or rebuts the data that she cites about an exceedingly complex reality. But then, neither reality nor complexity mobilizes passions as much as myths do, which is why Judith Curry’s work is so important today. She is a myth-buster. – Guy Sorman

No longer do we live in Victorian times. Over the last half-century we have become a very multicultural society and the relevant population statistics were given in my last article (Lillis, 2022). Asians, Pacific people and Middle Eastern, Latin American and African people now make up approximately 40% of our total population, or more than two-and-a-half times those who self-identify as Māori (Ehinz, 2022). Every person must count as equally important as everyone else and deserves both equal social, economic and political decision-making power and equal opportunity to achieve success and lead a fulfilling life. 

Is it truly sensible, in the twenty-first century, to value traditional knowledge and resource it equally to modern science? If we have Māori providing for Māori, then shall we have the same for Pacific people and immigrants from Ethiopia and Somalia? Why should our public service become bicultural and support self-determination for one group and not others? Why should our law, policy, processes and entities support a bicultural, but not a multicultural, joint sphere of governance and management of resources, taonga (treasures) and Crown lands? Why must we have a bicultural, mātauranga-informed, but not a multiculturally-informed state service? Why should one cultural and ethnic group co-govern and/or co-design and deliver services, but not Asian people or immigrants from Iraq, Eastern Europe, Latin America or Afghanistan?  – David Lillis 

Right now our secondary education system is being revised and matauranga Māori is being woven into our national science curriculum in a way that defies logic. It will make New Zealand a laughing stock and lead to loss of confidence in our education system, both across the world and at home. No mauri, or indeed any other “life force” that features within the mythology of any cultural or ethnic group, exists within inanimate things and therefore including such a concept in any national science curriculum is extraordinarily naive, betrays wilful neglect of duty on the part of those responsible, and compromises the education of future learners. There should be no place for political or ideological doctrine within the curriculum. Only objective politics and history are permissible and then only in social studies, anthropology and history class.

We need to match the quality of our education with that of leading nations, particularly OECD nations. We must provide education that enables New Zealand students to compete in the domestic and international marketplaces and we want New Zealand secondary and tertiary qualifications to be respected internationally and to remain portable to other countries. To achieve such objectives, we can teach and value traditional knowledge but must at all costs keep it out of our science curriculum. At present our education is set to become a world-leading mediocrity and we should bear in mind that, behind the statistics, our failures will have many human faces. – David Lillis 

We will not make the desired progress if every dissenting opinion is cast in negative light and if insults are taken where none are intended. All of us must learn to accept constructive criticism without unnecessary outrage. We must expose hate, racism, prejudice and bias wherever they appear, but invoking the straw men of racism and hate is especially unhelpful when we are genuine in wanting a better world for everyone. Equally, we will not make progress if our media presents only one acceptable political perspective and crushes everything else. David Lillis 

The balance of political expectations post-Covid seems to have become unhinged – which in turn could become fatal for some of the current political coalitions.

From the political economist’s perspective, it looks like political orthodoxy has got too far out of line with economic reality.

Perhaps the surprising thing is that it’s taken this long – or needed a high-impact trigger like the Covid-policy response – to get to this stage. – Point of Order

So it’s not a bad time to recap the list of things you can’t take to the limit in political economy.  For example: you can’t have:

  • a big civil service, which is also highly paid;
  • a public health service without queues;
  • affordable housing without flexible standards and easy development (or perhaps a shift in taxation to the well-housed);
  • strong economic growth without market forces and creative destruction;
  • peace, without defence spending and occasionally offering lives to collective security;
  • the privileging of some groups beyond what the majority deems fair;
  • extensive Covid restrictions without tangible real costs;
  • artificially low interest rates without inflation;
  • energy and transport fuels that are both decarbonised and affordable;
  • low taxes without growing debt; and
  • people richer than you to always pay for stuff. Point of Order

I have been wondering for some time now what happened to the Labour Party that I have supported all my life.

I am 72, which means I was voting Labour before the current Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was even born.

When she was elevated to the top job, I travelled the world bathing in the glow of her international reputation. Her initial response to the Covid pandemic was the envy of the world. Reasoned, compassionate and effective. That was the message so many of her supporters, me included, proudly shared with our international colleagues who marvelled at what was happening in our small corner of the world.

My answer to them was simple – the world needs more leaders like ours. But somewhere things changed and I wondered where it had all gone wrong. – Sir Ian Taylor

I have no idea who is advising the Prime Minister at the moment, but surely that article, on sale in supermarkets across the country where ordinary Kiwis come face to face with the cost of living crisis every week, was as tone-deaf as it possibly could have been.

The pictures of the Prime Minister accompanying the article clearly demonstrated that the crisis was not something that was at the forefront in the thinking of whoever approved those pictures. Under other circumstances, the pictures might have been viewed as aspirational, but in the context of the very real cost of living crisis, they simply flew in the face of the thousands of Kiwi parents who are struggling every week to find ways to simply clothe and feed their children. –  Sir Ian Taylor

In the article, the Prime Minister extolled the importance of being together as a family – especially in challenging times.

Well, times didn’t get more challenging than they did at the height of the Covid pandemic. Imagine how those hundred of thousands of Kiwi citizens who found themselves locked out of their country by a totally unfit-for-purpose MIQ system, felt seeing the PM finally acknowledging that being together as a family was important.

Being there when a loved one was dying. Being there for the birth of your child. Being there because you were now an illegal overstayer holed up in a foreign country with no money and no way to earn it.

The stories that were shared with me during my fruitless attempts to engage with the Prime Minister’s office over ways we could use new technologies to start bringing our fellow Kiwis home, safely, will remain with me forever. –  Sir Ian Taylor

We will be measuring the costs long after today’s politicians are retired on their taxpayer-funded superannuation schemes. And that brings me to the Royal Commission on Covid.

The convenient statement that it will not be looking to blame anyone begs the question. Why not? That’s called accountability and there is nothing to prevent that accountability being measured by the circumstances under which decisions were made.

Everyone accepts that these were challenging times when decisions had to be made fast. But that should not be a blanket to protect against incompetence or an unwillingness to adapt as circumstances changed.

One question for the Royal Commission to ask is – what happened during the 16-month period between the first lockdown, which we all accept was the right thing to do, and the second one that saw Aucklanders having to carry the burden of a multimillion-dollar economic impact under level 4 lockdown, conditions that were identical to the ones put in place a year and a half earlier?

Had we learned nothing at all during that time? It appears we hadn’t.

Instead, we sat on our laurels. Bathed in the afterglow of the praise being heaped on us from around the world. And then we watched as the world sailed by. –  Sir Ian Taylor

There are many people outside the government who worked at the cliff-face to try to provide answers to a Government that seemed increasingly devoid of them. They probably should not hold their breath in the hope their opinions might be sought over the next year and a half the commission is going to take.-

When the Labour government became the first under MMP to win complete control of the House, I really believed that at last there was a party in power that would use that privilege to show the compassion, leadership, collaboration and transparency that was needed to address some of the major issues around the growing social and economic divide that was facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

Instead, transparency has disappeared, the economic and social divide has grown and the dangers of a party led by ingrained and inflexible ideologies have come to the fore.

And into this gap has stepped Willie Jackson and Nanaia Mahuta. –  Sir Ian Taylor

What the five Māori MPs in Cabinet (and 15 Māori MPs in the Labour caucus) need to reflect on is the damage they are doing to those who argue that Māori have an increasingly important and constructive contribution to make to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand. I believe the majority of Kiwi share that view, but the increasingly inflexible, we know best, we are owed this, stand some of our Māori ministers are taking has opened the doors for those who don’t.

This is a future we can all grow together. It is a future we need to pursue, with dignity, for the benefit of our mokopuna. That was the Labour Party I used to know. –  Sir Ian Taylor


When, 10 months ago, the world learnt that Russian tanks had rolled into Ukraine, there was disbelief and immediate condemnation of Russia’s audacity in the face of international outrage. All countries were at that point forced to choose sides. It was a moment for all nations to stand up and to be counted, but for those nations that value democracy, respect national sovereignty and borders, and uphold the international rule of law, the choice was simple. New Zealand is one of those countries. Confronted with brutality or diplomacy, autocracy or democracy, darkness or light, there was nothing to discuss except how to individually and collectively support Ukraine.

This conflict is described as a war between Ukraine and Russia, but it is far bigger than that. It is a moral as well as a physical battle. It is, frankly, an existential threat to Ukraine, a war that Ukraine cannot and will not lose.

President Zelenskyy, your courageous leadership and moral certitude has been inspiring to us all. You have been our generation’s Winston Churchill, and since those Russian tanks crossed Ukraine’s border, you have been unwavering in your determination that Ukraine will win this war that it did not want and that it did not start. – Christopher Luxon

You said that Ukrainians would fight for Ukraine. You said that they would be willing to die for their country, and in laying down their lives for what they believed in and on behalf of their fellow Ukrainians, they have proved you right. In fighting for Ukraine, they have fought for the democratic values and national sovereignty that so many countries and people all around the world share and believe in, but the burden of that fight has fallen primarily on Ukraine.

Ten months ago, Ukrainian men and women who were accountants and cooks and teachers and mechanics became, almost overnight, soldiers. Their courage, their commitment, and their resilience has amazed and humbled the world. Their sacrifice compels other countries to help. We cannot stand back; we must stand up.

None of us, especially a small country like New Zealand, wants to believe that might is right. We want to believe that moral courage is just as important. But this war has proved that when you have to fight for what you believe in, you need an army, weapons, ammunition, and friends to help defend your interests. This war has again highlighted the shortcomings of the United Nations, whose purpose is noble, but whose impact is weak. This international group could not prevent one authoritarian power launching a war on its neighbour.

Every country, I think, has learnt that it is a mistake to think that they themselves or their friends can do without firepower. We might wish it to be different, but to support a collective response, we all must be able to contribute. –

When the history of this war is written, the greatest condemnation will be for Vladimir Putin. The greatest admiration will be for you, President Zelenskyy, and your courageous leadership. The greatest gratitude will be for the people of Ukraine. Daily, we see images of indiscriminate attacks on civilians that leave broken and burning villages, cities, homes, and schools, and the death of every single Ukrainian is a tragedy.

The greatest regret of this war will be the terrible loss of life that has left tens of thousands of Ukrainian families bereft. But one day, peace will come again to Ukraine. We can’t see how or when, but it will come, and at that point the international community will need to rally to support a reconstruction programme, because while the loss of life is the most terrible toll, the loss of homes and communities and critical infrastructure is also incalculable. I feel confident, even from the Opposition, in saying that New Zealand will be part of that rebuilding effort. I cannot imagine circumstances where we would not be.

But for now, in the most bitter winter for Ukraine, and on behalf of the New Zealand National Party, I send to you our deepest condolences, our tremendous respect, and great admiration. This war is cruel, it is immoral, and it is wrong, but for as long as Russia continues to fight, Ukraine must continue to fight, and we and the rest of the world must continue to back you.

We in New Zealand hope and pray that this war ends soon, and until it does, my pledge is that the New Zealand National Party, like the rest of New Zealand, will stand with you. Kia kaha.Christopher Luxon

It is seldom, said Hume, that we lose our liberty all at once: rather, it is nibbled away as a mouse nibbles cheese. Perhaps the same might be said of the rule of law, especially in countries such as Britain where it has been long established and people take it for granted, as if it were a natural rather than an achieved phenomenon.

One of the enemies of the rule of law is sentimentality. Both a jury and now a judge have found that if protesters break the law for what the jury or the judge considers a supposedly good cause, they can be rightfully acquitted in the name of freedom of protest. – Theodore Dalrymple

In other words, the judge saw his role not as enforcing the law as it (quite reasonably) stood, but as licensing certain people to be exempted from its provisions. It was his job to decide what a good or a bad cause was, and how good a cause had to be before protestors might illegally inconvenience their fellow-citizens with impunity. By claiming to be “moved” by the criminals’ evidence, he was removing the blindfold from the statue of justice and putting weights in her balance: one law for the people he liked and another for those that he didn’t.

The Lancet is in accord with this view of the law, which is no law at all. Probably a good proportion of the intelligentsia is in accord with it too, which means that the hold on its mind of the rule of law, by which all people are held to the same standard, is very loose if it exists at all. In the long run, if this trend continues, the result can only be a war of each against all.Theodore Dalrymple

The scale of this transfer of power and wealth through co-governance is eye-watering. It amounts to an effective mass privatisation of key New Zealand assets, as control is stripped from the public and passed into the hands of some of the biggest private businesses in the country. Instead of elected officials being in charge and acting in the public interest unaccountable tribal representatives will be driven by self-interest.

It is astonishing hypocrisy from Labour – a party that not only rails against privatisation and the accumulation of private wealth but feigns to value democracy and individual rights.

But after two years of the Ardern Government, we have now learned that they have no respect for New Zealand’s core values of freedom and democracy. With their jack boots, they have trampled over our traditional culture as they attempt to divide our society and crush our spirit.

But Kiwis are not for crushing. We may be slow to react to acts of aggression from government, which we generally consider to be working in our best interests, but when a line is crossed, we will not take it lying down.

So why is Jacinda Ardern losing the support of voters?

The simple reason is that she cannot be trusted. Of her litany of lies, some stand head and shoulders above the rest. – Muriel Newman

The reality is that Jacinda Ardern has a delusional view of how the rest of us should live. She clearly has no regard for our rights as free citizens, or our traditions as a representative democracy: ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’.

With the power of the state at her fingertips, she is dangerous.

It’s no wonder that Kiwis are disillusioned and no longer trust the Prime Minister.

That’s why she’s falling in the polls.

The sooner she leaves office, the safer New Zealand will be.Muriel Newman

Labour’s loss in the Hamilton West by-election capped off a tough and disappointing year for the government. Some have put it down to the specific circumstances of the by-election or to low voter turnout, but the result was consistent with the overall political trends of the last year. To that extent, Labour’s defeat was no great surprise, so cannot be dismissed as having no bearing on next year’s possible election outcome the way some are pretending.

Governments rarely lose seats at by-elections – this is only the fourth time since 1967 this has happened. But in two of the three previous instances, the government of the day went on to win the next general election, meaning there is still much to play for, for all parties. – Peter Dunne

This long, slow polling decline strongly suggests the Government has simply lost touch with voters, and that its primary task now is one of reconnection. It is especially telling that the March cost-of-living package, the Budget’s family assistance announcements, and the improved access to childcare announced at last month’s Labour Party conference have all failed to halt the ongoing slippage in Labour’s support. These were all measures friendly to Labour’s base, but they have yielded no political dividend. – Peter Dunne

The polls suggest voters stopped listening from about March, so it is hard to see a way out of the Government’s dilemma. Until people are prepared to engage once more, neither new policies nor existing policies abandoned are likely to have much impact. Similarly, as history has shown, a Cabinet reshuffle will make little difference to the Government’s ongoing fortunes.

All governments build up political baggage that eventually overwhelms them. This government is no different as the scars of Three Waters and now MIQ, reignited by the Chief Ombudsman’s damning report, show.

In the face of declining poll fortunes and these unpleasant memories, Labour’s best chance for 2023 rests with being able to put these behind it, something it seems unwilling to do so far, and present a bold, new positive face for the future. A makeover is very difficult to do convincingly after five years in government, especially when the trend to a change of government is solidifying.

Next year promises to be “interesting”.  – Peter Dunne

Having worked briefly in South Africa at the height of apartheid, I’m surprised by the degree to which the mentality of apartheid seems to have infected the intelligentsia of the United States. The analogy is by no means exact, and there are significant differences between the two countries, of course, but the obsession with race as a politically important consideration in policy-making is increasingly similar.

Recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) carried an opinion piece justifying racial discrimination in the selection of medical students. It didn’t say so in as many words, but it argued that the academic standard required of what it called minoritized students should be lower than that of white students (and presumably South Asian and Chinese ones as well, the latter being the wrong kind of minority and not in need of positive discrimination). – Theodore Dalrymple

It’s true, for example, that many of the students from “minoritized” backgrounds will have overcome, or tried to overcome, disadvantages that “majoritized” students haven’t had to face, and therefore, to achieve results even approximately like those of their more fortunate peers, could be taken to indicate superior determination and strong character. To give them some credit for the disadvantages they’ve suffered is therefore not ungenerous in spirit. The problem lies in deciding exactly how much credit to give, to whom, and on what criteria. Where race is taken by itself as a proxy for all other disadvantages (which white or Asian students may also suffer as individuals), the policy is racist in the most literal sense. – Theodore Dalrymple

The medical profession needs people of many different types, and doctors should be imaginatively aware of ways of life different from their own, especially in countries such as the United States where ways of life are so various. Early encounters with people of experiences very different from their own probably conduces to such an awareness, much in the way that travel broadens the mind, or at least is supposed to do so.

However, it’s far from certain that racial quotas are the best way to achieve the much-vaunted diversity. Even without quotas, student bodies would be diverse, in the sense meant; to argue that quotas are essential in order to offset the prejudicial effects of a system without them is insulting, no doubt unintentionally, either to those who select medical students, who are assumed to be prejudiced, or to the applicants themselves, who are assumed to need a bureaucratic helping hand in order to be able to compete. On this view, being “minoritized” is like having a handicap in golf, though one which can’t be overcome by mere practice. – Theodore Dalrymple

It goes on to argue that “minoritized” doctors will be preferred by “minoritized” patients, because they’ll understand such patients better and sympathize with them more. This, of course, assumes that human solidarity passes principally by race, which is precisely what the doctrinaires of apartheid always said. In any case, the assumption that patients always prefer doctors of their own background is false.

When I was practicing, young Muslim women specifically didn’t want a Muslim doctor because they believed, rightly or wrongly I was never able to discover, that they wouldn’t keep their confidences but rather would pass them on to their families. The loyalty of the Muslim doctors, these patients thought, was more to their community than to patients as individuals. It doesn’t matter whether or not this was a justified view; what matters is that it was the view.

More important than special situations such as this, however, is the assumption that in order to understand or sympathize with their patients, doctors must share their background with them. This is to deny the power of human beings’ imagination to enter into anyone’s experience but their own. If this were really so, there would be no point to literature, one function of which is precisely to broaden the reader’s imaginative sympathies. And the logical conclusion of this view would be that we should all have to be our own doctors since everyone’s experience is unique.

How far are we to take the idea that the medical profession as a body must reflect the ethnic and demographic composition of the general population so that it’s able to sympathize with all members of that population? – Theodore Dalrymple

I recall an eminent professor of surgery who was brilliantly able to tailor his explanations to the intellectual and cultural level of his patients, all without the slightest hint of condescension, talking down, or lying to those who would’ve been unable to grasp the greater complexities of their condition. This ability was the result of his natural ability, long experience, and enduring interest in the well-being of his patients. He was appreciated by all types and condition of people, to whom he had an equal ethical commitment, and all of whom (justifiably) placed their trust in him to do his best for them.

This, surely, is the ideal to be aimed at, not the enclosure of doctors into demographically balkanized communities in which only like may treat like. In any case, selective matching of doctors to the populations they serve can be done only on a few characteristics, chief among which, in the philosophy of the author of the JAMA article, is race. This, whether he wants it to be or not, or whether he knows it or not, is an attribution of importance to race in human affairs with which Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd himself would’ve heartily agreed.Theodore Dalrymple

It was a weird scene last week as the Prime Minister granted time in what looked like her Christmas grotto to the parliamentary gallery journalists.

It looked festive but at the same time ever so slightly tragic. The tree was decorated but not lavishly — so just a bit too much tree and not enough bauble, kind of like the country right now. The idea is there, it’s just been a bit messed up. – Mike Hosking 

The trouble of late for her is she has lost her confidence, and you can see it every time she is on the telly.  Ardern is mostly covering the cold, hard truth that this has been a disastrous year.

Capped off last weekend with the predictable byelection loss in Hamilton West, this has been the year where a number of ugly shortcomings have been badly exposed.

The Three Waters entrenchment saga, obviously, is the star of the show. Either way, Ardern comes out looking dreadful. She either knew and therefore lied about not knowing; or didn’t know, hence she should’ve sacked Nanaia Mahuta for attempted sabotage.Mike Hosking 

However, because she lacks any real authority in the Māori caucus, she didn’t. So yet again she has to suck it up and try her best to make out that it’s not as big a shambles as it clearly was. – Mike Hosking 

The reality is they haven’t taken too much on, they’ve just not delivered anything — so it’s all piled up and makes them look like they can’t deliver, which of course they can’t. Fortunately, for most of us, a lot of the stuff they haven’t delivered we didn’t want anyway, so when it gets dropped it will be a relief, and one more thing the Nats don’t have to undo as of November.

Ardern declared that some of the programme that would be jettisoned was not because it was ideological nonsense but because they wanted to “make the economy a priority”. A Government making the economy a priority shouldn’t of course need stating, given it should be 1, 2 and 3 on the priority list on any given day anyway.

Sadly, the way she phrased it, once again just seemed to reiterate that they can really only concentrate on one thing at a time, and given economies make or break governments it’s probably wise to spend a bit of time on it, especially given they’ve wrecked it so badly the Reserve Bank thinks we are headed for a recession.

That, sadly, is what next year will boil down to, whether they’re prioritising it or not.Mike Hosking 

Forget all the rest of the madness, the Fair Pay agreements, the new taxes, Three Waters, the income insurance, He Pua Pua, the TVNZ/RNZ merger, the labour crisis, the wage/price spiral, school absenteeism, the poverty figures, the ram raids and general violence, the emergency housing debacle, the light rail not started, taxing farmers, the trade deficit (I’m worn out writing it all down) – the economy is what makes or breaks all governments, and the grand irony here is the collaboration between Grant Robertson and Adrian Orr to print a blizzard of money so great it would bury us in election year cannot be lost on those of us who questioned the tactic for the past two years.

So, basically, they will lose next year because they’ve wrecked the joint — even Winston Peters won’t touch them.

They will work hard telling you it isn’t so, but as much as they may hope the sun shines over the summer break and we forget all about it, the die is cast. – Mike Hosking 

This is a council that’s full of people who are non-religious, religious, of different ethnicities and I intend to run a secular council here which respects everybody and I will not be veering from that. Craig Jepson

THE QUESTION dividing Kaipara’s electors, and the rest of New Zealand, is one of political legitimacy and cultural power. Whose protocols should prevail: the standing orders of the local council; or, the tikanga of the local iwi?

In strictly legal terms, the standing orders of the Kaipara District Council, as interpreted by the elected head of the council – Mayor Craig Jepson – must prevail. The order of business, and the manner in which that business is conducted, is for him – and for him alone – to determine.

Except, in the rolling maul that is New Zealand’s racial politics, the letter of the law no longer counts for very much. As events in Kaipara have proved, it’s all about who can mobilise the most outrage – especially in the news media and online.- Chris Trotter

At the heart of the controversy lies Ms Paniora’s attempt to begin the first meeting of the newly-elected Kaipara District Council with a karakia, or prayer. According to standing orders, it is the Mayor who has the responsibility for opening the Council’s inaugural meeting. This he was attempting to do when Ms Paniora interrupted the proceedings with a request to recite a karakia, and upon being refused permission, protested, and had to be brought to order by the Mayor.

Ms Paniora justified her interruption of the proceedings by claiming that the Mayor was acting in defiance of tikanga (custom and practice). Mayor Jepson responded by taking a firm stand on the secular character of political authority in New Zealand – a doctrine derived from the liberal-democratic insistence upon the separation of Church and State: Chris Trotter

Given that New Zealand is one of the most secular nations on earth, with fewer than half the population evincing religious belief, the Mayor would appear to be on solid ground. Rather than privilege one councillor’s religion over everybody else’s, his solution, to have no prayers at all, struck many New Zealanders as eminently sensible.

In the ears of many Māori, however, Mayor Jepson’s words struck an unmistakably “racist” note. In their estimation, it is not for Pakeha, no matter what political office they may hold, to prevent a young Māori woman from upholding tikanga by initiating a hui (meeting) with a karakia seeking God’s blessing upon the proceedings. Jepson’s actions kindled an angry response from Māori (and not a few Pakeha) across the country. Who did he think he was?

Well, he probably thought he was the legally recognised leader of the Kaipara community. The 4,228 votes he received from the electors of the Kaipara District, representing 50.5 percent of the 8,366 votes cast, earned him the title, status, and powers of Mayor.

Once, that title would have merited the respect of the news media, but – no more. The mainstream news media remained steadfastly silent on the subject of Mayor Jepson’s political legitimacy, and his legal authority as Chair of the Council. It similarly refused to address the question posed by the Mayor concerning the appropriateness, or otherwise, of injecting religion into what are generally understood to be secular proceedings. All that seemed to matter was that he had silenced a young Māori ward councillor at her first meeting – an action which most of the news media’s reporting strongly implied was racist in both intent and effect. – Chris Trotter

That none of these numbers were taken all that seriously is attributable to the widely held view among Māori, and some Pakeha, that New Zealand’s liberal-democratic system is a relic of colonisation, rendering it both oppressive and morally repugnant. Accordingly, in the mainstream news media’s reporting of the Kaipara controversy the political weight of the protagonists has been determined, almost entirely, by their ethnicity. That Māori have taken offence at the behaviour of a Pakeha politician is deemed to be resolvable only by the latter’s more-or-less total capitulation to the former.

That Mayor Jepson has announced a compromise solution to the contretemps, whereby each councillor will, in turn, be given the opportunity, before the formal opening of Council meetings, to invite his or her fellow councillors to join them in a meditation, prayer, or incantation of their own choosing, has been represented as too little, too late. In matters of this sort only the most complete abasement before the tikanga of the mana whenua (local wielders of power) will do. Chris Trotter

What the country has been witnessing in Kaipara is a struggle for political legitimacy and cultural power. Intended, or not, Ms Paniora’s bid to recite a karakia in the opening seconds of the newly-elected council’s first meeting constituted a test to see whose ways would prevail in the Kaipara District. The ways of the inheritors of the Anglosphere’s liberal-democratic system of government, with its historical suspicion of social hierarchies and religious sentiments, and its secular faith in the egalitarian rules of orderly deliberation? Or, the ways of Te Ao Māori: imbued with spirituality, guided by tikanga, and executed by those with the mana to both convince, and to command? – Chris Trotter

“The only poll that matters is the poll on Election Day”. What did Hamilton West tell us? What opinion polls cannot tell. Will those responding to pollsters vote?

The answer is, no they will not vote. The Hamilton West turnout was just 29.76 per cent – unheard of for a bellwether seat.

Commenters who have never run an election campaign say the low poll means the result is meaningless. The significance of Hamilton West is the low turnout.

How parties lose elections is their voters stay at home.Richard Prebble

Labour’s ground game has collapsed. It does not matter how good Labour’s voter ID system is, without volunteers it is useless.

The media reports there were just 40 campaign workers when Ardern visited Labour’s campaign headquarters. Many of them would have been paid officials.

Without the volunteers Labour cannot turn out the voters in South Auckland that it needs to win a general election. – Richard Prebble

The minor parties polled very badly. The minor party vote collapses when voters want to change the government.

But the by-election’s most significant message is that Labour has lost its greatest electoral asset. “Jacinda Mania” saved Labour in 2017. Ardern did not win but did enough for Winston Peters to make her Prime Minister.

In 2020 Ardern did win the election. Voters told pollsters they were voting for Ardern. Few people knew or cared what was in Labour’s manifesto. They believed Ardern had saved us from Covid. They trusted Ardern. Voters thought she would keep the country free of Covid.

It was a false hope.Richard Prebble

As voters voted for Ardern and not Labour, voters are holding the PM responsible.

Two years ago Ardern was the preferred Prime Minister of 60 per cent of voters. Now she is the choice of just 29 per cent. It is an unprecedented fall. When Helen Clark lost to John Key, Clark was still the preferred prime minister of 44 per cent of the electorate. –

Luxon attending a public meeting and meeting voters on the streets is campaigning.

Ardern knew if she had campaigned it would have been counterproductive. The anti-vaxxers would have protested. Her presence would have motivated hostile electors to vote.

For two elections all a Labour candidate had to do was be photographed with Ardern and have the leader do a walkabout.

Their only good news is Ardern is polling ahead of Luxon. Her polling is falling, his is rising. The gap is just six per cent.

As the Opposition leader gets more equal coverage in election year his support will rise. Voters already think Luxon is more economically competent. Hamilton West confirmed he can campaign. She cannot. Ardern is electorally toxic. Next year Luxon will overtake Ardern as preferred PM.

When both the leader and the party trail in the polls they go on to lose the election. – Richard Prebble

Freedom of expression has been pushed to the margins. Although, with a few exceptions, the Government has not actively or outwardly restricted freedom of expression it has nevertheless narrowed the scope of what may be considered acceptable.

The narrowing of scope has been led by the Prime Minister, Ms. Jacinda Ardern. Ms. Ardern is a trained communicator in that she holds a degree of Bachelor of Communication Studies (BCS) in politics and public relations.

Public relations is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization – in her case the Government – to the public in order to influence their perception. Ms. Ardern has done this very successfully. But in managing and disseminating the Government message she has been very careful to ensure that contrary views, criticism and contradiction are pushed to the sideline, so that those views are diminished and devalued and are of no account.- David Harvey

As expectations and the standard of living increase, so will the number of fundamental human rights.

The provision of tangible benefits as of right not only creates a psychological dialectic between ingratitude when a right is fulfilled and grievance when it is not, but it imposes forced labour on everyone in order to pay for the fulfilment of those supposed rights, which are not free gifts of nature but have to be provided by human activity.Theodore Dalrymple

A coalition of the self-pitying is so powerful because reasons to feel sorry for oneself are legion and always plausible, and therefore they are numerous. Why, even the most fortunate can, with a little effort, make themselves out to be victims. Mankind, at least modern mankind, is united by self-pity.

Those who make a career of appealing to this protean emotion enjoy a great rhetorical advantage, for practically all of us, myself included, would claim to be on the side of the underdog, at least in theory, and would feel shame in openly sympathising more with the rich, powerful and successful.Theodore Dalrymple

I am a typical sentimentalist in that I am more attracted to people who are failures in life than to successes. I do not think that this is wholly attributable to the more flattering comparison with myself that failures allow me to make: it is rather that they stimulate a melancholy, both pleasing and painful, that renders their company grateful to me. Moreover, the reasons for failure (at least in people whom one thinks could have been successes if they had been more fixated upon it) are more complex, more multi-dimensional, than those for success. In short, failures are more interesting than successes. – Theodore Dalrymple

To return to the disconnection between personal feelings of sympathy, pity and so forth on the one hand, and public policy on the other. I accept that on occasion abstract arguments from the dismal science (political economy) may be used to justify personal meanness or disinclination to give to those less fortunately placed than oneself, but that does not mean that the arguments are always wrong.

It is easy and tempting to confuse these two realms, and advantageous too if one is running for office. Many people are confused by the confusion, such that the word solidarité in France, for example, now means redistribution of resources by bureaucratic means rather than individual action consequent upon any actual feelings, though the word nevertheless retains the connotation of those feelings.

No doubt the confusion of the two spheres has always existed: it is difficult, if not impossible, to look down the two ends of a telescope at the same time. But it seems to me that our epoch is particularly propitious for the confusion because of the decline in religion, or rather belief in the truth of the historical claims upon which religion is based.Theodore Dalrymple

The Sermon on the Mount enjoins us not to judge, and from this commandment stems the untruth (for example) that addiction to heroin has no moral aspect whatever and is straightforwardly a disease like any other. This is untrue and obviously untrue, but so anxious are we not to be censorious that we abandon judgment altogether. Judgment, however, is like Nature in Horace’s Epistle: though you drive it out with a pitchfork, yet it will return. We must judge when not to judge, and remember that blame does not preclude sympathy unless we think of human beings as not only perfectible but already perfect except for their circumstances. – Theodore Dalrymple

Bad constitutional processes are necessarily worse than bad policy processes.

Constitutions, whether written or unwritten, are our basic rules about how we make laws and elect representatives. Constitutional change deserves extensive deliberation and widespread consensus.

Sneaking through a constitutional change, under urgency, on a Supplementary Order Paper, with barely a mention, is its own unique kind of bad. It disowned important parts of our constitutional heritage.

But the constitutional issue was not the only problem. Section 116 of the Three Waters legislation, which Minister Nanaia Mahuta sought to entrench, will still cause problems. It apparently prohibits water services entities from divesting ownership, even for stranded or obsolete assets, and devolving control of water service infrastructure to firms with greater expertise.  – Eric Crampton

Blocking valuable options is a bad idea. – Eric Crampton

Minister Mahuta did violence to our constitutional traditions while attempting to entrench Section 116. It was the most important problem with that section. But it was not the only problem.Eric Crampton

The Treasury has released a new report to accompany its Living Standards Framework.

The framework is a salad of abstract concepts like ‘’knowledge’’, ‘’voice’’ and ‘’subjective wellbeing’’ attractively arranged in columns and bubbles with no development of logical relationships between them. Nor any use of old-fashioned analytic tools such as whole sentences.

Attempting to give meaning to the framework, the Treasury has published a discussion of ‘’12 Domains of Wellbeing’’. I count 44 in the framework, but perhaps maths is not in Treasury‘s toolkit either.

Anyway, the nation’s leading economic agency is trying to define ‘’advantage’’ and ‘’disadvantage’’, how to measure them and understand the causes, and ‘’the normative challenge of assessing whether advantage and disadvantage is cause for concern’’.

In summary, the Treasury finds that ‘’life is better for some people than for others’’. Crikey! Who knew?

It adds, “Life has got better over time in some ways but worse in others”. That sentence is so banal that I can’t be bothered coming up with a sarcastic barb. – Josie Pagani

‘’Wellbeing’’ is the descent of politics into diplomacy and bureaucratic blancmange. Who could disagree with ‘’wellbeing’’?

Well, me. ‘’Wellbeing’’ does public policy by replacing choices and priorities at the heart of politics with fog. Instead of looking around us and seeing obvious problems to fix, we get: Depends what you mean by ‘’disadvantaged’’.Josie Pagani

Politics should be about priorities. Mine would be inequality. Housing, healthcare (including dental care, mental health) and education for everyone. An economy that delivers well-paid working class jobs. – Josie Pagani

I expect policy advice to highlight the costs and benefits of alternatives, to strip bare tradeoffs, and present practical menus of options. I expect sophisticated evaluation of whether policies are achieving what they are meant to.

When advice instead hides choices behind wellbeing mush, no political constituency is ever built for underlying ideas. If no-one can disagree with ‘’wellbeing’’ then no-one can ever win an argument for it either.

The idea of ‘’wellbeing’’ as a political project has emerged from the takeover of our social institutions by an educated middle class that thinks it’s being progressive. Instead it signals its elite status.

All of our major economic, social and cultural institutions are dominated by this class – political parties, publicly funded posts and media (yes, including me).

It has led to the celebritisation of politics and the exclusion of meaningful ideology (in the sense of a coherent system of ideas). Everyday working people are invisible.

Ironic when we’ve come to appreciate the importance of diversity in our institutions, of gender and ethnicity, but not class, lived experience or political ideology.

For most of the 20th century, public institutions were strikingly egalitarian in an economic sense. Classes mixed in churches, RSAs and rugby clubs, and so shared many social interests. There were cruel inequalities, though, between genders and races, and a stifling orthodoxy. So those social institutions withered.Josie Pagani

The promise of merit is that the Pasifika daughter of a minimum-wage worker should have the same life opportunity as the Pākehā son of a banker.

But what these Wellbeing papers reveal is a special club of merit, where members know the secret handshakes. If you’re not fluent in the cultural preferences of the educated class, you don’t belong.

The second, deeper, problem is that by definition not all of us are meritorious. Most of us are average. We are just going about our lives. Those of us who are not winners need to be seen too.

I suppose wellbeing is trying to find a language to understand this mysterious phenomenon of people whose periodic ‘’disadvantage’’ is a ‘’cause for concern’’.

I have a better alternative: make our public institutions genuinely representative, so the priorities and language of working people will surface on their own.

This mush is the opposite of progressive. Tough choices are obscured behind fifty shades of bureaucratic beige. That makes for an amusing column. Less amusing, it stops us making decisions at all. – Josie Pagani

The Climate Cult worships two green idols – electric vehicles and wind-solar energy. This is part of a futile UN scheme promoting “Net Zero Emissions” which aims to cool the climate of the world by waging war on CO2 plant food.

Green worship is the state religion of all western nations. It is promoted by billionaires with other agendas, and endlessly repeated by the UN, the bureaucracy, all government media, state education and most big business leaders.

The promotion of electric cars and trucks will cause a great increase in the demand for electricity to replace diesel, petrol and gas. – Viv Forbes

Soon after the last coal power plant is demolished, in a snap of still, cold, cloudy weather the lights will go out, electric trains will stop, and battery-powered food deliveries to the cities will falter. There will be uproar in Parliaments, and all Green/Teal/ALP governments will fall. The ABC will blame “climate change”.

Energy Realists will take over. They will immediately place orders for dozens of modular nuclear power plants.

But this energy reality will come too late. Long lines of city dwellers with bicycles, wheel-barrows and old diesel utes will flee from the hungry cities.

Some of these power refugees may get jobs harvesting potatoes and onions with digging forks, milking cows by hand, or plucking and cleaning chooks.

Re-powering and re-building will take decades.

All this for zero climate benefits – the world has passed the peak of this interglacial and the next long glacial cycle is edging closer.Viv Forbes

Perceptions can erode trust and confidence so the Public Service must have high standards when procuring services on behalf of New Zealanders,” said Mr Hughes.

Poorly managed perceived conflicts of interest can be just as damaging to public trust and confidence as poorly managed actual conflicts of interest. – Peter Hughes 

How we manage those conflicts matters.

It can either build trust in our public service or it can erode it, so it is fundamental that we get this right. And that is what we will do. – Peter Hughes 

Western culture is in decline, mired in a web of nihilism, as evidenced by Western discourse, upticks in rudeness, and a general lack of innovation. This dearth of decency has resulted in a culture devoid of respect for individuals, even among ordinary people. A form of public shaming would socially pressure individuals to act with respect and decency in public, at minimum, if not help cultivate respect for people. This version of shaming specifically does not include social media blasts, “doxing”, or “cancel culture,” as these actions are not about encouraging better behavior, but intimidating people or trolling opportunities. They are not aimed at improving public discourse, and are not what I’m advocating. I propose a shared set of principles and facts enforced by social cohesion, to encourage responsible behavior and strongly discourage bad public behavior. Those who breach the boundaries would be denied service or access to businesses or socially ostracized. Understandably, shaming is a highly disputed concept. – Elizabeth Johnson

Public sensibilities about how all people should be treated have, rightly, evolved towards more just laws and conventions. From severing limbs, to public whippings, to being shut out from society, public shaming can be draconian and dangerous, particularly under religious rule. We know shame can trigger depression and other detrimental mental health events. Low self-esteem and depression have long shared a link, though we still don’t know whether low self-esteem is a precursor to depression or a component of it. Self-esteem is critical to an individual’s sense of agency, and shaming tends to diminish self-esteem. Wouldn’t advocating public shaming take society backwards, to a more cruel time?

On a social level, is public delinquency not the price of free expression? Should democratic societies not simply endure nonsensical tirades, occasional outbursts, and arguments made in bad faith? What of the possibility of people taking shaming too far? While society must remain receptive to new, novel, and counterintuitive ideas, the burden lies on those advancing new ideas to provide proof or evidence of those novel claims. Social shaming is not dependent on the government prohibiting speech, but on peers holding peers to social standards. Finally, most importantly, wouldn’t any form of shaming be the majority tyrannizing social minorities, as Tocqueville warned?

While the majority could tyrannize the minority, we know the minority, even to an individual, holds a vested power.Elizabeth Johnson

 A healthy society rejects noxious behavior swiftly and consistently. Actions taken in public, especially involving strangers, must be respectful and responsible. Society must simply demand greater respect for and from the individual. Those unwilling to behave should be denied the opportunity to participate in public privileges. – Elizabeth Johnson

The company has a standard for the appearance of people representing them, and they enforce that standard. Likewise, hospitals and care units are posting signs with a patient and visitor code of conduct, which “spells out unacceptable behavior such as yelling, swearing, spitting, and making offensive remarks about race, ethnicity, or religion.” Violators are warned and may be removed from the premises. These are the sorts of standards our businesses and public spaces should continue to enforce. Those called out publicly for violating these norms should be uncomfortable, as the purpose is to discourage such behavior.

At the turn of the century, G.K. Chesterton wrote, “It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.” Regardless of the century, shaming reminds us of the social responsibilities we all share in maintaining a respectable collective discourse. Social shaming maintains a social code and cohesion without involving the legal system. These are “rules” informing daily life, but not rising to the level of illegal activity. Shaming is a method useful in preventing further decline of the Western world, perhaps even reversing the decline.

While shaming sounds harsh, it remains a valuable cultural custom. We have laws prohibiting violence and lewd acts. We need to widely encourage conventions preventing public delinquency and rudeness. Used like this, shaming acts as a guardrail, helping to keep society on the asphalt moving forward. – Elizabeth Johnson

It’s bizarre. I mean, Kim Kardashian is more selfie-shy than these two. And she made a sex tape.

Moreover, much of it pre-dates the alleged campaign of hate and misinformation against them. It’s almost as though, right from the start, they had a certain narrative they wanted to shape — and that documenting everything fed into their narcissistic little plan.

Because that’s how Harry and Meghan appear to many of us: the ultimate narcissists in an age of narcissism.

They’re the Duke and Duchess of Influencers — arrogant enough to believe their every spit and cough matter; and shameless enough to do whatever it takes to monetise it. – Sarah Vine

To me this will be remembered as the year that this appalling, tyrannical and racist Government got found out.

As I’ve observed the efforts of our Government over the last couple of years, I’ve seen a group of people who are distracted by things that are less important to the needs of the country and its people, instead of focusing on the tough stuff that we need to get on with.

Those distractions include a desire to be seen leading on the international stage. Some call it virtue signalling. Taking a position on climate change or cracking down on freedom of speech, and the global headlines that go with it. We seem to be fixated on ideology, historical grievances, and even mythology. All leading to an apparent desire to change the way we do things.

As a result, it’s the year that we finally lost trust in many of our core institutions. These include our belief that the health system, our education institutions, our police and indeed our government, were actually there to help us and to carry out a set of initiatives and obligations that are designed to help us become better. – Bruce Cotterill

We are failing on so many fronts, and the list of things to do is so long, that the distractions somehow seem easier to deal with, for both the Government and the media who seek to cover them.

Just think, it’s a lot easier to throw a billion dollars at overseas climate change issues than it is to spend that billion dollars cleaning up our own harbours, which are currently unswimmable due to the presence of faecal matter.

If we were able to put the distractions to one side for a moment, we should recall that this Government campaigned on improved housing, child poverty, transparency and kindness. Each of those issues have seen the Government fail massively. – Bruce Cotterill

And as we review the current state of the nation, elsewhere we might look to law and order, where the behaviour of our gangs and the ongoing widespread distribution of drugs continues to decimate families and communities. It seems we’ve learned that it’s easy to get the prison population down. Just let more criminals onto the streets. The problem with that is that crime grows, goes unpunished and good law abiding people become victims.

Youth Crime, particularly the new night-time sport of ram raiding to order has resulted in scenes more akin to South Africa than New Zealand.Bruce Cotterill

Our reputation for quality education is in tatters. When 40 per cent of kids aren’t going to school and a third of those that are going can’t read, write or do maths to a suitable level you know you have a problem. This week’s news that some primary teachers suffer from “maths anxiety” which makes it difficult for them to teach maths should prompt us to say “enough”! Tomorrow’s Schools didn’t work. It’s time to get back to the basics that yesterday’s schools taught so well.

To be fair, the education shambles is not one government’s doing. It’s taken a generation to ruin our once world-class education system and it will take a generation at least to turn it around fully. But we need to get on with it. – Bruce Cotterill

In the meantime the distractions have taken up plenty of time.

They include centralising health and tertiary education for no good reason. They include changing the teaching curriculum for reasons that are idealist at best, and just plain wasteful at worst.

As a result of 2022, we should be questioning the performance of our key institutions such as the Reserve Bank and the Supreme Court.Bruce Cotterill

And let’s remember that both the Governor and the Finance Minister are mutually culpable for one of our greatest disgraces of the last five years. That of encouraging first-home buyers into an overheated property market based on cheap money that was only ever going to become more expensive in the near term. The fallout of this particular calamity is yet to hit us. But it will. And some of those young people who dared to act on their dreams will have to start again. That particular disaster was every bit as avoidable, and will be every bit as sad, as many of the saddest MIQ stories.

And as for the Supreme Court. They’ve made a couple of decisions this year that have made some commentators suggest that they are taking an activist approach, and in doing so, setting law in advance of Parliament, the country’s natural lawmakers. We should be questioning their behaviour and their future role. –

For my money, our heroes of the year are our farmers. They continue to grow food more sustainably than ever, and are more environmentally friendly than any of their overseas counterparts.

The fact that our Government, desperate to be recognised and approved by their “global networks” of do-gooders, continue to place legislative barriers in front of them, is a great shame and another distraction. And yet, it is the farmer who continues, day in and day out, to farm the land and tend his flock for the benefit of the country’s export dollars.

At a time when our tourism industry — once our top income earner — continues to suffer immensely from the draconian treatment it received on every front during and immediately after Covid, our farmers are all we’ve got in terms of major export receipts. I’m hoping the next government sees them for what they are and makes their life as easy as they deserve. – Bruce Cotterill

But sadly, the wins are outnumbered by the losses. The productivity outrun by distraction. Distractions that include Three Waters, the media merger, health system centralisation, tertiary centralisation, and meaningless climate change initiatives. As we park ambulances at the bottom of the cliffs of education, healthcare, mental health and law and order, the work completed on the distractions is not going to change things for the better. Many will make things worse, in this writer’s opinion.

So what do we do about it? Just like the maths teacher. We need to get back to basics.

We vote the buggers out, repeal the last three years and start again.

If only it were so simple.Bruce Cotterill

In some ways this is nothing new, with successive governments over the decades meddling in our sector through farm subsidies, uneven environmental rules, employee wage negotiations, market intervention etc.

This time around the impacts are significant both in the scale of land-use change and the lasting impact on rural communities, and ultimately New Zealand. – Murray Taggart

Pleasingly there is acceptance of the split gas approach and agriculture staying out of the ETS, however there is a long way to go before we can confidently say we have sensible, practical regulation in the emissions spaceMurray Taggart

What is a woman? The answer to this question has become a highly contentious political issue. It lies at the heart of a rights conflict that has turned toxic, between those who believe someone’s self-declared gender identity should override biological sex for the purposes of single-sex services and sports and those who think biological sex remains a relevant concept in law and society. – The Observer 

The respectful compromise would be to introduce a form of legal self-identification for gender identity for trans people while clarifying that this does not change someone’s sex for the purposes of the Equality Act. A clear distinction between gender identity and biological sex in law would balance the legitimate rights of trans people and those of women, protecting both groups against discrimination but establishing beyond doubt that it is lawful to provide female-only services for women as a matter of privacy, dignity and safety. But in Scotland and Westminster, self-described progressive politicians have proved too gutless to advocate balance and compromise. It is marginalised women – in prison, in domestic abuse services, and who require intimate care as a result of disability – who will bear the consequences of their cowardice.The Observer 

There has been considerable media speculation in recent days that Labour may be preparing to shelve its social insurance scheme idea. Politics aside, there are good reasons for ditching such a poorly thought-out proposal. Not the least of these is new analysis showing that most low- and middle-income New Zealanders in the scheme would at best receive modest benefits. – Michael Fletcher

 As Inland Revenue has advised, most of the employer levy will eventually be passed on to workers via reduced wage increases, reducing strained family incomes by nearly 3 percent in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. 

A lot of people, including the self-employed, many migrants, and some precarious workers, will not be eligible. For those who are, the scheme sounds generous – anyone who loses their job because of redundancy or illness will qualify for 80 percent of their lost wages for up to six months. That in itself is a problem because it sets up a two-tier welfare system with higher rates – one might think of it as Koru club welfare for insurance recipients, compared to other beneficiaries in cattle class.

What the “80 percent” promise also overlooks is that the scheme would be introduced on top of an already existing set of welfare and social assistance programmes. And it turns out that the extra those additional taxes would buy eligible workers in the event that they lose their job – the net gain over and above welfare entitlements – is far, far smaller for low- and middle-income workers and families. Michael Fletcher

For three out of four of the low-income family types, the net additional benefit from the scheme is between $3,300 and $4,900. When you take into account the total annual levies paid, these families would need to lose a job – and be unemployed for the entire six months – every two to four years to recoup their and their employers’ levies and break even. The gains are somewhat higher for middle income families, but still the payouts don’t match the levies paid unless the family loses a job every 2.6 to 4.7 years.

At the top end of the income spectrum the scheme is a much rosier proposition. In particular, couple families where both earn $130,000 per annum or more, would receive almost $39,000 if one of them loses a job and is unemployed for six months. In most cases, these are the families that least need the support of a scheme like what Labour is proposing.  – Michael Fletcher

We can still honour our heritage and ancestors without carrying their baggage. The city-dwellers do not understand the mental and physical strength it takes to get out of the bed in the dark every morning and brave the elements for your herd and the country,Sophie Cookson

The reality is New Zealand is a turnaround, and it needs to turn around. And when you’re doing that, you have to be really upfront with people about the reality of the situation that we are in and what we face, as well as have hope – and not just hope in some kumbaya sense – but hope because you have a proper plan that you can get New Zealand to a different and a much better place. – Christopher Luxon

We need to win next year in order for us to be able to solve problems for New Zealanders and to be able to get this country to realise all the potential that it has.Christopher Luxon

If the royal family had been expecting to meet a broadsword-wielding knight on the field of battle, what they instead got was an ale fume-wafting, wobbling chevalier on a mule. – Daniela Elser

If you think that associating modern science with oppression of a stigmatized group has no effect on the science itself, just remember what’s happening in New Zealand!  The fealty to the indigenous people—the Māori—is in the process of killing off modern science by conflating it with “local ways of knowing”, as well as with tradition, superstition, legend, and religion. Scientists in the U.S., too, are impeded, though not as strongly. If you dig up human remains on lands claimed by indigenous people, federal law dictates that you have to give those remains back for reburial, even if there’s no clear genealogical connection between the remains and the group who claims them. Professors have had their research curtailed because of this.  If you teach that there are only two sexes, you are liable to be fired or at least have your classes taken away from you.Jerry Coyne

For Labour these past weeks have been a miasma of muddled thinking that highlighted the power divisions within caucus, leaving Jacinda Ardern running behind the narrative, being forced to explain.

If it wasn’t the dirty little deal behind the entrenchment clause of Three Waters, which was hastily abandoned, then it was Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson appearing to threaten TVNZ’s editorial independence, when he was being questioned on that very matter, then it was this week’s complete immigration settings U-turn, a key policy piece it had advocated for this term. – Janet Wilson

Labour must come up with a mix of policies that put money into punters’ pockets, not take it out in the form of a much larger tax take, as HYEFU revealed.

Will it be forced to swallow the proverbial dead rodent and match National’s tax cuts with cuts of its own? Or would that further fuel inflation?

Or will intransigence and obstinacy decree that it uses the government coffers to continue to invest in projects that the electorate doesn’t want and is beginning to get incandescently angry about?

It’s a hopeful sign that the prime minister says the Government will take a rolling approach to the economic challenges next year, because triage is going to be needed to stop the economic bleeding.

But if the growing gap between what Labour says and what it does continues to widen, then the harbinger of the last three polls, predicting Labour’s loss, will become a reality.  – Janet Wilson

It’s a bit rich coming from a Labour government that had no policy three months out from an election in 2017, formed 232-plus working groups, and clearly has got nothing done over the last five years. – Christpoher Luxon

What the protest did highlight is that the tribal left is the mirror image of the tribal right. It might support different political parties and have different catchphrases but it displays the same intolerance for any political action that threatens the interests of the political status quo. It displays the same arrogance and self righteousness. More worryingly still, it has displayed a readiness to use the powers of the State to crush any dissent it does not approve of. Against the Current

The “indigenous way of knowing” is, as I’ve described here many timesMātauranga Māori (MM) a mixture of ideology, superstition, religion, tradition, and yes, even some empirical knowledge gleaned by trial and error—things like when and how to harvest local food.  – Jerry Coyne

For some time, the NZ government, and many secondary school teachers (and university professors) have decreed that MM should not only become much more a part of secondary-school education, but should be taught as coequal with modern science (what’s called “Western science”) in science class. That is, there should be as much teaching of MM in these classes as there is modern science. Since the scientific content of MM is thin, and restricted to “practical knowledge”, and because MM lacks the methodology of modern science, this “equality” is a recipe for disaster.

And on some level I thought it wouldn’t really happen. New Zealand happens to be a great country full of lovely people, and I didn’t believe they’d ruin science education this way. But I didn’t reckon how woke the country has become, largely because the government, under the uber-woke Jacinda Ardern, has decided to cater full-on to the demands of the indigenous Māori people and their many “colonialist” European supporters.

Of course MM, as an important part of New Zealand history and culture, should be taught as part of national history, anthropology, and sociology (Māori comprise 16.5% of the total population). But only in one’s wildest dreams can you see MM as coequal to modern science. Teaching it as such will do a disservice to all the inhabitants of NZ, including the Māori, who will not only learn very much science, but will be confused by the very notion of what “science” includes. Many Kiwis object vehemently to these educational plans, but the wokeness of the country is such that they dare not question the policy. Teachers and objectors are demonized, called “racists” and “colonialists” and some faculty have even been punished for speaking up. In fact, even the spineless Royal Society of New Zealand has taken the position that MM is in no way inferior to modern science, with the latter having its “limits”.  Jerry Coyne

35% national pass rates in writing, and 56% in numeracy, are not, to my mind, fantastic. (I don’t have any data on science.)  Regardless, valuable as indigenous knowledge is for teaching a country’s history and sociology, making “ways of knowing” coequal to the only modern “way of knowing we have”—science—is going to suck New Zealand down the drain. But this is what happens when you decide that showing your virtue—and making your virtue into national educational policy—depends on elevating “indigenous ways of knowing” to the status of modern science. – Jerry Coyne

Co-governance, I think, is an alien term to New Zealand because it suggests we are a divided society and somehow we are going to bring them together in something called co-governance. Jim Bolger

What we need to be saying is ‘how do we incorporate our full and complete history into our decision-making. How do we make certain that Māori history, which is clearly distinct and different from European or English history, is considered alongside European and English history?

It’s much more embracing than the divisive one of co-governance – you’ve got five, I’ve got five. It’s almost like a rugby match with even teams, and whoever wins, wins. – Jim Bolger

This is my concern as a mature New Zealander, is that we are dividing New Zealand as we have never seen it before. Jim Bolger

I think there is becoming an intolerance in the rest of the population which I find disturbing. People talk to me about it and they are angry. They think it has gone miles too far.

I don’t believe that most Māori want sovereignty or separate representation or 50 per cent on Three Waters or Five Waters. What they want is a fair go and I think they are entitled to a fair go.  – Sir Douglas Graham

There was nothing to push back against other than some obiter dicta from some of the judges about ‘partnership’. You can’t pass a statute saying it is not a partnership,Sir Douglas Graham

The concept of partnership has got legs which it doesn’t deserve. –

So it has got away. I don’t think anybody is explaining what it means or where it takes us or the raison d’etre for the whole thing.Sir Douglas Graham

The Crown is not in partnership with Māori in running the country and it would be totally unacceptable in my view if this concept were to be pursued. It implies some sort of joint management with veto rights vested in each party. That cannot be the case. – Sir Douglas Graham

Now it is a talisman for everything and I think that is most unfortunate because it has perpetuated the theory ‘poor old Māori need a helping hand the whole time, it’s all a breach of Treaty rights and colonialism. Sir Douglas Graham

My parents’ generation went through 15 years of two world wars and a depression. Most people got wiped out, either shot or lost their shirt. But they never moaned about it from then on. Life’s like that. You have your good times and your bad times.

Some shocking things were done and they needed to be corrected and acknowledged. But to keep going on and on was the very thing I tried to get rid of, frankly – looking in the past, harbouring grievances. It will just hold them back. – Sir Douglas Graham

What are the outcomes they’re working to, how are they reporting against them, how much money’s been spent to achieve those outcomes? Are they on track or not and then ultimately against that whole $150b [total taxpayer money] what have we got for that? What was the Government trying to achieve? What have we achieved? How much money’s been spent? Are we on track?

So, a lot of those questions you just cannot answer, you know. I’m the Auditor-general, I probably have 300 or 400 accountants in my organisation and we can’t piece that information together, so what chances does the Parliament or public have to do that?John Ryan 

I don’t need a hip replacement, but I’d like to know the health system in 10 years’ time, when I might need one, is going to be able to do it. –  John Ryan 

I think the more open they are about reporting, the more transparent they are about their performance the more Parliament and the public can engage in the detail with them about what’s the challenge and what we can do about it…

Reporting seems quite a cold word. It’s actually about the dialogue that comes at the end of that where we can more understand how things are going.John Ryan 

In a democracy the underlying principle is an equal value vote accorded every citizen, regardless of their intellectual differences, contribution to society, ethnicity, and so on.

It’s hard to think of a more disgraceful abuse of this principle than according 50% of governance to an ethnic group that makes up a mere 2% of the population, that is citizens with 50% or more of Maori ethnicity.

Being fashionably trendy about fictitious maori wonderfulness will be the principal reason (among many others) the government will be decimated in the next election. – Sir Bob Jones

With the year drawing to a close and Christmas almost upon us the sounds that seem to sum up the season are less jingling bells and carols, more the cough of Covid and an enormous, exhausted sigh of relief.

The conversations at Christmas gatherings are less about the pre-Christmas rush and more about the country’s collective weariness; it seems so many of us are stumbling towards the finish line in 2022, battered and more than a little bent. To steal from William Butler Yeats’ The Second Coming, we feel like pretty rough beasts who this year can do little more than slouch towards Bethlehem. Though maybe ‘crawl’ is a better word.

Why so rough this year? The truth is that this year – 2022 – has been the real ‘Year of Covid’ in New Zealand.Tim Watkin

All of which makes it a difficult time for the government. The electorate that has fought to hard and felt like world-beaters at the start of the year is in a very different mood now. It’s a mood that wants to put the past behind it and move on. That means any incumbent party will be swimming against the tide heading into election year.

To go back to Yeats, Labour will be asking if indeed “the centre cannot hold” and if election year will be swamped by those (“the worst”?) who “are full of passionate intensity” for conspiracies and sideshows. They will be wondering whether Covid’s grip will remain as firm in election year. As the poem says, “things fall apart” and who knows that better than politicians, especially after a year like this. – Tim Watkin

Parodists have it rough these days, since so much of modern life and culture resembles the Babylon Bee. The latest evidence is that Stanford University administrators in May published an index of forbidden words to be eliminated from the school’s websites and computer code, and provided inclusive replacements to help re-educate the benighted. 

Call yourself an “American”? Please don’t. Better to say “U.S. citizen,” per the bias hunters, lest you slight the rest of the Americas. “Immigrant” is also out, with “person who has immigrated” as the approved alternative. It’s the iron law of academic writing: Why use one word when four will do?

You can’t “master” your subject at Stanford any longer; in case you hadn’t heard, the school instructs that “historically, masters enslaved people.” And don’t dare design a “blind study,” which “unintentionally perpetuates that disability is somehow abnormal or negative, furthering an ableist culture.” Blind studies are good and useful, but never mind; “masked study” is to be preferred. Follow the science.

“Gangbusters” is banned because the index says it “invokes the notion of police action against ‘gangs’ in a positive light, which may have racial undertones.” Not to beat a dead horse (a phrase that the index says “normalizes violence against animals”), but you used to have to get a graduate degree in the humanities to write something that stupid.Wall Street Journal

The list took “18 months of collaboration with stakeholder groups” to produce, the university tells us. We can’t imagine what’s next, except that it will surely involve more make-work for more administrators, whose proliferation has driven much of the rise in college tuition and student debt. For 16,937 students, Stanford lists 2,288 faculty and 15,750 administrative staff.

The list was prefaced with (to use another forbidden word) a trigger warning: “This website contains language that is offensive or harmful. Please engage with this website at your own pace.”

Evidently it was all too much for some at the school to handle. On Monday, after the index came to light on social media, Stanford hid it from public view. Without a password, you wouldn’t know that “stupid” made the list. – Wall Street Journal

celebrity, a friend of mine once said to me, was someone of whom he had never heard. My friend lives a little like a hermit in retreat from the modern world, but for most people, celebrities are like burglars: you don’t have to go to them, they come to you—inescapably, via all sorts of media.

I am, like my friend, indifferent to celebrities, and many of them who are household names are completely unknown to me.Theodore Dalrymple

 A French neighbor told me that he was contented though modest; I suggested that he should have said contented because modest.

The social media have no doubt increased the avidity for celebrity in the general population. There’s a lot of money to be made from it, and influencers can suddenly become very rich and famous without any obvious talent or qualification. Of course, for every influencer who succeeds, there are a thousand or more would-be influencers who fail: But success is visible; failure (though far more prevalent) is hidden.

Celebrity is a phenomenon simultaneously of great depth and great shallowness. It’s deep because it tells us something important about mass psychology; it’s shallow for the same reason it tells us how trivial or frivolous are many of our thoughts. – Theodore Dalrymple

I presume that evidence exists that such advertising by celebrities actually works; it’s when you think about why it should work that your heart begins to sink. After all, asking an American footballer for his advice on blockchain investments is probably as sensible as asking the local barfly who has propped up a bar for the past 25 years for his opinion on the latest advances in cardiac surgery. It’s true that experts aren’t always right, but specialist knowledge and experience still count for quite a lot, for all the inevitable incompleteness of human understanding.

The idea of sympathetic magic illuminates the phenomenon of celebrity endorsement of products of whose virtues or defects the celebrities can have no special knowledge. Sympathetic magic is the use of an object associated with someone either to influence him or to become in some desired respect like him. It can go as far as cannibalism: eating part of someone in order to add his to one’s own potency, for example. I need hardly add that this is all very primitive and, you might have thought, out of place in a society as dependent as ours on sophisticated technology. But the primitive is like the magma under the surface of the Earth; it keeps breaking through however unwanted or destructive it may be.Theodore Dalrymple

Children must be protected from making permanent legal declarations about their gender which may lead to irreversible elective interventions, including surgery. Lowering the minimum age from 18 to 16 and introducing a system of self-identification will put more children and young people on this path.

Our concerns are amplified by the intervention of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, which has described the Bill as ‘unsafe’ and likely to harm young people.

Women’s organisations also have recorded their own concerns about the Bill, principally that the proposed reforms will increase risks to the safety of women and girls by men self-declaring as female and accessing women-only spaces. There are also real concerns that the proposals will mean a female healthcare practitioner will no longer be guaranteed for women and girls, even when it is requested.

The freedom to hold the reasonable view that sex and gender are given and immutable and disagree with the idea of gender as fluid and separable from biological sex should be upheld. Particularly for those who work in education, healthcare, the prison service, or as marriage celebrants who, from both reasonable and religious perspectives, hold an understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. – Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

Show me any relationship … that helps build a better relationship when you cut people off or you spend your life yelling and screaming at them. How does that really change anything? 

The reality is you get progress in any relationship and actually progress on important things from climate change and trade to whatever when you have a good working relationship not when you’re standing at ten paces and shouting with each other.Sir John Key

In 2010, Parliament legislated to increase the price of cigarettes 10 per cent a year plus inflation. In March 2010, the average pack of 25 cigarettes cost $13.46. Today that pack costs $38.30.

The cost of cigarettes has triggered a crime wave.

Crime is going to get a lot worse. – Richard Prebble

The sale of tobacco will still be legal in New Zealand provided its nicotine free.

Drinkers drink for the alcohol. Smokers smoke for the nicotine.

It is daydreaming to believe that when tobacco is nicotine-less and cigarettes taste like sawdust smokers will kick the habit.

When the only way to get a real smoke is from illegal tobacco, that is what smokers will buy. Organised crime will not stop their criminality at the supply of illegal tobacco. Prohibition corrupts society.Richard Prebble

Reducing the price of cigarettes would reduce child poverty. Tax cigarettes so they are not cheap but not so expensive they are worth robbing for.

Reducing the tax would end ram raids.

The decision to reduce the number of outlets able to sell tobacco to 600 is Labour’s casual discrimination against rural New Zealand. It is 18km to our nearest supermarket. It would devastate our community if our dairy closes.

Politicians make poor decisions when they first create the advertising slogan and then try to get the policy to fit. Officials and ministers set an “aspirational goal”. Then they set a target date far enough ahead so they cannot be held responsible.- Richard Prebble

The Health Department has admitted New Zealand will not be smoke-free by 2025. Instead of admitting the goal was never realistic Labour has doubled down.

Without the absurd Smokefree 2025 goal, the Government could have pointed out smoking is going the same way as chewing tobacco. Labour could have even eased back on the tax. Instead, Labour is introducing prohibition.

Do not believe that as a non-smoker this does not affect you. Today it is Lake Rotoma and my caravan. Next it will be your neighbourhood. Labour has legislated to make New Zealand the Chicago of the South Pacific. Richard Prebble

According to a recent paper in The Lancet, deaths attributable to excess heat in England and Wales between 2000 and 2019 numbered 791, while those attributable to excess cold numbered 60,573—80 times as many. Nor is Britain the only country in which the threat to health from cold is much greater than that from heat. A previous paper in the same journal found this to be a worldwide phenomenon. What is certain is that restrictive policies with regard to energy resources and exploration such as those followed by successive British governments, cowed by middle-class ecological warriors and perhaps influenced in another way by special interest groups, will lead in the near future to many preventable deaths, if they are not already doing so. –  Theodore Dalrymple

National has publicly said we will not privatise water assets, and the reason why is simple. These assets belong to councils and their ratepayers. This Government is happy to seize them from councils, but National will not. Stuart Smith

In 2022, free speech in the West has been under attack from two sides: from Islamist extremists who occasionally try to kill people whose words offend them, and from woke culture warriors who constantly seek to cancel those whose opinions they find offensive.

The threats are different: one seeks to take your life, the other to take your livelihood and public standing. But these two strains of intolerance, the Islamists and the illiberal liberals, have formed an unholy alliance to wage jihad against free speech. – Mike Hume

A handful of Islamist terrorists have gained confidence from the weakness of support for free speech in the West. They are parasites, feeding off the spinelessness of our allegedly liberal establishment. Mike Hume

But we should all be angry about what has been done to free speech in 2022. The underlying message of debates about everything from trans rights to Twitter is that ‘too much’ free speech is dangerous, that people are too free to speak their minds. In reality, that state of affairs exists nowhere on Earth.

Our phoney liberal luminaries have refused to stand up for Rushdie and defend free speech against its mortal enemies and have sought to censor those whose opinions they deem blasphemous – all while insisting that cancel culture does not really exist. Little wonder that free speech, the lifeblood of a civilised society, has been on life support through 2022. – Mike Hume

Five-year-olds setting off in New Zealand, irrespective of their circumstances, should have an experience of public services that enables them to have a shot at the New Zealand dream. Christopher Luxon

Part of being an MP was to take that vision and identify how best to reform the law and Government policies, programmes and spending to do better for people and the planet.

That’s the problem for Green Party MPs: they enter Parliament espousing a vision for  the planet so lofty that  only a limited number of voters relate to it.

Trapping rats, stoats and possums is well and good, but the average  voter has to earn the daily crust, pay the rent, cloth and educate the family, before thinking  of “better care for the  oceans”, important  though that be for the future of the planet.

Similarly, “changing the way we farm” is an important Green objective, even though it means  a  lower income both for the ordinary farmer and for NZ Inc. – Point of Order

Today we contend that our democracy will be strengthened by the departure of MPs who have cast their votes in support of legislation that erodes it. Point of Order

There are seminal moments when aspiring politicians finally look as if they have the makings of being a prime minister.

For National leader Christopher Luxon this came on the last day of Parliament for 2022 when he rose to his feet and delivered a powerful statesmanlike response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who had earlier addressed MPs in the debating chamber through a virtual link from Kiev. – Fran O’Sullivan

Until that point, Luxon had appeared like a one-trick pony, consumed by the need to improve New Zealand’s economic performance and the cost of living crisis, which he had successfully imprinted on the public as a scourge that the Labour Government needed to do something about — to the point where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson (after denying a crisis existed) moved to adopt some of his own language and took action to ameliorate the financial impact on ordinary New Zealanders. – Fran O’Sullivan

But much of his credibility as National’s leader has been built on the tight discipline he has imposed on his caucus and an almost Singaporean approach to policy development, which was obvious from when he had led Ardern’s Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council before he quit as Air New Zealand CEO to enter politics.

He recognises that forming a successful Government to tackle major economic and social challenges, a deglobalising world and climate change depends on him first developing a strong and cohesive team in which the electorate has confidence.

The Prime Minister has greater verbal finesse and emotional power and a reputation as an international stateswoman far beyond these shores. But on December 14, it was Luxon who impressed more so than Ardern. – Fran O’Sullivan

In Parliament, it was Luxon who adopted the Prime Minister’s own language by using words like “moral courage” and criticising the United Nations.

It was also Luxon who described the conflict as being bigger than a war between Russia and Ukraine. “It is a moral as well as a physical battle” … an “existential threat to Ukraine” … “a conflict between brutality or diplomacy, autocracy and democracy”. Fran O’Sullivan

It is still early days for Luxon’s leadership but his compelling performance on the last day of Parliament demonstrates that Ardern cannot afford to cede territory to him — particularly that on which she has built her own reputation. – Fran O’Sullivan

Concerns I have of the organisation are: there are too few social workers within the frontline; the policies and procedures written for the organisation have too many gaps and are ignored by staff at times; the legislation seems to be ignored; and the hierarchy are too quick to place the blame at the feet of the social workers when things go wrong. – A longtime Oranga Tamariki employee

For a long time practice has been driven by key performance indicators such as you might have in a factory. This will never work with a role that involves contact with humans and building of relationships. I am not saying this would give carte blanche to keeping a case open, but there needs to be recognition of how many unique children can be effectively worked with and kept on a case load to ensure their needs can be identified and their safety assured. – A longtime Oranga Tamariki employee

Most of the difficulty for me came from the absolute lack of resources available to keep tamariki and rangatahi safe and free from ongoing harm, where we had no option but to try and cobble together a safe place for them made up of rotating caregivers and motel units.

The amount of paperwork and requests that have to be completed to see if there is a one per cent chance of getting a better outcome, whilst leaving the office at the end of the day and wondering if the young person would be dead the next day, was the burden of social workers, but also of their supervisors, practice leader and manager.A longtime Oranga Tamariki employee

The profession of social worker is one of hope and as social workers we have an obligation to be hope providers.

Unfortunately it seems this very simple role is not supported by an organisation who are critical of the role of social workers and I question whether those in the higher echelons even understand what social workers do. To blame and shame appears to be the culture.

The values of the organisation do not seem to extend to those working within the organisation and I liken working within Oranga Tamariki to being in a whānau impacted by family harm, where the youngest social workers are at risk of significant harm and who are learning the ways of the oldest. – A longtime Oranga Tamariki employee

There were nearly 300 water engineer positions advertised on recruitment website Seek last month. The high demand for these specialist engineers bodes ill for the government’s Three Waters reform, which will rely heavily on experts the country currently doesn’t have in the required numbers.

The shortage mirrors the situation in other construction fields. Time and again, staff shortages have affected major infrastructure projects in New Zealand. It’s a chronic problem that needs addressing urgently.Suzanne Wilkinson and Rod Cameron

We have already identified that many government projects are delayed or postponed because of unfilled skills gaps in the construction sector. Without adequate long-term planning and good data, when huge projects like Three Waters disrupt the industry, skills shortages are the predictable outcome. – Suzanne Wilkinson and Rod Cameron

These radical Māori Activists, Separatists, Supremacists or whatever you call them are fanatical about their agendas and are dedicated to playing a long game. Their goal is to divide New Zealand and separate Māori from other New Zealanders and rule over them, they believe that is their right.

It’s hard to comprehend how someone could believe they are entitled to rule over other ethnicities, to own the beaches, or even the sky as some tried, and I think Kiwis have also failed to comprehend the genuine threat posed by people with that world view. They are fanatics who have put their interests so far ahead of other New Zealanders that their mindset is aggressively narcissistic, they either don’t care or can’t comprehend how their agenda harms other New Zealanders, and their reflex action to anyone who opposes their agenda is to threaten and abuse and play the race card.

When confronted with this level of narcissistic aggression, there is no choice but to actively defend your rights as they are incessantly looking for ways to promote their agendas to elevate themselves above other New Zealanders.John Franklin

New Zealand has not been just a Māori and European country for a century, we are a multicultural democracy and have significant populations of New Zealanders with Chinese, Indian and Polynesian ancestry. Unfortunately, Māori activists refuse to accept that all New Zealanders are equal, they don’t want equality or democracy where they are limited to one vote each.

There is no doubt that Te Reo and Māori culture needs to be supported, it’s an important part of New Zealand’s multicultural history but I also have no doubt that Māori can keep their culture and language alive without it being our Official language or forcing it down non-Māori’s throats. – John Franklin

If you need any more proof that the Ardern Labour government is out of control, then look no further than MP Duncan Webb’s Private Members’ Bill[i] that seeks to inject its woke socialist agenda into corporate governance with possibly disastrous long term ramifications for shareholders, investors and the wider economy.

The Companies (Directors Duties) Amendment Bill meddles with the fundamental principle of company law that directors must act in good faith and in the best interests of the company[ii] (ie the owners) by “making clear that when a director determines what is in the best interests of the company that he or she may take into account recognised environmental, social and governance factors”[iii].

As may be expected, the “recognised factors” bolster the Left’s socialist manifesto: Sarah Taylor

The Bill which nods to directors that they can or should implement their pet radical agendas could seriously impact the wider economy as it would affect not only ordinary business corporations but would apply to directors of Kiwisaver PIE funds and other large funds governed by the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013[iv]. – Sarah Taylor

We need to look no further than to our government Superfund managers. There has been little, if any, critical commentary concerning recent moves by the $55bn (and shrinking) fund which has divested itself of long-term exposure to fossil fuel reserves as part of a “sustainability” push. Given the sheer impracticality of zero carbon, Chief investment officer Stephen Gilmore’s confidence that fund’s performance will not be adversely affected [x]is on face value half-baked if not wilfully ignorant. But this half-baked approach, which will cost both future retirees and taxpayers dearly, is already being followed by large private sector PIE investment funds implementing climate, diversity, inclusion and equity agendas.

Importantly, such fund managers can weaponise large investor capital pools under management to hijack company boards with the intention of forcing conversion to the “green economy” such as halting oil or coal extraction, leaving minority shareholders with little or no redress. Sarah Taylor

Specific mention of the Treaty also introduces massive fishhooks for minority shareholders and creditors of the thousands of iwi controlled companies which might introduce maori co-governance, advisory boards, cultural affirmation hires and tikanga practices.

Non-iwi controlled companies, publically named and shamed for lack of adherence to the Treaty or diversity, are also likely submit to the woke onslaught. – Sarah Taylor

The Companies (Directors Duties) Amendment Bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing with possibly disastrous long term ramifications for shareholders, investors and the wider economy. National and ACT should put this Bill near the top of their list for repeal in 2023. Sarah Taylor

One of the most disturbing aspects of race-based politics is the difficulty many citizens have in taking racially-driven change seriously. This is particularly the case when the manner in which racial matters have been defined and discussed changes abruptly. Assumptions upon which people have come to rely are deemed mistaken, even dangerous, and they are required to embrace a whole new set of assumptions.
Unsurprisingly, the ethnic groups targeted by these new assumptions will be profoundly affected by such dramatic shifts in moral and political judgement. If it is an ethnic minority being singled-out, then many of its members will become fearful. But, if the assumptions of the majority are being challenged, then many of its members will become extremely angry. Most citizens, however, will struggle to take such shifts seriously. Those making them will be branded extremists, and dismissed accordingly. – Chris Trotter

The evolution of racial politics in New Zealand has arrived at its own moment of radically altered assumptions. The notion that the colonial state, and the institutions it bequeathed to the nation of New Zealand, are insulated from serious challenge, both by the passage of historical time, and the shared beliefs and values of Māori and Pakeha, is itself being challenged.

An elite coalition of Māori nationalists, backed by sympathetic Pakeha intellectuals located strategically in New Zealand’s judicial, state, academic and media apparatus, has launched an ambitious attempt to “decolonise” the thinking of its Pakeha population, and “indigenise” the cultural, educational, administrative, and economic institutions of “Aotearoa”. This revolutionary constitutional reconfiguration, like the deconstruction of Jim Crow in the American South, is to be carried out with the consent of the white population, if possible; or without it, if necessary.

The key question raised by this strategy is whether or not enough New Zealanders can be convinced of the need for revolutionary constitutional change to overwhelm – either democratically or physically – the objections of those determined to preserve the status quo.Chris Trotter

A race-driven revolution in New Zealand will succeed only if those promoting it are committed, and seen to be committed, to building a future in which what you are is of less importance that who you are. In Nazi Germany and the American South, what you were, Jew or Aryan, White or Black, was all that mattered. If New Zealand is a nation in which the assumptions of racial equality still hold sway, then any attempt to privilege the ethnic origins of its citizens over their common humanity must end in failure. If, however, a decisive majority of New Zealanders reject racial equality, then the serious consequences of the revolutionary, race-based constitution that is sure to follow will not be slow in manifesting themselves. – Chris Trotter

At the moment most of the New Zealand population continues to work on the assumption that Māori and Pakeha see each other as equals not adversaries. If they think about co-governance at all, they assume that it is simply a matter of giving Māori a stronger voice in matters that matter to them. Very few Pakeha appreciate that being “decolonised” and “indigenised” is something that will be done to them, in order to change them. When they finally work that out, things could get ugly.Chris Trotter

We all know, only too well, that Jacinda Ardern is spoilt for choice when it comes to blunderers, incompetents and wastrels to staff her cabinet. In fact, you could say, “Her cup runneth over!”- John Porter

These days, millions of people in Ukraine and the world celebrate Christmas. The appearance of the Son of God gave people hope for salvation, faith in the victory of goodness and mercy.

Unfortunately, all the holidays have a bitter aftertaste for us this year. And we can feel the traditional Spirit of Christmas differently. Dinner at the family table cannot be so tasty and warm. There may be empty chairs around it. And our houses and streets can’t be so bright. And Christmas bells can ring not so loudly and inspiringly. Through air raid sirens, or even worse – gunshots and explosions. And all this together can pose a bigger threat. It is a disappointment. Of the higher forces and their power, of goodness and justice in the world. Loss of hope. Loss of love. Loss of myself…

But isn’t this what evil and darkness, which have taken up arms against us, want in their essence?

We have been resisting them for more than three hundred days and eight years. And will we allow them to achieve what they want?

In this battle, we have another powerful and effective weapon. The hammer and sword of our spirit and consciousness. The wisdom of God. Courage and bravery. Virtues that incline us to do good and overcome evil.

The main act of courage is endurance and completion of one’s work to the end, despite everything. The truth illuminates our path. We know it. We defend it. Our truth is a struggle for freedom. Freedom comes at a high price. But slavery has an even higher price.

Our path is illuminated by faith and patience. Patience and faith. These are twin forces. As it was said, “he who rules and controls his own spirit, is better than he who captures a city.” To endure does not mean to accept the circumstances. Patience is watching to make sure that we don’t let any doubt or fear into our minds. It is faith in one’s own strength.

Evil has no weapon stronger than the armor given to us by God. Evil smashes against this armor like a stone wall. We have seen this more than once. We endured at the beginning of the war. We endured attacks, threats, nuclear blackmail, terror, missile strikes. Let’s endure this winter because we know what we are fighting for.

We go forward through the thorns to the stars, knowing what awaits us at the end of the road. God is a just Judge who rewards good and punishes evil. Which side we are on is obvious. Who is who in this battle is obvious. There are at least seven proofs of this – they are known – “A proud look, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, Feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.” We oppose all this. Being a role model for others. The faithful, that is, those who really believe, must be a light to the rest of the world. For more than three hundred days, Ukrainians have been striving for this, proving it, serving as an example to others. We are not righteous, not holy, but we are definitely fighting for good and fighting for the light, with faith in Bible prophecy:

“Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. The people who walk in darkness will see a bright light. The light will shine on those who live in the land of death’s shadow. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given!”

We believe that tears will be replaced by joy, hope will come after despair, and death will be defeated by life.

Today and all future winter holidays we meet in difficult circumstances. Someone will see the first star in the sky over Bakhmut, Rubizhne, and Kreminna today. Along thousands of kilometers of the front line. Someone is on the road, on the way – from the Ukrainian-Polish border to Kherson region or Zaporizhzhia. Someone will see it through the bullet holes of his or her own home. Someone will celebrate the holiday in other people’s homes, but strange people’s homes – homes of Ukrainians who gave shelter to Ukrainians. In Zakarpattia, Bukovyna, Lviv region, Ivano-Frankivsk region and many other regions. Someone will hear Shchedryk in another language – in Warsaw, Berlin, London, New York, Toronto and many other cities and countries. And someone will meet this Christmas in captivity, but let them remember that we are also coming for our people, we will return freedom to all Ukrainian men and women.

Wherever we are, we will be together today. And together we will look at the evening sky. And together we will remember the morning of February 24. Let’s remember how much we have passed. Let’s remember Azovstal, Irpin, Bucha, Kramatorsk, Snake Island, Chornobayivka, Izium, Kherson. We make a wish. One for all. And we will feel joy. One for all. And we will understand the truth. One for all. About the fact that no kamikaze drones are capable of extinguishing the Christmas Dawn. We will see its glow even underground in a bomb shelter. We will fill our hearts with warmth and light. No Kinzhal missile can hurt them. They will break against our steel spirit. And our struggle will continue without stopping. It is not threatened by planned or emergency blackouts. And we will never feel a shortage of courage and indomitability.

We have experienced a lot of bitter news and will deservedly receive good news. We will sing Christmas carols – cheerier than ever – louder than the sound of a generator. We will hear the voices and greetings of relatives – in our hearts – even if communication service and the Internet are down. And even in total darkness – we will find each other – to hug each other tightly. And if there is no heat, we will give a big hug to warm each other.

We will celebrate our holidays! As always. We will smile and be happy. As always. The difference is one. We will not wait for a miracle. After all, we create it ourselves.

Christ is born! Let’s praise Him!  – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

One of the reasons I think I feel so much for the Ukranians and their predicament is because they are the underdog. They are the weedy kid in the schoolyard being monstered by the bully. They didn’t ask for this. This isn’t an internal civil war, like so many are. This is a war of territorial aggression by a bigger power. There should be no place for such military imperialism in the 21st century. Ukrainians just wanted the quiet life, a chance to grow up peacefully and provide for their families. They weren’t threatening anybody.

Thank goodness America and Europe have stood up so far to support them. There is no shame in that. We ourselves live in a country which has never had the means to defend itself without outside help. – Steven Joyce

My hope for 2023 is that Ukraine is victorious. That it is able to push the aggressor back behind his own borders sufficiently that he won’t attack his neighbours again. That all the people who have given their lives in the defence of their country and its right to exist don’t die in vain. That every freedom-loving democracy maintains its resolve, and provides enough support to the Ukranians to enable them to complete their mission.

That includes us. Our help so far has been too meagre.

Anything less than full-throated support for Ukraine means Putin, or whichever KGB clone eventually replaces him, will feel emboldened to try this criminal stunt again.

If Ukraine is able to send the Russian army and their assorted henchmen packing, even if nothing else positive happens, 2023 will have been a good year. For the world, for people who value freedom and independence, and for any small country that risks being monstered by a bigger one.

Slava Ukraine and slava all Ukrainians. This Kiwi is thinking of you all this holiday period. – Steven Joyce

Now in Sturgeon’s Scotland the rights of rape victims come a distant second place to rapists’ hurt feelings. This is what the ‘right side of history’ looks like. Scotland has become a warning to the world. Virtue-signalling rots the brain – and the soul. – Tom Slater 

The laptop elites. The pyjama classes. It’s hard to know what to call the new establishment. Those upper-middle-class graduates who make up the knowledge economy. Who think tweeting is a job. Who have faithfully imbibed every woke mantra, from ‘Trans women are women’ to ‘Wear your mask!’. Who are waited on hand and foot by the precariat of Deliveroo and Amazon. Who loathe the old economy – the one that actually makes things – for its unsightly footprint on the planet. And who loved lockdown. Six months making sourdough bread for your Instagram Stories while still getting paid for whatever it is you do for a job? What’s not to like?

Whatever we call them, there’s no doubting these folk had a rude awakening in 2022. For this was a year of almost constant rumbling and revolting against the laptop elites by farmers, deliverymen, truckers – you know, people who make food and maintain infrastructure and make it possible for the pyjama people to get online and share their pronouns. The reality of working-class anger rudely intruded into the fantasy lives of the elites this year, and it was brilliant.Brendan O’Neill

Yes, numerous local factors shaped that uprising. But much of the immiseration of the Sri Lankan people was the warped handiwork of the virtue-signallers of global institutions. Their unhinged eco-myopia, their belief that societies the world over must make sacrifices to the god of Net Zero, was especially pernicious for Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was pressured to become a Net Zero nation. It banned the import of chemical fertilisers in order to make its farming practices more ‘organic’. This was a borderline psychotic policy in a nation where 90 per cent of farmers use fertiliser. The impact was predictably dire. Rice production fell by 43 per cent. Inflation hit a 47-month high. It was proof of how witlessly cruel laptop environmentalism can be. When the anti-industrial prejudices of unworldly global elites are elevated above the needs of workers in the developing world, the result is more poverty and hunger. The Sri Lankan revolt was as much against the insanities of Net Zero as against their own out-of-touch rulers. –Brendan O’Neill

Everywhere one looked in 2022, ordinary people were agitating against the New Normal. Against the world of less, inflicted on us by cosseted elites and their policies of over-long lockdowns and Net Zero. These were stirring populist statements, and it surely surprised no one that they took place outside the structures of the old left. A left that’s more obsessed with pronouns than production has nothing remotely useful to say to the global working class. This year, we witnessed a revolution of the real, an intrusion of concrete matters of production, transportation and living standards into the post-truth zones inhabited by elites who think biology is a myth, industry is death and farming is a plague. May the fightback of reality continue in 2023. – Brendan O’Neill

Right now, if they’re lucky enough not to be among the increasing number of food-insecure Kiwis, New Zealanders across our fair land are about to indulge in an annual marathon of food foraging and preparation, ending with Sunday’s Christmas feast.

This marathon involves the inevitable queues, at supermarkets, butchers, and pick-your-own-berries farms, followed by a frenzy of glazing, egg-beating and roasting before kith and kin sit down to eat.

Which provides the perfect opportunity to consider how our attitudes to food, and specifically the size and weight of those who consume it, are killing us, literally.

Because inherent in the food we eat is a modern-day morality tale centred on judgment and persecution. – Janet Wilson

Obesity differed across ethnic groups, with 71.3% of Pasifika people considered obese, 50.8% of Māori, 31.9% of Pākehā and 18.5% of Asians. The survey found those living in the most deprived areas were 1.6 times more likely to be obese than those living in the least deprived.

You may be reading those statistics and having your own Louise Wallace moment but here’s the thing – that judgment translates into negative attitudes, which means that the obese don’t lose weight and those of so-called ‘normal weight’ are more likely to become obese.Janet Wilson

The antidote to the diet industry (now transformed into the wellness industry), and to assigning food groups into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories, is the concept of Health At Every Size (HAES). This recognises that your weight doesn’t necessarily determine how healthy you are. It encourages healthy, mindful eating that doesn’t have a forbidden food list, alongside movement you enjoy.

It also acknowledges that genetics influences weight, as does height, skin colour and body type. – Janet Wilson

So this Christmas, let’s abandon any notions of how size equates to personal worth. Avoid commenting on anyone’s size or shape.

Because the food we eat is designed to bring us together, not tear us apart.

And food is one place where politics simply doesn’t belong.Janet Wilson

Rearranging the deckchairs may be politically expedient but will not fix the problem. – Merran Davis

When I called on Minister Chris Hipkins to appoint a commissioner, I said I was concerned they would appoint people like themselves. They did and worse – they appointed themselves into a growing echo chamber of dysfunction.

It is galling people can perform so poorly, as multiple public reports have shown, yet not be held to account.  

Particularly those who have had multiple lucrative public sector appointments in education and local government contexts and built their reputations on them. Merran Davis

To be successful, Te Pūkenga needs strong governance and leadership, not people in Teflon suits who get multiple chances to make major mistakes while the sector continues to suffer.

There is a very high human and financial cost to failed transformation which never recovers through subsequent fixes and needs significant additional resources.

With cynicism at an all-time high and confidence an all-time low in the sector, Minister Hipkins must acknowledge he got it wrong and get different people around the table, or his legacy will be the politician who failed vocational education and New Zealand for generations to come. –Merran Davis

Becoming a minister in election year is a suicidal appointment.Richard Prebble

“Yes Minister” is not a comedy, it’s a tragedy. The civil service has its own agenda.

In election year civil servants can easily delay a project they do not like. The civil service has been known to take advantage of a green minister to advance their pet projects. – Richard Prebble

There is never a bad time to sack a poor minister.Richard Prebble

Here is the problem. Reshuffling the responsibilities of junior ministers like the Minister for the Community and Voluntary sector, who is Priyanca Radhakrishnan, will not change anything. She is not responsible for Labour’s low polling. She can’t be. She has done nothing.

Jacinda Ardern is not going to sack the senior ministers who are responsible for inflation, runaway government expenditure, rising crime and co-governance.

We the voters will have to do a real cabinet reshuffle by sacking them all. – Richard Prebble

I choose to forgive her, because I believe compassion and forgiveness is justice in itself.

It’s another form of justice. – Abdirashid Farah Abdi

A year into this, I know I didn’t get diabetes because I am fat, despite what men on Twitter like to say. There are dozens of factors that combined to this outcome, including my genetics, my lifestyle, and my hormones. I also know that none of those things have anything to do with my character or worth – and gosh, that really is self care. – Megan Whelan

It shows that while a walk might be suitable for all ages, people need to have respect for the land.Sergeant Tory Press

Why did we spend last summer in the trenches, and this summer in the sunshine?

It’s not because we weren’t prepared last summer; in fact, the opposite is true. The simple answer is that last summer the Prime Minister’s messaging was all about fighting Covid. This summer, her spin is to play it down and live la dolce vita by the seaside.

The financial and personal costs of Covid misjudgement are staggering. The question is; why would this Government be better at handling anything else? –  Brooke van Velden

Three wood burners? So, not living in the 76 m2 of the average British new build then?

And that’s the bit that should perturb. Antinomianism. Absolutely none of these people who insist upon “protecting” nature and restricting building ever actually live in the floorspaces they insist the proles are to be allowed. This isn’t specific to George either. And the solution is only going to come when everyone in the planning process, from PM to Parish Councillor, every planning bureaucrat, is forced to live, with their entire families, in the sort of shite they insist is good enough for everyone else. Tim Worstall

If 2022 has been the year of the “woman”, it is a tale with two different final chapters: one hopeful, one less so. The first is set in a distant country, where an archaic, theocratic regime threatens to be toppled by women throwing down their hijabsand demanding their emancipation. The second plays out in a more familiar setting but in an unfamiliar language; a Western nation where the word “woman” itself no longer has any meaning, its definition rewritten to include “an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth”.

This is the paradox of the past 12 months: the existence of women is being questioned in the very place where female emancipation has come furthest, while in places where women remain shackled to medieval notions of honour and chastity, true feminism is at its strongest. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali 

Those who would divorce “woman” from its biological implications often present their ideas as innocuous. They are, we are told, simply champions of “inclusion”. But their ideology is hardly uncontroversial, and surrendering to it is not harmless. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali 

A word of clarification. I am immensely sympathetic to the plight of transgender people and believe they ought to have the same moral and legal rights as everyone else. To be against militant trans activists’ gender ideology is not to be transphobic. Rather, it is simply to agree, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie succinctly put it, that “trans women are trans women”. Adichie was savaged for this and other statements evincing wrongthink, but acknowledging that trans women are distinct from women, that there are potential conflicts between their rights, and that gender ideology opens the door to abusive men masquerading as women, should not be controversial. Standing up for the rights of transgender people should not mean pretending sex does not exist altogether.

Indulging in this fantasy can have perverse, and dangerous, repercussions — both at home and abroad. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali 

Is it really a coincidence that, in the same year the West forgot what it means to be a woman, we decided it was acceptable to turn our backs on women in those countries? The above is what happens when a society stops caring what it means to be a woman; when a centuries-old fight for emancipation becomes relegated to semantics. Of course, this takes a different form in Kenya, Iran and Afghanistan. But there still seem to me to be similarities between today’s gender activists and theocratic subjugators. Both believe, on the basis of a contentious ideology, that they have a monopoly on truth. And both, in a sense, are champions of the subjective over the objective: in one case, particular religious beliefs are said to tell us how society should be run — and in the other, mere feelings are said to abolish material reality.

This is why gender ideology advocates are a threat not just to women but to Western ideals, too. Western culture prides itself on the achievements of the Enlightenment and science — in other words, on objectivity. It was on an objective basis that previous generations of feminists staked their claim: their plight was based on an appeal to reason. Now, so-called “progressives” — another term that has been redefined into meaninglessness — stake their claim on subjective feelings and happily ignore or dismiss its material effects. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali 

If the spirit of true feminism is to be reclaimed, we need more JK Rowlings and fewer Ketanji Brown Jacksons.

It is not just feminism and the rights of women that are at stake here: so, too, are the best ideals of the West itself. If 2022 is the year of the “woman”, let’s hope 2023 will be the year when we can delete those quotation marks. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali 

Saturday soapbox


Saturday’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 abuse.

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week begin paving hell with them as usual.  – Mark Twain

Word of the day


Abeam – on a line at right angles to a ship’s or an aircraft’s length; off to the side of a ship or plane especially at a right angle to the middle of the ship or plane’s length; opposite the middle of an aircraft or ship.

North Otago Legends – Mike Gray


Damien Goodsir and Gary Kircher interview another North Otago Legend:

Mike Gray has been busy since he moved to the district, from restoring the Tokarahi Homestead to being involved in the Duntroon community. Starting life as an Auzzie hasn’t slowed him down too much and we can now claim him as one of our own. Mike is a key member of the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark trust and the Vanished World.

Beautifying the blogosphere


Making eggceptions


The UK is considering some changes to free range egg rules:

Eggs laid by hens kept in barns for months on end could be classed as free range under changes being considered by the Government to keep farmers competitive with Europe.

Ministers are considering tearing up free-range egg rules, amid concerns proposals in the EU risk putting UK farmers at a disadvantage.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, led by Therese Coffey, is understood to be weighing up changes to rules that currently mean eggs cannot be classed as free range if birds are indoors for more than 16 weeks, Whitehall sources said. 

It comes as the EU prepares to rip up its own rules in response to avian flu outbreaks.

Farmers currently have a grace period of 16 weeks in both the EU and UK, which means eggs can still be labelled as free-range if a government-issued housing order for birds is in place up to 16 weeks.

After that point, labels need to be added to packaging making it clear that those are now classed as barn eggs. . . 

Two points to consider in light of the egg shortage here:

Robert Gooch, chief executive of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association, said earlier this year that if rules were different, “retailers will import eggs labelled as free-range from housed hens in the EU” rather than buying British barn eggs.

Chicken farmers are becoming increasingly concerned that avian flu could become a more regular occurrence, with the virus appearing to spread more easily in wild birds during recent outbreaks. This means it is harder to stop them from spreading the virus. . .

Will we soon have eggs imported from countries with less strict rules than ours and is the requirement for more free range eggs putting our hens at risk of avian flu and other diseases that could be spread by wild birds?


In case you missed it, Gavin Bloem left a comment on yesterday’s which helps explain the egg shortage here.

The week after Christmas


This is my favourite week of the year.

It’s too late to worry about things not yet crossed off this year’s to-do list and too soon to start on next year’s.

There’s more than enough food left over from Christmas Day to make meal preparation easy.

And while things-farming still need attention, there’s also time to catch up with family and friends, and to start on the books in the to-do pile.

But this week had another task – preparing for and officiating at the funeral of a friend.

It’s both helpful and harder to be a celebrant for a friend’s farewell – helpful because knowing someone well makes it easier to craft a service and choose words that are appropriate; harder because the grief is personal.

Gratitude threaded through this service because the subject of it was so very good at saying thank you, and the farewell was an opportunity to celebrate that and say thank you to him.

And it wasn’t just people who gave voice to the thanks – the after-service afternoon tea began with a bark-up from the Collie Club dogs.

Funeral over, there’s still a couple of days left in my favourite week of the year, to be with friends and family, to read and to reflect.

Among the reflections will be the reminder that life’s fatal, that most of us don’t know if this New Year will be our last and that ought to be the impetus to make it a good one.

Word of the day


Solipsistic – very self-centered or selfish; of, relating to, or characterised by solipsism or extreme egocentricity; pertaining to the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.

Beautifying the blogosphere


North Otago Legends – Phil Williamson


Damien Goodsir and Gary Kircher interview another North Otago Legend:

Phil Williamson is New Zealand’s greatest harness racing trainer and is known as “The Trotting Master’. To be honest Gary and I didn’t know Phil or much about his field of expertise but after chatting to him for an hour we were confident enough to put a wee bet on two horses trained by him at the Lates Oamaru races. 

Animal and human welfare shouldn’t be mutually exclusive


This was predictable :

Supermarket shelves are bare of eggs while others are limiting the number of cartons customers can buy during a drop in supply. . . 

A ban on battery caged hens, announced back in 2012, comes into effect on Saturday and over the past few years the deadline has caused turmoil in the industry.

Egg Producers Federation executive director Michael Brooks said more than 75 percent of chicken farmers have had to change their farming methods or their career because of the ban.

“The supermarket’s announcement to refuse colony cage eggs, the end of the cage system, plus Covid, plus the grain cost rising because of the Ukraine war have all come together,” he said.

“It’s led to a drop of about 600,000 or 700,000 hens in the commercial flock. That’s a lot of eggs that aren’t available.”

In 2012, 84 percent of all the country’s eggs were from battery farms.

Brooks predicted egg prices would also rise as it has cost farmers millions to change their practices. . . 

Having high standards of animal welfare is essential but those standards must be based on rigorous science not the emotional rhetoric of anti-farming activists and producers must be given time to transition to new standards.

It will be sadly ironic if hens in farms that don’t yet meet the standards have to be euthanised.

It is worse than ironic that people’s welfare is already being impacted by the egg shortage caused by the higher standards for animal welfare. Inflation is putting pressure on many household budgets, lower supply and higher prices for eggs is making that worse.

If only people who make the rules could join the dots between what they’re expecting, higher costs, lower production and higher prices and then find a way to ensure that animals are treated humanely without driving production costs up and producers out of business.

Animal and human welfare shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

Word of the day


Exonumia – numismatic items other than coins and paper money; items, as tokens or medals, that resemble money but are not intended to circulate as money.

Rural round-up


Methane reduction discussion missing the mark – Neal Wallace:

New Zealand livestock farmers are being sold short by methane reduction policies that fail to acknowledge the role of methane sinks and that fossil fuels are increasing emissions of the greenhouse gas.

Scientists addressing an Ag@Otago webinar organised by the University of Otago group said virtually all NZ sheep and beef farmers and most dairy farmers would be carbon dioxide-equivalent neutral due to the naturally occurring element hydroxyl, which removes methane from the atmosphere.

Nature has and continues to provide methane sequestration, they say.

They also expressed doubts an effective methane vaccine for livestock will be developed because of the difficulties overcoming the complex biology of ruminant animals. . . .

Pricing farm emissions can’t lead to cuts in production – West Coast Council – Brendon McMahon:

The West Coast Regional Council has given “partial support” to some of the proposals under the government’s Pricing Agricultural Emissions document.

But it raises concerns about psycho-social, health and economic impacts on the region’s largely rural community.

“We are extremely concerned at the impact this proposal will have on our communities,” the submission for the council’s Resource Management Committee said.

Incentive payments to reduce emissions should not come from reduced production, or promoting different land use, the council said in one of ten key points the submission raised. . . 

New RMA signals huge change for food and fibre production  :

“Changing the resource management framework is inter-generational change and it is needed. What’s not needed is more restriction, more compliance, and more uncertainty,” says Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ Vanessa Winning.

“The Natural and Built Environment (NBE) Bill, which has been introduced to Parliament to replace the Resource Management Act, will impact the entire food and fibre sector; every grower, farmer, harvester, and producer – particularly as it relates to water use.

“We agree on the importance of restoring and protecting our precious natural resources. We also believe that this can be done while enabling the careful use of water to underpin reliability and flexibility needed for our growers and farmers as they continue to reduce their production impact and emissions profile. Reliable water is the biggest enabler to lower emissions land use.

“We are worried the NBE Bill will lead to more uncertainty and more unnecessary compliance for water users involved in food and fibre production, and as a result that it will inhibit positive change, rather than enable it. .. 

Northland weather goes nuts – peanut trial impacted due to extreme wet :

The planting of Year 2 of the Northland Peanut Trials has been impacted by the ongoing wet weather soaking the region over the past three months.

Of the eight planned sites, three of the four Far North sites were planted, with two being successful. Unfortunately, one crop planted on heavier soil failed to germinate as a result of the wetter conditions. None of the four sites across the Kaipara were planted due to continual saturated soil conditions. In total, 0.51 hectares of trial crops were successfully planted.

Like many of Northland’s growers, crops have been severely impacted by heavy rain creating soil conditions too damp to successfully plant in, resulting in less than one quarter of the planned 4.03 hectares of peanut crops being planted.

Northland Inc Project Manager, Greg Hall, says: . . 

Synlait Milk confirms full-year underlying profit outlook :

Synlait Milk has confirmed its full-year underlying profit outlook, but the half-year result has been hit by rising costs.

The company previously announced it expected underlying profit for the year ending July to be similar to 2021, which was s $37.3 million.

Delayed shipments of ingredient products resulted in about a 45 percent drop in sales volumes in the first four months of the financial year ending in July, but had since returned to near normal.

In addition to supply chain issues, Synlait Milk’s investment in technology and inflation added to costs. . . 

Summer fruit season starts well :

The summerfruit season has started well, with plenty of high-quality fruit available and the workforce to pick it.

‘Cherry, nectarine, peach and other summerfruit growers are reporting a positive start to the 2022-2023 season,’ says Summerfruit New Zealand Chief Executive, Kate Hellstrom.

‘Fruit quality is good plus there are more people than last year available to pick the fruit. This is due to the attraction and retention campaigns that the industry has been running for the past few years, and the fact it is easier to enter New Zealand now our borders have been freed up.

‘Having enough people to pick and pack is vital. There is nothing worse for a grower than fruit being left on trees and going to waste, which is the situation some of our growers have been in, in recent years.’ . . .


Newish foods


Some surprises here – including apple crumble which I thought would have been much older.

North Otago Legends – Nick Shearer


Damien Goodsir and Gary Kircher interview North Otago Legends:

Sometimes it’s amazing what we don’t know about others. For example Nick Shearer has scaled New Zealand’s tallest peak Mt Cook/Aoraki five times. Nick was there when 12 million cubic meters fell off the mountain in the 1991 landslide causing it to lose 10 meters in height. 

Today’s podcast is a fantastic listen and maybe you’ll be inspired to conquer your own mountains.

Word of the day


Quinquadragennial – 45th anniversary.

Plant-based meat the natural way


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