Word of the day


Antilogism – a false syllogism in which two premises contradict the third; an inconsistent triad of propositions in logic of which two are premises of a valid syllogism while the third is the contradictory of its conclusion; a group of three inconsistent propositions, two of which are premises of a syllogism that contradict the third.







Sowell says


Rural round-up


Forestry industry expects major changes lie ahead in wake of inquiry :

There is “no magic wand” to sort the forestry slash problem but a robust science-based inquiry may help, an industry boss says.

Eastland Wood Council chief executive Philip Hope told Morning Report the forestry industry knows change is coming and it is willing to cooperate fully with the government’s newly announced inquiry into forestry slash and land use.

The inquiry was announced on the same day 64 households were evacuated in Tokomaru Bay because of fears a debris dam formed in a river above the town could fail.

But without flow meters on the river Civil Defence have people stationed above the dam watching it with more heavy rain due for the East Coast region. . .

One step at a time for fruit growers who face uncertain future – Sally Round :

You can’t drive down Swamp Road with your car windows open. The putrid smell from silt smothering the orchards here is nauseating and as you drive you’re hit by the greyness of it all.

Instead of lush green trees popping with apples ready to be picked, branches stick out from a sea of drying mud and drooping fences laced with onions look like bizarre art installations.

It’s odd seeing big hay bales sitting wonkily among the vines. They should be together, neatly stacked.

Every few hundred metres, you pass a soggy mash of household contents on the verge – people’s lives tipped out. . . 

Clen-up underway in cyclone damaged regions as the New Zealand wine industry looks towards harvest :

The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle, and the extent of the damage to vineyards in flooded areas in the North Island, is still being assessed but clean-up is underway as winegrowers look towards this year’s harvest says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Cyclone Gabrielle has occurred on the cusp of the busiest time of year for the industry, just as the 2023 vintage is about to begin, and it is a major blow for affected growers and wineries throughout Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne. We have been working with our regional associations and government agencies to support and help them access the resources they need to ensure the future viability of their vineyards.”

As the varied extent of the damage in flooded regions becomes clearer, many winegrowers who have not been as extensively affected in these areas are moving on from the initial phase of response, and are beginning harvest.

“We have a large number of vineyards in both regions that have not been as significantly impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, and these winegrowers are beginning to harvest their crop, with many producers still feeling positive and looking forward to a high-quality vintage.” . . 

Sprightly cavalcader keeps coming back for more – Sally Rae :

“She’s an inspiration. How many 87-year-olds still can lift a saddle up, saddle up a horse and ride for a week?”

Janette Philp is referring to her mother, Alice Sinclair, who is heading off with her horse on her 30th consecutive Goldfields Cavalcade this weekend.

Legend might be an overused word these days, but it is the perfect description for the sprightly octogenarian, who does not see her achievements as anything special.

Whether it is harrowing the paddocks on her Taieri property or riding her horse, Mrs Sinclair just gets on with things, and the cavalcade has been a not-to-be missed event in her busy calendar. . . 

Wool impact and data company Fusca partner to develop strong wool price indicator :

Wool impact and data company, Fusca have partnered for the development of a strong wool price indicator.

Both organisations have recognised the need to develop a representative strong wool price indicator that provides a visible and consistent benchmark for the sector and allows them to monitor the impact of work being undertaken to drive demand and value.

Start-up Fusca has the technology to develop a commercial data platform that will provide farmers and the wool supply chain with more detailed and accurate pricing data based on the weekly wool auction and export data. Fusca’s Chief Executive and co-founder, Ryan Cosgrove, has first-hand experience in the wool sector and knows the importance of reliable and relevant data.

“We need to raise awareness of the value of wool as natural fibre, however, to increase demand and value for wool, we need to better understand what the drivers for value are and be able to monitor these. . .

Tommerup Dairy farm named in Farmer of the Year Awards :

Twenty Jersey Cows. That’s all it took for Kay and Dave Tommerup to take an enormous leap of faith and believe their farm in the Kerry Valley in Queensland’s Scenic Rim could stand alone as a place of extraordinary, independent produce and experiences.

It was a big leap. But fortunately, it paid off. 

They put their business faith, and their family’s future into 20 beautiful, brown-eyed Jersey cows that produce the richest milk. Milk where the cream floats to the top and sits there like a crown.

It’s milk from which Kay makes hand-rolled butter infused with red gum smoked salt that’s demanded by top chefs and spoken of in hushed tones of secrecy across countess commercial kitchens. . . 


Quotes of the day


The media was acting as the enforcer of its own values and parameters of acceptable thought. This was not journalism.

The media is not, as Orwell imagined it, a tool of oppression used by the state. It has adopted its own set of values and ideas, and uses its power to ensure politicians do not deviate in thought and word from what they have defined as appropriate. – Damien Grant

Threatening to burn as a heretic anyone who questions the prevailing wisdom is evidence of a fragility in your belief system rather than a confidence in it.

We have become in thrall to the shrill, demanding and intolerant. We are not willing to stand up for what we believe in if those beliefs upset millennials armed with nothing more than a keyboard and a sense of self-importance. – Damien Grant 

We are not in Winston Smith’s dystopian world. Those seeking to control our speech, to demand we join in the Two Minutes of Hate, who seek to memory-hole bad ideas and re-write offensive children’s books do not hold real power.

They can demand we reject the evidence of our eyes, as they insist that inflation is caused by Vladimir Putin and not Adrian Orr, or that the Musket Wars never be talked about in polite society; but that is all they can do.

We do not require the courage of Winston Smith to speak our minds and when the cost is so low, why do we cower?

Our political leaders would be doing the nation a service to be more assertive in defending those whose ideas offend these keyboard tyrants; not only because the freedom to follow your conscience is a good in itself, but because there is tangible value in a diversity in views.

Something that we all believe today will, in time, be displaced in the conventional wisdom, and an idea widely reviled today will be vindicated.

Our ancestors believed with certainty things we now know to be nonsense. Are we so sure our grandchildren will not enjoy the same experience? – Damien Grant 

THAT IT COULD BE DONE AT ALL is unfathomable. That professional publishers and editors, supposedly the possessors of post-graduate degrees in English Literature, could even contemplate sanctioning such a desecration is astonishing. Surely, this must be one of those stories we read on “The Onion” website – preposterously funny satire?

No. Wrong on all counts. This story is true.

The publishers (Puffin Books) and current holders of the copyright (Netflix) have colluded in the re-writing of Roald Dahl’s books for young readers.  – Chris Trotter

Words like “titchy, “tiny”, and (with the most extreme prejudice) “fat”, have been purged from the pages of Dahl’s books.

Not at the behest of Dahl’s young readers, of course, they thrill to Dahl’s spiky, misanthropic and just plain naughty vocabulary. Even the dark and scary aspects of Dahl’s work are lapped-up by his young readers – in much the same way that they thrill to the dark and scary elements of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The occasional spine-tingle is a crucial part of the reading experience – at least, it used to be.

And this is important because ….. ? With a stricken North Island to nurse back to health, why should anyone care about the re-writing of Roald Dahl’s books?

The answer, of course, is that children need to know that the world can be an extremely dangerous place. They need to know that it is filled with quirky, alarming, and sometimes downright dangerous people. Children need to be able to reach back into their internal libraries for the sort of role models Roald Dahl specialised in creating: not always good; not always nice; but without doubt clever, brave, and entertainingly resourceful.

When disaster strikes, it matters – a lot – that it does not strike a society raised in the carefully nurtured belief that there are no disasters. That dishonest, abusive and downright dangerous people do not, in fact, exist. That being raised to recognise moments in which behaving sweetly simply will not cut it, is a good thing, not a bad thing. Moments when the resourceful trickster is a better role model than the politically-correct goody-two-shoes who would never dream of calling anybody “fat”. Chris Trotter

Literature, and all the other forms of cultural expression, are not supposed to make us good people, they are supposed to make us real people. That is why when well-meaning people (or so we must assume) decide to “rectify” the works of artists who care about reality, we should all be very worried. – Chris Trotter

Roald Dahl, being dead, cannot object to the behaviour of those in whom he entrusted the safe-keeping of his art. But living artists have no cause for complacency. Once the formerly rock-solid reverence for an artist’s work disappears – as it so evidently has among Dahl’s publishers – no writer, dramatist, poet, painter, sculptor, or cinematographer, alive or dead, will be safe. While we, their audience, will remain, thanks to our censorious middle-class betters, innocent ignoramuses.Chris Trotter

In 1807, Harriet Bowdler edited The Family Shakespeare, a version of the Bard from which anything vaguely salacious had been expunged. Her brother, Thomas, did the same for Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, thus giving the English language a delightful new verb: to bowdlerize, that is, to remove supposedly offensive language from a literary work, thereby weakening it and reducing its impact.

I remember a time when we laughed at the Bowdlers, and the bowdlerizers, as being absurd, prissy, and prudish. We thought that, being fully mature for the first time in human history, we had overcome both the need and the impulse to bowdlerize. How wrong we were.

The desire to bowdlerize, it seems, springs eternal. The latest victims of bowdlerization are the children’s books of Roald Dahl, which have now sold 250 million copies worldwide. Children love them because—dare I say it—they are transgressive. Children, necessarily dominated by adults and required by them to control their impulses, delight to see adults in all their hideousness, physical and moral. – Theodore Dalrymple

The new versions of Dahl’s books contain hundreds of amendments, some pointless, most implicitly doctrinaire, and others outright mendacious—for example, the dedication of a whole book to all doctors, which Dahl never made.

Words such as “father” and “mother” have become offensive not because some children are orphaned, as was always the case, but because some children have two fathers or two mothers, and even more have no fathers. Think of the distress the poor little mites experience if they read the words “father” or “mother!”

The sensitivity readers who go through books anticipating such distress—prevention is so much better than cure—have an immense and never-ending task before them (they need never fear unemployment), for they can always find new fears to anticipate and assuage. – Theodore Dalrymple

The editing is an insult to the sophistication of children, who quickly become aware of the difference between literal and other interpretation of words. This is forgotten, it seems, by some of their elders and betters.

Perhaps the sensitivity readers aim not merely to render certain thoughts and judgments impossible for children but also to create a world in which they will enjoy perpetual powers of censorship—and employment, courtesy of giant corporations such as Netflix, owner of the Roald Dahl Story Company.

Mrs. Bowdler was merely puritanical; the sensitivity readers combine puritanism with political tyranny. Mrs. Bowdler, meet Joseph Stalin.Theodore Dalrymple

Economic history tells us that the best outcomes come from inclusive democracy, secular institutions based on science and reasoning, a market economy with macro-economic stability and micro-economic flexibility, and social risk management policies. New Zealand has such things in place, and yet its democracy and institutions are under attack by advocates for race and tribe-based policies and for constitutional change to transfer power to unelected iwi leaders. What is going on? – Peter Winsley

Democracy also requires an educated population that shares core disciplinary knowledge such as literacy, numeracy, and science.  It requires critical thinking capabilities and a habit of exercising them.

Democracy is majority rule, and minorities must be protected from tyranny by the majority.  These protections include common law, Magna Carta rights, compensation for regulatory takings, and inclusive voting systems, for example proportional representation. Peter Winsley

By around 1950 New Zealand was still near the top in per capita income and lacked extremes of wealth and poverty.  However, while much wealthier in absolute terms compared to a century before Māori still lagged other population groups in relative terms.  Reasons for this included Māori being concentrated in poorer parts of the country, the effects of the New Zealand wars on some though not all iwi, poor educational aspirations and achievement, and prejudicial Pakeha attitudes.

“Colonial institutions” are widely blamed for relatively poorer socio-economic outcomes for Māori.  This may be true for the Native Land Courts from 1865, however key institutions such as schools, hospitals, public research agencies, Parliament, the Reserve Bank, the Commerce Commission and our trade services have worked quite well for New Zealanders.  Some Māori institutions, for example Kōhanga Reo may have performed quite well, while others such as Wānanga have been patchy with many students receiving poor post-study outcomes.

From about the 1950s Māori migration into the cities eroded some whanau and hapu structures, though it also led to economic gains.  Sociological problems co-existed with near full employment.  Māori-dominated gangs had significant presence by the 1970s.  – Peter Winsley

With interventions such as the 1973 domestic purposes benefit, the social welfare system helped create benefit dependency and led to single parent (mainly fatherless) households.  Neglect and abuse are problems for too many Māori children.  Most early European visitors to New Zealand commented on how caring and solicitous Māori parents were with their children, and so traditional Māori culture cannot be blamed for today’s problems.

New Zealand is a successful small democracy.  Māori socio-economic wellbeing has improved dramatically since 1840 and Lindsay Mitchell (2021) demonstrates the progress made under and because of colonisation.  No Māori living today would swap places with one living in pre-European times.

Despite the gains New Zealand has made in its short history there is now a concerted effort to replace much of its democratic system and public assets with control by unelected tribal interests.  Yet there is not a single tribal society in the modern world that has succeeded in delivering high living standards and equity.

Power-driven tribal leaders, politicians acting for one racial group rather than all New Zealanders, academics without scholarship, government-funded journalists, judges behaving like conviction politicians and pusillanimous public servants are undermining New Zealand’s democracy and key institutions.Peter Winsley

It seems that Shakespeare is Kryptonite for tribalists, racialists and ethno-nationalists, probably because his works instantiate all human psychology and therefore are a force for human universality. –

Māori socio-economic outcomes need to improve.  However, rather than taking a needs focus and delivering socio-economic interventions informed by economic science the focus is on Te Tiriti o Waitangi commitments and Waitangi Tribunal deliberations, developing cultural solutions to Māori problems, and constitutional change which includes though is not limited to “co-governance”. – 

The Tribunal does not appear to have strict boundaries over what it can investigate.  Rather than the textualism school of legal interpretation which focuses on the plain meaning of the text that the 1840 signatories actually signed up to, the Tribunal takes a “presentist” approach that imposes 21st century politics, ideology and “language elasticity” on words and actions 183 years ago.

A good example is “taonga” which in 1840 meant a valuable physical object.  Now in 2023 it means anything of value, from objects, language, cultural knowledge, water to broadcasting spectrum, and no doubt sometime in the future to fresh air.

The Tribunal now functions as a cross between a statutory body which can make determinations and a partisan lobby group for a racial constituency.

Tribunal reports now make assertions which are manifestly false and yet which become accepted “truths”.  An example is the contention that the Treaty/Te Tiriti did not involve Māori ceding sovereignty to the Queen, despite the evidence from scholarship, from speeches made by the chiefs who signed the Treaty, again affirmed at the Kohimarama conference in 1860.  –

One thesis is that Māori socio-economic problems result from loss of Māori culture, language and identity.  However, most of the challenges that low socio-economic Māori face are employment, incomes, housing and net worth, not identity problems.  Vast investment has gone into te reo Māori language training and to some extent tikanga .  There is no evidence this has paid off socio-economically.  On the other hand this may not have been the purpose of the provision offered to students. 

Lourie & Rata (2014) assessed the practice and consequences of a culture-based curriculum that is promoted as the solution to educational underachievement by a section of the Māori population.  They argue that the ‘cultural solution’ is itself a contributor to educational under-achievement.Peter Winsley

The constitutional conflict in New Zealand is not between Māori and non-Māori.  It is between liberal democracy and equal citizenship versus birth-ascribed racial identities and tribalism.

Co-governance so far is achieving patchy results.  As one example, Ngāi Tūhoe’s operational entity Te Uru Taumatua has carried out mass destruction of huts in Te Urewera, asserting its authority over what was once a National Park.  This is against the opposition of many other Māori, including Tūhoe, as well as non-Māori.

If the Three Waters initiative is operationalised as set out in the legislation it will be overly influenced by people appointed on the basis of race and kinship rather than merit.  At best this is a recipe for mediocrity, at worse it will lead to nepotism on an unprecedented scale.

If we fail to defend New Zealand’s democracy, we will no longer be an outwards-looking and progressive nation.  We will regress to a hybrid regime made up of a weakened system of parliamentary democracy and racialistic tribalism. – Peter Winsley

A way forward is to meld together the best from Māori identity and cultural affirmation and outwards-looking democracy.  Some tikanga can fit within our common law system.

Tino rangatiratanga in Te Tiriti is best defined as self-determination that starts with individuals and subsidiarity and from this base leads to collective action.  Te Tiriti was signed largely by Rangatira that headed whanau or hapu rather than Ariki that were paramount iwi chiefs. 

Tino rangatiratanga can evoke self-betterment, creating choices in one’s life and innovative collective action rather than being perceived as a political slogan.  It depends on individual self-motivation and purposeful work and endeavour.  It is degraded by welfare dependency, grievance mentalities, and blaming colonisation or events over a century ago for today’s challenges.

In these troubled times many wish for a Volodymr Zelensky to lead us and for the courage of the Ukrainian people.  However, we can all be leaders in our own little ways, and New Zealanders do not lack courage when they understand the issues.Peter Winsley

Before anyone rushes to denounce me, I’m not a climate change denier. I’ m not in a position to deny anything, since I don’t possess the scientific knowledge to make definitive assertions. My own amateur observations tell me the climate is changing; the winters are warmer (we seem to get far fewer frosts in Masterton than 20 years ago) and the frequency of slips on the Remutaka Hill road is a very basic pointer to heavier and more frequent rain. Weather bombs that were once exceptional are now the norm.

Nonetheless, the science on climate change is contradictory and often freighted with ideology – so yes, I’m sceptical. I think journalists and scientists have a duty to be sceptical. – Karl du Fresne

But while acknowledging I’m an ignoramus, I think I have a legitimate question to ask. Even accepting that the climate is changing, what has happened this summer seems qualitatively different. It has not only been brutal and extreme but abrupt, persistent and viciously repetitive – too much so, surely, to have been simply a continuation of a familiar long-term trend. It just seems too easy – too glib, almost – to put it all down to human-induced climate change.

Which brings me back to Hunga Tonga. Notwithstanding my lack of scholarship, it seems obvious to me from the various academic papers published about the HT eruption that it had meteorological consequences. One study, published by the French National Center for Scientific Research, called it the most remarkable climate event of the past three decades. There’s a clue, right there.

Another paper, published by the American Geophysical Union, had this to say: “The violent Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption on 15 January 2022 not only injected ash into the stratosphere but also large amounts of water vapor, breaking all records for direct injection of water vapor, by a volcano or otherwise, in the satellite era.

“The massive blast injected water vapor up to altitudes as high as 53 km. Using measurements from the Microwave Limb Sounder [no, I don’t know what that means either] on NASA’s Aura satellite, we estimate that the excess water vapor is equivalent to around 10% of the amount of water vapor typically residing in the stratosphere. Unlike previous strong eruptions, this event may not cool the surface, but rather it could potentially warm the surface due to the excess water vapor.” –  Karl du Fresne

I admit that much of the paper is incomprehensible to me, but am I wrong to assume that a phenomenon of that scale is going to affect weather patterns?

Yet another study, published in Nature Climate Change, similarly noted that the HT eruption had expelled an unprecedented amount of water into the atmosphere and could cause an increase in global surface temperatures lasting several years. So there seems to be some sort of consensus.

I learned that volcanic eruptions can have a profound impact on the weather when, in a past life as a wine writer, I heard New Zealand winemakers bemoaning the Pinatubo years. – Karl du Fresne

Hunga Tonga, being an underwater eruption that produced a plume of water rather than clouds of dust that absorbed sunlight, had a different effect, leading to the predictions of rising global temperatures.

Either way, it seems safe to assume the eruption will have had an effect on the weather. And being a lot closer to New Zealand than Mt Pinatubo, doesn’t it stand to reason that its impact is likely to be more pronounced?

Bearing all this in mind, it doesn’t seem fanciful to suggest that Hunga Tonga might have played a hand in the apocalyptic weather events of the past two weeks. But I wonder if that likelihood is being played down because it conflicts with the human-induced climate change narrative so feverishly promoted by the Greens and now apparently accepted by the National Party – and enforced by sections of the media.

To put it another way, are we in a Fawlty Towers-type scenario where the implicit understanding is that no one should mention Hunga Tonga? (To quote Basil Fawlty, I just did, but I think I can get away with it.)Karl du Fresne

The problem with politicians is you usually know the answer yourself and you know what they should be saying, but they don’t say anything, and that’s the problem. Politicians I’ve found over the years are verbose to the extent that they talk themselves around a corner, and sometimes a door opens and they go in, and it’s too late to rescue themselves. – Barry Soper

I’ve had to explain to my older kids and apologise to them [as] when you have your first families, you tend to be pursuing your career, trying to make money, buying houses, so you don’t have the same time. Now, I’m an old geezer, far too old to be having kids, and he has been fantastic. He’s the joy of my life. He’s just wonderful. – Barry Soper

I take my hat off even more to what you once were as a solo mum. How on earth you cope as a solo mum, I’ll never know. That it’s so hard, emotionally, work-wise, and lonely. So I take my hat off generally to women that do it, and it’s sort of opened my eyes totally to child rearing. – Barry Soper

Taking the meme ‘Everyone I Don’t Like Is Hitler’ to dizzying new heights, now we’re being told it’s far right to want to drive your car. Motorist and fascist, peas in a pod. Protesters against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and so-called 15-minute cities – policies being adopted in various regions of the UK that will severely limit where and how often a person can drive his car – have been damned as hard-right loons. Who but a modern-day Brownshirt would bristle at eco-measures designed to save Mother Earth from car toxins? One author attended this month’s colourful protest against Oxford City Council’s anti-driving policies and decreed that this motley crew of car-lovers are on ‘the road to fascism’. Only they’ll never get there, presumably, given the elites’ penchant for road restrictions.

The climate fanatics are getting desperate. Of course, they’ve long used the tool of demonisation to try to shame and silence their critics. ‘Denier’ is a favoured insult. Question any aspect of the climate-alarmist agenda, including the harebrained claim that billions will soon die in a fiery apocalypse of man’s making, and you’ll be branded with that D-word. It marks you out as unfit for public life.

Yet the hysterical denunciation of pro-car protesters as maniacs and conspiracy theorists who are one car journey away from becoming open fanboys of the Fourth Reich is a new low. It’s classic gaslighting. The elites are hell-bent on restricting car-use, and this will make life harder for people, especially working-class people. To brand as nuts those who make this correct observation feels like a species of psychological warfare.  – Brendan O’Neill 

The climate fanatics are coming for your car. It’s not a myth. It’s not a conspiracy theory. They’re open about it. In both the UK and the US, eco-thinkers continually talk about using urban planning to socially re-engineer the throng. Let’s remake American cities so that ‘walking, biking and public-transit use’ are prioritised over car-use, says Vox. Don’t call this anti-car, though. Don’t say the establishment longs to deprive us of the great 20th- and 21st-century freedom of getting in one’s vehicle and going wherever one pleases. You’ll be denounced as a crank.

Yes, some hard right-wingers have attached themselves to the uprising against the motorphobia of the new elites. But you’d think the Guardianista middle classes would understand that this is inevitable in a relatively free society. After all, these are the kind of people who attend anti-Israel demos at which you will frequently see the most vile expressions of anti-Semitic hatred and who went on those bitter anti-Brexit marches at which some banners mocked the intellectual inferiority of working-class Leave voters. If the appearance of a far-right twat at a pro-driving protest means that everyone who’s pro-driving is far right, then by the same token you all must have a very serious problem with Jews and working-class folk. That’s how this works, right? – Brendan O’Neill 

It is perfectly legitimate to describe top-down, eco-justified restrictions on people’s freedom to drive as a climate lockdown. No, it isn’t the handiwork of the WEF and it isn’t part of a global plot to imprison us in our homes. But erecting cameras to spy on car-users and fining those who drive to certain parts of their own city, all with the intention of pressuring us to walk instead, is a breed of lockdown. It is illiberal, anti-modern and further proof that our green-leaning elites care little for the freedom or the bank balances of working people. Protesting against this isn’t ‘far right’ – it’s sensible and good.Brendan O’Neill 

Breaching impartiality


What’s hard to understand about the requirement for public servants to be politically impartial?

Highly political comments by Rob Campbell — who is Chair of both Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand and the Environmental Protection Agency — make his continued employment as one of the Government’s most senior public servants untenable, says the Taxpayers’ Union. The Union has written to the Public Service Commissioner asking him to investigate Mr Campbell for what appears to be a serious and clear breach of The Standards of Integrity and Conduct applicable to civil servants.

Over the weekend, Mr Campbell published a news report about Christopher Luxon’s alternative model to the Government’s controversial Three Waters policy and commented:

I was so amused by this that I thought it needed to stand alone. Leaving the solution to the major issues we can all see to the very bodies that have failed to avert the issues can only evince [sic] a John McEnroe “You cannot be serious!” cry.
What on earth would make anyone think this was a sensible idea for debit raising alone, let alone the managment [sic] and delivery of the tasks. Geographic and social inequities deepening while the infrastructure rots.
Ican[sic] only think that this is a thin disguise for the dog whistle on “co-governance”. Christopher Luxon might be able to rescue his party from stupidity on climate change but rescuing this from a well he has dug himself might be harder.

The post can still be viewed at:


Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams said:

“For one of New Zealand’s most senior bureaucrats to publish a diatribe attaching the Leader of the Opposition and suggest his opposition to co-governance is a ‘dog whistle’ is the most serious departure of public sector neutrality I have ever seen.”

“The political attack, and inclusion of inflammatory language, shows a worrying lack of judgement from someone who is supposed to be looking after the reputation of the public sector organisations he leads.”

“No matter your view on Three Waters, every New Zealander should be concerned with such a flagrant disregard to the long held rule that our civil service is to be, and seen to be, neutral.”

“This is one of those rare instances where it appears untenable for the individual to continue in his role. To protect the integrity of Health New Zealand and the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr Campbell has no option but to resign.”

“If Mr Campbell can’t see the error in his ways, and if the ethical standards applicable to the civil service mean anything, he should be sacked.”

The Code of Conduct for Crown Entity Board Members issued by the Public Service Commissioner states:

“We act in a politically impartial manner. Irrespective of our political interests, we conduct ourselves in a way that enables us to act effectively under current and future governments. We do not make political statements or engage in political activity in relation to the functions of the Crown entity.”

The Code of Conduct for Crown Entity Board Members goes on to say:

“When acting in our private capacity, we avoid any political activity that could jeopardise our ability to perform our role or which could erode the public’s trust in the entity. We discuss with the Chair any proposal to make political comment or to undertake any significant political activity.”

Making the comments was Campbell’s first mistake. He then compounded it by not understanding what he’d done wrong:

The chair of Health NZ is unrepentant for political comments he made on social media about a National Party policy announcement that’s led to a call for him to “pull his head in or resign”.

“Nothing to apologise for and nobody I need to apologise to,” he told Newshub. “Has someone asked for an apology? If so I have not seen it.”

Rob Campbell, chair of Te Whatu Ora, was critical of National’s Three Waters announcement on Sunday on LinkedIn.  . . 

Newshub asked Campbell if he believed his comments were consistent with the code of conduct. 

“Absolutely. Of course I am aware of and adhere to the Code. That Code enjoins me to be ‘honest and open’,” Campbell said. 

“The comments referred to were in a private capacity. I cannot see how a view on water reform could jeopardise my ability to perform my role at Te Whatu Ora nor erode public trust in Te Whatu Ora.”

It’s not his views, it’s that he expressed them publicly in contravention of the code of conduct.

Campbell made the comments on LinkedIn which highlights he is the chair of Te Whatu Ora as well as the Environmental Protection Authority.

He said there is a “big difference between being ‘politically impartial’ and being ‘politically neutered'” and he doesn’t regret making the comments. 

Campbell said there was “nothing to apologise for” and he hadn’t discussed the comments with Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall.

“Of course not. Why would I discuss National Party water reform policy with the Minister of Health?” . . 

The more important question is: why did he not know that it was inappropriate to make the comments publicly and then to make matters worse by showing no understanding of nor repentance for, doing it?

Campbell’s political allegiance isn’t a surprise but people who accept a role to head a public entity are required to keep their political partiality private.

His lack of judgement over this raises questions about where else he lets his political views overrule his responsibilities in public bodies.

Word of the day


Bipedal – using only two legs for walking; having two feet or two legs; using only two feet for locomotion.

Kerry James “Chester” Borrows QSO – 20.6.57 – 27.2.23


Former MP Kerry James “Chester” Borrows has died.

Former Whanganui MP Chester Borrows has died after he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

Borrows campaigned in two elections before winning the Whanganui seat, which includes South Taranaki, from Labour’s Jill Pettit in 2005.

He held the seat for four terms and was Minister for Courts and Deputy Speaker of the House in the Key Government before retiring in 2017. . . 

In 1978, he and two police colleagues received Queen’s Bravery Awards after arresting a murderer in the Wellington suburb of Miramar. . . 

Borrows spoke of his dedication to his electorate in a 2020 interview with the Herald.

“It’s a big electorate and you have to be absolutely everywhere. You have to be 200 per cent committed,” he said.

“If you want to be in charge of your brand, you need to work as hard as you can. Be everywhere, go to everything, comment on everything, always be friendly, always have that smile painted on.”

Borrows was a minister under former Prime Minister Sir John Key.

Key said today that he was sad to hear the news.

”Chester was a unique politician – Conviction to the core. He voiced his opinion and supported causes because he knew it was right even if not always popular with his caucus or the party faithful.

“He had the ability to have enduring relations with both sides of the House and will be someone that will be deeply mourned by all political parties.” . . .

Not all MPs recognise the work of party volunteers, Chester did.

I once sat beside him on a flight and benefitted from an hour of his thoughtful and intelligent conversation.

He was a good man, a practical Christian who put his faith into practice and leaves the world better for his contribution to it.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Cyclone Gabrielle: On the ground in Hawkes Bay :

Napier and Hastings are urban centres but the communities that surround them are rural. The bay area is renowned for its vineyards, orchards and farms. The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle on this highly productive land has been immense, and restoring these farming areas will take years.

Kev Mitchell from the Rural Support Trust gazes out onto the hills around State Highway 5.

He’s looking at the damage from the catastrophic Cyclone Gabrielle which ripped apart much of Hawkes Bay.

“Well I know all of these landowners and farmers here personally and this is just soul destroying, seeing the way their farms and farm infrastructure has been wrecked,” he says. . .

Hawkes Bay’s grapes of wrath – Bonnie Sumner :

The Hawkes Bay wine industry, along with other primary producers in the area, faces a long road to recovery after Cyclone Gabrielle. Bonnie Sumner talks to a vineyard manager about why some local wines will be short supply for years to come.

Ben Poulter from Sacred Hill reckons wine growers in Hawkes Bay have lost around 500 hectares of grapes to Cyclone Gabrielle.

He stresses that’s not an official number – it’s hard to say when anyone can make that estimation given the destruction in the region. But it seems a fair guess, and it’s a number being bandied about a lot by those in the local industry.

“I don’t know if that’s 500 hectares that has been wiped out – or because you can’t harvest them because they’ve got contamination.” . . 

Policy on forestry slash – Paul L. :

The recent floods have highlighted (again) the problem of forestry slash. It seems only a couple of years ago that there was a washout on the Napier – Taupo highway because of a bridge blocked then blown out by forestry slash. There was talk in the media, then no action.

I see again talk on twitter about this being a problem, but mostly in the context of blaming forestry or blaming global warming. I haven’t seen proposed solutions.

This post proposes a two part potential solution.

Let’s start with the problem. We have lots of pine forests because govt policy encourages them in many situations as compared to alternative farming. Those forests need to be harvested to provide an income both to their owners, but also to the country as a whole. We’re ultimately an agricultural country, and our farmland needs to remain productive. . . 

Pure Advantage calls for a complete pause in government incentives for exotic tree planting :

On the back of the Prime Minister’s enquiry into plantation slash, Pure Advantage is calling for a complete pause in all Government incentives for exotic tree planting in Aotearoa.

Pure Advantage Chair Rob Morrison says we have seen horrific damage caused by exotic plantation slash and other debris. Lives and homes have been lost, critical public infrastructure has been destroyed, and highly productive agricultural and horticultural land has been washed away or buried.

“Slash has been recognised as a major contributor to the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle, most of this has come from the mismanaged exotic tree plantations in the surrounding areas. The Government has incentivised these exotic plantations and is now paying the price for maximising the short-term returns without thinking about long-term consequences.”

Pure Advantage wants an immediate pause to all Government incentives for planting exotic trees like pinus radiata during its enquiry into slash. . . 

Fonterra revises fy23 forecast farmgate milk price and collections :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd today reduced and narrowed its 2022/23 season forecast Farmgate Milk Price range from $8.50 – $9.50 per kgMS, with a midpoint of $9.00, to NZ$8.20 – $8.80 per kgMS, with a midpoint of $8.50.

At the same time, Fonterra updated its forecast milk collections for the 2022/23 season to 1,465 million kgMS, down from its previous forecast of 1,480 million kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the revised forecast Farmgate Milk Price range reflects softened demand at a time of balanced supply.

“Demand for Whole Milk Powder, particularly from Greater China, has been soft with prices down around 5% since the beginning of December.  . .

Delegat hits record wine sales in half-year result :

Delegat Group has released its interim results today, announcing an operating profit of $40.2 million for the six months ending December 2022, a 2% increase from the previous corresponding half year.

The Group recorded operating revenue of $198.8 million after achieving record global case sales of 1.97 million cases over the six-month period. Managing Director Steven Carden said these were pleasing half-year results for the NZX-listed company.

“While there remain ongoing global economic pressures, Delegat Group’s strategy of expanding its winery and vineyard assets, combined with significant investment in in-market distribution and its brands, continues to pay off,” Carden said. “During the half-year Delegat Group purchased a previously leased vineyard in Marlborough for $39.9 million and invested $30.8 million in new vineyard developments and winery expansion to provide for future revenue and earnings growth.”

Revenue is up $20.1 million on the same period due to the increase in global case sales, including an 18% increase in USA and Canada markets, and the favourable impact of foreign exchange. . . 

Quotes of the day


In truth, I underestimated the Ukrainian people’s resilience, their courage, their love of country. And I was wrong, too, about the Western alliance. After more than a decade of drift and inaction, from the shameful failure to respond to the seizure of Crimea to the near-criminal indifference to the suffering in Syria, I doubted whether any major Western leader would make more than a token protest about the first full-scale European invasion since the Forties. I never expected to see Finland and Sweden jump off the fence and apply for Nato membership. Nor did I imagine that Joe Biden would be so unswerving in his commitment, or so generous with US military aid. Above all, I never anticipated that Kyiv would hold out, that Kharkiv would stand or that Kherson would be retaken. As I say, it’s nice to be wrong. – Dominic Sandbrook

How, then, does it end? If you agree with, say, the late Jeremy Corbyn, then the answer is obvious. Peace is better than war, so all that matters is to make it stop. Go cap in hand to Moscow, and keep offering them territory until Vladimir Putin raises a hand and says: “Enough!” If you want to feel good about yourself, you can dress it up as offering the Russian president an “off-ramp”. Or, if you’d prefer to be honest, you can just call it appeasement.

The alternative is at once emotionally unsatisfying and boringly straightforward. And sadly it involves lots of people dying, because that’s the nature of war. It is simply to keep giving the Ukrainians the aid, weapons and emotional and political support they need, until they have driven every last occupier from their land — or until they’ve had enough and are prepared to cut a deal. But that should be their decision, not ours. After 12 months of war and more than 100,000 casualties, they’ve earned the right to make it. After all, we would want the same, if we were in their shoes. And like them, we’d want our friends to do the right thing.

Good versus evil; right versus wrong. In a complicated world, sometimes it really is that simple.Dominic Sandbrook

There was a time when it was widely accepted that it was a good thing to adapt nature for our own ends. Indeed, that’s the only way we humans can survive. Nature has dragons; left unprotected from them, and they will devour us.

And on our own, compared to nature’s power, we human beings are weak. Left exposed and naked and without the food, shelter and technology produced by our adaptation of nature, if we merely settled for adapting ourselves to nature’s dragons then ever single one of us would struggle for survival. But adapt nature to ourselves — make it more humane and set nature’s processes and nature’s bounty working for us rather than agin us– and then as a species we’re off to the races.

This path — adapting nature to ourselves — was the path of centuries of human civilisation and flourishing, starting all the way back in settlements around the Euphrates, the Tigris and the Nile where floods were tamed and used to produce abundant wealth from the enormously fertile soil.

This is not the view nowadays however. Not so much.

THE PREDOMINANT VIEW NOWADAYS is that protecting ourselves from nature is wrong. That “the environment” trumps human beings. That nature must take its course. That natural processes have rights, but human beings don’t. – Not PC

This is not a climate problem or an engineering problem. It’s an attitude problem. It’s an attitude borne of bad philosophy: of the ethics that says that Gaia comes first, and humans a far distant second.

We didn’t always think this way, or we would never have come so far as a species.

However it’s now a notion that’s philosophically entrenched in present generations, and in most government departments (central and local). It’s also legally entrenched in the RMA (which gives rights to the “intrinsic value of ecosystems,” but not to humans wishing to protect themselves from the often dangerous natural processes inflicted upon us by ecosystems). And don’t think David Parker’s various replacement bills for the RMA will improve things either — to read those legislative tributes to Gaia is to understand they will only make things harder all round.

Just imagine if this attitude was predominant around the Nile in the times of the pharoahs; if instead of taming the Nile and its regular floods to produce abundant crops, invent hydraulic engineering and to build a civilisation the Egyptians ran away instead. As a culture they’d now be deservedly lost to history. As would all the cultures and civilisations (i.e., ours) that built upon those first beginnings in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

And that goes for any culture that opts out of the ongoing battle against the dragons of nature — and it goes for us too.Not PC

The PM’s tenure as Minister of Education has given NZ school students a racialised and unbalanced curriculum

Even if Chris Hipkins is no longer the Prime Minister after October’s election, his legacy will be locked in for some time. –  Graham Adams

Hipkins may, in fact, not even have been the principal architect of the stealthy revolution that has occurred on his watch but it will be seen as his legacy nevertheless because formal power over the education portfolio rested with him from 2017 until he became Prime Minister in January.

Over those years, Hipkins and his ministry have given the nation’s schoolchildren a radical (“decolonised”) history curriculum, which teachers throughout the country have begun implementing this term. “Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories” is now compulsory for schools from Years 1-10, with the subject optional in Years 11-13.

It can perhaps be best summed up as a one-eyed ideological exercise in demonising Pakeha as oppressive colonisers and valorising Maori as valiant resisters. – Graham Adams

Hipkins has been responsible for the disastrous centralisation of polytechnics and the first-year, fees-free university programme — which last week Times Higher Education pointed out had disproportionately benefited the wealthy — but the radical reshaping of school curriculums may be more enduring and difficult to unwind than these flawed programmes. – Graham Adams

And the radical policy prescriptions in education don’t stop with the history curriculum. That is just an early part of a “Curriculum Refresh” which will be implemented fully by 2026, with principals encouraged to begin sooner if they can. Graham Adams

Professor Rata draws particular attention to the concept of “mauri” (life force) being included in the NCEA Chemistry & Biology syllabus. “Vitalism, the idea of an innate ‘life force’ present in all things, has surfaced in many cultural knowledge systems, including European, but has been soundly refuted and is not part of modern science.”

Some of the proposals in the draft are so preposterous that it is shocking they found their way into any official document. What are we meant to make, for instance, of the “Purpose Statement for Mathematics and Statistics in the New Zealand Curriculum”, which states: “Being numerate in Aotearoa New Zealand today relies upon understanding diverse cultural perspectives and privileging te ao Maori and Pacific world-views”? – Graham Adams

Since becoming Prime Minister, Hipkins has told us that the government has failed to explain co-governance adequately to the public, and a principal reason why the policy is so contentious is that it has been “misunderstood”.

Perhaps he could begin the new era of glasnost under his leadership by explaining exactly how partnership and co-governance work in the education portfolio he has just relinquished — and specifically in the makeover of the school curriculum.

The curriculum refresh makes it clear that what is taught will be decided in collaboration with local iwi. It recommends that, “Leading kaiako [teachers]… incorporate te reo Maori and matauranga Maori in the co-design of localised curriculum with whanau, hapu, and iwi.”

Co-designing a curriculum with Maori is, of course, an informal example of co-governance. Perhaps Hipkins could explain why “whanau, hapu, and iwi” should be involved — and especially what educational qualifications and experience they might be required to have to undertake such a prominent and important role.Graham Adams

Public criticism of partnership and co-governance imposed through legislation and policy has so far mostly focused on Three Waters. But once parents get a better grasp on what their children are being taught at school, Hipkins can expect another ferocious battle on that front too. – Graham Adams

It won’t be long, however, before boys will be discouraged from their dinosaur stage by fears that such a stage is the manifestation of a colonialist mindset. After all, dinosaurs were first recognized and studied in an imperialist country; therefore, the study of dinosaurs must be imperialist. Theodore Dalrymple

To be surprised that paleontology is a study pursued mainly in rich countries indicates a complete absence of common sense. I mean paleontology no disrespect—I fail to see how anybody with leisure and opportunity could fail to be at least mildly interested in it—but paleontology, fascinating as it is, would hardly be the first priority for poor countries, even among the natural sciences.

Paleontology is an expensive and, in some sense, a luxurious pursuit. It’s natural that it should be pursued predominantly by rich countries. Paleontologists have, I imagine, no particular thirst for martyrdom, and therefore it isn’t surprising that they tend to shun countries difficult and dangerous to access, when there are plenty of other countries to explore. – Theodore Dalrymple

As science develops it grows more expensive to pursue. But the economic order of the world changes, and countries formerly poor can and do become rich. They will then be enabled to pursue paleontology—if they so wish. They will need to develop a tradition, but it can be done quickly with the right frame of mind.

Thus there can be no need to “decolonialize” or “diversify” paleontology, and the easiest, indeed only, way to ensure that its practitioners are representative of the population of the world as a whole is to abandon it altogether.

It seems that some kind of prion, the minute particle that caused the fatal brain disease known as kuru among the Fore people of New Guinea, has entered the minds of the intelligentsia in the West. In the meantime, boys should enjoy their dinosaur stage while they’re still allowed to do so. Theodore Dalrymple

IT IS ONLY SLOWLY DAWNING on climate change activists that the fight against global warming is lost. Locally, Cyclone Gabrielle has rendered their cause hopeless. By insisting that Gabrielle is slam-dunk proof that climate change is real, and demanding immediate action to mitigate its impact, the activists have, politically-speaking, over-sold their case. The idea of mitigating a weather event as destructive as Gabrielle will strike most people as nuts. If this is what global warming looks like, then most New Zealanders will want their government to help them adapt to it as soon as humanly possible. Increasingly, politicians and activists who bang-on about reducing emissions and modifying human behaviour will be laughed-off the political stage. It will be the parties that offer the most practical and responsibly-funded adaptation policies that win the elections of the future – including the one scheduled for October 14 2023
In retrospect the mitigators’ cause was always hopeless. So long as the effects of global warming were not going to be felt for many years, climate activists would never be able to force the changes necessary to prevent them. Tomorrow, as everybody knows, never comes – especially not in politics. Once heatwaves, wildfires, storms, floods and rising sea-levels start ruining people’s lives, however, their reactions will be different. “Okay, we believe you about climate change,” they will say. “So, now you have to show us how to adapt to this new normal?”- Chris Trotter

 Collectively, the human species is burning more coal, more oil, and more natural gas than ever before. So, how likely is it that New Zealand pulling on a metaphorical hair-shirt and crying “Follow our mitigation example!” is going to stop them? Chris Trotter

But, just how receptive are the poorest peoples on Earth likely to be to a message delivered to them by their former colonial masters which boils down to: “Please don’t try to become as rich as we are – the planet can’t take it.” Are they likely to say: “Yes, Master, we are happy to remain poor – for the planet’s sake.” Or, will they not-so-politely suggest that if the peoples of the West really are so determined to save the planet, then how about they agree to spread their extraordinary wealth evenly across it? Will either side agree to mitigate climate change by making such huge sacrifices? Or, will both sides move as swiftly as  – Chris Trotter

Inevitably, as the world warms, nation states will become even more selfish. When cyclones as devastating as Gabrielle lay waste to forests, farms and orchards, and make plain the worst errors of urban planners, every available dollar is going to be spent on recovery and adaptation. Pleas for financial assistance from developing nations confronting similar challenges are likely to fall on deaf ears. Charity, the voters will insist, begins at home – and their political representatives will not dare to disagree.

It has not helped the mitigators’ cause that so many of them seem to be located on the left of the political spectrum, or that those not identifying as left are fervent advocates of indigenous rights. These climate activists characterise “Carbon, Capitalism and Colonisation” as the three evil giants that must be slain before climate change can be effectively mitigated. They are less forthcoming, however, when asked how this slaughter might be accomplished. This is understandable, given that the chances of destroying Carbon, Capitalism and Colonisation peacefully and democratically are rather slim.

Not that these difficulties are likely to bother the true revolutionaries, since for them global warming has always been the most wonderful excuse for imposing the sort of regime that nobody who believes in individual rights, private property, and the Rule of Law would ever willingly submit to. In the grim summation of George Orwell: “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.” For far too many climate activists, mitigation has always been a Trojan Horse.Chris Trotter

Eric Crampton and I appeared before the Committee last week to speak to the New Zealand Initiative’s submission on the Natural and Build Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill.

The Initiative submitted that the government should withdraw both Bills. While the existing Resource Management Act is demonstrably bad both for the environment and development, in our view the government’s proposals will likely make matters worse. – Bryce Edwards

The first step in assessing the merits of any proposal is to determine whether it identifies the causes of the unsatisfactory effects. The second step is to develop options aimed directly at those causes. The third step is to assess which of those options best enhances the wellbeing of those affected.

The official analysis fails at each step. First it does not consider deep causes. Instead, it simply assumes that the remedy is to double up on prescriptive central government direction. Second, it fails to identify any options other than the government’s proposal. This means it cannot take the third step.

To claim net benefits relative to a failed RMA is not a test of how to best address the situation.

One cannot justify shooting oneself in one foot on a regular basis by asserting that it is better than shooting both feet on a regular basis. The option of not shooting either foot has to be considered.

The Ministry need to show instead that the preferred proposal beats the best alternative option.Bryce Edwards

The Bills’ ‘solution’ to the above problems is more central government direction, gutting local government autonomy in the process. Conflicts of interest will abound in the decision-making bodies. Delays due to hold-out by partisan interests seem inevitable.

The Bills are basically a list of conflicting aspirations. They propose no methods for assessing how much weight to put on which aspiration. That makes purposeful decision-making impossible. A decision one way today could as easily be reversed by different personnel tomorrow.

People who own land will not be able to make long-term decisions about its use with any confidence. The rule of law is undermined when no property owner really knows what the law means, today or tomorrow.

At the Bills’ heart is the fiction that environmental bottom lines exist that can be achieved regardless of the cost to New Zealanders’ wellbeing. In reality, there are only trade-offs. Resources are scarce. More of one thing means less of something else. – Bryce Edwards

Thirty years later agreed bottom lines have yet to be revealed. They will not be revealed in the next 30 years because they do not exist. There are only contentious trade-offs.

The proposed pursuit of agreed bottom lines independently of costs is a perpetual motion machine for dispute and discontent. A cost is a negative benefit. People care about benefits.

These Bill essentially deny private property rights in land use. Your land use rights are blowing in the political wind. The Minister’s claims of net benefits have no merit.Bryce Edwards

Dahl grew up in the repressed world of the British upper class in the 20th century, where his mother was happy to pack him off to boarding school and his country was happy to pack him off to war. His own feelings were unimportant. As a writer, he responded by focusing on the horrible and the uncanny, on revenge and revolution. You can see the BFG—bullied by the other, bigger giants in the book of the same name—as an analogue for the young Dahl at Repton School, small and picked on by the older boys. Miss Trunchbull, meanwhile, is a grotesque version of every teacher who gave Dahl the cane. She deserves everything she gets. – Helen Lewis

Many writers I know have reacted strongly to the news of the rewrites, probably because we know how powerful editors can be. Almost everyone who covers difficult, sensitive subjects can tell you about a time they received a “hostile edit” in which the process of publication felt like running uphill through sand. In such cases, the editors introduce so many caveats and concessions to other people’s perspectives that the work ceases to feel like yours. Those kinds of editors—whose highest goal is a piece that won’t cause any trouble—presumably approach a dead author’s work with an appropriately Dahl-esque glee. Finally, a writer who can’t fight back!

Also, let’s not be cute about it: Sensitivity readers, including those at the company that edited the Dahl books, are a newly created class of censors, a priesthood of offense diviners.Helen Lewis

Given the zeal with which the American right is currently targeting books such as The Handmaid’s Tale, the cultural left should be extremely cautious about championing the censorship of literature, particularly when that censorship is driven by business prerogatives rather than idealism. The Dahl controversy will inevitably be presented as a debate about culture—a principled stand in favor of free speech versus a righteous attempt to combat prejudice and bigotry. But it’s really about money. I’ve written before about how some of the most inflammatory debates, over “cancel culture” and “wokeness,” are best seen as capital defending itself. The Dahl rewrites were surely designed to preserve the value of the “IP” as much as advance the cause of social justice.  – Helen Lewis

But Dahl staggers on, embarrassing the cultural gatekeepers by remaining popular despite being so thoroughly out of tune with the times. The work does so because of the dirty secret that children, and adults, like nastiness. They enjoy fat aunts and pranked teachers and the thrilling but illegal doping of pheasants. Today’s corporations want to have it all, though. They want the selling power of an author like Roald Dahl, shorn of the discomforting qualities that made him a best seller. They want things to be simple—a quality that we might call childlike, if Dahl hadn’t shown us that children can be so much more. – Helen Lewis

Adding in something quite alien when no one was expecting it risks upsetting things, especially those important conventions protecting our electoral infrastructure.

“It also risked transforming and concretising our ecosystem from a flexible and responsive political constitution to a more rigid hierarchical legal constitution and eroding our cherished principle of parliamentary sovereignty. – Dr Dean Knight

I’m open to change and evolution of constitutional arrangements, but if we are going to be taking steps towards the Geoffrey Palmer-Andrew Butler-style of constitution where we lock everything down that will have ramifications for the everyday politics and the constitutional ecosystem. – Dr Dean Knight

If particular political parties or activists want to expand the range of rights that are protected, they can make the case for that, try and find support for that, try and get a majority – have a discussion framing it as a constitutional issue and something that needs broad-spectrum buy-in.

I think generally entrenchment should be used sparingly … but I don’t have a monopoly on what is decided as constitutional and what’s not, with all due respect, members of the committee don’t have a monopoly on that, it’s really for us to discuss and decide as a nation – Nicola Willis 

Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr’s boost of the official cash rate on Wednesday was a thudding reminder to the Finance Minister and the rest of us of that other cloud looming over us: the cost of living crisis, which got shunted into the background for a bit as Cyclone Gabrielle entered the scene.Claire Trevett

The easiest remedy for the cyclone crisis is to throw money at it in vast quantities – for the infrastructure, the clean-up and support for the people and businesses hit by it.

The remedy for the cost of living crisis (or at least one of them) is to try to cut spending to help dampen inflation – but Robertson had hoped to spend some of those savings on helping ease the pain for households struggling with their bills.

Then there are the mortgages. As Orr put it, if the Government cuts its spending and raises taxes, Orr might not have to raise interest rates so much.

So Robertson faces a choice of political poisons: people can either pay more in tax or pay even more in mortgages than they already are. – Claire Trevett

Add in the political palatability test to the various remedies and sub-remedies and things get even more complicated for Robertson.

Does he bring in a flood tax to help cover the cost of cyclone damage – and therefore take money out of people’s pockets during the cost of living crisis? Does he resort to doing it all on tick, making the books look worse? Does he rein back what he had hoped to do on the cost of living front?

All of this has added a pickle into PM Chris Hipkins’ “bread and butter” sandwich.

That bread and butter offering is looking increasingly like the home-brand white bread with a smear of margarine.

And that meagre fare may well prove to be the most politically palatable thing to do. There will be little appetite or expectation of election lollies now. Claire Trevett

The flooding disasters are vast in area – from urban Auckland to rural East Coast and Hawke’s Bay.

It has had ramifications on people’s way of living and of making a living. It will hurt the economy and impact the export industry. As quick a rebuild as possible is needed.

And a tax targeted at top earners would possibly leave room to do more on the cost of living front for those on lower incomes.

That won’t stop National from pointing to any such levy as a breach of Robertson’s 2020 campaign promise not to introduce any new taxes this term beyond the new top tax rate of 39 per cent. – Claire Trevett

In the end, what matters is not necessarily whether or not you’ve broken a promise, but whether the voters think it was justified. Sometimes a u-turn on a problematic promise is actually rewarded.

In light of the increasing tendency for the unpredictable to happen, perhaps the lesson there is not to make such promises in the first place rather than whether to stick to them.

That, however, is easier said than done in the heat of an election campaign. – Claire Trevett

But what we have observed over the past fortnight simply puts New Zealand in the Third World category. It is questionable whether the damage from Cyclone Gabrielle — which was again exacerbated by the heavy downpours which took place overnight — wipes out any economic utility the industry has to New Zealand in that part of the country. That’s because the multi-billion-dollar damage suffered by the dairy and horticulture sectors due to the “runoff” of slash exacerbated the scale and impact of the flooding. – Fran O’Sullivan

Royal Commissions of Inquiry are reserved for the most serious matters of public importance. They are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Executive Council. The 2011 inquiry looked into building failure caused by the Canterbury quake.

The part the foreign companies, their managers and contractors and the local councils have played in contributing to this disaster are best explored there — along with hearing from those affected.Fran O’Sullivan

We are still in the response phase, but thoughts must turn quickly to what comes next. While lifelines are being sticky-taped back together for now, they must be made much more robust, and quickly. Whatever else happens in the next fortnight, winter is not far away.

Events like this remind us that, at least outside Auckland, we are a country of geographically isolated towns and villages linked together by ribbons of tarseal that are crucially important but too often taken for granted. – Steven Joyce

This rebuild is another huge job. But it has been done before and it will be done again. We need to lean into our resourcefulness, our practicality and our common sense, to get it happening fast.

That means using structures that harness everyone’s skills. The public sector, the private sector and all our communities. There is no place here for the Covid-era mistake that the Government must run everything. There is precious little chance that bureaucrats in Wellington understand how to rebuild, dare I say it, the Three Waters infrastructure of Napier or Waipawa.

There are five key elements for a successful infrastructure build: the funding envelope; a delivery mechanism for spending it quickly and wisely; the people to do the work; the ability to move quickly without excessive red tape; and a method of paying for it all. Steven Joyce

The Government should take a flexible approach to dealing with each of the key lifeline utilities, recognising where the expertise lies. There is no time to needlessly set up new entities.

Transpower, the electricity lines companies and the telcos are experts in their fields. Their problem will be doing things that improve resilience but which customers don’t want to pay for. In the case of the electricity companies, they are prevented from doing so because the regulator won’t let them recover the cost.

These are sensible models in normal times but they won’t work here. The Government should borrow a leaf from the ultrafast broadband playbook and part-fund the needed investments to get them over the line.

The Three Waters rollout in Auckland, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay should be immediately halted and those working on it redirected to fixing what’s there.

This reorganisation was a luxury in normal times and is a massive distraction now. We need the shortest path to success. – Steven Joyce

The highways are the job of NZTA, but there is a real question mark over whether it can re-focus quickly to do the work.

Urgent flood protection works must be accelerated. This has been on the government to-do list for years, and is the least developed in terms of thinking and delivery. The logical partners are regional councils, but significant funding will need to come from government.

If it was me, I’d re-purpose the broadband rollout company, Crown Infrastructure Partners, as the primary public funder. They are used to partnering with people, understand contracting, and have a good track record of getting things done. They may need some new personnel to come up to speed quickly, but they are the agency most ready to go.

Just spending the money is not enough. One agency needs to have the power to cut through the regulatory thicket of the RMA and all the other restrictive legislation and get things done. Steven Joyce

We don’t have time for long regulatory processes to agree on plans to protect the Esk Valley or Wairoa from more flooding, or to replace the slumped parts of copious highways. We need to get started and design as we go, as with the rebuild of State Highway One around Kaikōura. This will be a real test of a Government whose instincts on planning reform are more likely to slow things down.

Finding enough people to do the work will be challenging. Many decamped for Australia as roading work wound down. Contractors must see a clear pipeline of work over several years in front of them, so they have the confidence to scale up. The Government’s visa announcement made sense, but nothing will happen without that confidence.

As for how the recovery is paid for, that is a political choice. – Steven Joyce

Ministers seem to be limbering up to “not waste a good crisis” and use the floods to institute some good old left wing envy taxes, which sock it to the productive sector.

I suspect there will be little public patience for such politicking when the country’s economy will need to be running on all cylinders to pay for this investment.

Borrowing too much would also be inflationary, but it beggars belief that after spending increases in the tens of billions over the past few years, the Government couldn’t cut its cloth better to help pay for what’s needed. They could start by junking the preposterously expensive Auckland light rail.

There is much to do and no time to waste. Regional New Zealand will be watching closely. It hasn’t fared well under the current Government. The speed of the recovery in Northland, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay will be seen as a measure of how much politicians care.Steven Joyce

Time and again, in his writing for adults as well as children, Dahl championed the bullied against the bullies.

“Yet here we have a kind of cultural assertiveness that strong-arms readers into accepting without alternative – though, happily, not without demur – a new orthodoxy in which Dahl himself has played no part.

“This particular revisionism sits oddly with Dahl’s irrepressibly anarchic outlook, his distinctive combination of mischief and wonder, and, of course, ignores the fact that words, central to a writer’s armoury, are a matter of choice in order to manipulate meaning and conjure effect. – Matthew Dennison

It feels Orwellian that we are having the updated versions forced upon us and has made me weary of ebooks. Clarissa Aykroyd

Delivering local water well


Which is better: a top-down policy that takes locally owned assets and control and adds several expensive and unaccountable layers of bureaucracy or a policy that leaves ownership and control with locals?

The centralised model is the government’s formerly Three Waters, now five.

The alternative is National’s plan to replace the government’s Three Five Waters policy and deliver local water well:

A National Government will scrap Labour’s undemocratic and unworkable Three Waters model and replace it with a sustainable system that ensures drinking water, stormwater and wastewater remain in local control, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“The sub-standard status quo where pipes are too often allowed to fail, creating pollution, wastage and massive bills for ratepayers, will not be allowed to continue under a National Government,” Mr Luxon says.

“But the answer is not Labour’s unpopular Three Waters scheme that the Government has pushed through Parliament. It will take assets off local communities, transferring them to  four mega-entities that no-one asked for, no-one wants and that have mandatory co-governance.

“Instead, a National Government will set and enforce strict water quality standards and require councils to invest in the ongoing maintenance and replacement of their vital water infrastructure, while keeping control of the assets that their ratepayers have paid for.

National will: 

  • Repeal Three Waters and scrap the four co-governed mega-entities
  • Restore council ownership and control
  • Set strict rules for water quality and investment in infrastructure
  • Ensure water services are financially sustainable

“Under National, councils will be required to demonstrate a clear plan to deliver ongoing investment in water infrastructure. Those plans will need to be approved by the Minister of Local Government.

“While water quality regulator Taumata Arowai will set strict standards for water quality, National will establish a Water Infrastructure Regulator within the Commerce Commission to set and enforce standards for long-term water infrastructure investment.

“Councils will be required to ringfence money for water infrastructure and not spend it on other services instead.

This is in effect auditing local bodies for their water infrastructure in much the same was as their finances are audited.

The reason that some council’s water infrastructure is well below standard is because it’s been too easy for them to spend on nice-to-haves rather than the basics.

“National’s plan supports greater access for councils to long-term borrowing, which is an appropriate way to fund long-life water infrastructure. One way to improve access to borrowing would be for neighbouring councils to form Regional Council Controlled Organisations. Ultimately, it is up to the councils but we would envisage it is likely a number of regional groups will emerge to deliver better water services.

“Financial sustainability will enable the long-term investment in infrastructure that will deliver the quality drinking water, cleaner rivers and swimmable beaches that New Zealanders want and expect.

“Resilient, well-maintained, future-proofed modern infrastructure will also mean communities can better cope with mounting pressures due to climate change and accommodate housing growth that is currently being stymied by a lack of infrastructure like wastewater and stormwater services.

“Under National, water stays in local hands and investment in water infrastructure is secured so that New Zealanders can be sure their water is safe and affordable.”

This policy is what most councils have wanted and will retains local ownership, control and accountability.

It sets standards, ensures they are adhered to and that water services are financially sustainable.

It will be far less expensive than Labour’s multi-layered and overly bureaucratic policy.

The party’s policy document is here

It has the approval of the Taxpayers’ Union:

National’s ‘Local Water Done Well’ alternative to Three Waters is bang on what the Taxpayers’ Union and local councils have been calling for. It meets the Taxpayers’ Union’s red lines of respecting property rights, retaining community control, ensuring local accountability, giving councils the ability to opt into shared models of their choosing, and the efficient delivery of water services.

“This policy is almost identical to the model developed by Communities 4 Local Democracy, which the Taxpayers’ Union has been promoting,” said Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams.

“This is a serious challenge to Chris Hipkins who has said he wants to ‘refocus’ Three Waters. Here is the solution.”

“Three Waters will mean higher waters costs, more bureaucracy, no local control, and less democracy. Poll after poll has shown that the reforms face overwhelming opposition from Kiwis.”

“But everyone accepts that doing nothing is not an option. Now the Government can not claim ‘there is no alternative’.”

“This alternative to Three Waters is now a consensus among the Taxpayers’ Union, 31 provincial councils, the Mayors of our two largest cities, and the opposition National Party. There is just one more person to convince: Mr Hipkins.” 

Labour’s centralisation hasn’t worked for polytechs. Its expensive reorganisation of the health system has done nothing for patients or the workforce.

Its Five Waters plan is expensive, overly bureaucratic and undemocratic.

And Councils say it would erode flood response:

Local authorities claim the government’s water reforms will rob them of civil defence capacity

A West Coast council that has previously supported the government’s Three Waters reforms is now raising the alarm over changes it says will undermine civil defence – and its finances.

Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine says under the new Water Services Entities Act his council is set to lose the services of more than 20 staff who play vital roles in flood emergencies.

The staff are employed by WestReef Services, a trading subsidiary of the council-controlled organisation (CCO) Buller Holdings, and make up about 20 percent of its workforce.

The act – passed in December – requires the transfer of CCO staff and assets to the regional water entities just as it does of councils that directly manage their water services. . . 

Westland Mayor Helen Lash says her council’s CCO, Westroads, manages all the council’s infrastructure and has staff stationed up and down the coast.

“When there’s an emergency they handle everything. They share machinery, they keep the roads open. They’re not just about water.

“This is the thing the government hasn’t thought about. You take those guys out and we’re all in trouble.”

Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson says under council management, protection work before a potential flood starts well before the event.

“We don’t have a CCO so our guys in the office are the ones who know to call out the crews to raise the flood gates, check pumping systems and so on.”

The workers’ new employer, the South Island water entity, is likely to be based in Christchurch, which could complicate communication and potentially the timeliness of and emergency response on the West Coast, Gibson says.

Cleine agrees.

“In our case, when there’s a forecast event like the recent Westport floods, WestReef calls on all its staff, not just the water guys, to monitor river levels, clear stormwater drains, fill sand bags, build emergency bunds – it’s all hands on deck.

“If the water staff are isolated in a separate business it‘ll be harder to integrate our response.” . . 

The new PM has said it will be reviewed but that is not good enough.

National’s plan is far better and gives voters a real choice at the election – a party that respects local control, local ownership, and democracy and Labour that doesn’t.

Word of the day


Corona– a part of the body resembling or likened to a crown; the upper portion of a bodily part (such as a tooth or the skull); the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun and other stars; a usually coloured circle often seen around and close to a luminous body (such as the sun or moon) caused by diffraction produced by suspended droplets or occasionally particles of dust; a circle of light made by the apparent convergence of the streamers of the aurora borealis; an appendage or series of united appendages on the inner side of the corolla in some flowers (such as the daffodil, jonquil, or milkweed); a faint glow adjacent to the surface of an electrical conductor at high voltage.

Milne muses


Was it all a marketing exercise?


News that Roald Dahl’s books were being butchered by sensitivity readers resulted in widespread condemnation.

The butchering didn’t just apply to new publications, they automatically applied to people who had bought eBooks.


But now the publisher has backtracked, at least on the paper copies.

The news of the butchering resulted in increased sales of the original versions which begs the question: was this just a marketing exercise?

Another question to which we won’t know the answer for some time: now that both editions are to be sold, will the original or butchered versions sell better?



Meditation in Sunlight


by May Sarton

In space in time I sit
Thousands of feet above
The sea and meditate
On solitude on love

Near all is brown and poor
Houses are made of earth
Sun opens every door
The city is a hearth

Far all is blue and strange
The sky looks down on snow
And meets the mountain-range
Where time is light not shadow

Time in the heart held still
Space as the household god
And joy instead of will
Knows love as solitude

Knows solitude as love
Knows time as light not shadow
Thousands of feet above
The sea where I am now

Hat tip: The Marginalian

Maya muses


Beautifying the blogosphere


Sunday soapbox


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


Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides, and in this respect it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become. – C.S. Lewis

Word of the day


Phronesis – a type of intelligence or wisdom relevant to practical action, implying both good judgement and excellence of character and habits; wisdom in determining ends and the means of attaining them; pracitcal wisdom.

Sowell says


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