Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Kiri Elworthy


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

Today we are speaking to Kiri Elworthy, who is based in Martinborough with her husband James. Kiri and her husband own and run Tora Coastal Walk, a three-day, fully catered walk and two 650ha farms, which are where the Coastal Walk is based. Kiri started her journey in Riversdale, eventually heading to Lincoln University. However, at the end of her first year, she got pregnant with her daughter Margot. Kiri discusses her journey so candidly and honestly, discussing her experiences flatting and studying whilst being a single mother, taking over a family business and the conservation efforts herself and James implement on their farm.

Word of the day


Anacephalaeosis – a recapitulation or summary of the major points, or the significant part of the discourse; a figure of speech in which all the main facts or points of a speech are restated or summarised.

Word of the day


Boffola – a joke or a line in a script intended to get a laugh; an uproariously funny joke; a hearty laugh.

Word of the day


Plication  – the act, manner or process of folding; the condition of being folded; a fold or corrugation; a folded part or structure; surgical procedure in which a body part is strengthened or shortened by pulling together folds of excess material, and suturing them into place.

Talent pool too shallow


When you  want to go, you should go:

. . . Faafoi has lived and breathed politics, first as a press gallery reporter and then as an MP, and because of that he has good political and news judgment.

That judgement served him well when he went to the Prime Minister ahead of the 2020 election and said his heart wasn’t in it any longer.

But safe pairs of hands were few and far between in Labour’s caucus at the time so Ardern asked him to stay.

His usually sound judgment escaped him when he said yes to Ardern, and took on significant reform in the justice sector, a reset of the country’s immigration policy and the merger of state-owned RNZ and TVNZ.

“I don’t think you should take on a Cabinet position if you’re going to be half-pie about it,’’ Faafoi told Newsroom on Monday following the announcement. 

Unfortunately for the country, and especially the people badly let down by bad immigration policy and poor performance in the ministry, he has been going half-pie about his Ministerial duties.

In 2020 Faafoi was widely referred to as a “rising star’’ and tipped to go on to do great things.

But an unreasonable workload coupled with a job he only agreed to at the request of a respected friend and leader, has led to criticisms of him not being across his portfolios, a refusal to front questions on some of the big issues, and a tendency to kick the can down the road.

Faafoi gave his all to Labour and the party has done a disservice by making him stay longer than he wanted to. . .

He wanted to go before the last election but was persuaded to stay on because the Labour talent pool was too shallow.

He’s not the only one who’s stayed too long.

On the flip side, Trevor Mallard’s decision to leave Parliament after 35 years is the right one and won’t have been met with any protest from his party’s leadership.

Mallard has dedicated more than three decades to public service and for that he should be acknowledged.

But in the past couple of years Mallard has clearly lost his passion for politics and at times almost seemed to resent being at Parliament as his temperament got the better of him on multiple occasions.

Apropos of which, how can one of the least diplomatic people in parliament be considered for a diplomatic posting?

Surely the talent pool of potential diplomats is a lot deeper than that of the Labour caucus.


Word of the day


Service – work done or help provided, especially for the public or for a person or an organisation; the action of helping or doing work for someone; work done by one person or group that benefits another;  an organisation, company, or system that provides something to the public; work done by an organisation or person that does not involve producing goods; an act of help or assistance; a system supplying a public need such as transport, communications, or utilities such as electricity and water; a system officially provided for public’s needs; to supply with aid, information, or other incidental  services; perform routine maintenance or repair work on (a vehicle or machine); to mate a male animal with a female animal.

Word of the day


Misken –  to have incorrect ideas about : misunderstand; to have a false estimation of oneself;  misknow; to fail to recognise;  to refuse to recognise something by pretending it’s not happening; to pretend not to know; ; to be unaware or ignorant of; ignore.

Vangelis 29.3.43 – 17.5.22


The world has lost another composer:

Greek composer Vangelis, who was known for his celebrated film themes for Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner, has died at the age of 79.

He won an Oscar for the stirring score to 1981’s Chariots of Fire. . . 

Vangelis’s other film credits included The Bounty, Francesco, Bitter Moon, 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Alexander.

The Greek composer once said: “My interest was not to create a symphony orchestra, which I can very easily, but to go further than that and do things that the symphony orchestra can’t do. . . 

Word of the day


Queclarative – an utterance that has the form of a question but the force of a statement; a declarative statement or opinion expressed as a question.



by Walt Whitman

Who includes diversity and is Nature,
Who is the amplitude of the earth, and the coarseness and sexuality of the earth, and the great charity of the earth and the equilibrium also,
Who has not look’d forth from the windows the eyes for nothing, or whose brain held audience with messengers for nothing,
Who contains believers and disbelievers, who is the most majestic lover,
Who holds duly his or her triune proportion of realism, spiritualism, and of the aesthetic or intellectual,
Who having consider’d the body finds all its organs and parts good,
Who, out of the theory of the earth and of his or her body understands by subtle analogies all other theories,
The theory of a city, a poem, and of the large politics of these States;
Who believes not only in our globe with its sun and moon, but in other globes with their suns and moons,
Who, constructing the house of himself or herself, not for a day but for all time, sees races, eras, dates, generations,
The past, the future, dwelling there, like space, inseparable together.

Hat tip: The Marginalian

Winston Churchill’s wisdon


Olive and Mabel Alternative Olympics


Sowell says


Sowell says


Posting this because NZME won’t


A newsletter from the Free Speech Union says:

Longstanding BusinessDesk columnist and financial journalist, Jenny Ruth, has covered controversy and crisis for decades, but these are not easy days for opinion-piece writers voicing ‘questionable’ views. 

When reporting on the Free Speech Union’s work pressuring NZME (which owns BusinessDesk) to publicly discuss their policy towards advertising and editorial independence at the upcoming AGM, she referred to the Speak Up for Women advertisements which were refused. NZME claimed these ads were ‘potentially inflammatory, would compromise NZME’s reputation and draw it into a debate in which it does not take a view’. 

In a thorough review of our advocacy for dedication to free speech from New Zealand’s largest publisher, she concluded with a personal reflection on the work she has previously done for women, including assisting in setting up first feminist refuge in Auckland for battered women. Her final lines give a taste for how she views the decision by NZME not to run the ads: 

‘The fact is, women have been erased from history for about as long as people have existed in many different cultures all over the world. I am an adult human female and I won’t allow the transgender lobby to erase me in the name of inclusion.’

BusinessDesk has now decided that they will not publish this column by Ruth, despite having repeatedly claimed that her ‘columns help drive subscriptions’. Notwithstanding the fact NZME owns BusinessDesk, Ruth claims the decision isn’t about commercial interests, the ‘decision was political’. 

Essentially, this boils down to taking the opinion out of opinion pieces, if the opinions being expressed don’t fit comfortably with the politically correct status quo.

Kiwis self-censor every day out of fear of what is socially acceptable. Yet when influential commentators must start taking into account the way the political wind is blowing on particular issues in order to be printed, free speech isn’t even receiving lip service anymore. By refusing to publish Ruth’s column for political reasons, BusinessDesk editor Patrick Smellie has created a rod for his own back, setting a precedent when any controversial opinion is published, the mob can come at them with pitchforks. 

Publishers must remain committed to featuring a variety of opinions that reflects the diversity of perspectives in our society. We will be contacting BusinessDesk and calling on them to ensure free speech is respected.  . .

What was in the column that led to the decision to censor it? :

Censorship, NZME and transgender issues

NZME refused to run advertisements placed by Speak up For Women because they were “potentially inflammatory, would compromise NZME’s reputation and draw it into a debate in which it does not take a view”.

Publisher and broadcaster NZME could be facing a fiery annual shareholders’ meeting next month because theFree Speech Union (FSU) has managed to put advertising and editorial independence on the agenda.

There’s no resolution to vote on, just an item for discussion, but one aspect that will likely exacerbate sensitivities is that the free speech issue that gave rise to the agenda item involves transgender politics.

Last year, when the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Act was going through the process of becoming law, a group called Speak Up for Women (SUFW) wanted to run an advertisement in publications owned by NZME which consisted of the Oxford University definition of the word woman.

For the record, that definition is: adult human female. 

One of the changes to the Act was to make it easier for people to change the sex on their birth certificates without having to go through the Family Court or show evidence of medical treatment to change their sex.

NZME refused to run the ad, even though the Advertising Standards Authority had rejected complaints about the ad, which had already appeared on a billboard.

Socially responsible

“In the context of advocacy advertising, the advertisement was socially responsible and did not reach the threshold to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence, did not cause fear or distress without justification, and was not misleading,” ASA said.

It had received 34 complaints about the billboard which accused it of being transphobic hate speech which could cause undue harm or offence to the transgender community.

Essentially, the complainants said the ad was “a dog whistle” intended to inspire transphobia.

SUFW had faced a concerted campaign to deny its members the right to speak, which included local councils including Christchurch, Auckland and Palmerston North cancelling meetings arranged at their venues.

SUFW won a high court case allowing it to hold a meeting at the Palmerston North Library and Justice Gerard Nation said SUFW “cannot rationally be described as a hate group”.

SUFW was concerned that the legislation could remove the right of women and girls to single-sex spaces, such as changing rooms, hostels and prisons.

It has also campaigned against the inclusion of transgender women in women’s sport.

SUFW provided me with a copy of a letter NZME sent it.

Potentially inflammatory

As you know, we had previously requested that your advertisements have the definition of ‘woman’ removed, as we considered that these were potentially inflammatory, would compromise NZME’s reputation and draw it into a debate in which it does not take a view from a commercial perspective,” NZME’s letter said.

After saying it wouldn’t run any further SUFW ads, spelling out a clause in its advertising terms and conditions giving it the right to make such decisions, it ended: ” We do not intend to enter into correspondence regarding this decision.”

FSU spokesman Jonathan Ayling said he estimated shareholders accounting for about 10% of NZME shareholders had signed onto a letter to NZME’s board drafted by his organisation decrying NZME’s decision not to run the ad.

Ayling said he had no difficulty getting the discussion item on the meeting’s agenda and that NZME hadn’t asked for proof that his organisation represented a sufficient number of shareholders to force the issue.

“It’s quite demonstrably clear that we have more than 5%. They didn’t suggest we needed to provide proof of that, but I think it’s quite obvious to the board,” Ayling said.

An NZME spokesperson disputed the 10% figure and said about 15% of NZME’s shareholders live in New Zealand.
“We think it’s more like 2% or even less. I don’t know where they’re getting that information from.”

Half retail shareholders

Having the backing of 10% of NZME’s register may not look like much, but it looks like the FSU is representing nearly half the retail shareholders.

Nominee companies, several from Australia, dominate NZME’s register, accounting for 68.8% of its ownership while custodian companies of Forsyth Barr and Jarden own 8.3% and ACC owns another 4.24%, accounting for 77.3% in total.

The FSU letter said that shareholders have an interest in commercial considerations being at the forefront when decisions are made on advertising content.

“Yet we are of the opinion that NZME’s commercial interests are best served when the company is seen to uphold a commitment to free speech and encourages robust debate on the pressing issue of the day,” FSU said.

“It is simply not consistent with the role of the fourth estate to be pulling the teeth out of a controversy and avoiding offence (which is ultimately not possible).”

The letter went on to say that by refusing to run an ad, vetted by the ASA as legal and acceptable, NZME was “impeding free speech and acting as censor, rather than allowing a free and open marketplace of ideas without discrimination”.


To which I can only say, amen. I’m appalled at NZME trying to suppress SUFW’s views.

I’m also acutely aware that NZME owns BusinessDesk.

But my view of its letter to SUFW is that NZME’s position is simply untenable and amounts to censorship. Censorship and my understanding of journalism will always be in diametric opposition.

I do have some sympathy with the transgender accusation that the definition of the word women could be used as a dog whistle.

Nobody listening to the confirmation hearings last week for Ketanji Brown Jackson who has been nominated to join the US Supreme Court could have mistaken the blatant dog whistle senator Marsha Blackburn blew.

Blackburn, a Republican, asked Jackson to define the word woman among a barrage of questions hitting just about all the current culture war issues, including transgender swimmer Lia Thomas being allowed to compete – and win – against other women at a college sports event.

Blackburn’s bad faith was undeniable, but the answer is not to try to suppress the issues she raised.

Mud sticks

Despite SUFW having won so many battles against being labelled transphobic, it’s obvious the label has stuck – even one of my own colleagues told me he thought some of its members probably are transphobic.

If that’s true, then he’d have to label me transphobic too, but nothing could be further from the truth.

If a person wishes to present themselves as the opposite sex to the one they were born with, I don’t think that’s any of my business, other than to accept them for who they are.

Bathroom issues are simply ridiculous; it would be both cruel and dangerous to force a transgender woman to use a male toilet.

Ridiculous? Is it not also cruel and potentially dangerous for a woman who has been abused or has good reason to be fearful of men, to force them to share a toilet with a transgender woman?

Nor should transgender people be subjected to harassment and embarrassment in the name of security at airport checkpoints.

But there is an undeniable issue with women’s sport. There’s a reason we have men’s sports and women’s sports.

While women have advantages men don’t share, bar the inevitable outlier, they simply aren’t as strong as men.

If we keep going down the path of allowing women who grew up as men to compete in women’s sports, that will simply spell the end of women’s sports.

Anyone who has gone through puberty as a male will be stronger than someone who has not.

I won’t be erased

I was among the group of women who established the first feminist refuge in Auckland for battered women which gave rise to today’s Women’s Refuge network.

If a battered transgender woman had turned up on our doorstop, would we have turned her away? I don’t think so, but there could well have been issues to deal with concerning other women we were sheltering at the time and their feelings of safety.

Avoiding dealing with such issues because they make us feel uncomfortable won’t make them go away.

I bristle at being told I can’t say things like “pregnant women” or “women with cervical cancer” anymore and that I should say pregnant “people” or “people” with cervical cancer so as to be inclusive of a vanishingly small minority of transgender men who might become pregnant or develop cervical cancer.

That reminds me of being told when I was much younger that the word “man” included women when it patently does not. 

The fact is, women have been erased from history for about as long as people have existed in many different cultures all over the world.

I am an adult human female and I won’t allow the transgender lobby erase me in the name of inclusion.

Some might debate some of the points made in the column, but I can’t see anything that justifies censoring it.

Newspapers are free to publish columns or not, as they see fit but if they want to be taken seriously they have to be very careful about censoring views for no better reason than they’re controversial.

And they ought to recognise that accepting trans women’s right to be that way and standing up for women are not mutually exclusive.


Milne muses


Word of the day


Etterath – the feeling of emptiness after a long and arduous process is finally complete—having finished school, recovered from surgery, or gone home at the end of your wedding—which leaves you relieved that it’s over but missing the stress that organized your life into a mission.

Hat tip: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Another mayor rejects Three Waters proposal


Kaipara Mayor Dr Jake Smith has joined most others across the country in rejecting the government’s proposals for Three Waters :

Kia ora,
It was an honour to represent all the people of Northland on this Three Waters Working Group. Gaining new insights into the proposed Three Waters Reforms was helpful to me, as Kaipara District Council had and still has many questions about the proposed reforms. The other two District Councils of the North had opted-out of the reforms last year, Auckland Council is also out. I was seeking greater understanding, in the hope that I would be able to then share that with others. Being on the Working Group I got many new understandings, but regrettably they sit uncomfortably with me. I now join my fellow Mayors of northern New Zealand in not supporting these reforms.
Here are some key reflections about the Three Waters Reforms for me now:

Strengthen democratic institutions

I believed the reforms could be an opportunity for mana enhancement for councils and for iwi, that strengthening our democratic institutions is vital. I’m saddened that I believe the output of the Working Group does not seek to strengthen our democratic institutions or the work those institutions do with and for their people. I will set out my basis for this thinking below.


Accountability is a key matter of the utmost importance in good governance and democracy.
In Kaipara District we know the importance of accountability, as our elected Council in 2012 made itself accountable for a bad situation and resigned en masse, to be replaced by a Commission. Local Democracy ended for a time in this place, restoration of faith and confidence in elected members was badly damaged and it’s slow to come back from that.

With that sensitivity I approach the idea of accountability here with a principled view that public systems must be accountable to everyone when they are for everyone. This Three Waters Review has not demonstrated that will be the case.

Participation and belonging

The “belonging to everyone” part is core to what makes accountability tick. People who are able to actively engage with and participate with an idea or in a process put themselves into the story, creating a personal sense of belonging with that thing. They share the idea, hold others to account for it. People denied the opportunity to participate have less chance of belonging with an idea or process, no matter how worthy it may be.

Te Mana o Te Wai is a worthy idea but with the Working Group recommendations not everyone is able to participate equally. I feel this is both a missed opportunity and a risk. It is a missed opportunity not to have participation and engagement of all people into the same presentations locally of these ideas that clearly affect everyone. Considering the size and scale of problems to be fixed with the Three Waters tasks we need the ideas of everyone to help lift us out of the mud. There’s a risk if people aren’t allowed to participate in the input and creation of all the plans and, instead, plans and directives are imposed on them by others, then they are more likely to reject what’s imposed.

Public engagement and everyone being allowed to participate equally in the creation of plans or ideas is simply good governance. If this is done with transparency and integrity then the ideas belong to all the people. And, later on, those people can hold the leaders to account to follow through with those ideas. In these recommendations, with not everyone / only some people participating in the creation of Te Mana O Te Wai Statements as recommended there can be no accountability in this system, as public accountability is about everyone together not only some people, as a core principle of democracy. The recommendations in the report relating to this are not constructive for our democratic institutions.

Trojan Horse

As a Doctor of Public Policy at the end of the work on this policy with the Working Group, I’m reflecting that the Three Waters Reforms are most likely a Trojan Horse for “ending the tyranny of the majority”. I’d never heard of such an idea before being involved in the Working Group but I’ve heard it frequently now and it makes sense of many things that were unclear before. In August 2020 I was interviewed by TVNZ Sunday programme as the Government’s Three Waters Reforms came into view. I said at the time that I believed the Three Waters Reforms were probably a Trojan Horse for something else that wasn’t in view at the time, that we couldn’t see then. Now, here it is.

Looking at the proposed reform programme in its entirety, including its new recommendations which have potentially increased the geographic scope away from local broken pipes now to every square inch of New Zealand and 12 miles out to sea, these reforms are becoming about something much larger than infrastructure.
Based on the current direction, the Three Waters Reforms bring New Zealand to an extraordinary moment. New Zealand deserves to have a national conversation about what happens next because we have been led to a place between an immovable object and an irresistible force where we can’t stay.

While this has started to become clear, I see it as bad policy and a recklessness of the Government to allow this situation to develop. “Ending the tyranny of the majority” is potentially a revolutionary development for New Zealand society, as the majority is where the safe seat of society is found and to up-end that is a very uncertain path. Ending the tyranny of the majority could well mean stopping democratic institutions from doing their best for all the people and I can’t support that.


I participated in the Working Group in good faith. There is much that’s good in this journey but at the end it’s become clear to me that while there is a need for some kind of water system reform, this one fails to address the fundamental issue of funding investment in our infrastructure and seeks to adjust governance in a way that limits the ability of all people and communities to engage. In light of this I don’t support the direction of the reforms and believe these Three Waters Reforms are the wrong answer to the right question.

At the end of all this journey I’m sad to say these Three Waters Reforms get a “yeah, nah” from me and on behalf of the people I represent I reject these proposed reforms.

Nga mihi

Dr Jason Smith

Mayor of Kaipara District, Chair of Northland Mayoral Forum, Member Council of Communities 4 Local Democracy (C4LD), Member of the Three Waters Working Group on Representation, Governance and Accountability

These are the personal views of the Mayor, the council hasn’t yet considered the working group’s proposals.

Sowell says


Word of the day


Gowl –  to weep in anger more than sadness; to howl; an annoying and/or dishonest person, idiot; substance often found in the corner of the eyes after sleep.

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