365 days of gratitude


There was a time when the Ranfurly Shield stayed stubbornly with one team.

Auckland had held it for ages when they challenged North Otago and for a few glorious minutes the score line was North Otago 5 – Auckland – 0.

The former scored no more points and Auckland added 359 by the time the final whistle blew.

Then Canterbury won the shield and staved off multiple challenges.

But in recent years challengers have managed to win and the shield has had several different homes.

Today, for the second time in recent years, it has come back to Otago.

Last time the team held it for little more than a week.

This time it will stay on the right side of the Waitaki River for at least the summer, and fingers crossed, maybe a bit longer.

However, long it’s in the hands of the blue and gold team, we’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Tonight I’m grateful to be on the winning side.

Does Auckland deserve this?


Colin Craig could run for Auckland mayor:

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has not ruled out running for Auckland mayor next year, despite another week where his personal life has been dragged through the media.

Craig said he had been asked on more than one occasion to run for mayor and said he sees a strong constituency for a conservative, particularly a fiscally conservative, candidate to run in Auckland. . . .

The rest of New Zealand likes to not like Auckland, but does the city deserve Len Brown and then Craig?

Dear Auckland


Dear Auckland,

Happy anniversary.

If you’re looking for something to do on your this one-day holiday perhaps you could put your mind to finding a candidate for the mayoralty who would lead the city as it needs to be led.

Like it or not, and many of those of in the rest of the country who are still the majority don’t, what happens in and to Auckland matters to us all.

If you’re poorly led with inefficient transport, too few houses to meet demand and generally performing well below your potential then you’re dragging down the rest of us too.

You’re our most populous city. How hard can it be to find just one candidate among those hundreds of thousands or people who can be a really good mayor?

And it would be helpful if you came up with just one really good candidate so the vote doesn’t get split and allow another less than optimal candidate to come through.

I don’t see the need for party politics in local body affairs and would prefer a mayor unencumbered by party allegiances, but where the candidate comes from isn’t as important as where s/he will go and take the city.

There’s less than two years until the next local body elections.

You need to find someone soon so s/he can start working to get the support needed to win and win with a team of able people to work with her/him for the good of the city and the country.

Enjoy your day off, but please, use it to start finding someone who you, and New Zealand, can be proud to call your mayor.

Yours really sincerely,

The rest of NZ.

Development welcomed and not


In Dunedin: Hotel project terminated.

Plans for a $100 million waterfront hotel in Dunedin have been scrapped and the developers’ partnership with the Dunedin City Council has descended into acrimony.

Hotel developer Jing Song yesterday confirmed she had torn up a memorandum of understanding with the council, signed just last month, which had aimed to find ways to progress the project. . . .

In Auckland: New luxury hotel to boost Auckland economy:

A new five-star hotel development on Auckland’s waterfront will strengthen the region’s visitor economy says Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

Waterfront Auckland and Beijing based developer Fu Wah International Group have formed a partnership to build a 200 room hotel on the western edge of the Viaduct Harbour by 2017.

ATEED Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says the new hotel will be excellent for Auckland and help contribute to growing the visitor economy, in line with the targets in the Auckland Visitor Plan.
“The hotel – in its amazing location on the water’s edge in the heart of Auckland’s innovation precinct – will enhance our premium accommodation offering. As part of our strategy to attract more high-net wealth individuals to holiday and do business here, we’ve been working with the Fu Wah Group to help them identify the advantages of doing business in Auckland,” he says.
“We are focussed on positioning Auckland as a premium destination and having a globally recognised luxury hotel will add to the tourism offering.” . . .

This looks like two cities with two difference approaches to development.

One welcomes it the other does not.

Whether or not that is fair, is moot, but that’s the perception and anyone contemplating investment will be aware of it.

Auckland exodus sensible move for retirees


Retirees in Auckland are doing their sums and finding they add up to a better answer outside the city.

A tidal wave of cashed-up retired Aucklanders will help drive up property prices in Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, a leading city real estate agent has predicted. . .

John O’Donnell, who owns LJ Hooker’s branch in the Mount and Papamoa, . . . said half of the people coming through their doors were baby boomers aged over 60. They were people taking their life’s savings out of Auckland and building or buying in the Mount and Papamoa.

“It is the start of a tidal wave of people coming out of Auckland.” . . .

Selling up and settling elsewhere is a sensible move for retirees if they don’t have strong family or other ties to Auckland.

It could put pressure on other hot-spots but there are plenty of other places for retirees to settle.

An Oamaru real estate agent told me she’s seeing some Aucklanders down this far.

They are able to sell a modest home up there, pay off any mortgage, buy a much better property down here and have a good sum of money left over for a comfortable retirement.

The exodus will take some of the heat out of the Auckland housing market which will be good not just for people trying to buy houses there but for the rest of the economy.

Longest day, shortest night


Today is the southern hemisphere’s summer solstice giving us our longest day and shortest night.

Sunrise in Invercargill was at 5:50am  and it will set 15h 49m 06s later at 9:40pm.

The sun rose in Auckland at 5:59am and will set 14h 41m 33s later at 8:40pm.

Aren’t we blessed in the south – a whole hour more of light than the benighted north.

This can’t be your best


Dear Auckland,

You’re our biggest city.

You’ve got more than a million people to choose from and you got a mayor like this?

This can’t be your best.

He’s determined to stay which means you’ve got a couple of years in which to come up with someone better.

That shouldn’t be hard.

But you owe it to yourselves, and the rest of the country, to make sure it’s not just someone who’s better than what you’ve got, but someone who’s a good mayor and a good person.

Apathy front-runner in council elections


Only 15.5 percent of eligible voters in Wellington have voted in the local body elections halfway through the election voting period.

The return rate is even worse in Auckland with only 12.6% of eligible people having voted so far.
Local body elections rarely get the same participation as general elections do but participation in both has been dropping.
The reasons for that are many but I think postal voting, and particularly the length of time people have to vote, might have some impact on council elections.
It’s too easy to miss the envelope or put it somewhere intending to get back to it then forget about it or lose it.
This must be very frustrating to candidates who are putting serious time and money into campaigning.
Some, perhaps many, of those who haven’t voted yet might intend to, but it looks like apathy is the front-runner in council elections at this stage.
There is no easy answer to turning that around, though Keeping Stock points to a Facebook Page Roy Williams for Mayor which seeks to spice the Wanganui mayoral race with satire.

Up vs out


New Zealand cities should go up rather than out, Federated Farmers’ chief executive Conor English says:

Manhattan-type cities that accommodate more people and stop urban sprawl is New Zealand’s farming leader’s latest vision for a prosperous economy.

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English says New Zealand needs to lose its small-country mindset and get smart about growth.

That included “taking the lid off our cities”.

“Human capability is critical to all parts of our community and economy. In most parts of New Zealand, except Auckland, the population is flat or in decline. There are not enough people to produce the exports, provide the services, pay the taxes and build a future at first-world income levels. We simply need more people.”

Auckland needed to stop building out and start building up. . .

I was in Auckland three times this month.

Each trip required the long, slow journey from the airport to the central city and back.

It’s such a waste of time and fuel.

Could going up rather than out help solve the city’s transport problems and would Aucklanders want to live in high-rise apartments rather than houses with sections?



Do we need more beneficiaries?


A past Waitaki District Council made a concerted attempt to lure Aucklanders south with the promise of far cheaper housing.

More than one constituent questioned the value of people likely to be enticed by that.

They pointed out that these weren’t necessarily the ones who would provide most benefit to the social and economic fabric of the District. One new business which would create more jobs would almost certainly be better than a greater number of poor people.

This principle also applies to the country.

What sort of immigrants do we need most?

Those with skills, who can support themselves and any dependents and who can make a positive contribution to our society and economy?

Or ones who are likely to end up in need of state assistance?

I’m the daughter of an immigrant and support immigration, but I don’t understand why people are upset at the thought that would-be immigrants who are unskilled, less likely to get work and more likely to end up on benefits won’t find it as easy to come here.

But he only saw Auckland


Editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine Tyler Brûlé  wrote a column in praise of New Zealand and Australia in the Financial Times.

But he only saw Auckland.

Imagine how much more effusive his praise would have been had he travelled further afield!

Aucklanders more intelligent than rest of NZers?


How do you explain this:

New Zealand First’s figures show consistent support between Auckland (2.6 per cent) and the rest of the country (2.7 per cent) and between genders.

But there is a big variance in support for leader Winston Peters as preferred prime minister between Auckland voters (3 per cent) and the rest of New Zealand (6.7 per cent).

Does it mean Aucklanders are more intelligent than the rest of us, or at least there are fewer deluded people there?

What is the implication of this?

New Zealand First is also disproportionately supported by those aged 65 and over.

Its overall party-vote support in the poll was 2.7 per cent but it was supported by 7.6 per cent of the elderly.

The elderly, in general, are closer to dying than younger people so this could mean the party’s support is dying.

But if the number of older people is growing as a proportion of the population and their voting preference changes as they age, the party support could grow.

That’s a very scary thought.

Why do so many people live there?


A survey confirms what those of us with the good sense, or luck, to live elsewhere suspected – Auckland’s not a healthy place to live:

A survey by Southern Cross Healthcare says Auckland has the worst work-life balance and, apart from quake-hit Christchurch, the most stress.

The survey says Aucklanders are eating more takeaways than any other city and that only 16% of people eat more than five servings of fruit and vegetables a day – less than people in any other city.

It’s not a bad place to visit but I wouldn’t choose to live there and the results of this survey make me wonder why so many other people do.

Let’s get together


Something good has come out of a united from the unification of Auckland already – South Island mayors are getting together to take a co-operative approach to ensure the Mainland’s voice is heard.

There’s around 800,000 people in the South Island, we’ll achieve much more with a united stance from our leaders than a competitive one.

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton was a guest on Afternoon’s panel yesterday afternoon when this was discussed.

Don’t muck it up, Len


Down here in the rural South Island we might joke that supercity and greater Auckland are oxymorons, but we do understand its importance.

If a city with more than a quarter of the country’s population doesn’t run well it’s hard for the rest of the country to compensate for it.

It’s too late to argue whether or not uniting the disparate entities that are now Auckland was a good idea.

The mayor and councillors all reckoned they could do a good job when thery were campaigning, it’s now up to them to do it.

Don’t muck it up Len. There’s a lot riding on you and your team.

 It’s not just the people of Auckland who need your city to succeed, the rest of the country does too.

Southland deserves to keep the shield – Updated


If ever a province deserved to win the Ranfurly Shield it was Southland.

The excitement when the Stags beat Canterbury last year infected Invercargill and the hinterland and the people have stayed behind the team.

It’s been a really tough week in the south, holding on to the shield would mean much more to Southlanders than winning it would to Aucklanders.

If it came to community support the challengers wouldn’t have a chance and the defenders know that. They’ll be playing their hearts out.

UPDATE: 9-6 to Southland. Phew!

Wild(e) card for Auckland mayor?


Trans Tasman has heard a whisper that former MP & Wellington mayor Fran Wilde may stand for the Auckland mayoralty.

TT has several ears close to the ground and the whispers it writes about are usually pretty reliable.

Saturday’s smiles



Difficult to find anything funnier this week.

Summer solstice


Today’s the summer solstice which gives us our longest day and shortest night.

In Dunedin the sun will be here for a second longer than it was yesterday and 4 seconds longer than it will be up tomorrow.

In Auckland the sun would have risen at 5.58 and it will set at 8.40. 

In Invercargill it rose at 5.50 and will set at 9.40. (If everyone lived down there we wouldn’t need daylight saving).

If memories from school geography serve me correctly the earth heats and cools faster than the sea. That explains why it’s usually warmer after the longest day and why it’s hotter in Central Otago than on the coast.

The sun’s shining as I type – for the third day in a row – but it’s only 10 degrees so there’s a lot of warming to do before we have summer weather.

Sunrise, sunset


The sun rose here at about 6.30 this morning and it will set at about 6.30 this evening.

If you’re in East Cape sunrise and sunset are about half an hour earlier. If you’re in Bluff they’re about quarter of an hour later.

In the normal course of events next week sunrise in Bluff would be at 6.23am  and sunset at 6.52pm. In East Cape sunrise would be 5.45am and sunset 6.08pm. But wherever you are in New Zealand, next Sunday clocks will have gone forward which will make sunrise and sunset an hour later than it ought to be.

The benefits of daylight saving compensate for the disadvantages in the middle of summer when temperatures are warmer and days are longer anyway. But extending daylight saving so it lasts from the last weekend in September until the first Sunday in April is giving us so much of a good thing it becomes a bad thing.

Putting the clock forward this early makes it darker and colder for longer in the morning without giving enough extra heat and light in the evening to make much difference. People, especially those in primary production, who have to start work early are disadvantaged without there being enough gain for those who want to play in the evenings to compensate.

LINZ has sunrise and sunset times for Auckland, Bluff, Dunedin, East Cape, Gisborne and Lyttelton.

The Royal Astronomical Society has sunrise and sunset times for Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Grump warning: this is the first of what may be several annual complaints about the length of the period in which daylight saving time applies.

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