Will women lose in culture clash?


Speaker David Carter wants to modernise parliamentary protocols.

The move was prompted by a cultural clash over women’s place and Maori custom and initial reaction suggests women are going to lose.

It follows an incident during a powhiri last year where two senior female MPs were made to move from the front row of seats, reserved for speakers.

Chairman of the oldest local Maori authority, the Wellington Tenths Trust, Morrie Love, says there is no shift in society that warrants change at this stage.

He says by accepting the form of the powhiri, the area for that time is deemed a marae, and protocol needs to be genuine and authentic to marae tikanga.

One could ask where Mr Love has been if he doesn’t think there’s a shift in society at warrants change.

However, goNZo Freakpower has an explanation for the continuation of women being seated at the back:

. . . I’m not convinced by the justifications of protecting women from taniwhas and bad atua for hui seating arrangements. My theory is that it’s a face-saving gesture to the old male kaumatua. Men go deaf more readily than women, and the old geezers sit in the front seats to better grasp what’s going on. The sharper eared wahine can hear just fine from further back. . .

That might not help women be treated as equals but it is a better explanation for the practice than any others I’ve come across.

No Missionaries


GoNZo Freakpower wonders if a sign saying No Missionaries will keep unwanted people from his place the way a No Junk Mail sign keeps unwanted rubbish from his mailbox.

If it doesn’t he could follow the example of a friend who keeps a Bible reading by the door and quotes it at anyone who calls on a mission to convert her to their brand of religion.

Or he could try tears – it worked for me.

Our baby son and I had been home for only a couple of days after his eventful first couple of weeks of life during which he’d stopped breathing several times and had multiple seizures when we had to return to hospital.

My farmer and I decided it would be better if I drove down to Dunedin myself so I could keep the car down there. It seemed like a good idea until he went to the stock sale with our daughter leaving me at home alone.

A few minutes later some religious peddlers knocked on the door.

When I opened it they asked how I was. I said, “My baby’s dying,” and burst into tears.

They took one horrified look at me and fled.

I admire missionaries who do practical good but have never understood those who only preach. This experience reinforced my prejudice – if they’d taken their faith seriously they would have offered to help.

Did you see the one about


Same planet, different world Oswald Bastable on bookless homes.

Mapping internet sensation stereotpypes – Lucia Maria has found some new world wit.

Muppets in blue goNZo Freakpower casts the blue end of the blogosphere as Muppets.

How did the poor come to be poor – Anti Dismal on why understanding wealth matters more than understanding poverty.

Building inpsectors – Credo Quia Absurdum Est on why practical experience beats the a bloke with a folder.

Reaching Atip – Cactus Kate explains fashion week.

Be careful Gareth – Patrick Smellie on the fine line between integrity and hubris.

Zero tolerance of hypocrisy


It’s difficult to understand how senior members of a party could be told by a prospective candidate that he had been through court for identity fraud without ascertaining all the facts.

But when Rodney Hide was interviewed by Mary Wilson on Checkpoint last night he said he hadn’t known the details of David Garrett’s case.

This reflects very poorly on the party and its selection processes.

It’s even more difficult to understand how a man who had been on the wrong side of the law himself couldn’t understand the need to be open about it before entering parliament when he wanted to take such a hard line on crime.

Garrett may have been discharged without conviction in a court of law. But his failure to disclose the full details of his past before he was elected make him guilty of hypocrisy in the court of public opinion which has zero tolerance for the h word .

P.S. goNZo Freakpower has dug up a photo of an Act campaign billboard.

Right to die gives right to kill


When proponents of euthanasia talk about the right to die they omit to explain that it involves other people and would also give the right to kill.

Would health professionals who are bound by the Hippocratic oath to do no harm want to do that?  Is it fair to ask them to? Even if the answers to those questions were affirmative, how could we be sure decisions would always be based on medical and humanitarian grounds?

Macdoctor points out the dangers of a financial incentive to hasten the end of dying patients.

This brings me to the central problem I have with human euthanasia.

It is a cheap cop-out.

Least I be called insensitive in the face of Dr Pollock’s eloquent and  emotional letter, let me say that I say this entirely in the context of medical practice. I do not consider Dr. Pollock’s desire to die rather than suffer a “cop-out”, I consider the legalisation of euthanasia to be a cheap (and nasty) alternative to adequate palliative care. And therein lies the chief dilemma.

Governments being what they are, as soon as euthanasia is legalised, there will immediately be a subtle drive to euthanase dying people.

 Would it be possible to have safe guards that ensure that those who wanted to opt for voluntary euthanasia  could without the danger that others would feel pressured into it?  They may feel they have to opt for an early death, not for their own sakes but that of their family and friends or even because they felt they were using scarce resources and wasting the time of the people caring for them.

Most of us think if we were severely disabled we would opt to forgo treatment, but would we?

Theodore Dalrymple writes of a man whose life support was about to be turned off until he blinked:

Mr Rudd, 43, was injured in a motor accident. He was paralysed and thought to be severely brain damaged. . .

However, taken to the neuro-intensive care unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, he was kept alive by the miracle of modern technology, without which he would undoubtedly have died.

His close relatives and doctors thought that the life he now had was not worth living. They prepared to turn off the machines keeping him alive. They thought this is what he would have wanted. It is also what most of us probably would have thought too.

At the last hour it was noticed he was able to move his eyes and that by doing so he could communicate a little. And what he communicated to everyone’s surprise was that he wanted to continue to live, even the life that he was now living. In other words his relatives and the doctors, with the best intentions in the world, had been mistaken. . .

That would have been a fatal mistake.

Dalrymple goes on to explain about Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) and how that measure could influence treatment.

Health policies are often decided on the basis of QALYs. Interestingly and alarmingly the QALY assumes that the life of a quadriplegic (someone paralysed from the neck down) not only has no value for the person who lives it but has a negative value for him: that is to say such a person would rather be dead and in fact would be better off if he were dead.

Whatever they thought before they were paralysed, however, most quadriplegics think their lives are worth living.

With a few exceptions, such as the young rugby player who was accompanied by his parents to Switzerland to be able to be given assistance in suicide, they don’t want to die. The fact that before they were paralysed most quadriplegics thought (as most people, including health economists think) that life as a quadriplegic would not be worth living but change their minds once they are quadriplegic, has very important implications for the idea of living wills.

In fact it invalidates the very idea. It is impossible to decide in advance what would be intolerable for you until you experience it.

When discussing this situation most of us think we would choose death rather than a life with severe impairments, but how can we know how great the desire for life, or death, would be until we are faced with making a choice?

When euthanasia is spoken of, it’s usually described as providing a merciful end, but would we feel the need to hasten our deaths if we could have a painless and natural one instead?

Dalrymple raises another problem. If we did legalise the right to kill, where would we draw the line and how would we stop it moving?

One of the problems with assisted suicide and euthanasia is what the Americans call mission creep. We live in non-discriminatory times: why should only certain categories of patients have the benefit of what Keats called “easeful death”? Indeed, when euthanasia was legalised in Holland it was not long before a psychiatrist killed a patient with supposedly intractable depression.

Why should only the terminally ill and the quadriplegic have the right to assisted suicide or euthanasia? Do other people not suffer equally, at least in their own estimation?  An old saying goes that hard cases make bad law and it is also true that there are pitiful cases in which a quick death would seem a merciful release.

Unfortunately it is well within the capacity of carers to make suffering unbearable and therefore death seem the preferable, quick and merciful option. And if people have a right to death on demand then someone has a duty to provide it, otherwise the right is worthless, a dead letter.

Who is this person who has such a duty? Will we strike off doctors for refusing to kill their patients? This is something that the indomitable Mr Rudd would not approve of and I think he deserves to be heard.

Euthanasia is not the same as choosing to forgo treatment. It is not passively letting someone die or even giving pain relief which might have the side effect of hastening death. It is actively killing and if we give the right to do that how can we be sure it wouldn’t be misused?

Rather than agitating for the right to die we should be agitating for the right to live with dignity and without pain.

The right to die sounds like control is in the hands of the patient and I struggle to see any difference between that and suicide.  But euthanasia is much more than that. In legalising the right to die we’d also be legalising the right to kill.


Lucia Maria aat NZ Conservative has similar concerns in  euthanasia raises it’s ugly head again.

Dim Post is cautiously in favour of legalising euthanasie but also sees the dangers in death panels.

goNZo Freakpower supports legalisation in any last requests,

So do Brian Edwards in the doctor and the right to die and Richard McGrath at Not PC in Cancers – personal and parliamentary.

Lindsay Mitchell asks what happend to the death with dignity bill?

Did you see the one about . . .


I’m not finished with Duncan Garner yet – Brian Edwards gives credit where it’s due.

Dinner with the Stars – Not PC asks  where and in which period in history you’d pick as being the best in history in which you might get a large number of your heroes around a dinner party table.  He also has a post on the malapropisms of refudiation.

Vagrant spotted in Parnell – Inquiring Mind gets satirical.

Under Aotearoan skies – goNZo Freakpower takes us star watching.

Star the nineteenth – In A Strange Land continues her stellar effort for Dry July.

Question (and answer) of the day – Keeping Stock found a gem from question time.

Quote of the day


Australian political scientists are petitioning for the introduction of new unit of time; the Rudd. It has an uncertain half life, but almost never lasts as long as you think it will. . .

. . . Congratulations, Australia. Your main female role model politician is no longer Pauline Hanson. You might become civilised yet.

You can read the rest at  GoNZo Freakpower.

The dangers of jam


How many people have contracted any sort of illness from eating jam cooked in a home kitchen?

The question first came up several years ago when a woman approached then-MP Katherine Rich at the Upper Clutha A&P Show.

The woman had been making jam for a Save The Children charity shop in Canterbury  for years, raising thousands of dollars for a very good cause in the process. But she’d been told it would no longer be acceptable unless she upgraded her kitchen to commercial standard or shifted her jam making to a commercial kitchen.

A media fuss followed and the local body involved backed down. But now another one is waving the big stick at charity cooks.

If I eat at a restaurant or buy food from a supermarket I expect high standards and have no problem with the authorities getting involved to monitor them. But if I buy jam or baking form a charity stall I know it’s come from a home kitchen and accept the tiny risk which comes with that.

Will they follow us home to make sure we store and use the jam the correct way next?

Jam is made from boiling fruit and sugar. I’d think the danger of conrating anything untoward from it would be considerably less than the risk to your helath from batting your head against bureaucracy.

Hat Tip: goNZo Freakpower.

Did you see the one about . . .


MSD misrepresenting statistics and misleading the public – Lindsay Mitchell does the numbers on youth homicides.

Trade and fairness – Anti-Dismal on why we’re fair to strangers we won’t see again.

A teaser – the Meurant chronicles – Roar Prawn whets the appetite for more of fishgate. She also finds a mine which makes her think Goff is a hypocrite.

Metrocentrism at Radio NZ – Quote Unquote notices that not everyone notices that sometimes bad weather is good.

Compulsory medical insurance – Kiwiblog finds it’s illegal to not ahve health insurance on one side of the border and illegal to have it on the other.

One perspective on mining conservation land – The Visible Hand in Economics has a picture which sums up the case from the antis.

40 after 55 – goNZo Freakpower passes a milestone and survives a stormy landing in Wellington.

graba opportunity


Air New Zealand has grabbed the opportunity to have a bit of fun with its grabaseat advertising:

Apropos of Harawira’s behaviour, goNZo Freakpower has come across a school report.

UPDATE: Cactus Kate sees another angle.

Did you see the one about . . .


Architectural mini tutorial: the New Zealand house – not PC

Dr Seuss the blogger visionary at Opinionated Mummy

The Other Yorkshiremen   – goNZo Freakpower  shows us deprivation from another point of view.

MfE groundwater report: ‘propaganda’ or misunderstood? – by Daniel Collins at Sciblogs.

Science journalism – critical analysis not debate –  Grant Jacobs at Sciblogs looks at balance – and what goes for it.

Did you see the one about:


There’s a frickin’ elephant in the school room at Not PC – on being hooked on phonics.

Treasure hunting  at Waitaki Blog on the anchor’s away and back.

Pie eyed at Roarprawn where today’s taste doesn’t live up to yesterday’s memory.

LMNO Key  – goNZo Freakpower  s(p)ells out the (p)roblem of a missing letter.

Yes you have found us out – The Hand Mirror asks, Y?

Twas the night before the announcement – Cactus Kate spots Machiavelli in Auckland’s lab saga.

Science or magical thinking? at Sciblogs – Alison Campbell takes a scientific look at homeopothy.

Dog laws to be reviewed


Farm working dogs are exempt from the law which requires canines to be microchipped.

The logical consequence of that is that there has been a very elastic application of the term working to many dogs in the country.

The exemption was a compromise when the law was changed as an emotional reaction to dog attacks on people. I suspect the generous interpretation of working  isn’t the only reason it hasn’t worked as intended.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has doubts about it too. He’s calling for a review of dog control laws and one of the reasons for that is he’s not sure about the cost-benefit analysis of microchipping:

Good law is not made on the basis of emotion. Good law is not made on the basis of unclear facts.

I am concerned that some key elements of the present dog laws were made in this way.

Microchipping and the dogs’ database provide some help to owners who lose their dogs, and assist councils in keeping track of dangerous or menacing dogs that are moved from area to area. We also get some useful data about dogs and their breeds that I hope the private sector accesses and makes use of.

But is it good value for money? Does it help us deal with the worst criminal use of dogs by gangs? I’ll be looking for real evidence in any review of our dog control laws.

This is a refreshing change from the emotion which drove the law change in the first place.

Hide says reviewing dog laws isn’t a priority but he expects a review to be carried out in 2011.

He’s also musing on licensing dog owners. I agree with goNZoFreakpower and Macdoctor who reckon that idea’s barking mad.



To get to an 8.30 meeting in Wellington this morning I could have got up at 4.45 (which thanks to daylight saving would have felt like 3.45), to drive for a couple of hours to fly from Timaru, fly back this evening and get home after 9pm.

Instead I flew up yesterday and as a bonus was able to go to the Backbencher pub for the filming of Back Benches.

Walking into a strange pub alone is a challenge for an introvert, but Matthew, a Young Nat, started chatting to me while I waited at the bar to order a drink, I then spotted David Farrar of Kiwiblog who was sitting with Will from goNZofreakpower. While I’m dropping names, we were joined by B.K. Drinkwater and a journo turned ministerial press secretary, whose name I won’t drop in case he prefers to remain anonymous.

Federated Farmers President Don Nicolson was there with Dairy section chair Lachlan McKenzie and High Country chair Donald Aubrey.

It’s parliamentary recess and the only MPs I spotted were those on the panel – Wairarapa MP John Hayes from National, United Future’s Peter Dunne and Labour’s Chris Chauvel.

They discussed whether or not New Zealand should become a republic – all three said yes and Will also gave a a considered view in support of that.

A discussion on cycling safety followed then Don got a soap box spot. He spoke on the ETS to which the people at the red tables showed their opposition.

Labour MP Sue Moroney spoke on her plan to increase paid parental leave. That was supported by Peter Dunne & Chris Chauvel but John Hayes pointed out that when we’re already borrowing so much to keep the country going, increasing paid parental leave is unaffordable.

A quiz question seeking the name of an MP went through several clues before a team effort at our table got it – David Farrar called out the answer and was presented with a photo of the Queen signed by the panelists. When asked what he’d do with it, he said he’d use it as a beer mat.

There weren’t many opposing voices but mine was one of them. I oppose it on principle – it’s the only benefit which gives more to people who have most. Women on the maximum wage gets the maximum payment, those on the minimum gets the minimum and women who don’t work enough hours a week, if at all,  get nothing regardless of how low the family income is. It’s a benefit which isn’t based on need.

Filming finished with the panelists speaking straight to camera. Peter Dunne patted himself on the back for extending daylight saving – I resisted the temptation to tackle him on that.

I’ve watched the programme a couple of times, being there was much more fun.

Did you see the one about . . .


The 12 Wierdest Hotel Rooms  at Motella – which includes another reason to not like Barbie.

In defence of Donald Rumsfeld at Quote Unquote – the known knowns, the known unknown and the unknown unknowns.

Labour’s 16th apology at goNZo Freakpower – I agree with all but # 14.

A case for a Commission for Social Exclusion  at Opinionated Mummy.

4000 years  on at Opposable Thumb where a future archeaological dig discovers signs of a primative culture in the south.

Did you see the one about . . .


Governance not management  at Stephen Franks including the key compenents of a successful board.

Incentives matter: famine file  at Anti Dismal which illustrates the importance of private property.

Raising good kids at Not PC – taking a positive approach to parenting.

Comment of the week  at No Minister – a look back at Labour’s legacy sourced from a comment at Kiwiblog.

It can be over so quick at rivettingKate Taylor – sudden death and responsible babysitting.

Hands up if you fell for . . . at Monkey with Tpyewriter – looking at the havok didn’t happen.

Capping Incomes at Something Should Go Here – one for the doesn’t learn from history file.

New Zealand Professionals – Fillipinos of London at Cactus Kate – observations and advice on a successful OE.

Cheesecake and trim latte at goNZoFreakpower – the dilemna diet indulgence.

Nanny States at Macdoctor – a three point checklist for differentiating between nanny & necessary.

The Brussels Gestapo at Frenemy – Germans see the light on lightbulbs.

Pictures speak every language


Buenas tardes, buona sera, and bonsoir.

That’s another token gesture towards International Languages Week and this a follow up from yesterday’s post about using pictures rather than words to get the message across to people who can’t speak your language.

When I put my card in the cashpoint machine today I was momentarily confused by what I saw on the screen.

Instead of the message I was used to, there were little dialogue boxes down the right hand side in English and an Asian script. The English said only use this if you want another language.

If you need another language it’s possible you can’t read English so how will you understand that instruction?

When we were in Europe, every cashpoint machine we used had flags denoting different language options. If you don’t understand what español, ingles,  italiano, alemán or francés meant, the flag beside the word told you it was Spanish, English, Italian, German or French so you didn’t have to understand the host country’s language to work out what to do.

How hard would it be to do that here?

A picture doesn’t just paint 1000 words, it does so in every language.

Apropos of International Languages Week:

 goNZoFreakpower shows us how Flight of the Conchords cope with French.

Jim Mora  interviewed Professor Cynthia White from Massey University’s School of Languages.

MPs who spend less than 14,800 can’t be doing much


UK-style expenses scandal possible the headline in the Sunday Star Times (not on-line) thundered.

The story which follows on MPs’ expense allowance quotes outgoing Remuneration Authority chairman David Oughton saying the  allowance paid to MPs is open to abuse.

The $14,800 was supposed to be for “out of packet expenses incurred in the pursuit of parliamentary business”. This might include entertaining visitors, staff and constituents; memberships, sponsorships and fees, gifts, donations, raffle tickets and flowers, passport photos, briefcases, luggage and meals.

“The money is there to be spent on those things and if they don’t spend it on that then it’s money in their pocket,” Oughton said.

The allowance is also to cover accommodation and meals when working away from home. An MP who doesn’t spend $14,800 on those sorts of things can’t be doing much and I would be very surprised if most, especially those with large electorates outside Wellington,  don’t spend a great deal more on them.

There have been suggestions that MPs should have to produce receipts for this expenditure. That would be a time consuming nuisance for the MPs and whoever had to deal with the paper work because most of the payments will be for quite small amounts.

MPs do a difficult job and the good ones more than earn their salaries. They incur additional expenses in the course of their duties and just as they would in any other job, they ought to be reimbursed for that.

It is not unusual in the private sector for people to receive bulk funded allowances for minor out of pocket job related expenditure. However, I can see no justification for paying non-work related expenses nor continuing any payments once MPs are out of parliament.

Sir Roger Douglas might be within the rules when he claimed 90% of the costs of a  flight to Britain with his wife but the rules need to change.

Subsidising private travel may have been part of the employment package for MPs but as Sir Roger Douglas well knows, “entitlements” which are given may also be taken away.

Then there are the rules which govern payments for Wellington houses for Ministers who live elsewhere. John Key is right to order a review of them.

Mr Key said problems with the rules weren’t new.

“Ministerial Services’ rules look arcane to me. They don’t necessarily drive the best outcomes for either the taxpayer or the minister,” he said.

“I think the rules drive perverse outcomes…I want to make sure the taxpayer gets as fair a deal as possible which genuinely reflects the increased demand (placed on ministers).”

Mr Key said his ministers often worked 18-hour days for six or seven days a week.

“Most New Zealanders, I believe, would support me in my desire to see the marriages of my cabinet ministers and the happiness of their families remain intact,” he said.

“I don’t expect them to take advantage of the goodwill of the taxpayers and I don’t believe they are, but I’m quite happy to have new rules out there that reflect that.”

Poneke may be disappointed that I’m not going to criticise Bill English over this when it was publicity over payments to him which prompted the review.

Few people understand the demands placed on MPs and the strains it places on their family lives. The bigger the electorate and the further it is from Wellington the more difficult it is to service and still have time for family.

Bill serves the biggest general electorate in the country and the furtherest from the capital. The large majorities he earns each election reflect the hard work he does for his constituents and their appreciation of that. 

Like several other current and past Ministers he and his family moved from their home in his electorate to Wellington so he could have more time with them. That his wife has a job and his children go to school there doesn’t change the fact that they made the move because he is an MP and still have their home in Dipton.

The comparison with other jobs which require people to move isn’t comparing apples with apples. Unlike most other positions,  MPs work in Wellington and in their electorates.

Having said that, when the public service is being asked to do line by line reviews of costs it is essential that the government leads by example and a review of housing rules is necessary.

Questions it should consider are whether Ministers need bigger/better houses than other MPs; if they do, what is an appropriate level of assistance for that recognising the private costs and benefits of owning a second house in Wellington because of their jobs.

It also needs to recognise the difficulties and demands of running the country and serving an electorate elsewhere and the impact that has on families. All of that must be balanced with the need for fiscal prudence which ought to govern all public spending.

P.S. – goNZo Freakpower has a very good post on this issue with the sensible suggestion that everything be frontended in salaries and expenses be bulk funded and capped.

Did you see the one about


Monday funday with words to eat at The Hand Mirror

And now for the news at Inquiring Mind

Internet addiction  at Quote Unquote

Lost My Lunch at goNZo Freakpower

The very busy spider Deborah at In A Strange Land

Dane Moeke – Something very special at Lindsay Mitchell

Did you see the one about


Quotes and tips at Something should go here (where there’s several other jokes posted too).

Hager vs Crosby/Textor round 94  at David Cohen’s blog

At the carwash at Quote Unquote

Skating on thin ice at RivettingKateTaylor

Question of the day at In A Strange Land which came from In which I forget the purpose of posting at 2B Sophora

Nostalgia at Kismet Farm

Toxoplasmosis caused the crash your honour at Frenemy

Newspaper death watch – desperate remedies at Dim Post

You go girl  at Anti Dismal

What good is a right to life ? at The Visible Hand

Return of the stump speech at goNZo Freakpower

Milk Link shows just what a co-op can do  at Phil Clarke’s Business Blog

And a new – to me – blog: The Definitive 1000 Songs of All Time 1955 – 2005

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