Quotes of the Year

December 31, 2019

You can volunteer to take life seriously but it is gonna get you, they are going to win over you, it is harsh, but you can either break down and complain about how miserable your life is or have a go at it and survive. I think that is the basis of it all. – Billy Connolly

Working for Families is a policy that satisfies few on the Left or the Right. Compromises rarely do. They are imperfect by their nature. They are necessary, however, because people are imperfect and always will be. If things were otherwise, we wouldn’t need government at all. – Liam Hehir

The greatest threats to our native wildlife – and our rural economy – may yet be science denial and conspiracy belief. – Dave Hansford

Those elected to positions of authority need to understand that the human condition rarely engages in deceit and halftruths as much as when rehearsing or inventing the science behind their personal environmental concerns.Gerrard Eckhoff

When our total emissions account for 0.17 per cent of total global emissions, leadership isn’t being first, fast and famous. Leadership is taking what we already do well, food production, and doing it even better over time by investing in innovation and technology.  Todd Muller

People have a choice with how they respond to adversity in their life. Creating a positive attitude gives you more control over your circumstances. By staying positive, it means you can make the most out of your life no matter what gets thrown in your direction. – Emma Barker

Being part of a baying mob, for that is what much of our modern commentary has been reduced to, isn’t brave and nor is it radical.

Standing up to them is. – Damien Grant

It is stupid and dangerous. But, we are on private property and we’re just having a bit of fun.

No-one has got too hurt yet … we are not stupid about it. – Patrick Ens

The first challenge is that urban New Zealand does not understand the extent to which our national wealth depends on the two pillars of dairy and tourism.  Yes, there are other important industries such as kiwifruit and wine, and yes, forestry, lamb and beef are also very important. But rightly or wrongly, our population has been growing rapidly, and the export economy also has to keep growing. There is a need for some big pillars.

Somehow, we have to create the exports to pay for all of the machinery, the computers, the electronics, the planes, the cars, the fuel and the pharmaceuticals on which we all depend. . . Keith Woodford

Believe passionately enough in something and you’ll be shouting at the younger generation well into your eighties. – AnnaJones

We realise that Pharmac has a budget, but there seems to be a never ending open budget for welfare. New Zealand surely isn’t so broke that we have to pick and choose who we let live and who we let die. But that is currently where we find ourselves.Allyson Lock

The problem with numbers is that they don’t fudge.They’re definite. Exact. Numbers don’t lie. But people lie.People fudge. People lie about numbers. People fudge numbers. But numbers are the truth.  . .

I think there’s a political lesson here for this government. Watch the numbers or your number’s up. – Andrew Dickens

My take away from all this is that referendums do have a place, even binding ones. But it is best to call on these when the issues are clear and easily understood by everyone in the community. Brexit or not might have seemed clear at the time, driven as it was mainly by fears of uncontrollable immigration across the Channel. But it was not of this genre. As Oscar Wilde remarks: ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple’. In such cases, perhaps best leave it to parliaments. That way we’ll know who to blame it if all goes wrong.Professor Roger Bowden

All kinds of wild ideas that are untested and are demonstrably bad for them and demonstrably wrong – these ideas can spread like wildfire so long as they are emotionally appealing. Social media and other innovations have cut the lines that previously would have tethered the balloon to Earth, and the balloon has taken off. – Jonathon Haidt

Pettiness is on the increase, too, in the constant calling-out of sometimes-casual language that was never intended to offend or harass, and even may have been written or uttered with well-meaning intent. – Joanne Black

Why then did I leave Greenpeace after 15 years in the leadership? When Greenpeace began we had a strong humanitarian orientation, to save civilization from destruction by all-out nuclear war. Over the years the “peace” in Greenpeace was gradually lost and my organization, along with much of the environmental movement, drifted into a belief that humans are the enemies of the earth. I believe in a humanitarian environmentalism because we are part of nature, not separate from it. The first principle of ecology is that we are all part of the same ecosystem, as Barbara Ward put it, “One human family on spaceship Earth”, and to preach otherwise teaches that the world would be better off without us. Patrick Moore

There were rituals, prayer every night, communal eating, some adults staying at home looking after children while others went to work.

Looking back, it was one of the sweetest memories for me. It was a very secure, loving home with lots of uncles and aunts, and no shortage of cousins to play with. There wasn’t a lot of money, but an abundance of aspiration. – Agnes Loheni

We need to be 90 per cent women. Not 46 per cent women. – Jill Emberson  (speaking on the inequity of funding research for ovarian cancer)

These messages of envy and hopelessness—messages that lead to an insidious victim mentality and that are perpetuated by those who say they care more and are genuinely concerned for the communities I grew up in—lead to an outcome that is infinitely worse than any hard bigot or racist could ever hope to achieve. To take hopes and dreams away from a child through good intentions conflicts with the messages of aspiration, resilience, and compassion that I and my Pasefika community were exposed to as we grew up. That soft bigotry of low expectation is the road to hell laid brick by brick with good intentions.

Hope, resilience, compassion—these are the only messages that have any chance of succeeding and changing our course toward a better New Zealand. These values are not exclusive to my migrant parents; they are New Zealand’s values. They fit hand-in-glove with our Kiwi belief in hard work, enterprise, and personal responsibility. Agnes Loheni

Politics is an odd kind of game that sometimes requires a ruthless self-interest and at others altruistic self-sacrifice. It’s a patchwork of ideals and deals, virtue and vice, gamble and calculation. – Tim  Watkin

Small business would pay the costs, large business would spend thousands avoiding the costs and tax advisors and valuers would have a field day. AndrewHoggard

 There are limits, even to the immodesty of the self-proclaimed First Citizen of the Provinces, the wandering bard with the bag of pūtea, bestowing largesse on the forgotten hamlets of Aotearoa. – Guyon Espiner

Once we recover from our grief, do we slide back into being passively a “good” country? To simply “not be racist” when what is required of us is to be outspoken “anti-racists”? I don’t want thoughts and prayers. What I want to see is bold leadership, standing up and uniting in this message: that hate will not be allowed to take root and triumph here. And to then act on that message. I need us all to be courageous and really look inwards at the fears, judgment and complacence we may have allowed into our hearts, and look outward to demand a change in the conversation. And to be that change. Saziah Bashir

Words matter because when we isolate groups of people who don’t make up the majority of those we see, we turn them into “others”. And when we turn them into others we dehumanise them and make it easier to commit harm against them. – David Cormack

Being right wing to me means believing in free market ideals, open immigration where skills are needed, free trade and access to international markets, as little government intervention as possible and having the best people in your country to help your country become better. It means more opportunity for hard working immigrants. Quite often we ARE those bloody immigrants!

It’s not about closed borders. It’s not about denying people opportunity to build their businesses if they’re hard working and wish to contribute to a country. It’s not about wounding and killing people in places of prayer or on the streets. – Cactus Kate

New Zealand can never succeed, on any measure, by cowering behind a wall. Not just our economic destiny but our national identity depends on us maintaining the sense of adventure that brought us all here and extending manaakitanga to those who want to join us, visit us, do business with us, or take a holiday or study here.

Those of us who believe in these things should no longer reject the term neo-liberal, so often used as abuse, but reclaim it. What is the alternative: to be old conservatives? The political right needs to get back on track. – Matthew Hooton

We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us.

To the families of the victims your loved ones did not die in vain, their blood has watered the seeds of hope. – Gamal Fouda

We like to tell our food story and we have terms like market research and consumer behaviour that help us as we pick what to produce and how. Put simply, what we’re really doing is asking what does that person want and how can we make them happy? We’re seeking understanding. We’re listening to people we don’t know as much about. We could use more of that in our everyday lives right now. – Bryan Gibson

Wise politicians pick no unnecessary fights that focus people on differences instead of on values they share.StephenFranks

The way I’ve looked at married life is this – You make your bed, you lay in it.

“You get married and you think everything is a long tar-sealed road that is beautiful.

“And after a few years, you get a few potholes. And if you don’t fix the potholes, they get bigger.

“You have to keep fixing them. – Jack van Zanten

NZ First feels like the stumbling, drunk boyfriend that the cool girl brought to the party. She’s too good for him, and everyone can suddenly see it.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan:

 It was never clear to me whether anyone was doing anything useful or just pretending to do stuff to feel better about ourselves. How do you actually make the world a better place? – Danyl Mclauchlan

Social media and the changed nature of other media have obscured the capacity and need for real conversation. Ideas are not contested civilly, rather people are attacked, falsehoods multiply. Our evolution as social animals required mechanisms for group consensus and group rules. Democracy is a manifestation of that social dynamic and works best when publics are informed not manipulated,and can have a civil contest of worldviews, values and ideas informed by robust evidence. –  Sir Peter Gluckman

I worry there is a drive to sanitise life. When the end gets difficult, we are saying, right, that’s enough, let’s cut it short. There are alternatives. There are other choices to ameliorate suffering of all types. Assisted death is not necessary.

How we die says a lot about our society. Having held a few hands of the dying, I know that those moments are sacred. I didn’t swear the oath of first doing no harm, to then participate in an activity with multiple harmful effects to both the living and the dying.  – Hinemoa Elder

Reasoned communication is the way across the divide of difference. It requires leaving the past and its animosities behind. But this is very difficult. The past gives us a sense of security and belonging. The institutions of modern society which unite us don’t have the same pulling power as the rallying cries of the isms. No wonder ethnic nationalisms, nativisms, and populisms with their ‘us not you’ and ‘our culture not yours’ are winning out. Unexamined belief is more satisfying than reason – and its easier.  – Elizabeth Rata 

People’s wellbeing, even their lives, are at risk while well-meaning people make statements based on inappropriate and flawed research. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Only around 20 per cent of the population lives in the countryside, and decisions are being made about them and for them by predominantly urban people, many of whom have little understanding or empathy for their rural neighbours. – Dr Margaret Brown

Such is the far left’s belief in their own moral superiority that, while they point the finger of blame at others with alacrity, they appear to lack the self-awareness and self-reflection that would lead them to at least wonder whether they themselves are complicit in contributing to a divisive and hateful society. – Juliet Moses

I want to turn to our Māori people, because I believe it is time to switch your political allegiance back to yourself, to your own tino rakatirataka. The political tribalism of saying we only vote for the party is not doing us any favours. You must demand on every politician that walks across your marae ātea that they show you the proof of their commitment to working hard for you before you give them your vote, because talk is cheap, whānau. Actions, ringa raupā—the callused hands—those are what spoke loudly to our conservative tīpuna, and it is time to demand politicians show you their calloused hands, their ringa raupā, as evidence of what they have achieved for you. – Nuk Korako

However, the real danger to meddling in our sound and proven speech laws is that institutions, agencies and interest groups with their own social and political agendas will likely have a disproportionate influence that is not in the national interest. There will be some whose sole intent is to undermine the free speech we already enjoy. – Joss Miller 

It’s easy to take it for granted that we are mostly led by politicians who are motivated to do their best by us; one look around the world today shows us how easily it could be different.

Politics in New Zealand has undoubtedly become more tribal since I started but beneath the rhetoric the differences are really not so great.

I leave here firmly believing there are no good guys or bad guys; the various parties may have different solutions to the same problems but fundamentally there is the same will to solve the problems. – Tracy Watkins

I realised two things that day. I would never, ever, let anyone I cared for enter a life of politics – and that politicians bleed, just like the rest of us. In the years since, I’ve tried to remember the power of words to hurt. – Tracy Watkins

My clear thrust in politics has been around … actually what we’ve just seen in Australia, what ScoMo called the ‘quiet Australians’, they’re here in New Zealand too. All they really want from a government is a strong economy, good public services and for us to get out of the way, and let them get on with their families, and that’s what drives me – Simon Bridges

I don’t think we do anyone any favours by pretending it’s easy, because it isn’t. I don’t think you can have everything all at once. – Linda Clark

It is the private sector that will do the heavy lifting. Nothing will happen unless and until the owners of companies take the decision to invest more, hire more people, and take a risk on economic opportunitySteven Joyce

The more you pay people, the fewer people you can afford to pay. Unless of course you sell more, and you only sell more if people feel good about buying. – Mike Hosking

I am living the way my forefathers lived, who left the footprint for me. It was good enough for my people, for my parents, my grandparents, who bought the house in 1887 – it is a tribute to them. – Margaret Gallagher

If I won the lottery, I would still live here. I am a rural rooted spinster. – Margaret Gallagher

Preachers of tolerance and inclusion must no longer seek to silence and condemn those with opinions that make them uncomfortable but are nevertheless opinions based on another person’s own beliefs and values systems. While we need to stay vigilant and investigate people who post offensive material online, we need to be equally concerned about any move in this House to restrict freedom of speech, a move which has all too often been used by those in power to silence those with differing opinions or ideas. This doctrine, peddled by those who pretend to be progressive, asserts that the mere expression of ideas itself is a limitation on the rights of others. This is preposterous. We must always run the risk of being offended in the effort to afford each citizen their freedom of expression, their freedom to be wrong, and, yes, unfortunately, even nasty. We must let the punishment of those with hateful messages be their own undoing.  Paulo Garcia

 It’s a blunt instrument that doesn’t always work, but parents love and understand their children. They are uniquely placed to make them see sense and not rush off with some jezebel or fall pregnant to some ageing lothario.

Welfare is a merino-covered sledge hammer that smashes these traditional bonds. Teenagers are freed from the financial constraints of their family and can turn to a new parent, the state, who will not judge, lecture, or express disappointment in their life decisions. . .

When you design a system that disenfranchises parents and undermines families you are rewarded with a cohort of lost children and will, in a few short years, find yourself taking babies off teenagers who are unfit to be parents. Damien Grant

Pasture-based New Zealand dairy production is the most carbon efficient dairy farming system in the world. In fact, you can ship a glass of New Zealand milk to the next most efficient country (Ireland) and drink it there and it still has a lower carbon footprint than an equivalent Irish glass of milk. – Nathan Penny

Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/co-parenting situations, terrible media influences … and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do? Kids behave in undesirable ways in the environment they feel safest.

They test the water in the environment that they know their mistakes and behaviours will be treated with kindness and compassion. For those “well-behaved” kids – they’re throwing normal kid tantrums at home because it’s safe. The kids flipping tables at school? They don’t have a safe place at home. Our classrooms are the first place they’ve ever heard ‘no’, been given boundaries, shown love through respect. – Jessica Gentry

In a nation like ours, immigration is a kind of oxygen, each fresh wave reenergizing the body as a whole. As a society, when we offer immigrants the gift of opportunity, we receive in return vital fuel for our shared future. – L. Rafael Reif

We should be very wary of underplaying the progress and successes we’ve already made as food producers and custodians of the land.  If we pay too much attention to the critics, it saps motivation and puts more stress on the shoulders of farmers and their families. – Katie Milne

The opportunities in the agri-food sector are endless, even if you live in the city. You just have to be passionate – James Robertson

The choice really is clear. Do we want to be remembered in the future for being the generation that overreacted and spent a fortune feeling good about ourselves but doing very little, subsidising inefficient solar panels and promising slight carbon cuts — or do we want to be remembered for fundamentally helping to fix both climate and all the other challenges facing the world? – Bjorn Lomborg

My starting point for this with public health is very simple, I do not plan to be the moral police, and will not tell people how to live their lives, but I intend to help people get information that forms the basis for making choices. – Sylvi Listhaug

Pastoral agriculture is a pretty simple and slick system. We turn a natural resource that we can’t eat (grass) into something we can eat (meat and milk) with grazing animals. The land we (the world) use to do this is, by and large, not suitable for the production of sugar or the other 40 ingredients needed for cultured meat. Or, for the ingredients required in the less-terrifying, but no-less-processed plant-based “meats”.

Some people can’t stand the thought of an animal being killed for their food. So be it. Let them eat cake… or felafel. But, when it comes to meat, there is no substitute for the simplicity and safety of the real deal. – Nicola Dennis

But at times like this the public more than ever look to the media for impartial coverage. Is it too much to expect that journalists set aside their personal views and concentrate instead on giving people the information they need to properly weigh the conflicting arguments and form their own conclusions? –Karl du Fresne

Governments who are put in place by voters to help those that have been missing out enact policies that ensure those people keep missing out.

And those same Governments store up economic imbalances that bring real risks for our collective future security. All for the sake of short-term policies that appear popular in the here and now. – Steven Joyce

The whole idea of tearing the heart out of a nation’s economy to reduce methane emissions from livestock is an unbelievable display of scientific, technological and economic ignorance. It goes far beyond simply not knowing or being mistaken.  It is profound ignorance compounded by understanding so little it is not even possible to recognise one’s own ignorance which is then made malignant by thinking it must be imposed on everyone else for their own good. – Walter Starck

Everyone that’s being fired and publicly embarrassed about a misdemeanor and being called a Nazi — there are real Nazis who are getting away with it. This must be amazing for real racists to be out there, and going, “It’s all right, everyone’s a racist now, this is a great smokescreen, we’ve got people out there calling people who aren’t Nazis, Nazis. . . . They don’t know the real Nazis from people who said the  wrong thing once!” . . . It plays into the hands of the genuinely bad people. – Ricky Gervais

I get the equality movement – it’s valid and important. But I also know the dangers, firsthand, that mindset can play if we encourage everyone to see themselves as the same, instead of embrace the differences God intentionally created us with.

I have been more successful as a professional, a wife and a friend once I learned to embrace myself as different, not equal.  – Kate Lambert

The creation of wealth should not be confused with the creation of money and the amount of money in circulation at any given point. – Henry Armstrong

For me, it was South Island farmer Sean Portegys who articulated best what so many farmers are feeling – he told me that in a drought, you don’t despair because it’s always going to rain. In a snowstorm, the sun will come out eventually. When prices are bad, and he said they’d just gone through a rough patch a few years ago, it’s always going to come right eventually. The problem is now, he said, the situation that farmers are facing is a lack of hope. He says he just doesn’t see a future in what he’s doing. And if farmers don’t see a future, then the future of New Zealand Inc looks bleak. –  Kerre McIvor

The problem is, if you propose a set of rules that are unachievable you don’t get community buy-in and if you don’t get community buy-in, you don’t actually make any progress,- David Clark

There are no perfect human societies or human systems or human beings.  But that shouldn’t stop us celebrating our past, our heritage, our culture –  the things that, by opening to the world, made this country, for all its faults and failings and relative economic decline in recent decades, one of the more prosperous and safe countries on earth. – Michael Reddell

The productivity commission says – in a much nicer way than this – that most councillors are a bunch of useless numpties with no understanding of governance of finance, and so really aren’t capable of handling the big stuff. – Tina Nixon

If you cannot even state an opponent’s position in order to illustrate the benefit of arguing with that opponent, then free speech is over. Because no dialogue then is possible. Professor Jim Flynn

Freedom of speech is important because it is a contest of ideas.

When you forbid certain ideas, the only way you can be effective is by being more powerful. So it becomes a contest of strength. If you shut ’em up, not only does that make it a matter of `might makes right’, you haven’t proved that your views are more defensible, you’ve just proved that you are stronger. Further, that must be the worst formula for finding truth that’s ever been invented. It’s either a contest of ideas or a contest of strength. Professor Jim Flynn

 A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people. And a free people must never, ever be enlisted in the cause of silencing, coercing, cancelling or blacklisting their own neighbours. Professor Jim Flynn

People have to grow up. Being educated is getting used to hearing ideas that upset you. – Professor Jim Flynn

I see precautionary investment against climate change as equivalent in political decision-making, to expenditure on defence. Both require spending for highly uncertain benefit. No one can know whether we genuinely have an enemy who will attack. No one can know if our precautions will be effective. Hopefully the investment will be untested. We can’t know until afterwards whether it is wasted. Yet it is rational to try, because the catastrophe could be so overwhelming if the risk matures without resilience or mitigation precautions.

But such investment remains foolish if it is unlikely reduce CO2 levels materially, or to improve New Zealand’s ability to cope if change happens nevertheless. Given NZ’s inability to affect the first, an insurance investment should focus primarily on resilience. The Zero Carbon Bill does neither. So my government is wasting the elite political consensus that ‘something must be done”. Instead they’re conspicuously trumpeting their “belief” in climate change, and their intentions to act. If the law is enforced it will likely increase emissions overseas, and not influence foreign governments to mitigate the risk, who can affect the outcome. – Stephen Franks

The brute facts of New Zealand history suggest that if it’s blame Maori and Pakeha are looking for, then there’s plenty to go around. Rather than apportion guilt, would it not be wiser to accept that the Pakeha of 2019 are not – and never will be – “Europeans”? Just as contemporary Maori are not – and can never be again – the Maori who inhabited these islands before Cook’s arrival. Would it not, therefore, be wiser to accept, finally, that both peoples are victims of historical forces too vast for blame, too permanent for guilt?Chris Trotter

As I have gone through my horrible journey, I have realised why ovarian cancer support doesn’t gain the kind of traction that breast cancer does. It is because we are small in number, and we die really quickly, so we don’t have the capacity to build up an army of advocates. With breast cancer, there is a lot more women who get it, therefore they can build and build their army of advocates and they are able to raise more money, get more research, and get better outcomes, so they live longer. We need the support of breast cancer survivors. We need them to link arms with us to grow our army for ovarian cancer, which will then help us get more funding fairness. Funding leads to research, and research leads to longer lives. – Jill  Emberson

This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re politically woke, and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting with may love their kids and share certain things with you. – Barack Obama

I can’t make people not afraid of black people. But maybe if I show up every day as a human, a good human, maybe that work will pick away at the scabs of your discrimination. –Michelle Obama

In South Africa, pressure is not having a job or if one of your close relatives is murdered. In South Africa there are a lot of problems, which is pressure. – Rassie Erasmus

We shouldn’t subsidise the smelter.  Rather we should stop forcing Southlanders to subsidise Aucklanders.  We should also revert to a more gradual water plan that gives farmers time to adapt, and we should let Southland retain control of SIT.  Then we should get out of the way and let the sensible practical Southlanders get on with making a success of their province. – Steven Joyce

All of us face trials and tribulations. No-one always wins, in the end we all lose. We lose friends, marriages, money, get anxious, our bodies break down, our minds go, and then we die. Isn’t life great?

But actually, isn’t living also a lot of highs? Births, marriages, beaches, trips abroad, friends, sporting victories, pets, pay increases, leaves sprouting in spring, fish and chips on a sunny day. – Kevin Norquay

You’ve got to come up with some kind of middle ground where you do reasonable things to mitigate the risk and try at the same time to lift people out of poverty and make them more resilient. We shouldn’t be forced to choose between lifting people out of poverty and doing something for the climate. Kerry Emanuel

Knowledge in long-term memory is not a nice-to-have. Rather, it is an integral part of mental processing without which our working memories (which can hold only about four items at a time) become quickly overloaded. – Briar Lipson

None of it convinces me from my position that there is no “I” in meat but if you look closely you will find the words me and eat.  That should be good enough to convince tree huggers and hippies that they should be switching back to natural. – Cactus Kate

It [managerialism] undermines the ability of state services to help citizens, but empowers it to infantilise us.

We’re discouraged from acting on our own, and forced to bow to experts. Yet systems and fancy talk prevent experts taking substantive action for fear of career, safety, or arbitrary consequences for taking the “wrong” action. In these environments, there are no career prospects for heroes.  Mark Blackham

It used to be that people joined the Labour Party to make their lives better off. Now they join to make someone else’s life better off. – Josie Pagani

If all the new Tory voters wanted was more from the state and more lecturing on how to live their lives, they would have voted for Labour. These voters want a hand up, not a handout. If you give people things and make them reliant upon the state then next time they will vote for those who will give them more things. – Matthew Lesh

. . .It matters because the still-cherished principles of secular humanism, which continue to inspire the multitude of moral arbiters who police social media, come with provenance papers tracing them all the way back to a peculiar collection of Jews and Gentiles living and writing in the Roman Empire of 2,000 years ago. Ordinary human-beings who gathered to hear and repeat the words of a carpenter’s son: the Galilean rabbi, Yeshua Ben-Joseph. Words that still constitute the core of the what remains the world’s largest religious faith –  Christianity.

It matters, also, because, to paraphrase Robert Harris, writing in his latest, terrifying, novel The Second Sleep: when morality loses its power, power loses its morality. Chris Trotter

Whatever the reasons, it saddens me that the spiritual dimension of Christmas has withered as it has. Because the nativity story literally marks the beginning of a faith which, whatever the woke folk may say, is a core piece of our heritage and the foundation of our morals, manners and laws. For that reason alone, it has a place on Christmas DayJim Hopkins


The reason for the season

December 24, 2019

Jim Hopkins remembers Christmases past:

. . . Christmas always stirs strong feelings and vivid memories for me.

I grew up south of the tracks in Christchurch when coal was king and fired the steam trains that thundered through. Dad was the vicar at St Mary’s Addington and, for him, Christmas was one of the most important times of the year.

Which should come as no surprise, though it may do now.

A birth in Bethlehem is, after all, the reason we actually have a Christmas holiday. And that birth used to be an integral part of the celebration.

Recognised in school nativity plays, on the wireless, in newspapers, its story touched most people’s lives.

Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men shared the limelight with Mr Claus and his elves.

Needless to say, the vicar’s offspring took their place in the pews – along with the rest of the community. Service first, pud and presents later. That was the drill.

I can still see the interior of that old church, dark timber beams, dust motes drifting in the light filtered through stained glass windows. I can hear the carols. I can smell the Christmas lillies. These memories return every year, as time grows longer, becoming ever stronger.

But the Christmas I remember is a faded thing. As the churches have lost (or surrendered) their influence, so faith has left the festive season.

Christmas today is a strictly secular affair with scant public recognition of its religious roots. The establishment avoids them and the media simply ignores them.

Bad for business or just old hat, anything biblical is off the agenda. Those who run the fourth estate may argue that’s because fewer people say they’re Christian, to which the reply might be, maybe that’s because you’ve spent decades dismissing their beliefs.

Whatever the reasons, it saddens me that the spiritual dimension of Christmas has withered as it has. Because the nativity story literally marks the beginning of a faith which, whatever the woke folk may say, is a core piece of our heritage and the foundation of our morals, manners and laws. For that reason alone, it has a place on Christmas day. . .

A few days ago I read a media release from a government entity (which I now can’t find) explaining how it’s sensitive to employees who don’t celebrate Christmas.

Fair enough, but sensitivity shouldn’t mean pretending it’s something else, especially when it’s not applied to celebrations for other religions.

No-one pretends that Diwali isn’t a Hindu festival, we’re not asked to skirt round, we shouldn’t be offended if someone wishes us happy Hanukkah so why the pussy-footing around Christmas?

You don’t have to be a Christian to understand and acknowledge the reason for the season.

You don’t have to believe what Christians do.

And Christian or not, we’d all be better off with more reflection on the real message of hope, joy, peace and love.


Diversity without discrimination

October 15, 2019

Voters in the Oamaru ward of the Waitaki District Council were spoilt for choice with a strong field of candidates seeking election.

The successful ones were: Melanie Tavendale, Colin Wollstein, Jeremy Holding, Kelli Milmine, Jim Hopkins and Hana Halalele.

That’s 50% female and the District’s first Tongan councillor.

I don’t live in the ward and so couldn’t vote for them, nor can I speak for anyone who did. But after listening to them speak at the meet-the-candidates and learning more about them after that I would have been happy to vote for them on merit.

Waitkai isn’t the only council to have more diverse representation. Environment Canterbury is younger and gender balanced:

. . . Based on Saturday’s progress results, the new council will have seven women and seven men, a much younger cohort of councillors, and a wide range pf experience in environmental matters. . . 

Bryce Edwards writes:

The results of the local government elections appear to show that New Zealanders are generally supportive of a more diverse range of representatives, having voted in greater numbers for candidates from traditionally under-represented groups.

The elections have therefore modernised our councils in a small but very significant way, helping address some long-standing imbalances in representation. Certainly, when it comes to gender and age, New Zealand’s local authorities have become more diverse over the weekend. In terms of ethnicity, it’s more complicated, and it will take longer to work out whether progress has occurred. 

Talking to the NZ Herald’s Simon Collins, I termed the result “a diversity burst” and stated that a focus on diversity seems “to be the zeitgeist — people are wanting to see greater change in our local representatives.”  – see: Local council elections: ‘Diversity burst’ shatters council old boys’ club. . . 

Are people wanting to see greater change in local representatives or did they want good people who will serve well?

Dare I hope it’s the latter and that it’s a sign of the times that democracy is now delivering more diversity without discrimination because there is a more diverse range of candidates of merit standing?

 

 


Farmers’ stories and silver lining

June 13, 2018

Farmers are fighting back against the anti-farmer, anti farming rhetoric.

The antis are well organised and articulate, but social media gives a voice to those like Farmer Tom:

 

I’m one of those ‘industrial farmers’ that practice ‘intensive farming’; people hate me. I’m also a conservation farmer (#glyphosateisvital) and am part of a family farm; people now love me. Confusing isn’t it? Anyway, here’s what I just wrote on another matter – it makes enlightening reading I think (/hope)…

In the past generation we’ve planted 14 football pitches of trees and woodland, we’ve sown 30 football pitches of pollen & nectar mix for butterflies and bees (a RIOT of colour from April to November), we provide 10 football pitches of mixed seed crops to help overwintering birds get through the ‘hungry gap’ at the end of winter, we’ve restored and maintained 20 ponds and we regularly see snipe across the farm, but especially on our managed wetlands. We’ve seen marked increases in brown hare, skylark, red kites, buzzards, sparrow hawk, hobby, and three species of owl make use of our specialised owl boxes. We have seen earthworm populations increase significantly, and we have managed grassland for rare orchids. Our low-input grazing system mimics the movement of wild herds and we have seen five species of deer increasing across the farm. Our crowning glory in my opinion is the reappearance of the stunning kingfisher, however the prevalence of grey partridges or lapwings or any number of redlist species divides opinion as to the title of greatest success story, and a recent visit from an insect expert revealed a rich insect fauna.

We’ve also grown food for 65 million left wing, right wing, centrists, nazis, and communists, for vegetarians, flexitarians, vegans, and omnivores, for black and white, rich and poor, for women and for those who identify as women, for man and beast, for princes and paupers, for criminals, creatives, and crazies, for townies and bumpkins, for slave and free, for erudite and for those who don’t even know what that means, for immigrants, supremacists, for asylum-seekers, for liberals, free thinkers, and for those who read the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and for those who can’t read. Not bad for a little patch of England eh?

Farmers; keeping you alive since history began, and stewarding our land since conservation was an elaborate way of preserving fruit for application to buttered toast.

Another Farmer, Mark Warren tells the story of going from peasant farmer to present farmer:

Mark Warren was just 24 years old, with a ticket to London and The Big OE in his pocket, when he got the call to take over the old family station in the steep hill country at Waipari in the Hawkes Bay.

“My father said, ‘Oi! The manager’s gone. All the staff are gone. You’re going to have to take over…Make it snappy.’ That was that. I went away for two weeks and came home…to face the music”. . . 

In spite of dyslexia, Mark has published his story in a book: Many a Muddy Morning: Stories From a Life Offroad and on the Land,

And Jim Hopkins sees a silver lining in the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak:

The emotional impact on farmers with animals affected by Mycoplasma bovis may have the unintended side effect of changing the public’s perception of farming.

Rural Raconteur Jim Hopkins spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay saying urban New Zealand will be viewing farmers with much more empathy and sympathy as a result of M. bovis.

Hopkins’ speech was so impassioned and succinct we thought we’d let him do the talking to end today’s show.

“This occurred to me a week or two back when I was listening to you [Mackay] talking to a cocky in South Canterbury who wept on air … I’ve seen farmers on television in the same awfully stressed situation and you feel their pain. But the thing that did occur to me was, this is the first time for two years, that I have seen the other side of farming.

For two years or more, a gullible brainwashed urban media that sort of picks up all the green garbage and feeds it into its audience … has presented farmers as heartless calf-killers and creek polluters … suddenly we see people who are genuinely grief-stricken at the loss of animals, not as economic units but as members of the family, as part of their lives, as individuals.

It occurred to me when I saw that and heard it, I thought – suddenly, an urban audience is seeing farming and farmers in a new and vulnerable and emotional and caring and compassionate light and that’s got to be, long term, a good thing.

It’s a shift in perspective and perception in my view and it’s one that … everyone involved in the sector knows … that farmers … care, but that isolated, insulated urban audience that thinks milk comes in bottles or containers -they haven’t seen that and now they have and I think that’s a fantastic thing.” 

You can hear Jim full speech by clicking on the link above.

The disease is a very high price to pay for an improved perception, and it will be cold comfort for those directly affected, but good can come from bad.


Rural round-up

March 16, 2017

Dear PETA where are you now?

Dear PETA,

Where are you now? In the past week, wildfires have riddled, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Cattle, horses, and numerous other animals are dead or badly burned, not to mention the human lives that were taken trying to save them.

So, I ask you again. Where are you now? You’re always there to tell us how wrong our industry is for raising animals to feed the world. I’ve seen you brand yourselves with hot irons to martyr yourselves for cattle.You are always at the truck stops harassing cattle-pots and at rodeos with your video cameras condemning the industry for its alleged mistreatment of livestock.

Mistreatment? What a joke, just like your organization. People died this week, PETA, right alongside their livestock because they were trying to save them! . . . 

Listen: Jim Hopkins – ‘Every attack on farming is an attack on our standard of living’:

The recent passing of Murray Ball has prompted Jim Hopkins to reminisce about the way New Zealanders used to feel about farming.

Ball’s creations Wal and Dog were indicative of a time when the public regarded farmers in an affectionate manner says Hopkins.

Now times have changed and the perception of farming is at a worryingly low level. . .

Years of work to repair flood damaged farms – Sarah Robson:

Farmers near Auckland say it will take them years to recover from the damage caused by last week’s heavy rain and flooding.

The hill country around Kawakawa Bay near Clevedon has been scarred by slips.

A week on from the first big deluge, there was still debris lodged in fences and riverbanks were scoured where streams had turned into raging torrents.

Auckland deputy mayor Bill Cashmore, who has farmed in the area for decades, said the clean-up was going to take a long time. . . 

Consumer info gives growers power  – Richard Ronnie:

Grower groups must quickly get more knowledge on their consumers’ preferences and buying behaviour before retailers do it for them.

Steven Martina, the chief executive of large Dutch produce supplier The Greenery, gave delegates at this year’s Zespri Momentum conference an insight to latest trends in one of the kiwifruit growers largest export markets.

The Greenery is Zespri’s Dutch distribution partner. It handles 350 produce types globally to all trade levels in 60 countries. . . .

Video competition to highlight environment:

Agrecovery Rural Recycling is offering rural kids the chance to show off their creative skills in a new video competition focussed on the environment.

Individuals or school groups under 18 years of age are challenged to create a 2-5 minute video that demonstrates what they and their families are doing on-property to improve their rural environment.

Examples could include protecting natural areas, improving water quality or animal welfare, waste reduction or recycling; anything that brings environmental benefits. . .

 

 


Eco-socialism replacing social-socialism

July 23, 2014

Jim Hopkins is a regular guest on The Farming Show to add levity but yesterday he got serious about Labour.

The party’s problem, he said, is that the social-socialism on which it was founded has been replaced with eco-socialism.

. . .If  you think about the labour movement globally and historically and socially it emerged out of the industrial revolution and out of the creation of a huge working class that was required to run all the factories and machinery that actually produced the goods that created the industrial revolution and made the world wealthy.

Well that’s past, unfortunately.  That workforce is now either robotic or lives off-shore in China or India and probably  increasingly in the next decade or so  Africa and in my view if you look at the left at the moment the whole thrust of the left has moved from social-socialism if you like to eco-socialism and I think actually that what you’re really seeing is that the Green Party is the new Labour Party and the old Labour Party doesn’t know where to go . . .

The Labour Party started losing its way when it became a vehicle for lots of disparate causes including feminism and gay rights.

It started with group of people who were in the party because they believed in its philosophy and principles and who were united behind those.

It became a collection of different lobby groups using the party to promote their various agenda.

These might not be conflicting but they’re not unifying either and it makes it difficult for the party to be clear about what it stands for.

It won’t advocate socialism . . .  it’s lost and in my view that it doesn’t help in New Zealand that it hasn’t worked out how to integrate the Lange -Douglas government . . . into their current thinking. . .

Ah yes, they still can’t accept those ‘failed’ policies of the 80s and 90s which the Labour-led governments of the noughties railed against but didn’t attempt to change in any substantial way.

Labour has lost its roots and disowns its most successful policies in recent history.

That’s left the party without a strong foundation on which to build – even if it could agree on what it wants to build and how, which it can’t.

That’s created a vacuum which the Green Party is doing its best to fill.

Unfortunately the green is only a shell sheltering red seeds.

Environmental causes are the cover for socialist social and economic agenda – the eco-socialism to which Hopkins referred.

That agenda used to be Labour’s but it’s now outflanked on the left and unable to put a credible case in the centre to attract the swing votes it would need if it’s to lead the next government.

The fertile ground on which is used to sow social socialism has gone and the Green Party has pre-empted its role in eco-socialism.

That does leave a place for a party which is strong on the environment and reasonable on economic and social issues but Labour isn’t likely to sit comfortably there.

Maybe that’s why so many of its policies are backward looking – it’s looked ahead and can’t see a future for itself.


Waitaki District election results

October 12, 2013

The ODT reports Gary Kircher has been elected mayor of the Waitaki District, beating nearest rival Jim Hopkins by about 400 votes.

Eric Spittal polled 1024 votes, while David Wilson received 696 votes, Greg Smith 485, Helen Stead 404 and Fliss Butcher 144. 

Jim Hopkins (3309 votes), Hugh Perkins (3159), Melanie Tavendale (2996), Sally Hope (2932), Peter Garvan (2721) and Colin Wollstein (2648) will represent the Oamaru ward, while Kathy Dennison (583) won the right to represent the Waihemo ward.

William Kingan (906) and Sharyn Price (572) will represent the Corriedale ward.

The voter return rate was 55.43%.

This means long-serving councillor Helen Stead who also stood for mayor missed out on a seat on the council too.


And the mayor is . . .

October 12, 2013

Lianne Dalziel has been confirmed as mayor of Christchurch with 70% of the vote.

Long-serving Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has a new job as mayor of Christchurch after securing around 50,000 votes more than her nearest rival.

In what many regarded as a foregone conclusion Dalziel convincingly won Christchurch’s mayoraty race with around 70,000 votes, preliminary results show.

Her closest rival, Christchurch businessman Paul Lonsdale, got around 22,000 votes. . .

Early results show that Auckland mayor Len Brown will be returned.

. . . A spokesman from Auckland Council confirmed the “progress result” had counted 148,944 votes in favour of Mr Brown.

His closest competitor, John Palino, had earned 98,930 votes. . . .

I will update this post as results come in and welcome your updates in the comments.

UPDATE:

Former Northland  MP John Carter has won the Far North mayoralty from Wayne Brown.

Mr Carter resigned as New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands in July to return to his home in the Far North and contest the mayoralty.

Defeated mayor Wayne Brown, who has served two terms, said he had phoned Mr Carter to offer his congratulations. He said he was sure the former MP would do his best for the Far North – and he is only a phone call away if the new mayor wants any support. . .

Former councillor Sheryl Mai is the new Whanagrai mayor.

. . . Ms Mai won 4897 votes in the preliminary count, more than 1100 ahead of her nearest rival, councillor Greg Martin. . .

Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker has won a second term, beating her nearest rival, Ewan Wilson, by 2770 votes.

Napier has a new mayor – Bill Dalton who gained  more than double the votes of this nearest rival, Roy Sye.

Rachel Reese has made history by becoming Nelson’s first woman mayor, taking the mayoralty by almost 1500 votes from Aldo Miccio.

3pm:

Gary Kircher has won the Waitaki District mayoralty. His biggest rival Jim Hopkins also stood for the council and topped the poll in the Oamaru ward.

Tim Shadbolt has been returned as mayor of Invercargill.

With six terms as mayor, and two previous terms in control at Waitemata City, Shadbolt is the longest-serving mayor in office in the country.. . .

Farmer Mike Havill is the new mayor of the Westland district.

Richard Kempthorne has been returned for a third term as Tasman District Mayor.

Brendan Duffy has won the mayoral race in Horowhenua.

Ross Paterson is Mayor of the Western Bay of Plenty again.

Radio NZ reports:

Matamata-Piako District new mayor is Jan Barnes.

Mayor of South Waikato District Neil Sinclair has been returned to office.

Max Baxter is the new Mayor of Otorohanga District.

Brian Hanna is back as mayor of Waitomo District Council.

Jim Mylchreest replaces Alan Livingston who retired after many years as mayor of Waipa District Council.

Mayor of Hauraki District John Tregidga has been returned for a fourth term.

In Rotorua, former MP Steve Chadwick will take over from three-term mayor Kevin Winters with more than 98 percent of votes counted.

Queenstown Lakes District incumbent Vanessa van Uden has been re-elected as mayor, beating hopeful Al Angus, of Glenorchy, by more than 4500 votes.

Central Otago mayor Tony Lepper has been re-elected.

It was a two-horse race for Central Otago’s mayoralty, and preliminary results show Mr Lepper garnered 4416 votes, while Lynley Claridge drew 2521.

The Southland Times has full results for the province including the news that Gary Tong is the new mayor of the Southland District Council.
Sitting mayor Tracy Hicks was elected unopposed in Gore and Bryan Cadogan was re-elected mayor of Clutha.
Timaru District has a new mayor – Damon Odey.
Claire Barlow has won a second term as mayor of Mackenzie District.
Andrew Judd is the new mayor of New Plymouth after beating incumbent Harry Duynhoven.
South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop and Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke both retained their chains with comfortable majorities.
Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman has been re-elected for a fourth term.
In the Bay of Plenty:

Tauranga’s Stuart Crosby looks set to return as mayor.

Ross Paterson is mayor of the Western Bay of Plenty again.

Mark Boyle has received 3672 votes while Don Thwaites got 2275.

Tony Bonne has been elected mayor of the Whakatane district.

Opotiki voted in John Forbes as mayor of the district council.

Don Cameron is Ruapehu District’s new mayor.

Dave Cull has been returned as mayor of Dunedin.

TV3 has a list of mayors elected from north to south.

Those not already accounted for above are:

GISBORNE: Meng Foon

HASTINGS: Lawrence Yule

WHANGANUI:: Annette Main
MASTERTON: Lyn Patterson (new)
UPPER HUTT: Wayne Guppy
HUTT CITY: Ray Wallace

GREY: Tony Kokshoorn (unopposed)

 


64% undecided

September 16, 2013

An Oamaru Mail poll (not online) shows it’s a two horse race for the Waitaki District mayoralty but 64% of those polled were undecided.

A total of 267 people they called said they were going to vote.

Of those who had decided 13% said they will be voting for Jim Hopkins and 12% for Gary Kircher.

The other five candidates, got combined support of  11%.

I don’t know how many people were called in total nor do I know the margin of error.

But this does confirm what the grapevine is telling me – the race is between Hopkins and Kircher but most people are still undecided as to which they’ll tick.


Meeting the candidates

September 3, 2013

Extra seats had to be brought in to the Opera House’s Ink Box to cope with the crowd at the forum for the seven candidates seeking the Waitaki mayoralty organised by the Otago Chmaber of Comemrce and Otago Daily times last week.

Last night’s forum, organised by the Oamaru Mail, was in the Opera House’s main auditorium and attracted about 200 people. That’s a good crowd in a small town for such an event.

The meeting started promptly at the advertised time of 7pm. Chair Phil Hope said it would finish on the dot of 9pm and it did.

Each candidate was given a couple of minutes to introduce themselves and their vision for the District then had a minute each to answer questions which had been sent in by Mail readers.

Most of the focus was on generalities.

Federated Farmers is organising a forum with a rural focus later in the month.

The seven candidates are Fliss Butcher, Jim Hopkins, Gary Kircher, Greg Smith, Eric Spittal, Helen Stead and David Wilson.

No-one disgraced themselves but I think three showed they didn’t have the knowledge and ability required for the job.

If you were just going on performance last night, I don’t think there was a lot between the other four.

But if the grapevine is reliable there are two front runners – Hopkins, who is the current deputy, and Kircher, a former deputy who stood against the current mayor, Alex Familton,  three years ago.

He made it an all or nothing bid, wasn’t successful and is again standing only for mayor while Hopkins is also standing for council.

Both have different strengths, both have different weaknesses.

One question asked was about economic development.

I regard local government’s role in that as similar to central government’s – it should have policies which make it easy for people to do business, within whatever boundaries are necessary, and leave them to do it.

I don’t think local body politicians and bureaucrats are any better at picking winners than central ones and I don’t want them trying with ratepayers’ money.

At local level, a how-can-we-help council culture rather than a you-have-to-do-this one would be a good start.

Another question asked them what they’d do with their day jobs if they were successful.

All said being mayor would be their day jobs which highlights an issue.

The position of mayor of a geographically large district with a small population (about 20,000 people) and therefore small rating base doesn’t pay much.

Those who hark back to the days when being mayor was part-time and unpaid might say it pays too much.

But if the role has to be a full time one, a lot of people who aren’t retired, don’t have businesses which can run without them, or who have no other income, would think it doesn’t pay enough.


Keeping it in perspective

August 8, 2013

A lot of the media have been referring to the contaminated whey scandal.

On Monday’s Farming Show, Jim Hopkins pointed out that it was a scare not a scandal and Macdoctor adds some more perspective to the issue:

With everyone all abuzz about the latest Fonterra debacle, the MacDoctor thought it may be helpful to inject a little perspective into the situation by comparing it with the SanLu scandal.

SanLu Fonterra
Contaminant: Melamine C. Botulinus
Introduced by: Deliberate, For profit Accidental
Discovered by: Investigation after death of children Routine Investigation
Time taken to public announcement: 5 weeks from confirmation 3 days from confirmation
Number injured 300 000 0
Number hospitalised 54 000 0

Last night’s media release makes the contrast even greater – there was almost no time wasted in making a public announcement.

Contrary to earlier reports, Fonterra didn’t confirm tests until Friday and immediately notified the Ministry of Primary Industries and the public notices followed within hours.

That the company’s inept public relations was responsible for earlier information doesn’t reflect well on it.

Thankfully its food safety standards are considerably better than its initial communication led us to fear.

And for a completely different perspective The Civilian says Chinese media says problem with New Zealand economy is that New Zealand isn’t a ruthless dictatorship:

Chinese media have lashed out at New Zealand this week following the potential contamination of thousands of tins of baby formula by dairy giant Fonterra, saying that it was only able to happen because the country’s economy was not governed by a ruthless authoritarian state willing to terrify its citizens and companies into compliance.

Writing in the China Daily, columnist Huan Bai blamed the recent contamination scare on New Zealand’s “individualist philosophy” which “puts emphasis on personal freedoms ahead of efficiency,” and a laissez-faire economic system that allowed human beings to make choices for themselves, pursue their dreams and be content in their own fallibility without living in continual fear of execution if something goes wrong. . .


Soldiers can’t hide

August 25, 2012

Soldiers serve countries, Assange only himself, Jim Hopkins writes :

Soldiers can’t hide in embassies – though they can be ordered to rescue hostages from them, as the SAS was in Kabul last August. Soldiers can’t make grand speeches from the balcony, safe from capture or attack. They can’t claim diplomatic immunity when it suits or seek the protection of their enemy’s enemy to avoid being brought to book. They can’t recklessly publish whatever they choose, heedless of whom it may harm or betray, then join “the club of the persecuted”. . . 

. . . Soldiers just do what soldiers have always done. They go where they’re sent. And fight when they must. They obey orders, do their duty, as it is given to them, and serve their country’s interests, in wars great and small, sometimes popular, sometimes not.

Because soldiers cannot choose their battlefields, any more than they can hide in embassies. They cannot tell their governments or their commanders they’d rather fight in Florida than in Bamiyan province. They can’t claim diplomatic immunity halfway through a battle or ask their enemies to “renounce” the “witch-hunt”.

What they must do, unlike those who hide in embassies, is confront the very essence of themselves. They must discover every ounce of fear in them and every skerrick of courage too. Because soldiers in Bamiyan, like soldiers on the Somme or on the island of Crete, know they are doing the most dangerous thing that anyone can.

For which they are not well paid. Not when compared with those who run websites and hide in embassies. But there is something every soldier can claim that those who pursue the protection of presidents or seek the sanctity of victimhood will never understand. More clearly than those who choose to hide, soldiers have the measure of themselves. They understand the consequence of choice, the meaning of duty and the character of courage.

Those are not fashionable things in this WikiLeaks age. Better to build a pedestal and put yourself upon it than defend a charge of rape. Better to claim “protection from oppression” than face the music. Better to hide than risk the battle. Better to blame everybody else for your circumstance than confront a lack of courage. . .

Apropos of this, Keeping Stock wonders if there’s a link between Wikileaks and recent action from the Taliban in Afghanistan.

 


Water woes

July 14, 2012

Column of the day by Jim Hopkins:

He starts:

Oh, darn. “Once more unto the beach, dear friends.” Well, not the beach, more like the river, puddle, rill, and stream. But the principle’s the same. And the issue’s the same. And the argument’s the same. And the reaction’s the same. And the reaction to the reaction is the same.

And here we go again – another fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Because we have.

This is our favourite faction replay, the old and festering sore, inflamed by good intentions and false expectations, and it just keeps on keeping on – dragging us back to Groundhog Day over and over again. Although, this time, it’s more Waterhog Day than Groundhog Day. . .

He concludes:

. . . This is something for the Crown to settle, in due and thoughtful course, with those citizens who feel they’re entitled to a specified piece of the water rights action.

Good luck to all involved. But the larger question is what price do those citizens – and their neighbours – pay to achieve that benefit.

Abraham Lincoln said “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In which case, how long can we stand dividing our house against itself? That’s the nub of all these matters. And the matter no tribunal can resolve.

John Key has been accused of dog whistle politics for stating, correctly, that Waitangi Tribunal rulings aren’t binding on the government.

Sadly the bigots have seized on the excuse to voice their opinions.

Funny though, that no-one calls it dog-whistling when those on the other end of the political and race/identity spectrum make equally extreme comments.

What those making the fuss from that side overlook is that the tribunal might find in favour of the government’s stance. They would be quite happy for it to ignore the findings then.

But whatever the tribunal rules and whatever follows, which could well be court action, Lincoln was right about the dangers of continued division.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


First law of escalators

June 23, 2012

Jim Hopkins has come up with a name for a fundamental law of human nature:

. . . You’ve only got to go to a mall or an airport or anywhere with a staircase and an escalator side by side and you’ll see the proof, right in front of you, plain as the schnoz on your face.

For that reason, we’ll call this underlying principle The First Law of Escalators, which is that whenever two or more solutions exist, 90 per cent of us will choose the easiest. . .

But the first isn’t the only one:

But there’s a Second Law of Escalators too, which simply says the first law will always apply – until everything turns to custard, then we’re stuck with the stairs. . ..

Easy come, hard go. Them’s the rules, folks, The First and Second Law of Escalators. . .

For the record, if there’s stairs and an escalator I almost always choose the stairs unless I’m carrying something heavy.

If you meet enough stairs such incidental exercise can make a difference to physical fitness.

But Jim had fiscal and political fitness in mind rather than physical.


The trouble with gummint

May 27, 2012

Quote of the day:

. . . Anybody who insists the gummint should be funding whatever they want funded is someone who’s too scared to ask their neighbours to pay for it of their own accord. Either that, or they have asked their neighbours but couldn’t persuade them.

That’s part of the problem with governments. As soon as you get one, people start thinking of things it can do. And governments are usually keen to oblige. It’s the nature of the beast. . . Jim Hopkins

That’s the trouble with gummint – one person’s assistance is another’s cost and the more that’s given the more that’s demanded as help for those in need creeps in to extra for those in want.

The conundrum is where to draw the line so those in genuine need get what is required without crossing the line to support for those who ought to be able to look after themselves.


Values not just for Anzac Day

May 1, 2012

Quote of the day:

. . . If honour and duty and service and responsibility and courage and unity were values championed every day, this would be a happier, more harmonious and stronger nation.

Rediscovering that language is not just an opportunity for the leaders of our main political parties, it’s an obligation.

If we want a new focus, it’s easily found. The values of Anzac Day are there, waiting. We just need to be brave enough to rediscover them. Age does not weary those values – it’s the rest of the year that condemns us. Jim Hopkins


Best tribute character not words

March 17, 2012

Quote of the day:

The death of Jock Hobbs underscores why people say at funerals that the best tribute we can pay someone is not words but the character of our own lives. Trying to be better is the best way to recognise his life, and that of Owen McShane, whose funeral was on Tuesday.

Owen’s intellect and willingness to challenge the myths of his age were unsurpassed. It’s the measure of a small society that those who should have listened more closely, did not pay Owen greater heed when he was alive. Jim Hopkins


Quote of the day

February 25, 2012

It helps sometimes, before you get seized by the clamour of things and the frenzies of the moment, to pause and consider if the matter at hand deserves your emotional energy. Most things don’t. On any given day, news is a vacuum into which significance must be poured and if whatever’s around isn’t truly significant, then whatever’s available must be made to seem significant.

The trick for us poor stumblebums on the receiving end of a torrent of hyperbole is to sort the wheat from the dross. In an angst-happy world, there’s no point getting all het up and hot and bothered and ringing talkback to say we’ve had a gutsful until we’ve applied a simple test to see if whatever it is we’re having a gutsful about actually deserves the abdominal distendation. . .  Jim Hopkins


Heartland and head land

February 19, 2012

In some parts of the world farming is a subsistence operation.

In others it’s carried out by employees on behalf of absentee landowners.

Here, more often than not farm owners are also farm workers.

They use their hands and get them dirty but they also use their heads and a lot of equipment designed and produced by other people who’ve used their heads.

This point is well-made by Jim Hopkins in his observations on the Southern Field Days:

The buzz from the boffins is that we’ve got to get high tech and whizzy. We must walk the Weta walk and talk the IT talk. Add value, head upmarket, tap into the cyber world. Farming is a sunset industry, old hat, old school, old world, prone to fouling pristine streams with incontinent cows.

There’s no point flogging milk and trees and meat and wool to the world. Commodities are so yesterday!

Except they’re not. They’re still how we pay two-thirds of our bills. And Field Days aren’t merely the heartland doing its thing. They’re also the head land, a place where much of that cutting-edge stuff so beloved of the policy analysts is actually on show. It’s just that they’re not looking.

Innovation and success go hand in hand.

Most farms these days are high-tech work places. The introduction of the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme will make livestock farms even more so.

There is some work that machines and gadgets will never replace on farms, the nature of the business will always require a lot of manual work. But now more than ever successful farms require a lot of head work – on the farm and from the people and businesses which service and supply them – as well.

 

 

 

 


Quote of the day

January 21, 2012

. . .  It is within the state-sustained underclass that the greatest danger to children appears to exist. And even if it is doesn’t, even if it is merely part of a larger problem, it is the part we can influence.

Forget colour. Consider circumstance. Multiple babies, different fathers, transient partners, a lifestyle entirely dependent on benefits paid by state agencies so haunted by the memory of the soup kitchens that they refuse to make anybody “pray” for anything. So they write the cheque and leave the bridge. They don’t stay on board. They don’t come to the rescue. They don’t even know there’s been an accident.

This is not Daniel Moynihan’s infamous “benign neglect”. It is malign neglect, a breech of the duty of care. It is the state failing the most vulnerable, the most helpless, the most dependant of its citizens. If money is paid for the nurture of children, then those who pay it must do everything in their power to ensure those children are nurtured. If they don’t, they are complicit.

There’s nothing wrong with asking people to perform certain tasks in exchange for payment they have freely sought. That’s how the world works. . .  Jim Hopkins


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