Alps 2 Ocean gets funding boost

August 28, 2015

Prime Minister John Key, who is also Minister of Tourism, has  announced a further $935,000 will be invested to help complete the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.

“Once finished, the 310km trail will be a major tourism asset for the Waitaki and Mackenzie Districts, helping attract both local and international visitors to the area,” Mr Key says.

“There is strong support from local tourism operators, and a growing number of international tourists are already using the trail, with an estimated 25 per cent more users in January 2015, compared with the same period last year.

The Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail is one of 23 Great Rides that make up Nga Haerenga – the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

“The Great Rides have proven to be a significant driver of local and international tourism which is helping New Zealand stay on the international map as a top tourist destination,” Mr Key says.

“The trails are also boosting economic growth in the regions with reports from individual trails indicating that more than 1,200 jobs have been created.

“Figures also indicate at least 60 new businesses have been established as a result of the Great Rides being built, and over 40 businesses have expanded their operations to cope with the new demand from cyclists.

“The funding announced today will help build on that success, creating more opportunities for the region and New Zealand as a whole,” Mr Key says.

 This additional funding, made available through the National Cycleway Fund announced in Budget 2015, will bring the total Government contribution to the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail to $3,705,000, and to almost $55 million to construct the trails nationally.

The local community has raised $955,000 of co-funding to contribute to the completion costs.

The 41 km section to be completed will connect Sailors Cutting on the shores of Lake Benmore with Duntroon, meaning users will no longer have to cycle on State Highway 83.

This is great news for the Mackenzie and Waitaki Districts, and the many thousands of people who will use the cycle way.

Cycling on the road is neither safe nor enjoyable.

The cycle way is already providing a financial boost for the districts even though it has yet to be completed.

Neighbours offer homestays in their historic homestead and enjoyed heavy bookings last summer from people using the cycle trail.

Other existing businesses on the route report similar increases in patrons and new businesses have been established to service and supply cyclists.

The A2O cycleway starts near Mount Cook and finishes in Oamaru which Lonely Planet dubbed New Zealand’s coolest town.


The opportunity to change, or not

August 14, 2015

Parliament has voted to give us the opportunity to change our flag, or not:

New Zealanders will have their say in choosing the New Zealand flag after legislation enabling two postal referendums was endorsed by Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

“The passing of the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill, with the support of four Parliamentary parties, will secure New Zealanders their first opportunity ever to vote on the flag that best represents them and our country,” Mr English said.

Ah the hypocrisy of Labour which went in to the election saying it would give us the chance to change the flag, and do so through two referendums exactly as enacted, but voted against the legislation.

The first postal referendum is planned to take place between 20 November and 11 December and will empower voters with the opportunity to rank four alternative designs.

The most-preferred design from that first referendum will then go to a second binding referendum in March, where voters will democratically choose between the status quo and the most preferred alternative flag.

Public discussion on the merits of the flags on the longlist is welcome and appears to be vigorous.

The Electoral Commission is well-advanced in its preparations for the referendums, Mr English said.

Prime Minister John Key puts the case for changing the New Zealand Flag:

You can also listen to him put the case for change to Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick here.

There’s some information on flags of the world here.

And John Lapsley also puts in the case for change in the present flag speaks of another time, country:

I feel quite ill when conscience demands I write a sentence of unqualified praise for our political masters.

But helped by a gumboot shiraz and a Panadol, we man up, and get on with it. Here goes:Despite popular thought to the contrary, the Government has made a first rate job of planning the new flag referendum.

And if you believe it’s wasted $25million boring the populace, you’ll soon be proved spectacularly wrong.

True, the first months of the Flag Consideration Project have been as dull as its name. But that was to be expected while they did the dreary spade work of research and consultation. Things don’t get interesting until we set eyes on the possible new flags.

That’s now about to happen. This month the project’s panel of luminaries releases its ”long list” of 50 plus flags winnowed from 10,000 odd entries. (So much for alleged disinterest.)

After a month’s public palaver, they produce a four flag shortlist. Before Christmas the nation will vote to choose one that runs against the present flag in a March referendum.

Come the new year, you won’t escape the pub or the proctologists’ ball without a flag argument. It will be the media’s subject du jour. Talkback jocks will jabber. There will be no place to hide, as we enjoy democracy at its most glorious.

I was listening to talkback on Tuesday, the day after the long-list was announced, and the flag was the major topic.

Let me nail my colours to the mast. I’m for a new flag. I respect our present one, but it speaks of another country – the very different New Zealand of the past. It symbolises origins we’ve grown beyond.

The blue Southern Cross flag with its dominating Union Jack, is our third. We were just a British colony when it was introduced in 1902, but soon to become (dear God) a ”dominion” – from the Latin ”Dominium”, meaning a country subject to another’s ruler.

We may find the term insulting, but our great grandparents didn’t. In 1902, nearly half had wet their first nappy in the British Isles. (Today’s UK born figure is just 4%.) I recall my own grandparents’ wistful immigrant speak about ”mother country” and ”home”.

My mother, a third generation New Zealander who had never been further than Australia, also spoke of Britain as home in the 1960s, though if I recall correctly not after she’d been there in the 1970s.

Until the 1950s, much of our art and literature was obsessed with a great puzzle – what it really meant to be a New Zealander.

Mired in culture cringe, and in awe of anything London, a Union Jacked flag seemed properly parental to a country whose nationhood was still in short pants.

That parent turfed us out of home in 1973 when it joined the European Economic Community, and left us high and dry. Yet our old master’s insignia still sits proud – top left on our flag.

We hear three main arguments for keeping this flag.

It’s claimed change would dishonour servicemen who died fighting for the flag. This is nonsensical – the Kiwis we honour on Anzac Day died serving their country. I doubt the flag crossed their minds.

Some Maori fought under the Union Jack in the land wars, some fought against people fighting under it.

The 1900 medal commemorating the Boer War shows a version of the United Tribes’ flag and New Zealanders fought under the Union Jack in World War I.

It is argued that removing the Union Jack somehow disrespects the country’s Queen. Well, actually, it doesn’t, and the Queen has her own distinctive Royal Standard. The Union flag is her country’s banner.

I hadn’t heard that argument but most other Commonwealth countries have changed their flag without in any way disrespecting the monarch.

The third argument for the status quo is that the flag is historic. That’s true, but also the core of the problem. The flag tells the world the British part of our history remains paramount to us today.

And this is a flag adopted when the colony still excluded Maori from its main census count – a flag which ignored and obliquely insulted our Polynesian past. Yes, it’s that far out of touch.

Fiji is about to remove the Union Jack from its flag, leaving only three of the 49 self governing Commonwealth countries that keep it – us, Australia and those parts of Tuvalu which remain above water. It’s right to value the British part of New Zealand’s heritage.

But it’s wrong that in 2015 we keep a different, distant, country’s flag as the most eye catching feature of our own.

This denigrates us, and it does it very directly. Our country has built its own identity. It’s time our flag reflected it.

I won’t definitely commit to voting for change until I know which of the new designs I’d be voting for.

But I am open to the idea of changing our current flag which recognises only part of our past:

 The Union Jack in the top left-hand corner of the Flag recognises New Zealand’s historical foundations as a former British colony and dominion.

And was designed in Australia to feature Crux Australis (the Southern Cross) by a man who’d never set foot in New Zealand, for a former Queensland governor who was just passing through.

I’d prefer one which is recognisably ours, that may or may not acknowledge the past, and does reflect New Zealand now and where we want to go.

And I am excited about the idea of a flag that is chosen by us.

How many other governments have trusted their people to choose their own flag or vote against change which will be an option in the second referendum?


Rural round-up

August 12, 2015

Corker porker stalkers thwarted – Mark Price:

Hunters tempted to ”farm” wild deer or pigs before hunting competitions are likely to be out of luck at the Upper Clutha Deerstalkers Association competition later this month.

The association, which is holding its popular annual competition for the third time, has changed its rules, mainly to encourage more interest in hunting among women and children.

But the changes also aim to sideline hunters who manipulate the competition process by allowing wild deer or pigs to graze crops on farmland over the winter. . .

Ambitious project still growing – Lynda van Kempen:

An international curling rink in Naseby? It seemed a lofty goal more than 15 years ago, but a decade on from its opening the facility is still going strong and exceeding all expectations.

”People seeing it for the first time tend to be a bit bemused at finding a facility of this standard in the middle of what they call nowhere – but what we call the centre of the universe,” Maniototo Curling International (MCI) rink manager Ewan Kirk says. . .

US beef cow repopulation – the rebuild begins:

After the drought-induced decline in the US beef cow herd in recent years, the industry is making a mends and rebuilding its depleted numbers, with expectations to grow by more than three million head in the next three-to-five years.

With around 50 per cent of New Zealand’s beef exports destined for the US, the rebuilding of the US cow herd may impact the strong demand for Kiwi beef seen in recent years, according to Rabobank. . .

Zespri opens Singapore office:

Prime Minister John Key has officially opened Zespri’s new sales and marketing hub in Singapore, which has been set up to manage the kiwifruit industry’s growth.

Zespri chair Peter McBride says it was an honour to have the Prime Minister open the new office.

“Volumes of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit are set to grow strongly in the next few years and Zespri is investing in its market capability to deliver this growth for New Zealand growers,” he says. . .

The Internet of Stings: WiFi for your beehive:

New Zealand based beekeeping technology company, Hivemind Ltd, have released a new WiFi beehive scale and smartphone app that will allow urban beekeepers, bee educators and researchers, to better monitor their bees and more easily share their knowledge about these vitally important pollinators. A crowdfunding campaign for the product is currently live on the indiegogo platform here: www.indiegogo.com/at/wifibees

The importance of bees in our environment is a highly topical and important issue gaining increasing coverage. Beekeeper and hive numbers are continuing to increase in New Zealand with over 5000 registered in 2014.  . .

 

Game on for children to raise farm safety awareness:

A new free online farm safety game that children can play on smartphones, computers and tablets is the latest innovation in the quest to improve farm safety.

Industry body DairyNZ’s cowbassador, Rosie the Cow, has teamed up with WorkSafe and ACC to create Farm Rules!, an engaging way for primary school children to learn about the risks involved with certain farm activities and how to minimise or avoid them. . .

You can download the game here.

 


False friends to farmers

August 12, 2015

In the bad old days a downturn in dairy prices would have led to government “doing something”.

Whether that something would be the right thing is moot.

Thanks to the “failed” policies of the 80s and 90s, the economy adjusts without intervention as Finance Minister Bill English pointed out in Question Time yesterday.

A drop in revenue of this magnitude in the dairy sector will have flow-on effects to the wider economy because the dairy sector makes up about 20 percent of New Zealand’s exports and around 5 to 6 percent of the total economy. The automatic stabilisers, though, are providing support to the dairy industry and to the benefit of other industries. For instance, the New Zealand dollar is down 25c against the US dollar for the last 12 months, and this underpins the returns of all exporters, not just those dealing with low prices. The Reserve Bank has cut interest rates, the overnight cash rate, to 3 percent and indicated this may fall further. The Reserve Bank’s most recent forecasts of the economy show that the economy is growing around 2.5 percent a year, which is solid, sustainable growth. . .

During the ag-sag of the 1980s, when all farming was really in crisis, we were paying more than 25% for seasonal finance and mortgage rates weren’t much lower.

The wider economy was doing badly too, with inflation raging.

James Shaw : Has the Minister of Finance received any reports that show that the New Zealand economy will face a $7 billion hole as a result of low dairy prices, and what specific measures is he putting in place to ensure that distressed dairy farmers are supported through this commodity price crash?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Yes, I have seen those reports and I am pleased the member asked about them. In order to understand the context of this, that $7 billion reduction is a reduction on nominal GDP of over $220 billion. When you look at it that way, you can see that it is going to have a negative effect on the economy, but a containable effect, and we can continue to grow at moderate rates. In respect of dairy farmers in distress, Governments have had in place for some time measures for those families that are in severe financial distress, but generally the Government would not be looking to financially support dairy farmers because of low prices.

James Shaw : Does he regret telling Radio New Zealand in March that the concentration of capital in dairying was “not a bad thing”, and how will he now ensure that this over-allocation of resources into one sector does not now put out of work thousands of farm labourers, retailers, contractors, and suppliers who all rely on dairy farms?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The flow of capital into the dairy industry has been based on a longer-term confidence that across the Asia-Pacific region the fast-growing class of middle-income consumers will show more demand for dairy and other protein products. That is a view of the world that is not really disputed by anyone in particular. In the short term, however, the reduction in income will of course have an impact on employment directly on dairy farms, but also in the supporting towns and services. The measures announced by Fonterra last week and the positive indications from the banks that they will finance cash flow for dairy farmers over the next 12 months mean that it will not be as bad as the straight drop in income indicates, because dairy farmers have to spend $4.50 a kilo just to get the milk on the truck.

Tim Macindoe : What implications do recent developments in the international economy have for New Zealand’s economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Although there are risks in the global economy, it is evident that growth in our trading partners is holding up reasonably well—in the range of 3 percent to 4 percent. When we look back through the history of New Zealand’s growth patterns, it is reasonably clear that when our trading partners are growing at that kind of rate—3 to 4 percent—that is a positive indicator for sustainable, moderate growth in New Zealand of around 2 percent to 2.5 percent, which is our long-term trend growth rate.

James Shaw : Given his previous answer that investment in dairying was based on a long-range view of the sector, what work has he done to understand whether the dairy price collapse is actually a structural long-term change in the market rather than a cyclical short-term change?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : We try to make an assessment about that, the same as everyone else. It is pretty evident, though, that no one is quite sure. It is likely that dairy prices will not go back to $8 a kilo. In fact, it may well be not a bad thing because what is evident is that the price going that high has stimulated not just positive supply but probably excess supply. No one quite knows the answer to that question, but talking to the people whose capital investment is at stake and whose livelihoods are at stake, they maintain confidence that prices will rise from where they are—in fact, they have to, because they are below the cost of production—and they maintain a positive view about where they put their investment.

Grant Robertson : Has the Minister of Finance seen this report about the economy under his watch, which features a boat that has run aground?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Yes, I have, and I thought how similar it is to the fate of the Labour Party. [Interruption] . . .

Hon BILL ENGLISH : In the interest of assisting the vice-great helmsman, as I understand it, that is the Westpac Economic Overview, and I note that its forecasts are for between 2 percent and 2.5 percent growth over the next 3 years, despite the fact that it says there is going to be a recession. .

But the Green co-leader still thinks it’s up to the government to do something.

James Shaw : Is he aware that organic milk powder commands up to six times the price premium of conventional milk powder on international markets, and will he turn this crisis into an opportunity by helping move more dairy farmers into organic milk production?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : If the member is correct that farmers can earn six times as much by selling their milk as they earn from organic milk, then I am quite sure they will.

So far organic milk hasn’t got much traction, but if there really is that sort of opportunity it’s up to farmers and processors to make the most of it without interference from politicians.

James Shaw : When he says that this is not a crisis and that dairy is just 5 percent of the economy, is he saying that when the All Blacks lose it just does not matter because they are one of thousands of sports teams playing over the weekend, many of which are winning?

Mr SPEAKER : In so far as there is ministerial responsibility, the Hon Bill English.

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Clearly, the Greens like New Zealanders being able to watch the All Blacks lose, but they do not them to be able to watch them win in the Rugby World Cup. I mean, when people use the word “crisis”, well, the Opposition should explain what that means. If those members think it means that dairy farmers are sitting around with their heads in their hands, paralysed by low prices, then they are wrong. Actually, they are getting up every morning, going out into the cold, wet weather, doing the calving, milking the cows, and spending the money they need to get their production moving and get their product to world markets. Calling it a crisis seems to me to be particularly useless. In fact, it downgrades the resilience and the responsiveness of not just the dairy sector but households right across New Zealand to a bit of economic pressure, which they can handle.

It’s the sad reality of Opposition to try to make the bad times worse. Thankfully most dairy farmers are too busy with calving to hear them.

3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that New Zealand is on the “cusp of something special”; if so, was that “something special” rising unemployment along with plummeting dairy prices?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, I stand by that statement, for two reasons. The first is that I am positive and aspirational for New Zealand—

Hon Members : Ha, ha!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : —unlike some people who are always talking the country down. But, actually, the second reason I stand by that statement is that I made that statement on a couple of occasions during debates in the 2014 general election, and we were on the cusp of something special: the worst pounding the Labour Party had ever had—

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Andrew Little : Given that the number of people who are unemployed has risen by 13,000 and that unemployment in Taranaki alone is now at 7 percent, and there are hundreds set to join them due to major job cuts announced recently, is it not the truth of it that he is sending more and more families to the cusp of poverty?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, the Government has created—along with the people of New Zealand, of course—148,000 jobs over the last 2 years. But I note that the Labour Party has an interest all of a sudden, apparently, in farming. So when prices go up, it is nothing to do with the Government; when prices go down, it is everything to do with the Government! Those members are not asking: “Why are beef prices high? Is that the responsibility of the Government?”. But I make this simple point: the Labour Party wanted to put a huge number of costs on farmers. That was its policy during the election.

Andrew Little : Given that Westpac says that there will be no more job growth this year, and the economy has grown at just a quarter of the expected rate, has he not driven the economy to the cusp of a recession?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : If the member goes and reads the Westpac report, the glimpse that I had a look through, it showed that growth will be between 2 percent and 2.5 percent over the next 3 years.

Andrew Little : Why has he failed to invest in diversifying the economy, neglected regional infrastructure, and turned a blind eye to the 35,000 jobs lost in manufacturing since 2008?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member needs to get out a bit more—it is as simple as that. If you go around New Zealand and have a look at what is happening around New Zealand, you will see just how diversified the economy is. Tourism spending alone is up over 20 percent from last year, at over $8 billion. The information and communications technology sector is doing well. Kiwifruit growing is back from the lows of Psa. Beef farming is doing extremely well. Horticulture is doing well around New Zealand. Manufacturing—for 33 months in a row the performance of manufacturing index has been expanding. The services sector, export education—the only people who think the economy is solely dairy are in the Labour Party, and it wanted to tax those people— . . .

Little tried again.

Andrew Little : Given that dairy farm prices have already fallen by 18 percent since peaking last October, what preparations has his Government undertaken for dealing with increased sell-offs by insolvent farmers who cannot make ends meet with dairy prices so low?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : What we have done over the course of the last 7 years, after straightening out the mess we inherited from Labour and with our very strong economic management, is to make the economy more efficient and more productive. Here is a bunch of things that we have not done: we have not brought the emissions trading scheme in straight away, we have not put a large tax on water irrigation, we have not put a capital gains tax on every farm, we have not increased the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage, and we have not taken money out of the Primary Growth Partnership. We are in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Labour Party—

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : —is claiming it is the farmers’ friend. They were the policies it took to the election.

Andrew Little : What is the Government’s response to the reports that, contrary to Bill English’s claims, the banks are already forcing mortgagee sales on indebted farmers, and what is to stop more of these farms being bought by overseas investors?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, I am sure that the banks will work closely with farmers, as they typically do, because there is approximately $35 billion worth of debt, I think, sitting on dairy farms. One of the things the bankers will be sitting there and looking at is they will be looking at the policies of the National-led Government, which has supported the farmers; they will be looking at the proposed policies of Labour, which is anti-farmers; and they will be saying “Thank goodness National is in Government.”

The Opposition parties are trying to act like farmers’ friends but you don’t need a long memory to know they’d be false friends.

This time last year they were in campaign mode threatening to add all sorts of taxes, increase compliance costs and complexity and generally make farming less profitable, more difficult and less enjoyable.

And while they keep saying the government should do something about the payout  I haven’t heard  a single farmer echo them.

 


August 9 in history

August 9, 2015

48 BC Battle of Pharsalus – Julius Caesar decisively defeated Pompey at Pharsalus and Pompey fled to Egypt.

378 Gothic War: Battle of Adrianople – A large Roman army led by Emperor Valens was defeated by the Visigoths. Valens and more than half his army were killed.

681 Bulgaria was founded as a Khanate on the south bank of the Danube.

1173 Construction of the Tower of Pisa began.

1483 Opening of the Sistine Chapel.

1631 John Dryden, English Poet Laureate, was born (d. 1700).

1814  Indian Wars: The Creek signed the Treaty of Fort Jackson, giving up huge parts of Alabama and Georgia.

1842  Webster-Ashburton Treaty was signed, establishing the United States-Canada border east of the Rocky Mountains.

1854  Henry David Thoreau published Walden.

1862  Battle of Cedar Mountain – General Stonewall Jackson narrowly defeated Union forces under General John Pope.

1877 Battle of Big Hole – A small band of Nez Percé Indians clash with the United States Army.

1892 Thomas Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph.

1896  Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologist, was born (d. 1980)

1899  P. L. Travers, Australian author, was born  (d. 1996).

1902  Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark were crowned King and Queen of the United Kingdom.

1908 The Great White Fleet – 16 American battleships and their escorts, under the command of Admiral C. S. Sperry – arrived in Auckland.

US 'Great White Fleet' arrives in Auckland

1922 Philip Larkin, English poet, was born (d. 1985).

1925  Kakori train robbery.

1930 George Nepia played his last test for the All Blacks.

George Nepia plays last All Blacks test

1936  Games of the XI Olympiad: Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the games becoming the first American to win four medals in one Olympiad.

1942 Mahatma Gandhi was arrested in Bombay by British forces, launching the Quit India Movement.

1942 Battle of Savo Island – Allied naval forces protecting their amphibious forces during the initial stages of the Battle of Guadalcanal are surprised and defeated by an Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser force.

1944  The United States Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council release posters featuring Smokey Bear for the first time.

1944 Continuation war: Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive, the largest offensive launched by Soviet Union against Finland during Second World War, ended in strategic stalemate. Both Finnish and Soviet troops at Finnish front dug to defensive positions, and the front remained stable until the end of the war.

1945  The atomic bomb, “Fat Man“, was dropped on Nagasaki. 39,000 people were killed outright.

1949 Jonathan Kellerman, American writer, was born.

1961 John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

John Key, in a visit to Brazil, 2013

1963  Whitney Houston, American singer and actress, was born (d. 2012).

1965  Singapore seceded from Malaysia and gained independence.

1965  A fire at a Titan missile base near Searcy, Arkansas killed 53 construction workers.

1969  Members of a cult led by Charles Manson brutally murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Polish actor Wojciech Frykowski, men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring, and recent high-school graduate Steven Parent.

1971  Internment in Northern Ireland: British security forces arrested hundreds of nationalists and detain them without trial in Long Kesh prison. Twenty people died in the riots that followed.

1974  Richard Nixon became the first President of the United States to resign from office. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, became president.

1977  The military-controlled Government of Uruguay announced that it will return the nation to civilian rule through general elections in 1981 for a President and Congress.

1993  The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan lost a 38-year hold on national leadership.

1999 Russian President Boris Yeltsin fired his Prime Minister, Sergei Stepashin, and for the fourth time fired his entire cabinet.

1999  The Diet of Japan enacted a law establishing the Hinomaru and Kimi Ga Yo as the official national flag and national anthem.

2001  US President George W. Bush announced his support for federal funding of limited research on embryonic stem cells.

2006 – At least 21 suspected terrorists were arrested in the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot in the UK.

2007  Emergence of the Financial crisis of 2007-2008 when a liquidity crisis resulted from the Subprime mortgage crisis.

2014 – Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot and killed by a police officer, sparking protests and unrest in the city.

Sourced from NZ History Online &  Wikipedia


One opportunity this century

August 6, 2015

Prime Minister John Key has accepted a challenge from MoreFM breakfast host Simon Barnett to make his case for a change of the New Zealand flag in six minutes this morning at 7:40 a.m.

If he needs inspiration, Mahe Drysdale has provided it:

I have raced under the current flag, I have led the New Zealand Olympic team into the Opening ceremony in 2008 and closing ceremony in 2012 carrying the current flag and I have had the flag raised with the national anthem played at 5 World Championship and the Olympic games and been photographed numerous times holding the flag.

From that you might think the current flag is pretty special to me! Well it has been a big part of my celebrations over the years but I don’t race for the flag, I race for New Zealand and the people of New Zealand. The flag represents us as a nation it identifies our nation and if it’s the current flag or a new one I will continue to proudly represent New Zealand under either.

My issue with the current flag is, I don’t think it truly represents who we are and how we have evolved as a nation since the current flag was adopted over 100 years ago in 1902. We are now in the minority of countries of former British dominions that still has a flag with the union flag (jack) in its flag.

Whether you agree with the referendum about changing the flag or not, doesn’t really matter. It is going to happen and so I encourage everyone in New Zealand to have a good think about it and make your opinion count. If you truly like the current flag, vote for it. Personally I think we can do better and this is an opportunity that may never happen again in our lifetime to choose a flag that is distinctly New Zealand, represents us and we can all be proud of. Lets not be scared of change.

It’s more than a century since the current flag was adopted, we won’t get another chance to vote on whether or not to change it for a similar length of time.

Personally I like the Southern Cross, I like the Silver Fern, I like the Koru, I like the Kiwi to me these are symbols New Zealanders can identify with and represent New Zealand as a country. I do get annoyed overseas when people can’t distinguish us from the Aussies, as they don’t know that we have red stars and they have white ones. I believe we have moved on from being governed by the UK so it would be a good time to show our independence by dropping the union Jack from our flag.

As for colours red, white and blue, they are UK colours, again I like black and white they are our national colours, blue at a stretch due to the large amount of sky and sea we have. People say black and white is too much like Isis, I say rubbish I think people can tell the difference between a flag with Arabic writing and a kiwi symbol, plus we can’t let a terror group control what colours we use. Those are my personal views but again its up to all the people of the nation to decide what they like best.

The best example I can think of is the Canadian flag, again when this changed to the current flag back in the 1960’s it was highly controversial, but I think it is now a striking flag with the red and white (national colours) and maple leaf (national symbol) it is very easy to identify it’s the Canadian flag and I certainly don’t hear anyone complaining about it any more.

I have heard various views from our veterans and the RSA regarding why we can’t change the flag, as its disrespectful to those that fought under the flag. I hugely value what all veterans have done for our country and what they have sacrificed for people like myself. I certainly don’t wish to disrespect them or their views but I have two points here.  One by fighting for us they insured we didn’t end up having the German or Japanese flag and they have given us the ability to live in a democracy where the people of the country get to make decisions like what flag we want to represent us as a nation. Secondly and again I don’t wish to belittle what they have done in any way, as they certainly made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.  But I don’t buy the argument that they fought for the flag, I believe they fought for the nation, the great people that live in New Zealand and because they believed in our nation, not because they liked the flag. We aren’t after all dishonoring the current flag, just discussing if its time for a make over, the current flag will always be a big part of our history.

New Zealanders didn’t fight under our flag in WWI, they fought under the British one.  New Zealand soldiers did, and still do, wear a fern and those who died in service have a fern on their graves.

So this leads me back to the referendum, at around $26 million this seems like an expensive exercise. The thing is though, whether you agree or not, it is happening. So lets make it worthwhile. It will be a waste of money if everyone says I don’t care and doesn’t think about it.

It is a lot of money over a couple of years, but not nearly as much spread across more than a century since the current flag was adopted and a similar time before there is likely to be another chance for us to vote on the matter.

The decision to spend the money has been made, the waste will be if people close their minds and refuse to engage in the process.

Lets all put our heads together, really think about it and decide if you truly think our current flag represents us as a nation in 2015 and going forward for generations. Or is it time to change and use this once in a lifetime opportunity to come up with something we can all be proud of. A flag that stands out and uniquely identifies us. Personally I believe kids under the official voting age should have a say in this referendum, they are after all the ones who will have to live with it for the longest!

Personally I hope there is a change option that I can identify with and I like more than the current flag, either way the people of New Zealand get to make the decision and I will proudly represent our nation under whatever flag the nation decides, I just hope it will be one like the Canadian flag that has our national colours and some unique Kiwi symbol(s).

Mike Hosking agrees:

. . . My gut is the new design must contain the fern. The same way the Canadians respond to the maple leaf, if there is one thing that is instantly recognisable all over the world that is ours, it’s the fern.

But let’s at least start to take this thing seriously, those of us who have laughed or joked or questioned the very existence of this whole process (like me). Let’s at least accept it’s here, it’s real and once they get to the pointy end of the choice, let’s put a bit of weight around our place in the world and the role a flag plays in that.

What we want to say about ourselves, what sort of course we want to chart, what sort of message we want to send.

Mahe is right – this is a once in a lifetime chance. We squander it at our peril.

The Flag Consideration panel had more than 10,292 designs submitted from which they will choose the four we will vote on.

Several have a silver fern and four stars, among them is this one which I like:

flag (640x320)

Designed by: Kyle Lockwood from Nelson

Suggested by: Andrew Whelan from Nelson

I believe the Silver fern is central to our nation’s identity and deserves pride of place on our flag. In war, in sport and in commerce it is the symbol of our country that has outlived all others, and under which we all unite regardless of cultural or ethnic differences. I think black has also become an important part of our identity, and this version of Kyle’s flag allows the black to celebrate the southern cross flying in our clear night sky while still allowing for a touch of colour, and retaining a little of the red, white and blue of its predecessor.

 Lockwood has another variation on this flag with the black and blue reversed.

. . . Black has been a gazetted official New Zealand colour since at least 1975, along with red and white, and the colour blue features on our official coat of arms and, of course, our present flag which was made official in 1902.

The colours black, red, white and blue were also on New Zealand’s first home grown flag design of 1834.

Black also featured strongly on New Zealand war service medals, given to our brave soldiers after World War Two, it is a significant colour to Maori, and features on the Maori National Flag of New Zealand made official in 2011. . .

Contrary to popular belief the silver fern did not start out as a rugby football symbol, it actually was first worn by New Zealand troops in 1853, and in the 1880s was adopted by our rugby team, firstly as a gold fern on a navy blue Jersey. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the silver fern on an all‐black jersey became well known.

Like the maple leaf to Canada, the silver fern ‘screams New Zealand’, and it’s not just a mere sports symbol. In far off fields lie our soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, forever memorialised under the silver fern.

The fern is on our army and navy logos, our firefighter and police uniforms, it’s on our money, it’s on our passports, it’s on our national airliners, it’s our symbol and it’s time we put it on our flag.

In examining our history and growing sense of national identity, it appears that many would like to include our famous national colour black, and of course many others would not like to see a fully black flag with all the piracy connotations that it invokes.

Perhaps this flag, with a nod to our past, incorporating all of New Zealand’s national colours and the fern, is the design that best represents New Zealand ‐ without the colonial overtones of the Union flag that takes up the dominant position on our present flag.

And, like the flags of Belgium and South Africa, it also doesn’t suffer from an overuse of black.

Black is our obvious national colour. It represents the pride and strength of New Zealand. To Māori, black represents potential, and signifies the beginning of time, which is apt, given our position as one of the first nations to see the new day.

The colour blue, representing the pacific, and our clear skies, along with the traditional New Zealand Southern Cross in red, gives this proposed national flag the required vibrancy that a silver fern on an entirely black background cannot achieve. By incorporating the Southern Cross and colours from our present flag, I believe the design also honours our history.

The fern says New Zealand in a way the current flag doesn’t:

Why change the flag? New Zealand needs a flag which is instantly recognisable – so our troops don’t have to add a black-and-white Kiwi beneath a camouflaged flag so that they’re not confused for Australian or British soldiers.

Change the NZ Flag's photo.


NZ open for business and people

July 27, 2015

Prime Minister John Key today used his speech to the National Party conference yesterday to reiterate his Government’s commitment to an open economy which embraces free trade and immigration.

. . . Earlier generations could never have imagined the global opportunities opening up for New Zealand.
I want to lead a country that embraces those opportunities.
An open and confident country that backs itself on the world stage.
As I’ve said many times, we won’t get rich selling things to 4.5 million New Zealanders.
But we could by selling to 4.5 billion people overseas.
Our Party supports strong international connections.
We value the benefits that free trade agreements deliver and the opportunities they offer.
I back our farmers, our manufacturers, our ICT companies and in fact all our export industries to succeed.
If we can get an equal crack at world markets, we’re up there with the best in the world.
That opportunity is what free trade is about for New Zealand.
When the previous Government, with the full support of National, signed a free trade agreement with China in 2008, our annual exports to that country totalled $2.5 billion.
Since then, they’ve quadrupled and China is now our biggest trading partner.
That FTA has had huge benefits for New Zealand.
Just a few months ago, I was in Seoul to witness Tim Groser signing another free trade agreement – this time with Korea.
When that agreement comes into force, half our exports to Korea will immediately be tariff-free, and almost all the rest will follow.
I can tell you that the kiwifruit growers of Te Puke are going to be delighted when the 45 per cent tariffs they currently face are finally removed.
We’re also in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
TPP has been a big focus for our Government.
A successful conclusion will mean a trade agreement with a number of countries, including the giant economies of the United States and Japan.
This is something that successive governments in New Zealand, of both stripes, have been actively pursuing for many years.
That’s because it will mean better deals for Kiwi producers and exporters, better access to world markets, and better prospects for growing those markets in the future.
It will help diversify the economy through a broader range of trade and investment relationships.
And it will flow through to higher incomes and more jobs for New Zealanders.

The ability to export freely and earn the returns from exports unhampered by tariffs and other protective measures is one part of our international connectedness.

Immigration is the other.

New Zealand’s connectedness with the world is also about people coming to New Zealand to live and work.

Immigration benefits New Zealand because people coming here provide more of the labour, skills, capital and business links we need to grow.
A lot of people coming to New Zealand settle here in Auckland.
But as I go around other parts of New Zealand, mayors and employers often tell me they can’t get enough workers of the type local businesses need.
Southland, for example, is always crying out for workers in the dairy sector.
Across the whole South Island, in fact, the unemployment rate is a very low 3.6 per cent.
I can assure people that New Zealanders will always be first in line for jobs. That will not change.
And Auckland, as our largest city, will continue to grow.
But I believe we can do a better job of matching the needs of regions with available migrants and investors.
So today I’m announcing some changes to our immigration settings.
The first is aimed at encouraging people who come to New Zealand as skilled migrants to take up jobs in in the regions.
Around 10,000 skilled migrants get residence each year, together with their family members, and almost half of them come to Auckland.
We want to balance that out a bit, by attracting more people into other parts of the country to help grow local economies.
Currently, skilled migrants with a job offer get 10 extra points if that job is outside Auckland, and those points count towards the 100 they require.
From 1 November, we will treble that, and give them 30 extra points.
In return, they’ll have to commit to a region for at least 12 months – up from the current requirement of three months.
New Zealand also needs entrepreneurs to start new businesses, expand existing firms and create jobs.
So the second change we’ll make is to encourage entrepreneurs wanting to come to New Zealand to look for business opportunities in the regions.
Last year we launched an Entrepreneur Work Visa, targeting migrants who offer high-level business experience, capital and international connections.
Currently, people applying for this visa get 20 extra points if they set up a business outside Auckland, and that counts towards the 120 they require.
From 1 November, we will double that to 40 extra points.
Immigration New Zealand expects to approve up to 200 people next year under this visa.
With the changes we’re making, we expect to see most of these entrepreneurs setting up or growing businesses outside Auckland and creating new jobs across the country.
The third change I’m announcing will help employers find out faster whether New Zealanders are available to fill a particular vacancy, before they lodge a visa application with Immigration New Zealand.
From 1 November, they’ll be able to contact Work and Income directly to check availability.
This is a small measure, but it’s been really appreciated by employers in Queenstown and we’re extending it across the country.
The fourth announcement I want to make today is that the Government intends to provide a pathway to residence for a limited number of long-term migrants on temporary work visas in the South Island.
These people and their families have been in New Zealand for a number of years.
Their children are at schools. Their families are valuable members of their communities. And they are conscientious workers paying their taxes.
Their employers want to hold onto them because there aren’t enough New Zealanders available.
Around 600 overseas workers in lower-skilled occupations in the South Island have been rolling over short-term work visas for more than five years.
We envisage offering residency to people in this sort of situation, who commit to the South Island regions where they’ve put down roots.
We’ll set out the details of this pathway early next year.
Finally, the Government will consider a new global impact visa.
This would be targeted at young, highly-talented and successful technology entrepreneurs and start-up teams, who want to be based in New Zealand, employ talented Kiwis and reach across the globe.
There’s been quite a bit of interest in this idea and we’re going to look at it carefully over the next few months.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Taken together, the changes I’ve announced today will contribute to a better balance in our immigration settings.
They will help spread the benefits of migration across the country, particularly in those regions crying out for workers, skills and investment.
As I said earlier, we need to be more connected with the world, because that’s where our opportunities come from.
This is just one small part of that approach.
We’ll also continue to press on with free trade agreements, build stronger investment links, and embrace the openness and connectedness that characterises successful countries in the 21st Century. . .

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said:

. . . “Thousands of people from all over the world are moving to New Zealand because it is a good place to live, work and raise a family,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Those people make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s economic growth by providing skills, labour and capital we need, along with valuable cultural and business links.

“New Zealanders will always be first in line for jobs and that won’t change,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Currently, many new migrants settle in Auckland, which faces infrastructure challenges as it transforms into a truly international city. At the same time, business owners in other parts of New Zealand often struggle to find enough skilled workers to meet their demands.

“While there are already incentives to encourage migrants to move to areas outside of Auckland, we can do a better job of matching the needs of regions with available migrants and investors,” Mr Woodhouse says.

New measures to take effect from 1 November include:

  • Boosting the bonus points for Skilled Migrants applying for residence with a job offer outside Auckland from 10 to 30 points.
  • Doubling the points for entrepreneurs planning to set up businesses in the regions under the Entrepreneur Work Visa from 20 to 40 points.
  • Streamlining the labour market test to provide employers with more certainty, earlier in the visa application process.

In addition, from mid-2016 a pathway to residence will be provided for a limited number of long-term migrants on temporary work visas in the South Island.

“Unemployment across the Mainland is nearly half that of the North Island, and labour is in short supply,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Most workers in lower skilled jobs must apply to renew their work visas every year. Some of these people have worked hard and paid tax to New Zealand for many years. They are valued at work and in their community, but have no avenue to settle here permanently.

“We’re looking at offering residence to some migrants, who have applied at least five times for their annual work visa. In return, we will require them to commit to the South Island regions where they’ve put down roots.”

These are very welcome changes which will make it easier for immigrants to settle in the regions and for employers in the regions to attract and retain staff.

I know a family who will benefit from the new policy to allow people on temporary visas who’ve been here for at least five years to settle.

They’ve been here for a decade, working, paying tax and contributing to the community.

They’ve spent 10s of thousands on immigration consultants but don’t have enough points to gain residency.

They are good people who would make good citizens and now they will be able to stay in the place they call home.

That’s good for them and the small town where they live.

Mr Woodhouse says the Government is also considering a new Global Impact Visa to attract high-impact entrepreneurs, investors and start-up teams to launch global ventures from New Zealand.

“I will announce further details later this year, but we envisage this visa would be offered to a limited number of younger, highly talented, successful and well-connected entrepreneurs from places like Silicon Valley,” Mr Woodhouse says.

This announcement shows National is open to business and people, a policy from which we’ll all benefit.


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