Getting back to world class


New Zealand used to have a world class education system. National has a plan to get it back:

A National Government will ensure every child gets a world-class education so when they leave school, they can lead the life they want, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“Education has the power to change lives. It allows children to gain the skills and knowledge they need for further education and to go on and lead successful lives.

“Since coming to politics, the systemic failure in New Zealand’s education system is what has shocked me more than anything else.

“Two-thirds of secondary school students failed to meet the minimum standard in reading, writing and maths, while 98 per cent of Decile One Year 10 students failed a basic writing test.

“This is utterly unacceptable. That’s why today I am announcing National’s plan for ‘Teaching the Basics Brilliantly’, which will ensure every child has the skills they need in reading, writing, maths and science to set them up for further success.

National will:

    1. Require all primary and intermediate schools to teach an hour of reading, an hour of writing and an hour of maths, on average, every day.
    2. Re-write the curriculum so it says what must be taught each year in reading, writing, maths and science to every year group in primary and intermediate schools.
    3. Require standardised, robust assessment of student progress in reading, writing and maths at least twice a year every year from Year 3 to Year 8, with clear reporting to parents.
    4. Ensure that teachers and teacher trainees spend more time learning how to teach the basics. We’ll also provide them with more classroom tools and lesson plans to help them teach reading, writing, maths and science.

“National will set a target of 80 per cent of Year 8 students being at or above the expected curriculum level for their age in reading, writing, maths and science by 2030.  

“Further, we’ll aim to return New Zealand students to the top 10 in the world in maths, reading and science, measured by the OECD’s PISA rankings, by 2033.

“Labour has spent $5 billion more on education and hired 1400 more public servants, yet our children are going backwards. After nearly six years of a Labour government, there’s been no improvement in Year 8’s results. Only 45 per cent of Year 8 kids are at the level they should be in maths and only 35 per cent are at curriculum level in writing.

“This just cannot continue. We won’t lift education achievement in New Zealand by continuing to do the same things that are taking us backwards. National wants every child to have the chance to lead the life they want, and education is a key part of that.

“Today’s announcement is just the first part of National’s wider education policy, and we will have more to say in the lead up to the election.”

You can read the policy here.

The teacher’s union and the Minister of Education don’t like the idea of teaching the basics brilliantly.

Parents, employers and anyone who cares about children being equipped for life will support it.

The current failure rates are not just failing the children who aren’t getting a world class education, its failing the future of the country which needs a well-educated population to stay in the first world.


Setting up for success


Labour is failing the future with declining educational standards. National has a plan to change that for the better:

A National Government will rewrite the New Zealand Curriculum to ensure every child has the basic skills they need in reading, writing, maths and science to set them up for further education and for life, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

Mr Luxon will announce Teaching the Basics Brilliantly, the first part of National’s education policy in the Hutt Valley on Thursday.

“Education is critical for unlocking a better future for all New Zealanders and equipping the next generation with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed,” Mr Luxon says.

“A world-class education system is essential for driving social mobility, helping break cycles of poverty, and giving every child the chance to live the life they want.

“We cannot have world-class incomes and living standards without a world-class education system.

“But the current state of education in New Zealand is alarming. Achievement has been in decline for the last 30 years and a recent NCEA pilot exposed just how far achievement has fallen, with a staggering two-thirds of students unable to meet the minimum standard in reading, writing and maths.

“National will not allow this to continue. National will make sure every child leaving primary and intermediate school can master the basics so they can succeed at high school and lead fulfilling lives.

“Today I am announcing National will rewrite the New Zealand Curriculum to detail the non-negotiable knowledge and skills that primary and intermediate schools must cover each year in reading, writing, maths, and science.

“At the moment, one curriculum level can span several school years which makes it difficult to identify and help children who are falling behind.

“Evidence shows children’s abilities are often underestimated and therefore the looseness in the New Zealand Curriculum means some Kiwi kids are learning the building blocks of reading, writing and maths later than they should.

“The curriculum also adds a significant workload for teachers who are constantly having to work out what to teach and when.

“We need a lot more than Labour’s curriculum refresh. We must be more ambitious for our children.

“If New Zealand wants to turn around declining achievement and ensure every child makes consistent progress, we need a curriculum that provides clear and detailed guidance to teachers and parents on what students should be learning each school year.

“National will deliver that and give every child the opportunity to succeed.”

Declining standards in education have a variety of causes.

A curriculum change that provides a good grounding in the basics and builds on that foundation will address many of them.

Karuna Muthu Nat for Rongotai Mahesh Muralidhar Auck Central


National has completed two more candidate selections.

Karuna Muthu is the party’s candidate for Rongotai:

Karunanidhi (Karuna) Muthu is a self-employed lawyer and business strategist based in Strathmore Park.

Karuna was born in Madurai, India and moved to New Zealand in 1995. He has worked in business and investment strategy for most of his career, supporting start-up ventures and early stage companies. He holds graduate diplomas in business from the University of Auckland and Unitec, and a Bachelor of Laws from Victoria University.

Karuna has served in a range of governance roles in the Wellington community, including as president of Wellington Mutamizh Sangam, which is a group for Tamil New Zealanders to promote Tamil language and culture. He has also been involved in groups focused on digital inclusion and on as a trustee for the Queen Margaret College Foundation Trust.

He and his wife Chitra, a local GP, have three children, the youngest in their final year of high school, and have lived in the Rongotai electorate for 23 years.

The party’s Auckland Central candidate is Mahesh Muralidhar:

Mahesh Muralidhar is the chief executive of Phase One Ventures, a New Zealand venture firm which supports and funds start-ups to grow and succeed. He mentors and invests into several start-ups in New Zealand and Australia.

Before returning to New Zealand, Mahesh spent several years working in Sydney, including as VP of People Operations at Airtasker and Head of People Operations at graphic design platform Canva.

Born in Kerala, India, Mahesh moved to New Zealand in the mid-90s to attend high school. He completed his schooling at Napier Boys’ High School before gaining a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and a Graduate Diploma in Arts from the University of Auckland. He also has an MBA from the University of New South Wales and a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Policy from the University of Auckland.

Mahesh has extensive ties with Auckland Central. After finishing high school in Napier, Mahesh moved to Auckland Central and lived in the CBD for close to eight years. His first part-time job was as one of the first baristas at Starbucks on Queen Street. As a student at the University of Auckland, Mahesh established the university’s Management Consulting Club. Mahesh and his wife Praveena married on Waiheke Island and now live in Ponsonby.

Nats launch tax calculator


Want to know how much less tax you’ll pay with a National government and how much more you’ll pay if Labour gets back in power?

New Zealanders can now see exactly how much better off they would be under a National Government and how much they are putting at risk with a Labour one, National’s Finance spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“Our new tax calculator shows how much more income Kiwis would get from National’s commitment to inflation adjust tax brackets, introduce our FamilyBoost childcare tax rebate, and scrap the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax.

“New Zealanders will also be able to see how much more they will pay if Labour is elected this year by calculating how much they would pay for a proposed Jobs Tax and App Tax.

“National knows Kiwis are paying too much tax – and our tax calculator shows just how much extra money they would have in their back pockets if National is elected this year.

“The cost of living crisis has made it too hard for New Zealand workers to get ahead. Instead of giving Kiwis much deserved relief, the Labour Government has continued to introduce taxes to feed an addiction to spending.

“Under Labour, tax revenue has jumped an eye-watering $43 billion in just five years, helped along by a clutch of new taxes. That is equivalent to an extra $17,500 per household.

“Labour’s Jobs Tax is far from cancelled, with officials still working on the scheme. The Government is about to introduce a new App Tax and is flirting with the idea of a Light Rail Tax, a Wealth Tax, and even a Flood Tax. You simply cannot trust Labour on tax.

“The tax reduction National has announced so far is the minimum we will deliver New Zealanders if we are elected this year. If the economic and fiscal conditions allow, we will go further.”

If there’s a National government economic and fiscal conditions will allow further savings for taxpayers.

If there’s a continuation of this Labour government economic and fiscal conditions will get worse and we’ll all not only be paying more tax but getting less benefit from what we pay.

Two more farmers for National


National has selected two more farmers to contest this year’s election.

The party has selected Mike Butterick to contest the Wairarapa seat:

. . . “National backs famers. As a Wairarapa farmer myself, I know how important our primary sector is to the economy, both here in the Wairarapa electorate and across New Zealand. Alongside our National team, I’ll advocate for farmers and farming communities to be able to get on with what they do best, without being burdened with more unworkable regulations.

“Wairarapa is where my wife Rachel and I chose to raise our kids and I’ll work tirelessly to earn the support of our region to advocate for it as its next National MP.” . . . 

Masterton-based sheep and beef farmer Mike Butterick began his farming career shepherding in Canterbury before moving to Wairarapa more than 30 years ago.

Mike currently serves on the board of Wings Over Wairarapa and as an executive member of the Wairarapa Water Users group. He is also a member of the Wairarapa Federated Farmers’ executive.

Mike and his wife Rachel have four children.

Grant McCallum has been selected to contest Northland:

Maungaturoto farmer Grant McCallum has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate in Northland for the 2023 General Election. . .

“National also backs farmers. As a farmer myself, I understand the significant contribution farmers make to the economy and to Kiwis, both here in Northland and across the country. With National, I look forward to advocating for farmers and farming communities to reduce their regulatory burden and costs and let them get on with doing what they do best – leading the world in innovative farming practices that help to drive New Zealand forward.

“Throughout my career, delivering for Northland has been my key focus and will be my priority as the local MP. I can’t wait to meet as many people as I can across our region to hear about their issues and campaign to elect a National Government.”

It’s good to have two more farmers as candidates and potential MPs. These two selections follow the selection of farmers Suze Redmayne for  Rangitīkei and Miles Anderson for Waitaki.

When former Invercargill MP Eric Roy was first in parliament he was asked what it was like there.

He replied there were too many people who’d never had a bad lambing.

He didn’t necessarily mean it literally, but any successful farmers will have met, and overcome,  big challenges that are character forming.

Making worst worse


First the good news: Fonterra has reported a 50% increase in its half-year profit:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd today released its 2023 Interim Results which show the Co-op has delivered a half year Profit After Tax of $546 million, an earnings per share of 33 cents, and a decision to pay an interim dividend of 10 cents per share alongside a forecast Farmgate Milk Price range of $8.20 – $8.80 per kgMS.

The Co-op also upgraded its full year forecast normalised earnings from 50-70 cents per share to 55-75 cents per share and announced a proposed tax free capital return to farmer owners and unit holders of around 50 cents per share, subject to completion of the sale of its Chilean Soprole business.  . .

Now for the bad news.

In spite of the good result for our biggest company, the country recorded its worst current account deficit yet:

The annual current account deficit was $33.8 billion (8.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)) in the year ended 31 December 2022. This was $12.7 billion wider than in the year ended 31 December 2021 (6.0 percent of GDP), according to figures released by Stats NZ today.

This is the largest annual current account deficit to GDP ratio since the series began in March 1988. The largest prior to the COVID pandemic was 7.8 percent of GDP in December 2008, during the global financial crisis.

A current account deficit reflects that we are spending more than we are earning overseas. The size of the current account balance in relation to GDP shows its significance in the context of New Zealand’s overall economy.

The widening in the annual current account deficit was mainly due to a $10.0 billion widening of goods and services deficit and $2.7 billion widening of the income deficit. . .

This will almost certainly get worse as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle’s destruction of export crops.

And there’s more bad news:

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 0.6 percent in the December 2022 quarter, following a 1.7 percent rise in the September 2022 quarter, according to quarterly figures released by Stats NZ today.  . . .

National’s Finance spokesperson, Nicola Willis,  says the deepening cracks in the economy are putting more people at risk of financial distress:

. . . “This result is worse than many had anticipated, with the Reserve Bank having forecast 0.7 per cent growth for the period,” Ms Willis said.

“Excluding Covid-19 lockdowns, it is the weakest quarterly growth since the Global Financial Crisis.

“A stalling economy is yet more bad news for New Zealanders already battling sky-high inflation and rapidly rising interest rates.

“Under Labour, the economy is in trouble and New Zealanders are paying the price. Workers are already suffering from badly-stretched after-tax incomes and a weakening economy means things will get worse.

“We also learnt this week that New Zealand now has its largest current account deficit since records began, meaning we are collectively living beyond our means.

“Taken together, the outlook for the New Zealand economy looks increasingly worrying: the cost of living crisis is dragging on even while interest rates climb, debts grow and businesses stall. . . 

“Today’s data confirms once again how badly our economy is travelling under Labour. The key question now is how much worse things will get.”

The worst current account gap since records began and a worse than expected GDP is a bad combination for us all.

There’s nothing to give us confidence the government has a plan that will make matters better and far too much evidence of policies that will make them worse.

Continuing to waste money on Three Waters, Auckland’s light rail project and  plans for pumped hydro at Lake Onslow in spite of a 300% increase in costs to $16 billion are just three examples of how the government will make the worst economic records yet even worse.


Tracy Summerfield Nat candidate for Wigram


Christchurch accountant and businesswoman Tracy Summerfield has been selected as National’s candidate in Wigram for the 2023 General Election ;

“I’m incredibly excited to be standing as National’s candidate in Wigram and will get to work straight away listening to people about the issues that matter and campaigning to elect a National Government,” says Ms Summerfield.

“My top priority is addressing the cost-of-living crisis faced by families in Wigram. Paying the mortgage or the rent, or filling up the shopping trolley, is only getting harder and National’s plan to strengthen our economy and reduce the cost of living will make sure all New Zealanders can get ahead.

“Policies like National’s FamilyBoost, which will provide rebates of up to $75 a week to help families with childcare costs, will go a long way to helping people in Wigram have more choices in their weekly budgets.

“Rising crime, particularly youth and retail crime, is making people in Wigram feel less safe and we need a National Government that will end Labour’s soft-on-crime approach. National has released plans to combat serious youth offending and gang crime and I’ll be talking to people in Wigram about these plans over the coming months.

“I’ve built my own small businesses through ambition and grit. I work hard and know how to get things done and I want to use those skills to deliver for our city as an MP in Chris Luxon’s National team. I look forward to meeting as many people as I can across Wigram in the run up to this year’s election.”

Biographically notes:

. . . Tracy Summerfield owned and operated early childhood education centres for over 15 years before selling them in 2021. Over the years, she has worked in accounting and finance roles in the public and private sectors.

Raised in Hornby, Tracy attended local schools before gaining a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Canterbury and becoming a Chartered Accountant. Tracy later completed an MBA from Canterbury and a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching, becoming a fully registered teacher over a decade ago.

Tracy has served on the executive board of Early Childhood Council and is an active fundraiser for local charities including the Breast Cancer Foundation, the SPCA and the Wigram Lions.

Tracy and her husband Gavin live in Christchurch and have four children who are in their late teens and early twenties. 


Tama Potaka’s maiden speech


National MP Tama Potaka delivered his maiden speech on Tuesday:


TAMA POTAKA (National—Hamilton West):

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A brief aroha moment for those who have suffered in the recent climatic events: kia kaha. And an

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moment for winners Te Kapa Haka o Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and the Ōrākei hosts of Te Matatini

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For 30 years, people alive and dead have counselled me for this kōrero, and the latter group were very instructive. My kōrero covers acknowledgments, my formal experiences, and thoughts for New Zealand’s future success. Friends, New Zealanders, countrywomen and men, we are joined here and online by National Party aunties and uncles like Edgar Wilson, Lindsay Butler, and Andrew King, who worked diligently to reawaken my service to Hamilton West and possibly the parliamentary rugby team, whose selectors, I hear, are very persuasive! My constituents from places like St Andrews, Nawton, Grandview, Dinsdale, Frankton, Melville, the lake, and Tuhikaramea have instructed me to reinstate our distinct parliamentary voice and help make it the best place to grow up and old in Aotearoa. Whānau, if you haven’t been to The Base shopping centre in Hamilton West, now is your time. Hamilton West: it’s bellwether, agrarian, entrepreneurial, youthful, and brown—35 percent of us are Māori and Pasifika. And you may have heard of our iconic Kiwi businesses: Gallagher’s, Porter’s, Perry’s, APL, Modern Transport Engineers, Montana, and Tainui Group Holdings, and local champions like K’aute Pasifika, Manning St, and CrossFit Waikato. Hardworking people and competitive enterprise built our place.

I acknowledge the nine people who have held the parliamentary torch for Hamilton West, particularly Tim Macindoe, a servant of this House, this Whare, for 12 years.

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I’m a snotty-nosed apprentice. To the National Party leadership, Chris Luxon, Nicola Willis, Sylvia Wood, fellow MPs, and tireless supporters such as the SuperBlues, Pacific Island Blues, and the Young Nats, thank you for the privilege to serve in this Whare, the highest court and marae ātea in the land.

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My formative years reflect our party’s values. I was raised in rural New Zealand. Rata, Makaranui, Ākitio, Ōpunakē on “Surf Highway 45”, whaea Debbie, and Pukehou, are not urban yet, but they enable cities like Hamilton and Auckland to function, whether through the supply of water, gravel, food, energy, or people. My bones lie in those places and on the far flung battlefields of the Pioneer and Māori Battalions.

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Don’t forget your roots.

My parents initially sculpted my life. Patty and Joe dedicated themselves to getting things done in Rata—like land consolidation to ensure not one more acre of family land was lost from whānau ownership. They sought to reincarnate collective Mōkai Pātea enterprise of the late 19th century, only to be crushed through relentless land alienation and prejudice.

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inspired our community restoration, but Mum and Dad and extended whānau convened capital-raising initiatives like Calcutta’s, Crown and Anchor nights, and meat raffles to take the community and our marae forward. Village aunties

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gave me regular unsolicited guidance, reminding me that I was brought up, not dragged up, and that respect was at the launch pad of anything that mattered. “Mana whenua” was a verb, not a position or judicially determined status. Utu was reciprocity, not revenge. And our village instilled two things: work hard to get the rewards, and look after the land; it’ll look after you. Their legacy continues and will be strengthened in due course, Minister Little, through this House ultimately settling the Mōkai Pātea and Rangitīkei River Treaty claims.

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In the summer and winter, we will live on the fat of the land.

On teacher salaries, Mum and Dad fertilised my education through Huntley School and, like my brother [Name to be inserted by Hansard Office]

, Te Aute College, preparing me for life in this role. Te Aute hardwired me into Māori male success: Te Rangi Hīroa; Māui Pōmare; Eddie, Mason, Ra—anyone with the last name “Durie”!—Pita Sharples; and our most notable and formidable old boy, and National Party co-founder, Tā Apirana Ngata. They ignited a mental fortitude to survive and thrive as brothers in any conditions.

Foreign relations: that was bussing past Pakipaki to St Stephen’s School and Whanganui Collegiate, Mr Bayly, and, if we were a really well behaved, St Joseph’s Māori Girls College and Church College! People like Anaru Takurua, Fred Jackson, and Jenny Senior

guided us to acquit ourselves and be strong

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Through taking personal responsibility, with collective support, I berthed at Victoria University to pursue law, politics, and Māori studies. A simple life ensued between Kelburn Parade, Old Government Buildings, Te Herenga Waka Marae, the home of Neil and Tiahuia Gray, and various Malaysian and kebab restaurants. I was in the first Electoral Systems course run by Nigel Roberts and Stephen Levine, saw the protest against Mururoa nuclear testing, and the red socks celebration for Team New Zealand, and experienced the contrasting legal academic styles of people like John Miller, Sir Geoffrey and Matthew Palmer, Mai Chen, Geoff McLay, and Caren Fox. The Vic Uni Foundation, Fletcher Challenge, the District Law Society here, PKW Incorporation, Dave Turner, and others aided me to complete my degrees, pursue an LLM at Columbia Law School, and be exposed to Lou Henkin, Jack Greenberg, and Jane Ginsburg, daughter of the notorious “RBG”. I passed the New York Bar exam and became an attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and the Minister of Finance will attest that I genuinely engaged in learning in and out of the class. Kia ora.

Those collated experiences left an indelible impression upon me that any young New Zealander raised with village values and community support can go from hay bales, mowing the marae lawns in Whakatupuranga Rua Mano all the way to an august Ivy League institution and practising attorney for some of the biggest clients in the world. During my travels, and more recently, the excitement and exuberance of the Black Ferns and my brethren Cliff Curtis mega movie appearances, it is right that Māori people and Māori culture have global reach and meaning, and are fundamental, but should not be fundamentalist, whānau, to New Zealand’s renewal.

Returning home, I became the deputy sexton of whānau urupā—a big job—launched software Creative HQ, and rejoined Te Puni Kōkiri, Mr Jackson. Service for others followed at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Bell Gully, Tainui Group Holdings, the Super Fund, and finally the mighty Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki nation whilst learning governance on Anglican, tribal, and Māori boards. If you want to learn governance, go to an Anglican board! I was privileged to tautoko the Pacific Islands Investment Forum and the collective Māori investment fund Te Pūia Tāpapa. Thanks to all those people, the many people who gave me a chance to serve all New Zealanders. I was lucky to help my wife deliver Whānau Ora festivals for Māori, rangatahi programmes Young Engineers and Squiggle, and publish Shakespeare plays translated in the Māori language by a great-grandfather and a National Party man Pei Te Hurinui Jones.

Meitaki maata and fa’afetai to the community and voluntary sector and SMEs for the mahi they do to make New Zealand a better place. The upshot of all these humbling experiences was that when I was recently sworn in I was absolutely stunned by the enormity of the work that each and every one of you do here in this Whare and the Parliamentary Service team.

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Thank you all for your prodigious commitment and mahi for Aotearoa.

Two matters resonate for me as the key foundations for the country’s future: education and law. E hoa mā, in my view we must foster a world-class parenting education and learning environment, which all New Zealanders have an equal opportunity to access and succeed in. One size does not fit all, and the bird eats more than myrtle berries in the forest, and that forest has many diverse kaitiaki, including those with mental wellbeing challenges. My own learning deepened through action under people like Wira Gardiner, Moana Jackson—the lawyer, Ngāti Kahungunu guy, not the other Moana Jackson—Gina Rudland, John and Ben Paki, Vapi Kupenga, Rongo and Koro Wetere,

Bill Russell, Temuera Hall, Haydn Wong, John Spencer, Matthew Cockram, Mike Pohio, Tumanako Wereta, Adrian Orr, Matt Whineray, and James Brown.

My sister Raina and my cousins and peers schooled me through marae and kitchen feedback. Action-based experiences like Te Tira Hoe o Wanganui, as the Minister for foreign relations knows, or defence training, can be as useful for life as any formal course inside an institution, and our educational success rests on many players: learners, parents, teachers, volunteers, officials, investors, and icons like Nathan and Yvette Durie. We can catalyse more success through less open classrooms and better activate values-based schools, partnership schools like Te Kōpuku High or Hamilton West, or Waatea School, as Matua Minister Jackson knows, and online learning like Crimson Global Academy. Enrol the whānau; not just the tamariki. Compliance should not overrun education or unreasonably reduce resources from and proper mentoring for teachers. Without relevant multidisciplinary learning and engagement of young people, we will contribute more to crime and poverty. All New Zealanders must have an equal opportunity to transform themselves, their whānau, and our country through education and learning.

I didn’t study brain surgery; I studied law, its power and influence and generally well-founded construction. House-made law should be guided by social, cultural mores; domestic and international obligations; and global influence where suitable, not just copy-and-paste jobs from Canada. Judicial interpretation of legislation—that’s a second pathway to create law, like Baigent’s Case and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. A third pathway is common law, and there’s been significant judicial inquiry to recognise tikanga through common law. I applaud this mahi—kia kaha—but caution that that process remains rational, transparent, relevant, and not guided by narrow ideology and provincial inclinations. What happens in Whakatāne may be different to Waitaki, Wharekauri, Westport, and Ngāti Wairere. Autochthonous effort should continue, albeit with relevant balancing of our indigenous, Treaty, and, indeed, international rights heritage. Like rights set out in the Magna Carta 1215, the Bill of Rights 1689, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, we should be curious around tikanga and consider how to best foster an environment where it suitably empowers all New Zealanders.

Before I finish my kōrero, I honour my wahine and best friend, Ariana: he whenua, he wāhine mate ai te tangata—for land and women, we will lay down our lives. Like many New Zealand women, she has an unbending commitment to cultivate the potential of young people, families, and the community. With me, she has traded happiness and peace for massive risks and a thin chance of satisfaction. As Kahlil Gibran, the Persian poet, poetically intimates, Ariana awakens with a winged heart and a gratitude for loving. I’m internally indebted to her and our innovative tamariki, Tiaria Te Ikaroa, Te Awarua Tamatereka and Aorangi Te Āionuku. Like my mother, Ariana hangs on to every word of our children, and they hang on to her heart.

Finally, I salute my many tūpuna, iwi, and uri whakaheke—my ancestors, my peoples, and my descendants—with reference to my father’s ancestors, Utiku Potaka and Rora Te Oiroa Goff. Utiku fought alongside Colonel Whitmore and acted on the instructions of John Bryce at Pari’aka against my mother’s ancestors. With his cousins, they formally sought co-investment with the Government in rail infrastructure through the Awarua and Motukawa land blocks near Taihape. They advocated for better governance and low-cost finance to accelerate primary sector enterprise and were occasional pen pals with “King Dick” Seddon.

Utiku and Rora left all New Zealanders with a vision of the present and future for our nation: “Kia mau ki te oha o tupuna ki Te Tiriti o Waitangi, ki te ture tangata me te ture atua e puta ai tātou ki te whai ao ki te ao marama.”—”Heed the revelations of your ancestors, the Treaty of Waitangi, 1840, the law of humanity and the spiritual realms from whence we emerge into the light and understanding.” It is with this vision in mind that I’ve reflected on a need to reinforce my loyalty to and help to re-splice unity across Aotearoa, our country, based on whakapapa, or genealogical foundations, and embracing multicultural demographic realities evident in my electorate. It’s a privilege, and now my responsibility, to serve Hamilton West in this fine house, and, indeed, to serve all New Zealanders.

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Slash HB problem too


John Campbell shows the financial and human cost of slash:

The government has set up a ministerial inquiry into the problem but it doesn’t go far enough.

It’s an issue in Hawkes Bay too and the two local national candidates want the inquiry to cover their province too:

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash told TVNZ’s Q+A this morning that he initiated an inquiry into forestry slash in Tairāwhiti because 10,000 locals petitioned for one.

National’s Hawke’s Bay candidates Katie Nimon and Catherine Wedd have now set a target to collect 10,000 signatures to have the inquiry expanded to cover all of Hawke’s Bay, so Nash’s own constituents can get answers about the damage caused by slash and woody debris across the region.

“People in the Napier electorate shouldn’t have to petition their own MP to convince him our region deserves answers and accountability on the forestry slash and woody debris that’s compounded flood damage in communities up and down the area,” says Napier candidate Katie Nimon.

“If gathering 10,000 signatures is what it takes to get the Minister to listen, then that’s what we’ll be working hard to do. You can sign our petition online at We’ll also be gathering signatures across the Bay over the coming weeks.”

National’s Tukituki candidate Catherine Wedd has been visiting families, orchardists and farmers whose lives have been upended by flood damage compounded by woody debris and is calling on local Labour MPs to step up and listen to people in Hawke’s Bay.

“It’s impossible to deny slash and wooden debris have played a significant role in the damage we see across the Bay but the Minister is refusing to even look into it. The people of Hawke’s Bay have the right to know how it can be stopped from happening again,” says Wedd.

“The Minister’s excuses for refusing to include all of Hawke’s Bay in his inquiry just don’t wash. Failing to include Hawke’s Bay in this inquiry leaves us vulnerable to the same thing happening next time we have a severe weather event.

“I don’t think this is a one-size-fits-all case. Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti have different landscape, rivers and land management practices. I’ve had feedback that as well as slash we’re also seeing a lot of willows in the wooden debris. This needs to be properly investigated through a Hawke’s Bay inquiry.

“Katie and I will be highly visible across the Bay gathering signatures to get people in our region the answers they deserve. Let’s hope the local Labour MPs listen.”

You can sign the petition here.

$1.24b on consultants & contractors


Labour spent $1.24 billion on consultants and contractors in the year to June 2022.

But wait, there’s more:

And maybe more:

. . . National public service spokesman Simeon Brown has compiled information from their reports to select committees and says the total bill for the last financial year was more like $1.7 billion. . . 

There is a place for contractors and consultants but $1.24 billion plus is an eye watering sum.

It should be easy for National to find the $400 million in savings it would spend on its FamilyBoost policy.

It shouldn’t be hard to find even more for high priorities including education, health and infrastructure by cutting the wasteful spending this government specialises in.

Labour failing the future


One of Labour’s worst legacies will be the decline in educational standards.

The Government must rule out lowering the standards required to obtain the NCEA literacy and numeracy co-requisites, National’s Education spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“Revelations that the Government is considering lowering standards to help students pass shows an astounding lack of ambition from Labour.

“Two-thirds of New Zealand students failed to pass the new minimum literacy and numeracy standards for NCEA.

“Instead of simply dumbing down the tests to make them easier to pass, the Government could actually consider teaching kids more maths, reading and writing before they start secondary school.

“The Royal Society has already recommended that kids spend at least one hour a day learning maths. Why has the Government not acted on this advice?

“Rather than focusing on what students need in primary and intermediate school to be better prepared, the Ministry of Education has blamed the tests themselves, calling into question the use of ‘complex’ words such as tramping and potluck dinner.

“The ministry also requested changes including fewer questions, the use of simpler language, and allowing students to use spell-checking software.

“Instead of dreaming up excuses, the Government should admit our education system is not equipping kids with the knowledge and skills they need.

“Our children deserve better than a Government that would consider lowering standards simply to avoid a bad headline.

“We need a serious plan to deliver kids an education with the basics they need to succeed, not more excuses.

“Labour is spending $5 billion more on education every year but student achievement has nose-dived. National will be laser-focused on lifting student performance, and that starts with a stronger emphasis on maths, reading and writing.”

Labour is failing the future and much of the blame for that is the immediate past Education Minister, now Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins.





Less waste more help


How will you pay for it?

That’s the question that follows any policy announcement.

Christopher Luxon had the answer when he announced National’s FamilyBoost tax rebate yesterday.

The $249 it will cost will be paid for by reversing the blow-out in wasteful spending on public sector consultants overseen by Chris Hipkins as Public Services Minister.

Less waste, more help for struggling families, what’s not to like about that?

THe policy is explained here.

The full speech is here.


Delivering local water well


Which is better: a top-down policy that takes locally owned assets and control and adds several expensive and unaccountable layers of bureaucracy or a policy that leaves ownership and control with locals?

The centralised model is the government’s formerly Three Waters, now five.

The alternative is National’s plan to replace the government’s Three Five Waters policy and deliver local water well:

A National Government will scrap Labour’s undemocratic and unworkable Three Waters model and replace it with a sustainable system that ensures drinking water, stormwater and wastewater remain in local control, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“The sub-standard status quo where pipes are too often allowed to fail, creating pollution, wastage and massive bills for ratepayers, will not be allowed to continue under a National Government,” Mr Luxon says.

“But the answer is not Labour’s unpopular Three Waters scheme that the Government has pushed through Parliament. It will take assets off local communities, transferring them to  four mega-entities that no-one asked for, no-one wants and that have mandatory co-governance.

“Instead, a National Government will set and enforce strict water quality standards and require councils to invest in the ongoing maintenance and replacement of their vital water infrastructure, while keeping control of the assets that their ratepayers have paid for.

National will: 

  • Repeal Three Waters and scrap the four co-governed mega-entities
  • Restore council ownership and control
  • Set strict rules for water quality and investment in infrastructure
  • Ensure water services are financially sustainable

“Under National, councils will be required to demonstrate a clear plan to deliver ongoing investment in water infrastructure. Those plans will need to be approved by the Minister of Local Government.

“While water quality regulator Taumata Arowai will set strict standards for water quality, National will establish a Water Infrastructure Regulator within the Commerce Commission to set and enforce standards for long-term water infrastructure investment.

“Councils will be required to ringfence money for water infrastructure and not spend it on other services instead.

This is in effect auditing local bodies for their water infrastructure in much the same was as their finances are audited.

The reason that some council’s water infrastructure is well below standard is because it’s been too easy for them to spend on nice-to-haves rather than the basics.

“National’s plan supports greater access for councils to long-term borrowing, which is an appropriate way to fund long-life water infrastructure. One way to improve access to borrowing would be for neighbouring councils to form Regional Council Controlled Organisations. Ultimately, it is up to the councils but we would envisage it is likely a number of regional groups will emerge to deliver better water services.

“Financial sustainability will enable the long-term investment in infrastructure that will deliver the quality drinking water, cleaner rivers and swimmable beaches that New Zealanders want and expect.

“Resilient, well-maintained, future-proofed modern infrastructure will also mean communities can better cope with mounting pressures due to climate change and accommodate housing growth that is currently being stymied by a lack of infrastructure like wastewater and stormwater services.

“Under National, water stays in local hands and investment in water infrastructure is secured so that New Zealanders can be sure their water is safe and affordable.”

This policy is what most councils have wanted and will retains local ownership, control and accountability.

It sets standards, ensures they are adhered to and that water services are financially sustainable.

It will be far less expensive than Labour’s multi-layered and overly bureaucratic policy.

The party’s policy document is here

It has the approval of the Taxpayers’ Union:

National’s ‘Local Water Done Well’ alternative to Three Waters is bang on what the Taxpayers’ Union and local councils have been calling for. It meets the Taxpayers’ Union’s red lines of respecting property rights, retaining community control, ensuring local accountability, giving councils the ability to opt into shared models of their choosing, and the efficient delivery of water services.

“This policy is almost identical to the model developed by Communities 4 Local Democracy, which the Taxpayers’ Union has been promoting,” said Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams.

“This is a serious challenge to Chris Hipkins who has said he wants to ‘refocus’ Three Waters. Here is the solution.”

“Three Waters will mean higher waters costs, more bureaucracy, no local control, and less democracy. Poll after poll has shown that the reforms face overwhelming opposition from Kiwis.”

“But everyone accepts that doing nothing is not an option. Now the Government can not claim ‘there is no alternative’.”

“This alternative to Three Waters is now a consensus among the Taxpayers’ Union, 31 provincial councils, the Mayors of our two largest cities, and the opposition National Party. There is just one more person to convince: Mr Hipkins.” 

Labour’s centralisation hasn’t worked for polytechs. Its expensive reorganisation of the health system has done nothing for patients or the workforce.

Its Five Waters plan is expensive, overly bureaucratic and undemocratic.

And Councils say it would erode flood response:

Local authorities claim the government’s water reforms will rob them of civil defence capacity

A West Coast council that has previously supported the government’s Three Waters reforms is now raising the alarm over changes it says will undermine civil defence – and its finances.

Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine says under the new Water Services Entities Act his council is set to lose the services of more than 20 staff who play vital roles in flood emergencies.

The staff are employed by WestReef Services, a trading subsidiary of the council-controlled organisation (CCO) Buller Holdings, and make up about 20 percent of its workforce.

The act – passed in December – requires the transfer of CCO staff and assets to the regional water entities just as it does of councils that directly manage their water services. . . 

Westland Mayor Helen Lash says her council’s CCO, Westroads, manages all the council’s infrastructure and has staff stationed up and down the coast.

“When there’s an emergency they handle everything. They share machinery, they keep the roads open. They’re not just about water.

“This is the thing the government hasn’t thought about. You take those guys out and we’re all in trouble.”

Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson says under council management, protection work before a potential flood starts well before the event.

“We don’t have a CCO so our guys in the office are the ones who know to call out the crews to raise the flood gates, check pumping systems and so on.”

The workers’ new employer, the South Island water entity, is likely to be based in Christchurch, which could complicate communication and potentially the timeliness of and emergency response on the West Coast, Gibson says.

Cleine agrees.

“In our case, when there’s a forecast event like the recent Westport floods, WestReef calls on all its staff, not just the water guys, to monitor river levels, clear stormwater drains, fill sand bags, build emergency bunds – it’s all hands on deck.

“If the water staff are isolated in a separate business it‘ll be harder to integrate our response.” . . 

The new PM has said it will be reviewed but that is not good enough.

National’s plan is far better and gives voters a real choice at the election – a party that respects local control, local ownership, and democracy and Labour that doesn’t.

National selects candidates


It was a busy weekend for the National Party with candidate selections.

Ryan Hamilton was selected in Hamilton West:

. . . Ryan Hamilton has been an East Ward Councillor on the Hamilton City Council since 2018. Since 2009, he has owned and operated a building washing and insect control company, serving thousands of customers across Hamilton.

His business has contributed to several local charitable causes, including Rotary events for children, Autism NZ and the McKenzie Centre. He runs a free networking and business development group called Inspire Hamilton in partnership with the Waikato Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the fundraising committee of the Neuro Research Charitable Trust.

Ryan holds a post graduate diploma in Management Studies from the University of Waikato. He is married to Marie and together they have three children.

Siva Kilari is the candidate for Manuwera:

Siva Kilari was born and raised in India, where he gained a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Madras. After moving to New Zealand in 2002, Siva gained a Diploma of Business from UCOL and an automotive engineering qualification from Unitec.

Siva worked in a number of roles across several industries before establishing Universal Granite and Marble and building it into New Zealand’s largest benchtop stone wholesaler.

Through his business and individually, Siva has supported a range of community organisations over the years. These include the Telangana Association, the Auckland Tamil Association, BBM and the Sulu Ole Ola Youth Church.

Siva lives in Auckland with his wife Vishnu and their two children. In his spare time, he enjoys playing cricket.

Emma Chatterton was selected for Rimutaka:

. . . Emma Chatterton lives in Avalon with her husband Tom and their four young children. She currently works as the Strategic Project Lead for ImpactLab, a Wellington company founded by Sir Bill English which helps organisations measure and understand their social impact so that investment works for communities and people can live the lives that they choose.

After completing her schooling in Dunedin, Emma gained a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in music from the University of Cambridge in the UK. She also holds a post graduate qualification in secondary education from the University of Buckingham, and an honours degree in English literature from Victoria University of Wellington.

Before starting at ImpactLab, Emma was a music teacher at schools in Lower Hutt, Auckland and across the UK. She currently serves as a trustee of Whirinaki Whare Taonga in Upper Hutt and on the advisory board of the Women of Worth Charitable Trust.

Emma lives in Avalon in the Remutaka electorate with her husband Tom and their four children under eight. In her spare time, she enjoys playing social netball, reading widely and spending time with family and friends.

Blair Cameron won the Nelson selection :

. . . Blair Cameron, 31, was born in Canterbury and raised in Highbank, attending Mount Hutt College before winning a scholarship to study at the United World College in Hong Kong. He now lives in Nelson, working remotely as part of the teaching faculty at the Leadership Academy for Development, a centre at Stanford University.

Blair previously worked as a Research Officer for the International Monetary Fund’s legal department, and as a consultant for the World Bank.

After gaining a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brown University, Blair worked as a senior research specialist at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. His work has predominantly focused on improving public sector performance.

Outside of work, Blair enjoys rugby, racing, and tramping in New Zealand’s national parks.

Miles Anderson won the Waitaki selection :

. . . Miles Anderson was raised in Southburn, where his family has farmed for generations. After completing his schooling in Oamaru, Miles gained a Bachelor of Agriculture from Massey University. A self-employed farmer since 2000, Miles also ran his own livestock ultrasound scanning business for 20 years.

Miles’ expertise in farming also extended to him being a member of Federated Farmers’ national board and chair of its Meat & Wool Industry Group from 2017 to 2020. Before that, Miles was heavily involved in Federated Farmers’ South Canterbury branch, serving as chair of its Meat & Fibre Industry Group for six years.

Since 2008, Miles has chaired the Southburn Amenities Society and is also a founding member of the Pareora Catchment Group.

Carl Bates was selected for Whanganui :

Born and raised in Whanganui, Bates returned to New Zealand in 2020 after years overseas building a successful business, Sirdar, as well as appointing and educating company boards and directors across Africa, New Zealand and Australia. . . .

Since returning in 2020, Bates has spent time raising his two young children and working in governance roles for a number of organisations across Manawatū-Whanganui, including as a director of a Whanganui-based honey producer. He has also served on UCOL’s council.

Bates is a chartered accountant and a chartered fellow of the Institute of Directors. In 2016, he was named young business person of the year at the Wellington Regional Business Excellence Awards.

After attending Whanganui High School, he gained a bachelor of business studies degree in accountancy (honours) from Massey University. . . .



Catherine Wedd Nat’s Tukituki candidate


National has selected its Tukituki candidate :

Primary sector executive and former TVNZ reporter Catherine Wedd has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate in Tukituki.

“Tukituki is my home, it’s where we are raising our four kids and it’s a place I hold high aspirations for. It’s such a privilege to be selected as National’s candidate in Tukituki to campaign hard to elect a National Government in this year’s General Election.

“People in Tukituki work hard and are struggling to get ahead as the cost-of-living crisis makes everything more expensive and our world-class primary sector and hospitality businesses struggle for staff thanks to a Labour Government that doesn’t understand the needs of Tukituki,” says Ms Wedd.

“Labour’s economic mismanagement has forced the Reserve Bank to hike interest rates in an attempt to keep the lid on inflation. For families in Hawke’s Bay, that means $500 more every fortnight added to their mortgage repayments.

“We need a government focused on the issues that truly matter to people in Tukituki like addressing the cost-of-living crisis, cracking down on crime, and delivering better health, education and other public services. I know a Christopher Luxon-led National Government would do exactly that.

“My job now is to get out there and meet as many people as I can across the electorate to earn their support to elect a National Government to deliver for Tukituki.” 

A contest of Christophers


Chris Hipkins is Prime Minsiter presumptive:

Chris Hipkins is set to become New Zealand’s next Prime Minister, after he was the only nomination for Labour’s leadership today.

In a statement, Labour’s whip Duncan Webb said the caucus would meet at 1pm on Sunday to endorse the nomination and confirm Hipkins as party leader.

Hipkins will become Prime Minister once Jacinda Ardern formally resigns the post. It is not yet clear exactly when that will happen. She announced her resignation on Thursday.

Carmel Sepuloni is almost certain to be deputy leader to Hipkins after Kiri Allan rules herself out. . .

This will make the election a contest of two Christophers – National’s Luxon and Labour’s Hipkins.

Brigitte Morten reminds us of the latter’s record:

Hipkins and Ardern share a start in student politics. Hipkins was the VUWSA President in 2000 and 2001. But Hipkins’ political judgment demonstrates, that unlike Ardern, he has struggled to leave the student politicking aside.

His start in politics was unremarkable. In opposition, Hipkins as Labour’s education spokesperson was seen as a puppet of the unions. He opposed and later dismantled charter schools despite support from many of his Māori caucus colleagues.

He had a disappointing first day in government in 2017 when as Leader of the House, he failed to manage the vote for then Speaker Trevor Mallard and was forced to make an embarrassing compromise with the new opposition on select committee composition.

But these examples can be dismissed as shaky starts.

What is more demonstrable of what a Hipkins’ prime ministership may look like is the recent examples of him reacting under pressure. Ardern has been criticised for not being accountable on issues but rarely goes on the personal attack to defend her actions. Hipkins has an unfortunate tendency to play the man rather than the ball.

She four lists examples:

In October 2021, Northland was sent in to an 11-day lockdown after three allegedly “sex workers” with possible gang connections crossed the Auckland border.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins accused them of using “false information to travel across the border”. But it was later revealed through OIAs that Hipkins knew at the time that a blunder by officials had been the reason and the women were at no fault at all. He has never apologised or corrected the record, nor has he bothered to even correct the reports that these were gang-related sex workers.

He was the Minister responsible for the MIQueue of misery which grounded so many Kiwis, keeping citizens and residents out of the country and separating families, including keeping them from death beds of relatives.

In the case of Charlotte Bellis, he was forced to apologise and correct the record. But only because the Kiwi journalist, then pregnant and stuck in Afghanistan took legal action.

Hipkins, in his defence of the government’s MIQ system used Bellis’ personal information as a political weapon and made incorrect statements about her circumstances, including that she ignore consular assistance.

Late last year, in defence of the Minister for Local Government Nanaia Mahuta and government contracts awarded to her husband, Hipkins dragged Bill English and his family in to the response. He later made an apology to Parliament withdrawing his comments. . .

In 2017, in what was perhaps the most concerning case of questionable judgment, Hipkins used Parliament to dig up dirt for the Australian Labor Party. At the time, the Australian federal government was rocked by citizenship sagas. A number of MPs and senators were forced to resign after it was discovered they unconstitutionally held dual citizenships.

Hipkins used parliamentary questions to get information on the status of then Australian deputy prime minister.

It is a key tenant of diplomatic relations that politicians do not interfere in the democratic affairs of another country, especially by ‘taking sides’ with one of the political parties involved. . .

Then there’s his record as a Minister. He has been regarded as one of Labour’s better performers, but given the government’s record of delivery that’s not a high bar.

Hipkins, may have been successful at putting out the fires in other ministerial portfolios but it has come at a cost to his own. The polytech merger has been delayed as budgets have blown out and leadership turned over. In the compulsory education sector, numeracy and literacy performance is down and schools have struggled to manage through the pandemic. It is not the record of performance you want to take to an election. . .

He hasn’t made any improvement to the Police portfolio either.

An election ought to be a contest of ideas and policies, not personalities but Labour has a tendency to make it personal and it’s now lost one of its attack cards – that National’s leader is inexperienced.

In the contest of Christophers, it is Luxon who is the more experienced.

He has a lot more out of parliament leadership experience than Hipkins.

He has also had more than a year leading National during which he’s instilled much need discipline and focus, taking his party ahead of Labour in the polls and exhibited statesmanship qualities.

He is leading a government in waiting.

Hipkins, will be leading a government in the doldrums, facing several crises and problems it has neither the ideas, nor the competence, to solve.

No election result is predictable and MMP adds uncertainty.

But at this stage, and in the contest of two Christophers, it is National that has the better chance of a win because Labour’s leader has changed but caucus competence hasn’t.

Nine months is time enough to grow a baby but its not enough to change a record of non-delivery.

Vote them out #1


It’s election year and there are a lot of very good reasons for voting this government out.

The way their actions and policies have widened the racial divide is one of them, in particular co-governance.

There is no comfort in the decision to kick that particular can of worms down the road until next year.

The Government has slammed the election-year brakes on New Zealand’s plan for upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Cabinet agreed on Monday that ministers wouldn’t receive any further reports on developing a draft plan in response to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples until 2024, Newsroom can reveal. . . 

That means we won’t know what the draft plan proposes until after we vote.

The only way to stop it is to vote Labour out of government and the only way to achieve that is to vote for a National-led government which requires voting for National or Act.



The trend of polls last year was encouraging for those of us who want a National-led government after this year’s election.

With the dire state of the economy, education and health systems, employment, immigration and crime, it ought not be hard to get beat Labour.

However, MMP complicates matters.

Among the complications are the wee parties.

One of those is the Maori Party which could win more electorates than its party vote total would give it, causing an overhang.

That would mean the new government would need more than 61 seats to gain, and hold, a majority.

If the poll trend continues that wouldn’t matter, National and Act together would be able to form a government.

There’s far too much time for events to change that so while my heart would predict that combination in power, my head persuades me to be more cautious.

However, there is one prediction I am confident to make and that is that National’s Rangitata candidate James Maeger will win the seat from Labour.

He earned the selection through his personal attributes and work in the electorate and he’s been working even harder since he became the candidate.

He, like all good candidates, knows that non-partisan community work is an important part of the role.

Sometimes that work goes unnoticed, sometimes it pays off with unsolicited praise like this report on Timaru’s community Christmas dinner :

. . .Talking about the 30 volunteers who helped before, during and after the dinner, Rankin said some “really interesting people turned up” to help most of whom were new volunteers.

One volunteer was National candidate for Rangitata, James Meager, who helped out with preparations on Christmas Eve

“He was a stand-out for me because of how humble he was, and I didn’t know who he was until I saw his car. He even came on Christmas Day to help.” . . .

Humble isn’t a trait often associated with politicians but it’s one voters appreciate.

That’s not just publicity a would-be MP couldn’t buy, it’s genuine and unprompted appreciation of his character and values.

There has already been a lot of that in the way he’s working and there will be more.

That’s why I’m confident that he’ll turn Rangitata blue again.

I’m also confident that he won’t be taking it for granted and will be working hard and well to earn the trust, and votes, of the people he seeks to represent.

Rural round-up


Labour floundering on farming emissions :

Farmers are likely to be even more confused at Labour’s floundering approach to farming emissions following today’s announcement, National’s acting Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Labour is all over the show. Just a few months ago Labour were proposing to decimate sheep and beef farming by 20 per cent – now they are saying they want to work with the farming sector on how the pricing scheme will work and they will consider carbon sequestration.

“Labour’s process shows a complete disregard for farming realities, and the fact they have made this announcement four days before Christmas is cynical politics.

“Farmers have lost trust in Labour. This is too little, too late and doesn’t go far enough. . . 

Groundswell ‘disturbed’ by govt blinkers – Neal Wallace :

Leaders of the Groundswell ginger group say they are surprised at how little senior government ministers know about the impact of their policies on rural communities.

“Some of what we told them was new, which was disturbing,” the group’s co-founder, Bryce McKenzie, said after a top-level meeting this week.

McKenzie and fellow Groundswell founder Laurie Paterson met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and associate Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty to explain the concerns of their members.

He said they enjoyed the experience, with the scheduled 30-minute meeting lasting 70 minutes. . . 

Methane inhibitor bolus could reduce emissions by 70% :

A project to develop a sustained release methane inhibitor technology for grass-fed animals has received a funding boost from the Government.

Ruminant BioTech’s CALM (Cut Agricultural Livestock Methane) programme has secured nearly $8 million from the state. Ruminant BioTech investors will match the Crown’s cash injection.

The company aims to develop a commercially viable bolus by 2025 that delivers at least a 70% reduction in ruminant animals’ methane emissions over six months.

Ruminant BioTech chief executive George Reeves says the bolus has the potential to provide every dairy, sheep, and beef farmer in New Zealand with an effective, easy, “set and forget” methane reduction solution that is both highly effective and practical for grass-fed animal farming operations. . . 

Fonterra expects biotech products to drive future growth :

Fonterra’s global focus has shifted since the pandemic began, anticipating much of its future growth will stem from investment in high value growth in biotech products.

In response to the changing global market, the dairy co-operative has recently established a global markets business, headed up by long serving executive Judith Swales.

Her brief covers global consumer products, ingredients and food services businesses everywhere but China.

Swales said global dairy production was levelling off, given land constraints, climate change considerations and plateauing consumer demand for dairy products, such as milk, butter, cheese and yogurt. . . 

Why organic farming is not the way forward – Holger Kirchmann:

The aim of this article is to provide information about crop production data based on large-scale organic farming and to point toward major consequences. National statistics show lower organic yields than compiled in meta-analyses from farm- and plot-scale. Yields of organically cropped legumes were 20% and nonlegumes 40% lower than those of conventionally grown crops. Area estimates showed that almost two of three crops were legumes or legume mixtures in organic farming, whereas one of three crops was a legume in conventional cropping. Doubling land use for legumes in organic farming affected the type of food produced, being dominated by milk products and red meat. Over all crops, the organic yield gap was 35%. Since yields are lower under organic than conventional practices, more land is required to produce the same amount of agricultural crops. A 35% yield gap means that 50% more arable land is required. A demand for 50% more farmland imposes huge land use changes and makes one realize the wide-ranging environmental consequences that follow when converting to organic farming. In a relevant comparison between organic and conventional cropping systems, environmental consequences caused by land use change such as lost products (timber, fiber, energy, etc.) and lost ecosystem services (sequestered carbon in soil, wildlife, biodiversity, etc.) must be included. The concept of organic farming was founded on philosophical views about nature, not biological science. Natural means and methods were assumed to be superior. Verification of the reasoning and statements of the founders on why to abandon mineral fertilizers cannot be corroborated by science and is incorrect. Scientific evidence for the concept to abandon synthetic mineral fertilizers as nutrients for crops is lacking. The scientific community is obliged to follow rigorous scientific criteria—not biased views, prejudices, or beliefs. . . 

Wool and cotton outlook – Angus Jones :

International markets for wool and cotton have seen much volatility through the course of 2022 – with the lingering impacts of COVID and escalated geopolitical and economic uncertainty affecting the trade – and the year ahead could be equally turbulent, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says in a new industry podcast.

Speaking on the podcast, Turbulent 2022 for Cotton and Wool Prices, Rabobank associate analyst Edward McGeoch said local and global extreme weather events have significantly impacted cotton production while Australian wool production is on the rise.

Year in review – Cotton

There has been a lot of fluctuation with cotton prices through 2022, Mr McGeoch said.

“Cotton prices opened well off the back of strong performances in 2021 – kicking off the year with a local price of roughly $740 per bale. And we saw the price trend up significantly to an 11-year high, with rises of 29 per cent to achieve just under $1000 per bale. . . 

Survey explains polls


An online survey isn’t a scientific poll, but the majority opinion on four big government policies provide a reason why it’s sinking in real polls.

This would be spending far, far too much money fixing something that isn’t broken.

Taking assets from councils which own them, creating four layers of expensive bureaucracy, adding co-governance of five waters . . .  All very good reasons to vote for a National-led government that will repeal and replace this badly flawed policy.

The Spinoff says this should be first off Labour’s to-do list:

. . . The scheme is huge, costing an estimated $3.5 billion each year. Administration of the scheme alone is estimated at $500 million per annum. This bill is to be funded by a 1.39 percent tax increase on wages, matched by an equal levy on employers. As Inland Revenue has advised, most of the employer levy will eventually be passed on to workers via reduced wage increases, reducing strained family incomes by nearly 3 percent in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. 

A lot of people, including the self-employed, many migrants, and some precarious workers, will not be eligible. For those who are, the scheme sounds generous – anyone who loses their job because of redundancy or illness will qualify for 80 percent of their lost wages for up to six months. That in itself is a problem because it sets up a two-tier welfare system with higher rates – one might think of it as Koru club welfare for insurance recipients, compared to other beneficiaries in cattle class. . . 

It’s an expensive scheme that will give most to people who need it least and least help to those who need it most.



The government got rid of the legislation outlawing blasphemy and now wants to replace it with one protecting religion.

All these policies are deeply flawed and the survey shows they are also deeply unpopular.


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