365 days of gratitude

October 13, 2018

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

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

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

Then Canterbury won the shield and staved off multiple challenges.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Otaaaanoooooooo

September 14, 2014

Sigh

Hawke’s Bay have made comfortable work of their opening Shield challenge, producing a first half onslaught to account for Otago 41-0.

The match was effectively over after 40 minutes, the Magpies having run in five tries to lead 31-0 at the half. . . .


Labour lacks ambition for Otago

August 22, 2014

Labour is promising to create 3000 jobs a year for Otago which shows a distinct lack of ambition when compared with job growth over recent years:

David Cunliffe has committed to short-changing Otago on the job front with his pledge today to create 3000 more jobs in the region if elected, National’s Economic Development spokesman Steven Joyce says.

“In his press release today, Mr Cunliffe announced that Labour’s policies would create 3,000 more jobs in Otago in the next three years. However that would be a major slowdown on job growth achieved in the last five years,” Mr Joyce says.

“In the last five years our policy mix has seen 23,000 extra jobs created in the Otago region according to Statistics New Zealand. That’s an average of 4,600 jobs a year. Mr Cunliffe is proposing to cut that growth rate by nearly 80 per cent with his ‘economic upgrade’.

“On the one hand I understand Mr Cunliffe’s lack of ambition. A Labour-Greens government with at least four big extra taxes and large amounts of extra spending and the high interest rates that go with it would be a massive drag on the Otago economy.

“On the other hand, with their policy prescription I think they would struggle to even create the extra 1000 jobs a year he suggests.

“Under this Government Otago’s unemployment rate has dropped to 3.3 per cent – one of the lowest in the country.

“And great Otago companies are flat out creating the Innovation and Knowledge Centre Mr Cunliffe says he wants to create.

“Mr Cunliffe is struggling under the weight of his own lack of knowledge about what is happening in the region.

“I suspect that once Otago people compare their economic performance under this government with Mr Cunliffe’s prescription, they will likely tell him to keep his ‘economic upgrade’.”

The Otago unemployment rate is now at about 3.5%.

That’s getting down to the unemployable – those who either can’t or won’t work for a variety of reasons.

One reason for that is government policies and the economic climate, including low interest rates, have given businesses the confidence to invest and expand.

But that confidence will be severely dented by the anti-business, anti-progress policies Labour and its coalition partners – the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties would impose on us.

They are threatening us with more and higher taxes, greater compliance costs, less flexible employment laws, higher KiwiSaver contributions, higher interest rates . . .

None of those is conducive to business growth and the jobs which rely on it.


Presbyterian approach to recovery prudent

December 24, 2013

The ODT opines:

Even though the Treasury forecasts have been notoriously cautious for many years, there is a general feeling within the business and economic communities that New Zealand is about to start a purple patch of economic growth.

With the economy set to grow by 3.6% in the coming financial year, followed by annual growth of between 2.1% and 2.4% for the following two years, New Zealand’s economy may well be the envy of many in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development. Mr English is rated with restoring the Crown accounts to surplus and doing more than his fair share of the heavy lifting on policy by the publication Trans Tasman. The deputy prime minister has driven reform in the state sector to use resources more effectively and deliver higher quality services. In the House, he has become a commanding performer, blunting Opposition attacks. . .

In past times of good fortune, government finance ministers have come under strong pressure to try to ensure re-election by making big-spending election promises. Those times have hopefully passed. The importance of having a sound economy, the growing of employment, certainty for businesses and households must overshadow the individual ambitions of politicians. . .

We must take the opportunity the sunnier outlook provides to make hay and put away a good harvest like good ants rather than squander it like grasshoppers.

The Southland Times also combines praise with the need for caution:

A slew of economic reports in the past week or two have shown an ever-sunnier view ahead for New Zealand, and especially Otago and Southland.

Business New Zealand’s latest surveys of services and manufacturing sectors showed strong expansion under way across the country but with stellar scores Otago-Southland region far eclipsing all other regions. In Westpac’s survey of regional economic confidence Southland scored second highest. . .

It is not hard to pick the source of the extra optimism here in the south. Take a bow, Mrs Cow. . .

The glow from the white gold is spreading throughout the economy, earning money and creating jobs not just on-farm but in servicing and supplying them and the people who live on them.

Treasury is forecasting economic growth next year of 3.6 per cent.

Barely a day later Statistics NZ announced that a 17 per cent surge in agricultural production had helped growth to hit 3.5 per cent already. Higher than Australia.

We can laugh at that, but it should be remembered that it is not unusual for New Zealand to grow faster than Australia, or even beat them at cricket. The problem is that it always proves a one-off. While the Kiwi economy puts on bursts of speed, the Aussie trucks along steadily and just like the fabled tortoise, wins the race.

Just as on the rugby field, the champion team is the one that performs consistently, week-in, week-out, not the one that plays the occasional blinder, then falls apart a week later. Graphs of New Zealand’s growth rate tend to be too much like Fiordland’s landscape: leaping and plunging in a fashion adventure tourism operators might appreciate but stolid Southlanders should not.

In the past, the attitude of both individuals and Governments has all too often been “Great! Crisis over. Lets go back to the bad habits that created it.”

That would be easy and wrong, not just for individuals but the country.

That is an important  message for the run-up to next year’s election.

A change in government would undo all the good that’s been done and take us back to the over taxing, over spending policies of the Labour-led government which put the country into recession before the rest of the world.

We still carry too much debt. We continue to run nasty current account deficits. And the evidence is that Aucklanders at least have not yet cured their mania for property bubbles.

It is easy to go on a diet, to quit smoking, to start saving for the future. The harder part is to keep doing it. The reward for losing a kilogram is a cream cake. And all too quickly, the old habits return.

The secret to sustained economic success is not a bottle of miracle oil, or a lucky puff of the economic trade winds. It is discipline and perseverance.

Solid southern men and women know that. We should set an example for those northerly types: eat the cupcake, but sell the cream.

We can celebrate the purple patch but can’t afford to squander the opportunities it will provide to strengthen the economy and help people most in need.

As the ODT says:

. . . Balancing the budget is important. Taking on less debt is important. Ensuring business confidence leads to job growth is important. Ensuring social justice remains a key part of the country’s psyche is important. Mr English knows the challenges. In 2014, he must balance the needs of the Government with the needs of the people.

A Presbyterian approach to the recovery is prudent and necessary to ensure we don’t return to the bad habits of the past and to provide weather-proofing to help us withstand the next storms.

The need for this isn’t just economic but social. A strong economy is the only sustainable way to provide first-world health, education and other services that address the needs of the people.


20-19

September 1, 2013

Hawkes Bay 20 – Otago 19.

Congratulations Alwyn, an electronic bottle of wine of your choice awaits you.


Mr Brown’s boys

September 1, 2013

The Otago rugby team  and the Ranfurly shield they won were welcomed back to Dunedin last week by a crowd of 1000 and a banner reading: “Welcome Home, Mr Brown’s Boys”.

The province has celebrated but coach Tony Brown and the team have been focussed on something more important than celebrating the win – retaining the shield.

. . . There is no point giving up the trophy in week one after having waited more than 20,000 days to have it. The first week has been a great ride and no-one wants to jump off so quickly. . .

Forsyth Barr Stadium has been renamed Tony Brown’s place for the occasion.

We were at Carisbrook when it was dubbed Tony Brown’s place for a Super 12 final in 1999.

Unfortunately the Highlanders weren’t able to beat the Crusaders that day.

All my fingers and toes are crossed that the party at Tony Brown’s place this afternoon when Otago defends the shield against the Hawkes Bay Magpies, has a much happier outcome.

Go Otaaaago!

P.S.

Alwyn and I have a bottle of Otago or Hawkes Bay wine of the winner’s choice on the results. I’m happy to accept the same wager from others who doubt Otago.


Otaaaago!

August 23, 2013

Otago 25 – Waikato 19.

Waikato 19 (Mikkelson try; Renata 4 pen, con)

Otago 26 (Parker, Ioane try; 4 pen, 2 con)

79 mins: Waikato 19 Otago 26

The Blue & Golds have won the Ranfurly Shield for the first time since 1957.

It’s been back on the right side of the Waitaki since then, when Southland won it.

But in spite of many heart-stopping close encounters, and some very good teams, including many All Blacks amongst whom was current coach Tony Brown, it’s taken Otago 56 years to win back the log of wood.


We’re in the final

October 19, 2012

Twelve months is a long time in rugby.

A year ago Otago was in the doldrums, tonight the team beat Tasman 41 – 34 to secure a spot in the final.

Is it too much to hope that Southland will beat Counties Manakau tomorrow to provide a Southern showdown and give Otago a home final?

 


Parker still picking on producers

August 13, 2011

Labour Party MP David Parker reckons capital gains tax will be “fairer” because:

He also believed farm owners were not being taxed enough and the CGT would address that also.

“The only people that can afford a farm are Queen Street farmers, foreign owners or those who have inherited millions.”

This shows how little he knows of the electorate he once represented and how little he understands his party’s policy.

CTG will make it more difficult for people to buy farms. It will concentrate farm ownership in fewer hands and lead to absentee ownership.

And quite why productive proprty should be taxed when art art collections would be exempt.

But perhaps he’s picking on producers again in the hope of appealing to voters in Epsom where there willbe more art collectors than farmers.

But they too know that Labour’s CTG is so complicated, complex and full of holes the only ones who will gain from it are the professionals who’ll be employed to drive trucks through it.


Why stand to lose?

August 9, 2011

During the 2002 election campaign we knew National’s chances of winning were slim but those of us working in Otago didn’t expect to lose the seat as well.

I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought Labour’s candidate, David Parker, didn’t rate his own chances very highly in the seat and possibly didn’t even want to win it. I’ve always wondered if he was standing to lose the seat but gain a toe in the door for a Dunedin seat when one of the city MPs retired.

However, whether or not he intended to win he did and served three years as an electorate MP before Jacqui Dean won the seat back for National in 2005.

Boundaries changed and the electorate’s name changed too. He stood in the new Waitaki electorate in 2008 and this time made it quite clear he wasn’t trying to win. He conceded to Jacqui  at a public meeting in Geraldine a couple of weeks before the election much to the consternation of Labour Party volunteers who were supporting him.

They made it clear to their party HQ that Parker wouldn’t be welcome back as a candidate. When he didn’t put his name forward to succeed Pete Hodgson in Dunedin North it was assumed he’d decided he preferred being a list MP. His decision to stand in Epsom doesn’t change that because he’s very unlikely to win.

Why, then, is he doing it?

Could it be because this seat will get a lot of media attention which will help his leadership aspirations? Could it also be that he’s not only looking for Phil Goff’s job but his seat as well?

Is he standing in Epsom not to win but to make a showing in Auckland and help his chances at selection in Mt Roskill when Goff retires?

P.S. His media release included this:

National and Act are taking the people of Epsom for granted and treating them like sheep to try and construct an outcome that brings MMP into disrepute . . .

That’s a bit rich when one of the aspects people most dislike about MMP is not accommodations made publicly between parties before elections, but that MPs voted out of an electorate come back on the list in exactly the way he did.


To stand or not to stand

July 21, 2011

National and Act are being criticised for a possible deal under which Act wouldn’t stand candidates in marginal seats.

MMP allows such deals and it’s not very different from parties telling supporters how to rank their preferences under Preferential Voting systems.

While there might not have been an overt deal before, minor parties have made it clear they aren’t seeking electorate votes in previous elections.

I’ve attended meet-the-candidates meeting in Waitaki, and before that Otago every election since MMP was introduced and every Green candidate has told supporters s/he’s only interested in the party vote and they should give their electorate vote to Labour.

Minor parties are unlikely to win electorate seats and when it’s the party vote that determines the make-up of parliament, not winning seats doesn’t affect how many MPs they get. But standing or not standing candidates in electorates can influence the outcome for those seats.

In 1999 the Green Party candidate for Otago got 1,872 votes. In the 2002 election the party didn’t stand a candidate in the electorate and Gavan Herlihy, the sitting National MP lost to Labour’s David Parker by 684 votes. Act’s candidate Gerry Eckhoff got 1,294 votes and while not all those votes would have gone to National, enough probably would have to have enabled him to hold the seat.

Not putting up electorate candidates can come at a cost. Regardless of whether or not they’re seeking electorate votes, having a candidate contesting a seat can help boost list votes.

However, standing in every electorate is expensive and it also requires a party to have enough potential candidates, of sufficient calibre, to ensure they don’t do more harm than good.

If a party doesn’t have enough resources – human and financial – to contest all seats properly, it’s  better putting its efforts into the party vote alone.


Untrue colours

May 30, 2011

Towards the end of my time at high school the board decided on a uniform change.

The grey gym frock which we wore with short sleeved shirts and socks in summer and long sleeved shirts and black tights in winters was to be replaced with a red tartan kilt in winter and a blue dress in summer.

“Blue? Why blue when the school colours were red and black?” we asked.

Those on the right side of the Waitaki River who are interested in rugby, and some who are not, are asking a similar question today: green, why green?

The question comes in response to the decision to change the Highlanders’ jersey from blue, gold and maroon the colours of Otago, North Otago and Southland, to green the colour of um, the grass they play on and some other province.

Respondents to an ODT poll have voted 90% (1321) to 10% (148) to keep the southern colours.

The Facebook page has attracted 1,853 likes and lots of comments including this from National’s Dunedin MP (and rugby referee) Michael Woodhouse:

 . . .  As for this happening because of the many players drafted in from outside the franchise area – sorry to be blunt but it’s not about you! You will leave. The fans won’t. this is about the thousands of fans who support this team through thick and thin over the past 15 years. Not a single one of them relates to anything but blue, maroon and gold. C’mon guys, be big enough to stop or reverse the announcement.

And an online petition has been launched saying:

Tradition and recognition is a huge part of the sport and yet the Highlanders Management seek to dissociate the Highlanders from the region. Sign this petition and Boycott the Force game!

The Highlanders have struggled for several seasons, severely testing the loyalty of fans. This year they’ve had some good wins and have been  regaining  support. This silly change in colours threatens to lose it again.

Have the people behind it spent too much time at the bottom of rucks?


Go Otaaaaago

August 7, 2010

The Waitaki River has been not just a geographic boundary, it has also marked an historical, social, cultural and – at times – political division between Otago and Canterbury .

However, those of us on the right side of the Waitaki accept that those on the other side are South Islanders and we’ll back them against any but our own.

The relationship between Otago and Southland is much closer. We rarely regard each other as rivals and many of us would be hard pressed to say exactly where the boundary between the two provinces is.

The battles of one are the battles of both – as witnessed by the combined action by both provinces backed by the ODT and Southland Times to keep neurological services in Dunedin.

If either Southland or Otago was playing Canterbury, or any other team, for the Ranfurly Shield tonight we’d have no doubt about which team we wanted to win.

But as Otago prepares to challenge Southland for the shield the rivalry is friendlier. 

I say go Otaaago and Brunette is backing the boys from further south.

But while blue and gold supporters want their team to win and maroon and gold fans are right behind theirs, deep down there’s a feeling that as long as the shield stays on the right side of the Waitaki, it doesn’t really matter which team holds it.


The last test

June 20, 2010

The first game I can remember watching at Carisbrrok was a match between Otago and the Lions.

It would have been 1975ish, in the days when touring teams toured the provinces.

I can’t remember the score though I suspect we lost. It wasn’t the only Otago loss I’ve watched but I also saw some wins, most notably the day the team captained by Taine Randall won the NPC final.

We used to go down to Dunedin regularly for NPC games and in the early days of the Super 12 but in recent years we’ve had other priorities.

But we went down again for Carisbrook’s 37th and final rugby test match last night.

The city was buzzing and turned on a glroious day – blue sky, sunshine and almost no wind. The mild temperature would have been welcomed by the teams playing nude rugby in the afternoon.

As part of the pre-test entertainment, Colin Meads and Otago’s favourite sons Josh Kronfeld and Jeff Wilson told us there favourite memories of the ground.

Deborah Wai Kapohe and Judd Arthur sang the national anthems – powerfully.

Wales scored first and second, then the All Blacks found their feet.

After the final whistle, with the score at 42 -9, the City of Dunedin Pipe Band marched on to the ground to play Auld Lang Syne, Jeff Wilson dug out a piece of turf to be taken to the new Forsyth Barr Stadium and the celebration finished with a fireworks display.

The ODT editorialises in tribute to Carisbrook here.

Jim Mora chatted to Ian Galloway and Ron Polenski about Carisbrook here.

UPDATE: Keeping Stock pays tribute too.


Would be MPs need enthusiasm

June 5, 2010

Dunedin North MP, Pete Hodgson, has announced he’ll retire at next year’s election.

Kiwiblog speculates that list MP David Parker is a likely successor.

If so he will need to show more enthusiasm for winning and holding the seat than he did for Otago and Waitaki.

I think Parker was surprised to win Otago in 2002 and he didn’t make much effort to hold it. I have some sympathy with him on that because it can’t have been easy juggling commitments to a young family in Dunedin with work in Wellington and one of the biggest electorates in the country.

His candidacy for Waitaki (which was formed from most of Otago and Aoraki when the boundaries changed) at the last election was at best perfunctory. He conceded defeat to National MP Jacqui Dean at a public meeting in Geraldine a couple of weeks before polling day much to the horror of Labour’s volunteers who were working in the electorate.

Dunedin North is much redder than Waitaki and far more compact. It’s just 642 square KMs compared with Waitaki’s 34,888 sq kms, and therefore much easier to service.


Tuesday’s answers

May 4, 2010

Monday’s questions were:

1.  What does Otakou/Otago mean?

2. Who wrote The Man Whose Mother Was  A Pirate?

3. What does the Plimsol line indicate?

4. People who suffer from atelophobia are afraid of what?

5. What does q.e.d. (quod erat demonstrandum)  mean?

Points for answers:

Kismet got three and, given some of the answers which followed a bonus for keeping a straight face.

Bearhunter and Angela get electornic bouquets for getting five right and a bonus for that achievement.

Gravedodger got one and bonuses for lateral thinking, humour and imagaination.

Andrei got three right; in the interests of fairness can have a straight face bonus too and another for the maths.

David got two with bonuses for extra information and a straight face.

PDM got one and bonuses for lateral thinking, nearly straight face and like me getting lost in the algebra.

Paul got three with a bonus for lateral thinking.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


To holiday or not to holiday is the annual question

March 22, 2010

If the captain of the John Wikcliffe had known what chaos and confusion his arrival at Port Chalmers would cause future citizens of Otago and Southland, he might have chosen a more convenient date.

As it was he arrived on March 23rd and some powers that be subsequently decreed that that date would be the two provinces’ anniversary day and be observed on the Monday closet to it.

That’s today.

The trouble is those of us on the right side of the Waitaki and of independent mind and not everyone wants to take today off. Some would prefer to tack the day on to Easter which is usually not far away instead.

Consequently, as happens every year, some businesses and offices are open and some are not. Some people are taking a day off and others are saving it for a couple of weeks to turn the four-day Easter break into a five day one.

As employers with a seven day a week operation, we have to pay those who work today holiday rates even if they’d rather work today and have a day off in a fortnight.

That includes anyone who might be getting stock in to send to the works  because if no-one does that today freezing workers – who may or may not be working today – will have nothing to do tomorrow.

Living on the right side of the Waitaki has a lot to recommend but, but the timing of our anniversary day isn’t one of them.


Reporter leaves geographical tracks

November 12, 2009

The headline says: Train leaves track leaving major line closed in Southland.

The story says:

A train left its tracks between Canterbury and Otago last night, flipping five of its carriages onto their sides.

 
Kiwirail engineers are working to right nine freight cars which derailed last night, closing the main line between Christchurch and Dunedin.

I don’t think it’s possible for a train to leave its tracks between Canterbury and Otago because they border each other at the Waitaki River.

The derailment must have happened in one province or the other and whichever it was the part of the line between Christchurch or Dunedin it happened on is well north of Southland.

Don’t reporters know New Zealand geogrpahy?

Aren’t subs supposed to correct these things?


Nothing New in Buddy MPs

May 5, 2009

The misunderstanding by TV1 and the NZ Herald  over Melissa Lee as the List MP for Mount Albert has raised the subject of Buddy MPs.

In the old days under First Past the Post Labour and National used to assign MPs to neighbouring electorates which the party didn’t hold.

These Buddy MPs didn’t have offices, but they provided an alternative advocate from the sitting MP for constituents and also provided a focus for party members and supporters.

MMP has changed things a bit because electorates have increased in geographical size and the number of constituents and other parties have entered parliament.

The wee parties with only a handful of MPs can’t spread themselves over all the electorates in the country. But Labour and National have tried to ensure they have a presence in each electorate they don’t hold and because list MPs have an allowance for a base and staff they often set up an office.

David Parker, who lost Otago to Jacqui Dean in 2005, kept a staffed office in Oamaru and an empty one in Alexandra for the next three years and called himself the Otago Labour MP or variations on that theme.  I haven’t noticed any signage for the offices since the last election and as his party holds only two electorates south of Christchurch it may indicate the party has given up on the big rural electorate to have a presence in Invercargill and/or Timaru.

Katherine Rich had an office in Dunedin and was known as that city’s National list MP throughout her term in parliament.  Her successor Michael Woodhouse has a Dunedin base and is referred to as Dunedin list MP.

Labour kept an office in Timaru after losing the Aoraki electorate to Jo Goodhew in 2005 and regularly advertised it as the base for Labour’s Timaru electorate MP, although there isn’t a Timaru Electorate and hasn’t been one since 1996.

Buddy MPs may be motivated at least as much by a desire to promote themselves and their parties as they are by helping people but they do give people an alternative point of contact for assistance or advocacy.

They also help keep electorate MPs’ attention on their electorates and constituents because they know the Buddy MPs will take any opportunity they give them to make political capital from any shortcomings – real or perceived – in their performance.


Who was the first to discover gold in Otago? UPdated

April 13, 2009

If you’d asked me who was the first to discover gold in Otago I’d have said Gabriel Read whose name lives on in Gabriels Gully near Lawrence.

But I’d have been wrong.

The first workable goldfield was discovered by an Indian prospector, Edward Peters, three years before Read made his find.

I discovered this in this morning’s ODT because Governor General Hon Sir Anand Satyanand unveiled a plaque   in honour of Peters yesterday.

UPDATE: Didn’t Winston Peters reckon Maori orginiated from China? Maybe he also had Indian ancestors?


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