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January 26, 2017

New Zealand shares the top slot with Denmark  in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.


(TI CPI) has found that the New Zealand and Denmark public sectors are the least corrupt in the world.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is the leading global indicator of public sector corruption. Compiled by Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), it is a yearly snapshot of the relative degree of corruption world-wide, arrived at by scoring and ranking the public sectors in countries from all over the globe. This year’s Index encompasses 176 countries.

When the Corruption Perceptions Index is produced each year, it reinforces the global importance of transparency in the public sector.

“Our public sector agencies have focused successfully on developing processes that prevent corruption and these contribute to New Zealand’s stand-out reputation for a trusted public sector” says Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) Chair, Suzanne Snively. “New Zealand trades on its low corruption reputation and we are increasingly finding how to transfer these behaviours from our public to our private sector to leverage off this enviable reputation for integrity.”

“Our public servants from throughout the country have a right to celebrate this news. The TI-CPI proves that they are working to do a good job preventing corrupt behaviour.”

Deloitte Partner, Barry Jordan notes: “It’s tremendous to see Transparency International’s latest score for New Zealand. In recent years, New Zealand’s regulators, law enforcement officers, public sector organisations and professional services firms have all invested considerably more in identifying and preventing bribery and corruption. This helps build public trust and business confidence.”

“A larger number of public sector agencies have integrated corruption prevention activities into their regular routine, in line with the northern European countries,” adds Snively. “Significantly, they are moving from defensiveness and complacency, increasingly providing training and monitoring of bribery and corruption in order to stop it.”

She continues, “Most importantly, we have noticed a growing awareness that public sector leaders can inspire businesses and communities to also build on the value integrity contributes to creating a more prosperous society.”

The biggest challenge for New Zealand public servants to maintain a top ranking on the TI-CPI has been a tendency to become complacent. The prevention of corruption can be regarded as a lesser priority, given all the other pressures, including earthquakes, the global financial crisis and the consequent reductions in baseline funding.

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) is one of around 100 local chapters of Berlin-based Transparency International. It is one of only 22 Chapters from countries with a reputation as low corruption environments. For many of the other chapters, corruption is such a major part of daily life that they are focused on enforcement and often unable to experience the positive impact of corruption-prevention measures.

TINZ Patron Sir Don notes that: “as a previous Commonwealth Secretary General, I am conscious of the unique features of the New Zealand’s trustworthy public service. The TI -CPI score is an independent and objective assessment and is sending a clear message to anyone skeptical about the integrity of our public service. It’s time to work harder and harvest the benefits of this authentic brand, to increase sales and profits creating jobs and widening the tax base to invest in essential services like education and healthcare.”

Rebecca Smith, Executive Director of the New Zealand Story, commended Transparency International NZ for its clarity and sense of purpose. “With a public sector that works assiduously to build strong integrity systems, it becomes easier for business to gain market access offshore. There are clear material as well as moral benefits associated with transparency and integrity.

Corruption erodes trust and makes the powerful more powerful.

Topping the index doesn’t mean there is no corruption and we need continued vigilance to detect and deter it.

The benefits to New Zealand, New Zealanders, visitors and those with whom we trade from our reputation for relative lack of corruption are immeasurable.

First place in the TI CPI follows top ranking in Legatum’s prosperity index and the World Bank’s ease of doing business report.

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Rural round-up

September 29, 2015

PM announces Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the creation of a 620,000 km2 Ocean Sanctuary in the Kermadec region, one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth.

“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life,” Mr Key says.

“It will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area twice the size of our landmass, and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland. . . 

John Key's photo.

“Pretty damned exciting news” say Kermadec campaigners:

Champagne corks popped as the news was released that the Kermadec region has become an ocean sanctuary. Kermadec campaigners Forest & Bird, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF-New Zealand were together when they heard the news.

The Prime Minister John Key made the momentous announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The creation of the Sanctuary once again puts New Zealand at the forefront of marine protection on the international stage.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km northeast of the Bay of Plenty New Zealand. The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres. . . .

Proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

With no forewarning from Government the industry needs time to consider the full implications, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said.

“The seafood industry is committed to rational and effective marine conservation measures. These include a representative network of BPAs (Benthic Protected Areas) established at the industry’s behest and implemented throughout 30 per cent of the Exclusive Economic Zone, covering an area larger than the Kermadecs. . . 

Tatua Cooperative beats market with $7.10/kgMS payout for 2015 – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Tatua Cooperative Dairy Co, the Tatuanui-based dairy company founded 100 years ago, set the 2015 payout for its farmer suppliers at $7.10 per kilogram of milk solids, the highest of any New Zealand processor, while affirming a drop in payout for 2016.

Revenue rose to $286 million in the 12 months ended July 31, from $266 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Earnings before milk payout, retentions and tax fell to $121.2 million, from $136.4 million a year earlier.

Chairman Stephen Allen said the decline in pretax earnings reflected an increase in overall milk collection from farmers in the latest year and the “dramatic decline” in dairy prices. It equates to a payout $7.73/kgMS before retentions and tax. The company retained 63 cents/kgMS before tax. . . 

Migrant worker scam uncovered:

More than 30 Filipino workers reportedly paid $15,000 to obtain false documents clearing them to work on New Zealand dairy farms.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed multiple Filipino workers have provided false and misleading information when applying for visas here.

Immigration NZ assistant general manager Peter Elms said the department started scrutinising visas more closely after discovering multiple issues, relating to claimed work experience and qualifications.

The department has not confirmed the number of cases that it is aware of, nor whether it was investigating, but the Philippine government said it was investigating at least 30 cases. The Philippine government’s Overseas Employment Administration is also looking into the claims. . . 

Alliance says merger with Silver Fern would risk creating ‘beached whale’ as rival tackles over-capacity – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says any merger with Silver Fern Farms risks creating a “big beached whale” of the New Zealand meat industry because its rival needs the capital offered by China’s Bright Food just to rationalise plant capacity and reduce its debt burden.

Bright Foods’ Shanghai Maling Aquarius unit has offered to invest $261 million cash in Silver Fern Farms (SFF) to become a 50-50 partner with the Dunedin-based meat company in a deal that would leave the business debt free and with funds to upgrade plants, spend more marketing higher-value meat products and provide a new route into China.

The injection of funds has stoked speculation a stronger SFF could subsequently dictate terms for a tie-up with Alliance, something the two firms have failed to achieve in a decade of sporadic talks. Alliance says it made an offer to SFF prior to the rival embarking on its capital-raising process and had “worked hard to engage with SFF and discuss opportunities for industry consolidation” over the past 10 years. . . 

Partnering with China – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been in Beijing at the NZ –China Council Forum. Led by Minister Steven Joyce and co-chaired by Sir Don McKinnon, it has been all about building partnerships.

There were about fifty New Zealanders there, including industry folk and staff from the relevant Government ministries – Trade and Enterprise, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Primary Industries. And there was a similar number of Chinese people from industry and their government.

Now to some people, the idea of building partnerships with China is anathema. Ten days ago I was involved in a passionate debate in Wellington about just that topic. It is all right to trade with the Chinese, so the argument went, but we should not think of partnering. The Chinese are different, and we should not in any way imply support for their way of doing business. . . 

Surge in water data for World Rivers Day:

To mark World Rivers Day this Sunday, regional councils are releasing their latest water quality data on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa website, which this year includes lake quality monitoring.

Launched in March 2014, www.lawa.org.nz began reporting water quality results at 1100 river sites. Since then, it has expanded into coastal bathing beaches and water allocation, tripling the number of monitoring sites for which data is available.

From this weekend, users will also be able access water quality data for monitored lakes, providing a more complete picture of the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Stephen Woodhead, chair of the regional sector group of Local Government New Zealand, said that public debate showed that rivers and lakes were  important to New Zealanders and regional councils took their role in water stewardship very seriously. . . 

Drought-hit farmers sow grass seed donations – Annabelle Tukia:

Ten north Canterbury farmers are about to get some relief from the drought that has plagued their region for the past year after a group of business owners got together to try to ease the financial burden of the dry spell.

It’s been a tough 12 months on Damian Harrison’s Cheviot farm.

“This drought has been like driving in a tunnel, and you drive and drive and drive and never see daylight at the end,” says Mr Harrison.

But today at last there was a little ray of hope, in the form of Murray Stackhouse and his tractor and drill. The local contractor, along with a machinery company, have got together and are re-sowing grass onto 10 drought-stricken north Canterbury farms for free. . . 

Indonesia reopens door to NZ beef imports:

Indonesian media are reporting that trade officials there have done a u-turn on efforts to cut down imports of beef from New Zealand.

The Indonesian Trade Ministry has issued permits for the State Logistics Agency to import as much as 10,000 tonnes of beef from New Zealand.

The ministry said it wanted to stabilise meat prices in the country, and New Zealand was chosen because the price of beef from here was lower than the cost of Australian meat. . . 

NZ Honey fights MPI over alleged health claims on Manuka Doctor, Manuka Pharm branding – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Honey International, the closely-held honey products maker, wants a judicial declaration on whether its trademarks Manuka Doctor and Manuka Pharm amount to health claims after the Ministry of Primary Industries withdrew export approvals, blocking the firm’s sales into certain markets.

MPI has been cracking down on the manuka honey industry amid international criticism there was more manuka honey coming out of the country than New Zealand actually produces. With no industry consensus on what constitutes manuka honey, MPI introduced an interim labelling guideline in July 2014 to give the industry clarity and protect consumers from false claims, as well as to try to improve credibility of the manuka products. . . 

Calf collection paves way for fertility project:

A huge logistical exercise that involved collecting hundreds of calves from farms all over the North Island has set the scene for a ground-breaking research programme aimed at lifting fertility rates in the dairy industry.

In recent weeks, heifer calves from 619 farms across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay have been collected so that they can be reared and milked together as one herd. The “Animal Model” research herd will comprise equal numbers of Holstein Friesian calves with very high and very low fertility genetics, carefully selected from contract matings in spring last year and purchased from farmers by DairyNZ. . . 


World class who?

June 2, 2014

Do you know who Claudia Batten, Andrew Adamson, Neville Jordan,Dr Catherine Mohr  and Dr Murray Brennan are?

They were honoured at the 2014 World Class New Zealand Awards last week but I suspect most of us know little about the awards, or those who won them.

. . . digital entrepreneur Claudia Batten was named the youngest ever Supreme Award winner.

Ms Batten, 39, stood out as not only a serial entrepreneur but also for her “degree of engagement” in supporting other Kiwis in the start-up scene, according to one of the judges, Phil Veal.

“She’d achieved a remarkable measure of success but she had actively in the last several years been engaged in giving back to New Zealand,” Mr Veal said.

Colorado-based Ms Batten, who began her career in commercial law, was a founding member of two highly successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Others recognised included Andrew Adamson, director of the animated box office hit Shrek, who flew from Russia to receive his award for services to the creative sector.

Multi-millionaire Wellington businessman-turned-investor Neville Jordan accepted his award for services to business and investment.

Surgical robotics technologist Dr Catherine Mohr was recognised for her global impact on life sciences and renowned surgical oncologist Dr Murray Brennan was awarded for his contributions to research.

World Class New Zealand also acknowledged the substantial impact American technology entrepreneur and Kiwi Landing Pad director Craig Elliott has had on New Zealand’s standing in America’s tech world, announcing him this year’s Friend of New Zealand.

The awards, established by Kea (Kiwi Expatriates Association) New Zealand in 2003, include among past winners former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Don McKinnon, fashion entrepreneur Peri Drysdale and physicist Sir Paul Callaghan, who was recognised posthumously in 2012.

Kea New Zealand global chief executive Craig Donaldson said last night’s winners were saluted for taking flight and creating global success against all odds.

“Their success has been earned in workplaces far less glamorous than the world-famous sports fields and concert stages but their contribution to our country is immense and should be widely promoted to inspire others to dream big.”

Had they won on sports fields or concert stages we’d probably know more about them.

But success in business and science usually take place below the popular radar.

Mr Donaldson said the awards played a vital role in recognising “tall poppies”, particularly when New Zealanders were not confident at promoting their successes.

“There are so many amazing Kiwis around the world who have done world-class things but none of us have heard about them.” . . .

More’s the pity.

Success in business, science and any other positive field of endeavour should be celebrated the way successes in sport and the arts are.

This year’s judges included Sir Tipene O’Regan, Professor Margaret Brimble, Dr Craig Nevill-Manning, Peri Drysdale, Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas and Jon Mayson.

Q & A The Herald asked the six winners the same set of questions:

1. Was there a specific moment or turning point that helped launch your career? What drove you to make the choices you made?
2. In your opinion, is there something special that sets Kiwis apart or helps Kiwis succeed on the world stage?
3. What can New Zealanders do better to improve their chances of success overseas?
4. Which one New Zealander do you feel epitomises the Kiwi attitude to success and why?
5. What does being a World Class New Zealander mean to you?
6. Sum up your career in 10 words or less.

Answers include:

Dr Murray Brennan . . .

3. Having your own vision is important, but equally so is the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes and see the opportunities that they see. It may be a given, but hard work isn’t just an important factor in success, it’s inevitable. . .

5. A deep feeling of gratitude. While I have been recognised in other parts of the world for my work, to be honoured with this award here in New Zealand by such an esteemed group of judges is a special milestone.

6. Otago education, serendipity, hard work, tenacity, vision, next generation investment.

Dr Catherine Mohr . . .

3. Our greatest strengths are often the source of vulnerabilities as well. The very dauntless attitude that leads Kiwis to take on anything, can lead to a tendency to reinvent when it might be better to adapt, or to change what is there currently, when it may be better to simply move forward. . . 

5. As a New Zealander who largely grew up away from New Zealand, being a Kiwi has always been an anchor of my identity. I felt great pride to be a part of this community. It is an incredible honour to be receiving this award. It is like being welcomed home.

6. Finding ways to use technology to improve the human condition.

Neville Jordan . . .

3. Understand their place in the world and behave as a world citizen. . .

5. It provides a quiet space within; to reflect on and about all those who have helped me along the way.

6. Vision, courage and stamina.

Claudia Batten . . . 

3. We have to realise that when we step on to the world stage there is another code, another set of rules, and learn them. I think we can be a little naive; a little too “smell of the oily rag”.

4. Maybe it’s human nature to want to hear about soap stars and athletes. I find it repetitive and uninspired. We should talk about the Sarah Robb O’Hagans, Victoria Ransoms, Greg Crosses, Jonty Kelts and Guy Horrocks a lot more than we do every one of them pushing boundaries and setting new standards internationally.

5. As Kiwis on the world stage we have an obligation to represent all the positives that people associate with New Zealanders and then take it to another level. We need to be out there setting the groundwork so that others can have a slightly less bumpy road as they come in behind us.

6. A squiggly line!

Craig Elliott . . .

3. New Zealanders should not be afraid to raise their hands and tell the world about their good ideas. . . .

5. Being an “American” World Class New Zealander allows me to help more New Zealand entrepreneurs and serve as their network into Silicon Valley. Any way I can bring attention to the innovation in New Zealand is fantastic and I’m honoured to be able to help.

6. Farm boy turned high tech CEO/fly fisherman.

 This refers to those who’ve been awarded Queen’s Birthday honours, but it applies equally to these people and the many others most of us don’t know who make a positive difference every day:

It’s important that we recognise those who make a difference in our communities.


Republic inevitable – McKinnon

April 7, 2014

Sir Don McKinnon, former deputy Prime Minister and Commonwealth Secretary General, says it’s inevitable that New Zealand will become a republic.

“I think it’s inevitable. I don’t know when and I’m not going to campaign actively one way or the other. I have a great respect for Her Majesty the Queen. I had so many meetings with her, and I have respect for Prince Charles. We had him here a little over a year ago and he proved very popular with the people. But it’s a debate that will continue, it’s important we have a good debate about this and about the flag.

“I think we have been for a long time, and I’m quite certain the Royal Family understands that completely. Look, 54 countries in the Commonwealth, only 16 are realms, and I can tell you now, one Caribbean publicly and three Caribbean privately are probably going to give up that relationship with the monarchy when the Queen dies. So it is a diminishing group of countries, and the important thing is for us to openly and candidly debate the issue.”

I think he’s right that it’s inevitable but unless there’s a big change of opinion it won’t be happening soon,

Recent polls show no burning desire for change.

I am agnostic on the issue.

I don’t like the idea that someone has power, albeit titular, and prestige through an accident of birth rather than their own efforts.

However, what we have works, is stable and relatively inexpensive.

Sir Don’s comments were made during an interview on Q & A.


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