Quotes of the year

31/12/2018

That’s creative thinking – if I had known that I probably would have joined them. –  Inspector John Kelly on the New Year revellers who built a large sandcastle in the middle of the Tairua estuary in an attempt to avoid the liquor ban.

Among western leftists, morality had become culture-specific. If imperialism’s victims asked for support, then they would be given it, unquestioningly. If not, then they would tend to their own political gardens exclusively.

The problem for western feminists is that, in spite of these cultural and political self-denying ordinances, the only garden currently showing unequivocal signs of flourishing, is their own. Across vast regions of the planet, not only are women’s rights not flourishing, they are being diminished. – Chris Trotter

Any family, in any part of the country, dealing with any one of those challenges, would find it difficult. But when you have all of those at once, it is incredibly difficult to see how a family could navigate their way through all of that on their own.

And you sure as heck, can’t have an official sitting in Wellington waving a magic wand, and fixing it for them. – Louise Upston

If I look at my colleagues, they get up and go to work every day because they care so much. . .Why would we do that if we didn’t care? Why would we do that if we didn’t care about individuals and actually want something better for their lives? Louise Upston

Men who have been inculcated into a culture of toxic masculinity need to regularly top up their King Dick Metre, which can only be fuelled by the disempowerment of someone else. And that someone else is very often a woman.

Their feelings of strength only come when someone else is in a position of weakness. They can only feel valid when they are able to invalidate someone else. They only feel like they have won when someone else has lost. – Kasey Edwards

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers?

Could you imagine the next time Fonterra was in the news, it was for a collaboration with Lynx in producing a deodorant that smelled of silage and cowshit, that dairy farmers could put on if they used too much soap in the shower?

Maybe we can hope that our on-farm processes continue to develop, along with scientific developments, adoption of best practices and consumer preferences, as opposed to at the whim of vote-hungry politicians, misinformed urban housewives and the combined armies of anaemic vegans, animal rights activists, goblins and orcs.

Maybe we could hope that we can reverse the trend that has seen rural folk and farmers become an ethnic minority in this country – a minority that is now seen by many New Zealanders as dirty, destructive and somehow freeloading on resources, with less credibility then prostitution. . .  –  Pete Fitzherbert

We welcome the government’s focus on tracking the number of children in persistent poverty and hardship. However, setting multiple arbitrary targets for reducing child hardship is easier than actually helping people extricate themselves from their predicaments. – Dr Oliver Hartwich

Good intentions are not enough. They’re not even a start, because there’s been a lot of money wasted and lives wrecked on the basis of good intentions expressed through public services. Bill English

 . . . the only reason we have a 37-year-old female Prime Minister is because a septuagenarian put her there. – Fran O’Sullivan

Peters’ inability to contain his bitterness suggests the coalition negotiations were a charade. His resentment towards National is deep-rooted, and since the election, the feeling is reciprocated. It is unlikely that National’s change of leader will diminish Peters’ toxicity.  – The Listener

It strikes me as rather unfair that while we’ve been up in arms over where the country’s burgeoning cow population does its business, our burgeoning human population has been fouling up the waterways with what comes out of our own backsides. We can’t berate dairy farmers for dirtying the rivers if we’re content for our biggest city to keep using its waterways as one giant long drop. – Nadine Higgins

Over-reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. It’s creating silly distractions from real issues.Jennifer Lawrence

The incident has also highlighted the danger of a government full of academics, health professionals, public servants, teachers and career politicians picking business winners.

The idea that councils around the country would rail or truck their rubbish to Westport for incineration is one of those ludicrous ideas that only regional development officials would think is a flyer. – Martin van Beynen

Getting policy right matters. In the end, lots of money and good intentions is never enough. You’ve got to get the policy right. – Nicola Willis

So consumed are they with the grassy vistas opening up in front of them that they are oblivious to their drawing ever closer to journey’s end, namely the holding yards of the local freezing works. – John Armstrong

Businesses, by and large, are better at coping with bad news than they are at coping with uncertainty. You cannot plan for it or adapt to it. Hamish Rutherford

Feminism is about choice, the right to have one, the right to be equal. It is not about trampling men to death in the process. It is not about spending so much time telling girls that “they can do anything” that they become curious and confused as to why you keep telling them something they already knew.

Guess what? The girls we’re raising haven’t had it occur to them they can’t do anything. – Kate Hawkesby

I’m not sure what affordable means but I am sure I’m not alone in that. It’s bound to be a complicated formula with one of the variables being the price of avocados. I just hope it doesn’t add up to borrowing from KiwiBank to buy from KiwiBuild during the KiwiBubble resulting in KiwiBust.James Elliott

 If we believe that correcting harmful inequities lies in asserting an inherent malice and/or obsolescence in all people with a specific combination of age, gender and ethnicity then we have already lost the fight. The real enemy is the unchecked and uncontested power exercised through institutions, social norms and structures which privilege one group over another.    – Emma Espiner

A tagged tax has to be a tagged tax, otherwise it’s a rort. – Mike Hosking

While the Greens are dreaming of compost, wheelbarrows, chook poo and quinoa, the rest of us wouldn’t mind getting on with business. And that means we need water. – Mike Hosking

Certainly a rational person, and especially one convinced of the threat of global warming and the possibility of more droughts, would increase, not stop investment in irrigation?

That is not to argue that water quality and nitrate leaching are not problems – they are. But to stop irrigation as a solution is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The rational approach is to find ways of reducing nitrate leaching even under high-producing irrigated pastures. This requires more science, more evidence, more rational thinking. – Dr Doug Edmeades

Businesses — it doesn’t matter what they are — require reliable steady staff; not rocket scientists but reliable steady staff. Unless we have those types of people available our whole economy has an issue. – Andre de Bruin

There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. – Michael Bruce Curry

The well-being of all communities can be enhanced by enabling greater levels of social solidarity, empowering people in their personal and community lives, enhancing social infrastructure and establishing opportunities for dignified work and alternative livelihoods. – Tracey McIntosh

Tough on crime is popular with the insular and ignorant when it comes to justice policy, while restorative approaches with enduring outcomes that help people stay away from jail because they offend less are not popular, not sexy and seen as “soft on crime”. Chester Borrows

Everyone can do something amazing once. You’ve got to back it up and do it again – Rowland Smith

The money spent on eliminating risk in one area means less available to fix problems in other areas. In other words, the consequence of lowering risk in one sphere can hinder minimising risk in another one. Chew carefully on that one. – Martin van Beynen

That’s what the call for diversity means. An endless slicing and dicing of society into every thinner minority groups with everyone scrambling for quotas and box ticking.

It’s a bureaucratic nightmare. It’s also a complete denial of individuality. You are not important. All that matters is what boxes you tick. It’s the boxes that define you, not what you do, what you think or what you produce. – Rodney Hide

We went to do a story about an American billionaire buying up wineries in Wairarapa. Local wine makers were going broke and in stepped the American billionaire. I went down with a TV crew expecting locals to be up in arms about the ‘foreigner’ buying up the land. But I couldn’t find one voice raised against him.

There is one thing worse than a foreign buyer, they told me, and that’s not having a buyer at all. – Guyon Espiner

It feels like a Dear Winston moment really – Mike Jaspers

We grow up thinking the world is fair, but it’s not, so you’re not always going to get the results you’re looking for. The challenge is to pick yourself up again when you have those days.Joe Schmidt

I believe rugby is similar to society, where it is about interdependence and us trying to help each other. Imagine if everyone in life became the best version of themselves and made life easier for those either side of them. – Joe Schmidt

The very premise of our system is we learn from our mistakes and wrongs and are given freedom to make amends.Mike Hosking

Grown-ups know that being short $60 a week is not what ails and troubles our most vulnerable children. Proper parenting can’t be bought for $60 a week. – Rodney Hide.

So stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people. – Jessica Stillman

Feminism has descended into a cauldron of cattiness; of nasty factionalism. It doesn’t empower. It  scrutinises and judges groups within groups. Like extreme left or right politics, the creed is hardest on those most like it – those who should know better but fail. – Lindsay Mitchell

Regional development is about more than funding a few projects; it’s about allowing people to make a living. – Paul Goldsmith

This image of Anglo-Saxon culture isn’t grounded in the up-to-date distinct cultural traditions or practices of the United Kingdom. It is a cover of a misremembered song, played by a drunk who forgot the words mid-song and so started humming. – Haimona Gray

Imagine the world today if William Wilberforce and Kate Sheppard had refused to engage with people whose views they found repugnant. If Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr had decided not to argue back. If Desmond Tutu and Te Whiti had seen no point in suffering the slings and arrows of their opponents because, hey, nothing’s gonna change.

The twist in this debate is that the Molyneuxs, Southerns and other so-called champions of free speech only win when their shouting drowns out other voices. Voices of conciliation and peace. Because regardless of the polarisation we see today, people can change. We can learn. And, even if we still disagree on some profound issues, we can find other things to agree on and other things to respect in each other. Tim Watkin

The day that this country’s dictated to by the social media trolls is the day that democracy dies. If we are to be spooked into compliance by what an anonymous moron threatens by the swipe of a cellphone screen then we’re little better than they are. – Barry Soper

It is unfortunate, but the world seems to have lost the ability to disagree well. Civility in our discussions and debates over contentious issues seems to have been lost. We are increasingly polarised in our views with recourse to extreme positions in order to ‘prove’ or force our point. However, the answer is not to avoid difficult and, at times, confronting conversations. Rather, community leaders, and universities in particular, play a vital role in leading our communities in those discussions, as difficult as they may be, applying the principles of informed discussion, compromise, enlightenment of the points of view of others, and if all else fails, respectful disagreement. – Chris Gallavin

But where is that line that we need to find as a Parliament between being culturally sensitive to people that may not see things in the way in which New Zealand’s own cultures have developed, and, on the other hand, being firm enough that, actually, no, these things, regardless of culture, are not right. Nick Smith

We have an education system that does not reward excellence and does not punish failure. Decades of bureaucratic hand-wringing has delivered a broken system that relies on the personal integrity and good intentions of those who choose teaching as a profession. – Damien Grant

After all, as long as we can discern the truth clearly, love it passionately, and defend it vigorously, we have nothing to fear from open debate; and if we can’t do those things, then why are we claiming to be a university at all? – Dr Jonathan Tracy

The answer to suffering, physical or mental, is affection and good care. This should come first and as far as possible from family and community, supported by institutions.

“Finishing people off” may suit our current individualistic, utilitarian, impatient culture, but it will degrade us all in the end. – Carolyn Moynihan

In a liberal, democratic society, there will always be speech in the public domain that some people find offensive, distasteful or unsavoury. Unless that speech is manifestly doing harm to others, there is no case to ban it, only a case for arguing strongly against it or ridiculing it. Recourse to suppression is redolent of authoritarianism, not democracy. – Chris Bishop

The irony is that although the elimination of subsidies started out as a kind of political punishment, it wound up becoming a long-term blessing for farmers. We went through a difficult period of adjustment but emerged from it stronger than ever. . .

 We became ruthlessly efficient, which is another way of saying that we became really good at what we do.

We also improved our ability to resist regulations that hurt agriculture. Subsidies empower politicians, who can threaten to cut off aid if farmers refuse to accept new forms of control. Without subsidies, we have more freedom to solve problems through creativity and innovation rather than the command-and-control impulses of government. – Craige Mackenzie

But as someone who’s spent a bit of time writing and talking about the important, and not so important, issues in life, there is one thing I know which will never change.

Truth always wins. If you report the facts you can never go wrong. – Peter Williams

We can’t prosper by taking in our own washing so, strutting it on the global stage has to be our modus operandi.And I mean strutting, not just selling low value stuff that rises or falls on the rise or fall of the NZ dollar. Strutting starts with the daring of the ambition and is sustained by the ability to execute.  Ruth Richardson

The frightening retreat from sane economics. Free trade is the path to growth, protectionism is the path to decline. Ruth  Richardson

This is an accidental government formed on the fly and governing on the fly.–  Ruth Richardson

Death of great science on the alter of doctrinal and PC positions doesn’t strike me as the smartest choice.  – Ruth Richardson

I’m satisfied within myself. I’ve got more to do with my life than look at that. Barbara Brinsley

Each of us has made different life choices and, actually, that gives women everywhere role models.

It’s legitimate to choose. We don’t have to be the same, we don’t have to judge each other, we make our own choices. – Dame Jenny Shipley

Every student who walks out of the gate to truant is already a statistic of the worst kind, highly likely to go to prison, highly likely to commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim, be unemployed for the majority of their life, have a major health problem or problems, die at an early age, have an addiction – drugs, gambling, alcohol or smoking. Virginia Crawford

I am Māori. Tuhinga o mua Ngāti Hāmua a Te Hika a Pāpāuma. Ko taku iwi Ngāti Kahungunua a Rangitāne. I am Scottish, I am English, I am a New Zealander. I am not defined by the colour of my skin. I am a victim. I did not choose to be a victim. – Maanki 

If we want to see fewer Māori in prison, our whānau broken apart because dad is in prison and mum is now in rangi (heaven), we must free ourselves and our whānau from the increasing level of domestic violence and abuse in our homes. The drugs must stop, the high level of drinking and violence among our own must be gone.

How many of our fathers are incarcerated, because their fathers taught them the only way to deal with anger was violence, to punch their way through a situation. How many of our whānau have lost a mother, a child, a brother from our people’s own hand. – Maanki

The blame needs to stop. It is not the police, the system, the state, the Government, the justice system or even the Pākehā who made a man beat his wife to death, to rape an innocent stranger, to murder their own child or to sexually abuse a daughter or son.

No, it was a choice, a choice made by a perpetrator. – Maanki


The Senate, collectively, could not find their own arses with a sextant and a well-thumbed copy of Gray’s Anatomy
Jack the Insider

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that God’s table is a smorgasbord of theological truths with some in conflict with others and some more important that others.    People are free to pick and choose from that smorgasbord and do so based on what is important to them. – The Veteran

But I can’t remember not having books. I’d go to the library every week, search every shelf with children’s books, then go home with a stack. . .   Every choice was my choice. Then I could control what went into my head by plugging into new worlds, learning new things and just imagining a different life. . .

When we only look to reinforce our taste and beliefs we lose the opportunity to browse and the opportunity for serendipity, and that’s unfortunate. – Maud Cahill

It was sort of total irritability associated with feeling hungry that would manifest as grumpiness. This void in my stomach would create a void in my sense of humour and my ability to tolerate things. – Simon Morton

This is a partnership designed by a drover’s dog and a clinical psychologist who have absolutely nothing in common except they both have experience dealing with rogue steers who don’t believe in being team players. – Clive Bibby  

I live down in the South Island, and there’s been a lot of farmers trying to curtsey. Most of the time they’re in gumboots. – Dame Lynda Topp

In the west food is produced by a few to feed the many and when people are relieved of the duties of working on farms and subsistence farming the job is handed to a few and people move to the cities and that is when they become disconnected. – Anna Jones

Class is a commodity that doesn’t seem to be in conspicuous supply in politics at the moment. – Chris Finlayson

New Zealand’s real problems are not identity politics, no matter what the left may think. They are that the welfare state has failed. Too many kids don’t get educated. Too many working aged adults are on welfare. Too many are in jail because there is too much crime and they’re never rehabilitated. Housing has gone from a commodity to a ponzi scheme. Our productivity growth is anaemic. With government’s and councils’ approach to regulation, it’s amazing anyone still does anything. Andrew Ketels

I certainly don’t celebrate diversity for its own sake. You have to distinguish pluralism from relativism. Relativism tends towards ‘anything goes’ and that can’t be right

Pluralism is the view that although some ways of living really are wrong, the list of possible good ways to live a flourishing human life and have a good society contains more than one item. – Julian Baggini

We didn’t need a tax on stones, there wasn’t a concern about ‘peak stone’ and we didn’t need to stage protests in front of the chieftains’ caves to argue for the use of bronze. It came down to developing the new technology, which had benefits over the old technology, and disseminating the knowledge. – Andrew Hoggard

I am the culmination of generous moment after generous moment, kind moment after kind moment and that is the glue that holds this country together. – Kurt Fearnley

It is a privilege for any mother to be able to propose a toast to her son on his 70th birthday. It means that you have lived long enough to see your child grow up. It is rather like – to use an analogy I am certain will find favour – planting a tree and being able to watch it grow. – Queen Elizabeth II

When I noticed that I was spending far more time scrolling through my email and Twitter than I was playing on the floor with my son, I realized that the problem wasn’t with screens warping his fragile mind. It was that I’d already allowed my phone to warp mine. So these days, my husband and I try not to use our phones at all in front of our son. Not because I think the devil lives in my iPhone, but because I think, to some extent, a small part of the devil lives in me. – EJ Dickson

The proper purpose of journalism remains as Kovach and Rosenstiel defined it – not to lead society toward the outcome that journalists think is correct, but to give ordinary people  the means to make their own decisions about what’s in their best interests.Karl du Fresne

I’m bloody angry at New Zealand for fighting over Santa and I want us to stop. This is not what Santa’s about. Santa is not about angst and Santa is not about Santa hate.

Santa is about hope, Santa is about dreams. Santa can come down the chimney even when you don’t have a chimney. Santa can come in the ranch slider, Santa can drink craft beer. Santa can drink strawberry-flavoured Lindauer for all I care. – Patrick Gower

The expectation that we rustics just need to lean on the gate chewing a straw and making obscure pronouncements about the weather in impenetrable accents for picturesque effect is entertaining until it dawns on you that your role apparently really is just to provide background local colour and not disturb the peace too much.  Rural places are workplaces — stuff happens down on the farm and that stuff can be noisy.  And not just on the farm — gravel quarries, jet-boat companies and the construction sites of all those new houses that didn’t used to be there. – Kate Scott

Rose-tinted nostalgia strikes us all from time to time, but when it comes with a side of imported urban world view where non-working weekends and the notion of property values is accorded more worth than building community resilience, I begin to feel resentful of the twittering worries of suburbia intruding on my bucolic peace with its soothing soundtrack of barking huntaways, topdressing planes and chainsaws –Kate Scott

I had a gentleman come to my office three years ago. He was a Labour candidate. He ran for the Labour Party. He was coming to see me because he’d been to see his own team—they wouldn’t help him with an issue, so he came to me. Did I say, “Oh, sorry, you’ve been a Labour candidate. I’m not going to assist you. I’m not going to help you.”? No, I didn’t. I actually helped him with his issue, because that’s my job as a member of Parliament. I don’t care whether you support New Zealand First, I don’t care whether you’re a supporter or member of the Labour Party, the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, or the National Party—if you come and ask for help and support, you will get it. That’s my job.-  Mark Mitchell

The only positive outcome from the UN’s 2009 Copenhagen fiasco was the launch of New Zealand’s Global Research Alliance (GRA) to reduce methane and nitrous-oxide emissions, which account for 22 per cent of the world’s GHG total. More than 50 countries are now involved. If the GRA develops science to cut agricultural emissions by two-thirds it would be the equivalent of the US becoming a zero emitter. If it eliminated them, it would be like China going carbon zero. This would benefit the world at least 100 times more than New Zealand becoming net-zero domestically. – Matthew Hooton

No one bets on a horse with a dud jockey.  Simon Bridges

Ms Ardern promised to lead the most open and transparent Government New Zealand has seen. That doesn’t mean picking and choosing to be open and transparent when it benefits her. – Tova O’Brien

Shaw and his comrades have a vision of a different economic model, one that sane people have tunnelled under barbed wire fences to escape. Alas, the sacrifice required to achieve this gender-fluid post-colonial paradise requires a reversal of most of the economic gains of the last 50 years.Damien Grant

The less you trust people, the more distrustful they become and so the more law you need in order to trust them. A good society would not have too much law, because people would do the right thing he says. But in New Zealand we have a lot of law. – Professor Mark Henaghan


Quotes of the year

30/12/2016

When you work in the media, you realise men and women age differently. Male hosts and presenters age chronologically – when they’re 40, they’re 40. Women hosts and presenters age in time and a half – when they’re 40, they’re really 60 and obviously unemployable. – Kerre McIvor

All these observations have led me to build up a profile of the typical litterer.

Their most blindingly obvious characteristic is that they have no taste. No surprises there: people who drink Lion Red or eat Chicken McBites are unlikely to be sensitive to aesthetic concerns about the urban environment. . .  – Karl du Fresne

“I think it’s more important that New Zealand has a policy on these things that is based on principle and for us it’s got to mean as a small country we support strong international institutions and we support international law.” – Murray McCully

A strong, growing economy encourages businesses to boost investment in new products and markets, hire more staff and pay good wages.

It means New Zealanders can be rewarded for their enterprise and hard work.

And a strong economy supports better healthcare, education and other public services New Zealanders need.

We frequently hear Opposition parties calling for the Government to magic up more jobs, to increase wages or to spend more on any number of things.

Actually, governments can’t do any of those things without a strong, confident economy.

The Government’s role is creating an environment that gives businesses the confidence to invest and grow.

And to do that in the knowledge they’ll be backed by clear and sensible government policies.  – John Key

I’ve been warned recently, don’t go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea—which is, let’s not be mean particularly to people who are not able to look after themselves very well, that’s a good idea—to the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group can be labelled cruel. And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy—and believe you me, I’ve thought about it—is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke—like, How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans—that’s about the human condition, it’s not excluding anyone, it’s saying we all have all these plans that probably won’t come and isn’t it funny that we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke, but it’s still critical. All humor is critical. If we start saying, oh, we musn’t criticize or offend them, then humor is gone, and with humor goes a sense of proportion, and then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984. –  John Cleese

“The electorate will either come to believe that Labour has given no serious thought to how its promises are to be paid for – which makes it fiscally incompetent. Or, that Labour knows very well how its promises will be paid for, but is unwilling to say so before it has been safely elected – which makes it politically dishonest. Chris Trotter

I miss Clark. She knew how to bribe voters.

Each election was a fresh and exciting promise with other people’s money. You did your voting, and you got your money. It seemed somehow more honest. – Rodney Hide.

“Unfortunately all Tai Tokerau (Northland) tribes are tainted by the Te Tii Marae circus. Their decision that the PM could go on the Marae but not talk makes a mockery of Marae culture.

What were they thinking, that the leader of the nation would stand and hum Pokarekare ana? – Shane Jones

. . . And I still don’t get it. I never get it when people use the word rape loosely, to cover any insult or transgression, when the reality is by no means imprecise, is often violent, and is always intensely, revoltingly invasive. . .

There is a difference, and it’s important. We shouldn’t undermine the serious criminality of rape by accusing people of it every time they annoy us. And another thing: if you’re going to protest, make your message clear. . .  – Rosemary McLeod

What bandwagon won’t politicians use our money to jump on? Here is a fantastic grassroots initiative, rightfully earning praise and the support from tens of thousands of New Zealanders, and Andrew Little comes along and wants in on the action. If politicians want to be associated with the campaign they should be digging into their own pockets, not forking out what comes from other people’s.”

“Being prudent with taxpayers’ money means not saying yes to every good cause that comes along. Is this beach really the most pressing need for extra Government cash right now? – Jordan Williams

Before any politician commits taxpayer’s money to any project they should think beyond the kudos of the publicity and be sure it is the most beneficial – and hence responsible  – way to spend the next million of other people’s (i.e.; taxpayer’s) money.

It is the norm before any public money is spent for the Treasury to give advice on the value for money that the spend offers. To let politicians to just spray taxpayers’ property around like confetti is a recipe for disaster. While running on their gut political instincts is their natural predisposition, any politician who expects tenure needs to be a bit above that. – Gareth Morgan

We all know DOC has plenty of land in its portfolio and can’t look after the estate it has already. The true conservation dividend it can earn comes from killing stuff – eliminating predators so that our native species can flourish. It does not come from buying more hectares that it can’t protect. Predator free zones are our best investment in conservation. – Gareth Morgan

He should be generous with his time but prudent with his money, quick on the rugby field but slow to criticise his mother-in-law.

He should also prefer to hold an articulate conversation rather than be hunched over a phone wasting time on social media. – Jane Smith on what makes the perfect Southern man.

. . . Against all this, our national day is almost rational. 

It marks the anniversary of the signing of an agreement – or rather a couple of differently worded agreements in different languages – which we have been arguing over pretty much ever since.

We’re kind of good at that. 

But we’re not breaking each other’s heads over it, despite the bad-tempered stirrers on both sides. We do tend to yell a lot. But we don’t ignore the issues any more.  . . Rob Hosking

“I’m the sort of guy who wants to give everything a crack.

“When you’re an old man sitting back and reflecting… Whether you achieved it or not, at least you gave it a crack, and that’s what I want to be thinking.” – Richie McCaw

Outside the membership of the ALP and the Greens, few Australians are interested in the politics of income redistribution.

And why should they be? After 24 years of continuous economic growth – a rising tide of national prosperity and wealth creation – the objective of government policy should be to float all boats, not to sink the biggest yachts in the flotilla in the vain hope that somehow this might help everybody else … – Mark Latham

One of the best parts of my job is the number of public servants and services providers I get to meet.

Overwhelmingly I find we’re all driven by the same thing – getting better results for New Zealanders, and doing our best for the most vulnerable.

Whether it’s social housing, health, education, welfare or justice, the goal is the same.

It is not enough to simply service misery with welfare payments or social houses or urgent health services. We want to help people make the changes they need to become independent.

This ensures people lead better lives, but also saves taxpayer money in the long run.

This Government is focussed not on spending for the sake of it, but on getting tangible results for people from that investment. . . Bill English

“We want to reduce misery, rather than service it and that requires a deep understanding of the drivers of social dysfunction.”Bill English

The first six weeks of the year has seen the left-wing parties talking about subjects of great interest to left-wing voters – the TPPA, free tertiary education, should John Key go to Waitangi? But, as with the last seven years, they’ve said and done nothing to cause soft National voters to question the competence or credibility of the government to run the country, and consider an alternative.

That’s really the game, now. Opposition MPs talking about values and visionary aspirations and compromised sovereignty and the future of work and what a jerk they all think John Key is is all very well, but if Key’s government is seen to be doing a good job in delivering the core government services that voters value, they’re not going to change their votes. And they shouldn’t! – Danyl Mclauchlan

“Of course I love the Union Jack, it’s my favourite flag and does things to my heart, but you guys are New Zealand.”  – Dawn French

I think the vans are plain nasty. Their slogans reinforce the misogyny that seems to have pervaded our society in recent years and imply that men are simply walking penises with only one thing on their mind and women are only useful as receptacles for sperm.

They demean both sexes and reduce men and women to their most base. – Kerre McIvor

There’s a classic clash of rights here: the right to protest versus the right of people to go about their lawful business unobstructed (or to use the classic phrase, “without let or hindrance”).

Freedom of movement, like freedom of speech, is a fundamental part of our rights. No one has the right to impede it just to make a political point, no matter how righteous they feel about their cause. . .

Now here’s the point. We live in one of the world’s freest and most open societies. People are entitled to shout and wave placards.

Protesters are indulged to the extent that authorities routinely allow them to conduct street marches that inconvenience other people.  In much of the world this would be unthinkable.

But protesters too often interpret this tolerance as a general licence to disrupt, which is where they get it wrong. Generally speaking, the right to protest ends at the point where it obstructs the rights of others.

When protesters become so pumped up with self-righteousness that they believe they’re entitled – indeed, have a moral duty – to interfere with the rights of others, public sympathy for their cause rapidly evaporates.Karl du Fresne

. . . This no doubt explained the Labour Party’s petulant stance, which itself raises the issue of how far we can trust a party that promoted a change of flag in its 2014 election policy and was fully represented on the cross-party committee that gave its blessing to the referendum process, but changed its mind. . .

The referendum may have resulted in no change, but for reasons so complex, confused and contradictory that it would be unwise to draw too many conclusions about why people voted the way they did. There were many ironies, including anti-TPPA protesters voting for the ultimate symbol of corporate greed ­sanctioned by the Empire.

Support for a new flag hasn’t been snuffed out. Rather, its momentum has been temporarily slowed. As we go on with the task of explaining to the rest of the world the difference between our flag and that of Australia – the Aussie flag depicts the Southern Cross more accurately – New Zealanders have at least engaged in a passionate, if frustratingly inconclusive, debate about what our flag should say about us. In the process, we may have learnt something about ourselves. That should leave us better prepared when the issue comes up again – as it will. The Listener

Admittedly humour is subjective, but Wicked’s misogynistic brand of wit is hardly worth dying on the barricades for. It’s a smart-arse, advertising-agency type of humour that appeals chiefly to sniggering schoolboys.

In fact one of the striking things about the Wicked controversy is that the company’s supposed humour has managed to offend almost everyone, liberals as well as conservatives.   – Karl du Fresne

We measure success by results, rather than the level of spending – Bill English.

. . . no one should be verbally attacked and denigrated because they believe in democracy and the right to make their own unsolicited political choice on who they want to give a donation to. – Lani Hagaman.

I would like to thank the dairy industry for pulling this country out of the recession in 2008, when the milk price generated the revenue, paid the tax, helped us stave off the pressure on the government’s books and, in particular, lifted the general confidence in regional New Zealand,” said Mr English. “It’s something of an untold story. –  Bill English

It is a common misconception that socialism is about helping poor people. Actually, what socialism does is create poor people, and keep them poor. And that’s not by accident.

Under capitalism, rich people become powerful. But under socialism, powerful people become rich.Glenn Reynolds

Real beauty is being able to laugh out loud and to make others laugh — not at ourselves, but at the absurdities of the lives that we’ve been told we should live. –  Gina Barreca

. . . Look, if we weren’t giving out the first, second and third place ribbons and the day was just about having fun and being outdoors, great! Let’s go on an Oprah Christmas special ribbon giving spree: “You get a ribbon, and you get a ribbon and you get a ribbon, riiiibonnnnnn!”

However WE DO give out the first, second and third place awards, so what message are we sending them? “Hey kids it doesn’t matter if you win but if you do win you get a special prize and accolade, but it doesn’t matter, but it does, and the rest of the kids get a generic thing because they’re not special like the kids who won, who aren’t special, but they are …”

Confusing huh? Imagine being a kid then!

After my highly scientific research at the track I’m now of the opinion that we don’t need to bother with participation awards.

For three reasons:

1. The kid’s don’t want them. They’re well on to us, the jig is up mates.

2. It’s OK to fail! Don’t be afraid to let your kids feel the sting of defeat. Let their little hearts get a ding or two, help them identify what they can learn from it and then they will grow and be better next time.

3. Don’t reward them for just showing up. It makes them grow up feeling entitled. You’re not doing them any favours — want and need create drive. . . Em Rusciano

We have tried everything and all we have created is a culture of dependence, entitlement, helplessness and irresponsibility. – Martin van Beynen

Food is essential to a stable functioning society and we must look at irrigation as essential public infrastructure. We must consider its benefits in terms of regional development and food production, urban water supply and recreation use, not simply in terms of economics and income generation.  . .

We need to start looking at water storeage and land use intensification as part of the s0lution and manage the environmental issues appropriately. It’s as simple as that.- Peter Graham

The Swiss decide not to steal from each other, launder the loot through a government bureaucracy and then give what’s left back to each other. Note this comment from a voter who favored the idea: “For me it would be a great opportunity to put my focus on my passion and not go to work just for a living.” Translation: “I would like others to work harder and pay taxes so I can work less and have fun.” – Lawrence Reed On the Swiss referendum where the majority rejected the proposal for a guaranteed basic income.

When female narcissism translates as empowerment I am both amused and confused. Whose gaze are such women courting when they expose so much pampered, surgically enhanced flesh if not males? If their intention is to attract female attention their only possible purpose could be to annoy, and cause older women to wonder how they deal with going to the bathroom, let alone cold weather. Blue goose-bumped skin has yet to take off as a fashion trend, but they could yet make that fashionable I guess.

These new-style feminists are not displaying ordinary, imperfect bodies, but bodies that conform to traditional pin-ups from men’s magazines, small-waisted, big-breasted, with rounded buttocks and flawless legs, in Kim’s case an old-fashioned hourglass figure that formerly called for a tight corset.Rosemary McLeod

So when an individual attempts to keep more of what he has created there is less anger than when someone tries to take what he hasn’t. That is why society has greater tolerance (and exhibits it through the courts) for tax evasion than welfare fraud. – Lindsay Mitchell

Every day starts with me not being dead, and what a fantastic way to start each day. . . There’s no excuse to not appreciate life fully. You owe it to the people who are unable to. Jake Bailey

It’s not easy being left wing in New Zealand at the moment. We’re currently focusing most of our efforts on cyber bullying John Key’s kids: it’s pretty bleak.

Labour and the Greens joining forces should be something I guess, if you add two parties together you can create a larger and more cohesive losing unit for 2017. The one bright spot is that after a solid eight years in opposition the Labour party have put together a comprehensive plan of what not to do. – Guy Williams 

My observation is that idiot posters from the hard Left tend to be plain nasty whereas their idiot colleagues from the far Right tend to be defined by their stupidity.    One of my PolSci lecturers used to put it this way … that there’s really no difference between the far Right and and the far Left … they are joined at the hip.  Both are authoritarian; both are dismissive of dissenting opinion to the point of violence. –  The Veteran

“When you’re a farmer who isn’t working your farm it can be pretty hard. We are farmers because we love the lifestyle, but over the last couple of years the fun has completely been taken out of it.

“Day in and day out all you think and talk about is the weather. It can be pretty depressing.

“There isn’t much you can do about it. You can’t buy the rain.” – Nick Hamilton

At 100, like many centenarians, this country’s Labour Party is looking confused and befuddled. It appears to have forgotten what it stood for when it was young and vibrant.

Under Little, this party that once stood against unthinking imperialism has campaigned to keep the Union Jack on New Zealand’s flag – perhaps keen to safeguard that Royal telegram! This party that once stood for workers making new lives in a new land, now wishes to stop immigrants investing in property in New Zealand; this party that once stood for diversity now makes overseas investment policy by tallying up “Chinese-sounding names”. Little is busy battling defamation claims, rather than fighting for Labour principles. – Jonathan Milne

News editors need to insist their journalists call out falsehoods in press conferences. Both Shorten and his Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen have previously advocated corporate tax cuts. They went to the election with higher deficits, higher spending and higher borrowing. How can reporters all last week have allowed Labor MPs to warn of imminent budget blocking tactics when only a week earlier Labor accepted $30 billion of so-called zombie cuts? Will reporters now let Labor get away with blocking savings it counted in its own election costings?

Do reporters know the Medicare rebate freeze Shorten claims is the basis for his Medicare scare was introduced by Labor in its 2013 budget? Are reporters going to let Labor continue to claim the government, which has presided over the highest bulk-billing rates in the history of Medicare, has cut $57bn from health when Labor ­itself only committed $2bn more to health than the Coalition?

Labor lost the election. Its primary vote, at 35.2 per cent, is its second lowest since World War II. Not only did it need a lie to save its primary, in truth it owes much of its position to Kevin Rudd, who in 2013 saved at least 15 seats that would have fallen under Julia ­Gillard. – Chris Mitchell

A complex and difficult social problem with many levels to it is being reduced to inane, empty slogans (just build 100,000 “more bloody houses” to quote the elegant language of the rather crude Leader of the Opposition) without any regard to how all that might be achieved. – Peter Dunne

There is no healing in pretending this bizarre violent stuff is not going on, and that there is some cute bumper sticker silver lining. (It is fine if you believe this, but for the love of God, PLEASE keep it to yourself. it will just tense us all up.) What is true is that the world has always been this way, people have always been this way, grace always bats last, it just does–and finally, when all is said and done, and the dust settles, which it does, Love is sovereign here. Ann Lamott

Seumas Milne remains on the staff of the Guardian and Observer while Labour pays him to work as its director of strategy. As a colleague on leave, he has the right to be treated with a gentleness journalists would not usually extend to spin doctors who do not enjoy his advantages. I therefore write with the caution of a good corporate man and the cheeriness of a co-worker when I say Milne could not do a better job of keeping the Tories in power if rogue MI5 agents had groomed him at Winchester College, signed him up at Oxford University and instructed him to infiltrate and destroy the Labour party.Nick Cohen

“If students can’t learn the way we’re teaching then we need to teach the way they learn.  Teaching is like any job, complacency is the enemy. So to ensure the success of students the teacher has to actually care.” – Matarahi Skipper 

. . . I would also like to think in Queenstown that we embrace culture instead of judging race and we celebrate our differences while not letting ourselves be defined by them.

We exist united by our similarities, not divided by petty differences.

We are, for the most part, grateful we have the opportunity to live in paradise, safe, happy and free.

If only this attitude could be spread as easily as fear and intolerance.Mark Wilson

I recognise that politicians don’t create jobs. Politicians create the environment in which business people create jobs. My job is to create the right the right environment for them to flourish and thrive.” – Sadiq Khan

The man is a psychopathic narcissist and that’s not just my opinion, that is the opinion of a whole range of people who are currently sitting in the Parliament. Come on, folks. I can think of 12 Australians off the top of my head who would be a better Secretary-General and one of them’s my Labrador. – Kristina Keneally

It isn’t so much saying Empress Helen has no clothes: It is just that she hasn’t quite earned the halo other people are all too enthusiastic about crowning her with. – Rob Hosking

Labour needs to move away from leftist anti-trade and anti-growth populism and try to make an actual difference to people’s lives rather than keeping its bloggers happy. – Greg Loveridge

Whatever shorter-term measures that government might take to contain spending, in the longer term the ideal way to reduce or contain government spending is to have less need for it.  . .

Much of Government spending is dealing with past failure, with poor decisions with programmes that claimed a lot and didn’t work.

We are creating a whole new set of tools that enable us to be much more discriminating about where spending is effective because where it is effective, it is worth spending a lot. – Bill English

In whichever direction you look, the autocrats, the dictators, the terrorists and the corrupt and cynical opportunists are fighting back. They are demonstrating daily that the lazy assumption of western triumph may be mistaken. Accordingly, it is time to relearn the lessons of history: that free societies do generally triumph in the end, but they need constant vigilance to protect them, and they often need a mixture of strong leadership, determined unity and a good measure of low cunning to help them along. – William Hague

The combination of John Key as PM and Bill English as Finance Minister has achieved an increasingly rare feat in any advanced economy. It includes returning a budget to surplus while managing better growth along with substantive social, economic and taxation reform.All within a political framework of relative popularity, especially a track record good enough to be re-elected with stronger voter endorsement for its programme. Better outcomes in health and education, fewer people on welfare and a return to surplus – not bad. – Australian Financial Review via Trans Tasman.

The principle of free speech can sometimes be used to defend the indefensible but it certainly shouldn’t be curtailed to avoid hurting the feelings of over-sensitive people whose views are often as unreasonable and entrenched as those of the very people they despise. – Martin van Beynen

Urban Kiwis are fewer generations away from the paddocks than are their American counterparts, and that helps maintain a certain egalitarianism of respect, but that won’t last forever. We already are seeing strong pushes to legislate and regulate against the lifestyle choices of those outside of the urban elite. You hear it in trendy Wellington cafes, where well dressed rich folks drinking high calorie mochaccinos speak with disdain about how others drink Coke or eat at McDonalds. It’s an inequality of respect.

Poverty is real and important. When it comes to inequality, I think we need a renewed egalitarianism of respect for the choices others make about what is best for them. The more cocooned we are in bubbles away from those who make different choices than we do, the more hesitant we should be to cast judgement. – Eric Crampton

Just remember that Hamish and I came out of a boat that failed.Eric Murray

Maybe it’s time to stop looking for someone or something to blame. The truth is: I am the only one who can give myself permission to be a badass. So here you go, sister. Turning 49 is not the moment to turn into a wilting sissy; it is not the time to be faint-hearted: it is time to prevail. In your own way, whatever that entails, since both the slavish adherence to rules and the utter abhorrence of them are reactions that need to be examined.

It is also time to stop making excuses because you have nothing to excuse.  – Deborah Hill-Cone

“I went down, and I was like, ‘What’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this,’ and I was like, ‘Yup, yup, you’re right. This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.”

“When you’re at this level you know how hard it is to get here. There’s just a mutual understanding of how much everyone puts into it. I’m never going to forget that moment. When someone asks me what happened in Rio in 20 years’ time, that’s my story.”

“I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I’ve never met her before, like I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing? Such an amazing woman. . . . – Nikki Hamblin

I hate to break it to you, but there is a right to insult. The way to deal with a racist is to shame him with reason, not to jail him. Freedom of expression includes the right to say offensive things. It doesn’t include a right never to be offended.

There is certainly a right to say things that will be construed as insults by those intent on being insulted even though they’re not intended to be. – Lindsay Perigo

One thing we seem to have no shortage of is activists who claim Labour and National have devastated our country with successive “neoliberal” governments in the past 30 years. But the alternative to neoliberalism isn’t Norway, Denmark or Sweden. It’s Cuba, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. I know where I would rather live. – Liam Hehir

. . . silliness is part of sanity.
Looseness is an antidote to being uptight all the time.
Being able to play is essential to mental health.
If you don’t still sometimes do things that are foolish, or wacky, or a little loony then you will lose contact with your inner child, and miss the simple delight that comes with doing something just for the higgledy-piggledy hell of it. –  Robert Fulghum

It’s actually really important for us to be welcoming immigrants. We have to get over this xenophobic idea that we’re doing them a favour. At worst, it’s this completely mutually beneficial thing. So they get to live in a pretty nice country, and we get to live with people who are skilled and smart and clever and who are doing things that build our economy.  – Nigel Latta

In fact, being a parent is valuable precisely because it is so unlike goal-directed productive work. Caring for a child involves a deep recognition of the individuality and autonomy, the irreducible complexity and value of another unique, irreplaceable human being. That makes it worthwhile all by itself. – Alison Gopnik

There are some principled, genuinely compassionate in there who really want to make a difference. And then I think there are people that are the complete opposite.

They are, after all, just people like all of us. Like all organisations they have great people, and some not so great.

For us though, as voters, I’m hoping we can learn to demand more than coverage of the trivial, or the endless inane controversies, and instead expect a higher quality of debate. We should also, just by the by, lift our own game.

We might like to think they don’t of what we want, but the sad thing is a lot of the time they do exactly what we want. Maybe we need to want different things?Nigel Latta

There will always be a place for career politicians in Government since, if nothing else, a lifetime in politics can be assumed to impart knowledge about how the system actually works. But an effective Government should also include people who have experience with how things are in the real economy.  . .

That’s why I think government could do with more people like Alfred Ngaro. In addition to the skills he will have picked up in his as a pastor and a backbench MP, the five years he spent as a self-employed tradesman will give him an insight into the world so many of us live in. This is the world of GST returns, uneven cash-flows, customer complaints, hard to manage work-flows, provisional tax payments, accounting and legal fees, red tape, health, bad debtors and health and safety compliance costs. It is world with which fewer and fewer lawmakers have much, if any, familiarity.

Not everyone in politics needs to have this kind of background – but some of them should. –  Liam Hehir

Hongi’s name lives on in Hongi’s Track, the place his men dragged their canoes through the forest between lakes Rotoehu and Rotoiti, thence onto Lake Rotorua. He slaughtered and ate and enslaved many of my Te Arawa ancestors. But that’s all right, Hongi. It’s what went down in your day. Are we not, each generation, of the times we live in? –  Alan Duff

There were indeed many aspects of our past that were neither “good” nor “beautiful”; I’m sure that our descendants will find just as many things to condemn in our own age.  But we can never move forward as a nation by spitting on the legacy of the men and women (however imperfect) who helped to build it. – Jonathan Tracy

Domestically the big winner in all this is Key, who got to demonstrate to a couple hundred thousand female swing-voters what a progressive, balanced women-leader-supporting, generally great guy he is. It’s conventional wisdom on the left that Key et al are morons, and the left is morally and intellectually superior, and I’m not sure how this squares with Key and his party constantly doing very smart things, and the left’s parties and leaders mostly, consistently being pretty dumb. – Danyl Mclauchlan

I always encourage particularly young people, don’t be a job snob. Take the job which is there and which is available. Because you take that job, and even if it’s not the perfect one, you do it for six months or so (and) you’ll be much better positioned to take another job down the track which is much more to your liking.

The longer you are on welfare, the steeper the road back to employment is. – Alan Tudge

Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public,” Mrs May will say. “They find their patriotism distasteful, their concerns about immigration parochial, their views about crime illiberal, their attachment to their job security inconvenient. They find the fact that more than seventeen million people voted to leave the European Union simply bewildering.Theresa May

A change has got to come. It’s time to remember the good that government can do. Time for a new approach that says while government does not have all the answers, government can and should be a force for good; that the state exists to provide what individual people, communities and markets cannot; and that we should employ the power of government for the good of the people. – Theresa May

The Labour Party is not just divided, but divisive. Determined to pit one against another. To pursue vendettas and settle scores. And to embrace the politics of pointless protest that doesn’t unite people but pulls them further apart… So let’s have no more of Labour’s absurd belief that they have a monopoly on compassion. Let’s put an end to their sanctimonious pretence of moral superiority. – Theresa May

I’m no fan of the burqa. It’s subjugation. A woman whose face is covered, is like a document with all the words blacked out.

A woman in a burqa has been redacted from society. A burqa says, don’t look. Nothing to see here. Her identity is unimportant.

Her smile, her frown, all her expressions, are on the cutting-room floor. . .

The burqa is medieval. And like medieval plumbing and medieval medicine, it’s out of date. Like women not owning property, not going to school, or not leaving home without male guardians, the burqa contradicts basic human rights.

Of course, basic human rights, is a recent concept. But air travel and YouTube have given us time travel. Medieval people are time-travelling into the 21st century, leap-frogging centuries of liberal progress, and they find our ways shocking.

The burqa isn’t some post-feminist freedom from a bad hair day. It’s a mistake we made to get here. –  Raybon Kan

If you consider appearing on the side of a cereal box a qualification for being a role model then you need help. – Jim Kayes

. . . politics is not telling everyone what you think; it’s everyone telling you what they think. – Rodney Hide

And we shouldn’t just be critical of fake news or wary of falling for satire. We should be critical of what we read from any source.

Ask yourself: how does this journalist know what he or she published? How did they gather that information? Where did they cut corners? Why have they paraphrased here instead of a direct quote? Who did they talk to? Have they done their due diligence to verify the facts?

Not asking these questions of our real news is what leads to us not asking them of our fake news. – Ben Uffindell

It is not the business of journalists to tell their readers, listeners and viewers what to think; but to place before them any and every matter that a free people might reasonably be expected to have an interest in thinking about. – Chris Trotter

Whether or not the National Party retains its ascendancy next year, Mr Key must go down as one of New Zealand’s most successful leaders. And New Zealand, under his stewardship, can claim to be one of the most successful countries in the world. – The Economist

It has been an enormous privilege to be Prime Minister of New Zealand, and these last eight years have been an incredible experience. Throughout these years I have given everything I could to this job that I cherish, and this country that I love.

Bronagh has made a significant sacrifice during my time in politics, and now is the right time for me to take a step back in my career and spend more time at home. . .

“I do not believe that if I was asked to commit to serving out a full fourth term I could look the public in the eye and say yes.

“And more than anything else in my time here, I have tried to be straight and true with New Zealanders. – John Key

I’d been telling my kids for years that if they get knocked down they should get up so, in a very public event, I kind of had to do it myself. I had to do it myself to demonstrate integrity to them. That was a big motivator. – Bill English

. . . you learn more from losing than you do from winning. – Bill English

I am having that moment, and I know it sounds cliched, but the 17-year-old solo mum and now I’m standing on the cusp of hopefully a positive Monday vote. . . 

It’s exciting and I just hope there are some solo mothers out there and think ‘actually your future is not pre-determined. Hard work, energy and self-belief can get you a long way in New Zealand. – Paula Bennett

I’ve never been in a community where there isn’t someone with the vision and energy to change how it works  . . . The Government isn’t the answer to everything, most of our answers are in our own families and communities. Sometimes Government gets in the way of that. This is a Government that will be focussed on understanding, at a very individual level, what is going to work with people and then supporting them to achieve it.    Bill English

It’s not your driving you have got to worry about all of the time, it’s other people out there too and some of them can make really bad choices. – Sergeant Pat Duffy

Like the recently departed former prime minister, Mr English and Ms Bennett can also be grateful each day for the idiocy of their enemies in the Labour-Green axis and the shallowness of the WLME, who are not only obsessed with identity politics themselves but really seem to think that the secret to ending National’s political hegemony is through attacking how others choose to personally identify. – Matthew Hooton

A country where the populace is obsessed with politics, and with who sits where around the cabinet table, is a country of angry dullards. – Rob Hosking

That’s stirring stuff. It’s just a pity the movement doesn’t grasp that “equality, empowerment and freedom” are less about what you can do and more about the respect you must show others. – Rodney Hide

But to be inspirational you don’t have to save lives or win medals. I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special.

They are an inspiration to those who know them, and their lives frequently embody a truth expressed by Mother Teresa, from this year Saint Teresa of Calcutta. She once said: ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love’. – Queen Elizabeth


It’s the party vote that counts

13/08/2013

Anyone who was involved in the National Party during Judy Kirk’s time as president knows it’s the party vote that counts.

She never lost an opportunity to remind members of that.

That was one of the reasons the party reorganised and began running centralised campaigns. These made it clear to voters that while the party wanted them to tick National twice,  if they were going to give us only one tick it should be the party vote one.

The party didn’t abandon electorates though, with the exception of Epsom and Ohariu where, for strategic reasons, National supporters got the message to split their votes.

The wee parties don’t usually try to win electorate seats.

They don’t even field candidates in most of them and where they do they make it quite clear it’s just the party vote they’re chasing.

Labour has rarely done as well in the provinces, and now it looks like the party won’t even try to regain the seats it’s lost.

In the Listener cover story regaining the love Labour’s lost, Ruth Laugesen writes:

Labour is firmly focused on boosting its party vote, possibly at the expense of the electoral seats.

To win back the Beehive, Labour must win hundreds of square kilometres of territory in the heartland. But as Labour rebuilds its party organisation towards the next election, winning electorates appears to be taking a back seat. . .

Is there anything Labour is doing specifically aimed at winning back electorate seats? There is a long pause. “Winning back seats. It’s always good to have … The electorate seats are important, so there will be seats that we are actually going to be ensuring that there’s a strong two-tick campaign, but it’s a party-vote and a candidate-vote campaign. We may have had some people focusing more on the seat than we would like in the future.”

This is another sign of Labour’s weakened state – too little money, too few members and probably too few credible candidates to fight a true two-tick nationwide campaign.

It is the party vote that counts in forming governments.

But abandoning the provinces means that when the party eventually returns to power, as sadly sooner or later it will, it will have little connection to, or knowledge of, great swathes of the country.

Under a Labour-led government the party vote will count and people outside the cities won’t.

We know they don’t understand farming but it’s still the mainstay of the economy and there’s a lot of other things happening outside the main centres which can’t afford the damage a left-wing urban government could inflict on them.

It will be even worse with a strong Green Party influence as well.

A government without connections to and an understanding of the provinces and their needs and concerns isn’t one which will be governing for the good of the country in both senses of the word.

Update:

Spot the irony – in today’s ODT Labour leader David Shearer is quoted:

There was no doubt the regions had been neglected in favour of the country’s major cities, he said. . .

He’s wrong that the regions have been neglected by the government but it looks like that is what his party is going to be doing in next year’s election campaign.


Labour’s lost love

13/08/2013

The cover story of this week’s Listener is headlined regaining the love Labour’s lost.

Among the love it’s lost is that of its members:

. . .Membership is up 20% on a year ago, according to party general secretary Tim Barnett. Many of those new members are young people in new youth branches outside the universities.

A 20% increase in members sounds impressive – but it was from a very low base.

The total party membership is a closely held secret but is somewhere between 5000 and 10,000. . .

Anything I’ve seen and heard suggests the lower figure is more accurate but even if the higher one is right that is still a pitiful number of members for an organisation purporting to be a major party, especially when some aren’t real people but union affiliates.

Even at its nadir National membership was still more than twice the higher figure, all of them real individuals, and a resurgence in membership was reflected in voter support.

Members matter for the party and democracy.

They work for and finance the party’s operation and campaigns, they’re involved in policy formation and they help keep MPs focussed on how their policies affect people.

That a future government could be led by a party which can’t measure its core support in 10s of thousands and would be propped up by several wee parties that would be unlikely to muster more than a very few thousand members between them is very, very frightening.

It’s bad enough under any system, but worse under MMP which gives a lot more power to parties.


Beef back in favour

04/01/2012

Lean beef  could gain a place as an acceptable ingredient in a low cholesterol diet, after a study at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University.

People using a diet centered on fruits and vegetables to lower their cholesterol may be able to introduce lean beef and get similar results, suggests a new study.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, are similar to those of past research that found red meat may be fine in moderation.

Lean and  moderation appear to be the key words.  That’s not always easy to achieve when dining out but isn’t too difficult to do at home.

Apropos of this, the Listener’s cover story (not yet online) on the secret to weight loss discusses the importance of protein for satisfying hunger.

The protein-leverage hypothesis of Massey University nutritional ecology professor David Raubenheimer and colleagues suggests a lean beef steak for lunch might not be a bad thing. their theory is that humans have a dominant appetite for protein and when our food supply has a lot ratio of protein to fat and carbod=hydrate we tend to overeat, and this consumption of excess energy promotes obesity. . . 

Raubenheimer . . . said studies . . .  suggest that when faced with nutritionally unbalanced diets, we prioritise our protein intake. In other words we keep on eating until we’ve ingested enough protein.  . . 

Raubenheimer’s calculations suggest if the amount of protein in our food supply drops by just 1.5% and our carbohydrate and fat intake rise accordingly by 1.5% we are likely to over consumer carbohydrates and fats – eating about 14% more – to maintain our protein intake.

When we’re on holiday my farmer often has a cooked breakfast which isn’t usually low in fat but is higher in protein than the toast and fruit I usually eat. By late morning I’m usually hungry again but he can go a lot longer before wanting to eat.

Last July when we were in the  USA and Canada I decided to try having more for breakfast and ordered an omlette most days. It worked – keeping me satisfied until at least early afternoon and sometimes longer.

It wasn’t as easy to eat healthily and be satisfied in the evening. Servings of meat in most restaurants might have been lean but were  anything but moderate and the Presbyterian in me objected to paying for a lot more than I could eat.

However, a Holiday Inn in Vancouver offered a healthy option with a small portion of lean meat and very generous serving of lightly steamed and deliciously seasoned vegetables.

The waitress told me it was one of their most popular meals which makes me wonder why more restaurants and cafes don’t offer something similar.


Rage against the writing of a slight

29/09/2011

Diana Wichtel was less than enthusiastic in her review in The Listener of Rage, a drama based on the 1981 Spirngbok tour.

Co-writerTom Scott responded with this letter to the editor:

RAGE, RAGE
I have just read Diana Wichtel’s scornful review of Rage, which I co-wrote and co-produced for TV1 (Television, September 17).
My first response was to wonder if Diana and I had just recently gone through a particularly nasty and brutal divorce, but I have no recollection of marrying her. This doesn’t mean I didn’t marry her. I’m just saying I could well have blacked it out.

I am prepared to go to counselling with her if you think this would help sort out this mystery.

I missed seeing Rage when it screened but I’m now planning to watch it in the hope that the script is as witty as the co-writer’s letter.


Spot the leader – Updated

25/08/2011

The Listener has been comparing political party websites.

It found 13 pictures of John Key on the front page of National’s

Labour’s is topped by a video of David Cunliffe and you have to scroll right down to the bottom to find a head and shoulders of Phil Goff beside Annette King, David Parker and Cunliffe.

How do other parties feature their leaders?

The Maori Party has photos of it’s president Pem Bird beside co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia just below the masthead.

United Future has plenty of mentions of Peter Dunne but just two small identical head and shoulder shots of him.

Act has a video featuring Former leader Rodney Hide at the top of it’s front page and no other photos at all.

The Mana Party has changing photos some of which show Hone Harawira, although none identify him as leader.

And the Green Party has a link to it’s MPs but no photos and no names.

Update:Stuaker left this comment:

Stuaker says:
August 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm  (Edit)
http://www.greens.org.nz/ is the actual Greens website, which has photos of the co-leaders, as well as other MPs

But when I clicked on it and also typed in the address and still got to The page I linked to i.greens.org.nz

UPDATE 2: It’s an iPad problem – when I tried this link on a PC it worked and shows chagning photos in the masthead which include co-leaders Metiria Turei and Russel Norman.


Discipline not passion leads to success

14/05/2011

Quote of the week from Joanne Black in The Listener:

“So here we are a mite over six months from the general election, and the idea of Hone Harawira, John Minto, Annette Sykes, Sue Bradford and Nandor Tanczos et al joining together in a political party induces the same warning bells that used to ring when a group of friends announced they were going to flat together. You could run a sweepstake on whether it would all fall apart once the meat-eaters were told they had to use a separate fridge, or over whether there should be a roster of whose turn it was to write the roster.

In this case, there might also be the potential for seeds of discord, with Minto having led a successful anti-racism group and Harawira being uncomfortable with the thought his kids might date Pakeha. There’s no shortage of passion among the names so far associated with the Mana Party, but it is discipline rather than passion that is the hallmark of the most successful political parties. . . “

Black did omit Matt McCarten from the list of party people and he does have a track record in getting start-up parties going. He was active in the early days of the Maori Party and played an important role in the campaigns which got co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples into parliament under for the Maori Party.

However, one good strategist and organiser isn’t enough. Successful parties also need cohesion and unity of purpose.

The Mana Party looks a lot more like a collection of activists with individual platforms than a group of people united by shared vision and values.


Voters veer but not too far

27/04/2011

Quote of the week:

If you’re going in for politics, one of the key attributes to cultivate is patience. Sure voters veer from centre-right to centre-left over sequential electoral cycles. But parties don’t, because they are founded – the enduring ones, anyway – on firm principles.

                                 – Jane Clifton in The Listener (preview here, full column online May 16).

One of the reasons Act is floundering is because the public isn’t sure what it’s principles are or worse suspects the party itself isn’t sure.

There is no doubt about Don Brash’s principles – he’s been quite clear about what he wants and why. He’s genuinely concerned about the state of the nation.

He wants to do something about it and has said if Act won’t have him he’ll start his own party.

It might not be hard for him to find 500 members, a name, constitution and meet the other requirements for registering a political party. But there’s a long way from forming a new party to getting into parliament, especially when a party’s principles are far further to the right than most voters are comfortable veering.

Of course under MMP you don’t need many voters – just enough to win an electorate or 5% of the vote. But it takes more than 500 members and a lot of money to do that, especially for a new party.


How do we bring power to the people?

20/04/2011

Environment Minister Nick Smith has released the National Policy Statement on Renewable Electricity Generation under the Resource Management Act to encourage investment in wind, geothermal, hydro, and tidal power.

This National Policy Statement is about Government recognising the importance of renewable energy and will help New Zealand meet its targets of 90% renewable electricity by 2025 and 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” Dr Smith said.

“New Zealand’s electricity emissions have increased 122% since 1990 despite a Kyoto commitment to stabilise them at 1990 levels. Policy failed badly during the last decade when coal-generated power doubled and the Labour Government intervened to build new gas and diesel plants. The NPS on Renewable Electricity Generation is part of a plan to reverse this negative trend.

“The NPS requires local authorities to recognise the importance of new renewable generation for New Zealand in their resource management plans and consent decisions. The result will be more consistent and pragmatic rules that will encourage investment in renewable energy.

“The Government is determined that New Zealand better utilises its extensive wind, geothermal, hydro and tidal energy resources. In our first year we streamlined the consent process. In our second year we introduced the amended Emissions Trading Scheme that provides a clear price signal and competitive advantage for renewables. Our third step this year is the National Policy Statement on Renewable Electricity Generation. I am confident these policy changes will stimulate a new era of investment in renewable electricity generation in New Zealand.”

Renewable energy is usually regarded as good in theory but it attracts strong opposition when plans to generate it are unveiled.

It’s not just nimbyism. A lot of people aren’t keen on new hydro, wind or tidal generation in their own backyards or anywhere else in the country. If none of them is acceptable then how do we bring power to the people and industry?

Bill Ralston looks at this in the latest Listener and asks:

“If we can’t have tidal turbines, wind turbines, more hydro-electric or nuclear power, how are we to produce enough energy to drive an expanding economy?”

No-one is seriously suggesting nuclear generation. We shouldn’t need it when we’ve got water and wind to provide renewable energy but that requires building generators in someone’s backyard.

You have to break eggs to make an omelette. You’ve also got to cook it and we won’t have the power to do that unless we produce more.

If we don’t want to use non-renewable energy, we’re going to have to accept dams, wind turbines and/or tidal generators. They’ll all have to be in someone’s backyard and every protest against them adds to the costs which will eventually be passed on to the consumers.


Daft policy, disloyalty and disunity

06/04/2011

Andrew Little is now wearing only two hats. He’s belatedly given up the presidency of the Labour Party but is still national secretary of the Engineers Printers and Manufacturing Union and a candidate in the upcoming election.

But where does his loyalty lie? It certainly isn’t to his party leader.

In this week’s Listener Jane Clifton calls  Andrew Little’s public complaint that Phil Goff didn’t speak to him about Darren Hughes as gross a piece of vandalism of a political party in trouble by one of it’s own she has ever seen:

“A party president’s job is to support the leader, not to apply his own sprig-marks to the guy’s throat when he’s already at the bottom of a media ruck. . .

Little wants the leadership. He has been working hard to ensure people likely to be loyal to him – ie, people indebted to union support in Labour’s heavily union-weighted selection process – become candidates and ultimately MPs. . .

The mask of ambition was never particularly opaque but, now it has slipped, we can see something not terribly pleasant. . .

In openly participating in the questioning of Goff’s judgement, Little has helped further damage Labour’s brand. That’s a cardinal sin for any politician, but a special breach of trust from a party president.

It’s a double breach when that now former president is also a candidate.

It is also another very clear signal that even if Labour does form the next government – and with MMP under which the silver, bronze and also-rans can take the prize that is possible – Goff is very unlikely to be able to stay as leader.

So what’s Labour offering voters? Daft policy, disunity, disloyalty and – sooner or later – a leadership coup.


Minding Ps & Qs minimising Fs & Cs

30/01/2011

“Society is getting more violent. People react more stongly to an incident [than in the past]. ” Why is that? “Manners have gone out the window.”

Judge Josephine Bouchier said this in a Listener interview, Bouchier’s Law. In the same issue Brian O’Flaherty bemoans the degradation of language in reign of error and concludes:

Ah, Terry [Snow, former Listener editor], why do we bother? Because we’re pedantic? Nah. Because someone has to uphold the idea of a common comprehension. You might fry tomayto while I boil tomahto but as long as we both know it’s a red fruit, communication exists; and where communication is lies understanding. Understanding has prevented lots of wars, excluding those sparked by religion and greed.

“I think Terry would agree we don’t care so much about the words, and probably wouldn’t care at all if they didn’t underpin that understanding. But they do. Nothing else does.”

Could there be a link between increasing violence, loss of manners and falling standards of language?

A woman working with violent prisoners noticed how limited their vocabularies were. They were never peeved, tetchy, irritated, annoyed, aggravated or even furious they were always at force 10 which was expressed in almost incomprehensible sentences in which the F and C words starred.

“If you can’t name your feelings, how do you recognise them and if you can’t recognise them how can you control them?” she asked.

The man jailed for swearing at a judge probably still doesn’t understand why.

Incomprehension begets frustration. Just think of people dealing with someone who doesn’t speak their language who try speaking more slowly and loudly in the mistaken impression that will help.

Frustration can easily turn to anger and anger can turn to violence.

Where do manners fit in? At the heart of good manners lie respect for, and consideration of, other people and self-restriant. An excuse me is much less confrontational than a shove, a sorry beats a shrug and a whoops with a smile is more likely to get a smile in return than an expletive.

Too simple? Yes. The causes of increasing violence are more complex than declining standards of language and manners, but they are part of the puzzle.

If we took better care of how we spoke and had a better command of the vocabulary with which we speak we’d find it easier to understand and be understood. 

As part of that, if we minded our Ps and Qs it would help to reduce the Fs and Cs which are part of the violent language which leads to violent acts.


Cows worth far more than hobbits

07/11/2010

The dairy industry will be the focus of attention this week with 1400 delegates from 64 countries meeting in Auckland for the World Dairy Summit.

In preparation for that Fonterra has written an open letter to the country explaining the company’s commitment to sustainability:

As New Zealand’s home-grown, global co-operative, Fonterra is proud to welcome delegates to New Zealand. We bring in one in every four export dollars to New Zealand and we seek to make a lasting contribution to New Zealand and to the communities where we live and work.

We take great pride in being a pasture-based dairy producer and see this as a lasting advantage in our markets, in line with our vision of being a natural source of dairy nutrition. Like all food companies around the world we want to achieve the right balance between social, environmental and economic sustainability.

Over the past nine years, we have made steady gains in our environmental performance. We are committed to embedding sustainability into everything we do.

This means Fonterra and our farmers face complex choices including sources of feed, environmental impacts and animal health issues as we work hard to protect our competitive advantage internationally. To compete, we will always need to be a low cost and efficient producer and to deliver for our shareholders. But we will strive to do so in ways that meet our social and environmental responsibilities, and we will always respect the animals that are the source of our product.

Our commitment is to work together with our farmers, staff, customers, government, local authorities, iwi and the community to ensure good practice is the only practice. We all have a stake in building a sustainable dairy industry for the future.

We have made progress, but we are the first to accept that we still have a long way to go. We acknowledge that we need to intensify our efforts to continuously improve our performance. We believe sustainability will be one of the defining issues for the success of Fonterra and for the global dairy industry. We are focused on doing what’s right, not just on a ‘compliance – only’ approach, but one that excels at innovations which accelerate our ability to do more with less on farms, in our factories, on transport, and for our customers. . .

Poor practice – deliberate or accidental – by the company or its shareholders makes headlines. The on-going commitment by them to sustainability goes unnoticed.

However, it’s value to the country is being taken seriously:

First the Listener editorial made the connection:

. . . the most important money-earning mammals in the Waikato meadows are not hobbits but friesians.

Liam Dann makes a similar  point:

The budget for the two Hobbit films has been reported at a pretty epic $650 million.

Not all of that will be spent here, of course, a lot of it will be used to market the films.

But even if we see half a billion, the figure will be dwarfed by the returns generated from our dairy industry.

At levels confirmed yesterday, Fonterra’s payout forecasts for this season would see $9.11 billion injected into the economy in 2011.

That’s $500 million more than the season before and some $2.5 billion more than the season before that. . .

. . .  It was a drought and a commodity slump that led us into the economic downturn and it looks set to be the weather and a commodity boom that will lead us out.

Dairying might not be as sexy as film making but it earns far more money.

Fonterra and its shareholders are committed to ensuring its economic performance is matched by good environmental practices.


Farrar #4 on Listener media power list

30/11/2009

David Farrar is number four on the Listener’s 2009 power list for media.

It is a reflection of both the quality and quantity of posts on  Kiwiblog, and well deserved recognition of its influence.

It’s also a sign  of the blogosphere’s growing role in the media.


Remember Bogor?

07/08/2009

Last week’s Listener celebrates its 70th birthday.

It dedicated the issue to humour, with contributions by or about some of the people who had entertained and amused readers in the past.

These incldued John Clarke, Tom Scott, A.K. Grant and Lyn of Tawa.

Then there was Bogor.

dairy 10006

(Some stars are much brighter than others. Bright stars are like important people. they stand out amongst the many unimportant dim ones. But dim stars aren’t really dim. They just seem to be becasue they’re far away. I’m like that. Not really dim, just  far away).

I loved the little woodsman and was very sad when he left The Listener.

The magazine thrived in the days it had exclusive rights to schedules for TV programmes. Once it lost those rights its readership fell but it has survived and a few months ago after years of buying it casually I became a subscriber.

It still has good writers, including Jane Clifton and Joanne Black,  but I miss the regular cartoon.

Apropos of the magazine, the current edition which asks is Phil Goff’s Labour Party strong enough to rise from Helen Clark’s long shadow?

Over at Keeping Stock, Inventory 2 has been having some fun with some of the quotes part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.


Who’d be a politician?

11/05/2009

P.J. O’Rourke explains to Bill Ralston why he wouldn’t want to be a politician:

“Meetings.” He stretches out the work in horror. “If it was just a matter of bossing people around, I wouldn’t mind so much. It don’t think any of us would. But to sit through meetings and have to be pleasant to everyone all the time. Can you imagine? I can’t do it around the house, with my wife and chidlren whom I love; how could I do it with the whole goddam public!”

The interview is in this week’s Listener. You can read a preview here, but you’ll have to buy a copy of the magazine if you want to read it all before it goes on-line next week.


Has anyone noticed . . .

24/04/2009

. . .  that The Listener doesn’t have a poem each week?

It dropped it last year but reinstated it in response to readers’ pleas.

But there isn’t a poem in this week’s magazine and although there was one last week I don’t recall one the week before that.

If they’re not giving us a weekly poem in poetry month it doesn’t auger well for poetic offerings for the rest of the year.


Happiness is a calm website

15/01/2009

Charlie Brown reckoned happiness was a warm puppy.

Life and technology have moved on and now you can get happiness, or at least learn how to be happy, through a CALM website.

This week’s Listener cover story interview with John Kirwan (preview here) highlights the seriousness of depression. It’s debilitating and people may well find it easier to get help from a website than ask for it in person.

Auckland University psychologists obviously think so because Calm (Computer Assitsted Learning for the Mind) is their initiative,  prompted by the high number of stressed students.

Dr Tony Fernando at Auckland University says many students struggle to cope with everyday life.

“Many of them, if not all of them, are so smart, but some of them don’t have the skills to deal with daily life,” he says.

Skills like maintaining healthy relationships.

That’s a sad commentary on modern life and I wonder if it has anything to do with the time spent communing via text and with websites (and that includes blogs) rather than interacting in person with family and friends.


Key tops Listener power list

01/12/2008

John Key is number one on The Listener’s 2008  power list, up two places from 3 last year.

He’s followed by Bill English, who was at 5 last year, Alan Bollard (6), Steven Joyce (new), Tumu Te Heuheu (13), Pita Sharples (9), Rodney Hide (new), Helen Clark (1), Michael Cullen (2) and another newcomer to the list Gareth Morgan.

For the past four years the list has been a comprehensive one ranking 50 people in a variety of fields, this year’s list has the top 10 with 11 different lists of five for other categories.

They are: heroes topped by Willie Apiata VC; business & economy where Graeme Hart is number 1; Maoridom led by Federation of Maori Authorities chief executive Paul Morgan; the law where Sir Geoffrey Palmer is at number 1; agriculture topped by Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly; health & medicine led by Health & Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson; arts, culture and entertainment with Flight of the Conchords in the top spot; science and technology where science entrpreneur Jim Watson is number 1; the media led by Dominion Post editorTim Pankhurst; environment with David Parker in the top spot; and sport topped by Sparc chair John Wells.

Some observations on the list:

*  The only woman in the top 10 is Helen Clark who’s slipped from 1 to 8 and as there’s usually nothing so ex as an ex-Prime Minister she is unlikely to be in the list at all next year.

* There are only seven women among the 55 people on the other lists.

* The environment list is led by a former minister followed by Jeanette Fitszimons and Russel Norman, all of whome are now in Opposition.

* David Farrar of Kiwiblog is in the So close but missed the list  category under media which reflects the growing influence of the blogosphere.

UPDATE: The list isn’t yet on line but the print edition says:

And yes, the panel did consider the bloggers, but was not convinced that any of those opinionated voices were yet having a marked influence on Main Street.

It also notes:

A total of 55 people have appeared in the Power List in the five years it has been published by The Listener. Only four people have been on all five lists: Helen Clark, Michael Cullen, Alan Bollard and Graeme Hart. Ths is the first year neith Labour supremo Heather Simpson nor All Blacks coach Graham Henry has appeared on the list.

Of the total, just 27 (17.4%) have been women. And only 16 of the total (10.3%) live in or are strongly associated with the South Island.


Poetry lovers prevail

11/11/2008

The Listener’s decision to axe its weekly poem was understandably met with dismay by poets who have few regular outlets for their work.

The Listener readers were equally upset:

Please put the poem back
A lot of time and effort is put in by poets, publishers and readers to get poetry into public places. When poems reach the walls of galleries or cafes, the signboards of buses and trains or the surfaces of beaches and pavements, public response is positive and everyone is reminded that poems live in the world as well as on the page.


So, why has the Listener decided to discontinue its weekly poem, the one place in this country that prints a poem that reaches 286,000 potential readers every seven days? Cost? I wouldn’t think the current fee – $150 a week – is too high a price to pay for the preservation of an honourable tradition that tells us poetry engages hearts and minds wherever it goes. Please put the poem back.
Michele Leggott
Associate Professor of English at the University of Auckland and Inaugural NZ Poet Laureate

Cultural barbarity, like WH Auden’s reindeer, moves silently and very fast. Until now, I didn’t count the Listener among the barbarians. In his speech at the Listener’s 65th anniversary celebrations, former head of Creative NZ Peter Biggs recalled the importance of the magazine in his youth, and how its “regular publishing of poetry and fiction have sustained a deep love of all things literary, New Zealand poetry in particular”.

From the editorship of Oliver Duff in 1939, through the Holcroft years and beyond, the Listener has brought the poems of James K Baxter, Allen Curnow, Janet Frame, Hone Tuwhare, Cilla McQueen, Fleur Adcock, Denis Glover, Lauris Edmond, Glenn Colquhoun, Karlo Mila, Michelle Leggott, Ian Wedde, Bill Manhire, Jenny Bornholdt, Rachel McAlpine, Vincent O’Sullivan, Denis Glover, Elizabeth Smither, Sam Hunt and ARD Fairburn – to name a tiny sampling of the poets represented in its pages – to a general readership.

The Listener was one of the very few places where people who did not subscribe to Landfall encountered contemporary New Zealand poetry.

Not any more. This week a number of poets would have received a letter (I don’t like to think I was the only one) from the Arts and Books editor to say a poem accepted for publication way back when will not be published after all.

The American poet William Carlos Williams once wrote:
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.
Getting the news from poems has just got a little more difficult.
Tim Upperton
(Palmerston North

And the Listener listened:

 Arts and Books editor Guy Somerset responds: In light of the heartening responses we have received on this issue, it is clear that for many of you our poem is a core function of the magazine. Poetry, by its nature, is a quiet medium, and we have perhaps been misled by the silence with which it is greeted in our reader surveys. With this in mind, we have revisited the decision, and will continue to publish poetry.
As always, the Listener will remain the one place where you can find extensive reviewing of New Zealand poetry, along with other literature.

I’m pleased because while my own efforts at poetry always descend into doggerel, it is my favourite artistic medium and, as some better qualified to comment than I am put it:

 

Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition.  ~Eli Khamarov, The Shadow Zone

 

Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.  Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable.  Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.  ~Carl Sandburg, Poetry Considered

 

Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.  ~Percy Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 1821

 

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.  ~Plato, Ion

 

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.  ~W.B. Yeats

  

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.  ~Percy Byshe Shelley 

 

The poet doesn’t invent.  He listens.  ~Jean Cocteau 

 

 Poetry is life distilled.  ~Gwendolyn Brooks

 

 Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.  ~Thomas Gray

  

Poetry is to philosophy what the Sabbath is to the rest of the week.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things.  ~Stephen Mallarme

 

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.  ~Christopher Fry

 

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.  ~Novalis 


%d bloggers like this: