Tweeting for The Nation


I’m on The Nation’s Twitter panel at 9.30 this morning.


… In the week that Landcorp pulled back on dairy, the milk price dropped and the Reserve Bank cut the OCR to a record low, we bring together the leaders of Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens to debate the state of the economy. How worried should we be? Or is it just a blip? Labour’s Andrew Little, New Zealand First’s Winston Peters and the Green Party’s James Shaw are live with Lisa Owen.

Then, an exclusive TV interview with Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta. New Zealand spent millions and lost five soldiers helping bring peace to Timor Leste, then East Timor. What difference did we make? How real are concerns that it could become a failed state inside a decade? And does Helen Clark have much chance at getting the top UN job?

And, we look at the battle over Auckland housing. Is it being driven by NIMBYism or are we trying to cram too much into our biggest city? Phil Vine reports on the inter-generational battle for the soul… and density… of Auckland.

We’ll discuss all this and more with our panel: economist Shamubeel Eaqub, NZME Business Editorial Director Fran O’Sullivan, and Sunday Star-Times Editor Jonathan Milne.

Time for @FarmersOfNZ?


A Twitter initiative to give the public information about the day to day reality of farming in Canada  has sparked similar initiatives in the UK and Australia:

. . . The @FarmersOfTheUK series will see a different farmer every week sharing their life through tweets, pictures and videos.

“I created it because UK farming plc doesn’t do enough to shout about how great it is, so the idea was to let consumers and the public know the diverse nature of farming enterprises and the realities of food production,” said rural business adviser Simon Haley.

Mr Haley hopes the idea, based on a similar one in Canada, will generate a “feel-good factor” around farming. . .

There’s also one for Australian farmers.

Is it time for New Zealand farmers to launch @FarmersOfNZ to show the challenges and variety of day to day farming here?

2013 in review


The clever stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 370,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 16 days for that many people to see it. . . 

The top referring sites were:


The most prolific commenters were:

  • 1 TraceyS 1383 comments
  • 2 robertguyton 811 comments
  • 3 Andrei 722 comments
  • 4 Viv 629 comments
  • 5 Armchair Critic 448 comments

Thank you to the people who write the blogs which refer readers here, the people who visit and the people who comment.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pipe cleared, demands apology


The precautionary recall of products containing Fonterra whey protein concentrate wasn’t a joke.

But now it’s been declared a false alarm some people are seeing the funny side with tweets on  #fonterra:

  1. Further tests will reveal we might be 100% Pure, but can’t be 100% Sure. #Fonterra

    1. Somewhere there’s a lab tech saying “I’ve made a huge mistake” #fonterra

      Trish Sherson@TrishSherson 48m

    1. Botulism false alarm: Pipe demands apology after ‘dirty’ label cuts business to a trickle #Fonterra #Botulism

      1. So, turns out the botulism…wasn’t botulism. But someone sure botched something #fonterra



Break out the popcorn


Tweets of the day:


  1. The internet, in which @dpfdpf and @CactusKate2 sign the entire @nzyoungnats up as @nzlabour members so they can vote @TrevorMallard leader

  1. Willing to bet these Mighty River Power shares on iPredict for a Cosgrove/Maroney ticket. Labour’s Dream Team. Can’t lose.

  1. First I felt I was missing out, being away during the Labour leadership spill. Then I remembered it’s Labour. There’ll be another one soon.

Was it all just a lucky guess?


Did Peters really have access to emails between Andrea Vance and Peter Dunne or did he just make some lucky guesses based on their Twitter exchanges?

Mr Key said he did not believe Mr Peters had seen emails or other communications between Mr Dunne and the reporter, Andrea Vance, which Mr Peters has claimed contained personally embarrassing material.

“It’s normal modus operandi for Mr Peters, bluff and bluster and claims to have lots of information.” . . . 

Mr Peters again refused to say what information he had, but said there were “countless examples” of others doubting his word in the past and he had proved them wrong.

I’d have said there were more examples of others doubting his word in the past and the doubters being proved right.

Truth will (sell) out


Has any newspaper ever had better publicity than Truth in the last week?

The appointment of Cameron Slater as editor received coverage that money can’t buy and that has tranlated in sales.

The grapevine tells me it has sold out in several outlets in Auckland and that extra copies are being rushed to Wellington where, if Twitter is to be believed, it has also sold out:

#nz_truth sells out in downtown Wellington. Who are the nervous pollies?

If I’ve ever bought or read a copy before the experience has been buried deep in the recesses of my memory but I found one in a dairy in Oamaru today and out of curiousity bought it.

A quick thumb-through confirms I’m not the target audience. Politics yes, adult content, no thanks.

That said, and while you can’t judge an editor on a single issue, selling out and getting coverage in other media for content is a very good start.

Great Café Challenge


One of my indulgences is magazines.

My farmer and I subscribe to several and the Presbyterian in me doesn’t like to throw them out when they’ve been read.

Instead I usually take them to our local hospital where they’re read by many others in waiting rooms.

This must multiply readership by tens, possibly hundreds of people more than subscribers and casual buyers which is one of the motivating factors behind the Great Cafe Challenge.

It was sparked by a tweet from an Australian cafe:

A Twitter conversation ensued between Naked Espresso Bar, Erin, myself and Emma Field (a journalist with The Weekly Times Now) where we despaired at the ever increasing city-country divide despite so many efforts and programs by the farming sector to reconnect people with the source of their food (eg: Farm Day and Art4Agriculture); and we discussed what more can be done to change the situation … Let’s face it, no coffee shop in Australia would be possible without the farmers who grow the food and supply the milk.

Given the love we Australians have for our ‘café culture‘, it would make perfect sense then that cafés could be a place to “spread the ag love” and help bridge the country-city divide in small, manageable bites, just like Naked Espresso Bar are doing. So here it is … The Great Café Challenge:

We challenge every café owner across Australia to carry at least one weekly rural newspaper in their shop.

That’s it. So simple. It won’t cost much; it won’t take much time; but the benefits to rural Australians of having more urban people with a greater understanding of where their food and fibre comes from, of the people and communities who produce it, and the conditions under which they produce it, could be extraordinary!
The Great Cafe Challenge has now spread to New Zealand, prompted by Federated Farmers.

The average urban reader almost certainly won’t be gripped by discussions on kilos of dry matter. but magazines like Country Wide and Young Farmer have lots of stories about interesting people which should appeal to town dwellers  too.

Country Calendar attracts a good number of urban viewers, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be just as interested in rural stories in print media.

Hat tip: Pasture to Profit

Old rules don’t fit new media


The mainstream media is being very careful to not divulge the contents of the so-called teapot tapes.

But it wouldn’t take anyone who knows their way around the internet long to find the YouTube clip of the conversation recorded between John Key and John Banks.

The MSM is constrained by police advice it is an offence to disclose private communication unlawfully intercepted.

That could apply to websites based here but lots aren’t. It’s all over Twitter and some blogs also have links to the clip or enough information to help people looking for it.

And people are looking:

Yesterday evening the top search terms for this blog were:

Search Views
teapot tape transcript 49
teapot tapes transcript 21
blair mayne 7
mona blades 7
youtube teapot tape 7
you tube teapot tape 5
key banks tea tape transcript 4
teapot tapes transcript 26 january 4
teapot tape download 4

Whether or not the old rules apply to new media might be debatable but the coverage the tapes are getting on the internet show that there is enough uncertainty to leave old media at a disadvantage.

However, without divulging the contents almost everyone agrees there was nothing of great moment on the recording.

That has led political opportunists to say that proves John Key was wrong to make an issue of it.

On the contrary it shows he was motivated not by a desire to hide something but by principle.

All of us, whether or not we are public figures, ought to be able to have a conversation without the risk it might be recorded and made public without our knowledge or permission.

Quake communication by social media and memoirs


Discussion of on-line matters with Jim Mora on Critical Mass started with how on-line media complemented the MSM in coverage of the Christchurch earthquake.

Facebook, Twitter and blogs helped people connect with family and friends and also mobilise volunteers and equipment to help with recovery effort.

Among the many blog posts was one in which Brian Edwards and  Judy Callingham wrote of how Twitter brought us news that our family in Christchurch was safe.

Another which caught my eye was Not PC, who wrote of the tragedy and included descriptions of what happened to the buildings.

Many bloggers in Christchurch didn’t have power or internet connections at first but started posting when they could and their accounts provide a powerful human record of the quake and its aftermath.

It might be just as well they didn’t read the problem with memoirs first. In this column Neil Genzlinger, a staff editor at the New York Times writes disparagingly on memoirs written by people with nothing much to say.

One of those whose memoir he disparages, Sean Manning, responded in the Daily Beast.

Twitter Explains Super Fund


The government is sending pretty clear signals that it will suspend payments to the Super Fundd.

Speaking at the launch of the DeloitteSouth Island Index last night, Bill English said:

When it was set up, the idea of the Super Fund was to invest Budget surpluses. The Government was then in surplus and expected to stay in surplus for the foreseeable future. . .

Those Budget surpluses have disappeared. The Government will run a deficit this year, and will do so for the foreseeable future. That changes the whole picture.

The Government will have to borrow quite a lot of money to makes its full Super Fund contributions. Next year we would have to borrow around $2 billion, or around $40 million a week to put into the Fund, to be invested in what are currently uncertain global financial markets.

That’s why we’re considering this issue, and that’s why the Fund’s rules allow the Government to vary its contributions to reflect changing fiscal conditions.

 If the words don’t convince you suspending payments is a good idea, Garrick Tremain’s picture might:


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