Apathy front-runner in council elections

October 4, 2013

Only 15.5 percent of eligible voters in Wellington have voted in the local body elections halfway through the election voting period.

The return rate is even worse in Auckland with only 12.6% of eligible people having voted so far.
Local body elections rarely get the same participation as general elections do but participation in both has been dropping.
The reasons for that are many but I think postal voting, and particularly the length of time people have to vote, might have some impact on council elections.
It’s too easy to miss the envelope or put it somewhere intending to get back to it then forget about it or lose it.
This must be very frustrating to candidates who are putting serious time and money into campaigning.
Some, perhaps many, of those who haven’t voted yet might intend to, but it looks like apathy is the front-runner in council elections at this stage.
There is no easy answer to turning that around, though Keeping Stock points to a Facebook Page Roy Williams for Mayor which seeks to spice the Wanganui mayoral race with satire.

Series of quakes rocks central NZ

August 16, 2013

Geonet has recorded a series of earthquakes near Seddon.

The strongest measured 6.2.

Smaller ones rue recorded near Levin and Taihape.

NewsTalk ZB has live updates.


Perspective

July 22, 2013

Three years ago the news of a large earthquake in the top of the South and lower North Islands would have been even bigger news three years ago.

But the September 2010 and February 2011 and the thousands of others which followed them have changed our perspective.

Fortunately there have been no reported deaths or major injuries from last evening’s one and the smaller ones which preceded it.

Without in any way dismissing the fear and anguish of those who went through it and are still dealing with the aftershocks, especially people whose homes were damaged, and the hassles associated with trains not running and buildings which can’t be accessed, this was an upset, not a disaster.

Let’s hope it stays that way.


No recession in restaurants

November 23, 2012

My farmer and I were looking for somewhere to eat in Wellington on Wednesday evening.

The first place we stopped at had no spare tables and the second couldn’t take us until 9pm, which would have meant nearly an hour’s wait.

The next two were full and we finally got a table, and delicious food, at the fifth – Tuatara – which was busy but not quite full.

The city might not be booming but if full-houses mean anything there’s no sign of recession at the inner city restaurants.


Desperate sign of desperation

May 28, 2011

It’s not my land and it’s not my city so the outcry over the plan to erect a Wellywood sign on a hill overlooking our capital passed me by until I realised I would be paying for it, albeit a tiny amount.

I fly in and out of Wellingtona several times a year, using the airport which is going to put up the sign and therefore some portion of the airfare I pay must be paying for this wanton wannabeness.

If you apply the adage  if you can’t be first you must be better to the sign then the airport board which wants to erect it appears to have got it wrong.

Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery but it doesn’t necessarily make the imitator right.

Wellywood was a clever enough word play linking Wellington with Hollywood, but turning it into a sign which imitates the one which overlooks the USA’s film capital isn’t so smart. As  Lonely Planet  says:

Lonely Planet New Zealand commissioning editor Errol Hunt said he was “torn” on the idea of a Wellywood sign, seeing it as partly bold, and partly cringe-worthy.

“On one hand, it’s a bit cheeky, a bit quirky, which does feel right. On the other hand, the tryhard-o-meter is beeping furiously.”

Jim Hopkins says it even better:

It is, after all, simply evidence, writ large, of how provincial, insecure and derivative we can be.

If you have to try that hard to impress people, you really shouldn’t bother. Better to pull your bottom lip over your top lip and pretend you don’t exist.

The Wellywood sign is just the biggest, dumbest version of all those gormless billboards we see bestrewn along the roadside all over the country, halfway between nowhere and somewhere else. . .

Well, of course it’s tacky, y’ daft ha’porths!

But it’s not tacky enough. It’s limp tacky, wimp tacky.

It should be wacky tacky. If it’s going to be tacky, it’s got to be Oh! tacky. Nothing less will do. . .

Since all such signs and symbols invite derision, get in first. Create one that will transcend silliness and scale the highest heights of kitsch. Then, when people say, “Strewth, that’s awful!” you can reply, with a satisfied grin on your gob, “Thank you.”

That sums it up – the sign is bad, but not bad enough,  a desperate sign of desperation, not that I’m likely to see it.

In spite of many flights to and from Wellington I have  no idea which hill the sign is destined to despoil. I am usually reading, sleeping or,  in the case of Wellington sometimes more than exciting landings, praying, and don’t recall seeing a hillside on any descent or take-off. 

On my most recent trip a couple of days ago all I saw was cloud until just before we touched down and more cloud when we took off again yesterday.

Therefore, in the spirit of the tackiness of the sign and with apologies to Ogden Nash I leave you with:

Deck your grassy hill in signs, the hill is yours my sweeting,

 I’ll not see it flying in, nor when I’m retreating.


January 22 in history

January 22, 2010

On January 22:

 1506 The first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrived at the Vatican.

1521 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, opened the Diet of Worms.

1561 Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, was born.

1771 – Spain ceded Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands to England.
 
1788 George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (Lord Byron), English poet, was born.

1824 – Ashantis defeated British forces in the Gold Coast.

 Map of the Ashanti Region within Ghana

1840 The New Zealand Company’s first settler ship, the Aurora, arrived at Petone, marking the official commencement of the settlement that would eventually become Wellington.

 First European settlers arrive in Wellington

  1889 Columbia Phonograph was formed in Washington, D.C.

Columbia-logo.jpg

1899 Leaders of six Australian colonies met in Melbourne to discuss confederation.

1901 Edward VII was proclaimed King after the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.

1905 Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg, beginning of the 1905 revolution.

1906 SS Valencia ran aground on rocks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, killing more than 130.

 SS Valencia shipwreck, seen from one of the rescuing ships

1919 Act Zluky was signed, unifying the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic.

 Signing of the Act Zluky, on the St. Sophia Square in Kiev.

1924 Ramsay MacDonald became the first Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1927 First live radio commentary of a football match anywhere in the world, between Arsenal F.C. and Sheffield United at Highbury.

1931 Sir Isaac Isaacs was sworn in as the first Australian-born Governor-General of Australia.

1934 Graham Kerr, British-born, New Zealand chef, was born.

1940 John Hurt, English actor, was born.

1941 British and Commonwealth troops captured Tobruk from Italian forces during Operation Compass.

1946 Iran: Qazi Muhammad declared the independent people’s Republic of Mahabad at Chuwarchira Square in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. He was the new president; Hadschi Baba Scheich was the prime minister.

1946 – Creation of the Central Intelligence Group, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.

1952 The first Jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, entered service for BOAC.

1957  Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula.

1957 The New York City “Mad Bomber”, George P. Metesky, was arrested and charged with planting more than 30 bombs.

1959 Knox Mine Disaster: Water breaches the River Slope Mine near Pittston City, Pennsylvania in Port Griffith; 12 miners are killed.

1960 Michael Hutchence, Australian singer (INXS), was born.

1962 Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu, Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, was born.

Yang di-pertuan agong ke-13.PNG

1963 The Elysée treaty of cooperation between France and Germany was signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer.

1965 Steven Adler, American drummer (Guns N’ Roses), was born.

1968 Apollo 5 lifted off carrying the first Lunar module into space.

 LM1 embr original.jpg

1973  The Supreme Court of the United States delivered its decision in Roe v. Wade, legalizing elective abortion in all fifty states.

1984  The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, was introduced during Super Bowl XVIII with its famous “1984” television commercial.

A beige, boxy computer with a small black and white screen showing a window and desktop with icons. 

1987  Pennsylvania politician R. Budd Dwyer shot and killed himself at a press conference on live national television, leading to debates on boundaries in journalism.

1990 Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. was convicted of releasing the 1988 Internet Computer worm.

 Disk containing the source code for the Morris Worm held at the Boston Museum of Science.

1992 Space Shuttle program: STS-42 Mission – Dr. Roberta Bondar became the first Canadian woman in space.

 Roberta Bondar NASA.jpg

1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burned alive by radical Hindus while sleeping in their car in Eastern India.

2002 Kmart Corp beccame the largest retailer in United States history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

2006 Evo Morales was inaugurated as President of Bolivia, becoming the country’s first indigenous president.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Thank you . . .

December 16, 2009

. . . to whoever planted the pohutukawa on the road side between the centre of Wellington and the airport.

They look glorious.


August 24 in history

August 24, 2009

On August 24:

79: Mount Vesuvius  erputed.

1591 English poet Robert Herrick was baptised (Date of birth not known).


Robert Herrick, illustration based on Hesperides impression.

1875 Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swin the English Channel.

1878 Wellington’s steam-tram service opened.

1891 Thomas Edison patented the motion picture camera.

1899 Argentinean write Jorge Luis Borges was born.

 

1932 Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic, the first woman to do so.


Amelia Mary Earhart c. 1935

1936 English noelist A.S. Byatt (Dame Antonia Susan Duffy) was born.

1947 Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho was born.

 

1957 English comedian and actor Stephen Fry was born.

Sourced from Wikipedia & NZ History Online.


July 2 in history

July 2, 2009

On July 2:

1938 the electrified railway line between central Wellington and Johnsonville was officially opened.

1964: US President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act 1964 which outlawed racial segregation in public.

2002 Steve Fosset  became the first person to complete a solo round the wolrd flight in a balloon.


Meanwhile back in the real world . . .

May 16, 2009

The oppposition is filibustering over two bills  to establish the Auckland supercity.

Down here on the right side of the Waitaki we might regard supercity as an oxymoron with or without Auckland attached, but that is a debate for another post.

The opposition is filibustering because that’s what they do when they know the government has the numbers and all they can do to pretend they’re not impotent, is to delay the inevitable. No doubt if the boot was on the other foot, at least some of those those complaining about the waste of time and money would be squandering it and defending it as a valid weapon in their democratic armoury.

Meanwhile back in the real world how many constituents have been at best inconvenienced  because the appointments made to see their MPs yesterday and today have had to be cancelled? How many functions at which MPs would have played an integral role will now have to go on without them?

All because their elected representatives aren’t working in their electorates as they normally do for a good part of the time from Friday to Monday inclusive. They’re stuck in Wellington, petending it’s still Thursday, while the farce which democracy becomes in such circumstances grinds slowly to its inevitable conclusion.

UPDATE: With a hat tip to Macdoctor I see that Tariana Turia walked out of the debating chamber  yesterday because while she opposes the bills she is unimpressed by Labour’s behaviour.

Mrs Turia said her party was strongly opposed to the legislation, but said Labour had taken it too far and was wasting taxpayers’ money and valuable constituency time.

“But for the first time ever, I walked out of the House totally disgusted with this behaviour, which Labour thought was very amusing.”

She understands the importance of constituency time and once again the Maori Party shows it’s more concerned about people, and shows Labour up for concentrating on politics.

This is why they lost the Maori seats, why there was a bluewash through the provincical seats and why they lost the election.

Politics might matter in Wellington but here in the real world they should come a very distant second to people.


NZ heart services in poor health

October 7, 2008

New Zealanders are getting fewer heart operations than they were six years ago and those most in need don’t always get the fastest treatment.

Wellington patients waited the longest – an average 163 days – compared with the national average of 93 days and almost twice as long as in Auckland (75 days).

In Australia, the level of coronary artery surgery is 85 per cent higher.

What was Labour’s 1999 pledge? Oh yes – give us a little more tax and we’ll fix health.

And what do they think the election’s about? Oh yes, trust.

That obviously isn’t supposed to mean we can trust them to spend the extra money they’ve taken from us wisely.

Update: The Minister of Health has announced a $50m plan  to increase cardiac surgery by 25% over four years.


Wotif works well

October 5, 2008

We were in Dunedin last night for a 21st birthday party and hadn’t got round to booking anywhere to stay until Friday so used wotif.

That found us a room at the four star Dunedin City Hotel for $129.

It’s the fourth time we’ve got a Wotif deal there and each time we’ve been impressed. The rooms are spacious and clean, beds comfortable, the shower has a rose on a flexible hose, they have Les Floralies Earths Organics toiletries and the windows open.

We tend to make most of our decisions to travel at the last minute so use Wotif often. The only time we’ve had a problem was due to the manner of the receptionist and not Wotif.

Every other time we’ve had the same service we’d expect if we booked directly with the hotel, but at a much lower price.

That includes a Wotif Secret Deal  which doesn’t reveal the name of the hotel until you’ve paid. We’ve done that three times and got five star accommodation in the centre of Auckland twice and four star in Wellington once, for a fraction of the normal rate.

You know the general area you’ll be in so if it doesn’t matter too much exactly where you stay it’s worth the gamble.


Sunday social

August 17, 2008

Several blogs have Friday free-for-alls which has prompted me to have a Sunday social where you are welcome to talk about the week that was, the one that’s coming and/or the weekend you’re having.

I’m just about to fly home from Wellington where I’ve been for the National Party list ranking meeting – results will be announced later this morning.

We had dinner at a wonderful Italian cafe  last night. I’m a bit vague about it’s name and location – it might have been called Cafe Italiano and was in or near Cuba Street. I am in no doubt about its quality though – delicious pasta, wine, desert and terrific service from Italian waiters.

Super Saturday was indeed super – our best ever day  at the Olympics and the medal count is now two gold, a silver and a bronze.

This might help TV ratings because deeply shallow people like me take only a passing interest in the games until we start winning.

I fell asleep part way through the rugby and won’t divulge the score in case you missed the game to and want to watch it without knowing the result.

The six Australian climbers have been rescued from Mt Cook.


Russian Jack

August 9, 2008

Friday’s poem, On the Swag, brought a comment from JC which I think deserves a post:

During the 50s and very early 60s, My parents and I were often on the road from Hawkes Bay to Wairarapa and Wellington going to all the A&P shows with my ponies and horses. We often saw Russian Jack on the road, said to be the last of the swaggers.

I remember being quite surprised at how my perception of what a swagger looked like compared to the reality. I could see very little romance in a life that required such an enormous amount of tackle that RJ carried about with him. There’s a picture of him here:

http://folksong.org.nz/russian_jack/56.html

Later, when I joined the Forest Service in 1963, I saw many older men arrive in camp who had something of the same stamp.. men, some of whom would arrive in an old pin striped suit to slash scrub and plant trees. They were good to us young guys and had many homilies to pass on.. until the weekend, and then you saw the reason.. they were monstrous alcoholics who started on Friday and then drank steadily in their huts all weekend. They sometimes became incontinent and were not pleasant to be around.

In a life of working the back country of the North Island, I’ve met many men and the odd woman with the stamp of the swagger/hermit.. people who preferred their own company who were allowed to settle somewhere, even in an old car body, and did enough local work for their beer and baccy. I suppose the most astonishing thing about them is how they were often good company, even if only for a little while.

I’ve never met a swagger, but JC’s story reminds me of Tom the fencer who came to work on Great Mercury Island when I lived there. He’d had an ininerant life, and had worked on many of the bigger farms around the North Island. He was a wonderful story teller and could yarn for hours so was good company if you didn’t mind his casual attitude to personal hygiene – although we know he washed his socks in the weeks he spent on the island because we saw him throw them over the verandah rails when it rained.


Yule wins Local Govt Presidency

July 30, 2008

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule has been elected president of Local Government New Zealand.

Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast, who contested the presidency too, is the new deputy.

Bob Harvey, Waitakere mayor had earlier criticised local bodies supporting Yule’s nomination:

“It’s a brainless stand as the largest urban authority in New Zealand to not think through what the job entails and I’m surprised and amazed at their decision. Local government will be in serious trouble if they don’t come to their sense and realise that the job is beyond the mayor of a small rural district.”

Obviously enough of those who voted realise that size doesn’t matter and a president with an understanding of provincial issues and a deputy who knows about urban issues should ensure the views of all local authorities are understood and represented.

Update: I stand to be corrected on this but I think Yule was electorate chair for Michael Laws when he (Laws) was a National MP. The skills he’d need for that job will be very useful in his new role 🙂


Size doesn’t really matter, Bob

July 28, 2008

Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey says support for a small-town politician’s bid to for the presidency of Local Government New Zealand is “brainless”.

The Sunday Star Times (not on line) says that Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule is running against Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast. Yule’s bid is supported by the Auckland Regional Council and Environment Canterbury which Harvey labelled misguided.

“It’s a brainless stand as the largest urban authority in New Zealand to not think through what the job entails and I’m surprised and amazed at their decision. Local government will be in serious trouble if they don’t come to their sense and realise that the job is beyond the mayor of a small rural district.”

I wouldn’t call a population of 77,500 small and given the district includes the city of Hastings I’d say it’s more provincial than rural. But of course I’m biased because I live in the Waitaki District which has only 20,000 people and no cities.

However, all that’s beside the point.

What matters is not the size of the local bodies the candidates for the position represent but whether or not they have the skills for the job. I have no idea which of the two would be a better president but I take exception to Harvey’s presumption that the job is “too big for the mayor of a small rural district”.

Harvey might not realise this, but there is intelligent life in the provinces.


If you think city fuel prices are high…

July 9, 2008

… try driving in the provinces.

Poneke  tells us that 91 octane petrol in Wellington has reached 218.9 cents a litre.

In Wanaka it’s 2.269 for 91;  and 2.349 for premium. 

Diesel is 199.9 cents a litre and of course Road User Charges come on top of that.

Ouch.


$10,000 punt on National Win

July 3, 2008

I’m having one of those fortnights this week so just caught up with this in yesterday’s Press over breakfast:

A Melbourne punter thinks National will win New Zealand’s election and has plunged $A 10,000 ($NZ12,720) on John Key’s party. The punter stands to win $A13,500 with Australian betting agency Centrebet if National wins the election later this year.

Centrebet has since firmed National in to $1.30 with Labour the outsider at $3.35.

“It’s one of the biggest bets so far, but we also have a London punter who’s placed L2000 ($NZ5,300) on Key at $1.30,” Centrebet political analyst Neil Evans said.

However, he said Clark has not been friendless in the betting, with a Christchuch punter recently backing her at $3.15, while an earlier Wellington punter staked $1000 on her at $2.65.

Would it be unkind to point out this could prove that only losers are backing Labour?

National opened three months ago at $1.47 and Labour at $2.62.

Over at The Inquiring Mind  Adam Smith has copied a letter to the editor of the NZ Herald from Labour president Mike Williams in which he argues that polls are losing their predictive value.

I wonder what he thinks about betting agences? They can be wrong, but their businesses thrive because they’re right more often.


Capital Idea to Shift South

June 11, 2008

Bob Harvey wants the capital to move to Auckland but I’ve got a better idea – move it to Oamaru. Auckland doesn’t need more people or traffic and property is much cheaper down here.

There’s an historical precedent for shifting the seat of power south because our capital was originally in Russell. It then moved to Wellington so a second southward shuffle would simply be a continuation of a natural progression down the country.

It would also give Oamaru the city status for which it was destined in the 1800s until the gold ran out and land wars were settled which tempted people further north.

This capital transfer would have undoubted benefits for the locals. Thousands of people work in parliament and associated agencies. If the seat of government moved south, so presumably would the hangers-on and at least some of them would bring partners and families and this injection of people into Oamaru would increase job opportunites, property prices, facilities and services.

Some will question the wisdom of moving parliament down here when most MPs live in Auckland. But if their homes are up there then working down here would enable them to cover the country in a much more equitable fashion and reverse the problem caused the lack of geographical proportionality in our current representation.

There’d have to be something in the shift for the MPs and bureaucrats and there would be.

They’d get the satisfaction of knowing they had personally made a major contribution to regional development and there’d be lifestyle gains from exchanging the city rat race for the more sedate pace of provincial life.

If they’re concerned about leaving the beehive behind they could bring it with them and pop it down on the foreshore where it could provide nesting sites for the little blue penguins.

That way anyone who doubted the wisdom of the move would be able to wander down to see it and realise how much worse off they were in Wellington.


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