To name or not to name?


To name or not to name the MP who was Jami-Lee Ross’s lover and is said to have sent a very nasty text to him? This is the question exercising minds on Kiwi Journalists’ Facebook page.

RNZ gave considerable coverage to the text but published only a few words, Whale Oil published it in full.

Apparently most political journalists believe they know who she is and she has been named on social media.

A few years ago this question would not have been asked.

But times, and journalism have changed.

Do the public, which will include people whose votes might be influenced by the knowledge, have the right to know which MP behaved this way?

Whether or not it’s ethical to name her, I have no doubt her name will become public soon.

Whether it’s on a blog or in the mainstream media will be irrelevant. Once it’s published somewhere other outlets will follow.

365 days of gratitude


It’s 10 years today since I started blogging.

My introduction to blogs came through reading Kiwiblog which introduced me to other blogs, including No Minister, Lindsay MitchellNot PC, Whale Oil, and the sadly gone but not forgotten Cactus Kate and Keeping Stock.

Reading led to commenting and that led to the thought I could start my own blog. I happened to mention that thought to a friend who is much more computer savvy than I am, she said it would be easy and thanks to WordPress, it was.

Once I started blogging I found other blogs and different news sites which, for a while supplanted books.

A trip to Argentina for a couple of weddings when I had no internet access for several days at a time persuaded me that less blogging would be more healthy and I cut back on computer time.

Every now and then I contemplate giving up altogether and perhaps I will one day.

But not yet.

I still enjoy the writing and, whether or not I agree with them, the contribution from those who leave comments.

Without them this would be a very one-sided conversation. With them there’s variety and for that, and the people who provide it, I’m grateful.




Where do you sit on the feminist perspective?


I believe that that people should have equal rights because we’re all people and therefore regard myself as a peopleist rather than a feminist, but that wasn’t an option in this test in which I scored highest as a liberal feminist:

Perspective Score
Liberal feminist 38
Cultural feminist 24
Women of Color 21
Radical feminist 19
Conservative 14
Socialist feminist 13

Hat Tip: Spanish Bride at Whale Oil.

Key # 1 again


TV3 political editor Patrick Gower has named Prime Minister John Key as politician of the year.

Trans Tasman named him politician of the year last week too.

There could simply be no other. John Key was out on his own this year for one simple reason – he won.

Yes, the Prime Minister’s performance ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.

In fact, Key went from the crème-de-la-crème to the crème-de-la-crap at times.

But Key won. He got National across the line. It was an incredible victory. It defied the political gravity of a third-term and was against the odds of the campaign. . .

I am not sure that anyone except political tragics were particularly interested in the campaign.

To get that was far from easy for Key. The Dirty Politics scandal could have destroyed other campaigns and finished off other leaders.

The election campaign was weird. It was dark too. And it was incredibly brutal for all those involved.

There is no doubt that Dirty Politics knocked Key over at first – National lost control of its campaign.

Yet Key survived. He stood his ground.  In the words of son Max, he “manned up”.

It was like Key absorbed all of the negativity directed at him, and then, like some kind of comic book character, spewed it all out again as some kind of positive force.

There was unpredictability everywhere: Whaledump, Rawshark, Winston, Colin, rappers, hacker(s), Dotcom, Eminem, Cortex and don’t forget Speargun.

National and Key’s defence was simple – they had a plan, and they stuck to it.

“The plan” is a grinding, relentless strategy based on simple messaging and a self-belief that the Key juggernaut can eventually ride out almost anything.

It has been proven time and time again, and this time was proven on the biggest stage (an entire election campaign) facing the greatest degree of difficulty (an entire book of scandal).

Helped in no small part by a dismal and divided opposition which wasn’t looking like a government in waiting.

Key’s politics this year was a potent combination of on the “macro” level, stubbornly sticking to strategy, and on the “micro” level, being what’s called a “clutch hitter” or “big game player” who rises to the occasion.

Key made big moves at a strategic level and stuck to them, and he made big calls in day-to-politics that worked for him too.

On the macro level, one part of the plan that worked well this year was Key’s semi-upfront declaration of his potential coalition partners at the start of the year.

Looking back, it really was a masterstroke – it gave voters a clear picture of how a National Government would work.

Key also gave himself the space with the decision about giving Colin Craig a electorate seat deal and even more space when it came to working with Winston Peters.

In the end, he ruled out a seat deal for Craig because he looked too crazy and wanted him at arms-length. It was a big call but a good call – imagine if Key had been apologising for Craig on the campaign trail as well as dealing with Dirty Politics.

With Winston, Key kept him at arms’ length. But by not ruling Peters out, he always kept himself in the game, it always looked like National could form a Government no matter how bad the polls got.

The PM had the courage and sense to let voters know what they would and would not get with a National-led government.

That provided another stark contrast with then-Labour leader David Cunliffe who stupidly copied Winston Peters’ line that he’d let the voters choose without giving them all the information they’d need to choose wisely.

Key’s and National’s strategy included a bedrock of policies tailored for the centre voter, and conservative political management. They then turbo-charged this with an overload of “Brand Key” marketing.

Key used these to keep his vice-like grip on the centre-ground, and if he has that – National wins. . .

But there was nothing certain about that win.

Steven Joyce’s recent admission that National was polling at 44 percent in the final week and might have needed Winston to govern shows just how different it could have been. . .

Gower’s other awards:

Runner-up politician of the year: Andrew Little.

Back-bencher Kelvin Davis.

Runner-up political non-politician: Kim Dotcom, Whale Oil and Nicky Hager.

Radio Live’s Duncan Garner lists the year’s political winners and losers:


For all the obvious reasons. He is still the PM and he is still widely popular according to the polls. He had the kitchen sink thrown at him and he almost won the election outright. He’ll have to watch it doesn’t go to his head.


Couldn’t win a fight in a kindergarten but ends the year on top. His caucus didn’t want him, his party didn’t want him, his electorate didn’t want him. Yet he ends the year looking strong and competent as Labour’s new leader.


He beat Hone Harawira and therefore beat Kim Dotcom – do I have to say anymore?


She knew Dotcom and Harawira were in an unholy alliance and she put her principles before it all. She called it right – she has values and principles that are beyond reproach whether you agree with her politics or not.


Yes he’s a dirt-bag, muck-raking, scum-bag attack blogger, but he likes it that way. He doesn’t play by any rule book yet he’s been judged a journalist by the courts. Despite having his dirty laundry aired for the world to see he remains talked about, his blog gets more hits than ever, he breaks stories and the PM returns his texts. Oh and he wins mainstream media awards.

(Close mention: Paula Bennett, now talked about as the next National Party Leader)

His losers are:


Threw millions at trying to rig an election, but the public weren’t fooled. He’s now fighting to stay out of jail. Rest my case.


He picked the wrong rich friends. Should have stayed poor. At least he’d still be in Parliament. Woeful judgement.


See above.


Was on track to be the next National Party Leader – now she’s struggling to be heard from the backbenchers. Huge fall from grace. Career in tatters.


Came across as a fake and then apologised for being a man. Do we have to say anything more? Awful defeat.

(Close mention: Grant Robertson, rejected twice as Labour’s future leader. That will hurt and in politics if winning if everything, Robertson has twice failed. Ouch. Still, he has huge chance to recover well.)



Right on top of blog rankings


Open Parachute’s monthly blog rankings show the right on top:

Visit Rank Blog Visits/month Page Views/month
1 Whale oil beef hooked 1758095 2957997
2 Kiwiblog 445721 771086
3 The Daily Blog 218234 345266
4 The Standard 201495 443470
5 Auckland Transport Blog 155853 160244
6 Throng New Zealand 53729 94004
7 The Dim-Post 53509 75134
8 Sciblogs 39662 50631
9 Liturgy 36160 50478
10 Keeping Stock 33807 53244
11 No Right Turn 26757 35029
12 Homepaddock 26471 36951
13 NewZeal 21726 35094
14 No Minister 20898 27292
15 Music of sound 14879 18833
16 Imperator Fish 13552 17547
17 13th Floor 12544 17630
18 Save our schools NZ 12355 14307
19 Keith Johnson Wellington NZ 12120 12574
20 Offsetting Behaviour 11835 16377


The combined total of the top left-wing blogs, which are at third and fourth, is still less than Kiwiblog which is second and miles from Whale Oil in first place.

Dim Post from the left is seventh and Keeping Stock from the right is 10th. I’m at 12, No Minister, which is more right than not is at 14th and Imperator Fish which is left is 16th.

I ditched Sitemeter because I kept getting a window asking me to sign in to it and now rely on StatCounter to record visits:




Congratulations Cameron


Cameron Slater won the Best Blog at the Canon Media Awards last night.

The award recognises the impact he makes with Whaleoil.

It doesn’t condone all, or in fact any, of his posts.

I find some offensive and don’t bother going past the headline on many.

But some are well researched and break news  and make an impact in a way no other blog in New Zealand does.

Congratulations, Cameron, that’s why you got the award and you deserved it.



13 more reasons to vote for change


The notoriously inaccurate* Horizon poll gives 13 more reasons to ditch MMP:

A Horizon poll of 2874 people is projecting National on 46 seats in a 122-seat parliament, and Labour and the Greens on 50.

That leaves 26 seats to decide the government and, according to Horizon, Winston Peters’ New Zealand First is on track to take up to 13 of them.

The 13 are: 1 a charlatan, 2 who? 3 a man best known for alcohol induced bladder weakness. 4 who?, 5 who? 6 who? 7 who? 8 who?, 9 who? 10 who? 11 who?, 12 who?, 13  who?

* The poll’s results are very different form all others and Keeping Stock and Whaleoil explain how easy it is to manipulate them.

Some more foreign than others


Why does an increasingly more urbanised population care so much about farmland?

Most will never own it nor want to; some may visit a farm but many will never get any closer to one than a trip down State Highway 1 at 100 kph, or faster.

In spite of that they’re very keen to have a say in who the owners can sell it to – or rather not sell it to.

At the moment any sale of five hectares or more of farmland must go before the Overseas Investment Commission if a foreigner wants to buy it.

I don’t have a problem with some oversight over land sales to people from other countries, but why five hectares?

Depending where it is that could be more than enough for at least one thriving horticulture business or not enough to carry a  single stock unit. Why doesn’t the ownership of flat, fertile land where the climate is temperate matter if who owns rough, hilly, less productive land where it blows and snows does?

If you looked at farms from the road you may be able to tell something about the owners’ ability as farmers but I doubt if you’d be able to work out where they came from. Even if you went on to the farms and spoke to managers and staff it probably wouldn’t be obvious if the owners were New Zealanders or not.

I can see why people wouldn’t want all or even most land owned by foreigners and I also understand the danger of vertical integration of the supply chain by foreigners. They can’t take the land with them but they could take the produce and valuable export dollars.

But it doesn’t need a total ban on land sales to foreigners to keep processing and some of the export returns here.

However, the anti-foreign ownership feeling isn’t just about people from overseas. A Curia poll (on which Cactus Kate, Kiwiblog and Whale Oil have commented) shows those asked regarded some people as more foreign than others.

Sixty five percent of people polled wanted land sold only to New Zealand residents. That dropped to 55% if staff were locals; 54% if the owners paid tax here; and 52%  if the extra capital from the owners tripled exports.

But the most telling result was on the question which moved from foreigners in general to specific nationalities. If the buyers were from Australia 18% were extremely uncomfortable and 42% weren’t uncomfortable at all; if the buyers were French 31% were extremely uncomfortable and 24% weren’t at all uncomfortable; if the buyers were Chinese 41% were extremely uncomfortable and 21% weren’t uncomfortable at all; if the buyers were British 23% were extremely uncomfortable and 31% weren’t at all uncomfortable and if the buyers were from the USA 27% were extremely uncomfortable and 24% weren’t uncomfortable at all.

This means that the opposition isn’t necessarily to foreign ownership per se – the strength of feeling varies with where the would-be owners come from.

That explains why the possible sale of the Crafar Farms to Chinese owners has caused an uproar but the actual sale of Big Sky dairy farm in the Maniototo to Harvard University’s global investment fund has hardly raised an eyebrow.

There is some logic in the desire for some control of farm sales to foreigners. But this poll shows that arguments for a total ban on sales to foreigners is based on emotion and one of those emotions is xenophobia.

Let’s get better Best Blog Awards


Whale Oil, Cactus Kate and Oswald Bastable  aren’t impressed with the nominations in the blog category of the Qantas Media Awards.

I agree.

Let’s do something about it with the Best Blog Awards.

Your views on categories, criteria, how and by whom they should be judged are welcome.

Once that’s been determined we can open nominations.

Old media, new media


A Media & Communications student emailed asking for answers to questions she posed as part of a research project on the relationship between journalism and blogging.

What motivated you to begin your blog? What role do you intend for it  to play in society?

I’d been reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, noticed there wasn’t much from a rural perspective and decided I had enough to say on my own.

I’ve never considered what role my blog plays in society. I hoped it would be read, enjoyed and engender debate.

Do you think traditional (print and broadcast) journalism is fulfilling its societal role of providing neutral, reliable, accurate and democratic information to citizens? Do you think bloggers fulfil  these values better?

The best journalism is still unbiased (though not necessarily neutral), reliable and accurate (not sure what democratic information is).

The loss of institutional knowledge in news rooms means that a lot of less than the best ends up printed and broadcast. The move to infotainment and comment in news items, on TV in particular, means a lot isn’t neutral, reliable or accurate.

Most blogs are commentary not journalism, similar to letters to the editor without the intervention of an editor. Many are churnalism.

Few if any, try to be neutral or unbiased but the good ones are up front about their bias and are reliable and accurate. The worst pretend their not biased and just rant. The best of those which do break news are as good as, sometimes better than, traditional media. But most bloggers blog part time and unpaid without the resources available to newsrooms.

 Is it your intent to cause a change to journalism? Do you think  blogging is changing traditional journalism? If so, do you think this  is positive or negative for journalism as a whole?

No, I don’t intend to change traditional journalism (and I wouldn’t have the power to do so even if I did). However, I think blogging is changing  influencing journalism – some blogs have become another source of news. Many blogs react to what’s in the traditional media and the traditional media sometimes reacts to, comments on and quotes from blog posts.’s post on Crafar Farms was very quickly followed up by other media, on and off line.

Blogs sometimes hold traditional media to account and providing they do it fairly, that’s good.

What do you think are the negative points/things which should be changed about blogging as journalism? What is your reaction to claims that blogging is negative for journalism because it is partisan, only  provides links to ‘real’ journalism, and has too little access and  influence?

Rants and personal invective are negative but that isn’t journalism and, as with any other media, if you don’t like it you don’t have to read it.

The lack of editorial control is liberating but it can also be dangerous, especially with court cases where blogs have broken suppression orders or been in contempt of court.

Not all blogging is partisan and some of the partisan ones are very good. They break stories, use original sources and facts as any journalist in traditional media ought to. Kiwiblog, Whale Oil and Cactus Kate are upfront about their bias but break stories which are followed by other media.

Some traditional media and/or journalists are partisan too, although they are less likely to admit to it.

Partisan isn’t bad by itself, it’s any media which pretends to be unbiased when it’s not, that is the problem.

How would you describe the interaction between blogging and traditional journalism?

Blogs and traditional journalism compliment, sometimes compete, sometimes feed off each other. Most blogs would have a lot less to say if it wasn’t for traditional media. But some blogs use original material and the traffic isn’t all one way. As individual blogs enhance their reputations by breaking stories the media will refer to them more.

The blogs they are a changing


Keeping Stock is going to work.

Barnsley Bill is going private.

Cactus Kate and Whale Oil are going together at Gotcha.

You can trust this one


There’s a new Labour website – and I think you can trust it.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock who credits Whale Oil.

$9.5m for food aid



We’re giving $9.5m in aid to help fight the world food crisis.

The funding would be delivered via NZAid with $7m going to the UN World Food Programme which focuses on feeding people in life or death situations. The remainder would go to the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research for a longer term response.

I’m pleased to see that some of the money is going towards finding a long term solution on humanitarian grounds but also because food shortages threaten world security.

 The CGIAR website  lists its priorities as: 

  • Reducing hunger and malnutrition by producing more and better food through genetic improvement
  • Sustaining agriculture biodiversity both in situ and ex situ
  • Promoting opportunities for economic development and through agricultural diversification and high-value commodities and products
  • Ensuring sustainable management and conservation of water, land and forests
  • Improving policies and facilitating institutional innovation

  I wonder if genetic improvement includes GM and if those who oppose GM would relax their opposition if it meant the difference between people starving or not?

 The website also notes:

 Without public investment in international agricultural research through the CGIAR,

  • world production would be 4-5 percent lower
  • developing countries would produce 7-8 percent less food
  • world food and feed grain prices would be 18-21 percent higher
  • 13-15 million more children would be malnourished

For every $1 invested in CGIAR research, $9 worth of additional food is produced in developing countries, where it is needed most. The evidence is clear: agricultural growth alleviates poverty and hunger.

 The food crisis provides both challenges and opportunities for New Zealand producers and we have a lot of expertise to offer the world. It doesn’t have to be through Government aid either as the Kyrgyzstan New Zealand Rural Trust  has shown.

 The Trust was formed a year ago when the Government stopped funding an aid programme there. It aims to assist with income generation, livelihood improvement and livestock performance.

 The present programme has two main threads:

• Poverty reduction subprojects include potato production and storage, goat production, bakery, sewing shops, milk processing and pasteurizing. Most of these sub-projects have a “social obligation” element where the first group of families assisted under the project will help other families in the community.

• Livestock performance subprojects include establishment of sainfoin (a high altitude legume), improve wintering barns to improve hygiene and survival, and making silage to improve feed quality.

Future programmes may include support for a microcredit agency which will offer Grameen Bank style loans to poor families to invest in income generation activities, as well as continuation of the successful pro-poor and livestock improvement subprojects.

 Update: Oh dear, am I being niaive in my approval of the donation to CGIAR?

No Minister  reckons it’s money down the drain:


That will be the last anyone ever sees of that $2,500,000.


Why don’t we donate $7m of actual NZ produced food and help some local manufacturers. That’s probably about 700,000 blocks of cheese. Then it becomes a win win.

And Whale Oil has a better idea to combat food shortages:


Far from New Zealand putting its money where its mouth is they are putting OUR money where it will evaporate faster than an iceblock in Death Valley.

The single best thing we can all do to combat the world wide shortage of foodstuffs is cancel our obsession with Kyoto and Biofuels.

It wont cost a cent. Best of all it will remove thousands of consultants from government departments writing endless papers on how the department will need to be carbon neutral.






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