Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

About time

October 3rd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Two men have appeared in court in connection with an incident in which an Auckland office was stormed and staff forcefully dragged out by a group in an apparent land claim.

John Wanoa, 66, and John Murray Monga, 50, both of South Auckland, were arrested on Friday following the the drama at the Tournament Parking office on Cook Street on Monday.

The two men faced charges of trespass, forcible entry and assault, police said. Police are continuing to search for a number of others in relation to the incident and further arrests are anticipated.

Good. Peaceful protest is one thing. Violent evictions are another.

The men appeared seperately at Auckland District Court. They represented themselves and protested loudly during their appearance. The pair were remanded in jail to reappear on Monday morning.

Excellent – consequences.


NZ 43 Georgia 10

October 3rd, 2015 at 2:50 pm by David Farrar

Well thank goodness we’re not in the pool of death, or we may be dead.

Three games down, and all pretty scratchy. One against a mid-level country, and two against minnows. And they all scored tries against us, and we never looked dominant.

Credit to Georgia for playing so well. I do love how the World Cup inspires the less ranked countries to put in their best performances.

Tonga could push us quite hard next weekend.

The pools are looking interesting.

Pool A – Australia probably to top and Wales may come second unless England beat them. The two bonus points for England should see them through if they do.

Pool B – South Africa should still top followed by Scotland

Pool C -All Blacks and probably Argentina

Pool D – France followed by Ireland

So quarter-finals may be:

  1. South Africa vs Wales
  2. NZ vs Ireland
  3. France vs Argentina
  4. Australia vs Scotland

Possible semis are:

  1. South Africa vs NZ
  2. France vs Australia

Not even going to predict the final!

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Would you hire someone with a degree in fat studies?

October 2nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The course, Critical Understandings of Fatness and Health, is being offered as a 300 level distance learning course within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University, and contributes to the college’s larger focus on exploring citizenship in the 21st century. …

I agreed to offer the Fat Studies course after a group of Bachelor of Health Science students approached me last year.

They came and expressed an interest in learning more about Fat Studies; they wanted to learn about anti-fat attitudes and how they impact on the health and well-being of fat people, and how anti-fat attitudes result in barriers to fat people receiving healthcare.

This class isn’t about promoting a certain body size, or glorifying a certain lifestyle or health habits.

However, I would suggest that what currently happens in our culture is that only one kind of body and only one kind of lifestyle is acceptable.  

There is a difference between saying only one body type is acceptable (which of course it is not) and saying that all lifestyle choices are acceptable, even if they lead to extremely negative health outcomes.

It also examines the resulting anti-fat attitudes and structural oppression experienced by fat individuals. Fat people face discrimination in most settings in our world, including education, employment, housing, relationships, and in accessing healthcare.

Once the important issue of people discriminating on body size in relationships, I hope they will tackle the equally important issue of relationship discrimination against people who are folically challenged. It is unfair that George Clooney has such great hair.

As a discipline, Fat Studies is similar to Women’s Studies, Māori Studies, Queer Studies and Disability Studies.


Yes, indeed it is.

One way the Government could fulfil their commitment to fat citizens is by updating employment and discrimination laws to include physical size alongside race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and religion. Maybe that’s part of the plan?

You have basically no choice as to your race, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

But with body size, you do. It is not 100% choice, as genetics do play a role and as Cartman says he is just big boned. But the impact of genetics is relatively minor compared to the impact of personal choices about what you eat and how much you exercise. The latest research I have seen is that genetics account for under 5% of obesity, and you can even counter that by avoiding certain types of food your genes are less efficient at dealing with such as saturated fat.

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Why is Wanoa not in jail or a mental health facility?

October 2nd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Video footage has emerged of the takeover of an Auckland office by a group of activists, in an apparent land claim.

On Monday a group of men stormed the office of the owners of Auckland’s City Works Depot, dragging staff out and barricading themselves inside.

The footage was uploaded to activist John Wanoa’s You Tube channel and shows force being used on the staff being pushed out.

In the video a group of men, wearing shirts saying federal marshal, storm the building.

They tell employees of Tournament Group: “You gotta move…assisted or non-assisted, it’s up to you guys”.

A staff member who wouldn’t move is violently handled by the men as he says “leave me alone” and is dragged from his chair.

Wanoa said he was exercising his right as a “surrogate king” and had hired “UN contracted marshals” to help with the eviction.

He said he acted legally, informing  Auckland police he was going to occupy the premises and the police respected him as a sheriff.

Wanoa is obviously some sort of loon, but he is a loon that uses violence. He should be held accountable for that.

A police spokeswoman said investigations were on-going.

“Police are continuing their investigations into this incident and are following several positive lines of inquiry in relation to identifying and locating those involved,” she said.

Oh for God’s sake, just arrest him. He’s provided the evidence himself. Stop pussyfooting around.

He said he was a private investigator and believed he was the “New World Order”.

“I am like Graham McCready, the guy who took down John Banks, but better.”

When asked about the violence used to evict staff he responded that they brought it on themselves.

“They should have gone when we told them to. When someone points a gun at your head you do what they say. They caused all the commotion.”

He sounds like a danger to the community. Throw him in prison and he can be King of the New World Order there.


Dom Post editorial supports free speech

October 1st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Two kinds of liberal politics collided at Victoria University this week, when holidaying Israeli soldiers arrived to speak about their country’s 2014 invasion of Gaza.

That war was disproportionate in every sense, from Israel’s vastly superior military power to the Palestinians’ far larger death toll (2251 Gazans died). It was also miserably familiar – one more act to prolong the hatred and bloodshed in a region already drenched in both.

On the face of it, then, the call by a group of academics and student activists to stop the event had a certain logic. Why should proponents of the war be allowed to talk while many of its victims are dead? And what might they offer that, say, a United Nations report in June, which found suggestions of war crimes on both sides, does not?

Call that one kind of liberalism, one that believes people can be disqualified from even offering their perspective, at least in an official setting, because their actions are so objectionable.

The problem is it’s completely wrong. The better, simpler liberalism is the one that insists on allowing people to say their bit, even when it offends.

This is Voltaire’s famous credo – “defending to the death your right to say it” and all that. It’s fundamental to a democracy, which relies on ordinary people making their own minds up. And it’s supposed to be an idea that animates a university, a place where every theory ought to be able to be debated freely.


So Victoria’s English lecturer Dougal McNeill may be right to castigate Israel for the Gazan war, or to call the soldiers’ speeches “apologetics for military violence”, but he is entirely wrong to think either means the soldiers should be barred from talking.

The irony is he uses his free speech to try and prevent the free speech of others. Even worse he tried to prevent students from hearing that speech.

The point is not that activists are wrong. It is that they are so convinced they are right that they are prepared to shout down anyone who disagrees. This is a grim, insidious way of thinking.

They believe their right not to be offended outweighs other’s rights to make speech or receive it.

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Projected ethnic populations

October 1st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff has interesting data from Stats NZ on the projected 2038 population, when the Asian population will overtake the Maori population. Here’s a few stats on the 2038 projections:

Highest European Population

  1. South Wairarapa 97%
  2. Waimakariri 94%
  3. Grey 93%
  4. Central Otago 92%
  5. Stratford 92%

Highest Maori Population

  1. Wairoa 76%
  2. Kawerau 75%
  3. Opotiki 68%
  4. Gisbrine 61%
  5. Far North 55%

Highest Asian Population

  1. Puketapapa 58%
  2. Whau 53%
  3. Te Iriangi 51%
  4. Otara-Papatoetoe 48%
  5. Kaipatiki 46%

Highest Pacific Population

  1. Mangere-Otahuhu 66%
  2. Manurewa 63%
  3. Otara-Papatoetoe 47%
  4. Porirua 30%
  5. Maungakiekie-Tamaki 25%

Lowest European Population

  1. Otara-Papatoetoe 7%
  2. Mangere-Otahuhu 11%
  3. Manurewa 17%
  4. Puketapapa 21%
  5. Whau 31%

Why turn down a free lecturer?

September 30th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A much-loved Victoria University lecturer is bowing out – though not without a last ditch effort to stay.

History, philosophy, political science and international relations associate professor Dr Jay Shaw will teach his last class in November, after retiring from full-time employment in 2011.

However, Shaw, who had been on fixed-term teaching contracts for the past four years, said he was forced into retirement and did not want to leave.

The 74-year-old even offered to teach the courses for free.

“I was told they couldn’t renew my contract and I had to leave at the end of the year. I told them I was willing to teach without any pay, but I got a negative reply.”

Universities often say they are short of money. So why turn down the offer of a free lecturer?


Building consents up again

September 30th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Another increase in building consents, reported by Stats NZ. This is good. The annual totals for August years are:

  • 2011 – 13,516
  • 2012 – 15,726
  • 2013 – 19,433
  • 2014 – 24,016
  • 2015 – 25,928

So almost a doubling since 2011.



NZ top for Budget transparency

September 30th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand has retained top marks on a global index of Budget transparency, but lags when it comes to enabling public participation. 

The Open Budget Survey ranks more than 100 countries on its transparency and accountability when it comes to Government finances, measuring across four “pillars of accountability”.

New Zealand retained the top position it’s held since 2012 in terms of public availability of Budget information, and scored highly when it came to audit oversight. 

Overall, it outranked Sweden, South Africa, Norway and the United States in the top five. 

Great to be top.

The auditors of the index criticised New Zealand for its “citizens budget”, and limited reporting of Government tax expenditures. 

“Parliamentary oversight is assessed as ‘limited’ during for Budget planning and ‘weak’ for budget implementation, with a composite score for legislative oversight of just 45 out of 100.

“Formal mechanisms for public engagement across stages of the Budget cycle are also assessed as “limited”, scoring 65 out of 100, with particular concern about lack of opportunities for public participation in processes involving Parliament and the Office of Auditor General,” the index report said.

In particular, the Government made extensive Budget information available, but it was not necessarily “user friendly”. 

Fair criticism. We may be top, but always more can be done.


Oh dear Tariana

September 30th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Dame Tariana Turia will support Chris Brown’s visa application.

The former leader of the Maori Party will write a letter of recommendation to go alongside Brown’s long-awaited application for a special direction visa.

The singer, booked to play Vector Arena in December, is technically barred from entering New Zealand, as he has been banned from other countries.

He will need to apply for a special direction in order to enter the country. That application is still to be received.

Dame Tariana, who has worked to reduce domestic violence for decades, believed Brown would speak on his past while in New Zealand , prompting his young fans to think seriously about domestic violence.

Or they may see that you escape consequences for domestic violence, if you are famous.

I’m with Judith Collins – NZ has enough wife beaters already, and doesn’t need any more.

Tainui representative Tukoroirangi Morgan told the NZHerald that the Maori King’s representatives would consider hosting the singer.

But representatives of the King claim told Radio NZ they do not support the invitation.

Maori King Tuheitia Paki is ill at the moment, so Morgan said the King’s son Whatumoana Paki would stand in for Brown’s royal welcome.

“If he’s able to get access into the country we would be seriously interested in hosting him,” he told the NZHerald.

Brown’s conviction of domestic violence against former partner, singer Rihanna, has been atoned for according to Morgan.

“I understand he has been through a major reformation process. He has a child. He has paid for his sins,” Morgan said.

So atoning for domestic violence is having a child?

Promoter spokesperson Jevan Goulter said he had seriously researched Brown and believed him to be truly remorseful. 

“We can buy his music online, we can watch him on TV, we can hear him on the radio – why can’t we go down to Vector Arena and watch him perform?”

Because one of them requires him to enter New Zealand, and violent criminals are not allowed to without permission.

To recap Brown:

  • Assaulted Rihanna in 2009 with a barrage of punches to her face, bit her ear and strangled her
  • Became violent again in 2011 throwing an object at a window because he got asked in an interview about the assault
  • Involved in a brawl in 2012
  • Used drugs while on community service, breaking its terms
  • Ignore the restraining order not to go to the same functions as Rhianna
  • Got a neck tattoo that looks like the face of a battered woman
  • Punched someone in 2013 over a parking space, and threatened to shoot him
  • Arrested in 2013 for felony assault, sentenced to rehab, violated rules there and then prison

So Brown is not someone who made a mistake once. He has a history of violence, and a history of not complying with punishments for those assaults. I see no remorse or learning, and he should not be allowed in.

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Getting kids into tech

September 30th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It began with a little girl and a dining table full of junk.

The little girl’s family might have been poor, but the assortment of bits and pieces her father would bring home and spread about the kitchen unlocked a special world few kids ever got to see.

Her father, frantically trying to teach himself aircraft avionics for a better job in the military, had surrounded himself with soldering irons, engineering textbooks and items like a ZX Spectrum computer that he hardly knew how to use.

The little girl began tinkering with the junk herself and trying to solder pieces of it together, before too many burns on her fingers forced dad to give her a tutorial.

Soon, the pair were buying broken toasters, televisions and washing machines to fix up – anything bought new was a waste of money.

“Just taking them apart and understanding how electricity was flowing through and the information was transferring … yeah man, that’s awesome,” says Dr Michelle Dickinson, today one of our country’s most inspirational and best-known scientists.

“It was a secret world that only me and my dad knew existed.”

A very cool backstory.

Dr Dickinson spent today working with kids in Rotorua, ahead of the charity’s official launch in Auckland on Wednesday.

Beyond getting kids hooked on science and tech generally, it will have the strategic targets of reaching those pupils between the ages of eight and 11 – the period that matters most when plotting future career courses – and especially girls and Maori and Pasifika children.

This reflects the present shortage of women and Maori and Pasifika people in STEM (science, engineering, maths or technology), which itself as a tertiary level subject has long taken a back-seat to social science and humanities.

The urgent case for more of these tech-savvy people in our country is straight-forward: we’re going to need them in the future to tackle and solve our biggest problems, whatever they might be.

And our next top engineers and technologists don’t have to be only those earning top grades in Year 7 or 8 at the moment.

“There are four learning styles, and one of them is kinesthetic – that’s more or less hands-on; you learn by building, breaking, doing – and those aren’t the kids who necessarily do very well academically at school,” Dr Dickinson said.

“It’s implied that they’re failures, but actually, they are successful in a different way – and our charity wants to make sure that kids know that they’re successful, even if their exam grades say they’re not.”

Over the next three years, Dr Dickinson and her team aim to host a different workshop in a new place every few weeks.

“The idea is that we come to you – but our bigger motive is actually not just to tech the kids, but educate the teachers and empower them to have confidence in teaching something that can be quite daunting,” she said.

“We want to make sure they are able to embrace the technology, and we can help build their competence on how to teach with it.”

For educators, there’s a specially designed open-source curriculum to help them; but for kids, this isn’t boring stuff.

Just think of being able to programme your own robot and race it against your classmates’ bots, or coding your very own computer game and playing it within an hour.

Sounds like a great initiative.

Dr Dickinson’s ways to get your kids hooked on tech

1) Sign up for hour of code, a free one hour online lesson in coding for all ages. Visit:
2) Design your next invention using tinkercad. Visit then print it using your local 3D printer at
3) Get your kids to code their own computer game using a simple drop and drag sequence at Scratch. Visit
4) Open up old electronics and let your kids discover circuit boards and microchips.
5) Run a fridge magnet in the same direction along a screwdriver a few times to magnetise it. Show it works by trying to pick up a screw before and after the magnetisation.

Looks fun.


Dom Post on Pandas

September 29th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Wellington would love to have pandas in its zoo, of course. Pandas have a unique appeal to human beings: nature made them look like a cross between a clown and a teddy bear. So arguments about the economics  and politics of pandas tend to get trumped by an overwhelming cuteness factor.

So true.

Prime Minister John Key is keen to stoke the panda cause, for two reasons. He wants to cuddle up even closer to China, our economic patron. And he knows that politicians who come bearing pandas can’t lose.

So it was that Andrew Little, the hapless Labour leader and an anti-panda politician, got it wrong again in Parliament this week.

Anything National talks about, and Little is against it. Raise benefits for the first time in 43 years, and Little condemns the Budget!

Finally, panda politics are murky. The panda circus is run by China, a ruthless police state, which gives its pandas to political and economic  favourites. This means John Key might get one.

The question then is: How to divide the cost of pandas? The Government says it would help, and so it should. After all, this is a geopolitical project of John Key’s, so his administration should contribute most of the money.

Wellington would also benefit, of course, so it would have to put in money too, but there are strict limits here. Wellingtonians are as prone to panda-madness as anyone, but Wellington ratepayers have notoriously cold hearts.

Apart from vague geopolitical benefits, I don’t see benefits to taxpayers. Any taxpayer contribution should be minimal. Pandas will not get any more tourists to NZ. They will get many more people coming to Wellington, so hence there is a case for ratepayer funding. However a price tag anywhere near $10 million is just way out of the ballpark.

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The Atlantic on the haka

September 29th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Atlantic reports:

As Brazil or Italy is to soccer, New Zealand is to rugby. And aside from their superior performance on the pitch, the All Blacks—as the country’s national team is known—are perhaps most famous for a special pre-game ritual.

Before each match, the All Blacks, who are set to play Namibia on September 24 in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, perform “the haka”—a traditional, full-body dance and accompanying chant derived from Māori culture. (The Māori are New Zealand’s indigenous people.) …

As the World Cup unfolds in England, the haka remains an incredible sight to behold. And one that, regardless of one’s national affiliations, is bound to hit you with a rush of adrenaline. The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor describes it as a“perfect act of nationalism.”

I would venture a step further: The All Blacks’ rendition of the haka is indeed a superb act of nationalism, but also a heartening example of postcolonial cohesion. (Rugby has a knack for this.) As Tharoor puts it, “the haka, in its growling intensity, captures … the solidarity of warriors—both of Māori and non-Māori descent—fighting for a common future.”

It’s also an instance of a sports team paying homage to an indigenous culture without simply appropriating it. In this way, the All Blacks stand in stark contrast to controversial U.S. franchises such as the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Redskins, and, sadly, my hometown Chicago Blackhawks—all of which incorporate imagery and nomenclature that offends many Native Americans.

It’s a good point about paying homage without it just being appropriation.

The All Blacks’ presentation of the haka is inclusive and participatory. It is, from most reports, authentically performed and assiduously studied by Māori and non-Māori players alike. And this signals, more broadly, New Zealand’s relative success at integrating colonial and indigenous societies.

Far from perfect, but better than most they conclude:

But, on balance, New Zealand’s relationship with the Māori is, relatively speaking, something to be emulated. The Māori were accorded civil rights comparably earlier than most colonized peoples around the world. They were granted rights as full British subjects and had their property rights recognized with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. This was more than 100 years before the Aboriginal people of Australia were offered full citizenship, and more than 80 years before the Indian Citizenship Act in the United States.

They also note:

Politically, the Māori have also been quite successful—again, relatively speaking. They were guaranteed four seats in New Zealand’s parliament starting in 1867, which has since grown to seven. As of the 2014 election, representation far surpasses the seven-seat minimum. There are a total of 25 sitting MPs of Māori descent, constituting 21% of the legislature.

When it comes to the political inclusion of indigenous peoples, the U.S., Canada, and Australia could learn a thing or two from their Kiwi peers. When it comes to paying homage to indigenous cultures in meaningful, respectful ways, the MLB, NFL, and the NHL should also all take note. Because New Zealand and its All Blacks have figured it out.

What I like is how several Maori words have become common words that almost all New Zealanders use – whānau for example.


The bookbinder

September 28th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Bookbinder is storytelling at its finest.

What first strikes you when you enter Circa 2, is how the theatre has been transformed. You can’t even see the stage when you enter. Instead you go down a corridor of books until you finally emerge onto the intimate set. The bookbinder’s office is in one corner of the theatre and the seating has been arranged at a right angle on two sides of it.

Ralph McCubbin Howell awakens from his desk, and proceeds to tell the story of the former apprentice. He plays the bookbinder, the apprentice, the  old woman, the young woman and even the Haast Eagle. Yes – a Haast Eagle.

Over 55 minutes he pulls you into a story, and into the story within the story. It is a story with purpose, and sometimes without purpose. After all sometimes you just can’t make an omelette!

Howell is a master of story-telling (and play writing), and gets both his vocal intonations and facial expressions just right. He dominates the stage. You get sucked in, wanting to know what happens next, and how the story ends. A godo play has to be emotionally engaging, and this succeeds.

He is backed up by an incredibly effective use of props. Various lamps are used to great effect, and some of the books themselves display their stories in three dimensions. Great creativity.

Howell works with director Hannah Smith (they are Trick of the Light), and the creativity that has gone into the play reflects their joint contribution. The props, the lighting, the sound and the story all blend together on the intimate stage.

You can see why it won best theatre at last year’s NZ Fringe Festival and also an award at the Sydney Fringe Festival.

It’s on until Saturday 10 October 2015 at Circa, both in the evening and also at 11 am.

Rating: ****1/2

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An appeal against manifestly unjust

September 28th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two murderers face becoming New Zealand’s first criminals jailed for the rest of their lives after an historic appeal of the three strikes law.

The lawyers of Shane Pierre Harrison and Justin Vance Turner had successfully argued such a tough sentence was unfair in the men’s cases, even though criminals with first strike convictions who later committed murders could be jailed for life without parole.

However, the Crown has appealed their sentences, claiming the High Court judges were wrong to fail to jail the two killers for life without parole. 

So the High Court decided that life without parole would be manifestly unjust. This shows that the law doesn’t totally eliminate judicial discretion – which was the intent. But it is good to have the Court of Appeal decide if the High Court got it right.

Harrison jointly murdered Alonsio (Sio) Matalasi during a gang confrontation in Petone, Lower Hutt, in August 2013. Turnerwho bashed and stomped to death a fellow homeless man, Maqbool Hussain, in Auckland in March 2014.

Harrison’s first strike offence was for pinching a policewoman’s bottom and brushing his hand across her groin and thighs in 2011.

At his October 2014 sentencing for murder, Justice Jill Malyon said Harrison’s indecent assault conviction was “relatively minor” and while it could trigger life imprisonment without parole, that was “an entirely disproportionate response”.

“It would be manifestly unjust and is the kind of unfair case that Parliament has recognised can arise in providing the judge with the discretion,” she said in the High Court in Wellington.

She sentenced him to life in jail with a 13-year minimum non-parole period.

But Harrison has killed before. He also killed in 1989. That was of course before three strikes, so can’t be used for a strike. But he qualified for LWOP on the basis of the two convictions under three strikes, and I would have thought his earlier conviction could be a factor in whether LWOP is manifestly unjust.

The other case is of Justin Turner. He bashed and stamped to death a homeless man in 2014 and his first strike was:

Turner’s first strike conviction was for wounding with intent after hitting a female acquaintance in the head several times in 2011, causing traumatic brain injuries. She required life support when admitted to Auckland Hospital and needed ongoing, serious rehabilitative treatment. 


When sentencing Turner in February, Justice Mark Woolford said the 29-year-old could spend as long as 59 years behind bars before he died, which Turner’s lawyer argued was “disproportionately severe”.

I’m not sure it is.

The Harrison case is more arguable as his first strike was relatively minor. But Turner almost killed with his first strike. He did kill with his second strike. The three strikes law is about protection of the community and certainty of outcome to deter crime.

It will be very interesting to see how the Court of Appeal rules.


Wales at its finest

September 27th, 2015 at 11:42 am by David Farrar

Incredible. Wales beat England 28 to 25. This has been such an unpredictable World Cup.

If England lose to Australia the host nation may not even make the semi-final!

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The Richie ad

September 25th, 2015 at 12:27 pm by David Farrar

Has been viewed 3.7 million times so far on You Tube. Great ad.


58 to 14

September 25th, 2015 at 11:05 am by David Farrar

Not a great score or great display from the top ranked team against the bottom ranked team.

I can only hope they were being extra cautious and not wanting to get any injuries.

But still Namibia managed to score a try, which really should not have happened.

The first two All Black games have been average and the next two games against Georgia and Tonga won’t test the team much before the quarter final.

That will be against the runner up of Pool D. Probably Ireland. And again that may not test up too much. We have never lost to them in 110 years of matches

Then if we get past that a semi vs the winner of Pool B winner and Pool A runner up. The runner up of Pool A will be England or Australia, and I’d say our likely SF competition.  Up until then we will have played no top tier teams while England or Australia will have both played each other, and probably also South Africa.

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The most complained about companies

September 25th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Spark has been identified as New Zealand’s most complained about company in a report released by the Commerce Commission today.

The Consumer Issues 2015 report notes the telecommunications company received 128 complaints under the Fair Trading Act last year.

This was closely followed by Vodafone, which received 112 complaints in 2014 and Auckland Academy of Learning, which received 106 complaints.

The first two are are two largest telcos who each have over a million customers. So no surprise they had more complaints than most companies.

But the Auckland Academy of Learning is a very small company. To get 106 complaints, they must be doing something very bad. And indeed they are, as this story shows.

24 most complained about companies:

• Spark NZ Trading Limited – 128
• Vodafone NZ Limited – 112
Auckland Academy of Learning Limited – 106
• ANZ National Bank Limited T/A The National Bank and ANZ – 99
• Sellers on Trade Me – 78
New Zealand Business Funding Centre – 50
• Progressive Enterprises Ltd (Countdown) – 45
• Air New Zealand Limited – 43
• GrabOne Limited – 39
• Noel Leeming Group Limited (Noel Leeming) – 35
Brand Developers Limited (TV Shop) – 35
• Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd (New World/PAK’nSAVE/Four Square) – 34
• ASB Bank Limited – 33
• Parking Enforcement Services – 31
• DSE (NZ) Limited (Dick Smith Electronics) – 30
• DB Breweries Limited – 29
• Callplus Services Limited (Slingshot Communications) – 27
Dead Sea Skincare – 27
• The Warehouse Group Limited (The Warehouse) – 26
NZ Sale Limited – 26
• KLiB Technologies Group Limited (24/7 Hosting and Web Design) – 25
• Two Degrees Mobile Limited (2degrees) – 24
PB Technologies Limited – 24
• IPL Laser Solutions Limited – 23

I’ve bolded the ones who are not major retailers or the like, suggesting there are real issues with them.


Why did it take so long?

September 24th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A driver with more than 100 traffic violations and a dozen criminal convictions has had his taxi licence revoked.

Why so long? Shouldn’t it be revoked after say one conviction and/or three or four traffic violations?

Raj Naresh, a 40-year driving veteran, has been stripped of his passenger licence by the NZ Transport Agency as he is no longer considered “a fit and proper person to be a taxi driver”.

Since starting as a taxi driver in 1975, Naresh has racked up 110 traffic-related offences, 12 criminal convictions, a further three criminal offences where he was discharged without conviction, 17 regulatory offences, 50 documented “complaints about his activity and behaviour as a taxi driver”, and six transport licensing sanctions.



A great teacher

September 24th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Very cool to read about Wellington teacher Richard Smith:

A Wellington school teacher is “gobsmacked” after being honoured as New Zealand’s most inspiring educator.

Wadestown School teacher Richard Smith has beaten out thousands of other teachers to claim the accolade.

And what does he do?

The dedicated teacher said he spent time with individual children who needed extra support and made opportunities for one-on-one conversations with them.

Pupils needed to have a voice and to take a risk with their learning, he said.

A humble Smith said his colleagues also deserved recognition, and the support parents gave the school also helped makes a huge difference.

Mum Maria Edwards put Smith’s name forward for the Warehouse Stationery initiative. 

“Richard has the attitude that any child can do anything if they are given encouragement and the opportunities to succeed,” she said.

“He is patient, takes the time to be fair, and is very organised while always maintaining a great sense of humour. His policy is one of inclusiveness, no matter what.”

He was extremely kind and caring, but also discreet when giving his sandwiches to any child who had no lunch, she said.

“He has a great love of Maori culture and taught himself to speak fluent Maori. For my daughter, and her classmates, Richard will be the unforgettable teacher, the one who never gave up on any of them. He inspires and makes a difference in every child’s life.”

Most of us can recall one or two teachers like that.

Smith’s pupils were full of praise for their top teacher.

Mia Williams, 11, said he went out of his way to give all the students the support they needed.

“Mr Smith is one of the coolest teachers I have ever had.”

Julie Deem, 12, said her teacher was inspiring and when she asked him questions he really went out of his way to make things clear.

“He even comes in early some mornings to help people who aren’t so good at maths.” 

Wadestown principal Sally Barrett said she was the proudest principal in New Zealand.

“Richard is a talented teacher who installs in children a love of life-long learning,” she said.

“That’s a special gift a teacher can give to their students and means they will remember him for years to come.”

Can we clone him?

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Politik says NZME job losses may hit 150

September 24th, 2015 at 6:50 am by David Farrar

Politik reports:

The NZME media group which includes Newstalk ZB and the NZ Herald is thought to be looking for over 100 redundancies as it restructures.

It has so far publicly refused to confirm any numbers but details of the plan leaked to POLITIK indicate that the company may be looking to terminate at least 150 staff.

That would put a huge hole in New Zealand’s largest media company and has the potential to impact on its highly regarded journalism.

The numbers being talked about would make this the biggest media mass redundancy New Zealand has seen.

Tough times for those affected.

POLITIK understands staff will not have specific desks but instead will be required to “hot desk”.

One journalist who asked where they could keep files was told in future hard copy files would be located in the company library in Ellerslie and could be delivered to Victoria Street.

Hmmn journalists with no desks or files.


An e-mail audio device for driving

September 23rd, 2015 at 2:29 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Kiwi company has developed an app that allows drivers to listen to emails at the wheel. Beweb created the free Speaking Email app after director Mike Nelson got frustrated at being unable to safely read emails on his commute from Auckland’s North Shore to the city.

And though he admits drivers shouldn’t have any distractions, he said banning cellphones while driving wasn’t working. Rather than expecting drivers to ignore their phones, apps should be designed with a “safe-driving” mode.

Sounds like a great app. especially if it could do more than just read out e-mails but also do direct messages, maybe even tweets.

National manager of road policing, Superintendent Steve Greally, said anything that took a person’s attention away from the road was a safety risk.

“If someone is concentrating on an email, they are not likely to be giving their full attention to driving.”

True. So we should ban playing music in the car, listening to talkback radio or having passengers as they may talk to you.


Dotcom hearing to start Thursday

September 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Kim Dotcom’s extradition hearing will go ahead this week despite his protestations it should be delayed.

A hearing was held yesterday at Auckland District Court to determine the structure of proceedings over the next four weeks.

“The views of the parties are diametrically opposed,” Judge Nevin Dawson said in a judgment released yesterday afternoon.

The United States Government – represented by Crown Law – argued the extradition eligibility hearing should be heard first before multiple applications by the defendants for a stay of proceedings. …

Judge Dawson said the court had to balance the principles of the delivery of justice in a timely manner with the right of the parties to a fair hearing.

“This case has now been before this court for over three and a half years … It is now the 10th time this case has been set down for hearing,” Judge Dawson said.

The judge said the “interlocutory applications” by the defendants could be heard during the extradition hearing, rather than beforehand.

“The court would be better placed to rule on these applications having had the benefit of hearing the evidence of the eligibility hearing,” Judge Dawson said.

The US Government’s bid to extradite Dotcom will begin tomorrow.

This means that for the first time we will actually hear evidence in court from both sides on the substantive charges, rather than on related legal issues.  It will be interesting.


Pandas for Wellington is a fantasy

September 22nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Plans to bring giant pandas to Wellington are a “fantasy” and the bill should put a halt on the idea, a Wellington City councillor says.

Wellington City Council will investigate a business case to bring the endangered animals from China to Wellington Zoo, it was announced on Friday. An initial “guesstimate” put the cost at $10 million, but the upcoming work would determine the exact costs and infrastructure requirements, as well as projected visitor numbers.

But Wellington City Councillor Paul Eagle said it was “fantasy stuff” to believe the council had the funds necessary to make the idea a reality. He doubted the $10m figure, saying number-crunching on a 2011 panda plan put the capital cost at $28m.

“But the 2015, 2016, 2017 figures would be $50m to $100m … If these [pandas] are so huge, would we have to close down Newtown Park, demolish that and build a car park? What’s going to happen to all the city streets, have we factored in road widening, pulling out all the car parks?”

Eagle said, even with external financial support, the plan could cost ratepayers significantly. “We’re prepared to build palaces for pandas over the core services.”

While he thought it would be exciting to have such animals in the zoo, there was little point in even completing a business case. “I’d say we’re just wasting time.”

I agree. I like pandas but I also like affordable rates. Focus on core issues.