Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Robin Hood The Pantomime

December 1st, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I’d previously seen Circa put on Robin Hood pantomime, five years ago, so was interested to see if the 2015 version would be much the same, or quite different.

It was quite different. Of course the main characters are the same, but a very different plot and themes.

Gavin Rutherford starred again as Mother (Trelise) Hood, Robin’s affection starved mum. Simon Leary played Robin and Nick Dunbar was The Sheriff. I thought Dunbar was the stand out performer, who excelled as a pantomime baddie.

Acushla-Tara Sutton played Maid Marian, Jane Waddell was Hattie (friend of Mother Hood) and Lady Muck. Finishing off the cast was Jonathan Morgan as Rumble (Sheriff’s henchman) and Friar Tuck plus Andrew Patterson as Little Andrew, Abbott Tony and King Richard.

There were some parts of the pantomime that were very well done. It was a game of two halves, with the second half being must better and faster paced that the first half. A clever highlight was having King Richard being Richie McCaw. Very topical and witty.

There were lots of laughs, but slightly fewer laughs than jokes. I found the first half tried a little bit too hard to have a joke on everything political. Even the most dedicated political watcher will hardly recall what Gerry Brownlee said about Finland a couple of years ago. The art of a pantomime is to have it as a show kids can love, but with some good humour for the adults also. But the mix wasn’t quite right. The 75 minute first half didn’t have that well developed a plot, and could have done with more character development.

The second half redeemed the play. It was fun and fast moving and despite knowing the good guys would win, did have you wondering how things would unfold. Overall did enjoy the play, but would cut 15 minutes out of the first half if possible.

There were some clever aspects to the show. Having Andrew Little as Little Andrew worked well, especially as the Merry Men rob the rich to give to the poor. Also having Abbott Tony as Friar Tuck’s boss was a nice wordplay, and got some Australian accent into the show.

It is on at Circa until Saturday 9 January 2016.

Rating: *** 1/2

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Cairns not guilty

December 1st, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Chris Cairns has been moved to tears, speaking of his relief at being found not guilty after an eight-week London trial over match-fixing allegations.

The former Black Caps cricket captain was cleared of a perjury charge, and both he and his co-accused, Andrew Fitch-Holland, were found not guilty of perverting the course of justice.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court took 10 hours and 17 minutes of deliberation to reach their verdicts on Monday morning (local time).

This means the jury were not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he had lied in court about match fixing.

Modi immediately responded to Monday’s verdict.

“I am aware of the verdict at Southwark Crown Court. As you know, I am limited in what I can say as I am restricted by the injunction put in place following the 2012 libel trial,” he said.

 “I will consider how this affects my own civil claim against Mr Cairns in due course.”

Any civil claim would be on balance of probabilities.

Ultimately the evidence of Lou Vincent was found to be not trust worthy. The judge in his summing up basically said they can’t rely on what Vincent said.

I’m very pleased for Lance Cairns, one of my cricketing heroes, that he hasn’t seen his son found guilty.


NZ’s most powerful lawyers

November 30th, 2015 at 1:58 pm by David Farrar

Law Fuel has compiled a power list of the 50 most powerful lawyers in NZ.

I would have thought the Attorney-General would be on it, as he appoints pretty much every judge in NZ. But maybe it is reserved to practicing lawyers, so he is excluded – as Judges are.

Anyway the top 20 are:

  • No. 1.  Andrew Bridgman           Chief Executive, Ministry of Justice
  • No. 2.  Mark Berry                      Chief Executive, Commerce Commission
  • No. 3. Michael Heron QC                  Solicitor General
  • 4. Chris Moore                                President, NZ Law Society
  • 5. Alan Galbraith QC                      Barrister
  • 6. David Goddard QC                Barrister
  • 7. Jeremy Salmond                     Chief Solicitor, Treasury
  • 8. Robert Fisher QC                      Barrister, Arbitrator
  • 9. Kathryn Anderson                Legal Chief, Auckland City Council
  • 10. Brendan Horsley              Deputy Solicitor General
  • 11. Paul Davison QC                 Barrister
  • 12. David Williams QC              Arbitrator, Barrister
  • 13. Martin Smith              Chief Solicitor, IRD
  • 14. Mai Chen              Solicitor
  • 15. Rob Everett                 Financial Markets Authority
  • 16. Cathy Quinn               Manager Partner, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts
  • 17. Peter Watts QC          Academic, Barrister
  • 18. Kevin Jaffe                  Managing Partner, Simpson Grierson
  • 19. Stephen Franks         Solicitor, Blogger
  • 20. Brian Dickey             Crown Solicitor



2014/15 NZ Health Survey

November 30th, 2015 at 10:14 am by David Farrar

Lots of interesting data in the latest NZ Health Survey.

Some changes from 2007 to 2015:

  • Smoking rate down from 20.1% to 16.6%
  • 15 to 17 year old smoking rate down from 15.7% to 6.1%
  • Maori smoking rate down from 42.1% to 38.1%
  • Drinking (alcohol) rate down from 83.6% to 79.5%
  • 15 to 17 year old drinking rate down from 74.5% to 57.1%
  • Hazardous drinking rate down from 18.0% to 17.7% (but up from low of 14.9% in 2011)
  • 15 to 17 year old hazardous drinking rate down from 19.5% to 10.8%
  • Obesity rate up from 26.5% to 30.7%
  • 15 to 17 year old obesity rate up from 12.0% to 16.4%

So my conclusions are:

  • Smoking rate steadily dropping and teen smoking rate has plummeted which is good. However 5% target for NZ will not be met without a big drop in the Maori smoking rate.
  • A huge drop in the teen drinking rate, which shows how wrong those are claiming the drinking age needs to increase
  • A drop in the overall drinking rate but an increase in the hazardous drinking rate which means measures should target hazardous drinkers, not all drinkers
  • The obesity rate increase starts young. Even under 5s have a 10% obesity rate, which suggests to me parenting is a major factor. Also cultural factors play a big role – 8% of European children are obese, 7% of Asian children, 15% of Maori children and 30% of Pasifika children.
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Football corrupt, not just FIFA

November 29th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Transparency International have done a report on FIFA and national football associations. They find:

Between 2011 and 2014 FIFA distributed a minimum of US$2.05 million to each of its 209 member football associations (FAs). This included a one-off payment in 2014 of US$1.05 million following the success of the World Cup. During that same period FIFA also gave US$102 million to the six regional football Confederations. FIFA says the money is for football development. But other than a partial accounting on the FIFA web site, there is no clear way to track what the FAs did with all that money.

  • 81 per cent of FAs have no financial records publicly available
  • 21 per cent of FAs have no websites
  • 85 per cent of FAs publish no activity accounts of what they do

81% have no public accounts and 21% do not even have a website! Yet they get millions of dollars.

Only fourteen out of FIFA’s 209 football associations – Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden – publish the minimum amount of information necessary to let people know what they do, how they spend their money and what values they believe in.

Well done Football New Zealand.

42% of FIFA members publish no relevant information about their organisations.

They propose:

FIFA should mandate through a change in its statutes that all its members must make publicly available the following information as a pre-requisite for membership and financial assistance: audited financial accounts, an annual activities report, code of conduct/ethics3 and organisational statutes. This should supersede national legal requirements if they are less rigorous.

Seems a good idea to me. You want the money, you need to have some transparency.

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The 20 top paid public servants

November 29th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The SSC has released CEO salary data. The 20 CEOs who got paid the most last financial year (which may not be the same as their normal salary) were:

  1. Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation $830,000 to $839,999
  2. Accident Compensation Corporation $760,000 to $769,999
  3. University of Auckland $680,000 to $689,999
  4. Commissioner of Police $680,000 to $689,999
  5. New Zealand Transport Agency $660,000 to $669,9991
  6. State Services Commissioner $650,000 to $659,999
  7. Auckland DHB $640,000 to $649,999
  8. Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force $630,000 to $639,999
  9. Ministry of Education $620,000 to $629,999
  10. The Treasury $610,000 to $619,999
  11. Solicitor-General $600,000 to $609,999
  12. New Zealand Tourism Board (Tourism New Zealand) $590,000 to $599,999
  13. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment $580,000 to $589,999
  14. Ministry of Social Development $580,000 to $589,999
  15. Canterbury DHB $570,000 to $579,999
  16. Capital and Coast DHB $570,000 to $579,999
  17. Callaghan Innovation $570,000 to $579,999
  18. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise $570,000 to $579,999
  19. University of Otago $560,000 to $569,999
  20. Controller and Auditor-General $560,000 to $569,999

Don’t lie on immigration forms

November 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An immigrant family faces being kicked out of the country after their mother failed to include details of her disabled son on her residence application.

Kirsten Biltoft and her three boys immigrated from Denmark in 2011 after a divorce.

She was granted a business visa and her sons, including youngest Rosario, were given student visas.

In 2012 Biltoft applied for residency with Rosario but later withdrew him from her application after advice their applications would be denied because of his health.

Rosario, who is a 16-year-old with Down Syndrome and autism, has delayed development and functions at the level of a two-year-old.

So you knew you would be declined, filed a false application that omitted to mention him, and now complain to the media?

I have great empathy for the family, but if you decide to deliberately hide relevant information, then it is no surprise that you get into trouble.


Garner on Devoy

November 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

I’d almost forgotten about the ludicrous decision to appoint a squash player as the country’s race relations commissioner – till Susan Devoy dropped another clanger.

And what a howler it was,  throwing her (insignificant) weight behind Auckland Regional Migrants Services’ plan to ditch the word Christmas and refer instead to  “happy holidays” and “season’s greetings”.  

Apparently Devoy, the service’s patron, wants to save the majority of Kiwis (who are not Christian) from feeling excluded at this time of year. Good grief.

If someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah, I don’t feel excluded.

Also Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Now followers of Islam and Judaism do not revere him as the Son of God, but they do greatly respect him as a prophet of God. So there is no reason they should feel offended by someone saying Happy Christmas.

It’s time to ditch her role and the entire office she heads. I know my position will be unpopular among the hand-wringers and do-gooders but let me explain.

We celebrate Christmas in New Zealand. It’s part of who we are, whether we are Christian or not. 

It’s a time for family, gifts, talking, laughing, over-eating, drinking, celebrating the end of the year and, if you so desire, church. No-one needs to worry about being excluded from the joys of the season. 

At the last census 42 per cent of Kiwis identified as non-Christian. But I have never felt excluded by the word “Christmas”. 

Indeed if atheists can live with Christmas, everyone can!

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Newspaper sales plummeting

November 28th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Richard Harman writes at Politik:

The number of copies of New Zealand daily newspapers sold over the past five years has plunged by 23%.

Meanwhile Kiwiblog readership is up 18% from five years ago.

According to the media industry website, “StopPress”, Stuff averaged 1,733,000 visitors per months to its site while the NZHerald received 1,315,000 visits.

Averaged out that equates to about 80,000 a weekday on Stuff and 61,000 a weekday on the NZHerald.

Kiwiblog has around 12,000 a weekday. Not bad with no staff, just me and some helpers.

WhaleOil has numbers not far off the NZ Herald, and with again no paid staff.


Wellington Airport Assumptions

November 27th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Have been reading the business case for the proposed Wellington runway extension.

As a frequent traveler I’d love to be able to fly from Wellington to North America, Asia etc.

However I’m sceptical that extending the runway will lead to a huge increase in international connections.

The business case in section 3.4 assumes the following additional flights:

  • South-East Asia 4/week
  • USA 3/week
  • China 4/week
  • 3rd Asian 4/week
  • 4th Asian 3/week

Now it is very difficult to know the future. But for me a conservative approach is to look at comparable other airports.

Christchurch Airport services a larger population base than Wellington. It also is a hub for the entire South Island. And its runway is over three kms long – much longer than even an extended Wellington.

I’ve just checked their weekly flight schedule. The only additional flights they have beyond Australia and the Pacific (which Wellington already does) is a daily to and from Singapore.

So as much as I’d like to think a longer runway to Wellington will get us flights to four different Asian cities and to the US, I ask why would we get these, when Christchurch doesn’t?

In terms of investing in a runway extension, I think there is obviously a level of investment which would be beneficial to the airport owners. But this appears to be far less than the estimated $300 million cost.

I also accept there is a case for some ratepayer investment, on the basis that there is an economic gain to Wellington. The level is another thing.

But the case for taxpayer investment I remain sceptical of.  You need to be convinced that this extension will result in significantly more people flying to New Zealand.

UPDATE: Former Reverve Bank economist Michael Reddell blogs on this also. He notes:

One of the puzzling – or perhaps not so puzzling –  aspects of the report is the complete absence of any analysis of Christchurch airport’s experience with long haul flights.

The traffic forecasts, prepared by InterVISTAS, involve a central scenario in which in thirty years time there would be 56 long haul departures a week from Wellington (eight per day on average).   This is defended with the observation that “Wellington in 30 years time. (FY 2045) will have less than half the number of average weekly frequencies on long haul services as Auckland has now.”  And this was supposed to reassure me?  In addition to having almost four times the population of slowly-growing Wellington (and a larger hinterland), Auckland is inevitably a more natural gateway to New Zealand than Wellington is.  The authors go on to defend their assumptions with the observation that Adelaide has 44 weekly long haul departures (their forecast for Wellington in 2035).  But Adelaide is a city of 1.3 million people.

And still no mention of Christchurch.  Christchurch has about the same population as Wellington.  And if Auckland is one natural gateway to New Zealand, Christchurch is the other, given the much greater tourist appeal of the South Island (and the impossibility of long haul flights into Queenstown).  I couldn’t find an easy reference to how many direct long haul flights there are out of Christchurch at present, but there seem to five weekly flights to Singapore.  A new service to Guangzhou is also starting this month, so perhaps that is another five flights a week.  Other wide-bodied aircraft use Christchurch airport, but to get beyond Australia you still have to stop in Australia.

And it is not as if long haul international flights from Christchurch are relentlessly increasing.  I have distant memories of flying direct into Christchurch from Los Angeles, but that was 10 years ago, and the service is long gone.  AirAsia’s direct flights from Malaysia to Christchurch didn’t last long either.

Surely it is such an obvious comparator that the Christchurch experience really should have been addressed directly? 

I agree. Now there may be good reasons why a longer runway in Wellington may mean we’d get far more flights than Christchurch. Their airport might be run rather badly, and Wellington is not. But to convince sceptics, one really needs to do the direct comparison with Christchurch.

Michael makes many other useful points also – read his post in full if you have the time.


A right of reply from Simon Spacey

November 27th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged some months ago on the lawsuit by Simon Spacey against Waikato University regards allegations of cyber-bullying.

Dr Spacey has blogged on his perspective at Linked In, which I’m happy to link to as a right of reply.


A huge increase in female top public servants

November 27th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The SSC announced:

The number of women in senior leadership roles in the State sector has grown from 16% to 44.2% since 2008, and 38% of current or acting Chief Executives in the Public Service are women – the highest proportion ever

And all without quotas.

the total spend on employing Public Service chief executives has remained similar since 2008/2009 according to two State sector workforce reports released by the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie today.



Fonterra board should take heed

November 26th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

A proposal to slash the size of the Fonterra board from 13 to nine came in for hot debate by shareholders at the co-operative’s annual meeting yesterday in the small Waikato town of Waitoa.

Former directors Colin Armer and Greg Gent put forward the suggestion for a smaller board in order to make a ”fitter, leaner, more agile Fonterra”, saying the move would improve board efficiency and decision-making. The pair said boards with double-digit numbers were rare and having six elected board members and three appointed would ensure there were ”no passengers on board”.

The resolution received 54% support from postal and electronic voting and a resounding applause from shareholders at the meeting but to succeed, it needs to achieve 75% support from voting shareholders along with 50% support from shareholder councillors.

The proposal may not have met the constitutional threshold, but the fact a majority of farmers backed it should not be ignored by the board.

There is much research that shows the best size for a board is from five to nine members. Fewer than five means you may not get a strong enough exchange of views. More than nine and it gets fragmented, and the risk is a sub-set of the board start making the real decisions.

The resolution was opposed by the board and Shareholders’ Council, which both said a governance review already under way was a better option. Shareholders have been told the review means an information booklet is sent to them early next year, farmer consultations in February, and a May-June vote at a special meeting.

A smaller board won’t life the international price of dairy. But it is worth doing.


Herald seems to blame security services for terror

November 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Governments will also be aware that each time public fears are heightened, the political climate becomes more difficult for some immigrant communities. In Australia, three-quarters of the population believes a large-scale terrorist attack is likely within the country and a quarter believe one is imminent, according to a poll at the weekend.

Australia has had two terrorist attacks in recent months, and several more attempted. So it is quite rational to believe more are likely.

New Zealand is not immune to these fears and tensions, or indeed the threat that causes them. But so far, our Government has not seen fit to raise the level of alarm. The Prime Minister says one or two of about 40 people under watch are under fulltime surveillance. No country should have cause for terror if its security services are doing their job.

I profoundly disagree with that sentence. It is blaming the security services of terrorist attacks succeed.

Think if one wrote

No country should have cause for fear of crime if its Police are doing their job

Just as the Police can not stop crime in advance, security services can not stop all terrorist attacks. It is impossible. Hopefully they stop most. But if one or more people are determined to kill unarmed members of the public, they will often succeed.

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That’s a high level of ignorance

November 25th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Television presenter Miriama Kamo and her husband Michael Dreaver have admitted carrying out illegal work on their Waiheke home. 

Kamo and Dreaver entered guilty pleas at the Auckland District Court, in relation to four charges jointly laid under the Building Act. 

Charge sheets showed the pair had made adaptations to the property including installing a pot belly stove, a “yurt”, a second storey sleeping area, a verandah, and turning a shed into a reading room.

None of the renovations had building consent and the offences dated back to 2009, with the most recent renovation carried out last year. 

Kamo and Dreaver have spoken to women’s magazines about their renovation plans for the five hectare property, boasting about installing two Mongolian yurts -huts- on the land.

The pair were married at the Orapiu Rd home earlier this year, and on Tuesday Kamo admitted the pair had been so distracted by their wedding plans that they hadn’t paid attention to the lesgislative requirements of their DIY work. 

“I hope that proves our ignorance rather than our intent. If we have intended to break the law, we wouldn’t have talked about it in magazines,” she said. 

If the changes were just putting in a pot belly stove, I can imagine you might not twig you need consent. But how can you not know that adding on an extra storey to your house would need consent?

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Police censorship

November 25th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jarrod Gilbert writes in the Herald:

Sitting in front of me is a 20-page document. It’s my police file. It doesn’t say much, because 17 of those pages are completely blacked out.

I requested my file because I’ve been deemed by the police to be unfit to conduct research – I’ve been banned from accessing basic and uncontroversial police data. As an academic who studies crime, this is rather crippling. It’s also a staggering abuse of power.

The police have deemed me unfit because of my “association with gangs”. This association won’t surprise many people: I did New Zealand’s largest ever study of gangs. It was long, exhausting and sometimes dangerous work, but it was worth it. The research culminated in an award-winning book, and academic publications all around the world.

To get my results I used – in part – an ethnographic method; in other words I hung out with the gangs.

I have been deemed unfit to undertake crime research because I know criminals through studying crime. Bloody hell.

This is ludicrous.

Famous economist Steven Levitt once did research on the economics of drug dealing for his book Freakonomics with Stephen Dubner. That involved spending time with gangs and drug dealers. Would the NZ Police also regard Steven Levitt as unfit to conduct research?

And a 20 page file on an academic? Sure if he has spent time with gangs as part of his research, I would expect some incidental notes about him, but 20 pages?

This Kafkaesque nightmare began when I was leading five researchers (all but one have PhDs and two are full professors) who were working for a large government agency wanting to investigate alcohol-related harms. Part of this project required some basic crime data from the police. It was then that I discovered the lengths police are going to to control research. This is not simply through excluding academics, as they did me, but through contracts that have to be signed to gain basic information. In our case legal opinions suggest that it should be available to any person who asks for it under the Official Information Act.

I would go further. I think all government data, by default, should be publicly available in machine readable format. Obviously personal details should not be included, but I’d love to see the criminal sector databases on convictions, sentencing, rehabilitation etc publicly available so NGOs, researchers and even companies can analyse the data and look for trends, correlations, possible causative factors etc.

The degree of control the police sought over research findings and publications was more than trifling. The research contracts demand that a draft report be provided to police. If the results are deemed to be “negative” then the police will seek to “improve its outcomes”. Both the intent and the language would have impressed George Orwell.

Researchers unprepared to yield and make changes face a clause stating the police “retain the sole right to veto any findings from release”. In other words, if an academic study said something the police didn’t like – or heaven forbid was in any way critical of the police – then the police could stop it being published.

Outrageous. This is not Police private data – this is Government data funded by taxpayers.

These demands were supported by threats. The contracts state that police will “blacklist” the researchers and “any organisations connected to the project … from access to any further police resources” if they don’t abide by police wishes.


After seeking information from the police about their sinister research contracts and to understand why I am banned, I am little the wiser. I have been told the decision to ban me is being reviewed. What I do know is that in an open democracy that puts such a high currency on free speech, the police should not be seeking to muzzle legitimate academic inquiry.

The Police should remove the ban on Dr Gilbert, and change their contracts. It is far enough to perhaps have a clause requiring them to see a draft of any research so they can critique it, but there should be no right of veto.

And further the Government should look at getting this data out of the exclusive control of state agencies, and into the public domain. If (for example) both the Sensible Sentencing Trust and JustSpeak could access criminal and corrections databases, then I’m sure we’d end up with better debate and understanding of criminal justice policies.

It took an OIA request and many months to discover that since the three strikes law came into force, the reoffending rate for strike offences has dropped 62% or so. That shouldn’t require an OIA request. Researchers should be able to find this out for themselves at any time.

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20,000 female rugby players

November 24th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

• 150,727 players – small increase of 163 from 2014
• 80,978 Small Blacks (5-12 years) – increase of 549 (1 percent) compared to 2014
• 42,072 teenagers (13-20 years) – decrease of 242 (0.5 percent) compared to 2014
• 27,677 players aged 21 and over – decrease of 144 (0.5 percent) compared to 2014
• 19,792 female players – increase of 1967 (11 percent) compared to 2014
• 12,109 coaches – increase of 396 (3 percent) compared to 2014
• 1851 referees – decrease of 33 (2 percent) compared to 2014

Almost 20,000 female rugby players is cool – around one in seven players are female.

When I was a kid, 90% to 95% of rugby spectators were men. Now at big matches I reckon close to half the audience are women. Rugby has gone from just being a male sport.

Anyway those stats got me wondering what the gender breakdown is in other sports in NZ? How many netball players are men? How many cricket players are women?

Anyone got data on other sports?


Overseas travel on the benefit

November 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

More than 30,000 New Zealanders had their benefits cut last financial year for travelling overseas without letting officials know.

Ministry of Social Development figures show 31,714 people had benefits cut for going overseas without telling Work and Income – down on the previous year’s 35,565.

Benefits related to jobseeker support were those most often cut.

Poverty advocates claim that benefit levels are so low, that those receiving them are in poverty.

Yet at least 31,000 can afford overseas travel.

Actually – may be much more than that. 31,000 is the number who didn’t tell MSD of their travel. No idea how many more traveled and did.


A stupid killer

November 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A fascinating article by Sam Boyer, who details his conversations with Michael Preston, now convicted of killing Mei Fan.

The key extract is this:

I turn the volume up as loud as it will go. It’s the quietest sentence spoken in the whole interview.

But there it is, spoken clearly.

He is telling me about a conversation he shared with a Housing New Zealand tenancy manager when he drops the bomb.

The conversation took place, he says casually, “several weeks after I’d done it”.

We had spoken on the phone for over an hour, exclusively about one thing – the horrific stabbing death of his ex-wife in the laundry of her Miramar home.

We weren’t talking about other things he may or may not have done “several weeks” before the chat with his tenancy manager.

To my mind the admission could mean only one thing: that he’d “done it”, he’d killed Fan, stabbing her 38 times and leaving a carving knife through her neck.

He accidentally confessed to a reporter.

But you see he also gave away lots of other stuff:

But he wants to talk to me, he says, to tell his side of the story. 

He has theories, he says, about what might have happened and who might have killed her.

“Let me call my lawyer and see if they will let me speak with you. Call me back in five minutes.”

I call him back, this time recording the conversation through a digital dictaphone plugged into my desk phone.

He apologises. He wants to talk to me, but his lawyer says he can’t.


He explains in detail what his lawyer has said, that there’s no way he should talk to me, that according to his lawyer it’s not worth it for him, it’s too great a risk.

Then he stays on the line for 50 minutes.

If he had listened to his lawyer, he may have got off. I’m glad he was so stupid he didn’t.

His ex-wife – towards whom it is clear, to my mind, he still harbours a lot of ill will – was most likely assassinated by Chinese hitmen sent to New Zealand under the command of a slighted military officer.

“He put a contract out on her in China,” he tells me.

“He’s got contacts, an old boys’ network. For him to have someone reach out in New Zealand, it’s just too easy.”

Then there’s this “Maori woman”, he says, who had visited Fan to buy some jewellery Fan sold through Trade Me from her home in Miramar. Maybe she’d done it.

Maybe it was OJ?

His dead wife is a “career criminal” he alleges, she had been having affairs while they were married, she is a fraud, she was in the country illegally, she lies about her age, she drives without a licence, she was violent and had beaten him with a lamp, a broom, a beer bottle.

She would rub his nose in the fact she had a new boyfriend, he says.

He had used her passwords to access her computer and “found out that she had way more lovers than I ever thought … this woman just kept a catalogue of her conquests”.

I didn’t do it, but I hated her and this is why.

His dialogue turns to his wife again. He says something about her having “put up a fight”.

He mentions her injuries and the mess at the scene.

This, remember, is a suspect who was arrested shortly after Fan’s body was discovered and should, by rights, have no knowledge of her injuries or the crime scene.

I ask how he knows about her wounds.

His response is the tale about hearing it secondhand from his and Fan’s shared Housing New Zealand tenancy manager.

An allegation easy to check out. He really is a dumb killer. Well done the Police on a good result.


For the first time in two decades annual migration with Australia is positive

November 23rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

New Zealand had a record annual net gain (more arrivals than departures) of migrants in the October 2015 year (62,500). It resulted from a record 120,100 migrant arrivals and 57,600 migrant departures. The annual net gain in migrants has been setting new records for the last 15 months. In October, net migration passed another milestone with the first annual gain in migrants from Australia in over 20 years (since the November 1991 year). Fewer New Zealand citizens departing for Australia and increased arrivals of both New Zealand and non-New Zealand citizens drove the change.

Here’s the graph:


Here’s the net migration figures for October years in the last decade:

  • Oct 15:+260
  • Oct 14: -5,090
  • Oct 13: -22,600
  • Oct 12: -39,270
  • Oct 11: -35,510
  • Oct 10: -19,460
  • Oct 09: -20.310
  • Oct 08: -34,960
  • Oct 07: -26,510
  • Oct 06: -20.920

Departures to Australia were only 24,800 in the year to October 2015.  For the year to October 2008 it was 48,130 – so the numbers leaving to Australia have halved.

Arrivals from Australia were 25,060 in the year to October 2015.  For the year to October 2008 it was 13,170 – so the numbers arriving Australia have almost doubled.

This is very unusual. People tend to migrate from smaller places to larger places.

In terms of net migration, in October 2015 we had an average of seven people a day migrate from Australia. In October 2008 we had an average of 106 people a day leave NZ for Australia.

It is a hugely significant turnaround.


Maybe this is why child obesity is growing

November 22nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Walking is no longer the most common way to get to school– and cycling rates have dropped even more dramatically over 25 years.

A new Ministry of Transport report, 25 years of New Zealand Travel: New Zealand Household Travel 1989-2014, examines long-term travel trends, including how schoolchildren commute.

Children are more likely to be car passengers now than 25 years ago, and far fewer are cycling to school.

For primary school children in the late 1980s, 42 per cent of school journeys involved walking, followed by being driven (32 per cent), using public transport (13 per cent) and cycling (12 per cent).

By 2010-2014, the walking rate had fallen to 29 per cent, while more than half of primary school children’s journeys were as car passengers (57 per cent). Public transport had fallen slightly to 11 per cent, with cycling declining by much more, to just 2 per cent.

So the proportion of primary school children who would walk or cycle to school has fallen from 54% to 31%.

Cycling to school saw a similar drop for secondary school students – falling from 19 per cent to 3 per cent of journeys.

Why? I used to cycle to school. Great way to be fit and often faster than the bus.

Studies had found that the main reason for the fall in cycling rates was the belief that biking to school was dangerous, the party said.

Is it more dangerous than 25 years ago?

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A remarkable gondola

November 22nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Plans for a $50 million gondola from Queenstown’s Remarkables Park to the iconic Remarkables mountain range have been revealed today.

A 9.8km gondola, the longest in Australasia, is proposed by Remarkables Park Town Centre developer Porter Group Ltd.

It will dock with NZSki’s new ski field base building, which opened this year and was designed with the gondola in mind.

Comprising 140 eight-seater cabins, the Leitner Poma-designed gondola will lift off next to Porter Group’s proposed Frankton conference centre.

It will then run across and alongside the Kawarau River, then head up the Rastus Burn Valley to The Remarkables ski field’s new base building – a 27-minute journey.

Designed as a sightseeing attraction in its own right, it also offers an alternative route to the 13km Remarkables ski field access road, not only for skiers and snowboarders but also sightseers, climbers and mountain bikers throughout the rest of the year.

What a great idea – a huge tourist attraction, and also great for skiers.


Christchurch Council plan slammed

November 21st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A damning independent review has found the Christchurch City Council botched the $40 million development of new planning rules for the city.

The independent review, by Peter Winder and Tanya Perrott finds fault with the council’s development of the  Replacement District Plan (RDP). It concludes the council has “not produced an effective plan” for the Government-appointed independent hearings panel (IHP) to consider.

Council boss Karleen Edwards has responded by hiring two consultants to oversee the final stages of the process. 

Winder and Perrott’s 30-page report, released exclusively to The Press, outlines a series of misjudgments made by council staff. It talks of a “culture of exclusion” whereby even councillors were largely shut out of the process and left feeling disenfranchised.

I wonder whether other Councils are much better?

Winder and Perrott’s report says council staff misjudged what the IHP and government ministers required.  They largely prepared the first wave of chapters without any input from elected councillors.

In the absence of an explicit strategic approach agreed by elected members, some staff “assumptions” drove the process.

“Some of these have proved to be questionable,” their report said. 

In many Councils town planning staff are incredibly powerful. Their individual preferences can have the force of law.


Templeton’s third liquidation

November 21st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Businesses are doubtful of recouping tens of thousands of dollars from a failed company that ran Monster Slide events in New Zealand.

Trill Productions Ltd went into voluntary liquidation on November 2, making it the third company directed by Wellington entrepeneur Jamie Templeton to go under since February. 

I don’t judge people for one business failure.  Risk and reward are always linked.

But to have three companies in liquidation suggests there is a pattern of behaviour or judgement.

It’s not just suppliers who have been left out of pocket. Thousands of customers were duped into paying for tickets in advance for events that never eventuated.

Trill Productions is the third company directed by Templeton to go bust this year.

On February 5, Illuminate Global Ltd and Illuminate Youth Events NZ Ltd, which ran paint parties and youth events, went into liquidation. They left debts of about $158,000 and $4000, respectively, according to liquidators.

I believe it is time for regulatory authorities to look at whether Templeton is suitable to be a director of a company. And certainly any suppliers in future will be justified in demanding cash in advance for any services to companies he is involved with.


Young Mothers

November 20th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting publication by Stats NZ on young mothers and the workforce.Their findings include:

  • 3% of women aged 15 to 19 are mothers
  • The proportion of 20 to 24 year old women becoming mothers has fallen from 25% in 1994 to 20% in 2014
  • Two thirds of teen mothers are sole parents
  • Teen mothers by ethnicity are Maori 6.1%, Pacific 4.2%, European 2.3% and Asian 0.8%
  • 20 to 24 year old mothers by ethnicity are Maori 38%, Pacific 30%, European 17.5% and Asian 6.9%
  • 20 to 24 year old sole mothers by ethnicity are Maori 23%, Pacific 16%, European 8.4% and Asian 1.6%
  • 82% of teenage women who are not parents are in education compared to 29% of teenage mothers
  • For 20-24 year olds the proportions in education are women (no kids) 45%, men 39%, sole mothers 22%, partnered mothers 14%

Wouldn’t NZ be so much better off if all of NZ had the same young mother rate as Asian New Zealanders?

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