Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Hillary Clinton/Young Lover

February 11th, 2016 at 5:00 pm by David Farrar

Around seven and a half years ago I was fortunate enough to see Arthur Meek’s hilarious play On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover.

A revamped version of the show called Hillary Clinton/Young Lover is on at Circa. It has a similar premise – the earnest Richard Meros doing a powerpoint presentation on why Hillary Clinton should take a young lover, and why it should be him.

Meek is excellent as Meros. He has a charisma and enthusiasm which shines through.

The audience were highly engaged and laughing through the show. Meros asks the audience to put their hands up if you have a degree – only in Wellington would three quarters have their hands up. And then as he asks them to remain up if you have honours, masters and finally a PhD, there were still a few hands up. That forms part of the play with one of those representing the smart people, and someone uneducated being picked to represent the uneducated (which was me that night!).

The humour is fast and furious, but not too over the top. Very clever use of images on the powerpoint such as bananas and kiwifruit got lots of giggles.

Meros is at his best as he deals with the numbers to whittle down the number of potential lovers for Hillary Clinton from 7 billion to one – him. The criteria for eliminating certain countries such as Canada and Australia was great.

It’s a one hour show, and lots of fun. Definitely worth seeing if you never saw the Helen Clark one, and if you did see it, you’ll still find enough new material to enjoy this one also.

It’s on until Saturday 20 February.

Rating: ****

Dotcom appeal set for August

February 11th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

The appeal against the decision to extradite Kim Dotcom and his fellow Megaupload co-accused Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato will be heard in August. …

They have appealed the decision, with a case management conference regarding the matter heard before Justice Raynor Asher in the High Court at Auckland.

He allocated an eight-week fixture for the appeal, beginning August 29.

Eight weeks? That’s a long time as the appeal can be on matters of law only.

Counsel for the US Christine Gordon, QC, had sought an earlier date but Justice Asher says given all the circumstances, including the complexity of the case, the date is appropriate.

He believes eight weeks is “very generous,” however, and says the hearing will probably take half that time.

Disappointing that the appeal may not conclude until November 2016. Then he will no doubt seek leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal which means Dotcom may end up trying to hijack another election.

Abel Tasman Coastal Track Day 3

February 11th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

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Woke up on Saturday and the estuary is at high tide so once again it is the high tide route. However this time that is only an extra 1 km or so.

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So around the coast we go.

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A nice track next to the water.

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Then over the bridge.

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A great view of where we were from above.

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Then further uphill.

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Then a great view of Tonga Bay as we approach it.

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Then some tramping down at sea level.

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And eventually you tramp across the beach itself. This is my least favourite part as you move very slowly on sand, it is very hot, and there is no shade. But the views make up for it.

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At the end of the beach a bridge leads inland.

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A nice view of Tonga Bay as we leave it.

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Then some nice track to go along.

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Then you cross over for your first view of Awaroa, and you can see the (private) Awaroa Lodge in the bush. We were not staying there ($400/night!) but at the $32/night DOC Hut.

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A stunning view of Awaroa from a look out on the track. The green strip is an air strip.

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Then it is head down to the beach and around a 20 minute walk along the beach and estuary.

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After around four hours we hit the Awaroa Hut around 1 pm. A very hot day so glad to be there.

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The lovely view outside the hut.

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The Awaroa Inlet at low tide. Despite the tide, we managed to go swimming for an hour or so, and caught some more pipis for supper!

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The Awaroa Inlet at high tide. You are advised to only try crossing it within two hours of low tide yet a moron couple (who had been at the lodge and lost track of time) tried to cross it at an hour before high tide. The entire hut was having bets on how long until they turned back. Eventually the two of them had their day packs over their heads and the water up to their arm pits before the DOC ranger rescued them in his boat.

There is no low tide track at Awaroa which means on Sunday we had to cross either before 5.15 am or after 2.15 pm.  We decided to go for the early crossing so set the alarms for 4 am and had an early night.

Herald on Awaroa Beach

February 11th, 2016 at 9:58 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Labour leader Andrew Little thinks it would a good idea for the Government to chip in and support the social media campaign to buy a sliver of land in Golden Bay.

Which destroys the whole community spirit behind the bid. Forcing taxpayers to fund the purchase works against people donating their own money. I’m happy to voluntarily donate money to the bid but not happy for my taxes to be used on it.

At the 11th hour, Gareth Morgan entered the debate, offering to make up the difference between the amount raised by the social media exercise and the $2 million tender guidance. He promised to hand the beach over to DoC after his family had finished enjoying it. Unsurprisingly, the offer has been declined. Contributors to the fund would have been justifiably reluctant to subsidise anyone’s acquisition of a private beach.

Many donors said they would withdraw their pledges if this happened.

Meanwhile, the crowdfunding appeal for Awaroa Beach deserves to succeed. The owner may be asking more than DoC thinks it is worth, but its value is whatever a willing buyer is willing to pay. The appeal is a rare opportunity for the public to decide.

The fund now stands at $1.77 million with 28,515 backers.

Abel Tasman Coastal Track Day 2

February 10th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

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Friday morning starts off with a short trek along the Anchorage beach.

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There is a low tide and high tide track. We had to use the high tide track which is an extra 3 kms and an hour longer. A climb at the beginning.

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You loop around the inlet.

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Some kayakers having a rest.

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Then cross the water on the bridge.

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This is just next to the bridge, and where we had morning tea. A lovely isolated swimming hole.

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The low tide track across the Torrent Bay Estuary.

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There’s a couple of dozen houses at Torrent Bay, and this is the main road through the settlement.

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The beach at Torrent Bay.

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You then climb up steeply after Torrent Bay, giving you this view. The track has no major climbs, but lots of minor ones of 100 metres or so.

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A couple of paddle boarders.

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The track goes inland and gets a bit narrow.

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Over the large swing bridge.

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Falls River.

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As we drop down towards Bark Bay, we see a weka.

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The beach at Bark Bay.

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I went for a swim and discovered lots of pipis in the sea. So threw them in the water to spit out the sand and then boiled them, so we had pipis for afternoon tea.

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The Bark Bay Hut. Two rooms inside the hut that sleep 14 each communally, and another room on the side which we were lucky enough to score that has just six individual bunks.

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The Bark Bay Estuary at low tide. The campsite is in the trees between the estuary and the sea.

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And as the tide comes in.

A fairly gentle four hour day with 13 kms or so.

Gareth Morgan on Awaroa Beach

February 10th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Gareth Morgan writes:

Kiwis have generously got behind a campaign to buy 7 hectares of beach and scrub, with the aim to fold it into the Abel Tasman National Park. So far the campaign has raised over $1.3m, attracting over 20,000 donors. Even Stuff has got behind the campaign, no doubt sensing that this foray into campaign journalism could yield them more clicks.

It’s a great campaign and so far 22,457 Kiwis have pledged $1.42 million to purchase the land to donate to the conservation estate.

Over the weekend, Andrew Little has suggested that the public purse could pick up the balance of the fundraising – currently at least $650,000 – given we have no idea what the other bids in the tender are. There is no doubt it is a popular campaign, and fair enough to the donors – after all people can decide to spend their money however they like.  But it doesn’t follow at all that this project is an appropriate way to spend public money. Before any politician commits taxpayer’s money to any project they should think beyond the kudos of the publicity and be sure it is the most beneficial – and hence responsible  – way to spend the next million of other people’s (i.e.; taxpayer’s) money.

It is the norm before any public money is spent for the Treasury to give advice on the value for money that the spend offers. To let politicians to just spray taxpayers’ property around like confetti is a recipe for disaster. While running on their gut political instincts is their natural predisposition, any politician who expects tenure needs to be a bit above that.

I’d be more impressed if Little had pledged his own money to the campaign, instead of demanding taxpayers be forced to fund it. Nothing kills a great community spirit more than politicians trying to muscle into the action and claim credit.

DOC has already said that the land is too expensive at $2m for them to invest. Quite rightly they have done their sums and there are other projects that give infinitely more return to the ecological estate than a piece of sandspit.

We all know DOC has plenty of land in its portfolio and can’t look after the estate it has already. The true conservation dividend it can earn comes from killing stuff – eliminating predators so that our native species can flourish. It does not come from buying more hectares that it can’t protect. Predator free zones are our best investment in conservation.

I agree.

Finally here’s an offer. I will make up the difference between the crowd-funding amount and the tender offer of $2m. I will guarantee that the public have access to the same extent that the current owner has kindly bestowed. But I will go further than that. I will undertake to give the property to DOC once my family has finished enjoying it. But I expect something in return – I want to use the property for my own private benefit meanwhile, just as the current owner does.1

That way we don’t have politicians irresponsibly spending taxpayer funds, there is no risk of public access to this threatened sand-spit being denied, and the beach is guaranteed to end up in public ownership.

I can do this because it’s my money. That’s a big difference from politicians generously promising to spend you money on such folly. What do you say taxpayers – sound like a deal to save you money?

It is a generous offer. However I’m not sure one can combine the public appeal with this offer. People have pledged their donations for a very specific purpose – to donate immediately to the conservation estate. While many donors may be willing to accept Morgan’s offer, there would need to be some mechanism for people who have donated to withdraw if they don’t want to have it done this way.

Abel Tasman Coast Track Day 1

February 9th, 2016 at 11:34 am by David Farrar

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We set off on Thursday, with an early flight to Nelson and then Trek Express to Marahau where the Abel Tasman Coastal track starts.  Happy to find The Park Cafe in Marahau so we had a decent lunch before five days of tramping food!

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You start off crossing the Marahau River in the open.

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Then you hit the bush.

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And then into canopy cover, which in 26 degree heat is very welcome.

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Every so often the canopy clears to give you stunning views of the water and beaches.

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The first day is around four hours tramping.

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The view above Stilwell Bay.

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And off memory this is Cyathea Cove.

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Despite being a coastal track, quite a variety of bush.

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Torrent Bay in the distance.

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Heading down to Anchorage.

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And the final stretch along the beach at The Anchorage. Unlike most tramps where you only see other trampers, the Abel Tasman is like a motorway. There are hundreds of day walkers, kayakers and beach goers who just come in by water taxi. As you lug your 16 kg pack you envy the day walkers with their tiny bags.

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Anchorage Hut which was only built a few years ago. Possibly the best DOC Hut I have stayed in. They have five separate bunkrooms and flush toilets under the same balcony so you don’t have to navigate a field in the dark when you need to go.

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Our bunkroom. Having storage for packs makes a huge difference.

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And the view from the hut with some nice tables on the lawn just in front of the beach.

We got there around 4 pm, so had time to go for a late afternoon swim. Not many tramps in NZ in which I’ve gone swimming. Normally you’re so high up the water is freezing!

Not a smart move by Lincoln

February 7th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Lincoln University staff are distraught after they were duped into being frank with a report-writer who turned out to be their future boss.

During the week of January 11, more than 20 staff were asked to meet and be interviewed one-on-one with a “visiting academic”, who was preparing a report for the university’s council.

The man was Professor Robin Pollard, who revealed to a few at the end of their discussions that he was the preferred vice-chancellor candidate. He was given the job, and would start mid-March.

The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) believed the appointment had been “unnecessarily fraught”, and did nothing to help resolve low staff morale and lack of trust in management at the university.

It was considering legal options, including making a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority about the university’s breach of good faith.

The university said the appointment process had been necessary to respect the need for Pollard’s confidentiality before any offer was made or accepted.

It is a good idea for a prospective CEO to do diligence on  the organisation they are looking to head.

But to mislead staff that you are just a visiting academic doing a report, rather than the likely next VC, is a really bad idea. I’d be very annoyed if that happened to me. You could well say stuff to a “consultant” than you would not say to your ultimate boss.

You can do do diligence or confidentiality, but not both in this way. They should have told those interviewed he was a potential VC, and asked them to not tell anyone, rather than have those staff agree under false pretences.

Whomever signed off on this made a mistake.

Melbourne Age notes the migration flow to NZ

February 7th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Melbourne Age reports:

More people are moving to New Zealand from Australia instead of the other way around for the first time in decades as Kiwis return to a buoyant economy and are joined by foreigners in search of work.

According to new figures released by Statistics New Zealand, 25,273 people migrated east across the Tasman Sea in 2015, compared to 24,504 who went the other way.

This net flow of 769 to New Zealand is the biggest since 1991 and the number of people coming to Australia is the lowest since the same year.

It comes as the country of 4.6 million is experiencing consistent political stability and strong economic performance while other countries falter.

We’re pretty much the only country on the OECD to already be back into surplus after the GFC.

The trend began in the middle of last year and these new figures confirm the anti-New Zealand migration is over, having peaked in 2012 when a total of more than 53,000 fled to Australia.

In 2013, the net migration flow to Australia was 19,600. By 2014, this was down to 3800. 

Halting the “brain drain” was a major campaign commitment of Prime Minister John Key who, after more than seven years in power, is a popular leader running a steady, successful government.

Australians would like some stability in their Governments!

Since John Key became National Party Leader, there have been six PMs of Australia.

The continued economic growth, low unemployment numbers, strong New Zealand dollar, budget surplus and migration success story of the country are all feathers in the cap of the Prime Minister, who last year joked that you “wouldn’t know who’s going to show up” when you’re expecting an Australian prime minister.

Heh.

One victim of this revolving door of political leadership, former treasurer Joe Hockey, last year insisted that the lower tax rates of New Zealand were “unquestionably” part of the exodus.

A top tax rate of 33% is attractive.

The Washington Post has also reported on the change in net migration between Australia and NZ.

Real wages up even more

February 4th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday:

So real wages have gone up 1.4%

But I got it wrong. The 1.5% increase I referred to was the labour cost index – which is overall cost to employers. That is quite different to how much the average employee earnings have increased.

  • Weekly Gross Earnings average (for FTE) up from $1,102 to $1,135 – a 3.0% increase
  • Average Hourly Earnings up from $28.79 to $29.41 – a 2.2% increase

So taking into account 0.1% inflation the average FT worker is earning 2.9% more in real terms and getting paid 2.1% an hour more in real terms.

Unemployment drops to seven year low!!!

February 3rd, 2016 at 12:32 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in the December 2015 quarter (from 6.0 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009. There were 16,000 fewer people unemployed than in the September 2015 quarter.

Unemployment fell for both men and women over the latest quarter, with the unemployment rate for men falling 0.5 percentage points (to 5.0 percent) and that for women falling 0.8 percentage points (to 5.7 percent).

“Although the number of employed people has risen, there was also growth in the number of people not participating in the labour market,” Ms Ramsay said. “This has contributed to labour force participation falling for the third quarter in a row.”

Over the December quarter, employment grew 0.9 percent, after falling in the previous quarter. This has resulted in annual employment growth of 1.3 percent.

This is good news for everyone except Andrew Little!

It’s probably a bit too good. The HLFS is a survey of 30,000 so has a margin of error. It is quite possible next quarter will see it rise up a bit again. But regardless still a great drop.

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index, eased to 1.5 percent, the lowest since the year to the March 2010 quarter. This compares with low annual consumer price inflation of 0.1 percent.

So real wages have gone up 1.4%. Excellent.

The changes from a year ago are:

  • 32,000 more jobs
  • 35,000 more full-time jobs, 3000 fewer part-time
  • 10,000 fewer unemployed
  • Unemployment rate down 0.5%
  • Maori unemployment rate down 1.6%
  • Pasifika unemployment rate down 1.7%
  • 1,200 more manufacturing jobs (recall the manufactured crisis!)
  • 2.1% increase in hours worked
  • NZ has 10th= lowest unemployment rate in OECD, 1.3% below OECD average

Sure it was a “friend’s” bike

February 2nd, 2016 at 10:57 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cycling was being forced to confront a new controversy on Sunday after the sport’s head confirmed the first top-level case of “technological fraud” with a hidden motor being found on a Belgian cyclist’s bike.

You have to admire the ingenuity of the cheats, if not their ethics.

Yet the 19-year-old Van den Driessche denied suggestions she had deliberately used a motorised bike in the women’s under-23 race and was in tears as she told Belgian TV channel Sporza: “The bike was not mine. I would never cheat.”

Not yours, but you rode it in a competition.

Van den Driessche said the bike looked identical to her own but belonged to her friend and that a team mechanic had given it her by mistake before the race.

Most cyclists know their bikes as well as themselves. What is the chance of a genuine mistake? Around the same as the chance that there just happened to be a bike around that was identical to her bike in looks, but had a secret motor inside.

Why would anyone but a professional cyclist have a secret motor in a bike?

“It wasn’t my bike, it was my friend’s and was identical to mine,” Van den Driessche told Belgian TV channel Sporza.

“This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck. A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race.”

Can she name the friend? And again the only reasons you have a secret motor in a bike is to cheat. There is no real innocent reason for one.

 

Why the Sevens are dying

February 2nd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Westpac Stadium’s boss is defending the enforcement of drinking rules at this year’s rugby sevens, after claims security was heavy-handed.

Some of a group attending yesterday’s first day were turned away at the gate by security staff, after they were breath-tested.

They’re breath-testing people coming into the stadium. And you wonder why no one wants to go. It used to be fun.

Stuff also reports:

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the weekend’s event had been “excellent”, and she judged the increased family focus a success.

Organisers had tried to boost crowd numbers by moving the event to earlier in the year, offering cut-price tickets and incentives for families to bring children, she said.

Bringing kids?? It’s a two day event. I doubt many parents want to have tired and grumpy kids with them at the Sevens.

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The Sevens is dying, and it is self-inflicted. What was a legendary Wellington event has been killed by the fun police.

Air NZ’s Luxon on the flag

February 1st, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Luxon spent 16 years living overseas and several years in Canada during the Canadian flag referendum.

In 1965 when they changed their flag, there was a lot of the same debate that was now happening in New Zealand.

“One of the things was, is the maple leaf and in our case, the silver fern, an overused logo or emblem. The reality is it has become a singular identifier of Canada and all Canadians and I think in many ways the silver fern will work like that for us here as well.”

Luxon said Canada’s transition was quite messy but that was the nature of such debates.

Countries like Canada with its maple leaf and Japan with its rising sun were easily identified by their iconic flags and Luxon said the fern was on par with those global icons.

“We’re in a world of 196 countries, 7.3 billion people. As a person who has spent 16 years living overseas and leads a company that does a lot of export business, I just think it helps us stand out a little bit better,” he said.

I doubt 1% of the world could recognise the NZ flag as representing New Zealand. However I’d say the maple leaf flag and rising sun flags have massive recognition globally as the flags of Canada and Japan. We have a chance to have our national symbol of the silver fern fly on our flag around the world. Or we can stick with a flag that like 30 others has a union jack on it.

Aussies still flowing in

February 1st, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

Annual net gains from Australia continued to increase, with 800 migrants in the December 2015 year. This was the highest net gain since the October 1991 year, and the third month in a row to show an annual net gain of migrants from Australia.

That’s net migration inwards of 27 people a day from Australia. It used to be net migration outwards to Australia of 110 a day.

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As you can see we have both twice as many people migrating from Australia, but also only half as many migrating to Australia.

Potential fraud, sadly

February 1st, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The executor of Jonah Lomu’s will is raising questions after discovering the All Black’s widow made multiple changes to Companies Office documents, inserting herself as a part-owner of a company which owns a Wellington property and his trademarks.

Companies Office records show Nadene Lomu was an “authorised person” but had no stake in the ownership of Stylez Ltd before January 4 this year – almost two months after Lomu died.

But on that date and the day after, the public record shows she made multiple changes to the ownership of the company.

The Companies Office lists “Nadene Quirk” – her maiden name – as inserting “Nadene Lomu” as a 20 per cent shareholder at 1.07pm on January 4.

At 4.12pm, another change was made – this time increasing her shareholding to 98 per cent. Five minutes later, she increased the shareholding again – it was now 99 per cent.

The following day, January 5, a final change to the ownership of the company was made, again by “Nadene Quirk”. It was reduced back to 50 per cent, the records show.

On Wednesday last week, “Nadene Quirk” made a final change to the Companies Office record. On this occasion, she inserted Nadene Lomu as a director in Stylez Ltd.

Previous Companies Office filings have been made for Stylez Ltd by “Nadene Quirk”. She first emerged in 2014, taking over from accountants Grant Thornton. The 2014 annual return lists “Nadene Lomu” as an “authorised person” to submit documents.

I know a bit about this as a company director and shareholder.

The authorised person does not have authority to make changes on their own initiative. Their role is to implement the decisions of the shareholders or directors.

However, the changes to the company records have prompted questions from the executor of Lomu’s will, lawyer Chris Darlow.

Darlow said his role as executor – recently confirmed by the court – meant he acted “as the deceased’s personal representative” and was charged with carrying out the instructions in the will.

Among the instructions will be what happens to Stylez Ltd, which Intellectual Property Office of NZ records show has first rights to trademarks in Lomu’s name.

As Lomu had 100 per cent ownership of the company, its future will be described in the will and for the executor to effect. It also owns a Wellington apartment, which is mortgaged.

It is quite improper and in fact illegal for someone to make changes to the companies office records without authorisation, which has occurred here.

If it eventuates that the instructions in the will are to transfer ownership to Mrs Lomu, then I doubt a prosecution is warranted. But if the instructions are different, then this becomes a matter of fraud.

I hope this is just a case of ignorance of the process to be followed.

Hunter vs Wishart

January 31st, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An author-on-author scrap has broken out over the Marlborough Sounds murders with Ian Wishart’s new book being pulled from bookshelves under threat of legal action.

Author Keith Hunter, who has also written on the case, told Whitcoulls he would sue Wishart and anyone connected to selling Elementary if it contained criticisms of his professional conduct.

Hunter produced the documentary Murder on the Blade? in 2003 and then published Trial By Trickery in 2007.

He said he had heard Wishart made claims this morning that the book was critical about Hunter’s research on the case.

“I told Whitcoulls that if that is true that he did say that in the book that I would sue him and anyone else who helps him distribute his book. If he has defamed me — lowered my reputation — I will undoubtedly sue him.”

Hunter was in the process of reading Elementary when called by the Herald, having bought a copy at a Ponsonby bookshop chain which was among those he had contacted this morning. He said the other chain should also pull the book from shelves. As for Whitcoulls, he said: “Good on them.”

Not a good look to threaten a book chain with defamation over a book you have not even read yet. It comes across more as trying to prevent an alternative argument be read.

What I find interesting is that Wishart had previously wrote he thought Watson was innocent, but the evidence he gained has now convinced him the other way around. Stuff reports:

Wishart says the sheer amount of new material he had access to led him to conclude Scott Watson was guilty – a complete turnaround from the findings of his first book on the case.

Ben and Olivia: What really happened?, published in 1999, supported the theory Watson was innocent.

Wishart said he had access to 7000 extra documents for Elementary, including evidence the police had possessed and discarded, and that had led him to a different conclusion.

“I’ve had to retract what I’ve previously said and say ‘I was wrong’.”

This must be a rare event – to publish one book supporting innocence and 16 years later publish another concluding guilt.

Winston Peters and Selwyn Clarke

January 30th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Veteran writes at No Minister:

The story so far … Selwyn Clarke, 88 yo ratbag Maori activist and ‘war’ veteran had his War Disability Pension cut off after a warrant was issued for his arrest following his failure to attend Court on charges relating to the illegal occupation by Ngati Kahu of the Kaitaia Airport in September last year.   The occupation saw the abandonment of scheduled passenger service flights as well as medical flights into and out of the Far North.

Clarke claimed his ‘kaupapa’ did not allow him to recognise the authority of the Courts.     He received backing from Winston Peters who called for the reinstatement of his pension saying that the law under which he was arrested was highly questionable.

Let’s deal with that claim first of all.   Peters is supposed to be a lawyer.   He should know the place to test the law is in the Courts and just why he would choose to go into bat for a serial protester who by his own admission has no respect for the law quite beggars belief.

But, as they say, there’s more.   Clarke claims to have served with 28 Maori Battalion.   There are five Clarke’s listed on the Battalion nominal roll … none of them Selwyn Clarke and all dead.    Further, there are seven Karaka’s (Maori for Clarke) listed … none of them with the forenames Haki Herewini (Clarke’s Maori forenames) and again, all dead.  

There is however evidence that he enlisted late in the war sailing to the Middle-East with the 15th Reinforcements.    That would have seen him on-board a ship when VE Day was announced.  The 15th Reinforcements landed in Egypt, were processed through to Italy to join the Division in time for them to be sent home. The only ‘action’ they saw would have been in Cairo or in some Italian Taverna.

The water gets muddier.   Clarke also claims he served as a Military Policeman and that would have seen him a member of the Divisional Provost Company and not 28 Battalion. I am inclined to believe this as my sources from within Maoridom tell me that Clarke was shunned by members of 28 Battalion when he tried to gatecrash on their gatherings.

But it gets better.   Clarke would have it that he first enlisted (at age 13 or 15 … changing story) under an assumed name (not revealed) where he served with 28 Battalion in the western desert in the 1941-43 campaign.  He claims one of his tasks was to escort prisoners through minefields and further, that his platoon commander (unnamed) shot prisoners and that this continually haunts him.   Now clearly Clarke is not the sharpest knife in the drawer or else he would have realized that he was admitting to being an accessory to a war crime as defined in the London Charter (the Nuremburg Laws) of 1945.

If the story is correct then Clarke may get to know more about arrest warrants.   There is no statute of limitations for war crimes.

If the story is incorrect then Clarke has bought dishonor to 28 Battalion and to an unnamed officer, now dead, with false allegations of war crimes.

I don’t think Mr Clarke has a lot of credibility.

So, there it is, Selwyn Clarke, either and by his own admission an accessory to a war crime (the murder of POWs) or a liar about his service with 28 Battalion.

Whatever, he has no credibility at all and Winston Peters has made a huge mistake in aligning himself with him.

More may come out on this.

More planning inflexibility

January 29th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Palmerston North resident Gary Sturgess cannot believe how much red tape there is over a kitchen sink.

The particular sink is part of downstairs rooms at his Ruahine St home where 21-year-old granddaughter Georgia Garrett, who has Down syndrome, is learning independent living skills while under the same roof as mother Tania, aunt Jacqui and granddad Gary.

The family bought the house 2½ years ago, having chosen to live together after a difficult year when Sturgess’ wife Valerie had died.

The home had everything to enable three adults and a teenager to live together for support, while each had private space, a bathroom and somewhere to prepare a cup of tea or basic meal.

But a few months after purchase, a letter from the city council told them the two downstairs units did not have planning consent.

Sturgess was taken by surprise, and appalled by the initial estimates of the cost of putting things right.

There was the possibility of having to provide two extra car parks on site for each unit, additional outdoor living space, paying development contributions – adding up to about $12,000. Alternatively, the sinks could be disconnected. Landscaping plans went on hold.

This is just idiotic. If they want to have a house with only one car park for three people they should be able to. And why does the Council care how many sinks you have?

Sturgess said when buying the house, the family had no reason to question whether the kitchen sinks were consented. There was no sink in Georgia’s flat when they first looked, but there had been in the past, and the vendor offered to put it back in for them.

“We thought that would make it perfect for Georgia, given her desire to go flatting one day.”

They had sought a Land Information Management report before purchase, and no red flags were raised.

That is unusual. The LIM should list any consent issues.

Policy planner Matthew Mackay said submitters had challenged the rule about just one extra self-contained unit on a residential property, and there was a possibility of more flexibility being written into the District Plan after a hearing this year.

That would be good.

Wishart claims Watson was the killer but had an accomplice

January 29th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A new book claims Scott Watson had an accomplice when he killed Ben Smart and Olivia Hope. 

Author Ian Wishart says his book, Elementary, includes previously unseen police evidence and the witness account of a boy who was eight years old at the time that disprove Watson’s claims he is innocent.

Smart, 21, and Hope, 17, disappeared after a 1997 New Year’s Eve party at Furneaux Lodge, in the Marlborough Sounds.

“[The police] chose the wrong evidence trail and that’s why the trial of Scott Watson became a near disaster for them. It’s a miracle they got a conviction based on the case they put up.”

The book describes the account of Matthew Stevens, who was eight years old in 1998. His story includes a detailed description of what he believed was Watson’s ketch, Blade, in Queen Charlotte Sound after Ben and Olivia’s disappearance and two men aboard:

“They were both men. Both had black hair. One was steering. The other was on the starboard side. They were sitting down. One had a glass or something in his hand – the one who wasn’t steering. The man steering had a green t-shirt and the other guy had a black sweater. It might have been a woolly jersey.”

The identification of Watson and his boat over that New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day was a central part of the prosecution case. Watson claimed he sailed it alone to a friend’s house in a nearby bay where he painted it on January 2.

Wishart said Stevens’ account, and those of passengers on two boats who said they saw two men on the Blade, and that it was being painted while at sea, undermine Watson’s alibi, prove he lied and destroyed his claim of innocence.

My view is that Watson killed them. But I also accept that the Police case was wrong in some details and may not have made the case beyond reasonable doubt – they were arguably lucky to get a conviction.

The possibility of an accomplice is interesting. You have to be wary of putting too much weight on the testimony of an eight year old, but if backed by two other people, then it does become more reliable.

Now giving away Sevens tickets

January 28th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Wellington bar is giving away tickets to this weekend’s Wellington Sevens, but only to people who buy a certain beer. 

Backbencher’s managing director Alistair Boyce said the bar was given 20 tickets by the Hospitality Association last Friday.

He wasn’t sure what to do with them, so decided to give them away to people who bought an Emerson’s beer. 

Not that long ago all 30,000 tickets or so sold out within three minutes. Today they can only fill quarter to a third of the stadium and are giving tickets away.

This is what happens when the powers that be decide that the event needs to be less fun and more family focused.

Another Trade Me rival

January 28th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A website developer’s 12-year labour of love has just gone live and is taking on Trade Me.

Tim van Ameringen has spent more than 40,000 hours developing 4tradeit.co.nz, a new low-cost auction and classified website, from his Dairy Flat man cave in North Auckland.

Site looks good,but success is not down to site design.

But it has also meant he’s kept costs down to hundreds of thousands rather than tens of millions like failed auction sites Wheedle and Sella.

This means big wins for users, as most will use the website for free.

It’s free to sign up, free to list products with one photo, and there is no selling fee.

The trouble is most people are not worried about the 8% fee on Trade Me (and yes I’m one of those annoyed at the increase). They worry about getting the maximum price.

Sellers will go to the site where the most buyers are, as more buyers can mean 50%, 60% more for what you sell. And buyers will go to the sites where they can find what they are looking for – ie where the most sellers are.

First mover advantage is huge for auction sites.

His website offers all the same categories except for three; books, electronic media and tickets and memorabilia, which are too difficult to deal with, van Ameringen says. 

Users may also be attracted to the site for its charity element.

Charitable trust Wings of Hope owns 45 per cent of 4tradeit and any profits will be spread back into the community to organisations such as Women’s Refuge.

Without promotion the site is already attracting 1000 users a day and 17 affiliated car dealers have around 1100 vehicles listed.

Van Ameringen is now hoping to attract more users and small businesses.

“If people find it can offer an alternative, then it has served its purpose,”  he says.

2,500 people on there at the moment. I wish it well, but I’m doubtful it will gain meaningful market share.

Chief Justice’s cows breaking the law

January 27th, 2016 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A South Island farm owned by Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias has breached regional council rules by allowing cattle in a lake.

Holidaymaker Allan Brown photographed cows drinking in Lake Taylor, about 50 kilometres northwest of Hawarden, last week. He has since lodged a complaint with Environment Canterbury (ECan).

His picture, which has been widely shared online, showed the animals were on Lakes Station land. Elias and her businessman husband, Hugh Fletcher, are the majority owners of the 5000-hectare high country farm.

Fletcher told RNZ he let the cows into the lake on hot days, but their access was not continuous.

ECan consents and compliance manager Marty Mortiaux said the cattle were not allowed to be in the lake.

“It’s breaking our regional rules, there is a . . . resource consent to carry out the activity, but in this case there is no consent, so they are breaching the rules,” he told RNZ.

“We have an officer that’s investigating. There may well be an explanation that is satisfactory for them being in there and that will determine what sort of enforcement action we look at.”

Mortiaux said there were several penalties that could be imposed, including an abatement notice, an instant $750 fine and, in the worst case, prosecution.

On matters of legal compliance, a farm owned by the Chief Justice should be like Caesar’s Wife – above reproach and suspicion.

Sounds a fun flat

January 26th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A room-for-rent advertisement in Wellington that specified ‘no heterosexuals’ has been criticised by the Human Rights Commission.

The advertisement, which was listed on Trade Me on Thursday, included the line: “We don’t want to live with a couple, a heterosexual person, or someone who is loud at night, or drinks/does drugs/party[s] a lot.” …

It was for a four-bedroom house in the suburb of Newtown, which the existing flatmates described as a “queer, transgender, vegetarian household”.

They described themselves as two “feminist/politically switched on adults” and went to say they also did not want to live with anyone who is “racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, fatphobic [sic], hates sex workers, hates migrants or is otherwise a jerk”.

“We want to live with someone who is relaxed, motivated, grown up, reliable, considerate, child friendly, LGBTQIA+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or asexual], pays the board on time with no stress, [is] vegetarian or vegan.”

Sounds like a real fun place to live :-)

But you know what I support their right to specify who they want to live with. They should be able to set whatever criteria they want.

Another expat student loan story

January 26th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff writes about Brad:

This is the situation facing 33-year-old Brad, who did not want to reveal his last name due to the distress it may cause himself and his family.

Brad said he left New Zealand for Melbourne in 2007 due to a lack of employment opportunities, after gaining a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in performing arts.

His loan is now at $108,000, with interest accounting for more than half of the debt.

It’s hard to verify this as we don’t know when he finished studying but if in 2007 you owed $62,000 then in 2016 you would owe around $108,000 if you have made no repayments ever. So only one third would be interest.

Brad said he made an arrears payment of $500 each month, an arrangement made with IRD, but can’t afford the $5000 minimum annual repayment. This means his debt keeps building.

$500 a month exceeds the minimum annual payment so he is complying with IRD and does not need to fear arrest. If he pays $6,000 a year then his interest is $5,724 so his debt should not be building.

The Whanganui-born expat said while he earned $60,000 a year, at least 30 per cent of that went towards living costs.

Which means he has 70% left over. 10% is going on his student loan. He could decide to make that 20% and start reducing the balance.

Brad said his loan had caused him “considerable stress”.

“I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety; the thought of my crushing student loan debt is constantly on my mind, and there are basically no options I have to remedy the situation.”

Pay back more?

Return to NZ and work here, so you get zero interest on the loan?

While he has been in contact with IRD, constant threats to detain borrowers has made Brad too scared to return to New Zealand most of the time. 

“I have returned to New Zealand twice in the last four years and each time I have had to seek anti-anxiety medication from my doctor simply to board my flight, and almost did not return last time, all because of the thought of my loan and being detained at Customs.”

I am sure he is distressed but on the basis of what he is doing (making repayments) he has nothing to worry about.

The borrower said he believed interest should be frozen to help people like him get ahead.

It is – if you live and work in NZ.

I am supposed to be out here in the world representing New Zealand, promoting it, and instead I feel like I’m being punished for that, and I am deeply resentful of my nationality as a consequence…

No Ambassadors represent NZ. You’re in Australia presumably for reasons of employment of lifestyle. That’s fine, but it means you are not paying tax in NZ or contributing directly to NZ, so you are expected to pay back your student loan.