Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Ombudsman slams DOC decision

January 6th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

The Ombudsman’s opinion on the Department of Conservation decision to allow an increase in numbers of overnight guided walkers on the Routeburn Track is a breath of fresh air, which should have much wider implications than just the specific case.

Prof Ron Paterson does not beat about the forest.

He says the decision ”drives a horse and cart through” the Mt Aspiring National Park Plan and Doc’s explanation for granting the concession based on ”exceptional circumstances” is ”nonsense on stilts”.

Prof Paterson also says he has significant reservations about the legality of the decision.

He agrees with complainant Chas Tanner, of Dunedin, that the decision makes a ”mockery” of the process of public consultation (there were hundreds of submissions) in the development of the plan and undermines public participation.

The decision is here – Ombudsman decision Routeburn Walks Ltd. Basically the concession contradicted the limits set in the Mt Aspiring Plan. The issue isn’t so much how many guided trampers should be allowed on the Routeburn – it is that DOC just ignored the Park Plan when granting the concession.

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Why is WRC killing Snapper?

January 5th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Nicola Young writes in the Dom Post:

Wellington needs cheap, reliable public transport to arrest its declining use and get more cars off our congested roads.

Instead, the Greater Wellington Regional Council plans to spend more to get less; and not for the first time.

Those wretchedly inaccurate Real Time Information Boards cost $13 million, when a smart phone app would have cost less than $100,000.

$13 million for info boards? God.

The regional council has also spent more than $500m upgrading the trains, with no increase in patronage.

Now the regional council has its sights on Snapper.

They want to adopt Auckland’s integrated HOP card ticketing system at a cost of up to $50m next year and $5m each following year.

It’s hard to understand the reason; clearly its vision for public transport doesn’t seem to involve the public as the Snapper has become part of the capital’s DNA, even though it’s only been around since 2008.

The regional council’s preference for Auckland’s notorious HOP card is yet another incomprehensible addition to its track record of bad public transport investments that have driven up fares while driving down patronage.

 

I use Snapper all the time. It’s great. To spend $50 million on a new system is nuts.

Snapper captured Wellingtonians’ imaginations, but it’s also a great deal for both ratepayers and taxpayers as it costs us nothing.

The bus operator absorbs Snapper’s costs, just like the cost of fuel and drivers’ wages.

There are significant differences between the Snapper and HOP cards, none of which make HOP more appealing.

It’s been so hopeless that many consider Auckland’s decision to buy it akin to buying a pig in a poke. Snapper operates an open platform, so it can be easily adapted to changing customer needs and rapidly changing technology – important when so many are using smartphones.

Snapper can be used on the bus, taxi, to pay for car parks, and even a flat white; some businesses now use Snapper as an ID or access card. It’s just been selected as the engine room behind Dublin’s public transport Leap Card.

And the HOP card? It has only one use: paying a fare.

So a worse system for more money.

Rather than talking of mind-numbing figures in the millions, think of it this way: switching to the HOP card will cost about $100,000 per bus, train and ferry in the Greater Wellington region, plus another $10,000 for every vehicle in Wellington’s public transport fleet, including trains, buses and the two harbour ferries. A new diesel bus costs about $400,000.

Sigh.

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A fail for zero tolerance

January 5th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Critics have labelled a zero-speed-tolerance campaign a failure as the holiday road toll is more than double last year’s.

A crash in Christchurch this morning brought the number of the people to die on our roads this holiday period to 17. …

Throughout the holiday period police had a zero-tolerance campaign on speeding and also targeted drink-driving after lower limits were introduced last month.

But police were left dismayed at the role speed and alcohol played in the high toll.

“This is more than disappointing. It’s devastating that so many people have lost their lives these holidays and due to the same common factors,” road policing assistant commissioner Dave Cliff said.

“It is a bad decision to drive after drinking. It’s that simple.

“No-one can afford to not intervene and stop their family member or friend from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

“You may think it’s OK, we’ll be right and it won’t happen to them. But crashes are happening, people are getting seriously injured and people are dying.”

NZ First police spokesman Ron Mark said the toll was evidence the zero-tolerance speed campaign was a “failed experiment” and accused the police and the Government of “stealth taxation” via speeding fines.

“It has precious police resources sucked up making good drivers feel like criminals instead of focusing on those driving too fast, too slowly or too badly,” he said.

Drivers were anxious about being caught just over the limit, Mark said: “People are saying to me that instead of driving to the conditions, their eyes are darting from the speedo to road and back again and that every time they see a police car, they instinctively brake despite being well within the speed limit.”

Road-safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of The Dog and Lemon Guide, said the idea that heavy speed-limit enforcement would lower the road toll was “nonsense”.

He said 80 per cent of road deaths happened under the speed limit.

The remaining 20 per cent of fatalities were caused by high-risk drivers who were “almost exclusively yobbos, impaired drivers or motorcyclists – all of whom are basically immune to road safety messages”.

The zero tolerance policy just punished thousands of motorists for driving at 102 km/hr on a motorway. It made it impossible to legally pass a car doing 90 km/hr, so effectively slowed down all single lane roads.

The tolerance policy is an operational decision for Police, not the Government. However the Minister can tell the Police that he thinks it is a bad idea, and hopefully they will listen.

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The Mazengarb Report

January 3rd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington flew into a moral panic in 1954 after a teenage sex “gang” was found in the Hutt Valley.

Revelations that groups of Lower Hutt teenagers were meeting at a milk bar in Petone to have sex shocked the city.

Murky stories about young men on bikes and assignations by the banks of the river appalled parents and made them wonder what society was coming to.

There are clearly dark aspects to what went on, but most of it, though, was just teenagers having sex.

As they have done for several thousand years!

The Parker-Hulme murder in Christchurch a few months later – the source for Sir Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures – added to the outrage and convinced Sidney Holland’s National Government that it had to be seen to do something.

It appointed Wellington lawyer Oswald Mazengarb to head a commission.

Mazengarb was an eloquent and charming man, but also a puritanical moralist with a streak of fundamentalism.

So what did the report find:

In former times it was the custom for boys to take the initiative in seeking the company of girls; it was conventional for the girls to await any advances. Nowadays, girls do not always wait for an advance to be made to them

Scandal.

Perhaps the most startling feature is the changed mental attitude of many young people towards this evil. Some offend because they crave popularity or want to do what their friends are doing. Some assert a right to do what is regarded by religion, law, and convention as wrongful. It was reported that some of the girls were either unconcerned or unashamed, and even proud, of what they had done.

Those hussies. They were not ashamed of having sex.

One of the recommendations:

When crime serials are broadcast it should be made obvious that crime does not pay

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RIP Sir Ivor Richardson

January 2nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

One of New Zealand’s most respected judges, Sir Ivor Richardson, has died at the age of 84.

In a long and distinguished legal career, Sir Ivor rose to became president of the Court of Appeal. He was appointed a judge of the then Supreme Court in 1977 but was almost immediately appointed to the Court of Appeal, where he served from 1978 to 2002.

Richardson was president of the Court of Appeal from 1996 until his retirement at age 72.

Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias said he was a great New Zealander. “He had an unparalleled influence on New Zealand law during his long tenure as a judge, law teacher, and adviser,” she said.

“His work as an appellate judge for nearly three decades touched all areas of law and provided leading cases which remain authoritative today. In addition, his collegial approach to judging and his interest in better judicial administration meant that he has had a unique influence upon the operation of the courts.” …

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson, QC, also paid tribute to Richardson on behalf of the Government. “It is hard to think of anyone who has made a more substantive contribution to the law and social policy,” Finlayson said. “His was a career marked by excellence in everything he did.”

“Sir Ivor Richardson was unfailingly courteous and pleasant to appear before. But if you weren’t on top of your material, his questions would destroy your case very quickly.”

 

It says much about Sir Ivor that he was appointed to the Court of Appeal the same year as he was appointed to the High Court. He was made a member of the Privy Council in 1978. A huge loss to the legal profession, but especially to his family and friends.

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NZ Herald on economy

January 2nd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The dawn of a new year invites the mind to entertain endless possibilities, especially in a country so lucky. New Zealand enters 2015 with its dollar nearly as valuable as that of the signature “lucky country” next door. Three days ago Infratil and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund bought an Australian retirement village company for $670 million taking advantage of the rising kiwi. One swallow does not signal a summer of investment that would reverse the direction of transtasman ownership but it is another step of confidence.

When people rail against foreign investment, it is worth bearing in mind, that as our economy does well, it will be NZ companies investing overseas, and if we try and restrict foreign investment in NZ, then we risk being blocked ourselves.

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Stupidest jihadist yet

January 2nd, 2015 at 2:34 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Kiwi jihadist who claims to be fighting in Syria with the Islamic State has been mistakenly broadcasting his exact location after forgetting to turn off a tracking function on his phone.

Mohammad Daniel, also known as Abu Abdul Rahman, and formerly known as Mark John Taylor, has now deleted 45 posts from Twitter after discovering that he had been revealing his location to intelligence agencies and enemies keeping tabs on him.

Hilarious. His tweets are giving away his location.

In 2009, Daniel was arrested by Pakistan authorities while trying to gain access to an al-Qaeda and Taleban stronghold close to the Afghanistan border and was subsequently subjected to travel restrictions by the New Zealand Government.

It is worth noting that in 2009 he claimed not to be a jihadist:

He had been arrested trying to enter the al-Qaeda stronghold of Wana in Pakistan.

Mr Taylor told TV3’s 60 Minutes programme last night he went there only to find a Muslim wife.

“I didn’t have a death wish I was just looking for a lady for marriage.

“It was my mistake. People might call me stupid and dumb for making that mistake but that’s my problem.”

People with malignant motives, will of course lie about their motives. He’s now happy fighting with the Islamic State as they butcher infidels.

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A non emergency number for Police

January 2nd, 2015 at 1:10 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police are considering establishing a single national phone number for non-emergency calls to lighten the load on the 111 system.

An increase in people calling 111 over the past five years has prompted police to think about how to improve the service, and they say that a non-emergency number would mean they could better respond to high-priority incidents.

Figures provided to the Herald under the Official Information Act show police answered more than 628,801 111 calls last year – about 17,000 more than 2013.

They answered 88 per cent of those calls within 10 seconds, with most calls taking just four seconds to be picked up.

Mr Trappitt, who is the national prevention manager, said establishing a second non-emergency number was one of those strategies.

“It is potentially one of the options that we could explore and promote. We are having ongoing discussions.”

They’ve been talking about a non-emergency number for years, probably 10 – 15. Time to stop taling and just do it. Have a (say) 777 number for non-emergencies and 111 for emergencies.

Another option was a smartphone application that would allow people to call 111 and have their location immediately tracked by police.

Mr Trappitt said police, along with Fire Service and ambulance operators, had been in discussions with telecommunications providers and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about how GPS could be used to help with 111 calls.

That’s a great idea.

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Duke of Wellington dies

January 2nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Wellington City is named after the (1st) Duke of Wellington. It has always amazed me that there is no prominent mention of this in Wellington, let alone a statue of the man we’re named after.

The Guardian reports:

Valerian Wellesley, the 8th Duke of Wellington, who has died aged 99, was a courteous and reticent man who devoted much of his life to Stratfield Saye, the estate in Hampshire of his illustrious ancestor Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, and to the titles and landholdings abroad which had been conferred on the 1st Duke after he famously routed Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The 8th Duke combined his stately living with devotion to the British Army and the preservation of the countryside. He could be as dogged as his famous forebear about what he thought to be questions of family honour and practical politics. Preserving Stratfield Saye, which the 1st Duke had bought from the £600,000 conferred on him by the British government for his war services, was first on the list of his priorities.

The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo is on the 18th of June. It is one of the most significant battles in the history of the world.

The Duke’s military career includes 60 different battles. He was also Prime Minister of the UK twice, and died in 1852.

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NZ vs AU dollar

January 1st, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The New Zealand dollar rose to its highest against the Australian dollar since the Aussie was floated in 1983, as investors favour the outlook for the New Zealand economy where interest rates are set to rise further, compared with Australia where rates may fall.

The kiwi touched 95.93 Australian cents overnight, and was trading at 95.64 cents at 8am in Wellington, from 95.61 cents at 5pm yesterday.

Here’s what the NZ dollar has done vs the AU dollar since floating:

au dollar

Parity is not far off, but is a tough psychological barrier to beat.

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Eight Knights, Two Dames

December 31st, 2014 at 6:40 am by David Farrar

Top of the honours list is Sir Murray Brennan. Made a Grand Knight Companion of the NZ Order of Merit for his work against cancer. Sir Murray has been chair of surgery at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, the largest cancer centre in the world. He fundraises for Otago University and cancer research in New Zealand and has written more than 1,000 research papers.

Dame Adrienne Stewart is made DNZM for her work in promoting women in business, plus significant charitable and cultural contributions. She was the first female public company director in NZ, the first female chair of the Institute of Directors and was named Patron of the Year in 2009 by the Arts Foundation.

Dame Tariana Turia was and MP from 1996 to 2014. She was a Minister from 1999 to 2004 when she resigned from Labour to protest the Foreshore and Seabed Act. She was again a Minister from 2008 to 2014.

Sir Donald Rowlands has a near 50 year business career, including chief executive of Fisher & Paykel Industries, Chairman of Mainfreight and a director of Hamilton Jet. Sir Donald is also a gold medal winning rower.

Sir Neville Jordan is a technology entrepreneur and innovator. He was President of the Royal Society of NZ from 2006 to 2009. In 2012 he was awarded Wellingtonian of the Year. Born into poverty, he has a current net worth of over $60 million and founded microwave telecommunications company MAS Technology which achieved a NASDAQ listing.

Sir Paul Collins was the CEO of Brierley Investments in the 1980s. He also has been a top sports administrator as Chair of the NZ Sports Foundation, Chair of Sport NZ, a director of the Hurricanes and a director of NZ Rugby.

Sir Peter Williams QC is arguably NZ’s leading defence lawyer, having appeared in over 100 murder trials over 60 years. He is also a prominent penal reform campaigner.

Sir Ian Athfield is one of NZ’s top architects, if not the top.  He is a former president of the NZ Institute of Architects, has won over 60 national and international architecture awards and in Wellington designed the Civic Square, Wellington Library, and Chews Lane Precinct.

Justice Sir Graham Panckhurst was a High Court Judge from 1996 to 2014. He was also the chairman of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River mine disaster.

Many high achieving New Zealanders there, deservedly honoured.

UPDATE: Accidentally missed out Sir Brother Pat Lynch, for a lifetime of service to Catholic education. Has had a huge positive impact on many lives.

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You need 2.4 km of clear road to now overtake

December 28th, 2014 at 7:40 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide does the calculations:

Overtaking on the road safely and within the law is now all but impossible.

The speed limit on the open road is 100km/h. The police are applying zero tolerance. You can now be ticketed at 101km/h. The speed limit for heavy vehicles and cars pulling caravans, boats or trailers is 90km/h.

Do the maths. In good driving conditions we are advised to apply the “two-second rule”. At 90km/h that’s 50m. So you pull out 50m behind a truck and trailer, the truck and trailer is 20m long and you pull in once safely 50m past. You have to make 120m to pass safely.

If the truck is doing 90km/h and you stick to 100km/h it takes 43 seconds to gain that 120m.

At 100km/h you will have travelled 1.2km. You must allow for a car coming towards you at 100km/h. To pass safely you need 2.4km of clear road.

This is why there is a tolerance – to allow for situations where it is sensible to temporarily exceed the speed limit.

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Our improving health

December 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The annual NZ Health Survey was published this month. It is interesting to compare results with 2006/07. These include:

  • Over 75s who say they are in good or better health up from 80% to 87%
  • Smoking rate down from 20% to 17%
  • Under 18 smoking rate down from 16% to 8%
  • Hazardous drinking rate down from 18% to 16%
  • Under 18 hazardous drinking rate down from 20% to 14%
  • 18 – 24 year old hazadrous drinking rate down from 43% to 33%
  • Under 18 drinking rate down from 75% to 59%
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Dotcom loses in Supreme Court

December 23rd, 2014 at 12:55 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

The police raids on internet mogul Kim Dotcom’s mansion were legal, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The court has upheld a Court of Appeal decision that while the search warrants could have been more precisely written they were legal.

The decision is here.

Of interest is once again the Chief Justice is in a minority of one – she voted in favour of the warrants being invalid, but the other four Supreme Court Justices disagreed.

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Monday Motivator

December 22nd, 2014 at 11:45 am by Richard Hume

Monday Motivator 35

This photo was taken while sitting on Totaranui Beach in the Abel Tasman National Park – several years ago around this time of year. The dusk light was superb and it made for a very nice scene to capture. (no link to bigger version sorry)

This is just a quick note to say Happy Christmas and holidays to the Kiwibloggers.

I have been incredibly busy on a number of projects which explains my absence from posting here for a little while. Getting through some of it now and looking forward to January with a new website and some other exciting things to roll out.

Have a great summer.

Cheers

YouTube: Timeless – A Panoramic Journey

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male-only scholarships illegal?

December 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The number of male teachers in New Zealand schools continues to decline despite the Ministry of Education’s attempts to fix the gender imbalance.

In the past 10 years the number of male teachers in both primary and secondary schools has dropped. Last year men made up only 16.5 per cent of primary school teachers and 41.2 per cent at high schools. …

Rotorua principal and former Secondary Principals’ Association president Patrick Walsh recalled the drive for scholarships but said a decision by the Human Rights Commission halted the initiative.

He said despite male teachers being in a minority, scholarships were only available for women, disabled people and those from varying ethnic backgrounds.

The commission had said it would be unlawful to offer male-only scholarships.

Really?

A female-only scholarship is legal, but not a male-only one – despite the lack of men in teaching? That’s daft.

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The DCC fraud

December 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

Deloitte’s report into fraud at the Dunedin City Council has proved as damning as suspected.

Not only did it involve the pocketing of money from the sale of 152 vehicles, but it appears former team leader Brent Bachop was at the ”centre of” other potential issues.

The debacle is an indictment on the council and a serious warning to others. …

What makes it worse is the way several ”red flags” were ignored or investigated insufficiently.

These included Mr Bachop’s excessive lifestyle as well as questions over the years, including from Cr Lee Vandervis.

A Councillor actually raised issues around Bachop, and the Council fobbed him off. They just got Bachop to respond to the allegations, and didn’t investigate them. Shameful.

Were they too slack, too trusting, too complacent?

All of the above?

A classic instance concerns the finding Mr Bachop spent $102,908 on a council card – which was also used for vehicle serving and maintenance – on miscellaneous items, including soft drinks, chips, milk, chocolate biscuits, bread and fuel for personal vehicles.

Mr Bachop’s manager regularly signed off those expenses. Giving the benefit of the doubt, it would appear the manager simply did not check the details.

$100,000 on your work credit card, and no one said anything? Hey, it is just ratepayers money!

I sign off expense claims for others and often ask questions about what an item was for, especially if non trivial.

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So whose mistake was this?

December 21st, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A review is under way into how $85,000 was mistakenly siphoned from a Palmerston North school’s bank account by the Ministry of Education, forcing it into a $34,000 overdraft.

And was the Ministry at fault?

The ministry says a staff member was paid out of a “Teachers’ Salaries” account throughout the year but Ross changed the funding code so the staff member could be paid out of a “Bulk Grant” account, which was the school’s money.

“Schools sometimes do this as a way of managing their staffing allocation,” Education Payroll services deputy secretary Cathy Magiannis said.

“But when the school did this it made a mistake while entering an instruction into Novopay Online, which resulted in a reversal of the funding code for the whole year.”

So it was user error?

That’s like blaming the bank for going into overdraft, when you asked them to transfer too much money from your account.

Minister responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce released a report this week showing payroll processing was going well, with few complaints.

The December 10 pay run saw 92,962 people paid $227.95 million, with complaints and notifications received by 0.08 per cent of staff compared with 0.19 per cent at the same time last year.

0.08% is remarkably low.

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An independent inquiry into the Peter Ellis case?

December 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Dunedin author Lynley Hood and former National leader Don Brash have written to the new Justice Minister Amy Adams asking for an independent inquiry into the Peter Ellis case.

Ellis was convicted on 13 charges of abusing children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Creche.

His supporters have always argued he was convicted on unreliable evidence from children interviewed in a leading way by specialist interviewers.

“We ask you to commission an overseas judge to review the entire case. We believe this is the only realistic option left,” Hood and Brash say in the letter.

The letter says:

- Though more than 20 years have passed since the controversial conviction of Peter Ellis, disquiet over the Civic Creche case remains widespread and ongoing and extends to some of the most senior judges in the country.

- In the history of New Zealand criminal justice, no petition to Parliament has been supported by such a weight of political, legal and scholarly authority as the 2003 petition calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

I believe the Ellis convictions are very unsafe, and fully support an inquiry into the entire case.

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Fewer NZers leaving than in recent history

December 20th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

migrationnov14

The latest monthly migrations stats were out yesterday and they show fewer NZers leaving than any other time in the last 20 years, and also a high for Kiwis returning.

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The Rena report

December 20th, 2014 at 7:47 am by David Farrar

The TAIC report into the Rena is here. A key section:

The Rena’s second mate took over the watch shortly after midnight on 4 October. He calculated that the Rena would arrive at the port of Tauranga pilot station at 0300 at the ship’s then current speed. Times for ships entering and leaving Tauranga Harbour are limited by the depth of water and the strength of the tidal currents in the entrance channel. Tauranga Harbour Control informed the second mate that the latest time the Rena could take the harbour pilot on board was 0300.

The planned course to the Tauranga pilot station was to pass two nautical miles north of Astrolabe Reef before making the final adjustment in course to the pilot station. The second mate decided to reduce the two miles to one mile in order to save time. The second mate then made a series of small course adjustments towards Astrolabe Reef to make the shortcut. In doing so he altered the course 5 degrees past the required track and did not make an
allowance for any compass error or sideways “drift”, and as a consequence the Rena was making a ground track directly for Astrolabe Reef. Meanwhile the master had been woken and arrived on the bridge to prepare for arrival at the port.

The master and second mate discussed preparations for arrival at the pilot station. The master then assumed control of the ship, having received virtually no information on where the ship was, where it was heading, and what immediate dangers to navigation he needed to consider.

During this period of handover no-one was monitoring the position of the ship. At 0214 the Rena ran aground at full speed on Astrolabe Reef.

Bold is mine. Basically just incompetence.

Around 1,300 birds were known to die from the oil spill which followed the crash.  Some say only one in ten are found so it could be as high as 13,000.

To put it in comparison:

 

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A video from the next US Ambassador to NZ

December 19th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A nice effort. Ambassador Gilbert was confirmed by the US Senate on the 12th of December in a voice vote. he is fortunate to have had the nomination confirmed before the control of the Senate changed. He would have still been confirmed, but a vote may not have occurred for many more months.

Personally I think it is silly the US Senate still confirms Ambassadors. In the 1700s and 1800s Ambassadors were very powerful positions as they could not communicate with their home Governments quickly, and would often negotiate major issues of behalf of their countries. Now their positions are much less important. They are still important positions, but they do not set policy in any way.

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A Raglan to Sydney cable

December 19th, 2014 at 6:54 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Spark, Vodafone and Telstra today confirmed a less ambitious plan to lay a separate subsea communications cable between Raglan and Sydney at a cost of US$70 million, which the companies said would make New Zealand’s international connections more varied and secure.

The three companies said they would start construction of the 2300 kilometre Tasman Global Access cable early next year and expected to complete it by the middle of 2016.

French multinational Alcatel-Lucent has been awarded the contract to lay the cable, which will comprise two pairs of optical-fibre with a total capacity of 20 terabits per second.

That’s a lot. By comparison Southern Cross has capacity of around 12 Tb/s (of which around 3.6 are lit).

20 Tb/s would allow one million users to be pulling 20 Mb/s each.

Good to see some increased competition in the cable area.

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Hehir on the Kiwi in Bali

December 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes:

De Malmanche lived down the road from our family farm and I went to school with his boys. It was a very small school and I don’t think the roll ever got to 30 when I was there. Like many rural schools, it has now closed. It only survived as long as it did, however, because all the parents pitched in and invested their time to keep things going.

The de Malmanches never had a lot of money but they were reliable contributors to the school and community. Tony cleaned and maintained the swimming pool. He was also into fishing and diving and one year he helped the school to set up a saltwater aquarium.

This Christmas, however, he will be sitting in an Indonesian jail awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges. In the worst-case scenario, he could face the death penalty. If that sentence is handed down, he will then sit for years in an Indonesian prison waiting for it to be carried out. Then, one night, he will be suddenly woken up, driven to a field in some remote place, tied to a wooden cross and shot to death.

That is the grim reality of the death penalty in Indonesia.

De Malmanche maintains his innocence and his family have protested that he simply does not have the intellectual capacity to be an international drug trafficker. They say he has been unwittingly caught up in a sophisticated scam. Police in Bali, on the other hand, say they are confident he is part of an international drug ring.

Based only on my own experience of the man, I have to admit I find that proposition hard to believe.

I tend to think he is very stupid rather than an international criminal.

However, questions of guilt or innocence are really beside the point. Tony de Malmanche is facing execution by a foreign power. Whether or not he has committed a crime, we should recoil at the prospect of a New Zealander facing such a barbarous fate over drug charges.

The New Zealand Government is providing consular support and has said that, if the death penalty is handed down, it will make representations to the Indonesian Government. That is how it should be. Protecting New Zealanders abroad should always be at the forefront of our foreign affairs agenda.

He has broken Indonesian laws and will have to face a penalty for that. But I don’t support the death penalty for anyone, and where it is legal, should be for the worst criminals only.

Quite apart from all that, however, are the costs of defending the charge. These are likely to be significant – death penalty cases inevitably involve complex procedures and appeals. Lawyer Tony Ellis has speculated that the bill might be as much as $100,000.

Somehow, the family are going to have to scrape this together. It won’t be easy and they’ve asked for help. There is a page at the Spark Foundation’s site givealittle.co.nz where people can make a donation to the Antony de Malmanche Legal Fund.

I am going to end with a transparent plea to readers to go to that site and make a donation.

People with an interest in New Zealand politics are prone to boasting about how compassionate they are. But there is so much more to compassion than voting a particular way once every three years. Some things are just much more important than politics.

A fellow countryman caught up in a frightening foreign legal process, where his very life could be at stake, is one of those things.

Over $10,000 has been donated so far.

I’ve just donated also. Not because I think he has done no wrong. But because I don’t want him to be without good legal representation.

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GDP up 1.0% in last quarter

December 18th, 2014 at 11:09 am by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

Gross domestic product (GDP) was up 1.0 percent in the September 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. The growth was driven by primary industries, which increased 5.8 percent

“This is some of the strongest growth in primary industries for 15 years,” national accounts manager Gary Dunnet said. “Milk production had a good start to the season, while oil exploration, and oil and gas extraction also grew.”

The key drivers in the September 2014 quarter were agriculture (up 4.7 percent), and mining (up 8.0 percent). In contrast, forestry and logging was down 4.0 percent.

Manufacturing activity also grew (2.0 percent), led by increases in metal product manufacturing (up 4.9 percent), and machinery and equipment manufacturing (up 3.7 percent).

“Service industries were mixed this quarter, with rises in telecommunications and retail being offset by falls in transport and business services,” Mr Dunnet said.

GDP growth for the year ended September 2014 was 2.9 percent.

That’s pretty solid growth. Manufacturing up 2% is a weird sort of crisis.

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