Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

You can eat yourself to death

August 21st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At the time of his death, the 37-year-old was living at a supported living home with three others. The accommodation was provided by IDEAS Service, one of our biggest accommodation and support providers for the intellectually disabled.

On April 7, he managed to steal keys, allowing him access to IDEA Services’ food stores, where he gorged himself on at least three loaves of bread, eight buns and 24 muesli bars.

He had Prader Willi Syndrome, symptoms including learning difficulties, and obsessive eating. So it is very sad his care was not better.

I’m amazed that anyone could actually eat that much food. That’s at least 4,500 from the bread, 1,000 from the buns and 5,000 calories from the muesli bars. So he managed to eat five times the recommended daily limit in one session.

An average dinner is around 600 calories, so 10,500 calories is around 17 dinners!

No tag for this post.

110 km/hr is sensible for good roads

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

Stuff reports:

Drivers’ appetite for a 110kmh speed limit is ramping up.

An AA report on attitudes to speed found the number of members who want to increase the open road speed limit to 110kmh has reached a strong majority.

Support for increasing the speed limit on top-rated motorways has risen steadily since 2013, from 44 per cent of members to 71 per cent.

The report was compiled from a number of AA member surveys and polls over the past four years.

A 110kmh limit has been considered for more than a year for motorways built as part of the Government’s Roads of National Significance programme.

The roads that could qualify would be flat, straight, have at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier and good shoulder space.

They seem like sensible criteria.

The proposed 110kmh speed limit was about as fast as many people could imagine themselves driving, the report found.

AA asked members how fast they would go if there were no speed limits. Men would go as fast as 115kmh, while woman peaked at 105kmh. 

Depends. On a good road with a good car, I find 120 km/hr is a pretty good speed


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Coke blaming

August 21st, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Coca-Cola staff in Invercargill are understood to be on alert after angry phone calls were made to the company by a man whose partner’s death was linked to excessive coke consumption in 2010.

Christopher Hodgkinson, the partner of 30-year-old Natasha Harris who drank up to 8 litres of coke a day for several years before she died in 2010, said he made several calls to the company one day last week.

I’m waiting for someone to eat eight kilograms of celery a day, and then when they die, have their death blamed on celery.

Hodgkinson blames Coca-Cola for his partner’s death, and said he had asked the company to help him get his eight children back in the phone calls.

He had been living with Harris and their children prior to her death but lost custody in the months afterwards, he said.

If he has lost custody, despite being the only parent, then that suggests very deep issues. And they have nothing to do with Coke.

He had been given the “royal run around ” by Coca-Cola on the phone and had been angry, but had not threatened anyone in the calls, he said.

Even making the calls is bizarre. And angry parents who have lost custody of kids often do very violent things, sadly. I think it is no surprise Coke staff are being vigilant.

Maybe he could stop phoning them up, rather than go to the media.

The incident comes four years after Hodgkinson rebutted Coca-Cola claims he had made death threats against its Invercargill staff. 

This makes me wonder why he lost custody of his kids.

He had been involved in an incident which resulted in him doing jail time for a home invasion offence before being released in October, he said. 

Oh that is why. So not really anything to do with Coke.

Assistance from Coca-Cola would allow him to get into a big house which he believed would help him get his kids back.

Oh actually he is demanding they give him some money. His behaviour sounds like it is verging on the illegal – if you threaten and demand money, that is a crime.


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The Thirty Year Infrastructure Plan

August 20th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Bill English has announced:

The Thirty Year New Zealand Infrastructure Plan 2015 sets out New Zealand’s response to the infrastructure challenges we will face over the next three decades, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“Infrastructure supports people’s daily lives, even if they don’t think about it all that often – unless something goes wrong,” Mr English says.

The plan is here.

Some key details:

  • Current government infrastructure assets of $116 billion
  • A further $50 billion planned for next ten years
  • Local government infrastructure assets of $120 billion
  • In 30 years we will have 1.2 million more people living here, including 716,000 in Auckland
  • The schooling estate is on average 42 years old
  • Parts of the water network are 100 years old
  • Half the social housing stock is over 42 years old
  • Cost of renewing water network assets over next 15 years could be $30 to $50 billion

Our current infrastructure consists of:

  • 10,886 kms of state highways
  • 3,703 kms of local roads
  • 721,700 hectares of irrigated land
  • 42,312 GWh of electricity
  • 12,000 km of national transmission grid
  • 35,500 barrels of oil per day
  • 724,253 end users able to connect to fibre
  • 239,159 rural households able to access wireless broadband
  • 4,000 kms of rail
  • $45 billion of water assets
  • 19 prisons
  • 2,532 schools
  • 38 hospitals
  • 16 sea ports
  • 308 libraries
  • 52 landfills
  • 371 police stations
  • 471 museums

Quite interesting when you look at them all together.


Edwards on Hosking

August 19th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Edwards writes:

I find myself in the improbable position of coming to the defence of broadcaster Mike Hosking. …

Meanwhile the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little, has accused Hosking of “making no attempt at objectivity”.  One might have expected a more robust critique. I’m told the words “right wing little prick” have been simply flying down the corridors of the Opposition Wing to describe Mr Hosking.


I think this critique rather misses the point. While I’d be surprised to discover that Hosking is a closet member of the Parnell, Remuera or Epsom branches of the Labour Party  – total membership five! – I’d also risk my bottom dollar that he isn’t a member of any political party. This is, or should be the default position for any broadcaster working in the field of news or current affairs.

What Hosking betrays on Seven Sharp, on commercial radio and in his writing is not political bias but social conservatism. The two may overlap from time to time, but are inherently different. It’s entirely possible and even commonplace to be left wing and socially conservative.

Another way of putting it might be to say that Hosking is somewhat “old fashioned” or “old world” in his approach to many issues. This is reflected in his relationship to Toni Street whom, his manner suggests, he respects as a woman (meaning because she is a woman), but less, it seems to me, as a broadcaster of equal ability and status. He “talks down” to her in a somewhat paternal manner.

So I entirely disagree that Hosking is “a National Party stooge” or that he makes “no attempt at objectivity”. I’m sure he does his very best. But two things make objectivity a challenge for him. The first I’ve referred to before – Hosking is perhaps the most personally opinionated broadcaster I’ve come across in half a century in the business. The second is the social conservatism I’ve described above. Hosking’s values are “old school”.

There is a difference between having a world-view and being biased. Brian Edwards correctly makes that distinction.

John Campbell has a centre-left world view. Mike Hosking has a centre-right world view. Neither are biased. I think both are good broadcasters and want both on them on the air. I think New Zealand is well served by having diversity of thought in our media.



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Sign the petition to support the All Blacks

August 19th, 2015 at 9:59 am by David Farrar


We all want the All Blacks to win (again) the Rugby World Cup. They’re looking good, but victory is by no means assured.

Over the last few years the Labour Party has declared a number of issues to be a crisis – the manufacturing sector, power prices, domestic milk prices, Auckland house prices and the dairy industry, and demanded the Government take action.

Without fail, each time Labour has declared something to be in crisis and demanded Government intervention, that industry or issue has immediately and remarkably improved. Just this week global diary prices rebounded for the first time this year, just one week after Labour declared they were in crisis and demanded the Government act.

So this petition implores the Labour Party to declare New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks to be in crisis. Based on history, this should propel the All Blacks to victory in the Rugby World Cup.

So support the All Blacks by petitioning Labour to declare NZ Rugby in crisis.

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A dead cow bounce or more?

August 19th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Dairy prices bounced nearly 15 per cent in the fortnightly Global Dairy Trade auction overnight.

The rise is welcome relief for the beleaguered industry, with Fonterra earlier this month slashing the price it pays farmers for milk solids to $3.85 per kilogram from $5.25.

The drop in the payout came after dairy prices fell to half what they had been in 2013/14.

The overnight rise in prices followed 10 consecutive falls since mid-March.

 The overall price index rose 14.8 per cent, with whole milk powder up 19.1 per cent.

Will be interesting to see if this represents a trend, or is a one off bounce.


Build up and out

August 18th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A plan for a five-storey apartment block in Birkenhead is fuelling the intensification-versus-housing choice debate.

Many residents of Rawene Rd are upset at the proposal for their no-exit street, which features historic villas built for the Chelsea Sugar Works.

The planned 56 units, all with two bedrooms and some 50sq m, are a classic case of overdevelopment, says one of the residents, Sharon Bonfield. 

She accepts intensification is going to occur in Birkenhead, saying two other developments for 50 townhouses and apartments have been approved for Rawene Rd.

However, it is the size and scale of the block on business-zoned land which have upset the locals. The Birkenhead Residents Association has questioned the design and impact on the community.

The land is zoned for business. I’d rather have a nice new apartment block there than an office block.

There is no real  alternative to building both up and out.

Resident Steve White said the small apartments, inadequate parking, virtually no landscaping, excessive height and street shading from the building would adversely affect the environment. He said it was a shame that the council did not follow Vancouver, the Canadian seaport city that local politicians and planners use as a benchmark to make Auckland the “world’s most liveable city”.

This is Vancouver where the average detached house price is C$1.44 million and rising at $250,000 a year?

Not sure that is the best model to be promoting.



Bureaucracy gone crazy

August 18th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Up to five days warning is needed to fly a toy aircraft in Wellington.

New rules governing remote control aircraft came into effect earlier this month so when lawyer Leith Townshend got a remote control helicopter from his partner for his birthday, he thought he better play safe.

He emailed Wellington City Council asking what he needed to do to fly his helicopter within the rules.

He was told he had to file his flight on Airways NZ’s Airshare website.

Airways require a complete flight plan of his toy, including latitude, longitude, the intended radius, the height of his flight above sea level, the height of his launch pad above sea level, and whether he had a certified transponder.

He also needed to refer to the Civil Aviation Act, supply a written description of the operating area, how long he intended his flight to take, and describe his emergency procedure.

His helicopter weighed less than 1kg.

“I understand why the rules are important for large drones. For some of the smaller stuff it seems crazy – to get children to fill flight plans,” Townshend said.

Crazy, crazy, crazy. This stuff drives me buts – taking all the joy out of a kid’s toy.


Least surprising news this week

August 18th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Organisers of a troubled water slide event that originated in New Zealand have scrapped the business model after the venture failed across the Tasman.

The Monster Slide event moved to Australia in March, leaving behind angry New Zealand customers owed refunds and suppliers claiming they are owed thousands of dollars.

Monster Slide Australia Pty Ltd was to run the Australian events and is linked with Monster Slide in New Zealand, which was operated by Trill Productions and its director, Jamie Templeton – a Wellington entrepreneur.

Despite the controversy in New Zealand, it was hoped organisers could make it a success in Australia. Nearly six months into the venture, they have failed to run three advertised events and have now torn up their business model.

I thought their business model was dupe people into buying tickets for an event they never actually provide.


A formidable All Black display

August 16th, 2015 at 7:14 am by David Farrar

It’s a good display from the All Blacks when they score five tries against any of the top tier teams. To do it against Australia was a formidable display of power, pressure and aggression. One of their best matches, which kept the Bledisloe in New Zealand for the 12th time in a row (and 13 consecutive wins)

It was also the last time Richie McCaw would play on Eden Park, and a great game to farewell him, but also celebrate his becoming the most capped player in the history of international rugby.

McCaw is to rugby today, what Colin Meads was to the generation before me.

Amazingly it has been 21 years since the All Blacks lost at Eden Park.

I can recall the late 1990s when Australia beat NZ in the Bledisloe for five years in a row. We started to wonder if we’d ever win it back.

The Herald has some comments on McCaw becoming the most capped player in history:

“Without a doubt he is the greatest All Black of all time. I am convinced that in my lifetime there will not be another player who will captain New Zealand for as many tests, or play as many tests for the All Blacks. He is a remarkable athlete, an outstanding leader and a truly great New Zealander.
John Key, Prime Minister

“I have seen for myself how part of his charm is the way he interacts with the fans and his connectivity with the community is immense. He is a legend. There is even a very small part of me that would like to see Richie and the All Blacks defend their World Cup in the final.”
Nick Farr-Jones, World Cup-winning former Wallaby captain

“As an All Black and Crusaders rugby fan, I feel like I’ve spent half my life cheering on Richie McCaw. He hasn’t quite been around that long, but there’s no denying his stature in the game. For my money he is the greatest All Black we’ve ever had, and therefore the greatest player the world’s ever had!”
Mike McRoberts, TV3 News presenter

“He is so courageous, yet so humble and is a man who is always looking to improve. He is first out the shed and last on the bus. He made others come up to his standards. This has been immensely important to the All Blacks.”
Ian Jones, former All Black

“To me he’s simply the greatest All Black. The toughest, fittest and hardest. 142 brutal and physical full test matches. He’s been to war for his country. At times fighting with one functioning foot.”
Duncan Garner, radio host

“I think all the kids up here just see Richie as theirs. He is Kurow’s most famous kid.”
Deidre Senior, Waitaki Valley School principal

“A leader that others want to follow. Richie is uncompromising and pushes the boundaries to the nth degree. Fair but tough. Winners want the ball and they want to charge forward when others are crippled by fear … In the heat of competition, when his teammates are looking for someone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck — up steps Richie.”
Jenny-May Coffin, broadcaster and former Silver Fern

Can’t wait for the Rugby World Cup to begin!

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Fewer retailers and bars selling booze to minors

August 15th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The number of people appearing before the courts for selling alcohol to minors halved between 2012 and 2014, despite an increase in police stings.

Police figures show 82 people were prosecuted for selling alcohol to minors at on and off-licences New Zealand wide in 2012 operations and 81 in 2013. In 2014 that figure nearly halved to 42. …

Police carried out 2839 controlled purchase operations in 2012 and caught 258 premises selling alcohol to minors. In 2013 they carried out 2771 and caught 232. In 2014 they carried out 3013 and caught 224.

So the strike rate in 2012 was 9.1%, in 2013 it was 8.4% and in 2014 it was 7.4%.

Hopefully this means that bars and retailers are being more stringent in checking for ID.

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Why does Auckland Council own 13 golf courses?

August 15th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Council is reviewing its ownership of 13 golf courses worth more than $40 million, as pressure builds to find space for thousands of new homes in the city.

Developers say the land could be used for up to 8000 houses and apartments if the entire 200ha-plus area was made available, easing the city’s chronic shortfall of about 30,000 homes.

Golf courses are commercial propositions. No need for the Council to own them.

However, the exercise comes as the council is urgently looking for new sources of revenue and space to build houses within existing city limits. Several golf courses, such as Waiheke and Waitemata in Devonport, occupy real estate worth millions but pay only peppercorn rents as little as $1 a year.

Outrageous. Subsidised golf. General parks are open to everyone to use for recreation. These are available only to members of the associated golf club. The golf club should buy the land from the Council or at least pay market rent for it.

Figures obtained by the Weekend Herald show many golf courses enjoy historic sweetheart deals: the Waitemata Golf Club and the Waiheke Golf Club each pay only $1 a year for their privileged positions, surrounded by hundreds of 800sq m private sections paying $4000 a year in rates.

Those two clubs alone occupy 42.7ha, while Omaha, near the holiday home of golfing Prime Minister John Key, returns $5 a year to ratepayers.

That’s 427,000 square metres or 534 800 sq metre sections. So the rates alone from those sections would be $2.14 million.

Hobsonville Land Company chief executive Chris Aiken estimated 5000 to 6000 houses could be built on 200ha but more-intensive use could see up to 8000 residences.

He called for a close examination of all under-utilised Auckland land, not just that used for sports or recreation.



Oh dear

August 14th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Dunedin woman has been left $2500 out of pocket after a man she met online took advantage of her by telling her what she “wanted to hear”.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said a man from America added her on Facebook and started messaging her.

“He was saying things like he needed a friend.

Most days I get someone I don’t know messaging me on Facebook. I block them and report them as spam unless it is an obviously genuine contact. Those that start with “Hello” tend not to be.

Within a day he started saying he loved me and could see a future with me,” she said.

Oh dear.

That carried on for two weeks before he told her he had sent her a parcel with valuable gifts in it, and gave her the track and trace number.

She then received emails from a courier company in Malaysia asking for $2500 in tax.

She got out a loan and paid the $2500

No, no, no.

before the courier company emailed again saying she would have to pay $15,000 for insurance – so she called the man who told her there was $600,000, a diamond ring, a watch, some jewellery and an iPhone 6.

Yes, total strangers often send $600,000 of presents to someone after chatting to them online for two weeks.

“He said ‘please, please, please’ and I’m the type of person who will do anything for anyone so I went to the bank to get another loan. That’s when the lady there said I think we’re being scammed, I think we need to go and see the police.”

Good bank lady.


The Ministry of Speeding

August 14th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Staff at the agency charged with making our roads safer have been caught illegally hooning in work cars at least 8500 times in nine months – twice at 145km/h – and not one will get a ticket.

The speeding staff at the NZ Transport Agency include a member of the senior leadership team and a handful of managers.

In a three-month sample of the data, at least 45 of NZTA’s 139 cars were found to have been driven “consistently at speeds over 110km/h and sustained high speed over a number of kilometres”.

A NZ Herald analysis of data obtained through the Official Information Act found 8500 occasions on which NZTA cars were driven faster than 110 km/h – well over any unofficial tolerance applied to speed enforcement. There were 910 instances where the cars were driven at speeds greater than 120km/h – and 130 instances of speeds more than 130km/h.

Of those, eight people exceeded 140km/h, with at least one going more than 145km/h.

Good detective work by the Herald.

How stupid do you have to be to speed when you are in an NZTA work car, with GPS.

Minister of Transport Simon Bridges described the data as disappointing and embarrassing. “To say I’m unimpressed would be one of my big understatements. I’m very disappointed … You’ve got a government agency here that is a key player in road safety and in many cases it has not led by example.”

Mr Bridges, who has not had a speeding ticket since becoming an MP: “That’s certainly something I don’t want to be. I’ve directly contacted both the chair and chief executive on learning about this. I’ve made my views and expectations crystal clear. I’ve sought assurances from them both that … speeding will come down. It is embarrassing.”

Chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said the speeding was “unacceptable”. He said staff identified as exceeding the speed limit have “had a formal conversation with their manager”. Asked if that was the same as a verbal warning, he agreed.

If particular staff have routinely sped at very high speeds (say over 120), then I think more than that may be needed. This is not them as private citizens, but them as NZTA staff, using NZTA vehicles, on NZTA business.

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38 year olds and alcohol

August 14th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A new study has dispelled the myth that having drunken sex before waking to a world of regret is only common among young New Zealanders.

Depends on your definition of common. The study found 13% of 38 year olds had regrets, which means 87% did not. Not sure I’d call that common.

It also reveals Kiwis are more likely to have at least one heavy drinking session a week at the age of 38 than when they were 32. 

But it also reveals that are more likely to have had no heavy drinking sessions at all.

The University of Otago study has shown drinking alcohol before sex remains common among people approaching middle age and can lead to sexually transmitted diseases and abortion. 

Linking two things here, which are quite different.

Yes many 38 year olds have alcohol before sex. If you have a glass of wine over dinner with your partner and then you have sex, that counts as alcohol before sex. Is that somehow bad? It is not surprise that 82% of 38 year olds have said they sometimes have alcohol before sex

Those who have regretful sex with bad conseqences is far less common – only 13%.

“We feel young people drink a lot because we see a lot of it, but really the whole population drinks a lot,” the study’s lead author Professor Jennie Connor said.

The study found that 53% of 38 year old men and 73% of 38 year old women have had no heavy drinking occasions (20% and 35%) or rare (less than monthly) ones (33% and 39%).

The definition of heavy drinking is not apparent in the article, but I presume it is four or more standard drinks. So share a bottle of wine over dinner and that is a heavy drinking occasion.

When they were assessed at 38 years of age, 8 per cent of men and almost 15 per cent of women in the study said they usually or always drunk alcohol before having sex in the previous 12 months. Only 20 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women said they never did so.

The actual data is:

  • Always 0.5% men/1.6% women
  • Usually 8%/13%
  • Sometimes 42%/40%
  • Rarely 30%/30%
  • Never 20%/15

I don’t see any problem with the 92% of 38 year old men who sometimes, rarely or never have alcohol before sex, or 85% of women. So the problem group is around in 12 men and one in 7 women.

About 14 per cent of men and 12 per cent of women reported some adverse effects of drinking before sex in that year, including regretting sex and failure to use contraception or condoms.

Only 13% have had an adverse effect, which means 87% have not.

The study showed that drinking heavily at least once a week was more common at 38 years of age than it had been at 32.

Yes, but not mentioned is not drinking at all also more common at age 38. Only the bad data has been highlighted by the author.

The change in heavy drinking occasions were:

  • Never 11% to 20% for men/34% to 35% for women
  • Less than monthly 34% to 33%/30% to 39%
  • Monthly to less than weekly 34% to 24%/19% to 17%
  • Weekly 21% to 24%/7% to 10%

So if we group never and less than monthly together as light and weekly to monthly as heavy then the data is:

  • Light drinking men – from 45% to 53%
  • Light drinking women – from 74% to 73%
  • Heavy drinking men – from 55% to 47%
  • Heavy drinking women – from 26% to 27%

So the argument that heavy drinking is more common at age 38 than 32 is not supported. Women have stayed much the same, and men are having fewer heavy drinking occasions.

Note I have done this post based on reading the actual academic article, and the data. That requires more work than just repeating the press release.


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Best Air New Zealand safety video to date

August 14th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Love the Men in Black theme.


Auckland house prices dropped $20,000 last month

August 13th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The median Auckland house sale price dropped $20,000 last month, according to the Real Estate Institute out this morning, following Barfoot & Thompson sales data which also showed the same trend.

The latest REINZ figures showed the Auckland region’s median price fell from $755,000 to June to $735,000 last month, down 2.65 per cent.

Shouldn’t read too much into a monthly change, but if it continued for another couple of months that might indicate the bubble is bursting.

Later this year the new tax rules for investment properties take effect, and also the Reserve Bank’s stricter lending rations for Auckland and for property investors. They may have an impact also – or may even be impacting already.

UPDATE: Once again Labour’s curse may have worked. They declare something to be a crisis, and it immediately improves.


The Kelly van Gaalen case

August 13th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

Our politicians will be very pleased with themselves. Judge John McDonald has done their bidding and last week jailed a Kaikohe mother of three, 33-year-old Kelly van Gaalen, for two years after police found a bucket of dried marijuana at her home.

The cops had turned up, not because the van Gaalen residence was a tinny house, but in response to a 111 cry for help from husband Jasper van Gaalen in the aftermath of a violent armed home invasion.

Three Kaikohe men were subsequently sent to prison for the attack, but the police also found 684g of dried marijuana in the house and two plants outside, and charged the couple with growing cannabis for supply.

Two years jail for 684 grams of cannabis is just insane. And what message does it send out to people that if you have a small amount of cannabis at your home, don’t call the Police when armed invaders are about to kill you – in case you get two years in jail.

The Northern Advocate reported Judge McDonald as saying there was no evidence of commercial use, but that Parliament had set the upper limit for possession for personal use at 28g, and “it is not for this court to comment whether that is a just law or not”.

He added that “to say this sentencing has troubled me is an understatement”. That didn’t stop him from imposing a draconian punishment.

He said he had to be consistent with sentences imposed for similar offences. The blogosphere has been alive with examples showing how wrong this claim appears.

On June 27, for example, the Ashburton Guardian reported the case of an Israeli couple caught red-handed with 6kg of dried cannabis, and a sophisticated indoor growing operation at their residence. There was evidence of 54 plants and a master plant for propagation. Yet Judge Noel Welsh discharged them without conviction in return for a $2000 donation to the Salvation Army.

On July 4, Legalise Cannabis Party candidate in the recent Northland byelection Maki Herbert was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention after being found with 153 plants and convicted of cultivation for supply.


I’d expect a prison sentence as a last resort, not a first resort for a crime like this. Other Judges have shown discretion with sentencing, yet Judge McDonald did not.

Mrs van Gaalen has appealed against her sentence but rots away in Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, her application for bail denied, while her local community raises funds for her appeal.

I’m sure it will be over-turned on appeal. And she should be given bail until the appeal is held.

Mrs van Gaalen seems the living evidence. The recipient of one of Northland’s 15 Local Hero medals, she was chairwoman of the Kaikohe Community Arts Council, a member of the local Community Board and promotions manager for the Kaikohe Business Association.

In court, her business association boss, Steve Sangster, praised her achievements and the pride she had instilled in the town.

I hope she gets bail and gets the sentence reduced to something more appropriate.

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So who provides the water and sewerage?

August 13th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Manurewa property owner who owes $11,000 in rates has lost her home in a court ordered mortgagee sale.

The unrepentant owner had refused to back down, saying she does not recognise Auckland Council’s authority and her property is not for sale.

“I don’t see how those people can come in and take my house.”

Quite easy. It is called the law.

Council general manager accounting services Sharmaine Naidoo said Ms Marsh had made no rates payments since August 6, 2010, and currently owed $11,781.27.

“Council has sent four rates notices and around eight reminder letters to the ratepayer each year, however they have been returned to council.

So why did she stop paying?

Ms Marsh, who works for KiwiRail, told the Herald she had paid her rates to the rightful landowner – Arikinui o Tuhoe – and she refused to recognise the council’s authority over the land.

Does Tuhoe provide water to her former house? Do they provide sewerage?

“The house is not their house to take. I own the house which is fully paid for.”

You did own it. No longer.

Though she could afford to pay the outstanding rates, she refused to do so. The issue was not a Maori land rights issue “as such”. “It’s got everything to do with the rights of people all over.” Asked if she was prepared to lose her house, she said: “I’m certain that’s not going to happen.

“I don’t give them permission to sell it. It’s my home and they want to sell my home for $11,000. It’s a kick in the teeth. Who has the right to do that?”

The Council when you refuse to pay your rates.

Personally if I was the Council I’d be more inclined to just cut off their water and sewerage until they paid.

Property records show Ms Marsh has owned the house since January 1995, when it was purchased for $137,000.

So she paid for 15 years but suddenly in 2010 decided she no longer had to pay.


A 70 year old house is not a heritage house

August 12th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Heritage campaigners are dismayed by the rejection of a council proposal to protect pre-1944 character housing areas.

The Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel rejected the council proposal for a pre-1944 damage control overlay in the proposed Unitary Plan as “unnecessary”.

The overlay is a proposed interim measure to last for three years and protect all pre-1944 houses not already covered by special character or heritage controls.

This interim period is to allow the council to assess each house individually and determine its historic and special character value.

The panel says based on the evidence submitted, the pre-1944 buildings are not deserving of historic heritage scheduling or inclusion in a special character area.

Very pleasing the panel is making decisions on evidence, not sentiment.

This would have deprived every home owner of a pre 1944 home of the ability to control their own house.

Decisions on heritage status should be based on individual properties, not broad classifications.

In theory the Council only wanted this for an interim period, but I am sure once all these houses were classified as heritage, it would be an uphill struggle to get them removed.

The panel’s interim guidance is not binding and the council will have the final say on the pre-1944 demolition control.

It will do this once the panel makes its final Unitary Plan recommendations toward the end of 2016.

Hopefully they will not over-turn the panel.

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Story off to a solid start

August 12th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

According to ratings statistics website Throng, Story – co-hosted by Duncan Garner and Heather du Plessis-Allan – kicked off last night with an audience of 276,780. 

So how does that stack up?

Well, last year Cambell Live averaged 219,406 viewers per night and that dropped to nearly 190,000 before its demise this year.  

That said, at its best Cambell Live enjoyed average ratings of more than 280,000 viewers per night, and it’s important to note that many viewers will have tuned in last night simply to see what the new show was like.

It would appear that some 100,000 viewers switched from TV One’s Seven Sharp to see what Story had on offer but Mike Hosking and Toni Street still drew more than 28,000 more viewers than the new kids on the block.

Viewers and critics praised Story’s straight-up-the-guts approach, getting right into the news without too much delay. In their debut episode, Garner and du Plessis-Allan tackled dodgy real estate agents, – ultimately resulting in one agent losing their job – criminals tampering with ankle bracelets and a light piece about gaming.

It was a good first episode. The real estate CEO looked incredibly uncomfortable under HDPA’s interviewing.


What a surprise!

August 11th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland’s night-time revellers have spoken – there’s no room for a dry bar in the city.

Tap Bar, the country’s first alcohol-free bar, has shut its doors after only five weeks of business on Karangahape Rd.

This is not surprising.

It’s not far removed from launching a cafe with no food.

Tap Bar, which stands for The After Party, charged a $15 entry fee and non-alcoholic drink prices started at $5.

A $15 entry fee and inflated prices for soft drinks?

Elliott said the bar had a few customers but they drank water and little money was passed over the counter.

If you want to stop drinking alcohol, water is a very good choice.


The milk auction

August 11th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters is backing Waikato Federated Farmers’ call for a suspension of Fonterra’s online auction until sliding dairy prices stabilise.

On Sunday, Peters called on the dairy giant to temporarily suspend the twice monthly GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) auction which sets the benchmark price for whole milk powder.

Peters’ call comes after Fonterra slashed $1.40 from its forecast for the 2105/16 season to $3.85 per kg of milk solids on Friday, two days after dairy prices fell 9.3 per cent in the latest auction. It was the 10th consecutive fall on the platform, as dairy prices fell to levels not seen in 13 years.

“It is high time Fonterra’s board comes down from Mt Olympus to act in the best interests of its farmer-owners and not some economic theory,” Peter said in a statement.

Waikato Federated Farmers president, Chris Lewis, made the same call on Wednesday, suggesting the auctions should be suspended until prices stabilise.

“Auctions are great in bull markets like the Auckland property bubble, but it is a terrible way to sell when markets turn ugly, as the record low price for Whole Milk Powder indicates,” Peters said.

It’s true auctions favour sellers when demand is high and favour buyers when demand is low.

But auctions also guarantee you get to sell everything.

Fonterra could try and pull out of the global auction. They could set their own prices at which they are willing to sell dairy products. But if that price is higher than other companies are selling for, then Fonterra may end up with reduced sales.

But Waikato Rural Support Trust chairman and Ohinewai dairy farmer Neil Bateup didn’t agree.

“It’s very easy to say put reserves on GDT auctions, but in reality you have to keep moving product on the market,” Bateup said.

He was concerned Fonterra could be left with stockpiles of product it couldn’t sell if it introduced reserves.

“In theory it sounds OK, in practice everything has a shelf life and that depresses prices long term.”

Ultimately it is very hard to force buyers to pay more for a product than they wish to, or can elsewhere, unless you have a monopoly.


Wellington the start up capital

August 11th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Technology Spectator reports:

New Zealand’s capital city Wellington is fast shaping up as a world-class start-up hub, according to a group of Australian firms who won a trip across the Tasman.

Five Australian start-ups were selected to tour Wellington’s tech and start-up scene as part of the Wellington Adds up competition, a government drive to encourage wider business investment and attract strong ICT talent.

The businesses, from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Canberra, met with business and industry leaders, and on their return have touted Wellington’s “very progressive” community and small business support by government.

The city, which is home to about 200,000 people, boasts no capital gains tax, no payroll tax, along with liberal laws around equity crowdfunding.

I’ve met a fair few of the start ups in Wellington. They’re doing great things, often operating from a two person office on teh fringes of the CBD.

Kate Raynes-Goldie, founder of gaming consultancy start-up Games We Play, said her feeling was that the Wellington local government was an extremely supportive one.

“The government support and enthusiasm for games and tech startups in Wellington is impressive”, she said. “The scene is vibrant, with innovative co-working spaces like BizDojo and a range of incubator and accelerator programmes such as CreativeHQ, as well as R&D and capacity funding, which all offer great opportunities for game and tech entrepreneurs. I can only imagine what we could do in Australia with the same level of support.” …

Local entrepreneur Melissa Clark-Reynolds told Technology Spectator businesses like Xero could thrive due to the community’s support and willingness to ‘sit down and have a chat’ whenever needed.

“It’s more a village than a city, and everyone knows everyone,” she said. “If you hit a wall and need help, people will just say come see me tomorrow and we’ll have a coffee.

“There’s no class system here really we have a very flat society. Everyone is a peer and everyone is happy to help everyone, it’s a Kiwi thing. We’re fiercely egalitarian.”

It is a village. And people are always meeting to chat over coffee. Some days I have four to five coffee dates in a row!