Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

So what was this accident?

July 16th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Homicide detectives probing the death of baby Ihaka Stokes have interviewed at least 42 people as his aunty claims the death was a “terrible tragic accident”.

Police have spent 11 days investigating the 14-month-old’s death after he was taken to Christchurch Hospital with what they said were multiple blunt force fractures inflicted in a violent attack.

Family and friends farewelled Ihaka at an emotional funeral on Friday.

The following day, Marrisa Hunton, Ihaka’s aunty and the sister of his heavily pregnant mother Mikala Stokes, saidIhaka’s death was an accident.

“This little boy was not murdered he died in a terrible tragic accident,” Hunton wrote on Facebook.

So what was this freak accident that inflicted multiple fractures?

She went on to say the media were “out for a story” and did not care how it was portrayed “as long as it gains attention”.

“The important thing is that the family knows the truth.”

I’d say the important thing would have been keeping Ihaka alive and healthy.

UPDATE: Someone has been arrested for this “accident”. Good.


$15,000 for 56 lizards

July 16th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

About $15,000 has been spent on swanky new digs for 56 lizards whose homes happened to be in the path of the Transmission Gully motorway.

Major earthworks are just months away from starting on the four-lane, 27-kilometre inland motorway between Porirua and Paekakariki, north of Wellington.

But before the diggers can rip in, the business consortium building the $850 million road has had to figure out what to do with the native reptiles and worms who call Transmission Gully home.

So we spent $15,000 on moving 56 geckos?

If the geckos were a unique species, and their loss would reduce our biodiversity, then moving them is desirable.

But if they were just 56 geckos out of several million we have in NZ, then isn’t this over the top?

All the species were considered “at-risk” but not endangered, he said.

What does at risk mean? The categories in NZ in order are:

  1. Acutely Threatened – Nationally Critical
  2. Acutely Threatened – Nationally Endangered
  3. Acutely Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
  4. Chronically Threatened – Serious Decline
  5. Chronically Threatened – Gradual Decline
  6. At Risk – Range Restricted
  7. At Risk – Sparse
  8. Not Threatened

As I said it is a no brainer you move species when they are acutely threatened. Subject to cost also desirable for chronically threatened. But merely being at risk, I don’t think $15,000 on 57 geckos is a good use of money.


So sad to see a victim blame herself

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

The Herald reports:

A woman who was brutally beaten with a cricket bat and strangled while she lay unconscious has told a court her husband’s actions were her fault.

After the attack, the couple’s flatmate said he would call an ambulance but Daljit Singh told him to “let her die”.

The victim, who has name suppression, begged Justice Nicholas Davidson to release her partner of six years Singh so he could rejoin her and their two young children. …

Despite the severity of the assault, which took place nearly a year ago at their Sandringham home, the woman told the High Court at Auckland she would not have reported the incident to the police.

“The children often ask why they cannot talk to their father and I can’t bring myself to tell them he’s in prison …

for something I played a part in, at least that’s how I feel,” she said.

“I can’t throw away six years of marriage over one mistake.”

But Justice Davidson jailed Singh for three and a half years on charges of injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault with a weapon and threatening to kill.

So sad to see a victim blaming herself. She has no culpability at all. It sounds like she is lucky to be alive, and perhaps in time will realise a husband who will almost kill her, may also be a father who could kill hsi kids.

Defence counsel Martin Hislop accepted it was inevitable his client would be deported to India once a third of the sentence had been served.

Good – we are better off without him.


Kidnapping is vile

July 14th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Locals in the remote Catlins area who saw John Beckenridge in the days before he disappeared with his 11-year-old stepson are adamant the pair are alive and have probably fled the deep south.

Mr Beckenridge, 64, was captured on security cameras paying for supplies in cash in the days after he took Mike Zhao-Beckenridge from James Hargest College’s junior school in Invercargill on March 13.

Over the next week, the pair were spotted driving around the Catlins, southeast of Invercargill, and seen camping in tents and in the back of the Swedish-born pilot’s dark-blue Volkswagen Touareg.

Sometime over the next 24 hours, Mr Beckenridge’s car went over an 88m cliff near Curio Bay – a remote spot notorious for rough seas.

A missing persons alert went out the day Mike Zhao-Beckenridge disappeared and border alerts were issued within 24 hours, police say.

It took six weeks to recover the vehicle from the wild cove’s crashing waves. Police found “no signs of human remains” in the car.

Mr Beckenridge is believed to have several aliases, including John Locke, John Robert Lundh, Knut Goran Roland Lundh and John Bradford. Friends believed he faked his and Mike’s deaths.

I think anyone with multiple aliases tends to be a bad sort. Beckenridge is basically a kidnapper. He stole his step son from his actual mother.  I hope he is caught one day.


1,000 fewer charities

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

Jo Goodhew announced:

Greater scrutiny of the Charities Register has resulted in over 1000 charities being deregistered says Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Jo Goodhew.

A recent inspection of Annual Returns held by the Charities Register found more than 2,000 registered charities had not filed their Annual Returns and financial information for two years or more.

“This clean-up of the Charities Register will provide the public with greater confidence that the 26,866 registered charities in New Zealand are fulfilling their legal obligations to report their financial information,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Registered charities receive generous tax advantages funded by the taxpayer, and in return they are expected to explain to the public how they are using their funds and resources to benefit the people or cause they were set up to help.”

The inspection has led to 1,010 charities being deregistered, including 106 that voluntarily deregistered, and 904 that failed to respond to the requests to file their overdue Returns.

That still seems a staggeringly high number of charities.


A good initiative from Auckland University

July 13th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Auckland University has introduced a compulsory course to clear up the often murky guidelines around academic dishonesty.

The university’s online academic integrity course was made compulsory for all students this year, making Auckland the only tertiary institution in New Zealand where such a test is mandatory.

Students who do not complete the test face having their enrolment “discontinued”, according to Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) John Morrow.

Morrow said the course was not an attempt to reduce cheating at the university.

“It’s not about dishonesty as such, it’s about students learning how they can use printed and published resources in an effective way in their own work,” he said.

He admitted it did have the “advantage that if students do behave dishonestly, it’s difficult for them to claim it’s on the basis of ignorance”.

The online world allows this to be done easily. It’s a very good idea.

A two hour course and test is not a lot of time, over a three or longer year degree.


What makes a great teacher?

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

A nifty wee video on what makes a great teacher.

Students instinctively know who are the great teachers and the poor teachers. We all can cite the teachers who inspired us and made such a difference. And the ones we struggled to stay awake for.


Hide on special education

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

Rodney Hide writes:

Little Devon Roke was turned down by three early childhood education centres before BestStart’s ABC Waterview agreed to enrol him.

The three centres had their stated reasons — but the real reason was that Devon has cerebral palsy. …

I had many wonderful experiences in politics but the greatest was my all-too-brief spell as Minister Responsible for Special Education.

I visited my first special school not knowing what to expect and was immediately swept up in a class where I had never before seen so much learning and sheer joy and such committed and loving teachers.

I couldn’t tear myself away and found myself cavorting on the floor, dancing and singing with the students, totally uncaring what I looked or sounded like or that I was supposed to be the minister, not a child at school.

I was hooked.

It consumed me.

It was wonderful.

I saw children learning more than I ever believed possible. I saw children put in more effort than I had ever before seen. I walked beside a boy as he dragged himself to class from the playground and then up into his chair.

And I saw the look of achievement and happiness on his face.

He could not have been prouder if he had just conquered Everest.

In another primary school, I saw children looking after their cerebral palsy mate in a wheelchair and playing football with him. I don’t know who among them was enjoying it the most.

And everywhere the teachers were the most wonderful I could imagine.

I did my best to make the students’ lives better, but instead it was they who made such a difference to mine.

I still get texts from some and some still remember my birthday.

I feel sorry for the students of the three centres who turned Devon away. He would have made such a difference to their lives. And now they are going to miss out. That’s sad and it’s wrong.

What a great column.

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Now they’re after the takeaways!

July 12th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A nutritionist has dubbed a 3km stretch of road featuring more than 30 fast-food options “Heart Attack Alley”.

Lincoln Road in Henderson, West Auckland, offers an astonishing 34 fast-food options, at least 24 of which could be considered unhealthy. This does not include numerous takeaways off the main drag.

And a new development under construction near the Northwestern Motorway will soon offer even more – Texas Chicken, Miami Grill and Mexicali have moved in and developers are advertising spaces for kebab, pizza, noodle, Chinese and Italian food joints, as well as a cafe and bakery.

Nutritionist David Hill described it as a “shocking commentary on our wonderfully developed first-world country”.

“I don’t think it would be going too far to call it Heart Attack Alley – call it what it is. If it’s going to be contributing to people’s blood pres-sure, size and cholesterol going up then it’s going to cause heart attacks and strokes.”

Yes it is disgraceful that people can buy food I don’t approve of.

“If Mr or Mrs Average has spent the last eight hours at work and has had a really hard day, it becomes so much easier to go to the drive-through and wind down the window with their little finger and in comes a whole bunch of energy-dense food that’s high in fat, sugar or salt – potentially all three – and low in nutrients, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.”

We must ban drive throughs! The workers do not have the intelligence to decide for themselves.

Henderson-Massey local board chairwoman Vanessa Neeson was stunned by the number of takeaway outlets in her neighbourhood.

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about it because anyone is able to submit a resource consent and if they tick all the boxes then they can open. But it’s a problem, that’s for sure.

Yes that is disgraceful. Unlike the beloved pioneers of Eastern Europe, anyone can set up a food shop and sell anything. This must be stopped.

Lincoln Rd kebab shop owner Etem Koksal says people make their own choices about what they eat – but even he wouldn’t recommend having too many kebabs each week.

Exactly. It is idiocy to claim any one form of food is bad and must be banned, regulated or not promoted. It is all about size and frequency. A kebab a week is great. A kebab twice a day, is not.



Parole Board on Watson

July 10th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Perceived sexual rejection and thoughts of revenge are among the reasons why a psychologist believes there is “very high risk” that Scott Watson would commit violent crimes if released from prison.

The Parole Board declined Watson’s first bid for freedom last week and today released the written reasons for the decision in which they described him as an “undue risk to the safety of the community”.

He is currently serving a life sentence for the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope in the Marlborough Sounds on New Year’s Day in 1998 but maintains his innocence.

Watson was assessed by two psychologists this year and is challenging the opinions and content of both. Only the second report in April was taken into consideration by the Parole Board and parts were quoted in its ruling.

“Mr Watson is assessed to present with a very high risk of violent recidivism. His level of insight, ability and motivation to manage his risk factors remain unknown,” the psychologist is quoted as saying.

This is the highest risk factor that can be assessed. The categories are:

  1. Low (under 50%)
  2. Medium (50 to 64%)
  3. High (65% to 90%)
  4. Very High (over 90%)

So the Parole Board saying there is a greater than 90% chance that if released he will not only commit more violent crimes, but they will be serious enough to have him back in prison.

No surprise he is challenging their findings, but I don’t think they’re wrong.


Not a slur

July 9th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Wellington teenager issued with a motoring ticket from the future has had to fight for five months to avoid paying it in the here and now.

Jack Foot, 19, admits he was in breach of his restricted licence when he was pinged with a $100 fine in Taranaki St for having an unauthorised passenger in his car on January 22.

But the police officer who issued the ticket dated it for October 22, 2015 – which Foot argued should make it invalid.

So there is no doubt he broke the law. The officer just made a date error.

Not yes that may invalidate the ticket, but this doesn’t mean he didn’t break the law, so the sense of indignation below is unwarranted:

But Kate Foot said the apology and waiver was just a start, and she and her son expected more.

“We want the police to co-ordinate the return of Jack’s licence so we are not inconvenienced any more. We expect them to make sure there is no permanent scar on his driving record because, if he wants to get a heavy vehicle driver licence, a slur will put an end to that.

“And since he hasn’t been able to drive since police took his licence away, are they going to give him any reparation?”    

A slur is unwarranted. It is not a slur when he was breaking the law. If he wants a heavy driver licence, then he should not keep racking up demerits. That is his third demerit by the age of 19 which suggests he has a casual regard for the road safety laws.

As for reparation – well no.

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All Blacks vs Samoa

July 9th, 2015 at 11:11 am by David Farrar

The actual game of rugby wasn’t a flash one, but the reception the All Blacks got in Samoa showed that the test match was long long overdue. Big credit to John Campbell who helped lead the charge on this..

A fair number of our All Blacks have Samoan ancestry, and we have benefited greatly from them. It was nice to have the All Blacks give something back. It meant so much to those in Samoa, and especially the kids who aspire to one day play for Samoa, or the All Blacks.

The demands of the international calendar means that this can’t be an annual event, but I hope it isn’t a one off. At a minimum there should be a match every world cup cycle.


RIP Craig Norgate

July 8th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The ex-chief executive of Fonterra, Craig Norgate, has died in the UK at the age of 50. …

Fonterra chairman John Wilson said: “It’s deeply upsetting to hear of Craig’s passing and our thoughts go out to his wife Jane, and children Dylan, Alexandria and Jordan.

“Craig played a key role in the formation of Fonterra and made a significant contribution to the Co-operative as our first CEO, helping bring together key players in the New Zealand dairy industry with the strategic vision he was known for. He remained a close and trusted friend and mentor to many of our people. …

“Craig had an outstanding career and, notwithstanding the heights of that career, he still remained firmly of the belief he was a boy from the ‘Naki.”

After Fonterra, Norgate was head of PGG Wrightson for six years.

Born in Hawera in 1965, he focused his career on the dairy industry after leaving school. 

After studying at Massey University he moved to Hastings and took up his first management role at the Department of Maori Affairs at age 21. 

He was there a year before returning to Taranaki with meat company Lowe Walker in 1987. He rose through the ranks quickly and then worked for a subsidiary of the Dairy Board, the Lactose Company, becoming CFO within six months. 

He then took over as general manager of Kiwi Dairy, a role his father had held with the company. He stayed for 10 years, with the company’s turnover growing from $285 million to $4.4 billion before the creation of the dairy giant Fonterra in 2001.

Norgate was a former director of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union, from 2000 to 2002, and was co-opted onto the Taranaki Rugby Football Union in 2004, serving for 10 years until Taranaki shifted allegiance to the Chiefs in late 2013.

There was so much more he could have done. A very premature and sad death.

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Not an alarmingly high rate

July 8th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald headline:

Drinking during pregnancy occuring at ‘alarmingly high rate’

So what is this alarmingly high rate?

Up to 80 per cent of women in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Ireland have admitted drinking alcohol during the early stages of pregnancy, according to a new report.

Well if 80% of women were drinking during pregnancy that would be alarmingly high. But not the weasel word of up to.

The prevalence of drinking ranged from 20 per cent to 80 per cent of women in Ireland and between 40 per cent and 80 per cent in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

Now it is from 40% to 80%. There is just one prevalence rate for NZ, so why not just give it?

Professor Lesley McCowan, the head of Auckland University’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology, who contributed to the study, said 23 per cent of participants reported being alcohol-free when they became pregnant.

“Of the 53 per cent (1063) women who reported that they drank any alcohol in the first trimester, 917 (86 per cent) stopped drinking by six weeks of pregnancy. Stopping drinking is likely to have corresponded with having a positive pregnancy test. So the large majority of these Auckland women are likely to have stopped drinking as soon as pregnancy was diagnosed.

Now we get to the actual data. It is that once a woman knew she was pregnant only 14% of the 53% still drank. That is a 7.4% rate – not alarmingly high I’d say.

“12 per cent of women reported that they were still drinking alcohol when seen by the SCOPE research team at 20 weeks of pregnancy and 95 per cent of these women were only having 1 to 2 units of alcohol weekly at this time.

So 0.6% were drinking in an excessive way.

Obviously the ideal rates are 0%, but the actual data is very different to the sensationalist headlines and claims.

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Long-term contraceptives for teens?

July 8th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The call from New Zealand researchers for all teen girls to be fitted with long-term contraceptive devices is not as radical as many think. In fact, a similar free birth control scheme has been a huge success in the US state of Colorado.

The state saw its teen pregnancy birthrate plunge by 40 per cent from 2009 to 2013, abortion rates also saw a 42 per cent drop.

Colorado health officials started the experiment six years ago. The scheme offered free intrauterine devices (IUDs) to teenagers and women in financial hardship. The implants can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years.

I think it is a very worthy idea. It means that the chance of accidental pregnancy is close to zero, and you simply remove the implant when you want to start having children.

We should offer it to everyone when they turn 16. For now I guess that means girls only, as there is not a simple implant that works on guys, but one day there may be one for guys also.

“If we want to reduce poverty, one of the simplest, fastest and cheapest things we could do would be to make sure that as few people as possible become parents before they actually want to,” Brookings Institution economist Isabel Sawhill told the New York Times

She has argued that single parenthood is a principal driver of inequality.

Yep, I’d say that could do more for income inequality than almost any other measure.

It must be a choice of course, but it can become a normalised choice – by routinely offering it for free at age 16.


NCEA grades

July 7th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

James Cote, an expert on grade inflation at the University of Western Ontario, said the NCEA data “clearly indicates grade inflation has taken place”.

But Hamilton’s St John’s College principal Shane Tong said it was a big leap to make. 

“I think we’re always trying to raise the kids’ grades and NCEA’s about what the kids can do as opposed to what they can’t,” he said.

“[Increasing results] is exactly what the ministry is asking us to do. They’re wanting an 85 per cent pass rate at level two.” 

James Cote, an expert on grade inflation at the University of Western Ontario, says New Zealand’s NCEA data “clearly indicates grade inflation has taken place”.

 The flexibility of NCEA also meant schools could make programmes which better suited their students.

Ngaruawahia High School’s acting principal Chris Jarnet agreed that the wider range of subjects available was probably helping students pass.

“I know in our case we’ve got a wider curriculum to enable kids to do all sorts of things now, like Maori performing arts. That’s enabling kids to get through and get passes.”

He didn’t think there was anything untoward behind the increased pass rates.

“None of the principals I know would have a bar of that. There are too many checks and crosses now that are on the go,” he said.

A key thing here is that NCEA is about more than the basic curriculum. It is about being able to get a certain level of proficiency in varied areas. It is designed so that more students will be able to leave school with a certificate of proficiency in at least some areas. It is not like School Certificate that was designed to have half the people sit it fail.

Having said that it would not be surprising if there is an element of grade inflation. By its nature with mainly internal assessment, it will never be as rigorous as external examinations.

Both Johnston and Cote raised concern about the impact of a Government target, set in 2012, for 85 per cent of 18-year-olds to be passing NCEA level two by 2016.

“In my opinion that was a ridiculous thing to say,” Johnston said.

“It puts stupid political pressure on the sector to improve pass rates, irrespective of whether it improves learning and it undermines the integrity of standards-based assessment.”

Let’s look at the data on this. Did NCEA Level 2 rates increase significantly after the target was set in 2012?

At Level 2 the large increases were around 2010, not 2012 on.

Former NZQA deputy chief executive Bali Haque, who was responsible for overseeing changes to NCEA from 2006 to 2012, said the increase in pass rates was a sign the system was working as it should be.

“I wouldn’t call it grade inflation. I would say the system is picking up people who are being successful, whereas the system used to drop those people out,” he said.

“We have a situation where more people are being more successful under NCEA because that’s precisely what it was designed to do. You’re entitling people to use vocational standards, you’re encouraging a bit more internal assessment, you’re expanding the range of things that people get credits for.”

Yeah, NCEA was designed so that more people leave with a certificate of what they can do, rather than a transcript of what they couldn’t do.



Oamaru Hospital

July 7th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An estimated 2500 people showed up to protest proposed funding cuts to Oamaru hospital today.

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher said he was very pleased at the community’s support.

Marchers ranged from families to the elderly, which Mr Kircher said sent a message about the community’s attitude to the local health service.He said they were very passionate about the primary level hospital, and even though it was a basic service, the community did not want any further cuts.

Mr Kircher said expecting residents to go to Dunedin for specialist care due to funding cuts was unacceptable.

The article is not clear about what is regarded as specialist care, but as a general point I’d note that it is unrealistic to expect a town of 14,000 to have much in the way of specialist care. They should have a hospital, but you are just never going to be able to have the same quality and breath of service as in a city such as Dunedin.

Oamaru has around the same population as Tokoroa and Feilding.

Now it seems the march is specifically about the SDHB proposing a 5% funding cut,  and it is legitimate to have concerns about that. But a sweeping statement that one shouldn’t have to go to Dunedin for specialist care is silly.

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A religious decision masquerading as damage concern

July 7th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Epsom MP David Seymour says the authority which is planning to ban cars from the summit of Mt Eden has no evidence to support one of its central claims that vehicles are contributing to erosion at the tourist spot.

Mr Seymour also said the Maunga Authority which oversees Auckland’s volcanic cones did not appear to have consulted with the public before extending a ban on heavy vehicles to all cars, which was likely to be enforced by the end of the year.

The Maunga Authority has cited several reasons for the imminent ban, including pedestrian safety, congestion, damage to the mountain, and the preservation of a sacred site.

The first three reasons cited are red herrings for which there is no evidence, to hide the real reason – a religious belief that the spirit of the mountain will be offended by vehicles on it.

Mr Seymour, whose electorate includes Mt Eden, questioned some of the reasons for the ban. The Act Party leader asked the authority under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act for any reports on measurements or estimates of damage caused by vehicles.

The authority’s lead officer, Justine Smith, responded by saying unrestricted access had “raised concerns” about damage to the mountain.

As evidence, she cited a Mt Eden management plan from 2007, which said erosion was “apparent in observations of slips, soil creep, and the filling and shortening of terraces”.

But it did not link this damage to vehicles, instead attributing it to “natural processes”, pedestrians, excavation for utilities, earthworks, and grazing stock. Stock are already banned from the summit.

Mr Seymour said: “Clearly, car-induced erosion is either not occurring or is not a factor in the authority’s move to ban cars – a fact that contradicts the erosion-focused narrative.”

They’re using it as a red herring to hide their real reason.


Driver merit points

July 7th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Nothing annoys generally well-behaved drivers quite so much as having the traffic rulebook thrown at them for a minor transgression. It offends their notion of fairness and, in the process, erodes their support for the police. The police, for their part, have little option but to issue tickets. Successive governments’ emphasis on lowering the road toll has dictated a low-tolerance approach. It is welcome, therefore, that a way around this unsatisfactory state of affairs may soon surface in the shape of merit points.

The concept will be studied in research about to be initiated by the Transport Agency. It will be part of an analysis of the impact of demerit points since their introduction 22 years ago. The research will ask if they have achieved better driver compliance, whether a merit-based system would be more effective, or whether the two should operate in tandem. Merit points would be gained for the time a motorist has been driving without receiving a ticket. Or they may operate as in Victoria, where tickets can be waived if a driver’s good record is deemed to warrant just a warning.

I think it would be a good thing if Police were once again allowed to use discretion when it comes to ticketing.


Brand loyalty

July 6th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Progressive Enterprises, which owns Countdown supermarkets, is trying to win back shopper loyalty.

Fed a diet of “specials” for decades, shoppers have learnt to shop around for the best prices, and now display a clear lack of loyalty to any one of the big supermarket brands.

Our promiscuity is such that just less than one in ten of us do our grocery shopping exclusively at Countdown supermarkets. …

Instead, most of us go where we think the bargains are.

The majority of us split our shops between different supermarkets, and quite a few of us also pop into the speciality stores like The Mad Butcher, or FruitWorld for some items.

If the stuff we want is not on special at the supermarket we visit, we are likely to head off to a rival store, where we hope it will be.

“Price, price, price is the number one thing that New Zealanders expect when shopping.” says Bridget Lamont, Countdown’s general manager for marketting. “We are among the most price conscious shoppers in the world.”

Foodstuffs’ spokeswoman, Antoinette Laird, said New Zealanders were the world’s most “specials” driven grocery shoppers.

Around 60 per cent of grocery purchases are made on special-priced items, begging the question whether the special price couldn’t now more properly be described as the usual price.

In Australia the figure is around 40 per cent. In the UK it is around 30 per cent.

The lack of brand loyalty is interesting. I think the Internet is partly to blame/credit. One can check online for the best prices, and even order online now for so much stuff.

Also a fair few people will use services such as Consumer to work out the best purchase, rather than just go with the usual brand.

The article got me thinking about how much brand loyalty I have in various areas. Off hand it is:

  • Petrol – almost none. Tend to use Z Energy as closest
  • Supermarkets – moderate preference for New World, as especially like New World Thorndon and know layout. However shopped online at Countdown before New World offered the same.
  • Building stuff – moderate preference for Bunnings
  • Flights – very strong preference for Air New Zealand, due to excellent service and staff plus loyalty scheme
  • Car – no strong brand preference, price key feature. There are brands I want (such as BMW), but can’t yet afford
  • Electricity – strong preference for Powershop as I like their purchasing model
  • Running Shoes – strong preference for Asics
  • Laptops – moderate preference for Sony as have found their Vaios good
  • Phones – Will cry if it is not an iPhone
  • Whiteware – no brand preference, will be guided by Consumer ratings and availability at Cherrytree
  • Hotels – have some brands I will avoid, but beyond that little preference – guided by TripAdvisor
  • Rental Cars – moderate preference for Hertz based on usually moderately priced and good quality cars.

So interesting to reflect which areas you do develop a brand preference, and which ones you don’t.


Hooper and the Ashburton deaths

July 6th, 2015 at 9:30 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Socialite Pebbles Hooper has backtracked and apologised for her comments that an Ashburton family’s deaths were “natural selection”. …

In a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday, Hooper said her intentions were not to cause outrage or anguish to those involved with the Ashburton deaths.

“I deeply regret any distress caused to the family. I apologise for my wording and take responsibility for upsetting those involved, and I was careless in my actions,” she wrote.

“The issue I regrettably tried to raise was about parental negligence and the precautions needed to ensure the safety of those who are unable to care for themselves.

“I never aimed to target or isolate this issue to one family. Again, for my actions and have the family in my thoughts.” …

It appears Hooper expected a backlash, having prefaced her message with the words: “I’ll get major slack for this, but leaving a car running inside a closed garage while you’re kids are in the house is natural selection”.

While the tweet was quickly deleted, Hooper responded to other Twitter users by saying “those kids died under completely preventable circumstances”.

She claimed she was not deliberately seeking attention but was “just stating her opinion”.

“I’m not looking to be controversial or outrageous, simply stating the fact that those kids deserved to be safe,” she tweeted.

The way Hooper expressed her thoughts was wrong for two main reasons:

  1. Three kids died through no fault of their own
  2. Talking of natural selection has a tone of “we’re better off without them”

However the underlying point of their death being completely preventable – it wasn’t bad luck, bad intentions or anything – just death from I guess ignorance, is valid. Now there’s a time and a place to have such a discussion, and a way you can have that discussion. Hooper failed on those fronts. But there is a point that we shouldn’t let our entirely natural sympathy for the family and friends of the deceased over-ride concern and even some anger that they died in such a preventable way.

If you comment on this issue, please do so with some empathy for those who have lost loved ones.


Why not ban normal watches also?

July 5th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Road safety campaigners are calling for a ban on the use of wearable technology, including smartwatches, by drivers.

Smartwatches from high-tech giants Samsung, Sony, Motorola and LG – which can be used for calls, texts and calendar notifications – are for sale in New Zealand. Apple is releasing its Apple Watch here later this year.

Laws banning drivers’ use of phones – with an $80 fine and 20 demerit points – do not cover the use of wearable technology.

Caroline Perry, of road safety charity Brake, said the law should be widened, stating motorists using smart technology on their watches while driving should face the same sanctions.

“A second’s inattention at the wheel can result in tragedy,” she said.

Yes it can.

And that second can be looking at the time on a normal watch.

It can be having a drink of water.

It can be checking your makeup in the rear view mirror.

It can be tuning the radio.

So stop advocating for things to be banned while driving, and focus on a general law about distractions.

A New Zealand Police spokesman confirmed the use of wearable technology was not captured by current mobile phone laws.

There were no plans to alter legislation to include the new gadgets, but motorists could potentially be charged with careless driving if they were distracted by using a smartwatch.



A dodgy teacher

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

Simon Toon has been named as the masturbating teacher. Nothing wrong with that, except he did it at school – which is totally inappropriate.

His poor judgement (and worse) goes back many years. The summary is:

  • 1991 – accused of rape, not charged, by a woman with multiple injuries to the face, nose, jaw,neck and teeth
  • 2000 – leaves Kings after downloading porn on another teacher’s computer. Also accused of two year campaign of sexual harassment against her
  • 2013 – masturbating in a classroom

One has to be weary of the incidents where nothing was proven, but nevertheless the overall picture if of someone who shouldn’t be a teacher. And a bad reflection on Auckland Grammar that they knew of the earlier case at Kings, but did nothing.


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Private prosecution dismissed

July 5th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A top principal has had assault charges against him dropped after a judge ruled he’d been the victim of efforts by his ex-wife to “destroy” him. 

Peter Clague, formerly Auckland Kristin School’s executive principal, was the subject of a private prosecution brought by his ex-wife relating to two alleged assaults in 2010. 

Jeanne Denham alleged two months after the pair married in 2010 he pushed her to the ground, causing significant bruising to her tailbone after shaking her with force, telling her to “shut the f— up”.

She didn’t lay a formal complaint until 2014 and took a private prosecution against Clague through Queens Counsel Marie Dyhrberg. 

Clague’s jury trial began in the Auckland District Court on Monday and on Friday Judge David McNaughton said he was taking the “rare” step of dismissing the charges, following an application from Clague. 

His lawyer Mike Lloyd argued there had been an abuse of the court’s process and on Friday afternoon Judge McNaughton told the jury he agreed after an “anxious” night pondering the application. 

“This whole prosecution is motivated by an intention on the part of Ms Denham to effectively destroy Mr Clague’s reputation and ruin his career, and to consequently damage Kristin School and possibly also to bring pressure to bear on him in relation to a property claim in the Family Court,” Judge McNaughton said. 

He said no properly directed jury would be able to convict Clague. 

“No useful purpose would be served to continue prosecuting that charge for what was essentially a non injury assault made five years ago, and complained about two years ago. He’s suffered enough. I’m bringing this to an end now.” 

I hadn’t followed this case closely but what I had read alarmed me. The Police are pretty good at laying charges for domestic violence, and the fact they had refused to suggested the evidence wasn’t there. Combine that with waiting for years to complain.

It is very rare for a Judge to stop a trial, but the Judge I think got it right in saying this was about utu and trying to destroy the ex.


Press Council rules against NZ Herald

July 4th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

When Amanda Bailey complained that her interview with the NZ herald was obtained under false pretences, I said this was something that should be complained about to the Press Council. A number of people did so, and the Press Council has upheld the complaints – which is good.

Some key quotes:

33. By the time the interview had been concluded, all parties should have been quite clear about the nature of the article that was to be written. They certainly had concerns about the likely content, resulting in a departure from usual journalistic practice in the agreement to submit quotes to them for checking for accuracy. There is an element of subterfuge in Ms Glucina’s failure to ensure that they all knew she proposed to write an exclusive article for the NZ Herald.

34. While Ms Bailey was apparently willing to allow her employers to arrange the interview, there is no evidence that she either agreed or accepted that they should represent her in all dealings with Ms Glucina, the NZ Herald, or the media generally. It is significant that the only time she took the initiative and made an approach to the NZ Herald, it was through Mr Bradbury and not through her employers.

35. It is irrelevant that the photographer was introduced, or introduced himself as a NZ Herald photographer – in the light of the confusion about Ms Glucina’s status it was quite likely that the parties assumed that, as they probably believed to be the case with Ms Glucina, he did work for the NZ Herald but not exclusively. It is accepted that he said he worked for the NZ Herald as a staff photographer, but to a person unfamiliar with media practice, this would not rule out the possibility that he did other work as well.

36. It seems that by early evening Mr Currie had spoken to the café owners (or one of them) and had explained the situation. However he did not speak to Ms Bailey, nor is there any evidence that he attempted to obtain contact details for her. Once again, clarification of the basis on which the story was to be published was not a task that could be delegated, or at least not without direct authority from Ms Bailey.

And their finding:

The Press Council upholds the complaints. It finds there were elements of subterfuge in the NZ Herald’s dealings with Ms Bailey along with a failure to act fairly towards her, but more importantly it notes that it is not exclusively concerned with determining whether there has been a breach of specific principles. It may consider other ethical grounds for complaint, especially in the context of its objective of maintaining the press in accordance with the highest professional standards. In this case, it is of the view that the NZ Herald has generally fallen far short of those standards in its handling of a sensitive issue and its failure to respect the interests of a vulnerable person.

A good decision.

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