Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Stop offending and then you can change

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

Stuff reports:

A transgender prisoner with a taste for arson is taking legal action against the Corrections Department to get access to hormone treatment.

Brendon Forrest, who identifies as a woman, has taken a case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal after being denied expensive medical treatment in prison.

After a policy change last year, transgender inmates can request a transfer to a different prison matching the sex they identify with, instead of that on their birth certificate.

Factors to be considered include any risk the prisoner may pose to the safety of other prisoners, and vice-versa.

Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar described the situation as “nuttiness”.

“If he wants to sort himself out, or find out what gender he is that’s fine, but let it be on the outside. It shouldn’t be on the taxpayer. That’s what happens with these bush lawyers, they play merry hell with the system.”

I agree.

Forrest has a record of arson, threatening and setting a car alight with a person in it. If he stops committing crimes, then he’ll be out of prison and free to pursue treatment he desires.

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The quake story you should read

February 21st, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Olivia Carville, formerly of The Press, writes of her first anniversary of the quake away from Christchurch. I won’t try to summarise it, just to say it is well worth reading.

 

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Courageous conversations?

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

Philip Mathews reports in The Press:

“We bent over backwards to follow the letter of the law,” says Canterbury Museum director Anthony Wright.

“I’m not surprised or offended by anti reactions at all,” Wright says. “Museums are about sparking courageous conversations and I’m proud that we do that. We don’t kowtow to undue pressure.”

Really? Courage would be showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Actually courage would be showing any depiction at all of Mohammed, even a benign one.

Between unpacking the offensive shirt in December and applying for an exemption to show it in January, the Charlie Hebdo shooting happened in Paris. Wright says that did not give him pause.

“I can’t imagine any context in which we would be doing anything on Mohammed,” he says.

Of course not.

But the hypothetical question is obvious. If one of Charlie Hebdo’s obscene drawings of Mohammed had been on a T-shirt that Zammit submitted, would the museum show it?

“You can make anything a hypothetical,” Wright says. “It’s just light years different. I was personally shocked when connections were made with things like that.”

Wright should have the courage of his convictions and spark a “courageous conversation” about the purported Quranic ban on depictions of Mohammed. Hard to argue it is not topical issue.

But of course he won’t. Because that would in fact take courage.

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A religious belief should not be forced on others by law

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

Stuff reports:

Local iwi want the Christchurch City Council to stop allowing people to scatter or bury human ashes in parks and reserves but councillors are hesitant to ban the practice.

The council has been in a quandary over the issue since Mahaanui Kurataiao Ltd (MKT), a company that acts on behalf of the six runanga within Christchurch, raised concerns in a submission on the draft 2014 Parks and Reserves bylaw.

The draft bylaw included a provision for ashes to be interred or scattered in parks and reserves on the condition that written approval was first obtained from the council.

 

Why need permission in writing? The only requirement should be that any scattering not be done in a way that detracts from the enjoyment of others in the park – ie be considerate.

MKT asked the council to amend the bylaw to prohibit the burial or scattering of ashes of any deceased person or animal in any public park or reserve.

Cr David East, who chaired the hearings panel the council set up to consider public submissions on the bylaw, said the panel had met recently with MKT to hear more about its concerns.

“Obviously for Maori there is a cultural issue with the spreading of ashes in parks and reserves. In their view that land is then tapu and that prevents them from gathering food and doing all sorts of activities,” East said.

That is a religious view that some (not all) Maori may have. That view should not be forced on the entire population of Christchurch, and more than the views of Scientologists should be given credence in law.

No tag for this post.

What should the public health system fund?

February 20th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The letter comes after Christchurch weight loss blogger Elora Harre, posted on her Facebook page, the Shrinking Violet, that she had been refused excess skin removal surgery during a consultation with a plastic surgeon at Christchurch Hospital on Friday.

She was told she was a “perfect candidate” but the hospital lacked resources to operate, she said.

“Why is it that despite the fact we are quickly becoming an obese nation, for someone who has done what I was asked and lost the weight that could’ve cost our public health system A LOT more, that there is no resource for me?” she wrote.

She said the excess skin on her stomach, inner thighs, calves, lower back, arms, breasts and armpits caused her both psychological discomfort and physical discomfort, including a recurrent staph infection in her navel.

The post, which has attracted more than 600 “likes”, called on her thousands of followers to email Christchurch hospital general manager Pauline Clark and Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman in support of her cause.

I have some sympathy for Ms Harre’s cause. By losing weight naturally she has saved the health system money, and specifically could have been eligible for gastric bypass surgery which is very costly. It would arguably be a nice incentive that if you lose weight without surgery, you could qualify for some cheaper cosmetic surgery to remove excess skin.

However with limited resources it is hard to argue it is a priority:

Christchurch Hospital’s clinical director of plastic surgery has responded to criticism from a woman who was refused excess skin removal following her 55-kilogram weight loss.

In a letter to Stuff.co.nz, Dr Barnaby Nye wrote of the challenge of delivering health care in a budget-constrained environment. …

In his letter, Nye did not wish to comment on individual cases, but offered hypothetical case studies of patients he may treat, including a woman with carpel tunnel syndrome, and a man requiring jaw reconstruction after cancer removal.

“Every one of these patients lives will be improved with surgery,” Nye wrote.

“We are tasked with drawing a threshold to treat patients in the public system and must weigh the benefits for each of these … Our budget demands a certain number of cases be done per year but with limited operating time, operating on [one person] potentially denies more than 30 [other people] the chance of treatment.”

It is hard to say that the clinicians have their priorities wrong.

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A new Bain review

February 20th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Amy Adams released:

The Government has agreed to set aside all previous advice relating to David Bain’s compensation claim and conduct a fresh inquiry, Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced.

In November 2011, former Canadian Supreme Court judge Justice Ian Binnie was appointed to provide advice on the claim. He completed his report in August 2012.

After being made aware of concerns raised about Justice Binnie’s report and receiving advice from the Solicitor-General, the then Justice Minister Judith Collins decided to seek a peer review by former High Court judge Dr Robert Fisher. Dr Fisher found that Justice Binnie’s report contained a number of errors and was, therefore, unsafe to rely on.

“Given these events, it’s my view that Cabinet doesn’t have the information in front of it on which it could reasonably reach a decision,” says Ms Adams.

“For that reason, the advice of both Justice Binnie and Dr Fisher will be set aside and I will appoint a new inquirer to conduct a fresh inquiry into Mr Bain’s claim.”

This was the only sensible outcome. Regardless of your personal views on the Bain case, most people will support a decision being based a proper inquiry.

I have my personal views on who did it, but I am happy for compensation to be paid or not paid, based on what an inquiry finds to be the balance of probabilities.

It is a damn shame that Binnie’s report was so flawed (see here for details from three law professors). Not necessarily the conclusion, but the reasoning. If the Binnie report had been up to scratch, then this would have been settled two years ago.

The next key step will be the identity of the person or persons asked to do the second report. I pity the person, but hope they do such a good job that it convince all but the most ardent believers on both sides (many of whom comment here!).

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Go Ireland

February 17th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Ireland’s giant killers have struck again although captain Will Porterfield wasn’t listening to any talk of an upset.

The Irish have a history of Cricket World Cup upsets. Their hit-list has included a tie with Zimbabwe as a qualifier in 2007 before beating Pakistan and Bangladesh ahead of a stunning three-wicket final-over win against England in 2011.

But today’s pulsating four-wicket win over the West Indies in their pool B clash at Nelson’s Saxton Oval ranked among the best of them as they spectacularly added another top-tier nation to their trophy bag.

I love it when a minnow nation in a sport topples one of the top tier teams. Who would have ever thought that an Irish cricket team would beat the West Indies.

So looking forward to other matches over the next few weeks.

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Would National Radio do better with more sports coverage?

February 16th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader writes in:

National Radio doesn’t run enough sports bulletins with their news. Most other stations have a short news and sports broadcast on the hour and half-hour during the prime morning and drivetime periods. National Radio has sports (I think, in the morning when I listen) at 7am, 8am and then not until 12 noon.

 A large number of musicians are big fans of sport, especially the English Premier League. Many of the musos in Auckland play football both 11 a side and indoors. Apparently Anika Moa nearly ended up playing for the Black Ferns, something I have never heard in any newspaper article on her.

So my theory is that National Radio would hold and increase its audience if it brought in regular sports segments with all of their news broadcasts. They could do a particular angle in features that would suit their audience on the intersection of music and sport. Or politicians and sport. Or environmentalists and sport.

It’s an interesting point. New Zealand does love its sports, and National Radio could increase its coverage of sports in a way that would complement its brand. I wonder what research Radio NZ has done around this – both of current listeners and former listeners?

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Where are the riots and murders?

February 16th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The organiser of a street art festival is outraged Canterbury Museum is ignoring his request to pull a controversial T-shirt from its exhibition, which is part of the event.

Spectrum street art festival director George Shaw is distancing himself and the festival from the T-shirt. He is upset the museum ignored his early warnings to consult with stakeholders before deciding to include the garment.

T-Shirts Unfolding is a big part of the Spectrum festival and features 1000 T-shirts – including the Vestal Masturbation, which shows an image of a masturbating nun while on the reverse it has the phrase “Jesus is a c…”.

Museum director Anthony Wright is standing firm, saying the museum has no plans to ditch the shirt.

The shirt is offensive and obscene. Canterbury Museum though has the right to display it. There is no requirement in NZ not to upset adherents of a particular religion.

I note however that upset people have responded with letters of complaints and an online petition. Not riots and killings.

The question to Canterbury Museum should be whether they would allow a t-shirt that displayed Mohammed masturbating, and the phrase “Mohammed is a w***er”?

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Isn’t the solution to stop the delay?

February 16th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Betting cheats evicted from the Cricket World Cup opening match in Christchurch used multiple cellphones and laptops to relay information to people overseas willing to pay big money for the information, police say. 

A security expert said police probably knew who they were looking for before Saturday’s game began.

Police arrested “several” individuals and groups for courtsiding during the New Zealand versus Sri Lanka match at Hagley Oval.  

All were trespassed from future International Cricket Council events.

Courtsiding refers to a spectator at an event sending immediate information on game scores and activities before it is broadcast. The delay can be up to 15 seconds and allows people overseas to make spot bets.

Superintendent Sandy Manderson said yesterday that some of the cheats caught at Saturday’s game lived in New Zealand. The others were overseas visitors.  

Manderson said plainclothes police trained in spotting courtsiders, as well as members of the public, identified the men.

Why is this an offence, and why are Police spending time on it?

I’m all for cracking down on match fixing and the like. But this is not the same thing.

Trying to stop 40,000 people at a venue from communicating with the outside world is doomed to fail.

If an overseas bookie is stupid enough to keep taking bets on a game, while it is underway, then their stupidity does not need NZ Police protecting them. They could institute a rule that no bets within 30 seconds of a wicket are valid, due to the delay.

While not illegal in New Zealand, courtsiding is in breach of the terms of entry to matches at the Cricket World Cup.

So why are NZ Police involved?

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Parking sensors

February 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Thousands of sensors are to be installed around Wellington to keep an eye on parking overstayers.

A $1.4 million rollout of 4000 sensors across city car parks is being planned by the Wellington City Council. The move would allow wardens to get real-time information about where people are overstaying, although the council also says automated reminder messages and top-up options sent to people’s cellphones should mean fewer tickets being issued.

The sensors can tell cellphone or internet users where car parks are available and can be linked to online payment, allowing people to receive phone alerts when their time is about to run out and to top up their payments.

That would be very useful – both being told which parks are free, and being told when your time is almost up.

 

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Chalkie on Ports of Auckland

February 16th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Chalkie writes at Stuff:

Last year, Auckland Council spent $82 million on consultancy and professional advice.

Ouch.

This may sound extravagant but Chalkie reckons we should adjust our thinking. Expensive consultancy is surely a sign of civilisation and the democratic process, whereas absolute power means never having to justify your actions with an independent report.

After all, did Vladimir Putin hire an accountancy firm to consider the costs and benefits of invading eastern Ukraine?

True, but there is a happy mid point!

The NZIER report concludes, as have other studies, that Auckland’s port will run into capacity constraints as the economy grows and ships get bigger.

“Ultimately POAL will either lose business or need more land, structures or berth-capacity to allow for the future demand,” the NZIER says.

The predicted timescale is 20 years, but the issue is really the same whether it’s 10 years or 25 years – how big should the port be?

Chalkie reckons the port is Auckland’s commercial heart and its bustling presence is a constant reminder of what makes the city tick, but as a regular harbour-goer he has recently been struck by the huge sprawl of Fergusson’s extended terminal at the port’s eastern end, which looms a lot closer to the North Shore than it used to.

Would a further 5.3-hectares less water be oppressive? It’s hard to say. More than 230ha of harbour has been filled in since the mid-19th century, covering well over a third of the original waterscape.

I think the long-term solution in both Auckland and Wellington is to move the ports from the current prime locations on the waterfront. This land is too valuable to be used for containers and logs. It could be used for amazing cafes, bars, accomodation, parks etc. The waterfront is now the crown jewel in a city. It wasn’t 100 years ago, but times have changed and long-term the ports should be in places like Manukau and Petone – industrial areas. Yes it will cost a lot to move them, but it would be w worthwhile long-term investment for better cities.

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Three day a week postal delivery

February 14th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand Post will cut mail delivery in urban areas to three days a week from July.

The State Owned Enterprise has been telling staff of the move today, which follows a change to its deed of understanding with the Government in 2013.

The move is a step to protect the organisation from a fall in mail volumes which is hitting profitability.

Mail and communications chief operating officer Ashley Smout confirmed standard mail would be delivered every second day to households in urban areas starting from July in larger towns and cities.

Over the following two years it would be rolled out to smaller centres.

I check my mail only around once a week. I reckon the number of people who need daily mail delivery is quite small.

I don’t want NZ Post to end up needing taxpayer subsidies. So reducing their costs is inevitable, as revenue falls.

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Oh dear

February 12th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former Greens MP Sue Kedgley last year switched power companies to avoid a new smart meter. She said she was concerned about privacy and electromagnetic radiation.

More sad than funny. First they were worried about radiation from cellphone towers, then it was radiation from wifi, and now it is radiation from smart meters!!

Sue may need to find a concrete bunker with no electronics, to make sure she is properly safe.

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Hannifin de Joux partners with Crosby Textor

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

Hannifin de Joux is the Public Affairs and Campaign company of Kiri Kannifin and Jo de Joux. Kiri is a former political advisor in the 5th Labour Government and Jo has been the very successful campaign manager for National for four elections and three by-elections.

They’re just announced:

Kiri Hannifin and Jo de Joux today announced the formation of Hannifin de Joux, an integrated public affairs and campaign consultancy that will form a strategic partnership with CrosbyITextor Group in New Zealand. …

CrosbyITextor is the world’s leading market research, strategic communications and campaign management agency. The company has offices in Australia, the UK, Italy and the UAE.  

“Our collaboration with CrosbyITextor enables us to share their global best practice with local clients. It means we can provide our clients with sophisticated and targeted strategies based on the solid foundation of market research and insights,” says Ms de Joux.

The creation of political strategists Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor, the CrosbyITextor Group draws from an unrivalled bank of campaign experience and expertise to advise corporate clients, investors, industry associations and governments worldwide.

The partnership with Crosby Textor is significant. They are in demand around the globe. I know both Mark Textor and Lynton Crosby, and their experience, insights and effectiveness are almost unmatched. They’re so successful that their very name causes some on the left to enter fits of rage!

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Latest alcohol use research

February 9th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Ministry of Health has released its survey of alcohol use in 2012/13. Now bear in mind we’ve had years of people claiming that things are getting worse in NZ and we need to ban some alcoholic products, ban advertising, ban sponsorship, close bars earlier and make it harder to buy a bottle of wine at the supermarket.

So what does this research find has been the trend in the last five years (since 2007/08):

  • A 3% drop from 85% to 82% in the number of adults who drink
  • A 2% drop from 32% to 30% in the number of adults who say they drank before age 15
  • A 22% drop in spirits consumers from 49% of adults to 27%
  • A 17% drop in wine consumers from 69% of adults to 52%
  • A 7% drop in beer consumers from 66% to 59%
  • A 5% drop in RTD consumers from 22% to 17%
  • A trend of more moderate drinking with high frequency down from 29% to 28% and low frequency up from 39% to 42%
  • A drop in those getting intoxicated from 59% to 57%
  • A drop in alcohol caused self harm from 5.5% to 4.1%
  • A drop in alcohol adversely affecting home life from 8.5% to 6.1%

There is of course still significant harm caused by alcohol abuse, just as there is also significant pleasure caused by non abusive consumption of alcohol. What is clear is numerous indicators is the trend is positive.

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Why don’t they buy it if they want to save it?

February 9th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A landmark 1905 villa sitting on a $3.5 million piece of land in Herne Bay, the country’s most expensive suburb, is for sale for removal.

The Jervois Rd landmark was occupied by the Erawan Thai restaurant for more than 20 years, but in 2012, owner Jessica Woo got approval from Auckland Council to remove or demolish it.

Ms Woo also owns a villa backing on to the Erawan site in Lawrence St, valued at $1.42 million, which she has permission to remove or demolish.

Owners should be allowed to remove a building on their land, so they can build a new one – unless it has exceptional heritage value.

The building in 110 years old. Age alone does not make a building a heritage building. In most countries a building 100 years old isn’t even uncommon – their heritage buildings are the ones 400 years old.

The Western Bays Community Group has called the potential loss of the villa a shocker.

Christine Cavanagh, of Herne Bay 1011, said while the group understood the owner had consent to remove the building, “we’re extremely concerned that this is just the start of heritage destruction”.

She said just four doors away, two adjoining villas were for sale on the north side of Jervois Rd between Lawrence St and Sentinel Rd. They have no heritage protection under the Auckland Council’s proposed Unitary Plan.

This did not make sense, Mrs Cavanagh said, when adjoining streets were protected by a pre-1944 demolition rule in the draft plan – the new planning rulebook.

I have a solution. Why doesn’t Herne Bay 1011 buy the villa and spent their own money on keeping it?

If the villa was not listed as a heritage property when the current owner purchased it, it is grossly unfair to try and retrospectively change its classification, as this can massively affect the value of the property.

There are a number of properties in New Zealand that do deserve heritage protection. But just because a house is an old villa, doesn’t mean it does.

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NZ Judge picked for top UK role

February 9th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A New Zealand judge has been picked from 150 candidates, after a “robust” vetting process, to lead a mammoth inquiry into historic child sex abuse allegations in Britain, including an alleged political paedophile ring.

High Court Justice Lowell Goddard will chair the inquiry, which was announced in July last year by British Prime Minister David Cameron, following a string of scandals involving the abuse of children at hospitals and care homes as well as churches and schools.

Justice Goddard is based at the High Court in Wellington and told the BBC that coming from New Zealand was an advantage in that she came into the inquiry with no context or agenda “other than to work hard and get to the bottom of the allegations and to find answers”. She said the “robust” vetting process she was put through before being selected to lead the probe was “absolutely in order”.

 

Justice Goddard has been a NZ High Court Judge for 19 years, and is the former chair of the Independent Police Complaints Authority.

It’s nice to see a NZ Judge selected for what will be an incredibly challenging and high profile role in a much larger country.

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Spiders in New Zealand

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

A hilarious thread on Reddit when someone asked on RedditAre there a lot of spiders in NZ, compared to the US?

The most popular and hence top answer was:

There are quite a few but during the summer months when they’re breeding you’re allowed to catch the adults if they’re more than 12cm (five inches) wide.

In my experience it’s best to warn tourists before they eat a dish with them in it because some people can be fussy when it comes to what they’re used to eating. TBH it’s mainly older people who have them, younger people would rather have McDonalds or something.

This then led to scores of further comments, all keeping the theme going.

You got the recipe for Katipo fritters? I remember we used to have them down at the batch. Nana and grandad would turn up in the Morris with a chillybin full and we’d fry them up on the beach with kea eggs and sheep’s milk. Never found the recipe.

Damn things are endangered now. The Katipo, not the sheep.

And

To that end, it is common for New Zealanders to travel out to the beaches and forests of New Zealand during summer (peak breeding season) to help keep numbers down, walking through the bush and fossicking through the dunes in an effort to help out our native populations by thinning numbers of non-indigenous spiders while getting a really good feed.

I don’t think I’m out of line in saying it is many New Zealander’s most treasured part of our national day, Waitangi Day, which commemorates Maori and the Crown reaching agreement on the management of our spider population, and then sitting down to a shared meal of roasted spiders, a tradition that lives on to this day.

With Waitangi day being tomorrow (Feb 6th) I’m really looking forward to my family’s traditional spider cook-up! This year we are trying a variant of pavlova that utilises spider eggs! Yum!

And quite cleverly:

It’s a bloody outrage they reduced the size limit to 12cm IMO. Back when I was a kid, you used to be able to find heaps that were over 20cm! We sold them to the local fish and chip shop, they made fritters out of them. After all the lobbying to reduce the size limits, the proper sized ones are so much rarer. I think the commercial companies have just over foraged, and we might see a real reduction in our stocks in time. That said, I can’t see it happening in the next decade or so.

Some politics:

This is why I voted National. They were the only party to promise to completely revise the Arachnid Harvesting Act so that every day New Zealanders can enjoy an eight-legged feed like the old days. Spiders and snapper were the most important election issues last year imho.

And:

But remember when Simon Bridges opened up the Spider Sanctuary to oil drilling? An oil spill would be catastrophic for our spider-based economy.

Best of all:

New Zealand actually has the most spiders per capita (SPCA it’s called in official documentation). We signed a treaty with them to give them the sovereign nation of Hamilton. …

Shortly thereafter, they died of chlamydia. …

Not ALL of them died. A lot moved to Gore.

Read the whole thread and enjoy.

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Police could do more

February 8th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A man who tracked his stolen iPad is disappointed police could not obtain a search warrant to recover it.

The Napier tradesman had the iPad and about $7000 of equipment stolen from his van on Monday evening.

Using the Find My iPad feature, an application that uses GPS to track the device, he tracked it to the suburb of Onekawa. Police applied for a search warrant for a specific address but a police spokeswoman said this was declined “on the basis that there wasn’t enough evidence”.

“While it did “ping” in the [address] vicinity, that is only regarded as a general area and not a specific location. Often with these tracking cases we have found items not in the locations specified by the apps, but nearby,” the spokeswoman said.

She could not say whether police took any further action concerning the man’s complaint, such as making inquiries of the property’s occupants.

 

This isn’t good enough.

Yes sometimes the GPS location is slightly off by 10 metres or so. In built up areas this could mean a different house.

But surely the Police can still make inquiries. Go knock on the door and ask questions. Check if known criminals are at the address or nearby. Ask for permission to check the house. Use the Find My iPad feature to get it to make a loud noise.

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A terrifying sight in London

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

B9PILqWIYAAPrDU

From Matthew Steele on Twitter.

Patrick Gower has gone global and viral for the Waitangi Day pub crawl in London. I love it.

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Auckland Council pays $200,000 for a cock and balls

February 6th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

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Photo (c) Nick Reed, NZ Herald

The Herald reports:

A $200,000 public sculpture being installed in Auckland is causing a stir with locals, who say it resembles a penis.

More than resembles I’d say!

The Auckland Council-commissioned Transit Cloud has been created as part of a project to breathe new life into traditionally working class New Lynn.

Will Mayor Len Brown launch the sculpture? That would be a photo op!

“What the hell is that? It’s certainly not a cloud. It looks like a penis,” said Joy Dale, of Mt Roskill.

She said the sculpture was a waste of ratepayers’ money and the council would be better spending the money on more security and patrols in the area.

Indeed.

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State gambling up, other gambling down

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

The DIA report:

Gamblers in New Zealand spent $2091 million dollars on the four main forms of gambling in the 2013/14 financial year, $19 million (0.9 per cent) more than the previous year, according to figures compiled by the Department of Internal Affairs. They spent more on racing, sport and lotteries; but less in casinos and on pub and club pokies.

· TAB racing and sports betting increased by 5.6 per cent, from $294 million to $311 million

· Spending on NZ Lotteries products rose 7.2 per cent, from $432 million to $463 million

· Spending on gaming machines (pokies) in pubs and clubs dropped by -2.2 per cent, from $826 million to $808 million; and

· Casino gambling expenditure declined by -2.1 per cent, from $520 million to $509 million.

So the two forms of gambling that are state monopolies have increased, while the two forms which get all the publicity in the media are actually decreasing.

When adjusted for inflation total gambling expenditure in 2014 declined by almost 20 per cent from a peak recorded in 2004 ($2610 million real dollars).

The better measure would be real spending per capita which would show an even larger decline.

Communities benefited from an estimated $613 million, or 29 per cent of gambling expenditure, for various purposes. · The New Zealand Racing Board allocated $137 million to racing club activities and infrastructure

Never understood why funds from gambling on all sports tend to go to the racing industry. The TAB should not have a monopoloy on sports betting.

· The NZ Lotteries Commission transferred $231 million to the Lottery Grants Board for distribution to community services and projects

· Non-casino gaming machine trusts raised an estimated $242 million for authorised community purposes; and,

· Casinos paid just over $3 million to their community trusts.

Almost half a billion there.

In addition, gambling operators pay a levy from their profits to meet the costs of an integrated problem gambling strategy – estimated to be $54 million (GST exclusive) for the current 2013-16 levy period.

That’s a huge amount. How effectively is that money being spent?

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Top rated ISPs

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

The annual Consumer survey of ISPs is out. Five ISPs had a rating of 90% or higher. They are:

  1. Inspire Net and Actrix 97%
  2. Snap 93%
  3. WxC and Now NZ 90%

Always happy to see Kiwiblog’s host ISP rated at the top.

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Who should be exempt from rates?

February 5th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Churches and charitable groups could be asked to start paying rates as councils look at new ways to raise money.

Pressure is also mounting on the Government to pay rates on hospitals, schools and conservation land.

A discussion paper released this week by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) considers alternative funding options for councils as many are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for infrastructure and services amid population decline and growing costs.

Churches and charitable groups say paying full rates would prevent them providing much-needed services in the community. …

Christchurch city councillor Raf Manji, who was a member of the working group that helped develop the paper, said it was “an interesting idea”.

He said he did not see why religious groups should be exempt from paying rates.

Land used for religious worship, religious education or for charitable purposes are all classed as non-rateable under existing legislation. Councils can levy targeted rates for water, sewerage and refuse collection but not any other type of rate.

Land for religious worship or education is exempt from rates. I’m not aware that land used for charitable purposes is exempt. There is an exemption though for land used “for the free maintenance or relief of persons in need” which is a much narrower definition than just being charitable. Also there is a limit of 1.5 hectares.

I’m of the view that churches should be treated on the same basis as other charities. If the Red Cross pays rates on its buildings, then churches should also. I do not regard preaching belief in a God is a basis for not paying rates. If a church provides charitable services such as soup kitchens, emergency shelters and the like – then they should be treated on the same basis as any other charity.

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