I’ve either been hacked or spied on

August 15th, 2014 at 7:40 am by David Farrar

I started reading more fully the Nicky Hager book yesterday, and the footnotes in the book. To my shock I realised that Hager had info in the book that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office.

Specifically he refers to copies of two scripts used by my company, Curia Research, this year. There is absolutely no way they could have come from Cameron Slater’s computer systems, as Cameron doesn’t have them. No one has them but me and my office.

I thought about how this could have happened. The two most likely scenarios are that my computer systems have also been hacked, or that someone physically removed the scripts from my office (or possibly apartment). All of these scenarios make me feel sick, and make me worry about the security of the 100+ staff working for me.

Some of the material is very recent – from June 2014 – just two months ago. I think the most likely thing is that someone joined the staff (we recruit often) with the purpose of acquiring material from my office. There’s no evidence of a break in, and I tend to keep my computer systems fairly secure.

I am sure the official explanation will be that the scripts just turned up in an envelope somewhere, and they have no idea how they got there. I think that is bullshit. Most of my staff are young students, who I can’t imagine would suddenly decide to send a copy of my scripts to Nicky Hager in the post.

I consider this outrageous, just as I hope people would if someone from the right infiltrated the offices of the Labour Party pollsters, to steal their material.

There is no public interest defence to the stealing of the material belonging to my clients. There was nothing sinister or inappropriate in it.  In fact one of the scripts detailed in the book is of some questions we did for Family First, who published the results on their website, including the full questions. But I know Hager has a copy of the script as he has quoted the question numbers, which are not included in the published results.

I do not accept that because I am a blogger, and my company has National as a client, it makes it all right for me to be hacked or spied on, and material stolen from me.

This is the second Hager book that has e-mails from or to me. In 2008 (off memory) a left wing activist gained entry to a social function I was at, and covertly tape recorded conversations. My office has been infiltrated. To be honest, I’m pretty disgusted at the moment as I consider the pattern over several years.

I don’t hold the left generally responsible. I have many many friends involved in politics on the left. I’ve appreciated their support in recent days. They are good people. I think most Labour and Green MPs are good people. But there is an extreme segment of the left who do think that it is okay to hack, steal, record and spy on others, because we are of the right.

My gut reaction last night was to give up politics, if it means that I am going to have to worry about spies infiltrating my company, my communications being hacked, people recording private conversations with me. I regard my family, friends and loved ones as far more important to me, than my involvement in politics. But I’m not going to do that in haste.

Instead with huge regret I’m going to have to stop being so trusting. I’m going to have to pay what will be possibly a fair bit of money to check my apartment, my office and my computer systems for anything that shouldn’t be there. While my assumption is that the scripts came from someone who had physical access to my office, I can’t be sure. If people regard hacking and stealing as fair game, I don’t have the confidence they’ll stop at that.

I could introduce systems in my office where staff get personalised copies of scripts, that must be handed in,and have security cameras to record people. But I’m not going to do that. I value my staff too much to insult them. All but one of them will be as offended as I am, by the fact someone has betrayed their trust by stealing material (if my assumption is correct).

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the cleaners stole it. Should I check out my cleaners also? I hate the fact I’m even having to think about this. I’m sure again that there will be some official version offered in which no one did anything wrong to acquire those scripts, but pardon me, if I have some disbelief.

Curia’s 10th birthday

March 31st, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

10 years ago today was the day I left a fulltime job at Parliament to become self-employed and set up Curia Market Research.

While I was fortunate to have one significant initial client, it was still a leap into the dark to go from a fixed income to a variable income. And like many self-employed people my earnings in the first couple of years was significantly less than what I was earning as an employee.

Curia has been very fortunate to have some incredibly talented staff who have actually run much of the business for me, allowing me to focus on the stuff I enjoy – the polling. From the early days of Ross, Anna, Yvette and Katrina to my current managers and supervisors of Basma and Rebecca – and many in-between. One of the nice things about being a business owner is you are forced to get good at delegating, as there is too much to do, to do it all yourself.

During the last decade, Curia has (approximately):

  • Worked for 92 clients
  • Conducted around 1,100 polls
  • Employed over 500 staff
  • Paid several million dollars of tax

It’s enjoyable running a business where clients choose you entirely on your reputation, quality and price. We’ve never done advertising or soliciting of business. It’s all pretty much been word of mouth. Market research is a competitive industry and there are many other very good firms out there. I’m just pleased we’ve managed to grow the market, and find a useful niche for ourselves.

I enjoy the fact that as a business owner I’m playing a small contribution to economic growth and providing employment to a lot of students (and a few others), to help finance their studies.

The decade has gone by quickly. I became a business owner at age 36 and am now 46. I guess the good thing is I hopefully have two or three more decades of self-employment to go – if things continue to go well. There’s no guarantee of that, but I’m optimistic.

Protecting student privacy

July 4th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Waldo Kuipers at Microsoft blogs on the issue of protecting student privacy.

New Zealand’s schools work hard to earn the trust of their communities. As part of the important work they do, schools need to collect and hold a large body of confidential and private information about children and their families.

The 2020 Communications Trust ICT in Schools survey suggests that if digital records and email are not already used extensively in every New Zealand school, they soon will be.

In recent years some schools have taken a step further, and are starting to send information to computing services outside the school grounds for storage and processing.

In the hands of teachers who have been supported with skills development and the freedom to innovate, new devices and cloud services present wonderful opportunities to prepare students for the future.

Microsoft had Curia do a survey of parents on their expectations. The results were:

  • 95% want schools to require providers of computing and Internet services to commit by contract that they’ll only use student data to deliver services to schools, not for the companies’ own purposes.
  • 97% of parents want schools to ensure student data is used only for education, and not for commercial exploitation.
  • 99% of parents indicated their belief that schools’ duty of care should apply to the computer and Internet environment they provide for student learning.

Paul Little on polls

March 24th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Little writes in the HoS:

Family First got market research outfit Curia to survey attitudes on assaulting children – or “smacking” as they call it – as part of its perpetual campaign to have the law forbidding this overturned.

Whenever someone refers to smacking as assault, it isn’t hard to guess their views on the issue.

Family First appears to believe that not being smacked is the single most important issue facing our children. A “whopping” 77 per cent of those polled, FF claimed, wanted the law changed to bring back the bash.

Obviously, results on a question like this will depend on how it is framed. In this case, the 1000 respondents were asked whether the law should be changed so that “parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law”.

In other words, it was saying, “Do you believe something that is reasonable is reasonable?”

Critiquing of questions is always welcome. I do it myself to other polls, and it is important people understand the exact question asked.

In this case though what Mr Little overlooks is that the use of the term “reasonable” is not invented by Curia. It is the term that was in the law prior to 2007, and is the term used in the amendment that was put up by John Boscawen (and previously Chester Borrows), and is a term still in the law today. It is a term that was at the heart of the two year debate on the law.

“Should the law be changed so that it is legal to hit children when it is not legal to hit adults, or should there be one law for all?”

That would have got a different result. But it wouldn’t have been a very useful question to find out the answer to the question about whether people want the law to allow correctional smacking that uses reasonable force (as the law used to allow). I would also point out that the term reasonable force is still in the Crimes Act (s59) as parents can use reasonable force for:

  • preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person
  • preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour
  • performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting

So I think the use of “reasonable” is entirely reasonable considering the current law.

Two other questions in the survey were equally absurd. Seventy-seven per cent said the new law had had no effect on child abuse. All credit to Curia for finding 1000 people who were up to speed with the latest data in that field.

Mr Little seems to be suggesting that people can’t have opinions on an issue, unless they are an expert on the field. I presume he also decries polls that ask people if they think fracking is unsafe and should be banned?

It is absolutely valid to find out if people think a law change has worked. What isn’t valid is to take the results of the poll as meaning the law has not worked. This is about finding out what people think.

The official crime stats should that NZ has less violent crime than in the past. But I don’t think this means it is wrong to ask people whether they think NZ is safer than in the past.

I blogged today on a poll regarding safety of nuclear powered ships by UMR. Does Mr Little think UMR were wrong to ask non-experts on whether they think nuclear powered ships are safe?

For the problem with Question 3 – “Would you still smack your child if you thought it was reasonable … despite the current law?” – see Question 1, above.

Mr Little misses the point of this question. Apart from the fact that the term “reasonable” is used because it is in the former (and current) law, this question is about finding out if people will obey the law, even if they disagree with it. An overwhelming majority say they will ignore the law and do correctional smacking even though it is explicitly illegal. That is a quite extraordinary to have so many people say they will break the law.

Not surprised

December 7th, 2012 at 5:51 am by David Farrar

Hamish McNeilly at the ODT reports:

Former Dunedin mayoral aspirant Olivier Lequeux was surprised to learn he had been declared bankrupt yesterday.

“I am not aware of that. Really?” the 45-year-old told the Otago Daily Times last night.

When told he was declared bankrupt in the High Court at Dunedin yesterday over an unpaid debt to Wests NZ Ltd, Mr Lequeux said he was “quite shocked”.

“What do I do, bankrupt? I should tell my lawyer.”

He acknowledged he had a disagreement with the company’s owner, and “he did it because I could not be bothered; I am probably an arrogant Frenchman”. …

The French-born New Zealander said despite the latest setback he remained committed to his adopted city, where he ran for mayor in 2007 and 2010.

A creditor, who declined to be named, said his business had been paid only a deposit by Mr Lequeux and had spent a year trying to get payment for an undisclosed debt.

“He didn’t want to pay, so this is the conclusion.”

I can’t say I am surprised as Me Lequeux is, to date, the only bad debt Curia has had to write off. I did polling for him for his 2007 Mayoral bid (which was published in the ODT and was very close to the actual result) and despite numerous requests over 24 months, he never paid his bill. I eventually wrote the debt off.

My policy now is to do what Wests have just done, and apply to court for a liquidation or bankruptcy order for bad debts. There has only been one other bad debt in eight and a half years of trading. Note these are not debts that are disputed in any way. In neither case was there any dissatisfaction at all. They just kept saying they would pay – and simply never did.

Lequeux is, or was, a Labour Party member who stood for the Dunedin South nomination in 2008. I joked at the time I wrote his debt off that I’ll never take a Labour party member as a client again 🙂

I was kidding. Curia has and does polling for people across the political spectrum – subject to conflict of interest ethics. You can’t work for direct competitors so if for example you poll for a political party at a national level, you couldn’t do work for another political party at that level. But at local body level, you are only conflicted if people are standing in the same race – so I’ve polled for candidates who are Labour Party members, Alliance members, National members and of course those not members of a political party at all.

I’m a bit sad for Olivier. A warm guy, who is passionate about Dunedin. Never nice to see anyone bankrupted. But paying your bills should not be seen as an optional activity.

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 56, April 2012

May 7th, 2012 at 7:57 pm by David Farrar

Just published the latest monthly newsletter summarising the polls. You can subscribe to receive it by e-mail here.

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 56, April 2012

 April saw four political polls published – two Roy Morgan polls a 3 News Reid Research poll and a Herald Digipoll.

The average of the public polls has National 19% ahead of Labour, up from 18% in March. The centre-right has 63 out of 121 seats on the April average.

Australia has the Government 17% to 18% behind the Opposition on a two party preferred basis. Gillard’s approval ratings are at record lows with 63% disapproval.

In the United States Barack Obama is 1..9% ahead of Mitt Romney in the polls, but projected to be well ahead in likely electoral college votes. His re-election chances are now rated at 60%, down from 61% last month.

The Republicans remained favoured to keep control in the House (72%) and gain a majority in the Senate (63%).

In the UK the Conservatives are now 9% behind Labour, and were trounced in the local elections.

In Canada the Conservatives are still impacted by a fake robo-call scandal and the NDP is now level with them in the polls.

The normal two tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment and head of government approval sentiment for the five countries. New Zealand continues to stand out in both.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on Epsom, the 2011 Election, paid parental leave, the Sky City plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please e-mail newsletter@curia.co.nz with your name, organization (if applicable) and e-mail address or go to http://listserver.actrix.co.nz/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/polling-newsletter to subscribe yourself.

Teens and Young Adults on sex issues

January 9th, 2012 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

Family First have released the results of some polling done amongst 16 to 21 year old New Zealanders by Curia. The summary is:

When asked “Do you think sex education in schools should teach values, abstinence and consequences such as pregnancy, or just teach safe sex?” only 19% supported just the ‘safe sex’ message currently being taught in schools, with one in three (34%) wanting ‘values, abstinence, and consequences such as pregnancy’ taught instead, and a further 42% asking for a combination of both – especially amongst older teens. The support for just the ‘safe sex’ message dropped even lower for the older teens. …

When asked “Provided it won’t put the girl in physical danger, should parents be told if their school-age daughter is pregnant and considering getting an abortion?” 59% of young respondents thought the parents should be told. 34% disagreed. More young men than women agreed, but both had majority agreement.

When asked “Do you believe an unborn child or foetus has a right to be born?” 56% of youth respondents said they believed an unborn child or foetus has a right to be born. Slightly more young women than young men agreed – 58% to 55%. Those aged 15 to 17 were strongest in support – 66%.

It was intriguing that young women were slightly more supportive than young men of there being a right to be born for an unborn child or foetus.

The parental notification results may surprise some, but thinking about it it is normal that most young people would expect to talk to parents about any unplanned pregnancy. The question did not specifically say “Should the law require parents to be told …” but at a minimum it makes clear that a majority thought parental notification should occur.

Note that of course the results do not necessarily represent my personal views.

August Public Polls

September 6th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Have just published the Curia polling newsletter for August 2011. The summary page is:

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 51, August 2011

August saw six political polls published – two Roy Morgan polls, a One News Colmar Brunton, a 3 News Reid Research, a NZ Herald Digipoll and a Fairfax Research International poll.

The average of the public polls has National 24% ahead of Labour and able to govern alone. The gap in July was 22%, so the gap widened in August, as it has for the last three months.

Australia may end up with a new Prime Minister before the next election. Julia Gillard’s approval rating has fallen 18% in one month to a net -45%.

 In the United States Barack Obama is in freefall. His approval rating has dropped 12%, his handling of the economy by 10% and the right vs wrong direction for the country is down 14% to around the lowest point it was under George W Bush. Meanwhile Texas Governor Rick Perry has all the momentum for the Republican 2012 nomination.

In the UK the riots have had little change on the polls, with Labour 4% ahead of the Conservatives.

In Canada the Conservatives have lost 5% to the New Democratic Party. This is probably due to sympathy at the death of long-time NDP Leader Jack Layton.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on the Labour leadership, the Rugby World Cup, asset sales, KiwiSaver, law & order and the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to http://listserver.actrix.co.nz/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/polling-newsletter to subscribe yourself.

Correspondence and feedback is also welcome to the same address.

And a graph from the newsletter:

There’s been a quite clear trend for the last three months, and Labour on the average of all polls is below 30% for the first time since 2009. Just over 11 weeks to turn the trend around.

The polls in July

August 1st, 2011 at 2:22 pm by David Farrar

Public Polls July 2011

Curia publishes a (free) monthly newsletter summarising the polls in New Zealand, Australia, US, UK and Canada. It is normally available by e-mail only (you can subscribe here), but I thought I would share this one through Scribd.


March 28th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Bob McCoskrie blogs:

The majority of New Zealanders think women considering abortion have the right to be fully informed of the medical risks of abortion – and the alternatives. 

In the poll of 1,000 people undertaken by Curia Market Research this month, respondents were asked “Would you support a law that would require a woman considering an abortion to first see a doctor, who is not an abortion provider, to be informed of the medical risks and alternatives to abortion?” 

64% supported this proposed law, 29% disagreed, and the remainder (8%) were either unsure or refused to answer. Interestingly, women were slightly more in favour of informed consent than men.

Now my company did this poll for Family First. I was very surprised by the result, especially the fact more women (65%) than men (62%) were in favour of the proposed law.

I should make clear that my personal position is that the law should allow abortion on demand, during the period a feotus would not be viable. I would have answered “no” to the poll question.

When the result came out, I asked a couple of female friends what they thought, as I was puzzled that more women said they supported a law effectively making it more difficult to have an abortion. Their answer was that women want safety and quality in their healthcare, and many would interpret that question as leading to more rigorous process. I’m not sure if their view is why that result was obtained, but it is plausible.

One salient question I would pose on this issue is whether such a procedure would actually lead to some women not having an abortion due to “better” information, who do currently have an abortion – or would it just be an extra hassle and cost for every woman seeking an abortion, and not actually change anything.

Was Maurice right?

October 8th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald has reported on a poll done by Curia for Natural Dairy, who are bidding to buy the Crafar farms.  They have placed online the full results.

The results were pretty interesting. There were three main things we were trying to ascertain:

  1. The instinctive view of foreign ownership of farms
  2. How that view may change under various scenarios
  3. Whether the nationality of the foreign owner matters

The answer to (1) was pretty clear cut. 65% said that farms should only be able to be sold to NZ residents, with only 28% disagreeing.

With (2) three different scenarios were put about only employing NZ workers, paying tax in New Zealand and increasing exports. All of them reduce the level of opposition to some degree. Only 40% said the location of the owner matters if only NZ workers are employed. On the tax issue, only 42% said the location of the owner matters if tax is paid in NZ. But 52% would still be against foreign ownership even if the extra investment could triple output and exports.

So it showed that the level of opposition can reduce under various scenarios, but it still remains controversial.

The final aspect was finding out the level of comfort or discomfort based on the nationality of the intended buyer. In an ideal world, there would be no difference. So the first thing I looked for is how many people said they had the same level of comfort or discomfort for all five nationalities. It didn’t matter whether they were hostile to all five, or relaxed about all five – it was whether they treated them the same.

Only 42% rated all nationalities the same. 58% said that their level of comfort or discomfort varies by nationality.

We used a five point scale. If you define the net comfort result as the two most comfortable response options less the two most uncomfortable response options, then the net comfort results were:

  1. Australian +31%
  2. British +16%
  3. American +1%
  4. French -9%
  5. Chinese -25%

This suggest to me that Maurice was not entirely incorrect when he said some opposition to foreign investment is fueled by racism. Certainly not all of it,m but for a fair few people, they are happy to have foreigners own NZ farms – so long as they are Australian and British, not Chinese.

August Polls

September 12th, 2010 at 6:41 pm by David Farrar

Have just sent out the August polling newsletter, summarising the polls in NZ, Australia, US, UK and Canada. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

Has been a lot of issues polls this month – on oil substitutes, Christchurch Mayoralty, liquor sale hours, euthanasia, local election issues, compulsory te reo Maori, the Auckland Council, land sales to foreigners, the drink driving limit, 90 day probation periods, Chris Carter & Phil Goff and the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

The mobile termination rates decision

March 11th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour yesterday announced a formal position on mobile termination rates:

The Government should put consumers first and regulate mobile termination rates to keep call costs down, Labour spokesperson for communications and IT Clare Curran said today.

“High mobile termination rates are a barrier to entry for new players in the market, which leads to less competition and higher prices,” Clare Curran said.

“While Vodafone and Telecom have now offered to lower termination rates by around 80 per cent, it still does not go far enough to reduce the major issues for new entrants.

I think it is a good thing that Labour have learnt from their mistakes, when they did a deal with the two telcos in 2007, rather than accept the advice to regulate.

Slightly amused that their formal policy stance comes just days after Clare had a whack at Matthew Hooton for implying Labour support the Drop the Rate, Mate campaign.

The Drop the Rate, Mate campaign also yesterday released their submission to the Minister, including some research done by Curia of 400 mobile phone users. Key findings were:

  • Only 18% of respondents wanted the Government to accept the binding promises of Telecom and Vodafone, while 78% wanted the Government to regulate
  • 79% agreed that Telecom and Vodafone are overcharging New Zealanders
  • 85% agreed with the proposition that it should cost the same to call someone on a different network, as to call someone on your own network


Chris Barton in the Herald is not shy with his opinion of what the Government should do:

So far, you have to say, Joyce has played with an exceedingly straight bat. But it won’t be easy negotiating the quagmire of a split recommendation by Commerce Commissioners on mobile termination rates. Two argue for putting heads in the sand while one voice of reason says enough is enough – Vodafone and Telecom have had more than enough time to sort this out and have, time and again, shown they can’t be trusted.

Joyce will be familiar with the sordid last-minute deal stitched together between new mobile entrant 2degrees and Vodafone last year. While the public isn’t allowed to know about this venality, anyone who cares to can find it online (search under “NZ Cellphone racket”). It shows that Vodafone will move if it has a gun to its head. Joyce will also be familiar with www.droptherate.org.nz and www.fibretothedoor.co.nz – two campaigning websites where the public is helping the minister make up his mind.

Go there at once.

What fed-up consumers want minister, is Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry. For some of us, it’s so bad, we don’t just want Clint to pull out his .44 Magnum and ask whether the punk feels lucky. With Telecom and Vodafone, we want him to pull the trigger.

The challenge for the Minister, is how quickly can a regulated price be established, if he chooses to regulate. The undertakings would take place more quickly. However the likely regulated price would see prices by 2011 drop further, and remain lower.

Curia poll on Auckland Mayoralty

February 22nd, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Over at Curiablog, I have blogged the results of a poll done last week of 1,200 Aucklanders on the Auckland Mayoralty.

It is very rare to have a dead tie between two candidates, but that is what we got – of the 85% of respondents who had a preference between John Banks and Len Brown, they got 50.0% each.

Banks, who is the client who commissioned the poll, has a small 4.4% lead when we ask Aucklanders unprompted who their preference for Mayor is. He gets 42.5% to 38.1% for Brown. Bob Harvey is at 7.2% and Stephen Tindall at 4.8%.

But in the second question, when asked if it is a choice between John Banks and Len Brown, they are dead even. This is a change from the previous poll in September when Brown was almost 10% ahead of Banks.

It looks like it will be a very interesting contest!

The Foreshore & Seabed

February 5th, 2010 at 1:59 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton’s Exceltium has just put out a newsletter (EQ Summer 2010) focusing on the Foreshore & Seabed issue.It is a very interesting analysis of the extensive background to the issue, and some of the risks the Government faces. It is a complex area.

My firm, Curia, did some polling of New Zealanders on the issues around the Foreshore & Seabed, and Matthew talks about some of the interesting findings:

There is evidence of considerable public goodwill towards resolving the foreshore and seabed issue in a sensible way. According to the Curia polling carried out for Exceltium, 64% of the public support a reconsideration of the Act, including 54% of those who voted Labour in 2008, 69% of women and a massive 72% of those who voted National. This is despite 44% of the public saying they are happy with the ways things are now, with only 39% disagreeing with this proposition.

So most Labour and National voters support a reconsideration, but some also say they’re pretty happy with the status quo.

Neither main party’s handling of the issue in the mid 2000s now scores well among the public. There is strong agreement that Labour handled the issue poorly, with 46% saying its handling was “poor” or “very poor”, and only 16% prepared to say it was handled “well” or “very well”. In contrast to what polls suggested at the time, more people (36%) now claim to have disagreed with Dr Brash’s Orewa speech than those who say they agreed with it (25%). Remarkably, only 12% of National voters in 2008 now say they “strongly agreed” with their former leader’s speech. These figures suggest a degree of revisionism by voters about their own opinions in 2004.

I was surprised at how much opinion has changed over the five years. To some degree I think this is because of the media constantly referring to the Orewa speech in such negative terms.

As many as 70% of respondents to the Curia poll say they are “not at all informed” or only “a little informed” about the issues around the Act. Just 8% say they are “highly informed”. This is confirmed by the fact that 36% of New Zealanders believe that less than 10% of the coastline is currently owned privately and only 20% of people believe more than 20% of the coastline is in private hands. In fact, about 30% of the coastline is currently owned privately.

The unbroken Queens Chain is more myth than reality.

Of propositions tested by Curia, overwhelmingly the public agreed most strongly with the statement “the Government should ensure equal access to the foreshore and seabed for everyone”. As many as 59% of people strongly agreed with this proposition with another 27% somewhat agreeing. Just 6% disagreed. Access overwhelmed even ownership as an issue with 62% agreeing with the statement “I don’t mind who owns the foreshore and seabed, so long as I can access the beach whenever I want to.” Consistent with this, 59% say “private owners of coastal areas shouldn’t be allowed to exclude the public from using the area.”

Access is not the only issue, but for most Kiwis the biggest issue. They want more access, not less.

Second only to agreement with the proposition about equal access was agreement with the statement “the Government should not pass a law to remove the right of any group of New Zealanders to take a claim to court.” As many as 62% of New Zealanders agreed with that statement – 30% strongly agreeing – and only 21% disagreed. Half the population
agree with the statement “the courts are the right place to decide who owns the foreshore and seabed” with only 31% disagreeing.

That was 3:1 against the Government removing the right to take a claim to court.

“Special rights ” for Maori opposed but “custo mary rig hts ” ok

In contrast with the view that the courts are the best place to resolve the foreshore and seabed issue, 48% of respondents to the Curia poll agree the Act was “too generous” to Maori as it gave them “special rights”. It is not clear what the public defines as “special” because 53% of the population appears to agree the law should provide for local Maori to undertake customary activities on beaches where continuity of use since 1840 can be proved.

It is interesting how some people say they are against “special rights” but they are for “customary rights” when it is explained what these are.

What was also very interesting (to me anyway) is that some people said they both agreed the Foreshore & Seabed Act was unfair to Maori as it took away their right to go to court, but also that the FSA was too generous to Maori as it gave them special rights.

Now some of this may just be the way the questions are worded – they were designed to see how people respond to the issue being framed that way. But in fact, in my opinion, it is quite valid to have a view that the FSA was both unfair to Maori and too generous to Maori.

I’ve blogged on this before, but it comes down to the difference between depth and breadth.

In my opinion the FSA was unfair to Maori as it legislated away their chance to test in court their claims to foreshore usage, right down to the possibility of gaining title in some areas. This was unlikely, but it was possible. And if the law is that title exists, then that has to be negotiated away or compensated.

But while the FSA reduced the depth to which a claim could go, it increased the breadth. It made it much easier for a wider range of Iwi and Hapu to claim rights over a greater area of foreshore & seabed than the Court of Appeal decision would have probably allowed.

Now some in Labour claimed their FSA gave more to Maori than they would have got in court. Parekura Horomia said this in a debate with Derek Fox. Fox’s response was that may be the case, but they would the precedent of legislating away the right to go to court, in return for a unilateral “gifting” of rights is a bad one.

It will be interesting to see what proposals emerge from the Government. Exceltium strongly advocate that the matter should return to the courts. It is a pity that Labour in 2004 did not appeal to the Privy Council, rather than legislate, so we would have had the benefit of a definitive legal ruling from our (then) highest court.

October Public Polls

November 3rd, 2009 at 2:07 pm by David Farrar


There were four public polls in October – two Morgans, a Herald poll and a TV3 poll. Their average sees a 28% gap between National and Labour – a post election high.

The full monthly newsletter summarising public polls in NZ, Australia, US, UK and Canada has just gone out. Interested readers can subscribe to it at http://listserver.actrix.co.nz/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/polling-newsletter.

September 2009 Polls

October 12th, 2009 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar


Curia’s September 2009 public polls newsletter is out. This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail so if you would like to receive future issues, please go to http://listserver.actrix.co.nz/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/polling-newsletter to subscribe yourself.

You can also get more details of individual polls at Curiablog.

As one can see the gap closed considerably in September between National and Labour.


However not a big change in terms of projected seats for each bloc as the Greens have lost support, and ACT has gained support.

UPDATE: Have blogged at Curiablog the Roy Morgan poll out today. Has National at all time high of 57.5% and cocountry heading in right direction also at all time high of 72%.

Drop the Rate, Mate

August 11th, 2009 at 11:24 pm by David Farrar

Curia did some polling for the Drop the Rate, Mate campaign, and the full results of the polling are on curiablog.

The eight organisations behind the campaign are not ones you would normally see agree on much. You have Federated Farmers and the Unite Union. You have the Consumers Institute and the Federation of Maori Authorities. You have NZUSA and TUANZ, plus the new mobile carrier 2degrees and Airnet.

They are calling on the Government to accept the recommendation of the Commerce Commission and reduce the termination rates telcos charge each other as these rates keep competition out, and keep costs higher.  You can sign the online petition on the campaign website.

The Commerce Commission previously recommended the rates be lowered speedily by regulation, but Trevor Mallard on behalf of the then Labour Government rejected doing this, in favour of a deal with the two big telcos for smaller slower voluntary reductions (with a guarantee the reduction in the wholesale fee would be reflected in their retail fees). The Commerce Commission has concluded these did not go far enough and has recommended more dramatic drops. It is thought the current termination rate for a text message is around ten times greater than the actual cost of receiving a text message and passing it onto a phone.

I’m not surprised to see NZUSA supporting the campaign, as I found out first hand what a hot issue this is for both secondary and tertiary students. We had a couple of focus groups with students aged from around 16 to 24 and I was astonished by how passionate they were about their dislike of the current billing arrangements caused by the high termination rates.

Many said that their choice of mobile phone provider has nothing to do with personal choice, but totally dependent on who all their friends are with. Hence in Wellington most students are Telecom and in Auckland most are Vodafone. Again many of them simply will not text (or call) someone on a different network due to the cost.

I sometimes wonder what a mess we would have if ISPs charged a termination rate for e-mails. Imagine having to pay 7c to e-mail someone on a different ISP. You’d end up with only a couple of ISPs probably as no-one would want to send e-mail to people at a different ISP. This might explain why up until recently we have had only two mobile phone providers but many dozens of Internet service providers!

June 2009 Polls

July 28th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar


Not a big change to the polls in June. I’ve just put out the June polling newsletter that has details of poll in NZ, Australia, UK, US and Canada. You can subscribe to it at this page.

Over the last six weeks or so Obama has fallen from a net positive rating of +28% to +14%. -14% from last month) with 55% (-6%) approving and 41% (+8%) disapproving. He now has (based on the average of all public polls) an approval rating of 55% and disapproval of 41%.

Gallup have been polling since WWII and allow you to compare Presidents at the same stage of their presidency. At Day 171 this is how the post WWII Presidents ranked:

1. Truman 82%
2. Johnson 74%
3. Eisenhower 73%
4. Kennedy 72%
5. Carter 67%
6. Bush GHW 66%
7. Nixon 65%
8. Reagan 56%
9. Bush GW 56%
10. Obama 55%
11. Clinton 41%
12. Ford 39%

Now to be fair to Obama, the higher ratings tended to be the earlier Presidents, but nevertheless it shows the challenges ahead for him.

May 2009 Public Polls

June 3rd, 2009 at 3:01 pm by David Farrar


No major change in the polls in May.A 22% gap between National and Labour.

The monthly polling newsletter was published yesterday. You can subscribe to it here.

April 2009 Public Polls

May 6th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar


The gap between National and Labour is a healthy 21% but this is down from 26% in March. This suggests the honeymoon is ending with National back down to the level it enjoyed in early 2008.

Further graphs and tables are in Curia’s monthly e-mail newsletter which you can subscribe to here.

March Public Polls

April 6th, 2009 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


The March 2009 public polls newsleter by Curia has just been published. As one can see not a lot of change. The newsletter is e-mail only, and you can subscribe to receive it at this webpage.

Also of interest to some people may be a recent poll of small and medium busineses by Curia for BDO Spicers and Ideas Shop. Curiablog has a summary of some results and links to the main reports. I found it interesting that recruiting and retaining staff was still cited as a major challenge for many SMEs (despite the recession) and also the number of firms that had flexible working practices such as being able to go from full-time to part-time, or work partly from home.

Explaining the Polls

March 20th, 2009 at 9:02 am by David Farrar

Over at Curiablog I have blogged on the apparent differences between polls on the Section 59 law and how in fact the two polls can be reconciled to each other.

For example while the UMR poll did find only 28% opposed to the new law, they also found 58% agreed that “There are certain circumstances when it is alright for parents to use physical punishment with children” .

In fact only 20% of UMR respondents disagreed with that statement.

I’ve also covered in some detail, how different polls can be focusing on different elements of a law, and differently worded questions can produce different results. This does not mean either one is biased – it means they are focused on different things.

Public Polls February 2009

March 14th, 2009 at 3:21 pm by David Farrar


After a three month break due to the paucity of polls post-election, Curia’s regular monthly newsletter returns.

The average of the public polls has National a massive 27% ahead of Labour and easily able to govern alone. The gap at the election was 11%.

Australia sees Labor on 60.5% for a 22% lead.

In the United States Barack Obama has a net positive rating of 31% and we compare this to Bush and Clinton in their first 100 days.

The UK Labour Party is 14% behind the Conservatives who are projected to have a 1000 seat majority on these results.

In Canada the Conservatives are down to 34%, just 2% ahead of the Liberals.

We also carry details of polls in NZ. There are details of polls on job sentiment, the Labour leadership, relationships and the Government’s handling of the recession.

A new feature this month compares the right vs wrong direction poll ratings for New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the US and the UK. There is a massive difference between countries.

If you would like to receive the full newsletterby e-mail go to http://listserver.actrix.co.nz/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/polling-newsletter to subscribe yourself.

October Public Polls Newsletter

November 4th, 2008 at 10:12 am by David Farrar

Curia has just published its final monthly newsletter summarising the public polls, before the US and NZ elections. Normally we only distribute this by e-mail but I am sticking it up on the blog for download as a pdf, for interested persons, this time only: public-polls-october-2008

National has dipped down to below 50%, Labour has stayed fairly static and the Greens have had a significant increase. The interesting thing is the average of the polls is almost identical if one simly averages them all, or if you weight them by size and date.

This is the more important graph and it does show how close it is. A Government will need 62 or maybe even 63 seats to govern. National/ACT/United Future just make it. Labour/Progressive/Greens can’t govern even if the Maori Party support them. However a change of just a couple of percent means they could.

Also from the front page of the newsletter:

October saw, not surprisingly, a record ten public polls conducted– four TVNZ polls, two Morgan, two TV3 a Herald poll, a TVNZ poll and a Fairfax poll.

The average of the public polls has National 12% ahead of Labour and by the narrowest of margins able to form a Government with ACT and United Future. The gap last month was 15% so the average lead slightly narrowed in October.

Australia sees Labor on 56.5% for a 13% lead.

In the United States Barack Obama has a 6% lead in the popular vote and a projected huge 168 vote margin in the Electoral College. Only 10% of Americans say the country is heading in the right direction, which gives some idea of why the tide is not favouring incumbents. The polls also show the Democrats gaining eight Senate seats (to 59), 15 House seats and one Governorship.

The UK Labour Party is 12% behind the Conservatives who are projected to have a 70 seat majority on these results. The gap has narrowed thanks to Gordon Brown’s handing of the financial crisis.

In Canada we compare the election results to the average of the public polls and the seat predictions. The polls came out of it looking pretty good.

We also carry details of polls in NZ. There are polls in the seven Maori seats, plus Nelson, West Coast-Tasman, Palmerston North and Tauranga. Also issue polls on economic management, coalitions, organic food, beach nudity plus the usual business and consumer confidence.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail. If you would like to receive future issues, please go to http://listserver.actrix.co.nz/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/polling-newsletter to subscribe yourself.

If you want to receive future issues just use the link above.