RIP Greg King

November 3rd, 2012 at 5:43 pm by David Farrar

The media have just started to report that top lawyer Greg King is dead. My thoughts go out to his wife with two young daughters, but King’s death will touch many many people. He was one of , if not the most, respected criminal defence lawyers in NZ. He also had a great passion for public policy, and presented the Court Report and often took part in forums with others like Stephen Franks, as an exemplar of identifying issues, and agreeing or disagreeing on solutions without rancour.

His death is a huge loss to the legal fraternity, and those who knew him well. And again, his family most of all.

His death has been reported as non-suspicious and referred to the coroner, which of course is code for suicide. All suicides are hard to comprehend, and this one almost inexplicable. It makes his death even more tragic.

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RIP Sir Wilson Whineray

October 22nd, 2012 at 3:40 pm by David Farrar

Sir Wilson Whineray has died aged 77. A huge loss. He was the longest serving All Black captain, and many (including T.P. McLean) say he was the greatest.

He turned down Governor-General in 2006 and would have made an excellent head of state for New Zealand.

He was captain at age 23 in 1958 and remained so until 1965. After rugby he got an MBA from Harvard and eventually was Chair of Carter Holt Harvey.

His family, friends and former teammates will miss him the most, but their loss is also New Zealand’s loss. He was one of our greatest.

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My thoughts

September 28th, 2012 at 8:55 am by David Farrar

My thoughts today are with Cam, John, Claire and their families.


The big Moonie is dead

September 3rd, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed messiah who turned his Unification Church into a worldwide religious movement and befriended North Korean leaders as well as US presidents, has died, church officials say. He was 92.

Moon died today at a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul, two weeks after being hospitalised with pneumonia, Unification Church spokesman Ahn Ho-yeul told The Associated Press. Moon’s wife and children were at his side, Ahn said.

Moon, born in a town that is now in North Korea, founded his religious movement in Seoul in 1954 after surviving the Korean War. He preached new interpretations of lessons from the Bible.

The church gained fame – and notoriety – in the 1970s and 1980s for holding mass weddings of thousands of followers, often from different countries, whom Moon matched up in a bid to build a multicultural religious world.

The church was accused of using devious recruitment tactics and duping followers out of money; parents of followers in the United States and elsewhere expressed worries that their children were brainwashed into joining. The church responded by saying that many other new religious movements faced similar accusations in their early stages.

Yeah, there is a reason for that.

The church was not all bad. They did some good with North Korea (where Moon had been a prisoner).But he did also serve 13 months for tax fraud in he 1980s.

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Neil Armstrong RIP

August 26th, 2012 at 9:30 am by David Farrar

Neil Armstrong has died aged 82. His name and his achievement as the first man on the moon must be one of the most well known on the planet. His quote of “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” will remain with us for generations.

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Mourning three more soldiers

August 20th, 2012 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Taleban has claimed responsibility for the bomb attack that killed three New Zealand soldiers only two weeks after the deaths of Lance Corporals Rory Malone and Pralli Durrer in a firefight.

The Defence Force said that at approximately 9.20am (Afghanistan time) yesterday, the last vehicle in a convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device, North West of Do Abe, Bamiyan, on the road to Romero.

As always thoughts are with the families, comrades and friends of the dead soldiers.

My thoughts are also with the wider families of all those serving in Afghanistan. It is obvious that the situation for the PRT has become more dangerous. The other families will be hoping for no further incidents during this final 12 months in Afghanistan.

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Graham Watson RIP

August 9th, 2012 at 12:26 pm by David Farrar

I’ve just heard that Graham Watson died in a car crash near Pokeno, and am stunned like many who knew Graham and regarded him as a friend.

Picture from Blair Mullholland’s blog.

I first met Graham at an NZUSA council in the late 1980s. Graham (then known as Wally). He was the charismastic roguish President of the Auckland University Students’ Association, AUSA. Graham got elected President an unprecedented four times, serving three terms. Even after his terms of office, he continued to be a major force in Auckland student politics. At various time he was a life member and/or also banned from AUSA premises. His ability to get a crowd to an SRC meeting and vote with him was loved and feared in equal measure.

Graham was also the major reasons AUSA went voluntary in the late 1990s, when referenda were held. He campaigned tirelessly speaking in lecture theatre after lecture theatre. NZUSA flew up staff to counter him, and AUSA  spent masses urging a vote to stay compulsory. But Graham and Richie Watson (no relation), a few activist and around a $500 budget won. The margin was barely in double figures. I recall speaking to Graham that night as we both got very very drunk, celebrating a histroic achievement. The result at AUSA made it easier to pass the VSM bill years later.

Graham was a bit of a rogue, in a good way. His presidency had the odd scandal. When he was campaigning for VSM he would actually cite scandals that occurred on his watch, as reasons for VSM. Only Graham would have the chutzpah to do it.

Graham stayed with me in Wellington a couple of times, and later on become the ACT Party Manager, where I dealt with him professionally a fair bit. Many in ACT will know him, and mourn his far too early death.

Graham was an very capable and charismatic individual, who was lots of fun, and made a difference. I mourn his passing, and my thoughts are with his family.

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RIP Timi te Heuheu

July 12th, 2012 at 1:04 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

One of Maoridom’s senior statesmen, Timoti (Timi) te Heuheu, has died.

The Ngati Tuwharetoa leader is the brother of paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu and husband of former Cabinet minister Georgina te Heuheu.

Timi te Heuheu was a lively figure who worked tirelessly as a tribal diplomat and link between iwi Maori, politics and business.

He will be taken to Waihi Marae on the shores of Lake Taupo today, where he will lay in state.

I met Timi a few times, through Georgina. A lovely selfless man, who cared greatly about New Zealand. My condolences to Georgie and family.

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RIP David Allanson

July 3rd, 2012 at 6:01 pm by David Farrar

David Allanson died unexpectedly this morning. David had worked at Parliament for 23 years as a security guard. As with many of the security team, he was a first class person who was always friendly and interesting to talk to.

Despite me having left the place eight years ago, Dave always greeted me warmly when I visited and made me feel like I had never left. He was a lovely guy.

My condolences go out to his family, and to his colleagues and friends.  He will be missed by many.

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Sir Brian Talboys RIP

June 4th, 2012 at 9:52 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Brian Talboys has died at the age of 90.

Sir Brian, who represented the Southland electorate of Wallace for eight elections from 1957, served as a Minister in the National Governments of Sir Keith Holyoake and Sir Robert Muldoon. He was Deputy Prime Minister under Muldoon from 1975 to 1981.

Born in Whanganui in 1921, Sir Brian served in the air force during World War II. After the war, he settled in Southland as a farmer and entered politics, winning the Wallace seat in 1957.

He was agriculture minister, science minister and then education minister under Holyoake, before becoming deputy leader of the National Party in Opposition in 1974, under Muldoon.

After National’s victory in the 1975 election, he became deputy prime minister and served in that role for the first two terms of the Muldoon Government, retiring in 1981.

My condolences to his family and friends.

Talboys could have been Prime Minister, if he had wanted the job badly enough. In 1980 Jim Bolger, Jim McLay and Derek Quigley organised the “Colonels’ Coup” and settled on Talboys as the preferred replacement for Muldoon. Talboys refused an open challenge though, and Muldoon fought back meaning no vote occured.

It is interesting to consider what may have happened if Talboys had become PM. Without the excesses of third term Muldoon, would we have had the Rogernomics revolution as a reponse?

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RIP Phil Lamason

May 21st, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A true Kiwi war hero has died, aged 93 in Dannevirke. I blogged about Phil Lamason in March:

At the weekend the film Lost Airmen of Buchenwald was on television. It told a fascinating little known story of 168 allied airmen who were illegally sent to a concentration camp in WWII, and how Acting Squadron Leader Phil Lamason kept them alive. Lamason is a kiwi, and amazingly is still alive aged 93.

The 168 airmen were sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, which was technically not an extermination camp, but still saw 55,000 people shot or worked to death.

Lamason as the senior officer assumed command of the airmen, and many of them say his leadership kept them alive. Lamason kept asking for them to be transferred to a POW camp, but this was denied. They were ordered to work as slave labour. Lamason refused to order the men to work, as allied soliders could not work for war production for the Nazis. He refused to back down even when threatened with summary execution by an SS officer.

Lamason managed to get word to the Luftwaffe, about the airmen being held at the concentration camp. He was hoping they would intervene, as they would not wish their captured airmen in the UK to be treated in the same way. Two Luftwaffe officers visited the camp pretending to inspect bomb damage, and talked to Lamason. They reported to Hermann Goering who ordered them transferred.

However before news of the transfer came through, they were ordered to be shot on 26 October. Only Lamarson knew this, but didn’t tell the others to keep morale high. Then the transfer came through on 19 October.  They were just one week away from execution. 166 of the airmen were transferred and survived.

It was a fascinating documentary and well worth watching. New Zealanders can be very proud of Mr Lamason, a true war hero.

I’m very glad I saw that documentary and learnt about Mr Lamason, when he was still alive. All New Zealanders should be proud of his courage and leadership. My thoughts go out to his family.

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RIP Fred Allen

April 28th, 2012 at 1:01 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

All Black great Sir Fred Allen has passed away.

Sir Fred, who at age 92 was the oldest living All Black, had been battling ill health for some time and was in full-time care on the Whangaparoa Peninsula.

He passed away at 3.30am on Saturday morning.

Despite illness, Sir Fred tried to remain as active as ever in recent times.

Earlier this week he unveiled a bridge on Sir Fred All Walk of Honour  at Auckland Memorial Park, Silverdale.

Now that is service until the very end.

He is among the rare group of players to have both played and coached the All Blacks.

The star first-five played 21 matches for the All Blacks, including six tests, between 1946-49. …

After ending his playing days, Sir Fred took up coaching.

He was an All Black selector between 1964-65 and then coached the men in black between 1966-68.

His coaching tenure, which saw him known as ‘The Needle’, included the All Blacks winning all 14 tests under his control.

We have truly lost one of the greats.

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Peter Tapsell RIP

April 7th, 2012 at 9:11 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Sir Peter Tapsell, the first Maori Speaker of the House, has died at home in Ruatoria, aged 82.

Sir Peter, who entered Parliament in 1981 as the Labour MP for what was then the Eastern Maori electorate, held the role of Speaker from 1993 to 1996.

Before becoming Speaker, Sir Peter held the portfolios of  internal affairs, arts, police, civil defence, science and forestry.

He retired from politics in 1996.

Sir Peter, who was an orthopaedic surgeon before becoming an MP, was awarded a MBE in 1968 for services to medicine and the Maori people.

Sir Peter was a very dignified Speaker, and a rarity – he was a Speaker from an opposition party.

An absolute gentleman, whom few people would ever have a bad word about.

Condolences as always to his family.

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Paul Callaghan RIP

March 24th, 2012 at 3:56 pm by David Farrar

Sir Paul Callaghan succumbed today to his colon cancer.  Probably not a household name, but he was one of the greatest scientists.

He was made a Professor in his 30s and later established the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. Amongst his many prizes were the Ampere Prize and Rutherford Medal. He was the Kiwibank 2011 New Zealander of the Year.

His full list of qualifications and honours were BSc(Hons) DPhil DSc Oxf GNZM FRS FRSNZ FInstP FNZIP.

He wasn’t just a scientist though, but also was an expert in the commercial use of science and technology.

Condolences to his family and friends.

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RIP Jock Hobbs

March 13th, 2012 at 5:53 pm by David Farrar

The inevitable has happened and Jock Hobbs had died. For me it is especially poignant as Hobbs was All Black Captain when I was at secondary school and like most my age worshiped the All Blacks.

His contribution to NZ rugby administration is immense, and arguably unparalleled. His death is several decades too early. The most moving aspect of the Rugby World Cup for me was when Hobbs presented Richie McCaw with his 100th test cap. You could see how ill Hobbs was, and knew he couldn’t have much time to go.

Hobbs also had an interest in politics, and would have made an excellent MP and Minister if he had ever said yes to numerous entreaties to stand.

As always my condolences go out to his family, and close friends.

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RIP Owen McShane

March 6th, 2012 at 8:38 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan facebooks:

Just a note to say that Owen McShane died suddenly today. He had a major heart operation a year or so ago. Was a contributor to NBR in recent years but long time commentator on Auckland planning issues and RMA.

Owen contributed a huge amount to public policy in New Zealand ranging from being a commentator here at one end of the scale to having done a ministerial reviews of the RMA. He was a wealth of knowledge on planning issues, and a consistent voice for less regulation and centralised control.

He was a fine New Zealander, and will be missed my many,

My thoughts go out to his family and close friends.

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RIP Whitney Houston

February 12th, 2012 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

AP report at Stuff:

Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behaviour and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.

Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen told KABC-TV that Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 pm in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton. Her body remained in the hotel and Beverly Hills detectives were investigating.

Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the cause of her death was unknown.

I loved her music. What a huge loss to the music world.

It is very rare for a 48 year old woman to drop dead of natural causes, so sadly it will probably transpire it was an avoidable death.

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Lloyd Morrison RIP

February 10th, 2012 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

Lloyd Morrison has died following a prolonged battle against leukaemia. He was aged only 54.

He was one of Wellington’s finest. At the age of 30 he set up Infratil, and it has become a major infrastructure company.

He also led the campaign to change the NZ flag, and helped bail out the Phoenix.

Lloyd was also a big supporter of the arts – setting up a musical trust and has served as a director of the NZSO and trustee of Chamber Music NZ Foundation.

He has been given so many awards for business leadership, I won’t even name them. Suffice to say he was a brilliant businessman, and a passionate New Zealander and Wellingtonian who did much for his country and city.

My condolences to his family, and closest friends.

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Barrie Leay RIP

February 9th, 2012 at 2:20 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Energy specialist and renewable energy advocate Barrie Leay will be sorely missed says Windflow Technology chief executive Geoff Henderson. …

Henderson said Leay brought a wealth of New Zealand energy experience and international contacts to the company through his prior roles as executive director of the Electricity Supply Association of New Zealand and chairman of the APEC Energy Business Network in the Asia Pacific.

Barrie Leay was also the National Party’s General Secretary for much of the 1970s and 1980s. His nickname was Buddha, I recall.

Barrie’s tenure was in the golden years of Sir George Chapman, and also Sue Wood. He was a powerful figure. His successors have tended to be fairly apolitical, but Barrie was very political, and hence somewhat controversial.

I joined the party around the time he retired, However I had a wee bit to do with him through the National Political Centre, which was a  internal policy thinktank. He was indeed an expert on energy policy and issues.

Barrie devoted a large part of his life to the National Party. May he rest in peace.

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Blanket Man RIP

January 15th, 2012 at 7:49 pm by David Farrar

Stuff report:

Wellington street personality Ben Hana, more commonly known as “Blanket Man”, has died.

Hana, 54, died in Wellington Hospital at 3.35pm today, a Capital and Coast District Health Board spokeswoman confirmed.

Authorities had become increasingly concerned about his health in the past few weeks.

It was not known what he died from. However, he was suffering medical problems stemming from heavy alcohol use and malnutrition, lawyer Maxine Dixon said.

Many Wellingtonians had a soft spot for Blanket Man, and he did become an unofficial icon. However he was also a serial pest to some shop keepers, and to female passer-bys from time to time.

I recall there was once a Facebook group called something like “I’ve seen Blanket Man’s penis” and there were several thousand members of it. His public page had 25,500 fans, which is a lot.

If I recall, Hana was a successful forestry worker, married with four children. A number of traumatic personal events including a drink driving death led to his downward spiral. For all the fun associated with Blanket Man, he was in fact a very sad and tragic figure.  May he rest in peace now.

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Vaclav Havel RIP

December 20th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

This death is truly one to be mourned.

Havel died aged 75.  He was one of the most inspiring freedom fighters of our generation. He fought communist rule of his country for 20 years and then in 1989 became the last President of Czechoslovakia, later serving as President of the Czech Republic and seeing it enter the EU.

When one thinks of the term that the pen is mightier than the sword, I often think of Havel.

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Kim Jong Il RIP

December 20th, 2011 at 1:51 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Kim Jong Il, the mercurial and enigmatic North Korean leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions dominated world security fears for more than a decade, has died. He was 69.

Kim’s death 17 years after he inherited power from his father was announced today by the state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. The country’s “Dear Leader” reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

I always felt a bit sorry for him. His father was the truly evil despotic one who imposed his barbaric rule on North Korea. The son never had any chance being raised by such a father, to be any different.

North Korea has been grooming Kim’s third son to take over power from his father in the impoverished nation that celebrates the ruling family with an intense cult of personality.

That would be Kim Jong-un. He spent a few years attending school in Switzerland so may turn out to be slightly more benign that his father and grandfather.

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Christopher Hitchens RIP

December 16th, 2011 at 7:55 pm by David Farrar

AP report:

Cancer weakened, but did not soften Christopher Hitchens. He did not repent or forgive or ask for pity. As if granted diplomatic immunity, his mind’s eye looked plainly upon the attack and counterattack of disease and treatments that robbed him of his hair, his stamina, his speaking voice and eventually his life.

“I love the imagery of struggle,” he wrote about his illness in an August 2010 essay in Vanity Fair. “I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient.”

Hitchens, a Washington, D.C.-based author, essayist and polemicist who waged verbal and occasional physical battle on behalf of causes left and right, died Thursday night at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer, according to a statement from Vanity Fair magazine. He was 62.

“There will never be another like Christopher. A man of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar,” said Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. “Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls.”

A huge loss of such a wonderful writer.

An emphatic ally and inspired foe, he stood by friends in trouble (“Satanic Verses” novelist Salman Rushdie) and against enemies in power (Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini). His heroes included George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Gore Vidal (pre-Sept. 11). Among those on the Hitchens list of shame: Michael Moore, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong il, Sarah Palin, Gore Vidal (post Sept. 11) and Prince Charles.

“We have known for a long time that Prince Charles’ empty sails are so rigged as to be swelled by any passing waft or breeze of crankiness and cant,” Hitchens wrote in Slate in 2010 after the heir to the British throne gave a speech criticizing Galileo for the scientist’s focus on “the material aspect of reality.”

Out future King he’s talking about!

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Thoughts with Radio NZ

December 12th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Wellington Police investigating a serious assault in Boulcott Street early yesterday morning have upgraded it to a homicide investigation.

The 43 year old male victim, believed to be Phillip Alexander Cottrell from Radio New Zealand, died in Wellington Hospital a short time ago.

Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Miller of the Wellington CIB says the victim suffered the fatal injuries between 5:30am and 6:15am yesterday morning, as he walked home from work on The Terrace.

“As the victim got halfway down Boulcott Street outside the Baptist Church it appears an altercation has taken place and as a result the victim received fatal injuries.”

I used to work on Boulcott Street, and it is not an area I would have ever thought would have a homicide occur.

My thoughts go out to his colleagues at Radio NZ, and family and friends.

From the sound of it this was not pre-meditated, but a situational killing. Those sort of killings strike fear in many of us – it could happen to anyone. I hope the Police find his killer.

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Allan Peachey RIP

November 7th, 2011 at 12:47 pm by David Farrar

The MP for Tamaki, Allan Peachey, died on Saturday. It was no secret he had cancer, but few knew it was this advanced.

Allan was a top class educationalist and if his health had been better, may have had the opportunity to be a top class Minister of Education. Education was his passion.

My thoughts go out to his family especially, but also his close friends and colleagues.

The last MP to die, while an MP, was Rod Donald in 2005 I think. I’m not sure who was the last one before that.

Incidentally if Allan had been contesting Tamaki again, his death would mean that voters in Tamaki would get a party vote only at the general election, and a by-election would be held, probably in December.

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