Examples of the best High Schools in New Zealand

Some things are obvious in life:

  • Lou Reed is the coolest man of rock ever.
  • My wife of 32 years and childhood sweetheart is the world’s most beautiful woman.
  • The business acumen of the Labour government is as thin as grease paper from a fishn’chip shop.
  • A full-grown kauri like Tane Mahuta in the beautiful far north of New Zealand a big tree.

Some things are more subtle.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo is better than Lionel Messi.
  • You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being is the greatest film ever made.
  • Sand in uncomfortable places is worth an afternoon on the beach.

Some things require evidence. I have now spent a month looking at outcomes, post-school destinations, attendance, retention to 17 years old, and other things for the 400+ New Zealand High Schools.

For reasons that I can back up – here are 15 of the very best (I would hate to have a reputation for being negative). They have good results – many regardless of the wealth of the families in their community. For some (e.g. McAuley) they are clearly overcoming what other schools might call deficits. Their students have a high tendency to keep studying when they leave.

This is not quite the All Blacks of NZ High Schools. There are other good/great schools and no doubt good teachers and striving students in every school. But you have to start somewhere. In no order:

  • St Peter’s College (Epsom)
  • Manukura (Palmerston North)
  • Marist College (Auckland)
  • McAuley College (Otahuhu)
  • Lynfield College (Mt Roskill)
  • Baradene College of the Sacred Heart (Remuera)
  • Liston College (West Auckland)
  • Westlake Girls High School (North Otarbour – intentional joke for those in the know).
  • St Catherine’s (Kilbirnie)
  • Selwyn College (Kohimarama)
  • Auckland Girls Grammar School (Auckland City)
  • Sancta Maria College (Flatbush)
  • Napier Girls High School (Hawkes Bay)
  • St Joseph’s Maori Girls (Taradale)
  • St Mary’s College (Ponsonby)

I am happy to hear and be challenged on other candidates for this 1st XV. The main point being that they are clearly doing something right that others can learn from. Nothing replaces well supported, good parenting, but schools have a part to play.

I have also concluded on what the three worst performing schools in New Zealand are. Clues? All founded in the last 12 years at about $50 million each. All decile 10 and lauded by a Ministry of Education and other glossy people who would not recognise a rigorous & excellent education if it bit them their collective posterior.

To access the data set: alwyn.poole@gmail.com

A $100 million lotto draw for the vaccinated?

Sam Stubbs writes:

The Canadian province of Alberta is already doing this to boost its already high vaccination rate. So are the American states of California, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Oregon and Arkansas. All are offering financial incentives to get vaccinated. In Alberta it’s $100, and in New York it’s a scratch lottery ticket which pays anything from $20 to $5 million.

Logic says this would work in New Zealand too. Kiwis love gambling, with Lotto especially popular. The biggest ever Lotto Powerball draw, in 2020, had a $50m prize pool and sold 2.5 million tickets. So a $100m Lotto prize maybe be just the thing to get our jab rates up to the levels required.

Instead of getting a Covid sticker, you’d be given a Lotto ticket post jab, in the waiting room, before you left your appointment. How exciting would that be, daydreaming about winning the lottery? It’s better than shuffling out the door with a sore arm, and might be the extra incentive many need.

And everyone would get two bites at the cherry – a ticket for each jab. And those who have already been vaccinated could have their health numbers pulled from a database and issued online tickets.

Imagine the marketing opportunity. I would back the Lotto team to know how to get people motivated and spreading the word. They motivated 2.5 million people to spend their own money on tickets last year, and that was with a prize pool of $50m. A $100m pool, with free tickets for the vaccinated, could do even better.

Is a $100m nudge too costly? No. It’s only half a day of subsidies under level 4.

There are other side benefits too. TVNZ would probably have the biggest ratings ever for the draw, with huge advertising revenues. And charities benefit from Lotto, too.

This is a great idea. Only change I would make is do say 10 draws of $10 million. $10 million is enough to be life changing (or at least to buy a semi decent house in Auckland). Having say ten draws over the next ten weeks should get that vaccination rate way up.

Guest Post:

A guest post by Clive Bibby:

The following contribution is not a boast. Nor is it meant to be a statement that is verifiable as fact – although it probably could be. It is simply the personal opinion of someone who believes he represents a majority of voters in this country who are concerned about the direction of where this nation is heading.
It is time to take stock of the current situation and do something meaningful in order to stop the potentially disastrous trend which has no mandate and is foreign to most kiwis who value their freedoms.
Readers might ask what qualifies me to make these claims.
I’ll let you be the judge of that after reading my personal history followed by observations where you can note the similarities to your own life experiences.
Here goes.
I am a simple person – but l am not a simpleton!
I will be 77 years old this November.
I am what many describe, using the most insulting terms that are becoming popular in today’s New Zealand Society, as a “pale, stale male!”
I am a member of what is arguably the luckiest generation to have been born in this country. Our formative years were spent during a couple of decades when New Zealand came as close as it is ever likely to get to becoming the true “egalitarian“ society. Sadly, that status appears to be a rapidly fading dream.
Contrary to what the radical Maori activists would tell you, our numbers include many of their forebears who have benefitted from our association at a time when the nature of ones birth mattered less than the quality of your individual character.
A good many of us are the product of a provincial, small town upbringing where families recognised their responsibilities for one another irrespective of status on the local social ladder. Many have made contributions to their communities that have far exceeded their financial ability to do so.
Most of us have experienced “struggle street” – sometimes as a result of bad choices but also, often simply as a result of events that found us in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, those difficult times usually helped cement families together, all working for a common cause and in the process, becoming stronger and more resilient. We all had to make contributions to the family unit that were critical to our survival – the size of each contribution dependent only on our individual ability to make it.
Our values are those of our forebears who went to enormous trouble instilling behavioural standards in us that were recognisable and accepted by society as the codes by which we based our interaction as equals. Unfortunately, too many of our current leaders would fail to recognise those values if they fell over them.
The absence of and lack of commitment to those standards is one of the main reasons we are in this mess struggling to find common ground upon which we can build sustainable plans for the future. We have lost our way.
Those values systems included the following beliefs:
All kiwis are entitled to expect these living conditions as citizens of this country.
* a society based on equal opportunity for all irrespective of race, religious preference, sexual preference, political persuasion or status on the social ladder.
* the freedom to pursue personal objectives as long as they don’t interfere with the basic rights of others.
* a society where those who can acknowledge a responsibility to support those who can’t. It is called a welfare system that ensures no individual suffers needlessly as a result of being excluded from opportunities that should be available to all.
* an education system that is available to all in all it’s forms that teaches the real history of this country, warts and all. None of this revisionist crap that is currently being foist upon us.
* a justice system that protects the ordinary person from the powerful and ensures that the laws of this country are applied evenly to all irrespective of individual background or origin.
* a government that is by the people, of the people and for all the people.

I’ve probably missed a few important things from that list but there should be enough there for most to identify with.
I would be surprised if most people haven’t ticked a majority of the boxes.
If you don’t identify with most of my observations, then it is more than likely you will struggle to understand why l am predicting a groundswell of those who have had enough that will become a tidal wave by Election Day.
Already the signs are beginning to show in the opinion polls and that momentum is likely to grow until it sweeps these imposters from the treasury benches next time we get the chance to vote.

They say it takes one to know one.
I trust my own judgement on this one. It’s really quite simple.
To use an familiar East Coast description – the facts are “sticking out like dogs balls!”

The case for Level 3 for Auckland

This shows the number of community cases during the latest outbreak. It is clear Level 4 stopped exponential growth, but also clear that there is ongoing community transmission.

Auckland has been in Level 4 for almost five weeks or 34 days. It is hard to see why one would think six weeks at Level 4 would work any better than five weeks. At five weeks there has been time for two full cycles of infection. Anyone getting infected now will probably be third generation or more, and has been infected under level 4.

So if the decision is to remain with Level 4, then one can only conclude Level 4 will stay in force until say 90% of eligible Aucklanders are vaccinated – which could be months away.

The alternative is to go to Level 3, accepting there will be some increase in cases but having confidence contact tracing and testing is good enough to keep it manageable.

So Cabinet should confirm today their in principle decision of last week.

How is Biden tracking vs other Presidents

Biden has been in office around 240 days. How is his net approval compared to other US Presidents?

  1. Bush GW +72%
  2. Kennedy +64%
  3. Truman +61%
  4. Eisenhower +60%
  5. Johnson +59%
  6. Bush GHW +53%
  7. Nixon +42%
  8. Reagan +31%
  9. Carter+26%
  10. Obama +13%
  11. Clinton +7%
  12. Biden -3%
  13. Ford -9%
  14. Trump -16%

Not doing that well when the only ones you are ahead of is Ford and Trump.

Covid-19 in Waikato

The Herald reports:

Three household members of a remand prisoner with Covid-19 who was announced today as a case today have tested positive.

One is a child who was symptomatic while at school on Thursday.

Two of the three household members attend Mangatangi School on the Hauraki Plains. All three positive cases, and an accompanying adult caregiver, are being moved to a quarantine facility.

The school has been closed and parents have been contacted. Arrangements are being made for the students and their families to be tested.

There are nine people in the household. Five others have tested negative and the ninth household member will be tested tomorrow.

This is very unfortunate.

Discharged for causing death

The Herald reports:

An off-road driver who admitted crashing nearly 50 metres down a steep gorge, killing his girlfriend, has today been granted a discharge without conviction, on the condition that he pays his late girlfriend’s mother $5000 in compensation.

Outrageous that he is responsible for the death of someone, and he doesn’t even get a conviction.

Brown’s mother Catherine Thomson-Bush has been devastated to lose a twin daughter – and who died shortly before her joint birthday with her sister Charlotte.

She told the court that although she has no doubt that Page loved her daughter, she had concerns about his responsibility-taking because he did not say sorry until she got a letter from him about 15 months later.

A letter his lawyer probably wrote for him.

Through his lawyer Kerry Cook, Page applied for a discharge without conviction on the basis that it would be all out of proportion to the gravity of the offence, and that it would affect his employment prospects in organic farming.

Are you kidding me? The gravity of the offence is someone is dead. And the notion that a conviction would stop you being employed in farming is farcical.

A discharge was opposed by police, but Judge O’Driscoll concluded he was satisfied that direct and indirect consequences of a conviction would be out of proportion.

“I accept that some in the community may say there needs to be a conviction because someone was killed in a car crash,” the judge said.

Not because someone died, but because someone died due to driving carelessly or recklessly.

I am in no way advocating Page should go to prison. But at a minimum he should be doing some community service, or periodic detention or home detention.

Page had travelled the 4WD track, which crosses the Arrow River 23 times and takes about an hour each way depending on weather and conditions, once several years before.

He advised Brown that seatbelts shouldn’t be worn because the track was bumpy and they would strangle her.

So that was bad advice he gave her.

Guest Post: The MIQ experience

A guest post by a reader:

Having this week arrived back from nearly 3 months overseas, and being promptly bussed down to Hamilton where our allotted MIQ spot was assigned, I thought readers may like a little ‘inside information’ and to consider these points:

  1. Travelling back from London, on a plane with just 49 passengers, with several of whom we then shared a 2 hour bus ride to Hamilton, the reasons bringing people through MIQ were widespread and genuine. Here are a few:
    1. A professional family emigrating from Europe to Gisborne
    2. A Kiwi sport professional returning to NZ to live with his large family after over a decade playing overseas
    3. A businessman who deals with many sites overseas, who felt his customers no longer understood or had patience any longer for NZ’s arms-length approach, and he just had to get over there in person for 6 weeks to avoid losing business
    4. Several solo younger kiwis, returning for various periods, some open ended, some re-immigrating and some for fixed terms.

And of course others.

Our own reason for travelling was that our 3 grown children and young grandchildren live in London and all adults are involved in demanding jobs. All have had degrees of mental ill health during the last 18 months due to their own lock-down circumstances. We are a close family and they normally come home annually for renewal. It was damaging them not to be able to link with home, as their Christmas holidays only amount to 2 weeks, meaning the MIQ rule denies them access. We visited several adult children of friends whilst there, for the same reason, and from all young kiwis, received the same message; that they feel excluded by their own country and very let down.

  1. So to MIQ itself… there is obviously a considerable diversity of offerings and a considerable diversity of hardship being inflicted. Some of our fellows in lockdown, with families, managed to communicate their needs adequately through the site. In one case though, a mother and daughter with a baby, were interpreted as a couple and given a room with one double bed. But our MIQ is far from the toughest. The main Facebook sites (New Zealand Hotel Quarantine, and MIQ: New Zealand Managed Isolation and Quarantine) show whole families in tiny rooms. In some of the Auckland hotels, exercise is for half an hour timetabled, and they can only walk as fast as the slowest walker to maintain social distance. In at least one case, the exercise yard is in a car parking building so inmates see no sun at all in their 14 day lockdown. In some the food is wonderful. In others, rather awful, and in our case, there is little option for variation. For example, we are only able to obtain salads by buying them in, even though we are paying thousands to be locked up.
  2. The whole scenario of this lock up idea, is, for me at least, a lot harder to stomach than I expected. For me to have my liberty curtailed, to be guarded day and night by police, army personnel in uniform and security personnel in uniform (always visible, day and night – surprisingly large contingents) sticks in my craw. To have our own army and police turned against the freedom of our own citizens seems to be as unconscionable now as I found it when Muldoon turned the police on peaceful protesters during the Springbok tour of 1981.

Additional to this large incarceration team, there is a substantial team of nurses and counsellors, at least five at my count, for some 80 odd inmates including children. This may be some indication of the mental and general health damage that is being inflicted by this draconian approach, predicated on a misdirected belief that we can live without Covid going forward. In Britain they are using the expression tht Covid is now endemic not epidemic.

Each day we are telephoned by this aforementioned health team and asked the same bank of questions, including how happy we are on a scale of  10, and are we feeling irritable. Duh! To what purpose this data is collected is unclear, but it surely contains huge numbers of lies. What captive lightly tells their captors that they are unhappy and angry about their incarceration? Stockholm syndrome anyone?

  1. Having plenty of available time to ponder this whole business, I can think of no time in history, where the needs of the elderly have been so massively favoured directly against the needs of the young.  In the time we have been back in NZ there have been sufficient numbers of high speed car crashes and deaths as to justify a hypothesis that there is massive psychological damage being rendered to the young. They are giving up schooling in substantial numbers as Alwyn Poole has described, while self-harm and suicide statistics are astronomical, not just here but overseas as well.

There is a distinct and identifiable loss of hope amongst many younger folks.

  1. Associated with this is the callous destruction of businesses. Having been a small business person myself, I know the risks one takes with ones capital and how destroying it can be when it all goes wrong, and in this matter, it keeps going wrong beyond reasonable expectation for so many businesses. The truth is that if you are losing sleep at night worrying over what level of freedom you may discover you possess tomorrow, you are not living in a free country.
  2. Having spent all of our time overseas in Britain and Spain, (where we visited our daughter in Law’s elderly relatives , all in the late seventies and eighties, and all of whom contracted Covid and recovered from it without hospitalization since they had no other co-morbidities)  we have witnessed in depth, people living openly in a Covid world. We took our grandchildren to packed theatres and parks etc where mask wearing was optional. And strangely, after lockdown, people continue to look after themselves (as they see fit) without Government intervention.

We witnessed at first hand the recovery of the London underground service from light passenger numbers to rush hour crushes in the time we were there, and again, about two thirds of the passengers continued to wear masks though it is no longer mandated.

Are we as Kiwis, unable to be trusted with looking after our own welfare? Why are we so incapable?

  1. There are many more points I could make, but one final one I feel is important is the sheer anger of so many of our best and brightest young kiwis working overseas. It has always been our tradition to develop skill sets and capital overseas then later to return to NZ where the value of that experience benefits all. So many wonderful young folk we spoke to felt they had been disowned by their country and would never, now, go back. What a loss!

In conclusion I have to say that as double vaxxed Kiwis, we could easily have been tested at the border and released to self-isolate in our homes. At most a 3 day lockdown, allowing 2 tests would have sufficed to exclude the vast majority of risk.

Many times overseas we were tested with spit tests. Two of my children are supplied these by their workplaces, self-testing regularly to ensure safe workspaces. This is not a Government initiative there but a workplace initiative. But it is here, now, illegal for a company to import these tests. Why? There are clear political imperatives for a maternalistic Government to keep the population scared and controlled. But is that the country we want New Zealand to be?

Fleur making sense

WCC Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons writes:

Last week, the Wellington City Council released an external review into its communications and engagement functions. The review found that the council needed a “refreshed corporate identity” as if the council is a corporation with something to sell, like a sneakers brand or insurance company.

The council does not operate in a competitive marketplace, and there is no share price to protect. The council exists for simple reasons, to make Wellington function properly as a city that residents can live well in. The council has enough challenges living up to that basic expectation.

The council exists to address the reality that for residents and businesses, it is better if we collectively build pipes, transport and recreation infrastructure. It is better if together we plan for housing, shopping and hospitality and it is better if we as a city provide the support needed for residents who are struggling.

Ultimately, the council’s reputation rests on whether we meet the needs and expectations of residents, and their assessment is made via democratic elections. It’s nice to have an appealing logo, and essential we communicate with residents with clarity and honesty. But we are not a “brand” in any meaningful sense of the word, and nor should we aspire to behave like one.

I can only agree. Well said Fleur.

The terrible Timaru triple tragedy

I doubt there many people in New Zealand who aren’t emotionally affected by the news of the three young girls killed in Timaru. I don’t think I can find the right word for how upsetting it is.

The fact their mother has been charged with the murder, makes it even more awful.

I’ve reflected on how I tend to have a somewhat different reaction to an (alleged) killing of children by one of their parents. If it is a father I tend to have emotions of hate and anger and regard the father as an evil bastard. But if it is a mother, I tend to have more disbelief and sadness, and just automatically assume it must be mental illness. Having talked to a few people on this, I don’t think this is unique to me.

I guess we instinctively regard mothers as more protective of their children.

It is hard to describe how strong the protective instinct is in (most) parents. At times I find it almost debilitating, as I tend to get anxious at the best of times anyway. For instance if I’m walking along the road I live on (a country road with no footpaths) I am constantly working out in my mind what I would do if a car skidded out of control towards us (basically throw my son over the fence between some trees). If we are near a river I am mentally looking at how I could most quickly get downstream if they slipped in. And the feeling of absolute dread when they disappear even for a few seconds in a playground is overpowering. Basically whenever I am with them outside our house, I am constantly focused on keeping them alive. As they get older, hopefully I get to relax some more.

But this makes what happened in Timaru even the more harder to understand. There really are no words adequate. I just wished we lived in a world where this never happened.

Israel says lo to further lockdowns

An interesting speech from the new Israeli PM:

We will do everything to avoid lockdowns, which – to livelihoods, the economy and the education of our children – are destructive tools. Lockdowns are only a last resort.

It would be very easy to declare a lockdown and give money to the closed businesses and the workers sitting at home.

But the policy of lockdowns has a terrible price.

One consideration that we have is the lowering of morbidity and the reduction of mortality. But, of course, there are other considerations including Israeli citizens’ livelihoods, the education of Israeli children and safeguarding the economic future of Israel.

For example, we thought about the people killed in traffic accidents. It would be possible to reduce to zero the number of fatalities from traffic accidents by banning travel on Israel’s highways. But we all understand that we have to live and allow traffic in Israel.

Thus it is with the Delta strain: Daily routine is part of life and we must find a responsible balance between all the needs.

It is important for me to emphasize something:

The price tag for the three previous lockdowns, was NIS 200 billion.

That is 200,000,000,000.

This is NIS 200,000 x one million.

This is our money, yours, and our children’s and great-grand children’s.

If we continue with the policy of lockdowns and economically destructive restrictions, we will simply collapse economically.

The immense amount that we spent on lockdowns, the effectiveness of which was low in any case, is a sum that was taken from important goals for you and for your children.

Lockdowns were a necessary “evil” in 2020 and the current lockdown was necessary as we had so few vaccinated. But it is a useful reminder they do impose a huge cost on us, and on our children.

How many children and older people would we not be able to send to life-saving operations?

How many MRI machines would we not be able to finance and thus we would miss thousands of cancer patients at early stages?

How many lessons in science, mathematics or English would we be unable to finance?

How many old-age pensions for elderly without means would we be unable to provide?

Think for a moment: Every family in Israel is NIS 105,000 in debt due to the price tag of the three lockdowns.

I think it is similar in NZ. Our increase in debt per household is huge.

We are taking responsibility and are now implementing important steps that have not been carried out up until now:

1. We are inoculating millions of older people with a third dose.

At this moment, the State of Israel is the only country that is giving its citizens the possibility of receiving a third dose.

We secured approval of the medical experts.

We saw to the stocks of the vaccines.

We saw to it that the HMOs would be able to act and they are doing extraordinary work.

2. We are strengthening the hospitals with more positions for doctors and nurses, and the HMOs and the entire health system after many years in which these critical parts of the system were neglected.

3. We are closely safeguarding the vulnerable elderly in retirement homes and geriatric hospitals.

4. We opened the private market to rapid tests and the sale of home tests. I hope that we will see hundreds of thousands of tests a day during the pandemic, which will allow us to quarantine cases and break the chains of infection.

So their strategy is vaccinations. investing more in hospitals, safeguarding the elderly and more rapid testing.

I don’t advocate that strategy, yet, for NZ. But come 2022 we should have enough people vaccinated that we can abandon lockdowns.

The Golden Goose, by Graeme Williams

Was sent this poem by a reader:

Dear Aunty Jacinda,
A moment if I may,
A response I think is needed,
To the protest the other day.

Farmers are generally too busy,
To rally and cause a stink,
But their overwhelming response,
Must have made you stop and think.

You see, thinking has been lacking,
in your policies I suggest.
Possibly economic incompetence,
and bureaucratic bullshit at its best.

Your policies are from fairyland,
Hindering what the farmers they produce.
I struggle with the economic logic,
Of screwing the Golden Goose.

You see New Zealand has been founded,
On the farmers and the land.
Farming and economic strength,
Symbiotically go hand in hand.

The reason isn’t rocket science.
Be it vege, milk or meat.
Irrespective of the daily grind,
All the people they must eat.

As we saw in Covid,
Panic buying to the fore,
Wonder what you’ll eat next time,
When farmers can’t be farmers anymore.

Choked by impractical bureaucracy,
They all have had enough.
Supermarkets full of humble pie,
Hmmm…the menu could be rough.

A majority of farmers,
Are a cut above the rest.
They understand the logic,
Of not shitting in one’s nest.

The bar is constantly rising,
By peering over the fence.
Labour, I suggest, should peer as well,
And view some common sense.

Labour in a literal sense,
Used to mean grafting in a role.
Labour in a current sense,
Means top pay on the dole.

Screwing the diligent workforce,
The productive and the hearty.
Sending the country down the gurgler,
Thanks to Jacinda’s “Labourless” party.

The protest by diligent farmers,
For the country shouldn’t shock,
They nurture and protect the land,
Infinitely better than Labour does with DoC.

Instead of crippling progressive farmers,
and dictating them with force,
I suggest leading the charge by example,
And controlling DoC’s broom and gorse.

So cheers to Laurie Paterson,
And Bryce McKenzie in the South.
You did what needed doing,
Giving the cause the focus and the mouth.

The Golden Goose is farming,
And common sense there needs to be,
Otherwise the goose and country’s completely plucked,
But spelled with an “F” and not a “P”.

MIQ escapee sent home early as not enough rooms

Newshub reports:

Newshub can reveal the man who allegedly escaped from quarantine (MIQ) earlier this month was released early from MIQ and sent home without spending a full 14 days in a facility.

And it’s not just him. The Ministry of Health admits quarantine facilities in Auckland aren’t yet following strict new 14-day Delta rules because of capacity constraints. …

Not only was he set free early, but he wasn’t tested.

I’m not sure what is worse – sending him home four days early, or doing it without testing him.

A Curia poll the media have overlooked

The media have covered at length the Curia poll for the Taxpayers Union on the current political environment. But they seem to have overlooked another Curia poll was also released in the last week.

A poll was done for Hobson’s Pledge on whether people support changing the name of the country to Aotearoa.

Media have reported at length how there is a petition to change the name, yet they have overlooked a scientific poll which ascertains whether or not this does have majority support.

The poll found only 28% support a name change to Aotearoa. Twice as many people are strongly opposed as strongly in favour.

It found even Labour voters were slightly more opposed than supportive. The lowest level of support for a name change came in poor (high deprivation) areas.

Man the Mongrel Mob have it sweet

Stuff reports:

A judge has questioned the value of a controversial Mongrel Mob-led meth rehab programme, when the gang is responsible for most local meth offending, and it’s not approved by Corrections.

Judge Russell Collins made the remarks when sentencing Mob member Damian Tipu, 28, in Napier District Court on Thursday.

Tipu had sought a discount to his sentence for meth dealing and other offences because he had attended the Kahukura programme run by Mongrel Mob life member Harry Tam’s company H2R Research and Consulting Ltd.

The programme has received $2.75million from the government’s Proceeds of Crime fund, prompting outrage from the Police Association and senior local police officers.

Thanks to the PM, the Mongrel Mob have it so sweet. Here’s how it works.

  1. The Mob imports and sells meth all over Hawke’s Bay
  2. The PM gives them $2.75 million to rehabilitate their own members and customers from the drugs they sell
  3. The Mob members who get caught, go on the Mob run course, and then use that to seek a discount from the Judge for their drug dealing!!

I mean seriously, this is genius from the Mob. The only problem is this judge is less gullible than the PM:

Collins said Tipu’s pre-sentence report noted he had attended the course, but he questioned how much weight he could give it.

“When someone like Sonny Smith is a critical component to the programme… How do I put aside that ‘institutional knowledge’ and come to the conclusion that Mr Smith, as a president in the Mongrel Mob, is able to rehabilitate those afflicted with methamphetamine addiction?” Collins asked Tipu’s lawyer Matt Dixon.

“Every day we see in this court methamphetamine charges and there is one entity which dominates over anyone else as being behind the methamphetamine trade in Hawke’s Bay, and that’s the Mongrel Mob,” the judge said.

Exactly.

Dixon said Tipu had clearly benefited from the course because he had returned negative drug tests while attending it.

The tests were carried out internally. Just one of Tipu’s test results was shared with his probation officer.

“Self-reporting drug-testing?” the judge said.

He said there was no evidence of the training or qualifications of those running the programme, and it was not a programme approved by Corrections.

Note that the tests are done internally, so any claims that participants are now drug free should be treated with extreme skepticism. No doubt they will claim this though when they ask taxpayers for even more money.

Vaccine debate on Kiwiblog

The official position of Kiwiblog (ie me) on vaccines is that they’re fucking great and modern science is awesome in that something can be developed so quickly that can save so many people from death or suffering.

But Kiwiblog always has allowed people to disagree with me, and the same goes for vaccines. It is quite legitimate for people to point out that there are some adverse reactions and that over time they are less effective with elderly people (hence why Israel is doing boosters) etc. I do caution that no one should treat anything said here as being health advice. One should get health advice from health professionals.

Analysing vaccine data can be very complex. Look at this post about Israel and see the huge number of steps the author had to take to get to what is the relevant data about effectiveness of the vaccine.

I’ve seen claims that more people have died after taking the vaccine in NZ, than have died from Covid. At first glance this is true, but it misleading. The official data is here and 40 people have died within a couple of weeks of taking the vaccine. But only one death is linked. And they report that actually the 40 deaths recorded is lower than the normally expected number of people who would die in that period. So correlation is not causation.

And the other factor is the denominator. Only 4,000 people in NZ have had Covid-19 while almost three million people have been vaccinated. So even if all the 40 deaths were related to the vaccine (and half have been explicitly ruled out) then 40 out of 3,000,000 is still a lot less than 30 out of 4,000.

Kiwiblog does and will allow people to debate vaccines. But where moderators will step in is if people start pushing conspiracy theories above the data being faked etc etc.

Residency for criminals but not doctors!

NewstalkZB report:

A rural medical centre that pleaded with the Immigration Minister to help retain their young migrant GP is baffled to see residency reportedly granted to convicted criminals.

Ōtaki GP Dr Harding Richards, originally from Wales, left New Zealand in June after a year waiting in limbo to lodge a residency application.

Because of Covid’s impact on the immigration office, the Government suspended Expressions of Interest (EOI) selections for the skilled migrant category (SMC) last year, closing a pathway to residency for many migrants.

Reeling from the loss of the young doctor – who had 1354 patients registered to him – Ōtaki Medical Practice was forced to close its doors to new patients over a busy winter.

Last week Newshub reported Associate Immigration minister Phil Twyford had granted residency to three convicted criminals – with 10 convictions between them – since December.

An email chain shared with the Herald from the same period shows Ōtaki Medical Centre pleading with Twyford for a chance to make the case for an intervention in person.

The Ōtaki Medical Centre are not the only ones confused.

Advice for National

Obviously there has been a lot of speculation on what National needs to do to improve its appeal to New Zealanders in the light of two polls out this week (one by my company Curia).

I;ll first comment on the polls themselves. The Curia one was done at an unfavourable time for National. During lockdowns the Government is getting unprecedented media coverage, and the Opposition struggles for relevance. Also it had been a messy period with a number of stories that were less than helpful to National. So hopefully it represents a low point, and future polls will be better. The medium term trend is what is important, not one individual poll.

One thing interesting in the Curia poll is National has actually picked up slightly more support from Labour since 2020, than vice-versa. So it isn’t that people are flocking back to the Government. In fact Labour is down 5% or so from the election also.

National has lost support to ACT, and also to undecideds. This partially reflects that there remains uncertainty about National, and it has a weaker brand than in the past.

The poll also showed a huge gender gap between men and women. Looking more closely in this, it was really only with younger men and women. There is less of a differential with over 60s. So a key requirement for National is to increase its appeal to younger women.

There is obviously some speculation around leadership. I would caution against a belief that changing leader is some magic wand that fixes everything. If voters are unsure about National, I’m not sure going from four leaders in four years to five leaders in four years will improve things.

For my 2c what National needs is to focus on the basics. Namely:

  • Pick your three or so issues you want to focus on, and relentlessly hammer them. Don’t react to every issue of the day.
  • Understand that during a lockdown, Covid-19 is the dominant issue, but be prepared to shift the conversation once (hopefully) NZ is back in Level 1 in a few weeks.
  • Announce (at least) a major policy that will make the public tune in and want to hear more. Normally you would not do this so early in the electoral cycle, but circumstances means you can’t afford to wait until late 2022.
  • Have a clear strategy and messaging that all MPs are signed up to and repeating.
  • Avoid own goals, distractions and the like. The media will generally run at most one story a day on National. It needs to be something positive and pro-active.
  • Work out how to differentiate from ACT. When ACT was the 1% party you didn’t need to worry about them. When they are attracting much more support, you need to be able to state clearly the case for why a CR voter should support National, not ACT. This is not to say National should battle ACT for the CR vote rather than target winning voters from Labour. But you do need to be able to articulate the value of supporting National.

The Government has shown a profound inability to actually deliver change or make good on their promises. That means they are potentially vulnerable as by 2023 it is very possible they will have little to show for six years in office. No doubt they will still be promising light rail in just a few more years. But to change the Government you also need to convince people that the alternative is capable of governing well, has exciting policies and ideas, is focused on improving things for families and is unified and competent. That is the challenge.

Soper on elimination strategy

Barry Soper writes:

And at least the Beehive has finally recognised that the main tool in the kit is to vaccinate – it was as though a light bulb went off in the ministerial offices and the rollout became vitally important.

But it was always important. They were told time and time again that Delta was on its way.

Jacinda Ardern’s Year of the Vaccination became her year of vacillation, that is until her mate ScoMo across the ditch scouted around his buddies abroad and got some additional vials of the stuff.

The Year of Vacillation – I like it.

Not a single fully vaccinated person in NZ has been hospitalised with Covid-19

Useful data from Newsroom.

  • 95.9% of those hospitalised with Covid were unvaccinated (as in not had one shot two weeks prior to infection)
  • 4.1% of those hospitalised had one shot, but not a second shot (two weeks or more prior to infection)
  • 0.0% of those hospitalised with Covid were fully vaccinated two weeks prior to infection

So if you get fully vaccinated and wait two weeks, then your chances of getting Covid-19 badly enough to hospitalise you is close to zero.

Also data from the UK shows that of the 50,000 deaths only 59 (0.1%) were of people fully vaccinated who didn’t have serious health conditions.

I can’t wait for my second jab later this month.

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