Sunday, May 30, 2010

David Round: No Validity to Sovereignty Claims

As we all know, the Northland Nga Puhi tribe, whose traditional territory includes the Bay of Islands, are having their day before the Waitangi Tribunal at present. Included in their claim is the argument that when they signed the treaty they never ceded their ‘sovereignty’, and that, presumably, they still retain it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mike Butler: Littlewood text appraisal reviewed

Nearly 21 years ago, a hand-written Treaty of Waitangi text was found, sparking a political uproar about the legitimacy of race-based policy. Lack of interest by historians, and years of neglect and stonewalling by National Archives stunned John Littlewood and sister Beryl Needham, who found the document, which is reproduced in Appendix 1 below, in a drawer while clearing out their mum’s house after she died.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lindsay Mitchell: Report highlights the value of work

A paper was launched in Auckland yesterday by The Royal Australasian College of Physicians entitled, 'Realising the Health Benefits of Work'. The report claims that two thirds of sickness absence and long-term incapacity is due to mild and treatable conditions. This claim would help to explain why the number of people who rely on a sickness or invalid's benefit has increased dramatically over recent years. Conditions that might not have kept people from work 20 or 30 years ago are now considered grounds for claiming some form of incapacity benefit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ron Smith: The Significance of Chernobyl

Whenever the subject of civilian nuclear power arises, we sooner or later come to Chernobyl. For some this is the rhetorical equivalent of playing the ace. To mention the events of April 26, 1986, is taken to end all serious debate on the desirability of nuclear power as an energy source. But the reality is (to continue the metaphor) that it is a cheap ‘trick’.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

David Round: Questions and Answers About the Foreshore and Seabed

A handful of further questions and answers about the foreshore and seabed.

Q. If the government’s proposal is that the foreshore and seabed be held as ‘public domain’, and not as the property of the Crown, then what is the Attorney-General, a Minister of the Crown, doing handing out rights to it in private consultation with Maori?

A. A very good question. Next.

Allan Peachey: Is this Dumb or What?

I have long had an interest in early childhood education. It goes back nearly 30 years when our four children were preschoolers and I helped out on kindergarten committees and my wife was involved in play centre. This meant a bit of voluntary effort like digging the sandpit, mowing the grass and painting the building’s roof. That’s how we did it in those days. How things have changed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Owen McShane: Three Tales of Stupidity

1. EnergyWise or EnergyStupid.
In the Straight Furrow of May 18, Grant McLachlan, in his Human Nature column tells of a farmer exploring the idea of installing a micro-hydro plant to divert some of the water falling over a ten metre waterfall on his property to drive a micro-hydro plant rather than pay $200,000 to replace the aging power line to the national grid. According to the Energywise web site the generator would cost about $15,000, which looked like a good deal, and all in accord with our National Policies promoting renewable energy and so on.

Mike Butler: The Budget and property investors

How bad did Budget 2010 get for property investors? The expected hit on depreciation deductions on buildings eventuated, from April 1 next year, with an unexpected proviso it applies to rental housing and office buildings with an estimated useful life of 50 years or more.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mike Butler: Sovereignty, law, and history

A claim that Ngapuhi never ceded sovereignty was one of the first shots fired at of a four-week Waitangi Tribunal hearing that started this week. The tribe wants the tribunal to affirm this viewpoint in a case that the presiding officer, Judge Craig Coxhead, said was unlike any others because it deals with the constitutional foundation of the country, while the tribunal's caseload usually covers historical land loss.

Ron Smith: Selective Outrage

For some years now there has been a military dictatorship exercising government over the Fijian islands. Over these years we have condemned and criticised this regime and demanded the restoration of democratic rule. We have backed up this moral condemnation by a range of sanctions, which have heavily impinged on the Fijian economy and inhibited the movement of citizens that have any connection with the ruling group.

Ronald Kitching: Teaching My Kids to Read and Write

I’d like to relate what happened to my three sons when they first went to school. We were at that time living in Mount Isa. We soon discovered that the eldest boy’s reading and writing was not up to standard. Then the second boy’s efforts were likewise, worse if anything, and the third had also started school, and was not doing well at all. It was at that time that the new “look and see” method of teaching kids to read was introduced. Obviously it was not working well, as other people were also complaining. Another problem that exacerbated the matter was that teachers were constantly being changed. My second son, Robert, had seven different teachers in three months. We decided to engage a private teacher to rectify the matter.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Allan Peachey: How School Inspectors Lifted Teaching Standards

I maintain an irregular email correspondence with an elderly gentleman who many years ago rose from being the Head of Science at as successful secondary school to being a secondary school inspector back in the days when teachers were graded by two inspectors in consultation with their principal. Indeed he must be one of the few such inspectors still alive.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

David Round: National plans to sacrifice the Foreshore & Seabed for long term power

For a man who claims that ‘the government is genuinely interested in the feedback of all New Zealanders’ on the foreshore and seabed issue, the Attorney-General does not strike the casual observer as someone with an open mind. Someone criticises the proposals; instantly he leaps to defend them. He displays absolutely no interest in listening. As you know, I have criticised the proposals; one of the two columns of mine already published here was first published in the Christchurch Press and the Otago Daily Times. Mr Finlayson has replied to me in the ODT, although not, for some reason, in the Press, but his reply, in between the personal sneers, is based on so ludicrous a travesty of my objections that they are clearly the work of someone with a completely closed mind who is determined not to understand or to listen.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mike Butler: Hide vs NIWA

A detailed and somewhat technical battle is being fought over the introduction of the Emissions Trading Scheme, little of which is finding its way into the mainstream media. John Boscawen and Rodney Hide of the ACT Party are leading a campaign against the ETS, arguing that it is senseless for New Zealand to proceed with such a scheme on its own since the additional costs incurred would disadvantage economic competitiveness. ACT argues that scientific basis for such a scheme is far from settled and has become mired in political self-interest, and riddled with scientists manipulating data.

Frank Newman: The sovereign debt crisis

Greece is a worst nightmare scenario for the international financial system, and may be a sign of worse to come as the financial crisis escalates to sovereign debt markets. First it was Iceland, then Dubai, and now Greece. All three (for different reasons) accumulated mountainous government debt that their economies simply could not sustain. Iceland has been bailed out by Russia, and Dubai by its UAE neighbours. Greece has turned to Germany and the International Monetary Fund and secured a 110 billion euro package that will buy it a few years to bring an economy crippled by the spendthrift policies of socialist self interest back into the harsh realities of a balanced budget.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ron Smith: Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

The project of abolishing nuclear weapons has attracted a great deal of passionate support down through the years but the debate has been typically characterised by imprecision in specifying what the end state would be and how it would be maintained. A sequence of possible measures might be envisaged. As a first stage, all nuclear explosive devices (warheads) would be separated from their delivery systems and then broken down. The core fissile material would then removed and safely held or destroyed. It is taken as axiomatic that merely de-alerting nuclear strike systems, or separating the warheads, would not amount to nuclear disarmament, though it could be seen as a measure that would increase security. In such a case, it would simply be a matter of how long it would take to reconnect the warhead with its delivery system.

Monday, May 3, 2010

David Round: National wants to sell us down the river

The foreshore and seabed debate has raged for seven years, and by now we are all probably thoroughly sick of it. But the proposals of the Attorney-General, Mr Finlayson, to ‘settle’ the matter are a betrayal of all non-Maori New Zealanders, and deserve to be rejected with the same contempt which that gentleman obviously has for us.

Roger Kerr: Welfare Dependency Blights Too Many Lives - Working Group’s Challenge

Last week the Welfare Working Group established by social development minister Paula Bennett to look at welfare dependency met for the first time. It has an important task and the open and consultative approach to its work that it has foreshadowed is commendable.