Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mike Butler: Where not to drop your aitches

“H” or no “H”, what is the problem? The councillors of Wanganui/Whanganui all good and true on Friday voted 10 to 2 to support the name of their town having the “H”. A referendum in 2006 found that fewer than 3 per cent of residents wanted to change the spelling. Is this a case of yet another council being out of step with its constituents?

A quick look at history shows that settlers asked for the name "Wanganui" to replace the New Zealand Company name of Petre in a petition dated May 3, 1844, noting that the name “Petre” was “universally disliked”. (1)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mike Butler: Separatist drivel from Delahunty

Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty tried to stick up for Maori seats on local authorities in the New Zealand Herald today after withering criticism from commentator Gareth Morgan but the more she started digging away at her topic the bigger became the hole she was burying herself in.

Delahunty wrote: “Anyone can stand for a local election but the low numbers of Maori speak for themselves and Maori who speak for haputanga rather than as individuals are extremely rare on councils unless Maori wards are created”.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Brian Gaynor: Petrol price still too high

The sharp decline in oil and dairy prices could have a huge impact on the domestic economy as the former is our largest import item and the latter our biggest export earner.

Petroleum imports were $8 billion, or 15.8 per cent of New Zealand’s total imports in the October 2014 year while milk powder, butter and cheese accounted for $15.5 billion, or 30.4 per cent of the country’s exports over the same 12-month period.

The benchmark Brent crude oil price has fallen 45 per cent – from US$115.65 a barrel to $63.16 a barrel – since its year high on June 19 while the important whole milk powder price has plunged 55 per cent – from US$5005 a tonne to $2229 a tonne – since February.

Mike Butler: A new look at the old pioneers

The word “pioneer” describes a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area. The term was widely used in 19th century accounts of the settlement of New Zealand. However, the “we were here first” brigade in the treaty industry tend to use the word “colonizer”, bringing with it the negative connotation of subjugation.

A new book titled Voyages of the Pioneers to New Zealand 1839-85, by historian John McLean, has a new look at how those early pioneers spent up to five months in dirty, smelly, leaky ships traveling 26,000km to start a new life of unimagined hardships building the New Zealand that we know today.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Frank Newman: Amalgamation agendas

Local government amalgamation is back in the news. Earlier this month the Local Government Commission (LGC) released its draft recommendation for Wellington.

True to form the LGC had little regard to what the community wanted, and recommended a super city structure, much on the lines of the Auckland model, and similar to that proposed for Northland and the Hawkes Bay.

Under the Commission's proposal, the super city council would take over the functions of the existing nine councils: Masterton District Council; Carterton District Council; South Wairarapa District Council; Upper Hutt City Council; Hutt City Council; Wellington City Council; Porirua City Council; Kapiti Coast District Council, and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Matt Ridley: Pilotless planes and driverless cars

The Civil Aviation Authority is concerned that pilots are becoming too reliant on automation and are increasingly out of practice in what to do when the autopilot cannot cope. We now know that a fatal Air France crash in the Atlantic in 2009 was caused by confused co-pilots reacting wrongly when the autopilot disengaged during turbulence. They put the nose of the plane up instead of down.

But there is another way to see that incident: the pilot was asleep at the time, having spent his time in Rio sightseeing with his girlfriend instead of sleeping. When roused as the plane stalled, he woke slowly and reacted too groggily to correct the co-pilots’ mistakes. Human frailty crashed the plane, not mistakes of automation.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Richard Epstein from the US: The Way Forward On Police Reform

For the past two years, I have taught a course in criminal procedure at the University of Chicago Law School. A key component of that course dealt with police behavior leading up to an arrest. In the class, I pointed out that relations between the police and the public have improved from the bad old days, and that much of the credit should go to the increased professionalization of police departments in controlling police abuse. 

The reason for this change is that it is never possible to effectively control the operation of thousands of individual police officers by ex-post interventions through the criminal justice system. What was needed was a strong police management team that sought out hotspots before they erupted, in order to create a culture in which police self-discipline would eliminate many of these problems before they occurred.

Karl du Fresne: Stop bullshitting us, prime minister

The day after winning re-election, prime minister John Key warned that one of the biggest risks his government faced in its third term was arrogance. What a pity he didn’t heed his own advice.

Over the past few weeks, we have observed a National government that seems determined to live up to every stereotype about third terms. It has been arrogant, smug and incompetent.

Worse than that, it appears to have undergone an integrity by-pass.

Mike McVicker: Maori Appointments to Council

The issue of Maori Wards on Councils has certainly been rearing its head around the Country recently. Here in Rotorua this political demand by Maori is certainly heating up again and will come to a head on Thursday 18th December at the final Council meeting of the year. 

This week speculation proved to be correct when it was confirmed that our Mayor, Steve Chadwick, was behind a proposal to push significant change relating to Maori appointments through at this very last meeting. She was clearly hoping that the political fallout will fade over the Christmas holidays.

A very similar proposal to give Iwi two unelected representatives on the Rotorua District Council (now the Rotorua Lakes Council), plus 50% control of the Resource Management Committee was similarly launched by the Mayor in May. Once the public were alerted to this somewhat underhand move, it was flatly rejected by Rotorua ratepayers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reynold Macpherson: Nonsense reasoning behind council rebrand

On 27 November the Mayor and her Deputy announced that the Rotorua District Council was considering a name change to Rotorua Lakes Council to “refresh” its branding. On the following day we were told the decision had been made. The reasons given for ramming the decision through are silly, insulting to citizens and appear to be a frivolous waste of ratepayers’ money.

Mayor [Steve] Chadwick said that “the lakes defined the district”, hence the need for a change of name. Nonsense. The boundaries of the district define the district. That’s how the Rotorua District Council got its name. That’s why the rest of New Zealand will keep using the name.

It was then admitted on the 28th that “the official name will remain unchanged”. So the ‘rebrand’ is only a symbolic change? A pretend name change. What a shambles.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Saving Black Pete from the New Puritans

It shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows anything about names to learn that I’m Dutch. My parents took advantage in 1961 of the assisted passage scheme that brought 10,000 of us to NZ between the years 1947-62.

One thing I had to get my little head around was that Saint Nicholas didn’t do his annual stuff in the Antipodes on the 5th of December as he did back at home, but almost three weeks later. 

Well, he’s a busy guy, I surmised, so I guess he starts in Europe and works his way down, and that takes time. But he didn’t quite look the same in NZ either – perhaps his wife was washing his Northern Hemisphere clothes when he went south.

Richard Epstein from the US: Ferguson and the Rule of Law

As most people by now know, on August 9 of this year, 18 year-old Michael Brown, a black man, was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a 28 year-old white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. On November 19, the Ferguson Grand Jury decided not to indict Wilson. 

Few events this year have attracted more attention than the fatal interaction between Brown and Wilson and the grand jury decision to not to prosecute Wilson for any criminal offense from manslaughter to murder.

The chorus of criticism in response to these events in Ferguson has been harsh, widespread, and unrelenting. To many activists and social critics, Ferguson reveals that racism remains unabated in the United States 50 years after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fiona Mackenzie: Need Public Healthcare? A name change may help.

At a recent speaking engagement, Sir Bob Jones said he had known Sir Tipene O’Regan before he was a Maori. Bob had apparently grown up with one Stephen O’Regan – a man who made the politically and financially rewarding decision to strengthen his Maori identity and change his name in middle age. 

Well, it may be time for all of us to start digging out an inner Polynesian. As the baby boomer bubble moves into old age and increasing demands are put on health resources, activist bureaucrats have announced plans for race-based financial control and preference in our public health system. Choosing to identify as a “Maori” or “Pacific Islander” may leapfrog you over other Kiwis.