Sunday, April 30, 2023
Back in the day, Robert Muldoon used to joke that Kiwis moving to Australia raised the IQ of both nations. It was a great one-liner, but it was also a cheap play to the parochial peanut gallery. It especially helped Muldoon paper over an embarrassing fact: Australia was carrying the can for New Zealand’s failure to provide opportunity for locals.
After all, Australia bore the cost of Kiwi no-hopers queuing up outside the Manly dole office, at the same time as it benefited from NZ-bred talent finding their feet on a bigger stage. Somewhere in the middle was Russell Crowe. But I digress.
It is actually based on some truth in that the Kingdom of Hawaii was formed in the late 18th century. The rest is fiction. The actual history following tribal unification was one of decline until Hawaii was annexed to the United States 100 years later. Needless to say, a sequel is unlikely to feature this aspect of history.
That aside, Chief of War appears to be a good yarn commercially suited to a woke audience and Harvard University academics.
It has been billed as “the biggest Indigenous series ever made”. There is no question it is a big deal financially, with a production budget of US$340 million for the nine episodes.
The lead actor is Hollywood superstar Jason Momoa, best known for his roles as the titular character in Aquaman and Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones. Big name kiwi actors include Temuera Morrison and Cliff Curtis.
The movie is of relevance to New Zealand because parts are to be filmed on location here. Filming started last October in the Bay of Islands which welcomed the cast and entourage with great celebration and cultural fanfare at a powhiri. Filming is also scheduled to take place in Auckland and was to take place at Kauri Mountain which is on the east coast near Whangarei. The scenery is spectacular, albeit little known and is appreciated more by locals than tourists.
In January this year, the Northland Regional Council granted resource consent for the filming, and construction of the temporary props and buildings was underway. It all came to an abrupt halt a few weeks ago.
What the producers of Chief of War had not counted on was the warring tribes of Northland.
the wealth of 311 talented individuals who didn’t squander their productive years in politics, journalism or worse, the insolvency profession, revealed something interesting.
Net worth in the land of the long-white cloud is heavily concentrated in the elderly. Very heavily. There are three drivers of this.
Kiritapu Allan was appointed New Zealand’s 51st Minister of Justice on 14 June 2022. Her predecessors — nearly all men — include political heavyweights such as Jack Marshall, Ralph Hanan, Martyn Finlay, Geoffrey Palmer, Doug Graham and Annette King.
Less than a year into her tenure, Allan is looking more and more like a rube who lacks the gravitas and good judgment to hold such an important position in government.
Last month, Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods announced that the New Zealand Battery Project will move forward to a detailed business case, on two favoured options: pumped hydro at Lake Onslow and a portfolio option of alternative technologies. The portfolio option includes the combustion of biomass, a new geothermal plant used flexibly and interruptible hydrogen electrolysis. Despite this, the emphasis will be on the Onslow option, which Minister Woods is a strong advocate for.
Australia's citizenship deal - was it genuine goodwill or has our prime minister been "played like a digeridoo"? Tensions within the Green Party are said to be "boiling" as the Kerekere row drags on, and evidence that the wealthiest people pay tax at a lower rate than the rest of us starts up another capital gains tax debate.
The Australian government's announcement that from 1 July Kiwis could apply for citizenship after four years cascaded through the media this week.
It's retrospective, it's a big deal, and it was recognised as one.
On the other hand, I admire him for at least being consistent — and willing to equally offend the self-righteously woke. Even at the risk of his own cancellation.
Saturday, April 29, 2023
Chris Hipkins gave us the first taste of what to expect in the election year Budget this week when he delivered a speech to the business industry in Auckland.
He ruled out a capital gains tax in the Budget, and he’s dampening down expectations behind the scenes.
......while Health Minister may hope to bamboozle Buller people
But a statement released in the names of Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Transport Minister Michael Wood is astonishingly bereft of hard data related to the costs of the initiative that enthuses them.
State of the Nation 2023 report draws on data from Oranga Tamariki (formerly CYF) and tells us, “The number of children under 2 years of age entering care is down from 440 in 2018 to 133 in 2022..…”
Finally, some good news from a public service agency.
Save Our Schools makes wide-ranging recommendations to rescue our failing school system.
One problem is a knowledge-poor curriculum. In NCEA, we have a qualifications system that often leads to disconnected and incomplete coverage of school subjects. We have no reliable measures of educational achievement to hold schools accountable for their performance. We do not train teachers in a way that adequately prepares them for the classroom.
This week US President Joe Biden issued a video message to say he was joining former President Donald Trump in offering to renew his employment in 2024.
For different reasons, both men consider themselves eminently qualified. An important reason for both is that they are not the other.
Recent disclosures in the Fox News defamation case suggest that some who once had access to Trump are unenthusiastic about his candidacy.
Whereas the Democratic party apparatchiks who enjoy Biden’s hazy approach to policy and administration probably take an opposite view of their man.
So how about a wonk in the White House?
Saturday April 29, 2023
Grievance taken to world stage
Wairarapa Moana has called on the United Nations to hold the government to account for “breaching [its] human rights”.
In a statement to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples on April 18, Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani Incorporation director Anne Carter said the group has been denied access to justice by the New Zealand government.
Friday, April 28, 2023
Click to view
Opposition leader Christopher Luxon joined Newstalk ZB morning host Kerre Woodham in the studio for an hour of talkback.
In this newsletter:
One of the things I like about London is the infrastructure works. The buses, the trains, the tube, the taxis all work. It’s a systems place, it’s got the population to support it, and it works, so people use it.
.....the PM and his Housing Minister welcome the results of spending
There was nothing fresh on the government’s official website when Point of Order checked this morning on the doings of our hard-working ministers of the Crown.
This was no surprise, we reasoned. They will be busy finding someone willing to lend them the billions they need to plug the deficit in the Budget books.
considering the Education and Training Amendment Act (3)?
And did you know that it includes this requirement for appointments to school boards?
We got to chatting about the parlous state of journalism in New Zealand and various other things. He said to me that he loves using ChatGPT to analyse journalists’ work and suggested I try it.
So, I did and chose to look at a recent article from David Fisher. I mean, who better than that, right?
The Canberra bombers of the RNZAF saw active service in the Indonesian-Malaysian Confrontation of the mid-1960s – a military engagement about which New Zealanders know next-to-nothing. In conformity with the New Zealand Government’s determination to contribute as little as it could get away with to the escalating conflict, its Canberra bombers were not deployed in Vietnam. They were replaced in 1971 by the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.
Some top Republicans are getting cold feet over Ron DeSantis’s fight with Disney. The Florida governor has been locking horns with the Walt Disney Company for more than a year. His beef is with Disney’s arrogant decree that it would use its economic clout to wound and ideally kill off his House Bill 1557, branded the ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ by some commentators. Now passed into law, as the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, HB1557 limits what schoolteachers can say about ‘sexual orientation [and] gender identity’ to kids under the age of 10. ‘Unacceptable’, said the bosses of Disney as they peered with aristocratic scorn at the democratic process from their ivory-tower-cum-Cinderella-Castle.
......while Peeni pumps $57m into a fund for wood processing
There’s much to absorb in the 205-page report from the Climate Change Commission headed 2023 Draft advice to inform the strategic direction of the Government’s second emissions reduction plan.
If media headlines fairly sum up what the commission is saying, the government should be smarting.
Here’s a sample –
Thursday, April 27, 2023
To any observer from beyond our shores, it must be a matter of some surprise that we continue to argue about the meaning of a very old document, the so-called “Treaty of Waitangi”. The reason is that this essentially simple document has become a political football and, as everybody knows, political arguments usually go on for ever and are not always embellished with the truth. So it is with the Treaty.
The irony is that what the Treaty actually said is very plain and so it should be. It was, as I hope nobody will deny, translated from Hobson’s English text of 4th February into the Ngapuhi dialect of Maori overnight on 4/5 February 1840 by Henry and Edward Williams, two competent speakers of that tongue who had been resident in New Zealand for seventeen years.
Compare and contrast. Our government and media have brazenly condoned the abuse of UK women’s rights activist Posie Parker by transgender protesters. But UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ramped up his support for women’s rights, speaking out against the trans extremism movement where words like ‘pregnant woman’ and ‘mother’ are being censored, replaced by ‘pregnant people’.
Refusing to adhere to the media’s politically correct version of the ‘truth’ around identity politics, Rishi Sunak, in speaking out, is trouncing Keir Starmer, who still struggles (like our PM) to define a woman.
Are we not at peak tall poppy syndrome now?
Because where does all this "it's not fair, woe is me" whining actually get us? So far all I can see is that it sends our best and brightest off elsewhere. We have the 5000 nurses who've registered to work in Australia, the net migration loss of more than 8000 Kiwis to Australia just last year, we have those who've discovered cost of living is actually cheaper overseas.
It’s not a mid-life crisis, at least so far as I can tell. I haven’t bought a Harley Davidson. Yet.
New Zealand universities are facing serious budget shortfalls, dwindling domestic enrolments, and catastrophic international student declines. My employer, engaged in a cost-cutting restructure which I survived, only to find out they botched it so badly they had to re-employ everyone they sacked. We will start the process again mid-year. The University of Otago announced staff cuts will be in the several hundreds, Massey, Auckland, Victoria and Lincioln have already been and are in these processes. Only Canterbury has somehow shown growth. Overall the sector is in trouble in New Zealand. It’s the same in Australia.
For most of my career I was in love with the “university” and the role it had in society. I’m gutted now to have lost that love.
Their income in the last year of the study, 2020-21, was $14.6 billion. But the rate of tax they paid on this income was, according to IRD, only half of what the average taxpayer pays. According to business journalist Bernard Hickey, if those ultra-rich families paid the same rate of tax as middle-income New Zealanders, the government would’ve raised an extra $3.4 billion in tax in that one year.
Specifically, the IMF said it would be worse than notorious cot cases such as Greece and ranks us the 3rd worst performer in its recent years decline among advanced economies.
This is a direct consequence of the appalling financial mismanagement over the last 3 years.
It is sometimes a personal experience that brings abstract policy discussions to life. And so let me share with you a chat I had last Friday with an Uber driver in Auckland.
He was a Pakistan-born New Zealander who has called Auckland home for 21 years. On our way from the CBD to the airport, he shared his story of how he and his family are planning a move to Australia. The cost-of-living crisis, high crime rates, and better opportunities across the Tasman Sea influenced his decision, he explained. All his friends were thinking about the same move.
released a report that shows the wealthy in New Zealand pay an effective tax rate of half that which ordinary wage and salary earners pay. Missing from the media and the report is the fact that this is all entirely legal and that none of those the report is about are being prosecuted.
That means the report is a political exercise designed to soften us all up for increased taxation.
New Zealand’s once world-leading school education system is in a state of deep malaise. Objective international measures show an ongoing decline in key achievement areas, including literacy, numeracy and science. Too many students are leaving school ill-prepared for tertiary study, work and life.
Ah, me: the Boomers. Here I go, readers will think: taking the stick to my favourite whipping-boys. Not quite. Read on, geriatric Boomers, and don’t get your Depends in a knot, just yet.
Way back in the depths of the pandemic, I commented on social media that the response proved that Boomers are the most selfish generation. Because, I argued, the whole of pandemic policy was designed solely to try and save the elderly for just a few more weeks, at not just staggering economic expense, but at the cost to the well-being and future prospects of the very young. The Moloch Option, I called it.
But some Boomer relatives and friends disagreed. “We’re not all like that,” said one. They hated the lockdowns, too.
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
When Lidia Thorpe went on a raging, racist rampage of abuse outside a Melbourne strip joint, some commented that it was a preview of what the “Voice” in action would look like. They were more right than they knew.
Point of Order: IRD Minister’s tax report shows (no surprises) the benefits of getting much of your wealth from capital gainsLabels: Child Welfare, health, Point of Order, Taxation, wealth
We have waited patiently to post this ministerial press statement and some of the reaction, because the announcement was under embargo until 12.30pm and it was not then posted promptly on the Beehive website.
At first blush, the statement gives good cause for wealthier New Zealanders to brace to have more of their money taken from them by a government with an increasing debt to settle and an inclination to show “fairness” in its tax policies.
I said that one of the more damning aspects of the Dominion and Fox news scrap was not whether Fox was at fault over claims around the election, but rather the revelation in depositions that Tucker Carlson lied about Donald Trump.
As we know, as of last week, a bit over a billion dollars is heading Dominion's was after the settlement.
A lot of people who hate Fox wanted the thing to go to trial. The reason Fox didn’t is kind of exemplified by the Carlson sacking.
We headed away for the first time in three years – we hadn’t left the country since Covid and closed borders, but we’d heard from everybody who had, how refreshing it is to get out of NZ. How inspiring it is to see how much the rest of the world has moved on. How blinkered and parochial we have become in our own little hermit kingdom.
Our first stop was San Francisco, a lost city full of drugs and homeless people and not much to enthuse a tourist to be honest. It felt edgy and unsafe and made me worried about our next stop – New York – and how much more dangerous and unsafe that may feel.
But how wrong I was. New York is incredible. It feels super safe due to the fact the place is flooded with cops – Police on every corner, and lots of them.
classified as unlikely to live, regardless of what care it received. That’s how bad it is, as we will demonstrate to readers with leaked internal documents from the NZ Army.
The NZ Herald discussed how parlous the situation is in a recent podcast:
Are we reaping the whirlwind of the Childcare Generations? Watching the collective tantrum-throwing, foot-stamping, tears and outrage whenever someone dares have a different opinion to ignorant youngsters, one has to wonder where we went wrong.
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
The crucial consequence of the terrible events of World War I was the rescue of democracy, primarily in Europe, but also around the world.
.....but did our Veterans Minister forget about Second World War and the saving of democracy?
Dalius Čekuolis, a career diplomat who served as Lithuania’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2006 to 2012, championed democracy in a speech to the UN General Assembly on May 6 2010 to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War,
Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri, on the other hand, didn’t mention “democracy” in a press statement she issued to encourage all New Zealanders to mark Anzac Day this year.
A recent piece by my good friend Karl du Fresne, published on this blog, talked about the need for anonymity for some folk expressing views that may be considered controversial by people who have power over employment opportunities.
As usual it was a well written commentary by someone who is regarded by his enemies as being untouchable given he has earned a reputation for accuracy and well researched investigative journalism but it was also a sobering account of the state “free expression in New Zealand.
Unfortunately, there are few other individuals still writing opinion pieces in this country who command the respect that allows them to say what they like and we, as a nation of highly interested bystanders, are the worse for it.
To the Chief Ombudsman: Complaint regarding the Attorney General and the Minister for the Environment.
An OIA request asking for a copy of the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi has been rejected by both of the above entities.
The same person has dual roles in regard to being both the Attorney General and the Minister.
The inability to provide the information has huge justice issues for the people of New Zealand being subject to law which embodies phrases requiring that ‘must give effect to the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.’
Over time, of course it has come to represent more than just the Gallipoli campaign, and it has become an increasingly important day for both Australia and New Zealand. I would argue —for New Zealand— possibly it has become the country's most important national day.
It is the day that brings the nation together, with services and parades held in cities and towns throughout the country.