Sunday, November 30, 2008

Three down - how many more to go?

So, Mike Williams is fast-tracking his departure as Labour Party President. Good! His arrogance is such that he still has "no regrets" over the H-Fee slurs against John Key, which suggests that he is as out-of-touch with the average New Zealand voter as Helen Clark, Michael Cullen et al.

Williams claims to have "drawn the short straw" when it came to the Melbourne trip. That in itself suggests that a wider group within Labour knew of the slurs, and the inescapable conclusion is that the Chief Strategist was well and truly in the loop, probably even controlling it.

So that's three casualties in the post-election fall-out. How many more casualties will there be, and will there be enough MP's fall on their swords to allow Judith Tizard to make a Lazarus-like return?

Grand Slam card-fest

It was, as legendary American baseball player Yogi Berra once said, deja vu all over again; 2005 revisited. The All Blacks versus England at Twickers, and an Irish referee with a yellow card fetish - only this time, the villains of the piece were the English. Alain Rolland dished four of them out during the course of the match; however we at Keeping Stock (me, myself and I) would argue that all four were deserved, three of them richly so, and there could have been more, such was the intent of the English to stop a game of rugby from being played. And in the interests of balance, here's an English perspective from Bryn Palmer at BBC Sport.

But this was the All Blacks' day - a 32-6 victory which would have been at least as wide as the margin South Africa recorded the previous week had Daniel Carter not worn trainers instead of his kicking boots. The All Blacks resisted the pressure for the first 50 minutes, then picked up the pace of the game when the English had shot their bolt, winning in a canter.

So, it's a third Grand Slam for New Zealand, and a second in four seasons for Graham Henry. But what was most telling was this - in 320 minutes of rugby, not one of the Home Unions scored a try against the All Blacks, and in 160 minutes of second half rugby, the All Blacks conceded a miserly 3 points. That suggests to Keeping Stock that at least some of the lessons of Cardiff 2007 have been learned; notably, that the test team has been largely unchanged week on week. And that bodes very, very well for 2009 and beyond.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Peter Bills on the RFU

English rugby writer Peter Bills has been writing opinion pieces for the Herald for some time now, and unlike other British hacks, he is actually critical of things in the Northern Hemisphere. Today he puts the boot into the English RFU, quite deservedly so in Keeping Stock's opinion, with a column entitled 20 reasons English rugby is rubbish (except in 2003) - here's a couple of his reasons, with which we (me, myself and I) agree wholeheartedly:

6. Somehow England got it right in 2003 because they refused a clamour to sack Clive Woodward after the failure of his team at the 1999 World Cup. Woodward went on to lead England to the title in 2003. So, drawing clear lessons from that after the 2007 tournament, they sacked coach Brian Ashton.

and this:

10. England players rarely go abroad to play and develop their game. Thus, they never learn another vision for the game, never acquire the hard-nosed playing values of the southern hemisphere. Is it a coincidence Martin Johnson became such a towering figure in world rugby, given he spent his formative playing times in, er, New Zealand?

OK, here's a third, which even Monarchists should enjoy:

15. The Queen doesn't go to Twickenham any more these days. Perhaps she was put off in 1991 at the World Cup final when Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer sitting close by Her Majesty, shouted at his players at the end "Kick it into the shithouse".

Excellent stuff Peter Bills!

Three in a row!

It's been a week of firsts for the Wellington Phoenix. On Sunday, for the first time in the club's short history, the 'Nix recorded back-to-back wins. Last night they went one better with the upset of the season, a 2-1 defeat of A-League leaders the Melbourne Victory.

It was a cracking good game at the Cake Tin, and in Keeping Stock's opinion, far and away their best performance of the season. When they went a goal down after 20 minutes, one got the feeling that it was going to be a long night. Not so! The 'Nix responded with a cracking goal by Tim Brown less than a minute later, before Shane Smeltz scored a stunning winner in the second half. If you get the chance, check this goal out on the news tonight!

With two matches left in Round 13, the Phoenix now sit in 4th position on the A-League table, and incredibly are just 5 points adrift of Melbourne who still sit at the top of the table. In all probability, they will have slipped back to 5th by the end of the weekend, but three wins on the trot gives them confidence for the run home.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A good start from the Black Caps...

In all probability I'll have to eat my wordss later in the day, but the Black Caps have got off to a solid start at Adelaide. Dan Vettori won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first, and at the drinks break after the first hour it's 45 without loss - Jamie How on 16 and Aaron Redmond on 24.

For those unable to watch or listen, CricInfo provides excellent ball-by-ball coverage here:

Tragedy for Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand has confirmed that five staff members of the company and the Civil Aviation Authority were aboard the Air-NZ owned Airbus 320 which crashed this morning into the Mediterranian. Air NZ CEO Rob Fyfe has just held a media conference to confirm this very sad news. By coincidence, it is 29 years to the day since the Erebus disaster in 1979.

The Herald reports:

There are grave concerns for five Air New Zealand staff on board the Airbus A320 which crashed off the coast of France early this morning.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe told a media conference this morning the aircraft had been leased by German charter company XL for the last two years.

He said two XL pilots were on board with one Air New Zealand captain, three Air New Zealand engineers and one Air New Zealand CAA inspector.

One body had been recovered Mr Fyfe said, however French media have reported three bodies have been found.

"At this stage we don't know the status of personnel," Mr Fyfe said.

"We have grave concerns for the situation"


Keeping Stock's thoughts and prayers are with all those touched by this tragedy.

The Friday Forum 28/11/2008

Greetings all, and welcome to the last Keeping Stock Friday Forum - for November, for spring, for whatever else it might be! Fear not, we (me, myself and I) aren't going anywhere, unlike other bloggers who can no longer hack the pace!

So welcome aboard - this is YOUR place on the blogosphere to have a rant or a rave, to let off a bit of steam, to tell us all a yarn (truth or otherwise is irrelevant!), fly a kite or promote your own blog, or just to do whatever it takes to get you into the right space for the weekend - so over to you...

A failed experiment

No, it's nothing particularly earth-shattering - merely a rare admission by the Black Caps hierarchy that Brendon McCullum's best position in the team's batting order is at number seven.

John Bracewell's last test as New Zealand's coach begins this afternoon, and with it comes the end of McCullum's "desire" to bat higher in the order. McCullum's whim has indeed been a failed experiment for Bracewell and the Black Caps - he has a far better record at seven, and gives the middle-lower order far more stability. "Two-metre" Peter Fulton comes into the side today, and is listed to bat at #five; however the Keeping Stock selection panel (me, myself and I) would go further than that, batting Fulton at #3 and moving Jessie Ryder down to the five spot.

The effects of the absence of Jacob Oram are obvious in this selection, and shows the conundrum the selectors have without a genuine all-rounder (other than Dan Vettori). If Oram was available, he could replace one of the batsmen (Redmond perhaps, with Fulton opening), and be the first-change seamer. This would allow one of the bowlers, probably O'Brien to make way for Jeetan Patel, and give New Zealand a two-spinner attack. Much as I would like New Zealand to play two spinners in this match, I can't see them going into the game with only two front-line seamers.

Anyway, the Bracewell era is almost at an end, with New Zealand having slipped from 3rd in the ICC test rankings to a likely 8th if the team loses in Adelaide. Keeping Stock hopes that Andy Moles is encouraged by NZ Cricket to prioritise a turnaround of the malaise in the longer form of the game which, to cricket purists and tragics such as the writer.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Schollum's ordeal over

OK - I admit it - the heading was an attention-grabber! But I make no apologies whatsoever for the sentiments expressed in this post.

The Herald reports that convicted pack-rapist Bob Schollum is to be released on parole on a date withheld by the Parole Board. Schollum was sentenced on 5 August 2005 to eight-and-a-half years' imprisonment. As of today, he has served three years, three months and 22 days of that sentence. The Sensible Sentencing Trust's offender database carries a profile of Schollum, and in particular, references to the sentencing notes from Justice Young, of which these paragraphs are particularly relevant (our emphasis added):

You Hales, were also present, although on the veranda, while she was handcuffed, raped and sexually violated by you McNamara, Shipton, Schollum and another. You Hales then had the chance to intervene. Even though you were young at 18 years of age you knew what was happening was terribly wrong. Each of you raped this defenceless woman, as did a fifth man. It was a pack rape in the worst sense. She was, in her words, treated by you like a “piece of meat”. After the rape you Shipton and Schollum visited the complainant at the caravan and you Shipton visited her at the motel. She understood (and I understand) the message that she was being given by you by that visit. You were the police. There would be no complaint. You knew where she lived. And your intimidation worked. She did not complain.

Her life changed, her personality changed, she paid a high price for your brutality to her, but eventually she had the courage to come forward and complain. You Shipton and Schollum were corrupt police officers. You used the authority the community entrusted in you to do right. Your arrogance, in my view, knew no bounds. You were confident you could commit a serious crime and get away with it because you were policemen – and you almost did. These were deeply disgraceful acts. You McNamara also used your position, again one the community entrusted in you. You used the veneer of respectability that the position of head lifeguard gave you to manipulate this young woman. Your conduct was a disgrace….'

Justice Young is right. These were deeply disgraceful acts, committed by corrupt policemen. Corrupt policemen who have served their sentences at the Te Moenga unit at Wanganui Prison, a unit inhabited by paedophiles, witness protection scheme inmates and jailed police officers. A unit seperate from others at Wanganui Prison. A unit inhabited by those who would have a tough time amongst the general prison population.

Schollum is now free to resume his life in the community. Has he been punished? No, not in Keeping Stock's opinion. Has he suffered the same traumatic, life-changing effects that his victim did? Like hell he has!

There is something inherently wrong with our judicial system when a person like Schollum or his mate Shipton can abuse their authority to this degree, yet be released from custody in the twinkling of an eye. Keeping Stock hopes that the tough talk from National and Act during the election campaign manifests itself into action, and that thugs such as Schollum and Shipton are forced to face the full consequences of their actions.

Bad things happening in Mumbai

Earlier this morning I heard news of a "developing situation" in Mumbai. The situation has indeed developed, and it seems that the Indian city has been the victim of a major and concerted terrorist attack - seven seperate attacks, at least 80 are dead and a number are being held hostage at the Taj Hotel - and reports suggest that the terrorists are targetting US and British passport holders.

More as it unfolds...

Stuff report here:


Cheers MacDoctor! This seems to be the new craze sweeping the blogosphere, so here are seven random pieces of information about ole Inventory

  1. I was a third generation pupil of Palmerston North Boys' High School, with my family's involvement dating back to the school's very first day.
  2. The current Mrs Inventory is the third (and last) in the lineage!
  3. I have an addictive personality. Blogging is addictive. Probably not a good fit!!
  4. Mrs Inventory and I are church leaders, and my particular role is as a keen but largely unskilled guitarist, singer and songwriter. But God loves a trier.
  5. Golf is the most frustrating sport ever devised, and I love it with a passion for that very reason. It's been said that they called it "golf" because all the other four-lettered words were taken.
  6. The bottle of 10-year-old Glenmorangie in my pantry is now 20 years old, and there is still plenty of nectar in the bottle on the rare occasions that I remember it's there. But a single malt warms the inner self like nothing else.
  7. I am a chronic and serial underachiever, but what the hell - as mentioned earlier, God loves a trier!
OK - So on to the rules:
  • Link to the person who tagged you
  • Post the rules
  • Share seven random or weird facts about yourself
  • Tag 7 random people at the end of the post with their links

And bang - you’re all tagged:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rudman's campaign

Judging by his opinion-pieces in the Herald last week and today, Brian Rudman is no fan of Rodney Hide. Check this out:

There are many in local government scratching their heads after the appointment of Act leader Rodney Hide as Minister of Local Government and wondering what on earth they did to upset Prime Minister John Key so much.

Back in July when he addressed the Local Government New Zealand conference, Mr Key was at his smoochy best.

"We want to work closely with the local government sector... because on many issues, central and local government are in the same boat. We are both major players in the economy and in society. What we do actually matters in people's lives."

He went further, saying, "It's my view that central government has much to learn from local government when it comes to infrastructure planning, investment and management".

He held out great hope to his local partners that a National Government would find new ways for them to finance infrastructure development. "As the local government rates inquiry concluded, the current reliance on rates as the main funding tool for councils to maintain and develop infrastructure is simply not sustainable. It seriously limits the ability of councils to respond to their citizens' varying ability, and willingness, to pay."

He noted how over the past few years, local government had been given new obligations "in areas as diverse as gambling, prostitution and dog control" which "have not been adequately funded by the Government". Under National this would change.

He ended by talking of national and local government learning from each other, and how when he was Prime Minister "we will want to work through some important issues with you, honestly and openly".

However, the moment he's in a position to begin this love-in, what does he do but appoint as Minister of Local Government the leader of a party which is pledged to strip most of its functions over to private operators, confining councillors "to the core activities that produce public benefits, such as regulations, flood controls and roads".

What Rudman seems to forget is that National, not Act is the leader of the new government, and that in accordance with the agreement between the parties, not everything that Act campaigned on will materialise. He seems intent on demolishing Hide's credibility, even before Hide completes his first week in his new job. Keeping Stock will be watching future developments with much interest!

Jessup on Stuart

Peter Jessup takes up the Ricky Stuart theme in his league column in the Herald this morning. And after reflecting on Stuart's "champion" pedigree, he closes with a dead-set classic slap-down:

It's a shame Stuart can't accept that and give credit where it's due, in the way the often-beaten Kiwis players and their fans have always respected Australia as the champions to beat.

The Rugby League International Federation may well investigate the verbal altercation Stuart had with Klein and Cummings as they left their Brisbane hotel on the day after the game. But there is no punishment it can impose that will hurt Stuart as much as losing did.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh Bomber

Bomber Bradbury at Tumeke obviously isn't one to let the facts get in the way of a good story, especially when it comes to defending the honour of the left (such as it is!). The Herald reported today that Kiwis are still fleeing to Australia at record rates, which prompted Bomber to blog this:

WHAT? After listening to National for 15 minutes it is obviously apparent that the reason NZers are fleeing NZ isn’t because that’s what NZers have always done, oh no, the reason why NZers are fleeing is because the Political Correctness stormtroopers of the Nanny State Dykorcracy in Helengrad are forcing NZers to flee, but even with the promise of a National Government in Power these NZers seem to be leaving regardless, so I’m a little confused, could it be that NZers have always left and that the entire Nanny State stuff was garbage? What excuse will National use if the numbers leaving are still high under them?

Ah yes Bomber. Had you read the Herald story properly, you would have noticed that it referred to record numbers leaving New Zealand for Australia in the YEAR TO OCTOBER - that, of course, was the last year of the fifth Labour government!! New Zealanders only freed themselves from the clutches of Helengrad two and a bit weeks ago, so it's just a little bit early to be blaming John Key! That's just a bit tumeke, wouldn't you agree?

Ricky Stuart - plonker!

The fallout continues after the Kiwis' shock World Cup win over Australia, and the Sydney Morning Herald reports that most of it is falling at the feet of Aussie coach Ricky Stuart. The SMH says:

BITTER Kangaroos coach Ricky Stuart faces disciplinary action after being accused of abusing referee Ashley Klein and "physically and aggressively intimidating" him and a top England official as they were checking out of their hotel the day after New Zealand's shock win in the tournament final.

World Cup officials yesterday launched an investigation after receiving a formal complaint about the behaviour of Stuart, who is alleged to have repeatedly called Klein a "f---ing cheat" as he was preparing to depart for Brisbane Airport with the Rugby Football League's director of referees, Stuart Cummings.

According to reports from England, Cummings attempted to interject but was "manhandled" by Stuart in his attempt to get to Klein. The incident follows an earlier Stuart tirade against Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr on the field just after full-time in Saturday night's match. Stuart, the Herald yesterday revealed, had alleged a conspiracy to boost the international game had led to the Kangaroos' first World Cup final loss in 33 years.

Yesterday the Herald was told Stuart had also abused ARL chairman and tournament director Colin Love in the Australian dressing room after the match, before turning on Klein and Cummings as they got out of a lift at the Holiday Inn at about 12.15pm on Sunday. Stuart is understood to have been in the foyer with his family.

"We have received notice by two employees, Stuart Cummings and Ashley Klein, that they were verbally abused and physically and aggressively intimidated in the foyer of their hotel while in the process of checking out the day after the World Cup final," RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said. "They are currently travelling back to the UK and we will meet with them as soon as possible upon their return."

Stuart's response to the unexpected loss has been, in Keeping Stock's opinion not only a bad case of sour grapes, but greatly disrespectful to the Kiwis who outplayed the Kangaroos, especially in the second half where they were the dominant team. The allegations against him are becoming more serious by the day, and his tenure as coach of the Kangaroos may be a short one.

Meet the Greens

The Dom-Post reports on the unsuccessful attempts by "environmental activists" to disrupt Solid Energy's AGM in Auckland yesterday.

The Dom-Post notes that the activists are from the Save Happy Valley coalition. So I googled that, and found the coalition's website - and in the chronicles of the illegal occupation of Solid Energy's property, I found this:

28th January 2006 :: Third and Final Occupation Begins

Over 75 people trekked in to Happy Valley as part of the first weekend of the indefinite occupation of Happy Valley, coming from as far afield as Auckland and Dunedin and representing groups such as Greenpeace, Forest & Bird, Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae, the Green Party and others. By far the biggest occupation so far, this time the campers plan to stay at the proposed mine site in an effort to both monitor and stop any moves by Solid Energy to go ahead with the mine. Besides a brief visit by Solid Energy security the morning after, the occupation began without incident and with stunning weather.

Interesting - there are other references to the Green Party's support of this illegal occupation. Yes, that's right - the third-largest party in the New Zealand Parliament supports illegal activity, including criminal behaviour such as that in the photograph - a prima-facie case of assault, albeit with a custard pie!

The contact person for the coalition is one Frances Mountier - a well-known activist, and as Trevor Loudon revealed at New Zeal, a "graduate" of Sue Bradford's activist "training school" at Kotare. And Loudon expands the links between the Green Party, the Save Happy Valley Coalition and the Urewera 17 in this post - five of the 17 have connections to SHVC.

Keeping Stock is of the opinion that the Greens will never be the political force that they could be while they are tainted by the illegalities committed by extremists. Legitimate protest is one thing. But the company that the Greens keep takes protest well beyond the bounds of legitimacy, helped by a compliant news media. Perhaps the incoming government will be less tolerant of "stunts" which prevent law-abiding New Zealanders from going about their business.

Wither now NZC?

New Zealand Cricket faces a new crisis this morning, and it's got nothing to do with the performance of the Black Caps! The Dom-Post is reporting that New South Wales coach Matthew Mott has decided to turn his back on an offer to take over from John Bracewell as the Black Caps coach, and has re-signed with the state team.

And can you blame him? He coached a second-string NSW team to a victory over New Zealand a week ago, and would have seen for himself the shambles that currently exists, and the magnitude of the job ahead. He's obviously realistic enough to know that either it is a task beyond him, or a whole bunch of problems and stress that he doesn't need - probably the latter.

New Zealand Cricket must shoulder the blame for this farcical situation. It was a big mistake to re-hire Bracewell after the 2007 World Cup. Keeping Stock reckons that NZC was buying time, and waiting for John Wright to confirm his interest. But Wright, who must be gutted to see the batting malaise so prevalent in the Black Caps has decided that life on the road isn't what he wants, and fair enough.

And so, right at the start of the "Summer of Cricket", NZC is in big trouble, and is likely to have to readvertise the coaching job. Bracewell wants out before the home series against India, so that he can take up his new role in England in time for the county season, so a stop-gap coach will need to be appointed. Meantime, has anyone seen Steve Rixon lately?

UPDATE: Wither now NZC? Englishman Andy Moles has been appointed to the role, starting next week, in time for the West Indes tour! Stuff profiles the new coach, to whom Keeping Stock wishes the best of British luck!

Monday, November 24, 2008

More good news...

...and it's got nothing to do with beating Australia!! Fuel prices are down AGAIN - and imagine how much better it would be if the NZ$ hadn't dropped so dramatically in recent months. As the graphic shows, the price of 91 octane has dropped by 23 cents in the last three weeks, and by 20 cents a litre since the end of Helengrad (couldn't resist that!!). For a business like ours which involves a lot of travel, that's great news - may gas go lower still!

And to make things even better, the banks are finally coming to the party over interest rates. The Herald reports that the BNZ is leading the way, with a six-month fixed mortgage rate of 6.99%. Keeping Stock was delighted with Westpac's move last week, especially the cut in credit card rates!

We are bound to have some tough times ahead, but at least there is a bit of good news for the average Kiwi, especially with Christmas just around the corner. We just hope that gas prices stay low for the holidays when we drive down to the Mainland!

Sharples defends the haka

New Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples has been quick to defend the haka after some rather ill-informed and patronising calls from Guardian reporter Frank Keating for it to be scrapped. Keeping Stock is delighted to see Dr Shaples, no mean kapahaka exponent himself, calling it as he sees it. The Herald reports:

The new Minister of Maori Affairs is less than impressed by a call from a journalist in the United Kingdom for the haka to be axed.

Guardian writer Frank Keating said New Zealand's "charmless eye-rolling, tongue squirming dance" has long passed its sell-by date.

He wants it dumped after the rugby test between the All Blacks and England this weekend.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said on National Radio this morning that the English media can "get lost".

"That's our country's ritual, its based in tradition going way back a thousand years, and if they don't like it, fine.

"Its our choice whether it's out of date", said Sharples.

Kia ora Dr Sharples! It's hard to imagine Parekura Horomia having delivered such a strong reply, and more especially, having done so in so few words!! Meantime, enjoy the rendition of Kapa o Pango from Cardiff yesterday, even if the Mexican standoff between the teams at the end is abbreviated!

The Monday Quote - 24/11/2008

There's plenty of choice today, but I can't go past the reaction in the Aussie press to the Kiwis' triumph in the RLWC final on Saturday night, summarised in this story in the Herald - but this one is the winner:

"What a choke - two moments of madness cost Australia World Cup glory," its main headline screamed under a photo of anguished Australian halfback Johnathan Thurston.

Wrote league writer Glenn Jackson: "It was meant to be predictable, but the finish was irresistible. A joke became a choke."

Australians choking. Yep, that IS worthy of celebration!!

Shane Jones and the poisoned chalice

I didn't check my e-mails over the weekend (resisted temptation!!), and so I didn't read Ian Wishart's TGIF until Sunday night. But he has ceratinly done a comprehensive job on Shane Jones over the Yang Liu citizenship scandal - and this is one scandal that really deserves that label.

Whatever motivated Jones to cross out the bold, capitilised recommendation from officials "DECLINED" and hand-write in capitals "APPROVED" is not yet known. But it is either a huge error of judgment by Jones, or something even more serious. His Internal Affairs officials had clearly outlined their concerns as to why Liu did not meet the "good character" requirements for citizenship to be awarded. Internal Affairs told Jones that Liu was being investigated for misappropriation of a "significant" sum of money, and for passport fraud.

Shane Jones professes to be an intelligent and successful businessman. So surely he isn't stupid. What Wishart has alleged suggests that Jones was a part of a wider plan to reward Liu for his patronage of the Labour Party, given the letters of support from Dover Samuels and former Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter. And without doubt, Jones' prospects of becoming New Zealand's first Maori PM have been severly dented. He has supped from the same poisoned chalice as Winston Peters and John Tamihere, a vessel which Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges should be very, very wary of!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two outa three ain't bad!

Poor Darren Lockyer. No, seriously, I mean it - poor Darren Lockyer! You have to feel for the Kangaroos captain after his team choked in a manner not dissimilar to Greg Norman at Augusta in 1996. But we can say it now:


What a match it was. 10-0 down after 15 minutes, then 16-12 down at halftime, and it looked all over for the Kiwis. But there was only one side in it in the second half, and they weren't the ones in green and gold! The Kiwis hung tough, and got the rub of the green, although I have no issue with the penalty try awarded by video ref Steve Ganson. And the last few minutes, followed by the immediate post-match were just great television. A few moans - with the Ockers beaten so soundly, how come Lockyer got man of the final? And please Sky TV - can you put Jason Costigan out to pasture? But nothing could detract from a wonderful team effort by the Kiwis, some of whom we met at our hotel in Sydney a few weeks ago. Winning a World Cup is great, but as they say in the MasterCard ads, beating Australia to do it - priceless!!

And it was a cracking good game in Cardiff this morning, watched after a few hours' sleep. The Mexican stand-off after the haka set the tone for the match, and while the Welsh were gallant, the AB's really applied the blowtorch in the second spell for a comfotable win - just England now stands between New Zealand and a third Grand Slam, and Martin Johnson's reign as England coach may be a short one!

Oh, and as if the weekend wasn't good enough already, the Wellington Phoenix knocked over the Newcastle Jets, last year's A-League champions 2-nil to leave the 'Nix within striking distance of the playoffs.

PS - don't mention the cricket!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Greetings from the Mainland

Mrs Inventory and I are in Christchurch for the weekend, celebrating the 90th birthday of a rather remarkable relative. Oh, and doing a bit of business, so as to justify taking a day off yesterday!

But what a weekend of sport is in the offing. The
Black Caps are hanging in by the skin of their teeth against the Aussies, and if they can knock over the last four wickets without too many more runs being added, there is an outside chance of an upset win.

There's the League World Cup final tonight (the word "World" being used fairly liberally!), where the Aussies plan to
bash Kiwi playmaker Benji Marshall, but where the Kiwis can still call on the memory of their 24-nil spanking of the Aussies three years ago. And the weather forecast for Brisbane tonight is a shocker!

And of course, the All Blacks take on Wales tomorrow morning at Cardiff - always a huge occasion, even if the Welsh don't rate themselves much of a chance, if former Welsh flanker
Gwyn Jones' words are any indication. But the AB's will be determined to put to rest their last visit to Cardiff, of which the less is said the better.

A Kiwi trifecta - well, I wouldn't bet on it, but in this post-Helengrad age, who would discount it??!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Friday Forum 21/11/2008

It's that day of the week again - the first Friday when we are officially freed from the grips of Helengrad! So what better way to mark the new era by having your say on the Friday Forum.

The floor is yours .....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The bespectacled puppeteer

English writer Peter Roebuck gives Daniel Vettori big wraps for his leadership on day one of the test at the 'Gabba - this teaser from his Sydney Morning Herald column:

Vettori's masterstroke came on the stroke of tea. Hitherto Jesse Ryder has made his name mostly as a hard-hitting batsmen built along the lines favoured by John Daly, whose social habits lacked the discretion shown by the eventful golfer. Now he emerged as a burly medium-pacer capable of delivering the sort of temptations that started the rot in the Garden of Eden. Apparently, the rotund operator had not previously rolled over an arm in this company. Now he struck as Australia's embattled gloveman, under threat as much from the remote south as the distant west, edged to slip.

Vettori's willingness to back his hunches had paid dividends. His next move was to take the leather himself and immediately to break an irritating ninth-wicket partnership. His final trick was to recall the aforementioned occasional bowler who promptly produced an irresistible inswinger that ended Clarke's notably cheerful and capable hand.

By the end of the innings the visiting captain had reason to be pleased with his contribution. It had taken a fine innings from another young leader and a handy last-wicket partnership to take the hosts past 200. It surpassed anything New Zealand could have expected at the start of the day.

Everyone wants to meet John Key

Even Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II...

Helen who?

Great start from the Black Caps!

The pressure's on Australia! Dan Vettori won the toss and sent the Aussies in, and they are currently 23 for 3, with Hayden, Katich and Ponting all falling to Tim Southee.

The only thing that upsets me is that Mrs Inventory and I have to go over to Palmy later this afternoon, so I will get prised away from the TV!! And you know that summer is here when the unique, nasal tones of Bill Lawry boom out from the telly - Gottim, yes!

Go here for livescoring.

UPDATE: End of day one: Australia 214 all out; New Zealand 7 without loss when bad light stopped play. A terrific performance by the Black Caps bowlers; let's hope that the batsmen can cash in tomorrow.

Queen Bee: Prophet

The short-term demise of The Hive is a loss to the blogosphere. Keeping Stock was a regular and frequent visitor to The Hive, which seemed to have some very good connections.

Today Queen Bee has responded to requests from readers, and posted about a prediction made on 18 December last year. And it is a prophesy which was fulfilled yesterday. Well done QB, thanks for all your insights into the goings-on in Welly-town, and Keeping Stock hopes you return in some shape or form before too long!

Life without baubles

The Dom-Post reports on the forgotten men and women of New Zealand politics, the seven NZ First MP's, who are now "considering their options".

Keeping Stock reckons that most, even those who take more than a passing interest in politics, would struggle to name the seven, such was the profile of their erstwhile leader. Though there was initial bravado about keeping the party alive to contest the 2011 election, Keeping Stock doubts that will happen. Life without baubles is tough, without the profile that comes from the leader's daily performances on the floor of the House. One or two with political ambitions may try to keep NZ First alive, and even unseat Winston Peters, or they might gravitate to other parties.

The New Zealand political landscape has changed with the demise of Peters and his party. It may not be quite as much fun, but in Keeping Stock's humble opinion, it's a better place.

I don't like cricket...

... I love it! The words of the 10CC classic Dreadlock Holiday certainly apply to Keeping Stock - we (me, myself and I) are self-confessed cricket tragics, and so it is fitting to mark the commencement of the "real" cricket season today, when New Zealand's summer of cricket begins at the 'Gabba in Brisbane. David Leggat previews the match in today's Herald.

Test matches against Australia over there are the ultimate challenge, and this one will be no exception. The Black Caps team is youthful and inexperienced, and the Australian team was wounded by India. The 'Gabba pitch will be moist and green, the weather humid, and the atmosphere hostile. We can only hope that it brings out the best in the New Zealanders, but in this match, they face an uphill struggle. But one thing about the New Zealand cricket team - there's always the chance, however miniscule, that they will surprise, and I guess that's what keeps our interest!

If New Zealand gets a chance to bowl first, they could put the Aussie batting line-up under pressure, for that is where the teams are most evenly matched - Australia's batting is far stronger than its Warne and McGrath-less bowling lineup, and the New Zealand bowling line-up is well suited to the bowler-friendly conditions in Brisbane. But it's an "if", and a big one at that. In any event, my day will be structured so that my luncheon adjournment is taken at the time the test match starts!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Memo to Wiremu

Memo to Wiremu Curtis: You do the crime; you do the time.

And Wiremu Curtis has a long, long lag to look forward to, so he'll have plenty of time to reflect on the enormity of what he, his brother and their friends and partners have done - taking the life of a child whose only mistake was being born.

It's not unexpected that Curtis is in a fragile emotional state, given that he and his brother are likely to be New Zealand's most detested inmates. But he won't get any sympathy here, so he should stop bleating (via his lawyer) and take his punishment like a man. Then again, he wasn't much of a man when he kicked a three-year-old to death eh...

John Key - Prime Minister

The first seven words of the Herald article say it all:

New Zealand has a new Prime Minister.

At 11.08am John Key signed his warrant of office and seven minutes later he was taking the oath of office. Mr Key is New Zealand's 38th prime minister and at the age of 47 is one of the youngest.

The ceremony was presided over by Governor General Anand Satyanand and was watched over by the 28 new ministers' friends and families.

There was silence in the audience until the Maori Party colleagues of ministers Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia burst into song, as the co-leaders entered the Grand Hall at Parliament.

Mr Key was for the first time called Prime Minister when he was asked to sign his affirmations of office.

The new Cabinet will hold its first meeting this afternoon with Mr Key indicating he will warn his new ministers there is little money for new spending.

He said yesterday he would emphasise that the government's books and the wider economy were in a parlous state.

There are indeed some major challenges ahead for the incoming government, and Labour may not be too disappointed to have lost - hence the rapid exits of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen. However John Key has already put his mark on the ship of state, and in building relationships with National's three support partners so quickly has shown decisiveness that was lacking in the last months of Helen Clark's administration.

John Key has promised an action-packed first 100 days, and Keeping Stock will be watching the progress of New Zealand's 38th Prime Minister with much interest and anticipation.

Once Were Warriors 2008

NZ Herald reporter Catherine Masters deserves every accolade for her lengthy article this morning on the Nia Glassie trial, and for chronicling the dreadful abuse that was dished out on Nia. It's shocking, it's gut-wrenching, and for that reason, I won't reproduce any of the article, just the link. You can make your own decision as to whether or not you want to read it.

I read that Justice Potter offered counselling to the jurors at the end of the trial. It is hard to imagine that anyone who has listened to the evidence who has not been profoundly affected by it - except perhaps some or all of the accused.

An hour worth noting

It's 11am, and at this very moment, the swearing-in of the new National-led government is about to take place in Parliament's Grand Hall.

For this to be taking place only ten days after the election speaks much for the intentions of John Key and his government. They will face some very large and very real problems as soon as they take office, but Keeping Stock has far more confidence in the skills and abilites of the incoming administration than we do of the outgoing.

No Ms Kiro, we don't!

I had to head out of town yesterday not long after the verdicts in the Nia Glassie case were delivered, so I caught quite a bit of talkback yesterday afternoon, and again last night. And I heard Larry Williams quote from a news release from Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro - in particular this bit:

“After cases such as this the blame game begins. While ultimately responsibility rests with the person or people who take the life of a child, or children, that we tolerate child abuse and neglect is an indictment on our society.

“New Zealand has a high tolerance to violence and much of the violence towards children is perpetrated in the name of discipline. There are no acceptable ways of hitting children.

Dr Kiro is not a favourite of Keeping Stock's. And this lengthy statement suggests why. New Zealanders on the whole do NOT "tolerate child abuse". New Zealanders on the whole do NOT have "a high tolerance towards violence". And Dr Kiro does New Zealanders a huge disservice, especially the children she purports to represent, when she makes sweeping generalisations such as this in solidarity with the likes of Sue Bradford and Helen Clark.

Child abuse is, as I blogged last week, a cancer on our nation. New Zealanders are horrified, angered and sickened by the revelations from the Nia Glassie trial. And Dr Kiro's focus should be on working towards solutions, not on writing platitudinous media releases. Doubtless the incoming adminstration will be closely watching Dr Kiro's performance.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good news!

Michael Curtis guilty of murdering Nia Glassie.

Wiremu Curtis guilty of murdering Nia Glassie.

Lisa Kuka guilty of the manslaughter of her daughter Nia Glassie.

Justice is done for Nia Glassie.

Oh plllllleeeease!

Just heard the 1pm news on Newstalk ZB, where it is reported that Phil Goff has reported that Labour is considering opposing Lockwood Smith's nomination for the role of Speaker, on the grounds that he is TOO PARTISAN!!

Too partisan? Give us a break! This, from the party that nominated Margaret Wilson, in Keeping Stock's opinion Parliament's worst Speaker since Dr Gerry Wall in the 1980's, and definitely the most partisan.

Pardon me Mr Goff, but your hypocrisy is showing!

Maurice's long wait

Rod Emmerson brilliantly captures the plight of Maurice Williamson, the non-travelling reserve for Cabinet.

Bad losers #3

And the award goes to ... Linley Boniface, for her contribution to the Dom-Post yesterday - here's a sample:

It's now just over a week since I awoke with the pangs of what I suspect will turn out to be a four-year hangover. Labour was out; National was in.

The result had been obvious for months in advance – John Key would have had to eat a baby live on Close Up to endanger his chances of winning – but I couldn't bear to watch the election night coverage and found myself thinking enviously of Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese soldier who emerged from a remote island in the Philippines in 1974 with no idea that World War II was over.

Unfortunately, it proved impossible to remain oblivious to the results for long. Perhaps the strangest thing about those first few post-election days was how difficult it was to guess who would be utterly downcast and who would be belting down the champagne: the swing to the Right was so widespread that even previously diehard Labour supporters wanted a change.

As is the case with most journalists, I find it almost physically painful to express admiration for a politician. Like bestiality, it's wrong, unnatural and guaranteed to come back to bite you. But here goes: I doubt I'll ever live under a better prime minister than Helen Clark. For me, it has been a totally new experience to be represented by a leader I'm not appalled by.

Curiously, given the strength of feeling for change, there has been little specific criticism of Labour's accomplishments. These have included sustained economic growth, low unemployment, Working for Families, paid parental leave, regular increases in the minimum wage, Maori TV, interest-free student loans, a genuine – if belated – desire to take action on climate change, and a refusal to involve us in the seemingly never-ending horror of the Iraq war.

But what won me over most was Labour's commitment to social inclusion. The civil union bill, the legalisation of prostitution and the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act were among the initiatives Miss Clark must have known would do her no favours at the ballot box, yet she pressed ahead on the grounds that her government was elected to represent all New Zealanders, not just the most powerful.

In the process, she was subjected to a level of vitriol that, I suspect, far exceeds that endured by any of her predecessors. Much of it was unashamedly misogynistic: type "Helen Clark Bitch" into Google and you'll find 80,700 entries.

Just this week, a Southland farmer was jailed for sending Miss Clark a threatening letter calling her a "gutter moll" – which didn't prevent his lawyer from feeling able to describe him as being "of good character".

SHE certainly had her faults. She became increasingly autocratic, and misjudged the public mood when she championed a thoroughly discredited Winston Peters in the hope that NZ First could salvage victory for Labour.

But that was how she'd kept a stable government for nine years: by making unlikely allegiances, and by throwing flailing colleagues to the sharks (or, in the case of Mr Peters, allowing a shark to climb aboard and have a go behind the wheel).

Anyway, that era is over. And now, in Miss Clark's place, we have John Key. "I am just going to keep my happy, smiley self," he remarked a few days ago, which deepens my suspicion that we have elected Forrest Gump as our prime minister.

Irrespective of her opinions, Ms Boniface has broken the golden rule of journalism, and doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good opinion-piece. She confuses our electoral system with that of the US in her very first sentence, forgetting that New Zealand has a three-year electoral cycle. She refers to a "Southland farmer" when in fact the imprisoned agrarian was from Taranaki (and I suspect must now exercise as much caution as Jeremy Wells in visiting the deep south!), and reports that he was jailed for writing an abusive letter to the PM when in fact he went much further than that, causing major consternation at the Beehive. Sheesh, if expressing your thoughts about the PM was an imprisonable offence, there'd be a jail on every corner!

Here at Keeping Stock we don't agree with Ms Boniface's views on Labour's agenda on social engineering. And we find it a little partisan that in eulogising Helen Clark, Boniface has ignored the many "gates" that Helen Clark has passed through in the last nine years, some at breakneck speed! She ignores the fact that more Ministers have been fired by the Clark administration than any of its predecessors. And she ignores the fact that Helen Clark's last stand was to try and cling to power not on her record, but by smearing her opponent.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Paula Bennett's journey

Stuff caries an excellent and informative profile of new Social Development Minister Paula Bennett - and it's quite some journey she's undertaken! Tim Donoghue says:

Hers is a rags-to-riches solo-mum story based on self-responsibility and hard work while raising daughter Ana.

Bennett is a woman who grew up with a picture of 19th-century Maori King Tawhiao on the wall and she is hard to categorise. She says she grew up with a strong sense of self-responsibility and a sense a person is master of their own destiny.

Life threw a number of challenges Bennett's way from an early age. At the end of her school days at Taupo-nui-a-tia College she found herself an uneducated, unemployed, young solo mother with very few opportunities ahead of her.

Her strong sense of self-responsibility saw Bennett working the night shift at the Stag Park Truck Stop on State Highway 5 outside Taupo to support her young daughter.

The death in 1991 of older brother Mark in a freak oil rig diving accident in Indonesia was the catalyst that set Bennett on the road out of her subsistence poverty trap.

"He left me a little bit of money, enough to get me to Auckland. I managed to buy a car and some furniture. He had always believed I could do something else and Taupo would be the downfall of me. He told me I needed to move away from Taupo to change my life. I suppose him dying catapulted me to make some changes."

Auckland presented a new set of challenges.

She and Ana moved into a Massey flat. Her first job was washing dishes at a Massey rest-home.

"I think rest-home workers are one of the most undervalued workforces in the country," Bennett recalls.

In hindsight she found her rest-home worker colleagues were an inspiration. They encouraged her to seek an education and she enrolled at Massey University's Albany campus.

Bennett found actually going to university was her biggest fear.

"Lecturers would be spouting off on sociology, psychology, social work and this sort of stuff. One day I sat there and I realised I know all this, this is just fancy names relating to the life I've lived.

Just before graduating with a BA in 1997 the opening chapter in Bennett's political life materialised. She got a job as East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully's electorate secretary. As McCully's PA she was not just working with McCully, but with members of the wider National Party as well.

"I couldn't get over their absolute belief there is nothing you cannot do. These were people who had not had the sorts of barriers I had had as a teenage parent....You start feeding off that sort of stuff and very quickly anything becomes possible," Bennett said.

Bennett left McCully's office after a 30-month stint and headed into the private sector, where she worked initially as a recruitment consultant and then as a manager for a human solutions company.

After being shoulder-tapped by former National Party leader Don Brash she entered Parliament at 45th position on the National Party list in 2005.

On November 8 she rolled sitting Labour MP Lynne Pillay out of the Waitakere electorate.

Bennett's electorate victory was one of the highlights of Election Night. Doubtless, her weekly appearances with Darren Hughes on Breakfast as Parliament's "Young Guns" have done wonders for her profile, where she comes across as upfront, but personable and capable. John Key has spoken of her today in glowing terms, and she will need every ounce of her ability to get to grips with the Social Development portfolio. But her life experience as a teenaged mother gives her a unique qualification for her new job. Kia kaha Paula!

UPDATE: It hasn't taken long for the knockers to emerge - Clinton "Steve Pierson" Smith at The Standard calls Bennett "as thick as two short planks", and Neale "Tane" Jones says:

And the solo mum stuff? Give me a break. It’s like when your boss gives you that speech about how he started off on the factory floor, just before he tells you he’s not giving you a pay rise.

Pretty much what you would expect from the bitter and twisted left!
They obviously would have preferred for Bennett to stay in the welfare trap, not get out and better herself. Oh dear, they are in for a few shocks with John Key's apsirational government aren't they!!

The new Cabinet

John Key has announced his Cabinet line-up this afternoon, and as could be expected, there are winners and losers. Maurice Williamson will doubtless be gutted to be the highest-ranked Minister Outside Cabinet, and Lockwood Smith is likely to follow the tradition of incoming Speakers in having to be dragged to the Chair protesting loudly.

But on the winners' side, Steven Joyce is the bolter - not from his inclusion, but for his portfolio of Transport, not Infrastructure as expected. Paula Bennett makes a remarkable transition from social welfare beneficiary to Social Development Minister, and Jonathan Coleman will make an excellent Broadcasting Minister, as long as his cigar habit is discrete! And Pansy Wong has earned the honour of being New Zealand's first Asian in Cabinet.

The John Key government faces some huge challenges. Keeping Stock sincerely hopes that a few bruised egos won't hamper the performance of the new government and cabinet as they report for duty later in the week.

The Monday Quote - 17/11/2008

And the winner today is ... Phil Goff!! Labour leader for less than 24 hours, and already distancing himself from the Helen Clark Labour-led government with this gem:

"I don't think the way that the Electoral Finance Act was passed or necessarily its specific detail was as good as it could have been," he said.

"I think we do need to look at that again. I think we need to look at that in a way that involves all parties.

Phil Goff shows that 20:20 hindsight is indeed a wonderful gift, For the Phil Goff who called for a review of the Electoral Finance Act last Wednesday is that same Phil Goff who said this in the General Debate on 5 December last year:

If Mr Key and the National Party look a little angry at the moment and it has something to do with the Electoral Finance Bill, it is because that party and Mr Key got caught out at the last election by having been supported by narrow, sectoral religious groups and right-wing vested interests that did not have the guts to say publicly that they were supporting National.

Mr Key knew there was $1 million coming from the Exclusive Brethren. He appeared on television talking to them. He was told about it—he was emailed. Here is the email Ron Hickmott sent to Mr Key, headed “Urgent, important, and confidential”, the email that Mr Key said he never read. What did it say? It said that the Exclusive Brethren sought to launch a “very extensive election campaign” using $1 million “with the sole goal of getting party votes for National”. Mr Key knew about the Exclusive Brethren. He knew about the $1 million. He went on television and he denied that. That was untrue; that was dishonest. Why did the National Party get hundreds of thousands of dollars through trust funds? It got hundreds of thousands of dollars through trust funds because the wealthy vested interests that were buying privileges in the hope that National would get elected were not prepared to be transparent about the fact they were giving that money to the National Party. So if the National Party is angry, it is because it knows this bill restores democracy by stopping that sort of vote-buying tactic from narrow, unrepresentative religious groups and narrow, sectoral, right-wing business interests.

Ah yes; 11 months is a long time in politics!

The new Cabinet - preview!

John Key will be announcing National's new Cabinet this morning. I heard him with Susan Wood on Newstalk ZB earlier in the morning, and apart from pretty much confirming English, Power, Groser, McCully, Ryall and Tolley in Finance, Justice, Trade, Foreign Affairs, Health and Education respectively, he hinted at a few surprises in the lower reaches. So who could that be?

Keeping Stock is guessing that Paula Bennett will have earned a Cabinet role, Stephen Joyce is a given, and it wouldn't be any surprise to see Hekia Parata given a role. Chris Finlayson seems a near-certainty for Attorney-General, and of the class of 2005, there are likely to be other promotions - with our local hat on, we would love to see Chester Borrows rewarded with the Police portfolio, or at least an Associate position.

Stay tuned for details.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hon. Pita Sharples

Hon. Pita Sharples will become the new Minister of Maori Affairs under an agreement between National and the Maori Party. And co-leader Tariana Turia will become Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector. Both will also have have Associate Minister roles, Sharples in Education and Corrections, and Turia in Health and Social Development.

Keeping Stock is delighted with these appointments, even moreso with the Associate roles. These are areas where the Maori Party can offer real solutions for Maori. We offer our congratulations to the new Ministers - Kia kaha; kia toa; kia manawanui.

ETS on ice

Almost as welcome as the formation of the new government is the news that the implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme will placed on hold pending a Select Committee review into climate change. That is great news. Stuff says:

National will also support legislation on ACT's hardline "three-strikes" sentencing policy for violent offenders to the select committee stage and a complete review of climate change policy settings.

While the climate change review takes place, implementation of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) will be delayed. The current ban on non essential new fossil fuel-based electricity generation will also be scrapped.

Mr Key said National still backed an amended ETS and he expected one to be passed before the end of next year.

The ETS was rushed through its latter stages with indecent haste by the Helen Clark-led government, despite having had almost 1000 amendments proposed by the Select Committee which heard submissions. This was abuse of power at its worst, something of a characteristic of the Clark government. Labour showed that they had learned absolutely nothing from the Electoral Finance Act fiasco as they bulldozed through a law which would have a profound effect on every New Zealander. Fortunately, the electorate showed that it was a lot smarter than Clark gave it credit for, and punished the parties who put political expediency ahead of good policy - Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First.

John Key has had a remarkable first week at the helm - and today's announcement regarding the ETS is, in Keeping Stock's opinion, the icing on top of what looks to be a very tasty cake!

National-led government confirmed

Just a week after the electorate said goodbye to nine years of Helen Clark's government, John Key is starting the announcements confirming the formation of the new National-led government. He has started with Act, as Stuff reports:

Prime Minister elect John Key has announced the formation of a National-led centre-right government.

At a joint press conference with ACT leader Rodney Hide today, Mr Key announced he had formally signed up ACT's support.

He said the Maori Party and United Future had also agreed to back National, giving his government 70 votes on confidence and supply issues in the incoming 122-member Parliament.

Mr Key said he had phoned Governor-General Anand Satyanand this morning to formally tell him he had the numbers to form a government.

Mr Key's formal inking of the deals paves the way for him to announce his Cabinet tomorrow afternoon and for him and his ministers to be sworn in on Wednesday.

That will allow Mr Key to fly out on Thursday to the Apec summit in Peru as New Zealand's new Prime Minister.

Parliament will be recalled to sit on December 8 for two weeks.

This is great news, and very welcome. Unlike previous elections where it has taken an age for post-election negotiations to be concluded, John Key has acted quickly and decisively. Rodney Hide will be appointed Minister of Local Government, Minister for Regulatory Reform and associate Minister of Commerce and Heather Roy will be Minister of Consumer Affairs and associate Minister of Defence and Education.

The details of the agreement with Act are in a link on the Stuff article, and there's one biggie, deserving of its own thread! Meanwhile, John Key will hold joint media conferences with the Maori Party and with Peter Dunne this afternoon confirming their roles in the new government, so watch this space!

All Blacks vs Ireland

New Zealand 22; Ireland 3

And so the 103 year-old bogey remains for Ireland. Today, this was supposed to be THE DAY - the day when Ireland finally registered its first win against New Zealand. But t'be sure, that day will have to wait.

The Irish were good, but the AB's were better, and their defence never looked to be threatened as they scored three tries to none. It was tight, 3-all, until the turning point just before half-time when a grubber kick through by Ma'a Nonu was deliberately batted into touch in front of a diving Richie McCaw and a penalty try was awarded. The AB's picked up the pace in the second half, and Nonu and Brad Thorn added tries.

This was an excellent team performance, but there were some individual stars. Ali Williams and Brad Thorn were my pick of the forwards, and Nonu had his best match of the season. Mils Muliaina was rock-solid at the back and threatened on attack, and Dan Carter grew into the game after a rusty start.

But most of all, the AB's blunted Ireland's biggest weapon - the 80,000 Croke Park faithful. At the spiritual home of Irish sport, the home crowd - one of the most sporting crowds I've ever seen - had little to cheer about, but showed their appreciation for both sides.

So it's on the Wales next week, and Keeping Stock would like to see the same starting line-up, except for a change at halfback where Piri Weepu is a cut above Jimmy Cowan at the moment. And it's hard to see the 55-year Welsh losing streak being reversed - this is a very good All Black side.