Monday, May 31, 2010

Just a thought ...

Further to the story earlier in the day about the Hawkes Bay sheep rustlers, we had a thought.

Given that there's a long weekend coming up this weekend, you don't suppose that there's a BBQ or even a hangi being organised do you? At Stuart Nash's place, or Rick Barker's place? As we said, it's just a thought, but one that we can't get rid of ...

Imagine the smell!

This story on Stuff just caught our eye:

Fourteen sheep were found bound and crammed into a car stopped by police in the Hastings suburb of Flaxmere early today.

Police described the treatment of the sheep as "disgusting and an unnecessary act of cruelty".

Two men, 23 and 16, were arrested and are expected to appear in Hastings District Court today.

Sergeant Eden Sewell said police tried to stop a Mazda four-door saloon in Flaxmere about 3am.

A short pursuit took place and occupants ran from the car when it stopped in a local park.

"Police recovered 14 sheep from the boot and interior," Mr Sewell said.

All had been bound with ropes and crammed into the wheel well and the foot wells of the back seat.

"The sheep were all stolen from local farms and were very distressed. Animal control attended and removed the sheep, two of which have died as a result of the treatment," he said.

Now leaving aside the obvious matter of animal cruelty (and this is a bad case of animal cruelty), we can only speculate that the "Mazda four-door saloon" was stolen. After all, you wouldn't do that in your own car would you? Sheesh, imagine the mess that 14 distressed sheep would make, and the damage and smell that would be left. Eeeechh!

Bethune to testify

Pete the Pirate Bethune takes the witness stand today. He and his lawyers stated before the trial that he was going to be "humble" throughout the Court process, as that would go in his favour with the judges.

We can't help but wonder how humble Pete Bethune is going to manage to be today when he is apparently going to tell the Court it cannot find him guilty because Japan was whaling illegally. It's a novel defence being run by the Sea Shepherd-appointed lawyers for Pete the Pirate; then again, they will be free to leave Japan at the end of the trial, whilst Bethune goes back to prison.

And for all his bravado about stopping whaling, ramming Japanese ships and keeping a tally of the vessels he has scuppered, we wonder why Sea Shepherd's main man Paul Watson hasn't shown up to support his man. Sure, Japan has issued an arrest warrant against Watson, but wouldn't that set up a REAL show trial if Watson and Sea Shepherd want to turn public opinion against the Japanese? We wonder whether Pete the Pirate Bethune wonders about that at night too.

Cruden's fairytale

We blogged in June last year about Aaron Cruden, when he captained the New Zealand U-20 team to a second successive IRB World Junior title. Cruden was also named the IRB's Junior Player of the Year. It was a remarkable effort by the youngster; only nine months earlier, he had been struck down by testicular cancer.

Yesterday, Cruden's rugby career took another step forward when he was named in the first All Black squad of the season. We reckon that the selectors are definitely taking a punt on Cruden; he had a pretty average Super 14. But we also reckon that it's a punt worth taking.

Cruden oozes talent, and once he finds his feet at the top level, we reckon we will see that. He has speed to burn, and an eye for a gap. He's a solid defender on the inside channel. He's got great hands, and the ability to slip a pass even in the tackle. Our biggest concern is his size; at 80kg, he's small for top level rugby.

Most of all, he has guts. That was demonstrated in 2008 when he played for Manawatu in a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Auckland AFTER having been diagnosed with cancer, and before he told his team-mates. If New Zealand is going to have any chance of winning the Rugby World Cup next season, Henry and Co are going to need a whole squad of players who won't quit, no matter what. That in itself is a good reason for the inclusion of a player like Aaron Cruden in the All Blacks for the early phase of the 2010 international season.

Strange logic

We can't quite get our heads around this strange piece of logic by Katie Chapman in this morning's Dominion-Post:

Parents of children in early childhood education will be out of pocket despite Prime Minister John Key's assurance that no-one will be "worse off" after receiving tax cuts.

Apart from having been announced in the same budget, the changes to ECE staffing ratios have nothing to do with tax cuts, in our humble opinion. Of course Ms Chapman might just be relying on information received from the NZEI and from Labour's ECE spokeperson (both of whom are quoted later in the piece), in which case the source of her conclusion would make more sense.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Helping a fellow blogger

If you have a moment to spare this eveing, we'd REALLY love you to read this post from Cactus Kate. It's an outstanding insight into a very sad situation - check this out:

HoS appears to have been reading the sad plight of my mate and the mate of many bloggers, Whaleoil aka Cameron Slater.

Today is probably the most truthful article yet on Whaleoil because it was written with cut and pasted words from his wife and best mate aka Spanish Bride from his blog.

I've only known Cameron for a few years and all the time I have known him has been under the mantra of Whaleoil. Unlike SB, I have not known him as Cameron, before his spiral into depression.

I don't know all the background of his fight with Fidelity and what led up to his depressive state, because I wasn't there. SB was. She remarks that he was a different man before the events leading to his illness. I believe that now totally.

We've had a few conversations with Cam lately, and with some of his mates. All is far from well with him. Fidelity Life's unilateral decision to cut off his income protection payments has imposed enormous stress on Cam and his family - Cactus notes:

Insurance companies are not paid to care. I feel however they are paid to follow contracts and assist their clients back into the workforce so they are not made to rely on payouts. There's no doubt in my mind that Cameron Slater as Whaleoil is one of the most clinically depressed people I have ever met. While the original event leading to this depression may have been minor in the scheme of things Fidelity and the medical professionals who treated him from that point in time have failed miserably and created Whaleoil as we all read him today on his blog.

We know a bit about depression - from bitter personal experience. We've been in that endless, dark tunnel. We've even at one point considered ending it all. It's not a place we ever want to go back to, and God willing, we won't.

WhaleOil doesn't have that luxury. He has been treated appallingly by his insurer. He wants his day in Court to seek recompense, but that is far from assured. In the meantime, his life, and the lives of his wife and children are in limbo.

Cactus Kate tells this story far better than we ever could, and we commend her blog-piece to you. WhaleOil may not be everyone's cup of tea, and he's written some pretty strong stuff of late. Cactus' post gives an insight into that.

In the meantime, we send our thoughts and our prayers to the Slaters; it's all we can offer at the moment, but we believe from experience that prayer works. In particular we acknowledge Spanish Bride who has supported her husband way, way beyond expectation.

And should anyone from Fidelty Life read this, we have a plea for them; sort this mess out, suck it up, and show some of the qualities your website refers to - especially the bit that says "Keeping families strong". It's not too late for you to do the right thing.


Did anyone think that the All Whites didn't deserve to be at the FIFA World Cup finals in a couple of weeks? Surely those doubts have been dispelled with the 1-nil victory over world #15 team Serbia this morning.

That is an absolutely first-class result against a quality team. Stuff reports:

Any chance the All Whites had of flying under the radar heading into the World Cup has been blown out of the water with one their greatest wins on the international stage.

A first-half strike from Shane Smeltz has inspired the All Whites, ranked 78th in the world, to a 1-0 upset victory over world number 15 Serbia in a friendly at the Worthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria, this morning.

Serbia, touted as dark horses for the World Cup and a team All Whites coach Ricki Herbert believed would test his side more than any of the three teams they will face in South Africa, fielded no less than six English Premier League players while the rest of their squad was made of up players who ply their trade in the top leagues in Spain, Italy and Germany.

But New Zealand looked every bit their equal as their stocks continue to rise on the international stage with what really was a stunning upset, and one which will make headlines around the world.

Just four years ago, New Zealand scored their first ever win on European soil, a 3-1 victory over Georgia, who were ranked about 100 in the world. Herbert hailed that result as one of his proudest moments, but it will pale in comparison to this.

Now, we are still watching the match thanks to the wonders of MySky, but made the mistake of refreshing Stuff a few minutes ago. So even though it's 7.15am, we'll time-delay this post a bit just in case you haven't heard the result or seen the match. This is however a huge fillip to Ricki Herbert's team as they build towards Australia.

Sheesh, we're starting to get just a little bit excited ...

UPDATE: We've just seen the goal, and what a cracking goal it was by Shane Smeltz! And after all the talk, it was great to see Winston Reid and Tommy Smith get a start; both will be well satisfied with their performances. Well done the All Whites (in all black!).

You've convinced us

Right; we've decided we WILL enter the Air New Zealand Best Blog Awards, so thanks to everyone who made encouraging noises yesterday.

We're going to prevail on your generosity just a bit more if we may. We posted 1082 blog-posts last year, and that was with four "barren" months whilst we were retired. Somehow, we need to whittle that down to four! Can you help?

We spent a bit of time yesterday trawling through the archives, and it produced a fair few cringes; some of what we posted last year was NOT flash! But out of it all, we've made a short-list of 15 posts. Some are political, some are comment on news issues, a couple are sport-related, and three have a faith element. The final one is our valedictory, premature though it was.

These are all posts which have some meaning for us, and at the end of the day, that's the raison d'etre for blogging. If any of these posts resonate with any of you for any reason, we'd love to hear about it. We'll make a final decision some time on Monday. We realise that we're being a bit indulgent here, but what the heck; it's been good to go back and re-live a few things.

So, in no particular order, here goes:

As we said above, this is a representative selection, but we hope that there might be something there to take your fancy - or which may have taken your fancy last year. We've avoided posts with lengthy cut-and-paste sections, and tried to focus on posts which are primarily our own work.

Have an enjoyable read!

Scraping the (pork) barrel

Over at No Minister, Adolf has found a very interesting story about Mike King and his agent. He must have dug deep, because it's well buried on the Herald's website. It shouldn't be; in our ever-humble opinion it ought to be top billing - read on:

Comedian Mike King's agent wanted a $50,000 severance payment from New Zealand Pork to stop his client going "feral", documents say.

Papers released to the Herald on Sunday under the Official Information Act claim celebrity agent David Steele asked for the payment to stop King "going dog" and speaking out against the pork industry.

The claim was allegedly made in a conversation between Steele and NZ Pork marketing manager Hadleigh Smith in February last year.

Three months later King sensationally fronted a documentary exposing cruel pig farming practices.

The papers also revealed King received almost $550,000 during a six-year commercial relationship with the industry board.

Smith said: "I remember the conversation quite clearly - some severance pay would be a good way to stop Mike going 'dog', help prevent him from going 'feral'. $50,000 was a good number, he indicated."

Steele's request is also noted in records from a NZ Pork committee meeting in February.

Yesterday Steele described that version of events as "an absolute crock of s***." He did not categorically deny using the words "dog" or "feral" in conversations with NZ Pork.

We remember that it seemed really strange at the time that Mike King had so savagely bitten the hand that had fed him for many years. Perhaps those lingering thoughts of a hidden agenda were not that far off the mark.

The pig farm sting was run by SAFE, in collaboration with TVNZ's Sunday programme. To say that we have little if any regard for SAFE is an understatement. This story had "dodgy" written all over it at the time. Today's revelations suggest that assessment was dead right.

The TVNZ Sunday story was made with public money. We reckon there needs to be an immediate investigation into all the goings-on behind the scenes. It's time that SAFE, Mike King and TVNZ told the full story.

Hat-tip: No Minister

Woodham on Three Strikes

Kerry Woodham has written an interesting piece this morning on the Three Strikes legislation which was passed this week. We reckon she's pretty much bang on the money with her conclusion:

After years of doing talkback, I get the sense that a lot of people have had a gutsful of violent crims. There's a sense that the courts are treating offenders lightly and criminals are roaming the streets, in an anarchic fashion, without fear of consequences.

Law-abiding members of the community have felt frustrated and powerless for some time but with the passing of the bill, there's a feeling that the something in the phrase "something needs to be done" is actually happening.

The three strikes law may be costly and limited in its ability to reduce crime and if so, in time it will be amended.

In the meantime, let's see this bill for what it is.

A chance to throw away the key on some seriously bad buggers and a morale booster for the good guys.

Christian Music Sunday - 30/5/2010

The Parachute Music organisation has been hugely influential in growing the New Zealand Christian music scene. As well as giving artists the opportunity to record, Parachute Music pioneered the Parachute Festival, which has become the largest Christian music festival outside the USA. Parachute Festival has now found a home at Mystery Creek near Hamilton, and draws over 25,000 people each year.

And it was from the Parachute Festival that Parachute Band came to be. The band originally came together as a "house band" to lead worship sessions at the festival. God had bigger plans though, and the Parachute Band took on a life of its own. Formed around Wanganui musicians Wayne and Libby Huirua, Parachute Band quickly established a big following locally and overseas. As well as writing prolifically themselves, the band provided an outlet for local songwriters, and many of their songs were written in collaboration with people from outside the band.

Wayne and Libby stepped down around three years ago; the touring lifestyle had become too much for them, and incompatible with family life. A new and younger group took over the mantle, and the band's focus has shifted more towards the youth end of the spectrum. That's a shame in our opinion. The "original" Parachute Band really had an impact on the style of worship in churches, not only here but throughout the world.

So, as we wrap up the month of May, New Zealand Music Month, enjoy this track from the 2001 album Amazing

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tim Brown screwed

Stuff carries the story today of All Whites midfielder Tim Brown, who is in a race against time tio make the World Cup - read on:

Tim Brown's World Cup fate hinges on a June 10 "moment of honesty".

In an Auckland press conference this morning Brown revealed he'll self-assess the condition of his fractured right shoulder two days before the Cup kicks-off.

Whether he flies to South Africa will be a joint decision made with doctors.

D-Day, Brown predicts, is June 10 and the All Whites vice-captain admits a huge test of personal honesty waits round the corner.

Brown says he must make the right decision by his team mates and the white shirt.

"I think on June 10th they're going to make a decision. Until then, I don't know, I'm just going to work as hard as I can on rehab," said Brown from a Remuera surgery.

"It'll be a combination of both [Brown's and doctors' evaluations], it's going to be a moment of real honesty from me, giving my best advice and making the best decision. We'll have a chat about it.

"The one thing from my point of view is when I make that decision I'll make the right one. And that's not going to be one for me, it's one for the team.

Tim Brown's attitude typifies, in our always-humble opinion, everything that is good about sport, and everything that is good about the All Whites. He downplays his importance to Ricki Herbert's team, but we're not going to; Tim Brown is crucial to the World Cup campaign. He is a leader. He's not the most naturally-gifted player in the world, but he gives 100% every time he plays.

He also has a knack of scoring goals, as he proved in the A-League this season, being the Phoenix's second-most prolific goalscorer. What a great story it would be if Tim Brown could indeed get a clearance to play in South Africa, and get his name on the scoresheet.

When Tim Brown, screwed-up shoulder and all makes his decision on June 10th, we have no doubt whatsoever that it will be the right one for his team. We wish him a speedy recovery and rehab, and hope that he can make it back to football's greatest stage. He deserves nothing less.

Should we enter?

Those who frequent the blogosphere will be aware that there is a competition pending. There was some pretty trenchant criticism of the Best Blog category at the Qantas Media Awards, so the New Zealand Bloggers Union has set up its own awards - the Air New Zealand Best Blog Award.

Now we're feeling a bit conflicted. Those of you who choose to grace us with your presence (all four of you) will know that me, myself and I are shy, retiring types who don't seek the spotlight ... ok, we'll cut the fibs; we DO have a collective ego. So tell us; should we enter?

To complicate matters, we didn't do a full year last year, pulling the plug for an extended period from late August. But is two-thirds of something more meritorious than 100% of nothing? We're not sure.

So we're seeking the wise counsel of our readership; whaddya reckon - do we have a go at this thing? If you have a blog, are you entering? All opinions are valued, even those of the Anonymous commenter who has been visiting of late! We can't be more democratic than that.

Deja vu all over again

Let's be frank here; Tracy Watkins has never been a cheerleader for the John Key-led government. So when she accuses Labour of failing to learn from the past, our interest was piqued - she writes:

There is more than a whiff of the H-bomb debacle about Labour's pursuit of John Key over his blind trust. That must be particularly galling for the new generation on Labour's backbench.

The burning question is why anyone in their right mind would want to revive memories of a Labour Party that spent its dying days in office trawling through Australian court records for non-existent dirt on Mr Key. The equally troubling question for the rookies must be why Labour's old hands are intent on repeating the same mistakes.

To be fair, it may take a few days before the dust truly settles on the question of whether there is, in fact, a smoking gun. For now, in the absence of one, Labour has prepared what it believes to be the next best thing – a timeline.

We won't cut and paste details of the timeline; if you want to read Watkins' take on it, there's a link above for you to follow. But she also provides an interesting refresher on the H-Fee slurs from just prior to the 2008 election, AND Labour's concerted attempts to get the media to buy into slurs against Key from as far back as 2005, when his star was beginning its ascent.

Labour is desperate to dent Key's reputation, and it seems that the party will stop at nothing to try and do that. Party hacks have beaten this story up for all it's worth over at Red Alert. But apart from TV3 (to whom the scoop was doubtless given), the MSM has been slow to rise to the bait. Maybe too many media organisations have been down this road before with the Labour Party.

Watkins is definitely sceptical about the whole business, as she alludes to in her close. She also has some pointed comments directed at Labour's leadership:

Why so determined to drag him down? It is not personal. Labour just want to chip away at the fairytale. Mr Key's rags-to-riches tale of a state-house boy made good is a huge political asset. Understandably, Labour sees a huge upside in denting that and its goal is to taint the fairytale with the usual big money associations. But it hasn't done that so far with these latest allegations. Nor with the prevous attempts – which, in the case of the H bomb, came at a heavy cost. And the wounds from that had only recently healed.

So if Phil Goff's leadership was supposed to turn a new chapter, why on earth reopen them – and, in the process, risk reminding voters that the old hands they voted out are still in charge?

Indeed; as our title-line says, it's deja-vu all over again from Labour. And it all seems destined to end in tears for the Red Team. When, oh when will they ever learn?

Friday, May 28, 2010

The question which has to be asked ..

Stuff carries
the story of Julia Gnuse, officially the world's most tattooed woman - read on:

Gnuse, who has more than 95 percent of her body inked, has been officially recognised by the Guinness World Records as the most tattooed woman in the world.

Gnuse was born with a condition called porphyria, in which sunlight causes skin blisters.

She first started being tattooed as a way of covering up her scars.

It begs the question of course; where is the 5% of her body that isn't inked? Any takers? And does skin art like this do it for you?

Minto's criminal conspiracy

We wonder how long it will be before our old friend John Minto gets a knock on the door from the local Constable.

Why? Because we've heard a story on Newstalk ZB that he, as a representative of Global Peace and Justice , is recruiting people to wilfully and criminally damage poker machines in and around Auckland. And this story from the Herald of a couple of weeks ago backs up the radio story, for which we can't find a link just at the moment:

Long-time political activist John Minto's name is linked with recruiting 200 people to an anti-gambling-machine campaign called "Hammer the Pokies".

The Aucklander has been leaked a document outlining a plan to gather concerned citizens to "drive pokie machines out of our neighbourhood communities".

"Pokies are a cancer on society and are destroying low-income families. We ask people to get themselves a hammer and register it for a civil disobedience activity," says the pamphlet.

The document - illustrated by a poker machine with a smashed screen - cites the contact points for the campaign as Mr Minto's email address, the action group he belongs to, as well as his name and home phone number.

Standing outside a sports venue and heckling an Israeli tennis player is one thing. Recruiting like-minded "activists" and encouraging criminal behaviour is another thing altogether. We agree with Minto that poker machines have a social cost, but like alcohol, they are legal, and they are regulated. Smashing poker machines will not make the issue of problem gambling go away.

What Minto is advocating is far from a "civil disobedience activity"; it is the criminal destruction of private property. John Minto might be happy with the publicity his lunacy brings, but in our humble opinion there ought to be criminal consequences as well.

This Sporting Life - 28/5/2010

Goodness; it's almost winter. In fact as we type this, Metservice advises that it is 7* here in the Riviera of the WCNI, with wind-chill making it feel more like 4*.

It's ironic then that a supposedly winter sport wraps up a major competition before winter oficially begins. Such is the nature of professional sport, we suppose. Anyway, the two best teams in the Super 14 will meet in the final in Soweto - mawm - you have it in writing!

At the same time, the All Whites will be playing Serbia in Austria on their way to South Africa. As Tim Brown recovers from shoulder surgery, we can only hope that there will be no new injuries to trouble Ricki Herbert in the build-up to South Africa.

So anyway, it's the usual free-for-all today, and after a couple of Fridays on the road, we're in the office today to participate in the debate. Here's a couple of things that you COULD express an opinion on, although that is entirely your choice - is the rugby team from the Village of the Damned a hot-bed of racism, and should the NZRU be courting Sonny-Bill Williams?

The floor is yours ...

The Newmarket Hilton

On our couple of recent visits to Auckland, we've noticed progress on the replacement for Mt Eden Prison - the Newmarket Hilton. It's certainly much more noticeable that its predecessor, the ancient stone-walled gaol.

John Banks has led a crusade against the scale of the construction over the last couple of days with typical Banksie fervour, and good on him; there's an election looming. But we think that his trenchant criticism is a little over the top.

The Auckland skyline is dominated by faceless apartment buildings with little character. The only discernable difference that we could notice with the Newmarket Hilton is that, thus far, the apartments don't have balconies. It IS the Corrections Department doing the building though, so nothing can be ruled out!

But we're in danger of straying from our point here. John Banks has twice been mayor of Auckland, and we have little doubt that many of Auckland's dreadful apartment buildings were planned and approved during his first term in charge of the city. There seems to be just a trace of NIMBYism in the air.

Make no mistake; we want John Banks to be the first mayor of the Auckland Supercity. So we are respectfully suggesting to him that if he's going to get outraged about this, he should reserve his outrage for those whose criminal activities have required the construction of the Newmarket Hilton.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Did Annette REALLY say that?

We were half-pie listening to the Budget debate on the radio in our office yesterday as the rain poured down and the thunder rattled the roof above us. And we thought we heard Annette King say something right out of left field. We asked ourselves "Did she REALLY just say what we thought she did?"; so today we went looking.

In The House is a terrific resource for those of us who are sufficiently tragic to closely follow politics and Parliament. Every word uttered in the Debating Chamber is recorded for posterity. That alone should ensure that MP's choose their words carefully, because it's a treasure trove for those of us who are even more tragic as to blog about politics!

But we're digressing here. We went back to Annette King's speech, which features below. After describing John Key as having a smile "reminiscent of a rat with a gold tooth", she came up with this doozy, starting around the 1:15 mark (with our emphasis added):

New Zealanders are sick of the poltical sideshows from this government; Rodney Hide and his latest travel itinerary, flags on bridges, toy-tossing by Tariana or bottom-pinching by Richard Worth.

What??! The Budget Debate is traditionally a pretty robust affair, but that's a pretty strong thing to say about a former MP and Minister who is no longer there to defend his honour.

And we have to ask this question; how does Annette King know that Richard Worth pinches bottoms? Did Neelam Choudary tell her? Does she have personal experience of the allegation she is making? Or was it simply a full moon?

Two trips to Wellington

It looks as though we'll be making at least two trips to Wellington during the month of July. We were already planning to go to the Tri-Nations match against the Springboks on July 17th. But what we've read in the Dom-Post today has us already planning another visit - read on:

Wellington Phoenix believe they have pulled off a major coup by luring one of South America's top club sides, Boca Juniors, to Westpac Stadium for a pre-season match in July.

The Phoenix will play their only pre-season match in Wellington against the Argentinian giants on Friday, July 23.

It will be only the second time they have hosted a big overseas club after the success of the visit by David Beckham's Los Angeles Galaxy in December 2007.

That match was something of a risk for the Phoenix, but a near sellout ensured owner Terry Serepisos recouped the $2 million in costs and made a little bit extra.

But with promoters MP and Silva, a Singapore-based international sports media company, underwriting the Boca Juniors match, this is more of a safe bet for the Phoenix than the Galaxy's visit.

The club will receive an undisclosed match fee – believed to be about $100,000 – plus a share of any profits, ensuring a win-win scenario.

"I can't say what the match fee is but it's a good earner for the club," Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said last night, confirming details of the match to The Dominion Post.

"We will basically run the event for them, with marketing and booking the stadium, but they are underwriting the whole thing.

That's fantastic news for the Phoenix, and for New Zealand football in general. The World Cup will be done and dusted, and both clubs will be building towards their respective club season. Boca Juniors are a top-notch outfit, and the match in Wellington is part of a world tour which ends with a match against Liverpool at Anfield.

Now, if DPF is off on one of his regular trips to Great Barrier Island one or both weekends, we might even be able to sub-lease an apartment in Thorndon ...

DB has a sense of humour - yeah right

Right at the outset, we'll declare a conflict of interest here; we are both Christian, and sometimes Tui drinkers. But we'll try our best to be objective!

We've just watched the piece on Breakfast about Tui heavying a Tauranga church to take down Tui-like billboards. We felt a bit sorry for the brewery bloke, but only a bit. Tui has taken the piss (pardon the pun) out of all and sundry since 1994, and their billboards have become truly iconic. But calling in the lawyers to take out the little guys (who represent the Big Guy); that's hardly the Kiwi way.

Tui openly promotes itself as a "blokey" beer with the billboards, brilliant TV advertisements, the Tui National Park at Mangatainoka and the Tui girls. DB has positioned Tui as the "fun" beer brand. Now we find that's just a myth.

DB should be delighted that Bethlehem Community Church has imitated its Tui billboards for eight years or so. To passing traffic, the church has effectively promoted the Tui brand; first glance suggests that the billboards are the real McCoy. Sure, the church is being a bit cheeky "borrowing" the Tui concept, but the BCC people have obviously found something that works in their community.

It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Far from being flattered however, the wallahs at DB Breweries are being awfully precious in our humble opinion. Their heavy-handed action has done far more to tarnish Tui's image than Bethlehem Community Church has.

Pete Bethune - criminal

It's official. Stuff reports that Pete Bethune will plead guilty to four of the charges against him when he appears in Court later today - check this out:

New Zealand anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune will plead guilty to four of the five charges laid against him when he goes on trial in Tokyo District Court today, his lawyer confirmed last night.

Bethune, 45, in Auckland, will admit trespass, possession of a weapon, damage to property and obstructing commercial activity, but deny the most serious charge of assault, his lawyer Dan Harris said, confirming comments in New Zealand by Bethune's wife, Sharyn.

Good. That means that we no longer have to call him Pete the (alleged) Pirate; he's 'fessing up to everything except the assault, which will go to trial today. He is admitting that he is a criminal.

But we had to laugh when we read this bit (our emphasis added):

"Essentially on some of the claims, there is no point in fighting them," Harris told Agence France Presse, after visiting Bethune in detention.

"I mean, he went on the vessel. Technically it's trespass," he said, adding that his client had also been carrying a knife with a blade slightly longer than is permitted under Japanese law.

Harris has criticised the Japanese authorities for trying to stage "a political show trial".

What??!! If anyone is staging a "political show trial", it is Pete the Pirate Bethune. He knowingly and illegally boarded a foreign-flagged vessel in international waters armed with a knife. He was rightly arrested, as he knew that he would be. He must now face the consequences of his actions.

If you think we have little to no sympathy for Pete Bethune, you'd be dead right. He's made his bed; now he has to lie in it. Sea Shepherd has, it seems, left him to his own devices; his value to them is now about as much as that of the Ady Gil.

We now wait for the Japanese legal system to take its course.

"Show me the money"

Natasha Fuller is back in the news again. After denying that she wanted any money from Paula Bennett, she's asking for $15,000 - the Herald reports:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has attacked the integrity of a solo mother who is asking for $15,000 to settle a privacy complaint against the minister, after previously denying she wanted any money.

Natasha Fuller laid the complaint last year after her welfare details were made public by the minister, following Ms Fuller's criticism of Government cuts to the Training Incentive Allowance.

Ms Bennett yesterday said she received a letter from Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff's office last week, which had a request from Ms Fuller for $15,000 "to acknowledge her hurt and humiliation" and an apology for a breach of privacy.

She said she had no intention of paying and was surprised at the request, given that Ms Fuller had earlier said she would not seek money as a settlement.

You have to wonder about some people. After all the talk a few weeks ago that all Ms Fuller wanted was an acknowledgment and an apology, we now learn that she wants the loot after all. And let's not forget; this was a woman rolled out by the Labour Party to criticise the Government, in particular Paula Bennett. Most recently, Charles Chauvel has been driving the issue, which, as Bennet notes, is more about politics than privacy:

Ms Bennett yesterday attacked Ms Fuller's integrity and accused her of being motivated by politics.

"Her integrity is obviously in question. She says one thing in one breath and then the next day seeks media attention, and then goes online and lies so it becomes very hard to believe anything she says.

"This used to be about privacy, I think it's now about politics ... driven by a Labour MP as her spokesman."

Mr Chauvel said he helped Ms Fuller draft the complaint and the letter sent a few weeks ago, but had since recommended another lawyer.

When asked how the issue could be resolved, Ms Bennett said: "I think it has been resolved. She has been trying to hold me responsible for what I think are political motivations and I'm not buying into it."

Indeed. Going right back to when John Key first named his Cabinet, Labour singled Paula Bennett out for special attention. To date, they've barely laid a glove on her, if you'll pardon the boxing analogy. If Labour is serious about discrediting Paula Bennett, it needs to find more credible examples than the attention-seeking Natasha Fuller.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

State of O!

It's Origin time again; game one in this year's series kicks off later tonight. Will this be the year where the NSW Blues turn it around, or will Queensland win a fifth straight Origin series? Who knows!

More to the point; will there be any biffo? In all probability, there won't be; the game has become far too sanitised these days, and an outbreak of good, old-fashioned scrapping (not that we'd advocate such a thing!) is highly unlikely.

That's a shame, because the State of Origin series became a thing of legend almost immediately largely BECAUSE of the biffo and the boofheads dishing it out. And speaking of boofheads, has there been a bigger one in Origin history than Mark Geyer? We doubt it.

So, to get you in the mood for tonight's fare, here's Geyer in his most infamous Origin match from 1991 ...

Enjoy the match tonight, and we'll post an observation or two in the morning. And go the Blues!

Grassroots opposition

This morning's Dominion-Post zooms in on opposition from within the National Party to the Emissions Trading Scheme - read on:

National's grassroots supporters are joining a chorus of opposition as price rises caused by the Emissions Trading Scheme begin to kick in.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed there was an ETS protest vote at a party conference last weekend. "There certainly was a remit and they certainly did vote against wanting the ETS, they did vote to delay it."

Agriculture Minister David Carter has sought to stem caucus concerns by emailing MPs to assure them that claims by ACT about the ETS were just "misinformation".

As much as we support the general policy direction of the John Key-led government, we really struggle with the attitude towards the ETS. In our opinion, John Key and his key ministers are starting to display some of the arrogance which typified the previous administration, and which we so loathed. That is truly disappointing.

It seems inevitable now that the ETS will be inflicted on us with effect from 1 July 2010, and price rises are already being signalled. It's only in the months that follow that we will be able to determine whether ETS-related proce rises will negate the positive effects of the budget tax cuts.

Whilst we have generally voted National through the years, that vote cannot be taken for granted. Were we to choose to vote against the government on the basis of the ETS, the only real alternative would be to vote for Act, and we don't know that we want to go down that path. Voting for Labour is not an option; its ETS, rushed through under urgency before the 2008 election was far more punitive than National's watered-down version.

We suspect that we are not the only voters facing such a dilemma. We just wish that John Key, Nick Smith et al would take their fingers out of their ears, and listen to what people are saying to them; the very people who put them on the Treasury Benches. Is that too much to ask?

Three strikes

We listened with interest yesterday afternoon as Parliament debated the "Three Strikes" legislation. Both the National and Act parties promised action on violent crime during the 2008 election campaign, and yesterday's Third Reading of the Sentencing and Parole Bill is the outcome.

Whilst the final legislation is a hybrid of the two parties' ideas, the intent is clear; if you do the crime, be prepared to do the time. We are in complete accord with the intent of the new legislation.

Having been victims of crime twice in recent months (both offences committed by the same group of youngsters who are untouchable by the Police), we're possibly not the most objective commentators on crime matters. We reckon we've seen one young offender who is a likely candidate to be a three strikes recipient somewhere down the track; cruelty to animals is recognised as a precursor to violence later in life.

Back to Three Strikes; there's one aspect which particluarly pleases us. There's a provision whereby particularly nasty crimes can get the punishment they deserve - the Dom-Post reports:

The worst murderers can now be locked up for life with no parole even if they have no previous convictions under a little-known provision of the three strikes law.

Under the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act, passed last night, judges can order that murderers who have no history of violence never be freed if their crime is so heinous they should stay in jail for ever.

This will put them on the same footing as killers on their second or third chances after a series of violent offences under the new three strikes law.

The provision for first-time offenders is aimed at killers like Clayton Weatherston, whose 2008 murder of former girlfriend Sophie Elliott shocked the country.

Weatherston, who had no previous convictions, attacked the 22-year-old in her home, stabbing her 216 times and mutilating her body with a pair of scissors. He was sentenced to life with a minimum non-parole period of 18-years.

Doubtless the civil libertarians will howl with outrage at this provision. We don't. If there is anyone who is a poster-boy for this part of the Sentencing and Parole Act, it is Clayton Weatherston.

We commend Act for championing victims. We commend National for taking a get-tough approach to crime. If the price of making our streets safer and keeping them that way is more prisons, so be it. Surely, keeping its citizens safe is a fundamental responsibility of government.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ask a silly question ...

You'd think that having been in Parliament since 1981 (bar the period between the 1990 and 1993 elections) Phil Goff would know what questions to ask, what questions not to ask and when to stop digging. Apparently not. He asked one Supplementary Question too many in Question 1 this afternoon (our emphasis added):

Hon Phil Goff: In assessing which assets the Prime Minister, and the National Government, might put up for sale, has he considered past experience with privatisation, when a private sector board ran Air New Zealand into bankruptcy and private owners asset-stripped KiwiRail and ran it into the ground?

Hon JOHN KEY: The Leader of the Opposition has a fair point. If one is going to consider these matters, one should definitely seek someone who has had experience. Maybe, just maybe, the Minister of Finance and I should go and have a chat with the Leader of the Opposition, because that is the man who sold Telecom, the State Insurance Office, the Post Office Bank, Air New Zealand, the Tourist Hotel Corporation, New Zealand Steel, Petrocorp, the Government Printing Office, the DFC, the National Film Unit, the Rural Banking and Finance Corporation, the Shipping Corporation, New Zealand Liquid Fuel Investment, Maui Gas, SynFuels, forest cutting rights, Health Computing Services and Communicate New Zealand. If there is ever a man who knows something about privatisation, it is that one.

Oh dear! We starting to wonder if Phil Goff has been taking lessons in the art of scoring from the Shadow Minister of Own Goals himself! If so, Chris Carter is a far better teacher than we gave him credit for!!

Interesting ...

We'd be telling fibs if we didn't admit that we check our blog statstics from time to time. So when we noticed a rush of visitors this morning, we looked to see why.

Of the last 30 visitors, 24 came to Keeping Stock via Google searches. And almost without exception, the search criteria were along the lines of "high profile public servant name". To those readers; we're sorry that you didn't find the name you were looking for here. Although we support WhaleOil's campaign against name suppression, we have no wish to breach the law ourselves.

However, this is a tangible display of the power of the internet; the MSM can no longer claim to be the sole purveyors of whatever they determine to be the news of the day.

Name him!

So; the High-Profile Public Servant has been acquitted, and given permanent name AND occupation suppression. That seems completely and utterly futile, given that the High-Profile Public Servant was outed by two daily newpapers (the Dominion-Post and the Otago Daily Times) over a year ago. Interestingly though, the Dominion-Post link has been pulled since a certain blogger referred to it less than a week ago.

Now we have very little interest in case of the High-Profile Public Servant, except to say that this is a terrible look for the concept of a transparent and open justice system. So when we say "Name him!", it's not the High-Profile Public Servant to whom we are referring.

Newstalk ZB is currently running this story:

A high profile public servant who was found not guilty of assaulting a teenager is furious his name has been released on the internet.

The man was granted permanent name and occupation suppression when the verdict was returned yesterday in the Wellington District Court however his name has already appeared on a website. Details about the case are also suppressed.

The man's lawyer, Mike Antunovic, says procedures are in place to protect the rule of law and orders of the court and he would be surprised if they were not put into effect immediately.

"The courts have to be trusted to make the correct decisions and when they make a decision, it must be respected. If some renegade wants to go off and think that he knows better than anyone else, then he'll have to face the consequences."

Mr Antunovic says it is now up to the judge whether the person responsible will be brought before the courts. He expects that the breach will be investigated.

Here's our point. Everyone knows that Cameron Slater (aka WhaleOil) has named the HIgh-Profile Public Servant on his Gotcha blog. So why is Newstalk ZB beating around the bush and refusing to name the Whale. Could there be an agenda at play here?

We reckon that there is. Cam Slater (and others in the "new media") has beaten the MSM to the draw; not just with this story, but with others as well. He is effectively undermining them. This is the MSM's response; to be all coy and furtive, but not to give him any credit, and the readership boost that accompanies the credit.

We don't agree with everything that WhaleOil says on his blog. But we admire him for being prepared to make a stand on an issue that he is passionate about. He's already facing charges relating to other breaches of suppression orders, and given the nature of the High-Profile Public Servant's employment, further charges or even arrest for contempt of Court are highly likely. And he is doing the public a service, especially where he has named teachers or nurses accused of serious sexual offending relevant to their employment; not to mention Entertainers, Olympians and Comedians!

So come on Newstalk ZB; if Cameron Slater's alleged breach of a suppression order is newsworthy enough to be the number two story on the 8am news, then he should be named. Whatever one might say about the Whale, he's never sought suppression himself, so there's no need for secrecy.

Beaten but not bowed

The Socceros scored an injury-time winner to beat the All Whites 2-1 last night. But the New Zealanders can walk away from the match with their heads held high. They took the match to the Australians in the first half especially, to the point where boos rang around the MCG as the half-time whistle blew with the Kiwis ahead 1-nil.

The Australians were anything but friendly, earning three yellow cards in a cynical first half. At least one of those should have been red. Leo Bertois can count himself lucky that he doesn't have a broken leg after a sickening foul by Vince Grella midway through the half. Grella should have been red-carded on the spot; it was that bad.

The match lost a lot of its shape in the second half as both coaches took advantage of the agreement allowing six subsitutes each, and it was there that the All Whites' defence was breached. They can take a lot of heart from the match however; it wasn't the flogging that many were predicting, especially Australians! The starting eleven settled nicely, but the loss of Bertos and Tim Brown in the first half forced changes. Doubtless Ricki Herbert will have plenty to reflect on as her prepares for the next warm-up match.

It's only three weeks now until the All Whites play their first match at the World Cup. We're starting to get more than a litle excited!

PS: If our coverage of the World Cup isn't enough, there's a world of information and opinion out there, but you can do a whole lot worse than William Fussey's Football World Cup blog. William is a Facebook friend of ours, and a politics junkie to boot, and his re-launched blog is well worth a look - if you can get past the fact that he's a Leeds United fan that is!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Monday Quote returns

Back in our previous blogging life, we used to have a regular Monday Quote featured. It hasn't featured since we reinvented ourselves as Keeping Stock 2010, but we couldn't resist when we read this from Linley Boniface in the Dominion-Post this morning:

Ironically, Dame Kiri used to be accused of being exactly the same type of schlocky crossover artist that she now disses so viciously. She has sung concert medleys, made recordings of My Fair Lady and West Side Story, performed with Elton John and Paul McCartney, and advertised supermarkets.

But it's hard to square the priggish, elitist diva of today with the woman who once told interviewer Melvyn Bragg that the opera world was "staid and boring", and that she would have loved to be Tina Turner.

After years of being entertained by her magnificently queenly antics, I fear Dame Kiri has made the transition from sacred cow to, frankly, cow.

Bring it on

Even though we are lifelong rugby and cricket fans, there are few things we are more eagerly awaiting than the FIFA World Cup, which is just days away now. And we are really, REALLY looking forward to the All Whites' clash against Australia in Melbourne tonight.

We were living in Auckland in 1979 (only briefly mind!), and one wet and cold Wednesday night we went along to Newmarket Park where New Zealand beat Australia 1-nil. We can't remember who the goalscorer was, but we distinctly remember a commanding performance in goal by Richard Wilson. That result (and an earlier win over Mexico) was the genesis of the 1982 World Cup All Whites. And during the qualifying campaign, Adshead's team had two great results against the Socceroos; a 3-3 draw at Mt Smart, and a 2-nil win at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Since then, it's been lean pickings for the All Whites against our neighbours from Oz; the last win I can remember was again at Mt Smart in 2002, which qualified the All Whites for the Confedrations Cup. From memory, a young Ryan Nelsen may have been the goalscorer.

Tonight, that same Ryan Nelsen leads the All Whites of 2010 on to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for a "friendly" that's bound to have some spice. Ricki Herbert has stuck with the same eleven he started the away match against Bahrain with, but there is some exciting young talent on the bench in the form of Chris Wood, Tommy Smith (with an I!) and Winston Reid.

Given that the team has only been together for four days, Herbert's men may struggle to get combinations going tonight, although Australia will be in the same boat. It should be a fantatstic match, and with this being the first time that BOTH New Zealand and Australia have made a World Cup finals, it'll be a great filip for the sport in this part of the world. Had we not been occupied with work over the weekend, we would have been sorely tempted to pay Melbourne a visit tonight.

Bring it on!

Those Customs Officers deserve a DB

It's a variation of a theme on our DB series, but in this case, it was a team effort - the Herald reports:

The six tourists flew into Auckland on Cathay Pacific flight 107 from Hong Kong early last Sunday afternoon.

Their short itinerary featured a two-day stay in Auckland and a visit to the tourist mecca of Rotorua before a return trip to Auckland and the flight home.

Five of the tour group, and their tour leader, passed through Customs and immigration and waited in the international arrivals hall for the last member of the group.

That man's baggage was being subjected to a search that Customs said yesterday led to the discovery of $6 million of pure methamphetamine.

The department said a quantity of the drug was found in sealed food and drink containers in luggage belonging to one member of the group.

As a result, other members were searched, leading to the discovery of "further concealments of methamphetamine".

Instead of going to the rooms they had reserved at SkyCity, the six were arrested and have spent the past week in jail. The tour leader was not arrested.

Customs revealed yesterday that the six Taiwanese tourists - and another man on the same flight who was found later - appeared in the Auckland District Court last week, each charged with importing a class-A controlled drug.

They face life imprisonment if found guilty.

This is a fantatstic find by Customs, and they deserve our plaudits. But let's not be naive; a find of pure methamphetamine in processed form may be rare, but it's unlikely that this is the first shipment of P in that form to make it into New Zealand, and it certainly won't be the last.

In the meantime, seven scumbags who thought that New Zealand would be a soft touch have found the reality to be a little bit different, and we hope that they enjoy the New Zealand penal system as much as Pete the (alleged) Pirate Bethune in enjoying Japan's.

Batten down the hatches

Drought? What drought? The Indian Summer which we've enjoyed has departed, and the first winter storm is on the way.

The rain will be welcome here in W(h)anganui, the Riviera of the WCNI, that's for sure. March and April were both much drier than usual, and up until yesterday, we'd only had about 30% of our average May rainfall. The grass is superficially green, but there's very little moisture underneath as yet, and the time for reasonable autumn grass growth has probably passed.

It has been unseaonably mild though, but we suspect that winter has some nasty surprises in store for us, and that they may not be too far away. We only need to remember the sight of snow in Florida just a few months ago ...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

He should have thought of that

The Sunday Star-Times features our old mate, Pete the (alleged) Pirate Bethune. He goes on trial later this week, and now seems to be having second thoughts about his fate:

JAILED anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune fears he will be sentenced to a lengthy jail term in what amounts to little more than a show trial.

He has told the Sunday Star-Times from his Japanese prison that authorities have treated him like a terrorist or a "psychopathic killer" – covering his head with a hood and surrounding him with up to 100 guards.

Bethune is worried he will get a long sentence at his trial, which starts on Thursday, and where he believes there is a 95% chance he will be convicted.

Well might Pete the (alleged) Pirate be worried. The cavalry of aid he was probably expecting Sea Shepherd to whistle up hasn't been forthcoming. The New Zealand Government won't intervene, to its credit. His wife has given him the flick, and his cashflow situation is not pretty.

We have very little sympathy for Bethune, He should have thought of all those things before rushing headlong into the Southern Ocean in a boat which was unfit for its intended purpose. He should have thought of the possible consequences before illegally boarding a Japanese whaling ship. He should have realised that being involved with an eco-terrorist organisation such as Sea Shepherd might not exactly curry favour with Japanese authorities.

Bethune has made his bed; now he must lie in (or on) it. It's what is known as "consequences", a concept alien to many these days, nonetheleast of whom is Pete the (alleged) Pirate Bethune.

Christian Music Sunday - 23/5/2010

We featured Rapture Ruckus during NZ Music Month last year. We generally switch right off when hip-hop music comes on, but from the time we first saw Brad Dring (the driving force behind Rapture Ruckus) perform, we were hooked.

He's unconventional. He's a skinny white guy from Wellington, in a genre dominated by black Americans, and locally by Pasifika people. And in the hooks and beats of the music, he's communicating the Gospel of Christ in a way that's incredibly relevant to the young people who listen to this kind of music.

The lyrics to I Believe flash up throughout this video. But if your eyes are a bit older, as mine are, you can have a read of them here. This is Brad Dring's statement of faith. It's personal. He was headed towards a life of drug addiction before God intervened, and helped him to turn his life around. The result might not be everyone's cup of tea, but we enjoy it, and this is our blog!

Quelle surprise!!

We didn't see that coming; Matt McCarten disses the Budget - read on:

This week's Budget is a public relations success. John Key's spin doctors deserve a bonus. The pre-budget "framing" was first class.

The tax on tobacco and the rollout of Whanau Ora and other matters that could detract from Thursday's announcements were cleverly released earlier.

Even the closing of the outrageous tax loopholes for property speculators and increasing GST were well signalled.

The Government wanted this Budget's headlines to be about individual tax cuts so that people would be rushing to see how much more they'd get in their take-home pay.

This strategy has succeeded brilliantly.

It's a carefully constructed Budget that gives Labour little room to attack.

He's right about one thing; this IS a brilliant Budget in a political sense. As much as the left will try and beat up the "rich getting richer" line, the bottom line is this; pretty much everyone got something from this Budget. John Key and Bill English have frozen Labour out.

To his credit though, McCarten slates Phil Goff for his hypocrisy:

It must be difficult for Phil Goff to huff and puff against something he strongly advocated when he was a Cabinet minister in the Lange government.

The arguments by both sides in Parliament on Thursday were exactly the same as when GST was raised in 1989.

The only difference now is that Labour is in Opposition and National is in Government.

Goff's admission that he wouldn't necessarily reduce, let alone eliminate GST if there were a change of government, makes his current posturing contemptible.

His party's opportunistic manoeuvring about removing GST from food is just intellectually insulting.

Oh dear; when one of the left's leading cheerleaders slags off the Labour Party in such a way, there's certainly trouble at t'mill. We can't help but wonder how long the Labour caucus will hold its nerve and honour the 2011 accord; you know - the one whereby Phil Goff was appointed as leader until the 2011 election come hell or high water. We'd venture to suggest that at the moment, the Labour Party is facing BOTH hell AND high water, and that the situation is rapidly becoming untenable.

Back to McCarten though - he closes by trying to reignite the class war, and to boot, he proves that he can't count!!! Here's his flawed ending:

Key and English may believe this Budget is fair and will help people who struggle to make a living. But it's not.

I can sum up this Budget in one sentence.

Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds will get a mind-blowing $4800 more in his hand every week.

One of the hundreds of workers he sacked recently who now languishes on the dole will get $1.20.

Any questions as to which side Key and his Government are on?

Lazy blogger

Flippin' heck; it's past 8am, and we haven't posted anything yet today. We're in grave danger of getting worse than DPF over at Kiwiblog!

Fear not dear readers; it's a mere aberration, due more to being gainfully employed than falling prey to wine, women and song!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May Contain Facts

We don't always enjoy Steve Braunias' writings. But he has dipped his pen in acid, and come up with an absolute belter. Those on the receiving end of the acid-tipped pen are none other than Mark and Amanda Hotchin, who are doing it tough in Hawaii just at the moment. Here's a sample to whet your appetite:

Posing as an international arms dealer with no criminal convictions, no scruples and no class, May Contain Facts gained intimate access this week to the Hotchin holiday home in Honolulu.

Mark Hotchin and his wife, Amanda, were lazing poolside when May Contain Facts walked past their gate, and paused to light a cigar by setting fire to $100 notes.

"Come in and sit a while, friend," cried Hotchin.

It was a beautiful morning. A light breeze teased the tops of the palm trees in their garden. Sunlight jewelled the surface of the pool. A servant was crouched on his hands and knees for Hotchin to use his back as a footstool. There was a bottle of champagne in an icebucket, fresh lobster in a chilly bin, and a string quartet waiting to announce lunch.

"We're under siege," said Hotchin.

He explained that the New Zealand media had turned their holiday into a living hell. He said a young reporter from a Sunday paper had flown to Hawaii and tracked them down. "I thought he said he was the paper boy," said Amanda.

She told him to go away but only after telling him that she and her husband didn't have to justify to anyone how they spent their money. "He asked me a question," she said. "So underhand. The media will stop at nothing."

Mark Hotchin said: "We're being crucified simply because my finance company Hanover left 16,000 mostly elderly, frail and infirm New Zealand investors in the lurch. But they'll get over it.

"It's us who're the victims. The $91 million in dividends we took out of Hanover will only go so far. The media attacks - we're being turned into pariahs! We can't show our face in Auckland.

This is classic stuff; it fair drips with sarcasm. It makes us wonder now whether Mike Hosking was trying a bit of reverse psychology earlier in the week with his defence of Hotchin; whether he was secretly hoping that someone would be so outraged as to ramp up the ante. If that was his intention, he succeeded, and more! If not, what the heck; in our always-humble opinion, Hotchin is now reaping what he sowed.

Take a few minutes out, make yourself a cuppa, and read Braunias' piece; you'll be glad that you did!