Thursday, June 30, 2011

WhaleLeaks; the sequel

Cameron Slater has been reasonably quiet with regards to the WhaleLeaks story in the last week or so. He claims to have more interesting revelations; we guess that the veracity of that claim will be proven or otherwise in the fullness of time.

But things have taken a sinister turn; he blogs:

When I broke the story of Labour’s appalling infor­ma­tion and pri­vacy secu­rity with their wide open site I fully expected that they would retaliate.

I knew they would attack my men­tal health, attack my employ­ment sta­tus and attack my integrity. I also knew they would attack my site.

Yes­ter­day I received con­fir­ma­tion from my third inde­pen­dent source that Labour has put out a con­tract amongst the hack­ing com­mu­nity to deface or take down my site. All sources con­firm that the job has a price and that senior Labour fig­ures are the ones request­ing the attack.

They will of course deny it, but the sim­ple fact is that peo­ple are talk­ing and peo­ple are angry that such a job is out there. Two of my snitches are left lean­ing, one is a Green mem­ber. They were appalled by the suggestion.

I have been told that no one as yet has accepted the job. Labour and their con­duits are being turned down flat.

If what is being alleged is true, it's outrageous. One can understand Labour being embarrassed at their lack of website security being exposed. But to retaliate in the way that has been outlined by Slater is not only an outrage; it is criminal.

Cameron Slater may not be everyone's cup of tea. But as he demonstrated by video, he did nothing illegal in exposing how easy it was to extract information from the Labour websites. He has not, as was suggested released vast tracts of individuals' personal information and for that he should be commended. And he actually did Labour a favour by giving them an opportunity to close up the loopholes. We're sure that he will have taken added precautions to secure his own site.

If anyone from Labour is involved in what has been alleged today, it is a serious matter, and we would urge them to call off the dogs. We will be watching developments with interest.

Hug a Cantab

Today is Hug a Cantab Day. It's a Facebook initiative, and is pretty much self-explanatory. Over 10,000 people have signed up to take part

As regular readers will be aware, She Who Must Be Obeyed is a Cantabrian, transplanted to the North Island. She looked a bit bemused when we mentioned Hug a Cantab Day to her this morning, but accepted the hug in the spirit in which it was offered!

Cantabrians have had a pretty rough time of it in recent months, so if you see one today, share the love; consentually, of course. And if you're in Christchurch, and Tinman the Cabbie pulls up ...

Well said Winston

It's not often that we have something nice to say about Winston Peters, but today is one of those days - the Dominion-Post reports:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has joined a growing chorus calling for Hone Harawira to tone down his language, saying he is letting his people down.

The language of the newly-returned MP for Te Tai Tokerau is back in the spotlight after he told a marae following his by-election win on Saturday night that the Maori Party had "shit on him".

His choice of words has hindered his chances of repairing his relationship with the Maori Party after its co-leader Pita Sharples said Harawira would need to tone down his comments if he wanted to meet with his former party.

Peters said as the leader of the Mana Party, Harawira needed to stop swearing because his lack of decorum was reflecting negatively on him.

"There are no swear words in the Maori language," he told Waatea News.

"So really you're selling yourself out when you do that, as a Maori speaker, but particularly as an English speaker.

"If your only choice of a range of words, and there are nine alternatives, is to swear, you're letting yourself down and you're letting your people down."

Hone Harawira does indeed have a colourful turn of phrase; he certainly doesn't sound like a politician. Then again, his potty mouth appeals to some.

But Harawira is not just any politician now. He is a party leader with extra rewards; and extra responsibilities. He's been told that, and says that he accepts it - read on:

In February about 50 kaumatua in the Far North met Harawira and expressed their disappointment at his obscene language, particularly on the social networking site Facebook.

In an email in 2009 defending a sight-seeing trip to Paris, Harawira said "white motherf***ers" had been "raping" New Zealand for years. He later called Labour leader Phil Goff a "bastard".

While visiting Australian Aborigines in 2007, Harawira called then Australian prime minister John Howard a "racist bastard".

Harawira is taking a holiday with wife Hilda following the by-election and was unavailable for comment.

But yesterday he acknowledged he will have to change his tack.

"I'm going to have to cool my heels... but that's part of the leadership game I guess. I'm comfortable with the changes necessary to lead a movement as important as Mana," he told TV3's Firstline programme.

It remains to be seen whether or not we will see more mana from the Mana Party leader, but we applaud Winston Peters for calling him on his language; after all, the NZ First leader has managed to be controversial all these years with barely an expletive passing his lips!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On people-power and corporates with a conscience

The Macsyna King book is the story-de-jour, and there have been a couple of significant developments. TVNZ reports:

Paper Plus says it will not stock a new book written in collaboration with the mother of the Kahui twins.

ONE News revealed on Monday that journalist Ian Wishart has penned a new book with Macsyna King about the deaths of her sons.

There have been growing calls for people to boycott the book, Breaking Silence, and Paper Plus released a statement today saying it has listened to those calls.

Paper Plus CEO Rob Smith said: "Over the past 24 hours we had a significant volume of feedback from our customers both online via our Paper Plus Facebook page as well as through individual communication to our stores and support office. We have also been in close consultation with our franchise holders and staff to understand their position on this subject."

"The prevailing opinion is that our stores do not feel comfortable selling this book and our customers do not want to buy it. This is certainly not about censorship or Paper Plus taking the moral high ground. We are simply listening to our most important stakeholders and acting in accordance with their feelings."

The Paper Plus Group is to be commended for listening to its customers. We understand too that The Warehouse will not be stocking the book either, and will confirm that in due course.

In the meantime, there are now over 25,000 people who have clicked the "like" button on the Boycott the Macsyna King Book Facebook page. Whilst some of the comments being left there don't make nice reading, there are positive things happening. Among them is a suggestion from the page's administrator that people write to the Chief Coroner, Judge Neil Maclean asking him to use his powers to make the book available to both the Coroner conducting the inquest which is in progress at the moment and to the Police. Surely, if Ian Wishart has new evidence, it should be released to the appropriate authorities.

People Power is alive and well. And in the time since we started this post, went out to a meeting and then returned, it has been confirmed that The Warehouse has a corporate conscience as well, and that Whitcoulls will make an announcement tomorrow. That's good news indeed.

Revenge of the Cactus

It's all on for young and old in the blogosphere. Cactus Kate has hit back at Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury's hate-filled rantings. She has blogged a lengthy rebuttal, and unlike Bradbury's blog and Twitter rantings which we touched on yesterday, the Prickly One dishes up facts, not emotion and innuendo.

Bullet point by bullet point she dismantles Bradbury's allegations. Here's an example:

1. I confirm I have known Bomber since I was at University when we were teenagers. He hated me then and this hasn't changed.

2. I agree with Bomber's comment " She has a fierce intelligence and when I judged the NZ bloggers Union Awards last year, I voted for her to win as her financial analysis was the best on the blogosphere, in some regards I have nothing but respect for Cathy". That's right. Say it louder. And remember it when you write such nonsense about me.

3. "What does a silver spooned corporate lawyer earning half a million a year know about the realities of a woman living on the benefit in NZ and stoop to such language to attack and damn beneficiaries with?".

I object to this comment as my parents have never given me a cent of their wealth or advantage thereof to be deemed "silver spooned". I have earned every cent I have on my own. I have never taken a cent off a husband or boyfriend either, quite often all they have left me with is debt. I attended a very normal public school, was Dux of that school and Student Representative on the Board of Trustees and then earned my right to be at Auckland University Law School by gaining a Scholarship and A Bursary. I was the first person in my family to complete a Professional degree. I am proud of that. I am guessing my grades were significantly superior to Bomber's as well. He's probably a bit sad about that.

This is vintage Cactus Kate, and shows why she was judged as the inaugural winner of the Air New Zealand Best Blog award last year; ironically, one of the judges was one Martyn Bradbury! He should have known better than to pick a fight with the Cactus.

But is doesn't end there; Bradbury gets one final serve as Cactus Kate reflects on why there aren't more women in Parliament:

Female candidates in politics face many challenges. Putting up with abuse is just one of them. I can now even read a Kiwiblog thread and it doesn't raise my blood pressure at all. When a female even thinks of standing for Parliament their appearance gets the once over, their sexual history likewise and moreso than men every other facet of their life. I can handle this, in a Chris Christie sort of fashion because I have spent more than a decade being trained to be like this as an adversarial lawyer - many won't.

What I cannot stand for is misogynist abuse muttering my name as more abusive to anyone than a convicted sex offender who claimed abusing an underage girl was consensual. Bomber just doesn't like women who challenge him. He can't handle it. How will he handle Mana's Annette Sykes for example? Or my former lecturer Jane Kelsey, if she gets on board, if he speaks of women and belittles sex abuse victims like this?

If Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury ever wished to know why he has yet to be taken seriously as a political commentator or given a national platform to spill his bile, then look no further than his mad utterings here.

As we said above, this is vintage Cactus; an intelligent, articulate woman who doesn't suffer fools. We have a sneaking suspicion that there are more than a few sitting MP's who are not looking forward to the prospect of Cathy Odgers entering Parliament given how easily she has dismantled Martyn Bradbury's abuse. Interesting times might be just around the corner.

UPDATED - Boycott the book!

UPDATE: In the twelve or so hours since we first posted this, the Boycott the Macsyna King Book Facebook page has been going gangbusters - over 18,000 have "liked" the page, expressing disgust at the publication of this book.

We just want to clarify a couple of things; we have nothing against Ian Wishart, and have read and enjoyed a number of his books. We're not calling for book burnings or witchhunts; we're merely suggesting that people vote with their wallets.

Neither do we endorse some of the more extreme comments made on the Facebook page. But they are understandable; five years after the death of the twins, there is still anger that no-one has, or in all likelihood will be held responsible. Given that an inquest into their death is still proceeding, it's far, far too soon for the publication of a book telling one side of the story.


Ian Wishart is about to publish a book on the murder of the Kahui twins. That in itself is not particularly bad; it's a case which both shocked and intrigued the nation.

What IS bad is that this book will be Macsyna King's version of events, as told to Wishart. We reckon that goes way beyond the pale. King gave evidence against Chris Kahui at Kahui's trial for the twins' murder; evidence that cannot have been accepted by the jury, because Kahui was acquitted on all charges. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that she was in some wasy involved herself, although we're unlikely to find that out from her tell-all expose.

There is a new site on Facebook today - Boycott the Macsyna King Book. We've clicked the "like" button; when we did that, there were around 1300 followers. In about two hours that number has more than doubled; as we type this the page has attracted 2723 followers. If y ou're on Facebook, we urge you to do as we have done, and send a message to Ian Wishart that this book is a bridge too far.

Wishart claims to have asked all the tough questions and come to a conclusion. Without saying in as many words that Kahui was the killer he said on radio this morning that the police "prosecuted the right person". A High Court jury did not agree with him. Now he is going to try and relitigate the case based on the story told to him by someone with a very vested interest, both in protecting her own reputation, and vilifying the father of the chidren, her former partner.

Some stories should not be told. Macsyna King's is one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Voting for change

The anti-MMP campaign is underway. We received this in our in-box this morning:

The Vote for Change Society Incorporated today launches its campaign for New Zealanders to tick ‘Change’ in the electoral referendum.

“Vote for Change asks the 40% of New Zealanders who have already realised that MMP doesn’t offer enough accountability, to join our group” says Wellington Lawyer and Vote for Change Spokesperson, Jordan Williams. “We want Kiwis to use their opportunity to have a better voting system. Only by voting ‘change’ in November can we ensure a proper debate on MMP’s merits. Only a vote for change will mean there is another vote, a run-off between MMP and one of the four alternatives at the 2014 election.”

“Vote for Change wants a system that restores more certainty, that allows voters to easily hold governments to account and kick rascals out of Parliament,” says Mr Williams. “The current system lets party bosses sneak MPs who have been dismissed by their local electorates back into Parliament on party lists.”

“New Zealanders are tired of Lists that make MPs beholden to political party bosses instead of being accountable to constituents. We want politicians to have to think of the people they serve and not party list rankings when making tough decisions” says Mr Williams.

Vote for Change is a grassroots campaign, with members and supporters from across the political spectrum. Its founding members include Bob Harvey, a former Labour Party president and Michael Bassett, a former Labour Party cabinet minister. A list of founding members is on the campaign’s website . New Zealanders can join the Society and donate to the campaign from today.

With the General Election and attendant referendum now less than five months away, it's timely that Vote for Change had launched itself onto the public stage. Whem MMP was introduced at the 1996 election, we were promised a review, but 15 years on, nothing has eventauted until now.

We did not support MMP when it was introduced, and it probably won't surprise anyone when we say that we still don't support it. Not only did MMP make the Parliament too large and unwieldy, but it gave genuine minor parties far more power than could ever have been intended.

November's referendum then is timely. It is an opportunity for the public to decide whether MMP should be our electoral system going forward, or whether it is time to consider some other form of representation. Let's have the debate, in a reasoned and informed manner, and then let's see what the voting public wants; after all, it's US that the politicians represent.

Caring and sensitive

We blogged yesterday about Cathy Odgers' candidacy for the Act Party. We also noted that Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury has declared cyber-war on the Prickly One. His blog yesterday contained "Far Right ACT candidate Cathy Odgers (sic) fascist hate quote of the day". We will not dignify his blog with a link, but this extract will give you an idea of the content:

Cathy is as much an 'asset' as a cancerous tumour

Nice, isn't it? And whilst he hasn't blogged today's daily quote yet, Bomber has been busy on Twitter; this morning he sent out this gem:

Martyn Bradbury

Now, it this wasn't so ironic, it might even be funny. The irony comes from the fact that Bomber Bradbury has been right at the heart of the establishment of the Mana Party. Even more ironic is that Maui Street blog has released a possible Mana Party list which places one Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury at number four!

That's right dear readers; the jungle drums are beating for Bomber Bradbury to be a political candidate as well. His is the caring and sensitive face that the Mana Party wishes to present to the electorate. We can't help but wonder whether he'll embrace RWNJ's (Right Wing Nut Jobs) going through all HIS on-line utterances, and quoting them back, whether in context or otherwise. On balance, we suspect that he won't.

Hone Muldoon?

We well remember the Muldoon years. Sir Robert ruled with an iron fist and an icy, penetrating stare. And if you were a journalist who crossed him, beware! Tom Scott found that out; famously excluded from Muldoon's press conferences, then ridiculed on one occasion when he tried to sneak in down the back.

Turn the clock forward 27 years from Muldoon's defeat. Hone Harawira, being of similar vintage to me, myself and I obviously has memories of Muldoon, and has adopted a similar strategy; he's black-listed (are we allowed to say that?) Newstalk ZB. It's all because of a tongue-in-cheek opinion piece by Newstalk's political editor Barry Soper; here's the piece; judge it for yourself:

The oxygen for politics is publicity, something Titewhai's boy Hone Harawira seems to have forgotten.

Sounding more like another self appointed leader in Suva, the boy who learnt activism at birth has imposed a black ban on Newstalk ZB because he didn't like the tenor of this column.

This man who admits to loving his mother, just as all sons should, objected to being referred to as Titewhai's boy which of course he is. Nobody's suggesting he's a mummy's boy, but then again who knows?

The banning order's also been imposed because he didn't like the idea of being reminded that the by election cost half a million dollars of taxpayers' money to run. That means his 867 vote mandate cost close to six hundred bucks a vote.

But he said he didn't spend a cent on the by election because he was the only candidate who didn't have any money. He may not have spent a cent but we did whether we liked it or not and most of us didn't given that the general election's just around the corner.

Hone's now saying he's going to spend the next five months on the road campaigning, giving his proxy vote in the bear pit to the Kermits. But what about his claim that he wanted to represent his people in Parliament where as a leader he'll now get more dosh?

So now that he's got a mini mandate he's now looking to reacquaint himself with his Maori Party mates, offering them an alliance. Given his walkabout record though, it's hard to see them offering their hand of guidance.

And the other party that he'd like to cosy up to doesn't want a bar of him. Labour's Phil Goff says there'll be no deals on that front. He was unreliable with the party that got him into the bear pit, and Goff reckons this leopard's unlikely to change his spots anytime soon.

Of course he won't be able to have any sort of accommodation with the Tories given that was one of the reasons he jumped before he was pushed from the Maori Party.

So the Mana Party doesn't look to have much of it around this place and if he starves himself of the oxygen that any party needs in the lead up to the election, then he can offer olive groves until he's blue in the face and no one would be any the wiser.

But then wisdom isn't a trait Titewhai's boy's known for!

By Barry Soper

OK; the references to "Titewhai's boy" are a bit gratuitous (but true). But Harawira's biggest beef is Soper's criticism of the cost of the by-election, of which Harawira claims he didn't spend a cent of taxpayer money. That's patently false of course; had Harawira not resigned from Parliament after getting hoha with the Maori Party, there wouldn't have been a by-election.

And perhaps Harawira is stung by a home truth. Soper has pointed out the MP's plans to go on an extended road trip to solicit votes for the party of which he is now leader. To do that, he won't bother attending the 21 sitting days remaining in the 49th Parliament. The Greens (or the Kermits, as Soper calls them) will manage Harawira's proxy vote.

But hang on a minute; hasn't Harawira just been elected to represent the electorate of Te Tai Tokerau? How can gallivanting around the country at the taxpayer's expense be compatible with representing the people he's described as some of New Zealand's poorest? Surely the costs of his travels would be better spent on improving the lot of the people he purports to represent in his electorate.

Soper seems to have exposed Harawira's Achilles heel. And Harawira has quickly forgotten that just days ago, he was the darling of the media as the Te Tai Tokerau contest reached its climax. How quickly the wheel turns; Harawira's Muldoon-like strike on Soper and his station suggests that he has a problem with people telling the truth. That does not bode well for his e;lectoral future.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Is Cactus Act's prickly solution? Part trois...

From the Prickly One herself - Cactus Kate blogs:

Over the weekend news that I have put my name forward to be a candidate for the ACT Party was released by several MSM outlets. ACT President Chris Simmons has also confirmed this to NZPA and so now I can officially confirm the news as well.

The reasons I am seeking to stand as a candidate for ACT are two-fold:

1. To encourage potential ACT female and younger suitably qualified candidates to do likewise at this early stage in the process.

2. To provide the ACT Board with an alternative to the current female candidate pool.

Contemporaneously Heather Roy announced she is quitting politics. I make no further comment on this other than I am delighted.

Now; we're not Act Party supporters, but we welcome this announcement from Cactus Kate. Others have been less welcoming; Bomber at Tumeke launched a bile-ridden tirade on Saturday after the story broke in the NZ Herald, followed by another yesterday. We will not dignify them with a link. On the other hand, self-confessed leftie Lew from Kiwipolitico was much more reasoned, concluding his piece thus:

But this endorsement isn’t all about foreshadowed electoral schadenfreude. Odgers, for all that I disagree with nearly every aspect of her politics, is intelligent, articulate and possessed of a sharp and analytical wit. By reputation she is driven, hard-working and will not tolerate time-wasters or time-servers. If her boasts about the expat lifestyle and her drinking habits are to be believed, she will be taking a considerable cut in pay and increase in workload if elected to parliament, so we might reasonably assume her intentions are genuine. In other words, aside from her politics — which is admittedly a very big aside — she’s just the sort of person we need more of in Parliament. It may be that the rigours of public office mellow her, or it may be that her prickly public persona hides one more rounded and reasoned. They often do.

Cactus Kate has, of course, anticipated that her past comments will be used against her - read on:

Some poorly read left-wing blogs have commented on my potential candidacy with respect to my apparent extremist views on a range of issues. I do not intend to delete any past material on my blog and stand by all of it. I simply ask for the material to be used in the context it was written as to date it has not been. For balance I link a mainstream alternative view to these detractors.

And she's realistic about the task ahead, both for herself and for the Act Party:

ACT is a minority party and I believe our appeal is to support National in government and in doing so keeping it honest to itself and the centre-right in terms of its economic policy and direction.

I believe John Key is doing a brilliant job of acting as a statesman, after- dinner speaker and winner, but a less than brilliant job of moving New Zealand forward with the sort of courageous reforms required outside simply more taxing and more spending.

ACT has an advantage in that it does not have to appeal to 50% of the population and I intend to concentrate solely on issues that affect our core voters. I am not interested in attempting to engage negatively with groups of New Zealanders who will never vote or even support ACT. I have spent many years doing so on this blog.

My personal views and blogging history aside I have worked both as a lawyer and company director for more than a decade predominantly in an international business environment dealing with people from all over the globe in the fields of taxation, trusts, compliance and estate planning for high net worth individuals and corporates. I have spent the past six years living and working in Hong Kong travelling all over Asia and the rest of the world.

I will continue these professional disciplines if the ACT Board approve my candidacy, as one of I understand many other applications, within the next fortnight.

The Prickly One will be an most interesting addition to Act's ranks if her application for candidacy is approved. She is a long-time Act member, and could rightfully expect a high list placing; perhaps as high as #3, behind Messrs Brash and Boscawen. She'll certainly be a thorn in the side of a few!

The Monday Wrap - 27 June 2011

It's been a busy weekend of sport, and there have been some very good results for New Zealand teams and individuals.

We've already lauded the New Zealand U-20 rugby team; World Champions yet again. Another youth team is doing very well too; the U-17 All Whites at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. They play Japan later in the week, having qualified for knock-out play for the second consecutive time. We watched some of their match against the USA yesterday (a nil-all draw), and there are some talented young footballers coming through.

Wins over Australia in any sport are always something to be celebrated. The women's Black Sticks had a great 3-2 victory against their trans-Tasman rivals at the Champions Trophy in Germany overnight. After a 1-nil loss to the hosts in a match they could have won, the Black Sticks played superbly; well done girls. And the second goal, scored by Chrystal Forgeson was as good a goal as you would see anywhere.

Young motor racing driver Mitch Evans is a young man in a hurry. He's burst onto the international circuit, and leads the European GP3 series. GP3 is regarded as a feeder class to F1, and the circuit is a support class for the glamour boys, so the just-turned-17-year-old Kiwi is making an impression in front of some very influential people. He's also being mentored by Australian F1 driver Mark Webber who finished third in the F1 race.

Locally, the Crusaders' nomadic season continues for another week. They face a trip to Cape Town via Dubai instead of going round the bottom of the world as usual due the the Chilean ash cloud. But they have travelled far and wide this season, and of course beat the Stormers at Newlands earlier in the season. Their last fifty minutes against the Sharks was excellent after a slow start, and if any team can knock over the Stormers, it is the red and blacks. The Blues too looked good in patches, but they will have to turn on an 80-minute performance to beat the Reds. But it's great to see Ali Williams playing his way back into form; his game on Friday night reminded as of the first test against the Lions in 2005 where he popped up everywhere, stole lineout ball and keft the field with a huge grin on his face. The form that Williams has displayed in the last three or four weeks suggests that he will be a strong contender for selection in the All Blacks this year.

We've saved the Warriors for last. Four losses in a row has seen them drop out of the top eight, when they had been challenging for a top four spot. The only saving grace is that they have a run of home games as the season winds down, but Ivan Cleary has a huge job on his hands now to get the collective headspace of the team sorted if they aspire to playoff football this season.

That's how we saw the weekend; what say you?

World Champions; again!

The New Zealand U-20 rugby team has won the world championships for the fourth successive time. Their final against England has just ended, with the Baby Blacks running out 33-22 winners.

This is a fantastic achievement. The team is unbeaten in four world championships; 24 consecutive wins. It's a breeding ground for professional rugby players, and for future All Blacks. Just two years ago Aaron Cruden and Zac Guilford were stars at the IRB tournament; within twelve months both were All Blacks.

The 2011 team is coached by Mark Anscombe, and captained by the latest in a seemingly never-ending string of Whitelock brothers, Luke. There are a number of familiar surnames amongst the team, and a select few have already tasted Super Rugby. That number will increase markedly in 2012.

Well done to the U-20's. This is a fantastic result, and reinforces New Zealand's reputation as rugby's most prolific nursery. We can but hope that the U-20's success will be repeated in a few months time!

Hone's on the road

Hone Harawira may have been re-elected to Parliament, but he doesn't plan to spend much time there between now and the General Election in November. And Labour may not like it - Kate Chapman from Stuff reports:

The Mana Party is setting itself up to threaten not only the Maori Party's future but also Labour's core voters among the young and poor.

Leader Hone Harawira rushed back to Whangarei yesterday from Kaitaia, where he had been celebrating his Tai Tokerau by-election win, to attend his Mana Party's founding conference.

Mana would focus on simple, easy-to-understand policies in areas such as the cost of living, education and employment, he said.

"The issues are pretty simple: people in the land of milk and honey are starving. Somebody's got to change that. It's not going to be National and it sure don't look like it's going to be Labour."

He planned to take a few days off with wife Hilda to "park up somewhere" and then hit the road on a six-week national tour to lift his party's profile.

The by-election win had shown people had the power to make change everywhere, he said.

"They don't see [Labour leader] Phil Goff any longer as the champion of the working class and the champion of the poor, and if that's the case who is going to step up to that plate – clearly it's going to be Mana."

That's interesting. The presence of people like Matt McCarten, Sue Bradford, Nandor Tanczos and John Minto being involved in the set-up of the Mana Party always suggested that Mana would be making a play for the hard left at the expense of the Greens. It seems though that Harawira is bouyed to set his sights just a little higher, and take on the Labour behemoth.

Realistically though, there are only so many votes on the Left to go round, however they are distributed. Voters will be cautious in their support of the Mana Party until Harawira has proved that he can work constructively with other parties' remember that Phil Goff has already ruled out working with Harawira (after criticising John Key for ruling out working with Winston Peters).

And where does this leave the Maori Party? That's anyone's guess, but its future does not look especially bright. Interesting times await us.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On Alasdair Thompson, Campbell Live and Dr Edwards

Other issues have stopped us commenting on the Alasdair Thompson issue so far. What he said on radio the other morning was ill-considered, and he hasn't coped especially well with the media firestorm that erupted.

But yesterday we were alerted to this story via a Twitter link, and it has certainly led us to look at this whole business in a different light; it's a piece by Dr Brian Edwards in the NBR; for reasons that will become apparent later, we suggest that you read the entire piece which it begins thus:

Here’s a little quiz: Who said this?

“I believe that in life most women are more productive totally than most men. I absolutely believe that. When you take into account the things that women do in their lives compared to most men. They often do all the arranging of the finances for the whole family, they run the household, they care for the children, they do all manner of things and they go to work. Their total productivity in life, in my opinion, is higher than most men.”

The answer? Alasdair Thompson. Where? In an interview with Mihingarangi Forbes for Campbell Live.

How come you didn’t know that? Because that part of the interview wasn’t shown on the programme. In fact only 4’18” of this 27 minute interview was shown.

TV3 is entitled to edit the programme, a fact which Thompson acknowledged and accepted at the start of recording. But what it is not entitled to do is to select a passage which is totally non-representative of the original interview in its entirety. That is precisely what it did.

Edwards makes two very valid points in the final paragraph of the quote. The broadcaster is indeed entitled to edit as it sees fit, but that said editing painted a grossly inaacurate picture.

Let's be clear here; we did NOT agree with Thompson's comments as reported on radio, and were horrified when we watched the Campbell Live video, having recorded it to watch Christchurch earthquake coverage. Campbell Live made Thompson appear to be a bully with archaic ideas on gender issues.

As Edwards notes, that is not the whole picture. He gives a very reasoned summary of the progress of the interview, Thompson's requests to go off camera, and the infamous exchange with Mihingarangi Forbes. He then concludes with some advice for Alasdair Thompson - read on:

It’s our advice to clients that they should never say anything to journalists “off the record”. We frequently add that it’s often not clear when either interviewer or interviewee understands the conversation is “on the record” again. This is very much the case in this interview.

But even if we give Forbes the benefit of the doubt on this, the fact remains that four fifths of the interview, in which Thompson came across in an extremely positive light was not shown to viewers, while the remaining fifth, in which he became animated and angry was. That is dishonest journalism.

What’s more, and to add insult to injury, it was on the basis of this dishonest journalism that viewers were invited to take part in a poll on Thompson’s competence to remain in his job and whether he should resign. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of respondents said he should.

I’m a fan of Campbell Live. I regard it as superior in almost every way to Close Up. I also really like Mihingarangi Forbes. But this item was a journalistic disgrace. I don’t agree with Thompson’s views, but my strong advice to him would be to refer this matter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. I would happily support him.

In the meantime, watch the full interview and the broadcast edit for yourself, and see what you think.

That's not the end. The NBR piece allows comments, and interestingly the first comment comes from one Pip Keane, the producer of Campbell Live. Read her whole comment (we'd hate to present an unbalanced picture!), but this bit stood out:

I produce Campbell Live and I would argue, Brian, that we were being honest. Yesterday was a huge day for Christchurch and after the good work we have done there for the past two weeks (I would argue a combination of our caravan of complaint, compelling stories consistently night after night and John’s interviews over the past fortnight put some pressure on the Government to bring yesterday’s zoning decision forward.)

On a day that meant so much not just for Christchurch but for the rest of the country too, we’re hardly going to run a 27 minute interview with Alasdair Thompson. In fact, if we had you would probably have written a column about it! We had to choose the best part to put to air. That’s our job.

We've expressed a view in the past that the role of the media is to report the news, not to invent it. We are well aware that there is a strong rivalry between Campbell Live (which we seldom watch) and its competitor Close Up (which we don't watch that often either). That rivalry is ratings-driven, and the stories as much about entertainment/ sensationalism as they are about news.

What we do find interesting though is Pip Keane claiming credit for the timing of the government's announcement of relief for residents in Christchurch's red residential zone. That arrogant and patronising attitude may well explain why we so infrequently contribute to Campbell Live's ratings!

But Brian Edwards has raised some very interesting and valid points in this piece. We hope that Alasdair Thompson or someone close to him does complain to the BSA, because we do not believe that what was served up on Thursday night in the name of journalism was fair and balanced.

Congratulations Hone

Hone Harawira has won the Te Tai Tokerau by-election. Although we strongly opposed him, and would far have preferred Labour's Kelvin Davis to win, it would be churlish not to congratulate the victor, and we do.

But Harawira now faces an even bigger challenge. Getting elected is one thing. Delivering on his promises is another thing altogether. Neither of the main parties in Parliament have indicated a willingness to work with Harawira, and that is hardly surprising; he is a polarising figure with extreme views. He will find it difficult to achieve anything much in the 21 sitting days that remain for the 49th Parliament.

But he has won his first battle, even though Te Tai Tokerau is now one of New Zealand's most marginal electorates. We suspect that Hone Harawira will face an even tougher battle in November, once the make-up of the Mana Party list is made public.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Armstrong lauds Brownlee

John Armstrong has had some harsh things to say about Gerry Brownlee over the years; not today though - he opines:

It may not be the done thing to go into bat for Gerry Brownlee, but a lot of the stick he has been getting as Earthquake Recovery Minister has been unwarranted.

Sure, Brownlee's patience can run too thin at times. Sure, there has been the occasional glitch in his running of his portfolios. Sure, it is blindingly obvious that you don't tell people something is blindingly obvious. And we won't dwell on his biggest political misjudgment - the misguided plan to let mining companies dig up national parks.

But when it comes to nous and instinct, Brownlee is the politician's politician. On Thursday he stepped up to the mark and delivered the goods when it really mattered.

He delivered in his handling of the biggest challenge to face any government since World War II in terms of sheer complexity and huge emotional turmoil.

He's right; putting together a package for the people most badly affected by Christchurch's earthquakes that is both feasible and fair was always going to be a nightmare of a job. Pleasing everyone would be an impossibility, as Armstrong notes - he continues:

Thursday's compensation package for homes in the uninhabitable "red zone" has received a mixed response from those affected. But it is impossible to satisfy everyone, and those unhappy with the Government's offer to buy properties at current rating value should realise this is at the most generous end of such compensation arrangements.

Throughout the nine months since the first quake, Brownlee and John Key have kept one thing at the forefront of their minds - something that many of Brownlee's critics have forgotten.

That is the way in which New Zealanders regard home ownership as not just a goal, but almost as a right.

It is born of the 19th century Utopian ethic that Jack was as good as his colonial master, and is seared deep into the national psyche.

For many people, their house is not only their home. It may be the only appreciating asset they own or will ever own.

The Christchurch earthquakes have brutally ripped away the trust people put in bricks, mortar and weatherboard.

No one - not even those on the far right - has questioned the application of the full powers and resources of the state to remedying matters and restoring personal security.

But that does not extend to a magic wand which could return things to what they were before last September.

It's hard to disagree with Armstrong's thinking here. Thursday's announcement may see some people lose some of the equity they had in their homes, but it is sufficiently generous to allow everyone to re-enter the housing market. Others may end up better off, but the fundamental principle behind the package seems to be fairness. That is commendable.

Armstrong then comments on the delays in reaching this point, bearing in mind that Thrusday's announcement was just the first stop on the journey - he writes:

Brownlee and Key were under no illusions that they were in anything but a race against time to come up with housing solutions before the stress and pressure people were soaking up began to be focused outwards.

Brownlee and Key lost that race - narrowly. Suddenly Brownlee found himself the whipping boy for refusing to say when he would disclose which parts of residential Christchurch would be off-limits for the rebuilding of houses.

Some of the criticism was justified. Brownlee could have been more diplomatic with those questioning the paucity of hard information.

But his reasons for staying mum were sound. His reluctance to set deadlines for the package was justified after the setbacks caused by the June 13 quakes.

The trouble was that those shakes produced a deeply pessimistic mood shift within Christchurch which exacerbated the feeling of helplessness.

The Government had to keep its nerve. It essentially had one shot at "getting it right" - the phrase the Prime Minister repeated endlessly on Thursday.

He's dead right once again. We were in Christchurch last week, and there had certainly been a mood change from our last visit in March, although our friend Tinman may beg to differ. People were very much on edge as the aftershocks continued. That had to impact on the government's considerations, and it manifested itself in a huge effort last weekend to tie up so many loose ends.

This is a lengthy piece by John Armstrong, but it's well worth a read in its entirety. We felt that Brownlee looked quite poorly on Thursday at the announcement; we reckon that the strain of the last nine months was showing. And that is unsurprising, for a number of reasons.

On Thursday, before the Christchurch announcement Tracy Watkins wrote a piece about Gerry Brownlee which is well worth a read on its own merits. She closed her piece thus:

As a local MP, for Ilam, he is not untouched by many of the same issues - his house was damaged in the first earthquake on September 4, but he has refused to talk about it.

Even now, as he prepares to deliver the news to people wanting to know whether their home stays or goes, he refuses to say which category his own home falls into, other than to say it is still standing.

"Look, I've just put all that on the back burner. There are a lot of other people that have got big issues. We don't and we have somewhere else to live. So I'm just not worrying about it at the present time."

That Brownlee is not trying to garner sympathy from his own plight is the mark of the man. Family members live close to Brownlee, and have told us that the state of his home is rather like a word made famous by Bob Parker. But Brownlee, as much as any MP in the House knows exactly what Christchurch people are going through, and he deserves the plaudits that John Armstrong has given him this morning. But he's still got an enormous challenge ahead of him.

Is Cactus Act's prickly solution? Part deux ...

We blogged a couple of weeks ago about rumours that Cactus Kate was about to become an Act candidate. Not all rumours come to fruition, but it seems that this one was well-founded - Audrey Young reports:

Cathy Odgers, the author of the acerbic website Cactus Kate, is expected to be approved today as an Act candidate - one of the reasons sitting MP Heather Roy is likely to today announce she will stand down at this year's election.

Cathy Odgers is a corporate lawyer who lives in Hong Kong.

She is back in New Zealand and this week attended a private surprise party for former leader Rodney Hide in his favoured Newmarket haunt, the Mecca cafe and bar.

This is about to get very interesting - read on:

Cathy Odgers' blog, Cactus Kate, has been scathing about people in the party she believed had been disloyal to Mr Hide and undermined his leadership.

However, after the coup in April, she called for the infighting to stop and for the party to unite behind Dr Brash.

Heather Roy backed Dr Brash's leadership coup against Mr Hide in April.

She had hoped to regain her position as deputy leader, which she held until the breakdown in her relationship with Mr Hide came to a head last year.

Heather Roy went out on a limb last year in her feud with Rodney Hide, and it has cost them both dearly. Neither will have a place in the next Parliament, it seems. On the other hand, Cathy Odgers will appeal to a different demographic; one with which Act has struggled to gain traction in the past:

Cathy Odgers is expected to address one of Act's weaknesses, its appeal to women and especially to young women.

Now, we've never had the pleasure of meeting Cathy in person, although we have had contact via social media a couple of times when a mutual acquaintence was in need of help. She doesn't suffer fools, but is intelligent and articulate as some of her blog-posts on financial matters have demonstrated. One of Act's traditional problems has been its inability to clearly communicate its message and vision to the electorate; could she be the one to do it?

She will of course have to bridge the gap between blogger and political aspirant, and as Trevor Mallard has shown in recent times, that can be a challenge. We'll close with a few quaotes that Audrey Young has found which may not endear Ms Odgers to some of her colleagues:

Cactus Kate:

* On Hilary Calvert, list MP, after she responded to outrage over caged chickens by saying Act cared about people ahead of "silly little chickens":

Earth to Act - Throw Calvert Overboard!!!

I just can't take it any more. What barrel did Act scrape to find this mad woman?

I personally cannot wait to rank my Act Party list candidates. Calvert will not be on my list at all. Another piss poor quality female candidate #fail. Little wonder we have to revert to grumpy old men.

* On John Banks:

Banks is just awful. He makes you want to consider voting Len Brown. Two-time losing mayoral candidate Banks is political desperation at its finest ... his political philosophy isn't even close to Act's.

* On Don Brash:

Brash will not survive to this November unless the party is staunchly united behind him like we've never been behind any leader before and he is managed by some sort of political genius.

Interesting times await the Act Party, anmd we wish Cathy every success in the apparent new phase of her life. One thing is guaranteed; it's not going to be dull!

Hign noon in TTT

The voters in the Te Tai Tokerau by-election go to the polls today. The Electoral Act is quite specific about what one can and cannot do on polling day, so we won't be mentioning any of the candidates until later.

As fate would have it, we're out tonight at a social function, so we will not in all probabi;lity be around when the result is announced. We wish all the candidates well; may democracy prevail.

Comments are closed for this post, and others in recent days which mention today's by-election. Please respect our wish to obey the law, and do not try to circumvent by commenting on an unrelated post.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"What about the uninsured?"

We've put the title in quotation marks because, in various forms, that is one of the clamours coming from a number of groups and individuals in response to the Government's earthquake announcements yesterday.

It's a vexed issue. On one hand, it's hard not to feel sorry for anyone who is facing the loss of their home, or a substantial repair bill. On the other hand, no home-owner should be uninsured.

Gravedodger visits here regularly. He made this comment yesterday at Homepaddock (our emphasis added):

In middle age, with cash flow issues, facing the annual insurance roll-over I would muse on self insurance and concluded if I had started early and obtained insurance quotes, placed the equivalent premium in a managed fund would I have been ahead or behind.

It was always too late, the lower risk of total loss had passed by.

When we had a total loss house fire in 1990 I never revisited the subject again as having the luxury of the support and the expertise of NZI to manage our little disaster was worth a lot more than the premiums we had paid over the years.

Some larger organisations self insure and with the statistics and the law of averages on side it works but for joe and josephine average a good dollop of luck would be needed to get away with it.

When our spawn entered the property market we breathed a sigh of relief as the lender ensures the asset is insured and the mortgage required the responsibility to be met and compulsory saving was achieved.

It is so easy when the baubles overcome discipline but anyone who “saves” money on minimising or ignoring insurance they are fools with honours.

Gravedodger's story should be a salutory lesson to anyone without household insurance. A tragedy can strike at any moment.

Others see it differently. Over at The Standard, Anthony Robins blogs:

The government needs to do better on the issue of the uninsured. The cost of the buy out offer is currently estimated to be between $485 million and $635 million. Compare that with $1.6 Billion for the SCF bailout. I don’t see that an uninsured resident of Avonside is any less deserving of government help than an investor in a dodgy finance company.

In comments on various forums about the place I see some fairly strong anti-Christchurch sentiment emerging. “Stop complaining and take the deal”. “It’s your fault you’re not insured”. That sort of thing. As always the nasty underside of New Zealand society is never very far from the surface. As if the residents of the shattered suburbs didn’t have enough to cope with already…

We disagree wholheartedly with AR's comments about a "nasty underside", and have commented as follows:

AR; there’s nothing nasty about those who have taken the sensible precaution of insuring their homes being unhappy if uninsured people get bailed out. What is the point of paying insurance premiums if the government is going to come along and clean up afterwards? To not insure your most significant non-human asset is negligent; probably grossly so.

We reckon that if you own a house, it's foolishness in the extreme not to insure it, and its contents. Even for those on a limited income, insurance should be budgeted for in the same way as mortgage payments; a high priority spend, not an add-on from what remains. Most banks require proof of insurance before a mortgage is drawn down, but all too often, home-owners let the insurance slip, with often catastrophic effect. Perhaps three needs to be a better interface between the banking and insurance industries to ensure that insurance is maintained on properties partly owned by the bank.

That's not to say that we don't feel some pity for those who have suffered a total, uninsured loss. But ought the government bail those people out to the extent of the loss, or should the individual have to wear some of the loss? This will doubtless become an issue as time passes.

We are certain that the John Key-led government is not without compassion, but on the other hand, the pantry is bare, and with estimates now that the total cost of the earthquakes is going to exceed $25 billion, there will be many demand on the government. We reckon that this is an area where the government will be targetted by those who excel in spending Other People's Money.

What do YOU think?

This Sporting Life - 24 June 2011

It's Friday again, thank goodness; it's been a busy week. And it's a big weekend for Super Rugby.

The Blues vs Waratahs match tonight in Auckland should be the game of the weekend. The two sides are pretty evenly matched, and it may come down to a moment of magic or a bounce of the ball to decide who gets another run next week, and whose season ends tonight. The Blues looked pretty efficient against the Highlanders last week, and we'll tip them to win in a cliffhanger.

The Crusaders vs Sharks match in Nelson tomorrow night should still be a cracker, between two teams who like to move the ball around. But it's a long way from the tropical humidity of Durban (even in the winter) to Nelson with a southerly blowing through. The Sharks only arrived in town yesterday, and jetlag may also be a factor. It's hard to see any other result than a comfortable Crusaders win here.

The Warriors' season is on the line when they front up against the Melbourne Storm in Auckland on Sunday. Ironically, it was against the Storm in Mebourne that the Warriors' season got a spark on Anzac Day, but after three straight losses, that seems like a long time ago. A second win against the Storm would do wonders for the team's morale, but Melbourne is a class outfit, and we're not optimistic.

What else? Wimbledon heads into the money week, with no major surprises so far. Marina Erakovic did well to reach Round Two; well done. The Under-17 All Whites are still in with a chance of making the knockout round at their World Cup, and the New Zealand Under-20 rugby team is poised for a fourth consecutive world championship; they play England in the final on Monday morning (NZ time).

Have we missed anything? Doubtless you'll correct us if we have. Meanwhile the floor is, as ever, yours...

There's no business like snow business

In the knick of time, the white, flaky stuff has arrived just up the road - the Dom-Post reports:

Snow has started falling at Mt Ruapehu at last, just in time for Ohakune's season-opening Mardi Gras.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts marketing manager Mike Smith said snow began falling around mid-afternoon yesterday.

"It's pumping; there's about six or seven centimetres on the ground at the car park on the Whakapapa side of the mountain.

"We probably have 10 to 15cm on the upper slopes near Knoll Ridge and also over on the Giant."

Temperatures had dropped to 1 degree Celsius at Ohakune and snow was falling at Turoa skifield.

RAL management will meet today to decide whether to open the skifield tomorrow.

Turoa and Whakapapa were scheduled to open tomorrow, but a lack of snow (until yesterday) saw that pushed back to next weekend. Now the RAL team might be mobilising the troops and getting some of the runs up and running tomorrow after all.

There's good reason to; the Ohakune Mountain Mardi-Gras takes place tomorrow, and there's likely to be an influx of visitirs to the town. Obviously the skifield guys will be keen to entice a few punters up Mountain Road for their first slide down the mountain of the new season.

The ski industry is an important part of the economy for a number of Central North Island towns. The arrival of the white stuff will have been greeted with much enthusiasm. CNI residents and businesspeople will doubtless be sparing a thought for their southern brethren though, and keeping their fingers crossed that they too will be blessed with a decent dumping of snow.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Christchurch response

The Government has just made its first announcement with regard to assistance for those affected by the Canterbury earthquakes. The Herald summarises the government's response:

The Government has confirmed that 5000 Christchurch houses are so severely damaged they are unlikely to be rebuilt for a "considerable" time.

Residents in the areas of Christchurch deemed too damaged to live face a choice about their future, Prime Minister John Key said.

He said the Government would offer to buy out their homes at the value on their rating bill.

People should consult with their banks and insurers over to sell their home, he said.

Christchurch has been zoned into four zones based on the scale of earthquake damage suffered.

Those in the red and orange zones, with severly damaged land and homes, would learn their fate today, Mr Key said.

Other in zones labeled green and white would not learn the future of their homes from today's announcement, he said.

"While I may not be able to answer every question residents have about their future today I do believe we have made significant progress."

Mr Key said Treasury has put the cost of the first two Christchurch quakes at $15 to $20 billion.

That cost is "enormous" when compared to New Zealand GDP, he said.

"But the Government remains firmly committed to rebuilding Christchurch and that commitment remains firm."

Some people will be relieved by today's announcements; others will have had more questions raised than they have had answered. Given the ongoing earthquakes, it's difficult for anyone to have certainty at the moment.
John Key has also announced the setting up of a website by CERA - - a website which shows which areas of Christchurch land have been assessed as beyond rebuilding.

Nothing that the government does is ever going to please everyone. We believe however that this afternoon's announcements is going to give red-zone home-owners options, and a degree of certainty; they can now start to consider their future options. The challenge now will be for the government to keep up the momentum to address the concerns of those homeowners in the orange and white zones. At least the money is there, having been appropriated in Budget 2011.

The scale of the Canterbury earthquakes is enormous, and the government estimates that the cost will end up somewhere between 8 and 10% of New Zealand's GDP; a huge financial burden. That's a burden the impact of which will be felt for many years to come. On the other hand, many industries will benefit as Christchurch rebuilds.

As regular commenter Tinman has noted, the majority of Christchurch is still open for business, and life continues pretty much as normal. Let's hope that this is the first step in a process that will see the whole of Christchurch up and running as it was at lights-out on 3 September 2010.

Caption Contest - Step Right Up!

Right; from the outset, we declare that this is not original; the photograph has been filched from Gotcha, where WhaleOil is running a similar caption contest.

But we're sure that you'll agree (well, most of you), that original or not, this picture is just too good NOT to use; you can't make stuff like this up.

Go on; give it your best shot. You know the rules; brief, pithy, humourous, and not personal. Oh, and Robert; stick to the subject mate!

The floor is yours ...

Hone: how not to win friends and influence people

Hone Harawira's loose lips have let him down again - the Herald reports:

Maori Party candidate Solomon Tipene sent an apology to a Te Tai Tokerau byelection debate last night because he was in hospital.

This prompted Mana candidate Hone Harawira to accuse his former Maori Party colleagues of "bulls*** tactics".

In response, Labour candidate Kelvin Davis said Mr Harawira was throwing a "tantrum" that did a disservice to the hui, organised by primary teachers' union NZEI Te Rui Roa.

Mr Harawira was late arriving at the West Auckland venue. Then he let rip to the audience that he was up against two former teachers - his former Maori Party colleague, Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell, and Mr Davis.

Mr Flavell filled in because Mr Tipene was in Whangarei Hospital on antibiotics for a stomach ailment, party co-president Ken Mair said.

To a stunned crowd, Mr Harawira said Mr Flavell and co-president Pem Bird could have called him to let him know the change of plans.

"I don't like these sort of bulls*** tactics ... It's supposed to be a debate for the candidates ... but now I am up against a teacher and a teacher.

"I'm driving [from Kaitaia] because I don't have any money to do it any other way.

If I'd known this was the deal I would have brought my missus. Why? Because she's a tumuaki [principal].

Oh dear; there goes the teacher vote! NZEI organises a hui for the Te Tai Tokerau candidates and Harawira is both late and insulting towards the profession. He won't have won any friends.

As for the moaning about not having any money, perhaps Harawira should have taken that into account before resigning as an MP to force a needless by-election. After all, he has enjoyed almost six years of an MP's salary and expenses. And he will have been only too aware of the cost of travel because he has been one of the highest-spending MP's in that regard, an accolade which he defended because of the size of his electorate, and the amount of travel required. If he has failed to budget, he has no-one to blame but himself.

Hone Harawira is a loose cannon. We will be delighted if he finishes second in the Te Tai Tokerau by-election on Saturday. Vote Kelvin Davis for TTT!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

UPDATED: Twittering for a scoop

Not surprisingly, there is much media interest in announcements to be made in Christchurch tomorrow in the wake of the September, February and June earthquakes. In fact there's so much interest by the media that some practitioners have gone to Twitter to solicit stories; here are a couple of examples we've noticed just in the last few minutes:

ZB Online Editor
In Chch? Been contacted by authorities ahead of tomorrow's announcement about quake-damaged suburbs? Email us -

Retweeted by and others

Patrick Gower
If you're in ChCh andbeen contacted by authorities ahead of damaged suburbs announcement tomorrow please email on

Now, we took some stick last week when we were critical of NZ Herald journo's seeking an inside story on the young Kings College student who died in mysterious circumstances. We stand by that criticism. And what we are seeing today is just as bad.

For several weeks now we have been told how traumatised many of the residents of Christchurch's eastern suburbs are. Tomorrow, the government and CERA may or may not make announcements which will significantly impact on them and of theirs and their families futures. And right now, journalists are shouldering one another aside to be first with the scoop.

We acknowledge that journalists have a job to do. But is this the way they should be going about it? How about a bit of compassion for people who may find tomorrow that they have to up sticks and move because their houses on the land on which they stand are no longer habitable. And couldn't they maybe be a bit more discrete about it?

Emotions will be raw tomorrow. That, of course, makes for great TV and radio stories. But isn't preserving human dignity more important, maybe for one day, than tabloid TV?

UPDATE: Not to be outdone, The Herald joins the clamour:

Do you live in Christchurch and have you been contacted by authorities ahead of the damaged suburbs announcement tomorrow?
Email the Herald Newsdesk

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker though is much more measured (our emphasis added):

Christchurch residents need to be treated with respect in the aftermath of tomorrow's announcement on the future of their homes, Mayor Bob Parker says.

Earlier today, the Government confirmed the update tomorrow on the land left uninhabitable by Christchurch's earthquakes.

Those in areas scheduled for demolition and rebuilding would not be expected to move away from their homes immediately, Mayor Parker said.

"We have to figure out how to take a humanitarian approach to one of the biggest crises New Zealand has ever faced.

"We will handle people with the utmost respect."

It's ironic that the paragraphs we have just quoted follow straight on from the Herald's request for informants. Personally, we reckon that Bob Parker has it dead right.