Monday, December 31, 2012

The Herald on Sir Paul Holmes

Today's NZ Herald has a glowing editorial on the conferring of a knighthood to veteran broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes. It begins thus:

The belated inclusion of a knighthood for Paul Holmes makes this year's Honours List something very much out of the ordinary. No one could say, however, that the accolade is not totally merited. During his five decades in broadcasting, which ended earlier this month because of poor health, he never received his due. Now, finally, he has received a recognition more than warranted by his place in the pantheon of New Zealand broadcasting.
Sir Paul entertained New Zealanders in his own quirky manner, challenged them and occasionally offended them. His phenomenal longevity owed much to a talent for recognising the major issues facing the country and articulating them effectively to all parts of society. His perceptive interviewing was another particularly strong suit.
This exceptional range of ability led him at one time to host both the country's leading early morning radio and evening television programmes on the same day. Hosting just one of these would have placed him at the forefront of broadcasting. The extent of that achievement resonates more now than it did at the time, as does the way in which he became the face of TV One during virtually any important live broadcast.

His departure has left a hole simply because he contributed so much to this country's national life during a career that set a new benchmark.

This is indeed a most generous editorial from the Herald, notwithstanding that Sir Paul Holmes contributes a weekly column to the paper. But the Herald's response is far more generous than some of those who have vented their spleen on Twitter or on a few blogs today.

We're by no means the head of the Paul Holmes Fan Club, but our opinion of him has softened markedly this year. We have come to enjoy his Saturday morning radio programme when we have been at the office on weekends. We love the friendly, conversational style, and have listened to some wonderful interviews; none better than the one with Henare O'Keefe from Flaxmere about which we blogged earlier in the year.

Sir Paul Holmes is not a well man. In all probability, he is far more ill than he has been letting on. A knighthood is a just reward for a long career in broadcasting, as well as for his efforts in recent years to fight the Methamphetamine epidemic in New Zealand. That he stared down the Headhunters gang and survived may yet end up as one of his most notable achievements.

We add our congratulations to those of the Herald's leader writer, and to the many other messages of support that Sir Paul has received today. New Zealand radio and television will not be the same without him.

UPDATE: Dr Brian Edwards blogs similar sentiments:

Well, the rest really is history. Paul would become a seminal influence in New Zealand broadcasting. He would change the landscape. Though many fine broadcasters preceded him, he was our first real ‘star’. And, in that sense of the word that suggests Hollywood and glittering lights and show dancers and  theme music and Emmys and Oscars and your name on the pavement of Hollywood Boulevard, he may well be only real star that our small nation has as yet produced.
As the inevitable corollary perhaps, he has also been our most controversial broadcaster, a polariser of public opinion. In a sense his very fame may have served on occasion to deny him the respect that his intellect, his extraordinary talent, his humanity and generosity required. He was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit some years ago, but the truth of the matter is that most Kiwis have very little idea of what our New Zealand awards mean. Paul’s knighthood changes all that. It is the ultimate expression of the country’s respect for a truly great broadcaster and communicator.
One must be careful not to write in the past tense. This is the guy who holds the New Zealand record for near-death experiences. To all today’s accolades, add ‘survivor’.

Well said.

Tweet of the Day - 31 December 2012

Equestrian ironman, the ageless Mark Todd has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year's Honours List. That has prompted this double-banger from Eventing New Zealand:

Congratulations Sir Mark Todd; tougher than Chuck Norris indeed!

And for anyone interested, here's the link to the This is your Life episode, the very first New Zealand version hosted by Bob Parker many moons ago. It's a great piece of nostalgia.

New Year's Honours

The New Year's Honours List has been released. The full list can be viewed here.

Two Dames and seven Knights have been created, each deserving in their own way. We will look at some of the individual honours later in the day, but our sincere congratulations are extend to Dame Judith Potter, Dame Wendy Pye, Sir Owen Glenn, Sir Robert Harvey, Sir Paul Holmes, Sir Mark O'Regan, Sir Julian Smith, Sir Mark Solomon and Sir Mark Todd.

Once again, our name was missing from the list, so we will have to wait a while longer! Seriously though, all those who have been honoured by the Queen at the conclusion of her Jubilee Year are deserved recipients of whatever title has been bestowed upon them.

New Year's resolutions

It's that time of the year when people make New Year's resolutions, which often they know in their heart of hearts that they won't keep; like these:

Our New Year's resolution this year is to not make New Year's resolutions! We will be setting some personal and some business goals for 2012, but they will be based on reason. They will be SMART goals; specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

We've been working with a business professional over the last few months to build a strategic framework both for our businesses and for SWMBO and ourselves as individuals. We reckon that we have a far better chance of achieving them than achieving some feel-good idea plucked out of the ether at New Year. We've made a lot of progress this year, and that has to continue throughout 2013 to make our businesses even stronger and more sustainable in the long term.

That's what works for us, but we freely concede that it might not work for everyone. So feel free to let the blogosphere know what is important to you in 2013, be it a resolution, a goal, or some other form or target or plan.

No more Mr Cricket

Michael "Mr Cricket" Hussey has announced his impending retirement; Cricinfo reports:

Michael Hussey has left the cricket world wondering why he is retiring, rather than why not. In the midst of one of his most productive summers and with his place in the team completely beyond question, Hussey, 37, will end his international career at the conclusion of the Australian summer, meaning the New Year's Test against Sri Lanka in Sydney will be his last.
It was a decision Hussey revealed he had all but made before the season began, and needed only a waning desire for the looming tours of India and England to confirm it. Known universally as "Mr Cricket", this most intense and diligent Australian batsman could not find his usual enthusiasm for the 2013 schedule, and so will exit the game on top. The hole left by Hussey's loss to the Australian batting line-up, fielding circle and dressing room is incalculable. 
"I've known for a while that I probably wanted to finish at the end of the Australian summer," Hussey told ESPNcricinfo. "I just wanted to see how I felt throughout he summer and my feelings hadn't really changed. I was looking ahead to the India series and the Ashes and I didn't have the same excitement or buzz about the challenges ahead.
"So I knew I was making the right decision because I knew my heart wasn't 100% in spending that amount of time away from home and being excited about the challenges that are going to come forward. Not very many players get to leave on their own terms, so I'm very fortunate in that respect.
"It's not so much a decision about how I'm playing, I still feel like I'm playing well. But it's more to do with everything else around the game, time away from home, the constant travel, the constant training, the constant pressures and stresses involved with international cricket as well, that eventually they take their toll on you." 

Michael Hussey was a late bloomer. Although it feels as though he has been around forever, he didn't make his international debut until he was 30; a testament to the strength of the Australian side of the mid-2000's. But the apprenticeship he had served in domestic cricket paid immediate dividends. After two years of test cricket, his batting average was in the mid-80's, and he was the fastest player ever to score his first 1000 test runs. Even today, his average sits comfortably above the magic 50 mark.

Hussey is confident that there is enough depth in Australian cricket for him to slip quietly away. We are not so sure. Players of the standing of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are not replaceable overnight; look how long it has taken Australia to recover from the respective retirements of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Hussey is being typically modest in understating his value to Australian cricket, especially as the test side prepares for back-to-back Ashes series.

Because his retirement was announced almost simultaneously with the death of Tony Greig, Michael Hussey has slipped under the radar somewhat. Hussey's surprise announcement has barely had a mention.

Michael Hussey and Tony Greig will both leave huge voids by their retirement and death respectively. But as the fans at Sydney salute Michael Hussey when he plays his final test there starting on Friday, we somehow doubt if they appreciate just how large that void will be.

Have a long and successful retirement Mr Cricket; it is supremely earned.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Kim Dot-Who?

We've long thpought that Kim Dotcom had a very high opinion of himself. But comparing himself to Jesus?


Goal of the Half-Season?

Arsenal thrashed Newcastle United at Emirates this morning. After three times taking the lead, and three times having Newcastle come back to equalise, the Gunners broke away in the last half hour to win 7-3; their fourth Barclay's Premiership win in succession.

And in doing so, Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick, saving his best for last; check out this brilliamt solo effort:

Goal of the 2012-13 season to date? You be the judge...

Matt the Oracle; yeah right

Matt McCarten will never make it as a fortune teller. In his list of MP's who need to lift their games he predicts:

1. John Key: This year has finished him. His evasiveness over Kim Dotcom, his shonkiness over the SkyCity casino deal to give more pokies for a convention centre, his weakness managing his ministers and his forgetfulness on details of his job is starting to form real doubts that he's on top of his job. We like nice guys but we expect them to know what they're doing. This is the year he became a two-term prime minister.

And yet in the same issue of the Herald on Sunday, they run the results of the Key Research/Herald poll. In addition to showing National with a clear advantage over a Labour/Green alliance, and NZ First missing out altogether, the HoS reveals:

Prime Minister John Key continues to enjoy unmatched favour in the Key Research- Herald on Sunday poll: 59.8 per cent of eligible voters nominate him their preferred leader. 

Yes, dear readers. Support for John Key as Prime Minister is as strong as ever, even though he has had a bugger of a year. National's support in the HoS poll was a whisker under 47%, so large numbers of Green, Labour and NZ First voters prefer Key ahead of anything that their own parties can offer up.

So here's our end-of-year advice to Matt McCarten; don't give up your day job, and concentrate on the important things, like paying your tax on time. If being supported by almost 60% of the country "has finished him", what does that say for either of Labour's Davids, Russel Norman, Metiria Turei or Winston Peters?  


More on Tony Greig...

We just found this interview with Tony Greig. It's recent; on the first day of the first test between Australia and South Africa at the 'Gabba just last moth; the traditional first day of Australia's summer of international cricket; here 'tis:

And when, at the 4:55 mark Mark Nicholas says to Tony Greig "There's an empty feeling without you...", he speaks for the whole cricketing world.

Men behaving badly...

Who said that we only had a problem with the youth booze culture in this fine country of ours? The Herald reports:

Former All Black hardman Keith Robinson bashed an older man and pelted him with bottles after a boozy "man-cave tour" turned violent.
Robinson has admitted a charge of injuring with intent to injure for the attack which witnesses said left a man unconscious and bleeding outside the Palace Hotel in Te Aroha.
His lawyer Moana Dorset said Robinson was "really bummed" and took full responsibility for the attack.
Robinson will reappear in the Hamilton District Court next month for sentencing.
The attack happened after a group of around 50 men had been on a "man-cave" tour of several properties around Te Aroha on December 9.
Facebook pictures on the Palace bar's website show the group in a large bus, all dressed in black singlets, touring homes where they played poker, threw kegs of beer around a lawn and drank beer through a funnel, played drinking games and shot guns before returning to the Palace Hotel.
The website described the outing as a "man cave tour".
After they returned to the Palace Hotel, Robinson, a 1.97m, 116kg former rugby player, became involved in a verbal altercation with a much smaller, older man.
The man was said to be about 1.65m and about 50 years old.
A witness said Robinson pushed the man and punched him in the face. Robinson is also accused of throwing full bottles at the man, a Te Aroha local, as he tried to leave the bar.
Robinson appeared in the Hamilton District Court on December 20. He is due to reappear on January 29.
Dorset last night said: "He's sorry, he's really bummed about what happened. If he could take it all back he would. He told police he would plead guilty at the first opportunity and that's what he did."

It's good that Keith Robinson has taken responsibility for his booze-fuelled anger, and even better that he hasn't tried to hide behind name suppression.

But it is clear from the story that Robinson has a booze problem; read on:

Yesterday, many Te Aroha residents closed ranks and refused to talk about the incident involving the town's most famous son.
One said: "When [Robinson] isn't drinking and he's straight, he's all good."
Two local men who knew Robinson from his involvement with the local rugby team said: "Once he has had a couple of beers in him he gets really competitive."
An acquaintance of the man who was attacked said that he had suffered facial injuries, but was making a good recovery. "He's a nice guy, he didn't deserve that."

Violence is never OK. And all too often, violence results from blokes who should know better drinking too much.

Youth drinking gets much of the media attention, and perhaps youth are an easy target. But this is a serious example of a grown man with a skinful behaving very badly indeed. Keith Robinson has consequences to face, including the very real threat of a prison sentence for a serious outburst of violence. There's a lesson there somewhere along the lines of "It's now the drinlking; it's HOW we're drinking".

RIP Tony Greig

Former England cricket captain and Channel Nine commentator Tony Greig has died. Tributes are flowing from around the cricketing world, but this one from former England off-spinner Vic Marks describes the man perfectly:

Think Tony Greig, think Kerry Packer. The two names are indelibly linked. Yet there is another link in this chain that can easily be forgotten. Why was Greig, who died on Sunday at the age of 66, sought out by Packer to be at the forefront of World Series Cricket in 1977? Because he was one of the most charismatic and gifted cricketers on the planet.
Packer's intervention, which was regarded by many as a cataclysm at the time, has tended to dwarf just how good a cricketer Greig was. In the end the figures don't lie. In 58 Tests for England – and there obviously could have been many more – Greig scored 3,599 runs at 40 and took 141 wickets at 32, which does not compare too badly with Ian Botham (5,200 runs at 33 and 383 wickets at 28) or Andrew Flintoff (3,845 at 31, 226 at 32).
Somehow it is a surprise that we should find him in this same bracket as Botham and Flintoff. He was surely too gangly to be a great batsman and his bowling too bland to trouble Test players. But behind the bluster here was an intelligent, streetwise cricketer at his most formidable when the challenge was at its most extreme.
When he scored a brilliant hundred at the Gabba on the 1974-75 tour of Australia he signalled his own boundaries off Dennis Lillee. This was a provocative act, not always appreciated by his colleagues ("Please don't make him mad," pleaded Derek Underwood at the other end). My guess is that Greig's histrionics did indeed rile Lillee somewhat (actually there is not much guesswork involved here); they made Lillee bowl shorter; they made him lose control. This was brilliant theatre from Greig; it was also shrewd tactics.
In Calcutta, in 1976, Greig was capable of scoring a seven-hour hundred at a strike rate way below the norm for Jonathan Trott while keeping 80,000 spectators entertained in the process. Greig wooed the Indians; they loved it when he fell to the ground poleaxed after a firecracker had been let off. Such adulation eased the path of his team around the subcontinent. Under his leadership that series was won 3-1.
Greig could bat all right. And he was a successful bowler, but more through force of personality than any intrinsic venom. He could swing the ball and, even though he did not make full use of his height, the odd delivery would bounce more than expected. But it was when he improvised with his off-breaks that he had the most remarkable success. In Port of Spain in March 1974 he took 13 wickets and therefore contrived to square a series against West Indies that England seemed bound to lose. Geoffrey Boycott scored 211 runs in that match and wryly observed that he and Greig had kept Mike Denness in his job as England captain.
But by 1975 Greig had taken over from Denness and he would captain England 14 times. Ask any of his team-mates and they speak of an inspirational captain. None of them has a bad word to say about him and the testament of a dressing room is as reliable as it gets. Of course Greig could raise hackles. There was the run-out of Alvin Kallicharran in Trinidad, which might have terminated that tour of 1973-74 rather abruptly if the diplomats had not got to work overnight.
There was the "grovel" remark, a rare occasion when Greig's PR had disastrous consequences. In half a sentence he managed to galvanise West Indies' tourists of 1976 to even greater resolve. Usually Greig manipulated the press brilliantly. He never shied away from a microphone and he could dictate the news agenda with easy charm. He understood how the media operated and how they could be used to his advantage far better than the current England setup.
And, of course, there was Packer. It took balls to forsake the England captaincy and to take on the establishment, but it was already apparent from his exploits on a cricket field that he had big ones. Greig often protested that he enlisted with World Series Cricket for the greater good. He was also candid enough to admit that he was able to secure his family's future by taking the plunge and aligning with Packer. He procured a job for life with Channel Nine in Australia and younger cricket fans will be more familiar with Greig's ever-enthusiastic commentary than his swaggering strokeplay.
In England he was branded a traitor. The venom seeped from the MCC establishment. In their eyes Greig's decision to join Packer was far worse than any subsequent defection by England cricketers on a South African rebel tour. Even though it transpired that the "Packer Circus" did not precipitate the end of the cricketing world after all, Greig was ostracised for decades.
There was a homecoming of sorts in the summer of 2012 when he was invited by the MCC to give their Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's. This was the last time I saw him.
He looked a little shackled by the format but he was clearly thrilled to be asked. He delivered a carefully chiselled speech, reading every word. But afterwards there was a forum conducted by Mark Nicholas. Once the question-and-answer session was under way Greig was at his best: instinctive, mischievous, funny, outspoken, enlightening and always engaging.
Greig was different to the run-of-the-mill professional. He was not just a better player than most; he was braver; he operated on a different level, fascinated by successful men beyond cricket; obviously he was prepared to challenge the status quo in a manner that most would never dare. Yet he was never aloof.
I made my debut in first-class cricket against his Sussex side in the Parks in April 1975 (I dropped him and he made a century, as it happens). More importantly I recall this Adonis of the cricketing world, who had just returned from Australia, a battered hero but one who would soon accede to the England captaincy. And I remember how he made time to chat away freely to us young, inconsequential students as if we were proper cricketers. That impressed us as much as the runs, the wickets and the golden locks.

And his Channel Nine "captain", Richie Benaud pays his own tribute:

Summer cricket-watching will not be the same without Tony Greig, With his passing, with Benaud's retirement and with the clock ticking on Bill Lawry the Channel Nine team is losing years of experience, and with it the banter which made it such good listening. The likes of Mark Nicholas, Mark Taylor and Ian Healy are not a patch on Benaud, Lawry and Greig.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of Tony Greig. We thank him for the many hours of cricketing pleasure that he has brought us over many, many years of following the great summer game. He will be sadly missed, and irreplaceable.

What's on your mind? 30 December 2012

Holidays are great, but so is coming home and sleeping in your own bed. We've had a very restful break, but now we're home, and we've already been reminded that there are chores to do!

Once again, it's open slather at Keeping Stock; a chance to vent your spleen, rant or rave about whatever is stopping you from being in holiday mode today. 2012 has less than two days to run; has it been a good year for you?

Roll up and have your say; the floor is yours, and all we ask is a modicum (modicum (Noun) A small quantity of a particular thing, esp. something considered desirable or valuable.) of respect for the views of others.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quote of the Day - 29 December 2012

This one's a lengthy one, but it is one that the likes of Mike Smith (former general secretary of the Labour Party; now Standard blogger and Shearer staffer, assorted Davids, Trevor Mallard, Clare Curran and Moira Coatsworth) need to read. That's because it should strike a note of deep concern for the party. Via The Standard, here 'tis:

Molly Polly 37
You see Mike, many Labour Party members and potential supporters are currently despairing of Labour.
Take my family gathering at Christmas for instance.
My extended whanau are on the whole favourable to Labour. I myself am a long serving LP member. Even had a crack as a candidate in a National stronghold many years back. There was no hope of winning but at least Labour supporters had someone to vote for! My kids (now adults) were brought up delivering LP pamphlets, helping at fundraising events and taking turns working on LP stalls at the markets.
At Christmas lunch the talk turned to politics. There has been a noticeable shift in my once staunch LP family members. Those under 40 are now Green Party members or supporters. Some voted that way at the last election or split their vote. My adult kids stood behind Labour, but they were faltering until Phil Goff lifted his game in the last few weeks and his heroic push at the end persuaded them to give both their votes to Labour.
Without exception, their support for Labour has now waned. They feel more in tune with the Greens and particularly their Leaders, Turei and Norman. They like their policies, they like what the Greens stand for. I doubt they will ever come back to Labour. Just like many of the friends.
Those over 40 at our family gathering said they were increasingly despondent with Labour. One of them over dinner said, “It feels like Labour is a train wreck about to happen, albeit in slow motion, and there is nothing we can do to stop it!”
He went on to say, ” We had Goff slowly inching his way to disaster in the last election…and now it feels like history is repeating itself. For Goff it was going to be a hard task to win as Key was still basking in undeserved public glory. But today the general public are beginning to see through Mr Nice Guy, and the Government, is in fact, a fucking train wreck. A perfect opportunity for Labour. But what do we have? A boring, uninspiring, insipid, bumbling Leader, who so far, is unable to display much confidence in Labour winning in 2014.”
For the first time in over 40 years as a Labour supporter I am questioning my political allegiance. The trouble is, I and my older family members, just as the younger ones already have, are warming towards the Greens. We like the way they vote for their leaders, we like the fact they have a man and woman co-sharing the leadership, we like the fact they speak up clearly about the economy, the environment, child poverty, health and education. We know what they stand for.
It’s hard for a Labourite like me. Loyalty runs deep. The hours and hours and hours of stuffing envelopes, walking the streets delivering pamphlets, phone canvassing 1,000′s of people and baking for fundraisers…all for the Labour cause. Deep in my heart I believe in the ethos that has always been Labour – fairness for all, social justice, equal rights, a living wage, etc.
But Labour has become unstuck. There was some light at the end of tunnel after the election with the leadership candidate meetings. What an inspiring process. We all knew which one was the winner. But the caucus knew better. We hoped to hell they were right. But it has become increasingly obvious they got it wrong Big Time despite the memberships’ gut feeling about who should have won the leadership.
Despite a good speech at Conference, it really was too little too late. And who believes that Shearer will run rings around Key in the election debates come 2014, or that he will even come close? And it’s not that we don’t want him to, it’s just that we can’t imagine he will as there has been, so far, no stirring off-the-cuff statements or passionate interviews that can convince us otherwise. And he has been Leader for over a year now.
So as you can see Mike, many of my whanau have lost faith in Labour. The younger ones of course have already departed, but for those of us who remain, we are struggling. We feel so dispirited that we can’t even face going to LEC meetings. When we do it feels like a charade…everyone pretending to be positive about Labour and the direction it is taking, but never a mention of the elephant in the room. We know we should attend more and speak our minds, but that is difficult to do when one’s MP is close to the Leader and is part of the ABC group.
For many of us it has got to the stage that even that person is not likely to get our vote at the next election, let alone the Party.
(I can’t believe I have actually written that last sentence…)
But back to our whanau Christmas gathering.
After the younger family members had gone skinny dipping in the sea (following one of the hottest Christmas Days on record)…us oldies came to the conclusion over the last dregs of wine, that unless a miracle happens (perhaps a full membership vote in February?) and/or Labour finds it’s mojo again, the chances of ditching Red for Green is now very much on the cards.

Labour insiders will probably dismiss Molly Polly's extended comment as just another attempt to destabilise David Shearer's grasp on the party's leadership. In our ever-humble opinion, they would do that at their peril.

What's on your mind - 29 December 2012

We're eating out then travelling today, in that order. Our brief sojourn is coming to an end, so we're taking the whanau out for brunch en route to the airport to fly north. We'll be home later this afternoon. We've had a very restful time, and SWMBO has done wonders for the Christchurch retail sector!

So once again, it's open slather at Keeping Stock; a chance to vent your spleen, rant or rave about whatever is stopping you from being festive today. You might like to reflect on your Christmas. We'd prefer that you didn't mention the cricket, but that's over to you.

Roll up and have your say; the floor is yours, and all we ask is a modicum (modicum (Noun) A small quantity of a particular thing, esp. something considered desirable or valuable.) of respect for the views of others.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Misleading headline of the Day - 28 December 2012

This award goes to the NZ Herald for this effort: Poll: Give Bain compo. Why do we describe this poll as misleading? Check this out:

The poll of 500 people was done amid fallout from the review by Justice Binnie. 

500 people does not a scientific poll make. Neither is a poll of 500 people especially statistically valid. 

However the result suits the NZ Herald's editorial stance on David Bain. That stance is that he should be compensated even though Justice Iain Binnie's report has been found to be erroneous in fact and in law, and even though Justice Binnie went beyond the brief given to him by former Justice Minister Simon Power in recommending compensation, which Binnie J was not asked to do.

It is not the job of the NZ Herald to dispense public money to David Bain when it is still far from conclusive that he is innocent of killing his family on the balance of probability, the test for compensation. Then again, David Fisher has backed Kim Dotcom as well, and is rumoured to be collaborating on a biography of the alleged internet pirate. Perhaps that tells us all we need to know.

In the meantime, let's go through the proper legal channels for Bain's compensation bid. Enough prominent legal figures have endorsed Judith Collins' cautious approach to this landmark case for us to reckon that the Minister is taking a responsible and considered stance.


Quote of the Day - 28 December 2012

Today's Quote of the Day comes from Judith Collins. Responding to Grant Robertson's criticism of a "blow-out" in the Diplomatic Protection Squad budget, Ms Collins hasn't minced words; check this out:

Duty minister Judith Collins said police had a budget of $1.4 billion a year so it was a small amount in the scheme of things, and police shouldn't have to put up with "nitpicking" comment around how they did their job.
"I would point out too there was in fact a Rugby World Cup during that financial year, there were a tremendous amount of dignitaries coming and going from New Zealand and, frankly, I would expect that the police should be allowed to get on with their job," she said.

Then comes the sting in the tail:

"There's also things such as the election, and the leader of the opposition at the time, Phil Goff, he needed to have the diplomatic protection squad with him - possibly to protect him from his own colleagues."


Now; about that back-story...

We hadn't consciously heard the phrase "back-story" until David Shearer burst onto the political landscape early in 2009. And what a back-story he brought with him; humanitarian aid worker, saviour to millions of starving children...

Chris Trooter has been looking beyond David Shearer's back-story however. Over at Bowalley Road and in a post entitled Who Is David Shearer? Revealing The Back-Story To The Back-Story Trotter blogs:

IT’S SURPRISING how little we know about David Shearer. For most of us, his sudden appearance among the contenders for Helen Clark’s vacated seat of Mt Albert was the first appearance he’d made upon the New Zealand political stage. For Mr Shearer, however, the 2009 Mt Albert By-Election was a case of third-time-lucky. He had already stood for the Labour Party twice before: the first time, in 1999, as a lowly ranked candidate on the Party List; and the second, in 2002, in the safe National seat of Whangarei.
Our ignorance of those earlier attempts is forgivable, however, because Mr Shearer has always been a political paratrooper. In contrast to the party foot soldiers who slog their way through the Big Muddy of branch meetings, canvassing exercises, billboard construction and pamphlet deliveries, rising through the ranks to fight the good fight on policy committees or the NZ Council, Mr Shearer’s preference has been to jump into parliamentary candidacies from a great height and out of a clear sky.
The reason for this top-down method of delivery is Mr Shearer’s remarkable back-story. It’s not many thirty-five year-olds who are named New Zealander of the Year, and even fewer are awarded an MBE by the British Government. Mr Shearer’s experiences delivering aid on behalf of the Save the Children Fund in war-torn Somalia were genuinely heroic. Here, as far as the rest of the world was concerned, was a genuine humanitarian. But, Mr Shearer’s back-story has a back-story of its own: an unusual and counter-intuitive fascination with armed force that raises many more questions than it answers.
Some political observers have drawn comparisons between Mr Shearer and his chief antagonist, Prime Minister John Key. The young Labour activist, Connor Roberts, summed up the pair’s similarities and differences with his now famous quip: “John Key went overseas and made fifty million dollars; David Shearer went overseas and saved fifty million lives.”
This focus on Mr Shearer’s and Mr Key’s “overseas” experiences has led many to assume that both men were out of the country during the pivotal years 1984-1993. In Mr Shearer’s case, however, this is untrue. For nearly the whole period of the Fourth Labour Government (1984-1990) he was here, in New Zealand, studying, teaching and consulting. If he was a Labour Party member at any time during those tumultuous years, then he was a very quiet one. He certainly wasn’t among the ranks of those who fought against Rogernomics. He has, however, often spoken to journalists about his admiration for David Lange’s speeches.
This inability to get worked up about the core elements of neoliberal “reform”: labour market flexibility; privatisation; deregulation; monetary and fiscal discipline; explains his rather odd belief (for a Labour leader) that the contest between Left and Right is “a phony debate”. Such ideological agnosticism – explained away as good old Kiwi pragmatism – does, however, offer us a way into the most unusual and contradictory aspect of Mr Shearer’s entire career: his support for mercenary armies, or, as they prefer to be known these days: private military and security companies (PMSCs).
It is possible to trace this thread all the way back to Somalia in 1992 where Mr Shearer headed up the relief effort of the Save the Children Fund. It is more than likely he enjoyed a close working relationship with the United Nations Mission in Somalia and would, therefore, have been aware of their appeal to the PMSC, Defence Systems Ltd (DSL) for 7,000 Ghurkha mercenaries to protect their relief convoys. In the end DSL turned them down, but it is clear that the notion of PMSC involvement in UN protection work (as opposed to soldiers provided by UN member states) made a deep impression on Mr Shearer.

This is a lengthy but nonetheless fascinating piece by Chris Trotter. We won't republish any more; it's his work. But we would commend it to you as being well worth the investment of a few minutes of your time today.

In less than 72 hours time it will be January 2013. That means that the Labour Party leadership contest in little over a month away. And if the dark forces of the Left such as Chris Trotter are continuing to put David Shearer under the microscope, it would seem that David Cunliffe's challenge for the leadership has yet to be finally nobbled, despite Mr Shearer's pro-active response to the Labour Party conference and its aftermath.

A fascinating six weeks or so awaits.

What's on your mind - 28 December 2012

For the second day running we have places to go and people to see today. Once again we're going to be out for most of the day; a trip to Ballantyne's and Restart Mall first, followed by a visit to North Canterbury.

So it's open slather at Keeping Stock; a chance to vent your spleen, rant or rave about whatever is stopping you from being festive today. You might like to reflect on your Christmas. We'd prefer that you didn't mention the cricket, but that's over to you.

Roll up and have your say; the floor is yours, and all we ask is a modicum (modicum (Noun) A small quantity of a particular thing, esp. something considered desirable or valuable.) of respect for the views of others.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Charity tourism

The Herald reports:

Auckland City Mission leaders say they were not aware of foreign tour groups at their Christmas lunch and have called for any "irresponsible" operator who may have sent one to offer a donation.
About 2800 people gathered at the Viaduct Events Centre on Tuesday for the charity lunch, with most guests arriving with tickets. About 200 people without tickets were let in after them.
TVNZ reported on Christmas Day that "a smattering of Chinese tourists on organised tours" had arrived, and showed city missioner Diane Robertson saying: "If somebody's turned up and is now looking at ... how we care for people, I'm not worried about that."
An outburst of concern followed online and on talkback radio. Several people said any such tour operators were taking advantage of Christmas charity.
Yesterday, Ms Robertson told the Herald she had been under the impression, when interviewed by TVNZ, that one South Korean visitor might have stumbled upon the lunch.
Ms Robertson said she had later heard - and only from the media - about a tour group possibly attending.
Volunteers had not reported anything and no sponsors had contacted her with concerns, she said.
But if any tour operator or cruise ship had sent groups to the lunch, it was irresponsible and she would wish they give money in return.
TVNZ showed footage of a table of about 10 older Asian people and its reporter attempting to speak to a woman.

Any tour operator who considers a Christmas lunch organised primarily for those with no-one to share the day with, or not enough food to have a decent kai has a distorted sense of what constitutes a tourist attraction. Sure; much of New Zealand is closed on Christmas Day, but charity tourism? No; that's just not right.

What's on your mind?

We have a series of people to catch up with today, so we're going to be out for most of the day.

So it's open slather at Keeping Stock; a chance to vent your spleen, rant or rave about whatever is stopping you from being festive today. You might like to reflect on your Christmas. We'd prefer that you didn't mention the cricket, but that's over to you.

Roll up and have your say; the floor is yours, and all we ask is a modicum (modicum (Noun) A small quantity of a particular thing, esp. something considered desirable or valuable.) of respect for the views of others.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tweet of the Day - 26 December 2012

Brian Edwards tweets:

There was criticism last year that people were abusing the generosity of the Auckland City Mission on Christmas Day. If a confirmed left-winger such as Dr Brian Edwards is sufficiently concerned by what he sees to report it in the public domain, one has to wonder whether this is not an isolated problem.

Christian organisations such as City Missions are seen as soft targets. We support the work of Wanganui's City Mission, but it too has been put through the wringer over the last couple of years.

And sadly, the end result is that the people who are in the greatest need are the ones who miss out.. But kudos to all those organisations that fed those less fortunate yesterday. Their concern and compassion makes our society a better place. They truly live out Jesus' words:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ 

Matthew 25: 34-40 (The Message)

Photo of the Day - 26 December 2012

Stuff has a column today entitled 2012's most nightmarish moments. And headlining the story is this rather unflattering picture of dumped Auckland Blues coach, Pat Lam.

Speaking of stinkers, one of our Wanganui readers might be able to tell us whether the pong disappeared for Christmas. As the mercury has risen in the last few days, it got far from pleasant.

PS: Pat Lam finished ninth on Stuff's list. Can Sir John Kirwan do any better?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Message

Bear Grylls is famous for his TV series Man versus Wild. Less well known is his Christian faith. But in this clip, he shares his faith at a Carol Service at Holy Trinity Brompton in London just a week ago. We reckon it's something just a little different to ponder this Christmas morning:

However you celebrate Christmas today, we pray that a little of the Christmas miracle that we believe in will touch you and those around you; after all, what is Christmas without Christ?

This will be our sole contribution to the blogosphere today; have a very merry and blessed Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Work is done, and we're off...

It's 3pm on Christmas Eve, and we are out of here. The doors of the shop have closed, the staff are leaving, and we have a plane to catch.

We're off to Christchurch again for a restful few days with the whanau (from both sides). She Who Must Be Obeyed has already been making some dark utterances about the Boxing Day sales which fill us with dread, but should have Christchurch's shop-keepers rubbing their hands with glee! Other than that, we have few plans for the week.

Blogging is unlikely to feature high on our list of priorities over the next few days unless something earth-shattering happens. There will be something Christmassy up tomorrow, but beyond that we're making no promises. If the Black Caps were to perform a Boxing Day miracle and win the T20 series in South Africa that may change our position, but we wouldn't bet the house on it.

So we will take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful and restful Christmas, however you choose to celebrate the day. We'll be off to church this evening somewhere in the city to celebrate the Christmas miracle, and we hope and pray that miracle touches you in some way as well. Thanks for stopping by during the year, and for those who take the time to comment (even with a contrary view to ours) we give you a special thanks.

Right; it's time to kick back and de-stress. Merry Christmas everyone!

Tweet of the Day - 24 December 2012

James McOnie from The Crowd Goes Wild notes Martin Guptill's man-of-the-match speech reference to an absent friend:

We can't help but wonder what Messrs Hesson and McCullum make of it all...


The Black Caps have recovered from their Durban thumping in the best possible way. Martin Guptill smashed a four through the covers off the last ball of the match to win the game for New Zealand, and to become just the second New Zealander to score an international T20 century. 

Guptill finished on 101 not out, from 69 balls with nine fours and six sixes in hot conditions; just days after being on a drip to rehydrate after a debilitating Suzy-bug. His was a superb effort, as were his words of support for dumped skipper and close friend Ross Taylor is his post-match interview. The Sky commentators might not be able to talk about the dramas of the last month, but it seems that no-one told Martin Guptill!

But this may have been the moment that turned the game; a stunning outfield catch from newcomer Jimmy Neesham:

After the disappointment of Durban, a credible performance today was an absolute must. To beat South Africa on their own dirt was a bonus. Here's hoping that they can carry this form on to the series decider on Boxing Day.

Not very festive...

The Otago Daily Times reports on community support for redundant Hillside workshops staff:

About $3000 worth of Christmas cheer is being delivered to redundant Hillside Engineering Workshops staff today and tomorrow in the form of 111 hampers.
More than 35 Dunedin businesses and individuals supplied food, toys, books, clothing and other items for the hampers, which were assembled at the Bill Fraser Lounge on Macandrew Rd, just a block from Hillside, yesterday.
Labour Party Dunedin South MP Clare Curran organised the Hillside hamper appeal to spread cheer among the almost 90 workers made redundant by KiwiRail.
She said community support had been ''overwhelming''.
Major donations were made by several businesses and organisations, and other
business operators supplied vouchers for the hampers. Hamper recipients will enjoy a range of chocolate products, jelly, instant pudding, tinned and packaged food, Christmas pudding, fruit mince pies, tomato sauce, instant coffee, beer and wine, T-shirts, pavlova, truffles, candy canes, cereal and toiletries.
Some hampers also contained woollen hats, while others included books and Christmas crackers.
Wrapped children's toys for boys and girls were also incorporated, having been donated in a Santa sack-sized lucky dip.
Tomorrow is the last day for 35 Hillside staff. Thirty finished on December 7 and another 20 will leave the facility once they have closed all but its foundry and heavy lift operations. 

OK; there are 111 hampers, but according to the ODT story, 85 staff are being, or have been  deemed as surplus to requirements. Add in the 20 staff who are being retained by the new owner of the foundry, and you have 105, so there are still six hampers to spare.

So why has one soon-to-be-redundant worker (February 2013) missed out? Check out this Facebook post from Dunedin List MP Michael Woodhouse:

If the allegations of discrimination on the basis of non-membership of a union and of political affiliation are true (and we stress the word "if"), that is not cricket. Donations have been collected from local businesses; we doubt that those donors were told that only union members would benefit.

In this season of goodwill to ALL men, women and MP's, we are happy to give Clare Curran the opportunity to respond, either by e-mail, or by leaving a comment. That is of course more than she did for us prior to the 2011 General Election when she summarily banned us from Red Alert for a pretty innocuous jibe at Phil Goff. She later falsely accused us of lying; an accusation that we were not given the opportunity to rebut. 

Clare Curran needs to remember that she has been elected to represent EVERY member of the Dunedin South electorate, not just those who share her political ideology. This is, if correct, very poor form from Labour's self-described communications expert.

Oh; Merry Christmas Ms Curran. Might we suggest some holiday reading?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Caption Contest - Phoenix edition

The Wellington Phoenix somehow stole a point from A-League leaders the Central Coast Mariners yesterday. The team also managed to score the first goal against CCM in four matches; the Mariners' defence has been watertight this season.

This picture may explain why:

You know the rules; keep 'em short, pithy, funny and on-topic, and don't get unnecessarily personal. In all other ways, you are only limited by your imagination.

Give it your best shot!

A one-judge stand

The Herald reports on a District Court judge who is bucking the trend:

A district court judge is waging a crusade from the bench to stop serious offenders being released back into the community.
At one sitting earlier this month, Judge Russell Callander sent four defendants back into the cells while making strong statements about the need to keep the public safe.
During the hearings at the Auckland District Court, Callander said bail was granted too readily and judges could not take any more chances.
"We are almost weekly now presented with ugly situations in court where violent offenders seek and obtain bail, only to return home to inflict either death or further grievous injury on the original complainant," Callander said.
"That strikes fear into the heart of any rational community, and indeed into the heart of any rational judge assessing risk issues on bail."
Callander is usually based in Tauranga but has been filling in at Auckland.
The four defendants who were subject to Callander's crack-down, who can't be named because it may influence pending court trials, were up on a range of offences.
One allegedly king-hit his partner, causing her to go blind in one eye.
Another allegedly robbed a jeweller's shop while high on meth, placing a shotgun to the owner's face.
The third was a recidivist burglar with 106 previous convictions facing a fresh charge of burglary.
The last was a man kicked out of a rehabilitation programme, resulting in breach of e-bail.
The defendants will contribute to a record high for the number of people spending Christmas in a remand prison.

We've known Russell Callander for near enough to 40 years, dating back to his lawyer days in Palmerston North, prior to his appointment to the bench. He is a man of absolute integrity, and in responding to community unease about the granting of bail, a judge in touch with public opinion.

Provided his decisions are within the constraints of the Bail Act, he is to be commended for his one-judge-stand to make the community just a little safer. May his dose of judicial activism be contagious.

Well done Judge Russell Callander.

Christian Music Sunday - 23 December 2012

Christmas Day looms ever closer. And with no further ado, here's one of our favourite contemporary Christmas songs:

May God be with you today, and throughout the Christmas period.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The caption says it all

We were promised adventurous, attacking cricket under Brendon McCullum's captaincy. Now the post-match talk from within the New Zealand camp is thus:

"We came here to play some aggressive cricket,'' New Zealand captain McCullum said, "but first things first we do have to do some fundamentals right to earn the right to be aggressive ... We got a couple of things we didn't get right.''

Brendon McCullum's side did more than "a couple of things" wrong this morning, and McCullum and Mike Hesson have a huge job to do to get the team to perform credibly during the rest of the South African tour. 

We desperately hope that the New Zealand side can turn things around; we still want them to succeed. But the signs this morning (or 21 December South African time; the day the world was tipped to end) are not promising. It is going to be a long and painful holiday period which will test our resolve. 

The caption on the photograph above really does say it all.

A time for faith

It's almost Christmas; one of the most significant dates on the Christian calendar. And at a time when Christians unite to celebrate the birth of Christ a number of Christian leaders have put their name to a statement on faith. It follows here in full; we hope that if you take a moment to read it, something may resonate with you:

Whether one is "religious" or not, everyone is a person of faith. If that sounds like a contradiction, the fact is that each one of us has faith, because faith is defined as having belief and trust in someone or something. It might be something intangible, but it is the trust we put into whatever motivates, inspires and gives us energy and vision.
Believing gives us meaning and a sense of our own identity. For Christians, it is faith in a loving, compassionate Creator God shown to us in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, born into our world and still present in the context of our own personal experience and religious tradition. Some others may put their faith in the satisfaction gained from such things as success, or relationships or power.
Many people say that they are not "religious" but they are "spiritual", and this is a recognition that life is more than just what we see. We are attracted to goodness and altruism. In our city of Auckland we all delight in the beauty of art and nature, and experience wonder and awe when we see deeds of great sacrifice and generosity and creativity. These express that beyond our rational thinking there is something great at work, something visionary that surpasses the reach of our human horizons.
Sometimes those who are spiritual but not religious can have good reason to be suspicious of organised religion. When Christians and people of other faiths fail to live up to our ideals of love and forgiveness we are not being true to what we proclaim. We may observe the letter, but not the spirit of what our faith is all about. Jesus warned against this when he spoke of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees whom he described as "whited sepulchres" - meaning looking good on the outside yet corrupt within. For Christian believers and the church as a whole, there is always room to grow as we reach towards the goodness and holiness of God.
One of the big questions in today's world is whether there is such a thing as truth, or whether everything is a matter of opinion. It is a profound question; part of the universal human search for truth that has engaged whole cultures, philosophies and sciences since the beginning of human history.
A glance at ancient history shows clearly how cultures in different parts of the world have sought answers to the fundamental questions, "Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life?" There was a common recognition that beyond human knowledge and understanding there is something transcendent - a reality beyond their limited vision and experience.
The answers to these questions decided the direction which people sought to give to their lives. They told their own creation stories about the origins and destiny of life, and they created gods to worship and appease that they believed represented the random forces of nature upon which their whole existence and survival depended. In the search for meaning beyond all these different understandings, there was a body of knowledge which may be judged the commonality or spiritual heritage of humanity.
In today's world, with all the amazing insights gained and uncovered by the sciences we, more than in any other age or culture, have discovered truths about what once was speculation. We apply rationality to what was superstition and mystery. Yet the search for meaning and purpose in life still lives on in the human heart.
This brings us to the matter of faith and reason, which comes especially into focus at Christmas when we celebrate the historical fact and the mystery of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. His birth, gospel teaching of grace and truth, and compassionate ministry, changed the course of human history forever.
Some with no religious faith may feel that there is an irreconcilable tension between faith and reason. From its very beginnings two thousand years ago in the person of Jesus Christ, Christianity was not an exclusive sect. Before his birth, people in that part of the world lived by the great theological or philosophical traditions of the Greek and Roman civilizations and the revelations given by God to the Jewish people. The rise of Christianity after the death and resurrection of Jesus was very public and its first adherents were Jews, Romans and Greeks. It was open to all and offered a rational account of God and of the creation and destiny of humanity which came to fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.
What is the relationship between divinely-inspired faith and human reason? One contemporary philosopher wrote that without reason, faith tends towards uninformed feeling, emotion and intuition. Reason without faith tends towards self-interest, personal and transient satisfactions and the absence of altruism.
We affirm the intellectual credibility of the Christian faith, and remind ourselves and others that human intelligence will never be fully satisfied except by God. The centuries-long procession of Christian thinkers, humanitarians, artists and scientists for whom faith and reason were central to their work is unequalled and unparalleled in its contribution to our civilisation. Naturally there have been problems along the way, as we are all flawed human beings prone to sin and greed. This is all the more reason to believe that co-operation and dialogue is essential nowadays, with many pressing issues facing humanity - ecology, peace and the co-existence of different peoples and cultures. It is vital that there is a clear and honest collaboration between Christians and followers of other religions and those who, while not sharing a religious belief, have a heart for the renewal of humanity.
We read in the gospels that Mary responded with great joy to the news that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus. So the words in the New Testament announcing the birth of Jesus are about joy. This was the message first preached in New Zealand on Christmas Day nearly 200 years ago. This is the true meaning of Christmas: God is willing to be found by us in our searching - God is with us and became like us in the person of the child who was Jesus, who came to redeem all of humanity.
In those places where people are dominated by fear and uncertainty the words, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour" (Luke 1:46-47) truly give us hope.
Joy and peace are the real gifts of Christmas, not expensive presents. We can communicate this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, with hospitality, reconciliation and forgiveness of past wrongs. The joy we give will certainly come back to us. We pray that the presence of the liberating joy and peace of God expressed in the birth of Jesus Christ will shine forth in all our lives and in our Auckland communities this season.


• Rev Dr Neville Bartle, National Superintendent, Church of the Nazarene.
• Rt Rev Ross Bay, Anglican Bishop of Auckland.
• Pastor Tak Bhana, Senior Pastor Church Unlimited.
• Rev Norman Brookes, Auckland District Superintendent, Methodist Church of New Zealand.
• Mr Glyn Carpenter, National Director, NZ Christian Network.
• Rev Murray Cottle, Regional Consultant, Auckland Baptist Churches.
• Pastor Paul de Jong, Senior Pastor, LIFE.
• Most Rev Patrick Dunn, Catholic Bishop of Auckland.
• Mr Peter Eccles, Auckland District Chairman, Congregational Union of New Zealand.
• Mr David Goold, on behalf of the Open Brethren Churches.
• Pastor Mike Griffiths, National Leader, Elim Churches of New Zealand.
• Pastor Ken Harrison, Senior Pastor, Harvest Christian Church, Papakura AOGNZ.
• Pastor Dr Brian Hughes, Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel.
• Major Stephen Jarvis, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army.
• Rev Fakaofo Kaio, Moderator, Northern Presbytery, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.
• Very Rev Jo Kelly-Moore, Dean, Auckland Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
• Rev Dr John Kirkpatrick, Senior Pastor, Greenlane Christian Centre.
• Rev Andrew Marshall, National Director, Alliances Churches of New Zealand.
• Pastor Bruce Monk, National Leader, Acts Churches of New Zealand.
• Pastor Sam Monk, Senior Pastor, Equippers Church.
• Pastor Peter Mortlock, Senior Pastor, City Impact Church.
• Pastor Lloyd Rankin, National Director, Vineyard Churches Aotearoa New Zealand.
• Pastor John Steele, National Leader, New Life Churches.
• Bishop Brian Tamaki, Destiny Churches.
• Pastor Eddie Tupa'i, President North New Zealand Conference, Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
• Rev Dr Richard Waugh, National Superintendent, Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand.

Comments are closed for this post. Faith is a matter between the individual and whoever he does/doesn't believe in.