The Dirge

I agree with Andrew Little about our second National Anthem, except that it’s worse than a dirge, it’s a dirge with embarrassing lyrics.

The Maori version sounds better, if we must keep The Dirge we should stop after the first (Maori) verse.

It’s good to see Andrew Little stand up for something better. Will he pledge to engage the people of New Zealand in choosing a new anthem if he becomes Prime Minister? If he was seriously anti The Dirge then he would.

And another view or two:

Winston Peters: “I’ve never heard anyone singing our anthem when they’re happy.”

Hmm. NZF opens conferences with national anthem every year.


New Zealand “third highest” material standard of living

“Most Kiwi families have a high standard of material wellbeing relative to our international peers.”

There are frequent claims that New Zealand is becoming a basket case and that the standard of living is terrible for most of us. For example Union leader Robert Reid on Q & A on Sunday:

“New Zealand is not doing well.”

“When are working people going to catch up?”

“There’s not those opportunities and yes you can always find one individual who’s gone from the child of a widow in a state house and perhaps become a banker but it’s not about one individual, it’s about where most people are”.

“Working people don’t even have enough money every week to be able to buy their food and their rent.”

“This is the problem in this country, we’ve actually got the elite represented by the Government and Michele (Boag) with where most working people are.”

I know that it’s financially tough for a significant number of people, but I also see examples of working families who are managing ok. Consumerism seems to be surviving successfully.

And a study claims things are not all bad, reported by Stuff in New Zealand has world’s third-highest material standard of living – report

Researchers at public policy research institute Motu used data from 800,000 households across 40 countries to create the new measure for wellbeing, which took into account homes that included a 15-year-old.

The measure is based on ownership of possessions such as books, internet connections, whiteware and cars, as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a house.

MOTU Wellbeing IndexMotu senior fellow Dr Arthur Grimes said the results should call into question the widespread negative impression of living standards in New Zealand compared with other developed countries.

“Our results show New Zealand is still a great place to bring up children, at least in material terms.

“Not only do we have wonderful natural amenities, but contrary to what GDP statistics tell us, most Kiwi families have a high standard of material wellbeing relative to our international peers.”

Grimes said New Zealand’s level of average material wellbeing in part reflected its high number of cars and bathrooms per household.

New Zealand had the second- and seventh-highest average possession rate for cars and numbers of bathrooms in 2012.

And despite claims that inequality in New Zealand is terrible on an Inequality Index we are very middle of the pack.

MOTU Inequality IndexNow this is just one study. But it does suggest that the quality of life isn’t as bad, generally,  as some people try to portray.

Sure there are numbers of people for whom life is very difficult, and we should be doing whatever we can practically to address that.

But generalising doom and gloom merchants detract from targeting the real problems because many people know their claims don’t apply to them.

New Zealand is a great place to live in. We just need to make it better for more of us.

MOTU report links:

The Material Wellbeing of New Zealand Households

A new measure of material wellbeing based on actual household consumption rather than on their incomes, shows that New Zealand households have amongst the highest material living standards in the world. Using country averages for households that…

Historical Medical Cannabis Policy Briefing with New Zealand Healthcare Officials

From PRNewswire:

United Patients Group Participates in Historical Medical Cannabis Policy Briefing with New Zealand Healthcare Officials

The New Zealand Drug Foundation in conjunction with United in Compassion New Zealand call upon United Patients Group to contribute to a first-of-its-kind collaboration between US and international experts to further explore cannabis as a possible therapeutic treatment in New Zealand for a range of conditions

SAN FRANCISCO, July 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — United Patients Group, the leading medical cannabis information and education site, disclosed their participation in a history-making policy briefing held last week in Wellington, New Zealand with key members of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, United In Compassion New Zealand, world-renowned researchers and leading medical cannabis physicians.  United Patients Group will act in an ongoing advisory and consultative capacity to the New Zealand working group in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, to further explore and initiate potential phase 1 medical trials to examine cannabis as a possible therapeutic treatment in New Zealand.

The esteemed invitation-only panel are made up of experts from across the medical cannabis care pathway and included New Zealand and Australian participants, along with several key experts from the United States, including United Patients Group.

John Malanca, founder of United Patients Group commented, “We are honored to be a part of such a ground-breaking and historic effort and are incredibly impressed that the New Zealand government has listened to its constituents and are making a concerted effort to explore thoughtfully and swiftly the benefits of cannabis for medicinal purposes.”

In May 2015, after intense petitioning by United in Compassion NZ, recent media coverage of high profile medical cases and resulting public pressure, New Zealand’s Associate Minister of Health, Peter Dunne, agreed to start a dialogue in order to become better informed about the process of bringing medical cannabis into New Zealand for potential research and development purposes.

Dunne set up a team to explore the current climate regarding medical cannabis in New Zealand and formed a Ministry of Health Working Group, led by Dr. Stewart Jessamine, current Director of Public Health for the Ministry of Health in Wellington.  Jessamine also heads up Medicines Control which functions as a regulatory team within the Ministry of Health that oversees the local distribution chain of medicines and controlled drugs within New Zealand.  Jessamine is also an executive board member for the World Health Organization.

With a marked shift in public opinion toward legalization of cannabis for medical purposes worldwide, New Zealand (like the US) is re-examining its long-standing policies toward the (currently illegal) drug.

Compassion Melds with Science
Malanca further commented, “Fundamentally, it’s difficult to ignore the daily barrage of stories coming from all over the world where medical cannabis is cited as having an effective impact on the relief and treatment for patients living with chronic and life-threatening conditions such as Dravet Syndrome to brain cancer.”

It was Malanca’s own personal experience with the devastating diagnosis of his father-in-law’s lung cancer (which had metastasized to the brain), that led he and co-founder, Corinne Malanca to medical cannabis as a last lifeline for their family member, Stan Rutner.  Five years later, Stan Rutner remains cancer free (both brain and lung scans are clear).  The duo formed United Patients Group in 2010 in order to provide reliable, comprehensive information on medical cannabis to individuals around the world.  The online site has expanded to include information for caregivers, physicians and treatment facilities throughout the US as well as online CME (continuing medical education) courses in medical cannabis .

New Zealand Seeks US Expertise
Toni-Marie Matich is a mother of a teenage daughter suffering from Dravet Syndrome.  Matich also has an early education in science and horticulture. They live in New Zealand, where like many other countries, cannabis is illegal.  She had heard the story of young Charlotte Figi, the Colorado child who was suffering from 300 grand mal seizures per week that was being successfully treated with medical cannabis.

After exhausting all options available in New Zealand, and her daughter still suffering hundreds of seizures a day, Matich  began working behind the scenes for several years to try and raise the issue (and awareness) of medical cannabis, gaining the support of the NZ Children’s Commissioner, and the CEO of the NZ Drug Foundation along the way.  She became the New Zealand representative to United in Compassion Australia in 2014.

“Due to the laws criminalizing cannabis in New Zealand, it isn’t a treatment that our doctors or other health professionals are familiar with, therefore the ability for a doctor to have an open mind and discussion with their patient is non-existent and we would like that to change. I recognized that United Patients Group was leading the way in information across the entire spectrum of the medical cannabis movement in the US, as well as providing the educational resources for clinical and medical professionals, so I sought them out.”

Matich secured a meeting with (Associate Health Minister) Dunne, known for his vehement opposition to legalizing cannabis.  “Dunne listened and showed compassion.  To my surprise he immediately tasked a working group within the ministry to meet with us and engage in developing our initiatives.   A key component was to educate individuals on medical cannabis, so we immediately brought in United Patients Group.”

The policy briefing was hosted by the NZ Drug Foundation which functions as a charitable trust dedicated to advocating for evidence-based drug policies.  Ross Bell, Executive Director for the NZ Drug Foundation said, “Across the globe there’s a tremendous amount of new research coming up surrounding medical cannabis, and some of the research appears to be very promising.”  Bell stresses that at the core of the matter are the people of New Zealand, who are living with medical conditions that many of them feel may benefit from medical cannabis. “We’re thrilled to be working with experts from around the world, like United Patients Group, to address how to specifically deliver a medicine such as cannabis and to what type of medical condition while working through some of the political realities we face, just like any other nation at this time.”

In addition to United Patients Group, participants from the historic policy briefing included:

  • Toni-Marie Matich – Co-Founder and CEO, United in Compassion NZ Charitable Trust
  • Ross Bell – Executive Director of the NZ Drug Foundation
  • Dr. Russell Wills – The Children’s Commissioner (New Zealand)
  • Dr. Alan Shackelford  Harvard-trained physician and medical cannabis researcher who came to worldwide prominence as the doctor who successfully treated Charlotte Figi, the Colorado child suffering from 300 grand mal seizures a week
  • Dr. Bonni Goldstein – Medical Director of Canna-Centers, a medical practice in California devoted to educating patients about the use of cannabis for serious and chronic medical conditions
  • Lucy Haslam – Co-Founder and Director, United In Compassion Australia
  • Troy Langman –  Co-Founder and Director,  United In Compassion Australia and New Zealand
  • Knut Ratzeberg – Laboratory Director, Medical Cannabis Services (AU)
  • Dr. Helga Seyler – Liaison between The University of Sydney and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)
  • Nevil Schoenmaker – Founded ‘The Seed Bank’ in Holland in 1984, and was one of the first legal producers of cannabis seeds

About United Patients Group
United Patients Group (UPG) is the unparalleled online resource and trusted leader for medical cannabis information and education for physicians, patients and health-related organizations.

Learn more about United Patients Group at

About United In Compassion NZ
United In Compassion is a non-profit charitable trust whose purpose is to educate the public on Medicinal Cannabis, supporting and facilitating NZ based research into the therapeutic effects of cannabinoid based medicines, as well as providing support to New Zealanders who would like to access legal medicinal cannabis, as well as to lobby government for legislation changes regarding the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes

About NZ Drug Foundation
A charitable trust dedicated to evidence-based alcohol and other drug policy.

A controversial flag?

One of the 10,000 flag designs could get negative initial reactions but think this one through, and come back to it again after some thought.


A New Flag

This flag is intended to look forward rather than holding on to the past.

The silver fern on black is the most recognisable symbol of New Zealand. This uses the Kyle Lockwood fern design slightly rotated.

The use of a rainbow without specific New Zealand colours (silver fern on black covers that) is deliberate to signify a merge of many peoples and cultures without singling a few out.

The ‘Rainbow Waka’ represents the fact that all New Zealanders (ancestors and immigrants) travelled here from distant lands. It opens out to future options.

It is very distinctive flying:

SilverFernRainbowWaka-UrsulaGeorge-flying2And also stands out more than many flags without so much wind:

SilverFernRainbowWaka-UrsulaGeorge-flying4Disclosure: I had some input into this design but most of the inspiration was from my wife and has been submitted by them.

I’m aware that some see the rainbow as representing certain things now but I don’t buy that – the rainbow represents many different things, one being diversity.

This flag could be controversial. Or it could be ignored amongst many.

I’ve looked at many flag designs (and there are a lot of good ones) and I’ve played around with many designs.

I’ve kept coming back to this one because it really stands out, and many positive things can be read into it relating to New Zealand (aka Aotearoa).

If your initial reaction is negative have a good look, come back to it and see if you see anything different in it.

Many flags to choose from

There has been huge interest in submitting new New Zealand flag designs, with the official site now listing 10,114 submissions in their gallery. You can browse, or search by key word.

It will be a hard job for the panel to select 4 from these to go in the referendum.

Many people have put a lot of thought and effort into alternative flag designs.

The top three from Rate The Flag:

  1. 7297.jpg

    1. Pikopiko Southern Cross (#7297)

    Rating: 1608 Wins: 93 Losses: 22

    Designed by: Geoffrey Joe This is a re-bound of Grant Pascoe’s ‘Pikopiko’ ( with the added sky blue and southern-cross.

  2. 1066.JPG

    2. Land Of The Long White Cloud (#1066)

    Rating: 1603 Wins: 81 Losses: 19

    Designed by: Chris Roberts Simple. Modern. Clean. Distinctive. The two contrasting colours used are white and deep blue. White is used for the stars of the Southern Cross and the rolling cloud. The deep blue background represents both the clean skies and the Pacific Ocean surrounding New Zealand.

  3. 6595.jpg

    3. Ponga #1 (#6595)

    Rating: 1601 Wins: 79 Losses: 18

    Designed by: Chris Macmillan Here is a flag for the people of Aotearoa! A bold symbol we can all be proud of. Made only from simple shapes that anyone can draw, this flag is bright and optimistic. Some of the design considerations and iconography included in the design of this flag: Primary Iconography:A completely silver … Read more

NZ Herald highlights fifteen in Assessors have flags galore to fly:

I don’t know who selected those but I’d be happy with some of them. It could be a difficult choice though.

This flag must be one of the four choices

I’ve seen many suggestions for new New Zealand flags. Some of them are very good. The panel has to choose four designs that will then be voted on by the people in a referendum later this year.

I’ve had varying thoughts on what would work and have come to the conclusion that this flag (or something very similar) should be one of four choices:

This is already a very popular de facto flag.It was prominently and proudly displayed during the lead up to the All Black versus Samoa game, and during the game in Apia yesterday.

I doubt that anyone confused it with pirates, ISIS, white feathers or anything negative.

And I don’t recall seeing any sign of that other flag that some people want to retain.

If someone can come up with a design that shouts NEW ZEALAND! more than this flag then good on them, but I don’t think I’ve seen it yet.

And there are many good reasons supporting the use of this design, as pointed out in Grant McLachlan: NZ’s national colour is black:

The RSA’s submission substituted fact with emotion. Not one New Zealand unit badge or war grave has ever featured a Southern Cross or Union Jack. Instead they display the silver fern.

While only one New Zealand flag ever crossed the sand at ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli, every New Zealand lemon squeezer hat was adorned with the twin silver ferns of the New Zealand Army cap badge.

The first time the New Zealand flag was flown in battle was from HMS Achilles during the Battle of the River Plate in 1939.

The use of the silver fern dates back at least to the Boer War – see Silver fern emblem used in Boer War.

Maori leaders should be embracing the silver fern emblem. Maori came up with it – the koru unfurled and mature.

The New Zealand Native Rugby Team first wore the silver fern on black, which then became our national colour. The fern’s root was the staple Maori diet, its silvery fronds a means of guidance under the moonlight. The fern was medicine, shelter, and together with its coiled baby koru, the mainstay of many ancient traditional patterns.

It has significant indigenous and colonial history.

The colour of our flag shouldn’t be an issue. Thirty-five other nations have red, white, and blue flags.

New Zealand is the only country whose national colour is black, and every other country recognizes this.

It is one of the least used (as a primary flag colour) and therefore most distinctive colours, although many flags have some black on them.

We only need to debate which version of silver fern to use, set against which arrangement of black and white.

We should consider other alternatives to the current flag. We have to, we get to choose from four, then get to choose between the most popular of them and the current flag.

But a version of a silver fern on a primarily black background has to be one of the four flags we choose from in this year’s referendum.

I don’t see how anyone can reasonably argue against the silver fern on black being one of our choices, whether you agree with changing to it or not.

Sun rose this morning, Greens complain about emissions target this afternoon

It was not surprising to see the Greens quickly condemn the New emissions target as not enough.

Govt’s emissions reduction target 100% pure spin

The National Government’s paltry emissions reduction target announced today means that New Zealand is not pulling its weight internationally when it comes to climate change, the Green Party said.

The Government announced a 2030 emissions reduction target of 30 percent off 2005 levels. This translates to an 11 percent reduction on 1990 levels.

“By committing to such a small reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, it means other countries will have to pick up our slack, or we’ll get runaway climate change,” said Green Party international climate negotiations spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham.

“Our fair share is at least a 40 percent reduction on 1990 levels, and the Government’s target is not even close.

“If all countries followed New Zealand’s lead, catastrophic climate change would be the result.

“Using 2005 as a benchmark is pure spin; the target is a paltry 11 percent reduction on 1990 levels, which is the usual benchmark for emission reductions.

“New Zealand can do so much better.

“National is missing this opportunity to implement policies that are good for people and the climate.

“We have no choice but to transition to a low-carbon economy, but National will increase the cost of this transition by delaying.

“The Green Party has extended the invitation to start a genuine dialogue on climate policy with the Government, and what might be required in the next few years to bring New Zealand out of the ranks of laggards and into the ranks of leaders, on climate policy.

“New Zealanders, now and in the future, deserve a climate plan we can be proud of,” said Dr Graham.

I don’t think this never-enough approach is likely to influence much here.

There’s also been a outcry from the Twitterlefties.

The sun and the anger will rise again tomorrow.

New emissions target

The Ministry of the Environment has announced new emissions targets – 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, which is 11% below 1990 levels.

Our new climate change target

In December this year, countries will meet in Paris to establish a new international climate change agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

An important part of the agreement will be the contributions each country makes to address climate change. Ahead of the negotiations in Paris, all countries have been asked to put forward a target to reduce emissions in the period after 2020. These are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs.

In July 2015, the New Zealand Government announced that our post-2020 climate change target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

View details on Hon Tim Groser’s media statement [beehive website]

The target has been tabled internationally with the United Nations in advance of the Paris meeting in December. New Zealand’s target will remain provisional until the new international agreement is ratified.

View a copy of New Zealand’s INDC (PDF, 328 Kb)

New Zealand’s current target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. The new post-2020 target is equivalent to 11 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. New Zealand will meet these responsibility targets through a mix of domestic emission reductions, the removal of carbon dioxide by forests and participation in international carbon markets.

Public consultation

Public consultation on New Zealand’s target occurred during the period 7 May–3 June 2015. Fifteen public meetings and hui were held across New Zealand and over 17,000 written submissions were received from more than 15,600 submitters.

View a summary of public submissions on the target. (PDF, 573 Kb)

Copies of individual submissions will be available on this website soon, after personal information is removed consistent with the Privacy Act 1993.

Material released as part of the consultation process includes:

GCSB and SIS review – public views sought

Public submissions are now being sought as part of the independent review of New Zealand’s intelligence and security legislation.

Michael Cullen and Patsy Reddy, who are carrying out the review, have put out a press release advising of the submission  process, asking the public for their views on “what the GCSB and NZSIS should be doing to protect New Zealand”.

I presume that allows for public views on what the GCSB and SIS shouldn’t be doing.

Intelligence and security reviewers seek public’s views

The independent reviewers examining New Zealands intelligence and security legislation are calling for public submissions.Intelligence and security reviewers seek public’s views

“We are seeking public submissions to help us determine what issues to focus on during the review,” says Sir Michael. “We want to hear your views on what the GCSB and NZSIS should be doing to protect New Zealand and how they should do it.”

“We also want to hear what would give you confidence that the agencies are acting in the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders while having due regard to their rights and freedoms,” says Dame Patsy.

The review will consider the legislation relating to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), and the oversight of the agencies. It will also assess whether the new legislative provisions introduced late last year by the Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill should be extended beyond their current expiry date of 1 April 2017.

Submissions will be open until 5pm on Friday 14 August 2015. You can make a submission online by visiting, or you can make a submission by email or post using the call for submissions document available on the website. The website also includes some resources to assist you in making a submission.

More details were given via a Q & A.

Questions about the review

Why is this review being carried out?

Legislation passed in 2013 made several changes to clarify the law governing the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and improve oversight of New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies – the GCSB and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS).

One of these changes was to introduce regular independent reviews of the intelligence and security agencies and their governing legislation.

Regular reviews will help to ensure the law keeps up with changing risks to national security, while protecting individual rights and maintaining public confidence in the agencies.

Who is conducting the review?

Hon Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy are the independent reviewers, appointed by the Acting Attorney-General Hon Amy Adams in consultation with the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

Biographies of the independent reviewers are available at

What will the review cover?

The review will determine:

1. Whether the legislative frameworks of the intelligence and security agencies (GCSB and NZSIS) are well placed to protect New Zealand’s current and future national security, while protecting individual rights;

2. Whether the current oversight arrangements provide sufficient safeguards at an operational, judicial and political level to ensure the GCSB and NZSIS act lawfully and maintain public confidence.

The full terms of reference for the 2015 review can be viewed at:

How long will the review take?

The review will be completed by the end of February 2016.

When can I read the independent reviewers’ report?

The independent reviewers must provide the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament with a report containing the results of their review by the end of February 2016.

After the Committee has considered the report, the Committee must present the report to the House of Representatives subject to any restrictions on the disclosure of information under section 18(3) of the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996.

Where can I find more information about the review?

The Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996 establishes the statutory framework for the review. You can read the Act at

The announcement from Hon Amy Adams appointing the independent reviewers, including biographies of the independent reviewers and the full terms of reference for the 2015 review, can be viewed at:

The notice in the New Zealand Gazette can be read at:

Any future announcements about the review will be posted on

What other reviews of the intelligence agencies have there been?

There have been a number of reviews in recent years relating to specific aspects of the intelligence and security agencies, for example the Murdoch review in 2009 and the Kitteridge review in 2012. The agencies in the core New Zealand Intelligence Community were also subject to a Performance Improvement Framework Review in late 2013. However, this will be the first review to look at the broader legislative framework and oversight of the agencies.

How does the review relate to the Law Commission’s work on classified information in court proceedings?

The Law Commission’s work has a specific focus on the rules and processes governing use and protection of security sensitive information in court proceedings. However, it is anticipated that the Law Commission’s work will complement the wider review.

While both pieces of work will proceed independently, there will be opportunities for the Commission and independent reviewers to share research and thinking if common issues arise.

Questions about the submissions process

When can I make a submission?

Submissions are open until 5.00pm on Friday 14 August 2015.

How can I make a submission?

You can make a submission online or download the consultation document to make a written submission at Written submissions can be emailed to or posted to IRIS Support Team, Ministry of Justice, Level 3 – Justice Centre, 19 Aitken Street, Wellington, DX SX10088.

I don’t know the answer to some of the consultation questions. Do I have to answer them all?

No, you do not need to answer all of the questions. None of them are mandatory.

Why is my submission being sent to the Ministry of Justice?

As stated in section 26 of the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for providing administrative, secretarial, and other support to the independent reviewers. This includes assisting with public consultation.

What happens with my submission?

Your submission will help the independent reviewers to decide what issues the review should focus on within the broad terms of reference. Your submission is sought for the purposes of this independent review only. It will not be shared with government agencies other than the Ministry of Justice (which is providing administrative support for the review) or released publicly.

After the independent reviewers have considered your submission, the independent reviewers or a member of the Ministry of Justice support team may wish to contact you to discuss your submission. At the beginning of the submission form you will be asked to indicate whether you are willing to be contacted for this purpose.

Flag change process update

An update on the process moving towards the flag referendums (from and email newsletter from Lewis Holden at Change The Flag):

The shortlist

In an interesting development, we have learned that the Flag Consideration Panel will be publishing a “shortlist” of the top 50-75 flags at some stage mid-August. We suspect they will gauge from this public reactions which will then inform their choice of the final four designs. We’ll keep you posted on this!

Reported back

The Justice and Electoral Select Committee has reported back on the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill, the legislation that will enable the vote for our new flag to take place.

The committee has made a handful of recommendations to change the Bill before it becomes law.

  • Preventing MPs from spending their parliamentary funding on the referendum campaign;
  • Using the same roll for both the first and second referendums.

These aren’t major changes, but minor amendments that I’m sure most people – even if they oppose changing the flag – would agree with. Both save taxpayers money.

What happens next?

The Bill is now back in the House of Representatives to be debated a second time. Following the second reading the Bill moves into the “committee of the whole house” stage where amendments to the Bill can be moved. When this all happens we don’t exactly know, at last glace the Bill was sitting at no. 26 on Parliament’s order paper.


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