Early summer, continued

We have had an extremely good run of good weather in Dunedin, and around most if not all of the country.

Apart from some morning harbour fog and some occasional cloud we have had an extended run of fine mild weather for nearly two weeks.

Temperatures have been maxxing in the low to mid twenties every day – unless exerting yourself these are very comfortable temperatures. I think that 20-24 is the optimum comfort zone, and that’s what we have been in, with enough night time cooling to be comfortable for sleep time as well.

In Central Otago the temperatures have been higher with November records being broken, enough to cause complaints. Cromwell must be up to day 12 or 13 days of 25+ temperatures, with some highs in the low to mid thirties. A few days of that can wear you down.

A few days of weather like this is not unusual, but two weeks is abnormal, especially for November which is often quite unsettled. Here it can swing from warm nor’westers to plummets and hilltop snow via sou’westers.

The Dunedin forecast promises more, with 23-27 highs and dry for the next week except for 18 and rain on Wednesday. Things are drying but aren’t too bad yet, but that rain will be welcome – if we get it.

A thing you learn in Dunedin is to appreciate and make the most of good weather, because variability and swings are the norm.

So this extended run of very nice early summer weather is great bonus.

Enjoy!

Heritage clash harbour

Given the strength of opposition with any development that clashes with existing heritage buildings and precincts this is a radical proposal for harbour redevelopment:

HarbourFuturistic

Video view and details at Our future?

The cost of such a design could be a killer, even if people accept the futuristic look.

My first impressions are not favourable, it seems to be quite out of kilter with the strengths of Dunedin’s appeal.

This is, believe it or not, a pedestrian bridge over the railway line.

Habourbridge

But it is unlikely to happen, it will be opposed, it will struggle to get RMA approval, and finance it will be difficult to afford.

 

 

Historic housing conditions

Pushing for better housing conditions is a worthy goal for the Government, substandard housing can have a detrimental effect on the health and well being of tenants in particular. But, while there is good cause for concern now, conditions have been much worse in the past.

Dunedin City Council have posted online an interesting collection of archive photos. Some of them show what housing conditions were like for some people in the past.

HousingDunedin1923

Flood damaged houses, Dunedin 1923

HousingDunedin1923-2

Flood damaged houses on banks of the Leith River, 1923

HousingDunedin1957

Houses identified as substandard, 1957

HousingDunedin1959

Maori Road, Dunedin 1959

Going further back in history, Maori Road is so named because it was built by Maori prisoners of war, including some political prisoners from Parihaka. From Historic caves have story to tell:

That was because of the area’s links to Maori prisoners taken from Taranaki and forced to labour in Dunedin between 1869 and 1881.

The Maori prisoners came in waves, with the first group of 74 – known as the Pakakohe group – sent to Dunedin in 1869 after Titokowaru’s War, an armed dispute in the mid-to-late 1860s, sparked by land confiscations in south Taranaki.

…The Maori prisoners also worked on other city projects, including the Dunedin Botanic Garden’s stone walls and the city road eventually named after them – Maori Rd.

They were eventually followed by 137 of Te Whiti’s “ploughmen”, also from Taranaki, who were detained without trial after peacefully resisting European occupation of confiscated land and brought to Dunedin in 1878-79.

The prisoners were held at Dunedin prison and transported to work sites, but 21 died during their time in Dunedin and were buried in unmarked paupers’ graves in the Northern Cemetery.

Housing conditions have improved somewhat, as has recognition of injustices in our colonial past.

I actually live in fairly substandard housing as a child. Our ‘house’ was actually two cottages connected by a 4 meter long covered path. Scrim walls. Water pipes froze in the winter – we sometimes cleaned our teeth in an ice edged water race. No fridge (we had a meat safe). I forgot to get kindling in one night (I suspect not the only time) and my mother woke me up early on a frosty morning to get some in so she could cook breakfast on the coal range (and probably to teach me a lesson of responsibility).

Child labour on an orchard, mostly unpaid, but when I was 9 I earned enough money so I could go on a holiday camp. I grew up in what would now be called poverty.

Enough diversion.

Disgraced Dunedin police officer resigns

A Dunedin police officer who conducted a two and a half year campaign of harassment against a businessman has resigned.

It sounds like he jumped before he was pushed out.

ODT: Officer leaves in disgrace

Jeremy Buis was found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage after a judge-alone trial in March.

Buis waged a two-and-a-half-year harassment campaign against Dunedin businessman Danny Pryde after a parking complaint led to the police officer being ticketed.

The officer was suspended from his role in February 2015 and remained on paid leave until earlier this month.

Suspended on full pay for two and a half years. That also seems disgraceful. The police have to go through processes, but that long on full pay grates.

However, Southern district police confirmed on Wednesday Buis had ”tendered his resignation earlier this month”.

”It was accepted,” Southern district commander Superintendent Paul Basham said.

”This resignation came prior to an agreed meeting with myself, scheduled for this Friday, regarding the outcome of the employment investigation.

It sounds like Buis resigned before he was sacked. He had to be sacked.

”As Buis no longer works for police, I am now in a position to be able to comment on his conduct, which has been a matter of public interest for some time now.

”The actions of Buis were disgraceful.

”This behaviour does not reflect on the actions of other staff in the Southern policing district.”

After an unsuccessful police investigation Pryde ended up getting evidence that proved Buis was the person responsible for the harassment.

Mr Pryde said it had been ”a living hell” and he believed he was going to be killed during the ongoing harassment.

It was awful over a long period of time for him and his family.

Supt Basham said Southern police wanted the trust and confidence of the public.

The majority of staff worked ”hard every day to provide a quality service to members of the public”.

”We understand the actions of one officer can impact on the reputation of the whole organisation,” he said.

”For that reason, these types of matters are always investigated impartially to the highest standard, with a view to holding staff accountable if they have committed a criminal offence or not acted in accordance with our values.

We hope that’s the case but it can be awkward when the police investigate one of their own.

 

Dunedin’s water problem

The Dunedin City Council reacted quickly to non-treated water finding it’s way into the city water supply. While the water was dirty it isn’t known if there is any risk.

ODT: Extent of water threat known today

The Dunedin City Council says the extent of the public health threat posed by the city’s water scare will not be known until later today.

The council yesterday issued a boil water notice covering a swath of the central city and north end after millions of litres of untreated ”raw” water from the Ross Creek Reservoir entered the city’s drinking supply.

Council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose said the level of contamination in the raw water was not known, but would be confirmed by test results expected later today.

The raw water was stored at the reservoir for an extended period, as a back-up supply for the city, but it was not treated or tested, she said.

”It’s not for drinking, so there is a health risk.

”We don’t know the level of risk because, simply put, we weren’t testing this water because it wasn’t supposed to be drunk.”

The council and Dunedin Hospital both responded to yesterday’s alarm by activating their emergency operations centres.

Despite a fast and major reaction there were significant flaws in how it was dealt with.

I live outside the affected area, but I work in the affected area. I happened to notice the water contamination news yesterday morning, but could easily have not known about it all day. I drink cold tap water often at work.

There was no notification delivered to the building that i work in that I’m aware of.

But I doubt there is much risk. There might be a bit of colour in the Ross Creek water but there is unlikely to be any dangerous contamination.

I grew up on untreated water, it was sourced from a 12 km water race. We often pulled rubbish including dead animals out of the water.

But the council had to treat this contamination as potentially risky.

Flood problems on Taieri flood plain

The Taieri is a flood plain, with much of it barely above sea level, separated from the Pacific Ocean by a range of hills bisected by the lower Taieri Gorge.

Because it has been enriched by flood sediment for a long time it is fertile and therefore has been good for farming, when it isn’t waterlogged.

Because it is flat it has been popular for housing. Some of the biggest growth in the Dunedin area has been in Mosgiel and on other parts of the Taieri. It seems to have been easier to get consent to convert arable flat land into subdivisions than much more marginal land that is well above flood risk.

ODT: Flooded residents lash out

Taieri residents sick of their homes and properties being flooded are fed up with being ignored by local politicians.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and other local government representatives at a flood recovery meeting in Coronation Hall last night acknowledged more could be done to protect residents in some areas and promised to try to address the list of issues raised.

However, solutions could come at a significant cost to the Dunedin City Council, Otago Regional Council and the city’s residents.

Earlier, residents of the flood-hit area pointed the finger at both the DCC and ORC for failing to properly invest in enough infrastructure despite repeated calls for more work to be done.

They said the DCC in particular had failed to keep pace with out-of-control growth as subdivision after subdivision in Mosgiel and Outram was approved.

The ORC was criticised for failing to properly maintain its flood protection schemes and for not coming up with an achievable solution to how flood-prone Henley could be protected.

Residents spoke of the frustration of dealing with flooding on a regular basis, with one Henley resident saying he was so fed up he and his wife planned to abandon their property.

Carlyle Rd, Mosgiel, resident Murray Hamilton said he had lived in the same house for 44 years and believed he had had sewage inundate his property 20 or 30 times.

He said the council was at fault for issuing consents for developments but failing to invest in infrastructure.

It’s not a lack of investment in infrastructure that’s the main issue, it’s why so much housing was allowed on a flood plain.

Developers have been allowed to make big bucks, and now residents are demanding all Dunedin ratepayers should now fork out for remedial work and flood protection.

Henley resident Kerrie Hooper, who was chest-deep in water when he left his property, questioned whether anything could be done to prevent serious flooding happening again in the flood-prone community.

After the meeting, he said he did not believe a solution was possible and he and his wife would likely abandon their property.

Another Henley resident accused the ORC of presenting Henley residents with a solution far too expensive for them to afford while ignoring cheaper solutions.

Henley has always been at risk of flooding.It is barely above sea level at the best of times, situated at the entrance to the lower Taieri Gorge, so when the flooding Taieri River hits the bottleneck the area floods, especially at high tide.

State Highway 1 used to go through Henley, but it was bypassed by what is known as the ‘flood-free highway’, a raised road specifically designed to keep out of the frequent floods.

It’s going to be very difficult to prevent flooding of residential areas across the lowest parts of the Taieri Plain, unless flood banks are built or bolstered.

It’s tough on residents, but they should have been aware of flood risks.

What shouldn’t be tough is the council figuring out where it’s a bad idea to allow subdivisions – a new subdivision at Outram was flooded last week.

RNZ:  Dunedin City Council to review zoning after Otago flooding

Flooding in new Otago housing developments is worrying and the council will look at all areas zoned for subdivision, Dunedin’s mayor says.

In Outram, on the Taieri Plain, the water pooled around houses in the new Anzac Court subdivision. Resident Craig Miller estimated it reached 20cm up the side of his house.

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull told Morning Report it was concerning to see some flooding in new subdivisions.

“I flew over the area on Saturday with [Minister for Civil Defence Nathan] Guy, and it did worry me that an area that is flooded now should have only partially-built homes on.”

How the fuck the possibility of this situation couldn’t have been foreseen escapes me.

Serious questions should be asked of city planners and resource consenters.

South Island flooding effects

A satellite photo of the South Island following the heavy rain and floods shows all the sediment washing out to sea:

CawthronSouthIslandFloods

Zoomed in to show the Taieri Plain flooding (just to the left of ‘Dunedin’, with the sediment outflow at Taieri Mouth washing up the coast.

CawthronTaieriFlooding

I went down the coast to Taieri Mouth on Sunday, the river looked like a swollen sludge outflow. The surf right down the coastline was very dirty.

The sediment from the Taieri River is drifting up the coast towards Dunedin.The Taieri River comes from the Maniototo where there was also heavy rain.

The sediment outflow in the bottom right of the photo is from the Clutha River. There was also flooding upriver there.

From:

CawthronSouthIsland.jpg

From the CawthronEye Satellite.

 

‘Homelessness’ and inadequate housing

‘Homelessness’ has been a hot topic over the last few months, but a lot of political rhetoric gets in the way of an accurate picture. There is a significant difference between homelessness and inadequate housing, but the two are often combined as one problem.

Stuff:  Government ‘failing in most basic duty’ as 24,000 Aucklanders homeless, Labour claims

Labour has hit out at National over rates of homelessness, claiming it is failing in the basic duty of a government.

The allegations come after Auckland Council’s Homelessness Policy Project estimated 24,000 people in the region did not have adequate housing.

Phil Twyford, Labour’s housing spokesman, said the level of homelessness seen in parts of the country used to be something only seen in the United States or Europe.

“After nine years, National’s failure to address the housing crisis means we can no longer we pride ourselves on not leaving Kiwis on the streets.”

This appears disingenuous of Twyford.

Auckland Council’s Homelessness Policy Project, released on Wednesday, showed there were 20,296 people without a house in Auckland in 2013, according to census data.

SO the report is based on four year old data. They problem may well be worse by now, but the report can only guess at that.

Of those, 16,350 were sharing and couch surfing with others temporarily, 3175 were in temporary accommodation such as emergency housing, refugee camps and boarding houses, and 771 were sleeping rough.

Of the “20,296 people without a house” most of them, about three quarters of them, were living in something like a house.

Another 3175 were also accommodated, albeit temporarily. For many that will be inadequate, but they are still ‘housed’.

771 sleeping rough – actually homeless – is a lot, but it is nowhere near 20,000.

Some people choose to sleep rough. I have at times. It didn’t bother me, it was always temporary and I had other options – including staying temporarily with others – but technically I was ‘homeless’ at times.

For some people couch surfing is by choice, especially when travelling. A proportion of couch surfers will be tourists or temporary visitors, as will be some of those house sharing. Technically I’m house sharing with a family at the moment, and have been for over a year, but it’s not inadequate housing, we have the space for it.

But this may be just quibbling over some of the numbers. Except that it’s a pretty big quibble when Twyford refers to those in the ‘inadequate housing’ category as homeless. He is blatantly exaggerating.

There are real problems with housing that are a major concern.

Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly said homeless people had a life expectancy that was about 20 years lower than the average life expectancy.

“One person dying on our streets or as a result of homelessness is one too many.”

Farrelly said the deaths of rough sleepers were due to myriad issues such as health problems, poor nutrition and continued exposure to the elements.

“We’ve had some very wet, cold nights in the winter so far and it is heartbreaking to think of people sleeping outside in these conditions.”

Another Labour MP trying to address housing problems – MP camps out to protest pair’s plight

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran has accused the Ministry of Social Development of the ”character assassination” of two homeless Dunedin women, one of whom is pregnant.

Ms Curran is advocating for Kylie Taggart (30) and Amy Stuart (25), who are receiving emergency accommodation in motels.

Ms Curran slept in the Octagon last night in a tent to protest the women’s situation. She said she would sleep there every night until the women had a place to live.

Ms Curran said a lack of state housing and suitable short-term accommodation in Dunedin meant the ministry was relying on motels.

Each week, Miss Taggart and Miss Stuart must reapply for emergency accommodation.

Miss Taggart said she went into early labour last week and was admitted to hospital to be stabilised. She believes the stress of her situation was the cause. She is 26 weeks pregnant and has two other children in her care, while Miss Stuart has a 3-year-old daughter.

Both say they are trying hard to comply with the rules but feel harassed and belittled by Work and Income.

They were doing their best to provide a stable environment for their children in difficult circumstances.

But as is often the case this isn’t a simple story.

The Ministry of Social Development issued a statement on Friday that appeared to blame the women.

”We have been supporting both these mums with emergency housing special needs grants to ensure that they are not forced to sleep rough.

”They didn’t need to pay this money back; the priority was responding to an emergency need.

”One of the challenges we face is when clients repeatedly exhibit behaviour that makes them unattractive to landlords and many motel owners.

”What is really unfortunate is when the behaviour of some people not only affects them, but everyone in need. ‘In this case there is now two motels in Dunedin that are not willing to take any client referred by Work and Income.

”As a result the support now provided to both these women will need to be repaid,” the statement says.

Ms Curran said the women deny claims of antisocial behaviour.

But from a report on RNZ: Dunedin MP camps out in Octagon to highlight homelessness

Documents obtained by Checkpoint show landlords have taken the two women to the tenancy tribunal six times for not paying rent and damaging property.

The Social Development Ministry said it had not given up on the women, and that they had a high priority rating, but were difficult to house.

Ms Curran said the two women were forced into emergency accommodation because they have spent time in women’s refuges.

So it sounds like partners have been a part of the problem.

But it also sounds like the women have not been model tenants either.

RNZ: In a statement a short time ago the Ministry of Social Development says the two women have a high priority rating, but because they’ve repeatedly exhibited unattractive antisocial behaviour to both landlords and hotel owners, it’s been difficult to find them permanent accommodation in Dunedin.

And the Ministry’s Southern Regional Commissioner says “Following events overnight yet another motel is not willing to house one of the women, and only late today a short term alternative was found.”

“The people we work with often have a number of hurdles to overcome, and many lead chaotic lives.”

Money is obviously a major issue, but some people been put in bad situations, or have put themselves in bad situations, making accommodation difficult.

Difficult situations for some people for sure, but finding long term solutions can also be difficult.

Politicians overstating statistics doesn’t help, although I think credit is due to Curran for what she is trying to do.

Dunedin decline

Dunedin has been in decline relative to cities up north for a long time. The 1980s and 1990s gutted the public service out of the city and it has struggled since.

Most major industry has gone. Freezing works are no more, Fisher & Paykel, which took over Shacklocks in the 1950s, shut their factory in 2008. Several years ago Hillside Workshops were shut down, and the Cadbury chocolate factory is set to close next year.

There are two things keeping the city from major decline – tertiary education, chiefly University of Otago (the oldest university in New Zealand, established in 1871),  and tourism, largely due to the growth in cruise ship visits.

The current city council, led by mayor Dave Cull, seems more intent on creating a green cycling city than on economic development. Whole blocks of car parks are being removed and replaced with barely used cycle lanes, with many more proposed.

The city has a reputation for being unfriendly to development. I have heard that developers don’t even try to set up in the city.

Several years ago a major waterfront hotel was proposed. It was slapped down by public opposition and regressive city planning practices because it was deemed to be too big,

Another major hotel development was proposed last year and has applied for consent, but it looks like that will also be slapped down.

ODT: Decline hotel consent: report

A planning report is recommending consent for Dunedin’s latest five-star hotel be declined.

The report, made public late this afternoon, has cited the hotel’s height, visual dominance of surrounding heritage buildings and shading impact as key reasons to decline consent.

A planning report is recommending consent for Dunedin’s latest five-star hotel be declined. The report, made public late this afternoon, has cited the hotel’s height, visual dominance of surrounding heritage buildings and shading impact as key reasons to decline consent.

Too big too. Probably not enough cycle parks.

The recommendation to the panel of independent commissioners came in a report by independent consultant Nigel Bryce, ahead of the public hearing beginning on July 31.

I expect there will be a lot of submissions in opposition, this will be cited as majority public opposition, and the project will be dumped.

There  has been a practice in Dunedin of small lobby groups stacking submission processes and claiming majority support for their opposition to development. They can do this as part of the democratic process, but it is not a democratic measure as they claim.

Recently:

Despite an extra $100,000 of spending approved this week, the Dunedin City Council scraped in under its self-imposed 3% target for rates rises for the next financial year.

The council approved a budget that will see ratepayers asked for an extra 2.99% for 2017-18.

That’s again higher than inflation.

Mr Cull said some people had reservations about the annual plan process, which featured feedback meetings rather than formal submissions this year, before full submissions are brought back for the long-term plan next year.

But he said the council had engaged with the public well, and arrived at a figure under the 3% limit.

It was pleasing to keep faith with the community, and keep that promise, he said.

So they set an above inflation target and applaud themselves when they achieve it.

And the mayor has said that they could rise more next year.

ODT: Rates rise on the table: Cull

Rates rises are always on the table, it’s a matter of how big a rise. And they could get bigger.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says he would consider a rates rise of more than 3% next year, if the community signals it supports more spending.

Mr Cull said in The Interview the city did need to keep rates affordable.

The council has had a self-imposed 3% maximum increase for the past few years.

Yeah, right. From the council website:

However, he said: “We are already easily the cheapest city in the country and in the lower quartile of councils all around the country for rates.”

And Dunedin is one of the most poorly performing cities business-wise.

If the city wanted to “stand still” and maintain services, that close to 3% rise would continue, as that was the inflationary pressure on the council.

“If you want extra we’re going to have to spend some more.”

Asked if he would accept a rate increase higher than 3%, Mr Cull said he would.

The community, however needed to consider the value of what it would get for the cost involved, in next year’s long-term plan.

So the aim seems to be to get public acceptance – or at lest the perception of public acceptance via lobby groups – of increasing rates.

While rejecting major developments for the city. The only big goals seem to be cycleways and spending, therefore higher rates for residents, because the city keeps losing businesses and therefore business rates.

If, as is quite likely, education delivery changes in an Internet world and the University loses out then the city will not just struggle to keep up, it will decline even further.

And this is the latest council news: Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull’s defamation lawsuit settled for $50k

A Dunedin councillor has settled for $50,000 after taking defamation action against Mayor Dave Cull.

Councillor Lee Vandervis confirmed he settled the case because of legal delays and spiralling costs, but it comes without an apology.

The case was sparked by a heated exchange in December 2015. The mayor ejected the outspoken councillor from a council meeting after Vandervis claimed he paid a backhander to secure a council contract in the 1980s.

Council’s insurers felt that making a payment of $50,000 to Vandervis to cover his costs to date would be much less expensive for them than a successful court outcome.

Dunedin has lost it’s fire while the mayor and councillors burn each other.

Morgan/TOP touring the south

Gareth Morgan has begun his second tour of the country in his campaign for The Opportunities Party, starting in the south.

I saw him in Dunedin last night – he comes across as very well informed, passionate,  and determined to make a difference.

This is in contrast to my impression of Winston Peters (last year) and Andrew Little (earlier this year) who played to their faithful with slogan laden speeches. Morgan sounded original and was interesting right through his presentation.

On Monday: Southlanders voice their concerns at public meeting with Gareth Morgan

Mental health, the economy, environmental issues and poverty were among the concerns raised by Southlanders at an Opportunities Party meeting on Monday night.

About 100 people were at the meeting, led by party leader Gareth Morgan, and held at CentreStage in Invercargill.

Morgan said the newly founded party aimed to turn around concerns with its radical policies, and make the best of the people, economy and resources in New Zealand.

It was the second trip to Invercargill for Morgan and his team, who have been touring the country.

With New Zealand having one of the highest rates of teenage suicide, the Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) and thriving families policy would be the first step to smoothing the path to adulthood, Morgan said.

“That’s [rates of youth suicide] pretty bad. It’s just one indicator that things aren’t great,” he said.

The aim of the party was to “persuade the government to make all boats lift” and make progress as a nation, he said.

Tuesday night in Queenstown Morgan targets inequality:

Speaking at a public meeting in Queenstown last night, The Opportunities Party (Top) founder outlined sweeping economic and social reforms for tackling what he said were growing income disparities among New Zealanders.

The audience of about 50 people, ranging in age from pensioners to a toddler, were told the economy appeared to be doing ”reasonably well” on the surface.

But New Zealand had become a low-wage, ”treadmill economy” in which most people were working harder and producing more, but were not getting wealthier.

A widening gap between the asset-owning class and everyone else was causing social stress reflected in rates of youth suicide, workplace and school bullying and imprisonment that were among the highest in developed countries, Mr Morgan said.

Both of those reports sound similar content to last night.

ODT reports: Morgan impresses Dunedin audience

Mainstream political parties who underestimate Gareth Morgan’s influence in the September 23 election will do so at their peril.

Mr Morgan, the leader and founder of The Opportunities Party (Top) attracted about 200 people to hear him in South Dunedin’s Mayfair Theatre last night

That’s a good number for a new party. Morgan asked how many had been to his previous Dunedin meeting. He estimated about 1/3 of the audience had.

For 40 minutes, Mr Morgan enthralled the audience, fielding applause and laughter as he outlined only one policy – although it was a very wide-ranging and quite detailed policy -before taking questions.

”I promised I would only talk about one policy tonight, otherwise I would have you all in a coma,” he said to much laughter. When the economist-turned-investor and now politician formed his party, much was made about his style of delivery, which was described as dry and casual.

Although he was dressed casually, often with his hands in his pockets, those attending last night paid close attention to what he was saying.

It was different to normal polispeak, he is very much a non-politician politician.

Mr Morgan’s delivery was slick, peppered with colourful language. He said his job was to offend everyone and often mentioning his party’s policies would go down like a ”cup of cold sick”.

His job is to battle against the same old, against the status quo in politics.

The audience ranged from those in their 20’s through to retirees. Those spoken to by the Otago Daily Times said Mr Morgan had good ideas and was talking sense, something other political parties might be wise to take note of, three months out from the election.

Given the main parties are coming across poorly and could do with a good boot up the political bum, there are votes in Morgan’s approach, but it’s a big challenge to look like getting close to the 5% needed.

I went to an Internet Party meeting in the 2014 campaign and that was very different – more showy but much less substance.

I also went to an ACT conference and David Seymour impressed, Jamie Whyte didn’t. The election result suggested that was a common impression.

The provincial media seems to be warming to Morgan, but the political media establishment in Wellington and Auckland still seem unexcited.

If anyone can shake up the political establishment this year it’s Morgan. Time will tell whether he just shakes up the campaign, or gets to also shake up Parliament.

Morgan says his intention if successful is to not take sides but to sit on the cross benches pushing for any policy gains they can get. Some of their policies are radical considering how bland National and Labour are in the main, but they are well researched and could make a good contribution to the mix.

But he has a long way to get there. The TOP van moves to Timaru today, the campaign for a party that can’t use free MP travel is a long haul.