Chinese ski agreement good for Central Otago

On his trip to China Minister of Tourism John Key has witnessed the signing of a ‘memorandum of understanding’ between the Chinese Ski Association and the Winter Games NZ Trust that could bring big benefits to Central Otago skiing and tourism in general.

ODT reports: China partnership ‘momentous step’

A ground-breaking agreement between the Winter Games NZ Trust and the Chinese Ski Association could be worth millions of dollars to the Central Otago economy.

Real Journeys chief executive Richard Lauder said a memorandum of understanding between the association and the Winter Games NZ Trust, signed in China on Tuesday night and witnessed by Prime Minister John Key, was ‘‘pretty important” in the promotion and development of New Zealand as a skiing destination for the Chinese.

The company bought Cardrona Alpine Resort in late 2013 and over the past two years had been working to attract the Chinese market.

The resort had an agreement with the Wanlong Ski Resort, near Beijing, on employing and training ski instructors.

The Chinese national freestyle team also used Cardrona as a training base during its off-season.

Winter Games NZ Trust chief executive Arthur Klap described the deal as a ‘‘momentous step” for snowsports in New Zealand.

Under the agreement, the association will use New Zealand as its training base and the Winter Games as its competition base during northern hemisphere summers from 2017 to 2021, in preparation for the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing in 2022.

Lake Wanaka Tourism business development executive Geoff Mark said the MoU would reinforce the interest in New Zealand ‘‘as a whole” and would help develop the emerging Chinese ski market, which had begun to grow over the past couple of years.

‘‘If people in China are looking at skiing overseas, they will choose New Zealand.

‘‘The spin-offs for [Queenstown Lakes] in particular will be major and worth millions of dollars to the region.”

Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin said WGNZ was established as ‘‘a key event on the global snow sports calendar”.

‘‘This partnership will deliver real benefits for both countries.”

Tourism in general and especially Chinese tourism is booming, and is one of New Zealand’s biggest economic successes.

It’s not something the Minister of Tourism gets much public credit for. Key is criticised for swanning along and not doing much of importance.

Stuff reported in December: International tourism overtakes dairy to regain top spot as our biggest export earner

Tourism’s $13.5 billion in export earnings has put it ahead of the dairy industry for the first time in five years as the visitor boom continues.

The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) said the figure, drawn from Statistics New Zealand data, was based on the estimated spend by all international visitors, plus airfares. It excluded international students studying here for more than 12 months.

Annual dairy exports totalled $13 billion for the year ended September 2015.

TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said tourism and dairying were both vital to the New Zealand economy, and the recent dramatic growth in international visitor spending highlighted tourism’s important role.

Andrew Little has just appointed Labour’s new shadow cabinet spokesperson Kris Faafoi as Spokesperson for Tourism.

Meanwhile Stuff reports today: Tourism from China will likely outstrip infrastructure, says John Key

Prime Minister John Key is betting his “bottom dollar” that Chinese tourism to New Zealand will reach one million a year, but it is unlikely there is the infrastructure to the numbers.

The “good new part of the story” was tourism had picked up the slack, whereas other parts of the economy had been “a bit softer”, said Key.

“If you think about things like Chinese new year, they’d been a massive boon and extension of the general peak period. There’s no question that we actually do need to build more infrastructure.

“So the air connectivity part of the equation was lifted dramatically, and we’ve seen lots of new carriers return to New Zealand. The point about the infrastructure at the peak is right, we need to build more of that.”


Faafoi rises in Labour reshuffle

Andrew little has promoted Mana electorate MP Kris Faafoi in his caucus reshuffle after Clayton Cosgrove announced he would not stand again next year.

Kris Faafoi promoted to Shadow Cabinet

Posted by Andrew Little

Kris Faafoi has been promoted to Labour’s Shadow Cabinet and receives the Tourism portfolio while Clayton Cosgrove takes on a business outreach role – a move prompted by Mr Cosgrove’s decision to not stand at the next election, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.

“Kris Faafoi is a very talented MP whose hard work has earned him a place on the Shadow Cabinet. He is instantly recognisable to many New Zealanders and connects well when he’s on the road – an invaluable skill when working with the tourism industry.

“David Shearer receives Kris’ Consumer Affairs portfolio. David is passionate about this area and has some special projects he is keen to work on.

“Clayton Cosgrove keeps his Commerce, Veterans’ Affairs and Associate Finance portfolios. He takes on a new business outreach role. Clayton has excellent links with business and will lead the push in working with industry. He has stepped out of the Shadow Cabinet to allow new talent to be promoted.

So Cosgrove has stepped down but not out.

 “Labour has a talented line-up with an excellent mix of wise heads and new blood. These minor changes provide new strength,” says Andrew Little.

I guess he has to say that.

While Labour’s ‘Team’ web page has been updated to reflect the new responsibilities the pecking order hasn’t changed, with Cosgrove still at number 18 and Faafoi still at 24.

This reshuffle not only hasn’t warranted a post at The Standard, so far Faafoi’s promotion hasn’t been mentioned in comments either. According to their Search he barely rates a mention ever (twice only so far this year) so the lack of interest is not surprising.

Faafoi was chosen to stand for Labour in the Mana by-election in 2010. He is the the first MP of Tokelauan descent (he grew up in Christchurch).

Faafoi trained as a journalist and worked for the BBC and as a political commentator.

He returned to New Zealand  and was Phil Goff’s chief press secretary when Goff took over Labour’s leadership after Helen Clark resigned. Faafoi was also the Rongotai Pacific branch chair of the Labour Party – that is Annette King’s electorate.

So Faafoi is one of the growing number of MPs who have effectively been internally promoted from within Labour’s political class.

An uncomplimentary cartoon by Emmerson at NZ Herald:

Where are the journalists going?

There are continuing concerns about journalists being gradually culled from major media organisations. NZ herald is one of the latest to show some the door.

This exchange on Twitter commented on some of that and asked lamented the thinning ranks of journalists.

Deeply concerned about right tilt in media. Now Campbell, Rudman, Drinnan gone and Weldon running Mediaworks.

Campbell has gone to a better place and… my god you’re not suggesting Drinnan is a leftie?!


He is at least an independent and critical voice re media – how thin the critical media voices now are!

To an extent that is a concern, but a signs of rapidly changing times. However there was an interesting response.

Well, you should stop bloody poaching them. Ihaka, Faafoi, Moroney ..

Sarah Stuart, Phil Twyford, Danya Levy and a little bit of David Cohen….. you have quite the Press Room.

He was making the point that political parties poach quite a few journalists.This not only reduces media experience but it pits poached experience against the reporters.

Going through those names – these three are MPs:

Kris Faafoi:

Kris lives in Titahi Bay, Porirua and was elected as the Member of Parliament for Mana in November 2010 following more than a decade working as a journalist at both TVNZ and the BBC – giving him a strong commitment to public service broadcasting. – Labour website.

Sue Moroney:

Has been an MP since 2005. Sue is a mum, a former journalist and a proud Hamiltonian and so she is a champion for early intervention and strong regional development plans. – Labour website.

Phil Twyford:

New voices: Sam Lotu-Iiga, Phil Twyford and David Garrett

MP for Te Atatu. Formerly a journalist at the now defunct Auckland Star and Sunday Star, and a union organiser, before starting his career at Oxfam as its NZ division’s founding CEO.

And ex-journalists in the Labour staff:

Jodi Ihaka:

Ihaka takes up Senior Communications Advisor role

Putting Māori Members of Parliament (MPs) at the forefront of important New Zealand politics is Jodi Ihaka’s plan, as she was recently appointed the Labour Party’s new Senior Communications Advisor (Māori).

“I’m really excited to use my communication skills in such an important Māori advisory capacity.  I have loved my time at Whakaata Māori (Māori Television) and have nothing but respect for the Māori journalists on Te Kāea and Native Affairs,” says Ihaka.

The position sees Ihaka take on a key advisory role to Labour leader, Andrew Little as well as Māori MPs including Kelvin Davis, Peeni Henare, Louisa Wall, Meka Whaitiri, Nanaia Mahuta and Adrian Rurawhe.

Sarah Stuart:

Former Woman’s Weekly editor is Labour’s new chief spin doctor

Labour leader Andrew Little has appointed a former editor of the Woman’s Weekly Sarah Stuart as his chief press secretary and head of media and communications.

Stuart, whose other former roles include deputy editor of the Herald On Sunday and the Sunday Star Times and head of APN’s regional and daily community newspapers, has also worked in Sydney as a journalist.

Danya Levy:

Former political journo turned Labour Party press secretary. @danyalevy  (ex Dominion Post)

David Cohen is a freelance journalist who has done some work for Labour and Andrew Little:

Little under fire for unpaid workerFreelance journalist David Cohen was called into work on Mr Little’s campaign for the Labour leadership in October. His role was to distil Mr Little’s ideas

He did the job, sent an invoice, but nothing. So Mr Cohen complained in print in the latest National Business Review.

And David Cunliffe should know a bit about the journalist drift into politics.

Cunliffe appoints Cunliffe as chief press secretary

Labour leader David Cunliffe has appointed journalist Simon Cunliffe as his chief press secretary and media director.

Simon Cunliffe has been a deputy editor of the Otago Daily Times and a deputy editor of The Press in Christchurch.

That’s just for Labour.

National MP Paul Goldsmith may not have been a journalist but was a press secretary for and speech writer for Phil Goff (Labour), Simon Upton (National) and John Banks (National).

Does anyone know of any other ex journos in Parliament as MPs or working for parties?

Labour MPs at Eden Park

It’s hard to believe that a minor story I first heard about last Sunday is still getting attention.

Just about everyone is rolling their eyes at MPs, especially senior MPs, leaving themselves open to almost inevtiable embarrassment.

I don’t think it’s a big deal but it was greedy and dumb.

And the way Labour has managed (or not managed ) the story through the week has been weak.

But I wonder what Sky City were up to. Surely they would have known the likely consequences – especially if they also invited people who were bound to notice and make a meal out of it (it’s turned out being a banquet).

Were Goff, King and Faafoi set up? They certainly took the bait and have been hooked, harpooned and lampooned. Silly buggers.

And who would know what Shearer was up to?

Kava concerns in Psychoactive Substances Bill

NZ Herald chose to highlight concerns over kava being covered by the Psychoactive Substances Bill when it was introduced to Parliament yesterday.  This was an odd thing to focus on, it was one relatively minor point made in the speeches.

Bill seen as threat to kava

Culturally important substances such as kava could be captured by a law change which aims to stamp out harmful synthetic drugs, MPs have told Parliament.

Labour MP for Mana Kris Faafoi said it was unclear whether the law would ban or limit the sale of kava crops, used in a traditional drink consumed at Pacific Island ceremonies and gatherings. Kava contained psychoactive substances and could have a sedative effect.

Mr Faafoi said: “There is a lot of cultural significance to kava and kava ceremonies … for the Tongan community, for the Samoan community, and for the Fijian community. It is a serious issue.”

From Faafoi’s speech in Parliament:

KRIS FAAFOI: There is nothing in this bill to say that kava may not be included, so I believe that that is one of the issues. And Sam Lotu-Iiga will be interested in this, because he is never shy of an ‘ava ceremony. So if you read the bill—

Hon Maurice Williamson: It covers synthetic. It covers synthetic only.

KRIS FAAFOI: If you read the bill and clause 9, “Meaning of psychoactive substance”, it does not say anywhere in that part of the bill that it is just synthetic substances. So that is something that I think needs to be addressed at the select committee.

David Cunliffe was the only other MP to raise the issue:

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I also wish to just briefly record as a member of Parliament with a large Pacific Island community in my electorate the sensitivity around the issue of kava taking. It is a traditional substance, it is part of traditional routines, and we will want assurance from—

Hon Peter Dunne: Wrong bill. The natural products bill covers it.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Well, we will wait for the Minister to go on record when he is in the chair, and we look forward to that. We will want to have assurances from the Government that traditional cultural practices will not be inappropriately affected by this legislation

From the Bill:

Clause 9 defines a psychoactive substance as a substance, mixture,
preparation, article, device, or thing that is capable of inducing a
psychoactive effect in an individual who uses the psychoactive sub-
stance. Clause 9(c) specifically excludes controlled drugs (as speci-
fied or described in Schedule 1, 2, or 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act
1975), precursor substances (as specified or described in Schedule 4
of that Act), medicines, herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and
food from the definition. Alcohol and tobacco products are also gen-
erally excluded from the definition of psychoactive substance unless
the alcohol or tobacco product contains a psychoactive substance.
In addition, clause 9(b)(ii) and (c)(ix) provide that the definition in-
cludes or excludes a substance, mixture, preparation, article, device,
or thing that is capable of inducing a psychoactive effect in an indi-
vidual that is declared, by the Governor-General by Order in Council
made under clause 81, to be or not be a psychoactive substance for
the purposes of the Bill.

There is more detail in Psychoactive Substances Bill – download PDF (1.2MB)

(c) does not include—

(iv) a herbal remedy (as defined in section 2(1) of the
Medicines Act 1981):
(v) a dietary supplement (as defined in regulation 2A 10
of the Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985):
(vi) any food (as defined in section 2 of the Food Act
(ix) a substance, mixture, preparation, article, device,
or thing that is, or that is of a kind or belonging to 25
a class that is, declared by the Governor-General
by Order in Council made under section 81 not
to be a psychoactive substance for the purposes
of this Act.

Kava isn’t specifically mentioned but it seems obvious the intent of the bill is to not cover natural substances like kava and ‘ava.  Perhaps it is something that needs to be clarified in the legislation, unless it is already adequately covered by one or more of the above exceptions. It should be given appropriate attention in the committee stage.



‘Young’ Labour summer school

Young Labour are currently running a summer school in Wainuiomata. From Facebook:

Grant Robertson and Morehu Rei open Young Labour Summer School 2013. Really good numbers gathering on the outskirts of Wainuiomata. looking forward to a weekend of working with this great group of young people determined to make a difference.

Young Labour

Joanne Nixon

How young is young. Looks to be a few old heads there lol!

Seems to be a bit of snow on the mountains this summer.

Kris Faafoi supporting gay marriage bill

There was an uproar over Mangere MP Sua William Sio’s comments about voting against the marriage equality bill. Another Pacific Island/Labour MP has also spoken up and this probably won’t get as much coverage,  he’s with the majority of his fellow MPs on it.

Pacific Island MP standing strong for gay marriage

The Mana electorate’s Kris Faafoi says he’s not backing down.

The Labour caucus was given a talking to by leader David Shearer today over ill-discipline, including Mangere MP Sua William Sio’s claim the gay marriage Bill may cost it votes amongst the Pacific community.

Mr Faafoi has a large Pacific Island community in his electorate and says he is working to try and allay some of their concerns.

“I’ve got a lot of Pacific Island support and I’m speaking to a lot of the leaders in my Pacific Island community. I’ve told them straight up that I’m going to be supporting the Bill right through all its stages and that’s because I don’t believe that we should discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.”