All Blacks dominant

The All Blacks have dominated the Springboks in their final Rugby Championship game, scoring seven tries in a second half rout and nine in the game to South Africa’s five penalties. The final score was a record high versus the ‘Boks, 57-12.

The All Blacks played very well but the Springboks were very disappointing. They did little but shovel the ball a bit and kick a lot.

The AB’s have dominated the whole Rugby Championship, winning all games and leaving South Africa, Australia and Argentina scrapping over the dregs.

With the latter two soon to play their final game the table already says it all, with none of the others getting half the AB’s points – in fact no matter what the result is there the All Blacks have clocked up as many or more table points than the other three teams combined.


With their dominance this year some games get boring but this game was well worth watching given the performance of the All Blacks, they played some fantastic rugby.


‘Most effective’ Prime Minister

Advantage at The Standard has ranked what they think is the effectiveness of all New Zealand Prime Ministers since 1940.

Our most effective Prime Minister

  • RANK: 1 Peter Fraser PM 1940 – 1949
  • RANK: 2 Sidney Holland PM 1949-1957
  • RANK: 3 Helen Clark PM 1999-2008
  • RANK: 4 John Key PM 2008-
  • RANK 5: Robert Muldoon PM 1975-1984
  • RANK: 6 Jim Bolger 1990-1997
  • RANK: 7 David Lange 1984-1989
  • RANK: 8 Keith Holyoake PM 1960-1972
  • RANK: 9 Norman Kirk PM 1972-1974
  • RANK: 10 Jack Marshall PM 1972
  • RANK: 11 Geoffrey Palmer 1989-1990
  • RANK: 12 Jenny Shipley 1997-1999
  • RANK: 13 Walter Nash PM 1957-1960
  • RANK: 14 Mike Moore 1990
  • RANK: 15 Bill Rowling 1974-1975

Reasons have been given for these rankings. It has stirred up a bit of debate, especially about the current Prime Minister.

I’m surprised by Muldoon being so high unless effectively bankrupting the country counts for something. Holyoake may deserve better too.

Anyone here want to do their own ranking?

Sanders/Trump/Brexit syndrome in NZ?

In the US and UK where there’s a lot of disillusionment with politics and parties, as illustrated by strong levels of support for alternatives like Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn.

Volatile polls suggest there could be a large lump of disgruntlement in New Zealand too, but there is one significant difference here – no political alternative has appealed as much.

NZ First has picked up some of the protest support, but Winston Peters is hardly a breath of fresh air on the political scene here.


Waiting for the top job…

None of the other alternatives have popular appeal – Andrew Little, Metiria Turei and James Shaw don’t have the maverick attraction of Sanders, Trump, Corbyn.

However Brexit may have a parallel in our flag referendum,

There may be a groundswell of disgruntlement but here there is no one to attach it to.

Massey and other un-PC names

Suggestions have been made that Massey University change it’s name because the person it is named after said some racist things in the 1800s.

Stuff: Massey racism provokes call for university name change

Massey University lecturer Steve Elers is calling for a name-change for his university because he says its namesake, former Prime Minister William Massey, was a racist.

A racially-charged debate is igniting over research that has revealed “white supremacist” comments made by the prime minister Massey University is named after.

Now, almost a century on, a top academic is calling for the university to consider a name change.

The controversial call comes from Massey lecturer and recent PhD scholar Steve Elers, who was startled to uncover blatantly racist comments made by William Ferguson Massey.

Some of Massey’s quotes presented included: “New Zealanders are probably the purest Anglo-Saxon population in the British Empire. Nature intended New Zealand to be a white man’s country, and it must be kept as such”; and, “I am not a lover or admirer of the Chinese race. I should be one of the very first to insist on very drastic legislation to prevent them coming here in any numbers, and I am glad such is not the case.”

During Massey’s lifetime many people freely expressed views considered unacceptable today, Elers said. However, any justification that his comments were made “a long time ago” and in another context was “irrelevant”.

So should we have a good look at all New Zealand institution and place names and change any that hint at an un-PCness to something that is bland and inoffensive?

Who wants a capital city named after a gumboot?

What other university names are suspect?

Lincoln – the earl of Lincoln’s marriage ended after a scandal

Canterbury – the Canterbury Association colony was “based upon theories developed by Wakefield while in prison for eloping with a woman not-of-age”

Otago – spelt and pronounced wrong

Victoria – ruled at the height of colonialism

Auckland – another colonialist, he stuffed up Afghanistan

Waikato may be the only one that passes the PC test.

There’s a heap of place names that could be scrutinised too. For example:

Palmerston – sounds quite sexist and elitist eg “The landed interest is the great foundation upon which rest the fabric of society, and the institutions of the country”

Hastings – colonialist, impeached and stood trial for corruption

Cromwell – very anti-Irish.

At least North Island and South Island are probably bland enough to pass the PC test.

What other New Zealand names should we consider changing?

Zeeland – synonymous with flooding, not a good omen with impending sea level rises.






Seeking support for new, cheaper medicinal cannabis

A silly headline but a useful article from NZ Herald: Medical marijuana: Is NZ dazed and confused?

A conservative lobby group is seeking support for new, cheaper medicinal cannabis for chronic pain relief.

Kat Le Brun, by her own admission, is a “grumpy” Christian student teacher from Nelson, and Jacinta, a tiger mother with a quickfire voice.

What do they have in common? Pain. Not bang-your-thumb-with-a-hammer pain, but the sort of pain that lasts as long as you do.

Chronic pain.

Many people suffer from chronic pain and legal pain relief products are not always effective – and can be addictive, like  morphine.

“I believe we have to focus on the medical at this stage. It might be selfish but it’s all getting muddled up. We need to look at one issue. This is too much for the politicians to deal with.”

This conflation of medical marijuana and general legalisation may be one reason why New Zealand seems stuck, while our neighbours and allies are moving quite fast.

Medical marijuana is legal in 25 states of the United States, half the country.

In Australia, Victoria and ACT are preparing to join the party.

Ross Bell from the NZ Drug Foundation says after all these years railing against the evils of marijuana our Government is in a bit of a quandary.

“They think they are the drug warriors. Medical marijuana is confusing them, ‘we should do something but we don’t know what’. Something’s not computing. They don’t know what to do to meet the needs of the 75 per cent.”

New Zealand is certainly lagging behind the US and Australia on enabling the legal use of medicinal cannabis products.

Like Kat, Nichola’s tried marijuana and finds it transformative.

“It works and it’s a crime that it’s not available to us,” says Nichola. But just like Kat she refuses to turn herself into a criminal.

“I have quite strong values. I don’t want to blur the lines.”

In the blurry world of right and wrong all these women have had more experience with hard drugs than any of the dodgiest-looking characters on the protest.

Tramadol, OxyContin, morphine. You name it. Nichola is even taking heroin substitute methadone. She longs for medical marijuana to be legal.

“That’d be incredible. I’d be burning all my drugs my methadone and fentanyl patches.”

Patient frustration at the fringe nature of the movement has birthed a new conservative pressure group.

The co-ordinator is Kat’s husband Shane Le Brun.

“It’s been a long journey. Before my wife was injured we chucked flatmates out for drug use once upon a time. Now the tables have turned,” says the former soldier and National Party voter.

It’s called MCANZ. Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand.

They are trying to normalise the health benefits only of cannabis products.

A report to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman obtained under an Official information request says “there is a lack of robust clinical data and evidence of patient benefit”.

Kat, Nichola and Jacinta’s daughter have carried out their own personal trials and believe it works for chronic pain. For them anyway.

Not a cure or anything but a great alternative to opiates.

“It means pain relief that doesn’t affect me in a bad way,” says Kat. “A natural solution without all these massive side effects.”

With one in five kiwi adults suffering from chronic pain, Shane believes there are thousands out there who could benefit from medical marijuana.

But he’s careful not to suggest that it’s a panacea.

“At one end conservatives say it gives you schizophrenia and is so addictive and horrible. Then you’ve got those who say it will cure all ills and you never need another drug again. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.”

Getting New Zealand to catch up with that middle is a challenge given the current Government’s unwillingness to change the law.

Revelations that Martin Crowe and Paul Holmes used marijuana to mitigate the effects of chemotherapy has no doubt bolstered public opinion in New Zealand.

Since 2003 the number of people in favour of medical marijuana has doubled.

“We have people like Sir Paul Holmes using it in his dying days,” says Shane.

“You don’t have to be a hardcore lefty for that to strike a chord.”

Helen Kelly is another high profile user of medicinal cannabis, the difference being she is going public while she is still alive (albeit dying).

Shane agrees there’s a lot of compassionate cultivation going on.

“Some people will just grow and do it on the sly to self-medicate.”

But as Ross Bell warns, if you are treating kids with seizures you probably don’t want just anyone boiling up cannabis oil, you probably do want pharmaceuticals.

MCANZ is supportive of Rose Renton’s work, but as a conservative charity can’t support home-growing.

“As the only patient-led group playing within the rules we hope to be taken a little more seriously. All we care about is getting medicine into patients hands and getting rid of the background noise.”

To that end MCANZ is trying to make two cannabis-based medicines from a Canadian company called Tilray available for patients.

But there are hoops.

First they have to be assessed by the Ministry of Health, then personally signed off by Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne.

The MCANZ applications are expected to land on Dunne’s desk in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, Kat and Shane are contemplating a second baby.

They hope medical marijuana might be available by the time it arrives. Their first child was born addicted to narcotics because of all the painkillers Kat had been prescribed.

“What my son went through because of the medication … For two weeks he had to go through withdrawals. I would not wish that on anyone. That’s what opiates do.”

What is currently available legally has major drawbacks, generally and compared to cannabis products.

They are sharing this personal story in the hope the decision makers will listen.

“They should come and sit with us and see what goes on with our families on a daily basis,” says Shane.

“There’s so much suffering our people go through. All behind closed doors. The only way is to open it up.”

Seeking support for new, cheaper medicinal cannabis seems the sensible, logical, relatively safe and compassionate way to go.

Are we a country of casual racists?

Apparently claims have been made that we are a country of casual racists because of something one person said on a ‘reality’ TV show. Mass blaming because of one comment seems ridiculous, but Heather du Plessis-Allen has written a column about it.

NZH: Give the prejudice test a go

Now seems an opportune time to test your bigotry, given claims that The Real Housewives of Auckland proves we’re a country of casual racists.

I don’t think a comment by one attention seeking housewife from Auckland has got anything to do with me.

In the latest – and most dramatic – episode, housewife Julia Sloane – who is white – refers to another housewife – who is not white – as a boat n*****.

Things go understandably awry.

There is crying, yelling and a champagne glass used as a projectile.

Call me cynical, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the term, that I would have thought was rarely used in New Zealand, was staged to stir up publicity. Isn’t that how those programs work? Yeah, I’m prejudiced against programs like that.

It’s a surprise anyone still uses the n-word this side of the millennium. It’s the second-most offensive word in New Zealand and has been for at least 17 years, according to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

But, it’s a little hysterical to claim this is proof New Zealand is populated by a horde of casual racists who treat other ethnicities with the kind of cavalier disregard suggested by a phrase like casual racism.

I don’t know whether the mass blaming was done hysterically or not but it’s both stupid and it’s offensive to me.

Still, the event has given us a good chance to have a hunt around the attic of our attitudes and toss out a few we don’t need anymore. This is, after all, week two of a debate about racism in New Zealand.

Last week we questioned whether Nikolas Delegat – the son of winemaker Jim Delegat – received a seemingly light sentence for assaulting a policewoman because he was white. We also asked why white first-time offenders are twice as likely as Maori offenders to be let off with only a pre-charge warning.

In the same week, I met a woman in a regional city who twice referred to Maori men as “boy”, in one case in the presence of the man in question, who looked like he’d seen about 40 more summers than your average boy.

Terms like “boy” are at worst loaded with connotations of slavery and oppression and at best patronising.

There is certainly quite a bit of racism and racist attitudes in New Zealand, but there is also quite a bit of blaming everyone for the sins of some.

So, perhaps now is the time to spring clean ourselves of our racist attitudes.

Give the prejudice test a go.

She is referring to what is claimed to be a simple test, but I don’t know how well it applies to New Zealand.

But you can try it and see if you are a casual racist or not.

It looks like you are supposed to read the disclaimer, click on agree and then then choose the Race option.


City survey – housing

The latest ‘best city’ survey – see Dunedin, Wellington ‘best cities to live in’ – howed that surprisingly low numbers of people thought their city had a poor or very poor quality of life, ranging from 2% in Dunedin and Wellington to 4% in Auckland and Christchurch.

There were both unsurprising and surprising responses on one of the big issues (going by media coverage) – housing.

Stuff reports: Dunedin is the best NZ city to live in – just

While four in five urban Kiwis say they have a good quality of life, less than half consider their housing situation to be affordable.

Housing was one of the main reasons cited by people who said they had a poor quality of life, along with financial anxiety, poor health, and bad job prospects.

Unsurprisingly, Aucklanders were the worst hit, with just 41 per cent considering their housing situation affordable, less than the 42 per cent who said it was unaffordable.

That’s still an even split – probably not much different to the split between house owners and renters.

Those in Dunedin were the most likely to find their housing situation affordable, at 69 per cent.

People at the lower end of the financial scale will always find it difficult to afford housing, whether renting or owning.

It’s still possible to find houses in Dunedin for under $200k and $300k can by some fairly good properties.

Despite these housing issues life satisfaction remained quite high. Research leader David Stuart of the Wellington City Council was somewhat surprised by this.

“It’s a bit of a surprise that you can be facing pressure in one area in your life but still have other things that are working really well for you,” Stuart said.

“Housing is a driver of quality of life, but the strongest driver was a category of responses that would fit more into emotional and physical health.”

Sure many of us may like bigger flasher houses in nice quiet neighbourhoods with great views and handy to everything, but most people can get by with housing, whether renting or owning.

Some people really struggle with housing, probably quite a few in places like Auckland and Queenstown, but those problems are probably amplified somewhat by politicians with agendas and media seeking headlines.

They survey says that in most of the major cities in New Zealand from 1 in 25 to 1 in 50 people think that their city lifestyle is poor or very poor.

Most of us wouldn’t mind winning Lotto but I think most of us also have realistic expectations.

Dunedin, Wellington ‘best cities to live in’

‘Best city’ surveys give a bit of an indication of what people think but there are many factors to consider, like family, work, weather, education, health and what you are familiar with.

The ‘Quality of Life’ project does a two yearly survey, and in the latest one Dunedin and Wellington have come out on top:

Overall quality of life – extremely good+very good:

  • Dunedin: 27+61=88%
  • Wellington: 28+59=87%
  • Porirua: 19+65=84%
  • Hutt: 22+60-82%
  • Hamilton: 18+64=82%
  • Auckland: 18+61=79%
  • Christchurch: 20+58=78%

Those are percentages based on city councils.

Obviously with a much bigger population Auckland numerically has many more people satisfied with their city, but also quite a few more who are dissatisfied, 4% of one and a half million people is 60,000 people, about half the population of Dunedin.

A notable omission of the major cities is Tauranga.

Overall quality of life – poor+extremely poor


  • Dunedin: 2+0=2%
  • Wellington: 2+0=2%
  • Porirua: 2+1=3%
  • Hutt: 3+0=3%
  • Hamilton: 2+1=3%
  • Auckland: 4+0=4%
  • Christchurch: 4+0=4%

Those are remarkably low levels of dissatisfaction with cities, especially considering Christchurch and it’s problems with earthquakes. However about 20% of Christchurch residents said they were stressed “always” or “most of the time”.

Stuff reports: Dunedin is the best NZ city to live in – just

Dunedin has pipped Wellington to become the best city in New Zealand to live in, according to a new survey.


Statistically Dunedin and Wellington are the same so ‘best’ is barely . However if you combine the greater Wellington cities which include Porirua and Hutt they drop a bit down the scale.

Affordable housing, civic pride, and a strong sense of safety seem to be behind the good results for Dunedin in the biennial Quality of Life Survey.

Those in Dunedin were also more likely to be physically active and less likely to be stressed than their urban counterparts.

The study questioned 7155 Kiwis across seven urban areas and two wider regions. Quality of life in general was relatively steady across the two previous surveys in 2014 and 2012.

The Stuff article covers a number of issues affecting people’s opinion s on their cities, such as stress, traffic and safety.

Wellingtonians were also the most welcoming to outsiders. About three quarters of the capital’s respondents said that New Zealand becoming home for people with different lifestyles and cultures made their city a better place to live in.

Aucklanders were the least welcoming, with just over half (52 per cent) saying diversity was a net positive and one in five saying it was a net negative.

It’s interesting that Auckland has by far the most immigrants and is the least tolerant of them, but ‘locals’ will be seeing huge changes to their city (or in many cases their adopted city).

I will post separately on what the survey found about housing.

NZ ‘climate snapshot’

Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett has praised New Zealand’s progress on addressing climate change.

Climate snapshot shows NZ’s progress

A report released today shows New Zealand is making good progress in tackling climate change and is focused on the next steps, Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett says.

‘New Zealand’s Action on Climate Change’, produced by the Ministry for the Environment, brings together information about the science, global momentum and domestic work to transition to a lower emissions future.

“Climate change is an incredibly important issue, but too many people find it complex or get put off by the politics,” Mrs Bennett says.

“This snapshot of the things we’ve done, are doing, and still need to do will help New Zealanders better understand how we can leave the planet a better place for future generations.

“From the central and local government’s investment and support, through to research, businesses, iwi and households, there is some really impressive work underway that can give New Zealanders confidence we are on a path to grow with fewer emissions.”

Released today to coincide with a United Nations event to encourage early ratification of the Paris climate change agreement, the snapshot will be updated regularly as New Zealand’s work programme progresses.

“I’d encourage all New Zealanders to take a look, think about what they’re already doing to preserve our stunning environment we’re all so proud of, and what else their family and workplace can do to reduce emissions,” Mrs Bennett says.

A copy of the climate snapshot is available here:

Key: “Syria has become a byword for failure”

RNZ reports on John Key at the Security Council: Devastating Syria conflict ‘a byword for failure’

Prime Minister John Key has told the UN the conflict in Syria is a byword for failure and the international response has so far failed.

Mr Key chaired a heated Security Council session on Syria in which the US called for all planes to be grounded in key areas of the country to save the truce there, following an attack on an aid convoy.

Opening the meeting, Mr Key said the Syrian civil war the most devastating conflict of the 21st century and no other other issue more urgently demanded the attention of world leaders.

The conflict had created security threats that reach well beyond Syria’s borders and after more than five years of violence, Syria had become a byword for failure.

“Failure of the parties and their supporters to put peace, and the lives of innocent people ahead of self-interest and zero-sum politics. Failure to respond to the crisis early to prevent this tragedy. And a collective political failure, including by this Council, to do what must be done to end the conflict.

The problem was not a lack of direction, he said, as the pathway for ending this conflict was set out by the Security Council last December but the timetable for implementing them was never carried out.

“Today we all need to commit to restoring the cessation of hostilities, delivering aid to those who need it, and restarting political talks.

“Last week’s arrangement between US Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov represents the best hope we have seen in some time.

“We encourage Russia and the US to show sustained leadership and not let this opportunity slip away.”

The next few days would be critical in restoring the cessation of hostilities and getting humanitarian aid flowing, he said. “We urge the Syrian parties to abide by the arrangement. This Council should unite to back those efforts.”

But the US and Russia followed looking as though a solution in Syria may be as difficult to achieve as ever.

Lavrov called for an independent investigation into the convoy attack, and said all parties needed to take simultaneous steps to stop the war.

Kerry said the future of Syria was “hanging by a thread”. He said Monday’s attack, which killed 20 civilians, had raised profound doubt over whether Russia and the Syrian government would live up to terms of the ceasefire deal.

Moscow has denied being involved. An impassioned Mr Kerry faced off with Lavrov saying the bombing of the aid convoy raised “profound doubt whether Russia and the Assad regime can or will live up to” ceasefire obligations. Listening to Mr Lavrov made him feel like he was living in a “parallel universe”, Mr Kerry said.

Parallel universes:

  • The aims and ideals of the Security Council
  • What the Security Council achieves

Key tried hard but it was probably as effective as humming in a hurricane.

A five year hurricane of violence continues to devastate Syria and destabilise the world.