China-NZ free trade upgrade talks soon

China seems willing to do what the United States under President Trump won’t – talk more free trade. Talks initiating an upgrade to the China-New Zealand free trade agreement has been announced.

NZ Herald: China-NZ free trade upgrade talks to start soon after meeting of PM Bill English and Premier Li Keqiang

Negotiations for an “upgrade” to the New Zealand – China free trade agreement will begin next month – a step Prime Minister Bill English said would help boost trade to $30 billion.

The April 25 start date for talks was announced after a bilateral meeting between China’s Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Bill English on Li’s visit to Wellington.

English said New Zealand was hoping for better access for some exporters under a renegotiated deal. New Zealand has been pushing for an upgrade since Australia signed its free trade agreement in 2015 on better terms than New Zealand’s 2008 model.

English said the FTA upgrade would help achieve the Government’s target of $30 billion in two-way trade by 2020 – up from $23 billion now. “The upgrade will allow us to modernise the FTA to take account of changes in our economic relationship since the FTA came into force.”

Premier Li, speaking through a translator, pointed to the importance of bolstering free trade at a time of a backlash against globalisation and free trade.

“This will give a strong boost to trade links between China and New Zealand and will send a positive signal to the world and to the region that our two countries are committed to free trade.”

This is unlikely to bother the current White House administration, but if more countries turn more to China and less to the US for trade it could significantly shift the balance of trade towards Asia.

If the US stops all free trade negotiations under Trump that could still put the US at a major trade disadvantage, and it would take them quite a while to get back into trade negotiation mode even if Trump only lasts 4 years.

Of course Trump building a trade wall around the US may be wonderfully successful for them. If so the rest of the Pacific and the rest of the world will move on without them.

Chinese Premier visiting NZ

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in New Zealand and was greeted by Prime Minister Bill English. The Premier is heading a trade deal and will be here for three days.

RNZ: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in NZ

He’s leading a business delegation that flew into Wellington on Sunday evening.

He and his wife Cheng Hong were greeted by Prime Minister Bill English and his wife Mary.

Several busses carrying Chinese people arrived outside the terminal, with people wearing red shirts and holding banners and both Chinese and New Zealand flags) to greet the Premier.

There were no obvious protesters.

Mr Li, the second highest ranking person in the Chinese hierarchy, will tonight attend a private dinner with the Prime Minister at Premier House.

Official talks with the government are due to be held tomorrow, and trade deals are expected to be the main focus.

The executive director of the New Zealand China Council, Stephen Jacobi, said the meeting was a great opportunity to demonstrate that both countries were serious about free trade.

Mr Jacobi said New Zealand’s representatives would need to focus on the remaining barriers for dairy and meat and horticulture exports, as well as e-commerce and investment.

The leader of China visiting New Zealand for trade talks is quite a big deal.

Sustainable Life: Perception deception

From Facebook: Sustainable Life Nz

This group is a dedicated platform for a variety of issues, ideas and platforms relating to

  • Connecting people involved in permiculture and sustainable living projects
  • Promoting abstaining from involvement in corporate monopolisms (purchasing goods from, or otherwise supporting corporations)
  • Discussing the globalist/corporatocracys centralization of power and resources, and the compromised nature of the political system
  • Unveiling political corruption, providing attention and awareness to social movements and activism that benifit the people

For the people, by the people. Dedicated to advancing the platform for social reform, holding any and all representatives accountable, and making our voices heard. Members are encouraged to contribute and share this group between likeminded individuals.

There is growing interest in various things sustainable these days, and we should certainly be looking at how we can continue to exist on our planet without exhausting it’s resources.

One of their posts:

Perception deception

There is a manipulation of our perceptions of reality taking place on a grand scale. This is conducted by a group or establishment of power, infecting all corners of society. Everything is a energy frequency, sound, light, vibrations, energy, symbols etc. it is all information- ‘in form’. This information can be distorted in a variety of ways. The human mind accesses a tiny band of frequencies, we can only perceive less than 1% of all visible light! Ask yourself, can I see everything in the environment around me, if the answer is yes can you see the radio, T.V, WiFi U.V, infrared, radioactive, radar, X-ray frequcines etc. These vibrational frequencies exist whether you are tuned into them or not. The way we interpret reality therefore can easily be distorted from the ‘natural order’. The type of perception deception I am referring to is a technique utilised by a structure of power to maintain control, and influence opinions and actions. This deception can be observed through government, media, finance, banks, corporations, military’s, education, modern medicine, royalty and the top % of the elite wealth system and the control of most natural resources. So why am I writing about this?

Humans are like sheep. Except we are worse because we do not need a sheepdog to keep ourselves in line. We use an invisible pen of social norms to keep each other in. By ridiculing those who leave the pen keeping them in fear of ridicule and condemnation, worrying about what everyone else thinks. How is this relevant to the world today?

We are born into a system where we are taught power comes from authority and we are rewarded for our compliance and our ability to recite a curriculum of education. We are largely trained to be left brained, logical, and our intellect is based on our physical world view. Rather than a diverse use of both the left and right sides of the brain. The right side of which is related to accessing a higher dimension of self, inspiration, unconditional love, and our artistic nature. So our ability to be free and creative thinkers is suppressed.

Society is fractured and our lives are compartmentalised. There is no integrated approach to living, that suits us all. As I write this, inequality is rampant, and over a billion people are starving worldwide. 1 in 5 children under 5 die every year that’s 1.7 million from indoor and outdoor pollution. The U.S has seven interventions going on including special ops, boots on the ground, drone strikes and full on invasions (In countries that didn’t attack them). They spend over 55% of their annual discretionary spending on the military, and have over 800 military bases worldwide. With the most spent on a military worldwide in all of history, spending 9x as much on their military as the next world nation. Yet they have over a trillion dollars in student loan debt, have a failing infrastructure with a grade of D, no universal healthcare and a crumbling class structure. The majority of print media and media you consume today is owned by 6 corporations. By controlling this gigantic propoganda machine the elites have influenced us to become disconnected from each other and the environment and as such we are easily distracted to irrelevant topics and issues such as terrorism and racism.


Human opinion is manipulated using a variety of system such as media, education, politics and police to influence us toward being receptive to certain hidden agendas. So things like the Iraq war can basically be instigated with societies ‘permission’. ‘They’ rely on the control of our perceptions to maintain power, keep us living in fear and to implement their agendas.

The generational system of control and power that I am referring to has been in control for tens, maybe hundreds of years. It gives us the illusion of choice. Our political system is a skeleton that puts on a different mask on voting day giving the illusion of change. There is a growing illusion of freedom of expression and movement.

This system can be quantified as capitalism>socialism and socialism for the rich. Crony capitalism that puts profits over people and the environment, and corporatism that controls the state. Corporatism that is by nature engineered to produce bulk profit. It has by this nature evolved into a cartel of extorting the 99% almost like a resource such as agriculture.

To fight this Goliath that seems so powerful we must realise it is a reflection of ourselves. We need to separate ourselves from materialism. We need to stop looking outside for happiness and take a deep step inside ourselves. We need to explore the non-physical. Individually we must understand the power of intention. Our intention is what we do, it determines the result of our actions. Change the intention change the result. If we intend to pollute the environment, we will have a polluted environment. If we intend to cause harm on to others, that will manifest into reality. We must realise that for us to remain under the control of this system it is crucial that we are kept divided. The man made concepts such as race, political beliefs, religion, class, are ideological lenses that lower our conscious awareness of existence. So it is an inner fight. Personally I recognise myself as consciousness having an experience and I try not to identify with man made concepts.

We have had the power all along, we just forgot. It’s time to wake up, get engaged, have our voices heard and drop the divisions of mankind we have imprisoned ourselves within, raise our level of consciousness and be the creators of our own reality, and not the sufferers of a manipulated one.

People over profits, get engaged.

5% Muslim myth?

I often hear claims that when the proportion of a country’s population reaches 5% (sometimes 3%) then all heel will break loose, Sharia Law will take over, praying to Mecca will become compulsory and the secular sky and Christian heaven will fall in.

I haven’t seen any substantial support of this ‘theory’. Some just state it as if it were fact, while sometimes a country with Muslim problems is cited as an example.

Muslim immigration is very contentious, and fear of terrorism is real, albeit out of proportion to the relative real threat.

There are people and groups who obsess about spreading fear of all Muslims, predicting dire consequences for any country that let’s it’s Muslim population reach 5%.

The 2013 census in New Zealand counted 46,149 Muslims, just over 1% of the population. About 7,000 of them are Maori, Pacific Island or European. The others come from a diverse range of countries including Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Fiji, with growing numbers of students from Malaysia.

Australia has about twice the proportion of Muslims, 2.2%.

The closest country to New Zealand with a Muslim population over 5% is Fiji (6-7%). Like ours their legal system is based on the British system. No Sharia. No major Muslim issues.

Just north of Australia is Indonesia, the country with the most Muslims in the world, about 87% of their total 263 million population.

While religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution, the government officially recognises only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.

A large proportion of Indonesians—such as the Javanese abangan, Balinese Hindus, and Dayak Christians—practice a less orthodox, syncretic form of their religion, which draws on local customs and beliefs.

There are also a number of indigenous religions. These seem to coexist with Muslims.

One part of Indonesia, Aceh, applies sharia law in criminal matters. In other parts of the country it just applies to civil law (marriage, inheritance, gifts) to varying degrees, parallel with their Roman Dutch based legal system.

Other countries with large Muslim populations have varying degrees of Sharia law and varied application. Sharia law applies in 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states. About 41% of the Nigerian population is Muslim.

In a number of countries with large Muslim populations sharia law plays no part in their judicial system


The only European country with a majority Muslim population is Bosnia and Herzegovina at 51% (Christian 46%). They have a civil (not sharia) law system.

Germany (1.9% Muslim) has Sharia as part of their private law but it is limited and only applies to people with nationalities from countries using Sharia.

The United Kingdom (about 4.3%) has a voluntary dispute resolution system, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal. The tribunals have the power to rule in civil cases. They operate under Section 1 of the Arbitration Act which states that: “the parties should be free to agree how their disputes are resolved, subject only to such safeguards as are necessary in the public interest”. This operates within the English law framework and is not a separate legal system.

I am not aware of any pressure to have similar tribunals operating in New Zealand. Muslims can try to resolve civil matters through the Disputes Tribunal of New Zealand like everyone else.

An estimated 8-10%of the French population is Muslim, many of whom emigrated from French colonies in northern Africa. They have significant issues – but these may be more to do with the percentage of Muslims who live in deprivation and with high unemployment rates rather than their percentage of the population.

Each country deals with the ethnicities and religions of it’s inhabitants as they see fit.

New Zealand has long had cultural diversity, including religious diversity. We have a history of religious tolerance. Nearly half of New Zealanders identify with no religion, and many others barely practice their religion.

From Islam in New Zealand:

The first Muslims in New Zealand were an Indian family who settled in Cashmere, Christchurch, in the 1850s. The 1874 government census reported 15 Chinese gold diggers working in the Dunstan gold fields of Otago in the 1870s.

Small numbers of Muslim immigrants from South Asia and eastern Europe settled from the early 1900s until the 1960s. Large-scale Muslim immigration began in the 1970s with the arrival of Fiji Indians, followed in the 1990s by refugees from various war-torn countries.

The first Islamic centre was started in 1959 and there are now several mosques and two Islamic schools.

The majority of the Muslims are Sunni, with a large minority Shia and some Ahmadi Muslims, who run the largest mosque in the country.

Contemporary Islam:

The number of Muslims in New Zealand according to the 2013 census is 46,149, up 28% from 36,072 in the 2006 census.

That’s quite a surge but on quite small numbers. Immigration numbers from countries tend to vary a lot so it is difficult to predict trends.

The community is noted for its harmonious relations with the wider New Zealand community, with various interfaith efforts from all sides contributing to this situation. FIANZ established the Harmony Awards as part of Islam Awareness Week in 2008 to recognise the contributions of New Zealanders to improving understanding and relationships between Muslims and the wider community.

We currently don’t have any appreciable problem with Muslims in New Zealand. They tend to blend in like the many other religions, and they have diverse ethnicities like the rest of the population.

There is no way of predicting with any accuracy whether the proportion of Muslims will ever reach 3% or 5% in New Zealand, and I’m not aware of any credible evidence that those thresholds on their own would have any particular risk anywhere in the world, and especially not in New Zealand.

Note: this post is a genuine attempt to explore and understand Muslim demographics and their potential effect on New Zealand. Feel free to discuss anything related to the content.

But please do not launch into general sermons about ‘them versus us’ or general mass dissing. If you think that Muslims are an issue in New Zealand then the topic deserves decent debate, and not screes of hobby horse rehashing.

Response to ‘Hit and Run’

Hager and Stephenson’s book ‘Hit and Run’ has made serious accusations, and the authors have suggested that it is possible war crimes may have been committed.

Response from John Key:

He may have more to say about it in his valedictory speech in Parliament today.

New Zealand Defence Force:

Ex Defence Minister Wayne Mapp from RNZ:

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says an SAS attack on insurgents in Afghanistan was not a revenge mission over the death of a New Zealand soldier last year.

Dr Mapp has confirmed an operation took place on 22 August last year in an area where Bamyan province borders Baghlan province, just over a fortnight after the death of Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell from a roadside bomb explosion.

Lieutenant O’Donnell was the first New Zealand soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan.

SAS troops were involved in the subsequent attack on the group of insurgents – killing nine Taliban fighters.

Dr Mapp says the joint mission took place involving New Zealand Special Operations Forces, Afghan National Security Forces and other coalition elements.

However he said it was not a revenge mission, but was carried out to protect the provincial reconstruction team and improve security for local people.

The minister said it would have been irresponsible not to act, given intelligence information had indicated operations against New Zealand soldiers were likely.

There is also audio of an interview with Mapp at : SAS attack not revenge over NZ death – minister.

There hasn’t been much time for official Government or party responses given that the book was launched after 5 pm yesterday.

I can’t find anything from the Government or from Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Neither can I find anything yet from Labour or from their defence spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

No sign of anything from NZ First nor from the Greens.

I expect some careful consideration will be given by the parties.


Labour won’t commit to Defence Force upgrade

New Zealand has a relatively modest defence force (officially called a “credible minimum force”, used mostly for peace keeping, humanitarian assistance and patrolling our fisheries.

A $20 billion upgrade, planned to span 15 years, has already begun.

Andrew Little has said that a Labour led government wouldn’t commit to this upgrade, citing other things as priorities.

RNZ: Defence Force upgrade in question under Labour govt

Labour leader Andrew Little has refused to commit to following through on the 15-year modernisation plan if he became prime minister, saying spending on housing and education would always take priority.

Last year the government unveiled the multi-billion dollar plan to equip the Defence Force with new aircraft, combat vessels and weaponry, as well as a major upgrade to its land and property.

It would cost $20bn over the next 15 years, and the procurement process for the some of the new equipment is already under way.

Mr Little said the government had not specified where all the money would be spent.

“That’s an area we’d have to look at and see what the commitment is about that $20bn.

“But I have to tell you when it comes down to a choice between doing stuff that’s going to give people a chance to either get a roof over their head, get the kids set up for opportunities for the future, then that’s got to come first,” Mr Little said.

So Labour may fund it’s policies not just from improving surpluses but also potentially by scrapping current spending commitments.

Our defence budget is about 1% of our GDP (the budget was about $3 billion in 2012). We have a substantial reliance on cooperation with other countries, particularly Australia which spends at about 1.9% of GDP.

Largest military spenders (SIPRI Fact Sheet):


More from RNZ:

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the plan was a modest way of making sure the defence force remained fit for purpose, and was able to respond to international threats and disasters back home.

“We don’t live in a benign environment,” Mr Brownlee said.

“This government has moved to put our defence forces in the best position they’ve been in for decades. What Mr Little is doing here I think is not expressing his own views but simply continuing a dialogue that lets him hold hands with the Green Party.”

Scrapping the modernisation plan would be a huge step backwards, Mr Brownlee said.

“It will be very disappointing if that were the price for a Labour-Green government. It would mean that we don’t have the same capacity to work with countries that are like-minded.”

Mr Little was unapologetic for what his priorities would be.

“We want to support our armed forces but there’s no point in saying we’ll have state-of-the-art equipment if the people that are rocking up to be recruited into the armed services don’t have a good education [and] good foundation that enables them to do that.”

No details on how much Labour might cut the Defence Force upgrade budget and what they would scrap.

Can the Democrats learn and move on from Clinton?

In the US the Democrats are in disarray after not only an embarrassing loss to Donald Trump but also their failure to win majorities in either the Senate or Congress.

Trump should never have been able to win the presidency, but alongside other factors the Democrats managed to make a mess of their selection – Hillary Clinton – and their campaign.

Is there any sign of learning from their mistakes and rebuilding their chances?

Howard Kurtz at Fox: After Hillary: Are the Democrats ready to move beyond Clintonism?

The question now: Has the Democratic Party moved on from Clintonism?

Both the left and right are asking that question as the party tries to rebuild in the Trump era. I have no idea who might emerge for 2020, given the strikingly thin bench, or whether the party wants to go further left or try to recapture the working-class voters that it lost to Trump.

It seems the Democrats haven’t really had that debate, even with the low-profile chairman’s race won by Tom Perez. But some in the media are starting to examine the rubble left by 2016.

It’s not that Hillary herself has a political future. In a Rasmussen poll, 58 percent of likely voters don’t want her to run again, while 23 percent would like to see that.

But a Clinton-like candidate might face the same lack of excitement for a program of incrementally improving government, even without her flaws as a candidate.

On the other hand, a Bernie-style populist could connect on issues like trade, but might simply be too liberal to win a general election.

But surely the Democrats can come up with someone fresher and newer than Clinton or Sanders.

Salon: To win, the anti-Trump resistance must learn from the Clinton campaign’s mistakes

What’s interesting is how Salon sees Clinton as having blundered by pretty much running as the anti-Trump:

“Of all the strategic blunders made by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the most consequential — apart from neglecting the Rust Belt states — may have been the campaign’s ill-advised decision to portray Donald Trump as an outlier in the GOP who did not represent true Republican values.

“In the early stages of her campaign, Clinton went out of her way to defend the Grand Old Party’s reputation and highlight some of the conservative critiques of Trump, so as to emphasize her opponent’s uniquely ‘deplorable’ nature.”

That “backfired spectacularly,” the piece says, by alienating progressives and boosting Trump’s underdog status.

“The grand irony here, of course, is that liberals — not leftists — are the ones who have started to sound increasingly like alt-right conspiracy theorists. While alt-right Info-Warriors spew their conspiracy theories about the deep state’s planning a coup against Trump or about former President Barack Obama’s wiretapping of Trump Tower, liberals have gone in the other direction, embracing their own overwrought conspiracy theories with an all-powerful Vladimir Putin at the center of it all.

“But Putin is not responsible for the Democratic Party’s losing control of nearly 1,000 state legislature seats and all three branches of government during the Obama years.”

It is yet to be proven whether Russia interfered with the US election but even if they did the Democrats should have been able to benefit from the allegations. Remarkably Trump won despite being linked with Russia.

Clinton was a poor choice but even then a decent campaign is likely to have succeeded. Trump didn’t win by much (a few hundred thousand votes in a few states made the difference).

The Democrats are in a mess of their own making.

Labour in the UK are also in a self inflicted mess.

Labor in Australia have been in disarray for years.

Labour in New Zealand is trying to make a comeback after struggling after Helen Clark lost in 2008 and stood down, but they are still languishing in polls and have conceded reliance on the Greens to try and compete in this year’s election.

Are these all coincidental messes? Or are left wing parties losing their way in the modern world with no hope of success unless they rethink and rebrand?

NZ housing “most unaffordable in the world”

The Economist says that New Zealand now has the most unaffordable housing in the world, according to Newshub.

New Zealand housing most unaffordable in the world – The Economist

Across five different measures, New Zealand has come out on top of three of the five measures for the most expensive global housing market.

New Zealand has had the highest rise in house prices, costs the most against the average person’s income and now has the biggest difference between house prices and renting prices.

This will only apply to some parts of New Zealand, particularly Auckland and Queenstown. The rest of the country is less unaffordable to varying degrees.

In the latest edition of The Economist, figures show that in the past 46 years New Zealand’s house prices have risen by more than 8 percent on average a year.

It’s a trend repeated among other first world countries, including the United Kingdom, which had a 7.65 percent average rise annually over the same timeframe, and Australia, where house prices rose more than 6.4 percent a year on average.

According to The Economist, those numbers have remained solid in the past seven years with New Zealand’s numbers showing a 7.9 percent consistent increase per year since 2009.

The Economist puts this trend down to “a growing horde of rich foreigners” coming to New Zealand because the see it as a “safe haven”.

“In 2016 overseas investors bought just 3 percent of all properties. But their purchases were concentrated at the expensive end of the market, which is growing fast: sales involving homes worth more than NZ$1m increased by 21 percent.”

The findings don’t get any better for New Zealanders, showing that in the last 10 years, the average price against a person’s income has risen dramatically.

This makes it difficult for people needing to get large mortgages, and very difficult for first home buyers in some parts of the country.

Building has ramped up significantly over the past year or two, but it was slow to catch up with an increasing population, causing a shortage and initiating the price spiral.


Life expectancy and superannuation

One of the reasons given for needing to increase the age of eligibility for New Zealand’s universal superannuation is the baby boomer bubble that is will raise the number of people who qualify substantially.

Another factor is life expectancy – with more of us living longer that lengthens the time we are paid Super.

Here are life expectancy trends from Statistics New Zealand:


This is god for showing improved life expectancy trends, but I have always been unclear what this means for someone born in the 1950-60s. Perhaps we had a higher chance of dying young than babies born now.

This trend gives a better idea of what our expectations are now (subject to life’s lotto):


See information about this data.

In 1977 the Muldoon introduced universal superannuation for everyone from 60 years old.

Then average life expectancy for a man was about 65+13 years (18 years of pension), and for a woman it was about 65+17 (22 years of pension).

The age of eligibility was raise to 61 in 1992 and gradually rose to 65 in 2001.

In 2001 average life expectancy for a man was about 65+17 years (17 years of pension), and for a woman it was about 65+20 (20 years of pension).

In 2013-15 average life expectancy for a man was about 65+20 years (20 years of pension), and for a woman it was about 65+23 (23 years of pension).

So people are on pensions on average about three years longer than at the start of the century. And life expectancy is predicted to keep improving so this will keep growing – unless the age of eligibility is increased.

Record high immigration/returning Kiwis

The number of people coming to New Zealand hit a new high in January, although this was mainly due to returning New Zealanders rather than new immigrants.

RNZ: Migrant numbers hit new record high as NZers return

Official figures show more than 71,300 people settled here in the year to January, beating the previous annual record set a month earlier by 700.

The January month also set a new high of 6460 – the fifth successive month net migration has exceeded 6000.

Migrant arrivals hit an all-time high of 128,300 in the January 2017 year, with about a third of the total being on work visas, while returning New Zealanders also figured prominently.

“The strength of our labour market and general economic outlook are key influences,” Westpac Bank senior economist Satish Ranchhod said.

That’s a good sign for our economy, but it is likely to put even more pressure on housing.

Not everything is on the rise.

More stringent student visa requirements in the wake of abuse of English language requirements and fraudulent applications have made a dent in numbers, falling 13 percent to 24,300 for the year.

But that was made up for by returning Kiwis.

“About a fifth of all migrant arrivals were from Australia,” Statistics New Zealand population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

“Almost two-thirds of the migrant arrivals from Australia were New Zealand citizens.”

The Government can’t control the number of New Zealanders who want to return, but they have tried to reduce the number of new immigrants.

Last year, the government moved to reduce the number of new migrants, including raising the points needed in the skilled migrant category to 160 from 140, and more than halving the number of people allowed entry under the family category to 2000.

And tourist numbers also continue to rise.

The number of visitor arrivals rose to 381,100 in January and 3.54 million for the year, both record highs.

“The strong increase in visitor arrivals in January 2017 coincided with the Chinese New Year,” Mr Dolan said.

“Over 54,000 visitors from China arrived in New Zealand in January 2017.”

Half of the annual increase in tourist arrivals came from Australia, China and the United States.

And this is putting pressure on infrastructure in tourist areas as well as on tourist attractions.