More than a feather in her cap

That’s my Mum, Dawn Lloyd, about 1932 in Queenstown (it’s changed a bit there since). She loved animals – she preferred cats to dolls in her pram.

Also her family.

Brothers Dennis and Norman Lloyd with pups

 

My Mum with the cat

 

It was a family thing, probably common in those days
Looks like the Remarkables in the background

My Nana and a team of clydesdales

It wasn’t all idyllic – there were risks. Glenys remembers:

As far as I can remember mum was taking a cow to the cow bail to be milked, and the bull got jealous and ran at mum and tossed her like a leaf.

I was standing there just looking, I remember it vividly. She was laying there on the ground and her dress was blowing in the breeze, and the bull was ready to make another charge, when Rona grabbed the chain hanging from his nose, and ran round and round the sycamore tree until the bull was caught around the tree and couldn’t get away.

Ken came out with a 22 rifle and started shooting the bull, I don’t know how it had got away, he chased it down to the Shotover beach firing 25 shots of ammo into it before it died.

Dr Anderson had said afterwards, that if mum had been a slim woman, she would have died from her injuries.

I remember it like it was yesterday, I think the dress was blue!

Rona would have been no more than 10 years old then.

Dr Anderson wrote a very interesting book about medical care in the then remote interior of the South Island – Doctor in the Mountains. When the Lloyds left Arturs Poiunt for Monowai in 1940 he gave a speech at their farewell. There was a report of this in the Lake Wakatip Mail:

Dr Anderson referred to the heroic part of two of the Lloyd children in saving their mother  from the ferocious attack of a bull. Such act was deserving of a Royal Humane Society medal. Mr Lloyd too in his staunchness of heart risked his life a year or two ago in extricating the late Mr Wheeler from a tunnel at Arthurs Point. Coming from England this family was made of good stuff.

 

Dawn and Rona in Monowai (Fiordland) – the family did the milking for the village

That was quite a different era, not all that long ago.

When I was growing up thirty years later we had calves, milked a cow, always had cats, chooks, dogs and ponies. Like my mother’s family we roamed freely around the countryside. We were poor financially, but in some important ways led rich lives.

Otago regional rates to rise 21%, then 23%

This is a bit of a shock – ORC plan adopted, rates to rise 21.1%

A 21% rates rise is on the cards as the Otago Regional Council finalises its long-term plan.

But wait, there’s more.

General regional council rates will rise 21.1% in the next financial year and are predicted to rise another 22.8% the year after.

Targeted rates will rise 5.4% in the next financial year and 5.7% the following year.

That means that rates of say $200 now would rise to $330 over four years.

The plan includes about $650 million in spending over the next 10 years and tackles new projects such as increased water monitoring, urban water quality initiatives and better preparing the region for climate change.

The cost of going green?

Also in the ODT today: Plans for $200m hotel complex

That’s plans for a hotel in Queenstown. Probably instead of a proposed hotel inn Dunedin, which once again faced vocal opposition and planning approval difficulties.

The man behind a so far unsuccessful bid for a five-star hotel in Dunedin’s Moray Pl has moved his attention to Queenstown.

An Environment Court appeal over his Dunedin five-star hotel planned for a site across the road from the Dunedin Town Hall was withdrawn last month, but he indicated at the time he was not giving up on the project.

Sounds like he has given up on Dunedin, like developers before him.

 

Kenneth Lloyd 1922-1945

My Uncle Ken was killed in 1945, near the end of World War 2. This is a memorial to an uncle I never knew, as remembered from family oral history and from what I can find online.

My maternal grandfather Robert David Lloyd was born in June 1894, near Carnarvon in North Wales. He served with the Welsh Fusiliers in World War 1, learning to speak English while in the army. He was badly injured in action, his life probably saved by a prayer book in his breast pocket.

He married my grandmother Florence Annie Davies (born September 1901) in 1921.

Kenneth William Lloyd was born in 27 May 1922 in the district of Forden. Two brothers and two sisters were also born in Wales.

The family wanted to emigrate but couldn’t get assisted passage due to my grandfather’s health as a result of his war wounds. He was an electrician, and also a keen photographer. In the late 1920s sold photos he had taken of a train crash to the press, and the money from this was enough to buy tickets to New Zealand. they reached their final destination, Queenstown, in 1929. Three more children were born there, including my mother.

The Wakatip Mail records Kenneth Lloyd (along with his brother Norman) in P. II in the Queenstown Public Schools breakup in December 1929. He was dressed as a clown in the Fancy Dress Dance in December 1930, and again in the Poster & Fancy Dress Dance in December 1931. He was in Std 3 in 1932.

Ken played the banjo (and his mother the piano) at a social function in Arthurs Point in January 1940 to farewell his brother Norman who was leaving to rejoin his ship H.M.S Leander.

In 1940 the Lloyd family were farewelled from Arthurs Point. They moved to Monowai, where Robert Lloyd had a new job at the power station there. Monowai, south of Te Anau and Manapouri in Fiordland, was about as far from the war as you could get but the road into the power station was guarded by armed sentries.

Ken enlisted in the Infantry Brigade and embarked with the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force in 1943. He served in the Italian Campaign, and was killed in action in the Spring Offensive on 12 April 1945. The Germans surrendered in Italy on 2 May 1945. My father also served at the tail end of the war in Italy.

Portrait, Weekly News - This image may be subject to copyright

The Italian campaign:

These excerpts  cover the time of Ken’s death on the 12th April – IV: Gate-crashing the Santerno Line

Sappers from 6 Field Company began work before nightfall on the 11th on a bridge in 28 Battalion’s sector. Despite harassing sheil and mortar fire the approaches were bulldozed before it was dark, which allowed the bridging train to get to the site without delay.

Within the next two hours two squadrons of 18 Armoured Regiment, 32 Anti-Tank Battery and 28 Battalion’s support weapons were safely over the river. A squadron of 20 Armoured Regiment crossed just before dawn on the 12th, followed by the third squadron of 18 Regiment. The other two squadrons of the 20th used a crossing in 6 Brigade’s sector, where much bulldozing had to be done before one Ark tank was placed on top of another to make a bridge.

During the advance they met stronger opposition than had been expected—from tanks and machine guns.

By about 5 p.m. on 12 April the New Zealand Division was firmly on its first objective just short of Massa Lombarda. German tanks, horse-drawn transport and motor vehicles, packed with men and gear, could be seen from the air retreating along the roads from the town.

When General Freyberg learnt of the congestion of vehicles and guns trying to get away from Massa Lombarda, he telephoned Brigadiers Bonifant and Parkinson at 6.45 p.m. and told them to probe ahead; he also rang Brigadier Gentry (9 Brigade) and said it appeared the enemy was ‘pulling out on rather a big scale.

Fifth Brigade attacked with 23 and 21 Battalions. The 21st had left its location near Lugo in the morning, crossed the Santerno in the evening, and passed through 28 Battalion, which went into reserve at Sant’ Agata. Supported by tanks of C Squadron of 18 Regiment, 21 Battalion entered Massa Lombarda shortly before midnight without meeting the enemy, and reached the objective about 1 a.m.

Reading through the detailed account of the advance  I wonder at what stage my uncle may have been killed. It’s impossible to know. It seems unlucky to have been a casualty at that stage with the opposing forces largely in retreat, but millions of people were unlucky during World War 2.

Lake Wakatip Mail 26 April 1945

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Ken is buried in the Faenza War Cemetery, along with 1151 other Commonwealth casualties.

My mother visited her brother’s grave with my sister in the 1990s – there was a clap of thunder when they arrived at the cemetery, and another as they left.

My mother wrote in her memoir:

My second eldest brother, Norman, joined the Navy as a cadet at 15, but he was actually involved in the war right from the start when he was about 16 I think, which really ruined his life I think.  He had some horrific experiences I believe.  The only sort of news we were interested about was letters coming from his ships.

Then my oldest brother Ken, he was man-powered into the army eventually and he was sent away off overseas.  But we had great plans, when he came back from the war he was going to buy a farm and I was going to be his land girl and he was going to buy me a horse.

…after that year went by they had what they called the Cow Club.  They ran half a dozen cows from the village for milk and when I first started correspondence, my brother that was in the navy was home for some reason.I think he was probably an invalid at home, he was in a pretty bad way I think and he started milking the cows.  Someone had to milk the cows, I think he got paid about a pound a month, something like that, for milking the cows and delivering the milk round these 14 houses.

Then Norman went back to the navy again and I took over the cows myself, I used to milk the cows in the morning and night and deliver the milk.  I used to love it, I loved working with the animals.

Animals and farming was my life.  I was just dying for Ken to come home again so that we could get into the farm life.

Before he got into the army he had been man-powered into working at the Fortrose Dairy Factory and that’s where he really wanted to have a farm.  He talked of it once or twice, I thought I didn’t really care where he goes as long as he has a horse and a cow there, a dog and cat, but it would have been easier in those days to get into a farm.

My mother was 12 at the time Ken left for the war, 14 when he was killed. Dreams dashed. The wars changed a lot of things for many people.

Judge ‘misguided’ over discharge without conviction, overturned

The police have successfully appealed a discharge without conviction after multiple assaults in Queenstown.

The appeal was covered here: Infidelity, assault, discharge, appeal

ODT now reports:  Comments by judge were ‘misguided’

A man who assaulted his wife, daughter and best friend in Queenstown after uncovering an affair has been convicted after the Crown appealed a decision to discharge him without conviction.

The High Court yesterday released its decision, which overturns a district court judge’s decision.

Justice David Gendall found Judge John Brandts-Giesen erred by allowing the 58-year-old man, who has name suppression, to be discharged after he admitted the assaults on September 14 last year.

Comments the judge made at the time of his decision had been “misguided”, “unfortunate” and attempted to normalise and minimise the offending and blame the victims, Justice Gendall said.

Judge Brandts-Giesen first erred because his assessment of the gravity of offending was “clearly wrong” and secondly because there was insufficient material before him to find the consequences of convictions were out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending, he found.

In the Queenstown District Court, Judge Brandts-Giesen had said it was a “nasty assault” on one level but on the other it “had to be seen in its context” and the defendant “saw red” when he discovered the affair.

He then said “there would be many people who would have done exactly what you did, even though it may be against the law to do so” and, later, that it was a situation “that does your wife no credit and the [male victim] no credit”.

That was widely criticised, and led to the police appeal.

Justice Gendall considered Judge Brandts-Giesen’s assessment of the gravity was “misguided” and said he appeared to have been influenced by the views of the defendant’s wife.

The “unfortunate” comments the judge made during the hearing also seemed to be “influential” in his reasoning, Justice Gendall said.

“[The comments] attempt, first, to normalise and minimise the respondent’s offending and secondly, to blame the victims here … In my view, this is quite wrong and it worked to significantly derail the judge’s assessment of the gravity … here.”

Justice Gendall granted leave for the appeal, set aside Judge Brandts-Giesen’s decision, entered convictions on all three charges and ordered the matter be remitted to the Queenstown District Court for sentencing on May 7.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the sentencing process approach is to be conducted entirely afresh.”

Discovering a partner has declared love for a friend would understandably be very upsetting, but the appeal by the police and this ruling have made it clear that resorting to violence is not a justified response and there must be legal consequences.

Infidelity, assault, discharge, appeal

An interesting case down this way involving a family, infidelity, multiple assaults when discovered, a prosecution, a discharge without conviction, and now an appeal against that discharge.

Discovering infidelity of a spouse or partner would understandably be upsetting to may people, but is violence an unacceptable response?

We have a major societal problem, especially involving men, where adverse situations result in violence against others or against themselves (like suicides ,and domestic assaults including murder).

ODT:  Appeal sought on assault discharge

The Crown has applied for leave to appeal discharges without conviction granted to a man who assaulted his best friend, wife and daughter in Queenstown last year.

The 58-year-old Central Lakes man, who has name suppression, had earlier admitted assaulting his wife, daughter and best friend on September 14, having discovered a text between his wife and friend declaring their undying love for each other.

Ultimately, Judge Brandts-Giesen found the gravity of the man’s offending was low to moderate and the consequences of convictions were out of proportion.

A problem is that “low to moderate” violence can easily have serious unintended consequences, and can easily escalate  into very serious situations.

At the time he said while on one level it was a ”nasty assault”, on another it had to be seen in context and there would be ”many people who would have done exactly what you did, even though it might be against the law to do so”.

That is alarming. He is excusing violent assault on a highly questionable “many people who would have done exactly what you did”. Many people have to deal with infidelity and relationship breakups, and the vast majority don’t lash out violently, and that sort of reaction should not be portrayed as a normal reaction by the Court.

The man left the bar when he saw the text message, but then encountered the male victim in the CBD.

He assaulted his friend and then when his daughter intervened he grabbed her around the throat, pushed her down and held her there, causing bruising.

When the defendant’s wife stepped in, he pushed her and she fell to the ground.

Ms Thomas submitted the matter ”became derailed” during the gravity assessment because Judge Brandts-Giesen appeared to consider the offending or surrounding circumstances ”unusual”.

”Infidelity of itself is not an unusual phenomenon in society.

”Nor, in my respectful submission, is the discovery of infidelity.

”Nor is it … in the context of domestic violence, or when assessing gravity, unusual that there may be actions arising … out of what’s seen as infidelity and the finding of infidelity.

”The sad reality … of domestic offending that the courts grapple with daily … is that it’s not unusual at all.

”The learned district court judge erred in … allowing mitigating factors to be taken into account … that he ought not to have.”

Having made that error, she submitted he erred further in assessing the consequences of convictions.

That will be for the appeal court to decide, if leave for appeal is granted – the High Court judge reserved his decision.

Although Ms Denton agreed infidelity was not unusual, ”in [the defendant’s] world, it was”.

The defendant had known the male victim longer than his wife, his reaction that night ”was very unusual” and described it as ”visceral”.

”He did not see the situation coming”.

Many people do not see situations like this coming, but most do not react violently.

With regard to the more serious assault on his daughter, Ms Denton said it was not ”a traditional domestic violence incident” and he had no idea whom he had grabbed until after the incident.

”He only became aware it was his daughter when she came up to him afterwards and said. ‘Dad, look at what you’ve just done to me’.”

That sounds like he was out of control. Anything could have happened – anyone could have been harmed, potentially very seriously.

People get convicted for far less – for example for things like momentary carelessness when driving. They are prosecuted for the potential risk to others, even if there is no actual harm done.

It will be interesting to see how this appeal progresses, if leave for appeal is granted.

Finance debate impressions

The finance debate in Queenstown last night was not broadcast on mainstream TV so I thought that the audience would be small, but going by the surge in hits here due to the debate there seems to have been a lot of interest.

Stuff Live have a lot of points from the debate.

My overall impressions:

Steven Joyce – a knowledgeable and competent performance generally but struggles to be convincing on housing issues, the government’s big problem. Probably gained and lost few votes.

Grant Robertson – also a competent enough performance, knows his lines well. His big problem was emphasised several times, whether Labour would introduce a Capital Gains Tax or not.

  • Robertson keeps saying Labour is being transparent by not saying what they will do.
  • He says they have been transparent since 2015 on waiting for a tax working group to ‘advise’ at some time in the future, but two years is ample time to have got advice from tax experts.
  • He admitted it will be a political decision.
  • He keeps using the example of National increasing GST after saying they wouldn’t, which suggests an intent to do something different to what they are saying.

James Shaw – a very competent performance from him but the quietest and least prominent. He comes across as knowledgeable and reasonable (whether you agree with his policies or not). He won’t have harmed the greens and may have helped. However the Greens would benefit from having a stronger more charismatic co-leader.

David Seymour – promoted ACT policies well, spoke strongly and well, joked, and kept needling Peters with some success. He usually got a good response from the crowd. He won’t have harmed ACT’s chances but has a battle improving them – his performance will have helped.

Winston Peters – but I think he came across far too doom and gloom and cranky. He preached doom for the country unless he gets to run it, but wouldn’t commit to what he might do on a number of things, including CGT and whether he would go left or right. A number of petty attacks, especially against Seymour. A blustering bullying bullshitting old school politician who contrasts a lot with Jacinda Ardern. I doubt he would have increased his fan base last night.

Debate reports

ODT: Tax main debate topic

On a capital gains tax, Mr Gower asked New Zealand First leader Winston Peters if he would stop the Labour Party introducing one during potential post-election negotiations between the two parties.

Mr Peters avoided the question, instead telling Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson that he should tell the public before the election what rate the tax would be.

On an international tourist tax, Green Party leader James Shaw said his party had a different version to that announced by Labour on Monday, but he was confident any border levy up to about $50 a head would make no difference to tourist numbers.

Mr Peters said the Government should instead return the $1.5billion in annual GST receipts from tourism back to the regions where it was generated.

On the question of a bed tax, Finance Minister Mr Joyce said it was unnecessary because local councils, such as those in Queenstown Lakes and Auckland, effectively already had them in the form of targeted rates on businesses benefiting from tourism.

Mr Peters said he favoured the idea as a last resort if the Government failed to return more of its GST take to the regions, while Mr Shaw said he supported a recommendation for a national bed tax contained in last year’s McKinsey report, and also wanted campervans to be taxed.

But Mr Seymour said Act opposed bed taxes, and councils should instead be able to keep half the GST receipts on construction activity in their districts.

Newshub: Female candidates a sticking point at ASB Great Debate

ACT’s David Seymour, Labour’s Grant Robertson and Green’s James Shaw all amped up the popularity of their female politicians, at the end of the finance debate in Queenstown on Wednesday night.

Newshub:  David Seymour to Winston Peters on pension scandal: ‘Give them the file’

ACT Party leader David Seymour has called for New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to release his original form applying for the pension, after it was revealed he was receiving more than he was entitled to for seven years.

“I know that secret files don’t get out of the Government’s computers and into journalists’ inboxes by mistake,” Mr Seymour said at the ASB Great Debate in Queenstown on Wednesday night.

“One of the best things we could do is Winston, mate, just give them the file, so we can know it really was just a minor administrative error and we can all move on.”

It’s since emerged a number of National Party members were told about Mr Peters’ pension problems, as part of the ‘No Surprises’ policy. National finance spokesperson Steven Joyce, also at the debate, “categorically den[ied]” that a National member was involved in the leak.

Mr Peters argued they shouldn’t have been told at all, as it wasn’t relevant to the Government.

It wasn’t the only clash between Mr Seymour and Mr Peters during the debate, which saw another party representative joke the two were “like a couple of Chihuahuas”.

At one point Mr Peters scornfully pointed out Mr Seymour was talking big talk considering what his party was polling – 0.6 percent, according to the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll – and called him “a National party puppet”.

At another, Mr Seymour criticised Mr Peters’ many “bottom line”, his rules to working in a coalition with any party.

“He’s got more bottom lines than a 100-year-old elephant,” Mr Seymour cracked.

But Mr Peters was the one with the final laugh: “Mr Seymour, let me tell you: I will be there after the election and you won’t be.”

Stuff:  Winston Peters and David Seymour let it rip at debate

1 News: Watch: ‘Chinese sounding name argument’ hits a nerve in finance spokesmen’s debate

National’s Steven Joyce hit back when Labour’s Grant Robertson argued foreigners are speculating on NZ houses.

 

Election 2017 – Finance debate

Tonight there us an election finance debate in Queenstown from 7.00 – 8.30pm. The change of mind by one person to participate has increased media interest (it shouldn’t have made any difference). Those taking part:

  • Steven Joyce (National)
  • Grant Robertson (Labour)
  • James Shaw (Greens)
  • David Seymour (ACT)
  • Winston Peters (NZ First)

Topics: immigration, housing, tourism, the retirement age, inequality, employment and water.

Time: 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The debate will be broadcast with live video on the RadioLIVE and Newshub Facebook pages:

The ASB Great Debate is being hosted in Queenstown, with Newshub’s Patrick Gower as the MC.

There will be a catch-up audio broadcast on RadioLIVE beginning at 8:30pm.

Stuff will be live blogging and have a preview: Live: The big finance debate

We’re going to be live blogging through the night on this one and also bringing you some live stand-ups because what makes this particularly interesting tonight is that Peters is showing up. It’s understood Peters wasn’t going to be here because he refuses to debate Seymour but the leak of his superannuation overpayment has changed all that.

Being here gives Peters the opportunity to debate Joyce (remember Peters is blaming the National Party for leaking his overpayment and doesn’t believe Joyce that he didn’t know about it). So in short, expect some fireworks.

No doubt Seymour will do his best to wind up Peters over the course of the evening as well. They were on the same plane down to Queenstown and some of us on that flight were slightly alarmed about how that might turn out (for the record they didn’t speak to each other).


It was advertised to start at 7 pm. Live streaming started just after 7:10, to a peech by someone from the ASB. And the last 10 minutes the mayor of Queenstown has been speaking. He has just now finally stopped at 7:25 pm.

Starting with an opening statement from each MP.

James Shaw first. He says government should be solving the great problems of the time, and new Zealand has been run by grey administrators. He is giving a very general election speech, going through the three key Green policies. He got to the second, fixing a busted system of poverty. Then he ran out of time.

Winston Peters starts by saying how much the others in the campaign are throwing money around like 8 arm octopusses, without a hint of irony. He says we need a dramatic change of direction with economic and social change required.

Steven Joyce starts by positively promoting how well business is doing. He is targeting business but also mentions families. National’s main thrust. A fairly good speech for a business audience.

Grant Robertson talks about ‘the opportunity facing New Zealand”. “If we invest properly in our people…we will be able to seize those opportunities”. He claims New Zealand is in a “productivity recession”.  He pushes the three years free education not just for university but also trades.

David Seymour says we are heading towards bankruptcy and if the election doesn’t get here soon the country will run out of money. Not just financial bankruptcy but also intellectual bankruptcy. A few swipes at National. “We have to fix our RMA”. He’s got a few facts and figures. He claims to be 16 points ahead in the Epsom electorate so says a part vote won’t be wasted.

Then a diversion to the Super leak.

Joyce categorically denies any Minister leaked.

Shaw says he it is very said we are going through a series of scandals. Big cheer.

Robertson agrees and says that is not what this debate is about to bigger cheers.

Peters goers over all the claims he has made over the last few days. He has been allowed to hijack the finance debate. Major accusations. Polite shot applause. Nothing gained by letting him rehash.

Now something key to Queenstown – housing. But each MP is allowed to give a speech which is saying nothing much new.

Robertson carefully talks about cracking down on speculators to a Queenstown audience.

Peters gives his usual spiel, subdued applause.

Shaw gives a reasonable speech, promotes CGT, reasonable applause.

Seymour gives one of the strongest speeches and criticises National more than Labour, strong on reforming the RMA. He promotes half GST on construction to local government. His speech gets strong applause and laughter.

Peters then attacks Seymour saying he is giving a valedictory speech.

Robertson is asked to rule out CGT on businesses and farms – he defers to ‘getting the best advice possible’. Joyce slams him for not being up front, Robertson has a response ready – back to national raising GST, but that’s risky territory promoting the idea of a post election somersault.

Peters sounds very whiny about how bad things are, but he won’t commit to any policy positions. Asked about stopping Labour imposing a CGT and he says he was a Treasurer once.

Robertson again asked on CGT on businesses – he again avoids it. Audience groans.

Seymour and Peters going hammer and tongs again, Seymour digging on peters not deciding if he would stop a CGT or not, or whether he would go left or right, and saying businesses want certainty. Peters bites and rants and says Seymour won’t be back in Parliament after the election.

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.

 

Easter trading in Central Otago

The new Easter trading law has allowed the Central Otago District Council to enable Sunday trading for the first time.

Up until last year there was a glaring anomaly with Easter trading in Central Otago. Queenstown had special dispensation and was able to trade, while nearby towns were banned from Sunday trading like most of the rest of the country.

ODT: Businesses get green light for Easter trading

Central Otago businesses can now take advantage of Easter Sunday crowds.

In August, the Government passed the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Act 2016, which lets local authorities choose whether to allow Easter Sunday trading.

The Central Otago District Council yesterday adopted an Easter trading policy, after approving it in draft form in November.

After the meeting, Mayor Tim Cadogan said the move would promote the region as a place to visit on holidays.

”Easter is obviously a prime time for that. We need to give our businesses the opportunity, if they wish, to get their staff to open the doors and make money while there are people in town.”

From looking at submissions and social media, it appeared opposition to the policy was not strong, he said.

Last year the council received 295 replies to an online survey on the policy, about 70% approving of the change. In December it received five supporting and two opposing submissions.

Central Otago is a popular Easter destination, especially every second year when the Warbirds Over Wanaka air show is held. It made no sense that Queenstown could trade normally on Easter Sunday and the rest of the area could not.

Wanaka is not covered by Central Otago, it is in Lakes District along with Queenstown, but that should be a done deal too.

Stuff: Long awaited Wanaka Easter trading closer to reality

Queenstown Lakes District Councillors barely spoke before adopting a policy to allow Wanaka businesses to trade on Easter Sunday.

Cr Penny Clark said it was a “excellent proposal” before mayor Jim Boult asked whether there was any debate.

There was no response and the proposal was immediately accepted. It must now go through a public submission process.

The proposal follows years of lobbying by the Wanaka business community to be allowed to trade on Easter Sunday and Easter Friday.

Unlike neighbouring Queenstown where an exemption is in place, most businesses in the busy tourist resort have been subject to law forbidding them from trading on the traditional religious holiday.

The old law with limited exemptions was a nonsense.

Extending Central Otago cycleways

The rail trail cycleway through Central Otago, from Middlemarch to Clyde, has been hugely successful, for cyclists, for tourists and for rural towns that had previously been struggling.

More trails have also been established, the Roxburgh Gorge trail south of Alexandra, the Clutha Gold trail And Queenstown trails.

The Government has just announced funding to supplement local funds that will link these trails, making an extensive cycleway network.

The most significant of these extensions will link the current rail trail terminal at Clyde via the Cromwell Gorge to Cromwell and on through the Kawarau Gorge to the Queenstown trail.

The Cromwell Gorge trail has been considered for some time. I was involved in a small way in checking it out about 1998 but it was then put in the too hard basket.

Stuff: Central Otago multi-million dollar cycle trail project gets financial backing

A $26.3 million project to connect Central Otago’s trail network and create 500 kilometres of continuous trail network will be a “game changer” for the region.

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key announced at a function in Bannockburn on Sunday the Government would commit around $13 million towards the project, with the Central Lakes Trust contributing $11.15m and the Otago Community Trust contributing $2m.

“The proposal to create a 536kim continuous cycle trail network by linking four existing Central Otago Great Rides – the Queenstown Trail, the Otago Central Rail Trail, the Roxburgh Gorge Trail and the Clutha Gold Trail – is the type of enhancement to the Great Rides we want to encourage.”

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This also shows a proposed trail from Cromwell to Luggate and presumably on the Wanaka and while that would be worthwhile I don’t think it will be as scenic a ride as the gorges.

Once this network is complete there will be one major missing link – Middlemarch to Dunedin. I don’t know if anything has been considered there but it would be challenging, the railway line is still used and the existing road is very up and down.