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And it just keeps trickling down…


The ultimate extreme makeover




Time for a little light relief. Brilliant mock-advertisement by Jesse Rosten.



Milk and Honey off the menu


Photo: Dorothea Lange

Today  the Herald published a story lamenting the extra cost of local, free-range and organic foods, the very foods we’re being encouraged to buy and eat.  They estimate that the clean, green Kiwi options cost us on average 25% more. For people on a limited budget, that isn’t an option at all.

The Taranaki Daily News got closer to the heart of the problem with a story headlined ‘Free food draws poor kids to class’.  It quotes principals from Taranaki schools who say that some of their students rely on their school to provide breakfast and even lunch, just to survive.

Poverty in New Zealand is a problem we often conveniently ignore, preferring to see our country as a land of milk and honey.  Unfortunately, milk and honey are off the menu for hundreds of thousands of Kiwis. More than 200,000 of our kids are living below the poverty line; over 48,000 of them go to school without breakfast.  

This is a disgrace. No child in this country should go hungry. No New Zealand child should be cold or ill-clothed or living in an unhealthy or overcrowded house.  No child should be denied an education just because learning is too hard when you arrive at school cold, wet and hungry – if you get there at all. Read the rest of this entry »


It’s a goal!


While this website is generally a sports-free-zone, I can’t resist sharing this – possibly the greatest fluke in soccer!



Mangled English on 3News

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m going out with a snarl.

TV3 has a line-up of excellent regular newsreaders, both male and female. They present the news clearly and cleanly, and manage to avoid the contrived and cringe-making wordplay that litters TVOne’s bulletins.

However, the final bulletin for the year had the female newsreader labelling Diane Foreman an ‘entreprenyure’ – rhymes with ‘manure’ – and her male counterpart telling us about ‘nucyular’ capacity and Russell Brand’s ‘sex addition’. Tonight’s presenters are both familiar faces, but the channel didn’t give us their names. Wisely, perhaps.

Accurate pronunciation should be a prerequisite for  those who make their living presenting television and radio bulletins, as should the ability to read short pieces aloud without making a complete twit of oneself, and just because we’re in the silly season doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect English-as-a-first-language from the network’s stand-in presenters.

Take two aspirin and wait for Caroline, Hillary, Mike and Simon to return…


Santa’s Little Helpers – and accolades for the City Mission

With our myriad children and grandchildren scattered to the winds we tend to hold our ‘traditional’ Christmas (presents and excessive over-eating and drinking) on Boxing Day, when we’ve a better chance of collecting some of them from the airport.

The main event of our Christmas Day is usually elevenses with Mimosas and muffins for all and sundry (followed by a nice lie down for much of the afternoon).  Many of our friends find a couple of glasses of bubbles help to soothe the way through nerve-wracking family events, and stagger off to greet Auntie Sue with less stomach-churning dread than sobriety could offer. Others just like the idea of being mildly pissed before lunchtime. It’s noisy and fun and we never know  if we’ll be catering for a dozen or fifty.

This year we volunteered to be Santa’s Helpers at the City Mission Christmas Dinner.

New Zealand’s Biggest Family Christmas Dinner has now grown to proportions that are either a) heartwarming or b) an indictment on our society. Being Christmas Day I’m not going to go into full flight about NZ’s poverty problem. I’ll save that for New Year – be warned! Read the rest of this entry »


A Pacific Christmas


A very happy and peaceful Christmas season to you all.


Oh, Christmas!

This year’s billboard from St Matthew-in-the-City. Ya gotta love them!


Paradise up in flames


One of the hundreds of flametrees in bloom in Rarotonga.

Rational thought and argument currently suspended in favour of slothfulness and self-indulgence.


Absolutely awesome!

Have you noticed that no-one just says ‘Yes’ anymore? The standard affirmative reply seems to be ‘Absolutely!’ 

We first noticed this during media training sessions.  It became impossible for interviewees to answer a question with a simple affirmative. ‘Absolutely’ used to be an intensifier that added real weight to a reply. Now it’s crept into everyday language and taken over:

‘Are you going to the supermarket?’


Then we have the wonderful old biblical word ‘awesome’, which for centuries used to mean something that filled one with awe – the face of God, the power of the weather, the breathtaking beauty of Nature. Today?

‘I’m cooking sausages for tea.’


So we’ve taken two of the strongest words in our vocabulary and watered them down until they carry no more weight than ‘yes’ or ‘that’s nice’. Read the rest of this entry »


The Three Graces of Auckland Central (after Rafael)


Paul Goldsmith removes his own signs in case someone in Epsom votes for him



Photos: Jaymam/The Standard

What Paul Goldsmith was doing yesterday to  boost his electoral campaign.


The eyes have it.

Toronto G20

Some cultural differences observed at the Toronto G20.



The origins of JK’s threesome handshake


Photo: Rob Pharazyn

He got into practice a long time ago!


So Here Is The News

The little word ‘so’ has recently taken on a new meaning for New Zealanders. People have started using it as a space-filler at the beginning of an answer, in the same way that they use ‘well’.  In reply to the question, ‘How are you going to get the country out of this recession?’ you might have heard:

‘Well, we’re going to kick-start the economy by selling off the Southern Alps.’

Now you may hear:

‘So, we’re going to kick-start the economy by exporting beneficiaries.’

This sounds a bit odd – and it is a bit odd.  Starting a sentence this way turns ‘so’ into a type of conjunction and implies that you are expanding on or explaining something that has preceded it:

‘Social Welfare is costing too much and we need more exports, so we’re going to…etc’

But in this strange new construction nothing has preceded ‘so’. You’ve got a conjunction hanging in mid-air with nothing to join up.

‘What are you doing for Christmas this year?’

‘So I was just saying to Nigel that we should consider going to Afghanistan.’ Read the rest of this entry »


Lazy – or just plain ignorant? Why the under-25s aren’t voting.

More than a quarter of the under-25s haven’t bothered to get themselves on the electoral roll.  Again. The media and the politicians are wailing that they’re not showing civic responsibility, that they’re not exercising their democratic right, that they don’t care about politics. Again.

Every election year we go into this chant about the irresponsibility of the young; every election year we seem surprised that the same old pattern reoccurs, as if some miracle or mind-shift might have happened in the ensuing three years.

Well, we shouldn’t be.  We should be amazed and grateful that so many young people actually do enrol and vote, because we’re giving them damnall incentive to do so.

In other democratic countries Civics is taught in secondary schools. The kids learn how government works nationally and locally, how policy is developed, how it becomes or fails to become law, and the part citizens play in determining their own future.

In New Zealand first-year Law students have to be taught all this, first-year Politics students have to be taught all this – and nobody else gets taught this at all.  So it’s not very surprising that our young people have little or no interest in politics. It’s very hard to be interested in something you don’t understand and even harder to become interested in something you know nothing worthwhile about.

Of course they always have the endless knee-jerk opinions of those around them. They may listen, may parrot, may believe. It’s what they do believe that’s the worry.  If they listen to the voices in the bars, the voices in the street and the voices in the workplace what they’re likely to hear is that politicians are rogues and vagabonds, that those in Parliament are intent on making our lives as difficult and as costly as possible and that there’s no point in voting because one lot is as bad as the other. Read the rest of this entry »


Just in case the world is getting you down…


Bored with your Monaco millions? Why not buy an election?


On The Nation this weekend, ex-pat Owen G. Glenn magnanimously offered to pour over $100 million into youth initiatives after the election. Here are a couple of extracts from the interview:

Q: Are you giving any money this election to any political party, or just advice?

A: Well, I’m giving everybody advice, aren’t I? I’m coming back in October and I’m going to hold a press conference. And I’m going to announce some pretty major initiatives.

Q: Is that money going to be spent here?

A: In New Zealand.

Q: For?

A: Mainly for New Zealand youth. I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. Then I’ll be happy to answer any questions you want to ask me. [laughs]

Q: Well, let’s explore it. And I’m not going to ask you to shoot your bolt right here and now…

A: It’s  not ready…

Q: So we’re talking about hundreds of millions invested in New Zealand youth?

A: Let’s say at least a hundred.  …..

Q: Does it matter who wins the election as to whether or not you proceed with the plan?

A: I think very much so.

Q: So you would think about not doing this initiative…

A: Well look, let’s put it in perspective. I think National has a better shot at it, particularly if ACT is part of it. Because, if I say ACT goes a little bit hard on the Right, if there is temper [?] there, they’re not bad people, actually very good people.

Q: OK. Can I ask you then: you’re prepared to invest hundreds of millions in New Zealand education, for young people…

A: I said at least a hundred million…

Q: … if National and ACT win the next election?

A: That’s correct.

When we’re strapped for cash, performing dentistry on a gift horse could be regarded as bad form. Never mind that  $100 million is a drop in the bucket compared with Government’s spending – it’s a very large drop in a very small bucket.

The problem is that the generous Mr Glenn has probably committed an offence under the Electoral Act 1993 by tagging on the proviso that he will give the money only if National/ACT win the election in November: Read the rest of this entry »


You’ll never see ads like this again!


The Sounds of Silence…


We’re in Rarotonga, which feels like our second home these days, having a busy time doing very little. Hence the ominous silence on the media/political/current affairs front. 

Relax – the Patron Saint of Unpopular Causes will be back with you shortly.