March 2013

The Weekender 24/03/2013

Welcome along - let go & see what happened this week.

The Super 15 rolls on and the Chiefs continue to build & win even though they aren't yet looking their best. This week they beat the Highlanders 19-7 & although Richard Kahui had some game time, they've now lost Tawera Kerr-Barlow for six weeks with a broken jaw. The Crusaders got on track with a 55-20 thrashing of the Southern Kings, the Reds beat the Bulls 23-18, the Cheetahs beat the Western Force 10-19, the Sharks thrashed the Rebels 64-7 and the Stormers beat the Brumbies 35-22.

Valerie Adams got her 12th national shot put title with a throw of 20.37m.

The Breakers sixteen straight wins came to an end with a 73-58 loss to the Perth Wildcats - their strongest ANBL rivals. That means that Perth beat the Breakers three times this year with the Breakers only losing one other match. So even though the Breakers have been outstanding for the entire season, the defending champs might not be the favourites and will have to put on a good game to win the title this year.

The All Whites moved a step closer to the Football World Cup when they beat New Caledonia 2-1 with a fourth minute injury time winner by Tommy Smith. Winston Reid was captain as Ryan Nelsen's successor.

The final cricket test match is on between England and New Zealand with NZ inching ahead after the second day. NZ were put in to bat and with a debut tonne from Peter Fulton (136) and good support from Kane Williamson (94) NZ reached 443. Then yesterday NZ got a couple wickets to leave England at 50/2. There are still plenty of sessions for NZ to do badly ;-)

NZ News
The biggest news of this week was that Marmite returned to the shelves after the prolonged year long shortage due to the Christchurch earthquake.

While we got a nice day or two of showers last weekend, it wasn't enough to break the drought and the 'fine' weather continues this week. The Buller and Grey Districts have become the first areas on the South Island to become drought zones - something very unusual for the usually very wet West Coast.

This week the Crown and Tuhoe completed negotiations on Treaty Negotiations recognising 143 years of injustice at the hands of the crown. The Urewera National Park will be legally owned by nobody but will have it's own legal status.

The Novapay system for paying teachers continued to make the news this week, even though pay errors have now dropped to normal numbers for any system with that many employees. ACT MP John Banks was attacked for owning Talent2 shares (the Australian makers of Novapay), but showed proof he didn't take part in any meetings concerning Novapay while he was a shareholder. The 'Novopay Minister' (and chief trouble shooter) Stephen Joyce announced this week a $6m compensation package for schools to cover extra expenses sorting out Novapay problems.

The Numbers Game
11: $/hr pay for 16-19 year olds with a Youth wage bill introduced this week & passed by one vote - $3 below minimum wage

20: % of people who oppose the government's partial sale of Mighty River Power (& assets in general) intend on buying shares
36.4: % support for Labour in the latest Herald-DigiPoll - but the 4.4% increase is at the expense of possible coalition partners rather than National (who are up 1% to 48.5%)

10,000: kg of apples sold by Hastings Pak'n'Save after dropping the price to 9c/kg
45,800: $ fine for a man who cut down native trees for an unobstructed harbour view from his spa pool
1.7m: NZers now own a smartphone

113m: litres of water being used by Wellington after banning all non-essential water use - the lowest since records began in 1997

1.25b: $ lost each year because of traffic jams in Auckland, according to a new government research paper - that is more than it would cost for free buses Auckland-wide!

Finance NZ Dollar
GBP 0.5481 (+0.0005)

EUR 0.6439 (+0.0108)

USD 0.8329 (+0.0053)
AUD 0.7982 (+0.0031)

The Weekender NZer of the week
George Lowe
George died this week aged 89, but you might not have heard of him. He was the last surviving climber from the team which climbed Mt Everest first - the second kiwi on the team along with Sir Edmund Hillary.

Joke of the Weekender
Coffee Shop | CA, USA
Customer: “I’d like an iced coffee with milk, with no coffee in it.”
Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Did you want a decaffeinated iced coffee?”
Customer: “No, I just hate the taste of coffee. I want an iced coffee with milk, but hold the coffee.”
Me: “So, would you like milk and ice?”
Customer: “No, I want it without coffee. I have it all the time. It’s brown, and kind of sweet.”
Me: “Tea?”
Customer: “Yes! How did you not understand that?”

Weekender Photos

Darren Harrison:
The Weekender: mailed weekly (Sunday nightish)
{If these just fill up your junk mail, then send me an email & I'll take you off the list | The Weekender is not a verified news source, sometimes it's even just an opinion}

The Weekender 17/03/2013

Welcome along for the week

The Super rugby gave NZers a bit more to cheer about this weekend with the Crusaders returning to normal duties with a 41-19 beating of the Bulls and the Chiefs beating the Southern Kings 35-24, and the Hurricanes held off the Highlanders 23-19. The Brumbies remained unbeaten with a 29-10 win over the Sharks, and the Western Force upset the Reds with a 19-12 win.
In international (& Waikato) rugby news, Warren Gatland's Welsh team thrashed England to win the Six Nations title over night.

In cricket, NZ will be hoping for the return of their injured players (Doug Bracewell, Daniel Vettori, Mitchell McClenaghan & Martin Guptill) but more immediately they need rain to get a draw in this test. England were put in to bat and got 465, NZ followed (on) with 254 and are currently at 152/2.

The Warriors lost their second of the season with Sonny Bill Williams' Rooster beating them 14-16 after a good - but not quite good enough - come back by the Warriors.

Winter sport is being threatened by the drought with rock hard soccer & rugby fields the reason behind possible delays in school sports.

In the new Aussie V8 series the kiwis are doing quite well. This weekend Fabian Coulthard won both opening races of the V8 Challenge in Melbourne, and Shane Van Gisbergen continued his good form winning race three.

The NZ Breakers have continued their fantastic run with 15 wins in a row - and clinched the third ANBL minor premiership in a row, but now people have started to question how good the league even is with only Perth seemingly able to challenge the Breakers but both teams well ahead of the pack.

Last weekend the Black Sox beat Venezuela 4-1 to win the World Championship, after Venezuela knocked out Australia.

NZ News
I'm sure you've all heard of, if not seen the movie Argo and I know I've mentioned it before but it's factually incorrect. Worse that previously thought according to former NZ embassy worker Maureen Campbell-White. She broke 34 years of silence and this week Winston Peters moved a Parliament motion formally expressing regret that Argo misled the world. Read some more about it here:

Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear crew were in NZ this week to film a boat vs car race from Coromandel to Cape Reinga - no doubt with a show down along the Ninety Mile beach (even though it's not really on the way for the boat?) But Jeremy Clarkson left NZers smiling with a very nice write up on NZ in his Sunday Times column today.

The worst drought in seventy years continues. This week the entire North Island was declared a drought zone with Wellington only having days of water left and a total ban on outside water use. But this weekend saw forecasts of showers across the island and last night we had a small amount of heavy rain and it has continued with gentle rain for most of the day. The rain is great and appreciated, but it isn't enough to break the drought and it won't affect the water use restrictions. Finance Minister Bill English thinks the drought could cost the economy up to $2b.

This news story shows satellite images of the North Island last year and this year:

The Numbers Game
1: st (with Iceland) friendliest country in the world for tourists rating for NZ according to the World Economic Forum
10: years at the top of swimming for Melissa Ingram and she has now decided to retire

35: year low for the Wanganui River flow level

46: % of NZ homes have one or more cats - and now a Landcare Research scientist is echoing what Gareth Morgan got attacked for saying - that cats need to be controlled along with rabbits

Finance NZ Dollar
GBP 0.5476 (-0.0031)
EUR 0.6331 (+0.0013)
USD 0.8276 (+0.0022)
AUD 0.7951 (-0.0101)

The Weekender NZer of the week
David Low - design of political satire

Joke of the Weekender
Beauty Supply Store | Columbus, OH, USA
(A customer comes to the counter with an expensive hair treatment.)
Customer: “Excuse me, this appears to be used. Do you have any others?”
Me: “I'm sorry, ma’am. We just finished putting our stock away. If that was the last one on the shelf, then it’s the last one we have.”
Customer: “Well, I suppose I’ll get it anyway. I've never tried it before, but I pumped some out and it does feel very nice.”
Me: “Ma’am, were you the one that opened and used it?”
Customer: “Yes, but I had to see what it was like before I spent all this money on it! Now, are you sure there aren't any more in the back? I really don’t want to buy something that’s been used!”

Weekender Photos

Darren Harrison:
The Weekender: mailed weekly (Sunday nightish)
{If these just fill up your junk mail, then send me an email & I'll take you off the list | The Weekender is not a verified news source, sometimes it's even just an opinion}

The Weekender 10/03/2013

Welcome along to another dry, hot week from the Waikato!

Well the NZ teams had a rough weekend all round. The Highlanders who had looked great so far, were well beaten by the Cheetahs 19-36, and the Chiefs lost a thriller in Cape Town, beaten 36-34 by the Stormers. The Crusaders continued their bad start losing 29-28 to the Hurricanes with Julian Savea having a great game for the home team, and Beauden Barrett kicking 7 from 7. The Brumbies beat the Waratahs 35-6 but look to have lost David Pocock for the season, the Reds beat the Rebels 13-23 and the Sharks beat the Southern Kings 12-21.

The Warriors had their first game of the NRL and were thrashed 40-10 by the Eels. The drug taking fall out continues with the Sharks season in disarray after the board fired four managers.

The Black Sox are through to the final of the world softball champs after beating Venesuela 2-0. They got to the semis by beating tournament favourites Australia 5-4 with a come from behind win.

The Black Caps have had an interesting test match against England so far as we head into the fifth day today. Typical test roles were reversed for the first innings when England ended up all out for 167, and then NZ went on to declare at 460/9. New cap Hamish Rutherford joined an elite group of players to get a century in their first match, when he reached 171 before finally being dismissed. Brendon McCullum also seems to be playing well in his new captain's role as he reached 74 off 59 balls. However a touch of normality resumed on day four with England reaching 234/1 and it will probably all end in a draw.

The NZ Breakers made it to 14 games in a row - just. They were behind for most of the game against the Cairns Taipans but then hit the front with less than 30 seconds to go thanks to Cedric Jackson, for an 80-77 win.

The Wellington Phoenix finally had some good news with a game in Dunedin as they beat the Hearts 1-0.

NZ News
Auckland city came to a stand still on Thursday when a single van-truck crash occurred on the motorway at Newmarket. Two hours later the the city was gridlocked with 15min trips taking an hour and the AA spokesman saying he had never seen traffic so bad in central Auckland.

Fire bans continue to spread around the country with Wellington the latest area for the first time in a decade. Auckland has had it's second driest summer in fifty years.

The Numbers Game
80: $/lamb (that's $11/kg in the supermarket), almost half the $155 it was this time last year
2.4: tonnes of sea lettuce enters Tauranga's estuary on each tide cycle

35,315: cannabis plants were found and destroyed by the police this week from an underground bunker operation
1m: loaves of bread have been donated by Goodman Fielder to food banks and city missions over the last seven years5m: $ in assets forfeited, and 12 year jail for drug kingpin Stephen Gray

6.4m: census forms were handed out before this weeks census
20m: $ waterway plan was announced this week by Fonterra and DOC to restore waterways in Northland, Waikato, Canterbury and Southland

50m: $ housing boom for Tauranga with a continued spike in building consents approved

54m: $ boring machine has been bought to drill the Waterview Connection tunnel in Auckland

Finance NZ Dollar
GBP 0.5507 (+0.0016)
EUR 0.6318 (-0.0024)
USD 0.8254 (-0.0002)
AUD 0.8052 (-0.0041)

The Weekender NZer of the week
Jack Lovelock - design of victory 

Joke of the Weekender

Movie Theater | New Zealand

Me: “Hi there, how can I help you?”
Customer: *says something unintelligible*
Me: “Pardon, sorry?”
Customer: *unintelligible* “…flat white…” *unintelligible*
Me: “Oh, a flat white? Sure, that’s $4.50, please.”
Customer: *seems to ask something unintelligible*
Me: “Pardon, sorry?”
Customer: *says something unintelligible again, irritated*
Me: “I’m sorry, but I can’t understand what you’re saying at all.”
Customer: “Oh! I forgot that I was talking Swedish. I wanted to know if the flat white is in a small or medium cup.”
Me: “Oh, thank goodness! I thought I was going crazy!”

Weekender Photos

Darren Harrison:
The Weekender: mailed weekly (Sunday nightish)
{If these just fill up your junk mail, then send me an email & I'll take you off the list | The Weekender is not a verified news source, sometimes it's even just an opinion}

The Weekender 03/03/2013

Hello, welcome to March!

The Super 15 rolled on this week as did the Chiefs with a 45-3 thrashing of the Cheetahs. The Chiefs showed the benefit of ex-All Black coach Wayne Smith's expertise, holding the Cheetahs to 3 points while the Cheetahs had the most of possession for the first 60 minutes, where the score was 17-3. Over in Brisbane (now) Aussie Ref Steve Walsh won the game between the Reds and the Hurricanes with a commanding 24 penalties while the Reds only scored 18 and the Hurricanes 12 (points). The annoying part of the game for Wellington fans was at the end as the Hurricanes were pushing hard for a match winning try and the Walsh gave a wrong penalty to the Reds, then the Hurricanes players protested and Walsh sent them back 10m and pushed Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith out of the way - a big no-no, and Conrad had every right to talk to the ref. But the Reds were also hard done by for a try and the Hurricanes just weren't playing well. The Crusaders had a bad start to the season getting beaten by the Blues 34-15 and having an injury to Luke Romano, Sir John Kirwan's Blues are looking very good. In other games the Waratahs beat the Rebels 31-26, the Bulls beat the Force 29-26 and the Sharks beat the Stormers 12-6.

A third of the Rugby World Cup winning team have left or are leaving NZ with Richard Kahui, Adam Thompson and Rene Ranger leaving, but unlike when this happened after the last world cup, there is no sense of panic because the new players are showing some great options.

The big news in Kiwi's rugby league this week was that former captain Benji Marshall is now the former captain. Coach Steve Kearney has dropped Benji as captain so he can focus on his game. They are hoping to have Benji and Sonny Bill Williams for the World Cup.

Taupo was busy this weekend with the 15th annual Ironman, and it was won by Olympic triathlon silver medallist Bevan Docherty, in a new course record of 8:15:33, two minutes less than 10-time winner Cameron Brown.

The Breakers continued their run thrashing the Adelaide 36ers 104-79, and coach Andrej Lemanis joined an elite team to celebrate his 250th game in charge of an ANBL team. Lemanis has applied for the Australian national basketball coaches job but would still coach the Breakers.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has stepped down as coach as the Phoenix continue to lose.

Marina Erakovice has won her first WTA even in Memphis, USA this week - the first since Belinda Cordwell in 1989.

NZ News
I can't remember the last time it rained, and there are drought conditions all over the country. This week had Northland declared a drought zone (third time in four years) and Waikato farmers pushing for a "declaration of medium-scale drought", and Hamilton City has increased to Level 3 water restrictions (no sprinklers). However the past few days have had fine mornings but plenty of cloud around so it hasn't been quite so hot. And of course, as I write this it is now raining outside. I'm not sure it will make much difference as it doesn't look like it will last, but it can't hurt. Update: It's now the afternoon and back to hot & sunny. A news report has said the 5mm of showers across the North Island won't be enough to make a difference, and that we had the driest February since 1973.

New Zealand had it's first deadly shark attack in quite a while, this week. Film director Adam Strange, was training for an open water swim on Wednesday, and was killed by a great white shark when he ended up in the middle of a group of feeding sharks.

TV presenter Phillip Leishman, 61, passed away this week, last year he had surgery on a brain tumour and the cancer had returned. Along with many other things he had hosted Wheel of Fortune in the 90s.

The Numbers Game
51.4: % support for National in a 3 News-Reid Research poll, up 4.4%
150: years extinct (well thought to be) for the NZ storm petrel and it has been found breeding on Little Barrier Island

25,000: $ raising for CanTeen by Auckland man Mike Allsop by running seven marathons in seven days and in seven different countries
1.5m: $ partnership deal between DoC and Dulux to repaint back country huts and lodges

1.9m: $ for two neighbouring state houses sold in Sandringham, Auckland - both in need of 'extreme makeovers'

100m: $ loss in Te Puke due to the Psa-V disease on kiwifruit orchards

Finance NZ Dollar
GBP 0.5491 (+0.0007)
EUR 0.6342 (-0.0004)
USD 0.8256 (-0.0115)
AUD 0.8093 (-0.0029)

The Weekender NZer of the week
Ralph Hotere
Ralph passed away this week aged 81. Those that know me know I'm not likely to give the coveted NZer of the week award to just any old artist, but Ralph is worth it when he said "There are few things I can say about my work that are better than saying nothing," 

Joke of the Weekender
(Pharmacy | LA, USA)
(I am counselling a customer who is receiving a prescription for her child’s strep throat. As she’s signing for the prescription, I give her directions on the medication.)
Me: “It needs to be shaken well.”
(All of a sudden, she starts shaking the electronic pen that is attached to the signature pad. After a moment she stops.)
Customer: “You meant shake the medicine, didn't you?”

Weekender Photos

Darren Harrison:
The Weekender: mailed weekly (Sunday nightish)
{If these just fill up your junk mail, then send me an email & I'll take you off the list | The Weekender is not a verified news source, sometimes it's even just an opinion}