May 2017

The Weekender 27/05/2017

Welcome along, lots has happened in the last two weeks.


Last weekend the Crusaders passed their biggest test so far and extended their winning run to 12, with a 24-31 win over the Chiefs in Suva, Fiji. The Blues chances of making the playoffs took a hit when they were beaten 30-22, the Highlanders thrashed the Force 6-55, the Hurricanes thrashed the Cheetahs 61-7. This week was another tough one for the Chiefs and they ended with a 16-16 draw against the Blues.
The big news of the week was from the All Blacks coaching staff with Wayne Smith retiring after the British and Irish Lions tour starting soon. Former All Black coach John Mitchell has been appointed as the new executive of rugby for the South African Bulls team.
In other rugby news, unless you live in England, you will know that despite popular English opinion, NZ rugby has far few players who were born out of the country than many other rugby playing nations. This has been shown again this week with England (well, their Aussie coach Eddie Jones) picking former Crusader Willi Heinz for the 26-man camp for the tour to Argentina. And there was much amusement when Jimmy Gopperth was named England Club rugby player of the year.

In rugby sevens, the All Black Sevens improved to finish third in Paris, but South Africa secured their second World Title series. For the New Zealand round, Hamilton has taken over the hosting of the tournament, so instead of the Wellington Sevens, next year it will be the Hamilton Sevens.

Kiwi cyclist George Bennett has won the Tour of California, to become the first Kiwi to win a UCI World Tour title.

The Black Sticks secured a series win against India with a first up win, an 8-2 win in the second match and a 3-2 win in the third. The fourth test was a 3-0 win in Hamilton, and then they swept the series with a 6-2 win in the final game.

The Black Caps have been in action with a 51 run over Ireland, and a four-wicket win over Bangladesh. In the second round, NZ had a 190 run win over Ireland but a five-wicket loss to Bangladesh.

The Warriors continue to have issues with a thrashing last week by the St George Illawarra 30-14 in Hamilton.

Haydon Paddon had been doing well in Rally Portugal but was knocked back with electrical problems and then more mechanical problems on the second day.
In the Aussie V8's Shane van Gisbergen had a good day at Winton taking advantage of a late safety car to win in the fightback against the Shell-V Power Racing team.
Finally, for motorsport, Scott Dixon had an interesting week when he qualified for pole position for the Indianapolis 500 race this weekend. However later that night he went to Taco Bell with Dario Franchitti to shout the team, and he was robbed at gun point.

New Zealand continues to do well in the short canoe events with Caitlyn Ryan winning the K1 500 at the Canoe Sprint World Cup. Lisa Carrington and Aimee Fisher won three golds, both in the K2 200m and 500m and then joining Kayla Imrie and Caitlyn Ryan in the K4 500.

The America's Cup is about to start, and it was a rough final week for Team New Zealand. They had to pull out of a couple of days of practice after Ben Ainslie, of Ben Ainslie Racing, crashed into the back of their boat during a practice start. He didn't really apologise and it left a number of commentators wondering if he was actually having trouble controlling the yacht - they at least haven't noticed much speed on the BAR entry.

NZ News

So most of the budget numbers are below, but there was some follow up on Labour's weekend where it was clear their focus is on housing and immigration. But there were a few other hiccups for Labour recently. Last week, Labour leader Andrew Little had to knock back the Green Party co-leader comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. Then we found out that while the Labour MPs in parliament a strongly opposed to selling off the Ports of Auckland, some Labour Auckland councillors were, ahh, not quite so opposed. Finally, it seems that the Green Party will support National's budget package, leaving the Labour Party the only party opposed. That probably isn't really a big deal - except that with only four months to the election, it is weird that the two major opposition parties aren't on the same page.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff made headlines claiming that the budget did nothing to help with the key issue of growing transport congestion in Auckland. But he obviously forgot a couple of points. Firstly, they did include half the Auckland City Rail Link, and secondly, he is the mayor of Auckland - it's mostly his job to do that.
An interesting view of the budget is that National are making many decisions that would be expected from a leftist Labour government. One political reporter said "It is a Budget that makes life better for many low and middle-income Kiwis and it makes life worse for the Opposition.", and another said in Stephen Joyce's first budget he had "gone further with a major incursion into Labour territory with the changes for low and middle-income earners".
I guess, given that Prime Minister Bill English really wants to do things for those in need, this budget shouldn't surprise - even if it's not actually his budget.

The Numbers Game

-0.1: degC frosts hit this week, snow closed the Desert Road
3: more properties in Taranaki have been confirmed positive for myrtle rust infection
16: births per 1000 women are to teenagers, down from 33 in 2008, and 54 in 1962
19.4: m waves recorded in the Southern Ocean, off Campbell Island half way to Antarctica
430: bungy jumps off the Auckland Harbour bridge in one day for Mike Heard, smashing the Guinness World Record by 2.5 times, raising awareness for the Mental Health Foundation
3,530: more jobs expected in Northland due to the growing IT industry
68,589: $ paid by ACC for Avocado injuries last year
5m: $ spent by Environment Canterbury for communications

Budget numbers
1.3: % increase in school operating budgets and notice that the funding 'freeze' was over with spending to keep pace with growth
34,000: new homes in Auckland to be built by the government over the next 10 years, 13,500 for social housing
5m: $ more for teachers with $2m to keep departing teachers in work
10m: $ boost for NZ's historical documents
47m: $ to cut burglary and youth offending - repeat victims will get support to install extra security like window locks and security lights
321m: $ social investment programme, with mental health the focus
436m: $ for Auckland's City Rail Link, as the government pays up its half of the project
879m: $ extra for health in the next year to cope with a growing and ageing population (this probably includes the $321m for mental health)
100m: $ expected from a crackdown on tax loopholes used by multinational companies
1b: $ for the Defence Force for new technology
2b: $ worth of tax cuts and boosts to Working for Families - a package worth $6.5b over the next four years

Finance NZ Dollar

Two weeks
GBP 0.5474 (0.0161)
EUR 0.6288 (0.0022)
USD 0.7040 (0.0188)
AUD 0.9457 (0.0186)

The Weekender NZer of the week

Bruce McLaren 
A new movie is being released soon about the "untold" story of Bruce McLaren.

Joke of the Weekender

How can you ever be late for anything in London? They have 
a huge clock right in the middle 
of the town.
Jimmy Kimmel


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 14/05/2017

Welcome along, a day late. Next weekend I'll be away so will take a break and catch you the week after.


Following up last weekend's games, the Blues beat the Waratahs 33-40, with a result that was closer than it should have been after the Waratahs got four tries near the end of the game. Sonny Bill Williams joined the injured All Blacks list with a concussion. The Chiefs had a good 46-17 win over the Queensland Reds in New Plymouth with Charlie Ngatai back for the first time in around a year and was rewarded with a try. The Crusaders made a bit of a mockery of "Fortress Loftus", thrashing the Bulls 62-24.
This weekend the Blues were far too good for the Cheetahs winning 50-32, but the game of the round was the two teams leading in scoring - the unbeaten Crusaders and the Hurricanes, and it all came down to defence. It was a titanic struggle with penalties being traded until finally, the Crusaders scored a try about 3/4 of the way through and went on to win 20-12. Only one other team has started a Super rugby campaign with 11 straight wins - the 2002 Crusaders who had a perfect season. The Highlanders had an ugly 10-17 win over the Bulls at Loftus.
Table: Crusaders 50, Lions 46, Chiefs* 42, Hurricanes* 38, Highlanders 36, Sharks 33, Blues 31, Stormers* 26, Jaguares 24, Brumbies*/Kings* 19, Reds 16, Bulls* 15, Waratahs* 14, Force* 13, Cheetahs 11, Rebels* 8, Sunwolves* 7. 11 games except for * with 10 The Jaguares have enough points to be leading the Australian conference!

In other rugby, the Baby Blacks (under 20) thrashed Australia 43-6 to win the Oceania series on the Gold Coast.
The Rugby World Cup draw for 2019 arrived this week, with the All Blacks happy with their pool which has the Springboks in it. The talk was that England was in a tough pool, and Australia in an easy pool.

In the Aussie V8's Scott McLaughlin had a dominant win at Perth, leading home fellow kiwi and teammate Fabian Coulthard.

Joseph Parker defended his WBO title by beating Razvan Cojanu last weekend. Unfortunately, the company handling his promotion, "Duco" has had some issues with the two main guys having problems and deciding to call the company quits.

Michael Venus continues to do well and made it through to the doubles final in Portugal this week. That improved his ranking to number 36, up five places.

The Warriors certainly had a week to forget. Firstly, Kieran Foran announced that he would leave the Warriors for Sydney next year to be closer to his family. And then the Warriors were 28-6 ahead of the Penrith Panthers at halftime before losing 36-28.

The Waikato/BOP Magic were beaten by the Northern Mystics 59-55 this weekend. But the Magic got a bonus point so did jump the Pulse into second place.

The Black Sticks women beat India 4-1 in Pukekohe.

NZ News

Findings were released this week by the New Zealand Medical Journal which looked into the targets introduced by the Government in 2009 for emergency waiting times. It is believed that thousands of lives have been saved, with the waiting times dropping around three hours. The report card showed that 13 out of the 20 district health boards achieved the target meaning almost 94% of patients weren't waiting longer than the target time.

Today and yesterday were amazingly blue sky autumn days, but before that, the remnants of Cyclone Donna swept down the country dumping lots of cold rain around the place. The lovely weather saw some of the first frosts around the place with Christchurch hitting -1.9degC.

The fallout from the Labour Party's internal issues continued this week, with commentators contemplating that this weekend at the Labour Party conference, was Andrew Little's last chance to try and convince his party that he can lead them to victory. The very point that he needs to convince them is not good news for Labour.

The Numbers Game

7: $ for a lettuce in supermarkets at the moment, after the cyclones recently have hammered the vegetable crops
7.39: kg baby born in Wellington - double the national average
60: years since the Tangiwai disaster
100: MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) workers were on a mission after myrtle rust was found in a Kerikeri orchard - it most likely blew over from Australia
150: species have been prioritised in an ambitious conservation strategy launched by the government
100,300: people have moved to New Zealand since March - the largest rise since 1974, as people seek out somewhere deemed safe and politically stable
74.6: m $ from the government to top up the Callaghan Innovation's R&D Growth Grant

Finance NZ Dollar

(Eight days)
GBP 0.5313 (-0.0012)
EUR 0.6266 (-0.0009)
USD 0.6852 (-0.0038)
AUD 0.9271 (-0.0038)

The Weekender NZer of the week

Colin McCahon
McCahon was the artist who gave New Zealand a powerful visual identity and for that, he is revered in his homeland. That he went further, to explore and communicate through the medium of painting the universal questions and concerns of humanity, is why we, in other parts of the world, must recognise him as a great modern Master.

Joke of the Weekender

Honestly, Officer, I wouldn’t have pulled over had I known you were just going to criticise me.

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 06/05/2017

Welcome along this week. It has been a cold clear week with some cooler nights but lovely blue sky days.


Following up on Super rugby from last weekend, the Crusaders thrashed the Cheetahs 48-21 but it appears Kieran Read has broken his thumb and is in doubt for Lions tour coming up soon. The Chiefs did beat the Sunwolves but only just and with no bonus point in the 27-20 home game. The final game was interesting, NZ's lowest ranked team, the Blues, against Australia's top-ranked team, the Brumbies. The Blues were comfortable winners despite the score-line 12-18. This week saw the Highlanders behind the Cheetahs by 17 points with only a few minutes of the game remaining. They put on three quick tries in five minutes, including one after full time, to win the game 45-41. The Hurricanes weren't doing quite so badly but were nervous at 22-22 with 15 minutes to go. Then they put on three tries to win 41-22.

The men's Black Sticks had a draw with Australia in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup but were then beaten by India 3-0 and then bounced back against Japan to win 3-2.

The Warriors put on a great defensive effort to beat the Roosters 14-13 making it a rare double win for Auckland rugby/league supporters.
On Friday it was time for the annual ANZAC day test match against the Aussies, and they beat us 30-12, which has started everyone talking about what to do. But seriously, us beating Australia is a surprise, we shouldn't expect it, we shouldn't be up in arms when we don't. Kind of like the opposite of rugby.

Eric Murray has ended one of rowing's most dominant partnership when he retired this week. Eric Murray and Hamish Bond have been unbeaten in the coxless pair for eight years. Hamish has decided to take a year off and will cycle around Europe.

Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson have been finding some form in the Indian Twenty20 IPL league the last few weeks. Next year all players will be getting new contracts so now is a good time to make a claim for next year's contracts.

Joesph Parker managed to put together a fight after last minute changes, and the fight is tonight. He is defending his WBO heavyweight title for the first time against Razvan Cojanu.

NZ News

The funny story of the week was about a rugby player who ended up late for training. He stopped at the shop and when he got out his car was gone - but then he saw an identical car parked next to where he had parked. The Police had a great laugh when they heard the theory and rang the woman owner of the car still at the shop, who had driven off, filled up with petrol and headed home and didn't realise she had the wrong car until the Police contacted her.

While there are a few years to go on the currently major roading projects, the government is looking forward to the next stage and has started planning on extending the Waikato Expressway south of Cambridge to the SH29 turn off to Tauranga. The preferred design moves the road away from the edge of Lake Karapiro and will make it four lanes through to a full expressway intersection.

There was a news report this week with "information" on a cover up over the Pike River situation, however, the report was picked apart by Prime Minister Bill English, rejecting claims that the mine was safe to enter, and about the cover-up.

The Labour party has had some more internal difficulties this week, with new member Willie Jackson heading down to Wellington to talk with his bosses to try and lift his ranking on the list. Considering there were a number of Labour MPs quite vocal about Jackson joining Labour at all, this mission was a bit of a slap in the face and they didn't stay quiet. His position didn't change, but it did raise questions about Labour's ability to run anything including their Party.

The trans-Tasman relations have continued to decline this week. There has been a crackdown on expat Kiwis and up to 6,000 could have to pay three times as much for university. Newly appointed Foreign Affairs minister Gerry Brownlee headed to Australia to seek answers but didn't get favourable ones. One family who moved to Australia said Australia had become a frightening place for Kiwis and were they heading back to NZ - and there are other families heading back for the same reasons.

The Numbers Game

1: # spot in the Australian reputation index for Air New Zealand
77.5: avg life expectancy for Maori in 2016, growing from 74.4 in 2006 which is twice the rate of non-Maori in Auckland
110: years old for the oldest New Zealander - she remembers her mother inviting some young men over before they left for World War 1
319: mm of rain in Whangaparaoa in April - 452% of normal, several other places hit 300%

Finance NZ Dollar

GBP 0.5325 (0.0010)
EUR 0.6275 (-0.0033)
USD 0.6890 (0.0020)
AUD 0.9309 (0.0117)

The Weekender NZer of the week

Alan MacDiarmid
For a hundred years young graduates have been told that “there’s a great future in plastics.” That exhortation continues to have currency today, thanks to the work of New Zealand born and educated scientist Alan MacDiarmid who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2000 for his and his colleagues’ “discovery and development of electronically conductive polymers.” The Nobel Prize recognised advances that are seen to be the future of the technology fuelling the age of information.

Joke of the Weekender

Dear Charlie,
We’ve been neighbours for six tumultuous years. When you borrowed my snowblower, you returned it in pieces. When I was sick, you blasted Metallica. And when your dog decorated my lawn, you laughed. I could go on, but I’m not one to hold grudges. So I am writing this letter to tell you that your house is on fire.
Cordially, Harry


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}