December 2018

The Weekender 22/12/2018

Welcome to the last Weekender for a little while, I'll take a break over Christmas and New Years, I hope you have a great time with family & friends.


Shawn Long finally made his mark in the NZ Breakers 96-79 win over the Illawarra Hawks in Hamilton last night. The Breakers are pushing for the final spot in the top four. The Breakers previously stopped their losing streak with an 89-78 win in Queensland.

Michael Venus has retired from singles tennis, but he has had a successful doubles season, so looks likely to focus on that.

Nico Porteous has finished the year on a high after getting a silver medal for his first World Cup medal in the freeski halfpipe event in China.

The Black Caps tried everything in their first test match here against Sri Lanka, but they couldn't dismiss the second innings so the game ended in a draw. Sri Lanka was bowled out for 282 and NZ replied with 578 after opener Tom Latham carried his bat, scoring 264 not out. Then Sri Lanka batted for a couple of days reaching 287/3 to save the game.
In the IPL, former Black Cap Captain Brendon McCullum has gone unsold.

NZ News

This week the government's drug policies showed up and it's confusing. Obviously, the Greens have always been pro-drugs, but apparently, we will have a binding referendum at the next election on legalising cannabis. But the news about that comes in a week where the government appeared to be trying to crack down on drugs, saying they are going after peddlers and producers of drugs. They are also cracking down on alcohol (targetting a zero road toll), and cigarettes (NZ to be smoke-free by 2025) with a 10% increase in tobacco excise next year. As one commentator said "We want to tax sugar because we can't control ourselves around it ... but cocaine is fine." "We campaign endlessly against the opening of more local liquor shops, we restrict hours and ages, but dope is no problem." What are they thinking?
A new collective agreement between the government and the Ministry of Justice workers has been reached, ending their dispute and strikes. But I don't think they were ever underpaid. A Queen's Counsel can expect to make more than a million dollars a year and judges can contribute up to 5% of their salary into a super scheme - while the taxpayer tops that up by $7.50 for every dollar they contribute!
The Prime Minister has claimed that the increase in contracts for the business of MP Julie Anne Genter's partner, is not a conflict of interest, but the value of the consultancy firm's contracts has increased sevenfold and none of the 19 contracts has been subject to an open tender.
The Education Minister has vetoed the proposed name change for Victoria University. They were planning to rename to the University of Wellington.

NZTA has approved the business case for a Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail trial. The local Labour MPs and the transport minister are talking it up, but this has been tried before and failed because it's expensive, slow and simply not used. The cost of the five-year trial is $78.2m which if the train is full every time, is subsiding every user trip by about $140. And as for removing users from the road? It will take a maximum of 150 people versus the current 20,532 average vehicles a day going past Bombay. Did I mention it's actually only going to Papakura and then you'll have to change trains.

The National Party has won its appeal over the damages cost for breaching copyright to the Eminem song they used in the 2014 election.

The Numbers Game

4: people have died on the roads in a horror start to the holiday season
5: cows struck dead by lightning near Te Awamutu - we have had some of the longest periods of thunder and lightning that I remember
20: c/L drop in petrol price by the normally low priced Gull
40: years of Peter Williams reading news has ended as he signed off from TVNZ for the last time this week
155,700: donated by New Zealand Herald readers for Fred Hollows Foundation to provide eye-health equipment in Vanuatu
3m: $ the cost of the government scrapping plans for new parliamentary buildings
4m: $ fully electric ferry is to be built in New Zealand - the Southern Hemisphere's first
14m: $ paid by Tauranga City Council to Bella Vista homeowners after they approved houses but then ordered evacuations because of slip potential
1.4b: $ announced by the government to make NZ's worst roads safer - and who will they come to, to find the worst roads. Me. (My day job)

Finance NZ Dollar

GBP 0.5301 (-0.0099)
EUR 0.5895 (-0.0116)
USD 0.6710 (-0.0088)
AUD 0.9540 (+0.0075)

The Weekender NZer of the week

Trevor Chinn
Trevor died this week aged 81. He was a renowned Glaciologist and documented changes in the Southern Alps over the last few decades.

Joke of the Weekender

If growing up in the ’80s taught me one thing, it’s that my friends and I should have found a treasure map by now.


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 15/12/2018

Welcome to a holiday weekender - we are staying at Opal Hot Springs this week. The weather has been a mix, lots of thunder & lightning storms but some nice days too. 


The All Blacks Sevens missed out on a medal at the South Africa legs of the sevens, when they were outplayed by USA 31-12. USA is leading the table with two second placings.
Ben Smith and Nehe Milner-Skudder have announced they will head to France after next year's Rugby World Cup - there will be a few of them going! Steve Hansen has announced that he will step down as coach of the All Blacks after the RWC next year. Although he thinks he could still do the job, he thinks it would be best for the team. He also seems to think Ian Foster is the best man to replace him, not current Irish coach Joe Schmidt, who many think would be a good option.
A female has won the New Zealand Rugby player of the year award for the first time, with Black Ferns player Kendra Cocksedge taking the award.

Marina Erakovic has retired from professional tennis, she has done really well in her career, reaching a singles ranking high of 39 back in 2012, and a ranking of 25 on the doubles circuit. She also won a WTA singles title in Memphis in 2013, and she won eight doubles titles.

The nominations for the Halberg Awards are in, and it looks like NZ Rugby League has dropped the ball by not nominating Dally M winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. There were a record 93 nominations.

The Black Sticks men have been knocked out of the World Cup with a first round 2-0 knockout against England.

A Stars and Stripes branded American entry to the America's Cup has been announced as the fifth challenger for 2021 in Auckland.

Kiwi WRC rally driver Hayden Paddon has lost his contract with Hyundai. He has had a great couple of years, and even this year with only a partial contract, he finished eighth after competing in seven of 13 rounds.

NZ News

The body of British backpacker Grace Millane was quickly found and the NZ Police with their emotional and professional response earned high praise for NZ. The father of Millane thanked the "heroic" police and the people of New Zealand for the "outpouring of love, numerous messages, tributes and compassion". There were memorial services across New Zealand during the week.
Despite a court order not to name the defendant, British media have named him and so the information is available from overseas sources even though the information can't legally be published in New Zealand. Justice Minister Andrew Little pled with the overseas media not to use the name, fearing that it could be argued that he won't get a fair trial. And that is fair enough, emotions around this are pretty high around here.

A DOC ranger has told how he has had to sleep with a gun under his bed because of fear for his family after death threats from anti-1080 activists.

The government has had a rough week with chief executives. Despite being happy to announce the appointments, they have clammed up and are refusing to comment about the resignation of the NZTA chief and the KiwiBuild chief this week.
The Prime Minister has also been firing line after it came to light that a joint friend of hers and Czech drug dealer Karel Sroubek has sent her a text commending Immigration Minister Lees-Galloway's initial decision to grant residency. National previously asked questions about the individual, and Labour gave the impression that there had been no contact - clearly dishonesty by omission which seems far more common with this government than the last.

Air New Zealand narrowly avoided strikes just before Christmas after agreeing to terms with the logistics and engineers union this week.

An audit into North Canterbury Fish & Game found that they ignored the wishes of a keen angler who bequeathed them $500,000.

The Numbers Game

1: % of expenditure to be identified to be cut by government ministers before the next budget
2: nd ranking for the Silver Ferns in the International Netball Federation's latest rankings
46: th most attractive country/region for oil and gas exploration, down from 14th a year ago
700: km of roads will have lower speed limits around Auckland
1,500: people in Whangarei are without broadband after a digger cut the fibre optic cable
50m: $ has been paid for the Government's flagship fees-free policy on students who have failed or withdrew

Finance NZ Dollar

Since 09/12/2018 (6 days ago).
GBP 0.5400 (-0.0001)
EUR 0.6011 (-0.0030)
USD 0.6798 (-0.0078)
AUD 0.9465 (-0.0083)

The Weekender NZer of the week

Martin Crowe
design of centuries

Joke of the Weekender

The Revenant (2015). An epic tale of one man’s desperate journey to do whatever it takes to finally win an Oscar. 


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 09/12/2018

Hello, we've had a couple of lovely blue sky days, but that came after some amazing thunder and lightning storms earlier in the week.


Last weekend the All Black Sevens beat USA 21-5 in the Dubai Sevens final to claim the double after the women had earlier won their event.
The All Black Sevens started the Cape Town Sevens with five experienced players ruled out injured. They had a great escape when they trailed South Africa by seven points with 30 seconds to go. They won 26-21, after previously losing to Samoa, meaning a loss would have knocked them out at the pool stage for the first time ever. They look to be struggling without their stars but at least they made it out of pool play.
The women's Rugby Sevens team won the Lonsdale Cup - New Zealand Olympic's top award.
A proposed Pacific-based Super Rugby team won't be going ahead after it failed to find the required funding.

The Black Caps were looking to bounce back from being thumped in the second test against Pakistan and didn't particularly start well. In fact, at the end of the third day, they seemed to be struggling not to lose badly again. NZ got to 274, Pakistan reached 348, and NZ were 2 down for 26 runs. But then the fourth day happened. Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls had a record fifth wicket with Williamson out for 139 and Nicholls 126 not out. Day five started Twenty 20 style with NZ hitting a quick fire 90 and declaring at 353/7. The first five Pakistani wickets fell quickly and they were 5/55 at lunch, and they were all out for 156 before tea. That left NZ with the game and series win - the first away win against Pakistan in 49 years.

In surfing, Ricardo Christie has joined Paige Hareb in the elite World Surf League Qualifying Series. He is in a great position but still has a lot of work to do to join the tour.

The Wellington Phoenix have had a massive 3-1 away win over Sydney FC. Roy Krishna became an NZ citizen freeing up an import slot, and during the game this weekend he became the club's joint all-time leading scorer.
Sticking with Basketball, Steven Adams has been playing really well for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He recently scored a game-high 21 points to lead OKC to a 110-83 win over the Detriot Pistons. Adams is having a career-best season averaging 14.6 points and 10.4 rebounds. The OKC is third in their conference.

The Tall Blacks have qualified for the 2019 World Cup after beating Syria 97-74.

The Football Ferns were the last team to qualify for the 2019 Women's World Cup when they beat Fiji 8-0 in the final of the OFC Nations Cup.
The under-17 women finished third at the FIFA U-17 World Cup when they beat Canada 2-1. Their aim in the competition was just to score a goal, so they have done really really well.

The Auckland Tuatara beat Canberra Cavalry 9-1 in the Australian Baseball League.

More news has come out about the Shaun Johnson saga with the NZ Warriors. There are always two sides to every story and the Warriors side was quite interesting and balanced things out. Johnson has said that new coach Stephen Kearney just didn't like him.

NZ News

Auckland Airport had some disruptions yesterday with two separate fire evacuations. Earlier in the week with the thunderstorms and the lightning, caused them to stop refuelling planes resulting in flights cancelled and delayed. The rain caused part of a ceiling at "The Base" shopping centre here in Hamilton to collapse.
The Primary and Intermediate teachers have rejected the government's latest pay offer "overwhelmingly" saying it will not fix the industry's staffing "crisis".

There has been some internal bickering in the Labour Party this week with outspoken MP Greg O'Connor blaming the government's drop in the polls, on the handling of the Sroubek case. The Police Minister was very blunt saying "good riddance, never come back" to the drug-smuggling Czech, Sroubek.
The Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, this week apologised for saying Simon Bridges was a "smart-arse". It didn't stop there though, with Simon Bridges (rightly) accusing the Speaker of protecting the Prime Minister and (rightly) being kicked out for suggesting bias. National MPs followed him out en masse. But there is some pretty clear evidence that the supposedly impartial "Speaker of the House" is actually quite biased toward Labour. He seems to have struggled far more than any other Speaker.
Another week and more bad press for the KiwiBuild scheme. Without telling any of his superiors (including the Prime Minister), MP Phil Twyford decided on their (and our) behalf that he would change some of the fundamental rules of KiwiBuild. The original and main rule was that if you bought a KiwiBuild house and didn't live in it for three years, you had to give all the profit back to the government. Twyford decided this week that you would now just have to pay back 30%. Perhaps he had to do something after more stories this week about houses all over the place that either didn't sell at all or were selling at higher than the average in the area.
The Mental health inquiry report was released this week and it appears to be a typical Labour inquiry result - it produced nothing definite and doesn't seem to tell anything we didn't already know.

National hasn't had an entirely smooth week though, with allegations of bullying being levelled against MP (and former gardening show presenter), Maggie Barry. She has said that a workplace investigation has cleared her. A complaint has been laid with the Auditor General about the misuse of public money.

The sad news this week was about missing British backpacker Grace Millane who disappeared in Auckland. At first, it was a missing person case, but police talked to a man after tracking down security camera footage of her, and soon switched to a homicide investigation. They have charged the man with her murder, even though they were still trying to locate her body.

Numbers Game

4: cows were killed by lightning near Hamilton this week
10: houses in Hamilton were evacuated with flooding this week
46: % support for National after a jump in the latest poll, Labour dropped to 43%, Greens 5%, NZ First 4%
50: % of public sector chiefs are woman with the appointment of Bernadette Cavanagh to the head of Ministry for Culture
500: lightning strikes in Rotorua on Wednesday morning
2,000: lightning strikes across the North Island - I can't remember a storm that went on as long as that one
700,000: $/day being spent on Government enquiries, according to opposition calculations
14.5m: $ approved by Auckland City Council for the America's Cup, Malta has confirmed they are one of the eight new challengers
22.5m: $ additional funding approved by the Government for the America's Cup
100m: $ green investment fund announced by PM Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw this week 

Finance NZ Dollar

Since 01/12/2018 (8 days ago).
GBP 0.5401 (+0.0014)
EUR 0.6041 (-0.0034)
USD 0.6876 (+0.0001)
AUD 0.9549 (+0.0152)

The Weekender NZer of the week

Fred Hollows
In February, a $2.1 million refurbished and extended eye clinic, funded by Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, is due to open in Vanuatu. It will have modern laser equipment and the foundation is funding raising to buy an up-to-date diagnostic camera.

Joke of the Weekender

A conference call is the best way for a dozen people to say “bye” 300 times.


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 01/12/2018

And it's December already, welcome to summer! Today doesn't look like summer, but the Christmas decorations are up and last week had some nice patches. 


Last weekend the All Blacks hit back after their loss to Ireland and took it out on Italy running away to win 66-3 for their final game of the season. 
It wasn't a good weekend for southern hemisphere teams except that Fiji beat France for the first time, winning 21-14.
The result from the week before saw Ireland scoop most of the World Rugby awards for the year, although Michaela Blyde did win the women's sevens player for the second straight year, and Brodie Retallick won the try of the year award for his magnificent dummy against Australia earlier in the year.
This weekend is the Dubai Sevens and the Black Ferns Sevens beat Canada in the final 26-14.

Joelle King has won the Hong Kong Open squash title after beating world champion Raneem El Welily from Egypt. Joelle had a bad time in the sport but has come back and proven she can take on and beat the best in the world. I'm looking forward to seeing how she goes.

The Aussie V8 championship wrapped up last weekend in Newcastle and the first race saw a win from Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen to leap above fellow Kiwi Scott McLaughlin in the title race. Shane was stripped of the win and the valuable points though after the stewards spotted a pit lane infringement. Regardless, it all came down to the final race and Scott who had led the championship for most of the series finished second to win the title. Last year at this time was the lowest point in his career after he lost the title in the final race, so it was great that he could hang on this time. And a Kiwi one-two in the championship was great as well.
In other racing news, Brendon Hartley has been dropped by his Formula One team. There is hope he might get another drive, but for now, it is all over.

The Warriors have had an interesting week. The news came out about a week ago that they were going to let former star Shaun Johnson "test the waters". It became pretty clear they no longer wanted him, even though he was a very expensive signing just last year. He asked them for an early release and has been snapped up by the Cronulla Sharks. It wasn't a very nice way to treat someone who had been at the club his entire career.

The Black Caps didn't do very well in their second test against Pakistan falling to an innings and 16-run defeat. Yasir Shah had a record-equalling 14-wicket test haul.

In Basketball the Tall Blacks are one win away from clinching a spot at the World Cup after a 95-69 win over Jordan in Christchurch.

The Black Sticks men beat France 2-1 in the opening game of the World Cup in India.

The under-17 women's football team have done an amazing job at the world cup in Uruguay but they lost their semi-final 2-0 to European champs Spain.
The Football Ferns are a step away from the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup after they beat New Caledonia in the OFC semi-final.

The Auckland Tuatara had a thrilling extra-innings 3-2 win over the Canberra Cavalry for their third win of the season in the Australian Baseball League.

NZ News

The government is combining Housing New Zealand and Kiwibuild to create a mega housing authority with the power to override local councils. It will be called the Housing and Urban Development Authority.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter has announced that NZTA will spend $23m over three years to get more children riding bikes. The wittiest response was the headline "'Minister of Bikes' Julie Anne Genter puts our money where her mouth is".
The government had to back down on a flagship policy this week when New Zealand First put their foot down over the Workplace Relations Bill. Labour's plan was to allow unions into any workplace even without employers permission, but now they will only be allowed if there are collective agreements. And for collective agreements, employers will have to enter the bargaining process, but they won't be compelled to settle. It would have meant that businesses all over the country would be bound to the same terms as pay conditions in Auckland.
It wasn't all good news for Winston this week though after he was kicked out of parliament after an exchange with the Deputy Speaker Anne Tolley.

The government gave notice to Spark this week that Huawei has some work to do to convince the GCSB before their equipment can be used for their flagship 5G network. The network has recently been announced and will be planned for the America's Cup in Auckland. Most of the news stories said the government has banned Huawei, but it seems that isn't the case, but the GCSB did find that it would raise significant national security risks.

The government announced that Czech drug dealer Karel Sroubek is now liable for deportation after a residency review - but the "new" information which made them change their minds was in the original file. The Prime Minister continues to have confidence in her MP despite the obvious muck-up and u-turn.

There is some shocking news coming from the government's Tax Working Group with the chair Sir Michael Cullen saying “We are not supposed to be looking at inheritance taxes but a majority of my colleagues on the Tax Working Group appear to have a found a partial way around that.” The working group were explicitly prohibited from suggesting an inheritance tax. 

The Numbers Game

5: times the death rate for motor neuron disease in NZ compared to the global average
5.8: Richter scale earthquake from south of Stewart Island, was felt in Auckland
60: people caught using their mobile phones while driving in a Tauranga police operation
80: pilot whales stranded in the Chatham Islands - there have been a number of mass strandings recently
145: pilot whales died after a mass stranding on Stewart Island
1,000: injuries a month from trampolines according to ACC data
1,000: $ fine for Kevin Braswell as the NZ Breakers coach continues to complain against unjust officiating in the Aussie Basketball league
5,000: vehicles need to be rechecked after NZTA suspends a Onehunga vehicle inspector for faulty WOF checks
1.8m: cigarettes were seized by Customs and Police, and Police expect to make more arrests over the smuggling operation
2m: $ every day that MP Shane Jones needs to give away for his $3b fund for the regions - he can give up to $20m without Cabinet approval and no economic cost-benefit analysis
3m: $ for the upgrade to Premier House for PM Jacinda Ardern - triple the original estimate
7.1m: $ shortfall from fares to the cost of funding Tauranga's bus service as the numbers of passengers drop

Finance NZ Dollar

GBP 0.5387 (+0.0095)
EUR 0.6075 (+0.0093)
USD 0.6875 (+0.0090)
AUD 0.9397 (+0.0022)

The Weekender NZer of the week

Geoffrey Cox
design of journalism
The obituaries for Sir Geoffrey Cox rightly highlighted his role as a 'TV trailblazer' and the 'Founder of News at 10' for Britain's Independent Television News (ITN). But most also drew attention to his role as an eyewitness to momentous events in Europe during the 1930s and '40s.

Joke of the Weekender

When I lost my rifle, the Army charged me $85. That’s why in the Navy, the captain goes down with the ship. 


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}