New Zealand loses focus on science to its detriment, and the world's
This is not a column on global warming, climate change or whether humans are or aren’t having an impact.
New Zealand loses focus on science to its detriment, and the world's
This is not a column on global warming, climate change or whether humans are or aren’t having an impact.
Forget the hype, food is as cheap as it ever was
Food is likely to increase in price this year. Not as much as salaries, fuel or electricity; probably not as much as housing. But a bit. This is the prediction by the US Department of Economics. The increase is due to the ongoing effects of the 2012 drought and the increased demand from Asia.
Each time prices rise there are complaints from society and farmers take the flack.
We're obese. We know it and we know about the risks of junk food, poverty and mothers' diets. But if we think organic food can cut our obesity rate, we could be swallowing a whole lot of dodgy – and costly – ideas
The headline in the New Zealand Herald's Element magazine last month certainly hit its targets: "Feeding the nation – obesity, poverty and how to get New Zealand eating its greens".
Thousands of New Zealanders voted this week that the police were losing their trust. Could it be because the police behave as if they're the pope? (And not in the 'without sin' sense)
I've gotta say I was a bit surprised. On The Vote this week, 56 percent of our voting viewers said the police were losing our trust, with 44 percent siding against the moot. I'd expected those numbers to be round the other way and I'd suggest it tells those at police national HQ – once memorably called "bullshit castle" – that they've got some work to do to earn back that trust.
The three candidates for Labour Party leadership are all strong. A voter explains his choice
Agonising about how I’m going to vote is a novel experience for me.
I grew up a tribal Labour voter, “rusted-on” as they say, thanks to my mum, who suffered as the daughter of a deserted wife in the Great Depression and whose situation was vastly improved by the election of the Savage Labour Government in 1935.
It's very hard to draw black and white lines around political interviewing in this country and in these times... but it's easy to get it wrong when you weren't in the room, and that's the trap Msrs Edwards, Ralston and Drinnan have fallen into
I've been sick the past week, so I hope you'll forgive the tardy response. But Brian Edwards, the man who not so long ago declared he would stop blogging, wrote a blog last week about Shane Taurima and his decision to put himself forward for the Labour candidacy in the Rawhiti-Ikaroa by-election. It got under my skin, not least for the observations quoted by other 'media commentators'.
Eric Watson and Mark Hotchin dodged a bullet yesterday as the SFO decided not to press charges... and responded with about as much grace as you'd expect
After two and a half years, the Serious Fraud Office wound up its extensive investigation into Hanover Finance yesterday, deciding they would not lay criminal charges against those leading the finance company. The company's owners, in what's become typical bad taste, couldn't wait to gloat at the outcome.
Thirty years after the Falklands War, the dispute over who controls the British outpost simmers on
Now for something completely different – a blog about the Falkland Islands.
Punitive bank fees prevent many people from using banks – and protecting themselves from loan sharks and other dodgy financial services
That a New Zealander won’t be part of the papal conclave was possibly the least interesting thing to say about the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
When global events happen, some in our media hit the cultural cringe button and head out to find the New Zealand angle. We can’t just be citizens of the world.
The serious and repeated errors made by Fonterra over DCD should mean an end to the cosy little concessions all New Zealanders make to the dairy giant
You would have thought Fonterra might have sharpened their crisis management after the tainted milk scandal in 2007, which illustrated the extreme sensitivity around the integrity of their products. Instead, Fonterra have made a ham-fisted mess of the DCD issue.
Imagining Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler as a popular children's book character. Will he learn the lesson of 'what is smart and what is not'?
My favourite book as a child was a Berenstain bears book called ‘The Bear Scouts’. Daddy bear is a feckless outdoor guide who thinks he knows best. But the little bear scouts who follow the guide book know better.
We might have fought over it, at the time. Sometimes, we fought bitterly. At Gallipoli, we lost; but we were on the right side of history, and we found a blood-coloured poppy, like a heartbeat in the dust. Later, it would dawn on us: this is who we are, New Zealand.
Last month, business force-for-good Pure Advantage launched their latest Green Race paper. “A race has begun, and we are in it,” they said, and they showed a short film.
What is investigative journalism, really, and why is it important? Nicky Hager shares his Bruce Jesson Lecture, presented at Auckland's Maidment Theatre on October 31
Each time I go walking near my home I pass an old war memorial inscribed with the words "magna est veritas, et praevalebit": Truth is great, and will prevail. The words date from 1917, in the middle of the First World War, and were obviously attempting to reassure the locals that their sons and brothers were dying in a noble cause.
Alfred Nobel intended his peace prize to go to those most responsible for creating "fraternity between nations," and the "reduction of standing armies." Yet a brief look at Obama's accomplishments since shows that the further we move from 2009, the further he turns from this legacy
Three years ago this month, the Nobel committee awarded its vaunted Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama. While many dubious names appear on the prize’s long list of winners, this decision was met with near-universal approval at the time.
The incomparable, incredible heaviness of grief and how it's just not fair
Those who make us laugh have a gift. I don't mean just the talent for conquering their nerves and walking out on stage at some comedy festival to crack jokes and draw a polite - or genuine - ha ha from the audience.
Should Gisborne ban the wearing of pyjamas in public because, as one councillor said, it lowers the tone? Should we judge people by what they wear?
Whether we like it or not, we judge a person according to their appearance and what they're wearing, in terms of making snap decisions about what their occupation might be, where they might fit in society, or what sort of person they may be in relation to us.
A few initial thoughts on what comes next after the not guilty verdict in the Scott Guy murder case
So Ewen Macdonald is found not guilty. That will surprise a lot of punters, I suspect, but not a lot of lawyers or journalists. Early confidence in a guilty verdict has ebbed throughout the case as the evidence has looked weak and Greg King's attacks strong. And within an hour of the verdict, the mood is turning.
So the Urewera Four are serving time, yet no-one can confidently say what they were really up to and the police allegations are all over the place
Has ever so much time and money been spent on gaining so little clarity? Even with Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara now behind bars, no-one seems to be able to say what was going on at the Urewera training camps and who was at risk.
Depressed and suicidal prisoners in New Zealand are placed in so-called 'at risk' cells where they are deprived of sleep and subjected to humiliating searches
Kim Dotcom recently spent a month on remand in Mt Eden prison after the police agreed to act on behalf of US authorities. The police took away his cars and froze his bank accounts.
Yet again parents are coddled to within an inch of plausability, this time over breastfeeding
Good grief. Piri Weepu is shown bottle-feeding his six-month-old daughter Taylor on an anti-smoking ad, and somehow this image of nurturing and positive fathering is construed as an attack on breastfeeding. As my nearly-three-year-old would say, "What?!"
This week's Pike River hearings have focused on former CEO Peter Whittall. Once showered with public acclaim, Whittall is now in a very deep hole indeed, dug in part by his own denial
So the first stage of the Pike River Royal Commission has wrapped up in Greymouth today, and what a difference a few months has made for Pike River Coal CEO Peter Whittal.
I wonder what would have happened to Mark Hotchin if he hadn't been quite so respectable, quite so upper class and quite so, well, rich
Phil Taylor at the Herald yesterday revealed Mark Hotchin's half million dollar losses in a 2002 get-rich-quick scam, a fact the courts chose to keep from the public.
The Police have more than enough laws to fight crime, it's just that they're not using them effectively. The two old parties - National and Labour - can just stop giving them more legislation. When did you ever hear the Rozzers say, "Thank you very much, we have enough power now."?
Justice Clifford's judgment in favour of Hells Angel member Philip Schubert, who sought judicial review overturning Wanganui City Council's bylaw banning gang insignia in public places, is a small blow for freedom of association and expression.
The sight of a Minister reading a speech to Parliament about a Bill he clearly hadn't even read has done what not even the Electoral Finance Act could: it's killed off a vital part of political discourse in New Zealand.
Distracting myself from August’s cruelty, and finding some sun
All I wanted was an apple, when I woke the other night. I craved its crunch and could taste its juice; had Eve held it in front of me — cruel trick — I would have snatched and devoured it. But not a supermarket apple.
The Sunday Star-Times is very big on the need for accountability in others. How about it demonstrates a bit itself?
A few weeks ago, the Sunday Star-Times ran a front-page story about a fairly routine case in which a High Court judge varied the sentence of a woman convicted for drink driving, quashing her disqualification and instead tripling the amount of community service she must per
DOC papers released to me, under the OIA, show Meridian deleting key email to pre-empt its release, and slowing down DOC decision-making
So, the Pork Industry Board decides the Official Information Act kind of sucks.
The government's decision to change the patent law regarding software has got techies and lawyers up in arms. It's out of kilter internationally and raises questions about the select committee process
It's been a quiet controversy, but last week's decision by Commerce Minister Simon Power that software should not be patented - at least not unless it's "embedded" (ie, software built into a device) - was
It’s time for tree planting, picture-painting, and the annual garden bird survey
Sometimes I find it in books, sometimes in the garden; always, I find it by chance.
As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and the glaciergate debate fades, the IPCC is gearing up for another report, another round of controversey. It will take great care testing the science; will its critics? And what's the future of transport?
The story goes like this: Following publication of the 4th Assessment Report in February 2007 and the completion of the Special Report on Renewable Energy, the member countries of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agreed in April 2008 to undertake a 5th Assessment Report (AR5). It's intended to be released in February 2011 after the final review process has been completed.
You could do worse for a role model than a big-hearted dog. If you are a young man, you could do much, much worse
Our son thinks he is a dog. It stands to reason--his best friend is a Jack Russell-mini schnauzer cross named Scout who has lived with us for two years. Our son is only 14 months old, so as far as he is concerned Scout is part of what it means to be home. He is a tail to pull and a beard to tug and very often a source of fulsome baby giggles.
As consumers wake up to the false economy and cruelty of ‘factory’ meat and poultry, free range producers are bringing home the bacon while sales soar, according to industry sources
Ostrich — sorry, Pork — Industry Board stalwarts have buried their heads in the sand, threatening legal action against higher animal welfare standards. Meanwhile, the market shops elsewhere, where the chickens and piggies roam free.
A day spent on the road to Pahaoa is no ordinary day; you will find beauty there, and you will not regret it
I January 30, 2010
The road to Pahaoa is for dawdling on. There is no traffic, and no hurry.
The road to Pahaoa melts and gasps in the sun. Anyone foolish enough to walk upon it will ruin their shoes. I am, and I do. After that, I drive barefoot.
The controversy over errors in the IPCC's assessment of climate change have people asking whether it's all a beat-up. But where's the peer reviewed evidence that no risk exists, asks one of the IPCC's authors
As has been well reported recently by the media, several errors have emerged from the IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4) published in 2007.
With the housing market so volatile, vendors are girding their loins while buyers are hopelessly confused
Our little house in the hood is on the market. It smells like orange zest and window cleaner, and I don't see how it could look any cuter—it is a plastic red Monopoly house brought to life, squatting on a prominent corner, palm trees and agaves gathered round it like disciples.
All we can do now is wait for those cashed-up buyers we were promised to come rushing through the doors.
Happiness has simple ingredients – good food, a bit of luck and, apparently, lots of rosy sex
I’m living in a Victorian house of ill repute. Well-buttoned whaleboned Victorian energies were channelled into breeding some very sexy roses – wanton voluptuous fragrant old roses, that lean unbuttoned and bawdy on walls, tumble into hedges, and grope at passers by.
Another bottle of wine leaves Pundit HQ
Congratulations to new member Peter Martin, winner of the Pundit First Birthday wine draw. A bottle of fine French Madiran wine is in the post.
Carbon footprint calculation is a murky science. What to do, when you’ve done everything that you can, and it still might not be enough? Answer: hug a tree
Wielding the pumice stone, scrubbing my grubby carbon feet clean, I fretted over this dilemma: is it possible to live both “normally” and sustainably, when life as we know it is inherently unsustainable?
Bloggers have been pecking at NBR publisher Barry Colman after his very public swipe at online media. Thing is, in many ways he's right.
My, but Barry Colman has put a cat amongst the online pigeons. The owner of the National Business Review has decided to charge a subscription fee for "the best news stories, scoops and commentary" on the paper's website – roughly 20 percent of NBR's online content. In doing so he took a swipe at bloggers, many of whom have bridled at his criticism. Thing is, Colman has a point.
Today is the start of a new spectator sport for Pundit readers – watching me fall flat on my face in the dirt, in pursuit of sustainability
I have a perennial problem. It’s called July. I ride the train in the dark, and watch myself disappear. I count the days until August. They are too short, and too long. I want to blanket myself in earth and leaves, and hibernate for a month or two. My garden lies fallow.
It’s too early to say whether the Privy Council’s Barlow decision marks a tectonic shift in the law governing criminal appeals—or a minor refinement—but it does offer much-needed reassurance about appellate courts’ willingness to do justice
Last Thursday the Privy Council dismissed John Barlow’s appeal. It held that the case against him was overwhelming, and the Board felt sure of his guilt. The case marks a change in the law governing criminal appeals.
...Turns out he's one and the same man. So does the Olympic committee have the track record to act as the moral guardians of sport?
Here's one for the ethicists to get their teeth into. Should New Zealand Olympians be chosen purely on their sporting excellence or is poor off-field behaviour worthy of a veto?
Bernard Hickey is right to rail against the inter-generational transfer of wealth that hies in this year's Budget, but there's no need to throw the bathwater out with the baby boomers
Business commentator Bernad Hickey and I share the same low opinion of the impact the baby boomer generation is having on the politics of our great country.
You might think a jury's "not guilty" verdict finally puts a matter to rest but David Bain is discovering that it can be just the beginning
While the David Bain trial was still running, I tried my best to avoid getting captured in its myriad of details. I feared it would be the legal equivalent of Uncle Remus' tar baby, with the slightest contact inexorably trapping me as surely as Brer Rabbit.
David Bain's retrial is now in the hands of the jury. Their verdict will bring down the curtain on a superb piece of legal theatre
There's a reason why so many movies and TV shows are set in the criminal courtroom. Trials not only revolve around the seamiest, hence most enthralling, of human activities (sex, violence, deceit and greed), but they operate in a neatly packaged format involving clear and predictable procedures. The prosecution has its say. The defence has its rebuttal.
The unexpected downside to staying at home with a baby: endless ruddy cleaning
I read the other day that Britney Spears is close to realising her life’s ambition—becoming a stay-at-home mum. According to NW magazine, which I adore in all its trashtastic glory, she will soon marry her manager Jason Trawick and give up the career to keep house.
In which I rescue the government from its dilemma over what to do with the Hillary homestead and help rejuvenate the Auckland waterfront, all in one go
Showing that his political judgment hasn't gone completely to the dogs, John Key last week announced that the government is willing to pay some or all of the cost required to preserve Sir Edmund Hillary's family home in Remuera, Auckland.
When the going gets tough, the tough go to the mall and drink coffee
I went to the mall yesterday. That's what new mums do. We go to the mall and test drive our new prams, simultaneously getting a bit of postnatal exercise and reacquainting ourselves with the world outside our front doors.
An attempt to promote an old-fashioned idea: that being a journalist is a good thing
Sandra Dickson has lost her faith in journalism.
An hour or so north of Wellington, Buller Road runs west off SH1 to the birdwatching sanctuary at Lake Papaitonga
The Royal Society of New Zealand recently announced five finalists for their inaugural Science Book Prize
Scientists planning to drill deep into the Alpine Fault to understand more about faults and earthquakes can thank Harold Wellman for discovering the fault nearly 70 years ago
For a nuclear-free country, New Zealand has a surprisingly rich and interesting nuclear history
Summer officially ends this weekend, but the cicadas are still making a raucous sound in my garden. Much of what we know about this summer songster is thanks to the work of a hero of New Zealand science
New Zealand scientists are celebrating the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth – even though he described New Zealand as "not a pleasant place".
Charles Darwin, founder of the theory of evolution, was born 200 years ago today. Events around the world this year celebrate not only the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth but 150 years since the publication of his seminal work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
The self pity of Andrew Ferrier and the self righteousness of Michael Laws leapt from the pages of our newspapers this weekend, and shouldn't go unanswered
A long weekend is a good time to get some newsprint on your fingers, but having read comments by a couple of our supposed leaders in the past 72 hours, I'm wishing I went fishing instead.
How a non-maternal soon-to-be-mum is spending the last weeks of her pregnancy
This is a magical time. Really. I have to keep reminding myself, because my legs ache and my stomach is stretched as tight as a bongo drum and I can't sleep through the night anymore. But I am lucky to be seven-and-a-half months pregnant in the height of summer. I am lucky.
A little bit of weather, and the city grinds to a halt. Pathetic, yes. But what fun
Fonterra won't hold any of its own accountable for the contaminated milk scandal, while the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre says no-one's to blame for last year's canyoning deaths. Both lack the guts to simply put their hands up and take responsibility
It seems that we can't get away from stories of accountability this year. Globally, the war in Gaza raised again questions once more about where the blame should lie for the continuing misery in the Middle East. In the Pacific, regional leaders have been trying to decide how to hold Fiji's coup leaders to account for their failure to hold democratic elections.
Making quality television can be a tough job when there are dog shows to attend, old soldiers to cajole, and Jim Hickey to contend with
Living as I do in rural rustication in the Horowhenua, this time of year is a particular delight. Everywhere the eye glances crops are ripening. Seasonal foods abound and, best of all, my own garden produces a small harvest of edible produce. But this is no time to dally along the verges of the vege beds.
It's showtime... Dog shows, that is.
A report from Washington DC on Inauguration day, when Americans found a reason to be proud once again. And boy, did they show it!
The largest party on earth is over, and what a party it was.
TV news editors said yesterday that the 'on the ground' reports from Gaza were all that matter. But news without context is like meat without vege
I was out at the Artisan vineyard in west Auckland yesterday to watch the latest episode of Media7 being shot, and on the back of the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire One News' Paul Patrick and TV3's Angus Gillies were discussing coverage of the war in Gaza.
The NZ war hero behind the Battle of Britain has turned posthumous political peacemaker
Although he has not received widespread public recognition, either in Britain or his native New Zealand, Sir Keith Rodney Park has a claim to be one of the greatest commanders in the history of aerial warfare.
John Roughan reckons he's found religion but he misunderstands the meaning of Christmas
I'm old enough to remember childhood games that were often based around war. Whether we were Allied soldiers against the Nazis, cowboys bringing down Indians or humans fending off alien hordes, there was always a clear distinction between goodies and baddies.
Appearances are deceptive in one of Auckland's "up-and-coming" suburbs
We just moved to a "transitional" neighbourhood, one of those affordable patches of Auckland that is on the up, but slowly enough that most capital gains-focused home buyers can't be bothered waiting for gentrification to happen.
A huge country with enormous potential, India also has a long list of "very big problems" to overcome, terrorism being just one among many
On November 26, a coordinated group of gunmen terrorized the city of Mumbai, the financial capital of India, attacking prestigious hotels and other popular destinations in the city.
What do Nia Glassie's murderers, Mark Hotchin, and even the new government have in common? A lack of shame and obligation caused by being cut off from the wider community
When the murderers of Nia Glassie were sentenced last month, there was a lot of talk about shame.
Deborah Hill Cone's attack on my change analysis in today's Herald misses the point entirely, and seems to pine for a little bit of good ol' fashioned sexism and racism
One of the toughest aspects of being a columnist-for-hire is having to be ready by deadline with an instant opinion rather than a well-considered one, and I suspect it's that sort of pressure lies behind Deborah Hill Cone's piece in today's Business Herald.
If the government can rush to fund Herceptin, why not Tarceva, a drug for those suffering from more lethal lung cancer? One patient who's paying $2,000 per month just to stay alive speaks out
During the election campaign, government dollars were promised in record amounts to protect and improve the health of New Zealanders, and now within the first 100 days of the new administration, funding for the breast cancer drug Herceptin will be extended from nine weeks to a full year.
The upside of the global recession--and yes, there is one
As a quasi-American, this may be a risky and genetically surprising statement, but I am starting to think the recession has a bright side.
Barack Obama won the US election thanks to young people, African-Americans, Hispanics... and the rich?
Last Tuesday’s election (ed: was it only last week?) witnessed a realignment of the American electorate, which, if it endures, could produce substantial changes in the country’s politics and policies over coming decades.
Why is a woman changing her name still an issue in 2008?
When I got married three years ago it didn’t occur to me to change my name. I figured that debate was done and dusted, at least for most reasonable people, and I didn’t actually care what the unreasonable people thought.
Americans take a long, hard look at themselves over the credit crisis, but even now are reluctant to commit to more government regulation
As the global financial crisis has deepened, the number of fingers pointing accusingly at the habits and practices prevalen
When Tony Blair and Madonna hit Montreal together this week, they only added to the surrealism surrounding this once in a century credit tsunami.
Tony Blair and the now oh-so-appropriately-named Material Girl breezed in to Montreal for the same days this week, each charging bucket loads for the privilege of their presence right in the middle of the economic tsunami. One was clad in fishnets, thigh-high boots, top hat and little else. The other was not.
The rest of the world has had its doubts about the American economy and its impact on us all long before Wall St began its recent meltdown
Around the globe, people are anxiously following the U.S. financial crisis as it evolves into a worldwide meltdown. For all the debate about decoupling, people nearly everywhere realize that what happens in the American economy can have a big impact on them.
National and Act seem to have come to an arrangement over the Epsom electorate, so why is Richard Worth still fighting?
Richard Worth is on the phone to the mayor’s office. He’s trying to clarify some points of protocol for an up-coming do, patiently explaining to the person on the other end of the line that “we want to run it the old way”. In his blue and white striped shirt with its crisp white collar, the 60-year-old former lawyer has a lot of the old way about him.
The free-marketers can cry all they like, the credit crunch means capitalism will change its shape once again
Let the cry ring out, "we're all Socialists now". That thought has been running through my head for a week or so now, and while it's a little flippant it reflects a remarkable few weeks that has undoubtedly changed the course of capitalism for some years to come. Given the markets' plunge overnight and today, the governments look to have more work to do yet.
The myth of the fatter Australian pay packet
The always impressive Brent Edwards on Radio New Zealand has this morning reported that the wage gap between Australia and New Zealand hasn't widened in the past nine years. (That link is to the Quicktime version of the story on Morning Report today.
Despite all the crime news, crime is trending downwards
As I was considering crawling out of bed this morning at 6.30am, I heard screaming from somewhere down the hall. We live in an apartment building and at first I put it down to some early morning romance.
While Barack Obama and John McCain took an interest in world affairs during the first presidential debate, the world started taken an interest in the election much earlier.
As you may have heard, America will soon be holding a presidential election. Americans don’t like to rush into these things, so preparations for the final event have been drawing media attention for the better part of two years. (To many in the public, and no doubt to some of the direct participants, it seems even longer than that.)
Given the number of sub-cultures in America, it's a wonder the country holds together as 'one nation under God'.
With three winners in four Republican primaries so far, and John Edwards hoping against hope for an upset in Nevada or South Carolina that would make it three winners on the Democratic side, this year's presidential race has highlighted the diversity of political opinion in the US.
For half a century science has played a crucial part in America's international dominance. Now the rest of the world is catching up - fast.
When America's prominence in the world is discussed, it's usually attributed to its open democracy and free market policies, to its military might and economic heft since the second world war, to the sheer size of its population and landmass and to the American idea of liberty and opportunity for all.
The US is not at the forefront of any debate that matters, except war and terrorism. The rest of the world is moving on without it.
As George Bush strolls into the leaders' meeting at Apec, I half expect to see him rubbing his eyes in a somewhat sleepy, surprised manner, like a bear coming out of hibernation.
By reading this article online, you may be complicit in the slow death of newspapers
I cancelled my San Francisco Chronicle subscription last week. When it came it was an easy decision - they had rolled over my annual subscription and upped my rate without telling me, so the phone call to cut off the paper was made as an annoyed consumer. Now, the morning after, the disappointed journalist in me has taken over and is feeling guilty.
Global food shortages have made biofuels unpopular, but are we throwing out the biofuels out with the bathwater?
It hasn't been a great year for biofuels so far. They had been sold as the solution - or at least one significant solution - to the problem of peak oil and the need for alternative, less polluting energy sources. As oil became more expensive and harder to come by, biofuels would make up the difference, providing a greener fuel source.