Red Alert

Archive for the ‘events’ Category

National Party Blues

Posted by on August 15th, 2011

At the National Party’s Conference Party on Saturday night Natties were supposed to dress up in 1930’s gangster costumes (very appropriate I thought) and they hired some of NZ’s best to play for the gang. I don’t blame the musos for agreeing, because they need to making a living.  But Facebook comments and suggestions were not so discreet once followers found out who the band were playing for.  Here’s a sample:

  • Make sure you throw a shoe!
  • Just remember they are innocent victims of being born rich, and dumb, a dangerous mix.
  • Into the Jaws of Death rode the xxx… good luck brave fellow
  • There must be some sort of modal weapon that you can subtly employ?
  • If you hit just the right low frequency, and hold it, they should all spew.
  • Subtly change all of the rhythm into charge of the light brigade – and shoot them all with your laser “peace and money for all” guitar… let me know how that goes for us.
  • ABBA: “Money Money Money”
  • The Beatles “Little Piggies”
  • Sadly the fabled “brown note” (between 9 and 20Hz) doesn’t work, although you may be able to induce some anxiety.
  • Sell out Saturday
  • “Depression Blues”:
  • Crank out some old school metal for them man… for whom the bell tolls!
  • Hope you didn’t try too hard (to bite your tongue, that is).

And there’s heaps more. I’m giving no clues about the origins of the Facebook comments, because these are musos who need the money.  Even though they are part of NZ’s wonderful musical talent pool, beggars can’t be choosers and if they kick up a fuss, they might be next on the hit list for John Key’s removal of rights for performers.

But it seems like National Party shindigs are not popular gigs in the NZ Music scene.

Musicians need to eat and while they might play the tunes, they are definitely not in tune with John Key and his mob.

Attitude Awards 2010

Posted by on December 2nd, 2010

Last night, Lynne Pillay, Vui Mark Gosche and I attended the annual Attitude Awards. This is the brain-child of Robyn Scott-Vincent, an extraordinarily talented and passionate woman, who also started the Attitude programme on TVNZ. The wonderful Curtis Palmer (featured in the haka this evening) was right there sharing the vision and the passion – and the work.

From the Karanga of Natalie Te Paa to the Wheel Blacks haka, through the beautiful Cook Island dance and music of Enuamanu, and the supurb music of Ease – and the music by Tae Kami, through to the finale of Holly Smith playing and singing Mamma, the night was a black-tie spectacle of exposure of talent.

Our MC Simon Dallow, with his co-presenter Jaden Movold – a 6 year old eyeing up Simon’s job!! – along with Chance, a Mobility Dog – were stunning.

But the stars of the evening were the finalists and the winners.

For us, the audience, their life stories were compacted into the 60 second film clip. Those clips opened the door to a life of challenge and courage, of ambition and achievement, of spirit and conquering – to the extent that we were all filled with absolute admiration and pride in the ability of our fellow New Zealanders.

So – wow – and congratulations to the finalists and the winners –

In the Attitude Courage in Sport Award – winner Jayne Parsons and finalists Jessica Hanilton and Shakti Krishnan

In the Attitude Youth Award – winner Alex Sneddenand finalists Duncan Armstrong and Lynn Chen

In the Attitude Artistic Achievement Award – winner Celeste Strewe and finalists Andrew Blythe and Susan King

In the Spirit of Attitude Award – winner Melanie Sloan and finalists Elixabeth Charleston and Pati Umaga,

In the Attitude Employer Award, winner Melrose Kiwi Concept Chairs and finalists Bunnings Warehouse, Shirley and Halberg Trust

In the Attitude Sport Performer, winner Adam Hall and finalists Michael Johnson and Carl Murphy

And the Supreme Award winner Melanie Sloan.

Don McKenzie became the 2010 inductee into the Attitude Hall of Fame.

An amazing night which celebrated people’s ability – extraordinary ability.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to be there. I have been to every Attitude Awards night since their inception. They have all been amazing. Tonight was the first night that there has not been a single Government Member of Parliament present. The Governor General and Lady Susan were there but no Minister or back-bench National Party member. That was a shame.

They missed a brilliant night and should have been there to celebrate such great contributors to our country.

In case you haven’t been to Nelson recently

Posted by on December 1st, 2010

Like Trevor, I love being in the electorate (yes, List MPs do take constituency responsibilities seriously) in recess. Monday and Tuesday were great days with the following as examples –

  • Victory Village celebration of Families Commission report showing what a success they are
  • Speak Out Nelson Tasman launch – new system encouraging people to speak out about racist treatment they receive at the hands of the benighted
  • Meeting with Te Korowai Trust about Whanau Ora delivery – great work for those in greatest need
  • Gifting of a wonderful Goldie portrait of a local iwi ancestor to the Nelson Museum
  • Meeting with the Nelson Environment Centre – the most enduring one in the country, now 30 years old
  • An Early Learning Centre – scared they won’t get CPI adjustments next year from this wretched government which sees the cost of everything and the value of nothing
  • Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce Women’s network meeting – we make more noise than the blokes!

It’s all on in Nelson!

And just in case you haven’t been to Nelson recently and have the impression it is a quiet, sunny retirement village at the top of the South Island, have a look at this pic taken by the wonderful Martin de Ruyter of the Nelson Mail at the celebration of Victory Village’s success as noted by a recently released Families Commission research paper. This is the face of Nelson now and in the future:


Double thumbs up from kids (and the odd teacher) at Victory School, Nelson - photo kindly supplied by ace photographer Martin de Ruyter of the Nelson Mail

Double thumbs up from kids (and the odd teacher) at Victory School, Nelson - photo kindly supplied by ace photographer Martin de Ruyter of the Nelson Mail

Isn’t it great! Love that change……..

Filed under: education, events

Deadly @ Downstage – See It

Posted by on October 6th, 2010

Never seen anything like it. Part circus. Part acrobatic. Part drama. Part dance. Short. Very physical. Raw South American style.

Two talented performers with pretty simple plot – relationship builds – incident involving deceit – relationship falls apart in style.

Lots of emotion.

But most notable is the physical strength of both.

I have trouble doing three sets of six chin ups but these two walk up vertical bars like they are level and hold each others weight while hanging on with one arm or a leg showing incredible grace and no apparent effort.

The whole performance is wonderfully sensuous.

And the bodies. They are both very special. He’s got a six pack to die for and while she’s neither a classic modelling waif nor an overmuscled bodybuilder her definition is brilliant. Real sexy. Especially as she moved – which was most of the time.

Laughed a couple of times as they were on opposite sides of the stage and the woman I saw it with and I were looking across each other.

See it – book early because as the word gets around it will sell out.

Filed under: events

Taste of Japan in New Zealand

Posted by on September 26th, 2010
Opening the Taste of Japan 2010 festival in Auckland, we had the opportunity to firstly taste the pure and fresh Japanese sake (??). Photo credit: Paul Stevenson

Opening the Taste of Japan 2010 festival in Auckland, we had the opportunity to firstly taste the pure and fresh Japanese sake (??). Photo credit: Paul Stevenson

Congratulations to the New Zealand Japan Society of Auckland on its 50th anniversary!

Thousands of Aucklanders enjoyed the Logan Campbell Centre event on Saturday, where the organisers “walk you through a unique time” from Oshougatsu (New Year) through to Oomisoka (End of Year).

I conveyed Labour Leader Phil Goff’s regards in my speech by starting with “Go sh?tai itadaki arigat? gozaimasu!”

My efforts to try to deliver a short speech in Japanese seemed to have met the approval of both the Consul General Ishida and the Society’s President Stephen Duxfield.

Special features of the one-day event included visiting musicians, dancers and calligraphy artists from our sister city in Japan, Haiku (poetry) competition, Japanese art exhibition and Tatami workshop to make our own miniature tatami mat.

The Society was established in March 1960 in Auckland by the former Ambassador of Japan S. Ishiguro and A.G. Hardy Hon. Consul of Japan. Mr Hardy was known as Captain Hardy a member of the Northern Steamship Co, which was an agent of Nitto Line (later Nippon Line). Mr Hardy was Hon. Consul for Japan for a long time until the appointment of the first Consul of Japan, Mr Isaburo Mukumoto in 1968. The first President of the society was Mr Owen Rainger (see

As Mr Duxfield said that “the society stood the test of time and gained credibility as we adhere to our core aims to serve the broader community.”


Shortest day all over?

Posted by on June 23rd, 2010

A lower than usual flow of energy today made me think, aha, it must be the shortest day.  But apart from hoping to farewell the hardy lads at Shirley Boys High in my electorate who are doing a belated mid-winter swim at Brighton this coming Friday,  I haven’t seen much mention this year of the winter solstice.

A quick Google shows it is usually falls June 20 or 21. The Southland Times reported that some from the province of shieldholders and shellfish braved the chilly waters down there last Sunday – which perhaps was the actual shortest day.

Little matter, except usually media seem swamped with such stories. Have I missed it? Or has Matariki taken over in importance? (Though have not seen too much mention about that this year. ) Or perhaps I am not putting enough energy into being observant…A mid-winter swim does jolt one. I did one once at Breaker Bay, followed by a spa bath to recuperate (though truth tell, water temps don’t vary that much on Wellington’s south coast.)

The good news is, that from here on, the days get lighter and brighter. Of course, we do still have to get through our traditionally coldest month (s) of July and often August…

Filed under: events

Holidays (Football World Cup) Amendment Bill

Posted by on June 23rd, 2010

After a bit of discussion overnight here is the (3rd) draft of the Holidays (Football World Cup) Amendment Bill. I’ve circulated it a bit but won’t attempt to introduce for about 24 hours so happy to get feedback.

Rugby World Cup – warm, local and friendly

Posted by on June 22nd, 2010

There was a Welsh TV crew down at my local Eden Rugby Club on Saturday where the seniors were playing. They were putting together a short film for Welsh rugby supporters coming for the World Cup to consider going to the local rugby clubs and other venues for a beer and to meet Kiwi rugby enthusiasts.

The club chairman was very open to the idea – not only would the club welcome the guests, but bar sales wouldn’t go amiss either.

The TV crew told me that most Welsh would rather be mixing with a bunch of Kiwi rugby fans – or just ordinary Kiwis – than hanging out at a big venue with other tourists. If I was in the Welsh position I’d want to do the same.

Which got me thinking that local, warm and friendly was better than cold, draughty and impersonal – which is what Party Central is shaping up to be.

Not only that, but the other areas in my electorate – Kingsland, for example, and other clubs and venues around Auckland, of which there are plenty – could really benefit if they were promoted. Most could easily ramp up to provide Kiwi hospitality that overseas fans would really remember.

And, the small amount of money needed to be invested in these places wouldn’t be wasted but would go on benefitting those communities. From what I can gather, only a small amount of that is happening.

We seem to be overlooking the obvious and it took a Welsh TV crew to point it out.

Radio rallies in two cities

Posted by on February 25th, 2010

Great turn-out today at the rallies in support of Radio NZ at Parliament and also in Christchurch.


Labour and Green MPs turned out to support the 200+ people who arrived with just a day or two’s notice to express opposition to Government efforts to freeze-cut  Radio NZ’s services.

Meanwhile I was addressing a smaller gathering outside Radio New Zealand House in my Christchurch electorate, saying  the Government should look across its broadcasting spend at what efficiencies that might be applied to support Radio New Zealand.

All up, the state has a net flow of than half a billion dollars into and out of broadcasting. Finding $1 million across that array of funding and revenue would be easier than finding similar savings from Radio NZ’s under-pressure $38m budget. And the difference that sort of money would make to Radio NZ would be considerable.

Today we also launched a website – Hands off Our Dial – – to provide an ongoing site for people to register their support for Radio NZ. It includes an e-petition to provide more signals to the Government that Radio NZ is a much-loved institution and cuts to services are not acceptable.


Rally for Radio NZ at Parly

Posted by on February 24th, 2010

A rally is confirmed for tomorrow, Thursday, in Parliament Grounds in support of Radio NZ at 1pm.

It is being organised by Jake Quinn, who also put together the excellent Facebook Save Radio NZ webpage which has generated a huge 14,205 fans in six days – a good measure of public mood.

Jake invited Annette King and I to speak but neither of us can be there. (An electorate commitment in my case, partly  involving broadcasting students.)

Other Labour MPs will be there and will speak. Show your support for our last public broadcaster, take your transistor or at least dial in!

Check out the Facebook page for emerging details of other protests/rallies.

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Filed under: events

McCully – Rugby World Cup

Posted by on January 15th, 2010

McCully has had four issues to deal with as Rugby World Cup Minister :-

  1. Budget for leverage inc getting publicity during last year AB tour of Europe.
  2. Getting the volunteer programme sorted.
  3. Broadcasting issues.
  4. Auckland non ground facilities.

And he has cocked them all up. Pretty sad really. The guy is experienced. We’ve played rugby together and I think of him as a bit of a mate. But this is important and he just hasn’t applied his mind to it. Maybe too busy as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

And every time Key has had to clean up his mess.

W(h?)ither the commonwealth games?

Posted by on January 7th, 2010

Where are we going with the Commonwealth Games. Is it important anymore?

Brendon Burns has put out a statement today on the televising of the Commonwealth Games and the abandoning of the TV rights by TVNZ. Interesting issue and one which gets really complicated when one considers sports funding and the convergence of broadcast and broadband going forward. I’m not sure that I am as worried as Brendon. Does show the inability of TVNZ to compete with Sky which probably goes to the top heavy nature of the company. And yes I was the Minister for a year.

But it also raises another question and that is the lack of attractiveness of the Commonwealth Games for broadcasters and especially those who rely on advertising income. It seems that people aren’t that interested.

That fits with the picture from the last games where the Victorians were unhappy with the international and even interstate visitor numbers. Sure some events were full but the expected tourist rush just didn’t happen.

And why? Because the event is not what is once was. I’ve got a number of friends who have competed and medalled in the past. But these days many athletes don’t take it as seriously as, for example, that years world champs for their sport. Too often it an event that is just part of a training programme, rather than the one to peak for. Why – because it isn’t where the money is. Sponsors in many sports don’t rate it because such a large proportion of the worlds’ best don’t go.

Don’t get me wrong. It is a great spectacle. Good place to for athletes from a range of sports to meet and bond. Good for potential Olympic winners to get experience of village type living. Good place for the former colonies to mix with the home countries. The Queen and her grandsons visit if you are into that.

But as we head into a bid for 2018 we need to keep our feet on the ground as to tourism and economic development benefits. If we do it, we do it for sport, and not much else.

Not just another year

Posted by on December 28th, 2009

One thing that has surprised me about the usual end of year wrap-up stories that we’re getting is the lack of acknowledgement that this isn’t just the end of the year, it’s also the end of the decade. The end of the first decade of the new millennium even. Thinking back to all of the frenzied excitement the turn of the millennium produced, I’m surprised the end of the decade is passing without anyone seeming to notice.

A few weeks ago Newsroom published their Top 10 news stories of the decade. I was going to blog on it at the time but never quite got around to it, so I saved it for the no-news-period between Christmas and New Year. Their Top 10 stories were:

  1. 2000 – New Zealand successfully defends the America’s Cup
  2. 2001 – Fonterra Co-operative is formed
  3. 2002 – Labour’s Helen Clark defeats National’s Bill English in a landslide
  4. 2003 – Peter Jackson wins 11 Oscars for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  5. 2003 – NZ bans smoking in bars.
  6. 2005 – NZ selected as the host for 2011 Rugby World Cup
  7. 2004 – Don Brash delivers the now infamous Orewa Speech on Race
  8. 2008 – Sir Edmund Hillary dies at the age of 88
  9. 2008 – NZ passes an emissions trading scheme
  10. 2008 – Winston Peters is defeated

They also published a list of their Top 10 international stories:

  1. 2000 – Bush v. Gore case decides the U.S. Presidential Election
  2. 2001 – 9/11 Attacks
  3. 2002 – Euro currency debuts
  4. 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia Explodes
  5. 2003 – War in Iraq
  6. 2005 – London Bombings
  7. 2008 – Financial Meltdown/ Economic Crisis
  8. 2008 – First African American president – Barack Obama
  9. 2009 – Michael Jackson’s death
  10. 2009 – Outbreak of Swine Flu

Funny to think that we started the world started the decade led by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair (who was hugely popular at that stage), terrorism was something that happened in Northern Ireland, and travel around Europe required a calculator or a high level of numeracy for all of the currency conversions that were required. It’s been quite a decade…

For our body and mind: Let’s fight against those polluters!

Posted by on December 17th, 2009
From left: Dovel, Bobby, me and Sir Paul Reeves

From left: Dover, Bobby, me and Sir Paul Reeves

One of the world’s most visionary environmental advocates is in New Zealand and “walks his talk”.

Robert F. Kennedy Jnr (“Bobby”), named one of Time magazine’s “heroes for the planet”, addressed a packed hall in Auckland Thursday night. He spoke candidly about his resolute defence of the environment and other issues facing the modern America and the world.

The US is world’s leading source of democracy. The main function of the media is to preserve the democracy by keeping the public informed about the issues that affect that democracy. However, the majority of the media there are controlled by only a small number of people, who decide what the news is and how the public are fed.

His concerns certainly echoed ours.

We are facing two types of pollution, I think – environmental one which our seriously jesting ETS cannot address and, the spiritual one – we haven’t got any legislation to address that, have we?

As to the increasingly biased mad media (not the quality mass media which I love and respect), what can we do? Do we want to bend over and take more or is there anything we can learn from the American lesson?

Erebus – 30 years on

Posted by on November 28th, 2009

Today I attended Air New Zealand’s Christchurch Memorial Service commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Mt Erebus air accident and the first anniversary of the air accident off the coast of Perpignan, France.  It was a very moving experience. 

I was having a drink in the small bar at the White Heron Lodge (over the road from Christchurch Airport) on the 28th November 1979 when one of the airport staff came in to say that the Antarctica flight had not returned.   I can’t recall exactly when it was confirmed that the plane had gone missing, but it was a very sombre night. 

I was a law student at the time and I well remember the inquiry that followed .  I bought a copy of the Mahon report as soon as it was published and read it cover to cover.  Although the media focussed on the language – the “pre-determined plan of deception” and “the orchestrated litany of lies”, I remember the list of about 10 things he listed, the absence of any one of which may well have meant the accident would not have happened.  Some of these were influenced by human action or inaction – others, like the white-out conditions, were not.   It reinforced for me how important it is in the wake of a tragedy to get to the bottom of what has happened, to acknowledge any mistakes, to say sorry where apologies are due, to take responsibility for those mistakes and to learn from them so that the risk of a tragedy occurring again is diminished.  Preventable deaths cause pain beyond the loss, because there is always the “if only…” that can act to disrupt the path to acceptance in the grieving process.  I am convinced that if those in any way responsible for what has occurred own up to mistakes and commit to rectifying them, it helps bring closure to those affected. 

Today’s memorial service was timely for the families of the men who lost their lives off the coast of Perpignan, but 29 years overdue for the families who lost loved ones on Mt Erebus.  But in saying that, it is never too late to say sorry and I felt that Air New Zealand’s apology was genuine and heartfelt and that they had learned the lessons so tragically evidenced that fateful day 30 years ago.

Filed under: events, history

Support Grant on Back Benches this week

Posted by on November 2nd, 2009

Watch Wallace Chapman and the Back Benches Panel while they tackle the week’s hottest topics: CIVIL LIBERTIES – New powers to fight crime have some screaming, ‘our rights, our rights-they’re being trampled!’ But does all this fuss have merit? Are our civil liberties being crushed or is this just the cost of crime? And THE BENEFITS OF THE BENEFIT are being evaluated by the Government. Some mummies are going to be chucked back into the workforce-is this a bad thing? How do we stop lifelong benefit receivers? Or are these heartless moves targeted at the people who need help the most?

Live pub politics from the Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 4th of November. The panel: United Future Leader Peter Dunne, Labour MP Grant Robertson, and National MP Paul Quinn.

Come to the Backbenchers Pub across the street from Parliament from 7:30pm to be part of the discussion or tune into TVNZ 7 at 9:10pm to watch the programme. TVNZ 7 is now available on Freeview (ch. 7) or on the SKY Platform (ch. 97). Or you can watch online at TVNZ.CO.NZ/BACK-BENCHES

Filed under: events

Love this – how about it Mr Joyce?

Posted by on October 26th, 2009

bridge1_300x200104821In Auckland, we struggled (and failed) with the curmudgeonly NZTA to get them to close the bridge for just one day to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Harbour Bridge.

In the end, there was a pretty mean celebration at some conference or other, while Get Across cyclists broke the barriers and cycled across anyway.

But yesterday, Sydney’s Harbour Bridge was transformed into a grassy picnic ground and attended by 6000 picnickers chosen in a ballot to enjoy food, music and the fabulous view.  They even had cows grazing on the fake grass to add to the rustic atmosphere.

That’s smart tourism thinking – using an iconic structure as an attraction for something other than traffic.

So how about a break from all that tarmac Mr Joyce?

Back benches this week

Posted by on October 19th, 2009

Wallace Chapman and the Back Benches Panel will tackle the week’s topics:

TAXES-nothing is certain in this world except death and taxes. But what is a fair rate? Should it be flat? AND ACC-get your motor running-at least until you start getting charged out the ying-yang for driving a motorbike? Are riders being unfairly targeted? Join them for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 21st of October. Our Panel: Green MP Catherine Delahunty, Labour MP Maryan Street, and National MP Chris Auchinvole.

Filmed live so come to the Backbenchers Pub across the street from Parliament from 7:30pm to be part of the discussion or tune into TVNZ 7 at 9:10pm to watch the programme. TVNZ 7 is now available on Freeview (ch. 7) or on the SKY Platform (ch. 97). Or you can watch online at TVNZ.CO.NZ/BACK-BENCHES

Filed under: events

Sharples wins world cup for double standards

Posted by on October 2nd, 2009

Audrey Young has identified yet another example of John Key’s double standards for decision making processes.

As Rugby World Cup spokesperson I know that the IRB will be delighted that Pita Sharples has bid the price of free to air cover for the last sixteen matches up by the $3m subsidy he has given to Maori TV  from TPK funding – apparently with no Cabinet process whatsoever.

And how many people will miss out seeing it free to air because it isn’t on a mainstream channel?

 Is this a priority for spending of TPK money – I would have thought it could have been better spent on job creation, apprenticeships etc, and ask what was the process he followed.

And if there is a spare $3m in government coffers for subsidising the Rugby World Cup whether it would have been better spent on developing the languishing volunteer programme, or getting the rugby ball promotion to another six world capitals or developing a decent business legacy programme – all of  which were live possibilities two years ago.

What does this mean for broadcasting policy. If I was TVNZ or TV3 I would be really grumpy. This was meant to be an even playing field. I changed the charter funding arrangements for TVNZ following their Olympic rort. And now Sharples as a Minister gives MTS massive support.

It appears that once again Key is failing to hold his Ministers to account and implement fair, open processes. Stupid decisions result.

Update Now told by normally reliable source that full value of the TPK subsidy closer to $6m. How much spare cash do they have?

Big yachts in Auckland

Posted by on September 16th, 2009

The previous government’s decision to fund the Americas Cup challenge was a bit controversial. Even my old mate McCully criticised it. Notwithstanding the fact that it was revenue +ve for the government. Because most of the funding comes from off shore and results in both PAYE and GST here.

And the challenge hasn’t been that smooth. Too many lawyers. But in the interim – and without any extra government funding the team has been doing well and we are going to get another of the alternative cup events down here early next year. Good little economic boost as well as some fun.

This is what Team NZ say:

Auckland will host a second Louis Vuitton regatta in March 2010.

Following the success of the LVPS regatta sailed in Auckland last February, Emirates Team New Zealand and other teams have been working with major sponsor Louis Vuitton to establish a top level series of regattas.

The first regatta of the Louis Vuitton World Series will be held at Nice, France, from November 7 – 22 this year. In March 2010 Auckland will host the second round and the third will he held at La Maddalena, Italy, in May.