Why isn’t New Zealand richer and more productive?

It is a question worth asking and thinking about

Here is a new study from the New Zealand Productivity Commission, and here is the basic puzzle:

Based on its policy settings, the authors estimate that New Zealand’s GDP per capita should be 20% above the OECD average. But it is actually over 20% below average, making New Zealand a clear outlier. The size of the gap indicates an apparent “productivity paradox” that costs more than 40 cents in every dollar of output.

Here is one problem:

The increasing importance of global value chains – where production activities are spread across countries – may have worsened the impact of New Zealand’s geographic isolation on trade in goods.  Because global value chains typically require intensive interaction and just-in-time delivery, they tend to be regionally based. For New Zealand, international transportation costs for goods are about twice as high as in Europe. This reduces access to large markets and the scope for participation in global value chains , where the transfer of advanced technologies now often occurs.

More generally, the “gravity equation” — also known as distance — makes it harder for New Zealand to trade with the rest of the world.

Read more »

Kevin Rudd vs Helen Clark for the top UN job

How entertaining. Two massive megalomaniacs fighting each other out for the top global government role.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr believes the United Nations could do with a dose of Kevin Rudd’s “legendary forcefulness”.

There has been some speculation the former prime minister covets the UN secretary general gig.

The incumbent Ban Ki-moon finishes his second term in 2016.

While spruiking his memoir at a Sydney bookstore on Saturday, Mr Carr said Mr Rudd had his support.

“He would be a very strong, credible candidate,” Mr Carr said. “It would be the most natural thing in the world for him to stand.”

The race was wide open.

“I think the forcefulness Kevin showed sometimes in selling a case might be considered by some in the UN as an advantage,” Mr Carr said.

A lot of members of the UN general assembly liked Mr Rudd’s agenda and Australia’s international personality.

Hopefully they attack each others campaigns. That will be worth a big bucket of popcorn.   Read more »

Battered bugle and its missing notes

Odd how we end up placing so much significance on an object, but in this case this bugle carries a lot of mana

last-postWhen they blow the bugle at the Auckland Domain this Anzac Day it will sound strained and some of the notes flat.

But it will be all the more solemn for the old soldiers of the Auckland Regiment. That bugle saw combat at Gallipoli 99 years ago and it’s finally returned.

“It sounds like a bugle but some of the notes are a little bit hard to come, and they sound tortured,” regimental archivist Blake Herbert says – “like someone played a bum note.”

In 1915 the standard issue bugle was given to Sergeant Sydney Postlewaight of Ponsonby. In those days the bugle was not just for music.

“They would have been a prime source of communication. The bugle was something with key notes for attack, withdraw. It was a way of getting orders out.”

The Last Post on Anzac morning is chilling.  You can’t help but be affected.   Read more »

“you Nazis, quit that talk”

I don’t think Israel would be a good place for Kim Dotcom.  Not unless he loses more off his accent

An Israeli bus company has been forced to apologise after a Jewish man from Holland who survived three concentration camps and his wife were branded ‘Nazis’ by one of its drivers.

Martin Leeda, 72, and his wife Jeta, 69, were aboard the bus travelling from Ramat HaScharon to Tel Aviv sitting in a forward section reserved for elderly passengers.

As they began to speak to each other in Dutch, the bus driver suddenly yelled out: ‘You non-Jews, you Nazis, quit with that talk.’

He had mistaken their Dutch for German, said Mr Leeda.

Mr Leeda, who works in a Jewish historical museum in Amsterdam, travels regularly to Israel and said he and his wife were ‘deeply hurt’ by the insult.

He said: ‘I, as a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, should not have had to listen to this.’

The driver sent the couple a letter of apology and faces a disciplinary hearing, according to the Metropoline bus company.

Around 150,000 Jews were living in the Netherlands in 1941, according to a survey by the Nazi occupation force. Read more »

Faggot, queer, poof, gay, rainbow

Jess McAllen reports on some bar owners caving in to a bit of pressure.

Faggot, queer, poof: words which evoke emotions, negative memories and often result in personal reactions.

The process of reclaiming words can create power and a way out of the struggle from which they are born, but it is no easy task as Auckland gay bar Poof has found out.

The boutique bar is changing its name to Pop next week following complaints from the public.

Three months ago it opened on Ponsonby Rd to mixed opinion, with décor based on pop-comic books of the 1950s and 60s and designed to reflect the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Wayne Clark, the long-time owner of Family bar, created Poof as a cheeky wordplay in regards to the “Batman and Robin theme” of the bar.

“‘Poof’ to me is a word that means fun and vibrant and sums up pop art perfectly.”

Exactly.  Like Blam! and Kapow!   Why did he cave in to the pressure?   Read more »


Mental Health Break

Multiple fake text messages. How can this happen?

I can’t get my head around this

Text messages purporting to be sent from missing school children trapped aboard the sunken South Korean ferry are fake, police have revealed.

In the wake of the disaster on Wednesday, text messages apparently from high school children were sent to their parents on dry land.

But, having given their distressed parents hope for their missing offspring, the messages have now been revealed to be fakes.

The Korea Herald reported the messages cannot be legitimate after an analysis of phone records showed none of the students had used their phones since the ferry flipped over.

The ferry Sewol sank off South Korea’s southern coast on Wednesday morning.

One of the text messages, sent in the aftermath of the disaster as rescue efforts got underway, was sent by a student only identified as Shin, 18.

It said: ‘Dad, don’t worry. I’ve got a life vest on and we’re huddled together.’

Her father replied: ‘I know the rescue is underway but make your way out if you can.’

He received the response: ‘Dad, I can’t walk out… The corridor is full of kids and it’s too tilted,’ the New York Post reported.

So as I read it, these were multiple messages from multiple children.  That means someone needed access to their family’s phone numbers.  Receiving the text messages, the family believed them to be genuine – this appears to me that they were “from” the correct phone numbers.  The father replied and get another response.

What’s really going on?

Police said all messages claiming to have been sent from the Sewol after it went down appear to have been fabricated, reported the Herald.

Officers would not comment on the messages reported to have been sent in the morning as the ship was still sinking, many of which contained video and photos showing the boat going down.

Investigators at South Korea’s Cyber Terror Repsonse Center, part of the National Police Agency said they found none of the phones analysed had been used since noon on the day of the accident.

‘We’ve checked over 300 phones, since some people owned more than one phone,’ police said.

One sham message was sent from a phone owned by a fifth-grader in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province, the Herald reports.

Police said the hoax is distressing for the families of the missing, adding that those responsible face criminal charges.

Can you come up with a scenario that explains all this?  With the exception that the authorities are lying about none of the phones having been used since the capsize.

I mean, how realistic is that?   None.

What are they trying to cover up, and what is really going on here?

Map of the Day



The British Isles and the arrangements of names/countries/states within.

Drug cook gets New Zealand work permit

Travis will be delighted.


Celebrity cook Nigella Lawson has been given a waiver to work in New Zealand next month, required because she was barred from the United States after admitting cocaine use.

The British star is visiting New Zealand to make a new TV commercial for chocolate maker Whittaker’s — but she wouldn’t have been able to come without the Immigration NZ exemption.

In a statement to the Herald on Sunday, Immigration NZ said Lawson had been granted a work visa under “special direction” laws.

“As Ms Lawson has been excluded from another country, namely the United States, she was ineligible to be granted a visa to enter New Zealand unless given a special direction.

Amusing really.  If you’re declined entry to other countries, you are immediately declined to enter New Zealand unless rules are broken for you.  It makes you wonder how Kim Dotcom got in.   Read more »

Are you in the mood for a bit of irony?

So, there is this bus company.  Called Megabus.  And they put a face, on the backs of their buses.  Yet there is something on that bus that gives the man … oh, look for yourself.


Not photoshopped.

Sometimes life twists and turns in the most unexpected ways!   Read more »