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‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúproductivity paradox‚ÄĚ that costs more than 40 cents in every dollar of output.

Here is one problem:

The increasing importance of global value chains ‚Äď where production activities are spread across countries ‚Äď may have worsened the impact of New Zealand‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúgravity equation‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ also known as¬†distance¬†‚ÄĒ makes it harder for New Zealand to trade with the rest of the world.

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.

“‚ÄėPoof’ 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 »


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 ‚ÄĒ 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 »

Colin Espiner on Easter Trading

Colin highlights the ridiculously outdated reasons for these laws

Fancy nipping down to the pub this afternoon or a quick trip to the mall? Sorry, but because of a Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you can’t.

You can get your hair cut today, Easter Sunday, assuming you can find a hairdresser outside of a mall who’s prepared to open. But woe betide them if they try to sell you hair product – that’s contraband today.

If you’re desperate for a pint, you could always sign up to a chartered club, because that’s less offensive to Christianity. Or check into a hotel. Or head to a gastro pub or a restaurant that serves alcohol, as long as you purchase a meal as well.

Jesus loves those with a full stomach.

There’s always the garden, assuming it’s not raining today. Your local garden centre is allowed to sell you a potted plant today (Jesus has risen) but not on Good Friday (Crucifixion day).

Things are looking slightly better if you live in a designated tourist town, like Wanaka or Taupo, or for some bizarre reason, Auckland’s Parnell Rd. Picton’s a possibility for a spot of shopping today – but only if a cruise ship is in town.

If you like a pie-like food object, you can always get one from a service station too (remember to blow on it)

Read more »

Colin Craig can’t win, so why is anyone bothering?

Matthew Theunissen reports

Labour deputy leader David Parker said: “…the only way Colin Craig will get elected is if the National Party manipulates MMP and throws him the seat.”

And National will only make a deal with the bad, not the mad. ¬† That hasn’t stopped Craig’s dad from trying his hardest to keep himself ¬†and his neighbours in, what he hopes will be, his son’s electorate.

Colin’s father Ross mounted a successful challenge to the draft boundaries, shifting about 50 neighbouring lifestyle blocks from Rodney electorate into East Coast Bays.

In his objection to the Representation Commission’s original proposed boundaries, Ross Craig said Haigh Access Rd and the adjacent stretch of East Coast Rd had links with the Bays. “This area is within the East Coast Bays area for local body elections,” he said.

Ross Craig sent out flyers and got 72 other signatures on his petition – and this week, the commission agreed to the boundary change, almost certainly giving his son more votes if he confirms his intent to run in East Coast Bays.

The really amusing thing is that his son still doesn’t know what electorate he will stand in, so all that effort may have been for nothing anyway. Read more »

The Owen Glenn character assassination continues

As I highlighted last week (Hit jobs not just political), the knives are out to make Owen Glen look like the bad guy. ¬†Eric Watson doesn’t have any hard stuff, so now we’re reduced to this kind of smear

The heavyweight off-field battle between the Warriors’ co-owners has taken another turn, with revelations Sir Owen Glenn threatened to pull his team from the second day of the NRL Auckland Nines tournament in February over a parking dispute.

It is understood the incident unfolded late on the first day when Glenn attempted to exit a car park at Eden Park but was told he couldn’t because of a traffic management plan in place around the stadium at that time.

In the “heat of the moment”, he made a threat to pull the Warriors team out of the tournament, forcing officials from the club to later apologise to the NRL.

Glenn confirmed he had an issue leaving the central Auckland stadium, but said he needed to get away quickly due to medical reasons.

“When I tried to leave Eden Park on the first day, the gatekeeper said no-one was allowed out for an hour. I told him I needed to take medicine for my diabetes but he said he could not allow me to leave the ground,” he said in a statement last night.

Imagine being locked into a facility? ¬†Why wouldn’t anyone be allowed to leave at will? ¬†Especially for medical reasons. ¬† Read more »

Former colleagues on Brash: NZ dodged a bullet

Deborah Coddington attempts to destroy what is left of the political zombie corpse that is Don Brash

New Zealand dodged a bullet in terms of its prime minister when National lost the election under Don Brash.

When Kim Hill interviewed him last Saturday about his self-published autobiography, Luck, he said that in 1840 Maori were “a stone-age people” and “all cultures are not of equal value”.

But he frequently disdains tangata whenua culture as “animism”.

Now I’ve formed the opinion, from his statements and writings, that behind that mask of politeness which prompted one reviewer to call him a “likeable duffer”, he’s also supremely chauvinistic. Brash’s dismissal of women is breathtakingly arrogant.

I don’t just refer to his philandering ‚Äď many people have affairs but grown-ups take responsibility. Brash blames his infidelity on “the male biological urge”. Not his fault then.

There’s also a certain decorum one should adopt when it comes to former lovers: Don’t talk about it in public. In short, shut up. Brash didn’t have to publish what he calls “the salacious bits”.

That he did is appalling bad manners, and I suspect he enjoys a kind of “Aren’t I naughty?” frisson from telling us about his sex life. Little wonder, as he himself says, he has few friends.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Brash is somewhere along the autism spectrum. ¬†His talents with numbers are undeniable. ¬†The destruction of people he has left in his wake on the other hand is an¬†omnishambles. ¬† Read more »