New Zealand Parliament

Now this is irony

Excuse me while I just stop my side splitting at this headline and vow from Labour.

Labour's mirth inducing promise

Labour should be mocked mercilessly for such a taudry attempt at politicking. The country wouldn’t be in the position it is in if they hadn’t rammed through the original Foreshore and Seabed law. Now, petulantly they are attempting to re-write history and claim that they care.

Personally I think National have botched the law, they should have just repealed Labour’s theft of property rights and put things back where they were before Labour?panicked.

I well remember a debate in Gisborne, that Farrar and I attended on the Blogmobile tour, between Parekura Horomia and Derek Fox. Derek Fox stated that all that Maori wanted was the right to go to court. That was exactly what labour took away from Maori. It should be re-instated and left at that.

Tariana Turia succintly explains that which Labour and Phil Goff fail to understand.

“I would say they’ve (Labour) been watching all the representations that have come to the committee, they think that every Maori in the country is against it, but what they don’t realise is there’s not one Maori in the country that’s forgotten what they did.”

Labour by vowing to repeal the repeal just look stupid. I wonder when Phil Goff will start listening to The Whale and start simply asking voters “Are things are any better under National?”. Until he does he is going to keep looking stupid.

An interesting perspective from Chris Clarke

Chris Clarke the CEO of the HBDHB has been a busy little boy since arriving back from “sick leave”. This is his first missive to staff and I have been forwarded a copy. It has a very interesting perspective on the shenanigans going on at the HBDHB. it is interesting that Mr Clarke seems to know a fair bit about what is going to be the report due to be released. Anyway let his words speak for themselves. here is the email newsletter in total without any edits. As you read this remember that Chris Clarke used to work in Helen Clark’s office.

Greetings, Kia Ora, Talofa Lava, Kia Orana, Malo e Lelei, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Selamat Pagi, Mabuhay, Guten Tag , Goeie Dag, Dobar Dan, Namaste


It is great to be back and having spent last Thursday with our new Commissioner Sir John Anderson, and his Deputy Brian Roche, I am confident our organisation’s governance is in very good hands and that we will benefit considerably from the experience, wisdom and humanity that they both bring to their roles.

The day started with a very moving powhiri and Sir John spoke of his roots here in Hawke’s Bay. He said his role as Commissioner was not to “slash and burn” but to work with management to build the nation’s best practice DHB. Throughout the day he repeatedly described best practice as a focus on the health of our community, high quality and safe services, empowered staff and a community that has pride in its health services.

Sir John believes that if we are up to the challenge, we need no more than two years to achieve that goal. Brian and he are offering their full support to management to realise that ambition. At the final session of the day they both commented that having spent a day in the DHB – they are confident the DHB does not need to be “fixed”but rather it needs to be “unleashed” to be allowed to move forward. They want us to reaffirm our values especially to work together across organisation and professional boundaries. They also want to see a more agile organisation – faster decision making, less paper, fewer meetings and more action.

They commented that our financial situation is a real concern but from their experience of helping turn around many other organisations, the only way to approach it is to first understand what is driving our finances rather than leaping to quick-fix solutions that often end up compounding the situation. They commented that if we are serious about best practice we have to build a culture of accountability and not blame, we need to focus, we need to be open to new ideas and always committed to doing the right thing no matter what.

Repeatedly Sir John spoke about the importance of leadership, and in particular empowering health professional leadership. He quoted Dr Ian Brown (newly appointed Clinical Monitor at Capital and Coast) who has commented that you get real change when you give the resources and the accountability to health professionals.

Both Sir John and Brian made it very clear that they are not interested in looking back, that the current media furore is a distraction and that all our efforts should be directed towards moving forward.

Folks – change is in the air, the bar has been raised and it’s up to us to rise to the challenge.


One of my early childhood memories is of a Sunday School Teacher who used to encourage us to show concern for others, “for you never know when you will entertain an angel”.

Well in this case it was Commissioners, rather than angels, but the point is the same. On walking into my office Sir John’s opening comment was “Chris you have an organisation to be proud of”. He told me how they had turned up at the front desk of the Hospital asking to see the CEO. He explained that a lovely woman who had no idea who they were, told them to come with her and she walked them across the campus to my office chatting all the way about how she was proud to work for the DHB and what a great place it was.

Thank you ?.. Jacqui Eathorne you did us all proud. Well done and a bouquet of flowers is coming your way from all of us!


Much of the media outcry over the sacking of the Board has focused on the supposed death of democracy. An early priority for the Commissioner is to appoint two additional Assistant Commissioners from Hawke’s Bay. He is also considering what the best Committee structures to support the Commissioners are. He has tasked me with rebuilding community confidence in the DHB and strengthening our consultation processes.


Reading Hawke’s Bay Tabloid and listening to Parliament you would be forgiven for thinking the CEO really got into some dodgy stuff a couple of years ago and then to cover his tracks colluded to roll the Board. Along the way he picked up a free world trip as an inducement to sign a contract and plays fast and hard with the DHB’s money.

To date I have resisted the urge to respond to these increasingly salacious accusations, largely because the Review Report is imminent (publicly released on 17 March) and because I know that by responding it merely prolongs the media attention and we descend into an even more unedifying squabble.

Nonetheless, leadership stands or falls on the integrity and competence of our leaders. If we lose trust in the integrity of our leaders they lose their moral mandate to lead on our behalf.

Therefore, following the release of the Independent Review Report on 17 March I will be doing a series of staff briefings and will happily answer any questions you may have about my alleged involvement in any of these issues.

In the meantime, I have been fielding a lot of questions from staff and others concerned about some of the statements being made in the media this week. While I am not able to comment on a number of issues until after the full report into conflict of interests is released on 17 March, I can respond to some of the misinformation:

A $50 million contract?

There has been a great deal of talk about a $50 million contract, which is at the heart of a lot of the allegations and innuendo. There never was a contract. Instead we ran a RFP process to find one or more strategic partners to work with us to help develop our future planning for community services.

The $342,000 Legal Bill

Yes, the DHB is required to cover costs incurred while the Board were acting in their lawful capacity as Board Members. The $342,000 being discussed last week in the media is part of that cost and was authorised by the Board’s Audit Committee. Any costs incurred by former Board members since they were removed from their positions will not be authorised.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the DHB did enter into a contract with Wellcare (a subsidiary of Healthcare New Zealand (HCNZ)), to train community care givers. There has been a suggestion that the DHB colluded with Peter Hausmann to award him the contract. The facts are that the MSD chose Wellcare from a number of different providers and the DHB took no part in that decision other than introducing the MSD to Wellcare.

My supposed world trip
Apparently as an inducement to sign a contract with Peter Hausmann, I was offered a free around the world trip – aka “Study Tour”. Again the facts are somewhat less exciting. HCNZ did propose that a team of CEOs and clinicians go on an overseas trip to see developments in community services as it was acknowledged that NZ is well behind other countries in developing home based services. HCNZ’s proposal was for a ‘pay your own trip’, …. and it certainly never happened.

Are there Lessons for Management?
Absolutely, there are lessons for management and I would have been very surprised if there were none, particularly as the areas under review involved working in new ways with other government agencies and with the private sector. I wrote a paper last year on what I thought those lessons were. Here is an extract from that paper.

3.0 The Lessons – so we get it better next time

I see 9 lessons for management:

1. Ethics, Contracting, Probity and Procurement Policies
2. Contracting for Innovations
3. Board Reporting
4. Managing the Governance Boundary
5. Conflict Resolution and Stakeholder Engagement
6. Assisting Board members to identify and manage their conflicts of Interest
7. Integration of Legal Advice
8. Board Policies and Procedures
9. Sharing the Learnings

Other Questions

As always I am happy to answer any of your questions. Until the final report is released I do need to respect the process and avoid pre-empting or compromising the review team’s work. I would, however, find it helpful if you have any questions you want answered to flick me an email. I will start collating them and once the report is released will be happy to answer them through the CEO News and at the Staff Briefings.


The question I am getting asked the most is “what do we say to people who ask us what is going on at the DHB?” My suggestion is that you say we are all looking forward to the release of the Independent Review report on 17 March 2008, that until then we are just getting on with doing what we always do – caring for our community and patients, working together, making a difference in the lives of others and nurturing a passion for learning.

These are our four organisational values and our best retort to any challenges thrown our way.

Thank you all for a great week back. It’s great to be your CEO again.

Kind regards


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Cult leader continues delusions

Beset PM sticks to her guns – 26 Feb 2008 – Politics: New Zealand Political News, Analysis and Comment including 2008 election coverage – NZ Herald

The Cult of Personality that is the Labour Party is struggling right now. That is mainly because Labour has only ever relied on bribes and the force of personality of their leader. About 4 months into last year though her political nose deserted her and for nearly a year now Labour can count positive headlines on one hand.

Helen Clark is 58 today, and the only presents she is getting is a knife in the ribs from opinion polls and ones in the back from her own caucus.

The problem Clark has is that her words betray her;

“I’ve said I think those results are a bit extreme, but clearly the Government has got work to do,” she said. “I don’t propose to change the basic strategy, which is to get on with governing – it’s a long time ’til the election.”

The weak polls were due to “a bit of a hangover” from where Labour ended last year, she said.

When media questions during the Prime Minister’s regular Monday press conference focused on the polls, an unhappy Helen Clark abruptly said she had time for only a couple more questions on “other things” because she had kept the Governor of Bamyan Province in Afghanistan waiting for 45 minutes.

The polls are only extreme if you believe your own spin that the media are ganging up on you. Demonstrably Helen Clark has had the greatest free ride from a sycophantic media than any Prime Minister in living memory. It is only in recent times that they have chosen to not be dizzied by the constant spin emanating from the ninth floor.

In fact the spin is so bad that even Helen Clark is dizzy from it all. I’m glad that she isn’t going to change the basic strategy because it is working brilliantly…for National. Clark also believes her own spin that the election is a long way off. It is in her mind but then she has never had a deal with Winston before. We have and we know where it is heading and it isn’t all good for Labour and anyother party that tags along with them.