Eight Sisters will be chuffed after landing a chunk of the lolly as Govt finds innovative and arty ways to dish out $32m

Buzz  from the Beehive

The applicants who applied for public funds under the name Eight Sisters have done nicely, thank you, from a trough called the Innovation Fund.  They will receive $659,520 to develop a project called Wharenui Harikoa, described as “a large scale crocheted Wharenui to transform intergenerational trauma into joy and global connection”.


And what will we get for our $659,520?

The information posted on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s website about the latest recipients of funding did not enlighten us because it has been written in a bewildering mix of English and te reo.

It says:

“This Kaupapa – Ko Wharenui Harikoa, he poro whaka hakoko, Ko Uenuku tawhana ki te Rangi. Whare Harikoa – is a refracting prism of Tūpuna-inspired light shining like a rainbow across the sky.” Continue reading “Eight Sisters will be chuffed after landing a chunk of the lolly as Govt finds innovative and arty ways to dish out $32m”

Media focus on Davis’ advice against looking through a “vanilla lens” while Chhour’s questions go unanswered

It is tempting to liken the political hacks of the mainstream news media to piranha, rather than ever-vigilant watchdogs of the Fourth Estate.

With the exception of the NZ Herald, they have lamentably ill-served the voting public by failing to muster a whimper, let alone a snarl or a warning bark, about issues raised by the awarding of contracts to family members of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

The hacks were aroused from their indifference to those contracts only when another watchdog – the Public Service Commission – announced it is looking into government departments’ management of the contracting process.   

On the other hand, the imagery of piranha seems apt when they engage in a feeding frenzy of the sort that followed the hapless Kelvin Davis’ derogatory – and racist – remarks about ACTs Karen Chhour.

Davis told Chhour (a Māori) she must look at things from a Māori perspective, not a Pakeha one.

“It’s no good looking at the world from a vanilla lens.” Continue reading “Media focus on Davis’ advice against looking through a “vanilla lens” while Chhour’s questions go unanswered”

Another record payout for Tatua’s 101 farmer-shareholders

It  is  only  a star on the  horizon for  the  bulk  of  dairy  farmers — but  this is  what  they  may  aspire  to.  How  about  a  payout of  $11.30kg/MS?

That’s what the 101 farmer-shareholders in  the Waikato  specialist-product-co-op  Tatua  will receive — a  record — for the 2021-22 year.  Tatua will still retain close to $20m  to reinvest in the business.

Tatua  has reported group earnings equivalent to $12.65kg before retentions for the year ended July 31. This was up on the previous year’s earnings of  $10.43kg and was achieved in spite of Covid-related disruption and shipping issues.

The company said group income was $444m ($395m the  previous year), with earnings available for payout of $186m. Retentions were equivalent to $1.35/kg.

The 108-year-old company traditionally leads milk payout in the NZ dairy industry.  Fonterra’s final cash payout for 2021-22 was $9.50kg/MS.

Tatua chairman Stephen Allen and CEO  Brendhan Greaney said that in deciding the payout, the company was very conscious of sharp increases in farmer costs, as well as the need for continued reinvestment in the business. Tatua had a number of significant capital projects and business improvement initiatives under way during the year.

Milk supply was impacted by a long dry spell in the autumn months, resulting in a 6% fall in collection to 14.7mkg/MS on the previous year.

The  company had  anticipated  a  good financial  year,  telling its  farmers that  demand and pricing for its dairy ingredients were favourable and it was well contracted.  It  said  it was  focussed on the development and commercialisation of  specialist product opportunities.

Govt (through the PGF) poured $3.79m into a wine research centre but it has torpodoed the businesses of livestock shippers

Buzz from the Beehive

While the PM was pumping up the prospects of wine producers – and, presumably, their potential for export growth – Trade Minister Damien O’Connor was scuttling shipments of livestock by sea.

Jacinda Ardern has officially opened the New Zealand Wine Centre in Blenheim, saying investments like these give us cause for optimism for the future.

Speaking as Minister of Agriculture, O’Connor was thinking of our future too when he said the passage of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill (which ends the export of livestock by sea)

“… future-proofs our economic security amid increasing consumer scrutiny across the board on production practices.” 

In other news from the Beehive, our hard-working Ministers tell us they have…

  • Fortified the Court Martial Appeal Court

Attorney-General David Parker announced the appointment of Colonel Craig Ruane, Commander Robyn Loversidge, and James Wilding KC as Judges of the Court Martial Appeal Court.

  • Better protected migrant workers from exploitation

Or rather, the Government intends to do that after introducing the Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Bill. The Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, says this is designed to protect migrant workers from exploitation.

The Bill will introduce changes resulting from the Government’s Temporary Migrant Worker Exploitation Review completed in 2020, including establishing an infringement regime. Continue reading “Govt (through the PGF) poured $3.79m into a wine research centre but it has torpodoed the businesses of livestock shippers”

Why keeping tabs on Tata suggests O’Connor should be quickening the pace in push for an FTA with India

Among the many issues related to the performance of the export sector and how the Government might further help it is the case for negotiating a  trade deal with India.

Australia has secured a free trade deal with  what  is  the  planet’s  fifth-biggest economy.

In contrast, Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor says concluding a free trade agreement between NZ and India “is not a realistic short-term prospect”.

Intensive negotiations were held between India and NZ in the context of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA negotiations, especially in 2018 and 2019, before India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations in November 2019.

“RCEP contains provisions enabling expedited accession by India should it wish to re-join RCEP at some point in the future, says O’Connor.  

In the meantime NZ and India continued to work together to strengthen their broader bilateral relationship, he says.

But why  should  NZ be  missing  out on getting something like Australia’s deal? Continue reading “Why keeping tabs on Tata suggests O’Connor should be quickening the pace in push for an FTA with India”

Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters, Taumata Arowai and the scantly diluted powers of Minister Mahuta’s sister 

New Zealand’s new water services regulator is Taumata Arowai.  Its website says this name was “gifted” to it (or bestowed on it?) by Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government.

Taumata Arowai  was formed with local government support but its role in the Three Waters reforms is more controversial.  Moreover, it has been politicised by the appointment of the Minister’s sister, Tipa Mahuta, as chair of the agency’s Māori advisory group and the powers she will wield. 

This article is the second in a series by Thomas Cranmer, the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation.  He writes: 


Three Waters and Taumata Arowai

My article on Monday considered the role and scope of Te Mana o te Wai statements within the Three Waters reforms.

In a tweet, the Mayor of Kaipara, Dr Smith commented that this mechanism is linked to Taumata Arowai – the new national water-drinking regulator – and indeed it is.

Dr Jason Smith, Kaipara Mayor @drjakesmith

I think it’s really deceptive for the definition of who can and can’t contribute to Te Mana o Te Wai Statements to be buried deep at section 140 of the proposed Bill. I told this to the Select Committee. It should be with all other TMOTW info. This links w Taumata Arowai also.

Thomas Cranmer @kehetauhauaga

My thoughts on Three Waters and the Te Mana o te Wai mechanism that lies deep in the Water Services Entities Bill.https://t.co/HfQmvhd686

September 25th 2022

5 Retweets26 Likes

There seems to be a common misconception that the role of Taumata Arowai is solely to regulate and improve drinking-water quality and provide oversight of wastewater and stormwater.

Of course, that is its primary role – during the Bill’s third reading in Parliament Minister Mahuta described it in the following manner:

“This bill will create a new regulatory body called Taumata Arowai to oversee, administer, and enforce a new and strengthened drinking-water regulatory system and to perform additional functions relating to improving the environmental performance of stormwater and waste-water networks.

“The name Taumata Arowai is intended to convey the importance and authority of this new regulator. In fact, the way in which a regulator acts to oversee the compliance with drinking-water standards, source protection, and the way waste water is returned to its receiving environment will be a significant aspect of their role …”

But notably the Minister ended her description of the regulator’s role with the following addition:

— also, the way in which te mana o te wai is factored into its operations.”

This dual purpose is reflected in the Act itself – specifically in section 10(d) of the Act which describes one purpose of Taumata Arowai as being to “give effect to Te Mana o te Wai” and in section 17 which sets out the role of the Maori Advisory Group (Te Puna) within Taumata Arowai.  That role includes

“… developing and maintaining a framework that provides advice and guidance for Taumata Arowai on how to interpret and give effect to Te Mana o te Wai and providing advice on how to enable mātauranga Māori, tikanga Māori, and kaitiakitanga to be exercised.”

In the Bill’s third reading, Minister Mahuta described this additional role as follows:

The bill also provides a number of provisions that individually and collectively recognise, respect, and provide for Māori interests as Treaty partners. These include, for example, requirements for Taumata Arowai to partner and engage early and meaningfully with Māori; inform how it can give effect to te mana o te wai; and understand, support, and enable the exercise of mātauranga Māori, tikanga Māori, and kaitiakitanga.

“The overall intent is to ensure that Māori interests and knowledge are embedded throughout Taumata Arowai. To this end, a Māori advisory group will provide support and guidance to the regulators board, chief executive, and wider organisation.

And it is in regard to this additional role that things start to become controversial for Taumata Arowai because the Minister was crystal clear when she committed to the new Crown entity having sufficient independence to protect the integrity of its decision-making:

As a new stand-alone Crown agent, Taumata Arowai will have a dedicated, sustained focus on drinking-water safety, with the mana to recruit highly skilled individuals; an appropriate degree of independence for dealing with highly technical matters, with a significant emphasis on compliance and enforcement; and sufficient independence to protect the integrity of its decision making.”

But despite these admirable intentions the Minister’s sister, Tipa Mahuta, was promptly appointed to the key role of Chair of Te Puna. So much for independence.

In her defense, Mahuta claims to have followed the requirements of the Cabinet Manual by temporarily transferring the ministerial appointment powers to her colleague, Kelvin Davis. Whilst that addresses the conflict arising from the appointment, it does not address the egregious on-going conflict that exists by virtue of the fact that both sisters now occupy these two key roles.

Paragraph 2.73 of the Cabinet Manual describes this scenario as a “substantial and enduring conflict” and suggests that

“… it may be necessary to consider a permanent change to some or all of the Minister’s portfolio responsibilities”.

However, rather than transferring the Local Government portfolio to another minister, officials relied on two mitigants: first, that Tipa would advise the board of Taumata Arowai and not the minister, and second, that any meetings that required Tipa to attend as Chair of Te Puna would also be attended by the Chair of Taumata Arowai.

This was clearly a woefully inadequate set of conditions. That became abundantly clear in an exchange of letters between Minister Mahuta, the Chair of Taumata Arowai, Dame Karen Poutasi, and the Chair of Te Puna, Tipa Mahuta, which effectively bulldozed those conditions that had allowed the appointment to occur.

In her Letter of Expectations to Poutasi, Minister Mahuta stated in no uncertain terms that she expected

“… the Board to ensure the advice of the Māori Advisory Group is being considered and implemented – both with regards to these specific areas of interest and expertise, and more generally across all areas of work”.

Poutasi and Tipa Mahuta then jointly issued a Memorandum of Understanding which described the Board and Te Puna as partners and committed to collaborate to “support Taumata Arowai to deliver on its vision, purpose, objectives, functions and duties”.

Reading the Letter of Expectations and MOU, it is hard not to conclude that Tipa Mahuta is de facto the Co-Chair of Taumata Arowai.

The power structure is completed by Tipa Mahuta who issued her own Terms of Reference. In describing her own role, Tipa stated that she will

“… on behalf of Te Puna, represent and act as the primary conduit for communication and engagement, including with the Minister, Iwi/Māori and other key stakeholders”.

In other words, Tipa will talk directly to her sister, the Minister, when she sees fit.

Thus we have a scenario where mana whenua can issue Te Mana o te Wai statements to the boards of the water service entities without any limit to their scope or frequency – and the supposedly independent watchdog is the Minister’s sister, Tipa Mahuta.

The implications for the agricultural sector and city water supply are wide-reaching.

The appointment of Tipa Mahuta to the role of Chair of Te Puna, and the on-going conflict that exists by virtue of the fact that both sisters now occupy these two key roles does not form part of the review currently being undertaken by the Public Service Commissioner. For any investigation to be comprehensive and conclusive, this appointment should also be examined.

Lucky Liz? Wait a few years to find out

Britain’s new PM, Liz Truss, might have caught a break last night.

The International Monetary Fund, after a longish period of complaisance in regard to fiscal stimulus, abruptly decided that the Truss economic plan was a good point to draw a line, in part because giving people their money back was seen as untargeted and might increase inequality.  

But in being so unusually prompt and decisive, it has missed a chance to wait and see which way the wind blows.

Continue reading “Lucky Liz? Wait a few years to find out”

More Russians on the sanctions list – that will punish Putin’s cronies, but what might he do next to express his displeasure?

Buzz from the Beehive

Wow.  The long weekend seems to have been a powerful pick-me-up for our politicians, who have pumped out a raft of statements over the past two days.

Most of their press releases were to alert us to decisions to improve our wellbeing, although we wonder if that’s the case when we retaliate against President Putin for his antics in Ukraine.  He is threatening to up the ante by unleashing some of his nuclear weapons, after all.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta nevertheless has announced the imposition of further sanctions on members of Putin’s inner circle and other representatives of the Russian political elite, as part of the Government’s ongoing response to the war in Ukraine.

Since the passing of the Russia Sanctions Act in March, New Zealand has imposed sanctions on over 1000 individuals and entities,

“… a key part of our efforts to hold Russia accountable and support Ukraine,” Nanaia Mahuta said. Continue reading “More Russians on the sanctions list – that will punish Putin’s cronies, but what might he do next to express his displeasure?”

Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters, Te Mana o te Wai and a control mechanism the Govt is providing for the sole use of mana whenua

Thomas Cranmer is  the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation and tweeting his findings on Twitter.

Over some months, he has been unpicking the threads of the Three Waters command structure to reveal the extent of the control being gifted to Māori over water.

This is the first of a series of articles he is posting on the Three Waters issues…

Three Waters and Te Mana o te Wai

Deep within the Water Services Entities Bill is a mechanism that will have significant  influence at the operating level of the structure – it is a mechanism that is only available to mana whenua.

By the Government’s own admission the Three Waters reform is a highly complicated proposal made necessary by the need to upgrade our existing water infrastructure whilst upholding the Crown’s Treaty obligations. But despite its complexity the public has been repeatedly assured in plain and simple terms that co-governance will not give Maori ownership or control of water assets. Continue reading “Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters, Te Mana o te Wai and a control mechanism the Govt is providing for the sole use of mana whenua”

Oliver Hartwich: State funding of the news media and an Orwellian distortion of journalism

David Farrar alerted us in a Kiwiblog post to an article about the state funding of the mainstream news media published in The Australian

The article, written by  NZ Initiative executive director  Oliver Hartwich, highlights the issue that should dismay the public about this funding:  the $55 million is conditional on media organisation’s agreeing with the Government’s contentious view on the Treaty of Waitangi.

Farrar comments:  

This is repugnant. Polling by Curia has shown a massive 59% think the PIJF undermines the independence of the media. Only 24% of Kiwis support retaining the PIJF.

I hope the next Government will scrap it entirely. However there may be a case for funding reporting on court cases and local councils. But this would need to be done with no conditions around the Treaty and through some sort of neutral body not appointed by the Government of the day.


An Orwellian distortion of journalism

According to a quote sometimes attributed to George Orwell, “journalism is printing what someone else does not want published; everything else is public relations.”

Whether Orwell actually said it or not, it is a useful definition.

There are whole armies of PR and comms people trying to make you swallow their predetermined messages. Continue reading “Oliver Hartwich: State funding of the news media and an Orwellian distortion of journalism”