The dragons-and-taniwha speech isn’t being quickly forgotten – and Mahuta is getting support from some Aussies on Five Eyes

It’s the speech that keeps on giving.

This gives the lie to advice we were given on the art of delivering a memorable speech: an audience remembers best the first five minutes of a speech and the last five.

In the case of Nanaia Mahuta’s dragons-and-taniwha speech, at Point of Order we reckoned only a few of the audience would have understood the first five minutes and most wouldn’t have been awake to hear the last.

If they did stay awake (we reasoned) they would have struggled to comprehend some chunks between the introduction in te reo and the “thank you” with which the speech ended.

For example:

Pacific Connections – Ngā Taniwha nō Te Moana nui a Kiwa

I want to briefly go back to the whanaungatanga New Zealand has to the Pacific. In many respects one could surmise that we share common Taniwha.

How many members of the audience speak te reo?

Some impenetrable stuff was reported by news media for the edification of those who weren’t in the audience.

Here’s something from the Dom-Post, for example, Continue reading “The dragons-and-taniwha speech isn’t being quickly forgotten – and Mahuta is getting support from some Aussies on Five Eyes”

You tell ’em, Andrew – this country will not tolerate Russian mischief with malware

OWell, well, well.

New Zealand its expressing its indignation about something the Russians may or may not have been doing.

But this expression of the nation’s indignation comes not from Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta but from Andrew Little, our Minister of …

No, not Health on this occasion.  Nor Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Pike River Re-entry or the NZSIS.

He was giving the Russians a blast as Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau.

In that capacity, he was adding New Zealand’s voice to

“ … the international condemnation of the malicious compromise and exploitation of the SolarWinds Orion platform.” Continue reading “You tell ’em, Andrew – this country will not tolerate Russian mischief with malware”

GDP slump will jolt Kiwis who thought the economy was doing nicely, thank you (but maybe not until America’s Cup euphoria fades)

Nobody  raised  an  eyebrow  at  the  latest political polling by Colmar Brunton.  Labour had  eased   back  just four points  since  December, National  was  up  only  two.

In  the  preferred  PM  stakes  there was a more  significant  movement.  Jacinda Ardern was  down 15  points at  43.  Even so, this registered  a  popularity  that  many  of her predecessors in  their  fourth year  in office  would have  given their  eye  teeth  for.

Nevertheless  Labour  stalwarts  won’t  want  to  see  any  further  slippage  in the PM’s rating.  They  may  blame  the  backlash from the  most recent Auckland  lockdown  and  Ardern’s  mis-steps  over  the  cause  of it   for  the  glitch.

Maybe   the  government’s  sails  will fill again as  the   national euphoria spills over  from  Team NZ’s glittering  America’s Cup victory.

More  likely, however, there  will be a  re-focus  on Covid  issues as  the euphoria  fades,  particularly  the  vaccination  programme.  At  this point  there seems  to be little concern  that the  programme is  proceeding in a   very leisurely  fashion.  But  that  may change  as New Zealanders  discover  other  countries  are fully  vaccinated  before  they get their shots. Continue reading “GDP slump will jolt Kiwis who thought the economy was doing nicely, thank you (but maybe not until America’s Cup euphoria fades)”

Fonterra milk price forecasts give a fillip to farmers and the regions – the co-op has become an NZX favourite, too

Fonterra has  confirmed  what  most analysts  had  been predicting and lifted its 2020/21 forecast farmgate milk price range to  $7.30 – $7.90 kg/MS, up from  $6.90 – $7.50. This should  send a  further surge of  confidence  across  NZ’s  rural regions, hopefully in  a  wave  strong enough to encourage  farmers  to plan to  increase production  next  season.

As  a  result  of  the  higher  payout, the co-op  will be  pumping $11.5bn  into the  rural economy, well ahead of the $10bn predicted  last year. Although  farmer-suppliers  to Fonterra  are paid off   the mid-point  $7.60  of the new range, most analysts  believe the final payout will reach $7.90.

That  should  ensure a  handsome  return  for most  suppliers,  whose  cost  of  production averages  around $5.80-$6 kg/MS—and for the  highly  efficient, at below $4, an even   better one. Continue reading “Fonterra milk price forecasts give a fillip to farmers and the regions – the co-op has become an NZX favourite, too”

Biden’s negotiating skills will be tested as he aims to have posts filled and programmes approved

Now the honeymoon is over, it’s down to hard work for American President Joe Biden and his new administration.  Only a handful of his Cabinet nominees have been approved in Congress and he faces the prospect that up to three candidates may fail to pass muster.

This will test his negotiating skills and legendary capacity to work “across the aisle”, a term beloved of US political commentators.  Opposition is hardening within the Democratic Party on issues such as the minimum wage.

The problem begins and ends with the near balance in both houses of Congress. In the senate there is a 50-50 split between the Republicans and Democrats, which means Vice President Kamala Harris must almost live in the chamber to ensure legislation is passed by means of her casting vote. The House of Representatives is little better with the Democrats holding 222 seats to the 213 held by the GOP.

While Harris can break a tie in the Senate, this means not losing a single Democrat — or winning over a Republican.

The nature of the challenge is illustrated by Biden’s candidate to run the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden. Continue reading “Biden’s negotiating skills will be tested as he aims to have posts filled and programmes approved”

While an MP bridles against neckties, voters who oppose Maori wards are being told to get knotted


While a Maori Party MP was grandstanding against colonial oppression and discrimination by refusing to wear a necktie in Parliament, the government was rushing the passage of a bill which will grant Maori a significant electoral advantage by subverting democracy at the local authority level. 

The grandstanding was done by Rawiri Waititi, who – when kicked out of Parliament on Tuesday for breaching a dress code that has since been changed – told Speaker Trevor Mallard: “It’s not about ties — it’s about cultural identity, mate.” He described a necktie as “a colonial noose”.

The bill being rushed into law removes voters’ right to veto the imposition of Maori wards on city and district councils.  This contradicts the Labour Party’s 2020 election manifesto, which stated:

“Labour will uphold local decision making in the democratic institutions of local government… Labour will ensure that major decisions about local democracy involve full participation of the local population from the outset.”

Yeah, right.

But under the Bill as it stands, tens of thousands of ratepayers in local authority areas where petitions have already been announced and signatures have been collected, will have their lawful democratic rights revoked.

As political commentator Karl du Fresne points out, the majority’s right to determine the form of local government representation in their communities is being scrapped to enable Maori (invariably part-Maori) candidates to bypass the need to win popular support.  Successful candidates will be responsible only to constituents who claim Maori ancestry. Continue reading “While an MP bridles against neckties, voters who oppose Maori wards are being told to get knotted”

Govt will be challenged by Climate Commission and its discomforting calculations on the costs of decarbonising

The Climate Change  Commission, in issuing its carbon-cutting blueprint, has  presented  a  challenge   to  all New Zealanders — but  in particular  to  the government.

So  far  the  Ardern  government  has  not  racked up any significant achievements, apart  from   what  some  see  as  its success  with limiting the impact in  this country  of the Covid-19 pandemic: think of  Kiwibuild, child poverty, mental  health, Oranga Tamariki, infrastructure, education.

Chairman of the Climate Change Commission Dr  Rod Carr reckons there are technically feasible, economically  affordable ,  and  socially acceptable pathways to achieve the targets  NZ  must meet. And  the  Prime Minister says the  government will  introduce  new policies to hit the targets  and meet NZ’s international obligations.

So what  needs  to  be  done?

We are being advised to:

*End imports of petrol and diesel cars by 2032.

 *Slash  livestock numbers by 15% by 2030

* Plant 380,000 hectares of new exotic forestry by 2035.

* Have no new home gas connections after 2025. Continue reading “Govt will be challenged by Climate Commission and its discomforting calculations on the costs of decarbonising”

Mahuta plugs the progress of Maori at powhiri for our big APEC year

A rich mix of fresh pronouncements from the Beehive includes the delivery of an election promise to improve the wellbeing of workers with more sick leave.  Yes, this may adversely affect the wellbeing of their employers, who will be obliged to do the paying.  But this has been partly offset by a sop which extends by 10 months the rules allowing affected businesses to put their debt on hold by 10 months.

Ministers have also advised the people who employ them (we, the people, dear reader) of:

  • The government’s intention to enable drug users and pill poppers to check on the quality of the stuff that gives them their buzz;
  • The government’s giving more protection to consumers who borrow money (at the same time as it is amassing a record-high public debt to be repaid by all consumers who pay taxes);  
  • Plans to make the public sector carbon neutral by 2025, starting with the phasing out of the largest and most active coal boilers;   
  • A bill to keep an election promise to have a new top tax rate of 39 per cent on income earned over $180,000. The new rate will apply from 1 April 2021.

Oh – and then there’s the speech delivered by Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta to APEC big-wigs, although it seems to have been pitched to resonate with a Maori audience as much as with an international one.    

The speech was delivered at a pōwhiri on Wellington’s waterfront where the local tribe, Te Atiawa, and several government ministers welcomed representatives from the other 20 APEC economies.

Mahuta  described APEC as a hugely important international event and said APEC 2021 (NZ will be the host) would be one of the largest ongoing virtual events in the world, with more than 300 meetings conducted across New Zealand.  

The pōwhiri was one of the few physical events of New Zealand’s APEC virtual host year. The first virtual APEC 2021 meeting, the Informal Senior Officials Meeting, will be held on 9 December.

Mahuta briefly brought history into considerations and attempted to make it relevant to the experience of other APEC countries:  

“It is significant to note that around 700 years ago, our ocean-navigating Māori ancestors or tūpuna traversed the vast Pacific Ocean, using the signs they observed in the stars and ocean currents to travel south to ultimately arrive here in Aotearoa. I hazard a guess that they would have stopped off at many of your homelands across the Pacific along the way to rest, recuperate and re-stock supplies for the long journey ahead.”

She mentioned the inclusiveness and environmental sustainability that have become potent  components of policy-making under our caring prime minister. 

“We seek to promote trade and economic growth that is inclusive, especially as it relates to women and indigenous peoples, to ensure APEC makes full use of the untapped economic potential of these and a number of other groups. We will also focus on sustainability, not only in response to environmental realities such as climate change, but also to facilitate a green economic recovery from COVID-19.”

The spirit of “partnership” was not overlooked:  

“APEC New Zealand Officials are working in partnership with the local tangata whenua, Te Atiawa Iwi, to ensure that we maintain our Māori cultural integrity in the way that we welcome, host and farewell our manuwhiri, our guests.”

Then global challenges were addressed (albeit briefly):

“As you may well recognise these are challenging and uncertain times. A global pandemic has cause us to be caught in the same storm and while we are experiencing the impact of this storm very differently collectively we know we must get through the other side.

“Responding to COVID-19 will be top of mind for New Zealand, and we will be looking to use a number of mechanisms to facilitate an effective, long-lasting economic response to the crisis as we set out a ‘new normal’ approach to support our resilience.

“Following the biggest economic shock in 90 years, we will focus on rebuilding confidence in the multilateral trading system. An effective, functioning and rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organisation at its centre, underpins APEC’s work to support our economies to grow together and be cognisant of the challenge before us. Promoting indigenous collaboration to broaden the diversity of our approach, and the consequent benefits to women and young people is also important.”

Mahuta declared she was heartened by the progress made by New Zealand since this country last hosted APEC in 1999. 

But her measure of New Zealand’s progress  – dare we suggest it? – was somewhat narrowly focused on the achievements of one racial group: 

“In 1999, Māori were largely invisible in New Zealand’s hosting and were mostly reduced to ceremonial and cultural roles. However, we are determined that for APEC21, Māori will play a more prominent and meaningful role in New Zealand’s hosting. I anticipate this approach may assist broader opportunities for indigenous peoples and economies to connect in more meaningful ways.

“Over the last twenty years the Māori economy and asset base has grown exponentially enhanced further by Treaty Settlements, which have provided an economic base for our people. Today, the Māori economy is valued at around $50 billion and represents six per cent of New Zealand’s total asset base. The Māori economy includes a range of authorities, businesses, and SME employers who self-identify as Māori.

“From 2010 to 2018, Māori enterprises have increased in number by over 30 percent and employee count by 50 percent. However, the general consensus is that further diversification of the Māori asset base is required to ensure resilience in the long-term.  We are starting to see this across the Māori economy with Māori businesses branching out into new investment areas including geothermal, digital, education, and housing.

“With the Māori economy in such a solid position, we have an excellent opportunity to diversify the benefits our trade policy and within APEC over the next twenty years.”

And the progress – was there any? – of the national economy?

We may suppose MFAT officials or Mahuta’s speech writer reckoned it wasn’t worth mentioning.   

But Mahuta did acknowledge that indigenous recognition can be a sensitive subject and that the New Zealand experience is not uniformly replicated across the Asia-Pacific.

She offered this country’s help in changing their ways of doing things:   

“We are willing to share our experience and offer support to assist economies to enable the greater participation of indigenous communities in trade and economic activity, including through APEC. Economic inclusion such as this approach will contribute to greater equity and opportunity for indigenous peoples and can contribute to greater social cohesion and stability in our region”

Wrapping up her speech, Mahuta told the locally based APEC economy representatives that, because of the virtual nature of NZ’s host year, they would play an even more important connecting role between NZ officials and their home agencies.

She told New Zealand government officials they had an enormous task ahead as they prepared proposals, meeting papers, statements, projects and events during the year, all while ensuring a strong New Zealand sense of manaakitanga, hospitality.

And last but by no means least she addressed tangata whenua, Te Atiawa Iwi, and Māori organisation partners, saying 

“ … you are our Treaty partner and represent Māori cultural and economic interests in APEC and what we strive to achieve across these economies.”

In conclusion, she drew on the wisdom of her ancestor Tāwhio who said;

“Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kapuia e kore e whati.

” ‘When a reed stands alone it can be easily broken, but bound in unison it stands firm, joined together, and is unbreakable!’

“That is the intent of APEC 21 that we Join, Work and Grow Together.

“No reira, Turuturu Whakawhitia mau a kia tina! Haumi e, hui e, tāiki e! Tēnā koutou. Tēnā koutou. Tēnā tātou katoa!”

Among the signals we pick up from this, diplomats and APEC representatives who want to understand everything Ardern’s second-term ministers tell them should get to grips with te reo fast – or recruit local staff who can do the translating for them. 

 Latest from the Beehive


Public sector to be carbon neutral by 2025

  • Public sector to be carbon neutral by 2025
  • Immediate focus on phasing out largest and most active coal boilers

Government fulfils election undertaking on new top tax rate

The Government will today keep its election promise to put in place a new top tax rate of 39 per cent on income earned over $180,000.

Sir Robert Martin re-elected to UN Committee

New Zealand welcomes the news that Sir Robert Martin has been re-elected to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, says Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni.

New rules to protect Kiwis from unaffordable loans

The Government is making sure all consumers who borrow money get the same protections, regardless of where they get their loans.


New visitor attraction to boost tourism

The opening of the first major new tourism attraction since the global outbreak of COVID-19 closed borders to international travellers will provide a welcome boost to visitor numbers in our largest city, says Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.

Govt moves on drug checking to keep young New Zealanders safer this summer

The Government will pass time limited legislation to give legal certainty to drug checking services, so they can carry out their work to keep New Zealanders safer this summer at festivals without fear of prosecution, Health Minister Andrew Little says.

Public Service Commissioner reappointed

Minister for the Public Service Chris Hipkins announced today that Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes CNZM has been reappointed for three years.

Pōwhiri marks the start of a critical year for APEC

New Zealand kicked off its APEC host year today, with a pōwhiri taking place on Wellington’s waterfront with local iwi Te Atiawa, and a number of Government ministers welcoming representatives from the other 20 APEC economies.

Speech at APEC 21 Opening Pōwhiri

Kei aku rangatira no ngātapito e whā o te ao huri noa, tātou e huihui mai nei. Tēnā rā kōutou katoa.

Government extends business debt relief to October 2021

To assist with the ongoing economic recovery from COVID-19, rules allowing affected businesses to put their debt on hold have been extended by 10 months.

30 NOVEMBER 2020

Bill introduced to support workers with 10 days sick leave

The Government is delivering on a key commitment by introducing a Bill to Parliament to expand sick leave entitlements from five days to ten days a year, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today.

Progress on pay equity for DHB staff

Today’s initial agreement between DHBs and the PSA on pay equity for clerical and administration staff is an important step toward better, fairer pay for this crucial and largely female workforce, Health Minister Andrew Little says.


Decarbonisation is one option for Fonterra bosses to consider as they strive to make the co-op a national champion

Rabobank’s  latest   survey    of farmer   confidence found dairy farmers more upbeat about the fortunes of the agricultural economy  than meat and wool  producers.  Dairy farmer net confidence rose to -29% (-33% previously).

Improving demand is the key reason for optimism among  dairy farmers. That’s  largely  because global demand for dairy has held up well during the course of Covid-19 with many consumers opting for simple, familiar, stable food products such as dairy during the pandemic.  And   since the last survey,  Fonterra has  lifted  the lower bound of its farmgate milk price pay-out range for the 20/21 season.

Then there is  Fonterra’s  performance  under   the  stewardship of  Fonterra chief executive Miles  Hurrell,    who  has succeeded  in  turning  the  co-op’s fortunes  around   after  two   grim  years.

Now,  as  the  global  economy  stumbles  into  a  pandemic-induced  recession,  the  dairy  industry  more than  ever   has   become   the  main prop  in sustaining  NZ’s  export capacity.

The  question  is   whether   Fonterra  – as  the  major  player  in  the  industry  – can accelerate   the  progress  it  has  recorded  under  Hurrell’s  leadership. Continue reading “Decarbonisation is one option for Fonterra bosses to consider as they strive to make the co-op a national champion”

Stuff and nonsense about a change of name for NZ and its capital by 2026

Brace for a change of name for our country, fellow New Zealanders, and prepare to become Aotearowers or some such.

According to this report on the Stuff website: 

New Zealand could officially become Aotearoa, Wellington could be Te Whanganui-a-Tara, and Christchurch could be Ōtautahi, if the Māori Party takes power at the 2020 election.

This piece of pap, penned by a political reporter who portends a comprehensive rewriting of New Zealand place names, is posited on an improbable “if”.

Let’s look at it again – it’s

” … if the Māori Party takes power at the 2020 election.” Continue reading “Stuff and nonsense about a change of name for NZ and its capital by 2026”