The govt knocks down old state houses and builds new ones – but the net result is a waiting list that cries out for demolition

It was a simple question about housing and Point of Order listened closely to Housing Minister Megan Woods’ response.

Alas, we are none the wiser on one part of the question, about advice on how long it will take to get the waiting list down to around 5844. But – if we have done our sums correctly – we can tell readers there has been a hefty increase in the numbers of people on the state housing waiting list over the past five years.

We took a crack at working this out after Parliamentary questions were put by National MP Chris Bishop to the Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing), who presumably was not in Parliament at the time.  Megan Woods did the answering.

Bishop asked:

“How many people are on the State housing waitlist now compared to September 2017, and has she received advice on when that number will return to the levels of September 2017?”

Woods presumably has been a keen student of the art of Political Blather, deserving a pass with honours.  Continue reading “The govt knocks down old state houses and builds new ones – but the net result is a waiting list that cries out for demolition”

Megan Woods’ challenge – she has plenty of advice from champions of matauranga Maori as she considers its role in NZ science

The Government received 901 submissions in response to its green paper on the future of  the country’s research, science and innovation system – and the role to be played by matauranga Maori.  can play a rolebe merged with it.

But for now, the submissions are being kept confidential because several submitters have requested anonymity. Submissions and submitter information are being reviewed against privacy and confidentiality obligations.

The Minister in charge of this reshaping of our science system is Dr Megan Woods, whose CV includes work for Crop & Food Research and Plant & Food Research. But she was a business manager, rather than a researcher, it seems.   Her PhD is in history,  obtained at the University of Canterbury with a thesis titled Integrating the nation: Gendering Maori urbanisation and integration, 1942–1969.

Whatever happened to the commas?

According to a Cabinet paper Woods presented on October 28, the reform programme she favours for the country’s science sector aligns with outcomes sought by the Minister of Education on proposed changes to Performance-Based Research Fund funding.

The first two aims of those changes (as ranked in Woods’ Cabinet paper) are

  • To support a holistic approach to recognising and rewarding research; and
  • To better reflect and partnership between Māori and the Crown (sic).

Her paper says New Zealand’s research, science and innovation system

” … needs to make better, faster progress on supporting Māori and iwi aspirations  We know that more work needs to be done to explore how the RSI system will seek to understand and respond to Te Tiriti obligations and opportunities. Continue reading “Megan Woods’ challenge – she has plenty of advice from champions of matauranga Maori as she considers its role in NZ science”

How a tohunga could have enlightened Woods about fog and cycles before Pyper partnership was agreed

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods perhaps did not take all available advice before she committed the government to a partnership with New Zealand aerospace start-up, Pyper Vision.

Announcing the partnership, she said it could help make fog delays a thing of the past for passengers, freight, airlines and airports around the world.

Pyper Vision – she explained – is developing a technology that disperses a safe water-absorbing environmentally-friendly product via drone that soaks up moisture in the air and clears runway fog so that pilots and air traffic controllers can operate safely.

RNZ turned that into something more readily digested:  

Christchurch-based company Pyper Vision is developing a spray that can absorb moisture from the air quickly, clearing fog.

It aims to ease flight disruptions such as the three day backlog in flights at Wellington Airport last week, when fog rolled in on Tuesday afternoon, and didn’t ease until Thursday afternoon, affecting more than 200 flights.

The team is being assisted by the Government’s Airspace Integration Trials Programme, which aims to support the adoption of new aviation technology safely into the existing transport system. Continue reading “How a tohunga could have enlightened Woods about fog and cycles before Pyper partnership was agreed”

Contact Energy shareholders get a positive jolt from company’s latest results and renewable power prospects

Contact  Energy, New Zealand’s  largest power  company, is  also among  its  most enterprising. Currently it  is building a  168MW  geothermal plant  at Tauhara as  market demand for  renewable energy strengthens.  

The company reports  its project to investigate the world’s first-large-scale green hydrogen plant in Southland with Meridian Energy is also progressing well, with potential development partners shortlisted.

Only last week PM Jacinda Ardern said developing a “shared plan with businesses and investors” to establish a new green hydrogen industry in NZ was  one of the government’s primary economic development objectives.

Contact Energy’s shareholders  could be  understandably excited, therefore,  when the  company  this week reported a  70% rise in net profit to $134m  (from $78m  in the corresponding half),  just  as  CEO  Mike  Fuge   said the company was excited about the role its renewable generation was set to play in the decarbonisation of the country over the next decade. Continue reading “Contact Energy shareholders get a positive jolt from company’s latest results and renewable power prospects”

Bring on the Wiles v Dawkins debate and prospects of our being demystified (but he might be disqualified as a dinosaur)

We are heartened, at Point of Order, to find some of our scribblings have been drawn to the attention of Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago.

On his website, Why Evolution is True,  he has posted an article headed More news from New Zealand about the big science vs. indigenous “knowledge” ruckus. In this, he has referenced our recent report that Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, has set aside $1.6 million to hook kids on “science”, but by using “traditional knowledge”.

We have been rewarded, too, by keeping an eye on what Coyne is saying about science and matauranga Maori and its place in our education system on his website.

 For good measure, we have been given examples of the wit and wisdom exercised by Professors Joanna Kidman (University of Wellington) and Siouxsie Wiles (University of Auckland) when they rebut ideas expressed by people who disagree with them.  Age and gender seem to be over-riding considerations – in tweets, at least – which seriously corrode the validity of a contradictory argument.        

On December 14, Coyne says he suddenly had been inundated with emails from disaffected Kiwis who take issue with the New Zealand government’s and academia’s push to teach mātauranga Māori , or Māori “ways of knowing”, as coequal with real science in high-school and university science classes. 

Co-equal?

Of course.  We are injecting notions of Treaty partnership into our science curriculum.

And if it’s good enough to debase our democracy with these partnerships, why should science be exempt?  Continue reading “Bring on the Wiles v Dawkins debate and prospects of our being demystified (but he might be disqualified as a dinosaur)”

How $82m of Marsden Fund dosh is being spent – on spatters, structure theory, sea ice, sex-changing fish and black holes

Latest from the Beehive

The Government is investing $82.345 million over the next three years in 120 projects focused ( for example) on infectious diseases, wellbeing, climate change, natural disasters, and space.  We can’t wait for the research results, enabling us to assess how well this money has been spent.

The announcement of Marsden Fund grants was made by Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods, who said:

“This funding will help address real world problems that people in Aotearoa are facing right now, as well as drive New Zealand’s ambitions in pioneering research.” 

A mind-boggling list of projects – or rather, a list of projects with mind-boggling titles – can be checked out on the Royal Society of New Zealand website www.royalsociety.org.nz.

The average Kiwi – we suspect – may wonder about the real-world problems being tackled and the pioneering research that is being undertaken with the aid of government funding.

For example: Continue reading “How $82m of Marsden Fund dosh is being spent – on spatters, structure theory, sea ice, sex-changing fish and black holes”

Two inquiries aim to throw light on power blackout – but a switched-on govt should see it’s more than market failure

The  blame-game over  the  Monday  night   power  blackout   has  deepened.

Ministers initially  talked  of  “market  failure” – National accused the government of  being  asleep  at the  wheel

Then ACT said the  government’s energy  policy  was  “flawed”  because  it  puts  carbon emissions  ahead  of  affordable and  secure electricity,  through the ban  on  natural  gas  exploration.

The   Green Party,  for its  part,  contends the  “gentailers” are  more focused on chasing  profits than providing   more affordable,  more  renewable, and  more  secure  electricity  generation.   

Meanwhile  two small players in the electricity market have made a formal complaint to the Electricity Authority following Monday’s rolling blackouts. Continue reading “Two inquiries aim to throw light on power blackout – but a switched-on govt should see it’s more than market failure”

If recriminations could be turned into energy and stored, maybe the next power blackout could be avoided

Recriminations  flew  after  the  power blackout   on  Monday,  one  of the coldest  nights in  New Zealand.

Energy Minister  Megan  Woods blamed  a  market  failure  and “commercial decisions”. According  to  the  Dominion-Post,  she  pointed  the  finger  at  Genesis  Energy, which had not  turned on one of the  Huntly power station’s units.

The  government is  said to be  demanding  answers  from the industry.

Genesis chief executive Mark England said the company had been made a scapegoat and he will be asking the minister why.

Transpower has apologised after it asked lines companies to cut power in some areas to handle all-time-high demand for electricity, combined with insufficient generation, on one of the coldest nights of the year.

 Transpower CEO Alison Andrew said there was  enough generation to cover predicted demand on Monday evening. Continue reading “If recriminations could be turned into energy and stored, maybe the next power blackout could be avoided”

Over $1bn is invested in renewable energy but meanwhile NZ must import coal to generate electricity

Two   of  the  Labour  government’s  major  policies are  to reduce  carbon  emissions  in the  battle against  climate change, and  to   produce 100% of  NZ’s  energy from renewable sources.

So   are those  policies   going?

Reports  this week make  it  clear:  poorly.

So  badly,  indeed, that  Energy  Minister Megan  Woods  could be  living  in  la-la  land.

This  was  her  response  to RNZ’s finding  that in the same year  the government declared a climate emergency, imports of an especially dirty type of coal from Indonesia topped a million tonnes for the first time since 2006:

“This government is not been [sic] satisfied with this reliance on fossil fuels and last year we backed up our goal to have a fully renewable electricity grid with a $30m investigation into solving the dry year problem.

“The NZ Battery project is investigating the country’s potential for pumped hydro, as well as comparator technologies, and is progressing well but will take time.” Continue reading “Over $1bn is invested in renewable energy but meanwhile NZ must import coal to generate electricity”

Young eco-warriors press for change – if they get what they demand, they should brace for a lower standard of living

The latest  cohort of school students  took  to the  streets  last week  to  demand  climate  change action. In  Wellington, several thousand strikers marched to Parliament.

Izzy Cook, one of the organisers, said they had their own list of demands.

“Investing in a just transition to a sustainable future, reducing agricultural emissions, prohibiting the use of fossil fuels nationwide so phasing them out, getting climate education [and] honouring our neighbours in the Pacific Islands.” 

 The demands were handed over to Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

But he said it’s not just him who needs to be listening. Continue reading “Young eco-warriors press for change – if they get what they demand, they should brace for a lower standard of living”