Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gang member arrested over Taita, Lower Hutt, death...

  • Gang member arrested over Lower Hutt death  (Source: ONE News)
    The driveway where the man's body was found in Taita, Lower Hutt - Source: ONE New

A patched gang member has been charged with killing a man who died on a Lower Hutt driveway last month.
Desmond Leaf, 38, from Avalon, appeared in the Lower Hutt District Court today charged with the manslaughter of Michael Mulholland, who was found with facial wounds in a Farmers Crescent driveway in Pomare on September 20.
Leaf, unemployed, entered no plea and was remanded in custody.
Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson said police were also speaking with a second man in connection to the death.
Police launched a homicide investigation after Mulholland, 52, died at the scene despite efforts to resuscitate him.
An autopsy later confirmed he was seriously assaulted. Police do not believe a weapon was used in the attack.
It is understood both men are patched members of the Mongrel Mob.
Acknowledgements:  Fairfax

Friday, September 28, 2012

Family mourn the death of young Wellington woman killed by falling branch in London...


Erena Louise Wilson

Erena Louise Wilson

The family of Wellington woman Erena Louise Wilson, who was killed by a falling tree branch in London, have spoken of their sadness and expressed their gratitude to emergency services following the death.
Wilson, 31, an accounts manager, died instantly when she was struck by a falling tree branch in London's Kew Gardens as her friends ran for their lives, an inquest has heard.
"We are very saddened by the death of our beloved Erena Louise Wilson," the family said in a statement.
They wished to express their sincere thanks to the emergency services in England, "whom we are told did a remarkable job with their attendance to the scene and their attempts to revive Erena".
"Our thanks to the police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand High Commission, both in New Zealand and England, for their promptness at getting in touch with and keeping her mother informed and arranging for Victim Support Services, who were with her immediately".
"Please respect our wishes for privacy at this time, while we come to terms with our loss and as we make arrangements for Erena to be returned home".
Wilson was visiting the Royal Botanical Gardens in the city's south west with two friends on Sunday (Monday, NZT) when there was a "loud crack like thunder".

The New Zealander's friends looked up and saw a 30cm thick branch from an 18m tall Lebanese cedar coming crashing down.

The pair fled to safety but when they looked back were horrified to see Wilson lying face down on the ground surrounded by branches

Thursday, September 27, 2012

John Key tries to defend Christchurch's proposed school closures...

john key press
Iain McGregor
OPENING: Prime Minister John Key speaks at the official opening of Press House
Controversial plans to shake up Canterbury's education system will change before they are finalised, Prime Minister John Key says.
In his first remarks since the planned school closures were announced, Key said changing demographics, costly repair bills and ministry research were behind sweeping proposals to close 13 schools and put 25 through some form of merger.
Speaking at the official opening of Press House today, Key said the Government "could obviously put everything back where it was".
"But just like the CBD isn't going to be put back in the way it was in the past, it won't always make sense for the schooling system to be completely replicated in what you had.''
Christchurch's demographic pattern were changing, with people are living in different parts of the city, he said.
"The demands will be different.''
Read more:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kiwi soldiers remains found 95 years after the battle...

The remains of a New Zealand First World War soldier have been discovered in Belgium.
The New Zealand Defence Force said today that the remains were found in April, and forensic analysis has now officially identified the remains as belonging to a New Zealand soldier.
The remains were found alongside two NZ infantry shoulder badges, in Messines, where New Zealand troops had been involved in intense fighting during World War One.
The remains will be reburied in a Commonwealth War Grave later this year or early next year.
NZ Defence Force Military Advisor in London, Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Nick Gillard said the soldier can now "lie with his comrades who also lost their lives during the Battle of Messines".
"The soldier 'Known only to God' will be reburied with ceremonial honours reflecting his sacrifice and service to New Zealand," Gillard said.
In February, the remains of another New Zealand soldier killed in WWI were laid to rest at a special ceremony in Belgium.
The remains were believed to have belonged to a 25-year-old man and were found alongside a New Zealand Rifle Brigade hat badge, associated personal material and the remains of a uniform. They were found last July near Messines, close to the French border.

Monday, September 24, 2012

NZ Government rejects American proposal for a Ross Sea marine reserve...

Should there be a marine reserve in the Ross Sea?

Digital image / P.K. Stowers
Digital image / P.K. Stowers
Earlier this month the Government rejected a proposal from the United States for a marine reserve that would have offered greater protection for the Antarctic toothfish in the Ross Sea.

There are tight regulations on fishing - including strict quota and reporting requirements on catch and bycatch - in Antarctica, which is still treated as an exploratory fishery.

New Zealand companies take a large proportion of the annual Ross Sea toothfish catch - last year they landed 730 tonnes with an export value of $20 million.

The Herald understands the joint proposal was thwarted in Cabinet by ministers Gerry Brownlee, David Carter and Steven Joyce on the grounds it was not consistent with the Government's economic growth objectives.

Should the Ross Sea be a marine reserve? Here is the latest selection of your views below:

I would support a marine reserve to stop exploitation and overfishing in that area. The Antarctic toothfish is one example. So-called strict quota and tight fishing regulations won't necessarily protect the Ross Sea.. Lets hope some commonsense prevails.   The Green Planet blog


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Last Kiwi soldiers deployment to Afghanistan...

NZCity CalculatorReturn to NZCity

The last New Zealand Defence Force deployment to Afghanistan will leave from Christchurch and Ohakea on Tuesday.

The last batch of New Zealand soldiers to serve in Afghanistan will leave on Tuesday, including two dozen who will be there to organise the withdrawal.
About 140 service men and women will be part of the 21st six-month deployment to Afghanistan before New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is withdrawn in April next year.
New Zealand troops are in Afghanistan as part of the Nato-led security mission following the 2001 invasion by United States forces after the September 11 attacks.
The contingent, made up of personnel from 2nd 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and supporting units, will leave from Christchurch and Ohakea.
As well as the troops, a theatre extraction team of 24 personnel - essentially a mission closedown team - will be sent to Afghanistan, a New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) spokeswoman said.
Their role would be to ensure equipment and personnel were extracted from Afghanistan in an orderly and timely manner, she said.
They will do a stocktake and identify what needs to be brought back to New Zealand, and what can be gifted to locals - items such as furniture.
"We cannot confirm further details on how NZDF will move larger items such as LAVs (light armoured vehicles). These plans are still being finalised."
Prime Minister John Key has said the eight or so LAVs in Afghanistan could be left to local Afghan forces.
Media have been invited to the Christchurch departure, where NZDF says staff will give an overview of the logistics of the withdrawal.
The first PRT deployment went to Afghanistan in 2003.

Acknowledgements:  NZN

Christchurch promises more protests against school closures...

Thousands vent fury at school  closures...

Protesters call the school plans

Protesters call the school plans "abusive". Photo / SNPA
Christchurch promises more protest action

Upset children, parents and principals rallied against "abusive" school closures in quake-ravaged Christchurch yesterday.
Thousands gathered at Hagley Park to vent their fury at Government proposals to shut 13 Canterbury schools; merge 18 into nine; and relocate another seven.
Rally organisers said the idea of centralising city schools and eliminating middle schools was "ludicrous". They vowed to stage more protests.
Reverend Mike Coleman, who has two children enrolled in a Christchurch school earmarked for closure, said the closures would devastate long-suffering Canterbury kids.
"Taking your school away (after) having been through 10,000 quakes is one of the most abusive things you can do to a child."
Coleman said the decision was made without any consultation.
He also said the Government would target small schools throughout the country after dealing with Christchurch.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Canterbury based Crusaders to rejig its coaching structure for 2013...

Beaten in this year's Super Rugby semi-finals, the Crusaders have opted for a four-strong coaching team for 2013, adding a new role of team attack coach.
Shortcomings in attack and defence are behind the Crusaders' rejigged coaching structure for next year's Super Rugby season, coach Todd Blackadder says.
The Christchurch-based franchise is increasing its coaching team from three to four.
Blackadder remains as head coach and Dave Hewett continues as assistant forwards coach, while former All Blacks midfielder Daryl Gibson takes on responsibility as assistant coach for defence.
A new role of team attack coach is yet to be filled and will be advertised externally this week.
Blackadder says the new structure is a critical part of taking the lessons from 2012 and turning them into opportunities for 2013.
The Crusaders finished second in the New Zealand conference to the Chiefs this year, and were beaten by the Chiefs 20-17 in their semi-final at Waikato Stadium.
"One of the areas that the coaches identified as needing more of a specialised focus in future is our defence and attack play," Blackadder said.
"The reality is that the modern game has evolved to the point where the degree of information, analysis and coaching needs of the players require specialised attention as opposed to simply a generic backs coach."
Acknowledgements: © 2012 NZN, NZCity

Ex-Olympian jailed for sexual violation - name suppressed...

Photo / File
Photo / File
A former Olympian has been sentenced to 14 years and three months in prison for sexual violation and violence offences.
The man, who has name suppression to protect the identity of the victims, appeared in the High Court at Auckland today.
He was earlier found guilty of six charges - three of sexual violation by rape, one of sexual violation by unlawful connection and two of violence, referred to incidents involving two former partners.
The sentence carried a minimum period of imprisonment of six years and six months.
The relationships were characterised by controlling behaviour, forced sexual acts and violence, said Crown lawyer Fionnghuala Cuncannon.
In one assault, the victim was strangled by the man who "restricted her breathing to the point that she thought she would die,'' she said.
The offending related to relationships with a girlfriend between 1998-1999 and a wife in 2008.
In one incident, the couple had an argument and the man pushed the woman against the wall and grabbed her with one hand so she couldn't breathe, the court was told.
When she refused him sex later that night, he raped her.
In a statement, the other victim said she was punched, dragged around by her hair and described being hit in a ``frenzied attack'' when the man became enraged.
The women said the offending has caused ongoing problems, making them frightened, affecting their self-esteem and their relationships with loved ones.
The man has two previous assault convictions and a pattern of violent offending in relationships, said Ms Cuncannon.
A written character reference from an academic said the defendant "makes bad decisions'', particularly in relation to his choice of partner.
Justice Mary Peters rejected this, saying it indicated blame on the victims.
Defence lawyer Hugh Leabourn said that was not the intended meaning.
He also pointed to references from those who knew the man well and described him as intelligent, likeable and disciplined.
Justice Peters said the man had a "chequered history'', a tendency to resort to violence, particularly against women, and had not learnt how to appropriately deal with anger, she said.
-Acknowledgements:    APNZ

NZ reportedly votes against the conservation of dolphins in local waters


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kiwi mod rock star Ray Columbus hospitalised in Auckland...

Ray Columbus
'COMFORTABLE': Singer Ray Columbus is in North Shore Hospital.

"Kiwi music icon Ray Columbus has been admitted to Auckland's North Shore Hospital
Columbus suffered a stroke three years ago that effectively ended his singing career, however it is not known why he is in hospital this time.
A spokeswoman for North Shore Hospital said Columbus was "comfortable".
The 69-year-old, who was awarded an OBE, hit the top of the charts in the 1960s with his band Ray Columbus and the Invaders.

He is best known for the hit She's a Mod, which was the first Kiwi song to go to number one on the Australian charts, but the singer also appeared on TV and was the manager of Christchurch pop band Zed

Over his career he has toured with international artists including Roy Orbison, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey. "

I remember Ray Columbus in the early 60's in Christchurch dancehalls and nightspots. He was a real Kiwi entertainer.

Visit Petes Place

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New law creating special orders for indefinite detention...


Legislation that creates special orders to allow for the indefinite detentions of certain offenders raises questions around the Government’s good faith in advancing it, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Charles Chauvel says.
"The Public Safety (Public Protection Orders) Bill, introduced today, was first promised by Judith Collins and John Key almost exactly one year ago, during the election campaign.
"Labour raised concerns five months ago around the fact the Government had not delivered on its election promise. We offered to discuss with Ms Collins the problems she said the Bill was designed to address, and also - in light of reports of divisions in Cabinet about the shape of the Bill - the intended design of the legislative solution.
"We heard nothing from Judith Collins until the introduction of the legislation in the House today. In the interim, one of the five to 12 offenders it specifically targets - Stewart Murray Wilson - has already been released.
"The delay of 12 months in introducing legislation first foreshadowed during the election campaign, allowing one of the targeted offenders to be released last month, and refusing to consult with the opposition about the problem or the solution are all factors which call into question the good faith with which the Government is dealing with this issue.
"The Labour caucus will discuss its position on the Bill at its regular meeting next Tuesday.
"My recommendation will be to allow the legislation to go to a select committee, in recognition that there is an issue here - as we noted publicly in April.
"Given the Government’s refusal to engage, however, detailed scrutiny of the Bill at select committee - including hearing expert evidence and seeing official advice - is the only option open to the Opposition by which to judge the seriousness of the issue, the adequacy of existing tools with which to deal with it, and the fitness for purpose of the Government’s proposed legislative solution.
"Judith Collins needs to improve her consultation processes if she wants to be taken seriously in her portfolio, especially on issues where she should not be playing party politics.
"Meanwhile it remains to be seen how many others will leave custody while the Bill goes through the legislative process," Charles Chauvel said.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Drastic three strikes telephone calls - benefit cuts...

Sun, 16 Sep 2012 6:09p.m.
The drastic measure forms part of the Government's crackdown on long-term welfare dependency

The drastic measure forms part of the Government's crackdown on long-term welfare dependency

Beneficiaries who fail to answer three phone calls and a voicemail from Work and Income are being told they'll have their welfare payments slashed in half.
The drastic measure forms part of the Government's crackdown on long-term welfare dependency.
But beneficiaries and their advocates are angry. They say they haven't been told about it.
Hana Bellingham is among 53,000 people who are receiving the unemployment benefit in New Zealand.
But she's one of the few who've heard about what's been called the Government's "three strikes" phone call policy.
“It's been a while since I've heard from you guys and I was informed by a friend if I missed three phone calls from Work and Income that my benefit could potentially be cut off?” Ms Bellingham asks the organisation over the phone.
“If they call you three times and cannot make contact with you they will actually look at suspending your unemployment benefit,” responds the Work and Income worker on the other end of the phone.
Work and Income says it will also send clients a letter, urging them to make contact. So how much of the benefit would be cut? It's 50 percent initially and after that if they still try and get in contact, that's when they'll look at suspending the full benefit.
“That's unfair because many beneficiaries at certain times of the month don't have credit and it

Read more:

The David Bain compensation claim...



David Bain…

When retired Canadian judge, David Binnie, was appointed by the National Government to assess David Bain’s compensation claim a few months ago, Judge Binnie asked for reading material which included two books written by Bain supporter, Joe Karam: David and Goliath: The Bain family murders; and Bain and Beyond.

But this request did not extend to books written by ant-Bain campaigners. I find that quite extraordinary. The other books included The Mask of Sanity: The Bain Murders by James McNeish; and In the Grip of Evil: The Bain Murders by Judith Wolfe and Trevor Reeves.

To get compensation, applicants must prove their innocence, at a minimum, on the balance of probabilities. In addition, because Bain’s claim fell outside cabinet guidelines, he needs to demonstrate the circumstances were extraordinary. The compensation could be up to $2 million dollars, for the time he spent in prison. He could also be entitled to a public apology or a statement of innocence. I don’t believe that innocence or lack of innocence should be assessed on probabilities. Justice has to be broader than that, surely?

The interesting point that should be considered is that the Prime Minister, John Key, and his Cabinet are not bound to grant compensation. As I wrote above, this claim actually fell outside Cabinet guidelines.

The Government’s decision could take some time. Judge Binnies’ report has to be read by the Minister of Justice, who will then report to Cabinet. There is no right of Appeal to the Cabinet’s decision. It is binding!

Petes Place

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Christchurch history comes at a great price...

Was the demolition of Christ Church cathedral really necessary?
OPINION: Christchurch feels like a city under attack.So much of its central business district has been demolished that its streets are unrecognisable, even to those of us who have spent most of our lives here.The inner-city area within the Four Avenues is described by locals increasingly in terms of a war zone. Comparisons with Kabul or Baghdad abound.Citizens are in a state of shock and many avoid the CBD altogether, grief-stricken at how much of their city has been destroyed – not by earthquakes, but by order of the Canterbury Earthquakes Recovery Authority (Cera).According to Warwick Isaacs, Chief Executive of the Central City Development Unit (CCDU) who is backed by Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, the demolitions will not cease until 20 per cent of the original CBD remains.After the February 22 2011 earthquake, Dr Kit Miyamoto, a structural seismic engineer with 25 years’ international experience in earthquake recovery, stated he believed that, at the most, about 30 per cent of the CBD might need to be demolished. The announcement that 80 per cent is to be demolished he later described as “unbelievable”.
To make way for the increasingly criticised CCDU blueprint, priority projects such as the green frame, a convention centre (three times the size of the previous one), and a covered 35,000-seat stadium, Cera chief executive Roger Sutton has said 1200 existing inner-city sites must be “repackaged”. Translation: a great number of inner-city properties must be sold to the Government at whatever price it offers. Yet more buildings will be demolished, including the few remaining heritage buildings.
Included in the green frame, which is to be in place as early as March, are listed heritage buildings which include the Christchurch Town Hall, the old Civic Offices, the Odeon Theatre and the Majestic Theatre. By June this year, 117 listed heritage buildings, representing 51 per cent of total heritage stock in the Central City (within the Four Avenues and Red Zone), had already been demolished and another 13 were slated for partial demolition. Approximately 100 of those demolished had recently undergone restoration work costing more than $3.5m from the public purse.
It seems there is no end in sight to the destruction deemed necessary for the city’s recovery. Clearly two major casualties of the new city plan for Christchurch are property rights and cultural heritage identity.
Especially vocal in their criticism of the CCDU blueprint are property owners in the CBD who owned or still own heritage buildings. The proposed green frame was initially applauded as a way of maximising green space in the new city. However, it is now regarded by many property owners as a cynical means of setting up a land bank to manipulate land values within the new CBD so the Government can profit later from the disaster at their expense.    Petes Place






Over-rated Piri Weepu on the outer - his international career must be waning...

A real champion player, skipper, Richie McCaw, always keeps himself super-fit even when injured.
OPINION: This was not the statement Piri Weepu desperately desired.
The 29-year-old severely dented his future test prospects in Dunedin last night.
He will be looking over his shoulder and is officially fighting for his 62-test All Blacks career.
Aaron Smith can breathe easy; his exploits in the capital - the late night on the large which saw him dumped to the bench - won't have cost him the starting halfback spot. That much is certain.
He, and New Zealand's young brigade, are the future.
Steve Hansen delivered a clear message Weepu failed to deliver the goods by hooking him after an average first 40 minutes, where his forwards struggled to cope with South Africa's physicality.
Weepu won't get over that confidence hit in a hurry. He won't want to view last night's tape anytime soon, either.

After spending all six tests this year largely riding the pine, Weepu was given his first start since the World Cup final. How times have changed.
This was his chance to impose his style; to prove his 96kg frame could get around the park and hack the pace Hansen is attempting to imprint on the international game.
Instead of making an impact, Weepu confirmed suspicions his star pedigree was dwindling. Right from kickoff, he appeared one-second behind the play. Ans so he continued until replaced by the highly talented Smith

It is most certainly the end of Piri Weepu's international career. He was over-rated anyway, but his versatility kept him in the picture - he can play No 10 in an emergency and is a handy goalkicker when in form. This year his total lack of professionalism in presenting himself to the Blues well overweight and totally unfit, went down like a lead balloon. Why the inform Crusaders halfback, and former All Black, Andy Ellis, was totally rejected, is a mystery. Has performed well for the Crusaders and continues with Canterbury in the ITM Cup. Ellis is a Pakeha and all other contenders are Maori. If he performed admirably he might be an embarrassment for those supporters of the injured TJ Perenara and Kerr-Barlow.Weepu is the current haka leader and Ellis' skills are in horticulture anyway.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Deep concern shown at school closures and mergers in Christchurch



Christchurch school leaders are in shock after learning of the Government’s plans for closing and merging schools. Thirteen are to close, while 18 will merge as a result of recent earthquakes in the region.
Education Minister Hekia Parata made the announcement at the Lincoln Events Centre on Thursday afternoon, saying the Government will spend $1 billion in the next 10 years renewing the education system in Christchurch and the surrounding area.
The reorganisation comes in the face of an earthquake repair bill of up to $750 million and the loss of 4500 students.,-others-to-merge-in-christchurch

Visit Petes Place

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Canterbury dictatorship will continue...


Puddleglum at The Political Scientist has written an encyclopedic and scathing critique of the Nats’ dictatorship in Canterbury. Some extracts below – but go and read the whole post here.

ECan, the government and the ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’
It is hard to understand why it appears to have received so little attention or commentary nationwide (with some honourable exceptions).
The extension of the rule of the ECAN Commissioners announced by David Carter (Local Government Minister) and Amy Adams (Environment Minister) has created what may be a political ‘tipping point’ in Christchurch, if not Canterbury as a whole.
Saturday’s editorial in The Press - titled ‘Black day for democracy in Christchurch‘ – is astoundingly blunt:
The brief statement announcing the continued suspension of democracy at Environment Canterbury will take a place in New Zealand history. It outlines the most radical denial of voting rights that this nation has experienced in recent times – a fact that disadvantages Cantabrians and besmirches the Government.
That the Government has prolonged this system – it is called dictatorship – is deplorable and foolish. It not only denies the province healthy administration but it strengthens a backlash against National in the province.
And again,
At the time of the original appointment of the commissioners, people wereoutraged, even though ECan was not popular and regarded as partly paralysed. Cantabrians hated a main branch of their democracy being removed. Had the earthquakes and the difficult and prolonged recovery not diverted the anger, National would have paid a penalty here in the 2011 general election. The anger will return now, this time with an added intensity.
The Government,
relies on the assertion that the commissioners provide efficiency, strong governance, effectiveness, problem-solving, stability.
Those are the justifications of every tin-pot dictator, echoing the sentiments of Suva.

When we ‘bought’ the neo-liberal turn that began in the 1980s we also bought into the notion – whether or not we realised it at the time – that New Zealand, as a society, was “dedicated above all to material prosperity“. Even though those reforms may well have not achieved that end (i.e., material prosperity), the significant point is that that was used to legitimate them – that economic activity was, ultimately, what New Zealand, and New Zealanders, were all about – and we bought it.
At that point, democracy took a back seat rhetorically. It also, potentially, could take a back seat in reality.
Over the past two years that potential has played itself out in Canterbury.
This is why David Carter and Amy Adams could say, with a straight face and believing that they would not be challenged in any way that might threaten their decision – that democracy had to be abandoned. They could be assured that a significant proportion of New Zealanders bought the argument that (supposed) economic efficiency trumps democracy.
Amy Adams – under this rhetorical cover – could explain to us all that,
“The Canterbury region has significant economic growth potential but also faces significant challenges,” she said.
”It is critical for New Zealand that the planning governance structure for Environment Canterbury is stable, effective and efficient.
“To keep the freshwater management work on track, we intend toretain the limited appeal rights on decisions made by Environment Canterbury on plans and policy statements relating to freshwater management.”
And it’s also why John Key could engage in what is now his trademark, exasparatingly self-contradictory form of prose,
[John Key] said he had confidence in the people of Christchurch to pick the right people, but keeping the commissioners would deliver the best results for Canterbury.
In a more plain-speaking manner, Key ran this technocratic justification for the subordination of democracy right the way up the flagpole:
“In reality, with the Christchurch earthquakes coming along, it was our view that if we wanted to have an operative water plan and the issues of water resolved once and for all for the Cannterbury [sic]region, it was important to have another three years of commissioners,” Key said.
An “operative water plan” (the ‘technical matter’ of a ‘plan’), you see, cannot be achieved democratically. Resolving the highly politically-contentious “issues of water” “once and for all“, significantly “for the Canterbury region” – and not for the Canterbury people– requires, in the government’s judgment, “another three years of commissioners“.
And Key continued,
“We want to go back to democracy, we understand the issues and we considered them very closely, but in the end the primary factor was that we thought there needed to be a successful outcome and the job wasn’t yet done.
This “job” that “wasn’t yet done” is clearly one that democratic processes cannot be guaranteed to achieve.

I am angry.
Do these people not understand – or do they simply not care – that the most important aspect of any recovery is not ‘business’ or ‘economic activity’? It is – since they clearly need reminding – collective cohesion and the sense of some sort of power and control that a people have in relation to their future.
It surely is no mere coincidence that appointing ECan commissioners for a further three years puts it conveniently beyond the 2014 date for the implementation of the Land and Water Plan. That plan would have been potentially amendable – by a newly elected council – should an election for councillors have been held in the second half of 2013, as previously promised. But, now, with this latest announcement it will become a cemented-in ‘fact on the ground’ that any subsequent Council will no doubt decide it has to live with – for better or worse.
As John Key put it, by then the “job” will be done. ‘We’ will be faced with a fait accompli.
Anyone who has seen – and experienced – the anti-democratic essence of this government beneath its supposed ‘centrist’, ‘pragmatist’ makeover, can only hope that one day soon its politically loathsome acts will lead to a Dorian Gray-like downfall, so that all we will be left with is the curious memory of a shiny image that no longer corresponds to the ugly reality evident to all:
When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The iconic Avalon TV studios in Lower Hutt to be sold as a going concern ...

TVNZ has sold its former flagship Avalon television studios in Lower Hutt and is laying off staff.
The 45 staff employed at the studio complex were summoned to a meeting at 3.30pm to be told of the sale.
The studios and business has been bought by a company headed by Wellington businessmen John Feast. The shareholders are Denis Kirkcaldie and studio managers Paul Mainwaring and Gary Watson.
The sale to Avalon Holdings, which Feast chairs, followed a lengthy international search for a new owner. It is unclear how many staff will be re-employed by the new owners and no comment was immediately available from TVNZ.
The deal, which had been under negotiation for months, went unconditional today with settlement and handover to the new owners in March 31 next year.
Feast was not prepared to disclose the price paid but was confident the studios would be able to secure work.
They had been in talks with potential users and were now in a position to offer contracts to lease studios and provide technical support.
The studios - which used to be the production base for TVNZ news, current affairs, drama and entertainment shows, is now largely unused - lost its last TVNZ show when Good Morning moved to Auckland last year.
Since then the racing channels and Lotto have been the main studio users, although Lotto is also being transferred to Auckland next year.
The studios have since picked up a contract from Top Shelf Productions which will produce its new Choice TV daily Brunch at Avalon from next week.
The Racing Board, which broadcasts its Trackside and TAB channels from two production suites, were committed to stay there for the time being, said Feast.
He hoped to keep them there and then draw in more work to keep the studios busy.
He wanted to keep many of the staff on but that depended on the amount of work that could be secured in a highly competitive film and television market.
''The studios have a lot of highly skilled people and we don't want them to leave the region.
Mainwaring, who will be Avalon Studios chief executive, said they had been in discussions with Film NZ, Gibson Group and other production companies so they could build on the ''bread and butter'' work they did for the Racing Board.
The studios and adjoining Avalon Tower, which was TVNZ's head office, opened in 1975, just three years after the switch to colour television.
TVNZ used to employ over 700 staff at Avalon but numbers have dwindled since the 1980s as production and administration moved to Auckland. Its only remaining property at Avalon is the TVNZ Archive.
Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce president Helen Down said she welcomed the decision to retain the Avalon Studios as a going concern.
"Avalon is an iconic studio with an international reputation and the decision supports the Chamber's strategy of attracting and retaining businesses within the region.''