Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Armed Robbery At Bellbird Arms Tavern

There has been another armed robbery in New Zealand, this time at a pub in Manurewa, South Auckland.

Three armed men burst in to the Bellbird Arms Tavern at 12.20pm yesterday and threatened staff with a sawn-off shot gun, they are thought to have got away with $16,000 - $20,000.

3News reported that the pub manager was worried for his customers' safety:
"Tavern manager Brian McKinnon told Radio New Zealand there were about 15 customers in the bar at the time of the robbery. He was worried a customer might "do something stupid" like run at the robbers, and get hurt. Staff were trained to cope with these incidents and Mr McKinnon said he was less concerned for his own safety."

View Larger Map of Street view Bellbird Arms Tavern
 It's a despicable crime, everyone involved must have been quite shaken, we hope they recover from their ordeal soon.

There have been a number of similar incidents in clubs, dairies, supermarkets, fast food restaurants, banks, a brothel and even a hairdressers (Rodney Wayne's in Takapuna) in which members of the public have been put at risk. It can only be a matter of time before a bystander is killed or seriously injured.

Violent armed robberies seem to be on the increase in New Zealand. In 2008 there were 1,160 recorded aggravated robberies (an average of more than 3 a day) of those 163 were firearm related and 223 used a stabbing or cutting weapon.

We're not sure what the official figures will be for this year but we've been keeping a tally of incidents that have affected commercial operations (i.e. not on domestic premises, street robberies, muggings, tourist hold-ups etc.) and which were reported to the press, the results have shocked us. Not only because there have been so many (almost 200) but also because they're happening all over New Zealand, from Invercargill to Kaitaia, not just in the more deprived and densely populated inner city areas.

What's worse, based on last years official figures, it looks like only a fraction of these robberies are being reported in the press so the true picture may be even worse. We suspect that many hold-ups in small dairies, service stations and liquor stores just don't get reported.

The list may been found here, or by clicking on the 'Armed Robberies' tab above.

Today's posts - click here

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Zealand Nationals Arrested In India On Drugs Charges

Two NZ nationals have been arrested in India for being in possession of 96g of charas (hashish or cannabis) According to reports made to the NZ press the couple, Allan Bruce Mills and his girlfriend Peta Sim Clair, have refused all offers of assistance from the NZ embassy.  Really? when one considers the stiff penalties for drug offences in India we think most New Zealanders abroad would be looking for every bit of help they could muster. Why refuse help, it just doesn't make sense. Surely the plight of people like 'banged up abroad' drugs carrier Schapelle Corby can't be far from their minds?

The Tribune India shed a bit more light on the story by reporting:
"Two New Zealand nationals, including a woman, have been arrested for possessing charas, the police said yesterday. Allan Bruce Mills and his girlfriend Peta Sim Clair were arrested from Bhuntar, near here, on Thursday and 96 gm of charas was recovered from their possession, Superintendent of Police KK Indoria said.

He said the couple was also carrying foreign currency worth Rs 22 lakh. They have been booked under the NDPS Act.

“The New Zealand Embassy in New Delhi has been informed about their arrest,” the police official added.

In recent years, the Kullu valley has gained notoriety as a drug haven.

According to the police, the foreigners are providing high-yield variety cannabis seeds imported from Holland and Russia to farmers for planting in various high-altitude areas like Malana, Bhelang, Melandar, Magic and Kutlah in the Kullu valley as well as the Chauhar and Seraj valleys in Mandi district."
The couple are now out on bail and we're left guessing as to why they were arrested in the first place.

New Zealand has a rep for being the country with the highest levels of cannabis use.

Today's posts - click here

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another Adventure Tourism Death Results In Prosecution. Tor Prestmo

 Foto: Gina Hindseth
Whilst the review of the Adventure Tourism industry is put on a back burner, until the busy summer season has passed its peak, a river rafting company has been prosecuted in connection with the death of Norwegian trainee guide Tor Prestmo, age 24.

This appeared on Voxy on 23 December 2009

Wellington, Dec 23 NZPA -
"A Manawatu river rafting company has been found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of a trainee guide who drowned when the raft he was on flipped on the Rangitikei River.

Tor Prestmo, 24, from Norway, drowned in October 2007 when he was swept under water after a collision between two rafts on a grade five rapid on the river.

The Maritime New Zealand laid 11 charges against River Valley Ventures Ltd, its director Brian Leadson Megaw and rafting manager Koryn John Gould under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

In a ruling released today, Judge Gregory Ross convicted the company on three charges relating to failing to ensure the safety of its employees, and failing to ensure no hazards arose in the workplace that could harm people.

Judge Ross found two charges of being in control of the company at the time of the incident, and failing to take practical steps to ensure no hazards arose for employees faced by Mr Megaw were proved.

Mr Gould was found guilty of one charge of failing to ensure Mr Prestmo's safety.
But Judge Ross said he would not enter a conviction against Mr Megaw or Mr Gould until he had heard from their counsel at sentencing.

On the day of the incident Mr Prestmo became wedged behind a rock, one metre under the surface. He had been training with tourism operator River Valley Ventures for three weeks at the time of the accident.

Three other guides and 10 passengers survived the collision and were rescued. The company, Mr Megaw and Mr Gould pleaded not guilty in Taihape District Court to the charges.

During the hearing, crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said the company had neglected standard operating procedures, including safety briefings and assessment of clients' abilities.

Judge Ross said the company's involvement with the river should have been intimate and detailed and it should have identified hazards. "Every physical and geographical feature is identified, marked on maps, named and known."

The judge suggested it would have been practical for the company to have had a qualified guide in the raft with Mr Prestmo."
As far as we are aware this is the 8th prosecution notified this year relating to deaths or injuries sustained in adventure tourism activities in NZ, the others include
  • Paul Woods - A British general surgeon at Dunedin Hospital died when the jet boat he was a passenger in flipped after hitting a gravel bank in the Matukituki River. His partner Dr Leanne Tonney and her brother Dave were injured in the crash. The boat was privately owned.
  • Yan Wang - A Chinese tourist died when the jet boat she was a passenger in flipped at the confluence of the Shotover and Kawarau rivers. The company involved was 'Kawarau Jet'. 7 other people were injured.
  • Sarah Katie Bond - A British tourist who died from her injuries during a quad bike trek run by 'Waitomo Big Red' 30km west of Waitomo Caves last August.
  • Emily Jordan - A British tourist who drowned whilst riverboarding with 'Mad Dog River Boarding' on the Kawarau river. The company was fined NZ$66,000. (US$46,000)
  • Catherine Peters - A New Zealand university student who died from her injuries after falling from the Ballance Bridge Swing.
  • Six students and a teacher - Died in a canyoning exercise with the Sir Edmund Hilary Outdoor Centre, the centre was fined NZ$44,000.
  • Rosemary Berry, a semi retired Australian tourist broke an arm and shoulder whilst skiing and sustained other injuries after she fell over an metal track left in the snow at the Cardrona Ski Resort. The company subsequently tried to appeal against its conviction of fines and costs totalling almost $60,000.
We hope that the review doesn't take too long and that the report's recommendations are implemented swiftly as soon as it is published.

See also other drowning deaths on the Rangitikei River
    Today's posts - click here

    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    Adventure Tourism Review 'Extended'

     Emily Jordan

    Back in September we predicted the review of the Adventure tourism industry in NZ would probably take years and not months, so it comes as no surprise to hear that the review has just been been 'extended'.

    The review was instigated following a request made by Chris Jordan, father of death of British tourist Emily Jordan who drowned whilst river boarding in the Kawarau River Gorge in April 2008. He called NZ safety regulation "no better than third world" and wrote to John Key asking for action to improve standards within the industry.

    In his letter to Mr Key, Mr Jordan explained that he has spent 16 months investigating the way that extreme sports firms are regulated in New Zealand and was “appalled” at what he had found.
    He said "It is vital that more young people do not die in this way. It is a tragic, unnecessary waste and they leave many grieving people behind for whom life is forever changed. This situation is damaging New Zealand’s reputation worldwide.

    In an article in today's ODT Department of Labour group workplace policy manager Craig Armitage said that the two month extension was
    "To give operators sufficient time to engage more fully with the review, given the summer period would be particularly busy. The review team is continuing to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and the extra time will allow for more robust stocktakes of risk management and safety provisions in the adventure and outdoor commercial sectors in New Zealand and internationally"...The final report will now be sent to Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson for her consideration by May, 31 next year. The public consultation period for the review closed last Wednesday."
    "Engage more fully" we read this as operators may be giving the process the cold shoulder, is it business as usual for the adventure tourism industry? As long as the money is coming in and visitor numbers are high operators will see no reason to participate in the review. They may be hoping the whole tiresome thing will just disappear if they ignore it for long enough.

    The article goes on to state
    "Queenstown Lakes District Council outgoing chief executive Duncan Field had been selected by the council to represent Local Government New Zealand on the (review) steering group and the project working group.

    He told the Otago Daily Times he was not sure he would be continuing serving on the groups, given he has not been reappointed chief executive.

    The council was involved in the adventure tourism industry from the perspective of resource consenting, legislation such as the Shotover River Empowering Act and the harbourmaster function and bylaws."
    We have the impression that the steam has long gone out this initiative and are wondering if the review it is little more than a face saving exercise to restore damaged reputations. If business this summer is good it will appear that objective has already been achieved. Only time will tell. Meanwhile we can be sure that the family and friends of Emily Jordan will be watching and waiting for the outcome.

    Today's posts - click here

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    Police Officer Shot in Papatoetoe, Another Armed Siege On The Streets Of NZ

    A policeman has been shot in the leg at a property at Buckingham Crescent Papatoetoe, South Auckland during a routine patrol around 4.10am today.

    An armed stand-off has developed and police have yet to make an arrest. A police report stated:
    "At 4.10am today a 28 year old, male Police Officer was shot several times outside a house in Buckingham Crescent, Papatoetoe.

    "A police patrol vehicle noticed a suspicious vehicle in a driveway. The vehicle had its hazards lights on and the two officers presumed it had been interfered with, one officer approached the vehicle on foot and was shot at in the darkness," says Superintendent Mike Bush, District Commander for Counties Manukau Police.

    "Police assistance arrived at the scene almost immediately and six officers entered the scene and recovered the injured officer. I applaud the decision of the senior staff involved in this incident to extract the young Constable in the dangerous situation they were in."

    The police officer was shot in his leg and his elbow. He suffered severe blood lost. He is currently at Middlemore Hospital undergoing surgery, his condition is described by medics as serious but stable.
    "We are talking to a number of people, one person of significant interest. This person was located close to the scene. We are trying to establish what role he played within the incident. It is believed that there may still be one more offender outstanding," says Mr Bush.

    Two firearms have been located at the scene. All staff at the scene are armed and the area is cordoned off."
    Our thoughts and hopes for a full and speedy recovery are with the injured officer and his family.

    Not counting armed robberies it's been a while since an armed siege has happened in NZ, the last one was in June when a paraplegic man was shot dead in Burnside, Christchurch.

    In May Jan Molenaar shot dead a police officer and critically injured three other people in Napier (see Armed sieges and gun politics in NZ) and in January innocent bystander Halatau Naitoko was killed in cross fire in an armed stand-off that brought an Auckland motorway to a stand still.

    This latest shooting of a police officer in the line of duty (the 7th in 18 months) is bound to re-ignite the debate about arming NZ's police.

    Firearms commonplace in NZ
    New Zealand has 11 times as many guns per capita as Britain and 60 percent more than Australia (police are armed in Australia) There are an estimated 230,000 licensed firearms owners using approximately 1.1 million firearms, enough for 1 in 4 of the population. There are no figures for the number of weapons illegally owned by unlicensed people.

    During a call to one domestic incident in a house in Otahuhu, South Auckland police came across an arms cache of about 45 high powered shot guns and rifles and ammunition.

    Today's posts - click here

    Saturday, December 19, 2009

    Holy Row Over Mary And Joseph Bed And Board

    We've been holding off commenting on the ridiculous bickering over the distinctly westernised and 21 century depictions of a dejected Joseph and a resigned Mary lying between crisply laundered sheets outside an Auckland church, until now.

    The boards were supposed make people think about the 'true' meaning of Christmas (True? let's not go there) but both were vandalised within hours of being erected.

    Just how the boards were supposed to spark a debate over the meaning of Christmas  is unclear as the obvious message seemed to be that religious fervor was to blame for raging impotence in men and for sexual frustration in women, who are therefore doomed to an eternity of virginity.

    The church's vicar, Archdeacon Glynn Cardy said
    "What we're trying to do is to get people to think more about what Christmas is all about. Is it about a spiritual male God sending down sperm so a child would be born, or is it about the power of love in our midst as seen in Jesus?"
    What it should have done is spark a debate about the true meaning of the cult of Christianity.

    It's largely gone unnoticed during this time of Advent that an 80 year old man has just pleaded guilty in an New Plymouth courtroom to assaulting a child. He said he believed he was following the Bible when he used an length of alkathene pipe to punish a child for stealing $1000 from him. The man said he'd been "seeking to correct him in the manner described in the Bible" but he obviously hadn't got to the passage yet about "suffering the little children".

    In a true display of how not to turn the other cheek the church's communication manager (churches have communication managers now) who obviously wasn't feeling the power of love in his midst that day, told press that a video recording of the vandalism was to be passed to police and a complaint laid.

    Well, at least something got laid.

    Today's posts - click here

    Albany Armed Robbery Same Day As Paremoreomo Prison Escape

    News outlets have recently been given details of an armed robbery that took place at the Westfield shopping mall at Albany, North Shore last Wednesday. The robbery of a security van came within hours of the escape of a prisoner from a nearby prison.

    Police are downplaying a possible link between the two events but it does seem strange that news of the hold-up wasn't released to the media until Friday, two days after the event.

    Two heavily disguised men robbed the van at around 10.20am and made their get away in a car that had been stolen from Mairangi Bay and which was later found in the underground car park at The Warehouse.

    The route from Auckland prison to Albany

    View Larger Map
    Other armed robberies in Albany this year include the National Bank in August and the ANZ in July. For more details of these and many, many other similar crimes please see "Armed robberies in NZ"

    Today's posts - click here

    "The Greatest Debate On Earth" BBC Responds To Key's 'Displacement'

     It didn't take long for a canny journalist to find out why Key was dropped from BBC World's "Greatest Debate on Earth. See our blog post yesterday "John Key dumped from climate change debate" for background.

    A report has appeared on ABC news saying
    "The New Zealand media is reporting that Mr Key has been elbowed out by Mr Rudd.
    A spokesman for Mr Key admitted the government was very disappointed with the BBC's decision.
    "The spokesman said he had an idea why the BBC changed its mind but he "wasn't going to do their explaining for them".

    The BBC has apologised to the New Zealand government but have denied the claim Mr Key was dumped from the debate in favour of Mr Rudd.

    "When we approached various people to appear we were told by some, including Mr Key, that they were unavailable," a BBC spokesman said.

    "This decision was later changed and we were told Mr Key was available. By this time we had already approached other countries, including Australia, and Kevin Rudd had agreed to join the panel.
    "We were then in the difficult position of having two leaders from Australasia on a panel designed to represent global opinion. In the end we accepted the offer of the Australian PM and had to turn down Mr Key."
    Which rather suggests that it was Mr Key himself that said he was unavailable and he then changed his mind for some reason. If so it all seems rather odd then for such a fuss to have been made yesterday. Perhaps there was a bit of a mix-up between Key and his press staffers over his availability? if so, are 'heads going to roll'?

    Where the truth lies in all this we have no idea but the resulting mud slinging has done little to either enhance NZ's reputation at Copenhagen, or improve the way NZ regards Australia.

    No doubt good sense will prevail in the end, we're expecting to see an a very cordial (and very public) display of mutual black slapping shortly between the two leaders.

    Today's posts - click here

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Bus Slogan Generator

    E2NZ has been having fun with a Rule The Web gadget that enables people to make up their very own bus slogan. 

    What also caught our eye was the Bullshit Detector. It's based on a list of 200 words which the British Local Government Association says should not be used by councils. On it are subversive words and phrases, for example
    • Blue sky thinking
    • Can do culture 
    • Cohesive communities  
    • Thinking outside of the box 
    • Welcome
    • Worklessness 
     Not all of them are unique to British local government speak are they?

    Today's posts - click here

    John Key Dumped From Climate Change Debate

     "The Greatest Debate on Earth"

    John Key has been bumped from BBC World's Greatest Debate on Earth, however some NZ news outlets are using the word "dumped". Dumped is an emotive word, surely "dropped" would've sounded better?

    "Dumped" suggests that someone is deeply embarrassed by the exclusion, there is an element of petulance about it, there is the suggestion of a failed romantic relationship - of a love won and lost. One wonders if the word comes from journalists covering the conference or it it was first used by the PM's press office. Feelings are obviously running high:
    "In a move that may stoke trans-Tasman rivalries, Key has been elbowed out of the BBC World (Service) "Greatest Debate on Earth" on Thursday by his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd."
     What was the reason for NZ being dropped from the debate - because it has nothing much to add to the debate perhaps (see 'NZ isolated on key Copenhagen issues: Key') or does Rudd just make for better TV? we may never know.
    "The spokesman said Key's office was told why the BBC made the decision but preferred it came from the British state broadcaster."
    "state broadcaster"?  we do have the makings of an international incident here.

    One does have to wonder if Key's recent U turn on his decision not to attend the Copenhagen conference had anything to do with an offer to appear in the BBC's debate. If so, no wonder people are hopping mad.

    Watch the trailer

    Other bloggers are also thing along the same lines as us, this is taken from
    "It was New Zealand  former Prime Minister Helen Clark who was a key player on climate change globally on the leaders’ stage. But sadly Key isn’t, and never has been, despite the PR spin on New Zealand’s news coverage making NZ better than it really is at this year’s Climate Change talks. That should give you a clue about how climate change friendly the government’s so called climate change legislation really is.What his initial inclusion in the BBC debate reveals, however, is how well connected his press secretaries and PR stuff are with the rest of the world’s media..."

    For the BBC's response see:
    "The Greatest Debate on Earth" BBC responds to Key's 'displacement'

    Today's posts - click here

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    At Least One Sex Assault In Palmerston North Every Week

    A particularly shocking statistic was released today in an article in the Manawatu Standard when it was revealed that there are 1 or 2 sex attacks in Palmerston North every week and it leaves us wondering is Palmerston North the rape capital of NZ?

    Women are warned to be vigilant whilst walking home alone over the Christmas period when it is likely the attack rate will increase, note there is no mention of increasing police patrols over the holiday season:
    "Walking home alone after a night on the town could have disastrous consequences for Palmerston North residents during the Christmas and New Year period. 

    There are one or two sexual assaults in Palmerston North each week, but police believe the high number of alcohol-fuelled parties over the festive season could lead to an increase in these offences.
    Recent attacks in Palmerston North have revealed just how vulnerable to attack women can be while walking the streets at night. 

    A man sexually violated a 22-year-old woman on Fitzherbert Ave about 3.30am on May 22.
    She fought him off with her stilettos but was left bruised and shaken by the attack.

    The man was described as 182cm tall, clean-shaven, of medium to thin build, in his late 30s or early 40s, with medium-length wavy brown hair.

    Police are also searching for a man who indecently assaulted a 25-year-old woman on Shamrock St at 8.20pm on October 29.

    The man indecently grabbed the woman twice but she managed to fight him off after a short struggle.
    He is described as dark-skinned, thin, between 17 and 19 years old and Middle Eastern in appearance. Detective Sergeant Tim Moffatt said attacks were rare but did occur. (ed. at least one a week is rare?)
    "Certainly if there is a young, drunk woman walking through the darkened streets of Palmerston North at 2am in the morning, she is a potential victim." (ed. & also at 8.20pm)

    Police have also advised people to guard their drinks against spiking at bars. "My recommendation is don't leave your drink lying around," Mr Moffatt said."

     According to Statistics NZ data Palmerston North had a total of 98 reported sex attacks (city 64, rural 34) during 2008, a massive jump from 68 in 2007 (city 44, rural 24) so the news article is correct - an average of 1-2 a week.

    But the assaulted aren't always on the streets. In November of last year a 99 year old woman was hospitalised after a savage sex attack and robbery in her Rangiora Avenue home. She later died in hospital. Glen Patrick Joseph Walsh, 20, is to be tried for indecent assault, assault and burglary

    Other attacks in the town include:
    A female who was seriously assaulted in the Burger King car park
    An attack on a 12 year old child
    A solider who preyed on a young child
    a 17year old who was raped by a national boxing champion near Main Street
    Two 14 year old girls who were raped at the Rangitikei Hotel

    For other posts about Palmerston North click here 

    Today's posts - click here

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Robert Winston Says NZ Fears Technology & Has Poor Values

    British Lord Robert Winston, is in NZ for the 2nd International Symposium of Performance Science hosted at Auckland University, the brave man has been voicing his opinions about New Zealand society to the local press. Here are some snippets

    TV3 News
    "New Zealand is a wonderful country, but it is also a country which I think has some very poor values as well...The fact is that you still rate things like the America's Cup, the All Blacks and the cricket (as) being far too important when actually they don't fundamentally improve human wellbeing...You do some fantastically good science and it's really sad that at the moment your Kiwis are in my laboratory. You are exporting the wrong things, you're exporting your talent, the very talent which might prop up your economy. But there's no future for them in this country"

    Stuff (Dom Post)
    "New Zealand celebrates attributes which really aren't that important...You do it with sportsmen and you don't do it particularly with intellectuals, for example. In New Zealand, being an intellectual is slightly disadvantageous (ed. only slightly?) and is often seen by the press as being something which is rather well, not to be celebrated."On the other hand, if you are a great rugby player, maybe parts of your private life which are pretty appalling, will go ignored. It is a society which tends to be driven by sailing, by the All Blacks and by the Bledisloe Cup."

    Ok Robert, so tell us something we didn't already know! What you are saying will ring a bell with most migrants from developed countries in New Zealand.

    What makes for far more interesting reading are the comments from the article caused on Yahoo News' web pages:

    Terence Patrick
    "Not to put down our sports stars, but the man is absolutely right. I'd go further and say that if you don't play along with the accepted dogma in this country you can almost be vilified. I think it's called " dumbing down " the population. Individual excellence is almost anathema!"

    "New Zealanders also, I've noticed, seem to suffer from what is known as 'Tall Poppy Syndrome'. If there is a rising academic or generally clever person, everyone does their best to smother them with things like 'You need to be like everyone else', 'You won't make any friends that way', and the more subtle: 'You should play/watch rugby more.' And then people get confused when I leave the room whenever these things are ...

    "i do strongly agree with Lord Winston. Being sports minded is good, i got nothing against that. but i did notice that excelling in sports is more glorified, more prestigious in schools, than excelling in the academics, where you have the thinkers. my boys don't feel as confident in topping tests, they don't want to be called geeks, but it's a different feeling for sports. this is a very debatable topic, depending on which side you prefer. my own opinion though is ..."

    "I quite agree with Lord Winston!! Not very long after arriving in New Zealand from London, I was a little more than surprised in fact "gobsmacked", to be told one day during conversation that, "you will never get a job in New Zealand, with an accent like that!!". Did they mean? that my English diction was too good, and that maybe I should sound a little bit more inarticulate??"

    Today's posts - click here

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Cubicle Dairy Farm Consents Progressing

    In line with what we predicted it seems as if the plans to build massive cubicle dairy 'factory' farms are progressing well. Despite what looks like posturing from both the government and Fonterra (the latter already has a similar unit in China) a report in yesterday's Timaru Herald states that resource consents have already been granted for some of the work:

    "Waitaki District Council is standing by its decision to grant land-use consent to a proposed series of controversial cubicle dairy farms.
    Five Rivers, South Down Holdings and Williamson Holdings have all lodged consent applications with Environment Canterbury for land, air and water use in the Upper Waitaki sites.
    The proposals have been criticised by dairy exporter Fonterra, and Prime Minister John Key has said the Government does not support the idea, which would collectively have more than 17,000 cows in 18 cubicle farms for 24 hours a day for eight months of the year, and 12 hours a day for the remaining four months. 

    However, the Waitaki District Council, in October, granted land-use consent for intensive farming – collectively involving more than 100ha of earthworks – to all three companies. Five Rivers also received a certificate of compliance to install underground pump stations and pipeline from Lake Ohau.
    Planning consents manager David Campbell said as the proposals were not within areas classified as outstanding natural landscapes, the environmental effects these consents would have on the area were considered to be less than minor. "Our plan allows for farming activity within the rural scenic zone, and we did not feel the triggers were reached."

    He said because the farms were a long distance away from any nearby property, the council did not feel there were many affected parties..." Read more Here

    Which is rather strange considering that 1,500 objections have been lodged, some of them from as far away as Britain and France. Local residents in the area are deeply concerned about the impact on the fragile ecosystem of the Mckenzie Basin, DOC has a 400ha. reserve at Glen Eyre Down and the Aoraki Conservation Board has concerns: From the  Mckenzie Guradians' - Plea to Preserve Paradise

    "According to its consent application, Five Rivers hopes to convert about 3800ha near Ohau Downs into dairy farming. The company will establish seven stand-alone dairy farms, which will house the cows up to 300 days of the year. It estimates a total of more than 54,000 litres of dairy effluent will be discharged daily. It proposes to mitigate any harm to water quality through an extensive management plan, including storage ponds.

    Southdown Holdings has already lodged consent applications to take water to irrigate Glen Eyre Downs as part of the Upper Waitaki Consent processes and plans to establish six separate stand-alone dairy farms over more than 2100ha. The farms will be able to hold up to 7000 cows in total, leading to a possible daily discharge of more than 93,000 litres of effluent.

    The Glen Eyre Downs site is also home to a 400ha Department of Conservation reserve, which acts as a wetland habitat for black stilts, while three watercourses cross the property.

    The consent application noted that Southdown Holdings had done significant work in protecting the environment, removing millions of wilding pines in the last two years.

    Agricultural research scientist and Aoraki Conservation board member Dr John Keoghan said he was concerned by the developments. “These areas are very fragile,” he said. “The depleted Mackenzie soils have high soluble aluminium levels, and these are intensive operations above and beyond anything that has been done before in the region. “I would like to know how much actual field research, as opposed to modelling, has been done on the effects such intensified farming would have on the region.” Dr Keoghan said that, although he had no problem with dryland farming practices in the region, he was wary at the move towards dairying.

    “Even before you get to the issue of nitrate leaching, there are concerns about the visual pollution as well. This can’t be overestimated. One of the appeals of the basin is its tawny tussocks and unique dryland qualities.”

    Should Williamson Holdings’ consent application to establish a dairy farm at Killermont Station be accepted, it would cover more than 3600ha and have a maximum of 3850 cows. In its consent application, the company said it was unlikely that leaching or seepage from irrigation would be excessive. (ed. by definition some leaching is likely?)

    “Given the rate at which soil is lost from the plains area in the absence of a vegetation cover, this is a positive ecological outcome. The alternative to irrigation is to leave the land as it is and continue to graze or crop it in the absence of additional water. The current status of the land is unproductive.”
    The Guardians website posted this update on 9 December:
    Opponents of a plan for intensive dairy farming in the MacKenzie Basin have told a consent hearing the irrigation would irreparably destroy the landscape.
    Three companies are applying to establish 16 new farms in the upper Waitaki area, with plans to house nearly 18,000 cows in cubicle stables part of the year.
    The MacKenzie Guardians environmental group has told a panel of commissioners that the applications are an inappropriate use of an outstanding natural landscape.
    Lawyer Phernne Tancock said the proposal would have a significant effect on the ecology and destroy the landscape which was a drawcard for tourists and film companies.
    The hearings began two months ago and will continue next year.
    One of the companies, Five Rivers Limited, whose director is Kees Zeestraten, wants to establish seven dairy farms with up to 7000 cows at Ohau Downs near Omarama.
    Another dairy company owned by Mr Zeestraten, Union Station Dairies in Southland, was this year fined $25,000 for breaching discharge consents.
    Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says granting the Five Rivers consent applications would be madness, given Mr Zeestraten’s history."
    Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

    For background see NZ farmers plan to 'factory farm' dairy cows

    Today's posts - click here

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Libby Templeman Remembered On The Anniversary Of Her Death

    Family and friends have gathered to mark the anniversary of the tragic death of British schoolgirl Libby Templeman who was murdered in the small Northland town of Kerikeri on 1 November 1 2008.

    Her mother Rebecca told the press
    "This past year has felt like 10 years, going so slowly yet it only feels like a couple of months ago that we last saw and heard our beautiful, vibrant daughter. Her ‘surround sound’ is greatly missed," says Rebecca.

    "Each day we wake up, and just breath in and out in the hope that we have the strength to make it through another day. Trying not to suffer the pain in which Libby was taken from us so violently. "We live her last few minutes every day, like a looped recording, reeling in the disbelief, pain and humiliation in which she suffered.

    "So many emotions, so many unanswered questions, but the main one being: ‘Why’. Never shall we understand or accept and nor should we. No one should."
     Our heart goes out to them for their awful loss and for the pain they must endure every day.

    A boy, who was 14 at the time of Libby's passing, was arrested 5 days after she was found and has been charged with indecent assault and murder. He is due to stand trial on February 8, has name suppression and is in the custody of Child, Youth and Family in Auckland. Posters on Libby's Bebo page have already named the boy who they think is being held, they say he was at school with Libby in Kerikeri and helped look for her after she disappeared.

    "Friend of murdered Brit Liberty Templeman charged": Article in the UK Daily Mirror
    "Boy, 14, charged with Liberty's sex murder": Article in the UK Sun

    Bebo Tribute Page for Libby - link

    Today's posts - click here

    Another British Migrant May Be Forced To Leave NZ

    It looks as if there is evidence that the colloquially named "Jobs for kiwis" policy may still be being implemented in New Zealand. A highly regarded British employee may be forced to leave the country because his work permit may not be renewed despite his employer being unable to find someone to fill the post. This is from an article by Rhonda Markby in the Timaru Herald 
    Boss can't find worker to replace Brit

    "Timaru businessman Stuart Cushing has not found himself a new employee.

    And his former employee, a man he would happily still be employing, still hopes to convince Immigration Services he should not have to leave New Zealand. The problems started for Mr Cushing and his employee of one year, Robin White, a month ago when Mr White was told his year-long work permit would not be renewed. Mr White and his family came to New Zealand from Britain for the start of what they expected to be a new life. 

    Mr Cushing had advertised a job vacancy, Mr White had applied, and the pair had worked together successfully.The problems started when Mr White applied for his work permit to be extended.
    It was not renewed as the Immigration Service believed there were New Zealanders available to take up the position, which involved carrying out building alterations for those with disabilities.
    Winz has been unable to find a suitable employee for Mr Cushing.

    He then advertised the vacancy, but of the four or five who applied, none wanted to work fulltime. As Mr Cushing does not have all the skills required to carry out the alterations himself, he is considering closing his company.

    Mr White has contacted Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew and Immigration Services to investigate options that would enable him to get a new work permit. That permit would also allow his family to remain in New Zealand after January 20."
    Another article by the same reporter "Temporary visa gives no guarantee" adds the following information:
    "Though about 30 per cent of all temporary workers gained permanent residency within five years, only 22 per cent of temporary workers from Britain did so. "
    Head of Immigration New Zealand is reported as having said:
    "The service's policy had always been based on ensuring New Zealanders had the first opportunity to fill job vacancies."
    But, as we've maintained before, if Kiwis were available/willing/able to do the work migrants would not have been brought in to New Zealand in the first place. Why force out gainfully employed migrants to free up their jobs for New Zealander's?

    How important is migration to the NZ economy? the words "life and blood" immediately spring to mind. In a recent conference on the Economic Impact of Migration in New Zealand Jonathan Coleman said
    "If we closed off immigration entirely the consequences for our economy would be profound. Without current levels of inward migration, within 15 years, both our population base and economy would shrink dramatically. The statistics speak for themselves.

    By 2021, our population would drop by 9.6 per cent.

    Our GDP would drop by 11.3 per cent.

    There would be a 10.9 per cent drop in the available labour force.

    The export sector would be savaged with volumes dropping by 12.9 per cent.

    And to complete the picture, GDP per capita would fall by 1.8 percent - $1,000 for every man woman and child in New Zealand.

    That is a frightening picture of a blighted future that illustrates in the starkest terms why immigration matters. If any doubts about this still persist, they must surely be extinguished by the findings of this very important report..." read more here
     So why take such a hard line on forcing migrant out of stable and secure jobs as their permits expire? on the off chance that there may be a New Zealander somewhere in the country that may fancy having a stab at doing it?

    For posts about other migrants similarly affected see label :  Jobs for Kiwis
    See also:
    Migrants' Tales - excerpts from migrant accounts about the issues they face in NZ and a UK Daily Mail article "Expat's paradise lost in NZ's job crisis"

    Today's posts - click here

    Karmail Singh Refused Entry To Club Because He Wore A Turban

    In an incredibly dehumanising and insensitive example of both religious and racial bigotry gentleman Karnail Singh turned up to a lunch at the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club (ed. cosmopolitan?) to honour his service to the community and was forced to return home because "headwear" was not allowed in the club. According to Hannah Norton of the Manukau Courier:

    "Club staff told him the turban was "headwear" and wearing headwear in the club’s bar is against the club rules.He could wear the turban in the club’s function room but he would have to go through the bar to get to it. 

     photo Neil Duddy
    But Mr Singh says taking his turban off was out of the question – it’s a religious requirement that’s seen him wear it since he was six years old. He even wears a small one when he goes to bed. "This is not headwear – this is part of my religion," he says. "
    the article concluded with the following:
    "When approached by the Manukau Courier, cosmopolitan club manager Patricia Rangi refused to comment claiming the paper covered "only bad news"."We don’t have a comment – it’s old news and the guy is wrong."

    No. He wasn't.

    He was being asked to submit to the equivalent of a strip search before being allowed to enter a social club, it's only a special brand of warped logic that can accuse him for being at fault.

    But surely Pat Rangi's point of view isn't typical of many other New Zealander's?  I hear you ask. The story attracted pages and pages of responses from Herald readers and many of them supported both her and the club's stance. There are some very poor comments about religious tolerance and immigration. Here's the link if you want to read them, we won't be repeating them here.

     Today's posts - click here

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    NZ Farmers Plan To 'Factory Farm' Dairy Cows

    Reports are saying that farming companies and the government are locking horns over applications to set-up 16 factory diary farms in NZ.

    "Three companies* have applied to set up 16 new farms in the central South Island's Mackenzie Basin, keeping up to 18,000 cows in cubicle stables** 24 hours a day for eight months of the year

    In Parliament yesterday Prime Minister John Key said the Government didn't support it and Agriculture Minister David Carter had asked for urgent advice about how it was affected by the animal welfare code. (ed. we hope this is better for cows than for NZ's sows in stalls)

    Federated Farmers said the "so-called factory farming" cut costs, was environmentally friendly and would not tarnish New Zealand's international reputation."

    Are they living on the same planet as the rest of us?

    Ads like the above and images of "Anchor" cows merrily munching through acres of pristine green, green grass have been used for decades to sell NZ dairy to the world. It's naive to imagine that the average consumer, who already searches out free range eggs and poultry in the supermarket and is starting to do the same with pork products, is going to buy dairy from cows kept in stalls for the majority of the year. One can only guess what these penned cows will be fed on...palm kernel cake perhaps? NZ already buys 1.1 million tonnes of the stuff, second only to the whole of the EC.

     "We are lucky cows..."

    Ah but wait...New Zealand has a precedents for this. Dairy "giant" Fonterra (who have 'come out' against the proposal) already has a 35ha Chinese farm in Tangshan, Hebei province, east of Beijing. 3000 Freisian heifers arrived on the farm from NZ in May 2008 and the herd now has more than 4858 animals. The cows are milked three times a day, producing enough milk to fill 2  30-tonne tankers each day. It is a containment system, not pastoral, so the cows live inside and do not graze grass. See "Fonterra's feedlot farm in China underway". The construction of the farm was managed by Beca International, an employee owned independent company founded in NZ over 8o years ago.

    When John Key visited China recently with his "Gang of Seven" to drum up business for New Zealand the group included Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden and  Beca Group chairman Robert Durrant. We leave you to draw your own conclusions.

    And some farms in New Zealand already have the barns in place, such as this north Otago dairy farm at Papapkaio near Oamaru. It's only a 600 unit facility, but there's no indication of how long the cows will stay in the barn for each year. So are the current advertising campaigns already stretching the point?

     "there's no such thing as the great indoors, only our cows are free to roam all year round"

    Given the massive profits that dairy farming, in both NZ and China, generates for the NZ economy every year the politicians' objections sound like nothing other than political grandstanding. We predict that it is highly likely these plans will go ahead, and if the practice is shown to be successful many more farmers will follow suit.

    * Southdown Holdings, Five Rivers, and Williamson Holdings (source)

    ** TechniPharm - "BIG Farms, BIG Sheds, BIG Results" (click on link to see photos) are said to be supplying the massive concrete floored, cubicled sheds.

    They design units for herds of 100-3,000 cows. The cost of a 600 cow unit is thought to be $2-2.5 million. The largest shed is 135m (1.5 times the length of a rugby field) by 34m - 5,000sqm (4,590 sqm to be exact) Based on the given figures for the maximum shed and herd sizes (5,000/3,000) that seems to equate to a space of 1.53 - 1.6 square metres per cow, not allowing for walkways and channels, which seems very small.

    The argument that cubicled cows must be 'happy' otherwise they would simply stop producing milk is an invalid one - sows crammed into tight stalls bear multiple litters to full term and keep lactating despite their confined conditions and battery hens would've been phased out years ago if they failed to produce eggs.

    Later reports in the Timaru Herald stated that "The cows would be installed in cubicles for 24 hours a day for eight months of the year, and 12 hours a day for the remaining four months." and that the government were planning to stay out of the debate for the time being.

    See also:
    Cubicle dairy farmer fined 3 times:
    "Cornelis Zeestraten, also known as Kees, is the director of Five Rivers Ltd, which wants to build seven dairy farms near Omarama, with plans to keep up to 7,000 cows in cubicle stables 24 hours a day for up to eight months of the year. Zeestraten is also the director of Union Station Dairies Ltd, which owns a Tussock Creek (Central Southland) farm that was fined $25,000 by the Environment Court in August for unlawfully discharging dairy shed effluent to land. The company was fined $5000 in 2004, and $15,000 in 2007, for similar offending."

    "Plea to preserve paradise"
    Fragile ecosystems in the Mckenzie Basin are threatened by dairying expansion.

    "Dairy Farming - The factory farmed fool's gold"
    Page with links and resources from SAFE

    18 March 2010
    Dairy farms getting dirtier: Some regions in NZ have pollution compliance rates as low as 39% with significant damage caused to the environment.

    Today's posts - click here

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    New Zealand's Double Accounting On Carbon Credits

    The Guardian columnist Fred Pearce has published a response to the NZ government's rebuttal of his report last month about the country's shameful attempts at Greenwashing. (See 100% pure myth exposed by British press for background)

    In his most recent report he has accused the government of keeping two sets of carbons accounts. Even though he accepts that New Zealand is absorbing more carbon today than it was in 1990, he states that it is only a"bit more" and not enough to bring it under Kyoto compliance. He goes on to say that a spokesman to climate change minister Nick Smith told him that
    "those are not the only numbers. "The convention inventory includes a wider set of activities than under the Kyoto protocol." In a nutshell, the Kyoto protocol allows New Zealand to ignore what is happening across the wider landscape and simply report the growth of its 600,000 hectares of new forests, planted mostly during the 1990s.

    That sounds dodgy, though within the Kyoto rules. Even so, if these "Kyoto forests" had been specifically planted as part of a genuine policy to cut the country's long-term contribution to global warming – we might still applaud.

    Unfortunately it is not quite like that. Those forests are not long-term sinks; they are commercial plantations. As Smith's spokesman told me, they "are likely to be harvested in the 2020s". And, he added: "The government has no intention to ban the harvest." When they are harvested their carbon will return to the atmosphere."
     Which means that New Zealand is simply passing on the problem to a future generation to deal with when the forests are felled in 2020, a time in which even deeper cuts in emissions will be required.
    "The government's own civil servants seem to agree. The New Zealand Treasury recently called the carbon accumulating in the Kyoto forests a "contingent liability". It warned that negotiators should take this into account when agreeing future emissions targets – such as a Copenhagen deal on 2020 emissions.

    There is a final problem for New Zealand's carbon credentials. The government's scientists have, in the past couple of years, been reassessing all their figures in a way remarkably beneficial to the government. Last April, they reported to ministers of the incoming government that emissions from deforestation were almost 10m tonnes a year less than previously supposed "due to new data showing smaller trees being felled". Meanwhile, they said, the Kyoto forests were absorbing a quarter more carbon than previously supposed "due to the trees not being thinned and being planted on better soils.

    Cheat's Charter
    Very handy. But even Smith was moved to note the "volatility" of the numbers.
    A number of scientists have been pointing out for some years that the Kyoto rules on forests were an Achilles heel in the protocol. "If [countries] plant sink forests and make inflated claims for them, they know it will be impossible to either prove or disprove those claims. It really is a cheat's charter," warned Michael Obersteiner of the forestry division of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), a thinktank based in Laxenburg, Austria, back in 2000.
    It may not be cheating, but New Zealand seems determined to prove him right."

    Only brave soul has leaped to New Zealand's defence by stating that carbon will be sequestered in construction timber, whilst this may be true to a certain extent New Zealand households burn one heck of a lot of wood to keep warm every winter. One study of a large Lyttleton house with a floor area of 330 sq m, showed it used little electricity but more than 53,000KWh worth of firewood each year whilst another promoted as a zero energy home used an LPG heater and a log burner with a wetback. See NZ's high winter death rate and burning wood to keep warm

    In June of this year  the Environment Minister Nick Smith admitted that 10 NZ cities and towns are unlikely to meet air quality targets by the year 2013, saying that the overwhelming proportion of pollution is caused by home fires. And the solution to not meeting those targets?.....the goal posts will be moved.

    No doubt they too were made of wood.

    Today's posts - click here

    Genital Mutilation Of Children In New Zealand, Botched Circumcision Puts Child In Hospital

    We were all shocked to hear that genital mutilation is still carried out on children in the 21st Century in New Zealand. In a series of events that would not have been out of place in an account by Christopher Hitchens, a boy of 4 years old has been hospitalised after a circumcision operation  severed an artery in his penis, another boy aged 14 screamed in pain as his operation was performed. TV3 has reported:

    "The botched operation, which saw the (4 year old) boy require emergency hospitalisation, was performed at an unnamed medical centre in January by a general practitioner, assisted by a doctor unqualified to practice in New Zealand and the doctor's wife.

    The commissioner's report recommended the doctor in charge of the operation review which patients he performed operations on - "giving particular consideration whether he should undertake circumcisions in boys aged older than six months.

    "This case illustrates what can happen when a doctor is unfamiliar with, or chooses not to follow, recommended guidelines for a surgical procedure. It also highlights why patients (or their parents) need to be provided with adequate information so they can make an informed choice and give their informed consent."
    Informed consent? whose informed consent....the child was given no chance to withhold his consent, informed or otherwise. Such are the rights of the child in New Zealand.

    There would have been a national outcry and a swift prosection if this had been a genital circumcision and infibulation (botched or otherwise) of a female child, outlawed by Part 8: Crimes Against the Person of The Crimes Act 1961.

    The rest of the report is deeply disturbing and some readers may find the following distressing:
    "On arriving at the medical centre, the parents and the young patient were directed to the waiting room, with the doctor busy performing a circumcision on another patient, a 14-year-old boy.

    The family were concerned to hear the screams of the older boy.

    The clinic's manager, and wife of the operating doctor, told them, although the 14-year-old had been given the maximum dose of morphine, he was "too sensitive and could not handle the pain", the report said.

    The boy's mother told the commissioner the child was taken into the operating room, was given an injection, then cut into seconds later, before the painkiller had time to take effect.

    Seeing her son in pain caused the mother to start crying, at which point she was ordered out of the room by the doctor, apparently for passing her anxiety onto the child and disturbing him. About 10 minutes later, the boy's father was also ejected from the room.

    "We could hear our son crying for help and begging us not to leave him there by himself. He kept asking them to let us in but they wouldn't listen," she said.

    These unfortunate children were coerced, operated on and traumatised when it was evident that consent was neither properly informed nor maintained. No-one should have the "right" to inflict this on children in this day and age.

    Under the Crimes Act there is no defence that the person on whom the act was done consented to that act, or that the person charged believed that such consent had been given. But this only applies to female genital mutilation, we think it's time that the law is amended to include circumcision of males below the age at which they are able to give a proper, fully considered consent and that protection be afforded to all children in New Zealand.

    Some of New Zealand's closest neighbours have already introduced measures to limit the practice of child circumcision. The Australian states of Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania have stopped the practice of non-therapeutic male circumcision in all public hospitals.  with the Tasmanian President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Haydn Walters, stating that "the AMA would support a call to ban circumcision for non-medical, non-religious reasons" (Wikipedia)

    Further afield, in Canada "the Fetus and Newborn Committee of the Canadian Paediatric Society posted "Neonatal circumcision revisited" in 1996 and "Circumcision: Information for Parents" in November 2004. The 1996 position statement says that "circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed" and the 2004 information to parents says: 'Circumcision is a "non-therapeutic" procedure, which means it is not medically necessary. Parents who decide to circumcise their newborns often do so for religious, social, or cultural reasons. [...] After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.

    The British Medical Association provides "that “male circumcision is generally assumed to be lawful provided that it is performed competently; it is believed to be in the child’s best interests; and there is valid consent” from both parents and the child, if possible." The BMS stipulates that “competent children may decide for themselves; the wishes that children express must be taken into account; if parents disagree, non-therapeutic circumcision must not be carried out without the leave of a court; consent should be confirmed in writing."

    As far as we are aware virtually all of the 100,000 Tongan and Samoan males in New Zealand are circumcised. The procedure is not routinely available through the public health system so children are operated on in private surgeries and health clinics, at a cost of around $400. It is considered to be a “a solemn ritual” and an important male rite of passage carried out between the ages of seven and 15 years. “Being circumcised is sign of manliness and sexual prowess. Not to be circumcised can bring shame on a man and his partner and family.” source. It should be noted that it does not seem to be a 'religious' practice for many people and that it was being carried out in the Pacific Islands before the arrival of Europeans.

    Today's posts - click here

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Migrant Stories - Skilled Migrants Must Drive Taxis To Survive

    We've heard it many times - migrants have qualifications approved to gain permanent residency and then find NZ employers won't employ them because they won't recognise those same qualifications. It's madness, or perhaps xenophobic protectionism. Here's an article by David Kemeys in The (North) Shore Times to demonstrate the problem.

    Mehmet Mohammed has problems. He's an immigrant from Turkey - and a Muslim.
    "Camel jockey, sand nigger, bomb chucker - I've heard them all.

    "People are quite distrusting of me because they think I'm an Arab and I'm going to blow them up or something. Or they think I must own a restaurant or a kebab shop."

    Mehmet is an engineer - code for taxi driver where immigrants are concerned.

    And it is on Auckland's taxi ranks where the horrible waste of talent is brought into sharp focus. Checking at Auckland's airport seven drivers - all Indians - were a radiographer, two engineers, an electrical engineer, an accountant, a teacher and a blood analyst chemist.

    None can get work in their chosen fields for a variety of reasons, but mostly because their qualifications from Indian institutions are not recognised. Generally speaking they accept it with a shrug, arguing they came to New Zealand to secure a better life for their children.

    But two of those seven are planning to abandon their dreams of a new life and return to India, where they say the economy is booming.
    "The drunks are the worst. Some of them treat you like dirt, but I am not sure that's because we are Indian, or just because they are drunk," one of the drivers says.
    "I've been called an elephant jockey," says another.
    "I'm from Mumbai and I'd never seen an elephant until I visited the zoo here with my kids. It's incredible how ignorant some of the people are.
    "They think we all wander about like Gandhi or beg in the streets, but Mumbai is a very highly developed city."
    See also: Asians braced for a bashing- many Asians cannot understand why they are met with such hostility because they are meant to be sought-after migrants. Racism on the street is even directed at fourth generation New Zealand-born Asians who speak perfect English.
    Today's posts - click here

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Migrant Stories - A British Canadian's Perspective

    From this post was written recently by a British Canadian woman who'd returned to Canada after a spell in NZ. A good many of the problems she encountered are experienced by other migrants, she is by no means unique. (see Migrant tales from NZ)

    "My husband and I just left NZ 2 weeks ago after living there for 11 months and we are now back living in Canada. I was born in the UK, but married a Canadian. I lived in the UK until I got married in 1986, lived in Canada until 2007 and then we moved back to the UK. My husband has the right to live and work in the UK. We spent 7 months in the UK and in March 2008 hubby saw a job advertised by an Accredited Employer in NZ. (Google Accredited Employers for a list of employers who sponsor people to move to NZ)

    Our experience living and working in NZ was an absolute nightmare and it would take me days to explain why, it was mainly related to work, so may I suggest that you look into the following points extremely carefully before you make the move.

    - Make sure the job is what they say it is. Many employers lure people to NZ with great job offers and it turns out that it is not what they are making it out to be. I had a freind who was a NZ Police Officer, he told us that the NZ Police are one of the worst offenders for doing this and another friend who was in the Prison Service said the same thing. Some employers will hire you and not pay you. (That was my job, worked and never got paid a penny.) Still trying to get the money via a debt collection agency, but that's another story. I was ripped off by 2 different employers to the tune of $15,000.

    - You will pay for every visit to the Doctor, it ranges between $40 & $60 per visit, depending on which Doctor you get. That's if you can get a Dr., to regsiter with, as there is a definite shortage. The health system is like it was in the UK about 30 years ago, it SUCKS! If you are on expensive medication they have to apply for a special number from the government so you can get the medication and if they say no, then you either can't have it, or you will need to pay full price for it.

    Shopping - We found prices to be high, for both food and household items. Most NZ'rs buy stuff 2nd hand from Trade Me because they can't afford new things. Wages are low compared to what things cost. Amongst other things, a cooked chicken as big as your fist, costs $15.99. Yes, they really are that small. 3 Litres of milk is $6.79 and forget cheese. There are places like the Warehouse where you can get cheaper things, but most of it is imported from China and breaks within a few weeks, cheap tat, but you get what you pay for. Do your homework on prices and wages before you go.

    Housing - Oh my gosh, we have lived in many Countries, but NZ has to have the worst housing in the world. It's just like living in a shed at the bottom of your garden. No heating, no insulation and no double glazing and for this you can pay $350 A WEEK, yes we did. I am not exagerating here, most of the garages in the UK are better heated and insulated than the houses in NZ. The 1st house we rented was only 7 years old, no heating whatsoever, little insulation and no double glazing. Double glazing has only just been introduced as a requirement for new builds this year, so houses pre 2009 do not have double glazing and houses are cold! Mould is common place in 90% of all houses because the condensation is incredible. You will need to run a dehumidifier constantly and we bought oil filled raditators for heat because they were the cheapest source of heating if there is no wood burner and our electricty bill for ONE MONTH was $400!

    Cars & Insurance - Vehicles are expensive compared to the UK. A car which is 10 years old in the UK can be picked up for under 1000 pounds, the same car in NZ will cost you $5,000 and the mileage will be extremely high. You need a WOF, (warrant of fitness, which is the equivalent of an MOT) every 6 months at a cost of $55 each time. Car insurance is not mandatory, you don't have to have it and many people don't. If you do get it, it will cost you around $365 per year if you have full no claims bonuses, but take a letter of experience with you from your home Country or you won't get them.

    Telephones, Internet and TV - Cell phones, not a lot of competition here. You have Telecom and Voadafone, both are expensive and sim cards will cost you approximately $35 to buy and then another $20 for the minutes. Most people in NZ text as it is cheaper. Landlines, Telecom charges 45 cents per minute for long distance calls within NZ, shudder to think what the per minute rates for overseas were. I never used them I used a VOIP program on the internet for all my calls and texts which was next to nothing. TV, if you don't have Sky you get about 6 channels, same as Freeview, you pay $350 for a freeview box and only get about 6 channels, what a rip off. I couldn't believe the price of the Freeview boxes, especially as UK Freeview boxes can be picked up for 25 quid. Internet, not cheap. I paid $80 month for my internet, you can get slightly cheaper packages, but it's still too expensive. Mostly DSL, only get cable internet in the bigger cities.

    Utilities - Check out the real cost of electricity, gas, telephone, tv, internet before you go because none of these are cheap.

    Crime - Considering there are only 4 million people in NZ, the crime rate is horrendous for such a small amount of people. Police are understaffed and crime is abundant. Petty crime is rife and you just don't realize how much crime there is until you live there. Even my friend who is a NZ Police Officer admits the crime rate is extremely high and I myself am an ex Canadian Police Officer and I know what high crime rates are. Many criminals get away with things because the Police don't have the manpower. Boy racers are all over the place too. Kids who race their cars up and down residential streets.

    Weather - It depends on if you like rain or not. Maybe we were unlucky, but it seemed to rain constantly during the 11 months we were there. We had a few sunny days, nothing too hot, but the summer was nothing to rave about.

    People seem to think that NZ is the land of milk and honey. Nowhere on this earth is there anywhere like that. Having lived in many different Countries there are problems with every Country in the world, good points and bad everywhere you go. People leave their homeland because they think they will get a better life somewhere else. Well, it doesn't matter where you live really, life is what you make of it. You can't change a Country, you have to live with whatever you get. NZ for us had more bad points than good, that is why we left, but for you it will probably be completely different. Heavens knows we certainly did not go for the money. We went because we heard stories of a better life and more freedom etc. It didn't work out for us, my husband's job was not what they said it would be and he was incredibly unhappy.

    They often say "home is where the heart is" and this could not be more true. My heart is in the UK and for all it's faults, it's my 'home' and we will be returning there after hubby has finished his work here in Canada.

    For anyone who is thinking of moving out of their own Country, please do lots of research before you go anywhere. It is so easy to be starry eyed because living in another Country sounds romantic. When you actually have to live there, it becomes a different story completely. I wish I could take all the good little bits of every Country I have lived in and make a whole Country out of them, but of course we can't do that. Just remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Statistics in NZ show that 1,000 people EVERY WEEK leave NZ to go to another Country and may people who do immigrate there from the UK, end up going back."

    Today's posts - click here


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