NZ News from Anythingforyou.co.nz -Jan /feb 08
22 Feb 2008
Hello and welcome to the January /February edition of NZ News.
We’re back after a bit of time off to enjoy what’s being described as a ”Classic Kiwi summer”. It just seems to have been a bit of an old fashioned summer for some reason with lots of people comparing it to those childhood summers where the days always seemed long and warm! Of course it’s not all good news with farmers throughout the country facing drought-like conditions and the hydro lakes looking just a little light on water for the coming winter. But hey, it’s such a nice day!
On the news front it’s been a period of some big stories in NZ. Sir Ed’s death takes the number one slot with a chapter in NZ history being closed with his passing. The return of the stolen war medals is also a moment that will no doubt be remembered. The whole story of how this came about looks like it may take some time to really come out, if we ever find out the real truth. In big business news Fonterra seems to have accepted the feedback of it’s members and any partial float of the giant monolith now looks unlikely. Politics has been as entertaining as ever with both Labour and National trying to get the upper hand early, in what is sure to be a very hard fought election year.
As always we have tried to bring you all the big stories making an impact on the country and its people over the last couple of months so you can keep in touch with the big news at home.
Owner –Anything for you ltd
THE DEATH OF A TRUE KIWI LEGEND
January 11 2008, the day Sir Edmond Hillary passed away is sure to become a key date to be remembered in NZ history. He died with his family at his bed side from a heart attack following a long period of ill health at age 88.
Though Hillary achieved his fame through his adventures to the top of Everest and the ends of the earth, he felt his greatest achievements were the ways he had helped the Nepalese people. He established the Himalayan Trust in 1964 and spent the rest of his life working to ensure that he gave back everything he could to the people who helped him reach the top of the world. The Trust has built schools and hospitals designed to help the local people achieve a better life through their own efforts. Even after his death his widow suggested that people wanting to make a gesture should donate to the fund to help ensure his life’s work continues as he would have wished.
After a 24 hours lying in state for the public to pay their respects, Sir Ed was sent off with a State funeral before being cremated as he had wished. Speaking on the topic of his own death he had said "I've never had any desire to end my days at the bottom of a deep crevasse - I've been down too many of them for that to have much appeal: I'm a somewhat fearful person and would prefer to go peacefully if that were possible. "I should even like my ashes to be spread on the beautiful waters of Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, to be washed gently ashore maybe on the many pleasant beaches near the place where I was born. Then the full circle of my life will be complete."
What a great Kiwi.
END OF THE GOLDEN WEATHER FOR NZ HOUSE PRICES
All of the Reserve Banks efforts last year seem to be finally paying off, with a serious slowing of the NZ housing market occurring in the face of high interest rates and the rising cost of living. NZ is also starting to experience a bit of negative migration with a net outflow of more than 28,000 kiwis moving permanently to Australia last year the highest level since 1988.
The latest figures show house prices are down 12% on average in two months with sales volumes falling to their lowest levels since 2001. A glut of houses for sale has meant the time to sell a house has stretched right out and this is expected to have a continuing downward pressure on pricing.
Some economists fear that the slow down is happening too fast and we could see prices fall as far as 25%. This sort of hard landing would signal a recession and force the Reserve Bank to slash interest rates again to stop the economic damage. Others are more optimistic and think a 5-10% correction should be reasonable given the dramatic growth of the past few years. Most seem to agree however that whatever happens we won’t see any easing of rates from the Reserve Bank in the immediate future.
DODGY DEAL NETS RETURN OF NATIONAL TREASURES
In a sudden twist the priceless collection of medals stolen from the National War Museum in Waiouru have been returned unharmed. With the medals safe, the question is now turning to how did this turn of events occur and what was done to achieve it.
The medals were returned by Auckland criminal lawyer Chris Comesky after what he described as a very long process which involved at least some of the NZ$300,000 reward money being paid out. He has said he was able to make contact with the thieves through his criminal connections and eventually negotiate the medals return. He would not say how much money was paid out or to whom. The negotiation was very cloak and dagger and included secret symbols such as a beer bottle left in an office window to signal to the criminals another meeting was required.
Since the original story broke two others have emerged, both variants on the first. One is that Daniel William Crichton a criminal with connections to Black Power and the Head Hunters gangs had been given bail twice on serious drugs charges as part of a deal with police to get the medals back. Crichton had said the contacts and arrangements were made by him so he could get out of jail and he just used his lawyer Comesky as an agent for dealing with the authorities. After these comments however a man claiming to actually be one of the thieves came forward to Campbell Live for a protected interview in which he disputed Crichtons role but apologised to the nation for the unintended hurt they had caused by stealing the medals. He said they had realised what a mistake it was after the public outcry but needed to take their time returning them to ensure they were not caught. He was unkeen to discuss the reward money by admitted he would be getting some of it though they could have got much more on the black market.
With the risk of the medals being destroyed by the thieves to cover their tracks now gone Police will now be focusing very hard on bringing these seemingly media savvy crims to justice for the theft.
FARMERS TAKE BACK THE REINS AT FONTERRA
Fonterra has announced that after “feedback” from their members they will be pushing back the vote on the future structure of the company to 2010.
Originally due in May, the initial vote was intended to give the company the mandate required to allow it to begin the long term process of splitting into two companies one of which would seek at least a partial public listing.
It seems the key issues lie around the way the milk prices would be set through this public company and member farmers are still far from convinced that there is benefit in sharing control.
Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden said it was a consultation process that would continue and the board still hoped to achieve its preferred option and list by 2010.
NZ HIJACK DRAMA
The attempted hijacking of a regional Air NZ flight has raised questions about the security of flying in NZ.
A Somali woman who had entered NZ as a refugee and was “known to police” attempted to hijack a flight between Blenheim and Christchurch and get the pilots to take her to Australia. She was armed with two knives and told the pilots there was also a bomb in her luggage. Being a small regional flight there was no security or baggage checks carried out and the woman was able to simply carry the knives on board the plane. As they are just small commuter planes there is no separation between the cockpit and passenger cabin and the woman was able to undertake her hijack effectively without leaving her seat in the front row of the plane. The pilots were able to convince her the plane could not make it to Australia but both were injured while subduing the woman once the flight had touched down in Christchurch.
She has appeared in court and been sent for psychiatric assessment.
Civil aviation are reviewing security measures but say it is not economical to provide full security procedures at small regional airports.
It’s election year and we can pretty much expect all out war between Labour and National between now and polling day, which is predicted to be in November.
Both parties started the year with a message about sorting out our “lost/troubled” youth. National got in first with John Key’s state of the nation speech suggesting something had to be done about the “time bombs” that are our youth criminals. His suggestions were a one year boot camp /rehab /education style programme. This programme would involve identifying our top 1000 youth criminals and removing them from their current environment, replacing it with a focused programme to turn them around. They would also lower the age of criminal liability allowing the youth court to deal with problem children sooner and with harsher penalties. For the (not criminal yet) school drop outs they would provide free training courses to 16/17 year olds but would stop those who did not participate from receiving benefits, ending the direct path from dropping out into the welfare lifestyle.
Labour went the education route with a plan to raise the school leaving age to 18 and make it compulsory to stay in some form of education until then. The move is designed to help address NZ’s skills shortages and raise the level of achievement students are leaving school with. The plan, which would involve developing some new apprenticeship and business association relationships for 16-18 year olds, was generally seen as a bit of a flop in the wake of Keys much more intervetionalist and targeted approach.
No doubt both parties will have their scandals this year but currently it’s Labour getting a royal roasting in the press after it turns out they just might have been doing favours for their most generous benefactors and might have lied about it to the press!
National raised the issue of Owen Glenn a Kiwi shipping magnate who lives in Monaco. He was well known for giving Labour a $500,000 donation but Labour Party president Mike Williams told reporters this year that he had not donated since. As it turns out he actually gave the party a $100,000 interest free loan last year which amounted to an $8000 donation based on the lost interest. Helen tried to explain this away by saying it was a loan not a donation and even the interest would fall under the 10K limit for donations to be disclosed. Did we mention he’s also just got a Gong and is being considered for honorary consul in Monaco? As it turns out Williams may have suggested the role to Helen and having mislead the public over the loan he offered his resignation. Helen refused it however saying it was just a simple mistake to forget a $100k loan from one of your best mates. Also turns out Winston who is considering Glenn for the role (as Minister of Foreign Affairs) might have got $100K from Glenn last year too. As they say.. If it looks like a dog and barks like a dog…. Not looking to good for the Labour lead government right at the moment.
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