Rod Oram at Newsroom talks to Mainfreight boss Don Braid about the business and its culture, New Zealand’s road-rail-port needs, having women on the Board (finally), operating in multiple countries and paying people on time.
It’s fascinating in many ways, not least because it shows the staggering amount of land confiscated in the Waikato – more than 1.2 million acres. The confiscations were made under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863.
The Crown created various laws in the 1860s to allow it to take land. The New Zealand Settlements Act 1863 allowed it to confiscate the land of North Island iwi deemed to have rebelled against the Crown. The Public Works Act 1864 let it take land for roads, railways, and other public works.
The Native Land Court, established in 1865 (and renamed the Māori Land Court in 1954), encouraged Māori to sell land to private buyers. But the Crown remained the biggest purchaser. It on-sold most of its Māori land, often for a profit.
By 1939, almost 100 years after the Treaty was signed, Māori retained just 1 percent of the South Island and 9 percent of the North Island. Land losses continued as the 20th century progressed, again supported by legislation.
You might also be interested in:
Map of New Zealand’s Māori Iwi – evolvingnewsroom
The New Zealand Wars – Te Ara
1863 land confiscation law – nzhistory.net
Excerpts from James Belich’s TV series The New Zealand Wars – NZ On Screen
Books about the New Zealand Wars – Te Ara
Timeline of the New Zealand Wars – newzealandwars.co.nz
How to Add Macrons to Māori Words – evolvingnewsroom
I notice that NIWA, New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, has a poster of Māori climate and weather indicators for download on its website. You can either grab the pdf or order a full-sized paid-for poster.
The weather (day-to-day state of the atmosphere, varying from minutes to weeks) predictors include:
- From Te Roroa: The sound of breaking waves up the valley = Approaching rainfall and inclement weather is expected
- From Te Whānau a Apanui: The plume from White Island lies to the left = Rainfall expected; The plume flattens and the end breaks off = Watch out for extreme weather
The climate (synthesis of weather, averaged over longer periods from months to years) predictors include:
- From Te Arawa: Flowering starts on the upper branches of Pohutukawa and progresses downwards = A cold and winter-like season will follow; Flowering starts on the lower branches and progresses upwards = A warm and pleasant season lies ahead
- From Kai Tahu: Early and profuse flowering of Tï kouka (Cabbage) tree = A long hot summer follows
A good companion read for the poster is this piece on Te Ara, New Zealand’s encyclopedia, about Māori customs around weather and the creation stories of where wind, clouds, rain and storms come from.
The only weather predictor I remember from childhood is: Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning, which the UK’s Met Office interprets thus:
The saying is most reliable when weather systems predominantly come from the west as they do in the UK [and New Zealand]… A red sky appears when dust and small particles are trapped in the atmosphere by high pressure. This scatters blue light and leaving only red light to give the sky its notable appearance.
A red sky at sunset means high pressure is moving in from the west so therefore the next day will usually be dry and pleasant. “Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning” means a red sky appears due to the high pressure weather system having already moved east meaning the good weather has passed, most likely making way for a wet and windy low pressure system.
When the dew is on the grass
Rain will never come to pass.
When grass is dry at morning light,
Look for rain before the night.
Why? If dew has time to form on the ground overnight, it means the night was clear without any clouds. Clear skies allow the earth to cool, and water to condense in the form of dew (or frost at cooler times of the year). If the night is cloudy, the clouds act as a heat barrier keeping the heat in and not allowing dew to form. This saying assumes that if the night skies are clear, the day following will also be cloud-free.
NIWA has a bunch of other posters for sale that depict, among other things, projected rainfall, what the seabed looks like around New Zealand, undersea volcanoes, and the country’s energy assets.
On a related note: If you’ve ever wondered how weather balloons are used in New Zealand, check out this post by Jacqui Bridges on the Met Service blog.
Tech journalist Bill Bennett wrote recently about how few tech journalists there are working in New Zealand and how even those few don’t write exclusively about New Zealand or for local publications. Like the rest of us, they go where the money is.
You can count the number of full-time technology journalists writing for New Zealand audiences on your fingers. Experienced local journalists are as likely to turn up on overseas publications as on local titles.
It means we no longer tell the best stories about local technology companies. We don’t report the ways New Zealanders deal with technology. A lot gets missed.
Bill scrolls through the main tech publications and tech sections of mainstream media and notes how many people are working at each publication and the pressures they are under – in a nutshell: not many people, they mostly wear two or three hats, the commercial realities are hard, writers are under pressure to produce a lot of content every day and “there’s not much time for reflection”.
This… explains why the IDG sites [Computerworld, for example] are full of overseas filler material. It keeps the pipeline full at no extra cost to the publisher. The stories seem to be picked at random. No thought is given to whether a story serves readers.
Amen to that. I’ve recently unsubscribed to some of these publications for that very reason (along with the fact that there’s a lot of repetition of stories across IDG titles).
Bill’s piece is well worth a read and it chimes with feedback I’ve been hearing for the past few years from developers and tech entrepreneurs in New Zealand. The following sentiments are typical:
You can send a press release in and they just run the whole thing, word for word. It’s bizarre.
Someone needs to do some decent reporting around cloud apps. I get a couple of sentences in to stories and think ‘that’s a press release’ and give up. That’s not what I want to read.
Some of the things they run are just wrong. I don’t mean a bit off, I mean just completely wrong. I know, because I was there.
I don’t mean to bag on tech journalists here; they get some good work done under difficult conditions and many of us remain regular readers of their stories.
But I think Bill makes a very good point when he says that the absence of a thriving tech media is not just bad for readers, it’s bad for the tech industry:
Leaders of New Zealand tech companies need to be aware of what is going on in their industry, not what someone’s promotional output says. They need intelligence, not propaganda…
Because overseas news feeds dominate the agenda in New Zealand, people buying here are more likely to hear about an overseas supplier than a local one. Investors will put their money overseas, skilled workers will look for jobs overseas. This is already causing problems.
The lack of balanced, impartial and thoughtful New Zealand technology journalism creates the impression there’s not much going on here.
But there’s a lot going on here:
- “TIN 100 & 100+ companies’ combined revenue at $8.3 billion (bln), with $6.1 bln chalked up in exports during 2013-2014 period” | Idealog
- A snapshot of our ICT industry, and how much it’s worth (from 2013 but still relevant) | Paul Brislen on NBR
- TradeMe is currently listing 489 jobs for developers
I haven’t researched the market and don’t know the size of the opportunity but I hope it’s sufficient to prompt someone to take a tilt at generating fresh, well-rounded tech journalism and making it pay.
Bill hints at having an idea about exactly that in his post. So if you have any thoughts, fire them his way.
Browsing the NZ Gazette, the government’s official newspaper, I came across a parcel of new official geographic names being approved and one or two discontinued.
This happens fairly often and this Land Information New Zealand page is a good place to get a heads-up. There’s also plenty of detail on the naming process, including a checklist for proposing a name and a flowchart describing the process.
All the names of all the New Zealand places (as in mountains and lakes but not as in street names) are held in the New Zealand Gazetteer of Official Geographic Names.
Official names are approved, discontinued or altered by the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB).
Among the 66 freshly approved geographic names announced in the gazette when I wrote this post were:
Blue Shirt Creek
Last but not least was Ugly River, a stream near Nelson. Welcome, Ugly River!
Any member of the public can make a submission either in support of, or objecting to, name change proposals.
I suck at local elections. They creep up on me. One minute I’m ‘so going to do some research on candidates and be an informed voter this year’ and the next there are thickets of hoardings around town, an unopened orange envelope on my kitchen counter, and only a few days left to vote.
Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that voting in local body elections is kinda complicated.
You can’t just rock up and wing it on the day like you can with a general election where, when all’s said and done, all you have to do is tick two boxes – one for a party, one for a candidate.
In a local election you have to do homework. Because not only do you tick a box for mayor, there are also boxes for councillors, community board members, regional councillors and sometimes licensing trusts and other organisations. Then you’re asked to rank a dozen or so folk running for district health board.
Which would be fine, except I don’t know who any of them are. They are not people I come across regularly on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or mailing lists or even in the news stories I read. I’m relatively new to the area and I’ve never met any of them in person.
There are no burning issues on the homefront (our road’s in reasonable nick, the rubbish gets picked up each week and we recently got a free tree trim to keep our hedge clear of the power lines) to push me one way or another.
So with a few days to go I’m studying the pamphlet that came in the orange envelope, which turns out to have the same two- or three-paragraph blurb about each candidate as the vote.co.nz website. The website, which I think is great, lets you ask questions of candidates, but few of us have and even fewer have answered them. I googled a bit too, and had a quick scan of news sites.
Not a lot to go on, really.
Nonetheless, working on the assumption that voting on light research is better than not voting at all, I tick boxes, rank candidates, and make the mailing deadline by the skin of my teeth.
Sum total of my contribution to local democracy: a few hours.
But as it turns out, that’s a few hours more than a lot of other people.
Voter turnout was really low this year: only about 40% of those eligible voted. That compares to a previous low of 44% in 2007, and to general elections where the turnout is much higher – 73% voted in the 2011 general election.
The low turnout surprised Local Government NZ president and Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule, according to NZ Herald. Yule said “it was time to look at all the options, although he did not support compulsory voting. He believed a shorter voting period and the use of ballot boxes and online voting rather than postal voting would help”.
Commentator David Farrar noted there was a general downward trend in voter participation worldwide and said he supports an online voting trial: “I think each year it’s going to get much worse with postal voting because the postal system is becoming less relevant.” Commentator Bryce Edwards told Stuff he thought it had been a “business as usual election” with “really not much on the line and very little to inspire everyone”.
The Government is working on a trial of online voting in 2016 and Local Government Minister Chris Tremain has said he will “ask the working group to consider whether it could be trialled earlier so it could be offered across the country”.
I’m all for online voting, assuming it can work securely, and I’m quite keen on the ballot box too – there’s something about the event of it that creates more of a focal point.
But while either development may make me more efficient at voting, neither will make me more informed.
I’ve still got to find a way to get to know the 30+ people whose names will appear on my ballot paper in 2016.
Better still, those 30+ people might want to find a way to get to know me – along with a bunch of other New Zealanders who currently feel out of the loop. Surveys undertaken by Local Government NZ found that lack of information was one of the main reasons for not voting:
• not enough information about the candidates – 31 per cent
• not interested – 14 per cent (One strain of thought is that since we pay way less tax to local authorities than we do to the national government, we’re less worried about what they’re up to)
• too busy – 12 per cent
• forgot/left it too late – 24 per cent
Will I do better next time? Who knows. But I might try these things:
- Follow councils and councillors on Facebook and Twitter and Google Alerts so I’m drip-fed information through the year. Some of it will sink in
- Attend a council meeting or two or watch the webcam to get a feel for how these folks work together
- Try to meet some councillors in person or at least see them in the flesh somewhere to get a sense of them as people
- Read the pre-election report ahead of the next election
- Ask/follow questions on vote.co.nz
Can councillors help me out? Yes, I think so. By doing these things:
- Follow me back on Facebook and Twitter and wherever else
- Share what you’re reading. You must read some interesting stuff – about the environment, urban planning, infrastructure, managing people or workflows or whatever. Share it. You could be a useful source of information to me
- Routinely post the nuts and bolts – remind me when the next meeting is, post a link to the agenda, the minutes, your schedule for the week – so I can slowly but surely learn the week-to-week workings of local government
- Go to events you wouldn’t normally go to. Maybe I’ll run into you one day
- Write more about what you believe in next time you’re standing, and answer the questions on vote.co.nz
Nice. New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) turned up in a Google Doodle on her 128th birthday.
The Parliamentary Library became a welcome retreat from what she regarded as the crass colonial life of Wellington. She was able to gain access to the library because of the political connections of her father, Harold Beauchamp, who was a personal friend of Premier Richard John Seddon and also had connections with the Chief Librarian, Charles Wilson.
New Zealand has 78 local authorities, with around 1600 elected members: mayors, regional council chairs, councillors, local board members and community board members.
- 11 regional councils
- 61 territorial authorities – 11 are city councils and 50 are district councils
- Six unitary councils – which are territorial authorities with regional council responsibilities
The Local Government New Zealand website has a wealth of information about local authorities and how they work, including maps such as the ones here: