Cover me!

For many of us, “Cover me!!” means we’re about to do something that may not turn out well…not so much a military “Hold My Beer!” as this needs doing and I’m going to need to some help… Covering fire is a little more personal than the good old ‘Fire mission, Regiment’ and other such methods of registering one’s unhappiness with a given individual, object or grid square…

But there’s other ways of providing cover…

Be honest, you all had a snigger when you saw this one, like, der, man…

It would be nice to think that it would be possible to deter ANZ New Zealand with a massive show (or application – I was, after all, the Force Application lead for most of my four years in the Air Force) of force/might/power. Even it such force/might/power was available, poor old ANZ New Zealand is like a mega-dinosaur controlled by a myriad of different brains that don’t talk to each other that well, if at all…any effect registered by one is unlikely to affect the others…

With ANZ New Zealand, the only brain that counts is its ego, the bit that gets worried when it might look bad; the one whose worst nightmare is a world where all its bribes of super-low interest rates (coincidentally announced just after the release of the FMA/RBNZ report on banks’ conduct in New Zealand)  or the millions of look-good dollars that it invests into sports… Like the cool kids at school, looking bad is what ANZ New Zealand fears the most…it cancelled the auction of my home to prevent 1 News running the story on it…

The path to ANZ New Zealand’s main ego brain is indirect…for any direct approach to work the brain would have to care and the simple truth is that ANZ New Zealand doesn’t care what you say to it, because ‘the people’ are beneath it, beneath the executive team, beneath the board, beneath the CEO who ‘earns more in an hour’ than most Kiwis take home in a week…instead the path to ANZ New Zealand’s care factor is external and three-fold:

The Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden nicola.sladden@bankomb.org.nz and the Chair of the Banking Ombudsman Board Miriam Dean  miriam.dean@barrists.co.nz

The political realm, especially those elected representatives who have been supportive to date. They have been looking at the changes necessary to close off all the remaining loopholes relating to banks’ lending. 

The media who play a canny game of what to release when…

to be continued…(nothing worse that a looooong post….)

It’s actually not about covering me…it’s about covering each other…

An Open Letter to Sir John Key

Dear Sir John

I am writing to you in your capacity as the Chair of the board of directors of ANZ New Zealand.

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On 8 November, ANZ will be forcibly auctioning my home. It is doing this to recover debt that accrued after ANZ, through its then subsidiary the National Bank of New Zealand, to my ex-partner’s company. Through Antonia Watson [Managing Director Retail and Business Banking for ANZ New Zealand] I understand that my case has been discussed within the board, so you are probably aware of it.

Update 22 November. ANZ cancelled the auction at the last minute, probably because it was uncomfortable about the media questions. Instead, it is trying to sell my home through a forced sale by tender that closes on 30 November. This method is unlikely to realise the same return as an auction, as ANZ tries to avoid the media spotlight.

For the last five years, I have been challenging this lending with ANZ on the grounds that it should have disclosed or even sought my approval for any extension of credit against my guarantee. ANZ’s position is that it had no obligation to disclose this.

There is no direct legislative compulsion for disclosure on ANZ for company lending as there is for personal lending under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003. That notwithstanding, ANZ’s position is weak at best:

  • The Code of Banking Practice places an obligation on ANZ to act fairly and reasonably towards its customers, in a consistent and ethical way. ANZ’s conduct in extending these loans to my ex-partner without disclosing them to the guarantor was neither fair, reasonable or ethical. ANZ’s conduct since I first raised my concerns with it in the way it has withheld information, misrepresented the law and fabricated information has also been neither fair, reasonable or ethical. ANZ has been consistent however that’s not always a good thing.
  • The Code also places an obligation on ANZ to only provide credit or increase a credit limit when the information available leads it to believe the customer will be able to meet the terms of the credit facility. It is difficult to accept that a company with inconsistent income and a director earning less than $50k p.a. could meet the terms of lending on loans totalling over $400k.
  • Most importantly, the Code places specific obligations on ANZ to inform any party providing security, of the customer’s obligations when a credit facility is approved. ANZ has stated that the Code’s requirements in this area apply to guarantees and security differently. While that may apply for some banks, ANZ’s own documentation, including the original guarantee and loan documents, lists guarantees as forms of security.
  • Various bank officers have said that ANZ does have an obligation to disclose lending to guarantors.
  • In 2016, ANZ accepted my position without qualification or modification. It reduced my liability under the guarantee to the value of the one loan that it not only disclosed to me and but for which it required my approval. ANZ staff have said that this was a result of my persistence arguing my case. This reduction (approx. 75-80% of the debt at the time) is not the action of a bank that is in the right.

If I was an independent guarantor, this reduction might be attractive however as the company remains joint property, I am still liable for 50% of its total debt. I have argued that the total debt should be reduced to this amount and that this reduction should take effect from the time that I first raised my concerns.

I do not hold my ex-partner responsible for this additional lending against her company. During the period of this lending, she was not well and recovering from what we know now was a serious head injury. By concealing these loans from me, ANZ denied me any opportunity to make informed decisions about continuing the guarantee or to prevent of mitigate her lending.

ANZ’s position is further weakened by its conduct since I first raised my concerns

  • I requested that ANZ keep me informed of the company’s financial position. ANZ said that it had no authority to disclose this information. When I finally obtained copies of the loan documentation in 2016, there was a specific clause authorising disclosure of this information to guarantors. ANZ had no grounds to withhold this information from me.
  • Further to that request, in 2012, the Privacy Commissioner determined that information relating to jointly-owned property used as security under a guarantee should be considered personal information for the guarantor and be releasable to the guarantor when requested. It is not credible that ANZ would not be aware of this determination.
  • ANZ has cited the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 as preventing disclosure of this information to me. That is not true. By definition, this act does not apply to company lending. It is not reasonable that ANZ would not know what legislation applied to various lending circumstances.
  • To support ANZ’s position that the Code of Banking Practice, a senior manager fabricated a definition of ‘security provider’ that he attributed to the Code’s glossary. In truth, this term does not appear in the glossary or the text of the 2002, 2007 or 2012 versions of the Code.
  • ANZ told us that the company’s default on its loans would affect our daughter’s home as well. As a result, her and her partner cancelled their wedding and took on considerable additional debt to renovate it to increase its equity, so they could get an independent mortgage. Once they had committed to this course of action, ANZ changed its mind and apologised saying that staff had look at an incorrect title.

ANZ’s conduct has added extra years to the resolution of this issue. It has also caused immeasurable stress on me and members of my family. In your position and the chair of the board, I am requesting that you encourage the board to:

  • Cancel the impending auction of my home on 8 November.
  • Recalculate any debt from November 2013 when I first raised my concerns with ANZ. The delays from this point are a result of ANZ’s conduct and we should not be penalised for them.
  • Honour ANZ’s acceptance of my position in 2016.

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In writing to you at this time, I note the massive profit just posted by ANZ New Zealand, recent comments by yourself and ANZ’s CEO, Shayne Elliott, on the conduct of banks in New Zealand. ANZ has also recently removed incentives for retail sales and I would offer that such incentives may also have been a factor in this reckless lending.

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ANZ has suggested I take responsibility for my actions – I am happy to – but in this case I would respectfully suggest that it is past time for ANZ New Zealand to take responsibility for ITS actions and do the right thing…

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#predatorfreeNZ #ANZdotherightthing #ANZNewZealand

PDF version: Letter to Sir John Key

The little dog that ran away…

…pretty well sums up my day…three times I’ve been out in the rain chasing the little ratbag…I didn’t used to worry too much but she has been out on the road a couple of times now…

…she ran away at breakfast time, just in time for a fire call across to Whakapapa Village; got back to confiscate the tunnel and fill in the wooden horse…the next time, I was a little slow with the door bringing in firewood and was almost late – but definitely wet – for my FENZ annual health check; for the trifecta, she bolted past me as I was loading the RARO laptops for a SARTrack training session at the school, putting in an appearance at the gate and being confined – noisy little yap dog – in the back of the truck til I finished fire training – fun with extinguishers – tonight…

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Our movie treat – and it truly was a treat – tonight was Darkest Hour, the lesser known story of Britain’s darkest hour in May 1940 when all appeared lost, the German juggernaut unstoppable and poised to cross the Channel. When surrender, at best, negotiated terms, was entirely on the cards as Britain stood alone…when  the unpopular and anguished Churchill defined the fate of the nation…

I was singularly unimpressed by last year’s Dunkirk; the semi-comedy Finest Hour was more Dunkirk than Dunkirk…Darkest Hour captures that time, with France and the rest of Europe fallen, a disastrous and expensive campaign in Norway that achieved naught when Britain had to chose between standing and falling…

The pivotal underground scene probably never happened, some artistic license around the great man’s occasional habit of delving into the people. I don’t remember it from any of the histories or bios that I have read and we’ll probably never know what brought Churchill to the point of open defiance and the legendary speech that concludes:

…we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

The full text is on the Churchill Society site, or listen to it:

It’s worth a listen as Churchill describes the collapse of campaign in France. This is indeed mobilising language and sending it into battle, a rare art…

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Little dogs aside, it’s been a good day, a community day…I should have been writing letters and continuing the campaign but after so long, I’m just over it. Someone came up to me in the Village today and said that he used to be in the banking industry and knew a bit about it. He’d read something I had written a couple of days ago (detail hereand just wanted to make sure that he’d understood it. “Here it comes” I thought, “finally the reverse smoking gun from someone who knows that points out an obvious hole in my campaign with ANZ”.

But no, he agreed with me, for personal and commercial lending, disclosure of additional lending to guarantors is expected and required. This is what is so frustrating…giving up and walking away is just not me, even less so when everything I know says that we;re in the right…but how do you poke the bully in the eye hard enough to divert it from its course?

Five years ago, this all started with an ANZ branch manager; now it’s been escalated all the way to the board of ANZ New Zealand Ltd who still intend proceeding on their juggernaut path; who had the gall to suggest that poor ANZ might not be able to recoup all the money it loaned so recklessly; who really don’t seem to get the concept of taking responsibility for their actions, or as leaders, the actions of their subordinates…

They may be trite but the words of Ben Parker still ring so true…

With great power comes great responsibility…

Actually…Voltaire said it first: With great power comes great responsibility.

Others prefer a more-recent attribution, citing Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in Spiderman.

Winston Churchill said: The price of greatness is responsibility.

But the sentiment rings true…maybe Antonia Watson, David Hisco and their bud son the board need to reflect on that and do the right thing

Identity | The Daily Post

Find inspiration in one of the popular topics on Discover. For this week’s Discover Challenge, focus on identity. You may use it simply as a one-word prompt, or tell us what the word means to you. Or you might publish a sketch that represents who you are or how you feel today, a poem about identity in our digital age, or a personal essay about who you once were.

Source: Identity | The Daily Post

I began drafting this post around the time of one of the recent active shooter incidents in the US. It says so much that such incidents are now so frequent that I cannot remember which it was, possibly Orlando…

The aftermath of each of these incidents is marked by bitter ‘weapon’ versus ‘ideology’ outbursts and exchanges. I do not thing that either side really gets the issues: each tragedy is little more than an excuse for each camp to dust off (not dust-off which is a far more noble act) respective meme collections.

It is America’s right to have whatever laws, rights and responsibilities that it wants to inflict on itself. I have no more problem with the Second Amendment than I do with the Fifth although I would offer that the rights of the Second should be read and applied in the context of their context i.e. as the people’s contribution to a well-regulated militia…the key phrase being well-regulated.

The ‘right’ to espouse an ideology probably falls under the First Amendment…the one that protects free speech…but again that comes with responsibilities. We have probably all heard of, if not actually read or heard the actual words, Oliver Wendell Holmes “crying fire in a theatre” quote. For the record, this is what he actually said to give context to those words:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.

Those legally bent or who just like to read some exceptionable well-written English can read Justice Holmes’ full opinion in the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute Web site.

Contrary to the good Justice’s opinion – the key work in his theatre analogy is ‘falsely’ – in the information domain, the random and rabid shotgunning of the information militia (plural) is as destructive regardless of whether it has elements of truth or fact or not.

Every time those ideological memes fly, their sole function, intended or not, is to fan the flames of ideological conflict. As much as I thought it needed work (thought #1, thought #2), what we are seeing is the phenomenon that David Kilcullen theorised in The Accidental Guerrilla: the more something is ‘fixed’, the worse it gets. This is the irony of irregular warfare.

With regard to the active shooter incidents in America, there is another factor in play that may not be present or which is certainly less present in incidents. A large element of American psyche identifies with the ‘main in the white hat’, ‘one riot, one ranger’, the rugged individual standing against all odds, etc. This ethic is quite commendable and certainly not unique to the US. What sets it about in the US though is the accompanying mindset that a gun is what you use to resolve an issue.

We’re not on any sort of moral high ground here or in Australia where the national equivalent is a punch in the head, or the desire to deliver such but that ‘message’ has to be delivered up close and personal, it cannot be delivered from across the street or even across the room; and it is far easier to neutralise. In the UK, or parts thereof, the local equivalent maybe a cloth cap or the good old ‘Liverpool kiss‘…again, attacks with limited projection or lethality from afar…

It is this overwhelming cultural drive that guns solve problems that is America’s challenge. It’s not how many guns you have or what sort they may be. It’s not what you believe or who you disagree with. It’s not how accessible guns or unsocial ideologies may be. Those may all be separate concerns  but, weapon or ideology, it’s the drive to resolve what angsts you with a gun that is the problem…

Jump to 1:02 The Lone Rider

I love those rugged individuals roles immortalised by Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Jan Michael Vincent, etc etc but I don’t build my life around them. When I have a beef with the local council or my employer or the grit truck driver or the mailman, I don’t feel I have to to take a gun to resolve the issue or make myself feel better.

It is one thing when the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred. It is quite another when those worlds begin to overlap…where the ‘final option’ becomes the only option…

Having said that, we can hum ‘Imagine‘ all we like…COIN 101 reminds us that cultural shift happens over generations but being honest about the problem is the first step towards a solution…

Tourist | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt Tourist.

Source: Tourist | The Daily Post

I’m not really into the tourist thing…most places I go I like to slip away, wander around, and mix with the people…pix of me doing the tourist thing are thus few and far between…

Me in Hawaii

Mandatory posed pic, tourist luau, Oahu, 1988

Mark and Ricki's Wedding - Fiji 58

Doing the tourist thing, Fiji, 2003

To sugar tax or not to sugar tax…

stuff pick your drink

To sugar tax or not to sugar tax…is that the question..?

In a recent post, Masterchef judge Ray McVinnie supported the call for a tax on sugary drinks…

I couldn’t agree more with Niki Bezzant who in her Herald column this morning called for a tax on sugary drinks. Her petition is a great idea and the beginning of a social change movement to curb the processed food industry’s use of ingredients and technology that is simply bad for our biology.
The test for the harm such food does to humans is the fact that any population that abandons a traditional diet for one made up of western processed foods becomes sick and in the words of American chef, Alice Waters, dies a long slow death. She also says that there is no such thing as cheap food, you either pay now or pay later!
The processed food industry is in a similar position to the tobacco industry thirty years or so ago. No one could quite believe that smoking was harmful and industry resistance was strong. Think about attitudes to tobacco today.
As for worrying about the effect on low income people, this type of processed food is unnecessary, there is still lots of good food that people can afford, no matter your income.
But one thing that is never mentioned is cooking. Teaching people to cook is like giving a hungry person the fishing rod not the fish. It gives people power over their diet, teaches people about food and expands their food choices.
There is no point forbidding everything if you don’t give people an alternative. Once people know how to create their own food, the toxic products of the processed food industry become irrelevant because you don’t need them.
It also reinforces the important socialising effect of home cooked food because it is generally served at the shared table, the place where you learn to behave.
I am not advocating trying to turn the clock back as that is impossible and ridiculous, as are naive ideas like using other things to make food sweet.
Face it, any food that is sweet is made with sugar in some form or a chemical sweetener (stevia is perhaps an exception, but sweetness is still an addictive flavour wherever it comes from).
Well done Ms Bezzant, more please.

I think that Ray somewhat looses the plot about halfway through his post. He starts and finishes by applauding the call for a ‘sugar tax’ but wanders in between to advocating for better education in preparing food.

He compares the processed food industry today with the tobacco industry of thirty years ago but misses the connection that increasing the tax on tobacco has not been the big nudge to drive smokers to drop their habit. If anything, the biggest motivation for smokers to give up has been the banning of smoking in bars, especially in winter when the attractions of a smoke are outweighed by the unpleasantness of the weather.

Increasing the tax on tobacco has not caused a massive reduction in the numbers of smokers in New Zealand and it is unlikely that a tax on sugary drinks will drive any great improvement in national health statistics. Considering statistics on the consumption of tobacco and alcohol, it is more than likely that consumption will remain much the same.

It would be nice to think that an increase in the tax on sugary drinks might be accompanied by a reduction in the tax on fruit and vegetables. While I would personally support this, as I consume far more fresh fruit and vegetables than I do sugary drinks, I don’t think that it would create the desired effect: healthy people would get healthy, unhealthy people would continue with their unhealthy habits….just look at the smoking lobby or those who drink to excess and/or by habit…

Sugary drinks and fresh fruit and veg are chalk and cheese and cannot be managed in a tit for tat manner: those who prefer one over the other will continue to do so regardless of cost. Those less affluent will always find money for those perceived needs over the staples of life and wellness. Thus, faux comparisons like cauliflowers v Happy Meals do not help the cause for an effective information and education programme. Try buying your kids a head of cauli as a treat and see how far you get…everything has its place…

Two key truisms about taxes are that they are usually unfair to someone and people will always find a way around. It would be as effective to create a tax that targets those with an adverse BMI figure…

The body mass index (BMI) or Quetelet index is a value derived from the mass (weight) and height of an individual. The BMI is defined as the body mass divided by the square of the body height, and is universally expressed in units of kg/m2, resulting from mass in kilograms and height in metres.

wiki bmi table

Source: Wikipedia

That way, would we not be targeting only those adversely affecting by an over-sugared diet? Of course we wouldn’t! Any tax-based attempt to change people’s habits is doomed to failure. Similarly we would require all couches to trigger a minor electrical shock every 30 minutes to ‘encourage’ their occupants to get up and do something. Do you think Dunedin would the only place in New Zealand where couch burning is a recognised sport..?

dunners couch burning

The key is not nanny state tax manipulation but, as Ray points out – kind of – information and education.Even with the best information and education programmes, though, we do need to accept that not everyone will get the message and climb aboard…we can only save those want to get aboard the lifeboat…

Don’t get me wrong…I am concerned about the average health of our people, to the extent that I have tagged this post under ‘countering irregular threats’: not only this is a greater threat to New Zealand than more commonly accepted irregular threats like terrorism or crime but the solutions (yes, plural!) also lie in similar approaches i.e. the changes necessary to create a positive effect will be drive by culture not by mandate or coercion…

AS I SEE IT(24 March)

nanny state

By Terry O’Neill.

Are we becoming the world’s“cotton wool country” an extension of the old “nanny state”? Before we begin to leap in the air in an over indignant protest against what too many will claim are “ infringements of our rights” let’s take a good look at the first health and safety reform in a couple of decades.As you land back on your feet for the first time, the new reforms refer only to paid employees not volunteers. So any person who owns and/ or is a paid organiser of an event ,comes under the new rules. Thus if anything goes wrong the owner is liable for prosecution but the new compliance requirements are bigger and prosecution is higher.So does this mean that organisers of  the Coast to Coast,Christmas parades,school activities, multi sport races, bike races and marathons may  become things of the past as the owners/organisers fear personal liability prosecutions.Many such people are calling in auditors to check their events against the new reforms.

Locally this mean that any event which is run by a paid organiser comes under the new reform?It’s just not limited to workplaces which have paid staff, but the law does not apply to a group of volunteers where nobody is paid as an employee.

It is believed by many that the reforms are really the product of the Pike River mine disaster where twenty nine people are killed, but government denies this stating that its concern is about the high level of deaths and serious injuries in the workplace. So why place paid individuals such as school teachers responsible for the health and safety of students placed  in the same basket as national industry?And why are ordinary New Zealanders being asked to bear the brunt of the increase in workplace deaths.

With fines of up to $600,000 some principals have considered putting their personal homes into trusts so that they will not have to sell homes to pay fines or maybe to avoid gaol times in extreme cases.But others say its simply a case of the more detail being released to assist clarification.

Will this mean that clarification will create a more sensible application of the reforms? Apparently not as such reforms will apply to sports clubs who employ staff.Examples from one bowling club would suggest the opposite.It’s been informed that any steps must be painted so players and visitors could see that they were steps, and signs had to be put up in the shelters warning against sitting on the top rail,in case someone falls off.And the coat racks had to be taken down in case someone impaled themselves upon them ,while any pointed edges had to be wrapped with rubber so that people will not be injured.So if you have a club that runs tournaments more dollars will be required to get your facilities up to scratch.

George Orwell of 1984 fame will be smiling wryly I’m sure.

ENDS

NNNN

AS I SEE IT(4 March)

By Terry O’Neill.

What? Volunteers made redundant?

Volunteering is an integral New Zealand response whereby people selflessly offer services, skills and time for the benefit of others. Every community has people who do their bit with grace, skill and charm.

It can be a two-headed coin. Each volunteer gives to meet a particular need and is often surprised to receive a sense of accomplishment, fellowship, and contentment, the blessings of true generosity.

 A recent Oamaru Mail article on Girl Guides in North Otago suggested the national body is “revitalising”, whatever that means, so it can fulfil its goals of developing self-esteem, confidence and leadership, and a centralised business and administration arm will reduce the work of volunteers in these fields. But to maintain the national “ivory tower”, annual fees for each Girl Guide must be increased from $180 to $300, though in some cases there may be a decrease. Some local guide leaders believe the fees may push the movement into an elite club beyond the reach of many including loyal families with Girl Guide members throughout generations.

When former Prime Minister Rob Muldoon introduced the “think big” philosophy mixed results evolved, and now it appears some organisations which survived, and indeed grew, applied this philosophy in a very practical way. The Society for the Intellectually Handicapped (IHC), Save the Children (SFC) and Riding for the Disabled (RDA) are but three which experienced, and resisted in some cases, the nudges or heaves towards centralisation. Many local branches had a rich complement of competent volunteers before top-of-the-tower decisions effectively attempted to bypass this invaluable resource of experience and support. “Bigger would be better”. Maybe.

Centralisation appears to require paid “executives” whose salaries enable them to direct and organise the remaining, often disillusioned, volunteers. And this rejection of volunteer input ultimately affects the vitality and growth of local support for the national body and its dedicated services.

It’s a New Zealand “thing” to support financially what we believe to be worthy  organisations. I wonder how many find it offensive when a wealth of attractive glossy material regularly is sent out to squeeze even greater donations from already dedicated supporters of the institution?  Exactly how much of each regular donation contributes to such simplistic unsolicited expensive-looking material.  Many charities come to mind.  Surely regular voluntary subscribers could be spared this practice? Sincere volunteers and supporters are too valuable to be treated with disrespect.

Sports bodies are feeling the impact of a smaller volunteer base, and I don’t apologise for bringing this up again. Often loyal supporters hold positions of responsibility for long periods, and are the butts of criticism because nobody is willing to ‘step into their shoes’. Eventually, burnt out, the stalwarts eventually take their skills and drop off the code’s radar into oblivion.

In these days of semi-professional sport, there’re suggestions from some volunteers that those getting paid should do all the work!  But is this just a cop out?
    

ENDS

AS I SEE IT (5 FEB)

By Terry O’Neill.

The local rugby season kicks off on 2nd April. Leading up to it local clubs will mirror other Heartland clubs and battle to e

 

nsure full premier squads, an increasingly difficult assignment.

Polynesian players are an integral part of the Heartland scene. Many unions made derogatory comments about North Otago’s inclusion of Pacific Island players but North Otago was simply the forerunner of today’s necessity. A couple of seasons ago former All Black and Mid Canterbury lock  Jock Ross told me that some Mid Canterbury clubs only survived in premier ranks because of inclusion of Pacific Island players. Similar to all other Heartland unions.

The all-important necessary visas for Pacific Island players are not easily obtained and often are only for a set time. In some cases Pacific Islanders arrive on student visas to attend school, and play rugby, and others can apply for work visas under a skills’ shortage category or there is the specific purpose or event category, a rugby visa, for one year that may be renewed.

The North Otago Rugby Union does not actively recruit Tongans who generally arrive because of family or friends here. NORFU CEO Colin Jackson said the Union tended to go to Europe, USA or Canada for recruitment and over the past eight years more than 70 players have been under this scheme in North Otago.

Putting aside claims from some white rugby supremacists, without Polynesians there would be no premier rugby locally because of our small population base. Polynesians’ natural talents see many promoted to the top of the North Otago rugby tree to fill the gap created by the lack of other skilled young local players.

But it’s not one way traffic. Over the last two northern seasons local players, Jeremiah Shields, Keegan Anderson, Kayne Middleton, Thomas Shields and Jared Whitburn, all spent a rugby season overseas. It’s not only a rugby experience they benefit from, it’s a life-enhancing experience too.

In addition local rugby clubs Athletic, Kurow, Excelsior, Maheno and Valley have made direct contact with overseas rugby unions and clubs and obtained players.

It’s a conundrum how Immigration NZ treats Pacific Islanders. For instance, French, Italian or Argentinian players may live here for a year or eighteen months without any problem while most Pacific Island players work visas entitle them to be here for only six months and they’ve got to head home if they have no other suitable employment skills to offer in New  Zealand.

Clubs and minor unions don’t seem to receive much support from the New Zealand Rugby Football Union. When will NZRU boffins realise that to ignore the deterioration of New Zealand’s rugby base will not augur well for those higher up the rugby food chain? And in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji  how long will they be able to retain their World Cup status?

ENDS

Something wicked….

3500

A couple of days ago, a friend had what he called a rant on Facebook…

Religion is not to blame for all the world’s problems. If you believe that the eradication of religion will fix humankind then your faith is more misguided than those you believe you are better than.

Religion is not the problem. If you believe there is no God (or Gods), then people cannot be doing God’s will. Therefore their actions are their own, and they choose to commit atrocities. This would indicate that the behaviour is in their (or our?) nature and is not the fault of religion. It cannot be both fantasy and the font of all evil. People will always find excuses for their actions.

I get to mix with many religious groups of different faiths and denominations. The vast majority are communities of people who are interested in living their lives with generosity, selflessness and tolerance. They do this actively in their wider communities – actually practising being nice to people without trying to convert them. Sometimes they seem like the last bastion of selflessness in our materialistic, consumer, celebrity-focused society. Working with them is refreshing.

Religion is not the problem nor the solution. It just is. However there are some evil bastards who will use any tools at their disposal for power. They should be the targets of our wrath, not the constructs they seek to pervert for their own means.

And… rest.

Wherever you sit in the political spectrum, whatever deity or belief system you may or may not support, this is a pretty damn fine summary of the foe we face in the second decade of the 21st Century.

For almost two and a half decades, we have submitted to the myth that war can be precise and sterile, safe almost, despite all contemporary and historical evidence to the contrary.

That ‘Greatest Generation’ succeeded because they mobilised their nations to defeat evil…not 8-5, not Monday to Friday, not just those who cared or those who needed the work…defeating evil is not something that others do…

That more may have died in less publicised and less public locations takes nothing from the attacks in Paris nor does it count that Paris once committed an act of war against us…Paris now is exactly what it is…a deliberate goad to the West…some people should be careful what they wish for…something more wicked this way may come and it’ll be looking to settle some scores…

What happened in Paris last week was evil. Sponsored and spurred by a small group of ‘evil bastards’…who will not be swayed let alone defeated by Tricolour photo filters…nor even the red of spilled blood…only the cleansing blue-white fire of instant sunshine…