Showing posts from January, 2015

Thanks Russel, You Deserve a Break.

One of the reasons why I am a member of the Green Party is because our values and policies always come first and we try to avoid engaging in personality politics. Facilitating change is more important to us than chasing power alone. Interestingly because we are not reliant on our leaders to carry the full weight of our Party's fortunes we tend not to sack them so readily and this has provided us with a high level of stability. Over the 25 years of our party's existence we have have only had four leaders (under our co-leader system), while National has had five and Labour seven.

Russel Norman's announcement today that he is stepping down from his co-leader role from May was another example of his measured and thoughtful approach to politics. Russel has devoted nine years to the position after stepping up when Rod Donald died unexpectedly in 2005. He had waited to announce his resignation until after the Summer break to ensure he had space to properly reflect on his decision…

Liar, Liar!

New Zealand politics was transformed overnight after five year old Jack Smith of Mataura made a birthday wish. Little Jack had become increasingly concerned at how unhappy his parents had become because of John Key's government. Every time the PM or one of his Ministers appeared on TV his father would yell "liar!" and his mother would use bad language that he was given time out for. The only way he could imagine his family could ever be truly happy would be if those government people had to tell the truth, so he wished that very thing before blowing out his five candles.

John Key was the first to realize that his natural facility for spinning a good yarn had abandoned him when he attempted to make his State of the Nation speech. In front of a stunned crowd he explained in detail how much money they planned to make from selling off state houses and how useful it will be to shift the responsibility for social housing away from the Government. He also explained how profita…

Eleanor Catton is Not Alone

Eleanor Catton is a remarkable young woman. She was the youngest writer ever to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the youngest to have won it. The status of this award is considered by many writers to be equal to the American Pulitzer Prize and second only to the Nobel Prize in Literature. Catton was made a member of the New Zealand Order Of Merit in 2014 and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Victoria University.

Eleanor Catton was widely reported internationally as feeling uncomfortable in being an ambassador for New Zealand:

"At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, (is dominated by) these neo-liberal, profit obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture," Catton is quoted as saying.

"They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want. I feel very angry with my government."

Dame Anne Salmond has huge academic credibility…

The Great Zucchini Glut

A few weeks of fine weather and our zucchinis (courgettes) are growing at a rate that is almost visible. The collection featured in the photo above are today's harvest from three plants. I am aware that dealing with these prolific producers is a common problem for home gardeners and eating them every day becomes tedious.

There are heaps of delicious online recipes involving zucchinis being baked, fried, grilled, boiled, barbequed or shredded and eaten raw. We have tried all of the above but have three favourite ways of using them.

1) Shredded and frozen. My wife found this is a quick and easy way of processing the vegetable and having an out of season supply for soups and baking.

2) Zucchini Fritters. This is a recipe from Alison and Simon Holst's Meals Without Meat (1990). The original included a red pepper puree, but we just tend to use our own plum or gooseberry sauce or eat them just as they are.

2 free range eggs
1 large garlic clove
3 cups of shredded zucchini (firmly pa…

Turei Ratana Speech Justified

Andrea Vance's claim that Metiria Turei's planned speech had soured Ratana proceedings was a bit rich and hypocritical given the context. Bill English even had the audacity to say in response that the Greens were "a bit nasty when they can be" and "barking mad on Treaty settlements."

For Maori woman like Turei, Key's comments last year were hugely arrogant and an insensitive slap in the face of tangata whenua. The Prime Minister displayed unbelievable ignorance in claiming, "In my view New Zealand was one of the few countries in the world that were settled peacefully." This ignored the 3,000 who died in the New Zealand Land Wars, the 1,600 people violently displaced from their home in Parihaka (many consequently dying while in forced labour and imprisonment) and the many other violent injustices occurring under early British rule. It isn't even as though the violent colonisation was old history, the violence against Maori has continued wit…

RMA Changes, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

The National Party’s agendas never change, less government and regulations and more freedom for employers and businesses (regardless of the social and environmental impacts) is what they desire. These goals will negatively impinge on most voters, so they have to be framed in a way that hides their true intent.
This National Government enthusiastically embraces the neoliberal approach of using real or created crises to justify ideological but largely unnecessary changes. We saw it with the cuts in services in ACC, school closures in Christchurch, attacks on beneficiaries and the fast-tracked anti-terrorism legislation.
The government has also fabricated crises to shift attention away from other more pressing concerns (child poverty, diabetes) and create solutions for problems when neither is supported by strong evidence. Using clever framing and minimal detail it also makes it difficult for the opposition who can be seen as being petty and obstructive when urgent action is apparently nee…

Neoliberal Economics Limits Food Choice in Southland

My first post for the year probably reflects the fact that I have spent a good amount of time in my garden. Watching my garden thrive in our current patch of good weather and harvesting a variety of vegetables and fruit has made me appreciate what a wonderful environment we have for growing food.

Southland doesn't produce good bananas, pineapples or kumera, our climate isn't warm enough for them, but we do grow great potatoes, gooseberries, rhubarb, currents, apples and swedes. My wife makes a delicious gooseberry sorbet that we love in summer and a gooseberry crumble in Winter that is par excellence. It seems strange to me that, gooseberries and currents are not grown in commercial quantities here and they are not commonly sold fresh in our local supermarket.

At one time our local dairy used to stock a small amount of locally sourced fresh fruit and vegetables (and even bought some of our gooseberries when we had more than we could use or store), but no longer. Supermarkets …