The elected politicians say no, the unions say yes…. and the unions win

English: David Cunliffe, Charles Chauve (polit...

English: David Cunliffe, Charles Chauve (politician), Annette King and Grant Robertson at a post-budget public meeting in April 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Labour Party has elected through an entirely undemocratic voting system their new leader


David Cunliffe has emerged as the new Leader of the Opposition after winning the clear backing of the public and unions, but not of his Labour Party caucus.

Labour’s general secretary Tim Barnett said Cunliffe was elected by a majority in the first round of the three-way electoral college and said this gave the race clarity.

Cunliffe had received 51.15 per cent of the vote, followed Robertson on 32.97 per cent and Shane Jones on 15.88.

As expected, Robertson pulled the majority of caucus support with 47.06 per cent followed by Cunliffe on 32.35 per cent. Jones had 20.59 per cent support.

Cunliffe drew the most support from the wider party, at just over 60 per cent followed by Robertson at just under 27 per cent and Jones on 13 per cent.

Cunliffe was the overwhelming union favourite, taking almost 71 per cent of their vote.

The election process had been an “outstanding success” in terms of revitalising the party, Barnett said from Fraser House in Wellington where the announcement was made at 2.50pm.

“With this leadership election the Labour Party he embarked on and delivered a new and exciting and democratic process,” he said.

”In terms of party and public and party engagement it has been an outstanding success, it has unified the Labour Party and energised our grass routes.”

Barnett said there had been a high turnout from Labour members throughout and “Labour is stronger as a result”.

At David Cunliffe’s electorate office a huge cheer erupted as it was announced the MP had won the Labour leadership race.

Cunliffe had just arrived with wife Karen Price to address the crowd after the news was announced.

MPs Iain Lees-Galloway, Rajen Prasad, Sue Moroney, Carol Beaumont and Moana Mackey were at Cunliffe’s New Lynn electorate office to hear the announcement, along with dozens of supporters.

Party President Moira Coatsworth told the crowd Cunliffe had won with a clear majority to more cheers.

“David has been elected by a robust and democratic process and won on the first round with a clear majority. This gives him a strong mandate as leader and he has the full support of the Labour Party.”

Cunliffe had the leadership skills and vision “to win the trust of New Zealanders and take Labour to victori in 2014,” she said.

She introduced Cunliffe to his supporters as the next prime minister of New Zealand.

“I have no doubt he will go on to become a great Labour prime minister who builds a stronger, fairer and more sustainable New Zealand.”

Cunliffe told the crowd his election represented a new beginning for Labour and for New Zealand.  

“This contest has been a win for Labour and all those New Zealanders who currently don’t have a voice.”

He paid tribute to Grant Robertson and Shane Jones.

Robertson was a clear favourite of the caucus, getting 47 per cent support compared to Cunliffe’s 32 per cent on the first count.

Cunliffe said he believed every member of the Labour team would put the cause first.

“When we do we will win and when we win we will change this country. Our people have spoken. They have entrusted to all of us to join together and fight for a better future for all New Zealanders.

”Tomorrow morning would be the start of Labour’s campaign against the Key government,” Cunliffe said.

There was no indication yet of who would be deputy leader.


Labour’s public show of new-found unity could be just skin deep with some fearing blood on the floor within days of the new leader taking office.

Cunliffe could have an uphill battle winning over a hostile caucus after Robertson was confirmed as having the most support there.

One MP earlier warned that Cunliffe’s first days in the job would be crucial: “I reckon we will know in the first week or so how it’s going to go. If he can’t bring the group together then he’s shot.”

Camp Cunliffe insiders expected he would extend an immediate olive branch to rivals, retaining Robertson in the crucial deputy’s position if he wanted it. A source within Cunliffe’s team also expected there to be a number of Robertson supporters retained in senior portfolios.

This suggested Cunliffe would adopt a similar strategy to Prime Minister John Key when he was appointed leader of the Opposition. In a day-long strategy session at his Parnell home with leadership rival Bill English, Key divvied up front-bench positions and caucus rankings in a deal that secured unity.

This was also the successful strategy used by former Labour leader Helen Clark to unite warring factions after she promoted the leaders of an uprising against her.

But any attempt at brokering unity could come unstuck if Cunliffe attempts to appoint a whip over the incumbent Chris Hipkins, who publicly tore strips off Cunliffe after Labour’s divisive annual conference last year. The whip’s position is usually only held by someone who has the full trust and confidence of the leader and there are rumours Cunliffe has promised the position to Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway.

But the position can only be changed by the caucus, leading to a potentially bloody battle between Robertson supporters and Cunliffe if Hipkins refuses to stand down.

There could also be acrimony if Cunliffe demotes the so-called “old guard” – Annette King, Trevor Mallard, Phil Goff and Ruth Dyson – whom Camp Cunliffe accused of running the campaign against him during the last leadership spill.





Disturbing trends….

Reading this article today on I was quite surprised to see that in New Zealand men over the age of 80 are most likely to commit suicide of all age groups


Baby boomers risk pushing our already high suicide rate to new levels as the rate of elderly people committing suicide skyrockets.

The baby boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1965) was a large group that had carried with it higher rates of suicide at all ages, a world expert on older adult suicide, Professor Yeates Conwell from New York, said at a conference in Auckland last week.

“So as [baby boomers] move into later life, a period of increased risk, the number of suicides may rise higher,” he said.

Conwell said there was no conclusive evidence as to why the suicide rate among the baby boomer generation was higher, but our statistics back the disturbing trend.

Statistics released by chief coroner Neil MacLean showed men aged 80 and over have higher rates of suicide than any other age group in New Zealand.

In the year to June, nine men aged 85 or older committed suicide at a rate of 31 per 100,000. Three women of the same age committed suicide at a rate of six per 100,000.

The total number of suicides for any age group over the 2012/2013 June year was 541, a decrease of six from last year, and two less than the average number of suicides over the past six years.

Conwell, a geriatric psychiatrist, said common contributing factors to older people committing suicide included clinical depression or other mental illness, physical illness and functional impairment, and social disconnection.

Marie Hull-Brown, a mental health promoter at the Mental Health Foundation, said the figures were distressing but “not surprising”.

“Seeing friends die, family moving away and one’s home becoming increasingly hard to maintain are losses that are hard to bear, and older people may become depressed about their ability to manage alone, yet not want to see their GP about the black dog that sits on their shoulder.”

Conwell said there needed to be improved detection and treatment of depression in older adults, social programmes to reach out to isolated seniors, and access to good health care that allowed them to remain as independent as possible.

If you or someone you know is feeling depressed contact the following services, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week unless otherwise specified.

Lifeline, 0800 543 354; Depression Helpline, 8am to midnight, 0800 111 757; Kidsline, for children up to 14, 4-6pm weekdays, 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline); Suicide Crisis Helpline, noon to midnight, 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO); Youthline, 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email; or email or free text 5626 (emails and text messages will be responded to between noon and midnight).

I had always assumed young men (16-25ish) would be our worst statistical area. I had an interesting conversation with my wife about over medicating the elderly with anti-depressants the other day (she is a physio in a rest-home), maybe she was wrong……

Also bring the euthanasia conversation backs into the limelight


Australia’s Earthquakes…. maintaining journalistic integrity

My good friend Ele over at homepaddock is the champion of the writer, the advocate for the wordsmith, but I am not even sure she can justify getting behind the writer this article!

In fact it is so far wrong I am going to put the whole article in

Update: Severe Earthquake Strikes Australia / Correction – New Zealand

Severe Earthquake Strikes Australia

Our publisher and editors deeply apologize for the errors in this article. To preserve our journalistic integrity, we have decided not to change one word of Tom Ukinski’s article. However, our team of reporters are working as fast as possible to provide you with the most accurate news and information covering the recent New Zealand earthquake. We expect to provide you with an update shortly, right here on this page.

Thanks for your patience.

(Original Report, without corrections below)
A severe earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 has erupted in an area 20 kilometers east of Seddon.

Seddon is a suburb 7 km west of Melbourne, Australia, with a population of about 4,851 people. It is located in the state of Victoria on the southeast tip of Australia.  The shock effects of the quake have been felt as far away as Napier, in Western Australia, 3,302 kilometers (2,066 miles) from Melbourne.  This suggests that the path of the quake is along the southern part of Australia.

The intensity of earthquakes is measured by the moment magnitude scale (MMS).  Events with magnitudes greater than 4.5 are strong enough to be recorded by a seismograph anywhere in the world.

The death toll for earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.0 to 6.9 can reach 25,000 people.  A large number of buildings in populated areas can be destroyed.   The damage can be experienced far from the epicenter. (Wikipedia)

The depth of the quake near Seddon, as of 5:09 p.m., was 19km, which is over 11 miles deep.

Earthquakes can occur up to 700 kilometers below the surface.

There is an average of one earthquake per year in Australia with a magnitude of 5 or greater and a depth of 0 to 70 km.  (USGS)

By:  Tom Ukinski

People’s feedback on facebook and other commentary has been around what a mistake that has been made, and this is true it is a giant stuffup! But what floors me is the effort it takes to get it so wrong. To put Napier in WA and Seddon in Victoria takes a certain kind of stupid. I also find it absolutely disgusting in a breaking new article like this to write about a 6.0 to 6.9 earthquake causing 25,000 deaths, this kind of sensationalist ‘journalism’ disgusts me.

I had to complete 3 years of training to undertake my profession, one of the lowest in health. I also undertake yearly CPD to maintain and grow my knowledge. Apparently smarts are not so important for journalism!

Also, to the best of my knowledge there are subeditors, editors and proofers, surely someone knows where NZ is in the world!


When NZ being 1st in the world is not a statistic to cheer about

Sad news yesterday of another young life lost in NZ


An 18-month-old boy has died after being run over in an Auckland driveway this afternoon.


The child was initially taken to hospital in a critical condition where he later died of his injuries.

Emergency services were called to a home in Otahuhu, South Auckland at 2.20pm.

Police said they were still working to find out how the accident happened.

With at least 24 children killed in the last six years New Zealand is the worst country in the world for toddler driveway deaths.


24c children in six years, 24 grieving families and a nation that needs to reduce this awful stats

Thanks for listening!

Recently I sent an email to the folks that run the National Arboretum here in Canberra

Good afternoon,

My family are kiwis living in Canberra. We have twice been to get photos of our baby daughter taken with the Kauri tree planted by Prime Minister John Key.

Our plan is to take a photo each year showing the Kauri and our daughter both growing up in the ACT.

Both times we have been no one is able to tell us where the tree is exactly.

I would have assumed important trees would be marked on a map and also have a plaque, but clearly not. This is pretty disappointing.

Are you able to please give some guidance?


I was hoping to get some sort of indicator from the folks of the Arboretum on where to find ‘John Keys Tree’, here is the response I received a few days later

Hello xxxx,

Your email has been sent to me. First of all, my apologies for our lack of signage in some parts of the site. The Ceremonial Tree Plantings in the Central Valley are one of the areas we need to provide more information about. You are right, clearly labelled plaques would help. Better maps and signage for the trees in the Central Valley is planned, please be assured. In the meantime, I have moved the information about the Ceremonial Tree Plantings so it might be a bit easier to find – perhaps you have already seen the information and photos on the Arboretum’s website at:

Have you tried to find the tree in the Central Valley, and couldn’t, or no-one directed you to the Central Valley for the Ceremonial Trees? You may already know that the Central valley is that huge zig zag that stretches from the main entrance right up to the Village Centre, and the trees are planted in the patches of ground in the zig zag area, near the Village Centre.

I looked at our map of the Tree Plantings in the Central Valley and found the kauri you are referring to, I think, planted by PM John Key on 20 August 2009. On the attached technical drawing, the kauri is near the top of Central Valley, closest to the Village Centre, about 8th or 9th tree down – can you see it on the version of the map? I have made the attachment low resolution so I didn’t overload you with a large file – the original is 20 Mbs. Please let me know if you can’t see it and I’ll send you a higher resolution map.

An easier way to find the kauri might be to contact xxx who works here and is in charge of the Ceremonial Tree Plantings. It may be before her time at the Arboretum, as well as mine, but she would probably be able to direct you to the right tree – she knows all the plantings. Her work phone number is xxx, email:  She only works Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but perhaps you could arrange a time to visit the Arboretum when xxx is here and she can help you find the tree for sure. She is recovering from a knee injury and so won’t be able to walk with you the whole way, but she can direct you from the North Deck to make sure you find the right tree.

You may be interested to know there are other trees from NZ in the Arboretum – this information is now on our website at:

Austral   New Zealand Agathis australis (C. Valley & Trial Lot)Podocarpus totara

Pseudopanax ferox

Sophora microphylla   


New Zealand Lancewood


I hope this helps, and please contact me if you need any further information.


What a great and helpful response!

So thanks guys, appreciate the comprehensive email back, I look forward to getting a photo of our bubba with the tree. John, if you are in town any time, we could get a photo with you, the tree and my daughter?


A symbolic end point for Christchurch

Brill tram No 178 on the Christchurch Tramway

Brill tram No 178 on the Christchurch Tramway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Great news for Christchurch today

The final cordon around Christchurch’s quake-damaged city centre was lifted today, bringing to an end the Defence Force’s longest-ever domestic deployment.

Hundreds gathered as the last barrier to the CBD red zone was officially lifted at a civic ceremony at Worcester Boulevard this afternoon.

The cordon has been continuously staffed by soldiers in the 857 days since the city centre was closed following the deadly February 22, 2011 earthquake.

Prime Minister John Key thanked about 120 members of the Defence Force in person as the soldiers were dismissed from duty today.

What an amazing piece of information, 857 days since the earthquakes. So wonderful for Christchurch to have that cordon lifted

Even more impressive is the numbers given by defence



* 4: Navy ships used to carry 1707 tonnes of vehicles and equipment and 375 personnel in and out of Lyttelton

* 10: Air Force aircraft used to carry 4278 passengers and 122 tonnes of freight in the initial response

* 129: Singapore armed forces personnel who initially helped the Defence Force and police on the cordon

* 152: Army vehicles used in the response, including 77 Unimogs, 47 Pinzgauer light operational vehicles and 28 light armoured vehicles

* 857: Days the CBD red zone cordon was in place

* 1796: Uniformed personnel on the ground at the height of the Defence Force response on March 2, 2011

Well done NZDF, stand proud