Sensible News Items

For those of you with a serious frame of mind, here are a few news articles that I think are just useful or interesting…

Wellington Windfarm has Formula One winds

June 8 2011

Meridian Energy may have to adjust some turbines at the country's biggest wind farm near Wellington because of the power of “Formula One” type winds. During inspections, the state-owned enterprise has identified a number of bearing faults and has had blades patched at the West Wind farm at Makara. The farm's 62 turbines are covered by a warranty and Meridian was carrying out inspections before it ran out.

Wind maintenance manager Russell Thomas said of the 27 turbines inspected, six had bearing problems. “We're not freaking out, put it that way. This is standard for any site, that's why you have a warranty.”

The company - in line to be partly sold if a National Government is re-elected - would assess long-term maintenance issues during the next two years and might have to change the angle at which some blades face the wind, he said. “We won't have to take any down but what we might find is that under certain wind conditions we have to de-rate the machines to take some of the stress out of it.”

Thomas has worked in Britain and the United States for seven years and said turbines had to be re-calibrated at some projects. Seven turbines at West Wind were generating above 50 per cent capacity. The worst-performing machine was operating at 25 per cent, which would be considered “average to good” in Europe.

NZ Herald Windfarm

Unemployment rate falls to 6.6pc, dollar jumps

May 5 2011

New Zealand's unemployment rate has come in lower than expected in the first quarter, indicating the labour market was more resilient during last year's economic doldrums. The jobless rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 6.6 per cent in the first quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand's Household Labour Force Survey. That's lower than the 6.7 per cent forecast in a Reuters survey, though the December quarter's data was revised down to 6.7 per cent from the 6.8 per cent reported when unemployment unexpectedly widened.

The kiwi dollar jumped after the report was released.

The labour force participation rate crept up 0.8 percentage points to 68.7 per cent, the highest level since December 2008, in a sign jobs are becoming easier to come by. “There has also been a steady rise in trend employment since the September 2009 quarter,” said Diane Ramsay, labour market statistics manager at Statistics NZ, in a statement.

Going to the beach? Keep an eye out for sharks

NZ Herald Dec 22 2010

Warm early summer seas around northern New Zealand are attracting increasing numbers of sharks. Sightings have been reported off Tauranga, and one marine expect says sharks are probably present off most sandy coastlines.

Department of Conservation marine scientist Clinton Duffy believed sharks were looking for food or to drop their pups. Mr Duffy said sharks could be present anywhere in the upper half of the North Island where there were sandy open swimming beaches. “The Rangitoto channel, the Waitemata Harbour, the Motuihe channel, Tamaki through to Thames, all up around North Cape, Ninety Mile Beach, Raglan, Piha, Muriwai, everywhere.”

He advised: “I would say to people that if you see a shark in the water, get to the beach quickly and quietly without drawing any more attention to yourself than you already have.”

NZ scores fifth place in world prosperity stakes

New Zealand has been ranked the world's fifth-most-prosperous country, with the highest level of education and civil liberties, by an international think-tank. But Kiwis' belief in their economy and society appears to lag well behind.

The Legatum Institute, part of a Dubai investment group, issued its annual prosperity index yesterday. The group was founded by secretive Kiwi billionaire Christopher Chandler, who has bankrolled unique projects for the developing world, including a business school that nurtures original ideas to alleviate poverty. Mr Chandler, who grew up in the Waikato, has featured on the Forbes rich list with an anonymous silhouette - no public photo was apparently available.

The ranking of 110 countries combines economic factors and measures of happiness and quality of life, including surveys about personal trust and safety. Overall, New Zealand came fifth, just after Australia and five places ahead of the United States. Norway took the top spot while Britain was 13th.

In a breakdown of New Zealand's scores, the institute judged the country's education system the best in the world, with particular recognition for gender equality and the number of teachers, which inspired “high levels of public confidence”.

The institute also held New Zealand's “highly democratic” government in high esteem, saying it was “extremely effective in implementing policies”.

New Zealand's civil liberties were deemed the world's best - although New Zealanders' perception of their liberties was 10 spots lower, at 11th. New Zealand's tolerance towards immigrants and ethnic minorities was also seen to be among the highest in the world, ranking second and third, respectively.

Index ranks NZ least corrupt

New Zealand is among the least corrupt countries in the world, according to Berlin-based Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.

The 2010 index ranks New Zealand alongside Denmark and Singapore tied for first place with scores of 9.3. At the other end of scale, Somalia is rated the most corrupt with a score of 1.1, followed by Afghanistan and Myanmar on 1.4.

Australia came in eighth with 8.7, the United Kingdom 20th on 7.6, and the United States 22nd with 7.1.

New Zealand AAA rating stable (NZX )Oct. 1 2010)

New Zealand's Aaa credit rating is underpinned by the nation's relatively low level of public debt and likelihood that a government of any hue will maintain fiscal and monetary discipline, says Moody's Investors Service.

The rating outlook is stable, said Steven Hess, a senior credit officers at Moody's, in an annual report on the country. The top rating is based on New Zealand's “high economic strength, very high institutional and government financial strength, and very low susceptibility to event risk,” Hess said. Successive governments “of whichever party, will maintain a policy of low debt and fiscal soundness.”

The report says the impact of the global financial crisis was less severe than for other triple-A rated sovereigns, with New Zealand's “flexible and market-oriented economic policies” helping support growth and provide a buffer to external shocks. Economic growth is likely to “remain sound” while probably tracking at a lower pace than the 3.3 percent average annual rate between 2000 and 2007.

Growth in household spending is likely to be more subdued as New Zealanders seek to deleverage after debt levels surged in the build-up to the GFC. Gross government debt as a proportion of gross domestic product is expected to climb to a range of 32 percent to 33 percent during 2011-14 before beginning to decline.

Still, calls on the government retail deposit guarantee and additional costs from the Canterbury earthquake may drive the ratio of state debt to GDP even higher, Moody's said.

New Zealand wine Prices at bargain levels

Wine drinkers can expect to enjoy bargain prices for a while yet, New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan says. The industry is still struggling to shift the glut of wine from the 2008 and 2009 vintages, while at the same time finding that consumers in a recession are unwilling to splash out on wine.

Even top-rated brands are being offered at slashed prices on special at supermarkets, specialist wine stores and websites.Some highly-regarded wineries are cold-calling customers on their contact lists, offering wines at lower prices than their own cellar-door operations. “I don't think we'll see the end of the bargains any time soon,” Mr Gregan said. “Wineries are still dealing with the overhang from previous vintages.” An example of the bargains is Vidal Estate Merlot-Cabernet 2008, which has been as low as $10.99 at Countdown supermarkets. Normally priced around $20, this wine topped Cuisine magazine's recent tasting of New Zealand merlots.

However, Mr Gregan said the industry was starting to lift itself out of the slump caused by over-production of Marlborough sauvignon blanc in 2008 and 2009. Price-cutting to move these wines dragged down prices of other varieties. “We've seen some lift in bulk wine prices,” he said. “This time a year ago bulk sauvignon blanc was selling for under $2 a litre and now it's just under $3, so it's coming up a bit.

“There has been a big increase in bulk shipments of wine from New Zealand, but at the same time there have been increased shipments of packaged New Zealand wine. Our winemakers are trying very hard to lift their prices and Delegat's is lifting its prices in Britain by 1 per bottle. (NZX)

Christchurch's 'miracle' quake explained

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake turned some buildings into rubble, sent brick chimneys through house roofs and knocked homes off their foundations - but no-one died.

Why? We asked four leaders their views.

University of Canterbury lecturer in active tectonics Mark Quigley said the Christchurch earthquake was similar to the one that hit Haiti in January. The reason why 230,000 people died in Haiti and none in Christchurch is a “feat of engineering”. “It's got nothing to do with the earthquake. The earthquake was big, and close, and shallow,” Mr Quigley said. He said while many Canterbury buildings were retro-fitted to survive earthquakes, Haiti buildings were not.

Mining backdown: people power forces Govt u-turn

The Government will today scrap hugely controversial plans to mine some of the country's most pristine conservation land. The Herald understands the Key Administration will rule out mining in all 7068ha of conservation land it was considering opening to prospecting, including parts of Great Barrier Island, the Coromandel Peninsula and Paparoa National Park on the West Coast.

It is an acutely embarrassing u-turn for National, which faced furious public opposition to the plans. Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee, who strongly pushed for mining firms to be allowed into what are no-go areas for mineral exploitation, will carry the can for a policy defeat brought about by the uproar. He is also expected to announce that not only will there be no mining in those areas, all national parks will be protected in future.

Mr Brownlee may be able to save some face by flagging more mining on Crown land of lower ecological value.

NZ and Aus rated AAA, better than UK and America by Chinese.

(Daily Telegraph July 14 2010)

The US falls to AA, while Britain and France slither down to AA-. Belgium, Spain, Italy are ranked at A- along with Malaysia. Meanwhile, China rises to AA+ with Germany, the Netherlands and Canada, reflecting its €2.4 trillion (£2 trillion) reserves and a blistering growth rate of 8pc to 10pc a year.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, chief of the International Monetary Fund, agreed on Monday that the rising East is a transforming global force. “Asia's time has come,” he said. The IMF expects Asia to grow by 7.7pc in 2010, vastly outpacing the eurozone at 1pc and the US at 3.3pc. Emerging nations hold 75pc of the world's $8.4 trillion (£5.6 trillion) of reserves.

Dagong rates Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and Singapore at AAA, along with the commodity twins Australia and New Zealand.

NZ wipes out Aussie mozzie

New Zealand has been declared officially free of the southern saltmarsh mosquito, the first country in the world to wipe out the Aussie mozzie. MAF biosecurity officer David Yard says it has taken an 11-year eradication programme to get rid of the insect, which is capable of carrying the debilitating Ross River Virus. He says other countries will be interested to see how New Zealand achieved it.

“We will be going back to the Australian Mosquito Conference. We will be preparing scientific papers because we believe we have a lot to teach the world in the persistence and techniques that we have used,” said Mr Yard/

New Zealand ports and airports will continue mosquito surveillance.

Tax changes announced on May 20

From October
Income up to $14,000 will be taxed at 10.5%, down from the current 12.5% - Tax on income from $14,001 to $48,000 will be 17.5%, down from 21% - Income from $48,001 to $70,000 will be taxed at 30%, down from the current 33% - The top tax rate, on income over $70,000 will be cut to 33% from 38%

GST rises to 15%

Spy base verdict lets protesters go free

Three peace protesters have been found not guilty of an attack on a top-secret South Island spy base, despite freely admitting causing damage put at $1 million.Otaki schoolteacher Adrian Leason, Auckland Catholic priest Peter Murnane and Hokianga farmer Sam Land were cleared by a Wellington District Court jury yesterday evening of burglary and wilful damage.

The charges stemmed from the April 2008 raid on the Government Communications Security Bureau facility at Waihopai, near Blenheim. The jury took only two hours to reach its verdict after an eight-day trial. Prosecutors accused the three men of cutting their way through fences into the base, then using sickles to slash a plastic cover protecting a receiver dish.

Although the men admitted the attack, they said their actions were driven by a belief that the dish, for receiving and sending satellite communications, caused human suffering. “That belief doesn't have to be correct,” said Mr Leason's lawyer, Michael Knowles.

At the end of the trial, the three men said they were privileged to have helped “uncover the true nature” of the spy base. Mr Leason said their actions in disabling the base, even if it was only for a short time, stopped the flow of information, which had ultimately helped to save lives in Iraq. “We wanted … to challenge these warfaring behaviours and I think we have done this. We have shown New Zealanders there is a US spy base in our midst.”

NZ Herald, Feb 18 2010

New Zealand Flag debate

I think this one is going to run so given its own wiki New Zealand Flag debate

Milksolids prices

The price of milksolids prices each month make the main headline news, why! Well dairying is New Zealand's biggest export industry and international returns to Fonterra farmers are a cornerstone of the economy. Fonterra is the world's leading dairy exporter. So if the price is high, the dairy farmers do well and generally through their spending boost the economy.

The Fonterra forecast payout for the 2009-10 season, based on international price levels, is $6.05 per kg of milksolids, which, on current milk production estimates, promises nearly $8 billion for the economy this year.

Britons find paradise in New Zealand

New Zealand has been described as a “paradise” by British expats who moved here for a warmer climate and cheaper cost of living.

A NatWest International bank survey of more than 2000 British immigrants living in 12 countries found that Britons in New Zealand rated the country highly in all areas.

In the quality-of-life index, New Zealand came ahead of Canada, which topped the poll last year.

Respondents said NZ had one of the lowest average property prices in the developed world, and many cited lower taxes than in Britain, a better quality of life and less stress as benefits.

A favourable tax regime meant that although average wages were lower, earnings went further.

NatWest International personal banking head Dave Isley said expats reported they were living healthier lifestyles while benefiting financially.

The average salary in New Zealand was $28,427, compared with $65,841 in Britain, but the average cost of a home was only $293,000, compared with $592,000 in Britain.

In both countries an average property cost the equivalent of roughly 10 years' wages, but Britons who sell their houses find themselves with much more cash in hand when arriving in New Zealand.

Two years ago, Chris and Janice Gorman shifted from a three-bedroom house in Surrey to a four-bedroom house with a sprawling garden near the sea in Auckland.

“New Zealand and the UK are roughly the same size, but there are 56 million fewer people,” Mr Gorman said. “It makes a massive difference. Everyone has time for you.

“We find it much more sociable here. There is a huge emphasis on family life and relaxation time.”

The Gormans, who are two of more than 200,000 British-born Kiwis, said their only regret was not being able to visit family in the UK “on a whim”.

Of all the expatriates surveyed, 86 per cent believed their lives were better than before they emigrated and 92 per cent said they were happier.

Despite the global recession, 87 per cent were better off, including engineers, teachers, economists, accountants, IT professionals and those working in financial services and marketing.

“Despite the global slowdown affecting everyone, the potential to earn more money abroad is clearly one of the main benefits expats are experiencing,” said Mr Isley.

New Zealand and Canada were followed in the poll by Australia, France, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, the US and China. Singapore and Hong Kong came last.

7.8 earthquake off Southland

No deaths, a bit of damage, effects felt in Aus. The effects of the 7.8 earthquake and aftershocks that struck Fiordland last night were felt as far away as Australia.

The quake, which was centred 100km northwest of Tuatapere and 12km deep, struck at 9.22pm and triggered an alert from the Pacific tsunami warning centre in Hawaii.

In Sydney, a performance at Bondi Pavilion was cancelled and the theatregoers were evacuated, while other Sydney residents were warned to keep away from the water's edge.

However, there was only a small surge of water, about 17cm high, and the tsunami warning was cancelled after its size was confirmed on arrival at Bluff at about 10.30pm.

There were surprisingly no immediate reports of major damage from the quake, which was felt widely throughout the South Island and as far north as Taranaki.

And a little bit off the wall - apparently New Zealand is now 30 cm closer to Australia. However, airlines don't anticipate cheaper air fares…..

Orcas Close to shore (NZ Herald June 24 09)

About 200 onlookers have gathered on Auckland's Tamaki Drive to watch a pod of orca hunting close to the shore.

Five or six killer whales have been chasing stingrays within five to ten metres of the shore - moving from Okahu Bay, past Kohimarama and towards St Heliers.

Onlookers have been watching what appear to be two adult and three or four juvenile orca throwing stingrays into the air and eating them.

Members of the public have been parking on the side of the road to watch the display but traffic appears to be running smoothly.

New Zealand orcas are the only known orca group that eat stingrays as a staple food, often hunting them into shallow water and sometimes beaching themselves.

Orca Research says New Zealand has the highest rate of orca strandings in the world, about one a year, mostly from hunting errors.

Orcas also eat other foods including fish, squid, dolphins, sharks and seals.

Insurance building sets green example

22 June 2009

I've included this one, because this is where I now work! We moved in this weekend, and I must say it's very nice. I'm on the 5th floor, and have made it my objective to use the stairs whenever I can - still puffing at the moment, but by the end of the week I'll be running up!

new_zealand_news/sensible_news_items.txt · Last modified: 2011/06/08 09:16 by tel
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