Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hobbit films will be made in NZ - but at what cost to this country?

Warner BrosImage via Wikipedia

The Hobbit films are to be made in New Zealand - but at what cost to New Zealand?

Prime Minister John Key made the announcement on Wednesday night, following two days of talks with Warner Bros executives in Wellington.

Mr Key said an agreement had been reached with the US studio which is financing the two films. They will be directed by Sir Peter Jackson.

The Government says it will introduce legislation in Parliament on Thursday to clarify the employment situation of independent contractors and employees as it relates to the film production industry in New Zealand.  Now NZ legislation is to be influenced from outside NZ. Will China be next to influence change in other areas?

Warner Bros had warned its concerns over industrial relations issues in New Zealand could see it move the project to another country.

"The industrial issues that have arisen over the past several weeks have highlighted a significant set of concerns for the way in which the international film industry operates," Mr Key said.

"We will be moving to ensure that New Zealand law in this area is settled to give film producers like Warner Bros the confidence they need to produce their films in this country."

Mr Key confirmed the Government will widen the qualifying criteria for its Large Budget Screen Production Fund "to improve New Zealand's competitiveness as a film destination for large budget films."

The Hobbit films will receive an extra tax rebate of $US7.5 million each, depending on box office takings, he said.

The Government will also offset $US10 million of the films' promotion by Warner Bros as part of a strategic partnership to publicise New Zealand.

One of the films will have its world premiere in New Zealand.

KR says:

Peter Jackson's credibilty has been changed for ever in this country. Since  I have lost all  respect for him I will refuse to refer him as Sir, in much the same way as I refuse to refer to Roger Douglas as Sir, too! Jackson's claims that a 'gun was held to his head' is exaggerated claptrap.

There is no doubting Jackson's brilliance as a film-maker, but he has nailed his political affiliation to the rightwing National Party mast. The National Government won't be in power for too  much longer Mr Jackson; it could well be  next year as there are signs that the tide is going out for them. Really, it all depends on Phil Goff's performance as opposition leader in coming months. He would  never change legislation as Key has done to allow employees to become contractors in a New Zealand context. That is something I'm certain about.

Acknowledgements: © 2010, Radio New Zealand

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Hobbit and Peter Jackson's credibility

Peter Jackson promoting the 2009 film District...Image via WikipediaThe Hobbit, and Peter Jackson's credibility...

Peter Jackson has staged some epic, humdinger battles on-screen, but the battle royale taking place off-screen over The Hobbit — with actors’ unions feuding with the production and Warner Bros. threatening to relocate filming out of New Zealand — clearly has left him deeply exasperated. In an interview with a New Zealand television reporter (see part of the interview embedded below), the director vents his frustration at the ongoing labor dispute, which is just the latest in a series of difficult hurdles he has had to overcome to bring The Hobbit to the screen.

Appearing with co-writer Philippa Boyens on a soundstage built for The Hobbit, he frets that the unions’ boycott — which he says had “no validity” — has done great harm to the reputation of the New Zealand film industry, so much so that he doesn’t know how he can persuade Warner Bros. that it should spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make the two Hobbit films there. “I don’t know what to say,” he says. “This is where I’m out of my depth … I can talk my way around the movie. But to tell the studio why investing $500 million in our country is a good idea when they’ve just seen the disgusting, frivolous action that’s happened … I literally don’t know what to say to them.” Taking aim at Helen Kelly, the president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, who has been critical of his handling of the dispute, Jackson’s anger boils over: “How dare you. You are choosing an Australian union over the workers of our country. Stuff her. I don’t care what the hell she says.”

At the same time, Jackson insists he is neither anti-union (“I’m a paid-up member of four different unions”) nor anti-actor (“They can be a little self-centered, some of them,” he says, “but we have had a huge show of support, too.”) With the brinksmanship on both sides reaching a climax, Jackson says he doesn’t know at this point whether the film will stay in New Zealand or not. “Is the movie going to come or go? We don’t know,” he says. “The damage has been done.”

It’s been a long, tough slog just to get this movie to the starting line. Obviously, yesterday’s casting news lifted the spirits of Hobbit-watchers, but given how crucial the strange and beautiful New Zealandness of New Zealand is to Jackson’s vision of Middle-earth, does this ongoing wrangling worry you? Watch the video below (there’s also additional footage from the Jackson interview here) and share your thoughts.

KR says:

`` Peter Jackson can not walk on or make wine from water!Should pull his head in, keep out of the politics and stick to what he does extremely well - making movies.  He wants to be the benign dictator  who fires all the shots - some are missing the mark and destroying his credibility. I see another America's Cup scenario developing. The Americas Cup was going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread for our economy. The Americas Cup is now history as far as New Zealand is concerned. Many of his films are bizarre anyway. Just be careful Sir Peter Jackson that you don't end up like  Russell Coutts and become an exile from your own country.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Coroner blames shaken baby's parents for death...

A picture of a young childImage via Wikipedia Law and Order:

Coroner blames shaken baby's parents for death...

Richard McElrea says shaking was the cause of death and either Staranise Waru's mother or father were responsible

A Christchurch coroner has ruled a baby died after being shaken by one of her parents.

Staranise Waru died in hospital in February 2006 and the findings of the inquest into her death have today been released.

In his report Coroner Richard McElrea says shaking was the cause of death and either the baby's mother or father were responsible.

The Coroner says while he accepts the baby's mother wouldn't intentionally harm her child, the necessary standard of proof has not been reached.

He says the exact identity of the perpetrator remains open.

Acknowledgements: © 2010 NZCity, NewsTalkZB
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Labour announces child poverty plan - what has National got to offer?...

Annette King MP addressing the crowd at the op...Image via Wikipedia

Labour announces child poverty plan...

A six year initiative to tackle child poverty in New Zealand is being proposed by the Labour Party.

The Labour Party has unveiled plans to cut child poverty.

Deputy Labour Party Leader, Annette King, has told the party conference, child poverty is unfinished business for Labour.

Ms King says they have a six year plan, that puts children at the centre of investment in social service delivery. She told NewstalkZB, "When you're dealing with children, you can't deal with one aspect, we're looking at what you need to do in health, housing and early childhood education."

Annette King isn't saying how much it will cost , but says they have crunched the numbers and will reveal it before the election.

What does the National Party government have to offer?

Acknowledgements: © 2010 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

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Friday, October 15, 2010

On the Threshold of EternityImage via Wikipedia


The coroner has found that care was deficient on several occasions before 17-year-old Toran Henry committed suicide. Photo / SuppliedA coroner has strongly criticised the care provided by a specialist youth mental health unit leading up to the suicide of 17-year-old Toran Henry.

Auckland Coroner Murray Jamieson said Marinoto Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services' care of the teenager "was deficient on occasion and in particular on the day of his death".

His remarks were included in the findings of the inquest into Toran's death on March 20, 2008. The report was issued yesterday.

Dr Jamieson was critical that, in the face of escalating developments on the day of Toran's death, the Waitemata District Health Board's service left his care in the hands of a relatively inexperienced "key worker" who spoke to Toran by phone.

"Toran stated, that day, that he lost faith in one of his key workers, feeling that she had abused his trust," said the coroner.

He said the situation would have been better dealt with by immediate consultation with a specialist psychiatrist, who could have taken direct action "such as arranging an urgent home visit together with immediate admission to a secure facility if required.

There was criticism, too, of the way Toran had been prescribed the anti-depressant drug fluoxetine, better known as Prozac, which is not approved for treating major depressive disorders in children and adolescents in New Zealand. But it can be given to that age group by what is known as "off label" prescribing, which requires informed consent from the patient.

Dr Jamieson said the information given to Toran about the drug was not satisfactory. It was not a single comprehensive document, not up to date, not designed for a person of Toran's age and did not include clear advice about taking the drug in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

He recommended that Marinoto should review the information provided to adolescents, especially the importance of taking the medication as prescribed.

The coroner was also critical of the last occasion Toran was prescribed fluoxetine, at a cafe near Marinoto early in March 2008, by a registrar in psychiatry who had not met Toran or his mother, Maria Bradshaw, before.

The coroner said the consultation should have been carried out by a specialist psychiatrist "fully apprised of the history and clinical picture at a venue appropriate for such an important clinical encounter".

Dr Jamieson did not make any finding on whether taking the drug contributed to Toran's death.

Although the question came up during the inquest, the coroner has not addressed concerns that the drug packets in New Zealand do not carry a "Black Box" warning as required by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. The warning explicitly states that "anti-depressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behaviour in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of major depressive disorder and other psychiatric disorders".

Malaga a le Pasifika, the cultural support service of Marinoto, was also criticised for the way it attempted, but failed, to organise a meeting between Toran and his father, Geoffrey Henry, a Cook Islander, whom Toran had not seen since he was 14 months old.

The coroner concluded that the circumstances relevant to Toran's death were:

* The career plan that Toran had set his heart on in early 2008 had proved impractical.

* Toran had been reminded of the absence and apparent rejection of him by his father.

* His relationship with his mother had been tense.

* His relationship with his girlfriend had recently been unhappy.

* The day before his death he had been humiliated in front of many peers when he was involved in a brief fight with a younger Takapuna Grammar School student.

* His abuse of alcohol clouded his judgment.

Clinical director of Mental Health and Addiction Services at Waitemata Murray Patton said a new fluoxetine information sheet had been developed for adolescents and children.

Marinoto clinical staff have also undertaken training to ensure all service users and families have knowledge of common and serious side-effects of psychiatric medicine and how to monitor for them.

Tragic toll

About 540 people a year take their own lives - many more than last year's road toll. More than 2500 New Zealanders are admitted to hospital each year through intentional self-harm.

Age range for 2009/2010:

* 10-14....7

* 15-19....53

* 20-24....189

* 25-29....136

Where to get help:

* Lifeline: 0800 543 354 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 543 354 end_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting (

* Youthline: 0800 376 633 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 376 633 end_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting (

* Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 111 757 end_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting

* In an emergency (if you feel you or others are at risk of harm) phone 111

* Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand

Acknowledgements: NZ Herald/ Chris Barton

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An invitation to new readers and commenters...

I am = shortest sentence in the English language.Image by badjonni via Flickr

An invitation to new readers and commenters...

This is a short post to communicate to commenters  if you are a non-English first speaker and writer.

If you use my posts to assist you in your education and to further your knowledge of the English language and would like further help, please leave me your website URL or email address. I would be pleased to help.

I would also hope you have the time to read my other blogsites. Please go to my profile to obtain the URL's.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts. Try another site:
David Cunliffe at the NZ Open Source Awards, 2007Image via Wikipedia
David Cunliffe, Labour finance spokesman

 Ngai Tahu, Superfund  wanted to buy South Canterbury finance...

The New Zealand Superfund and Ngai Tahu were part of a consortium of investors whose bid for South Canterbury Finance was rejected last month, says opposition finance spokesman David Cunliffe.

Details of the bidders were revealed by Mr Cunliffe in Parliament today as he alleged government mismanagement of the failed finance company that he said may cost the taxpayer more than $300 million.

Mr Cunliffe told the House an offer for $1.3 billion was made on August 31 by a consortium led by Permanent Investments. That offer was rejected by the receivers. Another offer again led by Permanent but also including the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Ngai Tahu was made on September 13 and also rejected.

Permanent Investments is a company asssociated with Sydney-based businessman Duncan Saville. Its directors include Dugald Morrison, the brother of Wellington businessman and Saville associate Lloyd Morrison, who in turn has interests in companies that manage millions of NZ Super Fund cash.

Permanent was indentified by the Herald as a bidder for South Canterbury's assets after South Canterbury chief executive Sandy Maier was seen on a plane reading a sale and purchase agreement for his company the day it went into receivership.

Mr Cunliffe said based on South Canterbury's book value of $1.8 billion, the taxpayer would have incurred a loss of about $500 million had the first offer been accepted.

He also said with the Government indicating it anticipated an eventual loss of $800 million on South Canterbury, it had effectively left $300 million on the table by rejecting the offer. Mr Cunliffe later said there was a risk the value of the company's assets may deteriorate further, deepening the taxpayers' loss.

Responding to Mr Cunliffe, Finance Minister Bill English said he didn't want to comment on commercial details of bids or transactions that may still be under negotiation and he referred to an earlier statement that at no point was there any offer on the table "that did not involve considerable risk and cost to the Crown".

South Canterbury Finance went into receivership at the end of August triggering a $1.7 Government payout to investors. including $1.6 billion under the Crown's Retail Deposit Guarantee.

Treasury is to publish documents relating to the guarantee and South Canterbury Finance this week.

Acknowledgements: Adam Bennett

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Auckland has really turned Brown and left of centre...

Len Brown - New Zealand politician http://en.w...Image via Wikipedia
Yes, the whole of Auckland is Brown. It is a seismic  shift in grassroots politics. The left out-performed the right in supporting the mayoral and council candidates. And hopefully the results of this super-city creation and initial election will create an inclusive Auckland society. The cream should be a successful Rugby World Cup campaign next year.

Is John banks politically dead now? A rumour has quickly spread round the traps that Banksie will make an attempt at a parliamentary comeback by standing for Epsom next year just to get rid of that moronic Rodney Hide. True or false? We'll find out in due course. Banksie could split the rightwing vote and let a labour candidate through the middle.

Congratulations to Mayor Len Brown who owes some of his success to the large Pasifika vote out there. Could be an interesting council up there too. Brown supports public transport, including trains. They are making a comeback throughout the world. Good ideas there len!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Invalids benefit cuts the real reason...

The Arms of Her Majesty in Right of New ZealandImage via WikipediaAbout 80,000 people now on sickness and invalid benefits could be shifted on to the unemployment benefit under radical welfare reforms proposed by the Treasury.

A Treasury report to the Government's welfare working group recommends reclassifying all 144,000 people on sickness and invalid benefits into three categories based on their ability to work, shifting those with some capacity to work in the near future on to the unemployment benefit.

It also recommends requiring sole parents to look for paid work before their youngest children turn 6, and contracting out most welfare services to private companies or charities.

But its hard line is softened by other proposals to extend sick leave and parental leave entitlements, and to let sickness beneficiaries earn more from part-time work before having their benefits cut.

The welfare working group, chaired by economist Paula Rebstock, has been given until next February to come up with proposals to reduce long-term benefit dependency.

Ms Rebstock said yesterday that the Treasury paper, presented at the group's latest meeting on September 3, was "just one of many inputs that the working group is getting".

"It was useful input but it would be premature as to what the welfare working group might be recommending," she said.

However, the 38-page paper provides the first concrete set of public proposals from any official source in the working group's review.

It draws heavily on recent reforms in Australia and Britain, which have both moved work-ready people off disability benefits on to the unemployment benefit. In Britain, the paper says, 69 per cent of previous disability beneficiaries were classified as "fit for work" and moved on to the dole.

"On the basis of the recent UK reforms, the reclassification of all sickness and invalid beneficiaries could result in more than 80,000 New Zealand beneficiaries moving on to the unemployment benefit," it says.

The move would make no difference to benefit rates for sickness beneficiaries because they already get the same as the dole. But the adult invalid's benefit of $243 a week is $49 higher than the $194 adult dole.

Shipley rides again!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some high priced houses for Rugby World Cup...

the Rugby World Cup TrophyImage via Wikipedia

High priced houses listed for Rugby World Cup...

Some homes available for renting during the Rugby World Cup are being advertised for $20,000 a week or more - limited market though

Homes rented for $20,000 a week during the Rugby World Cup have to be something pretty special.

That's the view of Sue Robinson, the managing director of rugby accommodation guide

She says the website has three homes featured that sit above that mark.

"I think they are value for money against a five star hotel yes, if they've got a lot of things that come with them, like a pool or a gym - the services that you would get in a hotel."

Ms Robinson says the prices aren't necessarily bad, but there's only a limited market for them.

So this is all about the market is it? Yeah right!

Acknowledgements: © 2010 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Auckland is turning Brown, John Key...

Len Brown - New Zealand politician http://en.w...Image via WikipediaLen Brown is set to win the Auckland mayoralty by a landslide, unless John Banks can rally his half-hearted supporters to vote in the final days. The Super mayor?

A new Herald on Sunday-Phoenix poll shows the Manukau mayor's South Auckland supporters have turned out in unprecedented numbers, giving him 56 per cent support among those who say they have already voted.

Oozing confidence, Brown has seemingly abandoned his platform of unity and conciliation. Earlier in the week, he had said publicly he might offer Banks a job if he won the mayoralty. Yesterday, he accused Banks of having "jelly knees" on transport, the issue that matters most to Aucklanders.

Brown's supporters appear to have voted early, giving him a big lead.

The poll indicates that Banks has won only 33 per cent of the votes cast so far, but he can still theoretically close the gap. To have a chance, he has to persuade many less-committed supporters to make the effort of ticking the box and mailing back their voting forms.

Phoenix Research director David Fougere said the figures suggested Banks would close in on Brown if more people turned out to vote. But are they interested?
Yesterday afternoon, Banks said his campaign team was preparing for a final push to turn out voters, with the last week "absolutely crucial" to the result.

There had been a "very poor turnout so far", and he hoped to see at least 45 per cent of eligible voter return their ballots.

Banks insisted his own polling showed him "neck-and-neck" with Brown. "This is going to be a race to the line - there's going to be very few votes in it this time next week."

So far, Brown's core supporters on his home turf of Manukau have voted in far higher numbers than those in Banks' strongholds of Auckland City and the North Shore. But even in Auckland City, Brown has a slight lead.

Banks is in the lead only on the North Shore and among those who are uncertain about whether they will vote.

The usually well-mannered mayoral exchanges turned sticky yesterday when Brown accused Banks of going "jelly knees" on public transport policy.

But Brown insisted he wasn't complacent. "Nothing's ever in the bag," he said.

Brown's focus in the final days would be on urging people to send their ballots before Wednesday or to hand them in in person at local libraries.

"I've led in almost all the polls. If the one on October 9 comes through with that result I'd be absolutely delirious."

The poll shows Brown receiving overwhelming support in Manukau, and from Maori and Polynesian voters (85 per cent).

AUT social sciences lecturer Charles Crothers said the poll confirmed that Brown did better than Banks among those on lower incomes. "There is very strong support for Brown from those most likely to see themselves as worse off."

The poll was undertaken between Monday and Friday this week, surveying 893 Aucklanders who either have already voted in the local body elections or say they definitely or probably will vote.

The margin of error is +/- 3.3 per cent.


There is less than a week to go until voting in the local elections close.

The deadline for ballots is noon on Saturday, October 9.

Although postal votes must be mailed by Wednesday, people can still hand in their ballots at libraries right up to the midday deadline.

About 80 per cent of the votes will have been counted by then, and the final votes are expected to be counted by 7 o'clock that evening.

There are some exciting battles: singer Suzanne Prentice takes on Tim Shadbolt in Invercargill; former deputy prime minister Jim Anderton challenges earthquake Mayor Bob Parker in Christchurch; Kerry Prendergast tries to fight off all-comers in Wellington. And, in the new Auckland Supercity of 1.4 million people, Len Brown takes on John Banks in the contest to lead the biggest city this country has seen.

The Herald on Sunday will bring you the late-breaking details of the local body elections counts from all around New Zealand - who won, who lost, and who had an election result they will never forget.

Most importantly, we explain what it means for you. Is Auckland turning Brown, John Key?

Acknlwledgements: Herald on Sunday.