Tuesday, June 30, 2015

China Airlines Back Next Summer

China Airlines' first commercial flight into Christchurch, Dec.2014
Taiwan's leading airline, China Airlines, says its first season of flying into Christchurch was so successful, it will expand the service by nearly 50% for the entire upcoming summer.
The airline says the increased services - and thousands more seats - are a direct result of a successful three-month service operated last Dec.2014, Jan.and Feb.2015.
China Airlines NZ Branch General Manager, Shirley Yang: "Our inaugural service last summer was a huge success. The Taipei-Sydney-Christchurch service was our most successful sector on our global network at that time, so it was an easy decision to expand the service next summer."
The service will operate three times a week from Taipei-SYD-CHC, and return the same way.
Estimates put the value of the Taiwanese visitors carried last summer by China Airlines at $15m+, so the increased service is great news for the regional economies of the South Island.
Christchurch International Airport has seen passenger numbers over the recent summer months grow well above the national averages. Statistics show more than 70% of the passengers on the China Airlines service are from North Asian markets, or further afield, highlighting the significant interest in the South Island from long-haul markets.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Could They Somehow Be Related #7? - NZ Taxpayers House The Boys

Gerard and Alex: do these lads have anything in common???
NZ taxpayers have shelled out almost $11 million on a luxury NY apartment for Our Man at the UN!!
Da Man is Gerard van Bohemen (previously dep.secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade - yeup, one of McCully's Mob), appointed NZ's permanent rep at the United Nations. And hey, when the job includes this pad, wouldn't YOU wanna be there permanently TOO??!!!
The NZ$10.9 million/US$7.9 million pied-a-terre in Manhattan was signed-off by our ineffectual Foreign Munster 'Womble' McCully, who justified his decision by claiming the new property's cost will be offset by the sale of the old residence...and anyway the new property would be a working space as well as a residence. Riiiiight!!
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer calls the purchase outrageous: "Two years ago McCully gutted the best staff out of the ministry and now he's using that money to splash out on a flash NY pad." Green Party spokesman Kennedy Graham: "This is just another case of wasteful spending by a ministry already under fire for its use of the public purse."
Which lad gets which room? No fighting now -
they BOTH have working space AND accomodation!
...meanwhile, another hi-flyer is being housed by the taxpayer.
This week, 'Heart of the City' founder Alex Swney was sentenced to 5 years 7 months in jail. The disgraced former Auckland boss stole millions of dollars from the business group...because he felt he was not paid enough.
Ha, maybe he should have chosen a career in the Diplo Service!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Sea Shepherd Begins Faroes Action

"Vell done, Lars! Brigetta vill be pleased!"
Conservation group Sea Shepherd has dispatched a vessel from Bremen in Germany to the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic to campaign against it's traditional whale hunt.
The vessel Sam Simon will try to prevent hunters from killing pilot whales. The ship is expected to arrive in the island archipelago today (...meanwhile the annual slaughter of the whales began on 07 June).
A SS spokesman says: "Denmark allows the Faroe Islands to continue the barbaric practice of the grindadrap, despite being a signatory to the Bern Convention, which outlaws the slaughter of cetaceans."
Readers of this blog will know that, during the annual whale hunt, the 3-6m pilot whales are driven by a flotilla of small boats into a bay or the mouth of a fjord before being hacked to death with hooks and knives - a "grind" that many locals defend as a cultural right.
The whale meat and blubber are consumed by locals and considered
Don't ya just DIG that blood lust!
Sam Simon crew will join fellow SS members on a fast-interceptor vessel donated by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation (an animal rights group founded by the former French actress) which arrived in Faroese waters last Wednesday. Another ship Bob Barker will join them shortly.
The SS campaign will run until 01 October. The timing of the killing depends on when the cetaceans are spotted offshore, and SS activists have intervened in the Faroes several times in the past.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Game Of Drones

I spy! Here's one, hovering over
my place last weekend...! WHY??
The military use them.
Commercial opportunites abound.
They're the new toy-of-choice.
And they open up a minefield of legal questions...
Technically known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), drones are becoming more and more common. But this has triggered fears about their impact on privacy and aviation safety.
NZ's Privacy Act is a technology-neutral piece of legislation, by which the Privacy Commissioner assesses privacy implications of an emerging technology. While drones are a new technology, the threat they pose to privacy is consistent with the use of any camera, including mobile phones or automated CCTV systems. So the Commission's CCTV guidelines apply to how someone might use drones fitted with cameras and comply with the Privacy Act.
The main points for any camera operator to observe are:
  • be clear about why you're collecting information/footage;
  • make sure people know you're collecting it/how you intend to use it;
  • keep the information safe/make sure only authorised people see it;
  • dispose of the information after it's served its purpose;
  • right of access to the information by individuals concerned.
There are also other NZ laws relevant to using drones to film/record. EG: it's against the law to make covert intimate recordings of people without their consent/knowledge, and to publish them. So, if you're sunbathing in your fenced backyard, you'd rightly expect that you won't be spied on.
There's also the possibility the homeowner might want to take their own court action against a camera operator for invasion of privacy.
It is also against the law to peer into homes and record any activity within.
The Privacy Commissioner says it's important to keep the drone issue in perspective. People using drones should have the same consideration for others, as those who already use CCTV cameras on their properties or dash cams in their cars.
That's because the laws that protect people's privacy have been there for some time. While the technology of visual recording keeps changing, the laws and principles around the collecting/disclosing of information remain as relevant as ever.

UPDATE: 24 June 2015 – Rogue drone crashes onto Christchurch restaurant roof.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Shake-Up In The Skies...er..The Stars!

Thursday's announcement by Jetstar, to start flights to regional destinations in December, will be a major shake-up for New Zealand domestic air travel.
The low-cost carrier will use five 50-seat Bombardier Q300 turbo-prop aircraft to service at least four regional centres initially. Cities being considered? Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier and Palmerston North in the North Island, and Nelson and Invercargill in the South Island.
The new flights will break Air NZ's stranglehold on flying large aircraft to regional centres.
Not surprisingly, Air NZ shares plunged by 9.8% following the news.
Air NZ pulled out of three regional towns earlier this year and is closing its Eagle Air operation, while putting bigger aircraft in to the bigger cities. Several small operators are considering filling the gaps, such as Ewan Wilson.
Jetstar Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka: "When we first started operations in NZ," (in 2009) "...domestic fares across the country dropped by around 40%, and we expect fares will drop considerably on the regional routes where we'll operate."
Jetstar managers would visit regional centres during the next two months to meet with airports, local government, and business, travel and tourism representatives to determine the first regional destinations.
Prime Munster John Key, who's also Tourism Minister, says the regions in New Zealand will be "openly cheering" Jetstar's expansion, adding that "competition keeps everyone on their toes." For once, Johnno and I are in agreement...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Maori Dodge A Bullet...Again

Maori caught driving without a licence in Sth.Auckland are being let off a $400 fine, and are being offered support instead!
"Holy shit, man, don't touch him! He's BRO!"
These most-curious Counties Manukau police guidelines are aimed at reducing maori offending. Bros busted behind the wheel without a licence, or in breach of their conditions, get referred for training and dodge the ticket that they're legally obliged to pay...just like the rest of us have to!
Superintendent Wally Haumaha, Police National HQ: "A panel looks at a whole range of issues that caused that person to drive without a licence or why that person hasn't had a licence, and then provides some support."
A real Wally?
Jeez, Wally, ya don't need a touchy-feely hand-holding support panel to diagnose their "whole range of issues" as:
1. Want to drive, eh bro.
2. Duuuh, don't have a licence.
3. Foo, cuz, gonna drive anyway.
4. After all, play lotsa Grand Theft Auto - so how hard can driving be? Chuurrr!
The policy is a part of a nationwide programme Turning of the Tide, aiming to reduce Maori offending. But Wally assures us it's not a race-based issue: "It just happens that more Maori drivers are unlicensed. So if they're unlicensed, we wanna know why."
Hmm, so maybe this Wally IS an actual WALLY!!! ANY programme targetting ANY race for ANY reason IS race-based. Get out the dictionary and start reading, Wally! I suspect you really mean that it's not racist! THAT is a completely different matter...
However, for now, all the rest of NZ sees...is Maori being allowed to dodge their legal responsibilities.
That IS institutionalised race-based favouritism. And it must stop!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

History Saved For A Buck

Shand's Emporium stood in Hereford St, Christchurch, since 1860.
It was one of the oldest wooden commercial buildings left in the CBD, and now a simple gold coin has saved it.
Christchurch Heritage has paid property developer Antony Gough just a dollar for the Shand's Emporium building. It is typical of buildings from the early colonisation years and has a Heritage NZ Cat.1 listing.
Gough, whose family has owned the building for more than 75 years, said they could easily have pulled it down but were determined to save it.
The building, which Gough spent $70,000 weather-proofing and straightening post-EQs, will move to Manchester St.in 2-3 weeks, where it'll sit alongside the old Trinity Church, being restored by Christchurch Heritage.
The late-night shift will be fairly straight-forward, apart from the Colombo/High/Hereford Sts.intersection, where there were live tram lines. A 200-tonne crane will lift the building off the transporter and over the tram lines (as the temporary dismantling of the lines would be too costly and time-consuming).
Once at its new site, the building will be put on new foundations and
repaired so that it meets new building standards: the building is in a fairly sad condition currently.
It's the second time Shand's has dodged the axe. In the late 1970s, NZ Post Office planned a new telephone exchange right on top of it. After several thousand signed a petition, the building was saved.
But a big question niggling away at me is: what happened to the Elvis Costello album cover, that sat so iconically in Shand's front window for years?
Has Elvis left the building?

UPDATE: 28 June 2015 - Shands touches down in its new home.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Surf's Up For Air NZ

Hey dude, if you've not flown Air New Zealand internationally in the last month, you've probably not caught a wave or two with its latest safety video.
This time, it's teamed up with some of the world's hottest surfers...past and present world champs, NZ's best surfers, and two of the world's most popular women surfers on social media.
But wait! Aren't some of these waves in California and Ozzie's Gold Coast??? Yeup, and the producers threw in a bit of Piha and Raglan too, just to keep it vaguely kiwi.
Hmmm, I know surfers are generally a bit crazy, but why promote surf, sun and safety in the middle of a Noo Zild WINTER???
And that backing track seemed ever so tedious and inane...
Still, perhaps - as this is the 11th of the safety videos that get tens of millions of online views globally - Air NZ's getting low on ideas. No! Marketing boss Mike Tod says it's aimed at creating awareness of three locations the airline operates in. And by involving surfers from Brazil and Japan as well, the airline hopes to create interest in those countries too.
Say what? If they're seeing the vid on an Air NZ jet, then they're already on their way here, right? Wrong! There's method in the Air NZ Madness! It's designed to make YOU wanna fly to those places with THEM!
So when does the line between safety message and marketing get crossed? Did that happen months back, with Air NZ's controversial swimsuit vid? And let's not even mention the crappy Richards Simmons one!
Ok, so if you want oxygen masks dropping from a Malibu lifeguard tower, floating paper lanterns to represent floor lights, airline seats on a Gold Coast beach, tanned taut and terrif rubber-clad surfer girls and boys, then check this...

Monday, June 8, 2015

Faroese Enjoy Family Bloodbath

The Faroe Island's first grindadráp (or whale slaughter) of 2015 kicked off in fine form yesterday morning, on the island of Vágar in the NW of the Faroe Islands archipelago.
Officials say 154 individual pilot whales were in the slaughtered pod, making this one of the bloodiest grinds in at least two years.
The Faroese Fisheries Patrol vessel Brimil located the large pod south of Vágar. Over the next 4-5hrs, as many as 25 hunting boats drove the pod, finally herding them on to the beach of Miðvágur where the killing took place.
The slaughter occurred just two weeks before Sea Shepherd crews are due to arrive in the Faroe Islands, for the start of the organisation's 2015 Faroe Islands pilot whale defence campaign, Operation Sleppid Grindini.
CEO of SS Global, Alex Cornelissen: "The beaches of the Faroe Islands are once again red with the blood of hundreds of slaughtered pilot whales. Without the presence of SS, shining a spotlight on these ferocious shores, this massacre will continue unabated."
For hundreds of years, the Faroese have been herding migrating pilot whales from the sea into shallow water and slaughtering them. The slaughter, known by the local term 'grindadráp' or 'grind', wipes-out entire family groups of whales and dolphins at one time.
Operation Sleppid Grindini will be SS's 6th.campaign in the Faroe Islands. Led by SS ships Bob Barker, Sam Simon and Brigitte Bardot, and supported by a dedicated land team, the campaign marks SS's strongest at-sea presence in the region to date.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Kiwi Coffee Kills The Cappuchino

Once considered the height of sophistication, the cappuccino may now be in decline.
Starbucks, the world's biggest chain of coffee shops, has taken it off the menu in a number of US outlets. And what's pushed it out…is the good ol' kiwi favourite: the flat white!
Invented during the 1970s in New Zealand, the flat white is a coffee house staple here. And now Starbucks is playing catch-up. But because Americans fear anything unfamiliar, their news outlets have had to publish articles explaining what goes into the drink. Ahhhh, bless! (Incidentally, a flat white should be in between the foam of a cappuccino and the warm milk of a latte.)
The cappuccino has slowly disappeared from some outlets in NY, San Fran and Seattle - the home of the chain. However, it is still available so fans are able to order them as usual. And Starbucks has no plans to stop selling cappuccinos in the UK.
A decent cuppa char!
Digital brand consultant Peter Thompson, who reviews cafes in London and NY, says he for one will not be grieving the loss of the cappuccino: "It's a relic of when the world aspired to drink coffee Italian-style. It represents the mass consumerization of bland and poorly-made chain coffee." He believes the flat white represents a new wave of independent, hipster-style craft coffee from unexpected places.
Sounds a bit ponsy - we kiwis just think it's a bloody good cuppa!