Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Switched on Gardener" gone to pot - police now need to put forward a strong case

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitImage via Wikipedia
"Switched on Gardener" gone to pot - police now need to put forward a strong case...

Warren Brookbanks, Auck Uni, says cannabis case involving 250 people will be complex but police have taken time to gather enough evidence

A law expert says the criminal case against a nationwide garden store facing more than 700 drugs charges will be complex when it gets to court.

Police raided 16 branches of the Switched on Gardener, charging 250 people with a raft of drugs charges. Directors and managers of the companies have been arrested and will be facing charges including cultivating cannabis and participating in an organised criminal group. It is alleged that cannabis growing equipment was sold at the stores to commercial growers. The arrests follow a two year investigation.

Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope says the bust will break the cornerstone of the illicit cannabis cultivation industry.

"Cannabis is the most abused controlled drug in New Zealand. The harm that this drug causes New Zealand communities can be conservatively estimated at $430 million a year. It hurts every community in every part of the country.?

Mr Pope says undercover officers purchased equipment, were given advice on how to grow cannabis and even purchased cannabis clones and other drugs over the counter. Police also seized methamphetamine, LSD, ecstasy and firearms.

Prof Warren Brookbanks from Auckland University says even though the case will be complex, it is not unknown territory for police.

"I imagine there will be a lot of criminal litigation arising out of this as the individuals defend the charges. They will be charged with a wide range of different offences under the Drugs Act."

Mr Brookbanks believes police have taken their time to gain sufficient evidence.

The Police Minister is praising good old fashion detective work for the exposure of the ring. Judith Collins says it has been a long hard slog for those involved.

"I'm very pleased with the fact that police have been able to bring the matter to such a successful conclusion in terms of the investigation, which involved a lot of undercover work."

Ms Collins says the number of arrests and charges shows how deeply these activities have affected communities.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Anzac Day tragedy - helicopter crash kills three people in Wellington, NZ...

Looking south over Pukerua Bay in spring 2006 ...Image via Wikipedia
Anzac Day tragedy - helicopter crash kills three people in Wellington, NZ...

Helicopter crashes in darkness and thick fog on the way to Anzac Day commerations in Wellington, New Zealand...

Three people are dead after an Air Force Iroquois crashed in dark and foggy conditions north of Wellington

An Air Force helicopter has crashed in farmland in Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington, killing three  people.

The Iroquois was en route from Ohakea to Anzac Day commemorations in Wellington.

Local woman Pamela says she thought something was wrong when she heard the helicopter flying over. She says she hears helicopters overhead quite often, and was worried when she realised how low the blades of this one were. Pamela says rescue helicopters are circling the area, and as she was speaking, she was walking down her farm track to see if she could help in any way.

Another local woman can see the crash site, which is a few hundred metres from her home in Pukerua Bay.

She says it looks as if the aircraft went straight into a hill, and it is now hardly recognisable.

The crash happened in darkness and thick fog.

There is  one survivors, who is critically injured  and was taken to hopital.

Apparently there was no fire when the aircraft went down.

Acknowledgements: © 2010 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, April 23, 2010

A new flag and everything that comes with it - the inevitable republican debate...

Proposed new New Zealand flag, created by Jame...Image via Wikipedia

Scott Newman says: I want to re-ask the question, "Does New Zealand need to change the national flag design?" I have some thoughts on why I believe New Zealand could change the flag.

This debate has been going off and on for over 30 years! I am 31 years old and I believe that if we polled the kiwi people of my generation we would find that it is time to change. I personally feel that it is time that we showed our own identity branching away from the monarchy. We do not need to have the union jack on the flag anymore we have our own makeup and plenty more emblems that we could use. We don't need to identify with the UK as we are our own nation.

In 2005 there was a petition to vote on changing the flag but it was withdrawn before election time. I would like to know if the public have changed their mind in 2010.

I like the idea of a silver fern, koru or kiwi to go along with the Southern Cross on either a dark blue or black background. This represents our national teams, culture, bird and nature.

As I have been travelling outside of the country the last few years I have realised that now is a good time to change as there is a lot of pride in our flag. We are often confused as Australian's no matter where we go in the world and the fact of the matter is that our flags are almost the same and then people assume we are the same. (the same but different?) A question I get asked regularly is "where abouts in England or Australia are you from?" I know this is off the strength of my accent but It also rings home about our flag.

The current flag has no ties to the heart of the country as to me it shows the British Empire, the Southern Cross representing the Southern Hemisphere and the fact that this flag is all I've ever known about home as I grew up looking up to this flag. It does not show our Maori culture or how much of a sporting nation we are. I know that war veterans of the past had fought or died under this flag and this is very important. Can it be changed?

So "Why?", "Why change?" I think that it would show New Zealand's independence and freedom. It is already one of the best places to live in the world. I think it would be great to show a modern identity and embrace the past and look ahead to the future. We are a young nation but the more I look at the flag the more I feel that we are suckered to be the 7th state of Australasia. Yes, we are part of the commonwealth. We could show our support in other ways than on our flag.

"Do you have any ideas on a design for a new flag?" Canada managed to change their flag from the traditional union jack and maple leaf to the maple leaf. (Thanks to East Canada) There needs to be a good enough option to go to and enough support to approve it.

But I say: The question on whether New Zealand should change its flag is not a priority at this stage. There will be a debate on this during the inevitable and coming debate about  republicanism. A republic, how a president should be elected, a new flag, an anthem and a constitution will be part of the wider debate. Should New Zealand actually be part of a wider republic: an Anzac or Oceanic republic? It will be important that NZ stows away all its left-over colonial baggage by the time  this debate gets under way; all land grievances will need to be settled and compensation decided.

Should be an interesting future. Ethnic differences will need to be settled as well. It will also need to be widely understood that we were all emigrants to this country - initially from East Polynesia, then Britain, Europe, China,  India, western Polynesia, Melanesia, and latterly  from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The world came to New Zealand.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Anzac Story - Don't forget New Zealand was there too...

Gallipoli CampaignImage via Wikipedia

The Anzac Story  -  Don't forget New Zealand was there too..

In 1914, the cabled reports from Europe gave an Increasingly desperate forecast - Europe was teetering towards war in a conflict between an increasingly stronger and powerful German empire and the rival British, French and Russian alliance.

As Britain returned to work after the August Bank Holiday Monday, war was declared on Germany and the declaration involved the whole British Empire. Australia's Prime Minister Joseph Cook said: "If the Old Country is at war, so are we".

Australia was in the middle of an election campaign. The opposition leader Andrew Fisher promised Great Britain "our last man and our last shilling" in any conflict with Germany. And the Prime Minister responded. 'Our duty is quite clear - to gird up our loins and remember that we are Britons'.

There was almost jubilation at the outbreak of war. Most thought that the war would be all over by Christmas and men rushed to recruiting centres because they didn't want to miss the excitement and adventure.

Read more of theAnzac Story

New Zealand already had compulsory military training. For the war In Europe, Australia raised a new army of volunteers - the Australian Imperial Force (the AIF). Recruiting began within days of the declaration of war.

Canada offered 30,000 men, Australia pledged 20,000 and

Those who were too young raised their ages - and most were accepted.(See 'Boy Soldiers')

In little over a month, marches were held in the main capital cities hoping to encourage others to join them. They were called "six bob a day tourists" because their pay was considered high and many thought the war would soon be over - when Britain's navy and army would tackle the German enemy.

The convoy with the Australian Division assembled in late October, and they were then joined by the New Zealanders. They formed the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - the Anzacs - on their way Europe via the Suez canal But the Anzacs disembarked In Egypt where they encamped near the pyramids ready for action against Turkey which had joined Germany in the war.

The Russians who were fighting on Germany's eastern front, wanted the British and French to tackle the Turks to reduce pressure on Russia. The Anzacs Joined the British and French in a dreadful baptism of fire at Gallipoli. The British commanders anticipated that the Gallipoli peninsula would be "open to landing on very easy terms" and Turkey would have a force of only 40,000 to meet them.

On 25 April 1915, the Anzacs landed at a difficult and desolate spot on the Gallipoli peninsula and the Turks appeared to be ready for them. The Anzacs made little headway over a series of rocky heights covered with thorny scrub. At great cost the Anzacs, British and French made small advances, but Its force was wasting with casualties and sickness, while the Turks were able to reinforce their forces.

In August another offensive was made against the Turks, casualties were heavy, but it failed and a defeat was inevitable, The Gallipoli campaign was a debacle, Military censorship prevented the true story being told but a young Australian journalist, Keith Murdoch (father of Australian newspaper tycoon Rupert Murdoch) smuggled the story about the scale of the Dardanelles disaster back to the Australian Prime Minister who sent it on to the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who was no friend of the British military establishment. It led directly to the dismissal of the British commander, Sir Ian Hamilton who never again was to hold a senior military position.

The British Government ordered an evacuation. By day, the Anzacs kept up their attacks with more Anzacs observed to be landing - by night the force was withdrawn, broken only by sporadic rifle and gunfire. On 20 December 1915, the Anzac retreat was complete, unnoticed by the Turks who continued to bombard the Anzacs' empty trenches. On 9 January 1916, the Turks carried out their last offensive on Gallipoli, revealing only that the entire force had withdrawn without casualty. The evacuation was the Allies most successful operation in Gallipoli.

A British Royal Commission into Gallipoli concluded that from the outset the risk of failure outweighed Its chances of success. The British had contributed 468,000 in the battle for Gallipoli with 33.512 killed. 7,636 missing and 78,000 wounded.

The Anzacs lost 8,000 men in Gallipoli and a further 18,000 were wounded. The Anzacs went on to serve with distinction in Palestine and on the western front in France.

Australia had a population of five million - 330,000 served in the war, 59,000 were killed.

New Zealand with a population of one million lost 18,000 men out of 110,000 and had 55000 wounded. These New Zealand figures (62%) represent the highest percentage of all units from the Anglo-Saxon world.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Anzac Day occurs on 25 April each year - it commemorates all of New Zealand's war dead...

Anzac Day occurs on 25 April each year.. It commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women

The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim was to capture the Dardanelles, the gateway to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders.

Thousands lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign: 87,000 Turks, 44,000 men from France and the British Empire, including 8500 Australians. To this day, Australia also marks the events of 25 April. Among the dead were 2721 New Zealanders, almost one in four of those who served on Gallipoli.

It may have led to a military defeat, but for many New Zealanders then and since, the Gallipoli landings meant the beginning of something else – a feeling that New Zealand had a role as a distinct nation, even as it fought on the other side of the world in the name of the British Empire.

Anzac Day was first marked in 1916. The day has gone through many changes since then. The ceremonies that are held at war memorials up and down New Zealand, or in places overseas where New Zealanders gather, remain rich in tradition and ritual befitting a military funeral.

Support for Anzac Day within New Zealand has been growing in recent years, and increasing numbers of young people have become not only interested in our past, but are also supporting their families by attending dawn parades and other commemorative activities. Many younger New Zealanders have been attending  the ceremonies at Gallipoli in Turkey, the scene of the landings at what is now called Anzac Cove.

Anzac Day is an opportunity to remember the sacrifices made by our young servicemen and women in all wars since the Gallipoli campaign in the First World, 1914-18, the Second World War, 1939-45, and the Korean War in the early 1950's,  the Malayan emergency in the early 1960's,the Vietnam War from the mid 1960's to early 1970's, and a number of other conflicts including East Timor and Afghanistan. So far there have been no serious injuries or deaths in the latter, but the longer they become involved, the chances are increased. Whenever and wherever we will always remember them!

NZ History

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An 89 year old apple cider, perhaps...

Gala (apple)Image via Wikipedia
An 89 year old apple cider perhaps...

New Zealand appears to have won an 89 year old battle to export apples to Australia, after leaked reports suggest the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has found in favour of New Zealand in the long standing battle of orchardists on both sides of the Tasman. The ban should be overturned in the near future, but an appeal by Australia can't be counted out.

For 89 years Australia orchardists have incorrectly claimed and maintained that New Zealand apples would endanger the Australian domestic apple market with the risk of fireblight disease. I have never read of any proof being offered from Australian interests.

New Zealand exports apples to the huge American market and to other countries. There has never been any suggestion of fireblight being connected with Kiwi exports of apples.

An Australian resident, Sam Bradley, suggests Kiwi competition would teach Australian orchardists to farm more efficiently. New Zealand apples would continue to be effectively examined for any diseases, as they are done globally at present.

Another Australian who was rather disappointed with the variety and quality of NZ fruit, considering the best quality is exported, loved the yummy NZ apples, especially the Royal Gala variety, also a favourite of mine.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Concentrate on product quality in the US - not the clean green or carbon footprint...

District of ColumbiaImage via Wikipedia
Don't bother mentioning "sustainability" or "carbon footprint" to the average American consumer - they won't know what you're talking about.

Kiwi companies looking to sell their wares in the US are being told to tone down the clean green headlines and instead push issues of quality, local craftsmanship and community responsibility.

Research conducted by the Seattle-based Hartman Group for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise shows Americans have only an "entry level" understanding of sustainability, and are not familiar with terms such as "food miles" or "traceability".

Hartman asked four focus groups - two in Washington DC and two in Seattle - plus retailers such as supermarket chain Safeway and natural products seller Whole Foods Market about their attitudes towards sustainability and New Zealand.

Senior director Kirk Cornell said apart from a hard core of eco-aware consumers, most people did not equate sustainability with concern for the planet.

"If you talk to them at length they will arrive at the point where it has something to do with green.

But, top of mind, there's no immediate linkage with anything environmental."

This was the same across all income levels, he said. Instead, America was undergoing a "quality revolution", with consumers harking back to what they saw as simpler, pure times when Grandma did her own pickling. In the case of food, they equated quality with products that were fresh and produced by smaller, local companies using organic and animal-friendly processes.

Bad food was mass-produced and contained elements perceived as harmful, such as genetically modified ingredients and high-fructose corn syrup.

The good news for New Zealand was the characteristics of quality were almost the same as those of clean and green.

"Fresh is an uber-symbol of quality and sustainability," the research said.

The other good news was that Americans had a "quasi-mythological" view of New Zealand, Cornell said.

Their image was limited to what they had seen on the Discovery Channel or in movies such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but even these fragmentary glimpses were overwhelmingly positive, he said.

New Zealand was seen as a kind of pre-modern economy in which organic food was the norm, everyone recycled, there was no over-exploitation of resources and little foreign ownership. "You really couldn't ask for a better image."

While Americans did not spend time thinking about where their products came from they did care that they weren't made in China or other mass-producing Asian nations.

That a product came from New Zealand could be used as a positive. "The notion of locale, of a product being from somewhere that's uniquely suited for making such products, plays very powerfully for the US consumer," the Hartman Group report said.

This is something for us to think about - don't get full of our own importances or force our standards overseas -when in Rome do what the Romans do. Do our homework first!

Acknowledgements :MSN

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, April 9, 2010

What are the facts and truth in relation to the decision not to scatter Sir Edmund Hillary's remaining ashes on Mount Everest...

The upper slopes of Mount Everest. The Southea...Image via Wikipedia
What are the facts and truth in relation to the decision not to scatter Sir Edmund Hillary's remaining ashes on Mount Everest?

I wrote the following post about a week ago here and on a couple of my other blogsites:

"Sir Ed's ashes to be scattered on Mount Everest this week...

The ashes of 1953 Mount Everest conqueror, Sir Edmund Hillary, affectionally known as Sir Ed, will be scattered on the mountain this week by Nepalese mountaineer Apa Sherpa.

Most of Sir Ed's ashes were scattered in the sea off Auckland, New Zealand in 2008, but he wanted some returned to the mountain he climbed in the country he loved.

Fifty year old Apa, plans to place the ashes on the summit of Mount Everest when he attempts to personally conquer the peak for a record twentieth time this coming week. Sir Ed's son, Peter, also a former mountaineer, fully supports the bid by Apa Sherpa. Sir Ed is held in the highest esteem by the Nepalese people."

But however I read in the local Wellington newspaper, the Dominion Post this morning that all bets are off:

AngTenzing Sherpa, chief of Sherpa citizens group Khumbu Civil Society, has announced that the scattering of ashes on the mountain, considered a god by their Sherpa culture, was against their culture and tradition. Really?

How could a man who regularly visited and lived in Nepal off and on for decades, not know the traditions of the Sherpa culture and traditions? Why would he make a request in his will for some of his ashes to be scattered on the mountain? How could Apa Sherpa, who has climbed Mount Everest a record 19 times also be ignoranr of Sherpa culture and traditions?

The remaining ashes of Sir Ed's body will be kept at a memorial at the first school Sir Ed opened in Khumjung in Nepal.

How could such an incredible error of judgement be made, or are there political forces and intrigue at work in this remote and politically volatile country? It would be extremely sad if there were? Read one of the related articles linked below.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sir Ed's ashes to be scattered on Mount Everest this week...

Graeme Mulholland uploaded this 2006-01-28 pho...Image via Wikipedia
Sir Ed's ashes to be scattered on Mount Everest this week...

The ashes of1953 Mount Everest conqueror, Sir Edmund Hillary, affectionally known as Sir Ed, will be scattered on the mountain this week by Nepalese mountaineer Apa Sherpa.

Most of Sir Ed's ashes were scattered in the sea off Auckland, New Zealand in 2008, but he wanted some returned to the mountain he climbed in the country he loved.

Fifty year old Apa, plans to place the ashes on the summit of Mount Everest when he attempts to personally conquer the peak for a record twentieth time this coming week. Sir Ed's son, Peter, also a former mountaineer, fully supports the bid by Apa Sherpa. Sir Ed is held in the highest esteem by the Nepalese people.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]