Pike River media handling raises many questions

It probably won't be a big feature of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River Mine disaster, but some questions do need to be asked about how the authorities handled the media during the disaster. 

My first question is who took the decision to place a cordon around the mine and prevent media from travelling to the site? This restricted access and obliged the media to base themselves in Greymouth.

In praise of the Wellys

The list of winners of the grand accolade of Wellingtonian of the Year is a record of the great and the good, the achievers and the worthy contributors to our city over the last quarter century.

And so it was again on Thursday when long serving community representative and all round good person, Ruth Gotlieb, was named as the 2010 Wellingtonian of the Year at a flash do at the Wellington Town Hall.

Two fine young men ride for polio

Two young men left Cape Reinga on Thursday morning for a 3358 km bike ride to Bluff.

This is no casual road trip. It's a celebration and a fundraiser by two guys who are best mates, experienced cyclists, and idealists prepared to help out other people.

They are 24 year old Xaver Hausner from Bavaria in Germany and 23-year-old Oliver Macindoe, both students at Victoria University. The celebration is for the end of Xaver's time in New Zealand as a Rotary Ambassadorial scholar. The two met in Germany when Ollie spent six weeks there on a school visit.

The cause is polio. It's been unknown in New Zealand for many years, but is still found in just four countries in the world - India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Don't kiss me Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton is a very brave person. She will need to be. She isn't just taking a husband. She is also marrying into a family of serial misbehavers, and she is also wedding the world's media of which the English royal media are the most petty and intrusive.

The Royal Family in the UK is the only soap opera that has been running longer than Coronation Street, and like them or not, both still entertain millions.

I feel sorry for Kate, because with a simple yes, she has surrendered her right ever to be herself again. She is now the property of the world - forever.

Here's to Benji, the Kiwis, league and Sonny Bill

There are some players that just look like leaders and Kiwis' captain Benji Marshall is one of them. A brilliant player and play maker in his own right, he wore the captain's hat proudly on Saturday and performed like a leader too.

McCaw is another whose practises leadership well now, although his quality as a leader and his performances in his earliest days as captain were not of the standard that they are now.

Super John saves the Hobbit

Take a brilliant but flawed cinematic genius. Add a dumb blonde called Robyn who becomes the naive but willing tool of an Australian predator. Mix in thousands of extras who want to be extras and more. Fly in some menacing fat cats from a gangster town who have power and cash and are ruthless about both. Sprinkle liberally with prejudice, rumour, gossip and agitation and propaganda of various kinds, and play nightly on television.

What have you got?  Hobbit Street, (subtitled Outrageous Misspending?)  our latest and greatest soap opera. But wait there's more. We forgot about the superhero, who takes the fat cats into his lair and sweet-talks them until they reluctantly take our money, and give us what we want.

Hobbit saga shows our vulnerabilities

There are many different aspects to the row over the Hobbit and varying views over what is the core issue. Is it the right of actors and related staff to organise and get proper wages and conditions, as Actors Equity and the CTU would claim? Or is it simply about doing whatever is necessary to keep the local film industry going even if that means working for lesser pay and conditions, so that the industry can survive?

Or is it all a dastardly plot by an Aussie union to destroy the New Zealand film industry so that their own industry can eliminate a cheaper competitor? And what about the role of the mercenary corporate film companies in Los Angeles who, it is said, care nothing about where a film is made as long g as it turns a dollar.

Celia gets an early reality check

The cheering for the new mayor has barely died down and the post mortems on the old mayor haven't even begun, and reality is already banging Celia Wade Brown's head on the ground.

The reality check comes from the government's reaction to the aspiration of Auckland's new Mayor Len Brown for "a central-city rail loop, a link to the airport and a line over a new harbour crossing to the North Shore, all over five to 15 years" according to the NZ Herald.

Under the headline "Tightfisted Key deals blow to Brown's rail plan, Key is quoted as saying " ratepayers would have to pay for Mr Brown's plans to fast-track rail.

Paul Henry is not the real villain

So Paul Henry has quit. Big deal. His resignation (if indeed that was what happened) simply disguises the real issues involved here.

While some commentators have made much of the Henry ability to make embarrassing gaffes or to just to be embarrassing or gauche or rude or some combination of those, others have accused him of racism and worst. To be fair he has his defenders and that included his employer - at least until Sunday.

To my mind the real issue is not what he said, but the way in which he was licensed to say whatever he wanted.

Why Voting Matters

Elections matter because who leads and who gets to decide important stuff matter. There are some who say it doesn't matter whoever  is elected because not much changes, or that the 'real' power lies elsewhere ,or that politicians routinely lie, saying one thing before an election and doing differently afterwards.

There is a small amount of truth in all of those propositions: enough to keep the believers satisfied, but not enough overall to make not voting or not taking an intelligent interest in world or local affairs a responsible option.