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Learning to live in world of suspicion

Surveillance is back in the news again, now that the government has received the Independent Review of Intelligence and Security Services by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy. Later this year there may well be a new law in place with enhanced surveillance capacity for our intelligence agencies.

So, what is ‘surveillance’? Why should we be concerned about it?

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The gorilla in our living room…


There’s an 800 lb gorilla sitting in our living room. It’s called immigration and the scale of it influences almost every issue from education to housing and infrastructure. But only New Zealand First leader  Winston Peters is drawing attention to the limitations of an open door immigration policy.

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A day in the life of Nick Smith

7:34 am

Ah yes, the delights of Auckland. This city is a second home to me. Look how prosperous the inhabitants are, how well everyone appears to be doing.

Look at that family over there sleeping in their car. It’s a bit cramped with Mum, Dad and the four kids squeezed in, but I remember when I first got onto the property ladder. You don’t start out by buying the biggest and most expensive accommodation. You start small. Those people have the right idea.

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Sobbing in the shower – how stress damages

How do you cope with the stressful periods in your life? With a bit of time on the clock, I’ve had a couple of times in my life where I wrestled with stress and its unhappy consequences. And I don’t mean the normal everyday stresses that family, work and community life throw at us on a regular basis.

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Just not enough minutes in the day!

take it easy

Ever feel like there’s just not enough minutes in the day?  Who hasn’t?  It seems that busyness has become the new norm. For some even a badge of honour.

 “Just not enough minutes in the day!” –  declared with a proud smile, a shrug of the shoulders and shake of the head.  “I’ve just been so busy!”  The words slip off the tongue as easily as a mindless “How are you?” It’s expected.

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Water, water everywhere…

What happens if you’re in the middle of Auckland with its 60-plus ethnicities and  want just a sip, not a bottle of water?

Linguistic confusion. It’s born out of the locals taking their lingo for granted – and new arrivals interpreting what they say,  just a little too literally.

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The Unholy Triad

I’ve always struggled to understand economics, which means I have a bit of cheek embarking on   a view of the economics of the western world. Still, in my possibly naive view there are simple rules. Take Alzheimers for instance. By taking daily exercise, eating healthy food and maintaining mental and social stimulation, there is a good chance of avoiding Alzheimers. Similar rules apply for avoiding type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and probably many other diseases that swoop in when the rules are ignored.

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So what the heck is wrong with sugary drinkss?

Sweet asThere are plenty of things worse than the occasional soft drink. Like Islamic State, or athlete’s foot, or genital warts. Shouldn’t we tax these things first, before we attack those delicious and very reasonably-priced soft drinks that bring such joy to the lives of our beloved children?

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When you’re young and in love…

Balham, London, 1961. I was twenty and my fiancé eighteen when we decided to get married.    London was my fiancé’s home town. Being young and in love we discounted obstacles, the first being my girlfriend’s mother, who was not impressed by the idea. Not only was I from a northern tribe with a Liverpool accent, I was a labourer. We never did become pals but we learned to tolerate each other.

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