floral staircase IranJust look at this street art –  roses in Iran,  Dali in Philadelphia.  Any  similarly stunning parallels here?  Nope. Dali image between walls at Philly Muse of artIn short we haven’t even picked up our paint brushes yet and we should if these two amazing transformations of  concrete into colour show.

Time to prod those boring city planners into allowing letting our most creative and artistic minds do the same for us!


What makes us feel our age. Okay, feel old? Insurance companies.   Try getting cover for travel and they pore over every minute detail of  anything from heart murmurs (was that a really a murmur Sir – or potentially more like, how should we put it in the most consumer- friendly way, a death rattle Sir? (Answer Yes/No).

The year’s most absurd insurance deals in the fun side of taking out insurance.  An old codger wombles along a pier for a spot of fishing.   As you do,  he calls up his insurance company for funeral cover, and instantly becomes a charmed fisherman. landing  4-5 fish.   Arghhh…!


John Key announced to the Paris Climate Change Conference last week that his government would spend $20 million to help farmers reduce emissions.

Wow $20 million for climate change’, wrote one reader on Stuff. ’26 million for a flag change. What a cheep (sic) shot!’


 Former Labour Leader David Cunliffe who is far and away the party’s best debater yet the party has sent him to the Outback-bench.  Yes he probably irritated his colleagues, but many were hardly supportive as he fought to win the last election against National’s ‘dirty politics’. He made plenty of mistakes but he remains one of Labour’s most experienced politicians holding top level cabinet portfolios Helen Clark’s administration. Here’s part of his maiden speech delivered in February 2000:

‘I did not run for Parliament against the National Party. I ran for Parliament against despair, and against the idea that this land – this taonga that I love – is broken beyond repair and that there is nothing that the Government in partnership with the people can do to fix it. I was sent with a clear mandate: where there is wrong, right it; where there is injustice, fight it; where there is hunger, feed it; and where there are no jobs, find some… ”

How rare to hear the  voice of the traditional Left.

Years later his views haven’t changed and a speech he made in Parliament on November 4, was applauded by those who watched him attack the way the government has kneecapped community groups like the Problem Gambling Foundation (it opposed enlarging the Auckland Casino); its creeping influence on media (John Campbell, Carol Hirschfeld and other dissenting voices out, pro-government performers in) and the way it had undermined the neutrality of the public service.  See: http://thestandard.org.nz/david-cunliffe-on-the-state-of-the-media-in-new-zealand/

 Who else in Labour has, or could provide such a comprehensive critique? And why would Labour seek to silence him the way they have? The old story – personalities, payback – and the dominance of the Right in what is in name a left wing party. Odd when Canada and Britain – and most recently Portugal – have swung to the left.

But what was Labour’s biggest mistake in this shadow cabinet re-shuffle? By effectively marginalising him, it made National’s job so much easier.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.