media release – New Zealand can hold its head high, sports professor says

New Zealand can hold its head high, sports professor says

New Zealand can hold its head high in the cricketing world, University of Canterbury sports coaching professor Richard Light says.

The efforts and spirit of the team captivated the nation and took New Zealanders on an exciting ride to the pinnacle of one day cricket, the head of the university’s School of Sport and Physical Education says.

“The Black Caps played the Cricket World Cup in a way that represented the spirit of New Zealand, making a very positive statement to the world about New Zealand.

“They played with confidence, aggression, belief in themselves and the team and were a joy to watch. They were fearless, and as one of Australia’ most combative captains, Steve Waugh, asked his teams to do, left nothing on the field. Any team that does that can never have any regrets.

“The final was probably a little disappointing but the team’s performance at the tournament is beyond criticism. The team played the same way in the final that had taken them unbeaten through the rest of the tournament but on this occasion their lack of experience at this level was probably a disadvantage.

“Playing in front of 93,000 spectators in one of the greatest sport stadiums in the world with the weight of a nation on their shoulders is a tough ask, and particularly against a team like Australia that is so intensely competitive. Nobody choked – they did not quite play their best.

“New Zealand had been at the top their game for the entire tournament but it was widely assumed that if Australia were able to be at the top of their game in the final they would triumph.

“We should not let one game, even though it was the final, detract from the amazing achievement of the Black Caps and what they have done for New Zealand cricket.

“We should celebrate their fabulous achievement and look forward to the future. New Zealand has now emerged as a major player in world cricket and we should be ensuring that we build on this success.

“Prime Minister John Key said before the final that he expected huge growth in cricket among New Zealand girls and boys and this needs to be the focus of well thought out plans to grow the game. This is not only to boost the numbers playing cricket but also to follow the wonderful example set for the whole country by the Black Caps that goes beyond merely winning.

“The success of the Black Caps rested on a team-first ethos, belief in each other and the team as a collective, confidence and freedom of spirit that not only won games but won many fans in New Zealand and elsewhere. Above all, the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play demonstrated by the Black Caps set them apart from many other teams including Australia.

“The Black Caps provided a much-needed example of how teams can win without compromising the values and ethics of sport that are so often threatened. In this regard, New Zealand was the winner on Sunday night,” Professor Light says.

Media Release – Celebrating 50 years of astronomy

Celebrating 50 years of astronomy

A celebration of half a century of optical astronomy at New Zealand’s premier astronomical research facility is the focus of a new book published by Canterbury University Press (CUP) this month.

Mt John — The First 50 Years: A celebration of half a century of optical astronomy at the University of Canterbury looks at the history of one of the most beautiful astronomical observatories in the world, Mt John University Observatory at Tekapo.

In this richly illustrated book authors Professor John Hearnshaw and Alan Gilmore explore the turbulent history of the observatory which was founded at Lake Tekapo in the Mackenzie Basin and opened in 1965. The work carried out at Mt John, especially in stellar astronomy, is known and respected around the world.

“I hope the book provides an engrossing and enthralling account of the development of an iconic New Zealand scientific institution,” says Hearnshaw, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at the University of Canterbury.

“There were personality battles, funding shortfalls, a student demonstration and even a destructive fire to contend with as the observatory grew in size and importance.”

Astronomical research has thrived at Mt John over the past 50 years. In the past decade it has been complemented by the rise of astronomical tourism. Now Mt John is now both a research observatory and a mecca for stargazing astro-tourists, who come to see the pristine landscape and the amazing dark night skies.

“In the past decade, Mt John and the Mackenzie region have become prominent in astro-tourism. They are both recognised as places to visit to see the natural night sky,” says Gilmore.

“There is an interest in the observatory’s origins and development. It is also a tourist route and receives several hundred visitors a day.” 

The book is richly illustrated with almost 200 images, many of them outstanding landscape and nightscape photographs taken by the acclaimed Tekapo photographer Fraser Gunn.

About the authors:
John Hearnshaw was born in Wellington. He studied for a doctorate in astronomy at ANU in Canberra and took up a lectureship in astronomy at the University of Canterbury in 1976. He became a full professor at Canterbury in 1995 and retired with the position of Emeritus Professor of Astronomy in May 2014. For 25 of his 38 years at Canterbury, he was the director of Mt John Observatory.

Alan Gilmore developed an interest in astronomy from an early age, building telescopes while at school and using them for amateur observing work. He completed a degree in physics from Victoria University and worked at Wellington’s Carter Observatory before moving to Mt John at the end of 1980 to take up the position of Mt John superintendent (site manager).


Mt John — The First 50 Years: A celebration of half a century of optical astronomy at the University of Canterbury by John Hearnshaw and Alan Gilmore, published by Canterbury University Press, March 2015, RRP $59.99, ISBN: 978-1-927145-62-3.

media release – renowned roboticist who says robots could save lives to talk on campus

Renowned roboticist who says robots could save lives to talk on campus


March 29, 2015


A renowned roboticist who says robots in war could save soldiers’ lives and ultimately reduce civilian casualties will give a public lecture on killer robots at the University of Canterbury on Tuesday.


Professor Ron Arkin is concerned how technology impacts the world and with how the application of technology can improve it. His talk on campus will focus on lethal autonomous robots and the plight of non-combatants.


His research interests include behaviour-based control and action-oriented perception for mobile robots and UAVs, robot survivability, multi-agent robotics, human-robot interaction, robot ethics and learning in autonomous systems.


Professor Arkin, from the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a central figure in current debates on military applications of robots. His visit is being organised by the university’s Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HITLab) which studies robots and human interaction with technology.


HITLab doctoral student Sean Welsh says the United Nations has considered the many issues surrounding the use of lethal autonomous weapons systems from a variety of legal, ethical, operational, and technical perspectives.


“The latest to emerge from military technology are unmanned weapon systems; remote controlled robots that are replacing human soldiers in war.  We know robots have the ability to significantly reduce civilian casualties in battle. This can lead to a moral imperative for their use due to the enhanced likelihood of reduced non-combatant deaths.


“If the use of killer robots is not properly addressed or is hastily deployed, it can lead to serious problems in the future. Ron’s talk will encourage people to think of ways to approach the issues of restraining lethal autonomous weapons systems from illegal or immoral actions in the context of international humanitarian and human rights law, whether through technology or legislation.”


“The introduction of robots in war changes the premises of warfare and radically redefines the soldiers’ experience of going to war.


“Robots could do better than humans as war-fighters because they provide better sensors, such as seeing through walls. They have an absence of self-preservation emotions. They have an ability to re-compute scenarios in the light of fresh data and most importantly they can have a complete focus on the strictures of military duty and the rule of international humanitarian law.


“When the United States military went into Iraq in 2003, it employed only a few robotic planes, so called drones. Today, thousands of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) and Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV’s) are being used in mainly Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan and lately for the military intervention in Libya.


“Most robots are unarmed and used for surveillance, reconnaissance, or destruction of mines and other explosive devices. However, in the past years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of armed robots in combat. New technology permits soldiers to kill without being in any danger, further increasing the distance from the battlefield and the enemies.”

Patient Information on Excessive Fees

Patient Information on Excessive Fees

Friday 27 March, 2015

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has developed an information sheet to support patients and referring doctors of the issues surrounding surgical fees.

The information sheet details questions to ask and the rights of patients, and has been produced in close consultation with consumer advocates, health insurers, the ACCC and other key groups.

College President Michael Grigg says high fees do not necessarily guarantee quality of treatment, care or outcome and that those charging excessive fees are in breach of the College’s Code of Conduct and will be dealt with by the College.

“While the vast majority of surgeons do the right thing by their patients we are still seeing reports in the media of excessive and even extortionate fees being charged,” RACS President Professor Grigg said.

Professor Grigg said that one of the biggest issues to address was to ensure that patients and referring doctors were more fully informed about possible fees.

Key points on the information sheet are the RACS:

  • strongly supports full disclosure and transparency of fees as early as possible in the patient-doctor relationship
  • advocates that patients understand all available treatment options
  • encourages concerned patients to seek second opinions on recommended treatments and the fees to be charged

 The information sheet is available on the College website.

Any patient facing potentially excessive out-of-pocket fees can contact the College on:

Professional Standards
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
Phone: +61 3 9249 1200

Tell the Govt: No Foreign Investor Rights to Sue NZ!

Tell the Govt: No Foreign Investor Rights to Sue NZ!
27 March 2015
On 7 March 10,000 Kiwis marched in 23 cities and towns around the country sending a strong message to the government saying #TPPANoDeal (Media coverage of the day is at the bottom of this bulletin). We now have the opportunity to send another message. Wikileaks has posted the investment chapter for the TPPA which confirms all our worst fears. It is even worse than the chapter in the 'free trade agreement' NZ has signed with South Korea. The Korea FTA will soon go to Select Committee, and kiwis will get the opportunity to voice their concerns about all these agreements that allow foreign investors to sue us when government does something that hits their bottom line. 

Head to the It's Our Future website, which explains why signing up to deals that allow foreign corporations to sue NZ is a bad idea and  send in a pre-written submission, or write your own. 

Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill

NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau's Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill has now been drawn from the Ballot. The Bill contains a single active provision that says that 'New Zealand must not enter into an agreement with one or more foreign countries that includes provision for investor-state dispute settlement.' It is vital that people show as much support as they possibly can for this Bill. Check out Fletcher's piece in the Rotorua Daily Post for more info. 

January 2015 investment text leaked

Wikileaks posted the almost completed investment chapter from January 2015. It's as bad as expected and confirms why we need to defeat this deal. See analysis by Public Citizen, Jane Kelsey's comparison with the NZ Korea FTA, and AFTINET press release.

Why do GCSB spies have a ‘trade team’?

Nicky Hager and The Intercept have revealed the GSCB has a special ‘trade team’, which last year was spying on the rivals to Trade Minister Tim Groser for the top job at the WTO. The Labour Party has called for the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security to investigate. The Greens asked questions in the House. What we want to know is: are the GCSB spying on other TPPA countries and those campaigning internationally against the deal? 

Get used to the term ‘ISDS’

ISDS is shorthand for investor-state dispute settlement – the rights of foreign investors to sue under the TPPA and other ‘free trade and investment’ agreements. It’s so much easier to use the shorthand so please get familiar with it.

Massive backlash against ISDS in the US
When the libertarian Cato institute supports the views of left Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren that ISDS is a bad thing, sit up and take notice. There is a huge backlash against ISDS in the US. If it’s an issue for them, it should be for us.
Is this really the TPPA end game?
Last week negotiators met in Hawaii to prepare the ground for ministers to decide on TPPA outcomes. They have basically finished most issues, except for IP (meds and Internet) and environment. Areas like investment and SOEs are pretty much there. The big hold-up, as before, is that no one will do anything until the US and Japan reach a deal on agriculture and autos. Abe and Obama meet in the US on 28 April. They want to say they have a deal but they aint there yet.
Cold feet over a US deal without Fast Track
As the 12 countries reach the ‘end game’ of the TPPA they face the reality that the US Congress can pick apart any ‘final’ deal. Obama is nowhere near getting that Fast Track authority which would tie the hands of Congress. Both PM John Key and Groser have hinted they won’t sign a deal without Fast Track – which may never happen.
Groser says TPPA could collapse like WTO Doha round
In Washington this week Tim Groser was pushing for Congress to give the President Fast Track authority, saying otherwise the TPPA could go into cold storage like negotiations in the WTO.
TPPA may go into cold store from June

Plans for trade ministers to meet in mid-April have been delayed until late May, either before or after they are due to meet for the APEC meeting. That is really tight for Obama if he wants to get a deal through while he is President. Most assessments say that must be by June.

Legal Scholars' Letter

More than 100 law professors have signed a letter about investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in agreements like TPPA. The letter is addressed to Congressional Leaders and the US Trade Representative urging them to "protect the rule of law and the nation's sovereignty" in trade negotiations.

Media Coverage of 7 March Day of Action

There were over 25 mainstream media stories covering the marches.

Before the march
NZ just a ‘minnow’ in controversial TPP deal (3 March, Otago Daily Times)
Protest to reinforce TPPA opposition (5 March, Rotorua Daily Post)
Rallies to oppose Trans-Pacific pact (5 March, The Nelson Mail)
TPPA protest set for Saturday (6 March, SunLive)
Over 1000 expected to join anti-TPPA march (6 March 2015, The Press)
Trojan horse to lead Auckland march against trade deal (7 March, TVNZ) (story now links to later coverage instead)
TPPA protests planned around the country (7 March, 3 News)
After the march
Pictures: Thousands of Kiwis rally against TPPA deal (7 March, TVNZ) (news item from TV not available now for some reason)
Thousands march against TPPA free trade agreement (7 March, 3 News)
Over 20 Trans Pacific Partnership protests in action (7 March, NZ Herald)
Protesters ‘totally opposed’ to Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (7 March, Timaru Herald)
Thousands rally against TPP (7 March, Radio NZ)
Thousand march against TPPA (7 March, Newstalk ZB)
Govt urged to front up over TPP details (8 March, Radio NZ)
Protesters march against TPPA in Christchurch (8 March, The Press)
Hughes more open to ‘deals’ (9 March, Gisborne Herald) – covers the TPPA protest
TPPA protest rally undaunted (9 March, Nelson Mail)
Protesters flag TPPA threat to sovereignty (9 March, Wanganui Chronicle)
Rally blasts TPPA risks (9 March, Hawke’s Bay Today)
Hamilton join Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement rallies (9 March, Waikato Times)
Protesters march against trade deal: Taking to the streets to make a stand (9 March, Manawatu Standard)
TPPA protest walk brings 200 to town (9 Mar Bay of Plenty Times)
March against ‘dirty deal’ done in secrecy (9 March, Otago Daily Times)
Fletcher Tabuteau: Laws are not made for foreign corporate (10 March, Rotorua Daily Post)
TPP heating up on all sides (19 March, Te Waha Nui)

We've also collected a bunch of amazing images from all our amazing actions – we're currently working on putting all of these into a gallery on our website and will share that with you once we are able. 

In the meantime, those of you on facebook can check the TPPA Images to see some awesome pics!

Media Release: NZ-Korea FTA Select Committee provides Kiwis chance to break silence on ISDS

 NZ-Korea FTA Select Committee provides Kiwis chance to break silence on ISDS

The Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade committee is now accepting public submissions on the NZ-Korea Free Trade Agreement, providing Kiwis with a rare chance to break the silence on the controversial investor-state dispute settlement provisions  in that agreement and in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), according to It’s Our Future NZ.

It’s Our Future NZ has established a submission platform on their website that provides a wealth of information on these extraordinary provisions that allow foreign investors to sue governments for actions that affect their bottom line, according to spokesperson Edward Miller.

“The absolute secrecy of these negotiations has deprived New Zealanders of the right to participate in public affairs and left them relying on leaked texts to test government's assurances that the national interest is protected”, said Edward Miller. "Yesterday's leaked investment chapter proved that New Zealander's can't rely on what the government says".

“Now the Korean deal has been signed the Select Committee will receive submissions, and we will encourage as many people as possible to voice their concerns about ISDS provisions in the TPPA and the NZ-Korea FTA”, said Miller.

“New Zealanders are generally concerned at how these cases can undermine our right to make our own policies and laws, for example on tobacco or mining, or planning decisions by local governments. The OECD estimates that the average cost of defending an ISDS case is US$8 million, and the awards can cost billions of dollars.”

“There is growing concern over these agreements, and that is why on 7 March 10,000 New Zealanders in 23 towns and cities around the country marched to express their opposition to the TPPA. Seven councils across the country have now adopted a 12 point TPPA Resolution (most recently Lower Hutt Council just this week) and many more have passed remits. New Zealanders have not been silent on this issue, and will use this Select Committee hearing to raise their voices again.”

iPredict Update: Peters Triumphant; Key Weakens; Shaw Emerges



Friday 27 March 2015



NZ First leader Winston Peters is expected to win the Northland by-election tomorrow with a majority of 1394, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict.  Prime Minister John Key’s position has weakened, and he now has only a 32% probability of remaining National Party leader through to the end of 2017.  James Shaw has emerged as a contender for the Green Party co-leadership, with a 27% probability of winning the job behind favourite Kevin Hague.  The Official Cash Rate is now expected to remain on hold until January next yearFonterra’s final payouts (before retentions) are expected to be $4.82 on 2014/15, rising to $6.10 in 2015/16 and $6.49 in 2016/17.  National remains favoured to win the next General Election with 55% probability.

New Zealand Politics:

·       NZ First leader Winston Peters is now overwhelmingly expected to win the Northland by-election (84% probability, up from 77% last week), ahead of National’s Mark Osborne (14% probability, down from 23%).  Mr Peters’ majority is expected to be 1394

·       James Shaw has emerged as a contender to be the next male co-leader of the Green Party, with 27% (up from 5% last week).   Kevin Hague remains favoured with 62% probability (down from 90%)

·       John Key is strongly expected to remain National leader until at least the end of 2016 (88% probability, up from 77% last week) but just a 32% probability of remaining National leader until at least the end of 2017 (down sharply from 51% last week)

·       Andrew Little is overwhelmingly expected to remain Labour leader until at least the end of 2016 (97% probability, up from 82% last week) and has a 72% probability of remaining Labour leader until the end of 2017 (up from 39% last week).  There is a 55% probability he will still be Labour leader by the end of 2020

·       Stocks on who will be National and Labour leaders on Nomination Day for the next General Election have been launched today

·       Paula Bennett remains favourite to become National Party leader if a vacancy arises (33%, up from 30% last week), followed by Steven Joyce (26%, up from 25%)

·       Stocks on who is favoured to become Labour Party leader if a vacancy arises will be launched in the near future

·       Judith Collins expected to be appointed to Cabinet before next election (55% probability, down from 73% last week)

·       Next election expected in 2017 (92% probability, steady compared with last week)

·       Forecast party vote shares at next election:

o   National                             45.1% (steady compared with last week)

o   Labour                               32.6% (up from 32.4%)

o   Greens                               11.0% (steady)

o   NZ First                               6.9% (steady)

o   Others                                 4.4% (down from 4.6%)

·       National expected to win 2017 General Election (55% probability, steady compared with last week)

·       Almost no chance Wellington councils will be amalgamated by end of 2015 (only 6% probability they will be, down from 9% last week)

New Zealand Economics:

·       Fruit-fly outbreak expected to be contained with fewer than 20 Queensland fruitflies expected to be found in New Zealand as part of current outbreak (79% probability, up from 65% last week)

·       New Zealand dollar expected to reach parity with Australian dollar by the end of 2015 (57% probability, down from 62% last week) but not before July 2015 (23% probability, up from 12%)

·       Quarterly GDP growth expected to be:

o   0.8% in the March quarter (up from 0.7% last week)

o   1.1% in the June quarter (steady)

o   1.1% in the September quarter (steady)

o   1.1% in the December quarter (steady)

·       Annual growth expected to be 4.1% in the 2015 calendar year (up from 4.0% last week)

·       Unemployment expected to be:

o   5.4% in the March quarter (steady compared with last week)

o   5.3% in the June quarter (steady)

o   5.2% in the September quarter (steady)

o   5.3% in the December quarter (steady)

·       Current account deficit expected to be 3.6% of GDP in the March quarter (up from 3.5% last week), 3.5% in the June quarter (up from 3.4%) and 3.4% in the September quarter (steady)

·       Annual inflation expected to be:

o   0.2% to end of March 2015 quarter (steady compared with last week)

o   0.4% to end of June 2015 quarter (steady)

o   0.6% to end of September 2015 quarter (down from 0.7%)

o   1.0% to end of December 2015 quarter (steady)

·       Official Cash Rate priced to be:

o   3.488% on 30 April (down from 3.493% last week)

o   3.475% on 11 June (down from 3.480%)

o   3.455% on 23 July (down from 3.460%)

o   3.417% on 10 September (down from 3.419%)

o   3.395% on 29 October (steady)

o   3.377% on 10 December (down from 3.381%)

o   3.367% on 28 January 2016 (down from 3.371%)

o   3.364% on 10 March 2016 (up from 3.357%)

o   3.354% on 28 April 2016 (up from 3.347%)

o   3.344% on 9 June 2016 (up from 3.337%)

·       This implies the OCR is more likely than not to be cut on 28 January to 3.25% (compared with 29 October last week) and to remain at that rate until at least 9 June 2016 (steady)

·       28% probability of a fiscal surplus in 2014/15 (down from 30% last week)

·       Fiscal balance expected to be:

o   -0.16% of GDP in 2014/15 (down from -0.11% last week)

o   0.80% of GDP in 2015/16 (steady)

o   1.98% of GDP in 2016/17 (steady)

o   2.43% of GDP in 2017/18 (up from 2.38%)

·       Fonterra’s final payout (before retentions) expected to be:

o   $4.82 in 2014/15

o   $6.10 in 2015/16

o   $6.49 in 2016/17

Foreign Affairs/Constitution:

·       Next UK Parliament expected to consist of:

o   Conservatives                               37.9% of seats in the House of Commons (down from 38.0% last week)

o   Labour                                          35.3% of seats (down from 35.4%)

o   Nationalist parties                           7.1% of seats (up from 6.8%)

o   UKIP and similar                             6.0% of seats (steady)

o   Liberal Democrats                           5.3% of seats (steady)

o   Unionist parties                               2.2% of seats (steady)

o   Green and similar                            2.1% of seats (steady)

o   Independents and Speaker     2.1% of seats (steady)

o   All others                                        2.2% of seats (steady)

·       David Cameron expected to be prime minister after next UK election (63% probability, down from 65% last week)

·       Boris Johnson expected to be elected to UK House of Commons this year (91% probability, steady)

·       Socialist Workers’ Party expected to defeat People’s Party in next Spanish election (71% probability, steady compared with last week)

·       All Eurozone countries, including Greece, expected to remain in Euro in 2015 (23% probability of an announcement of a departure this year, up from 16% last week)

·       New South Wales Liberal/National Coalition expected to win most seats in NSW state election (94% probability, up from 92% last week)

·       Tony Abbott is expected to remain leader of the Australian Liberal Party until 1 July 2015 (only 23% probability of departing before then, down from 27% last week) but be replaced as leader of the Australian Liberal Party by nomination day (50% probability Malcolm Turnbull will be leader on that day, steady compared with last week)

·       Bill Shorten expected to be Labor leader at next Australian federal election (88% probability, up from 87% last week)

·       Liberals marginally ahead of Labor for next Australian Federal election in 2016 (53% probability of Liberal win, steady compared with last week)

·       Hillary Clinton is favoured to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for US president in 2016 and to be elected to that office (47% probability, up from 44% last week).  Jeb Bush has a 45% probability of being the Republican nominee (steady compared with last week) followed by Scott Walker (19% probability, steady)

·       There is only a 17% probability New Zealand will sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership this year (down from 20% last week), and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not expected to be ratified by the US Congress before 1 July 2017 (only 31% probability it will be, steady compared with last week)

·       Helen Clark’s prospects of being the next UN Secretary General are 25% (up from 23% last week)

·       There is a 10% probability New Zealand will become a republic by 2020 (steady compared with last week)

·       Ireland to vote in favour of same-sex marriage before July 2015 (95% probability, steady compared with last week)

·       There is an 18% probability Kim Jong-Un will cease being leader of North Korea before 2017 (steady compared with last week) 


·       iPredict Ltd is owned by Victoria University of Wellington.  Details on the company and its stocks can be found at

·       The weekly economic and political update is prepared by Exceltium Ltd on a pro bono basis and is based on a snapshot taken at a random time each week.  This week’s was taken at 11.48 am today. 

pdf icon 150327-1148-Economic-and-Political-Update-FINAL.pdf

media release – Canterbury scientist helping critically endangered kakī

Canterbury scientist helping critically endangered kakī

March 27, 2015

A University of Canterbury scientist is investigating ways to ensure the survival and recovery of critically endangered kakī (black stilt) in the wild.

Dr Tammy Steeves is making recommendations to support the management of one of the world’s rarest birds, the kakī, which is a critically endangered endemic wading bird restricted to the Upper Waitaki Basin in the South Island.

“We often refer to kakī as the feathered All Blacks. There are less than 100 adults known to be alive. They are tough little birds. Unlike other birds that migrate to the coast during winter, kakī stick it out in the Basin during the cold months.

“They are resilient. Despite declining to a population of about 23 in 1981, kakī have a remarkable amount of genetic diversity, which bodes well for their recovery. My research is exploring how a species can decline to so few yet maintain such a relatively high level of genetic diversity.

“We are using birds from museums around the world to investigate the historical genetic structure of kakī in the Upper Waitaki Basin to determine the genetic origins of the current population. We often use innovative conservation management strategies like these to ensure the recovery and survival of this iconic species.”

“The results of this project will be used to develop appropriate conservation genetic management strategies specific to kakī. If genetic analysis indicates the Upper Waitaki Basin was comprised of five distinct kakī sub-populations before 1981, then it will be critical to manage the captive breeding population so it contains descendants of birds from all five of these sub-populations.”

The introduction of predators and widespread habitat-loss has driven the kakī close to extinction. Since 1999, kakī had been actively prevented from breeding with non-kakī. Dr Steeves says her research work also focuses on maintaining the genetic integrity of kakī.

Dr Steeves’ research is funded by conservation trusts, including the Mohua Charitable Trust. For more details on the kakī see:

New TPPA Investment Leak Confirms NZ Surrender to US

New TPPA Investment Leak Confirms NZ Surrender to US


The controversial investment chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has just been posted by Wikileaks, along with an analysis by Washington-based Public Citizen. Dated 20 January 2015, at the start of the negotiating round in New York, it clearly shows the governments has capitulated to US demands.


‘We haven’t seen a text since 2012’, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey. ‘Today’s leaked text confirms all our worst fears.’


‘As anticipated, the deal gives foreign investors from the TPPA countries special rights, and the power to sue the government in private offshore tribunals for massive damages if new laws, or even court decisions, significantly affected their bottom line’.


‘Prime Minister John Key once described the idea of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) as “far-fetched”.’


‘After he was briefed about the TPPA he changed tack, promising there would be effective safeguards. But the leaked text shows very little has not been agreed. That means the New Zealand government has accepted virtually everything the US has proposed with absolutely no effective safeguards.’


Professor Kelsey recalls how ‘we were assured the flaws that have made these investment agreements so toxic internationally would be sorted and new rules would prevent the investment tribunals going rogue.’


‘The leaked text shows nothing has been done to rein them in. There is no code of conduct, no appeals, no accountability of the private individuals who pass judgement on crucial matters of public policy, and no effective exceptions to protect the right of the government to regulate in the national interest’.


There are high risks for local governments as well.


‘Just last week, as protestors rallied against an extension of the port into the Auckland harbour, an investment tribunal upheld a case against Canada because an environment review panel refused to grant a US firm a permit for a quarry and marine terminal, saying it violated community values and there was inadequate consultation. The investor wants $300 million compensation. The local council is likely to be made to pay the bill.’


The dissenting judge, who was the Canadian government’s appointee on the tribunal, warned this meant the validity of local decisions would end being decided by foreign private arbitrators. The finding would also chill environmental review panels from rejecting proposals in the future.


Kelsey said the virtually concluded text shows the TPPA parties have completely ignored the tide of international sentiment that is rejecting these special rights for foreign investors.


The French and German governments have said they won’t accept ISDS in the parallel deal being negotiated between the US and EU.


Last year the chief justices of Australia and New Zealand expressed concerns about the potential of these investment tribunals to bypass or override decisions of our domestic courts.


Even Business New Zealand told the OECD during a consultation that they don’t see the need for such powers where countries have quality judicial systems.


‘We need to ask why the government is opening us further to these risks, especially when US investors are responsible for more ISDS cases than any other country.’


 ‘The leak also shows the futility of the few positive changes secured in the investment chapters of the latest Korea agreement. Anything better in the TPPA would be available to Korea’s investors under the most-favoured nation rule.  It beggars belief that New Zealand’s negotiators weren’t aware of that reality. Maybe they are just hoping the TPPA well never come into being?’


For Professor Kelsey’s initial analysis of the investment chapter in the Korea FTA and  the leaked TPPA text see:

Media Release – New collection from prize-winning poet Frankie McMillan

New collection from prize-winning poet Frankie McMillan

Christchurch poet Frankie McMillan has released her latest collection of poetry with Canterbury University Press.

There are no horses in heaven ushers in a range of colourful characters, presenting a world which is at times dreamlike and faux-naïf.

Humorous and daring, the work nevertheless addresses the concerns of us all: what it is to be human. Here, the strange oddities of human nature and our relationship to the animal world are explored with deft tenderness.

McMillan drew inspiration for her collection of poems from a range of sources – from a horse patiently raising its foot to be shod to an overheard phrase in a café.

“Words can often be attracted to other words and our language both reveals and conceals. Quirky facts about the world interest me as do unusual occupations such as glass blowing, bell ringing, corsetière making.” 

A recurring theme in the work is “relationships” particularly the male/female relationship which is often fraught with difficulty but which affords some comedic moments.

“I see humour as opening the door into serious concerns,” she says.

McMillan says her poetry reflects her experiences and will appeal to a wide range of audiences.

“Life is strange, life is wonderful, life is full of richness, humour, tragedy and loss.”   

There are no horses in heaven has been designed and printed in a limited edition in collaboration with Ilam Press, Ilam School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury. Original artwork for the cover is by Lyttelton artist Nichola Shanley.

“I particularly like the design qualities of the book. A single colour – blue – is used throughout, for the cover illustration, the dividing pages and the titles of poems. The book has a tactile quality, fits easily in the hand and draws the reader in,” she says.

“The cover perfectly reflects the contents of the book.” 

About the author:
Frankie McMillan is a poet and short-story writer who lives in Christchurch. She is the author of The Bag Lady’s Picnic and other stories (Shoal Bay Press, 2001) and a poetry collection, Dressing for the Cannibals (Sudden Valley Press, 2009). She won first prize in the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition 2009 for her poem “My father’s balance”, and in 2013 was the winner of the New Zealand National Flash Fiction Award. McMillan was awarded the Creative New Zealand Todd New Writers’ Bursary in 2005 and was co-recipient of the Ursula Bethell Residency in Creative Writing at the University of Canterbury in 2014.

There are no horses in heaven by Frankie McMillan, published by Canterbury University Press, March 2015, RRP $25, ISBN: 978-1-927145-67-8.