nothing to hide

air new zealand has launched a series of commercials under the banner of “nothing to hide

they’ve also made redone their preflight safety video.

you will not be seeing this on any us airline anytime soon.

[click on the image for the video]

all the videos are on youtube here including bloopers and behind the scenes

the guy with the grey hair in the behind the scenes video is the ceo.

a new leader for the nation

[ed. new entries below]

obama and the us elections are so two days ago – the nz elections are the big news of the day.

new zealand grants voting right to permanent residents after their first year, so the jboss and me headed off the polls to cast our vote. actually as permanent residents we get all the rights and responsibilities of a citizen except a nz passport.

in the week before the election you receive an easy vote card that has you name, voter id, and electorate. you can use that to vote anywhere in the country, but easily and quickly anywhere in your electorate. here in island bay we are in the rongotai electorate – and we voted at the island bay school just a short walk from our house.

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you see see that i’ve aged a bit since i broke my leg – and the jboss is looking a bit grey after cutting back on the expensive salon visits.

i think the pictures below make it clear who won and who lost.

john-key.tiff helen-clark.tiff

the right honorable john key of the national party is our new prime minister-elect and helen clark of labour is ending her 9 year run as pm.

mr key is a more typical fiscally oriented church going slightly conservative politician, whilst helen is a unapologetically liberal agnostic (that’s not going to happen in the us in my lifetime) outdoor enthusiast. she’s second from the right below during one of her annual winter tramps through the southern alps.


note the election even made the times (see the tiny yellow link right below the link to the article on caring for old timers with hip fractures)


civics 101

since we’re 15 to 18 hours ahead of most of the us (i guess we have to acknowledge alaska and hawaii given their role in the current election), the results of the elections started flowing in at 1 in the afternoon of the 5th for us here in nz. knowing i wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything else i took the afternoon off and the jboss and me headed into town to watch the returns at a bar that was covering the event.

the us embassy was also hosting an event at the civic center, but given the current ambassador is a bush appointee i’m confident that the crowd at the bar was more aligned with my desired outcome, so that decision was easy.

given the massive coverage of the us elections for months now in the nz media i expected there to be significant interest, but i was startled at the size of the crowd, the balloons, red-white-and-blue bunting, and all the obama signs. both floors of the bar were full of folks glued to cnn election coverage on the tvs. wild cheering as the results of each state were announced.

i think all americans should experience a us election from overseas to appreciate it’s impact on the world.

quite an emotional day – but the defining moment was a kiwi coming up to me and saying “congratulations – and thank you”



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wellington was nice enough to put on a fireworks display that night to celebrate the election of new president.

well – that and guy fawkes day.


it got very cold in the evening, but given the excitement of the day the jboss and me wanted to stay for the festivities. not to complain, but the quality seemed quite dodgy. a lot of lopsided or odd shaped displays. next day the paper had the story:

“Two weeks ago, organisers were faced with a fizzer when they discovered that a cargo of fireworks from China was not going to arrive in time.

The council’s events manager, John Dawson, said organisers faced a late scramble to get fireworks when, for reasons still unknown, the original shipment was held up.

“Fortunately we were able to get a lot from an Auckland fireworks company which had stock left over.”

given the rivalry between auckland and wellington i’m guessing we got the rejects that some discount / shady fireworks dealer had wonder how he was ever going to unload.

“uh – sure. you got 100,000 people planning on showing up for fireworks tomorrow and you’re shipment is late. i think i can help you out…”

vote for me

somewhat overshadowed by the circus in the states, new zealand will be heading to polls on november 8th after a 3 week campaign cycle.

here you get 2 votes: one for your local member of parliament and one for a party.

the candidate getting the most votes in each 70 electorates is seated in parliament. our electorate is rongotai, currently represented by annette king of the labour party.

easy so far.

the rest of the remaining 50 seats in parliament are allocated based on the party vote. the party votes from across the country are tallied and each party gets additional seats to bring up their level of representation in parliament to match their level of party vote.

as an example, if labour gets 40% of the party vote and wins 30 electorates they will get 18 additional seats to bring their total up to 48, or 40% of the 120 seats in parliament. this system allows smaller parties, who may never be popular enough to win electorates, to have significant representation.

the two major parties are labour (same as labour in the uk and left of centre) and national (more conservative but still probably more liberal than the democratic party in the states. everything is relative). the largest minor party is the green party (yes, the same as the greens in the us but with less ralph nader and more public transport). the greens are on track to get about 10% of the party vote and have a big voice when parliament is seated.

i attribute at least part of their recent success to their great ads.

best i’ve ever seen.

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compare this to the typical fare from labour and national

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dirty tricks

we are nearing an election in new zealand so the level of political theatre is rising.

the national party (more conservative) led by john key is currently ahead in the polls and on track to beat the labour party (more liberal) led by prime minister helen clark.

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(helen clark official photo, helen clark untouched photo with not uncommon kiwi teeth, john key)

labour has been leading government for 9 years and there seems to be strong sentiment for change. there is underlying concern though that national intends to make changes that are quite unpopular including selling off assets (railways, kiwibank) and funding tax cuts with increased debt (nz currently runs a surplus) – but they have been very reluctant to disclose any details of their platform. so there was a huge media storm when two secret recordings of senior national leaders were released saying that they if elected would do what everyone suspected. the leaders were quick to say that they “had not chosen their word carefully”, but the general sentiment was captured well by the the wellington paper that said they were “caught telling the truth”.

the fallout has been national leader john key being obsessed with finding out who made the recordings – and accusing the labour party of being behind it. the source of the recording has insisted that he has no party loyalty, but national is still pressing hard. this week they released a photo that they said was of trash strewn outside john key’s office – clearly the work of a labour party dirty trick campaign.


the great thing about a parliamentary system is that all members of parliament – including the prime minister – met 3 days a week in the house to conduct business. the most interesting part is question time where members can ask other members questions. this holds the party in power accountable and provides great entertainment. can you image if george w and members of his cabinet had to face direct questions on the floor of congress 3 times a week?


this week when john key asked a question to labour if they would investigate the alleged dirty tricks campaign including rooting through his trash, labour party was ready with a response. they announced that after a thorough investigation that they found the perpetrator, and offered a photo.


they said the hoodie (popular with kiwi thugs) made it clear that this suspect was of dubious character.

great political theatre.

iggs for brickfast

actually did have eggs for breakfast but that’s really just a lead in to my experiences with language here in nz. overall i think the accent is much softer than the uk or australia, but there are two things that jump out to me – the short e has been replaced with the short i and the frequent use of rising inflection at the end of sentences (high rising terminal to lingo geeks).

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the short e -> short i shows up all over in places like yes (yis), seven (siven) and eggs for breakfast (iggs for brickfast). easy to understand but it does catch the ear.

the agent at the auto insurance agency (aa) that was helping me through the process had an exaggerated rising inflection that trailed off at the end of each sentence.

  • “so i’ll need a note from your us insurance company stating that you’ve had insurance for over 5 years?…
  • and then when you get your nz drivers license you can just let me know and that will lower your deductible?…”

is she asking a question?

two other things that stand out are the frequent use of “cool” (kewhl) and “mate”.
cool is a used where “ok” might be otherwise be used – “i’ll have a flat white and an apple juice”, “cool”.
mate is often used in the first exchange between 2 males, even if they don’t know each other:

  • guy working the counter at the diary – “how you doin’ mate?”
  • me “just fine mate”

the language bit that i’m struggling with the most is actually the dates. nz like much of the world uses a DD/MM/YY format vs. the MM/DD/YY format used in the states. does seem like it is more consistent but i still have to do the translation in my mind each time. the kicker is when they verbalize a date. what would be “the 11th of october” or “october 11th” in the us is “the 11th of the 10th” here. that will take a bit to “take on board” (another common phrase here)

the bigger the mess

the nz police and land transport nz (their dept of transportation) are sponsoring a series of attention grabbing safety ads – all with a shocker at the end.

They Drink We Die 2-1

Seat Belt

high rise is my favourite – high-rise

in the lawyers-gone-wild category ford motor company has filed suit to take this one off the air – death-lurks-around-corner. they claim that depicting a ford in the ad gives the impression that the car is not safe. sigh. firstly i’m quite sure that most kiwis are able to understand that the ad is just an ad (and that land mines do not actually pop out of the road based on your driving speed as depicted in the ad). secondly i don’t expect that many viewers focused on that the car was a ford – but given all the hubbub, they will now. lastly nothing like a gigantic american company filing suit against the nz govt to block a public safety ad. idiots.

plenty more – a new one runs about every two weeks to keep it fresh. some other favs:

  • under-pressure (i can totally relate to this one. being late and putting my life at risk for something dump like a project status meeting)
  • mate
  • indicator (another one that hit home. how many times have you grown impatient waiting to turn and finally pulled out when there really wasn’t enough room?)
  • same-cop
  • lure

be prepared

the locals are either very well prepared for any contingency or a just like wearing brightly coloured safety equipment.

during my first day i got a thorough briefing on all the safety procedures and the location of all the civil defense equipment. i thought it a bit odd but it does provide a bit of piece of mind to working in a downtown hi-rise. now these kits aren’t the us standard cigar sized box of band-aids and aspirin. these large cabinets have food, water, blankets, sanitation, medical supplies, lights, water purification, rope, wrecking bar, axes, saws, tools, radios, etc. the boxes on top each have perishables for 5 adults for 3 days.

there is one of these on each floor.

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