Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aussies on ice...

Aussies on ice...

A group of Aussies are planning to take a helicopter ride to one of the icebergs now off the southern New Zealand coast, and carve out an ice-bar, stage a party, and with a DJ produce a music track. Oh those Aussies!

Thirty eight year old Sydney builder, Reynold Bierman, good Aussie name this, will check the berg out for safety. There are now a number of icebergs drifting out of Antarctic waters to southern New Zealand waters. Some have probably broken off a larger berg and could come close to shore in about ten days or so.

During the 2006 drift of icebergs, many helicopter rides and sight-seeing flights were made, often from tourists from Australia and other places. There is a buck in it for somebody!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A thought for the day...

Copied this from the noticeboard at the Hutt Hospital MH Unit::

The past is history,

The future is a mystery,

Today is a gift,

That why they call it the present.

And somebody wrote on the bottom: Just Like Christmas?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Its not NASA and the Kennedy Space Centre, but Kiwi aerospace company ROCKET LAB...

You may have read it on Twitter - now you can read it here:

Its not Nasa and the Kennedy Space Centre, but the Kiwi aerospace company Rocket Lab. They are counting down for their historic launch of a spacebound rocket from Great Barrier island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

The launch from a private island off the Coromandel Peninsula in about two weeks time, will be the first time a private company in the southern hemisphere has launched a space rocket.

The 'Rocket Lab' company CEO, Peter Beck, said the rocket, named Atea-1, had a 2 kg payload capacity, and expected interest from commercial interests keen to send products or services into space, or even people wanting to send personal mementoes. This project will give the scientific community its first practical alternative to conventional rockets at a significant saving in costs as it will carry minature scientific equipment.

This coming launch will be the first in a series where the primary payload will be instrumentation measuring the machine's performance.

But the highlight of this small rocket will be its use of a new low-emission hybrid fuel technology; conventional rockets use solid fuel technology. The small rocket will travel at Mach 5 to an altitude of 120 kilometers.

Perhaps the big boys will have more competition from smaller ventures in the future, as minaturised equipment becomes more popular.

Rocket Lab will be holding online auctions both for premium viewing spots on the island and for payload space on the rocket.

Rocket Lab News

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New two wheeled vehicles in NZ - Segways...

New two wheeled police vehicles in NZ - Segways...

New two wheeled police vehicles being used in Taupo in the North Island of New Zealand - Segways...

Taupo police are trialling two 'Segway' scooters as additions to their crime-fighting armoury.

Taupo police area commander Inspector Steve Bullock said the community policing unit would use the scooters, which have a top speed of 20km/h, in public parks and along the lake front.

The first deployment would be during the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge on November 28, he told The Dominion Post.

"They will never replace police on the beat or in cars, but they will give us greater flexibility and access during big events," Mr Bullock said.

The scooters have been lent to police by the Taupo Safer Community Trust.

Segways can only be used for off-road use, not on roads or footpaths.


Trans-Tasman police crackdown on violent drinkers in early Dec...

Kiwi and Aussie cops to cooperate on police action against violent drinkers...

Trans-Tasman crackdown on drinking:

Thousands of extra police on both sides of the Tasman including riot squad officers will crack down on binge drinking and violence

New Zealand and Australian police are cooperating on an unprecedented attack on binge drinking and violence.

They are focusing on two days of action, on December 11 and 12.

The plan was due to be announced this afternoon, but New Zealand police have confirmed a report in a Sydney newspaper on the issue. However, they will not reveal details of the plan of action in New Zealand until later in the day.

The Daily Telegraph says thousands of extra police including riot squad officers will flood the streets of Sydney and regional towns in New South Wales to declare war on hooligans.

Don't quite understand this story yet. Is this a joint action or will there be action on both sides of the Tasman at the same time for publicity reasons?

Acknowledgements: NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Erebus crash families receive only $100,000 and sworn to secrecy for thirty years...

Erebus crash families received only $100,000 compensation and sworn to secrecy for 30 yrs...

The families of those who died when Air New Zealand Flight 901 plunged into Mt Erebus, in Antarctica, received an average pay-out of only $100,000 - and they have been sworn to secrecy all these years.

The same year, an Auckland woman who was badly burned in a Pan American crash was awarded much more by a US court.

Compensation for the 200 New Zealand passengers on the doomed 1979 Antarctic flight totalled about $21 million, according to calculations based on new disclosures.

About a third of the compensation ($6.9m) was paid by the Government after Civil Aviation was named in a class action brought by a passenger consortium. That amount showed up in the 1982 Budget.

In addition to the $21m, a further $4m was paid out to the families of 24 Japanese passengers on the flight.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman would not confirm the amounts, saying the Erebus settlements were confidential between the airline and the families.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Three Army LAVS heading for Afghanistan...

Three of the army's light armoured vehicles and their crews are being sent to Afghanistan to support the Special Air Service (SAS) troops in operations there.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said the deployment would be for as long as necessary.

"They will provide increased protected mobility for our personnel, particularly from improvised explosive devices. These are one of the greatest threats to coalition forces in Afghanistan," Dr Mapp said.

In early October Prime Minister John Key confirmed New Zealand SAS troops were in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The location of New Zealand's secretive SAS troops was revealed by Norway's defence chief, who said the New Zealanders were replacing their Norwegian equivalents.

The New Zealand Government had a policy not to publicly divulge their whereabouts.

The Norwegians had been involved in the arrest of several wanted insurgent leaders responsible for planning and running suicide attacks against targets in the Kabul region.

Insurgent activity has been increasing recently and another New Zealand military deployment in Afghanistan came under fire last month.

A patrol, comprising Hiluxes and Hummers, was returning from the northeastern area of Bamyan province, when it came under fire from insurgents armed with small arms and rocket propelled grenades.

New Zealand has about 140 defence force personnel running a provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Bamyan.

A couple of the patrol's vehicles suffered minor damage but there were no injuries in the last exchange.

In June a home made bomb exploded in front of a New Zealand patrol. No one was injured.

Acknowledgements: NZPA

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

If the Aussie don't want us the Yanks do...

If the Aussies don't want us the Yanks do...

In light of the call by an Australian Government member of parliament to restrict New Zealanders automatic entry to Australia, the United States has a pilot scheme to fastrack the entry of my fellow Kiwis to that country.

Kiwis can fill out a form for entry online on the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. Previously travellers were required to fill out forms both electronically before leaving, and on a hard copy on arrival.

The pilot scheme will run for thirty days and cover travellers on Air New Zealand flight NZ6. If successful it could be expanded. Yankee Doodle Dandy

No automatic entry and the beginning of the end of Anzac...

No automatic entry and the beginning of the end of Anzac...

"Automatic entry for Kiwis moving to Australia would be a thing of the past if an Australian Labour MP gets his way.

The outspoken MP has released a 14 point plan to reduce Australia's population and number six on the list is limiting the number of New Zealanders who cross the Tasman to live permanently.

"To reach a net overseas annual migration target of 70,000, the number of automatic places available for New Zealanders needs to be restricted to the number of departures from Australia over and above 25,000," Mr Thompson said.

He said the Trans-Tasman Travel arrangement would have to be "re-negotiated" in order to cut the number of New Zealanders settling in Australia.

Mr Thompson said New Zealanders should be competing for skilled migrant places along with people of other nationalities.

He said 47,780 Kiwis have migrated to Australia in 2008-09 - up from 16,364 in 2002-03.

"This open-ended, uncapped program makes it impossible for Australia or New Zealand to implement a population policy and it needs to be reformed," Mr Thompson said.
He said Australia needs to get New Zealand to look at their population capacity "rather than simply acting as an overflow for surplus population".

Mr Thompson also proposed limiting the overall numbers of people arriving as skilled migrants, and as part of the family reunion scheme. He also proposed increasing the refugee quota.

He said Australia needed to stabilise its population at 26 million and this would be achieved by cutting migration to 70,000 people a year.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has previously opposed limiting immigration numbers, saying he supports a "big Australia".

"I make no apology for that. I actually think it's good news that our population is growing. I think it's good ... for our national security long term, it's good in terms of what we can sustain as a nation," the Daily Telegraph in Australia reported."

And that at a time when the two countries are moving together like never before. The plans to make the two countries a single market would probably benefit Australia more than New Zealand. Take the half a million Kiwi born Aussies out of the equation and there would be huge economic problems for Australia. Don't concern yourselves with a few ratbags around the place, but those Kiwis who have helped to build Australia since the war.

There are also plans for a closer hands-on military alliance too; if the above came to reality NZ would be seeking a direct alliance with the US, despite the David and Goliath scenario

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I was hit with a deep, almost melancholic feeling of sadness the other evening - the memory of brother Bob...

I was hit with a deep, almost melancholic sadness half an hour ago - the memory of brother Bob...

I was hit with a deep almost melancholic sense of sadness half an hour ago. My second from eldest brother died of an illness in Bangkok late last year. He married a Thai woman many years ago and was still with her when he finally succumbed to his illness, most likely pneumonia. He had been busy out in the tropical heat and went to sleep in his hotel room, cooled down and caught a chill.

He had been out of work for some time, a former oil-rig driller and sixty eight years old. No social welfare in Thailand or any asian country; you rely on your family when times get tough. He had worked as a supervisor building roads in the Bangkok area for some time, but lost his job. Even Europeans come to the end of their working life some time, even a popular Kiwi. He had then had to rely on help and assistance from his brother-in-law. Pride sent him looking for work again, but when they realised he was actually ill, he wasn't wanted.

Doctors are so expensive in Thailand, and locals resort to getting pharmaceutical help - cheaper to buy some medicine or drugs. But with so many imitation drugs and medicine out there from China, it is hard to know if you actually have the real McCoy. Maybe my brother didn't?

So late in 2008 my brother Bob, Robert Lindsay Petterson, succumbed to his illness and died in his sleep.

Back in Christchurch, New Zealand, my younger brother Richard received a garbled message from our aging Aunt Mary. Our older brother, Dave, a former oil rig service vessel skipper for many years in the Southeast Asia area, and somewhat of a recluse since he returned from Thailand a widower, had received a message from Bob's wife in Bangkok to say Bob had died. It was a massive shock to all of us here in New Zealand.

Just who was this character, Robert Lindsay Petterson, one of my big brothers? He left school at fifteen years, neither an academic or sportsman, but had a love of animals. He started working for the owner of a large sheep station in north Canterbury in the South Island. He stayed there for anumber of years learning his trade as a shepherd and musterer, learned how to train and use sheepdogs, and eventually bought his own. He later moved on to the high country and worked for the largest government owned sheep and cattle station in NZ, for a number of years.

Like many a young Kiwi lad before and after him, the lure of Australia proved too much. He ended up working for a Texan owned sheep and cattle ranch in New South Wales, as a boundary rider. Bob had become a more than capable horseman during his years as a musterer in New Zealand. His new job as a boundary rider for the King Ranch, took a fornight at a time to circumvent this huge property in NSW.

He moved on and changed jobs in a variety of places over a number of years, but ended up in Broken Hill as a supervisor in an open cast mine there.

Somewhere or other he became involved in drilling, firstly for water and then for oil. He obviously became expert as an oil driller on land, and then on an oil-rig off Indonesia somewhere. On one trip he ran into the skipper of a small service vessel which serviced his rig - our eldest brother, Dave.

Bob began a life as a driller and like Dave, married a Thai woman and bought a home in Bangkok, which became his base for whereever he worked in Southeast Asia over many years.

During the 1970's Bob returned to New Zealand regularly, and invested in small farm outside of Christchurch, which our younger brother Richard lived in and developed to Bob's instructions. But they were not good partners and became alienated after a few years; Bob maintained that the farm wasn't being run to his satisfaction. In the end he had to sell it for what he could get for it.

During Bob's visits home to NZ, he always called in to see us in Lower Hutt, ten miles outside of New Zealand's capital city of Wellington. My wife would cook him a great meal and we would indulge in a few browns and natter (and sometimes argue) to the wee small hours.

I last saw my brother in 1978, and I miss him greatly. He always had great ideas that he wanted to explore, but unfortunately others always picked his brains and used his ideas as their own. Bob was actually the first person to come up with the idea to freeze bull semen for artificial insemination. He went to one of the big companies in NZ looking for sponsorship to start his enterprise off. They declined, but picked his brains and ended up doing it themselves.

That was one of my big brothers, a generous and kind person who ended up alienated by distance and circumstances thousands of miles from his extended family. We all miss and remember you Bob Petterson.

Horse riders

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A massive iceberg heading for New Zealand...

A massive iceberg spotted southwest of New Zealand could be moving closer.

The iceberg was seen by Australian scientists working on Macquarie Island, who estimated it to be 500m wide and 50m high.

NIWA oceanographer Mike Williams said it was unusual to see icebergs in that part of the Southern Ocean.

"The only precedent for icebergs being seen that far north is the one that came through in November 2006," he said.

The 2006 iceberg, which broke off the Ronne Ice Shelf, came within 90km of the Otago coast. Sightseeing flights were arranged to view the iceberg.

Williams said, depending on ocean currents, the new iceberg could be pushed south to the Campbell plateau, southeast of New Zealand.

"But if it's far enough north, it'll come into the current that feeds up into the Auckland Islands and New Zealand."

Moving at 2km/h to 3km/h, the iceberg could take two weeks to come within sight.

Williams said it wasn't clear whether climate change was to blame.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mental health foundation appalled by patient's detention...

Mental Health Foundation appalled by patient's detention...

The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is "shocked and appalled" after hearing a patient was kept restrained in solitary confinement for nearly six years.

That case, and several others, came to light during a year-long investigation of detention facilities by the Ombudsmen's Office and was reported today in the New Zealand Herald.

Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem said the mentally ill patient at an unnamed district health board was often held in restraints in a bare room.

It was one of several disturbing cases of possibly inhumane treatment in facilities stretching from youth facilities to prisons in the Ombudsmen's annual report.

MHF chief executive Judi Clements said the foundation had long argued for an end to seclusion in mental health units.

"There is nothing that entrenches a sense of rejection and degradation more than being forcibly removed and isolated from other people. It is the very opposite to being valued and included."

She said cases like this showed the tendency for abuse to occur when vulnerable people were placed in certain environments.

"With resources only allowing for focused investigation of 15 mental health sites over the last year, we need to ask how many more cases like this are yet to be uncovered."

The health board in question had claimed the patient was secured because he was a danger to staff and other patients, but since the Ombudsmen's Office became involved he had been moved to somewhere more suitable.

"Why nobody thought to look at that and make that assessment before we arrived on the scene is a cause for concern," Ms Wakem said.

Health Ministry director of mental health David Chaplow said he was concerned to learn about the cases last night and would order an urgent report.

Dr Chaplow said there was now a "sinking lid" policy on seclusion, but it had a place in mental health care.

The report also outlined concerns about a lack of ventilation in some prison cells and said excessive temperatures could amount to "cruel" or "inhumane" treatment.

Monday, November 2, 2009

An award for a rising sportsman...

An award for a rising sportsman...

First published at Qondio: Awards writing challenge

I read this mornings Dominion Post newspaper here in Lower Hutt, Wellington.

There was a pull-out supplement for local regional secondary school elite sports achievers in the various summer and winter code categories.

I was sitting in the waiting room at the local tyre shop waiting for a replacement tyre to be put on our car to get a new warrant of fitness. I was thumbing through the paper at the shop when I came to the athletics section and surprisingly saw one of my grandsons nominated for the awards.

If he is successful it would be a great achievement considering he is only 14 years old and competes against older boys.

He competed this summer in javelin and shot-putting; winning the former event against older boys in the Under 16 years grade. His nomination is a feather in his cap even if he fails to be selected this year. An award is waiting around the corner if he sticks with his sports. A champion in the making if he persists in his chosen field.

Two kiwi men ordered to pay $150,000 for sending spam emails...

Two Christchurch, NZ, men have been ordered to pay $150,000 between them after sending two million spam emails

Two Christchurch men must pay substantial fines after admitting being part of a major international spamming operation.

A High Court judge has ordered Shane Atkinson pay $100,000 and Ronald Smits $50,000.

The men were part of a Christchurch business which sent over two million unsolicited emails over four months in 2007, to New Zealand addresses marketing Herbal King branded pharmaceuticals manufactured in India.

Internal Affairs says the New Zealanders were part of the largest pharmaceutical spamming operation in the history of the internet.

Atkinson's brother Lance, who lives in Queensland, has also had to pay $100,000 and is facing court action in the United States.