Following the international trend of airlines charging passengers to bring luggage with them, Air New Zealand and Pacific Blue have both announced plans to introduce baggage charges.
Low cost carrier Pacific Blue will be the first domestic airline in New Zealand to charge passengers to check in bags.
Pacific Blue says the new charge is to help cover the rising cost of fuel. Some items like prams, cots, car seats and sports equipment will be exempt from the new regime.
Air New Zealand says their new baggage policy rewards their loyal customers... Air NZ Gold, Gold Elite, and Koru Club members can also take a second piece of luggage for free.
The changes follow the introduction of the airline's 'Koru Hour' food and beverage services on peak hour flights, and the increased seat pitch in the front of its 737s for frequent flyers. New check-in and gate technology is also on the way.
(United Airlines has a similar 'Economy Plus' class, which offers passengers up to five extra inches of legroom. This increased seat pitch benefit is complimentary for its premium customers, although regular travellers can also book the seats for an additional fee).
Posted at 8:45 p.m. Monday, 28 July 2008
John Key. Seriously. WTF are you doing? In most of the western world, the job of the Opposition party/parties is to oppose the Government, and come up with an intelligent alternative pathway for the country, made up of a series of policy differences to give voters a genuine choice come election time.
Opinion polls and rumblings from the "man/woman on the street" indicate many people are keen for a change this election, but unfortunately there's little in the way of a genuine choice on offer.
Key's latest flip-flop/dead-rat-swallow is to adopt in full Labour's dreadful welfare in drag policy, marketed as "Working for Families". The tax credit scheme means even families earning well over $100,000 can take part in the government welfare gravy train (actually, as much as $196,827 if you have enough kids!!).
(Image 'borrowed' from No Minister)
Key says his National party would now keep Labour's flagship Working for Families scheme intact fully if it wins power, including the increased payments announced in Dr Cullen's May budget. Key had previously slammed the scheme as "a giant welfare package".
PM Cluck made rare sense, saying Key's policy change was "simply incredible", and noting "this is getting a bit ridiculous". Ya think??
Homepaddock has her heart in the right place, but claims the latest Labour policy adoption is simply "good politics". Sorry, I can't agree. If you continue to offer voters no alternative other than different faces in the expensive seats, there's little to get excited about.
* NZ Herald: Key would now keep Working for Families
* Update: Revealing the real face of John Key...
* See also... Nevermind: Labour, Progressive & Greens Win Fourth Term
* Lindsay Mitchell: National - in breach of its stated values, yet again
* Not PC: Flip Flop Watch: Another 'me too'
Posted at 8:32 p.m. Sunday, 27 July 2008
Political commentators like Bill Ralston believe the Labour Party now realises its days are numbered. While it would be foolish to write off the possibility of a Labour/Maori/Greens coalition, the ruling party needs a decent boost in its poll fortunes to make that happen.
Both Homepaddock and Kiwiblog have picked up on the recent "rash of Government appointments" made by Labour Party ministers, obviously keen to secure jobs for good Labour boys and girls before the election has a chance to interrupt the gravy train.
A recent media release by Gerry Brownlee revealed the Labour-led Government has made a whopping 96 political appointments in the last month alone, and that number is growing substantially by the day. Lianne Dalziel, Annette King, and Steve Chadwick are amongst the ministers busy handing out jobs to loyal workers.
The Weekend Herald reported yesterday on Labour stacking the new New Zealand Transport Agency with party stooges... including Labour Party president Mike Williams, failed Labour candidate Alick Shaw, former Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore, and former Auckland City councillor Christine Caughey.
* Stuff: Nats claim Yates' job choice cronyism
* NZ Herald: Nats slam transport 'stooges'
Posted at 2:59 p.m. Saturday, 26 July 2008
There's a been a growing discussion in recent months about the likelihood of little real change following this year's General Election, even if National does take over the reigns from Labour.
Giving John Key total control over the National Party has meant a serious shunt to the left. Even when Labour comes up with policies or passes laws which John & co. don't really agree with, National's stance is to "disagree strongly" but to agree to do nothing about reversing the changes, should they form the next Government.
Dr Cullen seemed concerned that the recent dodgy dealings of Winston Peters and other events had overshadowed National's policy released. He even kindly provided web links to the National Party's policy details online!! Now who says chivalry is dead in Politics?! ;-)
Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen has today re-released the lightweight policy positions announced by National in the past fortnight following John Key’s attempt to slip them out under the cover of darkness.Unfortunately, National's recent policy releases actually contain very little of substance, and certainly nothing yet that would indicate turning the country around from the current headlong path to destruction.
In the past fortnight National has released ‘policies’ on industrial relations, accident compensation, conservation, broadcasting, and arts. Not one of these policy releases was announced with a formal press conference featuring John Key and a party spokesman.
Posted at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, 24 July 2008
The president of the Auckland University Student Association is offering a reward of $5,000 for anyone who can make "a successful citizen's arrest" of Condoleezza Rice, while she is visiting New Zealand this weekend.
The United States Secretary of State is in the country for a short visit, and will meet with NZ Prime Minister Hillin Cluck, Finance Minister Winston Peters-First, and John "me too" Key.
He says with the war criminal coming to town, it will give students a chance to "make a dent in their student loans, and work for global justice at the same time."
However, I was disappointed to note that Do didn't mention in his media release the important point that Condoleezza Rice is in fact an Anunnaki (a 7 foot, shape-shifting, blood-sucking lizard alien), as of course is PM Cluck, along with George W Bush, "climate" fiction author Al Gore, and many others.
This will be Rice's first trip to New Zealand. She is currently on a short visit to Australia, and has been in this part of the world to attend a meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore.
* Scoop: AUSA offers $5000 for citizen's arrest of Rice
Posted at 9:55 p.m. Friday, 18 July 2008
While PM Clark has yet to reveal her preferred date for this year's General Election in New Zealand, the action is heating up online as political parties prepare for a tough campaign.
A new website is looking to take advantage of the increased awareness of internet campaigning for this election. Decision 08 relies heavily on stories and video coverage from 3 News, but also includes a full listing of political parties and candidates.
The site stretches the claim a little as being "New Zealand's only dedicated elections website", but does seem to one of the first out of the gates with a completed site this year. (The nzvotes.org doesn't appear to have been updated yet for the 2008 election, but was a good source of information in 2005.)
As well as the regular stories and video clips, the website is promising blogs from members of the 3 News and Campbell Live team, as well as "guest political experts".
Decision08.co.nz is also hoping to persuade candidates from across the country to sign up for their own "personalised page" within the website. For a $299 charge, registered candidates can list their background, views, update their movements, and upload photos to their own page.
Posted at 6:13 p.m. Monday, 14 July 2008
A new record was set at the annual "Jaffa Race" down the world's steepest street. An impressive 30,000 of the orange coloured chocolate candies were rolled down Dunedin's Baldwin street (beating last year's run of 20,000 Jaffas).
30,000 "Jaffas" start their run from the top of Baldwin St
Rain in the morning made the track damp and little slower than normal, with the first giant jaffas hitting the finish line in just over 30 seconds.
Hundreds of locals turned out to watch the Jaffa Race, which is one of the highlights of the Cadbury Chocolate Carnival.
Only a few hundred Jaffas made it to the bottom of the hill ;-)
Being school holidays, lots of children were there to watch the unique race, and many seemed happy to retrieve the wet and broken candies from the gutters of Baldwin Street. Yummo!! ;-)
These girls planned to make tasty "Jaffa Muffins" with their street sweets
Lee-Anne from Cadburys checks the winning Jaffa numbers,
along with local radio faces, Trev & Melinda
Posted at 10:09 p.m. Sunday, 13 July 2008
The All Blacks may have lost their crucial Tri-Nations rugby test against the Springboks at Carisbrook (28-30, for anyone who missed it), but their namesakes in Dunedin's 5th Bottom Bus Nude Rugby International came out on top, 17-5.
Billed as the unofficial curtain raiser to the All Blacks v South Africa night test, the nude touch rugby game made a return after a 3 year absence. Carisbrook Stadium last hosted test match rugby in 2005, with South Africa and the Lions.
The "All Blacks" perform a haka before the match
Despite gloomy weather predictions from the forecasters, Saturday proved to be almost balmy conditions for both rugby games. The naked rugby game was played in "comfortable" conditions of 15 degrees... considerably warmer than some of the previous naked matches played in wintry Dunedin.
Two teams of mostly local rugby buffs stripped off for the game, organised by South Island backpacker touring company Bottom Bus. Player names and numbers painted on their backs helped the nude players identify their respective team-mates.
A warm-ish day for the return of nude beach rugby
There was a disappointing lack of representation from Bottom Bus's own tour groups this year, with the weekend's crowd of visiting backpackers preferring to cheer on the hardy local lads, rather than stripping off for the 20 minute game themselves. Veteran player Dave Bourke, a Dunedin cycle courier, celebrated his 5th nude rugby international.
The game's sole female player listens to team tactics
Just one female was brave enough to join the boys for the nude game at St Kilda beach... the American international student coming "off the bench" halfway through the game, after an injury forced a leading player off.
The game ended with a quick dip in the surf as the players chased a wayward rugby ball, and an apparent scoreline of 17-5 to the "Nude Blacks" (although noone's quite sure...)
The ABs' American winger scores a try
Posted at 9:04 p.m.
A clothed "streaker" is arrested by the naked cop
Bottom Bus referee Ralph monitors the scrum
The teams pose for photos with backpackers and local fans
Posted at 8:51 p.m.
It seems the media-friendly Jonny Gladwell, who waited in line for 60 hours to buy the world's first iPhone 3G, was in fact a marketing plant for theYellow Pages website.
The 22-year old University student, who was first in line to buy the new 3G iPhone, was apparently paid $50 an hour to wait in line outside Vodafone's Queen Street store in Auckland, New Zealand. He was also given $1,000 spending money to keep him going over the 3 days.
Jonny's long outdoors wait and his final purchase of the world's first iPhone 3G gained worldwide media exposure for him, as well as for other front-of-liners like Evert Bruyns from wishcollector.com who was giving his new 3G iPhones away, and Californian Luke Soules who wanted to buy one just so he could take it apart for his website ifixit.com.
The creative head of the Aim Proximity agency, Dave King, says he was "amazed that no-one caught on"... although to be fair, "iPhone Jonny" did blatantly lie to reporters (including live on TV3 to Sunrise journo Jono Hutchison) when asked whether he was "a real iPhone buyer", or a PR plant.
And the news hasn't all been good for Apple and its global mobile network partners. New Zealand's Vodafone has received worldwide media coverage for offering the most expensive iPhone plans in the entire world (combined with some seriously average data/voice/text bundles).
The next generation iPhone 3G has also been criticised for having pretty poor battery life. Reviewers note it doesn't fare much worse than other smartphones operating on the faster 3G network, but the new iPhone's battery life is much shorter than the original version, if you're using 3G.
I think I'll be hanging on to my ipod touch & Sony Ericsson cell phone combo until the "next-next generation" version hits New Zealand in a year or two. Vodafone NZ's outrageously priced plans and appalling 3G network coverage (especially in the South Island) make the iPhone 3G a non-starter at the moment.
Overseas mobile networks are offering much more attractive packages for a lower monthly price, with some like AT&T in the United States throwing in free WiFi at Starbucks stores (located on almost every second corner in American cities).
* NBR: Jonny Gladwell was paid to queue for the iPhone
* Sunday Star Times: The Kiwi and the world's first iPhoney
* iPhone Jonny's blog
* Stuff: The wait is over for world's first iPhone 3G shoppers
* Gizmodo: The Auckland iPhone 3G Party - In Pictures
^ Carolina Liar - Last Night (Max Martin)
^ Carolina Liar - Show Me What I'm Looking For (Max Martin)
Posted at 1:49 p.m. Thursday, 10 July 2008
I know the Tui billboard which has already gone up in Auckland is doing the blog and email rounds like wildfire... I also had a chuckle at this clever little picture over at Whale Oil...
Posted at 9:38 p.m.
No Minister has picked up on a new report into the poor quality of spending by the New Zealand Government.
ANZ economist Cameron Bagrie says the Government has built a "Rolls-Royce" public sector, and needs to rethink its spending. He's calling for Treasury to set indicators and benchmarks to monitor Government spending in the future.
"Do we really need 41 government departments and 65 crown entities, not to mention the 21 district health boards and nine crown research institutes, for a population of four million?...The report notes that keeping back-office spending within the same range as frontline spending would have freed up an extra $1 billion for other activities (including presumably increased tax cuts).
We appear to be attempting to run a Rolls-Royce-style framework when a Toyota will suffice. It seems resources are getting tied up in approval and monitoring as opposed to getting the job done."
Not PC has also linked back to a 2007 report by Phil Rennie at the Centre for Independent Studies, which argued the Government has very little to show for the extra $20 billion dollars it now spends every year (almost enough to abolish income tax altogether).
* Stuff: Trade in Rolls for a Toyota state told
* NBR: Study suggests govt spending too much in non-productive areas
* No Minister: Trade your Rolls in for a Toyota! Liarbour told!
* Not PC: Too many chiefs, not enough Indians
Posted at 7:43 p.m.
An Australian TV programme has given two advertising agencies the job of creating a mock campaign to promote an Invasion of New Zealand.
It's something many Aussies would probably quite like to see, if they could be persuaded of a decent reason for achieving a military win over the tiny Pacific islands of Nu Zullind.
The 30-second clip from the top Marmalade agency tries to win support for a military invasion of New Zealand with the carrot of gaining a new public holiday.
The commercial suggests this Saturday is as good a day as any for the start of the war, which is likely to be "over by lunchtime, and to celebrate the whole country gets Monday off!"
Australia's 303 agency meanwhile plays up New Zealand's "100% Pure" campaign, with lush green mountains, crisp white snow slopes, swimming with dolphins, and clean beaches.
Those images are contrasted with the fact that New Zealand also has "0% Army, 0% Navy, and 0% Infantry", making the little country "100% there for the taking"!
Unfortunately the commercials are only "mock ads", but I wonder whether it might spark some serious thought by Australians of taking over their poorly-spoken south-eastern neighbours.
I look forward to the day when New Zealand becomes the 7th State of Australia, although I think I'd like to adopt the US dollar as well, rather than the Aussie $ or a combo-currency ;-)
* The Gruen Transfer - The Pitch... Which agency's ad convinces us more that we need to invade New Zealand?
Posted at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Initial excitement over the upcoming launch of the next-generation 3G Apple iPhone in New Zealand has been dampened, following the release of Vodafone's "outrageous" plan prices in this country.
To get an iPhone 3G in New Zealand for the promoted price of NZ$199 (8GB model), customers need to sign up to a 2-year contract with Vodafone, costing a whopping $250 a month, plus overflow charges (that's a minimum of $6,000 over 2 years!!)
The company's top plan will give you an adequate 1GB of data a month, along with 600 'oncall' minutes and 600 text messages... hardly a premium package considering the price, and far less generous than some overseas plans offering Unlimited data, 3000 minutes of voice calling a month, and a Free iPhone for a lower comparable monthly fee.
Other packages are on offer, with Vodafone's lowest priced "iPhone 250 plan" setting you back $80 a month for 250GB of data, 600 texts, and a p**s-poor 120 voice minutes. The 8GB iPhone will cost you $549 on this plan (or $699 for the 16GB version).
(Don't be fooled by the "$50 plan" Vodafone Chief Marketing Officer Mark Rushworth tries to spin on the Campbell Live clip as the company's "cheapest iPhone plan". There is no such tailored iPhone plan at that price listed on the company's own website).
Vodafone's greedy package prices firmly put the Apple iPhone 3G out of reach of average New Zealanders. Vodafone also says the new iPhone apparently won't work at all for pre-pay users.
The new 2nd generation version of the iPhone relies heavily on the faster 3G mobile network for many of its features, which Vodafone has finally announced plans to expand to "97% of the country"... but you'll have to wait until April 2010 until that network expansion is complete (so forget about using it successfully in the South Island).
* NZ Herald: iPhone 3G pricing announced
* NZ Herald: Vodafone defends against iPhone fury
* Campbell Live: Vodafone talks about the iPhone price
Posted at 10:32 p.m. Sunday, 6 July 2008
A certain Mr Farrier has tracked down a 10 list of (some of) the best American cuisine of all time, namely The Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented...
When it comes to food, America gets a bad rap. It’s a common refrain that America has no cuisine to call our own. We’ve got apple pie and hot dogs, but that’s about it...
But the truth is, America does have a cuisine to call it’s own. Over the past 232 years we’ve invented some of the most creative, daring, and yes, downright craziest dishes the world has ever seen.
Sure, they can be overly greasy, a little too cheesy, and sometimes fried a few times too many. But they’re ours.
So to celebrate Independence Day, we’ve put together this list of the best foods that only a country with just the right combination of greed, grit, and gluttony could have possibly dreamed up.
While I can do without the battered deep fried veges (thanks Stagedoor Manor ;-), I do have a number of other essential American tastes I make sure I never miss when I'm over there...
Aw, just look at what I'm missing out on with being stuck in snowy New Zealand this winter, when I could be sampling this awesomely unique cuisine in sunny North America!
* Endless Summer: The Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented
Posted at 9:00 p.m.
I was pleased to read that Vodafone New Zealand is planning a major expansion of its 3G mobile network, with an claimed investment of $500,000.
However I was very surprised to discover that Vodafone's 3G network apparently covers about 63% of New Zealand at the moment. I have found 3G coverage in Otago and Southland to be extremely patchy, and for 3G Broadband coverage to be pretty much non-existent outside of the city centres of Dunedin and Invercargill.
Vodafone says it will be expanding the faster 3G mobile network to cover 97% of New Zealand by April 2010. The company says customers can expect download speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps, "depending on their areas".
Most of the iPhone's really useful features like maps, email, and web browsing rely on an internet connection with a decent speed... something that Vodafone definitely can't claim to have at the moment.
* NZ Herald: Vodafone commits to $500 million mobile investment
Posted at 1:40 p.m.
The Labour-led New Zealand Government is working on a law change to ban the use of talking or texting on your cell phone while driving.
The plan, masterminded by "Transport Safety Minister" Harry Duynhoven, would ban the use of hand-held mobile phones, Backberrys, and PDAs (personal digital assistants) while driving.
Similar bans have recently been introduced in California and Washington, where this great viral video comes from. Watch as this kid makes 5 driving instructors go crazy when he won't stop talking on his cellphone during a lesson...
Sure, that video's promoting a bluetooth technology company. But just look at the freedom and fun you can actually have with a hands-free bluetooth car kit!...
Posted at 11:06 a.m. Thursday, 3 July 2008
That international holiday just keeps getting further and further out of reach. Air New Zealand has announced plans to raise airfares again, because of the continued rise in the price of jet fuel, now over US$170 a barrel.
Air NZ's domestic and trans-Tasman fares will increase by around 3%, for tickets bought from July the 17th. International fares to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Asia will increase by an average of 5%.
The company says it could no longer continue to absorb the higher cost of fuel. However the airline's rejected the idea of charging passengers for luggage, a proposal being introduced or considered by many international airlines.
The record-high oil prices are also putting the brakes on Air New Zealand's expansion plans. The company had previously planned to launch at least one new route every year, including flying into India, South America, and other destinations in North America.
CEO Rob Fyfe says the new Auckland to Beijing service will begin in August as scheduled, but further routes may have to wait until oil prices come down. Air New Zealand is basing its expansion plans on Boeing's next-generation 787 Dreamliner plane, which is 20% more fuel efficient than current aircraft.
Posted at 8:32 p.m.
With yesterday's outbursts and faux scandals in Parliament, there can be little doubt this year's election campaign is going to a dirty one, with a focus on personalities over policy substance.
But if Labour's "strategists" have got anything right recently, it's that Jolly John Key is very much "King of the flip-floppers".
When the shoe's on the other foot, the Labour Party moves very quickly to rewind the clock and undo any changes by a National-led administration.
ACC was opened up to competition by National Party in the late 90s, but Labour immediately repealed the change and returned ACC to a state-owned Monopoly. Where excessive Government spending was previously cut, Labour increased it ten-fold (Health, Welfare, Education), with abysmal results.
National's Employment Contracts Act was swiftly dumped in favour of Labour's pro-Union Employment Relations Act. When tax levelling began to show benefits, Labour introduced an arrogant "rich prick" top tax rate, which ended up hitting even middle-income earners.
Key doesn't seem to get that well over 50% of the country is calling for a change in Government, and a change in direction. It seems the country's had enough of 9 years under a Labour-led administration, and are crying out for a new vision for New Zealand.
While shuffling Helen Clark and Michael Cullen to the other side of the house might make for slightly less annoying tv news bulletins, it's not much good if the new faces continue doing pretty much the same thing as the old crowd. It's enough to make me join the rapidly growing trans-Tasman drift.
Interest-free student loans to bribe university-age voters? Me too. KiwiSaver? Me too. Foreign policy? Me too. Welfare for Working families? Me too.
Waffling on about climate change and emissions trading? Me too. Privatisation? Cap on GP's fees? Bulk funding for schools? There's the faintest whiff of controversy? Oh, go on then, me too.
There is nothing National will not do for power, including abandoning whatever principles it ever had, and fooling every supporter it ever had about what it stands for and where it's really going.
By infiltrating the National Party and encouraging it to abandon the few principles it had left, the commies are ensuring they'll remain in control of the country's direction, no matter which party New Zealand voters go for at the election.
* Not PC: How many dead rats will John Key make *you* swallow?
Posted at 8:05 p.m. Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Dunedin has joined Pacific Blue's domestic network, with the inaugural flight arriving in the city this afternoon.
The airline - the New Zealand offshoot of Australia's Virgin Blue - will operate a daily return service between Dunedin and Christchurch, connecting to Auckland or a similarly timed flight to Wellington.
Promotional fares start at around $60 for the Dunedin to Christchurch trip, and $100 for Dunedin to Auckland.
Pacific Blue's expansion comes 7 months after it launched domestic services in New Zealand, and is the first of a promised move "into the provinces".
Pacific Blue bosses says the airline's helping to grow domestic passenger numbers in New Zealand, with its low-fare approach complemented by optional "pay-for-use" services like food and drink.
The airline says it's working to secure a third 737-800 for the domestic market to help fuel further expansion in routes and daily scheduled services.
Posted at 8:02 p.m.