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CPI Shows Little Respite From Rising Costs

Posted on 17 Jul 2009

The release of the Consumers Price Index (CPI) for the June 2009 quarter yesterday was something of a mixed bag for consumers, with some costs for families increasing while others dropped.

A measure of the price of goods and services purchased by New Zealand households, the CPI is often used as a measure for inflation and covers the costs of: food, alcohol and tobacco, clothing and footwear, housing and household utilities, household contents and services, health, transport, communication, recreation and culture, education, and miscellaneous goods and services.

Prices for these are collected weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually depending on the expected frequency of price changes for particular goods or services - for instance, surveys are conducted weekly for fresh fruit and vegetables, while monthly surveys gather information on things like electricity and newspapers.

Yesterday's CPI revealed that consumers are paying less for fuel: petrol has dropped this quarter by almost 20 percent - diesel by almost 10 percent - and the cost of international travel has gone down more than 20 percent, with package holidays being seven percent cheaper.

However, it is still becoming increasingly expensive to feed a family - despite inflation having reached its lowest point in almost two years. Meat, poultry and fish are 11.3 percent more expensive than this time last year; the cost of fruit and vegetables is up 8.3 percent. Interestingly, restaurant meals have only increased by nearly five percent.

Further, housing and household utilities have risen - mainly due to higher electricity prices.

Unfortunately, two things can be expected in an economic downturn like the one we're now experiencing: prices will go up, and wages will freeze.

Some budgeting services predict that things will get worse before they get better and, as the recession draws to a close, prices are likely to go up even further - meaning families will have to continue to tighten their belts for some time to come.

One Giant Leap For Mankind - 40 Years Ago Today

Posted on 16 Jul 2009

Neil Armstrong set off to take his now famous "giant leap for mankind" 40 years ago today, when his Apollo 11 mission left Earth on July 16 1969.Just days later, on July 20, he stepped on the surface of the moon and gave his now famous line: "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". In reality the pictures looked like it was actually quite a big step for the man himself aided by the lack of gravity!

Apollo 11 was the successful US mission to take first honours in the race to land on the moon. It was of course very dangerous as the subsequent Apollo 13 mission highlighted. President Nixon had prepared two speeches to cover all eventualities. Fortunately he was able to deliver the positive one and what followed was speculation that holidays to the moon, space travel, voyages to Mars would quickly become commonplace.

In fact this hasn't been the case and there have only been six landings on the moon with 12 men having walked in the gravity light environment - it's definitely an exclusive club.

The space race was between the US and USSR. Today it is a race of a very different kind that is occurring - the battle for control of the electromagnetic spectrum or Cyberspace. It's a battle now, not for man against man, but for intelligence and national and international security.

To Paint Or Not To Paint?

Posted on 12 Jul 2009

First there was that magazine cover with Demi Moore bodypainted (incidentally, the artist was a kiwi). Then there was Keith Locke who promised to run naked in Newmarket if Rodney Hide won the Epsom electorate seat in 2005. Rodney did win and Keith had himself bodypainted for the event.

Next came the new Air New Zealand advertisement with bodypainted crew and staff. Today's Sunday Star Times reported that the Advertising Standards Authority has received complaints. It's all been done pretty tastefully in my view but I guess there were always going to be some who were offended by the sight.

Now the Air NZ in-flight safety brief video also features flight crew in their bodypainted best. I fly quite a lot and I can say with certainty that the safety brief is watched by more passengers than ever before. No matter whether you love the body painting or hate it, if the message is getting across I think Air New Zealand can probably claim 'Mission Accomplished'!

He Ponanga Kaha - Service With Strength

Posted on 10 Jul 2009

On Wednesday, I visited Devonport's VT Fitzroy Ltd to observe, among other things, some of the work being undertaken on the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) frigate HMNZS Te Kaha in dry dock as part of her mid-life upgrade.

The first of the RNZN's ANZAC-class frigates, Te Kaha was constructed by Tenix Defence Systems in Australia and launched in Melbourne on July 22 1995.

Built to the German MEKO 200 Class design, Te Kaha is 118 metres long and can travel at 27-plus knots. She carries a five-inch (127 mm) gun, Sea Sparrow missile system, Phalanx Close In Weapon System, six torpedo tubes, and numerous small arms ranging from 9mm pistols to 50 calibre machine guns. Te Kaha also carries one Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopter. A combined diesel or gas turbine propulsion system gives her both long range endurance and high speed capability when needed.

With a complement of 178 officers and ratings – 25 Officers and 153 ratings – Te Kaha is the older sister to HMNZS Te Mana and was commissioned into the RNZN in Auckland on July 22 1997. Since then, she has been involved in the September 1999 landing of the United Nations International Force in East Timor, as well as relieving Te Mana during the 2000-201 conflict in the Solomon Islands.

Hon Heather Roy 005
Below is a photo taken of me beneath one of Te Kaha's propellors with some of the team working on the vessel.

Welcome Home Te Mana And Endeavor

Posted on 09 Jul 2009

Based at the Devonport Naval Base – and ceremonially homeported at Tauranga – Te Mana (F111) is one of 10 Anzac-class frigates, and one of two serving, in the Royal New Zealand Navy. Constructed by Tenix Defence Systems in Australia and launched in 1997, she was commissioned into the RNZN in December 1999 and is expected to be in service beyond 2020. With the RNZN she has been involved in: preparations to evacuate around 225 New Zealanders during ethnic conflict in the Solomon islands in 2000; aiding HMS Nottingham when it ran aground in 2002; deployment to the Gulf of Oman from January-August 2003, and again in 2004; a diplomatic mission to Russia in 2005; assisting with the discovery of a Kermadec Storm Petrel breeding ground in 2006; and deployment to the central and southern Persian Gulf in 2008.

Last Saturday Te Mana and her 231 personnel returned home after a four-month operational deployment to China, South East Asia and Australia – – undertaken with replentishment tanker HMNZS Endeavour – to support defence diplomacy, coalition building and regional engagement activities. Upon approaching Devonport Te Mana fired an 11-gun salute, answered by a seven-gun salute from HMNZS Philomel at the Promenade as the Maritime Component Commander welcomed both ships home.

While away, both vessels also participated in the PLA(N) 60th Anniversary Fleet Review, supported a range of New Zealand diplomatic objectives and participated in a Defence Expo and three international military exercises at sea. They have been warmly greeted and their presence well received, with personnel being fine ambassadors for New Zealand and the RNZN.

The NZDF have produced the following facts about Te Mana's journey - all you ever needed to know about three and a half months at sea :

HMNZS Te Mana:
* 95 days away from home.
* 18359 Nautical Miles travelled
* 18 Promotions
* 3700 litres of milk
* 282 tins of Baked Beans and Spaghetti
* 50760 meals
* 9 ports visited
* 75.7hrs flown by Seasprite
* 800 kg Rags used
* Eggs – Over 3000 dozen (approx 36000+)
* Potatoes – over 2500kgs
* Bread – over 2000 loaves
* Biscuits - over 600 pkts
* Marmite/vegemite – over 100 jars
* 14082 cans of soft drink consumed
* 257 Moro/Moro Gold and 330 Mars Bars
* 256 Cadbury Black Forest Chocolate Bars
* 2400 rolls of Toilet Paper
* 253 Chocolate Fish
* Band-Aids: 52 boxes (2600)
* Seasick Tablets: 180 tabs
* Seasick Patches: 74 patches
* 2700 Rubbish Bags used
* 1800 Panadol tablets (including panadeine)

(Source: New Zealand defence Force – www.nzdf.mil.nz)

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