The hunt is on for a Kiwi icon to sell infant formula without being culturally offensive

June 1, 2011

But is this a good way to sell canned baby formula?

In a follow-up to an item posted here the other day, Alf observes that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has done things differently from Tariana Turia.

It has investigated a Maori-branded infant formula being exported to China (and Tariana is bound to appreicate that this has been done).

The contents of the cans of baby tucker were given first priority and – we are told – they meet all food safety and export regulations.

MAF now will look at marketing and labelling considerations.

Tariana Turia, our Associate Minister of Health, did things the other way around and made the branding (with Maori imagery) her first concern.

She can chalk this up as a triumph because the company that is peddling this stuff is now looking for a new brand.

Kiaora’s experience will be instructive for other companies that come to this country (as they are bound to do, because of the asset fire sale that is now under way to help us settle our debts).

Nobody gets too excited about foreigners slapping an English word on a product.

But if they use a Maori word, they had better be ready for a fight with our special people, who can be very possessive about Maori words.

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It’s called progress: namby-pamby consumers will beat an egg but want cockies to be kind to cows

January 12, 2010

Alf became wistful at breakfast, as he mused on the good old days when a bloke could whack the kids when the buggers misbehaved or wallop a cow that became wayward on its wanderings to the milk-shed.

Nowadays some interfering busy-body will report you to the authorities. Next thing you know, a hefty penalty will have been imposed.

These musings were prompted by news that a North Canterbury farmer, a John Dalmer, has been fined $17,500 and ordered to pay court and inquiry costs of more than $60,000 for letting his stock starve.

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Great – a gong for the wind, but those lesser awards for policy wonks leave a sour taste

December 31, 2009

Mrs Grumble is keeping out of Alf’s way today, as she usually does when the new year and birthday honours lists are published.

She knows full well that Alf will be grouchy for a day or two because he has been overlooked yet again for a title.

He will be especially grouchy this time, because one of the big gongs has gone to Helen Clark.

Alf bitterly recalls that knighthoods and damehoods – some of the plums for being part of the glorious British Commonwealth of Nations – were scrapped under her leadership.

Now she has been awarded the country’s highest honour, membership of the Order of New Zealand, in the New Year Honours announced this morning.

The former prime minister becomes the 17th member of an order that can have no more than 20 living New Zealanders as members at any time.

Yesterday, taking a break from her schedule as administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, she looked every bit a former Labour Party leader, dressed in a red jacket at the Waihi Beach home of her parents, Margaret and George.

She said the award came as a surprise. “I really didn’t expect it. But the reality is that, generally, people from previous administrations have been recognised, so I guess the same traditions apply. Perhaps it was the timing of it.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We Nats have spent the past decade trying to tip her and her gaggle of leftie social engineers out of office, complaining all the while about how they are botching things and making New Zealand a place that is encouraging emigration.

Now we reward her.

And get this…

The honour’s citation simply says, “For services to New Zealand”.

For what?

That’s a bit like Alf having to pay his builder “for services rendered,” even though the clumsy bugger punctured a water pipe and the plumber had to be hired to put things right.

Then there are those lesser gongs that have been doled out to buggers who – so far as Alf can see – have done nothing much more than their jobs as public servants.

There’s nothing personal in the examples Alf cites here. It’s just that they are blokes who have been quietly getting on their work as bureaucrats.

Example number one: Timothy Charles Robert Horner, Otaki, for services to the New Zealand Customs Service.

Horner – Alf understands – is or was the Customs Service Group Manager Policy. A policy wonk, in other words.

He has managed Customs’ policy work since his appointment in 1998, leading a gang of wonks who provide advice to the Government and the Minister of Customs on border management issues, including international trade and international relations.

In effect, he has been rewarded for a decade of wonking.

And before that?

He joined Customs from the Department of Internal Affairs where he served for 20 years, initially as a manager in the Local Government division, and later as the Department’s Policy Manager for Gaming, Citizenship and Heritage issues.

Betcha his pants have a real shiny patch around the bum.

Then there’s an award to one Alan Bryan Kerr, of Wellington, for services to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

He’s another policy wonk.

Alf recalls a written question being put to Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton in 2007, back in the days when our capital city was Helengrad.

The question was put by our David Carter – a bloke who is worthy of an honour – who wanted to know who were the members of the Primary Industries Summit Steering Group.

The list of names supplied in reply included that of Alan Kerr (Director, International Policy, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry)…

On the other hand, Alf applauds the knighthood awarded to Arthur Douglas Myers, CBE, of London, for services to business and the community.

Myers was a beer baron, the boss of Lion Nathan.

His firm makes Steinlager, which makes Alf merry, if consumed in sufficient quantities. It also makes him burp.

Hence Myers can be said to have been honoured for his contribution to Alf’s belching – a gong for the wind.


Could Rokx be rolled by a fluency fuss?

November 21, 2009

There’s some bemusing stuff about a bit of workplace how’s-your-father at the Maori Language Commission in the The Dom-Post today.

A dispute between the chief executive of the Maori Language Commission and her staff has prompted the board to order an investigation.

The independent inquiry, conducted by Sir Wira Gardiner, was begun after some staff wrote to the board expressing concerns about Huhana Rokx’s management style.

Management style? Alf would be much more concerned about hiring someone with the curious name Rokx for a job in an agency charged with promoting the Maori language.

But what does he know about these things, eh?

Well, he can tell you (based on his reading of the Dom-Post) that –

Commission chairman Erima Henare has been acting chief executive since November 10, when the board appointed Sir Wira.

Both Mr Henare, who earned $58,150 from the board for the year ended June 2008, and Ms Rokx declined to comment personally about the dispute yesterday.

What’s more, Henare has hired Wellington public relations consultant Chris Wikaira to do any talking on the issue and management and staff have been told not to speak to the media. All media inquiries should be made through Wikaira.

But papers obtained by The Dominion Post claim staff members fluent in the Maori language use this ability to “show superiority” over their colleagues.

There have been at least two meetings between management and staff this year aimed at resolving the in-house problems.

One employee noted that, after one of these meetings, staff did not feel trusted and found their work environment suffocating.

Is that it?

Is it all about a pecking order where your position is influenced by your fluency in the language the commission is promoting?

Why should this be a matter of concern?

If you don’t speak Maori, or speak it poorly, you wouldn’t want to work there anyway, surely.

Alf would like to think the buggers who know a cow has four tits on its udder, and that you don’t milk bulls, and that wool comes from sheep could feel superior to those who don’t in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Likewise, knowledge of economics should push you higher up the perch at The Treasury.

Blokes are unlikely to prosper at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

And so on.

Mind you, we run into problems with this line of thinking when we get to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Or do we?

Putting the outfit in the hands of a bunch of kids is unlikely to do much mischief because Alf doesn’t see it serving any useful purpose anyway.


Spare those tigers

May 30, 2009

After the fuss raised by the shooting of the rare white tiger that killed a keeper at the Zion wildlife park, Alf welcomes hearing the case for the defence presented today by one of the company’s bosses.

One concern is that the killer tiger, Abu, was one of only 120 white tigers left in the world. But –

Yesterday, park operations manager Glen Holland said people were wrong to think that the death of white tigers might endanger the population of Bengal tigers.

“I just cannot get over the public of New Zealand saying ‘the poor tiger’ – it really is just unbelievable,” he said.
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How to become a world-beater

April 16, 2009

Is becoming a world-beater simply a matter of money? Or is some other ingredient essential?

Alf poses those questions on learning that Massey University will fund three PhD scholarships “to ensure” that a newly appointed professor “can establish a world-leading research programme.”

“Ensure” is the magic word. It means “to make certain” or “guarantee”.

If this be so, pouring money into other professorships will ensure we establish world-leading research programmes in a raft of things.

We could set up a professorship of rugby and maybe the resultant world-leader rugby research will help us build a world-beating rugby team, for example.
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Drought areas are being monitored

February 18, 2009

Farmer readers – especially those in drought areas – should be alerted to a statement today from Agriculture Minister David Carter.

He says the Government is keeping an eye on things, out there in areas starved of rain. And Alf is confident MAF will make a much better fist of its monitoring than the Corrections Department has been doing with managing dangerous offenders on parole).
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