Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Charitable Churches?

When I saw Nick Smith’s piece in the Business Herald last Friday my immediate thought was to dash off my own answer to the question Should Churches be Charities? I’d have said, No they shouldn’t. Nor should they get relief from property rates and charges.

Then I read the rest of his intemperate, prejudiced and ill-informed article and I posted a reply saying he’d lost my sympathy for his cause. Perhaps I was a bit intemperate myself, as my post hasn’t appeared.

But Nick has put his finger on an issue: if only he had separated charitable works from worship. If churches are active in charitable works they might well earn tax and rates privileges from a grateful State for their contribution to society. The Charities Commission still thinks so. But, should these privileges extend also to the facilities for public worship for a very small minority of the community? As a general rule, I think not. I can’t see why the State should support the religious choices of individuals.

Of course, rebuilding Christchurch cathedral will command wide public support. It is a public facility and should again become a focus for tourism and local sentiment as well as a place of worship for a few dozen. But perhaps our little congregation in Paihia should one day have to learn to live without subsidies from the public purse...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


This morning’s Business News on Breakfast reported significant falls in share market indices all over the world. Economic collapses in various European countries were noted as factors in the sudden lack of confidence.

The report went on to talk of falling prices for commodities and ended with the words “even New Zealand is coming under attack”.

Ever-smiling Petra immediately responded from the anchor armchair: “Fantastic!”

Yeah, well, we probably know what she meant - but we heard what she said...

Earthquake Tax?

Thank you, Brian Easton, for spelling out so clearly that the government intends that the cost of the Christchurch rebuild be carried more by the “poor, weak and vulnerable” than the more fortunate. (NZ LISTENER May 14 2011)

I’m no economist, but even I can understand that paying for the Christchurch rebuild out of a specially raised tax would come hardest upon those who pay most tax. And paying for it out of the consolidated fund while at the same time reducing “Working for Families, benefit entitlements, support for students and the Kiwisaver subsidy will eventually reduce the incomes” of the most vulnerable in our communities.

Brian Easton says: “I leave it to you to decide whether that is a good thing.”

Thanks, Brian; I have decided and I am not happy with the Government's decision.

Meet Brian Easton

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What price our carbon footprint?

This week we have had four trees taken down. One was a wildling that had gone mad on our fragile terrace, one was encroaching on our driveway and the other two had got far too big for the places they’d been planted. Two absolutely dominated the street as you drove down towards our place.

I had it done with a heavy heart. I had supposed that they absorbed enough C02 to compensate for some part of our human lifestyle. But I went to the internet to check on the facts. One calculator suggests that our home creates about 25 tonnes of C02 a year and that would need 120 trees. Taking out four didn’t make our situation a whole lot better.

But down the bank we have got another few dozen which we regard with a new respect.

All soft and furry…

We’ve been enjoying watching some of our 1997 trip video while transferring it to DVD.

Yesterday we recalled captivating sequence of a squirrel building a stash of winter food in Canada. He was bounding backwards and forwards about eight metres from a small source of good stuff to a hole in the ground. He seemed to carry just one item at a time and carefully nibbled at each one to check it was OK. He then spread leaves over the cache and tamped them down. It was irresistible viewing for Kiwis who never see a squirrel at home, especially as the action was just outside Doug’s window.

The same day I opened our compost bin and right on top was another soft, furry creature about the same size but lacking the bold bushy tail. Bright eyes. Twitchy nose, I think, but I hardly noticed I slammed the lid down again so quickly.

I’ve heard squirrels described as vermin in their home countries but they seemed really cute to us. Perhaps someone can see beauty in the large swamp rat that has taken up residence in our compost bin. But we will set a trap…