Mike Moore's critics likened him to a human Catherine Wheel; light his emotional blue touch paper and he goes off in all directions. "Some think he is off the wall ..." The Economist wrote years later when he became head of the World Trade Organisation. "... others think he is wonderful."
I'm in the latter category and I'll explain why.
As Minister of Overseas Trade and Marketing, he led a delegation of about 100 on a six-nation tour of Southeast Asia in 1985 which I accompanied as the National Business Review's foreign trade correspondent.
He was always accessible and we got to know each other over a few late-night drinks on the whirlwind 12-day tour. Back home, Mike learned that my wife, Frances, had Alzheimer's disease and life was difficult as I tried to balance work with looking after her.
I never dwelt on it, but Mike never forgot. As busy as he was, with frequent overseas trips as well as government and party responsibilities at home, he occasionally phoned me at home on a Sunday to say: "How are things going? How are you coping?"
I never asked him for anything and he never offered anything. But it was the mark of a sensitive man with genuine concern for people, an attribute not that common among politicians outside of their vote-wooing speeches. He was the most compassionate politician I met in 50 years of reporting them in several countries and I will never forget him.
David Barber, Waikanae.
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Carter Holt Harvey in Northland has to obtain logs suitable for building material from their central North Island plantations, because there is a shortage of mature trees in the north: a shortage caused by loggers axing immature trees to meet the apparently profitable demand by China, in particular, for logs: any sized logs. Or CHH may have to close their Northland mill.
How did that come about, and why doesn't the government stop such practices, and retain the timber for our building industry?
Simple. Previous politicians sold the forests to foreigners, who can now do precisely what they like with the trees. However, present politicians could take back the forests and diplomatically tell the owners that a most unfortunate mistake had been made and they should seek compensation from those persons who had sold their nation's assets. In wartime selling a nation's assets and therefore its security is treason. What is the same action in peace time called? Trade!
Clark James, New Lynn.
Supermarkets and pharmacies in Auckland are sold out of hand sanitiser. There are reports of whole boxes being taken from the shelves by one or two customers as soon as they are put there.
Wouldn't it be sensible for the supermarkets to keep the sanitiser behind the counter and sell only one large or two small bottles per customer? At least this way everyone has a fair chance.
J Leighton, Devonport
The large image on Saturday's Business section (Weekend Herald, February 1) showed a flight crew arriving at Hong Kong airport wearing face masks, with one female member wearing her mask under her chin. Were the crew wearing masks to protect themselves from the contagion or to protect others from infection? Neither obviously.
My understanding is that a mask may help to stop one spreading infection but that they are less effective preventing being infected. Also masks must be replaced regularly and not reused. If face masks are effective the female member of the flight crew is placing herself, her colleagues and the general public at risk. The image is a clear example of poor awareness of mask-wearing procedures.
It is about time that national and international health authorities stopped "sitting on the fence" and made it clear if indeed wearing a mask is effective, and mount a public awareness campaign on how and where masks should be worn. Until then people like the female flight attendant will continue to act like mindless idiots.
David English, Northcote.
Simon Wilson's "Why we need a museum on the waterfront" (NZ Herald, January 31) is the kind of think piece we need to drive ideas and aspirations for Auckland's most significant harbour headland.
A museum, after all, is a repository for our memories and sacred artifacts, a place to tell our story. But no matter how contemporary, creative or well curated, a museum can become a shrine to our past instead of what lies ahead. Museums that try to anticipate the future can become hopelessly dated in quite short order.
What we need is a structure with a living, ever-developing inner life of its own.
Like individuals - cities need to play to their intrinsic strengths, a category they can own and lead in. Auckland's undeniable strength is sailing, it's technologies, it's culture and it's growing global sailing brand. An ultra interesting dynamic promentary structure surrounded by open public access to the sea to house a university of sailing with testing tanks, state of the art research and prototype testing at its very doorstep. A living, breathing campus of the world's best sailing innovators to link up with centres of excellence that already dot the harbour and region. From hydra dynamics, wind energy to laminates, electronics, 3D and sail design the university endowed by the likes of Larry Elison would be a world centre for the top brains and personalities in this high-value niche business and the IP and high-paying jobs it would generate.
Phil O'Reilly, Auckland Central.
Of all the proposals for building on the prime site of Wynyard Point, I find myself very enthusiastic about Lindsay Mackie's waka concept, but less keen on the LegendNZ content.
The waka huia/waka ama reference (much more than a boat) perfectly encapsulates both the housing of taonga and a vessel for discovery. The form exudes both kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga — cultural ways of being, increasingly embraced as core Kiwi values. It feels more welcoming, accessible and engaging than any grandiose edifice.
We now need to discuss what such a vessel might contain — positioned in relation to the Auckland Museum, the Maritime Museum, Motat, Auckland Art Gallery, Objectspace and our libraries.
A focus on individual "heroes" is problematic because New Zealand achievements are usually distinguished by teamwork. Physical objects draw people to a dedicated space — why else do we travel to experience things already seen on page and screen?
I favour the "ka mua, ka muri / walking backwards to the future" approach — charting an informed way forward.
How about an immersive environment exploring our unique trajectory of design and innovation to create a sustainable future? Visitors could be encouraged to become active participants rather than passive observers.
Michael Smythe, Northcote Point.
The famous Guiliani quote that "the truth is not the truth" fits the US Senate vote not to call witnesses who could have verified all the impeachment charges laid against Trump.
Who needs facts, truth and witnesses, to further bore 100 well-paid senators, when a foregone partisan decision is pre-ordained?
The US republic as it stands, two parties divided, with liberty and justice for the few, may need repealing and replacing with a parliamentary system which has its laws better defined for taming the top shrew from becoming despotic.
'Tis lucky we live in NZ with its variety of political input and general adherence to justice and fairness. And where our sense of shared truth, and humour, is fairly well accepted.
Rob Buchanan, Kerikeri.
Maybe Brian Fallow, in his informative article "A nation divided by housing" (NZ Herald, January 31) should have the last word on the topic of rising rents, landlords and house prices. There is only one real solution.
Fundamental problems persist: not nearly enough affordable housing being built; a growing population of renters, many of whom are poor; distortions in the tax system favouring property investment; banks offering very generous low-interest mortgages for those who can meet the criteria; and the Accommodation Supplement, which is effectively a subsidy flowing directly from taxpayer to landlord, when the state (increasingly) has to come to the tenant's rescue.
Are investors doing us a favour by buying and renting out properties? If it were really such a low-return and arduous form of investment, as some claim, it would be abandoned, surely; and yet investor numbers and portfolio size are increasing. Why is that?
B Darragh, Auckland Central.
So we enter a new decade and it's election year. It appears the Government, in its wisdom, has focused on the needs of the median voter. In particular, the business sector has been offered $11 billion of taxpapers' money for infrastructure. Mainly roads. Everyone seems happy, even the Nats with clenched teeth.
But where is the money coming from? What about the needs of the exploited, the deprived, the undervalued and unheard? Who is their voice?
I lent my vote to Labour last time thinking, especially, that the needs of the working poor would be quickly addressed. I was shocked to read the kind of tax anomalies highlighted by Brian Fallow (NZ Herald, January 31) are still in place, where abatement rates can be as high as 96 per cent for every extra dollar by solo parents.
So what am I to do with my vote this time? Wait for the money tree to be shaken again?
Jim Stanborough, Onehunga.
Short & sweet
Letters: Cone madness, living museum and true emergencies
Letters: LegendNZ Centre, insurance, royals and consumerism
Letters: Coronavirus, road and rail spend, teacher-speak, welfare and landlords
The final irony to the question which has never been answered: Why Brexit? Hans B Grueber, Wainui.
A longer sentence would have given Philip Arps more time to reflect on why he was there, and society's abhorrence to people like him with extremists' views, who act upon them. Warren Prouse, Papakura.
It's amazing that the National Party leader has ruled out future cooperation with NZ First so early in the electoral year. Not all National Party members would agree with him and it seems to be an unnecessary and possibly costly gesture. Peter Clapshaw, Remuera.
The baubles stop here. Mike Wagg, Freemans Bay
This new Government's first event saw Green Julie Anne Genter cancelling the already approved East-West Motorway link. It's still not approved with new infrastructure spend. What a continuing, expensive congestion disaster. Hylton Le Grice, Remuera.
I am unaware what channel this programme plays on, or better still, what night of the week. Ignorance, is bliss. John Ford, Taradale.
On ghost houses
The quote from the movie The Fly comes to mind: "Be afraid. Be very afraid." The spare bedrooms in your home may be next on the agenda. Lorraine Kidd, Warkworth.