Engine Failure!

Okay I am getting sick of having to explain what happened to just about everyone I see. So now I can just tell them to read my blog.

When I flew to Wellington last Sunday we had an engine failure. Well actually a complete APU failure. Luckly we were on Taxi and not in the air.

This is how it went down:
We were push backed from the terminal like normal. While the engines were being started they were doing the safety demonstrations. It was pretty obvious from the start that something was wrong with the engines because they were not making the normal engine starting noise. Halfway through the safety video all the power died in the aircraft. I mean the video stopped, the air con stopped, all the lights cut out, the engines stopped we came to a complete halt with no power or engines.

We sat for 20 mins parked sideways on the taxi way in front of the domestic terminal before we got pulled back to the terminal. All other aircraft had to detour around us by using the B runway. Thank god for that second runway at Auckland! Once we were pulled back they decided to jump start us off a ground power unit that they had to call over from the International Terminal on a truck!

We had no power, lights or anything for more then 40 minutes. Did I say we had no aircon. Also this was an Airbus A320 a medium range aircraft normally used on international routes. It has 170 seats and I can only assume that it was being used as a domestic aircraft because it was a long weekend and school holidays. We had about 40 kids on board which was fine for all of 5 mins and then the crying began! Once started again we made it safely and without incident to Wellington 50 minutes late. Fun!

Science Millionaire

While I was bored an browsing the Internet I came across a science version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

http://education.jlab.org/million/index.html

The first time I played I got to $32,000 and dropped out on the $64,000 question by not thinking out the question right. Perimeter is the sums of the sides not just the length of one side! doh!

My second time around was even worse dropping out on the second question after I couldn’t remember how many continents there are. I got six because I was confused if North and South America was one or two continents.

My third time around I cracked the 1 Million. Got through reasonably easily until the final question where I made sure I used all my lifelines to be absolutely correct. All in all a lot of fun. Give it a try.

Student Debt Debated In The House

Go the Greens and New Zealand First! Good on you for standing up for students!

Tomorrow is going to be huge. Student Debt hitting 10 Billion is already in TV3 News as the third story, New Zealand Herald, Stuff, Scoop. And probably lots more.

http://tinyurl.com/3mw9zc

9. Debt, Student-Increases

[Uncorrected transcript-subject to correction and further editing.]

9. METIRIA TUREI (Green) to the Minister for Tertiary Education: Has he received any reports that student debt will reach the milestone of $10 billion this week; if so, what, if anything, does he plan to do about it?

Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister for Tertiary Education) : Yes, I have. Next month’s Budget will contain some measures to further increase student support, just like each of our first eight Budgets have already done. I acknowledge in passing the Green Party’s consistent support for progress in this area, and I also acknowledge that the National Party has consistently voted against such progress.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister stand by this statement, which he made in January of this year: “Each year under Labour-led governments student support has strengthened,”; if so, how does he reconcile that comment with the fact that the latest figures show that fewer students received a student allowance in 2006 than when Labour came to power in 1999?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The proportion of eligible students who are receiving the allowance now is well over half-it is about 57 percent-about three-quarters of whom are receiving the full allowance and one-quarter of whom are on the cusp, if the member might see what I mean. That is a great many more students than when we first came into office. I cannot express the difference in a percentage, however, because I do not have the figures with me.

Hon Mark Burton: In the light of the Minister’s response to the primary question, does he expect that total student debt will go on to reach $11 billion or even $12 billion; if so, why is the total debt still rising?

Hon PETE HODGSON: It is a very good question. The total debt continues to rise because, apart from inflation, there are more students, and more students are studying to a higher level. That is a good thing. It is a good thing. The question is what is happening in the life of an individual student, and what is happening there is that conditions continue to improve. They would say “too slowly”, but conditions do improve. The average debt is now rising more slowly than the average wage, with the average wage being the way that one pays the debt off. For that reason the average repayment of the debt has reduced from where it was in 2001, at 9½ years, to where it is now, at less than 6 years. So there is an improvement for students. The Greens have assisted with that improvement. We need to make more improvement.

Dail Jones: Does the Minister accept that the problem associated with student debt, with or without interest, can be substantially reduced by the introduction of New Zealand First’s policy, which for many elections has stated that New Zealand First will introduce a universal student allowance that does not require repayment?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Having a universal student allowance is the policy of a number of parties in this House. For my part, we are happy in our party to move towards, but not to, a universal student allowance, and this is why: I have other priorities. I need to pay attention to the quality of tertiary education. I need to ensure that the completion rates continue to rise. I need to ensure that the access-especially for Māori and Pacific Islanders, which is well below par-must be increased. These things all cost money and I happen to place them above the move to a universal student allowance. On the other hand, we make progress towards that universality in most years, and I hope we may do so again next month.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister disagree, however, that his inadequate student support policy, which includes interest-free student loans, has actually led to a 9 percent decline in the enrolment of students from poor backgrounds; and will he then make a real commitment to fulfilling the policy of the Green Party, the New Zealand University Students Association, and, obviously, New Zealand First, for having a universal student allowance, which would ensure that today’s students are able to have the same opportunity to learn, to buy homes, to choose when to have families, and to take control of their financial destiny, as he and most of the Labour Party leadership have also been able to do?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The short answer is no. I have no advice to the effect of a 9 percent reduction in whatever the member suggested might be occurring for New Zealanders who are from more modest backgrounds. On the contrary, there is documented evidence of higher access for Māori and Pacific Islanders, but not high enough, and of higher completion rates at level 7 and above, but not high enough. We have had some dramatic, outstanding improvements in education amongst Māori and Pacific Islanders in the tertiary sector in this country-especially in the years 2002 to 2006, which is the latest data available-but I would be the first to say, along with all of my colleagues, that progress is not yet sufficient.

Dail Jones: Is the Minister aware that student debt can begin to be decreased by increasing the current parental income maximum for a student allowance from $71,000 before tax, if one lives in a parental home to study, and just over $77,000 before tax, if one lives away from a parental home-the current rate-to, say, $100,000 before tax, if one lives in a parental home to study, and $105,000 before tax, if one lives away from a parental home, which would cost an estimated, and I emphasise “estimated”, additional expenditure of about $300 million to the Government, and surely this would be a good investment in education and in the future of New Zealand and it would encourage qualified people to stay in New Zealand?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Yes, I am aware of that, which is why, although the member was not able to be with us, this Government shifted parental thresholds three times in each of the last three Budgets-by 20 percent, 10 percent, and 10 percent-and we do not rule out the possibility in the future of a further shift in the thresholds.

Metiria Turei: Is the Minister aware that the Minister of Finance recently told the TaxAgents’ Institute: “We have real ambition for New Zealand and our economy. And we know that by refusing to burden our children and grandchildren with a legacy of debt, we are removing one of the biggest obstacles to realising that ambition.”; if so, does it worry him that the Minister of Finance is so ignorant of the $10 billion legacy of student debt left by this and previous Governments, which has a proven, disproportionate exclusionary impact on women, Māori, and the least well-off New Zealanders?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Just a couple of comments in response: first, the level of participation of, say, New Zealand Māori in our universities is still below that of, say, New Zealand Europeans, but it is getting better, not worse. The member shakes her head-she needs to go back and look at the statistics. Second, I did not have the pleasure of being in the room when the Minister of Finance made his quoted remarks, which is a shame, of course, but I would not mind betting he was talking about KiwiSaver, and that is a magnificent policy that will change the face of this country.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table a chart showing that the numbers of students receiving an allowance in 2006 are 5,000 fewer than in 1999.

* Leave granted.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table an article describing how the under-35s are now effectively shut out permanently from financial security.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table “Freedom from debt, freedom to prosper”-the Minister’s speech to the TaxAgents’ Institute of New Zealand given in March this year.

* Leave granted.

Dail Jones: I seek leave to table a document to introduce a universal student allowance, being New Zealand First’s election policy.

* Leave granted.

What to do when you are bored.

Go for a walk!

I was bored and had no one else to go with so I headed up to Okura Bush this afternoon. After driving down the road it became apparent that there was something on so I decided to turn around and do the Long Bay to Okura River walk that is only a few ks down the road instead.

According to the ARC website the Long Bay to Okura River walkway is meant to be 6km and 3 hours return. Well I did the first 3km to the Okura River in 40 minutes. The good thing about having no one else with me meant that I could fly. I was literally running at a slow jog a bit of the way. I also picked at awesome day to go. On the way to Long Bay it looked like it could rain but instead once I got to the Okura River it actually became amazingly fine. The tide was also out so you could walk out along parts of the mud flats to get some awesome photos.

What is it with political parties?

It seems to me that every major political party in New Zealand tries to be moderate and just when you think it is safe to vote for them they suddenly release extremist policy to scare you off.

Going from left to right:

Greens. The Greens have a fantastic education policy and vision. But some of their social and financial policies go a little bit to far. People need to wake up and realise that anything and everything that we do will hurt the world in someway. It is chaos theory. We need trucks to transport goods we can’t use bikes for everything!

Progressive. Again great education policy. Student allowances for all! Yes! Although you can’t spend that money on alcohol as they want to outlaw it and don’t go even talking about herbal highs because unlike the Greens they may be a little to natural for you.

Labour. Not to left. Not to right. Except when it comes to tax and social welfare (see below). I earned my money why are you taking so much of it and redistributing it. This is not Robin Hood country is it?

Maori. Probably the best small party. But why do we have to segregate based on race?

New Zealand First. The party I am probably the closet in my views to. Except on singling out minority groups. I think New Zealand needs skilled migrants regardless of race. It is not just Asians flooding in.

National. Again just like Labour. Not to Left. Not to Right. However they want to introduce voluntary students’ association membership. No! You cannot pay nothing for services and still expect services.

Act. Freedom! Yes. Although having to pay through the nose for everything because you go from too much control to no control is a bit of big problem. Oh and Roger Douglas. I loved Cullen’s comment “Just when you thought it was safe to vote for National like something out of a B Grade horror comes Roger Douglas.” Fantastic way to take the country backwards 20 years.

Air New Zealand’s New Baggage Charge

If you haven’t heard about Air New Zealand’s new baggage charges you can read about them here:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10502213

The words money making rip off come to mind when reading about it. I am currently traveling on around 20 – 30 flights per year and I am never over my baggage weight allowance, in fact 90% of the time I am more then 50% under it. Although I do occasionally travel with two bags – always underweight.

I think Air New Zealand have figured out that not many people traveling domestically actually go over the baggage weight limit and have found another way to squeeze them for money. Only a few days ago it was announced that fairs would also increase.

To put it bluntly Air New Zealand want you to pay more for you ticket. Pay more for your bags. Provide less people behind the desk and expect more from you (ie you have to put your own bags on the baggage trolley).

What is next? A $1000 per ticket cost to fly to Wellington where you create your own ticket, act as your own security screener, fly the plane yourself, be baggage handler, air traffic controller, and ground crew. Customer Service yeah right!

Being Yourself

I was asked by a fellow student President today about what defines me.

Well my immediate response was:

  • Computers/Programming
  • Tramping
  • Church

I was then asked how much of that I was doing this year given how busy I was.

My response was very muted because all three have been essentially zero. I have started on a computer science project but haven’t touched it in about two months. I have been tramping twice but that is it all my outdoors exercise this year. And church, well I have been twice, I have been to youth group three times as well but given that a quarter of the year has gone by I have not done much of the things that define me.

I was just reading something someone else I know had written, it was a list of goals. The only problem I noticed with this list of goals was that the majority of them actually had nothing to do with the definition of this person and instead were most of the things that this person’s friends define themselves through. So that made me think. Should we be defining ourselves in who we are or who we could pretend to be by copying the acts of others?

I don’t think we would achieve much more then heartache by trying to take the defining aspects of others and stuff them into our lives. Because at the end of the day we are all unique and all different. If we were all the same we would be boring!

Now I am not saying that we should not have goals and not have role models. However, what I am saying is our goals should be what we can achieve and our role models should be people that we want to be like; not clone.

Life. It is a celebration of diversity not of similarity.

More Photos From The Top Of The North Island

Just got some more photos taken by other people who also summited Ruapehu a few weeks ago.

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This is the group of us at the start of the day.

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This is about an hour in. That hill in front of us will only take about another hour to get up. And then what you can’t see is on the left the next bit that is that high again.

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People so small. Rocks, Cliff so large. This is nearing the top of the valley that is in the above photo.

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Just a stroll up a hill.

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Party at the top. Pun intended.

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Walking across the Ash Field.

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Going down with the weather packing into the valley below. See all the ash between the rocks. This made the descent extremely difficult triple checking footing.

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It is only a little bit further to the bottom.

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Weather getting nice and dark near Knoll Ridge (top of Whakapapa Ski Field) an hour from the bottom.