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David Hargreaves says while it would be lovely to simply bin this year and move straight on to 2021, we may be able to somewhat salvage matters in the second half of 2020

David Hargreaves says while it would be lovely to simply bin this year and move straight on to 2021, we may be able to somewhat salvage matters in the second half of 2020
TURNED UPSIDE DOWN: So far the year has been the very opposite of 'stable and boring'

It's one of the great traditions, almost an obligation, among financial writers that at the start of each year we assess the lie of the land and do a 'scene setter' for the year ahead.

Often this involves making all kind of foolish predictions about what the coming months may bring. Yours truly long ago learned the folly of this and settled on a pattern of simply trying to assess what some of the big issues facing us would be and not necessarily predicting at all how things will pan out.

But it is with much mirth I report to you that with the piece I produced at the start of this year I put the headline: "Here's hoping for a 'stable and boring' 2020".

Really. I said that.

Mind you, I also said in the article itself that stable and boring "can in a heartbeat turn to unstable and hair-raising".

As we now close in on the year's halfway point it's probably fair to say 'unstable and hair-raising' sums up much of what's happened so far. 

Is it too much to hope for something a bit more boring and at least vaguely resembling stability in the second half of the year?

Well, it probably is too much to hope for.

We've done well

But having said that, I must say we are right now in a much better position in respect to that hideous virus than I had dared dream two months ago. 

By effectively clearing the slate and heading towards the second six months of the year with (at time of writing) zero virus cases we have at least engineered for ourselves the prospect of making this something of a year of two halves.

A good second half will never make up for the carnage of the first six months but at least we might be able to finish 2020 with reasons to be cautiously optimistic about 2021.

Really it all depends on how bad the damage to the economy was in the early months of the year. And it will be a while before we can truly get a hard measure on that.

The lockdown was in some ways like a very deep earthquake that rattled our foundations. We now need to examine the foundations and see how bad the structural damage is.

As I referenced in an opine last week a big part of all this will be how bad the unemployment level gets. That in part will be determined by how much people now get out and spend - or possibly they don't, because they are er...worried about losing their jobs. Vicious circle I think they call it.

Our move to Level 1 is in effect a moment of truth. 

No excuses now

There's nowhere to hide. The economy is now as open as it can be for now. In other words, for businesses that have been gradually opening their doors again post-lockdown, the coming weeks are now going to be as good as it gets in the near term. There's no Government handbrake any more. No excuse, if you will. If the money doesn't start coming in the door now then it's probably not going to. Or not quickly enough.

And as we see the inevitable post-lockdown pent-up spending demand fizzle (and signs are that's already happening or maybe even happened) then so we move into a period when some businesses will have to make the decision on whether they can battle on through or perhaps have to give it away.

There's another factor at play that we will see, I'm sure, over the next six months too.

Some industries - and retailing would be an obvious one - have already been undergoing structural change, but still facing the need for more. If we talk about retailing specifically, it's seemed to me that the cracks have been papered over for some time by our burgeoning inbound international tourism. Now the tourists are gone with no date set for their return. 

And also, the lockdown and its closure of the shops may well have convinced even the confirmed tyre kickers among us (people who physically like to shop) that online will do. 

Therefore the reckoning that was coming for the retail sector may be accelerated.

Tough timing

Which is unfortunate. Ideally if a part of the economy is undergoing structural change that sees jobs being lost the hope is that other parts of the economy - and perhaps new and growing industries - will take up the slack.

We have no such luck at the moment - with the economy at large having been dealt such a big blow to the solar plexus. 

Another factor, as other commentators have noted, is the extent to which some businesses and sectors may use the pandemic as effectively 'cover' to carry out restructuring and downsizing that they may have already planned or were at least contemplating. Indeed, there's definitely been signs of that already and so therefore there's no reason to believe we won't see more of it over the rest of this year too.

So, the next six months won't be stable and won't be boring. 

Having gone down the track of seeking to eliminate the virus and having, let's face it, done such a great job so far, the absolute imperative is that we now keep it under control. Our chosen path has in effect been to wilfully wreck the economy in order that we might be able to restart and get it up running earlier and more strongly than would be the case if we had instead had a big virus outbreak and a super-stressed health system.

Keep it going

If we can keep the economy up and running with as few restrictions as possible for the rest of the year it is then all up to us to see how well the economy can recover. And that's obviously a big question mark when tourism in large part can be expected to remain missing in action.

However. We were, and we are, better placed than many countries.

With the chance now of running a relatively unencumbered economy through to the end of the year we do have the possibility of ending the year in better shape than might have seemed likely three months ago.

And that would be a cause for some satisfaction in what has been, let's face it a nasty old year.

Stable and boring we won't get. I would settle for defiantly resilient.

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I suspect the government’s hoping that a COVID-19 vaccine to stick in your arm will be readily available for New Zealander’s in the not too distant future, because they know that the virus will almost certainly re-enter the country and start spreading again once the borders are opened, irrespective of their isolation/quarantine control procedures. However, should the virus spread again, then there’s a great likelihood that the lives saved by the initial lockdown will all have been in vain, and the economy will be further shattered. Time will tell.

If the CCP creates the vaccine, count me out.

They dont like it up them captain

That is why they aren't going to be opening the border without quarantine, except with countries that have eliminated it. Potentially could be years until the virus isn't a threat.


It's easy to forget with GDP less than Sydney, that NZ is a cork bobbing along the surface of the international economic ocean. It always comes back to exports. With China increasingly hostile, tourism gone, and our dollar strengthening it's not a rosy outlook. I'd love to see NZ "punch above it's weight" in the next 3 quarters, but we're yet to pay the piper on our housing bubble so it's unlikely. If we wanted to get some direction for our economy and how to become an economic powerhouse as a small nation, we'd do well to look at the likes of what Israel is doing as a relatively isolated country. Very much technology focused.

We certainly will need to find new ideas like high tech. I am not certain primary exports will be enough. Particuarly if people want to pull away from China. Our friends USA & EU will not fill the void, no point even mentioning Britain. NZ has hit a bit of a brick wall in a trade deal with the EU.

Having lived in Israel New Zealand is not comparable.

In what ways?

They face hamas, we put hummus in our faces.

The key ones would be;
Location, right close to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Russia. At one stage I was picking flowers in the morning that would be in shops for sale in Europe that afternoon.
Climate, very long growing season, and pleasant to live in(some people may not agree on this).
People, Intelligent, well educated, motivated, and well connected, a lot have connections to multiple other countries.

NZ GDP per capita already exceeds Israel's (see Plus while both countries stole land of the indigenous peoples only Israel maintains a race segregated state.

Israel got their country off the indigenous peoples who got it off the indigenous peoples who got it off the indigenous peoples who got it off the indigenous peoples etc etc.

GDP of New Zealand in 2019: US$ 205B
Gross regional product of Sydney to 30th June 2019: AUD$ 130B

If you put them in to $US terms then NZ has about double the GDP of Sydney.

It would be nice if NZ could pull off the technology thing but we are missing the IQ horsepower. Both Silicon Valley and Israel have the required small group of extremely intelligent people needed to make technology work. NZers are not dumb by international standards but the country is famous for disrespecting anyone that has unusual abilities.

There are plenty of intelligent people in New Zealand, but I do agree that our culture often doesn't allow them to blossom. The most intelligent people I have ever known all left the country a long time ago, sadly.

That's right. NZ has quite an anti-intellectual culture, mind you so does Australia.

I agree Crispy. I am talking about the tiny group of very, very smart people and they are all encouraged to leave NZ. The cognitive elite are not welcome here.

The real difficulty is a risk-averse managerial cadre stuck in old vertical heirachy industry models. And by risk I mean anything that is not well understood, therefore uncontrolled. We need a culture change at the top end and a move towards flatter more agile models that actually acknowledge the skills and ideas of a diverse range of contributors.

Innovation will not happen if we continue with business as usual - but that requires trying new things and taking risks...

With a number of working visas of 250,000, obtained from an interest post in the last few days and uncertain if this info is correct, the unemployment problem should be alleviated as these people leave the country. I'm not so sure about labour mobility in NZ to fill some of those posts though. Unfortunately I have little faith in the CoL and the immigration Minister specifically, Lees-Galloway? to manage holiday/working and resident visas.

The World Heath Organisation now tell us that people without symptoms to Covid won’t be spreading the virus even if they test positive!
So we have been worried about nothing and yet we have been bankrupted by a virus that is mediocre??
We have been scammed!


For God's sake, will you stop with this nonsense. It's dangerous and irresponsible. You just have to look at what is happening overseas - this virus has killed 400000 people so far. It is not 'mediocre'. And countries like Sweden which didn't go into lockdown have had thousands of deaths and have a stuffed economy. We have not been 'scammed'.

Edited to add: also, check your facts:

To be fair as pandemics go this had been so-so - but the over reaction has been spectacular. The US is only inching towards the '58 Asian Flu deaths - population adjusted they will never hit the death rate of '58 or the Hong Kong flu in '68. I wonder why they didn't go batshit crazy back then. I guess then they had the good sense to not put recovering flu patients into rest homes.

Apples with apples?

Demographics, travel etc. have likely changed significantly, and are we comparing significant isolation measures vs. few?

Profile people have stayed at home. Not sure how this is a super complicated thing to understand but apparently it is.

Yes, people stayed at homes - just like other pandemics. A lot less complicated would have been to listen to the MoH when advised to shut the border - Samoa seemed to be able to pull it off. Simpler, and much less a burden - but doesn't fit todays narrative.

Ah, 100% hindsight is so satisfying - but ultimately useless, except to those trying to push political points.


Exactly, a real estate agent commenting on public health is dangerous. As the Epsom Maori MP would say - "stick to your knitting!"

Forget about overseas!!!
This virus is only catchy according to WHO now, if someone has symptoms.
No symptoms, no spread!


Yes it was all a scam...just to get you to stay and home and bake sourdough bread. Very clever leaders to pull this off.

We didn’t know what was going to happen with the virus here!
We close the border late not early!
The over reaction to what was happening here has been very damaging!


I hope you never comment again.

Are you living on another planet TM2? Are you watching the carnage covid19 has caused around the globe? Maybe the news signal doesn’t get down to Christchurch? Have a look at how well Sweden is doing... and the UK.
I was speaking to a colleague on Sunday, a Kiwi who served in the British military and he’s lost 5 former soldiers buddies to your ‘little’ flu.

The Boy once again conveys to us his intellectual prowess.

FFS TM2, now you are an antivax as well, just great!

FYI, I took my Labrador for his yearly vaccination, he's still a good boy and hasn't turn into a cat yet.. so it's 100% safe!

That was the reasoning initially for our more relaxed borders. But they don't really know. If we had known what we know now, this virus shouldn't have spread out of China in the first place.

The fate of people on working visas is a massive question. It impacts on lots of things - employment, rental housing supply (could increase massively if say half of those 250K leave in the next 6-9 months), retail / hospo
BTW does anyone know roughly how many people on work visas are in Auckland? I would hazard a guess of about 75-100K

Even working on 5 people per dwelling, there's 25k properties if half the working visas leave. Add another 30k - 50k Air BnB's that may struggle due to lack of tourism. Add that number of building consents issued to the year June 2019 was a record, how much of that is coming online?

Who said we needed Kiwibuild?

My own self managed AirBnBs have far lower holding and running costs than the foreign owned hotels and AirBnBs. I can compete with them financially quite easily, and am happy to pick up a few cheap as they come on the market. If they are not cheap, I don't care if some poor sod pays too much for them, as the current owners did.

The mercenary army of work visa holders are not going anywhere, they will have their visas rolled over until they can get immigration back up to ridiculous levels.


Surely visas won't be rolled over though if they don't have jobs? Aren't visas conditional on support from an employer?

no some are for certain countries but they are all closed at the moment

Exactly correct re visas and government competence to handle same.

Started diversifying my investments. Some shares, ETFs, US shares/ETFs. So far not too bad.
I am optimistic about recovery, though it may be start and stop for the next year or two.
But life has to go on, as it does. Humans are the most adept at adapting fast and the new normal will soon become normal and they will find their way to thrive. Give some time.
The election in the US in November (if it happens)is likely be a great change for the world, if Trump continues on the present track of self destruction.

Any Hertz or J.C. Penney? I'm going to be a curmudgeon and suggest that these markets are potentially destructive. Looking good for now, but who knows what will happen in these truly unprecedented times. It seems to me that most people buy into the money printing malarkey without even fully considering the consequences and whether or not it's designed to deliver for the average joe.

And if anyone trundles out some quote from Warren Buffet about buying when everyone is scared, I will not be afraid to say that people need to move beyond the Twitteresque behavior to markets (remember Buffet said he would never own gold as an investment. That doesn't mean gold is necessarily a bad investment). It's time to really challenge your own beliefs and others' perceptions.

Haha. I am not a day trader or a bored investor.
Quote :
The boredom markets hypothesis, the idea that a lot of individual investors buy stocks mainly because it’s fun, and that the more fun stocks are, and the less fun everything else is, the more they’ll buy stocks. In a pandemic, when people can’t really leave their house and sports are canceled, there is a lot less fun to be had elsewhere, so trading stocks seems relatively more fun, so people buy more stocks.>>>Matt Levine.

Yes, but it's not necessarily about you. I quoted Hertz partly because of how outrageous it is, but I think you also need to look at what's happening across broader indices. No matter how grounded you think your decision may be, if speculation is the key driver of markets, you have to go with the flow.

Catching a speculative wave and riding it successfully is like surfing. A very small percentage of investors can do that. I am not one of them, though I have gotten lucky a few times.

Just by being in the markets you are "one of them." And remember, the speculation is unprecedented. That goes back to my point is that if you want to participate in these wildly irrational markets, then you need to accept what they throw back at you. You might be better at removing yourself from them entirely.

Well, even RBNZ is recommending that people diversify from Term Deposits.

That would appear to be because the whole system looks like its broken and its the horse they're backing is going lame.

Your comment at the start of the year says it all "Here's hoping for a 'stable and boring' 2020".
We were on rocky ground and hoped that none of the several major events that were playing out got even worse.
Now we have something ten times worse and still hopeing that it won't be that bad.......

Nice coverage/confessional, David. The choice of image to head it up is pure gold. The rollercoaster (large chunks of the economy) was stopped mid-flight by Gubmint Fist on Panic Button, the occupants (businesses, consumers, supply chains) have been hanging upside down, held in by seatbelts (inherent resilience, wage subsidy) - or have already fallen out. The whole thing is kinda sorta clanking back into life (partially, 20% of export missing - long-haul tourism). So do the cars contain mostly Live Bodies, or a fair smattering (splattering?) of Zombies?

The economy consequence should be felt in next few months (Extend of Damage) and if we have another wave of virus than hard to predict, how long will it take and how much more government could print money.

Worst hit will be Travel Agents as have to wait till borders open up (As domestic bookings and to some extend even Australia are done online) folowed by Hotels, Accomodation provider, Activity operators and Restaurents and cafe along with retailers in Tourist destination.

Now is the time for the gubment to fire up some projects to get the economy going. The one that springs to my mind is the superport. Make a decision between one tree point or firth of Thames. Finance has never been cheaper.
Now is also the time to use the world's perception of Aotearoa as a clean green country with the added bonus of being coronavirus free. Get that kiwi ingenuity going to export quality produce. Virus free fruit? Wine to help you forget all your worries.
The list is endless.

Just goes to show, you never can tell who or what is waiting just around the corner. I see the NZ experiment with unfettled neoliberalism winding down in quick time. From a certain point of view thats was COVID has been all about. Its exposed the folly of A; leaving everything to the private sector B; the false economy of low corporate tax at the cost of unsustainable underinvestment in infrastructure of all kinds, health included. Ahead lies socialism, not necessarily a bad thing. The Beehive has regained its place as the power centre of the economy for the first time in over 40 years. Hopefully the leadership is upto the job, early indications seem positive.

4th Estate - our different views mean we will never be friends - however with a degree of naive idealism I so want to believe that the Beehive has regained it's power as the centre of the economy. For years the assumption that as a farmer I must vote National has rankled. As far as I am concerned the only part of the economy they supported for the last 20 years has been the big end of town. And the big end got richer and more powerful at the expense of the vast majority of us small business owners and wage earners. Trickle down theory be dammed.

Good grief. As someone who lived through the Muldoon years, I say good luck to anyone unable to leave NZ who doesnt already have their finances sorted. Tickets on NZ101 for my children while I suck off the socialist teat with my pot of gold.

Low corporate tax has never been a thing in NZ. NZ continues to have some of the highest corporate taxes. And what is left to private sector that is much worse than when it was under direct government control?
Education and Health continue to be government controlled. Power is a hybrid with government effectively controlling generation, having a monopoly on distribution and competitive retail front. Telecom is private, but are they worse than before? i think not. Air NZ, has never left government's control.
Housing is an area that has gone private. And as many studies clearly show, this has resulted a shift to serve people with money (who buy bigger, higher quality houses with higher margins for the builders) at the cost of the less affluent. The government push to let private sector cater rental properties for people who cannot make ends meet without government assistance is also under serious criticism. And while these criticism are valid, I wonder if there is ever an optimal solution for people who cannot afford their lives. Full control by government will have its own setbacks I am sure.

The fact that there are obvious negative outcomes from globalisation does not mean that what was in place before (i.e. protectionism and mercantilism) was better. I think moving forward, we should not forget that.

Housing is not private. The government controls the supply side.

Can you clarify where you get the low corporate tax statement? Determining relative amounts of taxation compared to other places is quite difficult, but on a number of measures NZ corporate taxation can be considered quite high. This is especially the case with less established businesses and leads in some part to our anti-competitiveness with the rest of the world (who have lower taxation rates).

We should lower our corporate tax, and bring in CGT and/or land taxes.

COVID didn't shut down the economy, the Beehive did. It's becoming clear that over reacted. Socialism is always a bad thing. It's an awful idea that has never enjoyed any success.

Less Beehive, more private sector please.

Clear to whom? I like your illogical leap to "socialism" too.....

.. anyone that can read. Asymptomatic people are very unlikely to spread covid. Death is exceedingly rare in otherwise well people.

I was responding to the assertion that socialism lies ahead. I hope it does not.

"Asymptomatic people are very unlikely to spread covid". Where did you get that from? And as for death being"exceedingly rare" - tell that to people in Italy and Great Britain.

The World Health Organisation has stated this yesterday!!!!

1. WHO have now come out and said only symptomatic are infectious. Articles are on all MSM. (Personally I wouldn't trust WHO, but they are the "official" body for this.
2. It is exceedingly rare for a healthy person to die. The people dying are for the most part elderly and sick.
- UK have done studies that show most (80%+) of deaths from Covid were likely to die within 12 months anyway.
- Italy, look up the average age of death, same for NY, France, Spain, etc....

You might have missed this - "The World Health Organization’s Covid-19 technical lead backtracked on her comment that asymptomatic transmission of the virus was “very rare”. “I think that it’s a misunderstanding to state the asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare,” Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said, noting modelling suggesting 40% of infections could be transmitted by people without symptoms." You also seem to have missed other things, going by the rest of your post.

npc - care to explain how 'the private sector' would have managed our response better?

They would not have locked down - too bad for business. Privatised medicine would have made a profit from every death. We would have had no closure of the borders - it stops tourists coming, you know. Funeral directors would be the new millionaires.

Hi David, Why can't we become a technological hub of the world.

Government can provide incentives to big companies and even start up to set up in NZ and can exclude Auckland for diversification.

We don't have the right kind of educated workforce. We could, though, if retraining in tech/engineering was free. Any reasonably smart person can learn enough coding, et cetera, to be useful, but when you have a family to support/ a mortgage to pay it's too hard to leave a job in your dead-end industry for six months while also adding debt. It wouldn't even be that hard to fix, but that would be a violation of free market principles, et cetera.

I have one technical career. I'd love to learn another particular one online after work at night. But who can offer it is controlled, and I'd have to do it in person, in business hours. Two hour classes + commuting away from the office = not doable, before you add in the punishing student loan repayments (still at a higher rate than the Australians, still kicking in at half the income level in a lower wage, higher cost economy).

I disagree, at least in part. Many people have the degrees (our population is highly educated), but the jobs aren't there. And because they're not there they leave. Right now, a number of them have returned, but they're unlikely necessarily to stay.

If you're talking purely coding, you might be right. But in other sciences? Not so much. I'm disappointed our high-tech manufacturing is so lacking. Many people who I know studied electronics engineering just ended up doing software, not because they're good at it, but because there are no jobs.

Have to agree. Despite knowing people talking up the likes of mechatronics etc, I know a number of people who have struggled to get employed after training..

It is not the cost of the fees that prohibit study. As you say It is the loss of income relating to the time spent studying.

How do you fix this short of paying for life while studying? We all know how that would end. A country of 5 million students.

Easy - you make studying remotely an actual option. Distance learning already existed well before the ages of streaming and online portals, criminal under-investment, patch-protection (read: justifying huge land holdings in central city areas) and elitism are the only reason you can't do this remotely.

For other things where labs are required, that is something a bit harder to work around, but things like Law, Commerce and most Arts degrees could be delivered and examined remotely. Then let people do it on their own time (e.g. not during business hours) and give those who want to put the hard yards in a chance.

Having worked for a Distance Learning Provider it is not that simple.

Yes you can start at 6pm, or 2am, or whenever suits you. But ultimately 4 (Part time) or 8 (Full time) hours of learning is still 4 or 8 hours of learning that needs to be completed, and the due date is still the due date for each assignment.

Very few successfully manage the commitments of full time work and study. Particularly when you throw in the needs of any dependents into the mix.

Or, use the established model of many of the ITO's: 'Earn while you Learn' - but that presupposes Apprenticeships or a non-trades equivalent. Poster child: ETCO.

The trick will be letting those businesses and industries that don't have a future fail (lots of tourism and retail, some luxury stuff) while providing enough support to the individuals affected, and encouraging the new jobs for those people to transition into. This is exactly the time when a UBI would be useful - to allow people to leave industries or businesses that are dying and start retraining, move or search for work, without the dread of being on the dole/poverty trap, impoverished and harassed by MSD.

How easy or hard would it be to provide a prezzie card to every household of say $1K???
Money that can't be saved, needs to be spent in the real economy

I'll sell you mine for $950 so I can buy some Hertz shares ;)

I think Hertz is undervalued and should be $100.00 per share. The worse something is the more valuable it is so all the haters that don't like that it is in Chapter 11 and has negative residual value are missing the big picture. Add riots, a devastating disease, no travel demand and political insanity and the sky is the limit really.

The year is brightening up for John Holland and CITIC's ventures in NZ tourism. Team of 5 million - yeah, nah. Let's get angry at The Warehouse.

"It is understood the KiwiRail contract has been awarded to a joint bid from Chinese-owned firm John Holland and South African-owned McConnell Dowell.
The competing New Zealand and overseas tenders were reportedly "very, very close" but cost played a determining factor."

"So, how has 2020 been for you so far?" - Everything's been great!! Well, except for, you know, everything...

I'm still alive, that's a plus. Interest rates on my term deposits are down, but as I'm able to live on NZ Superannuation, that isn't too much of a problem. I'm not exposed to financial or property market stresses, so ok there. We had a holiday just before lockdown, so no desire for travel. All in all, it's an interesting ride.


Apart from the job anxiety, mortgage stress, lack of meaningful wage progress at any point in the medium to long-term future and almost-certain negative equity on my family home - yea, it's fantastic, box of birds really.

I'm alive, and considering that amazingly unlikely event, I'm grateful every day.

The weather's been good.

Arsenal haven't been playing, so depression from their decline has been postponed...

Am looking forward to the Crusaders being beaten.... again and again and again!

I am in no hurry to get to 2021 as it may well be worse economically than this year.

The Herald has just done an interactive of the 14.000 jobs lost so far , and that does not include the little businesses and those redundancies in the pipeline .

Its an absolute nightmare unfolding

Now that Hooton has gone I'll end my electronic subscription.

If 2020 was something I bought from The Warehouse, I certainly didn't get a bargain and I would want to bring it back for full refund.

2020 has started (extra) well despite the LD and I'm not complaining.... another good decade on the way. Outcome is closely related to outlook I suspect

"Outcome is closely related to outlook I suspect"

Most Lotto players would disagree.

2020 made me realise that everything really is fake.

Going from strength to strength personally. Certainly enjoying working in the primary industries and having excellent job security and as much work as I want.
With interest rates being so low I have made the jump to start buying residential property in town as well.
It is concerning though, what this season is going to be like for farming, especially in the agricultural contracting business where a big chunk of the workforce are usually foreign workers.
Already businesses are advertising hard to try and find suitable staff, but it is the kind of work that requires a certain kind of person who is willing to work the antisocial hours required, and be trustworthy enough to operate $500,000 of machinery unsupervised.

I never wanted to live in 'interesting times'. It's been a heck of a ride so far, and it looks like it's only getting started..

I never wanted to live in 'interesting times'. It's been a heck of a ride so far, and it looks like it's only getting started..

Not sure why I'm posted twice..

New Years Eve here in Wellington, down at Houghton bay watching a surreal blood red sunset end one decade and herald the next - you could gaze directly at the sun disappearing behind the Kaikoura's through the strange orange bushfire haze. Holiday reading "The Uninhabitable Earth". Followed this up with "The Better Angels of our Nature - a history of violence and mankind" to keep things in perspective>>>>