Home' Greymouth Star : September 18th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, September 18, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1502 - Christopher Columbus lands in
what is now Costa Rica on his fourth and last
voyage to the New World.
1961 - Swedish UN Secretary-General Dag
Hammarskjold, 56, is killed in an air crash
while on a peace mission to Congo.
1967 - The United States
announces it will build anti-missile
network to counter any attack by
1970 - Jimi Hendrix, US rock
singer and guitarist, dies of a drug
overdose aged 27.
1971 - Egypt and Israel exchange rocket
fire across the Suez Canal for first time since
ceasefire 13 months earlier.
1988 - Myanmar’s military commander San
Maung overthrows Burma’s civilian President
Maung Maung in coup.
1997 - In Cairo, Muslim extremists open fire
on a tourist bus outside a museum, killing 10
people, mostly German tourists.
2001 - Letters postmarked in Trenton, New
Jersey, which test positive for anthrax, are
sent to the New York Post and the US NBC
broadcasting network anchor Tom Brokaw.
2014 - Huge anti-terrorism raids are
conducted in Sydney and Brisbane after
word of an Islamic State-inspired plot to
kidnap and behead a random member of the
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Samuel Johnson, English poet-critic
(1709-1784); Greta Garbo, Swedish-born
actress (1905-1990); Kwame
Nkrumah, Ghanaian statesman
(1909-1972); Frankie Avalon, US
singer (1940-); James Gandolfini, US
actor (1961-2013); Lance Armstrong,
US cyclist (1971-); Jada Pinkett
Smith, US actress (1971-); Louise
Sauvage, Australian Paralympian
(1973-); Don Hany, Australian actor (1975-);
Ronaldo, Brazilian football star (1976-) .
“All the world’s a stage and most of us are
— Sean O’Casey, Irish playwright.
“ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and
the life. Those who believe in Me, even though
they die, will live’.” — John 11:25
uFood for thought
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on Macdonald appears
surprisingly relaxed and
confident for a man whose
company may be only weeks
away from a closer encounter
with the competition-crushing
giant that is Amazon.com.
Macdonald has been chief
executive of Trade Me since
2008, after joining the company in 2003
to lead its technology team, and firmly
believes the on-line auction site is up for
Analysts are picking that Amazon could
launch in Australia within two months,
making it much faster for New Zealanders
to order and have items delivered from its
“It is easy to be defeatist about Amazon
or Facebook,” Macdonald says.
But Trade Me already has a track record
of seeing off big players.
“ We competed against eBay and won. We
have continued to beat out competition
who have far deeper pockets than us.”
Macdonald says Trade Me’s advantage
lies in being smaller and more nimble than
big “lumbering companies”.
He says the key is ensuring that it knows
its local customers more intimately than
And that is a part science, part art.
The scientific side is about using Trade
Me’s rich data to tailor its offering, to
make it more personalised and friction
“It’s about using data to improve the
ability of users to get the most out of it,”
The art side is about building personal
relationships between its account
management team and its business
customers, such as real estate agents and
It is also about nurturing its relationships
with the average consumer.
Macdonald points to a Colmar Brunton
sur vey which recently put Trade Me in the
top 10 most loved brands in New Zealand.
But he says that despite that strong base,
the company can not sit still and has to
continue building its offering.
Last week it launched Afterpay — an
instalment payment ser vice for buyers
which allows people to spread out their
payments over six weeks with no interest.
The ser vice is designed to
make it easier for people
to buy new items and is
expected to boost sales for
retailers using the site.
Last year it partnered
with courier ser vices to help
people get items delivered
more easily. Already, more
than 500,000 parcels have
gone through this system.
“Things like this make
buying and selling easier,”
And Trade Me plans to
continue to broaden its
On the development front
is new technology which
aims to speed up the process
of selling an item.
In the past, people would
take a photo on their camera,
upload it to their computer
and then fill out all the
information about selling the
Now the company is
looking at a system that
would allow a seller to
take a photo with their
smartphone, and Trade Me
will automatically recognise
what it is and place it in the
“All of a sudden you are three steps along
the process,” says Macdonald.
“As we build out the range, we have got
to make sure we remind New Zealanders
of the usefulness that we can provide for
Macdonald also points out that only 12%
of Trade Me’s revenue comes from sales of
And when it comes to competing with
the likes of Amazon, he says a lot of items
are not well suited to shipping overseas.
Trade Me’s fastest growing categories
currently are building and renovation, and
home and living. “A good proportion is
better suited to local than international.
“ We do have something that is real and
unique to offer.”
Macdonald says the current environment
is just the latest challenge the company
has faced in his time there.
“It feels to me that we have been through
a few chapters of growth and each one has
its own challenges. ”
Macdonald joined the company after
a catch-up meeting with founder Sam
Morgan on returning from his OE. The
pair had previously worked together in
Wellington, in the technology team for
accounting firm Deloitte.
“ First we were privately owned and a
small start-up — it was the best of times
and the worst of times.
“ We had a lot of freedom. We could
see the job we had to do and the growth
before us. ” But he says Trade Me also had
a really inexperienced management team
and that led to growing pains.
The company then spent five years under
the ownership of Australian media firm
Fairfax, which bought Trade Me in 2006.
“That was our coming of age, where we
became a lot more mainstream.” He says
that also involved thinking about how to
be a good corporate citizen.
Then, in 2011, Trade Me listed on the
New Zealand stock exchange. “ It was
another challenge to come out from under
the wing of Fairfax.”
Macdonald took over as chief executive
from Morgan in 2008, after he decided to
begin his exit from the company.
Macdonald was a general manager at the
time Morgan approached him in the lift,
with the offer of the top job.
“ In practical terms, he ambushed me in
the lift one day.”
Macdonald says he was genuinely
surprised by the offer. “I said yes and
as I wrapped my head around it, got
increasingly enthused about it.
It was a bit of right place, right time.”
Even though Trade Me has been around
for 18 years now, Macdonald says it is still
just getting started.
On-line retail is growing fast, but there is
plenty of room for more growth yet, given
that on-line sales make up just 8% of all
sales in New Zealand.
Macdonald points to the United
Kingdom, where on-line sales are roughly
double that, at 16%.
He believes Amazon will be a boon to
the New Zealand on-line market. “ We see
Amazon as helping to accelerate that.”
Despite nearly 10 years at the helm,
Macdonald says he has no plans to move
on. “ I’m still having too much fun.
“ Trade Me has changed fundamentally
several times so it doesn’t feel like the
same job. There is more to do than
These days he is not allowed to get
hands-on with the technology, but says he
still keeps abreast of tech through his six-
year-old daughter and eight-year-old son,
who are just starting to get into coding.
“One of the things I love is how
technology is becoming so accessible and
consumable so an eight-year-old can be
learning to code and building games.
“That is kind of mind-blowing.”
That has encouraged him to get back
into computers to stay half a pace ahead of
Now he just has to ensure Trade Me
stays half a pace ahead of its rivals.
— New Zealand Herald
Ready for Amazon
Big enough to threaten ships and coastal
roads, what scientists call “extreme waves”
will likely become more common in the
waters off New Zealand as the effects of
climate change further set in.
In a new study, researchers at the
University of Waikato and Niwa have
trawled through nearly 50 years of records
to gain a better picture of these ocean
Because they are very rare — and some
occur only every 10 to 20 years — extreme
waves are difficult for scientists to predict,
and long datasets generally have not been
available to them to analyse.
But with Niwa having just completed a
45-year wave hindcast, Waikato University
PhD student Victor Godoi and his fellow
researchers saw a perfect opportunity
to look at how the waves had appeared
around our coasts.
“There have also been some recent
high impact papers that show that
climate change will cause an increase to
storminess,” Godoi said.
“This could have a big effect on the
coastline, but to detect these changes,
earlier we need to have a good baseline
understanding of what the past state was
The biggest reason to learn more about
them was the threat they posed to us:
through surfing, sailing or fishing, or
catching a ferry across the Cook Strait,
many of us encountered waves each day.
Harbours, oil platforms and sea-side
roads meant we had to be monitoring sea
state every minute, and the larger wave,
the bigger the threat.
“The energy in a wave scales with the
square of wave height, so a 5m wave is a
lot more than five times as energetic than
a 1m wave,” Godoi said.
The team drew on several large models,
including buoy data from a few locations
around New Zealand, to hunt out trends
and patterns in the data.
They found the largest extreme waves
were generally found in southern New
Zealand, while the smallest ones occurred
in areas sheltered from south-westerly
swells, such as the Hauraki Gulf and parts
of the Cook Strait.
Although the number of extreme events
anywhere varied throughout the year, their
intensity was more consistent, Godoi said.
El Nino and La Nina climate patterns
also had some influence: those stronger
north-easterly winds that buffetted the
north and north-east of New Zealand
during La Nina could bring extreme
waves, which likely explained why beaches
eroded on northern beaches in La Nina
As for climate change, the study drew
a link to an increase in of extreme wave
events on our south and east coasts
finding in line
with an obser ved
in the Southern
are an early sign
of the effects of
or simply due to
natural climatic cycles — we just happen
to be in a period where the waves are
higher,” Godoi said.
“The Earth system is somewhat chaotic
due to the large number of variables
contributing to the development of
weather and climate.”
While this meant it was almost
impossible for scientists to be 100%
in making highly-accurate, long-term
forecasts, there was already much research
indicating an intensification of winds,
bringing larger waves, and sea level rise.
“Our study is consistent with this
trend.” — New Zealand Herald
Revealing the nature of NZ’s ‘extreme waves’
It was a Greymouth
Jaycee go-kart meeting
that ruined the very
road surface they
now wanted repaired, alleged Cr O H Jackson,
in an inter view with the Evening Star today.
Cr Jackson was clarifying his remark made
at a recent council meeting that the Jaycees
had “a damn cheek” asking for the roads to be
The roads concerned are in the vicinity of
Victoria Park and are closed for go-kart racing
once a year. The sealing work there had been
finished about two months when the go-kart
meeting for that year was held on a hot day.
As a patron of the event, Mr Jackson said, he
witnessed the scarified and roughened surface
on the bends of the course by the actions of the
The McLean Shield remains on Hokitika —
but only just. With a try three minutes before
time, Excelsior defeated Blaketown 14-11 on
Saturday. The Hokitika team downed key rival
Blaketown on a sea of mud at Cass Square
No 2 in a match which had everything from
clean bright rugby to scrappy play that resulted
in two players being sent off the field.
With 25 minutes gone in the second
spell C Howe (Blaketown) dragged West
Coast representative loose forward G Monk
(Excelsior) off a team-mate in a sideline
flare-up, and both finished up over the sideline
“It ’s here to stay,” Marist signalled yesterday
after fending off Hornby to retain the Thacker
Shield for the third consecutive year. In a bright
and open rugby league match at Wingham
Park, Marist beat the shield challengers —
Canterbury’s top club side — 24-13 .
If Labour win the election, Radio NZ
will become a fully-fledged tv station with
a prime-time news bulletin, probably at
Labour has looked around the world and
decided that the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation (ABC) is the best model
for its plans to dramatically boost public
broadcasting in New Zealand.
RNZ will get an injection of funding,
probably between an additional
$20-$30 million to become a true
The announcement was made in the
cavernous Studio 5 at the Auckland film
studios in Henderson last week.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern committed
$38m, in total, to public media initiatives.
RNZ will get the bulk of it, but
other media, particularly new start-ups
and media outlets doing investigative
journalism will be able to get additional
funding through NZ on Air.
The actual amounts going to RNZ and
NZ on Air will be decided by a public
media funding commission which will
have cross-party membership.
Ardern stressed the importance of media
independence, “so we (politicians) are all
held to account ”.
Labour’s plan to turn RNZ into a mini
ABC is probably the most cost-effective
solution to the issues facing public
Ardern obser ved that RNZ has been
underfunded by a National Government
for the last nine years; but reinstating
the defunct TVNZ 7 could have been an
After all, TVNZ has the infrastructure
and expertise sitting there — why not use
The reason is simple. Labour believes
any trace of a public broadcasting culture
disappeared from TVNZ long ago. It
feels it simply could not trust TVNZ’s
management to turn the “commercial
broadcaster” into one that provides a
public ser vice.
Clare Curran, Labour’s spokeswoman on
broadcasting and chief architect of its new
policy told me after the official launch that
bringing back a charter for TVNZ would
“They are just not interested in a public
ser vice, they are fully commercial — we
might have been able to change them
three years ago, but not now. We would
waste years battling with them and we do
not have time for that. We want this to
happen now and we can do it a lot faster
by building up RNZ.”
Given TVNZ does not figure in
any of its public media plans, the case
for retaining State ownership of the
broadcaster becomes weak or non-existent.
Curran said Labour had given a lot of
thought to selling TVNZ but, in the end,
ruled it out.
“O ur policy is not to sell assets, so we
will just let it continue and have it pay the
Government a dividend.”
There is, of course a flaw in this policy;
if current trends continue, TVNZ will
be unprofitable in a few years and need a
handout from the State. What will Labour
or for that matter National, do then?
Politics is getting in the way of
pragmatism when it comes to selling
Labour’s new policy has received a
cautious thumbs-up from the Coalition for
Chairman Peter Thompson said: “It is a
positive step forward from where we are
now in terms of public service broadcasting
and RNZ is probably the right vehicle as
opposed to NZ First ’s plan to turn TV One
into a non-commercial channel, that could
cost up to $150m.”
RNZ management will also be slightly
nervous when they examine the details of
Thirty million is not a lot of money when
you are expected to turn what is primarily a
radio platform into a fully-fledged free-to-
air tv network.
Curran has high expectations. “ We
will be making it clear that we want an
emphasis on news and current affairs,
more Pasifika programming and much
more children’s programming, and we
want it broadcast in a traditional linear
There is no doubt that Labour’s plan will
change the television landscape. The clear
winner is RNZ, and the losers could well
be TVNZ and Three.
Mark Jennings is co-editor of
Newsroom. He writes about the media
industry, business, and tertiary education.
PICTURE: Getty Images
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern announces Labour’s media and film policy at Auckland Film Studios in Henderson.
RNZ cash comes with expectations
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