Open mike 18/01/2021

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 18th, 2021 - 93 comments
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93 comments on “Open mike 18/01/2021 ”

  1. James Thrace 1

    I see the drum beat on comments sections, Facebook and Twitter seems to be increasing about shutting the border entirely.

    I posted this on OM late last night but thought it could be a good discussion point.

    While there are certainly problems in restricting citizens rights to return back to their country of citizenship, NZ could stop entry to NZ by permanent resident visa holders – say those that were not in NZ for longer than 6 months prior to February 2020. PRVs have citizenship of another country so will not be stateless. I understand that around 40,000 people who have come through MiQ are just PRVs – not citizens.

    Then again, Samoa shut it's borders to it's citizens for a lengthy period. One could argue that there is a justifiable limitation (protecting the health of the remaining population) on restricting the ability of citizens to come back.

    One way of doing it would be to shut the borders to all unless they have a real and genuine desire to permanently relocate to NZ. That would get rid of the rich who just want to fly in for a few months before leaving again. There could be exemptions granted for those who need to come in on a temporary basis i.e. funerals/dying relatives but with the increased risk of infection I can't see people being allowed to leave MIQ early to go to funerals etc… As it stands, I'm happy with film and tv coming to NZ as that does have a beneficial effect for our screen industry – but no more blimming tax breaks!

    I'm very annoyed at the likes of the pizza owner published in Stuff who's come back to NZ "for a break from USA" and criticising our Covid response without actually recognising he's putting our Covid response at risk. Those people would be capture by the "no entry unless you're permanently settling"

    I would define permanent as being in NZ for longer than 12 months. And make them pay for their MIQ before they leave NZ.

    • weka 1.1

      "say those that were not in NZ for longer than 6 months prior to February 2020."

      how many people does that apply to? (or did apply to in the past 12 months).

      Closing the borders to NZers but not movie makers is a long way outside what would be culturally acceptable here.

      • James Thrace 1.1.1

        Would probably need to do an OIA to MBIE to find out the information about PRVs. In any event, if they've been out of NZ for longer than 6 months, even 12, it's clear they haven't got a life here. They're a citizen of another country so we'd be perfectly at right to place a temporary ban on their entry to NZ being a justifiable limitation of the suspension of their entry allowance under the immigration act. The NZ Bill of Rights only allows free movement to citizens. Permanent residents are not citizens.

        As for film/tv makers – they're directly employing many people in the screen industry in NZ. I'd rather that happen than the govt providing endless subsidies like they are to tourism operators who need to, in the true capitalist sense, adapt or die. Tv and film makers keep NZ workers employed. People like Pizza Guy coming in for 92 days to get shits and giggles for "a break from the USA" do not help to keep people employed in the same manner. Unless you're coming to NZ on a relocation basis or to directly provide jobs i.e. film/tv (and such groups must pay for their MIQ stay) , I think we should close our borders to everyone else particularly those coming for shits and giggles.

        • roblogic

          We need a royal commission into our broken immigration system, a huge number of visas are fraudulent, but I suppose that big biz enjoys wage suppression and exploitation. The govt should have clamped down on this shit years ago.

          • James Thrace

            I do not think it's at all coincidence that the "pathway to residency" that National put in place for students coming to NZ to study low value degrees from 1999 subsequently saw a massive increase in house prices from 2002. That policy setting then allowed students to bring their parents over and the rest of their family. Likely that 2002 saw the boom in house prices because overseas students realised Labour wasn't going to change the policy settings so started buying up houses for their extended family.

            NZ shouldn't be providing pathways to residency for students imo. It should only be for the high skills we actually need – doctors, dentists, nurses, etc. We certainly do not need any more exploited immigrants in alcohol stores. Those jobs can easily be done by people already in New Zealand.

      • Incognito 1.1.2

        I’ve made an attempt at collating data from various sources; there are others with further breakdowns of Visa approvals, et cetera. I’ve not bothered with MIQ stats, but I assume most arrivals will now go through MIQ anyway. Somebody else can dig these out, if they want, and try match these to the data below 😉

        At least, it gives you a rough idea of what’s been happening.

        [lprent: click for a larger image]

        Edit: Arrivals for the selected visa types, excluding those who are not issued a visa at the border (mostly New Zealand nationals) and those who are refused entry.

    • Janet 1.2

      I thought when they were saying NZers could come home they were actually meaning NZ born people , not people holding two passports , one of them a NZ.passport.

      I would now really like to know who has been and who is coming into this country through quarantine.

      • James Thrace 1.2.1

        There have been 500,000 permanent resident visas issued since 2015. Who knows how many more before then. I am unable to find that data, just as I am unable to find data that specifies how many of those PRV holders actually reside in New Zealand.

        NZ is the only country that does not require a PRV to be renewed every 2 – 3 years, with evidence to be supplied that you are living in NZ to be eligible for renewal. It is my suspicion that many PRVs get the visa, then bugger off back to their own home country and come to NZ for free healthcare, and/or come back at 59 years old for the minimum 5 years living in NZ to be eligible for National Superannuation.

        As I said earlier, there have been tens of thousands of PRVs through MIQ since April 2020. I don’t know how many of them actually live in NZ or are coming here because their country of citizenship is a shit show with the virus running rampant wherever they might have come from.

        It should be citizens only, and those PRVs who actually live here and have evidence they lived here within the 6 month period preceding March 2020.

        • Poission

          Looks around 60/40 nz passports to other.

          Use the portal at stats.

        • Craig H

          The MBIE Migration Data Explorer has the information ( ) back to 2010, albeit needs a bit of knowledge to use it. Specifically, arrival and departure data from Customs states Resident Visa for all residence class visas other than Australians (who are captured and listed separately), but for INZ application data, Permanent Resident Visa (PRV) applications are reported separately from other residence class visas as Returning Residence Visa in the application categories (this relates to the visa framework in the Immigration Act). This category also includes Variation of Travel Conditions applications, so requires some drilling to get PRV numbers.

          According to that, there were 132,237 resident visa holders and 261,867 Australians who arrived in the 2020 calendar year, down from 491,451 and 1,131,450 respectively in 2019. Most of them arrived by 31 March 2020, as the average after that was less than 2,000 residents per month and 500 Australians. In total, from 1 April 2020 – 31 December 2020, 13,974 residents and 3,939 Australians arrived, for a total of 17,913 people with residence class visas through one process or another. It was already known through arrival cards that most Australians were visitors, but this really cements that understanding. It's technically "tens of thousands", albeit slightly less than 1.8 tens of thousands.

          A total of 493,527 resident visas were approved in the 10 years from 1 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2020, of whom 397,926 were onshore i.e. in NZ, so most of them were already here via temporary visas.

          Separately from that, 403,698 PRVs were approved in the same time period, of whom 389,679 were onshore i.e. in NZ and 12,192 were not.

          To clarify something, the Immigration Act sets out a few things for residence:

          • There are three classes of visa, residence class, temporary entry class and transit visas.
          • Residence class visas includes resident visas and permanent resident visas, with PRVs usually following resident visas. Prior to the current Act, PR was a nickname for standard residence because returning resident visa (RRV) was what people with residence got next, so this terminology can easily confuse people. The most common criteria for obtaining PRV is holding a resident visa for 2 years and some level of presence in NZ during that 2 years, although there are some other options/requirements depending on category residence was originally obtained under. The main difference between them is that a resident visa can expire while the holders are outside NZ (but never in NZ), while PRVs never expire regardless of presence (or not) in NZ.
          • The holder of a PRV and the holder of a resident visa granted in New Zealand and the holder of a resident visa arriving in New Zealand for a second or subsequent time as the holder of the visa can't be refused entry, so any changes to this would require legislation.

          In terms of data for current residence class visa holders in NZ, nobody really knows because large numbers of them predate current computerised records which date back to the late 80s, and even the current system itself, as residence used to be granted on arrival, so a lot of older residents just have a stamp in a passport from when they arrived which could be 50+ years ago, and no other interaction with INZ to have them appear in the INZ computer system.

      • McFlock 1.2.2

        If you have a NZ passport, that's it. Restricting it to "NZ born" opens a whole other can of worms.

        But, with the exception of one or two billionaires that have been reported in the news, getting a NZ passport seems to require a decent level of residence in NZ.

        • Janet

          No it doesn,t . I know a couple of teenagers who came to NZ around 2005 to study at our tertiary institutions , ended up with jobs then residency in NZ which "qualified" the parents to become resident in NZ. However they decided to stay in their own country for many years. They moved to NZ early this year !

          • Incognito

            Only NZ citizens are entitled to hold a NZ passport, NZ residents carry a different passport with their Visa/Permit in it.

          • McFlock

            Fair call – was confusing citizenship with passport.

            Not sure on what basis parents get residency or permanent residency, or hold it. But if they hold it, fair enough: they should still be allowed in. If we got lax about who we issue our diplomatic protection to, that's our fault.

  2. Morrissey 2

    As usual, the brilliant Katie Halper nails it…

  3. Ad 3

    Bernie Sanders as Chair of Senate Budget Committee is sure going to tie a few Republican Senator knickers in a knot. In particular Sr Linsey Graham who would have got the job were it not for the Democrats gaining the Georgia two.

    Sanders will have a fun time.

    • alwyn 3.1

      The Senate Budget Committee is not an important one. The real powerhouses in the area are the Appropriations Committee and the Finance Committee. Sanders won't have much influence if the becomes the Budget Chairman.

      The Senate Committees are split into classes A, B and C.

      The A ones have the real power and among them Appropriations, Armed Service, Foreign Affairs and Finance are the most important. See the comment at the bottom of page 4 in the link which notes.

      "One such rule generally prohibits any Republican from serving on more than one of the “Super A,” or “big four” category “A,” committees: Appropriations, Armed Services, Finance, and Foreign Relations".

      The Democrats have a similar rule.

      Budget is a class B, along with committees like Veterans Affairs. They aren't really that important.

      • Andre 3.1.1

        None of that is incompatible with Repug knickers getting twisted into knots over Sanders becoming Chair, particularly Graham's knickers.

        Nor is it incompatible with Sanders having fun in the position.

        • alwyn

          Why should Graham be particularly concerned, and why does Ad think he would have become Chairman?

          He was only the fourth ranked Republican in the 116th Congress and as far as I know Grassley and Crapo, who were ranked above him, are still there.

          Also just what "fun" do you think Sanders can have. The Budget Committee really doesn't have that much influence as far as I can see.

            • alwyn

              I guess that I can only refer you to the reply by Mandy Rice-Davies to the lawyer questioning her in the Ward trial. The question, and the supposed answer about her claimed affair with Lord Astor have been quoted ever since as.

              "Do you know Lord Astor has made a statement to the police saying that these allegations of yours are absolutely untrue? – He would, wouldn't he?"

              I say supposed because the question of what exactly she said has been debated for almost 60 years.

              Lindsey Graham and the Republicans were trying keep control of the Senate. Sander was, gasp, horror, a Socialist. Would Graham try and frighten the voters? "He would, wouldn't he"

              It doesn't make the Committee any more important though does it? And I really doubt that Graham would have bothered to take the chairmanship. He was already on Appropriations and Foreign Relations and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Sure he was (is?) on Budget but I'll bet he doesn't see that as the highlight of his career.

              • Incognito


              • alwyn

                By the way, I omitted one little item I had meant to talk about.

                The rules of the Senate only allow a Senator to Chair one Committee.

                Do you really think he would have given up the Chairmanship of Judiciary, which is responsible for the appointment of all Federal Judges up to and including the Supreme Court so that he could be the Chair of the grade B Budget Committee?

                You will of course have noted that he is on 3 of the class A Committees although the rules only allow 2. That was to allow the party who control the Senate to have a majority on any Committee. He will have to give up one of the 3 class A's he is on now that the Democrats control the Senate.

                However, it doesn't really affect my opinion. He would never have given up the Chair of Judiciary to run Budget. Could you imagine Grant giving up Minister of Finance so he could take over Food Safety?

                Edit. I see I was just expanding on the topic when you put your query in. Does it explain why I don’t think he really meant hat he was saying?

                • Incognito

                  I’m suitably impressed how you can turn a simple answer to one of the questions you posed @ into a strip show of intellectual prowess and pride. Even by your standards, that was quite an achievement, I have to admit. Obviously, I cannot mind-read Senator Lindsey Graham when he tweeted that almost a month before the US Elections because my Tardis is at the panel beaters. But thank you so much; your explanation was more than illuminating. In fact, it was quite telling.

                  • alwyn

                    Well, I admit I did assume that when you commented on the proposed actions of a US Senator you actually understood why the rules of the Senate made what he said a most unlikely event.

                    Next time I won't make any assumptions at all about your knowledge about the topic under discussion. I will keep it down to the absolutely basic principles and keep in mind that you may not know anything about the matter at hand.

                    Would that help?

      • sumsuch 3.1.2

        Strange anti-democratic people.

        • alwyn

          I'm not sure whether the Select Committee system we have in our own Parliament is that different.

  4. joe90 4

    Years of incendiary words and here they are.

    I’ve seen this film before — and I didn’t like the ending.

    Violence roiling a society. Soldiers on the streets. Lawmakers in fear that their colleagues will conspire to harm them.

    The insurrectionary violence of Jan. 6 ripped away an assurance that many Americans felt — that such strife occurs in other places, not here.

    Those of us who come from some other places feel a painful thud of familiarity and a growing dread of what may be to come.

    I was born in Belfast in 1974.


    In some ways, the contours of The Troubles are very different from the current American moment. Rival national identities and naked religious sectarianism loomed large.

    But there are huge and ominous similarities.

    The biggest is a grim equation that holds true everywhere — incendiary words lead to incendiary deeds.

    During my youth, the most dangerous demagogue was the late Rev. Ian Paisley.

    Paisley was a fundamentalist Protestant preacher and an ambitious politician.

    His appeal was built on three often-repeated claims: the majority Protestant population of Northern Ireland was being undercut by a subversive minority; the “plain people” were being sold out by a traitorous establishment elite; and he alone could save them.

  5. Phillip ure 5

    one for those who sneered at my idea of pissing off rio tinto..

    and retaining a working tiwai point…for the benefit of new zealanders…

    it is a viable idea..

    • lprent 5.1

      Firstly, he would say that. It costs him nothing.

      Secondly, any profitability entirely depends on the price of aluminium – which has been going up and down like a yo-yo for decades – but on a general downward trend.

      Thirdly, that just means that Rio Tinto is making a profit on the deal – not that New Zealand, or the power companies are. That is why what the Meridian boss actually said was

      But Barclay said the new price at which Meridian had agreed to supply the smelter was “not sustainable” and indicated he was optimistic Meridian could find higher-paying customers for its power in the interim.

      The smelter had no automatic right to buy electricity from Meridian beyond 2024, he made clear.

      Essentially because the TransPower lines aren’t in place to move power northward, they’re giving a good price so they don’t spill water.

      Fourthly, the smelter is still in negotiation with the government on their contributions to the overall power network (ie Transpower) and it is entirely possible that if those break down, as there is good possibility that they will because it appears that they are asking for a free lunch, then Rio Tinto will just start doing this crap again.

      Basically the smelter is a dying profitless business for NZ that permanently has its hand out for welfare.

      • Phillip ure 5.1.1

        firstly…unsure about your opening ad hom.

        secondly..they have shaved $100 million off their energy costs…

        energy costs that if owned by us essentially would/could not exist..

        (making it an even more 'very profitable''d think..?.) argument note the deal makes it more profitable for rio tinto…which would be for nz..if we owned it..which just strengthens my case for this option to be considered…not thought of as all the players..

        ..which I think is selling nz short…

        fourthly…of course rio tinto will continue with this hustle…it works so well for them ..

        I am suggesting the gummint show some interest in a voluntary nationalisation of tiwai by rio tinto ….

        and a willingness for rio tinto to just piss call them on their bluff bluff..

        if nothing could stop rio tinto running that 'threaten to leave' hustle…

        nothing you said has changed my opinion on this..

        • Sacha

          There are more efficient smelters now in nations closer to the end-customers. Why would NZ want to buy this old one? We do not even have the main ingredient here.

          • RedLogix

            There are more efficient smelters now in nations closer to the end-customers.

            It's my understanding that the cost of electricity still outweighs these factors considerably. A newer smelter would have to be a lot more efficient to make much difference, and shipping is cheap.

            The big differentiator in terms of end product is the high purity technical grades produced at Bluff, which is probably expensive to replicate elsewhere.

            Still I'd agree that Bluff is probably not a good investment for the NZ govt to buy. It would lack connection and expertise in the industry, and more importantly the carbon free advantage of cheap Manapouri electricity is about to disappear in the next decade.

            Wait until Rio wake up and decide that vertically integrating into SMR's or renewables makes sense for them.

            • Phillip ure

              @ r.l..

              I am not suggesting g.robertson start running it..

              as I noted in first floating of this idea..

              the requisite skills can be hired to do the job..

              so hardly a reason not to consider the concept..?

              • RedLogix

                I'm sure the experience can be hired to run the smelter; but an entity like Rio has enormous industry connections, market knowledge and influence that the NZ govt could never achieve.

                Having worked around big heavy industry most of my life I'm aware of, but by no means well informed, of what it takes to make multi-billion dollar investments work. And even then they run into big trouble from time to time.

                I'm not saying it couldn't be done (Norway's Statoil is a good example), but this has to be one of the reasons why nationalised industries typically don't have a stellar record; the people and competency factor falls short.

                • Phillip ure

                  I understand what you say about the economic risks of investing in such plant..

                  but surely that is the beauty of this scenario..

                  no need for that large investment…

                  that is already done…

                  and the energy source is free..

                  I am puzzled others cannot see what a win win that is for us…

                  we can just reap the profits…

                  ..and save all those southland jobs at the same time ..

                  what's not to love..?

                  • Phillip ure

                    there is another state run option I like..

                    in alaska oil permits etc were predicated on the profits going back to the people..

                    and each citizen gets a dividend cheque each year…

                    (from memory it is about six grand a year..for each/every citizen..)

           could we do something like that here..?

                    a state-sanctoned/supported solar energy industry..?

                    with profits to go directly back to the people..?

                    • solkta

                      Ummm, i don't think we would be able to export electricity.

                    • Andre

                      Now, just as an exercise, how about going and finding out what the actual facts are about what Alaska pays to its citizens.

                      Then have a good think about how well the facts match to what you've asserted here. (hint: sorta kinda matches is being generous)

                      Now have a ponder about why you get … robust responses … from those of us that are somewhat more fact and evidence oriented.

                      Then maybe you should go and actually check the accuracy of some of the other things you have asserted as fact today and been challenged on, and you haven't yet backed up.

                    • Phillip ure []

                      wot..? in the number of votes billy tks' party got..?

                      are you effing serious..?

                      that is year ww2 ended territory..

                      and I am getting the shits about being constantly accused of being a liar/making shit up .

                      I have a fucken master's degree . ..I did news/stuff on bfm for a few yrs..I ran a news website for about 15 years..

                      all of it dealing in proveable facts..

                      so fuck off with yr accusations of making things up in this forum..

                      that's the only way you can attack what I argue for.

                      and several weeks ago a moderator in this forum accused me of being known for making up shit in this forum..

                      I would like one..just one..example of this ..and failing that…a fucken apology..

                      is that unreasonable . !

                      and I am talking about the concept of large state owned enterprises paying a direct dividend to the citizens…

                      try evaluating that..

                      [Stop playing a victim and lift up your socks, FFS!

                      Let’s start with one of you more recent ad homs and accusations: lurgee obliged with a response and replied to you directly only yesterday. You: crickets. You’re nothing but a lazy troll 🙁

                      Then there was that instance when you were moderated by weka about your alleged cover-ups by Dr Bloomfield: Your response was less than satisfactory IMO, but weka let you off the hook and or hasn’t yet seen it. Just as well, because I’d have banned just for that inadequate response to a moderation request!

                      Today, between all the gibberish that you’ve been spouting and noise that you’ve been generating here partly because of your astonishingly poor reading comprehension, you asserted that they [??] got 19,000 votes at the last election. After a few root-canal trips I managed to extract out of you that you were referring to the party led by Billy TK. But still no link 🙁

                      You stated:

                      it is in my head from the widely published election results..

                      the billy t.k./trumpist party got about 19,000 votes..

                      I’m sure it is ‘in your head’ and that you believe the number to be reasonably close. However, that doesn’t make it true and accurate. Here’s a link, one that I’ve asked you to provide numerous times: Now, go and update the figure ‘in your head’.

                      Lastly, for now, Andre challenged you to fact-check your “alaskan example”: Of course, in your typical idiosyncratic style of poor wee hard-done-by victim, you flipped your lid and shared a whole lot of orifice plucks with us. Belatedly, you provided a “correction”, but still no link 🙁

                      You claim that a moderator [??] owes you an apology. You claim that you’re treated unreasonably. You claim that we should be satisfied with the orifice plucks inside your head and your ‘common sense’. You claim that links are not needed because it’s all “year ww2 ended territory”.

                      I disagree.

                      This is your last final last warning to stop with this nonsense and lift your game here or bugger off for a while. Don’t reply with another tear-jerker rant; just lift your game – Incognito]

                    • Incognito []

                      See my Moderation note @ 8:10 PM.

                    • Phillip ure

                      here's a thought: we could renationalise what j.key sold off…and reconfigure that industry to return those renationalised profits..

                      in a citizens' dividend..

                      a la the alaskan example..

                    • Andre

                      @solkta: well, aluminium is often called "solid electricity", so yes it is exported in that form. It just doesn't make sense to export electricity at a wildly discounted price when we've got much better uses for it here.

                    • Phillip ure

                      correction: dividend maximum is just over two grand..

                      lowest ever payout was $331 in 1984..

                    • Andre

                      Oh good, you are actually capable of checking facts. What did it say about the intent of the fund and how much of the oil permit revenue went into it?

                      Now, try making a habit of fact-checking before posting. Then you might not come across as quite so much of a substance-addled wastrel rambling out half-remembered factoids that might or might not be relevant to the thread or comment you're replying to.

                    • solkta


                      I have a fucken master's degree

                      I don't believe you. I can't see how you could complete even a graduate degree without paragraphs and sentences.

                    • Incognito []

                      I’m sure Phil’s degree is real and that his thesis was nothing like his comments here. I don’t care whether he’s the Queen of Sheba; what I care about is how people comment here and conduct themselves on TS. Even ex-Ministers with PhD degrees are given a hard time here when they deserve it and a ban when they overstep the line.

            • Andre

              It won't be particularly difficult to produce the high purity elsewhere. There's nothing special about the equipment or electricity supply at Tiwai, it's simply what they choose to do in the process, particularly the anodes, that results in the high purity. Which is likely why the high purity gets very little premium pricing.

              There certainly are efforts underway in making smelting more amenable to variable energy supply from renewables. One such effort is Energia Potior (at least partly a spin-off from Auckland University), which is a cooling/insulating system for the pots which allows them to vary production by +/-30% from nominal (compared to +/-5% from nominal for conventional pots)


          • Phillip ure


            if owned by us…I guess we would do what rio tinto do..

            buy bauxite..

            and it does make money…

            it is a revenue-generating asset..

            that could be a reason why we should own it .

            • The Al1en

              Great environmental logic – Import tropical strip mined bauxite, use huge amounts of energy to make aluminium, then export it back off shore. Carbon footprint much?

              Using that logic, you've made a similar case for meat and dairy exports (and they don’t even have to import cows or sheep), in that if it makes money, and farms being a revenue generating asset, it's okay.

              • McFlock

                I'd want to see the relative footprint if the bauxite were processed by a coal or gas electric plant before making that argument.

                I mean now if we were building a smelter from scratch, sure have it somewhere between the mine and the aluminium users, and maybe use solar or whatever other renewables were between the two points.

                But fifty years ago hydro from West coast rainfall was probably the greenest option out.

                • Andre

                  Thing is, Tiwai is sucking the clean juice that could be going to shutting down Huntly. As well as inhibiting the build-out of more new renewables. Who is going to invest in new generation when there's the threat of a sudden massive oversupply at any moment from shutting Tiwai?

                  So as far as I'm concerned, it's entirely fair to consider our emissions from Huntly to be because of Tiwai. So shutting Tiwai which allows shutting Huntly, and that smelting getting replaced by coal fired electricity elsewhere would just be a wash in terms of global emissions.

                  And that’s the worst case, the aluminium industry is quite conscious of their emissions and prefer to be able to trumpet clean sourcing. Hence their interest in Canada and Iceland for smelting.

                • The Al1en

                  I don't think there's any nearby coal or gas power stations to the smelter, so you'd have to factor freight into that carbon equation.

                  • McFlock

                    There wasn't a hydro plant close until they built Manapouri.

                    That's my point – if they were building a new smelter now, fair call on the emissions issue. But keeping this one running might be a better-footprint call than building a new and more efficient one somewhere else,

                    • The Al1en

                      I agree with you re: keeping this smelter might have an overall better footprint than building new closer to another energy source. I missed the point.

                      But either option would still involve importing mined materials, using large amounts of energy, and exporting it to turn a dollar. I think, as a wannabe green nation, that's not in our best interest.
                      If it were renewable energy, and we still didn’t burn coal or gas, then it may become more attractive.

                    • lprent

                      Sunk cost in CO2. No point in trying to re litigate the past issues in this case. It was an issue when I was in my teens.

            • Sacha

              If our government is going to invest in anything in that part of the country, I'd rather it was submarine cable infrastructure to connect data centres and associated high-value businesses using Manapouri electricity to the world. Looks like even those cables are being built by the private sector already..

        • Stuart Munro

          It's not just aluminium price that controls profitability of course – Tiwai, having no red mud cycle, is a price taker in the alumina market. As an internal customer of a very large mining conglomerate, they pay whatever minimizes their tax liability or otherwise improves the company's overall position. This is why NZ can't just nationalise it – the price of alumina would 'magically' increase.

      • RedLogix 5.1.2

        Or you could say that Rio have been smart enough to play their position as a monopoly buyer just as long as successive NZ govts failed to build sufficient transmission capacity to the rest of the market.

        Manapouri is after all in a pretty remote spot, far from the bulk of the demand in the NI. And until very recently the economic case for building new transmission lines, vs the cost of losing Southland's most valuable employer was probably pretty marginal.

        If the ground really has shifted, then it's up to the govt to make it's case, make the investment and then take their new negotiating position to Rio and see what happens.

        • Andre

          The grid upgrade to get Manapouri power to the southern end of the HVDC link is already underway and should be complete sometime in 2023. So by December 2024, Meridian won't be in a position of spilling a lot of water if Tiwai shuts down. That will make a huge difference to Meridian's economic case.

          There will still be somewhat of a weak link from the northern end of the HVDC link at Haywards to Whakamaru. That part of the grid tops out at 220kV. For full flexibility to distribute South Island power and properly shut down Huntly, either the HVDC link needs to be extended to Whakamaru, or the grid from Haywards to Whakamaru needs to be upgraded to 400kV like the recent Whakamaru to Auckland upgrade.

          • RedLogix

            Ta. I had a sense that would be the case, thanks for confirming.

          • Sacha

            Will that extension reach Chch before then?

            • Andre

              I wasn't aware there were any particular weaknesses in the grid supply to Christchurch that needed upgrading.

              • Sacha

                So extra power could be taken that far already. Good.

                • Andre

                  Well, I dunno if the grid would be up to supplying another few hundred MW 24/7 to Christchurch if you've got in mind setting up a mega-data-centre there.

                  But the bottleneck at the moment is the lower South Island. Getting Manapouri power to Christchurch is as constrained as it is getting it to the North Island. Until the upgrade is complete in 2023.

                  The HVDC doesn't have a connection for Christchurch. Dunno what the reasons for that actually are, but I can think of several good reasons that might contribute to that.

  6. Maurice 6

    Still a lot of thermal being produced in the North Island

    Current Generation (MW)

    Power Generation(as at) 18 Jan 2021 17:46

    North Island

    Wind 418.68 MW

    Hydro 781.487 MW

    Geothermal 919.204 MW

    Gas/Coal 368.466 MW

    Gas 509.959 MW

    Diesel/Oil 0 MW

    Co-Gen 146.054 MW

    South Island

    Wind 40.57 MW

    Hydro 1835.181 MW

    • Andre 6.1

      That Gas/Coal is the two older units at Huntly that can run burn either gas or coal. They are the most important ones to be shut down, since their thermal efficiency is so low, less than 40%.

      The Gas generation is mostly the combined cycle unit at Huntly plus the combined cycle units at Stratford. Their efficiency is somewhat better, in the mid50s %. There's also some open-cycle gas turbines included, which are low efficiency. It will be a bit harder to get them closed down, because they tend to be the fast-startup peaker generation.

    • Sacha 6.2

      Interesting. Had no idea geothermal was that big a share.

      • lprent 6.2.1

        It is what 16% of our generation capacity and rising.

        • Andre

          About 10% of installed capacity, but about 16% of actual electricity generated. Because it runs at roughly 85% to 90% capacity almost all the time. Ideal baseload generation.

          • Sacha

            Have we maxed it out, or could more be added to replace coal and gas?

            • Andre

              There's about 1000MW of installed capacity now, and it's commonly estimated there's around another 1000MW of potential. So it could potentially double. There's around 350MW of already consented projects yet to be built.

              There's also potential for more use of geothermal for direct heating for drying milk and timber, and other industrial uses. I don't know whether those potential users directly compete with power generation or if there's differences in geothermal fields that make one more suitable than the other.


              In the past few years there's been some articles about high temps close to the surface on the West Coast as a potential geothermal resource. As I understand it, this would require different technology, and I don't recall anyone putting any numbers to how big a resource it might be. There's also the earthquake issues on the West Coast.

              • Graeme

                There's a bit of geothermal heating of commercial greenhouses on the Coast, growing eggplants and capsicums. I've heard of quite a bit at planning / development as well.


                The geotechnical challenges on the Coast aren't really all that different in impact to the central North Island, or even Auckland, they are all very likely to go bang at some stage, and without much warning. The distance for transmission and terrain would probably be the limiting factor, it's hard enough getting electricity into the Coast, the same would apply getting it out.

                The geothermal resource is also quite different to the North Island volcanic resource being in a narrow band along the fault rather than around a 'hot spot'. This would make large centralised plants difficult, but ideal for smaller scale process or growth heating. I can see this having quite an impact on the Coast once the resource is better understood and applications fully developed, but it's unlikely to be large scale electricity generation.

                [Please use the same user name here throughout without changing it, as this creates work for Moderators for no obvious good reason, thanks. I’ve changed it to your usual user name – Incognito]

                • Incognito

                  See my Moderation note @ 8:50 AM.

                  • Graeme

                    Sorry, totally unintentional. The name field tends to grab any stray cursor and either overwrite add to the autofilled name. This seems to be a common problem for many commenters. I normally catch it but this one slipped through.

                    Is it possible to lock the field to prevent this and save your time.

                    • Incognito

                      No worries; those Moderator notes can be perceived as harsh and/or intimidating even though that’s not the intention.

                      I know there have been and apparently still are issues with wayward cursors and I don’t think this has ever been fully sorted. It appears a problem mostly (?) on the ‘client side’. I think when something ends up in the user name field it is stored in a cache or something rather and can stay there for a long time until it is cleared by closing the browser or through more direct and targeted user intervention, which is why Moderators try to get the attention of the user and alert them to the issue. Some users, however, seem oblivious to replies to their comments, which I cannot really understand …

                      Lprent and/or weka might be able to shed some light on it, as I’m way out of my depth with this.

                • Sacha

                  The geotechnical challenges on the Coast aren't really all that different in impact to the central North Island, or even Auckland

                  The nearest equivalent Ak has to the Alpine Fault are volcanic eruptions every millenia or so. With the West Coast and Welli it is a matter of how many years or decades until the big one, not if.

                  Palmy, Hamilton and Whangarei are pretty safe locations for critical infrastructure.

        • Sacha

          For some reason hydro was still bigger in my head.

          btw, Cancel Reply function no longer working for me. Running FF84 on MacOS10.15.7

  7. Jester 7


    Now stands for:

    My Ass Got Arrested

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