Wellington, NZ's Daizy Design is a face-painting studio that does astounding work, as the images here can attest. They also paint pregnant bellies, do custom work for photo shoots, and so on. The rates look pretty reasonable, considering the standard of work on display.
Hobbit producers to New Zealand: if you tell people how we got our sweet tax/labor deal, no one will want to make movies in your country
The production company that made the Hobbit convinced the government of New Zealand to suspend its labor laws and tax laws. Now the NZ Labour Party is asking for the details of the deal that the company struck with the government to be disclosed, and the production company is fighting it, saying that if the government tells the voters of NZ what sort of sweetheart deal they were handed, no one will want to make movies in New Zealand any more.
Radio New Zealand applied for the documents in November 2010 under the Official Information Act but ministers refused on the grounds they were commercially sensitive.
The broadcaster appealed the decision and on January 31, Ombudsman David McGee ruled 18 documents, including emails between Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson and government officials, must be released.
In his 29-page ruling McGee said the information in the documents didn't pose serious commercial risks.
But New Line warned this would affect future relations, objecting in a statement included in the ruling.
"If the government is not willing to adequately protect this sensitive information from disclosure, this will operate as a major disincentive to motion picture studios as well as local and foreign talent - to utilise New Zealand as a location for future productions."
Threats fly over Hobbit document release [NZ Herald/Cassandra Mason]
Chinese tourists say crooked NZ tour-operator took them to a "buffet" that was really a church soup-kitchen
Chinese tourists say a crooked tour-operator who'd promised them the best sightseeing in New Zealand and a buffet dinner instead took them to a bunch of public parks and then dumped them in the line at a soup-kitchen:
Chinese visitor says tour operator told him charity event was Govt treat. (Thanks, Juha!)
"I thought it was a real bargain, but the main reason we decided to go with him was because we thought it would be handy to have a local guide who spoke Mandarin," he said.
"I was shocked to find out later from media reports that the Christmas lunch was a charity lunch for the poor and homeless, and that most of the places we had been taken to were free and were not meant for tourists."
A TVNZ Christmas Day news report said Chinese tourists on organised tours were among the 2800 people at the Viaduct Events Centre for the annual charity lunch.
Woman whose ex- won't return her suitcase retaliates by auctioning the locations of his secret fishing holes
Angela Potter, a teacher in Waikato, NZ, has a funny definition of "vindictive":
"My ex-boyfriend is an avid and very successful fisherman who asked me to protect his collection of GPS fishing spot co-ordinates [with my life no less]. Not a problem," she wrote on the auction.
And sold secrets tend to make for an angry man - Miss Potter said her ex was less than pleased to find out they had been shared.
Miss Potter said she would never have sold the co-ordinates had it been an amicable breakup, however, the man packed his belongings into her suitcase, which had sentimental value, and fled the country.
"When he refused to return my suitcase that's when I sold his co-ordinates," she said. "I didn't list them to be vindictive. I listed them as a bit of a laugh."
OTOH, she's now dating a new fisherman and says that she has not shared her ex's fishin' holes with him.
Rob Murdoch sends us a link to his site, where he posts, "Science fiction themed retro looking sculptures of machines, animals etc all made from recycled machinery. Built in Dieselpunk fashion and of very high quality and design!"
They are indeed super cool. Alas, there appears to be no way to buy 'em! Rob, if you're reading this, please drop by the comments and let us know whether and how to buy these things.
Darryl Pickett, the Walt Disney Imagineering contract show writer whose videos about life in the trenches at Disney World I blogged in Jan 2011 has written a fun-sounding Christmas novel called The Secret Feast of Father Christmas. He writes,
The story seeks to reinvent the traditional Christmas gift giver. No toy-making elves or flying reindeer here. Father Christmas lives in a secret palace called Very North, and is married to Mother Solstice, a pantheistic demigoddess. (I suspect Father Christmas is Unitarian Universalist.) My hero is a 13 year-old New Zealander named Mannie, who has lost his beloved Aunt Audra, a free-spirited atheist. He struggles with the idea propounded by his Anglican family, that his aunt may have been relegated to Hell. The story has its bittersweet moments, and it's certainly heartfelt. Though it has no direct connection to anything Disney, I believe my Imagineering roots will become clear to anyone who reads through to the end.
The Secret Feast of Father Christmas (Thanks, Darryl!)
Public interest groups fly to Auckland, NZ to meet with TPP negotiators, are only allowed in the building to give a 15-minute joint presentation
Having been promised a chance to meet with the delegates at the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership treaty meeting in New Zealand, a representatives from nonprofit public interest groups around the world flew to Auckland. Once they arrived, the TPP announced that they would be granted 15 minutes, total, for all of the groups to make a statement.
TPP is a sweeping copyright treaty, a kind of ACTA on steroids, being conducted without any public scrutiny or input -- only governments and giant corporations are welcome in the negotiating room. It has profound implications for the future of medicine, Internet regulation, and privacy and surveillance.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is one of the groups that sent a representative to Auckland. They've published an open letter signed by the public interest coalition protesting their shabby treatment at the hands of TPP's administrators.
Academics, experts, consumer groups, Internet freedom organizations, libraries, educational institutions, patients and access to medicines groups have flown a long way from around the world to Auckland, New Zealand, to engage with delegates in the 15th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
For the first time, however, we have been locked out of the entire venue, except for a single day out of the 10 days of negotiations. This not only alienates us as members of public interest groups, but also the hundreds of thousands of innovators, educators, patients, students, and Internet users who have sent messages to government representatives expressing their concerns with the TPP. All of us oppose the complete unjustifiable secrecy around the negotiations, but more importantly, the IP provisions that could potentially threaten our rights, and innovation.
These new physical restrictions on us are reflective of the ongoing lack of transparency that has plagued the TPP negotiations from the very beginning.
New Zealand give $120M subsidy to Hollywood for local production of The Hobbit, plus a passel of new anti-union and copyright laws -- and corrupt police raids
Writing for Bloomberg, Joe Karaganis describes the incredible subsidies that New Zealand provided to the film production for The Hobbit, and what a brutal screwjob those subsidies represent for Kiwi taxpayers.
But now you aren’t thinking like a studio. The real question is: How much taxpayer money can Warner Bros. demand from the government of New Zealand to keep production there (rather than, say, in Australia or the Czech Republic)? That answer turns out to be about $120 million, plus the revision of New Zealand’s labor laws to forbid collective bargaining among film-production contractors, plus the passage of three-strikes Internet-disconnection laws for online copyright infringement, plus enthusiastic and, it turns out, illegal cooperation in the shutdown of the pirate-friendly digital storage site Megaupload and the arrest of its owner, Kim Dotcom.
If you were a NZ taxpayer, you might say that this is a reasonable deal, given all the jobs and such that The Hobbit will bring to your country. Nuh-uh.
The U.K. government found this out in 2005, when Warner Bros. threatened to move “Harry Potter” productions to the Czech Republic. The government of Gordon Brown caved in to studio demands and passed new subsidies. In 2009, New Zealand also gave in and now faces demands for more.
The worst part is that, for most of the wannabe Hollywoods, it’s bad economic policy on every level. The productions bring in mostly low-end, temporary jobs, while the high-end jobs remain in Hollywood or New York. Call it the Curse of Harry Potter.
Spirit Animal Collective: massive graphite rendering of a 1940s NZ primary school photo, with spirit animals
Souris sez ,"'Spirit Animal Collective' is now available at our shop. The print is based on Kozy's 2009 drawing 'Spirit Animal Collective'. The drawing was the culmination of Kozy's 4 year-long 'Unknown Portraits' project, which involved Kozy's nearly obsessive search through old photographs in junk shops from Australia to Spain to Northern England to San Francisco to our own backyard in Venice Beach (and more!). Most of the drawings were the size of playing cards, but for the final artwork Kozy create a massive graphite rendering of a 1940's-era New Zealand primary school class photo. In it she imagined the camera to reveal the spirit animal within each of the students. This summer we decided to produce a colorized version reminiscent of old tinted photos (Dan's grandmother used to tint photos as a side job while raising her children) and this is the result."
Kim Dotcom will sue US gov't and Hollywood, use the money for free nationwide Internet in New Zealand
Kim Dotcom is going to sue the US entertainment industry and the US government over the illegal raid on him and Megaupload, and has promised to use his winnings to pay for free Internet access across New Zealand. The Guardian's Peter Walker reports:
The latest salvo involves resurrecting a planned second fibre optic web cable across the Pacific to the US, which would have doubled New Zealand's available internet bandwidth. A New Zealand company, Pacific Fibre, hoped to build the £200m link but announced in August it could not secure the funding.
Dotcom's proposal is to supply broadband free to domestic customers, charging only businesses and government users, the New Zealand Herald reported. His share of the capital would be provided by lawsuits against the US government and film studios for their "unlawful and political destruction" of his business, he said.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key issued an official apology to Kim Dotcom for illegal spying conducted by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) -- the NZ equivalent to the CIA, which is prohibited from engaging in domestic spying. Nevertheless, GCSB conducted a program of surveillance against Dotcom and his associates as part of the US-led shutdown of Megaupload, Dotcom's file-locker service, which had angered the US entertainment industry.
The GCSB reports to the Prime Minister's office, so it's not clear how this surveillance could have gone on without the oversight of Key or his staff. Paul Neazor, Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security for New Zealand, reported on the illegal spying, explaining that it took place because the GCSB mistakenly believed that Dotcom did not have permanent residency in New Zealand, making him fair game for surveillance (visitors to New Zealand, take note).
However, as a Computerworld NZ article shows, the "Blue Folder" prepared by NZ police's anti-terrorist Special Tactics Group for the intelligence service shows, Dotcom's residency status was clearly set out. Also, Dotcom set off $500,000 worth of fireworks when he was awarded residency.
Neazor found that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB), which by law can only conduct action against foreign targets, failed to check Dotcom’s immigration status. If they had done so they would have discovered he hold’s a permanent resident’s visa.
“The GCSB relied on information provided to it by the Organized and Financial Crime Agency. In my view, reliance on another party by GCSB is unacceptable,” Key said.
“It is the GCSB’s responsibility to act within the law, and it is hugely disappointing that in this case its actions fell outside the law. I am personally very disappointed that the agency failed to fully understand the workings of its own legislation.”
Here's a video of the PM explaining himself.
Bruce Mahalski, an artist in New Zealand, created a set of sculptural "dueling pistols" out of bone. Bidding opens at NZD1500.
Two bone dueling pistols (with spare bullets) mounted in a custom altered case which has been counter-sunk into a specially made rimu table. All of the bones have been found locally by the artist. The head on the bottom gun is from a ferret and the top one is from a black-backed gull. Both have barrels made from cat’s vertebrae. This archival quality work by Wellington artist, Bruce Mahalski (with assistance from local jeweler, Vaune Mason) has not yet been exhibited and this is the first time it is being offered for sale.
New Zealand's spies illegally bugged Kim Dotcom, complicity may go all the way to the prime minister's office
New Zealand's foreign intelligence spy body, the Government Communications Security Bureau spied on Kim Dotcom at the behest of the US government, despite the fact that they are legally prohibited from conducting domestic surveillance. The NZ prime minister has ordered an inquiry, stating that the GCSB acted "unlawfully" in spying on Dotcom and his associates. Opposition leaders point out that only the PM's office could have authorized the spying, and suggest that the PM is saving face by ordering the inquiry now that the facts have come to light. More from TorrentFreak's enimgax:
Key says that he learned of the unlawful activity after speaking with the head of the GCSB last Monday and then took action to refer the issue to the Inspector-General, Hon Paul Neazor, who has the power to investigate matters related to the GCSB’s compliance with the law.
“I expect our intelligence agencies to operate always within the law. Their operations depend on public trust,” Key said.
“I look forward to the Inspector-General’s inquiry getting to the heart of what took place and what can be done about it. Because this is also a matter for the High Court in its consideration of the Megaupload litigation, I am unable to comment further,” Key added.
While the GCSB acting illegally is clearly an embarrassment for the government, Prime Minister Key now has some serious explaining to do. GCSB is a department that is responsible directly to him, a point not lost on Labour leader David Shearer.
“This is a shocking breach of New Zealand’s very strict laws restricting the ability of our spy agencies to snoop on people,” Shearer said in a statement this morning.