The good, the bad and the ugly – NBR Online's plays of the week
Rich List celebrates success
The annual popularity of the National Business Review Rich List suggests plenty of New Zealanders are uninfected by the dreaded Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Many New Zealanders view the wealthy with jealousy and contempt but for readers of the Rich List these people are to be admired and (hopefully) emulated.
Unlike older countries New Zealand has little in the way of inherited wealth, which means the vast majority of Rich Listers have built their fortune themselves, often from humble beginnings.
A good example is New Zealand’s richest man Graeme Hart, who with a value of $5.5 billion has come a long way from driving tow trucks.
Whether they made their money in property, agribusiness, IT, manufacturing or any other sector, these men, women and families have spotted an opportunity and provided something other people valued enough to pay for.
It may not involve rescuing cats from trees or helping old ladies cross the street but generating wealth is arguably the biggest act of public service one can make.
The changing face of wealth
One of the most pleasing aspects of this year’s Rich List is its stability, with almost everyone from last year returning and the list’s overall wealth remaining much the same.
This suggests New Zealand may not have been hit as hard as other parts of the world by the financial crisis, because the very wealthy tend lose a larger proportion of their wealth than any other group when recession hits and asset values plummet.
However, there are signs that the composition of the Rich List may be set to change as the landscape of the economy changes and the “old” industries lose their dominance.
NBR’s Rich List Radar, to be released later this year as part of the next Wealth Guide, is likely to show that many of those on the cusp of the Rich List are in the emerging hi-tech sectors where it is hoped New Zealand will generate much of its future wealth.
One who has already made it is Xero founder Rod Drury, who was valued at $50 million this year.
If the economy starts to pick up it is highly likely that a number of the rising business stars currently sitting just below the threshold will start to break through over the next couple of years.
Reading about their exploits will hopefully inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to have a go and make themselves, and New Zealand as a country, much wealthier.
The iPhone 4’s botched launch
Confusion reigned today as the launch of the Apple iPhone 4 didn’t go quite as smoothly as planned.
It's Apple's designated iPhone 4 release day for New Zealand – and 17 other countries, including Australia.
Across the Tasman, the wonder phone duly appeared at midnight. Staff from Vodafone, and other carriers, held media stunts outside major retailers.
Here, we were going backward, with Vodafone NZ pulling its iPhone 4 page from its website last night.
Earlier in the day, Vodafone NZ had been taking iPhone 4 registrations of interest via its site.
This morning, the iPhone 4 was still AWOL from Vodafone NZ's website.
At a Vodafone-branded DS Wireless store on Auckland's Queen St, NBR was told the iPhone 4 was due in "later today or tomorrow."
At a Dick Smith Electronics outlet, NBR was told there was an indefinite launch delay.
A Dick Smith sales rep, talking to NBR as a customer off the street, offered the (completely unsubstantiated but fun) theory that the delay was because of “Vodafone leaks.”
Other theories include a supply shortage and a temper tantrum by Vodafone over Apple’s apparent high tolerance for other phone companies undermining Vodafone NZ’s position as sole official carrier.
The good news is that if you’re a luddite who doesn’t try to buy new gadgets on the first day they go on sale then this fiasco won’t bother you in the slightest.
Chris Carter’s brain explosion
As far as meltdowns go, Chris Carter’s decision to send anonymous letters to the media alleging an imminent leadership challenge to Phil Goff was Chernobyl-sized.
He’s no James Bond – his handwriting on the front of the envelopes was quickly recognised by his colleagues.
His bizarre behaviour earned a quick response from Mr Goff, who told him his career as a Labour MP was over.
It turns out there was no leadership challenge in the pipeline; Mr Carter was simply hoping his prediction would cause the foretold event to actually happen.
Following his logic, I also have a message to give to the media- I am going on a date with Angelina Jolie next Tuesday.
While Mr Carter is right that Labour under Mr Goff cannot and will not win the election, it’s difficult to see how David Cunliffe, widely picked to be the party’s next leader, would pick up any extra voters.
From the scandal over his use of taxpayer-funded travel perks, to his game of hide-and-seek with the media, to his claim that people were picking on him because he’s gay, Mr Carter’s career has been going downhill for a while.
While New Zealand certainly has its fair share of homophobes, his main problem is not his sexuality but his sense of entitlement, as evidenced by the extravagant travel on the taxpayer tab.
Mr Carter was a prominent member of the ‘Rainbow’ segment of the Labour Party that enjoyed its golden years under Helen Clark’s reign as Prime Minister.
They were largely focused on issues that were of little importance to most New Zealanders and, because few had ever had a job in the private sector, they helped pass anti-business laws without care or understanding of the consequences.
Now that laws like prostitution reform and civil unions have been passed the Rainbow faction’s relevance is likely to fade.
Few New Zealanders will miss Mr Carter, who represents many of the aspects of Labour the public grew sick of during its final term.
However, he may have done his party a favour by clearing the way for someone younger, more talented and more in tune with the new priorities of the electorate.