My writings include feature articles, opinion essays, technical reports, travel blogs, humour, and even poetry.
The examples here are not exhaustive, but are intended to offer an illustration of the different types of work I have undertaken, and the corresponding styles of writing used.
Further differing examples may be found on my LinkedIn page, at HotCars, and also within Quora, as well as my own blog, Eyes Right.
Opinion and Insight
Book - Little Green Men
Here it is, at long last, the sequel to Uncommon Dissent. Much of this book fills in the gaps that the first episode of my ten-year association with Investigate Magazine left behind, but there are also articles included here that never made the cut first time around, either because I missed a deadline, or decided to write something else at the last minute.
I have arranged this collection as a chronology rather than by subject category. Some of the material in these pages goes back quite a few years; reading through it again, I’ve been interested to see how much of it still has relevance, and I hope you’ll find it equally thought-provoking.
Not all my predictions over the past couple of decades have proven to be 100% on the mark, but a surprising few are pretty close to it. In fact in some cases it’s depressing how relevant the concerns aired by Yours Truly nearly two decades ago, still are today. You be the judge.
Little Green Men begins with the article that marked the start of my time writing for Investigate, and finishes with the column that brought it to a close. I thought long and hard before deciding to include the final chapter, given the controversy that ensued as a result of it; but it is what it is, and it marks the end of one particular journey. I hope that when people have read it again, in full, and after the passage of time, along with the additional comments that aim to illustrate a little of what has happened since, they will understand why I’ve chosen to include it here. It isn’t about ripping the top off old sores – rather it’s about helping to heal some old scars.
Book - Uncommon Dissent the Reprint
Preface to the 2019 Edition
Seven years after Uncommon Dissent was first published, and as much as seventeen years after some of it was written, a great deal has changed about New Zealand, and indeed the world, as we knew it. An unsettling amount appears to have remained the same, however, and some has become even more inexplicable than it was.
I was initially prompted to publish this second edition because one aspect of life as we knew it only a decade ago has been the meteoric rise of the e-Book, and the 2012 version was in the form of the dead-tree publication only. Having just completed Little Green Men, the stand-alone sequel to this book’s first edition, as both an e-Book and a paperback, I feel it’s appropriate to create a modernized redux of the first.
But beyond that, watching the never-ending flow of politics as a fly on the wall, I believe what’s written here is still current – I see too many politicians, many of whom I still know, saying the same things, suggesting the same failed solutions for the same unsolved issues.
Some things in life are very predictable, others less so. A decade ago, looking forward ten years, I wouldn’t have thought I’d ever be going to Parliament, let alone leaving it again, or living on the other side of the world.
A decade ago, smart phones were still a new thing. A decade before that, they were the stuff of science fiction. Electronic books fall into a similar category, long-prophesied, finally here. Are they the future? Yes, but paper will live on. Books don’t need batteries.
Are they better? Who knows; the final fire to wreak devastation on the Great Library of Alexandria, sometime around 270AD, saw the destruction of a sizeable proportion of the sum of mankind’s knowledge at the time. Today, a major power cut affecting the Great Servers of the Internet would achieve the same end.
Technology changes, but human nature does not. We are the same creatures today, physiologically, as we were at the end of the Stone Age; and in some ways, we’re still behaving in the same manner, still banging the same rocks together, still forlornly hoping for a different result.
You be the judge.
Book - Uncommon Dissent
Richard Prosser first came on board as an Investigate columnist in 2002, and quickly established himself as one of our most outspoken writers.
With his election to Parliament from the NZ First List last November, and the news media and talk radio managing to get a week’s worth of headlines from his Investigate column that month, it became obvious that if people were going to trawl through old Investigate collections looking for something to beat Richard Prosser with, the least we could do was make their job easier – after all, it’s already in the public domain.
The beauty of a book, however, is that it provides an easy-access contextual reference so that you can quickly measure what is being said about Prosser’s opinion pieces, against what he actually wrote.
Because he’s written more than a hundred columns at nearly two thousand words each, it would take a book of around 600 pages to exhaustively reproduce them all.
What’s here is the best of Prosser: a hard hitting collection of essays reflecting issues facing New Zealand and New Zealanders. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Prosser’s writing is how well he makes his points.
The second thing I enjoyed as an editor was how I almost never had to apply a sub-editor’s pencil to his copy. The issues he raises are important, and provoke meaningful public debate.
– Ian Wishart, Editor
Discussion Paper - CO2 and the Climate
This paper very briefly summarises how and why it is that carbon dioxide, whether natural or man-made in origin, is incapable of causing the atmospheric heating, global warming, and climate change attributed to it; and why, therefore, arguments and programs – including carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes – which are intended to limit the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, are inherently incapable of having any effect on the climate of the earth.
Opinion piece - Conservation
Published in the Greymouth Evening Star
August 30 2016
Government Driving New Zealand towards our own Silent Spring
In 1962, American marine biologist and author Rachel Carson published a book which became the genesis of a global environmental movement. That book, ‘Silent Spring’, prompted a new awareness of the interconnected nature of nature, and of how mankind’s chemical meddling threatened to destroy the ecological balance, causing widespread deaths and extinctions of wildlife.
The subject of Carson’s concern was dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, a broad-spectrum insecticide widely used across the United States and elsewhere.
Rachel’s prognosis was bleak; birds would die because of DDT. All types of birds. Birds would die from direct exposure to DDT. Birds would die from eating poisoned insects. Birds would die from increased predation by animals normally kept under control by birds of prey – which were being killed by DDT. Populations of animals and birds relieved of the danger of predation by the deaths of their predators, would flourish out of control, outgrowing their own food supplies. Uncountable millions would die of starvation in the winter time.
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Informative Op-Ed - Cannabis and Hemp
Cannabis and Hemp – a Quick Primer
Cannabis and hemp, despite being the same thing, are in fact not the same thing. Confused?
Cannabis, native to Central Asia, is the name given to a genus of plants within the family Cannabaceae. Cannabis has three recognised species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Human-cultivated cannabis has uses that include industrial, recreational, and medicinal applications, spanning back many millenia.
In common modern parlance, the name cannabis has come to refer to strains of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica that are grown to produce marijuana, which is an illegal drug in most jurisdictions. These plants are also a source for a more widely accepted and growing industry based around medicinal extracts of the cannabis plant. C. ruderalis is not widely cultivated or generally regarded as being particularly useful for human purposes.
Industrial hemp is a sub-species of Cannabis sativa. However, it contains only minute traces of the psychoactive compounds found in the recreational variety. It does not produce a “high” and is not of value as a recreational drug.
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Reports and Technical
Internal document - Winery Report
Appendix A. Overview
The scope of this report is to cover the timeline and practicalities of Vintage 2004, and to make recommendations on planning and preparations for Vintage 2005, based on the assumption that the existing winery buildings and infrastructure will be largely unchanged from 2004 to 2005.
This report will not examine winemaking decisions or other issues beyond the legitimate scope of interest of the writer.
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External document - QA Report
This report details Quality Assurance findings and issues relating to the installation of lining material to a large water holding dam on a major ongoing vineyard development.
MacArthur Ridge Vineyard is a major commercial and lifestyle vineyard development located at Springvale, near Alexandra, in Central Otago. When complete, the vineyard will include plantings of some 235 hectares of grafted grapevines, in selected modern clones of Pinot Noir, intended for the production of quality table wine for domestic and export consumption.
The holding dam project is intended to provide a store of water for both irrigation and frostfighting purposes. This is a large-scale holding dam, with a nominal capacity in the order of 220 million litres.
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Article - Industry Journal
“Irrigation management to use water efficiently”
Topics to cover: Over-watering, unevenness, shortage, importance of even distribution for turf quality and not wasting water
One of the keys to maintaining top-quality turf lies in using the right amount of water. This may seem like a given; but what constitutes the “right amount” of water, in any particular situation, is dictated by a raft of other considerations. Soil type, grass type, prevailing weather and local climate conditions, the desired end use of the turf in question, and other elements of turf management, including the chosen fertiliser regime, and other aspects of soil treatments such as aeration, must be taken into account.
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Spec article - trade and industry
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The second thing that struck me was that oil isn’t going away anytime soon, and not only that, but no-one in Europe appears particularly bothered about that. I’ve written about the first of these aspects before, but till last week I hadn’t had a first-hand appreciation of the second.
These were industry folks, of course, and whilst everyone we spoke to was genuinely polite, and took an interest in our interest in a quirky thing like wind power, everyone was also very matter-of-fact about renewables being a necessary part of the overall mix – but for reasons of economics, rather than the environment.
One nearing-retirement-age chap we spoke to, an engineer, was showcasing a new type of seabed anchor that his firm has designed for use with offshore wind turbines.
“The demand curve for oil is a straight line,” he told us. “It has been for fifty years, and it will be for another fifty.”
And he’s right. World oil consumption in 2008 was 85 million barrels per day. In 2016 it was 95 million barrels per day. Before 2030 ticks over, it will be 110 million barrels per day. 90 million new motor vehicles are manufactured globally every year, and fewer than 1% of them are electric.
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Policy and Strategy
Private Member's Bill
Presented to the NZ First caucus in August 2016 for inclusion in the Members' Ballot
The purpose of the Crimes Act (Self-Defence and Castle Doctrine) Amendment Bill 2016 is to clarify and reinforce the premise that people have an innate right to defend themselves and to protect their property, and to defend and protect others and others’ property; and to clarify and strengthen existing law relating to the right of a person to use reasonable force against another person for the purposes of self-defence or in the defence of others.
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Internal Briefing Paper
For many years now New Zealand has farmed mussels and oysters. There is potential for continued growth in both those areas as far as creating jobs and export earnings are concerned. There is also potential for the farming of paua – the Chinese farm around 90 times our annual wild harvest – and the ‘ranching’ of crayfish.
Ocean ranching of finfish species is also in the beginning stages of establishment and expansion in some districts. In many regards New Zealand lags behind a number of other countries where this type of protein farming is well established. Recent success in breeding blue cod in captivity for the first time is encouraging, both from an aquaculture perspective, and in terms of the possibility of seeding the wild fishery with additional fish stocks.
Internal Briefing paper
This proposal is for a policy intended to discourage the export of unprocessed logs from New Zealand, by making such export economically prohibitive.
The reason for this policy is to maximise the returns to New Zealand from our forestry sector, by increasing the production of existing companies and employees in the processing sector, and by encouraging the further development and production of value-added wood and timber products in New Zealand.
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Humour & Satire
Diary with Augmented Reality
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Tuesday 03 Dec 2002
Thirty-six degrees celsius at one o’clock this afternoon. The day will keep getting hotter until about four or five. It is still nearly three weeks till the longest day, after which the hot weather begins.
I came home for lunch, which by rights should have been the start of Siesta time.
Al-Qat-Pussi has erected a tent in the shade of the big Photinia robusta outside the back door. Within, he is at repose, a large glass hookah pipe nearby. He does not stir as I poke my head in to say hello, but a whisker twitches, and I note that his paw rests gently against the hilt of his scimitar. The air in the tent is laden with the aromas of coffee, incense, and something which, I fancy, may be hashish; but it is pleasantly light and cool, and a fan made from palm leaves wafts a delicate zither, pulled (or pushed) by some unseen hand or power. I must ask him where he gets all this stuff from.
At the back of the tent, a curtain hides the entrance to what looks like a separate room. I decide it is probably where the Harem sleeps, and elect (I think wisely) not to investigate further.
Mother Dog has come in to lie on the relative cool of the kitchen floor lino. Zeb has saved a bone from this morning and is grinding at it under the shade of the truck, parked on the lawn. Floyd is under the old trailer, too hot to think about chewing anything.
Wednesday 04 Dec 2002
By eleven o’clock this morning it was already 28 C, too hot to spray, so I will spend the remainder of the day in the winery – more particularly in the barrel room where the cooling system keeps the temperature about eight degrees below ambient.
Yesterday afternoon’s thunderstorm didn’t amount to much other than a bit of cloud and noise.
I thought that I might have heard it again sometime in the wee small hours, but there were dancing girls in al-Qat-Pussi’s tent last night (or “The Tent of al-Qat-Pussi” as he prefers it to be known), so perhaps it was the sound of feasting and merriment which disturbed my fretful sleep.
Mike came round for one beer last night, and it was half past one this morning, eighteen stubbies, four and a half litres of home brew, and a packet of chips, before he rolled on out and I fell into bed. Ugh. I’m getting way too old for this lifestyle.
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Inspired by the New Zealand farming archetype. Photo credit Andris Apse
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Dunno if I ever told you about the time me and Wally Dunstan went to the South Pole.
It was pretty late in the summer a few years ago, we’d been mustering, and Wally came into the shed one night and said he’d been listening to the wireless and heard something about a fire at the South Pole Station. I thought he meant the Invercargill Power Board, but apparently no, the Yanks have some sort of setup down on the ice, that’s even further away than Bluff, if you can believe it.
Anyway, turns out the place was pretty badly buggered up, and the bloke they had down there looking after the dogs had been hurt, and wasn’t in very good shape.
I asked Wally what they were farming down there, I mean as far as I knew there wasn’t much apart from penguins, and you can’t shear or even milk them. But he said no, they were sled dogs, which made more sense.
So the upshot was that Uncle Sam had decided they needed to get everyone out of there, and they’d put out a call for anyone who could head on down and help them with the dogs. Wally said that me and him could probably give it a go, and I said, bloody oath, always keen to help out a man who needs a hand with his dogs. I didn’t even know Wally had an Uncle Sam, but that didn’t matter.
Satirical blog post response
Paleoanthropologists have long speculated that the first inhabitants of the British Isles originated in South America. This is based on DNA type matching that shows commonalities between the mitochondrial DNA of women in remote parts of Wales and Ireland, and those from the highlands of Peru and Argentina.
As it turns out, the truth is even stranger than that.
In fact, the original Ancient Briton was a man named Pug. He came into being when he was squeezed out from a crack in the rocks during a limestone hole cave-in that occurred during a landslide caused by an earthquake in Cornwall.
Earthquakes were common in the British Isles during that era, though curiously enough only in Cornwall, and at the site of one small town by the name of Lower Throgmorton in Worcestershire. There was no actual town there back then of course, but there was a small and ferociously bubbling brown thermal lake which was to become the source of the original Worcestershire Sauce. Interestingly “Throg-mor-ton” translates from Ancient Anglo-Saxon as “The Source of the Sauce.”
There not being much else to do in Cornwall at that time, Pug naturally set about mining for tin.
It rained a lot in those days.
One morning, after a particularly heavy downfall, Pug was fossicking in the mud outside his cave, looking for a flint-headed shovel that he had misplaced. Quite by chance, he grasped an arm, which turned out to be attached to a woman. She had been extruded from the earth in a similar fashion to himself. Pug named her Doris.
Doris quickly set things to rights by inventing the first Cornish pastie, and shortly thereafter, well nourished, the new couple wasted no time in getting to know each other. They had nineteen children before they worked out what was causing it, but by then it was too late, with Puglets one through eleven already at it like rabbits.
The land of Ancient Britain was swiftly populated by the Tribe of Pug. Many were the names they thought of for their male children, affording them stirring titles such as Kevin, and Bruce, and Charlemagne, and Ivan the Terrible, and Derrek, and Paul, and Sebastian, and Alexander the Great, and Brent, and Neville, and Rupert the Abstainer, and so forth.
They weren’t so creative with names for their female children however, and as time went on, they all came to be known simply as Doris. It is a tradition that persists to this day.
Ancient Britain began to become crowded, and numerous Puglets and their respective Dorises set off to explore and further populate the world. One couple, Andrew and Doris, sailed away in a 200-foot long, four-storey high dug-out canoe made from the trunk of a single Coxes’ Orange Pippin apple tree, and arrived in South America, where they gazed in awe at a vast, high, snow-capped mountain range. Andrew was so enamoured and so enthused by the sight of these peaks that Doris named them “Andy’s Mountains” in his honour. It is a tradition that persists to this day.
Andrew and Doris had 12 sets of twins, which wasn’t unusual for the time. Curiously enough the names they gave the boys were Chill, Argie, Brazza, Urug, Parag, Perry, Equa, Colo, Venez, Boli, Surin, and Guy. Each went forth with his respective sister Doris and founded a new nation in this great new land. It’s a horrible thought nowadays, but that’s how things were back then.
Anyway much later, in a new epoch, the original Britons were displaced, first by the Picts, then the Celts, then the Romans, and then the Saxons and finally the Pakistanis. Scientists have postulated that the similarities between the native South Americans of today, and the remnants of the first civilisations of Britain, pointed to the South American continent as being the birthplace of the British peoples; but the truth, as we now know, is very much a different story.
A Princess on a hillside seen
A girl in white, amidst the green
A mother young, a woman fair
A silver lass with flowing hair
This Lady, mine, of style and grace
With flashing smile and radiant face
A bonny bairn at each her side
A man’s heart filled with love and pride
With tender touch she tends the flock
Whilst I with love become her rock
Her anchor and her haven strong
Entwined our hearts do so belong
With hand and mind I’ll guard our lair
That she may grow our children fair
While watching us from high above
No less than She has blessed our love
A Princess, from a time before
Who I shall love for evermore
And in whose love I rise and stand
The very measure of a man
She draws me forth from deep within
The very gift bestowed from Him
And I, in honour of Her name,
Will from Her woman draw the same
A Princess, of the Golden Dream
And I will take her for my Queen
And I, if I may be her King,
Will from the highest mountain sing,
And love, and serve her all my days
And she will likewise offer praise
In manner kind as it was meant
When first the Lady’s gift was sent
Then side by side and hand in hand
We both will journey through this land
This blessed earth, our Mother fair,
And drink from life our fullmost share
And live, and love, and learn, and grow,
And seed for those who follow sow
And come at last to journey’s end
Yet never part, but ever spend
Our time as two, for we are one
So to eternity we come
As children, skipping, hand in hand
Before the sight of God to stand
Then looking back, in love and peace
We’ll see this wonder never cease
And watching, then, our scion bold,
We’ll grow more wise, but never old
Ah, Princess, my most fair divine,
My gift from God, wilt thou be mine?
So long I journeyed on my quest
Without the time for doubt or rest
Till now I come upon this scene
A Princess on a hillside green
And she is all that I desire
My love for her shall never tire
This woman I so long to see
The mother of my children be
And I, will with my body whole,
My heart and mind, my very soul,
Devote my strength to this our cause
Our purpose here, both mine and yours
To live and love, both you and me
And be the best that we can be
Ah, Princess, noble English rose,
Your beauty in my vision glows
And those who watch cannot but see
The love that I have found for thee
Come share with me this sacred life
As lover, partner, friend, and wife
Come journey with me, by my side
The Traveler and his Princess bride
There’s a painted sky at the Bendigo
Where the sun beats down from the Pisa snow
There’s a painted sky and a sunburnt tree
Where the clouds run wild and the hawks fly free
There’s a painted sky and a morning star
And a sunset seen in the distance far
There’s a pastel dawn and a western glow
Where the sheep still graze and the grapevines grow
And a lake that sits like a shining sea
On the rocks and stones of the high country
And a day seems long where the time runs slow
And the hot nor’westers dusty blow
There’s a man on a horse with a rifle high
And a dragon’s mark on the brooding sky
Where the rocks lie bare and the gold runs deep
In the river’s tomb where the spirits sleep
With an ear for the wind and an ancient cry
And the joy, and the pain, of the bones that lie
On the face and heart of a barren land
Where the miners took from a giving hand
Till the hand took back when it felt content
And the gold, and the grace, and the men were spent
And the sky turned bleak under winter’s chill
And the men, and the earth, and the rocks were still
And the river’s voice was a silent song
To the men who had lived, and died, and gone
As they followed the gold to Bendigo
Where the sheep still graze and the grapevines grow
And they came with their farms on a changing tide
And they grew, and they grazed, on the bare hillside
And the wind, and the sun, and the plague, and the snow
Was the price they paid to the Bendigo
There’s a painted sky and it tells a tale
Of a hard-built land where a man might fail
Where his soul must be strong, if as seed it would grow
In the rocks and stones of Bendigo
There’s a painted sky and a season new
And the vines reach out where the grass once grew
And they march, and they spread, on the sunburnt land
And the vintners take from a giving hand
There’s a painted sky and a canyon deep
Where the hawks still fly and the memories sleep
And the grapevines grow where the town once stood
And the giving hand seems to think it good
And they toil in the sun, and the wind, and the snow
And the wine, and the river, and the seasons flow
As the patterns change on the canvas high
Of this sunburnt land and its painted sky
There’s a painted sky at the Bendigo
And a truth in the minds of the men who know
That they live by the grace of that mighty hand
In this desolate, beautiful, windburnt land
And the sun, and the dry, and the stones, and the cold
And the wind, and the sky, and the grass, and the gold
Are the mark of the place where the voices say
That a man couldn’t wish for a better way
Than to live out his life ‘neath a painted sky
Where the grapevines grow and the ghosts still lie
And we live, and we learn, and we reap and we sow
‘Midst the rocks and the bones of the Bendigo