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Giving Gifts to New Zealand Members of Parliament

 

Have you ever considered what protocol governs the ability of New Zealand’s Members of Parliament (MPs) to accept gifts? Well me neither but protocol exists nevertheless.

MPs, by definition, are very much in the public eye and often become the recipients of well-intentioned gifts during the course of their work as a public servant. By the same token they need to be seen to be behaving in the best interests of the public when accepting those gifts. Generally the gifts would be given in a spirit of hospitality and generosity but sometimes those gifts can be given with the intention of manipulating the MP or even bribing them. So it stands to reason then that protocol for the receiving of gifts by MPs exists and it is contained in the New Zealand Government’s ‘Cabinet Guide’ document.
Beehive1
First and foremost MPs have to tell the ‘Registrar of Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament’ (or, as I like to call them, the RPIMP) about any gift (monetary or otherwise) that they receive that has a value over a certain amount (currently $500). If the MP has accepted a gift over this amount they are also obligated to relinquish the gift unless they have permission from the boss (the boss in this case being the Prime Minister of New Zealand). Fortunately gifts received from close family members don’t have to be disclosed or relinquished.

MPs are forbidden to solicit or accept gifts from commercial enterprises or any other organization. An exception to this rule might be accepting a small token during a visit to a Marae or a factory. If a minister does accept a gift over the prescribed amount and wishes to keep it they have the option of paying full value for the item or they must give it up. In these circumstances the gift still has to be disclosed to the RPIMP.

MPs are sometimes offered cultural gifts (sometimes in the form of money) such as Koha (a Maori gift or payment) or Quanxi (a Chinese gift that recognizes a relationship network) among others. These types of gifts often reflect ideas and concepts such as service to others, hospitality and responsibility and are generally offered with the intention of honouring the recipient. MPs are told that accepting them however could create a perception of a conflict of interest or ‘double-dipping’. Protocol states that gifts of cash must be returned immediately with a respectful statement explaining that that they honour the intent behind the gift but that it is their job to serve and they are already well remunerated for the work they do. The document goes on to explain that MPs accepting cultural gifts such as “fine mats or food” is unlikely to cause the same sort of unfavourable perception.

Ministers are allowed to accept political party donations of any value but it has to be made clear that the minister is receiving the payment on behalf of the party and they must pass it on as soon as possible.

So if you’re planning on sending your local MP a gift for any reason you may want to consult the ‘Cabinet Guide’ before you unwittingly make a political faux pas.
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Need Help Filling Out Your Father's Day Card?

 

If you do then let's hope your dad has a good sense of humour!

Funniest Father's Day Card Messages

  • *Dad, I love that we don’t have to say out loud that I’m your favourite child.Dad Slide
  • *Dad, you’ve always been like a father to me.
  • *Dad, thanks for always helping out financially so I can go on being independent.
  • *Dad, I promise to one day give you grandchildren that annoy me as much as I annoyed you.
  • *Dad, for all the love you’ve given me I will one day pay your rest home bill.
  • *Dad, it’s still hard to believe you’re someone’s father.
  • *You’re the best father I can imagine. Unless you’ve spent my inheritance in which case I can imagine better.
  • *Happy Father’s Day to the parent that let’s me do pretty much whatever I want.
  • *Dad, I’m still not above competing for your love.
  • *Happy Father’s Day to the man who has been monitoring my phone calls much longer than the GCSB has.
  • *Dad, I hope you love what the salesperson suggested I get you for Father’s Day.
  • *You’re the World’s Greatest Dad, although my frame of reference is limited.
  • *Dad, thank’s for all your fatherly advice, and for not getting too mad when I ignored it.
  • *Happy Father’s day to a dad who’s advice on saving money comes in very handy when shopping for a gift for him.
  • *Dad, thanks for surprising everyone and actually turning out to be a competent father.

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The History of Gift Wrap

 

The act of gift giving has been around for thousands of years, however the tradition of wrapping those gifts in printed papers, bows and other finery has only developed in Aa Gift Givingrelatively recent times. According to Wikipedia the term 'gift wrapping' refers to "the act of enclosing a gift in some sort of material". Well done to whoever wrote that definition, it must have taken days.

These days it is generally paper gift wrap, paper gift bags or cardboard boxes emblazoned with designs and imagery that has taken some designer weeks and weeks and hundreds and thousands of dollars to convert from a napkin doodle into a clever illustration that are used to wrap up Aunt Fanny's scorched almonds at Christmas time. This wasn't always the case though. Let's see if we can find out what the case originally was and the first person to realise the marketing goldmine that is gift-wrap paper as we know it today.

To get the full story we'll have to go right back to the start.

Aa EgyptianPrior to some clever clogs inventing paper the mummy lovin' Ancient Egyptians and other Mediterranean cultures used the pith of the 'Cyperus Papyrus' (a flash term for the 'Paper Reed') plant for writing their shopping lists on. It's not too much of a stretch to work out that the term 'paper' is derived from the word papyrus although the two materials were produced very differently.

The earliest bits of paper ever discovered were found in good old China and were pretty old themselves dating back to around the 2nd century BC. Paper was originally made from pulped cotton. The art of papermaking is considered one of the 'Four Great Inventions' of Ancient China alongside the invention of (America's favourite) gunpowder, (a Boy Scout's favourite) the compass and (Rupert Murdoch's favourite) printing.

In Chinese culture wrapping a gift in red is intended to pass on good luck to the recipient. What nice people.

The production of paper spread from China to Medieval Europe in the 13th century where the first water wheel powered paper mills were built.Aa Paper

The act of giving gifts at holiday times began long before the advent of Christmas. Romans were giving the proverbial socks and undies to one and other during pagan festivals such as Winter Solstice and Roman New Year.

Aa ChristmasThe tradition of giving gifts at Christmas came about as a result of those infamous three wise men who parted with their gold, frankincense and myrrh to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus a couple of thousand years ago. Initially the Church frowned upon the idea of gift giving because of it's pagan associations but in the middle ages the dusty old stuffed shirts finally came around and the act of giving gifts has been the backbone of the holiday season since.

Early wallpapers were used for a time to wrap gifts and they made their first appearance in England in 1509. Unfortunately the thickness of the paper and volatile nature of the printing inks meant that when the paper was wrapped around the chalice or chain-mail armour you happened to be giving at the time it would crack and tear. Hence wallpaper's use as wrapping paper was as short lived as Milli Vanilli's career.

Aa TimberIn 1844, Canadian inventor Charles Fenerty and German F.G. Keller independently developed processes for pulping wood fibers to create paper (although some disreputable sources suggest they had been 'Tweeting' one and other with their ideas hence 'independently' developing the process at the same time!).

Around this time gifts were generally wrapped in brown paper or simple tissue. Occasionally a gift might be presented in a paper basket or decorative cornucopia. Excuse me a moment while I Google what a cornucopia is.

In 1857 a man, with a happy sounding name, called Joseph Gayetty introduced toilet tissue to the world and tissue paper was an off-shoot of this invention.Aa Toilet Paper

In 1863 Ebenezer Butterick used tissue paper for his newly developed sewing patterns. Tissue paper began to be used widely for wrapping gifts around this time

In the mid to late 19th Century people first began sending Christmas Cards to friends and family (possibly as a way to avoid them saying "you never write to me") and the cards of the day featured images of holy, yule logs and blazing fires. Interestingly none featured the red suited fat man that we know today as Santa Claus. That version of Santa was created by the Coca Cola Company in the 1930s for a marketing campaign and has since become ingrained in the collective mind of the western world as the definitive image of what Santa Claus looks like.

In 1874 Louis Prang became the first printer to offer printed Christmas cards in America.

Gift wrap in the Victorian era was generally an elaborate collection of finely printed papers adorned with ribbons and lace and gift-giving was generally only done by the wealthier classes, which meant the gift wrap finery probably came about simply as a result of the Jones' just trying to keep up with one and other.

Later in the 19th Century (around 1890) the ability to manufacture quality foldable paper in bulk using industrial machinery meant that it could be produced far cheaper than ever Aa Printbefore, which would be good news for the publishers of the Harry Potter books in a couple of hundred years. Developments in printing around this time meant that coloured inks could be printed easily on stiffer papers and in turn meant that printing repetitive patterns was no longer a time-consuming luxury. The process was called flexography and involved fluid inks being rolled onto papers with the aid of rubber plates wrapped around a cylindrical print head. The resulting gift wrap was then cut into smaller sheets and rolled onto cardboard tubes for easy transport and sale. It would be sometime before the same techniques were used in the manufacture toilet paper - much to the annoyance of the world's collective bottom. 

The printed gift-wrap industry took off at the beginning of the 20th century and Hy-Sill Manufacturing was the first gift-wrap company to be incorporated in 1903. Early papers featured ornate depictions of Christmas finery along with guilt edges both of which were popular features on the Christmas cards of the era. Gift-wrap also became popular to use to wrap gifts for birthday and other celebrations.Aa Gift

Interestingly Hallmark, the biggest name in wrapping paper and greeting cards today, came about by accident. No, nobody tripped and spilled red and green ink onto a clean crisp sheet of paper and suddenly had a light bulb moment but there was a light bulb moment nevertheless. In 1917 in Kansas City, Missouri there was a postcard and bookstore that was run by brothers Joyce, William and Rollie Hall (the Hall brothers). A few days before Christmas that year the store ran out of stock of it's green and red tissue that was traditionally used to wrap gifts. Rather than miss out on sales the resourceful Rollie Hall ordered sheets of decorative French envelope liners (possibly destined for French Letters) from a nearby manufacturing plant and sold them for 10 cents a sheet as a replacement for the popular tissue. The decorative paper sold quickly and the following year the store sold the lining paper as gift wrap again, this time for 25 cents for three sheets. Once again they bolted out the door. Following this the brothers began printing their own gift-wrap and sales soared. The brand name Hallmark was still a ways off but the foundation had been laid for probably the most successful little card and wrap business in the world.

Gift-wrapping in the early 20th century required a certain amount of skill and success was often dependent on how you held your mouth, as sticky tape wasn't invented until 1930. Aa TapeEarly parcels were generally tied with string and secured with sealing wax. String was, of course, the precursor to more decorative gift ribbons, which would later come packaged with sheets of gift paper.

In the 1930 the designs printed on Christmas gift-wrap changed from the cherub and flourish patterns to become far more stylised as a love of all things Art Deco took hold. The often repetitive and geometric designs were based around candles, ice skaters, snowflakes and other icons we now readily associate with Christmas (even in the southern hemisphere where Christmas is celebrated in summer).

During the Second World War when rationing was put in place in a bid to ensure there was money enough to fight the war gift-wrapping was spared from becoming a rationed item as it was argued that Christmas and other celebrations boosted the morale of the people. They were right as sales of wrapping paper actually increased by around 20 percent during the wartime years.

In the 1950s and 60s wrapping paper motifs once again became more realistic and started to include photographic prints.

In the 1970s and 80s, when TV and film producers realised the value of film tie-ins and the popularity of licensed products, Star Wars, Thunderbirds, Battlestar Galactica and various cartoon character imagery began to adorn wrapping papers. Now you could have Elmer Fudd exclaiming "Wat's a Wap!" right there on your gift parcel.

Aa Gift BagThe 80s also saw the introduction of paper and plastic gift bags adorned with bright imagery. Although they weren't a 'new' idea as the Victorians often gave gifts in paper bags. The introduction of stick-on bows and curling ribbon around this time also helped the general populous perfect their gift-wrapping techniques.

So from the Egyptians fiddling around with the paper reed, through to the 'independent' development of paper milling, through to tying your fingers together as you tried to wrap a gift, through to perfecting repetitive printing techniques, through to Darth Vader adorning your Swing Ball set under the Christmas tree it has indeed been a long journey for the art of gift wrapping. And all just so you can wrap up Dad's socks and maintain that all-important element of Aa Sockssurprise!

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Girls Buying for Guys - Tips for Buying Gifts for Men


ConfusedStruggling to buy gifts for men? It’s often said that men are hard to buy for. In truth I think buying for anyone of the opposite sex can be hard. This blog, however, is focusing on addressing the often-daunting situation of a woman buying for a man. It is written by a man and will hopefully give ladies some pointers on what make men tick and how to choose the right gift for them. Bear in mind that this won’t be an exhaustive solution to buying for every man but it should go someway to helping those that struggle with the task.

The first thing to do, I would say, is decide on your budget. It’s pretty easy to get carried away when buying gifts for anyone and you can find yourself second-guessing yourself about whether the gift seems like enough. If you set your budget and stick to it that will keep you from over-spending. When it comes to choosing a budget you need to decide how well you know the recipient. If he’s only an acquaintance then $20 to $30 is a good rule of thumb (any more could seem weird or make him uncomfortable). If he is someone close like a brother or husband then the sky is the limit but you’d still do well to decide on a budget and stick to it.

That being said sometimes men’s favourite things can be pretty expensive. Quality electronics and tools for instance are often high-priced. If you know he is in the market for something of this nature don’t be afraid to give him a gift card for the store where the item can be purchased. Even if you can’t give him the item outright you can at least help him along the way.

Once your budget is sorted you’ll need to get to know a bit about your male recipient if you don’t already. What’s their favourite hobby or pastime? What makes them tick? What do they live for? Music, cars, sports? Are they an artist, a handyman or a hunter? Don’t be afraid to ask, as men will generally tell you outright. The old adage that says if a man says he’s thinking about nothing he generally means it is pretty true so you’ll probably get the info you need straight from the horses mouth. If you’d rather not ask or it’s a surprise you can canvas his friends or his family for info on his personality and likes.

In general (and this article will be filled with generalisations) men like practical gifts and things that have a purpose. Practicality is, of course, entirely relative as even a canvas print or a vase has a practical application, which is to dress up a room Gift Boxesand hold flowers respectively. Tools, gadgets and things men can use are generally winners as long as they are for legitimate purposes. A post level for a handyman or a pair of pruning sheers for a gardener are good ideas but a gadget that removes stones from tire tread may have limited appeal and use and may not be quite so well received. Again though it’s relative to the recipient. To the proud car enthusiast that sort of gadget may be just what they wanted.

So by now you have a budget, you know a bit about him and are armed with the fact that practical gifts are generally a good bet so at this point you may already have all the info you need to hit the shops (or the internet). A bit of browsing and imagination might be all you need from here on in. A good illustration of this is a gift my wife gave me for my birthday one year. It was a machine that punches guitar picks out of old credit cards. It played to my interests (I play guitar and I always lose my picks) and it has a practical aspect (I can put a card or any flat plastic in it and punch out a pick whenever I need one). To this day I maintain that it is one of the best, most well suited gifts I’ve ever received.

One hurdle with buying for men is that they often buy what they need when they need it so it makes it a little harder to put a list of ideas together because by the time you identify that he needs a particular item he’ll often already have it. This means that you’ll probably need to apply a little imagination to your gift selection process. One suggestion to overcome this is to think about an item your gift recipient recently bought and perhaps choose an accessory for it or another in the series.

Happy Gift GiverIf you’ve exhausted all your options and still can’t come up with a suitable gift idea or the above pointers haven’t helped at all you could always suggest that you go shopping for a gift together and that he chooses the store. This one will probably only work if you have a close relationship with the recipient and don’t mind spending time together. Bear in mind when guys shop they generally like to go into a store select what they want and get out as quickly as possible so it probably won’t be a long excursion. You may want to plan to have a coffee or a beer somewhere nice too to make it seem like a decent outing.

Best of luck!
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What are They Saying about you Dad?

 

I didn't have a stable father figure growing up but fortunately my mother did a pretty good job of keeping the family boat afloat. Nevertheless I am a father now and I strive to be the best one I can be. So in honour of fathers everywhere here's what 'they've' been saying about us...

Happy Father's Day!
Sunday 1 September 2013
 
*When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Author unknown
*Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope. - Bill Cosby
*Why are men reluctant to become fathers?  They aren't through being children. - Cindy Garner

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*You will find that if you really try to be a father, your child will meet you halfway. - Robert Brault
*Two little girls, on their way home from Sunday school, were solemnly discussing the lesson.  "Do you believe there is a devil?" asked one.  "No," said the other promptly.  "It's like Santa Claus:  it's your father." - Ladies' Home Journal
*Any man can be a father.  It takes someone special to be a dad. - Author Unknown
*A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty. - Author Unknown
*He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. - Clarence Budington Kelland
*A father is a banker provided by nature. - French Proverb
*When I was a kid, I said to my father one afternoon, 'Daddy, will you take me to the zoo?' He answered, 'If the zoo wants you, let them come and get you.' - Jerry Lewis
*Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. - Ruth E. Renkel
*By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong. - Charles Wadsworth
*The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. - Author Unknown
*A man knows when he is growing old because he begins to look like his father. - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
*Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected. - Red Buttons
*Small boy's definition of Father's Day: It's just like Mother's Day only you don't spend so much. - Unknown

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