Beating the Butter Lobby


Over the years we as a Nation have been saddled with some of the most stupid edicts. Most were brought about by self interest pressure groups. I remember one that for me was a pain in the butt. I had suffered a heart attack, after a short spell in Hospital. My Cardiac surgeon suggested that I change my diet, and initially switch from eating butter, over to Margarine. Why that’s easy, I hear you say. Well it wasn’t back then. We had a farmer’s lobby that was all powerful, and selfish. As well several of their ilk, were actually members of our Parliament. They had persuaded fellow Parliamentarians to pass a law that any Margarine products in New Zealand was only to be sold by Pharmacists. To buy it, you required to make a doctors visit, obtain a prescription even to buy it. We were going to eat their butter, like it or like it not. Anyone who had been advised medically to include margarine in their diet, disliked this marketing situation. Naturally there wasn’t a high turnover for this product being sold this way. I and many others found it uneatable. Many chemists didn’t store it under refrigeration. Many times it had become oxidised by sitting too long on shelves, and of course was then rancid. To put it bluntly. It didn’t just taste nice.


At this time I had several foreign clients, one who I had assisted in many small ways, sent in an employee to find out if there was some way they could repay me. I said, ‘yes there was a small matter’. I then mentioned that the next time they travelled over to New Zealand, it would be appreciated if they could bring me over a couple of packs of Margarine? They were astonished when I explained what the situation was here. One asked, ‘May he use my telephone for a call to Australia’? I said fine, ‘Go ahead’. He called a Qantas captain who just happened to be renting an apartment his wife owned in Sydney. He requested that this pilot arrange for himself, or a fellow pilot coming over to Christchurch that day, stop off and buy a carton of Margarine, and bring it to New Zealand. He would immediately fly to Christchurch in the French Families Cessna 360 twin (They flew this aircraft over every visit, for servicing and pleasure). And he would pick up the margarine package. Before I left my office that night, this pilot called again and placed on my desk, a carton of margarine. At the time I think it was under 20 cents a pot. Of really no great commercial value. Word of this deed soon flashed around the town. Very soon I was fielding calls from people that I knew and who lived in the area. All had similar heart problems. ‘Please, Could I spare a pot’? One even said, ‘I will pay. How much do I owe you’? I replied, ‘Don’t even ask’. ‘If you only knew the true price when it was all added up’. What with the intangibles and kind, you wouldn’t want to pay the true price. Calling in a favour from a Qantas captain. Purchase price from the store. Charter flight from Queenstown Christchurch and return. I think the French family, well and truly paid any perceived debt that they considered that I was owed. In very short order, I was left with an empty carton and only two pots. But a lot of happy friends when they spread it on their toast every morn. I did the same with sausages, I made some after obtaining sausage cases from the local butcher, determined to make my own. Sausages were also a no, no, food for cardiac sufferers, because of their high fat content. Again, I soon had a back door trade. No money to be made here as they were all freebies. However personally, I found these sausages made without fat, just too dry and tasteless, but there seemed to be a huge demand out in the community. I even suggested to my butcher friend who had supplied my cases that he do the same commercially.



Years ago especially after the War, many things we needed to import, were subject to very stringent licensing. This applied to motor vehicles. This situation gave dealers a very unfair position. Of course many took advantage of the situation, and immediately demanded a late model ‘tradein’ before selling any vehicle at very favourable terms to them. They were actually getting two bites of the cherry. This restriction on importing cars meant that many of us had to make do with old cars, dating back to prewar. This situation now demanded the country employ an veritable army of mechanics. Every petrol retailer had staff on hand to carry out regular repair and maintenance work on our old cars. Valve grinds, bearings, new Piston rings, Cylinder rebores, all were required after a small mileage. Lubes and oil changes every 1,000 miles. (My current Japanese model only requires this to be carried out annually). As well, I don’t think any of this work will be required in a car’s service life. Today we expect any motor car to run 200,000 to 300,000 Km. before it requires major attention to it’s engine. There is only one country I know of today in a similar situation that we were in, and that’s Cuba.


We have another group of people amongst us who if they were allowed to rule without restraint would bring about many changes for the worse and have a detrimental effect on our lives. I’m talking about the Green Party. The majority have high ideals and carry pose no threat at all. But they carry within their culture many zealots with extreme views. Sure they want save our planet, and it’s wild life, but if you took the time to read their manifesto, while some of their provisions are noble, but some others should ever they gain power could turn our lives into a hell on earth.