Steve's Articles Published in:

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This is the informal part of the web site.
People without a sense of humour and those easily offended, for their own safety, should not proceed further :-)

Currently, all the published articles stored here are written by Steve Punter. But that's only because the other Associates 'haven't got around to it yet'. Steve's views are his own and not necessarily shared by other STA Associates, staff members or our clients. Most of these articles should be read with your tongue jammed firmly in cheek. Your own cheek, of course.

None of these articles, or any part of these articles, may be used, copied or duplicated or distributed in any form whatever without written permission from the Author.
Students are welcome to use extracts from these articles for the purposes of creating their assignments, in return we expect the source to be recognised.

These articles are written in NZ for the home audience (or overseas Corporates with operations in NZ) and in the context of the NZ legal system. The articles are written for interest and debate only and are not offered as qualified legal advice. No charge or fee is received by the Author from the reader.


About Steve Punter     As a young turk Steve went to sea with the Union Steam Ship Company but didn’t like being away so much. After going AWOL for 4 days during a Melbourne wharfie's strike (as you do), the punishment applied was the catalyst to return to girlfriends and home. During his 11 years as a volunteer Instructor with NZ Cadet Forces (Sea Cadet Corps), the Navy threatened to repossess an old 40-foot Officers Liberty Boat they'd lent his Unit - to teach kids with - unless he got his skipper's ticket. After bribing Examiners at the MOT Nautical School, his CLM (RLL in those days) duly arrived, the Navy relented, the kids continued to learn to drive boats, and to make some money out of the ticket he spent some years as a relieving charter skipper while at the same time holding down a ‘proper job’ on shore in various management positions. After a spell at University to find out why he did what he was already doing, he set up Staff Training Associates Ltd, and as a result hardly ever gets to go to sea. His goal in life is to discover how other people afford boats.

Getting what you want (Jan-Feb/04)                                                pdf version  
Ever had trouble convincing other people that they should ‘follow your lead’, to get them to do what you want them to do? Most of us Humans like to be liked, we like to please, but whether consciously or unconsciously, we have an internal drive to satisfy our own needs and concerns too. ‘What’s in it for me’ – otherwise known as a ‘WIFM’, will form part of my decision to support you or not.  


Going the extra 1.6Km's (Nov-Dec/03)                                           pdf version  

Doesn’t have the same ring, does it? I wonder if Roman Centurions ever discussed among themselves how some of their Legionaries had that special ‘something’ that made them stand out, perhaps commenting ‘Ave! There goes a Legionary that is prepared to transit the extra league’.  


Claims of Extravagance (Sep-Oct/03)                                              pdf version

The Grievance Industry, on its way to another apparent stunning success, has run smack into a Government that, in spite of being ham-strung throughout its history by hand-wringing sack-cloth-and-ashes-wearing penitents and apologists, seems to suddenly have discovered its testicles.


Quality is free? (Jul/03)

Safe Ship Management System. Total Quality Management. ISO 9000. Quality Assurance. Quality Control. It’s all so confusing… Is it really worth all the hassle? In the old days it was a simple battle between you and the inspector, and your boat either passed or it didn’t, and if it didn’t you were told what had to be done.


Want your own piece of Paradise? (Mar/03)

Vanuatu. The rainy season. I alternate between being steamed in the rain showers, and then baked in the sunshine. My book has curled up at the edges. My fags won’t smoke properly. They drive on the wrong side of the bloody road and there are no speed limits. I can’t log on to clear email. Even the slightest scratch of the skin has to be covered or is instantly invaded by persistent and very cunning flies. The ground trembles at least once a week from earthquakes, and cyclones happen here, too. What would it be like to be permanently based here? Actually, I think I could handle it.


Customer Service... Or not... (Jan/03)

As we lean into the front end of 2003, some of us having over-fed, over-drank and over-stressed ourselves during the so-called ‘festive’ season, I find myself writing on a topic I wrote about nearly ten years ago. Customer Service – or should I say – the appalling lack of it in general terms. Nothing seems to have changed in that time. I think the hour has come for us all to get tough. The Customer pays for service, but all too often doesn’t get it. The employer pays wages so that staff will provide service. All too often they don’t, but still accept their wages. The employment Agreement is a two-way document, providing rewards in return for performance. This article is a ‘Call to Action’.


Workplace Stress? - I'm all wOSH'd out (Nov/02)

I’m ‘all for’ safety in the workplace. I’m also ‘all for’ the responsibility for safety in the workplace to settle on the shoulders of all parties, not just the employer. The latest twist in the ‘new’ Legislation before Parliament has some interesting, and potentially far-reaching implications – and neither the employer nor the employee may be pleased by the outcome.


Computers - Boon or Bane? (Sep/02)

It’s almost impossible to run a business – no matter how small – without a computer. Yet years ago we used to do it. Buy a computer today, and you’ve entered the race to keep up.  


Taking Paradigms for Granted (Jun/02)

There’s nothing surer than that the Sun will rise, the cycle of life will continue unabated, the lawnmower will need 10 pulls to start it, and the market survey person will ring just as you sit down to dinner. But what if that were suddenly not the case?  


The Pinball Wizard (Mar/02)

We all know that the theoretical approach to ‘life planning’ says to plot your specific course to reach those specific goals with measurable waypoints and a timed outcome. Ever played a pinball machine? If the pinball was a sentient being, how do you think It might feel?  


Something in the Woodpile (Nov/01)
“Economists: God’s little Sunbeams?  Not yet, but we can arrange it…” 
- On September 11th this year, two things happened simultaneously. The worst terrorist attack in modern history was one of them. Our business coming to a dead halt was the other. While the appalling events unfolded and CNN rolled remorselessly on, our telephone remained mute. For nearly 2 weeks, like a possum in the headlights, nobody seemed capable of making a decision. Now, 2 months later, things are starting to come right. However, there’s something hiding in the woodpile.  


The Shifting Sands of Competency (Sep/01)

Why is it that accident investigations often reveal situations where skilled, competent, experienced people have made basic mistakes?  Steve Punter takes a quick look at ‘states of competency’ and what they mean to those involved in training and assessment, and safety at sea.


Computers…Bark worse than Byte? Jul/01

Our children are growing up with technology – particularly the PC - that, in the 50’s, science fiction writers hardly dared to dream of. But what of the grown-up children? Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf – so afraid you won’t even try?  Or have you convinced yourself that you are somehow isolated, protected from the effects of advancing technology?


Exploiter or Exploitee – Nature at Work? (May/01)

Unions came into being because of the harsh working conditions at the beginning of the 1900’s. People actually died for the Cause. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, organisations died because of excessive Union demands. In the 1990’s, Unions withered (some died) because of the ECA. The ERA 2000 has the potential to make the Pendulum swing back again...

The Seafood Industry Council - from compulsion to oblivion? (Apr/01)
The curse of the Unions since their formation in the early 1900’s was the ‘scab’ worker, who elected not to join the Union, yet received the same benefits negotiated by that Union. Compulsory Unionism fixed that problem yet created another - an infringement of the individual’s right to choose. So the Seafood Industry Council faces the same dilemma – going from compulsory levies to voluntary membership. Can it survive after the protection of Statute is removed?

Walking on the wild side and daring to dream (Jan/01)
What is it that drives those who strike out independently in pursuit of something, risking much – sometimes all - in a gamble to succeed, and why is it that most of the population never even attempt it and thus never know what they are capable of?

Of Old Dogs and New Tricks (Aug/00)
Why is it that as we grow older and supposedly wiser, some of us repeat the same mistakes? Is there such a thing as being ‘too old to learn’? Might there be another answer? Light-hearted comments from an Old Dog. Actually, make that Lower-Middle-age Dog.

The Employment Relations Bill (Apr/00)
In NZ's parliamentary system, a Bill is a proposed (draft) new Act which, when passed by Parliament, becomes the new Law. After 9 years, the Employment Contracts Act is going to be drastically remodelled - as promised in the Governments' election campaign. How will it effect you? If you're not an employer, you may think 'this has nothing to do with me'. And you'd be wrong - perhaps expensively so.

The Cup runneth over (Jan/99)
As people travel to NZ to witness the Americas Cup, the cost of just about everything they need - both here and while they're on their way - is sky-rocketing, a cynical practice called 'gouging'. If you have a captive buyer then you can charge what you like. And they are. The prey is on the run, the predators lie in wait.

Among my souvenirs – SS TOROA (Nov/98)
The first part of a ‘visioning’ process is to address the past – figuring out where you’ve come from. The past is important to us – it gives us a backdrop against which we measure ourselves, and a tapestry on which one day we ourselves will be a part – for our children to measure themselves. But at what cost?

Beat the depression with an air of positive expectancy (Jul/98)
Ever heard the expression ‘Self-fulfilling prophesy’? Simply, if enough people say ‘this situation exists’ often enough, then the situation will come to exist. If enough so-called ‘expert economists’ say that we are in a recession, then people will stop spending money or investing in new ventures, or expanding existing ones, and hey presto – you have a recession.

Sugar and spice, and all things nice (Apr/98)
At 3.40am on Wednesday 1st April, 5lb 11oz of squalling infant arrived in this world minus any prejudices, skills, biases, clothes, land claims, soap-boxes, protest agendas, inhibitions or unrealistic expectations, and proceeded to turn what passed for order into complete chaos. A look at the mental processes we all go through during times of change.

I have a dream (apologies to Martin Luther King) (Jan/98)
If I want to catch lots of fish - commercially, legally - I have to buy a quota (if I can) from someone else, and am regulated by many laws, to maintain the fish stocks and control hygiene and safety standards. But not if I live up north and can claim certain ancestry. Then all I need is a big boat, an opinion, and a Nations apathy. Here we go again - the law is publicly flouted, the coat is trailed in the face of the law-makers, who stand irresolute and inactive. Wake up New Zealand.

Living the Life of a Sky Rocket (Nov/97)
Stress is a nasty little number that sneaks up on you and quietly dismantles you. There are ways to avoid some, reduce some, and manage the rest.

The Poor Knights Reserve - simply a matter of adjustment (Jun/97)
Yet another tug of war is taking place over our country’s natural resources. The winners in this battle appear to be 'yet another minority group' (that is, the small number of our citizens who like to dive and watch fish swimming around), the losers of course are anyone and everyone else, including those who don’t dive, don’t want to dive, and who just want to catch those same fish and eat them.

Our Fishery - Dividing up the spoils (Apr/97)
The Human Rights Act says all New Zealanders are to be treated equal. The Government has just given away 40% of the nation's entire Fishery to a small minority group who make up 10% of the population, for no other reason than because they are Maori. It seems there is one Law for the people and another for the Government, and that equality is a tradeable commodity linked to political expedience.

In Praise of Alcohol and Freedom from Oppression (Feb/97)
Once again some changes are mooted - that of Registration of boats, Licensing of boaties, and giving the police power to test for and prosecute drunk boaties-in-charge. Steve pokes a bit of fun at the contra arguments and finishes on a serious note.

Of Charter boats, cups, and fairie tales (Oct/96)
After years of being ignored but billed anyway, Charter boats are being forced to move from where the business is, to a place where the business isn't, and all in the name of the Americas Cup (assisted by big money development interests).

In praise of the gentle Deckie (Jun/96)
There's a move afoot to legislate a new requirement for commercial boats to carry a Deckie. For the owner-operator who barely makes a living working the boat alone, this may be the coup-de-grace.

Licensed to kill - or not, in NZ anyway (Apr/96)
You don't need a license to operate a pleasure boat in NZ. Here's just a couple of gems that lead me to believe that the situation needs to change... and soon.

Staff Training Associates Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand.
© Steve Punter 2004 All rights reserved by the author.  

Page updated 1st August 2004

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