Ghosts in #gigatownoamaru

October 31, 2013

It would be hard to beat this creative celebration of Halloween in #gigatownoamaru:

 Ghosts in #gigatownoamaru

It’s the work of Golding Arts.

Find out more at Oamaru Haunting.


USA fracking helps NZ dairying

October 31, 2013

Tweet of the day:

Federated Farmers@FedFarmers 46m

Fracking will mean the United States will be energy self-sufficient that will make the US dairy Industry uncompetitive. ..good news that!

We like good news for dairying in #gigatownoamaru .


How to vote for #gigatownoamaru

October 31, 2013

Look how easy it is to vote for #gigatownoamaru to be the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown:


Word of the day

October 31, 2013

Rectalgia – pain in the rectum; proctalgia; what all the other towns feel about #gigatownoamaru leading the race to be the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.


Rural round-up

October 31, 2013

Irrigation benefits all clear – Andrew Ashton:

The benefits North Otago communities continue to receive from local irrigation schemes have been highlighted to two Government Ministers.

The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC) yesterday invited Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew to tour irrigation schemes across North Otago, and Mr Guy said the tour, which took in farms and irrigation schemes between Weston and Glenavy, had reinforced the ”huge benefits” of irrigation to North Otago. . . .

Another benefit to the area would be if New Zealand’s sharpest town, #gigatownoamaru becomes the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.

– Allan Barber:

When Eoin Garden retires as Silver Fern Farms’ chairman at the AGM in December, both cooperatives will have had a change at the top within three months of each other. So the big question is whether this will make any difference to the way they operate: will there be a significant change of culture and leadership from the top or will it be much the same as before?

The Meat Industry Excellence Group is obviously hopeful of getting its preferred directors elected to the SFF board with Richard Young, MIE’s chairman until recently, and Poverty Bay farmer Dan Jex-Blake resigning from MIE to stand for election in their respective wards.

There is also one MIE aligned candidate standing for the Alliance board, long time supplier Don Morrison, although Fonterra director John Monaghan was keen to stand, but was rejected by the Alliance board under the terms of the company’s constitution. MIE chairman John McCarthy says “this is a real slap in the face for Alliance shareholders” who want to see change and in his opinion “is typical of what’s wrong with the meat industry.” . . .

Irrigation progress welcomed in Otago and Rangitikei:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming new investment of $750,000 into irrigation projects in Central Otago, and $100,000 in the Rangitikei, coming from the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“There is major unrealised potential across the country for further irrigation development, and these two projects will help unlock that.

“This is about creating jobs and exports, particularly in provincial New Zealand. It will play a major part in realising the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025.”

The Central Otago funding will go towards backing the next stage of the Manuherikia Catchment Strategic Water Study. . .

Scientists redesigning orchards to increase fruit production:

Research that will literally shed more light on fruit trees could revolutionise the way crops such as apples are grown.

Plant and Food Research scientists are investigating new orchard planting systems, putting to the test the theory that trees and vines that receive more light could produce a lot more fruit.

Research leader Stuart Tustin says it could mean completely changing the way orchards are designed to allow more light to reach the trees’ canopies. . .

Dr Nigel Perry wins NZIC prize:

Plant & Food Research’s Dr. Nigel Perry has been awarded the 2013 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Prize for Industrial and Applied Chemistry. Dr Perry was recognised for his focus on the discovery and development of biologically active natural products.

With his colleagues in Plant & Food Research and the Chemistry Dept of the University of Otago, he has combined fundamental chemistry knowledge with a drive to establish practical applications. Nigel works with medical and agricultural researchers, Māori groups, and New Zealand and international companies.

He is an inventor on six patents, including one on an insect attractant now in commercial use around the world. Much of this work is documented in confidential technical reports to clients, but he has also published many papers on applied chemistry, on three main themes: . . .

New funding for plant science:

Plant & Food Research has received funding for two projects in the latest Marsden fund which will study how plants grow and adapt, fundamental science that will ultimately inform future crop breeding and growing practices.

One of the projects will investigate how ancient plant ancestors may have adapted to an environment with high UV radiation, providing better understanding of how plants may respond to future climate change.

“The emergence of plants onto land was one of Earth’s major evolutionary events, but at that time the environment had a number of challenges, including high levels of damaging UV radiation,” says Dr Kevin Davies. “Our research will look at liverworts, the closest living relative of the first land plants, and study how these plants adapt the production of pigment molecules to counteract the effects of UV. This will, in turn, provide some understanding of how plants may adapt and respond to shifts in environmental conditions as a result of predicted global climate change.” . . .

Wakatipu partnership to target wilding pines:

A partnership between DOC, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, LINZ and the local community aims to clear thousands of hectares of wilding pines in the Wakatipu Basin over the next five years, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“Wilding pines are a significant risk to the natural ecology of the Wakatipu Basin. This partnership is about stepping up the efforts to control these tree weeds and protect the landscapes that make Queenstown such an iconic visitor destination,” Dr Smith told a meeting of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) in Queenstown this evening.

“This project illustrates the benefits of DOC’s new focus on partnering with others to deliver conservation gains. These tree weeds are as much of a problem on private and council land as they are on public conservation land. It makes sense that we have a co-ordinated effort to control their spread, maximise the use of new technology, and work together to roll back the infestation,” he says. . .


Jobs go jobs come

October 31, 2013

Jobs go.

It’s hard for everyone involved but for all sorts of reasons businesses change and the number of people they employ does too,

Sometimes it’s because of the introduction of more automation or the introduction of new technology which improves productivity but reduces the need for so many staff.

Sometimes it’s because a business loses customers or fails completely.

Fortunately while jobs go they also come and there’s good news for the Clutha District with 40 new jobs for Finegand from new casings plant.

A new added value casing facility at Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand plant will see 40 new roles created in the Clutha region.

Silver Fern Farms’ Chief Executive Keith Cooper says the million dollar facility will take previously exported part-processed “green lamb runners” through to a processed sausage casing stage for export markets across the world.

“This development will create 40 new full time roles across our Balclutha – Finegand operations. It will create value from a product that will add to the profitability of our sheep meat business in the short-medium term,” Mr Cooper says.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan, who previously worked in a casing plant, says the move is good news for Balclutha’s Ready Steady Work programme.

“We have a Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs initiative for Clutha, which is aiming for zero unemployment for youth in the Clutha District. Silver Fern Farms have been a supporter of this programme from the start. These 40 new roles in our district will be a great help for our ambitions of realising this goal,” Mr Cadogan says.

Green casings will be brought to Finegand from four Silver Fern Farms’ plants across the country, making it one of the larger casing facilities in New Zealand Mr Cooper says.

“The plant will be operational year-round so our customers can have a reliable and high quality source of clean, salted casings.”

Previously the green runners had been exported in part-processed form to China for further processing.

Finegand previously had a casing facility which closed in 2005 due to the then demand for green runners. The new facility has a process which is forecast to use less than half of the water requirements of the previous system.

Forty new jobs is significant for a small town.

It’s good news for the people who will get jobs and the wider district.

This time next year one town or city in New Zealand will get a boost that will lead to more jobs when it becomes Chorus’s #gigatown.

New Zealand’s sharpest town, Oamaru, is doing it’s best to become the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown – #gigatownoamaru.


Thursday’s quiz

October 31, 2013

It’s a short week and I have a long to-do list so am leaving the questions up to you.

There’s electronic banana cakes for anyone who stumps us all and bonus electronic chocolate cakes for everyone who manages to put #gigatownoamaru in their questions.


How to help #gigatownoamaru

October 31, 2013

Helping New Zealand’s Sharpest town and Steampunk capital become the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown is easy:

Heres how to vote for @[700833886602006:274:Gigatown Oamaru] - you can use either #gigatownoam or #gigatownoamaru whichever is easiest! Voting starts today! Get sharing!

Posts have to be public to count – but you can make individual posts public without making your whole Facebook page public.

And register your blog at #gigatown then each post and comment with #gigatownoamaru or #gigatownoam adds a point.


Monorail decision a tough one

October 31, 2013

Conservation Minister Nick Smith faces a tough decision over whether or not the Fiordland Monorail goes ahead:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today inspected the site of the proposed Fiordland monorail, met with the applicants, and released official advice recommending he approve the project subject to extensive conditions.

“This ambitious $200 million project involves the building of the world’s longest monorail to enhance the experience of the hundreds of thousands of visitors travelling between Queenstown and Milford Sound,” Dr Smith says.

“I wanted to see for myself the areas affected by the construction of the two terminals and the 29.5-kilometre long, six-metre wide corridor that would be cleared to make way for the monorail through public conservation land. I also wanted to thoroughly scrutinise the impacts on the Snowdon Forest and its wildlife, as well as understanding the effects on the existing recreational users of the area.

“This monorail decision will be no easier than that of the Milford Tunnel. I am very protective of National Parks like Fiordland and this project has the advantage of being largely outside it. However, the monorail still requires clearance of a large area of forest on public conservation land. The submissions process also shows there are strongly held views both in support and in opposition to this project.

“I am releasing the official reports from DOC and the Hearing Commissioner because of the level of public interest in this proposal. I want to be open about the advice I have received and the issues I must consider.

“Today I have inspected the site and met with the Hearing Commissioner and the applicants, Riverstone Holdings Limited. I also want to discuss the proposal with the New Zealand Conservation Authority and consider further advice from DOC on the World Heritage status of the area.

“Over the next few days I will be joining the 125th anniversary walk of the Milford Track and on Saturday opening the new track to the Sutherland Falls.

“I am looking forward to having some time to reflect on my site visit and the hundreds of pages of submissions and advice I have read over the past week. I hope to be in a position to make a decision before year’s end, subject to being satisfied that I have all necessary information needed to make a good decision.”

The Minister turned down a competing proposal for the Milford Dart tunnel.

“I am declining this tunnel proposal because the environmental impacts are significant and beyond what is appropriate in two of New Zealand’s most spectacular National Parks and a World Heritage Area,” Dr Smith says. . . .

The Monorail proposal is not nearly so clear cut.

It goes through conservation land but it doesn’t go through a National Park. The Hearings Commissioner and the Department of Conservation have recommended it goes ahead.

Those recommendations have not been made lightly and are subject to significant conditions, but will give RHL some hope.

Opposition has been vocal and widespread. However, a poll showed public support for the proposal:

A public opinion poll has this month confirmed more than twice as many New Zealanders support the development of tourism infrastructure like the Fiordland monorail than are opposed.

“The Fiordland Link Experience is designed to be a world-class tourism experience. It’s really encouraging that the public recognises the significant benefits it will bring to New Zealand despite some misinformation spread by a small group of vocal opponents,” says Bob Robertson, Director of Riverstone Holdings Ltd.

The Curia Market Research survey found that 58% of New Zealanders supported the development of the monorail outside of National Park land. Only 27% opposed it. When broken down, the results showed there was more support than opposition regardless of gender, age or political leanings. . . 

Robertson has a reputation for carefully and attractively developed urban subdivisions.

Housing developments in town can’t be compared to this proposal for a new tourist route to Milford Sound through mostly undeveloped countryside. But the attention to detail and focus on aesthetics which help the subdivisions fit in with the landscape will be applied to the Monorail project.

Opponents have used the argument the development would threaten Fiordland’s World Heritage status. Robertson describes  that as scaremongering:

. . . These same opponents have lobbied UNESCO and continue to tell anyone who will listen that the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage status of the region will be stripped if the project is approved. The World Heritage area covers 2.6m hectares and includes roads, towns and quarries.

This scaremongering would be laughable if it wasn’t so destructive.

We only need to look across the Tasman to see how a tourism development can be successfully achieved in a World Heritage area.

When the Cairns Skyrail was being proposed for the Barron Gorge National Park in the 1990s there were marches in the street and protesters attempted to block construction.

The same arguments we are seeing now in Fiordland are the carbon copy of those used in Cairns.

Fortunately, the Australian government understood the project and it was approved.

It went on to win multiple tourism awards as best major attraction and for environmental sustainability, including the international Wet Tropics Management Authority Cassowary Award in 1999 for “demonstrating best practice in ecotourism during construction and ongoing operation”.

In New Zealand, there is an elitist sentiment among some that we should lock up our conservation estate for the few who are capable of physically reaching it. They believe business has no place in nature.

In reality, 44 per cent of the South Island is in the conservation estate and hosts about 2800 commercial concessions, including roughly 500 that are tourism or recreation-related.

It isn’t a question of either business or conservation. They can and do co- exist.

We would not be committed to the Fiordland Link Experience if we did not believe the construction and operation could be achieved with only minimal impact on the environment and recreational users.

The reasoning is simple – we want to celebrate our nature and show it off. It is in our interests to protect nature, because that’s the experience we’re selling.

As a hunter and fisher who has spent thousands of hours in the surrounding area, I know there is room for a world- class tourism experience.

It will reinvigorate the tourism market in Fiordland, stimulate the economy, bring jobs and enable us to market the entire region, including Te Anau, to the world. All without a cent of taxpayer money. . . .

This is a big project, a bold project but it has been carefully thought through and planned to tread as lightly as possible in a sensitive area.

It will impact on the environment, as any development does, but I think that can be minimised and mitigated.

It will open a small part of the conservation estate to more tourists without in any way detracting from the wilderness experience for those who enjoy it in the neighbouring National Park.

Bob Robertson has a dream, the Minister has the unenviable task of deciding whether or not it will become a reality.

Apropos of dreams,  Gravedodger has one too over at No Minister which is worth a read.

P.S. The decision to make New Zealand’s Sharpest town, the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown is far easier – #gigatownoamaru is the logical choice.


All Hallows Eve

October 31, 2013

This is the day I usually do my bah-humbug post lamenting the introduction of Halloween to New Zealand.

It’s so far in time and place from its origins.

Children making their own costumes and calling on neighbours who knew them might have been okay but children in outfits bought by parents calling on strangers is just tacky.

However, I’m setting my bah-humbug aside today to celebrate Oamaru Haunting.

It’s an augmented reality experience created by Derek Golding, a talented and imaginative photographic artist whose work you can see at Golding Arts.

The All Hallows Eve event starts at the Criterion in Oamaru’s historic precinct after nightfall tonight.

Even if you’re not going to be able to be there you can download the app and experience a little of the creativity that makes  #gigatownoamaru so special.


Regions are just fine thanks

October 31, 2013

The Opposition, which has almost no MPs who live in the regions has suddenly discovered us and is trying to talk us down in the hope we’ll believe their sad stories and then back them to make it all better.

Those of us who live in the regions don’t appreciate their negativity when we’re doing fine thanks, and we’ll do even better without the policies the left is promoting.

Forget the sorry fiction from the Opposition, Prime Minister John Key has the facts:

. . . New Zealand was one of the fastest growing economies in the OECD in 2012.

Business and consumer confidence levels are high, and manufacturing and services indices are at high levels.

And our growth is being led out of our regions, with just-released export figures showing a lift in primary sector exports this quarter.

The dairy industry, food and beverage generally, and the forestry sector, are important contributors to New Zealand’s economy. 

And that’s reflected in the strength of our regions, nearly all of which have lower unemployment than Auckland, including the whole of the South Island.

Census 2013 shows that populations have grown in 15 of our 16 regional council areas since the last Census in 2006.

Growth rates are strong in places like the Waikato, Taranaki, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

And we have one of the smallest variations in economic activity between our regions in the whole of the developed world.

But of course we would like stronger growth rates, and that is possible if we provide more opportunities and the confidence for businesses to invest and grow.

At the highest level we are balancing the books, getting debt down, keeping tax rates competitive, and helping to keep interest rates lower for longer over the economic cycle.

This helps give businesses the confidence to raise money and invest.

At the next level, we are putting in place policies to reduce burdens on businesses — especially small business.

This includes getting ACC levies down, introducing the 90-day trial periods, reforming the RMA so it’s easier to expand a business, investing more in R&D co-funding to lift innovation, and assisting small firms to grow exports with NZTE.

The Government is also encouraging some key commercial projects in the regions to help lift growth.

In Hawke’s Bay that means projects like irrigation, and oil and gas exploration; in Northland it’s treaty settlements, land productivity and the Puhoi to Wellsford highway.  And in the Manawatu it’s the Food HQ project, and the highway link to Wellington.

Of course, any discussion of what we’re doing wouldn’t be complete without mention of probably our most transformational project — the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband and rural broadband.

Some $1.1 billion of the $1.65 billion UFB programme is being invested outside of Auckland and Christchurch.

It will lift connectivity and productivity for businesses right across New Zealand.

Faster broadband is already helping businesses in our area.

An engineer is consulting on projects in Africa from his home on a farm near us.

Farms are using smart phones in the paddocks and yards to transfer stock records to the office.

It will be even better here  if the country’s Smartest town,Oamaru, becomes @gigatownoamaru the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.

But I digress, back to the speech and the reality that the Opposition which talks of helping is promoting policies that will do a lot of harm:

The Opposition is talking the regions down at the moment, but that is just politics.

Actually, the policies they are promoting would damage regional economies.

A recipe of more taxes, nationally-equalised pay rates no matter where you live, a rollback of employment law reform, higher ACC rates and a reversal of RMA reforms would severely damage growth.

It is the National-led Government that has the vision, the agenda, and the projects to lift the growth rate of our regions even further.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our careful, considered plans are working.

The economy is growing, and we are on track for 2 to 3 per cent annual growth over the next few years.

This will put us among the fastest growing developed countries in the world.

Wages are increasing.  Household incomes are growing.  Mortgage interest rates are at 50-year lows and cost of living increases have been very modest indeed.

Some 65,000 net new jobs have been created in the last two years and the unemployment rate is expected to drop as the economy gathers strength.

Business and consumer confidence are improving as we see momentum build towards a stronger, more stable, economy that delivers higher incomes and more jobs.

The crucial thing now is to stay the course and truly obtain the long-term benefits for our families and communities that we have all been working hard for. . . 

We’ve made a lot of progress and we’re getting results but we’re not there yet and letting the Opposition deliver more of the policies which put us into recession before the global financial crisis hit would undo all the good that’s been done.

 

We're providing more opportunities and the confidence for businesses all around New Zealand to invest and grow.  http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleID=42380


October 31 in history

October 31, 2013

475  Romulus Augustulus was proclaimed Western Roman Emperor.

1517  Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

1587  Leiden University Library opened.

1795  John Keats, British poet, was born (d. 1821).

1822  Emperor Agustín de Iturbide attempted to dissolve the Mexican Empire.

1860 Juliette Low, American founder of the Girl Scouts (d. 1927)

1861  American Civil War: Citing failing health, Union General Winfield Scott resigned as Commander of the United States Army.

1863  The Land Wars resumed as British forces in New Zealand led by General Duncan Cameron began their Invasion of the Waikato.

1864  Nevada was admitted as the 36th U.S. state.

1876  A monster cyclone ravaged India, resulting in over 200,000 deaths.

1887  Chiang Kai-shek, Nationalist Chinese leader, former Republic of China president, was born(d. 1975).

1908 Muriel Duckworth, Canadian activist, was born (d. 2009).

1913 Dedication of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States.

1913 – The Indianapolis Street Car Strike and subsequent riot began.

1917  World War I: Battle of Beersheba – “last successful cavalry charge in history”.

1918  Banat Republic was founded.

1920  Dick Francis, British jockey-turned-novelist, was born (d. 2010).

1923 The first of 160 consecutive days of 100 degrees at Marble Bar, Australia.

1924  World Savings Day was announced in Milan by the Members of the Association at the 1st International Savings Bank Congress (World Society of Savings Banks).

1926 Magician Harry Houdini died of gangrene and peritonitis that developed after his appendix ruptured.

1931  Dan Rather, American television journalist, was born.

1938  Great Depression: In an effort to restore investor confidence, the New York Stock Exchange unveiled a fifteen-point programme aimed to upgrade protection for the investing public.

1940   The Battle of Britain ended.

1941  After 14 years of work, drilling was completed on Mount Rushmore.

1941   The destroyer USS Reuben James was torpedoed by a German U-boat near Iceland, killing more than 100 United States Navy sailors.

1941  A fire in a clothing factory in Huddersfield, England killed 49

1943  World War II: An F4U Corsair accomplished the first successful radar-guided interception.

1949  Bob Siebenberg, American drummer (Supertramp), was born.

1954 Algerian War of Independence: The Algerian National Liberation Front began a revolt against French rule.

1956 Suez Crisis: The United Kingdom and France began bombing Egypt to force the reopening of the Suez Canal.

1963  An explosion at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum (now Pepsi Coliseum) in Indianapolis killed 74 people during an ice skating show.

1968  Vietnam War October surprise: Citing progress with the Paris peace talks, US President Lyndon B. Johnson announced  he had ordered a complete cessation of “all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam” effective November 1.

1973  Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape. Three Provisional Irish Republican Army members escaped from Mountjoy Prison aboard a hijacked helicopter.

1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two security guards.

1985 Keri Hulme’s novel The Bone People won the Booker Prize.

Keri Hulme’s Bone people wins Booker Prize

1986  The 5th congress of the Communist Party of Sweden was inaugurated. During the course of the congress the party name is changed to the Solidarity Party and the party ceases to be a communist party.

1994  An American Eagle ATR-72 crashed in Roselawn, Indiana, after circling in icy weather, killing 68 passengers and crew.

1996  Fokker F100  TAM Transportes Aéreos Regionais Flight 402 crashed into several houses in São Paulo, Brazil killing 98 including 2 on the ground.

1998 Iraq disarmament crisis began: Iraq announced it would no longer cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors.

1999  EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, killing all 217 on-board.

1999 – Yachtsman Jesse Martin returned to Melbourne after 11 months of circumnavigating the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted.

2000   Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 Flight 006 collided with construction equipment upon takeoff in Taipei, Taiwan killing 79 passengers and four crew members.

2000 – A chartered Antonov An-26 exploded after takeoff in Northern Angola killing 50.

2000 – Soyuz TM-31 launched, carrying the first resident crew to the International Space Station. The ISS has been continuously crewed since.

2002 A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas indicts former Enron Corp. chief financial officer Andrew Fastow on 78 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to the collapse of his ex-employer.

2003 – Mahathir bin Mohamad resigned as Prime Minister of Malaysia and was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, marking an end to Mahathir’s 22 years in power.

2011 – The global population of humans reached seven billion. This day is now recognised by the United Nations as Seven Billion Day.

2013 – New Zealand’s Sharpest Town and Steampunk capital steamed ahead with its #gigatownoamaru campaign to become the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Nigel Davenport 23.5. 28 – 25.10.13

October 30, 2013

British actor Nigel Davenport has died:

Nigel Davenport, the actor, who has died aged 85, will be best remembered for playing dark, strong, rakish toffs, aggressive heroes, scowling villains – and for what he himself called his “dodgy” eyes.

Whether in films, plays or on television, Davenport’s power largely derived, some thought, from his expressive gaze. It could be even more striking in close-up. Amiable or disturbing, it caused tough guys to wilt and pretty girls to sigh. . .

He appeared in more than 40 feature films, ranging from a detective in Peeping Tom, via a tough guy among conscripts in The Virgin Soldiers, to a resourceful psychopath who (in Play Dirty) wipes out a whole army encampment on the grounds that “I didn’t like the tea”. He was also the game warden in Living Free who resigns in order to capture lion cubs and transport them to a distant game reserve, and Lord Birkenhead in Chariots of Fire. . . .


Voice of an angel

October 30, 2013

The list of talents I don’t have is long.

At the top of it, and the one I’d choose were I given the opportunity to pick just one, is the ability to sing in tune.

I love music, I enjoy singing but alas neither passion nor enthusiasm are enough to help me make a joyful noise.

We can’t all and some of us don’t sing tunefully, but some can and do – like the nine year old Dutch girl, Amira Willighagen who has been blessed with the voice of an angel.

The Huffington Post explains:

When 9-year-old Amira Willighagen from Nijmegen stepped onto the “Holland’s Got Talent” stage, no one was expecting such a big voice to come out of such a very little girl.

Her incredible rendition of Gianni Schicchi’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” earned her a Golden Ticket from the judges that would take her straight to the live show.

It’s hard to believe how young Amira is, but even more surprising to learn that she is completely self-taught, and used only YouTube tutorials to learn how to sing. . .

A longer video, with an introductory interview with Amira (in Dutch) is here.


#gigatownoam still in the lead for #gigatown

October 30, 2013

Oamaru’s campaign to be the country’s first #gigatown is continuing to go well.

#gigatownoamaru is in the lead:gigatownYou can help by putting  #gigatownoamaru or #gigatownoam in the comments; registering your Facebook page and/or Twitter account and blog at #gigatown  then writing posts with the hastags  #gigatownoamaru or #gigatownoam – whether or not the hashtags are relevant to the posts!


Word of the day

October 30, 2013

Tax – a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers’ income and business profits, or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions; an involuntary fee levied on corporations or individuals that is enforced by a level of government in order to finance government activities; fee charged (levied) by a government on a product, income, or activity; a burdensome charge, obligation, duty or demand; a strain or heavy demand; to impose a tax, lay a burden or make heavy demand on someone or something; to demand a tax in consideration of the possession or occurrence of (income, goods, sales, etc.), usually in proportion to the value of money involved; to take to task; censure; reprove; accuse.


Rural round-up

October 30, 2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Puts Case to Washington:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and representatives from other Five Nations Beef Alliance partners have called on Washington’s Capitol Hill to promote a unified view of how trade in agricultural products – and especially beef – should be treated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The TPP, which is currently being negotiated and of which New Zealand is a participant, aims to open up trade in goods and services. Progress towards an outcome was most recently reviewed in Bali, where Prime Minister John Key chaired the meeting of the 12 TPP negotiating countries.

The Five Nations Beef Alliance is made up of the national organisations that represent beef cattle producers in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States. Collectively, the five countries account for one third of global beef production and approximately half of global beef exports. . .

New Zealand food and beverage producers need to be bulletproof:

New Zealand food and beverage producers need to ensure their operations are “bulletproof” if they want to compete in an increasingly aggressive global marketplace, an industry expert says.

Grant Thornton New Zealand Partner and National Leader, Food and Beverage, Simon Hunter, is describing the firm’s latest International Food and Beverage sector report, ‘Hunger for growth: Food and Beverage looks to the future’, as a wake-up call for the local industry.

The report, based on interviews with 248 senior executives in seven countries (including New Zealand), says 90% expect revenues to increase in the next 12 months but only half expect to employ more people. . .

Gigatown competition will change the future for one town:

Federated Farmers is excited by Chorus’s year-long competition to bring the fastest broadband speed to one New Zealand town.

“This competition is a great opportunity for rural towns,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive.

“If a rural town wins it will become the first town in the southern hemisphere to receive one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than most cities around the globe.

“New Zealand’s farmers are desperate for new ways to get onto the internet and this competition has the potential, for one fortunate town, to spark innovation and mobilise and transform their local economy and society. . . .

(This is why we’re supporting #gigatownoam and the #gigatown campaign).

Fonterra board to set up separate risk committee after food scare review – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The board of Fonterra Cooperative Group will establish a separate committee to oversee risks facing the dairy group in the wake of the false alarm food scare that prompted a precautionary recall in August.

The company’s board will carve out the risk elements from its audit, finance and risk committee into its own separate committee, which chairman John Wilson said will cover “food safety, food quality and other risks Fonterra in today’s environment faces.”

The measure was one of a raft of recommendations from the board-ordered inquiry, led by Jack Hodder QC, after recall of three batches of whey protein concentrate, which were thought to have been contaminated.

Fonterra’s handling of the fall-out was “inadequate” for the kind and size of the crisis and the company’s lack of responsiveness to external stakeholders was seen as a “fortress” mentality, the report said. . . .

Shareholders’ Council welcomes report, inquiry recommendations:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, which safeguards the interests of the dairy Co-operative’s 10,500 Shareholders, said it welcomed the completion of the Fonterra Board commissioned independent report of the WPC80 issue.

Council Chairman, Ian Brown: “The Council has received the report and we commend the Oversight Committee and the Independent Inquiry Team on the comprehensive nature of the report.

“We also commend the Board on their openness and support their decision to make the report public. . .

New health & safety regulations will increase potential penalties for employers:

The potential for higher penalties for non-compliance as a result of upcoming changes to Health and Safety regulations means employers in the high-risk agricultural sector need to be more aware than ever of their obligations, says Melissa Vining, AGRI Consultant for human resources specialists Progressive Consulting – the HR division of Crowe Horwath.

The government will establish new Crown Agent WorkSafe New Zealand by December 2013, when it also plans to introduce to parliament a new Health and Safety at Work Act, which is expected to come into force by December 2014. . . .

Xero releases farming blueprint:

Xero has released its Farming Integration Guide, a blueprint that helps rural solution providers connect to Xero and deliver integrated farm management and accounting solutions. 

Xero CEO Rod Drury says this is a great example of technology bringing an industry together. “This guide is the key step towards full integration between farmers, rural accountants, rural suppliers, banks and software providers. The innovation we’re experiencing in the tech sector is being applied directly now to the rural economy, the backbone of the NZ economy.” . . .


Same for all beats all for all

October 30, 2013

Labour has changed the messenger and hardened its message.

That’s helped shore up its core support but the polls indicate it hasn’t done much to change the total vote for the left.

There are two reasons for this – the message and the messenger.

The hard left message resonates with the left but it repels those in the centre who have to be won over to gain enough votes to govern.

Then there’s the messenger.

National’s leader John Key is consistent, he doesn’t change his message to suit what he thinks will appeal to his audience.

He talks about what he believes in and what a government led by him will do.

He is the same man for all people.

What you see and hear is what you get and you know what he stands for.

Labour’s new leader David Cunliffe has already got a reputation for trying to be all things for all people, changing his message to suit the audience.

It isn’t working and it won’t because all it does is send mixed messages and raises big questions about what he really believes in and what he really stands for.

Most voters aren’t stupid.

They want sincerity, honesty and consistency.

They get that from John Key, they’re not getting it from David Cunliffe.


Better roads, better business

October 30, 2013

I’d left plenty of time for a trip to Dunedin on Monday in case the road was busy.

I needn’t have worried.

Traffic heading north was only intermittent and I drove more than 40 kilometres before I needed to pass another car travelling south.

There were more vehicles as I got closer to Dunedin but not enough to cause problems.

Reports from further north told a very different story, including an 8km queue of traffic near Otaki.

Holiday traffic exacerbates traffic problems but better roads aren’t just required to help people get in and out of cities  more easily at long weekends.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce points out, they’re better for business:

. . . we have a lousy transport link between Wellington and the Horowhenua. You open that up, just like we’re doing with the Waikato Expressway south of Auckland, and suddenly businesses can develop along that highway in those towns leading to the capital city. The National Party’s very focused on that. We have actually got a number of projects underway – the Kapiti Expressway, Transmission Gully – but there’s a whole lot of people on the left who have got their heads in the sand about this, and I think it’s actually very sad, because they’re focussing on the area closer to Wellington, but I want to focus on those regions in Horowhenua and the Manawatu who would have great economic benefits out of that one piece of infrastructure. . .

The Opposition criticise money spent improving the road north of Auckland  and labelled it the holiday highway.

It does provide access to and from some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. But it’s also the arterial route between Northland businesses and markets in the city, further south and, via the port, further afield.

If we want the country moving forward, literally and economically, we need better roads.


Dunne’s bottom lines

October 30, 2013

Untied Future leader Peter Dunne spent three terms supporting Labour, is in his second term supporting National and is showing he could go left or right after next year’s election.

However, he’s got some bottom lines:

. . .  Mr Dunne said he would need Labour to abandon its plans for a capital gains tax, higher taxes for higher income earners, abolition of the Families Commission and opposition to the establishment of the Game Animal Council.

I wouldn’t give him much chance with the first two conditions.

Both Labour and the Green party want more taxes and higher taxes, even though those they’re promoting will do more harm than good.

The Families Commission has yet to justify its existence and the money it costs but it’s not particularly significant in the grand scheme of things. Nor is the Game Animal Council.

Dunne might get the two little things he wants but he would be much safer sticking with National which would give him the bigger ones – no capital gains tax and no envy taxes for higher earners.


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