Whatever the weather

September 17, 2014

From Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s Facebook :

This morning I attended the opening of the Tasman Valley Road with Conservation Minister, Hon Dr Nick Smith. This significant upgrade was a collaboration of NZTA and DoC to improve safety and accessibility to one New Zealand’s most beautiful alpine regions. It will have great benefits for the surrounding communities.

Jacqui Dean MP's photo.

Jacqui Dean MP's photo.

This is #TeamKey working for New Zealand whatever the weather.

The announcement on the road says:

The completed $3 million upgrade of Tasman Valley Road at Aoraki/Mount Cook was officially opened today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The major upgrade of the Tasman Valley Road is about improving the safety and accessibility to New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine environment. This new road will enable over 100,000 visitors annually to enjoy the magnificent mountain, lake and glacial views of the Tasman Valley, and the unique flora and fauna including mountain lilies and daisies, and our unique mountain parrot, the kea,” Dr Smith says.

“The upgrade unveiled today – a partnership project between the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) – will improve one of New Zealand’s iconic ‘must-visit’ destinations, and provide significant benefits for the local tourism industry.

“The original road previously ran over a very dangerous and busy 2.2-kilometre bluff section, which has now been moved and realigned to run along the Tasman Valley floor, where it follows the contours of the nearby Blue Stream. This addresses a number of safety concerns associated with high traffic volumes on a narrow and winding section of road used by large buses and campervans. The new section also reduces the potential exposure to rock falls and avalanches.”

The capital costs of the upgrade have been shared by the Department and NZTA.

“This project is a great example of the Department working in partnership with other agencies to meet the aims of all involved. The upgraded road meets the strategic investment priorities for the Department with the area being an iconic site, while also meeting the NZTA’s priorities to make improvements where there are road safety issues and high traffic volumes,” Dr Smith says.

“I encourage many New Zealanders and other visitors to the area to make good use of this new road, and enjoy one of the great sights our country has to offer.”


Rural round-up

September 16, 2014

Vigilance required with Winter Brassica Feeding:

Southland farmers are being advised to keep a close watch on cows that have been grazing or are grazing on swede crops after reports of illness, and in some cases death, on dairy farms.

“The mild winter and lush growth of leaf material on brassica crops, especially swedes, has caused problems where dairy cows have been introduced onto the late winter swedes after wintering on other types of crops,” David Green, PGG Wrightson Seeds (PGW Seeds) General Manager Seeds says.

PGW Seeds is the major supplier of forage brassica products in New Zealand.

“With extra swede leaf material available due to the unusually mild winter it appears some cows have consumed more leaf and less bulb than normal. Consuming more leaf, less bulb and less supplementary feeds during wet August conditions has combined to amplify risk factors that can cause liver disease. . .

 Police say poachers putting lives at risk:

Police in Alexandra say poachers caught on private property give a range of reasons for their offending, but many fail to realise they are putting lives at risk.

Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said poaching was widespread in the lower half of the South Island, where there were large areas of farms and forests, and plenty of people who were interested in hunting.

Mr Kerrisk estimates they receive a call from a forestry worker or farmer once a week with concerns about poachers and have recently prosecuted four people for poaching.

He said it was not easy to say why people poach animals.

“Some of them have said that they hunt because they enjoy hunting, it’s a recreational thing for them, some people have said they believe they have the right to go hunting in the bush, some people have said they need food.”

Mr Kerrisk said the concern is that they are hunting on private property without permission. . .

Protein found on sheep’s back – Nevil Gibson:

University of Otago researchers have won $1 million in government funding for a two-year project that will extract food-safe digestible protein from natural wool. 

Sheep wool is 95% protein with no fat or carbohydrates. This makes it an extremely rich protein source but until now it has been difficult to access, says Associate Professor George Dias.

“Wool-derived protein (WDP) offers an exciting opportunity to add value to New Zealand’s low-valued medium to coarse wool clip,” he says. “WDP can be produced at less than $10 a kilogram, making it extremely cost competitive relative to the gold standard whey protein isolate at $25/kg.”  . . .

$90,000 for kea conservation:

The Government is providing $90,000 from the Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the Kea Conservation Trust, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“The kea is the only alpine parrot in the world and a species endemic to our Southern Alps. The population of these inquisitive and nomadic birds is declining and it is estimated that fewer than 5000 remain. The tragedy of the kea is that over 150,000 birds were killed deliberately when there was a bounty on them for the perceived damage they caused to sheep. More recently, the biggest threat to kea survival is from pests – principally rats, stoats and possums,” Dr Smith says. . .

35-year affair with eucalypts - Alison Beckham:

Thirty-five years ago, Dipton sheep farmer Graham Milligan decided to plant a few eucalypt trees on stony ground next to the Oreti River, where his paddocks seemed to be always either flooded or burnt off.

Now he farms more trees than sheep – raising seedlings and exporting cool climate eucalypt seed all over the world. Reporter AllisonBeckham visited the man who says he loves trees so much he feels like every day on the job is a holiday.35-year affair with eucalypts

At first glance, the eucalpyt trees on Graham and Heather Milligan’s farm look similar. But as we bounce along the farm track Mr Milligan points out different varieties.

There are towering regnans grown for their timber, and nitens, now the world’s most favoured wood for biomass heating fuel. There’s baby blue, whose foliage is sought after by florists, and crenulata, with its delicate star-shaped buds, also popular at the flower markets. . . .

Farm Environment Awards Help Hort Newbies Climb Steep Learning Curve:

Horticultural newcomers Patrick and Rebecca Malley say entering the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way to build knowledge.

In 2011 the couple left jobs in Auckland to run Ararimu Orchard with Patrick’s parents Dermott and Linzi. Situated at Maungatapere near Whangarei, Ararimu grows 14ha of kiwifruit and 3.5ha of avocados.

While Patrick grew up on an apple orchard in the Hawke’s Bay, he and Rebecca knew very little about growing kiwifruit when they first arrived. So the learning curve was steep.

Rebecca says they decided to enter the 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) after talking to other people who had been involved in the competition. . . .

Water NZ Annual Conference 17 – 19 September:

Implementing Reform

Water New Zealand’s annual conference is being held this week against a backdrop of the General Election.

“Our members are pleased that political parties have released policies on improving the management of freshwater as declining water quality is consistently rated by New Zealanders as being their number one environmental concern,” Murray Gibb, chief executive of Water New Zealand said.

“It is also pleasing to see the early results of the work that Water New Zealand has been closely involved with over the past five years through the Land and Water Forum and other initiatives.”

Therefore the theme of “Implementing Reform” is appropriate at the conference being held at Hamilton’s Claudelands convention this week over 17 – 19 September. . .


Subbies’ payment to be protected

September 11, 2014

Subcontractors owed money are to get better protection for payment for work done in changes to the Construction Contracts Act approved by Government, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“It is unfair that electricians, plumbers, painters, plasterers, tilers and other subcontractors can miss out on being paid when contractors or developers use retentions money inappropriately. We are going to change the law and require retentions to be held in trust to help ensure contractors and their subcontractors get paid for the work they do,” Dr Smith says.

Retentions are payments withheld by the developer and main contractor from subcontractors so as to ensure any faults or repairs to work done can subsequently be put right. An issue arises when the developer or main contractor puts this money at risk by using it as working capital or for another project which then fails, leaving the subcontractor unpaid.

The law change will mean the developer or main contractor has a fiduciary duty to the subcontractors to hold the money in trust. The issue was highlighted with the collapse of Mainzeal where about $18 million of subcontractors’ retention money was lost for many small subcontracting businesses.

The Government has given drafting instructions for a supplementary order paper to the Construction Contracts Amendment Bill currently before Parliament. The changes will impose a trust obligation on retention moneys, prevent the money from being used for other purposes, and impose penalties where the funds for purposes not related to the specific project.

It will also provide for a default rate of interest prescribed in regulations to be applied to late payment of retention payments and clarify that the ban on ‘pay when paid’ also applies to retentions. The amendments will be introduced to the existing Construction Contracts Amendment Bill currently before Parliament.

“We have not opted for a model of requiring retention funds to be put into a separate bank account or lawyer’s trust fund as some have advocated because the compliance cost is too high. Putting a trust obligation into the law makes plain these moneys are not to be used inappropriately and should take priority over other creditors in the event of liquidation,” Dr Smith says.

“The proposals have been developed in consultation with the construction sector including subcontractors, who wish to have a flexible approach to compliance that would work across the sector.

“These changes will provide improved certainty and stability in the construction sector without excessive compliance costs. It ensures that in building contracts, the risks are carried by the developer and the principal contractor rather than by subcontractors who are less well-informed of the viability of a particular development.

“New Zealand is on the brink of the largest construction boom in 40 years according to the latest National Construction Pipeline Report, with construction activity set to grow to $32 billion per annum. This law change is about ensuring the billions held in retentions is responsibly managed.

“The changes will be welcomed by thousands of mum and dad subbie businesses and their employees across New Zealand, as it gives them greater security that they will get paid for the work they do,” Dr Smith concluded.

Subbies are usually small businesses and are at the mercy of main contractors who sometimes use retentions from one job to finance the next.

This measure lowers the risks for the subbies.

 


Labour’s housing policy shambles

August 29, 2014

Labour chose the wrong couple as the poster children for its housing policy:

David Cunliffe is backing the party’s choice of a couple used as a case study for Labour’s housing policy, after the pair conceded they weren’t actually looking to buy.

The Labour party leader and the party’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford confirmed Labour’s KiwiBuild policy at a housing development in Hobsonville yesterday with a young couple who Mr Cunliffe said would benefit from the policy. . . .

Ms Leigh said they were currently living with her parents and although they had “had a look at houses in the Auckland area” she conceded they weren’t actively in the market to buy.

“We haven’t actively been looking for a home to buy in the near future – that’s definitely not our goal – our goal is to have a home in a few years. We’re trying to start a family.” . . .

Patrick Gower wasn’t impressed either:

Labour’s campaign is listless, meandering and shambolic.

The media with him say it’s a bit of a shamble and have been reporting on it.

Reporters are doing stories about Cunliffe having curry for lunch and there are even whispers from the press pack that Cunliffe is taking naps, but I asked him straight up yesterday and he said “no”, no nana-naps, only the odd bit of kip while in the car (which isn’t a crime). 

I took a look at Cunliffe’s campaign myself in Hobsonville yesterday.

Hobsonville quickly turned into campaign trail bizarro-world.

Cunliffe was out there to counter-attack on housing after Key trotted to the very same streets earlier in the week.

Cunliffe and housing spokesperson Phil Twyford re-announced the party’s Kiwbuild policy, saying Labour could build a $485,000 two-bedroom terraced house for $360,000 because of economies of scale.

But they didn’t have a house as an example, they were just standing on the street.

Twyford was saying there were heaps of examples of the $485,000 homes in Hobsonsville, but he didn’t know where they were and never got back to me with an address.

I can tell Twyford where one is – it’s just around the corner, a $450,000 two bedroom – I know because Key took us there on Monday.

Then they rolled out two first home buyers, Harrison and Jordy, who bagged National’s Homestart policy.

But under questioning they weren’t first home buyers at all, they weren’t even looking.

In fact they wouldn’t even buy a house under Labour’s policy.

Then it turned out that they were members of the EPMU, and they stopped answering questions when asked if they voted in Labour’s leadership campaign last election.

And despite the policy being around since David Shearer was leader, Labour still couldn’t come up with simple lines like when the first house will be built.

Then media weren’t allowed any more questions about the news of the day, Cunliffe had to “have a briefing” – for the uninitiated, this is unusual, as reporters usually just ask all the questions in one stand-up. 

Cunliffe then went off on a “walkabout” which is what politicians do when campaigning, you shake a few hands and the cameras follow.

But there was nobody on the street, Cunliffe eventually turned around and came back again.

Then Cunliffe jumped in the Crown limousine which went for a cruise around the block using up taxpayer petrol so he could have his briefing. . .

The media stands around on the side of the street waiting. . .

Labour looks disorganised.

I will give Labour this free advice: Cunliffe won’t get to be Prime Minister by wandering aimlessly around a Hobsonsville cul-de-sac.

The party’s in a cul-de-sac, driven there by internal dissent, poor organisation and shambolic policy.

Labour chose the wrong couple and they’ve got the wrong policy:

New Zealanders can have no confidence in Labour’s housing policy when they can’t explain how it would work, when its housing spokespeople say different things and the announcement is a shambles, National’s Housing Spokesman Dr Nick Smith says.

“KiwiBuild is a joke because Labour has no idea how it would build 10,000 homes a year, cannot explain how they would pay for it and they still have not worked out who would be eligible for the homes,” Dr Smith says.

“Launching the policy in Hobsonville only served to highlight Labour’s previous failings.

“Labour in government announced a 1600-home development on this land in 2002, but by 2008 had no planning approved, no resource consents, no infrastructure built nor a single house constructed.

“If they couldn’t build 1600 houses in six years, how can they promise 10,000 a year now under KiwiBuild?

“Hobsonville is progressing at pace under National’s Special Housing Area, with 444 built and sold and another 350 to be completed this financial year.

“KiwiBuild keeps changing. In November 2012, it was 100,000 three-bedroom standalone homes costing under $300,000 each. In 2013, it had become two-bedroom townhouses for $300,000 and up to $550,000 for standalone four-bedroom houses. Today they are saying two-bedroom terraced houses for $360,000.

“Housing Spokesperson Phil Twyford says the houses will be paid for when built. Associate Housing Spokesperson Poto Williams says they will rented with a later first right to buy.

“Three years from now, under Labour’s numbers they would be lucky to deliver even 7000 homes.

“National’s policies address land supply, council development charges on sections, building materials costs, and help for first home buyers with a deposit and loan. This is the way forward to help more New Zealanders realise the dream of owning their own home.”

If Labour’s policy is this confusing it’s no wonder they couldn’t find anyone who could represent those who will benefit from it.

Contrasting with that is National’s policy which will help people help themselves.

Photo: Over the next five years we’ll help 90,000 New Zealanders into their first home. ntnl.org.nz/1BQ94dK #Working4NZ


Rural round-up

August 27, 2014

$150 million boost for Rural Broadband Initiative:

National’s Communications and Information Technology spokeswoman, Amy Adams, today announced a re-elected National-led Government will establish a new $150 million fund to extend the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

Ms Adams made the announcement in Greymouth with Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key.

“The RBI is making an immense difference to the way our rural firms do business, the way our kids learn and the way our health services deliver to us as patients,” Ms Adams says.

“Already, nearly 250,000 households and businesses have access to faster broadband under the RBI. However, National wants to see more rural homes and businesses benefit from faster, more reliable internet. . .

New partnership a boost for sheep and beef farming:

Lincoln University officially launched its lower-North Island base for vocational training and demonstration in lamb and beef finishing systems at a function in the Rangitikei today.

The University, along with the newly-formed Lincoln-Westoe Trust, will operate the 400 hectare Westoe Farm north of Bulls as a training facility, offering land-based certificate programmes for students looking to enter into primary sector careers. The training will have a particular emphasis on sheep and beef farming, and a special focus on training youth from Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa.

Over time, the Westoe Farm will also be developed as a demonstration farm for the finishing of lambs and the raising and finishing of beef cattle. This demonstration activity will be underpinned by objective scientific measurement of the farm’s performance, including its environmental footprint. Demonstration activity will be supported by commercial sponsors. . . .

A1 beta-casein a threat to dairy industry – Keith Woodford:

Evidence that A1 beta-casein might be a human health issue has been available for more than 15 years. However, the mainstream dairy industry has always fought against the notion that it might be important.

Back in 2007, I wrote a book called ‘Devil in the Milk’ which brought together the evidence at that time. The mainstream industry and even some elements within the Government were not impressed. They made it clear that this was an issue which New Zealand did not need to air publicly. The industry, with considerable help from the Food Safety Authority, was largely successful in dousing the public concerns, leaving just a few little puffs of smoke to remind those who were watching carefully that the fire might not be totally out. . . .

Landcorp, keen user of Fonterra’s guaranteed milk price, looks to reduce dairy exposure – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp, New Zealand’s biggest corporate farmer, has been an enthusiastic participant in Fonterra Cooperative Group’s guaranteed milk price scheme as it reduces exposure to volatile dairy prices, while looking at ways to reduce the dominance of dairy in its portfolio.

The state-owned farmer’s milk revenue soared 70 percent to $129 million in the year ended June 30, contributing to a more-than doubling of operating profit to $30 million. It won’t see a similar benefit from dairy prices in the current year, given dairy prices have tumbled this year from their highs in February.

“We’re making sure we don’t get too reliant on dairy income so the more volatile dairy sector doesn’t become too dominant in the portfolio,” chief executive Steven Carden told BusinessDesk. Landcorp’s strategy includes exploring fixed-price contracts, hedging and greater cooperation with customers across both dairy and meat, he said. . . .

Country of origin law rejected – report:

The Meat Industry Association is supporting the finding by a World Trade Organisation disputes panel that has ruled against the United States over a country of origin meat labelling law.

Canada and Mexico, backed by New Zealand and Australia, amongst others, opposed a new US rule that requires more information on labels about the origins of beef, pork and other meats.

They regard the country of origin law as a potential trade restriction. . . .

Conservation grant supports bird recovery:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced Wildbase Recovery Community Trust is to receive a $90,000 grant from the Department of Conservation to put towards a new state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility for birds and wildlife.

“New Zealand’s most challenging conservation issue is the decline in our native bird populations. We need to raise public awareness of the threat from pests like rats, stoats and possums that kill 25 million native birds each year. We need facilities like Wildbase Recovery to improve public understanding of our special birds and save those birds that are injured and can be rehabilitated back into the wild,” Dr Smith says.

Wildbase Recovery Community Trust is a charitable trust formed in partnership with local iwi, Palmerston North City Council, Massey University, Rotary and the Department of Conservation for the sole purpose of building, operating and maintaining the community-funded Wildbase Recovery. . .

Benefits from dairy demonstration farm New Zealand wide:

 A new demonstration dairy farm in the Waikato has a key role in helping New Zealand achieve the Government’s target of doubling revenue from primary industries by 2025.

This was a consistent theme from speakers at the launch of the St Peter’s – Lincoln University Dairy Demonstration farm in Cambridge on Thursday 14 August. 

The Demonstration Dairy Farm has set its sights on being in the top 3% of farms in the region for both profitability and environmental performance.  The overall aim of the farm is to promote the sustainable development of profitable dairying, principally in the Waikato but also the greater North Island.  This will be achieved through the implementation of proven scientific research, best practice farming coupled with scientific monitoring of impacts in a collaborative environment with farmers. . .

Akarua Purchases Vineyards on Felton Road

Akarua is delighted to announce a major vineyard purchase with the acquisition of vineyards located in Felton Road and Lowburn finalised on Friday 22 August 2014.

Akarua, established in 1996 by Sir Clifford Skeggs is the largest family owned vineyard in Central Otago with single estate holdings in Cairnmuir Road Bannockburn, this recent purchase will significantly boost their total vineyard area to 100 hectares in Central Otago.

David Skeggs, Managing Director of the Skeggs Group said that that the company had been actively looking at purchasing developed vineyard in Central Otago for the last 2 years. . . .

New Zealand organic pioneers place farming unit up for sale:

A sizeable landholding which is part of one of New Zealand’s oldest organic farming operations has been placed on the market for sale.

The farms just north of Tolaga Bay on the East Coast and trading under the brand Kiwi Organics, have been run by the Parker family for more than 50 years – the last 23 of those under ‘certified organic’ branding. Owners Mike and Bridget Parker are former winners of the Heinz Watties Organic Farmer of the Year title.

Kiwi Organics farm and manufacture primary products for customers throughout the Pacific Rim – including Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Australia. The company’s products are Bio Gro Certified, USDA/NOP Certified, and EU Certified and Gluten Free. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 20, 2014

Waitaki River group objects to planned changes:

The Canterbury Regional Council is promoting changes to give growers and Meridian Energy, which runs the Waitaki hydro-power scheme, certainty of water supply.

But a Waitaki River users group says a deal to drop the river’s minimum flow would badly harm an already sick river.

The Canterbury Regional Council is promoting changes to give growers and Meridian Energy, which runs the Waitaki hydro-power scheme, certainty of water supply.

The plan includes a cut to the minimum flow by a third during a dry spell. . . .

Shark finning to be banned from 1 October:

A ban on the finning of all shark species within New Zealand waters will take effect from 1 October this year, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“Implementing this ban has happened much faster than originally proposed. It reinforces New Zealand’s strong international reputation for sustainability and protecting our natural environment,” Dr Smith says.

The Ministers released a revised National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-Sharks) earlier this year, which included a commitment to phase in the ban on shark finning in New Zealand by October 2016 at the latest. A first tranche of shark species was to be covered by the ban from 1 October 2014, a second tranche from 1 October 2015, and only the highly migratory blue sharks was to be left until 1 October 2016. . . .

Botulism scare prompts diary working group:

Last year’s botulism scare has prompted the creation of a new working group in the dairy processing sector.

It was one of the recommendations of the independent Government inquiry into the whey protein concentrate contamination, which sent shock waves through New Zealand’s dairy industry.

The inquiry highlighted a shortage of experienced people with processing expertise and so the group has been set up to fix that.

The working group will be chaired by Northland dairy farmer and former Fonterra board director, Greg Gent, who said it was an exciting project. . .

NZ software could scupper mouse outbreaks:

A New Zealand-designed software system designed to predict and tackle mouse outbreaks is being trialled in Australia.

MouseAlert is an interactive website which uses mapping technology to enable arable crop growers to record and view mouse activity in their local area in real time.

Landcare Research has been providing the expertise on building this information into computer models which can then forecast plagues of mice. . .

Farmers welcome GlobalDairyTrade stabilisation:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see stabilisation in the latest benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) online auction result but warns price volatility will likely continue until well into the last quarter.

“It is great to see GDT average still in the US$3,000 a metric ton range but that slight 0.6 percent fall means we are on exactly US$3,000,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson.

“It seems to underscore how similar this season is to 2012/13. At a similar point two seasons ago, the average winning price was just US$54 more except it had come up from the high 2,000’s.

“But before anyone traipses back to the beginning of the year to make a more dramatic story, any price before 1 June is completely irrelevant when you are talking about this 2014/15 season. . .

 

China dangerous market reliance or exciting market growth? – Andrew Watters:

The economic growth of China over the past four years has resulted in huge demand for New Zealand dairy and meat products; lifted our terms of trade to historical highs and provided a major fillip to agriculture and the wider NZ economy.

However the somewhat dramatic slide in global dairy prices since their peak in midFebruary has the appearance of China exiting the market causing demand to stall.

It has prompted several commentators to ponder whether exciting market growth has become market over-reliance.

At MyFarm we see ‘China growth’ as a major boost to farming industry returns – one that will have a profound affect for the next two decades. . .

 

Informercials used to sell NZ meat in China - Dave Gooselink:

TV shopping shows and infomercials have become a popular way of selling everything from exercise equipment to kitchen and beauty accessories. But one New Zealand company has struck gold in China with a very surprising product – packaged meat.

It’s home shopping as most Kiwis will be familiar with, but the Chinese shopping show is selling something a little unusual – prime cuts of New Zealand beef and lamb.

Most of us Kiwis, we’d never think about buying our lamb or beef on a TV shopping channel,” says Silver Fern Farms head of sales Grant Howie. “But in a 30-minute slot earlier this year, we sold 12.5 tonnes of our beef.” . .  .

Minister approves Marlborough coastal plan changes:

Plan changes to enable three new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds were signed off today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at a function at the Marlborough District Council with Mayor Alistair Sowman and representatives from NZ King Salmon.

“These three new salmon farms at Waitata and Richmond in Pelorus Sound and Ngamahau in Tory Chanel are hugely important to Nelson and Marlborough’s aquaculture industry and wider economy. They will enable NZ King Salmon to grow its products from the current 6000 tonnes per year to 9000 tonnes per year in 2015 and 13,000 tonnes per year by 2033. These new farms will grow our GDP by $120 million per year, our exports by $50 million and employment by 150 new jobs,” Dr Smith says.

“I am well satisfied that our region can maintain the conservation and recreation benefits of Marlborough Sounds while enabling the growth of the aquaculture industry. These three farms will take up only about five hectares of surface water space out of a total area of over 100,000 hectares in the Sounds, or less than 0.01 per cent.” . .

The forest safety battle is not yet won

Point scoring in the media will not make our forests safer places to work, says the Forest Owners Association.

“The unions are claiming credit for a sudden reduction in the fatality and serious accident rate and Worksafe NZ is slamming us for a lack of safety leadership. These comments are unbalanced and unhelpful,” says association president Paul Nicholls.

“Political posturing and blaming others won’t save workers lives. To transform the industry’s safety culture, participants will need to acknowledge their past shortcomings and to share experiences and knowledge. They are less likely to be open to this if they are being publicly pilloried.” . .

Implementing Reform:

The sweeping reforms to the ways water is managed, as recommended by the Land and Water Forum two years ago, are now beginning to be implemented. The final shape and rate of reform will be very dependent on what government is elected in a few weeks. Therefore this is a particularly apt event looking at policy reforms that could reshape the way we manage and think about water.

“Implementing Reform” is the theme of the Water NZ annual conference being held at Hamilton’s Claudelands convention centre in the final week of the election campaign – 17 – 19 September.

Water reforms already implemented in Australia will be discussed in the first two sessions of the conference starting at 9.40 am on Wednesday 17. . .

 

 


Foreign owner’s conservation gift

August 6, 2014

New Zealand’s largest-ever conservation covenant of 53,000 hectares between Arrowtown and Wanaka is the result of the generosity and foresight of a foreign owner.

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith made the announcement yesterday:

“The permanent protection of this idyllic area of Otago that forms the backdrop for Wanaka and Arrowtown is a fantastic conservation achievement. The area between the Shotover River and Cardrona Range covering 80 per cent of the Motatapu, Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations is equivalent to the combined size of the Abel Tasman and Paparoa National Parks. The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust secures protection for about 3500 hectares per year and so to achieve 53,000 in a single covenant is extraordinary,” Dr Smith says.

“The covenant protects a wide variety of ecosystems from wetlands, tussock grasslands, native shrub lands, alpine cushion fields and stunning mountain peaks. The area already hosts the annual Motatapu event and a multi-day tramping track from Glendhu Bay to Arrowtown. Added areas are to be opened up for public access and enjoyment as part of the agreement reached with the landowner.

“I want to acknowledge this extraordinary act of generosity by Soho Property Limited and Mr Mutt Lange. This huge conservation covenant illustrates how overseas ownership can bring benefits to New Zealand. They have invested millions in weed and pest control, fencing and over 95 per cent of the stations are now in protection. New Zealanders have greater access to this stunning country and better facilities than ever before. We should judge proposals for overseas ownership of farms on merit rather than simplistic bans that would lose positive initiatives like this.

This would never happen if the xenophobic policies of Labour, New Zealand First and their anti-foreign ownership fellow travellers.

“This initiative is part of the Government’s broader programme of achieving more for conservation through partnerships. The Government increased the funding for the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust this year from $3.2 million to $4.2 million per annum as well as establishing the $26 million Community Conservation Partnership Fund. The Government does not need to own every area of land with conservation values and can achieve more by helping private sector conservation.”

In Labour’s last term it stopped pastoral lease land being covented in this way.

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is an independent statutory organisation established in 1977 to secure long-term protection of natural and cultural features on private land. The Trust partners with landowners on open space covenants, which are legally binding protection agreements registered on the title of the land. Covenants are voluntary but once in place, they bind the current and all subsequent owners of the affected land.

“I commend the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust on securing this covenant and their work with Soho Property Limited. This is the largest covenant ever achieved, with covenants generally averaging 30 hectares. This is an important and lasting legacy for the protection of New Zealand’s heritage that will be appreciated for generations to come.”

This shows that ownership by the public, or individual New Zealanders, isn’t essential for conservation.

Dr Smith said the agreement showed the Government did not need to own every area of land with conservation values, and could achieve more by helping private sector conservation.

Little would be gained from having the land in a conservation or national park, as the covenants provided ”very strong” protection – ”albeit the public is getting the benefit, but someone else is meeting the costs of the ongoing maintenance of the area”.

”We’re ending up with 95% of these four huge stations in protection with good quality public access and improved visitor facilities.

”It’s a real message to those who are point-blank opposed to overseas ownership that you need to be more flexible than that.”

Soho Properties lawyer Willy Sussman said he had been ”at pains” to explain to Mr Lange the magnitude of what he was agreeing to.

”I was almost labouring the point – I asked him ‘do you understand what this means?”

”His reply was just one word – ‘absolutely’.”

As well as being a ”musical genius”, his Switzerland-based client was an unconventional and far-sighted thinker who wanted to ”make a positive difference to the world”.

”He doesn’t do it for fame, he doesn’t do it for fortune, and he doesn’t do it for publicity – he does it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Queen Elizabeth II National Trust chairman James Guild said Mr Lange had made an ”extraordinary bequest to the country” that went far beyond any Overseas Investment Office requirements.

As well as protecting native plant and animal habitats and historic and recreation values, the agreement would formalise and improve public access to the area.

Soho Properties and the trust were working with the New Zealand Walking Access Commission, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, the Queenstown Trails Trust and local walking and mountain biking groups to further improve public access.

”It will effectively be New Zealand’s first national park in private hands.”

The company was spending ”significant sums” to control wilding pines, weeds, goats, possums and mustelids.

It was also planting on river margins and fencing off waterways, wetlands, tussocklands and shrublands. . .

Lange and his ex-wife bought Motatapu Station with the approval of the last Labour government.  Something current leader David Cunliffe is turning his back on and says wouldn’t happen again under his watch.

Lange’s is an extraordinarily generous gift to New Zealand and the world.

It wouldn’t have been possible had the policies Labour and the other parties on the left had been in force then.

It won’t be possible if they enact their policies even though the economic and environmental benefits from it can’t be questioned.


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