Two of those days


Katherine Mansfield said it so much better than I could: It was one of those days, so clear, so still, so silent you almost feel the earth itself has stopped in astonishment at its own beauty.

I’m not sure if I’ve got that word perfect, though I ought to have because it’s on a Marg Hamilton painting which hangs on our living room wall. But that’s at home while I’m in Wanaka and in awe of the scenery which brought the quote to mind.

We’ve had not one but two of those days. Yesterday we drove tup the Waitaki Valley and through the Lindis Pass, which no matter its mood is beautiful.

In Wanaka we called on friends whose living room window frames the view straight up the lake to the mountains, scenery so stunning it makes you wonder why you’d ever bother to go anywhere else.

Today we left Wanaka by starlight to go to Southland. Our route took us down via Alexandra to Ettrick then south through West Otago to Gore. The views there may not be as awe inspiring as the ones round Wanaka, but there is beauty in those gently rolling, bright green paddocks.

We did a whistle-stop tour of farms at Otahutit, Riverton and Dipton before turning north again up SH6 which follows Lake Wakatipu from Kingston to Frankton. We were treated to many more Mansfield moments as the late afternoon sun spot-lit snow clad hills and reflected them back on the water.

Tussocks poked cheeky heads through the snow as we climbed up the Crown Range then down through the Cardrona Valley and back to Wanaka to marvel again at the breathtaking combination of mountains, snow and lake in the sunset.

Two of those days, and the clear, starry sky is promising a third tomorrow.

Blogging on the road


The problem of blogging when away from home has been solved, at least in part by my new toy, mobile broadband.


I did a quick post before leaving Wanaka at 6.30 this morning and turned the laptop on again when we got to Otahuti in Southland. There, I was able to check emails, a few news sites and my must-read blogs beside the sheep yards while my farmer helped load a truck.


Reception was maintained from Otahuti until we got past Riverton and I was able to reconnect on the road back to Winton. However, by then the laptop battery was getting low.


I left it in the woolshed for a 10 minute charge as we drove round a farm at Dipton, and the battery is back to 40%, but if I’m going to blog on the road I’ll have to find an adaptor that runs off the cigarette lighter, or invest in a second battery.


One Size Legislation Doesn’t Fit All


The southern South Island wasn’t greatly troubled by leaky homes.

We didn’t have the rash of spec houses, nor many of the low cost-quick builds and look good-work bad designs which contributed to the problem further north. 

However, we’ve been caught up in the fallout.

While building a new house on the dairy farm I noticed the height from the livng room’s French doors to the path made the distance when stepping outside a little higher than was comfortable. The builder agreed and said he was going to put a step there.

He said he realised that would be a nuisance and people might trip over it. Raising the path would be better but leaky homes legislations wouldn’t allow that.

It’s one-size fits all so even in North Otago where we get an average rainfall of only 500mls, houses have to be built to withstand Auckland’s torrential downpours.

Nick Smith has said that a National Government might help pay some  of the leaky homes bill. I have some sympathy with that given the cost to individuals and local authorities. I would be even more supportive of a fresh look at the legislation to allow some flexibility for local conditions.

90 day trial good for workers & work


National’s policy of a 90 day trial for new workers will be good for employers and employees.

The policy, which will apply to businesses with fewer than 20 workers, allows employers to dismiss staff in the first three months without risking a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal.

While probationary periods are already allowed under existing law, proper process must be followed before the worker is dismissed.

Workers can still take a personal grievance if they feel the decision not to keep them on is unfair.

Small business owners, many with as few as one or two employees, are not usually specialists in employment law and a small departure from the prescribed process can be very expensive.

Yesterday, National deputy leader Bill English said the policy would give small businesses some insurance so they could take a risk on workers they might otherwise be reluctant to employ, such as former prisoners or people with little work experience.

While large businesses could better deal with underperforming staff, it could have a serious impact on small businesses.

The knowledge that you can be stuck with an underperforming staff member can make employers reluctant to take on new staff which can put more pressure on existing workers and decrease productivity.

Labour Minister Trevor Mallard said it would lock people into their current jobs, making them less likely to move around the workforce.

“If you’re in a well-paid job with security, you’re much less likely to leave it to go to another one if you could be fired from it the next day. At the other end of the labour market, it’s almost a charter for people to abuse newly appointed, low-wage workers.”

The first job is the hardest to get, because employers take a bigger risk with people who don’t have an established work record. This policy should have no impact on those wanting to swap jobs and make it easier for people seeking their first one.

Unions are opposed to this idea. They don’t seem to realise how difficult a bad worker can make life for other employees as well as the employer.

On a dairy farm for instance where there might be only two or three staff, one who is not pulling his/her weight puts a lot of extra pressure on the others.

The criticism that with this policy employers will sack staff willy nilly is unfounded. Recruitment and training take a lot of time, energy and money. Employers are not going to waste their investment and abuse this provision by arbitarilally dismissing new staff within their first 90 days just because they can.

My only complaint is that this applies only to businesses with fewer than 20 staff.

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