Immigration NZ tightens criteria for dairy workers


Immigration NZ has tightened the criteria for migrants seeking work on dairy farms, requiring at least two years relevant work experience.

This is a response to the incresing number of dairy workers from the Phillipines and is a ploy to protect jobs for New Zealanders. That might be okay if there were locals willing and able to work on dairy farms but the rapid expansion in the industry has led to a shortage of good staff.

Note the word good – because any worker is not necessarily suitable and most employers would put the right attitude before experience when seeking staff.

Besides work on overseas farms may be so different from ours that “relevant” work experience it isn’t much use anyway.

Ups and downs in gloomy forecast


Treasury presented a gloomy forecast to the government today with the bad indicators going up and the good ones down.

They’re predicting unemploying rising to 7.5% and economic growth slumping to zero.

Yesterday’s release from Statistics NZ showing a 26% fall in the number of building consents issued in the year to November is a symptom of the slowdown. But given the international financial meltdown wasn’t evident until September the next lot of  figures are likely to be even worse.

New houses are still being built in Wanaka but locals say that it’s much easier to get tradespeople than it was even a few months ago.

But what’s happening in New Zealand isn’t as important as events overseas because job losses and business failures there will further depress the volume and value of our exports.

Dairy products are generally considered staple foods but lamb is a luxury item in many people’s shopping baskets and luxuries go when belts get tightened.

Flying the flag


Any Girl Guide would know that you’re supposed to raise a flag at sunrise and lower it at sundown.

We’re not as regimented as that and once we put a flag up our flag pole it tends to stay there for days on end, or longer.

It might even stay up when we’re away, although we found out that’s not a good idea.

When we got home we noticed that our New Zealand flag which had been quite bright when we left just 10 days earlier was faded and tatty. We took it down, rolled it up, put it in a cupboard and forgot about it until a neighbour, an Australian with a sense of humour, asked for his flag back.

Oh dear, he’d swapped our bright, newish New Zealand flag for his older, faded Aussie one and while we’d noticed the state of it we hadn’t looked carefully enough to realise it had five white stars rather than four red ones.

This story will be grist to the mill of those who argue we need a new flag and one of the reasons for that is it’s so easily confused with the Australian one.

While not strongly attached to the current design I’ve yet to see any alternatives which appeal more but I’m open to the idea of an improvement on what we’ve got now.

A lot of people feel more strongly about flags and see suggestions we change ours as treason. Many too have very strong views on the Tino Rangatiratanga flag and whether it should be flown from the Auckland harbour bridge on Waitangi Day.

I don’t have strong views on that either but I agree with Keeping Stock who agrees with John Armstrong who commends John Key for his handling of the issue.

Key has very adroitly lobbed the issue back to Maori by saying a Maori flag can fly from the bridge  providing Maori were consulted and the flag’s meaning was agreed upon.

Cactus Kate  reckons Key is using the sort of tactics you might employ with young children or bickering employees. She’s right which confirms my theory that managing families, business and countries require similar skills and strategies and while our Prime Minister is new to the latter he has a lot of experience with the first two.

Happiness is a calm website


Charlie Brown reckoned happiness was a warm puppy.

Life and technology have moved on and now you can get happiness, or at least learn how to be happy, through a CALM website.

This week’s Listener cover story interview with John Kirwan (preview here) highlights the seriousness of depression. It’s debilitating and people may well find it easier to get help from a website than ask for it in person.

Auckland University psychologists obviously think so because Calm (Computer Assitsted Learning for the Mind) is their initiative,  prompted by the high number of stressed students.

Dr Tony Fernando at Auckland University says many students struggle to cope with everyday life.

“Many of them, if not all of them, are so smart, but some of them don’t have the skills to deal with daily life,” he says.

Skills like maintaining healthy relationships.

That’s a sad commentary on modern life and I wonder if it has anything to do with the time spent communing via text and with websites (and that includes blogs) rather than interacting in person with family and friends.

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