Bridge across rural-urban divide lost in translation

Dear Don

If an intelligent woman like Cactus Kate, who comes from a farming background, and JC, who left a comment here , struggled to get the message then I’m afraid the bridge you were trying to build across the rural-urban divide has been lost in translation .

You are right about the importance of agriculture to New Zealand, and the world, and Federated Farmers’  Open Farm Day is a good initiative to get people from town in to the country.

But your invitation came at the end of a long piece and if the feedback I’ve had is anything to go by I suspect most of your target audience wouldn’t have got past your opening paragraphs.

That’s a pity because you’ve laid some solid planks across that town-country gap in radio interviews and  Qutoeunquote pointed me at an interview in  The Press where you do it so much better:

But he has to ask why New Zealand, of all places, is shooting itself in the foot this way. He says it is shocking how dependent we are on food production as a country. Surely everyone knows that agriculture and forestry account for 65 per cent of New Zealand’s exports?

You might think Australia is a farming nation, too. Yet, despite those outback farms the size of small European states, agricultural exports are not even 4 per cent of the Aussie economy.

We are quite simply the biggest dairy and sheep meat exporter in the world. Or, to turn it around, the society whose fate is most closely tied to what is going on in its paddocks.

Yes, it is an exceptionally difficult trick we are trying to pull off – to be a nation with a First World standard of living based on an industry that generally, unfortunately, pays a Third World return.

“So many people are coming with negative connotations as to how we farm. And yet the world needs food. Farmers get out of a morning, pull their boots on and produce food, the best way we currently know how,” Nicolson says.

It’s clear, concise, easy to understand and easy to remember.

It worked in this piece and it’s a good blueprint to follow next time you want to build a bridge.

Yours sincerely


2 Responses to Bridge across rural-urban divide lost in translation

  1. JC says:

    Another bridge to think about..

    People close to us (in a city) are busing their children 50 minutes away into the country for their schooling. They like the idea of the little darlings (7 yr old girls) being in a smaller school with discipline and “values”. It isn’t Christianity or exclusivity.. it’s safety, a relationship with the school and more feeling of self reliance.

    I wonder how prevalent this is.



  2. Cactus Kate says:

    Oh okay. I wouldn’t walk on to someone’s farm uninvited however. Even my mild-mannered father has a gun collection that any American would be proud of.

    And it’s not for show. He’s a pretty damn good shot for an old-age pensioner.


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