Kea steals passport – updated

May 29, 2009

It sound a little like the dog ate my homework, but a bird really did steal a Scottish tourist’s passport.

Keas are well known for being cheeky and this one got away with a courier bag containing the passport.

UPDATE:

Laughy Kate has a photo of the thief.

Porcospino has a copy of the kea’s passport.


Possums are now paihamu

May 29, 2009

If you’re old enough you’ll remember that kiwifruit were once Chinese gooseberries and tamarillos were tree tomatoes.

Now there’s been another name change – possums have become paihamu:

Once referred to as Australian Brushtail possum, the industry is returning to the Maori word Paihamu to avoid confusion with the American possum (which is a different species, looks different and lacks the silky and warm fur quality).

Call them what you will, they’re still a pest in forests and on farms.

They compete with native birds for food, eat young growth of trees , destroying forests, and sometimes dine on birds’ eggs and chicks. They also carry tuberculosis which is a danger to beef and dairy cattle and deer.

But their fur is wonderful, and mixed with merino makes clothes which look good, feel better and are very good at keeping winter chills at bay.


Cargoes

May 29, 2009

Deborah’s post on party pieces – poems you could recite by heart – prompted last Friday’s poem and subsequent comments on her post reminded me that in the dark recesses of my memory there were some poems, learned by rote at high school.

Among them was Cargoes by John Mansfield.

                                Cargoes

Quinquireme of Ninevah from distant Ophir

Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,

With a cargo of Ivory

And apes and peacocks,

Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

 

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,

Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-grove shores,

With a cargo of diamond,

Emeralds, amethysts,

Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

 

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke-stack,

Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,

With a cargo of Tyne cola,

Road-rails, pig led,

Fire-wood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

 

              –  John Mansfiled –


On the road again

May 29, 2009

The number of stock trucks and furniture removal vans on the roads have been increasing in the build up to Gypsy weekend.

The dairy season starts on June 1. A lot of share milkers, dairy farm managers and workers change jobs with the season so the last weekend in May or first in June is when hundreds of people move home.

The upsurge in dairy conversions in areas previously dominated by sheep farms has changed communities and it is particularly noticeable at this time of year as people move in and out.

Schools can have a change of 20% or more in their roll as some pupils move in and others move out.

It’s disruptive for the school and the pupils.

A principal of a school with around 100 children on its roll, most of whom are from dairy farms, said children can lose up to a term of optimal learning when they change school and the more they change the more they lose.  Because of that a lot of families try to stay within their school catchment area when they change jobs so although they move house without their children having to change schools.

Frequent changes in population make it harder to retain community focus, especially when houses are scattered. Those of us who stay put know each other and even if we can go weeks or even months without seeing each other, we can still call on each other without excuses.

It’s much harder for the gypsies so one of the permanent neighbours and I decided we’d have a district social after gypsy weekend last year.

The only date which suited us both was in July, then something cropped up which meant it didn’t suit then calving and lambing started then . . .  and so here we are a year and many of the people who moved in will be moving out again and we still haven’t had that welcome social.

Maybe this year.


Round up of Budget editorials – updated

May 29, 2009

The Southland Times calls it a pig of a budget:

The constraints on Bill English’s Budget were such that at times he must have felt like calling in Mike King and a documentary crew, writes The Southland Times in an editorial.

It was grimly inappropriate to hear the Finance Minister say his Budget marked a turning point.

Chance would be a fine thing. Instead, Mr English faced manoeuverability issues that could lead a man to commiserate with any crated pig.

He could trample forwards and backwards just a little, even try a few backflips, but there just wasn’t room for sidesteps.

Mr English simply wasn’t in a position to lead us swiftly out of the recessionary mire and into the meadowlands any time soon.

The Timaru Herald says Mr Prudent gets his scissors out:

No-one could accuse Finance Minister Bill English of delivering a charismatic Budget speech yesterday, but what it lacked in flair it more than made up for in guts.

Against the backdrop of the worst economic conditions in decades, the Budget had to be tough. It was.

The gutsy decisions include deferring the next two planned phases of tax cuts in 2010 and 2011, and suspending payments to the Superannuation Fund in the long term.

These are likely to be unpopular measures but, to be fair, there is no surprise in either of them. The Government has been slick at telegraphing the bad news, and the public has a good level of understanding about just how difficult the times we are living in are. In fact, the softening up programme has been so effective that any hint of a tax cut would have seemed reckless.

The ODT headline its editorial walking the tightrope and sounds a warning to individuals:

Most people will be happy benefits have been retained, and they certainly should be happy that state spending is to be curbed.

They should also be budgeting just as carefully as Mr English appears to be: with household debt increasing by 51% since 2004, and with $168 billion of net debt currently owed by the country to overseas lenders, the halcyon days of recent memory are decidedly over.

They will not return until national productivity improves, debt is paid down, our export trade improves and we pay our own bills.

Mr English is walking a tightrope, and so are we all.

The Dominion Post calls it a Budget for a rainy day:

Labour leader Phil Goff says that, by halting contributions to the super fund, the Government is digging a $20b hole for future generations. The truth is that Labour left National with little choice. For all its talk of Keynesian economics and putting money aside in the good times, Labour spent too much of the bounty that flowed into the state’s coffers during its nine years in office.

The $15b the last government set aside for a rainy day by reducing government debt and investing in the super fund will be consumed in less than two years.

Without the changes announced yesterday, debt would have ballooned by 2023 to the crippling levels last seen in the late 1980s. That would have left the state owing the equivalent of $45,000 for every man, woman and child a burden that would have severely limited the ability of future governments to meet health, education and welfare needs. The solution is not to gamble on international markets.

The Taranaki Daily News says move over Fluffy, here comes Bill:

Those of us who share a bed with a rubber hottie and a fluffy cat will welcome at least one bit of good news in yesterday’s dreary Budget.

Finance Minister Bill English has allocated $323 million over the next four years to insulate our appallingly cold homes.

The NZ Herald says it’s a Budget short on tough decisions:

The recession has shown Labour’s spending levels to be unsustainable, and the more since Labour and National have indulged in a round of tax cuts. Hard decisions on welfare entitlements for the well-off, interest-free tertiary loans, free childcare and the like – decisions Mr Key and Mr English were proud to avoid yesterday – will probably have to be made. Maybe next year.

Nine years of deficits is simply too long. The world economy will surely have recovered in half that time. The Government needs to be looking beyond its cushions. The country needs to be awake and well geared for the first signs of recovery.

The Budget has been constrained not just by the recession it’s also been constrained by politics.

National made an election commitment not to alter various Labour initiatives which turned middle and upper  income people into beneficaries. The direct expense and indirect costs – through the bureaucracy which supports it – of  that increased what had to be borrowed and severely limited spending available for more productive initiatives.

UPDATE:

The NBR ditorial is headlined timid steps on a hard road:

Faced with the worst economic conditions in 80 years, Finance Minister Bill English has tried to chart a path to recovery with his first budget.

This was always going to be a difficult task and the government has taken its first rather timid steps on a long road.

The speed of the global recession has highlighted the structural imbalances in the economy, namely excessive household and government spending against insufficient growth and productivity. . .

. . . The government gets another chance next year but politically it gets harder. As Mr English says, there is no long-term free lunch.

The government has been forced to cut contributions to the Superannuation Fund with only partial contributions to be decided on an ad hoc basis until 2023.

To be a wealthy nation, New Zealand has to reward enterprise and penalise waste.


Budget viewed from the paddock

May 29, 2009

Agriculture Minister David Carter explains the Primary Growth Partnership.

The scope of the Primary Growth Partnership initiative includes pastoral and arable production; horticulture; seafood; forestry and wood products; and food processing.

Federated Farmers said the Budget will assist farm productivity and competitiveness.

“The Government has walked a tightrope in looking to boost productivity and competitiveness without flaming debt.

“That said, business is facing a very difficult environment and many New Zealanders are being insulated at the expense of business.  Its okay to ‘preserve entitlements’ for workers but without business owners, there would be no jobs. 

“Despite this, Federated Farmers is pleased to see the projected debt track trending downwards.  This means we will be returning to surplus a lot earlier than previously forecasted. 

“Any credit downgrade would have seriously impacted the interest rates farmers pay when farm incomes are highly constrained.  Every one percent on interest rates takes around $450 million out of farm incomes.

Feds approved of the funding for research,  is happy with the Infrastructure Board, was delighted to hear Bill English use the word water in his speech, is luke warm about funding for broadband, would like to see wool used for insulation and welcomes the commitment to reforming the RMA, Building Act and electricity markets.

“Federated Farmers understands the tightrope walked by Government in its first Budget.  Fonterra’s revised forecast, announced yesterday, tempered any expectations we had. 

“That said, there are positive indications for the future in respect of infrastructure, regulatory reform, water and research and development.  What Federated Farmers will be looking for is for acceleration in the areas that will drive the economy forward,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

NZBio  supports the investment in innovation. CEO Bronwyn Dilley said:

“Support for New Zealand’s future in the form of $1.1 billion operating and $747.3 million capital investment in transforming the New Zealand economy, including $205 million new funding for Vote RS&T, is a critical step in ensuring this country remains internationally competitive and a desirable place to work. . .

“This is a budget with foresight and strong commitment to New Zealand’s long term success. It signals a step change towards a high value, high skill, knowledge based economy for New Zealand, and the biotechnology industry will be an essential element in achieving that outcome.”

Meat and Wool NZ  welcomed the commitment to primary sector research.

Meat & Wool New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen said that the level of investment made available highlighted the Government’s recognition of the sector’s considerable earning potential.

“The budget has signalled that New Zealand is in for a challenging few years with the financial crisis that has dominated the world economies. However New Zealand is well placed for an earlier recovery than other countries with the sheep and beef sector leading the way.

“It’s pleasing to see the Government growing its support to the primary sector which makes up 64 per cent of exports and generates $24.5 billion for the New Zealand economy.”

Science NZ  welcomed the benchtop RS&T increase.

“The Prime Minister’s Science Prizes ($1m pa) and the appointment of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser also signal that the public are being appealed to in a new, high profile, way.

“This will help build a broad, national constituency for RS&T investment and careers. The business sector is engaging as never before, with a 20 per cent rise in its RS&T investment over the last two years. That is the thinking that will create higher wage jobs in New Zealand and build export businesses.

“The Budget recognises that RS&T is critical to improving New Zealand’s productivity and thus our national wealth and living standards.

The previous Prime Minister established PM’s awards for the arts.

I’m not averse to that, but by establishing prizes for scientists this Prime Minister is sending a message about the importance of science and signalling a change of focus towards innovation and productivity.


Beautiful Thing – Christine White, Hinemoana Baker

May 29, 2009

It’s day 29 in the tune a day challenge for NZ Music Month.

This was a random pick after doing a seach on YouTube – it’s Beautiful Thing  by Christine White and Hinemoana Baker.

Round the other blogs who’ve accepted the challenge:

Straightjacket sing Down in Splendour   at Rob’s

The Chills perform Pink Frost at Keeping Stock

Chris Knox sings Not Given Lightly at Inquiring Mind


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