Govt announces fresh water reform process


Agriculture Minister David Carter and Environment Minister Nick Smith have announced a reform process for fresh water management.

“Reform of New Zealand’s fresh water management is needed to address deteriorating water quality and poor incentives for water allocation and storage, Nick Smith said.

“New Zealand’s abundant fresh water resources are the envy of many other countries and the key to our competitive advantage in agriculture and renewable energy – as well as being essential to our environment and lifestyle. The problem is that our system of management has not kept up with the extra pressure on our water system . . .

He’s right. An improved system of management which safeguards water quality while allowing some to be used for irrigation is desperately needed.

David Carter said some parts of New Zealand are approaching water resource limits and the issue needs to be addressed.

“New Zealand has plenty of water, but not always in the right places and at the right times. This has led to demand outstripping supply and economic opportunities being constrained. Water is a vital input for the primary sectors, which are collectively the biggest export earner and employer in New Zealand.

“The focus of the new direction will be on water quality, water quantity, allocation, and infrastructure including water storage.

“We need to ensure that the changes we make are workable and carefully balance New Zealand’s important environmental reputation with the potential for ongoing economic growth from the primary sector.

We don’t have a water shortage per se, it’s as Carter says when and where we have it which causes problems.

There are also concerns over water quality and allocation which must be addressed and his mention of infrastructure and water storeage are encouraging.

A Hazy Shade of Winter


Counting down to Simon and Garfunkel’s concert this weekend, a wintery song for a very wintery day.

Worst and proud of it


You have to give them points for novelty.

While everyone else is striving to be the best, the people behind a new, on-line magazine aren’t even pretending to be okay.

They’ve called it Worst and it’s dedicated to bringing you the worst of everything.

It came about when the editor decided:

Instead of  glamourising what’s glamourous and photoshopping what’s already too beautiful, why not give a try to celebrate the worst in every kind of arts/fashion/music/other? The ugly ones! The cheap & not cheerful! The grothesque! Because, so often, what is really hideous, horrible in taste, and kitch beyond comprehensible is nothing but a shameless peak into our bright future. If you doubt that worst things will be repackaged and returned to us in years to come, just take a look recent TV. To paraphrase Woody Allen, we don’t throw our garbage, we recycle it into our culture.

The first issue is here, and if this is the future I’d rather go somewhere else.

Hat Tip: Idealog

BNZ confidence survey drop but still positive


The BNZ confidence survey for May shows a drop in confidence with a net 18% of respondents expecting economic improvement in the next year, compared with a net $27% in April.

 However, the comments from farmers were very gloomy:

* Dairy & beef farming. Not good, just focussing on survival. After crash everything edging up except income.

 * Dairying. This season is looking grim. All unnecessary spending is to be stopped. Debt levels are high so have to service this first. Long term dairying is a great industry investment.

 * Commercial Grower Strong signs of demand improving and prices returning to sustainable levels. Outlook very positive.

 * Suppliers to the dairy industry. With constant media negativity about the state and future prospects of the dairy industry, farmers are despondent and lack confidence in their farms being able to turn a profit this season. They are only buying necessities. Because this industry plays such a large role in New Zealand the flow on effects to the wider economy will be profound.

 * Sheep & Beef breeding & fattening. Lamb at the moment is very good. Wool is bad. We passed wool at the sale yesterday. Beef probably not that good.

 * Dairying With the cold winter low grass growth and low advance farmers are in shock

 * Dairy Industry. Falling payout is going to hurt!

 * Sheep and beef/ We are fine for the moment but a huge amount of uncertainty as no fundamentals have changed, just good luck to have a good season and lamb prices together. Trading margins still short and cash flow tight.

 * Ag industry. Dairy payout and strong dollar, not looking good for rest of the year.

These comments reflect the views of the rural grapevine.

Sheep and beef returns are better than they’ve been, but the improvement is coming off a very low base so there’s a lot of making up to do and milk is no longer looking like white gold.

Usually the floating dollar insulates us from drastic falls in commodity prices because when prices drop the dollar follows. However, at the moment commodity prices are low and the dollar is high.

Equity is holding up because there haven’t been many farm sales to fix values on. A couple of Southland real estate agents told me last week that they’ve got buyers with money but they’re watching and waiting.

Monday’s Quiz


1. From where was the telegram alerting the world to the death of Robert Falcon Scott and his party in Antarctica sent?

2. Who wrote The Dot?

3. Who said: The cow is of the bovine ilk;/One end is moo, the other milk?

4. Which city would I be in if I was standing on the north bank of the Firth of Tay?

5. These are the flags of which countries:


Beauty and blots


The ODT’s report on plans for irrigation in the Mackenzie basin illustrates two opposing views.

Forest and Bird South Island conservation manager Chris Todd said the proposed irrigation to allow intensive farming of the basin could turn its “spectacular dry, sunburnt vistas” into a replica of the highly developed Canterbury Plains.

“Industrial-scale farming in our most fragile and visually stunning high country landscapes is not sustainable.”

The second has a different view:

Mackenzie Irrigation Company director Murray Valentine, of Dunedin, said compared with the size of the Mackenzie Basin, the 27,000ha that farmers wanted to irrigate was very small.

The plan was not to irrigate the high country but the “flat land”, he said.

If farmers got approval, they could increase stock rates per hectare by up to 15 times.

“We’re talking about areas that are basically the nearest thing we have to desert and are completely modified with hieracium and wilding pines.”

In some countries bringing life to the desert, with the economic, environmental and social benefits which follow is seen as a wonderful achievement.

The scenery in this area is stunning to most people, but they drive through it at 100 kilometres an hour – or faster – on the journey between Canterbury and Central Otago.

It’s a different picture for many of those who live in the Mackenzie. They too see beauty but those “spectacular, dry sunburnt vistas”  are heartbreaking for people trying to earn a living who would regard the green pastures of Canterbury as paradise.

It’s possible to make objective decisions on such things as pollution of waterways, but beauty is subjective.

One person’s stunning scenery is another’s blot on the landscape.

90 day trial period will end during calving


The new dairy season started last Monday, cows are dried off and the rhythm of the working day changes.

For a couple of months dairy workers  (at least those on farms which aren’t on town supply which milk all year round) don’t have to get up before dawn for milking. Instead they observe more civilised hours feeding out, catching up on maintenance and other off-season work.

Then, calving starts in early August and it’s back to the early starts.

Starting the season in June allows new staff to be inducted over winter, although neither they nor their employers really know how they’ll go until the pressure of calving goes on.

It’s not uncommon for workers to leave during or after calving because they realise the job isn’t for them.

This year, thanks to the 90 day trial period, dairy farmers who took on new workers at the start of the season will have the option of terminating employment if they aren’t suitable.

Calving usually reaches its peak in the second or third week of August. Given the time and effort involved in recruiting and inducting new staff, employers won’t exercise the 90-day clause lightly, let alone during the busiest time of the year.

June 8 in history


US architect Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1867.

One of Wright’s most famous private residences was built from 1935 to 1939—Fallingwater—for Mr. and Mrs. Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr., at Bear Run, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. It was designed according to Wright’s desire to place the occupants close to the natural surroundings, with a stream and waterfall running under part of the building. The construction is a series of cantilevered balconies and terraces, using limestone for all verticals and concrete for the horizontals. The house cost $155,000, including the architect’s fee of $8,000.


The  New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmanment and Arms Control Act was passed in 1987.

A coal tanker, the Pasha Bulker, ran aground  in a storm off the Australian coast in 2007.

%d bloggers like this: