Where were you when . . .


. . .  the Berlin Wall fell?

An event as momentous as that ought to be ingrained on my memory.

But as I digested news reports about what happened 20 years ago today I could recall only very vague memories of learning about it at the time.

Then I realised our son would have been only a few months old and the fall of the wall must have conincided with one of the many crises which punctuated his life.

When you’re wondering if your child will live or die the world shrinks and matters of international moment barely register.

Taking from someone who needs it most


A thief stole an electronic communications device from a boy who has cerebal palsy.

He is mute and the device was his only means of communication.

It must have been terrifying for the boy and the theft will make life so much more difficult for him and those who care for him.

Follow Me


Today was Mary Travers’ birthday.

Millions more for kiwifruit research


When Australians or New Zealanders talk of kiwis we mean the bird or the people.

In any other country I’ve visited when people talk about kiwis they are referring to the fruit.


Kiwifruit are one of our export success stories and a partnership between The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and Zespri International will form the world’s largest research and development programme into new varieties.

FRST has committed $15.2m over seven years and Zespri is contributing $20.5m.

Minister for RS&T Wane Mapp said the investment will fast-track plant breeding research and the development of new kiwifruit cultivars.

“Land and food-based science is at the heart of the New Zealand economy. This investment is an example of building on our strengths and expertise.

“It demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the horticulture sector. It will give New Zealand a commercial advantage over its international competitors. It is estimated that there will be returns on the investment of approximately $350 million over 15 years.

“Investment in Plant & Food Research led to the gold kiwifruit from Zespri, which is now the foundation of $400 million of exports. This project will take our kiwifruit industry to new levels of international success,” he said.

The horticulture sector aims to double the value of its earnings to $10 billion per annum by 2020.

I prefer the green to the gold when it comes to kiwifruit, but the people who’ve given us $400m of export earnings can’t be wrong.

One of the reasons for the success is that the people behind gold kiwifruit learned from previous mistakes and retained plant variety rights.

Monday’s Quiz


1. What’s distinctive about someone with a variation in the MC1R gene?

2. Who said, “Hollow commitments to action in the future are insufficient. Deferring difficult issues must not be tolerated. Our children and grandchildren expect us to speak and act decisively?”

3. Who won this year’s Prime Minister’s Awards for Literature?

4. What is a titipounamu?

5. Name the national presidents of: Federated Farmers, Rural Women NZ and NZ Young Farmers.

Increased payout will help farm sales – updated


A rural real estate agent in South Canterbury said when Fonterra’s forecast payout went up 55 cents in September his phone started ringing.

People who had been holding back for the bottom of the market started showing an interest in buying.

Today’s announcement of a further 95 cent increase in the forecast payout will confirm the belief that the market has bottomed out and attract more buyers.

It may also result in more farms listed for sale as potential vendors who have been holding back see an opportunity for a better price.

Farm sales and conversions slowed markedly with last season’s lower payout. The latest increase will widen the gap between dairy returns and those for sheep, beef and cropping which might result in more farmers considering a change to dairying.

However, the sharp drop in last season’s payout and the volitility in the market have made farmers more cautious.

The big payout in the 07/08 season encouraged a lot of spending. This included more intensive systems to boost production which were found to be unsustainable when the milk price dropped.

The most efficient way to convert grass and water to milk is to let cows graze pastures. Our climate and soils allow us to do that very well and relatively inexpensively in terms of both money and the impact on the environment compared with other countries where the feed is taken to the cows.

The decrease in payout gave a reality check and reminded us that our natural advantage is pasture based production.

The increased payout will boost farm sales and it may boost conversions. But those who’ve learned from the volatility of the last couple of season won’t be rushing to boost production with expensive inputs.


Adolf at No Minister puts some figures on the impact the increase will have on the wider economy.

BK Drinkwater does a payout for dummies translation of the figures.

Fonterra payout up to $6.05


Last night’s post on Fonterra lifting its payout in Australia had only just been published when I checked my emails and found one from the company to New Zealand suppliers. It announced an increase in its forecast payout for the current season of  95 cents per kilo of milk solids.

 In a newsletter to shareholders chairman Henry Van der Heydon said:

  The Board met today and  has increased the forecast Available For Payout to $6.05 per kgMS for the current season.

  This is made up of a forecast Milk Price of $5.70 (up from $4.60) and a Distributable Profit or Value Return of 35 cents (down from 50 cents).

  The $1.10 increase in the Milk Price has come from the improvements in commodity milk powder prices which have by far offset the negative impact of the strengthening currency.

  This is a big jump. It shows how much volatility is still in the market. There’s a risk the rising prices could bring on more milk from other countries.

  The 15 cent fall in the Profit is due to products like cheese and casein lagging behind powder prices.

  Your Advance Rate will go up 75 cents ($3.25 to $4.00) for November paid December.

This forecast payout is 90 cents better than the final payout for the 08/09 season.

A 400 cow farm probably produces about 160,000 kgMS a season so the increase would mean an increase of about $152,000. However, after the big drop in income last season following the big increase the season before  farmers will be wary about future volatility.

We’ll welcome the increase but still concentrate on containing costs.

Even so, given the importance of dairying to New Zealand’s economy the impact of the increase may be even more significant outside the farm gate.

UPDATE: Interest.co.nz has the full statement from Fonterra.

November 9 in history


On November 9:

1494 The Family de’ Medici became rulers of Florence.

Armorial of Medici

1620 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower sighted land at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.


1769 Captain Cook observed the transit of Mercury.

1841 King Edward VII was born.

1857  The Atlantic magazine was founded in Boston.

1868  Marie Dressler, Canadian actress, was born.

1887 The United States received rights to Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.

1902  Anthony Asquith, British film director, was born.

1917 Joseph Stalin entered the provisional government of the USSR.

1918  Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany abdicated after the German Revolution, and Germany was proclaimed a Republic.

1918  Spiro Agnew, 39th Vice President of the United States, was born.

1920 White New Zealand policy  was introduced. The Immigration Restriction Amendment Act 1920 made it necessary for immigrants to apply for a permanent residence permit before they arrived in New Zealand.

1921 Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with the photoelectric effect..

1936 Mary Travers was born.

1937  Roger McGough, English poet, was born.

1953 Cambodia beccame independent from France.

1955 – Karen Dotrice, British actress

Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber
in a publicity photo for Mary Poppins

1967 The First issue of Rolling Stone Magazine was published.

1989  Fall of the Berlin Wall. Communist-controlled East Germany opened checkpoints in the Berlin Wall allowing its citizens to travel to West Germany. People started demolishing the Berlin Wall.

View in 1986 from the west side of graffiti art on the wall’s infamous “death strip”

1994 The chemical element Darmstadtium was discovered.

1998 Brokerage houses were ordered to pay 1.03 billion USD to cheated NASDAQ investors to compensate for their price-fixing.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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