Rock Around The Clock

July 6, 2010

Bill Haley would have been 85 today.

There were plenty of clips to choose from. I opted for this because it’s still one of the best songs for getting people on a dance floor:


Giving Up Smoking

July 6, 2010

Dave Allen would have been 74 today.


Alps to Ocean cycle trail’s a goer

July 6, 2010

The Alps to Ocean cycle trail from Mount Cook to Oamaru harbour is one of eight new cycleway projects approved for funding under the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.

In a media rlease, acting Tourism Minister Jonathan Coleman said the $18.85 million investment in the eight new trails will provide a significant economic boost to the communities involved.

“These trails will showcase the very best that New Zealand has to offer in terms of our landscapes, culture and communities. They will be a key draw-card for both international and domestic visitors, and add a further dimension to our vibrant tourism sector,” Dr Coleman said.

“I am delighted that construction will be underway on these trails this summer, and I look forward to them becoming part of Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail.”

The other trails are in Opotiki/Gisborne, Taupo, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson/Tasman, Westport, Queenstown and Clutha.

All had to complete extensive feasibility studies before applying for funding.

This announcement follows the evaluation of feasibility studies submitted to the Ministry of Tourism in May. Due to the diligent work of the applicants, funding for these trails has been confirmed four months ahead of schedule enabling construction to begin as soon as possible.

The Ocean to Alps trail will take cyclists 314 kilometres, descending 780 metres with a prevailing tail wind.

The trail starts near Mount Cook, passes Lakes Pukaki, Ruataniwha, Ohau, Benmore and Aviemore and the towns of Twizel, Omarama, Otematata, Kurow and Duntroon.

  It then goes south east following the Fossil Trail through the Waiarreka Valley into Oamaru and the port.

The latter part of the trail goes through an area few people visit now and will introduce cyclists to the beauty of North Otago’s downlands.


Tuesday’s answers

July 6, 2010

Monday’s questions were:

1. What is  litotes?

2. What does Puketapu mean?

3. Who said: “New Zealand is a country of thirty thousand million sheep, three million of whom think they are human.”?

4. What are  the capitals of Paraguay and Uruguay?

5. What does the Scoville scale measure?

Andrei got three.

Gravedodger also got three right and a bonus for extra info for #2.

Paul got four plus a bonus for humour and inventiveness.

Mr Gronk got 1 1/2 – it was sacred.

Ray got two and a bonus for extra info – I knew the Palmerston hill was Puketapu but not why.

PDM got one right and I’ll give him 1/2 for # 2 & 3 plus a bonus for wit.

Bearhunter won the electronic boquet with a perfect score.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Fewer growers with fewer options

July 6, 2010

North Otago used to have lots of market gardeners.

Among the options for selling their produce was an auction market in Oamaru where local shops and supermarkets did most of their buying.

As supermarket power increased and buying centralised the demand at the auction fell and the market eventually closed.

There’s now no local auction and a lot fewer local market gardeners.

Local supermarkets still buy some produce locally but most of our vegetables go to a central market in, I think, Christchurch. It goes all over the country from there and some may even end up back in local supermarkets.

Having fewer growers with fewer options means they have less power to negotiate and are price takers rather than price makers.

That doesn’t however, explain why the price most have to take is so often well below the price their produce eventually makes at the supermarkets.

A lot of factors contribute to the difference in the price growers get and consumers pay including transport, overheads and wastage.

But more people between paddock and plate usually means a lower return to producer and greater cost to consumer. This is one of the reasons for the rise in popularity of farmers markets where produce goes directly from grower to eater.

However, that’s not necessarily the most efficient way to shop which is why supermarkets have a place. Unfortunately for producers that place often seems to be the one which gives them the worst return.


8/10

July 6, 2010

Honesty compels me to tell you that luck had a lot to do with my 8/10 score in this week’s NZ History Online quiz.


Does farming give best return on $1668.7m?

July 6, 2010

Landcorp has confirmed it’s bidding for the 16 Crafar farms.

That’s a board decision and because it’s an SOE the government can’t interfere.

It might however, ask some questions on behalf of the taxpayer including:

  • How will the costs of borrowing affect Landcorp’s already dismal return of  around .6% on its  $1668.7m  investment?
  • If a debt to debt plus equity ratio of 11.1% at last balance date was above plan, what’s planned for the current year?
  • How will the purchase fit with the company’s mission: “To provide shareholding ministers with maximum sustainable financial returns“?
  • If the bid is successful will the company keep all of the other farms it owns and leases?
  • How much land does the company plan to own and lease?

And the public might ask:

  • Do we really want the state which already farms 1.5 million stock units on 105 properties with a total area of 374,948 hectares to add another 16 farms to its portfolio?
  • What do we want in return for our  $1668.7m investment?
  • Is farming the best way to get it?

Then perhaps we could have a calm and reasoned discussion on state ownership of assets in general and Landcorp in particular.

Selling everything at once would be stupid, but so is keeping everything for fear of the emotional reaction that greets a hint that perhaps state ownership isn’t always the best use of scarce public capital.

There will be a case for keeping some SOEs and there is a case for selling others. One reason for sales is that the opportunity cost of ownership for some of the assets is far greater than the return from them.


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