Word of the day


Ventripotent – large bellied, gluttonous.

Monday’s quiz


1. It’s nieve in Spanish, neige in French and hukarere  in Maori – what is it in English?

2. Who said: “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is:  I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.”? 

3. Who were the first three presidents of the United States?

4. What is uxorcide uxoricide?

5. What do PR, and SOA and SOB stand for in medicine?

Hope he’s standing for right reasons


When Otago District Health Board employee Michael Swann was found guilty of a $17m fraud, Health Minister Tony Ryall held board chair Richard Thomson responsible and sacked him.

Thomson was elected to the board, chose to stay on as a member and is a candidate in the current election for what is now the Southern District Health Board which was formed when the Otago and Southland DHB’s amalgamated.

I have no doubt he’ll get back on and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he tops the poll.

I just hope he’s standing because he can make a positive contribution to the board and health services in the south and not in a misguided attempt to give the fingers to the minister.

If it doesn’t look good on TV it feels worse on the farm


Dear Rosemary,

I hope none of the farmers who are working hard in the wake of the snow, wind and rain which caused so much damage in Southland and South Otago read your column yesterday.

The last thing you need when you’ve had the heartbreaking task of dealing with hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of dead and dying lambs and you’re also losing ewes is to read:

Freezing temperatures and snowfalls are not a new event, yet year after year the timing of the birth of the lambs coincides with treacherous weather, followed by the sickening sight of the corpses of newborn animals being thrown on to the backs of trucks.

You are right that freezing temperatures and snowfalls aren’t new events. But they’re not predictable either. They don’t happen in the same places at the same time year after year and there is no way of knowing in autumn, when you put the rams out, what weather will happen when in spring.

Most Southland farms have good shelter belts.  When it started snowing the ewes moved under the trees but the snow kept coming, then it rained and the ground they were on turned to bog.

We were lambing when the snow struck. The farm got some snow but not enough to do much damage. Had it been a few kilometres further south and east we too would have suffered huge losses. That we didn’t was simply due to good fortune.

What you saw on television wasn’t the result of poor management, it was the result of bad luck caused by an unusually late and severe snow storm followed by rain and wind.

If you don’t believe me, you might believe Bob Kerridge of the SPCA who wrote:

 . . .we need to be careful about criticism when the catastrophe that’s unfolded in Southland and South Otago is at such an extreme level

After all, this was the worst series of storms in at least a generation, with wind chills of minus 10C and more than 100mm of rain, as well as snow drifts such as have not been experienced since the early 1970s. In these circumstances, no amount of preparation could have prevented such huge livestock losses, of a scale which no farmer would wish for in their lifetime.

Moreover, as Federated Farmers has reminded us, many farmers had actually pushed lambing back from late winter into early spring in order to reduce the level of climatic risk, only to experience far worse weather and vastly more difficult conditions at this later point in time.

Lambing isn’t timed for farmers’ convenience.  It is governed by the ewes’ oestrus (heat) and the length of that is influenced by weather, nutrition and age.

Decreasing day length stimulates the ewe’s natural breeding season, with peak oestrus activity from March to May. The average gestation period for sheep is 147 days. If they’re at peak oestrus in autumn they will lamb in spring.

Another factor which governs the timing of lambing is grass growth. Farms require plenty of feed to flush ewes before tupping, to feed them during and after lambing and to feed the lambs after weaning. Spring lambing fits the feed cycle.

You think it’s sickening watching dead lambs on TV, Rosemary? It feels even worse on the farm when you’re out in the paddocks in the cold and wet working with your stock.

You seem to think farmers are heartless. They’re not and it is not just physically but emotionally difficult dealing with what was a once in a generation event. Good farmers care about and for their stock and it takes great strength to cope with the magnitude of losses many have suffered.

Federated Farmers, Rural Women and Rural Support trusts have been calling on every farm in the affected areas, delivering food parcels and checking that everyone is coping. Most are, given the circumstances, but some are struggling and the views you expressed, which have been voiced on talkback and in letters to editors too, do absolutely nothing to help.

Even if you don’t believe that farmers care about their stock, can’t you understand that they’d do everything they could to minimise losses because dead stock don’t earn money?

Now that the crisis of the storm and its aftermath have passed, farmers are adding up their losses in financial terms. They will be substantial and there will be a flow on into rural communities with less work for shearers, contractors, freezing workers . . .

You saw a few moments of horror on TV. Farmers are still dealing with it and they and the wider rural community will be coping with the aftermath long after you’ve tuned to something else.

October 4 in history


On October 4:

610 Heraclius arrived by ship from Africa at Constantinople, overthrew Byzantine Emperor Phocas and became Emperor.


663  The battle of Baekgang began.

1209  Otto IV was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Innocent III.


1227  Assassination of Caliph al-Adil.

1363  End of the Battle of Lake Poyang; the Chinese rebel forces of Zhu Yuanzhang defeated that of his rival, Chen Youliang, in one of the largest naval battles in history.

1511  Formation of the Holy League of Ferdinand II of Aragon, the Papal States and the Republic of Venice against France.

1537 The first complete English-language Bible (the Matthew Bible) was printed, with translations by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale.

1582 Pope Gregory XIII implemented the Gregorian Calendar. In Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, October 4 of this year was followed directly by October 15.

Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Irelan, was born (d. 1712).


1636 The Swedish Army defeated the armies of Saxony and the Holy Roman Empire at the Battle of Wittstock.

The Battle of Wittstock 1636.jpg

1693  Battle of Marsaglia: Piedmontese troops were defeated by the French.

1777  Battle of Germantown: Troops under George Washington were repelled by British troops under Sir William Howe.


1779 The Fort Wilson Riot.

1824  Mexico adopted a new constitution and becomes a federal republic.

1830 Creation of the state of Belgium after separation from The Netherlands.

1853  Crimean War: The Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia.


1876  Texas A&M University opened as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, becoming the first public institution of higher education in Texas.


1883  First run of the Orient Express.

Aff ciwl orient express4 jw.jpg

1883 – First meeting of the Boys’ Brigade in Glasgow.

Boysbrigade anchor redesign copy small.jpg

1895 Buster Keaton, American comedian, was born (d. 1966).


1895 The first U.S. Open Men’s Golf Championship administered by the United States Golf Association was played at the Newport Country Club.


1910  Declaration of the Portuguese Republic. King Manuel II fled to the United Kingdom.

1910 – Adoption of the Flag of Bermuda.

1918  An explosion killed more than 100 and destroyed the T.A. Gillespie Company Shell Loading Plant in Sayreville, New Jersey.

1921 Riccardo Zanella became the first elected president of Free State of Fiume.


1923 US actor Charlton Heston was born(d 2008).

1927  Gutzon Borglum began sculpting Mount Rushmore.

1928  Alvin Toffler, American novelist, was born.


1931 Sir Terence Conran, English designer, restaurateur, retailer and writer, was born.

1937 English writer Jackie Collins was born.

1941 Anne Rice, American writer, was born.


1941 Norman Rockwell’s Willie Gillis character debuted on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

1942 Johanna Sigurdardottir, Prime Minister of Iceland, was born.


1943  U.S. captured Solomon Islands.

1947 Jim Fielder, American bassist (Blood, Sweat & Tears), was born.


1957 Auckland businessman Morris Yock trademarked the jandel.

Morris Yock trademarks the jandal

1957  Launch of Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.

Sputnik asm.jpg

1957  Avro Arrow roll-out ceremony at Avro Canada plant in Malton, Ontario.


1958  Fifth Republic of France was established.

1959 Chris Lowe, British musician (Pet Shop Boys), was born.

1960  Eastern Air Lines Flight 375, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, crashed after a bird strike on takeoff from Boston’s Logan International Airport, killing 62 of 72 on board.

1962 Carlos Carsolio, Mexican alpinist. Fourth person to summit all 14 of the eight-thousanders.

1966  Basutoland becomes independent from the United Kingdom and was renamed Lesotho.

1967  Omar Ali Saifuddin III of Brunei abdicated in favour of his son, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

1976  Official launch of the Intercity 125 High Speed Train (HST).

1983   Richard Noble set a new land speed record of 633.468 mph (1,019 km/h), driving Thrust 2 at the Black Rock Desert, Nevada.


1985   Free Software Foundation was founded in Massachusetts.


1991  The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was opened for signature.

1992  The Rome General Peace Accords ended a 16 year civil war in Mozambique.

1992   El Al Flight 1862: an El Al Boeing 747-258F crashed into two apartment buildings in Amsterdam, killing 43 including 39 on the ground.

1993  Russian Constitutional Crisis: In Moscow, tanks bombard the White House, a government building that housed the Russian parliament, while demonstrators against President Boris Yeltsin rallied outside.

Tanks before Russian White house.jpg

1997 The second largest cash robbery in U.S. history took place at the Charlotte, North Carolina office of Loomis, Fargo and Company.

2001  NATO confirmed invocation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.


2001  Siberia Airlines Flight 1812: a Sibir Airlines Tupolev TU-154 crashed into the Black Sea after being struck by an errant Ukrainian S-200 missile. 78 people were killed.

2003  Maxim restaurant suicide bombing in Haifa: 21  people were killed, and 51 others wounded.


2004  SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight, by being the first private craft to fly into space.


Sourced from NZ history Online & Wikipedia

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