Word of the day


Nasute – keen scented, critically discriminating, having a big nose.

Wool co-op the way to go


Wool is a natural, renewable, sustainably produced product.

It ought to be earning a premium because of that but strong wool is worth only about $3.50 to $4 a kilo, greasy. That’s less than growers get in Britain now and about a quarter the price New Zealand farmers received 20 years ago.

Several factors are responsible for this, among  which is poor marketing, but if the capital raising attempt by Wool Partners Co-operative is successful then that will change.

WPC chair Jeff Grant made a convincing case when he spoke to a farmer meeting in North Otago yesterday – one of nearly dozens being held throughout the country to convince farmers to back its plan to control at least 50% of the national wool clip.

The company aims:

To be innovative in the way wool is marketed.
For wool prices at farm to become stronger the price of wool products in the market must be strong. Wool Partners will be active in supporting its customers in meeting the needs of consumers. 

To develop an integrated supply chain to market.
In other words to have within the company the capability to take wool from farm to market in the most efficient way possible.

To consolidate as much of the New Zealand clip as possible.
The economies of scale in doing this are significant and it means that an improved and co-ordinated offer can be made to the market.

To create a grower controlled company.
Wool Partners will be owned by growers through Wool Grower Holdings and will work to improve the value of wool at market and at farm.

Farmers I spoke to after the meeting were prepared to support the initiative.

The least enthusiastic reckoned WPC couldn’t do worse than what’s happening now.

The optimists said WPC was providing growers with an opportunity to turn around more than 20 years of dwindling returns and they were going to seize it.

Dunedin to retain neurosurgery


The expert neurosurgical panel has recommended that Dunedin retains neurosurgery services.

In a further boost for the south, and the Otago Medical School, it also recommends that Dunedin becomes the academic centre for neurosurgery for the whole country.

The acting director-general of health, Andrew Bridgman, has accepted the panel’s report, he announced at a media conference in Wellington held late this morning.

The panel recommended a minimum of three neurosurgeons should be based in Dunedin, and that the South Island wide service should comprise eight neurosurgeons once fully established.

Of Canterbury’s bid for all of the South Island’s neurosurgeons to be based at Christchurch Hospital, the panel said the DHB “grossly underestimated” the number of emergency cases which could strain the hospital’s facilities.

The University of Otago is a key part of the proposed service, establishing an “academic neurosurgical centre of excellence” integrating research and teaching with clinical services at Dunedin Hospital.

The proposed service would allow the development of sub-specialisation, private sector work, the development of spinal neurosurgery and outreach to other hospitals in the South Island.

The panel suggests an independent governance board be established to oversee the South Island neurosurgery service to be chaired by Melbourne’s Professor Andrew Kaye, an internationally recognised neurosurgery expert.

Mr Bridgman says:

 . . .he was satisfied from the Panel’s report that consolidating neurosurgery on Christchurch was not the best solution either clinically or financially. “The Panel is clear that the impact on patient outcomes combined with the developments in neurosurgery and the ageing population, mean consolidating in Christchurch is not the right decision,” he said.

“Nor is the idea of retaining two neurosurgeons in Dunedin – that is not a sustainable service.”

Mr Bridgman said the Panel’s recommendation to establish academic neurosurgery in Dunedin and to work with orthopaedic surgeons in the region to extend the amount of neurosurgeon involvement in spinal surgery, fundamentally changed the nature of the service.

“We can now establish the whole South Island service as a leading and growing service, one which will be attractive to neurosurgeons to work in and which offers training and career opportunities,” he said. “The service can develop sub-specialities and still retain the reach it needs to be accessible for acute patients.

“This is an outstanding solution for South Island people.”

Canterbury people may be less  enthusiastic about this outcome than those of us on the right side of the Waitaki river but this is great news for the whole South Island.

The southern region will get the services it needs without putting pressure on Christchurch Hospital and it gives more security to the medical school.

The south has lost services in the past, for example paediatric oncology, for clinical reasons. But there were sound clinical grounds for retaining neurosurgical services at Dunedin Hospital which the panel has recognised.

The report is here.

Electorate profiles on-line


Electorate profiles, prepared by the parliamentary library, are now on-line.

They include election results, stats about people, households and industries, and maps for our 70 electorates (63 general seats and seven Maori).

Beware, if you’re interested in stats or trivia you could waste a lot of time on it discovering such things as:

Waitaki, where I live, is ranked third for the number of people employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing. That’s  21.4% of the p0pulation compared with a national average of 6.8%.

It’s ranked 62nd for the number of people employed in public administration  and safety with 1.7% employed in those areas compared with the national average of 4.1%.

This yes means no


Silver Fern Farms is trying to spin the news that  87% of the respondents to its poll supported the call for SFF and Alliance Group to consider a merger.

But they got only 517 responses from the 15,000 or more shareholders of both companies. That doesn’t necessarily even mean 517 people voted because if you had several supplier numbers, as many shareholders do, you could vote more than once on-line.

 Even if it was 517 individuals, that so few shareholders bothered to respond means the yes is a resounding no.

It’s also a vote of no confidence in SFF by its own shareholders.

SFF might have something to gain by a merger but it would be all risk with little if any reward for Alliance.

SFF made its first operating profit in years last year but hasn’t made a pool payout for at least five and its reduction in debt is due, at least in part, to the compensation from the failed merger with PGG Wrightson rather than good management.

Alliance by contrast has been making healthy profits and generous pool payments and has no debt.

The disastrous stock losses from snow in Southland and South Otago and rising demand for lamb will put farmers in a very strong position this season.

Meat companies will be seeking stock aggressively and Alliance’s far healthier balance sheet will put it in a much better position than SFF to pay for it.

Sharyn Price gave a very clear explanation of why SFF’s plan was flawed in All of a stew over lamb in Saturday’s ODT concluding with:

Farmers have a simple choice – build a historically profitable co-operative into something more powerful with further increases in equity and market clout, or create a clumsy, politically fraught co-operative that remains exposed to competitors.

Those wondering which to supply this season may want to keep in mind that after the last bad snowfall during lambing the weakest company – Fortex – collapsed.

November 10 in history


On November 10:

1444 – Battle of Varna: The crusading forces of King Vladislaus III of Varna were crushed by the Turks under Sultan Murad II and Vladislaus is killed.

Battle of Varna 1444.PNG

1483 Martin Luther, German Protestant reformer, was born.

1619 – René Descartes had the dreams that inspired his Meditations on First Philosophy.

1674 – Anglo-Dutch War: As provided in the Treaty of Westminster, Netherlands ceded New Netherlands to England.

1697 – William Hogarth, English artist, was born.

1728  – Oliver Goldsmith, English playwright, was born.

1766 – The last colonial governor of New Jersey, William Franklin, signed the charter of Queen’s College (later renamed Rutgers University).

1775 – The United States Marine Corps was founded at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia by Samuel Nicholas.

USMC logo.svg

1793 – A Goddess of Reason was proclaimed by the French Convention at the suggestion of Chaumette.


1821 – Cry of Independence by Rufina Alfaro at La Villa de Los Santos, Panama setting into motion a revolt which lead to Panama’s independence from Spain and to it immediately becoming part of Colombia.

1847 – The passenger ship Stephen Whitney was wrecked in thick fog off the southern coast of Ireland, killing 92 of the 110 on board.

1865 – Major Henry Wirz, was hanged, becoming the only American Civil War soldier executed for war crimes.

Henry Wirz photo.jpg

1868 The Matawhero ‘Massacre’:  Te Kooti and his followers killed approximately 60 people – roughly equal numbers of Maori and Pakeha.

Te Kooti attacks Matawhero

1871 – Henry Morton Stanley located missing explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone in Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika, allegedly greeting him with the words, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”.

1880  Jacob Epstein, American sculptor, was born.

1898 – Beginning of the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, the only instance of a municipal government being overthrown in US history.

1925  Richard Burton, Welsh actor, was born.

1940 Screaming Lord Sutch, English musician and politician, was born.


1942 – World War II: Germany invaded Vichy France following French Admiral François Darlan’s agreement to an armistice with the Allies in North Africa.

1944  Sir Tim Rice, English lyricist, was born.


1944 – The ammunition ship USS Mount Hood exploded at Seeadler Harbour, Manus, Admiralty Islands.


1945 – Heavy fighting in Surabaya between Indonesian nationalists and returning colonialists after World War II, was celebrated as Heroes’ Day (Hari Pahlawan).


1947 Greg Lake, British musician (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), was born.

1947 Dave Loggins, American songwriter and singer, was born.

1951 – Direct-dial coast-to-coast telephone service began in the United States.

1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the USMC War Memorial (Iwo Jima memorial) in Arlington National Cemetery.

USMC War Memorial Sunset Parade 2008-07-08.jpg

1958 – The Hope Diamond was donated to the Smithsonian Institution by New York diamond merchant Harry Winston.

Hope Diamond.jpg

1969 – National Educational Television in the United States debuted the children’s television programme Sesame Street.

Sesame Street logo.svg

1970 – The Soviet Lunar probe Lunokhod 1 was launched.

Lunokhod hires.jpg

1971 – Khmer Rouge forces attacked the city of Phnom Penh and its airport, killing 44, wounding at least 30 and damaging nine aircraft.

1972 – Southern Airways Flight 49 from was hijacked and, at one point, was threatened with crashing into the nuclear installation at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

1975 – The 729-foot-long freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank during a storm on Lake Superior, killing all 29 crew on board.

Edmund Fitzgerald NOAA.jpg

1975 – United Nations Resolution 3379: United Nations General Assembly approves a resolution equating Zionism with racism.

1979 – A 106-car Canadian Pacific freight train carrying explosive and poisonous chemicals from Windsor, Ontario, derailed in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada just west of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, causing a massive explosion and the largest peacetime evacuation in Canadian history and one of the largest in North American history.

1989 – Fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria.

1995 – In Nigeria, playwright and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others from the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop), were hanged by government forces.


1997 – WorldCom and MCI Communications announced a $37 billion merger (the largest merger in US history at the time).

2006 – Sri Lankan Tamil Parliamentarian Nadarajah Raviraj was assassinated in Colombo.

2007 – ¿Por qué no te callas? (Why don’t you shut up?) incident between King Juan Carlos of Spain and Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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