Sneak preview of new Highlanders’ jersey


People are seeing red over the new Highlanders’ jersey.

Here’s a sneak preview of it which shows why:

Word of the day


Decrescent – decreasing gradually, lessening; waning.

Self control, and farming online


Today’s discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass started with a look at self-control in the age of abundance. Over at Daniel Akst  looks at which encourages people to make commitment contracts:

The Commitment Contract concept is based on two well known principles of behavioral economics:

1.People don’t always do what they claim they want to do, and
2.Incentives get people to do things.
From there we went farming online. My Farm is a fundraising initiative by the National Trust.

They’re inviting people to pay a 30 pound annual subscription which will allow them to help run a real farm on the internet:

The farm is on the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate. You’ll be part of a group of 10,000 online Farmers working with farm manager Richard Morris to decide how it should be run. You’ll vote once a month, discuss the issues with other members and explore the world of farming.

The first vote will go live on Thursday 26 May 2011. From then onwards Farmers will vote at least once a month on different issues to do with the everyday running of the farm. The three big themes are the crops we grow, the livestock we breed, and the wider impacts of the farm on our environment and wildlife.

It’s an innovative way to help people bridge the urban-rural divide by letting them reconnect with farming and learn more about how food is produced.

If this comment is anything to go by some of the on-line farmers have a lot to learn:

How long does it take for the seed to germinate? I am wondering how many days of day we are gambling on here? And how much money? Can half the field be done at a time? Or is this an all or nothing decision?

With1,000 members signed up in the first couple of days the fundraising and education aspects should be successful. It will be interesting to see what impact the farming by vote has on production.

(Hat tip: Offsetting Behaviour).

We went from there to lost in a book at the Mail Online which introduces the concept of inattentional deafness.

South Island tourism hit by quake


Anecdotal evidence that visitors have been put off coming not just to Christchurch after February’s earthquake but the whole of the South Island has been backed up by Statistics New Zealand. It reports a decline of 24% in guest nights in the Mainland.  

Guest nights fell 5.4 percent in March 2011 compared with March 2010, Statistics New Zealand said today. The decrease was driven by a fall in international guest nights in the Canterbury region and throughout the South Island. International guest nights in the South Island fell by 24 percent compared with March 2010.

“Nationally, capacity has dropped, driven by the decrease in the Canterbury region,” business statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said. “Due to the earthquakes in September 2010 and February 2011, less accommodation was available in Canterbury. Available capacity was down by half for hotels and by a third for backpacker accommodation, compared with March 2010. This should be kept in mind when looking at figures for the Canterbury region.”

Although the South’s loss has been the North’s gain:

All five South Island regions had fewer guest nights in March 2011 compared with March 2010, recording an overall decrease in guest nights of 15 percent. Canterbury had by far the largest regional decrease (down 30 percent), due to fewer international guest nights. The North Island recorded an overall increase in guest nights, led by increases in Auckland (up 8.0 percent) and Wellington (up 4.4 percent).

Losing thousands of beds from Christchurch which is the gateway to the south can’t help but impact on the rest of the island. Some people will by-pass the city and go somewhere else in the South Island but many others are staying away from the Mainland altogether.

Wanaka is never very busy between Easter and the start of the ski season but it seems to have been even quieter this year; a tourism business owner in Omamara told us visitor numbers had plummeted since late February and even Queenstown seemed a bit subdued on a couple of recent visits. 

The news that there’s a 23% risk of another big earthquake somewhere in Canterbury will be very concerning for people who live there and it will be another deterrent to visitors to the province and the rest of the South Island.

More rationalisation of govt agencies


Finance Minister Bill English  and State Services Minister Tony Ryall have announced more rationalisation of government agencies.

If you follow the link above you’ll see the proposals which include disestablishing five crown entities and three tribunals, merging two government agencies, establishing shared corporate services across the government’s three central agencies and consolidating the services of a number of others.

Thirty nine government departments, more than 150 Crown entities, excluding school boards, and more than 200 other agencies is far too many for a population of four million.

The aim of the rationalisation is to make government administration more efficient and reduce costs, duplication and waste.

It’s difficult to argue with the logic of that although no doubt those who aren’t concerned about the dead weight of government will.

Voting made difficult


An information pack arrived from the electoral Commission yesterday. The front page of the pamphlet said: voting in the referendum made easy.

On the other side was a flow chart which I reckon was more voting in the referendum made difficult. I found it left me with a lot more questions than answers.

If a political tragic who knows quite a bit about the referendum found it wanting, how useful is it to people who know little and aren’t particularly interested?

A website and telephone number were given and the website makes the process and options much clearer.

But what happens to all the people who are put off by the pamphlet, don’t try the phone number or website or don’t have access to a computer?

The results of the election will determine who governs us for the following three years. The results of the referendum could determine how we’re governed for decades.

It’s a very important process which deserves a much better explanation than this pamphlet provided.

Welfare back on agenda


The Welfare Working Group’s report slipped off the radar when the Christchurch earthquake struck the day after it was released.

But the government has put welfare back on the agenda.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced the formation of a special Ministerial group to work on reforms.

The report had a wide range of recommendations and Paula says:

“At this stage Ministers aren’t ruling out any recommendations, except requiring sole parents to look for work when any additional child born while on welfare, is 14 weeks old. That is a step too far for this Government.”

Not ruling out the other recommendations doesn’t mean they will be adopted. It means the group is taking an open minded approach to a very serious problem.

The group’s members are:  Hon Paula Bennett – Social Development and Employment;  Hon Bill English – Finance; Hon Simon Power – Justice;  Hon Tony Ryall – Health and State Services;  Hon Anne Tolley – Education; Hon Steven Joyce – Tertiary Education;  Hon Hekia Parata – Women’s Affairs

Other Ministers will attend meetings as required.

This is a very high powered group, reflecting the importance of the work it must do.

A compassionate society must provide assistance for those in genuine need. But it is not good for the people receiving the help or those paying for it if those who could look after themselves don’t.

There are few, if any answers to welfare reform and some of the solutions will be more expensive than the status quo, at least in the short term.

But for economic and social reasons we can’t keep letting people languish on benefits as a way of life if they could be supporting themselves.

May 31 in history


1279 BC – Rameses II (The Great) (19th dynasty) became pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

Ramesses II: one of four external seated statues at Abu Simbel

526  A an earthquke in Antioch, Turkey, killed 250,000.

1223 Mongol invasion of the Cumans: Battle of the Kalka River – Mongol armies of Genghis Khan led by Subutai defeated Kievan Rus and Cumans.


1578  Martin Frobisher sailed from Harwich,  to Frobisher Bay, Canada, eventually to mine fool’s gold, used to pave streets in London.

1669   Samuel Pepys recorded the last event in his diary.

1678  The Godiva procession through Coventry began.


1759  The Province of Pennsylvania banned all theatre productions.

1775  American Revolution: The Mecklenburg Resolutions adopted in the Province of North Carolina.

1790 Alferez Manuel Quimper explored the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

File:Manuel Quimper.jpg

1790 – The United States enacted its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.

1813  Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth, reached Mount Blaxland, effectively marking the end of a route across the Blue Mountains.


1819 Walt Whitman, American poet, was born (d. 1892).


1859  The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, started keeping time.


1862  American Civil War Peninsula Campaign: Battle of Seven Pines or (Battle of Fair Oaks) – Confederate forces under Joseph E. Johnston & G. W. Smith engaged Union forces under George B. McClellan outside Richmond, Virginia.

Battle of Fair Oaks Franklin's corps retreating.jpg

1864 American Civil War Overland Campaign: Battle of Cold Harbor – The Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee engaged the Army of the Potomac under Ulysses S. Grant & George G. Meade.

Battle of Cold Harbor.png

1866  In the Fenian Invasion of Canada, John O’Neill led 850 Fenian raiders across the Niagara Riveras part of an effort to  free Ireland from the English.

Battle of Ridgeway.jpg

1872 Heath Robinson, English cartoonist, was born (d. 1944).


1884 Arrival at Plymouth of Tawhiao,  Maori king, to claim protection of Queen Victoria.


1889 – Johnstown Flood: Over 2,200 people died after a dam break sent a 60-foot (18-meter) wall of water over the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Debris litters and completely covers the ground above a Pennsylvania Railroad bridge. A small bridge and several mills and smokestacks are viewable in the distance.

1898 Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, American clergyman, was born (d. 1993).


1902 The Treaty of Vereeniging ended the second Boer War war and ensured British control of South Africa.

1910 Creation of the Union of South Africa.

1911  The ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic was launched.

RMS Titanic 3.jpg

1916  World War I: Battle of Jutland – The British Grand Fleet under the command of Sir John Jellicoe & Sir David Beatty engaged the Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Reinhard Scheer & Franz von Hipper in the largest naval battle of the war, which proved indecisive.


1921  Tulsa Race Riot: A civil unrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the official death toll was 39, but recent investigations suggest the actual toll was much higher.

1923 Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, was born (d. 2005).

1924  The Soviet Union signed an agreement with the Peking government, referring to Outer Mongolia as an “integral part of the Republic of China”, whose “sovereignty” therein the Soviet Union promised to respect.

1927  The last Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.


1930 Clint Eastwood, American film director and actor, was born.

1935  A 7.7 Mw earthquake destroyed Quetta, Pakistan,: 40,000 dead.


1935 Jim Bolger, 35th Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.


1938 Peter Yarrow, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary), was born.


1939 Terry Waite, British humanitarian, was born.


1941  A Luftwaffe air raid in Dublin claimed 38 lives.

1942 World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines began a series of attacks on Sydney.

Ko-hyoteki Sydney.jpg

1943  Zoot Suit Riots began.

1961 Republic of South Africa created.


1962 The West Indies Federation dissolved.

1962  Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel.

1965 Brooke Shields, American actress and supermodel, was born.


1967 Phil Keoghan, New Zealand-born US televison personality, was born.

1970  The Ancash earthquake caused a landslide that buried the town of Yungay, Peru; more than 47,000 people were killed.

1970 Ancash earthquake is located in Peru 


1971  In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May for the first time, rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.

1973  The United States Senate voted to cut off funding for the bombing of Khmer Rouge targets within Cambodia, hastening the end of the Cambodian Civil War.

1975 Mona Blades, an 18 year-old htich hiker disappeared, after last being seen in an orange Datsun.

Mona Blades vanishes

1977  The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System completed.

Trans alaska international.jpg

1981  Burning of Jaffna library, Sri Lanka.

1985 Forty-one tornadoes hit Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, leaving 76 dead.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

Word of the day


Callithumpian – noisy demonstration; participant in a noisy mock serenade;  a member of an unspecified nonconformist religious sect;  a member of an unspecified political party or creed; a holder of any unspecified belief.

Untrue colours


Towards the end of my time at high school the board decided on a uniform change.

The grey gym frock which we wore with short sleeved shirts and socks in summer and long sleeved shirts and black tights in winters was to be replaced with a red tartan kilt in winter and a blue dress in summer.

“Blue? Why blue when the school colours were red and black?” we asked.

Those on the right side of the Waitaki River who are interested in rugby, and some who are not, are asking a similar question today: green, why green?

The question comes in response to the decision to change the Highlanders’ jersey from blue, gold and maroon the colours of Otago, North Otago and Southland, to green the colour of um, the grass they play on and some other province.

Respondents to an ODT poll have voted 90% (1321) to 10% (148) to keep the southern colours.

The Facebook page has attracted 1,853 likes and lots of comments including this from National’s Dunedin MP (and rugby referee) Michael Woodhouse:

 . . .  As for this happening because of the many players drafted in from outside the franchise area – sorry to be blunt but it’s not about you! You will leave. The fans won’t. this is about the thousands of fans who support this team through thick and thin over the past 15 years. Not a single one of them relates to anything but blue, maroon and gold. C’mon guys, be big enough to stop or reverse the announcement.

And an online petition has been launched saying:

Tradition and recognition is a huge part of the sport and yet the Highlanders Management seek to dissociate the Highlanders from the region. Sign this petition and Boycott the Force game!

The Highlanders have struggled for several seasons, severely testing the loyalty of fans. This year they’ve had some good wins and have been  regaining  support. This silly change in colours threatens to lose it again.

Have the people behind it spent too much time at the bottom of rucks?

Paying a fair share


Jamie Mackay in praising Maori Television makes an interesting observation:

It is also to be congratulated for being brave enough to go where the major networks feared to tread by running a telethon for the Canterbury Earthquake, raising $2.5 million in the process. Of that, Fonterra contributed $1 million, or roughly $90 per dairy farmer. The remainder of New Zealand contributed $1.5 million, or roughly 35 cents per man, woman and child. And the Dom Post says dairy farmers are not paying their fair share?

Fonterra also gave another $500,000 towards production costs so all money raised went to earthquake recovery. And who knows how much of the other $1.5 raised came from dairy farmers?

Labour’s line on dairy farmers not paying tax was classic wedge politics based on a selective use of numbers. As Jamie says:

It’s now abundantly clear the dodgy Dom Post beat-up was a softening-up process ahead of Labour’s attack on farming at its annual conference. The politics of envy is alive and kicking (farmers in the groin). It’s a shame some in the Beehive don’t take a moment to reflect on agriculture’s contribution to society and the economy, rather than being hell-bent on making it a divisive election issue, pitting town against country. Rich farmers are not the problem. Rich farmers are the solution.

Dairy farmers do pay a fair share of tax – most of us  would say we pay more than enough. At the moment we’re also doing more than our fair share for the economy and like most other New Zealanders, businesses and individuals, also contribute to worthy causes.

No danger of mad chooks pigs and fish?


European Union MPs are considering lifting the ban  lift the ban on feeding animal by-products to pigs, chickens and farmed fish.

The ban was imposed after cattle developed BSE (Mad Cow Disease) after eating such feed and people who ate the meat developed Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease – vCJD.

Chickens, pigs and fish are omnivores. The danger to health is thought to come from feeding processed animal products (PAP) to cattle and sheep which are not and the ban on feeding PAP would still apply to them.

The potential U-turn comes as concerns escalate about how the world will continue to feed itself against a backdrop of rapidly inflating food prices and a soaring population. At the moment, animal feed producers import vast quantities of soya from countries in South America, grown on land that could otherwise be used to feed people living there. Demand for soya-based animal feed is also fuelling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Although altering the composition of animal feed would make ecological sense, Britain’s livestock industry fears that the move would prove commercial suicide. A debate at the annual Pig & Poultry Live event earlier this month revealed many farmers were horrified by the EU proposal.

I think there would be strong market-resistance to this. I’m not allowed to be a blood donor in case I’m carrying vCJB because I was in Britain for several months in the early 80s.

Changing the law doesn’t force force farmers to give processed animal proteins (PAP) to their stock and those which didn’t would have a marketing advantage over those who did.

But even if it is safe to feed PAP to omnivores and there’s no danger of mad chickens, pigs and fish how could they stop anyone buying the feed and giving it – accidentally or on purpose – to sheep and cattle?

A better way to tackle feed-shortages would be to get rid of subsidies which lead to inefficient production.

Hat tip: PM of NZ

SMOG – campaign word of the week


It’s only Monday but it would be hard to beat SMOG as the campaign word of the week.

It comes from Keeping Stock and it stands for Social Media Own Goal.

Labour has an online game which jokes about rape. Maia at Capitalism Bad Tree Pretty (cross-posted at the Hand Mirror which has attracted comments) writes:

One of the basic rape-myths that help uphold a culture where sexual assault is endemic is that sometimes consent doesn’t matter. If you ever say that some people’s violation doesn’t matter – if you ever set some people up as unrapeable – then you, or in this case the Labour Party, are upholding that rape myth.

Rape is rape. It’s a crime. It’s never funny.

The game is called Let’s Not.  

Any political party which wants to be taken seriously should have enough sense to think “let’s not make jokes about rape”.

If Heather Simpson was still there she’d be saying “Let’s not have any more SMOGs.”

This isn’t the first SMOG Labour has made in the last few weeks but it’s definitely the worst.

Deliberate sabotage or stupidity?


Campaigning 101: a) stay on message. b) don’t take attention from the leader.

You could excuse Labour MPs for ignoring the first rule when the party hasn’t got much of a message to stay on. But flouting the second is either an act of deliberate sabotage or plain stupidity.

Which is it with Labour’s campaign manager who was silly enough to challenge Cameron Slater and backed-off when he didn’t like the counter-challenge.

Then in another desperate attempt to gain attention he does a tabloid blog post. (I’m not going to link to it, but here’s  Keeping Stock’s reaction.

Did Mallard fall on his head when he fell off his bike?

That might provide an explanation for what is bizarre behaviour for a senior MP but it’s no excuse for taking attention away from his leader who whichever poll you look at –   NZ Herald, TV3, TVNZ, –  needs all all the help he can get.

If he can’t depend on getting it from the party campaign manager who else is going to give it to him?

UPDATE: – Cameron has accepted the bike challenge without requiring acceptance of his counter-challenge.

What’s going to get more interest in the next couple of months – Labour’s leader or its campaign manager preparing for the challenge?

May 30 in history


70 Siege of Jerusalem: Titus and his Roman legions breached the Second Wall of Jerusalem. The Jewish defenders retreated to the First Wall. The Romans built a circumvallation, all trees within fifteen kilometres were cut down.

Arch of Titus Menorah.png

1416 The Council of Constance, called by the Emperor Sigismund, a supporter of Antipope John XXIII, burned Jerome of Prague following a trial for heresy.


1431  Hundred Years’ War: 19-year-old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by an English-dominated tribunal. Because of this the Catholic Church remember this day as the celebration of Saint Joan of Arc.

1434  Hussite Wars (Bohemian Wars): Battle of Lipany – effectively ending the war, Utraquist forces led by Diviš Bořek of Miletínek defeated and almost annihilated Taborite forces led by Prokop the Great.


1536  Henry VIII of England married Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to his first two wives.

1539  Hernando de Soto lands at Tampa Bay, Florida,  with 600 soldiers with the goal of finding gold.


1574  Henry III became King of France.

1588 The last ship of the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel.


1635  Thirty Years’ War: the Peace of Prague (1635) was signed.

1642  From this date all honours granted by Charles I were retrospectively annulled by Parliament.

1757 Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1844).


1806 Andrew Jackson killed Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson had accused Jackson’s wife of bigamy.

1814 Napoleonic Wars: War of the Sixth Coalition – the Treaty of Paris (1814) was signed returning French borders to their 1792 extent. 

1832  The Rideau Canal in eastern Ontario opened.

Locks in summer.

1842  John Francis attempted to murder Queen Victoria as she drove down Constitution Hill with Prince Albert.

1846 Peter Carl Fabergé, Russian goldsmith and jeweller, was born (d. 1920).


1854 The Kansas-Nebraska Act became law establishing the US territories of Nebraska and Kansas.

1859 Westminster’s Big Ben rang for the first time in London.

1868  Decoration Day (the predecessor of the modern “Memorial Day) was observed in the United States for the first time (By “Commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic” John A. Logan‘s proclamation on May 5).

1871  The Paris Commune fell.


1876  Ottoman sultan Abd-ul-Aziz was deposed and succeeded by his nephew Murat V.

1879 New York City’s Gilmores Garden was renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt and opened to the public at 26th Street and Madison Avenue.

1883  A rumour that the Brooklyn Bridge was going to collapse causes a stampede that crushes twelve people.

1911  At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first Indianapolis 500 ended with Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp becoming the first winner of the 500-mile auto race.


1913  First Balkan War: the Treaty of London, 1913 is signed ending the war. Albania becomes an independent nation.

1914  The new and then largest Cunard ocean liner RMS Aquitania, 45,647 tons, set sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City.

Aquitania 06.jpg

1815  The East Indiaman ship Arniston was wrecked during a storm at Waenhuiskrans, the loss of 372 lives.


1917  Alexander I became king of Greece.

1922  In Washington, D.C. the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated.


1941  World War II: Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas climb on the Athenian Acropolis, tear down the Nazi swastika and replace it with the Greek flag.


1942  World War II: 1000 British bombers launched a 90-minute attack on Cologne, Germany.


1948  A dike along the flooding Columbia River broke, obliterating Vanport, Oregon within minutes. Fifteen people die and tens of thousands are left homeless.

1955 Topper Headon, British musician (The Clash), was born.

1958  Memorial Day: the remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War respectively, were buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.


1959  The Auckland Harbour Bridge, crossing the Waitemata Harbour was officially opened by Governor-General Lord Cobham.

Auckland harbour bridge opened

1961  Long time Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo was assassinated in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Head and shoulders of a man with a small moustache wearing a military uniform with many medals on his chest. He is looking into the camera, smiling slightly.

1962 Kevin Eastman, American comic book creator (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), was born.

1963  A protest against pro-Catholic discrimination during the Buddhist crisis was held outside South Vietnam’s National Assembly, the first open demonstration during the eight-year rule of Ngo Dinh Diem.

1966 Former Congolese Prime Minister Evariste Kimba and several other politicians are publicly executed in Kinshasa on the orders of President Joseph Mobutu.

1967 Daredevil Evel Knievel jumped his motorcycle over 16 cars lined up in a row.


1967  The Nigerian Eastern Region declared independence as the Republic of Biafra, sparking a civil war.

1971 Mariner 9 was launched to map 70% of the surface, and to study temporal changes in the atmosphere and surface, of Mars.


1972 The Angry Brigade went on trial over a series of 25 bombings throughout Britain.


1972  In Tel Aviv members of the Japanese Red Army carried out the Lod Airport Massacre, killing 24 people and injuring 78 others.

1989  Tiananmen Square protests of 1989: the 33-foot high “Goddess of Democracy” statue was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.

1998  A magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit northern Afghanistan, killing up to 5,000.

2002– 272 days after the September 11 attacks, closing ceremonies were held for the clean up/recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site in New York City.

2003 – Depayin massacre: at least 70 people associated with the National League for Democracy were killed by government-sponsored mob in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi fled the scene, but was arrested soon afterwards.

Sourced from NZ History Online & WIkipedia

Another of those fortnights


It’s been another of those fortnights this week and the one before that and the one before that:

Monday: Home – Oamaru (sorting books for Rotary book fair) – home.

Tuesday: home – Dunedin – home.

Wednesday: home – Wanaka.

Thursday: Wanaka – Queenstown – Wanaka.

Friday: Wanaka – Millers Flat – Wanaka.

Saturday: Wanaka – home.

Sunday: home – Dunedin – home.

Monday home – Oamaru – home.

Tuesday:  home – Dunedin – Wanaka.

Wednesday:  Wanaka – Queenstown.

Thursday: Queenstown – home.

Friday: home – Christchurch (for National Party Mainland conference which I co-chaired on Saturday and Sunday).

Sunday: Christchurch – home.

Monday: home – Oamaru (more book sorting) – home – Wanaka.

Tuesday: Wanaka – Invercargill – Riverton (didn’t spot Mr Guyton) – Otahuti – home.

Wednesday: home – Christchurch – Wellington.

Friday: Wellington – Auckland.

Sunday: Auckland – Christchurch – home.

Memo to self: staying in the bar chatting  until 1am, after a National Party Northern Regional convention dinner, even when not drinking, isn’t a good idea when you have to fly back to the Mainland then drive for 3 1/2 hours the next day.

I got home an hour ago and am about to take myself to bed with the book I started reading in the plane – Joy Cowley’s Silent One.

Word of the day


Jackass – a foolish or stupid person; a blockhead; a male ass or donkey.

Not another by-election!


The headlines said: Winston staying quiet on by-election plans. The story below it began:

NZ First leader Winston Peters is keeping his cards close to his chest over whether he’ll suit up against John Banks in the Epsom by-election. . .

But if you follow the link : the story has disappearred.

Someone must have realised that it’s not another by-election. John Banks is Act’s candidate for Epsom in the general election.

Even if Epsom MP Rodney Hide resigned (and there’s absolutely no indication he will), we’re it’s less than six months to the election and parliament can agree to leave the seat vacant until the country goes to the polls on November 26.

Rural round-up


Photovoltaic energy neutral grass based dairy farms – Pasture to Profit writes:

Two grass based dairy farmers in the Pasture to Profit Network(one in Herefordshire & the other in Brittany, France) have or are about to achieve “Energy Neutral” status (with regard to electricity use on farm). Both have installed solar panels on their farm shed roofs.
Energy neutral status is where 100% of the energy that is consumed is actually generated by the farmer user. . .

Lancashire biogas plant is go – Paul at Business Blog writes:

A £3m farm-based anaerobic digestion plant in Lancashire has been officially “switched on”.

The Carr Farm plant, near Warton, will produce biogas from silage and energy crops grown on surrounding land to generate 800kW of electricity, enough to power more than 1,000 homes. . .

2010 kiwifruit season lifts return to growers:

A strong 2010 kiwifruit season has lifted total payments to growers above season forecasts, with a particular highlight being a significant boost in returns to GREEN kiwifruit growers over the 2009 season, ZESPRI’s 2010/11 financial results show.

Total returns to growers in 2010/11 improved from $849.0 million to $883.3 million compared to the prior year, an increase of four percent, with average Orchard Gate Returns to ZESPRI GREEN growers increasing nine percent to $32,234.

Net global kiwifruit sales increased one percent to $1.511 billion in 2010/11, despite the global volume of ZESPRI(r) Kiwifruit sold falling one percent in the same period. . .

Daily grind taking for the dairy farmer

The alarm clock shrills. It’s half- past-bloody-four and another farming day is under way.

At least it’s not raining, but he still needs the Swanndri. It’s cold. And actually the farm could do with some rain. Too dry; too wet. Seldom just right.

It’s a long haul to the shed from this night paddock. Always a toss-up whether to go for the best feed overnight and accept extra distance and time required in the morning.

He pressures the tailenders with the farm bike and acknowledges there are times when a dog might come in handy. The heifers at the back of the mob are playing up a bit, skirmishing across the track, head-butted by a few dominant older girls in the herd.

The lights in the shed snap on, a startling line of illumination ahead in the rural darkness, so Toni will be washing down the concrete, getting organised. . .

Hat tip: Lou at No  Minister (The comments on his post make interesting reading too).

Payout good for NZ – Sally Rae writes:

“It’s a great time to be a farmer.” South Otago farmer Stafford Ferguson was responding yesterday to Fonterra’s announcement of a record payout for the season.

Describing the news as very positive, Mr Ferguson said it was a good time to pay debt back, while the forecast third-highest payout on record for next season “just eases pressure” looking forward a year out . . .

Win from Wheelchiar special – Sally Rae again:

Grant Calder pulls no punches when he says “life in a wheelchair is a bit of a s … “.

However, he hopes his remarkable success at the recent South Island sheep dog trial championships will send a message to disabled people that “it’s not the end of the world”. . .

Find true quality? The scan man can –  more form Sally Rae:

Peter Clulee is enjoying a well-deserved break.

Mr Clulee, who operates Otago Ultrasound, doing both eye muscle and pregnancy scans on sheep, has had a hectic few months.

Since the end of January, he has been travelling the South Island doing muscle scanning, working as far north as Blenheim and right down to Southland. . .

Sir Michael Fay still milking it – Bevan Hurley writes:

Sir Michael Fay, one of the country’s richest men, has swapped the bank for the barnyard and bought a $9.2 million slice of New Zealand’s dairy heartland.

The investment banker and island owner now lists “farmer” as his occupation when filling out immigration forms. . .

Strawbwerry pav pigues US media interest


Luxury Queenstown hotelier The Rees and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have showcased the country’s fine wine and cuisine at US culinary institution The James Beard Foundation, described by Time magazine as the “Oscars of the food world”.


The event, dubbed “Flavors of New Zealand”, was hosted by New Zealand’s consul general in New York, and included a themed luncheon followed by an evening banquet featuring handpicked ingredients from 14 producers, matched with wine varieties from eight vineyards represented by Complexity Fine Wine Group. . .

An insatiable thirst for knowledge

Each day, as he goes around the dairy farm he manages, checking on the health and welfare of his human and animal friends and the land they share, Jason Halford carries with him two other dairy farmers.

“Geoff Arends is on my left shoulder and Bruce McCluskey is on my right,” he says. “I look at each situation and think what they would do. One day I’m Geoff, another I’m Bruce.”

They are the farmers who have influenced him most in the 17 years since he left school at 16 to go into dairying. . .




6/10 for the NZ Herald’s Question Time.

Memo to self: read questions properly before clicking answer.

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