There was no sign of the forecast snow when we got home about an hour ago, but it was -1 outside and only 6 degrees inside.

Word of the day


Benefit. – an advantage or profit gained from something/someone; a public performance or other entertainment, the profit from which is donated to a charitable cause; a payment or gift from an employer, insurance company or state; financial assistance in time of need; to receive advantage or gain from; to bring advantage to.

Welfare changes get my vote


Changes to assistance to and obligations from young beneficiaries announced by Prime Minister John Key today aim to prevent long term dependency.

They get my vote.

You can read the speech to the National Party’s 75th annual conference which explains them here.



6/10 in Stuff’s Biz Quiz.

Rural round-up


Quenching our thirst for water – Paul Callow:

Developing greater access to irrigation is critical to our economic prosperity and the private sector will likely play a big part.

New Zealand’s economy is heavily dependent on the agriculture sector for generating much of our wealth and wellbeing. The sector itself depends on a range of inputs, but by far the most important is water – you only have to look at the devastating effect recent droughts have had on dairy, lamb and beef production to realise just how important.

Interestingly, the problem is not that there isn’t enough water in an absolute sense; it is just that it often isn’t available in the right place at the right time . . .

NZ workers ‘lazy, unmotivated’: farmer – Sally Rae:

Productivity has soared since the Bloem family employed Filipino workers at its Highcliff piggery.

Long-time pig farmer Peter Bloem estimated his operation was producing an extra 1500 pigs a year from the same number of sows.

He had become frustrated with New Zealand workers who were “lazy, unmotivated and didn’t want to go the extra mile to learn anything”.

Training makes for better staff – Sally Rae:

When Brendan Morrison returned home to the family dairy farm in South Otago, his father encouraged him to do some further training.

Mr Morrison (22), who won this year’s Otago dairy trainee of the year in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, has completed training with AgITO from levels 3 to 4 and is enrolled in the national certificate in agribusiness management, agribusiness resource management, level 5. . .

Arthur’s nearly 80 and still on the job – Sue Newman:

Arthur Maude might be close to 80, but he reckons that’s got nothing to do with his ability to work.
He still puts in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, ask his employers.
They can’t speak highly enough of the man who headed for the hills as a 17-year-old to begin a career as a high country musterer. They call him “a legend”.
That was decades ago, more decades than Arthur cares to count.
The years might have somehow ticked by, but time has done nothing to dull his energy or his enthusiasm for rural life. He’s a stockman through and through and can’t see any reason why he should hang up his boots and raincoat or retire his dogs. . .

Eastern promise for beef & lamb:

NEW ZEALAND’S sheep and beef farmers are set to reap the benefits of booming trade and tumbling tariffs on exports to China, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Already, the China FTA is delivering annual tariff savings of nearly $25 million a year on sheep and beef exports of nearly $700m in 2010.

“Those volumes are trending upwards as China continues to develop rapidly, with a growing middle class population looking to increase protein consumption, and that includes our beef and lamb,” says BLNZ chief executive Scott Champion . . .

Fonterra, farmers blame retailers – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra farmers, fed up with being blamed for high milk prices, have turned the heat up on retailers, saying it’s time they explained their part in price setting.

The Fonterra Shareholders Council, which represents the interests of the big company’s 10,500 farmer owners, has urged Kiwis to consider the facts and figures around wholesale and retail milk prices.

Chairman Simon Couper said it will be clear neither farmers nor Fonterra are profiteering.

“Retailers owe New Zealanders a fair description of their part in taking wholesale priced milk to the consumer,” he said.

Dairy industry figures show the wholesale price of a litre of house brand milk in New Zealand is $1.11 . . .

Survey highlights effect of salmonella on sheep population –  Mary Witsey:

The preliminary results of the Southland Salmonella Brandenburg survey confirm the impact the infectious disease is having on the province’s sheep population.

Fifty-five Southland sheep farmers responded to the VetSouth survey, with almost one-third saying that their stock had been affected by the disease last season.

Thirty-eight per cent said their animals had suffered abortions last season, with 29 per cent attributing those losses to Salmonella Brandenburg . . .

Manager gets to know new patch – Mary Witsey:

Fonterra’s newly appointed Western Southland area manager is looking forward to meeting the dairy farmers in her patch.

Alana Tait has been on the road this month introducing herself to Fonterra suppliers around Western and Central Southland, as she settles into her new role.

No stranger to the district, she grew up in Central Southland and worked in the rural banking sector, and as a fertiliser field consultant, after completing a degree at the University of Otago . . .

Farmers forced to ride out currency, export volitility – Owen Hembry:

Volatility is a fact of life for exporters, says Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills.

Farmers had been looking with increasing concern at a rampant kiwi currency but the world had changed a lot in the past week and the dollar was down, which was useful, Wills said.

“I’m guessing we’re probably going to see commodity prices come back as well because the economies that we sell into are obviously now suffering some sort of contagion that they haven’t previously felt,” he said . . .

British heir sells off chunk of farm – Martin van Beynen:

British banking heir David de Rothschild has made a small gain on the sale of his Hickory Bay farm on Banks Peninsula.

The eco-adventurer and author had big plans for the property, but few appear to have come to fruition before he sold most of the farm in April to Ashburton company Hickory Bay Farm Ltd, shareholders of which include dairy farmer Keith Townshend, his wife Rosemary and Rachel and Kristin Savage.

Townshend bought 382 hectares of the 442ha property for $3.2 million. De Rothschild has retained a 60ha block, which has remnants of native bush . . .

Taipei Bloggers Create A Buzz Around New Zealand Beef:

Taiwan’s tastemakers are helping to set a new consumer trend for pure and natural New Zealand beef.

The local blogosphere is abuzz with appetizing photos and recipes singing the praises of our product, hailing it as delicious and nutritious.

The blogs follow three cooking class-style workshops hosted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand in a Taipei culinary school.

The industry-good organization invited 96 of the city’s young foodies to come along and learn about grass-fed beef, and have a go at cooking it for themselves. . .



8/10 in the Herald’s Question Time.

Full story concludes with applause


A broad based party has members with a broad range of views, some of which don’t follow the party line.

A couple of questions to Finance Minister Bill English after his speech to the National Party’s 75th annual conference yesterday came into that category and were described by as friendly fire

“If we want to rebalance our economy towards savings and exports, we need dynamic investment markets that offer attractive options for savers and enable local businesses to access the capital the need to expand,” English told delegates.

“Extending the mixed ownership model will provide attractive investment opportunities for Kiwi mums and dads and capital for the Government to reinvest in social infrastructure like schools and hospitals – reducing our borrowing requirements,” English said.

In a question and answer session, two delegates expressed concern on whether government would look to ensure shares sold initially to New Zealanders would stay in New Zealand hands, and not be on-sold to foreign investors.

English replied to one delegate that incentives to keep shares in New Zealand hands would not go as far as banning New Zealanders from selling the shares on to foreigners.
Another delegate told English he was not convinced about the government’s argument the shares would be locally-owned.

English replied by saying some foreign ownership in New Zealand’s share market was something that had been lived with for as long as there had been a share market in this country, while foreign ownership in the share market had been dropping over the last five or six years.

“Kiwis will still have the opportunity to on-sell the shares, otherwise it’s not a market,” English said.

“You can’t say, you can have the share but not sell it to anybody,” he said.

The policy should not be driven too much by the fear of New Zealanders being able to on-sell their shares to foreigners. Rather, it should focus on the fact energy prices may come down, and the fact that the sell-down would free up government capital for other investment, English said.

That is an accurate report of the questions and answers but anyone reading it could easily think that the questioners’ views were representative of the audience.

They weren’t and that was shown by the applause given to Bill’s answers from the more than 600 other delegates.

We have an open economy which welcomes inwards investment. It might be possible to give New Zealanders first preference in the sale of minority shareholdings of state owned assets. But unless we want the sort of laws better suited to North Korea, the new owners will be free to sell them to the highest bidder wherever they might come from.

However, the government will retain a majority share and with institutions like superannuation funds, ACC and community trusts eager to invest funds domestically, as well as individuals looking for somewhere a lot safer than finance companies for their investments, it’s a safe bet that a good number of the minority of the shares sold will stay in New Zealand hands.

Bill’s speech Building a Competitive Economy is here.

Conference lines


A full day at the National Party’s 75th annual conference yesterday finishing with the 75th anniversary dinner isn’t conducive to writing a detailed post.

Instead here are a few of the more memorable lines:

John Key: I had just one instruction for Bill English this year – match the USA’s credit rating, and he’s done it.

Bill English: There are only two ways to get rid of debt – pay it off or write it off.


New Zealanders need better opportunities for investment than shaky finance companies.

Gerry Brownlee: The thing that makes me most proud to be a New Zealander Was the way the whole country responded to help Christchurch.

August 14 in history


1183  Taira no Munemori and the Taira clan took the young Emperor Antoku and the three sacred treasures and fled to western Japan to escape pursuit by the Minamoto clan.

1385 – Portuguese Crisis of 1383–1385: Battle of Aljubarrota – Portuguese forces commanded by King João I and his general Nuno Álvares Pereira defeated the Castilian army of King Juan I.


1598  Nine Years War: Battle of the Yellow Ford – Irish forces under Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, defeated an English expeditionary force under Henry Bagenal.

1842 Indian Wars: Second Seminole War ended. 

1846  The Cape Girardeau meteorite, a 2.3 kg chondrite-type meteorite struck near in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.

1867 John Galsworthy, English novelist and Nobel Prize Laureate, was born (d. 1933).

1880  Construction of Cologne Cathedral was completed.


1885  Japan’s first patent was issued to the inventor of a rust-proof paint.

1888  A recording of English composer Arthur Sullivan’s The Lost Chord, one of the first recordings of music ever made, was played during a press conference introducing Thomas Edison’s phonograph in London. 

1891 Petitions organised by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) seeking women’s suffrage and signed by a total of 9000 women were presented to New Zealand’s Parliament.

Women's vote petitions presented to Parliament

1893  France introduced motor vehicle registration.

1900  A joint European-Japanese-United States force (Eight-Nation Alliance) occupied Beijing, in a campaign to end the Boxer Rebellion.

1901  The first claimed powered flight, by Gustave Whitehead in his Number 21.

1908  The first beauty contest was held in Folkestone.

1912  United States Marines invaded Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government.

1921  Tannu Tuva, later Tuvinian People’s Republic was established as a completely independent country.

1933  Loggers caused a forest fire in the Coast Range of Oregon – the first forest fire of the Tillamook Burn

1935  United States Social Security Act passes, creating a government pension system for the retired.

1936 Rainey Bethea was hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last public execution in the United States.

1937 Chinese Air Force Day: The beginning of air-to-air combat of the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II in general, when 6 Imperial Japanese Mitsubishi G3M bombers were shot down by the Nationalist Chinese Air Force.

1941 David Crosby, American musician, was born.


1941 Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Atlantic Charter of war stating postwar aims. 

1945  Steve Martin, American actor and comedian, was born. 

1945 Japan accepted the Allied terms of surrender  and the Emperor recorded the Imperial Rescript on Surrender. 

1946 Susan Saint James, American actress, was born.


1947  Pakistan and India gained Independence from the British Indian Empire and joined the British Commonwealth.

1948  Don Bradman, widely regarded as the best cricket batsman in history, makes a duck in his final Test innings.


1950  Gary Larson, American cartoonist (The Far Side), was born.


1967  UK Marine Broadcasting Offences Act declared participation in offshore pirate radio illegal.

1969 British troops were deployed in Northern Ireland.

1972  An East German Ilyushin Il-62 crashed during takeoff from East Berlin, killing 156.

1980  Lech Wałęsa led strikes at the Gdańsk shipyards.

1987  All the children held at Kia Lama, a rural property on Lake Eildon, Australia, run by the Santiniketan Park Association, were released after a police raid.

1994 Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the terrorist known as “Carlos the Jackal“, was captured.

2003  Widescale power blackout in the northeast United States and Canada.

2006  Chencholai bombing – 61 Tamil girls were killed in Sri Lankan Airforce bombing.


2007   Kahtaniya bombings killed at least 400 people.

2010 – 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games, first ever Youth Olympics, officially started in Singapore.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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