Word of the day


Cheese – the curd of milk separated from the whey and prepared as a food; a definite mass of this substance, often in the shape of a wheel or cylinder; something of similar shape or consistency, as a mass of pomace in cider-making;  partly digested milk curds sometimes spit up by infants; an important person (big cheese); to forge (an ingot or billet) into a cheese.

Lifetime achievement award for Bob Berry


The New Zealand Specialist Cheese Association has presented Whitestone Cheese founder Bob Berry was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the country’s speciality cheese industry.

Bob started his working life as a stock agent before taking over his own farm. He and his wife Sue started Whitestone Cheese in 1987 in an attempt to overcome the ag-sag.

We were privileged to be at the company’s 25th anniversary celebrations and listened in admiration to the story of how the company started and grew. Whitestone now supplies delicious cheeses to outlets throughout New Zealand and has a growing export market.

The company has been a consistent winner in cheese awards since the early days and in last night’s Cuisine Champions of Cheese awards notched up another two wins – the Vintage Blue won the Ecolab Champion Blue Cheese Award and the Whitestone Range won the Caspack Champion Cheese Packaging Award.

The Oamaru Mail reports:

The company’s flagship cheese, Windsor Blue, has won more awards than any other cheese in New Zealand. Whitestone Cheeses have also been included in gift packs at the Oscars after-parties in the US.

Whitestone Cheese attributes its success to the use of locally sourced ingredients, including rich North Otago milk and traditional cheesemaking techniques.

Earlier this month son and general manager Simon Berry told the Oamaru Mail his father was often still on the road promoting the brand.

“Bob will never retire. He’s a bit like an old farmer; always tapping away at his fences,” he said.

He also acknowledged how Whitestone Cheese had become a proud North Otago institution, creating plenty of regional pride among his workers and the wider community.

“There is a bit of a culture of pride. We’re up there with the world’s best and we’re just from little Oamaru.”

The pride is justified, the cheese is delicious and most of it is named after North Otago localities or geographical features.

You can find out more about the company and order cheese online here.

If you watch the TV ad on the front page, you’ll  hear Bob and get an idea of his passion for his cheese.

The full list of 2012 Cuisine Cheese champions is here.

More late referrals from Electoral Commission


The Electoral Commission has made more referrals to the police:

  1. Mediaworks for the broadcast of The Jono Project on TV3 on 4 November 2011, which in the Electoral Commission’s view was an election programme, contrary to section 70 of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
  2. Five comments posted by members of the public on social media on election day, which in the Electoral Commission’s view were advising or intended or likely to influence any elector as to the candidate or party or referendum option for whom the elector should or should not vote, contrary to section 197(1)(g)(i) of the Electoral Act 1993.

The offending episode of the Jono Project is here.

I haven’t watched it nor do I know what the comments on social media were and where they were made.

But this is yet another example of how our electoral law is failing.

If we have laws about acts which might influence the election they are ineffective if they’re not policed and any breaches acted on before the election.


Why work is better than welfare


Why is work better than welfare?

Why do we think it is better for them to go to work? Well, if you look at the system that has been in place now through a number of Governments, you see that that system supports high levels of income for people in work. Let us take somebody who works 20 hours a week and leaves the domestic purposes benefit. They get the minimum family tax credit, which is $22,204 a year, and on top of that they get the in-work tax credit, which is $3,120 a year— all of which adds up to about $25,300 a year for 20 hours. The domestic purposes benefit for that person would be $15,000. That household will be considerably better off. This Government is also investing $130 million in support for those mothers, whether it is in retraining or in childcare facilities.  . .

. . . If you add to that the fact that the Government is providing enormous support around these families and individuals in terms of retraining and help, I personally think it is actually helping those families to give them the assistance, to give them the training, to give them the childcare facilities, and to actually make sure that they get an opportunity to fill their lives. And if anyone thinks that that is going to come through a lifetime on welfare, then they should go all the way back to the architect of the welfare system, Michael Joseph Savage, whose exact words were: “Welfare will never be an armchair ride to prosperity.” John Key

Has the Minister seen . . . ?


Questions and answers  of the day:

Maggie Barry: Why is it important to keep Government debt under control?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: You only need to watch TV any night of the week currently to see the impacts of excessive debt on some of our communities. The best reason to get on top of debt is to protect our most vulnerable, because our most vulnerable are most dependent on sustained support from the Government, and Governments with too much debt cannot sustain support for their most vulnerable.


Maggie Barry: Has the Minister seen any reports of alternative approaches to managing debt?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have heard reports that indicate that other political parties do not believe that it should be managed at all. In fact, they are proposing that the Government should not sell shares in some assets, because they would rather go to volatile international financial markets and borrow billions more, paying interest to overseas lenders rather than dividends to New Zealanders.

Where are the jobs?


The very restrained and moderate welfare reforms announced by the government have resulted in the obvious question: where are the jobs for the beneficiaries who could work and will now be expected to seek work?

One answer lies in occupations where there is a high proportion of immigrants, among which is dairying.

It is work which requires stamina and the ability to work long hours but the tasks required of basic dairy workers aren’t particularly difficult to master.

Most position offer on-farm accommodation. Workers also have the opportunity to study through AgITO, gain qualifications and promotion.

Yet people who advertise for dairy workers often end up with immigrants because they can’t find New Zealanders willing to do the job.

Last year our dairy farms had a distinctly international look with staff from Belgium, England, the USA, Ireland, Sweden and Nigeria.

More than 1,000 people from the Philipines  are working, or will be next season, on dairy farms in Southland.

It might not be easy for solo-parents to find child-care to enable them to work the hours required in dairying and some older people might not cope with the physical demands of the job.

But there are jobs there for younger people who aren’t primary caregivers with the will to work.

Leap Day


Today’s today in history post was shorter than usual because it’s Leap Day, the extra day added to February every four years to keep the calendar in sync with the sun.

It is traditionally the day in which women can propose to men:

According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every 4 years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar.

In some places, Leap Day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day. In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.

 Proof indeed that not all traditions are good ones.

February 29 in history


1468 – Pope Paul III  was born(d. 1549)

1504 – Christopher Columbus used his knowledge of a lunar eclipse that night to convince Native Americans to provide him with supplies.

1692 –  John Byrom, English poet was born (d. 1763)

1704 – Queen Anne’s War: French forces and Native Americans stagd a raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, killing 56 villagers and taking more than 100 captive.

1712 – February 29 was followed by February 30 in Sweden, in a move to abolish the Swedish calendar for a return to the Old style.

1720 – Queen Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden abdicated in favour of her husband, who became King Frederick I.

1796 – The Jay Treaty between the United States and Great Britain came into force, facilitating ten years of peaceful trade between the two nations.

1812 – Sir James Wilson, Premier of Tasmania, was born (d. 1880)

1840 – John Philip Holland, Irish inventor (submarine) was born (d. 1914)

1852 – George Maximilianovich, 6th Duke of Leuchtenberg, Russian nobleman, was born (d. 1912)

1864 – American Civil War: Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid failed – plans to free 15,000 Union soldiers being held near Richmond, Virginia were thwarted.

1892 – St. Petersburg, Florida was incorporated.

1896 – Morarji Desai, Prime Minister of India (d. 1995)

1904 – Jimmy Dorsey, American bandleader was born (d. 1957).

1904 – Wolfe+585, Senior (alleged date), German-born American typesetter who has the longest personal name ever used (death year unknown).

1916 – Dinah Shore, American singer and actress (d. 1994)

1916 – Child labour: In South Carolina, the minimum working age for factory, mill, and mine workers was raised from twelve to fourteen years old.

1924 – Sir David Beattie, New Zealand Governor-General was born (d. 2001)

Sir David and Lady Beattie

1932 – Time magazine featured eccentric American politician William “Alfalfa” Murray on its cover after Murray stated his intention to run for President of the United States.

1936 – Baby Snooks, played by Fanny Brice, debuted on the radio programme The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.

1940 – For her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award.

1940Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople was born.

1940 – Finland initiated Winter War peace negotiations

1940 – In a ceremony held in Berkeley, California, because of the war, physicist Ernest Lawrence received the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics from Sweden’s Consul General in San Francisco.

1944 – World War II: The Admiralty Islands were invaded in Operation Brewer led by American General Douglas MacArthur.

1952 – The island of Heligoland was restored to German authority.

1956 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced to the nation that he was running for a second term.

1960 – An earthquake in Morocco killed over 3,000 people and nearly destroyed Agadir in the southern part of the country.

1960 – Family Circus made its debut.

1964 – Opening of first road to Maungapohatu.

Opening of first road to Maungapohatu

1964 – In Sydney, Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser set a new world record in the 100-meter freestyle swimming competition (58.9 seconds).

1972 – Vietnam War Vietnamisation – South Korea withdrew 11,000 of its 48,000 troops from Vietnam.

1972 – Hank Aaron became the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to sign a $200,000 contract.

1980 – Gordie Howe of the then Hartford Whalers made NHL history as he scores his 800th goal.

1984 – Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced he would retire as soon as the Liberals could elect another leader.

1988 – South African archbishop Desmond Tutu was arrested along with 100 clergymen during a five-day anti-apartheid demonstration in Cape Town.

1988 – Svend Robinson became the first member of the Canadian House of Commons to come out as gay.

1996 – Faucett Flight 251 crashed in the Andes, killing 123 people.

2004 – Jean-Bertrand Aristide was removed as President of Haiti following a coup.

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