Word of the day

March 1, 2012

Corgi – dwarf dog; either of two long-bodied short-legged sturdy breeds of dog, the Cardigan and the Pembroke, also called Welsh corgi.


Google doodle: dafs and dragon

March 1, 2012

When I’ve googled a couple of times today I’ve ended up on the New Zealand page on which it’s business as usual.

But if you go to google.co.uk you find the Google doodle depicts a dragon in a field of daffodils in honour of St David’s Day and Wales whose patron saint he is.

Google doodle: St David's Day dragon

St David :
or Dewi Sant, as he is known in the Welsh language, . . . was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century. During his life, he was the archbishop of Wales, and he was one of many early saints who helped to spread Christianity among the pagan Celtic tribes of western Britain. . . Dewi was a very gentle person who lived a frugal life. It is claimed that he ate mostly bread and herbs – probably watercress, which was widely used at the time. Despite this supposedly meagre diet, it is reported that he was tall and physically strong. . . Dewi is sometimes known, in Welsh, as ‘Dewi Ddyfrwr’ (David the Water Drinker) and, indeed, water was an important part of his life – he is said to have drunk nothing else. Sometimes, as a self-imposed penance, he would stand up to his neck in a lake of cold water, reciting Scripture. . .
Hat Tip: The Guardian

Is this a record?

March 1, 2012

Is this a record?

The 50th parliament sat for a couple of days last year. It is now coming to the end of its second week this year and Speaker Lockwood Smith has already ejected an MP from the House.

It comes as no surprise that the MP was Winston Peters who was not an MP in the previous parliament when the Speaker asserted his authority to clean up behaviour.

Peters has been testing the limits and learned today when he called Gerry Brownlee an illiterate woodwork teacher that this Speaker takes a much firmer line than his predecessors.


Rural round up

March 1, 2012

US dairy lobby drops oppostion to NZ export access:

An American dairy producers’ group has dropped its longstanding opposition to New Zealand dairy exports being included in the nine-country trade talks known as the TransPacific Partnership, or TPP.

The backdown by the United States Dairy Export Council comes as New Zealand negotiators prepare to take on the US over dairy access in the talks. . .

NZ Farming Systems ekes out $US 367000 1h profit:

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, the South American dairy farmer that was bailed out by Singaporean owner Olam International, eked out a small profit in the first half on higher milk sales and a one-time accounting gain on he value of livestock.

Profit was US$367,000 in the six months ended Dec. 31, from a loss of $6.77 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales jumped 81 percent to $34 million.

Farming Systems first-half result would have been a loss of $5.1 million, if not for a fair-value adjustment on livestock of US$5.5 million. In the year-earlier period there was no adjustment.. .

North Island beef processing competition heats up - Allan Barber:

In spite of the slow start to theNorthIslandseason, currently 18% behind last year, forecasts suggest it will catch up, even exceed last season. But it is certain to come late with dairy farmers likely to keep milking as long as they can, unless we get an unseasonably cold early winter. What’s also certain is there will be plenty of processing capacity to handle it, especially when the Te Aroha rebuild is finished. . .

Battle of employment philosophies spreading – Allan Barber:

The weekend’s announcement by AFFCO of a lockout at five of itsNorth Islandmeat plants comes hard on the heels of the three week strike by the Ports of Auckland stevedores, following several months of increasingly acrimonious negotiations.

 Unless it gets agreement to its proposal, AFFCO intends to lock out 758 of its meat workers covered under the Core Collective Agreement which expired last September and which the company has been trying to renegotiate unsuccessfully with the Meat Workers Union for some months now. . .

Cooper’s resignation signals broader meat industry frsutration – Allan Barber:

Keith Cooper’s resignation from the board of Beef & Lamb New Zealand, sudden as it appeared to be, had been brewing for a time. Cooper had previously expressed frustration with farmer directors’ lack of commercial awareness, terming it naivety, and obviously believed B&LNZ was getting involved in areas it should leave to the meat companies, such as market development. . .

Australian Dairy conference – the use of social media by dairy farmers- Pasture to Profit:

“Consumers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” This was one of the powerful messages from Charlie Arnot CEO of the Centre of Food Integrity (@foodintegrity, @charlie_Arnot) presented at the Australian Dairy conference (#ausdairy) in Warragul, Victoria, Australia.

Charlie spoke of the need for all farmers to acquire a “Social License to operate” by building trust with not only the local community but in fact all consumers & customers of the food farmers produce.  http://www.foodintegrity.org/   Trying to defend farmers & farming practices by arguing with science or attacking the attackers is clearly failing. . .

Smart on-farm management is good risk maangement - Pasture to Profit:

Simple low cost On farm management changes can substantially contribute to a better environmental outcome. This is a really powerful & positive message to come out of the Massey University’s Fertilizer & Lime Research Centre’s conference held last week at Massey’s campus at Palmerston North, NZ.

Over 3 days there were papers from researchers, consultants, farmers, Regional Councils, the fertilizer industry & environmental groups…..


Thursday’s quiz

March 1, 2012

1. Who said: “We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”? 

2. It’s viein French, vita in Italian, vida in Spanish and koiora in Maori, what is it in English?

3. Who is the only NZ Governor General who was born in the South island?

4. Name two of the four members of The Monkees.

5. Which is your favourite of their songs?


Tourist hot-spots and hot tourist spots

March 1, 2012

There are tourist hot spots and there are hot tourist spots.

The hot-spots are the ones most people know about and where most tourists will be directed by travel agents.

The hot tourist spots are often less well known and none the less attractive for that. Among these is Oamaru and its hinterland and it’s not just parochial people like me who think so.

In this month’s 25th anniversary issue of Cuisine Amanda Hyde lists 25 of the hippest destinations.

Only two of the hip destinations are in New Zealand - one of those is the Te Araroa Trail, the other is the Waitaki Valley and Oamaru.

 Want your holiday to come with spectacular scenery, good food, top wine and cute penguins? Head to New Zealand’s Waitaki Valley.

Oamaru’s beautiful historic stone buildings will transport you back several centuries – complete the illusion with morning tea at Annie’s Victorian Tea Rooms, where you’ll be served leaf tea and homemade cakes by staff dressed in period costume.

Steampunk HQ continues the historic vibe – through art, music, film and machines, it imagines a world where steam power is king.

The region is also home to the renowned Riverstone Kitchen, Fleurs Place and The Loan & Merc, as well as a host of vineyards and, of course, the blue penguin colony. visitoamaru.co.nz

The ODT and Oamaru Mail have more on the story.

If you want to learn more about the area’s charms, have a look at Oamaru Life. This is the blog written by the owner of Pen-y-bryn Lodge, a  five star, category-one historic residence. He has travelled widely and lived in many different exotic locations but is now pleased and proud to call Oamaru home.


Science when it suits

March 1, 2012

The Taranaki Daily News has a very good editorial on how the Greens want to have their scientific cake and eat it too:

. . . It is fascinating that the Green Party clearly supports science and scientists when the issue is climate change but sees little stock in the science and scientists when the issue is something that might run counter to their ideology.

Which is what this is all about. Because it most definitely is not about the science, the rational.

It is the pursuit of ideology that puts the Greens in bed with one set of scientists but has them estranged from another. And that politically inspired hypocrisy is a disservice both to the party and the New Zealand scientific community they should be supporting, celebrating, promoting. . .

Science is good when it suits their argument but not when it doesn’t.


Before and after or with and without?

March 1, 2012

Did Justice Forrest Miller’s ruling on the Crafar Farm sale reflect parliament’s intention when it passed legislation governing overseas purchases of farm land?

Sally Peart, a partner in Marks and Worth Lawyers doesn’t think so:

In order for consent to be granted, the ministers must be satisfied the benefit to New Zealand from the acquisition is likely to be “substantial and identifiable”. Justice Miller’s decision turns on the way in which this assessment is made.   

The wording of the Act lists the factors to be considered and requires a determination of whether the overseas investment will, or is likely to, result in certain benefits, for example, the introduction into New Zealand of additional investment for development purposes.   

What it does not state is what the starting point for that assessment is.   

Logic and the wording of the legislation suggests the current state of affairs (in this case, the run-down condition of the Crafar farms) must be the starting point. Justice Miller      describes this as “a before and after approach”. In other words, compared with the current position, will the overseas investment result in increased benefit to New Zealand?   

Justice Miller states this approach is incorrect and ministers ought to have taken a different approach, a “with or without” approach.   

This approach looks at what would happen if the investment did not proceed. In other words, would the benefits arise anyway even if the investment did not go ahead?   

In the Crafar farms case, he concluded the benefits would arise anyway on the basis someone would buy the farms and upgrade them.

This may well be the case, but is that an approach that flows from the wording of the legislation?   

In my view, it is not. More to the point, in my view it is a considerable stretch to say the OIO’s approach is one which is misdirected as to the law.   

A New Zealand buyer could do the same upgrading and make similar other investments as a foreigner would, but there is no requirement to do so nor comeback if it’s not done.

However, if foreigners buy New Zealand farmland the OIO can impose conditions on them which they must meet.

The fact this decision by the minister has taken nine months in itself is embarrassing for us on the international stage,      let alone the fact it has now been sent back to be made again. This is ironic considering one of the relevant factors is “whether refusing the application is likely to adversely      affect New Zealand’s image overseas”. Even the “with or without” approach of Justice Miller would struggle to refute that one. . .    

It is not a simple matter and the government is seeking advice on seeking a declaratory ruling on Justice Miller’s ruling:

Prime Minister John Key said at his post-Cabinet press conference he would be“uncomfortable” if his Ministers made a decision on the bid to buy the 16 Crafar family farms without having a firm grasp on the judgment, which found the Office Investment Office “materially overstated” the benefits to the New Zealand economy of the bid.

The government is “keen to make sure that the Overseas Investment Office fully understands the judgement from Justice Miller,” he said, especially given the Michael Fay-led consortium of rival bidders has taken the matter to the Court of Appeal.

 “Until that position is clarified, I think it would be extremely dangerous for any party, either the ministers or the OIO, to move forward,” Key said. “That leaves the government in a terrible position, because Ministers ultimately could be judicially reviewed again and no-one wants to be in that position.”

Given the lack of certainty, Key said he would be surprised if the OIO made an early recommendation. 

It is a very serious matter which will seriously limit foreign purchases of farm land.

That might please the xenophobes who don’t understand the positive impacts from foreign investment but it is almost certainly not what parliament intended when the legislation was enacted.


March 1 in history

March 1, 2012

On March 1:

752 BC Romulus, first king of Rome celebrated the first Roman triumph after his victory over the Caeninenses.

86 BC  Lucius Cornelius Sulla, at the head of a Roman Republic army, entered Athens, removing the tyrant Aristion who was supported by troops of Mithridates VI of Pontus.

286  Roman Emperor Diocletian raised Maximian to the rank of Caesar.

293  Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian appointed Constantius Chlorus and Galerius as Caesares,  beginning the Tetrarchy.

317 Crispus and Constantine II, sons of Roman Emperor Constantine I, and Licinius Iunior, son of Emperor Licinius, were made Caesares.

1445  Sandro Botticelli, Italian painter, was born (d. 1510).

1449 Lorenzo de’ Medici, Italian statesman, was born (d. 1492).

1457 The Unitas Fratrum was established in the village of Kunvald, on the Bohemian-Moravian borderland. It is the second oldest Protestant denomination.

1562 23 Huguenots were massacred by Catholics in Wassy marking the start of the French Wars of Religion.

1565 The city of Rio de Janeiro was founded.

1628 Writs were issued by Charles I of England mandating that every county in England (not just seaport towns) pay ship tax by this date.

1633 Samuel de Champlain reclaimed his role as commander of New France on behalf of Cardinal Richelieu.

1692 Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba were brought before local magistrates in Salem Village, Massachusetts, beginning the Salem witch trials.

1810 Frédéric Chopin, Polish composer, was born (d. 1849).

1811 Leaders of the Mameluke dynasty were killed by Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali.

1815 Napoleon returned to France from his banishment on Elba.

1840 Adolphe Thiers became prime minister of France.

1852 Archibald William Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

1870 Marshal F.S. López died during the Battle of Cerro Corá marking the end of the War of the Triple Alliance.

1872 Yellowstone National Park was established as the world’s first national park.

1873 E. Remington and Sons in Ilion, New York began production of the first practical typewriter.

1886 Maungatautari Whare Uta (Maori bank) was created in response to Maori concern they were being cheated by Pakeha bankers.

Maungatautari Whare Uta (Maori bank) created

1886 The Anglo-Chinese School, Singapore was founded by Bishop William Oldham.

1893 Nikola Tesla made the first public demonstration of radio in St. Louis, Missouri.

1896 Battle of Adowa: an Ethiopian army defeated an outnumbered Italian force, ending the First Italo–Ethiopian War.

1896 Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity.

1904 Glenn Miller, American bandleader, was born  (d. 1944).

1901 The Shotover Bridge (from which I threw myself three years ago – on a bungy cord) opened.

Shotover River bridge opened

1910 The worst avalanche in United States history buried a Great Northern Railway train in northeastern King County, Washington, killing 96 people.

1910 David Niven, English actor, was born (d. 1983).

1912 Albert Berry made the first parachute jump from a moving airplane.

1917 Robert Lowell, American poet, was born (d. 1977).

1919 March 1st Movement began in Korea.

1922 Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born  (d. 1995).

1927 Harry Belafonte, American musician and activist, was born.

1932 The son of Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, was kidnapped.

1936 The Hoover Dam was completed.

1936 – A strike occurred aboard the S.S. California, leading to the demise of the International Seamen’s Union and the creation of the National Maritime Union.

1939 Japanese Imperial Army ammunition dump exploded at Hirakata, Osaka, killing 94.

1939 Trans-Canada Air Lines (forerunner of Air Canada) begins transcontinental operations (between Vancouver and Montreal).

1944 – Mike d’Abo, English singer (Manfred Mann), was born.

1944 Roger Daltrey, English musician (The Who), was born.

1946 The Bank of England was nationalised.

1947 The International Monetary Fund began financial operations.

1953 Joseph Stalin suffered a stroke and collapsed, he died four days later.

1954  Ron Howard, American actor and director, was born.

1954 Nuclear testing: The Castle Bravo, a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb, was detonated on Bikini Atoll resulting in the worst radioactive contamination ever caused by the United States.

1956  Dalia Grybauskaite, President of Lithuania, was born.

1956  The International Air Transport Association finalised a draft of the Radiotelephony spelling alphabet for the International Civil Aviation Organization.

1956 – Formation of the National People’s Army.

1961  President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps.

1961 – Uganda became self-governing and held its first elections.

1964 Villarrica Volcano began a strombolian eruption causing lahas that destroy half of the town Coñaripe.

1966 – Venera 3 Soviet space probe crashed on Venus becoming the first spacecraft to land on another planet‘s surface.

1966 – The Ba’ath Party took power in Syria.

1973 Black September terrorists stormed the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, Sudan resulting in the 1973 Khartoum diplomatic assassinations.

1975 Colour television transmissions began in Australia.

1981  Bobby Sands began his hunger strike.

1992 Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia.

1995 Polish Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak resigned from parliament and was replaced by ex-communist Józef Oleksy.

2000 – Hans Blix assumed the position of Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC.

2002 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan: Operation Anaconda began in eastern Afghanistan.

2002 – The Envisat environmental satellite successfully reached an orbit 800 kilometers (500 miles) above the Earth on its 11th launch, carrying the heaviest payload to date at 8500 kilograms (9.5 tons).

2002 The peseta was discontinued as official currency of Spain and replaced with the euro (€).

2003 – The International Criminal Court held its inaugural session in The Hague.

2004 Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum becomes President of Iraq.

2005 Death penalty for juveniles revoked in United States of America.

2006 English-language Wikipedia reached its one millionth article, Jordanhill railway station.

2007 Tornadoes swarmed across the southern United States, killing at least 20.

2007 – “Squatters” were evicted from Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen, provoking the March 2007 Denmark Riots.

2008  Armenian police clashed with peaceful opposition rally protesting against allegedly fraudulent presidential elections 2008 killing at least 10 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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