Word of the day


Oppugn – call into question the truth or validity of;  oppose or contradict; fight against.



7/10 in Stuff’s Biz Quiz.

Two deaths on eve of World Peace Day


On the eve of World Peace Day we’ve had a  reminder of  the tragedy of war:

It is with great sadness that Prime Minister John Key has learned of the death of two New Zealand soldiers serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

The soldiers were killed during an encounter with insurgents, which began at about 7:00pm last night (NZ time) after they went to the aid of local security forces under attack.

Two local security personnel were also killed during the attack.

Another six New Zealand Defence Force personnel, 10 local security personnel, and one civilian were also injured.

“This brings the total number of New Zealand soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to seven,” Mr Key says.

“It reinforces the danger faced daily by our forces as they work tirelessly to restore stability to the Province.

“It is with enormous sadness that I acknowledge that these soldiers have paid the highest price. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the two brave soldiers killed and also with the families and friends of those injured.”

Governor General  Sir Jerry Mateparae, a former soldier and current Commander in Chief, said:

It was with great sadness that I learned of the tragic death of our two soldiers in the Bamiyan Province.
Serving in New Zealand’s Defence Force and being deployed in war-torn countries, such as Afghanistan, carries significant risk. The soldiers, whose names are yet to be released, bring to seven the number of New Zealand Defence Force soldiers to be killed while on operations in Afghanistan.
Serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team, those two soldiers, who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and the six injured, have been part of a team that has worked tirelessly and consistently to bring peace and stability to the Province.
Their presence in Afghanistan exemplified their dedication to New Zealand and the New Zealand Defence Force’s mission in that country.
On behalf of all New Zealanders, Janine and I extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and mates-in-arms of the two deceased soldiers, as they come to terms with this tragic loss. Our thoughts are also with the families and friends of those who have been injured.

A call to (f)arms


An independent report on the future of New Zealand’s agri-food sector has made a  call to arms.

The report commissioned by the Riddet Institute calls for a joint approach from industry and government to drive the activities needed to treble the value of exports by the sector by 2025.

It was developed by an independent team led by Dr Kevin Marshall, in response to a call by industry senior executives, who challenged the Institute  to develop a strategy for science and education-led economic advancement of the New Zealand food industry.

Dr Marshall said, “Our strategies are neither new nor unique, but, in the past, implementation by industry has failed. Crucially we have provided a pathway and a proposed mechanism for action that will work. There is urgency now, because New Zealand faces a mediocre economic future if we don’t drive the major recommendations in this report to fruition.

“Agri-food leaders need to know what to do, how to do it and how to develop the resources they need to do it effectively.”

Professor Paul Moughan, Riddet Institute co-director said, “New Zealand has unrealised potential in agri-food. But until all key parts of the sector work together in a planned way, New Zealand’s economic growth will be not be maximised. It’s time for action by the agri-food industry and action that has a good chance of success. This is not just another strategy, but a blueprint for action.”

The Institute  describes itself as  Centre of Research Excellence focusing on the boundaries between food science and digestive physiology and human nutrition

It’s a partnership between the University of Auckland, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Massey University, and the University of Otago.

The report  has come up with four transformational strategies:

       1.   Selectively and profitably increase the quantities and sales of the current range of agri-food products.

       2.   Profitably produce and market new, innovative, high value food and beverage products.

       3.   Develop value chains that enhance the integrity, value and delivery of  New Zealand products and increase profits to producers, processors and exporters.

       4.   Become world leaders in sustainability and product integrity.

And it says:

None of  these strategies is new – all have been raised in one or more previous reports. They are all critically important and complement one another but they have not yet been adequately acted on to achieve the level of growth targeted for the sector.

The targets are expressed as revenue goals but it is important to recognise that volume alone is not the purpose of  the strategies.  The focus on growing customer value thus enabling higher prices, and reducing costs, will together contribute to higher margins and so to more profits for sector businesses.  Lower costs may allow lower prices that may make it possible to compete in markets which are otherwise inaccessible.

 Government has taken many effective steps in the last few years that will contribute to accelerating growth of  the  agri-food sector.  The agri-food industry must now make the most of  the opportunities provided by these initiatives. The targets have been set. Government has set direction and committed increased effort and resources. Industry must now act.

The Institute has a vision for  agri-foods in 2025: that the sector makes an even greater contribution to New Zealand’s social, environmental and economic well-being in a  changing world:

         •    New Zealand’s agri-food sector is globally recognised and valued by customers and consumers as a trusted supplier of  quality goods and services that meet market demands and for which they pay a premium;

         •    Using innovative processes, agri-food businesses have profitably increased overseas earnings to $60 billion p.a., thereby contributing 50% of  the Government’s 2025 goal of  raising the contribution of  total exports from 30% to 40% of  GDP;

         •    Sufficient R&D and capability building has been undertaken such that agri-food businesses are poised to continue to grow export revenue profitably;

         •    Sustainable practices are embedded across all agri-food production and manufacturing industries;

         •    Product standards and regulations have developed in New Zealand in conjunction with industry and are considered to be a source of  competitive advantage rather than an imposed compliance cost;

         •    Employees in the agri-food sector enjoy salaries that are competitive with those of  other industries and countries;

         •    Government agencies and the private sector collaborate closely with a shared vision;

     and New Zealand continues to be a great place in which to live and pursue a career.

The Institute has made a call to arms which is in effect a call to farms and the industries which service and support them from researchers through to processors and marketers.

The world’s population is growing faster than its food production.

New Zealand is well placed to benefit from that but increased production, and the financial rewards which come from that, won’t happen without research and the willingness and ability to implement its findings.

National Roast Day


It’s National Roast Day.

Almost every Sunday was roast day when I was a child. It was usually mutton but occasionally beef, put on to slow cook before we went to Sunday School and church.

Chicken was reserved for very special occasions like Christmas.

It would be accompanied by roast potatoes, boiled carrots and in winter swedes.

I loved it and enjoyed Monday’s lunch of cold meat sandwiches just as much.

How things have changed. I can remember roasting only once this year.

We have had plenty of meat but we generally barbeque or grill it and neither is on the menu today.

Dare I confess, more often than not, Sunday is meat-free unless we’ve got guests for a meal.

Sunshine Coast not so sunny


Mining magnate Clive Palmer has plans to turn Queensland’s Sunshine Coast into one of the world’s top tourist destinations:

His plans include an international airport, a 1000-room beachfront hotel, and  a 400-person ocean-going hovercraft service between Brisbane’s CBD to Coolum.

In the video on the link above (1:07)  he speaks about the Sunshine Coast being depressed with high unemployment.

That confirms our observation, on a two-day sunshine fix at Noosa last week, that the Sunshine Coast’s economy was far from sunny.

Last time we were there, about four years ago, the town was bustling. This time it was quiet with several empty shops and lots of for sale and lease signs on buildings.

The weather was cool by local standards which might have been keeping people indoors but locals we talked to said it had been a quiet winter.

The high dollar won’t be helping tourism, nor will high prices. People complain about the cost of food here, it was more expensive there even before we converted our currency. Main courses were rarely less than $A35 and often more than $A40 which was at least 10% more than was usual in cafés and restaurants we ate at when we were in Europe in June.

We spoke about our observations with farmers at a dinner in Sydney on Thursday. They said we were seeing the slower side of the two-speed economy. Mining is booming, farming’s generally okay and so are the businesses which service and supply them but the rest of the economy is struggling.

Even though it was cool, the sun was shining in Noosa but there was a chill in the economic air.

Palmer’s plan is likely to be controversial but it could be what’s needed to bring some heat back to the Sunshine Coast’s economy.




August 5 in history


642  Battle of Maserfield – Penda of Mercia defeated and killed Oswald of Bernicia.

910  The last major Viking army to raid England was defeated at the Battle of Tettenhall by the allied forces of Mercia and Wessex, led by King Edward and Earl Aethelred.

1100 Henry I was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

1305 William Wallace, was captured by the English and transported to London where he was put on trial and executed.

1388 Battle of Otterburn, a border skirmish between the Scottish and the English in Northern England.

1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert established the first English colony in North America, at what is now St John’s, Newfoundland.

1620 The Mayflower departed from Southampton on its first attempt to reach North America.

1689 – 1,500 Iroquois attacked the village of Lachine, in New France.

1716 The Battle of Petrovaradin.

1735  New York Weekly Journal writer John Peter Zenger was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, on the basis that what he had published was true.

1763 Pontiac’s War: Battle of Bushy Run – British forces led by Henry Bouquet defeated Chief Pontiac’s Indians at Bushy Run.

1772 The First Partition of Poland began.

1858 Cyrus West Field and others completed the first transatlantic telegraph cable after several unsuccessful attempts.

1860 Carl IV of Sweden-Norway was crowned king of Norway, in Trondheim.

1861   The United States government levied the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US $800; rescinded in 1872) to help pay for the Civil War.

1861  The United States Army abolished flogging.

1862 Joseph Merrick, the “Elephant Man” , was born (d. 1890).

1862 American Civil War: Battle of Baton Rouge.

1864  American Civil War: the Battle of Mobile Bay began – Admiral David Farragut led a Union flotilla through Confederate defenses and sealed one of the last major Southern ports.

1870 Franco-Prussian War: the Battle of Spicheren resulted in a Prussian victory.

1884 The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty was laid.

1888  Bertha Benz drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back in the first long distance automobile trip.

1901  Peter O’Connor set the first IAAF recognised long jump world record of 24ft 11¾ins.

1908 Harold Holt, 17th Prime Minister of Australia, was born(d. 1967).

1914  World War I: The German minelayer Königin Luise laid a minefield about 40 miles off the Thames Estuary. She was intercepted and sunk by the British light-cruiser HMS Amphion.

1914 In Cleveland, Ohio, the first electric traffic light was installed.

1925 Plaid Cymru was formed with the aim of disseminating knowledge of the Welsh language.

1930 Neil Armstrong, American astronaut, was born.

1940 World War II: The Soviet Union formally annexed Latvia.

1944  World War II: possibly the biggest prison breakout in history as 545 Japanese POWs attempted to escape outside the town of Cowra, NSW.

1944  Holocaust: Polish insurgents liberated a German labour camp in Warsaw, freeing 348 Jewish prisoners.

1949  In Ecuador an earthquake destroyed 50 towns and killed more than 6000.

1957  American Bandstand debuted on the ABC television network.

1960  Burkina Faso, then known as Upper Volta, became independent from France.

1962 Nelson Mandela was jailed.

1963  The United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union signed a nuclear test ban treaty.

1964  Vietnam War: Operation Pierce Arrow – American aircraft from carriers USS Ticonderoga and USS Constellation bombed North Vietnam in retaliation for strikes which attacked U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.

1979   In Afghanistan, Maoists undertake an attempted military uprising.

1988 The Cartwright report condemned the tratment of cervical cancer.

Cartwright Report condemns cervical cancer treatment

1995  The city of Knin, a significant Serb stronghold, was captured by Croatian forces during Operation Storm.

2003  A car bomb exploded in Jakarta outside the Marriott Hotel killing 12 and injuring 150.

2010 – Copiapó mining accident  trapped 33 Chilean miners approximately 2,300 ft below the ground.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

%d bloggers like this: