Word of the day


Hypocorism – pet name or endearment, especially one using a diminutive suffix.

Address cause or treat symptoms


That there is a problem of children growing up in poverty is unquestioned.

But most of those who are calling for action on it are directing their pleas at the government to address the symptoms.

Lindsay Mitchell points out that most fail to acknowledge the cause:

. . .  “Wilson and Stoughton (2009) report that about 18 percent of New Zealand children are born to a parent on a main benefit (about 13 percent are born to a parent on the DPB). . . .”

Most people are on a benefit temporarily and will join or return to the workforce as soon as they can.

Some people will never be able to support themselves.

The problem is people who could work who don’t, not because they can’t but because they won’t.

The government’s welfare reforms are aimed at these people for their own sakes and that of the society and the economy. Yet among the strongest opponents of the reforms are the people who want action on poverty.

They are short-changing the people on whose behalf they’re purporting to advocate if they want relief of the symptoms without accepting the need to address the causes.

Rules without tools


The need for standards to ensure we have clean water for consumption and recreation is unquestioned.

How to keep it clean and improve sub-standard waterways is less straightforward.

The proposed Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan would have a radical impact on land use.

“A radical feature of Canterbury’s Proposed Land and Water Regional Plan is consent to farm under nutrient discharge rules,” says Chris Allen, Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury Provincial President.

“The big problem for any farmer, forester, wine maker or market gardener, revolves around incredibly tight tolerances for land use change.  Most farmers, like me, will not have nitrogen leaching conditions on a water consent because sheep farmers tend to be dryland ones.

“The practical impact means a good lambing may increase stock by just a few animals.  When running this through a nutrient management tool called Overseer, it may tell me my nitrogen loss has increased 10 percent.  That triggers an uncertain resource consent process.

“As large parts of Canterbury are defined as ‘red zones,’ we know the proposed default decision on land use change will be to decline.

“So that leaves me with two stark choices that sicken me as a farmer.  Either we carry less stock, underperforming productively and commercially, or some may be forced to dispose of lambs to remain compliant.

“That’s not farming.  It is dumbly following numbers punched out by an imprecise tool. . .

Submitters on the Otago Regional Council’s proposed plan are equally concerned about its impact.

A group of farmers says the council is acting against its own and national standards and farmers have expressed concerns about the rules.

Further north Horizon’s One Plan will see all but extensive hill country farmers having to seek consent to farm.

There is real concern about the impact these plans will have on people’s ability to farm. One of the reasons for this is that the councils appear to be imposing rules when there are not practical tools to measure water quality in a way that would enable landowners to comply.

Drinking the water every day gives us a very real interest in its quality and only environmental Luddites argue with the intention to maintain clean water and where necessary improve it. But there are real fears that the plans are being over-zealous and that the quest for pure water will threaten the viability of farming.

Those voicing concern aren’t asking to for economic concerns to trump environmental ones. They are asking for a better balance between the two and for rules which will work in practice and take account of the tools available for compliance.

Ozone hole recovering?


It’s 25 years since the Montreal Protocol was signed.

This was a global agreement to phase out the production and use of substances which have been depleting the ozone layer and Environment Minister Amy Adams is celebrating that it is working:

“The ozone layer is now on track to full recovery within this century, thanks to effective global action to reduce the use of ozone-depleting substances in everyday products such as air conditioners, refrigerators, foams, and pesticides,” Ms Adams says.

“It is pleasing that New Zealand manufacturers, importers and industry groups are taking greater responsibility for the safe disposal of potentially environmentally-harmful components in their products.

”A good example of this is the Government-accredited Refrigerant Recovery Trust product stewardship scheme which has collected and disposed of 47,373kg of refrigerants since it was accredited in 2010. This represents a saving of 63,000 tonnes of ozone.

“New Zealand is proud of its role at the forefront of action to phase out ozone-depleting substances. We were one of the countries pushing for a strong agreement on this issue, and we signed the Montreal Protocol on the first day it opened for signature on 16 September 1987.

“In the 25 years since, New Zealand has shown strong commitment to ozone protection and upholding our obligations under the Protocol. We have phased out almost all ozone-depleting substances, many in advance of the minimum timeframes required by the Protocol.

“We are on track to completely phase out imports of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons – the final ozone-depleting substances under the Protocol requiring action by New Zealand – by 2015, well in advance of the international deadline of 2030.

“New Zealand is committed to continuing to work with other countries on global action to combat other important international environmental issues, such as climate change, fossil fuel subsidy reform and the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources.”

The hole in the ozone layer is blamed for the high rate of cataracts and skin cancer caused by over exposure to the sun.

The arrest in its growth and hope of repair is a welcome sign that phasing out the use of  Hydrochlorofluorocarbons is being effective.


NZ needs your vote


Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe from Tikokino in Central Hawkes Bay have won the  international section of the Marks & Spencer’s Farming for the Future Award.

Tim and Lucy farm in the Central Hawkes Bay area of New Zealand and won our International Farming for the Future award this year. They have around 600 breeding hinds on their deer farm and rear the offspring for venison meat, which is sold to M&S.

They purchased the farm in 1994 and since then have spent a lot of time and effort improving the fertility of the soil to improve productivity. They have also planted shelterbelts and enhanced wetlands on the farm. In addition, they are at the forefront of the venison industry in NZ, getting involved in research and innovation to improve farm efficiency and product quality. Tim and Lucy are actively involved in the local farming community, hosting farm visits for other farmers as well as the local secondary school.

The international section is open to any suppliers outside the UK and winning it is an achievement in itself. But they could do even better with our help.

Winning that section puts them in the running for the Champion of Champions Award which is decided by public vote.

They explain in an email:

“To us this is our chance to represent New Zealand. Our tilt at the World Cup. Our Olympic campaign if you will. We would love to put on a great challenge. GO THE GUMBOOTS!”

They’re up against the UK section winners –  English farmer Bill Cowperthwaite, Scottish farmer Gary Jamieson, Nigel McMullen from Ireland and Welsh farmer David Phillips.

They’ve got the local advantage and population numbers are on their side but you could help them.

Please pop over here and vote for Tim and Lucy – and New Zealand.


Snake oil salesman can’t sell two exchange rates


People calling on the government to do something about the exchange rate only look at only the benefits, without acknowledging the costs.

But as Economic Minister Steven Joyce explains we can’t have one exchange rate for what we sell and another for what we buy:

  A lot of exporters – I mean every exporter let’s face it, likes a lower dollar.  What they would love really is to have a lower dollar which they’d sell stuff, cos they’d sell their stuff for more, and they’d like a higher dollar for the stuff they buy.  They’d like two exchange rates.  And I understand that, cos I’ve been involved in an export industry myself, and you’d always love two exchange rates.  Unfortunately the world only gives you one, that’s right.  So their input costs are significantly lower.  So if you take oil and gas and a lot of those things that come in on world prices, the input costs are lower.  And yes it’s more challenging with some of the export costs or the sales costs, sales revenues that you get, but it is a mixed story. A lot of manufacturers are doing very well, some struggling, particularly the more commodity based ones. . . .

There is no question exporters would get better returns if the dollar was lower but everyone would also face higher costs for everything we import. That’s not just luxuries like electronic toys, it’s necessities including fuel, machinery, medicines and medical equipment and a lot of food.

. . .  Well fundamentally the real opportunity at the moment, and everybody knows this, is that it’s the Australian dollar, and we’re currently at quite low levels against the Australian dollar, about 78 cents, and you can’t have things changed, different exchange rates for different countries as we know.  If we went down further against the Australian currency, which is what for example Mr Wally recommends.  He suggests that there should be a 20% devaluation in the New Zealand dollar, 25% I think he’s looking for, but that would put us at 58 cents Australian which is just ridiculous.  And also it would put us against about 60 cents US, which people would say well that’d be nice.  But then of course you’d actually be talking about very substantial rises in living costs for New Zealanders.  So unfortunately you only have one exchange rate.  The exchange rate is the assessment of what people things of the future of the New Zealand economy.  The quickest way to get it down would be to do some very reckless things that would actually put our economy at risk.

The interviewer, Rachel Smalley then asked him about Winston Peters’ Reserve Bank Amendment Bill.

StevenWell with the greatest respect to Winston, he’s been around for 27 or 30 years. . . . he’s never come up with a solution.  If there’s a problem in this country he’s part of it, because he’s been around for such a long time.  He had a time as Treasurer and never promoted these views as Treasurer, so now because he’s worried, and because he’s rightly worried about you know the big commodity manufacturers, and I am too, he’s promoting a snake oil solution that would achieve nothing. Because here’s the deal…

RachelOkay, his Amendment Act does have the support though in part, in general by David Parker, the Labour Finance Minister.

StevenWell I’m sorry that gives me no comfort whatsoever.

RachelHe says we face competitive devaluation abroad and we ignore it at our peril.

Steven Well I’m sorry, it’s truly ludicrous, and fundamentally it is a snake oil salesman solution, and Parker was called on the left this week by his own supporters on the left, who said what he’s arguing for, is he’s sitting in front of exporters and saying I want to make life easier for you, and then he’s turning around to New Zealanders and saying it will have no impact on you.  And fundamentally that is not the case, it’s dishonest and you can’t say it.

The dollar’s value is making business harder for exporters but the snake oil Peters and Parker are trying to sell would make life much more difficult for everyone – unless they can find a way to have two exchange rates.

September 17 in history


1111 Highest Galician nobility led by Pedro Fróilaz de Traba and the bishop Diego Gelmírez crowned Alfonso VII as “King of Galicia“.

1176  The Battle of Myriokephalon.

1462  The Battle of Świecino (also known as the Battle of Żarnowiec) during Thirteen Years’ War.

1577  The Peace of Bergerac was signed between Henry III of France and the Huguenots.

1631  Sweden won a major victory at the Battle of Breitenfeld against the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years War.

1683  Antonie van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society describing “animalcules“: the first known description of protozoa.

1778  The Treaty of Fort Pitt was signed, the first formal treaty between the United States and a Native American tribe (the Lenape or Delaware Indians).

1787 The United States Constitution was signed in Philadelphia.

1809  Peace between Sweden and Russia in the Finnish War, the territory which became Finland was ceded to Russia by the Treaty of Fredrikshamn.

1859 Joshua A. Norton declared himself “Emperor Norton I” of the United States.

1862 American Civil War: George B. McClellan halted the northward drive of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army in the single-day Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history.

1862  American Civil War: The Allegheny Arsenal explosion resulted in the single largest civilian disaster during the war.

1883 William Carlos Williams, American writer, was born (d. 1963).

1894  The Battle of Yalu River, the largest naval engagement of the First Sino-Japanese War.

1900  Philippine-American War: Filipinos under Juan Cailles defeated Americans under Colonel Benjamin F. Cheatham at Mabitac.

1908  The Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright, with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as passenger, crashed killing Selfridge who became the first airoplane fatality.

1914  Andrew Fisher becamePrime Minister of Australia for the third time.

1916 Mary Stewart, English novelist, was born.

1916   World War I: Manfred von Richthofen (“The Red Baron”), a flying ace of the German Luftstreitkräfte, won his first aerial combat near Cambrai, France.

1923 Hank Williams, American musician, was born (d. 1953).

1924  The Border Defence Corps was established in the Second Polish Republic for the defence of the eastern border against armed Soviet raids and local bandits.

1928  The Okeechobee Hurricane struck southeastern Florida, killing upwards of 2,500 people.

1929 Sir Stirling Moss, English race car driver, was born.

1931 Anne Bancroft, American actress, was born (d. 2005).

1939  World War II: A German U-boat U 29 sank the British aircraft carrier HMS Courageous.

1939  Taisto Mäki became the first man to run the 10,000 metres in under 30 minutes, in a time of 29:52.6.

1941 New Zealand abolished the death penalty for murder – for the time being.

Death penalty abolished...for the time being

1941  World War II: A decree of the Soviet State Committee of Defense, restoring Vsevobuch in the face of the Great Patriotic War, was issued

1944  World War II: Allied Airborne troops parachuted into the Netherlands as the “Market” half of Operation Market Garden.

1945 Bruce Spence, New Zealand actor, was born.

1948  The Lehi (also known as the Stern gang) assassinated Count Folke Bernadotte, who was appointed by the UN to mediate between the Arab nations and Israel.

1949 The Canadian steamship SS Noronic burned in Toronto Harbour with the loss of over 118 lives.

1956 Television was first broadcast in Australia.

1976 The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, was unveiled by NASA.

1978  The Camp David Accords were signed by Israel and Egypt.

1980  After weeks of strikes at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland, the nationwide independent trade union Solidarity was established.

1980 Former Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza Debayle was killed.

1983 Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America.

1991 – The first version of the Linux kernel (0.01) was released to the Internet.

1992 An Iranian Kurdish leader and his two joiners were assassinated by political militants in Berlin.

1993 Last Russian troops left Poland.

2001  The New York Stock Exchange reopened for trading after the September 11 Attacks, the longest closure since the Great Depression.

2004 Tamil was declared the first classical language in India.

2006  Fourpeaked Mountain in Alaska erupted, marking the first eruption for the long-dormant volcano in at least 10,000 years.

2007  AOL, once the largest ISP in the U.S., officially announced plans to refocus the company as an advertising business and to relocate its corporate headquarters from Dulles, Virginia to New York.

2011 – Occupy Wall Street movement begins in Zucotti Park, New York City.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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