Word of the day


Baragouin –  language so altered as to be unintelligible; outlandish, unintelligible speech; gibberish.

Better than average


Wisdom from a Yorkshireman: If you get it right three times out of five, you’re better than average.

Sign of the times


Photo borrowed from Rural Women NZ’s Facebook page.

I get the joke but think it’s maligning animals.

They don’t smell bad or make a lot of noise if well looked after and tupping or mating usually only takes place once a year.

But then I’d rather listen to baaing and mooing and breathe in country air than live with the noise and smells of a city.

Farmers on top in two-tier economy


Brian Gaynor thinks the rural sector is showing city slickers the way:

A trip to Dunedin for the South African rugby test last weekend has reinforced the view that New Zealand is rapidly developing a two-tier economy.

On one hand is the rural community which is increasingly inhabited by energetic and entrepreneurial farmers with a long-term perspective.

At the other end of the scale are far too many lethargic and conservative city dwellers who are more interested in trim lattes and recent house price movement. . . 

Unfortunately the country’s rural enterprise has bypassed the NZX because farmers are not convinced of the opportunities offered by our capital markets.

There were a large number of energetic Waikato dairy farmers on the late evening flight to Dunedin for the test match. They talked about their farming operations and the many opportunities they had. A number of them were considering purchasing or leasing additional farms.

They also commented that, in contrast to their parents, they were businessmen rather than farmers and this allowed them to get away for a long weekend.

Farming has always been a business and good farmers have always been good business people. These days the sensible ones realise that doesn’t mean being tied to the farm all day, every day, all year.

Last weekend was in stark contrast to the first weekend in July 1983, when the All Blacks played the British Lions in Dunedin.

The domestic sharemarket, which had surged 39.1 per cent since the end of 1982, had begun its long upward momentum and the urban business community was optimistic and expanding.

The flight to Dunedin 29 years ago was dominated by people from the business, investment, finance and legal sectors.

Few North Island farmers flew to Dunedin in 1983 because the sector was being propped up by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s supplementary minimum price scheme and was not in good shape.

In addition, the traditional family farm structure did not allow many farmers to get away for long weekends.

This year, Dunedin seemed to be full of prosperous farmers even though the high New Zealand dollar is supposed to have had a major negative impact on exporters.

By chance I played golf with a Central Otago merino stud and station owner and his son-in-law who had recently returned to New Zealand after a number of years overseas.

The merino farmer was engaging, ambitious, entrepreneurial and the sort of person needed in the urban business community. New irrigation schemes are being developed on his property and a large proportion of its wool is sold directly to Japan, bypassing the traditional auction system.

My golfing opponent sees plenty of opportunities for his business and is not concerned about the high NZ dollar.

He believes that businesses face adverse conditions, whether it is bad weather or a high dollar, and they have to deal with these problems rather than moan about them.

Exactly – in business and in life there are always factors beyond your control. Successful people concentrate on what they can do and influence rather than wasting energy on things over which they have little or no control.

The farmer, or more appropriately businessman, is a man of action. He hits a mean golf ball, was in Auckland last month for the Wallabies test and is off to South Africa for the All Blacks game in Soweto on October 6.

He was quick to note that he will get in some hunting and fishing while in South Africa.

His son-in-law has returned from London where he was employed in the equities division of a large international bank. There are almost no opportunities for his skills in New Zealand, particularly in the South Island, so he is looking for openings in the rural sector.

How many young investment industry people would have been happy to look for employment in the depressed rural sector thirty years ago?

Very few. We lost a generation of young people who thought there weren’t opportunities on farms and in farm support.

They might have been right then, but that isn’t the case now. With farming’s return to prosperity have come new opportunities on farms and in farm support and servicing. That is bringing young people back to rural communities with social and economic benefits for them and the towns which service and supply them.

The new Dunedin indoor stadium, which is a fantastic facility, also seemed to be full of season-ticket holding farmers.

We got a hard time when they discovered we were from Auckland.

They wanted to know why we didn’t build a new stadium on the city’s waterfront when we had the chance. They also wanted to know what Auckland did with all the money it sucked out of the South Island.

The banter was friendly but there is a clear difference between the progressiveness of the rural community and the conservatism of the cities.

Farmers argue that Auckland would never approve a new modern indoor football stadium and it is urban dwellers who are mainly opposed to the Government’s proposed partial privatisation programme.

The rural sector largely supports partial privatisation as long as the Government maintains 51 per cent control.

I’m not sure if there is a rural-urban split on the sale of assets, but farmers know that one way to get through droughts or other tough times is to cash-up non-core investments.

At a post-match function I was approached by two New Zealanders in their early 30s who have lived in the United Kingdom for the past few years.

One of them, who had worked for a large investment bank in London, had returned permanently to New Zealand but was finding it difficult to get a job.

The other said he could never come home because there are no openings for his expertise in the New Zealand finance sector.

The clear message is that the rural economy is confident and on a roll whereas the urban business community is finding it difficult to gain momentum in the more competitive world.

The world needs protein and that’s what New Zealand is very good at producing.

New Zealand’s total exports have increased nearly six fold since 1983, from $7.9 billion to $46.7 billion, while the contribution of meat, dairy and wool has fallen from 53.8 per cent to 37.3 per cent.

This gives the impression that the urban economy is making a greater contribution to exports than it did 30 years ago.

However, the following points should be noted about these figures:

Meat, dairy and wool’s contribution has increased from 34.5 per cent to 37.5 per cent of total exports over the past decade as the dairy industry has gained huge momentum.

If we add logs, Taranaki oil, fruit, wine, fish, casein and Tiwai Point’s aluminium then major exports from the non-urban economy represent 60 per cent of the country’s total exports.

The rural sector has a large trade surplus with the rest of the world while the country’s urban economy runs a substantial overseas trade deficit.

Meanwhile, residential house prices have soared nearly eight fold since 1983, compared with a six fold rise in exports, and that is the most important development as far as many city inhabitants are concerned.

The problem with the housing market is we mainly borrow offshore, through the banks, to inflate house prices and we have to export more and more rural products just to pay the interest on these overseas loans.

In addition, we are making residential property more unaffordable for first home buyers.

Council zoning is at least partially responsible for that though I do have sympathy for the argument against putting houses on productive land.

The final chapter in the Dunedin story is that a number of us stayed on after the British Lions test in 1983 to visit listed companies based in the southern city. In those days Dunedin had its own stock exchange and fifteen listed companies including Alliance Textiles, Arthur Barnett, D.I.C., Doneghys, Hallenstein Bros., National Insurance and Wilson Neil.

The stock exchange is gone and the city now has only BLISS Technologies, Pacific Edge and Scott Technology listed on the NZX.

Businesses and stock exchanges are migrating from smaller to larger urban areas throughout the world but the issue in New Zealand is that business enterprise is moving from the cities to the rural sector and it is not interested in stock exchange listings.

One Waikato dairy farmer remarked on the flight to Dunedin that farmers had a long-term perspective and there was no way that they would allow outsiders to buy Fonterra shares because these non-farmer shareholders would accept the first offer from Chinese interests, just as they will with Fisher & Paykel Appliances.

Who can blame him for taking this point of view?

One reason dairy farmers in New Zealand are doing so well is that most supply a co-operative which means the return to the supplier is of more importance than in companies whose concern is more with shareholders.

We were also in Dunedin for that rugby match with several other farmers as guests of Ravensdown.

In spite of the lower payout and higher dollar, all were positive about farming and many were open to further development and new opportunities.

Spot the contradiction


Did anyone notice the contradiction in two of Labour’s policies?

Last week Dunedin North MP David Clark was trying to get support for his Bill to increase the minimum wage.

At the same time list MP David Parker was, and still is, trying to get the government to meddle with the exchange rate to decrease the value of the dollar which will in effect cutting the real wages of all New Zealanders.

Both policies are misguided and one contradicts the intent of the other.

One effective way to take pressure off the value of the dollar is tighter fiscal policy but Labour has fought tooth and nail against every policy National has introduced to cut costs in the public sector.

September 24 in history


622 Prophet Muhammad completed his hijra from Mecca to Medina.

1180 Manuel I Komnenos, last Emperor of the Komnenian restoration died after which the Byzantine Empire slipped into terminal decline.

1625 Johan de Witt, Dutch politician, was born (d. 1672).

1645  Battle of Rowton Heath, Parliamentarian victory over a Royalist army commanded in person by King Charles.

1664 The Dutch Republic surrendered New Amsterdam to England.

1674  Second Tantrik Coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

1717 Horace Walpole, British novelist and politician, was born (d. 1797).

1725 Sir Arthur Guinness, Irish brewer, was born (d. 1803).

1841  The Sultan of Brunei ceded Sarawak to Britain.

1852  The first airship powered by (a steam) engine, created by Henri Giffard, travelled 17 miles (27 km) from Paris to Trappes.

1869 “Black Friday“: Gold prices plummeted after Ulysses S. Grant ordered the Treasury to sell large quantities of gold after Jay Gould and James Fisk plotted to control the market.

1871 Lottie Dod, English athlete, was born (d. 1960)

1877  Battle of Shiroyama, decisive victory of the Imperial Japanese Army over the Satsuma Rebellion.

1890 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially renounced polygamy.

1896 F. Scott Fitzgerald, American novelist, was born (d. 1940).

1905 Lionel Terry killed Joe Kum Yung to draw attention to his crusade to rid New Zealand of Chinese people.

Race killing in Haining St, Wellington

1906  U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower in Wyoming as the nation’s first National Monument.

1914 Sir John Kerr, 18th Governor-General of Australia, was born (d. 1991).

1917 – Ten New Zealand soldiers were killed when they were hit by a train at Bere Ferrers in the United Kingdom.

1935  Earl Bascom and Weldon Bascom produced the first rodeo ever held outdoors under electric lights at Columbia, Mississippi.

1936 Jim Henson, American puppeteer, was born (d. 1990).

1941 Linda McCartney, American singer, fashion designer and photographer, was born (d. 1998).

1942 Gerry Marsden, English singer (Gerry & The Pacemakers), was born.

1946  Cathay Pacific Airways was founded in Hong Kong.

1947 The Majestic 12 committee was allegedly established by secret executive order of President Harry Truman.

1948  The Honda Motor Company was founded.

1950  Forest fires blacked out the sun over portions of Canada and New England. A Blue moon (in the astronomical sense) was seen as far away as Europe.

1957  Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe, was opened in Barcelona.

1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent 101st Airborne Division troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce desegregation.

1962  United States court of appeals ordered the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith.

1968  60 Minutes debuted on CBS.

1973  Guinea-Bissau declared its independence from Portugal.

1979  Compu-Serve launched the first consumer internet service, which features the first public electronic mail service.

1990  Periodic Great White Spot observed on Saturn.

1994  National League for Democracy was formed by Aung San Suu Kyi and various others to help fight against dictatorship in Myanmar.

1996  U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty at the United Nations.

2005  Hurricane Rita made landfall in the United States, devastating Beaumont, Texas and portions of southwestern Louisiana.

2008  The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was topped off at 1,389 feet (423 m), at the time becoming the world’s highest residence above ground-level.

2009 – The G20 summit began in Pittsburgh with 30 global leaders in attendance. It marked the first use of LRAD in U.S. history.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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