Word of the day

October 4, 2012

Stravage – to wander aimlessly; saunter or stroll; roam. 

Obama – Romney candidates’ debate

October 4, 2012

A service message for political tragics – the debate between USA presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is being streamed live here.

Combined effort cleans up Lake Rotorua

October 4, 2012

A combined effort by the council, farmers and community has cleaned up Lake Rotorua:

Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo is applauding the work of farmers and the wider community, which has seen Lake Rotorua improve beyond the target set by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in its regional water and land plan.

“We are not going to take all of the credit here because farming was never the entire problem.  It is however a triumph for the whole community,” says Neil Heather, Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo provincial president.

“The latest water testing of Lake Rotorua shows the Trophic Level Index (TLI), which measures the amount of nutrients in the lake, has fallen to 4.1.  This means Lake Rotorua has average water quality but in the time it has taken, average, is in fact, excellent.

“We started out with a lake that had poor water quality so we are trending in the right direction.  The lake is now below the 4.2 target the regional council had set for it.

“The regional council’s original modelling said things were going to get worse before they got better.  That’s the concern I have for other areas going down this track.  Despite what the model said we knew things were improving but farmers still caught flack in the media.

Poor farming practices can be partly blamed for poor water quality, but they are not usually the only culprits:

“As part of the learnings, we now know gorse leaches some 50 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare and that is more than a dairy farm.  Even pine plantations generate four kilograms per hectare each year and these show how varied the effects on water can be.

“It is why we must celebrate what the community, council and farmers have achieved together.  This is not down to one good year, but is part of an improving trend since we are all doing things better.

“There’s the land based treatment of the District’s human and industrial sewage as well as farmers fencing off stock and capturing nutrients, later recycled as liquid fertiliser.

“Being a Rotorua farmer, I am really proud of my community and we should all take a bow, town and country together. . .

Collaboration between councils, farmers and the community is the best way to achieve cleaner water.

Farmers have a responsiblity to minimise nutrient run-off, keep stock from water ways, manage effluent and do whatever else they can to keep water clean.

But improving water quality requires a team effort and the improved state of Lake Rotorua shows what can be achieved when people work together.

Thursday’s quiz

October 4, 2012

1. Who said: “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” ?

2.  From which poem does the following quote come and what is the last line: Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all . . .

3. It’s laid in French; brutto in Italian, feo  in Spanish and kikino  in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Who said: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”?

5. Do you judge books by their covers?

It was ever thus

October 4, 2012

A new consumer survey shows viewers try to avoid TV advertisements.

It was ever thus.

The ad break has always been the time to go to the loo, get a drink, attend to another task, chat to whoever is watching with you or do anything else rather than watch the screen.

We’re relatively recent converts to MySky. It’s an even more convenient way to record and watch programmes than videos and like them enables you to fast-forward through the ad breaks.

It saves a lot of time – an hour of news can be watched in 10 – 20 minutes by the time you cut out the ads and content you’re not interested in.

This is good for viewers but not for advertisers who must come up with other ways to catch our attention.

The Fair Go Ad Awards are on and the only one of the finalists I recognise is the MasterCard check-in one which features in both the best and worst category.

Water quality more worrying than mortgage

October 4, 2012

The ODT’s quote of the day from the hearings on the Otago Regional Council’s proposed water plan was from Neil Smith:

“I worry more about the proposed water management plan and effluent than I do about my mortgage”

Worrying about effluent isn’t unusual and it’s not a bad thing. We ought to be concerned it and the impact it could have on water quality if not managed properly.

However, most of us do what is required to manage effluent and ensure we are well within the rules.

The proposed changes to Plan 6 are a different matter because farmers don’t think it is possible to keep within the limits.

ODT reports on the hearings show farmers are concerned about the viability of their operations  under the proposed changes:

North Otago farmers yesterday queued up to tell the Otago Regional Council (ORC) they could go out of business if the council did not alter proposed changes to water quality rules. . .

Former North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) chairman Jock Webster said without irrigation schemes, farmers in the area      would still be at the mercy of a historically drought-prone region.   

Mr Webster said farmers had invested heavily in irrigation,  but had also had to increase productivity, in order to pay for watering systems.   

He said those who were part of the NOIC irrigation scheme already had farm environmental plans, which had resulted in better awareness of water quality. . .

. . . However, he added that the varying nature of soil and  particularly sub-soils in the area meant they could be eroded      easily during high rainfall, leading to poor water quality.   

“I do not believe those who drew up the water plan understand      the catchment sufficiently to write up sweeping rules and      conditions that may cover the whole of the Otago area.   

“There is no issue with water quality in the Waitaki Valley, and we have got some good things happening, but there is no      way we can meet some of the standards.   

 “You cannot change nature.”

And nature isn’t perfect anyway. Another quote of the day:

 “Recently we had water tests taken to  check how our farm will meet the proposed levels … They  show that the water quality coming out of the spring was  poorer than further down the drain. The spring water itself  does not meet the required limits” – Jeff Thompson

If spring water doesn’t meet the limits the limits are unreasonable.

There is also concern over uncertainty in the plan and the lack of tools which farmers can use to measure water quality.

My farmer was one of those who submitted yesterday. He likened the impact of the proposed plan to being expected to drive within the speed limit in a car without a speedometer.

No-one is arguing against the intent of the plan and the need to have good water quality.

The concern is that proposed changes are based on theoretic modelling which doesn’t take into account the nature of the soils, expects compliance when there are no measurement tools and imposes limits which are impossible to meet.

Welfare reforms champion children

October 4, 2012

The people behind tomorrow’s national day of action against welfare reforms  simply don’t get it.

The reforms they’re protesting about aren’t desinged to villify beneficiaries. They’re designed with a mixture of carrot and stick to help them become independent.

The Listener gets it:

Although it’s true the Government is wielding a rather large stick, it also aiming to improve beneficiaries’ diets with plenty of carrots. And importantly, in many cases it is their children who will receive the real benefits.

Among beneficiaries there is a relatively low uptake of early childhood education. And yet, according to an OECD report, investment in early childhood education has among the highest net social benefits of all public investment, particularly for children who would otherwise be greatly disadvantaged.

Not all toddlers are lucky enough to spend their days with loving parents who play with them, cook with them, clean them, read to them and help them learn how the world works.

The sad truth that is that for some toddlers, a few hours each day at preschool – it might be a kohanga reo or other language nest – are likely to be far more nurturing and educational than those spent at home.

And in turn, the chances that their main caregiver might be able to give them a much better future are more likely to be enhanced if that person is engaged not just in a supportive community of other families but, eventually, in some kind of productive activity that brings in an income. . .

The statistics are quite clear – people in work are better off than those on welfare, even if they’re on a similar income.

It’s undeniable that, given the failure of this and most other governments to triumph over the global financial crisis, there will not always be jobs for beneficiaries in this new regime. But it is also undeniable these reforms are not solely about punishing vulnerable people. In some cases, it is about championing vulnerable people – who just happen to be under the age of five. . .

It’s not the children’s fault that their parents are on a benefit and that the family income is too low.

But it is successive governments’ fault that too many people have been allowed to languish on benefits when they could be working.

The reforms aim to get more people into work for their own sakes and for the sake of their children.


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