Yes to partial sale, no to shares plus

October 15, 2012

Prime Minister John Key says the government is going ahead with the partial float of Mighty river Power and has rejected the concept of shares plus which was suggested by the Waitangi Tribunal.

“First, the Government will not implement the Waitangi Tribunal’s ‘shares plus’ concept, or engage in further negotiations in relation to that concept, before the sale of shares in our energy companies.

“Second, the Government will proceed to remove Mighty River Power from the State Owned Enterprises Act. We will prepare an Order in Council for Cabinet and Executive Council to consider and approve on Tuesday 23 October.

“And finally, we will direct officials to continue to work towards a sale of up to 49 per cent of the shares in Mighty River Power between March and June 2013.” . . .

Mr Key says the series of hui on ‘shares plus’ was part of the Government’s commitment to consult with Māori in good faith.

“From the series of the hui, and the written submissions the Government received, it is clear Māori claim a wide range of rights and interests in water.”

Mr Key says the Government’s position on water has always been very clear:

  • In common law no one owns water.
  • Maori do have rights and interests in water, and these will continue to be addressed through a range of processes such as Treaty settlements, the Government’s Fresh Start for Fresh Water programme and dialogue with iwi leaders.
  • The partial sale of Mighty River Power does not impact on the Crown’s ability to recognise Maori rights and interests in water.

“Following analysis of the oral submissions made at hui, along with the written submissions, the Government’s view is that no new information has come to light to change our preliminary view – which is, that the concept of ‘shares plus’ should not be progressed,” says Mr Key.

The key findings from the consultation on ‘shares plus’ show:

  • Financial redress and input into resource management decisions can be provided in other – and in some cases better – ways.
  • Appointing directors and exercising shareholder voting rights can also be achieved in other ways with the Crown, which will remain the controlling shareholder.
  • The Crown does not believe that providing iwi with special rights in making management decisions will work well and most submitters who considered the idea agreed.
  • ‘Shares plus’ would create a potential conflict of interest within and between different iwi groups. And it would potentially weaken existing relationships between iwi groups and the SOEs.

Mr Key says the decisions announced today may lead to legal action from the Māori Council and others.

“That’s entirely a matter for them. From the Government’s perspective, it would not be unexpected. . . .

This decision isn’t unexpected but it is welcome.

The partial sale of Mighty river Power was an election commitment by National.

The proceeds are needed to enable the government to put money into other assets without increasing debt.

Maori as a whole have never been recognised as owners of water in general.

Any claims by individual iwi to an interest in particular bodies of water can be addressed without affecting the partial sale.

 


Hawke’s Bay deer farmers M&S sustainability champions

October 15, 2012

Hawke’s Bay deer farmers and Federated Farmers members, Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe, are Marks & Spencer 2012 Farming for the Future Champion of Champions.

“Marks & Spencer is a globally recognised brand which epitomises quality and environmental sustainability. This is huge for us, for the FirstLight Foods group which sells our product to Marks & Spencer, our industry and for New Zealand agriculture.

“Having been judged by the company and its customers as the most sustainable farm of five finalists, representing Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England is a huge endorsement of the farming systems and philosophies we have developed over the years.

“Our on-farm environmental activities started in 1995 when we fenced off and covenanted a seven hectare block of native trees. Since then we have fenced off around five percent of our farm, including protecting and enhancing three wetland areas, planting thousands of native plants and trees along the way.

“The judges were impressed with our animal health management, which uses nutrition where possible to minimise drench and vaccine use.

“The Aitken Weaning Technique is a development we are especially proud of, which has been taken up throughout the deer industry.

“This works with the animals’ instincts to wait for their mother, allowing them to process the separation quietly rather than injuring themselves and cutting up pasture. Since we discovered this, the industry is estimated to have saved about $1.2 million a year in losses and damage at weaning time.

“Lucy and I were already very proud of what we have achieved on our farm, but receiving this level of recognition from British consumers is a huge confidence boost,” Mr Aitken concluded.

Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills said Tim and Lucy were excellent examples of Kiwi farmers leading the way on sustainable farming.

“The Marks & Spencer Farming for the Future award recognises farmers for how well they treat their livestock, their technical excellence as farmers and their overall environmental performance. Winning the overall award ahead of the four British finalists is a huge endorsement of Tim and Lucy’s farming systems and of the esteem New Zealand agriculture is held in internationally,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Tim and Lucy had already won the title of Marks & Spencer’s best international supplier against more than 50 entries.

“Having the technical aspects of their business being judged was one thing, but winning the champion of champions award showed these people and their business really won the hearts and minds of a discerning British public who supported them in the popular vote.

“Federated Farmers is proud to have this couple as members and we encourage all New Zealand farmers to follow their example, lead the world in innovative animal welfare and environmental management and to enter into awards to let the world see the great work we are doing,” Mr Wills concluded.

To win the international category in competition with more than 50 suppliers from all around the world was an achievement in itself.

To win the overall champion’s title when competing against UK section winners English farmer Bill Cowperthwaite, Scottish farmer Gary Jamieson, Nigel McMullen from Ireland and Welsh farmer David Phillips; in a popular vote is even more notable.

Jon Morgan writes about the win here.


Benedict Collins wins Rongo

October 15, 2012

The TBfree New Zealand Rongo Award, the supreme prize at the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators  awards has been won by  Benedict Collins for programmes prepared for Country99TV.

The runner up was Shawn McAvinue  for articles which appeared in the Southland Times. He now works for the Otago Daily Times.

The Rural Women NZ Journalism Award was won by Jackie Harrigan for articles that appeared in Country-Wide magazine. Andrew Stewart of Young Country, another NZX Agri group publication was runner up.

The award recognises journalism that portrays the important contribution women make to farm businesses and in rural communities.

In presenting the award, Rural Women NZ national president, Liz Evans, said the winning entries were refreshing, informative and topical and reflected the true professionalism of the farming women whose stories they told.
One story, for example, involved school leaver Anita, who finally got her dream job as a shepherd on a North Island hill country station, only to experience a quad bike accident that left her in a wheelchair. But Anita’s fighting spirit has ensured that she is still pursuing a career in agriculture. . . 
Liz Evans said, “Rural Women New Zealand continues to support these awards as we see the calibre and content of the entries about rural women, their lives, businesses and communities grow more dynamic each time.”
Other awards went to:
AGMARDT Agribusiness Award –  Hugh Stringleman
AgResearch Science Writers Award – Tim Cronshaw, The Press;  runner up Peter Burke, Rural News
Beef + Lamb NZ News Award – Richard Rennie
Ballance Agri-Nutrients –  Tim Cronshaw, The Press;  runner up, Ali Tocker, Waikato Times
Guild Encouragement Award  –  John  Watson, Country99TV
Federated Farmers Rural Photograph Award   –  Jonathan Cameron, Taranaki Daily News
Horticulture New Zealand Journalism Award -Tim Fulton, NZ Farmers Weekly;  runner up, Susan Murray, Country Life
PGG Wrightson Sustainable Land Management Award –  Susan Murray, Country Life.

MSD privacy holes

October 15, 2012

Keith Ng followed a tip-off that parts of the Ministry of Social Development’s corporate network could be accessed from public computer kiosks in WINZ offices.

What he found wasn’t so much leaks as gaping holes.

This looks like more than a systems failure.

Any organisation which has private information ought to have someone who ensures that it is kept private and can’t be accessed accidentally or deliberately by anyone not authorised to it.

Ng is a freelance journalist and spent almost a week uncovering this huge security lapse. If you want to support his work you can make a donation here.


Water woes

October 15, 2012

“We’ve got no water.”

I woke up to hear my farmer giving me that bad news this morning.

It used to be a regular occurrence when we had a really hard frost but that hasn’t happened since our water supply system was upgraded a few years ago.

This morning’s fault was not weather related but human – someone had turned off the line to the tank which feeds the house to solve a temporary problem with low pressure somewhere else and forgot to turn it back on.

That’s been sorted.

Water’s flowing through our taps again and I’m full of appreciation for something I normally take for granted.


Faster than the speed of sound

October 15, 2012

Why anyone would want to leap from a balloon more than 24 miles from earth is beyond me.

But I admire Felix Baumgartner  for doing it, breaking the sound barrier and the record for the highest ever parachute jump.

His website is here.

On the about page you’ll find his motto: Everyone has limits, not everyone accepts them.

Can you compare this feat to those of the early adventurers who sought to explore unknown corners of the earth or is it literally and figuratively out of this world?


If winter’s here . . .

October 15, 2012

. . . where has spring gone?

We spent the weekend in Wanaka.

It rained most of Saturday. The cloud lifted during the afternoon to give us a view of the fresh snow about half way down the mountains which frame the lake.

The drive home through the Lindis always provides glorious views, but there’s not usually this much snow in October:

Permission to ask yet again why the clocks go forward for daylight saving in late September?


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