Word of the day

November 1, 2012

Obscurantism – opposition to the increase and spread of knowledge; deliberate obscurity or evasion of clarity.


Rural round-up

November 1, 2012

Wool’s future far from woolly:

Farmers are counting down the days to when major shareholdings in New Zealand Wool Services International (NZWSI) will be on-sold by the receivers.

“In a green-aware age, bales of wool should be flying out of our woolsheds. As they are not, is why management consultants could describe the wool industry as a ‘problem child’,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson. . .

New Head of Farm Environment Trust Ready for Challenge:

Well-known Wanganui farmer Alistair Polson has been elected chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

He takes over from North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman who has stepped down after six years in the role.

Mr Polson’s extensive experience in farming politics and business management includes serving as national president of Federated Farmers from 1999 to 2002.

Since 2004 he has been Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for New Zealand. He is a former director or committee member of a number of rural-based organisations, including AgITO, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Veterinary Council of New Zealand and NZ Landcare Trust. . .

Deep in the current – Bruce Munro:

Graeme Martin has been described as everything from a compassionate, principled, visionary genius to an inflexible, stubborn, demanding taskmaster. Bruce Munro examines pieces of the puzzle that make up the influential, complex and soon to retire chief executive of the Otago Regional Council.

“I shan’t forget a very large fist waved very close to my face” Graeme Martin says.

He is sitting in a comfortable chair in a corner office with city, harbour and peninsula views.

Three hundred and sixty kilometres and 45 years separate him from what happened that day in the Addington railway workshops.

But there is no denying the edge to his voice.

“A fist waved in my face because I was working too hard.” . . .

Winemaker celebrates 50 years:

The staff lunchroom might not seem an obvious stop on a tour of a picturesque winery. But Villa Maria’s is immaculate – largely due to the writing on its wall. 

One side of the lunchroom at the company’s winery in Mangere, Auckland, is dominated by information about its lean manufacturing programme, Achieving Continuous Excellence (ACE), running in the company for the past two years. It’s brought efficiencies to the business, but benefits in the physical environment are also obvious. Nothing – not even in the caf – is out of place.

It’s a point of pride for founder Sir George Fistonich, but also gives an insight into how the company, which celebrates its 50th vintage this year, has continued to grow in a tough industry. . .

Soil biology is key to saving saving fertility – Peter Watson:

Complacency is costing us some of our best soils, says ecologist and educator Nicole Masters.

New Zealand is losing 11 tonnes of topsoil per hectare a year, more than 10 times the global average, she said during a recent Beef + Lamb New Zealand field day held at Claire Parkes and Simon Vincent’s farm near Wakefield, and attended by about 35 farmers.

“We live in one of the most blessed soil environments in the world.

“We are fertile, we have good carbon and beautiful rainfall, but we are losing all this topsoil and it’s not sustainable.” . .

Convert to sustainability – Tim Cronshaw:

A farmer with nearly 9000 deer who once never put much thought into improving the environment on his farm, has become a fully converted believer.

Graham Carr estimates he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during the past four years fencing off waterways and putting in settling ponds, so the water coming off his farm at Peel Forest Estate in South Canterbury is crystal clear.

Carr has built up one of the largest deer herds in the country, since emigrating to New Zealand 25 years ago from Britain, where he came from a joinery background. . .

A2 Corp to take control of NZ marketing, enter North America:

 A2 Corp, which markets milk products with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits, wants to directly enter the New Zealand market and is looking to expand into North America and some European nations having wrapped up a strategic review to speed up growth.

The alternative-market listed company will shift its focus to a number of opportunities in a bid to ramp up growth, including directly marketing into New Zealand, it said in a statement. A2 plans to expand rapidly include entering markets in North America, German, France Italy and Spain via joint ventures, using local contract manufacturers or investing in regional processing, it said. . .


Thursday’s quiz

November 1, 2012

1. Who said:”if you don’t want to work you have to work to earn enough so you don’t have to work.”?

2. Who wrote Counting for Nothing What Men Value and What Women Are Worth?

3. It’s travailler in French, lavarare lavorare in Italian, trabajar in Spanish and mahi in Maori, what is it in English?

4. It starts: Eight hours work, eight hours play . . .  -  how does it end?

5. If you could afford not to work, would you?


Who’s the 4,444,444th NZer?

November 1, 2012

New Zealand’s population is estimated to reach 4,444,444 today according to Statistics New Zealand:

“While the new resident could be a New Zealander flying home after living overseas, or a new migrant, they’re most likely to be a new baby, as that’s where most of our population growth is coming from,” population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said.

“And who knows? That new boy or girl might even be born at 4.44 in the morning.”

The symmetrical milestone matches one the Australian state of Queensland reached three years ago, and puts our population very close to that of Ireland or Croatia, Mrs Blackburn said.

“These types of landmarks are quite rare. Our population hit 3,333,333 in the mid-1980s and based on our projections, we probably won’t get to 5,555,555 for another 30 years.

“It will also pass quite quickly. The population is currently growing by roughly 100 people every day, so it will only be at 4,444,444 for about quarter of an hour.”

Mrs Blackburn said the population estimate is based on births, deaths, and migration since the census in 2006. At that time, the population was about 4.2 million.

Last year’s scheduled five-yearly census was postponed after the Christchurch earthquake in February. The next one is scheduled to take place on March 5th next year.


South resurgent

November 1, 2012

South Island listed companies showed a 16.9% gain in the quarter to 30 September.

The 19th edition of the Deloitte South Island Index, for the quarter to 30 September 2012, was up by $782 million or 16.9% in market capitalisation, rebounding from a sluggish second calendar quarter. The quarter’s stellar results see the Index up 18.6% during the year to 30 September 2012 with total market capitalisation now standing at $5.41 billion.

Paul Munro, a corporate finance partner in Deloitte’s Christchurch office, says that the third quarter of 2012, generally speaking, paints a rosy picture for the South with market capitalisation appreciation in 23 of the 30 companies listed on the Index.

The Deloitte South Island Index’s 16.9% growth outperformed all benchmark indices during the September quarter, with the NZX 50 up 12.8%, the ASX All Ords up 6.6% and the Dow Jones up 4.3%. The Index’s year to 30 September 2012 increase of 18.6% is second only to the Dow Jones’ increase of 23.1% during the same period.

“The performance of the Index in this quarter suggests that low interest rates in New Zealand are increasing the demand for shares as investors look for higher returns than they can currently achieve on bank deposits,” Mr Munro says.

 “One would assume that the worst of the global financial crisis is over in the South and many are hopeful that the positive trend experienced over the quarter will continue.”

Dare we hope that this really does mean the worst of the GFC is over and the positive trend will continue?

. . .  All eight industry sectors posted positive movements in the quarter to 30 September 2012 led by Biotechnology, which was the standout performer in percentage terms, gaining 40% and ending the September quarter on a record high since the inception of the Index.

The Manufacturing and Distribution and Property sectors, with growth of 13.1% and 17.6% respectively, also achieved their highest monthly closing values since the Index commenced in December 2006.

Growth of 13.1% in manufacturing, do Opposition MPs know about that?

Instead of manufacturing their own manufacturing crises they should be looking at and learning from these businesses which are growing.

The full report is here.


White powder not right powder

November 1, 2012

Selling infant milk formula for $78 a can seems ambitious but that’s the aim of Auckland-based Fernbaby.

. . . One industry source said the target seemed “do-able”, but added that the 398 RMB ($78) per can price Fernbaby planned to charge in China was expensive compared with other products already on the market.

At $78 a 900g can the firm’s trade with China could be making close to $8 million a months if it meets its targets.

Fernbaby is the brainchild of Chinese businessman Tianxi Shao, who is also the managing director of Sotx, a manufacturer of badminton sports equipment in China.

Tianxi said the 2008 melamine scandal – in which six Chinese babies died after consuming milk and formula tainted with the industrial chemical – had partly prompted the founding of Fernbaby.

Since the melamine disaster imported formula products, which generally sell for between $20 and $30 a can in New Zealand, have commanded a hefty premium in China. . .

Our reputation for milk quality is hard-earned which is why Fonterra will be doing everything it can to get to the bottom of media reports that 165 kilograms of drugs have been found in one of its containers in Algeria.

Agence France-Presse reported that the massive haul was one of the largest ever intercepted in the North African country. The New Zealand Customs Service is also trying to establish the facts, while expressing confidence that the drugs did not come from New Zealand.

Customs said it was aware of Algerian media reports that a significant quantity of an illegal drug, either cocaine or heroin, had been found in a shipment of milk powder in Algeria.

Customs had not been able to verify the reports and was working closely with Fonterra. . .

The melamine tragedy was one case when white powder wasn’t the right powder.

This is another, though had it not been discovered, the black market price would have made $78 a can look cheap.


November 1 in history

November 1, 2012

996  Emperor Otto III issued a deed to Gottschalk, Bishop of Freising, which is the oldest known document using the name Ostarrîchi (Austria in Old High German).

1179  Philip II was crowned King of France.

1348  The anti-royalist Union of Valencia attacked the Jews of Murviedro on the pretext that they were serfs of the King of Valencia and thus “royalists”.

1512 The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, was exhibited to the public for the first time

1520 The Strait of Magellan, was first navigated by Ferdinand Magellan during his global circumnavigation voyage.
1604 William Shakespeare‘s tragedy Othello was staged for the first time, at Whitehall Palace.
1611  William Shakespeare‘s romantic comedy The Tempest was staged for the first time, at Whitehall Palace.

1612 Time of Troubles in Russia: Moscow, Kitai-gorod, was captured by Russian troops under command of Dmitry Pozharsky.

1755 Lisbon earthquake:  Lisbon was destroyed by a massive earthquake and tsunami, killing between sixty thousand and ninety thousand people.

1765 The British Parliament enacted the Stamp Act on the 13 colonies in order to help pay for British military operations in North America.

1790  Edmund Burke published Reflections on the Revolution in France.

1800  US President John Adams became the first President of the United States to live in the Executive Mansion (later renamed the White House).

1805 Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Austria during the War of the Third Coalition.

1814  Congress of Vienna opened to re-draw the European political map after the defeat of France, in the Napoleonic Wars.

1848 The first medical school for women, The Boston Female Medical School (which later merged with the Boston University School of Medicine), opened.

1859   Cape Lookout lighthouse was lit for the first time.

1861 American Civil War: US President Abraham Lincoln appointed George B. McClellan as the commander of the Union Army, replacing the aged General Winfield Scott.

1870  The  U.S. Weather Bureau (later renamed the National Weather Service) mafr its first official meteorological forecast.

1876  New Zealand’s provincial government system was dissolved.

1884 The Gaelic Athletic Association was set up.

1886 Ananda College, a leading Buddhist school in Sri Lanka was established with 37 students.

1887 – L. S. Lowry, British painter of industrial scenes, was born  (d. 1976).

1894  Nicholas II became the new Tsar of Russia after his father, Alexander III, died.

1896  A picture showing the unclad breasts of a woman appeared in National Geographic magazine for the first time.

1898 The New Zealand parliament passed the Old-Age Pensions Act.  A world first, the act gave a small means-tested pension to destitute older people ‘deemed to be of good character’; Chinese were specifically excluded. It is considered one of the major achievements of Richard Seddon’s Liberal government.

Old-Age Pensions Act passes into law

1911  The first dropping of a bomb from an airplane in combat, during the Italo-Turkish War.

1914 World War I: the first British Royal Navy defeat of the war with Germany, the Battle of Coronel, was fought off of the western coast of Chile, with the loss of HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth.

1916  Paul Miliukov delivered in the State Duma the famous “stupidity or treason” speech, precipitating the downfall of the Boris Stürmer government.

1918  Malbone Street Wreck: the worst rapid transit accident in US history with at least 93 deaths.

1918  Western Ukraine gained its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

1920  American Fishing Schooner Esperanto defeated the Canadian Fishing Schooner Delawana in the First International Fishing Schooner Championship Races in Halifax.

1922  The last sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed VI, abdicated.

1928 The Law on the Adoption and Implementation of the Turkish Alphabet, replacing the version of the Arabic alphabet previously used, came into force in Turkey.

1935  – Gary Player, South African golfer, was born.

1937  Stalinists executed Pastor Paul Hamberg and seven members of Azerbaijan‘s Lutheran community.

1938  Seabiscuit defeated War Admiral in an upset victory during a match race deemed “the match of the century” in horse racing.

1939  The first rabbit born after artificial insemination was exhibited to the world.

1941 American photographer Ansel Adams took a picture of a moonrise over the town of Hernandez, New Mexico that became one of the most famous images in the history of photography.

1942  Matanikau Offensive began during the Guadalcanal Campaign.

1943  Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, United States Marines, the 3rd Marine Division, landed on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.

1944 – Oscar Temaru, President of French Polynesia, was born.

1944 World War II: Units of the British Army landed at Walcheren in the Netherlands.

1945 The official North Korean newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, was first published under the name Chongro.

1948   6,000 people were killed as a Chinese merchant ship exploded and sank.

1950 – Pope Pius XII claimed Papal Infallibility when he formally defined the dogma of the Assumption of Mary.

1951  Operation Buster-Jangle: 6,500 American soldiers were exposed to ‘Desert Rock’ atomic explosions for training purposes in Nevada.

1952  Operation Ivy – The United States successfully detonated the first large hydrogen bomb, codenamed “Mike” ["M" for megaton], in the Eniwetok atoll, in the Marshall Islands.

1954 The Front de Libération Nationale fired the first shots of the Algerian War of Independence.

1955 The bombing of United Airlines Flight 629 killed all 39 passengers and five crew members aboard the Douglas DC-6B airliner.

1957  The Mackinac Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge between anchorages at the time, opened to traffic connecting Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.

1959 – In Rwanda, Hutu politician Dominique Mbonyumutwa was beaten up by Tutsi forces, leading to a period of violence known as the wind of destruction.

1961  50,000 women in 60 cities participated in the inaugural Women Strike for Peace (WSP) against nuclear proliferation.

1963 The Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, with the largest radio telescope ever constructed, officially opened.

1970  Club Cinq-Sept fire in Saint-Laurent-du-Pont, France killed 146 young people.

1981  Antigua and Barbuda gained independence from the United Kingdom.

1982  Honda becomes the first Asian automobile company to produce cars in the United States with the opening of their factory in Marysville, Ohio.

1993 The Maastricht Treaty took effect, formally establishing the European Union.

2005 First part of the Gomery Report, which discussed allegations of political money manipulation by members of the Liberal Party of Canada, was released in Canada.

2009  The inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was held at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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