Word of the day

December 19, 2012

Lagniappe – a small gift presented with a purchase to a customer, by way of compliment, bonus or for good measure; an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.


Puzzling World adds attractions

December 19, 2012

When Stuart and Jan Landsborough first went to the council with plans to build Puzzling World on the outskirts of Wanaka they were told it would never work.

The council was wrong.

Nearly 40 years and 3 million customers later, Puzzling World is still working and is celebrating the latest addition to its world unique attraction.

Puzzling World’s vision for more amazement and magic in line with its philosophy of ‘puzzling eccentricity’ has materialised in the $2.5million SculptIllusion Gallery, complete with moving, living walls, floating objects and 3D illusions.

Heidi Landsborough and Duncan Spear – daughter and son-in-law respectively of Puzzling World pioneers Stuart and Jan Landsborough — put pen to paper three years ago to draft the latest optical illusion.

Ms Landsborough, Puzzling World’s General Manager, and Mr Spear, who is Operations Manager, said they were “delighted” with how architect Barry Condon of Sarah Scott Architects and Amalgamated Builders of Queenstown (ABL) had translated their vision.

 “This was a very different build, cast in concrete with many components which we changed throughout the process to improve the design or accommodate challenges,” said Mr Spear.

They wanted to bring more light into the building and worked with Mr Condon to design a system of windows to direct sunlight into an area that was previously dark and sunless.

The size of the build also required extensive upgrading to the facility’s amenities including new stormwater and sewerage upgrades and an increase of parking spaces.
Mr Spear said the success of both the SculptIllusion room and the behind the scenes amenities was down to good relationships and good workmanship.

“For us as a family business we really value the relationship we’ve made with ABL. We really felt that they had our best interests at heart, always suggesting and researching different materials and products to improve the build or the budget,” he said.

“From the first tender straight through to completion they’ve been fantastic.”

Amalgamated Builders quantity surveyor for the project, Brett Squire, said challenges were always expected in any construction but said it ranked as one of his favourite projects in his eight years at ABL.

“It was a geometrically complex building and much of the build occurred in the winter in the shadow of a mountain,” he said.

“This meant that aside from a very cold construction site, the ground froze which affected the logic of the build and the way we continued.

“Now it’s great to think when you look at the SculptIllusion gallery that we had a hand to play in the creation of it. It’s a real showpiece and we’re immensely proud of the result.”

He said any issues were overcome by keeping an open and collaborative approach between Mr Condon and Puzzling World, something echoed by Mr Condon.

“A spirit of co-operation prevailed throughout this challenging project,” he said. “We had much positive contribution from the contractors regarding illusion items outside of the scope of their contract and often with a good sense of humour.”

Ms Landsborough said the great working relationship on site had really made the process easier, especially on a project so close to her heart.

“This addition is the final piece to the family’s legacy of providing amusement and puzzlement to Wanaka and the thousands of tourists that visit each year,” she said.

“Although we attract tourists from around the world we remain a set up that’s built on solid and positive relationships, and we really experienced that with ABL and Barry,” she said.

Officially the SculptIllusion Gallery opens in March to coincide with the business’ 40 year anniversary, but Ms Landsborough said it was already open to the public for the school holidays.

“It’s the perfect opportunity for us to look at the public’s reaction and see if we need to make any small adjustments before March,” she said.

The 530sq m illusionary sculpture room is the fifth and largest Illusion Room and was built over eight-and-a-half months by ABL for approximately $2.5 million. The attraction includes a turned-on tap that seems to float in the air, benches that seem to have no stands, a cascading ceiling, columns that become people, a vertical garden and a unique collection of sculptures from local and national artists.

We’ve been to Puzzling World with children and adults, all of whom have loved the experience.

It will be even better now.

The ODT has a story and photos here.


Rural round-up

December 19, 2012

We are the picture that a child draws of a farm – SticK:

A child draws a picture of a farm.

The sun is shining, the water is clean, the animals are happy.

A question could be, ‘What is the name of that picture?’

Our farms, done correctly, are that picture. There’s a heck of a lot of science to validate it as well.

But, like the picture, we’ve never given a name to what and how we do things.

Without a name, we’re undifferentiated from factory farming. . .

Chatham rock phosphate use would drastically reduce farm run-off, says CRP

The solution to run-off of phosphate into waterways lies in more use of direct application rock phosphate fertiliser, according to Chatham Rock Phosphate chief executive Chris Castle.

Mr Castle said a range of scientific studies over many years has shown direct application rock phosphate offers strong environmental benefits.

CRP has evaluated some of the studies undertaken which compare the use of rock phosphate and super phosphate on New Zealand and international farmland. . .

Harvard sells down Kaingaroa stake to Canadian Pension fund, NZ Super fund:

Harvard Management Company, which manages Harvard University’s US$30.7 billion endowment fund, has sold down its stake in the central North Island Kaingaroa forest.

Canada’s public sector pension fund picking up the bulk and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund taking a small bite.

Canada’s C$64.5 billion Public Sector Pension Investment Board will take a 30 percent stake in the 178,000 hectare forest, while the NZ Super Fund lifted its share 1.25 percentage points to 41.25 percent. Harvard Management will keep a 28.75 percent stake in the forestry company. . .

Rabobank’s latest Agribusiness Review for Australia and New Zealand.

Prepared by the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory division, the report provides monthly commentary on Australian and New Zealand agricultural conditions.

Key highlights:
• In New Zealand, a tornado triggered by a series of intense thunderstorms caused extensive damage to parts of Auckland on December 6. In Australia, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, the first ‘normal’ summer since 2005/06 is expected. Meanwhile, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan passed through parliament in November and is scheduled to begin transitional implementation in 2013.

• Much of the attention in global markets is focussed on the US fiscal cliff. Despite some positive employment data in the US, consumer and business confidence has been dragged lower by uncertainty surrounding the impact of the fiscal cliff. . .

Dairy herd up – an extra 370 bottles of milk each :

The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand continues to surge, and is up by more than a million since 2007, Statistics New Zealand said today. At 6.5 million, there are 1.2 million more dairy cattle in 2012 than in 2007.

“Dairy numbers have been booming in the last five years. The extra production equates to about 370 2-litre bottles of milk a year for everyone in the country,” agriculture statistics manager Hamish Hill said.

These provisional numbers are from the latest five-yearly agricultural production census. . .

Background for newly elected Fonterra Board member Blue Read:

The newly elected Fonterra board member, North Taranaki dairy farmer Blue Read, is a passionate champion for the cooperative business model.

As chairperson of the Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ), Mr Read led New Zealand’s celebration of the UN International Year of Cooperatives. This included a Parliamentary launch, and crowning Ashburton the Cooperative Capital of New Zealand, along with national and international speaking engagements.

CBNZ executive director Ramsey Margolis said there had been a noticeable surge of interest from start-up businesses opting for the cooperative model over the last year. A number of existing businesses were also looking at converting to a cooperative. . .

Shareholders Vote In Favour Of Board Resolutions At Fonterra Annual Meeting

Fonterra shareholders have voted overwhelming in favour of a resolution to lock in protections around the size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund and the integrity of the Farmgate Milk Price. . .

Fonterra Protection Voted In

Federated Farmers has welcomed the 89.51 percent vote in favour of constitutional safeguards around Trading Among Farmers (TAF).

“We can finally put the ghost of June’s TAF vote to bed where the concept was backed but not the constitutional safeguards,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“A 89.51 percent vote is nearly as comprehensive as you can possibly get and Fonterra shareholders have shown good judgement. . .

Wools of New Zealand Extends Offer Deadline:

Wools of New Zealand has extended the deadline for its share offer to wool growers to 5:00 pm, 25 February 2013 to ensure growers have been given as much time as possible to consider and connect to the offer. The directors are committed and determined to start.

Mark Shadbolt, chairman of Wools of New Zealand, said the extension had been made to provide every opportunity for growers to take advantage of the offer, which to date had attracted positive support though remained short of the minimum level required of $5 million. The offer aims to raise $10 million from growers to pursue the Wools of New Zealand international marketing and sales strategies. . .


Small price rise in final GDT auction of year

December 19, 2012

The trade weighted index increased 1.1% in Fonterra’s final GobalDairyTrade auction of the year.

GDT Trade Weighted Index Changes

The price of anhydrous milk fat was down .1%; butter milk powder was down .4%; cheddar was up 4.9%; milk protein concentrate increased by 1%; rennet casein was up 6.9%; skim milk powder rose 1.1 and whole milk powder dropped .6%.

 


Whose responsibility is it?

December 19, 2012

Brian Rudman approves of Fonterra’s plan to extend its milk in schools programme to the rest of the country after the success of the pilot in Northland.

But then he quotes, and agrees with, Hone Harawira:

“Feeding society’s hungry children shouldn’t be left to well-meaning companies and charities. Feeding the 80,000 children who go to school hungry is the Government’s responsibility.”

No it’s not. The responsibility to feed children lies with their parents.

If they can’t, or don’t, and there is a  company which sees a need, and also an opportunity for advertising and promotion, there is absolutely no need to call on the government and taxpayers.

 

 


Lockwood for London

December 19, 2012

It’s not news but now it’s official: Lockwood Smith has been nominated to be our next High Commissioner to the UK.

Prime Minister John Key today welcomed the nomination of Dr the Rt Hon Lockwood Smith as New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

“Lockwood Smith has had a distinguished political career and his nomination is a mark of the high esteem in which he is held.

“Since 2008 he has held the role of Speaker of the House of Representatives, and was unanimously re-elected in 2011.

“The nomination of Parliament’s Speaker to the role of High Commissioner emphasises the importance of relationship between New Zealand and the United Kingdom,” says Mr Key.

Lockwood Smith has served as a Member of Parliament since 1984, when he was elected MP for Kaipara. In 1996, he became MP for Rodney, a role he held until 2011 when he went on the National Party List.

He has held a number of positions in National-led Governments, including Minister of Education, Agriculture, Trade and Deputy Finance Minister.

“I wish Lockwood and his wife, Alexandra, all the best for this new appointment,” says Mr Key.

Dr smith has been the best speaker in years, he leaves big shoes to fill but he’s earned this career move.


Change system & incentivise low inflation

December 19, 2012

The Remuneration Authority has recommended a small increase in pay for MPs and that has resulted in the usual carping:

While Christmas is still grim financially for many New Zealanders, politicians – who earn nearly three times the average wage – are about to pocket even more. . .

Good MPs are worth far more than they get.

I have some idea of the challenges my MP Jacqui Dean faces servicing an electorate which covers an area of 34,888 square kilometres as well as chairing a select committee and she more than earns her salary.

Others are overpaid for the little they appear to do but the system doesn’t differentiate for performance, or lack of it.

It’s no use criticising the MPs for the pay increase, the Remuneration Authority is an independent body.

But I would support the change in the system suggested by Kiwiblog :

. . . The easy way to solve this, is what I have long advocated – set the salary and associated terms around three months before each election, for the next term of Parliament.

So MPs would get elected to Parliament for a term, on a known salary which remains constant during that term. . .

That’s simple and fair.

It has the added advantage of incentivising MPs to keep inflation low so they don’t lose the real value of the salaries.

 

 


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