Word of the day


Myrmidon – a member of a warlike Thessalian people led by Achilles at the siege of Troy;  a hired ruffian; a subordinate who executes orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously.

Rural round-up


Dead cows suffered urea poisoning:

The deaths of a 120 cows on a south Taranaki farm was a large-scale, one-off accident, caused by urea poisoning, a vet has confirmed.

The cows, which made up about a quarter of the farmers’ herd, died suddenly earlier this month, after their water troughs had been topped up using a portable tank.

Within 30 minutes, cows began falling to the ground. Vets were called immediately, but there was little they could do as some of the cows died quickly.

Taranaki Veterinary Centre chief executive Stephen Hopkinson says the cows suffered urea poisoning.

He told NZ Newswire the portable tank used to fill up the water troughs had also been used to spray pastures with urea.

Though it was rinsed in between uses, there was still enough urea left in the bottom of the tank to poison the cows. . .

Smedley Station invites Lincoln University to join them in producing the ‘very best future farmers’:

North Island-based Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm has initiated a partnership agreement with Lincoln University to form a unique on-farm education and training offering for young farmers.
Smedley Station is located in the central Hawkes Bay, 40kms west of Waipukurau, and the 5,000ha (30,000 stock unit) property offers two-year, intensive on-farm training and experience for 22 cadets.   Smedley’s Board Chairman, Pat Portas, is delighted that the two like-minded training institutions have formed a partnership to work together: “Smedley’s vision is ‘developing the very best future farmers’.  For an individual to become one of the best farmers they need to have a well-rounded education, including both practical work and theory.   Smedley Station has traditionally been providing excellent on-farm practical training and the partnership with Lincoln University will now enable the delivery of the best land-based theory New Zealand has to offer.  Our cadets will finish their time here with all-round practical skills and having had the potential to study right through to Level 5 with the University”. . . 

Foresters growing less pruned wood:

Forest owners are moving away from production of pruned logs, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI has released the 2012 annual National Exotic Forestry Description (NEFD) report, which gives a snapshot of the area and make-up of New Zealand’s planted production forests. . .

Stay safe on the farm this summer:

On average, 850 people each year are injured riding quad bikes on farms. Five die.

It is because of these unacceptable statistics that Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment inspectors will visit farms this summer to ensure key quad bike safety steps are recognised and understood.

Rural Women New Zealand joins the Ministry in urging farmers and their families to take extra care on the farm over summer, particularly when it comes to quad bike safety.

As it gets closer to the holiday season the pace of work picks up and more tasks are fitted into the longer days. . .

Canterbury Earthquake Awards recognises the Farmy Army

Key members of Federated Farmers’ Farmy Army were recognised last evening at the Canterbury Earthquake Awards.

“The individual recognition received was a well deserved tribute for their selfless contribution and commitment,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees Chairperson and ‘Generalissimo’ of Federated Farmers’ Farmy Army.

“The five ‘Farmy Army’ people recognised last night accepted their awards really on behalf of the thousands who pitched in to help Christchurch. . .

Prevention best protection for facial eczema risk:

Reports that farm revenue is not matching increases to input costs mean farmers need to be acutely focused on maximising production.

Altum Animal Nutrition Manager Jackie Aveling says warmer temperatures and higher humidity are a sign that summer is finally here, but they also signal the potential for facial eczema.

“Dairy and beef cattle, sheep, deer and goats are all susceptible. For dairy farmers in particular, facial eczema can put a real brake on production when they are aiming to make the most of reasonable growing conditions at a time when peak production can taper off,” says Mrs Aveling. . .

Marlborough Sounds Blue Cod Fishery Opening For Summer:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is calling on recreational fishers to know the rules when they go fishing for blue cod in Marlborough this summer.

District Compliance Manager Manager Ian Bright said Fishery Officers would be out and about making sure recreational fishers follow the rules. . .

And from World Angus Forum:


Thursday’s quiz


1.  Who said: I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.?

2. What’s your favourite Christmas carol/song?

3. It’s heureux in French, felice  in Italian, feliz in Spanish and manahau  in Maori, what is it in English.

4. What’s your favourite Christmas food?

5. Do you celebrate Christmas and if so how?

Never let a chance go by


Twenty people have been poisoned after eating shellfish collected in the Bay of Plenty area in the past week.

And Aquaculture New Zealand puts out a media release:

Farmed New Zealand Greenshell Mussels and Pacific Oysters on sale at local supermarkets and seafood retailers are delicious, nutritious and 100 per cent safe to eat.

Aquaculture New Zealand chairman Peter Vitasovich has assured New Zealanders they can enjoy locally farmed shellfish these holidays with absolute confidence.

“New Zealand marine farmers operate one of the world’s strictest seafood quality assurance programmes, meeting the standards set by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Union,” Mr Vitasovich said.

“Both the shellfish, and the water in which they are grown are rigorously tested before harvesting takes place.

“Fresh, sustainable, delicious, nutritious – Greenshell Mussels and Pacific Oysters are the taste of summer, proudly grown in your back yard.

“New Zealanders can enjoy farmed mussels and oysters knowing they are eating the safest shellfish in the world.”


I don’t think so and that’s not a criticism.

Good businesses never let a chance go by.

Higher inflation helps nobody


Quote of the day:

. . . Low inflation does not cure all ills. But higher inflation helps nobody (except property speculators). It doesn’t even stimulate employment as we used to believe, except briefly by temporarily cutting real wages.

And while printing money or drastically easing monetary policy might get the exchange rate down, we know from bitter experience that this provides only temporary relief for exporters as higher inflation quickly offsets the benefits of a lower exchange rate.

For decades we could compete on international markets with the New Zealand dollar at US$1.12. Now we can’t because too often we listened to those who argued for just a bit more inflation. . . Don Brash.

A bit more inflation is like a bit more pregnancy. It keeps growing, then it produces a baby and the baby keeps growing too.

What’s the government done


It’s not the media’s job to highlight all a government has achieved.

Thanks to the internet, government’s can do that for themselves.

So what’s the National-led government done?

National’s successes

Despite the difficulties that New Zealand has faced in the past four years, National has achieved some great results for Kiwis.

Responsibly managing the Government’s finances

  • After-tax wages up 20 per cent since 2008 – almost twice the inflation rate.
  • In 2012, our economy grew faster than at any time since 2007.
  • New Zealand currently has the lowest inflation rate since 1999 – the everyday cost of living is increasing at its slowest rate in 13 years.
  • Record low interest rates: a family with $200,000 mortgage is $200 a week better off.
  • Households’ disposable income is up by almost a third since 2008.
  • All rates of Superannuation have increased since 2008 – the married rate is up by $194, which is 22 per cent higher than April 2008.
  • 65,000 net new jobs in our economy over the past 3 years.
  • Personal income tax cuts across the board have left the average family $25 better off each week.
  • Three-quarters of income earners pay no more than 17.5 per cent tax.
  • New Zealanders are saving more, with positive household savings rates for the first time in a decade.
  • Working for Families payments increased by 5 per cent on 1 April 2012, meaning higher payments for most families.

Find out more here.

Building a more productive and competitive economy

  • Business tax in New Zealand is lower than Australia at 28 per cent.
  • 13,000 new jobs have been created in small and medium sized businesses through the 90-day trial.
  • 90-day trials have enabled 60 per cent of businesses to take on new staff when they otherwise wouldn’t have.
  • RMA reforms mean projects of national significance are being consented in nine months or less under National.
  • $1.3 billion investment in ultra-fast broadband – access for 97 per cent of Kiwis by 2019 where they live, work, and study.
  • 100,000 households and businesses can connect to ultra-fast broadband.
  • Nearly 2000 jobs created rolling out ultra-fast broadband.
  • Over $1 billion a year has been spent to improve New Zealand’s state highway network, unclogging the arteries of growth and helping connect our businesses with their main markets.
  • We’ve increased funding for science, innovation, and research by 17 per cent over the past four years.
  • More than $650 million has been invested in the Primary Growth Partnership to boost economic growth through primary sector research and innovation.
  • We’re global leaders in tackling climate change without reducing food production through the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.
  • 22 per cent reduction in ACC levies in 2012 for business, saving the average small business $1120 a year.
  • We have halved the costs of the Emissions Trading Scheme to households and reduced the impact on agriculture and small businesses.
  • Spending $5 billion upgrading the electricity grid.  Over 1500 jobs created in the last year.

Find out more here.

Better public services

Find out more here.

Growing and protecting our health service

  • $400 million more for health this year, on top of $1.5 billion for health in the past four years.
  • 35,000 more elective operations provided than in 2008, including almost 40,000 more operations for seniors during this time.
  • All patients ready for radiation or chemotherapy treatment receive this within four weeks – the international gold standard.
  • 92 per cent of emergency patients are seen, treated, or discharged within six hours –compared with only 80 per cent in 2009.
  • 93 per cent of under-two year olds fully immunised – up from just 76 per cent in 2007.
  • More frontline staff in the public health service under National – 1000 extra doctors and 2000 more nurses on the frontline. 
  • 1,800 doctors, nurses, and midwives signed up to work in hard-to-staff areas and specialities under National’s voluntary bonding scheme.
  • Funding for 56,000 more WellChild visits.
  • Free visits to the doctor anytime of the day or night for 90 per cent of under-sixes.
  • $54 million to boost maternity services to support new parents.
  • PlunketLine fully-funded 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to support new parents – 33,000 additional calls made by parents in need.

Find out more here.

A stronger Justice system

  • 600 more frontline police.
  • Lowest crime rate in 30 years
  • 3000 fewer victims of crime in the past year
  • 4000 crime victims getting better support services
  • $50 offender levy is funding 13 support services for victims
  • 6000 families protected by police safety orders
  • Tougher sentences for crimes against children.
  • Less stress on victims through extended maximum intervals between parole hearings.
  • Increased search powers for Corrections officers meaning more contraband being confiscated in prison.
  • Since 2008 only 4.8 per cent of prisoners are testing positively for drugs down from 13 per cent.
  • Prison escapes and positive random drug tests are at the lowest ever levels.
  • Over $135 million in cannabis seized by Police in a major crack down on criminals and the proceeds of crime.
  • Over 3000 prisoners in on-the-job training and a 45 per cent rise in educational credits gained by prisoners.
  • Over the past 12 months, our youth justice reforms halved the number of youth needing to be held in secure units.
  • 3,144 prisoners in Release to Work programmes, the most ever, helping to reduce reoffending and protect communities.

Find out more here.

Education that delivers for your children

  • 34 per cent increase in ECE funding since 2008.
  • National’s total investment in early childhood education and schooling is $9.6 billion for 2012/13.
  • 3500 more ECE places targeted at vulnerable children who are missing out, but would benefit the most.
  • 20 hours free Early Childhood Education (ECE) maintained for our youngest and most vulnerable children, and we extended this to cover Play Centres and Kōhanga Reo.
  • Over 1,000 new ECE places for vulnerable children in areas of high need.
  • $7600 paid per child enrolled in ECE – more per child than at any other level of their education.
  • On average, over 70 per cent of kids reached National Standards.  Measuring progress in reading, writing, and maths, and reporting results to parents.
  • 70 per cent of school leavers achieving NCEA level 2, up from 65 per cent in 2008. Our target is 85 per cent in 2017.
  • 410,000 students across New Zealand with access to faster broadband by July 2013. 
  • $60 million to help stop bullying in schools through a Positive Behaviour for Learning Action Plan.
  • $18.6 million spent to put nurses into decile 3 secondary schools and specially trained youth workers in selected low decile secondary schools.
  • Three new teen parent units set-up to help young mothers stay engaged in education.
  • 2000 more trades training places, through 11 new Trades Academies.
  • Almost 13,000 fees-free youth guarantee places next year, in trades and service academies, and polytechs.
  • Four times as many adult students gaining literacy and numeracy skills.
  • 12,000 more tertiary places.
  • More investment in engineering, science, and research-led learning in institutions.
  • $20 million in overdue student loans collected so far.
  • 97.7 per cent of schools will receive ultra-fast broadband by 2016.
  • 99.9 per cent of students will be connected to ultra-fast broadband by 2016.

Find our more here.

Rebuilding Christchurch

  • 5.5 billion to help rebuild Christchurch.
  • $1 billion of building work consented in past 6-months in greater Christchurch.
  • 25,000 homes repaired by EQC so far.
  • Every Christchurch home now zoned – 181,000 zoned green.
  • Two-thirds of red-zoned property owners settled with the Crown.
  • 80% of CBD demolition work completed.
  • Major – and permanent – infrastructure repair projects underway: $2.2 billion to be spent on infrastructure repair works with $73 million spent already.
  • Implemented the $200 million wage support and job loss package to assist 63,000 Cantabrians and their families.
  • $6.8 million to help earthquake-affected Canterbury businesses get back on their feet.
  • $10 million for social service agencies and counselling support for Cantabrians rebuilding their lives.
  • Over 1,100 families provided with Temporary Accommodation Assistance.
  • Built a new $20 million temporary stadium at the site of Rugby League Park in Addington, giving Cantabrians the chance to enjoy major sporting and music events again.
  • Ensuring New Zealanders are ready with the skills needed for the long-term rebuild through the $42 million, 1500 place Skills for Canterbury programme.
  • $2 million Social Housing Unit funding to provide 25 new housing units for vulnerable people living in Christchurch.

Find out more here.

Among all these achievements, the most important are ones which will have long term economic and social benefits.

Some of these cost more money upfront, for example keeping young people off benefits, but will pay economic and social dividends in the future.

December 20 in history


69 – Vespasian, formerly a general under Nero, entered Rome to claim the title of emperor.

217 – The papacy of Zephyrinus ended. Callixtus I was elected as the sixteenth pope, but was opposed by the theologian Hippolytus who accused him of laxity and of being a Modalist, one who denies any distinction between the three persons of the Trinity.

1192  Richard the Lion-Heart was captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after signing a treaty with Saladin ending the Third crusade.

1522 – Suleiman the Magnificent accepted the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who were allowed to evacuate. They eventually settled on Malta and became known as the Knights of Malta.

1803 – The Louisiana Purchase was completed at a ceremony in New Orleans.

1865 Elsie De Wolfe, American socialite and interior decorator, was born  (d. 1950).
1868 Harvey Firestone, American automobile pioneer, was born (d. 1938).
1894  Sir Robert Menzies, twelfth Prime Minister of Australia was born (d. 1978).
1901  Robert Van de Graaff, American physicist and inventor, was born  (d. 1967).
1907  Paul Francis Webster, songwriter, was born  (d. 1984).
1913 The Great Strike of 1913, which began in late October when Wellington waterside workers stopped work, ended when the United Federation of Labour (UFL) conceded defeat.
Waterfront strike ends

1927  Kim Young-sam, first civilian President of South Korea after a series of dictatorships, was born.

1944  Bobby Colomby, American musician (Blood, Sweat & Tears), was born.

1945 Peter Criss, American drummer and singer (Kiss), was born.

1948 Alan Parsons, British music producer and artist, was born.

1951 The EBR-1 in Arco, Idaho becomes the first nuclear power plant to generate electricy.  The electricity powered four light bulbs.

1955 – Cardiff was proclaimed the capital city of Wales.

1957  Billy Bragg, English singer and songwriter, was born.

1973 Spanish Prime Minister, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, was assassinated by a car bomb attack in Madrid.

1984 The Summit tunnel fire, the largest underground fire in history, as a freight train carrying over 1 million litres of petrol derails near the town of Todmorden in the Pennines.

1987 History’s worst peacetime sea disaster, when the passenger ferry Doña Paz sank after colliding with the oil tanker Vector 1 in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines  killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).

1988 The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances was signed in Vienna

1989  United States invasion of Panama: The United States sent troops into Panama to overthrow government of Manuel Noriega.

1995  NATO began peacekeeping in Bosnia.

1996 NeXT merged with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.

1999 Macau was handed over to the People’s Republic of China by Portugal.

2007  Queen Elizabeth II became the oldest ever monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days.

2007 – The painting Portrait of Suzanne Bloch (1904), by Pablo Picasso, was stolen from the São Paulo Museum of Art, along with O Lavrador de Café, by the major Brazilian modernist painter Candido Portinari.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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