Word of the day


Cote – a shelter, small shed or coop for animals or birds; a cottage or small house; to go around by the side of, skirt or pass by.

Rural round-up


We’re all winner from trade deal – Bruce Wills:

I have two big wishes for 2013 – agreeing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and an end to the “farmer versus environmentalist” bickering.

If we can get environmentalists working with us on solutions, a better environment will reap a pot of gold at the end of an economic rainbow called the TPP. Money makes all things possible, something you only discover when you don’t have it.

The TPP is a US$21 trillion (NZ$24.9t) club and Europe would need another Germany just to match it.

I know some have suspicions and want everything done in the open but trade negotiations are like any negotiation. Whether it is for wages or a used car, there are things that must be kept within four walls. I doubt those of a conspiratorial disposition would want their personal details posted on the internet. I also know that any TPP deal will need legislation and if that does not provide scrutiny, what would? . . .

Sheep farmers urged to aim for Chinese market:

New Zealand sheep farmers are being encouraged to think like the tourism industry, and aim for the niche, top end Chinese market.

Lamb prices have fallen hard over the past year, with recession in Europe constraining household spending – which means luxuries like lamb have been off the menu.

Westpac economist Nathan Penny points out we’ve done quite well in the past with targeting wealthy consumers in the UK, Japan and Europe.

He says those consumers are emerging in China, but have yet to really experience New Zealand lamb. . .

Caution urged in taking up a dairy job – Ali Tocker:

Dairy farmers and farm workers are being urged not to rush into employment agreements in the new year as the workload starts to pick up.

Waikato dairy recruitment specialist John Fegan said people on both sides of the coin should take time to make sure the working relationship would be a good fit.

“The recruitment market tends to get really busy from late January. That makes both employers and employees nervous because everyone likes to have things arranged early. That results in people picking work or workers they shouldn’t.

“We’re advising people to relax and not just grab the first person or the first job. Put the time in, make sure you’ve got the right person if you’re the employer, and that you’ve got the right job for you if you’re the employee. . .

Lack of dairy award entries prompts thoughts of merger – Diane Bishop:

The future of the Otago Dairy Industry Awards hangs in the balance.

Chairman Matthew Richards said only 20 entries had been received for this year’s competition, which could mean the region is merged with Southland in the future.

That was despite a record 566 entries being received in the nationwide competition.

In Otago there were four entries in the sharemilker/equity farmer contest, four in the farm manager contest and 12 in the dairy trainee contest, down from 28 last year. . .

Thousands of farmers owed up to $5,800 of duty refund on off-road farm petrol:

Thousands of farmers and contractors are owed money on fuel used by off-road farm vehicles – and should make a claim before they miss out.

An average dairy farmer who spends $5,000 per annum on off-road petrol will get an excise duty refund of $2,900 per annum.

Almost any commercial off-road fuel usage includes an on-road tax (or duty) of up to $0.58 cents/litre that can be refunded back to the farmer. . .

Zabeel Still Starring at Karaka:

With 44 yearlings by this Champion Sire, and a further 79 yearlings from his mares set to be featured at Karaka 2013, Zabeel is continuing his reign as one of the leading sires in Australasian history through the deeds of his racetrack progeny and his daughters at stud.

A sire that has set many records in the sales ring, Zabeel – at the ripe age of 26 – is still producing Derby winners and Melbourne Cup runners, but increasingly his legacy is being carried through his daughters who are proving potent producers of Group 1 racehorses.

Zabeel’s damsire record makes for impressive reading: . . .

Make it easy but don’t make it complusory


A poll shows a majority of New Zealanders favour the reintroduction of a universal Kiwisaver scheme.

Almost three out of four New Zealanders agree now that it was a mistake to scrap the 1975 scheme, according to research that was commissioned by the Financial Services Council and run during December.

A Horizon Research Survey of 2107 respondents and matched to the adult population, asked whether all New Zealander employees should be required to belong to KiwiSaver and whether it was a mistake for New Zealand to abolish its compulsory super scheme in 1976.

“This was once an issue that bitterly divided New Zealanders, but there has been a huge turnaround and now supporters of all parties agree that cancelling the 1975 Superannuation Scheme was a mistake and that universal coverage by KiwiSaver is supported,” the chief executive of the Financial Services Council Mr Peter Neilson said. . .

The scheme that was scrapped in 1975 wasn’t  Kiwisaver.

Saving for retirement is in general benefits individuals and the economy.

It is good to encourage people to save for their own retirement and that it should be as easy as possible for them to do so.

I can see a problem in a few decades when there’s a huge divide between retirees who have the safety net of a Kiwisaver account to make retirement easier and those who don’t.

But I am very wary of making it compulsory.

Most people are capable of making their own judgement about what’s the best use of their own money and investing in their own business or paying off a mortgage might be better for them than a Kiwisaver account.

Oamaru Scot 100 celebrations


Oamaru was the first port of call for the Terra Nova on its return from the South Pole with that Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his party had died on their return from the Pole.

In the early hours of 10 February 1913 the Oamaru Harbour Board’s night watchman, Neil McKinnon, was expecting the arrival of the Ngatoro. Instead another ship arrived and ignored his signals to identify itself. Eventually two men were rowed ashore but they refused to provide any information on why they were there and asked to speak to an official. McKinnon escorted the two men to his hut and telephoned the harbour master, Captain James Ramsey.

The two men were Dr Edward Atkinson and Lieutenant Harry Pennell from Scott’s Terra Nova. They were sent ashore at Oamaru to send a coded message to the expedition’s New Zealand agent, Joseph Kinsey, informing him that Scott and his polar party had perished in the Antarctic.

McKinnon directed the men to Ramsey’s house on Wharfe Street, as the harbour master made his way down Arun Street to meet them. The men identified themselves to Ramsey and the port’s medical officer, Dr Alexander Douglas, but apparently swore the pair to secrecy. They stayed at Ramsey’s house until daylight, when the coded message was sent from the Post Office to Kinsey. The men took the next train to Christchurch to meet the Terra Nova in Lyttelton. . .

The centenary of this event is being marked by the Oamaru Scott 100 celebrations.

Oamaru Harbour will come alive with the celebration of a golden age in exploration. 100 years since the Terra Nova arrived off Oamaru Harbour the town will host five days of events including sea and land activities, education and adventure programmes, art, literature and lectures.

A list of events is here.

Among them is the world premiere of The Night Visitors, a play by Paul Baker.

Small town.  Big news.

At 2.30 a.m. on February 10, 1913, two strangers arrive at the house of the Oamaru Harbour master.   Their task is to secretly telegraph a grim secret from the Antarctic that  will become immense international news.

That much is true.  The Night Visitors then imagines both the comedy and the drama of this unique moment in Oamaru and New Zealand history. 

How will the traumatized Polar explorers cope with their sudden return to ‘civilization’?  And how will the Forresters – Mum, Dad and two kids,  a typical New Zealand family with quite enough problems of their own – react to their unexpected night visitors?

During the wee hours of February 10, and over the next few days as the news of Captain Scott’s death becomes public, the phenomenon known as ‘Polar madness’ starts to emerge, while the fault lines in the Forrester family are comically exposed.

The Night Visitors explores an Oamaru and New Zealand of exactly one hundred years ago.  Many conventions and beliefs have changed, but human nature seems constant.  The play also takes the audience back to the stark tragedy of the Antarctic.

The Night Visitors was commissioned as part of the OamaruScott100 centenary commemorations of the Terra Nova’s clandestine visit to Oamaru.  Paul Baker’s previous play, Meet the Churchills, also balanced drama and comedy, and fact and fiction.  It enjoyed a critical and commercially successful season at Wellington’s Circa Theatre in 2011, and was nominated for several awards.   A previous play, Conscience, was produced at the Court Theatre Christchurch in 2003.   

Paul Baker was Rector of Waitaki Boys’ High School from 1999 to 2012.   He is uniquely positioned to write The Night Visitors, having visited the Antarctic (with three boys from the school)  and researched the New Zealand of a century ago for his doctoral thesis.

Booking information is on the link above.

National # 1 again


National is always number one with me, but this times it’s not politics but media – RadioNZ National was the number one radio station in 2012:

The All New Zealand Radio Survey conducted by the Nielson research company shows Radio New Zealand National has a nationwide share of 10.5% for the 2012 calendar year – its nearest rival has 8.9%.
It’s the second year in a row Radio New Zealand National has earned the title.
Radio New Zealand says its flagship Morning Report retained its position as most popular programme, with Nine to Noon, The Panel, Checkpoint, Nights, Saturday Morning and Sunday Morning also topping their respective slots.

I listen to the radio a lot and RadioNZ National more often than not.

The national is of course a reference to nationwide not politics. If it was I sometimes detect a bias that would have it more accurately named RadioNZ Labour or something else well to the left of National.

Declaration of interest: I am a semi-regular contributor to Critical Mass on Afternoons.



“I like consensus when people agree with me,” she said.

“When they don’t I encourage them to compromise until they do.”

January 15 in history


588 BC – Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem under Zedekiah’s reign.

69 – Otho seized power in Rome, proclaiming himself Emperor of Rome, but rules for only three months before committing suicide.

1493 – Christopher Columbus set sail for Spain from Hispaniola, ending his first voyage to the New World.

1559 Elizabeth I was crowned queen of England in Westminster Abbey.

1622  Molière, (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) French playwright, was born (d. 1673).

1759 The British Museum opened.

1842 Blessed Mary McKillop, Australian  saint, was born (d. 1909)

1870  A political cartoon for the first time symbolised the United States Democratic Party with a donkey (“A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly).
1889 The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, was originally incorporated in Atlanta
1892 James Naismith published the rules of basketball.

1893  Ivor Novello, Welsh composer and actor, was born (d. 1951).

1902  King Saud of Saudi Arabia, was born (d. 1969).

1906 Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping magnate, was born  (d. 1975).

1909 Jean Bugatti, German-born automobile designer, was born  (d. 1939).

1913  Lloyd Bridges, American actor, was born (d. 1998).

1914 Hugh Trevor-Roper, English historian, was born (d. 2003).

1919  Maurice Herzog, French mountaineer, first to ascend an 8000m peak, Annapurna in 1950, was born .

1919 – Boston Molasses Disaster: A large molasses tank in Boston burst and a wave of molasses poured through the streets, killing 21 people and injuring 150 others.

1929 Martin Luther King, Jr., American civil rights leader, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born (d. 1968).

1936 The first building to be completely covered in glass was completed in Toledo, Ohio ( built for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company).

1943 – The world’s largest office building, The Pentagon, was dedicated in Arlington, Virginia.

1966  The government of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in Nigeria was overthrown in a military coup d’état.

1969 The Soviet Union launched Soyuz 5.

1970 After a 32-month fight for independence from Nigeria, Biafra surrendered.

1970 United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew’s three-day visit to New Zealand sparked some of the most violent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations seen in this country.

 Anti-Vietnam War protestors greet US Vice President
1970 – Muammar al-Qaddafi was proclaimed premier of Libya.

1973 Citing progress in peace negotiations, President Richard Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam.

1977  The Kälvesta air disaster killed 22 people, the worst air crash in Sweden‘s history.

1986 The Living Seas opened at EPCOT Center in Walt Disney World, Florida.

1991  The United Nations’ deadline for the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from occupied Kuwait expired, preparing the way for the start of Operation Desert Storm.

1992  The international community recognised the independence of Slovenia and Croatia from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

1993  Salvatore Riina, the Mafia boss known as ‘The Beast’, was arrested in Sicily after three decades as a fugitive.

2001 Wikipedia, a free Wiki content encyclopedia, went online.

2005 – ESA’s SMART-1 lunar orbiter discovered elements including calcium, aluminum, silicon, iron, and other surface elements on the moon.

2009 US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing into the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. All passengers and crew members survived.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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