Summer like it used to be

Were summers really hotter in the 1960s and 70s?

Memory isn’t always reliable but when I look back I recall day after day of sunny weather.

Almost every weekend from Labour weekend to Easter my family would pack a picnic and head to water. Sometimes it was All Day Bay, but more often we went to the river – Gemmell’s Crossing or Clifton Falls.

Sometimes we’d have a mid-week bonus trip too, taking a picnic dinner to the river when Dad got home from work.

The last couple of weeks have been just like that.

met service jan 13

It’s great harvest weather but, as always one farmer’s dream is another’s nightmare, and many are facing drought.

while nothing beats water from the sky, irrigation ensures the grass grows when the weather doesn’t co-operate.

That is a major change from when I was growing up.

Then dry weather left the countryside parched and farmers with few options but to de-stock.

Now, thanks to extensive irrigation a good deal of North Otago is still green and growing.

57 Responses to Summer like it used to be

  1. Viv says:

    Did you play and swim in the river at Gemmell’s crossing back then Ele? Would you be happy to let kids go in the water there now?


  2. homepaddock says:

    Yes and yes – it’s the Kakanui River which supplies our drinking water.


  3. Cadwallader says:

    I remember visiting Gemmell’s Crossing in January 1970 with an erstwhile girlfriend.Lovely afternoon and evening. Where is Clifton Falls? Another advantage of irrigation is that you can at certain places swim in the races. There are some good spots for this near Timaru Airport at Levels.


  4. pdm says:

    The Ruataniwha Plains and surrounding areas in Central Hawkes Bay had a water race system for which water was sourced from the Tukituki and Waipawa Rivers. The Regional Council canned it in the early 1980’s (guesssing when it was canned) and I could never understand why. Infact I still cannot understand the logic for getting rid of it.


  5. homepaddock says:

    Clifton Falls is further up the Kakanui River, above Five Forks.


  6. JC says:

    “Were summers really hotter in the 1960s and 70s?”

    Not overall because we were in the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that lasted 1940-77. However El Nino pops up in the record quite frequently enough in the late 50s, mid 60s and early 70s to give us those hot days and droughty weather that stick in the mind decades later.

    Thinking back I find I have snapshots of weather when I was a kid and the warm dry summers I recall do seem to line up with the El Nino pattern.



  7. Viv says:

    Pleased to hear that, as the ORC report on the Kakanui river was not good. One thing that apparently helped to clean up the Thames in England was to make people\businesses have their water intake downstream of their discharge point. Most of us already consider neighbours and those downstream, but if the non compliant had to take their own house and stock water out below their run off, maybe they would get on to cleaning up their act.


  8. TraceyS says:

    That would just be so impractical in NZ, not to mention expensive! A good example of why environmentalists should not be making the decisions. All care and no responsibility.


  9. Was at Gemmells crossing for summer in 2009. Some very hot days.


  10. Viv says:

    Why would making water intakes downstream of outflows so impractical? Is everyone’s intake gravity fed, don’t many or most river water users pump to their supply tanks? You are going to make sure the water leaving your property is clean if you are the next user.


  11. homepaddock says:

    There’s been a lot of work done since the ORC report – should be public soon.


  12. TraceyS says:

    Oh I don’t know Viv, maybe the size of farms, extra distance to pump the water, extra piping, electricity etc. What might be practical on the Thames isn’t going to work here, even if the philosophy is a good one. And another thing – discharge point? That might be a defined entry point for an industrial or domestic situation. But farms don’t necessarily have defined discharge point.


  13. Viv says:

    Thank you for acknowledging that the philosophy behind the idea might be a good one. Your earlier comment that environmentalists shouldn’t be able to make decisions did have me wondering if you had given up discussing actual ideas. Ele’s post was about enjoying summer days, let’s all make the most of this one before the forecast, and much needed, rain arrives.


  14. TraceyS says:

    No I haven’t given up discussing actual ideas Viv. To add to my earlier comment, environmentalists should be encouraged to take responsibility for the wider issues, often involving economics and other practicalities. Farmers and other land-users must unavoidably take responsibility for the wider issues of environment whilst retaining responsibility for the practical side. Until those who tout change can front up to ALL the downstream impacts, wheel-spinning and inefficiency in solving environmental problems will continue to hinder real progress.


  15. Viv says:

    ‘those who tout change’ should have to face up to downstream effects. I think you’ll find it’s the mining companies, developers, dairy farm converters etc who are touting change, not the environmentalists.


  16. TraceyS says:

    Are you referring to RMA changes Viv?


  17. Viv K says:

    I would have mentioned the RMA changes if that was what I was referring to.
    You said “Until those who tout change can front up to ALL the downstream impacts”. I was pointing out that most ‘change’ is touted by developers etc and not environmentalists.
    The economy is a subset of the environment, if the rivers are polluted, the climate changed and the oceans acidified then the economy will suffer and you won’t get ‘progress’.


  18. TraceyS says:

    “The economy is a subset of the environment”. It’s not as simple as that. The economy IS an environment. I prefer to think of them as two overlapping systems rather than the economy being a ‘subset’ of the physical environment.

    I don’t agree that developers etc are those touting most change. Take the ORC 6A water plan hearings where many environmentalists were advocating more extensive changes than those proposed.


  19. robertguyton says:

    ““The economy is a subset of the environment”. It’s not as simple as that. The economy IS an environment.”

    Oh, Lord, preserve us from this sort of logic.
    A sealed jar of jam is an environment too. Does that ‘overlap’ with the economy also?



  20. TraceyS says:

    What a quick response Robert. Good to see I have you fired up again!

    “preserve”, “jam” – are you at home bottling some of your summer fruit? Take care not to get some sticky sugar on your keyboard. An economy will be required to provide your next one …


  21. Mr E says:

    Good one Tracey. Viv I can see you like to beat a clean river drum in blogs but I would recommend listening to Tracey here. Her logic is sound.
    I tend to Agree with Ele. Perhaps my memory fails me but I remember weather that is similar to current patterns. Perhaps it is human nature to remember the sunny times over the rainy days?


  22. Viv says:

    The man made economy exists within the physical environment, whether you think so or not. As for 6A water plan changes, I made a submission in favour of them. Environmentalists want to change rivers back into things that have clean water left in them when they reach the sea. I have heard farmers claim that water reaching the sea is a ‘wasted resource’!


  23. Mr E says:

    Viv, I hope you understand our rivers are polluted before they leave the native bush. About 75% are polluted with Ecoli before they leave the bush. Some might say full of shhh….. Not to mention other pollutants. At least that is what NIWA reports. Should we remove the native forests so we can swim in rivers?


  24. TraceyS says:

    The economic environment is no less real than the natural one. Two systems that are intertwined but somewhat independent of one another. Both systems are very important and neither should be ignored or relegated to a ‘subset’.

    We see them interacting in places like the housing market.

    If we still lived in caves and wore animal skins I’d agree with you. However, if that were so, I would not be having this conversation with you in this way…


  25. TraceyS says:

    I think you misunderstand what is meant by ‘wasted resource’. This does not mean that people who can see opportunities for water before it reaches the sea also think it is alright to pollute it and don’t care what state the water is in upon reaching the sea. Making use of resources is not equal to exploitation of them.


  26. Viv K says:

    Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria live in the guts of mammals and birds, maybe they come from possums? They certainly don’t come from trees!
    There is some work being done to distinguish e. coli from humans and that from cows- that will help sort out where pollution sources come from, so that appropriate solutions can be found.


  27. TraceyS says:

    Where do the birds generally hang out?


  28. Mr E says:

    The research by NIWA specifically spelled out that significant effort was put into classing rivers that were only affected by land class. “a set of rules was established to assign river segments to single classes in a consistent way”.
    In other words you cant blame the farmers for that. Perhaps your pristine is not so pristine? If you do find out mamals are to blame, do you curse rodents, wild deer, wild pigs or wild opossums? I can imagine DOC fencing them out of waterways….


  29. Viv says:

    NIWA says ‘There is no doubt that our declining water quality over the last 20 years is associated with the intensification of pastoral farming and the conversion of drystock farming to dairy farming particuarly in Waikato, Southland and Canterbury’ It’s not about native forests or gorse, or whatever the latest excuse is, it’s about a 60% increase in land area used for dairying in 20 years, and an increase in numbers of cows per hectare and an increase in fertiliser use. Why on earth do some people think that you can increase these things and not have an effect? Before some people get all fired up, presuming I’m suggesting we ban farming, I’m not, but before you can solve a problem, you have to admit there is one. Seems that some of you are in denial over this one.


  30. TraceyS says:

    I wonder if you, Viv, are in denial that these effects can be appropriately mitigated given co-operation, investment, innovation, and most importantly, time.

    Farmers lives are clearly not the easiest – look at those shocking suicide figures recently on the news. All interested parties need to recognise the problems. But the problems are not just environmental, they are also economic.


  31. Viv says:

    Well the effects on water pollution haven’t been mitigated yet and claiming that they’ll be dealt with ‘in time’ does not justify further expansion of dairying. As for suicide, I am shocked and stunned that you think that is somehow part of your arguement against my comment about increased dairying being linked to river pollution. Suicide is a big, tragic problem in this country, I have lost 2 people I loved dearly to it, no they weren’t farmers, but other people have stresses and problems to deal with too. How dare you try to use emotional blackmail techniques like that.


  32. TraceyS says:

    It is reasonable to wonder why, in the rural area, these figures are 1.5 times that of urban areas. Such high numbers are saddening and deeply concerning. You have mistaken my personal concern for “emotional blackmail”, which I find mildly offensive.

    “Depression comes about through all sorts of things; through droughts, financial pressure, animal health problems,” Hunt said. (see: Through environmental concerns and pressures also. And there I speak from personal experience.

    You might suggest that’s an easy problem to solve; eg. just scale back your intensity, diversify your farm, go organic, establish reserves etc. My aim was to point out that it’s not quite that simple. But it is always easy for people to call for these things from the side-lines without really understanding what is entailed.


  33. Viv says:

    Well I found your comment that asking some farmers not to pollute waterways might cause some to take their own lives highly offensive!


  34. Mr E says:

    So you want to talk about trends rather than comparables. Here in Southland most of the so called pollutants have been declining according to ES. All this occurred while dairying increased in the region by 10% per annum (until recently). I wonder if we can thank dairy farmers for that? What do you think Viv, credit where credit is due?

    Now that i have said that I have concerns about nitrates in waterways. But to debate it in a ‘summer weather’ blog seems unfair to those wanting to talk about summer weather. It is a highjack and not viewed favorably by me. I think if you want a water quality debate you write your own blog on it or send an email to Ele requesting one. There I will be happy to comment on my concerns and potential solutions.


  35. TraceyS says:

    The news item I referenced drew a link, among other factors, between financial pressure and depression in rural areas. Most people would accept a connection between depression and suicide. Life on the land is clearly not as hunky-dory as some might believe. You are deluded if you think environmental issues don’t generate financial and other kinds of pressure for land-users of all kinds, not just farmers.


  36. robertguyton says:

    “You are deluded if you think environmental issues don’t generate financial and other kinds of pressure for land-users of all kinds, not just farmers.”

    You are deluded if you think environmental degradation doesn’t generate financial and other kinds of pressures for everyone living on the planet.


  37. TraceyS says:

    Has a certain amount of environmental degradation not also benefitted everyone on the planet at some level?

    Cities degrade the environment. But they also benefit people.


  38. robertguyton says:

    Has a certain amount of environmental degradation not also harmed every other living organism on the planet at some level?


  39. robertguyton says:

    Napalm degrades the environment. But it also benefits people.



  40. Viv says:

    No hijack Mr E, Ele wrote about summer picnics by the river (and All Day Bay), I asked her about the river then and now, the comment thread went from there, as comments often do. I will be interested to find out more about this improvement in Southland water quality you mention, where can one access the scientific reports on it?


  41. robertguyton says:

    Why, on the website of the regional council, Environment Southland, naturally. Seek out their “State of the Environmet” report on water. Great reading.


  42. TraceyS says:

    Beyond repair? No.


  43. robertguyton says:

    Gonna bring back the huia, are ya?


  44. TraceyS says:

    Oh you are so predictable. That is your weakness. Extinctions were part of the natural course long before humans came along. Why did you not use Moa as an example?


  45. robertguyton says:

    Because I wanted your response to the huia extinction, which I see you have dodged. Why’s that?


  46. Mr E says:

    No Hijack? Your opinion Viv, one I don’t share.
    In order to shorten the discussion, Robert’s direction is good. That is where you will find the State of the Environmet report.

    Scientific? Let me ask you, reports that influence funding that are created by a government department, are they scientific? I question the independance of this report, and indepedance is at the heart of science. I also believe science should use qualified, independant statisticians. Whilst claims of peer reviewing can be made, I am a peer and concerned. I reference is because I can. If you want another reference the NIWA report I referred to also says.
    “Water quality state in the pastoral class is not statistically different from the urban class”
    “The pastoral class dominated the trend data set with 72% of the monitoring sites, and it is possible that changes in pastoral land uses are responsible for the trends that occured at both the class scale and the national scale.. We suggest below that this is not so; our argument is based on recent trend analysis of NRWQN data that examind the influence of the EL Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENO) climate system on water quality in New Zealand (Scarsbrook et al. in press)”

    Interesting that this is the same NIWA that you refer to saying the opposite.


  47. TraceyS says:

    You asked; “Has a certain amount of environmental degradation not also harmed every other living organism on the planet at some level?”.

    And I replied; “Beyond repair? No”.

    Environmental degradation has not damaged, “EVERY other living organisim” beyond repair.


  48. Viv K says:

    ‘to shorten the discussion’- but you ask questions that would require an essay to answer. You question the independence of government funded reports and whether they are scientific or not. Tracey wants to compare and contrast ecological effects against economic benefits in urban and non urban environments, the effects of economic stress on psychological health in rural populations and now how human economic development impacts on all living species.
    Can’t do that 1 or 2 paragraphs guys.


  49. robertguyton says:

    Hair-splitting pedant!
    What about the huia?


  50. robertguyton says:

    “Scientific? Let me ask you, reports that influence funding that are created by a government department, are they scientific?”

    Ha ha ha ha! Mr E, you conspiracy theorist, you! Scientists compiled those reports and they were peer reviewed by several undeniably reputable scientific agencies. The Feds had a go at attacking them with their own ‘tame’ scientist, but that effort was ‘found to be lacking’. Are they scientific! What a hoot! You sound like a climate-change denier, “The science is wrong! I read it in Investigate magazine!!!”
    Gaia preserve us!


  51. TraceyS says:

    For anyone interested, this is a good read if you have the time,

    Quoting from the article…

    “We contend that there is a disturbing and largely unreported trend among influential progressive activists who misinterpret, misrepresent and abuse science to advance their ideological and political agendas.

    Of all of today’s political philosophies, progressivism stands as the most pressing problem for science. Progressives, not conservatives, are the ones most likely to replace scientific research with unscientific ideology.

    Conservatives who endorse unscientific ideas are blasted by the scientific community, yet progressives who do the same get a free pass. It is important the problem be recognised, and that free pass revoked.”


  52. TraceyS says:

    Goodness! You consider that pedantic hair-splitting? I was merely pointing out the radical overgeneralisation you made.


  53. robertguyton says:

    What about the huia?


  54. Mr E says:

    At the heart of any scientific document is the concept of minimised bias. In my opinion your reports fails this fundamental. It has not been produced by an independent organisation.
    Thank you for pointing out that the Feds also share my concern. As I am not the only one to have this concern, it strengthens my argument.
    Recent media reports have described dishonesty, deception and job loss within ES. In your own words your chairperson “cannot be trusted”. Based on this evidence I would suggest my questions cannot be discounted despite your conspiracy claims.

    Oh and by the way. I have never denied climate change. Today is warmer than yesterday.


  55. robertguyton says:

    The claims that the State of the Environment science was wrong have been tested and found wrong. Leave it out, Mr E. You are just bellyaching.


  56. Mr E says:

    Different claims to mine Robert. I claim a fundamental flaw. Surely you can’t deny that all atempts to remove bias have not been taken. Can you?

    My belly is fine. If not a little big, but certainly not aching.


  57. Mr E says:

    Please you know to quit while you are ahead.


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