Word of the day


Contumacious – obstinately, stubbornly or willfully disobedient; rebellious; insubordinate.

Punctuation marks & business cards


Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

13 little known punctuation marks we should be using at Mental Floss.

Some of them could be very useful but I can’t work out how to do them on a keyboard.


Business cards of 20 famous people.


Rural round-up


ECann Rakaia River recommendation accepted:

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Government has accepted Environment Canterbury’s recommendation to change the water conservation order that covers the Rakaia River.

The change will allow TrustPower to release water from Lake Coleridge for irrigation when the river is low, increasing the reliability of the water supply.

“Environment Canterbury’s report and recommendation is a good example of both environmental considerations and the needs of the farming community being taken into account,” Mr Brownlee says. . .

Why wash clean linen in public – Alan Emerson:

Farming is certainly in the mainstream media. 

Most outlets are covering the DCD saga and they weren’t helped by some woolly statements from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Fonterra.

I thought the two fertiliser co-operatives, Ballance and Ravensdown, handled the issue well, with their media releases being factual and unemotive. Both withdrew their DCD product and that, in my opinion, should have been the end of the story.

The issue is simple – DCD is safe. It has been around since the 1920s and used in its current form since 1981 and that is the problem.

Because it isn’t a new product but an adaption of an existing chemical, it is not classified under the international Codex Alimentarium. For that reason there is no minimum or maximum allowable level.

The problem is technical and procedural – it is not a chemical or health issue. Googling DCD you can identify all the many countries using it. You can also read glowing references about the product’s ability to increase yields in tomatoes, wheat, barley, rice and grass. . .

Lessons learned on managing perception – Alan Williams:

THE DCD issue has thrown up some lessons on how to manage market perceptions when the debate gets away from the science, Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director general (Standards) Carol Barnao says.

MPI’s risk assessment team discovered quickly there were no food safety concerns from traces of DCD found in whole milk powder, but the time taken for action was seen by some people as too slow and the presence of an unexpected compound was linked with tainted food in some markets.

More than three months passed between Fonterra’s product testing and the withdrawal from the market of the fertilisers containing DCD.

If there had been food safety concerns action would have happened much sooner, Barnao said.

Working groups were set up as soon as MPI was alerted in early November but it took time to complete the testing methodology and the why, when, and how of what happened, she said. . .

Happy to break new ground – Hannah Lynch:

Primary industries might be getting a new minister, but it’s in the associate role where a woman will be getting to make a mark for the first time. Hannah Lynch reports from Parliament.

The first woman appointed to a ministerial role in agriculture is not afraid of bringing a touch of femininity to the job, revealing she wears high-heeled boots on the family farm. 

Jo Goodhew has just been made Associate Primary Industries Minister in a Cabinet reshuffle that elevated the previous associate, Nathan Guy, into the main role.

“It is exciting but it is part of the general trend we are seeing where women who have the right skills are doing anything,” Goodhew said. 

“Women are going into roles that were previously held by men but now it’s just recognition that if you have got the skills it doesn’t matter what gender you are.”  . . .

MyFarm expanding to sheep and beef farms – Hugh Stringleman:

MyFarm intends to use its farm ownership syndication model for sheep and beef farms as well as dairy farms.

It put together one sheep and beef farm syndicate in 2010, for Kaiangaroa farm east of Taihape, and during this year will offer several more.

MyFarm director Andrew Watters would not specify the locations but gave parameters for the suitable properties and regions.

They would be mainly sheep-breeding and lamb-finishing properties, with beef cattle only additional. . .

Farmers Preparing to Steak Their Claim :

Farmers across the country are selecting their entries for the 2013 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin.

The competition to find the country’s most tender and tasty steak is entering its 11th year and is keenly contested nationwide.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion, says the competition is taken very seriously and winning has become a badge of honour.

“The Steak of Origin rewards farmers for their efforts and showcases the skill in the New Zealand beef farming industry,” says Champion. . .

Freshman Sire Highlights Final Day of Karaka 2013:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2013 National Yearling Sales Series has drawn to a close today at Karaka with the final 212 yearlings of the Festival Sale concluding a bumper seven days of selling that has seen a total of 1021 lots traded for $72,387,700.

For the third day in a row Westbury Stud’s first season sire Swiss Ace (Secret Savings) provided the top price of the day, this time it was the colt at Lot 1353 from the four-time winning Stravinsky mare Poetic Music bought by Rogerson Bloodstock for $95,000.
1353 web
Top lot of the day the Swiss Ace colt (Lot 1353) purchased by Rogerson Bloodstock for $95,000

“He was the nicest horse here today and he proved that because he was the top lot of the day.


Summer’s gone


Yesterday’s 15 mls of rain was very welcome but I’m not so keen on the change of temperature that’s come in its wake.

We’d been enjoying temperatures approaching 30ish for nearly a fortnight.

Today unless the chill wind drops and the clouds disappear we’ll be lucky to get to half that.

So God made a farmer


Each year the ads which play during the Superbowl generate as much interest as the game.

This has to be one of the better ones.

Update: CoNZervative has some background on Paul Harvey who does the commentary.

Too much good land lost to lifestyle


Landcare scientist John Dymond says too much high-value agricultural land is being lost to lifestyle blocks.

He’s called for urgent action and national monitoring of rural land fragmentation.

He also wants a national policy statement to prioritise NZ’s best agricultural land for productive uses.

“This is one case where short-term market conditions favour outcomes that are unlikely to be in the nation’s long-term interest,” he said.

In research published recently in the journal of the Royal Society he said in some areas the rate of subdivision of high-class land was very high. Already lifestyle blocks covered 35% of Auckland’s best agricultural land.

There was no reason to expect the demand for rural subdivisions to subside but NZ’s best agricultural land was valuable, limited and a non-renewable resource, he said.

Lifestyle blocks make up 5% of NZ’s non-reserved land and 10% of all high-class land.

Lifestyle block developments had far outstripped loss of land through urbanisation in recent years, he said.

“Fully one-tenth of NZ’s most productive agricultural land has already been converted to lifestyle sections and this has increased rapidly in the last 10 years.” . . .

Real Estate agents love lifestyle blocks because they tend to turn over regularly.

People move out with rosy dreams of a rural lifestyle but soon get sick of the demands the care of their few hectares put on them and the time wasted commuting to work, school, sports and social activities.

Planning rules in some areas aim to retain the rural character by requiring subdivisions to be bigger than the 1000ish or 500ish square metres (quarter and eight of an acre in old money) sections allowed in urban centres.

That tends to turn once productive land into a series of over-grown gardens or pony paddocks.

Three surveys in Western Bay of Plenty between 1996 and 2005 showed up to two-thirds of properties less than 4ha and up to 82% of those less than 1.5ha were not being used for productive purposes.

On only 29% of lots did production increase and these tended to be between three and 8ha in size. . .

Unless the owners have very green figures with a horticultural bent, most lifestyle blocks aren’t nearly as productive as bigger blocks and even if they are they don’t have the economies of scale.

It might be better to allow smaller sections and high density developments on less productive land and keep better land in economic units.

However, when land supply is one of the major factors influencing high prices for houses, the suggestion of restricting the subdivision of productive land on the outskirts of cities wouldn’t be popular.

Sharpish in places


TVNZ promised lots in the promos for  Seven Sharp.

They delivered three presenters who managed to keep up traction without falling over each other’s lines, which isn’t easy to do.

The first segment took us to the PM in his office and a behind the parliamentary scenes tour led by Paula Bennett. It moved so quickly it had a strobe effect which was a bit off-putting.

I’m a political tragic and a fan of both MPs but I guess this would have wider appeal. Anyone who thought the PM had a glamorous life would have had their illusions shattered by his tale of dinners of cold baked beans from the can.

The dig at the three Labour David’s was witty enough- though people without my blue bias might not have enjoyed the ghost of leader-past as much as I did.

A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious issue and one worth covering but something distracted me minutes into the interview and by the time I tuned back it was over.

Viewer suggestions and a poll on who should escort the PM onto the marae at Waitangi was supposed to be funny but felt a bit too try-hard for feedback.

The programme ended with an interview with a singer who gave me the impression he was a pleasant bloke. His name escapes me – which could be an indication I’m not the target audience.

The promos promised more than the first show delivered – it might be Seven Sharp but it was more just sharpish in places.

However, it’s is going to be filming live in Oamaru on Wednesday when the Scott 100 celebrations  get underway so I’ll reserve judgement and give it points in advance for getting out of Auckland and Wellington.

Not really the last


“Living each day as if it’s your last is all very well in theory,” she said.

“But I find the knowledge that, God willing, it really isn’t and if I make a mess I’ll have to clean it up tomorrow tends to holds me back in practice.”

February 5 in history


1649 The claimant King Charles II of England and Scotland was declared King of Scotland.

1725 James Otis, American lawyer and patriot, was born (d. 1783).

1778  South Carolina was the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

1782 Spanish defeat British forces and capture Minorca.

1783 In Calabria, Italy, a sequence of strong earthquakes started.

1788 Robert Peel, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1850).

1818 Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte ascended to the thrones of Sweden and Norway.

1840 John Boyd Dunlop, Scottish inventor, was born (d. 1921).

1840 Hiram Stevens Maxim, American inventor (Maxim gun), was born (d. 1916).

1859 – Wallachia and Moldavia were united under Alexander John Cuza as the United Principalities.

1878 André Citroën, French automobile pioneer, was born  (d. 1935).

1885 – King Léopold II of Belgium established the Congo as a personal possession.

1867 New Zealand’s third public railway, the 27-kilometre line between Invercargill and the port at Bluff, built by the Southland Provincial Council, opened.

Opening of railway from Invercargill to Bluff

1900 The United States and the United Kingdom signed a treaty for the Panama Canal.

1908 – Daisy and Violet Hilton, British conjoined twins, were born  (d. 1969).

1911 – Pioneering aviator Vivian Walsh made the first controlled powered flight in New Zealand.

1917 The current constitution of Mexico was adopted, establishing a federal republic with powers separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

1917 – The Congress of the United States passed the Immigration Act of 1917 over President Woodrow Wilson‘s veto. Also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act, it forbade immigration from nearly all of south and southeast Asia.

1918 Stephen W. Thompson shot down a German airplane, the first aerial victory by the U.S. military.

1919 Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith launched United Artists.

1920  Frank Muir, British comedian, was born (d. 1998).

1924 The Royal Greenwich Observatory begins broadcasting the hourly time signals known as the Greenwich Time Signal or the “BBC pips”.

1942 Cory Wells, American singer (Three Dog Night), was born.

1946 The Chondoist Chongu Party was founded in North Korea.

1958 Gamel Abdel Nasser was nominated to be the first president of the United Arab Republic.

1958 – A hydrogen bomb known as the Tybee Bomb was lost by the US Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, never to be recovered.

1962 President Charles De Gaulle called for Algeria to be granted independence.

1964 Duff McKagan, American musician (Guns N’ Roses), was born.

1972 Bob Douglas became the first African American elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

1972 Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, was born.

1994  More than 60 people were killed and some 200 wounded when a mortar shell hit a downtown marketplace in Sarajevo.

1997 – The “Big Three”  banks in Switzerland announced the creation of a $71 million fund to aid Holocaust survivors and their families.

2004 Twenty-three Chinese people drowned when a group of 35 cockle-pickers was trapped by rising tides in Morecambe Bay, England. .

2004 – Rebels from the Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front captured the city of Gonaïves, starting the 2004 Haiti rebellion.

2008 – A major tornado outbreak across the Southern United States left 57 dead.

2009 The United States Navy guided missile cruiser Port Royal ran aground off Oahu, Hawaii, damaging the ship and a coral reef.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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