Word of the day


Cavil – find fault unnecessarily; raise petty or trivial objections; a petty or trivial objection.

Rural round-up


Bio-security thoroughly underprepared for high risk incursions – Allan Barber:

The Auditor General’s report into the current state of readiness to cope with potential high-risk threats to our biosecurity makes sobering reading. In the report Lyn Provost, the Auditor General, makes a number of recommendations for improvements, while complimenting MPI on recent progress. But the overwhelming impression is one of a disaster waiting to happen.

Beneath the carefully modulated tones of her report, which follows the public service principle of expressing any criticisms quietly, there are some worrying conclusions; the most notable being that New Zealand is not prepared for an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). It is estimated that FMD would reduce GDP by $8 billion in the first year and $13 billion by the end of year two, equivalent to more than 6% of GDP. . . .

Proactive farming – getting the wheels in motion:

Taking a proactive approach to farm business management is critical to ensure success, according to farm owner Tony Buckingham, of ‘Wainui Hills’, in the Southern Southland, who completed Rabobank’s Farm Managers Program.

Running a Perendale-Coopdale fat lamb enterprise across three properties in the Waimahaka region, Tony was seeking the opportunity to set some strategic goals for his family business to help them step things up to the next level.
Tony said the Rabobank program helped set the ‘wheels in motion’ for their business planning, motivating him to address key issues for the family business – rather than reactively.
“The program really highlights things you know in the back of your head you have to address at some stage – like succession planning – but motivates you to take a head-on approach so you’re not caught behind the eight-ball,” Tony said. . .

Farmers seeking fairness on PGP – Annette Scott:

Sheep farmers agree their industry needs new direction. As they consider options they spell out a clear message – they will settle for nothing short of a fair deal. Annette Scott talked to farmers.

Pressure is building as a farmer vote set to give the go-ahead for Beef + Lamb New Zealand to spend industry reserves on a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme moves closer.

The $65 million red-meat sector Collaboration for Sustainable Growth programme, which could turn the industry on its ear, has been marked by meat-industry players agreeing to put aside their differences and lift their game to ensure stronger co-ordination in an attempt to pick up the ailing sheep-meat industry. . .

Drought effect may be reduced – Catherine Harris:

Worsening drought in the upper North Island will slow economic growth over the next few months but the country is expected to shake off those effects later this year.

Infometrics economist Matt Nolan said parched growing conditions this summer would put a sizeable dent in the country’s milk production, but its effect would not be as bad as the drought four years ago.

This was largely because the extended sunny spell had come later, and farmers had had time to build up their feed, putting more than two-thirds of their normal production under the belt. . .

New Centre pig genes leader – Tim Cronshaw:

The newest boar stud, with some of the most sophisticated genetic collecting technology in a bio-filtered facility to ensure they are in good health, has opened in the small Canterbury township of Hororata.

The Gene Transfer Centre is set to become the largest pig semen collection and processing facility for the pork industry.

Centre facilities carry the latest semen diagnostic technology and computer-assisted analysis. . .

Wild insects better than bees:

Well publicised risks to the health of managed honeybee hives may be less of a threat to food production worldwide than a decline in wild insect pollinators, new research suggests.

Carried out around the world, including New Zealand, the latest work found wild insects were better at pollination than honeybees, raising fears that a continuing loss of wild pollinators will lead to lower agricultural yields.

The study published today and led by Lucas Garibaldi from the National University in Río Negro, Argentina looked at 41 crops from 600 field sites on six continents. The sites studied included three in this country, where onions, kiwifruit and turnip rape were being grown. . .

Milk price up, dollar follows, drought declaration extended


The trade weighted index increased by 10.4% in this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

GDT Trade Weighted Index Changes

It was the sixth increase in a row.

GDT 6.3.13

Anhydrous milk fat was up 4.9%; butter increased 9.6%; butter milk fat was up 14.3%; cheddar increased8.3%; milk protein concentrate was up 11%; rennet casein increased 1.2%; skim milk powder increased 4.6% and whole milk powder was up 18%.

The price of whole milk powder is the major determinant of the payout so it it likely Fonterra could increase the farmgate price.That would be welcome news for the economy.

It would also be good news for North Island farmers who have been drying off cows and are facing much lower production because of the drought.It’s raining in Dunedin as I type and the temperature has dropped here which indicates a southerly change.

The rain will be welcome here and is needed even more further north where the area under official drought has been extended.

A state of drought has been officially declared in the South Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay regions today by the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

The area covered includes the Auckland Council area south of the Harbour Bridge, and all of the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay Regional Council areas – including Coromandel and Taupo.

“This is recognition that farmers across the North Island are facing extremely difficult conditions, and follows on from the announcement of drought in Northland last week.

“The declaration of a medium-scale event means that extra Government funding will now be available to Rural Support Trusts. These organisations work closely with farmers, providing support and guidance in what is a very tough time.

“I realise these can be stressful times for rural families, and they need to know who to turn to for support.

“There will also be Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) available from Work and Income, through the Ministry of Social Development. These are equivalent to the unemployment benefit and are available to those in extreme hardship.

“This decision has been made after consultation with the communities affected, and an assessment from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“The entire North Island is dry, and I am keeping a close eye on other parts of the East Coast, as well as Wairarapa, Manawatu and Taranaki. Farmers badly need some rainfall during March and April to help prepare for the winter and set up for next spring.

“It’s important to note that support is available from Government agencies in all regions, even without a drought declaration. Farmers should contact IRD if they need help or flexibility with making tax payments, and standard hardship assistance is available from Work and Income.

“It’s great to see that banks are offering flexible finance options in these tough times as well.

“The conditions are also creating challenges for lifestyle block owners, and we urge them to take action early,” says Mr Guy.

Exporters were hoping the drought might help bring the dollar down a bit but it was back up over 83 cents this morning.

Streamlining RMA


The RMA discussion document released by Environment Minister Amy Adams last week proposes some much-needed initiatives to streamline the RMA process.

The reforms within the package are divided into six core objectives:

  • Greater national consistency and guidance
  • Fewer, better resource management plans
  • An effective and efficient consenting system
  • Better natural hazard management
  • Effective and meaningful Māori participation; and
  • Working with councils to improve their RMA service performance

Improvements to the RMA are one of the planks in the Government’s business growth agenda.

Speaking at the launch the Minister said:

We see effective resource management as critically important to New Zealand’s economic, environmental and social well-being.

Resource management decisions need to ensure that our natural and built resources are used and protected in a way that meet our needs now and for many generations to come.

But the Government continues to hear concerns that resource management processes are cumbersome, costly and time-consuming, and that the system is uncertain, difficult to predict and highly litigious.

Repeatedly, resource management matters rank the lowest of all public services in the Kiwis Count report into customer satisfaction.

The system is difficult for many to understand and use, and in many cases, is actively discouraging investment and innovation.

Frustration with RMA processes is rife and time and time again I hear that they are failing to meet New Zealanders’ expectations.

To put it bluntly, there are too many occasions where the view of one well-funded party manages to derail the decision of a community.

There are too many times when planning happens almost by default as decisions are fought over on a consent-by-consent basis, and too many occasions where inconsistency between multiple plans eats up resources as councils battle between themselves.

In most cases, the issue is not about the decision ultimately reached, it is about the wastage of time and money to get to that decision.

And let’s not kid ourselves that that does not come with real costs – delays and uncertainties means potential new jobs are not being created, houses are more expensive and communities have no idea what to expect in their neighbourhoods.

The money spent on having to fight to get ahead or to defend your position is money that our households and businesses are missing out on.

We see the same arguments being had time and again, with the same lawyers, the same experts and in front of the same judges.

Across the country we have required each of our 78 councils to build their own planning systems from the ground up.

There are a number of underlying efficiency and effectiveness-related problems apparent with the resource management system that have led to this state of affairs.

These problems are by their very nature interlinked and it is their combined, rather than individual impact, that is of most concern.

To me the core issues include:

  • Too many planning documents with wide ranging inconsistency between them
  • Inefficient duplication of effort in developing plans
  • A lack of responsive national guidance on matters of national importance or where the value of consistency outweighs the need for local variation
  • Insufficient attention paid to meeting future needs as opposed to mitigating negative impacts in plans
  • An over-reliance on consents and Environment Court appeals; and
  • High and disproportionate costs of securing and complying with decisions

She then gave a couple of examples of the costs and frustrations with existing legislation:

Many of you here this morning will remember Project Hayes – Meridian Energy’s wind farm proposal. I am not focusing on whether it was a good proposal or not. I want to look just at the process.

It was a $2 billion project, and by the time it was eventually refused by the Environment Court after three years, nearly $9 million had been spent to get to that point.

And that $9 million estimate was just the applicant’s costs. No doubt, there would have been many hundreds of thousands of dollars in community and submitter costs.

The Environment Court made a point in its judgment of criticising the fact that if it were not for the inconsistent and unclear nature of the local plans, much of that cost could have been avoided.

To give an example at the other end of the scale, I am aware of a homeowner who merely wanted to add 4sqm to an existing deck and found that the consenting costs would be $7000.

It is also clear that we have drifted into much over-regulation in RMA planning documents.

For example, I have had reports of rules that stipulate lounge rooms in houses must face the street, heritage zone provisions that apply to a 14 year old Lockwood house, and streetscape rules applied to houses on rear lots, not visible from the street.

And just this week, I was made aware of a council that wanted to dictate the size of the front windows of new houses.

Is this really what sustainable management of our resources is about?

We cannot continue with this approach. We can and must do better.

The RMA has its good points but it needs a tune-up to ensure a fair balance between environmental, social and economic considerations, lower costs, improved consistency and faster processing.

Private investors are ordinary Kiwis


My father arrived in New Zealand in the 1930s with almost nothing.

He was hoping for a better life here than he was able to have in Scotland and he got it.

When he returned after active service with the 20th Battalion during World War II he got a rehab. apprenticeship as a carpenter and spent the rest of his working life in that trade.

My mother was a nurse but, as most women did in those days, she gave up her profession when she married.

There wasn’t much to spare from a single income with three children to raise but Mum and Dad saved what they could and invested when able. By the time they retired they had a mortgage-free home and a small nest egg which gave them a bit more security and a few more choices than they would have had if they had nothing more than their pensions.

They were ordinary Kiwis who had worked and saved and were able to enjoy the fruits of that in their retirement.

The Labour Party doesn’t appear to recognise people like this.

Leader David Shearer reckons the partial float of Mighty River Power is another win for private investors over ordinary Kiwis.

Silly man, many private investors are ordinary Kiwis like my parents.

They’re the ones who work hard, save what they can and are looking for good investments.

No shareholding comes with a cast-iron guarantee but utility companies like MRP are usually good, safe, long-term, investments for ordinary Kiwis who are able and prepared to save and invest.



“There’s fit, there’s really fit and there’s FFL,” she said.

“FFL?” he queried.

“Fit for Life – it’s fit enough to do what you want and need to do and enjoy doing it,” she said.

“Though sometimes I find there’s more enjoyment in the contemplation before or reflection after than in the actual doing.”

March 6 in history


1454 Thirteen Years’ War: Delegates of the Prussian Confederation pledged allegiance to King Casimir IV of Poland who agreed to commit his forces in aiding the Confederation’s struggle for independence from the Teutonic Knights.

1475 Michelangelo, Italian artist, was born (d. 1564).

1521 Ferdinand Magellan arrived at Guam.

1788 The First Fleet arrived at Norfolk Island in order to found a convict settlement.

1806 Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was born (d. 1861).

1820 The Missouri Compromise was signed into law by President James Monroe  allowing Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, but made the rest of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase territory slavery-free.

1836 Battle of the Alamo – After a thirteen day siege by an army of 3,000 Mexican troops, the 187 Texas volunteers defending the Alamo were defeated and the fort was captured.

1853 Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera La Traviata receives its premiere performance in Venice.

1857 – Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants—whether or not they were slaves—were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States..

1869 Dmitri Mendeleev presented the first periodic table to the Russian Chemical Society.

1899 Bayer registered aspirin as a trademark.

1917 Frankie Howerd, English comedian, was born (d. 1992).

1921 Portuguese Communist Party was founded as the Portuguese Section of the Communist International.

1926 Alan Greenspan, American economist, 13th Chairman of the Federal Reserve, was born.

1927 Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian writer, Nobel Prize laureate, was born.

1944  Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealander singer, was born.

1944  Mary Wilson, American singer (The Supremes), was born.

1946 David Gilmour, British musician (Pink Floyd), was born.

1947  Kiki Dee, British singer, was born.

1947 Dick Fosbury, American athlete, was born.

1945 Communist-dominated government under Petru Groza assumed power in Romania.

1945 Cologne was captured by American Troops.

1946  Ho Chi Minh signed an agreement with France which recognizes Vietnam as an autonomous state in the Indochinese Federation and the French Union.

1947 The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra made its debut performance – opening the concert in Wellington’s Town Hall with God Save The King the performing selections from Dvorak, Brahms, Butterworth, Enesco, Wagner and Richard Strauss.

Debut performance of NZ Symphony Orchestra

1951 – The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for conspiracy to commit espionage in the USA began.

1953 Georgy Maksimilianovich Malenkov succeeded Joseph Stalin as Premier of the Soviet Union and First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1957 British colonies Gold Coast and British Togoland became the independent Republic of Ghana.

1964 Nation of Islam’s Elijah Muhammad officially gave boxing champion Cassius Clay the name Muhammad Ali.

1964 Constantine II became King of Greece.

1967  Joseph Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva defected to the United States.

1975 For the first time, ever, the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination was shown in motion to a national TV audience by Robert J. Groden and Dick Gregory.

1975 – Algiers Accord: Iran and Iraq announce a settlement of their border dispute.

1981 After 19 years of presenting the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite signed off for the last time.

1983 The first United States Football League game was played.

1987 The British ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise capsized in about 90 seconds killing 193. 

1988 Three Provisional Irish Republican Army terrorists are killed by Special Air Service in  Gibraltar in the conclusion of Operation Flavius.

1992 Michelangelo computer virus began to affect computers.

2006 South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed legislation banning most abortions in the state.

2008 A Palestinian gunman shot and killed 8 students and critically injured 11 in the library of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, in Jerusalem.

2009 – US stock markets made an historic “generational low”, with the S&P 500 index reaching an intraday low of 666.79, a level not seen in over 12 years.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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