Word of the day


Meretricious – apparently attractive but having in reality no value or integrity; attracting attention in a vulgar manner; tawdry; alluring by a show of flashy or vulgar attractions; based on pretence, deception, or insincerity; having the nature of prostitution.

Writing for nothing


A journalism website pointed me to this advertisement seeking rural writers and artists:

The Rural Logo
Organisation/person name: 

The Rural

Work type: 


Work classification: 

Writer – Feature Writer

Job description: 

From gumboots to growing veg, The Rural is the lifestyle website for New Zealand’s rural community. 

Going live next month, we are looking for writers to regularly submit articles for features and to respond to news events.

Example topics: Farming, equine, hunting, fishing, DIY, recipes, sustainable living, organic farming, home grown food, pets.

We are also interested in talking to photographers wanting to submit their photos for use, and to illustrators interested in creating funny cartoons about NZ’s rural life.

All of which sounds interesting until you get to this:

These are unpaid positions, perfect for those looking to build up a portfolio.

Samuel Johnson said  no man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.

The world has many blockheads and if some of them choose to contribute to the website, they are free to do so.

Some may find the thrill of their words in print is sufficient reward.

But let’s not confuse writing for fun with a job, especially if other people are making money from the site because of the contributions of the unpaid scribes and photographers.

Rural crime and safety survey


Rural Women NZ has a survey on rural crime and safety:

Rural Women New Zealand has today launched a rural survey on crime and safety that is aimed at making rural communities safer places to live. 

“The online survey goes live today, and we are hoping for a wide response from all sectors of the rural community,” says Rural Women NZ executive officer, Noeline Holt. 
“You may have already taken part in a recent survey around crime occurring on your farming properties. However, the focus of this survey is broader and we urge you to take part.”
We have worked with Crimestoppers and the Police to develop questions that cover a range of issues including theft, drink driving and speeding as well as violence to people or animals.” 
“The survey will help us understand how people feel about crime and safety ,” Ms Holt said. The survey also seeks people’s views on police responsiveness and involvement in rural communities. 
“Given the nature of small rural communities, we believe there are occasions when people are hesitant to contact the police, and for that reason we are promoting the work of Crimestoppers, where people are able to pass on information anonymously.” 
The survey is open for three weeks, then results will be analysed by an independent research company and the key findings will be used by Rural Women NZ to work with Crimestoppers and Police to make rural communities safer. 
“We strongly encourage people to take part in this survey. Participants are anonymous and it’s a good opportunity for people living in rural New Zealand to provide valuable feedback about these important issues.”

The survey is here.

When I first moved to the country we never locked doors or vehicles unless we were away overnight.

Nothing happened to make us change but for some years we have taken a more prudent approach and lock up at night and if we’re away during the day.

There are still some areas where not everyone feels the need for this precautionary approach to home security.

We had some Argentinean visitors with us last week when we called on friends. They weren’t at home but we tried the door, which was unlocked, and went in to use the loo.

Our visitors were amazed and we had to explain that this probably isn’t the norm here any more.

When we caught up with our friends yesterday we mentioned our visit and wondered if the door had been unlocked by mistake.

They said no and they weren’t even sure they could lay their hands on a key easily.

I hope their trust isn’t misplaced. It’s a good reflection on their community that they feel safe with doors unlocked whether they’re home or not.

The will to work


Few if any employers will be surprised that bosses can’t find workers in spite of the number of unemployed people.

Frustrated bosses say they can’t find suitable workers for even the most basic of labouring jobs despite the high unemployment rate, as they deal with people who turn up drunk if they come to work at all. . .

It’s not just that people are unskilled. People who are willing to work are almost always willing to learn and can be trained.

The problem is attitude rather than aptitude;  some people just don’t have the will to work – it’s not that they can’t but that they won’t.

This is a very good reason for ensuring there is a reasonable gap between what people get on a benefit and what they can earn from work.

It is also a good reason to continue with benefit reforms which send a very strong message that welfare is a safety net for those in real need not a hammock for those who can’t be bothered.

Farming will adapt


The wailing and gnashing of teeth about New Zealand’s response to climate change is generally motivated by politics rather than environmental concerns.

Anyone who thinks that beggaring our economy to reduce greenhouse gases will make any significant impact on the climate doesn’t understand the numbers.

Our emissions are tiny by world standards and most come from animals which provide protein, the bulk of which is exported.

If we reduce our contribution to feeding the world, farmers in other countries will fill the gap and almost certainly do so in a less efficient and environmentally sustainable way than we do it here.

While the wailers and gnashers are getting political, others, like Federated Farmers’ President Bruce Wills,  are being practical.

As the climate has always changed there are negatives, yes, but many positives too. A more Mediterranean climate may bring new pests and diseases but it will also see off many cold climate ailments too.  

Take Northland, which by the end of this century, could end up with a climate similar to that found in southern Queensland. 

For livestock farmers that will see what they farm and even genetic lines tailored to regional climates.

It may mean commercial crops of soybean, sorghum and potentially rice may become possible.

From reading I even understand everything from mangoes to Thai galangalginger is found in Northland.  Among these and other tropical fruit could be the next ‘Chinese gooseberry’ breakthrough.  It is not beyond the realm of fantasy that even Oil Palm could one day become viable. 

My point is that farming will continue but its nature will evolve and adapt.  We must be open-minded about the possibilities and ensure we have all the tools in place to turn challenges into opportunities.

Take the engine room of any farm; its pasture and crops. We are already seeing a renaissance in deep-rooted Lucerne championed by farmer Doug Avery.

You can add to that drought tolerant crops of chicory, plantain and not to mention deciduous trees like poplars and willows. New cultivars of drought-resistant pasture will also come forward as we add new tools to our toolbox.

Our farm pastures are also a significant if unheralded environmental tool. 

They are arguably our best means of keeping nutrients on-farm and out of water yet it needs three things to flourish; high soil temperatures, long sunshine hours and water. . .

He points out we have tow of these three, but need more of the third.

The Opuha Dam has effectively drought-proofed a large swathe of South Canterbury.

Opuha has been lauded by Labour and National politicians. Even Dr Russel Norman seemed impressed when Federated Farmers hosted him there several years ago. It provides water for farms, an environment for aquatic life, a place to recreate and minimum flows to the formerly summer dry Opihi River.

Economically, it has exceeded all expectations but it also opened back in 1998 and remains our sole example of modern water storage.

For intensive cropping, dairy and horticulture, the benefits of irrigation are self-evident.  Yet much irrigation is dependent upon groundwater or river takes and both are affected by drought or just summer.

Capturing and storing water during winter frees irrigators from river takes and groundwater.

Yet water storage is also a breakthrough for drystock farming too. Irrigating even 20 hectares of a farm becomes a pasture generator reducing that climatic lottery we currently have. 

According to the ANZ Bank the current drought has already cost New Zealand over a billion dollars. Irrigation NZ estimates this sum, if invested in water storage projects, could future proof Canterbury for the next 100 years.

Like Irrigation NZ, Federated believes the solution lies in a combination of regional and on-farm water storage.

Farmers are smart adaptive people but as our climate will change, isn’t it smarter for public policy to enable the solutions we will all need to meet it?

Is it a coincidence that the same people who don’t think we’re doing enough to combat climate change are often the ones who are likely to oppose water storage which is one of the best ways to adapt to it?

Or is it proof that they are more focussed on political problems than practical solutions?



“Preserving is one of those jobs which is a lot more enjoyable upon reflection than during the process,” she said.

“It’s always struck me that Keats would have been a little less mellow about the fruitfulness if he’d had to bottle the harvest.”

March 25 in history


1199 Richard I was wounded by a crossbow bolt while fighting France.

1306 Robert the Bruce became King of Scotland.

1347 Catherine of Siena, Italian saint, was born d. 1380).

1409 The Council of Pisa opened.

1584 Sir Walter Raleigh was granted a patent to colonize Virginia.

1634  The first settlers arrived in Maryland.

1655 Saturn‘s largest moon, Titan, was discovered by Christian Huygens.

1802 The Treaty of Amiens was signed as a “Definitive Treaty of Peace” between France and Britain.

1807 The Slave Trade Act became law, abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire.

1807 – The Swansea and Mumbles Railway, then known as the Oystermouth Railway, became the first passenger carrying railway in the world.

1811 Percy Bysshe Shelley was expelled from the University of Oxford for his publication of the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism.

1821 Greeks revolted against the Ottoman Empire, beginning the Greek War of Independence.

1847 Duel between Dr Isaac Featherston, editor of the Wellington Independent, and Colonel William Wakefield, the New Zealand Company’s Principal Agent in New Zealand.

Wakefield and Featherston duel

1881 Mary Gladys Webb, English writer, was born  (d. 1927).

1894  Coxey’s Army, the first significant American protest march, left Massillon, Ohio for Washington D.C.

1897 John Laurie, Scottish actor, was born (d. 1980).

1899 Burt Munro, New Zealand motorcycle racer, was born (d. 1978).

1903 Racing Club de Avellaneda, one of the big five of Argentina, was founded.

1908 Clube Atletico Mineiro was founded in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

1911 In New York City, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 146 garment workers.

1913 Sir Reo Stakis, Anglo-Cypriot hotel magnate, was born (d. 2001).

1914 Norman Borlaug, American agriculturalist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born (d. 2009).

1917 The Georgian Orthodox Church restored its autocephaly abolished by Imperial Russia in 1811.

1918 The Belarusian People’s Republic was established.

1922 Eileen Ford, American model agency executive, was born.

1924  On the anniversary of Greek Independence, Alexandros Papanastasiou proclaimed the Second Hellenic Republic.

1934 Gloria Steinem, American feminist and publisher, was born.

1937 Tom Monaghan, American fast-food industry entrepreneur, was born.

1939 Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli beccame Pope Pius XII.

1940 John A Lee was expelled from the Labour Party.

John A. Lee expelled from Labour Party

1941 The Kingdom of Yugoslavia joined the Axis powers with the signing of the Tripartite Pact.

1942 Aretha Franklin, American singer, was born.

1947  An explosion in a coal mine in Centralia, Illinois killed 111.

1947 Elton John, English singer and songwriter, was born.

1948  The first successful tornado forecast predicted that a tornado would strike Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

1949  The March deportation was conducted in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to force collectivisation by way of terror. The Soviet authorities deported more than 92,000 people from Baltics to remote areas of the Soviet Union.

1957  United States Customs seized copies of Allen Ginsberg‘s poem “Howl” as obscene.

1957  The European Economic Community was established (West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg).

1958  Canada’s Avro Arrow made its first flight.

1960 Steve Norman, British saxophonist (Spandau Ballet), was born.

1960 Peter O’Brien, Australian actor, was born.

1965  Sarah Jessica Parker, American actress, was born.

1965  Civil rights activists led by Martin Luther King, Jr. successfully completed their 4-day 50-mile march from Selma to the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.

1969  During their honeymoon, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their first Bed-In for Peace at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel (until March 31).

1971 Beginning of Operation Searchlight of Pakistan Army against East Pakistani civilians.

1975 Faisal of Saudi Arabia was shot and killed by a mentally ill nephew.

1979  The first fully functional space shuttle orbiter, Columbia, was delivered to the John F. Kennedy Space Center to be prepared for its first launch.

1988  The Candle demonstration in Bratislava – the first mass demonstration of the 1980s against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

1992  Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev returned to Earth after a 10-month stay aboard the Mir space station.

1995  The world’s first wiki, a part of the Portland Pattern Repository, was made public by Ward Cunningham.

1996  An 81-day-long standoff between the anti-government group Montana Freemen and law enforcement near Jordan, Montana, began.

1996  The European Union’s Veterinarian Committee bans the export of British beef and its by-products as a result of mad cow disease (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy).

2006  Capitol Hill massacre: A gunman killed six people before taking his own life at a party in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

2006 Protesters demanding a new election in Belarus following the rigged Belarusian presidential election, 2006 clashed with riot police. Opposition leader Aleksander Kozulin was among several protesters arrested.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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