Word of the day

April 6, 2013

Pertinacious – adhering resolutely or holding tenaciously to a design, purpose, belief, opinion, or course of action; stubbornly or perversely persistent; stubborn or obstinate.

Rural round-up

April 6, 2013

Gore couple take home Sharemilker of Year title – Terri Russell:

More than 500 people attended the 2013 Southland Dairy Industry Awards in Invercargill last night to celebrate the achievements of standout individuals in Southland’s dairy industry.

Gore sharemilkers Don and Jess Moore, who are in their second season 50 per cent sharemilking 950 cows, were named the Sharemilker-Equity Farmers of the Year.

The couple said that entering into the awards made them look at their business closely – from the day-to-day running to goals for the future.

“We also enjoy the opportunity to network with some of the standout leaders within the dairy industry, as that is what makes this industry so strong,” they said. . .

Government’s irrigation promises offer hope to farmers:

The comments from Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy re-confirming the government’s commitment to supporting large scale irrigation projects are exactly what drought-stricken farmers needed to hear, Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills says.

“It is great to see Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy publically reiterating the Government’s commitment to investing up to $400 million to encourage third-party capital investment in regional water storage projects to better insure farmers against droughts such as the one currently ravaging the North Island,” Wills says.

“We need these schemes because no matter how many on-farm water dams farmers build, they will never have enough capacity to see us through droughts like this one.

“It is not just farmers who will feel the effects of the prolonged dry season. The entire New Zealand economy is set to take a $2 billion hit, which will affect everyone, from all walks of life, everywhere in the country. . .

Shear speed triumph for Fagan:

Veteran shearer David Fagan threw down the gauntlet to his rivals on the first night of the 29th New Zealand Shearing Championships when he won the competition’s annual Speedshear in Te Kuiti last night.

The 51-year-old Fagan blasted the wool off his final sheep in 22.52 seconds to win the $1000 first prize in front of his home crowd in the Waitomo Cultural and Arts Centre, where he’s been the star of the show since the Championships were first held in Te Kuiti in 1985.

Hastings shearer Dion King, who had headed the 10 qualifiers after the heats, finished second in 23.1sec, while Digger Balme, originally from Tuakau but based in Te Kuiti for many years, was third, in 24.26sec. . .

SFF firms stance against co-op:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper has further distanced the company from calls to centralise the red meat industry.

A Meat Industry Excellence Group meeting in Gore last month attracted about 1000 farmers wanting changes to the meat industry and many supported reordering the country’s meat companies into one co-operative controlling a majority of product.

The Southland Times reported Silver Fern Farms did not support the idea because it felt it did not necessarily reflect the best interests of its shareholders. . .

Sealord’s results marred by Argentinian impairment as other units prosper – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Sealord, New Zealand’s second-largest fishing company, reported a full-year profit that was dented by a charge against its Argentinian business, where a soaring peso and rampant inflation are driving up costs.

Profit was $5.2 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, from $13.4 million in the corresponding 15 month period, according to the Nelson-based company’s annual report. Sealord’s holding company, Kura, changed its balance sheet in the interim. Sales were $487 million in the latest year.

Sealord, which is jointly owned by Maori tribal interests through Aotearoa Fisheries and Japan’s Nippon Suisan Kaisha, took a $10 million charge against its Yuken business in Argentina in 2012, notes to its accounts show. That business also had an operating loss of $7 million in the period, so effectively $17 million was shaved off Sealord’s results in the latest period. . .

Seize the day – Valerie Davies:

Today was not one of those days, but One of Those Days.  Yesterday, as I watched the tiny, greenery- yallery birds we call silver- eyes in the trees, hunting for insects and the like, I thought how I hadn’t seen the cock pheasant for months. He must have found another home, I thought.

When I awoke this morning I jumped out of bed and looked out of the open window to the sea as usual. There, right below my window, was the pheasant, in the garden bed with the bromeliads. He slowly pecked and ambled his way down through the vegetable beds to the petanque court, and then sauntereded off down the path into the wild patch. A moment earlier or later, and I would have missed him. Do I believe in coincidences, or did the pheasant pick up my wave-length? . . . (you’ll have to click the link above to get to the rural theme and a good read).

Sheep etiquette in New Zealand:

Follow the journey of Luca an Italian tourist exploring Lake Tekapo. In this beautiful alpine village in the heart of the South Island, Luca enjoys the stunning scenery, wonderful attractions and the hospitality of the locals. What he wasn’t prepared for was the uninvited but special friendship he would establish with Lulu…….. confirming for Luca, South Canterbury is a great place to make friends! . . .

And from Facebook:



April 6, 2013

8/10 in the Herald’s politics quiz.

80 jobs to go from QLDC?

April 6, 2013

Queenstown Lakes District Council could shed 80 jobs as it restructures:

. . .The draft report proposes reducing the number of staff to 254, meaning 80 staff could lose their jobs.

Of the 334 employees, 163 are employed in operations – which includes service centre managers, librarians, admin and support staff.

The draft report proposes reducing operations staff by 42 to 121 and reducing planning department staff from 49 to 33.     

The loss of 80 staff is a significant reduction. While having sympathy for the people involved, QLDC rates are high and staff costs will be a significant factor in that.

However, it’s not just numbers but the effectiveness and efficiency of the service they provide which matters.

One of the key recommendations of the draft is to move as many Queenstown-based staff as possible into one building.

Currently staff are spread across several different offices and locations.

All frontline staff need to be in one location, the recommendation said.

Developing an internal culture of performance and public service was key as the council dovetailed its activities, the report said.

The review team observed that, excluding frontline staff, customer service was not always seen as important.

Not recognising the importance of customer service is not peculiar to QLDC.

The amount of needless paperwork generated for meetings also came under heavy scrutiny.

A significant amount of councillor and staff time and effort was put into more than 4000 pages of reports prepared for meetings over the past eight months.

More than 30 per cent of the material was judged to be needless and reducing the paperwork would free up staff resources.

Key points of the paperwork were considered more appropriately dealt with by the chief executive and management.

It was recommended only vital reports containing meaningful information should progress to council or committee meetings. . .

Needless reports wouldn’t be peculiar to QLDC either.

The council’s chief executive Adam Feeley was appointed last year after resigning as head of the Serious Fraud Office.

Perhaps skills he learned at the SFO have enabled him to look at the council and its performance in a way someone who came through the bureaucracy wouldn’t.

He said in January that an organisational review was his number one priority:

”Everything else takes a back seat to that, because everything else on my list can’t be dealt with until I have the type of organisation that can deal with these problems,” Mr Feeley told the Wanaka Residents Association annual meeting last week.

The goal of the review of QLDC activities was to develop a more efficient organisation which had greater cost effectiveness, better skills and capabilities, and that met the expectations of all communities within the district, Mr Feeley said.

He acknowledged the review, which included covering the activities of more than 230 staff, could result in redundancies. But rather than being purely a ”slash and burn exercise”, it was geared at producing motivated staff and giving the public an organisation which was easy to deal with. . .

A council culture of you have to do this rather than how can we help and concentration on rules  without taking account of their affects afflicts other councils which might learn from the changes proposed for QLDC.

Aussie honour for Bill

April 6, 2013

Deputy Prime Minister and FinanceMinister Bill English  has been recognised for his vision, innovation and leadership in the development of the trans-Tasman infrastructure market at Infrastructure Partnerships Australia’s prestigious 2013 National Infrastructure Awards.

“This award acknowledges Bill English’s strong and personal leadership in bolstering the Trans-Tasman infrastructure market” said IPA’s Chairman, the Hon Mark Birrell.

“This is the first time that Infrastructure Partnerships Australia has recognised an offshore policymaker, but Bill’s deep personal interest in infrastructure policy makes him a significant figure for the Australian sector.

“As Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Bill has moved deliberately to adopt similar frameworks for infrastructure delivery, creating opportunities for NZ and Australian investors and contractors to work across both sides of the Tasman.

“There are lessons that Australia can learn from what is being achieved by the NZ Government through open dialogue with the public.

“New Zealand has very quickly developed a sophisticated infrastructure sector, because the government has been able to take the public on a reform journey that has seen assets sold, public services reformed and transformational projects hitting the ground.

“The procurement of the Wirri Prison in South Auckland is an excellent example of Bill’s willingness to experiment with new ways to run the business of government.

“In that project, the private sector will operate the prison, employing the guards as well as the facility managers.

“The payments to the private sector are built around clear performance metrics, including the requirement that prisoner reoffending rates are below what is achieved in public prisons.

“That creates a substantial incentive for the private operator to focus on rehabilitation through skills development, mental healthcare and other methods.
“This is only one example, but it shows a government that is willing to look at new ways to deliver much better quality public services, at better value for taxpayers.

“Bill has also been actively involved in the ongoing reform of New Zealand’s energy market, using the proceeds of asset sales to fund the major new social and economic infrastructure projects and the massive Christchurch redevelopment.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia is a national forum, comprising public & private sector CEO Members, advocating the public policy interests of Australia’s Infrastructure Industry.

The Chairman’s Prize acknowledges an individual for their personal dedication and leadership within the infrastructure sector.
Previous recipients include:
• Dr Kerry Schott, former Managing Director of Sydney Water and Commissioner of the NSW Commission of Audit;
• Nicholas Moore, Managing Director of Macquarie Group;
• Campbell Newman; Premier of Queensland (when Lord Mayor of Brisbane); and
• Rick Turchini, former Managing Director of Baulderstone.

Being the first non-Australian to be recognised in this way makes the honour all the greater but it appears to have got little if any attention in our media.

Generally when a New Zealander gets international recognition it is big news but I knew about this award only because a friend mentioned it.

I Googled to find out more and came across the media release I’ve copied here but the only New Zealand result was a Scoop media release saying Bill was attending the awards.

Has the story got attention which escaped Google or is this a case of a prophet being without honour in his own country?

Drought confirms need for water storage

April 6, 2013

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the drought affecting much of New Zealand emphasises the need for irrigation projects to store and distribute water.

After speaking to drought-affected farmers on the West Coast and the Central North Island this week, Mr Guy said water drives New Zealand’s economy just as much as minerals in Australia.

“We don’t have a shortage of water or rainfall in this country, we just don’t have the capacity to store and use that water in dry times. We currently use for irrigation less than two percent of the water that lands on New Zealand.

“Done properly, storage and irrigation schemes can help to better allocate water to benefit both the economy and environment.

“If current proposals are advanced there could be another 420,000 hectares of irrigated land available over time. Research from NZIER suggests exports could be boosted by $4 billion a year by 2026, which would support thousands of new jobs.

“This is why the Government is investing $80 million this year into a new Crown company to act as a bridging investor for irrigation projects. This will involve short term, minority investments to help kick-start regional projects.

“In total, the Government has signalled plans to invest up to $400 million in regional-scale schemes to encourage third-party capital investment. The Government is also supporting development of suitable projects to the prospectus-ready stage through the Irrigation Acceleration Fund.

“Projects will only succeed if they are committed to good industry practice that promotes efficient water use and environmental management, particularly around land-use intensification. Irrigation projects could potentially improve the flow of some rivers in dry summer months.

“After the summer we’ve had, no one can dispute the importance of storing and managing our water better. The impact of drought has been felt right across New Zealand but irrigation projects could make a real difference in the future,” says Mr Guy.

While much of the country is struggling with drought and irrigation restrictions on many rivers, the Opuha Irrigation Scheme proves the value of water storage:

Opuha Water chief executive Tony McCormick said yesterday Lake Opuha was 55 per cent full with a 100 per cent of irrigators still being supplied by the Opuha scheme. . .

“Considering the drought that is prevailing over New Zealand we are one of the few [irrigation schemes] still able to supply 100 per cent of our irrigators.

“This is the benefits of storage – if we were reliant on the river, it would be a completely different story. The river would be under a third of what it is at the moment, if we didn’t have storage.”

We have some storage on our farm. We pump water from the Kakanui River and underground over winter and use if for irrigation in summer.

The dark green think rivers should be left to flow from the mountains to the sea. But if you accept some use of the water is acceptable, taking it when rivers are at high flow and storing it for use when it’s dry is the best way to do it.

It provides not just environmental and economic benefits, the storage lakes like that created by the Opuha dam also provide recreational opportunities for swimming, boating and fishing.


Saturday soapbox

April 6, 2013

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation.

You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.

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