Word of the day


Soggy – heavy, saturated or sodden with moisture or water;  soaked; waterlogged; heavy or doughy because of imperfect cooking; lacking spirit; dull; humid, sultry.

Word of the day


Towardly – appearing likely to succeed; promising; advantageous; favourable; compliant;  propitious or suitable; tractable; docile;. friendly; affable; in the direction of something.

Rural round-up


40% productivity rise realistic – Sally Rae:

On-farm productivity gains in the New Zealand sheep industry over the past 25 years have been an ”extraordinary story”, AbacusBio consultant Dr Peter Fennessy says.

Productivity, which drove profitability, had been increasing at about 2.5% a year, which he attributed to a combination of genetics and management.

There had been genetic improvement through consolidation of the ram-breeding sector and larger ram-breeding flocks, and uptake of new technology (rams and pasture) and better pasture management. . .

Working within cap on nitrogen – Sally Rae:

“As a nation, we cannot continue to have conversations about protecting water quality without having a parallel set of conversations that redefine the New Zealand farming business model.”

So says Taupo farmer and entrepreneur Mike Barton, who, when faced with what was effectively a cap on stock numbers, sought to increase the value of the product he produced.

A nitrogen cap was imposed on farmers around Lake Taupo to protect its water quality, with 35,000ha of land now covenanted for 999 years to remove 20% of manageable nitrogen. . .

Fonterra invests further $30m into Whareroa:

Fonterra has announced a further $30 million investment to expand its Dry Distribution Centre at its Whareroa site in Taranaki.

This follows a $23 million upgrade of the Whareroa coolstores last year, bringing the total capital investment in the logistics infrastructure on site to more than $50 million since 2011.

Fonterra Director of Logistics, Mark Leslie, says the project is part of Fonterra’s overall drive to simplify their supply chain and reduce the associated costs.

“These investments are part of a strategy to deliver more products, more directly to ports for export. . . “

Fieldays; washer cleans up– Jackie Harrigan:

Taranaki dairy farmer Simon Washer made a clean sweep of the Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year Competition for 2013.

After a busy week of an Amazing Race through the North Island followed by a series of eight challenges at Mystery Creek, 25-year-old Simon won the People’s Choice Award – having built his Facebook following to more than 700 likes – before being presented with the Golden Gumboot Award for overall Rural Bachelor of the Year.

Simon is sharemilking in coastal Taranaki and a motor-cross and trail riding fan who is also involved in Young Farmers and chairman of his local club. . .

Green’s Taranaki claims poppycock – Harvey Leach:

What we saw on TV3’s Campbell Live about landfarming in Taranaki and then got from a Green Party media release was straight out of the conspiracy theorists’ playbook.

The Green Party called on Fonterra to stop taking milk from land in Taranaki that it said had been spread with oil and fracking waste, which included toxic chemicals.

This divides things into “everyone even remotely involved-qualified versus me”. In our case, those remotely involved-qualified were landowners, Fonterra, Taranaki Regional Council, petroleum companies and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association. The “me” in this story was the Green Party of Dr Russel Norman. . .


Going nowhere


I’m supposed to be flying to Christchurch tomorrow for a meeting in Wellington on Wednesday.

The heavy rain and state of the roads prompted me to start the journey today but I’m going nowhere.

I’d checked the internet before starting and thought I had a passable route. But 10 minutes into my journey a radio update informed me that road was closed.

North Otago is cut off by road closures to the north, west and south.

Our usual route to town is also closed and while the alternative is okay for now I took the precaution of stocking up on groceries before I came home.

Whatever the weather brings in the next few days we won’t be going hungry.

Loon not loony


Google Loon aims to bring balloon-powered internet to everyone.

A loon is a fool but this idea is far from loony.

A trial was launched in Canterbury last week.

The scheme involved using balloons, flying at twice the altitude of commercial aircraft, which beam wireless broadband at 3G-level bandwidth (the sort of internet speed most people get from their cellphone).

Around 30 balloons have been launched as part of the trial. Collectively, they will offer broadband to a 10,000 square kilometre area.

Google spokeswoman Annie Baxter says 50 Christchurch homes have been given antennas that let them pick up a wireless broadband signal when one of the balloons is within 20kim.

Entrepreneur Charles Nimmo became the first to connect.

Ms Baxter says Google is working with the Crown-owned Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (or Reannz) on broadband connectivity for the project. Reannz operates the high-speed $100 million Karen network used by universities and research institutes.

“Though we use similar frequencies as normal wi-fi, we have designed Loon to work using a specialized, non-standard radio protocol — that means our radios and antennas can only receive Loon signals and they filter out ground-based wi-fi. We have to do this to achieve high bandwidth over the long distances (20+ km) involved,” Ms Baxter tells NBR. . . .

This could well be a more effective and less expensive way for rural people to get reasonable internet connections.

Apropos of rural broadband, Telecommunications Users’ Association chief executive Paul Brislen says farmers should lay fibre cable themselves.

Mr Brislen told the Otago Daily Times this week there was no reason to wait for the big telecommunications companies to do the work.

”In some respects the telcos are the very last people you want to hire to deploy a network because they pack in so much cost.

”What you want to do is hire the guys with diggers and say: ‘If you dig me a trench I’ll just lay the fibre down’.”

Fibre-optic cable is needed to handle the high data rates of fast broadband and 4G (fourth generation) cellphone services.

Mr Brislen said a group of vineyard owners in the Nelson region had laid their own fibre optic 10 years ago and in Britain a low-cost scheme called B4RN taking fibre-optic to individual farms was ”going great guns”.

”These farmers are doing it for themselves. They got sick and tired of waiting for British Telecom to do it.” . . . 

Mr Brislen said the fibre-optic cable itself was ”really cheap”.

”It’s literally worthless because it’s just plastic.”

Mr Brislen said a cable run to farms or a community needed a ”tail-back” to one of dozens of ”points of presence” on the fibre network.

”So if you can reach one of those with your fibre, then build your own.

”As long as you have got consent to lay the thing, you are off and running.

”Farmers are much better at digging trenches than phone companies.”

Unless you’re on a main road or one that goes to a school it could be years before fibre gets to many rural properties, if it comes at all.

Laying the cable yourself or using the Loon could bring better broadband much sooner.

It’s raining, it’s pouring


Rivers in North Otago are at record levels.

We haven’t had any problems with stock but have had water woes at home.

As I walked over to the office last night I heard a gurgling from the heat pump. I found a torch and found the cause – water about a third of the way up the pump.

I summoned my farmer who started investigating the nearby drain while I dug a trench.

There are things I’d rather do in the dark on a wet Sunday night but if there’s one good thing about too much rain it’s that the digging is easy.

Even so, it still took an hour to dig a trench deep enough and long enough to get the pump safely above water level.

But it worked and the heat pump still does too which, given it’s still wet and somewhat less than tropical, is a blessing.



Complusion wrong solution


Maori Party MP, Te Ururoa Flavell, has entered a private member’s bill into the ballot to automatically register Maori on the Maori roll.

Mr Flavell says more needs to be done to increase tangata whenua participation in politics.

He could be right about the need for greater political  participation by Maori but making it compulsory to be on the Maori roll then opt out should they prefer to be on the general roll is not the answer.

Unless enrolment papers have changed recently, everyone gets the option of being on either roll. I don’t think there’s any check on whether or not those choosing the Maori roll are Maori and many would find the idea of trying to define who is and who isn’t offensive.

Automatically enrolling those who identify as Maori on the Maori roll and then allowing them to opt out would merely add unnecessary complexity to the enrolment process.

It might put people off enrolling at all and even if the Bill succeeded it wouldn’t necessarily improve participation.

The MP for Waiariki admits it would still be a challenge to get people out to the polling stations.

Quite – getting people on the roll doesn’t guarantee they’ll vote.

Something Flavell probably hasn’t considered is that the Maori roll might even be part of the problem. Maori seats are bigger than most general electorates which makes it much more difficult to service them.

As a result of that people might think they’re not well served by their MPs and therefore not see any point in voting.

Jobs come, jobs go


The opposition couldn’t have picked a worse time to be wasting their time and our money manufacturing a crisis about a manufacturing crisis.

New Zealand manufacturing activity rose in May to the highest level since June 2004, led by new orders and production, stoking optimism the economy may be picking up pace.

The BNZ-BusinessNZ performance of manufacturing index rose 4 points to 59.2 in May, the highest level in nine years and the strongest reading for May since the survey began in 2002.

The monthly survey suggests manufacturing may not be as weak as suggested in government figure this week showing sales volumes fell 0.6 percent in the first quarter and indicates companies are confident enough to take on more workers.

Machinery and equipment manufacturing led gains in May, with a reading of 67.4. . . .

The good health of manufacturing was on show at last week’s National Fieldays:

Prime Minister John Key says the National Fieldays are a perfect example of why New Zealand’s manufacturing sector is at its highest level in nine years. . . .

“New Zealand is well placed to be doing well in manufacturing,” Key said at Fieldays.

“What you’re seeing here at the Fieldays is actually a lot of innovative manufacturers who are developing products.

“I think we’re (New Zealand) a good place to do business. We’ve got a good, stable democracy, we have an English court and law system and we’ve got a competitive economy,” he said.

Those who think we’ve got a crisis here might take a look at India:

As many as 14.08 million jobs were lost in the five-year period ended in 2009-10 in the agriculture sector which engages almost 60 per cent of the workforce in the country.

The job losses in the manufacturing sector during the five year period from 2004-05 to 2009-10 was 5.03 million as per the draft 12th Five-Year Plan approved by the country’s apex policy making body National Development Council (NDC) in December last year.

According to the data analysed in document, employment in the agriculture sector in absolute terms was 237.67 million in 1999-2000 which increased to 258.93 million in 2004-05 and then fell to 244.85 million in 2009-10.

Similarly the workforce engaged in manufacturing sector was 44.05 million in 1999-2000, which increased to 55.77 million in 2004-05 and then came down to 50.74 million in 2009-10. . .

Jobs come and jobs go. In spite of all those losses, there were gains in some areas and overall employment increased:

 . . . However, the employment in non-manufacturing sector increased from 20.84 million in 1999-2000 to 29.96 million and 48.28 million in 2004-05 and 2009-10 respectively.

The workforce in electricity, gas and water supply also saw a decline from 1.30 million in 2004-05 to 1.25 million in 2009-10. The other sector broadly in services sector saw a surge in employment.
The overall employment in the country has jumped from 396.76 million in 1999-2000 and 457.46 million in 2004-05 and it was 460.22 million in 2009-10.

In 1841, over one in five workers (22%) were in the Agriculture and fishing industry.

This has now fallen to under 1%. But we produce an awful lot more food than we did back then.

In 1841, a third of the working population (36%) worked in manufacturing and in 1901 this was at a similar rate of 38%.

This has now fallen to 9%. And we do indeed still manufacture an awful lot more by value than we did back then.

How can that be?

The answer to how we did both is that we invented machines that did a lot of the work of those people. Yes, this did indeed mean that these people thus became unemployed: which was the very point of making the invention. The point of the mechanical hay baler is to make manual hay balers unemployed. The point of the robot riveter is to make human riveters unemployed.

And thus those made unemployed by the technological change can go off and work in services. Which is how we all become richer: we’ve now got the machines doing the food and the manufacturing, the humans doing the services and we get all three: food, manufactured goods and services.

Think about it for a moment, if we still had 22% in farming and 36% in manufacturing then that’s 58% of the people. Currently 81% of the population work in services (there’s a bit in construction, water etc as well). If we’ve 58% who cannot be in services because they’re in food or manufacturing then we’d, just as in 1841, only be able to have 33% working in services. So, which half to two thirds of the services we currently do get would you like to give up simply because we don’t have the people available to do them? OK, we all agree the diversity advisers can go but beyond that?

Quite. By mechanising agriculture and manufacturing we’ve been able to get the production of both of those that we desire and also have a vast expansion of services that we also get to enjoy. We have more thus we’re richer. And that of course is the point of doing such mechanisation: to make us all richer and long may it continue.

Machines have replaced a lot of jobs. They’ve also increased productivity and freed people to do things machines can’t.

Jobs come and jobs go and more jobs come. It’s not a recent phenomenon, it’s been happening for centuries as new inventions make it easier to do old jobs.

Instead of manufacturing a manufacturing crisis the opposition should be putting their energies into finding solutions for the problem of people who don’t’ have the skills, and sometimes the will, to do the new jobs.

June 17 in history


1239 –  Edward Longshanks, English king, was born (d. 1307).

1462 – Vlad III the Impaler attempted to assassinate Mehmed II (The Night Attack) forcing him to retreat from Wallachia.

1497 – Battle of Deptford Bridge – forces under King Henry VII defeated troops led by Michael An Gof.

1565  Matsunaga Hisahide assassinated the 13th Ashikaga shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiteru.

1579  Sir Francis Drake claimed a land he called Nova Albion (modern California) for England.

1631 Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth. Her husband, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan I, then spent more than 20 years building her tomb, the Taj Mahal.

1691 Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Italian painter and architect, was born  (d. 1765).

1704 John Kay, English inventor of the flying shuttle, was born  (d. 1780)

1773 Cúcuta, Colombia was founded by Juana Rangel de Cuéllar.

1775 American Revolutionary War: Battle of Bunker Hill.

1789  In France, the Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly.

1839 In the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kamehameha III issued the Edict of toleration which gave Roman Catholics the freedom to worship in the Hawaiian Islands.

1843 The Wiarau Incident: New Zealand Company settlers and Ngati Toa clashed over the ownership of land in the Wairau Valley.

The Wairau incident

1863 Battle of Aldie in the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War.

1867 Henry Lawson, Australian poet, was born  (d. 1922).

1876 Indian Wars: Battle of the Rosebud – 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne led by Crazy Horse beat back General George Crook‘s forces at Rosebud Creek in Montana Territory.

1877  Indian Wars: Battle of White Bird Canyon – the Nez Perce defeated the US Cavalry at White Bird Canyon in the Idaho Territory.

1885 The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbour.

1898  The United States Navy Hospital Corps iwa established.

1900 Martin Bormann, Nazi official, was born  (d. 1945).

1901  The College Board introduced its first standardized test.

1910 Aurel Vlaicu performed the first flight of A. Vlaicu nr. 1.

1930  U.S. President Herbert Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act into law.

1932  Bonus Army: around a thousand World War I veterans amassed at the United States Capitol as the U.S. Senate considered a bill that would give them certain benefits.

1933 Union Station Massacre: in Kansas City, Missouri, four FBI agents and captured fugitive Frank Nash were gunned down by gangsters attempting to free Nash.

1939  Last public guillotining in France. Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, was guillotined in Versailles.

1940  World War II: Operation Ariel began– Allied troops started to evacuate France, following Germany’s takeover of Paris and most of the nation.

1940 – World War II: sinking of the RMS Lancastria by the Luftwaffe.

1940 – World War II: the British Army’s 11th Hussars assaulted and took Fort Capuzzo in Libya from Italian forces.

1940 – The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania fell under the occupation of the Soviet Union.

1943 Barry Manilow, American musician, was born.

1944  Iceland declared independence from Denmark and became a republic.

1945 Ken Livingstone, English politician, was born.

1947 Paul Young, English singer and percussionist, was born  (d. 2000).

1948  A Douglas DC-6 carrying United Airlines Flight 624 crashed near Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, killing all 43 people on board.

1950 Lee Tamahori, New Zealand film director, was born.

1953  Workers Uprising: in East Germany, the Soviet Union ordered a division of troops into East Berlin to quell a rebellion.

1957 Phil Chevron, Irish musician (The Pogues, The Radiators From Space), was born.

1958  The Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing being built connecting Vancouver and North Vancouver, Canada, collapses into the Burrard Inlet, killing many of the ironworkers and injuring others.

1958  The Wooden Roller Coaster at Playland, in the Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver, opened.

1960  The Nez Perce tribe was awarded $4 million for 7 million acres of land undervalued (4 cents/acre) in the 1863 treaty.

1961  The New Democratic Party of Canada was founded with the merger of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.

1963  The United States Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in Abington School District v. Schempp against allowing the reciting of Bible verses and the Lord’s Prayer in public schools.

1963  A day after South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem announced the Joint Communique to end the Buddhist crisis, a riot involving around 2000 people breaks out, killing one.

1972  Watergate scandal: five White House operatives were arrested for burglary of the offices of the Democratic National Committee

1987  With the death of the last individual, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow became extinct.

1991  Apartheid: the South African Parliament repealed the Population Registration Act, which had required racial classification of all South Africans at birth.

1992  A ‘Joint Understanding’ agreement on arms reduction was signed by U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

1994 O.J. Simpson was arrested for the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Sourced from NZ history Online & Wikipedia

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