Word of the day

September 12, 2013

Balbutiate – to stutter or stammer; the stoppages and disruptions in fluency which interrupt the smooth flow and timing of speech.

Rural round-up

September 12, 2013

Sheep farmers’ support essential for Invermay – Simon Hartley:

Southern sheep farmers are being urged to get vocal in efforts to have AgResearch drop its proposal to gut Invermay of more than 70% of its staff, and move elsewhere.

With southern lambing fully under way and the decision on Invermay’s future looming, there appears to be an air of complacency about some farmers. . .

Speed limit signs on school buses in trial:

Mid Canterbury motorists will have no excuse for speeding past school buses stopped to pick up or set down pupils.

Special illuminated flashing lights have been fitted to the front and back of 30 buses operating in the Ashburton district as part of a national trial.

The signs carry the 20kmh symbol – the legal speed for passing a stationary school bus picking up or dropping off children. . .

Funding helps farmers – Carmen Hall:

The Government is investing heavily in the red meat and wool sectors to try to make it a $14 billion industry by 2020.

It’s rolled out funding for a Primary Growth Partnership scheme that encourages major players to team up, share knowledge and build a more profitable future.

The latest organisation to join is Beef + Lamb New Zealand, which partners Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, Blue Sky Meats, Greenlea, Progressive Meats, Silver Fern Farms, ANZ, Rabobank and Deloitte. . .

Farmlands rolling out single brand – Tim Fulton:

The Farmlands Co-operative Society hopes to have a single Farmlands brand across the country by this time next year.

A change from CRT Fuel to Farmlands Fuel brand is the latest sign of the merger of the namesake co-operatives taking shape.

The Farmlands label will apply soon to the company’s 80 branches as the new focal point for its 54,000 shareholders and 1000 staff.

The Farmlands name has already appeared at some of the old CRT offices and the new image for the fuel business is part of the trend, but southern field vehicles are still tagged CRT. . .

Bad fences cause trouble – Leandra Fitzgibbon:

In rural New Zealand, wandering stock are a serious public safety risk. They can also cause costly damage to other people’s property.

Farmers have a duty to ensure their farms are adequately fenced to contain their livestock and they’re liable for any damage their wandering stock cause.

An adequate fence means a fence that, as to its nature, condition and state of repair, is reasonably satisfactory for the purpose that it serves or is intended to serve, says the Fencing Act 1978. . .

Fox nails top title:

GISBORNE’S Matt Fox is New Zealand’s Young Viticulturist of the Year 2013.

The 25-year-old decided to have a second try at the title this year after coming close in 2010, and this time won it at the Romeo Bragato Wine awards in Marlborough. Matthew Duggan from Marlborough came second.

Mr Fox will go on to compete in the grand final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition being held on November 13 and 14.

He made it to the final after winning the regional final in Hawke’s Bay earlier in August. . .

Lactose hotspots (Hat tip Whaleoil):


Thursday’s quiz

September 12, 2013

It’s your turn to ask the questions again.

Anyone who stumps all of us will win an electronic vase of camellias.

Knowing what’s what

September 12, 2013

National Standards has been contentious.

Most of the contention has been from teacher unions.

Mike Hosking gives a parent’s perspective:

. . . National standards have been a non-event for me, well as a parent anyway. National standards though as a broadcaster have been a hotly debated, contentious concept that according to a report out from the Ministry of Education this week is wrong quite a bit of the time.

The teachers’ unions hate them, the claims over national standards from the unions have been many fold and none of it good. The detail is vague, it can be misinterpreted, teachers don’t like them, some schools held out against them, it leads to parents making comparisons with other schools which means that makes the education system competitive.

If all I knew about national standards was what I had heard on the radio and I had no kids and no teachers to talk to, I’d have come to the conclusion they were a risky, problematic concept riddled with issues that were leading the nation’s kids and schools down a slippery old slope. It is perhaps a good lesson as to why there is often more than one side to most stories.

National standards in my personal experience has been an exceedingly simple exercise which has involved the teachers of my kids either in an interview situation or through a number of school reports pointing out what’s been achieved in any given subject, where my kid sits within that achievement and where that achievement sits within the national standards criteria. I know where they are currently and where they are supposed to be by the end of the year. It has come in the form of shaded charts or graphs and it’s come in the form of numbers. . .

Here’s the simple truth. Parents want and like to know where there kid is at. They like knowing something more specific than ‘they’re doing fine’ or ‘they’re settling in nicely’. National standards places them. It places them ahead, on or behind others around the country. And when you know that, you start to work out how much of that performance or lack of it is the child’s, is the teacher’s, or is the school’s. In other words, you know what’s what.

To be worried about that as those who have spent so much time scaring the bejesus out of us clearly are requires a mindset and view of the world I have trouble getting my head around.

Knowledge is power, neither is a bad thing.

Wouldn't you want to know how your kids were doing?

Standing up for ourselves

September 12, 2013

The ODT’s Stand Up Otago campaign was sparked by the announcement of major jobs losses at Invermay Agricultural Research Centre.

Those who joined the campaign seemed to be looking to government to help Dunedin and the province.

But a recent editorial, correctly, looks beyond government for growth:

. . . The Government needs to know the anger and outrage in Dunedin as it abandons the city in these areas. The Government needs to play its part in Dunedin’s future.

Nevertheless, the retention of such jobs is but one part of economic development and Dunedin’s future. At the next level, the mayor and the council need to be accountable for their part.

It is fine for the council to point to its economic development unit and its work to convince Wellington politicians about government and quasi-government jobs. But just how supportive of business is the council from top to bottom?

Through planning, building permits, transport planning, rates and so on, is the council in fact business friendly?

Does what it provides impress possible immigrants to Dunedin? Does it and the city generally project the attitudes and produce the goods that make Dunedin an attractive place in which to live. The council must ”stand up” for the city.

What, too, about the attitudes of business people, workers and residents in the South? Do we really want, in matters both large and small, to be efficient, effective and positive?

Is our customer service, as has been claimed, at best mediocre?

Would a new business really want to set up here when the attitudes around it are slack and making progress is much harder that it should be? Would residents want to live here because we are friendly, vibrant, proud, helpful?

Do high standards flow through our hospitals and in our schools? Can we show the rest of the country we are superior in what we do and how we do it? Business and residents must ”stand up” for the city.

Dunedin has many inherent advantages, not least of which are relatively high education standards and relatively low numbers of social problems.

It has an intellectual, social, sporting and cultural life well beyond what might be expected in a small city. We also have companies blazing trails and quietly doing the business. This all needs to be built on and fostered.

Although we do not expect the Government wrongfully to strip away jobs, Dunedin as a community fundamentally has much of its future in our own hands.

The raw fact is that, in an intensely competitive world, Dunedin has to ”stand up” for itself.

We are all responsible for growth.

Government has  a part to play but that should be a small part in comparison to our own efforts.

Government should create the environment for growth but it doesn’t create jobs. Those come from businesses and they’re much more likely to grow in places which are vibrant and welcoming and with a culture that celebrates enterprise and success.

Not fit to govern

September 12, 2013

Shane Jones has said what many outside the party have known for a long time:

“. . . the Labour caucus is unfit to govern,” Mr Jones said.

A party riven by factions and disunity, focussed on its own internal machinations and personalities can’t even run itself, let alone try to run the country.

But worse than all this are the policies its three aspiring leaders are offering – sugar for their supporters, sour grapes for those they envy and barely a sign of anything vaguely nutritious or sustaining for anyone else.



Death close to home

September 12, 2013

A phone call yesterday told us a man had been murdered in our neighbourhood.

Further reports on the grapevine haven’t been confirmed.

Police are just saying a man died suddenly and can’t confirm if it was suspicious.

Whatever happened, it’s very sad for those who knew him and if it was the result of crime, it’s far too close to home.

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