Word of the day

October 9, 2013

Eructation – belching; burping, ructus; eruption: (of volcanos) pouring out fumes or lava; a deposit formed in this way.


Rural round-up

October 9, 2013

Woman wins in rare shearing feat – Sarah Marquet:

For the first time since 1985, a woman has won the senior shearing title at the New Zealand Merino Shears, held in Alexandra on Saturday.Te Atakura Crawford (26), originally of Te Karaka, near Gisborne, but working in Australia, had only been back in New Zealand a few hours before she picked up the handpiece and took on 28 other shearers from around the country.

She was not the fastest shearer in the field but made up for it in quality points, something women are known for, according to New Zealand Merino Shearing Society president Mervyn Kinaston. . .

How dung beettles will improve NZ farms –  Dan Satherley:

Around 500 dung beetles have been released in the south Wairarapa as part of a plan to improve the soil on dairy farms.

This release will be the second to take place in New Zealand, after a Southland farm introduced dung beetles to its soil last month.

The big question is, what they will actually do for our ecosystem?

Bug expert Ruud Kleinpaste says the species being introduced into the North Island are “master diggers” that will return nutrients in cow manure right back into the soil where they fall.

“Nature knows no waste – whatever you and I may think of as waste, they think is a resource,” he said on Firstline this morning. . .

Silver Fern Farms addresses capacity issues, but no progress on meat industry restructure – Allan Barber:

The only meat industry capacity rationalisation evident so far is beef not sheepmeat related. Silver Fern Farms has announced the closure of the beef chain at its Waitoa plant which it bought 18 months ago from Wallace Corporation in, what CEO Keith Cooper said at the time, was an essential contribution to the meat industry’s sustainability.

The logic behind the purchase was to take out a competitor and to provide cover for the loss of Te Aroha’s capacity from a fire. According to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Winders the plant has fulfilled its purpose, but will be retained specifically for bobby calf processing for 12 weeks of the year. Management and veterinary oversight will be provided from Te Aroha which will not be operating at full capacity during the calf season.

Although Waitoa will be mothballed for the remaining 40 weeks of the year, it can be restarted on beef in the event of a drought. There will be 17 salaried positions made redundant as a result of the transfer of beef processing and management to Te Aroha. . .

Forest growers to elect first board:

The Forest Growers Levy Trust, the new organisation representing the interests of all plantation forest owners, large and small, is calling for nominations for its first elected board.

Chair Geoff Thompson says the referendum board of the Trust has applied to associate minister for primary industries Jo Goodhew for a commodity levy on logs and some other plantation forest products. The levy order, which is expected to be issued shortly, will establish a compulsory levy that will apply from 1 January 2014.

“In anticipation of this, elections are being held for the Trust board that will administer the funds raised by the levy. Nominations will be open from 14-31 October, followed by an on-line election for board members from 5-22 November.” . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest Launches in Christchurch:

The 46th season of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest officially got underway last Friday 4th October at the Commodore Hotel in Christchurch.

There was ample turnout at the launch from Young Farmers members, volunteers and representatives from sponsors ANZ bank, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
The Contest’s compere, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, opened the proceedings and was followed by other speakers such as outgoing NZYF CEO Richard Fitzgerald and Graham Turley, Managing Director Commercial and Agri for ANZ. . .

Second National Conference on Biological Farming Systems announced due to popular demand:

A Second national conference on biological farming systems will be held on 13-14 February 2014 in Rotorua. Theme of the conference is “Biological farming under different land uses”.

Biological farming is a holistic approach to modify and improve soil conditions for beneficial microbes to increase soil microbial activity that helps speed-up nutrient cycling, and to re-establish mineral balance in the soil. It is a mix of conventional and organic farming practices involving careful crop and soil monitoring to ensure optimum yields, nutritional density and humus production.

The conference will provide a forum for discussion of a wide range of topics for current and future biological farming systems research. The programme will include two days of technical sessions of oral and poster presentations, panel discussions and scientist-farmer interaction. . .


Change of direction for Consumer NZ?

October 9, 2013

Consumer NZ used to stand up for consumers protections and rights and offer very good, unbiased, advice on products and services.

It might well still do that but i have noticed it more in the media as an advocating on wider, more political issues.

Take the call for control of marketing to children.

If the Government is serious about reversing the obesity epidemic, it must introduce tough new rules on the packaging of children’s treats, Consumer NZ says.

The consumer advocacy group is calling for the control of marketing gimmicks on food packaging – particularly cartoon characters, free toys and on-packet puzzles targeting children.

Consumer chief executive Sue Chetwin said under-13s were particularly susceptible to tricks of the advertising trade. With a person’s lifelong food preferences formed at an early age, if companies rope them in young, they’ll likely be hooked for life, the watchdog’s report says. . .

Consumer NZ has a right to advocate for whatever it wants.

But campaigns like this seem to mark a change in focus for the organisation which used to concentrate more on consumer rights and protections than a wider political agenda.


No more Maori seats good sign

October 9, 2013

The Maori Party is blaming the Electoral Commission for no increase in the number of Maori seats.

The Maori Party is disappointed at this week’s announcement from the Representation Commission, that no new Maori electorate will be created following the census and the Maori Option.

“Proper investment by electoral agencies in promoting Maori engagement with Parliamentary politics could have convinced another 4% of electors to join the Maori Roll, and secured an eighth Maori seat,” said Co-leaders Tariana Turia and Te Ururoa Flavell. 

“The Electoral Commission’s campaign did not do enough to ensure that people were fully informed of the difference between the two rolls.  The feedback we received from rangatahi is that the information provided from the Electoral Commission left them feeling that they had more choices on the general roll.”

“The Electoral Commission spent around $1.5million on the Maori Option Campaign, but measured their success based on the number of times their advertisements were viewed, not on results or ensuring that the message received by whanau were transformed into action – the action of filling in the forms and sending them back in.” . . .

It’s the Commission’s job to ensure people are informed of their options and to present the facts not to influence them one way or the other.

People are better on the general roll – most seats are smaller geographically making it easier for MPs to service and for constituents to access MPs and electorate offices.

. . . “The Maori Party will be making submissions on new boundaries for the current Maori seats – we think it is quite unrealistic for the whole of the South Island and part of the North Island to be represented by one MP, for example. The lack of access to Maori electorate MPs is a valid reason for Maori electors to opt onto the General roll – which reduces the number of Maori seats. The whole system works to disenfranchise the Treaty partner in Parliamentary politics.”

Te Tai Tonga is too big and poorer access will influence decisions on which roll to go on.

But that problem isn’t confined to Maori electorates. Some general seats are bigger than some Maori ones.

We’d all be better off if there were no Maori seats because more general seats would make all electorates smaller.

No increase in Maori seats is a good sign that people are recognising that, as Tariana Turia said, Maori seats don’t give Maori a voice.

It might also reflect that more Treaty settlements have been concluded and more Maori are moving from grievance mode to growth.


TPP on track for completion this year

October 9, 2013

The leaders of countries working towards the Trans Pacific Partnership are aiming to have negotiations completed this year:

We, the Leaders of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam, are pleased to announce today that our countries are on track to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.  Ministers and negotiators have made significant progress in recent months on all the legal texts and annexes on access to our respective goods, services, investment, financial services, government procurement, and temporary entry markets.  We have agreed that negotiators should now proceed to resolve all outstanding issues with the objective of completing this year a comprehensive and balanced, regional agreement that achieves the goals we established in Honolulu in 2011, ensures the benefits of the agreement are fully shared, and takes into account the diversity of our levels of development.

A final Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement must reflect our common vision to establish a comprehensive, next-generation model for addressing both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries.  The deepest and broadest possible liberalization of trade and investment will ensure the greatest benefits for countries’ large and small manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers, as well as workers, innovators, investors, and consumers.

We see the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with its high ambition and pioneering standards for new trade disciplines, as a model for future trade agreements and a promising pathway to our APEC goal of building a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.  We are encouraged by the growing interest in this important negotiation and are engaging with other Asia-Pacific countries that express interest in the TPP regarding their possible future participation.

Stakeholders across the region have provided valuable input to TPP negotiating teams both on-site at rounds and in our respective countries.  As we work to conclude these negotiations, we will further intensify consultations with stakeholders to craft a final agreement that appropriately addresses the interests of our citizens. We look forward to review and consideration of the outcome of our work, consistent with each of our domestic processes.

This is a significant achievement and shows a big move on the part of major economies like Japan, the USA and Canada which are still highly protected.

Improved access to markets will provide wonderful opportunities for New Zealand and the more countries with which we can trade freely the better able we will be to weather economic storms.


If winter’s here . . .

October 9, 2013

Remind me again why daylight saving starts at the end of September?

The Met Service warned of a wintry blast and they were right:

From Facebook:

Jacqui Dean MP
On the Pigroot road just inland from Palmerston. It’s snowing.
The Press:
Winter blast brings heavy snow, rain:

Cantabrians are enduring a spring cold snap with snow blanketing parts of the South Island.

Heavy rain pelted much of the region yesterday with higher areas hit by flurries of snow that settled in some places. . .

And Met Service:

met service.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

temp

 

 

 

 

It’s not unusual to get this worth of wild weather in October.

If winter’s here it’s too soon to put the clocks forward.


Heritage trumps property rights

October 9, 2013

The Property Council is deeply disappointed with the Environment Court ruling that the heritage-listed Harcourts building in Wellington’s city centre cannot be demolished.

While public safety is an obvious concern, the decision sets a dangerous precedence for all owners of historic buildings and the wider public. It fails to consider the hefty financial cost of upgrading the building to the New Building Standard (NBS), whether feasible or not.

In many cases building owners will have the will, but not the financial ability to carry out structural work when constructions costs can often be higher than the total value of the property. The unintended consequence is for the buildings to remain standing but becoming derelict – creating a greater risk to the public. . .

In a worst case scenario for Wellington, NBS requirements mean that the buildings are left for ‘demolition by neglect’ resulting in large areas of the city left vacant and causing an economic downturn in the affected areas .

Someone with historic buildings on a farm we visited a few months ago is leaving them to be demolished by neglect.

They had a plan to restore most of them but their consent was blocked by a heritage order so now they’re doing nothing and all the buildings will eventually fall down.

“Every main street in every town in New Zealand has a Harcourts type building. The construction cost of the required works would more often than not be higher than the end value of the building,” said Property Council’s Wellington branch president Andrew Hay.

In many cases the same buildings are owned by local authorities and it is in no one’s interest to cripple the finances of small towns simply for heritage preservation.

Wellington’s local government must take into account the rights of property owners in this regard if the health of its commercial property market is to be at optimum.

Property Council calls on the Government to explore financial incentives for property owners of heritage buildings to upgrade their structures to the minimum NBS.

Allowing heritage values to trump property rights without any compensation or assistance towards funding work needed to make a building safe will cause problems all around the country.

Many owners won’t be able to afford to get their buildings up to the required standard and, even if there was a case for public funding, the country’s books aren’t in a state to do so at the moment.

Given that, safety should trump heritage values and owners should be able to demolish buildings which are unsafe.


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