Word of the day

November 7, 2013

Sophrosyne – temperance, moderation; soundness of mind; discretion; prudence.; a healthy state of mind characterised by self-control, moderation and a deep awareness of one’s true self resulting in true happiness.


Wilkinson, Shanks won’t seek re-election

November 7, 2013

National MPs Kate Wilkinson and Katrina Shanks have announced they won’t be seeking re-election.

Kate entered parliament as a list MP and won the Waimakariri electorate in 2011.

She was Minister of Labour and Conservation until earlier this year.

“It has been a fantastic privilege to have been both an MP and a Cabinet Minister in the John Key-led Government,” Kate Wilkinson said.

“It has been humbling and satisfying being able to help constituents in the area – especially following the Canterbury earthquake events, when we all learnt so much as a region and as a country.

“One of the most satisfying achievements was obtaining funding for the North Canterbury Health Hub and I certainly want to see that through.

“I first stood as the National Party candidate for Waimakariri in 2005, taking Waimakariri from being a Labour stronghold to ultimately becoming a National seat. Winning the electorate vote in the 2011 election was an absolute thrill.

“I had in mind in 2005 that I would stand for election for three terms. I feel that it is now time to consider fresh challenges and opportunities. I will remain focused on working for the people of Waimakariri until the election and look forward to supporting National’s new candidate.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Waimakariri for their ongoing support and for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of so many exciting projects which have assisted in making Waimakariri such a special place.”

Katrina has been in the unenviable position of standing in Ohariu but not seriously contesting the list vote in order to help Peter Dunne hold the seat.

“It has been an incredible privilege to serve in the John Key-led Government,” Katrina Shanks said.

“New Zealand now has one of the strongest economies in the world, an education system which focuses on every child, a healthcare system which is responsive to patients’ needs in a timely manner, and most importantly considers families to be the cornerstone of this great country.

“Working as an MP it has been an honour to be able to meet so many great New Zealanders, especially those who give to our communities through their volunteer work and make a real difference to so many people’s lives.

“I came into Parliament wanting to put the spotlight back on families and highlight the important role which they play in our society today. The work I have performed both in my select committee roles and policy development has allowed me to contribute greatly in this area.

“Working across three Wellington electorates has meant that I have made many friends and been supported by many people. I thank these people for their support of the work that I have undertaken.

“I have decided that now is the right time to leave my career in politics, and look to spend more time being closer to my young family. I look forward to taking up new challenges outside of Parliament.”

These announcements follow similar ones from Chris Tremain, Chris Auckinvole, Paul Hutchison, Cam Calder  and Phil Heatley, and Bill English’s decision to seek a list spot rather than contesting the Clutha Southland seat.

National lost a lot of MPs in 2002 but had big intakes in 2005 and 2008 as well as some new MPs in 2011 and two since then.

This is providing good opportunities for renewal which is healthy and will enable National to campaign with a lot of fresh faces.


Rural round-up

November 7, 2013

DairyNZ ramps up investment in environmental area:

DairyNZ is boosting dairy farmers’ investment in the environmental area by 61 percent in this financial year, from $6.7 million to $11 million as part of its efforts to meet its commitments under the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management.

DairyNZ Chief Executive, Tim Mackle, says the environmental portfolio is helping farmers boost profits while lowering their environmental impact, supporting farmer-led waterway improvement projects and investing in nutrient management research and resources. “It also supports our industry’s new dairy farming strategy and our objective to have proactive environmental stewardship.

“Biosecurity is also a big investment at $16 million but even this funding has environmental benefits as we are the largest non-government funder of the TBfree programme that focuses a lot on possum control with clear biodiversity benefits,” he says. . .

Landcorp focus will stay at home – Alan Williams:

Landcorp is getting approaches to develop and manage farms overseas but is busy enough in New Zealand.

The magnitude of its work in NZ and the opportunities ahead made expansion offshore unlikely, new chief executive Steven Carden said.

Three months into his posting at the State-owned farmer, he is working through a strategy review with the board, taking stock of where they are and the opportunities ahead. . .

Challenges to food industry for feeding the world:

Finding innovative ways to utilise waste, a greater focus on consumer driven research, and increased Government investment are just some of the challenges facing the food industry in New Zealand according to Lincoln University’s Professor of Food Science, Charles Brennan .

Professor Brennan was speaking as part of the Foods for Now and the Future Forum held at Lincoln University last week. The forum was arranged by the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology.

On the subject of wastage in food production and consumption he noted that some 50% of packaged salad greens and 40% of bread and cereals may be discarded in some countries around the world. However, utilising smarter production methods and taking a more innovative approach when it comes to wastage could mean up to one billion people could be fed worldwide. . .

Fonterra Strengthens Its Position in Australia:

Fonterra has today further strengthened its position in the Australian dairy industry by acquiring the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy.

Under the agreement, Fonterra will acquire the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. The acquisition is effective towards the end of November (subject to completion of the sale), with the exact date to be confirmed.

“Fonterra is a long-standing partner of Tamar Valley Dairy, and has supported and worked closely with the administrators of the family-owned business during what has recently been a difficult period for the Tasmanian business and its founders,” said Judith Swales, Managing Director, Fonterra Australia. . .

Aussie cattle empire sale fails, amid land wrangle:

A second huge Australian cattle operation has had trouble selling, with the North Australian Pastoral Company being withdrawn from the market, amid tough industry conditions and a growing debate over land ownership.

North Australian Pastoral Company’s ruling Foster family has taken down the for sale sign after six months of marketing the 58,000-square kilometre (14.3m acre) property – an area nearly twice the size of Belgium and nearly as big as the US state of West Virginia – failed to attract an “acceptable proposal”.

Besides the Foster family’s 61% stake in Napco, a 34% stake held by London-listed plantations group MP Evans was also up for sale. . .

New Directors Appointed to Board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited:

Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) has appointed three new directors to the board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited.

Mr Anthony Hannon, a merchant banker with extensive experience in tax consulting, private equity and asset management, and Ms Liz Ward (Ngāti Porou), a former Chief Executive of Deep Cove Fisheries and Wellington’s CentrePort, have been appointed for a term of three-years. Mr Alan Gourdie, an Auckland-based consultant with international management and marketing experience as a chief executive and director, has been appointed for a two-year term from 1 November. . .

Nominations in for Silver Fern Farms’ Director Elections:

Three nominations have been received for the two positions on the Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors.

Eoin Garden and David Shaw retire by rotation at the Company’s 2013 Annual Meeting which is to be held in Dunedin on 18 December 2013.

Eoin Garden has advised he will not be standing for re-election and will therefore retire at the Annual Meeting. David Shaw has advised that he will stand for re-election.

The candidates for election are:

Dan Jex-Blake
David Shaw
Richard Young . . .


What’s the #gigatownoamaru secret?

November 7, 2013

When Chorus launched it’s competition to find New Zealand’s #gigatown, Oamaru lept to the top of the points table, and it’s stayed there.

How is it doing it?

Oamaru Life has the answer:

The Chorus Gigatown campaign is only 9 days old, and yet Oamaru, a town of just 12,000 people with a reputation among New Zealanders as being where “nana lives” has turned out to be a social media barnstormer, producing over 110,000 votes to date, more than 25% of the total number of votes cast so far.

What can possibly account for this success? Well, Oamaru has proven before that when it comes to matters of civic pride, we are second to none. This was amply demonstrated when it came time to vote for New Zealand’s “sharpest town” a few months ago, which Oamaru won handily, mobilising our townspeople and our friends all over the world to vote for us (and then, too, we had more votes than the other five contenders combined).

Another reason for Oamaru’s success is that we are actually a lot more clued-in to social media and the ways of the modern world than our reputation as New Zealand’s “Victorian Town” would suggest. That’s one reason why the NZ government chose Oamaru as one of the two pilot towns to trial online census forms, rather than the traditional mail-in forms, and we wowed them with higher-than expected submission rates.

The campaign has gripped not just the town but the wider district, ex-Oamaruvians living elsewhere and our friends and relations all over the country, and the world as well.

But the competition is only 10 days old.

There’s 50 and a bit weeks to go yet and we welcome more support:

But we can use all the help from our friends around the world to help make Gigatown a reality for us (if you don’t know what’s at stake, one town in New Zealand will be chosen to be wired to the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest internet connection, turning it overnight into a magnet for high-tech investment and into an instant cutting-edge technology hub for the entire region). If you would like to help, here’s what you can do:

1. Go to the Chorus NZ Gigatown website (www.gigatown.co.nz) and click on “Join Up”, where you can register with either your Facebook or Google+ account. Then it will ask you to select the town you support. Please choose Oamaru, since doing so gives us 10 more points just like that!

2. Go to the Oamaru Gigatown Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Gigatown.Oamaru) and post on there, or comment on other posts, but always adding either #gigatownoam or #gigatownoamaru (but not both!) to your comments. It’s important that there be other meaningful text besides that tag, too, since otherwise it may appear to the Chorus watchdogs as an automated post, which would be disqualified.

3. If you’re on Twitter, then post tweets using the hashtags #gigatownoamaru or #gigatownoam (but again, not both) along with some other text, images, or whatever you like. Each of these will count as a point, as will any retweets of other posts with the same tags.

4. These same hashtags used on other social media platforms count automatically, too, such as Instagram and YouTube. Blogs on WordPress or Tumblr using the hashtags count as well, but only if you have first registered them on the Chorus Gigatown website.

The rules of the competition are subject to change at any time, and there is a lot that is still not 100% clear about the competition, so you might want to sign up for updates on a special site that Oamaru has set up, gigatown.oamaru.org.nz. There you will find all the information you could possibly want about this competition, see all the posts with Oamaru’s hashtags in one place, and generally support us in our bid to be the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest, as well as sharpest, town!

The Oamaru gigatown secret is community spirit and we’re happy for the whole world to be part of that community.


Thursday’s quiz

November 7, 2013

Another one of those fortnights this week so I’m leaving the questions up to you.

An electronic batch of shortbread is on offer to anyone who stumps us all with a bonus batch for anyone who incorporates #gigatownoamaru in questions or answers.


Do we need more mining?

November 7, 2013

Last night The Vote asked if New Zealand needs more mining.

Here’s the answer:

Norway shows what mining can do for an economy without compromising the environment.


Farmer confidence at 5-year high

November 7, 2013

There’s an air of optimism in rural communities and that’s been confirmed by a Rabobank survey:

Confidence among New Zealand farmers is at its highest level in five years,
buoyed by strong dairy prices and an improving outlook in the red meat sector.

The latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey – completed late last month – has showed New Zealand farmers are increasingly optimistic about the outlook for both their own enterprises and the overall agricultural sector.

After registering a large rally last quarter, confidence in the overall rural economy remained at high levels, with 54 per cent of farmers expecting conditions to improve over the next 12 months (the same as last survey) and only six per cent expecting them to worsen (down from eight per cent).

Farmers’ expectations of their own businesses had also climbed, with 57 per cent expecting their farm business performance to improve over the coming year (up from 55 per cent previously) and only five per cent expecting it to deteriorate (compared with 10 per cent last survey).

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said while spring was typically the time farmer confidence was at its highest, the current favourable climatic conditions, combined with improving product returns across most agricultural sectors, had increased confidence even further this year.

Mr Russell said dairy farmer confidence had remained at similar elevated levels seen in the previous survey, in the wake of a record milk price forecast for the current season (at NZD 8.30/kgMS) and generally very good spring conditions lifting milk production.

“Dairy farmers are reporting the same high levels of confidence we have been seeing in the sector since the middle of the year, with their optimism being driven particularly by high commodity prices, good overseas markets and the current milk price forecast, “ he said.

Mr Russell noted that while dairy farmer confidence was very high, there was likelihood that dairy commodities prices would ease from record high levels into 2014. “And this is something Rabobank believes should be factored into producers’ planning and budgets for next season,” he said.

For sheep and beef farmers, more than half (56 per cent) now reported they were expecting the agricultural economy to improve in the next 12 months, up from 52 per cent with that expectation previously.

The number of sheep and beef farmers expecting their own farm business performance to improve also increased, to nearly half (49 per cent), climbing from 45 per cent.

Mr Russell said improving commodity prices were buoying the red meat sector, with lower stock numbers – particularly less availability of lambs – following last summer’s drought contributing to the positive outlook for commodity prices among farmers.

“At the start of the new processing season, farmgate prices are two to three per cent ahead of the prior year for lamb,” he said.

The Rabobank survey showed New Zealand farmers’ investment intentions remained strong, with 94 per cent of those surveyed expecting to increase or maintain the level of investment in their farm businesses (compared with 92 per cent in the previous survey).

“Sheep and beef farmers’ investment intentions have shown the greatest improvement,” Mr Russell said. “A total of 95 per cent of farmers in this sector reported they intended to maintain or increase investment in their businesses. This was up from 91 per cent last survey and from more than 83 per cent 12 months ago.”

In line with the overall high confidence levels, farm viability was also up – with 68 per cent of farmers considering their business viable or easily viable. This was an increase from 60 per cent in the previous survey.

“Importantly, sheep and beef farmers’ assessment of their own viability has increased to 54 per cent (up from 48 per cent previously), pushing back into net positive territory for the first time in 2013,” Mr Russell said.

Any dairy farmers who aren’t confident now almost certainly have problems of their own making.

It’s not often good production and a high payout happen at the same time, but it is this season.

The outlook isn’t as rosy for sheep and beef farmers but it is still positive.

This is very good for the rural sector, it’s good for the wider economy where at last employment is growing and unemployment is falling.

Latest labour market data shows continuing growth in employment and decrease in unemployment as the economy strengthens, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

Today’s Household Labour Force Survey shows employment was up by 1.2 per cent – 27,000 people – in the September quarter and 2.4 per cent in the year to September – 53,000 people.

The unemployment rate fell from 6.4 per cent in the previous quarter to 6.2 per cent.

“While unemployment is still higher than we would like, it has declined from 7.2 per cent a year ago, and the overall trend is of an improving labour market as the economy picks up. The Government is working across a number of fronts to help bring the rate down further,” Mr Joyce says.

“The economy grew at around 2.5 per cent in the year to June 2013, one of the highest rates in the OECD.

“Our participation rate grew to 68.6 per cent, up 0.5 percentage points, and remains significantly higher than Australia’s at 65 per cent.”

Wages continue to rise faster than inflation. Average weekly earnings rose 2.9

per cent in the last year, compared to inflation of 1.4 per cent.

The NEET rate for 15 – 24 year olds – youth not in employment, education or training – continued to fall, to 11.4 per cent over the quarter, the lowest since December 2008. The NEET rate for 20 – 24 year olds fell by 1.8 to 14.1 per cent.

“Momentum in the New Zealand economy is continuing to grow, with September’s trade data confirming the recovery from last summer’s drought is underway, along with the highest increase in permanent and long-term migration in over a decade,” Mr Joyce says.

Business confidence rose to 14 year highs in September’s Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion and in October’s ANZ Business Outlook.The recent Grant Thorndon International Business Report puts New Zealand sixth out of 44 economies in terms of business confidence. . .

These two surveys add another couple of stones to the foundation of good news which is helping to build that brighter future we were promised.

In #gigatownoamaru confidence is building too as the town seeks to become the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest town.


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