Rural round-up


Speech to the New Zealand Society of Large Dams (NZSOLD) – Nathan Guy:

. . . For over a century, dams and the infrastructure associated with them have been a vital but often overlooked part of the fabric of this country.

Back in the 1880s, gold dredgers dammed a tributary of the Shotover River to provide hydropower for the nearby mine.

Early freezing works and dairy factories ran on hydro and it even helped power early municipal lighting at Reefton on the West Coast.

Today we still tend to associate dams with generating electricity for the national grid.

We think of Benmore, Tekapo and Clyde in the South Island, and the massive Tongariro Power Development here in the North.

Dams – a variety of roles

In fact dams and reservoirs  – large and small – contribute to our society in a variety of ways. . .

Dairy farmers show they can deliver:

Federated Farmers commends its dairy farmers and Fonterra for the effort that has gone in to fencing off 20,400km of farm waterways.

“This is a great feat by our dairy farmers to help improve water quality, as around 90 percent of our dairy members are Fonterra farmers,” says Willy Leferink Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman.

“In two weeks time we are looking to have 24,400 km of waterways fenced off, which is half way around the world, if you count the second wire we’ve gone all the way. These are the first steps on a long and winding road to a positive and sustainable dairy future. . .

Speech to Executive Roundtable, Bangkok, Thailand – Nathan Guy:

It gives me great pleasure to speak to you today about global food security, and New Zealand’s journey to become a ‘kitchen of the world’.

Coming from a nation of 4.5 million people that feeds 40 million people around the world, I would like to offer a few insights on the topic.

New Zealand’s story

New Zealand has always been a farming and food producing nation. It is our passion, and part of our DNA.

The introduction of refrigeration in the 1880s meant we could export our meat and dairy products overseas, and for a long time we were known as the United Kingdom’s farm.

Things changed in 1973 however when the UK joined the European Economic Community, which meant losing our privileged market access.

This was a massive wake-up call for us as a nation, and forced us to diversify into new markets. It was the beginning of a major period of change. . .

Researchers get in behind working dogs – Sally Rae:

Dogs might be man’s best friend but on many New Zealand farms they are also often their best employees.

A research project has been launched to look at New Zealand working dogs’ health, welfare and survival.

The TeamMate project is being led by Dr Lori Linney, from Vetlife Alexandra, who will work alongside Dr Naomi Cogger, from the EpiCentre at Massey University, the largest veterinary epidemiology training and research centre in Australasia. . .

Hot air could control some weeds – researcher:

The Future Farming Centre in Lincoln is looking for funding to field test a non-chemical method of weed control, using heat.

The centre has adapted a Danish thermal system which uses steam to kill weed seeds in the soil, before crops are planted.

The centre’s head, Dr Charles Merfield, says using hot air instead instead of steam would be just as effective and use a lot less fuel. . .

te Pā is Pure Gold at 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

A 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from the critically-acclaimed te Pā Wines has won a prestigious Pure Gold Medal in the Air New Zealand Wine Awards held on 12 November. The Pure category awards 100% sustainably grown and produced wines.

With grapes from te Pā vineyard in the historically significant Wairau Bar in the Marlborough region, the 2013 te Pā Sauvignon Blanc was noted for its vibrance and concentration by this year’s 26-strong expert judging panel.

te Pā Director and Proprietor Haysley MacDonald says: “To see our Sauvignon Blanc take out a top medal in New Zealand’s pre-eminent wine awards highlights the passion, innovation and expertise of our team and it also showcases the quality and sustainability of the wines we produce. . .

OED word of year


The Oxford English Dictionary word of the year is selfie.

The decision was unanimous this year, with little if any argument. This is a little unusual. Normally there will be some good-natured debate as one person might champion their particular choice over someone else’s. But this time, everyone seemed to be in agreement almost from the start. Other words were considered, as you will see from our shortlist, but selfie was the runaway winner. It’s not a new word. For starters, it has already been included in Oxford Dictionaries Online (although not yet in the Oxford English Dictionary), and we wrote about it as part of our occasional Words on the Radar series back in June 2012. But our Word of the Year need not be a new word. However, it does need to demonstrate some kind of prominence over the preceding year or so and selfie certainly fits the bill. It seems like everyone who is anyone has posted a selfie somewhere on the Internet. If it is good enough for the Obamas or The Pope, then it is good enough for Word of the Year. . .

The first use was on an Australian internet forum in 2002.

The term’s early origins seem to lie in social media and photosharing sites like Flickr and MySpace. But usage of it didn’t become widespread until the second decade of this century and it has only entered really common use in the past year or so. Self-portraits are nothing new – people have been producing them for centuries, with the medium and publication format changing. . .

Its linguistic productivity is already being seen by the creation of a number of related terms, showcasing particular parts of the body like helfie (a picture of one’s hair) and belfie (a picture of one’s posterior); a particular activity – welfie (workout selfie) and drelfie (drunken selfie), and even items of furniture – shelfie and bookshelfie. . . .


Perverse Midas touch


Labour is trying to pretend its rediscovered the regions and has been showing the love by talking them down.

Once more the facts don’t support their rhetoric:

New Zealand’s economic recovery continues to be led by the regions, the latest ANZ Regional Trends report released today shows.

The report highlights that 12 out of 14 regions recorded a rise in economic activity in the September quarter and year-on year this was the strongest rate of increase since December 2004.

According to ANZ, the North Island, led by Taranaki, expanded 4 per cent in the year to September – a nine year high – while the South Island’s annual increase was higher at 4.6 per cent. Canterbury again recorded the strongest annual average rate of economic growth, increasing 6.2 per cent in the 12 months to September.

“ANZ’s report follows other recent positive economic indicators with business confidence at its highest level since 1994, the manufacturing sector in expansion for the last 11 months, and the net inflow of migrants in September being strongest since July 2003.

“The latest Regional Trends report makes a nonsense of the Opposition’s claims that New Zealand’s regions and towns are being ‘gutted’. The reality is it’s our regions that are leading New Zealand out of the Global Financial Crisis.

“This data will embarrass the Labour Party and comes on the back of other recent gaffes such as the “manufacturing crisis’ and the bizarre claim of a regional exodus the day before the Census results came out. Labour leader David Cunliffe was left red-faced when official statistics showed all but one region grew in size from 2006 to 2013 and he should be red-faced again.

“If it wants to Labour can keep talking down our regions and the performance of our economy. But only the National Government’s comprehensive Business Growth Agenda is creating jobs and lifting business confidence and growth in our regions and right across New Zealand.”

The report on the Business Growth Agenda is here.
The ANZ Regional Trends report shows that good economic news is translating into jobs:

Employment posted its strongest increase in 6½ years, led by a large lift in Otago.
The unemployment rate improved in all regions from the central North Island and

Labour tried to manufacture a manufacturing crisis and manufacturing has improved.

It’s been spreading gloom about the regions when they’re doing well.

It’s a bit like a perverse Midas touch – whatever it says is bad is really as good as gold.

#gigatownoamaru is going for gold in its quest to be the southern hemisphere’s first giagtown.

Keep it clean


Keep it Clean this was the message from Bruce Wills in his address to Federated Farmers 2013 National Council:

. . . It will not come as a surprise that Federated Farmers biggest area of work and advocacy continues to be water. How we use it more efficiently whilst maintaining and improving its quality.

Most of our towns and cities store water to ensure their residents don’t run out of this valuable resource during the dry summer months. We need to get better at applying this same logic to our rural areas through water storage. The big challenge is how we can continue to grow farming but to do this with less impact upon the environment.

Why is storing water for urban use accepted but storing it for agriculture attracts so much opposition?

. . . This water debate is complex and it will take time.

The farming community must remain a leader in this debate. I want to acknowledge Ian and our respected water policy team for the good work they continue to do in this area.

Water does not instantly degrade but reflects cumulative actions over a period of time. Those actions may be farm related, they may be industrial and in some instances, they may be natural.

The Otago Regional Council found seagulls were to blame for low water quality in the Kakanui River.

Getting good science is the starting point for the rational discussion we sometimes haven’t held when it comes to water. In two days time, Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, will release her much anticipated water quality report.

Parts of this report, frankly, will not be kind to agriculture but to improve we all need to understand what the problem is, what the science is telling us and then move to sensible solutions. We need to ask our communities what their aspirations are for water and what they are prepared to pay economically, socially and culturally.

As farmers, we have perhaps been guilty in the past of farming in denial about the nutrients we lose from our farms. This has changed thanks to the Land & Water Forum process. Diffuse nitrogen loss to water, as opposed to the direct loss you typically see in political cartoons, represents our biggest challenge but also, our biggest opportunity.

There is far greater recognition from farmers of the impact their practices can have on water and far greater effort into reducing it.

I have commented previously about my recent learning’s from World Water Week in Sweden. Compared to the rest of the world, New Zealand is in a lucky and privileged position when it comes to both the quantity and quality of our water.

It worries me that as a country we risk beating ourselves up around our water concerns. Of course we can and must do better but we do need to keep things in perspective.

The world is a hungry and growing place with an amazing 2.3 billion more stomachs due to join the human race between now and the year 2050. It is the sale of our food and primary commodities which helps to pay much of this country’s bills. Farmers share the aspiration to live in a prosperous and beautiful country with bountiful clean water for all.

This is the challenge of our time and I can confidently report that we are making steady progress. . .

Comparing our water standards with those in other countries isn’t an excuse to accept less than optimal practices here or rest on our laurels where we’re getting it right.

Discussion on what needs to be improved and how to do it must be based on science and an understanding of what can be done and what that will cost.

Monty Python Flying Circus will fly again


More than 30 years after its last show, Monty Python is coming back:

The original members of Monty Python will reunite more than 30 years after the comedy troupe last worked together.

John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Michael Palin will officially announce their reformation at a London press conference on Thursday. The five surviving members have reportedly been in months of secret talks about getting the Flying Circus back on the road. . . .

Could it be as good in reprise as it was in retrospect?

Clicking on the link above will take you to a link to the show’s five best sketches.





The surviving members of Monty Python, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Michael Palin have agreed to reunite for a new stage show

Oh to be so lucky



November 20 in history


284 – Diocletian was chosen as Roman Emperor.

762 – During An Shi Rebellion, Tang Dynasty, with the help of Huihe tribe, recaptured Luoyang from the rebels.

1194 – Palermo was conquered by Emperor Henry VI.

1407 – A truce between John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy and Louis of Valois, Duke of Orléans was agreed under the auspices of John, Duke of Berry.

1695 – Zumbi, the last of the leaders of Quilombo dos Palmares in Brazil, was executed.

1620 – Peregrine White, was born – first English child born in the Plymouth Colony (d. 1704).

1700 – Great Northern War: Battle of Narva – King Charles XII of Sweden defeated the army of Tsar Peter the Great at Narva.

1739 – Start of the Battle of Porto Bello between British and Spanish forces during the War of Jenkins’ Ear.

1765 Sir Thomas Fremantle, British naval captain, was born (d. 1819).

1820 – An 80-ton sperm whale attacked the Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts) 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America (Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick was in part inspired by this story).

1841 – Maketu Wharetotara, the 17-year-old son of the Nga Puhi chief Ruhe, killed five people at Motuarohia in the Bay of Islands.

Mass murder in the Bay of Islands

1845 – Argentine Confederation: Battle of Vuelta de Obligado.

1889 – Edwin Hubble, American astronomer, was born (d. 1953).

1900 – Chester Gould, American comic strip artist, creator of Dick Tracey, was born.

1908 – Alistair Cooke, British-born journalist, was born (d. 2004).

1910 – Francisco I. Madero issued the Plan de San Luis Potosi, denouncing President Porfirio Díaz, calling for a revolution to overthrow the government of Mexico, effectively starting the Mexican Revolution.

1917 – World War I: Battle of Cambrai began.

1917 – Ukraine was declared a republic.

1923 – Rentenmark replaced the Papiermark as the official currency of Germany at the exchange rate of one Rentenmark to One Trillion (One Billion on the long scale) Papiermark.

1925 Robert F. Kennedy, American politician was born (d. 1968).

1936 – Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Falange, was killed by a republican execution squad.

1937 Parachuting Santa, George Sellars, narrowly escaped serious injury when he was able to sway his parachute just in time to avoid crashing through the glass roof of the Winter Gardens during the Farmers’ Christmas parade.

Parachuting Santa crashes in Auckland Domain

1940 – World War II: Hungary becomes a signatory of the Tripartite Pact, officially joining the Axis Powers.

1942 Joe Biden, 47th Vice President of the United States, was born.

1943 – World War II: Battle of Tarawa (Operation Galvanic) begins – United States Marines land on Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands and suffer heavy fire from Japanese shore guns and machine guns.

1945 – Nuremberg Trials: Trials against 24 Nazi war criminals start at the Palace of Justice at Nuremberg.

1947 – Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey in London.

1952 – Slánský trials – a series of Stalinist and anti-Semitic show trials in Czechoslovakia.

1956 – Bo Derek, American actress, was born.

1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis ended: In response to the Soviet Union agreeing to remove its missiles from Cuba, U.S. President John F. Kennedy ended the quarantine of the Caribbean nation.

1969 – Vietnam War: The Cleveland Plain Dealer published explicit photographs of dead villagers from the My Lai massacre.

1974 – The United States Department of Justice filed its final anti-trust suit against AT&T.

1975 – Francisco Franco, Caudillo of Spain, died after 36 years in power.

1979 – Grand Mosque Seizure: About 200 Sunni Muslims revolted in Saudi Arabia at the site of the Kaaba in Mecca during the pilgrimage and take about 6000 hostages. The Saudi government received help from French special forces to put down the uprising.

1984 – The SETI Institute was founded.

1985 – Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released.

1989 – Velvet Revolution: The number of protesters assembled in Prague, Czechoslovakia swells from 200,000 the day before to an estimated half-million.

1991 – An Azerbaijani MI-8 helicopter carrying 19 peacekeeping mission team with officials and journalists from Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan was shot down by Armenian military forces in Khojavend district of Azerbaijan.

1992 – Fire broke out in Windsor Castle, badly damaging the castle and causing over £50 million worth of damage.

1993 – Savings and loan crisis: The United States Senate Ethics Committee issued a stern censure of California senator Alan Cranston for his “dealings” with savings-and-loan executive Charles Keating.

1994 – The Angolan government and UNITA rebels signed the Lusaka Protocol in Zambia, ending 19 years of civil war.

1998 – A court in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan declared accused terrorist Osama bin Laden “a man without a sin” in regard to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

1998 – The first module of the International Space Station, Zarya, was launched.

2001 – In Washington, D.C., U.S. President George W. Bush dedicated the United States Department of Justice headquarters building as the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Building, honoring the late Robert F. Kennedy on what would have been his 76th birthday.

2003 – A second day of the 2003 Istanbul Bombings destroyed the Turkish head office of HSBC Bank AS and the British consulate.

2008 – After critical failures in the US financial system began to build up after mid-September, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its lowest level since 1997.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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