Word of the day

January 17, 2014

Dormiveglia  – the space that stretches between sleeping and waking.


Rural round-up

January 17, 2014

Huge potential in textile blend – Annette Scott:

A new wool and rice straw blended textile will create huge opportunities for New Zealand wool, Wellington designer Bernadette Casey says.

The new eco-blend upholstery fabric has been developed by Wellington textile design and development company The Formary, co-founded four years ago by managing director Casey and Gisborne designer Sally Shanks.

The fabric will go into production in the next three months.

A visit in December to the top 10 North American furniture makers and distributors to present samples and start building interest boosted their confidence for the new textile.

“There is a huge shift happening away from synthetics to the more sustainable virgin yarns and textiles,” Casey said. . .

Milk collection up on last season and rising – Hugh Stringleman:

The favourable influences of regular rain and good pasture growth should show in the milk figures when compared with last year’s widespread late-summer and autumn drought.

Daily collection figures last week for six of Fonterra’s eight regional zones were 4-8% higher than last January, which illustrates how quickly milk production fell away last season.

While no one is predicting yet a repeat of the bumper autumn of 2012, rain patterns and soil-moisture figures promise a strong finish to the season for the majority of dairy farmers.

Farmers have a powerful incentive in the $8.30 a kilogram milksolids payout forecast to maximise production and prolong milking with supplementary feed if needed. . .

People management key for farm expansion – Lisa Deeney:

UK farmer Ed Dale spoke at today’s Positive Farming conference on the importance of people management for farm enterprises in the run up to the abolition of dairy quotas in 2015.

From Cheshire, his family’s farm business has over the past 10 years expanded from managing 220 cows in one herd with one employee to managing 2,000 cows in six herds over a 45-mile radius. He now has 14 full-time employees and 15 part-time.

In terms of advice for people management, he said it was vital to start with the right people. . .

Irish wasp may need help moving west:

Increasing clover root weevil populations are being seen on the West Coast, but the AgResearch-introduced biocontrol is hot on its tail.

Clover root weevil being stalked by its biocontrol agent

AgResearch entomologists Dr Scott Hardwick and Mark McNeill, based at the Lincoln Campus in Canterbury, have been tracking the spread of clover root weevil (CRW) in the South Island, so that they know if and where to release the Irish wasp, a very effective biocontrol agent for this serious pest of white clover.

Sampling last winter and early spring for the DairyNZ-funded biocontrol project has revealed that the weevil is now present through much of the northern parts of the West Coast. AgResearch is now asking southern West Coast farmers who suspect they may have the weevil to get in touch, so they can be sure the wasp keeps apace of the problem. . . 

Comparison of NZ and Australian red meat export markets – Allan Barber:

A cursory analysis of beef and lamb exports from New Zealand and Australia shows some similarities as well as some significant differences between them.

Some of these variations are due to quota constraints, notably New Zealand’s historical access to the EU for lamb, others to product type, such as Australia’s beef exports to North Asia and the growing influence of dairy beef in this country.

Australia exports roughly three times as much beef as New Zealand, although the US market takes comparable volumes of beef from both countries, 212, 000 MT versus 175,000 MT in the latest 12 months for which statistics are available. However a far higher proportion of our exports is in grinding beef for the hamburger trade. . .

The felfie: how farmers are embracing social media

Farmers are posting their ‘felfies’ online, but it’s not just for fun – social media is a lifeline for people in a lonely profession.

Pouting at a camera isn’t the preserve of trendy young urbanites. The “felfie” – or selfie snapped on the farm – is taking off, with farmers posting photos of themselves next to their favourite sheep, cow or tractor.

Farmingselfie.com, a blog set up by Essex farmer @willwilson100, collects the latest felfies from around the world – showcasing rural working lives everywhere from Finland to Argentina. . .

Apprentice Chef’s Foodie Adventure Thanks to Fonterra:

Fonterra Foodservice, in partnership with William Angliss Institute, held the inaugural Fonterra Foodies Adventure Competition at the William Angliss Open Day 2013. The competition was designed to provide the Institute’s Level 3 Professional Cookery Apprentices with an opportunity to cook with Fonterra dairy products while presenting a main and dessert to a panel of four judges.

Matthew Moffat, a third year apprentice from the Society Restaurant in Melbourne, was named winner of the event.

Matthew won a five day, culinary immersion tour of New Zealand, visiting dairy farms, Fonterra factories and working at two award winning restaurants in Auckland, The Grove and The French Cafe.

Matthew’s main recipe was a “Good ol’ Caesar salad”, a recreation of a classic dish using modern methods. . .


Friday’s answers

January 17, 2014

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.?

2. What are the seven deadly sins?

3. In which poem by John Milton were the seven deadly sins included?

4. Who wrote Bonfire of the Vanities?

5. Is the statement in #1 right?

Points for answers:

Andrei wins an electronic box of Moorpark apricots for a clean sweep and a bonus for the added information about hubris.

Grant gets four points and a bonus for honesty.

PDM gets three and a welcome back.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Numbers trump community of interest

January 17, 2014

The Manawatu Evening Standard opines on the importance of community of interest in electorates:

The Horowhenua towns of Shannon and Tokomaru are fighting moves to shift them out of the Otaki electorate and into Rangitikei, and the arguments they make for staying put are compelling.

After last year’s census, the Representation Commission proposed electorate boundary changes based on a formula which ensures each electorate has a similar number of people.

While it’s important the commission ensures voters around the country have equal representation, a numerically-focused formula is a blunt tool that can be blind to the nuances of community dynamics and geographical spheres of influence. . .

It is a blunt tool but it is designed to ensure all electorates have the same number of people in them with a tolerance of 5% more or fewer:

The Electoral Act 1993 imposes strict electoral population limits binding on the Commission.  These provide an overall constraint to ensure that there are approximately equal numbers of people in each electorate so that they have equality of representation in Parliament.  All electorates must contain electoral populations varying not more than ±5% from the following quotas which are calculated in accordance with the Act:

The population for each electorate is based on last year’s census:

The North Island quota is 59, 731 with a 5% allowance of +/- 2,986.

The South Island quota is 59,679 with a 5% allowance of  +/-2,983.

Maori electorates have a quota of 60,141 with a 5% tolerance of 3,007.

Within those allowances the Commission, in dividing New Zealand into General electorates, is required by law to give due consideration to:

  • existing electoral district boundaries,
  • community of interest,
  • facilities of communications,
  • topographical features, and
  • any projected variation in the general electoral population of those districts during their life. 

In dividing New Zealand into the Māori electoral districts the Commission is required by law to give due consideration to:

  • the existing boundaries of the Māori electoral districts,
  • community of interest among the Māori people generally and members of Māori iwi,
  • facilities of communications,
  • topographical features, and
  • any projected variation in the Māori electoral population of those districts during their life.

MMP has made provincial and rural electorates far too big, geographically.

Increasing the tolerance to 10% would improve that somewhat. Adding another couple of thousand people to a small urban electorate wouldn’t make much difference to it but taking a couple of thousand people from a large rural one would make it more manageable for MPs and their constituents.

The editorial continues:

The problem with the proposed change is that it not only ignores the close community connection those towns have with the Otaki electorate, but also overlooks the implications of making the already huge Rangitikei electorate even bigger.

Subsequent MPs for Rangitikei have justifiably highlighted the difficulties in providing effective representation to people in an electorate that spans from Linton in the south to Taumarunui in the north. Making it geographically bigger and adding more constituents is only to make that situation worse.

If a more holistic view was taken, the commission would surely have concluded that, despite its population dropping, Rangitikei constituents were actually receiving less genuine representation than voters living in electorates with more people. . .

Rangitikei now covers an area of 12,189 square kilometres. That’s big but 13 are bigger.

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Northland

12,255

Contrast that with the 14 smallest electorates:

Maungakiekie

37

Botany

36

Tamaki

36

Mt Albert

34

Manukau East

31

Pakuranga

29

Christchurch Central

28

Ilam

27

Northcote

27

Rongotai

27

Te Atatu

27

North Shore

25

Mt Roskill

24

Epsom

23

The editorial is right that people in the larger electorates can’t possibly receive the same representation as those in the smaller ones, no matter how good the MPs are.

There are two simple ways to improve that: increase the population tolerance to 10% or add another general electorate to the South Island.

Electorate size is determined by dividing the South Island population by 16, adding an electorate would divide it by 17.

The Representation Commission has received 409 objections to proposed electorate boundary changes:

“Objections include suggestions for electorate name changes and changes to boundaries to reflect their communities of interest.  Some objectors want to see the existing electorate boundaries retained,” says Bernard Kendall, Chair of the Representation Commission.

“A summary of the objections is now available for people to make counter-objections,” says Mr Kendall.

People have until 5:00pm, Wednesday 29 January to make counter-objections.  Counter-objections can be made online at www.elections.org.nz, or sent by post, email or fax.  The Commission will take the counter-objections into account when deciding the final boundaries. 

A summary of the objections can be viewed online at www.elections.org.nz or printed copies can be viewed at libraries, Registrar of Electors’ offices, Council offices or Council service centres, Te Puni Kōkiri regional offices, Māori Land Court offices and Rūnanga offices.

Electorates that have generated the most comment include:

  • Mt Roskill with 128 objections including two form submissions from 600 people and one petition with 38 signatures.  The majority of objections oppose an area within the existing Epsom electorate moving into the Mt Roskill electorate.
  • Maungakiekie with 24 objections mainly opposed to the proposed boundary with the Tāmaki electorate around Stonefields.
  • Helensville with 37 objections most of which oppose the geographic size of the electorate and the wide range of communities to be represented.
  • Mt Albert with 17 objections opposed to the splitting of Grey Lynn from Auckland Central.
  • Kelston with 16 objections mainly opposed to the inclusion of the Te Atatu South area in the Kelston electorate rather than the Te Atatū electorate.  There are also objections about the inclusion of Waterview in Kelston.
  • New Lynn with six objections including two petitions with over 180 signatures, opposed to the transfer of population from Mt Roskill to New Lynn and changes that split the New Lynn community.
  • Taranaki-King Country with 25 objections mainly opposed to the inclusion of Temple View, which is currently in the Hamilton West electorate.
  • Port Hills with 19 objections including one petition with over 60 signatures, opposed to the Halswell area moving from the existing Selwyn electorate into the Port Hills electorate.  A number of objectors suggested it should be named ‘Banks Peninsula’.
  • Christchurch Central with 15 objections including a petition with over 20 signatures, opposed to the northern boundary with the Waimakariri electorate.  A number of objectors suggest it should be named ‘Avon’ or ‘Ōtākaro’.
  • Christchurch East with 11 objections including one petition with over 200 signatures, opposed to the inclusion of the Bromley area in the Port Hills electorate.  There are also objections to the proposal to move Mairehau and part of St Albans from Christchurch Central to Christchurch East. 
  • Selwyn with 10 objections including one petition with 180 signatures, opposed to the communities of Hornby, Islington and Hei Hei moving into Selwyn from Wigram and two objections about Rakaia moving into Selwyn from Rangitata.

409 objections compares with 331 objections received when the boundaries were last redrawn in 2007.

The Representation Commission plans to hold public hearings between 10 and 19 February.  The final boundaries will be released on 17 April.

If objectors in Rangitikei are arguing that it should have fewer people than the law allows they will get nowhere.

They are on strong ground in arguing about community of interest but if Shannon and Tokomaru stay in Otaki, people from other areas will have to go into Rangitikei.


Roger Lloyd-Pack 8.2.44 – 15.1.14

January 17, 2014

Roger Lloyd Pack, better known as Trigger in only Fools and Horses and Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley, has died.

 

 

 


Media must be open about bias

January 17, 2014

The strong links between Scoop journalist and the Internet Party have raised questions about its claim to be the leading independent news publication in New Zealand:

Scoop.co.nz is New Zealand’s leading news resource for news-makers and the people that influence the news (as opposed to a news site for “news consumers”).

It brings together the information that is creating the news as it is released to the media, and is therefore a hub of intelligence for the professionals (not just media) that shape what we read.

Scoop.co.nz presents all the information driving the news of the day in the form it is delivered to media creating a “no spin” media environment and one that provides the full context of what is “reported” as news later in the day.

It’s audience has a circle of influence far greater than the number of reported readers, which averages more than 450 000 a month, and it is a key part of the New Zealand media landscape.

Scoop.co.nz is accredited to the New Zealand Parliament Press Gallery and fed by a multitude of Business, Non-Government-Organisation, Regional Government and Public Relations communication professionals.

We are the leading independent news publication in New Zealand and value our independence strongly. . .

It does present media releases as they are written without editing.

But anyone familiar with opinion pieces from the likes of Gordon Campbell would be aware of a left-wing bias.

There’s nothing wrong with a bias in a media organisation like this providing it is declared.

Apropos of which I note that in the on-line version of Josie Pagani’s tale of two stories she is described as a political commentator, communications consultant, and former Labour candidate.

The print edition just called her a political commentator and communications consultant.

Omitting the reference to her former candidacy in the print edition did a disservice to readers who are entitled to know the bias of a political commentator.


Labour will meddle in power market

January 17, 2014

Labour is planning to follow through on its policy to meddle in the power market if it is in government:

. . . Labour and the Greens unveiled plans to overhaul New Zealand’s electricity market on the eve of the government’s MightyRiverPower selldown last year. The operator of nine hydro stations on the Waikato River has traded below its $2.50 IPO price since just after the sale last May.  Meridian Energy, sold in October, is hovering around its listing price.

The opposition parties want to create a single, state-owned power buyer and a restructured pricing model, to eliminate excessive power company profits and pass savings onto consumers through cheaper electricity prices.

“A wise investor will be aware if the pricing model changes, in this case to stop the profiteering of public rivers, that will change the companies’ profits,” Parker, who would be finance minister in a Labour government, told BusinessDesk.

“Investors are already discounting those stocks because of what might happen if we win,” he said. “It’s actually a good example of how the market works.” . . .

If they can reduce the value of companies and the wealth of investors this much when they’re in opposition, they will do much worse in government.

Investors have already assessed the threat. The New Zealand stock exchange energy group index, which includes all listed power companies along with Z Energy and NZ Refining, has dropped 9.6 percent in the past 12 months, while the NZX 50 Index has rallied about 17 percent.

“Some people just won’t touch them because they are scared of a Labour-Greens government,” said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. “Others say because they’re dirt cheap people are pessimistic. If National got re-elected they’d go up again.”

A potential change of government may pose risks to other sectors as well, he said.

“Regulatory risk is weighing on those sectors which could be in for attention from a Labour government,” Lister said. “The market is aware of the sectors susceptible to regulation – SkyCity, the electricity sector and Chorus have a cloud hanging over them, which will continue to the election.” . . .

If there’s a Labour/Green/New Zealand Firs/Mana and whichever else party after the election that cloud will darken.


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