Word of the day

January 30, 2014

Obtuse – annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand; characterised by a lack of intelligence or sensitivity; stupid or unintelligent : not able to think clearly or to understand what is obvious or simple; slow on the uptake; not quick or alert in perception, feeling, or intellect; not sensitive or observant; dull. 2. not sharp, acute, or pointed; blunt in form; rounded at the extremity; indistinctly felt or perceived, as pain or sound; an angle of more than 90° and less than 180°.


Rural round-up

January 30, 2014

Major forest industry safety review launched:

An independent panel is to conduct a major review into the high number of serious and fatal injuries in the forest industry.

The panel members are business leader George Adams, employment health and safety lawyer Hazel Armstrong and business safety specialist Mike Cosman. Their appointment and their terms of reference have been endorsed by forest industry organisations, ACC, relevant government agencies, the NZ Council of Trade Unions and the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum.

The review, which is expected to take up to six months to complete, is being funded by the Forest Owners, Forest Industry Contractors and Farm Forestry Associations, with administrative support and other resources provided by the government’s health and safety regulator, WorkSafe New Zealand.

Forest Owners past-president Bill McCallum says the forest industry makes an important contribution to New Zealand, providing jobs, export earnings and helping to lift economic growth. . .

Forest Contractors Welcome Expert Review Team:

Following the announcement earlier today of the start of the Forest Industry Workplace Safety Review process, the original architects of the review say they are pleased with the makeup of the review team.

“It was our executive board that first raised concerns with the corporate forest managers back in March 2013” says Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) spokesman John Stulen, “so we are pleased to see that a very strong and completely independent team of experienced safety professionals has been engaged to carry out the work.”

“We’ve worked closely with the Forest Owners Association and union leaders to ensure that a robust process was put in place.

The time we have taken to set up this up and ensure the review is impartial will give piece of mind to everyone.

All workers in our industry and their families can be assured they can speak frankly and openly and expect to have their concerns heard.” . . .

Industry-led forestry inquiry welcome:

Labour Minister Simon Bridges today welcomed the announcement of an industry-led inquiry into forestry safety, which will commence next month.

“I am pleased the forestry industry has taken ownership of the inquiry as enduring safety solutions in our forests cannot be made by government enforcement alone,” Mr Bridges says.

“The number of workplace deaths and injuries in forestry is too high and any action to reduce that toll deserves support.

“The Government’s health and safety regulator, WorkSafe NZ, will make a significant contribution to the inquiry. It will provide secretariat and other support, and will also make a substantial submission. . .

Iwi seeks dam benefits:

Hawke’s Bay iwi Ngati Kahungunu wants to know how it might benefit financially from a proposed dam, without becoming an investor.

It’s one of three iwi who have made an agreement with the regional council to talk about making changes to the Ruataniwha Dam plans.

Ngati Kahungunu runanga chair Ngahiwi Tomoana says discussions will take in to account the interest of the tribal people along the river.

The tribe has asked for all information on the dam so it can examine the data and reach its own conclusion on the benefits of any water storage scheme, he says. . . .

Maori trust to build East Coast dam:

A Maori organisation has won the right to build a dam on the East Coast.

Wi Pere Trust has got the tick of approval from Gisborne District Council to store water at Whatatutu.

Supplies will be taken from Waipaoa River and the dam will hold enough water to service tribal farmland, vineyards and orchards for 20 days during any drought. . . .

Contest to set speed fencing world record:

Speed and skill will be the key combination needed in Waikato this week to establish a world record for speed fencing.

The challenge, which involves putting battens on a fence, will be a feature of the Grasslandz Agricultural Machinery Expo, taking place at Ereka, between Morrinsville and Hamilton tomorrow and Friday.

It’s organised by Fairbrother Industries, a New Zealand company that makes post drivers and other fencing equipment for the local and export markets. . .   .

Sheep And Beef Sector Boost With Genetics Investment:

The announcement today that the Government will invest $15 million into sheep and beef genetics research over next five years has been welcomed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen.

The Government has said it will contribute funding for genetic research to allow the sheep and beef sector to further improve genetic gain and the development of new traits that can be farmed on hill country.

Petersen said the Government’s funding commitment was a pleasing show of confidence in the New Zealand sheep and beef sector, with the potential to significantly boost farmer profitability and that of the New Zealand economy.

“This investment supports a whole range of research, identifying new breeding traits that will produce more efficient animals and those that meet consumer preferences in our valuable export markets. . .

Following the announcement earlier today of the start of the Forest Industry Workplace Safety Review process, the original architects of the review say they are pleased with the makeup of the review team.

“It was our executive board that first raised concerns with the corporate forest managers back in March 2013” says Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) spokesman John Stulen, “so we are pleased to see that a very strong and completely independent team of experienced safety professionals has been engaged to carry out the work.”

“We’ve worked closely with the Forest Owners Association and union leaders to ensure that a robust process was put in place.

The time we have taken to set up this up and ensure the review is impartial will give piece of mind to everyone.

All workers in our industry and their families can be assured they can speak frankly and openly and expect to have their concerns heard.”


Thursday’s quiz

January 30, 2014

It’s your turn to ask the questions.

There’s an electronic box of Central Otago stone fruit for anyone who stumps us all.


Jo Hayes’ maiden speech

January 30, 2014

I was in parliament for Jo Hayes’ maiden speech yesterday.

It was a very moving occasion, topped off by her family singing a waiata when she finished.

Kei āku nui, kei āku rahi, kei āku whakateitei ki te whenua, āku tamarahi ki te rangi.  Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

I rere mai i nga pā tūwatawata ō tōku Matua Paikea Ariki Apanui, ka tirotiro noa ki nga pae maunga o Hikurangi rāua ko Whetumatarau, hei manu taiko, hei manu taki o ngā waiora o Waiapu rāua ko Awatere hei oranga mō nga uri whakatipu o Hinerupe rāua ko Awatere.

Kei tāku tua, kei tāku aro, āku whakaruruhau Te Whānau a Tūwhakairiora rāua ko Te Whānau o Te Aotaihi, kua eke noa i runga te waka o Horouta, he mihi maioha ki a koutou katoa.

Te kuku o tōku manawa Te Whānau Apanui rāua ko Te Whānau o Rangihuna,  ngā uri whakatipu o Porourangi tēnā koutou katoa.

From the whenua of my father Paikea Ariki Apanui,I look to the mountains of Hikurangi and Whetumatarau as they keep watch over the eternal rivers of Waiapū and Awatere whose sacred waters flow through and give sustenance to my marae of Hinerupe and Awatere.  I am guided by my hapū, Te whānau a  Tūwhakairiora and Te whānau o Te Aotaihī and transported on my sacred waka of Horouta.  I acknowledge my Apanui and Rangihuna whānau of Ngāti Porou.

I rere mai i nga pā tūwatawata ō tōku Whaea Te Arorangi Karaitiana, ka tirotiro hoki ki nga pae maunga o Rangitumau rātou ko Ruapehu ko Tararua, hei manu taki, hei manu taiko o ngā waiora o Ruamahanga rātou ko Whanganui ko Waipoua hei oranga mō nga uri whakatipu o Te Oreore, rātou ko Te Puke ko Akura hoki.

Kei tāku aro, kei tāku tua, āku whakaruruhau ō Ngāti Hāmua, rātou ko Te Uenuku, ko Akura, kua eke noa i runga ngā waka o Kurahaupo rātou ko Aotea, ko Takitimu, he mihi maioha ki a koutou katoa.

Te kuku o tōku manawa Rangitāne o Wairarapa, Te Ati Haunui ā Pāpārangi, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa ka mihi matakuikui ano hoki ki ngā uri whakatipu o Te Whānau Karaitiana rātou ko Te Whānau Te Whareponga, ko Te Whānau Herewini tēnā koutou katoa.

From the lands of my mother Te Arorangi Karaitiana the mountains of Rangitumau, Ruapehu and Tararua make way for the flow of knowledge and strength from my rivers of Ruamahanga, Whanganui and Waipoua.  I take shelter in the arms my marae Te Oreore, Te Puke and Akura knowing full well that the whānau and hapū of Ngati Hāmua, Te Uenuku and Akura work to support my iwi of Rangitāne o Wairarapa, Te Ati Haunui ā Pāpārangi and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa.  From my waka of Kurahaupo, Aotea and Takitimu I acknowledge my Karaitiana, Te Whareponga and Herewini Whanau.

Mr Speaker, Tena koe and thank you for inviting me to speak my first words in this House. I am privileged and humbled that I am able to do this in front of my superiors and my peers, my whānau and friends here and at home, and surrounded by the taonga that represents the many wars the people of this nation fought on our behalf so we could live in peace in this our whenua – Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Prime Minister the Right Honourable John Key, tena koe tōku rangatira. I am ecstatic to be joining the National caucus team under your outstanding leadership, I bring to you and the National caucus my can-do attitude, my loyalty, and my ability to work diligently within the team and for the people of this country.

Mr Speaker, I wish to mihi to our coalition parties, my whānaunga and co-leader of the Maori Party, the Honourable Tariana Turia, co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell, and the Honourable Dr Pita Sharples; the leader of United Future, the Honourable Peter Dunne, and the leader of Act New Zealand, the Honourable John Banks. 

I also want to mihi the leaders and members of Parliament from the Opposition benches, and the press gallery.

Mr Speaker, I started my life in the small rural town of Eketahuna the second child of PK and Kate Apanui. My father worked on Te Hoe station in Alfredton and played rugby for Eketahuna and the under 21 Wairarapa Bush side.  As a child my parents moved from Eketahuna to yet a smaller rural town of Rangiwahia.  It was here where I spent my childhood.  Both my parents dedicated their lives to ensuring we had kai on our table, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads.  We were poor in money, yet rich in love and support for each other. 

Yes Mr Speaker, I come to Parliament from a tight knit whānau with a background of hard work and an attitude that nothing is insurmountable.  My father believed that if one worked hard, one would reap their just rewards.  He knew that our world would be so different to his and so he instilled the whakatauki (proverb) E Tipu E Rea from our tūpuna and one of the first Maori MPs Sir Apirana Ngata.  Those words encouraged us to take hold and learn the ways of the Pakeha world while holding on to our Maori world.  My father modelled that whakatauki throughout his life – he wanted our future to be one of reaping the rewards that we all worked hard for.

Mr Speaker in 1997 my father succumbed to cancer and is buried at Ᾱkura in Masterton and I miss him dearly because I was his wild child – turned good.
 
I am fortunate to have my mother in the gallery this afternoon along with my whānau, extended whānau, hapū, and Iwi.  Mum was the disciplinarian and educationalist of my parents and today she is a Nan but also a Great Nan and a kuia for Wairarapa, and a member of the Wairarapa kaumatua group.  Kia ora Mum, kia ora whānau whānui.

Mr Speaker, it wasn’t until I left home that my life changed dramatically.  At age 22 I became an unmarried mother, on the domestic purposes benefit with little to no education qualifications.  It was this fright that changed me forever and I adopted the saying “if it has to be, then it’s up to me”. So I started a successful re-education programme which persists.

Along the way I met my soulmate, a man who took me and my son into his life and has believed in us. A man who at times says little but does a lot. A man who I am proud to have by my side, and one whom I am proud to stand by his side.  We are equal partners in everything we do and I love him to bits. Mr Speaker please meet my husband, Pat. Kia Ora Pat

Our son’s Mat and Ben, who are unable to be here today, have bought immense pleasure and pride to our lives as we have watched them and guided them towards adulthood.  They are now men of the world with all the lessons that that brings.  Thanks to my daughter-in-law Shan for producing two beautiful mokopuna, Carter and Eli. For it is them who carry the future of all our tomorrows and Nani J loves you.

Mr Speaker, I have been blessed with a number of opportunities in my life, but these would have been for nought had it not been for the people that I have met along the way. And there are too many to mention here but you all know who you are and I thank you for your support and guidance.

To my friends who have come here today to support me and to those who are watching at home, I thank you all for without you even knowing it your influence and support of me has been invaluable.

Mr Speaker, as you can see I come to Parliament having walked many roads and learned many lessons yet still I want more, because I haven’t finished yet.

My past has shaped my future, my family is my foundation, my mokopuna keep me real, and my friends continue to support me on the many journeys I have made and are yet to make.

Mr Speaker, today I take the road less travelled than others and one where I can utilise my skills and experience and learn new ones. I come to Parliament after contesting the 2011 election in the Dunedin South electorate and winning the party vote – a historical feat for the National Party and one that I am most proud.  I thank the Dunedin electorate teams and send you my heartfelt thanks to Robyn Broughton, Pippa Newstead, the Young Nats, and volunteers

Mr Speaker, I bring a wealth of experience, both community and professional.  I was one of the first school boards of trustees to take on the Tomorrow’s Schools challenge, serving for a number of years at our local primary schools as chair and treasurer.  Then later as deputy chair of FAHS Feilding High School.

I bring my professionalism in the health, education, welfare, business, and rural sectors.  I have worked in the community and for the community, I have worked for government agencies and in local government, and throughout my career I have taken people with me as the journey has not been about me alone.

Mr Speaker, I am proud to be a member of National and I want to thank our party president Peter Goodfellow, the board with a special mention to regional chairs Kate Haslett and Roger Bridge, electorate chairs Ele Ludemen and Malcolm Plimmer, and the service centre staff for all their hard work.

Most importantly though I pay tribute to the many volunteers and party supporters that make this party a great party to be a member of and to be a servant of the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Mr Speaker, as the newest National MP, I bring a rigid determination to make a difference for all people of Aotearoa New Zealand and to be an outstanding hardworking National member of Parliament.

Mr Speaker, ka mutu taku korero tuatahi kei roto i tenei whare.

Nā reira koutou, kua rāmenemene mai i runga i te whakaaro kotahi, ara te whare tāwharau nei.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Jo has worked very hard and waited a long time to get to parliament.

She brings a wealth of experience including something she didn’t mention – when she was young she did an apprenticeship in arc welding.

Best of all she brings the knowledge of the importance of loving family and the value of hard work.


Picture paints many thousand lies

January 30, 2014

On TV3 this morning, Labour leader David Cunliffe blamed the difference between the baby bribe bonus he announced and what it would actually deliver as a slip of the pen.

But it wasn’t just the speech that gave a very wrong impression, it was almost all the back-up material given to media and advertising:

That clearly shows paid parental leave on top of the baby bribe, it doesn’t make it clear it would only kick in after paid parental leave finished.

A picture can paint a thousand words – this one paints many thousand lies.

There’s a very big difference between the 59,000 families Cunliffe said would get the baby bribe for 52 weeks and the real figure minus the 25,000 who get paid parental leave and the 15,000 who get the parental tax credit who won’t get it for the whole year either.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says Cunliffe needs to answer seven crucial questions at his photo-opportunity today if he is to start the year with any credibility at all:

  1. How many families with new babies would actually get an additional $60 per week for one year under his package, given that it wouldn’t be paid to families while they are receiving Paid Parental Leave, and given that he is proposing to scrap the Parental Tax Credit which already provides up to $1200 to 15,000 families of new-born babies?
  2. Why did he say in his speech: “today, I am announcing that for 59,000 families with new-born babies, they will all receive a Best Start investment of $60 per week, for the first year of their child’s life”, when that statement is so obviously false and deceptive?
  3. Why is he blaming his staff members for getting the line in his speech about the package wrong when it is clearly his speech and this was the most significant element of it?
  4. Who wrote the speech given he takes no responsibility? Is it true he wrote the speech himself?
  5. Why did he announce last week that he had “saved $1.5 billion a year” when quite clearly he hadn’t?
  6. What specific programmes would he cut in New Zealand’s accounts to generate the savings of $1.5 billion a year he said he had made last week?
  7. Does he think it is right to attempt to con New Zealanders not once, but twice, in the first week of the political year?

“Mr Cunliffe needs to be upfront with New Zealanders and not constantly try to pull the wool over their eyes if he to be taken remotely seriously as an opposition leader,” Mr Joyce says.

He has to do even better if he’s going to look like a Prime Minister in waiting and he won’t do that while Cunliffe is looking more and more like Conlife.

 


OCR unchanged for now

January 30, 2014

The Reserve Bank has left the Official Cash Rate at the record low 2.5%.

New Zealand’s economic expansion has considerable momentum. Prices for New Zealand’s export commodities remain very high, especially for dairy products. Consumer and business confidence are strong and the rapid rise in net inward migration over the past year has added to consumption and housing demand. Construction activity is being lifted by the Canterbury rebuild and by work in Auckland to address the housing shortage. Continued fiscal consolidation will partly offset the strength in demand. GDP grew by 3.5 percent in the year to September, and growth is expected to continue around this rate over the coming year.

While agricultural export prices are expected to come off their peak levels, overall export demand should benefit from improving growth in the global economy. However, improvements in the major economies have required exceptional monetary accommodation and there remains uncertainty about the timing of withdrawal of this stimulus and its effects, especially on emerging market economies.

Annual CPI inflation was 1.6 percent in 2013, and forward-looking measures of firms’ pricing intentions have been rising. Construction costs are increasing and risk feeding through to broader costs in the economy. At the same time, there appears to have been some moderation in the housing market in recent months. The high exchange rate continues to dampen inflation in the traded goods sector, but the Bank does not believe the current level of the exchange rate is sustainable in the long run.

While headline inflation has been moderate, inflationary pressures are expected to increase over the next two years. In this environment, there is a need to return interest rates to more-normal levels. The Bank expects to start this adjustment soon.

The Bank remains committed to increasing the OCR as needed to keep future average inflation near the 2 percent target mid-point. The scale and speed of the rise in the OCR will depend on future economic indicators.

This gives a little breathing space before what is expected to be an increase in the OCR and subsequent increases in interest rates.

The message in this statement is clear – it’s not if there will be an increase but when.

That doesn’t just mean an increase on interest it will almost certainly put pressure on the value of our dollar.


Battle for birds

January 30, 2014

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has launched DOC’s largest-ever species protection programme called ‘Battle for Our Birds’.

“Our native birds are in decline and the kiwi will not exist in the wild for our grandchildren unless we do more to protect them. Rats, stoats and possums must be controlled to stop them killing 25 million native birds a year. It is like having a Rena disaster, which killed 2000 birds, every hour,” Dr Smith says.

“This problem is particularly urgent this year because we are facing a one in 10 to 15 year large beech mast that will drop about a million tonnes of seed in autumn. This flood of food will trigger a plague of an additional 30 million rats and tens of thousands of stoats. When the seeds germinate in spring, these starved predators will annihilate populations of our endangered birds.

“This ‘Battle for Our Birds’ programme increases pest control in 35 forests to protect 12 native species, and mainly involves using 1080. An additional 500,000 hectares will be treated in this mast year, increasing the proportion of public conservation land protected from these pests from five per cent to 12 per cent. It also involves expanding DOC’s on-going pest control work by 50,000 hectares each year over the next five years.”

The twelve target species are the great spotted, brown and tokoeka kiwi, kaka, kea, whio (blue duck), mohua (yellowhead), kakaraki (orange-fronted parakeet), rock wren, long and short tailed bats, and giant snails. It will save millions of other native birds like fantails, robins, tui, kereru, riflemen, bellbirds, tomtits and warbles, reptiles like geckos, insects like weta, trees like rata, and plants like mistletoe.

The bulk of the 35 forests where the protection work will occur this year is in South Island beech forests in the Kahurangi, Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Westland, Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. The other reserves in the South Island are the Catlins and Waikaia in Otago, Mt Dobson and Upper Hurunui in Canterbury, Haast, Maruia and Mokihinui on the West Coast, and Pelorus and Isolated Hill in Marlborough. The five forests in the North Island to receive protection this year are Pouiatoa in Taranaki, the Whanganui and Tongariro National Parks, and at Pirongia and Awaroa in western Waikato.

“The details of the exact areas, timing and mix of pest control tools will be finalised over coming months. We need to monitor the mast seed drop and the resulting pest plague, and engage with affected communities.

“This pest control programme does involve the use of aerial 1080, but does not mean record use. Pre-feeding, improving bait quality to avoid crumbs attractive to birds, helicopter rather than fixed-wing aircraft distribution, GPS, and the development of repellents for non-target species have enabled major improvements in 1080 control methods. Bait application rates have reduced from 30 kilograms to one kilogram per hectare.

“I know there are people, regardless of the science, who will oppose the use of poisons. The comprehensive conclusions of the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the Environment Protection Authority make plain that 1080 is safe and the only practical tool that will work. Reason must trump prejudice about poisons when the very species that define our country like kiwi are at stake.”

This programme will cost about $21 million over the next five years out of DOC’s $335 million annual budget and is possible because of savings from last year’s restructuring, partnership funding, efficiency gains from improved pest control technologies, and economies of scale in this large project

“The ‘Battle for Our Birds’ is New Zealand’s largest ever species protection programme. It’s about backing our kiwi, kaka and kea over rats, stoats and possums,” Dr Smith concluded.

The plan has the backing of parliament’s environment watchdog:

. . . Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright warned of the “pest explosion” in December and she’s welcoming Dr Smith’s move.

“The potential toll on our native wildlife is enormous,” she said.

“I’m delighted with Dr Smith’s considered response to this very major threat to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna.”

Dr Wright says 1080 is the only tool to control the plagues of rats and stoats that follow a mast event.

Forest and Bird says the 1080 plan should be standard:

“Conservation group Forest and Bird says increased pest poisoning in response to an expected boom in rat and stoat numbers should be the new baseline. . .

“Without this increase in predator control, there will be a real possibility that we will lose a bird species this mast year,” said F&B advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell.

“DOC should be funded properly for dealing with this event. But, if this level of predator control is not maintained, the money could easily be wasted. For this reason the programme over the next five years should become the new standard for DOC’s aerial 1080 operations.” . . .

Native flora and fauna are under threat from imported pests in the best of years.In mast years the increased danger calls for an extraordinary response and the planned 1080 blitz  is necessary.

Beech mast 2014 logo.

There is more on the plan at DOC’s website.


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