Dear Future Mom

March 21, 2014

When I was pregnant with my second son I attended a business seminar taken by Wilf Jarvis, who developed Four Quandrant Leadership.

One of the points he made was about the danger of sticking labels on people.

He illustrated this by telling of a woman who came to see him about with a young child and began the session by saying “This is my son, he’s a mongol, he’ll never learn to read and write.”

Wilf stopped her and asked his name, she told him and he said, “This is Y and he has Down Syndrome.”

Y is now an adult, living an independent life and among his other achievements is writing his autobiography.

One of the children I met while in hospital with my son had Down Syndrome. He too is independent and one of his achievements was getting his driving licence.

Not all people with Down Syndrome are that able, but then not all people without it are that able either.

It’s World Down Syndrome Day.

This video was made in response to a woman who had discovered the baby she was carrying had Down Syndrome and she was afraid.

Several years ago Emily Perl Kingsley wrote  Welcome to Holland, which explains how she felt when being told her child had a disability.


Word of the day

March 21, 2014

Folderol – trivial or nonsensical fuss; foolish nonsense; a showy but useless trifle; a gewgaw.


Rural round-up

March 21, 2014

Maori dairy farm set to boost Northland’s economy:

Dairy cows will be led into Northland’s Rangihamama milking sheds for the first time officially this weekend, marking the first tangible example of the Government’s aim to increase regional economic development in Northland.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been working with the Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) to accelerate the Trust’s transformation of 278 hectares of Māori-owned land, from grazing to high-productivity dairy farming since 2012.

“Omapere Rangihamama Trust is a model for growing rural development by pulling together a vast number of stakeholders into a larger and more commercially effective operation,” says MPI’s Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton. . .

Simple fix touted for deadly quad bike problem – Jill Galloway:

A Wellington farmer who survived a quad bike accident says using a sash window weight on the front of a four-wheeler stops it turning over so easily.

Stuart Woodman said he was going up a steep slope when he hit a hole and his quad bike rolled over and landed on him.

“I was unconscious, and came to after I had got out from under the bike. I don’t know how I survived it. Thick skull, big bones – I don’t know.”

Woodman said he righted the bike on the slope, and it rolled down the hill.

“I picked the soil off it and finished mustering. Then I drove to hospital.” . . .

Farmer develops mussel shell fertiliser – Cathie Bell:

The enormous pile of old mussel shells near Havelock could become a lot smaller because of the landowners’ business venture turning it into fertiliser.

Bill Brownlee stores millions of shells from the Sanford mussel factory on his farm, on the Blenheim side of Havelock. He said the Marlborough District Council had estimated it as 13 metres high.

The pile started 50 years ago when his father took the shells, but had really grown in the past 15 years since mussel production boomed in the Sounds, he said.

He and wife Jane Brownlee bought a crusher from the Cape Campbell lime works and started a new venture, crushing the shells into a fine powder to be spread as fertiliser. . .

BOP Dairy Awards Winners All Career Changes:

Making the move to dairy farming has been hugely successful for the three major winners at the 2014 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards.

The 2014 Bay of Plenty Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Brett and Natasha Grindrod, were both teachers, the Bay of Plenty Farm Managers of the Year, Thomas Blackett and Stacey Lepper, had engineering and technician careers, and Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year, Cameron Luxton, was a builder. They all switched careers to dairy farming and were announced winners at the region’s awards dinner at Awakeri Events Centre last night (March 19).

Brett Grindrod says he took the opportunity to work on a dairy farm for a season and never looked back. “After a short time on farm I found I really enjoyed the career change, and did not want to return teaching. I enjoyed the flexibility that farming offered and could see the long term potential for growth. . .

Royal FrieslandCampina lifts stake in Synlait Milk to 9.999 percent buying shares at $3.85 apiece:

(BusinessDesk) – Royal FrieslandCampina has lifted its stake in Synlait Milk to 9.999 percent from 7.5 percent, adding to an investment that has gained 41 percent since its NZX debut last July.

The Netherlands-based cooperative bought about 3.66 million shares at $3.85 each yesterday, according to a statement to the NZX. The shares last traded at $3.87, having sold in Synlait’s initial public offering last year at $2.20 apiece.

The purchase puts the Dutch company, where the current Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings was a senior executive until 2009, ahead of Japan’s Mitsui & Co, with an 8.4 percent holding, as the second-biggest shareholder in the Canterbury-based dairy processor. China’s Bright Dairy Food owns 39 percent, having been diluted during last year’s IPO. . .

Posted skulls pose biosecurity threat:

A box of South African animal skulls crawling with maggots never made it through the post, thanks to the work of vigilant Auckland biosecurity staff.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) dog team recently detected the unusual biosecurity threat at the International Mail Centre near Auckland airport.

Once opened, the box revealed a number of wild animal skulls, thought to include zebra and wildebeest.

“There was clearly some flesh on the bones, as you could see maggots writhing beneath and on top of the cellophane wrapping,” says Aynsley Richards, MPI Auckland Team Leader, Border Clearance Services. . .

Gisborne figure elected to lead role in Eastern Fish & Game:

The Eastern Fish and Game Council has elected well known Gisborne identity Murray Ferris as its new chairman.

The Eastern Council represents over 30,000 anglers and 3000 game bird hunting licence holders.

As one of 12 Fish and Game councils, it is responsible for managing sports fish and game birds over a large central North Island area which runs from Wairoa, west to Mt Ruapehu, and then north to Waihi.

The Eastern Fish & Game Region has trout fisheries of national significance, including the heavily-used Rotorua Lakes, and popular Lake Waikaremoana and the Ruakituri River within its eastern boundaries. . .


Friday’s answers

March 21, 2014

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.?

2. Where in the human body would you find the macula?

3. Whose compositions included Music for Royal Fireworks and the opera Xerxes?

4. The Strait of Gibraltar connects which two bodies of water?

5. If you could eat only one fruit which would it be?

Points for answers:

Andrei, David, J Bloggs and Gravedodger win an electronic basket of fruit with five right.

Alwyn got four.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Is welfare part of the problem?

March 21, 2014

Is poverty driving family break-ups?

Surprise Census figures suggest that poverty may be breaking up the nuclear family. . .

Wellington analyst Paul Callister and Statistics NZ demographer Robert Didham said in Auckland poverty was increasingly concentrated because of housing costs.

“What you are seeing in Auckland is a real sorting effect in the housing market, it’s pushing the sole parents into certain areas,” Dr Callister said.

He said the welfare system meant many couples were better off by separating. Welfare entitlements are based on family income, so if one person loses a job they can’t get a benefit if their partner is working. . .

Lindsay Mitchell points out that this isn’t a chicken or egg scenario:

For a nuclear family to “break-up” it has to exist first. In 2012 the proportion of unmarried births was 48 percent. In the same year, 21 percent of babies born were dependent on welfare – usually the DPB – by Christmas. Around half of these children will spend 7 or more years in the benefit system.

It isn’t poverty driving family disintegration. It’s the availability and heavy use of welfare. This is particularly prevalent amongst Maori because welfare incomes are close to incomes from low paid, unskilled jobs.

As the article notes, “Education is also a powerful factor.” Exactly. In time females with qualifications and aspirations may choose not to embark on a career of poverty-stricken single parenthood. Then again, as long as it’s a seemingly ‘easy’ option the pattern of single mothering and subsequent hardship will continue.

If welfare is regarded as a preferred option for people it is part of the poverty problem, not the solution.

Welfare has a place for those unable to look after themselves, some of those will require long-term, possibly permanent assistance.

But for most recipients it should be a temporary safety net not a long-term hammock.

This is why this government’s policies which are addressing long-term benefit dependency are helping those who can help themselves to do so.


Change in leader not enough for Labour

March 21, 2014

Trans Tasman notes that this week’s poll continuing the dismal trend for Labour confirms that the party needed more than a change of leader.

Labour’s slump in support in the latest poll underlines the party’s problems are more deep seated than can be overcome by a change in leadership. David Cunliffe’s poll ratings are now below those of the man he replaced. But even though anxiety among lower-ranked MPs is growing over their electoral future, there is unlikely to be any fresh moves to change the leadership, despite Shane Jones looking a better bet. The Herald-Digipoll confirmed the trend in other polls, though it’s the first to show Labour below 30%.

The only major changes in the party since it lost the 2008 election are three leaders and rules which can inflict a leader on the caucus without its support.

It is offering almost all the same old stale faces and most of the new policies announced are failed ones from the past.

. . . The significant lesson Labour doesn’t appear to have absorbed is the bulk of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

The latest poll showed the gap between those who think things are moving in the right direction, and those who do not, expanding from around 3 percentage points to more than 17 points compared with December. Yet this week in Parliament Labour MPs were strumming the theme the present Govt has the worst economic record of any Govt for the last 40 years. They haven’t got the message the Key-led coalition has won the battle on fiscal prudence. And with such a mindset, fresh promises of new spending provoke the opposite response among voters to the one they are seeking. . .

Labour might think the economic and natural disasters since 2008 have been beyond the government’s power. But many voters recognise the difficulties National has faced, the progress it has made in dealing with them and the positive difference it is making.


Front page news

March 21, 2014

It’s not unusual for Prime Minister John Key to be front page news in New Zealand.

It is something of an accomplishment, and an honour, to be front page news in China, a country with a population of 1.3 billion.
Making front page news in China – not bad in a country with 1.3 billion people

The Prime Minister also had a dinner with President Xi Jinping and the visit has helped strengthen links between our countries:

Prime Minister John Key says agreements entered into with China at his meeting with Premier Li Keqiang highlight the continuing strength of the relationship between our two countries.

Mr Key and Premier Li Keqiang met at the Great Hall of the People. Mr Key’s visit to China marks the third time the countries’ top leaders have met in less than 12 months.

The meeting emphasised the value both countries place on the political, trade and economic relationship which, has continued to grow rapidly.

New Zealand and China are well on track to achieve a shared goal, agreed by the Prime Minister and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2010, to double two-way trade to NZ$20 billion by 2015. Two-way trade is currently worth over $18 billion.

“My meeting highlighted the mutually beneficial nature of the bilateral trade, with China becoming our number one goods export market, and remaining the number one source of imports for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

The Prime Minister said that he was pleased to see the particularly strong growth in dairy exports to China, which reached nearly NZ$5 billion in 2013, an increase of 75 percent.

“My meeting provided the opportunity to brief Premier Li on the outcomes of the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident Government Inquiries, emphasising that they underline that New Zealand is a producer of high quality food, with world class regulatory systems,” says Mr Key.

The Prime Minister and Premier Li discussed New Zealand and China’s shared interest in strengthening financial sector cooperation, as well as cooperation in the areas of agriculture and food safety.

Six new initiatives have been agreed at the meeting, including:

  • The launch of direct trading of the New Zealand dollar against the Chinese Renminbi.
  • Agreement to renegotiate the 1986 Double Tax Agreement.
  • Implementation of an electronic equipment Mutual Recognition Agreement that will enable New Zealand to become the first country in the world to test, inspect and certify electrical products outside of China.
  • Enhanced agricultural cooperation in dairy herd improvement, agricultural management, veterinary training scholarships and professional development exchanges.
  • Improved food safety cooperation including the launch of a scholarship programme in food safety and risk management.

“The financial sector offers great potential for further cooperation between New Zealand and China. Today’s announcements will make doing business with China easier by reducing compliance costs and contribute to the wider expansion of the economic and financial cooperation between the two countries,” says Mr Key. . .

This visit and a stronger relationship will bring benefits to New Zealand:

China is important to New Zealand. We are on track to achieve the goal of doubling two-way trade to $20 billion by 2015. This week President Xi Jinping and I set an ambitious new goal for trade to reach $30 billion by 2020.

Our growing trade with China is a shot in the arm for New Zealand exporters and industry. It is one of several reasons the New Zealand economy continues to grow strongly.

Figures released today showed GDP increasing by more than 3 per cent in the past year – making New Zealand one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

This is great news for families.

A stronger economy means more jobs, higher incomes, and more opportunities for young people. It means we can invest more in important public services like schools and hospitals.

If we continue with National’s successful programme, New Zealanders can lock in the economic gains we’re starting to see.

That if depends on another National-led government because as  Bill English said during Question Time yesterday, the job isn’t finished:

. . . New Zealand’s growth rate is better than that of quite a few developed countries, but, of course, the real measure of its success is whether it is providing more jobs for New Zealanders and higher incomes for New Zealanders. The good news is that forecasters are generally expecting that New Zealand’s growth rate will be maintained through 2014. This, however, is no cause for complacency or for a fiscal lolly scramble. This country has a lot of work to do yet to ensure that every New Zealander who can work can get a job, and that all those New Zealanders who have a job are paid in a manner that they regard as appropriate. . .

The economy is growing and the free trade agreement with China, has played an important role in that.

With growth improvements in other indicators which depend on that including education, employment and health  are following.

But there is more to do.

The government has laid a strong foundation and it needs another term to build on that.


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