Word of the day

March 25, 2014

Tsundoku ( Japanese – 積ん読)  – buying books and not reading them, letting books pile up unread on shelves and bed-side tables.


Rural round-up

March 25, 2014

Farmer confidence slips, but horticulture remains buoyant:

Results at a Glance
• New Zealand farmer confidence has edged lower this quarter.
• Less than half of farmers now think conditions will improve in the next 12 months.
• Horticulture producers are more optimistic than others, driven by a recovery in the kiwifruit industry and stronger prices.
• Investment intentions are currently stable, but may be impacted by the recent rise in the Official Cash Rate.
• New survey data shows a third of New Zealand farmers struggling to attract/retain labour.

New Zealand farmer sentiment has eased from last year’s highs, though remains at robust levels, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Sentiment among horticulture producers is stronger than in the broader farming community likely due to a recovery in the kiwifruit industry following the PSA outbreak and stronger prices. . .

Meat plants extend hours to meet demand – Rob Tipa:

Meat processing plants around the country have stepped up production and most plants are working full weeks and extended hours to meet market commitments.

The processing season started well with the national lamb kill hitting 4.6 million by the end of the December quarter, up 4 per cent on the previous year.

However, a cold, wet January in parts of the country meant lambs were slow to finish and the cumulative lamb kill for four months to the end of January was 6.9 million, down 5.8 per cent on the 7.3m lambs processed for the same period in 2012-13. . .

Trial site takes the biscuit – Tim Cronshaw:

A mixed picture has emerged of grain yields for autumn sown crops grown for research at Canterbury trial sites by the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR).

Autumn sown feed wheat yields of 10.5 tonnes a hectare this season are off the pace of the four-year average of 11.1t/ha.

However, some trial sites have performed better with feed and biscuit wheat yields above the long- term average at a dryland Chertsey site and at a dryland St Andrews site.

Research manager Rob Craigie said disease pressure appeared to have influenced yields for autumn- sown grain crops, but this was not widespread among the six Canterbury trial sites.

“We are back, but it’s kind of a mixed picture because some sites the yields have been good,” Craigie said. . .

Raw milk market revives faith in nutritious food – Lyn Webster:

I recently decided to advertise raw milk to gauge if there was any demand for the product locally.

I was pleasantly surprised when word quickly spread and I got a few phone calls from a tiny amount of advertising in the classifieds and on a Facebook local information site.

It was great to meet the people who bought the milk. In fact, they all became return customers, buying about 4 litres a week. I was struck by how happy and enthusiastic they were about its taste compared with the seemingly watered- down version you buy at the supermarket. Some of them even travelled significant distances to source my raw milk.

While some dairy farmers have invested in raw milk dispensing machines that automatically fill glass bottles and allow the customer to pay with eftpos, I kept it personal. . .

Speak Meat 2014: Helping government officials better understand the sheep and beef industry:

A joint industry initiative is doing its part to support a more confident and profitable sheep and beef sector.

There is a small and often unheralded group of officials working hard to make sure New Zealand’s meat products can get into our export markets. It’s an important job, especially when you consider that more than 80 per cent of our beef and more than 90 per cent of our sheepmeat is exported.

It’s not glamorous work. It often involves technical and complex concepts. But it’s work that helps to ensure a smooth trade in meat products to the broadest possible range of markets.

The New Zealand officials doing that work were the focus of the second edition of the Speak Meat initiative, run jointly by B+LNZ and the Meat Industry Association in late February. The more they understand what actually happens on farms and in meat plants, the better they can work for us in keeping export markets open for our products. . . .

Cheers to that – 40 years of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc:

It’s hard to separate New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc these days, but Matua was the first to put them together, planting the first New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc vines in 1969, producing their first bottle in 1974. This year marks the 40th anniversary of not only Matua Sauvignon Blanc but also Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand.

Matua began with a vision shared by Bill and Ross Spence – to revolutionise the New Zealand wine industry by making wines with the best fruit from the best vineyards. A philosophy that still stands today and has earned them international recognition for their pioneering work.

Today, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has taken the world by storm with over $1.2 billion dollars in export sales* and a leading position in both the UK, Australia and USA Sauvignon Blanc categories. Matua sources grapes and produces wines of exceptional quality from all over New Zealand, with wineries in both Auckland and Marlborough. . .

Deutz sparkles after trophy win at Easter Show Wine Awards:

Deutz Marlborough Cuvée is celebrating a Trophy win after Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs 2009 was awarded the Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy at the Easter Show Wine Awards 2014 Dinner, held at ASB Showgrounds in Auckland on Saturday 22nd March.

A fitting way to mark the 21st anniversary for Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs, the award-winning 2009 vintage was chosen as the very best in its category by Chair of Judges and renowned Australian wine Judge Mike DeGaris, together with a panel of New Zealand’s leading wine judges.

This recent trophy win for the 2009 vintage follows on nicely from the previous 2008 vintage of Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs which was also awarded the Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy at the 2013 show. . .

Giesen Wines win Easter Show champion trophy in first attempt at Syrah:

Giesen Wines has tasted success in its first attempt at the Syrah varietal, winning the SkyCity Trophy Champion Syrah at the coveted Easter Wine Show 2014.

The Brothers Marlborough Syrah 2011 is the first Syrah that Giesen Wines has produced during its 30-year history. The winery also won gold for The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay 2011.

“Syrah can be a very difficult varietal to master, but it’s a very versatile grape and can do well in warm and cooler climates. Viticulture is the key,” Marcel Giesen said.

“While the Marlborough region is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc, we’ve always believed it has the potential to produce world class wines from other varietals and this is certainly being borne out.” . . .

Marlborough’s Versatility Shines:

Marlborough wines across eight varieties took out trophies at the weekend’s Easter Show Wine Awards.

On top of that, a Marlborough wine was awarded Champion Wine of the Show and a Marlborough winemaker was judged top in his field.

It was a big night for Villa Maria, with their Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Chardonnay 2012 winning the Chardonnay trophy, plus Champion Wine of the Show. The man behind making that wine, George Geris was named Winemaker of the Year. . .


Reoffending rates drop

March 25, 2014

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says the Government is now over half way to achieving the Better Public Service target of a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017.

Reoffending has fallen by 12.6 per cent against the June 2011 benchmark, resulting in 2,319 fewer offenders and 9,276 fewer victims of crime each year.

“These figures are extremely encouraging, and combined with a 17.4 per cent drop in recorded crimes over the last three years it shows our communities are safer,” says Mrs Tolley.

“I want to thank our Corrections and Probation staff for embracing our bold plans and for all their efforts in reducing reoffending.

“There have been unprecedented increases in prisoner and community offender rehabilitation under this Government, which are already paying dividends.

“Our focus on education, skills training, addiction treatment, working prisons and reintegration is giving offenders the opportunity to turn their lives around and stay away from crime.

“Addressing the drivers of crime is vital, and there has been a 1500 per cent increase in places on drug and alcohol treatment programmes for prisoners since 2008.

“At the same time, there has been a 155 per cent increase in the number of prisoners starting literacy and numeracy programmes, and an 830 per cent jump in the number of prisoners gaining qualifications.

“And there is more hard work to come. We are determined to reach our target of a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017, which will result in huge benefits for communities and taxpayers.

“It will mean safer streets, with 18,500 fewer victims of crime each year, as well as 4,000 fewer community offenders and 600 less prisoners in jails.”

Less reoffending has social and economic benefits.

It means fewer victims and less time and money needed for detection, prosecution and punishment.
From @[183355881680015:274:New Zealand National Party]: National will lower prisoner reoffending by 25% by 2017. We’re already halfway there. That means safer streets and communities for families - www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43438


1 + 1 – disaffected = ?

March 25, 2014

Dim Post does the maths on a possible Mana and Internet Party alliance:

. . . I guess both parties are going into this with the fantasy that 1% of the vote plus 1% of the vote will give them 2%, thus an extra MP. But if the merger costs each party more than 50% of their potential voters because the complementary party is anathema to them then they’ll go backwards.

What Dotcom, who is bankrolling the Internet Party, and Mana have in common is an extreme dislike of John Key and National. But the enemy of you enemy isn’t always your friend, nor one your other friends will stomach.

If you’re an adviser to Kim Dotcom or Harawira then a merger must look awful attractive, because it’ll make your life a whole lot easier. But voters don’t vote for parties on their track-record of making life easier for their MPs and staffers.

Most voters also dislike naked opportunism and tend not to like extremists. This Facebook Post from Jevan Goulter introduces several of those from the radical left:

Guys, MANA DOTCOM!
Ok so we would be helping a rich fella with a bunch of money, but it would obviously help MANA to! I’m not saying I think it’s a good idea either, and it’s only my opinion, I speak on behalf of myself, just wanna be clear! The parties would not merge, we would share a list, and guaranteed MANA would have the top spots to start! If we did it, the difference could be 2 or 3 MANA MPs, and we remain our own party! It’s not all doom and gloom ! Could be the difference of having say John Minto and Te Hamua Shane Nikora in the House! Didn’t mention Annette Sykes cause she will already be there. . .

The though of those radicals in parliament is enough to drive centre voters to the safe haven of National.

There is a chance that an alliance of the Internet and Mana parties could get more of their MPs into parliament than either could achieve alone.

But the risk of butchering their own support and frightening enough swinging voters to the centre right is greater.

One plus one, minus the disaffected from the individual parties could deliver less support for both and more for the party which can be depended on for stability.


Law of unexpected consequences on rats

March 25, 2014

A pest control company, Flick Anticimex, says giant rats could become an increasingly dangerous pest.

Flick’s warning follows a recent study by Dr Jan Zalaswiewicz from the Universty of Leicester, which claims rats may grow to the size of sheep as larger mammals become extinct.

“Although this may sound a bit Jurasic Park-ish, it is not too difficult to imagine. Rats are extremely adept at co-inhabiting with humans and the surrounding environment. They are survivors and they are very adaptable,” says Gary Stephenson, National Pest Technical Manager at Flick Anticimex.

Flick pest control technicians have seen rats inside commercial cold rooms which have evolved into ‘arctic’ type species by developing long fur, to cope with the near zero temperatures.

Gary Stephenson says that there are additional factors which make the scenario of giant rats more likely.

“Local government regulations now mean that dogs and cats have to be kept off the streets and locked within property boundaries – this means some of the historical predators of rats have all disappeared,” says Gary Stephenson.

“And prey birds such as eagles, hawks, owls and kites have reduced markedly in numbers as a result of the creeping urban spread.”

The now extinct Josephoartegasia monesi was a type of rodent that weighed over a ton and was larger than a bull. Its modern-day relative, the capybara, is the size of a sheep.

This would be the law of unexpected consequences in action – cats and dogs have to be restrained and wild predators like eagles and hawks have reduced in numbers because of urban spread.

Is Gareth Morgan quite so sure he wants to get rid of cats?

He’s offering students free beer in exchange for dead rats. He’d better keep doing that and ensure the rat population is well under control before getting rid of any more of their predators.

 


Help this, hurt that

March 25, 2014

Richard Prebble points out that by trying to help the wood sector, Labour will be hurting others:

“Forestry and Wood Products: Economic Upgrade” is a boring title for a policy. We have a new title “Only Maori can apply”. See, you are already interested. (We are not making this up. Labour proposes a tree planting programme costing $20 million a year that is only open to Iwi).

Anti-New Zealand Steel ?

“Labour is pro-wood” says David Cunliffe. Boring! Why not say “Labour is anti-steel framed houses?” Now we want to know why. Does Cunliffe know that much of the steel framing for housing around the world is made in computer driven mills invented and manufactured in New Zealand? New Zealand has three steel frame mill makers and they dominate the world market. The steel used in New Zealand buildings is manufactured in this country too.

More leaks

Labour could have got far more coverage for their forestry policy by saying it is Labour policy to force up the cost of home building. If the country had used more steel framing the leaky homes scandal would have cost less. Steel framed homes are now being exported to the islands because they are easier to erect and have less maintenance issues. But surely what material you use should be your choice ?

Policies have consequences

The biggest loser from the leaky building scandal is the Ministry of Education. It is going to cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to fix all the leaky schools. The fault is not the use of wood but a government policy to accept the lowest tender. The worst leaky schools were designed by the same cheap architect. Requiring all government building four stories or less to be built of wood will have unintended consequences like a five storey school because it is cheaper to build.

Increased petrol prices

Buried in Labour’s “pro wood” policies is a proposal that companies needing to buy offsetting carbon credits must purchase 50% of their carbon credits from New Zealand forestry owners. It is called global warming for a reason. A New Zealand carbon credit is no better for the environment. Labour admits New Zealand forestry owners will increase the price of ETAs but then say “COST: This measure will be revenue-creating rather than a net expenditure”. That is like saying a tax increase has no cost because it raises government money!

Some goss

Where does this nonsense come from? The transfer of the Central North Island forests to iwi has made Maori the nation’s biggest forest owners. A new generation of Maori leaders whole work experience has been that wealth comes from the government. How to increase the value of their forests? Get the government to change the rules to force the country to use wood. Iwi have lobbied Shane Jones who has been the driver of this potentially multi-million dollar gravy train. . .

Whether or not the pro-wood policy would benefit for any group, Maori or not, is not the problem.

It is that it would benefit the wood sector at the expense of others.

It’s not just the steel industry which is upset about Labour’s favouritism, the concrete industry is too:

Labour’s “pro-wood” government procurement strategy will create an inappropriate commercial advantage for one construction sector over another, according to the New Zealand cement and concrete industries.

Announced today by David Cunliffe at the ForestWood conference in Wellington, the policy would mandate that “all government-funded project proposals for new buildings up to four storeys high shall require a build-in-wood option at the initial concept / request-for-proposals stage (with indicative sketches and price estimates).”

Rob Gaimster, CEO of the Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ), believes that policies which appear to be giving preferential treatment to one construction material are misguided.

“It is inappropriate to mandate that those designing new government buildings consider wood as a structural option, and then require an explanation if an alternative material is chosen,” says Mr Gaimster.

“Government should not be picking winners when it comes to the selection of construction materials, which should stand or fall on their own technical, cost, aesthetic and sustainability credentials.

“In addition, the policy does a huge dis-service to the hardworking men and women in the cement and concrete industries. Favouring a single construction material during the design phase of a new government building could seriously impact on their livelihoods and jobs.

“This policy does not create a level playing field for the use of construction materials in government buildings. In fact, materials other than wood will be considerably disadvantaged.

“We are concerned about the wide-reaching implications of this policy and believe it should in no circumstances be adopted.”

 

Out climate makes it easy to grow wood and we produce a lot of it.

Adding value to it would create jobs and that would be good if that’s what domestic and markets wanted, at the price they’re prepared to pay.

Getting the government involved to favour wood at the expense of other materials, especially those with a significant local input, is expensive, misguided and unfair.


Beyond reasonable doubt

March 25, 2014

Any hopes that Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 had landed safely have been dashed.

Malaysia’s prime minister has announced that missing flight MH370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Najib Razak said this was the conclusion of fresh analysis of satellite data tracking the flight.

Najib Razak said this was the conclusion of fresh analysis of satellite data tracking the flight.

Malaysia Airlines had told the families of the 239 people on board, he said.

The BBC has seen a text message sent to families by the airline saying it had to be assumed “beyond reasonable doubt” that the plane was lost and there were no survivors.

There were 227 passengers on flight MH370, many of them Chinese. . . .

It is natural to continue hoping until the worst has been confirmed and now it has, beyond reasonable doubt.

Families, some of whom have lost two and three generations, and friends of passengers now know there is no hope of survivors.

But the answer to where the plane crashed leaves many more questions:

What was it doing in the southern Indian Ocean so far from its original flight path?

Who was behind the change in direction and why?

And how, when so many fear mass surveillance, can a plane disappear into thin air and it take so long to find it?

 


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