Jones jumps

April 22, 2014

Another three years in opposition or a job where you can make a difference?

Perhaps that was in the mind of Labour MP Shane Jones when he decided to resign from parliament to take up the position of Pacific Economic Ambassador.

Shane Jones is quitting Parliament and the Labour Party, and there is a job already lined up for him – a job offer from the National Government.

Nothing is signed and sealed, but the job is as ‘Pacific Economic Ambassador’ – a position created by Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully. Prime Minister John Key is also aware of the job offer. . . .

This will be a blow for Labour.

Jones is one of very few of its caucus to get headlines for positive reasons in months.

But Mana leader Hone Harawira might also be less than overjoyed at the news:

Mr Jones consulted with elders over Easter. They want him to quit immediately so the next MP on the party list can be brought in – Kelvin Davis, who will stand against Hone Harawira in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate. . .

It’s far easier to campaign as an MP than as a candidate outside parliament.

 


Word of the day

April 22, 2014

Chatoyant – of a gem, especially when cut en cabochon, showing a band of bright lustre caused by reflection from inclusions in the stone; having a changeable lustre or colour with an undulating narrow band of white light.


Rural round-up

April 22, 2014

Photo: Tomorrow April. 22, Earth Day help the world define what a farmer is.  Take a picture, tell a story and share it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with #FarmVoices!  Can't wait to see all your photos tomorrow <3  http://farmon.com/pages/farmvoices.aspx

Award honours key figure in Waitaki irrigation – Sally Rae:

When Grant McFadden drives through rural North Otago, he is amazed at what irrigation has done for the district.

The retired Maf policy manager was a key support for farmers on the lower Waitaki plains as an irrigation scheme was initiated in the 1970s.

His longtime involvement in irrigation was rewarded recently with the Ron Cocks Memorial Award for outstanding leadership in irrigation.

He received the award jointly with Ashburton-based farm business consultant and rural valuer Bob Engelbrecht at IrrigationNZ’s conference in Napier. . .

Winners share century of experience

When Bob Engelbrecht attended irrigation meetings years ago in Ashburton, the late Ron Cocks would often end up at his home afterwards to continue the discussion.

Little did Mr Engelbrecht imagine he would one day win an award named after Mr Cocks, a Mid Canterbury farmer, for his contribution to irrigation in New Zealand.

For the first time, IrrigationNZ has awarded its Ron Cocks Memorial Award to two people. Retired Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry policy manager Grant McFadden joins Mr Engelbrecht, a farm business consultant and rural valuer, as recipients of the award.

Between them, the two men have more than a century of involvement in advocating for agriculture and irrigation interests.

Mr Engelbrecht credits the last winner of the award, fellow Ashburtonian Brian Cameron, with introducing him to the potential of irrigation. . .

Second award to couple

Kaiwera farmers Andrew and Heather Tripp have won the supreme title in the Southland Ballance farm awards for the second time.

Since first winning the title in the inaugural Southland awards in 2002, Mr and Mrs Tripp have added a dairy farm to their diverse farming operation based on Nithdale Station.

Along with sheep, beef, dairy and forestry, the 1635ha property also runs a genetics business, comprising Romney and Suffolk sheep, and a farmstay.

Judges praised the Tripps’ commitment and passion for the land, which was first settled by Mr Tripp’s grandfather in 1924. . .

Small cheesemaker looks to Asia – Tess McClure:

The Barrys Bay factory still makes cheese the traditional way. But that hasn’t stopped them moving forward into a modern marketplace.

Since Mike and Catherine Carey bought the factory nine years ago and introduced Barrys Bay to supermarkets, business has experienced 20 per cent growth year-on-year.

But New Zealand independent cheesemakers work in a challenging environment, facing ongoing problems with the rising price of raw materials and challenging investment in ageing their cheese.

Mike Carey, clad in factory whites, talks with enthusiasm through an elastic hairnet that encases his beard. . .

 


Another birthday

April 22, 2014

Our family should have been celebrating another birthday today – that of our first son, Tom.

But he had a brain disorder and lived only 20 weeks.

In spite of all the tests which were carried out while he was alive and a post mortem, no cause was found for his problems and we were told it was safe to have another baby.

We did and just over two years after Tom’s birth we welcomed Dan’s arrival.

Our joy was short-lived. When he was just two weeks old Dan started having fits, which was the first sign we’d had that Tom had problems. It took a few weeks of tests while we waited and hoped. But eventually we had to accept that Dan had the same condition which had killed his brother.

He lived longer, dying 10 days after his fifth birthday, although he passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day he died than the one he was born.

The year after Dan’s death we hosted an AFS scholar from Argentina.

There’s a huge element of luck in these relationships and we struck the jackpot – a lovely teenager whose family became ours.

I can’t answer the question of whether it would have been better to have healthy children ourselves or to have our exchangee and his family in our lives.

Of course I’d rather our sons were alive, happy and healthy but I wouldn’t want to shut the doors that have opened because those ones closed.

All I can say is that few people go through life untouched by sad times but it is possible to get over them and life happy lives again, not just in spite of them but sometimes because of them.

We’ve you’ve been in the dark valleys, the light and warmth on the mountain tops is even better.


Mite might solve wasp problem

April 22, 2014

Landcare scientists are looking at a mite which might solve the wasp problem:

There has been an explosion in the wasp population this year, with an increase in the number of willow aphids fuelling their food supply.
Scientists are looking at a mite, which causes wing deformities, which could collapse wasp colonies.
But Landcare Research scientist Ronny Groenteman warns there’s no quick solution.

“It’s a matter of several years to first of all find out if these mites are a suitable organism,” says Ms Groenteman. . .

We get the odd wasp at home but I’ve never managed to track down any nests.

But we’ve found several at our crib in Wanaka.

Nature might have a good reason for wasps but I’ve yet to find one and have no compunction about killing them.

The best way to get rid of nests is to wait until evening then dose the entrance with carbaryl so wasps entering carry it in with them.

I found two nests under sleepers in the garden this year and have seen no sign of wasps comign and going from either of them since I did that to them.

We’ve also got a trap laced with honey and water in a tree but that only catches the odd wasp.

A mite which could collapse whole colonies would be much more effective, if it works.

 


Mindset change

April 22, 2014

A change in mindset is credited for reducing the number of people on sole parent benefits  to the lowest in two decades.

A single parents’ group says “a complete change of mindset” has helped reduce the number of people on the sole parent benefit to the lowest level in more than 20 years.

Numbers on sole parent support have plunged by 8600, or 10 per cent, in the year to March.

It is the biggest drop in a single year since the benefit – previously known as the domestic purposes benefit, or DPB – was created in 1974.

Sole parent support is now being paid to 75,844 sole parents, fewer than in any year in the DPB’s history since 1988.

About 22,000 people with no children under 14 were moved to other benefits when the DPB was abolished last July, but even if they were added back in, the total number of sole parents on any kind of benefit is the lowest since 1993.

Auckland Single Parents Trust founder Julie Whitehouse said tighter rules, which require sole parents to look for part-time work when their youngest child turns 5 and fulltime work when that child turns 14, had completely changed attitudes.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s so good that I can’t even get them to volunteer time. The whole mindset has changed.”

Asked how many of her 580 members now had jobs, she said: “The shift is incredible, I’m almost tempted to say 100 per cent – it really is big. All the attitudes changed. Everybody knew that when your child is 5 you have to go to work.”

The improvement is partly due to the economic recovery. Statistics NZ surveys show employment rose by 67,000 last year and the unemployment rate dropped from 6.8 per cent to 6 per cent.

But the 10.2 per cent drop in sole-parent welfare rolls in the year to March was almost twice the 5.3 per cent drop in jobseeker support. . .

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett explains what the reduction in people on benefits means for children:

We all know that one of the best things that we can do for children is to ensure their parents are in work and not on a benefit. The Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty report said that “having a parent in paid employment is the most important way to move a child out of poverty”. That is why I am so pleased to see that there are 8,600 fewer sole parents on a benefit, and there are also 17,700 fewer children now living in beneficiary households compared with March last year, and a whopping 29,500 children fewer than 2 years ago. This Government’s investment in supporting sole parents is paying off.

Alfred Ngaro: What else do the figures show about how welfare reforms are helping children?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Fewer teenagers are having babies and going on the benefit. There are fewer of those beneficiaries. That means that the fewer whom we have going on now, the fewer we will have in the longer term, because they are the group that is most likely to stay there the longest. Teen pregnancy is falling, with 3,303 babies being born to mothers under 20 in 2013. That figure is down by 36 percent from 2008.

Hon Anne Tolley: That’s excellent.

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes, it is. It is really amazing. The benefit figures also show a 13.4 percent decrease in young parents aged 18 and under getting the young parent payment. This is a significant policy development in this area, and one that is great for teenagers and those babies. . .

The opposition has fought welfare reform at every step.

But preventing people from going onto welfare and moving those on it into work as quickly as possible is the best way to reduce poverty.
Photo: The number of people on the single parent's benefit is the lowest it has been in more than 20 years. Welfare reform is working. http://nzyn.at/1kK4cyz

 


6th birthday

April 22, 2014

Today is the sixth birthday of this blog.

It started with just a couple of posts, now I aim for at least seven a day – which includes  the regular history, rural round-up and word of the day ones.

In total there’s been 15,688 Posts  and  36,145 Comments (plus – sigh – 1,193,553 spam comments).

Some days I wonder why I do it and think I’ll take a spell but then I see something or hear something which prompts a post . . .
Thanks for dropping by and thanks especially to those who join the discussion, a conversation is much more interesting than a monologue.


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