Word of the day

June 28, 2014

Omnific – capable of making or doing anything; all-creating; having unlimited powers of creation.


Rural round-up

June 28, 2014

Sustainable farming title goes to Canterbury  – Tim Cronshaw:

Canterbury farmers have made it two years in a row after Mark and Devon Slee were named the national winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Christchurch last night.

The Gordon Stephenson trophy, farming’s top environmental and sustainable silverware, was handed to the couple by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The Slees topped a field of 10 regional winners in the competition run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE).

Their business, Melrose Dairy, is based on a property portfolio of 1014 hectares in the Ealing district, south of Ashburton. . .

Farming balancing act – Stephen Bell and Bryan Gibson:

The final decision on Ruataniwha Dam represents the way of the future for farming and the environment, which will be balancing competing needs, Massey University ecology Associate Professor Dr Russell Death says.

Farming and environmental groups have cautiously welcomed the Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry’s ruling on conditions for the $265 million dam in Central Hawke’s Bay.

However, while irrigators said commonsense had prevailed, one environment group said the decision meant the scheme’s viability was questionable.

“I guess to a certain extent both parties are right,” Death said. . .

Dam may be feasible after all – Marty Sharpe:

The correction of a relatively simple but hugely significant error in the 1000-page draft decision of the board of inquiry into the Ruataniwha dam proposal means the project may now be viable.

The board’s final decision on the dam and associated plan change was published yesterday, and corrected an “unintended consequence” in the draft decision, which inflamed farmers, farming organisations and the applicants – the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and its investment arm.

The draft decision held all farmers in the Tukituki catchment responsible for keeping the level of dissolved nitrogen in the river at 0.8 milligrams per litre of water. . .

 

Wanted: young farm workers for the future –  Gerard Hutching:

Need a sharemilker? How about employing a foreigner? Or perhaps a young New Zealander?

At the same time as the agricultural sector needs a big boost in the workforce, it has become harder to entice young people on to farms.

But it is not just a question of working on farms. The primary sector is facing a significant shortfall in skilled staff across the board, as the Government attempts to meet the ambitious target of doubling exports by 2025.

Within the primary sector, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ report People Powered, support services is the area of most acute need, followed by horticulture, forestry, the arable industry, dairy and seafood. Only the red meat and wool sector envisages a fall in workers by 5100. . .

Farming app replaces notebooks, calculators: – Anne Boswell:

A barrage of questions from his knowledge-hungry sons led dairy farmer Jason Jones to develop a livestock management application that removes the need for notebooks and calculators.

Handy Farmer, a highly-customisable app for iPhone and Android, was launched earlier this year, eight years after the idea was born.

Jones, a variable order sharemilker of 470 cows on 140ha effective near Otorohanga, said his sons started asking him “all sorts of questions” as they were learning the ropes of the dairy industry. . .

 

Online fruit and vege sales boom – Hugh Stringleman:

Online buying of fruit and vegetables is growing quickly and customers are more discerning and are prepared to pay more, the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Connections conference in Auckland has been told.

Four speakers gave perspectives from supermarket chains to fruit-and-vegetable stores.

New Zealander Shane Bourk, vice-president fresh food for Wal-Mart in China, said e-commerce was huge in China, although fresh fruit and vegetables lagged. . .


Saturday’s smiles

June 28, 2014

GREAT TRUTHS THAT LITTLE CHILDREN HAVE LEARNED:

  1. No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptise cats.
  2. When your Mum is mad at your Dad, don’t let her brush your hair.
  3. If your sister hits you, don’t hit her back. They always catch the second person.
  4. Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.
  5. You can’t trust dogs to watch your food.
  6. Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
  7. Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.
  8. You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
  9. Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
  10. The best place to be when you’re sad is Grandpa’s lap.

GREAT TRUTHS THAT ADULTS HAVE LEARNED:

  1. Raising teenagers is like nailing jelly to a tree.
  2. Wrinkles don’t hurt.
  3. Families are like fudge…mostly sweet, with a few nuts.
  4. Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground.
  5. Laughing is good exercise. It’s like jogging on the inside.
  6. Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fibre, not the toy.

GREAT TRUTHS ABOUT GROWING OLD

  1. Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
  2. You’re getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.
  3. It’s frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
  4. Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.
  5. Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes by itself.

Regions bouyant

June 28, 2014

Opposition parties have been trying to convince us the regions are in decline, but the reverse is true:

. . . The latest Westpac survey shows economic confidence has declined in most regions but remains buoyant. Respondents in the quarterly survey are not so upbeat as previously. It follows reports from some economic groups and unions that some regions outside Auckland are at risk of stagnating. ANZ Bank economists disagree with the stagnation theory. They say the idea the regions are being plundered for the benefit of the cities is simply not backed up by the statistics. “Our own Regional Trends proxy for regional economic activity puts Northland at the top of the annual growth stakes in the year to March 2014.” Canterbury and Auckland have led economic growth over the past few years. Strong rises have also been recorded by Waikato, Otago, Taranaki and Nelson-Marlborough. The ANZ commentary says to get the full story, it’s worth doing a bit of knife-and-fork economics (that’s a few dinners chatting along the way).

“While everyone talks about Christchurch, 100km down the road is a place called Ashburton; it’s booming. That’s irrigation for you. South Canterbury is riding the same wave. Central Otago is going very well with evening flights the icing on Queenstown’s cake. Ironically in Otago, it’s the city (Dunedin) that is underperforming the region. Southland is just Southland and getting on with business and not crowing about it. Blenheim just had a bumper grape harvest; Nelson has a reasonable vibe (was there last Wednesday). Taranaki – white and black gold working in tandem. Bay of Plenty – Psa being worked through (kiwifruit land prices have rebounded), they’re seeing Aucklanders relocate, and the port is going well (though the forestry sector is grinding to a halt, which is something we’re watching). Wellington – no Govt spend but lots of IT spend and investment, and Kapiti is doing nicely. Waikato – a 2-hour wait to get into Fieldays the other Friday told us something. Manawatu – trundling along solidly. There are weak spots, but this talk of cities surging and the regions being down in the dumps is just hubris. In many cases it’s not a lack of demand or opportunities holding regions back, it’s getting the available resources (particularly labour). That’s not a bad problem to have!” . .

Just like the manufactured manufacturing crisis opposition parties tried to promote, regions aren’t in decline, they’re buoyant.

 


Matariki

June 28, 2014

Today marks the start of  Matariki, the Maori New Year.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises just once a year, in mid-winter – late May or early June. For many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year.

Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.

Cycles of life and death

Traditionally, Matariki was a time to remember those who had died in the last year. But it was also a happy event – crops had been harvested and seafood and birds had been collected. With plenty of food in the storehouses, Matariki was a time for singing, dancing and feasting.

Modern Matariki

Matariki, or Māori New Year celebrations were once popular, but stopped in the 1940s. In 2000, they were revived. Only a few people took part at first, but in just a few years thousands were honouring the ‘New Zealand Thanksgiving’. A special feature of Matariki celebrations is the flying of kites – according to ancient custom they flutter close to the stars.

The Northern hemisphere celebrates mid-summer but here it’s over-shadowed by Christmas and New Year which follow it.

Matariki provides us with an opportunity for a mid-winter celebration.

Some have suggested making it a holiday but the changing date would make that problematic.

Besides, we shouldn’t need an official holiday to celebrate – it’s something we can do with family and friends by ourselves or in our communities as we choose.

The coldest weather is almost certainly still to come, but we’re now nearer spring than autumn which is as good an excuse as any for some fun.


Balancing victims’ rights

June 28, 2014

Victims of serious violent and sexual crimes will be better protected by a new order to help prevent their offender from contacting them, Justice Minister Judith Collins says.

The Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill, which passed its final reading today, creates a ‘non-contact order’ to reduce the risk of unwanted contact between victims and their offender.

“Victims of serious crime deserve peace of mind, so they can recover and move on with their lives,” Ms Collins says.

“This Government has made perfectly clear its commitment to putting victims at the heart of our criminal justice system. Introducing these non-contact orders is one more way to ensure victims feel safe and protected from further offending.” 

The new orders can be applied to a person who has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for a specified violent or sexual offence. The orders may also prohibit the offender from contacting the victim in any way, including by electronic means. Where necessary, the orders may ban the offender from entering, living, or working in a particular area.

Victims will be able to apply to the court for a non-contact order at any time after the offender has been sentenced.  An order can also cover an offender’s associates.

Ms Collins says the new orders reinforce the Government’s commitment to putting victims at the heart of the criminal justice system.

“The passage of this Bill supports this Government’s unrelenting commitment to putting victims first. We’re ensuring victims’ are protected and their voices in our criminal justice system remain strong.”

This measure tips the balance of justice in favour of victims.

We’re delivering on our commitment to put victims at the heart of our criminal justice system by protecting them from further offending. https://www.national.org.nz/news/news/media-releases/detail/2014/06/24/new-orders-will-protect-and-make-victims-strong


It’s the party vote that counts

June 28, 2014

The absence of so many of Labour’s sitting MPs and candidates from its list raises questions about those people’s focus.

The confusion is compounded by comments like this from Dunedin South MP Clare Curran:

. . . ”I’m 100% committed to the party vote around Dunedin and the region. My total focus will be on this campaign and that is behind my decision to withdraw from the list.” . . .

Not being on the list sends a strong signal that she’ll be campaigning to hold her seat as the only way to remain in parliament. Quite how that helps maximise the party vote isn’t clear.

National won the party vote in Dunedin South in 2011. The first priority of its candidate, Dunedin born-and-bred Hamish Walker is to build on that but Curran is vulnerable in the seat too.

So are at least four other Labour MPs.

. . . In a sign that National is taking nothing for granted sources say it has also targeted four Labour MPs in seats it thinks it can win – Trevor Mallard in Hutt South, Ruth Dyson in Port Hills, Damien O’Connor in West Coast and Iain Lees-Galloway in Palmerston North.

National’s strategy could disrupt Labour’s efforts to maximise the party vote, given that the survival of those MPs could hinge on them campaigning for the electorate vote instead to keep their political careers afloat. . .

A majority of the electorate votes will keep an MP in, or get a candidate into, parliament.

But it’s the party vote which gets them in to government.

That should always be the priority and in spite of the polls, there is no certainty over which parties will be in government after the election:

. . . With a string of polls showing National around 50 per cent, Key will warn them that voter turnout could be the decider and not to assume the election is a done deal.

‘‘I will reiterate the message that while National is doing very well in the polls in reality this is going to be a very tight election,’’ Key said yesterday.

‘‘This is a race to 61 seats and despite the fact Labour is polling very poorly it could still hold hands with the Greens and NZ First, potentially Internet-Mana, and form a government. So there is no room for complacency within National.’’  . . .

Labour’s dismal polling and unpopular leader should make an election win easy for National, but it’s the total block of party votes for right or left that matters and that will allow one or other of those parties to lead the next government.


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