Word of the day

July 25, 2014

Tūrangawaewae – a place to stand, a place to belong to, a seat or location of identity.

How much do you believe in?

July 25, 2014

How much do you believe in?

You believe in 6 out of 99 mysteries and unexplained phenomena!

You’re a skeptic. You’re not impressed by anything that hasn’t been definitively backed by science. You are NO FUN.

I’d qualify that as a skeptic with faith and reject the absence of fun.

Rural round-up

July 25, 2014

Federation wins rates remission against urban sprawl:

Federated Farmers is thrilled that common sense has prevailed in the Horowhenua District Council’s unanimous decision to adopt a rates remission for farms being rezoned as urban.

“Due to the urban sprawl, farmers are increasingly being rezoned as urban, and consequently being faced with enormous rates bills, but thankfully the Council listened to us and has taken a more common sense approach,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“Federated Farmers suggested a similar rates remission policy to its neighbouring Kapiti Coast, in order to avoid unnecessary costs to farming businesses, which would reduce their competitiveness with other farmers in the region. . .

Council and farmers work together – Chris Lewis:

As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”. This is now evident in the Waikato as we see comparative data in effluent compliance, prepared by the Waikato Regional Council, pre the collaborative process and to now.

With farm inspections on the ground having increased by just over 200 farms since 2012, we are seeing a conscious effort to work alongside farmers rather than be a distant enforcer. Every successful business or individual knows that their achievement depends on a community working together, with a shared vision or goal. . .

Focus on farm-exit water quality :

The Otago Water Plan’s Plan Change 6A (PC6A) was not about the Otago Regional Council using a ”big stick” to ensure compliance for water quality, chief executive Peter Bodeker said.

He said the council did not wish to dictate to land owners, farmers, horticulturists and forest owners how they managed their properties.

The council decided to take an ”effects-based approach” to controlling discharges from properties, rather than regulating operational methods, and to encourage management practices that ensured water leaving the property was of sufficient quality. . .

Gold surge tipped for Zespri – Richard Rennie:

An impending avalanche of Gold kiwifruit will present as many challenges as opportunities for growers over the next two seasons and returns are expected to ease as a result.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager used this year’s annual meeting to caution growers about the prospect of moving from a post-Psa famine in gold fruit to a feast by 2018.  

The latest harvest yielded the lowest volume yet of the high-value fruit, at 11.1 million trays, reflecting the grafting change from the disease ravaged Hort16a variety to the more Psa-tolerant Gold3 and associated varieties. . .

Ag scientist’s career marked by contrasts  – Sue O’Dowd,

Agricultural science has provided a Taranaki man with a career marked by contrasts.

There’s been the ice, snow and dry valleys of Antarctica and the desert of Saudi Arabia. Malcolm Macfarlane has also worked for the New Zealand Fire Service and in the hillcountry of the North Island’s East Coast, where he’s undertaking forage research.

Although he lives in Inglewood, where wife Rosie Mabin is Inglewood High School’s principal, he’s a scientist for Hastings-based On-Farm Research. . . .

The latest dairy farm syndicate spurns debt as investors focus on risk – Greg Ninness:

Roger Dickie NZ has launched a dairy farm investment syndicate that will have almost no debt.

The company is best known for putting together forestry investment vehicles, but its latest offering, Eastbourne Dairy Farm Ltd, will be its third dairy farm offering and it has also previously syndicated a sheep and beef property.

Eastbourne has been set up with a company structure in which investors will buy shares, with 11 million shares on offer at a dollar each and the minimum investment being $25,000.

The proceeds will be used to buy an established 241ha dairy farm in Southland and a 520 cow herd. . . .


Friday’s answers

July 25, 2014

Thursday’s questions were:

1. What does He kai kei aku ringa mean?

2. What are puku, ringa and upoko and waewae?

3.Which group launched Poi E?

4. Who said: “But I would hope however, that the diversity and differences that we have amongst and between us, we should see as a strength and as something we should celebrate rather than fear.”

5. Should all schools teach te reo?

Points for answers:

Paranormal gets 1.

Gravedodger gets 4.

PDM gets 3 1/2 (accepting he knows more about his cousin’s wife than I do).

JBLoggs gets 4 with a bonus for the explanation for #5.

Andrei gets 2 1/4 and a bonus for the explanation for #5.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Cam Calder’s valedictory

July 25, 2014

Dr CAM CALDER (National): Six years ago when I came into Parliament, some queried why: “Why has he come in? Does Parliament need yet another doctor?”. When I announced my intention to step down, again some queried: “Why him? Surely some mistake? Parliament is losing too many of its doctors.” There was no talk, as far as I know, of McCully having any incriminating photographs. I have had many different roles in my life: building roads and a * scrub-cutter in *“ “the Naki”, territorial force soldier, dental surgeon, businessman and entrepreneur, medical doctor in * accident and emergency, and a clinical research director for a private company—to name just a few. I have enjoyed them all, but at this point I would like to place on record that serving and working as a member of Parliament in New Zealand has been the best job that I have ever had—a huge amount of work, work of extraordinary variety—which I have relished every day. Though long viewing the prospect of life in the political milieu with the utmost distaste, I sought the chance to stand as a National candidate in 2008 because I was extremely concerned about the future that my children would inherit if New Zealand continued down the track it was then on. Back in 2002, upon returning from living overseas with my family, I was shocked and disturbed at what I found in New Zealand. I was shocked and disturbed at the consequences for my children, indeed all New Zealanders, if the myriad of challenges facing New Zealand were not addressed more comprehensively and more intelligently. As I saw it, I had three choices. I could return to live overseas, but I am a proud New Zealander, so that option did not appeal. I could stay and do nothing other than groan and grumble, but that did not appeal because I believe that if one does not like something, one should do one’s best to change it. The third option was to stay in New Zealand to work to make it better and to push my ideas for change on to the agenda. The choice was obvious. I joined the National Party. It was a huge pleasure to be selected to stand for National in the 2008 election in the vibrant and diverse community of * Manurewa. As a party we have never claimed to be perfect. We do not have a magic wand and we cannot change things overnight. But having come into Parliament, I was proud to set up my office in Manurewa and work within the community and on behalf of that community over the ensuing years. In 2011 I was able to face that community, knowing that everything we had said we would do as a Government, we had done and more. We are getting it right in Manurewa. We are getting it right in my colleague Kanwal Bakshi’s electorate, Manukau East, and * Māngere. We are getting it right for New Zealand. In my * maiden speech—and it only seems a few weeks ago—I observed that a society is judged by how it protects the most vulnerable. It has been a huge pleasure to be part of a Government that has protected the most vulnerable through the worst recession the world has known in 75 years. More of our infants are getting immunised, more of our young people are able to participate in early childhood education and are being screened for the precursors of rheumatic fever, over 300,000 homes have been made warmer, drier, and healthier, and crime is at a 20-year low. Tens of thousands more elective surgical procedures have been improving New Zealanders’ quality of life every year. At the same time, our economy has been among the strongest-growing economies in the * OECD and the growing economy has led to tens of thousands more jobs in the last year alone. More and more New Zealanders are being educated and acquiring the tools to fill those jobs and to unlock the ability and potential that lies within them all. In this House I have noted in the past that no Government can legislate aroha. No Government can legislate love, but through careful formulation of policies and legislation we are succeeding in wrapping services around the most vulnerable and the less well loved. People need something to believe in and someone to believe in them. The people of Manurewa and in communities all over New Zealand have seen the results of this Government believing in them and they are responding. It has been a huge pleasure for me in Manurewa to see Pacific * matai and Pacific church leaders wearing that blue * T-shirt, wearing the blue rosette in our community of Manurewa. The door has always been open, but now more and more the Pasifika community are seeing evidence of the Government’s belief and walking through that door. As * Nicolas Sarkozy said when he sought the Presidency of France: “Ensemble tous deviens possible.” Together all becomes possible. He got elected but could not bring L’Hexagon together and he did not win another term. This Government has worked with all New Zealanders and the results speak for themselves. I am proud to have worn the blue jersey and to have been part of a team that is reshaping the mesh in many different levels and areas and making our country a better place to live. What of my own personal goals and dreams on coming into Parliament? The concept of servant leadership has always resonated with me. Every morning when I look in the mirror—which I do not do for long, given what confronts me—I ask myself whether I have done the best I possibly can to honour the hard work and commitment of all those folk who work on behalf of the National Party that led to my working here and indeed whether I have done the best for all New Zealanders. I am pleased to say that the answer is generally yes, but from time to time I have found myself a bit puffed. I have unbounded admiration for our Prime Minister, whose ebullience and mastery of detail remains unmatched and whose workload is a log scale above that of anyone else in this House. In my maiden speech I outlined areas of special interest to me. Among them were: tackling New Zealand’s growing incidence of obesity, the need for more marine reserves, and a prostate cancer awareness programme for New Zealand men. I soon learnt some fundamental truths of Parliamentary life: few things move fast. As the French say: “Petit à petit l’oiseau fait le nid.” Little by little the bird makes the nest. One can plant seeds in soil, but the soil receiving the seed may or may not be fertile. The idea might lie there quiescent forever or receive a burst of interest from an unexpected quarter and suddenly flourish and be accepted. Certainly one never achieves anything in this House alone and success truly has a thousand fathers. I am gratified to note that the Government has made progress in all the above special interest areas, which I mentioned in my maiden speech, but today I make a call for more resources to be devoted to proven measures to combat the alarming incidence of obesity in New Zealand. The cost of such interventions will amply repay themselves in substantially reduced health care costs and in thousands of New Zealanders living longer, healthier, more productive lives.

My call for New Zealand to adopt a genuine progress indicator and my plan to encourage distributed power generation from renewable sources fell on stony ground. However, areas where other seeds I planted fell on more fertile soil include measures to control * low-ball share offers, the change to the right-hand rule, and a bill to make it an offence to carry a high-powered laser pointer in a public place without reasonable excuse. My * Summary Offences (Possession of High-power Laser Pointers) Amendment Bill unanimously passed its Committee stage on 25 June. I am hopeful it will pass its final reading later this evening. On my lapel I wear the * White Ribbon. This is a statement of my stand against violence towards women and children. Domestic violence—men against women, women against men—is a major challenge for New Zealand and a blot on our nation’s * escutcheon. I have proud to be a caucus champion speaking all over New Zealand on this Government’s determination to reduce the staggering number of our children harmed each year. Adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights is another concern of mine. It is an important area for consideration in all countries, including New Zealand. It is possibly the most effective area for intervention by a donor country in a developing country. In 2013, as a member of the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development, I visited the Solomon Islands. The purpose of the visit was to meet with key parliamentarians, policy makers, and key regional leaders in sexual and reproductive health and rights to encourage scaled-up action to address these issues in the Solomon Islands. Family planning and investment in this area is also the most cost-effective investment a country can make towards its own sustainable development and the well-being and empowering of its women and children. It is also a fundamental human right. However, despite decades of international agreement on the need to ensure universal access to family planning, progress in the Pacific has been slow and inequitable. Following my visit, on return to New Zealand I wrote a discussion paper entitled “Adolescent Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights in the Solomon Islands: the unmet need”. I forwarded this to the * Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I am delighted to report that the feedback I have received suggests that in future more of New Zealand’s aid to the Solomon Islands will be used in addressing these unmet needs. One comes into Parliament passionate, with a host of good intentions, but one must also have a plan. The passion has never left me, and I am grateful that in looking back on my time in Parliament I have been able to progress my plan to further many of the projects in which I have had a particular interest. At this stage I wish to acknowledge the unanimous support my member’s bill has received from across the House and note for the uninitiated that despite the theatre of question time there is an enormous amount of cooperation in the House, especially in the select committees. I particularly wish to acknowledge the collegiality and willingness to work towards the common good of all members of the * Education and Science Committee, which I have had the pleasure to chair. It is just as well, as otherwise one could be worn down by the relentless negativism that sometimes seems to pervade “Planet Parliament”. Being an MP can be a lonely role. May I thank my family: Jenny, Carla, Leisha, my brothers Rob and Don, my sister Julie, and sister-in-law Wendy, whose steadfast personal support has always been there, although I am sure my brother Rob has never voted for the party I represent, as many of the Opposition can probably testify. Talofa lava and fa‘afetai ma soifua to Telea and Fati Menefata, who have cleaned Bowen House from the day I arrived and who have always had a cheery smile and greeting every morning. The parliamentary messengers are always ready to help and keep me hydrated during the debate—I could almost use you now! My Manurewa secretary, Jenny Collins, came to me having worked for the Prime Minister. She is hugely experienced, capable, and ever helpful. I will miss you, Jen. Jamie Lee Burns was my parliamentary secretary for many years. Safe travels overseas, Jamie. The pride, the zephyrs, the O group, Dave Knowles, and my oldest mate, Lou Borok, have always been there for me. It is a great pleasure to see my old parliamentary colleague and friend * George Hawkins, long-serving * Manurewa MP, and Jan up in the gallery. George, there is a gathering tonight in the National Party caucus room—I am sure you will feel right at home. My friends from all over the House, go well. I hope our paths cross in the world. My mates in the * Parliamentary Rugby Team are a pack of good bastards. We won the * Parliamentary Rugby World Cup in 2011. Good luck in 2015. Finally, I wish to record and place on record my deep appreciation for the long-term and steadfast support of Manurewa activists Richard and Penny Laughty. The old adage is undeniable: you have got to get into it before you get out of it. I have been in it for two terms. It has been my whole life and all-consuming. I look now to a life free of the strictures of a party whip, where I can attempt to create my own reality again. Thank you. Je ne regrette rien. Kia ora. Adieu. Farewell.

Perception not reality

July 25, 2014

Federated Farmers’ president Dr William Rolleston is challenging the perception of rural reality:

Being the new President of Federated Farmers I want to ensure our discussions are informed by the facts no matter how unpalatable they may be. But facts in isolation do not always paint the whole picture. If we are to be truly informed, we need to look at all the available information and place it in context. That is why I must ask if the perception of farming’s impact on the environment is justified by the factual reality.

Some will say our dairy industry has led to ‘cowmageddon,’ which is unsurprising, given the weight of coverage about dairy cattle numbers, irrigation and a host of dairy issues.

With the finger pointed farming’s way, the Green Party claims “more than 60 percent of our monitored river sites are too polluted to swim in.” This number was recently used in a Dominion Post editorial, which saw Guy Beatson, the Ministry for the Environment’s Deputy Secretary Policy write in rebuke: “You repeat a fiction that ”a report has concluded that 60 percent of the country’s rivers are unsafe for swimming”…. Our analysis shows that more than half of the monitoring sites are within 2km of urban areas. Ninety per cent are within 10km. In other words, most monitoring occurs on large rivers near towns. Around 60 per cent of monitored sites may be considered poor or very poor for swimming, but these monitored sites are not representative and should not be scaled up to make conclusions about the health risk in all of New Zealand’s waters”.

Let me clear that water quality issues related to farming exist but the primary industries are not in a state of denial. As Lake Rotorua has shown there has been an amazing proactivity. Where a problem exists and we have a share of the responsibility, our industries are into solutions boots and all. I have experienced this first hand near where I farm, which has, in a very short space of time, assimilated and understood the problem and initiated a smart way forward.

The common reference point for talking water is NIWA’s National Rivers Network, which has used consistent measures since 1989 across 77 sites. It represents the most comprehensive snapshot of water quality we have.

If the thesis of deteriorating water and dairy cattle is solid, then NIWA’s data should reflect that. Instead, NIWA’s National Rivers Network tells us that we are largely treading water, neither going forwards or backwards, despite a major increase in dairy cattle numbers; around 900,000 in the five years to May 2013 alone.

Is stable a good enough outcome? Frankly, no it is not.

DairyNZ has given us the past five years of NIWA data to May 2013 and it shows that Nitrate levels are stable in 87 percent of the national rivers network. The six percent of the sites which deteriorated was balanced by the six percent which improved. In areas of major dairy expansion we are seeing trends that are not positive, especially with Nitrates. Then again, the newly minted National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management is designed to arrest the decline of freshwater water quality. This seminal policy involves the input of more than 60 freshwater scientists and most importantly, represents the first time such a policy has existed. Instead of perception, the numeric values involved in the National Policy Statement are based upon evidence.

The NIWA data shows that across five major indicators – Total Nitrogen, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus, Total Phosphorus and e. coli – 78 to 95 percent of rivers had remained stable with the balance improving or deteriorating in equal measure. The exceptions being Ammoniacal Nitrogen and e.coli, as the table below indicates.

(Click the link to see the table)

The ending of direct discharge of effluent into rivers some years ago and more recently, a focus on riparian management, is recognised as making a significant impact on halting the decline of phosphorus and bacteria in our waterways.

DairyNZ scientists have also plotted the excreted nitrogen load, or Nex, for each livestock type using the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Inventory. When put against StatisticsNZ data for the past 22-years to 2011, DairyNZ found the total Nitrogen load to land from farmed animals increased by seven percent. While dairy cattle numbers have doubled, we have seen the numbers of sheep plummet with a sharp fall in beef cattle too. This ‘swings and roundabouts’ helps to explain why the annual Nitrogen load to land increased from 1.45 million tonnes in 1990 to reach 1.56 million tonnes in 2011.

While the overall Nitrogen load has increased by a modest seven percent, it seems at odds with the claim and counterclaim involving intensification and change of land use. Have we allowed perception to become reality? Alternatively, does it show a romanticised ideal of past farming practices to be just that, a romanticised ideal?

With science increasingly informing better farm practice and farmers taking on the challenge of water quality, we have a responsibility to move away from sweeping generalisations to better frame our discussion around water.

A few decades ago most people in New Zealand who didn’t live on farms had family or friends who did.

That’s no longer the case and as more people know less about farms, farming and farmers their perceptions grow more distant from the reality.

If . ..

July 25, 2014

If Labour wants to help the regions:

Why is it against irrigation?

Why  does it keep calling the main road from Northland to Auckland the ‘holiday highway?

Why has it opposed all the measures National has introduced to help the economy in general and regions in particular?

%d bloggers like this: