Rural round-up

29/07/2014

Cuff calling time as CEO – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff is stepping down in December after nine years in the position.

Yesterday, Mr Cuff (56) told the Otago Daily Times his decision was not sudden and he had been thinking about it for a while, looking for the right time to stand down.

During his 24-year tenure with Alliance Group, Mr Cuff held various executive positions including general manager commercial, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive. . .

Beet + Lamb New Zealand give support to MIE business plan:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Board has approved funding for the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s Business Plan to support red meat sector initiatives.

The decision to approve the funding application comes following farmers voting in support of an MIE remit at the B+LNZ Annual Meeting in March of this year, seeking funding support for MIE initiatives.

The $219,000 project includes MIE contracting independent consulting firms to research improved procurement models, flow on effects on industry profitability and communicating these findings to the sector. . .

DOC: 1080 drop last chance to save mohua – Neil Rately:

The Department of Conservation has confirmed it will dump 1080 on almost 7000 hectares of Waikaia Forest in Northern Southland because of high rat counts.

An aerial drop of 1080 is the only way to ensure the survival of the endangered mohua (yellowhead) and other threatened species during a heavy beech mast, DOC says.

Catlins services ranger Cheryl Pullar said pest control might be the last chance for Waikaia mohua, which was thought to be lost during the beech mast in 2000.

Environment Southland had granted DOC consent for the drop and it would go ahead in August or September, she said. . .

Workers with experience in high demand – Rob Tipa:

Where have all the skilled farm workers gone?

That is the question that has plagued the dairy industry for years but it now extends to a shortage of experienced farm managers and shepherds with well-trained teams of dogs on sheep and beef farms.

Despite relatively high unemployment levels nationally, the chronic shortage of trained staff in the dairy industry has been well documented.

But a new survey of farmers suggests the shortage of workers affects all sectors of agriculture. . .

Overseer expands for new demands

As the nutrient-budgeting computer-modelling program Overseer becomes ever more central to fresh water management in New Zealand, its developers are working flat-out to expand its capabilities to match new demands.

First developed in the 1990s, Overseer has steadily evolved as a farming tool, becoming ever- more complex, able to calculate loss of nitrates to water, phosphate run-off and greenhouse gas emissions from nine separate farming systems, including dairying and arable.

Regional councils are now using Overseer in the development of water plans, with Canterbury farmers now expected to use it to calculate their average nitrogen losses over the past four years to establish their “nitrogen baseline”, the upper limit for future farming enterprises. . .

Semen collecting is tricky and dangerous – Sonita Chandar:

Working with penises, semen and testicles is no laughing matter but a sense of humour is essential, says a bull whisperer.

Interposing yourself between an amorous bull and the object of its lust is a dangerous occupation, but for semen collector Robyn How, of the Tararua Breeding Centre in Woodville, it is a fascinating way of life.

Born and raised in Australia, How became passionate about cattle after helping a friend with show animals. While doing an artificial insemination course, she found she had a natural ability to read bulls.

She bought a 6ha lifestyle block in Woodville in 1997 and started the breeding centre the next year with Auckland-based business partner and embryo transfer veterinarian Eddie Dixon. . .


SMEs want four-year term

29/07/2014

Small and medium enterprises want a four-year parliamentary term:

A longer parliamentary term and fewer members of Parliament are two key changes that New Zealand business owners would like to see, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR).

The survey showed that 70% of participants wanted the parliamentary term increased to four years and 60% would like to see the number of MPs or seats in Parliament reduced. Fifteen percent wanted the parliamentary term extended to five years.

Greg Thompson, Partner and National Director, Tax at Grant Thornton New Zealand, said that the desire to have a longer parliamentary term recognises the maturity of the New Zealand political system since the introduction of MMP.

“MMP, compared with the old first-past-the-post system, gives a much wider representation in parliament which in turn takes longer for decisions to get through the system.

“Just look at the Government’s assets sales programme where it wasn’t possible to implement the entire programme in one election cycle. This disjointedness then flowed on to the capital markets with a loss of general cohesion in the New Zealand economy.” . . .

The survey also showed that 38% thought that MMP was the best scenario while 32% thought it should be abolished.

“It is becoming very obvious that with MMP and multiple parties there is always the ongoing need to ‘do a deal’ which takes time.

“For the business owner, this deal making slows down political processes which hinders their own decision making. What a business owner wants is clarity and stability upon which they can plan. The present electoral system and term does not deliver those two requirements.

“While there is a general acceptance of MMP, the fact that 60% of the respondents want the number of MPs or seats in Parliament reduced indicates a belief that ‘too many cooks’ are slowing down the parliamentary process. They prefer quality to quantity,” he said.

Lowering the quantity of MPs isn’t a guarantee there’d be an improvement in the quality of them.

As long was we have MMP any reduction in the number of MPs would make too many electorates too big.

In comparison with New Zealand’s three-year term, the United States and the United Kingdom have four and five year election cycles respectively. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to retain a three-year cycle.

Elections slow down activity in government departments and create uncertainty which is unsettling for businesses.

A four year term would be less expensive – giving us three elections every 12 years instead of four – and improve productivity within the public service and private enterprises.


Each vote is powerful

29/07/2014

The Electoral Commission has launched a campaign to encourage people to enrol and vote:

More non-voters than ever before say they don’t feel like their vote is worth anything, or that their opinion matters.

It’s a trend that concerns the Electoral Commission, and the reason for a new campaign to help connect New Zealanders with the power of their vote.

“We are lucky to live in a strong democracy where we all get to play a part,” says Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden. “Our democracy is important, every single vote is important, and every New Zealander’s voice deserves to be heard.”

“No matter who we are, where we live, or where we’re from, we are all equal on election day.”

“We want all New Zealanders to think about why voting matters, to think about what it means for them, their family and their community,” says Mr Peden. “We want them to enrol, and we want them to vote on September 20.”

Launching this weekend, the Commission’s new campaign uses real people, not actors, speaking from the heart about why voting matters to them. . .

A website – www.ivotenz.org.nz has more about the campaign.

The latest Stuff-Ipsos poll shows 77% intend to vote.

When the remainder were asked what might put them off voting, 17.6 per cent said it was too difficult to get to a polling station, while 8 per cent said they were too busy and a further 8 per cent said they didn’t know enough about the issues or the candidates. . . .

Too difficult to get to a polling station or too busy is a poor excuse for most.

Anyone can cast an advance vote from September 3rd and there’s provision for casting special votes.

Advance voting makes it easy for anyone who can’t get to a voting place in their electorate on election day. This may be because of work, sickness, infirmity, disability, being away from home or for any other reason.

Information about where, when and how to vote in advance is available closer to election day for any by-election or general election. Information on voting in advance will also be in your EasyVote information pack, which you will receive about a week before election day, or on freephone 0800 36 76 56.

If you’re unable to vote in advance, you can cast a special vote.

Casting a Special Vote

You will need to cast a special vote if you are:

  • unable to get to a voting place or advance voting place in your electorate; or
  • not enrolled by Writ Day or
  • on the unpublished roll.

To receive special voting papers, you will need to complete a special declaration form.

Before election day you can:

  • go into an advance voting place. You will be given a declaration form to complete and your voting papers; or
  • complete and post an application for special declaration voting papers to your Returning Officer. They will send your voting papers and declaration; or
  • apply for voting papers by fax, e-mail or telephone from your Returning Officer.

Your completed voting papers must be received by the Returning Officer or a voting place no later than 7pm on election day.

On election day you can go into a voting place. You will be given a declaration form to complete and your voting papers.

Need help to get your special voting papers?

You can complete the application for special declaration voting papers and ask another person to take it to your Returning Officer, advance voting place or a voting place. They will then bring you back your voting papers and declaration.

Your completed voting papers must be received by the Returning Officer or a voting place no later than 7pm on election day.

Need help to vote?

Someone may need help to vote if they:

  • are blind or vision impaired, or
  • have severe difficulties reading or writing,
  • or have difficulty with the English language

If you need help to read or mark your voting papers, a friend, family member or electoral officials can help. Just ask when you go to vote or freephone 0800 36 76 56 to find out more.

Anyone who doesn’t speak English can take a friend or family member to the advance voting or voting place to help. . .

Political parties always advertise that they will take people to a polling booth or help with a special vote.

Family members, friends and neighbours can also help with a special vote.

Working on the day isn’t an excuse either.

Polls are open from 9am until 7pm and people are legally entitled to a break to allow them to vote.

I have some sympathy for people who don’t know enough about the parties or candidates because the media spends a lot more time on sideshows than analysis of policies and generally doesn’t do details.

But there is plenty of information on-line and anyone who approached a party for information would get more than enough.

A few people deliberately don’t vote but for most people the answers given in the poll are just excuses for not wanting to vote.

If someone really wanted to vote only some unforeseen illness, accident or other calamity would stop them.

People in some countries are still literally dying for the right to vote.

We have the freedom to vote and we are also free to not vote.

For a few that might be a considered action but those excuses given are spurious for most non-voters who don’t understand or don’t care that each and every vote is powerful.


Gotcha doesn’t get voters

29/07/2014

John Armstrong writes on the disease of gotcha politics:

It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a creeping cancer of the New Zealand body politic.

Regardless of whether it is John Key or David Cunliffe who has the numbers on election night to pick up the reins of power, so-called “gotcha politics” is almost guaranteed to be the big winner of the 2014 election campaign.

If it is voters will be the losers.

“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.

It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.

It is also negative.

That’s what makes Labour’s exhortation to vote positive so oxymoronic because they’ve spent so much of this parliamentary term being so negative.

At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.

What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.

Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.

Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?

No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.

When politicians get ahead of the judicial process justice for both the victim and the accused are the losers.

It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.

One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.

It’s the Opposition’s role to hold a government to account but it should be able to do that on issues rather than personalities.

If it can’t then it is not ready for government.

The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.

In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.

And an election campaign provides the happiest of all hunting grounds for such practices.

I am sure this is one of the reasons so many people are disenchanted with politics and that voter turnout is dropping.

Serious analysis and intelligent debate of issues has been replaced by a focus on personalities and sideshows.

Gotcha politics might be entertaining but it doesn’t get the majority of voters, on the contrary it turns many off.

 


“Typical MP looks male”

29/07/2014

Rob Salmond thinks he knows why National has more male candidates:

. . . National leaves everything to its local branch, to simply vote up the candidate they like. They vote in complete isolation from the broader needs of the party – they focus only on their area.

A simple vote in a single seat election like this (the “seat” here is the right to stand for National in a particular electorate) is well known to advantage males. It is a lowest common denominator effect, where a male candidate – by virtue of entrenched mental images of what a “typical” MP look like – is more likely to be the one that the fewest people object to. As a psychological level, candidates who in any way represent a change to the status quo face an uphill battle in a single-seat election, as people who have no reason to object to the status quo (through either disinterest or design) feel some level of threat. . .

What utter tosh.

How could anyone think a typical MP looks male in the 21st century?

We’ve had two women Prime Ministers, several other female co-leaders, lots of women ministers and MPs. We’ve also had and have MPs of both genders of a variety of ethnicities.

If there ever was a typical MP look-alike there is no longer.

If Salmond had looked at the two women candidates selected by National electorates this year he’d realise how silly his supposition is:

Sarah Dowie who won the Invercargill selection could hardly look less like sitting MP Eric Roy:

shoes 2

Taranaki King Country  candidate Barbara Kuriger looks very different from retiring MP Shane Adern.

Both women were selected in a transparent and democratic process by members in the electorate.

And while both look very different from the men they are working very hard to replace they do share their National Party values, commitment to their electorates and strong desire to serve them well.

The problem with gender balance is not National’s fair and democratic selection process.

As a party insider I can say unequivocally that there is no preconceived notion of any typical MP look-alike among members. In any selections I’ve been involved in, delegates didn’t care about gender they were seeking to get the best people for the job.

One reason other parties have a better gender balance is that they have more list MPs.

Good list MPs work hard. But electorate MPs have less choice about the demands on their time and energy and women who want a more active role in parenting can find it too difficult to balance them both.

Parliament and life as an MP aren’t family-friendly.

Improving that would do more to help attract more women than reducing democracy within the National Party.


July 29 in history

29/07/2014

1014  Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars: Battle of Kleidion: Byzantine emperor Basil II inflicted a decisive defeat on the Bulgarian army.

1030  Ladejarl-Fairhair succession wars: Battle of Stiklestad – King Olaf II fought and died trying to regain his Norwegian throne from the Danes.

1565 The widowed Mary, Queen of Scots, married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, Duke of Albany at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.

1567  James VI was crowned King of Scotland at Stirling.

1588 Anglo-Spanish War: Battle of Gravelines – English naval forces under command of Lord Charles Howard and Sir Francis Drake defeated the Spanish Armada off the coast of Gravelines, France.

1693 War of the Grand Alliance: Battle of Landen – France won a Pyrrhic victory over Allied forces in the Netherlands.

1793  John Graves Simcoe decided to build a fort and settlement at Toronto.

1830  Abdication of Charles X of France.

1836  Inauguration of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

1847 Cumberland School of Law was founded in Lebanon, Tennessee.

1848 Irish Potato Famine: Tipperary Revolt – an unsuccessful nationalist revolt against British rule was put down by police.

1851  Annibale de Gasparis discovered asteroid 15 Eunomia.

1858 United States and Japan signed the Harris Treaty.

1883 Benito Mussolini, Italian dictator, was born (d. 1945).

1891 Bernhard Zondek German-born Israeli gynecologist, developer of first reliable pregnancy test, was born (d. 1966).

1899  The First Hague Convention was signed.

1900 King Umberto I of Italy was assassinated by Italian-born anarchist Gaetano Bresci.

1901  The Socialist Party of America founded.

1905 Stanley Kunitz, American poet, was born (d. 2006).

1907 Sir Robert Baden Powell set up the Brownsea Island Scout camp in Poole Harbour. The camp ran from August 1-9, 1907, and is regarded as the foundation of the Scouting movement.

1920 Construction of the Link River Dam began as part of the Klamath Reclamation Project.

1921  Adolf Hitler became leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party.

1925 Mikis Theodorakis, Greek composer, was born.

1937  Tongzhou Incident – assault on Japanese troops and civilians by Japanese-trained East Hopei Army in Tōngzhōu, China.

1945  The BBC Light Programme radio station was launched.

1948 The Games of the XIV Olympiad – after a hiatus of 12 years caused by World War II, the first Summer Olympics to be held opened in London.

1957  The International Atomic Energy Agency was established.

1958  U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

1959  John Sykes, British guitarist (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Tygers of Pan Tang), was born.

1965  Tfirst 4,000 101st Airborne Division paratroopers arrived in Vietnam.

1967 USS Forrestal caught on fire  killing 134.

1967  During the fourth day of celebrating its 400th anniversary, the city of Caracas, Venezuela was shaken by an earthquake, leaving approximately 500 dead.

1981 Up to 2000 anti-Springbok tour protestors were confronted by police who used batons to stop them marching up Molesworth Street to the home of South Africa’s Consul to New Zealand.

Police baton anti-tour protestors near Parliament

1981 Marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer.

1987  British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President of France François Mitterrand signed the agreement to build a tunnel under the English Channel (Eurotunnel).

1988 The film Cry Freedom was seized by South African authorities.

1987  Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi and President of Sri Lanka J. R. Jayawardene signed the Indo-Lankan Pact on ethnic issues.

1993  The Israeli Supreme Court acquitted alleged Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk of all charges.

2005  Astronomers announced their discovery of Eris.

2010 – An overloaded passenger ferry capsized on the Kasai River in Bandundu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, resulting in at least 80 deaths.

2013 – Two passenger trains collided in the Swiss municipality of Granges-près-Marnand near Lausanne injuring 25 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Conservatives on their own

28/07/2014

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out any electoral deal between National and the Conservative Party.

Prime Minister John Key today made clear National’s position on accommodating support parties in electorate contests at this year’s General Election.

The National Party and its partners have successfully provided stable MMP government over two terms of Parliament and through challenging times.

“We will be seeking a further mandate on September 20,” says Mr Key.

“In an MMP environment, the public determines the make-up of Parliament by voting in a combination of parties, and every election is a tight contest.”
“After the election, political parties must work constructively to form and maintain a stable Government and voters want to know what party combinations are possible.”

In January, the Prime Minister made it clear that if National were returned to Government this election, the preference is to continue working with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future as this has been a successful combination.

He also made it clear it would be possible to add the Conservative Party and New Zealand First to this group.

Today he outlined National’s position on electorate contests for the 2014 election campaign.
“We’re seeking to maximise the party vote for National across the country in all seats. It is only through delivering the strongest possible party vote that National voters will return National to Government.”

“For the electorate vote, we will encourage National party supporters to give their electorate vote to the ACT candidate in Epsom and the United Future candidate in Ohariu.”

“We will continue to seek to maximise our party votes in those electorates and that’s what National Party candidates will be working hard to do.

“In East Coast Bays, where the Conservatives have a candidate, the only option to accommodate that party would be to remove a sitting MP from the ballot paper and that, as I have said, is a bridge too far. So there will be no electorate accommodation with the Conservatives.”

“However, we are happy to consider working with the Conservative party post-election should the public vote that party in to Parliament.”

“As I have said previously we are also prepared to discuss working with New Zealand First if that party is returned to Parliament.”

“In Epsom and Ōhariu, both ACT and United Future share a history of working with National and those are proven relationships that have stood the test of time.”

“National doesn’t always agree with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future on every issue, but together our four parties have maintained a stable and successful Government since late 2008.”

“Under the National-led Government, New Zealand is heading in the right direction and if re-elected, National will continue to work hard for all New Zealanders.”

Conservative leader Colin Craig wanted sitting East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully to stand aside so he could have a better chance at winning the seat.

Had that happened in my electorate I would have found it very difficult to vote for him rather than my National MP.

This would have been very different from Ohariu and Epsom. Peter Dunne was the local MP before MMP and Rodney Hide won Epsom when then sitting-MP Richard Worth was trying to hold it.

The people in these electorates chose someone other than the National candidates first and they keep doing that.

This year they can choose to do that again, or not.

That is very different from taking a choice away by pulling a long-serving and popular MP.

If it had been done and Craig won, any votes that counted for the Conservatives which might have helped National form a government could well have been cancelled out by National voters turned off by that thought who’d then vote for another party.

 


Word of the day

28/07/2014

 Pithanology – persuasive or seductive speech or argument; the use of specious or plausible arguments; sophistry.


Rural round-up

28/07/2014

Farmers make energy and water savings – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers stand to make big savings on both electricity and water if they introduce energy-efficient measures to their irrigation systems.

Twelve farmers who took part in a recent pilot project could save an average of $7444 a year on electricity. On average, they would have to spend $25,888 on upgrading their systems, but the payback period would be just 3.5 years.

The farmers found they could significantly cut the amount of water they used, between 10 and 15 days over a six-month season, providing further energy savings because irrigators were not needed.

Nationwide, irrigation uses about 2.5 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity for pressurised spray systems covering 625,151 hectares. . .

Work starts on Northland flood clean-up – Hugh Stringleman:

Task Force Green work teams will begin clearing up this week after prolonged storms and floods in Northland.

Three teams of four, plus a supervisor, have been trained in equipment safety and will be clearing fences, removing flood debris from paddocks, and cutting up fallen trees in commercial orchards.

Two of the government-funded Task Force Green teams would be based in Whangarei and the other in Kaikohe, Rural Support Trust Northland co-ordinator Julie Jonker said.

Farmers and orchardists with severe damage had been asked to advise the trust to get a clearer picture of the needs, she said. . .

European Union changes might help Kiwi cause – Nigel Stirling:

The inward-looking culture of farming in the European Union is changing.

That augured well for New Zealand’s chances of a long-awaited free-trade agreement (FTA), but the case still needed to be made how such an agreement could benefit Europe, the union’s top official in this country said.

NZ’s large footprint as an agricultural producer has been a big factor in it being put at the back of the queue for a trade deal with the EU.   . .

Eye-in-the-sky scrutiny monitors winter crops – Allison Beckham:

Environment Southland staff are assessing the most cost-effective way to map land planted in winter forage crops using satellite imagery, after a pilot study last year showed the most accurate method was also the most expensive.

The council wanted to map the extent of crops such as kale and swedes, the use of which was known to lift levels of soil contaminants including nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E.coli, council soil and science programme co-ordinator George Ledgard said. . . .

Paddock to plate, and smart roads possible:

New Zealand’s international brand and exports could grow significantly with the creation of a data sharing ‘eco-system’ according to paper released by the NZ Data Futures Forum today.

Food traceability or ‘paddock to plate’ tracking is one of a number of kick start projects recommended in the paper that would see New Zealand become a world leader in the trusted use of data.

 “New Zealand has got a real opportunity here. If we can create an ‘eco-system’ for data, we can unlock huge value, but to do this we need to treat data as a national asset,” says Forum Chair John Whitehead.

The paper suggests a range of initiatives including the establishment of an independent data council and an open data champion to drive innovation through data sharing.  The data council would act as an independent ‘guardian’ to ensure trust, privacy and security are maintained. . .

Extractor hopeful over hemp uses:

Ashburton company Oil Seed Extractions has been waiting a long time for a change in legislation which would enable it to sell food products made from hemp in Australasia.

The producer of seed oils for the food, skin care and health sectors, and its parent company Midlands Seed, were among the first companies in New Zealand to be granted a licence to grow hemp back in 2001-2002.

The companies were also the first to grow and process hemp seed into oil for retail sale and two years ago Oil Seed Extractions became the first New Zealand company to produce hemp seed protein. . .

James had heavenly help with his garden – Bridget Railton:

God has a garden and it’s located near Tokanui.

That’s what 86-year-old Southland man James Pirie says of the expanse of native bushland he’s been preserving since he bought it about 15 years ago.

The Morton Mains sheep farmer is among the 30-odd nominees for the Southland Environment Awards this week for his work preserving a block of native bush fondly dubbed “God’s Garden” about 3km from Tokanui on the Southern Scenic Highway.

“The way I look at it, why put a whole lot of work into planting native trees when you can preserve something that’s already there,” he explains. . .

 


Nick’s right

28/07/2014

Fish and Game have their lines snared over Conservation Minister Nick Smith:

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has been accused of bullying Fish and Game into ending its campaign for cleaner rivers and lakes.

The minister met with the Fish and Game Council in Wellington earlier this month where he was “deeply critical” of the organisation, says an attendee, Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes.

Mr Haynes told NZ Newswire Dr Smith was “clearly displeased” about the Fish and Game’s current anti-irrigation billboard campaign calling for better water quality in the country’s lakes and rivers.

“He specifically cited those billboards as something he’s displeased with. The minister was firing a very clear warning shot across the bows of Fish and Game that ‘I don’t like that campaign, don’t be noisy and pull your necks in’.”

Mr Haynes said Dr Smith “also said we need to change the Fish and Game model. I have no idea what he meant by that… but it didn’t sound very friendly.”

Mr Haynes said he was highly insulted when Dr Smith told those present at the public meeting that the organisation “sometimes behaves like a rabid NGO, worse than Forest and Bird”. . .

Bullying is an over-used and in this case inappropriate word for what the Minister said.
If the organisation gets political, as it does, it can expect a political response.
Fish and Game does sometime behave like a rabid NGO.

The worst example in recent times was going to court against farmers and the government in an attempt to get unfettered access to farms under pastoral leases.

Jordan Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers’ Union says the Minister is right to give Fish and Game a serve:

“We agree with the Minister that the election campaigning of Fish and Game is a gross breach of faith for a statutory body.”

“If a group of fishermen want to create an offshoot of the Green Party good on them – but they should pay for campaigning out of their own pocket not use statutory powers to charge for licences to fund political lobbying.”

“Nick Smith is right to be concerned that Fish and Game use its fishing tax to fund billboards endorsing the Green Party. Until Fish and Game put an end to taxpayer funded political campaigning, it should not be entitled to receive income from compulsory fishing and hunting licenses.”

However, the Minister refutes the claims made by Haynes:

. . . “The claims about what I said at the meeting are untrue. I am releasing these hand-written notes taken at the time by the departmental official from DOC’s head office responsible for Fish & Game who was at the meeting. His account is very different from that of Mr Haines, and is an accurate account of what was discussed. The notes are exactly as they were taken down at the time before any controversy arose,” Dr Smith says.

“Mr Haines is a long-time critic of me as Conservation Minister, most recently over 1080. He is not neutral and his deliberate misrepresentation of the meeting is driven by politics and the election season. I am taking legal advice over his statements. I have been a long-term advocate for improving New Zealand’s water quality, including putting in place New Zealand’s first National Policy Statement on Freshwater, and I find his statements offensive and defamatory.”

The notes are here and what they say the Minister said looks very reasonable to me.

I’d back the Minister  and his staff’s notes over Haynes whose outburst will have done nothing to help relationships with many of those who fund his organisation.

Fish and Game is funded by a tax on fishing and hunting licences.

Many of those who pay that tax are farmers who are incensed at the organisation’s blinkered and one-sided approach to issues and what isn’t just political campaigning but partisan political campaigning.


What matters

28/07/2014

The sideshow might be entertaining for the media and political tragics.

But what really matters is that government policies are working for New Zealand and New Zealanders.

One of the most important of those is in crime reduction which has economic and social benefits.

Crime is awful for victims and costly for taxpayers.

Reducing crime reduces the number of victims and it also redirects criminals to more honest and gainful pursuits.

 

We’re making our communities safer. New Zealand is experiencing its lowest crime rate since 1978. http://ntnl.org.nz/1kexYhI #Working4NZ


Labour wants to meddle in meat industry

28/07/2014

Labour loves to meddle in businesses where it has no business to be and if it gets into government it will be meddling in the meat industry:

Labour will create more jobs and wealth by providing the leadership and funding to help participants reform the meat sector through developing a larger scale sustainable model as part of our Economic Upgrade for the sector, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“The meat sector continues to decline and must meet new challenges to maintain a secure and skilled workforce. Like our wider economy it needs an upgrade to compete overseas.

“Labour will do this by encouraging the creation of businesses with real market scale and, if required, we will look to amend the Commerce Act to achieve this aim. We will also work with Iwi and large agricultural companies to consolidate efforts and interests for the long term. . .

The meat industry is dominated by two farmer-owned co-operatives and there are also several smaller players.

What they do and how they do it is primarily the business of these businesses and their shareholders.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has repeatedly, and correctly, said he will not intervene unless there sector comes up with a plan supported by the players which requires his assistance.

Anything else would be interference in private enterprise where the government has no right to be.

The industry does have challenges but Guy, and the National Party, understand any change in the meat industry must come from farmers and the processing companies.

Any attempt to impose a solution from the government down would be expensive and have the potential to contravene free trade agreements.


Not good enough

28/07/2014

Last night’s  ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll  continued the trend of National doing much better than labour and its potential coalition partners:

Less than two months from polling day National has stretched its lead over the centre left parties of Labour and the Greens.

National has climbed to 52% in the latest ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll while Labour is down one point to 28%. . .

Labour on 28% is just above its 2011 election result and the Greens have also slipped, dropping two points to 10%.

New Zealand First is steady on 4% and Internet Mana is on 2% while the Conservatives are up one to 2%. Act stays on 1% and the Maori Party is down one to 1%.

When converted into seats in Parliament, National would easily govern alone with 66 seats. Labour would have 36, with the Greens mustering 13 and the Maori Party three. Internet Mana would bring in three MP, while Act and United Future would have one apiece. . .

Both Labour and the Green party have lost support.

It’s possible that hard-line left voters have gone to Internet Mana and soft centre voters have been put-off by the thought of a Labour Green, New Zealand First, Internet Mana Party and have moved right.

This is good news for National and those who want the party to continue leading a government that is working well for New Zealand.

However, it’s not good enough.

The party was polling at similar levels before the last election and slipped.

One reason for that was low voter turn-out.

Labour thinks most of those who didn’t vote were their supporters but there was a disappointing number of National voters who didn’t vote for a variety of reasons, including thinking that the polls were so good they didn’t need to.

There is a danger that could happen again which is why all National candidates and their teams are working hard to maximise the party vote which is the one that counts for forming a government.


July 28 in history

28/07/2014

1364  Battle of Cascina.

1540 Thomas Cromwell was executed at the order of Henry VIII on charges of treason.

1540  Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

1609 Bermuda was first settled by survivors of the English ship Sea Venture en route to Virginia.

1794 Maximilien Robespierre was executed by guillotine.

1809 Peninsular War: Battle of Talavera: Sir Arthur Wellesley’s British, Portuguese and Spanish army defeated a French force under Joseph Bonaparte.

1821  José de San Martín declared the independence of Peru from Spain.

1844 Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet, was born (d. 1889).

1864  American Civil War: Battle of Ezra Church: Confederate troops made a third unsuccessful attempt to drive Union forces from Atlanta, Georgia.

1865  Welsh settlers arrived at Chubut in Argentina.

1866 Beatrix Potter, English author, was born (d. 1943).

1868  The 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was passed, establishing African-American citizenship and guaranteeing due process of law.

1879 Lucy Burns, American suffragist, was born (d. 1966)

1893 The third massive suffrage petition was presented to Parliament in three years, this one was signed by nearly 32,000 women − almost a quarter of the entire adult European female population of New Zealand.

Women's suffrage petition presented

1901 Rudy Vallee, American entertainer, was born (d. 1986).

1902 Karl Popper, Austrian-born philosopher, was born (d. 1994).

1907 Earl Tupper, American inventor (tupperware) was born(d. 1983).

1909 Malcolm Lowry, English novelist, was born (d. 1957).

1914 World War I: Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after Serbia rejects the conditions of an ultimatum sent by Austria on July 23 following the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand.

1929 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, First Lady of the United States, was born (d. 1994).

1935 First flight of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

1936 Garfield Sobers, Barbadian West Indies cricketer, was born.

1942   Soviet leader Joseph Stalin issued Order No. 227 in response to alarming German advances into the Soviet Union. Under the order all those who retreated or otherwise left their positions without orders to do so were to be immediately executed.

1943 : Operation Gomorrah: The British bombed Hamburg causing a firestorm that killed 42,000 German civilians.

1943   Richard Wright, English musician, was born (Pink Floyd) (d. 2008).

1945 Jim Davis, American cartoonist, was born.

1945  A U.S. Army B-25 bomber crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building killing 14 and injuring 26.

1948 Gerald Casale, American musician and director (founding member of Devo), was born.

1948 The Metropolitan Police Flying Squad foiled a bullion robbery in the “Battle of London Airport”.

1949 Peter Doyle, Australian singer (The New Seekers), was born (d. 2001).

1955 The Union Mundial pro Interlingua was founded at the first Interlingua congress in Tours, France.

1957 Heavy rain and a mudslide in Isahaya, western Kyūshū, Japan, killed 992.

1965 Vietnam War: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his order to increase the number of United States troops in South Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000.

1973  Summer Jam at Watkins Glen: 600,000 people attended a rock festival at the Watkins Glen International Raceway.

1976  The Tangshan earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 moment magnitude flattened Tangshan, China, killing 242,769 and injuring 164,851.

1996  Kennewick Man, the remains of a prehistoric man, was discovered near Kennewick, Washington.

2001 Australian Ian Thorpe became the first swimmer to win six gold medals at a single World Championships.

2002  Nine coal miners trapped in the flooded Quecreek Mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, were rescued after 77 hours underground.

2005 The Provisional Irish Republican Army called an end to its thirty year long armed campaign in Northern Ireland.

2005  Tornadoes touched down in a residential areas in south Birmingham & Coventry causing £4,000,000 worth of damages and injuring 39 people.

2008  The historic Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare burned down for the second time in 80 years.

2010 – Airblue Flight 202 crashed into the Margalla Hills north of Islamabad, Pakistan, killing all 152 people aboard. It was the deadliest aviation accident in Pakistan history and the first involving an Airbus A321.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Another candidate from political crypt

27/07/2014

The Mana Party is following its stable-mate the Internet Party in dragging out candidates from the political crypt:

The world’s first openly transsexual MP Georgina Beyer is standing for the Mana Party in the Te Tai Tonga electorate.

Ms Beyer will stand in the Maori seat, which covers the entire South Island, Stewart Island, Chatham Islands, Wellington and parts of the Hutt Valley.

She has links to the electorate through her Te Ati Awa and Ngati Mutunga whakapapa, Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira said today.

“Our goal this election is to raise the profile of Mana, grow our numbers in Parliament, and help change the Government,” he said.

“Georgina’s a respected household name in politics so she’s an important part of helping achieve that goal. We feel honoured to have her.” . . .

Respected? By whom?
Certainly not the Fortune Theatre:
Transsexual former MP Georgina Beyer has quit the Fortune Theatre production 6 Dance Lessons in 6 Weeks two days before it was due to open in Dunedin.It is the first time a production has been cancelled at the Fortune Theatre.Ms Beyer said yesterday she had made the decision to leave the play after realising “I bit off more than I could chew”.

The play was scheduled to open tonight and run until March 7.

“It’s a massive disappointment. I feel terribly disappointed for the Fortune Theatre and for the Dunedin public. But, in my view, it would have been irresponsible to put it on,” she said.

Ms Beyer gave her decision to the theatre management after rehearsals on Wednesday afternoon.

“I just felt that I couldn’t put my co-star Douglas Kamo in danger and put on a production that could be slammed by the critics,” she said.

“It was a massive role. I wasn’t going too badly at the start, but I just couldn’t anchor the script in my head. I kept blowing my lines.” . . .

That cancellation cost the Fortune Theatre Trust thousands of dollars.
If memory serves me correctly, although she announced her resignation before parliament broke for the summer holidays, it didn’t take effect until the new year so she was rehearsing for the play at the taxpayers’ expense.
She then ran out of money and complained about not getting any government appointments:

Former Labour MP Georgina Beyer plans to move to Australia because she cannot find work.

The three-term Wairarapa MP, the world’s first transsexual politician, said she was disillusioned with life after politics and upset at the treatment she had received from her former Labour Party colleagues.

Ms Beyer said that while other former Labour MPs were appointed to boards, she had received nothing and was turned down for a position on the Human Rights Commission.

The former chairwoman of Parliament’s social services committee said she had been forced to accept the unemployment benefit for several months late last year before selling her house to pay the bills “so I didn’t have to be on the dole”.

“I have all this accumulated knowledge and experience and no one wants to employ it, and I’m not sure why,” she said.

“That I’m of no further use to my country is why I’m considering Australia, that my former parliamentary colleagues seem not to want to appoint me to anything, but are quite happy to accommodate others who have left or are about to, so as to shut them up from whingeing from the sidelines in election year.

“One could be forgiven for being a little vexed.” . . .

Lots of taxpayers could well be vexed too but by her attitude rather than the lack of appointments.

In her valedictory speech in February last year, Ms Beyer described her political career as the “greatest moment of my life”.

But she said she now felt disillusioned by it.

“Politics was never my ambition. I was coaxed into it by others,” she said. . . .

“It seems that I am not valued for my experience in either local or central government, so I guess I wasted 14 years of my life in publicly elected service and ended up unemployable.”

And now Mana and Kim Dotcom have found a job for her.

Let’s hope the good folk of Te Tai Tonga, the largest electorate of all, ensure it’s temporary.


Word of the day

27/07/2014

Raupatu – confiscate, take by force.


Rural round-up

27/07/2014

Changes likely in lakes camping – David Bruce:

Thousands of campers who pour in to Waitaki lakes camp sites during summer face some major changes in management by the Waitaki District Council.

Most of the camps could be handed over to private operators under leases or contracts, but before any final decisions are made, people will be asked what they want.

That is likely to be contentious. Similar proposals in the past have caused consternation among some campers.

But they could also look at the Mackenzie District Council’s Haldon Arm Camp, which is administered by the Haldon Arm Reserve Trust Board, made up of campers. . .

Water deal celebrated – Sally Brooker:

Compromise and co-operation are being hailed as the main ingredients in a South Canterbury agreement on nitrogen limits.

Farmers in the Lower Waitaki-South Coastal Canterbury catchment had asked their Environment Canterbury zone committee for more time to work on allocating nitrogen emissions, within the maximum already set to meet the goals of a healthy environment and vibrant economy.

Since February, the farmers have held more than 10 meetings, with ECan supplying technical advisers. After fearing they would not agree, they eventually did.” . . .

Asian markets driving growth for NZ food & beverage exports:

Consumer demand in East and South East Asia for high value foods and beverages is driving export growth and diversification, a new Government report shows.

‘What does Asia Want for Dinner? Emerging Market Opportunities for New Zealand food & beverages in East & South East Asia’ was released today by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The report finds that New Zealand’s overall food and beverage export performance to Asia is excellent; performing strongly in dairy, as well as in meat, seafood, produce and processed foods.

“Asia is the fastest growing food market in the world and is increasingly important for New Zealand exports”, Mr Joyce says. . .

Māori agribusiness showcased to international delegation:

New Zealand’s Māori agribusiness programmes are on show this week, as delegates from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies visit New Zealand to address common barriers to rural economic development. Through case studies and on-farm visits, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will share experiences learned while helping to build the capability of New Zealand’s rural economic development.

The visiting delegates from Peru, Indonesia, Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines will attend a two-day APEC PPFS Rural Development workshop from 22-24 July 2014, hosted by MPI and the Northland Māori agribusiness partners.

“Food security is a common APEC challenge with increasing demands and a need to focus on sustainable productivity,” says MPI’s Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton. . .

Don’t write of dairying MyFarm says:

People should not be in any hurry to write off dairy farming just because prices have taken a dive, MyFarm executive director Andrew Watters says.

The average whole milk powder price in the Fonterra GlobalDairyTrade auctions has fallen by 38 percent since February.

Dairy farmers and economists say with the recent sharp drop in prices, it is inevitable Fonterra’s $7 per kilogram of milksolids price forecast will come down – one predicted as low as $6.

But Mr Watters said predictions of the end of the good times in the dairy industry were premature.

He pointed out that Fonterra only sold only about a third of its product at the auction, and that volumes at recent auctions had been low.

The positive, longer-term outlook for dairy farming had not changed, he said. . .

Grow Movie – A Great Documentary Which Outlines Young Urbanites Turning To Farming – Milking on the Moove:

I watched the Grow Movie the other night. 

It’s a documentary that tells the story of how young urban people are being attracted to farming.

The movie follows a few young farmers in the US state of Georgia. We learn how they found themselves farming & why they love it.

Most of the people were highly educated with degrees in finance, engineering & soil science etc, but they have chosen the small scale rural lifestyle. . .

MPI introduces new biosecurity sniffers

Two young biosecurity sniffers were introduced to the world today, along with a new type of detector dog and a new home for the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Auckland-based canine team.

Beagle puppies Darcie (girl) and Darwin (boy), collectively known as D-litter, were born by caesarean in May to working detector dog Zuma under the MPI detector dog breeding programme.

Steve Gilbert, MPI Director Border Clearance Services says the MPI breeding programme “provides a cost-effective way of producing fit-for-purpose biosecurity detector dogs”.

The programme has produced 27 litters since 1996 and nearly 80 percent of the individual puppies have become successful biosecurity detector dogs. . .

Brits buy record amount of NZ wine:

New Zealand premium wine sales soar in the UK market

New Zealand wine has become the number 2 country of origin in the UK market for wine sold over £7 according to the latest Nielsen data (MAT 21-6-14). New Zealand now sells 18% of all wines sold in this premium price segment, having overtaken Australia and now sits behind France.

The latest statistics also show New Zealand’s average price per bottle has increased to £7.34 from £6.79 – an 8.1% increase (Nielsen MAT 21-6-14). . . . .

 New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Welcome Boost to Horticulture Industry:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) has welcomed the Government’s plans to get more Kiwis into seasonal work, and its decision to increase the annual Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) cap to a total of 9000 workers.

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, says this boost to seasonal workers is essential in delivering the industry’s forecasted future growth.

“The kiwifruit industry is recovering quickly from Psa and is poised for big future growth. Over the next few years we are going to see a significant increase in Gold3 volume. . . .


The gift of you

27/07/2014

Open large picture

 

When you start to crack open, don’t waste a moment gathering your old self up into something like you knew before. Let your new self splash like sunlight into every dark place & laugh & cry & make sounds you never made & thank all that is holy for the gift, because now you have no choice but to let all your love spill out into the world.

The Gift of You – ©2014 Brian Andreas

Published with permission.

If you’d like a daily dose of whimsy like this you’ll see where to sign-up at the link above.


National Party 2014 list released – UPDATED

27/07/2014

The National Party has released its list for the 2014 election:

The National Party list for the 2014 election brings together a strong mix of both experienced political leaders and fresh new talent, says National Party President Peter Goodfellow.

“Our 2014 list shows the benefit of our ongoing rejuvenation programme. If National was able to match its election result from 2011, we would bring in as many as 13 new MPs, alongside 46 returning MPs.

“With the depth of talent we have to choose from, settling on a list that balances new blood alongside valuable experience was not an easy task. However, we believe we’ve struck the right mix that will allow for renewal and continued stability in a third term.”

A list ranking committee made up of about 30 delegates from around New Zealand gathered in Wellington yesterday to settle on the List rankings for the September 20 election.

Mr Goodfellow believes the list underlines National’s credentials as a strong economic manager which is working hard for all New Zealanders to deliver more jobs, better public services, and higher wages.

“Our list draws on people from all walks of life, from the social sector, to medicine, business, and agriculture. We have a good blend of candidates from a variety of diverse backgrounds.”

Mr Goodfellow says that sitting MPs and Ministers have been broadly ranked in their current order, but also notes there are a number of electorates with new candidates who are likely to join #TeamKey in September.

“The Party is in great heart, and I want to thank all those MPs who are retiring at this election for their contribution to their country. I also want to thank their families for the sacrifices so many of them have made to support a busy MP.

“Despite positive polling the National Party has a huge task ahead to ensure our supporters get out and vote at this election. An unstable far left coalition remains a very real risk to New Zealand’s positive outlook.

We’ll be working very hard until polling day to sell our positive cohesive plan for New Zealand that builds strongly in what the country has achieved over the last six years.”

The National Party List for the 2014 General election is:

 

1 John Key Helensville
2 Bill English List
3 David Carter List
4 Gerry Brownlee Ilam
5 Steven Joyce List
6 Judith Collins Papakura
7 Hekia Parata Mana
8 Chris Finlayson Rongotai
9 Paula Bennett Upper Harbour
10 Jonathan Coleman Northcote
11 Murray McCully East Coast Bays
12 Anne Tolley East Coast
13 Nick Smith Nelson
14 Tim Groser New Lynn
15 Amy Adams Selwyn
16 Nathan Guy Otaki
17 Craig Foss Tukituki
18 Simon Bridges Tauranga
19 Nikki Kaye Auckland Central
20 Michael Woodhouse Dunedin North
21 Jo Goodhew Rangitata
22 Chester Borrows Whanganui
23 Todd McClay Rotorua
24 Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga Maungakiekie
25 Nicky Wagner Christchurch Central
26 Lindsay Tisch Waikato
27 Louise Upston Taupo
28 Tim Macindoe Hamilton West
29 Jami-Lee Ross Botany
30 Paul Goldsmith Epsom
31 Melissa Lee Mt Albert
32 Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi Manukau East
33 Jian Yang List
34 Alfred Ngaro Te Atatu
35 Maurice Williamson Pakuranga
36 Jacqui Dean Waitaki
37 David Bennett Hamilton East
38 Jonathan Young New Plymouth
39 Brett Hudson Ohariu
40 Maggie Barry North Shore
41 Ian McKelvie Rangitikei
42 Mark Mitchell Rodney
43 Simon O’Connor Tamaki
44 Mike Sabin Northland
45 Scott Simpson Coromandel
46 Paul Foster-Bell Wellington Central
47 Joanne Hayes Christchurch East
48 Parmjeet Parmar Mt Roskill
49 Chris Bishop Hutt South
50 Nuk Korako Port Hills
51 Jono Naylor Palmerston North
52 Maureen Pugh West Coast – Tasman
53 Misa Fia Turner Mangere
54 Todd Barclay Clutha-Southland
55 Andrew Bayly Hunua
56 Matt Doocey Waimakariri
57 Sarah Dowie Invercargill
58 Barbara Kuriger Taranaki-King Country
59 Todd Muller Bay of Plenty
60 Shane Reti Whangarei
61 Alastair Scott Wairarapa
62 Stuart Smith Kaikoura
63 Wayne Walford Napier
64 Simeon Brown Manurewa
65 Hamish Walker Dunedin South
66 Lewis Holden Rimutaka
67 Karl Varley Wigram
68 Candidate TBA Kelston
69 Linda Cooper List
70 Letitia O’Dwyer List
71 Mark Bridges List
72 Boris Sokratov List
73 Matthew Evetts List
74 Carolyn O’Fallon List
75 Christopher Penk List

I was a member of the list-ranking committee whose deliberations are confidential.

It is not breaching that to point out that both the rejuvenation and depth of talent provide a stark contrast with Labour.

UPDATE:

David Farrar has the effective list places and percentage needed for list candidates to get into parliament.


Otago top of class

27/07/2014

Otago primary schools have outclassed the rest of the country’s schools by recording the highest levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics, Ministry of Education data shows.

Public achievement information released yesterday showed 124 primary schools in Otago posted the highest percentage of pupils who were at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

In reading, 83.6% of pupils were at or above National Standards, 78.9% were at or above the standards in mathematics, and 76.4% were at or above the standards in writing.

Otago Primary Principals’ Association chairwoman Stephanie Madden said most principals had reservations about National Standards, but they were delighted with the data.

”These results are confirmation that the quality of teaching and learning in Otago primary schools is of a very high standard.

”We’re very proud of the hard work that teachers, principals and boards of trustees put in to ensure our children receive the best possible education.” . . .

And isn’t it good that there’s a way to measure the results of all that hard work?

Secondary principals think so:

. . . Secondary Principals’ Association president Tom Parsons said parents had been asking for detailed information about their child’s learning for a long time.

“Primary schools will get there with national standards but they’re doing it begrudgingly.

“There’s a political agenda here and it’s doing the youth of New Zealand a disservice. They need to get real.” . . .

There is a political agenda and it’s putting unions’ interests ahead of the needs of children and their parents.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says the latest achievement information shows children throughout the country are doing better across the education system:

Ms Parata says the Public Achievement Information released today is evidence that moves by the Government, reflected in the work of those in the education system, is making a real difference in educational achievement.

“From early childhood education through to NCEA achievement we’re seeing meaningful progress. It all adds up to kids who will be coming out of our education system with better qualifications and much brighter prospects.

“Providing this information at district and regional levels is leading to a wider engagement by communities in our education challenges.

“Fifteen of our 16 regional council areas had increases from 2011 to 2013 in achievement against National Standards, including gains for Māori students in 14 of those 16 areas.

”More than 400,000 primary kids had their progress assessed in reading, writing and maths last year, and around three quarters were at or above National Standards.

“The continuing focus on achievement and use of good information is paying off because it helps identify the kids who are not doing as well as we want.

“Parents and schools never used to have this sort of very specific information, and now they’re using it to make sure that the kids get what they need when they need it. . .

That’s the point – information on how children are progressing enables schools and parents to help them.

The system isn’t perfect but it’s better than no system and it will get better.

 

National standards. Making a difference.


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