Word of the day

August 3, 2014

Constellate – form, unite or cause to form into a cluster or group; gather together;  to set or adorn with or as if with constellations.


Which classic novel describes your life?

August 3, 2014

Which classic novel describes your life?

E.B. White’s Charlotte’s web:

Empathetic and Family Oriented, E. B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB does a lovely job of describing your homey life. Kind and understanding, your are the epitome of empathy, and have a true gift for confiding in others. You tend to be an optimist, or try to be anyway, but have had your fair share of grievances. You are a rare individual in your ability to recognize that no one would be able to appreciate the good times, without having first experienced the bad.

Hmm, there’s quite a bit here that I can relate to.


Rural round-up

August 3, 2014

Manuka honey labelling guide a positive step for NZ:

The Interim Labelling Guide for Manuka Honey released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is a positive step for the New Zealand industry, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“The Guide provides clarification on what constitutes manuka-type honey, and aims to ensure that New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey that is labelled correctly and meets the expectations of overseas regulators, along with consumers here and overseas,” Ms Kaye says.

“This MPI-led initiative has seen the Ministry working with scientists, industry and overseas regulators – and looking at 11,000 samples of honey – to ensure truth in labelling in New Zealand.

“Though I have been briefed on the outcome, the work is operational and decisions have been made by MPI. . .

From the outside looking in – Craig Littin:

If you are a dairy farmer, things will be flat out on the farm at the moment, and for those driving by some paddocks may be looking a little barren.  Between the wet months of July and October, dairy farmers are in calving season and cows have been dried off, having not produced milk for at least the last six weeks. To keep cows in top condition during this time, ready to have their calves and produce milk for the coming season, it involves techniques such as, break feeding, splitting herds and supplement feeding.

In these wet months pasture is sparse, and to keep cows in good condition whilst they are dried off and begin calving, they are fed between 8 to 10 kilograms of feed, some of which is made up of supplements like maize silage, palm Kernel, hay or silage. By feeding this level of feed per animal it allows the cows to gain condition and also rations the pasture reserves on-farm to ensure that the farm has enough for when they are in calf when their feed requirements rise to between 18 to 20 kilograms per animal a day. All of this happens at the time of year when pasture growth does not normally grow as much as the cows need, hence the muddy paddocks and the need for supplements and break feeding. . .

Northland dairy farms selling out en-masse to cash-rich ‘out-of-towners’:

The dynamics of dairy farming in Northland are undergoing the biggest shake-up the sector has seen in more than 50 years – with a wave of ‘out-of-towners’ coming into the region to take advantage of the comparatively cheap land on offer.

In the past 18 months, $20 million dollars of Northland dairy farms have been sold to Waikato, King Country, Taranaki, Canterbury, and Westland farmers moving into the province. The sales were brokered by real estate agency Bayleys – which is now looking to accelerate the trend this year.

Among the Northland dairy farming units which changed hands to ‘out-of-towners’ in the past year were: . . .

Fonterra Director Retires:

Long-serving Fonterra director, Jim van der Poel, has announced that he will retire from the Co-operative’s Board in November, after 12 years of service.

Chairman John Wilson said Mr van der Poel had been a conscientious and hard-working director with a deep knowledge of the business.

“Jim has served as a great ambassador for Fonterra and our farmers both here in New Zealand and our markets around the world.

“Jim is a successful commercial farmer with farming interests in Waikato, Canterbury and the United States. He was a New Zealand Dairy Group director for several years before Fonterra’s formation, and was elected to the Fonterra Board in 2002. . . .

Blue Wing Honda celebrates four decades of Kiwi success with launch of new facility:

As a nation dependent on primary industry, with more than half of our land used for farming, having the right means to navigate varying terrain can be a challenging task.

Blue Wing Honda met that challenge in 1972 when it entered the market as New Zealand’s importer and distributor of Honda motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

That wealth of experience has helped put the company at number one in the New Zealand ATV market. . . .

Sheep’s wool makes woolly sheep – Mary Alexander:

DRAB winter colours in Hamilton have given way to a vibrant collection of artwork as the city gears up for its annual celebration of wool.

Bright life-size sheep have formed a flock at the art gallery, parking meters and trees lining the main street have been yarn-bombed and shop displays depict the characters in the children’s book Where is the Green Sheep?

“It looks amazing,” artist Jacinta Wareham said yesterday. “I’ve got a whole lot of happy people here saying that Hamilton looks so vibrant and colourful.”

The community arts project is part of the inaugural Woolly Wool Fest being held in the lead-up to Sheepvention from August 3 to 5. . .

Introducing the new, naturally produced Mission Estate Pinot Gris: lighter in alcohol, lower in calories (and full of flavour)

Mission Estate has enjoyed a reputation for winemaking innovation spanning an extraordinary 163 years. Pinot Gris, meanwhile, is a relative newcomer to New Zealand but, as nzwine.com observes, “has enjoyed a dramatic rise to fame and is now the third most popular white variety”.

Combine these two forces with the growing trend for lifestyle wines, and the result is the new organically grown, naturally crafted, lighter in alcohol Mission Estate Pinot Gris. . .


Clean Underwear

August 3, 2014

Open large picture
Make sure you got clean underwear, she always said, in case you get in an accident & I always figured that’d be the least of my worries, but now I’m older & I see there’s a lot you can’t control & some you can control & clean underwear is one of those you can. For the most part.
Clean Underwear – ©2014 Brian Andreas – posted with permission.

The kind folk at Story People will email you a daily dose of whimsy like this if you sign up at the link above.


Colin King’s valedictory

August 3, 2014

Colin King delivered his valedictory statement last week:

Thank you Mr Speaker for this opportunity to make this, my final statement in the debating chamber of the 50th Parliament of NZ.

May I begin by acknowledging some of those that have put up with thee four metre swells of the cook straight to be with us.

My Electorate Chair Brian Moore and his wife Roberta, Campaign Chair Alan Holdaway, Branch Chair and Hoarding Manager Barry Holdaway, Branch Chair Don Moore and his wife Sue. And may I also acknowledge Sir Doug and Lady Kidd. Also my staff, my most valuable staff in Blenheim and Amberley, Cathie Ferguson, Willie Kaulback, Rose Parsons and Jan Chisnall. My parliamentary staff over the year Margaret Traill and Karen Scarlett.

Thank you for all your support -support that went well beyond what could ever be expected.

I must also acknowledge with great pride and satisfaction the support I received from my wife Lynnette and our children Nickolas, Natasha, Laressa, and Katrina.

I must also acknowledge the wonderful support of the National Party, both the political wing and the party membership – thank you all for the guidance and support over those 9 years. I wish the National Party every success for the general election on the 20th of September.

Last week I did something Mr Speaker that I had hoped to do for a number of years – visit the whale counting operation that occurs at this time each year out at Tory channel and the Cook Strait.

Fortunately, on the day we went out, the observers perched up above Tory channel had sighted a large Humpback whale cruising through on its way to the tropics.

We were able to just motor straight out and meet the guys in the run-about as they were darting and taking the DNA sample from the whale in 3 metre swells. Just to give you some understanding how difficult it was, I could hardly hold my camera to actually capture the moment to post it on Facebook.

And from the point of view of what’s gone before us in history, in the context it was most uplifting. You could entitle it, “Whaling from Decimation to Restoration” – these old ex-whalers now spending endless hours looking into the mist of the Cook Straight to identify the pencil shape of a whale coming towards them. The good news is that about 100 whales came through the Cook Straight during the month and this year’s numbers are up on previous years – isn’t that fantastic! Now there’s more ways for the whales to go but through the Cook Straight it’s a bit like a drafting race, you can count them. So from that point of view it’s a good measure.

I want to make the point that while we may have a strong view on how people once earned their livings in years gone by, they did sustain themselves, and we should neither condemn nor ridicule.

Sure the land based whaling operation never contributed to the decimation of the whales. The damage was done by the fleets of whaling vessels from other nations that hunted the whale to near extermination taking up to 4000 a whale year on year

I have a serious concern about our attitude toward sustainable management around the coastline food. There are 10 times the number of people harvesting kai moana from along our coastlines, methods of targeting fish, catching crays, paua and other delicacies have greatly improved and yet we still argue that it is our birthright to help ourselves to such a resource.

Mr Speaker, as rational human beings we know that continuing such a rate of harvesting kai moana will result in serious consequences for us today and for our future generations.

It is therefore with much pride that I draw on the example of the community of Kaikoura who over the last 8 years based on the principles “gifts and giving” were able to reach an agreement across the full range of stakeholders – Iwi, commercial fishers, recreational fishers, Forest and Bird and wider community. They were able to agree amongst themselves as to the best possible outcome for the management of their coastline between the Conway to the Clarence Rivers. I was amazed to witness the cooperation between the Te Korowai grouping. It is with pride that I look forward to the “Te Tai o Marokura” Bill passing into law to the enduring benefit of Kaikōura and all who visit in the many years ahead.

What made this achievable was that all clearly understood what was at stake. The local Iwi, that’s Ngati Kuri, led because it held the Kaitiaki over the area, the commercial fisherman pulled in the same direction because they owned the right to quota and knew the importance of sustainable management, and the wider community stuck to the task because they knew and valued the employment and environment.  

There’s no doubt in my mind that this situation will need to be replicated throughout New Zealand. Such iconic places as the Marlborough Sounds, the Hauraki Golf, the Wellington headlands, Bay of Plenty and Northland coastlines to name but a few to address this situation as pressure remains and grows.

Again it will require skilful leadership, a willingness to agree, and make those gifts and giving. We must face up to this challenge, otherwise well end up exactly the situation of those whalers who lost their careers, their opportunities, their profitability over night because of a culture of greed and race to catch the last whale.

Mr Speaker, my second point I wish to make is the importance of valuing hands on learning within our education system. We must appreciate these very important students who in the future will fix things, build things, be it trucks, motor cars, be it buildings, be it bridges, roads, essential infrastructure and all manner of other things.

To do this the education system must equally value these people as much as we do doctors, nurses, lawyers and accountants and design an education curriculum accordingly. Putting it simply, we want to create many Einstein’s, but to create an Einstein you also need 1000 skilled technicians to make those things.

I wish to mention two people by name at this time who guided me in policy development – firstly, Stuart Middleton from Manukau Institute of Technology who, when I first came into Parliament, was already talking about what was lacking in our education system. He’s gone onto do some wonderful things to do with empowering our youth especially our Pasifika youth. And I take the opportunity here to say how heartened I am to see the Pasifika people taking grasp of education and being aspirational. I also want to make mention of Stewart Thompson who worked with me in developing the Trades Academy policy which was introduced by this government in 2009.

Stewart Thompson convinced me that a passionate inspiring teacher is what makes the difference– Stewart’s technology classes were full to overflowing and total engagement with education existed in spades.

I ask those responsible for education in the future to maintain the momentum we have for hands-on learning and skills-based education. Education must be relevant to the learners for them to remain engaged and develop the needed skill to be successful in life. And that is a pretty high threshold and we must keep them engaged. We are beginning to do better but there is a lot of work to do yet.

My third point I want to leave with the House is my concern around a growing reluctance in this country to undertake physically demanding work. We should be concerned when we see those who want to continue living in the one location and are not willing or courageous enough to collect up their families and move to where employment is better and more available, where the cost of living is less and the price of providing a roof over one’s family’s heads is also less.

New Zealand has one of the most generous welfare systems in the world. However, for New Zealand to remain a first world country we must possess the attitude as stated by George St John and restated by President J F Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” –  that it is good to create wealth and seek ownership.

I admire greatly those eastern European families that came here In the ‘50s – ‘60s – I was only a child at the time – they made New Zealand their home and started life afresh after experiencing WW2, the Cold War and the Iron Curtain.

It now concerns me that we do bring enthusiastic workers from the Pacific Islands to do harvesting and cultivation within the horticulture sector. That we need to bring thousands of workers to full the needs in the dairy industry.

Isn’t it blindingly obvious to all that in doing the work that some of us despise – that these newcomers end up creating wealth for themselves and their families to enjoy into future.

It is all symptomatic of a nation that is losing its way when a newcomer can come here and see opportunities and we can’t. Individually we hold the key to our own success, “careful living and good honest hard work”.  Personal responsibility and a desire to aspire should be the aim of us all – lose this and we become no better than a domesticated animal.

Sir Henry Maine, Speaking on social structure, put it well when he said “Nobody is at liberty to attack private property and to say at the same time that he values civilization. The history of the two cannot be disentangled.”  For the institution of private property has been a wonderful institution for teaching men and women responsibility, for providing motives to integrity, for supporting general culture, for raising mankind above the level of mere drudgery, for affording leisure to think and freedom to act. To be able to retain the fruits of one’s labour; to be able to see one’s work made manifest; to be able to bequeath one’s property to one’s posterity; to be able to rise from the natural condition of grinding poverty to the security of enduring accomplishment; to have something that is really one’s own—these are advantages difficult to deny.

In crafting policy and bringing forth legislation in this House may all Members continue to recognise the value of those who toil in the sun or labour under the tin roof – neither despising the value of that work or thinking that it is beyond one’s dignity – because the wealth of this nation was created on the back of such physically demanding labour.

In conclusion, may I express my sincere thanks to all members of the House for the courtesy that they have afforded me. Thank you for the joy of working for the best interest of all New Zealanders – particularly within the primary sector and the education and Science sectors while in Parliament. I’m sure though that those coming behind us will be equal to the task. We do live in a blessed land.

To the Parliamentary Sporting Trust – what fun we had raising money for the most worthy of causes, for the camaraderie of winning two parliamentary rugby world cups one in Paris and the other in New Zealand – the pleasure of coordinating the parliamentary diplomats annual cricket challenges and winning a few. I always remember Paul Swayne leaving the House Mr Speaker, having won that yet against the diplomats. That being said, we hadn’t won for about a decade. So im asking the House to continue to support Ian McKelvie as he continues the mantle of looking after the shield and keeping that cricket match going. Its been going for over forty years and it’s an illustrious shield with some great MPs on it.  

If I have one disappointment on leaving Parliament Mr Speaker, it is that wisdom has not yet prevailed when it comes to storing water in North Canterbury – sadly, and this is my observation because I know that some of my Green colleagues will disagree, it is my view that a dog-in-the manger attitudes still prevails, making progress slow and difficult.

So finally, I wish to thank the taxpayers of New Zealand for providing the funding for three new hospitals while I was MP in Kaikoura. I’m also delighted to witness as MP the Te Tau Ihu treaty settlements for the eight Iwi of the top of the south, which re-establishes their economic base into the future. Also being a part and a witness to the eight year labour of love – the management plan for Kaikōura’s coastline – resulting in Te Tai o Marokura Bill – presently before Parliament and shortly to come into law. I thank the Minister and I also thank the Leader of the House for putting that in place.

But for me the most satisfying contribution has been around re-structuring of education and the importance being put on educational engagement and hands-on learning within it. Education that is relevant is making a world of difference for those who will make a living using their hands.

I want to thank everyone for the situation that I’ve enjoyed for that last nine years. I want to acknowledge my wife and children, and those people that have travelled across the Cook Straight. I also acknowledge those people, who are supporting departing members, and I also acknowledge all the members in the house and we have worked in the very best interests of New Zealand.

Kia Kaha stand tall be strong – thank you.  

He was a champion shearer before he was an MP, which explains the shearer in the photo and his advocacy for hands-on learning.

A shot taken by a colleague during my valedictory - one for the record


Grasp the opporutnity

August 3, 2014

This election is one of the most important ones in my lifetime.

We’ve got a choice of backing National so it can continue leading a stable government with policies that are working for New Zealand.

Or we can elect an unstable government led by a weak Labour Party with support from the Green, New Zealand first and Internet Mana Parties.

We can vote for a National-led government that will continue taking New Zealand forwards.

Or we can elect Labour and the GIMPs, supported by NZ First, to take us backwards.

We can grasp the best opportunity in a generation for sustained and sustainable growth.

Or we can let it go and return to the failed policies of the noughties and even further back.

We are proud of what we’ve done, but there is so much more to do. www.national.org.nz #Working4NZ #TeamKey


Debate policy not specific purchase

August 3, 2014

Pure 100 Farm Limited, a local subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin Group has signed an agreement to buy Lochinver Station between Napier and Taupo.

The Central Plateau farm acquisition is now before the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) and will then go through the Chinese regulatory approval process prior to settlement.

The Group currently owns 16 farms in the North Island and has significantly enhanced these assets. According to a Land Information New Zealand report[1], PNZFGL (another local subsidiary) has been instrumental in the re-development and improvement of the North Island farm properties it owns.

The Group plans to secure operational synergies over time with this planned farm acquisition and some of its neighbouring North Island farms.

In March this year, the Group secured a 74 per cent stake in 13 farms in the South Island and has committed to capital improvements and implementing innovative industry concepts.

The Shanghai Pengxin philosophy is to work co-operatively through its local subsidiaries within the New Zealand farming industry and support new investment and innovative opportunities, as well as productivity enhancement, sustainable farming practices, and building supply chain capability.

It didn’t take long for the usual suspects to get agitated about foreigners buying land.

Lisa Owen started the interview with Steven Joyce and Grant Robertson on the topic:

Lisa Owen: . . . I want to start with you, Mr Joyce. Ownership of assets is what makes you wealthy. So what do you think of this 18,000 hectare Lochinver Station being sold to foreigners?

Steven Joyce: What I think it it’s election time because we’re getting a sale of land, and therefore a couple of people now – it used to be just Winston; now it’s Colin Craig as well – beating the anti-foreigners drum, and I suspect we’ll see a bit more of this between now and election day. But it’s as regular as every three years that this comes up.

Grant Robertson, it’s just electioneering?

Grant Roberston: Well, no. I mean, New Zealanders are actually sick of our assets being sold off, and it’s the same for farms as it is for Steven selling off energy companies. We want to see value held by New Zealanders. We don’t get this land back once it’s sold. It’s gone.

Joyce: Well, actually you do.

Robertson: Well, no, we don’t.

Joyce: No, you do.

Robertson: And it’s New Zealanders who need to have jobs being created from assets that we own. Our message for foreign investors is if you want to come into New Zealand, help create jobs.

Joyce: That’s right.

It is right, that is one of the criteria the Overseas Investment Office must take into consideration when approving a purchase of land by foreigners.

Roberston: Build a processing plant. But we don’t want to sell off the land like this.

Mr Joyce, this is—

Joyce: Well, actually, I need to answer that, because, actually, I mean, Grant, you’re interesting there, because I haven’t seen you out protesting James Cameron’s land purchases in the Wairarapa, so I’m assuming it’s only Chinese investors.

Robertson: No, it’s not. The allegation is just wrong, Steven.

Joyce: When did you go out and oppose purchasing James Cameron?

Roberston: We’ve never opposed foreign investment that is not productive for year.

Mr Joyce, can we–?

Joyce: Give me a chance. When did you go out and actually oppose the last purchase of James Cameron’s land? Where’s the press release on that?

Robertson: We have been opposing the purchases of dairy farms by anyone, and wherever they’re from, if it’s strategic land like this—

Joyce: But this isn’t a dairy farm. You know that, don’t you? This isn’t a dairy farm. . .

Robertson: That’s right. But this is about what New Zealanders want, and New Zealanders what to control their own land.

What he’s saying is that people want to control other people’s land. this land isn’t owned by New Zealanders in general it’s owned by individuals.

Joyce: So this is not a dairy farm and this is not James Cameron, therefore you’re opposing it?

Mr Joyce, I just want to ask you about your own leader’s comments.

Joyce: He’s against Chinese investment.

Robertson: Oh, for goodness sake, Steven.

Mr Joyce—

Joyce: Little xenophobia from the Labour Party to start the day off.

Mr Joyce—

Robertson: See, this is typical of the personal politics. He doesn’t want to debate what New Zealanders want, which is to control their own future. Steven’s happy to sell off our future rather than have New Zealanders in control.

Mr Joyce. Can I ask a question please, gentlemen?

Joyce: Yeah.

Your own leader has said that he doesn’t want us becoming tenants in our own country, but isn’t this exactly what is happening under your watch?

Joyce: No, it’s not. No, look, it’s a tiny amount. It’s actually a ridiculously small amount of land than under Labour, because, actually, under Labour, the average over the last five years they were in office, 90,000 hectares a year were sold to offshore purchasers. Under National, it’s been an average of 39,000 hectares a year. So it’s ridiculous for Labour to turn around—

So that’s the point, isn’t it? More under Labour, more under National. The pie being sold off is even bigger.

Joyce: But let’s look at the real benefit of international investment, actually, because, I think, all this hysteria which Grant’s trying to stoke this morning is actually incorrect, because there’s plenty of fantastic examples of international investment in this country which has brought real benefit. For example, Whirinaki, the big forestry processer in Hawke’s Bay, owned by OG for 43 years. The investment, it hasn’t had much—

So are you happy, Mr Joyce, that an enormous amount of productive New Zealand land is going offshore?

Land, productive or not can’t go offshore regardless of who owns it.

If foreigners own it some of the profit will go overseas but only after the owners have paid all the costs of running and improving the farm and also paid tax.

Robertson: Are you going to guarantee, Steven, that when this farm is sold off, this estate is sold off, that there will be some kind of added jobs? There will be processing coming and there will be something in the economy for New Zealanders? Rather than just selling off our—

Joyce: That’s one of the criteria that we put in in 2010, so absolutely.

Robertson: And you have not stuck to that.

Joyce: We have absolutely stuck to that.

Gentlemen, excuse me. We’ve spoken to sources at Tuwharetoa and other iwi who said this farm was outside of their price bracket. $70 million. So I’m interested to know where are the New Zealanders who are wealthy enough to buy our own assets? Isn’t that part of the problem?

Joyce: Well, actually, there’s plenty of New Zealanders that are wealthy enough to buy our own assets, but, look, the point of view is international investment is very important to New Zealand. It’s been very important all the way through, and it’s important to our future. And there are plenty of examples. I was actually at one the other day. Frucor, which is now owned by Suntory, a Japanese company, and they’re making big investments in their processing plant, and all the workers are in favour of that. Now, if you take the example of this particular company, Shanghai Pengxin, they have made investments in the older Crafar farms. Nobody, I think, is arguing that the Crafar farms used to be well-run. My understanding is there’s been some good investments out of that and more investments expected. So that’s all good stuff. There has to be a benefit to New Zealand—

Robertson: What Steven fails to understand here is that New Zealanders are completely sick of seeing their land sold off. This is about our lands and our future. Steven, the thing is we have learned our lesson.

I want to ask you—Mr Robertson, the Labour Party—No, no, let me—

Robertson: Steven Joyce refuses to learn the lesson that New Zealanders want land retained in New Zealand ownership.

Labour plans to stop foreign purchases. People who are not living in New Zealand, under Labour, would only be allowed to buy up to 5 hectares of land. So, would you stop the sale of this farm?

Robertson: Our criteria would definitely mean that a sale like this would be highly unlikely, unless—

Highly unlikely isn’t a no, it’s another yeah-nah answer from Labour which knows there are benefits from foreign ownership, which is why it allowed sales to go through when it was last in power.

Paul Walker makes some good points on this issue:

For efficiency reasons we want resources to be in the hands of those who value them most highly and the way to do that is sell them to the highest bidder. We want land (and other resources) to be used in the most efficient manner and the country of origin of the buyer is irrelevant to this. A thought experiment: ask yourself, Why are auctions used for so many goods? Its a way of finding out who values the good most highly. Whoever bids the most gets the goods. This is how we maximise the probability of getting an efficient allocation of resources. Secondly would a Labour government compensate the seller of the land for their policy? Under the Labour policy the seller would be forced to sell their land at a lower price than they would otherwise get (or not sell at all) and would a Labour government make up the difference between the actual sale price and the highest possible price? And if not, Why should the seller receive a lower return than they otherwise would?. And if this is a good policy for land why not implement it for other goods as well? What makes this idea land specific?

What makes land specific is emotion.

When PGG Whritghtson was purchased by a Chinese company no-one made a fuss about that yet the intellectual property that went with it in seed development may well have been more valuable than thousands of hectares of land.

But most of the fuss over foreign ownership of land is emotional.

It doesn’t take into account the benefits to the sellers and the country nor is it based on complete understanding of the area involved.

The issue is a hot-button one and should be debated.

But the debate should be on the big picture of how much land in foreign ownership is acceptable and any policy changes needed to ensure that. It shouldn’t be based on individual purchases, especially when it looks like at least some of the opposition is based on xenophobia.


%d bloggers like this: