Moooving to beat of Royals

August 5, 2014

A video of a Kansas farmer playing Lorde’s Royals to his cows has become a YouTube hit:

. . . Kansas local Derek Klingenberg plays the song on a trombone to grab the cows’ attention and a video shows them clamouring to get in on the action.

In a post on Facebook Mr Klingenberg said there was “something wonderful” about playing an instrument in the middle of a prairie to 380 heifers. . .


Word of the day

August 5, 2014

Flocculent –  having a loosely clumped texture; having or resembling tufts of wool; covered with a soft, woolly substance; consisting of or containing loose woolly masses;  containing, consisting of, or occurring in the form of loosely aggregated particles or soft flake.


Rural round-up

August 5, 2014

Farmprint a form of insurance – Sally Rae:

Stock rustlers beware. Mosgiel-based company Oritain is using its pioneering approach to scientifically certify the origin of food products to help address the multimillion-dollar issue of stock theft.

The company, which is based at Invermay, uses an ”origin” based system, identifying the naturally occurring chemical properties of food products, which were influenced by the soils and environment in which they were produced.

It works with food producers throughout New Zealand and around the world to protect their brands and reputation – and now it is using the same system to protect farmers’ stock. . .

Enjoying role helping select merino genes – Sally Rae:

Anna Vaughan got ”hooked” on merino sheep while undertaking work experience at Lake Coleridge Station, in the Canterbury high country, during her university summer.

Now, Miss Vaughan (31) is combining her passion for the breed and for farming with her work as genetics project manager for the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM), where she is heavily involved with its central progeny test (CPT).

Miss Vaughan is from a farming background – her parents were dairy farmers – but her last four secondary school years were spent at Te Anau, where they managed a sheep and beef farm for Landcorp. . .

Three generations growing veges – Kay Blundell:

The third generation of Gordon Sue’s family is tilling the soil and growing vegetables in Horowhenua, catering for growing demand from supermarkets throughout the North Island.

Sue’s great-grandfather came from China in the 1860s to dig for gold. When that was elusive he turned his hand to growing vegetables.

Sue’s father was born in Alexandra, Otago, went back to China and moved to Wellington where he ran a greengrocer’s shop before he and his wife moved to Levin when Sue was a 1-year-old.

Since then the family has made a “comfortable living” market gardening. . .

New machine age for Japan’s ageing farmers:

New types of agricultural machinery with functions and designs that differ from conventional tractors and rice planters are attracting new attention in Japan.

They include high-tech machines for assisting elderly farmers whose physical strength is weakened. Machines with designs intended to attract young people are also being released.

Agricultural machinery makers are trying hard to expand the domestic market for the new styles of products.

The average age of farmers in Japan reached 66.2 in 2013. For agricultural machinery makers, how to support farmers with waning physical strength is an important challenge. . . . . .

Commodity prices drive rural appetite – Larry Schlesinger:

RURAL property investors are ­paying close attention to commodity prices as appetite improves for ­agribusiness investments.

In its latest Rural and Agribusiness report, Colliers International said many agriculture regions had passed their ­bottom points and that a positive ­agricultural commodities outlook was “key” for the sector.

Commodity prices reflect supply and demand market dynamics. Rising ­commodity prices often act as leading indicators of rising property values provided the outlook is also favourable in terms of interest rates, rainfall outlook and water availability. . .

Oceania Dairy Factory Receives First Milk:

Oceania Dairy’s new $214 million Glenavy milk processing plant received its first intake of milk from South Canterbury and North Otago farmers today.

The milk will be used for the next stages of the plant commissioning as the 14 -month construction programme draws to its conclusion. The initial plant testing has been completed using water. The final six weeks of commissioning and performance testing will now be undertaken with milk before the final handover of the factory from construction to production by the middle of September

“This is a landmark day for Oceania Dairy Limited, for our supply farmers and for the district,” said Aidan Johnstone, Chief Executive Officer for Oceania Dairy.

“The factory represents a significant investment by Oceania’s owners, Yili, that will have an ongoing impact on the rural economy of the region. . .

Rural TV

We had a massive weekend in Wanaka smashing the boots on the D-floor to the ultimate NZ country - this guy had a birthday & his pals throw him a party - hope you all had a good one!


High Heels in the High Country

August 5, 2014

This episode of CTV’s High Heels in the High Country features Linda Blake of Southern Alpaca and Tracey Robinson of Cosy Toes.


Fantastic facts about the south # 47

August 5, 2014

Fantastic fact # 47:


Gang busters

August 5, 2014

 An all of government plan is aiming to tackle gangs:

Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says the Government is taking action to tackle and prevent gang crime, to reduce the harm it causes to families and communities.

For the first time, a multi-agency approach involving intelligence-gathering, enhanced law enforcement, prevention, intervention, rehabilitation and reintegration will be adopted to address New Zealand gangs and transnational crime groups. 

“The crime rate is at a 35-year low, recorded crimes have fallen by over 20 per cent in the past four years, and reoffending is down by over 12 per cent, so the time is right to focus on tackling gang crime, which causes disproportionate harm in our country,” says Mrs Tolley. 

“We want to ensure that Police and other agencies have the tools they need to hold gangs to account, while breaking the cycle of offending by preventing young people from joining these organisations, and helping current members to exit gang life.

“As gangs continue to expand and adapt, law enforcement and legislation needs to be strengthened, while we also require a long-term plan to address what is a complex issue, to halt the intergenerational grip which gang life has on families, and to reduce the number of victims, both within these families and in the wider community.” 

Known members of gangs comprise 0.1 per cent (4,000 people) of the population aged 17 and over, but in 2013 were responsible for 25 per cent of homicide related charges and in the first quarter of 2014 have been charged with:

34 per cent of class A/B drug offences

36 per cent of kidnapping and abduction offences

25 per cent of aggravated robbery/robbery offences

26 per cent of grievous assault offences

These gang members average 53 offences in their lifetime, and the 50 members with the highest number of charges average 229 charges each.

Almost half of serious offences by gang members are family violence related and, from a 2013 sample of 50 high risk gang members, 74 per cent of gang children have been abused or neglected on multiple occasions.

“The emotional cost to the victims of gang crime and to those affected by gang family violence is huge, as is the cost to the taxpayer, and we believe a new approach will be more effective in reducing the harm caused by gangs,” says Mrs Tolley.

Those are very compelling reasons for tackling gangs.

The whole of Government action plan addresses the issue through four initiatives:

A multi-agency Gang Intelligence Centre led by Police to collect and combine intelligence on real-time gang activity to support investigation, prevention and enforcement, while also identifying vulnerable children and family members who may need social service support. It will also identify young people at risk of joining gangs, so that agencies can target interventions to help steer them away from gang life.

Start at Home: a programme of work to refocus existing social initiatives, and develop some new programmes, to address the intergenerational nature of gang life, to support families and members turn away from the gang lifestyle, and to help support communities where there is a large gang presence, by reducing gang tension. It will also include enhanced prisoner reintegration and rehabilitation programmes by Corrections targeted at gang members, with access to violence and addiction services and support to access training, education, employment and housing, possibly in new locations away from gang life. Safety planning and support will also be provided to women with gang connections at risk of family violence on release from prison.

Gangs do not need to be a fact of life in New Zealand. Breaking the cycle of gang life starts at home. ntnl.org.nz/1qK8C9u #Working4NZ

Two multi-agency Dedicated Enforcement Taskforces will be established. The Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Border Protection Taskforce will target drug trafficking networks to disrupt new gangs attempting to enter New Zealand and restrict and monitor international gang travel. The Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce will strengthen asset recovery efforts, prevent financing of crime and target profits received from crime.

Strengthen legislation: The Sentencing Act will be amended to allow courts to stipulate 24-hour GPS monitoring on high-risk gang affiliates following release from a prison sentence of two years or less, as part of their conditions of release or sentence. This will prevent them from associating with other members at gang headquarters or places where gangs congregate. It will also provide intelligence on their activities. The proposed changes to the Sentencing Act were recently announced to allow for 24-hour GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders.

Other legislation will also be reviewed. Officials are to provide advice by the end of the year on options around Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs), which could prohibit serious gang offenders from possessing or obtaining firearms, and also penalise anyone who knowingly supplies firearms to someone subject to an FPO. Police and the Ministry of Justice will explore Interim Freezing Orders on bank accounts and cash, and possible unexplained wealth laws, for those convicted of drug trafficking or similar offences. To prevent and disrupt drug trafficking within New Zealand and between the North and South Islands, Police and Justice will investigate a pilot of drug detector dogs at key domestic ports (maritime and air).   

“This is a comprehensive plan and Government agencies will have an important role to play in the years ahead,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Gangs don’t need to be a fact of life in New Zealand. They are criminal organisations, and inflict serious harm on anyone who comes into contact with them.”

We will empower courts to make our communities safer with 24-hour GPS monitoring of high-risk gang members out of prison, deterring them from associating with other gang members or visiting gang headquarters. ntnl.org.nz/1qK8C9u #Working4NZ

Q and As:

What is the cost to New Zealand from gang activity?
Apart from the harm they cause communities, Police analysis of just one gang family showed that over three generations they had 423 victims, costing the taxpayer around $5 million in justice costs and benefits costs.

Corrections estimates the proportion of gang members in prison has increased from 15 per cent to around 28 per cent over the past eight years, with each prisoner costing the taxpayer approximately $100,000 each year.

Gang members reoffend at twice the rate of non-gang offenders, so are more likely to return to prison.

What is the cost to families?
Five out of nine child deaths in New Zealand between 2009 and 2012 involved step fathers with gang connections.

55 per cent of gang members are dependent on welfare. 61 per cent have outstanding child support owing. 71 per cent of clan labs have links to organised crime, and children were found at 33 per cent of drug dealing houses uncovered in 2013.

So our plan to crack down on gangs and help vulnerable families is another tool in the arsenal to fight the drivers of misery in society – like poor education, family violence, crime, welfare dependency and hopelessness.

If things don’t change, then imagine the wasted human potential and community harm that might arise. We want to change the life course of these kids, who’ve already had such a difficult start in life. Because if we don’t, they have a high chance of heading down the path to state care, crime and welfare dependency.

Which agencies are involved in this plan?
Police, Corrections, Justice, the Ministry of Social Development, Education, Health, Te Puni Kokiri, Housing New Zealand, Inland Revenue and Customs.

How will this tie in with existing programmes?
This is much wider than a law and order issue. Families identified as needing support will be able to benefit from Government programmes such as Whānau Ora, Children’s Teams, Social Sector Trials, our recently announced Family Violence package, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, the Youth Crime Action Plan and our initiatives to reduce reoffending. We want to prevent gang activity and reduce crime and violence in families and communities. We also want to offer young people an alternative to gang life.

What’s different about this idea?
If we want to bring the crime rate down even further, and make communities safer, then we have to tackle the offending which is more difficult to reduce. We want to see fewer victims of gang crime, including fewer victims within gang families. The reality is that we can’t arrest our way out of this issue, so law and order is only one part of the answer.

For the first time we have brought Government agencies together to help gather and share information, and ensure there is a collaborative approach to dealing with gangs, supporting the families of gang members, and putting in place some long-term approaches to this issue.  

What are the timeframes and cost?
The Gang Intelligence Centre and Taskforces will be funded through Budget 2015 and established by December 2015. Funding of around $1.6 million over two years is required for the Intelligence Centre and detailed costing work for the taskforces is currently underway.

Other work is expected to be funded from baselines.

What other work is taking place in prisons?
Gang members have been able to access the huge increase in places on addiction, rehabilitation, education and skills programmes over the past three years. Corrections will work more closely with these gang members to encourage them to access and benefit from rehab. The Department is also focusing on improving their identification of gang affiliates, as well as protecting prisoners from gang intimidation and recruitment.  

What initiatives will be introduced through the Start at Home programme?
In addition to existing programmes, agencies will work with local government, community providers, local businesses and iwi to develop local initiatives, alongside the work already being done by Neighbourhood Policing Teams. This could include community events with access to recreational activities and health and education services. It could also include schemes similar to the Community Garden in the Gisborne area, where women from gang families were supported with access to education, skills, budgeting and social services.  http://www.tenone.police.govt.nz/tenone/June14News2.htm

These events and activities are the drivers for agencies to offer support through a range of measures.

How will success be measured?
Reductions in crime, especially violent crime, will be measured as part of the Better Public Services targets – the plan will also be continuously reviewed by Police. The Gang Intelligence Centre will be gathering up to the minute information which should give Police important intelligence on the effect these initiatives are having. As well as crimes committed, this will also include successes on steering young people away from gang life, who had been identified as being at risk. Through the close working relationship between agencies in this dedicated unit, it will also gather information on how violence towards wives, partners and children within the gang families is being dealt with and prevented, and what additional action and support is required.

 Gangs have been a blight on too many communities for far too long.

This gang-busting approach will reduce crime and the harm it does to its victims which include families of gang members.


Give with one hand, take with other

August 5, 2014

Labour has come up with similar ideas on youth employment to National with a much higher price tag:

The Labour Party’s skills and training policy for young people largely follows the Government’s ideas, only with a more expensive price tag, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“National has a very comprehensive programme for young people and has introduced the Youth Guarantee, Trades Academies, Maori and Pasifika Trades Training Initiatives, Vocational Pathways, New Zealand Apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Reboot, the Youth Services programme and the Flexi-wage wage subsidy,” Mr Joyce says.

“Under National, the 15-19 year old NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) rate is already down to an average of 8.2 per cent over the last year which is similar to before the Global Financial Crisis. Our comprehensive set of youth training programmes will get it down further as the economy recovers.”

Mr Joyce says the only substantive change Labour seems to be suggesting is to swap out Military Style Activity Camps for Conservation Corps.

“Labour is proposing to take the most serious, hard core repeat youth offenders on bushwalks,” Mr Joyce says.

“Other than that, Labour’s policy is an almost exact mimic of what the Government’s already doing, except Labour would re-brand some of it and spend an extra $183 million paying for it.

“This is becoming a pattern for Labour. In these key policy areas, they simply haven’t been doing the work so they don’t know what is already going on.”

Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says Labour’s proposals to scrap Military Style Activity Camps (MAC Camps) without any alternative plan show they are prepared to turn their backs on serious youth offenders.

The camps, established by the National Government in 2010, take up to 40 of the most serious and persistent young offenders each year.

“Military Style Activity Camps were created to help serious young offenders get back onto the right track before they end up in jail,” says Mr Borrows.

“They are not ‘Boot Camps’, but place intensive support around the young offenders, including the discipline and positive role-modelling provided by the New Zealand Defence Force as well as education, rehabilitation, drug, alcohol and anger-management counselling.”

The most recent results show 79 per cent of MAC graduates reduce their rate of offending.  Of those who do reoffend in some way, 81 per cent offend at a less serious level, including a 53 per cent reduction in violent offending.

“No reoffending is acceptable, but anyone who thinks they have a magic solution to stop these young people offending entirely is dreaming,” says Mr Borrows.

“These are some of our most serious young offenders, so any reduction in their future offending means fewer victims, and is a huge success.”

MAC Camps are part of the broader success in reducing youth crime, which has fallen by 30 per cent since June 2011, already ahead of the Better Public Services target of 25 per cent by June 2017.

“The National Government is serious about reducing youth crime, and our policies, including MAC Camps, are delivering tangible results,” says Mr Borrows.

“Labour’s promise to scrap them, without any alternative for these young people, shows they have already consigned them to a life of crime, prison, and creating victims.  Labour might be willing to give up on these kids, but we won’t.”

He added in a Facebook post:

. . . Either they want to cut MAC and give up on these young offenders; or they want to give them a machete and send them off into the bush, with no regard for their complex health, rehabilitation and education needs, or for public safety. Complete madness either way!

Labour’s policy is here and while it says what it will give, it omits what it will take.

They are promising a $9100 subsidy to employers to take on an apprentice.

Employers who take an apprentice straight from the dole queue, with no 90-day trial, they have to pay them the higher minimum wage Labour will impose $16.25 an hour – or higher if a National Award applies.

The minimum wage of $16.25 immediately wipes $4160 off the subsidy.

Employers who are contractors working on Government projects, such as roads, would have to pay the new apprentices a Living Wage of more than $18 an hour.

That would cost more than $12,000 a year – a lot more than Labour’s subsidy.

Employers would have to pay more in KiwiSaver contributions and also face higher and more taxes under Labour – including one on capital gains when they sold their business.

This is typical of Labour – giving a little with one hand but cancelling it out by taking more with the other.


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