Word of the day

January 22, 2015

Grawlix – a sequence of typographical symbols used to represent a non-specific, profane word or phrase.

Hat tip: Grammarly
Now you know.


Rural round-up

January 22, 2015

Fuel price falls should mean lower farm costs:

The continuing fall in fuel prices should be reflected in lower farm input costs Federated Farmers believes.

Petrol and diesel pump prices have declined by more than 40 cents per litre since October.

Federated Famers transport spokesperson, Ian Mackenzie says he expects the persistent decline in the cost of fuel to be reflected in farm expenses.

“The direct expenses of running machinery are accounted for with a lower fuel bill for the farmer. But there are other high fuel use industries, in particular transport, where we would expect to see some reduction in the costs from now on,” he says. . . .

Court case reconfirms QEII covenants’ clout:

For the second time in less than 12 months the durability of QEII National Trust covenants has been confirmed by the High Court.

The first case was considered by the High Court earlier in 2014 when a landowner wanted to subdivide and build 20 houses on an area of covenanted indigenous forest land he had bought on the Coromandel Peninsula. He challenged the legal status of the covenant agreement because it prevented him from developing the land.

The High Court decision declared that the National Trust’s covenant agreements were ‘indefeasible’, meaning the covenant cannot be annulled. . .

 

Stock theft affects us all – Chris Irons:

Around Christmas time stock rustling seems to rear its head and this holiday season has been no different. Concerns are mounting around stock rustling and the ability to stop it. Ironically, the morning of writing this I was actually out hunting down one of my own heifers, which in the end I found but it gets the heart pumping when you think it has been stolen.

Following the event where a farmer’s cows were shot with a crossbow at the southern end of the Hunua Ranges, questions are being raised as to what rights farmers have to stop a poacher or thief on their property? Not only do farmers have limited rights to stop people stealing their stock, but we’ve got to ask whether the penalties imposed are serious enough to be a deterrent for either rustling or poaching?  Based on the Federation’s experience to date they are not. . . .

DWN conference heads to Southland:

Dairy Women’s Network is excited to be holding its 2015 annual conference in one of New Zealand’s fastest growing dairy regions.

The Network’s key annual event is sponsored by Lifetime Insurance and Travel Advisors, and is taking place in Southland on 18-19 March at the ILT Stadium in Invercargill.

Network chief executive Zelda De Villiers said the 2015 conference theme ‘Entering tomorrow’s world’ would be evident in the eight workshops offered, comprising financial management, sustainable environments, a presentation by High Performance Sport NZ psychologist David Galbraith, farmer wellness, animal lameness, legal liability and more. . .

MBIE report backs primary sector careers:

Lincoln University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Business Development, Jeremy Baker, has welcomed the findings of a Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) report which shows particularly favourable prospects for those exploring primary sector and associated land-based careers.

The Occupation Outlook 2015  report is a comprehensive industry document designed to provide key information for those contemplating study and career options. The report rated the job prospects for agricultural scientists as very high, and projected an annual growth for the profession of 4 percent for 2013-18 and 3.2 percent for 2018-23.

Identical figures are listed for environmental scientists and food technicians, while the job prospects for farmers and farm managers is also rated as very high.

“The report lends weight to the message Lincoln University has been making for some time. Namely, that there are many exciting career opportunities in the primary sector for those who are prepared to open themselves up to the possibilities,” says Jeremy Baker. . .

Boosting food production through phosphorus: Lincoln works with Chilean university:

Lincoln University is joining forces with a prominent Chilean university research institute to address pressing issues involving the essential role of phosphorus in global food production.

Professor Leo Condron, of Lincoln University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, recently spent six weeks at the Scientific and Technological Bioresources Nucleus (BIOREN) of the Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, Chile, as part of a Biological Resource Management Fellowship funded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“The fellowship involved bringing together the complementary skills of Lincoln University and Universidad de La Frontera to investigate ways of improving the usability of phosphorus in agricultural systems,” said Professor Condron.

The productivity of ecosystems is largely determined by the presence of phosphorus in soil. However, the world’s known phosphorus reserves are steadily being depleted, and demand is expected to exceed supply within 100 years. . .

Primary industry sector on verge of a technological revolution:

While farmers and other rural industries have always been innovators and pioneers, many city dwellers still think of them as tough, hardworking people who do without ‘modern’ technologies such as smart phones, tablets and big screen TVs.

Times have changed. The reality is something quite different. These and an array of new and innovative technologies are now a vital component of most rural businesses.

City dwellers can use their latest mobile gadget as they make their way into work. Modern farmers would rather use their latest UAV (drone) for a spin around the property or set up their new driverless tractor for the day’s operations – all while tracking everything via their tablets using GPS and wireless networks. . .

Manuka Health – recognised for excellence in International Business Awards

Manuka Health is delighted to be recognised as a finalist in the 2015 New Zealand International Business Awards (NZIBA) in the $10 – $50 million General Award Category. This signals the extraordinary growth experienced by Manuka Health over the past eight years and is also an acknowledgement of recent investment in a multi-million dollar plant in Te Awamutu.

Opened officially in November 2014, the Manuka Health facility is a high tech, internationally accredited laboratory, honey processing factory and global distribution centre which enables the Company to produce award-winning innovative natural healthcare products.

“We are honoured to have been recognised for our success in international business,” says Kerry Paul, CEO Manuka Health. “This comes on top of an exciting year with the opening of our world-class facility and a prestigious Gold Innovation Award for our ManukaClear™ Intensive BB Gel in the USA. . . .

 


Thursday’s quiz

January 22, 2015

1. Who said: The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.?

2. Who wrote Grapes of Wrath?

3. It’s framboise in French, lampone or pernacchia in Italian,  frambuesa in Spanish and rāhipere in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Which Beatles’s song had fruit in the title?

5.What’s your favourite way to serve berries?


New York, Cuba, New Orleans, Prague, Paris, Sydney – and Oamaru

January 22, 2015

Natwick Photography (Natasha ‘Natwick’ Chadwick) has declared Oamaru New Zealand’s best kept secret and a photographer’s paradise:

Heading to New Zealand’s south island for a photographic sojourn, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better location to shoot and to relax than Oamaru. A small harbour side town, located approximately three hours south of Christchurch on the East coast, is a photographer’s paradise. . .

She also rates it as one of the most photographic places in the world:

This vintage town provides spectacular backdrops in abundance whether you’re shooting portraits, streetscapes, movies or wildlife. Around every corner is a setting worthy of a photograph. Having travelled much of the world taking pictures, I rate Oamaru in my top ten for destinations to photograph. It’s up there with New York, Cuba, New Orleans, Prague, Paris and Sydney. . .

And concludes:

I spent my days there photographing the streets, the buildings and the marina. And, of an evening I did timed-exposures of the harbour, much to the disgust of the local penguin colony which came to shore and nestled in the rocks or beneath overturned beached dinghies at night – right where I happened to position my tripod. I sat there beneath the twilight blue evening sky, photographing boats on a still harbour, listening to the gentle cries of penguins – it was a magical experience.

 Oamaru is a place of strong lines and much character as you’ll see from my collection of photos. In only two days I captured hundreds of images and could have taken more. One thing it guarantees, I will return. And if not for the pictures, I’ll go back for the best fudge and whisky tastings New Zealand has to offer. Need I say more! . . .

Clicking on the link at the top of the page will allow you to see some of the photos she took.

 


None should, any could

January 22, 2015

Could any parents put their hands on their hearts and say they had never done anything that might have endangered the life of one of their children?

Left a little one in a bath to answer a phone, or turn down the pot boiling on the stove; backed out of a garage without checking no child could get in the way; had a momentary loss of attention near water, a busy road or while driving; left a door or gate open that could have let the child get into danger; not put medicine, poison or matches out of reach; had children on a trailer or the back of a ute . . . ?

Often when there’s a tragedy because of human error, it’s the result of a chain of events where a change in one link could have averted it.

This is what appears to have happened in the tragic case of the baby who died in a car.

If the father had been able to take the baby to the day care centre as he normally did; if the mother had not been preoccupied; if she had glanced in the back of the car as she got out; if someone else in the car park had seen the baby; if the day care centre had been able to reach the mother, if they’d tried to reach the father . . . .

So many ifs and if only one of those had been different the baby might still be alive.

Tragically he’s not.

When our sons died it was no-one’s fault. They had brain disorders and nothing anyone could have done could have prevented their deaths meaning we could grieve without the guilt which the mother of this baby will feel.

Inevitably she has been judged. How could she do that? How could anything be more important than her baby? Isn’t putting the label forgotten baby syndrome  just excusing the inexcusable?

No doubt she is asking those questions too.

But can any of us say that there wasn’t a time when we were looking after our children that we failed to give them and their safety our full attention and it was only a matter of luck that the consequences weren’t tragic?

None of us should allow anything to come before the safety of a child in our care but any of us could and almost certainly have.

Thankfully for most of us the result hasn’t been tragic, sadly in this case it was.


10 major changes to RMA proposed

January 22, 2015

The government will be including 10 major changes to the Resource Management Act in the second stage of reforms:

Overhauling the Resource Management Act (RMA) is critical to addressing housing supply and affordability, and maintaining the momentum of economic and job growth as well as better managing New Zealand’s environment, Dr Nick Smith said today in his 20th annual speech to Nelson Rotary.

“The Resource Management Act has produced over 80,000 pages of plans and rules across New Zealand’s 78 councils. This 10-metre mountain of red tape is holding back the development of new houses and jobs, and it is not performing well enough in managing key resources like freshwater,” Dr Smith says.

“The Government is planning the most significant overhaul of the Act since its inception 25 years ago. We want to modernise the purpose to make it more practical and relevant, standardise council plans and simplify the process for gaining consents.”

It shouldn’t be necessary for every council to have their own individual plans and rules for every aspect of resource management and planning. At least some of these could be standard across the whole country.

Dr Smith today also released an independent report by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research – commissioned by the Treasury and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – into the impacts of planning rules, regulations, uncertainty and delay in residential property development.

The report concludes that the RMA is adding an extra $30,000 to the cost of an apartment, an extra $15,000 to the cost of a home, and that it is reducing the capacity of housing development by 22 per cent.

“This report is consistent with the conclusions of the Productivity Commission and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in highlighting the high administrative burden of our system of environmental regulations, but also adds new information by estimating the actual cost of its flaws. It indicates that over the last decade, the RMA has added $30 billion to the cost of building and reduced new housing stock by 40,000 homes,” Dr Smith says.

Dr Smith also cited practical examples in his speech of where the RMA had wasted health and education funding, and where councils were using the RMA to unnecessarily interfere in people’s lives.

“Our first phase of RMA reforms has made a positive difference in getting consents processed more quickly, including for major projects like the Waterview Connection in Auckland, but we have always made plain more substantive change was required,” Dr Smith says.

Dr Smith outlined ten major changes the Government would be including in its second phase of reforms in 2015:
• Add natural hazards
• Recognise urban planning
• Prioritise housing affordability
• Acknowledge importance of infrastructure
• Greater weight to property rights
• National planning templates
• Speed up plan-making
• Encouraging collaborative resolution
• Strengthening national tools
• Internet for simplicity and speed

“Today’s speech sets the direction for reform. We have a power of work ahead to do with officials, our support parties and Cabinet committees to finalise and draft the required Bill. Our ambition is to have the Bill before Parliament and through a full select committee process this year,” Dr Smith says.

“These reforms will be pragmatic and moderate. We want to reduce the mountain of plans and rules that make the RMA a barrier to new housing and jobs, but retain the core environmental controls that ensure we keep New Zealand special and such a great place to live.”

The proposed changes won’t discount the importance of the environment but will ensure that environmental, economic and social considerations are in balance.

The full speech is here. In it Dr smith says:

The big challenge in the environmental area is finding a path that better manages New Zealand’s water, air, oceans and native flora and fauna while
enabling our economy to grow and prosper. Key priorities this year will be passing a new Environment Reporting Act to give greater clarity to New
Zealand’s important clean, green brand. . . .

Environmental protection and enhancement and economic development aren’t mutually exclusive.

 . . . the most challenging of my jobs this year will be the reform of the Resource Management Act. The Act, in governing the use of water, land, air and the coast, and which is responsible for protecting heritage, native plants and animals is so wide-ranging that it has implications right across the economy and into almost every facet of life.

There is not a single official anywhere who understands this huge pile of RMA plans and rules. Even at a local level, only a few individuals working in council or in planning consultancy will fully understand how the rules work in their city or district. . .

If they don’t understand it how can anyone else?

  The OECD published in November a comparative study of its 34 member countries on the cost burden of environmental regulation. In most OECD reports New Zealand ranks very well as a good place to do business and create jobs. We ranked bottom when it came to the administrative burden of the Resource Management Act. I have no problem where there are costs to achieve good environmental outcomes. The OECD study actually showed that many countries had more stringent
environmental policies than New Zealand but a far lesser administrative burden.

A key difference of the New Zealand system of environmental regulation under the RMA is that we have a very fragmented system where there are
differing rules in every district and region, and secondly that we require consents for most activities when most other countries simply had national
standards that had to be met.

National standards would be far better for many activities.

Examples can be more powerful than national or international studies. I get inundated with hundreds of complaints from all corners of New Zealand and
from people from all walks of life with frustrations over their experience with the RMA.

My first example is the Stoke Medical Centre, a typical suburban GP clinic on Main Road Stoke, employing 15 full-time staff. Three years ago the practice
wanted to expand its staff and extend its permissible opening hours. This required a change to their resource consent which Council ruled under the Act
had to be notified. Six months and $57,000 of bills later the amended consent was granted with the requirement that they had to provide seven new bike
stands. And this cost excluded the time doctors and practice staff had spent on the process. The bike stands cost $35 each but the bureaucratic paper
associated with each meant they ended up costing over $8000 a stand. The tragedy of this case is that the $57,000 consent cost will ultimately come out
of the health budget and people’s GP charges in an area where there are many low income struggling families and retirees.

It is not just health dollars that are being wasted under the RMA. The resource consenting process for Nelson’s new Young Parents’ School
officially opened by the Prime Minister last year was a fiasco. The new school is smart social policy aimed at supporting teenage mums by enabling them to
continue their education, while also ensuring their pre -school children are engaged in education from an early age. The school is sited at Auckland
Point School where the roll is a lot less than the school’s capacity. The Principal and Board of Trustees fully supported the initiative being on their
school site.

The problem was that the school is designated under the RMA for “primary education” and the Young Parents School was about providing education for
secondary school age mums and early childhood education for their children. This meant under the RMA a change of designation, notification of neighbours
and a full Commissioner hearing at a direct cost of $64,000. There would have been no change out of $100,000 if you included the considerable staff
time of the Education Ministry, Kindergarten Association and school. This process also delayed the Young Parents School’s opening by more than a
year. More was spent on the RMA bureaucracy than on the facility for the specialist teachers, young mums and their babies.

The nonsense of this case is that the RMA is meant to be about protecting the environment and whether Auckland Point School has primary, pre-school or
secondary students, makes not a jot of difference. The early childhood regulations and building consent requirements are separate and ensure the facilities are safe and appropriate. More good would have been achieved for the environment had the $64,000 of cash been deposited in the school’s composting bins.

I could give hundreds of examples of the RMA wrecking Kiwi family dreams of building their own home. I choose this Nelson example because it illustrates how far council planners under the RMA are now intruding into people’s lives. A couple in their 60s bought a 630 square metre flat section in Sanctuary Drive in the Marsden Valley. Their architectural designer produced plans for their dream home that included an internal access garage in the front corner to minimise the portion of the section used for the driveway and located their living area so as to maximise the sun. The orientation was similar to 14 other homes in the subdivision. They were gobsmacked to have their consent application declined on the basis of a new RMA rule that had just come into
effect in late 2012. They were told they had to relocate the garage out the back and have their living area face the road. 

The RMA justification for rejecting the design was that the house failed to provide for a “positive private to public space relationship”. In plain language they wanted the living area to face the road so the residents would keep a safe eye on the street. The couple abandoned the section at a cost of many thousands of dollars. So much for a person’s home being their castle.

The RMA is being used to micro-manage building designs down to the extent of what direction people should look.

This sort of madness has been repeated in Auckland and had property magnate Bob Jones venting his spleen late last year. He owns a 17-storey CBD building and wanted to re-establish a ground-floor shop window that had been blocked off by a previous tenant. Not only did this minor work require a $4500 resource consent, but because it would have people looking out on a designated heritage site, the consent required a cultural impact statement and consultation with 13 iwi. This is all for permission to replace a window!

This isn’t only madness, it’s expensive, wasteful and the triumph of bureaucracy over common sense.

These and many other examples show why change is needed.

The Motu Economic and Public Policy Research report is here.

 


January 22 in history

January 22, 2015

1506 The first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrived at the Vatican.

1521 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, opened the Diet of Worms.

1561 Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, was born (d. 1626).

1771 – Spain ceded Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands to England.
1788 George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (Lord Byron), English poet, was born (d. 1824).

1824 – Ashantis defeated British forces in the Gold Coast.

1840 The New Zealand Company’s first settler ship, the Aurora, arrived at Petone, marking the official commencement of the settlement that would eventually become Wellington.

First European settlers arrive in Wellington

1889 Columbia Phonograph was formed in Washington, D.C.

1899 Leaders of six Australian colonies met in Melbourne to discuss confederation.

1901 Edward VII was proclaimed King after the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.

1905 Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg, beginning of the 1905 revolution.

1906 SS Valencia ran aground on rocks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, killing more than 130.

1919 Act Zluky was signed, unifying the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic.

1924 Ramsay MacDonald became the first Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1927 First live radio commentary of a football match anywhere in the world, between Arsenal F.C. and Sheffield United at Highbury.

1931 Sir Isaac Isaacs was sworn in as the first Australian-born Governor-General of Australia.

1934 Graham Kerr, British-born, New Zealand chef, was born.

1940 John Hurt, English actor, was born.

1941 British and Commonwealth troops captured Tobruk from Italian forces during Operation Compass.

1946 Iran: Qazi Muhammad declared the independent people’s Republic of Mahabad at Chuwarchira Square in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. He was the new president; Hadschi Baba Scheich was the prime minister.

1946 – Creation of the Central Intelligence Group, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.

1952 The first Jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, entered service for BOAC.

1957  Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula.

1957 The New York City “Mad Bomber”, George P. Metesky, was arrested and charged with planting more than 30 bombs.

1959 Knox Mine Disaster: Water breaches the River Slope Mine near Pittston City, Pennsylvania in Port Griffith; 12 miners are killed.

1960 Michael Hutchence, Australian singer (INXS), was born (d. 1997).

1962 Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu, Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, was born.

1963 The Elysée treaty of co-operation between France and Germany was signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer.

1965 Steven Adler, American drummer (Guns N’ Roses), was born.

1968 Apollo 5 lifted off carrying the first Lunar module into space.

1973  The Supreme Court of the United States delivered its decision in Roe v. Wade, legalizing elective abortion in all fifty states.

1984  The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, was introduced during Super Bowl XVIII with its famous “1984″ television commercial.

1987  Pennsylvania politician R. Budd Dwyer shot and killed himself at a press conference on live national television, leading to debates on boundaries in journalism.

1990 Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. was convicted of releasing the 1988 Internet Computer worm.

1992 Space Shuttle programme: STS-42 Mission – Dr. Roberta Bondar became the first Canadian woman in space.

1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burned alive by radical Hindus while sleeping in their car in Eastern India.

2002 Kmart Corp became the largest retailer in United States history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

2006 Evo Morales was inaugurated as President of Bolivia, becoming the country’s first indigenous president.

2007 – At least 88 people were killed when two car bombs explode in the Bab Al-Sharqi market in central Baghdad, Iraq.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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