366 days of gratitude

February 5, 2016

The water I drank as a child wasn’t of sufficient quality to wash export meat so the freezing works at Pukeuri had to build a huge tank for treated water.

Locals built up immunity but visitors often fell foul of whatever lurked in what we drank.

Domestic water standards are much higher now and the town supply is treated.

When I was first married we had an open water tank which supplied the house and when the resident toddler and I were struck by giardia, tests showed the water we drank was responsible for it.

Now our water is treated and comes from a covered tank.

I don’t drink tea or coffee but do drink a lot of water straight from the tap.

Today I’m grateful for clean water.


Word of the day

February 5, 2016

Tambour –  a small drum; a circular frame for holding fabric taut while it is being embroidered; an embroidery frame; especially : a set of two interlocking hoops between which cloth is stretched before stitching; decorate or embroider on a tambour; a sliding door on desks or cabinets made of thin strips of wood glued side by side onto a canvas backing.


Rural round-up

February 5, 2016

Demand pushes ewes up to $200 – Annette Scott:

A shortage of sheep and recent pasture growth has seen ewe prices skyrocket against all odds at the South Island ewe fairs this past week.

With the dismal state of lamb prices and the dry start to summer, ewe fairs were not expected to fire this season.  

“I don’t know where the confidence is coming from. The processing companies are certainly not giving much confidence,” PGG Wrightson south Canterbury livestock manager Joe Higgins said. . . 

Pressure on NZ’s farmland discussed – John Gibb:

The challenge of achieving sustainability and growing pressure on New Zealand’s rural landscape were highlighted during a national geography conference at the University of Otago yesterday.

New Zealand Geographical Society president Emeritus Prof Harvey Perkins, of Auckland University, and Prof Eric Pawson, of Canterbury University, gave a joint keynote presentation on New Zealand ‘‘going global”.

They also focused on ‘‘the tensions of rapidly shifting external relationships and the remaking of domestic rural landscapes”. . . 

Fonterra Introduces Market-Linked Price for Organic Milk:

The success of Fonterra’s organic business has prompted the Co-operative to introduce an independent organic milk price linked to market returns for organic products.

From June 2016, organic milk payments will reflect the performance of the organics business. Organic farmers currently receive a fixed premium together with the conventional Farmgate Milk Price for their organic milk supply. Organic farmers can choose to move to the new payment approach or stay under the existing payment system. . . 

TPP will help remove regulatory barriers:

The main benefit for the deer industry from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will be the ability to challenge any potentially unfair regulations imposed by importing countries.

“Regulatory barriers can sometimes do more to impede trade than tariffs and quotas. Under the TPP, there will be an independent disputes mechanism that will allow our exporters to appeal regulations in importing countries they believe are unjustified or unfair,” says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup. . . 

Red meat sector welcomes signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement:

The signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement today in Auckland is a significant step towards reducing the amount of tariff and non-tariff barriers on New Zealand red meat exports, according to the Chairmen of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Trade Minister Todd McClay signed the TPP Agreement today with the 11 member countries, including from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. . . 

He’s farming again after drought – Alan Williams:

David Hyde is a happy farmer who credits his positive attitude for coming through the north Canterbury drought still loving being on the land. He told Alan Williams how he coped by adapting his usual farming practices to meet the challenges.  

David Hyde says he can start farming again after January rain ended the severe and long-running drought on his Scargill Valley farm in north Canterbury.  

The lucerne that had browned off by late last year has raced away in the last few weeks and will soon be cut for balage – something not normally expected in early February in north Canterbury. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes TPP Signing:

New Zealand’s peak body for commercial fruit and vegetable growers, Horticulture New Zealand, has welcomed the official New Zealand signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement today.

Horticulture is New Zealand’s fourth largest export earner, sending fresh and processed products to more than 120 countries, valued at more than $2.5 billion every year.

The estimated saving for nine key product lines (kiwifruit, apples, avocado, buttercup squash, capsicum, cherries, onions, potatoes and vegetable juices) is just over $25 million a year for the growers now exporting these products to Japan, the USA and Vietnam. . . 

Kiwifruit winner in TPP Agreement:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will generate significant value for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and Zespri welcomes the signing of the Agreement today in Auckland.

Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager explains the TPP will eliminate tariffs on kiwifruit exports into all 12 Asia-Pacific nations when it comes into force, with the biggest impact to be seen in Japan.

In 2014, the industry paid over $15 million in tariffs into Japan which is Zespri’s largest country market . . 

World’s largest fruit trade show shines spotlight on Kiwi ingenuity.

The world’s fresh produce industry is gathering in Berlin this February to showcase its wares as well as discussing global trends in fruit and vegetable production and consumption.

Among them will be New Zealand’s leading horticultural producers and the creators of some world-leading Kiwi technology.

Fruit Logistica 2016 is a trade fair with a global scope. It provides an excellent opportunity for growers and equipment manufacturers to get in front of the European market, which takes over half a billion dollars of our horticultural exports every year. This year’s exhibitors include Zespri, Plant & Food Research, Wyma, BBC Technologies and Compac. . . 

Exciting Mānuka honey scheme launched:

A new initiative to boost the mānuka honey industry in Northland and provide educational and employment opportunities has been launched today at Northland College by Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell, Education Minister Hekia Parata and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The Mānuka Planting Initiative at Northland College is part of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan which was launched this morning.

Mr Flavell, who is also the Associate Economic Development Minister, says the initiative will help prepare and upskill unemployed adults living in Kaikohe. . . 

Aotearoa Fisheries appoints new directors to Sealord:

Aotearoa Fisheries Limited is making changes to its appointed directors to Sealord Group Limited in order to have a complete alignment of its appointees with its own board. Aotearoa Fisheries owns 50% of Sealord on behalf of all Māori, and as such appoints half of the Sealord board of directors.

As part of the recent Maori Fisheries Act review Iwi expressed a strong desire for the Aotearoa Fisheries Limited appointed Sealord directors to come directly from the Aotearoa Fisheries Limited Board. Aotearoa Fisheries Limited Chairman Whaimutu Dewes said these changes will give effect to this desire. . . 

Dairy Awards Entrants in the Spotlight:

Entrants in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are being put through their paces, as judges deliberate who the first regional winners will be.

Judging is currently underway in the 11 regional competitions of the 2016 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of Year competitions.

More than 450 people entered the awards, with the first of the regional winners to be announced in Taranaki on March 4. . . 

Brancott Estate and BlueChilli seek the next big idea in wine tech:

Brancott Estate revolutionised the wine industry when they pioneered Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in 1975. Now they are looking for the next pioneer in the wine industry with the announcement of winexplorer, an innovation challenge designed to revolutionise the way wine is enjoyed.

“When we decided to plant Sauvignon Blanc vines in Marlborough in 1975, we created one of the world’s most popular wine styles and turned New Zealand into one of the world’s premier wine growing regions. Now we are looking to change the wine world again by identifying ideas that will fundamentally change the way people enjoy wine.” says Patrick Materman, Brancott Estate Chief Winemaker and a winexplorer judge.

“Whether it’s an idea about how people choose what wine to drink, or how they share that wine with their friends, if it’s big, bold and revolutionary, then we want to hear it.” . . 

Wine Flight to take off:

More than 60 of the world’s most influential wine media, trade and sommeliers will enjoy a unique “Wine Flight” today thanks to Air New Zealand and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Two Air New Zealand Q300 aircraft are scheduled to take off from Blenheim this afternoon and cruise at 11,000ft, taking in spectacular views of some of New Zealand’s best known wine regions, including Marlborough, Nelson, Martinborough/Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne.

On board the VIP passengers will enjoy wines from some of the regions they’re flying over, including a Nelson Albariño, a Martinborough Pinot Noir and a Hawke’s Bay Syrah. . . 


Friday’s answers

February 5, 2016

Andrei and J Bloggs posed the questions for which they get my thanks.

Should they have stumped us all they will win a virtual case of stone fruit which can be collected by leaving the answers below.


Fee-free uni not best use of money

February 5, 2016

Martin Robbins was in favour of fee-free tertiary education but he’s found that not only could scrapping fees be a terrible idea, there’s also a far better place to put the money:

For a long time I hated tuition fees. I hated them for moral reasons and for selfish ones. I obviously wasn’t too thrilled to pay them. If I’m honest, it felt like a tax on effort, on intelligence, on wanting to make a contribution to society. ‘The country will benefit from me and people like me,’ I smugly and conveniently believed, ‘and so my education should be a taxpayer investment.’

A better reason to hate them was, I believed, the deterrent effect that they would have on poorer people entering university. If you make it more expensive to get a degree then naturally that’s going to favour people with more money. . . 

There’s just one teeny tiny problem. The evidence shows that if you want to invest ten billion reducing inequality, the university system is about the worst place you can possibly put it. In fact it’s such a bad idea that it could have the exact opposite effect. . . 

He shows that more people from disadvantaged areas are going to university in spite of fees.

. . .In the last decade, in spite of rising tuition fees, students are more likely to apply for university, poorer students are more likely to apply for university, and the inequality gap – while still a problem – has closed. We’re not talking about small debatable improvements here – these are massive changes. . . 

Fees are a relatively small part of the cost of tertiary education and in New Zealand taxpayers already give a subsidy of about 70% towards them.

The truth is that the rot of inequality sets in years before a pupil reaches the age to be thinking about university. Research published in 2014 by the Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions – and a stack of similar studies before that – tell us exactly where.. .

The high ability kids start off about the same, but over time the rot sets in. The gap grows and grows, with a dramatic decline for the less advantaged kids between key stage 2 (7-11) and key stage 4 (14-16). The same gap opens up between the average ability kids too, to such a large extent that by the time the four groups of children reach their GCSEs, the average ability rich kids are pulling ahead of the high ability poor kids, who by the age of 16 are already stuck in a long term rut that will affect how the rest of their lives unfold.

So taking all of the above into account, the impact of tuition fees to date and the evidence about where inequality sets in among children, I think I’m pretty clear now on where I’d like to see extra cash spent. . . 

The greatest need for more money isn’t relieving tertiary students of the cost of the small proportion of fees they now pay.

The greatest need is much earlier in the education system.

Pupils who succeed at secondary level will be able to choose whether to take on tertiary study, those who don’t won’t only not have that choice they will have very limited opportunities for work as well.

UPDATE:

The NZ Herald editorial says fee-free tertiary education is an expensive fix which has little purpose:

A universal entitlement to three years’ free tertiary education has overwhelming public appeal. Whether it is in the public interest is another question. The policy is expensive: $1.2 billion when fully implemented.

That is a considerable lump of public spending. As always when something of this magnitude is proposed, we should not look at its merits in isolation. Governments do not have infinite budgets and there is a limit to the taxation an economy can provide and remain healthy.

Labour needs to be asked, is this the most worthwhile use of $1.2 billion Is it even the most worthy use of funds allocated to education?

This question should be asked of every dollar that is spent.

Many professionals (outside the tertiary sector at least) would say raising funding of pre-school education is more socially urgent and productive than relieving school-leavers of an obligation to contribute to the cost of their qualifications.

 

University student associations have complained about course fees and loans to cover them since they were introduced. But many thousands of graduates have paid their fees and repaid their loans over the past 20 years.

Tertiary education has seen spectacular growth over that period, attracting foreign fee-paying students as well as meeting New Zealanders’ needs. Why change the funding system now?

Or to put it another way, what problem is this policy designed to fix? Labour’s leader presents it as an answer to the frequent and unpredictable career changes people will need in the workforce of the future. But this “future” has been present for many years now and there has been no sign the costs of retraining have become a problem.

So long as the economy remains strong and apprenticeships are available, as they are, it seems it cannot be too hard to acquire new skills.

If the wage drop creates difficulties for those with dependants, for instance, targeted assistance would be more effective than a costly new universal entitlement.

The economy is strong in large part because public spending is under control. Expensive proposals that waste money purely for political gain could put the country’s prosperity in peril.

The return to surplus after the previous Labour government had, in the words of Michael Cullen, spent the lot, was made more difficult by the GFC and the Canterbury earthquakes.

Forecasts aren’t optimistic about surpluses in the short term.

Any increase in spending must be directed where the need is greatest and it will achieve the most – that’s not making tertiary education completely fee-free.

 


Quote of the day

February 5, 2016

Public opinion is a compound of folly, weakness, prejudice, wrong feeling, right feeling, obstinacy, and newspaper paragraphs. –  Robert Peel who was born on this day in 1788.


February 5 in history

February 5, 2016

1649 The claimant King Charles II of England and Scotland was declared King of Scotland.

1725 James Otis, American lawyer and patriot, was born (d. 1783).

1778  South Carolina was the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

1782 Spanish defeat British forces and capture Minorca.

1783 In Calabria, Italy, a sequence of strong earthquakes started.

1788 Robert Peel, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1850).

1818 Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte ascended to the thrones of Sweden and Norway.

1840 John Boyd Dunlop, Scottish inventor, was born (d. 1921).

1840 Hiram Stevens Maxim, American inventor (Maxim gun), was born (d. 1916).

1859 – Wallachia and Moldavia were united under Alexander John Cuza as the United Principalities.

1878 André Citroën, French automobile pioneer, was born  (d. 1935).

1885 – King Léopold II of Belgium established the Congo as a personal possession.

1867 New Zealand’s third public railway, the 27-kilometre line betweenInvercargill and the port at Bluff, built by the Southland Provincial Council, opened.

Opening of railway from Invercargill to Bluff

1900 The United States and the United Kingdom signed a treaty for thePanama Canal.

1908 – Daisy and Violet Hilton, British conjoined twins, were born  (d. 1969).

1911 – Pioneering aviator Vivian Walsh made the first controlled powered flight in New Zealand.

First controlled powered flight in New Zealand

1917 The current constitution of Mexico was adopted, establishing a federal republic with powers separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

1917 – The Congress of the United States passed the Immigration Act of 1917 over President Woodrow Wilson‘s veto. Also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act, it forbade immigration from nearly all of south and southeast Asia.

1918 Stephen W. Thompson shot down a German airplane, the first aerial victory by the U.S. military.

1919 Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith launched United Artists.

1920  Frank Muir, British comedian, was born (d. 1998).

1924 The Royal Greenwich Observatory begins broadcasting the hourly time signals known as the Greenwich Time Signal or the “BBC pips”.

1942 Cory Wells, American singer (Three Dog Night), was born.

1946 The Chondoist Chongu Party was founded in North Korea.

1958 Gamel Abdel Nasser was nominated to be the first president of theUnited Arab Republic.

1958 – A hydrogen bomb known as the Tybee Bomb was lost by the US Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, never to be recovered.

1962 President Charles De Gaulle called for Algeria to be granted independence.

1964 Duff McKagan, American musician (Guns N’ Roses), was born.

1972 Bob Douglas became the first African American elected to theBasketball Hall of Fame.

1972 Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, was born.

1994  More than 60 people were killed and some 200 wounded when a mortar shell hit a downtown marketplace in Sarajevo.

1997 – The “Big Three”  banks in Switzerland announced the creation of a $71 million fund to aid Holocaust survivors and their families.

2004 Twenty-three Chinese people drowned when a group of 35 cockle-pickers was trapped by rising tides in Morecambe Bay, England. .

2004 – Rebels from the Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front captured the city of Gonaïves, starting the 2004 Haiti rebellion.

2008 – A major tornado outbreak across the Southern United States left 57 dead.

2009 The United States Navy guided missile cruiser Port Royal ran aground off Oahu, Hawaii, damaging the ship and a coral reef.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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