366 days of gratitude

February 23, 2016

A friend set up a microwave oven business when they were first introduce to New Zealand.

An uncle of my farmer’s died at about that time and left hims the princely sum of $1000. That was about what a microwave cost and we bought one with the money.

With my friend’s instructions and an Alison Holst recipe book I microwaved just about anything until I worked out that it’s good for some things – thawing, reheating, white sauce . .  – and some things are better steamed, baked or grilled.

The  microwave died last year and we went several months before buying a replacement.

I didn’t miss it but my farmer did and so we got another.

Tonight plans to go out were changed at the last minute and I had to go to the freezer to find some protein for dinner.

My search uncovered some blue cod and I was very grateful that I had a microwave with which to thaw it before cooking it.


McCully not contesting East Coast Bays

February 23, 2016

Foreign Affairs Minister and National Party Member for East Coast Bays Murray McCully has announced that he will not contest the electorate seat in next year’s general election.

Mr McCully said his decision was not related to his medical leave late last year.

“It is a real privilege to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs. But it is an office that does not always sit easily with the role of a constituency MP.

“When my role as Foreign Minister comes to an end it is my intention to retire from Parliament. Quite when that will be, and whether I seek election as a List Member of Parliament in 2017, are decisions for the Prime Minister in the first instance.

“At the end of this term I will have served as the local Member of Parliament for 30 years. This is the right time for me to announce my intentions and clear the way for an orderly succession process,” said Mr McCully.

His Ministerial duties take him overseas and the party joke is that his majority increases the more he’s out of the electorate.

That is only a joke. He has a punishing ministerial work load but still manages to service and retain the support of his constituents.

However, he has been an MP for 30 years and it is good for party refreshment that he stands aside for a successor.

It is up to the National board to decide if he could have one of the up to five list-only seats and the Prime Minister to decide if he should retain his ministerial post.

The latter would also require National to still be leading the government after the next election.


Word of the day

February 23, 2016

Aquabib – a water drinker; teetotaler; one who doesn’t drink alcohol.


Rural round-up

February 23, 2016

Thousands of dairy farms face closure as debts reach crisis level – Elizabeth Anderson and Rhiannon Bury:

As many as one in five of the UK’s 10,000-plus dairy farms could be forced to close this year, as falling milk prices and rising debt reach crisis levels for farmers across the country, various industry bodies have warned.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) said many dairy farmers are at the end of their tether, operating at a loss and unable to receive any more finance from banks.

“We’re expecting an awful lot to exit the industry by the end of this year, when lots of farmers will have eaten up their savings. Last year the figure was 4pc, but the expectation is more will exit this year, whether it’s 10pc or 20pc,” said the organisation’s chairman Rob Harrison, who also runs his own dairy farm and says he lost £150,000 worth of income last year. . . 

Hurricane’ Carter :

Reuben Carter’s choice of the word “hurricane” for both his email address and sheep stud name couldn’t be more appropriate.

In his 31 years he’s been through three careers – as a fitter and turner, a tractor mechanic and now agronomist. He was runner-up in the 2014 Young Farmer of the Year competition, has just completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme and has his eyes firmly set on a Nuffield scholarship in the next few years. He is also heavily involved in the farming and development of his family’s sheep and beef farm at Opononi at the southern end of Hokianga Harbour in Northland, albeit from a distance.

His parents, Northland farmers Bill and Tric, didn’t name him after Reuben “Hurricane” Carter, the American boxer wrongly convicted of murder and immortalised in the Bob Dylan song of that name. But he was left in no doubt that after finishing Whangarei Boys’ High School as a boarder he could not come straight back to the Opononi farm. . .

These aren’t your grandmother’s GMOs – Jennifer Blair:

Of all the tools that plant breeders have at their disposal, a compelling story is perhaps the most important — and the most challenging to find.

“That’s one of the things in the modern breeders’ tool kit that needs improvement — our message out to the public and how it’s going to come across,” said geneticist Sean Myles of Dalhousie University. “We’re not good at it right now.”

Scientists have faced an uphill struggle in sharing facts about genetically modified organisms with consumers, partly because of how they were created in those early days, Myles said in a presentation at FarmTech last month. . . 

When size doesn’t matter – Andrew Hoggard:

Consultation on Fonterra’s Governance and Representation Review has begun, and credit where credit is due, I like how Fonterra have approached this.

The document outlines all the issues that farmer shareholders need to be considering, and the questions to be answered by the farmer, in shaping what the representation and governance of Fonterra needs to look like going forward.

 One of the concerns I have is everyone will just get focused on the board size argument. While that may well be one aspect that could well be changed depending on farmer sentiment, it is not the only one.

 And, if we get too myopic on that we could well ignore other issues in this document which I feel are equally important. . . 

Young leaders announced for upcoming primary industry technology event:

Young leaders in New Zealand’s primary industries are essential for increasing the future prosperity of the sector. One of the key highlights at the upcoming MobileTECH 2016 event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel. This session focuses on the next generation of farmers, orchardists and foresters and what their views and big ideas are for the future.

“While we will be heading a lot about new technologies at this event, it is equality as important to hear what the youth of today want to see developed”, said MobileTECH Programme Manager, Ken Wilson. “The young leaders have grown up with technology and there’s no doubt they will be the early adopters and visionaries for working with technology within our primary industries,” he said. . . 

Putting fun back into the community:

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers will be encouraged to think fun rather than falling dairy prices and dry conditions at a rural family day in Rongotea on 9 March.

The event – dubbed the Rural Family after Five – is being hosted by Manawatu/Rangitikei Federated Farmers together with members of the local farming community and rural support groups with the aim of helping to boost spirits in the region.

“There’s a lot of pressure on our farmers at the moment, so we wanted to create something for the whole community, bringing them together and taking some time off farm to focus on something more positive,” says Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei Provincial President James Stewart. . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes Bee Industry Unification:

Federated Farmers welcomes the announcement that the outcome of the National Beekeepers Association (NBA) special vote is positive.

The positive vote for change means the NBA will become Apiculture New Zealand as of 1 April 2016.

Members of the NBA voted for 58.63 per cent in favour which indicates a continuation of support for unification, creating a single and effective industry body. . . 

Giesen Wines announces internship winner:

Blenheim born Andrew Jeffries, 21, is no stranger to working in vineyards, and it’s this experience that has helped him to win the inaugural graduate internship at Giesen Wines.

Andrew, who attended Lincoln University, studying for his Bachelor’s degree in Viticulture and Oenology, has just begun work with the family owned producer, working at Giesen’s premium organic high-density vineyards in Marlborough.

He is already well versed at working in vineyards as his parents own a small 22ha block in Marlborough, and as a teenager Andrew was busily employed during the holidays. For the past two years, he has been in a technical support role for Giesen Wines. . . 


Stuck in anger

February 23, 2016

After our first son, Tom, died I found myself getting angry over all sorts of things that normally wouldn’t have worried me.

It was only at a Women in Agriculture day, entitled beyond aspirin for feelings that are a pain in the neck that I worked out why.

I didn’t blame anyone for Tom’s death. He had a degenerative brain disorder and we had both had the best possible care from the start of my pregnancy.

But what I learned that day made me realise that although I didn’t blame anyone and it was no-one’s fault, I was still very angry that the son we’d loved had died.

The facilitator taught us to name, claim and tame our feelings. Once I’d named the anger and claimed it – worked out what I was feeling, why and the effect it was having on me – I was able to tame it and pull myself away from it.

I was reminded of this while reading about the man who allegedly chucked the muck at Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee:

The man who allegedly tipped a chocolate and flour mixture over Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee lost his son in the February 2011 earthquake.

John Howland arrived at the Christchurch District Court on Tuesday on what would have been the 20th birthday of his son, Jayden Andrews-Howland.

He said he attacked Brownlee “to prove a point”. . . 

“The Government, they’re heartless.” Howland said.

“They don’t listen to people. They don’t care about us, don’t care about nobody.”

Howland said he had been planning the move on Brownlee “for a few years” and hoped his actions would make the Government “get their s… together and sort this blimmin city out and all the people that are suffering. It’s just bulls…. I’ve just had enough”. . . .

The only point he’s proved is that he’s stuck in anger.

Attacking the Minister at any time would be wrong. To do it after yesterday’s memorial service to quake victims was also insensitive and lacked respect for the others who were at the service to commemorate their own losses.

This is the third time a government minister has had something thrown at them by angry people in the last couple of weeks.

The first was the dildo that Steven Joyce copped at Waitangi, to which he responded in good humour.

The second was the glitter-bombing of Prime Minister John Key at the Big Gay Out.

And the muck chucked yesterday completes the shabby trifecta.

In an editorial, published before yesterday’s muck-chuck, the Listener opines:

Josie Butler wasn’t exactly breaking new ground when she hurled a rubber dildo at Cabinet minister Steven Joyce on Waitangi Day. Her choice of missile may have been novel, but the nature of the act was ­wearisomely familiar.

Elements of the protest movement clearly regard physical assaults on politicians as a legitimate tactic. Don Brash, then leader of the National Party, was struck hard in the face with a clod at Waitangi in 2004. More recently, brothers John and ­Wikitana Popata assaulted Prime Minister John Key at Te Tii Marae in 2009 – an act that their uncle, Hone Harawira, then a Maori Party MP, gave every ­impression of excusing.

It doesn’t need to be Waitangi Day for the angry and dis­affected to justify hands-on attacks. Act MP John Boscawen was speaking in a debate during the Mt Roskill by-election campaign in 2009 when a rival candidate, campaigning on a “People Before Profit” ticket, smeared a lamington on his head. And when broadcaster Paul Henry tried to enter Auckland’s SkyCity Casino for a charity lunch – unconnected with politics – in May 2015, he was jostled, menaced, abused and spat on by a screaming mob purporting to be concerned about child poverty. . . 

Butler’s dildo attack prompted a commendably droll response from Joyce, who tweeted that someone should send a video to British comedian John Oliver – noted for his lampooning of New Zealand as a weird place – and “get it over with”. Sure enough, Oliver devoted more than four minutes of his HBO show Last Week Tonight to the item. But amid all the chortling, he made a serious point: “If you threw something at a politician in this country, you’d be dead before the dildo hit the ground.” That, at least, is a point of difference about which New ­Zealanders can be proud.

Levity aside, there’s another serious issue here. Physical attacks – whether with a dildo, a lump of earth, a lamington or a gob of spit – are not part of the repertoire of legitimate protest. They are an intrusion on the rights of others. They are also a sad admission that gestures of inarticulate rage are too often preferred over the skills of reasoned debate.

It matters not whether any serious harm is done in such incidents. In a civilised, liberal democracy, people engaging in politics are entitled to expect that basic rights, such as freedom of speech and movement, will be respected. It’s legitimate to ask what would have happened had the Waitangi attack been aimed at Jacinda Ardern, say – if she had been hit in the face by a big rubber teat thrown by a skinhead protesting about refugee immigration.

Some might consider it not to be funny if a woman gets hit. Yet a female journalist was in fact struck on the breast by Butler’s dildo after it bounced off Joyce.

There is no question that throwing a missile hard enough to hit two people constitutes assault, though Butler appears to have escaped prosecution. So what happens now if young people are punished for throwing rubber missiles at teachers or students with whom they disagree? Are they not entitled to cry “hypocrisy”?

The reality is that Brash, Key and Joyce were entitled to go to Waitangi to celebrate our national day without risk of assault. Similarly, Boscawen was entitled to take part in a political debate without being subjected to the humiliation of having a lamington planted on his head. The boundaries of reasonable protest will always be blurred but ­physical intimidation is never acceptable. It constitutes an assault on democracy itself.

It’s also counterproductive, since it conflicts with most New Zealanders’ views about how public life should be conducted. This may not bother hard-core protesters but it is a problem for the wider left, because as long as ideological zealots continue to parade their angry intolerance, the mainstream left will be tarnished by association. . . 

There is a place for righteous anger but there was nothing righteous about these protests.

The first two were political, the third partly political and partly what appears to be unresolved grief.

Regardless of the motivation, throwing toys, glitter bombing and chucking muck are not legitimate forms of protest.

Freedom of expression brings with it the responsibility to express it without infringing other people’s rights.

In New Zealand we have remarkably unfettered access to our Members of Parliament.

People who let their anger overcome them as these three protesters did, do nothing for their cause, potentially endanger their targets and innocent bystanders, and threaten the accessibility the rest of us have to politicians.

 

 

 

 


No “only” about .9%

February 23, 2016

One criticism of the Trans Pacific Partnership is that it will add “only” .9% to New Zealand’s GDP.

Politik has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s response to  two economic studies quoted by Labour  using that figure to justify criticism of the deal.

MFAT Chief Negotiator David Walker says that 0.9% increase in baseline GDP in 2030 is equivalent to NZ$2.7 billion.

There is no “only” about $2.7 billion.


3-year-old shepherd

February 23, 2016

Nothing like starting them young:


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