366 days of gratitude

May 24, 2016

“Are you wearing a singlet?”

This was my mother’s constant refrain in winter and any other time of the year if it was even slightly cooler than mild when I was a child and for reasons lost in the mists of time, I often wasn’t.

Fast forward several decades to the development of merino clothing and its wonderful warming qualities in single garments or layered and I can happily answer in the affirmative.

With fresh snow on the hills and temperatures on the downlands reflecting that, today was a two-layer-under and one-over day and I’m very grateful for all three.

 


Word of the day

May 24, 2016

Kibitz – to look on and offer unwelcome advice, especially at a card game; watch other people and make unwanted comments about what they are doing; speak informally; chat.


Rural round-up

May 24, 2016

Imports threaten exports – Neal Wallace:

Exports of New Zealand sheep genetics to Australia will effectively stop while officials there consider the risk of scrapie.  

They were worried about it reaching NZ in sheep milking genetic material imported from Britain.  

Trade in genetics between NZ and Europe had been closed for 20 years following the outbreak of scrapie in sheep and BSE, also known as mad cow disease, in cattle but the fledgling sheep milking industry wants access European genetics which produce five times the volume milk of NZ flocks. . . 

Fonterra working on rebuilding trust:

Fonterra executives admit they need to listen more to rebuild the public’s trust in the company.

The dairy giant outlined its international marketing strategy to 800 farmers at a DairyNZ farmers’ forum near Hamilton today.

The company said it’s using social media to target young global consumers with different nutritional needs. . . 

Young Māori dairy farmer Jack Raharuhi changes direction and wins award –  Gerard Hutching:

A young farmer who confesses he “got into the wrong crowd as a teenager and chose the wrong path” has been crowned the 2016 Ahuwhenua Young Māori dairy farmer of the year.

Jack Raharuhi, hailing from the Ngati Kahu, said winning a prestigious award such as the Ahuwhenua was a huge honour.

“I got into the wrong crowd as a teenager and I chose the wrong path. I left school and came to work here on the farm which I now manage. Dairy farming got me in line. I had no time to go out and get into trouble. Now I have a fiancée and two children,” he said in Hamilton at the awards ceremony last night. . . 

Rakaia farm takes Awuwhenua Trophy:

A South Island dairy farm has won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy for the first time in the 83-year history of the competition.

The winner of the Maori Excellence in Farming Award dairy was the Proprietors of Rakaia Incorporation, whose farm Tahu a Tao has a long and proud history dating back to 1886.

The 216ha property near Ashburton runs around 830 Kiwi cross cows. . . 

Dog trailist a legend in his lifetime – Rob Tipa:

Rob Tipa meets a three-time national dog trials champion and farmer who knows what he likes and knows how to breed it.

Three-time New Zealand champion dog trialist Ginger Anderson, of Omarama, is a man who understands pedigrees and good breeding, whether he is talking about top trial dogs, fine wool sheep or charolais cattle.

He qualified for his first national dog trial championship 51 years ago, the youngest competitor to qualify at just 19, after winning the North Otago Centre and South Island championships. . . 

Hazelnuts offer nitrogen option:

Hazelnut trees’ potential to soak up nitrogen leaching will be revealed at three workshops over the next few weeks.

Farmers will be able to learn more about how hazelnut trees can fit into their farm management plans.

Hazelnut Growers Association chairman Murray Redpath, an Eastern Bay of Plenty sheep and beef farmer and hazelnut grower, says hazelnuts need nitrogen and their spring growth relies on having enough stored in their roots and plant tissues. . . 

New trophy for Young Farmers:

This year’s FMG New Zealand Young Farmers winner will hoist a new trophy, complete with number 8 wire.

A brand new trophy for the contest was unvelied earlier today as part of an official blessing in Canterbury.

“In constructing the trophy FMG and NZ Young Farmers wanted to honour the tradition of the contest and our proud farming heritage as well as acknowledge the pivotal role farming plays in terms of New Zealand’s current and future prosperity,” FMG chief executive Chris Black said. . . 

Horsetail weevil to rein in field horsetail weed:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved the horsetail weevil (Grypus equiseti) as a biological control agent to help curb the weed field horsetail (Equisetum arvense).

Field horsetail is an invasive species with green fern-like fronds that grow up to 80cm tall. Though it dies back in winter, it has a large underground root system that makes it difficult to control. It also produces large quantities of spores that can germinate on bare ground, threatening native plants in sensitive habitats, such as wetlands and on the banks of waterways. It is classed as an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993. . .


Move where the living is easier

May 24, 2016

The root of Auckland’s housing affordability problem is an imbalance between supply and demand.

Increasing supply takes time, reducing demand can happen faster, as fast as people move somewhere else where the living is easier as Liam Hehir has:

I am 30 years old, married and the father of two. Our family lives in a big villa on a large section in a quiet street.

Crime is low and the neighbours are nice. We are close enough to my office that the daily commute is rarely more than 20 minutes.

We’ve managed this despite not having wealthy parents, never winning Lotto and having sizeable student loans. And because I am the sole breadwinner, we actually earn less than the average household income.  

With a mortgage less than three times my annual salary, however, we are confident we can manage things on one income for a while. 

If you’ve read the papers lately, you might think this is quite the feat for a pair of millennials. As you will have heard (often and loudly), our cohort likes to think of itself as the hardest done by generation this side of the Black Death.  Some would go so far as to argue that the peasants of that era had a better shot at home ownership than we do.

What’s our secret? Well, it all comes down to one weird old tip: We choose not to live in Auckland. 

Instead, we have set up home in a small country village just outside of Palmerston North.

Don’t let too many people know about this, but there’s no law that says everyone has to live in Auckland.

You may be surprised to learn that Kiwis are pretty much free to live wherever they want. There’s actually nothing stopping young New Zealanders from buying houses in places like Palmerston North – or Invercargill, Whanganui, Timaru or Whangarei. . . 

People choose to live in or move to Auckland for many reasons, cheaper housing isn’t one of them. If they want a reasonable house for a reasonable price that’s not where they should be looking or living.

There are trade-offs. When you live in the provinces, you do not just go out for coffee at 10.30 on a Tuesday evening and expect places to be open. And while there are some very good bars and clubs, it is true that you don’t get the variation and choice on offer in the big city. 

But if you’re ready to be a homeowner, chances are that much of that is out of your system anyway.  . .

If you’ve mortgaged yourselves to the hilt you won’t have spare money for enjoying city attractions and life away from Auckland has other compensations. You won’t waste time and money on the stop-start crawl that is too-often part of driving there, for starters.

It also is true that if you buy in the provinces, your home is unlikely to appreciate in the manner of the inflationary Auckland market. But this is only a big problem if you see home ownership as an investment opportunity.

If you take the quaint view that a home is primarily a place to live (and that spending on it is consumption rather than speculation) then the slower market becomes less of a problem.

Here’s a second secret: there are forms of investment other than real estate. If you have a smaller mortgage, you can take the money you’ve saved and invest it in other things. And if you don’t know how to invest, you can ask a professional to do it. You can even get your bank to manage it for you.

There are even some people out there who say that a diverse set of investments is safer than pouring all your income into one property in the hopes that the market will continue to inflate forever and ever. 

Sounds crazy, right?

But what about work? If you’ve got a strong back, you should be able to find work in the provinces. 

Remember, these are the regions where farmers have literally have had to hire tens of thousands of migrants to fill jobs Kiwis don’t want to do. Of course, it might mean putting on hold your dreams of being a doghouse interior design consultant or owning a restaurant that specialises in artisan toast.

As the Discovery Channel’s Mike Rowe advises, “don’t pursue your passion, chase opportunity.”

Some of the jobs available out here in the regions might not always be pleasant or glamorous (I can attest from experience) but they are perfectly respectable. You might not start out on megabucks, but the cost of living is low. You have to start somewhere.

Some of those not so pleasant jobs pay well and there’s plenty of pleasant jobs in the provinces too.

Technology means you don’t necessarily have to live where your market is. Garrick Tremain, one of the country’s best cartoonists lives at the foot of Coronet Peak; a couple in rural North Otago make a very good living buying and selling furniture on-line; booming tourism has provided business opportunities in all sorts of formerly out-of-the-way places.

It’s not only small businesses that thrive out of Auckland. Toyota has its headquarters in Palmerston North and Ravensdown is based on the outskirts of Christchurch.

We are the descendants of enterprising people. In centuries past, our ancestors came to these islands by waka and sail, making sacrifices and taking risks along the way because they sensed the chance to make something for themselves in a new place. Many of their successors seem to be too timid or too entitled to venture south of the Bombay Hills. 

More fool them.

There is life, and very good living, out of our biggest city.

Those used to higher temperatures might find it a bit cool much further south, but they’ll be able to afford a warm, dry home and as much heating and as many layers of merino as they need with the money they’re not paying for an Auckland house.


Fonterra hasn’t got message

May 24, 2016

Fonterra was sent a message last year when more than 50% of shareholders supported the remit put forward by Colin Armer and Greg Gent to cut the number of board members from 13 to nine.

Unfortunately the remit didn’t get the 75% support it needed and the board didn’t get the message.

It did come up with a proposal to drop a couple of directors but it is also proposing a more convoluted and less democratic method of selecting them which  Keith Woodford sees this as a Trojan horse:

Many farmers have been convinced by the call from former directors Colin Armer and Greg Gent that reducing the number of directors would be a step forward, and it aligns with a widely held view that something at Fonterra needs to change. But reducing director numbers in itself will achieve nothing of substance.

The reason that the proposal is a Trojan horse is that it lets in a revised director selection process that is fundamentally non democratic, and which take power away from farmer members.

Fonterra itself is a business with assets of $19 billion and equity of $7 billion. However, beneath this there are another set of land and cow assets that are owned by farmers that are worth – even at today’s discounted rates – more than $60 billion, with more than $30 billion of this is now owed to the banks. Why would farmers want to release their direct say in governance by relinquishing the power to select their directors?

It is now explicit as to how the director nomination and selection process will be managed. This process is complex with multiple steps, and effectively keeps farmer shareholders well away from the selection process. . . 

The board will select candidates. Shareholders will  be able to vote for them or, in what will in effect be a vote of no confidence in the board – against them.

Although the proposed process itself is now explicit, the operation thereof will be clouded in secrecy.

The only way for farmer shareholders to influence the choice of directors will be by rejecting the Boards own nominations. And then the process of finding an alternative director goes back behind closed doors.

The new proposal, if accepted by farmers, will in the long term do more to alienate members than any event since Fonterra’s formation. The danger is, that with farmers currently distracted by more immediate issues of cash flow and survival, the proposals will pass at the vote on June 10, simply because many farmers will have not engaged with the key issues.

The required approval of 75% of farmer votes is a stiff target. But it is feasible that it could be achieved off a low turnout. This is particularly the case if the larger corporate-type farmers vote in favour.

One has to ask, what has led the current Board to endorse these proposals. The support within the Board is supposedly unanimous, but is that simply because of ‘cabinet solidarity’?

We know that in the past a divided Board has chosen to present a united front under pressure from the majority. It would be interesting to see each Board member stand up and explain why he or she is supporting the change.

As a starting point, the proposal uses a common approach to choose both farmer and non-farmer directors, and in the process ignores the differences in situation.

Non-farmer directors are meant to be chosen for specific skill sets that are otherwise missing in the overall Board. This is best achieved by a private and confidential search, followed by tapping the desired people on the shoulder. Democracy is not the way to get the right people to fill those specific roles.

Under the revised proposals, it will be the nomination and selection committees that seek out both these non-farmer and also the farmer directors, but then the selected nominees will have to sell themselves to a series of public farmer meetings. Most potential non-farmer directors with the relevant expertise have a range of alternative options, and they will feel little need to allow their names to go forward into such a process. That is not the way these people operate.

As for the farmer directors, the claim is that it will reduce the internal politics. In terms of double speak I am reminded of George Orwell’s 1984.

The new proposed system will be totally closed door until just before final acceptance or rejection of nominees by farmers. It will depend on the nomination and selection committees, dominated by existing Fonterra Board-think plus nominated independent non-farmer business people, and where those with new or provocative thinking will struggle to get a guernsey.

The proposed process of director selection is highly complex with multiple stages.
First there will be a nominating committee of two Fonterra farmer directors and two non-farmer directors. There will also be two Shareholders Council observers on this Committee. . . 

Woodford describes the process then says:

Actually, there are comparable analogies from elsewhere. They are called communist party elections. Essentially, this is the process they follow of selection and then public endorsement and ‘election’ of the chosen ‘selected’ candidates.

There are multiple problems at Fonterra, and some of these are a consequence of bad historical decisions going back many years. They have come from weaknesses in leadership and weaknesses in diversity of thinking. I have written previously about those on multiple occasions.

However, none of the current proposals solve any of Fonterra’s current weaknesses. These proposals simply throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Hopefully, enough Fonterra farmers will clear their minds of current distractions to recognise that this is not the path forward.

Fonterra faces several challenges, none of which will be helped by the convoluted and anti-democratic procedure the board is proposing for director elections.

Thirteen is at least four people too many for an efficient and effective board.

Dropping a couple of farmer directors and having the rest selected in the secretive method proposed is not in the best interests of the co-operative or its shareholders.


Quote of the day

May 24, 2016

The Queen is most anxious to enlist everyone in checking this mad, wicked folly of ‘Women’s Rights’. It is a subject which makes the Queen so furious that she cannot contain herself. Queen Victoria who was born on this day in 1819.


May 24 in history

May 24, 2016

15 BC  Germanicus Julius Caesar, Roman commander, was born (d. 19).

1218 The Fifth Crusade left Acre for Egypt.

1276  Magnus Ladulås was crowned King of Sweden in Uppsala Cathedral.

1487  Lambert Simnel was crowned as “King Edward VI” at Dublin.

1595  Nomenclator of Leiden University Library appeared, the first printed catalog of an institutional library.

1621  The Protestant Union was formally dissolved.

1626  Peter Minuit bought Manhattan.

1689  The English Parliament passes the Act of Toleration protecting Protestants.

1738  John Wesley was converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement; the day is celebrated annually by Methodists as Aldersgate Day.

1798 Irish Rebellion of 1798 led by the United Irishmen against British rule began.

1819 Queen Victoria was born (d. 1901).

1822  Battle of Pichincha: Antonio José de Sucre secured the independence of the Presidency of Quito.

1830  ”Mary Had a Little Lamb” by Sarah Josepha Hale was published.

1830  The first revenue trains in the United States began service on theBaltimore and Ohio Railroad between Baltimore, Maryland and Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland.

1832  The First Kingdom of Greece was declared in the London Conference.

1844  Samuel F. B. Morse sent the message “What hath God wrought” (a Bible quotation, Numbers 23:23) from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in Baltimore, Maryland.

1846 Mexican-American War: General Zachary Taylor captured Monterrey.

1854 New Zealand’s parliament sat for the first time in Auckland, with 37 MPs.

Parliament's first sitting in Auckland

1856  John Brown and his men murdered five slavery supporters at Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas.

1861 American Civil War: Union troop occupied Alexandria, Virginia.

1870 Jan Christiaan Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa, was born (d. 1950).

1883 The Brooklyn Bridge  was opened to traffic after 14 years of construction.

1887 Edward “Mick” Mannock, Irish WWI flying ace was born (d. 1918).

1895  Henry Irving became the first person from the theatre to be knighted.

1900 Second Boer War: The United Kingdom annexed the Orange Free State.

1901  Seventy-eight miners died in the Caerphilly pit disaster in South Wales.

1915  World War I: Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.

1921  The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti opened.

1930  Amy Johnson landed in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia.

1935  The first night game in Major League Baseball history was played in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 at Crosley Field.

1940  Igor Sikorsky performed the first successful single-rotor helicopterflight.

1941 Bob Dylan, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1941  World War II: In the Battle of the Atlantic, the German BattleshipBismarck sank the then pride of the Royal Navy, HMS Hood, killing all but three crewmen.

1943 – Turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic  – Germany’s Admiral Dönitz, alarmed at the heavy losses inflicted by increasingly strong Allied escort forces (a total of 41 U-boats were sunk that month), ordered the temporary withdrawal of U-boat ‘wolf packs’ from the North Atlantic.

1943  Josef Mengele became chief medical officer of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

1945 Priscilla Presley, American actress, was born.

1956 Conclusion of the Sixth Buddhist Council on Vesak Day, marking the 2,500 year anniversary after the Lord Buddha’s Parinibbāna.

1956 The first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland.

1958 United Press International was formed through a merger of the United Press and the International News Service.

1960 Kristin Scott Thomas, English actress, was born.

1960 Guy Fletcher, British keyboardist (Dire Straits), was born.

1960  Cordón Caulle began to erupt.

1961  American civil rights movement: Freedom Riders were arrested in Jackson, Mississippi for “disturbing the peace” after disembarking from their bus.

1961  Cyprus entered the Council of Europe.

1962 Project Mercury: American astronaut Scott Carpenter orbited earth three times in the Aurora 7 space capsule.

1967  Egypt imposed a blockade and siege of the Red Sea coast of Israel.

1968 Three people died in the Inangahua earthquake.

Three die in Īnangahua earthquake

1968 FLQ separatists bombed the U.S. consulate in Quebec City.

1970  The drilling of the Kola Superdeep Borehole began in the Soviet Union.

1973  Earl Jellicoe resigned as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the Lords.

1976  The London to Washington, D.C. Concorde service began.

1980  The International Court of Justice called for the release of United States embassy hostages in Tehran.

1982  Liberation of Khorramshahr, Iranians recapture of the port city of Khorramshahr from the Iraqis during the Iran–Iraq War.

1988  Section 28 of the United Kingdom’s Local Government Act of 1988, a controversial amendment stating that a local authority cannot intentionally promote homosexuality, was enacted.

1989 Sonia Sutcliffe, wife of the Yorkshire Ripper, was awarded  £600,000 in damages (later reduced to £60,000 on appeal) after winning a libel action against Private Eye.

1990  A car carrying American Earth First! activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney exploded in Oakland, California, critically injuring both.

1991  Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia.

1991  Israel conducted Operation Solomon, evacuating Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

1992 The last Thai dictator,  General Suchinda Kraprayoon, resigned following pro-democracy protests.

1994  Four men convicted of bombing the World Trade Center in New Yorkin 1993 were each sentenced to 240 years in prison.

2000  Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation.

2001 Fifteen-year-old Sherpa Temba Tsheri became  the youngest person to climb to the top of Mount Everest.

2001  The Versailles wedding hall disaster in Jerusalem, killed 23 and injured over 200 in Israel’s worst-ever civil disaster.

2002  Russia and the United States signed the Moscow Treaty.

2004  North Korea banned mobile phones.

2014 – A 6.4 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, injuring 324 people.

2014 – At least 3 people wwere killed in a shooting at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, Belgium

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.


%d bloggers like this: