366 days of gratitude

June 3, 2016

For too long New Zealand houses weren’t built with insulation and double glazing.

The original bits of our home are more than 80 years old but several  alterations have made better use of the sun and provided better protection from the cold than the original building had.

The last involved fairly radical surgery with good insulation put under the floor, in the walls and roof. All new windows were double-glazed and the old ones retro-fitted.

Now that winter’s here I’m very grateful for all of that.


Word of the day

June 3, 2016

Syllogism – an instance of a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two given or assumed propositions (premises); a common or middle term is present in the two premises but not in the conclusion, which may be invalid; a kind of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two or more propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true; a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion; a subtle, specious, or crafty argument; deductive reasoning.


Rural round-up

June 3, 2016

Dairy price estimates are consistently wrong – Keith Woodford:

As occurs each year, the media have focused on Fonterra’s opening forecast for the coming year, predicted this year to be $4.25, as if it has significant meaning. To put that in perspective, here are Fonterra’s opening forecasts and actual payments for the last five years.
Fonterra price estimates

The overall tendency has been for Fonterra to be over-optimistic by $0.58 c per year. However, the average error in the prediction is $1.27c, ranging from minus $2.60 to plus $1.40. In three of the five years, Fonterra has been out by more than $1.30. . . 

NZ Merino inks 5-year, $45M contract with Italy’s Reda, supplier to Armani, Gucci – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Merino Company, which markets the nation’s wool to customers on behalf of suppliers, has signed a five-year, $45 million deal to supply fine wool to Italian luxury fabric manufacturer Successori Reda, its longest-ever contract.

The fixed-price contract for 2,500 tonnes of fine wool in the 15.8 to 19.2-micron range effectively locks up supply for all of the qualifying wool that New Zealand will produce over the five-year period, said NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge. Previously, NZ Merino’s longest contract period covered three years. . . 

Changes to firearms’ licensing programme will have a major negative impact on rural communities

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned about the changes to firearms’ licensing, training and testing, being proposed by the Mountain Safety Council (MSC). The MSC executive has been announcing these changes in a series of road shows around the country. Volunteer instructors are being told their services are no longer required.

The current MSC Firearms Safety Programme has about 480 volunteers with significant hunting and shooting experience. They are based in 150 locations in New Zealand. MSC propose to significantly reduce the number of trainers and the number of locations. . . 

China ‘a big country with lots of different moving parts’ – Tony Benny:

A group of Silver Fern Farms shareholder suppliers are back on their farms following a week-long tour of China where they discovered just how complex the market there is. Tony Benny joined them on tour.

As a 30-strong group of New Zealand farmers, Silver Fern Farms staff and guides – and including three reporters – streak into central Shanghai from Pudong airport aboard the Maglev train, the display in the carriage reads 315kmh.

They’re on the world’s fastest train service, even if this morning it’s down on its usual top operating speed 431kmh.  It will deliver them into a city of 36 million people, the sophisticated, vibrant and stylish heart of shipping and finance in China. . . 

Separation of South Island eel stock:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to quota management for eels in the South Island which will see the current single stock split into two – longfin and shortfin eels.

“Longfin eels are more vulnerable to environmental and other factors, compared to shortfin eels. Therefore it’s important to manage the two species as separate stocks with their own catch limits and sustainability settings,” says Mr Guy. 

“It means we can take into account the different characteristics and value of each species when setting limits, and take a more precautionary approach to longfin eels which are more vulnerable. It is also consistent with how eels are managed in the North Island and the Chathams.”   . . 

Agreement will build a stronger future for the golden breed:

Two organisations committed to the Jersey breed are joining forces and expertise to breed even better dairy cows into the future.

The breed society, Jersey New Zealand, and herd improvement company, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), have signed an agreement to work together to jointly select and prove the genetic merit of additional top young Jersey bulls.

The programme will add eight extra bulls to LIC’s current Jersey breeding programme, and will statistically lift the rate of genetic and productive gain for the breed within the industry. . . 

Farm Environment Trust Head Steps Down After Ten Years:

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust general manager David Natzke is stepping down after a decade at the helm of the organisation that administers the highly successful Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust chairman Simon Saunders said Mr Natzke has made a huge contribution to the Trust since his appointment in March 2006.

“Under David’s management the Trust has developed into a highly professional organisation that has grown the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) into one of our primary sector’s premier events.”

Mr Natzke worked with trustees to manage the Awards programme and expand the list of Trust activities. . . 

RBI cell tower completion boosts rural coverage:

Communications Minister Amy Adams today announced the completion of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) Phase 1 new tower programme with 154 new cell towers now built ahead of schedule.

Ms Adams was on site to celebrate the completion of the programme in Waipu, and said that under the RBI, nearly 300,000 rural families and businesses are now able to access high speed 3G and 4G broadband services.

Under original specifications, the fixed wireless broadband service was to provide at least 5Mbps peak download speeds. Recent testing shows the 4G service is delivering speeds nine times faster than originally promised.. . .

Kiwi Farmers plough through the most 4G data:

Spark has found that farmers and the rural sector are consistently the highest users of 4G data across all of New Zealand.

When analysing data traffic over the last month, Spark’s cell towers in both Waiuku and Te Puke show the highest use in all of New Zealand. Farmers and rural residents in these two locations are consistently using over 1 terrabyte of data every week – which is the equivalent of watching 1000 hours (or nearly 42 days!) of non-stop online TV content like Lightbox each week.

Other rural sites including Pukekura, Te Awamutu, Pukekohe and Te Kawa also rank extremely high in 4G data usage, demonstrating that Kiwi farmers are now using mobile technology to enhance their businesses – whether that’s at the farm-gate, on the road or in the paddock. . . 


Friday’s answers

June 3, 2016

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

I’m thoroughly enjoying the diverse themes the questioners are coming up with.

Should they have stumped us all they can claim a virtual Whitestone cheese gift box by leaving the answers below.


The case for irrigation

June 3, 2016

Peter Graham puts the case for irrigation:

Irrigation is not just a question of economic stimulation, increased farm incomes, more jobs, growth of our cities, and creation of wealth (so we can afford to clean up our already degraded rivers and streams). The reason is far simpler. 

Just consider:

  • World food production will need to double in the next 50 years to meet demand.
  • 20% of world’s agricultural land is irrigated to produce 40% of world’s food.
  • By 2030 world fresh water demand will exceed supply by 40%.
  • By 2030 more than 3.5 billion people will live in areas affected by acute water scarcity.
  • Temperature increases and changes in climate patterns are predicted to severely reduce world grain and rice production. 

The world needs more food. New Zealand is blessed by ample rain so water storage, irrigation and land-use intensification is essential. . . 

Irrigation is not just about more and better options for farmers. It’s about producing more food for New Zealand and the world.

But there are barriers:

Water storage is a big-ticket item. The smallest project comes in at around $70 million and larger more than $300 million, excluding on farm costs. Investigating proposal feasibility and proving viability is also costly. Practically, it is hard for the irrigators to fund them and service the debt without outside assistance and/or major increases in food prices. 

Government funding for feasibility studies and funding of schemes as a minority short-term investor is  not sufficient. Obtaining private sector funding and keeping operating costs at an economic level for farmers is also proving difficult on large-scale proposals. 

Expecting local government to be the majority funder in such high cost infrastructure is unrealistic. It is hard to see how infrastructure on this scale can be funded without major government capital investment.   

Food is essential to a stable functioning society and we must look at irrigation as essential public infrastructure. We must consider its benefits in terms of regional development and food production, urban water supply and recreation use, not simply in terms of economics and income generation.  . . 

Irrigation is infrastructure which provides benefits and opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities in the same way for example roads do.

Only central government is in a position to fund projects on the basis of a far longer return on investment period than the private sector. Only government is in a position to target funding at environmental flow and environmental rehabilitation requirements and plan for infrastructure requirements of this scale on a long-term basis. 

If the increasing demand for electricity had not been met by massive post war hydroelectric dam construction, New Zealand would be a very different place. If government hadn’t built infrastructure, New Zealand simply could not have supported post war population growth and the baby boom. The reality is that in New Zealand, very large infrastructure projects require greater government input than is presently available for irrigation projects. 

The regions and rural New Zealand need revitalisation. Environmental rehabilitation of rivers and wetlands and environmental protection of riparian margins needs to be paid for. Public Private Partnerships or suspensory loans, with repayment remitted on meeting of clear targets for job generation, increase of summer river flows, improvements to urban water supply, improvement of water quality and riparian and watershed protection, may be effective in ensuring irrigation schemes are not only economically viable, but that they also deliver wider community and environmental benefits.  

Past mistakes with intensification of farming without farm environment plans have contributed to water degradation. We’ve all learned from that . New water plans and the requirement for farm environment plans will ensure new schemes don’t degrade water quality.

Water storage schemes go further in providing the ability to improve water quality, by for example maintaining minimum flows during droughts.

Waiareka Creek was a series of semi-stagnant ponds before North Otago Irrigation Scheme maintained minimum flows, improving the quality of the water and water life.

Years can be spent going through a resource consent process for a major project at significant cost. As councils develop land and water plans that give clear directions as to how water is to be managed it is becoming easier to determine what is required to make a proposal compliant or able to be consented. Generally, it’s the time and cost of appeals that have been the major issues with the consenting process for irrigation projects. 

The interface between the RMA process and disparate central government processes for the use of the Crown estate needs to be addressed urgently. It is not reasonable to have a project that has gone through a long, intensive and expensive consenting process effectively re-litigated in the context of subsequent objections to use of Crown land or parts of the conservation estate. 

Classes and categories of conservation land need to be clearly established and realistic protection criteria clearly set out. The ability to obtain consent in conjunction with the RMA consent applications being dealt with is essential. This shouldn’t be controversial. 

The rules need to be clear so complying with them is easy and gaining consent less expensive in terms of both time and money.

Our environment and river systems are already highly modified and in many areas degraded.    

We need to deal with future land-use in the context that people will continue to live and work in the environment.  Most of our issues are legacy issues and will cost money to fix.  We need to set realistic standards that invite compliance. 

Most water quality problems now are legacy issues. There is a nitrogen bloom in a river near Nelson caused by a pig farm which closed down 30 years ago.

The requirement for independently audited environmental farm plans and the necessity to comply with council water plans will protect water in the future. Existing problems caused by poor practices in the past must be addressed but that will be expensive and must not be used as an excuse to block new irrigation schemes.

Controls on groundwater discharges and leaching of nitrogen and phosphorus are essential and must be treated sensibly. It is important to determine what a healthy standard is for each river system and what is needed to achieve and maintain it.   

Individual farm environmental plans and detailed records of water use, fertiliser application, and stocking rates is simply part of living in today’s environment, as is development of wetlands and fencing of riparian boundaries.  

However, regulating these plans and records must be achievable and effective. It is one thing to require detailed monitoring and reporting when the output has a real effect on water quality. It quite different to require the same level of on-farm monitoring and reporting when the level of discharges can be monitored and controlled simply by monitoring water quality in the river. 

We need to start looking at water storage and land use intensification as part of the solution and manage the environmental issues appropriately. It’s as simple as that. 

Water storage and land use intensification can with the right rules improve water quality and will contribute to rates and taxes needed to deal with legacy issues.

Irrigation provides opportunities for farmers who choose to make the big investment required on-farm and in the off-farm infrastructure.

But the benefits go far beyond the farm gate:

I live in Napier and I want to see Hawke’s Bay grow and prosper. I want my kids and their friends and my grandkids and their friends to have a future here.

I want to see the Tukituki have strong environmental flows in the summer. I want to see all farms having individual environmental management plans and effective nutrient discharge limits and controls. 

I want to see water managed properly with existing degraded rivers and land areas restored by riparian plantings, development of wetlands and sensible management of areas with high landscape and environmental values. 

I can also live with the inundation of riverbeds and small areas of the DOC estate when the Conservation values of that area are already well represented, or where appropriate mitigation offsets or vesting of land in exchange can be achieved. Everything has its pros and cons but you have to look the big picture and what really matters.   

So, it’s simple really:

  • Councils, who haven’t already done it, need to get their act together with the land and water management requirements in their plans and appropriate discharge and reporting limits.
  • Rules for use of the Crown estate need to be better co-ordinated with RMA consent requirements.
  • Better mechanisms for increased public finding of schemes focussed on clear targets for regional and environmental benefits, as well as increased food production need to be developed, or food costs will skyrocket.

The world needs more of the high quality food New Zealand can produce if more of the water that flows out to see is used for irrigation.

That requires better, clearer rules to reduce the cost of the consent process.

It also needs more public investment in the infrastructure, recognising that the environmental, economic and social returns are widespread and long term.

P.S. The link at the top is to Politik, where you will find the best-reasoned and researched, non-partisan political comment in New Zealand.

You can read one article then you have to subscribe All subscriptions start with a free month long trial then it is $15.99 (Incl GST) per month or $169 (incl GST) for a year.


Quote of the day

June 3, 2016

I was a me-ist. I believed in the right to do whatever I wanted to do regardless of gender. Still do. –  Suzi Quatro who celebrates her 66th birthday today.


June 3 in history

June 3, 2016

350 – Roman usurper Nepotianus, of the Constantinian dynasty, proclaimed himself Roman Emperor.

1140  French scholar Peter Abelard was found guilty of heresy.

1326 Treaty of Novgorod delineated borders between Russia and Norway in Finnmark.

1539 Hernado de Soto claimed Florida for Spain.

1608  Samuel de Champlain completed his third voyage to New France at Tadoussac, Quebec.

1620 Construction of the oldest stone church in French North America, Notre-Dame-des-Anges, began in Quebec City.

1621  The Dutch West India Company received a charter for New Netherlands.

1658  Pope Alexander VII appointed François de Laval vicar apostolic in New France.

1659 David Gregory, Scottish astronomer and mathematician, was born  (d. 1708).

1665  James Stuart, Duke of York (later to become King James II of England) defeated the Dutch Fleet off the coast of Lowestoft.

1770  Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was founded in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

1726 James Hutton, Scottish geologist, was born  (d. 1797).

1800 U.S. President John Adams took up residence in Washington, D.C. (in a tavern because the White House was not yet completed).

1808 Jefferson Davis, American politician and President of the Confederate States of America was born (d. 1889).

1839 Lin Tse-hsü destroyed 1.2 million kg of opium confiscated from British merchants, providing Britain with a casus belli to open hostilities, resulting in the First Opium War.

1861  Battle of Philippi (also called the Philippi Races) – Union forces routed Confederate troops in Barbour County, Virginia in first land battle of the War.

1864 American Civil War: Battle of Cold Harbor – Union forces attacked Confederate troops in Hanover County, Virginia.

1865 George V was born  (d. 1936).

1866  The Fenians were driven out of Fort Erie, Ontario, into the United States.

1885 In the last military engagement fought on Canadian soil Cree leaderBig Bear escaped the North West Mounted Police.

1888 – The poem “Casey at the Bat“, by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, was published in the San Francisco Examiner.

1889  The coast to coast Canadian Pacific Railway was completed.

1889  The first long-distance  electric power transmission line in the United States was completed, running 14 miles between a generator at Willamette Falls and downtown Portland, Oregon.

1916 The Reserve Officer Training Corp, ROTC , was established by the U.S. Congress.

1916 – The National Defense Act was signed into law, increasing the size of the United States National Guard by 450,000 men.

1921 Forbes Carlile, Australian Olympic swimmer and coach, was born.

1924 Jimmy Rogers, American blues guitarist, was born  (d. 1997).

1935 One thousand unemployed Canadian workers boarded freight cars in Vancouver,  beginning a protest trek to Ottawa, Ontario.

1936 Sir Colin “Pine Tree”  Meads, farmer and former All Black, was born.

Colin 'Pinetree' Meads born

1937  The Duke of Windsor married Wallis Simpson.

1940 – World War II: The Battle of Dunkirk ended with a German victory and Allied forces in full retreat.

1947 Mickey Finn, British guitarist and percussionist (T.Rex), was born  (d. 2003).

1950 Suzi Quatro, American musician and actress, was born.

1956 British Railways renamed ‘Third Class’ passenger facilities as ‘Second Class’ (Second Class facilities had been abolished in 1875, leaving just First Class and Third Class).

1962 Susannah Constantine, British fashion guru, was born.

1962  An Air France Boeing 707 charter, Chateau de Sully crashed after an aborted takeoff from Paris, killing 130.

1963  The Buddhist crisis: Soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam attacked protesting Buddhists in Huế,  with liquid chemicals from tear gas grenades, causing 67 people to be hospitalised for blistering of the skin and respiratory ailments.

1963  A Northwest Airlines DC-7 crashed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia, killing 101.

1965  Launch of Gemini 4, the first multi-day space mission by a NASA crew. Crew-member Ed White performed the first American spacewalk.

1968 Valerie Solanas, author of SCUM Manifesto, attempted to assassinate Andy Warhol by shooting him three times.

1969  Melbourne-Evans collision: Off the coast of South Vietnam, the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne cut the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Frank E. Evans in half.

1973  A Soviet supersonic Tupolev Tu-144 crashed near Goussainville  killing 14, the first crash of a supersonic passenger aircraft.

1979  A blowout at the Ixtoc I oil well in the southern Gulf of Mexico caused at least 600,000 tons (176,400,000 gallons) of oil to be spilled into the waters.

1982  The Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov, was shot on a London street. He survived but was permanently paralysed.

1989  The government of China sent troops to force protesters out ofTiananmen Square after seven weeks of occupation.

1989  SkyDome was officially opened in Toronto.

1991 Mount Unzen erupted in Kyūshū, Japan, killing 43 people, all of them either researchers or journalists.

1992 Aboriginal Land Rights were granted in Australia in Mabo v Queensland (1988), a case brought about by Eddie Mabo.

1998  Eschede train disaster: an ICE high speed train derailed in Lower Saxony causing 101 deaths.

2006 The union of Serbia and Montenegro ended with Montenegro’s formal declaration of independence.

2007  USS Carter Hall engaged  pirates after they boarded the Danish ship Danica White off the coast of Somalia.

2012 – A Dana Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83 crashed into a residential neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria, killing 163 people.

2013 – At least 120 people were killed in a fire at a poultry plant in Northeast China.

2013 – The trial of United States Army private Bradley Manning for leaking classified material to WikiLeaks began in Fort Meade, Maryland.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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