366 days of gratitude


The roses have been pruned and all the deciduous trees are leaf-less but a viburnum is flowering and winter sweet is scenting the garden.

Today I’m grateful for little bits of colour and perfume from nature.

Word of the day


Accipiter – a hawk of a group distinguished by short, broad wings and relatively long legs, adapted for fast flight in wooded country; a genus of birds of prey in the family Accipitridae.

Your English vocabulary is:


Your English Vocabulary size is:

★★★ Top 0.01%
You are Shakespeare! You can even create new words that will expand the English dictionary.

Rural round-up


Tool for easy environment planning – Rebecca Harper:

Onfarm environmental planning has just got easier with the launch of a new cloud-based software programme, AgFirst Landbase.

AgFirst consultant Erica van Reenen developed the programme in conjunction with FarmIQ after being asked time and again whether an online tool to help with land and environment planning existed – it didn’t, until now.

Using van Reenen’s knowledge and FarmIQ’s information technology capability was a perfect match. . .

Greenpeace’s deadly war on science – Bjorn Lomborg:

Is Greenpeace committing a crime against humanity?

A letter from 110 Nobel laureates suggests as much. It urges the environmental group to drop its campaign against genetically modified foods, particularly so-called “Golden Rice,” which could help prevent millions of deaths in the developing world.

Calling GMOs food “Frankenfood” is a brilliant scare-mongering term, heavily promoted by Greenpeace. But it has no basis in reality. . . 

Let’s not leave Silver Fern Farms stranded – Stephen Jacks:

As I take time to consider my vote in the upcoming Silver Fern Farms special general meeting on the 50-50 joint venture with Shanghai Maling, my thoughts are around what the future may look like either way.

What we know is that the challenges facing farmers are large.  The challenges of profitably negotiating our way through the physical, climatic, financial and market vagaries appear to be amplified of late.   I don’t envisage the scale of excellence and adaptation required to survive and thrive to diminish anytime soon.

We have a choice before us: To join with Shanghai Maling or not.  . . 

School paddocks nurture future farmers – Rob Tipa:

Senior pupils of Waitaki Boys’ High School’s primary production course see their future in farming, so attending one of the country’s few schools with its own farm is a definite attraction.

Seven out of 10 senior students who spoke to the NZ Farmer were boarders at Waitaki, mostly from sheep and beef farming families from around Fairlie, Methven, Mayfield, Millers Flat and the West Coast.

Waitaki Boys has a proud history and reputation as a fine school but several students said the school farm was a key factor that brought them to boarding school in Oamaru. . .

How we are innovating our way to cheaper land prices – James Pethokoukis:

They aren’t making any more land, at least on this planet. But technology is, in effect, increasing the long-term supply of land. Robert Shiller:

This 20th-century miracle in agricultural science greatly improved crop yields per acre. From the standpoint of farm output, there was no need for new land. This revolution involved the discovery by Fritz Haber of a cheap process to produce ammonia for fertilizer at the beginning of the century and the discovery of new high-yield strains of wheat by Norman E. Borlaug at midcentury. Both men won Nobel Prizes for their work. These innovations permitted multiplication of yields per acre and very likely saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation worldwide. . . 

Leading exporter sets benchmark for food safety and brand protection:

New Zealand’s largest vertically-integrated grower, packer and exporter of twenty-five per cent of this country’s apples has taken a bold step to scientifically guarantee the integrity of its produce.

Mr. Apple has signed a three year contract with Dunedin-based Oritain to combat what has become a proliferation of food fraud in the export industry, and safeguard the security of its supply-chain.

Mr. Apple CEO Andrew van Workum says that having his apples 100% traceable from orchard to store is a lynchpin of the Mr. Apple brand, and adds critical value to the relationship it has with growers, suppliers and consumers. . . 


Reduce rules, change culture


The government has accepted the majority of the recommendations in the “Loopy Rules” report:

Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga today released the Government Response to the Rules Reduction Taskforce (RRT) “Loopy Rules” report.

The Taskforce was set up in 2015 to hear from people about what property related rules and regulations stop them from getting on with the job.

“The Taskforce report published in September 2015 provided a wealth of information about rules that New Zealanders found did not make sense or were inconsistently applied,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

The report identified 75 opportunities to improve the way rules and regulations are developed and implemented at a local level. Of those, the Taskforce highlighted ‘Top Ten Fixes’ that needed action.

“The Government accepts 72 of those opportunities and work is underway across Government to address them,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says. “The Government Response provides detailed analysis of what actions are being taken now and in the future”.

“Customer service was identified by the Taskforce as an issue for many New Zealanders seeking building and resource consents and generally dealing with property related matters. Many of these customer service issues require culture change at local level and we will work with councils to address this,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

“We received valuable feedback from a wide cross-section of New Zealanders. Too many rules and regulations hold our communities back. . . 

The government’s response is here and includes the actions needed to implement top 10 fixes:

Top ten fix #1: Make it easier to get building consents The Taskforce identified building consents as the first of its ‘top ten’ issues. The concerns identified included the speed with which consents are issued, and that the hurdles imposed on minor structures can be disproportionate to the risks involved. The Taskforce considered that submitters would find valuable: progressive building consents; risk-based consenting; a streamlined determinations (dispute resolution) process; and the quick completion of work that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has currently underway to improve building fire upgrade regulations.

3.2. The Government supports all the opportunities identified by the Taskforce to make it easier to get building consents. Unnecessary barriers to consenting should be removed and processes streamlined. A risk-based consenting approach is being explored. The actions underway also include providing councils with guidance about the use of discretion when assessing what work does not need a building consent and the use of staged consents so that structural work can get under way before non-structural work is approved. . .

Top ten fix #2: Get serious about lifting the skills of the building sector The Taskforce considered that the considerable financial risks councils are exposed to through their role as building consent authorities (e.g. from leaky buildings) creates an incentive for them to be risk averse. Council risk aversion is the driver behind many submitters’ complaints such as arguments with designers and builders over, for example, acceptable solutions, as well as detailed and repetitive inspection processes. The long term solution to this suggested by the Taskforce is for the building sector to upskill so that it can eventually carry responsibility for its own work.

3.5. The Government agrees that the capability of the building sector needs development. This is an important objective in its own right. The Government has further increased its investment in the apprenticeship scheme this year, with additional funding announced in Budget 2016. The Government does not consider that the building sector is ready to certify its own work, as there is a great deal of work that needs to take place in the occupational regulation and liability areas before this could happen. Currently no changes are proposed to the ability of the building trades to certify their own work. . .

Top ten fix #3: Make it easier to get resource consents The Taskforce reported that submitters found the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) complex with difficulties in its implementation. Developers, building professionals and the public told of their frustrations in dealing with the complexity of the RMA and the regime of resource consents, district plans, regional plans, national policy statements and national environmental standards.

3.9. Like the Taskforce, the Government is also concerned about the RMA, and has introduced the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. As introduced, the Bill overhauls the RMA to support business growth and housing development while also ensuring more effective environmental management. . .

Top ten fix #4: Reduce the cost of consenting fees The Taskforce considered that building consent fees are too high, reporting that “Property owners object to the size of the combined fees and levies, regarding them as disproportionate to the cost of projects and to the service received”. The Taskforce recommended that building levies be reviewed and capped.

3.13. The Government agrees that building levies should be reviewed. A review will be completed by MBIE in 2016. A decision on whether the levy will be capped will be made after this. . .

Top ten fix #5: Sort out what ‘work safety’ means and how to do it The Taskforce found that submitters were willing to meet their health and safety obligations but were sometimes unsure how to do this.

3.16. The Government supports the Taskforce’s opportunities identified in the health and safety area. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, which has come into force since the Taskforce reported, will help address many of the issues the Taskforce identified. . .

Top ten fix #6: Make it clear what the rules are The Taskforce heard that submitters sought clarity about the rules that they must comply with. In the absence of clarity, myths and misunderstandings can spread.

3.20. The Government agrees that rule clarity is important. Actions have been completed already to give guidance to councils in a number of areas. In the health and safety and building areas improved web content is now available. Understanding the rules is the first step to adherence, and work will be ongoing in this area. . .

Top ten fix #7: Establish a new customer focus for the public sector Lack of a systematic customer-centred culture was a key issue for submitters. The Taskforce heard that people experience confusion and frustration when dealing with councils. The Taskforce also heard of the difficulties councils report when working with government agencies, particularly about how to implement new or amended regulations and standards.

3.23. Customer service is a key ingredient in service quality in both central and local government. As described earlier in this response, the Government considers that the level of customer service that people experience from council staff is primarily a local government responsibility, supported by central government which must provide fit-for-purpose legislative frameworks. This is why the actions below focus on the measures central government agencies will take. . .

Top ten fix #8: Departments should introduce a stakeholder engagement approach to developing local government policies and regulations The Taskforce heard reports that engagement practices of central government agencies were not consistently good. Councils that submitted were particularly concerned about a lack of involvement when central government agencies consider new or amended regulations that would affect them.

3.25. The Government considers that where possible, people should have the opportunity to express their views on proposed rules. The Government has been encouraging departments to adopt better stakeholder approaches by, for example, promoting greater use of exposure drafts of proposed bills and regulations. The exposure draft process is intended to enable stakeholders to provide feedback on proposed bills or regulations, before they are introduced or gazetted. . .

Top ten fix #9: Reform the Local Government Act 1974 and the Reserves Act 1977 The Taskforce identified that the Reserves Act 1977 and the Local Government Act 1974 need updating. Submissions highlighted, for example, that the Reserves Act is outdated; being overly restrictive, creating duplication, and reducing a council’s flexibility to manage reserve land.

3.27. The Government recognises that the Reserves Act 1977 and the Local Government Act 1974 need to be modernised to address frustrations highlighted by the Taskforce. The Government is working to address issues with some of the provisions in the Reserves Act 1977 and is updating guidance for councils to help reduce other problems that have been identified by the Taskforce. . .

Top ten fix #10: Stop making loopy rules The Taskforce considered that improved collaboration between regulators and stakeholders and greater use of the Code of Good Regulatory Practice would benefit the regulatory framework. A more systematic approach to rule-making, including having greater collaboration with stakeholders, will lead to more robust rules.

3.30. The Government strongly supports the Taskforce’s recommendations in this area. It is giving a high priority to the systematic improvement of regulatory processes, with both further improvements to regulatory systems and practice about to be introduced. . .

Loopy rules cause frustration, reduce productivity, and add time and cost to development and complicate life.

Sometimes the rules are the problem, sometimes it’s the interpretation and implementation of them.

Improvement requires fewer rules, better rules and a culture change at both central and local government level.

Quote of the day


Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages, through which we must seek our way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley.
But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately prove good for us. A.J. Cronin who was born on this day in 1896.

July 19 in history


64 – Great Fire of Rome: a fire started in the merchant area of Rome and soon burned completely out of control. According to a popular, but untrue legend, Nero fiddled as the city burned.

484 – Leontius, Roman usurper, was crowned Eastern emperor at Tarsus (modern Turkey). He was recognized in Antioch and made it his capital.

711 Battle of Guadalete: Umayyad forces under Tariq ibn Ziyad defeated the Visigoths led by their king Roderic.

1333  Wars of Scottish Independence: Battle of Halidon Hill – The English won a decisive victory over the Scots.

1544 Italian War of 1542: The Siege of Boulogne began.

1545 The Tudor warship Mary Rose sank off Portsmouth.

1553 Lady Jane Grey was replaced by Mary I of England as Queen of England after  just nine days.

1588 Anglo-Spanish War: Battle of Gravelines – The Spanish Armadasighted in the English Channel.

1692  Salem Witch Trials: Five women were hanged for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts.

1759 Seraphim of Sarov, Russian Orthodox Saint, was born (d. 1833).

1800 Juan José Flores, first President of Ecuador, was born (d. 1864).

1814 Samuel Colt, American firearms inventor, was born (d. 1862).

1827  Mangal Pandey, Indian freedom fighter, was born (d. 1857).

1832 The British Medical Association was founded as the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association by Sir Charles Hastings at a meeting in the Board Room of the Worcester Infirmary.

1834 Edgar Degas, French painter (d. 1917)

1843  Brunel’s steamship the SS Great Britain was launched, becoming the first ocean-going craft with an iron hull or screw propeller and also the largest vessel afloat in the world.

1848 The two day Women’s Rights Convention opened in Seneca Falls, New York and the “Bloomers” were introduced.

1863 American Civil War: Morgan’s Raid – General John Hunt Morgan’s raid into the north was mostly thwarted when a large group of his men were captured while trying to escape across the Ohio River.

1864 Third Battle of Nanking:the Qing Dynasty  defeated the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom.

1865 Charles Horace Mayo, American surgeon and founder of the Mayo Clinic, was born (d. 1939).

1868 – Florence Foster Jenkins, American soprano and educator, was born (d. 1945),

1870 Franco-Prussian War: France declared war on Prussia.

1879 Doc Holliday killed for the first time after a man shot up his New Mexico saloon.

1890 – George II of Greece, was born (d. 1947).

1896 A. J. Cronin, Scottish writer, was born (d. 1981).

1912 A meteorite with an estimated mass of 190 kg exploded over the town of Holbrook, Arizona causing approximately 16,000 pieces of debris to rain down on the town.

1916 Battle of Fromelles: British and Australian troops attacked German trenches in a prelude to the Battle of the Somme.

1919  Following Peace Day celebrations marking the end of World War I, ex-servicemen rioted and burnt down Luton Town Hall.

1921  – Elizabeth Spencer, American novelist, short story writer, and playwright, was born.

1937 George Hamilton IV, American country singer, was born.

1940  World War II: Battle of Cape Spada – The Royal Navy and the Regia Marina clashed; the Italian light cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni sank, with 121 casualties.

1940 World War II: Army order 112 formed the Intelligence Corps of the British Army.

1942  World War II: Battle of the Atlantic – German Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz ordered the last U-boats to withdraw from their United States Atlantic coast positions in response to the effective American convoy system.

1946 Alan Gorrie, Scottish musician (Average White Band), was born.

1947 Brian May, English musician (Queen), was born.

1947 Prime minister of shadow Burma government, Bogyoke Aung San, 6 of his cabinet and 2 non-cabinet members were assassinated by Galon U Saw.

1963  – Garth Nix, Australian author, was born.

1963  Joe Walker flew a North American X-15 to a record altitude of 106,010 metres (347,800 feet) on X-15 Flight 90. Exceeding an altitude of 100 km, this flight qualifies as a human space flight under international convention.

1964 Vietnam War: At a rally in Saigon, South Vietnamese Prime MinisterNguyen Khanh called for expanding the war into North Vietnam.

1970 – Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish lawyer and politician, First Minister of Scotland, was born.

1971 Urs Bühler, Swiss tenor (Il Divo), was born.

1976  Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal was created.

1979 Sandinista rebels overthrew the government of the Somoza family in Nicaragua.

1982 The Privy Council granted New Zealand citizenship to Western Samoans born after 1924. The government challenged this ruling, leading to accusations of betrayal and racism.

Privy Council rules on Samoan citizenship

1983 The first three-dimensional reconstruction of a human head in a CT was published.

1985  The Val di Stava Dam collapsed killing 268 people in Val di Stava, Italy.

1989  United Airlines flight 232 crashed in Sioux City, Iowa killing 112 of the 296 passengers.

1992  Anti-Mafia Judge Paolo Borsellino  and  five police officers were killed by a Mafia car bomb in Palermo.

1997  – The Troubles: The Provisional Irish Republican Army resumed a ceasefire to end their 25-year campaign to end British rule in Northern Ireland.

2014 – Gunmen in Egypt’s western desert province of New Valley Governorate attacked a military checkpoint, killing at least 21 soldiers. Egypt reportedly declared a state of emergency on its border with Sudan.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

%d bloggers like this: