366 days of gratitude

July 26, 2016

It’s a first world problem – finding somewhere to plug in computers and chargers when you’re away from home.

If you’re travelling with someone else and both have phones and lap tops or tablets you might need at least four.

Some places have enough in accessible places, some don’t. In one hotel room, the only plugs I could find were behind furniture and in use for the TV and fridge.

When we altered our house a few years ago the electrician asked us how many three-pin plugs we wanted and where we wanted them.

We asked for lots and to have them where they were easy to access.

That’s what we’ve got and as I plugged in both an iPad and mobile phone this evening without having to move from my desk I was reminded that I’m grateful for them.


Word of the day

July 26, 2016

Poon  – a simple,  foolish or ineffectual person; any of several trees (genus Calophyllum) of the East Indies and the Pacific islands; the hard light wood of poon used especially for masts and spars; to put something under the leg of a table to stop it rocking; to dress in such a way as to attract attention, typically with sexual success in view.


Rural round-up

July 26, 2016

Kiwifruit exports reach record levels:

In June 2016, kiwifruit exports rose $105 million (47 percent) from June 2015 to reach $331 million, Statistics New Zealand said today. Overall, goods exports rose $109 million (2.6 percent) in June 2016 (to $4.3 billion).

The June 2016 rise was across all our top kiwifruit export destinations, but particularly Japan (up $55 million) and China (up $39 million). The quantities of kiwifruit exported also rose (up 32 percent), with gold kiwifruit up 49 percent, and green kiwifruit up 21 percent. . . .

New researchers should focus on primary industry:

Federated Farmers wants a plan to attract the world’s top scientists to New Zealand to concentrate on those who will work on primary sector initiatives and the environment.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says it makes sense for the government’s $35 million ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’ programme to build knowledge in areas which are key to New Zealand’s economic and environmental needs.

The four year programme, announced by Minister Steven Joyce on Wednesday, aims to encourage the world’s leading researchers to bring their teams to work in New Zealand.

“This programme will help New Zealand keep up with the scientific developments already going on around the globe. . . 

Feds congratulates government on ambitious pest eradication project:

Federated Farmers fully backs the target to completely eradicate introduced predators from New Zealand by 2050 announced by the government today and agrees with the government that emerging technologies is now making such an ambitious target possible.

This project is going to require a team effort from scientists, farmers, government, politicians and rural communities.

“Our farmers live and work in our natural environment every day and in that sense are stewards of a significant part of New Zealand’s land, says Federated Farmers spokesperson for pest management Chris Allen.

“Farmers already spend a substantial amount of money on pest management. They also pay levies to OSPRI, to control vectors of tuberculosis, such as stoats and possums. . . 

Beekeepers stung by swarm of hive thefts –  Wilhelmina Shrimpton:

Beekeepers are seeking an urgent meeting with police as an increasing number of sticky-fingered thieves make off with beehives across the country.

The most recent incident was in Northland, where around $500,000-worth of hives were stolen from Topuni Forest more than a week ago. 

Some call the honey liquid gold – and for very good reason.

“If you’re getting high-grade manuka honey, the beekeepers can expect to get about $60 a kilogram,” Apiculture New Zealand’s Daniel Paul said. . . 

Profit warning makes Silver Fern Farms’ deal more critical – Allan Barber:

Last week’s profit warning from SFF chairman Rob Hewitt confirmed what industry observers suspected – this season has been affected by a combination of factors which has made achievement of the budgeted profit more remote than ever. At the half year Hewett had already warned the year end result would be materially different from budget without specifying numbers. The latest warning indicates break even at best.

The current season has suffered from reduced livestock volumes, regular rain and grass growth in most parts of the country which even out supply patterns, and an obstinately strong NZ dollar. Processors have been squeezed at both ends, paying too much for livestock and not earning enough from the market. . .

Nervous times at Silver Fern Farms – Keith Woodford:

Silver Fern Farms announced last week to its farmer suppliers that it now expects no more than a breakeven return for the year ending 30 September 2016.  This should focus the minds of its farmer shareholders, who vote on 12 August as to whether or not Silver Fern Farms should proceed with the partial takeover by Shanghai Maling. 

The disappointing projected financial outcome – which could yet get worse – reinforces the notion that Silver Fern Farms lacks the necessary financial resilience to go it alone. There is increasing risk that without completion of the Shanghai Maling buy-in, that Silver Fern Farms will lose the support of its bankers and be placed in receivership. That is not an attractive option, for what has in recent years been New Zealand’s largest meat processor. . . 

UK milk production drops 10% in a year – Alexa Cook:

Many British dairy farmers are getting out of the industry due to plummeting milk prices and production, says a UK dairy analyst.

Farmers are being paid from 10 to 30 pence a litre at a time when most farms need 25 to 30 pence a litre to meet the cost of production.

The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – the British equivalent of DairyNZ – has reported more than 1000 farms have closed since June 2013, leaving about 9500 in operation.

The board’s senior dairy analyst Luke Crossman said milk production had fallen off sharply. . . 

Pea growers work with MPI to rid Wairarapa of weevil pest:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and local pea growers, are planning urgent action to eradicate a small Wairarapa population of a newly discovered weevil that damages pea crops.

The pea weevil (Bruchus pisorum) has been found in pea seeds grown on 8 different Wairarapa properties. It has also been found in 3 seed storage facilities in the region.

The weevil larvae feed on growing pea pods, damaging crops. Its discovery in the Wairarapa has long-term implications for pea production in New Zealand and the pea growing industry is strongly supportive of moves to attempt to get rid of it. . . 

NZDF-Led Projects Boost Drought Resilience of Tongan Communities:

Community projects undertaken by a multi-national task group led by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) are expected to reduce the vulnerability of remote communities to the impact of drought, Tongan officlals say.

The projects, designed to improve water storage in two main islands in Tonga’s Ha’apai island group, were undertaken as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight 2016 and have been formally handed over today to the Tongan Government.

“Tropic Twilight conducted a vast range of activities that will directly improve the resilience of communities in Ha’apai in addressing some water security issues and safety equipment shortages. It was also an opportune time to collaborate with partners to address health issues,” said Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni. . . 

Punakaiki Fund Invests in Agtract:

Taranaki rural job management software Agtract has closed a funding round with high-growth investorPunakaiki Fund.

The Agtract software drastically reduces the time it takes for rural contractors to do management tasks and create invoices, saving them up to a week’s work each month.

“Agtract does the administrative grunt work so rural contractors can do what they do best: helping farmers,” says CEO Chris West, who co-founded Agtract with his brother James after feeling the pain first hand of having to do admin work for a rural contractor.

“I was an employee of a contractor in Taranaki and had to fill in job sheet after job sheet. So much of what I did was repetitive, and even more of what the contractor did could’ve been automated. I created an early software solution, saw that it saved time and money, and realised I was onto a winner. Agtract is the result.” . . .


Third blue electorate needs new MP

July 26, 2016

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson has announced he won’t be seeking re-election next year.

This follows the announcement by Waikato MP Lindsay Tisch that he’ll be retiring next year and East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully’s announcement he won’t contest his seat.

That’s three blue electorates which will be seeking candidates to become new MPs and that’s good for caucus renewal.


NZ predator free by 2050

July 26, 2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced the government’s goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050.

“While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators,” Mr Key says.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them.”

Mr Key says these introduced pests also threaten our economy and primary sector, with their total economic cost estimated at around $3.3 billion a year.

“That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

The Government will lead the effort, by investing an initial $28 million in a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited to drive the programme alongside the private sector.

This funding is on top of the $60 to $80 million already invested in pest control by the government every year and the millions more contributed by local government and the private sector.

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will be responsible for identifying large, high value predator control projects and attracting co-investors to boost their scale and success.

The Government will look to provide funding on a one for two basis – that is for every $2 that local councils and the private sector put in, the Government will contribute another dollar.

“This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government’s commitment to protecting our environment.

“We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself.

“This includes the decision to establish the world’s largest fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, better protection in our territorial sea and our efforts to improve the quality of our fresh waterways.

“We know the goal we have announced today is ambitious but we are ambitious for New Zealand.

“And we know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen.”

This is a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is right when she says it will take a team effort to achieve it.

“New Zealand’s unique native creatures and plants are central to our national identity. They evolved for millions of years in a world without mammals and as a result are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, which kill around 25 million native birds every year,” Ms Barry says. 

“Now is the time for a concerted long-term nationwide effort to rid ourselves of the introduced rats, stoats and possums that have placed so much of our natural heritage in jeopardy.”

Under the strategy the new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says. 

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“New Zealand is a world leader in conservation technology and research,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says. “The Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge. For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding. 

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been suppressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

“These are ambitious targets in themselves, but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together,” Ms Barry says. 

“New Zealanders have rightly taken great pride in our conservation efforts to date. If we harness the strength of everyone who is keen to be involved in this project, I believe we will achieve the vision of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 and make our landscape a safe haven again for our native taonga species.”

 

Predator free in 34 years is a BHAG but Forest and Bird says it’s possible:

“A country free of predators would allow forests, towns and cities to fill with native bird life such as kiwi, kākāriki (parakeets), pīwakawaka (fantails), tīeke (saddleback), kōkako, and kākā. Other species like tuatara, hihi (stichbirds), toutouwai (robins), insects, and native snails would repopulate forests and other wild places,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The objective of a predator free country is one that many environmental groups, large and small, have been tirelessly working towards for a long time. However, Forest & Bird intends to look very closely at the detail of how the Government is planning to roll out their vision. For example, if the proposed Predator Free NZ Ltd. company is set up to deliver this programme, what will the role of the Department of Conservation be?”

“Reversing centuries of misguided predator releases and their ongoing devastating effect on our native species and habitats will take commitment, investment, and collaboration, but is entirely achievable by 2050, with the right resources, experts, and framework in place,” says Mr Hackwell. 

“A predator free country will also be of huge value to public health and our agriculture industries which currently spend many millions every year combating waste, contamination, and disease due to pests like rats and possums.”

We spent five days sailing round the Fiordland coast last year, landing occasionally to see native bush much as it would have been when Captain Cook first saw it in 1773. He would have been greeted by bird song but the bush through which we walked was almost silent.

Human and animal predators decimated the bird population and in too many places pests are still winning the battle against the birds.

The Department of Conservation is making a concerted effort to eradicate pests and re-establish species like the kakapo.

That’s not easy on islands and it is even more difficult on the mainland with possums, stoats, ferrets and rats breeding freely and preying on eggs and young birds.

Predator-free fences around bush have been established in several places but the Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 strategy recognises a lot more needs to be done.

It also needs to be done carefully with regard to the whole food chain. Rats prey on mice which prey on birds’ eggs. Eliminating rats would not be enough if that allowed the mouse population to explode.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of work but it will be worth it if it results in burgeoning bird populations with better public and animal health as a bonus from the eradication of pests which wreak havoc on native flora and fauna, and carry diseases.


Quote of the day

July 26, 2016

I’m under the impression that this notion of decency is disappearing from our society where conflicts are made worse on cinema and on television, where people are nasty and cruel on the Internet and where, in general, everybody seems to be very angry. Dame Helen Mirren who celebrates her 71st birthday today.


July 26 in history

July 26, 2016

657  Battle of Siffin.

811  Battle of Pliska; Byzantine emperor Nicephorus I was slain, his heir Stauracius was seriously wounded.

920 Rout of an alliance of Christian troops from Navarre and Léon against the Muslims at Pamplona.

1309  Henry VII was recognized King of the Romans by Pope Clement V.

1469  Wars of the Roses: Battle of Edgecote Moor – Pitting the forces of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick against those of King Edward IV.

1581 Plakkaat van Verlatinghe (Act of Abjuration). The declaration of independence of the northern Low Countries from the Spanish king, Philip II.

1745  The first recorded women’s cricket match took place near Guildford,.

1758  French and Indian War: Siege of Louisbourg ended with British forces defeating the French and taking control of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

1803 The Surrey Iron Railway, arguably the world’s first public railway, opened in south London.

1822  José de San Martín arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador, to meet Simón Bolívar.

1847 Liberia declared independence.

1856 George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer, Nobel Laureate, was born (d. 1950).

1861 American Civil War: George B. McClellan assumed command of theArmy of the Potomac following a disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run.

1863 – Approximately 25 gold miners died on the Arrow diggings, north-east of Queenstown, as a result of flash floods.

Floods kill 25 miners in Central Otago

1863 American Civil War: Morgan’s Raid ended –  Confederate cavalry leader John Hunt Morgan and 360 of his volunteers were captured by Union forces.

1865 New Zealand’s parliament moved from Auckland to Wellington.

Parliament moves to Wellington

1875  Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist, was born  (d. 1961).

1878 Poet and American West outlaw calling himself “Black Bart” made his last clean getaway when he stole a safe box from a Wells Fargo stagecoach. The empty box was found later with a taunting poem inside.

1882 Premiere of Richard Wagner‘s Parsifal at Bayreuth.

1882 The Republic of Stellaland was founded in Southern Africa.

1887 Publication of the Unua Libro, founding the Esperanto movement.

1890 In Buenos Aires, the Revolución del Parque forced President Juárez Celman’s resignation.

1891  France annexed Tahiti.

1894 Aldous Huxley, English-born author, was born (d. 1963).

1895 Jane Bunford, Britain’s tallest-ever person, was born (d. 1922).

1897  Paul Gallico, American author, was born  (d. 1976).

1908  United States Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte issued an order to immediately staff the Office of the Chief Examiner (later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation).

1909 – Vivian Vance, American actress, was born (d. 1979).

1919 – James Lovelock, English biologist and chemist, was born.

1922 Blake Edwards, American film director, was born.

1925 – Ana María Matute, Spanish author and academic, was born (d. 2014).

1928  Gisborne-born Tom Heeney took on Gene Tunney for the world heavyweight title in front of 46,000 spectators at Yankee Stadium, New York. Although he was defeated, his title bid aroused tremendous interest in both New Zealand and the US.

Kiwi boxer fights for world heavyweight title

1928 Stanley Kubrick, American film director, was born (d. 1999).

1928 – Sally Oppenheim-Barnes, Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes, English politician, was born.

1928  – Bernice Rubens, Welsh author, was born (d. 2004).

1936 Mary Millar, English actress, was born(d. 1998).

1936  The Axis Powers decided to intervene in the Spanish Civil War.

1936  King Edward VIII, in one of his few official duties before he abdicated the throne, officially unveiled the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

1937  End of the Battle of Brunete in the Spanish Civil War.

1939 John Howard, 25th Prime Minister of Australia, was born.

1941 In response to the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the seizure of all Japanese assets in the United States.

1942  – Vladimír Mečiar, Slovak politician, 1st Prime Minister of Slovakia, was born.

1943 Mick Jagger, English singer (The Rolling Stones), was born.

1944  World War II: Soviet army entered Lviv,  liberating it from the Nazis. Only 300 Jewish survivors left, out of 160,000 prior to Nazi occupation.

1944 – The first German V-2 rocket hit Great Britain.

1945 Dame Helen Mirren, English actress, was born.

1945  The Labour Party won the United Kingdom general election of July 5by a landslide, removing Winston Churchill from power.

1945  The Potsdam Declaration was signed.

1945 The US Navy cruiser Indianapolis arrived at Tinian with the warhead for the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

1946 Aloha Airlines began service from Honolulu International Airport.

1947  Cold War: U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act into law creating the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Council.

1948  U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981desegregating the military of the United States.

1949 Roger Taylor, English musician (Queen), was born.

1950 Susan George, English actress, was born.

1952 King Farouk of Egypt abdicated in favor of his son Fuad.

1953 Fidel Castro led an unsuccessful attack on the Moncada Barracks beginning the Cuban Revolution.

1953  Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle ordered an anti-polygamy law enforcement crackdown on residents of Short Creek – the Short Creek Raid.

1956  Following the World Bank’s refusal to fund building the Aswan High Dam, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal sparking international condemnation.

1957  Carlos Castillo Armas, dictator of Guatemala, was assassinated.

1958 Explorer 4 was launched.

1959 Kevin Spacey, American actor, was born.

1963  Syncom 2, the world’s first geosynchronous satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral on a Delta B booster.

1963 – Earthquake in Skopje, Macedonia left 1100 dead

1964 Sandra Bullock, American actress, was born.

1965  Full independence was granted to the Maldives.

1966  Lord Gardiner issued the Practice Statement in the House of Lords stating that the House was not bound to follow its own previous precedent.

1968 Vietnam War: South Vietnamese opposition leader Truong Dinh Dzuwas sentenced to five years hard labour for advocating the formation of a coalition government as a way to move toward an end to the war.

1971   Apollo 15 launched.

1973 Kate Beckinsale, British actress, was born.

1974  Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis formed the country’s first civil government after seven years of military rule.

1975 Formation of a military triumvirate in Portugal.

1977 The National Assembly of Quebec imposed the use of French as the official language of the provincial government.

1989 A federal grand jury indicted Cornell University student Robert T. Morris, Jr. for releasing the Morris worm, the first person to be prosecuted under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

1994 Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordered the removal of Russian troops from Estonia.

1999 Cessation of combat activities after the Kargil War; celebrated asKargil Vijay Diwas in India.

2005   STS-114 Mission – Launch of Discovery, NASA’s first scheduled flight mission after the Columbia Disaster in 2003.

2005  Mumbai received 99.5cm of rain (39.17 inches) within 24 hours, bringing the city to a halt for over 2 days.

2005  Samir Geagea, the Lebanese Forces (LF) leader, was released after spending 11 years in a solitary confinement.

2007 – Shambo, a black cow in Wales that had been adopted by the local Hindu community, was slaughtered due to a bovine tuberculosis infection, causing widespread controversy.

2008 – 56 people were killed and over 200 people were injured in 21 bomb blasts in Ahmedabad bombing in India.

2009 – The militant Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram attacked a police station in Bauchi, leading to reprisals by the Nigeria Police Force and four days of violence across multiple cities.

2013 – A gunman, Pedro Alberto Vargas, killed six people in Hialeah, Florida, and was fatally shot by police.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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