366 days of gratitude

August 31, 2016

The street where I lived as a child goes off the main road I take to get to and from town.

It’s only a short detour to go past the house my father built in his spare time and which was the family home for more than 40 years.

I took the detour today and found the camellia my mother planted is in full bloom.

It brought back lots of happy memories and reminded me that lots of things we do outlive us – whether it’s physically with for example something we plant, or in the memories of those who love us – and for that I’m grateful.


Word of the day

August 31, 2016

Moil – work hard, toil; churn; move around in confusion or agitation; make wet or muddy; hard work; confusion, turmoil.


Rural round-up

August 31, 2016

Why the green, green grass of home is simply the best – John Roche, Kevin Macdonald:

New Zealand’s grazing system was once considered “the eighth wonder of the world”.

In the 1970s and 80s, a team at Ruakura led by Dr Arnold Bryant undertook grazing experiments that were to revolutionise the way pasture was managed through winter and spring.

The system matched herd demand through assigning the correct calving date and stocking rate with a store of pasture (ie cover at calving) and crop and an assumed winter growth rate. . . 

Westland ups season forecast payout:

New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative Westland Milk Products today announced a 20 cent increase in its forecast 2016-17 season payout.

The company’s forecast average operating surplus has increased to $4.75 – $5.15 per kgMS while the average cash payout range has increased to $4.55 – $4.95 per kgMS.

Chairman Matt O’Regan says this is a result of a recent uplift in international dairy prices for the range of products Westland produces, along with positive August GDT auction results. . . 

Population of honey bees is growing fast:

New Zealand’s honey bee population is growing rapidly, despite recent reports of its decline, according to Apiculture New Zealand.

The industry body was responding to comments from Lincoln University that give the impression that honey bees are under threat in New Zealand.

The university said New Zealand agriculture stands to lose between $295 and $728 million each year if the local honeybee population continues its ‘current decline’.

“I’m pleased to say that hive numbers are growing rapidly,” said ApiNZ chief executive, Daniel Paul. . . 

Wild bees set to save our honey industry from varroa mite – but they need your help  – Jamie Small:

Plant & Food Research is asking for public help to locate colonies of feral bees, as groundbreaking evidence suggests they may save our honey industry from the devastating varroa mite.

Bee numbers in New Zealand are growing – bucking the international trend – thanks to human intervention controlling varroa, says Dr Mark Goodwin, who leads the organisation’s apiculture and pollination team.

The high price and demand for manuka honey is encouraging apiaries to expand in the face of the colony-killing mite and other threats. . . 

Buyers caught napping by potential milk production decine – Gerard Hutching:

A milk futures broker says whole milk powder buyers have been “caught napping” by a potential shortfall in the product, explaining why the price has risen 28.8 per cent at the last two global dairy auctions.

Director of OM Financial Nigel Brunel said the price hike had been “staggering” and taken everyone by surprise.

“Buyers haven’t been able to source WMP at the right price and have been concerned that New Zealand supply could be well down this season. They have been caught napping in a sleepy sideways WMP market for almost a year,” Brunel said.

As a result the buyers had climbed over each other to source WMP and lifted the price. . . 

New appointment to FSANZ Board:

Jane Lancaster has been appointed to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Board, Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew announced today. Ms Lancaster’s term began on 1 July 2016.

“Ms Lancaster will make a valuable contribution to the FSANZ Board with her background in food science, biotechnology, and strong governance experience. In particular, she has professional experience in food safety, food regulation, and the food industry,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Ms Lancaster replaces Neil Walker, whose second term on the FSANZ Board expires on 30 June 2016. Mr Walker’s extensive knowledge has been highly valued by both myself and the FSANZ Board over this time.” . . 

Environmental impacts come first in EPA insecticide decision:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has declined an application to import an insecticide to control pests on onion and potato crops.

The insecticide Grizly Max contains the active ingredients imidacloprid, novaluron and bifenthrin. These active ingredients are already approved for use in New Zealand, but not in a single formulation. The proposed application rate for the neonicotinoid imidacloprid was much higher than other insecticides already available in New Zealand.

At a 19 July hearing, the applicant, Agronica New Zealand Ltd, noted that Grizly Max had proved to be effective against target pests. . . 

New Appointment to Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team:

Quentin Lowcay, General Counsel and Commercial Manager, has joined Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team.

Since joining Synlait in 2013, Quentin’s role has grown to advise the SLT and Board on legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters (particularly customer and supplier relationships). . .

New Zealand King Salmon confirms intention to undertake an IPO:

There may soon be an opportunity for Kiwi investors to own a stake in New Zealand’s estimated $180 million salmon industry.

The world’s largest aquaculture producer of King salmon, New Zealand King Salmon Investments Limited, has today (29 August) confirmed its intention to undertake an initial public offering of shares in New Zealand and a listing on the NZX Main Board and ASX. The proceeds of the offer will be used to repay debt, fund future investment and working capital, and to enable investor Direct Capital and some other shareholders to realise some or all of their investment. . . 

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Rockburn releases limited edition Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir & Rosé:

Rockburn’s Stolen Kiss Rosé enjoys a cult following around country for a couple of years now and the boutique producer from Cromwell now added another way to enjoy the “fruity and saucy side” of Central Otago Pinot Noir with the launch of their limited edition Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir.

Stolen Kiss wines are made from grapes ‘stolen’ from Rockburn’s best Central Otago Pinot Noir. The name alone evokes images of summertime rolling-in-the-clover frivolity and romance. . . 

Substantial Hawke’s Bay winery operation goes on the market for sale:

One of Hawke’s Bay’s best known vertically-integrated wine operations – featuring multiple vineyards, the winery plant and cellar door retail sales outlet – has been placed on the market for sale.

The assets are run under the Crossroads brand – owned by Yealands Estate Wines. The Crossroad’s vineyard and operations being sold encompass three separate vineyards in the bay, along with a plant capable of pressing more than 700 tonnes of grapes and storing the resulting juice in 59 tanks, and a cellar door retail premises which attracts more than 5000 visitors annually.

The Crossroads brand, business and existing stock in bottles, barrels, and tanks, are not part of the sale. . . 


Remind me why we own this?

August 31, 2016

Landcorp has reported an operating loss of $9.4 million for the year to June.

The result compared with a $4.9 million operating profit the previous year, itself an 84 percent decline on the previous year.

Statutory profit was $11.5 million, reflecting the one-off receipt of $7.4 million from land sales and unrealised “revaluation movements on items such as livestock, farm properties and financial assets, e.g. co-operative shares”, a spokesman for the company said.

“It’s been a tough year for the entire dairy sector, so our result is solid in that context,” said chief executive Steve Carden. “The result would have been lower without the progress already being made to strengthen our farming systems” and its high value Pamu product range. . . 

The loss isn’t unexpected with dairy prices so low and sheep meat having had a pretty ordinary year but remind me again why we own this company?

Landcorp owns or leases  376,942 hectares of land. Its 140 farms and 1.6 million stock units makes it New Zealand’s largest farming operation.

It has a good reputation for staff management and training, animal welfare, genetics, other farming practices and environmental sustainability.

But does that justify state ownership of the company when its total asset value in its half year report to December 2015 was $1,846.4m?

There is a case for the crown owning land to use for treaty settlements.

There’s also a very strong case for reducing that huge investment in Landcorp by gradually selling farms to free-up money to spend it where the need for, and value from, investing it are greater.

That won’t happen.

All the parties on the left are philosophically wedded to the idea of state ownership even though the government, investors and taxpayers are all better off after other partial privatisations.

National is philosophically supportive of the idea but good philosophy and policy are sometimes bad politics and it has other priorities on which to concentrate.

Why do we still own the company? Politics.


What to look for in councillor

August 31, 2016

Annette Main, mayor of Whanganui, isn’t seeking re-election.

She wrote a Facebook post giving her views on what to look for in those seeking your vote:

Avoid those who use ‘I ‘ constantly.
Avoid those who don’t listen.
Avoid those who continually tell you what they have achieved , even if it has no relevance to the role they are seeking.
Avoid those who attack others views, rather than articulate theirs.
Avoid those who are standing on one issue.
Avoid those who don’t answer the simple question you ask.

Instead ….
Talk to those who sound passionate about where they live and want to make it better.
Ask them why they really want to give up their time to work on your behalf.
Ask them what they know about the Local Government Act .
Ask them about their responsibilities to the Treaty
Ask them how they can help Whanganui work for all of us.

The answers they give will hopefully provide you with the confidence you need to make your decision before October 8th.
Please vote, please vote wisely, and encourage everyone you know to think about the place we live and who we want making the decisions which guide our future.

This is good advice, wherever you live and whether the candidates are standing for local or central government.


‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly

August 31, 2016

All I want is a seat somewhere/ I don’t care if it’s there or here/ Epsom, Roskill/I could if voters will/ ‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly?

Michael Wood stood for Labour in Epsom at the last election with no hope of winning the seat.

A lot of would-be MPs do that. It shows the party they’re committed and is good practice for if or when they’re given a chance in a seat they could win.

He’s now been selected as the Labour candidate for Mt Roskill to succeed Phil Goff  either if he wins the Auckland Mayoralty or when he retires at the next election.

It is expected to be a tight race. National won the party vote in the electorate at the last election and will have a strong candidate in list MP Parmjeet Parmar.

Enter the Green Party stage left.

The party could be prepared to do a deal with Labour and not stand a candidate.

That’s were it gets a bit whiffy because both those parties have lost no opportunity to criticise what they call ‘dirty deals’ in other seats, including Epsom about which Wood said in 2014:

“We are calling for a straight contest and an end to the dodgy deals.”

. . . In fact he went as far as bringing a bag of flour along to debates to replace National candidate Paul Goldsmith who stepped aside to make way for ACT’s David Seymour.

“Every time that Paul Goldsmith fails to front in this campaign, we’re going to remind people about the dirty deal with this bag of wholemeal flour,” Wood said on The Nation’s Epsom debate. . .

He told The Nation that voters were sick of dirty deals. . . .

It won’t be easy for Wood – he needs the “dirty deal” he once supposedly despised.

My question is who is bringing the bag of Quinoa to debates to stand in for the Greens?

The Green candidate got 1682 votes at the last election. Even some of those could make the difference in a tight race.

Wood could well find himself falling off his high horse on what he used to think were ‘dirty deals’ if it’s going to give him a leg-up to the seat.


Quote of the day

August 31, 2016

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war. Maria Montessori who was born on this day in 1870.

She also said:

The social relations which are the basis of the reproduction of the species are founded upon the continuous union of parents in marriage.

And:

All the movements of our body are not merely those dictated by impulse or weariness; they are the correct expression of what we consider decorous. Without impulses, we could take no part in social life; on the other hand, without inhibitions, we could not correct, direct, and utilize our impulses.

And:

All work is noble; the only ignoble thing is to live without working. There is need to realize the value of work in all its forms whether manual or intellectual, to be called ‘mate,’ to have sympathetic understanding of all forms of activity.

And:

Moral Education is the source of that spiritual equilibrium on which everything else depends and which may be compared to that physical equilibrium or sense of balance, without which it is impossible to stand upright or to move into any other position.


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