366 days of gratitude


For some snow means fun, for some it means hard work.

While most of us are home and warm, others are outside, looking after stock, making roads safe and restoring power to those who’ve lost it.

Tonight I’m grateful for these workers.

Word of the day


Pathography – a description of diseasethe study of the life of an individual or the history of a community with regard to the influence of a particular disease or psychological disorder;  retrospective study, often by a physician, of the possible influence and effects of disease on the life and work of a historical personage or group; biography that focuses on a person’s illnesses, misfortunes, or failures; life story that focuses on the negative.

Rural round-up


Expansion of Marlborough wine industry depends on finding enough labour and overcoming accommodation shortages – Oliver Lewis:

To grow any further, the Marlborough wine industry needs accommodation and it needs labour. Reporter Oliver Lewis takes a look at the challenge facing the $1 billion industry.

Behind every bottle of Marlborough sauvignon blanc, the wine that put New Zealand on the map, lies the unseen work of thousands of pairs of hands.

From a handful of vineyards in the 1970s to the engine room of the pumping wine export economy, the Marlborough wine industry has transformed the physical and social landscape of the region. . . 

Possum industry works towards its own demise – Gerard Hutching:

For an industry that has been delivered a death sentence by the Government, the possum fur and meat business is showing vigorous signs of life.

The New Zealand Fur Council says possum fur alone is worth $130 million a year and employs about 1500 people. But if National’s recently announced plan to rid the country of possums by 2050 comes true, the industry will go bust.

Some top trappers are earning six figure sums a year for their work, says one Northland fur agent. . . 

Primary ITO seeks new boss :

Mark Jeffries has resigned as chief executive of Primary ITO, the facilitating organisation for training over 30 sectors in agriculture, horticulture, equestrian, seafood, sports turf and food processing.  

He had been in the role for two years and his last day would be Friday, August 19.  

Board chairman Mark Darrow said Jeffries had effectively consolidated the recently merged organisation. . . 

New Zealand plants another million apple trees as Industry Leads the World:

A million more new apple trees are being planted across the country as international demand for New Zealand apples continues to soar, the industry’s leader announced today.

Pipfruit New Zealand’s chief executive Alan Pollard, who is in Nelson for the Horticulture Conference said New Zealand’s world-leading apple industry is transforming into a billion dollar export business.

“All of our growing regions are experiencing increased industry investment. Our apple industry is putting tens and hundreds of millions of dollars back into the local economies of our growing regions with huge spin-offs for local businesses and for growing jobs. . . 

Zespri puts kiwifruit exports to China on hold

Zespri has temporarily halted all kiwifruit exports to its biggest market, China, after fungus was reportedly found in two containers during routine checks.

This comes after Chinese officials warned Zespri last month there could be retaliation if New Zealand investigated claims of steel dumping.

But Zespri general manager of grower and external relations David Courtney told Checkpoint with John Campbell these sorts of issues did crop up from time to time.

He said the fungus had not been found before on New Zealand kiwifruit in China or in any other market, but it had been present on fruit in New Zealand for 20 years. . . 

Washed out road severs rural Hawke’s Bay community from outside world – again – Simon Hendery:

Heavy rain washed out a section of McVicar Rd, off the Napier-Taupo highway north of Te Pohue, on Saturday morning.

The washout cut road access to and from State Highway 5 for several farming families and a holiday park, the Mountain Valley Adventure Lodge, which is located at the end of the road.

The McVicar Rd residents also lost their power and phone lines during the extreme weekend weather, and are among about 300 rural Taupo Plains customers who have been warned they could be without electricity for up to a week. . . 

Parish ponders what to do with its church – Jono Edwards:

Tarras locals may have to buy their community church if they wish to continue using it, as a possible sale looms.

The property, in Church Lane, Tarras, is owned by the Upper Clutha Presbyterian Parish. Since 1958, it has been managed under a joint use agreement by Anglicans and Presbyterians.

In 2014, Presbyterian services ceased as the last active member of the congregation left the area. . . 


First medal – shooting silver


The Olympics opened on Saturday and Natalie Rooney has won New Zealand’s first medal – a silver in the trap shooting.

Rooney had to contend with strong winds and the pressure of a shoot-off just to make the final, but looked serene and capable throughout a long and testing day.

She had her chances in the final, against Australian Catherine Skinner, leading 4-2 and still level-pegging at 5-5, 6-6, 7-7 and 8-8. Finally she faltered and the Australian eased away to win a thriller 12-11. . . 

She comes from Waimate:

Rooney’s silver success is just reward for her dedication to the sport since she was controversially omitted from the London Olympic Games squad in 2012.

The South Canterbury shooter was selected for London but later lost her place when rifle shooter Ryan Taylor successfully appealed against his non-selection.

New Zealand only qualified one shooter in 2012 and Taylor got the nod. . . 

Rooney trains in Europe up to three months at a time with limited official funding. She received a her first grant of $20,000 from High Performance Sport in the December 2015 funding round.

“Obviously my Dad [Gary Rooney] has paid a fair bit of money for my shooting.

“This is a big thanks to him.”

Rooney said she was “very stoked” that she had delivered to make up for the family’s sacrifices.

“I think he’s pretty proud, I can see him in the stand.”

She was thrilled to become New Zealand’s second Olympic shooting medallist.

“Shooting is an awesome sport,” she said. . . 

Rooney told Stuff in April that her omission from the London squad was a blessing because she realised she “was not ready to throw away my lifelong dream of competing at the Olympics”.

“Over the last three or four years I’ve been working incredibly hard on my shooting to make sure that I didn’t suffer the disappointment I did back in 2012.

“I feel I’m a much more consistent shooter now,” she said. . .

There’s been quite a bit of muttering from the commentariat about the Olympics not being interesting, that might change now we’ve got a medal.

Perhaps I’m a contrarian, but I’m more interested in these games than I have been for some years.

That’s helped largely because I know one of the rowers and have followed her career with increasing admiration for the hard work and dedication it’s taken to make the team and her determination to give everything she has in the races.

Sun setting on west?


William Hague thinks the sun may be setting on western wealth and freedom:

. . . In our own lifetimes, by contrast, we have become used to the idea that our western values are successful and that we are as one in making sure of that success.

Since 1945, US presidents have never given up their global leadership, morally or militarily, even though they have varied in effectiveness. Nato triumphed in the Cold War and grew alongside the European Union. The West has retained the greatest centres of innovation, finance, education and culture. Our languages and computer codes have dominated the discourse of the world.

The idea of freedom, we assume, will repel and ultimately overcome any alternative. The information revolution we have spawned will corrode dictatorships and undermine rigid ideologies. Our prosperity will always allow us the technological edge to defend ourselves.

Towards the end of the 20th century with  the Berlin Wall down and the iron curtain torn aside it looked like freedom would prevail, but that optimism was premature.

Yet look more closely, as the smoke clears after each fresh bout of disorder in our present century, and you will find the values and security of the West are in steady retreat. Russia has turned emphatically against liberal democracy, and reinvented brute power in the settling of European borders. Turkey first drifted, and now marches, towards authoritarian rule and the exploitation of the vulnerabilities of western Europe. 

In the Middle East, hopes of freedom have been crushed between arbitrary government and fundamentalist revolt, each feeding off each other in an accelerating cycle that leaves no space for tolerance or debate. And the demographic bulge of that region is about to push new millions of disaffected young men into the arms of religious fanaticism. 

In China, the creation of the world’s biggest middle class and rival biggest economy is not bringing anything that looks like western values. On the contrary, a necessary anti-corruption drive is being accompanied by tight political centralisation, an intensified crackdown on dissent and a much-strengthened emphasis on Marxist ideology. 

If these trends continue, future historians will identify the start of this new millennium as the period when free and open societies faltered and fell back, weakened further by internal divisions and the turning of our own inventions against us. . . 

Improved education, health, and wealth and much easier communication, ought to be making the world a freer and safer place but extremism and protectionism are countering progress.

In whichever direction you look, the autocrats, the dictators, the terrorists and the corrupt and cynical opportunists are fighting back. They are demonstrating daily that the lazy assumption of western triumph may be mistaken. Accordingly, it is time to relearn the lessons of history: that free societies do generally triumph in the end, but they need constant vigilance to protect them, and they often need a mixture of strong leadership, determined unity and a good measure of low cunning to help them along.

The time is coming for leaders and opinion-formers to promote the need for a more unified strategy of the West, before it is too late. 

But let’s not think that although the West is freer it is always right about everything.

An increase in protectionism was one of the causes of the Great Depression; isolationist policies fuel tensions and suspicion and there’s strong pressure for both in Western countries, including New Zealand,  whose politicians ought to have learned from history..

On top of that, increasing antagonism of Russia and China is reigniting the embers of the cold war. That’s a fire that won’t be extinguished by hot heads and we-know-best attitudes.

Quote of the day


I can only tell you that when long soul-searching and a combination of circumstances delivered me of my last prejudices, there was an exalted sense of liberation. It was not the Negro who became free, but I. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings who was born on this day in 1896.

She also said:

A part of the placidity of the South comes from the sense of well-being that follows the heart-and-body-warming consumption of breads fresh from the oven. We serve cold baker’s bread to our enemies, trusting that they will never impose on our hospitality again.

August 8 in history


1220 Sweden  was defeated by Estonian tribes in the Battle of Lihula.

1503  King James IV of Scotland married Margaret Tudor.

1509  The Emperor Krishnadeva Raya was crowned, marking the beginning of the regeneration of the Vijayanagara Empire.

1576  The cornerstone for Tycho Brahe’s Uraniborg observatory was laid on Hven.

1588  Anglo-Spanish War: Battle of Gravelines – The naval engagement ended, ending the Spanish Armada’s attempt to invade England.

1647  Battle of Dungans Hill – English Parliamentary forces defeated Irish forces.

1709  Bartolomeu de Gusmão demonstrated the lifting power of hot air in an audience before the King of Portugal.

1786  Mont Blanc was climbed for the first time by Jacques Balmat and DrMichel-Gabriel Paccard.

1793 The insurrection of Lyon.

1794 Joseph Whidbey and George Vancouver led an expedition to search for the Northwest Passage near Juneau, Alaska.

1870 The Republic of Ploieşti, a failed Radical-Liberal rising against Domnitor Carol of Romania.

1876  Thomas Edison received a patent for his mimeograph.

1879 Bob Smith, American founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was born (d. 1950).

1889 – Jack Ryder, Australian cricketer, was born (d. 1977).

1896 – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, American author and academic, was born (d. 1953).

1908 Wilbur Wright made his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans.

1909 – Charles Lyttelton, 10th Viscount Cobham, English cricketer and politician, 9th Governor-General of New Zealand, was born (d. 1977).

1910  The US Army installed the first tricycle landing gear on the Army’sWright Flyer.

1911 The millionth patent was filed in the United States Patent Office by Francis Holton for a tubeless vehicle tire.

1915 The Wellington Battallion captured Chunuk Bair.

Wellington Battalion captures Chunuk Bair

1918  Battle of Amiens began a string of almost continuous victories with a push through the German front lines (Hundred Days Offensive).

1929 Ronald Biggs, British Great Train robber, was born (d. 2013).

1929  The German airship Graf Zeppelin began a round-the-world flight.

1931  – Roger Penrose, English physicist, mathematician, and philosopher was born.

1932 – Luis García Meza Tejada, Bolivian general and politician, 68th President of Bolivia

1937 Dustin Hoffman, American actor, was born.

1940 The “Aufbau Ost” directive was signed by Wilhelm Keitel.

1942 In Washington, DC, six German would-be saboteurs (Operation Pastorius) were executed.

1942  The Quit India resolution was passed by the Bombay session of the AICC, leading to the start of a civil disobedience movement across India.

1945 The Soviet Union declared war on Japan and began the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.

1946  First flight of the Convair B-36.

1947 Pakistan’s National Flag was approved.

1949  Bhutan became independent.

1950 Ken Kutaragi, Founder of PlayStation, was born.

1961 The Edge, (Favid Evans) Irish guitarist (U2), was born.

1963 Great Train Robbery: a gang of 15 train robbers stole 2.6 million pounds in bank notes.

1967 The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was founded by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

1973 – Kim Dae-Jung, a South Korean politician and later president, waskidnapped.

1974  Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard Nixon announced his resignation, effective the next day.

1980  The Central Hotel Fire, Bundoran , Ireland.

1988  The “8888 Uprising” in Burma.

1989    STS-28 Mission – Space Shuttle Columbia took off on a secret five-day military mission.

1990  Iraq occupied  Kuwait and the state was annexed to Iraq.

1991  The Warsaw radio mast, at one time the tallest construction ever built, collapsed.

1991  John McCarthy, British journalist held hostage in Lebanon for more than five years by Islamic Jihad, was released.

2000  Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor.

2007 An EF2 tornado touched down in Kings County and Richmond County, New York State, the most powerful tornado in New York to date and the first in Brooklyn since 1889.

2010 –  A mudslide in Zhugqu County, Gansu, China, killed more than 1,400 people.

2013 – A suicide bombing at a funeral in the Pakistani city of Quetta killed at least 31 people.

2015 – Eight people were killed in a shooting in Harris County, Texas.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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