365 days of gratitude

February 13, 2018

Bill English sent me an email this evening.

All other National Party members and supporters would have got one too.

In it he said thank you.

I am grateful for that but even more for his 27 years of service, the sacrifices he and his family made, and the good work he did as both a constituent and a list MP and a Minister.

Today we learned that the government surplus at the end of last year was better than forecast. 

That is due in no small part to Bill’s work through the Global Financial Crisis and the better times that followed.

Unlike one of his predecessors Bill aspired to leave New Zealand a better place for his service. He succeeded and I”m very grateful for that.

 


Word of the day

February 13, 2018

Agamy –  absence, nonregulation, or nonrecognition of marriage; the absence of a rule dictating marriage choices within a social group;   abstention from marriage, or rejection or non-recognition of the requirement of marriage in the relation of the sexes; the state or condition of being unmarried.


Thanks Bill

February 13, 2018

National Party leader, Bill English has announced his resignation.

I am sorry for the party and New Zealand but pleased for him and his family. He will now have a private life and the opportunity to use his many talents in other ways.

I became active in the National Party around the time Bill became an MP.

From the start I admired his intellect, his sense of humour and his genuine desire to do the best for New Zealand and its people.

His detractors will always hold the 2001 election defeat against him.

I prefer to concentrate of the way he, in his own words, got up again.

He remained loyal to the party and showed caucus a loyalty he hadn’t enjoyed from many of them. He kept his head down and directed his attention and intellect to understanding the challenges facing the country then determined how best to get long term solutions to many of them.

I was delighted when he succeeded John Key as party leader and Prime Minister. I knew that when the warmth and wit that he showed away from the television cameras came through people would warm to him, as they did.

To get nearly 45% support at the end of three terms in government was a huge achievement.

The people didn’t reject Bill and the party, Winston Peters did and that’s the reality of MMP.

That the Labour Party still couldn’t pass National’s support in the first poll this year shows many people still back the man and the party.

He can leave with his head held high in the knowledge New Zealand is in a much better state than it was when he first entered parliament and that much of the improvement is due to his work and his policies.

Thank you Bill. You’ve earned your retirement for politics and success in whatever comes next.

 


Rural round-up

February 13, 2018

Crown Forestry offering farmers deal to plant pines – Andrew McRae:

Crown Forestry is chasing unproductive farmland suitable for commercial planting of pinus radiata to help it meet the government’s one billion trees program.

The 10-year target will require new planting to cover 500,000 hectares.

Farmers and other landowners with at least 200ha to spare are being asked by Crown Forestry, a business unit of the Ministry for Primary Industries, to consider the offer.

Land owners are being offered a lease or joint-venture option with Crown Forestry paying all establishment and management costs, paying rent to the land owner and allowing any carbon credits to be retained.

The land would need to pass a few other tests, such as being reasonably fertile, have easy access and be identified as suitable for production forestry. . . 

Champion pair marching towards the Golden Shears:

Reigning Golden Shears champions Rowland Smith and Joel Henare loom as possibly the hottest favourites to win again this year after dominating the major events at the 58th Otago Shearing and woolhandling championships in Balclutha.

The two young dads have each been competing in the top class since their teens, and in The Balclutha Memorial Town Hall on Saturday 31-year-old Smith blitzed even reigning World champion and New Zealand teammate John Kirkpatrick to win the Otago Open shearing title and head New Zealand to a test-match win over Wales, while Henare, 26, won both the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year and Southern Circuit woolhandling titles.

Smith’s Otago championships was his 8th in a row in the four weeks since his last blemish, when he failed to qualify for the final at the Tauranga show on January 14. But he’s had 31 wins in finals in a row in New Zealand since he was fourth at the Rotorua A and P Show in January last year. . . 

Ship and cargo causing a helluva stink for farmers:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to hold firm on a shipment which has been previously turned away from the Ports of Auckland.

The vessel, carrying motor vehicles from Japan, was deemed a biosecurity risk after the discovery of over 100 brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB).

As no port in New Zealand has the capacity to fumigate the ship, it has been subsequently re-routed to Australia.

“That ship and its cargo should not be allowed anywhere near our shoreline until we have assurances that it is comprehensively fumigated with all the marmorated stink bugs destroyed,” says Guy Wigley, Federated Farmers’ Biosecurity Spokesperson. . . 

Rural Life reporter made Youth Ambassador :

Southern Rural Life journalist Nicole Sharp is the Southland A&P Show’s John Robins Youth Ambassador for 2018.

The John Robins Youth Ambassador is awarded each year in the memory of the late John Robins, who was  passionate about getting young people involved with the Southland A&P Show.

Miss Sharp was presented with the award by Mr Robins’ wife Joyce, at a function at Ascot Park Hotel, Invercargill,  on Sunday, commemorating 150 years of the A&P show.

The John Robins Youth Ambassador position was established as a way of encouraging youth to become involved in the show. . . 

Choosing technology to enhance sustainability – Terry Wanzek:

I choose to grow genetically modified crops on my farm for a simple reason: sustainability.

These products of modern science make me more economically and environmentally sustainable, allowing me to grow more food on less land, benefitting my family, consumers, and the wider world.

My 84-year-old father helps me put things in perspective. He worked this land before my brother and I did, teaching us the value of hard work and the art of agriculture.

Back in his heyday, he mostly grew wheat.  Today’s biotechnology has allowed us to expand our crop choices to more corn and soybeans, along with wheat.  My father was delighted when an acre produced 80 bushels of corn. Today, that would be an economic calamity – worse than letting the land lie fallow. We like to see an acre produce at least 150 bushels, are pleased when it hits 170, and always hope for more. . . 

https://twitter.com/FAOKnowledge/status/961725791787773952

Hundreds turn up to sheep milking events:

New Zealand’s dairy sheep industry took a big step forward when a major investment in genetic improvement and farm system development was formally launched at Waikino Station on the western shores of Lake Taupo. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by dozens of potential investors and distributors from overseas, and a farmer open day attracted 300, including rural bankers and accountants.

The investment has been made by the Chinese partner in the Maui Milk joint venture with local dairy sheep pioneers, the Waituhi Kuratau Trust, whose farm also borders the lake. The JV has milked 3000 ewes on that property since 2015 and lessons learned are being implemented in the green-field development at Waikino Station which adds another 2000 ewes to the tally. . . 


No mention of elephants in homeless room

February 13, 2018

The report on homelessness shows the problem is getting worse.

. . .Co-author Alan Johnson says the data shows how far behind we are when it comes to building homes.

“The current position around homelessness and people with temporary and unsatisfactory housing is that it appears to have got gradually worse.

“In terms of the population growth we’ve seen in New Zealand and particularly in Auckland over the last three years, we just haven’t built enough houses to accommodate that growth.

“That’s one of the biggest causes of what we’re seeing now literally on the streets of New Zealand.

“Part of the problem, then, is that it will take some time to resolve that.”

The report considers homelessness, the rental market, housing affordability and housing supply around the country, with an in-depth focus on Auckland. . . 

What the report doesn’t consider is two of the causes of the problem – family dysfunction and community living for the mentally ill.

When a marriage or relationship breaks up a family which lived in one house then needs two.

Relationship breakdowns happen for many reasons. When there are irreconcilable differences and/or problems such as violence and addiction a break up can be the only solution  and children can be better with two parents living happily separately than unhappily together.

But no matter how justifiable a break-up is, a family needing two homes contributes to the housing shortage.

Then there are young people whose parent or parents can’t, or won’t, have them at home.

The reasons for that can be complex too but whatever they are, the result is too often young people with no family home to go to and without resources to make one of their own.

Another contributor to homelessness is deinstitutionalisation of people with mental illnesses . In writing about the mental health inquiry Karl du Fresne says:

. . .My prediction is that activists will do their best to ensure that the inquiry focuses on the supposed “drivers” of mental illness. These will include poverty, racism, colonisation, homelessness and homophobia. In other words, they will want to make it all about victims.

No one will want to talk about the virtues of the old “asylums”, because the word is deeply unfashionable. But they were given that name for a reason. An asylum is a place that provides sanctuary. That’s why we talk about political prisoners seeking asylum and asylum-seekers who have fled from unsafe countries.

An asylum was a place where the mentally ill were guaranteed a warm bed, three meals a day, medical care and company, if they wanted it. There were nurses to ensure they took their medication. It wasn’t an ideal existence, but it was safe and secure.

In the 1980s, however, mental health professionals decided the system was inhumane. Hospitalisation was little better than imprisonment, they argued. The mentally ill were entitled like everyone else to live independently and autonomously.

Wrapped in the warm embrace of that amorphous thing called the community, they would be liberated to fulfil their true potential as human beings.

It didn’t seem to matter if they were incapable of cooking, shopping, managing their finances, holding down a job, washing their clothes or showering. And so they ended up living in squalid flats, boarding houses and caravan parks where there was no one to ensure they took their meds. At best, a nurse or mental health worker might check on them occasionally.

It was an ideologically driven change, but the government bean-counters and deconstructionists liked it because it meant the closure of all those big, expensive old institutions.

Doubtless this bold experiment worked for some people, but its negative consequences can be seen in frequent heart-breaking newspaper reports about acutely ill patients living in the community who have committed murder or suicide. . . 

Institutions weren’t perfect. People who with the right help are living much better lives in the community are better off without them.

But some people can’t cope in the community and far too many of them are homeless because of that.

Homelessness is a driver of mental illness and the reverse is also true – mental health is a driver of homelessness so is family dysfunction.

They are the elephants in the homeless room and neither will be solved by building more houses.

 


Quote of the day

February 13, 2018

You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done. –  Chuck Yeager who celebrates his 95th birthday today.


February 13 in history

February 13, 2018

711 BC Emperor Jimmu, Japanese emperor, was born (d. 585 DC).

1322 – The central tower of Ely Cathedral fell on the night of 12th-13th.

1462 – The Treaty of Westminster was finalised between Edward IV of England and the Scottish Lord of the Isles.

1503 Disfida di Barletta challenge between 13 Italian and 13 French knights near Barletta.

1542 – Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VII , was executed for adultery.

1575 Henry III of France was crowned at Rheims and married Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont on the same day.

1633 Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome for his trial before the Inquisition.

1668 Spain recognised Portugal as an independent nation.

1689 William and Mary were proclaimed co-rulers of England.

1692 Massacre of Glencoe: About 78 Macdonalds at were killed early in the morning for not promptly pledging allegiance to the new king, William of Orange.

1728 John Hunter, Scottish surgeon, was born (d. 1793).

1743 Joseph Banks, English botanist and naturalist, was born (d. 1820).

1766 – Thomas Robert Malthus, English economist and scholar, was born (d. 1834).

1815 The Cambridge Union Society was founded.

1835 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, was born ( d 1908).

1849 Lord Randolph Churchill, British statesman, was born (d. 1895).

1869 A Ngati Maniapoto war party led by Wetere Te Rerenga attacked Pukearuhe. They killed  Lieutenant Gascoigne, his wife and three children and a Wesleyan missionary John Whiteley.

Killings at Pukearuhe

1880 Work began on the covering of the Zenne, burying Brussels’s primary river and creating the modern central boulevards.

1880 – Thomas Edison observed the Edison effect.

1881 The feminist newspaper La Citoyenne was first published in Paris by the activist Hubertine Auclert.

1891 Kate Roberts, Welsh nationalist and writer, was born (d. 1985).

1894 Auguste and Louis Lumière patented the Cinematographe, a combination movie camera and projector.

1910 – William Shockley, English-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate, was born (d. 1989).

1914 The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers was established to protect the copyrighted musical compositions of its members.

1920 The Negro National League was formed.

1923 – Chuck Yeager, American general and pilot; first test pilot to break the sound barrier, was born.

1933 – Paul Biya, Cameroon politician, 2nd President of Cameroon, was born.

1934 The Soviet steamship Cheliuskin sank in the Arctic Ocean.

1942 Peter Tork, American musician and actor (The Monkees), was born.

1944 Jerry Springer, American television host, was born.

1945 The siege of Budapest concluded with the unconditional surrender of German and Hungarian forces to the Red Army.

1945 World War II: Royal Air Force bombers were dispatched to Dresden to attack the city with a massive aerial bombardment.

1947 – Kevin Bloody Wilson, Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist, was born.

1950 Peter Gabriel, English musician (Genesis), composer and humanitarian, was born.

1955 Israel obtained 4 of the 7 Dead Sea scrolls.

1960 With the success of a nuclear test codenamed “Gerboise Bleue“, France became the fourth country to possess nuclear weapons.

1960 Black college students staged the first of the Nashville sit-ins at three lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee.

1967 American researchers discovered the Madrid Codices by Leonardo da Vinci in the National Library of Spain.

1970 Black Sabbath, arguably the first heavy metal album, was released.

1978 Hilton bombing: a bomb exploded in a refuse truck outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, killing two refuse collectors and a policeman.

1979 An intense windstorm struck western Washington and sank a 1/2-mile-long section of the Hood Canal Bridge.

1982  Río Negro massacre in Guatemala.

1981 A series of sewer explosions destroyed more than two miles of streets in Louisville, Kentucky.

1983 – Lance Cairns hit six sixes at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Lance Cairns hits six sixes at Melbourne Cricket Ground

1986 – Hamish Bond, New Zealand rower, was born.

Hamish Bond (5178202777).jpg

1984 Konstantin Chernenko succeeded the late Yuri Andropov as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1990 German reunification: An agreement was reached on a two-stage plan to reunite Germany.

1991 Gulf War: Two laser-guided “smart bombs” destroyed the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad.

2000 The last original “Peanuts” comic strip appeared in newspapers one day after Charles M. Schulz died.

Peanuts gang.png

2001 An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter Scale hit El Salvador, killing at least 400.

2004 The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced the discovery of the universe’s largest known diamond white dwarf star BPM 37093. Astronomers named this star “Lucy” after The Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.

2008 Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an historic apology to theIndigenous Australians and the Stolen Generations.

2011 – For the first time in more than 100 years the Umatilla, an American Indian tribe, were able to hunt and harvest a bison just outside Yellowstone National Park, restoring a centuries-old tradition guaranteed by a treaty signed in 1855.

2012 – The European Space Agency (ESA) conducted the first launch of the European Vega rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

2013  – A plane crash killed five people and injured nine others in Donetsk, Ukraine.

2017 – Kim Jong-nam was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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