365 days of gratitude


”Would you like a hug?”

That’s a question that a professional man these days might hesitate to ask.

Today I’m grateful that there are still men who understand the therapeutic value of a hug and are willing to ask if one is wanted.

Word of the day


Celebrification – the introduction of celebrity as a factor in a field or discipline; the transformation of ordinary people and public figures into celebrities.

Hat tip: Fran O’Sullivan

Mark Mitchell’s maiden speech


Rodney MP Mark Mitchell is standing for leader of the National Party.

I posted the maiden speeches of the other three candidates on Saturday.

Here is Mark’s:

MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) : I stand before you today filled with pride at being given the opportunity by the people of Rodney to represent them in this, our 50th Parliament, and I am honoured to be addressing the House for the first time. Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your reappointment to the high office of Speaker. You have already been recognised across this House for your sound judgment and fairness, and I look forward to being under your guidance in this Chamber.

Mr Speaker, you have been Minister of Education, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Tourism, and Minister for International Trade during your career, and oversaw the producer board reform that ultimately led to the creation of Fonterra and Zespri Group Ltd. You launched our successful “100% Pure” marketing campaign, which was a global success. But perhaps most important, you were the original instigator of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. You are also renowned for your singing voice, and your annual concert in Rodney is an event constituents look forward to every year. I have made a commitment to continue with this concert, and although I feel my own voice is pretty good I have been assured by those closest to me that I need to find another way of keeping that tradition alive.

I live in Ōrewa, in the heart of the Rodney electorate. Rodney is a wonderful part of New Zealand, stretching from Albany Heights, Wainui, and Dairy Flat in the south, to Warkworth, Matakana, and Leigh in the north. We have been blessed with the beautiful Hibiscus and Kowhai coasts, stunning regional parks like Shakespear Regional Park, Wenderholm, and Mahurangi, and we are home to two marine reserves, one of which, Goat Island, was the first in New Zealand. The new Northern Motorway has brought Auckland closer to Rodney, and our towns in the south of the electorate are experiencing strong growth while still retaining their unique character. Further north, our communities are more rural. Some have become famous, like Pūhoi for its pub and cheese factory, or Waiwera for its geothermal hot pools. We have the charm and history of Warkworth, world-class wine trails, great schools, strong communities, and a real pride in our beautiful part of New Zealand.

However, there are challenges ahead and I am focused on finding solutions that will allow us to develop our infrastructure and services in step with our population growth. This includes the Pūhoi to Wellsford motorway extension and the Penlink development, and I will work hard on common-sense policies and legislation that will encourage investment and growth in our local businesses and economy.

I would like to acknowledge my superb campaign team, who worked incredibly hard, who did the basics superbly, combined with innovative ideas, and really took the campaign to our opponents. I know many of you are gathered around the TV today in Warkworth and Ōrewa, and although I cannot mention everyone, you know that our result was a testament to your drive, passion, and belief in the National Party values and vision for a brighter future. I would like to make special mention of our electorate chair, Jennie Georgetti, and campaign chair, John Evans. Your determination and will were contagious. Thanks also to our regional executive, Alan Towers and Stephen McElrea. Stephen, your solid, dependable advice and guidance was of great assistance to a new candidate. Thanks to our National campaign team who provided a steady rudder and reliable compass to us all, and to president Peter Goodfellow and our board of directors for your support, guidance and counsel.

I was born on the North Shore of Auckland and spent my first years living on the Whenuapai Airbase. My dad was a flight lieutenant, flying Orions in No. 3 squadron. My mum was the daughter of the base commander, Air Commodore Frank Gill—my grandfather—who was also the National Party MP for East Coast Bays, Minister of Health, and Minister of Defence, and our New Zealand Ambassador to Washington. Dad managed to catch the eye of my mum at a base dance and the rest, as they say, is history.

One of the great lessons I learnt early from my dad was about not giving up. When the inaugural Auckland Star Takapuna to Rangitoto race was cancelled due to bad weather, Dad decided to make the swim anyway. He battled strong winds and swells to complete a difficult swim. He won the race and set the best time. Being the only competitor did not matter. Because my mum was the daughter of a career air force officer and spent her childhood on different postings around the world, when she was finally able to settle in one place she nested. There were four of us kids, but our house was always filled with orphans whom Mum would take under her wing. I learnt early that not everyone is born into a loving, caring home, and that when we can help, we should.

I am from Irish Catholic, English, and Canadian stock, with my ancestors arriving in New Zealand from 1860 through to 1919. I was educated at Rosmini College in Auckland, a Catholic school, whose motto is “Legis plenitudo charitas”—charity fulfils the law. A Google search of social justice will result in the name of Father Antonio Rosmini, the original founder of the school. I am a strong advocate of social justice. However, I reject claims that social justice and conservatism are exclusive of one another. On leaving school I went farming in the central North Island. I was lucky enough to be given my first job by Gary Ramsay, who is here today in the gallery. Farming taught me what long hours of hard physical work and graft were all about. Our farmers and our rural sector is where our No. 8 wire attitude and common-sense approach to problem solving was born.

From my own time overseas in a competitive environment, I discovered that those problem-solving skills and “failure is not an option” attitude helped me stand out amongst the crowd. As a country we need to recognise the importance of these qualities and fight hard to retain them as part of our culture and psyche.

In 1989 I joined the New Zealand Police. I was a member of the dog section and armed offenders squad. I would like to acknowledge the officer in charge of the police dog training centre, Sergeant John Edmonds, who is here today. I was lucky enough to have been able to serve with you, and it is a great honour to have you present here today. My partner on the dog section was a small black German shepherd named Czar. When we graduated, our final report stated Czar was a natural-born police dog, and that if the team did not perform operationally, the handler should be replaced, not the dog. He loved children but did not have much time for adults. One of the first jobs we attended together put us head to head with an offender armed with a samurai sword, whose intent was to attack medical staff at Rotorua Hospital. During the arrest both Czar and I were stabbed—me through my right arm and Czar in the chest. We both recovered, although I never regained the full use of my arm.

I thank the Hon Judith Collins for the leadership she provided in making sure our police officers were given every tactical advantage and option available. Had Tasers been around in my day, I would have had a much better tennis swing. One thing I could see early in my career was the amount of damage gangs and organised crime did to our communities. Whether they be the Mongrel Mob, Hell’s Angels, or Asian triads, they are parasites living off the back of our communities and a bunch of low-life cowards. Hunting in packs, they rob, steal, rape, murder, intimidate, assault, and generally terrorise anyone unlucky enough to get in their way. Many of the social issues we face today are connected either directly or indirectly to the gang culture.

Our police service is now being led by leaders rather than managers. With morale the highest it has been for years and with the best police officers in the world we are on the right side of the ledger in continuing to tackle gangs and organised crime. Our brave men and women of all our emergency services have my full support, admiration, and gratitude for the services you provide our country. I make a commitment to my electorate that I will be strong on law and order and will support changes to bail laws that strengthen the rights and protection for victims of crime.

Our Rodney health services are very important, with a growing population and a high number of older people choosing to retire in Rodney. I support our locally driven initiatives, like the Rodney Health Trust and the Rodney Surgical Centre, which are providing local services for our communities. I am proud of how far we have come as a country in our understanding, caring, and tolerance of those suffering from a mental illness or depression. I was often asked if I was angry at the person who stabbed me, who at the time was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. No, I was not angry with him. He did not wake up one morning saying: “I want to be a paranoid schizophrenic.” He was ill with a sickness he did not want.

In 2000 I lost my younger brother, Sean. He was intelligent, the life of the party, an active member of the Auckland coastguard rescue team, and was diagnosed with manic depression. He wrote a letter to us, his family, and then swam into the Rangitoto Channel. We found him the next day washed up on Rangitoto Island. We love and miss you, Sean. I applaud John Kirwan and the courage it took to tell his own story about depression and the debilitating effects it can have. I am committed to supporting the mental health services in our communities.

In 2002 I resigned from the police to live a quiet life raising and training horses in Taupō. But fate had other plans, and in 2003 I found myself in Iraq as part of a small team establishing a safety and security programme for the newly formed interim Government. It was a tough year for me, because it was the first time in my life I was exposed to the ugliness of corruption and extreme ideologies in a country where there was very little regard for human life. The first election in Iraq had over 7,000 candidates for 235 parliamentary positions. Opposing candidates would dispose of each other with roadside bombs and hit squads. It helped me to put a little context around the teapot tapes last year. In 2005 I was asked to establish the Provincial Joint Operations Centre in southern Iraq. This was the command centre for all the newly formed Iraqi security forces. Iraq faces some very big challenges in its rebuild, but I was lucky enough to work with some very good men and women, and, where there are good men and women, there is hope.

In 2005 I was approached and asked to establish a security programme for a company that was providing food and life support to the coalition in Iraq. Seen as a legitimate target by al-Qaeda as they were supporting the Government, employees of the company were being attacked and killed. The security programme I put in place was successful and soon I was being approached by Governments, including the United States, Japan, and Australia, to assist with logistics and protective support in high-threat and difficult environments.

Although I have the deepest respect for organisations such as the United Nations, I also saw how difficult it was for big, bureaucratic organisations to move quickly when sometimes people needed protection and aid today, as it would be too late tomorrow. I am proud of the fact I was part of a dedicated team that formed an initiative backed by the World Economic Forum to create emergency logistics teams set up to deploy aid into areas struck by humanitarian disasters. I am proud that we led refugees out of Lebanon to safety when they were trapped in a war between Israel and Hezbollah, that we protected and supported scientists from the Hague to open and take evidence from mass graves in their case against Saddam Hussein, that we delivered food and medical supplies to flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan and ensured it got to the people who needed it, and that we were able to open up a supply chain to get food and medical supplies into Darfur and Mogadishu.

I have been a farmer, a policeman, a small business owner, and the founder of a successful global company. I understand the pressures they face, the responsibility they carry, and the importance that each one plays in the future of our country. But they cannot carry the weight by themselves. I believe that for the privilege of living in this beautiful country, regardless of when we arrived, we all have the same obligation, and that is to look for ways to contribute to New Zealand’s future.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge my family. To my wife, Peggy—I would not be standing here today delivering this maiden speech if it was not for your unconditional love and support. You have helped me achieve my dream, and I hope that I can help you achieve yours. To my children, Taylor, Spencer, and Jazlin—your father was taken away from you and New Zealand too early. Possum was the only sportsman in New Zealand to beat the Aussies in their own national championship seven times in a row—what a legend. But first and foremost, he was a loving and caring father. I will continue to do my best to provide you with the love and security that your father would have provided. To my daughter, Sylvie—yes, honey, it did feel like life had really begun for me when you came into this world, and I am proud of the caring young lady you are growing into. To my son, Nathan—you’re the man. Your energy and enthusiasm for life is contagious. To my sisters, Lissa and Tracey—I love you both. Thank you to my Auntie Francis and Uncle Rodney, and to Geoffrey and Lynda Bourne, for also being here.

I am back in the service of my country. There is no greater honour. Thank you.

Rural round-up


Syrian lamb commands higher prices than ours; alternative proteins are next threat – Sam McIvor:

If you think our meat is premium, export boss Sam McIvor has a wake-up call. Fake meats and other lab-grown alternatives are threatening our farms. 

 The Stuff series “Meat under heat” has led to a robust debate among farmers. I speak with farmers every day and they tell me that while they understand the scale of challenges outlined in the series, they are excited about the future and the opportunities which lie ahead. Farmers certainly do not have their heads in the sand.

They can see for themselves the rise of alternative proteins and I know a number, like me, who have tried an Impossible Burger and other similar products.  I consider myself a bit of a meat connoisseur and cooked well, the Beyond Burger was a realistic substitute.

That’s why we’ve invested in a large research project to better understand the implications of alternative proteins. Early conclusions indicate that alternative proteins are likely to become major competition. It also showed, however, that the same forces driving investment and demand for alternative proteins, including concerns about industrial (feedlot) farming; health concerns arising from the use of hormones and antibiotics; environmental and animal welfare concerns, offer an opportunity to differentiate New Zealand red meat internationally.  . . 

 – Allan Barber:

The global market for New Zealand’s meat exports and exporters is undergoing quite a rapid change, judging by movements in the industry’s latest quota entitlements and market destinations. The differences between exporters and markets over a ten and five year period provide an interesting snapshot of the relative position of the meat companies and the impact of changing market dynamics.

A comparison of quota entitlements over 10 years illustrates some sizeable changes in market share, but also considerable industry rationalisation. A number of smaller exporters have either disappeared or been absorbed by a larger company, but for the most part the same companies still dominate the industry, but with some noticeable changes in share. . . 

My tips for 2018 – Allan Barber:

It’s the time of year for making predictions, some of which may turn out to be close to the mark, but most, like horse racing tips or economists’ forecasts, will end up looking slightly silly, if anybody takes the trouble to remember what they were. The luxury of writing a column is the ability to speculate without being held to account for any inaccuracies.

Before I make any predictions for the year ahead, it’s worth taking a moment to highlight some of the main features of the year that has just finished. Two events of major significance actually had their roots in 2016 – the US election and the BREXIT referendum – but nobody is much the wiser about how they will play out from a trade perspective. As is often the case, what appears to be a seismic event takes longer than expected to have any noticeable impact. . . 

PSA heroes rewarded – Richard Rennie:

Ground-breaking research that helped take the kiwifruit industry from zero to hero in the space of a few years in Psa’s wake has earned Plant and Food Research scientists the country’s richest science award.

The Crown research institute’s multi-disciplinary team collected $500,000 of prize money in the 2017 Prime Minister’s Science Prize for the intensive work they did after the Psa disease incursion in November 2010 as they battled to identify the strain of the disease, develop a test for it and determine replacement cultivar tolerance to the disease.

The disease ultimately laid to waste the original gold kiwifruit variety Hort16a, the up and coming hope for the industry’s future growth.  . . 

Rare sheep music to couple’s ears – Yvonne O’Hara:

Country music singers Ron and Kathleen Gallagher have a small flock of some of the rarest sheep in the country.

There are thought to be about 100 Stewart Island sheep left in New Zealand and the Owaka couple have about 30 on their 8ha lifestyle block.

The Stewart Island sheep are a coloured, feral version of the merino, and are descended from those released by sealers and whalers on to Stewart Island in the 1800s and those which escaped from sheep farming operations.

They look similar to Arapawa sheep and Pitt Island sheep, with black and brown-toned fleeces. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis eradication still on the table as milk testing results flow in:

Initial results from the first round of milk testing from all producing dairy farms for Mycoplasma bovis indicate eradication of the disease remains a viable option as work to contain it ramps up, says Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

The first round of the joint industry MPI surveillance programme is near completion with no positive detections.

Tests have been completed on the tanker milk from 9100 dairy farms without a positive detection. The remaining tests will be completed early next week. . . 

DIRA Bill a good move for dairy industry:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (DIRA) has finally made it through Parliament.

“I think most of the industry will agree this is long overdue and should have happened at least six months ago,” says Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Chair.

The Federation was looking forward to working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the dairy sector on a comprehensive review. . . 

Image may contain: drink and text

Accept no substitutes. 8 0z of real milk contains 8g of protein. 

8 oz of almond beverage contains only 1g of protein.

Cavalier boosts first-half profit on benefits from restructuring – Rebecca Howard

Feb. 15 (BusinessDesk) – Carpet maker Cavalier Corp reported an improved first-half net profit on better margins, after restructuring the business to reduce costs and introduce a more efficient manufacturing system.

Net profit rose to $1 million, or 1.5 cents per share, in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $31,000 in the prior period. Revenue fell to $75.3 million from $84.3 million, reflecting reduced carpet sales in the first half due to market conditions as well as the materially lower wood prices which impacted the revenue of its wool buying business Elco Direct. . .

Is it too late to bring back doctors?


The NZ Councils of Midwives says midwifery is in crisis:

Midwives are appealing to the new Government to act urgently to deal with the unfolding crisis in New Zealand’s midwifery workforce.

The New Zealand College of Midwives warned the previous Government over many years that pay for community midwives was failing to keep pace with inflation and the level of work required of midwives. Meanwhile, under-resourcing – leading to chronic under-staffing – was undermining the morale of midwives working in our hospitals and maternity units.

“We are hearing an increasing number of stories from around the country of severe shortages as midwives continue to leave the profession,” says Karen Guilliland, Chief Executive of the New Zealand College of Midwives. “We can now see a pattern confirming that this is a service in crisis”, she says.

Mrs Guilliland says this is the result of years of under-funding in New Zealand’s maternity service however the College is heartened that the new Government has decided to enter negotiations to ensure pay equity for mental health support workers, which, like midwifery is a mainly female workforce.

“The College began fighting for pay equity for midwives three years ago when we began court action under the previous Government. This action led to an agreement between the College and the Ministry of Health to design a new funding model for community-based (LMC) midwives. We have presented our recommendations to the Ministry’s leadership team and the new Minister of Health. At this stage, we have no certainty that the recommendations from the co-design will be accepted, or funded,” she says

Mrs Guilliland is urging the new Government to reassure midwives that they will not be disappointed.

“The College is increasingly concerned that every day we wait, the sustainability of the midwifery profession continues to be negatively affected and this in turn has a significant impact on women’s access to maternity services. More and more women will be unable to find a midwife if this crisis is not urgently addressed.”

Mrs Guilliland says the new Government has an opportunity to resolve this and the College and its members cannot highlight the urgency of this situation enough.

“We need the Ministry and the Minister to act immediately,” she says.

The ODT covers the situation in Wanaka here and here.

Low pay and long hours is part of the problem.

Another part few if any midwives will talk about is the changes that drove general practitioners from obstetrics, adding to the load placed on midwives and risks for women and babies.

An Otago university study found babies are more at risk during birth if a midwife rather than a doctor is in charge.

Bad outcomes for new babies are more likely when a mother’s chosen maternity carer is a midwife, as opposed to a medical specialist, research shows. 

The University of Otago research project examined major adverse perinatal outcomes of 240,000 babies born between 2008 and 2012. 

It found that babies were less likely to encounter problems during and after giving birth, when their mother’s carer was a specialist obstetrician or general practitioner. . .

The changes were driven by the feminist movements insistence that birth is a natural process.

It is, but so is death and you only have to look at the number of women and babies in old cemeteries to see what used to happen when birth was predominantly left to midwives.

Midwifery practices are very different now from how they were then, but there still ought to be a bigger role for doctors, not just specialists but GP obstetricians, in the birthing process.

Is it too late to bring doctors back to births?

Quote of the day


 The world’s capacity to create human misery through conflict now greatly exceeds its capacity to prevent or resolve it or its willingness to meet the growing humanitarian cost. That simply has to change.Murray McCully who celebrates his 65th birthday today.

February 19 in history


197 Roman Emperor Septimius Severus defeated usurper Clodius Albinus in the Battle of Lugdunum, the bloodiest battle between Roman armies.

1473 – Nicolaus Copernicus, mathematician and astronomer, was born (d. 1543).

1594-  Having already inherited the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth through his mother Catherine Jagellonica of Poland,Sigismund III of the House of Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, succeeding his father John III of Sweden.

1600 – The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina exploded in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America.

1674 – England and the Netherlands signed the Peace of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. A provision of the agreement transfered the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to England, and it was renamed New York.

1743 Luigi Boccherini, Italian composer, was born  (d. 1805).

1807 Former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr was arrested for treason and confined to Fort Stoddert.

1819 British explorer William Smith discovered the South Shetland Islands, and claimed them in the name of King George III.

1847 – The first group of rescuers reached the Donner Party who had been snowbound. Some of the party resorted to cannibalism to survive.

1861 Serfdom was abolished in Russia.

1878 The phonograph was patented by Thomas Edison.

1883 Parihaka leaders Te Whiti and Tohu were released.

Release of Parihaka leaders Te Whiti and Tohu

1884 The Enigma tornado outbreak.

1895 Diego Mazquiarán, Spanish matador, was born  ( d. 1940 ).

1924 Lee Marvin, American actor, was born (d. 1987).

1936 Sam Myers, American musician and songwriter, was born (d. 2006).

1938 Twenty men and one woman were drowned when a sudden cloudburst sent a wall of water surging through a public works camp at Kopuawhara, near Mahia. This was New Zealand’s deadliest 20th-century flood.

21 drown in Kopuawhara flash flood

1940 Smokey Robinson, American singer, was born.

1942 Nearly 250 Japanese war planes attacked Darwin killing 243 people.

1942 –President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order 9066′, allowing the United States military to relocate Japanese-Americans toJapanese internment camps.

1943 Battle of the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia began.

1945 Battle of Iwo Jima – about 30,000 United States Marines landed on Iwo Jima.

1947 Tim Shadbolt, mayor of Invercargill, New Zealand, was born.

1949 – Ezra Pound was awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.

1952 Amy Tan, American novelist, was born.

1953 – Murray McCully, former New Zealand MP and cabinet minister was born.

Murray McCully November 2016.jpg

1953 Georgia approved the first literature censorship board in the United States.

1958 Helen Fielding, English writer, was born.

1959 – The United Kingdom granted Cyprus its independence.

1960  Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was born.

1963 – The publication of Betty Friedan‘s The Feminine Mystique launched the reawakening of the Feminist Movement in the United States as women’s organisations and consciousness-raising groups spread.

1972 The Asama-Sansō hostage standoff began in Japan.

1976 Executive Order 9066 was rescinded by President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4417

1978 Egyptian forces raid Larnaca International Airport, in an attempt to intervene in a hijacking situation, without authorisation from the Republic of Cyprus authorities. The Cypriot National Guard and Police forces kill 15 Egyptian commandos and destroy the Egyptian C-130 transport plane in open combat.

1985 William J. Schroeder became the first Artificial heart recipient to leave hospital.

1985 – Iberia Airlines Boeing 727 crashed into Mount Oiz in Spain, killing 148.

1986 Akkaraipattu massacre, massacre of 80 Tamil farm workers by the Sri Lankan Army in the eastern province of Sri Lanka.

1986 – The Soviet Union launched its Mir spacecraft.

1999 – President Bill Clinton issued a posthumous pardon for U.S. Army Lt.Henry Ossian Flipper.

2001 An Oklahoma City bombing museum was dedicated at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

2001 Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was awarded an honorary knighthood in recognition of a “lifetime of service to humanity”.

2002 – NASA’s Mars Odyssey space probe started to map the surface of Mars using its thermal emission imaging system.

2006 – A methane explosion in coal mine near Nueva Rosita, Mexico,killed 65 miners.

2011 – The debut exhibition of the Belitung shipwreck, containing the largest collection of Tang Dynasty artefacts found in one location, began in Singapore.

2012 – 44 people were killed in a prison brawl in Apodaca, Nuevo León.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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