365 days of gratitude


The bereaved parents’ club is one none of us choose to join.

Tonight five of the six of us at dinner were unwilling members.

The statistics for the survival of marriages for couples who’ve lost children are depressing but all five of us are still married.

There are many reasons that marriages of couples who have lost children fail. But one factor the five us whose marriages have survived have in common is that we haven’t lost the good things we have to bitterness over what we lost.

Fresh from the therapeutic benefit of sharing our experiences this evening I’m grateful for that.


365 days of gratitude


The bereaved parents club is one no-one chooses to join.

This evening we were in a group of six for dinner, five of whom were unwilling members of that club.

The statistics for marriages which survive such trauma aren’t high but all of us in that group are still married.

There might be many different reasons why some marriages survive and some don’t. One thing the five of us had in common was that we didn’t lose sight of the good of what we still have through bitterness at what we’ve lost.

Tonight, with the therapeutic value of sharing our experiences still fresh, I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day


Glisk glimpse; gleam; glitter of sunlight; glow of heat; glint or twinkle in a person’s eye;  brief moment; to look slyly or askance.

Steven Joyce retiring from parliament


Steven Joyce has announced he’s retiring from parliament:

“I have had a wonderful time in this place over the last nearly ten years including nine years as a Minister, and have been privileged to be able to make a real contribution to the development of our country,” Mr Joyce says.

“With the recent change of National Party leadership I have had the opportunity to consider again what I would like to do over the next several years.

“Simon has made a very positive proposal to me to stay and contribute as a senior member of the team on the front bench with a choice of portfolio.

“However I feel that it is time for him to get a new team around him to take National forward and win in 2020 and then govern again for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

“I have offered to assist in any way I can from outside parliament and will remain a staunch supporter of the Party.

“Personal highlights of my time in office include setting up major infrastructure projects like ultrafast broadband, the major motorway and expressway projects now coming on stream, and the electrification of Auckland’s commuter rail network.

“I have also enjoyed my involvement in the tertiary education sector, the hi-tech sector, the science sector and regional New Zealand and am proud of the progress we made as a Government in all four areas.

“I have led the National Party’s general election campaign five times as Campaign Chair and in four of those for John Key and Bill English, we achieved a Party Vote in excess of 44 per cent, the only time it has happened under MMP.

“And it was an honour to be Bill English’s Associate Minister of Finance for eight years before presenting my own budget in 2017, which continued building the platform for future economic growth and focused on boosting incomes for low and middle income earners.

“My plan now is to return to commercial life and seek new challenges and also to focus on being a good Dad to Tommy and Amelia.

“I’d like to thank my wife Suzanne, colleagues, staff, party supporters, the public and all the people I have met through my work for their encouragement, support and friendship over the last ten years in Parliament and fifteen in the party.”

I first met Steven when he was commissioned by the party to lead its reorganisation and I was National’s Otago electorate chair.

He and then-president Judy Kirk went round every electorate seeking members’ views.

That led to new rules which made the party fit for MMP, strengthened its organisation and provided solid stones for the foundation on which the return to government was built.

Steven later became party general manager and I was impressed by how approachable and responsive he was whenever I had the need of his help or advice.

In 1996, 1999 and 2002 National still ran First Past the Post campaigns. The difference between those campaigns and the ones run by Steven from 2005 when no candidate or volunteer was left in any doubt about the importance of the party vote showed in the results.

He’s given more than nine years of service to New Zealand as a Minister and more than that to National.

He’s earned a return to the commercial sector and his family and I wish him, and them well.

National leader Simon Bridges pays tribute to Steven here.


Rural round-up


US vet downplays Mycoplasma bovis risk – Sally Rae:

A veterinarian who works for a large dairy co-operative in the United States says Mycoplasma bovis need not cripple dairy profitability.

Dr Paul Dettloff has worked for Organic Valley Dairies, the largest organic dairy co-operative in the world, for the last 25 years. It has 2300 farms.

He will speak at a workshop organised by the Southern Organics Group in Gore on Thursday, followed by a practical session on assessing livestock at local farmer Rob Hall’s property.

Mycoplasma bovis, a bacterial disease first detected in New Zealand in July last year, is widespread in other dairying countries, including the US. . . 

Environment awards finalists named :

Five finalists have been named for this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

They are sheep and beef farmers John, Shona and Robert Chapman (Port Chalmers), dairy farmers James and Bridget McNally (North Otago), sheep and beef farmers Logan, Ross and Alexa Wallace (Waipahi), dairy farmers Cody and Nicola Hartvigsen (Owaka Valley), and the AgResearch Invermay research farm managed by Kevin Knowler. . .

Speed climbing trees and the rungs of power – Jamie Mackay:

Mackay, you’ve got the tree climbing.”

And with those words from Steve Hollander, founder of the Rural Games, my heart sank, along with my dreams of being a speed shearing commentator.

Did Hollander not realise my shearing pedigree as a farmer/dagger/crutcher/hacker who could shear 200 lambs in a day, albeit with tail wind? And what made him think Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins (a broken-down rodeo and jet boat sprinting commentator, who makes an occasional cameo appearance on this website) could do a better job? What were his credentials? . . 

Silver Fern Farms Co-Operative Board election:

Four candidates have put themselves forward for the two available positions on the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited’s Board of Directors.

Fiona Hancox and Rob Hewett retire by rotation at the Company’s 2017 Annual Meeting which is to be held in Dunedin on 18 April 2018. Fiona Hancox and Rob Hewett have advised that they will stand for re-election.
Nominations have also been received for Chris Allen and Conor English. . . 

2018 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2018 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners say the appeal of being part of a progressive industry was the key to leaving their roles as a contractor and a veterinarian technician.

Richard and Wendy Ridd say that entering the dairy industry awards has given them a better understanding of their business. “We both love working outside on the land and with the animals, and the lifestyle farming enables us to create, for our family,” say the couple.

The couple were named the 2018 Manawatu Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North last night, and won $8,875 in prizes. The other major winners were the 2018 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year Angela Strawbridge, and the 2018 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year, Samuel White. . . 

Christchurch to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final:

West Coast dairy farmer Andrew Wiffen will be looking to defend his title at the Tasman Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year next month.

The 50:50 sharemilker from the Grey Valley took out the competitive event last year, securing a spot in the grand final in Feilding where he placed third. . . .

How a grain and legume farmer harvests nutrition from the soil – Clarissa Wei:

Larry Kandarian grows legumes alongside ancient grains on his California farm, producing a polyculture that benefits both the health of the land and his own.

“I’m 72, but I consider myself middle-aged,” said Larry Kandarian of Kandarian Organic Farms as he smiled and took a sip of his stew. Sitting in his trailer with a sun-weathered tan, Kandarian looks like any other farmer in the state.

And for a while, he was.

In the 1970s, Kandarian started off as a conventional farmer specializing in flowers and California native plants on his farm in Los Osos, about 100 miles northwest of Santa Barbara on California’s central coast. He decided to pivot full-time to growing organic, ancient grains eight years ago after the recession shrank the market for his goods.

“I figured that people still have to eat grains,” he said of the shift. . . 

Census complaints continue


It’s census day and everyone is required by law to complete the forms.

As I posted a few days ago, the Waitaki District was used to trial online forms five years ago and the trial was declared a success.

As a result this year instead of hand-delivered paper forms, a letter is supposed to come in the mail giving instructions for how to complete the census online. Those who can’t or don’t want to do that can phone an 0800 census (236787) to request paper forms.

So far so easy, but Facebook, talkback radio and other media are full of complaints about the help line.

I can add an anecdote to that:

A friend called the number, waited a long time and when the call was finally answered found someone with a strong accent at the other line which resulted in difficulties at both ends.

At one stage the man who answered the phone told the called to press the hash key. The caller replied, “The only hash I know is a hash brown”.

It was a witty response but he wasn’t joking. He has never owned a computer or mobile phone and genuinely doesn’t know what a hash key is.

Things got a bit testy after that and he’s not sure if he’s going to get a form in the mail or not. It hadn’t arrived by yesterday and he won’t get mail again until tomorrow.

At least he got the letter with an access code, not everyone has.

Our sharemilker hadn’t got a letter by yesterday morning. His mail box is in a line with ours and ours came last week.

All the mail boxes have our RAPID number but ours is the only house at that address, some of the others are further up the road and one is on another road. I wonder if Statistics NZ understands that a RAPID number on a postal address isn’t necessarily where the people who get the mail live?

I took the electronic option offered last time and didn’t have a problem doing it again this time until I went to fill in a form for our crib.

I don’t remember getting a form there five years ago and as we don’t have a mail box wasn’t expecting one this year. However, when we got there yesterday there was an envelope with census instructions stuck in the door.

I followed the instructions to sign in with the access number then struck a problem. The first task was to fill in the name or names of everyone who’d be there tonight.

We were there last night but won’t be there tonight and there was no option for nobody. I clicked continue and got a response telling me I had to fill in the names. I put nobody nobody and carried on to the questions on the dwelling.

When that was done I got a message saying the process wasn’t complete and everyone present tonight had to fill in a form.

I went back to the form for people and noticed a box which said resident, visitor or away. I clicked on away and got a message saying the form was complete.

What will happen when whoever processes the form gets to nobody nobody?

Why didn’t they ask how often people were in the house? If they’re planning for health and infrastructure the answer to that matters.

We can’t be the only ones with a crib that won’t be occupied tonight and is only used temporarily.

There will be other houses which don’t have permanent residents – we have a friend who lives part time on a farm in Southland, and part time in Queenstown – and also homes whose residents are away tonight.

Why didn’t whoever designed the form think of this and enable people to put not a permanent resident and usually resident but not at home on census night?

If talkback radio is to be believed, forms can be completed until the end of the month. After that someone will visit every dwelling for which forms haven’t been returned.

That might mop up many of those who wouldn’t or couldn’t fill forms in online and didn’t get paper ones.

But it would have been much better to have introduced the online option as they did for the trail in Waitaki last year, by visiting every dwelling and offering paper forms to those who preferred them and leaving the online forms as an opt-in for those who chose it.

This might be the 21st century but there are still a lot of people who either don’t have computers or have them but are concerned about trusting them with their data.

Central and local governments use information gathered from the census for planning and funding. It’s important that the information is both complete and accurate.

Making online forms the preferred option will be cheaper but its false economy if the data gathered is compromised by fewer people completing their forms, or as in the case with our crib, not being able to do so accurately.



Quote of the day


An ignorance of means may minister to greatness, but an ignorance of aims make it impossible to be great at all. – Elizabeth Barrett Browning who was born on this day in 1806.

March 6 in history


1454 Thirteen Years’ War: Delegates of the Prussian Confederationpledged allegiance to King Casimir IV of Poland who agreed to commit his forces in aiding the Confederation’s struggle for independence from theTeutonic Knights.

1475 Michelangelo, Italian artist, was born (d. 1564).

1521 Ferdinand Magellan arrived at Guam.

1788 The First Fleet arrived at Norfolk Island in order to found a convict settlement.

1806 Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was born (d. 1861).

1820 The Missouri Compromise was signed into law by President James Monroe  allowing Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, but made the rest of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase territory slavery-free.

1830 – Outbreak of the ‘Girls‘ War’,  fought between northern and southern Ngāpuhi at Kororāreka (now Russell).

Outbreak of the 'Girls' War' at Kororāreka

1836 Battle of the Alamo – After a thirteen day siege by an army of 3,000 Mexican troops, the 187 Texas volunteers defending the Alamo were defeated and the fort was captured.

1853 Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera La Traviata receives its premiere performance in Venice.

1857 – Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants—whether or not they were slaves—were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States..

1869 Dmitri Mendeleev presented the first periodic table to the Russian Chemical Society.

1899 Bayer registered aspirin as a trademark.

1917 Frankie Howerd, English comedian, was born (d. 1992).

1921 Portuguese Communist Party was founded as the Portuguese Section of the Communist International.

1926 Alan Greenspan, American economist, 13th Chairman of the Federal Reserve, was born.

1927 Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian writer, Nobel Prize laureate, was born.

1944  Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealander singer, was born.

1944  Mary Wilson, American singer (The Supremes), was born.

1946 David Gilmour, British musician (Pink Floyd), was born.

1947  Kiki Dee, British singer, was born.

1947 Dick Fosbury, American athlete, was born.

1945 Communist-dominated government under Petru Groza assumed power in Romania.

1945 Cologne was captured by American Troops.

1946  Ho Chi Minh signed an agreement with France which recognizes Vietnam as an autonomous state in the Indochinese Federation and the French Union.

1947 The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra made its debut performance– opening the concert in Wellington’s Town Hall with God Save The Kingthe performing selections from Dvorak, Brahms, Butterworth, Enesco, Wagner and Richard Strauss.

Debut performance of NZ Symphony Orchestra

1951 – The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for conspiracy to commit espionage in the USA began.

1953 Georgy Maksimilianovich Malenkov succeeded Joseph Stalin as Premier of the Soviet Union and First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1957 British colonies Gold Coast and British Togoland became the independent Republic of Ghana.

1964 Nation of Islam’s Elijah Muhammad officially gave boxing champion Cassius Clay the name Muhammad Ali.

1964 Constantine II became King of Greece.

1967  Joseph Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva defected to the United States.

1975 For the first time, ever, the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination was shown in motion to a national TV audience by Robert J. Groden and Dick Gregory.

1975 – Algiers Accord: Iran and Iraq announce a settlement of their border dispute.

1981 After 19 years of presenting the CBS Evening NewsWalter Cronkitesigned off for the last time.

1983 The first United States Football League game was played.

1987 The British ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise capsized in about 90 seconds killing 193.

1988 Three Provisional Irish Republican Army terrorists are killed by Special Air Service in  Gibraltar in the conclusion of Operation Flavius.

1992 Michelangelo computer virus began to affect computers.

2006 South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed legislation banning mostabortions in the state.

2008 A Palestinian gunman shot and killed 8 students and critically injured 11 in the library of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, in Jerusalem.

2009 – US stock markets made an historic “generational low”, with theS&P 500 index reaching an intraday low of 666.79, a level not seen in over 12 years.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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