366 days of gratitude

March 26, 2018

The Black Caps won the cricket test against England by an innings and 49 runs.

What’s more the team did it without cheating and I’m very grateful for that.


If I Only Had Time

March 26, 2018

Happy birthday John Rowles – 71 today.


Word of the day

March 26, 2018

Peelie – thin; gaunt; pale.


Rural round-up

March 26, 2018

Expatriate banking on new future for Twizel – Sally Rae:

People don’t realise what is going on in Twizel.

That’s the belief of Chris White, a Dallas-domiciled Kiwi with a passion for the former hydro town. In fact, he describes it as genuinely being a “hidden gem”.

The Mackenzie town has left behind the hydro days, when it was constructed as the temporary base for the Upper Waitaki Power Development, with new housing springing up all over the place and people falling for its charms.

“I’m a little bit sick of it being known as a dam town now. It’s moved on. You want to see the people that are holidaying here. There’s a real underbelly … of really smart intellect and talent moving in here and holidaying here. People want to get out of the rat race,” he said. . .

Horticulture growth predictions and constraints – Mike Chapman:

This week the Ministry for Primary Industries released its growth predictions. Modest growth is predicted for horticulture (including wine), with kiwifruit and apples predicted to be growth leaders. This comes after two years of exceptional growth: 10% in 2015, and 19.5% in 2016. The Ministry’s predictions may be considered by some in the industry as conservative, due to plantings around the country both underway and planned, and not only with kiwifruit and apples.

The Ministry is doubtless looking at what constrains growth. In the last and current seasons, the cold and wet was followed by hot and dry, in turn followed by heavy rain from cyclones, has hindered production across the country, particularly in the North Island and the top of the South Island. Productivity has been significantly down, and this has been seen by consumers in the increased price for some vegetables due to short supply. Although there appears to be more of these extreme climatic episodes affecting production, the last year and a half has been particularly difficult. A return to more normal weather patterns will see a return to more normal production levels, and higher levels of growth. . .

Fresh NZ milk flies to China – Sudesh Kissun:

Fresh milk produced in New Zealand is now available for the first time on supermarket shelves in Shanghai.

The 1L product is available at 18 Alibaba’s Hema Fresh supermarkets, alongside Fonterra’s fresh milk produced from its China farms.

The milk is mostly sourced from Theland’s Tahi Farms – formerly Crafar Farms – and processed by Green Valley Dairy in South Auckland. . . 

A is for Auckland A is for agri :

Auckland isn’t the first word that usually springs to mind when discussing the future of farming in New Zealand. It’s the city of sails, motorways and high rises, after all.

But our biggest city holds the key to the Government’s goal of doubling primary industry exports in real terms from $32 billion in 2012 to $64 billion by 2025.

To achieve this ambitious goal people are the key – not just to expand the workforce of our primary industries, but to replace retiring baby boomers. . .

University of Southern Queensland shows benefits of digital connectivity for remote and rural communities – Sharon O’Keeffe:

DIGITAL connectivity improves your quality of life. Research conducted by the University of Southern Queensland showed a digital connection is increasingly crucial to service delivery, economic development and quality life in remote and rural Australia.

This supports research conducted by the Australian Farm Institute, which indicated a 25-per-cent increase in the gross productivity of farming outputs could be achieved through the adoption of digital technologies.

The USQ research follows a 2015 landmark agreement, where the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires successfully lobbied to have fibre optic cable and mobile coverage connected to the remote communities of Birdsville, Bedourie, Jundah, Stonehenge and Windorah. . . 

Wheat in heat: the ‘crazy idea’ that could combat food insecurity – Mark HIllsdon:

Durum wheat varieties can withstand 40C heat along the Senegal River basin, and could produce 600,000 tonnes of food.

In the northern Senegalese village of Ndiayene Pendao, close to the border with Mauritania, Fatouma Sow is pulling weeds. Her team of female farmers tread carefully among the tall, ripening plants as they prepare to harvest the country’s first ever crop of durum wheat.

They had grown onions and tomatoes on the one-hectare plot (2.47 acres), Sow explains, but the crops took too long to grow and disrupted the essential rice growing season. Now the wheat offers a fast-growing, lucrative alternative.

Following four years of trials, which saw thousands of wheat varieties tested in the unforgiving sub-Saharan heat, scientists have successfully turned what was first thought of as a “crazy idea” into a vital new food crop. With more than 1 million smallholders living along the Senegal River basin, which also runs through Mali and Mauritania, it was an important strategic area to trial the wheat. . . 


No snow leopards

March 26, 2018

Federated Farmers is saying a definite no to snow leopards in the South Island high country.

Federated Farmers is stunned to learn of a proposal to introduce a snow leopard sanctuary in the South Island High Country.

The Ministry for the Environment has been petitioned by a Hastings man, who is inviting a private landowner to give up their land to create a safe haven for the endangered species.

“This idea, with all due respect, is outlandish and just plain crazy. It’s a poorly thought out concept, ” says Federated Farmers’ Environment Spokesperson Chris Allen.

“As a High Country farmer you’d be worried about your livestock and your own welfare for that matter, this would actually become a health and safety issue.

“The truly worst case scenario for any farmer is a rogue animal on their property or nearby.”

Federated Farmers trusts the Ministry will make a sensible decision and banish this idea. Its widely acknowledged that snow leopards are a pest to landowners in Mongolia – as they are known to attack livestock.

New Zealand is in the fortunate position of being free of native fierce creatures.

Introduced ones like pigs do a lot of damage to farmland and also prey on young stock.

The idea of saving the snow leopard by introducing it to our high country might sound noble from the safety of Hawkes Bay.

To those of us closer to the danger they’d present to people and stock it is as Feds say, crazy.


$600,000 is cheap?

March 26, 2018

Housing Minister Phil Twyford announced what looked like a big boost to Auckland’s housing supply yesterday.

It didn’t take National’s housing spokeswoman Judith Collins to point out it was old news:

“The previous Government signed off on Unitec’s investment plans to consolidate their campus and develop the spare land for housing.

“The plan change has already been through Auckland Council. We know that because various local councillors were opposing the development.

“All that has happened here is that a land development that was owned by one part of Government is now owned by another arm of Government. A pure re-badging exercise.

“The development at Unitec has already been factored into the plans and predictions for housing development in Auckland.

“All that seems to have happened here is that Mr Twyford wants to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise the building and selling of homes that were going to happen anyway. . . 

Involving the government is likely to add to costs and delays.

It would be far better to leave building to the private sector rather than tying up taxpayers’ money with all the complications that brings.

Then there’s the cost which Corin  Dann raised on Q&A:

PHIL: So, you’re talking medium-density, as pretty much all the KiwiBuild homes in Auckland are going to be medium-density, apartments, flats and town houses, terraces. 500,000 to 600,000 is the kind of range we’re talking about.

CORIN​: So somebody is going to get a $600,000- what, two-bedroom, three-bedroom house in Mt Albert?

PHIL​: Yes. Two to three, yes.

CORIN​: That’s really cheap.

PHIL​: Sure.

Cheap? Since when has $600,000 for a two to three bedroom house been cheap?

Since demand for houses outstripped supply so badly and as Act MP David Seymour pointed out the government isn’t addressing the root cause of that problem:

. . . The Government’s own officials have said that, in Auckland, land use regulation could be responsible for up to 56 per cent, or $530,000, of the cost of an average home.

“ACT has revealed from Written Parliamentary Questions that Cabinet hasn’t even decided whether to consider reviewing the Resource Management Act – rules that determine what can be built where – after 150 days in the Beehive.

“New Zealand does not have a free market in housing. It is a market created and manipulated by government.

“The Government – whether central or local – controls the Resource Management Act, zoning, consents and other factors that influence the market.

“Our housing market isn’t a case of market failure but an example of regulatory failure. New Zealand has planning rules which mean that the market is not able to increase the supply of houses in response to increases in demand. . . 

The RMA and zoning are a big part of the housing cost problem.

So too are building regulations.

Economies of scale with bigger populations don’t explain all of the difference in the cost of building a house in Australia and New Zealand.

If the government is serious about affordable housing it needs to look at building regulations which require more expensive materials on this side of the Tasman than the other.


Quote of the day

March 26, 2018

 Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. –  Viktor Frankl who was born on this day in 1905.


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