365 days of gratitude

May 1, 2018

The most wasted of days is one without laughter. – e.e. Cummings

Today wasn’t wasted and I’m very grateful for that.


Word of the day

May 1, 2018

Neophyte – a person who is new to a subject or activity; a convert to a belief or religion; a proselyte.


Alas poor Fortune I knew it well

May 1, 2018

One of Dunedin’s cultural gems, the Fortune Theatre, has announced its immediate closure:

Employees were told at 9am the theatre company would close today, with no further shows to be performed there.

Fortune Board of Trustees chairwoman Haley van Leeuwen said the board had been through an exhaustive process of reviews, and had closed the theatre because it was no longer financially viable.

According to its website it employed 11 permanent staff.

“We would like to acknowledge our staff during this difficult time who have worked hard towards the goal of securing the future of the theatre.”

“We have looked at many different avenues to avert closure, however theatres and their audiences have changed over the years, and we must now take stock, with the goal of keeping the tradition of local professional theatre alive in Dunedin.”

“Whatever future development arises it will be in a new format that represents the future model of theatre in New Zealand.

Fortune Theatre is New Zealand’s southernmost professional theatre and was established in 1974 at the Athenaeum in the Octagon.

It moved to its present location at the Trinity Methodist Church in 1978. . . 

 This is very sad for those directly affected, the arts community, the city and wider Otago.

The first play I saw at the Fortune was Roger Hall’s Glide Time (which later spawned the popular and long-running TV series Gliding On).

It was the first live play I had seen at a professional theatre and the first New Zealand play I’d seen performed.

I was a student then and continued going to the theatre until I finished university.

When I moved back to North Otago a few years later I began going down to Dunedin for plays when I could.

I returned to university about 10 years ago and for the next couple of years two friends and I would have a quick meal before going to Tuesday’s 6pm performance.

Those early evening performances worked well when I was back home, enabling a car load of us to see a play without being too late home.

But alas, in the last few years I wasn’t a regular theatre-goer and the Fortune’s fortunes show that too few others were too.

I am very sorry to read of its closure and hope that efforts to resurrect it are successful.


Rural round-up

May 1, 2018

Dr Terry Heiler’s prestigous career in water recognised with award:

One of New Zealand’s foremost experts in water management and irrigation has been recognised with an award from IrrigationNZ.

Dr Terry Heiler’s career has spanned 50 years and has seen him working in over twenty countries, and picking up two previous prestigious awards. Dr Heiler is now retired and lives near West Melton.

Dr Heiler was born Australia and gained a Civil Engineering Degree with the University of New South Wales. In 1967 he arrived in New Zealand. He initially worked for the NZ Agricultural Engineering Institute where he built a team of soil and water researchers. In 1982 he was appointed Director of the Institute. It worked to introduce new irrigation technology to New Zealand like drip irrigation, and pioneer new computer based design methods for storing flood runoff for irrigation. . . 

New hope for wool – Neal Wallace:

A new yarn made from strong crossbred wool and plant material is being developed by global giant DuPont Biomaterials for use in clothes, upholstery and carpets.

It is in the final stages and DuPont plans to use it at scale aiming at the mid to upper price bracket, global marketing director Renee Henze said on a visit to New Zealand supplier farms.

“The scale of opportunity for the NZ wool industry is massive,” Wools of NZ chairman Mark Shadbolt said though neither party is yet talking dollars or wool volumes. . . 

It’s a good time to be a banker – Hugh Stringleman:

New Zealand agriculture and horticulture and their support industries are enjoying sustained good returns in almost all products, newly appointed Rabobank NZ chief executive Todd Charteris says.

“It is a very good time to come back to NZ and lead the team to guide the clients of Rabobank in their banking needs,” he said.

The short to medium-term outlook for 2018 is for continued profitability onfarm and in the service sector, including good levels of conserved feed for next dairy season. . . 

New Zealand’s apple reputation on the line – Pam Tipa:

Maintaining New Zealand’s reputation for best quality will be tougher with a worker shortage, says Horticulture NZ president Julian Raine.

Optimum quality means picking at the right time so every tree gets picked three or four times, Raine told Rural News, in response to the Ministry of Social Development declaring a seasonal labour shortage across the Tasman region and its earlier declaration in Hawkes Bay.

Nelson-based Raine says seasonal fluctuations happen from time to time where more people are needed to pick fruit than are available. . . 

A tasty tiki tour for tourists:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand have commissioned a giant lamb chop to celebrate National Lamb Day – which takes place on Thursday 24 May. The giant chop set off this morning from Beef + Lamb HQ in Auckland on the maiden voyage of the ‘Lamb and Three Veg Tiki Tour’ which will go via some of the ‘tastier’ attractions across Aotearoa.

Starting at the giant kumara in Dargaville, the chop will pioneer a new tour route for tourists to follow, travelling via the iconic L&P bottle in Paeroa, the big carrot in Ohakune and onto the Wattie’s Pea Factory in Christchurch. . . 

The Search is on for New Zealand’s next top butcher:

Knives are being sharpened as the search begins for the best butchers in New Zealand, with entries for the 2018 Alto Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year competition now open.

With the ability to put New Zealand’s butchers on the world stage, this prestigious competition is the Oscars of the meat industry.

The competition has been running for three decades now with the titles being highly sought after by competitors. . . 

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Wrong priorities

May 1, 2018

Labour can’t afford its campaign promise of cheaper GP fees :

. . . Health Minister David Clark said the Government would meet all its promises over the course of the term, but its GP policy would have to be phased in. 

“We are not going to release details of Budget announcements today, but I think the public understands that we do need to prioritise policies. . . 

The government doesn’t need to subsidise GP fees for the wealthy but ensuring primary health care is affordable for lower income people ought to be one of its top priorities.

It not only helps with quality of life it can prevent the development of more serious, and more costly, health conditions.

Having to back-track on this election promise shows it’s got it’s priorities wrong.

What’s more important – fee-free tertiary education for all, $1 billion for projects in the regions which may or may not be worthwhile or more affordable health care for those in most need?


He tangata

May 1, 2018

National Party leader Simon Bridges delivered his first speech on the economy yesterday:
 . . Now sometimes people can think the economy equals boring, or that we’re focused on balance sheets rather than people.

But when I talk about the economy, I’m talking about jobs for our children.

About wages for our families.

About the local sparky as much as the big corporation in the CBD.

About the opportunities we can give those kids from Rutherford College to move into work and follow their passion.

He tangata – it is people. The economy is the what and how, people is the why.

We need a strong and growing economy to look after people – to provide the services and infrastructure they need.

We also need a strong economy to enable businesses to succeed, to provide jobs and produce goods and services that we need to export in order to afford the imports that keep us in the first world.

All of this flows from a strong economy.

But those opportunities aren’t created by accident.

They’re built on the hard work of people who get up early in the morning to go to work, or who stay up late the night before to make the school lunches.

They’re built on the entrepreneurs who take a risk and hire their first staff member, or their hundredth, and the workers who produce world-class exports. 

They’re built on a nation of innovative, passionate Kiwis who back themselves to succeed – the farmers just out of town, the butchers down the road, and scientists and teachers and IT whizzes.

There is, however, one group of people who don’t directly create those jobs – and that’s politicians.

Of course we have some part to play. Our role should be to get the settings right and then get out of the way – making good, consistent, sensible policy choices that give businesses the confidence to do business. . . 

The government has made a lot of fuss about regional development and has given one minister $1 billion to play with.

The best and most important thing any government can do for the regions and the cities is to get the settings and policies right then and get of the way of people and businesses.

Confident businesses invest and take the risks that enable them to produce more and create more jobs.

They make a bigger contribution to the economy and that enables them and the government to do more for people.


Quote of the day

May 1, 2018

 People have always tut-tutted about actors stepping out of line politically. And I can sort of see it because what you’ve got your fame for is not being someone who can influence things, so it’s cheating.  – Joanna Lumley who celebrates her 72nd birthday today.


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