Word of the day

November 18, 2019

Scrouge – to crowd, squeeze, press;  inconvenience or discomfort a person by pressing against him or her or by standing too close.


Thatcher thinks

November 18, 2019


Rural round-up

November 18, 2019

Fortitude in face of loss bears fruit – Sally Rae:

A North Otago berry fruit business has grown to be the largest producer of strawberries in the South Island. Business and rural editor Sally Rae speaks to the remarkable driving force behind the operation.

If strawberry plants came in pink, then Leanne Matsinger would probably place a bulk order.

For the North Otago berryfruit grower is particularly fond of the hue and, when she bought a new tractor, she even asked if it was possible to get it in that colour.

Sadly it was not, and when she heads out at 2am with the floodlights blazing to go spraying in the still of the night, it is on a conventionally coloured workhorse.

Wind the clock back to 2010, and Mrs Matsinger did not know how to drive a tractor. Nor how to grow strawberries. . . 

Barns have big footprints :

In a New Zealand first new research from Lincoln University doctoral researcher Hafiz Muhammad Abrar Ilyas is estimating the carbon footprints of pastoral or grass-based and barn dairy systems based on their energy consumption.

This study was done on 50 conventional dairy farms in Canterbury – 43 pastoral and seven barn systems.

Hafiz said the difference between the two systems indicates the barn system has an 18% higher carbon footprint than the pastoral system per hectare of farm area and 11% higher footprint per tonne of milksolids. . . 

Off like a Rockit

The CEO of the company that grows and sells New Zealand’s tiny Rockit apple says no-one expected the apple to be so popular.

“It’s blown away everybody’s expectations, which is terrific,” Rockit’s Austin Mortimer says.

Listen duration19:51 

He says Rockit is the only miniature apple available globally.

“My understanding was when it (the apple) was offered to the big players none of them would touch it because they just didn’t think there was value in a small apples.”

There is.

Rockit apples are now returning about $150,000 per hectare to growers. . . 

Ida Valley wool makes good show – Alan Williams:

Fine wool prices might be below last year’s levels but they still made the sale screen at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch good viewing for Central Otago farmer Jock McNally.

He watched as his 15 to 17 microns Merino wool sold for up to $17.50/kg greasy at the annual live auction on Thursday.

“The prices are still reasonable, still above the averages of the last few years and I’m happy with the sale,” he said. . . 

Boer goat meat to grace Korea tables – Yvonne O’Hara:

Two tonnes of Central Otago Boer goat meat was shipped from New Zealand recently to appear on the menus of three planned specialist restaurants in Korea.

The shipment was organised by Alexandra-based New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd (NZPGM), which is run by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra.

The first new restaurant, called Cabra’s Kitchen (cabra is Spanish for goat), will specialise in meals made using New Zealand Boer goat, as well as New Zealand beef and lamb and Central Otago wine. . . 

NZ 2019 Young Horticulturist announced

Simon Gourley of Domaine Thomson Wines is the 2019 Young Horticulturist of the Year.

From Central Otago, Simon (28) represented the NZ Winegrowers sector at the competition, which celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry.

It’s the second consecutive year the Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title has been won by a viticulturist. Last year’s winner was Annabel Bulk, who is also from Central Otago. . .


Busy body slows entrepreneur

November 18, 2019

A 14 year-old running his own business ought to be something to celebrate, but a busy body has slowed him down:

A young Cromwell entrepreneur who runs a garden maintenance company has been banned from riding his lawnmower to jobs.

Johnny O’Neill, 14, set up his successful business J.C. O’Neill Contracting in 2017 and until recently had been driving to jobs around the small Central Otago township on his ride-on 780cc lawnmower.

However, he has been forced to employ a driver to take him to jobs or tow the mower behind his bike after he received a written warning not to drive the mower.

“Police called and said I needed to come in and have a chat about the ride-on mower because someone had complained … It’s too big and apparently has too much power.”

The mower, powered by hydrostatic transmission, travelled up to 5kmh towing a trailer with equipment, and would be lucky to get downhill at 10kmh, he said. . . 

“It’s not exactly going fast … I would class it safer than a push bike. What’s the difference with me going down the footpath with a weed eater on the side and someone mowing their lawn next to the footpath … or a Lime scooter or e-bike that are a lot more dangerous than what a ride on lawn mower would be?” 

He was disappointed a member of the public would try and “put their foot in the way”. The setback was going to cost $25,000 in wages employing someone else, as well as costs running another vehicle.

“It’s taken a lot of long hours and long days to get where we are at. We now service 293 clients a week so it is a bit of a logistical exercise. I do 40 of those myself and the staff do the other 250 … I reckon it is a lot better thing to be doing than sitting at home on your Xbox.”

His company had a turnover of more than $100,000 last year with only himself and a part-time worker, he said.

Police declined to comment for “privacy reasons”.

A NZ Transport Agency spokesman said enforcement in Johnny’s situation was at the discretion of police. . . 

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, is doing her best to help Johnny.

“This country needs talented young people like this who are prepared to get off the couch and give things a go, and they don’t need to be held back by regulation and red tape.”

Amen to that.

The old days weren’t all good, but in times gone by police wouldn’t have worried about “privacy” and would have been more likely to tell the busy-body to mind her or his own business and leave the young entrepreneur to go about his.


5.5 tonnes a minute

November 18, 2019

Sully Alsop gave some interesting numbers in a speech at the 50 Shades of Green march on parliament last week:

It took me about a minute to get up here to speak to you today. And something amazing happened in that one minute. Something truly remarkable that happens every minute of every hour of every day in NZ. Something that you are all a part of. In that one obscure minute NZ exported another 5 and a half tonnes of pastoral agriculutural product generating more than $100,000 for NZ.

That’s a lot of product and it earns a lot of money.

The average income in NZ is $52,000 so in less than a minute the pastoral sector generated the annual household income for one family.

The rural sector that you all work so hard in just paid for a school teacher, a policeman, a nurse, or maybe about a quarter of a politicians salary. Maybe that minute made it possible for one of those non farming households to take their family on a holiday, or get their children a better education.

And that is the message we all bring to parliament today. This isn’t just about rural communities or urban centres this is about all of NZ and protecting the way of life that we all enjoy, the way of life that the pastoral sector contributes to so significantly for all – every minute.

The export income primary produce generates starts on the farms but the benefits flow through rural communities and the regions into cities.

And that pastoral sector, that is so much the fabric of much of our country’s identity, is confronted with unprecedented change and challenges.

We are not here to push back against change, we are not laggards and do not have our heads buried in the sand. Quite the opposite, much of the change that is being proposed is not actually change at all, but a continuation of the good work carried out by our sector over the past decades well before water quality and climate change became daily talking points.

We should all be proud of the more than 100,000km of waterway fencing already undertaken. We should be proud that more than a quarter of the nation’s native bush is on our land that we protect and enhance.

Our rural communities are proactive problem solvers. I am personally very proud of what has been achieved in my neck of the woods – the Wairarapa. A cyclone in the 70’s caused huge damage on the delicate hill country. Soon after poplar and willow planting trials were undertaken and since then millions of trees have been planted for erosion control. This was not legislated, it was not compulsory, it was just motivation of farmers and some education from Regional Land Managers.

That’s right Shane Jones, if you’re still trying to work out how to plant half a billion trees, you don’t need to be up all night researching on your laptop in a hotel room, you just need to pop over the hill and ask the farmers and land managers in the Wairarapa.

We are not here to push back against change, we are here to make sure that change is done right. And what you have proposed in the Healthy Waterways legislation is not right. To be blunt, it is a lazy, unimaginative, piece of legislation that at best will be clunky, inefficient, ineffective, and demotivating. New Zealanders, all New Zealanders deserved better. We are not here to push back against intended outcomes of this legislation, but we are here to push back strongly against how you have proposed to achieve those outcomes.

Few have any argument about the goal, it’s about how to reach it, how quickly and at what cost that is debated.

The Healthy Waterways legislation gives a broad brush, one size fits all attempt at dictating terms on a national level. Landowners in this country were never consulted as to the relevance and practicalities of this plan. This is either arrogant or lazy and NZ deserves better.

How can one document cover all the different soil types, topography, and climates in this diverse country. The issues on Canterburys stony plains will be different to the high country, which will be different to the peaty soils of Waikato, to the beaches of Auckland, to the dry hills of the east coast.

If this government really wanted to show leadership in this area they would have taken the time to clearly define the issues, and work with all stakeholders to come up with a practical solution, that would work on the ground, rather than cave to public perception.

This lack of consultation showed in the 17,500 submissions highlighting the weaknesses of the legislation. Why the pastoral sector were not consulted is beyond me. What you are proposing will have massive impacts on our businesses, our families, our communities, and in turn the rest of NZ, the teachers, the nurses, the policemen that agriculture supports, every minute. It would be nice to think we were at the table and not simply on the menu.

The lack of research was evident by ideas such as grandparenting land use change and audited farm plans being included. These have been proven to be unfair and ineffective tools in regional plans throughout the country. The fact they showed up again in the Healthy Waterways legislation shows the lack of imagination and research.

It was lazy and NZers, all NZers deserved better.

It was worse than lazy, it was impractical and expensive in both economic and social terms without the scientific backing to ensure real environmental gains.

So I challenge our leaders, instead of clunky, one size fits all, legislation give us the space and flexibility to come up with our own solutions taylor made to our individual land and water quality issues.

Instead of audits and box tickers that we will pay for either directly or indirectly, pour money into science. Our universities, Massey and Lincoln were so vital to the production gains made over the last 40 years can again be vital in this next stage of NZ pastoral agriculture that is less about production and more about maximising the value of that product. Give us less box tickers and more research and development.

Instead of box tickers give us support and expert advice. We will come up with great solutions that even the universities cannot if you give us support, confidence, and education where we need it.

Instead of audits give us flexibility to come up with our own solutions.

Instead of being stick wavers, be our partners. All NZers, the nurses and policemen and teachers rely on it.

The government is promoting policies that will harm not just farms, farming and farmers, but the economic and social fabric of the whole country without a single policy to mitigate the harm and replace the income.

I’m not scared of this change because it is not really change but a continuation of the good work we already do.

I’m not scared of this change because it our sector has been challenged before and we rose to that challenge and adapted.

But we cannot do it without pastoral land. We have to stop the sale of productive land into foreign ownership. We cannot meet the challenges ahead and continue to provide all NZers, the teachers, nurses, and policemen with the NZ we currently enjoy without pastoral land.

We have to stop prostituting NZ out as the dumping ground for the worlds carbon addiction.

What makes this policy worse is that the science says forests are only a short-term band-aid for offsetting fossil fuel emissions.

Our rural communities matter.

Our schools matter.

And not just for our rural communities but for all those non rural households whose incomes our exports support every minute.

These international owners don’t care about NZ’s future, they don’t care about our communities. They are simply here to dump their carbon rubbish and move on leaving our grandchildren to wonder what happened. What happened to the NZ we, their grandparents talked about, what happened to all those nurses, teachers, policemen that are no longer supported.

I know this was never the intention of this legislation. But by signing off on the first 30 year band-aid of an idea that springs to mind is short sighted, lazy, and NZ deserves better. Show true leadership. Look for long term solutions, don’t just settle for the best idea in a bad bunch. NZ relies on you doing so.

To you all thank you, and feel proud about what you do in every unremarkable minute of the day and the impact it has on this country.

It’s hard to feel proud when government policies would sabotage not just individual businesses but communities and eventually the economic and social wellbeing of the country.


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