Word of the day


Solasta – bright, shining; luminous.

Ended right, started wrong


Searchers saved the lives of two trampers who have been missing in Kuhurangi National Park:

The two trampers who went missing in bush north-west of Nelson say they spent nearly two weeks without food and their only saving grace was water they had found.

An intensive search and rescue operation had been underway to find Dion Reynolds and Jessica O’Connor, who have been in Kahurangi National Park since 8 May.

The pair were in a very rugged and remote part of the park when a search helicopter spotted smoke from a fire they had lit and rescued them yesterday, the police officer leading the rescue, Sergeant Malcolm York, said.

York said the 23-year-olds were incredibly lucky to have survived.

“This search was a particularly challenging one due to the remote and rugged location, it’s a long from anywhere out there and it’s a complete lack of any communication.” . . 

The trampers did the right thing once they were lost – made camp and stayed put.

However, they did two things wrong at the start – going tramping under Covid-19 Level 3 lockdown when tramping was confined to day walks on easy trails; and not taking a personal locator beacon.

A PLB costs a few hundred dollars to buy and far less to hire.

Buying or hiring one is a lot less expensive than the costs incurred by police and search parties who have to go on a rescue mission at considerable inconvenience and potential risk to their safety.

This story could have ended very badly. That it didn’t owes a lot to the trampers doing the right thing once they were lost, the perseverance and skill of the searchers and a little bit of luck.

It wouldn’t even have been a story had the couple not got two things right at the start –  sticking to the lockdown rules and carrying a PLB.

Thatcher thinks


Rural round-up


Hauraki Plains farmers: ‘We just want some help‘ –  Maja Burry:

Farmers on the Hauraki Plains are banding together and holding socially-distanced shed meetings, as they fight the worst drought seen in the area in decades.

The Hauraki Plains, Coromandel Peninsula and eastern parts of South Auckland haven’t had had any meaningful rain in months. The dry conditions have become so dire in some parts of the Waikato region three district mayors have signed a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, calling for more support.

Ngatea farmers Megan and Michael Webster run 300 dairy cows and 900 diary goats, but this season due to the dry conditions they’ve had to take a financial hit and dry their stock off about a month earlier than usual.

Michael Webster said it had been a very challenging time, with average rainfall well down. . . 

Coronavirus: Kiwis more positive about farming after Covid-19 lockdown – Esther Taunton:

Kiwis are beginning to see farmers in a new light after lockdown, research shows.

Figures from UMR Research show 63 per cent of New Zealanders hold a positive view of sheep and beef farming, an increase of 9 per cent compared to just eight months ago.

Support for dairy farmers has also jumped, rising from 51 per cent to 60 per cent.

Horticulture tops the list with a positive rating of 65 per cent, while ratings for fisheries have clicked over into majority positive territory at 53 per cent, up from 47 per cent. . .

Fish & Game council embraces Feds, ungags boss -David Williams:

Fish & Game is extending an olive branch to Federated Farmers, against the advice of its chief executive. David Williams reports

The national Fish & Game council continues to try and cleanse itself of a tough stance against agricultural pollution, demanding a softer line from staff on public statements as it takes tentative steps to work with lobby group Federated Farmers.

Such a step would be a huge departure for the public body, which is funded by licence fees. It’s an environmental powerhouse which has successfully advocated for a dozen water conservation orders, and is well-known for taking a hard stance on the damage done by dairying.

That stance, pushed by long-time chief executive Bryce Johnson, has continued under successor Martin Taylor, who started in late 2017, just after the last general election. (In one of his first statements, he flayed dairy giant Fonterra’s environmental record, caused by, he said, its “single-minded focus on increased production at all costs, aided and abetted by weak regional councils”.) . . 

Project to explore turning waste into hand sanitiser – Maia Hart:

Turning waste into hand sanitiser is the next project for a research winery based in Marlborough.

The Ministry of Business and Innovation (MBIE) has awarded $84,700 in funding to Bragato Research Institute (BRI) for a pilot study exploring turning grape marc into hand sanitiser.

Grape marc is the stems and seeds leftover after pressing – which in Marlborough can total as much as 46,000 tonnes of waste per year.

The study would look to turn winery waste into ethanol. Any sanitiser made in the initial eight-month study would be bottled and donated to Marlborough health workers and first responders. . . 

Farmers feeling less pressure from banks Feds’ survey finds:

Farmers are feeling slightly more satisfied and less under pressure from their banks, the Federated Farmers May 2020 Banking Survey shows.

Responses to Research First from nearly 1,400 farmers found that the number feeling ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their bank lifted slightly from 68% to 69% in the past six months, and those feeling ‘under pressure’ dropped from 23% to 19%.

“Satisfaction had slipped as a trend since we started this twice-yearly survey in August 2015 and this is the first positive change since then,” Federated Farmers Vice-President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry rewarded by outstanding survey result :

A survey showing that New Zealanders rate horticulture more highly than any other part of the primary industry sector is rewarding for fruit and vegetable growers across the country. 

UMR research released today shows that horticulture continues to receive the highest positive rating of 65%.

HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman says he sees the result as a reward for the way fruit and vegetables are grown in New Zealand.

‘Our growers are some if not the best in the world.  Over the years, the New Zealand horticulture industry has invested heavily in meeting consumer demand for fresh, tasty and nutritious food that is grown, harvested and transported in environmentally sustainable and ways.  . . 

Affirmative action requires social licence


Māori and Pasifika are getting priority on elective surgery waiting lists:

Māori and Pasifika waiting for elective surgery have been placed at the top of wait lists in the Wellington region, in a move hoped to improve their access to healthcare.

A patient’s ethnicity will be now taken into account for specialist treatments, along with their level of clinical urgency and the number of days they have been on a wait list. . .

Māori and Pasifika are over-represented in negative health statistics which provides a case for some affirmative action, for example more money for Māori and Pasifika health research. But decisions on elective surgery should always be based on clinical grounds not ethnicity.

Race should never be a barrier but nor should it give privileges or special treatment, especially if, as in this case, it could come at the cost of other people’s health.

Affirmative action requires social license and that is in danger when special treatment for one group becomes discrimination against another.

It doesn’t help that this news comes in the wake of illegal road blocks set up by iwi and Monday’s nonsense about National’s shadow cabinet.

The last word on that goes to MPDan Bidois:

Maori, like all New Zealanders, deserve the respect of being judged on our merits and not on our skin color.

That is the promise of our country, the Treaty of Waitangi and our people – let’s focus on the things that matter and disregard the things that don’t.

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