Word of the day


Succiduous – ready to fall; falling.

Officer down


A police officer has been killed while on duty:

Statement from Commissioner Andrew Coster 

It is with a heavy heart that I confirm that one of our colleagues injured in the incident in Massey, West Auckland, today has died.

This is devastating news and absolutely the worst thing for us to deal with. We have lost a colleague and friend in our Police whānau.

Our thoughts are with the officer’s family and loved ones, and with the other officer and member of the public who were injured in the same incident and their loved ones.

From the information we have this was a routine traffic stop and is the type of work our officers do every day to keep the public safe. At this stage there is nothing to indicate that the job was going to be anything out of the ordinary.

At around 10.30am, a police unit has performed a routine traffic stop on Reynella Drive.

The attending officers were shot and a member of the public has also been hit by the vehicle.

The second officer and the member of the public are in hospital where they are being treated for their injuries. The member of the public has minor injuries and the officer has serious injuries.

The alleged offender has fled the scene and enquiries are ongoing to locate them.

While efforts to locate the offender are ongoing staff in Tāmaki Makaurau will be armed.

Our priority is to support our officers and to locate this alleged offender as soon as possible.

This incident points to the real risks our officers face on the streets, doing their jobs, every day.

Staff safety and welfare are our absolute priority and our whole organisation is in a state of shock after these horrific events.

Further information will be released as it becomes available.

This is a tragedy for the officer’s family, friends and colleagues.

Such killings are rare but this is a reminder of the danger police face every day and night.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Rural communities under threat from carbon off-setting farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural communities are being hollowed out as carbon investors buy up farm land at prices well over those farmers might pay, Pahiatua sheep and beef farmer Lincoln Grant says.

School closures were just one symptom of the trend towards increased pine plantations on former sheep and beef farms, he said. Tiraumea school, north of Masterton, is one school that closed its doors two years ago after changing land use led to dropping role numbers.

As farming families sold up and moved away, jobs went with them. . .

The challenge of meeting environmental rules – Peter Burke:

Complying with new and stricter environmental requirements is for farmers a major challenge worldwide.

When Rural News reporter Peter Burke was in Ireland last year, he met up with Professor Tommy Boland of University College Dublin (UCD) who, like colleagues in NZ, is looking to find practical solutions that farmers can use to reduce their environmental footprint and somehow meet the new standards of policy makers and politicians.

Tommy Boland has been to New Zealand several times and understands the situation in this country.

He says both countries are recognised for their efforts and achievements in environmental pasture-based meat, milk and fibre production, while leading the way in developing new approaches to ensuring future sustainability. . .   

Study beefs up meat’s importance:

New research highlights value of New Zealand’s red meat sector as the industry launches its general election manifesto. 

The red meat sector’s contributes $12 billion in income to the economy and employs almost 5% of the full-time workforce.

The study commissioned by the Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb shows the meat processing and exporting sector is also responsible for $4.6b in household income and represents a fifth of New Zealand’s productive sector. 

The release of the research by S G Heilbron Economic and Policy Consulting coincides with B+LNZ and the MIA launching a joint manifesto ahead of the election.  . . 

Terrible news: the avocado crime gangs are about to strike again – Hayden Donnell:

For four years running, at the exact same time of year, New Zealand has been savaged by gangs of avocado thieves. Hayden Donnell sounds the alarm about the country’s most predictable crisis.

They come every year like clockwork. As winter starts to bite, and our summer produce hits its peak price point, the thieves rouse themselves and head out to pillage. They always have the same target. They usually have the same MO. In the dead of night, they steal our avocados.

This year, their timing couldn’t be worse. Most New Zealanders are still reeling from the Covid-19 lockdown. We’re slowly readjusting to normal life: blinking like stunned owls at the white lights of the newly reopened retail stores. Struggling to remember the way to our offices. The last thing we need is another crisis. . .

Silver Fern Farms no available direct to customers with Gourmet Direct partnership:

Silver Fern Farms’ full retail range of natural, grass-fed, premium red meat products are now available to be ordered online and delivered direct to consumers across New Zealand thanks to a new partnership with Gourmet Direct, a nationwide e-commerce business specialising in premium New Zealand meat products.

Silver Fern Farms’ Group Marketing Manager, Nicola Johnston says the partnership with Gourmet Direct was a natural fit, with online shopping becoming more popular than ever following the Covid-19 lockdown.

“At Silver Fern Farms we are thrilled to partner with Gourmet Direct, who have developed a loyal customer base which values their selection of premium meats, product quality and superior customer service. . . 

Rail supporting Hawke’s Bay drought relief:

KiwiRail is helping the drought relief effort by shifting stock feed for free from the South Island to parched farms in Hawke’s Bay.

“On top of the Covid-19 crisis, the prolonged drought in parts of the North Island has put some farmers and stock under great stress,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.

“We move dairy products, beef, lamb, horticulture and viticulture for the rural sector so it is one of our most important customers, and we’re pleased to support it now at this time of need. . . 


Feeling reassured?


On Wednesday when the omnishambles over border bungles and quarantine mismanagement was exposed, Jacinda Ardern told us that it wasn’t acceptable and she was sending in the military:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has sent in a military leader to review and oversee border quarantining following the bungle which saw two women granted compassionate leave without taking Covid-19 tests. . .

She appointed assistant chief of defence Air Commodore Darryn Webb to review and oversee border management from here on out.

“We need the rigour, we need the confidence, and we need the discipline that the military can provide,” Ardern said.

He would be able to use the military to make sure the border was being properly handled. . . 

We ought to have been reassured by that but last night Newshub told us he had already been in charge:

Newshub has learned Air Commodore Darryn ‘Digby’ Webb, who was recently appointed to manage the border, isn’t so new after all.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Webb would take charge of protecting New Zealand’s borders on Tuesday.

However, he has actually been “responsible” for a while. A spokesman confirming, he “started four weeks ago”. 

Therefore Webb was already in charge when the two women with COVID-19 were allowed to leave quarantine under a compassionate exemption. . .

Why didn’t Ardern tell us this on Wednesday?

Did she forget? Did she deliberately omit the relevant information? Did she mean to mislead us?

We keep being told what a good communicator Ardern is but this is at the very best very poor communication.

It might be a stretch too far to say she lied. But what she did could be called lying by omission and whether or not it was intentional the very clear picture she gave was that Webb’s appointment was new.

Webb is now the “senior responsible officer for isolation, quarantine and repatriation” for the “all of Government response”, the department in charge of fighting COVID-19. . . 

He has lots of experience coordinating rescue efforts across the Pacific, but his latest job- another rescue mission- is saving the Government’s reputation. 

The reference to reputation is the reporter’s words not the government’s but their reputation is inextricably linked with this omnishambles.

Until recently any criticism of the response to Covid-19 has been regarded little short of heresy, but no longer.

The hard and early phrase they keep repeating is nothing more than spin.

They were slow to act, late at closing the borders, soft on people coming in and later still at requiring people to quarantine or be in managed isolation.

Then they went too hard – using the arbitrary definition of essential in classifying which businesses could operate rather than any that could operate safely to do so.

Complaints over access to personal protective equipment were met with repeated denials but the Auditor General’s report  has subsequently shown they were valid and that The Ministry of Health had no idea how much personal protective equipment (PPE) it had, how much it needed, what had expired and how it should be distributed,

Complaints over the supply of testing equipment and access to tests were also met with repeated denials, as were complaints about inadequate supply of flu vaccines. These complaints too were later proven to be right.

The move down a level was delayed because contact tracing wasn’t good enough.

Media reports of poor practices in isolation hotels went unheeded until this week when the extent of the omnishambles became too great to ignore.

The response to that was the announcement that the military was taking over but any reassurance that should have given us has been undermined by the omission from that announcement of the important piece of information that the military was already involved.

Feeling reassured the government understands the sacrifices we’ve all made, the high cost we’ve all paid and is doing everything possible to ensure that’s not thrown away by poor practices that will allow imported infection to spread?

I’m not.

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