Word of the day


Magniloquent – using high-flown or bombastic language; speaking in or characterised by a high-flown often bombastic style or manner;  speaking or expressed in a lofty or grandiose style; pompous; bombastic; boastful.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


All well and good – Sam Owen:

Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen has learned from experience about the importance of looking after his mental health. Sam shares his story and his tips for maintaining wellbeing.

An overwhelming sense of joy or happiness doesn’t sound like depression or anxiety, but to me this is one of my triggers. That’s because I know it will usually be followed by an impending sense of ‘the only way is down from here’.

My wife Jacqui and I are 50:50 sharemilkers. We live on-farm with our kids Abbie (13) and Rhys (11). We’re milking 260 cows on 70ha (effective), on the W and T van de Pas farm at Eureka, just east of Hamilton.

I’m a DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leader (DEL), and a board member for the Port Waikato School Camp. I’m very focused on getting young people into the sector. Jacqui is also a qualified lawyer who contributes time to the Rural Support Trust. Both of us are passionate ambassadors for mental health and wellbeing. . .

‘Blown away’ by response to wool petition – Sally Rae:

South Otago sheep and beef farmer Amy Blaikie has been “absolutely blown away” by the response to her wool petition.

In June, Mrs Blaikie launched a petition calling on the House of Representatives to ensure all publicly funded buildings and KiwiBuild homes were built or refurbished with New Zealand wool carpet and insulation.

Tomorrow, Mrs Blaikie, her husband Victor and their children are due to head to Wellington, where she has asked New Zealand First list MP and Lawrence farmer Mark Patterson to present the petition, which has been signed by more than 14,000 people.

She said she was not only overwhelmed by the number of signatures but also by the phone calls and communication she had received. . . 

Is regenerative agriculture the real deal – Keith Woodford:

Regenerative agriculture is in vogue as a concept but what does it really mean?

I often get asked my opinion about regenerative agriculture.  My standard rejoinder is to ask what does the questioner mean by ‘regenerative agriculture’? That typically gets a response that it is somewhat of a mystery to them, but it is a term they keep hearing, and supposedly it is the way we need to act to save the planet.  My next rejoinder is that I too am struggling to know what it means.

Then some two weeks ago I was asked to join a focus group for a research project looking into what regenerative agriculture means specifically in the New Zealand context. The project has considerable backing, including from the Government-funded ‘Our Land & Water National Science Challenge’.

I was unable to participate in the focus group on account of another commitment. But it did make me think it was time for me to do my own research and find out what the term actually stood for. . . 

Application for prestigious agricultural award open:

Being mentored by some of the greatest leaders in the Australasian agriculture industry might sound appealing, but how about travelling by private jet as part of the experience? This very opportunity will be available to one young Kiwi or Aussie again next year, when they take out the 2021 Zanda McDonald Award.

The search is once again on for talented young individuals across Australia and New Zealand, with registrations opening for the annual award today.

Now in its seventh year, the award recognises those who are passionate about agriculture, wanting to make a difference in their sector, and looking to take their career to the next level. There’s an impressive prize package up for grabs, that will put the winner in the passenger seat with some of the biggest and best agriculture operators across both countries, through the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) network. . .

A love letter to the mighty Mataura River :

Dougal Rillstone’s new book, Upstream in the Mataura details his 70-year fascination for the Mataura River from his childhood in Gore through until the present day. 

Rillstone said he became fascinated by the river when he was still a child and at that time it was a place of recreation for swimming and picnicking.

He said one particular incident is imprinted in his memory.

“A memory of swimming in the river, a place we called the bend just on the north side of Gore, on a flat calm pool into the evening, sun dropping and my father was swimming near me because I couldn’t really swim properly, but I was in the river up to my shoulders and trout started to rise all around us and I was totally mesmerised by it – it’s what I later came to realise is called the ‘mad Mataura rise’.” . . 


Farm biosecurity a good BVD insurance:

Biosecurity is high on most New Zealanders’ minds this year, thanks largely to Covid-19 and the need to keep it firmly on the country’s border edges to avoid it spreading throughout the community. For New Zealand farmers there is another disease that does not affect humans which can, also with good biosecurity, be avoided.

Estimates are about 80% of this country’s dairy and beef herds have been exposed to Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). Over the past decade as more herds have cleared it, they have again become susceptible, or “naïve”. This leaves them with no resistance to a disease that can account for a variety of undiagnosed ailments.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager says comprehensive control of BVD relies upon three key planks in any farm campaign – testing/culling, vaccination, and biosecurity. . . 

Ballance’s financial results are a positive sign for New Zealand primary sector:

New Zealand is looking to, and counting on, the primary sector to underpin our economy. The sector provides opportunities for thousands of kiwis every day.

Owned by 19,000 farming families, Ballance Agri-Nutrients is well positioned to support the sector to drive the prosperity of NZ with a strong balance sheet and another year of consistent farmer and grower rebates. Leading into 2021, the Ballance team continues their unrelenting focus on nutrient leadership and leading by science.

“I want to acknowledge all the individuals that come together to form the Ballance team, we are fortunate to have an extremely talented and passionate group focused on delivering value for our shareholders, customers and all kiwis,” says Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke. . . 

Pull No Punches




















A journalist phoned me a couple of days ago to say the National Party should serialise Judith Collins’ autobiography as a really positive contribution to the election campaign.

Having just finished reading it, I can understand why he said that.

The book begins with Judith’s childhood on a dairy farm. Hers was a typical post-war country childhood, growing up with little more than necessities in the material sense but rich in love.

Her parents were Labour voters. It was a confrontation with a union when she and her husband, David Wong Tong, owned a restaurant that turned her off that party. The union staff was there for the union, not the workers they were supposed to be representing.

Judith worked as a lawyer and set up her own firm before entering politics.

Her story shows some of the work good electorate MPs do for their constituents and the hard work they have to do in parliament, and even more in government. She also shows her appreciation of the party volunteers and the loyalty and service of electorate, parliamentary and ministerial staff.

Most people recognise Judith’s intelligent head, the book also shows her heart in a story told with wit and warmth.

Her final paragraph would be a good basis for an election manifesto:

That valuing of all is crucially important for New Zealand. With our small population, we can’t afford to have parts of the country feeling left out of our grand plans. We need to build a culture of tolerance, not of discord. Remember we are all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. Whether they came to New Zealand on waka or sailing ships or by plane, our ancestors all came here for a better life – and they all came to New Zealand for opportunity. They brought with them the resilience of my forebears, a drive and determination to make a difference. Let us embrace that as we live in our present.

This book should be compulsory reading for political tragics. It will be of interest to anyone who wants to learn about the person behind the politics and would be instructional for those who aren’t familiar with the good work of politicians that rarely, if ever, gets reported.

Pull No Punches by Judith Collins, published by Allen & Unwin.

Punishing performance


The Southern District Health Board could be punished for high performance:

The Southern District Health Board’s hard work to catch up on surgery postponed because of the Covid-19 lockdown may have backfired, as the organisation is still waiting to be told it will be paid for that work.

Without confirmation the Ministry of Health will pay for those operations, the SHDB might need to scale back how many surgeries it carried out to meet financial targets, chief executive Chris Fleming said in a report to the board.

“Other DHBs have delayed their recovery awaiting confirmation of funding, but we do not believe patients should have to wait simply while funding arrangements were sourced as this simply delayed patients further than necessary,” Mr Fleming said.

Doctors warned that cancelling all elective surgery during the lockdown could cost lives. Delaying operations further once the lockdown was lifted would not have been in the best interests of patients.

If we do not receive confirmation of this funding prior to the final audited results being produced, we will need to deteriorate our performance to not impact 2020-21.”

The SDHB quickly put a surgical recovery plan in place after the Covid-19 lockdown lifted.

The ministry had asked all DHBs to attempt to deliver up to 85% of planned surgery in June.

The SDHB, which postponed about 1200 operations during lockdown, not only achieved 100% of target, but also performed an extra 200 operations above target through initiatives such as running weekend clinics.

“This came at an outsourced cost of approximately $1.2 million,” Mr Fleming said.

“We have assumed that the volume in excess of our plan for the month will be able to be recovered from additional planned care revenue.”

However that has not been confirmed, leaving the SDHB’s already parlous finances further stretched — and meaning a question mark remained over whether it should continue to try to clear the backlog of procedures.

But Mr Fleming stood by the SDHB’s “assertive approach” to get as many people’s operations performed as quickly as possible. . . 

The DHB should not be punished for performing as it should for its patients.

Waiting lists for elective surgery can be weeks, and even months, at the best of times.

All of the people whose surgery was delayed would have been living with greater or lesser degrees of pain and/or disability, and/or potentially fatal diseases. Doing operations as soon as possible once the lockdown prohibition was lifted would have improved the quality of life for all those affected. It would have also lengthened lives for some and saved lives of others.

Delaying surgery further for people with debilitating, possibly fatal, conditions would have been inhumane and funding the extra work ought to be a government priority.

It would be much better use of scarce funds than projects that have received handouts through the Provincial Growth Fund‘s ‘treacle-ridden process’:

It’s been three years and despite many, many questions, New Zealanders still have no idea whether the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has created the jobs it was intended to, National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

Even if Shane Jones’ heroic projection of 10,000 jobs is realised, it will come at a cost to taxpayers of about $300,000 per job. This is incredibly poor value for money for taxpayers.

“But not only that, Shane Jones has turned out to be too incompetent to even to hand free taxpayers’ cash to his pet projects. So far, for every dollar committed, just 12.9 cents has been paid out. Even Shane Jones has admitted this is a ‘treacle-riddled process’. . . 

A government that purports to be kind ought to understand that when it comes to surgery to improve, and even save, lives and a treacle-ridden process, there is no contest.

One should be regarded as a core government function. The other is thinly-disguised vote-buying.


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