Word of the day


Narghile – a Middle Eastern tobacco pipe in which the smoke is drawn through water before reaching the lips; an oriental tobacco pipe with a long flexible tube connected to a container where the smoke is cooled by passing through water; hookah.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


What’s going on in Southland? – Peter Burke:

It is hard to fathom exactly what’s going to happen in Southland in light of the impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations.

There is clearly great mistrust on the part of Federated Farmers of Environment Minister David Parker, with Feds provincial vice president Bernadette Hunt saying they can’t get through to him on the issue of winter grazing.

It is no secret that Labour has an equal mistrust of Feds, frequently referring to them as the National Party in gumboots.

Feds see some aspects of the new freshwater regulations as unworkable and in this they are right. Furthermore, they question why such a law was passed with basic errors of fact.

Time to put mental health preparedness into action – Elle Perriam:

Being aware of mental health issues is admirable but sometimes it’s not enough, the founder of Will to Live charity, Elle Perriam says.

“I sort of don’t like to say mental health awareness as much because I think there is a lot of awareness out there – but awareness really means nothing to us unless we put it in to action” Perriam told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Perriam was no stranger to mental health battles herself, founding Will to Live after she lost her partner to suicide in 2017.

She suggested checking in on farmer friends this week and instead of asking them how they’re going – ask them if they’re happy. . . 

Lincoln PhD student receives prestigious Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award :

A Lincoln University PhD student has received this year’s Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award for her work in protecting crops from drought.

Laura Keenan, 28, received the prestigious award at a ceremony at the Kate Sheppard Memorial Wall on Worcester St in Christchurch on Saturday.

Keenan completed an honours degree in Agricultural Science at Lincoln University graduating in 2014. She worked within the area firstly with Soil Matters in Canterbury and then Agricom in Palmerston North before starting her PhD study at Lincoln University in June 2020.

Her PhD is focused on creating a tool that will help with predicting yield and the quality of several plants and herbs included in pasture mixes across New Zealand with the goal of improving drought resilience and feed supply for farmers. . . 

New tech to cut rural energy costs – Annette Scott:

An innovative new player in rural electricity supply has commissioned its first investor-owned solar system on a North Canterbury dairy farm. Solagri Energy Ltd founders share their business journey with Annette Scott.

NEW Zealand dairy farms can now get solar electricity and large-scale battery storage on-farm with zero capital outlay.

Solagri Energy Ltd, a new and innovative player in rural electricity supply, has commissioned its first investor-owned solar array and large-scale lithium ion battery system on a North Canterbury dairy farm.

Co-founders Peter Saunders and Hamish Hutton just happen to be cousins with their business idea stemming around a family campfire. . . 

Challenge to keep pastures resilient – Richard Rennie:

Commercial plant breeders are united in efforts to help deliver New Zealand farmers better options when it comes to selecting for more resilient pastures in years to come.

Head of Barenbrug’s plant breeding team Courtney Inch says the challenge in NZ, being a relatively small market on a global scale, is having enough capital to invest in developing commercially viable pastures for our market.

This is complicated by NZ being a relatively complex pastoral system, with climatic conditions in Southland for example quite dissimilar to those in Waikato, often requiring different feed types for a relatively small pastoral zone.

“But it is to the industry’s credit we are seeing some really good collaborative work being done now in this area of developing more resilient pastures,” he said. . . 

Superfines leading the charge in wool price spikes – Bruce McLeish:

The wool market surprised many participants last week, with a much stronger performance than expected.

While there had been some business done the previous week, and a positive tone was anticipated, it just got better and better as the week progressed.

A total offering across Australia of just under 30,000 bales – which these days is considered ‘on the large side’ – was keenly sought after, particularly at the finer end.

The Kiwi’s added to the total – with 3000 bales offered in Melbourne – and South Africa put up 6500 bales, almost all of which were consumed by a suddenly hungry wool trade. . . 

The only piece I will ever proffer is to share the pain


Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller tells his story for Mental Health Awareness Week:

Mental health challenges had always been other people’s issues. Being an MP introduced me to some of the challenging journeys that many in our community live, but I was fine, I never had an issue previously even when life and jobs had thrown me curveballs.

Then on the evening of May 27, while being driven back home from Auckland to Tauranga, I had a panic attack for the first time in my life. Sure, it had been a rough couple of days of media criticism, but I was heading home and had finished a couple of great conversations with mentors and supporters. I was looking forward to seeing my wife and kids before a day out in my electorate.

It started with an intense prickling sensation in my head, followed by what I would describe as “waves” of anxiety. I had never experienced these sensations before, despite having lived through some very high-pressured moments at Fonterra dealing with global food safety scares.

I tried to stem these sensations of dread by taking as many deep breaths as possible and forcing my mind to focus on something else, anything else. I managed to hold it together until I walked into my wife’s arms and broke down in a very deep and painful way.

As Michelle did many times over the subsequent 50 days, she comforted me, soothed these feelings of wretchedness with unconditional love and positivity. I awoke the next morning tired, but excited for the day that lay ahead.

The next weekend it came back again, this time with even more ferocity. Night sweats, a deep sensation of anxiety and nausea, shortness of breath and the ongoing prickly buzz and sense of tightening pressure in my head. That attack lasted 15 minutes, but the tightening pressure on my head stayed with me until the end. . . 

. . . In the end, the frequency and intensity of the panic attacks took me to a place where I had to step away from the fire, the anxiety and the pain.

I am now a few months on, and with the love of family, friends, and support from a specialist, I am recovering well.

I have had no panic attacks and the pressure in my head has abated, although it will take time to fully heal. I love my job as MP for Bay of Plenty and am really enjoying being back out connecting with the people I seek to serve.

I have been inundated with goodwill, humbled by random people congratulating me on my courage and in some cases asking for advice.

The recognition is not due, for while at the end I did walk away, I could. The greater courage is in those who deal with it even when it is harder to walk away.

In terms of advice, the only piece I will ever proffer is to share the pain.

Sharing personal experience like this helps remove the stigma that too often surrounds mental health issues and prevents people from seeking help.

Being open like this will help others who are dealing with similar problems and help those who aren’t, understand better those who are.

You can learn more about Mental Health Awareness Week here.


Yes Sir Humphrey


Govt pressure not in ‘world that has passed”


Labour leader Jacinda Ardern raised a lot of ire on social media for a comment she made when she interrupted National leader Judith Collins:

That is how a lot of people picked up the comment, though when you see the whole comment it is probably not what she meant.

“If I may, that feels like the view of the world that has passed. When I meet with our dairy sector, and I have to say our primary producers as a sector I’ve probably met with more than any other because of this important work, they absolutely see the need for us to be competitive in this environment.

“We’ve got Australian farmers now talking about climate change. There’s an inevitability here we have to face. But they are the ones talking about sustainability. They are the ones talking about regenerative farming.”

She might not have meant farming was in a world that had passed, but in interrupting Judith she missed the point she was making – that farmers were highly regarded when she was growing up on a dairy farm and now they are feeling anything but and that is due in part to government policies.

Southland dairy farmer Hadleigh Germann said the comment had been taken slightly out of context.

He didn’t believe Ardern was saying that farming was a sunset industry, but he said it was still insensitive to claim that farmers were over the sentiment Collins had highlighted.

“Farmers do feel a lot of weight and uncertainty are on them at the moment. I do believe she’s out of touch and to say that on the whole we’re quite positive about the current state affairs I don’t think is quite right.

It is quite wrong.

“These latest land and water plans have ignored the whole effort farmers having been putting in around our environmental footprint. It’s sort of ‘nice try but still not good enough so we’re re-setting the goalposts and shortening up the time you’ve got to achieve them’,” he said.

Many farmers were throwing up their hands and asking: “Now what?”

Taranaki sharemilkers Simon and Natasha Wilkes said that, while the comment might have been taken out of context, the rural community still felt “raw” about its treatment from Government.

“We feel we have continually been overwhelmed with comments, policies and forever changing goal posts. Farmers have been working so hard to implement environmental requirements, but it still feels like it will never be enough.

“At the end of the day, we work hard for our animals and land which provides for communities and our country and we want to work together to do the best we can,” they said. . . 

The water policies are typical of big-government thinking.

They have been imposed from the government down and are telling farmers what they can and can’t do and how they can do it,  rather than working with farmers to get effects-based rules then leaving them to work out how best to achieve the desired results.

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