Word of the day


Transpontine –  on or from the other side of an ocean, in particular the Atlantic as viewed from Britain; on or from the other side of a bridge; across, on the far side of, or beyond a bridge.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Pandemic disruption highlights challenges looming for farming – Anna Campbell:

Walk into any New Zealand supermarket and life feels pretty normal. The shelves are filled with staples of bread and toilet paper and there is the usual melee of highly packed and processed products vying for attention.

Normality, though, hides the continued disruption many New Zealand food producers and manufacturers face as they experience delays in ingredient and product transport and associated increasing costs.

I have heard of New Zealand companies bringing more of their production processes back on-shore in an effort to mitigate supply chain uncertainty, and many companies are having to buy ingredients in large amounts, at increased costs, to ensure continued supply.

Internationally, food access continues to cause major problems. . . 

Pick Nelson campaign calls on Kiwis to help out with the summer harvest – Tim Newman:

A new campaign is calling on Kiwis to head to Nelson to fill the hundreds of jobs available for the summer harvest in the region.

The Pick Nelson Tasman campaign was launched by Project Kōkiri this week, part of a collaboration between local government, iwi, and business organisations to respond to the economic fallout of Covid-19.

Project Kōkiri spokesman Johny O’Donnell said while the region was renowned for growing some of the world’s best produce, some estimates suggested Nelson/Tasman’s horticulture industry was facing a shortfall of more than 1600 workers.

“These jobs used to be primarily filled by travellers and international workers, but while our borders remain closed there’s a big shortage of staff. . . 


Cheese nomenclature in spotlight – Ashley Smyth:

Does a feta by any other name taste as good?

This is the conundrum facing New Zealand cheesemakers, who may have to change the names of some of their cheese varieties, if the European Union (EU) gets its way.

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association spokesman and Whitestone Cheese managing director Simon Berry said the topic has come about because of Brexit, and the EU opening up for trade negotiations with “the world”.

“So now our trade ministers are meeting with the UK as well as the EU, and the EU has turned around and said ‘OK, if we’re renegotiating, we now want to protect these names’ . . . and they’ve come out with a list,” Mr Berry said. . .

Repairs connect lavender farm with the world – Rebecca Ryan:

When you live in Danseys Pass, you have to be prepared for anything and take whatever happens on the chin, Jo and Barry Todd say.

After flooding closed Danseys Pass Rd for almost a month at the peak of the lavender season, Mr and Mrs Todd were pleased to finally be able to welcome visitors back to their lavender farm and shop this week. The Waitaki District Council reopened the road on Monday.

The couple started Danseys Pass Lavender on their 4ha property in 2009 and had seen it all living in remote North Otago; they had been snowed in, and flooding had taken out bridges on either side of their home in previous years.

They did not get too stressed about having no customers for almost a month — they had started the business as a way to keep busy as they reached retirement age. . . 

Easing into vineyard ownership – Ashley Smyth:

Kurow is a familiar stomping ground for Alisa Nicholls, but she and husband Paul are venturing into unfamiliar territory by taking the reigns at River-T Estate.

“It’s a completely new industry for us. We’re just sort of taking it all in,” Mrs Nicholls said last week.

The pair took over the vineyard and cellar door from the original owners, Karen and Murray Turner, on January 21 and are easing themselves into their new lifestyle.

“We’re really lucky Karen and Murray are sticking around until February 8, so we’re just sort of learning from them, which is great … they’ve been very helpful.” . . 

Regional Australia ‘should not pay bill for climate target’  – John Ellicott:

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has backed his Nationals leader, saying agriculture had already done much of the heavy lifting on limiting carbon pollution and should not be hit in any future climate target process.

On the weekend Nationals leader Michael McCormack said Australia should follow New Zealand and cut agriculture from any possible 2050 zero emissions taxes or penalties as this would hurt regional Australian communities.

Any move forward to control carbon pollution had to be done through technology advances, he said.

“Well what we need to make sure is that we don’t disproportionately affect regional Australia,” he told Sky News. . . 

Yes Sir Humphrey


Karen Chhour’s maiden speech


Act MP Karen Chhour delivered her maiden speech yesterday.

It will surprise those who think only those on the left of politics know what it is like to grow up in poverty.

KAREN CHHOUR (ACT): Thank you, Mr Speaker. We often don’t have the hard conversations that are needed for many reasons. They are too hard to hear or we don’t want to face the truth that things are not as they should be. I’ve come into this role, knowing that I’m going to have to have some of these hard conversations about the care of our children in this country. In an ideal world, we would not need someone like me to stand here and say New Zealand deserves better; unfortunately, that’s what I’m having to do. I’ve watched over the years as Governments, past and present, tiptoe around issues that are so important to the average New Zealander. I’ve waited for a Government that had the courage to stand up and start saying what needed to be said; unfortunately, this never seems to happen. For years I’ve never really told my story, as I was ashamed of it. As I got older, I realised, unless we are honest with ourselves about our past, we cannot move forward. So here it goes.

I myself was born in Australia and brought to New Zealand by my mother when I was around a year old. I was taken to live with my grandparents in Kaeō. Life was simple, power and running water was not a thing, and, unfortunately, neither was indoor plumbing, but I was in a loving environment, which was the most important thing. I was moved to Auckland to live with my mother when it was time for me to start school. This is when my life changed. My mother had just got married and was starting a new life, and now they were taking on a child they didn’t really know at all. To the outside world, we looked like the perfect family, but, unfortunately, nothing could have been further from the truth. Life got so bad that, by the age of nine, I didn’t think I was going to survive to the age of 10. It was around this time that I ran away from home and cried out for help. Unfortunately, my cries for help went unheard and I was sent back into the same situation that I had run away from. Around this time, my mother’s marriage was ending and, eventually, she ended up on the DPB.

What was going on at home was affecting me in my day-to-day life in many ways. I was quiet and reserved and easily upset. This made me a target for bullies. The bullying got so bad in intermediate that it was decided it was best for me to leave, rather than dealing with the problem. How often have we heard that? I felt alone, with nowhere to turn, in a system that had let me down in so many ways. So I kept to myself and tried hard to simply stay unnoticed. By this stage in my life, my mental health was in the toilet and I was at the point where I didn’t know if I wanted to wake up the next day. The simple truth is I was at rock bottom.

This is when a lady by the name of Donna noticed something was not right. She came to me and asked me one simple question: “Are you OK?” Donna offered me a lifeline that day—one I knew I had to choose. One night I ran and ended up on her doorstep, with just the shirt on my back, and she took me in, no questions asked. Now, this is was my second experience with the system. They organised family group conferences and tried to find members of my family that would take me in. My mental health did not seem to be of a concern to them. I was made to feel like a burden. Their questions made me feel like I was to blame, and I was being labelled a trouble-maker.

Time went by and, even though I loved living at Donna and Clarke’s, I knew I couldn’t stay there forever, so I started to ask questions. This is when a social worker told me, “I’m sorry, none of your family wants you.” I asked whether I could go back to my grandmother and was told, “Your grandmother can’t take you again—it’s too hard for her.” I spent years resenting my grandmother for this, and it was only when I got older that I found out she had begged social services to have me, only to be told she was too old. Can you imagine being a child and hearing from a social worker that nobody—not even your family—wants you? I have lived with these words my whole life.

The system needs to learn that children are not just a number or a problem to be got rid of. They have minds and hearts of their own, and our words can break them. Eventually, I was placed with a family member that did their best, but I always knew that I was forced on them and I never felt welcome. I was a teen moving around from relative’s houses to friend’s couches, and back with my mother when I had nowhere else to go. I was bounced from pillar to post, and, by the time I was 14, I had moved schools seven times. I could not keep up, so I did what so many have done before, and I simply dropped out. I got a job and I saved what I could, and eventually I moved into a flat and became completely independent. I worked graveyard shifts at McDonalds while I tried to continue my education by day, doing a course. I drank a bit, I cried a lot, but I was doing OK.

One night I promised myself that, if I ever had a family of my own, I would never allow them to go through what I went through. Yes, I made mistakes—I was young—but it was then that I decided to take on every opportunity I could to try and better myself. I have worked hard over the years to make something of my life that my children can be proud of. It has not always been easy. I’m grateful to my husband, Ming, who has stood by me through all the tough times. We started our family earlier than expected: having our first child at 18. Ming found a job as a compressor mechanic and supported me while I searched for work. Once the baby was born, I worked nights at any job I could find. Eventually, Ming managed to find an apprenticeship in telecommunications. That apprenticeship has led to so many opportunities for us. I won’t pretend it was easy. The hours were long and the income was low, but he is now a project manager in his field.

Marriage came and then a second child. Then a year later we had saved enough to buy our first home. It wasn’t much, but it was ours, and it was so much more than just a house. It was the happy home that I had never had. Two more children followed, and we ended up living there for 15 years until we could finally afford the house we’re in now.

I worked many jobs over the years to help where I could, but all I wanted was to be home for my kids. So I stopped working and started helping my mother-in-law with her business. I sourced work and helped prepare clothes for deliveries. In return, she taught me how to sew. This was amazing as it allowed me the time to do things I wanted with my children, while learning a new skill. I’ve spent the last seven years volunteering with the St John Youth programme, holding the position of assistant divisional manager for five of those years. Over the years I’ve been that mother in the classroom, helping with reading groups, school trips, and anywhere else I was needed. And when we moved into our bigger home, I took the skills my mother-in-law taught me and became self-employed in the New Zealand – made clothing industry.

This brings me to today. Over the years, I’ve watched and listened to people in my community telling me their stories. It became clear to me that the system has not got any better than when I experienced it. In fact, it’s getting worse. My heart would break because I could relate so much to what they were saying, but I felt there was nothing I could do to help them. I’ve watched so many promises being made to improve the system, but it seemed that every time a promise was made, they changed the name but not much else. Whether it be Child, Youth and Family, Ministry for Vulnerable Children, or now Oranga Tamariki, it’s the same system with a new letterhead. This simply isn’t good enough.

I am one of the lucky ones. I had people that helped me believe in myself just enough that I could see my way out. It’s because of them I am able to stand here today and say enough is enough. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing. Society needs to take a stand and decide what is acceptable and what is not. I had the privilege of giving a similar speech to an audience during the election campaign and I’m going to say the same thing I said to them. It is high time the Government stopped the lip service and did something that actually helps the people that need it the most. Governments past and present have spent years avoiding making any real meaningful decisions, but at least we can now say we’ve had an inquiry into abuse in State care.

The royal commission report is a good thing. It brings some closure to the victims and I am grateful that these people have been given the opportunity to speak up and finally have a voice. But does this report really tell us anything we did not already know? Now we need more than just words. Apologies only go so far and cannot be taken seriously when what we apologise for is still happening.

I stand here today not only as a survivor of abuse as a child but a survivor of our system’s abuse. It is time we said what needs to be said: enough is enough and we won’t tolerate it any more. We must focus on our most vulnerable, our children. Parents are grownups. They can make their own choices and decisions. Our children don’t have the ability to make big choices yet, and they shouldn’t need to. They deserve our guidance and protection.

ACT thinks this can’t really take place while there’s such a focus on race and culture in an organisation delivering that protection. As I recently said, when Grainne Moss stood down as Oranga Tamariki chief executive, ethnicity and culture should not be how we decide what’s in the best interest of our children. Oranga Tamariki should be colour-blind and open to whatever will ensure a child’s wellbeing and safety. It is not a one-size-fits-all thing, and having legislation that tries to make it that way doesn’t work for our children.

If that means placing a vulnerable child into a home of a family who desperately want to love and care for them, rather than doing everything possible to place their child back into a family that made them vulnerable in the first place, then that should be the solution. As someone who has experienced three elements of placement—non-family who wanted me, family who didn’t, an extended family who did—I can tell you, as a young person you’ll take love, compassion, stability wherever you can find it. That’s why ACT believes Oranga Tamariki needs reform, just not in the way the reform looks likely to be done under this Government. But who knows? They might listen to me.

We actually need to set up a better system of support for people in this country, proper care for survivors so they can move forward with the hope of a better life. I’m really concerned, if we don’t do something fast, our next generation is going to suffer in ways we can’t comprehend. For years, I’ve been frustrated watching the numbers for homelessness, child poverty, and mental health rise. There seemed to be no party that was willing to have an open and honest discussion around these issues. I want to have these conversations and work to find a solution that is more than just throwing money at the problem.

We need to set up targeted help and put that money where it is needed the most. I think we spend far too much time on the -isms in this country: racism, sexism, and classism. I firmly believe that they can be used as weapons to distract us from the important issues instead of focusing on what needs to be done in these areas. The consequence of constantly putting labels on things seems to be that we’ve created an environment where expectations are lowered and personal responsibility is no longer a requirement. I want to focus on people being the best they can be and celebrate their successes in these areas instead of constantly focusing on the negatives that give these people the platform they desire.

I myself have been on the receiving—oh, please don’t misunderstand me when I say this; I know these things happen—end of bullying for some of these very reasons. I was judged when I was younger, sometimes very openly, about just being another Māori dropout that would never get anywhere in life. I soon learnt that it did not matter how hard I worked to improve myself. If someone wants to, they will always find a reason to try and drag you down. We cannot just accept that this is OK, but we also can’t let this distract us from reaching our goals. We cannot afford to get this stuff wrong any more. Our next generation is relying on us to learn from the past and get better.

That’s why I’m proud to be standing here as a member of the ACT Party team. They are willing to look at issues from an understanding of what’s good for the country and not just what’s good for the party. I would like to thank everyone who voted to support us and look forward to serving you and all New Zealanders in the years to come. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Wrong & dishonourable


Trevor Mallard is entitled to be could the Right Honourable.

His allegations that a parliamentary staffer was a rapist, allowing the saga to drag on and only making a very belated apology months later, after litigation and a payment of more than $300,000 for his own and the staffer’s legal costs were wrong and dishonourable.

National moved a vote of no confidence in him yesterday.

Shadow leader of the House Chris Bishop said the attempt to out Mallard was “a matter of principle”.

“We’re very clear that his behaviour is not up to the job of the Speaker.

“It’s just simply not appropriate to have the Speaker of the House besmirching the dignity of Parliament in the way that he has and failing to uphold the standards of the House that he himself is in charge of enforcing,” said Bishop. . . .

The vote wasn’t allowed.

National will try again today but are very unlikely to win.

That might not be all bad for the opposition because it will ensure the matter continues to fester and provide them with opportunities to point out that in opposing the motion Mallard’s Labour colleagues are neither honourable nor right too.

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