Word of the day


Latibulating – hiding in a corner until conditions improve.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Towns rally for a howl of a protest – Neal Wallace:

More than 40 towns and cities from Kaitaia to Invercargill will reverberate to the sounds of tractors and utilities on July 16, as farmers and tradies protest multiple government policies.

Howl of a Protest is organised by pressure group Groundswell NZ, which says it is standing up for farmers, food producers, contractors, tradies and councils against what they claim to be a host of unworkable rules imposed by central government.

Organiser Laurie Paterson cannot say how many people will participate but says interest in the movement and the protest is growing with people frustrated by the deluge of government policy.

“They are sick of the avalanche of unworkable rules being dumped on them and the idea is to make a statement,” Paterson said. . . 

Rural group’s ‘wild conspiracy theories’ criticised

A Southern mayor and Federated Farmers president are alarmed a rural action group is taking advantage of valid concerns to push “wild conspiracy theories”.

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson and Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan attended an Agricultural Action Group (AAG) meeting in Balclutha last Wednesday, which Mr Patterson described as “unsettling and unhelpful”.

About 200 attended.

The former New Zealand First list MP said the content of the meeting conflated “valid concerns” of rural communities about current government policy with “wild conspiracy theories“. . .

Good work ethic goes a long way – Rebecca Greaves:

Hard work and personal drive led Joe McCash to take out the Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition recently. Rebecca Greaves reports.

Demonstrating a high level of personal drive helped Joe McCash over the line in a Hawke’s Bay shepherd competition.

Combined with his experience across multiple farming systems, it set him apart from other competitors to win the Rural Directions Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition.

Joe, 25, has been shepherding at Te Aratipi Station, a sheep and beef farm in the Maraetotara Valley, near Waimarama Beach, in Hawke’s Bay for 18 months.

Employed by Ed and Ro Palmer, Joe is focused on the stock side of the business. “I’d say it’s 90% stock work, all the handling, rotations, general yard work.” . . 

This Raglan couple rolled up their sleeves to transform their 14ha block into a tiny-home retreat – Nadene Hall:

There’s no power, no phone lines, and no cellphone coverage. It’s hilly to steep, mostly covered in trees, and ends at a cliff-face. The grass quality isn’t great, so there’s no point grazing stock, even if its vegetarian owners wanted to.

But this block just southwest of Raglan is a profit-making venture for Tara Wrigley and Guillaume Gignoux, thanks to hard work and a little serendipity.

They run Tiny House Escapes, with three unique accommodation options. There’s the LoveNest, a little cabin at the top of the property surrounded by a pine forest; the LoveBus, a converted bus that sits in a paddock with expansive ocean views; and the Treehouse, one of the most wish-listed places on Airbnb NZ. . .

New scientific officer passionate about solutions to N loss :

Ravensdown has appointed Dr Will Talbot to the newly created position of Scientific Officer, supporting the Chief Scientific Officer Ants Roberts in an ongoing programme of innovative science and technology projects.

Will brings strong soil knowledge to the innovation challenge from his undergraduate agricultural science and post graduate soil science studies as well as lecturing at Lincoln University in soil erosion, cultivation and physical properties.

It was through Ravensdown’s many projects with Lincoln that Will saw first-hand the co-operative’s innovative approach to solving production and environmental challenges simultaneously. . . 

New Zealand horticulture exports resilient in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic:

New Zealand horticulture exports weathered the effects of COVID-19 to reach new heights, climbing to a record-breaking $6.6 billion in the year ending 30 June 2020. This is an increase of $450 million from the previous year, and more than 11% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.

Plant & Food Research and Horticulture New Zealand publish ‘Fresh Facts’ annually to provide key statistics that cover the whole of New Zealand’s horticulture industries. According to latest edition, the value of the total New Zealand horticulture industry exceeded $10 billion for the first time in 2020.

New Zealand horticultural produce was exported to 128 countries in 2020. The top five markets were Continental Europe, Japan, the USA, Australia and China. Exports to Asia were $2.76 billion, 42% of total NZ horticulture exports. . . 

Celebrating primary sector people and innovation :

The Primary Industry New Zealand (PINZ) Awards are all about acknowledging and celebrating teams, individuals and organisations that are leading the way towards a better future through investing in science, innovation and communities.

“We were proud to be a finalist in three out of the seven categories – it’s real recognition of the leadership and innovation across our Ballance team,” says Mark Wynne, Ballance Agri-Nutrients CEO.

“The competition was tough in each category, highlighting the depth of talent and drive within the sector, and making the fact we and Hiringa Energy won the award for Innovation & Collaboration and Surfing for Farmers won the Team award even more fulfilling, knowing we were up against the best of the best.” . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey


Shane Reti on vaccines, travel bubble, and cyber security


Nathan Rarere interviewed National’s Deputy Leader, Shane Reti.


It’s good to hear from someone who understands what matters and knows what he’s talking about.

‘”meh, we’ll go whenever” approach’ costing us all


Tim Watkins says the government’s lax approach to vaccination is costing us:

From “go hard and go early” in March last year, we seem to have slumped into a “meh, we’ll go whenever” approach.

The argument is made by some that we are taking a measured approach, waiting to see how the vaccines work elsewhere, waiting our turn as a relatively healthy patient in a sick world.

And it’s true we can’t – and wouldn’t want to – demand more of Pfizer when the rest of the world is in such desperate need.

That is debatable. Eric Crampton explains:

For those who worry about stealing vaccines from places that might need it more, fear not. The Government could contract for twice as much as New Zealand might need, with extra doses to be sent to poorer countries via COVAX.

Richer countries paying now helps build more production lines for delivering a lot more vaccine to the whole world in a far bigger hurry. It would leave the world much better prepared for new variants as they emerge. Far from being stingy about such things, economists have urged governments to spend a lot more to get vaccines rolled out and broadly distributed far more quickly.

Back to Watkins:

As far as the Pfizer drug goes, we get what we’re given when they’re ready to give it.

But that doesn’t stop us from doing what we can do much better and with much more urgency. Like preparing for the next vaccine. Or testing properly. Or getting the highest risk New Zealanders vaccinated pronto.

Urgency matters, leadership experts will tell you, not because fast is always best. Urgency creates a focus and discipline. It means moving towards a priority, an end goal with a clear plan and markers of success along the way.

The point of operating with urgency is to work with intention and to inform your priorities. And it helps make clear to people that there’s danger in the status quo and value in change. That attitude will help build national unity and dissolve vaccine hesitancy.

Yet in response after response, urgency is lacking. The trend is clear. And while we can be grateful New Zealanders aren’t dying, many are suffering as a result.

More and more this looks at least as much as if it’s due to good luck rather than good management.

After initial promises of urgency, saliva testing has slipped by the wayside.

Last year the critical Simpson-Roche report (initial report delivered September, final report only made public in December) urged the government to get on with it “as soon as possible”.

Saliva testing provides for more and easier Covid-19 testing.

In May, Asia Pacific Healthcare Group (APHG) was given $50 million to do 20,000 saliva tests of MIQ staff per week. How many had it done as of July? The NZ Herald says 394 and Newshub 386, but either way it’s hopeless. The company is keen to go but the government seems to be holding it back. . .

Then there’s the shortage of workers:

New Zealand companies are in dire straits, to the point where this week restaurants turned off their lights as a protest in frustration at the lack of help getting immigrant workers into the country.

Many businesses need workers or will close. Existing staff are being over-worked and fear losing their jobs.

It’s a pressure we’ve known about since borders were first closed, yet still, the shortages remain unresolved.

One place we could have housed newly arriving migrant workers – and refugees and more returning New Zealanders – would have been in purpose-built quarantine centres. If they had been started last year.

The idea of building special centres was debated as far back as last year’s election; I argued on the Caucus podcast at the time that it was probably inevitable and it made sense to make a start.

Yet this week has Hipkins suggesting the government are only now considering taking a look at acting on this idea.

Only taking a look and only doing it now? That’s late and lax again.

What about New Zealanders aged over 60, who were placed firmly at the front of the queue when it came to vaccinations?

This week the NZ Herald reported that “62.8 percent (696,198) of older Kiwis [60 and over] haven’t received a vaccine, 15.4 percent (171,379) have only had one jab and 21.8 percent (241,843) have had both.”

I phoned to make a booking for a 91 year-old yesterday after finding he’d had no notice and no help from his GP’s surgery where he was told they knew no more than he did. The woman who answered the phone couldn’t be faulted for her determination to help but the first available spot was on September 1.

The vaccination itself, by most reports and in most parts of the country, is a simple and quick experience. But the macro picture doesn’t look good.

And as if to underline this lack of urgency, the Canterbury DHB has just said it intends to vaccinate group 4 in September, rather than late July as nationally planned.

From ‘go hard and go early’ to ‘too little, too late’

The government has lost its sense of urgency and in doing so has lost its way with its response to the pandemic.

Its “direction of travel” has become slow and unclear.

And in this case, the political is personal.

Kiwis ranked in group 3 are eligible for vaccinations now and I’ve understood that to be those 65 and over, pregnant women, disabled people and those with underlying health conditions.

But I’ve never seen or heard those “underlying conditions” spelled out.

If you go on the Ministry of Health website it says it is for those eligible for the publicly-funded flu vaccine. That means nothing to me, so imagine my surprise when I was on RNZ’s Sunday Panel with fellow-asthmatic Penny Ashton and she said she was off for her jab. It turns out that if you use a daily inhaler, as I do, you’re eligible.

But I have received no text or email telling me I’m group 3, even though the Auckland DHB’s website says people like me are meant to be sent “invitations”.

I had to ask my GP if I fit the bill because I’d had no information from him, as some reports say I should, and as the only health professional who knows my medications.

In this, however, I seem to be in good company, with many eligible people not being contacted. While some ineligible people are.

So far this increasingly lax approach has not cost us lives, but it is costing us.

As examples of complacency build up, it is time Labour rediscovered the sense of urgency it showed in those first hectic weeks of the pandemic last year.

Could it be, as Peter Dunne says:

Since it won a stunning election victory last year on the back of Covid-19, is the government now looking to keep the spectre of Covid-19 well and truly alive until 2023?

We are certainly not at the front of the vaccination queue as the government boasted last year.

I can think of only two reasons for being so far towards the back of the queue: either, as Dunne suggests, a deliberate political ploy, or plain and ismple incompetence.

Whichever it is we’re all paying a very high cost for the slow and shambolic rollout of the vaccines and the lack of a plan for what happens once most of us are vaccinated.

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