Word of the day


Totalise – treat something as having one character, principle, or application; to make total; combine into a total; add up; total.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Keeping sheep out of the sunset – Paul Burt:

With more than 30 years of sheep farming behind him, Paul Burt hopes to see a halt in the decline of the industry.

When you stick at something long enough you witness a world of change. In 1988 farms were relatively cheap (ridiculously so in hindsight) but with interest rates at 20% my brother and I didn’t have enough capital to make the risk worth taking. 

Lamb prices were depressed but we saw an opportunity in a big lease block and tendered for it on the basis of an all-wool, low-input policy. Shearing costs were 10% of the value of a full fleece. We made the shortlist but eventually missed out. The ROR was potentially very good but it’s crystal ball gazing to guess where a successful bid might have taken us.

It wasn’t too many years after that I attended a presentation about the economic potential for keratin powder made by reducing wool fibre to it’s base components. It was a surprise to see in last weeks’ press, the process being reclaimed as a breakthrough.  . . 

North Otago farmer positive about region – Sally Rae:

North Otago Sustainable Land Management’s long-serving chairman Peter Mitchell recently stood down from the position. He talks to rural editor Sally Rae about why he is so passionate about farming in the district.

For 150 years, North Otago has provided opportunities for the Mitchell family with their farming business.

The current generation actively farming Rosedale, near Weston, are Peter and Sandra Mitchell, who were joined several years ago by Henry, one of their two sixth-generation sons.

“We’ve had a wonderful run really when you look back on it, on the farming side of things, a lot of family involvement,” Peter Mitchell said. . . 

Finding the winners – Rebecca Greaves:

Analysing data to find the winners, whether it’s selecting sires or identifying trends, appeals to Emma Pettigrew’s competitive side.

She’s relishing her new role as research and development manager at Wairarapa sheep stud, Wairere, where she has been working since October last year.

Her role is primarily data analysis and administration, but she can be called on to help out on farm at busy times, which suits her just fine.

Stud breeding has always been part of life for Emma, 28, who grew up on farms in the Pohangina Valley and Kimbolton, in the Manawatu. . .

From honeymoon to dairy farming – Valu Maka:

Dairy Women’s Network member Lauren Badcock traded a career in law for greener pastures.

Alongside husband Ollie, the pair moved to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 2018.

‘‘We gave up our jobs in the UK and came to New Zealand for our honeymoon and we didn’t go back home.

‘‘I got a job with Ollie on the farm and I haven’t really looked back.’’ . . 

Connected Farms New Zealand launch innovative ZOLEO device to address lone-worker safety concerns :

Connected Farms New Zealand Launch Innovative ZOLEO Device to Address Lone-Worker Safety Concerns.

In 2020, there were 22,796 farm-related injury claims accepted by ACC. That’s over 60 incidents a day, taking a huge toll on farms, families, and the rural community whenever a farm worker is hurt on the job. Today, Connected Farms New Zealand is launching ZOLEO Satellite Communicator, a farm safety device designed to transform the way rural communities approach on-farm connectivity and safety. Now, tens of thousands of NZ farmers across all farm types can remain accessible, connected, and safe regardless of how isolated they are, with the ZOLEO device.

Operating on the Iridium network, ZOLEO Satellite Communicator facilitates 2-way communication from anywhere including the highest, remotest high-country station. This multi-award winning product is easy and intuitive to use with a familiar messaging experience when integrated with smartphones, improving remote communications simply and effectively. This allows farmers and lone-workers to check-in to let others know they’re ok, or get help quickly and easily, even outside of mobile phone range. . .

Entries open for refreshed NZDIA programme:

Entries are now open and excitement is high for the refreshed 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) programme, which gives New Zealand dairy farmers the opportunity to challenge themselves, earn a regional or national title and to share in substantial regional and national prize pools.

All three categories have been refreshed and revamped, after months of consultation, feedback and discussion.

Entries can be made via www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz with full details of the changes available there also.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon says it’s very important that the Awards programme remains relevant and that issues raised in feedback were addressed. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey


How sick is the health system?


A selection from a few days of the Democracy Project’s Politics Daily gives an idea of just how sick the health system is:

Nicholas Jones (Herald): Auckland Hospital mother, baby deaths: Review reveals ‘toxic’ culture claims, staff struggling with workload
Michael Reddell (Croaking Cassandra): Health spending
Logan Hagoort (Stuff): ‘When will we allow people to have the care they need in all areas of their lives’
ODT Editorial: Too much mental health korero
Virginia Fallon (Stuff): This is no ordinary blue: Trying to hold on through a mental health crisis

Rachel Thomas (Stuff): Sick baby denied surgery as more than 81,000 people face delayed healthcare 
Bridie Witton (Stuff): Meth users add pressure to busy emergency departments during lockdown
Bryan Betty (Herald):  We’d all live longer with more general practitioners (paywalled)
Karl du Fresne: Mental health gets the standard Labour treatment
Mike Houlahan (ODT): Extent of aged care nurse shortage revealed

RNZ: The Detail: Increasing ICU bed numbers is not that simple
Neil Lindsay, Tom Baker, Octavia Calder-Dawe (Newsroom): Apps won’t save us from mental health crisis
Jane Nixon (Newshub): Gumboot Friday offering free online counselling for youth
Malcolm Mulholland (Herald): The value of a New Zealander’s life (paywalled)
Matt Burrows (Newshub): Royal NZ College of GPs speaks out against Ivermectin, says it’s ‘strongly not recommended’ as COVID-19 treatment
Louisa Steyl (Stuff): 200 children on dental waiting list in the south
Emma Russell (Herald): Deadly cancer error: Man dies after ‘unacceptable’ failure by Taranaki DHB
Sarah Rhodes (Newsroom): Covid’s forgotten health care worker
Mitchell Alexander (Newshub): Wellington Free Ambulance Onesie Day street appeal canned again because of COVID-19

Nicholas Jones (Herald): Will the health system cope with Delta? (paywalled)
Nicholas Jones (Herald): Frontline workers under ‘extraordinary pressure’, Health Minister Andrew Little says
Hannah Martin (Stuff): Patient ‘powerless’ after DHBs told private hospitals to defer surgeries
Hannah Martin (Stuff): Kiwis warned not to self-treat with ivermectin as import attempts grow
Mike Houlahan (ODT): Hospital was ill-equipped to deal with cases
RNZ: Patients waiting too long for cancer diagnoses under Covid-19 restrictions – doctor
Mike Houlahan (ODT): Cancer waiting list reduction at risk
Nikki Macdonald (Stuff): Families shuttled around country in desperate search for neonatal beds
Louisa Steyl (Stuff): Health boss raises safety concerns over midwife shortage
Esther Ashby-Coventry (Stuff): PSA takes legal action against South Canterbury District Health Board

Florence Kerr (Stuff): Auckland DHB staff told in memo not to speak to the media
Mitchell Alexander (Newshub): Cancer patient accuses government of playing with people’s lives as surgery cancelled three times due to COVID-19
Mike Houlahan (ODT): Addiction treatment wait ‘unacceptable’
Spinoff: My miscarriage was hard. A stretched health service made it so much worse
Lucy McLean (Spinoff): Why I’ve had enough of mental health awareness
Herald Editorial: We must confront mounting levels of dementia need
Danielle Clent (Stuff): Mental health ‘suffers more every lockdown’ as Auckland’s fifth stint rolls on

Hannah Martin (Stuff): Questions remain about isolation room capacity after Middlemore case
Stephen Forbes (Local Democracy Reporting): Unions united in call for mandatory Covid-19 tests for all hospital patients in Auckland
Dan Satherley (Newshub): Health Minister Andrew Little unsure why private hospitals were told to cancel surgeries
Rachel Thomas (Stuff): Surgeries, scans delayed for 37,000 patients due to lockdown
Richard Simpson (Spinoff): Mapping order in the chaos: a view from the pale blue dot
Mike Houlahan (ODT): Health board misses safe staffing deadline
Oliver Lewis (BusinessDesk): Long wait for new health builds (paywalled)
Hamish Cardwell (RNZ): Shortage of psychologists leaving patients on waitlist for 9 to 12 months

Will Trafford (Māori TV): Critics slam government’s new mental health strategy
Katie Harris (Herald): Calls and texts to mental health line almost double since 2019
Nicholas Jones (Herald): ICU nurses are in demand globally. They can’t get into New Zealand to take up job offers (paywalled)
Tom Kitchin (RNZ): Patient safety endangered at Hawke’s Bay Hospital – union

Vita Molyneux (Herald): Families ‘heartbroken’ by birthing facility closure, director says Government ‘failed’ them

1 News: Pasifika community leader slams health system after horror Covid experience

Mike Houlahan (ODT): 60 breast scans not reliable
Mike Houlahan (ODT): Leading the charge for nurses
Rebecca Macfie (Newsroom): No profit: Home care firm ditches DHB

Katie Townshend (Stuff): Covid-19 impact on healthcare in Nelson-Marlborough could last three years

Health is complex, these problems haven’t just happened and the blame for them can’t be laid only at the feet of the current government.  But a few weeks ago Dr Shane Reti pointed out where blaming the government is justified  :

I now know why we have been caught unprepared for the Delta outbreak. I now know why we have 30,000 people on overdue waiting lists. I now know why we have nursing shortages and pay freezes. And it is revealed in this Treasury document to Andrew Little, released a few weeks ago that talks about this year’s health budget. The Treasury document from Treasury to Andrew Little states that the priority for health funding in Budget 2021 is ensuring that the health and disability system has resources. I want to repeat that: the priority for health funding in 2021 is ensuring that the health and disability system—the reforms—have resources. That is why we have been unprepared and where we are today.

The document goes on to say not to increase the minimal viable package for DHBs. It then goes on to say all manifesto commitments that are not highly time sensitive should be deferred in the future. That’s where the 20 mobile dental clinics that were promised this year have gone.

We don’t have enough ICU specialists because this Government made health restructuring the funding priority. We are building negative pressure rooms in the middle of a pandemic because this Government made health restructuring the funding priority. There are not enough nurses because this Government made health restructuring the funding priority. There are 30,000 people on overdue waiting lists because this Government made health restructuring the funding priority. People have been delayed their cancer treatment because this Government has made health restructuring the funding priority. There is no money for Pharmac cancer medicines because this Government has made health restructuring the funding priority. This Government has put all its money on a Hail Mary pass that is health restructuring. And while they’ve been distracted, we have caught coronavirus.

There are actually two answers to why we’re in the situation we are today. The first is that the Government didn’t secure the border and let Delta in. The second is that they have made health restructuring the funding priority. They have squandered money.

Squandered money and now I want to talk about squandered time. Delta arrived in New Zealand in April this year—five months ago. And from then to now, this Government has squandered the time and we were unprepared. They were too interested in cycle bridges and Mongrel Mob methamphetamine programmes and health restructuring to protect us from Delta. In June, the Government’s own independent Roche report into the Valentine’s Day outbreak made several recommendations, including these three: (1) immediately remove the plus classification for close and casual contacts because they are too confusing—immediately. What has happened? Have they been removed? No. In fact, another criterion has been added called high risk. Immediately in June was what the recommendations were—not carried out: fail. Second, they were told to increase the number of people at the Auckland Regional Public Health Service by 25 fulltime equivalents. I challenge the Government to say whether they have done this. Thirdly, the Roche report said increased system capacity and resourcing for an outbreak. The time frame was three months; that three months has passed—clearly a fail. . . 



These problems would be serious at the best of times. They are far, far worse now that the government has given up on eliminating Covid-19 which increases the threat that hospitals will be overwhelmed.

The health system is very sick and structural reform could be part of the prescription to make it better. But spending millions on restructuring in the middle of a pandemic rather than on increasing the resilience of hospitals and the health workforce is not the right medicine.

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