Sowell says


Rural round up


Towards a sustainable future – Jackie Harrigan:

Dayna Rowe is looking to the future and plans to work with her parents on their family farm to bring in new initiatives around sustainability and efficiency.

The 22-year-old winner of the Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year award won $6000 in prizes and three merit awards after coming runner-up in the same category in 2020. Growing up on the family farm in Pongakawa, Dayna spent a lot of time learning about farming and animals. She had begun studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre Studies when she realised she’d rather be stomping through paddocks than treading the boards.

“I am still involved in competitive dance, it gives me a chance for some female company after working with lads on the farm, but I don’t have as much time for practicing for shows.” . .

EcoPond demonstrating methane leadership on world stage :

As the COP Climate Change Summit concludes, a New Zealand farmer-owned co-operative has showcased new methane mitigating technology that the dairy sector can start using from today to reduce emissions.

Developed with Lincoln University, Ravensdown’s EcoPond system virtually eliminates the methane emitted from effluent ponds.

The breakthrough discovery was to target methane with an additive normally used in the treatment of drinking water. Ravensdown and Lincoln University collaborated in the science that underpins this new technology and Ravensdown will provide the system to dairy farmers wanting to reduce their methane emissions.

“The New Zealand dairy sector is already a world leader in its carbon emissions efficiency, but the country has set a 10% target of biogenic methane reduction by 2030,” said Mike Manning, General Manager Innovation and Strategy. “This new tool in the farmer’s toolbox has the benefit of robust science behind it and will assist farmers who want to start tracking towards that target now.” . .

Capital restructuring is one big issue for Fonterra farmers but they must respond to environmental challenges too – Point of Order:

Just  as  the  dairy  season  hits its  peak, Fonterra   farmer-shareholders   are  confronted with a  key decision on the  capital  structure  of the  big co-op. The board is  asking  them to  vote on the  proposal  at the annual meeting next month.

Consultation on the proposal with farmer-owners has been ongoing throughout the year, with some tweaks announced in September before a second round of discussions.  But Fonterra leaders have been clear they wouldn’t put the reform forward for voting if they believed the support wasn’t there

Farmers have  had  little  time to  enjoy  the  news  that  the  co-op  has  raised  its  forecast  payout  for  the current  season  to  a  record level.  Nor  is the  capital structure the  only  issue triggering  worry in the  cowshed.

The  government’s  focus  on climate  change, particularly methane  emissions, is  another matter weighing on the  industry, exacerbated by outfits like  Greenpeace shouting  the  odds  about “industrial  farming’’  and  “dirty dairying”. . . 

Key competitions of A&P Show go ahead without spectators

The Canterbury Anniversary Day public holiday is known as Show Day in the region – the day the country comes to town.

But for the second time since World War II, there was no A and P show on in Christchurch today.

The Agricultural Show grounds are normally a throng of people on Canterbury Anniversary Day, with about 60,000 people squeezing in to eat hot dogs, look at the best chickens in the district, and sit on a tractor they have no need for.

Today, the streets of the show grounds were empty, with the show cancelled due to Covid-19. . .

‘Woolies Jeans’ raises $239,226 halfway through PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign:

Woolies Jeans, a startup company created by farmer Jovian Garcia-Cummins, has completed the first of a 2 month equity crowdfunding campaign via PledgeMe, generating $239,226 in new funds. The investors are not the typical private equity or angels, but rather 174 fans, who turned their enthusiasm into company shares.

Woolies are not your everyday jeans. They are designed to ‘keep you cool when you are hot and warm when it’s cold’ and utilize NZ Merino to do so. “They will be the most comfortable pair of jeans on the market – always made in NZ” says founder Jovian Garcia Cummins. The jeans are lined with a special type of merino so customers get a traditional jean exterior denim look, with a comfortable merino interior.

The crowd-funding campaign, which kicked off in early October, hit its minimum target of $50,000 within a few days. The average investment has been around $1,400 per person. New investors can still invest via and clicking on the Woolies Jeans Campaign. . .

Stop climate-shaming farmers – Margaret Donnely:

The Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has called for the ‘climate shaming’ of farmers to stop.

I think we should stop climate shaming farmers quite frankly. We need to bring farmers with us, we’ll never be able to achieve the reductions that we need, or to clean up our rivers or to win the new markets for food in the future where people are going to be much more concerned about the sustainability of the food that they buy and how it was produced. We need to bring farmers with us.”

Speaking on RTE radio this morning, he admitted that there was an increase in agricultural emissions last year, but said there was actually a 4pc decrease the year before.

The day after Government published its Climate Action Plan, the Tanaiste said if we were getting a 2pc decreases every year “we’d actually be achieving our targets by 2030 when it comes to agriculture”. . . . 

Sowell says


Heaphy Track tramp


Trampers tackling the Heaphy Track have two options – going from north to south, or south to north.

Both ways require coordinating transport to the start or from the end.

My daughter and I chose to start in the north and drove up to Karamea last Friday. Next morning we had enough time to take a pre-tramp detour to Moria Gate Arch.

The Heaphy Track starts or finishes at Kohaihai where we parked and were picked up by a shuttle that took us to the airfield for a half-hour flight to Takaka with Golden Bay Air.

There another shuttle took us to Brown Hut at the start of the track.

It sleeps 16 on two bunks and has a fire but no gas cookers and we had it to ourselves.

I’d hesitated when my daughter asked me to go with her on the tramp.

I feared I wouldn’t be fit enough for the 78.4 kilometres and I hadn’t been looking forward to the 17.5 kilometre climb up to Perry Saddle on Sunday.

But the gradient was gradual, a bush canopy provided shade and framed occasional views.

Perry Saddle Hut has 28 bunks, gas cookers, long drop loos and cold water taps.

By dinner time there were about 20 people there, some had come from the other direction, some had biked up for an overnight stay and eight were opting for the five-day trip like us.

We were invited to try the spa – a shallow pool in a creek at a temperature that doesn’t encourage lingering.

Our second day’s walk to Saxon Hut was shorter – 12.4 kilometres – and flatter, taking us through bush and past the boot pole to Gouland Downs.

About 150 metres past Gouland Downs hut an unmarked track took us down to a limestone cave.

Another 100 or so metres further on another unmarked track led down to another cave with a waterfall.

The next five kilometres took us through open country.

We reached Saxon Hut early in the afternoon. It too offered a chilly temperatured spa in a nearby creek. The brownish colour of the water comes from organic tannins. They come from leaves and other plant matter on the forest floor that release tannins as they decompose and eventually leech into and stains the water.

The hut sleeps 16 in four bunks and is frequently visited by the endangered takahe which have been released in the park.

Our third day’s walk was a gentle 11.8 kilometre one through tussock downlands then back into bush before we got to James Mackay hut.


This is the newest hut on the track, built in 2014, and boasts insect screens which were a welcome barrier to the too numerous sandflies.

We had a choice of two swimming holes in the nearby creek – both very chilly but after three days walking, the chance to get cleaner was stronger than the aversion to the cold.

The hut also provided views down to the Tasman Sea and the Heaphy River mouth where we were to head next day.

The fourth day was the longest – 20.5km. The track took us through bush down from 750 metres to sea level. The gradient was gentle, as it had been on the first day.

The track took us over DOC’s longest suspension bridge and past giant rata.

The tide was going out and we could see a strong current but the estuary provided a swimming spot with a temperature that was almost comfortable after the cold mountain spas.

Heaphy Hut  sleeps 32 in four bunk rooms and it too has insect screens.

There’s also the first opportunity for mobile phone coverage at the river mouth, if you’re with Spark and can cope with the sandflies which are numerous, and the oyster catchers which are very territorial, squawking and dive bombing anyone who gets too close.

The hut warden warned us the good weather we had been enjoying was forecast to change next day and we woke to our first cloudy morning.

However, the rain stayed away as we walked the 16.5 kilometres along the coastal path to the Kohaihai River mouth.

Five days of walking through a variety of bush, alpine downlands, and along the coastal track, finished with a short detour through nikau palms and a lookout to the river mouth before we got back to the car.

I was tired but not exhausted, grateful for the Walk On merino wool which I credited for no blisters from almost-new boots and looking forward to a long, hot shower when I got home.

The Heaphy Track is one of DOC’s nine Great Walks. Hut bookings are essential.

My daughter, Jane, is fundraising for cancer research. You can read about that here.

MIQueue misery ‘obscene’


An Auckland man with Covid-19 spent six days isolating in his car while tens of thousands of double vaccinated travelers who tested negative are still forced to face the misery of the MIQueue lottery:

Auckland businessman Murray Bolton says he has been “inundated” with requests for assistance from desperate, double-vaccinated and COVID-negative Kiwis trying to get through New Zealand’s broken MIQ system after his own successful court challenge, but that MBIE remains obstructive and “refuses to face reality”.

“My lawyers have been absolutely inundated with requests for assistance from people from all walks of life, both trapped in New Zealand and overseas,” Mr Bolton said. “A number of people clearly have grounds for self-isolating on their return which fit with the purposes of the government’s health orders and the law as outlined by the High Court in its decision on my judicial review. But they are still facing an obstinate bureaucracy that refuses to acknowledge the law or the reality of the virus in New Zealand.”

“The stories are heart breaking. There are so many accounts of personal loss brought about by this broken system, the furthest thing you would ever expect to see from the kind of society we like to think New Zealand is.”

Mr Bolton said he has personally signed off a number of requests to fund New Zealanders’ legal assistance in navigating the MIQ exemption system through his lawyers, Martelli McKegg who are working as quickly as possible to help those they can. This may extend to further legal action to hold the government to account.

“I have also shared my extensive investment in legal research on this issue with numerous people bringing their own actions, including Grounded Kiwis.”

“Let’s call this situation what it is — obscene,” Mr Bolton said. “Scarce room spaces and our overstretched health workforce are tied up babysitting perfectly healthy returning New Zealanders, while hundreds of vulnerable Aucklanders battling COVID are left to fend for themselves.”

“As of today there are 1382 New Zealanders who caught COVID in Auckland isolating at home,” Mr Bolton said. “And we know now that many are falling through the cracks, isolating in garages or cars, or suffering with severe symptoms but unable to get the attention of the health services. These stories are appalling, and particularly unforgiveable with the resources being wasted on MIQ.”

“Professor Michael Baker, one of the most principled and consistent independent expert voices since the beginning of the pandemic and certainly no COVID-appeaser, said today MIQ is ‘redundant’ for any double-vaccinated arrivals into Auckland.”

“Every Kiwi who has contacted us for help is double-vaccinated,” Mr Bolton said. “But they have had to endure, lottery after lottery for MIQ spots and been left disappointed and hopeless. People’s loved ones are sick and dying and they cannot get back to see them.”

“I also heard about people’s incredible business innovations and opportunities for the New Zealand economy, to keep going against the tide of the pandemic or to push forward into new frontiers,” Mr Bolton said. “But MIQ means business people are unable to get out of New Zealand. Others, who left in order to keep their businesses alive overseas, have been stuck outside the border and unable to get back for more than six months. Many of these people have empty homes sitting in New Zealand that they can easily and safely self-isolate in and be no burden whatsoever to the health system. Other people have obtained spots on global programmes, with potentially invaluable networks between New Zealand and the world, but are unable to be able to take them up because they cannot get home if they leave the country.”

“MBIE have not made any amendments to their website to reflect the outcome of the judicial review decision,” Mr Bolton said. “They are living in denial and trying to keep New Zealanders in the dark about their rights. There is no information reflecting the law that allows exemptions from MIQ on grounds other than “medical” grounds. MBIE is still rejecting applications with pro forma responses, plainly not having even considered them, telling desperate people that they have to submit information they are not legally required to, and even rejecting out of hand plainly eligible exemptions.”

Obscene is the right word for this broken system.

An email from National’s Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop says:

Did you know that right now there are just 35 people with COVID in MIQ in New Zealand (out of over 4000 people), while there are 1773 people with COVID isolating at home?

The New Zealand government is overseeing a ridiculous situation where people who actually have COVID isolate at home, not in quarantine, but fully vaccinated travellers who don’t have COVID have to go into MIQ.

This situation needs to change – not at some vague point in 2022 which is the government’s timeframe, but right now. By ending MIQ for fully vaccinated travellers to New Zealand, we can free up space in quarantine for people with COVID who actually need it. You may have seen the tragic stories in the last week of people isolating and passing away at home.

It’s not just National who says this is absurd. Professor Michael Baker and his colleagues agree that Public health would be better served by having MIQ rooms available for community cases, when their homes are not suitable for home isolation. . . 

MIQ for incoming travellers was sensible last year when the aim was to keep Covid-19 out of New Zealand.

But now with so many people stranded off shore and with the disease wide spread in Auckland and leaking through the borders, it is no longer working.

When there’s such a shortage of  MIQ beds they should be left for people with the disease who can’t self-isolate safely and double vaccinated travellers who have had negative tests should be able to skip MIQ providing they can self-isolate safely at home.

National’s petition seeking this has received nearly 90,000 signatures. You can add yours here.

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