John Luxton 14.9.46 – 16.11.21


Farmer, farming leader and former Minister, John Luxton has died:

Born into a Waikato dairy farming family, Luxton, CNZM QSO, was a Member of Parliament from 1987 until his retirement from politics in 2002. As a Cabinet minister he held many portfolios including housing, energy, commerce, industry, police, lands, forestry, food and fibre, Māori Affairs, agriculture and fisheries.

At the time of his death after an illness, he had recently retired as chair of the Asia NZ Foundation, was chair of the large-scale dairying Pouarua Farm Partnership, and Crown appointee co-chair of the Waikato River Authority, a role he had served in since 2011.

Luxton was chairman of dairy industry advocate organisation DairyNZ from 2008 to 2015, and had a long governance association and farming interests with blue-chip Waikato dairy company Tatua.

A former World Bank consultant, he was a co-founder of the Open Country Cheese company, formed after dairy industry export deregulation in 2001, and which has grown to become Open Country Dairy, New Zealand’s second-largest dairy processor and exporter after Fonterra.

Luxton chaired the Tatua board for several periods between 1978 and 1990, and was a director from 2001 to 2016 when he retired. . . 

National leader Judith Collins said:

On behalf of the National Party, it is with deep sympathy that I acknowledge the passing of former National MP John Luxton.

John succeeded his father, Jack, as the Member of Parliament for Matamata in 1987. It was a seat he held until 1996, before holding the reconstituted seat of Karapiro until his retirement from politics in 2002.

John was appointed to Cabinet when National won the 1990 election and served in the Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley governments.

He understood what mattered to New Zealanders, holding ministerial responsibilities for Energy, Housing, Maori Affairs, Police, Commerce, Industry, Fisheries, Lands, Customs and Agriculture. He was also an Associate Minister of Education and of Overseas Trade.

John was strongly committed to his constituents and displayed outstanding loyalty to his electorate and the National Party.

Affable and courteous to a tee, John will also be fondly remembered for his keen sense of humour and kindness.

My sincere condolences, and those of the New Zealand National Party, go to John’s family and friends.

He will be missed.

John was an intelligent man and an innovative thinker who made significant contributions to farming, the dairy industry and New Zealand.

He was also modest.

We once shared a table during a lunch break at a conference. When I was chatting to him about farming I asked him how many cows he had. He hesitated and seemed reluctant to answer. Only afterwards did I realise that was because he didn’t want to show off.

His death will leave a big hole in his family and wide circle of friends, to all of whom I offer my sympathy.

Word of the day


Nostomania –  intense homesickness; an irresistible compulsion to return home; a passion for nostalgia.

Sowell says


Possum pest no joke


It’s written as it if it’s funny:

Dunedin police have detained and released a fury pest they’ve dubbed the ‘Blacks Road ripper’ after it terrorised a resident. . .

The occupant of a Blacks Road address contacted police “in distress, stating a possum was holding her hostage”, Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said.

“When she would exit her house and attempt to reach her car, the possum would charge at her, and she would flee inside.

“Upon attendance, police discovered that as they approached the front door, a juvenile possum came out of the dark and climbed the officer’s leg. Suspect it was either an escaped pet or had recently been separated from it’s mother.”

Instead of taking the furry fiend to the big house, officers delivered the possum further up Signal Hill and released it into the wild – “to prevent further citizen harassment”.

“No harm to possum or the officer who was happy to assist with the Blacks Road ripper,” Dinnissen said.

On the face of it, it is a funny story but the danger possums pose to flora and fauna and the the risk of them spreading TB is no joke.

Police shouldn’t have released the pest. If they couldn’t kill it humanely themselves they should have taken to someone who could rather than setting it free to eat eggs and young birds, trees and possibly spread disease.

Rural round-up


‘M. bovis’ lessons will fortify system: report – Sally Rae:

An independent review panel is confident the lessons learned from the Mycoplasma bovis incursion — if acted upon — will enable New Zealand to have a “far stronger preparedness platform” for future animal disease incursions.

A review of the cattle disease’s eradication programme found it was on track to achieve a world-first eradication and made recommendations to improve the wider biosecurity system.

It was the largest incursion response ever conducted in New Zealand and, given the country was on track to successful elimination, was a credit to all involved, the report released yesterday said.

No response would ever follow a predictable plan but, in 2017, the readiness and response system was not as well prepared as it was thought to be, it said. . .

Study highlights dangerous disconnect rural hospitals face as specter of Covid-19 looms :

Rural hospital doctors are reporting a lack of support from DHBs during the first Covid-19 outbreak, in new research by the University of Otago.

Dr Kati Blattner, from the University of Otago, says there is a disconnect between different parts of the health system, when it comes to transferring patients, that often ignores both local expertise and the geography.

“This research puts the spotlight on a sector of our health system that’s generally invisible, as we see it out here, at the end of the dripline,” she told Morning Report.

The study involved interviewing 17 senior doctors across New Zealand in 17 different rural hospitals about their experiences planning for the pandemic. It looked specifically at issues in the way of transferring patients to other bigger hospitals so they could receive advanced respiratory care. . .

Fonterra farmers to vote on co-op’s capital structure proposal :

Fonterra has today announced it will proceed with a shareholder vote on the change to the Co-operative’s capital structure, which would give farmers greater financial flexibility and better enable the Co-op’s strategy.

Fonterra Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

The decision to go ahead as planned has been informed by a significant volume of shareholder feedback that shows strong support for the changes.

“The Board is unanimously recommending the changes to our capital structure to put us in the best position to deliver the value outlined in the strategy and protect farmer ownership and control of our Co-op. . .

Federated Farmers partners with NZ YOung Farmers to offer free memberships :

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) is excited to announce Federated Farmers has jumped on board as a benefit partner to offer a complimentary NZYF Federated Farmers Membership, exclusive to its members.

It’s already had a strong response, with more than 100 NZYF members having signed up within the first day of its launch.

With more members seeking tangible benefits, NYF CEO Lynda Coppersmith said she was thrilled to add the NZYF Federated Farmers Membership to the list.

“Providing a direct link with Federated Farmers for our members is going to benefit the sector hugely,” she said. . . 

Testing the waters – Country Life:

Christine Finnigan is scanning the stream bed looking for kākahi.

“I found one and it’s very much alive,” she calls to fellow farmer Kim Bills and ag consultant Terry Parminter.

The freshwater mussels, especially baby ones, are a sign the creek is relatively healthy, even though it is in the middle of Bills’ dairy block.

The stream flows through a lush stand of bush, which has been fenced off from the young bulls bellowing in the distance. . .

HortNZ scholarship applications open to support next-gen growers:

Students considering a career in New Zealand’s growing horticulture industry are encouraged to apply for Horticulture New Zealand’s scholarships.

Applications for HortNZ’s annual undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships are open until 10 December 2021 for the 2022 study period.

HortNZ chief executive Nadine Tunley says that the scholarship programme supports students who have a special interest in the fruit or vegetable industry to pursue their careers.

“Young people are the future of the horticulture industry. That is why HortNZ offers these scholarships – worth up to $10,000 – to support the next generation of innovators and leaders. . .

FMG Young Farmer of the year 2022 Otago Southland regional finalists announced :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Otago Southland Regional Final have been chosen for the Contest’s 54th season.

Featuring shepherds/sheep and beef farmers, a fencing contractor and rural and agribusiness bankers, only one person will be named 2022 Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

Ben Harmer, Isaac Johnston, Matt Sullivan, Andrew Cowie, Alex Field, George Blyth, Kurt Knarston and James Fox are the top eight competitors in the Otago Southland region, whittled down from 37 competitors over two district contests.

They will go head-to-head at the Otago Southland Regional Final on the 12th of February in Waimumu. . . 


Sowell says


Trending hope


Last night’s 1News Colmar Brunton Poll confirmed a downward trend for Labour and its leader that showed in two other recent polls.

A single poll isn’t significant but three showing the government and Jacinda Ardern losing popularity and the gap between it and National and Act closing will be worrying Labour.

That National has still not made it to 30% is concerning for those of us wanting a change of government in two years, but there’s grounds for optimism in the trend – Labour sliding down and National creeping up.

Quite how the government, and Jacinda Ardern, have managed to retain as much support as they have astounds me.

The steep increase in prices of food, fuel and housing must be hurting most people.

Race-based policies are fueling division and dissent.

Covid-19 won the election for Labour last year but day by day its handling of the pandemic is becoming more erratic and shambolic.

And day by day the debt that will dog the country for decades is growing.

All of this shows there’s little of substance behind the stardust and the trend of recent polls indicates that more people are seeing that.

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