Word of the day


Shaffle –  to hobble or limp; to shuffle; to walk shamblingly; to loiter; to futz about and dither instead of getting on with the important stuff; to fiddle while Rome burns.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Getting super growth into those tree seedlings is simple – it can be done for a song (or two) and some nurturing conversation – Point of Order:

The Government’s esteem for science and science-based research findings can be gauged from a press statement released by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The statement gives a progress report on a New Zealand Forest Services’ partnership with a marae-based tree-growing project and its grant of nearly $500,000 over two years through the One Billion Trees (1BT) programme.

It suggests the money has been well spent because – it transpires – the trees being grown on the marae are out-performing trees grown elsewhere.

This is instructive, pointing to how the Government can pick up the pace in bringing the ambitious One Billion Trees programme to a triumphant conclusion. . . 

Rural stalwart has pests in his sights – Sally Rae:

It takes a fair bit of pluck to be a possum dispatcher.

Just ask Jason Rogers, the West Otago owner of Aotearoa Pest Control, who works with farmers in the area to rid their properties of pesky pests.

He is a rural man through-and-through; throughout his career, he has done everything from farming to shearing.

But after accidents had taken a toll on his body, he decided it was time to go back to what he had always done — pest control, an occupation he could do at his own pace. . . 

Valais cute, comic, curious, charming creature – Lucy Wormald:

In the hills above Arrowtown, among a small pear orchard and a cluster of old musterers’ huts, live the cutest sheep in the world.

Farmer Dagg rattles a bucket of sheep nuts and three dozen inky faces shoot up in unison, crimped forelocks bouncing. With black knees, ankles, hocks and face punctuating an otherwise white coat, Valais Blacknose sheep are a sight out of a children’s book — both comical and charming.

Glencoe Station has been breeding purebred Valais since 2018 under the management of John Dagg, a long-time sheep farmer with family roots in neighbouring Coronet Peak Station.

The farm is home to 35 Valais Blacknose ewes and eight rams, a couple of hundred pheasants, and John’s canine sidekick, Bob. . . 

Best of the best – Clive Bibby:

Last Sunday night’s Country Calendar and, from what we already know about next week’s story, provide all the evidence of why this nation has become one of the most efficient producers of agriculture products in the world. 

I can say that without having seen the next episode simply because l already know about the East Coast property that compliments the magnificent portrayal of our mixed race farming families that we saw in the 30 minutes joy ride into the Clarence River valley – and will no doubt repeat the exposure in a weeks time at a dramatically different North Island location. 

You can’t “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” no matter how hard you try if the basic ingredients aren’t there and these two families are typical of so much that demonstrates why we are world leaders in so many areas. 

They also show why there is so much promise for the future if only the government would leave us alone to get on with doing what we do best. . . 

Court rules SunGold kiwifruit licenses can be included in property RV :

The High Court has ruled SunGold kiwifruit licenses can be included in the rateable value of a property, in an appeal ruling.

The Bushmere Trust, a kiwifruit grower, took the Gisborne District Council to the Land Valuation Tribunal last year after the Council changed its ratings to include the value of the licenses in the property’s capital value.

That took the nearly six hectare property’s rateable value from $2.8 million to $4.1 million.

The Tribunal ruled the capital value was only $2.8million, and the kiwifruit license was “not an improvement to the land or for the benefit of the land”. . . 

After planting thousands of wattles, farm goes from ‘bare paddocks’ to teeming with wildlife  – Hamish Cole:

When Mikla Lewis took over a cropping farm near Grenfell in the New South Wales central West in 2002, almost all of the land’s native plants had been cleared. 

Two decades later she has planted thousands of wattles, turning her property into an oasis for almost 200 different native animals. 

Ms Lewis, who also runs sheep on the property, said it had been a long, worthwhile process. 

“We almost immediately started planting because most of it had been cropped, so there were very bare paddocks and there hadn’t been any planting of natives done at all,” she said. 

Ms Lewis said the wattles had brought animals such as birds, goannas, butterflies and frogs back to the farm.  . . 


When cultures clash


The Herald has another story of another government contract which raises another question of conflict of interest.

To have one contract over which questions of conflict are raised might be regarded as carelessness, to have more could suggest another word beginning with c.

Coincidence, charm or another c word?

Karl du Fresne sees a cultural clash:

What happens when democratic principles collide with cultural values and political self-interest? In New Zealand, that’s starting to look like a quaintly naive question. Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government appears supremely untroubled by accusations of nepotism and conflict of interest swirling around one of its most senior ministers. . . 

He explains it’s not just contracts awarded to her husband’s company. Three of the five members appointed to a Maori advisory group on waste strategy when Mahuta was associate minister for the environment had family connections to her and her sister is co-chair of a Maori advisory group helping to implement the highly controversial Three Waters plan.

Nanaia Mahuta appears to have behaved with utter disdain for the Cabinet Manual that supposedly guides ministerial conduct. While technically complying (in one case by delegating responsibility for the appointment of her sister to a fellow minister), she appears to have brazenly disregarded the manual’s explicit warning that public perceptions can be as important as actual conflicts.

Technical compliance does not negate the perception of something amiss.

Some context might be helpful here. Mahuta is regarded as wielding serious power in a government that has embarked on a decolonisation crusade. Although only one of five ministers in Ardern’s cabinet who identify as Maori, she is seen as the leader of Labour’s 15-strong Maori caucus – widely regarded as the dominant faction in the party.

What is perhaps equally significant is that in the Maori world, Mahuta is literally royalty, being a niece of the late Maori queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu and a cousin of the reigning Maori king, Tuheitia Paki. While the king has no constitutional authority, he is an influential figure in the Maori world. Politicians of all stripes, Pakeha (European) as well as Maori, pay homage to him regardless of whether he has done anything to earn their respect. (The late Maori queen was a highly respected figure; her son rather less so.)

Mahuta accordingly wields influence that transcends her political office and enjoys what might be called protected status in a party that relies heavily on the Maori vote. Besides, it would hardly be surprising if, having grown up a privileged member of a tribal elite, Mahuta felt a sense of entitlement and perhaps even a degree of immunity from the normal rules of politics.

The response from Mahuta’s office to claims of conflict of interest is that they were properly disclosed and managed. Mahuta herself was glib almost to the point of being flippant: ‘I’ve got a talented whanau [extended family],’ she’s quoted as saying. But merely disclosing potential conflicts doesn’t make them right. The suspicion inevitably lingers that favouritism was exercised – if not directly, then by people motivated to please their minister.

The problem here is that what constitutional purists would categorise as nepotism, many Maori people would justify as simply looking after your own whanau or tribe – a cultural imperative in the Maori world. But anyone bold enough to point out that looking after your own is incompatible with proper constitutional practice – and more specifically, the principle that appointments should be made and contracts awarded on merit rather than notions of familial loyalty – risks being denounced as a racist.

The racist card is played every time someone wants to shut down debate. The irony is that it’s those wanting different standards of citizenship and power for Maori who are being racist.

They are also undermining democratic principles.

Another Minister, Willie Jackson, has tried to redefine democracy:

.”Democracy’s changed….We’re in a consensus-type democracy now. This is not a majority democracy. First-past-the-post has finished,” he told the Q + A programme.

Professor of comparative politics Jack Vowles counters that:

Willie Jackson argues that ‘one person one vote’ is just one value within democratic principles, not the only one. But everyone having a vote or votes of equal weight to elect those who represent them is not just one value, it is a foundational principle. As such, it is recognised in the Bill of Rights Act 1990. . . 

Some aspects of co-governance conflict with votes being of equal value, with implications for the quality of our democracy. We do not know how far the government intends to take us in that direction, nor the specifics of their thinking.

What we have seen so far smacks of ad hoc and reactive constitutional tinkering, rather the application of consistent principles. . . 

When cultures clash, the ones that stand up for democracy and rules about conflicts of interest, and the latter is an established tool to counter corruption, must prevail.

That doesn’t in anyway negate concerns about the over representation of people of Maori descent in negative statistics for crime, education, health and income and under representation in positive ones.

But those problems aren’t being, and won’t be, addressed by conferring unequal power on a minority of Maori elites. They will only be addressed by effective assistance for those in need, regardless of race.

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