Word of the day


Twang – a strong ringing sound such as that made by the plucked string of a musical instrument or a released bowstring; to give out a sharp, vibrating sound, as the string of a musical instrument when plucked; to produce such a sound by plucking a stringed musical instrument; a nasal or other distinctive manner of pronunciation or intonation characteristic of the speech of an individual, area, or country.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Time for a rethink – Dairy News:

Farmers have delivered a message to the Government – time to push the pause button on Three Waters Reforms and have a rethink.

The Government has put forward legislation for New Zealand’s three water services – drinking water, wastewater and stormwater – to be managed by four new publicly-owned water entities (WSEs), replacing the services currently managed by 67 councils. But the Government is having a hard time convincing ratepayers that this is the best way forward. Despite pouring millions into advertising and marketing their plan, the Government has made very little headway, even with community leaders.

A majority of city and regional councils also remain adamant that Three Waters isn’t the way forward.

Recently Federated Farmers presented its submission to a parliamentary select committee. Farmers agree that reforms are needed, but not in the form of Three Waters. . . 

Blanket cure-all approach ‘frustrates the hell’ out of arable leader – Simon Edwards:

Alison Stewart has no time for those who think New Zealand’s agri-sector has few environmental faults but also slams the current approach of trying to solve them with an across-the-board set of policies and procedures.

“It frustrates the hell out of me,” the Foundation for Arable Research CEO told last month’s Primary Industries NZ Summit.

The government’s thinking seems to be “we’re going to make everybody jump through every bloody hoop because we can’t quite get our heads around the subtleties and complexities of the site specific, sector specific problems that we’ve got”.

As with the 2021 Summit, organisers slotted in Alison as the final speaker on the final day as a way to keep delegates from drifting off early, knowing that she doesn’t pull her punches but injects plenty of humour too.  And like last year, she didn’t disappoint. . . 

That’ll do, Sam: A meditation on working dogs – Tim Saunders :

This excerpt from Tim Saunders’ memoir of life on a farm, Under A Big Sky, is an ode to the wily majesty of the working dog and the wolfish ancestors who came before them.

I pushed open the gate, flaky lichen crisp under my fingers. The midday sun hadn’t found the energy to dry the dew on the grass, and moisture soaked through my jeans, turning the tightly woven fabric dark blue.

Sam stood beside me, his ears erect and alert, his black nose sniffing the air. Sparrows huddled along fences, feathers puffed up against the westerly while cobwebs snared sunlight between taut wires.

“Are you ready, Sam?” I said quietly, my voice out of place amongst the whistles and bleating. “We need to shift these sheep.” . . 

Canterbury farmers earn top award for community involvement and long-term environmental planning :

Developing an environmentally sustainable dairying and beef farming operation which has evolved to become a hub of community activities has earned a husband-and-wife farming couple a top rural award.

North-Canterbury couple Geoff and Rochelle Spark who own and manage Torlesse Farm in Eyrewell, Waimakariri – won the People in Primary Sector title at this year’s Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. The People in Primary Sector category was sponsored by Bayleys Canterbury.

Torlesse Farm runs about 1,700 dairy cows across some 450-hectares, with a further 400 hectares split between dairy support and beef grazing. The farm sells approximately 80 prime grade cattle each year, and the Sparks have diversified the business to include grazing and grass sales, in addition to operating a commercial weigh bridge and a purpose-built function venue.

The couple moved onto the family owned Torlesse Farm in 1995, eventually buying it from Geoff’s parents in 2005. . . 

Substantial response to West Coast Stewardship land proposals :

More than 6600 people and organisations have made submissions on how they would like to see stewardship land reclassified on the West Cost of the South Island, the Department of Conservation says.

By the closing deadline yesterday, DOC had received 660 individual and 5980 pro forma submissions on proposals to reclassify 504 parcels of stewardship land on the West Coast.

Stewardship land is the term given to land allocated to DOC when it was formed in 1987, which was deemed to have conservation value, but had not been given a specific land classification.

An independent national panel of technical experts and a Ngāi Tahu Mana Whenua Panel were established last year to assess the land for its conservation, recreation and cultural values and recommend the appropriate level of protection. . . 


Pāmu announces new sustainability and risk officer :

Pāmu Chief Executive Mark Leslie has announced that Annabel Davies will be joining Pāmu as Chief Sustainability and Risk Officer.

“I am really pleased to welcome Annabel to Pāmu as we lean into the challenge of a changing climate and the opportunities that our drive to be a more sustainable farming company bring. Annabel has over thirty years of experience working across a range of sectors including local government, infrastructure, energy, and the private sector.

“Annabel’s previous roles have included leading transformational projects at Trustpower managing their risk and climate change strategies, and in their overall Environmental, Social, Governance (“ESG”) approach. . . 

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels – Sarah Reed


A new episode of Black Heels and Tractor Wheels:

Today on the podcast, Sarah Reed of The Grumpy Merino (TGM) joins us to have a chat! Sarah, her husband Jono and their three children live on the Grampians in Culverden, North Canterbury. The Grumpy Merino (TGM) is driven by a desire to better utilise merino wool, transforming it into high-quality yarn and blankets. The wool can be traced every step of the way, eventually being crafted into a natural, high-quality, New Zealand-made product. Sarah has an amazing candid chat about her business journey, the biggest lessons and tips she has learnt along the way, as well as the incredible connections she has made with other rural women business owners. 

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels is a Rual Women NZ initiative. You can find out more here.

Teachers or truancy ads?


The government is considering cutting 3000 senior teaching roles  from its budget:

In a surprise move, the government wants to cut a senior teaching role nationwide so it can cover a hole in its budget.

It wants to let 3119 fixed-term “within-school teacher” contracts expire so it can avoid a $12-million-a-year “funding cliff” at the end of the 2022-23 financial year.

The $8000-a-year contracts are part of the Communities of Learning/Kāhui Ako scheme which involves 1800 schools and costs more than $100m a year. . .

The roles were part of teachers’ collective agreements so the ministry must negotiate any changes with teacher unions the Educational Institute and the Post Primary Teachers’ Association.

Principals contacted by RNZ said they were not aware of the ministry’s plan and warned the within-school roles were critical to their work.

The lead principal for a Nelson Kāhui Ako, Nayland College principal Daniel Wilson, told RNZ the proposal was “very concerning”.

“We would have significant issues with continuing the Kāhui Ako in any form without the within-school-teacher positions available.

“Our WSTs act in a coaching role that is central to our strategy to improve student outcomes. This would completely fall over without these positions and the work of the Kahui Ako would have to be significantly reviewed and possibly disbanded.” . .

If cuts need to be made they should be in the growing back room bureaucracy, not on the front line where teachers are already over-stretched and under resourced:

Education is going backwards under Labour and things will only get worse if the Government cuts funding for frontline teachers, National’s Education Spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“Labour has overseen a shocking decline in achievement and attendance. But rather than do something to turn this around, this Government wants to cut funding for senior teacher roles within Communities of Learning/Kāhui Ako.

“Literacy and numeracy achievement rates are plummeting – kids aren’t being taught to read and write. In Term 1 this year only 46 per cent of kids attended school regularly and 100,000 kids were chronically truant, meaning they missed at least three in every 10 school days.

Some of the blame for that can be placed on Covid-19 but there are other contributing factors which cutting teaching roles won’t solve.

“At the same time that Labour wants to cut funding for senior teachers on the frontline, this Government has added over 10,000 bureaucrats to the public service and the number of Ministry of Education staff earning over $120,000 has almost tripled to 955.

“Principals say the senior teacher roles are ‘central to our strategy to improve student outcomes’ and ‘highly valued’. But in typical Labour fashion, they’d rather prioritise bureaucrats in Wellington.

“Jacinda Ardern’s Government is failing a generation of kids. That’s not just a social failure – it’s a future economic crisis.”

There’s plenty to criticise this government for. Education failures are among the most serious and not just for the pupils.

Children, who attend school sporadically if at all,  who don’t get an adequate grounding in literacy and numeracy if and when they’re there, will be adults who won’t be able to do the work that will provide them with fulfilling lives and that the country will need.

The government has, belatedly, decided to do something about the high truancy rates but like so much it does its questionable whether it will be effective.

It’s launched an advertising campaign in newspapers, and on radio and television encouraging children back to school.

How many parents whose children aren’t going to school, and how many children who are truanting will take notice of the campaign, if they even notice it?

It would be far better to spend the money helping schools deal with the truants themselves and helping teachers help the children who are failing and being failed.

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