15 years, 32 resource consents

July 13, 2008

Lake Hood a few kilometes from Ashburton is an amazing tribute to a big dream and community effort.

The 80 hectare man-made lake has an eight lane international rowing course, an international water ski course and several kilometers of canals with residential sub divisions. It is surrounded by the 173 hectare Huntingdon Park.

It took fifteen years and a lot of volunteer labour to create – but the statistic on the menu at the Lake House Restaurant which hit me was that it also required 32 resource consents.

Count Down to Nat Bank Young Farmer Contest

July 9, 2008

The seven finalists in the National Bank Young Farmer Contest  have been working for months to prepare themselves for the competition which starts in Ashburton on Thursday.

Aorangi finalist Nick Webster is hoping to better his own and his father’s places in previous contests. Nick, a partner in the family’s cropping farm in North Otago, was third in the final three years ago and Jock was second in what was then called the Skellerup Young Farmer of the Year in the 1970s.

The Otago Southland finalist Kyle Thorburn was sixth in last year’s final. The other finalists are Grant Charteris (East Coast), James Donaldson (Northern), Steve Knight (Tasman), Fraser McGougan (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) andDavid Skiffington (Taranaki-Manawatu).

Judges will be testing them on a combination of farming knowledge, business, public speaking, practical and personal skills and intelligence – the range of skills and abilities modern farmers need to succeed.

At stake is $82,185 worth of prizes for the winner including a Ford Ranger four-wheel-drive utility, a Honda four-wheel-drive ATV, a selection of Echo equipment, cash from the National Bank, Ravensdown fertiliser and Swanndri clothing.

The total prize package for the final of $160,810 includes a Lincoln University Scholarship and the winner of the Market Innovation Challenge receives an AGARDT scholarship for the FAME programme valued at $28,125.

Buts its not just about what they might win, the finalists have come through tough district and regional contests so getting to the contest is an achievement in itself; and the winner gets not just the prizes but the kudos which goes with being the country’s top Young Farmer.

Blogging on the road

July 7, 2008

The problem of blogging when away from home has been solved, at least in part by my new toy, mobile broadband.


I did a quick post before leaving Wanaka at 6.30 this morning and turned the laptop on again when we got to Otahuti in Southland. There, I was able to check emails, a few news sites and my must-read blogs beside the sheep yards while my farmer helped load a truck.


Reception was maintained from Otahuti until we got past Riverton and I was able to reconnect on the road back to Winton. However, by then the laptop battery was getting low.


I left it in the woolshed for a 10 minute charge as we drove round a farm at Dipton, and the battery is back to 40%, but if I’m going to blog on the road I’ll have to find an adaptor that runs off the cigarette lighter, or invest in a second battery.


$600m loss last time – what’s different now?

July 3, 2008

Does this sound familiar?

The group believes the [meat] industry is at a unique turning point in its history and that there will be profitable opportunities for those companies which can adjust to the new realities of adding value through processing, new technology and marketing…

It could come from those promoting PGG Wrightson’s bid to buy 50% of Silver Fern Farms. But I found it in the book Rural Challenge, A History of Wrightson Limited.

It’s a quote from Fletcher Challenge’s 1985 annual report. By the time the company got out of the meat industry a few years later it had cost them around $600 million.

Swimming Through Syrup In Gumboots

July 2, 2008

Ever wondered what it’s like swimming through syrup in gumboots? Try getting the drainage at your school fixed.

Show Me The Money describes Mike Hosking’s interview on Close UP:

The Education Ministry’s National Property Manager Paul Burke first went through his bureaucratic routine of trying to explain why the school hadn’t quite jumped through all the hoops yet, despite three years of trying. He was trying to explain the shape of the hoops, the number of hoops, how round they were, what they were made of and the exact nature of the leaps required to jump said hoops. He wore a lovely suit with a beautiful tie. He seemed like a man who knew the rules very well. 

I wanted to throw things at the television. Mike Hosking avoided throwing things. But he did quickly tear apart the Kafka-esque web the good bureaucrat was weaving. Why was it taking so long? Why couldn’t the drains be fixed? How many consultants does it take to change the lightbulbs at Tiaho school….and why?

If this was an isolated case it would be bad enough, but it’s not.

It’s the product of the form filling, tick-box, hoop jumping, policy and proceedure before progress mentality which gives bureaucrats the power to say no but strips them of the courage to say yes.

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog

King’s record not as good as reputation

July 2, 2008

Annette King has generally been regarded as a “hard working and competent Minsiter”, but her record isn’t as good as her reputation:

* She created the mess in the health system that was passed to Pete Hodgson and then David Cunliffe.

* She presided over the Electoral Finance Bill & her only defence of the Act is attacks on Bill English.

*  And now she’s the cause of the truckers’ protest which is likely to bring the centres of all the main cities to a standstill on Friday morning.

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