How old’s old enough?

August 1, 2019

Coroner Tim Scott said that a six year-old should not have been walking to and from school by herself:

Carla Neems was five weeks’ shy of her seventh birthday when she was fatally struck by a rubbish truck outside her Gisborne home on May 2, 2017.

In findings released on Wednesday, Coroner Tim Scott said it was “unacceptable” for Carla’s parents to allow her to walk to and from school with her older siblings, and children her age should be accompanied by an adult. . . 

Coroners have a job to do which includes making recommendations that might prevent future fatalities but there is no such thing as completely safe and blaming her parents for Carla’s death is heartless and wrong.

If six, nearly seven is too young, how old id old enough for children to walk a few hundred metres without an adult in tow?

This was a tragic accident which Carla’s family, their friends and the truck driver will carry for the rest of their lives but it should not be used to further curtail children’s incidental exercise and freedom.

If children can’t walk safely to school, address what makes it dangerous, don’t blame parents and provide yet more reasons for children to be mollycoddled.


Rural round-up

October 7, 2018

Quite and capable – Richard Rennie:

A farm apprenticeship course now a year old is starting to have an influence on getting more Kiwis in jobs on dairy farms.

Tirau farm apprentice Kadience Ruakere-Forbes is among the first year’s intake under the Federated Farmers’ Apprenticeship Dairy Programme, a pilot programme supported by PrimaryITO, the federation and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . . 

Dairy database rules under review – Hugh Stringleman:

The valuable core database of the New Zealand dairy industry is subject to a regulatory review by the Ministry for Primary Industries, to which organisations and people can make submissions.

Consultation will run for six weeks until November 12 and any submission becomes public information, MPI said.

The key issue is whether the regulated dataset remains well aligned with the dairy industry’s current and future animal evaluation needs. MPI said there has been some concern expressed among dairy genetics companies about the management of herd improvement data. . .

Huge costs of pasture pests – Peter BUrke:

Grass grub and porina are causing $2.3 billion of damage to New Zealand pastures annually, according to an AgResearch study.

Of the total estimated annual losses in average years, up to $1.4b occurs on dairy farms and up to $900m on sheep and beef farms.

But scientist Colin Ferguson says this figure relates only to the damage to pasture and doesn’t include the cost of replacing the pasture, destocking and restocking and the long lasting damage to affected pasture. . . 

$11m study dives into high value milk products – Peter Burke:

A five year, $11 million research project has begun, aimed at producing new high value milk products.

Led by Professor Warren McNabb, of the Riddet Institute, Palmerston North, the project will seek better mechanistic understanding of the various milks produced in New Zealand including cow, goat, sheep and deer.

A particular aim will be to develop new products for babies, very young children and elderly people in New Zealand and, especially, for export. . .

 

First failed WorkSafe prosecution:

Athenberry Holdings Ltd grows Kiwifruit near Katikati. Zespri buy the fruit, brand, market and sell the fruit. Zespri engaged Agfirst to sample and test maturity and quality of fruit.

Agfirst use a local packhouse Hume to collect the samples. AgFirst’s sample collector died during the collection of fruit when her quad bike overturned on rough ground next to Athenberry’s kiwifruit block.

She was employed by AgFirst who had contracted a local packhouse – Hume Pack-N-Cool Ltd (Hume). It appears the rider had taken the quad bike over steep and rough terrain away from the area where she was required to collect samples.

Her training and industry practices are that you stick to the offical and mown access paths. No-one was sure why she deviated. . . 

Gene edited food is coming to your plate, no regulation included – Lydia Mulvany:

For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a “Frankenfood” future.

Zimmerman is among farmers in several states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet-unknown peril.

In March, the top U.S. regulator said no new rules or labeling are needed for gene-edited plants since foreign DNA isn’t being inserted, the way traditional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are made. Instead, enzymes that act like scissors are used to tweak a plant’s genetic operating system to stop it from producing bad stuff — in this case, polyunsaturated fats — or enhance good stuff that’s already there. . . 


The other families

October 1, 2018

The costs of the Pike River recovery agency are high and rising:

Pike River Recovery Agency has spent $2.5 million in its first financial year, including nine staff paid more than $100,000 a year.

And its boss warns that re-entering the West Coast coal mine, the site of a 2010 explosion that cost 29 lives, might cost millions of dollars more than its original $23 million budget, as the complexities of the operation become apparent. . .

And what of the human cost, not just for the families who always feature in the news, the ones who want the mine re-entered; what of the other families who don’t?

This letter to the editor of The Listener is from one of the other mothers:

My son died in the PIke River mine accident and I couldn’t agree more with the views of Heather Levack (Letter July 28). Not all the 29 families seek recovery of any remains. I am vehemently opposed to it for many reasons, cost being one of them.

My understanding is  the $23 million budget quoted is for only for re-entering the drift and not the actual mine where it is presumed any remains are.

Millions of dollars have already been spent. Any more should go on the living – perhaps on health services in Westland and elsewhere, or on education or on low-cost housing.

I was disgusted but not surprised when Pike River was used for politically before the last election, the present situation being the outcome .

Lack of sensitivity and compassion is distressing to most who are affected by these tragedies. . .

Losing a child in tragic circumstances and living with and accepting that loss is not alleviated by the unwelcome intrusion of those who wish to ‘use’ those circumstances . . My son’s death for me is neither about political grandstanding nor entertainment – Marion Curtin. 

Michael Wright interviewed this mother for a story on bereaved  parents who want to let the past be:

When it got really bad, Marion Curtin would turn on Concert FM. Any sort of music worked, really, but Curtin was a devout Radio New Zealand listener, so the public broadcaster was her first choice. It wasn’t the music she was interested in so much, though. Over on RNZ National the words ‘Pike River’ could be uttered at any moment. On Concert FM, you only needed to avoid the news bulletins.

Curtin, from Christchurch, has spent almost eight years in quiet opposition to what the public could be forgiven for mistaking was the united front of the Pike River families. For most of that time, a group of victims’ family members have fought for accountability over the tragedy and lobbied governments to re-enter the mine to recover the bodies of the 29 who died there, including Curtin’s son, Richard Holling​.

Their efforts have commanded considerable media coverage. This month, stories have focused on the efforts of experts in reviewing options for possible re-entry into the mine drift.

It’s not hard to find stories in favour of re-entry. The Listener letter, this story, and a long ago email read on breakfast TV are the only ones I’d come across before this which give the view of the other parents, those who oppose the idea of attempting re-entry.

Curtin finds the idea abhorrent.

“I don’t understand [the pro-re-entry] view. To me it’s an irrational one. Why they think there are bodies to bring out just beggars belief as far as I’m concerned. The amount of money that’s been spent I think is disgusting. To me it’s just sacrilege. It’s like grave-robbing. It’s awful.”

Mostly, Curtin has kept her counsel on this. Occasionally she has spoken to the media, or written letters to the editor of the Press . But maintaining a public opposition to a prevailing view isn’t easy.

“It’s very hard to go against what is perceived as the majority,” she said. “Because I would much rather not be doing it. I do it to stop an inaccurate picture being painted of ‘the families’. It’s very seldom that someone speaks up and says to them ‘enough’s enough’.”

Curtin has been resolute throughout that the explosion was an accident and retribution against Pike River bosses was pointless. As soon as the re-entry question was raised, she was against that too. Though she received some “positive” feedback when she did speak publicly, she isn’t in contact with any other like-minded bereaved families. Her two daughters and wider family share her view. . .

It was some comfort after the deaths of our two sons to know that no-one was at fault.

Those grieving the loss of the men killed in Pike River don’t have that comfort and the strong wish of some of them to find answers is understandable.

But at what cost and not just in dollar terms?

The re-entry has been politicised by Labour and New Zealand First which is despicable.

Would they have done so if media coverage had made it clear that the campaign for re-entry was not supported by all the families?

Would knowing that the on-going publicity makes matters worse for some of the families have influenced public opinion? Would that in turn have stopped the politicalisation of the tragedy?

All the re-entry planning has done is prolong the agony for all the families – those wanting to let their dead be and those wanting to find answers.

But what if someone gets up the drift and finds nothing? Will the pressure then be to enter the mine itself?

What if someone dies in the attempt?

The living should never be put at risk to recover the dead.

Had there been more balanced coverage, the public support of the agitating families would have been more muted and that might, just might, have stopped the politically motivated and misguided support for a re-entry attempt.


Rural round-up

December 27, 2017

More than 100 people help farming family after tragedy – Andrew Owen:

About 40 shearers and a support crew of more than 60 helped a farming family complete one of the biggest tasks of the year, days after a tragic accident cost the lives of their son and his friend.

Craig “Yopp” Murphy, 31, and his mate Jason Payne, 34, died on December 9 when their ute rolled on a remote, privately-owned farm in Kohuratahi, in the Whangamomona Valley, about 76 kilometres inland from Stratford.

Craig Murphy’s funeral took place on Saturday, December 16, and four days later more than 100 people got to work helping his bereaved parents, Whangamomona Valley farmers Dan and Kathy Murphy, shear their 3400 sheep for free, a task that needed to be finished at the peak of the season before Christmas. . .

Hunter Downs scheme meets share target – Daniel Birchfield:

The 12,000ha Hunter Downs irrigation scheme is to go ahead, after the required number of shares were sold.

Hunter Downs Water Ltd, the company behind the proposal to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, held its annual meeting on December 14, when it was expected a decision would be made on whether to proceed or return funds to those who had already made the commitment to take water.

After a delay of several days, Hunter Downs Water Ltd chairman Andrew Fraser announced yesterday the company had “secured sufficient farmer uptake to now enable it to proceed” and finalise the funding structure and contractual arrangements to start construction, which was likely to be early next year. . .

New trapping project already successful – Louise Scott:

A pest control operation to protect native birds in the Rees-Dart River delta is proving successful just one month in.

Glenorchy local Russell Varcoe has built and set four new trapping lines as part of the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust’s Braided River Project.

That includes 601 traps — of which 574 had been placed by last Friday.

It is hoped the project will protect five species classified by the Department of Conservation as either endangered or threatened: wrybills, black-fronted terns, banded dotterels, black-billed gulls and black stilts . .

Leading questions: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno:

Business leaders discuss the year just gone and what will affect them in 2018. Today: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno.

What is 2018 looking like for your business?

2017 was very busy – after opening a new infant formula blending and packaging facility in Auckland, and nearing capacity at our Dunsandel site, we are entering 2018 looking to build an infant formula manufacturing site somewhere in the upper North Island.

We’ll also be constructing a $125 million world-class milk packaging plant in Dunsandel to supply fresh milk and cream to South Island families through our new partnership with Foodstuffs South Island. . . 

 

 

Rain on Christmas wish-list as drought conditions become critical in outback Queensland – Eric Barker:

With less than half the average rainfall across many parts of western Queensland this year, rain is top of the Christmas wish-list for most graziers.

While widespread winter rain in 2016 lifted spirits, most of central and south-west Queensland has been officially drought declared for the past four years.

Grazier and Blackall Tambo Shire Mayor Andrew Martin said most of the area had been suffering below-average wet seasons before the drought declarations. . .


Another death at Moeraki turn-off

November 23, 2016

Another person has died at a North Otago highway black spot:

One person was killed in a three-car collision opposite the turn-off to tourist hot spot Moeraki Boulders, yesterday afternoon.

Police were called to the site about 3.30pm.

One person died at the scene and another with critical injuries was transported by rescue helicopter to Dunedin Hospital.

Two people with moderate injuries were taken to Oamaru Hospital.

Earlier this year, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) released information to the Otago Daily Times which showed eight deaths had occurred between Maheno and Moeraki since 2011.

Information provided by the agency identified 10 serious crashes in the area from 2011 to 2015. . .

 The turn-off to the Moeraki Boulders is on a straight stretch of road, which slopes moderately down-hill if you’re traveling south.

Visibility shouldn’t be a problem.

But if you aren’t used to looking right, left and right again, don’t look carefully enough, overshoot the intersection  and slow suddenly, concentrate on your GPS instead of the road and traffic . . . there are lots of opportunities for driver error to turn into tragedy.

 


What % of the drivers are tourists?

November 22, 2015

A coroner says the perception tourist drivers are causing mayhem on our roads is unfounded.

. . .Coroner Gordon Matenga released his findings into their deaths and found both accidents were caused by inexperience.

However, fewer than 6 percent of fatal and serious crashes in the past five years were caused by international visitors.

While many crashes involving foreign drivers were highlighted in the media, the reality was many more people were killed on the roads by New Zealanders, Mr Matenga said. . . 

Six percent is a small percentage of all accidents but the conclusion that tourist drivers aren’t a problem can’t be made without knowing what percentage of all drivers are tourists?

When we drive in countries where we’re driving on the opposite side of the road from New Zealand we reckon it takes both of us to drive.

Even then there’s a real danger of habit creeping in – looking right when we exit a petrol station, seeing no approaching traffic on that side of the road and forgetting it’s coming from the left; remembering to look left, look right, look left but then turning on to the left-hand side of the road . . .

Even without the complication of driving on the other side of the road, New Zealand roads have multiple hazards for those not used to them, including the temptation to marvel at the scenery instead of concentrating on driving.


Just a fire?

February 27, 2015

A van fire in an underground car park  has necessitated the evacuation of a Westfield West City complex in Henderson.

It could be the result of an accident.

It could be the result of criminal action which might or not be an act of terrorism.

The safety of fire fighters and staff, shoppers and others in the vicinity is more important than the cause at this stage.

 


%d bloggers like this: