Prayer for a Pandemic





Can’t stand up much


Prince Philip is standing down from royal duties in August.

Because, in his words, he “can’t stand up much longer”.

He’ll be 96 by then.

Council + community = progress


A challenge from Waitaki District mayor Gary Kircher has resulted in the main road in to Moeraki being rebuilt:

. . . Haven St has been closed to through traffic since August 2013 when a 350m to 400m section collapsed following heavy rain.

The road is being rebuilt as part of a push by the Moeraki community to reopen the road because of concerns about the width of the alternative route via Tenby St and that visitors were having problems finding their way to local restaurants and accommodation providers.

A group was formed to work with the Waitaki District Council and manage offers of help and material from local people to tackle the work under the supervision of an engineer and work on the road began in February.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the rebuilt section of street was ”very impressive”. He was ”blown away” by what had been a ”fairly unique partnership” between the Waitaki District Council, the Moeraki community and local contractors.

”Numerous community members have done so well getting the road to this stage.”

He did not believe so much work had ever gone into the stretch of road, which had been notorious for slips for many years.

”Time will be the real test, of course. This work has been the chance to give it our very best effort. If this doesn’t succeed, I’m sure that nothing will, short of spending millions on it.”.

The project started as a challenge the mayor gave to the community at the meeting at the Moeraki Marae late last year.

”They more than met that challenge.”

An NZTA subsidy was not available for the road, and the district council offered to help pay if the community matched it in cash or in kind.

In the end the council would have spent about $60,000 of ratepayers’ money on the road.

He was keen to publicly acknowledge the huge impact the Moeraki community had made. . .

The popularity of the harbour,  Fleurs Place and the tavern leads to a lot of traffic on this road and the detour was less than optimal.

The rebuilding is a tribute to the people who accepted the mayor’s challenge.

This project could be a template for progress in other areas where there’s an opportunity for the council and community to work together.

Even better without boxing


When Sally-Ann Donelly of Fat Sally’s and Portside decides to raise money for a good cause, she doesn’t muck about.

On Saturday night she did it superbly with the Portside Punch Charity Boxing event.

As always with a successful event there was a team  who worked hard, but she led it and it is thanks to her it went so well.

An empty wool store at the harbour was transformed into a warm and welcoming dinner venue with a full-size boxing ring in the middle.

Tables of 10 were sold for $2,5000 and there was a full house.

Ten locals had been training since January to provide the entertainment.

Among them was mayor Gary Kircher  who posted this photo on Facebook:

Photo: It's started! First fight - Mel Tavendale very.  Chontelle Watson!

It was the first boxing match I’d attended and my preconceived notions about it were confirmed.

I can understand how you can injure someone by accident in sport but can’t understand how hurting your opponent can be the object of the exercise.

A friend shared my view that the whole night would have been even better without the boxing and said next time she’d prefer to watch jelly or mud wrestling where no-one would be deliberately hurt.

That said, I have a new respect for the agility and fitness of boxers.

The competitors had taken their training seriously but even so were absolutely stonkered by the end of three three-minute rounds.

And there was no doubt the evening was a success.

The entry fee and half-time auction would have raised around $100,000 which is a very good foundation for the Otago Hospice Trust’s campaign to build a hospice in Oamaru.

That is a very large sum of money to be raised in a relatively small community with a single event and there’s no doubt the hospice was the winner on the night thanks to Sally-Ann’s leadership and hard work.

Community Internship Programme applications open


The Community Internship Programe is calling for applications from not-for-profit groups in need of professional help.

The Community Internship Programme (CIP or the programme) funds hapū, iwi or community groups with identified development needs to employ skilled professionals from the public, iwi, private or community sectors as interns for three to six months.

The programme is designed to achieve specific capacity-building outcomes for host hapū, iwi or community organisations, and relationship-building outcomes between the public, private, iwi or community sectors.

The programme focuses on skill-sharing and the exchange of knowledge between sectors, while building ongoing relationships which continue after an internship ends.

Invercargill MP Eric Roy gives an example: a member of the NZ Police is currently helping Ngāti Porou to develop a youth mentoring programme to support youth at risk.

Not-for-Profit organisations are usually long on passion but can be short on skills.

This is a great idea to marry that passion with the skills they need and foster an on-going relationship with the Not-for-Profit sector.

Quote of the day


“What I think a disaster like this teaches you is that the human spirit is stronger than people think, their willingness to help and their capacity to drop everything and support one another is greater than people think. in the moment of need they don’t think about themselves, they think about others.”John Key

Red and black


For Canterbury:

(Ribbon borrowed from Scrubone at Something Should Go Here Maybe Later)

Fonterra inviting applications for assistance in Christchurch


Any politician knows that you rarely get acknowledged for the good you do and will always be criticised for any lapses.

Businesses suffer from a similar lack of appreciation.

Take Fonterra for example.

When the company’s plan to provide free milk for low decile schools was announced their was some appreciation but the predominant sentiment was, and so they should.

If many ever knew that Fonterra had donated more than $6 million to the Canterbury earthquake recovery, most will have forgotten.

A newsletter to suppliers reminds us:

Immediately after each quake, Fonterra provided on-the-ground Civil Defence support including the provision of water through milk vats and tankers, distribution of UHT and flavoured milk to welfare centres, and assistance with the urban search and rescue effort through our 24-strong Emergency Response Team. Our suppliers also provided emergency accommodation for people affected by the earthquake.

To further assist the Christchurch community, we created a fund that acted as a central collection point for donations from suppliers, staff and joint venture partners.
Fonterra pledged $1 million after each quake. Our suppliers, staff and joint venture partners raised a further $1.9 million for a total of $3.9 million that was donated directly to the Red Cross.

Fonterra also matched dollar-for-dollar the $1.9 million raised to create the ongoing Fonterra Rebuilding Communities Programme. Through Rebuilding Communities, Fonterra has provided donations to The Prime Minister’s Earthquake Relief Appeal, Canterbury Business Recovery Fund and Rise Up Christchurch – Te Kotahitanga Telethon. The Programme has also welcomed applications for funding for direct assistance to Christchurch community groups, clubs and schools.

A final call for funding is open until the end of the month. Any funds left after February 29 will be donated to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal.

Applications can request funding of up to $5,000 for initiatives that fall into the following categories:

1.Community Safety – development of new safety projects such as safety equipment or training to further prepare the community for future disasters. Support in the past has gone to survival kits and first aid training.
2.Christchurch Community – support in replacing essential wellbeing equipment such as toys and books for libraries. This has a positive effect for families, especially children.
3.Environmental Sustainability – restoration of environmental areas which encourage community spirit in schools, early childhood centres and the wider local community. Previous examples include replanting trees and replacing garden beds.

If you know of any groups which could benefit from this funding please spread the word.

Vounteering for Christchurch again


Federated Farmers isn’t making a mass call for farmers to mobilise to help in Chirstchurch as they did in February and June because it’s the busiest time of the year.

However, Federated farmers in partnership with the Student Volunteer Army will be helping where they can:

Open call for volunteers (Boxing Day and December 27) A two-day operation is being led by the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) for Boxing Day (December 26) as well as on December 27. The SVA has established a Volunteering Centre at the QEII (Queen Elizabeth II carpark).  Please click here for a map.

Farmers, if you are available, are invited to turn-up anytime from 9am on either Boxing Day or December 27. It is important to go to QEII first as this is to coordinate teams. There will be no Federated Farmers Farmy Army base camp as in previous operations.

Farmers are asked to bring their own equipment (trailer, shovel & barrow etc), lunch, water and sunscreen. Please also remember to bring your own personal protection equipment and a change of clothing.

If you can’t shovel, feel free to bring some food to distribute.

Areas of need Many would have seen images on the news and it is felt a two-day operation would largely break the back of the immediate problem. Please note that streets in the Bexley area are flooded and volunteers are currently advised to stay away.

Some final thoughts If you are in a position to spare a few hours on December 26 and/or December 27, it will be appreciated. That said, this is the business time of the year for farming and we know the commitment that means.

This year has been devastating to Christchurch but the Canterbury spirit lives on. On behalf of everyone who has served in or helped the Farmy Army, no matter how small or large, can we say all say a collective and sincere thank you.

One of the linings to the earthquake clouds has been the community spirit shown by students, famers and other volunteers who have done so much to help people in so much need.


A failure of community for minority


Farmy Army volunteers have found elderly people stuck in shocking conditions:

John Hartnell of Federated Farmers says there are homes with up to a foot of silt inside, but the elderly occupants are too afraid to leave and seek help.

“There are people really struggling, they don’t have enough food, water’s a problem and there’s cases where people have been too scared to come out of their properties and it’s taken a degree of coaxing to get them to come out and let us come in to help them.”

Mr Hartnell says many have no power, running water or sanitation services. The farmer volunteers have lifted carpets and dried out homes as best they can.

When natural disaster strikes we expect government – local and central – to react and help. But we can not rely on that help when we need it if they don’t know of our plight or they have higher priorities.

In the first instance we must help ourselves, our families, our neighbours and communities.

Modern life has made that more difficult – people are more mobile, families are scattered, neighbours keep to themselves.

In spite of that there are many heart warming stories from Christchurch of people helping people, neighbours looking after neighbours, strangers caring for others in need.

Sadly sometimes, as in the cases the Farmy Army and other volunteers have found, not everyone who needed that support received it.

That isn’t in the first instance a failure of government, central or local, or of civil defence. It’s a failure of community and fortunately it happened to only a minority.

 It will be no comfort to those who were in need and neglected that they were among a small number of people who had no-one close by to care for or about them.

But Christchurch its people and the thousands of volunteers from outside can be proud that they helped, supported and comforted so many.

The community which failed a few made a huge difference to many others.

Consultation fatigue


An email alerted me that a discussion document was available for perusal and gave me instructions on how to download it.


The instructions didn’t work. Perhaps it was due to the incompatibility with our computer, possibly it was the inability of our rural telephone lines to cope with the task or more probably it was my incompetence. Whatever the reason I gave up on technology and requested a copy by post which arrived, as promised, a couple of days later.


I read it from the foreword at the front to the appendices at the back but finished little wiser. There were lots of  general statements with which reasonable people would be hard pressed to disagree. There were a couple of points with which I had a philosophical problem but they were non-negotiable.  


There was also a whole lot of  good intention couched in bureaucrat-speak. And there amongst the linguistic equivalent of candyfloss was a list of meeting dates.


One of these happened to be in Dunedin on a day I had to be there anyway so I turned up at the appointed time to listen and as I listened I had a very strong feeling of déjà vu.


This wasn’t surprising because I had done this before. It was at different places and different times over different issues but it was the same sort of process: they write, we read; they call a meeting, we attend; they talk we listen; we ask questions, they answer; we offer opinions they talk some more. Then we all go away and in the fullness of time they make decisions which appear to take little or no notice of our contribution.


The first time I was involved in such a consultative process was when I was a Plunket mother with a baby who is now in her 20s. That was over social welfare. It was followed by a variety of meetings and musings over mutations in the health system and there were also discussions on education.


Sometimes I was consulted as a member of the public, sometimes as a representative of a group,  sometimes it was as a rural woman.  Sometimes nothing happened as a result of the consultation, sometimes it did but I don’t think it ever bore any relation to anything I’d submitted.


Sometimes that was my fault because my views were ill founded or impractical. Sometimes it was because regardless of the merit of the suggestions, there wasn’t the money to implement them. And sometimes I got the feeling it was because the process of consultation was a naked emperor.


It sounded good, created a lot of  excitement, cost a lot, promised much but delivered little and when it was all over there was nothing to show for it. In the light of this I’ve developed a submission which is simple and has universal application: I want stability, accountability and flexibility.


Stability because I’m sick of the waste of time, energy and money which comes with changes rather than improvements; accountability so we know who’s responsible; and flexibility because different people and different communities have different needs.


If this could be accomplished as efficiently as possible at the least possible cost, that would be a bonus. And if it gives us something that lets the people who actually do things get on with doing them without the need for further consultation that would be even better.

Bill King – a good man


The lovingly tended garden always caught my eye when I walked past. Sometimes the gardener was there and we exchanged a smile and greeting.

One day I stopped for a longer conversation and introduced myself.

“I know who you are,” he replied with a grin.

I soon learned this wasn’t surprising because there was very little which happened in Wanaka which Bill King didn’t know about. This wasn’t because he was nosey, it was because he genuinely and passionately cared about and for his community and its people.

He was a successful businessman and in spite of the time and energy that required his community service was notable for depth, breadth and length in a variety of organisations.

I had most contact with him through the National Party which he joined more than 40 years ago after the local MP helped him with a problem.

He said that showed him that politics was really about helping people and being Bill he wanted to be part of that. He joined the party and became a dedicated, loyal, committed, active and involved member.

If there was a need for volunteer assistance, Bill was always willing. 

Putting up a tent at the annual A&P show, manning it and helping to take it down; collecting subs, selling raffles; encouraging others to support meetings and fundraisers; taking people to and from meetings and polling booths; helping with special votes; putting up, looking after and taking down election hoardings; delivering election material; helping candidates and MPs with local knowledge and contacts . . . if there was a job for a volunteer in Wanaka or further afield, Bill was there to do what is required and more.

This was only a small part of his voluntary work which was notable for the length, breadth and depth of his service in a variety of organisations.

These included the church, Fire Brigade, Wanaka Promotion Association, Grand Lodge, volunteer ambulance driver, Justice of the Peace, Wanaka Pony Club, Wanaka Coroner, Queenstown Lakes District Council, deputy mayor, Chairman of the Wanaka Community Board, ex-officio on Guardians of Lake Wanaka, member of Friends of Dunstan Hospital, Upper Clutha RSA co-ordinator, responsible for placing and instructing mobility scooters,  Masonic Lodge and Hospice Appeal co-ordinator.

Bill’s selflessness was recognised when he was awarded a Queenstown Lakes District Council Community Service Award in 1998 and a QSM in 2000.

However, he never sought the limelight nor expected thanks, he has just quietly noticed when something has needed to be done and done it. Had it not been for his illness he would still be doing it.

He developed cancer last year and not wanting to wait until it was too late, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean organised a function to honour him.

It was humbling to be there, to learn more about what Bill had done and to see the high regard in which he was held in his community.

The evening wasn’t without hope, because that day he’d received news that the tumour in his lungs was getting smaller.

Sadly that was a reprieve, not a cure and last Wednesday he died.

He wouldn’t have wanted to take anyone away from the weekend’s show so his funeral was delayed until yesterday. Family and friends, among whom were representatives of the many groups and organisations he’d helped and supported, filled St Andrews Presbyterian Church and the hall then spilled out on to the lawn. 

We laughed and we cried as we listened to tributes to Bill the husband, father, friend, businessman, bus driver, cook, colleague, councillor, and volunteer extraordinaire.

At the end of the service anyone from a group he’d been associated with was invited to join the fire brigade and ambulance in forming a guard of honour. The lines stretched down the church drive and in to the street.

It was a fitting farewell for a very fine man.

Reducing distance via Skype


Getting round the country’s largest general electorate is no easy job but it becomes even more demanding for the local MP when he’s also Deputy Prime Minsiter, Finance Minsiter and Infrastructure Minister.

However, Bill English plans to use technology  to help him keep in touch with his constituents in Clutha Southland which covers 38,247 square kilometres.

Being in charge of two plum ministerial portfolios will mean more time in the Beehive for Mr English, who said he would be calling on internet video technology to make sure his face was still seen regularly in his electorate.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m hoping to try a few experiments, like using Skype so that I can still do face-to-face meetings, even when I’m in Wellington,” he said.

Mr English expressed little concern over taking on the demanding position of Finance Minister at a time of international economic turmoil.

“It’s going to be a hard job with things the way they are now, but if there’s one thing I learned from my time farming in the south it’s how to be resilient.”

When Eric Roy was asked his opinion of parliament in his earlyd ays as an MP he said there were too many people up there  who’d never had a bad lambing.

Bill’s had more than his share bad lambings, literally and politically. Those experiences and the skills he used to deal with them will be invaluable in handling his demanding new responsibilities in very challenging times.

Too many groups too little for causes


Last month was blue for prostate awareness, and orange for atrthritis, this month it’s pink for breast cancer, it was Hospice Appeal last Friday and there was an envelope in yesterday’s mail for Plunket.

Almost every time I go to town there’s someone selling raffles outside the supermarket and hardly a week goes by that there isn’t someone on the street or the phone asking for money for a very worthy cause.

The Manawatu Standard  wonders if it’s all getting too much:

Every week is another awareness week – if not for cancer, for some other health, disability or learning difficulty group.

If you have a conscience, your pay packet is constantly clobbered to help these genuinely good causes that need our support.

What worries me is that there are so many support groups in New Zealand now, all doing pretty much the same thing for different-flavoured causes. All with administrators organising volunteers, many with PR companies helping produce professional media kits, many with little widgets for the public to buy, to wear, to keep, to raise awareness to raise funds to help. Every day brings another awareness day, week, month, year.

Nobody’s going to like this and nobody’s going to have the stomach to do it. Feelings will be hurt. But honestly, what’s needed isn’t so much a rosy glow of pink lights over Palmerston North as a strong searchlight review of the whole fundraising industry, to get rid of duplication and the constant blaring barrage to give to every cause going.

There’s also a compelling argument that support, treatment and research shouldn’t depend on donations from the generous. What are our taxes for, if not to look after New Zealanders?

There will always be a place, and a need, for private philanthropy but I do wonder if a little judicious rationalisation of the many worthy groups might mean lower overheads with less duplication which would require less time, energy and money spent on the organisations and leave more for the causes.

At risk kids not just big city problem


The Southland Times reports that more Invercargill children are “at risk”, with reports of 11 year olds sleeping in skips and an increase in under-age pregnancies.

Aurora College principal Robyn Hickman said at-risk youth problems people thought existed only in South Auckland and Porirua had come to Invercargill.

“There’s been more serious offences at a younger age than what we’ve ever noticed before.

“It’s not just an educational problem, it’s a wider societal issue.” At-risk youth have behaviour problems, lack social skills, play truant, abuse substances, can be violent and harm themselves.

It is a societal problem with a variety of causes. One of these is intergenerational family dysfunction

Invercargill truancy officer Vicki Paul said kids were falling through gaps in the system. “Babies are bringing up babies, for god’s sake.” Problems started when families did not get the right support and that was when crime came into the picture, she said.

If parents aren’t equipped to look after themselves there is almost no chance that they’ll look after their children. Each generation of dysfunction exacerbates the problem and the longer it’s left to address the causes the more difficult it will be to turn the tide.

And while it’s a societal issue rather than an educational one, poor literacy and numeracy are part of the cause so better education must be part of the solution.

Sunday social


Keeping Stock has a Friday Forum, NZ Conservative has a Friday Night Free for All, Friday Feminist is cross posted on both The Hand Mirror  and In A Strange Land, Adam Smith at Inquiring Mind does a Saturday Rant and here at Homepaddock there’s the Sunday Social.

It’s an opportunity to look back at the week that was, forward to the one ahead or to chat about the weekend.

We’re in Dunedin after the celebration of an 80th birthday at Plato last night. The cafe was a hostel for seafarers and is decorated in retro-style, stuffed to the gills with 50s and 60s kitch. That was very appropriate because I met the birthday girl in 1959 when she moved next door with her family. I was two at the time, so was the youngest of her four daughters and we’ve been friends ever since.

The birthday girl was an only child until she was about 19 when her parents had another daughter. Soon after that her mother had a stroke and the BG gave up her studies to look after her mother, care for her sister and teach her father to cook.

She married, had four daughters, immersed herself in home, family, church and community. I know no-one who has done more for others and done it both graciously and willingly. Her husband had a heart attack and died whens he was just 51 but she didn’t allow that tragedy to make her bitter and has carried on caring for and giving to her family, friends and society.

People like this don’t make the headlines but they make our world a much better place. As one of those paying tribute to her last night said, it’s angels like her who make heaven on earth.

Peopleism next step for post-feminist progress


When a friend is asked why her surname differs from her husband’s, she says it’s because he wouldn’t change his when they married.


That the question is even asked is a sign that feminism hasn’t achieved all it set out to. But I am not sure it’s the best vehicle for continuing the journey towards equality – if indeed that is where we ought to be aiming, because some say that women who want to equal men lack ambition.


Moving on from that, there are many ways in which life is better for women of my generation than it was for those before us because of the battles fought and won by feminists.


But while the barriers which used to stop women following traditionally male careers have largely disappeared, has much improved for those in what were traditionally female occupations whether it’s men or women who are doing them?


Feminism has helped women who want to break through the glass ceiling but it has done less for those who clean up behind them. And while it’s generally accepted that women can go where only men went before, the reverse is not necessarily the case.


So while women may be accepted as mechanics or engineers, a man who chooses to be a kindergarten teacher, a midwife or to stay at home with the children is likely to be asked, “Whad are ya?”


Whether it is a man or a woman who is left holding the babies, the role of primary caregiver is still an undervalued one and that can be said about a lot of other ocupations, paid or unpaid, regardless of who does them. Because when it comes down to basics, it’s the job not the gender which counts and feminism has done nothing to change that.


If you shear a sheep it is a job, if you knit its wool into a jumper in a factory or at home for money that’s work too but if you do the knitting for love, it’s only a hobby. Getting a lamb from conception through to chops in the butchery is real work, but getting the chops from the butcher’s to the dining table and cleaning up afterwards is not.


Whoever is doing it, these domestic duties are still largely regarded as the unpaid and often unappreciated preserve of women in spite of the best efforts of generations of feminists.


There are a lot more important issues than who does the dirty work at home to worry about, but I’m not convinced that feminism is the best way to address them either.


One reason for my reservation is that by definition feminism means for women, which leaves a niggling suspicion that it also means against men.


Even if it is possible to be pro-women without being anti-men, feminism emphasises the differences rather than the similarities; yet it’s easier to win friends, and campaigns, by establishing common ground than by highlighting divergence. So we should be seeking solutions to our problems, not because we are women but because we are people and these are people’s problems.


Self-advocates in IHC call themselves People First  because that’s how they want to be seen. And surely that’s the best way to see everyone, as people, without labels and regardless of any differences between us and others.


I am not repudiating feminism, but suggesting there is a step forward from feminism to peopleism; where issues and concerns are addressed by people because they are people’s issues and concerns.


Sometimes a group of people or its members might be better able to help those in the group because of what they have in common. But almost always people from other groups have something to offer too. And sometimes by labelling an issue a particular groups issue enables those in other groups to ignore it because it’s not their concern.


In other words sometimes women are better able to help other women, but that doesn’t mean men might not be able to help too; and it might prevent the side-lining of important matters as women’s issues if they were regarded as people’s issues.



And we’ll know we’ve succeeded when my friend no longer has to explain why she and her husband have different surnames.



This post was prompted by Noelle McCarthy’s  column in the Herald  and Deb’s response to it at In A Strange Land. and The Hand Mirror









Lack of Community in our Communities


The headline The Horror Hits Home   with an opening pararpah that asks how two infants can allegedly starve to death in an ordinary looking house in an ordinary looking suburb, could have been written about New Zealand. This story however, is about Australia in the wake of the discovery of two babies who starved to death but the issues our our issues too.

What has happened to our communities and neighbourhoods?

Have we become so self-absorbed, so work-oriented or so crippled by the idea that governments should be responsible for the protection of children that we have become the look-away society, where homes have become boltholes and the most vulnerable among us – the old and the young, the sick and infirm – live in dreadful isolation?

Demographer Bernard Salt sees it as a “loss of connectivity”, a separation from our neighbours, that has been growing for several decades in suburbs that have become increasingly amorphous.

“Within the space of about two generations, Australia has moved from being household-based to being workplace-based, and the result has been that any sense of neighbourhoodness has moved out of suburbia and into the office,” he says.

“Most of us are now more likely to have a conversation about the events of the day over the office partition than the back fence.

“As a result, home has become something of a bolthole, leaving suburbia and its role as a place of community connectedness severely diminished.”

And not only in suburbia, it happens in the country too. It’s six weeks since Gypsy weekend when numerous dairy farm workers change jobs but I’m yet to meet any of the new people in our neighbourhood. 

One of the neighbours and I spoke of having a pot luck meal for our road and its off shoots, before calving when it gets too busy. But the first calves are already arriving and we’ve got no further than talking about it.

Heading Feds Requires Change from Sheep


Taking on the presidency of Federated Farmers is pushing Don Nicolson to change from running sheep on his farm to leasing it for dairying.

His 212 ha farm is too small to justify the cost of employing a manager but too big for him to run by himself while also serving as president.

“My intention is to give it [Federated Farmers presidency] 24/7 attention, but I can’t do both. There is no way given the economics of sheep farming that I can employ a manager.”

His experience illustrated one of the major challenges facing farmers and a reason he was looking at joining the flood of sheep and beef farmers changing to dairying.

Last year, he made a net profit of just $1 a stock unit over his 2500 stock units. Leasing to a dairy farmer would earn him a net profit of $200,000.

“It makes no sense to stay in the sheep industry.”

Even without taking on the presidency the difference in income from dairying or sheep and beef is a pretty compelling argument for change.  But even so, this is a reminder of the sacrifices made by people who take office in voluntary organisations.

The Oamaru Mail reported last week that North Otago Council of Social Services was disbanding because it had too few members. It’s the lament of just about every voluntary organisation be it sport or leisure club, religious, service or lobby group, or political party.

Yet the voluntary sector is still a vital part of our communities and society. We’re fortunate that there still are people willing to play an active role in them in spite of the cost in financial, and personal terms and the many competing demands for their time, talent and energies.

Please Give blood – I can’t


A friend encouraged me to become a blood donor when I was at high school and I continued more or less regularly for several years.

The day our daughter was born, a donation from someone else saved both our lives. The nurse who was setting up the transfusion mentioned AIDS then said – but don’t worry we only give blood from women to pregnant mothers. Ah yes, that seems most peculiar now but this was 1985 before blood was routinely screened.

Anyway, whoever gave the blood, it was fortuantely free from any infection because once I stopped breast feeding I became a donor again in between subsequent preganancies and feeding.

That all stopped several years ago though when anyone who had been in Britain for more than 6 months in the 1980s was precluded from being a donor for fear of transmitting Mad Cow Disease.

I don’t remember eating beef when I was in Briatin – we lived on tinned tomatoes becasue they were cheap – but regardless of that I can’t be a donor anymore.

Tomorrow is Blood Donor Day – I hope those who can will give because,  as the advertisement says the life you save might be your own.

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