Rural round-up

July 18, 2020

Harvesters fear for industry as temporary workers’ visa expiration looms – Nona Pelletier:

The horticulture industry warns it may have to cut back on the harvest, if the government does not move quickly to head-off a critical labour shortage in spring.

The hospitality, pork, shearing, dairy and agricultural services industries were also concerned about labour shortages, with thousands of working holiday visas expected to expire on or before 25 September.

More of concern was the skilled temporary workers who were unable to re-enter the country.

The minister of immigration promised the horticultural industry that it would be able to recruit up to 14,400 registered seasonal workers from Pacific Islands later this year. . . 

Rural mental health service inundated by women hoping ‘farm speak’ will save men – Pip Courtney and Margot Kelly:

Mothers, wives and sisters have overwhelmed a suicide prevention service with stories of loss and grief after it featured on ABC Landline.

The founder, plant scientist Mary O’Brien, said women left behind after a son, brother, or husband took their own lives, also needed support but often slipped through the cracks.

Ms O’Brien said country women had contacted her to share their stories and thank her for encouraging rural men to ask for help when they were mentally ‘bogged’.

“Many had lost sons and several had lost a father and a brother, or a brother and a husband,” Ms O’Brien said. . . 

Stoat breakthrough could be the key to eradication:

In a country with few living native predators, stoats are the kings of the forest.

Despite appearances, these mustelids are brutal creatures: carnivores who can kill animals many times their size, from rabbits and hares to possums, birds, and even freshwater crayfish.

In many environments in New Zealand, they are the top predator.

As such, they’re a big threat to many of our native species, and the eradication of stoats is a key point in New Zealand’s ambitious goal to be predator-free by 2050.

At the moment, we rely largely on chemical drops and organised trapping missions to get rid of them – but a scientific breakthrough may have changed that. . . 

‘Jaw-droppingly beautiful’: Wanaka winery makes top 50 list

A list of the world’s 50 best vineyards for wine tourism has named a Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay estate as being among the best.

And those two Kiwi vineyards rank in the top 20 in the world in the list out today.

The global list of wine tourism destinations named Argentina’s Zuccardi Valle de Uco in the top spot for the second year running.

Bodega Garzón in Uruguay was second for a consecutive year and Domäne Wachau in Austria jumped 16 places to claim third spot this year.

But Central Otago’s Rippon, on the Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Rd, placed 13th and was also named the best vineyard in Australasia. . . 

Congratulations to Annabel Angland – Corteva Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2020:

Annabel Angland from Peregrine became the Corteva Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2020 on 16 July following the competition held at Otago Polytechnic Central Campus in Bannockburn.

Congratulations also goes to Liam Burgess from Viticultura who came second and Jordan Moores from Felton Road who came third.

There were eight contestants competing in total. The other five contestants were Katrina Jackson from Chard Farm, Hannah van Velthoven from Prophets Rock, Daniel Brewster from Akarua, Annabel Wylie from Rippon and Theresa Woessner from Domaine Thomson.

“It was one of the closest competitions, we’ve ever seen” said Nick Paulin, the Regional Organiser, and all judges commented on the high calibre of the contestants. . .

 

 

Burger King’s “breathe the farts of change” not passing the sniff test– Dr Frank Mitloehner:

Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, hold the methane?

new communication campaign from Burger King is promising beef that comes from cows that are 33 percent less gassy on average, allowing the international fast-food chain’s consumers to have it their way without guilt.

Burger King, which is part of Restaurant Brands International, has been adding lemongrass to cows’ diets in an attempt to cut down on cattle’s methane emissions. Given the greenhouse gas’ role in global warming, it’s a big deal. If nothing else, decreasing methane would buy us time to try and get a handle on carbon dioxide emissions, the No. 1 elephant in the room – and in the atmosphere.

According to Burger King, cattle that consume the modified diet produce up to one-third less methane than cows that eat a more traditional diet. “ … We found that by adding 100 grams of dried lemongrass leaves to the cows’ daily feed, we were able to see a reduction of up to 33% on average of methane emissions during the period the diet was fed (the last three-to-four months of the cow’s life in the case of our research),” the website states.

It’s a noble pursuit, and such results would definitely be welcome, but has Burger King jumped the gun? . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 12, 2020

Farm owner rejects carbon bids to buy East Coast station – Tom Kitchin:

A Gisborne farmer is ecstatic that a large sheep and cattle station in Tolaga Bay – which has just changed hands for the first time in nearly half a century – will not be turned into forestry.

Earlier this week the Labour Party announced plans to introduce legislation limiting forestry conversions of the most productive land, if it wins re-election.

Annette Couper is saying goodbye to Mangaheia Station, a farm that’s been in her family since the 1970s.

She said selling up was tough, but none of her daughters were farmers. . .

Shortage of skilled operators – Yvonne O’Hara:

Invercargill agricultural contractor Daryl Thompson is more than “extremely worried” about finding enough skilled and experienced staff to operate his expensive equipment for the coming season.

“On a scale of one to 10, ranging from not worried to extremely worried, I am sitting at a 12.”

Mr Thompson, of DThompson Contracting, usually employs 50 to 60 people in Southland during the season, including trainees and retired farmers. . .

Tahr Foundation welcomes landmark High Court decision on DoC’s controversial extermination plan:

The Tahr Foundation is welcoming the High Court decision halting DOC’s controversial plan to kill thousands of tahr through the Southern Alps.

The Foundation asked the High Court for a judicial review of DOC’s plan to exterminate all Himalayan Tahr in national parks and sharply reduce tahr populations in other areas.

The application was heard in the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday and Justice Dobson has just released his decision this afternoon.

In the decision, Justice Dobson says that DOC is to reconsider its decision to proceed with the 2020-2021 plan after consulting with interests represented by the Foundation and other stakeholders. . . 

B+LNZ’s Economic Service celebrates 70th anniversary:

This month marks the 70th anniversary of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service, which was initially set up in 1950 to help a struggling post-war sheep sector.

The Service was established as a joint venture between the Meat Board and Wool Board after a 1947 Royal Commission study recommended establishing a Sheep Industry Board to collect and document factual information about farm production and economics.

This continues to be done today, as it was back in 1950, through the Economic Service’s Sheep and Beef Farm Survey.

As well as giving insight into the state and financial health of New Zealand’s agricultural industry, the information gathered through the Survey is used to inform local, regional and central government policy, underpin forecasts and trends in meat and wool production. It also enables farmers to benchmark their own businesses against others in their cohort. . . 

Property sales to finance wool :

Plans to sell and lease back its portfolio of properties are part of a range of ways Cavalier is financing its natural fibre strategy, chief executive Paul Alston says.

Alston said listing the firm’s three industrial sites in Auckland, Napier and Whanganui is about transforming the company into a high-end, premium flooring brand rather than strengthening the balance sheet.

“We are comfortable with current debt levels,” he said, referring to the sale and lease back plans and noted the firm can access more bank funding to cope with any covid-related impacts. . . 

£2m grant to help Scottish farmers create more woodland :

Over £2 million is being made available to Scottish landowners and farmers to help them play their part in creating more woodland.

The support is part of Scottish Forestry’s Harvesting and Processing Grant, which will help farmers and foresters buy specialist woodland equipment.

This could range from poly tunnels, seed trays through to mounding equipment, work site welfare units and small scale sawmills for wood processing. . .


Rural round-up

June 26, 2020

Govt’s obsession with planting trees a big mistake – Mike Hosking:

am glad the forestation of this country at the expense of good, productive farmland finally appears to be getting the sort of attention it deserves. The trouble with a crisis, is it takes your eye off all sorts of balls, and  various issues would have had far greater scrutiny if we hadn’t had a virus to deal with.

Planting trees to allow us to meet our Paris accord deal is potentially a catastrophic mistake that is unfolding before our eyes.

Firstly, because our calling card to the world is not our climate credentials, it’s the food we sell. For that you need productive land. Under the Emission Trading Scheme changes, the price of carbon lifts. As it lifts, it becomes more attractive to buy land to plant trees.

Planting trees is easy, and people always take the easy path. And what makes this worse is many who invest in these trees have no intention of harvesting them. They’re simply there to clip the ticket. . . 

Majority of farmers find Fonterra Shareholders’ Council ineffective – survey – Eric Frykberg:

The main watchdog for dairy giant Fonterra has been told it has to lift its game.

The comments came in the first of a two-part inquiry into Fonterra Shareholders Council.

The council is supposed to monitor the company on behalf of its 10,000 farmer shareholders, but it has incurred a lot of criticism including comments from the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor that it was “less a watchdog than a lapdog”.

The Shareholders Council commissisoned a review of itself last year, chaired by veteran public servant James Buwalda. . . 

Wool classer receives merit award – Yvonne O’Hara:

Wool has always been part of Anne-Marie Parcell’s life.

“I love it and not a day goes by when I am not staring at sheep or touching wool. If I am not spinning it, I am shearing or crutching or drafting. I never wear polar fleece,” the Bannockburn wool classer said.

And neither did the two lambs that turned up last week wearing wearing wool jackets.

Ms Parcell was delighted when she was given a merino merit award from the New Zealand Wool Classers Association recently, for the clip she classed at Northburn Station, near Cromwell. . .

Fonterra announces Peter McBride as chairman elect:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (FCG) has announced that current Farmer Director, Peter McBride has been selected as the Co-operative’s Chairman-elect by his fellow Directors.

Under Fonterra’s constitution, its Chairman is selected by the Board from within its pool of seven elected Farmer Directors.

Mr McBride will replace current Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan when he retires as a Director of the Co-op at its Annual Meeting this November. . .

Adept wool presser will never give up :

Here’s a riddle … If two shearers clip a total of 100 sheep, and one shears three more than the other — what is the tally for each? Turangi Morehu jokes that he has asked this riddle to many in the shearing fraternity over the years, including world champion Sir David Fagan “and I’m still waiting for his answer”, he quips.

Mr Morehu, known to most as Tu, “after one and before three”, is the ubiquitous and hard-working character floating between the gangs of Peter Lyons Shearing, keeping an eye on things for Mr Lyons and wife, Elsie.

Originally from Tuatahuna and spending his younger years in Rotorua, Mr Morehu has worked as a wool presser since he left school at the age of 13 . .

Kauri still waiting for dieback plan – Farrah Hancock:

A pest management plan for kauri dieback is missing in action. Farah Hancock reports.

Thirty months after it was announced, there’s still no National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback.

In 2017, the Government said it was moving immediately to strengthen efforts to protect kauri trees. One of those efforts was creating a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP).

“An NPMP shows how serious we are about protecting kauri. It is by far the strongest piece of regulation available and will ensure mandatory hygiene practices, consistent regulations that apply nationally, stronger governance and access to funding,” said Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor when he announced the plan in December 2017. . .

Britain opens free trade negotiations with New Zealand – Liz Truss:

This week is the start of an exciting new chapter in the shared history of Britain and New Zealand.

Our two island nations are already close friends, bound tightly by cultural, economic and social ties that have stood the test of time.

Britain is the largest ex-pat community in New Zealand. We both share a language, a head of state and a system of common law. We also share a strong commitment to free and fair trade, and believe fundamentally in the rule of law and the power that democracy has to drive forward human progress. . .


Rural round-up

June 4, 2020

Market base is strong but . . .  Annette Scott:

Despite significant primary sector disruption from covid-19 and drought Beef + Lamb forecasts a positive outlook for sheep and beef exports this season. 

It’s mid-season update says beef, lamb and mutton farmgate prices will maintain their high levels.

That is supported by a strong start to the first half of the season and an expected weakening of the New Zealand dollar.

While the drought and covid-19 have both had impacts for farmers and meat processors the fundamentals look likely to remain strong for sheep meat and beef exports this year, Beef + Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt said.  . . 

Govt’s N fertiliser cap ignores basic science – Doug Edmeades:

Dr Doug Edmeades takes a look at the problems with the Government’s nitrogen fertiliser caps.

The Government’s recent decision to cap N fertiliser inputs at 190 kg N/ha/yr is doomed to failure because it ignores the basic science.

When an animal urinates, it applies N at the rate of about 500 to 1000 kg N/ha.

This is too much for the pasture and soil to accommodate and hence results in a huge excess of soluble N in a localised spot of soil, which is then subject to leaching into waterways. . . 

Pioneer in deer industry, conservation dedicates award to supporters – Liz Chen:

A man who received a Queen’s Birthday honour for services to wildlife conservation and the deer industry says the award is shared with everyone who’s made a contribution.

Murray Powell, now 89, established the Hilldale Zoo and Wildlife Park in 1969, now the Hamilton Zoo, and together with his late wife put significant investment towards the zoo’s development over the years.

The zoo is now one of Hamilton’s leading attractions with more than 140,000 visitors a year.

It runs successful breeding programmes as well as conservation and research projects for both nationally and internationally endangered species. . .

Face masks featuring New Zealand wool filters under ‘huge demand’:

A superior face mask product developed by an innovative New Zealand company using New Zealand wool is now under extremely high demand globally.

Farmers contracted to Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool) are supplying specialist-breed New Zealand Astino wool to air filter producer Lanaco, which uses it as the key ingredient in a vast range of air filtration applications.

Lanaco’s protective face masks which feature its ‘Helix’ wool air filters have now received a huge surge in demand since the global Covid-19 outbreak began.

Nick Davenport, CEO of Lanaco, says the company only started making face masks last year following significant research and development work, and is now struggling to keep up with global demand for the product. . . 

Rural Weekly to cease operation – Andrea Davy:

MY FIRST day working for the Rural Weekly newspaper I called a grazier in the Northern Territory who left me shocked.

As the Rural Weekly is among the News Corp publications that will cease all operations by June 26, it’s an interaction I have been reflecting on.

Coming from a daily paper where one of the biggest challenges of the role was convincing people to share their story, I had my spiel ready to go; I was geared up to convince this humble, most likely shy, station manager that sharing her life story with the masses was a good idea.

People are often wary of journalists; they consider us a nosy and untrustworthy bunch. . .

FAO sets the record straight–86% of livestock feed is inedible by humans :

As the media frenzy caused by a ‘planetary health diet’ proposed in a new report from an EAT-Lancet commission this month continues, it is perhaps timely to recall that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has set the record straight regarding not just the level of greenhouse gases that livestock emit (see yesterday’s posting on this blog) but also incorrect information about how much food (crops eatable by humans) is consumed by livestock. It’s not a lot.

The EAT-Lancet report summarizes scientific evidence for a global food system transition towards healthy diets from sustainable agriculture. The report concludes that a global shift towards a diet made up of high quantities of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein and low quantities of animal protein could catalyze the achievement of both the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change. . . 

Anne Mottet, an FAO livestock development officer specializing in natural resource use efficiency and climate change, usefully informs us of incorrect, if widespread, information and understanding about the so-called ‘food-feed competition’. . .


Rural round-up

May 11, 2020

Vanishing Lands – Andrea Vance & Iain McGregor:

The rutted track climbs up and up. Short, thick tussocks make the trail hard to discern, and a cold gale howls down the valley.

John Templeton doesn’t break stride. He bends into the wind and forges upwards with the speed and sure-footedness of a mountain goat. A dozen excitable dogs trot at his ankles, and at his side Holly Addison, a 24-year-old shepherd. 

The sun is bright in a clear, blue autumn sky. Far below, strands of the Rakaia river weave their way through grey, shingle beds. Mt Arrowsmith towers high above, snow sparkling on its unforgiving peaks. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers: ‘Help us feed our livestock’ – Suz Bremner & Mel Croad:

In some situations actions speak louder than words, and for Hawke’s Bay farmers who have been hit hard this year we have a simple message that we want heard – help us physically feed our livestock and if that can’t be done, allow us our channels to sell them.

We as farmers prepare for drought – we must, otherwise we will simply make life harder for ourselves.

There are enough farmers in Hawke’s Bay who farmed through the 1982-83 drought and learned from that, and the same will be said for this one.

But what could not be prepared for this year was the combination of drought and a pandemic, which has caused chaos for the wider industry and created issues such as reduced processing capacity and a sudden decline in demand from our international markets that we rely heavily on. . .

Pandemic disruption creates economic opportunity KPMG leader says :

In-house food and fibre production is being touted as one of the ways to claw the economy back post Covid-19.

A report from the business advisory firm KPMG says New Zealand is well-placed to develop greater domestic food production, for its own resilience, and also as a way to market itself as a trusted and reliable exporter.

Head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot said the pandemic had forced countries to question their reliance on globalisation, and New Zealand was no different.

“I think governments are generally going to look to make themselves a little bit more resilient, and increase the domestic sourcing of key products and critical products to society. So that does mean we are going to see a lot more support for local food systems.” . .

Brothers juggling farm work and studies – David Hill:

Adjusting to the lockdown has proved to be a challenge for students who have returned home to rural areas.

When the lockdown was announced, Lincoln University Young Farmers Club chairman Callum Woodhouse and his brother Archie made the decision to return to the family’s sheep and beef farm at Eketahuna.

“My flatmates are from Canterbury, so when the lockdown was announced they weren’t too worried, but we were stressing about flights and we had to book a last-minute flight and get home.

“The old man was expecting us home anyway in April for the three weeks term holiday, but now he’s getting a few extra weeks’ work out of us.” . . 

A stoat trapper’s guide to elimination – Dave Heatley:

New Zealanders have a lot of experience with islands and unwanted organisms – keeping them away, learning to live with them, and – in just a few cases – eliminating them.

What can that experience tell us about plans to eliminate COVID-19? I can’t claim any expertise on polio, measles, Mycoplasma bovis or thar. But I do have lots of experience trying to eliminate other pests: the stoats, rats, mice and possums that threaten New Zealand’s native birds. At the forefront of that battle are New Zealand’s offshore islands. Following intensive pest-control efforts, many of those islands are now sanctuaries for native birds that are disappearing or gone from the mainland. . .

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2005/S00139/beef-cattle-numbers-up-as-prices-rise.

htmhttps://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/416045/pandemic-disruption-creates-economic-opportunity-kpmg-leader-says

Farmers use flock of sheep in message of support for NHS :

Farmers in Loch Lomond have spent three days trying to round up a flock of sheep to spell out NHS as a message of support to frontline workers.

They creatively paid tribute to health staff who are risking their lives fighting the spread of coronavirus. . .

 

 


The Great Realisation

May 10, 2020

Jim Mora is interviewing the poet who wrote and read this.

Kiwi-born Welsh poet Tomos Roberts (aka Probably Tom Foolery) has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world with his video ‘The Great Realisation’. The fairytale-esque poem details the grim realities of pre-Covid life, such as pollution and overconsumption, before imagining a brighter future once the pandemic is over. Since being posted last week, the video has been viewed more than 30 million times, and garnered attention from A-list celebrities including Jake Gyllenhal, Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore.

The interview is here.


Rural round-up

April 26, 2020

Mental health during a global pandemic:

Farmers are used to adversity. We are used to our livelihoods, and our families effected by forces beyond our control.

We watch as our entire crop is destroyed in a ten-minute storm. We grieve powerless, as disease rips through our herd. And we have seen our food stores burnt to the ground during times of conflict. We watch market prices tank when global production is good, we pray for rain, for markets, for health and for safety. And, on a daily basis we pray for an understanding of who we are and what we do.

Under the pressure of a global pandemic it is suddenly as if the entire world knows a little of what it is to be a farmer. We are perhaps at once the most connected and disconnected as we will ever be, we are a world experiencing fear, failure, grief, anxiety, and hope. And we are experiencing it together and all too often, alone . . 

Rotorua Lakes Council accused of ‘no show’ on SNAs – Felix Desmarais:

Farmers are “disappointed” after Rotorua Lakes Council failed to independently submit on a piece of government policy they say could result in a six percent increase in rates.

But the council says Local Government NZ submitted on its behalf and it does not submit on all proposed policy and legislation changes.

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) closed submissions on 14 March. . .

Review of methane contribution a step in the right direction:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s request to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to review and provide advice to the Government on New Zealand’s international greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Climate Change Commission is best placed to ensure there’s consistency between New Zealand’s international and domestic targets, and to provide scientifically-sound, depoliticised advice to the Government.  We support Minister Shaw’s request to the Commission,” says B+LNZ’s Environment Policy Manager Dylan Muggeridge. 

“The Government took a world leading split-gas approach to the Zero Carbon Act and we ask that the Commission consider if New Zealand’s international target should be recommunicated as a split-gas target. “ . . 

Independent grocers ask for flexibility to open in alert level 3 – Indira Stewart:

The government has been asked for flexibility to allow more independent grocers and other food outlets to fully open at level 3, Horticulture New Zealand says.

The lockdown has crippled produce supply to New Zealanders despite supermarkets staying open and many independent growers and grocers say their businesses might not survive the next few weeks.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said the Covid-19 crisis had stopped nearly 30 percent of fresh produce making it to retail shelves. . .

Hunters should be allowed on conservation land:

Hunting restrictions at level 3 should be relaxed even further to allow for hunting on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“It simply doesn’t make any sense that it’s acceptable to hunt on private land but not conservation land.

“Many hunters don’t have access to private land and rely on their local conservation areas to take part.

“ACC data shows that hunting is a safe recreational activity and that those who participate take health and safety seriously. In terms of fatalities hunting is about six times safer than swimming and three and a half times safer than road cycling. . . .

Farm Environment awards recognise value of NZ farmers:

The Covid-19 lockdown has prompted organisers of New Zealand’s most prestigious farm awards to take an innovative approach when recognising this year’s top farmers.

The Ballance Farm Environment Award’s ceremony schedule was interrupted by the country going into lockdown on March 23, after the announcement of only two regions’ winners, Canterbury and East Coast.

“We were determined to keep up the recognition of our other nine regional winners, even if it meant we had to do away with the ceremony and occasion that accompanies it. So we will kick off on April 22 with our first “on line” ceremony, for the Horizons region,” says James Ryan, general manager for award backers the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 


Rural round-up

April 16, 2020

If a tree falls in the forest can it be exported? – Dr Eric Crampton:

We need to be watching closely how the Government proceeds. We risk falling into the same kind of value-added magical thinking that ended badly in the past; messing up our international trading position; and returning to bureaucratic control over domestic industry, warns Eric Crampton.

Last week, Forestry Minister Shane Jones warned of impending restrictions on New Zealand’s international trade in logs.

Even if you don’t really care much about forestry, the Government’s response here may signal what’s in store for the rest of the economy after lockdown.

Will New Zealand continue as a trading nation and open economy, building on the recent success in setting a free trade agenda in essential goods with Singapore? Or, will it retreat to a more Muldoonist policy in which people like Minister Jones decide what can be exported?

This matters.

Processing delays to lengthen :

Already significant waiting times faced by farmers to get stock processed are likely to get worse in the short term, Beef + Lamb’s Economic Service and the Meat Industry Association say.

Processing capacity for sheep has been cut in half while beef is about 30% lower as plants adjust to covid-19 rules.

The latest analysis forecasts South Island lamb processing in April and May to be pushed back another week to five weeks though the backlog is expected to be cleared by the end of May.

In the North Island no further delays are expected on top of what farmers are already experiencing. . . 

Funding pushes efforts to eradicate stoats on Rangitoto ki te Tonga / d’Urville Island – Tracy Neal:

New Zealand’s eighth-largest island is on a mission to become stoat-free.

The island in the western Marlborough Sounds was said to be free of ship rats, Norway rats, possums and weasels, but stoats had led to the local extinction of little spotted kiwi, yellow-crowned kākāriki and South Island kākā.

They also threatened an important population of South Island long-tailed bats/pekapeka. . .

AgTech hackathon:

Pivoting around a global pandemic, the fourth annual AgTech Hackathon team is once again seeking ambitious problem solvers to ideate five Primary Industries challenges – albeit from their bubble.

Originally planned to be the last weekend of March as an active part of New Zealand AgriFood Week, the event was postponed due to COVID-19. True to creative and tech roots, the Hackathon is determined to go ahead but with a twist.

Introducing AgTech Hackathon Lite. . . 

Cauliflower prices on the march:

Cauliflower prices rose more than 60 percent in March, as prices for a wide range of vegetables also increased in the month, Stats NZ said today.

Prices for vegetables rose in March 2020 (up 7.4 percent), mainly influenced by rises for broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, capsicums, and carrots.

Overall food prices were up 0.7 percent, with most other staple foods holding steady, although prices for many meat products fell.

Cauliflower prices rose 64 percent to a weighted average price of $5.75 per kilo. . . 

Avocado orchard conversion block on the market:

A former small-scale dairy farm and maize cropping block set up for conversion into a commercial-sized avocado orchard has been placed on the market for sale.

The 95.8-hectare property at Waiharara, some 28-kilometres north of Kaitaia, was originally established to run as a dairying unit bolstered by the capacity to produce economic levels of stock feed.

However, a decade of cumulative economic, legislative, and environmental changes have motivated the Waiharara, property owners to sell up their dairying interests and the land which previously sustained the dairying-related activities. . . 


Rural round-up

March 27, 2020

Farming must step up, sector heads say – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s lockdown over Covid-19 is an opportunity for the agricultural sector ‘‘to step up and remind our country how great we are’’, Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie says.

The farm supplies co-operative has been identified as an essential service and will remain open, although customers have to call or email orders first, and a contactless collection process will then be arranged.

Yesterday, Mr Reidie said the world would still need to be fed and New Zealand was very well placed in terms of the quantity and quality of its produce .

‘‘Provided we can get things on boats … we should keep on keeping on. That’s got to be the ambition,’’ he said.

It was a reminder of the importance of landowners, farmers and orchardists. . . 

Kiwi Jack Raharuhi takes the crown in top Australasian award:

Jack Raharuhi from Pāmu Farms in Westport, and Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the Year 2016, has been crowned the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award winner.

Raharuhi, 27 years old, is the Buller Dairy Group Operations Manager for Pāmu, where he oversees 4 dairy farms and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind, and Health and Safety leadership for 10 dairy farms. He is also Chair of the West Coast Focus Farm Trust, and heavily involved with training and mentoring staff as part of the West Coast 2IC Development Programme.

The annual Award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises and supports talented young individuals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. It was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013. . . 

Carrying on farming and consider grain options for stock feed:

Farmers can carry on doing what they do best – putting high quality food on people’s tables and earning export revenue – with confirmation direct from the Prime Minister that they are an ‘Essential Service’ that can continue operating under the Covid-19 lockdown from midnight Wednesday.

Services associated with the primary sector, including food processors, diagnostics, farm suppliers, freight and trucking can also go about their business, while taking all practical steps to limit people to people contact.

This confirmation they are vital to helping the nation survive the virus crisis will be a relief and reason for pride for many farmers and workers in those associated industries. But for some, there remains a pressing concern – the drought, and how to feed stock. . . 

Dairy Trainee of the Year spots all go to women :

Women won all three placings in the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

The awards were presented at the West Coast Events Centre in Shantytown on Tuesday last week.

Alexis Wells won the trainee section, Dallas Bradley was second and Stephanie Gray claimed third place.

Ms Wells (21) is a farm assistant on a 307ha, 670-cow Pamu Farms of New Zealand property in Reefton. She is studying level 4 husbandry and feeding with Primary ITO and said she was proud to have made it to the dairy awards finals three years in a row. Her goal is to the win the national title. . . 

Pandemic postpones DoC predator control – David Williams:

The Conservation Department will halt operations to kill bird-eating pests during the four-week national shutdown. David Williams reports

Pest control operations to protect rare and vulnerable native species are about to cease.

The Department of Conservation will halt all biodiversity work during the upcoming four-week national shutdown, director-general Lou Sanson confirms.

“We debated that seriously but when we heard the Prime Minister [on Monday], and we understood the seriousness of the lockdown, the number one focus for New Zealand is to stop people moving, and that means all our biodiversity work stops, our construction work stops. About the only things we’ll be doing is the operation of sewerage schemes, search and rescue, and fire.”

(DoC acts as the local council, providing utilities like drinking water and sewerage schemes, in places like Aoraki/Mt Cook Village.) . . 

Exports rise as dairy gains while logs and fish fall:

Total goods exports increased in the February 2020 month due to an increase in the value of dairy products, Stats NZ said today.

The total value of meat exports was little changed, but higher quantities were exported to the United States instead of China.

The increase in total good exports was despite falls in exports of logs and fish, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The value of total goods exports rose by $212 million (4.5 percent) from February 2019 to reach $4.9 billion in February 2020. . . 


Science when it suits again

March 11, 2020

The plan for a predator-free country lacks a vital tool:

New Zealand cannot save the kiwi, kererū and thousands of other endangered species without gene editing, say experts.

And attempting to do so without the technology is likely to cost the country “a significant proportion of our national budget”.

New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis has been addressed by a new national Predator Free 2050 plan. 

But a number of academics and researchers claim it wrongly rejects the “most promising” new technology in pest management – gene editing.

“Under current technology, achieving the Predator Free 2050 goals would not only be unlikely to succeed, but also extremely expensive, costing us a significant proportion of our national budget,” says University of Otago professor of philosophy and politics Lisa Ellis.

“Of all technologies on the horizon today, only gene editing offers the prospect of potentially affordable and effective eradication.” . .

Opposition to gene editing often comes from people who are also opposed to conventional tools like 1080.

It often comes from people who urge us to follow the science in other debates on conservation and the environment but this is example of science only when it suits their ideology, again.

There is no hope of being predator free in 30 years without using all the tools in the eradication toolbox and it is stupid to rule-out the one that is likely to cost less and impact more with less collateral damage.

 

 


Rural round-up

February 27, 2020

Water will be currency of 21st century – Todd Muller:

Water is one of our nation’s critical strategic assets, perhaps second only behind our people. Therefore water storage is essential for ensuring we have a thriving primary sector for years to come, writes National’s Agriculture spokesman Todd Muller.

Water will be the currency of success in the next century.

In the 19th century it was coal, in the 20th century it was oil and in my view in the 21st century it is water.

We are a tradeable economy and water is a critical strategic asset in developing our commodities. The ability to store it will be a key infrastructural necessity if we are to leverage the value of water over the next few decades. . .

Wild rabbit enterprises shot down by red tape:

Federated Farmers is dismayed by reports that at least two businesses which process meat from wild rabbits are being strangled by compliance costs.

“It’s tough times on farms at the moment, with rising rabbit numbers in dry conditions.  With all the focus on predator-free and biodiversity, surely we should be working with and encouraging the commercial use of pest species, not making it harder for operators,” Feds Meat & Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson says.

Radio NZ has reported that the owner of a business supplying wild rabbits to high end restaurants, and for pet food, is spending up to 40 hours a week on paperwork, never mind growing MPI audit fees at $176 an hour.  As with another Canterbury-based processor, he told Radio NZ he was thinking of closing down. . .

Dairy returns too tiny for farmers – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers have many reasons for optimism though three out of four say the returns are not worth the effort, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says.

Many farmers are asking themselves why they still bother dairying and his task is to help clear the fog and rekindle motivation, he told the DairyNZ Northland farmers forum.

Farmers are worried about environmental, banking, farm value, alternative food, drought and disease pressures. . .

Weevil win – we knocked the bastard off – Karen WIlliams:

Hats off to you, Wairarapa.  In the words of another Kiwi who achieved a world-first, “we knocked the bastard off”.

Okay, eradicating the region’s pea weevil incursion isn’t as grand as Ed Hillary and Tensing Norgay climbing Everest but in terms of biosecurity, and protecting an industry that earns us $50 million in domestic sales and $84 million in exports, it is a big deal.  It’s also another bug we don’t have to spray for.

As far as we know, no other country has successfully combatted this pest after an incursion.

It’s taken a region-wide and government agency effort to get where we are – that’s growers/farmers, home gardeners, Federated Farmers, local councils, Greater Wellington, local MPs, MPI, Biosecurity NZ, the Foundation for Arable Research, Assure Quality…a big thank-you to you all for your perseverance, flexibility and understanding. . .

New app to help hunters track tahr during culling –

A long-term plan is being developed to control Himalayan tahr in the South Island.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said the large goat-like animals, introduced to New Zealand during the early days of European settlement, posed a threat to the country’s native alpine plants.

To combat the loss of native vegetation, DOC said it had been working with ecological experts to start a new monitoring system.

The long-term control plan is led by DOC and Ngāi Tahu. . . 

Beef bans based on ‘popular opinion, not facts’, Harper Adams says:

Harper Adams University has said it will never ban beef from its campus menus as it criticises other institutions for their ‘knee-jerk reactions’ to the climate crisis.

In recent years, and even more so in recent months, several UK universities have attracted significant media attention for voting motions to ban beef.

Earlier this month, thousands of students at Edinburgh University rejected proposals to ban the meat in all student union run outlets. . .

 


Water storage not just farming issue

February 25, 2020

Parts of Northland are facing the threat of water restrictions owing to the continuing drought:

The Northland Regional Council was poised to issue water shortage directions in 23 coastal communities.

Water and Waste Manager Ali McHugh said that meant water can only be used for “reasonable” household domestic needs and stock welfare needs.

“More than two dozen aquifers are nearing, or quickly heading toward, their lowest groundwater levels on record and this could cause problems for many of our small coastal communities,” she said.

“For those drawing water from bores in these areas, this means if they have not already, they may soon begin experiencing issues such as water becoming noticeably salty and other bore behaviour they have not encountered before.”

McHugh expected the small, shallow coastal groundwater systems will drop to significantly lower levels than would normally be seen during the next two to three months, bringing the real risk of saltwater, or saline, intrusion into freshwater systems.

“There is a real risk that there will be water that’s unsuitable for drinking – or even no water at all – as shallow bores become unable to pump water and deeper bores are impacted by saltwater moving inland,” she said.

If too much saltwater intrusion occurred, it could take many months for things to improve to a point where a bore water supply could be used again. . . 

Droughts are often portrayed as a farming issue but this shows it’s a problem for towns too.

Northland’s annual rainfall is about 1,000mms of rain in lower areas and 2,000mms at higher elevations.

That is plenty of rain but, like many other areas, it doesn’t always fall where it’s needed, when it’s needed.

However, some of the excess will feed lakes and rivers which gives the potential for storage when there’s more than enough to be used when there’s too little.

Those of a dark green persuasion think rivers should flow from the source to the sea as nature intended.

But storing water when there’s too much for use in droughts has environmental, economic and social benefits.

It helps maintain minimum flows to sustain water life, provides stock water, enables irrigation and keeps the taps flowing for industrial and domestic users.


Rural round-up

February 23, 2020

Virus bites into jobs – Neal Wallace:

More than 1000 logging contractors, a number industry leaders say could double, have been laid off in recent weeks as the economic impact of China’s battle to contain coronavirus begins to bite.

Meat companies and market analysts report increased activity at ports and distribution of perishable products such as food as business in parts of China returns to normal.

But disrupted shipping schedules are creating a fresh set of challenges for exporters. . .

Lim: real food is here to stay – Gerald Piddock:

Eating fads come and go but real food will never go out of fashion, chef Nadia Lim says.

Natural food, whether grown from the ground or captured from the sea or sky, will always have a place on the food plate, Lim told the DairyNZ Farmers Forum in Waikato.

The dietitian, author, Masterchef winner and My Food Bag founder said the trend to veganism and plant-based alternative meat and dairy will be temporary once consumers understood what is in these products. . .

Importance of healthy plants celebrated in Year of Plant Health:

Healthy plants’ contribution to New Zealand’s wellbeing and economic sustainability has been highlighted at the launch of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) at Parliament tonight.

“Healthy plants are the backbone of New Zealand’s wellbeing and make a significant contribution to our economy,” says Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

“Horticulture, including viticulture, contributed approximately $9 billion to the New Zealand economy in 2019. . .

North Canterbury farming keep an eye on the dry:

The Hurunui Adverse Events Committee has been monitoring how farmers are going in the current dry weather, and to remind their communities of the wealth of experience and information available.

Famers in North Canterbury have plenty of drought experience and can take credit for being in reasonable shape as February brings weeks of hot, dry weather and high evapotranspiration.

“If we learned one thing in the 2014-2017 droughts, it was that you need to make decisions early on what you can control,” says Winton Dalley, Chair of the Hurunui Adverse Events Committee. “Its good practice to have plans and deadlines in place to destock, send stock out to graze, and buy in supplements while they are available at an affordable price. . .

Cows can help reverse global warming – Nigel Malthus:

Cows and pasture are not the villains in climate change, but could instead be our saviours, says Hawke’s Bay farmer, soil scientist and consultant Phyllis Tichinin.

An executive member of the Organic Dairy and Pastoral Group (ODPG) and on the organising committee of the group’s upcoming national conference, Tichinin says with regenerative farming methods, the grazing sector alone could make New Zealand carbon-negative.

“Cows are not bad. They’re actually a very important part of reversing global warming and CO2 levels quickly and productively.” . . 

New milk vat monitoring systems for Fonterra farmers:

Fonterra is beginning to install new milk vat monitoring systems over the next couple of years.

The aim is to support their farmers’ production of high-quality milk and make the co-op’s milk collection more efficient.

Richard Allen, group director of Farm Source, says the new milk vat monitoring systems are part of Fonterra’s commitment to help make farming easier.  . .


Govt tramples property rights

February 14, 2020

The government is trampling over West Coast farmers’ property rights:

West Coasters whose land has been newly classified as a significant wetland or natural area are unlikely to receive any compensation from the Government, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says.

After a Department of Conservation appeal to the Environment Court in 2012, the West Coast Regional Council was ordered to add a further 215 schedule 2 wetlands to its Soil and Water Plan.

Regional council chairman Allan Birchfield estimates about 5000ha of wetlands on private land are affected, with landowners required to pay for ecological assessments to see if the land qualifies for full protection under schedule 1.

“That’s effectively put the land into the DOC estate because the landowners will need DOC input – and approval as an affected party if they want to develop it. So the Crown is gaining land without paying for it, and that is theft,” he said.

“However, there is support through the sustainable land use package from budget 2019 to support landowners with fencing and riparian planting.”

Support for doing something they have no choice over is not compensation for loss of property rights.

Birchfield said that would be unacceptable to most landowners.

“It’s their land and they don’t want it fenced off. They either want it purchased or possibly a land swap. It’s not the Wild West here, where you just take land off people.”

DOC had plenty of land on the Coast, if it wanted control of the wetlands it should be a willing-seller, willing-buyer situation with no compulsion, he said.

“Those landowners lose the use of the land, but have to go on paying rates on it. DOC doesn’t pay any rates.

Farmers will not only have to pay rates, they’ll also be responsible for weed and pest control on what was their land and will be in name only.

“We’ve got little enough private land here anyway and they should keep their hands off the little we have, to make a living out of.”

The ecological benefits of wetlands are well understood but that doesn’t justify forcing farmers to retire land without compensating them.

This government doesn’t want forestry or mining on the Coast, it’s rejected a hydro generation plan and now it’s effectively taking land from farmers, leaving them with the costs of ownership and none of the benefits.

Property rights are one of the foundation stone of democracy.

Forcing farmers to retire land without compensating them tramples all over those rights.

 


Water, water . . .

February 12, 2020

We had around 70mms of rain last week – it was welcome for both the timing and amount.

For once North Otago has been blessed with enough but not too much, unlike Southland which was inundated and further north which is suffering from drought.

This photo, taken a week before the rain, shows the difference irrigation makes:

Without irrigation, all of the district would have looked like the hillside in the background, and had it not been for last week’s rain, we’d have been facing drought.

While nothing beats water from above, dry weather here doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to.

Before we had widespread irrigation the district lurched from one drought to the next, playing catch-up in the good years but never making progress.

Enough of the district now has irrigation which allows grass and crop growth in dry weather and gives opportunities for people on dry land to buy feed or grazing or to sell stock to those who have water.

It’s drought-proofed farms and created more jobs on farms and in town.

Many other districts aren’t so blessed.

Large areas of the country are now facing drought and don’t have the option to irrigate. But many places could if there was more water storage.

If predictions of dry weather caused by climate change prove to be right we should be investing in more dams to store water when there’s an excess to use when it’s dry.

It has economic, environmental and social benefits, not just for farms but for towns and cities which are facing water restrictions now as they wait for rain.


Rural round-up

February 11, 2020

All that’s missing is the workforce :

Mid-Canterbury farmer Ryan Esler enjoys an enviable lifestyle – working in the scenic foothills beneath Mt Hutt, jet boating on the Rakaia River, and fishing for fresh salmon.

But it’s becoming harder to attract young people to a career in farming and he believes the industry has a perception problem which needs to be addressed.

“If you start looking at petri dish meat, you’d think farming is doomed but there’s a lot of scope for a lot of different directions.

“When you look at the marketing of wool and merino, the range of products being made now is absolutely incredible. . .

Dry hits hard – Colin Williscroft:

As dry starts to ratchet up the pressure on farmers Central Hawke’s Bay farmer John Waldin has been lucky enough to get some of his stock away to the works but there’s still more that needs to go.

Waldin was pleased to get a call confirming he will be able to send 240 lamb to the works.

Though he’s experienced conditions just as dry as now on his Ashley Clinton property Waldin can’t remember a time when he’s seen such a shortage of grass.

He normally aims to kill lambs at a carcase weight of 18kg-plus but a couple of weeks ago he decided there was not enough feed so drafted at 15kg-plus, with anything lighter likely to be worth more as stores. . . 

Is grass-only still feasible in New Zealand farming? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Nobody, least of all farmers, wants animals to be hungry – but is grass-only best? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Drought is affecting the country. Holiday makers have been able to enjoy warm temperatures and sunny barbecues, but towns and cities are already on restrictions for watering gardens and washing cars, particularly in the north and east of the North Island.

The situation for farmers is different – it is animals and crops that are the focus.

Farmers in some areas have access to irrigation, but most don’t, and they are increasingly worried about when rain might come. . .

Aussies get a taste of Kiwi – Tony Leggett:

Two enterprising young Australian rural professionals received an amazing insight into New Zealand agriculture during a two-week whistle-stop tour of the country last November.

The pair were joint winners of the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award which is presented annually by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP), a group of 150 larger scale and influential farm owners and agribusiness professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

The award is open to anyone under 35 and winners receive $2000 in prize money plus a flying trip around properties and agribusinesses on both sides of the Tasman, hosted by members of the PPP group. . . 

 

U.S. dairy subsidies equal 73 percent of producer returns, says new report :

Comparing government support for Canadian versus American dairy farmers is not a simple black and white process. While Canada’s dairy sector operates under a regulated supply management system, the U.S. government’s support for its dairy farmers is less direct.

Support, in its various forms, equaled 73 percent of U.S. dairy farmers’ market returns in 2015, according to a report published by a Canadian trade consulting firm on Thursday.

The 588-page study by Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates — commissioned by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) — says the American government contributed around $22.2 billion in direct and indirect subsidies to the dairy sector in 2015. . . 

2019 GB potato crop fifth lowest on record :

Total potato production in Great Britain for the 2019 crop has been estimated to be the fifth lowest on record, according to latest figures.

AHDB estimates the figure to be 5.10Mt, which is an increase of 182Kt from last season, but 7% below the five-year average (2014-2018, 5.49Mt).

While total GB production is 4 percent more than last season, it still comes in at the fifth lowest on record.

The 2019 estimated average net yield is 45.6t/ha, up 3.9t/ha from last season and 2% below the five year average (2014-2018, 46.6t/ha). . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 16, 2020

Simplistic climate change lessons counterproductive, Federated Farmers says:

Introducing school children to the science underpinning climate change is positive and worthwhile but great care will be needed to ensure there is balance, Federated Farmers says.

“Teachers will need to present and explain the pros and cons of various courses of action in response to global warming, and in particular guard against the lessons fostering feelings of panic or hopelessness,” Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

While much of the material in the ‘Prepare today, live well tomorrow’ teacher resource is instructive and compelling, some of it is misleading unless the nuances of the topic are explored, Andrew said. . . 

How the trees and birds returned to Camp Hill – Guy Williams:

Thirteen years ago, a Californian movie software engineer and psychotherapist bought 73ha of land at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

Lifelong environmentalist Rob Lay had a growing sense of alarm about climate change, and decided the best thing he could do was plant trees. Guy Williams visited him at Camp Hill to ask about a  restoration project that has produced stunning results.

When Rob Lay bought Camp Hill in 2006, it had three forlorn patches of forest.

The stands contained mountain and red beech trees hundreds of years old, but sheep and cattle grazed beneath them, preventing the growth of a forest understorey and natural regeneration.

He had come to New Zealand the year before to commercialise digital effects software, including helping Weta Digital with its work on Peter Jackson’s King Kong. . .

Iwi catch the horticulture wave – Hugh Stringleman:

Planting has begun on a large avocado orchard in Maori ownership near Kaitaia, in the Far North, while debate continues over the sustainability of irrigation to keep that new development and many others in the region alive and productive.

Ngai Takoto’s farming business, Rakau Ora, has started planting a 20ha orchard in the northern Sweetwater district, west of Awanui.

Further planting of 40ha is planned over the next two years and 200ha in total in a decade, Ngai Takoto chief executive Rangitane Marsden said. . . 

Changing South: The Huntaway :

New Zealand has its own breed of dog: the hardy, uncomplaining Huntaway.

They’re essential team members on many a station – the “take ’em away” experts moving sheep to the farmers’ whistles.

As part of a series Newsroom is running over summer, Christchurch documentary-maker Gerard Smyth catches up with Jude, Frank, Jett and Floyd, some of the Huntaways on the 126,000 acre Mt White station in Inland Canterbury. . . 

Former Wellard boss vows to design new era of livestock carriers – Vernon Graham:

Six months after he “ceased” employment as CEO of Australian-based livestock exporter, Wellard, Mauro Balzarini has announced he is launching a new venture to build cleaner, smarter livestock carriers.

He left Wellard last June, ending 40 years of involvement with the company by his family.

Mr Balzarini had been the chief executive officer of the business for 15 years and led it to a public listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2015. . . 

Natural England beef over ‘anti-meat’ TV after Channel 4 show that called for end to all farming – Helena Horton:

Channel 4 show calling for farming to be completely scrapped and replaced by factories which produce food out of bacteria has been criticised by the head of Natural England.

The show, Apocalypse Cow, aired on the public broadcaster on Wednesday night, and was fronted by vegan activist George Monbiot, known for being arrested at the Extinction Rebellion protests last year.

In it, he argues that farming is responsible for the world’s environmental ills and calls for “farm-free food” made in laboratories.

Tony Juniper, the head of Natural England, disagreed with his claims that grazing animals are bad for the planet. . . 


We don’t need another pest

January 13, 2020

A petition calling for  calling for koala bears to be introduced to New Zealand eucalyptus plantations has gathered more than 4000 signatures.

. . .The Koala Relocation Society started the petition a week ago saying “koalas are functionally extinct in Australia, and could thrive in New Zealand, as many other Australasian species do”.

It’s estimated hundreds of thousands, even millions of animals have perished in the fires ravaging parts of Australia.

“New Zealand has 28,575 hectares planted in eucalypts, most is located in the Central North Island, and are similar to much older forests from Australia, as they grow fast here,” the petition read. . . 

Which other species that functionally thrive in New Zealand would the petitioners be talking about?

The  possums that carry TB and threaten trees and birds? The wallabies that eat native trees and farm pasture?

The toll the bushfires have taken on Australian wildlife is devastating but there are much better ways for New Zealand to help than trying to establish populations of koalas here.

We don’t need another pest.


Light rail to Roys Peak?

December 30, 2019

The car park at the bottom of Roys Peak is overflowing – again:

As the resident population in Wanaka multiplies by a factor of three during the Christmas-New Year week, so does the number of cars and vans parked illegally outside the Roys Peak track car park along Mt Aspiring Rd.

Yesterday, the Department of Conservation 100-space vehicle park at the start of the one-day 16km return walk overflowed into the adjacent road verge for up to half a kilometre north.

Boxing Day is traditionally the day when boat owners launch their boats into Lake Wanaka and many used the Glendhu Bay boat ramp.

At times, cars towing boats had to drive on the other side of the road to avoid the cars and vans parked illegally on the edge of Mt Aspiring Rd. . . 

The park was enlarged a couple of years ago but still isn’t big enough for holiday crowds. It won’t help that two other popular tramps – Rob Roy Glaciar and Rocky Point – are closed.

But don’t panic, the Minister of Conservation has a solution:

On a recent visit to Wanaka, Ms Sage said she was aware of the popularity of Roys Peak and the parking congestion issues and was considering introducing a charge for private vehicles in the car park as a way to increase the use of public transport to and from the hike.

Who would police the parking and how much would parking fees and fines have to be to cover the costs of the policing?

What public transport would that be and how would it be scheduled to cope with all the people who start and finish the tramp at all hours of the day and night?

There are taxis in Wanaka but using them would double the number of trips to and from the bottom of the hill.

The only buses go to and from Wanaka to other towns, nowhere near the track which is on a no-exit road that ends at Aspiring Station.

And surely even a Green MP wouldn’t be considering light rail from Wanaka to Roys Peak.

That leaves walking, biking, running or driving. Most people will consider going up and down the hill enough exercise and still opt for driving whether or not there are enough parks.


Deer Wars

December 14, 2019

The story of turning a pest species into an export industry:

 

Kim Hollows reprises his role as Executive Producer for the first time since creating Ata Whenua. This is a story of men and machines, of incredible daring and unprecedented ingenuity set in the dangerous and unpredictable New Zealand mountains. Over a 20 year period these helicopter pioneers turned a national ecological disaster into a major export industry – but at a cost. Over 80 men died in the pursuit of deer and many more seriously injured. This film celebrates this unique time when through innovation and sheer guts a few hundred Kiwis did the impossible and created the legend that became the deer wars.


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