Rural round-up

12/01/2020

Dairy farm sales dry up as tighter bank lending, foreign investment take hold – Catherine Harris:

Commentators say dairy farm values are falling, as bank lending tightens and foreign investment becomes harder to get.

According to the Real Estate Institute (REINZ), sales of dairy farms nationally tumbled 55 per cent in the three months to November on the same period in 2018, and 83 per cent on 2017.

Dairy farm prices slid 22 per cent, from $50,964 per hectare to $39,678 per hectare.

Lincoln University farm management professor and commentator Keith Woodford told RNZ that while other types of farms such as grazing or horticulture were holding their own, dairying had suffered, despite improving milk prices. . . 

Border collie saves flock of sheep from wall of fire in Australia: –  Joe Roberts:

A hero border collie has saved a flock of sheep as a wall of fire destroyed farmland in Australia.

Patsy the six-year-old working dog rounded the sheep up with a farmer as the flames bore down on them in the rural town of Corryong in Victoria.

She brought them to the safest paddock on the farm as her owner fought the fire in a tractor with a tank of water.

Thanks to Patsy and her owner, almost all of the sheep were saved, along with the hay bales, silage, shearing shed, and farm houses. . .

‘Mycoplasma bovis’ challenges faced – Laura Smith:

‘‘One of the greatest biosecurity challenges we’ve ever faced’’ — Mycoplasma bovis continues to affect farmers but the Ministry for Primary Industries is confident eradication of the disease can be achieved.

Southland farm owners Ben Walling and Sarah Flintoft had 1700 cattle culled in 2018 after Mycoplasma bovis was discovered on their farm.

Since then they were declared disease-free, but are now awaiting results after tests on cows at one of their three cattle farms.

The bovine disease Mycoplasma bovis can cause mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. More than 130,700 cattle have been culled nationwide because of it. . . 

Fonterra rationalises in Chile – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra is buying the minority interests in its Chilean processing partner, Prolesur, to streamline its businesses and give it more options for the future.

Among the options could be an exit from the dairy industry in Chile after several decades of New Zealand involvement, firstly by the Dairy Board in 1986.

Fonterra has agreed to buy 13.6% of Prolesur for NZ$29.3 million from Fundacion Isabel Aninat, a church-owned charity. . . 

Remote island farm on market – Richard Rennie:

A long-held family property on Great Barrier Island offers the chance to own the last piece of land before Chile.

It includes private beaches and an historic grave site for shipwreck victims.

The Mabey family has farmed the 195ha property at the island’s northern end for almost a century and has decided to put the farm on the market as a bare block. 

The land is farmed by Scott Mabey who said he anticipates a buyer will be most interested in building a dream home on one of the farm’s many elevated positions. . . 

The beef farmer eats a plant patty – Uptown Farms:

Well… we did it. We were in a hip little craft beer joint in Nashville, saw the Impossible burger on the menu, and ordered one.

Of course they wanted to send it out with a fresh baked bun, cheese and all the sauces.

But we passed on all of that so we could really get an idea what all the fuss was about. Here’s what we decided:

🌱 It is better with ranch. Matt jokes, “What vegetable isn’t?” (His jokes are getting worse the older he gets.) . . 


No more lives should be risked

26/11/2018

The Listener editorial says there should be no more lives put at risk in the Pike River mine.

It goes without saying that New Zealanders have enormous sympathy for the families of the 29 men who died in the Pike River Mine disaster. However, it does not automatically follow that all New Zealanders think there should be an attempt to enter what is sadly now more tomb than mine.

That such an attempt seems set to be made is the latest turn in a chain of events whose origins lie in actions and inactions long before the mine exploded eight years ago. It is unarguable that the mine operator, Pike River Coal, bears primary culpability because no agency had more knowledge, more ability to affect the workplace culture and more responsibility for the safety of the men underground than the company. It abjectly failed its workers, contractors and their families.

Statutory health and safety provisions that should have been a back-up had been eroding under the previous Labour Government and continued to do so under National. One of the findings of the royal commission into the tragedy was that mining inspectorate services had been so run down that by the time of the disaster, New Zealand had just two mines inspectors, and their travel budget was so constrained that their invigilation was patchy. 

There were so many failings that “accident” is hardly the right word to describe the disaster that occurred on November 19, 2010. This tragedy could have happened at any time to any shift of miners.

It was a disgrace that when Pike River Coal, then in receivership, was convicted of charges relating to the explosion, the company went under leaving more than $3 million in reparations unpaid. WorkSafe New Zealand then laid 12 health and safety charges against mine boss Peter Whittall. Yet they were dropped in return for his insurance company providing the reparations the mine company failed to make. The Supreme Court last year ruled that the deal was “an unlawful agreement to stifle prosecution”. However, it may still never be possible to hold any person or entity to account. As with the collapse of the Canterbury Television building, the denial of even an attempt at justice rankles with New Zealanders.

It was a further disgrace that New Zealand First and Labour chose to politicise the tragedy at the last election, with Winston Peters promising to be one of the first to re-enter the mine. His swagger implied that cowardice, not caution, was the problem. Never fear, Peters would go where Mines Rescue had not been allowed to tread. This determination to re-enter the mine flies in the face of the only positive development to have come out of the disaster – a new zeal for health and safety.

To unnecessarily risk more lives in the same mine, however much some of the families want it to happen, undermines the very principle this tragedy so firmly established: that safety is paramount.

Through all this, some of the victims’ families have heroically battled on, determined to see responsibility sheeted home somewhere, somehow. Their efforts have been laudable. The idea, however, that a team will be able to find in the devastated, burnt mine evidence that will lead to a prosecution seems illusory and the recovery of human remains sadly unlikely. Regardless, politicians have for years kept the families’ hopes dangling. This seems more cruelty than kindness. The closure the families seek might be further advanced had it been given more of a chance.

The $36 million cost of re-entry would not be worth mentioning, even to those who think the money could be better spent on reducing the rising road toll or child poverty, if the chances were higher that it will serve any purpose except political triumphalism. Little has spoken of “knowing when to call it quits”.

Arguably, and regrettably, that point has probably passed. There must be no more lives put at risk.

John Roughen also argues against any attempt at re-entry and makes the point, the announcement so far isn’t to go very far at all:

Just as in 2013, they don’t propose to go further than the point where the tunnel has collapsed about 2km in. The only difference is that five years ago this plan was reportedly estimated to cost $7.2 million. Last week we were told it will cost $36m. This is madness. . .

But it’s not just the dollar cost, it’s the potential cost in more lives that really matters.

“Safety is paramount,” they all say. If you listened closely last week, they’re not definitely going further than a second chamber, a trifling 170m into the 2km tunnel. Beyond that, they say, it might not be safe. In other words, nothing has changed but the bill.

The company, successive governments, the union and even workers themselves who didn’t act on justifiable fears about safety, are to a greater and lesser extent culpable.

The only good thing to have come out of this disaster is much stricter legislation that makes everyone involved responsible for health and safety.

Even without that, to risk further lives for the very, very slight hope there will be evidence that could be used, or bodies to be returned, can not be justified.


For the sake of the other families

05/12/2017

Each time I read or hear reports about Pike River families agitating for a retrieval of the bodies of the men who were killed there I wonder about the other families.

You’d not know it from most reports, but some of the bereaved families have accepted that their men are dead and the mine where they died will be their grave.

How hard it must be for them to get on with their lives when time and time again the disaster and the ongoing saga of re-entry hit the headlines.

The latest news is that the liability for anything that goes wrong in a re-entry will like with the Pike River chief executive, not the Minister for Pike River, Andrew Little.

Documents on the Pike River Recovery Agency show that while the Minister will decide whether a re-entry goes ahead, it will be the agency’s chief executive who will be liable if any re-entry goes wrong, National Party Workplace Relations Spokesperson Amy Adams says.

“This Government has continued to make entering Pike River a political decision but this is patently wrong. While there’s been lots of talk about how Mr Little will be responsible for his decisions, it will be some poor senior public servant who carries the can.

“It is wrong to put a Chief Executive in this position. He or she will have to carry out what their political masters decide in a very unsafe environment. Why would any sensible person put their hand up for that job?”

Sensible or not, a CE would have to resign rather than carry out a directive in the knowledge he or she was putting lives at risk.

Ms Adams says the Coalition went against official advice which was to make the final decision-maker independent of politicians.

“That would have been the responsible approach which fairly reflected the dangers of re-entering the mine. This undermines the very health and safety laws which were strengthened in the wake of the Pike River disaster to try and ensure it never happens again.”

The one good thing to come out of the disaster was the strengthening of health and safety laws. It would be a travesty if they were to be breached by order of a politician.

Ms Adams also notes that the mission of the agency has changed from the Government’s pre-election commitments.

“Up until now all their talk has been about manned re-entry into the mine. Now the papers tell us it’s about achieving manned re-entry of the drift only, all bar 400 metres of which has already been explored.”

The families’ quest for answers is understandable but that quest can’t risk more lives.

John Armstrong writes that Little’s real role as Minister is to let the families down gently:

Little will have to judge what level of risk is acceptable. The answer to that question has been staring Labour in the face. The answer is none.

It is both morally reprehensible and incomprehensibly stupid to place another human being in an environment where death and injury have already proved to be beyond human control.

Rather than humming the Red Flag in solidarity with the miners’ families, Little should be engaged in quiet persuasion that their wish to be reunited with their loved ones risks others’ loved ones suffering the same fate.

At most —and purely to save everyone’s face — a recovery team might be permitted to go part way up the drift.

For his own and Labour’s sake, the minister responsible for Pike River Re-entry needs to become the minister for No Re-Entry to Pike River, if not in name then most definitely in actions.

It is his job to gently puncture the over-inflated hopes of the families.

He needs to get the families to take ownership of the reality that re-entry cannot be a happening thing. He needs to lull them into believing they made the decision —not him nor a faceless bureaucrat chosen to run the Pike River Recovery Agency.

Executing what would be the Mother of All U-turns will require some very deft politics on Little’s part.

Thursday’s Supreme Court’s ruling that WorkSafe’s decision to withdraw its prosecution of Pike River mine boss Peter Whittall, in exchange for payments to the victims’ families, was unlawful provides an unexpected opportunity for everyone to come to their senses.

The families should rejoice in at last receiving the justice so long denied them. They should view it as a cue to drop their demand for re-entry.

That won’t happen. The families are victims alright. They are victims of politicians who have exploited their emotions without caring one jot for the consequences.

There can be no sympathy for Little even if he has deluded himself into believing he is doing the right thing by the families. . . 

The right thing by all the families is to accept, as some of them have, that the risks of re-entry are too high.

A former union head, in what’s supposed to be the workers’ party should know that safety is paramount and each new announcement is a move in that direction.

Each new announcement from the government is a step away from the original irresponsible rhetoric of unconditional re-entry.

Each new announcement includes ifs, buts and acknowledgements that safety must come first.

The honourable and sensible course of action now would be to admit that no-one can guarantee that re-entry would be safe and in doing so to help those families still stuck in the early stages of grief to accept, as the others have, that the mine where their men died is their grave.

When my first son died we waited months for the post mortem results. He’d been dead for longer than he’d lived when they finally arrived and they were somewhat of an anti-climax.

That was partly because we’d hoped the post-mortem might uncover some clues to the condition which killed him that the numerous tests during his life had not and it didn’t.  But it was also because it made me realise that regardless of what the report said, he was still dead and nothing could make that better.

The death of a baby as a result of illness for which no-one was to blame, is different in many ways from deaths in an unsafe workplace for which someone should have, but has not, been held responsible.

But no matter how it happens, death is death and it only compounds the loss if those who survive are stuck, focusing on what they’ve lost and in doing so losing what they’ve got.

Continuing to pretend that a re-entry would be possible is continuing to perpetuate a lie and it’s helping to keep some of the families stuck.

For their sakes and the sakes of the other fmailies who are no longer stuck, the government needs to be honest, stop wasting money and prolonging the inevitable announcement that any risk of life is too high.


Mining personal grief for political ends

19/11/2017

When politicians make promises do you take them at their word?

Under MMP that’s harder because they can always use the excuse, that was their policy but had to let it go during coalition negotiations.

But if it was a promise made by the two parties in government and their coalition partner outside government that one can’t be used.

In August, leaders of Labour, United Future, the Maori Party and the Green Party signed a commitment to reenter Pike River mine.

National, rightly, put lives before politics:

Environment Minister Nick Smith responded to the commitment and said the parties were either making empty promises to the families or proposing to water down a law intended to prevent future workplace tragedies. 

“It is a hollow political stunt for parties to promise manned re-entry of the mine by the end of 2018,” he said.  

“It would be reckless for politicians to override the 800-page detailed assessment that concluded that manned entry deep into this drift was too risky to life.

“There is no cover-up. There is no conspiracy. Pike River was a horrible industrial accident that unnecessarily killed 29 men.

“The greatest duty we owe the memory of these men is to take the risks of explosions in gassy coalmines seriously and to comply with the new workplace safety laws that stemmed from the Royal Commission of Inquiry [into the Pike River Mine Tragedy].”

Winston Peters said he’d be one of the first to go back into Pike River and manned entry was one of New Zealand First’s bottom lines.

Such promises are oh so easy in opposition, but what happens when the reality of government bites?

Pike River Mine minister Andrew Little says he cannot guarantee a re-entry of the mine and has told family members that he will do what he can but safety is the top priority. . . 

“Ultimately, and the families are very clear, the first principle of the set of principles that are governing what we do is safety, the safety of anybody involved in the re-entry project. I’m not going to put anybody at undue risk. I’m simply not going to.”

He did not intend to legislate for any exemption to the health and safety laws or immunity from liability for the Pike River Agency.

Safety was the priority of the previous government in the face of harsh criticism from the Pike River families and then-opposition parties supporting them.

That was the right position.

The Pike River disaster was a tragedy. There are many unanswered questions on how it happened and the shortcoming that led to it happening.

Some of the answers to those questions might be found if it was possible to safely reenter the mine.

But safely is and must always be the operative word.

The bottom line that National and the mine owners stuck to still stands: no lives must be endangered, no lives must be lost, to retrieve the dead.

Some families have accepted this.

Some have not and put their faith in the politicians who promised them manned entry would be undertaken.

Little will be criticised for his safety-first stance, but this time it’s the right one.

The wrong one was making a promise that he and the other politicians, including his leader, Jacinda Ardern, should never have made.

Those politicians were mining personal grief for political ends.

It was despicable behaviour.

 


Passchendaele perspective

12/10/2017

The Otago Daily Times has invited family members of those who were killed in World War I to pay tribute to them on the 100th anniversary of their deaths.

Most days there are a few names.

Putting the disaster that was the Battle of Passchendaele into perspective. today 130 men are remembered.


Visualising earthquakes

30/11/2016

AUT and Colab lecturer Dr Stefan Marks used a virtual reality simulation to visualise the 14 November 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake and every earthquake in New Zealand since 1900:


Time to let Pike River victims rest

07/11/2014

It’s been nearly four years since the Pike River mine disaster.

Solid Energy’s decision to not re-enter the mine will have disappointed some family members, but the company could not risk more lives.

The father of one of the Pike River Mine explosion victims says Solid Energy’s decision to stay out of the ruined mine will finally let his family move on.

Solid Energy board chairwoman Pip Dunphy said today “potentially fatal risk factors” made the mine too dangerous to re-enter.

Geraldine couple Rod and Christine Holling lost their 41-year-old son, Richard, as a result of an explosion at the West Coast mine on November 19, 2010. The Hollings have expressed their wish for Richard’s remains to be left untouched in the mine, saying that knowing where his remains were allowed them “closure”.

Other families of miners killed in the mine issued a joint statement today expressing disappointment with the state-owned mining company’s decision not to recover the miners’ remains, but Rod Holling said the announcement was “good news”.

“Our biggest fear is that someone else will get killed [re-entering the mine] and who will be responsible?” 

Holling was sceptical of former UK mining inspector Bob Stevenson’s claims the mine could be safely entered. He also believed mining companies would learn lessons about health, safety and mine construction from the disaster. . .

Learning and acting on the lessons could save other lives, and not just in mining. Rebecca Macfie’s book on the disaster has lessons for every business.

Families of the Pike River Mine victims met this morning with mine owner Solid Energy and Prime Minister John Key, only to be told the plan to re-enter the mine tunnel would not go ahead.

Their faces were strained and tears were visible after leaving the meeting, even though they had gone in almost certain the news would be bad.

Bernie Monk, whose son Michael died in the mine, said he would continue to investigate “to a certain degree” but acknowledged the fight might be over.

“I’ve got to start asking myself, do I want to go through another three or four years of agony.” . . .

I hope the answer to that question is no.

Prime Minister John Key has said the taxpayer would fund a civil case against parties involved in the disaster it Crown Law thinks it could succeed.

That would help the families and friends who are, justifiably, angry that no-one has been charged over the actions which led to the disaster.

Whether or not that happens, the decision not to re-enter the mine means it is time to let the 29 victims rest where they died, difficult as that might be for those who loved them.


Awakening

12/09/2014

It’s September 12th here in New Zealand, but still the 11th in the USA where they are remembering the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Brian Andreas wrote this to honour and mark the tragedy.

awakening StoryPeople print by Brian Andreas

Awakening – ©2014 Brian Andreas – posted with permission.

There were so many deaths then and so many since in all corners of the world which reinforce the need for and wonder of arms grown strong with love.

 


Three years on

22/02/2014

Those of us who weren’t in Christchurch at 12:51pm on February 22nd, 2011 will probably always recall where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of the earthquake.

Those who were in the city or close to it will never forget.

This post is to remember the ones who died and were injured;  the ones who lost family and friends, homes and work places;  those who lives were literally and figuratively turned upside down and those who are still dealing with the physical, financial and emotional problems caused by the quake and its aftermath.

It is to acknowledge those who helped during the crisis and those who are dealing with ordinary life in extraordinary circumstances.

It is also to celebrate the people who are working so hard, under still trying conditions, to rebuild the city.

The Press lists commemorative events.

 


Fewer than half preprared

14/02/2014

Only 22% of New Zealanders believe they have the basic essentials to get through a natural disaster and only 17 % had better than basic preparations.

Figures from the 2012 New Zealand General Social Survey show the proportion of people with basic preparations (a three-day supply of food and water, and a household emergency plan) is up from 17 percent in 2010.

“Unsurprisingly, the region with the highest level of basic preparation was Canterbury – 40 percent had basic preparations, up from 28 percent in 2010,” General Social Survey manager Philip Walker said.

“Marlborough (36 percent) and Hawke’s Bay (30 percent) also had high proportions of people who were basically prepared.”

In Wellington, 29 percent of people were prepared while around one-quarter of people in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne region had basic preparations.

“The regions with the lowest rates for basic preparation in 2012 were Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Otago, and Southland. They all had less than one-fifth of people prepared,” Mr Walker said.

Nationally, 17 percent of people had better-than-basic preparations for a natural disaster – they also had a torch, portable radio, spare batteries, first aid kit, and essential medicines, on top of a three-day supply of food and water and a household emergency plan. This figure was up from 12 percent in 2010.

Approximately one-third of New Zealand households had an emergency plan in 2012. This has increased steadily from approximately one-quarter of households in 2008. . .

It’s rare that neither my farmer nor I is in town more than once a week but we could easily get by for more than that if we had to. We’ve got enough ponds and streams for water and a fire on which to boil it to ensure it’s potable and we always have torches, spare batteries and a first aid kit.

The portable radio is a bit too portable and tends to wander but it’s generally not too far from home. If all else failed we’d be able to use a radio in a car, ute or tractor to catch up on emergency broadcasts.

That fewer than 40% of people have at least basic preparations for an emergency could be a reflection on the way they live these days – fewer have vegetable gardens and many shop for what they need day by day.

But how hard is it to have basic or better than basic preparations?

If you’re very poor it would be difficult to have little if any more than you require for immediate needs.

But is it asking too much for other people to have enough spare to be self-sufficient for three days?


Big numbers but each an individual

13/11/2013

At least 10,000 people have died and many more have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines:

Four million people are thought to have been affected by the massive storm and 10,000 people are believed to have been killed in the city of Tacloban in the province of Leyte alone after huge waves swept away coastal villages on Friday.

A United Nations humanitarian official described the scale of damage in the Philippines caused by Haiyan as massive and unprecedented. John Ging said 660,000 people fled their homes because of the storm and the UN will appeal for significant international aid for victims.

Devastated communities without food, water and medicines are showing desperation after one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded flattened entire towns and left countless bodies scattered across wastelands.

People in Tacloban woke up to just what they didn’t need on Tuesday – driving rain. With provisions running low, everyone says that food is their main concern.

A BBC correspondent said he saw families straining filthy water through T-shirts to try and remove the dirt and there is a real risk of diseases like dysentery spreading quickly.  . . .

It is difficult to grasp the extent of the devastation, the lives lost, many more still at risk, homes destroyed, schools trashed, businesses ruined . . .

With numbers as big as these it is important to remember that each is an individual and that, just as we are seeing in Christchurch, the end of the storm won’t be the end of the problems.

Parliament began yesterday by offering messages of support to the victims.

Before question time in the House this afternoon, Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe both offered their condolences following the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines this week.

“Images we are seeing out of the affected areas are deeply harrowing and I know that all New Zealanders will be moved by them,” Mr Key said.

New Zealand had learned firsthand from the Canterbury earthquakes no country has to face a destructive natural disaster alone, he said.

“The international community always stands ready to help.” . . .

Unfortunately one MP let politics get in the way of the condolences.

In contrast, Dr Norman used his time to read a speech from the head of the Philippines’ delegation to the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.

His speech drew audible groans from the MPs and a number of negative tweets from politicians, including National MP Tau Henare and Labour MP Shane Jones.

After a point of order from co-leader Metiria Turei, Speaker David Carter said Mr Norman had the right to make a speech, “but it would be better if it was delivered without a political message”. . .

This was the wrong time and place for such a message.


State of emergency declared in NSW

21/10/2013

We spent a couple of days in rural Victoria last week.

A strong, not wind was blowing, it felt like a nor wester at home, but the fire danger was low. Pastures were green and lush with spring growth and dams were full.

victoria

 

But blackened trees showed where bush fires had raged and our hosts told us of days spent fire fighting as their farms and homes were threatened.

They were counting their blessings as they listened to news of fires further north.

A week later New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell has declared a state of emergency across the whole state as bush fires worsen.

Mass forced evacuations affecting tens of thousands of people are possible as hotter and drier than expected conditions combine with huge fire fronts already burning.

”This is not out of the realms of possibility,” NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. ”We are expecting the potential for the series of these fires to come together, to extend right down Bells Line of Road.

”They have the very real potential to go right out to the eastern end of the Hawkesbury, right down into the north-west area of Sydney including Richmond. . .

The Sydney Morning Herald has live updates.


Freedom Tower

11/09/2013

It’s still September 10th in the USA but it’s the 11th (11.9 to us but 9.11 to them) here.

I woke up that morning to hear my farmer saying “they’ve crashed” and spent the next few hours checking in to the live broadcasts as the horror unfolded.

Each time I travel I’m reminded of that day and how it changed the way we do things.

But twelve years on the focus is on the Freedom Tower which is  nearing completion.

Soaring above the city at 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center will be America’s tallest building – and an indelible New York landmark. Designed by David M. Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the 2.6-million-square-foot building will include office space, an observation deck, world-class restaurants, and broadcast and antennae facilities.

Begun by Silverstein Properties in April 2006 and taken over by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, construction has accelerated in the last year.   . .

 

 


Govt funding Pike river re-entry plan

03/09/2013

Families of the men who died in the Pyke River mine have been given some hope that the bodies will be recovered.

The Government has approved conditional funding of a staged plan to re-enter and explore the main tunnel leading up to the rock fall at the Pike River Coal Mine, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has announced.

The decision follows approval in principle of the re-entry plan risk assessment by the Solid Energy Board.

Mr Bridges said the Government will fund the estimated cost of the plan, at $7.2 million.

“Our criteria are that any re-entry into the tunnel up to the rock fall is safe, technically feasible and financially credible. Safety is paramount, and the High Hazards Unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has reviewed the plan and is comfortable with it,” said Mr Bridges.

“This is a highly complex and technical operation and it will be carefully managed in stages, with a risk assessment undertaken at each stage. Ensuring the safety of workers is an absolute bottom line for the Government and Solid Energy.”

Mr Bridges said the scope of the operation did not include entry into the main mine workings which is blocked by the rock fall. 

“The Government cannot comment or speculate about re-entering the main mine until the tunnel re-entry has been successfully achieved,” Mr Bridges said. 

Some of the families might have accepted that body recovery is unlikely, others haven’t and that will be an obstacle in the grieving process.

This is a first step which will give families hope but it gives no certainty.

Awful as the waiting and wondering must be for the relatives and friends of the men who died, the safety and lives of rescuers must take precedence over the recovery of bodies.


Canterbury can

26/05/2013

Quote of the day:

 Like this if you agree.

We have friends in Christchurch who keep us in touch with what’s happening and we toured the red zone a couple of months ago.

But no-one who isn’t living there can really understand what it’s like living there and dealing with the aftermath of the big earthquakes and the ongoing after shocks.

Those who are doing it are showing compassion, practicality and resilience that none of us know we possess until we’re put to the test.

They’re showing us Canterbury can and is recovering.


Texas Fertiliser plant explosion

18/04/2013

An explosion at a fertilser works in the town of West, Texas, has killed at least two people and injured more than 100.

“There are a lot of people that got hurt,” West Mayor Tommy Muska forewarned Wednesday night. “There are a lot of people that will not be here tomorrow.”

A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant on the edge of the town killed at least two people, wounded more than 150, leveled dozens of homes and prompted authorities to evacuate half their community of 2,800.

“It was a like a nuclear bomb went off,” Muska said. “Big old mushroom cloud.”

The Wednesday night blast shook houses 50 miles away and measured as a 2.1-magnitude seismic event, according to the United States Geological Survey.

“Fire officials fear that the number of casualties could rise as high as 60 to 70 dead, said Dr. George Smith, the emergency management system director of the city. . .

The Boston Marathon bombing was no accident it is probable that the fertilser plant accident was.

Fertiliser can contain ammonium nitrate which is also used in explosives.

 


Two years on

22/02/2013

At 12:51pm two years ago a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch.

On this second anniversary we remember the 185 people who died and the many others who were seriously injured.

We think of people whose homes and businesses were badly damaged, some irreparably.

We think of people still living in limbo, waiting for decisions, waiting for repairs, waiting to move on.

But two years on as the rebuild gains momentum we can also appreciate the work that has been done, the opportunities grasped and look ahead to better times for Christchurch and Canterbury.

 

 


NZ First pledges to kill insurance industry

16/02/2013

New Zealand First has pledged to give full compensation to Christchurch landowners:

All Christchurch uninsured red-zoned land owners who accept the current Government’s 50 per cent compensation offer will get the other half should New Zealand First become part of the next coalition Government.

Ensuring these landowners are treated fairly and receive the full rateable value of the land will be a bottom line in any coalition negotiations. . .

The party obviously doesn’t understand that what it regards as treating these landowners fairly would be treating insurance companies, their staff and shareholders, and taxpayers most unfairly.

This would kill the insurance industry because no-one would bother insuring their properties if they knew the government would pick up the pieces after a disaster.

This policy passes all the risk and costs from private property owners and insurance companies to the government which means taxpayers.


Drop, Cover, Hold

26/09/2012

At 9:26 this morning more than a million people will participate in the earthquake drill ShakeOut.

This will be the first nationwide earthquake drill ever held in any country.

Until a couple of years ago we might have thought it was academic.

But the Canterbury quakes changed that.

These are the shaky isles and we should all know how to drop, cover and hold.


Prepare to ShakeOut

13/09/2012

At 9.26am on Wednesday September 26 more than a million people will participate in the earthquake drill New Zealand ShakeOut.

Wherever we are, at home, work or school, inside or outside, we’re being asked to join in and practise the drill:  “Drop, Cover and Hold”.

That’s what we’re meant to do in an earthquake.

Rural Support Trusts have a message for farmers:

Stop for a moment and think – if there had just been a major earthquake:

  • Are your family and staff safe?
  • If you have lost services or infrastructure, are you able to keep your farm operating?

Following the 2010 Darfield earthquake some properties did not have power for up to a week. Also, rotary dairy platforms were knocked off their mountings, grain silos collapsed, and reticulated water systems were damaged. In the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake, milk silos at the dairy factory collapsed. The 1968 Inangahua earthquake saw all roads out of the area blocked.

“The priority for restoring services such as electricity and telephone service is likely to go to the areas of highest population first,” says Lindsay Wright of the Southland Rural Support Trust. “This means that the more remote rural areas may have to wait several days for restoration of services. If the roads are blocked, then maybe longer.”

Rural Support Trusts are asking farmers to take the opportunity during the Shakeout event to consider their readiness, response and recovery plans should such an event occur in their area.

Until a couple of years ago the need for awareness and preparation might have been considered to be academic.

The Canterbury earthquakes taught us it isn’t.

Wherever we are we need to know what to do. In the country especially we need to be prepared to look after ourselves and our neighbours in case help can’t get to us or emergency services have higher priorities in more densely populated places.


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