Thatcher thinks

19/10/2021


Nutrient density matters

16/10/2021

Nutrient density matters because not all carbon emissions are equal:

A lot of people make food choices based on what they think is good for the environment, and therefore also makes them feel good, but often their choices are hurting the environment unnecessarily.

This was the underlying message of Rabobank’s Netherlands-based managing board member, Berry Marttin’s talk at last month’s Farm2Fork summit, held at Cockatoo Island. . .

Today we talked a lot about world population – we have to produce more. But Paris is saying ‘no, no, we can only emit four megatonnes'”.

The Paris Accord also stipulated that emissions reductions must not come at the expense of food production.

He said the gap that our food producers will have to overcome is to lift from the current 13 trillion calories to “20-something trillion calories”, in 30 years time, which is an increase in the realm of 50-60 per cent.

At the same time, food production will have to go from 12Mt down to 4Mt of carbon output.

“Every calorie produced has to be four to five times more efficient,” Mr Marttin said.

“So we have to understand, what are we going to do? What are we measuring?”

He said a lot of current reports are measuring how much emissions per gram, or kilogram.

“But the issue is that we don’t live by kilos. We survive as humans by calories.”

He said if you look at it from a calorie point of view, it painted a clearer picture of the amount of carbon output along the whole supply chain versus what calorific value you obtained from that food – and also better reflected the amount of processing. . .

Milk production also represents 3-4pc of global carbon emmissions.

“And that brings us to the fact that people think that cows are polluters – it’s a big issue. That’s what people think about it.”

He said the Australia-New Zealand region did have the lowest output of carbon in the world per litre of milk produced.

“If you look at 100 grams of milk, it produces 100g of CO2. But if you look at the most important thing, which is actually the nutrition density of milk, it’s 50 (nutrients that we need daily).

“It’s a very high nutrition density.”

“Let’s look at the emission of soya drink – it has very low emissions (per unit of volume). But then let’s look at the nutrition density of soya drink, the problem is it has only one or two nutrients that we need every day.

“So are we measuring the right thing? Nope. Are we telling the right story? What’s better? Milk, or soya drink?

“Is the industry telling what is better for the environment?”

He said if you correlate the emissions with the nutrient density, you get a clearer picture of nutritional value against emissions output. . .

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

29/09/2021

Farmers grapple with ‘significant emotional stress’ and community pressure over forestry conversion sales – Bonnie Flaws:

A Wairarapa farmer Steve Thomson says selling his sheep and beef station to forestry three years ago was a difficult decision but he had struggled for two years to sell to other farmers.

Tensions around the issue of farms converting to forestry has been increasing because of the impact it could have on rural communities. But most see the problem as stemming from Government policy rather than greed, farmers say.

Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said there was no transparency about how much farm land was going to forestry because only the current land use is recorded at the time of the sale. . . 

Passion to serve rural New Zealand – Neal Wallace:

Wilson Mitchell is a young man on a mission. The University of Otago medical student is passionate about rural communities and the health and wellbeing of those who live there. He spoke to Neal Wallace.

Wilson Mitchell attributes the hours spent crutching and drenching sheep over weekends and school holidays for helping fuel his desire to work in rural health.

The satisfaction of an honest day’s physical toil is one reason for his infatuation but more so mixing with rural people and observing the dynamics of their communities.

He may just be 23 years old and five years through his studies, but Wilson’s commitment to rural health has already extended beyond good intentions. . . 

Daylight savings on the dairy farm: ‘The cows wonder why you’re an hour early’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland dairy farmer Bart Luton says his cows always notice something isn’t quite right when daylight savings hits.

“My cows will be wondering what I am doing in the paddock because I am an hour early or so. It takes them a couple of days to get used to it. They look around and think ‘you are too early’, and while you’re milking the cow flow will be a bit slower. They definitely need adjusting to it.”

Daylight saving time starts on Sunday when clocks will be turned forward one hour. Sunrise and sunset will be about an hour later than the day before and it will be lighter in the evening.

Canterbury farmer Alan Davie-Martin said cows were behavioural animals and knew when to gather at the gate. It usually took a few days for them to get used to the new timetable. . . 

Confident, not cocky: Uni student vows to run marathon in gumboots – Maia Hart:

A Marlborough teen who plans to run a marathon in her gumboots says the nerves are there, but she plans to “run it off”.

Emma Blom, who has moved to Christchurch to study at Lincoln University, is planning to run the Queenstown Marathon in November in her gumboots and overalls, to raise money for Outward Bound scholarships.

The scholarships would be aimed at people who work in the rural sector.

“I’m hoping to raise $10,000, so that four people can go on an 8-day discovery course,” Blom said.  . .

Deer industry to address emissions pricing – Annette Scott:

Deer farmers be warned, greenhouse gas (GHG) pricing is coming so get prepared, is the message from industry.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) is urging deer farmers to get up to speed with GHG pricing that will impact on the way they farm.

While Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ and DairyNZ are holding consultation meetings over the next two months, the deer industry as a sector will not be officially involved.

Deer Industry NZ chief executive Innes Moffat says despite standing alone it’s important industry’s voice is heard and is not drowned out by views of other industries. . . 

LeaderBrand’s ambitious construction plans forge ahead despite ongoing lockdown interruptions :

LeaderBrand’s construction plans on their ambitious eleven hectare undercover farming project is forging ahead despite the ongoing interruption from lockdowns over the past couple of years.

In October 2019, Kānoa, Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, confirmed LeaderBrand was successful in securing a $15 million loan to help fund the construction of their undercover growing facility.

The project will accelerate crop growth all year round in a more sustainable manner, help to mitigate weather impacts, and create more consistent product which will secure more jobs across the year. The technology incorporated in the greenhouses is innovative and will revolutionise the way LeaderBrand will farm in the future. This includes significantly reducing fertiliser and water usage as well as protecting soil structure. . .

 


Opening safely

29/09/2021

The National Party has launched a plan to open the country safely, and let us get back to normal life:

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins today launched National’s comprehensive plan to tackle Covid-19, end lockdowns and reopen New Zealand to the world.

Titled ‘Opening Up’, National’s plan outlines a pathway to avoid nationwide lockdowns and then allow most fully vaccinated travellers to and from New Zealand to travel much more easily, either without any isolation at all, or with seven days at home.

“The Government has taken its eye off the Covid-19 ball in 2021,” Ms Collins says.

“New Zealand started the year in a good position but the slowest vaccine rollout in the developed world for most of this year and a lack of planning meant we were forced into a long lockdown in August and September, one that is still ongoing in Auckland.

“Instead of investing in contact tracing, ICU capacity and purpose-built MIQ, the Government frittered the Covid Response Fund away on art therapy, cameras on fishing boats, and Three Waters reform.

“The plan outlines ten steps we need to take, such as supercharging the vaccine rollout, buying vaccine boosters and next generation treatments, using saliva testing and rapid antigen tests and building purpose built quarantine.

“It is imperative we reach a milestone of 70-75 per cent of the 12 and above population to stop socially and economically damaging nationwide lockdowns.

“The Government has no real plan beyond a belated admission that vaccination is important. The Prime Minister says there is no vaccine target while Ministers throw around numbers willy-nilly.

“The Prime Minister also says her ‘reconnection’ ideas are still government policy while her COVID-19 Minister says they are being reconsidered.

“A 150 person trial for businesspeople to self-isolate at home before Christmas isn’t a plan, it’s an insult.

“Kiwis have done the hard yards. They have willingly followed harsh lockdown measures and other Covid-19 restrictions and, increasingly, they have been vaccinated for the common good. It’s time for them to be offered a vision and a plan about how their hard work will pay off.

“New Zealanders now have a clear plan from National. Delta is here, it may not be possible to eliminate it, and it would almost inevitably arrive into the community again. Whatever happens, we need to reopen to the world and National’s plan outlines how we can do that.

“Once we reach a milestone of 85 per cent of the 12 and above population, National believes we should start to allow fully vaccinated from low risk and medium risk travellers to come to New Zealand without going through MIQ. Non-citizens and non-permanent residents who are not vaccinated would be prohibited from travel to New Zealand.

“National’s plan would reunite Kiwi families split apart overseas, allow New Zealanders to travel overseas for business and pleasure, boost tourism and international education, and end the outrageous human lottery that is the MIQ debacle.

“Under National, Kiwis can come home for Christmas. Under Labour, they can’t.” 

The plan has 10 steps for suppression of Covid:

The time will soon come for New Zealand to pivot from an elimination strategy to one of vigorous suppression, National’s Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“New Zealand is at a tipping point. Delta is in the country right now and may never leave. Even the Government admits it may not be possible to get cases back to zero and if we do Delta will be back again anyway.

“The Government is being intellectually dishonest in maintaining the fiction that borders can reopen while New Zealand simultaneously maintains an elimination strategy. In a world with Delta, that is impossible.

“National is the only major party being upfront with New Zealanders. The time will soon come when we need to pivot to vigorous suppression of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

“This is a strategy where New Zealand aims to keep the number of Covid-19 cases very low, but not necessarily at zero. There will likely be cases of infection under this strategy, but the aim is to rapidly respond when they occur and minimise the number of people infected.

“Once we reach a milestone of 85 per cent of the country vaccinated, vigorous suppression becomes possible when supplemented with National’s ten steps to tackle Covid-19.

“National has outlined ten steps we urgently need to take to respond to Covid-19 and set ourselves up to begin to reconnect with the world. They are:

    1. Supercharge the vaccine rollout
    2. Order vaccine boosters
    3. Upgrade our contact tracing capability
    4. Roll out saliva testing at the border and in the community
    5. Roll out rapid tests for essential workers and in the community
    6. Create a dedicated agency, Te Korowai Kōkiri, to manage our Covid-19 response based in Manukau not Wellington
    7. Build purpose-built quarantine facilities
    8. Launch a digital app for vaccination authentication
    9. Invest in next-generation Covid treatments
    10. Prepare our hospitals and expand ICU capacity

“These 10 steps are important measures New Zealand needs to take to evolve our response away from lockdowns and help us open up to the world.

“If we implement these steps, we have options for our future. Kiwis can then look to reunite with family, travel overseas for business and pleasure and we can welcome tourists and students for international education.

“Once we reopen to the world, the future is in the hands of New Zealanders.” 

One of the reasons we keep having to lockdown is fear of overwhelming the health system. An important part of National’s plan is to strengthen the health system:

National’s Covid-19 Plan, ‘Opening Up’ includes a strong priority on improving our hospitals, expanding our ICU capacity and funding treatments for Covid-19, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti and Associate Health spokesperson Simon Watts say.

Dr Reti says New Zealanders did the hard yards last year to stamp out Covid-19 and expected the Government to invest wisely in the health system to prepare it for future outbreaks.

“Instead of investing in ICU capacity, the Government frittered the Covid-19 Response Fund away and has focused on restructuring the entire health system in the middle of a global pandemic.

“The number of ICU beds has actually fallen since the end of April 2020 through to September 2021, no new ICU bed spaces have been provisioned since Delta first appeared in MIQ and urgent alterations had to be made at the start of the recent outbreak to hospital wards in Auckland.

“In the first three weeks of the recent outbreak 62,829 inpatient procedures were cancelled. A delayed procedure can have a significant impact on a person’s health and their ability to recover once the surgery does proceed. In some cases, delaying a procedure is putting a life at risk,” Dr Reti says.

Mr Watts says National’s plan involves urgently implementing a specialist healthcare workforce migration plan.

“We would select the 3000 doctors and nurses out of the expression of interest pool and process them urgently. We would also prioritise and fast-track resident applications for critical healthcare workers, setting aside dedicated MIQ spaces if required.

“National would offer conditional residence class visas upon arrival to specialist, experienced nurses who have the qualifications and experience needed to immediately start working in New Zealand.

“We would also fast-track the building of new hospital wards to increase bed capacity. In Auckland, there are business cases for projects at Waitakere Hospital that could be progressed immediately,” Mr Watts says.

National’s Plan also invests in next generation Covid-19 treatments.

New Zealand is now well behind other countries in approving and ordering exciting new Covid-19 treatments like Ronapreve and Sotrovimab. These monoclonal antibody treatments are used to treat Covid-19 and have shown real promise in clinical trials.

“Ronapreve has been licensed for use in 20 countries and the EU has bought 55,000 doses. Sotrovimab has just been approved for use in Australia, which has bought 7700 doses,” Dr Reti says.

“New Zealand has not bought any doses of either treatment or approved them for use.

“National would establish a ring-fenced and dedicated Covid-19 Treatment fund from within the Covid-19 Response fund, and task Pharmac with negotiating purchase agreements with a variety of manufacturers,” Dr Reti says.

“National wants New Zealanders to enjoy more of the freedoms they have before the pandemic hit. To do this we must make sure our health system is robust enough to both deal with people who may fall ill with Covid-19 and continue day-to-day operations,” Mr Watts says.

New Zealanders can’t travel for fear they won’t be able to get back into the country and very, very few who want to return can. National’s plan allows vaccinated travel:

National’s plan to reopen New Zealand would reunite Kiwi families, allow New Zealanders to travel overseas for business and pleasure, boost tourism and international education, and end the depressing and outrageous human lottery that is the MIQ debacle, National’s Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Once New Zealand reaches a milestone of 85 per cent of the aged 12 and above population fully vaccinated, we should start to safely reopen to the world. 85 per cent would give us one of the world’s highest vaccination rates.

“Alongside the public health measures outlined in our plan, a milestone of 85 per cent means we can manage Covid-19 coming through the border.

“National’s reopening plan is based on a traffic light system and prioritises fully vaccinated travellers. Non-citizens and non-permanent residents who are not vaccinated would be banned from travelling to New Zealand.

“The low-risk (green) pathway is for travel from jurisdictions where there is either no or little cases of Covid-19, and where vaccination rates are above 80 per cent.

“Vaccinated travellers from these jurisdictions would be able to come to New Zealand with a pre-departure test and a rapid and saliva test on arrival at the port of entry. Assuming all tests are negative they would be free to enter New Zealand without any isolation.

“In the first instance we expect this to apply to travellers to and from Queensland, Western Australia, the ACT, the Cook Islands and possibly Taiwan.

“The medium-risk (orange) pathway is travel from jurisdictions where Covid-19 is spreading but under control, and where vaccination rates are above 50 per cent. Judgments would be made by National’s proposed dedicated Covid-19 agency, Te Korowai Kōkiri.

“Vaccinated travellers from these jurisdictions would be able to come to New Zealand with a pre-departure test and a rapid and saliva test on arrival at the port of entry.

“They would then be required to spend seven days in home isolation and encouraged to take rapid tests which would be provided for free upon arrival. Enforcement would be via spot checks, and the possible use of digital monitoring apps like Singapore’s ‘Homer’ app.

“We expect this to apply to travellers to and from NSW, Victoria, Singapore, the USA, the UK and many European countries.

“People who test positive either at ports of entry or in the community would either be required to isolate at home or in purpose-built quarantine, with assessments made by public health teams.

“Under this plan, Kiwis coming through the green and orange pathways would be able to come home by Christmas.

“Kiwis have done the hard yards, they’ve willingly followed harsh lockdown measures and other restrictions. It’s time they’re offered a vision for the future and a plan for how this hard work has paid off. National’s plan does just that.”

Tens of thousands of New Zealanders can’t come home, immigrants with essential skills can’t get residency and people whose skills we desperately need can’t get MIQ spaces. National’s plan seizes immigration opportunities:

Opening up to the world doesn’t just give Kiwis the opportunity to come home, but it also gives New Zealand opportunities to attract talent from overseas, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“As other countries gradually recover from the effects of Covid-19, a global bidding war for talent has emerged. Almost every advanced economy other than New Zealand has begun deploying aggressive tactics to attract skilled workers.

“Before New Zealand can do the same thing we must fix our broken immigration system.

“We currently have huge delays in processing visas resulting in a years-long backlog of residency applications, and a frozen residency pool is leaving many of our critical workers stuck in immigration limbo. They can’t access KiwiSaver or buy a house, they’re fed up and choosing to leave. It’s clear we’re in a crisis.

“Unlike the Government, National is planning for the future. Immigration will be critical to help resource our health system to deal with any future Covid-19 cases and help our economy bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.”

To resource our health system National would:

  • Instruct immigration officials to urgently reopen the frozen Skilled Migrant Category visa expressions of interest pool and prioritise processing residence applications for critical healthcare workers
  • Offer residence class visas on arrival to specialist nurses with the qualifications, skills and experience to allow them to immediately start working in New Zealand

To help our economy bounce back National would:

  • Create a pathway to residence for those migrants who have stuck with us through the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Reopen the expressions of interest pool and process these applications with urgency
  • Create a fast-tracked, streamlined process for residence applications to quickly clear the backlog
  • Offer conditional residence on arrival for highly-sought skilled workers
  • Implement a traffic light model for people arriving from overseas

Ms Stanford says National understands how important it is we rebuild the reputation of our immigration sector.

“With the world competing for global talent to help their fight against Covid-19 and support their economic recovery, we need to make sure we don’t lose our critical workers to other countries, while at the same time focus on attracting the best talent from overseas.

“If we want the best, we need to be the best. Offering a clear pathway to permanent residency will make sure New Zealand remains an attractive destination for skilled migrants to come and work at time when we need them more than ever.” 

Labour has spent 18 months saying can’t, National’s plan shows what we could do and how we could do it, and do it safely.

National’s Opening UP plan is here.


Which will be next?

29/09/2021

Inland Revenue doesn’t support Labour’s tax policy:

The Government’s own tax experts say the Government’s tax deductibility policy will do little to stop exploding house prices and will drive rents up, says National’s Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly.

“The Government’s interest deductibility policy, which comes into effect this Friday, is not just 11th hour policymaking, but Inland Revenue advised the Government against it.

“Inland Revenue strongly opposed any option to remove the ability to deduct interest and instead endorsed the status quo, saying additional taxes on rental housing are unlikely to be an effective way of boosting overall housing affordability.

Only someone with absolutely no idea about how the real world works would think that increasing costs for landlords would magically help housing affordability.

“It also claimed the policy would put upward pressure on rents and could reduce the supply of new housing developments in the longer term.

“It estimates that 250,000 taxpayers will now have to face high compliance and administration costs, further eroding coherence of the tax system.

“The Government says the plan is to target speculators, but nothing could be further from the truth.

How could a blanket tax change hit only a small number of landlords?

“In reality, this policy targets the ‘mum and dad’ landlords of the New Zealand, those who may only own one extra property. According to MBIE, this is 80 per cent of all landlords in the country.

“For the average property in Auckland, we estimate this will lead to an extra $7,600 on the end-of-year tax bill per property which, for many, may mean they lose money on their rental.

“This figure does not even include the money that will have to be spent on accountants and lawyers who will need to help calculate the amount of tax owed.

“Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand have slated the policy, saying the measures do not accord with good public policy design.

“Government officials have advised that the Government’s housing tax policies – announced earlier this year – have had no dampening effect on house prices, but there was evidence of continued acceleration in rental price growth.

“This is another ill-conceived and rushed policy, with little real input from tax experts. As of Friday, every landlord will be paying this extra tax.

“If the Government’s policy is intended to force mum and dad landlords to put up rents or sell their retirement nest eggs, it’ll work really well.  But, if it hasn’t already had an impact on house prices, then it’s not likely to any time soon.

“National will reverse this misguided change.”

Rents have already risen since the policy was announced.

Even the Finance Minister admits tax changes won’t help the housing crisis.

Interest paid on money borrowed by a business is a legitimate, tax deductible cost of doing business that every other business except those renting houses.

Singling out landlords to lose the deductibility is unfair to them and their tennants.

It also adds uncertainty to other business. If the government can misuse tax policy in this way for one sector which one will they pick on next?


Stop the ‘smorgasbord of abject waste’

22/09/2021

If only Jason Walls was making this up :

As New Zealand faced the brunt of a global pandemic, the Government spent $26,000 commissioning a novel about the collapse of democracy in an association of alpaca breeders.

As people lost jobs in droves, almost $50,000 was given to the Comedy Trust to examine what changes need to be made to better support a more diverse and sustainable comedy industry.

I’m not making this up.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Government has spent $57 billion on New Zealand’s economic recovery.

A lot of this money has been well spent – the wage subsidy scheme prevented what would have likely been an economic collapse.

But amongst the important, well-targeted spending is a smorgasbord of abject waste.

Billions and billions of dollars have been spent on projects that don’t come close to a semblance of sensible spending, let alone meeting the threshold for Covid Recovery.

What makes this waste even worse is that every cent of those billions and billions of dollars is borrowed.

Every cent wasted on these projects is a cent that has to be repaid, with interest.

None of these cents will be available for health, education, infrastructure, police, welfare and other essential public spending for decades.

Take the $18,000 for writing poetry that “explores indigeneity and love in the time of climate change,” for example.

It’s easy to take aim at the Creative NZ funding and to poke holes in what the Government’s decided to fund through its $55m “public interest journalism” fund.

And yes, although $21,800 for the writing music that forms a song-cycle from the suburban labyrinth is a relatively small amount when considering the Government’s mammoth budget, other larger projects are harder to ignore.

Some $26.7 million was spent on cameras on fishing boats, in the name of Covid recovery.

There was also $200m for the construction of a new building at the University of Auckland.

And a whopping $1.22 billion was spent on the jobs for nature scheme – as a little perspective, that’s enough to buy roughly 1000 houses in Auckland.

Are they important projects? Maybe. Should they have been the Government’s focus in these unprecedented times? Absolutely not.

The focus should have been on what was really needed, one, arguably the most urgent, of which even without a pandemic, is the health system.

The currency of politics is opportunity cost – what project has missed out on funding as a result of another getting the nod from the Beehive.

In the case of the Covid-19 Recovery Fund, every cent spent on commissioning podcasts, picture books and poetry is money not spent on New Zealand’s health care system.

Meanwhile, that very system is being stretched to its limits. . . 

Hardly a day goes by that serious problems with health services and for the staff who provide them, don’t feature in the news.

Many of the problems are long running but all have been exacerbated by this government’s policies. These include the failure to grant residency to overseas health professionals who are here, not giving those outside New Zealand priority in MIQ, and wasting millions with a wholesale change to the system that will do nothing to improve services.

The very real threat of overburdening the health system was a major reason for lockdowns. Little if anything has been done to improve its capability and resilience.

But there is some hope.

Tacked at the bottom of a Grant Robertson press release about New Zealand’s “strong economic momentum” was a fairly significant note.

Cabinet’s decided to allocate a further $7 billion to the Covid-19 Recovery Fund.

When added to the $3b that’s left in that fund, ministers have a tidy $10b extra to spend.

Although it’s a sixth the size of the overall Covid fund, it’s not an insignificant amount of money.

It needs to be spent properly, with New Zealand’s health care system at its focus.

That’s more hospital beds – not funding the instrumental arrangement of 10 songs for children, from ideas given by children.

More nurses – not paying for seven large domes in fiberglass for exhibition as exoplanets using satellite imagery.

More money for New Zealand’s hospitals – not funding for obscure and wasteful projects in the name of the ‘Covid Recovery’. 

More money not just for hospitals and their staff but for primary health services too.

The Taxpayers’ Union has been highlighting bizarre funding decisions on Twitter:

Arts are important but the biggest benefit from these grants goes to individuals.

That money would have done so much more for so many more had it been spent on health.

 


Rural round-up

15/09/2021

Give sheep and beef farmers a voice – James Hoban:

Trying to unite farmer advocacy groups is well intentioned but misguided, writes James Hoban. 

Recently I ran into a well known environmental activist who I had not seen for several years. He asked me what I thought the future of farming was and I disappointed myself by answering; “Dim, for sheep and beef, unless we can sort some major issues out,” without hesitating.

Grandparenting is a term we have become increasingly familiar with. Numerous examples of it have seen sheep and beef farmers disadvantaged in favour of more intensive land users. It is also the key reason why Groundswell’s call for one farming voice is flawed and why efforts by industry organisations to join forces for political lobbying are short sighted.

Despite widespread acknowledgement that grandparenting is wrong, it continues to be favoured by the Government. Grandparenting is used for triggering resource consent requirements in the recent winter grazing regulations and in the greenhouse gas emissions framework. While the Government has watched grandparenting tear rural communities apart, it continues to use it as the basis for controversial policies. . . 

A growing revolt – Chris McCullough:

Farmers across the world are jumping into their tractors and setting off in convoys to cities in order to make their voices heard. For too long now farmers have had to go along with whatever wacky decisions their governments have bestowed upon them, but that attitude has changed dramatically recently and it’s no more Mr Nice Guy.

As words fell deaf on politicians’ ears the Kiwi farmers did what their European counterparts have become used to and that meant a tractor trip to the city. French farmers are the world professionals of protesting as they ensure the French government, the European Commission and the public feel their anger. The EC insists its farm support subsidies will only be distributed if farmers comply with tougher greener environmental agriculture, provoking a revolt. . . 

Mixed reactions to road funding – Richard Rennie:

Despite the scale of the Government’s $24 billion-plus transport plan, mayors in some provincial regions are challenging the adequacy of funding for rural roading networks.

Auckland accounts for the lion’s share of the national land transport programme at $7.3b, but Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Manawatū, Canterbury and Otago are also swallowing $6.1b of the funds over the plan’s 2021-24 lifespan.

Ashburton District Council mayor Neil Brown said he was underwhelmed by the $1.2b allocated to Canterbury and just how much would be available to his council’s district as it continues to recover from  devastating floods in late May.

“When you look at general repairs and maintenance allocated, we did get more than the last three year plan, but it is only 1.6% more,” Brown said. . . 

Plea for more countries to be added to visa scheme for RSE workers :

A major horticulture group wants more countries added to the visa scheme for seasonal orchard and vineyard workers.

One-way quarantine-free travel by workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu will start from next month, under the ‘recognised seasonal employer’ or RSE scheme.

Up to 14,400 people will be allowed in for the 2021-22 harvest.

Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard said the industry is ready, and wanting to bring in as many people as possible. . . 

 

Taihape teaching farm transfer: Ombudsman says Education Ministry ‘unreasonable’ – Phil Pennington:

The Chief Ombudsman has found the Education Ministry was wrong to take a small farm used for agricultural lessons off a Taihape school.

Locals have won an apology but cannot get the farm back.

Townsfolk joined forces to buy the 13-hectare block cheaply from a local farmer, put hundreds of sheep and cattle on it three decades ago, and it has since been central to the curriculum.

But the ministry first took it, then disposed of it, several years ago despite the town’s protests. . . 

How Sri Lanka’s overnight flip to total organic farming has led to an economic disaster – Samyak Pandey:

Sri Lanka has been hit by a serious economic emergency even as it struggles to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dwindling foreign exchange reserves, a sinking currency and soaring food inflation have come together to create a crisis which is unprecedented even by the record of the island nation that was torn by civil war for decades.

The surge in food prices and a real fear of hoarding of essential food items was the last straw that forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to impose the economic emergency on 31 August under the public security ordinance.

At the root of this economic catastrophe is a bizarre overnight flip by Rajapaksa’s government on 29 April to ban the import of chemical fertilisers and any other agrochemicals to make the Indian Ocean nation the first in the world to practice organic-only agriculture. . . 


Word of the day

04/09/2021

Alack – an expression of dismay, mourning, regret, sadness or sorrow.


Word of the day

31/08/2021

Imprescience – a total lack of foresight and knowledge; the condition of being without foreknowledge or prescience.


Too much demand not too little supply?

30/08/2021

Good grief:

The Government’s incompetent and negligent vaccine contracting is coming back to haunt them as the Prime Minister warns the country risks running out of vaccines, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“The Prime Minister’s comment at this afternoon’s 1pm press conference that ‘it’s not about running out of vaccines, it’s about having a little less demand’ is unbelievable.

Does the PM really not understand basic economics?

This sounds like the housing crisis, the government version is that it’s not a problem of too little supply but too much demand.

New Zealanders have shown an encouraging enthusiasm to go and get vaccinated. Most Kiwis know that vaccinating as many people as possible as quickly as possible is the way to avoid more lockdowns and to reconnect to the world.

“New Zealand’s vaccine roll-out has been the slowest in the developed world. Now it is starting to ramp up, there is a real risk we will run out of vaccines and the Prime Minister says demand needs to lessen.

“This is incompetence on a grand scale. Right at the moment demand is surging, the Government can’t meet that demand.

“Chris Hipkins said in May that all of New Zealand’s Pfizer stock was meant to be delivered by September. What happened to that commitment?

“New Zealand signed contracts with vaccine manufacturers late, we actually got around to ordering our vaccine later than other countries, we refused to offer an incentive payment to Pfizer for earlier delivery, and we still haven’t got around to ordering any booster shots.

“This lockdown happened because our vaccination rate was way too low. Now the Government looks like they want to slow down the very roll-out that will help avoid more lockdowns in the future.”

Not only was the vaccination rate too slow, the preparation for contact tracing and testing should the expected outbreak occur was woefully behind what was needed.

If contact tracing and testing had been better fewer people might have been infected, there would have been fewer places where infection might have occurred and we might all be looking at a much shorter lockdown.

We can’t change what wasn’t done before this outbreak but the government must ensure that it, and its agencies, are much better prepared for the next one, or we’ll be slipping even further down Bloomberg’s rankings:


Word of the day

23/08/2021

Protean – tending or able to change frequently or easily; able to do many different things; versatile; extremely variable; readily assuming different forms or characters; of or resembling Proteus in having a varied nature or ability to assume different forms.


Will they boast about this?

23/08/2021

Yesterday’s Covid-19 media stand-up started with a boast about how many people were vaccinated he day before.

Will the government also boast about the abysmally low share of the population that is vaccinated?


Foreseen consequences

12/08/2021

All but two sectors recorded reductions in emissions in the year to March and guess which ones went up:

“The year to March 2021 was one of significant upheaval for our economy and society, and that has flowed through to our greenhouse gas emissions,” environmental economic accounts manager Stephen Oakley said.

“In the last year, we’ve seen both the largest annual decrease on record and the most volatile quarterly movements in emissions.” . .

“Electricity, gas, water, and waste services emissions were up due to the greater reliance on fossil fuel use for electricity generation over the year, as New Zealand experienced dry conditions in hydro-generation areas,” Mr Oakley said. . .

The increase in energy emissions was a foreseen consequence of government policy.

They were warned that killing of domestic gas and coal production with no plan for transmission to renewable energy would result in the need to import coal and that’s what’s happened.

The  policy that was supposed to reduce emissions has led to an increase:

I completely agree with the Energy Minister Megan Woods and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in their assessment of the blackouts on Monday as ‘not good enough,’ National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“It is a pity Labour is committed to proportioning blame to everyone but themselves. As the Energy Minister, the buck stops with you. New Zealanders need to know that they will not be left without electricity on the coldest night of the year.

“Wages aren’t the only thing Labour is freezing. The power outages left many families with no other way to warm their homes. This Government has, after all, told us that wood burners are bad news for the environment.

“This whole incident reveals the weakness in the Labour’s impractical target of 100 per cent renewable electricity and the spur of the moment gas exploration ban issued by Jacinda Ardern last term.

“We have been importing millions of tonnes of Indonesian coal in order to keep our power sources going instead of using our own natural resources and employing a gradual step down from fossil fuels. . . 

The gas ban was virtue signaling greenwash at its worst.

The damage was not just to the environment but to the whole nuclear moment rhetoric with the reaction to this week’s black out by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Energy Minister Megan Woods. Climate change policy was nowhere to be seen when they were asking why energy companies weren’t burning more coal.

And that is how it will be – keeping the lights on, homes warm and manufacturing going now will always be more important than a cleaner, greener world tomorrow.


Fixes for what matters

09/08/2021

National leader Judith Collins focused on seven fixes to major problems in her speech to the party’s conference:

. . . You have told us that you want New Zealand to be a great place to live, work and raise a family with a strong economy so we can lift incomes, invest in the environment and have world class healthcare and education.

You want a National Government that will lift Kiwis up and trust them to make choices for themselves. That will empower New Zealanders to work hard and get ahead. And to enable New Zealanders to raise families in one of the greatest little countries on the planet.

Today I announce the seven fixes that National will be talking to Kiwis about.

We must strive to lift incomes and reduce the cost of living.

Right now New Zealand is a relatively low income country towards the bottom of the OECD

Today Kiwis have to work harder and longer than their Australian cousins to earn the same wage. It shouldn’t be that way. It’s why we are again losing people to Australia. It’s one of the reasons we have a skills shortage – doctors and nurses are better off in Australia.

Lower incomes mean fewer choices for the kiwi family. It’s harder for them to provide for their families and communities. To invest in businesses. We want more New Zealanders to be in a position to have choices in life, to be less reliant upon the government.

We must create an environment where business succeeds, where we raise productivity by producing goods and services of higher value, where there is less government interference, fewer costly regulations and where business can pay higher wages because they earn more not because people work longer.

Today we start the debate on ‘How do we lift incomes so New Zealanders can raise a family and get ahead?’

Lowering the burden of government so that we keep more of what we earn would be a good start.

Reducing compliance costs and over regulation would also help.

The second is technology and its role in increasing incomes and growing the economy

One of the highest paying sectors in the New Zealand economy is the Technology sector.

This is probably not the first time you have heard me talk about this. And it won’t be the last.

It is a portfolio I have taken on for myself and one I will keep as Prime Minister. You see, a young New Zealander leaving university with a Technology degree has the potential to earn more during their life than almost any other graduate that year.

From Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, to Gallagher’s in the Waikato, to our very own Space Company RocketLab, we punch above our weight.

The technology sector represents a huge opportunity for New Zealand. Tech is one of the world’s most highly productive and fastest growing industries. With potential to deliver fulfilling, exciting, high-paying jobs of the future for our young people. It will enhance our existing industries. Help us meet our sustainability and climate change obligations and drive many of the solutions we need in the primary sector. It will drive productivity gains across the entire economy and mean that kiwis will earn more.

Farmers and horticulturists have been early adopters of improved technology and science.

Productivity increases need to be shared across our economy.

Next month we will be holding a Technology Summit to engage with the best and brightest minds from across the technology sector, and to begin to chart a path forward for New Zealand.

So today we start the debate ‘How do we nurture a growing tech sector that creates more and better paying jobs and competes on the world stage?’

The third area of focus is an area that I believe is the number one social and economic issue New Zealand faces, and that’s housing.

Every week up and down the country I’m approached by Kiwis who worry their children will never achieve the dream of home ownership.

Labour has failed New Zealanders on housing and in the process have caused disposable incomes to disappear and hardship to increase. It means people are delaying decisions like having a family or starting a business. It means less stability for families. It means children growing up in small rooms in emergency motels.

KiwiBuild isn’t their only disaster.

Labour’s changes to tenancy and tax laws have seen rental costs increase by more than $100 per week, driving up Kiwis’ cost of living and locking many of them out of the housing market. And Labour has been extraordinarily slow to address our RMA issues. Now that David Parker has released draft legislation we see Labour plans to make the RMA more, rather than less, complex.

A new prescription that’s worse than the problem it’s supposed to fix, how much worse could it get?

The way we approach town planning must change. We must give people the right to build –we can’t let home owners continue to be buried in planning rules. I have already introduced a Member’s Bill that would put in place emergency powers similar to those we used to speed up house building following the Christchurch earthquakes.

It would also provide local authorities with a $50,000 infrastructure grant for every new home they consent above their historical average. This is a short-term solution to planning challenges and infrastructure investment – a desperately needed one.

What worked in Christchurch would work everywhere else and a grant to help cover the cost of infrastructure would lower the cost of new housing.

But we also need to develop the long-term fixes that address the cost of land, funding infrastructure, and also the Building Act and the cost of building materials.

So today we start the debate: Why does it cost so much to build or own a home in New Zealand and what can we do to fix it?

Because, rest assured, we will fix it!

Our current location, here in Manukau, is quite fitting for the fourth issue that needs fixing, which is transport. Getting from here, in South Auckland, to the CBD takes more than an hour using public transport. It’s a 20-minute drive with no traffic, but at least 60 minutes during rush hour – if you’re lucky.

And, of course, this is also where one end of the Mill Road Project was supposed to connect. A project that would have helped 120,000 people. But the Government cancelled that so they could build a cycle bridge that might benefit a few thousand on a sunny, windless day!

In fact they cancelled 12 roads that New Zealand desperately needs as soon as they came to government.

It is vitally important that people in New Zealand can get home to their families quickly and safely each day. Every day hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders lose between 30 minutes and an hour, to traffic. This is time mums and dads spend away from their children. The time a tradie spends not building a house. Goods spent not moving, making our country less productive.

National has a strong record invested in the full range of transport infrastructure. The City Rail Link, Bus Rapid Transit on the North Shore, National cycle ways, and our Roads of National Significance. Rail, buses, cycle ways and roads.
National delivered on our transport promises.

We will continue to invest in rail, bus rapid transit and cycle ways. But we also need more efficient roads to de-clog our cities and free people from congestion.

In a world where cars are set to be low and zero emissions, it doesn’t make sense that we need to stop using cars.
National’s fourth big fix will look at how we can deliver the transport infrastructure we need and reduce our transport emissions. And how we help Kiwis move around their towns, cities – and farms – in a way that’s best for them.
Today we start the debate on ‘How do we get New Zealanders home to their families quickly and safely?’

Our fifth fix is education.

We must restore our world-class education system if we want every Kiwi to succeed. Young people who do well at school have options. They very rarely get into trouble. Our prisons are not filled with people who did well at school.
The last National Government made huge progress in this area.

We set and achieved ambitious targets for achievement and success increasing the number of students leaving school with NCEA, particularly Maori and Pasifika students.

But as our Education Spokesman Paul Goldsmith has been pointing out, alarm bells should be ringing in our education system today. Standards are slipping. To quote the Education Review Office, there has also been a “slippage of expectations”.

Our international performance in foundational subjects like maths, science, and English is going backwards.

If we want our young New Zealanders to experience world-class living standards and incomes, they need a world-class education.

To lift incomes and give people choices we need to back our teachers and back our school to teach our kids. From Early Childhood, Primary Schools and colleges to tertiary institutions, we must give New Zealanders the skills they need to get ahead and our economy needs to grow.

The National Party has always understood the power of education to provide equal opportunities to succeed.

Today we start the debate: ‘How do we educate Kiwis to succeed globally?’

National has always believed you deserve to be safe in your home and in your community. It’s a government’s job to keep you safe. Something that we have always taken extremely seriously.

Sadly Labour have taken a different approach. And it’s not working.

They’ve promised to reduce the prison population, not by preventing crime, but by releasing criminals to offend again.

They spend far too much time listening to ‘experts’ on the theory and not enough time listening to frontline police officers and victims of crime.

The police college was closed for six months this year. Serious assaults have doubled. Yes, serious assaults in New Zealand have doubled under this Labour Government.

We’ve seen a shocking growth over the past four years in gang activity and violent crime. Gangs have been recruiting faster than the police! Up 50% in just 4 years.

Thousands of young New Zealand men – or too often boys – have been pulled into a life of crime, violence, drug dealing, and substance abuse.

These organisations are not just “community support groups” or “surrogate families”. They aren’t “motorcycle clubs”. Or – as I like to say – they’re not “Rotary in Leather”. They are organised criminals.

They are increasingly internationally linked, organised criminals. They import, cook, distribute, and sell methamphetamine. They commit violent crimes. They intimidate and bully communities.

These gangs have not changed, no matter what they say to sympathetic journalists. They’ve just got richer.

Police seized 2 million dollars from the Hawke’s Bay Mongrel Mob in May. That wasn’t money from member donations and sausage sizzles.

Luckily for the mob, the Government is happily engaged in what the Police Association has called money laundering. And they have given the Mob $2.75 million back via Harry Tam’s meth ‘rehab’ scam.

Law-abiding Kiwis shouldn’t be asked to put up with organised crime thriving in our towns and cities. Kiwis should not have to fear gun crime.

National backs the police to do their job. National is the party of law and order and this is our sixth fix.

Labour may not want it but today we start the debate: ‘How do we make our communities safer and reverse the growth of criminal gangs?’

Our seventh fix is health because Kiwis deserve a world-class health system that treats them and their families on time.

You shouldn’t have to wait for their hip or knee operation. A cancer patient shouldn’t be left in the Wellington hospital emergency department for 30 hours before a hospital bed can be found them. Your teenage son or daughter should be seen by a mental health professional when they need it and as soon as they need it.

The past couple of years have reminded us how precious our health is.

The Covid-19 vaccine rollout is a shambles. Labour needs to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate so kiwis are safe and we can re-join the world. We must set a pathway out of Covid-19 and let kiwis have a say.

New Zealanders sacrificed last year – the government must be open and transparent about when we will be vaccinated and about their plans.

But health is more than just Covid. 30,000 people are right now sitting on waitlists that they have been on for over four months – numbers not seen since Labour were last in government. Wait times like this will see families lose loved ones. Unnecessarily.

Labour has failed to deliver, National will fix it.

Health Minister Andrew Little has announced that he will spend half-a-billion dollars reorganising the health system. That’s half a billion dollars on administration and restructuring. It will not pay for a single hospital bed nor dose of medication.

Not a cent of that money will go to hard working nurses.

Our DHBs are not perfect, they need to be much more effective, but the way to help people is to treat them, to give them their operations not rearrange the deck chairs.

Labour has its priorities wrong and kiwis deserve better.

When it comes to mental health they are just missing in action. It takes far too long to be seen let alone treated.

Labour announced $1.9 billion in funding and then went home for tea. The mental health system has got worse over the last 4 years as the wait gets longer. Families are in despair. Mike King’s programme is not a Labour Government priority but the Mongrel Mob is.

In Government, mental health will be a key priority for National. New Zealanders will no longer bear this burden alone. We will have the first Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention reporting directly to the Prime Minister.

In health we will again set targets and demand accountability. Our focus will be on outcomes not layers of bureaucracy.
Today we start the debate ‘How do we ensure we have a quality healthcare and mental health service that retains skilled medical professionals and treats Kiwis on time?

Labour doesn’t want to talk about the issues that are important to Kiwis. They don’t want to engage with New Zealanders on the type of country they want. The important things are not being done and Kiwis are being left out. National will hold this debate.

Over the next two years we will engage with experts and the public and you, our members, to develop solutions. We will listen and we will discuss. We will demonstrate we are the Party that can deliver on our promises, and has the ability to deliver solutions for the country’s big problems. Outlining a vision to the New Zealand public. And releasing policy in each of these and other areas as we go.

The National Party is the party of strong families and caring communities. Freedoms and rights. Delivering on promises. Walking the talk.

We are the party New Zealand can trust to run the economy – to lift incomes and keep costs down. We understand it takes risk to start a business – and that the government should work with you not against you to succeed.
We understand farmers and their families. We understand they held our economy together before, during and after COVID and we value them.

We are the party New Zealanders can rely on to get things done. Labour cannot use their majority to do whatever they want. Kiwis don’t want to be left out. They want the debate. The want a say in the future of their country.

National will Demand the Debate. And remember: We are better together. Thank You.

There’s politics and there’s what really matters.

The issues highlighted in need of fixes really matter and they need a government that can make a positive difference, rather than the one that keeps showing it is much better at making plans and announcements than actually doing anything that really helps.


Submit for free speech

05/08/2021

Vague law is bad law and the proposed legislation on hate speech is very, very vague.

Any speech that intends to excite hostility or ill-will against, or bring into contempt or ridicule, any group of persons in New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins, sex, marital status is already illegal and covered under the Human Rights Act.

The Free Speech Union briefing paper on proposed legislation spells out the dangers of extending that :

It is impossible to provide statutory protection for every group in society. The Government hasn’t specified which groups they think should be added to protected lists, saying they want the public to decide on that, yet they have referred to the classes of people protected against workplace discrimination – including sex, marital status, religious belief, ethical belief, race, and political opinion.

Blasphemy has only recently been removed as an offence under the law but the government wants to protect religious belief.

Neither Minister Faafoi nor Prime Minister Ardern would clearly exclude political opinion from protection. If included as a protected group, people could be imprisoned for insulting others’ political beliefs, and so the essence of our democracy and free and frank debate would be undermined.

Are we to be no freer than North Korea to debate politics, disagree with political views and poke the borax at politicians?

While bigoted and resentful opinions are perhaps widely considered indefensible or condemnable, that does not mean they should be made
illegal. Belonging to a particular group within society should not privilege individuals or remove the rights of others to hold opinions, whatever they may be, concerning that group. What does it say of certain groups, when they are given particular legal protection? What does it say of others when they are not? Who gets to decide/ re-decide/re-decide again, as
our country continues to change? Increasing the number of groups specifically protected under hate speech law is a fool’s errand, which will never cover enough groups but always cover too many groups, depending on who you ask.

It is entirely unclear how these laws would be applied in competing cases. For example, would a fundamentalist religious aherent’s expressed views on homosexuality, and the Rainbow Community’s response to that religion be equally “hateful”? Do those sentenced then have to share a cell for up to three years?

The “hate speech” law in the United Kingdom, on which the proposed New Zealand legislation is based, has a special section which explicitly states that “…discussion, criticism, or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents…” is exempt from the law. Troublingly, there is no such provision considered by our lawmakers at present.

The proposed changes seek to move the current law from
the Human Rights Act into the Crimes Act. This may sound like a technicality, but it means that Police and courts will be charged with defining “hate speech” and deciding where the line is.

It will see the courts recognise Parliament’s intention for this law to have a more active role in our country, despite the ambiguities related to how it should be applied.

“Hate speech” legislation has always existed outside of the Crimes Act because of the difficulties in defining hate. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice have been unable to clearly state where the line is. This is an irresponsible way to legislate, and once again reveals the fraught nature of these proposals. For a law to be legitimate, the people it regulates must be able to clearly see what it allows and what it prohibits.

In the past, actions have been illegal. Thought has been considered relevant only to the extent that there is demonstrable, objective evidence to speak to an individual’s intent. However, now sharing your thoughts with others (if they could be interpreted as ‘maintaining or normalising hatred’) could be illegal, absent any action. What you think may become illegal. . . 

The dangerous path down which the proposed legislation would lead police can be seen here:

STREET PREACHING NZ posted a video to the social media platform in July which shows them being approached by a police officer on Karangahape Road.

In the video, the officer tells them “there is a difference between preaching and hate speech and you are very close to crossing the line”.

But the group argued they were only preaching and in fact, the people who had called the police on them had threatened their group.

“These people actually came up and assaulted us,” one member said.

“They have threatened to kill us, they have threatened to beat up these guys and say that we are preaching hate.”

But the police officer responds: “What you guys are saying is very subjective and saying it to people up here could be taken… in a way likely to incite violence, okay?” . . 

Okay?

Without knowing exactly what the people in the group had said we can’t know whether or not it was okay, but the report doesn’t show the officer making any attempt to find out.

If this happens under existing law, it would be much worse under the proposed legislation.

More than 10,000 people have already submitted against the proposed ‘hate speech’ changes:

The Kiwi public has responded loud and clear to the Government’s questions raised in the consultation document on proposed hate speech changes: they don’t want the Government policing their speech, says Jonathan Ayling, Campaign Manager for the Free Speech Union.

More than 10,000 kiwis have submitted to the Ministry of Justice, claiming the ambiguous, unworkable changes amount to an overreach by the Government into our civil liberties. Engagement like this at the consultation phase shows how strongly New Zealander’s feel, and the threat they see to their freedoms in these changes. That us why these changes shouldn’t go forward.

“The website created to facilitate submissions to the Ministry of Justice on this issue, www.FreeSpeechSubmission.com, went live on 17, July, and in a little-over-two-weeks, we have had an overwhelming response from the public endorsingthe submission of the Free Speech Union, and submitting their own views.

“In particular we are encouraged by the huge quantity of feedback from minority communities pointing out that anti-speech laws are far more likely to damage rather than protect social cohesion.”

“Ministers’ inability to to explain what would be criminalised under these proposals reveals the danger they pose to free speech. Vague intention is an irresponsible way to legislate. The Government should listen to the public, and drop these proposed reforms.”

The signatories to this open letter show this is not a left vs right political issue.

It is a matter or right vs wrong ; freedom vs unwarranted restriction, democracy vs dictatorship.

If you haven’t already submitted the link above can help you.

 

 


Unscientific science

06/07/2021

A concerning thread from Michael Reddell:

Perhaps the people who are campaigning to get religious teaching out of school could extend their efforts to this.

Science is defined as: the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena; the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding; a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws.

There is no place for myths in any of those definitions nor should there be a place for myths in the science curriculum.

They might fit in literature, social studies and perhaps in history, but including them in science is anything but scientific.

 


Word of the day

03/07/2021

Textovert – someone who is expressive and funny in texts but shy in person; one who is braver when texting than speaking.


Paula Bennett in her own words

10/06/2021

Matangireia: Māori Political Legacies explores the careers of former Māori Members of Parliament, one of these is Paula Bennett:

 

This extract focuses mostly on the end of her parliamentary career which does her a disservice.

There’s so much more to be learnt from this interview – about politics, about leadership, about life.

One of those is that caring isn’t the preserve of only the left end of the political spectrum.


Rural round-up

31/05/2021

Stringing bells in glasshouses – Hugh Stringleman:

A business that began in a field in Matakana has grown into a global operation with a sophisticated glasshouse enterprise producing seven million capsicums a year. Hugh Stringleman found out how they do it.

Southern Paprika (SPL) of Warkworth is the largest single-site glasshouse grower of capsicums in New Zealand, with nearly one million plants at any one time under 26ha of cover.

Each bell pepper plant produces 40 fruit per season, as the plants grow up strings to 4m in height.

It’s called Southern Paprika because it is in the Southern Hemisphere and paprika is the Northern Hemisphere word for capsicum. . .

Bootcamps and mental health events target Young Farmers:

A new initiative is being funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to help improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

NZ Young Farmers has been allocated $40,000 to organise events in seven regional areas featuring guest speakers, activities, and skill-building sessions.

“It’s important we continue our efforts to give people the skills to look after their wellbeing, manage stress and to recognise and openly talk about mental health,” says MPI’s director of Rural Communities and Farming Support Nick Story.

NZ Young Farmers has a network of 70 clubs, which provide an opportunity for young people to make friends, network, upskill and socialise. . . 

Farming flavour: chocolate and chilies – Country Life:

Feeding the farm crew at docking time, even as a child, was no problem for Johnty Tatham.

Things culinary have been the 24-year-old’s passion for a while.

Now he’s handcrafting chocolate from a cottage on the family farm and his sleekly packaged Lucid Chocolatier products can be found at top-notch Wellington restaurants and artisan chocolate shops.

Johnty and his brother Paddy are back on the Tatham’s sheep and beef farm in coastal Wairarapa forging new paths in the food industry. . .

Study suggests sheep milk farms produce 50pc less nitrogen water pollution :

Sheep milk farms could produce up to 50 percent less nitrogen loss to water compared to regular dairy farms new research shows.

Carried out by AgResearch, the study was done to better understand the environmental impacts of sheep dairy farms.

Although still comparably small to the regular dairy industry, the dairy sheep industry is quickly growing.

There are 17,000 dairy sheep in New Zealand with another 8000 being introduced next season. . .

 

New technology shown to improve pasture growth without harming the environment:

Many of us are just beginning to understand how soils [and soil fertility] truly work. The dominant model, developed 150 years ago by chemists in Germany has been popularised, used very widely and successfully. This model says: “You have a soil that is deficient in nutrients. You are growing a plant that needs the nutrients to achieve full production. Nutrients or fertilisers are applied to correct the imbalance. If you have multiple deficiencies, then you may apply a cocktail of nutrients and fertilisers to address the balance”. Note that in this model the microbiological elements are ignored. More nutrients and chemicals are applied. The soil biology gets hammered. More maintenance nutrients are required – and so the costly circle continues.

The problem with this model is that it is deficient. It misses the critical component of soil microbiology. This has been substantially invisible until recently, when we have had a new tool, DNA to aid study. When you start to look at the interaction of soil microbiology, it has been a largely invisible third party in agriculture. In forestry it has long been known that nutrient deficiencies in plants can be solved by micro biology. Pine trees need mycorrhizal fungi. Without the fungi, the Pine tree doesn’t grow. . .

Packaging-free milk flowing at shared workspace:

An innovative milk processing system developed by Christchurch startup, Happy Cow Milk, is delivering packaging-free Saltworks co-working space.

Happy Cow Milk raised $400k in an equity crowdfund in 2019 to develop its revolutionary “milk factory in a box”. This system allows any farmer to be a fully compliant milk producer and any cafe, workplace or even school to be a retailer.

Founder Glen Herud says the dairy industry needs disruption. “The current system rewards large-scale farming over small, family farms. Happy Cow wants to replace the complicated milk supply chain system to allow farmers to connect and sell milk to their local communities – because we know that sustainable milk is local milk.” . . 

Wairarapa’s Olive Black wins gold at prestigious New York competition:

Award-winning olive oil producer Olive Black is elated New Zealand olive oils are being noticed globally, as the company wins gold at the New York International Olive Competition.

Hot on the heels of winning Best in Show at the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards 2020, for its extra virgin olive oil, Wairarapa olive grower, Olive Black, now also has a gold medal from one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

This year, there was a record 1100 entries from 28 countries in the New York competition and Olive Black manager Mark Bunny says he is absolutely fizzing. . . 


B.J. Thomas 7.8.42 – 29.5.21

30/05/2021

Singer B.J. (Billy Joe) Thomas has died.

Five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, B.J. Thomas, died today at home in Arlington, Texas at the age of 78 from complications due to stage four lung cancer.

Few artists have left a more indelible mark on America’s musical landscape than B.J. Thomas. With his smooth, rich voice and unerring song sense, Thomas’s expansive career crossed multiple genres, including country, pop, and gospel, earning him CMA, Dove, and Grammy awards and nominations since his emergence in the 1960s.

Thomas’ career was anchored by numerous enduring hits, among them his million-selling cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” the Grammy-winning “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” and the iconic “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which won the Academy Award for best original song. A five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, Thomas has sold over 70 million albums worldwide, scoring eight No. 1 hits and 26 Top 10 singles over his 50+ years in the music industry. His lengthy chart history led to him being named one of Billboard’s Top 50 Most Played Artists Over The Past 50 Years. Such memorable hits as “I Just Can’t Help Believing, “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks From An Old Lover” and “Hooked on a Feeling” have made him a staple on multiple radio formats over the years. . . 


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