Mooving from Gypsy Day

May 29, 2017

The milking season goes from June 1st to May 31st and the change of season means a change of farm for hundreds of dairy owners, sharemilkers, managers and staff.

The changes result in big and small movements for people and stock on what has been know as Gypsy Day.

But the Otago Regional Council now deems that term too offensive:

On Wednesday, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) issued a statement under the heading “Gypsy Day preparations bring reminder to reduce effluent spillage”.

That prompted a rebuke from Dunedin City councillor, Aaron Hawkins, who said “I think it’s remarkable that in 2017 something called ‘Gypsy Day’ could still exist”.

“The word ‘gypsy’ is commonly used as a slur against Roma people, but even putting that aside, drawing a comparison between herds of cattle and any ethnic grouping I would have thought was pretty offensive.

“Even if it is entrenched in common usage, I’d like to think that a body like the ORC would show some leadership by using more inclusive language.”

Asked for a response, ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker told Stuff  “The term ‘Gypsy Day’ might be still in common use within the farming community as a short-hand term for the mass movement of stock, but it has undertones that aren’t in tune with New Zealand society today”.

“ORC won’t be using the term in the future.” . . .

The Oxford dictionary  defines Gypsy as travelling people traditionally living by itinerant trade and fortune telling but it adds that it is also applied informally to a nomadic or free-spirited person.

Language evolves and terms which were once offensive become acceptable, others which weren’t acceptable become offensive.

Gypsy Day hasn’t been used derogatively, it was just coined to describe the annual movement of people and stock.

However, DairyNZ now uses Mooving Day.

Company senior communications and engagement manager Lee Cowan said an informal move to change the name happened several years ago “as we felt it better reflected what actually happened on 1 June”.

“The origin of the term probably goes back to the days when the majority of farmers and sharemilkers walked their cows to the new farm rather than trucking them as they do now.

“This meant there were a lot of farmers and cows walking along the road on changeover day which got colloquially known as Gypsy Day,” Cowan said.

“In terms of the use of the term Gypsy Day; some farmers still use the term informally as this is the term they would have grown up with, but positively we are seeing greater uptake of the term ‘Mooving Day’, he said. . . 

The antipathy to Gypsy Day could be described as political correctness or it could be accepted that language mooves with the times.


Bad and good

January 9, 2014

Yesterday’s ODT led with the bad news of job losses at Macraes mine.

That’s followed up by today’s story of more job losses in firms which service and supply the mine.

Yesterday’s paper also had the good news story of Shell’s decision to drill in the Great South Basin.

This is how life goes. Good things happen during bad times and bad things happen during better times.

But the outlook for those people who have lost jobs or business because of Oceana Gold’s slow-down at Macraes is better now the economy is improving than it would have been even a year ago.

It would be better still if Dunedin was showing a warmer welcome to Shell.

The city is vying with Invercargill to be Shell’s base and mayor Dave Cull is at best lukewarm:

. . . Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull – who remained personally opposed to the increasingly difficult search for fossil fuels – said he was nevertheless ”cautiously optimistic” the city could benefit from Shell’s plans.

He was encouraged the company was prepared to invest up to $200 million in its search for natural gas, and not oil, off the city’s coast.

However, with the test drill not scheduled until 2016, and any full-scale extraction – if it eventuated – a decade away, he cautioned against too much excitment, too soon.

”What comes out of it, in terms of job creation and business and economic development, will depend on the size of what they find.

”If they are going to be drilling, this is pretty good, and clearly Dunedin is very well placed to offer the services and facilities that they might need,” he said. . .

Two councillors are even less enthusiastic:

. . . including Cr Aaron Hawkins, who said the council had a ”moral obligation” to protect the interests of future generations.

”I don’t think it’s fair to clamour over a few jobs now and leave our grandchildren to pick up the tab environmentally and economically.

”Frankly, I think that’s a very selfish way of looking at economic development.”

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the city would not spend money to try to attract the ”unethical” tobacco industry, and should avoid the oil and gas industry for the same reasons.

”It’s an unethical business and I wouldn’t like to see Dunedin setting out to attract it.” . . .

Contrast this with the reaction from Invercargill.

Yesterday’s Southland Times devoted its whole front page to telling the story – consortium backs $200m basin well –  and followed up with enthusiastic welcome for drill plan.

Today’s story is headlined drilling holds promise of job bonanza.

Shell will make its decision on where it’s based on a variety of factors, one of which will be the attitude of the city.

In good times and bad, you have to do what you can to help yourself.

Invercargill is doing that, Dunedin must do better.


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