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.
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.