Rural round-up

May 30, 2020

Southland on the brink – Peter Burke:

Southland is teetering on the edge of a bad situation, according to DairyNZ’s lead consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch.

He says if they can’t get rid of cull cows soon and if the weather doesn’t play its part, current problems will get even worse.

Southland is facing a major feed shortage, but not because of the drought – because of too much rain. The problem is that farmers came out of a pretty hard winter and a very wet spring, which delayed any winter crops being put in the spring, says Finch. . .

Fonterra and Air NZ race emergency protein order to the US for Covid-19 patients – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra teams have scrambled to answer an emergency call from the US for a big supply of a specialised protein product for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

After racing to make the hydrolysate product at its specialist plant which was about to close down for the season, the big dairy company chartered an Air NZ 787 jet to fly the first batch – 24 metric tonnes – direct to Chicago to be used in a medical food formula for intubated Covid-19 patients.

The SoS from a long-time big American customer came as the only Fonterra processing site that makes the special whey protein hydrolysate, the Hautapu factory near Cambridge, was preparing to shut and most of its 220 staff either to take annual leave or start annual maintenance work. . . 

Scientists understand cattle not climate villains, but media still missing message – James Nason,:

FOR a long time emissions from cattle have been lumped in with emissions from other sources as the same destructive forces for the planet in the global climate change narrative.

However, through research overseen by scientists including Dr Frank Mitloehner (right) from the University of California Davis and Dr Myles Allen from Oxford University, scientific consensus is starting to build around the point that livestock-related greenhouse gases are distinctively different from greenhouse gases associated with other sectors of society (more on this below).

Dr Mitloehner, an internationally recognised air quality expert, explained to the Alltech One virtual conference on Friday night (Australian time) that the concept of accounting for methane according to its Global Warming Potential, as opposed to just its volume of CO2 equivalent, which showed that not all greenhouse gases are created equal, has now made it all the way to the International Panel on Climate Change. . . 

Deer sector ready for challenges – Annette Scott:

After several seasons of strong export returns New Zealand’s venison farmers are well positioned to overcome the severe trade disruptions of covid-19, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

But the industry and venison marketers make no attempt to sugar-coat the difficult situation they are dealing with.

Holgate said venison producers have enjoyed a good run benefitting from healthy export sales into both established and new markets. 

“In the last five years we’ve seen significant export growth in the United States, partly due to increased demand for venison in pet food while we’ve also seen strong sales in long-standing European markets such as Germany and Belgium.”   . . 

Wool export contracts shaky – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign wool buyers are threatening to walk away from contracts with New Zealand exporters as they fight to survive the global coronavirus lockdown.

That was just one factor behind a savage 25% slump in crossbred wool prices at the first auction since the local lockdown ended at Napier on Thursday.

Exporter Masurel Fils managing director Peter Whiteman said many foreign buyers were being forced into desperate measures because of shut factories as well as a collapse in demand for the textiles they produced.

“We still sell a lot of wool to Europe and the UK for spinning to make carpets. Those customers are asking us for delays. . . 

NZ olive oil makes win big Kiwis encouraged to buy local:

Kiwis are being encouraged to support local and buy world-beating olive oil made by New Zealand growers, who have won seven Gold Medals at the 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition.

Olive growers from Waiheke to Wairarapa and Kapiti and Nelson to Canterbury won top accolades at the competition, considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world. New Zealand punched above its weight, taking home its best ever results against 26 other countries.

Stephen Davies Howard, Owner of Loopline in the Wairarapa, won two golds, one each for his Picholene and Picual oils. He says if New Zealanders ever needed a reason to buy local, the time is now. . . 


Taxing questions

February 11, 2019

What wasIRD thinking?

The taxman is researching the public’s views on globalisation and fairness in the tax system. Questions had included where respondents sit on the political spectrum, prompting questions of whether taxpayers are funding sensitive political polling. . .

After days of defending the research, Inland Revenue conceded on Saturday night that it was wrong to ask the political question.

“We should not have included the question about political spectrum,” group head of communications and marketing Andrew Stott said, adding that the department would not include the question in its research.

Inland Revenue was forced to reveal details of the $125,000 research project it is undertaking with polling company Colmar Brunton, after repeatedly playing down its significance. . .

A tweeter who was polled said she was also asked how much she trusts Air New Zealand and Fonterra and if large companies are paying their fair share.

IRD has admitted it was wrong to ask about political affiliation. Are questions about trusting two businesses and whether large companies are paying their fair share any better?

What relevance would that have to IRD’s business? Why would views on these matters matter to it?

IRD should be concentrating on policy and advice and leave politics and spin to the politicians.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

October 13, 2018

Grabbing life by the horns:

October 8th- 14th marks Mental Health Awareness Week. Co-op farmer Wayne Langford knows what it’s like to suffer from mental illness. He’s the man behind the YOLO (You Only Live Once) farmer blog. He shares his story about owning up to his illness and how the YOLO project helped him cope with depression.

I was pretty down in the dumps – I referred to it as a rough patch, my wife called it what it really was – depression. We were lying in bed one morning and she said, “well, what are we going to do? Because we can’t go on like this.”

Most people who knew Wayne Langford knew this about him. He was 34, married to his wife Tyler and the father of three boys. He was a 6th generation dairy farmer who owned and ran his Golden Bay farm. He was a proud Fonterra supplier and was the Federated Farmers Dairy Vice Chairman. . .

Farm produce holds up trade deal:

New Zealand trade negotiators are trying to get their European counterparts to recognise Kiwi agricultural exports are small-fry in comparison to the regional bloc’s farming sector.

The second round of free-trade negotiations between NZ and the European Union is under way in Wellington with 31 European officials in the capital to discuss a deal politicians say they’re keen to fast-track. . . 

Kaitiakitanga and technology benefiting farmers, environment:

An innovative approach to monitoring farm effluent runoff is reaping financial rewards for farmers with bonuses for farming excellence.

Miraka, a Taupo-based milk processor with more than 100 suppliers, is offering bonuses to farmers who meet the five criteria set out in its Te Ara Miraka Farming Excellence programme – people, the environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity
. . .

Farmers build rapport amid Mycoplasma bovis heartache – Tracy Neal:

Despite the fact they are not out of the woods yet, cattle farmers are starting to consider life after Mycoplasma bovis.

Finding that pathway will be helped by a special Beyond Bovis seminar in Hamilton later this month – held in conjunction with the Waikato A&P Show.

The government is working to eradicate M bovis and so far more than 43,000 cows have been culled. . .

High country station to host agricultural workshops – Yvonne O’Hara:

There is a shortage of young people wishing to work in the agriculture sectors, and industry consultant John Bates, of Alexandra, is developing a programme to help address the problem.

Lincoln University owns Mt Grand, a 2127ha high country station near Lake Hawea.

Profits from the farm help fund postgraduate and graduate scholarships.

It is also a teaching facility for university students studying environmental and ecological degrees. . . 

 

PGG Wrightson expects FY19 operating earnings to match prior year’s record – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson expects full-year operating earnings to be on par with last year’s record, including earnings from the seed and grain business that it is selling to Danish cooperative DLF Seeds.

The company said it expects its operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to June 30, will be approximately $70 million. In August, it said its operating ebitda was a record $70.2 million in the year ended June. . . 

Virgin beefing up for transtasman battle

Weeks out from its breakup with Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia says it ready to roll out its “full armoury” in what is shaping up as a three-way battle over the Tasman.

The Australian airline is also trying to establish more of a market presence here after being quiet for much of the alliance with Air New Zealand that stretched more than six years but will end on October 28 after the Kiwi carrier opted to quit the partnership.

Virgin has since upped its marketing and following a search for a New Zealand beef supplier the airline today announced Hinterland Foods from Moawhango in the Rangitikei District had won the “Got Beef” campaign and would supply its meat to the airline for in-flight meals. . . 


Rural round-up

July 26, 2018

Virgin Australia hunting for New Zealand’s best meat – Sally Rae:

Virgin Australia has taken a not-so-subtle dig at rival airline Air New Zealand by launching a campaign to find New Zealand’s “finest meat supplier”.

Earlier this month, Air New Zealand announced it would be serving the plant-based Impossible Burger as part of its business premier menu on its Los Angeles to Auckland flight.

That attracted ire from many in the rural sector, who believed the airline should be pushing the country’s premium products. . .

Young Vinnies show farmers their support – Sally Rae:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Gavan Herlihy was “blown away” to receive handmade cards from school pupils to be distributed to farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis.

Members of the Young Vinnies at St John’s School in Ranfurly were to be congratulated for the caring gesture, Mr Herlihy said.

It was a very stressful time for those affected and he expected receipt of the cards – which he was distributing on the pupils’ behalf – would be both treasured and appreciated. . .

Dairy herds may change from black and white to brown and brindle – Keith Woodford:

In coming years, we are likely to see the colour of New Zealand dairy cows change from predominant black and white to a mix containing more brown and brindle.  It will be a response to changes in the relative price of protein and fat.

Black and white Friesian cows produce about 1.2 kg of fat for every kg of protein.  In contrast, the brown Jerseys produce about 1.4 kg of fat for each kg of protein. Jersey milk is also richer with less water.  Jersey milk is about 5.7 percent fat whereas Friesian milk is about 4.5 percent.

For many years, protein has been worth a lot more than fat, but in the last two years that has changed. Milk protein prices are the lowest they have been for many years whereas fat prices are at record highs. This is the reason why butter is now so expensive in our supermarkets. . .

Third world water restrictions may be introduced if Waimea Dam canned – Cherie Sivignon:

Water tankers may be needed on the streets of Brightwater during severe droughts if the Waimea dam project is shelved.

“We’ll be slipping into Third World provisions [in a severe drought],” said Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne. “I think, the community doesn’t realise that’s what we have ahead of us without the dam.”

Kempthorne said he expected to be accused of scaremongering but the rules for tougher rationing in dry spells were in place under the no-dam provisions in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP). The rationing and related restrictions would affect rural and urban water users in the Richmond, Hope, Mapua, Brightwater and Redwood Valley areas including businesses and industry. . .

Govt to appeal landmark negligence finding in Psa case – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – The Crown will appeal last month’s High Court’s decision that the government was negligent in allowing Psa, the virus which devastated the kiwifruit industry, into the country.

Psa infected 80 percent of kiwifruit orchards nationwide and is estimated to have cost the industry up to $1 billion in lost exports. The growers’ group, called Kiwifruit Claim, sought more than $376 million in compensation. The group of 212 growers, led by Strathboss Kiwifruit and Seeka, claimed the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry – which was merged into the Ministry for Primary Industries in 2012 – was negligent under the Biosecurity Act. . .

Horticulture holds reduced levy

Horticulture growers voted to keep the levy at its current rate, at the Horticulture New Zealand Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Christchurch today.

“Last year, we proposed reducing the levy by 0.01% to 0.14% (14c per $100 of sales) and this year, we recommended maintaining that rate,” Horticulture New Zealand Board Chairman Julian Raine says. . .

Young Farmer event wins national award:

An event bringing the country to Wellington has won a national award

A ground-breaking event which brought the country to the nation’s capital has received a sought-after award.

Wellington hosted the Taranaki/Manawatū Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

The contest was organised by Wellington Young Farmers and has been named the country’s best regional final in 2018. . .


Give wool front seat AirNZ

July 7, 2018

Air NZ should be publicizing wool not fake meat:

Federated Farmers is puzzled why our national carrier is making a song and dance about an overseas-produced plant protein burger but not the Kiwi company that supplies them with world-leading transportation fabrics.

“Air New Zealand has been offering vegetarian options on their in-flight menus for a long time. The Impossible Burger available on Business Premier flights between Los Angeles and Auckland for a few months is just another option,” Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson says.

“Other dishes feature New Zealand-made produce and farmers are confident passengers will always make a place on their plate, and in their heart, for our natural tasting, grass-fed beef and lamb.  People come back to their tried and true favourites.”

Air New Zealand prides itself on being innovative, and like to partner with like-minded enterprises.

“Farmers understand that – we do it ourselves.  But why would our national carrier build an advertising campaign around a foreign product and not a cutting edge Kiwi firm supplying a key component made from a natural, sustainable New Zealand product?”

Inter-weave Ltd is a New Zealand owned and operated bespoke wool upholstery and home wares manufacturer. They combine leading design and technology with luxurious naturally-grown, New Zealand wool fibres to produce high quality, clean, anti-static, ethical textiles sold around the world.

The transportation fabrics Inter-weave supplies to Air New Zealand meet the highest flame retardant criteria. They are accredited with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and have Enviromark NZ diamond accreditation, the highest achievable in this programme.

“Typical of products made from wool, the fabrics are beautiful, have excellent durability and will perform exceedingly well under constant wear. Wool fibres have elasticity that allow them to recover to their original shape even after being stretched over 30%.”

It’s a great advertisement for New Zealand natural products, our farmers and an industry that is the lifeblood of rural communities, delivering a livelihood for thousands of Kiwi families.

“Seated in nature, and a Kiwi product flying high.  Sounds like a great basis for one of those cheeky and fun Air New Zealand advertising campaigns to me,” Miles says.

I sometimes choose vegetarian options and I’m open to genetic modification so I don’t have a problem with the airline offering fake meat.

But MIles has got it right, our national airline would have been better publicising our cutting-edge wool rather than the USA’s fake meat.

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Fight back against fake meat

July 4, 2018

Air New Zealand is serving the impossible burger:

Air New Zealand is giving customers a taste of the future with a new inflight collaboration with Silicon Valley food tech start-up Impossible Foods.

The airline is the first in the world to serve the award-winning, plant-based Impossible Burger which is now available as part of its Business Premier menu on flights from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Impossible Burger’s magic ingredient is an iron-containing molecule called heme which comes from the roots of soy plants. The heme in the Impossible Burger is the same as the heme found in animal meat. The result is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever. . . 

Air New Zealand will serve the Impossible Burger on flights NZ1 and NZ5 from Los Angeles to Auckland through until late October.

Many farmers and some MPs aren’t impressed that the national airline is serving fake meat.

Shouldn’t it be showcasing New Zealand’s fine, free range real meat?

The fake meat burgers will only be served on flights from the USA when the airline is less likely to be using New Zealand produce and only for three months.

But alternative proteins are one of the challenges facing traditional primary producers.

Fake meat is being sold as healthier and better for the environment, but is it?

Joanna Blythman thinks not and says: Fake meat: Impossibly hard to swallow :

The Impossible Burger is arguably the perfect veggie analog to the ubiquitous beef burger and it is making a big splash as the veggie burger that ‘bleeds’. Joanna Blythman, a renowned investigator of the unpronounceable ingredients in processed food, has a look at the newest fake meat arrival.

The ‘Impossible Burger’ is being marketed in the US as the revolutionary product that will make meat redundant. Its ingredients are as follows: water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavors, leghemoglobin (soy), yeast extract, salt, soy protein isolate, konjac gum, xanthan gum, vitamins and zinc.

Now even for me, a seasoned investigator of obscure techno-ingredients, this list requires annotation. Let’s start with its first ingredient by weight: water. Suffice it to say that no quality product uses it as a bulk ingredient. Textured wheat protein, potato protein and soya protein isolate are all powdery derivatives, extracted from their eponymous food using hi-tech chemical and physical methods that are veiled in commercial secrecy. Coconut oil has a trendy ‘superfood’ ring to it, except that here it isn’t raw, so the inherent nutrition of the nut has been heavily compromised by the harsh industrial refining process to which it has been subjected. Konjac and xanthan are industrial hydrocolloid gums. (The latter was designed to thicken the drilling mud in the oil industry.) Their role here is to absorb all that water and glue together ingredients that wouldn’t naturally bond. . . 

She goes on to dissect the flavourings which don’t sound very appetising either.

And what of the most arcane ingredient in this faux meat? Soy leghemoglobin (SLH) is a vat-grown, genetically engineered form of the heme iron found in the root nodules of soybean plants. We’re told that it gives the fake meat a ‘bloody’, meat-like taste and colour. It has emerged that the US Food and Drug Administration’s view is that “the current arguments at hand, individually and collectively, were not enough to establish the safety of SLH for consumption”. . .

I am open to the use of genetic modification but I suspect many of those lauding fake meat as better than the real thing aren’t.

So that’s the Impossible Burger: water, protein powders, glues, factory flavourings, flavour enhancers, synthetic vitamins – all signifiers of low-grade, ultra-processed food – and a novel ingredient that has no proven track record of safety.

Reading this list of ingredients, it’s not the sort of product that I, and many other food-aware citizens, would buy. It’s the very antithesis of local food with a transparent provenance and backstory. I’d have absolutely no chance of tracing the origins or uncovering any substantive detail on the assiduously guarded production methods behind its utterly anonymous components.

And although the sales pitch for the Impossible burger is that it’s ‘made from simple, all-natural ingredients’, it’s patently the brainchild of a technocratic mindset, one brought to us by food engineers and scientists whose natural environment is the laboratory and the factory – not the kitchen, farm or field – and people who believe that everything nature can do, man can do so much better, and more profitably. . .

I’m also awed by nature’s complex systems that gift us humans the privilege of nutritionally perfect, health-giving natural foods, be they eggs, milk, meat, cereals, or fruit and vegetables. Cutting-edge food engineers who create ‘plant meat’ are undeniably clever, but they do not have nature’s sure nutritional judgment, good taste, and wise, all-seeing intelligence, or fully understand how her elaborate natural systems work.

It’s a great pity that the vegan versus omnivore debate has become so heated and binary. The equation that plant food is good and animal food is bad, is simplistic at best. Those who rush to embrace the ‘plant meat’ revolution as our environmental and ethical salvation, fail to interrogate the product in any deeper way, and that’s a significant blind spot in evaluating its ultimate sustainability and moral rightness.

Like it or not, there’s a market for fake meat and as Landcare Trust Nelson-Marlborough coordinator  Annette Litherland says, farmers must find ‘sweet spot’ of economic, environmental sustainability if we’re going to compete with it.


Minister shouldn’t mind business’s business

March 21, 2018

Air New Zealand chair Tony Carter has written to Minister of Finance Grant Robertson to reinforce the airline’s independence:

Mr Carter noted that the Crown’s shareholding in the publicly listed airline gives it equal rights to all other ordinary shareholders.

Mr Carter drew attention to recent examples where the Regional Economic Development Minister has publicly criticised Air New Zealand in relation to operational decisions regarding regional air services, while at the same time making reference to the Crown’s 51% shareholding.

“Any appearance of a lack of commercial independence is viewed seriously by the Air New Zealand Board and is ultimately potentially damaging to the interests of all shareholders, including the Crown.”

He was responding to criticism from Shane Jones over the ending of flights to and from Kapati:

Jones is encouraging mayoral leaders to approach the government with “solutions” and he wants to see a policy that ensures flight connectivity in the regions continues.

“The immediate solution lies with (Air NZ). They’ve taken a strategy to increase profit by downgrading provinces and you can’t tell me that they haven’t done that.”

He said former prime minister Sir John Key was on the Air NZ board and was in a position to “change the strategy and priorities”.

Air NZ should “put their money where their mouth is” when it comes to supporting provincial providers, Jones said.

“My whole phone has been clogged by our fellow Kiwis ringing with tales of woe from the provinces. I mean the sad thing is whilst they’re a brand promoting New Zealand to the rest of the world, in respect of servicing…it’s not good enough.”

Jones said regional NZ got better treatment from second-hand car dealers than Air NZ. . . 

National MP Nathan Guy who represents the Otaki electorate which includes the Kapati Coast, has launched a petition urging the airline to keep the flights.

As National’s regional economic development spokesman Paul Goldsmith says, that’s what local MPs do:

Obviously you’d expect the local member to be advocating vigorously for his local community. I’m just saying that every commercial industry needs to operate on commercial lines,” Goldsmith said.

“It’s up to Air NZ to deal with their arrangements. Parts of regional New Zealand should be well served by Air NZ and they have to work through whether particular regions stack up.

“I would hope, particularly in Kapiti, they’d think very carefully before they cut down in that area.”

A local MP in opposition has a lot more freedom than a Minister and Jones could do well to follow his opposition counterpart’s example in choosing his words carefully.

Majority public ownership doesn’t give the government the right to tell a company what to do.

Ministers must be very careful not to mind business’s business.

I have sympathy for Kapati people who are losing flights but Air NZ’s departure could open the door to a smaller airline which could provide a similar service.


KiwiDaze

May 3, 2016

A new video documenting 25 year old Kiwi plumber Logan Dodds’ ultimate New Zealand OE is set to inspire young New Zealanders to get out and explore their backyard.

Air New Zealand has supported Logan Dodds and his friend Trent Nattrass to experience all New Zealand has to offer – the end result KiwiDaze – an epic four minute video showcasing their adventures and jaw dropping scenery throughout the country over six weeks of summer. . .


Tortoise and hare

February 10, 2015


Where there’s a gap . . .

November 18, 2014

Last week news of Air New Zealand’s decision to pull out of some smaller domestic routes was met with the usual emotional response.

But already Sounds Air is looking at  flying some routes Air New Zealand will ditch and Tauranga-based Sunair Aviation is investigating starting flights to Kaitaia and Whakatane.

These airlines are only at the investigation stage but it shows where one business leaves a gap in the market, there can be an opportunity for another to fill it.


Air NZ: fewer flights, more seats

November 12, 2014

Air New Zealand has announced changes to its provincial routes.

It is stopping services to three smaller airports but introducing bigger planes with more seats to others:

Christopher Luxon chief executive of Air New Zealand has told customers the national carrier will stop service on seven of its domestic routes because of the cost of maintaining the regional fleet, while flagging a $300 million investment in new aircraft.

The airline will no longer operate out of the Kaitaia, Whakatane or Westport airports, as the cost of maintaining its 19-seat aircraft fleet has cost more than $1 million a month over the past two years, the Auckland-based airline told its airpoints customers in an email. Still, it had plans to boost capacity to other regional airports buying 13 aircraft for $300 million.

The abandoned routes between Auckland to Kaitaia and Whakatane, Wellington to Whangarei, Taupo and Westport, and the Palmerston North to Nelson service will end in April next year, while the Auckland to Hamilton service ending in February 2016.

“We’ve been carrying these losses while working with many regional stakeholders to improve the viability of these services, but despite best efforts, some routes are simply not sustainable,” Luxon said in the email. “In addition route withrawals we will be progressively winding down our 19-seat fleet and moving the remaining destinations to larger 50-seat aircraft requiring an investment of $300 million in 13 new and more efficient regional aircraft.” . . .

This has understandably drawn protests from the towns affected but how bad will it be?

Westport will be hardest hit with a drive of a couple of hours to the nearest airport – Hokitika.

The other two have airports within an hour or so and many people will already have trips of that long to their nearest airport, including many Aucklanders.

Oamaru, our nearest town,  had a daily air service until the 1980s. The District Council got them reinstated with a flight to Christchurch early in the morning and a return flight early evening. this allowed people to connect with other flights further north, do what they needed to do and be home on the same day.

We used the service a few times but then the timetable changed so it was no longer possible to go and come on the same day. Patronage dropped and the flights were canned.

Someone else tried flights again last year but they were expensive and not enough people used them.

Our nearest airport with routine flights  is Timaru, about an hour and a half away, Dunedin is a couple of hours south, Queenstown is about three hours inland and it takes about three and a half hours to get to Christchurch.

We usually choose that longer drive to Christchurch because there are more options and the flights are generally cheaper.

It would be convenient to have a viable option closer, but what would it cost and who would pay.

The choices are the people who use the services, subsidies by passengers on other routes or the company and its shareholders.

Air New Zealand has been criticised for cutting the flights when it made a $262 million profit last year.

But how many new planes or improvements in technology would that buy?

We need only look across the Tasman to see Qantas struggling.

Air New Zealand routinely does well in airline awards and it is profitable.

It wouldn’t have made the decision to cull uneconomic routes lightly and I understand why people who will lose their service aren’t happy.

But no handy airport is the price we pay for living where we do.

We shouldn’t expect other passengers, the company or shareholders to subsidise our choice but we should be open to the opportunity cuts by Air New Zealand could provide for other airlines.


Air NZ’s Hobbit epic

October 23, 2014

Air New Zealand has another safety video which is likely to keep the attention of passengers:

I suspect I’m in a small minority of New Zealanders who haven’t seen any of the Hobbit movies, but that doesn’t stop me preferring these safety videos to the more pedestrian ones most airlines use.


Rural round-up

May 21, 2014

Finding alternatives to dairy – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand dairy production has increased by 80% since Year 2000. This has come almost equally from both more dairy hectares and more production per hectare. However, the limits to pastoral dairying in New Zealand have largely been reached. Where do we go from here?

First, there is a need to recognise the two reasons why pastoral dairying has largely reached its limits.

The most important reason is that society is no longer willing to accept the effects of cow urine leaching from pastures into waterways and aquifers. Huge progress has been made in fencing off livestock from waterways, and in tree planting alongside the streams, but that does not solve the problem of the urine patch. This 2013/14 year is therefore the last year of large-scale conversion of sheep and beef farms to pastoral dairying. New environmental regulations have effectively closed that door. . . .

Nominations & entries open for South Island Farmer of the Year:

Nominations and entries are open for the 2014 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition, and organisers are hoping for another record year.

“Last year we had entries from throughout the South Island, the quality of which were such that we were obliged to select six finalists instead of the usual four,” says Lincoln University Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter. “This, plus the very successful winner’s field day at Yealands Wine Estate, generated a lot of interest.

Todhunter says that one of the attractions of the competition is that size really doesn’t matter and is not one of the criteria for judging.

“We’re looking for leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, which can be found equally in a small family-owned farm business as they can within a large commercial agricultural entity. . . .

Central South too wet to drill:

CROPPING FARMERS in Canterbury and North Otago face a soggy battle to get winter cereals sown after another belt of rain swept the region this week.

Paddocks had only just become passable after an unusually wet April and now some fear they will not get back on again until spring. Where crops have been sown agronomists say slugs are having a field day.

“Slug pellet use has gone through the roof,” Mid Canterbury agronomist Roger Lasham told Rural News.
“Where people have gone on with pellets before any damage has been done it’s not too bad but if they’re late they’ll never get those plants back.”  . . .

Fresh look for Fieldays partnership:

A mutual interest in contributing to – and growing – New Zealand’s agricultural sector is behind an enduring strategic partnership between two iconic regional organisations.

The University of Waikato is into its eighth year as a strategic partner of the National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek and Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says it is an important partnership for both organisations.

“The University has a shared interest with Fieldays in the agricultural sector, from our research which we will be showcasing on our stand, to our students who undertake internships with many agricultural organisations and our graduates who are employed in the agricultural sector,” he says.

The University and the New Zealand National Fieldays Society signed their latest strategic partnership in March and Fieldays Chief Executive Jon Calder says the relationship has developed well over the years “to the point where we now have a true partnership”. . .

Deal to develop wine tourism:

New Zealand Winegrowers and Air New Zealand have signed a deal which will see them jointly promote the country as a destination for wine tourists.

They believe that more than a million visitors have toured the country’s vineyards and wineries over the last five years and the sector has tremendous opportunity for future growth.

Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the North American and Asian markets will be targetted in the promotion. . .

Giesen single vineyard first release wins international recognition:

Giesen Wines has won international plaudits with its first release of premium single vineyard wines from Marlborough.

Three different single vineyard selections have won gold at two prestigious UK competitions. The Brookby Rd Pinor Noir 2012 and Clayvin Pinot Noir 2012 were awarded gold in the coveted Decanter competition while Giesen The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay 2012 captured gold at the International Wine Challenge (IWC).

Theo Giesen, of Giesen Wines, says this is the first time its wines have been awarded gold at either of the UK competitions. . . .


Just another day in Middle-earth #airnzhobbit

November 21, 2013

The Lord of the Rings  and Hobbit films are gifts which keep on giving for New Zealand tourism.

They also provide inspiration for Air New Zealand’s advertising:


Air NZ service with smile

August 16, 2013

Labour list MP Andrew Little scored a SMOG – social media own goal – yesterday when he tweeted a complaint about service from Air New Zealand.

He did have the grace to later  admit he was wrong to send it and apologise.

Yesterday two colleagues and I were in a similar situation to Little.

We arrived at the airport at 4:15 for flights at 5:30 and 6:30.

We asked if we could change them for anything earlier and all three of us were given seats on a 5pm flight by a courteous, helpful and smiling Air New Zealand staff member.

That, in my experience, is how they always are.


Air NZ, Fonterra NZ’s most reputable organisations

September 5, 2012

Air New Zealand and Fonterra are the country’s top two Most reputable Organisations in the Hay Group/NZ Management magazine survey.

These and third placed Becca have been in the top three rankings for the last three years.

Companies were judged on corporate social responsibility, financial performance, implementation of strategic objectives, innovation, operational model, organisational structure, quality of product or service, senior leadership, stakeholder relationships and vision for the future.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said the company’s good name must be worn into the very fabric of the organisation.

The value of the supplier owned co-operative model is evident in his message to staff and stakeholders:

. . . Fonterra must be a star performer in the world with a very strong connect to its grass roots.

He is also mindful that the reputations of  Fonterra and New Zealand are inextricably linked, Fonterra carries with it the stamp, or brand, of New Zealand he says “and we have to protect that country brand off-shore”. . .

Fonterra is an example of the prophet not appreciated in its own country. Its reputation overseas is far higher than the public perception of it here.

That it has been recognised as one of the country’s most reputable organisations for three years in a row shows that the less than enthusiastic domestic view of Fonterra isn’t well-founded.

But the company has work to do to ensure that the negative perception here catches up with the positive reality at home and abroad.

The story is accessible by subscription only. You can subscribe here.


Chocolate’s always a winner

July 23, 2012

We’ve been coming and going a lot this month and enjoying the wee Whittaker’s chocolate bar Air New Zealand offers passengers as a snack.

The choice is usually vege crisps, and Anzac biscuit or the chocolate and from my observations chocolate is by far the most popular choice.

That’s no doubt good for the company and Whittaker’s has another reason to celebrate – it’s been named Readers Digest’s most trusted brand.

Hello Chocolate Lovers. We are proud to announce that we have been voted by Reader's Digest as New Zealand’s Most Trusted Brand for 2012. Thanks for all your support and we hope you continue to enjoy our delicious chocolate :)

Porirua based chocolate maker Whittaker’s has been voted New Zealand’s most trusted brand in the annual Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Survey; released today in the August issue of Reader’s Digest New Zealand.

Whittaker’s moved up three places to top the 2012 list, knocking last year’s number one, St John’s, to number two. Iconic cooking and baking goods brand Edmonds made an impressive debut at number three, while Dettol fell from two to eight. . .

The top 10 for most trusted brands (with last year’s place in brackets) were:

1) Whittaker’s (3)
2) St John (1)
3) Edmonds (n/a)
4) Wattie’s (4)
5) Sanitarium (8)
6) Tip Top (bread) (5)
7) Lemon & Paeroa (L&P) (10)
8) Dettol (2)
9) Toyota (9)
10) Colgate (7)

Category winners were:

Category Winner Highly Commended
NZ Iconic Brands Watties Whittakers
Banks KiwiBank ASB
Breakfast Food Sanitarium Kellogg’s
Car Brands Toyota Ford
Cleaning Products Dettol Jif
Confectionery Whittaker’s Nestle
DIY Power Tools Stihl Black & Decker
Dry Foods Sanitarium Tip Top
Electronics Sony Panasonic
Fast Food Subway McDonalds
Frozen Food Watties Bird’s Eye
Gardening Equipment Masport Stihl
Home Improvement Stores Mitre 10 Bunnings
Hotel/Motel Accommodation Copthorne Millennium
Insurance Providers AA Insurance Southern Cross
Kitchen Appliances Breville Kenwood
Packaged Foods Watties Sanitarium
Pain Relief Panadol Nurofen
Paint Brands Resene Dulux
Pet Food Brands Whiskas Purina One
Retail Brands Farmers NZ Post
Supermarket Brands Countdown PaknSave
Toiletries& Cosmetics Colgate Dove
Vitamins & Supplements Healtheries Blackmores
Whitegoods Fisher & Paykel Samsung

Alert readers will note that although these have been judged New Zealand’s most trusted brands it means brands trusted by New Zealanders rather than New Zealand brands. Only some are local companies.


Grabaseat Straightup fares

April 1, 2012

Air New Zealand’s Grabaseat has introduced straight up fares for passengers who can ‘stand it’.

Cheap airfare website grabaseat lowered ticket prices even further today with the launch of ‘straight up fares’ – standing-room-only tickets on planes which are already full.

Effective immediately, aircraft on selected grabaseat domestic routes will be fitted with hand-straps attached from the ceiling, in a style instantly familiar to anyone who’s travelled to work on a bus. Unlike buses, passengers will not be able to request stops.

Thanks to the design innovation, capacity on a 737-300 will be increased from 133 passengers to 202 passengers. The additional 69 passengers will pay a substantially discounted ticket price, as consideration for the reduced inflight comfort, and the involuntary stranger-touching during turbulence.

grabaseat manager Duane Perrott says the idea for these new fares came from customer feedback:

“People always say to me ‘Duane, we love buses, but we hate how they can’t travel a thousand kilometres an hour, or traverse large bodies of water’.Well thanks to our new ‘straight up fares’, our customers can now have the best of both worlds – the speed and distance of air travel, plus the snug affordability of standing up on a bus.”

Perrott says grabaseat also has an option for older passengers who may not be tall or flexible enough to enjoy the new fares.

“We’ve modified a couple of Jolly Jumpers and hung them in the gap between the aft toilets”, he says proudly. “We wanted to offer our elderly customers a solution with dignity, and I’m proud to say we’ve achieved that.”

Full pricing details and availability can be viewed at http://www.grabaseat.co.nz.

See more here.


Air NZ looking east?

January 21, 2012

Asia is the flavour of the moment as New Zealand moves from traditional markets and destinations for trade and tourism.

It’s called the east but that’s from a European perspective, Asia is really to our west unless you go the long way round the world.

The nearest major land block to our east is South America and there are also opportunities for business and holidays there too.

Fonterra is already involved in dairy farming in Chile.

PGG Wrightson’s investment in Uruguay wasn’t successful but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still opportunities there and in other parts of South America.

One of the obstacles is the shortage of flights and I hope speculation that Air New Zealand is exploring markets in South America is true.

It would add a much-needed additional option for would-be travellers.

Only Lan Chile and Aerolineas Argentina fly direct between Auckland and South America – to and from Santiago and Buenos Aires respectively.

You have to fly to Sydney to go with Qantas. Emirates has recently entered the South American market but you not only have to take the long way via Dubai you have to stay there for at least a night.

The only options with Star Alliance partners are with indirect and much longer routes via the United States or Europe.

The World Cup brought more tourists here from Argentina. Now that the tri-nations competition has been expanded to include the Pumas in what will be the Rugby Championship,  there will be more interest from people wanting to come here and go there. That will lead to an increase in interest in Argentina and further afield in South America with the potential for more tourism and trade opportunities.

We’ve been to Argentina five times. It’s an amazing country and in spite of the cultural and language differences we’ve found the people are like us in many ways.

Visiting there would be even better if we could fly with Air New Zealand.


graba opportunity

November 7, 2009

Air New Zealand has grabbed the opportunity to have a bit of fun with its grabaseat advertising:

Apropos of Harawira’s behaviour, goNZo Freakpower has come across a school report.

UPDATE: Cactus Kate sees another angle.


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