Rural round-up

April 17, 2019

Thriving in a demanding environment :

Andrew and Lynnore Templeton, who own and operate The Rocks Station, near Middlemarch, won the regional supreme title at the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Dunedin.

The awards are run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and the supreme regional winners from each of the 11 districts will be profiled at the awards’ National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on June 6.

The Templetons also won the Massey University Innovation Award, which recognises the farmer or grower that demonstrated Kiwi ingenuity for solving a problem or pursuing a new opportunity. . . 

Mid-Canterbury dominates M. bovis cases – Heather Chalmers:

Mid-Canterbury has taken the biggest hit from cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, with the district accounting for 41 per cent of all cases. 

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) figures show that 67 of 161 properties confirmed positive with the disease were in the region.

Of these, 23 properties remain contaminated and 44 have been cleared. 

The ministry’s M. bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn told farmers in Ashburton that the region was “carrying a disproportionate share of the burden” in its efforts to eradicate the disease.  . . 

 

Court orders Chinese owner of Wairarapa farm to settle access row before he sells – Andrea Vance:

The Chinese owner of a Wairarapa sheep station wants to sell it to a Kiwi buyer – but that won’t stop an extraordinary dispute over public access, which has now reached the courts.

For more than two years, officials and the Chinese owner of the sprawling $3.3 million Kawakawa Station, at Cape Palliser, have been deadlocked over access to a forest hut and tramping route.

Mediation to resolve the dispute failed late last year and triggered legal action.

Hong-Kong based Eric Chun Yu Wong has decided to sell the station back to an un-named Kiwi buyer. . . 

Kaumatua urges community restraint in Kawakawa dispute:

Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa kaumatua, Sir Kim Workman, has asked the Wairarapa community to withhold its judgement around the Kawakawa Station dispute, following yesterday’s Stuff article by Andrea Vance, ‘Court orders Chinese owner of Wairarapa farm to settle access row before he sells

‘In June 2018, the Walkways Access Commission publicised this issue while the dispute negotiation was still in progress. The impact of WAC’s conduct on Mr Wong and his family was incendiary. Xenophobia emerged in full flight. Mr Wong became a foreign demon who was interfering with the rights of good old Kiwis. It adversely affected their walking tour business, and the then managers were openly referred to as ‘chink-lovers’. They resigned, and the backlash contributed to Mr Wong’s decision to sell the farm.’

This latest publicity has the potential to unleash yet another round of racism and hatred. When that happens, it disrupts the peace of our community, and sets neighbour against neighbour. We must avoid that at all costs. . . 

Demand for cage-free eggs contributes to national egg shortage – Karoline Tuckey:

While a national egg shortage could mean higher prices, it’s unlikely the hot breakfast staple will disappear from supermarket shelves.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said supply problems were causing the shortages nationally.

The number of laying hens nationally has dropped from 4.2 million at the end of last year, to 3.6 million.

“We’re just going to see a lesser amount of eggs, and that will probably translate to some extent to price increases, just because of a shortage of supply,” said Michael Brooks. . . 

People’s role recognised in sustainable journeys:

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards have long been a respected, exciting highlight in the rural calendar, with each year’s award winners doing much to showcase the best this country has to offer in farming talent that recognises and respects the environment they depend upon.

This year the awards have a welcome addition with national realtor Bayleys sponsoring a “People in the Primary Sector” award.

Bayleys national country manager Duncan Ross said the company’s move to sponsor the people category in the awards is a timely one, given the focus within the agri-sector on recruiting, keeping and advancing young talent. . . 

Garlic production property for sale:

The land and buildings housing a trio of commercial businesses – including the processing and distribution plant of New Zealand’s largest garlic grower – have been placed on the market for sale.

The site at Grovetown near Blenheim in Marlborough consists of 1.4350 hectares of freehold triangular-shaped rural zoned land at 377 Vickerman Street.

The site is occupied by three tenancies – Marlborough Garlic Ltd, Kiwi Seed Co (Marlborough) Ltd and Ironside Engineering Ltd. Combined, the three businesses generate an annual rental return of $138,347 +GST. . . 


Property rights and owner responsibility

August 1, 2018

Initial reports about the access disputes through Lake Hawea Station  suggested that the owners and managers were being unreasonable.

Andrea Vance provides another perspective:

. . .In the distance, a figure emerges from the barn. It’s Taff Cochrane: he and his wife Pene worked the station for more than 40 years, before selling the pastoral lease to Lauer for a reported $13m in 2017. Their son Digby, and his wife Hannah, now run the farm.

“We were wondering if we were allowed to go along the track?”

“You can, you just have to be awfully careful,” Cochrane says. He returns immediately with a key to the gate.

The Cochranes run a log book. We fill in a form requesting our names, addresses, phone numbers – and the same details for a point of contact. 

Trampers and the family have been at odds over public access to the private road for years. Cochrane is weary of “the romantic argument out there.”

“We have only had one life lost in this valley in 45 years – that was a river crossing, a vehicle rolled while in the water and after that we started putting a lot of control on the road,” he explains.

He’s talking about Charlie Hunt, who drowned in 1997. He’d worked in the valley for 35 years and was trying to get to an autumn muster, when his truck was swept down a creek in full flood.

“Take a wee bit of understanding of why we have done what we have done over many years,” Cochrane says.

Legally, the safety of tourists and visitors is not his problem, but coming to the aid of stricken trampers and jet boaters is just human decency. However, rescue here is not easy: to get into the valley is a good five to six hour drive, and the family often do it alone, by truck, tractor or sometimes boat.

“We drag them out, that’s the problem. When something goes wrong, we have to go and get them. Rescue is not easy here, there is no cellphone coverage, no communications.

“It’s a responsibility. [The hiking groups say] we don’t have to – that’s what they are trying to argue. But it is a moral responsibility.”

Whn life is at risk and outside help could be hours away, how could a property owner say no?

They could be risking their own safety to do so and even if they aren’t, it would be costing them in time and money, but they still wouldn’t refuse to help.

Before we set off, Cochrane points out our road tyres aren’t suitable for the rough terrain. The road is set on the glacier valley floor. The lake often brims over – and the water left behind blisters frozen overnight.

“When it freezes it is bloody dangerous. At this time of year we don’t even go up there ourselves, we ride out July at least. 

“We get frights – we have been known to float down a river a few times. You learn the hard way.”

In the end, we don’t get very far. Once through the padlocked gate, we pass some cattle yards and immediately plunge down a steep bank into a torrent. The engine guns us through the freezing depths, but the track disappears into a rough, rocky creek bed.

The 4WD lurches and bumps along. Minutes later we reach a river – it surges into a fork – and the only obvious route seems to be straight into the lake. We give up and return to the farm-yard. 

Digby Cochrane offers to take us further up the track, the following day, in his own vehicle: a 2002 Landrover Defender. Most importantly, unlike our rental 4WD, it’s fitted with off-road tyres and a snorkel.

The river that stood in our way was actually Terrace Creek – which “blew out” a week or so ago, Cochrane explains. For a short time, the track is fairly smooth travelling: Cochrane explains Lauer recently spent $50,000 upgrading it.

On one side snow-capped Sentinel Peak towers above the station and the lake. Before long, the track climbs 500m with a sheer drop to the lake on the other side. It’s narrow, and as we plunge back down the other side, there’s no room to squeeze past a couple of wandering bulls.

How many vehicles and recreational drivers could safely cope with a road like this?

Over the next few kilometres we cross two or three more creeks, and some huts. Visitors can book them out for around $50 a night. Cochrane says generations of sons have travelled up the valley for fishing trips. One family visits from Australia every year.

“We manage it carefully. If we’ve got two or three of the huts booked out one weekend, we say: ‘the valley is full’,” Cochrane says. A guide also brings in horse-trekkers, and once a year around 700 mountain bikers compete in a round-the-lake race. Lauer no longer charges fees to the organisers. . . 

This doesn’t sound like unreasonable access.

. . . He’s frustrated his home has become a flashpoint. He remembers previous rows over access to the campsite – pointing out that it was his father and uncles who established and built it. “We could have just locked the gates altogether. We don’t want to stop people coming here – we just don’t want them to get hurt.” 

There are less treacherous ways up the valley, he argues. On the eastern lake shores opposite, a track also runs to the head of the lake. Walking access is easier from Landsborough Valley or the Ahuriri conservation park. . .

If a city section could provide a shortcut for visitors to a public reserve, would the homeowner be expected to let people wander through the property at will?

Of course not.

Why then do some people, and groups, expect access through farms?

Property rights and owner responsibilities don’t change with the size or location of the property.


Rural round-up

May 25, 2018

Farmer has to start again after M. bovis – Sally Rae:

It is not surprising that Graham Hay gets a little choked up as he describes the devastating impact of Mycoplasma bovis on his farming business.

The Hakataramea Valley property has been in the family since his grandfather took over in 1921 and Mr Hay has lived there all his life.

He and his wife, Sonja, have invested in it for their children to carry on and he was one of the drivers of Haka Valley Irrigation Ltd, a small group of farmers who brought water to the traditionally dry valley.

But the cattle disease has ”destroyed” their business. . .

New Zealand could achieve world first by eradicating Mycoplasma – Gerard

No country has ever eradicated Mycoplasma bovis, but they have never really tried, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The Government is widely expected to opt for an eradication approach to tackle the cattle disease which has shaken the rural sector since being detected last year.

Despite the lack of precedent for ridding any country of the disease before now, “members of the technical advisory group regard it as feasible,” O’Connor said. . .

M. bovis predicted to bring about the end of sharemilking in New Zealand – Andrea Vance:

Farmers are predicting the end of sharemilking as the country moves to control the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis.

Share-milkers own their own cows – but not the land– so move them from farm to farm. Some use the income to save for their own farm.

But Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor said farming practices must change, with less movement of stock, as officials battle the infection. . . 

Survey assess health of NZ’s farming women – Yvonne O’Hara:

Farmstrong is asking farming women to complete a survey about their health and social connections to identify key wellbeing issues and provide information for research into possible tools and solutions to issues.

Farmstrong is a non-commercial initiative founded by rural insurer FMG and the Mental Health Foundation and provides programmes, advice and events that focus on farmers’ health and wellbeing.

Project manager Gerard Vaughan said the survey had had more than 820 responses so far and would close in early June. . .

Moteo apple orchards show way of the future – Rose Harding:

A new block of apples at Moteo is the way of the future, according to its developers.

The 47ha leased block being developed by T and G is planted to be two-dimensional rather than the usual three.

This is done by training growth along wires so the fruit is easily visible and easily picked. It also simplifies thinning and pruning.

T and G national growing manager Lachlan McKay says the Moteo block is the biggest 2D planting in New Zealand. He was reluctant to give an exact cost for the development. It was clearly not cheap. . . .

Kiwifruit monthly exports soar to new high:

Kiwifruit exports rose $197 million (82 percent) in April 2018 compared with April 2017, to reach $438 million, Stats NZ said. This is a new high for any month.

The rise in kiwifruit exports was the leading contributor to a $345 million rise (7.3 percent) in overall goods exports, which reached $5.1 billion. This is the second-highest for any month – the highest level was $5.5 billion in December 2017.

“Kiwifruit exports were up for all New Zealand’s principal kiwifruit markets – China, the European Union, and Japan,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. . .

Agricultural innovation in East Otago: helping to shape New Zealand’s farming industry – D.A. Stevens & K.A. Cousins:

ABSTRACT

The East Otago region has been at the forefront of agricultural advancement in New Zealand with key people leading the way in creating a culture of innovation. Rural technology developments are traced back from the emerging new biotechnology industries, through animal genetics research, improvements in hill country and pasture production, soil and fertiliser research, the introduction of deer farming and sheep breeding, to the frozen meat shipments, agricultural organisation restructuring and land reforms of the early settlers. . .


When does gossip become news?

May 3, 2018

Social media can be beneficial, it can be benign and it can be nothing more than a fast moving vehicle to bad mouth people.

Into the latter category falls the rumours that have been circulating for weeks that got so bad it prompted Police Commissioner Mike Bush to issue a statement scotching them.

On this issue I’m with Andrea Vance who tweeted:

She is right about the danger of reporting on rumours in social media, just as it would have been, and still is, unwise, potentially stupid and even courting defamation to report on gossip, from the pub or anywhere else.

The line between gossip and news has always been grey. The ease and speed at which something can spread on social media makes it even greyer.

Now that the Commissioner has made a statement, what happens next time there’s rumours? Will he make a statement and if not will that become a story?

It is dangerous territory for the police and media when gossip and rumours become news.

At both ends of the political spectrum are people, blinded by their own bigotry who will attempt to use character assassination with absolutely no concern about letting facts get in the way of their stories.

Mainstream media should not buy into it and anyone with integrity in politics wouldn’t go near it.

There is absolutely no need to be personal about the government or any of its members.

There is plenty in their actions and policies to pick on and it’s easy to point out their many defects without stooping to personal attacks and innuendo.

NB: If you’re commenting please do not write anything about the rumours or anything at all that could be defamatory.

I have deliberately not elaborated on the rumours or the subject and any comments that do will be deleted.


Chaos on left, calm on right

September 24, 2014

From National’s Facebook page:

New Zealand National Party

Over the last three days we’ve been overwhelmed by messages of goodwill from our supporters.

I want to thank all of you who voted for us, contributed to our campaign or have taken the time to send your best wishes. It’s not an exaggeration to say we couldn’t have done it without you.

The Prime Minister has already started work on forming a government so we can continue to implement National’s clear plan for a more prosperous New Zealand. It’s a big task, but our strong, fresh and united team is up to the challenge.

As always, we won’t be taking the support of New Zealanders for granted. National will continue to be a Government that is working for ALL New Zealanders.

Thank you for being the most dedicated, optimistic, and hard working party supporters.

Peter Goodfellow
Party President

And:

New Zealand National Party's photo.
New Zealand National Party's photo.New Zealand National Party's photo.
New Zealand National Party's photo.

Contrast that with:

John Armstrong on Labour’s morning of absolute mayhem:

An extraordinary morning in the Labour Party’s wing of Parliament Buildings. There were only two words to describe things – absolute mayhem.

And that was even before Labour MPs had even begun their crucial post-election caucus meeting, at which there was expected to be some very blunt language during a preliminary post-mortem on last Saturday s crushing defeat.

David Cunliffe is fighting tooth and nail to hang on as leader. His chances of doing so would seem to deteriorate further with every wrong tactic and mistaken ploy he uses to shore up his crumbling position. . .

Patrick Gower on Labour Party in civil war over leadership:

Labour is in crisis tonight with leader David Cunliffe apparently refusing to give up the leadership, despite the party’s humiliating election defeat.

MPs emerged from a seven-hour-long caucus meeting at Parliament early this evening, with no comment from Mr Cunliffe. The gathering began this morning with Mr Cunliffe calling on them to vote him down so he could take them on.

“I will have my hat in the ring,” says Mr Cunliffe.

So as for Labour’s devastating loss, he says he won’t apologise. . .

And Andrea Vance & Aimee Gulliver on Cunliffe emerges from crisis meeting still in charge:

Labour MPs have emerged from a seven-hour crisis meeting – and leader David Cunliffe is still refusing to go.

After presenting the party’s new chief whip Chris Hipkins and his junior Carmel Sepuloni, he gave a short statement, but refused to say what happened in the meeting.

His MPs have given him a bloody nose with their choices. Openly critical of Cunliffe in the past, Hipkins was a whip under former leader David Shearer. He was also demoted in a reshuffle earlier this year.  

Cunliffe wants his MPs to hold a confidence vote in him, triggering a primary-style run-off before Christmas. But the caucus wants to hold off until they have reflected on the crushing defeat at the ballot box on Saturday. . .

This might be entertaining for political tragics but the longer the focus is on Labour’s internal dysfunction the further the party will have to go to restore voter confidence.


A tale of two campaigns

August 27, 2014

Andrea Vance writes on a tale of two campaigns:

. . . One is slick, polished and organised to the last detail. The other is ad hoc, chaotic and oddly low-energy.

National leader John Key whizzed his way across Auckland on Monday, barely pausing for a breath. A brisk shopping centre walkabout was memorable, mainly for the sheer numbers who stopped him for a selfie. The campaign bus rolled up, stacked with supporters in their Team Key sweaters.

Key is merciless in keeping the exchanges swift – a grin for the camera phone, and an exchange of pleasantries and he’s on to the next voter.

Fast forward a day, and his opposite number David Cunliffe was on the road in Rotorua, campaigning with ex-television presenter Tamati Coffey.

The day started with a selfie – and there were plenty – but to be blunt, Coffey was the bigger drawcard.

A stop-off at a local primary school excited pupils, especially when told a Labour government would give them each a tablet. But with only a handful of eligible voters in the room, reporters wondered how effective the visit was.

A scheduled town centre walkabout was delayed by 35 minutes as Cunliffe, Coffey and activists stopped for a curry. “An army marches on its stomach,” Cunliffe said later. On the stroll he talked with eight people, two of whom were in town from overseas. . .

There are many reasons for the differences.

Some of them are personal – the Prime Minister is popular as a man as well as a politician, the would-be PM is not.

Some are political – National has a good record that’s working for New Zealand. That gives it a strong foundation on which to base its campaign to keep the country on the right track.

Labour doesn’t.

Some are organisational.

National is unified.

Labour isn’t.

National has tens of thousands of members who are working with and for candidates.

Labour doesn’t.

It’s a tale of two parties.

National is positive and unified, Labour isn’t and the campaigns reflect that.


Political story of the day

June 18, 2014

 

The round-up of political stories while Politics Daily is taking a break seemed  like a good idea but it was taking too much time.

Instead, I’ll feature a political story of the day and welcome you to add others.

My pick is: Can Cunliffe survive?

John Armstrong doubts it.

David Cunliffe is in deep political trouble. So deep that his resignation as Labour’s leader may now be very much in order. . . .

Andrea Vance explains that his caucus could dump him:

In only two days time, Labour MPs have a three-month window to get rid of David Cunliffe.

The party’s dismal showing in the polls would be reason enough for the leader to be nervous.

But today’s revelations about his dealings with wealthy political donor Donghua Liu should have Cunliffe contemplating a return to the backbenches.

From Friday, his caucus has a small window to dump the leader without triggering a primary-style contest that would require the Labour party membership to vote.

In other words, after having an unpopular choice foisted on them in November, MPs are back in control. . .

What will the majority of members and unions who made Cunliffe leader think of that?


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