Oamaru trumps Timaru

March 16, 2018

Stuff is doing a series of stories on rivalries between provincial towns and cities.

It started with Timaru vs Oamaru for the pride of the south.

Audrey Malone talked up Timaru and Hamish Rutherford penned an ode to Oamaru.

. . . It’s amazing what kids take for granted.

Only when I went to university did it dawn on me that the local bank did not necessarily have giant Corinthian columns at the entrance (or that the tellers may not know you by name).

You might not see what is remarkable about Oamaru if you have simply driven through it. From State Highway 1 it would be possible to imagine Oamaru was just another provincial New Zealand town, so very long that its main purpose is to slow you down on the way to somewhere else.

But I was lucky enough to call Oamaru home: grandiose banks, halls, churches, pubs, municipal buildings and many large houses, built on early economic prosperity and the availability of a distinctive locally quarried limestone were the norm.

Let me sing its praises. At 14,000, the population is hardly bigger than it was in the 1960s, but North Otago’s dominant town is arguably much more prosperous than many others which have grown much larger.

Oamaru has world-class offerings for food and culture, with a rich tapestry of history.

It has good cafes and a couple of restaurants which would continue to do fine if they were in bigger towns. The brewery, Scotts, relocated from Auckland, is well known for its gluten-free variety by New Zealand’s booming GF army. The Whitestone cheese factory sells to supermarkets in every part of New Zealand – and has attracted a few celebrity fans in Hollywood. It has contributed great literature, from Janet Frame to Greg McGee.

There is a lolly factory, which opened in 1949. Rainbow Confectionery recently attempted to keep Pineapple Lumps production in New Zealand after Dunedin’s Cadbury factory closes. The owners, Mondelez, refused, sending manufacturing offshore, with every other Cadbury and Pascall product. So may I offer you Rainbow’s Pineapple Chunks, available online and in the factory store?

Some of the employment is more old-school: Pukeuri, to the north, still has its freezing works, with dairy farms all the way up the beautiful Waitaki Valley. Oamaru is a good place if you are willing to work hard.

New Zealand’s first shipment of frozen meat was sent to Britain from the port just to the south. The port may now be insignificant in shipping terms compared to Timaru, but it was in Oamaru that the Terra Nova landed, carrying news that the great British explorer Robert Scott had died in his failed bid to reach the South Pole first.

A key measure of a New Zealand town’s class is in its coffee, but despite living in Timaru for a spell and still passing through several times a year, I still wouldn’t know where to go. In Oamaru, head to the area with most of the nice buildings and take your pick.

There are many great things to say about Timaru. Like almost anywhere you go, it is full of very nice people. A nationally competitive motorsport community recently gave us international rally driver Hayden Paddon. But Paddon is no Richie McCaw, who started in North Otago before going on to bigger things. . . 

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, who lives in Oamaru, thinks it is the best wee town in the South Island. She moved there with her husband and young family decades ago, and won’t be leaving any time soon.

“We moved 30-odd years, and it’s largely because of the people we wouldn’t move away,” Dean says.

She usually flies in and out of Timaru.

“I actually like Timaru, I just like Oamaru a whole heap more.” . . .

Oamaru and Timaru are often confused by outsiders because they sound similar.

If there’s any rivalry between the two, it’s pretty low key.

For many of us on the right side of the Waitaki River, Timare is just a place you drive through on the way north.


Rural round-up

January 15, 2016

The year ahead for agri-food – Keith Woodford:

The year ahead is going to be challenging for many of New Zealand’s farmers. There are no quick solutions for either dairy or sheep. Amongst the bigger industries, only kiwifruit and beef have a positive outlook. The wine industry could go in either direction this year. Among the smaller industries, manuka honey could be the one to watch.

Dairy
The year has started badly for dairy, with whole milk powder down 4.4% at the early January auction. For me, this number came almost as a relief. It could have been a lot worse. . . 

More cows stolen in Mid-Canterbury – Audrey Malone:

More than 100 dairy cattle disappeared without a trace from three Mid Canterbury farms during December.

A farm in Alford Forrest has lost 52 Friesian bull calves, while a farm south of Hinds lost 17 grown dairy cows.

It followed news that 36 cows disappeared from Mayfield farm over a two week period in December.

The farm owners are puzzled 

Jill Quigley, who owns the Mayfield farm with husband David, said rural Mid Canterbury was not a good place anymore.

“It just looks a little suspicious,” she said. . . 

New A2O section opened

A group of 40 people celebrated another milestone in The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail in Duntroon yesterday afternoon.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher officially opened the 28km section from Kurow to Duntroon – now totally off-road – in a short ceremony in the Waitaki Valley town. Mr Kircher said the trail would be a boon for the town’s economy, but also allowed locals to show ‘‘how proud people are of their community”. . . 

Hat tip: Utopia

High country meets town in rural games – Jill Galloway:

How far can you throw and catch a raw egg, throw a gumboot or spit a cherry stone? For that matter, how fast can you put up a fence or shear a sheep?

These skills will be tested when country comes to town in the New Zealand Rural Games at Queenstown next month.

Games founder Steve Hollander was in Palmerston North on his way to help run the events.

He said rural people from this area would take part in shearing and fencing.

Hollander said the games were about entertaining people, and no event was more than two hours long. He expected 8000 people over the two day event.  . . 

Lewis Road Creamery eyes China as potential export market – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Lewis Road Creamery, the premium dairy brand company, will make a final decision this year whether to export, most likely fresh organic milk into China’s Shanghai. It’s also planning to release a number of product extensions and has already moved beyond dairy products into baked goods.

The Auckland-based brand saw 340 percent growth in retail sales to $40 million of its butter, cream, organic milk, and flavoured milk products during 2015, the year of what founder Peter Cullinane calls “the chocolate milk frenzy”.

His big decisions this year include whether to get serious about exporting and how far to extend the product range beyond dairy. For the past couple of months it has been trialling sales of Lewis Road Bakery premium kibbled grain bread in 12 Auckland retail outlets. . . 

Activity Steps up in 2016 Dairy Awards:

Those entrants who used their summer holiday to prepare for the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards could have an advantage, as activity gears up in this year’s competitions.

The awards, which oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions, received 452 entries prior to Christmas.

General Manager Chris Keeping says information events for entrants and sponsors are being held in some of the awards’ 11 regions over the next couple of weeks. . .

Wool Steady

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that this week’s auctions held in both centres saw slightly different price movements between them, however overall the local market remained firm.

Of the 16,500 bales on offer, 95.6 percent sold. . . .

NZ Tractor Trek:

A cavalcade of Vintage Tractors, Jeeps and Trucks trekking 2600km from Bluff to Cape Reinga over 26 days.

Raising funds for hospices throughout New Zealand. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 28, 2015

New lecturer pursuing genetic gains – Sally Rae:

Phillip Wilcox credits time spent culling deer for the New Zealand Forest Service for his pragmatic perspective and love of the outdoors.

He now found that passion complementary to his primary sector relationships and technology transfer work.

Dr Wilcox has been appointed by Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics (BLNZG) as its inaugural senior lecturer in quantitative genetics at the University of Otago. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers rethinking careers – Dave Gooselink:

Dairy farmers are being forced to reduce stock and slash costs to try to stay afloat, following the big drop in milk price payouts.

Some farmers are losing staff and taking on more of the work themselves, forcing some sharemilkers to rethink their careers. . . 

World-class soil programme ‘misused’:

A soil scientist who was involved in the initial development of the controversial nutrient management system, Overseer, agrees with critics who say it is being misused.

The computer software programme was designed to help in the assessment of nitrogen and other nutrient losses from farms.

Regional councils are now using Overseer as well to set nutrient discharge levels in their land and water plans.

Independent soil scientist and fertiliser consultant Doug Edmeades was a National Science Leader with AgResearch in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Overseer concept was born.

He said the Overseer programme is world class – no other country has such a tool.

But Dr Edmeades said it was not being used in the role it was designed for and that it had never been intended to be used as a regulatory tool. . . 

Heartland potato chips a family affair – Audrey Malone:

Raymond Bowan fell in love with potato farming at the age of 17. Wife Adrienne laughs that it’s not potato farming her husband fell in love with, but potatoes in all their forms – mashed, baked, roasted, boiled baby potatoes (without butter so not to interfere with the taste) and of course as chips.

Raymond Bowan’s passion for potatoes and chips has seen Heartland Potato Chips take on the big boys at their own game. With its fifth birthday looming, changes are afoot at the helm but the recipe for success remains the same.

The company, which the Bowans describe as something of a David and Goliath story, has always been a family oriented business. It was started to sustain a family business and it remains central to family, with daughter Charlotte stepping into the role of general manager. . . 

Fonterra: Foreign investment in trees:

The German man felt it was time he checked on his tree.

He brought up his browser on his laptop, went to the Trees For Travellers website, entered his tree identification number and got the co-ordinates for his tree. Then, using Google Earth, he zoomed in on the Kaikoura track which was home to his sapling.

There it was, still protected by its combi-guard (funded by the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund) sheltering the young tree from the elements. He zoomed closer to locate the area and a message appeared telling him his tree was doing well.

If this all sounds a bit unusual, it is the quintessential symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit. Trees For Travellers offers New Zealand native trees for planting around Kaikoura – like many parts of this country a place where native trees have often given way to imported and pest varieties. . .

Italian farm family video wins the first global web video competition:

Sabrina Caldararo, Carmine Caldararo and Gerardo Graziano from Italy won the first prize with their video submission “A modern family farm”. More than 40 videos from 20 countries were submitted for the first YouFarm International video competition, which was initiated by Bayer CropScience in 2015.

“We are grateful our video won out of such a wide range of international videos. Our aim was to give insights into modern Italian farming and the value of regionally and traditionally produced products. It’s great that the online community as well as the jury appreciated our concept,” said Gerardo Graziano. Having been awarded the first prize, Gerardo and his brother in law will now start the “Farmers around the Continent Tour” through Asia. They will meet farmers, visit farms as well as a variety of agricultural sites and parks from tea plantations in Malaysia to vertical farms in Japan. . . 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2015

Phone call alerts Fed Farmers’ boss to fire – Audrey Malone:

About 7.30am on Friday Federated Farmers president William Rolleston received a call telling him the forestry block on his family’s farm was on fire.

The land, about 30 minutes south-west of Timaru, had been in the family since 1879. The blaze had started after embers from a burnoff to clear a piece of land, were carried to the forestry block by a gust
of wind.

Rolleston was at the Mystery Creek Fieldays, near Hamilton, and spent the day getting phone updates from his brother.

 

Fieldays farmers still spending – Hugh Stringleman:

National Fieldays is maintaining attendance and turnover numbers as farmers shop for bargains, especially for essential items.

Big ticket items were slow to sell but forward ordering for seasonal farm inputs, with the added benefit of delayed payment terms, was steady and competitive, rural retailers reported.

The big co-operatives were keen to help their farmer members wherever possible. . .

 Fieldays 2015 another big success:

This year’s Fieldays has been another major success and shows the resilience of the primary sector, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“Over 126,000 visitors attended the 47th annual Fieldays this year which is the biggest agricultural event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.

“I spent three days at Fieldays and the mood was positive overall, despite a lower payout this year for dairy farmers. Beef exports are strong and horticulture exports are enjoying a record year. The announcement of the official cash rate (OCR) reducing to 3.25% is a timely boost for the primary sector and will help provincial New Zealand. . .

Positive strains in the air – Stephen Bell:

Positive strains are wafting through the agricultural air at the National Fieldays with the industry wondering if farmers have any money in their pockets.

The Ministry for Primary Industries increased the tempo with its outlook for the primary sector predicting a 17% increase in agricultural exports to $41.3 billion between now and 2019.

It even predicted dairy receipts to increase by a compounded annual rate of 6.8% from now to 2019. . .

Public access over farmland is ‘win-win’:

Farmers creating public access across their land can build awareness of what they do, strengthen relationships with the community and even boost farming productivity.

That’s according to Alistair Gibb, who recently established an easement and track to facilitate public access across his Wairarapa farm to a scenic section of the Ruamahanga River near Gladstone. . .

Communicate to counter critics – Glenys Christian:

A former Fonterrra Shareholders’ Council (FSC) member and strong supporter of the co-operative says even he sometimes feels like a contract milk supplier rather than an owner of the business.

Waikato farmer Neil McLean believes the answer is better communication between the co-op and its farmers.

He estimates that just 25% of them take an analytical approach to their co-op’s performance but need to seek out the necessary information themselves to do so. . .

Rural bachelor Toby cleans up the competition – Libby Wilson:

He wasn’t one of the loudest blokes but Toby How obviously made himself stand out.

The Geraldine-based fencing director made a clean sweep in Rural Bachelor of the Year for Fieldays at Mystery Creek, winning both the Golden Gumboot and the public choice prizes.

Maybe now he can claim to be New Zealand’s second most recognisable bachelor – after Art Green of The Bachelor fame.

But it’s a bit different at Mystery Creek – these blokes The Rural Bachelors were kitted out by Swandri and Skellerup, stayed in campervans and competed by driving tractors, fencing, speed dating and de-boning lamb. . .


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