Loo lessons

April 11, 2017

“There’s a lot of lessons in cleaning toilets, more guys should do it. “

This is part of Prime Minister Bill English’s answer to one of 12 questions posed by Jennifer Dann.

The question was on how do he and his wife Mary juggle their work and family life.

That they do, and do it so well, is a tribute to both of them. Although being public about it doesn’t come naturally to either of them.

Modern politics and media force politicians to reveal more about themselves than was expected in the past, which isn’t easy for someone like the PM who admits to being shy.

I’m quite a shy person. I guess it’s part of that rural, big family, Catholic culture that I’m from which tends to dampen excessive self-awareness. It’s just, “Be humble. Don’t go out there telling everyone how great you are. Someone else is probably doing it better anyway.” But I’m enjoying it more than I expected.

But showing more of the person engages people who aren’t interested in politics.

Answers like this, to the question of what he’s learned from his Samoan and Italian parents-in-law helps us understand what informs his politics.

They’re a remarkable example of the promise of coming to New Zealand being realised. They raised 13 children on one income and own their own home. They had a very strong focus on their kids getting educated and maintaining their health which is a challenge in a large family on a low income.

I have enormous respect for their effort and I’m so pleased I’ve had exposure to different cultures which I wouldn’t have had as a Pakeha farmer from Southland.

His upbringing is also an important part of who he is.

He says growing up in a family of 12 children on a Southland farm was:

A mixture of discipline, hard work and adventure. We were expected to contribute to the farm and the household to the maximum of our ability at whatever age. When I was 10 I was sent out to plough our paddock on the tractor with very little instruction. At age 12 I cooked breakfast for 20 people when the shearers came up for breakfast. It was pretty basic, eggs cooked fast in hot fat. The sibling rivalry was constant. I was part of a mob of five boys at the tail end. As long as you stayed in your place it was trouble-free. I did better at school than some of them but it wasn’t like you were allowed to stay home and read books. It was a household where other skills were highly valued. You might get the best grades but were you the fastest shearer or the best fencer? My father said we were more nuggety than talented.

Family is a big part of who our PM is, so is his faith:

My faith is a significant part of who I am so it can’t help but affect my personal decision-making. It’s part of your conscience. I go to church most Sundays. I like sitting down the back as just another congregation member. You hear ideas around humility, forgiveness and mercy which are not part of the general political round. I find it very balancing.

Humility, forgiveness and mercy aren’t values often attributed to politicians and most Prime Ministers don’t clean the loos at night. But he’s a better man, and PM, for all of that.


Caption contest

March 13, 2017

 


Rural round-up

March 8, 2017

Farm recruiter backs PM’s claims around drugged up Kiwi workers –  Gerald Piddock:

A Hamilton-based farm recruitment agency is backing Prime Minister Bill English’s claims that Kiwi workers’ inability to pass drug tests are why overseas workers are needed.

Cross Country Recruitment managing director Ben De’Ath​ said that since December 4, 2016, 21 individual farm owners have contacted him seeking new staff because they have had to instantly dismiss staff due to failed drug tests for methamphetamine or cannabis.

Three-quarters of these farm owners were in Waikato and the rest were in the Central Plateau. These farmers were now short staffed purely because of illegal drugs, he said.

De’Ath said his company started to record why vacancies were arising in December because it helped make a case to Immigration New Zealand for foreign workers on behalf of farm owners. . . 

Plea to pay tribute to rural women:

Rural women are vital to resilience in rural communities and families and New Zealanders should pay tribute to their role tomorrow, which is International Women’s Day, a rural health leader says.

Michelle Thompson, chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance of Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ), says women are often the glue which holds families together in tough times.

“They are essentially the backbone of the NZ economy. After all, about 600,000 Kiwis live in rural areas and agriculture and tourism are the powerhouses of our economy,” Thompson says.

“Each year, more than two and a half million tourists visit rural New Zealand. In 2011-2012, $40 billion, or 19 percent of GDP, was generated directly or indirectly by the agri-food sector.

“If the spending power of rural people is considered, then the contribution of the agri-food sector is $53 billion, or one dollar in every four dollars spent in the economy. Rural women play a crucial role in making all this happen. . . .

New youth opportunities in agriculture sector:

TeenAg, an agriculture sector youth programme run by New Zealand Young Farmers, will receive $146,000 of support under a new partnership announced today by Youth Minister Nikki Kaye.

“This is about supporting more young people to develop skills such as leadership and learn about potential career opportunities in the primary sector, which is such a vital part of our economy,” says Ms Kaye.

“TeenAg aims to promote a positive picture of agriculture and raise awareness of agricultural careers from an early age.

“The funding announced today will support around 500 more young people to participate in the programme.” . . 

Hunter Downs irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming a funding grant of $1.37 million for Hunter Downs Water from Crown Irrigation Investments announced today.

“This development grant funding will be used by Hunter Downs Water to complete the next stage of its programme as it works toward becoming construction ready,” says Mr Guy.

Hunter Downs Scheme is a farmer and community led scheme with the capacity to irrigate 21,000ha in an area located between Waimate and Timaru in South Canterbury. …

A Celebration of Women in the Seafood Industry:

Nelson will launch a rolling programme of events around the globe tomorrow, International Women‘s Day, to celebrate the role women play in the seafood industry.

Seafood women in Iceland, the United States, Chile, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are taking part.

Donna Wells of Nelson’s Finestkind is organising a breakfast, the first event of rolling celebrations around the globe.

Around 60 women in the seafood industry are attending the breakfast to be opened by the Mayor, Rachel Reese. . . 

Lamb flap prices hit record high as NZ slaughter rates decline – Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – A shortage of lamb meat in New Zealand, the world’s largest exporter, is pushing up prices, with lamb flaps hitting a record high and prices for many other cuts lifting in export markets.

The price for lamb flaps advanced to US$5.60 per kilogram in February, from US$5.50/kg in January and US$3.45/kg in February last year, according to AgriHQ’s monthly sheep & beef report. That’s ahead of the previous record set in January 2014.

New Zealand slaughter rates for lamb so far this season are tracking 13 percent below the same period a year earlier at 7.17 million lambs, according to NZ Meat Board data. . . 

Over $15m in Developments for Winter 2017 at Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Developments for the 2017 winter season at Cardrona have totalled over $15million, with continued investment in the resort’s facilities and infrastructure. The investment includes a new high speed cabin lift, Base facility development, and improvements in terrain, carparking and snowmaking.

The biggest development for Winter 2017 is the new McDougall’s Express Chondola. The Doppelmayr “combined” lift of eight-person gondola cabins and six-seater chairs will replace the old McDougall’s Quad Chair. It is the first cabin-style lift on any ski area in New Zealand. . . 


Super announcement 4pm

March 6, 2017

An email from Politik says Finance Minister Steven Joyce is expected to join Prime Minister Bill English at the post-cabinet media conference at 4pm to make an announcement on superannuation.


That simple, that difficult

February 14, 2017

Prime Minister Bill English and his wife Mary were profiled in last week’s Women’s Weekly.

It’s a story of sacrifice – he gave up farming to enable her to follow her career as a General Practitioner. She accepted the loss of privacy and family time which a life in politics demands.

It’s a story of a strong partnership, built on mutual respect, shared values and faith.

It’s a story of a love built on a foundation of friendship, a story of two successful individuals working to be a successful couple and of a loving, and for modern times, large, family.

Behind the gush is the story of a marriage that has endured and in it is the answer to a whole lot of New Zealand’s problems – loving each other and your children, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.

It’s that simple and that difficult.

The Herald and Stuff also have stories with the PM at home in Dipton.

 

 


Shear(ing) brilliance

February 11, 2017

Prime Minister Bill English beat world champion shearer Sir David Fagan in a challenge at the World Shearing and Wool Handling championships.

shearing

shearing

shear-2

If Sir David noticed that he was handicapped by a sheep that was ever so slightly bigger than the PM’s he was too much of a sportsman to mention it.

shear


Sir David vs PM

February 11, 2017

Prime Minister Bill English has accepted champion shearer Sir David Fagan’s challenge to a sheep shearing contest.

. . . After being publicly challenged late last year by the world’s most-decorated shearer, Sir David Fagan, Bill English has duly accepted and will shear on-stage at the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at ILT Stadium Southland.

Sir David said the Prime Minister’s attendance was great news for the event.

We’re rapt. He’s always been supportive of agriculture and our industry and sport. We’re looking forward to having him and we are pretty excited to be able to host him in this venue at ILT Stadium Southland. To have the PM support the event, let alone have him take up the challenge of shearing a sheep is pretty impressive. He will be the first World leader to shear a sheep and having seen him shear before he’s going to do very well,” he said. . . 

The championships are being streamed live here. The PM and Sir David are scheduled to shear at 1:45.


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