Rural round-up

June 5, 2017

It’s Complicated: Is NZ Media’s Relationship with Kiwi Farmers Busted? – Ben Stanley:

I’m a farm kid, and a journalist, and right now that’s an awkward position to be in.

There’s a name you don’t say out loud in rural New Zealand right now unless you want to draw scorn and outright disgust.

It’s the name of one of my childhood heroes.

For the majority of the 1990s, Cameron Bennett was New Zealand’s foreign correspondent; our eye on international conflict and disaster. He’d travel to Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan and the West Bank and report back home with his gritty, but revealing, insights on war and why people make it. . .

A water battle looms in NZ’s Middle-Earth desert – Matthew Brockett & Tracy Withers:

In the rugged heart of New Zealand’s South Island, a high-altitude desert where the men of Middle-Earth made their last stand in the “Lord of the Rings” movies has become a battlefield once again.

Environmentalists and farmers are clashing over the Mackenzie Basin, an area known for its scorched-brown grasslands and crystal-blue lakes – and now, massive irrigation systems that are spreading circles of emerald-green pasture across the Mars-like terrain.

“It’s similar to greening the desert of Nevada or California,” said Annabeth Cohen, a freshwater scientist at environmental group Forest and Bird. . .

Mackenzie Basin set to lose $1.2b in farming production if wildings aren’t controlled  – Pat Deavoll:

The Mackenzie Basin could lose $1.2 billion in farming production a year if the spread of wilding conifers is not brought under control, said Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) wilding programme manager Sherman Smith.

Few species would survive if the basin was smothered by wildings, he said.

“If the basin is taken over by wildings, that’s 50 cumecs (of water) drained out of the Waitaki system, biodiversity that would suffer and there would be a lot of species that wouldn’t survive,” said Smith at the Federated Farmers High Country Conference, . .

Cut debt or go  – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers with unsustainable debt who can’t build equity buffers with profits should exit the sector, Reserve Bank governor Graham Wheeler says.

But Federated Farmers dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says Wheeler used outdated figures when he warned the dairy sector was still a financial risk to the economy and banks should monitor it closely.

“The uncertain outlook for dairy prices and the rising proportion of highly indebted farms means there remains a risk that non-performing loans could increase in coming seasons. . . .

Whitehall kiwifruit growers come out the other side of Psa disease – Gerald Piddock:

It’s been a slow road to recovery for Mark and Robyn Gardiner since Psa ripped through their kiwifruit business.

Called Seudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, the deadly viral disease was first discovered at their 200 hectare Whitehall Fruitpackers operation in 2010.

Left unchecked, Psa destroys green and gold vines and spawns leaf spotting, cankers and shoot dieback.

At the worst point of the outbreak, Mark cut out 40ha of his 16 Gold kiwifruit crop as well as partial cuttings of green fruit. At the same time, the more resistant G3 variety was grafted to the vines. . .

Farm win gets civic reception – Hugh Stringleman:

Winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori Excellence in sheep and beef farming was the achievement of a lifetime for Northland farm manager Lloyd Brennan and his staff, he told Hugh Stringleman.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy might be scheduled for another visit to Kaikohe, the Northland town that needs to celebrate success and encourage more young Maori into farming.

A civic reception was being planned by the Far North District Council with the Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) and its board of trustees, headed by Sonny Tau. . .

National ambassadors for sustainable farming recognised:

The winners of the national ambassador title for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards describe their farm as the largest lifestyle block in Taranaki.

Ohangai sheep, beef and dairy farmers Peter and Nicola Carver won the National Ambassador title over 10 other regional supreme winners at the National Sustainability Showcase event at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on May 31.

Operating as Holmleigh Trust Partnership, the couple combine dairy and dry stock farming on their 515ha family property east of Hawera. . .


Price of Milk fails fairness test

April 11, 2017

Sunday asked is our love affair with dairy farming over? and promoted this week’s programme as giving the farmers’ side of the story.

It was supposed to provide some balance to the anti-farming stories which have dominated media and it failed.

Jamie Mackay devoted most of yesterday’s edition of The Country to the reaction.

He interviewed Federated Farmers Dairy chair Andrew Hoggard and Waikato-based farm management consultant John Dawson:

Hoggard found the show “frustrating” as he was expecting to see farmers’ “heartfelt” reactions to criticism levelled at them in the media. Instead Andrew says he saw two farms being unfairly compared to each other which he believes would have created an unbalanced view for those not accustomed to farming.

John Dawson has a lot of clients on the Hauraki Plains where Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm was filmed in the documentary. He says Flint’s farm is not typical and there was a lack of “penetrating” questions for the farm that Flint’s was compared to.

Central Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farmer Steve Wyn-Harris and Northland dairy farmer Grant McCallum were equally incensed.

Wyn-Harris was looking forward to a balanced show where farmers would finally be able to tell New Zealand their side of the story. Within minutes of watching he says his “heart sank” as soon as he saw shots of Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm.

Wyn-Harris is so incensed he has laid a complaint with TVNZ and is fully committed to taking it the Broadcasting Standards Authority if need be. . . 

Sunday’s Facebook page  has hundreds of comments, almost all of which are critical of the show.

It also includes a post from the show’s front man Cameron Bennett saying:

We went to the Hauraki Plains with no agenda. We happened upon (as explained) Gavin Flint and he kindly showed us around. 

Happened upon? That might well be the case, but why didn’t the show use more examples.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle writes:

. . .Last year when we heard about this documentary, we approached the production company to provide information and we offered them farmers and industry spokespeople to interview. Several were interviewed, but none of their footage or commentary was included in the final cut.

In my job, I’m fortunate enough to see the good work you are doing on your farms, and the amazing connections you have into your communities.

Good dairying must be made more visible, especially to those that are commentating, those in regulation setting positions, and to our neighbours in the cities and towns.

At DairyNZ we are upping the ante in our efforts to engage with the media, the public and special interest groups to tell the real story of dairying.

As farmers living and working on the land, I urge you to continue to keep up the good work. We all have a role to play in the economy of our country, in staff development, in animal welfare and in care for the environment and our waterways.

To inform and change perceptions it is crucial to reach outside your circle of farming and rural friends. Tell it how it really is to people who may not know much about farming life, but enjoy their milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, etc., which arrives on their tables in a container conveniently purchased from the supermarket. Tell them you produce high quality food, and you’re proud of it. . . .

The Price of Milk  showed two atypical farms, took a far tougher approach to one than it did to the other and failed the fairness test.


NZer of Year shortlist announced

December 29, 2014

The New Zealander of the Year 2015 Awards Office has announced the shortlist of people being considered for the 2015 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

They are:

• Dr Sharad Paul: Surgeon and skin cancer specialist (Auckland)
• Sir John Kirwan: Rugby coach, mental health and depression awareness advocate (Auckland)
• Cassandra Treadwell: Chief executive and founder, So They Can (Lower Hutt)
• Sir Stephen Tindall: Founder, The Tindall Foundation (Auckland)
• Julie Chapman: Chief executive and founder, KidsCan Charitable Trust (Auckland)
• Barbara Ala’alatoa: Principal, Sylvia Park School (Auckland)
• Roana Bennett: Manager, Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Trust (Rotorua)
• Dr Susan Parry: Auckland City Hospital and Ministry of Health (Auckland)
• Cynthia Ward: True Colours Children’s Health Trust (Hamilton)
• Judge Peter Boshier: Law Commissioner (Wellington)

Comment from Chief Judge Cameron Bennett

Determining the New Zealander of Year is a very tough job for the judging panel. The calibre of nominations was very high.

Each of these individuals is extraordinary. Some have worked tirelessly to making other Kiwis better off while others have inspired us through being the very best at their chosen fields. All of them are unique and special New Zealanders. They are all Kiwis of whom we can be very proud.

Background

The annual New Zealander of the Year awards are in their sixth year. They recognise, encourage and reward New Zealand’s most vital asset – its people. It is open to all New Zealanders and celebrates the contributions of Kiwis from all walks of life. More than 230 nominations were received for the 2015 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

In January, the judging panel – comprising representatives of all the awards patrons, presenters, sponsors, community leaders and independent experts – will announce the final shortlist of three people being considered for the 2015 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

The winner will be announced at the New Zealander of the Year Gala Awards evening in Auckland on 25 February, 2015.

Previous winners of the New Zealander of the Year Award are: Dr Lance O’Sullivan (2014), Dame Anne Salmond (2013), Sir Richard Taylor (2012), Sir Paul Callaghan (2011) and Sir Ray Avery (2010).

Other categories

The New Zealander of the Year Awards 2015 will also be honouring New Zealanders who have performed with distinction in five award categories. The semifinalists for those categories are:

University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year

Ben Dowdle (Auckland); Guy Ryan (Wellington); Tabby Besley (Wellington); Sebastian Hallum-Clarke (Wellington); Ella Yelich-O’Connor “Lorde” (Auckland); Jason Pemberton (Christchurch); Matt Strawbridge (Wellington); William Pike (Auckland); Te Rawhitiroa Bosch (Waikato); Henrietta McNeill (Invercargill); Malvindar Singh-Bains (Auckland).

Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year

Donald Sew Hoy (Auckland); Dr Brian Broom (Auckland); Gaylene Preston (Wellington); Kerry Bensemann (Christchurch); Betty van Gaalen (Kapiti); Kai Luey (Auckland); Bob Robertson (Queenstown); Roger Robinson (Auckland); Tong Too (Napier).

Mitre 10 Community of the Year

Paihia!; VisionWest Community Trust (Auckland); Kidscan (Auckland/NZ); Central Lakes Trust (Otago); Givealittle (NZ); South Alive Invercargill; Community Fruit Harvesting (Auckland/NZ); Pathway Trust (Christchurch); Rural Women New Zealand (NZ); Te Whangai Trust (NZ).

Sanitarium Innovator of the Year

Peter Beck (Auckland); Professor Shaun Holt (Tauranga); Kayne Horsham (Wellington); Glenn Martin (Christchurch); BCS Group (Auckland); Chris Rodley (Nelson); Neville Jopson (Dunedin); Pat Martin (Christchurch); William Palmer and Peter Beguely (Auckland); Peter Stothers (Auckland).

Kiwibank Local Heroes Awards

Amy Burke (Christchurch); Billie Jordan (Waiheke Island); Donald Rogers (Auckland); Helen Davidson (Roxburgh); Helen Henderson (Lower Hutt); Trevor Clarke (Auckland); Talitha Vandenberg (Paihiatua); Dame June Mariu (Auckland); Peter Willsman (Queenstown); Steven Parkinson-Loane (Christchurch).

More information on the awards is here.

 


NZer of Year finalists

January 20, 2014

The finalists for New Zealander of the Year are:

. . . Kaitaia GP Dr Lance O’Sullivan, the founder of the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust Catriona Williams from Masterton.

And Maori educator Dame Dr Iritana Tawhiwhirangi from Wellington.

Chief Judge, Cameron Bennett says these people follow a fine tradition of great New Zealanders whoâ ve forever changed our country for the better. . .

They were chosen from a list of 10 semi-finalists.


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