Rural round-up

August 19, 2017

Mayor protests against water tax – Pam Jones:

Central Otago’s economy could lose $6 million a year through Labour’s proposed water tax, a strongly-worded letter from Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan to Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says.

Mr Cadogan, who wrote to Ms Ardern yesterday, said Labour’s water tax announcement had been greeted with “fear and dismay” in Central Otago and would be “grossly unfair” on the region.

His letter comes at the same time as a group of Maniototo women are separately preparing a campaign against the water tax. . .

More on water – The Veteran:

Labour, Winston First and the Greens are all committed, to a greater or lessor degree, to imposing a tax on something they don’t own and, in doing so, are opening the doors to Maoridom to demand a slice of the action that they don’t own either.

This policy made on the hoof and with no-one prepared to put a number on it has the potential to severely undermine our agricultural and horticulture industry (and that’s just for starters).

OK, this isn’t an issue for Labour as in their lexicon farmers are all ‘rich pricks’ and they know they are about as welcome in rural New Zealand as a pork chop in a Synagogue. . .

Rebuild slows flock decline – Alan Williams:

The decline in the national sheep flock has slowed markedly over the last year with rebuilding after drought and indicating some return in confidence.

Total sheep numbers were estimated to be 27.34 million on June 30, a 0.9% fall from the 27.58m a year earlier but that figure was a 5% fall on 2015.

Though ewe numbers were lower than a year earlier this year’s lamb crop should be higher, according to Beef + Lamb NZ, largely because more ewe hoggets were mated and the ongoing productivity gains in the flock. . .

TPP agreement will give New Zealand a competitive edge:

A long awaited Trans Pacific Partnership(TPP) agreement can’t come quick enough with approval for a mandate to negotiate good news says Federated Farmers.

The Government announced it will be pushing for minimal changes from the original TPP agreement with a TPP 11 proposal due to go before trade officials from 11 countries at November’s APEC Conference in Vietnam. . .

Bay of Plenty woman wins Young Grower of the Year:

The future of our $5.6 billion horticultural industry is in excellent hands as shown by the talent of this year’s Young Grower of the Year: Erin Atkinson of Te Puke.

Erin Atkinson, 30, technical advisor for Apata Group in Te Puke, was named Young Grower at an awards event in Christchurch tonight after a long day pitting her skills, knowledge and experience against four other finalists. She is the first woman to win the title, which is in its 11th year. . .

Talley’s skipjack tuna gets tick of sustainability:

New Zealand¹s main skipjack tuna purse seine fishery has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as being sustainably managed.

The certification covers the Talley’s Group Limited (Talley’s) fleet of two large purse seiners, is valid for five years, and allows skipjack to be sold under MSC’s ‘blue tick’ of sustainability. . .

NZ wool market improves at weekly auction – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand wool prices and sale clearance rates lifted at the latest weekly auction.

Some 83 percent of the 8,251 wool bales offered at yesterday’s South Island auction were sold, and prices lifted for all styles of wool on offer with the coarse crossbred wool indicator up 9 cents to $2.82 a kilogram, AgriHQ said. . . 

Significant changes to provisional tax already in effect for farmers:

With the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) unveiling the new provisional tax rules that took effect at the start of this financial year, farmers should be satisfied with sensible adjustments to the rules according to Tony Marshall, Tax Specialist for Crowe Horwath.

The new regime means that if you pay provisional tax using the standard uplift method, which uses the previous year’s liability with five percent uplift, you will no longer suffer high interest if your tax predictions are incorrect. . . 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2015

MPI confirms fourth fruit fly find in controlled area:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed a fourth fruit fly in Grey Lynn and believes it to be part of the same localised population as previous detections.

A single male Queensland fruit fly was found on Sunday in a trap inside the existing Controlled Area.

There are no changes to the Controlled Area as a result of the find at this stage, says MPI Chief Operations Officer Andrew Coleman.

“We have been expecting to find more flies, so the latest detection is no surprise, and confirms that the trapping systems continues to be successful.

“The find was close to the original detections, so we believe the fly is likely to be part of the same population.” . . .

Te Hui takes out merino record:

King Country shearer Stacey Te Huia has taken out the merino shearing world record in Australia.

He managed to shear 530 finewooled merino ewes in nine hours at Parkdale Stud, about 40 kilometres northwest of Dubbo in New South Wales, on Friday.

He beat the previous record of 513 ewes, set by New Zealand-born Dwayne Black, in Western Australia, 10 years ago. . .

My Interview on Radio New Zealands Country Life Programme – Milking on the Moove:

I featured on Radio New Zealand Nationals Country Life programme on the weekend. You can hear it here if you have 20 minutes spare. . .

Now is time to buy winter feed – Annette Scott:

Cole Groves has big decisions to make for his dairy farming operation at Pleasant Point in South Canterbury.

With the drought creating a severe feed shortage on his property and irrigation no longer an option, it’s “crunch time again”.

“Unfortunately I am on Opuha water,” Groves said.

Without significant rainfall, Opuha would run dry on Wednesday. . .

Sustainable salmon farming subject of $5.2 million research project:

New Zealand government, research and commercial groups are aligning with international salmon experts to make salmon farming here even more sustainable.

The $5.2 million project is spearheaded by Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon and aims to fully understand the specific dietary requirements of King salmon.

To conduct the programme, New Zealand King Salmon has brought together a research group comprising Seafood Innovations Ltd (SIL), Nelson’s Cawthron Institute, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and Danish feed producer BioMar. . .

Dairy trainees not meeting expectations – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers are unhappy with the quality of training provided by agricultural training organisations, Craig Litten from Waikato told the Federated Farmers Dairy meeting last week.

“There are more and more training organisations popping up all the time and it appears to be more of a bums on seats type of scenario rather than an actual (focus on) quality of entrants and the people coming out the other end of the training institutions.”

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said Federated Farmers had met Primary ITO chief executive Mark Jeffries who did realise there was an issue in terms of the quality of the people coming through.  . .

Bee numbers rising:

According to Agcarm, bee numbers in New Zealand are on the rise and the crop protection industry will work with government and industry to help keep bees healthy.

 Agcarm says the industry takes pollinator health very seriously and they are keen to work with regulators and stakeholders to encourage further bee population growth.

According to official data, there are now 546,837 managed hives in New Zealand up from 2004 figures of 292,530 hives. . .

Pinot – New Zealand’s answer to burgundy – Fiona Beckett:

These days, even the Burgundians are flocking to New Zealand’s pinot noir heartland.

As you drive out towards the Central Otago region of New Zealand’s South Island, you come across the Kawarau bridge, where the bungee-jump craze started all those years ago. It must have taken a similar leap of faith, you feel, to plant vines in this extreme mountainous region. Yet in less than a generation, “Central”, as the locals call it, has become one of the best places on the globe to find great pinot, even though the area accounts for only 2.4% of New Zealand’s wine production.

Wine has been made in these parts for 150 years, but it took off commercially in the 1980s due to a group of local burgundy obsessives who yearned to get their pinot fix a bit closer to home. They’ve been so successful that, nowadays, young Burgundian winemakers regularly come from France to Otago to see how the Kiwis do it. . .

 Dual focus in the Hunter – Nick Heydon:

SINCE purchasing “Redman Park” in 2006, Stuart and Amanda Thomas have sought to continually improve their property to the point where it stands today – a holding of high quality clearly evident across its two major enterprises: horses and lucerne.

The couple, who are selling in order to downsize, established a horse stud on Denman’s “Redman Park”, running it jointly as a Thoroughbred broodmare farm and a lucerne property.

“We used to have 30 mares plus progeny on the farm, and we have a lot of local clients for the lucerne, some local horse studs, and some clients as far afield as Taree,” Mrs Thomas said. . .


Why and where’s Waitaki grown?

October 8, 2013

Population projections for the Waitaki District have been gloomy for years.

The trend has been for fewer people and the average age of those left getting higher.

But yesterday’s announcement by Statistics New Zealand of electorate populations from this year’s census shows that the Waitaki Electorate’s population has increased from 60,135 to 64, 962.

The electorate includes not just the Waitaki District but most of Central Otago, all of Waimate and Mackenzie Districts, part of Queenstown Lakes and part of Timaru City.

QLDC was expected to increase in population because of Queenstown’s growth but that town is in neighbouring Clutha Southland electorate, not Waitaki.

Wanaka, which is in Waitaki, has grown but more than 3,000 extra people would almost have doubled its population which is unlikely.

There’s been a mini boom in grape growing in Central which will have brought more people into the area but again I’d be surprised if it’s thousands.

Both Waimate and Waitaki Districts have had a big increase in dairy farming which increases employment opportunities on and off farm.

Could it be that anecdotal evidence of a population increase, and a lowering of the average age, because of dairying is reflected in official statistics?

The answer to why Waitaki has grown and where will come when more census data is released.


Apropos of counting blessings . . .

December 21, 2012

. . .  living near Central Otago is one of them:


Law change could save cost of by-election with bob-each-way candidates

October 14, 2010

When then-Waitaki District deputy mayor Gary Kircher decided to stand for the mayoralty he chose to make it all or nothing – standing for mayor and not the council as well.

It was always going to be tough to beat a first-term mayor when there were no defining issues. Gary came a credible second which means now he’s neither mayor nor councillor.

Had he taken the bob each way approach he’d probably still be on the council. But had he done that and won, the District would be facing a by-election, as it did three years ago when then-councillor,  Alex Familton stood for council and mayor and won both. When reporting on that, the ODT said a by-election cost about $11,000 in 2007.

Central Otago is facing the expense of a by-election this time round for the same reason. Tony Lepper won a seat as councillor in the Earnscleugh-Manuherikia ward and his bid for the mayoralty.

There is nothing in legislation to stop people standing for more than one position on the same council even though success in both will trigger a by-election and I’m not sure it would be in the best interests of democracy if there was.

However, a law change could enable the next-highest polling candidate to take the council seat with the proviso that a petition by 10% of registered voters could request a by-election.

That would save the expense of a by-election if the bob-each way candidates won two seats and still safeguard democracy by enabling people to request a by-election if enough of them objected to the runner-up taking the seat.


Health Boards’ merger less certain

December 15, 2009

Otago and Southland District Health Boards have been developing a closer relationship for some time.

They have a single chief executive and chair and have been consulting on a full merger.

Public meetings on the proposal haven’t been well attended which indicates people don’t have strong feelings on the issue.

The most heat about the the proposal was from Central Otago where people who are caught between board boundaries were in favour of the merge. They gave the example of someone in Queenstown who needs chemotherapy who has to go to Invercargill under the current structure but would be able to make the shorter journey to Dunstan Hospital if there was a single board.

However, Southland Hospital doctors wrote an open letter opposing the merger, just a day before submissions closed.

Dr Charles Lueker, who chairs the senior medical staff committee in Southland, said the letter was signed on behalf of “well over 90%” of senior doctors at Southland Hospital.

The doctors expressed concerns about services being centralised to Dunedin and the loss of the board’s advocacy for the people of Southland.

Reducing costs, sharing resources and providing more convenient service for many rural patients has a lot to recommend it.

It would be a pity if the merger which would do this was to fail at this late stage.


Just This

August 14, 2009

Reading Brian Turner’s poetry is to wander through tussock, under a big Central Otago sky, basking in the heat of a summer’s day or breathing the crisp, clear air of winter.

His latest volume of poems, Just This, takes the reader to other places too and describes people and relationships with an eye for detail and gift for choosing words which tell more with each reading.

 He explores Honesty and Fear, the First Day at School and Unfashionable Suggestions; he goes to a Shareholders Meeting, visits a South Dunedin Garden and the Matukituki; shows the view from High Windows; examines Celebrity and concludes The Earth is Enough. 

It’s a wonderful collection of poems from a master wordsmith.

 Just This

‘Find your place on the planet, dig in,

and take responsibility from there.’

         Gary Snyder

 

Affecting without affection, like the sere hills

then the early evening sky where Sirius dominates

for a time, then is joined by lesser lights,

 

stars indistinct as those seen through the canopies

of trees shaking in the wind. There’s this wish

to feel part of something wholly explicable

 

and irreplaceable, something enduring

and wholesome that suppresses the urge to fight . . .

or is there? Ah, the cosmic questions

 

that keep on coming like shooting stars

and will, until, and then what? All I can say

is that for me nothing hurts more

 

than leaving and nothing less than coming home

when a nor’wester’s gusting in the pines

like operatic laughter, and the roadside grasses

 

are laced with the blue and orange and pink

of bugloss, poppies and yarrow, all of them

swishing, dancing, bending as they do, as we do.

                 – Brian Turner –

Just This by Brian Turner, published by Victoria University Press, 2009, $24.99.


Culinary Central

May 22, 2009

A Central Otago farmer enjoyed dinner was so effusive in his praise of the meal he’d eaten at a London restaurant that the waiter brought the chef and the restaurant owner out to meet him.

In the ensuing conversation the farmer discovered the chef had trained at Cromwell. The owner added that his only fault was that he’d only work with the best cuts of meat.

Cromwell? Yes, at Otago Polytechnic’s Cromwell Campus  which delivers a variety of courses including turf management, stone masonry, viticulture and hospitality.

The farmer mulled on the conversation with the chef and the importance of ensuring the trainee chefs worked with good cuts of meat so when they graduated and went to work around the world they would use New Zealand beef and lamb.

That mulling eventually led to a dinner at the polytech’s Molyneaux restaurant last night, cooked by trainee chefs and served to the Southern South Island Sheep & Beef Council and guests, two of whom were my farmer and me.

We were served a degustation menu, five little courses of delicious food, beautifully presented and matched with wines.

Italian lamb loin with beetroot pinot jelly, horseradish cream, micro greens and shaved parmesan accompanied by Quartz Reef Methode Traditional.

sheep&beef 001

Consomme of beef en croute with barley, red pepper and broad been accompanied by Bannockburn Road Pinot Gris – which is produced by Cromwell students.

sheep&beef 002

Ravioli with ox tail and mushrooms accompanied by a Bendigo Syrah from Aurora Vineyard.

sheep&beef 003

Herb and macadamia nut crusted rack of lamb with fondant potato, steamed broccolini and braised short rib with a Bannockburn Road Pinot Noir.

sheep&beef 004

Duo of white and milk chocolate delice with a saffron Anglaise and pistachio tuille accompanied by a 2006 Late Harvest Riesling.

sheep&beef 005

The chefs are only a third of the way through their training. The meal they served us was a feast for the eyes and the taste buds and left the diners satisfied but not over full.

If they can do so well this early in their training, they will be wonderful ambassadors for our produce when they are in their own kitchens in which ever corner of the world their careers take them.


Watering down the wine prices

May 22, 2009

One of Central Otago’s pioneering wine companies, William Hill Winery has been placed into receivership.

The ODT reports that rivalry from newer entrants in the viticulture industry contributed to the company’s problems.

Mr Green, of Carrick Winery at Bannockburn, told the Otago Daily Times established wineries like William Hill were facing more competition than ever before as new operators started to come on line.

He said lesser-known wineries were selling wine cheaply in order to move stock, which potentially created problems for companies with more expensive labels.

“Smaller wineries might be struggling to establish themselves so they’re selling wine at lower prices simply to generate cash flow, which is having an effect on more established wineries.

That’s compounding on other issues in the industry, such as the economic downturn,” he said.

This is sad for the company and the people involved in it but the issue isn’t peculiar to the wine industry.

Businesses come and go, some last longer than others and some damage their competitors in the process.

It’s tough but that’s the market and any alternative would be worse.


Dansey’s Pass Pub for sale

April 20, 2009

The ODT reports  that the Dansey’s Pass hotel is on the market.

The hotel is a few kilometres from Naseby. It was built in 1862, and is one of the few old coach inns which remain.

We celebrated a 50th birthday there last year and can recommend the comfort of the bed and the standard of the food.

The pass is the border between North and Central Otago. It’s a scenic drive through tussock covered hills but the road is unsealed, narrow with lots of twists and turns so not recommended for inexperienced drivers or passengers who get car sick.

Whitestone Cheese named a farmhouse style cheese  after it.

It’s also the subject of an Owen Marshall poem, from Occasional, published by Hazard Press.

                           – Dansey’s Pass –

Walk the wind arch of this burnished place.

Leave the gravel road behind like childhood.

Tussock flayed by austere Waitaki winds

is harsh, archaic and blown quite clean.

Here nature still defies all subjugation

and I rejoice in blissful arrogance

standing solitary upon the lion’s back.

 

– Owen Marshall –


15,495 pests potted in Easter Bunny hunt

April 13, 2009

Central Otago has 15, 495 fewer pests after the 18th annual Easter bunny hunt.

Shooters potted 14,799 rabbbits as well as hares, stoats, ferrets, goats, possums, turkeys and a few feral cats.

Organised by the Alexandra Lions Club, the annual hunt has been responsible for culling almost 200,000 rabbits from Central Otago since its inception in 1991.

Local scouts also benefitted, being commissioned by the Lions to pick up all the dead rabbits and dispose of them in a purpose-dug pit.

  Rabbit tallies

Kills from the past 10 hunts:

•2009: 14,799 (39 teams)
•2008: 15,542 (35 teams)
•2007: 16,121 (31 teams)
•2006: 12,494 (35 teams)
•2005: 20,201 (43 teams)
•2004: 11,546 (33 teams)
•2003: 9148 (27 teams)
•2002: 7513 (18 teams)
•2001: 3694 (17 teams)
•2000: 4324 (20 teams)

Record
•1997: 23,949 (44 teams)

The high numbers of rabbits killed in the last few years indicates that the population is rising again as resistance to RCD (rabbit calicivirus disease)  grows.

We’ve noticed rabbit numbers in North Otago increasing and in spite of regular shooting the number of young shurbs in the garden which are repeatedly nibbled indicates we’re not making much headway against them.

It’s not nearly as bad as it was in the 1930s when my father recalled there were so many rabbits it looked like hillsides were moving, but it’s a growing problem and I’ve got some sympathy with arguments for the reinstatement of rabbit boards.

Rabbits don’t respect boundaries so individual property owners’ pest control is only as good as that of their neighbours.

Reinstating boards would mean the that the effort, and money, most put into pest destruction isn’t sabotaged by the few who do little or nothing to eradicate pests on their properties.


A touch of frost

March 24, 2009

The ute which had been left outside on Sunday night had ice on its windscreen when we got up yesterday and if the fog hadn’t rolled in it would have been cold enough for frost this morning too.

That is surely proof that daylight saving ought to have finished on Sunday as it used to, rather than continuing until the first Sunday in April.

Mutter, mumble.

Still, I suppose I should be grateful that the sheep and cows aren’t harmed by the frost, unlike grapes. The Central Otago harvest is still a couple of weeks away which means frost fighting takes priority over sleep when overnight temperatures drop.


Pinot Noir good for children’s health

March 11, 2009

 

Don’t panic, no-one is suggesting children drink the wine – it was auctioned and the money raised donated to help pay for ear nose and throat operations at Dunedin’s Mercy Hospital for children who wouldn’t qualify for public treatment.

The $25,000 donation from Central Otago’s Pinot Noir Charitable Trust is matched dollar for dollar by the hospital’s Outreach Fund and will enable about 20 children to have surgery.

I was at my GP’s last week and the high rate of illiteracy among prisoners was raised in conversation. He said that there is also a high rate of deafness among prisoners.

Children who don’t hear properly, don’t learn properly and those who don’t learn properly are more likely to turn to crime so these operations could do more than keep the children out of the public health system, they might keep some out of jail.


We deserve pay rise

February 9, 2009

Oh dear, if there’s a phrase that politicians should never utter it’s “we deserve a pay rise” and to be fair, the mayors interviewed by the Southland Times  didn’t put it in exactly those words.

Queenstown-Lakes mayor Clive Geddes said:

“My own view, not speaking for myself but speaking for the councils and community chairs in this district, is that their remuneration is significantly below the effort and contribution they make.”

Central Otago mayor Malcolm Macpherson said:

. . .  in my view people who do the sort of work that rural authority mayors do are pretty much underpaid as it is.

And Southland District mayor Frana Cardno said:

. . . Our councillors earn a pathetic amount that wouldn’t even cover the costs of them leaving their work for the day . . .

I suspect they all have a point, that council pay is less than fair compensation for the time and effort good councillors put into their work.

But ratepayers hearing their elected representatives saying they deserve a pay rise are unlikely to be swayed by this when facing yet another increase in rates which is well above the rate of inflation.

It doesn’t matter that concillors’ pay is a tiny part of the total rates bill and their pay is set by the Remuneration Authority over which they have no control. Ratepayers almost certainly think their case for lower rates is stronger than the coucillors’ one for higher pay and are likely to respond to mayors saying they deserve a pay rise by offering them a Tui.

However, the debate raises two bigger issues – the growing rates burden and the method for setting the politicians’ pay.

Kiwiblog  thinks the Remuneration Authority should set MPs’ salaries for a whole three year term. I agree and would like the same system used for local body politicians.


A Blue Flower

November 7, 2008

We woke to a light touch of white on the lawns and paddocks this morning and over in Central Otago up to 500 helicoptors may be called on tonight to help orchardists and viticulturists protect young fruit from the forecast frost.

That unseasonal weather prompted the choice of this Friday’s poem – A Blue Flower by Ruth Dallas from her Collected Poems, published by University of Otago Press.

           A Blue Flower

 

In the early morning we noticed

Jack Frost had whitewashed the golf-course.

 

We know who is always out there,

Waiting on the dark side of planets,

The mossed side of trees,

And the green side of apples-

Does he think we were born yesterday?

 

We lay low, like Brer Rabbit

When Mr Fox is around, laughing, because

We could see, over his white fields,

The flank of a hill, like a lion’s haunch,

Lit be his enemy, the sun.

 

                                         Another day,

This day, snatched from the hoard of the old miser,

To unfold and stretch itself like a blue flower.

 

Let us think no more of tomorrow,

Or what is gone, but live to outwit J. Fox,

Plucking each day singly, like ripe fruit.

 

                 – Ruth Dallas –


Dean leads ST poll of Waitaki

November 5, 2008

National’s Otago MP and Waitaki candidate  Jacqui Dean is ahead in a Southland Times poll of the Waitaki Electorate.

In the same poll conducted by The Southland Times leading up to the 2005 election, Mrs Dean led sitting Otago MP David Parker by 8 percentage points and went on to win the then Otago seat by 5.5 per cent, a margin of almost 2000 votes – righting a “blip” from the 2002 election when Mr Parker won the traditionally National electorate.

The Otago electorate no longer exists, with Central Otago and Wanaka now included in the Waitaki electorate.

It now covers 34,888 sqaure kilometres taking in all of Central Otago, Waitaki, Waimate and Mackenzie Districts with bits of the Timaru and Queenstown Lakes Districts.

Activity and publicity so far indicate Jacqui is the only candidate actively seeking both the electorate and party vote and that is reflected in the poll.

In this year’s poll, Mrs Dean leads by 14 percentage points, with 42 per cent of support, compared with 28 per cent support for Mr Parker. Third highest poller was Green Party candidate Oliver Briggs on 2.3 per cent support.

But with a quarter of voters polled still undecided Mr Parker could still take the seat if they swung his way.

Results were closer in the party vote, with 37.7 per cent of voters supporting National, and 31.7 per cent Labour. Act was on 2 per cent and New Zealand First on 1.3 per cent support.

In the 2005 election, National won the party vote in the Otago electorate by 5 per cent over Labour.

A popular MP will always win more support than his or her party because some people will split their votes, giving one to the MP but not giving the second tick to her/his party.

So while I’d expect Jacqui’s popularity to transcend party loyalty I think both she and National will get more support on Satruday than this poll indicates.

It is not a deep blue electorate but 37.7% is about 10 points below the average  support for National in nationwide polls and it would be unusual if Waitaki was that different from the rest of the country.


Property rights 1 government 0

October 31, 2008

The High Court decision against the Crown’s attempt to transfer land occupied under pastoral lease to the Department of Conservation is a victory for farmers and property rights.

High Court judgement has ruled against the Crown for reneging on a deal to offer a special lease to a group of high country farmers.

In 2003 the Commissioner of Crown Lands (CCL) decided to grant a special lease on the expiry of a pastoral occupation licence to the group, known as the Soldiers’ Syndicate.

In 2005 the CCL changed his mind and decided to designate the land, comprising 4,400 hectares in the Hawkdun and Ida ranges near Ranfurly in Otago, as a conservation area. The syndicate appealed to the High Court and was vindicated by the decision released yesterday (30 October).

High Country Accord Chairman Ben Todhunter said:

“This is one of three court cases where high country farming families are defending their legal rights against the Crown, or Crown entities.

“Basically, you have a government determined to convert tussock grasslands that have been grazed by farmers for generations into high country parks and reserves. Because the government hasn’t been able to achieve this on the scale it wants through good faith bargaining, ministers and the agencies that report to them, have been abusing legal processes.”

The second case, challenging the government’s decision to charge farmers for amenity values, is being held in Dunedin. The ODT reports on it here, here and here.

The third case is a challenge to property rights by Fish & Game which contends that pastoral leases do not allow farmers to restrict access to their land.


They’re true blue in Oturehua

October 28, 2008

TV 1 is taking the political pulse of the nation on an election road trip.

Tonight they stopped in Oturehua and found 100% support for National.

That isn’t anything to get excited about however, because they only asked three people.

The last time I stopped in Oteurehua was in January for a National Party branch AGM. We adjourned to the pub which had a very good array of Central Otago wines which the publicans explained was a result of demand from cyclists on the rail trail.


Rolls down, schools to close?

October 5, 2008

The wholesale closure of rural and provincial schools by then Education Minister Trevor Mallard was a major contributer to the Labour losing so much support in the provinces at the 2005 election.

By then the government had put a moratorium on school closures, but it was too late. Children were having to travel much further to school, classrooms were overcrowded, communities which lost schools also lost their focus and those affected made their feelings clear at the ballot box.

Because of that the ODT headline Southern school rolls to plummet  will have been greeted with no enthusiasm at all by the government.

The story which follows shows Ministry of Education roll projections based on birth numbers from Statistics New Zealand:

. . . the number of 3 to 4 year-olds will decline in the Waitaki (-0.4%), Dunedin (-2%), Southland (-2.7%), Clutha (-5%) and Gore (-8.8%) territorial authorities between June this year and 2011 . . . 

The drops contrast with a predicted nationwide rise of 9.4% in the number of pre-schoolers.

A decline in pupil numbers of up to 8.8% will impact on schools. However, this time the suggestion that some might have to close isn’t coming from politicians or bureaucrats:

New Zealand Principals Federation president and Balclutha School principal Paddy Ford said Otago and Southland schools needed to take heed of the figures.

“They might need to look at amalgamation. It doesn’t go down well with schools to say this, but we do have to look at ways of providing the best education we can deliver.”

Talk of school closures usually produces more heat than light and it is often those who no longer have pre-school or school age children who protest most strongly. Those whose offspring are at or nearly at school tend to look at what’s best for the children and sometimes that means school closures and amalgamations.

Schools can reach a tipping point because when the roll drops so does the number of teachers. Parents then decide their chidlren are better off at a bigger school even if it means longer on a bus to get there and the roll drops further until the school is no longer viable.

The concern in rural areas though is that roll projections based on birth numbers don’t necessarily reflect the reality, especially if there is a lot of dairying which has a big change in staff at the end of one season and start of another.

Some schools have more than a 30% change in their rolls over Gpysy weekend at the end of May and a few families moving in or out of a school catchment can have a big impact on pupil numbers.

While schools can provide a focus for a community that’s not a reason to keep a school open if a roll decline means its no longer meeting the educational needs of its pupils. The difficulty is that the Ministry has to work on historical figures and projections which don’t always paint the whole picture.

However, if the projections are accurate, Paddy Ford says declining rolls wouldn’t be all bad news because there is a shortage of teachers.

And while the projections for some southern districts are for falling rolls, huge increases are forecast for the Queenstown Lakes (29.7%), Central Otago (14.2%) and Invercargill (11.4%) areas.


The Way Is Is

July 18, 2008

 

That you love nature is easy to say

Until you learn that unless you act accordingly

It will call you to account in the end.

                                         That’s why

we’re required to make the connection

between the sound the wind makes

when it starts the leaves quivering

and the way the white canes of sunlight

line the spaces between the trees

on a summer’s morning.

                         It’s a case

of working out what’s here

for the long haul

and if we want to be part of it.

It’s marvellous, abominable, confusing,

exultant: the way things are,

the way is is.

 

– Brian Turner –

 

Another offering for Montana Poetry Day. Turner lives in the Maniototo, Central Otago.

 


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