100% kill in rat trap trial

March 3, 2014

Good news from DOC:

In wonderful news for birdlife, NZ developed automatic rat traps have totally eliminated predator rat populations during large-scale Department of Conservation (DOC) trials in native New Zealand bush.

Results just in from large-scale DOC trial sites confirm that the patented automatic trap technology developed by local company Goodnature has successfully reduced rat populations to undetectable levels.

Recent monitoring at the two large scale trial sites by DOC field personnel confirmed zero percent (0%) rat monitoring rates indicating rat populations in these areas had been completely eliminated.

The unprecedented 0% rat detection results contrasted with monitoring results on the adjacent comparison sites which showed that rat populations outside the automatic trap trial area continued to thrive.

This is excellent news at a time when the predicted rat population explosion threatens native birdlife in New Zealand forests. Kiwi innovation has produced another potent weapon in the war on pests and, importantly, a further option in the armoury which is toxin free and cost effective to deploy.

“The DOC trial results are consistent with what our customers in other parts of the world are achieving with our traps” says Stu Barr, director of Goodnature who make and supply the A24 automatic resetting traps. “The traps are reducing rat populations well below the level where our vulnerable and endangered species can rebound. We’ve taken the pressure off the birds and put it back on the rats.”

While being used effectively in New Zealand for rat, stoat and possum control, farther afield, Goodnature is applying its technology to pests in more than 15 countries. As well as widespread success in rat control around the world, automatic resetting traps to control introduced mongoose in Hawaii and mink in Scandinavia are in development.

Powered by a small compressed CO2 canister the commercially successful Goodnature traps automatically reset themselves after striking a pest and can kill up to 24 rats before the canister needs to be replaced. The multiple-kill traps include an effective long-life rodent lure which attracts rats to the trap.

“The traps are mostly known for our automatic resetting and multi kill technology but, just like fishing, an irresistible bait is critical to get a catch. This latest trial result shows how effective our rodent lure is in the field” said Stu Barr.

Pest control tools which can wipe out predator populations and sustain them at low numbers are critical to ongoing pest control efforts on public conservation land and efforts by the wider conservation community. The sustained control of predators allows native bird species to successfully breed and increase their populations.

“These rat kill results are very promising. It is a significant step towards having a better and more effective trapping option for predator control in New Zealand.” DOC Deputy Director General Kevin O’Connor commented.

Research and development of automatic resetting traps was originally initiated by Goodnature with DOC in 2006 to strengthen New Zealand’s ability to control pests at times when existing ground based networks using traditional tools would get overwhelmed at times when predator numbers rise rapidly. . .

The traps won’t be able to be used everywhere but they look like a good option where they can be used.


1080 myths dispelled

January 24, 2014

Wilderness magazine says it’s time to end the 1080 debate once and for all:

Opponents to the aerial use of 1080 should stop scaremongering and start thinking of better alternatives, say leading independent experts.

The experts, interviewed in the February issue of Wilderness magazine, have categorically dispelled many of the myths surrounding use of the poison. These myths include the idea that it kills kiwi, gets into our water supplies, threatens native bird populations and is no more effective than trapping and hunting.

Editor of Wilderness Alistair Hall believes it’s vital to stamp out rumours especially at a time when beech mast threatens many of the country’s rarest species. DOC’s preparing to launch a 1080 attack on rats, mice and stoats after predictions a bumper summer of beech flowering will lead to a huge increase of the predators later in the year.

“It’s time to get a few things straight,” said Hall. “1080 has never killed a kiwi, it has never been found in a drinking water supply and only one person has ever been killed by the poison – and that was in the 1960s.

“It’s not us who are saying this, it’s every expert we’ve spoken to. We made sure we picked people who are independent, rather than those who represent one side of the argument. The experts were unanimous in saying there’s currently no viable alternative when it comes to controlling pests on a large scale and that, without 1080, many of our native species would only exist on off-shore islands and intensively protected pockets on the mainland.”

Wilderness spoke to Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr James Ross, senior lecturer in wildlife management at Lincoln University, and Penny Fisher from Landcare Research.

Each expert was presented with 10 commonly held beliefs and asked to state whether they’re true or not based on what is currently known about the toxin.
“It’s fascinating to read what they have to say,” said Hall. “I often hear the argument that there hasn’t been enough research conducted on 1080 to determine whether it’s safe or not. In actual fact, there’s been continuous research since the 1950s.

“It’s so important to get this message across. As a tramping community we want to hear and see native birds and plants when we head into the backcountry. It’s clear to us, having spoken to those in the know, that using 1080 is the only way to ensure we can continue to do this.”

Full interviews with the experts are in the February issue of Wilderness magazine, available in shops from today and online here.

Animals targeted by 1080 endanger native flora and fauna they also carry TB which is a risk to animal and human health.

Where alternatives to 1080 can be used they are. But in many areas, including those of dense bush, there is no viable alternative to it.


Rural round-up

January 4, 2014

MP: Tractor protest well worth it – Sue O’Dowd:

The retiring politician who once drove a tractor up the steps of Parliament would do it all again.

Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern famously gunned the tractor called Myrtle up Parliament’s steps in a 2003 protest against the Labour Government’s proposed flatulence tax on ruminants. It was later described as the single most effective protest in scuttling what was deemed an idiotic proposal.

Today Ardern is still incensed the Government sacked eminent ruminant scientists conducting research into harnessing methane emission to improve production, even as it was proposing to tax those emissions.

“The scientists were working on something that would potentially overcome the problem, but the Labour Government sacked them because it wanted to introduce a tax on the productive sector that drives the economy of New Zealand.

“It was a lie and it still is a lie. [The proposed tax] was nothing to do with environmental problems. It was about getting extra revenue from the productive sector and it was about wealth redistribution. . .

Fonterra scare could have been prevented- Catherine Harris:

The botched Fonterra botulism scare in August last year might have been prevented if an independent food safety centre had existed, a top toxicologist says.

Professor Ian Shaw, of the University of Canterbury, is among those to welcome the idea of a $5 million food safety centre, which was recommended last month by a government inquiry into New Zealand’s food safety systems.

Shaw, who has chaired a food safety body in the UK, said the Government’s proposal was “a bloody good idea”.

If there had been a food safety centre in place when the Fonterra scare occurred, the test results might have been known more quickly and the false alarm possibly avoided, he said. . .

Sheep injures man:

A man has been airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital with serious chest injuries after being ‘‘rammed’’ by a sheep on a farm north of Hunterville.

Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter pilot Lance Burns said the man did not appear to have been trampled but had obviously been headbutted relatively hard by the sheep.

It was thought he was in a pen with the sheep at the time of the incident.

He stabilised by St John paramedics on board the rescue helicopter and arrived at Palmerston North Hospital in a serious condition. . .

DOC targets rats to help save struggling bats – Neil Ratley:

The Department of Conservation is going in to bat for a critically endangered mammal species in Fiordland.

A low count of long-tailed bats in the Kepler Mountains is prompting DOC to design and undertake rat control to protect the rare species.

The rat control will emulate that undertaken by DOC in the Eglington Valley, the only other known long-tailed bat habitat in Fiordland.

There was excitement surrounding the discovery of the long-tailed bat colony near the Kepler track in December 2011, with DOC staff estimating the population was close to 70. . .

The Myth About Seed Choice – Foodie Farmer:

I recently had a twitter conversation on a topic that seemed to perpetuate an urban myth – that farmers do not have a choice when it comes to planting seed or that seed companies “impose” their seeds on farmers, as if it is a dictatorship… Last time I checked, America was a pretty free country. Most people are able to make choices on what they buy at the store… So why would that be different for farmers?

As a family farm, we grow both GMO (we don’t actually use this term but for the sake of this blog, am using it for the reader for whom it may be a descriptor) and non-GMO crops and choose our seed produced from a variety of different seed companies, buying directly from our neighbors, which frankly, is the whole point of the fabric of rural America. We support one another. . .

Donkey meat contamination scare in China’s Walmart – Horsetalk:

Several Walmart outlets in China have withdrawn “five-spice donkey meat” after tests revealed the presence of fox meat.

The company is helping authorities in eastern Shandong province investigate the Chinese supplier.

Walmart confirmed it found traces of DNA from animals other than donkey after testing the product. The Shandong Food and Drug Administration had been reported as saying the product contained fox meat. . .


Rural round-up

November 4, 2013

Few farms in foreign hands says English – Alan Wood:

Foreign investment in New Zealand farmland, including dairy farms, remains relatively low and has significant safeguards, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Some investment, including that in the Crafar farms in the North Island by the Chinese, has raised the hackles of some Kiwis.

For example, Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa spokesman Murray Horton says he is firmly against ownership of New Zealand land by foreigners, whether they be Chinese, American, Australian or British.

Last month the China-based Shanghai Pengxin Group announced a takeover bid for Synlait Farms, in association with two of Synlait’s founders, John Penno and Juliet Maclean. . .

The Industrialisation of American Dairying and the Implications for New Zealand: Keith Woodford:

The ‘handout notes’ that follow were written  for a Lincoln University Dairy Farm Focus Day on 10 October 2013. These focus days are held every two months. This one was attended by about 200 farmers and rural professionals. I gave the presentation as Lincoln’s Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness, standing on a trailer out in the paddock – so basically it was all ad libbed without visual aids. Actually,  sometimes it is fun to talk without the distraction of powerpoints!

Background

  • The American dairy industry is rapidly transforming to an industrial model based on large scale (>2000 cow) mega farms.
  • As of 2013, approximately 40% of American production comes from 800 mega farms.
  • Another 30% comes from a further 2500 farms, each with between 500 and 2,000 cows.
  • The final 30% comes from more than 50,000 farms with less than 500 cows
  • The mega farms have costs of production that are much lower than the smaller farms. . .

 

Farming robot could bring the cows in – Jill Galloway:

“Like a four-wheel-drive wheelchair on steroids” is how Andrew Manderson describes his Agri-Rover.

He designed the prototype farm robot which was built by a team from AgResearch and Lincoln University, using industrial parts and costing $4000.

It was a robust machine and had a powerful engine, said Dr Manderson.

It would comfortably trundle around a paddock, so long as it didn’t encounter a gradient of more than 20 degrees.

He said it had a top speed of 5kmh, but with a few adjustments it could really motor.

(Click on the link above to see a video of the robot in action)

Winning the battle against boxthorn pest – Ruth Grundy:

Graeme Loh is the first to admit he is more ”exterminator” than ”nurturer”.

He is the Department of Conservation (Doc) ranger who oversees one of the country’s newest reserves, a prominent and ancient limestone outcrop at Gards Rd, between Duntroon and Kurow.

He said his main focus was to eradicate an aggressive exotic invader – boxthorn – which threatened to appropriate this national treasure.

”People don’t realise how bad a weed it is and how difficult it is to remove.” . . .

Farmsafe says quad bike research backs roll bars – Anna Vidot:

Farm safety advocates say the science is in, and now is the time to start encouraging people to use quad bikes with roll bars.

Manufacturers of the vehicles have long argued that crush protection bars cause more injuries than they prevent, and take the focus away from other safety measures like helmets and proper training.

But Farmsafe Australia says there’s mounting evidence that crush protection bars are more likely to save a life than not, if a quad bike rolls. . . .

Dogs queue up for aversion training -

Kiwi advocate Lesley Baigent  was  gratified by the response  to Saturday’s kiwi aversion  training session for dogs at the
Raetea reserve, at the northern foot of the Mangamuka  Gorge.

Dogs were literally queuing  up to undergo the training,  which involves a special collar  delivering an electric shock at  the appropriate moment to  persuade the dogs that kiwi  are best left alone. Success rates varied, Lesley said, and there were certainly  no expectations of 100 per  cent. . . .


Rural round-up

October 31, 2013

Irrigation benefits all clear – Andrew Ashton:

The benefits North Otago communities continue to receive from local irrigation schemes have been highlighted to two Government Ministers.

The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC) yesterday invited Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew to tour irrigation schemes across North Otago, and Mr Guy said the tour, which took in farms and irrigation schemes between Weston and Glenavy, had reinforced the ”huge benefits” of irrigation to North Otago. . . .

Another benefit to the area would be if New Zealand’s sharpest town, #gigatownoamaru becomes the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.

– Allan Barber:

When Eoin Garden retires as Silver Fern Farms’ chairman at the AGM in December, both cooperatives will have had a change at the top within three months of each other. So the big question is whether this will make any difference to the way they operate: will there be a significant change of culture and leadership from the top or will it be much the same as before?

The Meat Industry Excellence Group is obviously hopeful of getting its preferred directors elected to the SFF board with Richard Young, MIE’s chairman until recently, and Poverty Bay farmer Dan Jex-Blake resigning from MIE to stand for election in their respective wards.

There is also one MIE aligned candidate standing for the Alliance board, long time supplier Don Morrison, although Fonterra director John Monaghan was keen to stand, but was rejected by the Alliance board under the terms of the company’s constitution. MIE chairman John McCarthy says “this is a real slap in the face for Alliance shareholders” who want to see change and in his opinion “is typical of what’s wrong with the meat industry.” . . .

Irrigation progress welcomed in Otago and Rangitikei:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming new investment of $750,000 into irrigation projects in Central Otago, and $100,000 in the Rangitikei, coming from the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“There is major unrealised potential across the country for further irrigation development, and these two projects will help unlock that.

“This is about creating jobs and exports, particularly in provincial New Zealand. It will play a major part in realising the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025.”

The Central Otago funding will go towards backing the next stage of the Manuherikia Catchment Strategic Water Study. . .

Scientists redesigning orchards to increase fruit production:

Research that will literally shed more light on fruit trees could revolutionise the way crops such as apples are grown.

Plant and Food Research scientists are investigating new orchard planting systems, putting to the test the theory that trees and vines that receive more light could produce a lot more fruit.

Research leader Stuart Tustin says it could mean completely changing the way orchards are designed to allow more light to reach the trees’ canopies. . .

Dr Nigel Perry wins NZIC prize:

Plant & Food Research’s Dr. Nigel Perry has been awarded the 2013 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Prize for Industrial and Applied Chemistry. Dr Perry was recognised for his focus on the discovery and development of biologically active natural products.

With his colleagues in Plant & Food Research and the Chemistry Dept of the University of Otago, he has combined fundamental chemistry knowledge with a drive to establish practical applications. Nigel works with medical and agricultural researchers, Māori groups, and New Zealand and international companies.

He is an inventor on six patents, including one on an insect attractant now in commercial use around the world. Much of this work is documented in confidential technical reports to clients, but he has also published many papers on applied chemistry, on three main themes: . . .

New funding for plant science:

Plant & Food Research has received funding for two projects in the latest Marsden fund which will study how plants grow and adapt, fundamental science that will ultimately inform future crop breeding and growing practices.

One of the projects will investigate how ancient plant ancestors may have adapted to an environment with high UV radiation, providing better understanding of how plants may respond to future climate change.

“The emergence of plants onto land was one of Earth’s major evolutionary events, but at that time the environment had a number of challenges, including high levels of damaging UV radiation,” says Dr Kevin Davies. “Our research will look at liverworts, the closest living relative of the first land plants, and study how these plants adapt the production of pigment molecules to counteract the effects of UV. This will, in turn, provide some understanding of how plants may adapt and respond to shifts in environmental conditions as a result of predicted global climate change.” . . .

Wakatipu partnership to target wilding pines:

A partnership between DOC, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, LINZ and the local community aims to clear thousands of hectares of wilding pines in the Wakatipu Basin over the next five years, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“Wilding pines are a significant risk to the natural ecology of the Wakatipu Basin. This partnership is about stepping up the efforts to control these tree weeds and protect the landscapes that make Queenstown such an iconic visitor destination,” Dr Smith told a meeting of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) in Queenstown this evening.

“This project illustrates the benefits of DOC’s new focus on partnering with others to deliver conservation gains. These tree weeds are as much of a problem on private and council land as they are on public conservation land. It makes sense that we have a co-ordinated effort to control their spread, maximise the use of new technology, and work together to roll back the infestation,” he says. . .


Smith vindicated

October 24, 2013

Speaker David Carter has dismissed Labour’s breach of privileges complaint alleging Conservation Minister Nick Smith interfered in DOC’s decision-making over its submission on the Tukituki catchment project.

“The Speaker’s dismissal of Labour’s complaint confirms that the accusations of political interference were unfounded and untrue. Labour and the Greens should apologise because they got it wrong,” Dr Smith says.

“The truth of the situation is as I have said all along. There were differences of opinion within DOC over whether the Tukituki catchment proposal would have beneficial or adverse effects for water quality. A decision was made by senior managers, after meeting with the regional council and scientific advisors from NIWA, not to pursue a critical submission because they were satisfied NIWA’s science was robust and because it would take considerable resource to challenge and overturn the science before the Board of Inquiry.

“DOC’s Deputy Director General Doris Johnston has also said on the public record that she made the decision not to submit the critical leaked draft submission, that I did not play any role in her decision-making, that she did not know my view, and that I never saw the document.

“The untrue claims about political interference in DOC’s submission has been a distraction from the important work of the Board of Inquiry into the pros and cons of the Tukituki proposal. My hope is that the Greens and Labour will drop their silly conspiracy theories and let the board get on and hear the submissions and evidence in order to make well-informed decisions on this significant project.”

In attempting to hurt the Minister Labour was also questioning the integrity of the senior civil servant who repeatedly said the decision on the submission was hers without any knowledge of his view.

Whoever leaked the report was on a crusade, Labour joined it in an attempt to discredit the Minister and they’ve failed.

He’s been vindicated.

His letter to the Speaker is here.


Rural round-up

September 16, 2013

Drought unlikely to trigger recession – James Weir:

The summer drought is likely to have the economy knocked backwards in the June quarter, possibly down 0.2 per cent, though there is no risk of a slide into recession, economists say.

While the official figures will be “unflattering” for the economy, after subdued growth of just 0.3 per cent in the March quarter, there should be a strong bounce in the September quarter forecasters say.

Official figures for economic growth are due on Thursday. They are expected to show the full damage from a slump in milk production and a drop in livestock slaughter numbers, after a spike up earlier in the year because of the drought. . .

Windy weather creates lambing headaches - Tim Cronshaw:

Gale-force winds have made life difficult for newborn lambs, and hill country farmers have their fingers crossed that the good luck for lambing on the Canterbury Plains lasts for them.

The lambing beat officially starts today for the hill and high country, and farmers there have watched lambs in the down country come through with a good run.

Survival rates have been high so far, although some mismothering was expected as a result of last Tuesday’s howling nor’westers, preventing lambs from moving and seeking warmth from ewes. . .

No evidence tail docking detrimental:

Preliminary findings of research into tail docking by Alliance Group have found that leaving a lamb’s tail longer or intact has no long-term beneficial or detrimental effect on its growth rate.

The southern-based company has just completed the first year of a three-year study.

Tail docking is common practice among New Zealand farmers. It is thought to help reduce dag formation and the risk of fly strike, a major cost to the sheep industry. However, to date there has been little objective information or research on the benefits, or otherwise, of the practice. . .

Fonterra has big plans for China – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra Co-operative Group has played down the implications of the whey contamination scare as it pushes ahead with a plan to double its milk production in China.

Although the world’s largest milk exporter identified some shortcomings in processes during the review, the co-operative says its staff on most occasions acted conscientiously on new information, and generally sought to do the right thing. . .

Need to enshrine horse heritage – Sally Rae:

Department of Conservation policies need to ensure that high country horse heritage is remembered, fostered and supported, horse-trekking enthusiasts say.

The High Country Pleasure Riders group, which was established in 1999 and is the largest horse-trekking club in the South Island, has made submissions to Doc’s draft conservation management strategies in both Canterbury and Otago.

The club has an annual calendar of weekend horse treks throughout the high country, often traversing public conservation land. . .


Rural round-up

May 11, 2013

$3000 colt now worth $1 million – Shawn McAvinue:

A sensitive Middlemarch colt who sold for $3000 is putting silverware on his rider’s mantelpiece and is now worth more than $1 million.

Clifton Promise, the mount of Jock Paget (29), the winner of the prestigious Badminton horse trials in England, was bred in Middlemarch by Kathryn Abernethy (53), of Mosgiel.

The winning 14-year-old gelding was the offspring of her Middlemarch mare Darn Style and Maheno-based American stallion Engagement. . .

Regional finalist brushing up skills – Sally Rae:

Life has been hectic lately for Dean Rabbidge.

Mr Rabbidge (27) will represent Otago-Southland in the grand final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Auckland later this month.

When he was not busy working on the farm, he could be found in the office, ”head down in the books”, he said. While at times the extra work could feel a little overwhelming, at other times it felt like he had it under control. . .

Beyond Reasonable Drought:

First the long drought, then the torrential rain – farming in Northland isn’t for the fainthearted! It takes guts to keep going in spite of the weather, the high dollar, and rising prices.

But it takes more than just guts to make a profit. It takes planning, flexibility, and the ability to assess the profitability of “what if” scenarios accurately and quickly.

In the past a farm’s annual financial accounts, probably at least a year old by they time they were completed, were the only way farmers had of deciding whether what they were doing was profitable. That is totally inadequate for today’s farm businesses. . .

Government and fishing industry trial technology:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Department of Conservation (DOC), in partnership with the fishing industry, have recently trialled an electronic monitoring programme in the Timaru set net fishery.

The trial used electronic monitoring technology to automatically record information such as vessel location and interactions between set net fishing vessels and protected species, including Hector’s dolphins. Electronic monitoring involves using on board sensors, cameras and GPS receivers. . .

Rare breed proves real hit with judges -

Colin Lyon hopes more beef farmers will consider trying his rare breed of cattle after making it to the Steak of Origin semifinals for the second time in three years.

He was a semifinalist in this year’s competition with his braunvieh/angus cross entry.

The Steak of Origin aims to find the most tender and tasty sirloin steak in New Zealand. The finalists were decided by a panel of judges in Christchurch yesterday.

His entry was a 27-month heifer, which had a carcass weight of 345 kilograms. . .

Astronuats boost Waikato milking:

Gavin and Susan Weal have become the latest dairy farmers to enter the space age by employing Astronaut A4 robots, made by Lely, on their Pokuru farm near Te Awamutu.

The Weals decided to spend nearly $1 million on three robots when they were faced with building a new dairy shed for next season when they sell 44 hectares of their Candy Rd family farm west of Te Awamutu.

From June 1, the Weals will milk 200 cows on 73ha, having previously milked 280 cows on 117ha. . .

Invivo Wines Awarded Gold Medals At World’s Largest On-trade Focused Competition:

New Zealand’s Invivo Wines has been awarded prestigious gold medals for both their Invivo 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 Invivo Central Otago Pinot Noir at the world’s largest on-trade focused wine competition, The 2013 Sommelier Wine Awards recently held in London.  

The tasting panel for the Sommelier Wine Awards reads like a Who’s Who of the UK hotel, restaurant and sommelier scene, with a total of over 80 judges from some of the UK’s top establishments taking part in judging over 1800 wine entries. . .


Does DOC have too much land?

March 30, 2013

The job losses at DOC will be difficult for those affected but Director General Al Morrison says:

. . .  the new structure will maintain DOC’s own conservation delivery work while setting the department up to work more effectively with external partners.

“DOC must adapt if it is going to meet the conservation challenges that New Zealand faces – even if you doubled DOC’s budget tomorrow we would still be going ahead with this proposal.” . . .

There is no way the department’s budget could double in the current economic climate but has anyone asked why it would need to?

Could it have anything to do with the many thousands of extra hectares that have been added to the conservation estate under tenure review?

The costs of looking after the land are high enough when it’s part of a farming operation, the costs will be higher when done in isolation as DOC has to.

Left wing environment groups are upset at the prospect of the job losses but they are also the ones which advocate for more pastoral lease land to be retired under tenure review without any thought of the extra costs this imposes on DOC.

They also don’t acknowledge that the reason the land they want retired has high conservation values is due to the care of successive lessees and that if they were permitted to continue to care for it they would do so at no cost to the taxpayer.


Rural round-up

March 17, 2013

Alumni awards honour Luxton:

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton has been honoured by Massey University at its Distinguished Alumni awards.

Luxton, QSO, a former MP and current Dairy NZ chairman, received the supreme honour, the Sir Geoffrey Peren Medal.

Named after Massey’s founding principal, the award recognises a graduate who has reached the highest level of achievement in business or professional life or who has been of significant service to the university, community or nation. . .

Alliance confident about lamb sales in northern markets -

Southland-based meat processor the Alliance Group is quietly confident of a better season for meat sales in the pivotal Easter trade in northern hemisphere markets.

The last shipments of the company’s meat products for the Easter markets left New Zealand early in February and were still in transit, said chief executive Grant Cuff.

“We’ve only had early indications from those markets, but we’re more optimistic this Easter than we were last Easter,” he said.

Lamb prices were very high in northern hemisphere markets last Easter and customers were more pessimistic, with high unemployment and a lot of uncertainty around the world. . .

Working on quality - Terri Russell:

Southland meat processor Alliance Group is working on new initiatives after a visit from leading British retailer Marks and Spencer last month.

It was the retailer’s first visit since agreeing on an exclusive supply deal late last year. Marks and Spencer representatives visited the company’s Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to look at processing techniques and product specifications.

Alliance Group, in partnership with Marks and Spencer, will work together to improve shelf life and quality of product.

Alliance Group general manager marketing Murray Brown said the initiatives offered opportunities for farmer-suppliers. . .

Five star treatment for Camelot cows – Michelle Nelson:

In the shadow of the Mid Canterbury foothills lies a modern-day Camelot, where something magical is happening – huge super cows are milked by robots, and a dedicated team of humans attends to their every need.

Camelot Robotic Dairy Farm is owned by the Beeston family’s Blumoon Trust, and is a place where animal welfare and sustainable farming practices are kept at the forefront of decision making.

At 26, Frances Beeston manages the state-of-the-art robotic dairy farm, home to the Blumoon Holstein Fresian and Triann Brown Swiss studs. She says life doesn’t get much better.

The daughter of Bryan and Annette Beeston, Frances grew up with elite dairy cows, and wasted little time thinking about where her future lay.

“I worked on the farm with Mum and Dad when I was a kid. I had pet calves and loved going out at night to check on cows at calving – I always loved the lifestyle,” she says. . .

Alien weeds feared in imported hay - Terri Russell:

Southland farmers aren’t sending hay north to support drought-ravaged farms – and they would only accept North Island hay if they were “desperate” for the feed.

Truckloads of Canterbury hay have been sent to farmers in the North Island this week to underfed livestock in the drought-affected north.

While transport costs and dry conditions meant Southland farmers had shown no interest in sending hay north, industry leaders said if the situation was reversed farmers would need to be vigilant about hay coming to Southland. They did not want unwanted weeds in the hay to spread through the region. . . .

DoC tries to leave none behind – Tim Fulton:

Canterbury conservator Mike Cuddihy has a favourite song lyric, “I’ll be holding all the tickets and you’ll be owning all the fines”. Tim Fulton meets a top manager at the Department of Conservation.

Some trophy hunters shoot the bull tahr but leave the females behind to breed in great numbers, Mike Cuddihy has noticed.

His incidental comment on wild game captures his view of responsibility for the “huge canvas” of the environment.

DoC will happily work behind the scenes in conservation but the onus goes in all directions, the Canterbury regional manager says.

In the South Island high country, where DoC is a large landowner rubbing shoulders routinely with farmers, the bush-talk has been of a fractious relationship. . .


Fonterra, DOC partner to clean waterways

March 8, 2013

Fonterra and the Department of Conservation have  announced a $20 million community investment to improve the natural habitats of some key waterways aver the next decade.

As part of Fonterra’s Living Water initiatives, Fonterra Director John Monaghan and the Minister of Conservation Hon Dr Nick Smith officially launched the 10-year investment this morning at Lake Areare, a Peat Lake in the Waikato. The investment will initially focus on five key catchments in significant dairying regions.

Mr Monaghan said Fonterra and DOC will work together to make these waterways living examples of how dairy farming and natural New Zealand environments can work alongside each other.

“Our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands are important to every New Zealander. Today’s announcement is about investing time and resources to improve their quality so that we can all enjoy our natural environment at its best and ensure this can occur alongside a sustainable dairy industry.”

 DOC Director General Al Morrison said quality waterways are pivotal to maintaining the healthy environments which protect native wildlife and also underpin a sustainable dairy industry.

“We all realise that our waterways need ongoing support and it makes perfect sense for DOC to be working with New Zealand’s largest dairy co-operative to improve water catchment health.

“By working together, we can deliver additional conservation gains in some of our most sensitive catchments.”

Initially, Fonterra and DOC will work with local communities to make a difference to the water quality at five waterways:
• Kaipara Harbour
• Firth of Thames
• Waikato Peat Lakes
• Te Waihora-Lake Ellesmere
• Awarua-Waituna

As the expert in conservation and biodiversity, DOC will work with Fonterra, local communities, iwi and farmers to help clean up waterways and wetlands at the five selected catchment areas. This will include planting trees alongside streams and rivers to improve water quality, managing pests and weeds and making sure that the right habitats are in place around farms to enhance biodiversity and provide homes for native fish and birds.

Mr Monaghan said the work with DOC will build on the good progress made by Fonterra’s Catchment Care programme, which has seen improvements to two million square metres of land and waterways through planting, weeding and other volunteer work over the past three years.

“Working together with DOC is part of Fonterra’s Living Water initiative and the long-term commitment we are making to do what’s right for the land and waterways in their communities,” he said.

Mr Monaghan said that while improving water quality and on-farm water management practices has been a priority for Fonterra and our farmers for a number of years, the dairy industry still has work to do.

“This initiative with DOC is part of our ongoing determination through all of our Living Water initiatives to work together, and engage with local communities to make a real difference to the health of waterways.”

Local Waikato farmer, Bas Nelis, said it is great that Fonterra is working on both sides of the farm gate to make a difference to water quality and the environment.

“I believe farming is going to be here for a long time ahead of us, I’m still young so I want to look after this farm for the next generation, for my kids, to make sure it is sustainable for the future.”

Conservation Minister Nick Smith describes this initiative as a major break-through:

“Fonterra’s commitment of $20m is the largest ever corporate contribution to conservation work. It will fund a massive programme to be undertaken with communities to restore wetland habitats, better control nutrients, reduce pests and weeds and enhance native wildlife,” Dr Smith says.

“The investment is important but the partnership is even more significant. The greatest benefit from this DOC/Fonterra agreement is getting conservationists and farmers side-by-side in their local communities doing the practical work to improve waterways. . .

“DOC and Fonterra working so closely together will come as a bit of a shock for some conservationists and farmers who see the two groups as protagonists and not partners. This is DOC wanting to help Fonterra succeed as New Zealand’s largest exporting business and major land user and Fonterra adding its muscle to DOC’s critical work caring for the natural environment.

“This partnership is part of the Government’s Bluegreen agenda of drawing business and conservation closer together to support economic growth and jobs while protecting our natural environment and great Kiwi lifestyle,” Dr Smith says. . .

The Sustainable Business Council says the partnership demonstrates a recognition by business of its dependence and impact on ecosystem services:

“Without fresh, quality water, it’s not just our environment that will suffer, but our economy too,” says Penny Nelson, Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Council.

“Fonterra plays a major role in New Zealand’s primary industry-based economy, and this initiative to improve the biodiversity and water values in some of the catchment areas it affects is exciting. It’s really encouraging to see business’s commitment to conservation partnerships scaling up. We fully support this new partnership and look forward to seeing more New Zealand companies engaging with DOC in this manner.

“Fonterra and DOC are actively engaged in the Sustainable Business Council’s ecosystem services work programme. There are some really useful corporate tools & training that have been developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development which are starting to be used in New Zealand”.

The response isn’t entirely positive though, the Green Party shows its bias against business in general and dairying and Fonterra in particular:

Through budget cuts the National Government is forcing the Department of Conservation (DOC) to rely on handouts from companies like Fonterra, the co-operative behind one of New Zealand’s most polluting industries, Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today. . .

“DOC has a responsibility under the Conservation Act to advocate for nature to protect the rivers, lakes and streams that Kiwi’s love and native fish and invertebrates that live in them. This agreement puts that at risk.

“The continued restructuring and downsizing of DOC with loss of technical and field staff and closure of area offices also risks staff being diverted from other tasks to work on the five Fonterra projects.

“National Government funding cuts mean DOC has to beg for money while environmental NGOs and community organisations attempt to do key parts of DOC’s work.

“The Conservation Department should be funded adequately so it can pursue its own priorities and not be steered into projects that corporates want.

“If Fonterra really wanted to do something for the environment it could work to restrain the growth of intensive dairying and stop dairy expansion in sensitive catchments like the Mackenzie Basin and Southland’s Waituna Lagoon.”

The Green Party is quick to criticise any business for a negative impact on the environment and is incapable of acknowledging the good a partnership like this could do.

It would rather spend taxpayers money than accept help from business but appears not to realise that the money the government gives to DOC comes from taxes paid by businesses including Fonterra and individual taxpayers including dairy farmers.

The party is so blinkered it can’t see past its anti-business, anti-dairying bias  to the environmental benefits from this initiative.

DOC and Fonterra in partnership will do more to improve waterways than either could do separately and at far less cost to the taxpayer.


Rural round-up

December 7, 2012

Feeding East Asia:

The importance of the East Asia region as the most significant market for many New Zealand and Australian food and fibre products is set to grow in coming years, highlighted more recently by the global economic downturn, according to Rabobank.

In a recent report titled, ‘Feeding East Asia’, Rabobank senior analyst Marc Soccio says the global and economic downturn has sharpened the focus onto the East Asian region as it continues to expand its slice of the global economic pie, offering opportunities no longer available in traditional markets as incomes grow and diets change in fundamental ways. . .

Fonterra seeks consent to build ‘Darfield-sized’ milk powder plant at Pahiatua site:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest exporter of dairy products, is seeking consents to build a new milk powder plant at Pahiatua, more than doubling output from the site and mopping up surplus milk in the lower North Island.

The third drier at Pahiatua would process 2.5 million litres of milk a day, making it a similar size to its new 2.2 million litre-a-day plant at Darfield in Canterbury. The two existing driers at Pahiatua process 1.4 million litres a day, forcing Fonterra to send a further 1.6 million litres by rail to its Whareroa plant. . .

New welfare code to phase out battery cages:

Battery cages for layer hens are to be phased out under a new Code of Welfare released today by Primary Industries Minister David Carter.

From tomorrow (7 December), no new battery cages can be installed by egg producers and a staged phase-out of existing cages will begin.  By 2022, all battery cages will be prohibited.

“Scientific evidence and strong public opinion have made it clear that change is necessary.  We need alternatives to battery cages,” says Mr Carter. . .

Hemp Foods Coming Soon:

 Ashburton based company Oil Seed Extractions Ltd (OSE) has reached another milestone in its rapid rise as the Southern hemisphere’s leading producer and supplier of specialty seed oils and related oilseed products. This milestone relates to a new addition to the companies well established product range – hulled hemp seed.

Following on from other pioneering milestones in its short company history, OSE has become the first NZ company to produce hulled hemp seed in this country. Managing director Andrew Davidson was delighted with the quality of the product produced and was excited at the outcome in the company’s 10th year of business. “It’s great to be involved with the production of such a high quality and nutritious product and it’s even more rewarding for the business knowing the seed has been grown locally in Mid Canterbury, with complete traceability from the planting of the seed, through to the processing and packing of the final finished product”. . .

Nufarm earnings to rise at least 15% on Sth America, currency gains:

Agricultural chemicals manufacturer Nufarm says first-half earnings will rise at least 15% on improved trading in South America and Europe, and foreign exchange gains.

A strong performance in South America and an improved outcome in Europe “will more than offset what is likely to be a weaker first half result in Australia,” managing director Doug Rathbone told shareholders at their annual meeting in Melbourne.

“We remain very confident of generating an improved underlying ebit outcome for the current full year,” he says. . .

Pesky varmints - Wayne Linklater:

Did you know New Zealand has a pest problem?”

New Zealand is waking up from a nightmare to discover it is real. At least 2788 New Zealand species are threatened with extinction. Our iconic native species and their habitats are in trouble because they are being eaten by introduced pests. Cats, rats, possums, stoats and several others are a leading reason why New Zealand has one of the world’s worst records of native species extinction.

We should displace our nightmare with a dream. It is fun to dream and share our dreams. Our Department of Conservation (DoC) is dreaming…

Meeting People Best Bit of Dairy Awards:

 The 2012 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year, Mick O’Connor, says the hardest part about the dairy industry awards is actually entering.

“Once you have done that, there’s no looking back.”

Mr O’Connor, who is contract milking 940 cows at Dunsandel for Dairy Holdings, says the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is great.

“We entered for a number of reasons, but mainly to see where our business was at and where improvement was needed. . .

Super premium honey mead wine launched:

The first “super premium” honey mead wine has been launched on the New Zealand market. It is tagged “premium reserve”, and aged with toasted French oak, and wone best in class at the recent national Fruit Wine Competition. Appropriately named “Excaliber”, the back label describes it as “the Holy Grail of honey mead wine.” It is the latest addition to the Bemrose range of mead wine and liqueurs, produced by Wildfern NZ, which also produces premium cocktail liqueurs.

Excaliber is made from a blend of native honeys, including Manuka honey: the rest are secret. “The quality comes from the exacting standard of balance with which we have selected honeys to give depth and richness with spice, lightness, and vanilla undertones: it is made the way you might make a blended red wine from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and a touch of Pinot Meuniere”, explains owner and winemaker, Mark Atkin. . .

Another big lift in the Hawke’s Bay beetroot crop:

Early next week Wattie’s in the Hawke’s Bay will begin harvesting its beetroot crop which, at 22,000 tonne, will be 50 percent up on last year.

Wattie’s Crop Supply Agronomist Tim Agnew says that after some cooler temperatures in early and mid- November, warmer weather has had a dramatic effect on the crop, and it is “really kicking away” now.

“We will be harvesting baby beets from around December 10, and the harvest overall will continue through until May next year, although these plants are not yet in the ground. . .

NZB Karaka Premier Sale Catalogue Now Available

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2013 Karaka Premier Sale catalogue is now available online.

The 2013 Premier Sale catalogue features a hot line-up of 441 yearlings that will be offered over the two-day Sale on Monday 28 & Tuesday 29 January.

With 106 yearlings from stakes-winning mares and 123 siblings to stakes winners, the 2013 Premier Sale features siblings to a number of star performers including:

• 34 siblings to Group 1 winners including the four time Group 1 & 2012 Cox Plate winner Ocean Park (Lot 330) as well as Glamour Puss (Lot 130), Lights of Heaven (Lot 182), El Segundo (Lot 285), Rollout the Carpet (Lot 284), Norzita (Lot 421), Ambitious Dragon (Lot 164) and more. . .


Private activism or politicing by public servants?

October 14, 2012

I came across this on Facebook:

The middle sign warns of the danger of using gas or liquid fuel cookers, heaters and lights without adequate ventilation.

The bottom one reads:

We would have the money to restore this hut if you all stopped voting for that dork John Key.

The sign has the Department of Conservation logo and the bottom but it’s not in DoC’s usual green and yellow colours.

If it was put there by a political activist it’s up to DoC to worry about unauthorised signs on its property.

If it was put up or condoned by a DoC staff member then I’m reminded of what former State Services’ Commission Mark Prebble said in an interview with Kathryn Ryan:

“Public servants have to implement the policies of the government of the day

Many people come to government to try to support a good cause. They don’t realise the one who has to determine which good cause is to be supported is the democratically minister of the day. And quite a lot of departments, not slinging off at their professionalism but say DOC, you get a lot of people who join DOC because they know they want to save a kakapo and if not a kakapo it will be the lesser spotted whatever. And if the lesser spotted whatever is not on the minister’s list of priorities they’ll find it hard to do.

A key part of the role of senior public servants is to explain to them well it is the minister who has to take the heat in public about that and the public servant really isn’t just employed to follow their own interests and if they want to follow their interests they can go and work in the private sector like anyone else. . .

. . . No public servant should be zealous about the particular cause they’re interested in. They should be zealous about democracy and respecting the law. . .”

As for the content of the sign, the message should be directed at the former Prime Minister.

DoC would have the money to restore the hut if she and her  government hadn’t added so much land to the conservation estate and paid well above the market price for much it.

 


1080 killing pests, helping birds

April 27, 2012

Opponents to the use of 1080 to poison pests say it also kills to many native wildlife but a scientific study challenges that contention:

A 50-tonne drop of 1080, carried out by DOC over 25,000 hectares of the Waitutu Forest in southwest Fiordland in October 2010, drew criticism from anti-1080 activists despite what DOC claimed to be “exceptional” findings.

The DOC 1080 programme leader for the Waitutu drop, Colin Bishop, said it came as no surprise that the study was challenging claims about the negative impact on native wildlife.

“The results from the study certainly back up our findings as well as anecdotal evidence from recreational users to what has been happening in the Waitutu Forest since the 1080 drop,” he said.

“It will take a few breeding seasons before the scientific data is conclusive but hunters in particular have said bird life has been the best in a long time.”

Predator numbers, including possums, stoats and rats, have been drastically reduced and this has allowed native birds to respond, Mr Bishop said.

Breeding was less successful in an area where no 1080 was used and predator numbers were higher.

Shooting and trapping are preferable to poison where they can be used but there are vast areas of bush where 1080 is the only practical way to get rid of the predators which threaten native birds.

Opponents claim it takes too big a toll on the species it’s supposed to be protecting but this study indicates that 1080 gets the predators and saves the birds.


What are they conserving?

November 3, 2011

A farmer came across a Department of Conservation ute in the middle of Dansey’s Pass and stopped to find out what it was doing there.

The driver was happy to chat. He was from Dunedin and had been called to come to the aid of an injured hawk on the road near Ngapara. He’d never been through the Dansey’s and since he’d been so close thought he’d take the opportunity to do so.

He said the bird was unlikely to survive but the farmer was welcome to take a look.

He added that if the farmer ever came across an injured hawk on the road he should phone DoC and someone would come and get it.

The farmer didn’t want to take a look and his response to the invitation to ring about an injured bird is best left unwritten. Suffice it to say he wasn’t impressed.

It’s about 133 kilometres from Dunedin to Ngapara by the direct route. It’s nearly 200, and a lot slower, if you take the long way home through the Dansey’s Pass.

That’s a very long and expensive way to go for a bird, even if it was a kahu, a harrier hawk, which is protected.

Whatever the rescuer was conserving it wasn’t his time DoC’s fuel and our money that pays for it.


More deaths without 1080

September 18, 2011

Peter Dunne reckons the death of seven keas from 1080 poisoning is unacceptable.

“DoC currently spends less than $2 million a year on researching and developing alternatives. With that level of investment taxpayers dollars will still be killing kea for many years to come.”

“If we are to save our native bird populations we need to substantially increase the amount of funding available to develop anti-1080 alternatives. DoC and other agencies responsible for pest control need to significantly contribute to this out of their existing budgets,” said Mr Dunne.

DoC’s budget is already overstretched. One of the reasons for that is the large amount of extra land added to the conservation estate by the previous government in which Dunne was a minister.

Alternatives to 1080 would be good but until we get some using the poison is the lesser of two evils.

While no deaths of native birds should be considered acceptable, not using 1080 would result in more death and destruction.

Trapping and shooting is used to kill possums and other pests where possible but they can’t be used in dense bush and rough terrain.

At the moment 1080 is the best method of control in these areas. Without it uncontrolled populations of pests would kill many more native birds and trees.

He wants DoC


PSA blaming wrong government

June 24, 2011

The Public Service Association is blaming the government for the loss of 100 Department of Conservation jobs.

The PSA is on the right track but has the wrong government. It’s the previous one which is to blame.

Labour made unsustainable increases in the cost of the public service in general and DoC in particular.

It took an aggressive  approach to increasing the conservation estate under the tenure review process, paid ridiculously high prices for high country land but didn’t provide for the extra costs of looking after it.

Now DoC’s budget is overstretched and its staff are paying the price for Labour’s folly.


Rating DoC land shifts costs from ratepayer to taxpayer

June 7, 2011

Federated Farmers is asking for private land which is protected by covenants to be accorded zero-rating status  like DOC land:

Following World Environment Day, Federated Farmers is to ask the Government to put protected areas on private land, such as QEII National Trust type covenants and Significant Natural Areas, on the same footing as the Department of Conservation (DoC) for council rating purposes.

“Since 1977, when Federated Farmers was a driving force behind the QEII National Trust’s formation, well over 111,000 hectares have been voluntarily protected by farmers and landowners,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

“The scale and determination behind this is equivalent to around the area of Egmont and Tongariro National Park’s combined. It’s that significant and it’s completely voluntary.

A great deal of this land could have been surrendered back to the state under tenure review at cost to the taxpayer and benefit to the pastoral leaseholder. It would then not be rated and the cost of weed and pest control, fencing and maintenance would fall on the taxpayer. Since it is privately owned, landowners protect the areas under covenant, control weeds and pests and maintain fences around it to protect biodiversity at their own cost and the land is rated as it its productive.

While covenants are voluntary, councils, under the Resource Management Act, have been requiring landowners to do more or less the same with Significant Natural Areas, or SNA’s.“While many councils have policies for remitting rates on voluntarily protected land, it hinges on a successful case-by-case application and does not apply to SNA’s.

“Time has come to shed light on what landowners are doing and that could easily come by Government backing covenant holders and those landowners with SNA’s.

“That’s as easy as putting protected land on the same footing as DoC land for council rates. Alternatively, if DoC paid council rates on the same basis as everyone else, it would greatly help reduce the financial burden on the rest of the community.

While there is a case for not rating covenanted land as if it is productive, the cost of rates would just be spread over less land if its rating value was reduced or zero-rated.

Rating Doc Land might be a better idea.

Opponents to rating Doc land say that all that would do is shift the cost from ratepayers to taxpayers and it would. But generally the ratepayers are those of large but sparsely populated rural authorities and a lot of the pressure to keep high country land in public hands come from urban people.

If DoC land was rated the cost of looking after it would fall more on those who want it in public ownership than the neighbouring community and Feds would have a much weaker case for calling for zero rating of land under covenant on private property.


New poison will kill pests not birds

March 30, 2011

A new poison which will kill stoats and feral cats but not birds has been developed by the Department of Conservation and a commercial partner, Connovation Ltd.

It is thought to be the first new toxin for the control of mammalian pests, to be registered in the world for at least 20 years, according to Department of Conservation scientist Elaine Murphy, who has been working on its development.

Dr Murphy said the new poison, which was known as Papp (para-aminopropriophenone), had been approved by the Environmental Risk Management Authority.

Stoats posed a huge threat to threatened native bird species like kiwi, and DOC was continually looking at improving the range of weapons it had to control them, she said.

Stoats also carry TB which is a threat to cattle and deer.

They pose a greater danger to stock than possums because they range over greater areas and travel longer distances.

“The department has played a leading role, co-ordinating research on this new toxin in New Zealand and has invested significantly in its product development, working alongside its commercial partner Connovation Ltd, to reach registration. 

“Work on the new poison has been going on since 2000 and a total of around US$1 million has been invested by DOC and Connovation.

Dr Murphy said one significant reason DOC had gone for Papp was because of its humaneness.

“It works very quickly, as stoats become unconscious within about 15 minutes, and die shortly afterwards There is also an antidote available which significantly reduces the risks to non-target species.”

Papp worked as a red blood cell toxin, by preventing the haemoglobin from carrying oxygen. Its mode of action was similar to carbon monoxide poisoning.

It is not however, an alternative to 1080 because it doesn’t work on possums or rats.

Dr Murphy said that DOC had stoat traps over 250,000 hectares and they would continue to be the preferred method of stoat control in many situations. But Papp would offer an alternative in remote areas, or when a quick result was needed for stoat control.

Friends with a high country station have an extensive trapping operation and catch hundreds of stoats a year.  Having a new poison which can be used where traps can’t easily be set will provide another weapon in the war against these pests.


Cunning plan could save farms and camping grounds

January 17, 2011

A new pressure group Save the Camping Grounds is hoping to enlist the support of Save the Farms to save both.

SCG spokesperson Roland Canvas said the suggestion that Department of Conservation camping grounds be handed over to private companies was an outrage.

“A private company will want to make a profit which is completely unfair to those of us who’ve been enjoying camping sites for as little as $6 a night,” Mr Canvas said.

“Camping is a New Zealand birth right and the idea that anyone should make money from running camping grounds; providing, maintaining and cleaning facilities; and supervising campers is ridiculous.”

Mr Canvas said concerns over taxpayers subsidising campers’ holidays was a red herring.

“Have you seen all those flash camper vans and caravans spreading like slow moving lice across the land? There’s not many of us old fashioned campers left prepared to spend a night on a stretcher under canvas anymore. We’re an endangered species, looking after them is core business for DoC.  If they can save the kakapo they can look after campers.”

Mr Canvas said no tent would remain unpitched in their attempts to keep the camping grounds as they were.

“We’ve come up with a plan so cunning you could pin a guy rope on it and call it a tent,” he said.

“We’ve approached Save The Farms, the group which wants to prevent the sale of private land to foreigners, and proposed they join our campaign then all the farms they save could be turned into camping grounds.

“They save the farms, we not only save the camping grounds we’ve got, we get more of them. They’ll be happy, we’ll be happy, DoC can chalk up another rare species out of danger and who cares about the deficit when you’re on holiday anyway?” Mr Canvas said.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,163 other followers

%d bloggers like this: