366 days of gratitude

March 1, 2016

A cruise around Fiordland last year introduced us to places that were little different from how they would have been when the Maori and later Captain Cook first saw them.

Although they looked similar, they were quieter without the birdsong that would have greeted those early visitors.

Hunters and introduced predators wiped out many of the birds but thanks to the dedicated work of Department of Conservation staff and volunteers, breeding programmes and predator control are slowly, repopulating the bush, at least on some of the islands.

Further north, a recovery programme has established a sustainable population of whio, the blue duck which adorns our $10 note.

Today I’m grateful for the people who work so hard to bring back the native birds from the brink of extinction.


Rural round-up

December 22, 2014

Two exciting years in a row – Allan Barber:

2014 and 2015 promise to be two of the most exciting years the red meat industry has seen for a long time and for a change the news is not all bad. There are some clouds around, but also silver linings like better beef and lamb prices, improved profitability and the possibility of positive developments in the industry’s structure.

At long last, after a slow start, there are plenty of signs the industry as a whole has recognised the need for change to address the main challenges of inadequate prices, declining sheep and beef numbers and excess capacity which have inexorably brought about land use conversions to more profitable activities. . .

  –  Allan Barber:

The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey conducted in November found confidence among sheep and beef farmers had risen from just under 50% to 75% since the previous survey the previous quarter. However the overall confidence level remained low because of pessimism among dairy farmers, although this was slightly better than the two year low in the previous survey.

Sheep and beef farmer confidence is now on a par with dairy farmers’ confidence about their outlook and consistent with the situation two years ago. Major reasons for the turnaround are not difficult to fathom, but apart from the contrasting price trend for the respective products, half the farmers surveyed were optimistic about the outlook for global red meat demand.

The relative investment intentions of the two sectors also bore out the levels of optimism with 41% of sheep and beef farmers intending to invest more in their farms compared with just 18% of dairy farmers. . .

Fiordland rangers prepare for stoat plague – Dave Goosselink :

Rangers in Fiordland National Park are preparing for a major stoat plague, which will threaten one of our most endangered birds.

There are only around 260 takahe left, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is doing its best to prevent any of them from becoming a Christmas dinner.

A remote part of the Murchison Mountains is home to the last wild population of takahe. The critically endangered native birds face a fresh wave of predators this summer due to bumper seed production in beech forests. . .

Tradition ties agents to job – Alan Williams:

There has been a raft of changes in the livestock agency industry in the more than 50 years Fred Fowler and John Honeybone have been working in Canterbury saleyards but one feature stays the same.

They’re both out there in the sprawling Canterbury Park facility wearing a tie.

“That’s the dress code,” Honeybone says.

“It’s good for discipline, specially for the young fellas.”

Fowler agrees. 

“If you’re standing in front of the public then you wear a tie.” . . .

The people behind the scene – Sally Millar:

As the year draws to a close, I would like to reflect on the year from a regional policy perspective. As Federated Farmers Policy Advisor my role is to advocate on behalf of our members to ensure they are able to farm without resource management policies and plans unduly impacting on their farm businesses.

With an ever changing regulatory climate, compliance can make farming tricky at times. We consider that most farming activities should be permitted, with appropriate standards that are essentially good farming practice and should be able to be complied with, with minimum fuss.  There are however areas where farmers will need a resource consent such as for building a bridge, discharging effluent, or getting a water consent for dairy shed wash-down.  This can be a confusing and complicated process.

Where resource consent is required, Federated Farmers Policy works to ensure the controls are appropriate, fair and achievable, without undue cost to the farmer.   This means if we do our job well much of what we achieve will go largely unnoticed. So I don’t necessarily see it as a negative if members are unsure of what I really do.  . .

Farmers face risk of dam-dry summer:

Low reserves of water in Canterbury have farmers and irrigation companies concerned ahead of what is threatening to be a dry summer.

The  Opuha Dam in south Canterbury is half empty – when, by now, it is usually more than 90 percent full and ready to keep pastures green through the summer.

Fish and Game said there had been an over-allocation of available water, which affected rivers and their ecosystems and needed to be addressed.

While the dam supplied water for irrigation, its main purpose was to stop the Opuha River from running dry. A dry spring and a lack of snow melt meant the dam had just over half the water it should have at this time of year. . .

Fonterra Welcomes New Managing Director International Farming:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is pleased to welcome new Managing Director International Farming Alan van der Nagel to the business.

Mr van der Nagel reports directly to Chief Executive Theo Spierings, and replaces Henk Bles who has served as Interim Managing Director since April. Mr Bles is staying on in an advisory role for up to six months, ensuring a smooth leadership transition.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Mr van der Nagel had a considerable level of executive experience in internationally integrated dairy companies in emerging markets, and an impressive track record of driving operational excellence, working with multi-cultural teams, and managing large-scale international joint ventures. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2013

Macraes project praised – Dene Mackenzie:

Hopes are high the review of Oceana Gold’s operations – particularly of its Macraes gold project – will not cut deeply into the Otago economy.

Otago Chamber of Commerce president Peter McIntyre said yesterday many people in Otago were not aware that such a constructive mining sector operated within the region.

Macraes was estimated to be worth around $100 million annually to the regional economy. . .

Water collectives recommended – Sally Brooker:

Farmers need to continue with collective ventures for better water quality, Federated Farmers says.

The theme of partnership for water progress was discussed by a panel at the federation’s national conference in Ashburton on July 4. Speaking first, former Rotorua-Taupo federation president Neil Heather said collaboration produced ”powerful action”.

He outlined the gains made in cleaning up Lake Rotorua’s water pollution, saying farmers needed to become informed. . .

Fewer cows can mean better profits – Sally Brooker:

The traditional approach to determining stocking rates needs to change, DairyNZ representative Chris Glassey says.

Presenting a paper at the recent South Island Dairy Event at Lincoln University, he said incoming nitrogen limits would force change.

”The optimum stocking rate is never a constant. This paper challenges the belief that more cows means more profit.” . .

Kiwi shearers fleece British opposition in test series – Ruth Grundy:

The two-man New Zealand shearing team has won the British leg of its northern hemisphere series.

Rowland Smith, of Hastings, and Tony Coster, of Rakaia, beat Ulster at the Rickamore Shears in Ireland on July 13,notching up the third win on their four-event 2013 Elders Primary Wool United Kingdom Tour.

The pair opened the UK series a fortnight earlier with a loss to Scotland at Lochearnhead Shears but quickly bounced back with two wins over England. . .

Bee numbers on the rise – Tim Cronshaw:

Commercial bee numbers are on the rise in spite of the varroa mite disease which has plundered wild bee stocks.

Bees in managed hives were hit hard by varroa, but hive treatment has allowed them to withstand the disease and their numbers have grown as demand for honey production and pollinating crops has increased.

Registered beehives are up about 7 per cent to 450,000 from last year and rising since 2005 along with increasing numbers of registered beekeepers.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury chairman Barry Hantz said good prices for manuka honey had encouraged beekeepers to put in more hives, particularly in the North Island. . .

Didymo find ‘gutting’ – Rebecca Fox:

The battle to keep Fiordland didymo-free has been lost.

The invasive algae has been discovered in the remote Large Burn valley.

Western Fiordland was one of the ”last frontiers” to remain free of didymo in the South Island, despite it being originally discovered in the nearby Waiau River in 2004, Department of Conservation freshwater ranger Lyndsay Murray said yesterday.

”It’s pretty gutting really. It’s the first confirmed positive sample of a waterway west of the divide.” . . .


Greenstone Editorial Gone

June 22, 2008

The story of the pounamu  gifted by the Christchurch City Council to China which flew first class because it would be culturally insensitive to put it in the hold prompted an editorial in The Press. Private Bin in the NBR (which isn’t on-line) noted the editorial had disappeared from the website and it hasn’t reappeared so here is a copy from the print edition:

 

Ngai Tahu asserts that Christchurch’s gift to China is imbued with spiritual force. That is debatable, but the boulder certainly is imbued with farce.

Its journey from Fiordland to Wuhan provides the basis for a novel of the absurd, in which the voyage is preposterous, the characters pretentious and the implications portentous.

Fortunately for the reputation of Christchurch, this wacky combination will initially be laughed at and attributed to the city’s liking for crankiness. But underneath the nonsense is a city council losing touch with reality.

The request for an inanimate rock to have a partly ratepayer-funded escort and a seat in first class should have been vetoed before it had a change to develop legs. However serious the claims by Ngai Tahu about the boulder’s spirituality they are not supported by the large majority of Christchurch citizens, in whose name the gift was being made. A mayor in tune with his citizens would not have associated them with such hocus-pocus, let Ngai Tahu pay for the exercise of its religious beliefs and had the rock presented with typical Kiwi restraint.

 

But Christchurch has a council so in thrall to its sister-city relationships that its successive mayors and councillors repeatedly risk political demerits to cement the international contacts with visits, hospitality and gifts. So enthusiastic is city hall about these shenanigans that it now has a paid official with the title of international relations manager.

Part of her job, it seems, is ensuring Christchurch ratepayers do not get to know about things like the rummage in Fiordland for a rack, its luxurious passage halfway round the world, and the associating of the city with cultish beliefs. These facts were made public only because The Press forced them into the open by way of the Official Information Act.

Mayor Bob Parker need merely have remembered the public’s contempt for retiring MPs’ junketing on the Speaker’s tour to curtail the madcap greenstone trail. His lack of nous about such international skylarking will now require him to deflect a spectrum of critics: those unimpressed with Maori claims to privileged spirituality; those sickened by gravy-eating politicians; those intent on pillorying over-inflated city burghers.

The pounamu is now resting in the unkind keeping of the Communist Party of China. If the rock is consigned to the attic, as are most official gifts – even those received by totalitarian vulgarians – Christchurch’s spiritual out-reach will have been in vain. But there is hope of a more productive outcome.

China’s political bosses, driven into a corner by adherence to the unswerving olgic of dialectical materialism, might find the rock’s spirtiual immaterialism useful. An unquiet Tibet, a spluttering Olympic torch, a carbon-laden atmosphere, a political structure immune to renewal – these and China’s other gigantic problems seem so unlikely to be solved by Marxist administration that genuflection to a green stone could reasonably be tried.

On the other hand, Bob Parker, embarked on a mayoralty littered with gaffs, might need to reclaim the pounamu and beseech it for political advice. If he does, he would be wise to bring it home escorted only by recycled wrapping, protected by a butter box and placed in the belly of a plane.

 

The following letters to the editor were printed in response the following day:

Your editorial yesterday contained errors of concern to the Christchurch City Council.

The first of these is the implication that information about the gift of pounamu to Christchurch’s Friendship City of Wuhan, China, was discovered only through the Official Information Act.

The council issued a media release on April 22, detailing this gift and how it had travelled to Wuhan. Your newspaper received this release on this date, and published an article about the gift on April 26. The Star also ran the story on April 30.

At this time, no reporter called the council requesting any additional information, which we would have been happy to release.

The second point is that you inferred that the position of civic and international relations manager was new to the council. This position has been in existence for at least 10 years.

The manager’s role is not just to source gifts for our sister cities, as inferred in your editorial. She is responsible for identifying and developing international relationships that result in economic benefits for Christchurch – Tony Marryatt CHief Executive CCC.

The views expressed in your editorial yesterday displayed a remarkable level of insensitivity and ignorance, and are full of inaccuracies.

For generations pounamu has been central to Ngai Tahu culture and survival, with the gifting of pounamu an important Ngai Tahu tradition that carries with it our mana and protection. It is an act that has become commonplace, as was displayed in 2004 when the entire New Zealand Olympic team wore pounamu to Athens.

Your comments do your publication, the citizens of Wuhan and Ngai Tahu great disservice when one considers the spirit with which the gift is intended. Mark Solomon Kaiwhakahaere Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu

Yesterday’s editorial was intended to be tongue-in-cheek and whimsical. It ailed badly in making that clear and the intemperate, and in some instances offensive, sentiments are The Press’s editorial policy. I can only apologise. – Andrew Holden, Editor.

And:

New Zealand greenstone, a true jade, is pounemu. Bowenite – sometimes called greenstone by the geologically ignorant, and not a jade – is takiwai. Bowenite “greenstone” is not pounemu.

The addition of ‘stone” to pounemu, as pounamu is know in the south, is redundant.

This isn’t difficult nomenclature. How did your journalist get so muddled. (“Pounamu stone flies first class to satisfy protocol,: June 14)? Keri Hulme.


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