Thanks Frank Torley

March 28, 2016

Veteran broadcaster and the man who for many was  the voice of Country Calendar, Frank Torley, has died.

Frank retired as the narrator on Country Calendar in February because of problems with his vocal cords. . . 

Frank helped on his uncle’s farm as a teenager and was employed as a stock and station agent.

In addition to his broadcasting career, Frank was a small-scale kiwifruit orchardist in the 1980s.

He also owned a lifestyle block in Rangitikei.

Frank was committed to the craft of television. He loved words, his family said. 

“He’d be on the road shooting stories, then spend hours in his home office tapping out scripts on his computer or setting up the next story over the phone.” . . 

The news comes just weeks after the well-loved New Zealand farming series turned 50 years.

After working on farms in his earlier years, Frank he joined a stock firm.

He was plucked from the Feilding saleyards to join the NZBC as a rural broadcaster.

That eventually led to a job on Country Calendar. He has remained with the show ever since.

Frank became producer in the early 1980s, a role he continued until 2006.

He then went back to his first love: back on the road directing programmes.

In 2014 and 2015, he narrated all the Country Calendar episodes.

 He as a wonderful broadcaster.

He made country life and work accessible and interesting  to people who never stepped foot on a farm without dumbing-down the subject.

In doing so he made a significant contribution to bridging the rural-urban divide.


Rural round-up

March 22, 2014

Chinese trade target sky-high – Hugh Stringleman:

Prime Minister John Key and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to aim for $30 billion of bi-lateral trade between New Zealand and China by 2020.

That would be an increase of 65% over the total of two-way trade last year, when NZ sold China almost $10b of exports, mostly from the primary sector, and imported $8.2b.

In a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing they also agreed to modernise the free-trade agreement between the two countries.

“We have great confidence that the coming years will see trade between us increase at a very fast pace,” Key said. . .

No time to penny-pinch on TB – James Houghton:

Looking at the week that was, we have seen Fish & Game come out with a survey full of leading questions, three of our top agricultural science centers lose Government funding, and the Ministry for Primary Industries taking Fonterra to court. One might take that as a bad week, but this is a standard one for agriculture.

What is important to note is that we deal with a lot of negativity on a day-to-day basis and part of that is because we hold ourselves to a very high standard. However, looking at an average week you can get drowned in the negativity and lose sight of the bigger picture. All these things that are happening around us can seem like a blur of madness, some are but some things are for the big picture, for our children, and theirs.

Locally, we are dealing with the Waikato regional draft Annual Plan, which the council are looking to withdraw their direct funding from the national strategy of pest eradication. The National Pest Strategy, funded by the Animal Health Board, has been focusing on high-risk areas, such as Waikato, to rid the country of TB. The work is achieved by eradicating possums, with TB, from the province, and is spear headed by TB Free New Zealand and OSPRI. . .

The nitty gritty of the nitrate debate –   Lynda Murchison:

We are a part of the water quality discussion in some shape or form, and we get our information from many sources.  A major focus has been on nitrogen losses from farming. If nitrogen is one of the key ingredients in this national conversation, it ought to be explained beyond the notion that it is all about cows in streams.  The science can be complex and the explanations mind-boggling; here’s my simple geographer-farmer take on it.

Why should we care how nitrogen loss is managed? Farmers care because their future flexibility and thus viability is at stake, and like most New Zealanders they want a sustainable future that allows for agricultural growth whilst enjoying healthy waterways. The rest of the population should care because the flexibility and productivity of farming, our ability to feed the world, is what makes New Zealand tick.

Recently, the Ministry for Primary Industries revised their projections for earnings in the primary sector for the 2013-14 year, up another $4.9 billion to $36.5 billion. From that, the direct economic contribution farmers make to the Christchurch economy is estimated at $750 million per year, an impressive feat. One can only assume that contribution is even more significant in smaller provincial cities and towns. . .

Let’s Broadcast Rural New Zealand – Jamie Mackay:

It was the only option available but watching the excellent on-line live stream of the Golden Shears Open final was yet another salutary reminder of how  mainstream media in this country, most notably television, pays lip service to farming and rural New Zealand in general.

Country Calendar is an institution on New Zealand television, only bettered by Coronation Street for longevity. Heck, its most loved voice Frank Torley would probably give Ken Barlow a run for his money for length of tenure on the telly.  

I don’t wish to sound dismissive about the iconic Country Calendar because it is a rural flagship and rates well in its 7pm Saturday spot.  However, I would argue it’s a show designed more for townies than rural folk, as can be attested by the prevalence of quirky lifestyle stories it features.

But what Country Calendar does prove is there’s an appetite out there for television featuring rural New Zealand.  However, this message is not getting through the solid craniums (euphemism for thick skulls) of television programmers. . .

Homewood Run – Lashings of meat right way to eat -Alan Emmerson:

Those who have read my columns will know my philosophy of not getting to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

I can remember, as a relatively young journalist, of the panic over saturated fat, the health risks associated with eating meat and dairy products.

Back then the doomsayers were trying to convert the world to mung beans and the like, for the good of their health of course.

Fortunately few listened and we continued eating meat, butter, and cheese.

Now, according to an article in the New York Times, the myths have been dispelled. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef with Chipotle (Part 1)  – Greg Peterson:

Many have probably seen or heard about Chipotle’s commercial, “The Scarecrow” and their recent video series, “Farmed and Dangerous.” Chipotle claims these spots are shedding light on the “inhumane” and “unsustainable” nature of “industrial farming.” They try to use the videos to inform people of the perceived problems with the current food system, such as the difference between meat that is ethically raised and meat that isn’t. Their approach seems genuine and sincere at first and is attracting a lot of attention from consumers. I’m certain that Chipotle is doing a lot of positive things with their “food with integrity” approach and to be clear, I do agree with the general ideals Chipotle claims they are supporting:

  • The consumer does deserve healthy meat from humanely raised animals
  • The family farmer is who should be raising their food
  • Ethical behavior should be of greater concern than profit.

What I don’t agree with is Chipotle’s definitions of family farmers, humanely raised animals, and ethical behavior. . .


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