Celebrating winners

October 3, 2018

My farmer spotted these signs in Sydney a couple of months ago:

They were part of a campaign to raise money to help drought-stricken farmers.

”Would we get that sort of support in cities here?” my farmer asked.

When relatively few people now come little closer to farms than a glance out a window as they drive down a main road, and the anti-farming lobby is so vocal the answer could well be no.

But this gives me hope:  the ODT opines that the All Blacks are not our only winners: 

. . . Rugby experts suggest New Zealand’s winning formula is not as dark an art as our black jerseys suggest. Instead, they say, it is a result of hard work and good management, of understanding what the fundamental parts of rugby are, and ensuring players from a very young age learn those basics. In other words, cleverness and hard work.

So can we not dominate a global industry with our cleverness and hard work the way we dominate rugby? Imagine the benefit to New Zealand, to our economy, to our employment rate, to our tax take. The answer of course is obvious: we do. In farming
.

I’m a fan of Fred Dagg and Wal Footrot but sad that those images are close to reality for too many people who don’t know farmers and understand farming.

Our farmers are the All Blacks of international agriculture. Our livestock herds roam farms of natural grass, grass fed by little more than rainwater and manure. The resulting products are the envy of the world, yet our farmers compete on price with factory farmers from other nations, despite receiving none of the tariffs and subsidies many of our competitors do.

Our world-renowned horticulture industry employs thousands, sending prime produce across the globe despite the genuine tyranny of distance implicit in an industry where fresh is considered best
.

I wonder if there is still a lingering snobbery about people who get their hands dirty that means at least some urban people don’t recognise the many skills food producers need and excel at?

The irony is when the All Blacks win their innovation, hard work and brilliance is celebrated. When our farmers win, day after day, year after year, it seems a growing portion of New Zealanders feel nothing but resentment that farming is not just swaying grass and wildflowers. Instead they see a dark industrial evil, polluting rivers, producing emissions and ruining landscapes. Clearly there is an image problem needing fixing.

Mistakes have been made in the past which will take time to repair; and some by accident or deliberately, are still not using best practice.

But those are the minority. Most farmers take their responsibility to look after their stock, their land, waterways and the wider environment, and to treat their staff well, seriously.

Of course, animal welfare, land-use and pollution are serious issues; that is not up for debate. But it is hard to imagine another economically equitable industry without its own unwanted by-products.

Farming requires the landscape to remain covered in photosynthesising plant life. It is spread around the country, ensuring the ongoing existence of hundreds of small communities. In New Zealand, farming is cleaner, kinder and more efficient than virtually anywhere else on earth. It provides healthy, active, well-paid outdoor employment for thousands of Kiwis, and pays for the employment of many thousands more in support roles, including this country’s world-leading agricultural-science industry.

Thankfully many New Zealanders do still value what farming offers New Zealand. They know we are, as a country, world champion farmers and we are immeasurably better off because of that. It is right and natural to celebrate the exploits of our rugby players as they continue to do us proud on the international stage. But let us not forget that it is not the only international stage we excel on. Our farmers are proof of that.

This is high praise.

It is heartening to know that the hard work of farmers, their staff and the many people who service and supply them is recognised and celebrated.

 

 


John Clarke 29.7.48 – 9.4.17

April 10, 2017

John Clarke, satirist and comedian extraordinaire has died.

Born in Palmerston North, he studied at Victoria University before heading to London, where he gained a break through with a part in the 1972 Barry Humphries comedy The Adventures of Barry McKenzie.

Clarke came home a year later, and was in the cast of New Zealand’s first sitcom, the student-flat comedy Buck House.

By then, Clarke had already pioneered his iconic character Fred Dagg in short TV sketches and a Country Calendar ‘spoof’ edition. . .

Clarke moved to Australia where he continued to delight audiences as a writer and satirist.

For 25 years he and Brian Bryan Dawe poked the borax at politicians in Clarke and Dawe.

You can see some of his work at Mr John Clarke, read his bio at NZ on Screen and listen to an interview with Jesse Mulligan at RNZ.


Quote of the day

July 29, 2016

They helped to invent their version of Fred Dagg and that’s a great kindness by an audience. If you’re in people’s memories, that’s a very precious place to be. John Clarke who celebrates his 68th birthday today.

 


366 days of gratitude

June 28, 2016

If it weren’t for my gumboots was one of Fred Dagg’s contributions to New Zealand’s cultural history, albeit that the song originally came from Britain, where they call the footwear Wellingtons.

The basic model tends to be a bit sloppy and cause undue wear on socks. These days you can get more upmarket styles, including those with neoprene inners which hold your feet firm, doing less damage to socks and keeping  your feet warmer.

But whatever you call them they are very useful if you’re working in mucky conditions or when your inner child prompts you to jump in puddles and I’m grateful for them.


Hokitika new gumboot capital?

July 16, 2012

Taihape claims to be the gumboot capital of the world but it has a challenger.

AgFest West Coast was held in Hokitika at the weekend and the organisers set out to make a world record for the most people wearing gumboots at a single event.

The Facebook page records:

Wow what an awesome few days and event! Thank you so much to everyone that turned up to support AgFest and to all those Exhibitor’s that attended and stood though the rain for the 2 days! We hope that everyone got something out of our event and had an enjoyable time.  . .  And yes we did get the World Record for most Gumboots worn to a single event with 1605 pairs of gumboots recorded!

Given the wild weather on the West Coast at the weekend and that Westport was cut-off yesterday, gumboots would be footwear of choice for the sensible in those parts.

As Fred Dagg would no doubt have said had he been there, If it weren’t for you gumboots where would you be? . . .


When life imitates satire

November 18, 2011

Tweet of the day:

He could be right, the campaign is decending to a farcial level in which Fred Dagg would have revelled.

Hat tip: Election 2011 Live


Can’t save them from own incompetence

June 16, 2011

Quote of the day:

As nice a guys as we are in National, we can’t save Labour from its own incompetence.”

Simon Bridges on Breakfast  in response to a comment on Labour’s website woes which were exposed by Whaleoil.

Apropos of this Whale has replied to a letter from Labour’s general secretary Chris Flatt  agreeing to his requests with nine conditions including:

5. Fred Dagg gets his right­ful posi­tion at the top of the Labour Party List. In perpetuity.

While Fred would add a much needed rural voice to the Labour list I suspect someone of his entrepreneurial and independent spirit would be out of place there.


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