Rural round-up

July 9, 2019

Uncertainty plus unique ownership structure drive Fonterra share volatility – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s shares have been on a steady downward slide for the last 18 months. In January 2018 they were selling at $6.60 dropping to $3.86 at closing on 30 June 2019.

Then this last week things suddenly turned volatile, dropping at one point on 4 July a further 10 percent to $3.45, before rising by six percent to $3.69 at close of trade on 5 July.

The causes of the long-term drop are well understood. Very simply, Fonterra made a loss of $196 million in financial year 2018 largely because of write-down on assets. Fonterra is also now in asset-selling mode to strengthen its balance sheet. Non-farmer investors are coming to understand that, with family silver having to be sold as well as some rubbish disposal, any turnaround is likely to be long-term rather than short-term. . .

One billion tree flawed says climate scientist :

The Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ one billion trees won’t reduce carbon emissions, as too few natives are being planted, climate scientist Jim Salinger says.

The government has allocated $120 million in grants to landowners to plant trees on their properties, and wants two-thirds of those planted to be natives.

Forestry New Zealand figures show in the first year, of the 91m trees planted, only 12 percent were native. . .

Falling log prices may make some woodlots unprofitable – ANZ -Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – In-market prices for logs in China – New Zealand’s largest export market – have fallen in recent weeks and ANZ Bank warns the drop will make the harvest of some woodlots unprofitable.

While some price softening is not unusual at this time of year as construction activity slows in the hot months, “the scale of the correction was unexpected,” said ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

The price of an A-grade log landed in China has fallen from US$130/JAS cubic-metre in early June to approximately US$105/JAS cubic-metre.. .

Vet behind Mycoplasma Bovis detection hopeful for eradication:

The Ōamaru vet, whose efforts led to the identification of cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis in New Zealand, says she is optimistic the disease can be eradicated.

Earlier this week, Dr Merlyn Hay was given the Outstanding Contribution to the Primary Industries Award, for her work to identify M Bovis in July 2017.

Dr Hay told Saturday Morning that the disease was very hard to diagnose, and in many other countries it was only detected after it had already been spreading for several decades . .

Group aims to help farmers improve M. Boris response – Daniel Birchfield:

Lines of communication between the Ministry for Primary Industries and farmers impacted by cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis have been muddied for too long, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Alongside Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley, he chaired the first meeting of the recently formed Waimate/Waitaki Mycoplasma Bovis Advisory Group held at the Waimate District Council on Wednesday.

The group, modelled on a similar Ashburton arrangement, was formed to support the ministry’s M. bovis eradication programme and assist with regional decision-making to benefit farmers. . .

Lamb contract rewards loyalty – Colin Williscroft:

A $9/kg fixed-price lamb contract for August is a reward for customer loyalty, Affco national livestock manager Tom Young says.

So, farmers generally should not raise their hopes it signals prices higher that they might usually expect as the season unfolds.

The contract has been the subject of much discussion at sale yards but Young said it is not an offer being made to every farmer.

It is only available to loyal clients, farmers who have shown Affco consistent support. . .

Dismantling free markets won’t solve biodiversity threat – Matt Ridley:

Driven perhaps by envy at the attention that climate change is getting, and ambition to set up a great new intergovernmental body that can fly scientists to mega-conferences, biologists have gone into overdrive on the subject of biodiversity this week.

They are right that there is a lot wrong with the world’s wildlife, that we can do much more to conserve, enhance and recover it, but much of the coverage in the media, and many of the pronouncements of Sir Bob Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), are frankly weird.

The threat to biodiversity is not new, not necessarily accelerating, mostly not caused by economic growth or prosperity, nor by climate change, and won’t be reversed by retreating into organic self-sufficiency. Here’s a few gentle correctives.

Much of the human destruction of biodiversity happened a long time ago . . .


Taxpayer paying business to compete with other business

November 16, 2018

An advanced Aviation Hub at Whanganui Airport is the latest beneficiary of taxpayer largesse through a donation from the Provincial Growth Fund.

The Taxpayers’ Union says the government is picking winners:

The Government should be delivering tax cuts to all businesses, not spending $48 million picking winners says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, responding to the Government’s announcement of Provincial Growth Fund spending in the region.

The Union’s Executive Director Jordan Williams says “Government should not be in the business of picking winners. Instead of spending $48 million on an array of projects in Manawatu-Whanganui, the Government should give all businesses tax relief.”

“If the business case for projects receiving funding from the Government stands up, they should be able to secure private finance. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidise businesses that cannot stand on their own two legs. Taxing more for Shane Jones to play Father Christmas is just a provincial merry-go-round.”

It’s worse than picking winners – it’s using taxpayers’ money to fund a business that is competing with another existing one.

An international flight school started operating at Oamaru airport a few months ago.

. . .Students from ”all over” would train in single-engine Tecnam aircraft, with one plane for every five students.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he was ”very pleased” the airline academy chose the Waitaki district ”to kick-start their operation”.

”As there’ll be a significant number of trainees and staff living and learning here, this is a win-win for everyone.”

Ten jobs would be created and up to 50 commercial pilot trainees would be in the Waitaki district over the next three years.

Council chief executive Fergus Power said each trainee would add an estimated $20,000 to Oamaru’s economy while living in the district for up to a year. . .

If a flight school can be established at Oamaru Airport without subsidies the Whanganui one shouldn’t need government assistance and it certainly shouldn’t be getting taxpayers’ money to compete with an existing business.

 

 


Put away begging bowl Auckland

October 11, 2017

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher tells Aucklanndd mayor Phil Goff the city must put away the begging bowl:

Auckland, Put Away The Begging Bowl and Deal With Your Problems.

The picture I used was about Queen St beggars, but I figured it was apt given that Auckland City Council has become the biggest beggar on Queen St… I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of hearing that every problem that Auckland has, can only be fixed with money from all of us! Housing crisis, transport crisis, waste water crisis, port crisis, fuel line crisis, teacher crisis… The list appears almost endless! And the solution? They go to the government and tell them they need money from the rest of New Zealand. The latest call by Mayor Phil Goff is to have the GST that is paid on Auckland rates to be given to them. That is as much their money as it is yours or mine. We all pay GST, we all contribute, but it is only Auckland which is so consistently putting out their hand to central government. Our Waitaki District Council has long been criticised for having high rates. Residential rates across Waitaki were recently measured by the Taxpayers Union as being about 29th highest out of 66. It has been higher but we are driving efficiency hard. Perhaps too hard in some areas. However, we are paying our way.

Waitaki has dealt with almost all of its water and waste water issues, it maintains an extensive roading network and needs to improve that, it has a reasonable number of very good facilities and amenities, and it is successfully delivering economic development. There’s not a lot of bells and whistles, but we do ok for a district our size. Importantly, we have no external debt, and instead have been able to invest in our future through loans to irrigation and the community-owned Observatory Retirement Village.

Contrast that with Auckland… Indebted up to its maximum limit, paying staff outrageously high salaries which are exceeding the private sector, suffering from a massive infrastructural deficit, and spending money like it’s going out of fashion so that they can become one of the world’s most liveable cities. The Auckland Council has 11,893 staff. Over 20% of them earn more than $100,000, and 194 staff earn more than $200,000. The city spills diluted sewage into its own harbour every time it rains, and that will cost $1,800,000,000 to fix it! NZTA is spending up large to deal with their road problems, and the bill for light rail grows higher and higher by the day. This infrastructural deficit is huge, and is a result of slack governance over a long time. A lot of central government money is going into Auckland now, but still they want more. Waitaki is compared to Auckland frequently when it comes to our rates, but if they’d paid what our ratepayers have had to over the years, they wouldn’t be as (literally) in the crap as they are now.

Usually Mayors are reticent to comment about the activities in other districts and cities, but when Auckland so often has its begging bowl out to central government asking for money that belongs to all of us, then I say enough is enough!

Phil Goff – put away the begging bowl for a while please. Put Auckland rates up to pay for the things yourself, in the same way that most of the country has been paying for itself for years. Sort out your staff salaries so they stop putting pressure on the private sector and the rest of local government across NZ; and take ownership of Auckland’s problems. I know you’re worried that borrowing more to deal with the issues will affect Auckland’s credit rating and possibly that of other Councils, but I can assure you that when you have put money aside responsibly as Waitaki has, you won’t have to worry about credit ratings. Bite the bullet, and get it sorted.

Auckland is proof that when it comes to councils, bigger isn’t necessarily better.

Some of its problems are an indictment on successive governments – local and central.

But the current council must accept responsibility for current problems and be prepared to make hard decisions about how to pay for solving them.

It could start by following the example of a smaller council like Waitaki which pretty much sticks to its knitting and looks after its core business rather than empire building.

It must look at ways it can fund solutions itself, including cutting costs and at least the partial sale of some of its assets, before it asks for yet more help from the taxpayer.


Rural-round-up

September 20, 2017

Concerned’ over water policy – Daniel Birchfield:

The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC) believes Labour’s water policy could lead to a growing rural-urban divide and the loss of millions of dollars from the Waitaki and Waimate districts.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher has also let rip at the policy, claiming Waitaki irrigators could lose $25 million to $40 million if there is a change of government on September 23. . .

Embracing old and new:

A North Otago sheep farm uses a mixture of the old-fashioned and new-fangled at lambing time.

Creedmoor is a 50ha block of rolling land at Incholme, west of Oamaru. Owners Julian and Sharyn Price also lease a neighbouring 20ha.

The couple have become lamb whisperers, breeding composite ewes with quiet temperaments that are not fazed by their human handlers in their midst.

Flightiness has been culled out, along with dags.

The Prices call their flock Creedmoor Supersheep – a moniker endorsed by their records. Since 2006 they have exceeded a 200% lambing rate and last year 25% of their surplus lambs were killed at three months. . . 

Tasty bait balls used to poison wallabies:

Waimate’s wily pests are about to be tempted with lethal treats

Green balls flavoured with peanut butter are being placed on stakes in remote Mackenzie district hill country, where they are likely to appeal to the Bennett’s wallaby population. The third batch, following two deliveries of non-toxic balls about a week apart, will contain cyanide that produces a quick death after being eaten by the marsupials.

The project is part of Environment Canterbury’s biosecurity work to reduce pest numbers. . .

Chopping out a career in the mostly male world of butchery – Christina Persico:

Think of a butcher and you generally think of a man – but Kayla Scott thinks it’s a job for anyone.

The 21-year-old is an apprentice at the Kiwi Butcher Shop in New Plymouth, where she has worked on and off for five years.

“It’s quite a full on, energetic kind of job…There’s never a dull moment,” she says.

“It’s usually more challenging because you don’t want it to be labelled as a male’s job, because anyone can do it.

“It is quite tricky trying not to be like, ‘I’m in a male’s job’.” . . .

First crop at New Zealand School of Winegrowing picked and ready – Oliver Lewis:

The first crop of students have signed up to the New Zealand School of Winegrowing, which had its official launch in Blenheim on Wednesday night.

The school, the first of its kind in New Zealand, was set up by Marlborough Boys’ and Marlborough Girls’ colleges with assistance from the wine industry.

About 40 people attended the launch event, which Boys’ College assistant principal James Ryan described as an opportunity to promote the school. . .

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I’ve got mud in my blood.


Voting age women outnumber men

September 19, 2016

Statistics New Zealand has marked Suffrage Day with a media release which says voting-age women in New Zealand outnumbered men by about 137,000 at the 2013 Census, and women are more likely to vote.

In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. This year, Suffrage Day (September 19) comes just as local government voting papers go out on 16–21 September.

Census figures showed there were more than 1.66 million women in New Zealand aged 18 years and over (18+), compared with about 1.53 million men.

Women on average live longer than men which will account for some of the difference but just as women are more likely to vote, I wonder if they’re more likely to fill out census forms.

Women are more likely than men to vote in general and local government elections, according to past Statistics NZ General Social Surveys. In a survey after the 2011 general election more than 80 percent of women said they voted, compared with about 77 percent of men.

Almost 95 percent of women and men aged 65+ years said they voted in the 2011 general election, compared with just over half of those aged 18 to 24.

Voter turnout is lower for local government elections, at less than 65 percent for women and 62 percent for men. However, 87 percent of all those aged 65+ said they’d voted in local elections in a 2012 survey, compared with just 28 percent of people aged 18 to 24.

Census figures for 2013 showed there were 1.19 million European women in New Zealand aged 18+ years. There were about 193,000 Māori women in that age group, closely followed by almost 187,000 Asian women. Pacific women aged 18+ totalled about 90,000.

The candidates in my district and regional council wards have been elected unopposed which means the only decision I’ll have to make is whether to support the sitting mayor, Gary Kircher, or his challenger whose name escapes me.

The mayor is generally considered to have worked well in his first term so I’ll be voting to give him a second one.


Rural round-up

January 15, 2016

The year ahead for agri-food – Keith Woodford:

The year ahead is going to be challenging for many of New Zealand’s farmers. There are no quick solutions for either dairy or sheep. Amongst the bigger industries, only kiwifruit and beef have a positive outlook. The wine industry could go in either direction this year. Among the smaller industries, manuka honey could be the one to watch.

Dairy
The year has started badly for dairy, with whole milk powder down 4.4% at the early January auction. For me, this number came almost as a relief. It could have been a lot worse. . . 

More cows stolen in Mid-Canterbury – Audrey Malone:

More than 100 dairy cattle disappeared without a trace from three Mid Canterbury farms during December.

A farm in Alford Forrest has lost 52 Friesian bull calves, while a farm south of Hinds lost 17 grown dairy cows.

It followed news that 36 cows disappeared from Mayfield farm over a two week period in December.

The farm owners are puzzled 

Jill Quigley, who owns the Mayfield farm with husband David, said rural Mid Canterbury was not a good place anymore.

“It just looks a little suspicious,” she said. . . 

New A2O section opened

A group of 40 people celebrated another milestone in The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail in Duntroon yesterday afternoon.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher officially opened the 28km section from Kurow to Duntroon – now totally off-road – in a short ceremony in the Waitaki Valley town. Mr Kircher said the trail would be a boon for the town’s economy, but also allowed locals to show ‘‘how proud people are of their community”. . . 

Hat tip: Utopia

High country meets town in rural games – Jill Galloway:

How far can you throw and catch a raw egg, throw a gumboot or spit a cherry stone? For that matter, how fast can you put up a fence or shear a sheep?

These skills will be tested when country comes to town in the New Zealand Rural Games at Queenstown next month.

Games founder Steve Hollander was in Palmerston North on his way to help run the events.

He said rural people from this area would take part in shearing and fencing.

Hollander said the games were about entertaining people, and no event was more than two hours long. He expected 8000 people over the two day event.  . . 

Lewis Road Creamery eyes China as potential export market – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Lewis Road Creamery, the premium dairy brand company, will make a final decision this year whether to export, most likely fresh organic milk into China’s Shanghai. It’s also planning to release a number of product extensions and has already moved beyond dairy products into baked goods.

The Auckland-based brand saw 340 percent growth in retail sales to $40 million of its butter, cream, organic milk, and flavoured milk products during 2015, the year of what founder Peter Cullinane calls “the chocolate milk frenzy”.

His big decisions this year include whether to get serious about exporting and how far to extend the product range beyond dairy. For the past couple of months it has been trialling sales of Lewis Road Bakery premium kibbled grain bread in 12 Auckland retail outlets. . . 

Activity Steps up in 2016 Dairy Awards:

Those entrants who used their summer holiday to prepare for the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards could have an advantage, as activity gears up in this year’s competitions.

The awards, which oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions, received 452 entries prior to Christmas.

General Manager Chris Keeping says information events for entrants and sponsors are being held in some of the awards’ 11 regions over the next couple of weeks. . .

Wool Steady

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that this week’s auctions held in both centres saw slightly different price movements between them, however overall the local market remained firm.

Of the 16,500 bales on offer, 95.6 percent sold. . . .

NZ Tractor Trek:

A cavalcade of Vintage Tractors, Jeeps and Trucks trekking 2600km from Bluff to Cape Reinga over 26 days.

Raising funds for hospices throughout New Zealand. . .

 


Marching for Waitaki’s health services

July 5, 2015

Nearly 30 years ago around 13,000 people marched through Oamaru to protest against proposed cuts to health services.

This morning there’s another march for the same reason and it’s got political.

Dunedin North MP Dr David Clark has been accused of trying to ”hijack” tomorrow’s health march in Oamaru, and has been denied speaking rights after refusing to accept a condition not to criticise the Government.
National Party Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean will speak at the march because she had agreed to that condition, Waitaki Mayor and march organiser Gary Kircher said.

The event was ”not political”.

The focus was the Southern District Health Board and its funding priorities. . .

The Mayor says more in a Facebook post.

. . . As has been clear from the start, this march has been about the cuts to our hospital funding proposed by the Southern DHB. Instead, David wants to make it political by bringing in the much wider issue of government funding and he wants to use our march to make his political statement.
Now, we all would love for central government to put more money into health, but the SDHB has had increases and they’re simply not passing on our fair share to us in Waitaki. They haven’t done so for years. Instead, we had no increase last year and they want to cut 5% from our funding this year! They would rather make our people go to Dunedin for services which we can deliver far more efficiently in Oamaru! For example, we have excellent scanning equipment and services in Oamaru Hospital but we only get around $15,000 per year to run them. People complain that they have to go to Dunedin for scans when they could be done right here! However, David doesn’t want to focus on this. Perhaps it’s because many of the Dunedin Hospital staff who benefit from this wasteful spending live in his electorate?
I have made the offer to David that he can march alongside me and our Councillors at the front of the march, I’ve told him that I will acknowledge him and his support for the aim of our march in my speech, and I had intend to have him up on the stage with the speakers and our Councillors. And I had offered to let him speak if he focussed on the reason for the march. But if he really prefers to let the DHB off the hook by playing politics, I make no apology for declining his last-minute request to speak.  . .

There is a legitimate argument about whether the population based funding model is calculated correctly for large areas with smaller and older populations but that is an argument for another day.

Today is not about whether the south’s share of the health cake is big enough but because Waitaki is not getting it’s fair share of the south’s slice.

Waitaki District Health Services chair George Berry puts the board’s case here.

 


Council + community = progress

April 14, 2015

A challenge from Waitaki District mayor Gary Kircher has resulted in the main road in to Moeraki being rebuilt:

. . . Haven St has been closed to through traffic since August 2013 when a 350m to 400m section collapsed following heavy rain.

The road is being rebuilt as part of a push by the Moeraki community to reopen the road because of concerns about the width of the alternative route via Tenby St and that visitors were having problems finding their way to local restaurants and accommodation providers.

A group was formed to work with the Waitaki District Council and manage offers of help and material from local people to tackle the work under the supervision of an engineer and work on the road began in February.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the rebuilt section of street was ”very impressive”. He was ”blown away” by what had been a ”fairly unique partnership” between the Waitaki District Council, the Moeraki community and local contractors.

”Numerous community members have done so well getting the road to this stage.”

He did not believe so much work had ever gone into the stretch of road, which had been notorious for slips for many years.

”Time will be the real test, of course. This work has been the chance to give it our very best effort. If this doesn’t succeed, I’m sure that nothing will, short of spending millions on it.”.

The project started as a challenge the mayor gave to the community at the meeting at the Moeraki Marae late last year.

”They more than met that challenge.”

An NZTA subsidy was not available for the road, and the district council offered to help pay if the community matched it in cash or in kind.

In the end the council would have spent about $60,000 of ratepayers’ money on the road.

He was keen to publicly acknowledge the huge impact the Moeraki community had made. . .

The popularity of the harbour,  Fleurs Place and the tavern leads to a lot of traffic on this road and the detour was less than optimal.

The rebuilding is a tribute to the people who accepted the mayor’s challenge.

This project could be a template for progress in other areas where there’s an opportunity for the council and community to work together.


Rural round-up

September 27, 2014

Forensic tests key in sheep death inquiry – David Bruce:

Forensic results from Australia could determine the direction of Oamaru police investigations into the death of 218 sheep on two North Otago farms in June.

It was initially believed the sheep, worth about $45,000, were shot, but police were never 100% convinced and were having further forensic tests carried out.

Yesterday, Detective Warren Duncan said initial tests were done by a forensic veterinarian.

From those results, it was decided further forensic tests would be carried out to get definitive answers. . .

Water by-law under attack – David Bruce:

Rural people have come out in fierce opposition to a Waitaki District Council draft water bylaw, one describing it as ”a summons to divorce”.

But some councillors, and assets manager Neil Jorgensen, said the criticism was a result of misinterpretation and a lack of definition in the draft bylaw, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher commenting: ”There are a whole lot of things being read in which was never intended.”

Staff and councillors are going to take another look at the bylaw, including whether rural water schemes should be separated from urban. . .

World’s Best Young Shepherds Flock to France:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is sending two young Kiwi shepherds to France this week to take on the world’s best in an international test of sheep farming skills.

Katey Craig and Mitchel Hoare will represent New Zealand at the second World Young Shepherds Challenge, in Auvergne, 30 September–1 October.

Katey, 21, is a junior shepherd at Otiwhiti Station in Hunterville, while 19-year-old Mitchel is a senior cadet at Waipaoa Station, near Gisborne.

“The World Young Shepherds Challenge is a fantastic event, showcasing a vital industry and a range of young people from around the globe who have a major contribution to make to the international sheep farming sector,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion. . .

 Dairy export prices and volumes move upwards over 20 years:

This article examines how dairy export prices and volumes changed between 1992 and 2012. Dairy exports mainly cover milk powder, butter, cheese, yoghurt, and whey. Also see the infographic Dairy exports in 2012 compared with 1992.

20-year summary

Compared with 20 years ago, both dairy export volumes and prices have risen, with most of the growth being in volumes. In 2012, the volume of dairy exports was four times as high as in 1992.

New Zealand is now more diversified in the countries it exports dairy products to. Notably, the amount of dairy exported to China has grown strongly. In the 1960s, New Zealand exported dairy products mainly to the United Kingdom (UK) but this has changed to include the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and North Africa. . . .

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Traditional treatment nets supreme award for Sealord smoked salmon:

Sealord Group’s Hot Manuka Smoked Salmon received a resounding thumbs up from both the professional panel of judges and the consumer judging panel at this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

The 2014 Supreme Award winner is smoked in West Auckland the traditional way, over manuka wood.

Judge Ray McVinnie says the winners he liked most this year were steeped in tradition, but with a modern twist.

“I was very impressed with the way the best things seem to set the trends, not follow them,” Mr McVinnie says. . . .

 

Buyers have ‘pick of the bunch’ as viticulture and agriculture units go on the market for sale:

A cluster of income-producing agricultural and viticulture land holdings in the Nelson region have come onto the market simultaneously – with the intention of having new owners in place in time to capitalise on the various 2015 harvest seasons.

Two high profile wineries, a large scale hop growing and processing operation, and an apple and kiwifruit orchard and packhouse are all up for sale across the region – each for different reasons.

Combined, the quartet of primary production ventures has an asking price of almost $32 million. . . .

 


Even better without boxing

June 23, 2014

When Sally-Ann Donelly of Fat Sally’s and Portside decides to raise money for a good cause, she doesn’t muck about.

On Saturday night she did it superbly with the Portside Punch Charity Boxing event.

As always with a successful event there was a team  who worked hard, but she led it and it is thanks to her it went so well.

An empty wool store at the harbour was transformed into a warm and welcoming dinner venue with a full-size boxing ring in the middle.

Tables of 10 were sold for $2,5000 and there was a full house.

Ten locals had been training since January to provide the entertainment.

Among them was mayor Gary Kircher  who posted this photo on Facebook:

Photo: It's started! First fight - Mel Tavendale very.  Chontelle Watson!

It was the first boxing match I’d attended and my preconceived notions about it were confirmed.

I can understand how you can injure someone by accident in sport but can’t understand how hurting your opponent can be the object of the exercise.

A friend shared my view that the whole night would have been even better without the boxing and said next time she’d prefer to watch jelly or mud wrestling where no-one would be deliberately hurt.

That said, I have a new respect for the agility and fitness of boxers.

The competitors had taken their training seriously but even so were absolutely stonkered by the end of three three-minute rounds.

And there was no doubt the evening was a success.

The entry fee and half-time auction would have raised around $100,000 which is a very good foundation for the Otago Hospice Trust’s campaign to build a hospice in Oamaru.

That is a very large sum of money to be raised in a relatively small community with a single event and there’s no doubt the hospice was the winner on the night thanks to Sally-Ann’s leadership and hard work.


Waitaki weather

April 18, 2014

From the Facebook page of Waitaki Mayor, Gary Kircher:

Gary Kircher – Mayor for Waitaki

Latest update on river levels:

North Otago
Kakanui at Clifton Falls has peaked at 580m3/s at 12:30pm and currently at 495m3/s and still receding.
Kakanui at Mill Dam is at 550m3/s and still rising, the water from Clifton falls will take approx. 4 hours to reach this site. This will continue to rise and then slowly recede after. The SH1 at Maheno is closed.
Shag at the Grange is holding at 230m3/s

The rainfall for the North Otago catchment has slightly eased off with hourly accumulations now at 5-7mm and hour.

 


Standing up for Otago

January 19, 2014

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull’s campaign to Stand Up Otago has gone quiet with his less than enthusiastic response to the news that Shell plans to drill for oil and gas in the Great South Basin.

But Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher is happy to stand up for jobs.

Anadarko is due to start exploratory deep-sea drilling in the next few weeks, and Mr Kircher said yesterday’s meeting had provided a chance to ensure that safeguards were taken to protect the environment, as well as a chance to ensure the district was well placed to take advantage of any opportunities that could arise.

”The potential is absolutely enormous for our region. Oil and gas has transformed the Taranaki region, bringing prosperity, jobs and opportunities for the whole area. Test results indicate that the area being tested off Otago may have much greater reserves than Taranaki.

”I was elected on the basis of growing our economy in the Waitaki district and I see this as a major possible game-changer for us all.

”Even if the production is based in Dunedin, the flow-on effects for our district will be significant.”

He said he would always be willing to listen to any concerns people might have about oil and gas exploration.

”I represent our district and will do what I can to pass on those concerns and ensure they are dealt with properly.” . . .

Otago won’t be as strong as it should be if Dunedin is weak.

The jobs and economic growth that would flow from Shell basing its exploration in Dunedin would benefit the whole province.

This prospect has its detractors but there’s more than a little hypocrisy in their protests as these letters to the editor in the weekend ODT says:

The front page article (ODT, 13.1.14) regarding the small group of protesters who want to block the offshore drilling by Anadarko gave prominence to an incredibly small proportion of the Dunedin population; as such it did not deserve front page positioning. That said it was interesting to note these people who wish to limit oil exploration were using boats and boards, wetsuits and probably vehicles to get to Port Chalmers, all of which need petroleum products in their manufacture.

This group would carry a greater message if they used wooden canoes, dressed in wool, and used cork as their flotation aid. If this group want alternatives why can’t they come up with bright ideas and interesting conversations, not protests and negativity? R.J. McKenzie.

Oh the irony of the Oil Free Otago rent-a-mob pictured on the front page. Virtually every object and action in your pictures of the so-called protesters is ultimately derived from the use of fossil fuels – including the PVC jackets, neoprene wetsuits, plastic kayaks, the paint on the banners to the smart phones and computers used to organise the mob. It even appears as though the majority of protesters travelled to Port Chalmers from Dunedin in private motor cars and one wonders how much fossil fuel was burnt in travelling to Dunedin by participants in the Oil Free Future Summit. When will these people learn that in every single moment of every day everybody uses something that is either drilled or mined and that include the alternative future technologies so beloved of the rent-a-mob. The alternative is the Stone-Age. Peter Dymock.

Anti-tobacco lobbyists who smoked would have no credibility, anti-progress protesters who use the fuels against which the rail and provide no alternatives for sustainable growth are little better.

Waitaki’s mayor understands the importance of economic growth in the region and is standing up for Otago, I’m not sure Dunedin’s does and is.


Childish people trying to play grown-up

November 15, 2013

Quote of the day:

”. . . As much of an attraction as the Moeraki Boulders are, I’m happy to lay a sizeable wager that when the first boat does arrive in New Zealand waters, it won’t be sailing past the West Coast, rounding Stewart Island, and making its way up to Oamaru.

”These are childish people trying to play grown-up. If they want to spend their days walking up and down the beach staring at the ocean, perhaps they could do something useful and bring a rubbish bag to tidy up while they’re at it.” Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

He was responding to reports that Right Wing Resistance New Zealand (RWR) had delivered pamphlets seeking men to form ”armed coastal patrols” to ”protect” the coast from ”people smugglers” and ”illegal foreign fishing”.

The Minister was supported by Waitaki Mayor:

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said Mr Chapman and his group were ”a joke” and the idea of armed boat patrols was ”just more idiocy from a group of people that are really not bright enough to know what they are doing”.

Quite.

If #gigtownoamaru becomes the southern hemisphere’s first gigatown  it will be even more attractive to immigrants but it is not in need of this sort of defence.


Waitaki District election results

October 12, 2013

The ODT reports Gary Kircher has been elected mayor of the Waitaki District, beating nearest rival Jim Hopkins by about 400 votes.

Eric Spittal polled 1024 votes, while David Wilson received 696 votes, Greg Smith 485, Helen Stead 404 and Fliss Butcher 144. 

Jim Hopkins (3309 votes), Hugh Perkins (3159), Melanie Tavendale (2996), Sally Hope (2932), Peter Garvan (2721) and Colin Wollstein (2648) will represent the Oamaru ward, while Kathy Dennison (583) won the right to represent the Waihemo ward.

William Kingan (906) and Sharyn Price (572) will represent the Corriedale ward.

The voter return rate was 55.43%.

This means long-serving councillor Helen Stead who also stood for mayor missed out on a seat on the council too.


And the mayor is . . .

October 12, 2013

Lianne Dalziel has been confirmed as mayor of Christchurch with 70% of the vote.

Long-serving Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has a new job as mayor of Christchurch after securing around 50,000 votes more than her nearest rival.

In what many regarded as a foregone conclusion Dalziel convincingly won Christchurch’s mayoraty race with around 70,000 votes, preliminary results show.

Her closest rival, Christchurch businessman Paul Lonsdale, got around 22,000 votes. . .

Early results show that Auckland mayor Len Brown will be returned.

. . . A spokesman from Auckland Council confirmed the “progress result” had counted 148,944 votes in favour of Mr Brown.

His closest competitor, John Palino, had earned 98,930 votes. . . .

I will update this post as results come in and welcome your updates in the comments.

UPDATE:

Former Northland  MP John Carter has won the Far North mayoralty from Wayne Brown.

Mr Carter resigned as New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands in July to return to his home in the Far North and contest the mayoralty.

Defeated mayor Wayne Brown, who has served two terms, said he had phoned Mr Carter to offer his congratulations. He said he was sure the former MP would do his best for the Far North – and he is only a phone call away if the new mayor wants any support. . .

Former councillor Sheryl Mai is the new Whanagrai mayor.

. . . Ms Mai won 4897 votes in the preliminary count, more than 1100 ahead of her nearest rival, councillor Greg Martin. . .

Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker has won a second term, beating her nearest rival, Ewan Wilson, by 2770 votes.

Napier has a new mayor – Bill Dalton who gained  more than double the votes of this nearest rival, Roy Sye.

Rachel Reese has made history by becoming Nelson’s first woman mayor, taking the mayoralty by almost 1500 votes from Aldo Miccio.

3pm:

Gary Kircher has won the Waitaki District mayoralty. His biggest rival Jim Hopkins also stood for the council and topped the poll in the Oamaru ward.

Tim Shadbolt has been returned as mayor of Invercargill.

With six terms as mayor, and two previous terms in control at Waitemata City, Shadbolt is the longest-serving mayor in office in the country.. . .

Farmer Mike Havill is the new mayor of the Westland district.

Richard Kempthorne has been returned for a third term as Tasman District Mayor.

Brendan Duffy has won the mayoral race in Horowhenua.

Ross Paterson is Mayor of the Western Bay of Plenty again.

Radio NZ reports:

Matamata-Piako District new mayor is Jan Barnes.

Mayor of South Waikato District Neil Sinclair has been returned to office.

Max Baxter is the new Mayor of Otorohanga District.

Brian Hanna is back as mayor of Waitomo District Council.

Jim Mylchreest replaces Alan Livingston who retired after many years as mayor of Waipa District Council.

Mayor of Hauraki District John Tregidga has been returned for a fourth term.

In Rotorua, former MP Steve Chadwick will take over from three-term mayor Kevin Winters with more than 98 percent of votes counted.

Queenstown Lakes District incumbent Vanessa van Uden has been re-elected as mayor, beating hopeful Al Angus, of Glenorchy, by more than 4500 votes.

Central Otago mayor Tony Lepper has been re-elected.

It was a two-horse race for Central Otago’s mayoralty, and preliminary results show Mr Lepper garnered 4416 votes, while Lynley Claridge drew 2521.

The Southland Times has full results for the province including the news that Gary Tong is the new mayor of the Southland District Council.
Sitting mayor Tracy Hicks was elected unopposed in Gore and Bryan Cadogan was re-elected mayor of Clutha.
Timaru District has a new mayor – Damon Odey.
Claire Barlow has won a second term as mayor of Mackenzie District.
Andrew Judd is the new mayor of New Plymouth after beating incumbent Harry Duynhoven.
South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop and Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke both retained their chains with comfortable majorities.
Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman has been re-elected for a fourth term.
In the Bay of Plenty:

Tauranga’s Stuart Crosby looks set to return as mayor.

Ross Paterson is mayor of the Western Bay of Plenty again.

Mark Boyle has received 3672 votes while Don Thwaites got 2275.

Tony Bonne has been elected mayor of the Whakatane district.

Opotiki voted in John Forbes as mayor of the district council.

Don Cameron is Ruapehu District’s new mayor.

Dave Cull has been returned as mayor of Dunedin.

TV3 has a list of mayors elected from north to south.

Those not already accounted for above are:

GISBORNE: Meng Foon

HASTINGS: Lawrence Yule

WHANGANUI:: Annette Main
MASTERTON: Lyn Patterson (new)
UPPER HUTT: Wayne Guppy
HUTT CITY: Ray Wallace

GREY: Tony Kokshoorn (unopposed)

 


64% undecided

September 16, 2013

An Oamaru Mail poll (not online) shows it’s a two horse race for the Waitaki District mayoralty but 64% of those polled were undecided.

A total of 267 people they called said they were going to vote.

Of those who had decided 13% said they will be voting for Jim Hopkins and 12% for Gary Kircher.

The other five candidates, got combined support of  11%.

I don’t know how many people were called in total nor do I know the margin of error.

But this does confirm what the grapevine is telling me – the race is between Hopkins and Kircher but most people are still undecided as to which they’ll tick.


Good leaders don’t always take popular option

September 4, 2013

At the mayoral forum on Monday evening candidates were asked about listening to the public.

Gary Kircher gave one of the best answers of the night when he asked how many people in the audience thought the Opera House shouldn’t have been restored.

Not a single hand was raised.

He then said had he asked who’d been against the restoration at the time, at least some hands would have gone up because there was strong opposition to the project.

He accepted some responsibility  for that, saying the council of the day, of which he was a member, didn’t take the public with it.

But he also said that the popular option isn’t always right and leaders have to lead and sometimes that means taking the unpopular option.

Listening to the people who elect you is very important, but having listened and given due consideration to all the views expressed, good leaders should do the right thing, whether or not it is popular.


Meeting the candidates

September 3, 2013

Extra seats had to be brought in to the Opera House’s Ink Box to cope with the crowd at the forum for the seven candidates seeking the Waitaki mayoralty organised by the Otago Chmaber of Comemrce and Otago Daily times last week.

Last night’s forum, organised by the Oamaru Mail, was in the Opera House’s main auditorium and attracted about 200 people. That’s a good crowd in a small town for such an event.

The meeting started promptly at the advertised time of 7pm. Chair Phil Hope said it would finish on the dot of 9pm and it did.

Each candidate was given a couple of minutes to introduce themselves and their vision for the District then had a minute each to answer questions which had been sent in by Mail readers.

Most of the focus was on generalities.

Federated Farmers is organising a forum with a rural focus later in the month.

The seven candidates are Fliss Butcher, Jim Hopkins, Gary Kircher, Greg Smith, Eric Spittal, Helen Stead and David Wilson.

No-one disgraced themselves but I think three showed they didn’t have the knowledge and ability required for the job.

If you were just going on performance last night, I don’t think there was a lot between the other four.

But if the grapevine is reliable there are two front runners – Hopkins, who is the current deputy, and Kircher, a former deputy who stood against the current mayor, Alex Familton,  three years ago.

He made it an all or nothing bid, wasn’t successful and is again standing only for mayor while Hopkins is also standing for council.

Both have different strengths, both have different weaknesses.

One question asked was about economic development.

I regard local government’s role in that as similar to central government’s – it should have policies which make it easy for people to do business, within whatever boundaries are necessary, and leave them to do it.

I don’t think local body politicians and bureaucrats are any better at picking winners than central ones and I don’t want them trying with ratepayers’ money.

At local level, a how-can-we-help council culture rather than a you-have-to-do-this one would be a good start.

Another question asked them what they’d do with their day jobs if they were successful.

All said being mayor would be their day jobs which highlights an issue.

The position of mayor of a geographically large district with a small population (about 20,000 people) and therefore small rating base doesn’t pay much.

Those who hark back to the days when being mayor was part-time and unpaid might say it pays too much.

But if the role has to be a full time one, a lot of people who aren’t retired, don’t have businesses which can run without them, or who have no other income, would think it doesn’t pay enough.


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

October 14, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Some old mayors some new in south

October 9, 2010

Two southern mayors lost their seats in the local body elections.

Central Otago District elected Tony Lepper, with sitting mayor Malcolm MacPherson coming in third place behind another challenger Jeff Hill.

Clutha District’s new mayor is Bryan Cadogan who beat the incumbent Juno Hayes who was seeking a fifth term.

Queenstown Lakes District has its first female mayor – Vanessa van Uden . Sitting mayor Clive Geddes didn’t seek re-election.

Waitaki District re-elected Alex Familton with a majority of 1183 over the only serious challenger and former Deputy mayor, Gary Kircher.

Invercargill people gave Tim Shadbolt a majority of more than 11,000 over challenger Suzanne Prentice.

Southland mayor Frano Cardno was returned for her seventh term.

Gore mayor Tracy Hicks was not challenged.

Timaru returned sitting mayor Janie Annear for a third term.

Mackenzie District elected Claire Barlow as its new mayor by only 30 votes.

Further north I’m delighted Christchurch voters returned Bob Parker as mayor – and not just because he defeated Jim Anderton.

Len Brown beat John Banks to be first mayor of the new Auckland council. Voters also delivered a left-leaning council which disproves accusations from the left that uniting Auckland was a right-wing plot.

I think this means Robert Guyton, a regular commenter here, won a seat on the Southland Regional Council. If so, congratulations.


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