Rural round-up

December 8, 2019

The changing face of the dairy farm – Gerald Piddock:

It wasn’t easy for Doug and Tracey Chappell to get onto their own land.

But their entry-level Pukeatua dairy farm means more than just what the 60 hectares and its relatively small 150 cow herd add to their long-term business plan.

“It’s our place and it’s something for our kids as well and they have even talked about running the farm in the future,” said Doug. . . 

Shortsighted? – Annette Scott:

Experts fear high ewe prices are encouraging farmers to sell breeding stock to processors at such a rate New Zealand exports might in a few years not have enough product.

That would provide an opening for Australia to grab market share from NZ. There is also a worry a shortage of stock could lead to a single desk seller, thus eliminating procurement competition.

The problem is compounded by the falling number of farmers willing to breed the lambs. Many young farmers are not interested and instead buy in store lambs to fatten. . . 

Striped dairy cows – a rare breed :

Opunake farmer Andy Whitehead milks eight different breeds of cattle, but Lakenvelders are his favourite. They hail from the Netherlands and are easy to spot in the dark.

If you drive past Andy Whitehead’s Taranaki farm at night, his favourite cows are easy to spot.

They look as though they’ve been draped with a white blanket.

“Lakenvelder simply means ‘white blanket’ or ‘white sheet’ which describes the cow with a stripe over her back,” Andy says. . . 

50 avocado trees completely stripped in Hawke’s Bay orchard – Georgia May Gilbertson:

“Stupidity and desperation” are the only reasons a police officer can think of after 50 avocado trees were completely stripped of their fruit in Hawke’s Bay. 

Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan said the theft happened at an orchard belonging to Crab Farm Winery in Bay View and was reported to police last weekend. 

He said the thieves cut through a fence near a group of beehives and it was  estimated they took an apple crate worth of fruit. . . 

Xmas cheer from Fonterra as the bosses at the dairy co-op get back to basics – Point of Order:

Dairy   farmers  had  some   Xmas cheer  this   week,  as  dairy  giant  Fonterra told them  the  forecast  payout  would  be the fourth-highest-ever,  at the mid-point of its farmgate milk price range.

The  $7.30kg/ms means   the cash payout  for the season  will  reach $11.2bn, a rise of about $400m from the earlier  forecast.

There  could  even  be  a  clap  from the cowsheds for the  new bosses of   Fonterra  who are  turning around the co-op’s  financial  performance, as they apply  a back-to-basics  approach  to  recovering from last year’s  horrendous  $605m  loss.  The first  quarter of the  new financial  year has  gone  well. . . 

Canterbury running out of water??? – Gravedodger:

I have returned to the world after another time of peace and calm at “The Gorge”.

Rakaia Gorge that is and it was somewhat different this time. The river that ruled Mona Anderson’s life inspired her to write of her time married to the then manager of Mt Algidus Station, which lies above the confluence of the Rakaia and Wilberforce rivers, the story related in her first book of nine, “A River Rules my Life”. That river was in flood for many recent days peaking at over three thousand cumecs at least twice.

A cumec is a cubic meter of water flowing past a point each second. Just absorb that figure,  three thousand cubic meters every second!

Do the maths. . . 


Rural round-up

November 20, 2019

Small dog helping with big message – Sally Rae:

Poppy might be a miniature dachshund but the message the diminutive dog is helping spread is a big one.

Poppy is the constant companion of Harriet Bremner, a North Canterbury-based teacher-turned-author who is focused on making the most out of life.

Miss Bremner’s partner, James “Bob” Hayman, was killed in a farm machinery accident in the Hakataramea Valley in January 2017.

Following his death, she launched the brand Gurt and Pops and released her first children’s book Bob `n Pops, which was a tale of the special relationship between Mr Hayman and the couple’s dog Poppy. . . 

How banks peddled a product that killed farmers – Nikki Mandow:

The disastrous impact of banks selling risky financial derivatives to farmers is still being felt in rural communities more than a decade later. How did it happen and how can we stop banks doing it again?

Rural advocate Janette Walker has a storage box at her house. She calls it her “suicide box”. In it are letters from farmers – mostly men, mostly in late middle age – who tell her about the impact on their lives of the events surrounding the global financial crisis (GFC) back in 2007-2008. 

The letters came to Walker as part of a research project she worked on in 2010 with Massey University banking specialist Dr Claire Matthews. . . 

Spooked insurers walking away from agriculture – Ean Higgins:

Farmers face potential ruin as insurers spooked by climate change, drought and bushfires ­refuse to cover crops worth billions of dollars.

Plantation crops such as ­bananas and pineapples, some of which were destroyed in the latest Queensland bushfires, could be the next to be uninsurable, a ­report published on Monday by global insurance broker Gallagher warns.

“Plantation insurance will be one of the first casualties of climate change,” the report says. Other crops including grapes, citrus and almonds could be not far behind, with insurers pulling cover altogether or raising premiums to the point where they become unaffordable for most growers. . .

Research to help rural health – Pam Jones:

A Central Otago health professional hopes her upcoming research will help address some of the inequities faced in the rural health sector. Pam Jones talks to Sarah Walker about a national fellowship she has received that will help her look into the challenges and complexities faced by rural allied health professionals.

A Central Otago physiotherapist will notch up a national first following health research she hopes will help all rural communities.

Sarah Walker has just been named a recipient of a Health Research Council of New Zealand Clinical Research Training Fellowship.

The $204,000 fellowship will allow Mrs Walker, who is a physiotherapist for Central Otago Health Services (Cohsl), which operates from Dunstan Hospital, to begin a doctorate at the University of Otago next year. . . 

Who should take up the challenge? – Gravedodger:

Many people who spend their time in cities with occasional trips to popular places for relief, often  have little idea how much of NZ landscape is bereft of communications as they have evolved to in the closing second decade of century 21.

We store our mobile home around five Kms from the northern end of CHC main runway. A site we used as a “Town House ” during our time in Akaroa.
It has zero access to the Spark network and is marginal for Vodafone.

We also have a site at a small camp just south of the two bridges that cross the Rakaia where it emerges from its gorge. That site has even more precarious phone links and our site has a luvly old Cabbage Tree,  ‘ti kouka’,   that completely blocks line of site to Optus. . .

ClearTech a gamechanger for Canterbury dairy farmer:

A revolutionary dairy effluent treatment system is delivering enormous environmental benefits for Lincoln dairy farmer Tom Mason.

Ravensdown’s ClearTech system, developed in conjunction with Lincoln University, uses a coagulant to bind effluent particles together to settle them out from the water. This clarifying process reduces freshwater use, helps existing effluent storage go further and reduces the environmental and safety risks linked with farm dairy effluent (FDE). . .


Rural round-up

May 30, 2018
Collective responsibility tough – ODT editorial:

The Government and farming leaders have made one of the hardest decisions imaginable in deciding to attempt the eradication of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand.

The decision has been made to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.

Farming leaders have thrown their support behind the eradication attempt, but it is the actual farmers with the infected herds who will now be facing the reality of losing cows they may have bred into milk-producing animals. . . 

Mycolplasma bovis – focusing on the immediate – Keith Woodford:

[This is an open letter to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, sent on the evening of 29 May 2018, as part of an ongoing dialogue.]

Dear Damien

Mycoplasma bovis: focusing on the immediate

This is a further open letter. It is an open letter because it contains information that I believe both you and others need to hear.

First of all, I want to acknowledge phone and email interactions we have had in recent days. I note in particular that you emailed me at 3am this morning which surely tells its own story. Farmers too are emailing me at that time, indicative of the stress they are under.

Now that the eradication decision has been made, then I do not wish to debate that here. Instead I want to focus on maximising the chances that it will work and minimising the pain to the affected farmers.

On the Newshub AM show this morning I focused among other things on the need for MPI to ‘up its game’. Response Director Geoff Gwyn subsequently acknowledged that there may well be lessons to learn, but did not name any when asked by the presenter, and said that he thought that MPI had done many things well. . . 

Mental health fears for farmers over mass cow cull – Tim Brown:

The people at ground zero of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak are warning that the eradication bid could have disastrous knock-on effects.

Others in the small Southland town of Winton are backing the government cull of 150,000 cows.

Yesterday, the government announced it was committed to eradicating the illness with a ten year plan that would cost about $886 million.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease.

It was discovered in July last year and since then 41 farms have been confirmed as infected. That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis rated ‘low risk’ by health officials – Gerard Hutching:

The possibility of humans contracting Mycoplasma bovis from eating meat or drinking milk from infected cattle has been dismissed by officials and food safety experts as a “low risk”.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said the disease was not a food safety risk. Concerns have again been raised over the culling of 152,000 cattle and whether their meat or milk might threaten human health.

“There is no issue with eating beef or drinking milk from infected herds. This disease is in every other farming nation and people have been consuming products from cattle with Mycoplasma bovis for decades,” MPI said. . . 

Good on-farm management essential for eradication plan to succeed:

Good on-farm animal management will be essential if plans to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) are to succeed, the New Zealand Veterinary Association says.

“This will be essential to stop the infection spreading and to ensure M. bovis isn’t re-introduced into New Zealand,” NZVA President Dr. Peter Blaikie said.

The industry and government today announced a phased eradication plan to attempt to get rid of M. bovis. . . 

M, bovis: how did we get here?:

Everyone’s been playing catch-up since the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak – and everyone’s blamed each other.

On Monday, the government announced a 10-year plan to eradicate the disease, saying about 150,000 cows would have to be slaughtered.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease, at a cost of about $886 million to government and industry bodies.

The news is devastating for many farmers who have devoted their lives to the industry. Some fear their livelihoods will be destroyed.

But how did we get here? . . 

In a word from Sir Humphrey – courageous – Gravedodger:

During my life spent in primary production one of the most stressful segments arose around the determination to eradicate TB. Bovine Tuberculosis is one insidious little beastie with a remarkable ability to thwart detection.

Once every  year all bovine stock were mustered and put up a race where a MAF person would inject a small dose of reagent  in the soft skin  between the tail and the rump, three days later that crat would return and scan by feel for a lump at that injection site and if a reactor (a palpable lump) was discovered that beast would be slaughtered asap where TB would be confirmed  post mortem but alas sometimes the animal would be a “clear”.
One reactor and the whole heard would be placed on ‘movement control’ requiring any cattle for sale to carry a “white ear tag” and receive  a discounted price.

We farmed in an area of the Wairarapa where our eight neighbours all went on and off “movement control” over the twenty years yet surprisingly  we managed to remain “Clear” throughout the two decades we operated there.
It did not come easy, I wish to forget how many nights were spent sometimes more than five hours on an open quad bike seeking the dreaded Possum, an uninvited guest that could become infected with Bovine TB but before inevitable death could infect pasture from suppurating lesions, leaving infected grass to be ingested by a grazing beast and a “reactor”  created. . .

Olive Oil 
the New Zealand Way: –

David Walshaw 

“I have a lot invested in each drop of this gorgeous, golden liquid. There is the time and money, of course, but there is far more than that, too. It is the distillation of a dream and the physical and emotional effort required to realise that dream. The flavours and the aromas of the oil are like a story — the story of the tree’s experience of a year, itself a chapter in the life of the tree, and the tree’s life a volume in the ages long story of the cultivation of the olive. My own story is in there, too, intertwined with the gnarled wood of the olive tree.” 

When, after a successful career in banking and finance, David Walshaw decided it was time for a change, he settled on growing olives for oil as his new direction. Neither he nor his wife Helen had any previous experience, but by doing the research, by seeking the advice of other growers, by putting in the work, by trial and not a few errors, they made a go of it. . . 

The build of Synlait’s liquid packaging facility is on track:

Synlait Milk is pleased with the progress made on the building of its advanced liquid dairy packaging facility by Tetra Pak.

The two companies have worked together for over ten years, beginning with the building of Synlait’s anhydrous milkfat (AMF) plant in 2007.

The new facility will produce fresh milk and cream for Foodstuffs South Island’s private label brands from early 2019, and will be a platform for Synlait to pursue a range of dairy-based products for export markets. . . 

Milk NZ Holding surprised by Fonterra’s $7 payout for 2019 given outlook for global demand Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Milk New Zealand Holding, which owns and manages dairy operations controlled by Shanghai Pengxin, says it didn’t expect such a bullish forecast from Fonterra Cooperative Group for its 2019 milk payout.

Last week Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for 2019 of $7 per kilogram of milk solids from the $6.75 /kgMS projected for the current season, while cutting its projected dividends for 2018, saying rising global dairy prices were squeezing margins. . .

Federated Farmers appoints Terry Copeland as its new CEO:

The man who helped transform NZ Young Farmers has been appointed to lead the country’s most influential rural lobby group.

Terry Copeland, 50, has been named the next chief executive of Federated Farmers. He replaces Graham Smith.

Mr Copeland has been the chief executive of NZ Young Farmers since 2013 and is looking forward to a new challenge. . . 

Butchers ‘living in fear’ as vegan attacks on the rise, says Countryside Alliance – Helena Horton:

Attacks on small businesses by vegan activists are on the rise, according to the Countryside Alliance.

Death threats, stoked by social media and encouraged by international groups of activists, have caused butchers and farmers to “live in fear.”

Marlow Butchers, in, Ashford, Kent, was targeted earlier this month by activists who daubed red paint on the doors and windows of the shop . .

Organic vs conventional food fight: Focus on pesticides distracts from real environmental problems – Marc Brazeau :

A quick note in my news feed highlighted a new data set from the World Bank that shows that while the US has one of the most productive agriculture sectors in the world, it also has some of the lowest rates of pesticide and fertilizer use. Good news. The author’s title, however, stuck me as unfortunate: World’s Model for Sustainability in Food Production. His write up was about pesticide and fertilizer use, and while high yields, with low pesticide and fertilizer rates are very commendable (and surprising to many), pesticide and fertilizer use is hardly the last word in sustainability in agriculture. And among the biggest impacts of agriculture: land use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution; pesticides hardly rate. And yet…

One of the things that has really begun to stand out in the debate between advocates of technologically progressive agriculture and the critics of technological agriculture is the persistence of the idea that the use of pesticides is still a major problem, if not the central environmental impact of agriculture, that needs to be addressed. This is unfortunate. It’s just not accurate. It’s a cul-de-sac in the discussion about how to improve the environmental footprint of agriculture. It’s a distraction from the addressing the major environmental impacts. . .


Rural round-up

January 26, 2016

Westland Milk’s man-on-the-ground in China says the anxiety over China has been exaggerated – especially as it relates to their dairy appetite – Gregg Wafelbakker:

In recent weeks there has been a lot of negative media about economic conditions in China.

In particular the slowing growth, a volatile share market and a decrease in dairy imports.

The potential impact of much of this has been exaggerated. Given the value of China to Westland, indeed the whole of the New Zealand dairy industry,  it is important that we understand what is happening. . . 

Volume,not value, gets record red meat returns – Sally Rae:

Total red meat export revenue might have reached a record high in the first quarter of the 2015-16 meat export season, but average per-tonne values were down.

More shipments were responsible for the increased revenue in beef and veal, lamb and mutton, analysis by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service showed.

Beef and veal exports generated $682 million in the first quarter, up 14% compared with the same period last season. . . 

Comvita’s share price soars as more honey equals more money – Fiona Rotherham:

BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey and health products maker, is riding the crest of a consumer push for health and wellness products with its share price having risen 124 percent in the past year.

The Te Puke-based company attributes the soaring share price to its improved financial performance and a big surge in demand for manuka honey products. Australia’s Capilano Honey and vitamin and health supplement company Blackmores have also seen their share prices go through the roof in the past year – 151 percent and 424 percent respectively, on the back of rising sales in China in particular.

Comvita now derives half of its revenue from China for its overall range, which includes products from manuka honey, olive leaf, and fish oil. . .

Economic terrorism, count the cost and weep – Gravedodger:

Lake Sumner.

Not many of us have been there, possibly most would not even know where it is.

Plenty of us have an image that fresh water in this bountiful country is under serious threat due to the massive growth in irrigation.

The East coast of the South Island has gazillions of acres of flat to rolling arable land that has for ever suffered summer dry that inhibits productive activity. . . 

Ashburton Zone Water Management Committee focuses on proposed land-use rules:

The Ashburton Water Management Zone Committee will meet for the first time this year on Tuesday 26 January to discuss how new land-use rules will affect local land-users.

The committee will receive a report from Environment Canterbury on the Nutrient Management and Waitaki Plan Change to the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The proposed Plan Change includes new region-wide nutrient management rules relating to land used for farming, and the zone committee will consider how it affects land-users in the Ashburton zone.

It requires land-users to implement Good Management Practices, and farming activities requiring resource consent will need Farm Environment Plans. The Plan Change also addresses phosphorus management and is expected to be notified for public consultation in February. . . 

A new food resolution for 2016:  Support family farmers! – Uptown Farms:

Statistics show that over 30% of all new year’s resolutions have to do with food – most often, eating less of it. Stats also indicate that by this time of year 1 out of 3 have already given up on those resolutions

So let me challenge you to a new kind of food resolution for 2016. Instead of just worrying about how much of it and what types of it you consume, I challenge you to also start caring about the people who are raising it – the family farmers. Below is a list of things you can do to support family farmers!

1. Stop determining the quality of farmer by the size of the farm! . . .

What farmers wish you knew about farmers – Pink Tractor:

From ‘farming is easy’ to ‘farmers are rich,’ there are a million things consumers think they know about farmers. We asked our amazing farm community what the one thing they wish people knew about farmers. These are the responses.

Farmers are smart! They have to be everything – plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, scientists, vets and more. Every day!

Farming is a lifestyle, not a job. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every day of the year. It’s almost impossible to take a vacation, especially if you have animals. . .


Rural round-up

August 20, 2015

Dairy diversification opportunities in SE Asia:

Growing consumer demand in South East Asia offers plenty of opportunity for the New Zealand dairy industry to increase its exports of consumer-ready products into the region, a new report shows.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today released Opportunities for New Zealand Dairy Products in South East Asia,which assesses possible “build”, “buy” and “niche” strategies across seven dairy consumer product categories in six South East Asian countries.

New Zealand is this year commemorating 40 years of ties with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and ASEAN is New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner, Mr Joyce says. . . 

First Milk through New High-Efficiency Dryer at Pahiatua:

The new high-efficiency milk powder plant at Fonterra’s Pahiatua site has kicked into gear, processing its first milk from the Co-op’s lower North Island farmers.

Whole milk powder from the new plant will soon head to customers in more than 20 markets worldwide including South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Fonterra Managing Director Global Operations Robert Spurway says the new dryer at Pahiatua is part of the Co-operative’s strategy to drive greater efficiency and value in its product mix. . . 

Profound ignorance or is that too kind – Gravedodger:

The chatterati fixation on the current lower prices for NZ Dairy exports reveals a need to find a process to turn the daily garbage produced by almost all those pontificating  into fertilizer, at least that would create something useful

Fonterra is a highly visible, high profile corporate in NZ, they suffer slings and arrows because of that fact and with so many included in the wide spread total scene as suppliers, process workers, tanker drivers, then add in the massive numbers involved in Dairy support farming, maintenance, construction and upgrading of farms, factories and freight down stream nearly everybody has some connection to someone involved.
That makes for many armchair experts, however their knowledge is based on more accurate information than much of the sheer guesswork and making stuff up that emanates from the aforementioned Chatterati

That however is the local scene and has so very little to do with what has been creating headlines for the media and attack lines for politicians both relying on the significant lack of understanding of that which goes to make the present trading price what it is. World dairy trade perhaps one of the most volatile and protected commodities that has storage and shelf life challenges. . . 

Russia repeals Fonterra import ban

Russia has lifted two-year-old import bans on products from some of Fonterra’s dairy factories.

In the midst of the 2013 botulism scare, which testing later revealed to be a false alarm, Russia temporarily revoked some of Fonterra’s export licences.

This week, the Russian veterinary service Rosselkhoznadzor reinstated the licences for 29 of Fonterra’s plants. . . .

Speech to the Seafood New Zealand 2015 conference – Nathan Guy:

Thank you for the invitation to open the 2015 New Zealand Seafood Industry Conference.

Your industry is vital to the economy, especially regional economies, directly providing 8000 jobs and earning more than $1.5 billion in export revenue each year.

This year’s conference has a great theme. “Sustainable Seafood – Adding Value” is a perfect summary of where the wider primary sector – not just seafood – needs to head, and matches with our priorities as a Government.

Sustainability and adding value are two of the keys to unlocking new growth in the primary sector.

Our ability to increase the amount of seafood we harvest is limited, so we need to find new and innovative ways to increase our earnings. . . 

Caution evident in rural sector:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 79 fewer farm sales (-15.4%) for the three months ended July 2015 than for the three months ended July 2014. Overall, there were 433 farm sales in the three months ended July 2015, compared to 479 farm sales for the three months ended June 2015 (-9.6%), and 512 farm sales for the three months ended July 2014. 1,719 farms were sold in the year to July 2015, 10.6% fewer than were sold in the year to July 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to July 2015 was $27,796 compared to $26,680 recorded for three months ended July 2014 (+4.2%). The median price per hectare fell 4.6% compared to June.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index fell 2.9% in the three months to July compared to the three months to June. Compared to July 2014 the REINZ All Farm Price Index rose by 3.9%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . . 

 Alice Mabin: Riding the long paddock – Pat Deavoll:

It’s quite the journey … from high country shepherd to winner of a national business award.

But it’s a journey Alice Mabin completed this year when she won the 2015 Asia Pacific Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the self-publishing of her book, The Drover.

Mabin’s book tells the historic story of the Great Brinkworth Cattle Drive of 2013, when 18,000 head of cattle were moved 2500km down the “long paddock;” the stock routes of inland Queensland and New South Wales. . . .

New Zealand potatoes bound for Vietnam:

Fresh potatoes from New Zealand have been approved for export to Vietnam, providing a new export opportunity for growers.

Champak Mehta, chief executive of Potatoes New Zealand Inc, says the development, which follows four years’ of negotiations, would absorb excess potatoes in good growing seasons and provide better export prices for growers in less abundant years.

“We currently export about $100m of potatoes each year,“ says Mehta.  “Most of that is frozen, with about $15m worth – about 30,000 tonnes – exported as fresh produce.” . . .

Helping science students find their way:

A new mentoring programme that pairs plant science students with experienced researchers has been launched by the New Zealand Plant Protection Society (NZPPS).

The programme aims to teach students about the use of science in protecting New Zealand’s plant resources and give them a better understanding of the career options available in the sector.

“Ensuring the New Zealand environment is safe from the threat of invasive pests and diseases is vital, in protecting both our horticultural exports and for conservation of our native environment,” says Lisa Jamieson, NZPPs president. . . .

New Zealand National Party's photo.


Naming, blaming shaming

July 13, 2015

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford did some numbers on names and leapt to the conclusion that Auckland’s housing woes are caused by Chinese buyers.

(The transcript is here).

Thomas Lumley, Professor of Biostatistics counters his assertion in a post headlined what’s in a name?

. . . So, there is fairly good evidence that people of Chinese ethnicity are buying houses in Auckland at a higher rate than their proportion of the population.

The Labour claim extends this by saying that many of the buyers must be foreign. The data say nothing one way or the other about this, and it’s not obvious that it’s true. More precisely, since the existence of foreign investors is not really in doubt, it’s not obvious how far it’s true. The simple numbers don’t imply much, because relatively few people are housing buyers: for example, house buyers named “Wang” in the data set are less than 4% of Auckland residents named “Wang.” There are at least three other competing explanations, and probably more.

First, recent migrants are more likely to buy houses. I bought a house three years ago. I hadn’t previously bought one in Auckland. I bought it because I had moved to Auckland and I wanted somewhere to live. Consistent with this explanation, people with Korean and Indian names, while not over-represented to the same extent are also more likely to be buying than selling houses, by about the same ratio as Chinese.

Second, it could be that (some subset of) Chinese New Zealanders prefer real estate as an investment to, say, stocks (to an even greater extent than Aucklanders in general).  Third, it could easily be that (some subset of) Chinese New Zealanders have a higher savings rate than other New Zealanders, and so have more money to invest in houses.

Personally, I’d guess that all these explanations are true: that Chinese New Zealanders (on average) buy both homes and investment properties more than other New Zealanders, and that there are foreign property investors of Chinese ethnicity. But that’s a guess: these data don’t tell us — as the Herald explicitly points out.

One of the repeated points I  make on StatsChat is that you need to distinguish between what you measured and what you wanted to measure.  Using ‘Chinese’ as a surrogate for ‘foreign’ will capture many New Zealanders and miss out on many foreigners.

The misclassifications aren’t just unavoidable bad luck, either. If you have a measure of ‘foreign real estate ownership’ that includes my next-door neighbours and excludes James Cameron, you’re doing it wrong, and in a way that has a long and reprehensible political history.

Property Institute of New Zealand Chief Executive, Ashley Church also uses the term  ‘reprehensible’ and calls the claims ‘an exercise in unveiled racism’.

Mr Church describes the data used by Mr Twyford as ‘shonky’ and says ‘it has so many holes in it that it would be marked with an ‘f’ if it was submitted as a High School Economics project’.

“Mr Twyford uses ‘Asian sounding’ surnames as his means to identify which buyers are ‘Asian Investors’ – without any way of knowing whether the buyer is a New Zealand immigrant who lives here, or an investor based in China”.

“On that basis Mr Twyford should be blowing the whistle on Scottish foreign investment in this country – because a large number of kiwi homes are owned by people who have names starting with ‘Mc’ or ‘Mac’”.

“This is the sort of racist sideshow we’d expect from NZ First – not a serious political party with pretensions to hold the reins of power”.

Mr Church says that Mr Twyfords claims that the Auckland property market is being skewed by non-resident investors may prove to be correct – but he says that any action taken should be based on hard data and facts – and that the race of the buyer shouldn’t be a factor.

“We might be surprised to learn who the major investors really are. Work done by the Overseas Investment Office, in 2012, suggested that the biggest buyers were Americans, Brits, Canadians and Aussies – with the Chinese a long way behind”.

Mr Church says the Property Institute supports the recent move, by the Government, to create a foreign buyer register by requiring investors to have a New Zealand tax number.

“This will provide good, accurate, information and it will help us to determine whether we need to be taking steps to ban foreign investment in kiwi homes – or direct it into the construction of new houses, as is the case in Australia”.

If there is an issue with non-resident foreigners buying houses it’s not one of people from any particular country.

But in light of Twyford’s comments, who could blame anyone with a foreign-sounding name if, as Gravedodger suggests, they start buying property under some variation of The Smith Family Trust numbered whatever.

However, let’s not forget the real problem is not who’s buying houses but that there’s not enough of them in some areas nor who’s responsible for the imbalance between supply and demand:

Hugh Pavletich co-author of the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey says blame the incompetent council:

If Auckland was a normal housing market, like most in North America, house prices would be at or below $300,000 for those on $100,000-a-year household incomes.

Thanks to the incompetent Auckland Council, an Auckland family with a household income of $100,000 is forced to pay $820,000 for a house.

The council is forcing them to pay an extra $520,000 for the house and this new study calling for more apartments in the suburbs is no solution to the crisis.

That money for an Auckland house must come from a grossly excessive mortgage, crippling the city’s residents for the remainder of their working life.

Add the interest over the life of this inflated mortgage and this $100,000-a-year household is forced to pay over $1 million in excessive mortgage costs, and all because the Auckland Council is incompetent.

The council is being deliberately misleading because it has lost control of its costs and has lost the capacity to meet its infrastructure responsibilities to its community

Land supply, infrastructure financing and processing for new housing are issues councils must tackle – and no council more than Auckland needs to deal with this.

Back to Professor Lumley:

But on top of that, if there is substantial foreign investment and if it is driving up prices, that’s only because of the artificial restrictions on the supply of Auckland houses. If Auckland could get its consent and zoning right, so that more money meant more homes, foreign investment wouldn’t be a problem for people trying to find somewhere to live. That’s a real problem, and it’s one that lies within the power of governments to solve.

It’s not difficult for people with a better grasp of statistics and without the political desperation that’s driving  Labour down this divisive path to counter the claims.

But let’s not forget that the naming, blaming and shaming by numbers can hurt people.

I received an email from a Young Nat, Melissa Hu, who wrote:

. . . I was born here, I study here, I work here and I’m a New Zealand citizen but because my last name sounds Chinese I’m apparently a big part of the housing affordability problem – (I’m actually of Mongolian descent but would Labour care about that?

Labour chose to make racially inflammatory comments based on half-baked data from an anonymous real estate agent in Auckland. They chose to say that there are too many Chinese buyers in the Auckland housing market based on whether your last name was Wang, Lee – or even like mine.

 The problem is, this data doesn’t actually prove whether the buyers are foreigners or not. Even NZIER’s Principal Economist said Labour’s comments were “very damaging for a multi-cultural, welcoming place like New Zealand”.

 I’ve lived here all my life, and I’m proud to call myself Kiwi. Young New Zealanders like me are ambitious, excited and open about New Zealand’s future. I don’t think my last name, or yours, has anything to do with trying to buy a house. 

 We need to be encouraging all Kiwis – young, old, European, Maori, Chinese, whatever – to aim high, work hard, create wealth and continue to raise our living standards. We also need the Government to keep taking common sense steps with councils to make more land available for housing. That’s why I support National they know there’s a problem and they have a real plan to fix it.

 We don’t need to start a “pick on the Chinese” attitude which could create more problems than it solves. Auckland’s housing problem is a supply issue – not a Chinese issue. We’re a multicultural, ambitious and prosperous country – I hope we stay that way.

There’s nothing new about this naming, blaming and shaming.

My father-in-law was the butt of some because his name was German, even though he’d though he’d not long returned from serving overseas with the New Zealand army.

How sad that nearly  70 years later it’s still a political tactic.

 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2015

Spare a thought –  Gravedodger:

While Greater Wellington is being rinsed a pocket of Eastern North Canterbury remains in the grip of a crippling drought. Now accepting I have railed against over egging a summer dry as drought and asked for such adverse weather events to be viewed against much more serious world events, what is happening in an area centred on Cheviot is now very serious.

The affected area is quite local from around  the Waipara river to the Conway and extending from the coast variably extending inland approximately 50 kms this land has been able to miss out on autumn rains. A friend who visited Cheviot to play golf from a more favoured area of the region was gobsmacked a week ago. Any land not subject to irrigation is a depressing grey colour with nothing growing even weeds are in trouble. . .

Farmers despondent in Canterbury drought – Jemma Brackebush:

A stock transporter in north Canterbury says he has trucked nearly 20,000 sheep out of the area to date because of the drought, and claims he has never seen anything like it before.

North Canterbury, particularly Cheviot, is suffering from an ongoing drought, and farmers are having to choose between culling capital stock or sending them to graze in other regions, at quite an expense.

Cheviot Transport owner Barry Hanna, who has been driving trucks for 45 years, said he had not seen a drought as bad as this in a long time. . . .

Keep kids off quad bikes experts urge:

A new study into quad bike use among children has added weight to calls for a law change.

The review, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal today, shows over a seven-year period nearly 30 youngsters were taken to Starship Hospital with injuries from bikes. Two of them died.

Dr Rebecca Pearce, who co-authored the study, wants under-16s banned from using them.

“A lot of children’s groups are advocating against children riding quad bikes, but there’s actually no legislation,” she told RadioLIVE. . .

Some relief for pressured Otago farmers –  Jemma Brackebush:

Farmers in north Otago are welcoming the rain that is slowly bringing life to grass and winter feed crops, though they say there is a way to go before they are out of a green drought.

Parts of Otago are recovering from the effects of the drought that also gripped the Canterbury and Marlborough regions earlier this year.

Farmers in north Canterbury, particularly Cheviot, are still without relief, however, resulting in tens of thousands of sheep and cattle being culled or sent to other regions because of the extremely dry conditions. . .

Opportunities for farmers in lower livestock values:

The release of the National Average Market Values (NAMV) for livestock this week presents an opportunity for dairy farmers to reassess the valuation method they are using for their livestock.

This according to Crowe Horwath’s Tony Marshall who says the valuation highlights the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different industry sectors.

“The release of the 2015 values has seen a substantial fall in the market value of dairy cattle, a slight dip in the value of sheep and a significant increase in the value of beef cattle. These changes mirror closely the changes in the associated commodity prices,” Marshall says. . .

Commerce Commission to hold conference on wool scouring authorisation:

The Commission will hold a one day conference on Wednesday 10 June 2015 to discuss matters relating to Cavalier Wool Holding Limited’s application for authorisation to acquire New Zealand Wool Services International’s wool scouring business.

The conference will be held at The Majestic Centre, 100 Willis Street in Wellington.

The notification and agenda of the Conference as well as all other relevant information relating to the application for authorisation can be found on the Commission’s website at http://www.comcom.govt.nz/business-competition/mergers-and-acquisitions/authorisations/merger-authorisation-register/cavalier-and-new-zealand-wool/ . .

Cuts both ways – ASB lowers milk price forecast and predicts OCR to drop:

ASB cuts its 2015/16 milk price forecast
At the same time, ASB predicts OCR cuts later this year
NZ dollar predicted to hit US 67 cents by year-end
Dairy prices are low and likely to stay that way a while longer, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“After a drought-driven false dawn earlier this year, prices are at their lowest in five years,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. “This is driven by a potent mix of domestic production getting a second wind and demand remaining weak. However, we still expect production to slow down to the point where demand can catch up, just later than previously expected.”

“As a result, we have cut our forecast for the 2015/16 season to $5.70/kg as well as adopting Fonterra’s lowered 2014/15 milk price forecast of $4.50/kg.” . . .

Lewis Road Creamery supports new organic dairy co-operative:

Lewis Road Creamery is supporting a new initiative to grow the organic dairy sector in New Zealand and sure up organic milk supply for its growing customer base.

The popular dairy brand is a founding customer of the newly launched Organic Dairy Hub Co-operative of New Zealand. The Hub links organic dairy farms with dairy producers providing certainty of sale for farmers and certainty of supply for purchasers like Lewis Road Creamery.

Peter Cullinane, Lewis Road Creamery founder and one of two independent directors of the Organic Dairy Hub welcomes the initiative. . .


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