Rural round-up

March 9, 2019

MP says Landcorp is ‘out of touch’ – Sally Rae:

Hamish Walker Hamish Walker Landcorp has rejected a suggestion by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker that it is “out of touch” with farmers.

Mr Walker contacted the Otago Daily Times after yesterday’s primary production select committee meeting which he described as a “fiery one”.

But Landcorp spokesman Simon King said the company did not agree with Mr Walker’s categorisation of the exchanges “which from our perspective were, for the most part, well mannered” . . 

Lean tools boost performance – Richard Rennie:

Increasing costs, lack of time, poor performance and farmers’ inability to step out of the business prompted a self-help book to give farmers simple tools and concepts to address these issues.

Manawatu management consultant and dairy farmer Jana Hocken has taken some of the principals often used in big multi-nationals and put them into a New Zealand dairying context in her new book, The Lean Dairy Farm.

Hocken’s book is based on the concept of lean, aiming to achieve continuous improvement of things in farmers’ control. . . 

Entries open for inaugural NZ Primary Industries Awards:

Across New Zealand’s agri-sector, it has long been recognised that we need to tell our primary producers’ story better and to celebrate our innovators.  That’s what the new Primary Industries Awards are all about.

“The awards, which will be presented at the inaugural Primary Industries Summit at Te Papa in Wellington on July 1, are a great chance to increase awareness of the vital role the primary sector plays in the economy,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We want to identify and reward the most successful and innovative primary sector operators, and by promoting those role models we’ll stimulate greater involvement and interest in the primary sector from graduates, investors, politicians and the media.” . . 

Barking drones used on farms instead of sheep dogs – Maja Burry:

Robots aren’t just stealing human jobs, they’re after man’s best friend too – now there’s a drone that can bark like a sheep dog.

The latest drone developments come as more farmers have started using the technology for work on the farm in recent years.

Drone specialist from Christchurch-based DJI Ferntech, Adam Kerr, said the uptake in drones for agricultural uses had now made the National Agricultural Fieldays in Hamilton one of the biggest events in the company’s calendar.

“The past two years have seen farmers embrace drone technology to help with those jobs that are dirty, dangerous or just plain dull,” he said. . . 

2019 Northland Dairy Industry Award winner living the dream:

The 2019 Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners realised while studying at university that the office life wasn’t for them, so they made the decision to chase the New Zealand rural life dream and haven’t looked back.

Colin and Isabella Beazley were named the 2019 Northland Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Toll Stadium in Whangarei last night, and won $7,927 in prizes plus four merit awards. The other major winners were the 2019 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Lorraine Ferreira, and the 2019 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year, Daniel Waterhouse. . .
Defra have no Brexit impact assessment for sheep farming

The government has not conducted any analysis of the potential impact of leaving the EU on British sheep farming, it has been revealed.

Defra has admitted, after a freedom of information (FoI) request, that it did not hold any information or documents relating to an assessment of the impact of Brexit on sheep farming.

A response from the department added: “We can confirm that to the best of our knowledge the information is not held by another public authority.” . . 


Rural round-up

February 28, 2019

Farmers tired of bearing blame – Hamish Walker:

Farmers are working hard on improving water quality and should be supported, writes Hamish Walker.

It’s all farmers’ fault didn’t you know?

Those fenced-off waterways, new sediment traps, wetlands, all the riparian plantings, not cultivating near waterways, strategically winter grazing and everything else farmers do on-farm to protect the environment, it’s still all their fault.

What is it, you ask?

Well, Fish & Game’s anti-farming crusade would have you believe it is the water quality issue, one solely caused by farmers. . . 

Farms firmly in taxman’s sights – Neal Wallace:

Agriculture will be firmly in the sights of the tax collector should the Government adopt the Tax Working Group suggestions, which propose a suite of environmental taxes and a broadened capital gains tax.

The group recommends including agriculture in a more tax-like emissions pricing scheme, introducing a nitrogen tax and taxing those who pollute and extract water, though it concedes establishing a mechanism to do that is problematic.

The report says more work is needed to develop tools to more accurately estimate diffuse water pollution and extraction but in lieu of such a system it recommends a general fertiliser tax. . . 

Applications open for Trans-Tasman agribusiness management programme :

Applications for the prestigious Rabobank Business Management Programmes have opened for 2019, with the Farm Managers Programme – the course for up-and-coming young farm leaders – returning to New Zealand for the first time in a decade.

Announcing the opening of applications for this year’s intake for the two residential programs – the Executive Development Programme (EDP) and the Farm Managers Programme (FMP), which are designed for progressive New Zealand and Australian farmers looking to take their businesses to the next level – Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris says it is fantastic news to have the Farm Managers Programme returning to Kiwis shores for the first time since it was last held in Christchurch in 2009.

Ahuwhenua finalists named:

The three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori sheep and beef farm have been announced.

They are Whangara Farms, Gisborne; Te Awahohonu Forest Trust – Gwavas Station, Tikokino near Hastings and Kiriroa Station – Eugene & Pania King, Motu, near Gisborne. . . 

Gold and silver found on conservation land in Coromandel – Gerald Piddock:

OceanaGold​ has discovered gold and silver buried under conservation land on the Coromandel Peninsula.

But a local environmental group has vowed to fight the multinational company every step of the way if it decides to mine the precious metals.

The discovery after exploratory drilling at Wharekirauponga, inland from the holiday resort town of Whangamatā lies near the Wharekirauponga Track in the Coromandel Forest Park, which is classed as Schedule 4 land. . . 

 

Farmers launch ‘Mission 4 Milk’ to help promote the white stuff

A new campaign has been launched by dairy farmers to promote the health benefits of milk to the public.

Mission 4 Milk is a campaign which sets to raise awareness about how milk can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

The campaign states: “With the rise of plant-based alternatives, the reduction of free milk in schools, and the shift away from milk marketing, the average shopper doesn’t know why they should drink milk.

“But cow’s milk is packed full of essential, natural vitamins and nutrients – many of which you won’t get anywhere else. It’s great for your bones, it’s great for your teeth, and perhaps most importantly – it’s great for your brain.”


Rural round-up

February 27, 2019

South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam an example for the country – Joanne Holden:

Opuha Dam is a water storage “success story” National MPs would like to see adopted around the country.

The 20-year-old dam was the first stop on Friday for National’s Primary Industries Caucus Committee – hosted by Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon – as they toured Mid and South Canterbury’s primary industry spots.

On the trip were MPs Nathan Guy, Jacqui Dean, Matt King, Hamish Walker, and List MP Maureen Pugh, who also visited Heartland Potato Chips in Washdyke, the Managed Aquifer Recharge in Hinds, and spoke to South Canterbury community members about the future of primary industries. . .

 

Farm conflicts in tourist hotspot – Neal Wallace:

A billionaire lives on a lifestyle property on one side of Chris and Emma Dagg’s Queenstown farm. On the other is a multi-millionaire.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The exclusive Millbrook Resort is nearby and actor Tom Cruise was a neighbour while filming in New Zealand.

The Daggs’ 424ha farm in the Wakatipu Basin between Queenstown and Arrowtown includes some of NZ’s most sort after land for residential development.

A short drive from Queenstown, the rural setting provides a desirable place for the rich and famous to live, putting pressure on landowners in a region short of land, houses and sections. . . 

Rain in Waikato a good start – more please, farmers say:

Rain in Waikato was good news for farmers but more is needed to keep the threat of drought at bay. 

Until the weekend, the region had only received 0.4 millimetres of rain leaving soil moisture levels dangerously low. 

Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said the 10 millimetres of rain received over the weekend “was a good start”.  . . 

Lanercost open to all farmers – Tim Fulton:

The first Future Farm is contributing to the rehabilitation of a bruised Canterbury farm and community. Tim Fulton reports.

Visitors to Lanercost can see its potential as a sheep and beef demonstration farm, the lessees say.

The North Canterbury hill country property near Cheviot is 1310ha modelled on a farm at Lincoln that has allowed the dairy industry to assess innovation.

Farmer Carl Forrester and Mendip Hills manager Simon Lee have a lease to run the 1310ha Lanercost in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Lanercost’s owner, the T D Whelan Trust. . .

Loneliness in farming community is ‘heart-breaking’, police officers say

Police officers have highlighted how ‘heart-breaking’ it is to see some farmers suffer from extreme loneliness and isolation. The issue of loneliness in the farming community has been highlighted by Dyfed-Powys Police, who have a small team of specialist rural officers. PC Gerwyn Davies and PCSO Jude Parr are working closely with mental healthy charity the DPJ Foundation. They have referred several farmers to the charity for counselling and mental health support. . . 

Soil ecologist challenges mainstream thinking on climate change – Candace Krebs:

How cropland and pastures are managed is the most effective way to remedy climate change, an approach that isn’t getting the attention it deserves, according to a leading soil ecologist from Australia who speaks around the world on soil health.

“Water that sits on top of the ground will evaporate. Water vapor, caused by water that evaporates because it hasn’t infiltrated, is the greenhouse gas that has increased to the greatest extent since the Industrial Revolution,” said Christine Jones, while speaking at the No Till on the Plains Conference in Wichita in late January. . . 


Rural round-up

January 16, 2019

SIT plans takeover of Telford – Giordano Stolley:

The Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) will submit a proposal to Education Minister Chris Hipkins to take over operations of the troubled Telford agricultural training campus in Balclutha.

A statement from the Clutha District Council yesterday afternoon quoted SIT chairman Peter Heenan as saying that he was “encouraged by the support from all parties at the meeting for SIT to pull together a proposal for the minister’s consideration”.

Mr Heenan made the comments at a meeting at the district council offices.

While the statement provided no details of the the proposal, Clutha Southland National Party MP Hamish Walker, said: “They [SIT] are looking to take over operations at Telford.” . . 

Funding call for Telford training farm campus staff:

The Clutha community is trying to raise funds for staff at a financially troubled rural training campus, mayor Bryan Cadogan says.

Dozens of staff at Telford agricultural training campus near Balclutha are stuck without pay while their employer’s future is decided.

The Telford training farm in South Otago is part of the Taratahi Institute of Agriculture, which was placed in interim liquidation late last year.

More than 30 tutors and support staff at Telford had their wages suspended on Friday. . .

Synlait plant registration renewed – Sally Rae:

Synlait has successfully renewed the registration of its Dunsandel plant, allowing it to continue exporting canned infant formula to China.

The registration was issued by the General Administration of Customers of the Peoples’ Republic of China (GACC).

Synlait chief executive Leon Clement said GACC had strict criteria that overseas manufacturers must meet to maintain registration.

New pasture legume hard to fault – Jill Griffiths:

THE PERENNIAL forage legume tedera is on track for commercial release in 2019. Dr Daniel Real, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), said difficult seasonal conditions in Western Australia this year had provided the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the potential value of tedera.

“Rain at the end of February created a false break,” Daniel said. “All the annuals germinated but then died, and the dry autumn left nothing in the paddocks. The annuals were non-existent but the tedera was looking good.”

Tedera (Bituminaria bituminosa var. albomarginata) is native to the Canary Islands and was brought to Australia in 2006 through research conducted under the auspices of the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre. . . . 

Deliberate food contamination needs harsher penalties:

A recent member’s bill which seeks to introduce harsher penalties and offences is good to see, but any action from it will have to be funded and resourced adequately to have any real impact, says Federated Farmers.

The bill is from National’s Nathan Guy and it comes in the wake of last year’s Australian strawberry needle scare which triggered copycat offences here and back over the ditch, says Feds Food Safety spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.

Thousands of strawberries had to be destroyed as needles started showing up in the fruit across stores. The needle scares crushed spirits and trust. . .

How one innovative company is using bees to protect crops from disease – Nicole Rasul:

Billed as an “elegant solution to a complex problem,” Bee Vectoring Technology, or BVT, is a Toronto-based startup that is using commercially reared bees to provide a targeted, natural disease management tool to a range of agricultural crops.

The bumblebee, one of nature’s hardest workers, is the star of the BVT method. Hives that contain trays of powdered Clonostachys rosea CR-7, which the company describes as “an organic strain of a natural occurring endophytic fungus… commonly found in a large diversity of plants and soils all around the world,” are placed near a fledgling field. . .

Cheaper to get your 5+ a day at the end of 2018:

Avocados and lettuces were much cheaper than the previous summer, but egg prices hit a record high in December 2018, Stats NZ said today.

“Overall, getting your five-plus (5+) a day servings of fruit and vegetables was cheaper in 2018,” consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba said. Fruit prices were 3.8 percent lower in December 2018 than in December 2017, while vegetable prices were 7.5 percent lower.

“Bad weather in 2017 reduced the supply of many vegetables, pushing up their prices,” Ms Duoba said. “Growing conditions were mostly more favourable during 2018, boosting supply and lowering prices.” . .


Rural round-up

September 26, 2018

Profiting from precision irrigation:

Economic, environmental and social benefits are prompting a growing number of Australasian and US farmers to adopt precision variable rate irrigation systems.

New Zealand, a country generally known for its ample annual rainfall and phenomenal natural crop growth, is an unlikely origin for a precision irrigation development that’s gaining traction globally. However, light soils and sporadic precipitation in some regions, plus readily available water for irrigation, mean close to 800,000 ha or 6.5% of the country’s farmland is artificially watered.

Originally, much of that was with flood irrigation using border-dykes but, in the drive for water use efficiency and environmental protection, spray irrigation has become the norm, mostly with centre-pivots. . . 

Growers get 20,000 plants back after MPI testing clears any risk – Eric Frykberg:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has released about 20,000 apple plants and 400 stone fruit plants which it impounded as a biosecurity risk three months ago.

It has now completed testing of the plants and found no trace of pests or diseases.

As a result they have been freed from all restrictions. . .

MPI slow to pay M bovis compensation – Rachel Kelly:

Some farmers are seeking help from their MP to get compensation claims paid out after their farms have been infected by Mycoplasma bovis.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said MPI’s response to compensation claims for M. bovis had improved in recent months, but it still needed to be better.

The ministry said it was aware that some farmers have found the compensation process difficult, but it was important that each claim was assessed and approved properly. . .

Carbon trees ‘opportunity’ for landowners – Toni Williams:

There is ”renewed opportunity” for landowners to get into carbon trees, Carbon Forest Services managing director Ollie Belton says.

And ”hopefully it will mean more trees (planted) on farms”.

Mr Belton was a guest speaker at a Bayleys Real Estate breakfast meeting attended by sales agents and invited guests at the Hotel Ashburton, in Ashburton, earlier this month. . .

Omapere Rangihamama Trust: a country comeback story

In 2007, the Omapere Rangihamama Trust was broke. A decade later, the Far North Trust won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Māori Excellence in Farming Award for the top sheep and beef farm in Aotearoa.

They continued to decline for the next three decades until a new management team with clear strategies and visions was put in place in 2007. . .

Fonterra’s Chilean farmers threaten to break away – Gerard Hutching:

Disgruntled Chilean dairy farmers have threatened to stop supplying Fonterra because they say they are being underpaid for their milk.

The dairy giant has a 86 per cent ownership stake of processing company Prolesur, but some small farmers in southern Chile who supply it are unhappy with their treatment.

Waikato dairy consultant Mike McBeath, who is chairman of Chilean company Chilterra, said it was looking to combine with about 200 farmers to create a rival co-operative. . .

Fonterra has bred an ‘us versus them’ mentality damaging farmers – Louise Giltrap:

I think it’s about time we got some things cleared up around how people think our dairy giant Fonterra operates.

The statement I love hearing the most is: “But you farmers own Fonterra and you should take back some control!”

And the second one just recently has in response to the grandiose five-star functions held over the last fortnight for select Fonterra staff: “It’s not the farmers’ money they are spending!”

Alrighty, so let’s start at the beginning. All the farmers get a vote and that vote is cast on what is selectively put in front of us to vote on. . .


Rural round-up

April 28, 2018

Minister refuses to meet MP to discuss future of rescue helicopter base – Guy Williams:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says Health Minister David Clark has refused to meet him to discuss the fate of Te Anau’s rescue helicopter base.

Te Anau was one of three bases cut from a list of bases in a tender for air rescue services put out by the ACC and Ministry of Health last month.

Taupo and Rotorua’s bases were effectively restored to the list after three North Island mayors met Mr Clark on Monday. . . 

Scientists work on simple way to clean streams – Tony Benny:

Canterbury University scientists have perfected a simple method to reduce sediment load in waterways by up to 70 per cent, part of a project to find solutions to Canterbury’s water woes. Tony Benny reports.

On the Canterbury Plains alone, there are about 17,000km of waterways, many of which carry high levels of nitrogen, phosphate-laden sediment and faecal bacteria and a huge effort is going into ways to reverse this decline in water quality, with local and national government agencies, farm industry bodies, iwi and farmers all joining in.

Adding some science to the mix is the Canterbury Water Rehabilitation Experiment (Carex), a project by the University of Canterbury’s Freshwater Ecology Research Group, funded by the Ashburton-based Mackenzie Charitable Foundation. The Carex team comprises nine scientists including professors, researchers and students. . . .

Gas not grass at farm field day – Richard Rennie:

Ground-breaking research turning a commercial dairy farm into a living lab is starting to reveal some valuable insights for farmers seeking ways to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gases.

Waikato University has, for the first time, thrown back the blanket on its researchers’ cutting-edge equipment and early lessons from that equipment on a Matamata property that has been a core site over the past six years.

In something of a national first, the traditional style Waikato farm discussion day had greenhouse gases rather than growing more grass as the key focus for those attending.

At the heart of the property’s research into better understanding of nitrous oxide release on dairy farms is the university’s $250,000 Quantum Cascade Laser. The high tech kit is helping researchers gain far more accurate analysis what the gas does when released from cow urine patches.  . . 

Hurdles ahead in future irrigation development – Yvonne O’Hara:

Irrigation New Zealand’s (INZ) held its conference in Alexandra earlier this month and the primary focus was on irrigation and its future role.

IrrigationNZ chair Nicky Hyslop said the conference “celebrated the role that irrigation played”.

The future of the Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group’s plan to raise the height of Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was highlighted following the announcement that the Crown Irrigation Investments (CII) would not be funding any more irrigation projects.

Water strategy group chairman Allan Kane said it had decided, based on pre-feasibility study information, that raising Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was the best option.

However, the Government’s announcement meant alternative funding options would need to be found to contribute to the group’s final feasibility study. . . 

Bulk milk tests ‘not working’ – Annette Scott:

Frank Peters’ $4 million dairy herd, the result of 55 years of breeding genetics is about to be slaughtered despite being clean in bulk milk testing.

Now he’s worried about 2500 calves he has sold in the four years since Mycoplasma bovis arrived on his 1400-cow farm in stock he bought from Southern Centre Dairies in Southland in autumn 2014.

“That’s four years ago and we have sold 2500 calves in that time that could be anywhere now. . .

Big year for Wallace Family of South Otago – Rob Tipa:

Rob Tipa visits a family that has caught the judges’ eye in a couple of recent competitions.

This year is shaping up as a big one for the Wallace family of Waipahi in South Otago, winning several major southern farming awards in the space of a week.

Logan, Ross and Alexa Wallace won the Beef + Lamb Livestock Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the supreme award for the Otago region at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Wanaka earlier this month.

Last weekend Logan, 28, added a win in the Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year awards in Winton to his impressive record in the industry. . .

Put wellbeing in business plan:

If the wool industry wants to attract the next generation of shearers it needs to prioritise the wellbeing of its workforce, industry veteran Dion Morrell says.

Dion and his partner Gabriela run a busy, Alexandra-based contracting business employing up to 50 shearers at peak time. 

He’s worked in the industry for over 40 years, starting as a shearer straight out of school, working his way up to elite level competition representing New Zealand and setting four world records along the way.  . . 

Viral American farming sensation on tour in New Zealand

From a family farm in Kansas in the United States, four siblings known as The Peterson Farm Bros have risen to social media fame with their funny parody videos.

Songs names like “Takin’ Care of Livestock” (Taking Care of Business Parody) are sure to put you on the map, and these siblings have racked up over 50 million views on their videos.

However, the world’s most popular farming family are using their fame for the greater good to advocate for agriculture and to correct farming misconceptions. . .


Thriving regions need health & rescue services

April 11, 2018

Proposed changes to helicopter rescue services in the regions could cost lives.

. . Te Anau has not been included in the list of bases proposed under the National Ambulance Sector Office’s (NASO) call for air ambulance services and will now be covered by Queenstown.

NASO is seeking larger area-based contracts, including one for all of the South Island, because the demand for air ambulance services has been rising.

If demand is rising why would they cut out a base?

Under the proposal, Fiordland will be covered by helicopters from Queenstown, but only if the three companies that provide services in the South Island now – Heliworks in Queenstown, the Otago Helicopters in Dunedin and Garden City Helicopters in Christchurch – band together to bid for a contract to cover the whole of the South Island. 

Lakes District Air Rescue Trust chairman Jules Tapper said the three companies had formed a company called HEMS NZ and were considering bidding for the South Island work, but twin-engined helicopters were required under the new proposal and Te Anau would not be a base,

Lakes District Air Rescue Trust operates emergency rescue helicopters from bases in Queenstown and Te Anau.

Tapper said lives would undoubtedly be lost under the new proposal if Te Anau was no longer a base.

“They seem to think they can cover it from Queenstown but it is 20 to 25 minutes flying time from Queenstown to Te Anau before you head into Fiordland and lives will be lost in that time.

“Having only twin-engined machines is a huge increase in costs and one size does not fit all. The new plan excludes Squirrels. They’re fast, very nimble and can get into tight clearings and tight places where you can’t get big machines.” . . 

The trust covers the biggest geographical area in the country, from Haast to Alexandra and Invercargill and undertook rescues in the Southern Ocean.

It flew more than 400 missions a year and about 200 of them were from Te Anau.

The Te Anau based service also has experienced pilots who know the terrain and weather.

Southern Lakes Helicopters pilot Sir Richard Hayes, who was flying on Sunday and could not be reached for comment, was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to search and rescue and has more than 40 years’ experience flying.

Fiordland LandSAR secretary Stewart Burnby said the proposal to not have a base at Te Anau was “the most bloody stupid thing I’ve ever heard.”

He had been involved in search and rescue for more than 25 years in Fiordland, much of it with Hayes and said his loss of experience would cost lives.

“It sounds like a recipe for disaster. To put it bluntly Richard has the experience and the equipment, Queenstown don’t.

“Mountain flying is a very different beastie and he knows the place like the back of his hand. It sounds like politics is getting in the way of sensibility.”

Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker said it was unacceptable that the service was at risk of being moved away from the region

“It is very concerning that local rescue helicopters in Te Anau, that have successfully operated for nearly three decades, may no longer receive Government funding after being left out of the Government’s proposals for helicopter rescue services.

“The Te Anau helicopters have helped to save lives and are an important part of a timely rescue response service for our region.”

The importance of local knowledge was illustrated last week:

. . . He [Tapper] said sometimes it was impossible for helicopters from Queenstown to get into the area.

“Last Friday was a classic example when there is no way a machine could’ve got in from outside of the area, it was shocking winds and snow and rain and yet Sir Richard Hayes was able to sneak up Lake Te Anau and up the Milford Track to the Mckinnon Pass where two ladies were succumbing to hypothermia – one was in a very, very bad way and would’ve undoubtedly died if she hadn’t been pulled out.

“Now that is a classic example where the machine, on the spot with local knowledge, was able to do the job successfully.” . . 

It’s not just South Island services under threat.

. . . A pilot for the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter in Taupō, Nat Every, said last year the Taupō and Rotorua rescue helicopters flew 420 missions around the region, which includes the Central Plateau and the Tongariro National Park.

Without bases there, people would be forced to wait longer for help.

“If you require a helicopter and you are in the Taupō/Central Plateau region, I think it’s fair to say – categorically – it will take longer for that helicopter to reach you than it currently does,” Mr Every said.

And the longer people are forced to wait, the more critical their situation becomes, he said.

“It is absolutely time-critical. You’re having a heart attack, you’re having breathing difficulties, you’re in a car accident, it’s your child, it’s your wife, it’s your children, your mother, your family member, you know every second counts,” Mr Every said.

The Taupō area would have to rely on helicopters coming from Taranaki, Hamilton, Tauranga, Hawke’s Bay or Palmerston North.

That could add an extra 35 minutes to an hour to the flight time. It would also leave those regions without access to a helicopter while it was being tasked elsewhere, he said. . . 

Mr Every said factors like the weather and the geography of an area were crucial.

“It’s all very well for someone to have a map of New Zealand and draw circles around several hospitals and go ‘OK well that circle covers that area and that area … and look I think we’ve go the country covered there’.

“As a paper exercise it all seems to work but what it doesn’t take into account is the weather, the hills, the geography,” he said. . . 

The government aims to eliminate road deaths.

That’s a highly aspirational goal which won’t be helped if the lives of accident victims are lost for want of rescue services relatively near by with pilots and crew who know the area.

It’s not just rescue services which are threatened. The Rural Health Alliance  might also be lost:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) are saddened to see that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will cease operating if it does not receive government funding next week.

“RWNZ supports the work already done by RHAANZ in bringing together various rural groups and rural health providers to develop initiatives for rural communities,” says RWNZ Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Remarkable work has been done to deliver the Rural Health Road Map which sets out a plan and priorities for achieving healthily rural communities.

“Being geographically isolated, often with significant distance to the nearest town or health centre means that rural communities have an immediate need of affordable and reliable access to all health services.

”The Government has committed to rural proofing government policy, and RHAANZ has a vital part to play in this development – without the continuation of RHAANZ, and the work it does, rural communities will go backwards.

“There is no other place where issues impacting the health and wellbeing of rural communities are considered concurrently, and the loss of achievements met and efforts made by RHAANZ will be detrimental for our rural people.
RWNZ urges the Government to recognise the good work that has been done by RHAANZ and to support its continuation,” says Mrs Pittaway. . . 

Throwing money from the Provincial Growth Fund at feasibility studies is not rural-proofing government policy.

Funding for essential health services must come first.


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