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.


Rural round-up

March 25, 2018

Growing NZ pride in dairy – Colin Glass:

It’s an exciting time in the dairy sector. There is so much change happening: we have a new strategy, ‘Dairy Tomorrow’, and changes to the DairyNZ board, to name a few.

I’ve seen a marked change in dairy farmers over the past year too.

People outside the sector may think I’m referring to the extensive work farmers are doing to make their farms more environmentally sustainable. But as you all know, this isn’t new; farmers have been doing this for a long time. . . 

Rural Women critical of maternity services :

Rural Women New Zealand say it is ironic that in the 125th year of suffrage, New Zealand women are struggling to gain and retain health services.

“New Zealand is still hailed as a world leader because New Zealand women won their right to vote in 1893, however, we are behind in maternity care,” says board member and Health convenor Margaret Pittaway.

“RWNZ has been observing the developing dilemma for midwives and those they care for, with increasing concern. Rural midwives are simply not receiving a living wage due to the expectation they travel many more miles to visit patients,” says Margaret. . .

Don’t be complacent :

Sheep and beef farmers should not be complacent in grasping opportunities, retiring Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

He told the annual meeting in Gisborne the Red Meat Story should be rolled out to global markets later this year.

Final details were being signed off with processor partners on the proposed brand mark, story and Go-to-Market strategy. . .

Farmer relationship with processor costing NZ:

New research from Lincoln University shows poor relationships between farmers and their meat processors could be costing New Zealand.

Dr Nic Lees said improving those relationships was essential to New Zealand producing higher value products that meet consumer needs.

He surveyed over 1000 sheep, beef and deer farmers. These three industries together make up 12 per cent of New Zealand’s exports and currently contribute $5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy. . . 

Westland signs with South East Asia’s largest-listed consumer health and nutrition firm:

Building on its growing market presence in China, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, Westland Milk Products, signalled an increased presence in South East Asia by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesian consumer health and nutrition giant Kalbe (PT Sanghiang Perkasa).

Today’s signing, in the presence of visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a business forum held in Wellington, is the first step toward forming a strategic partnership between Westland and Kalbe. . .

Sheep milking serious business – Peter Burke:

The sheep milk industry has made huge strides in the last four years, says Massey University associate professor Craig Prichard.

The 4th annual Sheep Milking Conference was held in Palmerston North last week, attracting 150 producers, scientists and interested observers.

Prichard, known as a driver of the industry, says four years ago only four cheese makers attended; this year there were 16.

He says in four years the industry has moved from being “gee whizz isn’t that interesting” to a serious business with a future. . . 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2018

Southland eyes oats instead of dairy – Baz Macdonald:

Southland is looking into an alternative to dairy farming that taps into surging Asian demand, but uses less capital and water and produces less nitrates and greenhouse emissions. Baz Macdonald reports.

Agriculture represented 4% of NZ’s real GDP in the 2016 financial year, yet an OECD report released last year showed the sector produced half of our countries greenhouse emissions – making NZ the second highest creator of emissions per unit of GDP in the world. The recommendation from the OECD was that we develop “alternative measures to counter the pressures of farming”. . . 

Gita: Motueka orchards hit hard – Alexa Cook:

Orchards in the Motueka area have been hit hard by flooding from Cyclone Gita, prompting fears fruit will not make it to market.

The Nelson region grows a quarter of the country’s apples, and in the past week has started harvesting this year’s crop.

Apple and Pears Incorporated chief executive Alan Pollard said the flooding came at a bad time and was a big set back. . . 

Cyclone devastates ‘up to 50 percent’ maize crops – Alexa Cook:

The pressure is on for Taranaki farmers to harvest maize crops that have been flattened by Cyclone Gita, before the crop starts to die and rot.

The cyclone hit the region on Tuesday with wind gusts of up to 140km/h.

Southern and coastal Taranaki farmers have struggled with drought this summer, but conditions were just right for growing maize – and a bumper crop was expected.

However, Taranaki Federated Farmers president Donald McIntyre said the cyclone might have put an end to that. . . 

NZ’s largest pine-to-native forest regeneration project reaches major milestone:

The last pine trees have been felled in a major Hawke’s Bay conservation project that aims to convert a 4,000-hectare pine plantation back to regenerating native forest.

Over 3,500 hectares of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest have now been logged since 2006 and are now in the process of being re-converted back to native forest by land owner Simon Hall, Chairman of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawkes Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest. . . 

Rural women need access to midwifery care:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned that Wanaka is soon to lose one of the community’s two midwives.

“Midwives practicing in rural communities have long battled the problems of geographical isolation in areas where the population continues to grow,” says Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Resourcing has been lacking for so long that rural families are suffering – it is absolutely unacceptable that expectant mothers and their families have been placed in the firing line. . . 

New Zealanders warned of stink bug risk to their own households:

Warnings are going out about the devastating impact the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug would have on New Zealand households and urban communities as the potential risk of an incursion escalates.

New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on high alert because the Stink Bug was not just a risk for orchardists.

The Stink Bug would also be devastating to urban communities where home gardens would be destroyed and houses would become safe havens for the invasive pest, he said.

Mr Pollard praised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the work that they are doing to protect New Zealand’s borders against the Stink Bug, including four shipments of cars from Japan recently turned away from entering the country. He has also commended Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor, for making biosecurity his number one priority. . . 

Dairy farming – the ancient history of producing milk – K. Kris Hirst:

Milk-producing mammals were an important part of early agriculture in the world. Goats were among our earliest domesticated animals, first adapted in western Asia from wild forms about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated in the eastern Sahara by no later than 9,000 years ago. We surmise that at least one primary reason for this process was to make a source of meat easier to get than by hunting.

But domestic animals also are good for milk and milk products like cheese and yogurt (part of what V.G. Childe and Andrew Sherratt once called the Secondary Products Revolution). So–when did dairying first start and how do we know that?

The earliest evidence to date for the processing of milk fats comes from the Early Neolithic of the seventh millennium BC in northwestern Anatolia; the sixth millennium BC in eastern Europe; the fifth millennium BC in Africa; and the fourth millennium BC in Britain and Northern Europe (Funnel Beaker culture). . . 

Forget sauvignon blanc, New Zealand’s new big thing is pinot noir Elin McCoy:

Actor Sam Neill just finished a six-part television documentary on the voyages of Captain Cook, but right now he’s focused on the role of proud farmer. I’m walking with him on a tour of his organic vineyard in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand as he shows off his prize pigs and pulls out bottles of his much-talked-about Two Paddocks pinot noirs.

“What do you think?” he asks.

Thumbs up, for sure. 

When it comes to wine, New Zealand is on a roll. According to a just-released Vinexpo study, it’s now the fastest-growing wine-exporting country to the U.S. By 2021, it’s predicted to become the No. 4 exporter to the U.S., right behind Italy, Australia, and France—which is pretty remarkable, considering that the country makes barely 1 percent of the world’s wines. . . 

Young leaders to drive conversations at agritech event:

New Zealand’s agritech community will be joined by some of the country’s best young leaders at MobileTECH 2018. One of the key highlights at the upcoming agritech event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel.

“In addition to unveiling the very latest agritech innovations, we have lined up three emerging leaders to share their visions on just where the technology is heading, what areas they see as the most beneficial to their businesses and how it will impact on the sector’s future,” says Ken Wilson, programme manager for the MobileTECH 2018 event. . . 


Rural round-up

September 15, 2016

No simple answers on water – Smith – Nigel Malthus:

New Zealand is so richly blessed with freshwater that many people do not appreciate its importance to our economy, lifestyle and health, says Environment Minister Nick Smith.

At a guest lecture on the topic, held at Lincoln University recently, Smith said NZ had more freshwater per capita than pretty much any nation in the world.

“The average 2.3 metres of rain falling nationwide each year equates to 145 million litres per person per year,” he explained. “That is seven times as much as Australia, 16 times as much as the US and 70 times as much per person as the UK or China.”

Smith says many of our major export industries depend on freshwater and our rivers and lakes are equally pivotal to our tourism industry. . . 

Sheep milking easier than cows:

Milking sheep is much easier and simpler than cows, but it takes much more dedication and attention, says John Ryrie, sheep dairy manager at Spring Sheep Milk.  

“You need good stockmanship to look after sheep,” he told Rural News.  

A Scotsman, Ryrie has been in New Zealand for the past year as farm manager for Spring Sheep but has been sheep milking in the UK for 20 years. . .  

Young Farmers’ group takes rise in suicides seriously

A farmers’ group is concerned about the risk of suicide for farmers and wants to reach out to help. 

New Zealand society needs to be more upfront talking about suicide, said Terry Copeland of New Zealand Young Farmers.

“Part of it is confronting it. We’ve got to acknowledge that our lives aren’t always happy,” Copeland said. 

“Some people who suffer from depression, or have really bad work or personal stress, or a combination are unlikely to ask for help, but we have to recognise they’re not their usual self.” . . 

RWNZ submission on Government strategy on health of older adults:

RWNZ has lodged a submission on the Ministry of Health’s update of the Health of Older people strategy, urging the Government to give priority to the unique needs of older adults in rural areas.

RWNZ Health spokesperson, Margaret Pittaway says, “The strategy sets out a worthy and aspirational set of goals for the health and wellbeing of older adults for the next ten years, yet it fails to give appropriate attention to the special and unique challenges of ageing in rural areas.”

In its submission RWNZ highlight ongoing barriers to access to older adult health services in rural areas, along with health disparities affecting this population group. ”Implementation of the actions in this strategy must be given special priority in rural areas, in particular the goal of bringing health services closer to home deserves immediate attention in rural areas” says Margaret Pittaway. . . 

A story of change and success in poplars and willows for erosion management:

Trevor Freeman has seen the planting of hundreds of thousands of poplar and willow trees in the Gisborne region.

The retiring Gisborne District Council Chief Science Specialist and former Environmental Services Manager finishes with the Gisborne District Council on August 19. In the past 40 years his role has morphed from land management into environmental services concerned with water, biosecurity, forestry and many other issues as well as his first passion – erosion control.

The biggest event during his tenure was Cyclone Bola in 1988, which left little of the district unscathed and was a stark reminder of the need for trees, either strategically spaced such as with poplars and willows or as a closed forest canopy. . . 

 

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I don’t leave footprints in the sand, I leave boot tracks in the mud.

Final week for NZ wineries to enter 37th Sydney International Wine Competition:

New Zealand wineries have the rest of the week to enter this year’s Sydney International Wine Competition. Entries close on Friday 16 September, with judging samples required by 23 September.

Entry for the 37th Sydney International Wine Competition is capped at 2000 wines, with just over 250 places still available for entry.

Already there is a record entry from international wineries, including Europe, the Americas, Asia and South Africa, and over 350 entries are expected from New Zealand following their stellar performance in 2015. . . 


Rural round-up

April 29, 2014

Bad weather in south destroys crops – Kloe Palmer:

Wintry weather has hit the South Island and is moving up the country.

Drivers on the Crown Range between Queenstown and Wanaka were caught out by snow this morning, and heavy rain is forecast for much of the country for the next 24 hours. That is bad news for crop farmers in Canterbury.

As rain pours down, Federated Farmers say an unseasonably wet two months has made harvesting nearly impossible. The crop is too damp and the ground too soggy for the machinery.

“It’s just frustrating, a huge frustration, and there will be a massive economical hit for some of those farmers, but it can’t be quantified yet,” says Chris Allen of Federated Farmers. . .

Little impact seen on Synlait, a2, Fonterra fund from tighter Chinese infant formula rules – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s listed dairy companies, Synlait Milk, a2 Milk Co and Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, probably won’t face much disruption from tighter rules on infant formula in China, the nation’s biggest market for milk products, investors say.

A2, whose Platinum infant formula is manufactured at Synlait’s Canterbury plant, led the three dairy companies lower on the NZX today, after saying it is monitoring and responding to China’s new requirements, which include demonstrating a close association between brand owner and manufacturer, and a new form of registration from May 1.

China telegraphed its new requirements to the government last week by releasing an audit of a sample of New Zealand manufacturers conducted in March. That left officials and companies scrambling to interpret the changes in time for the registration deadline this week. The government says manufacturers who control 90 percent of the nation’s infant formula exports are working through the registration process but the remaining 10 percent face a tougher job to comply. . .

Whangarei market generating $10m of activity – Hugh Stringleman:

The weekly Whangarei Growers Market generates nearly $10 million annually of direct sales and flow-on economic activity for Northland, a social and economic impact study shows.

It employs 90 people, mainly stall-holders on Saturday mornings.

The study was commissioned by the market company and was done by a team from the Northtec business management faculty, supervised by Dr Warren Hughes, an Auckland researcher and academic.

The team found the market turnover last year was $3.66m and additional economic activity was $5.84m. . .

Setting the standard in poultry vaccine – Tim Fulton:

The low-slung office of Pacificvet in Christchurch suburb Hornby stood up strongly to the earthquakes.

That’s just as well, because the company has a stock of especially sensitive vaccine.

A lot of Pacificvet’s practical know-how comes from the owners, Bruce Graham and Kent Deitemeyer.

They are proud of their modern diagnostics laboratory at the Innovation Park near Templeton, southwest of Christchurch. . .

Applications open for Rural Women/Access Homehealth health scholarship:

Applications are now open for Rural Women NZ & Access Homehealth scholarship 2014.

“This $3000 scholarship will be awarded to a health professional to help further his or her studies,” says Rural Women New Zealand National President, Wendy McGowan.

We encourage health professionals, especially those studying at a post-graduate level, to apply before the closing date of 1 July. . .

 More support needed in rural communities as legal highs withdrawn – Rural Women NZ:

Rural Women NZ welcomes news that the Government is tackling the issue of legal highs, following reports from our members of a surge in anti-social and threatening behaviour in rural townships, apparently stemming from their use.

However Rural Women NZ says the withdrawal of supply from shops must be coupled with more resources in rural areas for those suffering from the effects of drug addiction, and their families.

“There is real concern in rural communities about the lack of access to specialist services,” says Rural Women NZ health spokesperson, Margaret Pittaway.

“Distance to treatment services and support for families can be a real barrier to getting the help required to overcome addiction, or deal with its results.” . . .


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