How much more do you want to pay for food?

12/11/2020

Rows of courgettes are rotting because horticulturist Brett Heap can’t get enough people to pick his vegetables.

He’s not the only food producer with staff shortages.

Dairy farmers,  horticulturists and viticulturists the length of the country have the same complaint even though there are plenty of people without jobs who ought to be available to help.

Why doesn’t work in primary production appeal?

One reason is that people who are unemployed face abatement to their benefits when they get paid work. Some think lowering the abatement would help but it could also result in people earning more from benefits and part time or temporary work than they could in fulltime, permanent jobs.

Another reason often given is low wages but how much is enough, especially when often pay in horticulture is determined by how much the workers pick which means those who pick more earn more?

While some are calling for higher wages in horticulture and dairy sectors there are also complaints about the high cost of food.

Too many don’t seem to be able to join the dots between the cost of production and the price of food.

Wages aren’t the only contributor to food costs and some, often most, of the price is based on what happens between the paddock and plate. But higher costs of production, of which workers’ pay can be a considerable part, will eventually lead to higher prices for food.

The government ought to be cognizant of this, but their plans to add another five days to sick leave entitlements and an extra public holiday for Matariki shows it either isn’t, or doesn’t care.


Choose when to take stat holidays?

27/10/2020

A Hindu group is calling for Diwali to be made a public holiday:

Universal Society of Hinduism president Rajan Zed, who is based in the US, said that the government needs to revisit its public holiday policies as the country’s demography has changed.*

He said it’s unfair for the Hindu community to be at work or school on their most popular festival and making it a public holiday would be a “a step in the positive direction”.

Zed said that awareness about other religions created by such holidays like Diwali would strengthen cohesion and unity in the country.

Would it, or would it, like most other statutory holidays, become just another day off with little or no interest in the reason behind it for most of us?

This year’s Diwali falls on Saturday, 14 November. In 2022, Diwali falls on Monday, 24 October.

October 24th will be Labour Day which is a national holiday anyway.

Easter’s changing dates already cause problems with planning, adding another movable celebration would cause more confusion.

Adding another holiday for one culture will add to calls for special days for other cultures to be recognised.

Labour made an election promise to make Matariki a public holiday.

That was popular and I wouldn’t object to it but I am in the camp which favours it replacing one of the 11 existing statutory holiday rather than adding a 12th although which it would replace is debatable.

Act leader David Seymour has an alternative idea:

Act says there’s a way to give workers the public holidays they want – without burdening employers with extra costs.

The party is calling for an overhaul to the current holiday laws. . . 

Leader David Seymour says national holidays like Anzac Day and Waitangi Day should be mandated – but other holidays like Easter and Labour Day don’t need to be.

He told Tim Dower making holidays flexible is better than creating more holidays.

“If you keep putting costs onto employment, you’ve got to apply some cause and effect thinking, because people who run businesses and employ people, they’re going to absorb that cost.”

Seymour says that the best option is to introduce some flexibility, with people able to trade out particular days.

Schools couldn’t have pupils taking days off at anytime to suit holidaying parents; having staff away at odd times could put pressure on other workers and some businesses find it easier to have all staff off at the same time.

People planning reunions, other celebrations and events often choose long weekends to maximise the chance of people being able to attend. With no set dates for holidays, numbers attending might be reduced.

However, people who have jobs in businesses or services that operate on holidays already have some choice over when they take their statutory days.

Flexibility over holiday dates could lead to a reduction in costs for employers too. If workers could choose which day to take a holiday it would do away with the current requirement to pay time and a half and give another day off to anyone who works on a statutory holiday.

It would allow people to choose dates that suited them, reduce traffic to and from holiday spots, and could even out some of the peaks and troughs for accommodation and activity providers in holiday hot spots by spreading visitor numbers over longer periods.

Flexibility over when statutory holidays are taken could work and it’s definitely better than adding another one.


Better health beats another holiday

08/09/2020

The country is still stuttering along at lockdown 2 (or 2.5 in Auckland).

The government is borrowing every cent it’s spending.

The country, and the world is facing the worst economic crisis in decades and yesterday we got a contrast in priorities from National and Labour.

National launched a policy taking a health approach to the meth pandemic:

National has outlined an integrated and comprehensive plan to tackle the issues caused by methamphetamine use. Our Plan will deliver a response work programme, unifying resources from Justice, Health, Police and Customs.

National’s plan tackles the harm of methamphetamine use, restoring hope to people trapped in cycles of drug dependence and challenging those who peddle misery in our communities.

The use of this drug tears families apart, fuels violence, enriches criminals and destroys lives. We cannot tolerate the continued misery this drug causes, which leads to rising levels of violence and poverty, and widespread social harm.

Methamphetamine is the most commonly detected illicit drug nationwide. Social agencies identify it as a significant factor in domestic and family violence.

There is no single solution to what has become a scourge on our society. A National government will tackle this problem from all angles, addressing both demand and supply.

National Plan to tackle demand will:

  • Deploy the Matrix Methamphetamine Treatment Pilot Programme across District Health Boards to provide direct support to those recovering from methamphetamine use.
  • Add 13 detox bed for methamphetamine across New Zealand, ensuring every District Health Board has at least one.
  • Ensure at least one methamphetamine specialist per District Health Board is available to assist with in-patient detoxing from methamphetamine.
  • Establish a contestable fund of $50 million to pilot new or scaled-up whole-community harm reduction programmes.
  • Establish best practices for frontline police to refer meth users to DHBs, Ministry of Social Development, education resources and community-based support.

National will reduce demand by improving the health response and providing treatment options that are not available today.

There must also be a strong response from our law and order agencies to disrupt those trying to bring meth into the country.

We will build capacity to interdict the international crime cartels that are bringing this problem to our shores. Good intelligence and international co-operation will be a priority under National.

There can be no tolerance for the dealing and supply of methamphetamine. Those who peddle this drug are responsible for the misery and social harm it causes.

National’s Plan to tackle supply will:

  • Increase funding for drug intelligence to enable Customs, Police and health authorities to identify drugs coming into the country.
  • Increase funding for Police and Health to identify new drugs and bad batches sooner.
  • Introduce more drug dogs at airports and ports.
  • Identify a new supply disruption strategy to reduce methamphetamine use in Corrections facilities.
  • Target domestic organised crime networks with extra focus and resourcing from Police.

National has a strong track-record of fighting the meth scourge. The Methamphetamine Action Plan we introduced saw increased seizures of methamphetamine and a 59 per cent reduction in use as a proportion of the population, between 2009 and 2015.

Labour rescinded National’s refreshed Action Plan in 2018 in favour of an ad-hoc, piecemeal approach to drug harm.

We will re-establish the social investment approach across the justice system, making sure the impacts of crime are addressed, as well as the causes of it.

New Zealand needs a co-ordinated and effective response to the methamphetamine problem.

With this Plan, National will deliver one.

You can read National’s Tackling Methamphetamine Policy Factsheet here.

This is a positive policy that takes a health approach to addicts and a cross agency approach to the people who peddle the drug.

And what’s Labour’s priority?

Another public holiday:

New Zealand is in the biggest economic crisis in a generation and Labour’s answer to this is another public holiday, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“At a time when the economy is shrinking and we are losing jobs, it’s tone deaf for Labour’s second policy announcement to be an additional public holiday.

“More and more New Zealanders want to celebrate Matariki, but if it is to take the form of a public holiday it should replace an existing one.

I like the idea of a holiday to celebrate Matariki. Mid winter is a much better time for fireworks than GUy Fawkes (which isn’t a holiday) or New Year. But my support is for it to replace an existing one not as an extra one.

“Businesses up and down the country are under colossal pressure right now, they’re the ones who will have to pay for another public holiday.

“It’s a pity that Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern has shown zero empathy for the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling right now to keep their businesses afloat and employ Kiwis.

“A new public holiday won’t mean much to the tens of thousands of families who are now on the unemployment benefit.

“The absolute focus should be on saving jobs and creating new ones, but we’re not seeing that from Labour.”

The Taxpayers’ Union describes it as another tax on employers:

An additional public holiday is a blatant tax on employers, who will be forced to pay workers for a day off. It will also reduce overall productivity, which means a smaller economy and fewer jobs. An economic recession is the worst time to introduce this kind of regulatory tax.”

“If the intention is to acknowledge the cultural significance of Matariki, there’s an opportunity for a middle road: introduce the new holiday, but scrap Labour Day, an obsolete hangover from international Marxism that most New Zealanders just consider to be a day off.”

The concept of an International Workers’ Day (also known as Labour Day) began its spread after a resolution by the Marxist International Socialist Congress in Paris, 1889.

The EMA is unimpressed:

The EMA says the Government’s announcement today of an extra public holiday for Matariki from 2022 is unlikely to find favour with its business members.

Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says it will be seen as another cost to business and is unlikely to support increased tourism, which was the original argument for an extra public holiday during COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2.

Some tourism businesses already close on public holidays because any increase in customers doesn’t cover the extra cost of wages and time off in lieu for staff who work on those days.

Mr O’Riley says the Government priority should be focused on fixing the dysfunctional Holidays Act.

“We need to see a simplified and streamlined process for calculating entitlements and creating efficiencies for business.”

“We understand the cultural argument about Matariki being considered important enough for a public holiday, but it could have been exchanged with one of the other public holidays,” he says. 

Heather du Plessis-Allan likes the idea but not the timing:

. . . Labour seem completely tone-deaf on this.

At a time when government should be reducing as many burdens on business as possible… they’re doing the opposite.

In this term alone they’ve increased maternity leave to 26 weeks, domestic abuse leave to two weeks, upped the minimum wage by 20 per cent, scrapped 90-day trials, regulated when employees must take breaks, are apparently considering doubling sick leave to two weeks and now this.

All in all that is a huge amount of regulation and cost added to businesses who are fighting for their survival right now.

It makes it slightly better than the policy is deferred to mid-2022. But, in truth, businesses will still be struggling then. ASB today projected it won’t enter recovery mode until 2023.

You have to wonder also at the priorities here. If this is the policy to kick off the campaign property you have to wonder whether Labour either doesn’t appreciate what’s headed our way or just knows it can get away with it while voters live in a fantasy land of sugar money propping up the economy.

This is a great idea, but it’s a great idea for another time. Right now, we have bigger problems than the need for another public holiday. 

We already have four weeks’ annual leave and 11 statutory holidays.

If ever we could afford another day off it isn’t now.

The contrast between the two policies couldn’t be starker – National’s will tackle a very real problem, Labour ignores the problems we’re facing.


Time for a more relevant holiday?

01/06/2020

Is it time for a more relevant holiday than today’s that celebrates the Queen’s Birthday, even though it’s not her birthday?

Queen’s Birthday holiday is the most irrelevant public holiday on our calendar. It’s time for a holiday that actually reflects Aotearoa’s unique place in the world” said Lewis Holden, Campaign Chair of New Zealand Republic.

New Zealand Republic has a petition for Matariki to be marked with a public holiday. Matariki is one potential alternative to Queen’s birthday.

“Queen’s Birthday is not celebrated in the United Kingdom as a public holiday, it’s not the Queen’s actual birthday and only falls on the first Monday in June because that’s when the weather is best in England for military parades. It’s hard to think of a more irrelevant day” concluded Mr Holden.

We have 11 statutory holidays and don’t need another but I’m open to the idea of swapping this one for Matariki.


Rural round-up

27/10/2017

Farmer restores whitebait for future generations:

Over the past few years Fonterra dairy farmer Stu Muir has been restoring the once stagnant stream on the boundary of his Waikato farm to create 20 whitebait spawning ponds with grasses, flaxes, kahikatia, kowhai, mahoe and other wetland trees.

“When I saw water quality and whitebait catches dropping, I knew I had to do something. My family has owned this farm for five generations, I went whitebaiting with my grandfather here and I wanted to do the same with my own children,” says Stu.

With numbers of whitebait now increasing, Stu is working to restore other local waterways. He and his extended family have been working on five dune lake restoration projects including Parkinsons Lake which is now fenced to exclude stock and 8,500 native trees have been planted. . . 

Boosting brainpower, flavour & texture in food exports of the future:

AgResearch scientists are leading new research that could revolutionise New Zealand foods – with new ways of boosting flavour and texture, and products designed to make our brains perform better.

Supported by industry and research partners, AgResearch is looking to the future for premium food exports with programmes that have recently been awarded more than $21 million by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund.

“The future for New Zealand food exports to the world is premium quality and adding as much value as possible to our products,” says AgResearch Science Group Leader Dr Jolon Dyer. . . 

New actions to increase Hawke’s Bay primary sector workforce:

New opportunities aimed at improving access to employment in the primary sector will be considered for incorporation into Matariki, Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been leading work in Hawke’s Bay aimed at increasing the uptake of employment in primary industries, one of the region’s largest sectors. The work is part of the Regional Growth Programme. . . 

Dairy industry free-range milk spat – Natalie Kotsios:

FREE-ranging use of the “free-range” label on dairy product will confuse consumers and potentially harm the industry, say farmers.

South Australia Dairyfarmers’ Association said industry should consider developing a free-range standard after Camperdown Dairy recently launched its “free-range milk”.

“I read it and went, ‘What’s that?’ and I’m a dairy farmer,” SADA president John Hunt said.

“We’ve got to be careful not to discredit our industry. We work very hard to keep legitimate  if there isn’t an industry standard they shouldn’t be able to say it. . . 

French winegrowers face poorest harvest since 1945:

France’s winegrowers are preparing for their poorest harvest in decades after frosty weather in April devastated vineyards, with many fearing they will be unable to meet market demand.

Winegrowers in France have finished harvesting their grapes to produce wine for 2017. Yet many fear they will be unable to satisfy market demand after their vineyards perished during the April frosts. Jérôme Despey, head of a governmental wine advisory board at FranceAgriMer, said this year’s harvest will be “the smallest since 1945”.

“At harvests everywhere, in places where we thought there would be a little less, there’s a lot less,” Despey said at a news conference in August. . . 

 


Word of the day

15/06/2015

Matariki – the Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster;  the season of the first rising of the cluster in late May or early June; Maori New Year.


Matariki

28/06/2014

Today marks the start of  Matariki, the Maori New Year.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises just once a year, in mid-winter – late May or early June. For many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year.

Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.

Cycles of life and death

Traditionally, Matariki was a time to remember those who had died in the last year. But it was also a happy event – crops had been harvested and seafood and birds had been collected. With plenty of food in the storehouses, Matariki was a time for singing, dancing and feasting.

Modern Matariki

Matariki, or Māori New Year celebrations were once popular, but stopped in the 1940s. In 2000, they were revived. Only a few people took part at first, but in just a few years thousands were honouring the ‘New Zealand Thanksgiving’. A special feature of Matariki celebrations is the flying of kites – according to ancient custom they flutter close to the stars.

The Northern hemisphere celebrates mid-summer but here it’s over-shadowed by Christmas and New Year which follow it.

Matariki provides us with an opportunity for a mid-winter celebration.

Some have suggested making it a holiday but the changing date would make that problematic.

Besides, we shouldn’t need an official holiday to celebrate – it’s something we can do with family and friends by ourselves or in our communities as we choose.

The coldest weather is almost certainly still to come, but we’re now nearer spring than autumn which is as good an excuse as any for some fun.


Rural round-up

09/06/2014

Review Panel releases consultation document and plans for travel:

The Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel released its public consultation document today. The document can be found on the Review’s website at www.ifsr.co.nz.

WorkSafe New Zealand statistics showed that between 2008 and 2013, there have been 967 reported instances of serious injury related to forestry and logging. In this time 28 workers died in accidents. That is just one person fewer than were killed in the Pike River mining disaster. The Review is being undertaken to address this very poor safety record.

Panel Chair, George Adams commented that “Forestry in New Zealand is far too dangerous. Everyone in the industry recognises that fact and that’s why the Review has been established. It is clear change must occur to prevent injuries and save lives. The consultation document provides an opportunity for everyone in the industry and the public to have a say in what those changes should be”. . . .

Forestry industry leaders need to own, manage and measure contractor health and safety:

Forestry industry leaders need to make themselves accountable for the health and safety of their contractors if the industry’s poor safety record is to improve, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

“They need to own this issue, and they need to manage it and measure how well they and their contractors are performing on health and safety,” says Forum Executive Director Julian Hughes.

A consultation document released today by the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel highlights that there is no simple fix to forestry’s safety problems, Julian says. . .

Time for Silent Majority to be heard:

Forest safety is something that many of the leading forest contractors take seriously. So the next step in the forest safety review process is being welcomed by Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the many forest workers their members employ.

Several industry associations have a keen interest in ensuring that as many workers as possible get their voices heard by the panel members as they move around the country to discuss forest safety and how it can be improved.

One of the groups, the Forest Industry Contractors Association, represents over 55% of the companies providing forest operations and harvesting services. With staff numbers in the thousands it is important that they find their voice and make sure it is heard by review panel members. . .

TPP to live on in other acronyms even if it fails: Groser – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – The negotiated positions of parties to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement will be crucial in developing other free trade pacts that are either emerging or on the table now, even if the current negotiations fail, says International Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Speaking in the Philippines as part of a business delegation in the capital, Manila, Groser said the TPP negotiations were now “at a crucial stage”, but that if the talks were to fail, the developments they achieved would still prove useful for the ultimate liberalised trade zone, the Free Trade Area in the Asia-Pacific, otherwise known as FTAAP. . .

Spider venom may hold key to saving bees:

Researchers believe spider venom may hold the key to protecting bees from harmful toxins after finding a bio-pesticide made from a combination of plant proteins and the arachnids poison is harmful to pests but not honeybees.

It is thought that neonicotinoid pesticides are behind the dramatic decline in honeybee populations, and this catastrophe could spell disaster for humans as food production greatly relies on pollinators such as the bees.

A team of Newcastle University scientists tested a combination of natural toxins from the venom of the Australian funnel web spider and snowdrop lectin bio-pesticides and found that it allowed honeybees to forage without harm even when exposed to unusually high doses. . .

Agricultural Fieldays keeps growing:

The sprawling national agricultural fieldays site at Mystery Creek near Hamilton has been a hive of activity as exhibitors get ready for the biggest annual event on New Zealand’s rural calendar.

Most of the major structures are up, but preparations and fine tuning will continue into the late hours on Tuesday night, before the gates open on Wednesday morning.

The exhibition area covers about 50 hectares with more than 900 exhibitors on 1380 sites. . .

Top NZ dairy technology goes on show in China:

For dairy operators in China looking to build new dairy complexes, leading dairy technology innovator Waikato Milking Systems and herd management technology company Afimilk offer total milking solutions.

Whether dairy companies in China’s growing dairy industry want a whole new large-scale milking system, or high-technology products to get more out of their existing milking system, these two companies have the expertise to deliver results. The companies will have a joint display at the World Dairy Expo in Xi’an in China on 13 to 15 June 2014. . . .

Commission begins process for the 2013/14 review of Fonterra’s milk price calculation

The Commerce Commission today released a paper outlining the proposed process and timeline for a review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2013/14 dairy season. The base milk price is what Fonterra pays the farmers who supply them milk.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year and 2013/14 is the second time the Commission will undertake a calculation review. The review will assess the extent to which Fonterra’s approach provides incentives for it to operate efficiently while providing for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk. The scope of the review is to only look at the base milk price, not the retail price that consumers pay for milk. . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Primary Sector Future Capability Report:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it’s important to have an understanding of the sector’s workforce requirements, to be well placed to take full advantage of the opportunities ahead.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy, has today launched the ‘Future capability needs for primary industries in New Zealand’ report that forecasts the future workforce needs of the primary industries.

The report says that for red meat and wool, the challenge will be in training and retaining people with market and product-oriented skills as well as cultural and language capabilities. This is because over 90 per cent of the sheepmeat and beef produced in New Zealand is exported to overseas markets. . . .

Applications Open for Fonterra Farmers to Lock in Guaranteed Milk Price:

Following last week’s announcement of the 2014/15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price, applications are now open for Fonterra farmers to lock in a price for a percentage of their milk.

Building on the success of the Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) pilot in the 2013/14 season, Fonterra has further developed the programme to give farmers even more flexibility to help manage the effects of commodity price volatility and give greater income certainty.

There will now be two opportunities in the 2014/15 season to secure a GMP on 60 million kgMS – up to 40 million kgMS is available in June, and up to 20 million kgMS is available in December. There is also a new approach to determine each GMP and allocate the available volume. . . .

Leading New Zealand wine brand celebrates a new beginning:

Matariki, one of New Zealand’s most prestigious wine brands has formally announced its return to market with the launch of its ultra-premium 2009 wines.

Now under the ownership of Taurus Wine Group Limited, the wines remain under the stewardship of John O’Connor and the watchful eye of the mother and her six daughters that form the visible stars in the Matariki constellation, appropriately re-appearing in the night sky on June 28 heralding the Maori New Year.

Matariki is marking its new beginning with the release of its flagship red blend, Quintology and single varietal range Les Filles (The Daughters), all from the 2009 vintage. . .

SATO Signs Master Service Agreement with Fonterra:

SATO, a leader in barcode printing, labeling, and EPC/RFID solutions, announced today that it has signed a Master Service Agreement (MSA) with Fonterra Cooperative Group Limited, a leading global dairy company based in New Zealand, to provide supplies, services, and support for barcode systems in Fonterra’s factories and distribution centers worldwide.

SATO has been working closely with Fonterra in New Zealand and Australia, playing an instrumental role in standardizing their barcoding systems and configurations. Furthering this partnership, SATO Holdings Corporation and Fonterra have signed an MSA which will cover all countries Fonterra operates in, allowing SATO’s global subsidiaries to better offer localized services matching the requirements of Fonterra operations in each country. Key applications that can be provided under the agreement include product traceability solutions, product anti-counterfeiting solutions, label management and printing solutions, wireless infrastructure solutions, and many more. . . .

Grand Final tickets selling out:

The showcase event of the rural community is just weeks away and tickets for events are selling out fast.

New Zealand Young Farmers members, supporters and competitors will descend upon Christchurch for the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final, 3-5 July.

Over a demanding three days the seven Grand Finalists will be put through their paces in a number of challenges, tested on all facets of New Zealand agriculture and farming.
Lincoln University Library will play host to the Official Opening, Thursday 3 July, 4.30pm, as the Grand Finalists come together for the first of two head-to-head challenges. Free for spectators. . .


Rural round-up

04/06/2014

Top bull’s legacy will continue to benefit NZ dairy industry for years:

A decade’s worth of outstanding dairy progeny remains the legacy of CRV Ambreed’s top bull Okura Manhatten who passed away in May.

Manhatten’s stud owners Bruce and Ngaire Cutforth of Okura Stud in Northland were compelled to put 14 year old Manhatten down 18 months after he returned to the stud, having delivered a decade’s service on CRV Ambreed’s Jersey sire team. . . .

Other side of the water issue – Chris Lewis:

Watching Campbell Live last week, I was disappointed to see more selective reporting on a water quality issue.

The reporter, Tristram Clayton, did a series of stories on Lake Waikare, which glossed over some important details – allowing viewers to jump to the easy assumption that, once again, another water source is under threat from the primary industries alone.

Before anyone jumps up and down saying I am an ignorant farmer not taking responsibility for our industry’s contribution, this is not what I am saying at all. . .

1080 video raises ire – Rachel Thomas:

A Waikato regional councillor has been called in to his bosses’ office to explain himself over a YouTube video he posted that criticises his own council’s 1080 poison scheme.

Thames-Coromandel councillor Clyde Graf filmed farmer Chris Barker, who had two cattle from his herd die after a 1080 drop near his King Country farm.

In the video, Barker said the Waikato Regional Council had been “dictatorial” in the past about dropping the poison. . . .

Two new members join HortNZ board:

Two new members have been elected to the board of Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ).

They are Tony Howey, a vegetable and berryfruit grower from South Canterbury, and Leon Stallard, an apple grower from Hawke’s Bay.

HortNZ president Julian Raine from Nelson was re-elected for a second term. . .

Supporting the next generation:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supports a new crop of young New Zealanders interested in agriculture through its annual undergraduate scholarship programme.

Over the past 11 years more than 50 young people have completed their studies at Lincoln and Massey universities and Taratahi and Telford thanks to the programme.

Applicants do not have to be from a farm but they need to be talented, motivated, and passionate about the sheep-and-beef industry. . . .

Entries open today for the 2014 NZ Food Awards:

The NZ Food Awards have been a highlight of the food industry’s calendar since 1987, recognising innovation in New Zealand’s largest export sector. Massey University’s stewardship of the awards since 1998 has seen them grow from strength to strength, recognising wider aspects of the business, including food safety, research and development, creativity and business success. . .

Leading New Zealand wine brand celebrates a new beginning:

Matariki, one of New Zealand’s most prestigious wine brands has formally announced its return to market with the launch of its ultra-premium 2009 wines.

Now under the ownership of Taurus Wine Group Limited, the wines remain under the stewardship of John O’Connor and the watchful eye of the mother and her six daughters that form the visible stars in the Matariki constellation, appropriately re-appearing in the night sky on June 28 heralding the Maori New Year. . . .


Shortest day, longest night, Matariki

21/06/2013

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day when we have a couple of seconds less daylight than we did yesterday and will tomorrow.

It’s also getting to the end of Matariki:

Matariki is the Maori name for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades star cluster or the Seven Sisters and what is referred to as the traditional Maori New Year. The Maori New Year is marked by the rise of Matariki and the sighting of the next new moon. The pre-dawn rise of Matariki can be seen in the last few days of May every year and the New Year is marked at the sighting of the next new moon which occurs during June. Matariki events occur throughout New Zealand and the timing of the events varies depending on Iwi and geographical differences.

Some Iwi recognize and celebrate a different cluster of stars called Puanga or Puaka. Matariki, Puanga or Puaka are generally celebrated during the months of June and July. Common principles apply to all celebrations whether they are Matariki, Puanga or Puaka. The duration of events and activities varies from a few hours to two months. . .

Whatever we call it, mid winter is a good excuse for a celebration.

However, in the south the snow many people will be putting their energy into keeping warm and fed and looking after their stock so any festivities will have to wait.


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