Bring back rabbit boards

November 21, 2017

Moeraki, which is best known for its boulders and the delicious seafood served at Fleurs Place, is suffering from a plague of rabbits.

Rabbit numbers on the Moeraki peninsula have  skyrocketed and are at “plague” proportions, residents say.

The township of Moeraki is “just crawling” with rabbits this spring, locals say,  and dozens  can be seen  at the local camping ground, on roadsides, in gardens and anywhere they can find food.

Not permitted to shoot or poison rabbits in urban areas, locals are left waiting for the release of a new strain of the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus to help control them.

The Otago Regional Council says it is the landowner’s responsibility to control pests, but residents spoken to by the Otago Daily Times say they have grown weary of the fight to control them.

Waitaki District Council Waihemo councillor Jan Wheeler, who lives on a farm on the peninsula, said the problem there was “shocking” despite her husband’s  efforts at rabbit control, and it was worse in the Moeraki village, which was “just crawling” with them this year.

“For every pair there’s been, there’s about seven babies running about. It’s a shocking problem. It’s been like this for about six years and it’s growing every year,” she said.

Retiree Brian Todd, of Hampden, last month began hunting, freezing and selling rabbits killed near Moeraki as pet food to a Timaru business.

In the middle of one day, he stood in the same spot on a Moeraki farm for  two and a-half hours and shot 46 rabbits, he said.

“There’s more rabbits in town than on the outskirts. The last thing I want to do is lose my firearms licence, but I reckon I could take out 1000 around town in a couple of weeks.” . . .

Moeraki retailer Leanne French said the village provided an ideal environment, particularly given there were many areas where landowners were not in a position to control them.

“They’re up in the …  holiday homes, where nobody lives …  they are just happily hanging out on the front lawn.

“As an example, we live where there are nine 12-acre [4.8ha] blocks, and there’s only three permanent people that live here. There are so many other pieces of land where nobody ever comes, so nobody can look after it. That causes trouble.” . . 

An application to import the new strain of the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus has been made to the Ministry for Primary Industries and is being consulted on at present.

The new strain  infects only the European rabbit and no other species.

Otago Regional Council director of environmental monitoring and operations Scott MacLean said  the virus, if approved, would be available by autumn next year and Moeraki would be a priority for its distribution. . . .

Our hills aren’t moving with rabbits as they are in Moeraki but we’ve noticed a population explosion at home.

We’ve tried every legal way of killing them but haven’t made any noticeable impact on numbers.

We often see them on the lawn and around the garden. Even our raised vegetable beds aren’t safe since they’ve learned to jump up to nibble on young plants.

A few decades ago every district had a Rabbit board which employed people to cull the pests.

Since then, everyone’s responsible for dealing with the problem on their own properties but rabbits don’t observe boundaries. Culling rabbits on one property achieves little if neighbours don’t cull them too.

Is it time to bring back Rabbit Boards?

That would reduce the pest population and create a few jobs too.


Another death at Moeraki turn-off

November 23, 2016

Another person has died at a North Otago highway black spot:

One person was killed in a three-car collision opposite the turn-off to tourist hot spot Moeraki Boulders, yesterday afternoon.

Police were called to the site about 3.30pm.

One person died at the scene and another with critical injuries was transported by rescue helicopter to Dunedin Hospital.

Two people with moderate injuries were taken to Oamaru Hospital.

Earlier this year, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) released information to the Otago Daily Times which showed eight deaths had occurred between Maheno and Moeraki since 2011.

Information provided by the agency identified 10 serious crashes in the area from 2011 to 2015. . .

 The turn-off to the Moeraki Boulders is on a straight stretch of road, which slopes moderately down-hill if you’re traveling south.

Visibility shouldn’t be a problem.

But if you aren’t used to looking right, left and right again, don’t look carefully enough, overshoot the intersection  and slow suddenly, concentrate on your GPS instead of the road and traffic . . . there are lots of opportunities for driver error to turn into tragedy.

 


Rural round-up

November 21, 2016

Kaikoura quake will have long-term implications for rural economy– Nick Clark:

This week has of course been dominated by the Kaikoura earthquake.  Our thoughts go out to everyone affected and Feds is playing an important part in the response efforts. 

As well as the impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods, there will be significant economic ramifications, both immediate and long-term.  The impacts will be felt locally and nationally.

The actual amount of damage and costs involved are still unclear and will take time to emerge.  What we do know though is that the scale of the disaster is immense and there has been severe damage to crucial transport and communications infrastructure, not to mention farms, businesses and homes. 

The cost of repair and rebuild alone will likely be in the billions and then there is the cost of the disruption, including lost business. . . 

Support package for earthquake-affected primary sector:

A support package for the primary sector around the upper South Island has been announced today by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“The earthquakes this week have had a major impact on farmers, fishers, growers and the wine industry. The damage is widespread and severe and will need the help of the Government to recover,” says Mr Guy. 

The package today involves funding of at least $5 million and includes:

  • $4 million for Mayoral Disaster Rural Relief funds (Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough) to help with non-insurable assets such as tracks, on-farm bridges and water infrastructure
  • $500,000 to support Rural Recovery Coordinators in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough Districts
  • $500,000 extra funding for Rural Support Trusts
  • $200,000 per month to mobilise and support skilled primary industry students and workers for farm recovery work
  • Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) from Work and Income NZ – emergency payments for farmers in real hardship. . . 

Farmers Grateful for Quake Zone Rural Relief Package:

Financial relief announced today for quake-stricken North Canterbury and Marlborough farmers will go a long way towards getting these families back up and running.

Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston says farmers will be pleased with the Government’s comprehensive range of $5 million in funding for various aspects of the quake response and recovery.

“The mayoral fund is specifically aimed at rural communities. It’s designed to help with restoring uninsured on-farm infrastructure like tracks, bridges and water reticulation. . . 

Feds set up trust for quake-hit farms:

Federated Farmers has reopened its Adverse Events Trust Fund to raise funds to support farms affected by the North Canterbury earthquake.

The trust fund will take donations which will be spent on immediate emergency support for farms, including emergency supplies, farm equipment, essential tools and materials.

“It’s a times like this that people are so keen to help, and that’s fantastic, but we have to be aware, the reality is dollars are going to be required to get these farms back up and running,” Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson Katie Milne says. . . 

Plenty of positive talk about venison and velvet season – Yvonne O’Hara:

“Positive” and “encouraging” are words that deer farmer and veterinarian Dave Lawrence, of Browns, is using  to describe this year’s venison and velvet season.

“It is all very positive,” Mr Lawrence said.

“The venison schedule is about $8kg.

“In seasons gone by, the trend was to peak at about $8 and now there is talk about that being the bottom.

“It is very encouraging.”

He said as the industry moved out of the trough, deer farmers were now retaining more stock to  build up numbers, rather than sending them to the works. . . 

Milk price brings welcome boost to economy:

DairyNZ has welcomed the increased forecast milk price announced today, as a boost to dairy farmers as well as the regional and national economies.

The increase of 75 cents brings Fonterra’s 2016/17 forecast farmgate milk price to $6/kg milksolids (MS) – a lift of $1.75/kg MS since the start of the season, which brings a boost for average dairy farmer revenue of $260,000 or $3 billion nationally.

Today’s 75 cent increase equates to a $1.3 billion lift in the value of this season’s milk production. . . 

Rabobank: World Dairy Trade Faces Strong Headwinds:

The trade in dairy products has suffered a number of massive blows in the last three years and is set to continue face headwinds going forward. The Russian trade embargo, the slowing of demand growth from China, the impact of low oil prices on demand from oil exporting countries and the strengthening of the US dollar have all had an impact on the demand for imports. The expansion of production surrounding the removal of production quotas in Europe added to the pain and resulted in a period of extremely low world prices, according to Rabobank’s report “Strong Headwinds Weigh on Trade Growth.”

“And when we look forward”, says Kevin Bellamy, Global Strategist Dairy at Rabobank. “We see that none of these issues has been resolved. The Russian ban will be in place at least until 2017. Demand from China will continue to grow but at a slower rate, oil prices are forecast to remain at around the USD 50 per barrel mark, and the dollar is forecast to maintain its high value against other currencies. As a result, dairy trade is likely to grow at a slower rate than in recent years, driven more by population growth than per capita consumption increases.” . . 

‘High-risk situation’ for yellow-eyed penguin chicks

Avian diptheria has killed one in three yellow-eyed penguin chicks hatched at two north Otago colonies this year.

Outbreaks of the disease have been occuring every second season on average for at least the past 17 years and young chicks are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Penguin Rescue manager Rosalie Goldsworthy, who looks after two colonies on the Moeraki Peninsula, said 31 out of 85 chicks hatched this year had died – many before they could be treated with antibiotics.

The disease first took hold in 1999, and at that point there were more than 600 breeding pairs on the mainland.

That population had declined to just 200 breeding pairs. . . 

New Zealand apple industry is breaking all records with largest ever apple crop forecast for 2017:

New Zealand is set to grow its largest ever export apple crop of 21.5 million cartons worth a record $800 million, the industry’s leader announced today.

Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard said the success of New Zealand’s apple industry was breaking all records.

“We are the first of New Zealand’s larger primary sectors to meet the Government’s challenge of doubling exports by 2025, and are well ahead of our own target of becoming a billion dollar industry by 2022. . .. 

Paul Henry … Invivo’s Newest Winemaker:

When Invivo winemakers were looking for a personality to make a Pinot Noir to match Graham Norton’s Own Sauvignon Blanc, they looked no further than Paul Henry. Now Paul ‘The Palate’ Henry can add winemaker to his career.

The self-confessed Pinot Noir expert was happy to team up with Invivo, the makers of award-winning Graham Norton’s Own Sauvignon Blanc, to produce a limited edition run of Paul Henry’s Own Pinot Noir.

Henry, who jokes about his highly attuned taste buds and advanced palate, says “I have been in training for this for years, most recently fine-tuning my expertise by specialising on reds, particularly Pinot Noir”.

Invivo co-founder Tim Lightbourne says, “When Paul put up his hand, we put a glass in it. Paul sees himself as bit of a wine buff, so we taught him about the blending process, then sat him down at the blending bench and said ‘go for it’”. . . 


Council + community = progress

April 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

”They more than met that challenge.”

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

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

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

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

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

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


Things to do in Oamaru

December 30, 2014

A few years ago friends came to stay a couple of nights on their way to Wanaka.

They ended up forgoing the trip to Central Otago in favour of staying longer with us.

It was one of those golden summers when days at the river a few kilometres from home were far more attractive than coping with holidaying hordes in more populous spots.

Not every summer is like that but the last few days have been good for holiday makers. We’ve had enough heat to enjoy the beaches or rivers but not too much to make other attractions too much of an effort.

When our friends visited, nearly three decades ago, Oamaru wasn’t regarded as a holiday destination.

That’s changed.

Lonely Planet, which had just two pages on the town five years ago now gives it nine and has dubbed Oamaru the coolest town in New Zealand.

An Explore Waitaki App will help you discover the district’s charms, find what’s where and how to get there.

I have yet to download it so don’t know if it will take you to places the locals go to cool off when the weather cooperates.

Rivers change and Gemmels Crossing where I spent many summer days as a child is no longer so good for swimming.

But there are still good swimming holes further up the Kakanui River near Clifton Falls and the Waitaki River also has some great picnic and swimming spots.

For those who prefer beaches, there’s Campbells Bay, All Day Bay and Moeraki.

Oamaru and the Waitaki District  hinterland have lots of other attractions.

Oamaru Today is very good at highlighting things to see and do and I’m planning to write posts about the area over the next few days.

You’re welcome to add your own ideas for holiday makers in North Otago of further afield.

 

 

 


Smiling not harpooning

December 27, 2011

Quote of the day:

“Today we smile at the whales and take their pictures, rather than harpooning them.” David Higgins in a story on Moeraki’s 175th anniversary celebrations.

A change of which no doubt Whaleoil approves.


More to Moeraki than boulders and seafood

December 31, 2008

The Moeraki boulders have always attracted visitors and Fleurs Place in the township has added to the reasons to stop.

However, the ODT shows there are other reasons for a visit.


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