Nicky Wagner’s valedictory statement

August 6, 2020

National MP Nicky Wagner delivered her valedictory statement:

Hon NICKY WAGNER (National): Thank you, Mr Speaker.

[Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

Tonight, after 15 years, I say haere rā to this place. Thank you, for giving me the opportunity to speak and thank you to everyone who’s come tonight. It means a lot to me. I’m delighted to celebrate this evening with my good friend David Carter. He was the first MP I ever met and he’s always encouraged and mentored me. He even delivers flyers for me at election time. Thank you, David.

Being an MP, of course, is an enormous privilege and it’s hugely demanding and it requires the support of many; thank you so much. Firstly, it’s just plain hard work. It’s physically exacting, 24/7 commitment, and it’s hard to get enough sleep. Emotionally, it’s challenging. I think it’s a treadmill of events, enormous adrenaline-fuelled highs and desperately mentally destructive lows, and always in the public eye. We need to look after ourselves here and look after each other. And I do have to say, I’ve always had the support of the class of 2005 and my mates in this caucus.

I came here because MPs can actually make a real difference for the people in their communities. Working through our electorate offices, we can fix stuff. We can sort out housing problems. We can deal with health and education issues. We can remove barriers for disabled people. And we can even diffuse neighbourhood clashes. You name it, we do it. I want to acknowledge all those constituents who have trusted me with their issues and every one of my staff who’s worked so hard to solve them.

In particular, I want to mention my long-serving office managers Heather Wellington and Nicola Olds. Now, Nicola’s wit is matched by boundless compassion for people, and she’s a true advocate for those who are in need. Now, Heather joined me when I first became an MP and she, her organisation skills, and her can-do attitude helped me get established in Christchurch, and then she moved to Northland, but she returned each election to volunteer to help me in my campaign, and I think that’s real dedication. Thank you very much.

And of course, Kirsten, who worked so hard on our communications during the earthquakes. You know, our newsletter really became a lifeline to so many. The same can be said of my current team, led by Karen Duff, with Marion Bishop and Boyd Becker. We tallied up the other day and figured that our office had worked with over 7,500 constituents and organised and hosted over 500 different events.

Electorate offices are the public-facing part of an MP’s job. They receive the good and the bad. They help people who are at their wits end. They support the vulnerable in our communities, but they also cop the abuse and deal with the threats. My team are extremely hard-working, enormously capable, and totally loyal, and I appreciate each and every one of them.

I never imagined or prepared myself to be a politician. As a local businesswoman, I was drawn into running in 2002, because I was incensed by the way that the Labour Government, I felt, was neglecting Christchurch and particularly small business and the small business community during the winter of discontent under Helen Clark. I was then elected on to the list in 2005, and that campaign, like all that’s followed, could not have been possible without the help of friends, family, and the wider National Party. Christchurch Central gave me the opportunity to stand and they have actively supported me ever since. I would like to thank my current chair, Brooke Law, and also a special thankyou to Stuart and Julie Laing and Murray and Joan Spackman. Those people have served continuously on the team since I was first selected and they’re still going strong, supporting our new hard-working candidate, Dale Stephens. So go well, Dale. I’d also like to thank the wider National Party, President Peter Goodfellow and the board, and our favourite regional chair, Roger Bridge.

Being a new MP was a steep learning curve. So much to do and so little time to do it. One of the issues that was vexing Christchurch Central at the time was boy racers. I worked with the police and neighbourhood groups on a member’s bill. It was never pulled from the ballot—none of my bills have ever been selected—but it was picked up by the then Minister, Judith Collins, when we came into Government. And, you know, the boy racers never saw it coming.

I also worked closely with the local Afghani community after a Christchurch taxi driver was stabbed to death. I supported his widow and family, but I also lobbied for the installation of taxi cameras. And, you know, it was CCTV technology that finally solved a longstanding issue of payment problems and horrible violence against drivers. We just don’t see it any more.

One of the most heartbreaking cases I had was the plight of a Kurdish family. One son had been left behind when they came to New Zealand and they sought my help because, in desperation, he had turned to people smugglers and had ended up in a boat that sank in the Black Sea. He survived, but he lost his wife and child. Of course, the whole family was distraught and eight of them practically camped in my office. Could we rescue him from Turkey? Could we bring him home? It was a really long and difficult negotiation, but the joy when he arrived really made it worthwhile. He got a job immediately and has been contributing to this country ever since.

The 2008 election was an exciting one. I became a Government MP and I soon learnt that it was infinitely more productive than being on the Opposition, especially under the leadership of Prime Minister John Key and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. John was ambitious for New Zealand, full of energy, with a strong vision for a confident, successful, and outward-looking nation, and always driven to make the boat go faster. And Bill was ambitious for New Zealanders, knowing that the system had to do better for those that struggle, and totally committed to social investment. He was convinced that the Government could do better to understand and respect individuals and families, and invest in them to help them get ahead. The drive to make New Zealand a better place for all New Zealanders underpinned everything our National Government did, and New Zealanders responded to the challenge. Despite the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes, the economy grew and more jobs were created than New Zealand had ever seen before.

I feel enormously privileged to have been able to work with the National Government from 2008 to 2017. We worked hard. We were effective, the country prospered, and New Zealanders rewarded us with their votes. I felt a small taste of that success because, in 2011, I became the first National MP to win the electorate of Christchurch Central—with the smallest of margins; a draw on the night, and then a whopping win of 47 votes in the recount. I well remember the night in Premier House when John Key proclaimed that the most unexpected, the most exciting thing about the 2011 election was winning Christchurch Central.

The present Government is keen to rewrite history and say that the National Government didn’t deliver for New Zealanders, but the voters said otherwise. Each election from 2008 to 2017 National’s vote increased, and in the 2014 election, in response to the earthquake recovery work of Gerry Brownlee, Christchurch turned blue. Every electorate gave National their party vote, and I was honoured to be re-elected with a majority of over 2,400 votes. In the 2017 election, National gained 1,152,000 votes—the most votes that any party has ever received in the history of New Zealand. Now, you tell me. Was it a system failure, a miscarriage of justice, or a betrayal of democracy that National and Bill English ended up on the Opposition benches?

Life in Christchurch has been challenging over the last 10 years. We’ve had multiple earthquakes—with liquefaction and flooding—followed by the Port Hills fires, then a mass shooting, and now a pandemic. We are battered, and we’re still a little bit munted, but we’re still there and we’re still strong. So kia kaha, Christchurch.

It was those 15,000-plus earthquakes that really shaped my work as a local MP, getting out during the emergency, throughout the aftershocks, physically delivering water and digging liquefaction, or managing to connect people to the services they needed. They were long, tough, and dusty days. Back then, we wore masks for the dust, do you remember? We’re now wearing masks for the pandemic. Everyone had lost someone or something. We were all upset, but we were all together. We all had to unite as a community, and people were magnificent. I have never been so proud of my community. We shared a toilet among our neighbours, and if you ever want to test whether your street would unite or divide, make them share a portaloo.

There was a constant circuit of public meetings full of people desperately looking for information, for advice, and for help, and together with my electorate team, we helped hundreds of people who had just run out of options. And then months and years of rebuilding, of insurance claims, of fixing and upgrading roads and services, restoring community assets—we engaged far and wide across the community, we worked with the community forum, we got their advice and guidance on the decisions that we had to make on laying out the blueprints for the city. I really thank all Cantabrians who came together to put forward ideas and took an active, future focus on the recovery and regeneration.

As a local MP, I was heavily involved in everything, but the highlight of my career was the opportunity to serve the Christchurch community, firstly as the associate Minister and later as the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration. Our focus was on rebuilding homes, families, and communities, and to deliver the blueprint, the plan to rebuild Christchurch as a modern, people-friendly, and 21st century city. We wanted Christchurch to be a city of opportunity, with an energy that attracts, that encourages, and that inspires people to come, to live, to work, and to raise a family there. We can now see the shape our new city, and I know we’re on the right track. That was confirmed for me when we recently welcomed home our oldest son and his Melburnian wife to Christchurch, and now we have another one-eyed Cantabrian granddaughter on the way.

One of my greatest challenges was to broker the agreement to reinstate Christ Church Cathedral. The cathedral in the square has long been a powerful symbol and heart of our city, and there was a real sense that, until its future was decided, Christchurch would feel broken. I worked with Bishop Victoria and city stakeholders, and developed a cross-party parliamentary group to deliver a recovery package. The journey was long, and it wasn’t until 9 September 2017, only a fortnight before the election, that we finally got the decision to restore. I think the whole city celebrated because, regardless of their opinion, everyone needed a decision so the city could move forward.

As a Minister, I’ve also held responsibilities for statistics—the only ministry that counts!—customs, disability issues, and associate roles for conservation, health, and tourism. I loved being the Minister of Customs. It’s the oldest Government department—180 this year—but, with Carolyn Tremaine as its comptroller, it was forward-thinking and innovative. During my tenure, we rolled out SmartGates in our airports and completed the Trade Single Window, a world-first electronic platform for cargo and excise. But my most important work was to rewrite, modernise, and streamline the Customs and Excise Act. That was a huge job, but I’m really proud of the quality of work that was produced. Our customs officers are remarkable people, who do so much to protect our country, and their work is not often recognised. I always enjoy the story of a suspected drug mule who, when questioned by our perceptive customs officers, said he’d come to New Zealand to play golf and view our wildlife. Further questioning revealed he didn’t have golf clubs, he’d never visited a golf course, and he was really keen to see our native giraffes!

As the Minister for Disability Issues, I quickly learned that disabled people want more choice and control over their support services, and more opportunities to live a good life. But mostly they just wanted a job. And, supported by both John Key and Bill English, I developed a two-pronged strategy. With John Key and Business New Zealand, I launched the Disability Confident campaign. It was to empower and educate employers, and give them the tools to open doors and welcome disabled people into their businesses. That, coupled with the employability scheme that we rolled out across the country, enabled hundreds of disabled people to get jobs and for the employers to get first-rate, loyal employees—a win-win. Even today, people seek me out and thank National for supporting them to get a job.

With Bill English, I worked on rolling out the Enabling Good Lives programme. That’s a scheme that provides individualised funding and navigators to help disabled people design their own unique good lives. We believed that the scheme would benefit all disabled communities, and I do hope that this work will continue, because it has transformed the lives of people that have been involved. With the right support, disabled people can shape their own lives with enormously positive results. I’ve been privileged to watch Yaniv Janson develop as an artist. Supported and encouraged by his family and his support worker-cum-art teacher, his talent has blossomed over the years. His work sells readily—I bought a couple myself—and I was delighted to be able to help him mount an exhibition at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Yaniv’s work has achieved artistic recognition on the world stage, and he’s been able to build a satisfying and sustainable career. Congratulations, Yaniv.

Of course, it’s the ministerial staff that makes things happen for any Minister, and I want to acknowledge all the various private secretaries who worked in my office, including Danielle from the Office of Disability Issues, Maurice from the customs department, and Mike from the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery. Also, all my press secretaries and ministerial advisers—you were a great team; thank you very much. I particularly want to acknowledge and thank Beryl Bright, my senior private secretary. Beryl has been in this place since 1984, and her knowledge of Parliament and the standing of Cabinet, and her reputation are immense. She’s a legend, respected and loved by so many. Also Cath Bell—Cath started working with me as an executive assistant when I arrived in 2005, and stayed with me through thick and thin until she retired in 2017. A dear friend, she now lives in the South Island; so some new adventures ahead, I think.

I’ve done so much with so many wonderful people since I became an MP, but—as always—there’s so much to do and so little time. I wanted to talk about the fantastic work of the Department of Conservation—conservation boards, Predator Free New Zealand. I wanted to outline the steps that we’ve made towards Smokefree 2025. I wanted to reflect on the invaluable insights that I’ve learned about Te Ao Māori and hākari from being on the Māori Affairs Committee and, more personally, from working closely with Ngāi Tahu as we regenerate our city, but the clock is ticking, I am aware.

So, to my family, who should of course be first but always tend to be last when you have a job like ours. Tonight, I am missing my two brothers, Hamish and Jonathan, and their families, who are locked down in COVID in Australia and can’t be here, but I’m grateful to my husband’s four sisters, all who are here. Both sides of the family have embraced and supported me, our children, and now our grandchildren, over so many years. And to my husband, Billy—I hit the jackpot when I married you. You were a good man then, but it’s amazing what 47 years of training has done for both of us. We are better people for each other, and look what we’ve produced. Two fine young men who have brought their fabulous wives into our lives and, in turn, produced our two little granddaughters, with another one on the way. I used to be the only woman in my family, and I always felt that you three ganged up on me, but now the gender balance has reversed—so look out!

In the immortal words of John Prine, Billy’s favourite Country and Western singer, “Against all odds, honey, we’re the big door prize” and I’m never gonna let you go. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.


That was then . . .

April 18, 2018

Remember how hard Labour and the Green Party campaigned against the then-National Government’s appointing commissioners to Environment Canterbury?

That was then, this is now:

National Party spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration has welcomed the decision by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to follow the previous National Governments’ approach to keep the current Environment Canterbury (ECan) board.

“Nanaia Mahuta is making a sensible decision to keep the current ECan Board and returning to a full democracy at the 2019 local body election, as the previous National Government had planned,” Ms Wagner says.

“Labour made plenty of noise about the lack of full democracy in Canterbury whilst in Opposition. Both present Ministers Eugenie Sage and Megan Woods led an aggressive campaign to have full elections immediately.

“Yet again, now that Labour is in Government it has abandoned its policy and is continuing with the plan started by National.

“Our long-term approach whilst in Government was designed to improve the standards at ECan. In 2009, the previous Government appointed commissioners to ECan following repeated poor performance by the council in achieving their regulatory requirements.

“Thanks to the hard work of the commissioners and the strong, sensible leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley and David Bedford, Canterbury now has one of the best performing regional councils in New Zealand.

“This has always been about making good decisions for Canterbury. The commissioners were put in to complete the water management plan for Canterbury which had languished under the leadership of the previous council.

“Nanaia Mahuta’s decision shows that the long-term plan started in 2009 has been effective. Half of the members on ECan were elected in 2016 and the plan had long been for the full council to be elected in 2019.”

ECan wasn’t working with elected councillors.

Commissioners have improved performance. Half the board are now elected members and as National planned, all members will be elected at the next local body elections next year.


Rural round-up

December 23, 2016

Probe of shot-calf incident  – Shannon Gillies:

Police are investigating the brutal death of a bobby calf near Waimate at the weekend.

The calf was found at the side of a road on Sunday morning, apparently shot five times and struck by a vehicle.

Dan Studholme, on whose property near Waimate the calf had been grazing, said it was apparent the calf did not die instantly from its wounds.

Mr Studholme was called by a forestry worker who discovered the calf. Then a vet and the police were called.

Rifle round casings were found lying near the dead animal, which had been shot in the leg, stomach and jaw. . .

New tools needed to ensure pollination – Maureen Bishop:

Breeding flies to act as pollinators, fitting queen bumblebees with radio transmitters, and preloading honeybees with pollen. These are all methods being trialled to increase the range of crop pollinators.
New Zealand crop industries need a box of new tools to ensure sufficient pollination into the future, a pollination scientist told the audience at the Foundation for Arable Research’s field day at Chertsey on December 7.

Dr David Pattemore, of Plant & Food Research, said scientists were seeking new methods of crop pollination for industries such as avocado, kiwifruit and other agricultural crops. . . 

Kakanui River finds new support group :

North Otago’s Kakanui River, the subject of a three-year community programme that finished in October, has a new champion.

The North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group (NOSLaM) has taken over from the Kakanui Community Catchment Project to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and increase biodiversity. The project was funded by the Ministry for the Environment’s  and the New Zealand Landcare Trust, with support from the North Otago Irrigation Company, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and Ravensdown.

NOSLaM chairman Peter Mitchell said the group had held meetings and made funding applications so it could continue the progress already made. . . 

Support for Gisborne conservation work:

Four ambitious conservation projects in Gisborne have received $78,000 in support from the DOC Community Fund, Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner have announced.

The projects range from weed eradication on Gisborne’s Titirangi Maunga to protecting wild kiwi in Maungataniwha and represent the best of community conservation, the Ministers say.

“Each of the groups is helping wage the War on Weeds and protect native species from introduced predators and invasive plants,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Kaikōura Cheese keeps going after quake – Max Towle:

Immediately after the Canterbury earthquakes, Daniel and Sarah Jenkins decided to pack up everything they own and move from Christchurch to Kaikōura.

A year later they fulfilled their dream and were cheese making, and eventually opened a shop, Kaikōura Cheese, on the main street.

Last month, when the shaking started again, they were hit with a severe case of deja vu and are only now starting to get their business rolling again. . . 

Fridge stoush over, copyright claim continues: Lewis Road claims partial victory over Fonterra – Ellen Read:

Boutique dairy producer Lewis Road Creamery is claiming a partial victory in its battle with dairy giant Fonterra and is praising social media for the outcome.

The two have been at odds for several weeks over the similarity of labelling on Fonterra’s new Kapiti premium milk range to Lewis Road bottles, as well as who has access to what shelf space in Foodstuffs’ New World and Pak ‘n Save supermarket fridges.

Co-founder Peter Cullinane said on Thursday that his lawyers received a letter from Fonterra lawyers late on Wednesday that showed Fonterra had updated plans it had been making to take up to 97.5 per cent of the supermarket shelf space meaning it was “business as usual” for all suppliers now. . . 

Will the Prime Minister accept Sir David’s challenge?

The challenges for a new Prime Minister are many and varied.

Over the last two weeks Bill English has negotiated a successful leadership campaign to succeed former Prime Minister John Key and a cabinet reshuffle, but now he faces a challenge of a unique kind.

Speaking with Jamie Mackay on NZME’s The Country radio farming show yesterday, Sir David Fagan, the world’s most decorated shearer and a member of the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships’ Organising Committee, laid an invitation at the new Prime Minister’s feet.

“Our new Prime Minister, I know he can shear. I’ve seen him shear at Lumsden many, many years ago at the Full wool Champs. Now there is a challenge for you Jamie, to get our new Prime Minister to shear a sheep down there.” Sir David said. But he didn’t stop there. . . 

Soils, climate, proximity key to new Marlborough vineyard development as sheep farm sold – Mike Watson:

A long-established Marlborough sheep farm has become the latest pastoral property in the region to be sold for vineyard development.

Vendor Mostyn Wadsworth has been a mainstay on the Northbank of the Wairau Valley for the past 33 years.

The Wadsworth family has farmed in the area for nearly a century. . . 


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


Rural round-up

November 28, 2016

Aiming for better public science understanding – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Interactions between agriculture and the environment have rarely been so much in the face of the public, and finding a path for the future is proving challenging.

Should New Zealand remain GE-free, ban glyphosate and embrace organics, or should it lead in adopting new technologies to increase efficiencies whilst minimising impact on the environment?

The general problem is that decisions have to be made on issues which arouse high public interest, and where knowledge is incomplete and complexity great. These issues are almost always linked to values, emotions and personal experience — what the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, professor Sir Peter Gluckman, describes as “the political power of the anecdote”. . .

Improved environmental performance to provide long-term strategic value for New Zealand’s agri sector– industry report:

Improved environmental sustainability should provide long-term strategic value to New Zealand’s food and agri sector, according to a recently-released report by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report, Sustainable Returns: Finding the value in Environmental Sustainability, Rabobank says two major types of value have been identified for farmers and food & agribusiness (F&A) companies from improved environmental practices – the immediate monetary benefit of these practices (from a price premium) and the long-term strategic advantages that provide growth and prosperity into the future.

Report author, Rabobank rural manager Sustainable Farm Systems, Blake Holgate says the type of value farmers and F&A companies can derive will vary depending on the product they are producing, how they are producing it, where they sit on the supply chain, and who the end consumer is. . . 

Stronger farm partnerships beneficial:

A national programme to increase profitability and productivity of sheep and beef farmers by strengthening farming partnerships is being scaled up to reach 2800 farms.

Since 2014, almost 500 women involved in sheep and beef farming businesses have completed the Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) programme, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT).  That included 50 women who last month graduated from the similar AWDT programme for Maori women, Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua.

The four-month programme, funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership , builds business and communication skills, and confidence of farming women, empowering them to view themselves and their farming roles differently and help lift farm performance. . . 

South Island leaders in for Australasian agri-business award

2017 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced

Three young agriculturalists from the South Island have made it through to the next stage of the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award. The three – Morgan Easton, a 33 year old farm owner and sharemilker from Oamaru, Jolene Germann, a 32 year old dairy consultant from Invercargill and Henry Pinckney, a 34 year old farm owner from Waiau were selected for their impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry.

The three will head to Brisbane next month for the interview round for a place in the finals. They will be up against Australia’s Anna Speer, CEO of AuctionsPlus, Will Creek, a Stud Manager at Stanbroke and Airlie Trescowthick, a business analyst and managing director of The Farm Table. . . .

In the running for agribusiness award – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton has been shortlisted for the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property.

Mr Easton (33), along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann (32) and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney (34), have made it through to the next stage of the award.

The trio were selected for their “impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry”. . . 

New plan to target Mackenzie wilding conifers:

A new strategy for tackling wilding conifers in the Mackenzie Basin has been announced today by Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

“Currently, wilding conifers impact on almost a quarter of land in the Mackenzie Basin, and without further control they will spread and take over large areas of farm and conservation land,” Ms Barry says.

“Wilding conifers are a major threat to our ecosystems, land and farms. These invasive self-sown trees spread fast and are very hard to eliminate once established.

“Prevention is the best form of management. Removing young seedlings now, before they start producing seeds, costs less than $10 per hectare, but removing mature trees can cost $10,000 per hectare.” . . .

National milk production down 1.5%:

Despite New Zealand dairy farmers receiving the lowest milk prices in 20 seasons, milk production dropped just 1.5%.

That was one of the New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2015-16 released on November 14 by DairyNZ and LIC. They revealed there were 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

Dairy companies processed 20.9 billion litres of milk containing 1.86 billion kilograms of milk solids in 2015-16. The previous season, they handled 21.2 billion litres of milk, with 1.89 billion kilograms of milk solids. . . 

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . . 

Kiwifruit industry welcomes Government decision on seasonal workers:

• 1000 additional seasonal workers for horticulture

• RSE workers support New Zealanders who remain primary workforce

The kiwifruit industry has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an additional 1000 seasonal workers for the coming season.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) Chief Executive Nikki Johnson says the extra workers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are essential to support the kiwifruit industry’s strong growth. . . 

Crown Irrigation Invests up to $3.4m in North Canterbury – some good news for the region:

Crown Irrigation Investments will invest up to $3.4m in the Hurunui Water Project, an irrigation scheme that will be capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

The scheme infrastructure includes water intakes from the Hurunui and Waitohi rivers, with both on plain and dam storage, and a pressurised piped distribution system. The current project cost estimate is approximately $200 million. . . 

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock – a victim of its own success:

The record turnout for last week’s New Zealand Bloodstock’s (NZB) Ready to Run Sale at Karaka shows our bloodstock industry is still punching well above its weight says Crowe Horwath’s bloodstock specialist Hayden Dillon. As interest from Australian and Asian buyers continues to grow, the sale saw a record number of entries with 552 horses offered, however, this was tempered by a low clearance rate of 60% compared to the 81% of last year’s record-breaking sale, which left a number of vendors taking their horses back home. Dillon, says “the industry should take comfort that this is not a structural issue for the sale, rather growing pains, and NZB and the vendors will be making adjustments as necessary for the 2017 sale.” . . .

The Cambodian farmers paid to protect birds:

Rice farmers in Cambodia are battling falling regional rice prices and a black market that’s been undercutting them.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, together with a firm called Ibis Rice, is offering to pay above market price for the rice.

In return, the farmers must help protect Cambodia’s national bird – the Giant Ibis. . .


Rural round-up

February 3, 2016

Booklet kicks off Fonterra structure review – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders have received a preliminary booklet on the co-operative’s governance and representation, raising many questions but not providing answers.  

It begins a five-month journey to a revised structure more appropriate for Fonterra’s size, complexity and global ambitions.  Farmer-shareholders will be expected to contribute to the review and vote on the final proposal in May. . . 

Rabobank announces new head of Food & Agri Research:

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group has announced the appointment of Tim Hunt as new General Manager of its Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) division.

Mr Hunt takes on the role after five years with Rabobank in New York, where he served in the international position of Global Strategist – Dairy.

In his new role, Mr Hunt will lead Rabobank’s highly-regarded food and agri commodities research team – comprising 10 specialist analysts – in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Alliance drafter has eye for winner – Sally Rae:

Warwick Howie received a little good-natured ribbing when he won the Paddock to Plate competition at the recent Otago-Taieri A&P Show.

Mr Howie, a drafter for Alliance Group, laughed that he had ‘‘copped a bit of flak” following the victory.

The competition, which attracted 41 entries, has become an annual fixture at the show, with proceeds going to the A&P Society. . . 

Course already tidy for Legends – Sally Rae,

When it comes to maintaining the Tokarahi golf course, greenkeeper Marty McCone has the same philosophy as for his farm – he likes it tidy all the time.

So preparing for this month’s PGA Legends Tour, which is returning to Tokarahi for the second year, did not require an extraordinarily massive effort.

‘‘I try and keep the course up to speed all the time. There’s a lot of little things you do to have it really tip-top,” Mr McCone said. . . 

Synlait revises milk price forecast to $4.20:

Synlait Milk has revised its forecast milk price for the 2015 / 2016 season from $5.00 per kgMS[1] to $4.20 per kgMS.

Chairman Graeme Milne said the revision is driven by the sustained low global commodity prices since September 2015, and a view that the recovery will be slower than anticipated.

“Our previous forecast of $5.00 kgMS expected prices to recover somewhat by this stage in the season, however this hasn’t happened and our revised forecast reflects this,” said Mr Milne. . . 

World Wetlands Day celebrated:

World Wetlands Day is a chance for New Zealanders to find out more about some of the country’s most important natural treasures, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner say.

To mark the day the Department of Conservation has released a new online resource,Our Estuaries, to help people explore and look after the wetland environment.

“New Zealand has more than 300 estuaries, and they are home to a wide range of native plants, fish and birds,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Rethink needed over dairy farm planting incentives:

The cost and benefits of planting trees to help mitigate environmental effects of dairy farming need to be shared by us all for it to succeed, a new study says.

Evaluation of an agri-environmental program for developing woody green infrastructure within pastoral dairy landscapes: A New Zealand case study says Government incentive programs are ineffective in overcoming barriers to planting such as the higher cost and slow growth of native plants, and the perception of planting being of little direct benefit to farmers’ operations.

Lead author, Lincoln University Landscape Ecology Senior Lecturer, Dr Wendy McWilliam, says the Government and the dairy industry need to work closely together to develop and maintain a landscape-scaled woody vegetation network on both private and public land. . .

Forestry show NZ way to better safety:

A sharp drop in forestry deaths and serious injuries after a massive safety overhaul in 2014 shows what can be achieved when an industry joins together to make improvements, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

The fall is welcome and sets an example for other industries to follow, says Forum Executive Director Francois Barton.

“Forestry has shown us some of the things that need to be done to bring down high fatality and serious injury rates in an industry,” Francois says. . . 

Good Progress – But More Work to Do to Make Forestry Safe:

A reduction in deaths and serious injuries in forestry since 2013 is encouraging but there is more work to be done yet, the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) says.

WorkSafe figures show serious injuries halved to 78 in 2015 from 160 in 2013, FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing says.

“The trend is going in the right direction but we can’t rest on our laurels. Three forestry workers died in 2015. That’s well down on the 10 who died in 2013 but it’s up from just one in 2014.. . .

Irrigation scheme loan approved:

An $8 million loan from the Selwyn District Council means design of stage two of a multi-million dollar irrigation scheme can go ahead.

The council approved the loan to Central Plains Water last month, with the money expected to transfer over next week.

But a community group told RNZ News rate payers should not be lending money to fund a private shareholder scheme. . .

Ruataniwha Dam: Investor mix still being finalised:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company (HBRIC) says work on getting farmers to sign up to buy water from the proposed Ruataniwha Dam is on hold until the project’s investor mix becomes clearer.

HBRIC has been looking for institutional investors to put money into the dam since Trustpower and Ngai Tahu pulled out in early 2014, saying the risks surrounding the dam were too high and the returns too low.

The company said it had countersigned contracts for 31 million cubic metres of water with a minimum of 45 million cubic metres needed to be sold to make construction financially viable.

It said finalising the investor mix for the Ruataniwha Dam was its current focus. . . 

Global slump in fert prices benefits NZ farmers:

New Zealand farmers stand to benefit from significant savings on their farm nutrient inputs with Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ latest round of price reductions, effective 31 January.

The price review sees urea drop $50 to $525, DAP reduce $25 per tonne, sulphate of ammonia by $15 and potash by $10. These changes will flow through to product blends.

Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the move comes on the back of a global slump in fertiliser prices, driven by strong supply and soft demand. . . 

Lowest urea price since 2007:

Farmers stand to benefit from a $50 per tonne saving for urea from 1st February, when Ravensdown will drop its prices.

Chief Executive Greg Campbell says he is pleased that Ravensdown is again leading on a price reduction for farmers who are facing increasing costs in many aspects of their business whilst their returns are under pressure.

“We said it not long ago, with our recent superphosphate cap,” Greg says, “that we are about delivering all-year value to our shareholders, and we’re demonstrating it again with urea and other products.” . . 


Rural round-up

September 14, 2015

Federated Farmers welcome court ruling on genetic modified crop:

A Western Australian Court of Appeal ruling on genetically modified (GM) crop liability has been welcomed by Federated Farmers as a landmark decision which clearly sets out fundamental responsibilities of good neighbours that apply equally well in New Zealand and around the farming world.

In 2014, organic farmer Steve Marsh sued his neighbour, GM farmer Michael Baxter, for damages after sheaves of GM canola blew onto his property, resulting in his partial decertification as an organic farmer. Mr Marsh also sought a permanent injunction preventing his neighbour from growing GM crops.

At the time the case went to court, anti-GM groups, confident of a win, hailed it as potentially precedent setting. . . 

25 pieces of advice for 25 year-old farmers – Matthew Naylor:

I have been a farmer in my own right for a quarter of a century.

I know that I look unfeasibly young to make such a claim; I started work at 15 and pretty well managed to avoid higher education.

Twenty-five more years of toil and I will be looking at the age of retirement from the other side.

To commemorate this halfway milestone, I have compiled the little that I have learned over my 25 years of experience into 25 pieces of advice for 25-year-old farmers.

  1. Set a clear and simple business plan and stick to it. Tell it to anyone who will listen – your family, colleagues, customers, competitors and even the postman.
  1. Kill weeds when they are small – this rule applies to any problem you encounter in life. . . 

Street doctor tells rural people to watch their health – Jill Galloway:

A doctor who specialises in treating people in rural regions says farmers need to get their own health checked more often.

Dr Tom Mulholland talked to about 50 people at the old Parewanui school near Flock House, Bulls this week.

“Farmers are good at looking after their stock and their land, but not so good at looking after themselves and their top paddock [their heads].”

About half the group listening to him talk were men. . . 

NZ stands firm on lamb export deal:

New Zealand will not agree to a review of New Zealand’s quota of lamb exports to Europe despite pressure from British farmers, the government says.

Livestock board chairs from Britain’s farming unions, meeting in Brussels, have called for the review. They say New Zealand has moved from sending frozen lamb to chilled lamb and from carcasses to bone-in cuts, representing a substantive change to the original deal signed in the 1980s.

But Trade Minister Tim Groser points to later trade negotiations which changed that agreement. . .

Avocado congress should ‘raise industry profile‘:

The World Avocado Congress get underway in Peru today.

The congress is held every four years and New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular, who is in Peru, said it was a great opportunity to raise the profile of the industry.

Ms Scoular said the congress, which runs for a week, allows countries to share science and research information. She said tree productivity and irregular bearing of avocados would be a hot topic because it was a global issue. . . 

Whitebait, birds receive conservation boost:

Whitebait will be making a comeback into Christchurch and more will be done to protect the habitats of Canterbury’s colony-nesting river birds, says Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner.

The Community Conservation Partnership Fund is providing more than $126,000 to the Whaka Inaka project to restore whitebait habitat in Christchurch, and more than $33,000 to the Braided River Partnership project to improve the success of colony-nesting birds along Canterbury rivers.

“Whitebait spawning in Christchurch has declined, particularly after the earthquakes caused significant habitat damage. The Whaka Inaka project will provide an immediate temporary spawning habitat for whitebait along 3km of Christchurch river banks,” Ms Wagner says. . . 

A falling dollar not all bad news – Rick Powdrell:

I was just thinking lately how things can change so abruptly in a year.

Farmers are once again facing tough realities of global export trade, price volatility and geopolitical unrest.

This time, last year, dairy was buoyant with record payout and nothing looking at halting the juggernaut.  Sheep meat prices were positive for the season; beef was in the ascendancy and wool finally rebounding.

Fast forward and dairy is struggling with sheep meat failing to deliver on anticipated returns. Still, beef is extremely strong and wool has continued its gradual recovery. . .


Rural round-up

July 11, 2015

Toughest farming conditions fro more than 25 years – Tim Fulton:

The micro-climate at Tim and Katie Wilding’s farm at Conway Flat in Canterbury is balmy enough for a crop of garden macadamias but the couple haven’t seen dry conditions like this since the 1980s.

All the natural springs “on the hill” have dried up. That’s never happened before, lifelong resident Tim says.

 Last summer had lifted soil temperatures to about 50 degrees Celsius. It killed a block of hopeful young grass with barely a fight.

The family runs one of New Zealand’s largest beef cattle studs, Te Mania. Their place is a narrow strip between North Canterbury and Kaikoura that usually gets plenty of rain and sun. hence the macadamias. The Wildings have been in full charge of the herd since 1982. . .

Farm worked by same family for 171 years:

A Nelson farm owned by the same family for 171 years is still going strong – and that’s despite the slump in dairy prices.

The Raine family have owned Oaklands farm since 1844 and began milking cows there in the 1930s, but they reckon weather and urban growth are bigger threats to its future. They have become the oldest family in New Zealand to receive a Century Farms Award, which recognises families who have worked the same land for a century or more.

The farm is now run by Richard’s eldest son Julian Raine and his wife Cathy, who live on a neighbouring house on the property. The farm currently milks 200 cows year-round and is run as part of an integrated farm business alongside other farms and horticultural interests in the Nelson region. . .

Most dairy farmers will run at loss this season:

The national dairy industry body says at current forecast milk prices, in Fonterra’s case $5.25 a kilo, most dairy farms will run at a loss this season.

To help them survive that, DairyNZ is providing a new service that they can tap into.

Farmers can go on-line and check out detailed budgeting information from top performing farms, which have pared back their production costs to below $3.50 a kilo of milk solids.

DairyNZ’s research and development head, David McCall, says as things stand the average dairy farmer will lose $150,000 to $200,000 this season if they don’t make changes. . .

West Coast wetlands protected by Nature Heritage Fund:

A significant wetland on the West Coast home to rare birds and plants will be preserved for the public thanks to the Nature Heritage Fund, Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner says.

“The Nature Heritage Fund has purchased 56 hectares of land in Okuru, South Westland to become part of the conservation estate. This land is a great example of open pakihi, a type of wetland characterised by low soil fertility,” Ms Wagner says.

“The pakihi provides a perfect home for the declining South Island fernbird and supports several types of native plants, including sun orchids, carnivorous sundews and bladderworts. . .

US market offers huge potential for New Zealand wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc:

New Zealand wine exports to the United States are growing faster than to our traditional international markets of Australia and the UK, and that pace is being matched by increasing recognition at the top competitions.

In the five years from 2010-2015, exports of Kiwi wines increased three times faster than the UK and Australia. For the 12 months ended April 2015, New Zealand exported 5.88 million cases of wine to the US – up three million since 2010. During that period, exports to Australia increased to 6.4 million (4.8 million five years ago), and in the UK to 6.3 million (4.7 million). . .

 

New possibilities for NZ urea production:

Tenders have been called for a possible redevelopment of Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ ammonia-urea plant at Kapuni in Taranaki.

The only plant of its kind in New Zealand, Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the call follows a year-long feasibility study including discussions with international specialists in converting gas to fertiliser.

“This has given us confidence to make the next move and ask global experts to scope and cost a re-development. . .

 

Success at Fieldays means boost for Kiwi economy:

With the success of James & Wells’ clients at this year’s and previous Fieldays, there’s no denying that agriculture is still a huge part of New Zealand’s economy.

But it’s not necessarily agriculture as we used to consider it – traditionally farming, machinery and fruit growing – but innovation in agriculture that is allowing wealth to be created from ideas.

In the 27 years James & Wells have been involved with Fieldays, we’ve seen plenty of innovative agricultural ideas, and having our roots in the Waikato since the 1970s, we know a good one when we see it.  . .

 


Rural round-up

June 29, 2015

Snow does little to blunt Hurunui drought – Tim Cronshaw:

Melting snow has combined with the first decent rainfall in six months to provide some relief for dry Hurunui but it would be a stretch to call it a drought breaker.

Much of the snow over the last week has thawed and gone into soils to go some way to replenishing ground moisture that has taken a hammering in the district particularly extending from Hawarden to Cheviot.

The problem is that it’s arrived too late for farmers as winter pulls the plug on major grass or winter crop growth.

Snow, sleet and rain topped up gauges by 20mm to 50mm over Hurunui farmland in the first major rain of the year.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury Meat & Fibre chairman Dan Hodgen said the snow and rain event would be of little initial help for farmers. . .

US likely to force pace on TPP with fast track in place – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – The United States is likely to try and force the pace of negotiations to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the next few weeks, following a vote in the US Senate last night that all but ensures President Barack Obama will gain so-called ‘fast track’ authority to complete the controversial agreement.

One more Senate vote is expected overnight tonight, New Zealand time, to confirm Trade Promotion Authority – an essential component to resuming the 12 nation talks that have been stalled for months while Obama cobbled together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans large enough to support the measure. . .

TPP does not add up for NZ without good dairy outcomes:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is firm in its view that a good deal on dairy in TPP is necessary for any deal to stack up for New Zealand.

“The facts are that dairy accounts for 35% of NZ exports. You can’t even come close to achieving an acceptable deal for New Zealand without a good deal on dairy” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

DCANZ which represents the common policy interests of 11 New Zealand dairy companies, accounting for 98% of milk processed is following the negotiations carefully. . .

 

Landcorp sees NZ dairy conversion rate slowing – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, which has almost tripled its milk production over the past decade, expects the rate of dairy expansion will slow as environmental restrictions, and higher land and labour costs make it less viable.

Large tracts of flat land in New Zealand once used for sheep farming have been converted to dairy as farmers were lured by higher prices for dairy products while demand for sheepmeat and wool waned. The number of dairy cows has jumped to a record 6.7 million, while sheep numbers dropped below 30 million for the first time in more than 70 years, according to data published by Statistics New Zealand last month, covering the 2014 agricultural year. . .

2015 National Award Winners: Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy:

John and Catherine own 1240ha Highlands Station – a productive and well-maintained hill-country farm south of Rotorua. Sitting within the Lake Tarawera and Rotokakahi catchments, the farm’s distinctive contour was shaped by volcanic activity which flattened forests, carved out hill faces and left the area covered in Phosphate-rich mud.

John’s father Allen began developing Highlands Station in the early 1930s and award judges noted the Ford’s “strong family history of commitment to agriculture”.

Highlands Station has a “much loved feel” and its outstanding meat and wool production puts it among New Zealand’s leading sheep and beef farming operations. . .

 Appointments to Conservation Boards made:

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner today announced 41 appointments to the 14 Conservation Boards across New Zealand.
“I want to congratulate each of the community representatives who are being appointed in 2015, particularly the 14 who will serve for the first time. I would also like to thank the outgoing representatives for their contribution to conservation in their region,” Ms Wagner says.

“A third of Conservation Board positions were open for renewal this year. The diverse range of appointees will bring a wide array of knowledge and skills to conservation management in the communities they represent. . .

Nobody’s happy with manuka honey definitions: MPI – Suze Metherell:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s lack of definition for what constitutes manuka honey has overseas regulators worried about forgeries, with China likely to introduce a certification scheme for the honey imports, the Ministry for Primary Industries is telling the country’s beekeepers.

There is no industry-wide consensus on exactly what constitutes manuka honey, with MPI working to come up with a formal definition and a method for identification. While it isn’t a food safety issue, MPI “takes concerns about the authenticity of New Zealand products very seriously and is acting to address these,” according to its website. . .


Rural round-up

April 19, 2015

DOC and New Zealand Fur Council agreement a win-win – except for possums:

Greater conservation and economic benefits will follow an agreement signed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and New Zealand Fur Council (NZFC) today.

DOC already works with individuals who wish to hunt and trap on conservation land, but this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the collective voice of the possum fur industry will make it easier for Fur Council accredited hunters and trappers across the country to gain access to public conservation land for fur recovery operations.

“We need more possum fur to increase the market size for New Zealand’s unique blended Brushtail possum yarns and garments,” says Neil Mackie, chairman of the New Zealand Fur Council. .

An iwi-based farming initiative:

A large Māori farming corporation in Whanganui is using a marae homestead near Waiōuru to train young adults from its iwi to run all of the incorporation’s farms.

The Awhiwhenua Land Based Training Farm School based at Ngā Mōkai Papakainga, under the shadow of Mount Ruapehu, is Ātihau Whanganui Incorporation’s third iteration of a training programme that its trust funds.

Chair of Te Ātihau Trust, Toni Waho, said that while its goal is to have uri (descendants) running all its farms, he admitted that the course was lacking a cultural and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) component. . .

Export statistics for the first half of the 2014-15 season:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the first six months of the 2014-15 meat export season (1 October 2014 to 31 March 2015).

Summary
Strong demand and a weaker New Zealand dollar against the US dollar led to record high returns for beef in the first six months of this season, with the average per tonne value up 28 per cent, compared to the same period last season. Meanwhile, the total value of lamb exports rose slightly, despite lower export volumes.

October 2014 to March 2015 exports

 . . .

US burger demand bodes well for NZ beef farmers, economist says: – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A trend towards eating out in the US, which saw sales at restaurants and bars overtake spending at grocery stores for the first time last month, bodes well for New Zealand farmers who produce beef for hamburger patties, an economist says.

The US is New Zealand’s largest beef market, accounting for 51 percent of the nation’s $2.65 billion of beef exports in the year through February, according to the latest trade data from Statistics NZ. Retail sales data released in the US yesterday showed younger Americans are more likely to eat out at fast-food restaurants, helping restaurant and bar sales overtake grocery for the first time since the data began in 1992, Bloomberg reported. . .

Minister meets four-legged border protectors:

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner acknowledged the valuable assistance the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) Detector Dog Breeding and Training Centre has provided New Zealand Customs, on a visit to the Centre in Melbourne.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the hardworking Customs staff – both four-legged and two – at the Detector Dog Centre,” Ms Wagner says.

“New Zealand Customs has been working with the ACBPS Detector Dog programme since 2002. The ACBPS provides up to five dogs a year under an agreement that has seen 27 dogs join NZ Customs since 2008. . .

How bad was this summer’s drought? – Andrew McMillan:

There are two interesting questions in regard to this summer’s drought. Firstly, how bad was it compared to other years. And secondly, how bad was it on a regional basis.

To answer these two questions, I grabbed some rainfall data from NIWA’s CliFlo Database and carried out the following analysis. . .

Waitomo-based Footwhistle Glowworm Cave celebrates 100 years guiding:

It is a momentous occasion for the team at the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour in Waitomo as they celebrate a combined 100 years of Guiding. The small Family team of Four Guides have over 100 years of guiding experience between them.

“This is quite an achievement considering we only opened this cave tour in 2010,” says Kyle Barnes, owner-operator of the Footwhistle Glowworm Caves.

“Footwhistle Glowworm Cave is one of the largest systems in the Waitomo area and thanks to conservation measures and careful native planting over the past 20 years our system now supports some of the best Glowworm displays too,” he says. The absolutely stunning cave system is made up from stalactites, stalagmites and other cave formations growing from water dripping from the ceiling or flowing over the walls and leaving behind limestone deposits. . . .

 


Feedback sought on earthquake memorial

February 18, 2015

The public is invited to give feedback on the six designs shortlisted for the  Canterbury Earthquake Memorial:

The Memorial will honour the victims of Canterbury’s earthquakes and acknowledge the suffering of all those who lived through them as well as the heroism of those who participated in the rescue and recovery operations.

More than 330 submissions were received from 37 countries after designs were sought by the Government, Christchurch City Council and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

The six short-listed were selected last year and have since been adapted following consultation with stakeholders, including those who lost loved ones and those who suffered serious injuries, and in order to ensure they met design criteria.

“I think each of the designs is outstanding and reflects the Canterbury experience in a different way. Every one of them could be a fitting memorial for what we lost and what we have been through as a city,” says Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Nicky Wagner.

“The public now has a chance to have its say on which design best reflects that shared loss and experience.”

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says this is an important step towards having a memorial space that will mean so much to so many people, here and around the world.

“Allowing the public to have a say in how we commemorate what we have lost, while capturing a sense of hope for the future, will make a real difference.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tā Mark Solomon says: “It is very important for the region, our city and our communities to have an appropriate place to honour and reflect on the events of the earthquakes. I believe as a community we will achieve this.”

The short-listed designs can be viewed at www.ccdu.govt.nz/ideas-to-remember and feedback can be given on the website until 15 March. . .


Rural round-up

February 12, 2015

Farmers trading risks with barns, study shows:

Investing in a wintering barn may feel good for the farmer but it won’t necessarily be profitable, according to a DairyNZ study.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman and AgFirst consultant Phil Journeaux, presented the interim results of the study to a conference in Rotorua today, indicating that the jury is still out on whether investing in a wintering barn is a good financial or environmental move.

The paper presented to the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society’s annual (AARES) conference is based on analysis of a selection of five South Island farms with free stall barns. . .

Safer Farms a personal responsibility:

Speech by Peter Jex-Blake, Federated Farmers Gisborne/Wairoa provincial president to the SaferFarms launch at Wairakaia Station, Muriwai

First of all I would like to congratulate WorkSafe on the Safer Farms initiative. Improving farmer awareness and understanding of risks involved, along with education on how these risks can be minimised and or managed, is a far more effective approach than dishing out heavy handed fines which are totally disproportionate to the offence committed, and create much antagonism towards the regulators.

By nature, farmers are individuals who strongly believe in personal responsibility rather than having ‘big brother’ telling them what to do, and have an inherent intolerance for bureaucracy and attending to endless compliance documents. Family farms are still the backbone of the New Zealand economy, and often are run solely by family members. Farmers do what they do because they enjoy the lifestyle the business provides. It enables the family to be involved in the business. It is a challenging, demanding and complex business, so attending to increasing compliance and filling out of forms is not something that most farmers enthuse over, and does take away some of the enjoyment factor. . .

Biosecurity officials go to war over bug:

Biosecurity officials are raising a bit of a stink about a voracious bug that could cause havoc with fruit and vegetable crops if it gets loose here.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has scaled up treatment requirements for vehicles and machinery coming from the United States because of more frequent discoveries of the brown marmorated stink bug on these imports.

The stink bug originated in Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea but has now invaded the United States where it is causing huge losses to crops. . .

China-NZ Customs work to enhance trade:

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says New Zealand and China Customs authorities are a step closer to establishing a system to enhance trade assurance and facilitation under the New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement.

Ms Wagner and NZ Customs officials met with the Vice Minister of the General Administration of China Customs Mr Sun Yibiao and his delegation in Auckland today to discuss facilitating trade and combating drug trafficking.

“Trade with China is critical to our economy, and it’s important that traders’ documents meet our trade partners’ standards to ensure exports travel smoothly,” Ms Wagner says. . .

 

Julio’s first day of farming – Julian Lee:

Campbell Live reporter Julian Lee – also known as Julio – wanted to find out what it was really like to be a dairy farmer.

So he left the office for the day and stayed on the Downings’ Farm in Morrinsville and did an actual shift on the job.

Everyone in the Campbell Live office was so impressed by Julio’s first day as a dairy farmer, that we’ve decided to turn it in to a series: Have you got a job for Julio? . . .

Merino fashion brand PERRIAM expands with the launch of Little PERRIAM:

Little PERRIAM, the exciting, fresh new babies and children’s merino clothing label by Wanaka fashion designer Christina Perriam, launches online and in select retail outlets today.

Today’s release of the first Little PERRIAM range follows the successful launch of Christina’s new luxury lifestyle merino fashion brand PERRIAM, which took place in Tarras in October 2014.

Little PERRIAM replaces Christina’s hugely popular babies and children’s label Suprino Bambino as she continues to deliver her new brand’s overall vision. With similar design elements to Suprino Bambino, like fun prints, bold colours, touches of Liberty fabrics and on-trend designs, the Winter 2015 range of Little PERRIAM is expected to continue to be a hit with parents and kids.

 

Leading real estate company strengthens leadership of its rural division:

Bayleys Real Estate has strengthened its countrywide rural division – with the appointment of Simon Anderson to head up the company’s rural marketing and sales activities nationally in the newly created role of national country manager.

Mr Anderson has been involved with the company’s rural activities for 13 years as the regional rural manager for the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Taranaki regions.

Based out of Bayleys’ Tauranga office, Mr Anderson will take on a strategic role to expand the agency’s national and international marketing of rural properties – ranging from horticulture, sheep and beef, forestry and viticulture sites, through to agricultural and dairying blocks. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

August 28, 2014

Fonterra to offer at least 20% premium for Beingmate shares in deal to drive Anmum sales – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will offer a premium of at least 20 percent for a one-fifth stake in Beingmate Baby & Child Food as part of a $615 million investment in a partnership to drive baby food sales into China.

Fonterra will offer 18 yuan a share for Beingmate stock in a partial tender offer that will be supported by chairman Wang Zhentai, who will sell down his stake to about 33 percent in the transaction.

Based on Reuters data, Beingmate has 1.02 billion shares on issue, suggesting the offer values the Chinese company at 18,360 billion yuan and Fonterra would pay 3.67 billion yuan, or NZ$714 million to build a 20 percent stake. The shares last traded at 14.36 yuan before being halted from trading, according to Reuters data. . . .

New Zealand And International Investment Welcomed by Farmers:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said today’s announced investments in New Zealand’s milk pools and a global partnership with China’s Beingmate were bold moves that would be welcomed by the Co-operative’s Farmers.

Mr Brown: “There is a direct link between the $555 million investment in the Lichfield and Edendale sites and the $615 million investment in the partnership with Beingmate in that both align with the Fonterra strategy of increasing the volume and value of our milk.

“The investment in New Zealand operations is a real positive and will optimise the Milk Price we receive by enabling our Co-op greater flexibility in deciding which products our milk goes into and when. . . .

 Fonterra news ‘as far from milk & disaster as the moon’:

Farmers will be breathing a huge sigh of relief with Fonterra’s benchmark forecast payout for 2014/15 being held at $6 per kilogram of Milk Solids (kg/MS), while other aspects of the announcement are a great boost of confidence in New Zealand agribusiness.

“This is as far from milk and disaster as the moon is,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“While this season remains a super trim one last season was definitely a silver top one.

“The milk price hold is good news given there’s been widespread speculation about it sliding below the $6 mark, however, we’re not out of the woods yet. We still advise farmers to err on the side of caution by budgeting in the mid-$5 payout range. . .

Major boost for Otago conservation projects:

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner today announced $475,000 in funding for four Otago conservation projects.

Community Conservation Partnership Fund grants will be made to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Landscape Connections Trust, Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group, and Herbert Heritage Group.

“The projects these groups are advancing align perfectly with the Department of Conservation’s goals of connecting more urban dwellers to conservation and working in partnership with others.

“The Orokonui Ecosanctuary is recognised as the flagship biodiversity project in the South Island and is achieving its aim of restoring the coastal ecosystem to pre-human state. . .

The long arm of health and safety gets longer – Andrew McGiven:

We’ve all heard about the Marlborough farmworker copping $15,000 worth of fines related to a quad bike.  Helmet use is in the Department of Labour’s (now Worksafe NZ) ‘Guidelines for the safe use of quad bikes.’  . 

While there’s been plenty of discussion about the fine what has slipped under the radar are other recommendations in the guide.  One is recognising dangerous areas on-farm and establishing ‘no-go’ zones in your health and safety plans. 

Another case, highlighted for us by Neil Beadle, a Partner at Federated Farmers’ legal advisors DLA Phillips Fox, rams home the bite of these recommended ‘no-go’ zones.  It involved a Mangakino sharemilker with an otherwise good record who tragically lost a farm worker when their quad bike flipped.  . . .

Beet crop ‘revolution for beef farmers’:

The growth in the use of fodder beet as a forage crop in the beef industry has been so rapid, that seed supplies for the coming growing season are expected to run out.

That is the prediction from Dr Jim Gibbs, a senior lecturer in livestock health and production at Lincoln University, who has done years of research on feeding cattle on what has become a revolutionary crop in this country.

Fodder beet is a bulb crop related to beetroot but can grow to huge sizes.

Dr Gibbs’ work was initially for the dairy industry, but the demand for fodder beet really exploded when he introduced it to the beef industry, and he says it has become the fastest growing forage crop by a long shot. . . .


Rural round-up

August 15, 2014

Commission releases draft report on 2013/14 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2013/14 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year as part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act’s milk price monitoring regime. The review assesses if Fonterra’s calculation approach provides incentives for it to operate efficiently and provides for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk.

The scope of the Commission’s review is only to look at the base milk price, not the retail price that consumers pay for processed milk. . . .

 

Fonterra’s farmgate milk price out of step with efficiency – Pattrick Smellie:

 (BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission says Fonterra Cooperative Group’s decision to cut the last season’s forecast payout to farmer shareholders by 55 cents per kilogram of milksolids below the result produced by its Farm Gate Milk Price calculation is not consistent with the milk price regime’s intention to make Fonterra operate efficiently.

However, it says the decision – the first ever taken to vary the payout from the calculated level since the Farm Gate Milk Price regime came into force in 2009 – was consistent with ensuring competitive provision of milk to alternative suppliers, the commission concluded in its annual review of the regime.

Under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, which allowed a merger to create Fonterra despite creating a dominant local market player, the commission must monitor how Fonterra sets the price it pays farmers for milk as part of efforts to ensure it’s possible for local dairy market competitors, such as Synlait or Westland Milk, to emerge.

Under the monitoring and reporting regime, the commission has no ability to force any change on Fonterra. . .

 

Latest dairy farm visits reveal poor record keeping:

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate has released the results of the third phase of its national dairy strategy, which involved visits to farms that employ migrant workers.

The findings show that while no exploitative conduct was found, a quarter of the farms visited were in breach of employment laws for poor record keeping.

Senior Labour Inspector Kris Metcalf says the visits were part of a long-term operation to check compliance with minimum employment obligations at dairy farms across the country.

“The majority of the 42 dairy farms visited in this phase were meeting minimum employment standards,” says Kris Metcalf.

“However, 11 farms were found to be in breach of their minimum employment obligations which is disappointing. . .

Government migrant dairy worker survey highlights procedure hole:

Following the third phase of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) dairy strategy, focussed on migrant workers, Federated Farmers knows a sizable minority of farmers still need to meet basic employment law and the Federation is offering to help.

“The latest information from MBIE shows that there has been a significant improvement in the performance of dairy farmers, but far too many are failing to take accurate time sheets seriously enough,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Employment Spokesperson.

“We are pleased MBIE inspectors did not find any exploitative behaviour of migrant workers on the 42 farms they visited. That said we’ve still got a bit of work to do with our guys on record keeping and basic employment practices. . . .

Softening the dairy blow:

• NZ dollar is under pressure
• Interest rate predictions delayed
• Meat sector outlook remains bullish

While eleven of the last twelve dairy auctions have recorded price falls, the sheer magnitude of the falls is bringing other factors in to play, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“With dairy prices down by 37 percent on a year ago, the NZD has finally come under some pressure” says Nathan Penny, ASB Rural Economist.

“The NZD has passed its peak. We expect the NZD to trade at around 85 US cents for the rest of the year.”

“The dairy price falls are also a major reason why we’ve pushed back our interest rate call.” ASB Economics now expects the next OCR increase in March 2014 rather than their previous call for a December 2014 hike. . .

 

Working group for dairy processing sector:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced the establishment of a working group to develop a ‘roadmap’ on how to meet the future capability needs of the dairy processing sector.

“This was a recommendation of the independent Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident last year. It found that our food safety regulatory model for dairy is among the best in the world, but also recommended improving people capability to strengthen the food safety system.

“The inquiry highlighted the shortage of experienced people with processing expertise across the industry’s regulatory sector, and at all levels of the system. . .

 Does Australia want to compete? – Jo Bills :

Recently the Business Council of Australia released a report it commissioned from McKinsey & Co – Compete to Prosper: Improving Australia’s global competitiveness.

It was fascinating reading – taking a helicopter view of the Australian economy and the global competitiveness of industry sectors.

Most of us probably regard Australia as a trading nation, but the McKinsey analysis highlights the fact that our economy remains quite inwardly focussed – while we are the world’s 12th largest economy, we rank 21st in terms of global trade – well behind some that you might assume we should be ahead of.

As part of the study, the McKinsey number-crunchers developed a Relative Competitiveness Score, applied it to all sectors of the Australian economy and found that only one sector – agriculture – stood out as truly competitive. . .

Boost for wilding tree control in Waimakariri:

A group of volunteers dedicated to clearing wilding trees around Flock Hill in upper Waimakariri is to receive a major funding boost, Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner announced today.

Waimakariri Ecological and Landscape Restoration Alliance will receive $309,000 over the next three years from the Department of Conservation’s Community Conservation Partnership Fund.

“Wilding trees are now the most significant threat to biodiversity and infrastructure in the 60,000 hectares of public and privately owned lands in the upper Waimakariri Basin. . .

Forest contractors welcome WorkSafe submission:

Today the government’s safety agency for forestry, WorkSafe NZ, has publicly released its submission to the panel of the Independent Forest Safety Review. The Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA), the industry group that originally initiated the review, has welcomed the comments from the regulator.

“We’re pleased that some vital issues have been highlighted by Gordon MacDonald’s WorkSafe NZ team,” says spokesman John Stulen of the Forest Industry Contractors Association, “They’ve made some very practical observations vital to making change in our industry.”

Stulen says WorkSafe NZ has been open and frank in their criticism of some shortcomings, yet has also been constructive at the same time. . .

Feed Partnership Set to Shake Up South Island Mag Regime:

South Island dairy farmers can now reap the rewards of a revolutionary new Magnesium product, which is transforming Magnesium use in dairying.

Animal feed ingredient supplier, BEC Feed Solutions, is partnering with South Island animal feed manufacturer and blender, James & Son (NZ) Pty Ltd, to give the region’s dairy farmers convenient access to its Bolifor® MGP+ product.

Bolifor® MGP+ is a unique alternative to messy pasture dusting and laborious daily drenching, and contains the essential minerals Magnesium and Phosphorus in the one product. It’s anticipated thatBolifor® MGP+ will be well received in the South Island, given that farmers, vets and animal nutritionists are observing an increase in Phosphorus deficiency due to the region’s dependency on fodder beet crops and changing land use. . .


Rural round-up

August 14, 2014

Whitebaiters urged to fish responsibly:

New Zealanders are being urged to keep their love of whitebait in check when the season begins or risk a $5000 fine.

The official whitebaiting season runs from mid August to the end of November, except for the South Island’s west coast which goes from September to mid November.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says fishers need to stick to the regulations in place which are designed to protect the fishery’s juveniles.

Conservation grants for two west Coast groups:

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner today announced Conservation Volunteers New Zealand and West Coast branch of Forest and Bird have been awarded Community Conservation Partnership Fund grants.

Conservation Volunteers, which is a not for profit charitable entity, has been awarded $195,000 for a coastal amenities engagement programme.  It aims to develop community engagement in projects in Buller and Grey Districts.

“The grant, which will be spread over two years, will allow an engagement officer to be employed to encourage and manage community participation in critical conservation tasks on project sites at Punakaiki, Westport, Greymouth, Hokitika and Cobden Aromahana Sanctuary,” Ms Wagner says. . .

Fonterra and CSIRO Join Forces to Drive Sustainable Dairy Innovation:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd. has signed a five-year strategic agreement with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to drive innovation in sustainable farming, manufacturing, health, nutrition and consumer dairy products.

The agreement will see CSIRO applying its expertise to the co-operative’s global dairy chain using its broad range of industrial know-how and scientific capability in remote sensing, resource engineering, ecosystem, food and water to help propel Fonterra’s V3 strategy.

Fonterra Chief Technology Officer Dr Jeremy Hill said, “We intend our partnership with CSIRO to develop a range of solutions to address Fonterra’s science and technology needs.” . . .

Fonterra in Australian research deal:

Fonterra says it’s not turning its back on New Zealand research organisations in an agreement it’s just signed with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, CSIRO.

The five-year strategic agreement will cover research ranging from herd productivity, effluent management and milk quality, to processing and analytical technology, food design and consumer health.

Fonterra’s chief technology officer Dr Jeremy Hill was quick to point out that it would complement rather than compete with the work the dairy co-operative was doing with New Zealand research providers.

“CSIRO’s an extremely broad and diverse organisation, so it has science and technology capbilities in agriculture and food, but also in such areas as mining,(and) information technology,” said Dr Hill. . .

Companies collaborate in China:

Six New Zealand primary industry companies have formed a new collaboration to ease entry into the China market.

Primary Collaboration New Zealand Limited has established a China services company (ServeCo) as a wholly foreign owned enterprise (WFOE) in Shanghai to provide ‘in-market’ services. The collaboration stems from the inaugural New Zealand Primary Sector Bootcamp held by industry CEOs and government agency leaders at Stanford University in 2012.

The collaboration will initially involve Sealord, Silver Fern Farms, Synlait Milk, Villa Maria Estate, Kono and Pacific Pace (a collaboration between Hawke’s Bay horticulture businesses Mr Apple, CrasbornGroup and J M Bostock Group). . .

Livestock numbers forecast shows little change – unlikely to achieve MPI’s optimistic revenue forecasts – Allan Barber:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service’s latest stock numbers survey shows only minor changes in next season’s predicted volumes. However total sheep numbers are estimated to fall below 30 million for the first time.

A small increase in lamb numbers is forecast as a result of a better lambing percentage, although this still depends on a normal spring, especially in the main sheep breeding areas of the East Coast, lower North Island, and the South Island. The total sheep flock declined by 3.2% or nearly 1 million sheep. However the drop in the number of breeding ewes was only 1.4%, whereas hogget numbers were down 750,000.

The decline was more pronounced in the South Island because of continuing land use change from Canterbury to Southland; in the North Island the drought conditions in Northland had the main impact, while the rest of the island was relatively stable. The fall in the number of hoggets retained compared with the previous year poses a further threat to breeding ewe numbers for the following season. . .

DairyNZ reshapes senior roles:

DairyNZ has appointed David McCall to a new role of general manager of research and development as part of a plan to more closely integrate its research work with the products, tools, resources and services developed for farmers.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the change will see DairyNZ’s research and development teams merge into one new group from this month. The new appointment follows last month’s retirement of DairyNZ’s chief scientist, Dr Eric Hillerton.

“It is timely with Eric leaving to re-think the role of the research leadership position. We also have a new industry strategy with some ambitious targets and we need to think about how to organise ourselves to best deliver those for farmers. I’m keen to see greater integration because one of the dairy industry’s key strategic objectives is to research and develop innovative technologies and solutions to meet the current and future needs of dairy farms. . .

Tongues And Cheeks Among the Best:

What do water buffalo, pig’s cheeks and hare’s legs have in common? They’re all key ingredients in the dishes that have made the cut in the Monteith’s Wild Food Challenge.

After a month long feast, daring New Zealanders have voted for their favourite wild dish and together with a panel of judges, have selected 12 finalists in the Monteith’s Wild Food challenge. Expert judges have travelled the length of New Zealand, tried 122 dishes and pushed their palates to new levels in the hunt for the finest feast and the best flavourable Monteith’s companion.

“I’ve seen many innovations since the inception of the Challenge 17 years ago and am always surprised and delighted by the combinations of Monteith’s and wild foods created by talented New Zealand chefs,” says Head Judge Kerry Tyack. . . .

This almost made me cry laughing. I'm sure not a ton of people will agree, but those that do ... high five!!!!!! And Props to the person that stopped to take the picture and took the time to post it! I <3 farmers !!!


#statsfacts

July 4, 2014


Stat of the day

July 3, 2014


Next census target 70% online

May 20, 2014

Statistics Minister Nicky Wagner has announced that a new internet first model will transform how the next census is delivered and collected, and will increase the use of administrative data.

“The 2018 Census will have a target of 70 per cent of forms completed online, a workforce half the 7,500 used in 2013, and investment in systems and processes that support a future model that further utilises administrative data.

“A modernised census will deliver more timely and relevant data, which is important for regions that are changing rapidly and it will help inform decisions on how billions of dollars of government funding is spent.

“Modernising what was a dated model is also consistent with, and will contribute to, the government’s ICT Strategy, Better Public Services and the New Zealand Geospatial Strategy. . .

A trial was carried out in Oamaru with last year’s census to encourage people to fill in their forms online, although they could request paper versions which were delivered and collected.

About 65% of people used the online option which was nearly double the national rate.

This shows the online version was more convenient for the majority.

It shouldn’t take much to encourage most people to use the electronic version and it will result in a considerable saving in time and money.

 


Wagner new minister

May 5, 2014

Nicky Wagner is to become a Minister outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister John Key has today reallocated the portfolios made vacant by the resignation of Maurice Williamson as a Minister.

Christchurch Central MP, Nicky Wagner, will be made a Minister outside Cabinet and take on the portfolios of Customs, Statistics, Associate Conservation, and Associate Canterbury Earthquake Recovery.

“Nicky has been an MP since 2005, and has done a great job in Christchurch and in chairing the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

“As a Minister I expect she will treat her new portfolios with the same hard work and enthusiasm.”

In other changes, Nick Smith will take on the Building and Construction portfolio, and Michael Woodhouse will take on Land Information.

“I would like to thank them for taking on the extra responsibilities,” says Mr Key.

The Governor General will swear in Nicky Wagner on Wednesday 7 May. . .

Nicky won the Christchurch Central seat at the last election after serving two terms as a list MP and is currently a parliamentary Private Secretary.


Electorate boundaries finalised

April 17, 2014

Electorate boundaries have been finalised with changes to 46 seats.

The Electoral Act 1993 imposes strict electoral population limits binding on the Commission.  These provide an overall constraint to ensure that there are approximately equal numbers of people in each electorate so that they have equality of representation in Parliament.  All electorates must contain electoral populations varying not more than ±5% from the following quotas which are calculated in accordance with the Act:

  Quota ±5% Allowance
North Island General Electorates 59,731 ±2,986
South Island General Electorates 59,679 ±2,983
Māori Electorates  60,141 ±3,007

There’s an interactive map of old and new boundaries here.

Jadis, guest blogging at Kiwiblog has winners and losers:

Winners:

, Auckland Central – Having won and held Auckland Central by less than a thousand votes in 08 and 11 Nikki will be overjoyed to see ALL of Grey Lynn move into Mount Albert. . . .

, Christchurch Central – I am really pleased for Nicky as she was gutted when the provisional boundaries came out as they made it a strong red seat. . .

, Hamilton West – Hamilton is unique as it is the only urban centre held by the Nats .  Similar boundaries to the provisionals means that by crossing the river MacIndoe has gained some strong blue areas in a high growth zone.  . .

, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country. . .

Losers:

Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Dyson is the biggest loser in this boundary review.  Her majority has been reversed with the Nats stronghold of Halswell moving into the seat, and Anderton’s old stomping ground of Sydenham moving into Christchurch Central. . .

, Hutt South – This is the surprise of the final boundaries.  Mallard has gained all of the  Western Hills (good Nat territory) and lost super red areas of Naenae and Rimutaka. Labour should have been able to stop this occurring but appear to have put up no fight.  Mallard should be furious with his party for failing to keep Hutt South a real red seat. . . .

, Maungakiekie – Labour were grumpy in 2008 when Sam took one of ‘their’ red seats in Maungakiekie, so they will no doubt be pleased that the blue booths have almost all been taken out of Maungakiekie.  Beaumont would be silly to think her win is a foregone conclusion as Sam will throw everything into his beloved electorate and is able to cross party divides for electorate support.  This seat is too close to call.  Another true marginal.

It looks like National has gained more and lost less than Labour which could well end up with fewer electorates than it has now.

Does this mean Labour, having failed to get its dead wood to go voluntarily is prepared to lose seats in the hope of renewal in three year’s time?

Or is it just another sign the party can’t get its act together?

 


%d bloggers like this: