Rural round-up

28/06/2022

Farmers start new dairy season on an encouraging note as Fonterra signals another record milk price – Point of Order:

New  Zealand’s  dairy  industry, which is  proving  again it is  the  backbone of  the  country’s  export industries, has  been  given  fresh encouragement with the big  co-op Fonterra signalling  a  record  milk price for  the  season  that  has  just  opened.

It  comes  as the  payout  for  the  just-finished  season  stands  as  the  highest  since  the  co-op  was  formed in 2001.

So although farmers have  made  decisions for  this  season on  the  number  of  cows  they  are  milking,  they  have the  incentive  to go  hard on production  levels,  despite the  pressure  from  higher  costs  and worries  over climate changes measures, including  projected charges on emissions.

Fonterra’s buoyant  forecast contrasts with  a recent  report  by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank  which  said that despite global milk production looking set to decrease for the fourth consecutive quarter in Q2 2022, weakening global demand is expected to create a scenario that will see moderate price declines in dairy commodities during the second half of the year. . . 

How we are suckling the sheep milk industry government invests $7.97m in partnership which involves state-owned Landcorp – Point of Order:

Damien O’Connor scored twice – he issued one statement as Minister of Trade and another as Minister of Agriculture – while rookie Emergency Relief Minister Kieran McNulty broke his duck, announcing flood relief for the West Coast.

Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall put more runs on the board, too, with a statement about Government work to combat new and more dangerous variants of COVID-19.

In his trade job, O’Connor declared he was pleased with the quick progress of the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill that was introduced to the House yesterday.

It would  enable New Zealand to implement its obligations under the FTA and was necessary to bring the FTA into force, he explained. . . 

 

Kiwifruit sector forecasts drop in profits :

The kiwifruit sector is predicting lower profits this year, as yields drop and shipping costs continue to climb.

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri has sent out an update to growers which shows a decent drop in profit is expected this year.

Last year Zespri made a record $361.5 million, but this year that is expected to drop to between $227m and $247m.

Company spokesperson Carol Ward said it had been a difficult season. . . 

Have your say on the Forests Legal harvest Assurance Amendment Bill :

The Chairperson of the Primary Production Committee is now calling for public submissions on the Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill.

The bill would amend the Forests Act 1949 to establish a legal harvest system. This system aims to provide assurance that timber supplied and traded has been harvested legally. The legal harvest system would:

· require that log traders, primary processors, importers, and exporters who operate above specified thresholds to be registered

· require harvest information to be supplied to others when trading, and for records of that information to be kept . . 

Groundspread NZ is the new public face for the New Zealand groundspread fetilisers association :

Groundspread NZ (NZGFA) was established in 1956 to promote and protect the interests of both individuals and companies involved in the groundspread fertiliser industry. The Association is made up of 110 voluntary members from throughout New Zealand, with each member committed to promoting best practice fertiliser placement. Precision placement of fertiliser requires skilled operators, sound spreading equipment and appropriate fertilisers.

Groundspreaders are typically the first step in ensuring on-farm productivity, by spreading nutrients accurately and evenly, using the latest technology, finely calibrated vehicles, and highly trained operators, groundspreaders help farmers and growers get the best out of their nutrient spend. The skill involved in groundspreading means that food production in New Zealand gets the best start possible.

The new name and website better share the story of how the Association’s members contribute to on-farm performance. The new name and website are initiatives driven by the Association’s new and ambitious strategic plan, committed to ensuring best practice in the groundspread industry. Farmers and growers can now visit www.groundspreadnz.com to find a spreader in their area, learn more about how the Association supports members to operate at the high level that they do, and learn more about the Spreadmark scheme.

Spreadmark, established by Groundspread NZ (NZGFA) in 1994, was born from a commitment by the Association’s members to improve spreader performance and outcomes for their clients and the environment. Proper placement of fertiliser is of considerable agronomic benefit to farmers and growers and helps protect the environment from the undesirable side effects of poor fertiliser spreading practices. . . 

Greenfern industries attains important industry certification :

Greenfern Industries Limited (GFI:NZX) is pleased to announce it has attained its globally-recognised GACP (Good Agriculture and Collection Practice) certification for its cultivation facility based in Normanby, Taranaki.

“This is a milestone that the team has been working towards for some time since commencing cultivation and research and development in our pilot stage one facility,” said Greenfern’s managing director Dan Casey.

GACP guidelines were developed to create a single supranational framework to ensure appropriate and consistent quality in the cultivation and production of medicinal plant and herbal substances. They were developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 with the aim of improving the quality of medicinal plants being used in herbal medicines in the commercial market.

Greenfern’s certification was undertaken by Control Union Medicinal Cannabis Standards (CUMCS). Control Union Israel was one of the partners which formulated the Israeli Cannabis Standard, which is a global standard. Since then, they have been involved with the development of the Medical Cannabis Standard GAP. . . 


Rural round-up

21/06/2022

Climate change farming and a timely reminder for decision makers the Paris conventions nod to the need for food – Point of Order:

An earlier post  on Point  of  Order about farming and climate change attracted  some interesting  comments.  The  post  itself  contended  that in view of the world  facing  a  global food  shortage the government  should be  doing everything in its power  to lift  food production — and  not  imposing  taxes  on methane  emissions (in  other words  taxing the   burps on animals}.

In the  wake  of  posting our thoughts, Point of  Order  was reminded  that the  Paris  Convention on Climate  Change  in  2015 finished  with an agreement   where Article 2  read with these  key  lines:

Article 2
1. This Agreement, in enhancing the implementation of the Convention,
including its objective, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of
climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by :

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate
change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions
development, in a manner that does not threaten food production. . . 

Massive unjust counter-productive land grab by government :

The latest iteration of the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) is a massive land grab on a scale not seen in New Zealand for 140 years, Groundswell NZ spokesman Jamie McFadden says.

“This policy, as drafted, turns biodiversity into a liability and penalizes those that have done the most in looking after the environment.”

“Under this policy, the more you do to look after nature on your land, the worse off you will be. It is punitive regulation that does nothing positive for the environment.”

“Tens of thousands of both urban and rural property owners will be impacted and millions of dollars will be collectively wiped off property values.” . .

Ag holding strong despite major challenges :

New Zealand is a trading nation. We are respected by the world and the best at what we do.

Despite a pandemic, disruption to global supply chains, rapidly rising inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a lack of RSE workers, our food and fibre exports have outperformed expectations. In fact, by June 30, they will have brought in $52.2 billion in revenue.

I recently returned from a Parliamentary trip to Europe. Zoom is a wonderful invention, but nothing can beat sitting at a table face-to-face with farming representatives to discover areas of collaboration and where we differ.

With the Russian/Ukrainian situation, food and energy security were to the fore, given Ukraine is Europe’s second-largest supplier of corn and wheat to the European Union, as well as countries in Asia and Africa. Growers and their lands will take a long time to recover from the devastating assault they are being subjected to. . . 

Time to build on our competitive advantage, KPMG says – Hugh Stringleman:

The primary sector is doing a remarkable job of trading, growing and keeping delivering record returns to the New Zealand economy when such returns are so desperately needed.

But this year’s KPMG Agribusiness Agenda reports a sector that is muddled, opportunity-packed and risk-burdened, global head of agribusiness and author Ian Proudfoot says.

When interviewing agribusiness leaders this year the first comment was “now, where do we start?”

No single theme or trend stood out in the interviews, unlike past years. . . 

Farming sector touts emissions reducing technology amid He Waka Eke Noa criticism – Hamish Cardwell:

The agricultural sector says big strides have been made in research to reduce climate emissions, but considerable uncertainty remains about when the technology will actually be available for farmers.

The primary sector’s proposal He Waka Eke Noa to price its emissions was  criticised by climate activists for relying far too much on unproven technology to make cuts.

Meanwhile, farmer group Groundswell – which also hates the proposal – says after decades and millions of dollars spent there is still no mitigation technology on the market.

Industry leaders have told RNZ about what tech looked promising, what the challenges were and how long farmers would have to wait. . .

Predator Free 2050 Ltd announces $4.8m for new tech and new jobs :

Thanks to funding from the Government’s Jobs for Nature Mahi mō te Taiao programme, Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050 Ltd) has today announced $4.8 million in funding for seven companies developing predator eradication tools and ‘best practice’ for their use, while creating and supporting jobs.

The funding is being invested through the ‘ Products to Projects’ initiative, launched in 2019 to accelerate development and commercialisation of new tools that will help groups working to achieve mainland eradication of possums, rats and mustelids at landscape scale without the use of fences.

Now, three years on, a number of new tools are already available to buy and are successfully in use, with many more only months away. PF2050 Ltd Science Director Professor Dan Tompkins said it’s crucial to be continually innovating to get New Zealand to the 2050 national eradication goals at pace.

“Products to Projects is providing options for more efficient and cost-effective ways of achieving and maintaining predator eradication. These new investments include smart self-resetting kill-traps that use A.I. to prevent non-target species from being harmed, remote reporting of both live-captures in cage-traps and bait levels in bait-stations, new ways of targeting rats and stoats, and systems to use ‘SWARM’ satellites for device communications in remote regions,” Prof Tompkins said. . . 


Rural round-up

15/06/2022

Impeding food production with taxes on emissions is a bad idea when the world is tipping towards mass hunger – Point of Order:

As the war in  the Ukraine drags  on, the  international   food  crisis  is  deepening. The  Economist put it  simply but grimly:

“The war is tipping a  fragile  world towards  mass  hunger. Fixing that is  everyone’s  business”.

So  shouldn’t  the  New Zealand Government   be  exhorting  farmers to  go  all out to produce  as  much  as  they  can   for  this  country  to be  lifting  its  food  exports?  Is   this  the  time   for  the  government  to be erecting  new  hurdles to impede the  production  of  food?  Shouldn’t  it  delay  the  plan  to tax methane emissions for  at  least  12  months? 

Let’s look  at what  The  Economist further said:

“The  war is  battering a  global food  system weakened   by  Covid-19, climate  change,  and  an energy  shock.  Ukraine’s exports of grain and oilseeds have mostly stopped and Russia’s are threatened. . . 

How our feta cheese should be tied to a farm emissions deal – Macaulay Jones:

The primary sector has delivered its He Waka Eke Noa emissions pricing recommendation report to ministers. Now it’s time for the Government to deliver on their end of the bargain.

In a 2020 public webinar hosted by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, titled “Setting the direction: Towards a low-emissions future”, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor spoke about the need for agricultural emissions pricing to enhance our chances of good free trade agreements.

“In negotiating a trade agreement with the EU, and with the UK, both of those places are very proud of their efforts around climate change and emissions reduction,” O’Connor said.

“If we can say we’ve included agriculture [in the Emissions Trading Scheme], that gives us momentum when it comes to negotiating that market agreement and so don’t underestimate the positives of this. While there may be some… adjustments that are needed I think we could innovate our way through that.”  . . .

 

South Island Farmers embrace a dynamic future :

Over 420 dairy farmers gathered in Oamaru last week for SIDE 2022, with a focus on building skills and discussing solutions to challenges facing the farming sector.

The SIDE theme was dynamic and event chair Anna Wakelin opened the event by saying that farmers across New Zealand are taking control of their futures and standing up for positive change.

“We’re on the right track. It’s tough, but we can be proud of our low carbon footprint, our innovation and progress, and our work which supports communities through the bad times and the good.

“It’s staggering that just 11,000 dairy farms contribute almost $2 billion to New Zealand’s economy,” she added. . . 

Silver Fern Farms secures industry-leading sustainability linked financing :

Silver Fern Farms Ltd today announced the company has entered into one of New Zealand’s largest sustainability-linked working capital financing facilities (SL Financing).

At $320 million (NZD) the SL Financing has been carefully tailored to the challenges faced by the red meat industry, and will further enable Silver Fern Farms to grow while delivering on the company’s transformative sustainability agenda.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive, Simon Limmer said the country’s largest red meat company is committed to leading food system-change and supporting a just transition to a low carbon economy.

“Our commitment, and follow-through, on sustainability issues is a key way we’re making sure we do the right thing by our customers who increasingly want their red meat sustainably produced and processed. . .

Innovative Pāmu deer milk product finalist in prestigious global awards :

Pāmu’s awarding winning Deer Milk is up for two prestigious awards at the World Dairy Innovation Awards, to be announced in Laval, France on 15 June.

Pāmu Deer Milk is a finalist in the Best Dairy Ingredient category, while its new Doe Nutrition product is a finalist in the Best Functional Dairy section.

Pāmu Chief Executive Mark Leslie says being a finalist in these prestigious awards is a validation of the hard work that has gone into creating an all-new product for the agri-sector.

“Our deer milk product has been steadily growing in popularity among high end chefs and as a unique new ingredient in cosmetics, currently sold exclusively through the Yuhan New Origin stores in Korea. These nominations recognise the extensive application and unique properties of deer milk.” . . .

 

Digital Dairy Chain launches in Dumfries – Gordon Davidson:

South-West Scotland and Cumbria are about to become a ‘magnet’ for hi-tech dairy production – or at least, that is the hope of the newly launched Digital Dairy Chain project.

The £21 million venture was officially launched this week near Dumfries. Led by Scotland’s Rural College from its B arony campus, it will see partners across South-West Scotland and Cumbria focussing on developing a fully integrated and traceable dairy supply chain, bringing about an economic transformation that will, its architects believe, eventually lead to the creation of more than 600 jobs and generate £60m a year of additional value. . . 


Rural round-up

07/06/2022

Why this is not the time for government to be heaping regulatory costs on farmers and requiring a culling of the dairy herd – Point of Order:

On-farm inflation is at its highest level in almost 40 years, according to Beef + Lamb NZ’s Economic Service, and costs are expected to increase.  Meanwhile Federated  Farmers  says farmers’ satisfaction with their banks is relatively stable but more are feeling under pressure and the costs of finance are rising.

“Inflation is putting many New Zealanders and businesses under pressure, and our food producers are no different,” Feds President and economic spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

While Consumer Price Index (CPI) data has the annual inflation rate at 6.9%, the latest on-farm inflation rate has hit 10.2%  – the highest it’s been since 1985-86 (13.2%).

B+LNZ is concerned increasing regulatory requirements from the Government, such as freshwater and biodiversity rules, will stretch farmers even further. . . 

Another solid season looms – Rural News:

 Given what’s happening around the world, New Zealand dairy farmers are on to a pretty good thing with its internationally envied farming system.

A record milk price this season and another solid opening forecast for the new season bodes well for farmers’ income.

Dairy demand is still quite strong and supply remains constrained globally, especially in the US and Europe.

However, there are some short-term challenges: Covid, China’s most recent lockdowns and the unrest in Sri Lanka – a key market for Fonterra milk powder. . .

Tough conditions produce good stock – Shawn McAvinue:

Extreme weather conditions on a high-country station in the Maniototo allow for the best breeding of Charolais cattle in the country, Glen Ayr Station manager Drew Dundass says.

“The cream rises to the top.”

More than 80 people attended the 28th annual Taiaroa & Cotswold Charolais Bull Sale on Glen Ayr Station in Paerau Valley last week.

Of the 28 bulls on offer, 26 sold for an average of $6392, and the top price was $11,500. . . 

Queen’s Birthday honours unofficial mayor of Tarata gets official – Ilona Hanne:

He’s the unofficial mayor of Tarata, and now Bryan Hocken is officially a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

Bryan was made an MNZM in the Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours List 2022, for services to agriculture and the rural community.

Announced on Monday, June 6, it’s an honour he describes as having left him “blown away”.

“I wasn’t expecting it. When I saw the email telling me, I just couldn’t believe it.” . . 

Tea Estate back on the boil – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand’s only tea farm is back on the boil.

The 48ha Zealong Tea Estate, near Hamilton, is preparing to welcome back local and international visitors after a two-year hiatus.

Home to 1.2 million tea plants, Zealong is the world’s largest internationally certified organic tea estate. It has a philosophy of enhancing the soil quality using carefully managed organic farm practices.

General manager Sen Kong says the company is excited to start welcoming visitors back after a challenging two years. . . 

RSPCA state New Zealand is judged to have higher welfare than UK – John Sleigh:

Flying largely in the face of what is perceived in the UK, New Zealand is the one country globally that can be judged to have better farm animal welfare standards than the UK – that’s according to animal protection body, the RSCPA.

Animal welfare has been put in the spotlight as the UK and New Zealand thrash out a potential Free Trade Agreement, where it is proposed traded food products must be produced to similar standards. UK opponents have been using the welfare issue as a potential block, citing better standards in the UK.

However, when giving evidence to Westminster’s International Agreements Committee, the RSCPA stated: “New Zealand is the only country with whom the UK is negotiating a Free Trade Agreement where there is broad equivalence on animal welfare standards. In some areas, New Zealand’s farm standards are above the UK’s.”

The RSPCA lists non-stun slaughter, increased lameness in sheep, legal live exports and poorer access to the outdoors for dairy cattle as areas where the UK lags behind on welfare. Whilst in other areas, the charity stated that the UK was ahead of New Zealand with our ban on sow stalls, more free range hens and henhouse cleanliness rules. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/05/2022

Fonterra announces record opening milk price payment for its farmers next season as demand remains strong – Point of Order:

New Zealand  has  suffered  several  jolts  in  the  past week, not  least a  higher interest rate regime as the Reserve  Bank counters  surging inflation.  But  at least  one  beacon of  light shines through the gloom:  the country’s leading primary  export  industry’s boom   is  moving  to a  second  season  of high prices.

Dairy  giant Fonterra,  which sets  the  pace  for  other dairy processors,  has announced a record opening milk price payment for farmers next season amid expectations of continued strong demand for dairy products and constrained global supply.

The co-op expects to pay farmers between $8.25 and $9.75kg/MS  for the season starting next month.  The mid-point, on which farmers are paid, is $9 kg/MS.

That breaks the previous record set at this time last year, when Fonterra’s opening price for the current season was $7.25 – $8.75kg/MS, with a mid-point of $8kg/MS. . . 

Rural mental health ignored again this budget :

The Government was made well aware of mental health concerns for rural communities in a meeting in December last year, this Budget has neglected to do anything to address this crisis, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“It is dead clear from the minutes we received under the Official Information Act that everyone around the table could see that things were bad and getting worse” Kuriger says

“The minutes note that clear themes emerged from a discussion of the drivers of poor mental health, including: workforce shortages, public perception of farmers, and the pace of new regulations.

“If they didn’t already know, it is clear that in December the Prime Minister and Minister O’Connor knew what was happening to our rural communities and were asked by rural sector leaders for help, they’ve had all this time to make a plan but have still done nothing in this budget to address it. . . 

Zespri global revenue exceeds $NZ 4 billion for first time despite challenging 2021-22 season:

. . . A record crop, ongoing investment in brand-led demand creation, and the industry’s ability to respond and leverage its scale and structure have helped Zespri deliver a record result for the 2021/22 season, with total global fruit sales revenue exceeding NZ$4 billion for the first time.

In spite of the immense challenges faced by the industry this season, Zespri’s 2021/22 Financial Results show total global revenue generated by fruit sales reached NZ$4.03 billion, up 12 percent on the previous year, with total global operating revenue up by 15 percent to NZ$4.47 billion. Global sales volumes also increased 11 percent on the previous year to 201.5 million trays.

The results saw direct returns to the New Zealand industry increase to a record $2.47 billion including loyalty payments, despite the considerable uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and cost increases across the supply chain. Earnings were again spread through regional communities including within the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Nelson, Gisborne, and the Waikato. . . 

Grower returns remained strong in a challenging season, with per hectare returns representing our second best on record across all varieties: . . 

Top ploughers head to Ireland to compete in world championship – Kim Moodie:

New Zealand’s best ploughing talent is set to represent the country in Ireland this year at the World Ploughing Championships. 

Ian Woolley and Bob Mehrtens, who took out the top titles at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Seddon earlier this month, are now preparing to compete against the world’s best in September.

Woolley, who won the Silver Plough conventional competition, told RNZ he’s excited to compete, and to soak up the atmosphere, as the event draws a huge crowd.

“It’s basically their National Field Days, there’s 100,000-odd people there each day for three days, although the plowing is on the outskirts of where the main show is taking place. . . 

Silver Fern Farms partnership between consumers and farmers key to nature positive food production :

Silver Fern Farms today celebrated the launch of its USDA-approved Net Carbon Zero By Nature 100% Grass-Fed Angus Beef at a New York City event attended by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Held at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi rooftop in Chelsea, the Prime Minister was joined by the visiting New Zealand trade mission, Silver Fern Farms US customers and in-market partners, and New York and U.S. national media. The event was to celebrate the successful introduction of Net Carbon Zero By Nature Angus Beef to the U.S., which is already being sold in supermarkets in the New York Tri-state area, the Midwest, and California.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says closer partnerships between consumers and farmers through products like Net Carbon Zero beef hold the key to addressing our collective climate and environmental challenges.

“As New Zealand’s largest processor and marketer of red meat, we are in a unique position to build closer partnerships between the needs of discerning customers and our farmers in a way that incentivises nature-positive food production,” says Simon Limmer. . . 

MPI announces finalists in 2022 good employer awards :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) have announced finalists for the 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards.

Now in their third year, the Awards are run by MPI and AGMARDT to celebrate employers who put their people at the heart of their businesses.

“We received a number of impressive entries,” says MPI’s Director Investment, Skills and Performance, Cheyne Gillooly.

“Central to all of the entries was a real passion shown by businesses towards supporting their employees by putting their health, welfare and wellbeing first.” . . 


Rural round-up

26/05/2022

Meat industry celebrates 140 years since first frozen shipment to the UK – Sally Murphy:

Celebrations are taking place today to mark 140 years since the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb landed in the UK.

The idea of William Davidson the British-based general manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company – the first shipment saw 5000 lamb carcasses from Totara Estate near Oamaru sent by rail to Port Chalmers before being loaded onto The Dunedin.

The old passenger ship had been fitted out with a coal-powered Bell Coleman freezing plant.

It set sail for London on 15 February and after weeks at sea only one carcass was condemned when the ship arrived at London on 24 May 1882. . . 

Why exporters should consider decoupling from China and focus more on opportunities provided by India’s growth – Point of Order:

Not many New Zealanders   may  have  noticed what is  happening in China or India – but their   economies  appear  to  be  tracking  in  opposite  directions.  Those movements could have a powerful  impact in  turn   on  NZ’s  economic fortunes.

Point   of  Order  is  indebted   to   two  remarkable   pieces  of  journalism  for   insights  that give  context to these issues.  One  report appeared in  the  Guardian  Weekly,  the  other in  The  Economist.

The  first, by  Larry Elliott,  was headed “Stifled dragon: No-one  should take  delight in Beijing’s  economic  woes”  and argues  a  full-blown   economic crash  would be  as  damaging  to  the  world as  the  US sub-prime mortgage crisis  was.

The  report in  The  Economist focused  on  India’s  economy  which, it  said, is  likely  to be the  world’s fastest-growing big  economy this year.  The  details prompted  The Economist  to  editorialise  that   the  Indian  economy  is  being  rewired. . . 

Perendale pioneer awarded life membership– Sally Rae:

Perendale breeders from throughout New Zealand converged on Queenstown last week for their annual conference. Rural editor Sally Rae headed to West Otago and caught up with them during a tour of two stud properties.

For 50 years, North Otago farmer David Ruddenklau has had a passion for the Perendale breed.

That lengthy involvement and contribution to the breed was recognised last week when he was awarded life membership at Perendale New Zealand’s annual conference which was based in Queenstown and hosted by the Otago ward.

Mr Ruddenklau, who founded the Newhaven Perendale stud in 1972, said he remained supportive not only of the breed but also the overall sheep industry. Long term, the future of sheep meat looked “superb”. . .

Silver Fern Farms will no longer supply offal to Gloriavale meat plant – Niva Chittock:

Silver Fern Farms has announced it will no longer be working with the Gloriavale Christian community.

“Silver Fern Farms has decided to begin the process to discontinue any commercial arrangements with Value Proteins [Gloriavale’s trading company]. We will now be working with all parties involved to bring this into effect,” a spokesperson said.

It is believed the decision is based on the Employment Court ruling that members of the community who worked up to 70 hours a week for years, were not volunteers, and employment standards should be enforced.

Ex-resident David Ready welcomed the news. . . 

Defra to open £30m fund for farmers to add-value to products :

The next stage of the Farming Investment Fund will offer grants focused on supporting farmers to process, diversify and add-value to their products, it has been confirmed.

Launching in June, the next theme of the fund will be ‘Adding Value’, and it will be worth a total of £30 million, Defra explained on Tuesday (24 May).

It will offer grants of between £25,000 and £300,000 to farmers and growers for up to 40 percent of eligible project costs.

Grants awarded will pay for capital items to enable farmers to add value to eligible agricultural products, after they’ve been harvested or reared. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/05/2022

What NZ can learn (is Greenpeace listening?) from Sri Lanka’s blundering to combat climate change by going organic – Point of Order:

Sri Lanka is in the grip of its worst economic crisis in decades, facing depleted petrol reserves, food shortages and a chronic lack of medical supplies.

More than a month of mainly peaceful protests against the government’s handling of the economy turned deadly last week when supporters of the former prime minister stormed an anti-government protest site in the commercial capital Colombo.

For New Zealanders, the troubles being experienced by Sri Lanka’s 22 million people might trigger humanitarian concerns but – at first blush – have little to teach us about good policy.

Kiwis therefore may shrug  off Sri Lanka’s plight as the consequence of incompetence by the governing Rajapaksa brothers, one of whom has resigned as prime minister, the other whose job as president is under threat. . . 

No lessons in shaming and bullying farmers – Kathryn Wright :

Somewhere, beneath the hyperbole, there had to be a human.

Usually, in all disagreements and misunderstandings there are two factors at play – the issues and how the issues are being dealt with.

And in the very pertinent issue of our environment and how some environmental activists are presenting some southern farms, it is most certainly the latter. 

No one is disputing that the health of our land and water holds great importance, well, certainly not anyone that I know.  . . 

Angry farmers take carbon forestry protest to Stuart Nash’s doorstep – Tom Kitchin:

A group of angry East Coast farmers descended on Napier today to protest against carbon forestry, which they say is destroying their towns.

They left placards plastered on the steps of local MP Stuart Nash’s office, who is also the forestry minister.

Sophie Stoddart is a 14-year-old from Pōrangahau, at the southern end of Hawke’s Bay.

With the enemy – a pine needle in hand – she spoke passionately, saying carbon forestry could easily ruin her small town. . . 

Labour constraints see New Zealand apple and pear season estimate drop 12% on pre-season estimate :

New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAPI), the industry organisation representing the country’s pipfruit growers, today released a crop re-forecast that predicts a decrease of 12% on the organisation’s pre-season estimate.

In January this year, the 2022 apple and pear crop was predicted to reach the equivalent of 23.2 million export boxes (Tray Carton Equivalents, or TCEs, as they’re known in the industry), destined for customers in more than 80 countries. That forecast has now been adjusted to be approximately 20.3 million boxes, representing an estimated reduction in export earnings of $105 million.

NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle says a perfect storm of adverse weather events in key growing regions and major labour shortages during the heart of the harvest combined to result in growers not being able maximise their crops.

“While our crop may be down by around 12% on initial estimates, it is a testament to the resilience and capability of our grower community that we are still likely to make the most from such an incredibly challenging harvest. . . 

Sarah Dobson wins 2022 Pukekohe Young Grower competition :

Sarah Dobson, a 25-year-old environment and sustainability technician at A.S. Wilcox, has won the 2022 Pukekohe Young Grower competition.

The competition tested the four contestant’s vegetable and fruit growing knowledge as well as the skills needed to be a successful grower. Contestants completed modules in marketing, compliance, pests and disease identification, safe tractor driving, health and safety, soil and fertilisers, irrigation and quality control.

‘I was so rapt when they called my name to say that I had won, I couldn’t believe it,’ says Sarah. ‘I wasn’t expecting to win as it was such a tight competition; all the other competitors were really strong.’

‘I really want to say a huge thanks to the team at A.S. Wilcox. I was quite nervous before the competition, but I did lots of preparation with help from my colleagues. Everyone there has been so supportive in helping me prepare. . . 

 

 

Ammoniated straw incorporation improves wheat production and soil fertility:

An international team of researchers, including from The University of Western Australia’s Institute of Agriculture, have determined that ammoniated straw incorporation (ASI) treatment significantly improves wheat crop production and soil fertility.

ASI is a process by which ammonia is added to stubbles/straw, which degrades the lignin and enhances nutrients for it to be more easily broken down by soil microbes.

The research, published in the journal Field Crops Research and led by Northwest A&F University in China, investigated the responses of soil properties, wheat yield and yield stability of wheat to ammoniated and conventional straw incorporation in the China’s Loess Plateau.

The three treatments applied in the study were straw (the control), conventional straw incorporation (CSI), and ASI. . . 


Rural round-up

09/05/2022

Mycolplasma bovis isolated to just one farm :

The world-first attempt to eradicate the disease, which can cause lameness, mastitis and abortions in cows, began after it was first detected in a South Canterbury farm in 2017.

Since then, the disease has been confirmed and cleared from 271 properties, with more than 176,000 cattle culled.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said no working farms we currently infected – the lone property was a large beef-feed lot, and work to clear it will begin later this year.

He marked the milestone as he announced $110.9m funding for biosecurity efforts. . . 

Kiwis endangered by unlicenced occupations – Roger Partridge:

They may not know it, but unsuspecting Kiwis will soon be protected from unregistered log traders and forestry advisers. What a relief that should be.

The Shane Jones-sponsored Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Act was introduced under urgency in the midst of the pandemic in May 2020. Forced along by Jones’s fanciful election-year plans to boost employment in his Northland electorate, the Bill passed into law in August that year.

Jones is long gone from Parliament. But in the intervening two years, the Ministry for Primary Industries has been busily consulting with the forestry industry on a suitable registration regime.

And well they might. Even though the Ministry’s Regulatory Impact Statement could not point to any quantitative evidence of benefits from the proposed licensing regime, tasks as important as regulating log traders should not be rushed. . . 

Saffron grower says industry growth necessary to meet consumer demand – Sally Murphy:

A Southland saffron grower says yields are slightly down this year but the quality of the spice is very high due to dry conditions.

The spice is the red stigma of a small purple flower Crocus sativus and can set you back anywhere from $20 – to $50 a gram.

Kiwi Saffron grows the spice organically across three hectares in Garston, Southland.

Owner Jo Daley said weather conditions had led to an enjoyable harvest this season and they should wrap up in the next week or so. . . 

Geoff Reid poked the bear – Kathryn Wright:

Geoff Reid NZ poked the bear

If you know me, you probably know that I don’t like to say much on social media. And I certainly don’t get involved in online arguments. But when I have something to say, it’s probably important and it’s probably going to be long. The longer it percolates in my mind, the more I will have to say.

This is why, when environmental activist Geoff Reid posted his latest photos in an attempt to shame a Southland farmer that was simply doing his job, I had had enough. I have known about this person for a while – spoken about in both professional and private capacity. I considered sending the post to him privately but no, I wanted others to see the harm this man (and others like him) create. I will include the post below this. Rural people are my heart, and Geoff Reid is hurting them. 

Geoff Reid poked the bear.  . . 

Dairy prices fall sharply but farmers will do nicely thank you from this season’s payout and Synlait has strong half-year – Point of Order:

Only  two  months  ago  Radio NZ  was  airing  a  report “Why  are global dairy  prices  so high?”  Now, the  story  is  rather  different  after  two sharp  falls  at  Fonterra’s  fortnightly  global dairy  auctions,  and  the  pundits   are  pondering  what  has  happened.

But  NZ’s  dairy farmers  can still rest  easy  that  this  season’s  payout  will be  the  highest in Fonterra’s  history.

The  latest fall this  week was  foreshadowed  in  a  report  by ANZ  agri-economist  Susan Kilsby  on commodities. She  noted  dairy prices fell 4% month-on-month in April, driven primarily by lower prices for whole milk powder which is highly influenced by demand from China.

Kilsby  went  on to  point  out market sentiment had deteriorated as the lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing impact consumer buying opportunities. . . 

Biosecurity funding increase a sensible move :

An $111 million injection for biosecurity in the May Budget is a pragmatic acknowledgement of how vital it is to our economy we stop pest organisms at our borders, Federated Farmers says.

“This extra money shows an appreciation by the government pest incursions can wreak havoc in our primary industries, New Zealand’s powerhouse for export earnings,” Federated Farmers Arable Chair and plant biosecurity spokesperson Colin Hurst said.

“Plenty of Budget rounds go by without any bolstering of funding for biosecurity so we congratulate the government for making this a priority.”

The funding announcement comes on the same day that we mark the fourth anniversary of New Zealand’s world-first attempt to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis – indeed the $110.9m in the Budget includes $68 million over the coming year to continue momentum on the M. bovis programme. . . 


Rural round-up

04/05/2022

More farms being sold to overseas buyers for forestry conversion :

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of another six farms for conversion to forestry under the special forestry test.

Introduced in 2018 to encourage more tree planting – farming groups have raised alarm at the rate of farms being sold through the special forestry test.

The government is currently reviewing the test but sales are continuing.

Sales information just released by The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) includes Gisborne’s Maunga-O-Rangi Station which went on the market last year after being owned by the same family for 30 years. . . 

Dog trialling in the bloodline – Sally Rae:

When it comes to a pedigree in dog trials, Kelly Tweed has it covered.

In 2019, her sister, Steph Tweed, made history as the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship with Grit in the straight hunt, while their father, Roger, a Waitahuna farmer, is a successful triallist too.

Kelly (26) might have have been a slight latecomer to the sport but is showing she has inherited the family genes, qualifying for this week’s South Island championships.

While Steph had to dash off to run one of her four dogs on another course, Roger was there to watch Kelly have her first run in the straight hunt on the first day of competition at Earnscleugh Station. Mr Tweed has five dogs qualified for the competition. . . 

“Milked” (the movie) presents a sour view of our biggest export industry – but dairy farmers can learn from it it anyway – Point of Order:

A documentary titled Milked,  shown  at the  International Film  Festival in Dunedin, seeks  to  “expose”  the  New Zealand  dairy industry   and  calls  on  New  Zealanders  “to  heal the  land”.

Milked is available globally via the streaming platform Waterbear and on Youtube via Plant Based News. The documentary is made by indigenous activist Chris Huriwai and local director Amy Taylor.

Its crowd-funding campaign surpassed an ambitious $100,000 target in just 12 days, with much international support confirming its global relevance. Huriwai  told  one  news  outlet: . . 

Innovators want wool to take to the sky – Sally Rae,

Wool might tick all the boxes as a natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly fibre, but New Zealand’s strong wool growers are still not reaping the reward for producing the best strong wool in the world.

Business and rural editor Sally Rae talks to those behind two diverse projects to add value to the wool clip.

Brent Gregory has a theory: people who need wool do not know the fibre exists and those folk never meet up with those selling wool, leading to a major disconnect for the wool industry.

Mr Gregory and Suzanne Wilson, of Christchurch, are directors of the Merino Softwear Company, an innovation company looking to create high-value products from wool. . . 

Edmonds urgently sources wheat from Australia after weather ruins local yields :

A shortage of wheat due to dire weather conditions earlier in the season has led flour company Edmonds to source stock from overseas.

Heavy rain in February ruined crops around the country, leading arable farmers to describe it as the season from hell.

Edmonds said the weather meant yields in the South Island had been significantly impacted.

“With the reduced supply available in market we haven’t been able to source enough New Zealand grown wheat for our Edmonds flour,” a company spokesperson said. . . 

Union calls for significant rise in milk prices as costs surge :

A union has called for farmgate milk prices to rise significantly in order to make up for the recent surge in input costs, many of which are linked to the war in Ukraine.

The supply chain should pay more to fully reflect the ‘unsustainable’ input costs caused by increases in feed, fuel, fertiliser and energy costs, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) said.

It recently wrote to the UK’s major retailers urging them to ensure that rising input costs do not threaten the long term viability of food producers in the UK.

Farmers should also be paid a fair price for their produce in light of the developing circumstances in Ukraine. . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/05/2022

O’Connor now will support law changes needed for Fonterra’s capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Agriculture  Minister  Damien  O’Connor has  overcome  his objections to  the  capital restructuring of  dairy giant Fonterra  and  says  the  government  will  now  amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The dairy giant wants to make it easier to join the company, while maintaining farmer ownership amid falling milk supply.

O’Connor  recognises  Fonterra as a key part of New Zealand’s world-leading dairy industry and a major export earner for the economy, sending product to over 130 countries.

Around 95% of all dairy milk produced in New Zealand is exported, with export revenues of  $19.1bn a year. It accounts for 35% of NZ’s total merchandise exports and around 3.1%  of GDP. The industry employs around 49,000 people. . . 

Is this the technology to win Kiwis over to genetic engineering? – Nikki Macdonald:

You’ve heard of fermenting yeast to make beer, but what about brewing GM microbes to make bioplastic? Using designer microbes to make stuff in fermentation vats has been described as the next manufacturing revolution, with potential to produce everything from cow-free cheese to sustainable fossil fuel replacements. But is GE-free New Zealand ready for it?

Veronica Stevenson bet her house deposit on a bee.

Before using GM microbes to make stuff was all the talk (Impossible Burger, mRNA vaccines), Stevenson set out to find the genetic recipe for the plastic-like film that lines the nest of a solitary Aussie bee.

All she had to do was work out which bit of the bee’s DNA linked to the nest material and put that code into a micro-organism, which then makes it in a fermentation vat, or bioreactor. . . 

Country Calendar couple put hopes in hemp – Kerry Harvey:

Southland farmers Blair and Jody Drysdale don’t let fear hold them back when it comes to finding ways to make their family farm work.

“You can’t be scared of failing. Give it a go and, as long as you learn by your failures, get up and carry on again,” Blair says.

The couple are the third generation of the family to farm the 320-hectare mixed cropping and livestock farm. Jody and Blair and their three children – Carly, 13, Fletcher, 11, and Leah, nine – took over from Blair’s parents in 2008. . . 

Waikato diary farmers struggling with historic dry conditions

Waikato dairy farmers are struggling with the region’s dry conditions, with no decent rainfall expected to fall anytime soon.

NIWA’s latest hot spot watch shows things have got really dry in the region within the last couple of weeks.

The driest soils across the North Island, compared to normal for this time of the year, are in Northern Waikato – and it doesn’t look like the situation will improve anytime soon, with no decent rain forecast.

Bart Van De ven is a sharemilker in Springdale, near Morrinsville. . . 

Where did we get the idea veganism can solve climate change? – Anthony Signorelli:

Cattle have been denigrated as a major cause of greenhouse gases (GHG) and, therefore, a cause of climate change. When I first heard this as a former farmer, I thought: That’s preposterous! Do cows have more impact than fossil fuels? No way.

Big claims

So, I looked it up. Sure enough, a 2009 report from the WorldWatch Institute claims livestock accounts for 51% of GHG — more than industry, coal-burning electricity generation, and transportation combined. Whatever those guys smoke at WorldWatch, I’d like some for Friday night! That report is no longer available on the WorldWatch site. (Links go to a dead page. A reader sent me this one.) It’s not hard to figure out why.

The original story emphasizing the GHG contribution of livestock came from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO published a study authored by Henning Steinfeld in 2006, which claimed that livestock produced 18% of global GHG and concluded that livestock was producing more GHG than the entire transportation sector. Although it is a mystery how WorldWatch inflated that to 51% three years later, the claim in the FAO study was eye-catching. Apparently, many eyes caught it, and then they read WorldWatch, too.

But there was a slight problem. . . 

Ravensdown secures co-funding to eliminate coal from aglime process :

Ravensdown announces today that it has achieved government co-funding to accompany the co-operative’s investment to install a biomass combustor at its Dipton lime quarry. Locally supplied wood fuel will replace coal in the lime-drying process – an important part of preparing the naturally occurring soil conditioner for use by Southland farmers and growers.

The co-operative’s commitment is being matched by funding through the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund. The funding agreement with EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) commits Ravensdown to savings of at least 1,107 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum, reducing Ravensdown’s direct carbon footprint by almost 10%.

According to EECA, process heat accounts for over a quarter of New Zealand’s energy-related emissions, presenting a huge opportunity for businesses to take a lead in climate change mitigation. The GIDI Fund is part of the government’s Covid Response and Recovery Fund, established to drive economic stimulus and job creation through decarbonisation projects. . . 


Rural round-up

02/05/2022

Fonterra is well-placed to win Kiwi acclamation as corporate champion – Point of Order :

Can  Fonterra, with  its capital restructured,  become   the national champion,  it  was always  intended to be?.

The  stars   are  aligned  as  they  never have been before.

The  dairy  giant  has  the  products,  the  bosses,  the  markets, the  support of almost  all  its suppliers,  plus  the  government’s  backing.

It seems the  high  international prices  currently  prevailing  will  persist  for  another  season, and  maybe  two, which  would  be  the  longest stretch   in  Fonterra’s 20-years- or-so history. . . 

Fonterra expands seaweed trial, Fonterra farmers have first access :

Fonterra expands on-farm trials of methane reducing Asparagopsis seaweed, as part of the Fonterra’s commitment to helping solve the methane challenge.

In partnership with Australian company Sea Forest, Fonterra is looking at the potential Asparagopsis seaweed has in reducing methane in a grass-fed farming system.

Fonterra General Manager of Sustainability APAC Jack Holden says our grass-fed farming model makes Fonterra one of the most carbon efficient producers of dairy in the world. “However, we have an aspiration to be net zero by 2050 and are investing in R&D and partnerships to help find a solution to reducing methane emissions.”

CSIRO research has shown that Asparagopsis seaweed has the potential to reduce emissions by over 80 per cent in laboratory trials, and while Fonterra understands the reductions will vary out of the lab, all reductions count. . . 

Feedback sought of draft code of welfare for dairy cattle :

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), the independent Ministerial advisory committee on animal welfare, is calling for feedback on a new draft code of welfare for dairy cattle.

NAWAC has reviewed the existing code of welfare for dairy cattle and is consulting on updated minimum standards and recommendations for best practice.

The objective is to lift the codes to address changes in good practice, available technology and science, and the explicit recognition of sentience in the Animal Welfare Act. It is also consulting on recommendations for regulations.

“The existing code of welfare has gone a long way towards ensuring good animal health and welfare outcomes for our dairy cattle, but we wanted to review the code to ensure it remains fit for purpose,” NAWAC chairperson Dr Gwyneth Verkerk said. . . 

Market garden on farm provides staff with healthy vege boxes – Country Life:

Environmental and social trials are underway on a dairy farm near Ashburton.

Rhys and Kiri Roberts are comparing conventional farming with a regenerative system, they’re giving staff more work flexibility and are providing them with free farm-grown food.

“Offering your team vegetables in this climate at the moment is just such a fantastic thing to be doing,” Rhys says.

Rhys is CEO of Align Farms. The business has eight farms milking 5000 cows and employs 30 people in mid-Canterbury. . . 

Dairy commodity price rises drive increase in March exports :

The value of total good exports rose strongly in March, driven by increases in dairy products, beef, and aluminium, Stats NZ said today.

These increases were mainly the result of higher prices.

In March 2022, total goods exports rose $978 million (17 percent) from March 2021 to reach $6.7 billion.

Exports of dairy products (milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity group) led the rise, up $461 million (30 percent) to $2.0 billion in March 2022. . . 

Livestock guardian dogs  :

When most people think of a flock, they just think of sheep. But if you look closely, you’ll spot a few large white-coated canines calmly at the center and possibly a few darker faced dogs circling the perimeter. These are livestock guardian dogs and their job is to act as an early warning and protection system for the sheep. Year after year, these sheep then go on to provide different types of wool which is spun for use in clothing and home goods. The protection dogs are hard to spot unless you know what you’re looking for. But make no mistake, you’ll meet them in a hurry if you walk up on a sheep or lamb as an unfamiliar face. And you won’t just meet one or two. Typically ranchers employ multiple dogs, based on the size of the flock and the predator challenge of their grazing areas. This natural pack comes together to face down other packs of predators or larger single predators like bears.

According to Cat Urbigkit, a Wyoming based cattle-and-sheep rancher, author, and expert on the training and use of guardian animals, the working sheep dog isn’t typically the friendly mop-haired “sheep dog” so popular in suburban neighborhoods. “Guardian dogs are large but calm animals that have developed instincts to protect flocks. They’re serious athletes, comfortable living out-of-doors, and easy-going around people,” explains Urbigkit. “This job is nothing new for these dogs. These breeds have pedigrees that are thousands of years old.” Indeed, many livestock protection dogs come from the mountainous regions of ancient Turkey, Mongolia, Spain, and Italy, but the one thing they all share in common is loyalty and courage in the face of danger. . . 


Rural round-up

11/04/2022

Feed shortage a concern for dry south – Neal Wallace:

Dry conditions continue to grip farms in Southland and Otago, worsening already stretched feed supplies compounded by delays in getting stock processed.

Between 8mm and 30mm of rain fell over Southland and southern Otago this week, but temperatures have also fallen.

Weather forecasters are offering little prospect of significant regular rainfall for the remainder of April, although there another southerly next week could deliver a further 20-40mm.

“It’s still below average but much better than we have had in the last few months,” WeatherWatch chief forecaster Philip Duncan said. . . 

Global dairy prices weaken as China reduces its demand – Point of Order:

The ANZ world commodity price index hit a new record in March, lifting  3.9%.  Prices are very strong across most commodities, although none of the sub-indices are currently at record levels.

In local currency terms, the index gained just 0.5%, as local returns were eroded by a 3.1% gain in the trade weighted index (TWI).

While farmers were  digesting this  news, the latest global dairy auction  recorded a dip in prices as  demand weakened from Chinese  buyers.  The GDT  price index slid 1% to 1564 at the  auction following a 0.9% fall at the previous bimonthly auction.

Dairy prices have risen steeply at auction this year, pushing the index to record levels, as tight supply underpins demand. . .

Kiwifruit picker reveals secret to earning $60 per hour – Annemarie Quill:

Is it really possible to earn $60 an hour picking fruit? “Absolutely,” says Maketū’s Trish Townsend, who has been a kiwifruit picker in the Bay of Plenty for four years.

“I did $60 per hour yesterday, and I am looking forward to $90 an hour at Easter when we’ll be on time-and-a-half. As long as the weather stays fine, I will be going hard.”

Last month Stuff revealed that high pay rates of up to $60 per hour, and incentives such as cash bonuses, prizes and free transport, accommodation and food, are being offered to lure pickers to the kiwifruit industry, which is experiencing its “toughest-ever season” due to the impact of Covid-19.

The industry usually requires 24,000 people to pick and pack over a typical harvest, but is drastically short this season due to a lack of international workers, such as backpackers or seasonal workers from overseas. . . 

Cannabis farm gets 32m grant new generation coming into agriculture – Tessa Guest:

The government has given a cash injection to the country’s largest medicinal cannabis grower, saying it could become as successful as the wine industry.

Puro, a specialist cannabis grower near Kēkerengū, between Blenheim and Kaikōura, was given a $32 million grant today.

The $13m is coming from taxpayer money, and the remaining $19m is from private investors.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the “weird and wacky” grant would kickstart the organic medicinal cannabis industry in New Zealand. . .

Mountain bike trails put new spin on Whanganui farm – Country Life:

Sheep bleating and shearing machines whirring are sounds of the past at the Oskams’ old woolshed.

Nowadays you are more likely to hear the buzz of bike chains, the hiss of tyre pumps and the whooping of mountain bikers stopping for a break after whizzing around the trails above.

Bikes hang in the sheep pens, the sheep dip has been turned into hot showers and the wool sorting table is used for preparing feasts when there’s a big crowd.

Tom Oskam spent his boyhood here on the land which is snuggled into a bend in the Whanganui River. It used to be part of a much bigger farm used for sheep, beef and forestry.   . . 

New Ravensdown chair to focus on pathways to progress :

Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer Bruce Wills has been elected the new Chair of Ravensdown as current Chair John Henderson concludes his term on 31 May 2022.

The former Federated Farmers national president is excited about the recently evolved strategy of the co-operative which is sharpening its focus on improving farmers’ and growers’ environmental and productive performance.

Bruce was voted in as a Ravensdown director in 2015, working closely with John Henderson who has been a director since 2004 and Chair since 2014.

“It’s been an eventful seven years on a Ravensdown board that, alongside the staff and management, have worked tirelessly towards a vision of smarter farming for a better New Zealand,” said Bruce. “I am passionate about Ravensdown’s role as the nutrient leaders in the areas of science, supply and solutions for an agsector striving for more sustainable ways forward.” . .

 


Rural round-up

07/04/2022

Govt tightening screw on rural communities :

In allowing spiralling costs and rampant inflation to hit New Zealand’s most productive sector, the Labour Government is biting the hand that literally feeds it, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“New Zealand’s agricultural sector is seeing a dramatic rise in input costs as farmers and growers grapple with the same cost of living crisis that is impacting us all.

“The increase in costs is being felt particularly badly by our farmers. In the last year, the cost of fuel has risen more than 44 per cent, fertiliser more than 28 per cent, stock feed and grazing more than six per cent, seeds six percent and power 21 per cent.

“If you want to go out and buy a new Toyota Hilux you’ll now be paying an extra $5175 in ‘ute tax’ when registering it – and Labour will soon be introducing legislation requiring employers pay a 1.4 per cent levy on employees’ salaries into a new ‘income insurance scheme’. . . 

Predictable delays for meat processing :

Meat works around the country are struggling to meet demand due to the Government’s failure to keep pace with a vital cog in the supply chain, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“Farmers are being forced to hold onto livestock longer as meat works across the country have wait times stretching up to six weeks. This adds even more pressure to our farmers, with some having to dip into their winter baleage supply early or buy in costly feed supplement alternatives.

“The Agriculture Minister and the Government made assurances that they would take steps to limit any disruption for our essential farming industry, but as predicted, they have failed to do this.

“Labour failed to deliver to bring in the necessary workers due to stringent immigration rules, and they failed to supply the meat works industry with rapid antigen test in a timely manner, causing disruptions to staff. . . 

Nursery aims to make native trees more accessible – Colin Williscroft:

For Adam Thompson, establishing native flora on farmland goes beyond the obvious environmental and biodiversity benefits.

It gives farmers a sense of pride in seeing a piece of marginal, unproductive land transformed into something that complements and enhances their farming operation.

“A lot of farmers are proud of growing food. “We’re helping them do it in a more sustainable way,” Thompson said.

The 35-year-old Cambridge farmer and owner of Restore Native tree nursery wants all farmers to feel that pride by making it as easy and inexpensive as possible to plant and grow native trees on farmland not suited for livestock. . . 

Synlait is confident it is back on the path to pre-2021 profitability levels – Point of Order:

ANZ  reports widespread autumn rain has devastated many arable and fruit crops, but has been welcomed by pastoral farmers.

Food commodities are in short supply globally.  New Zealand will  export less produce than normal this season as production of most  export commodities is impacted for varying reasons including delays with the processing of livestock and the impacts of labour shortages.

So it  was  something of  a  surprise,  but  a  welcome  one,  when Synlait Milk reported  its net profit (excluding the sale of an Auckland property) had risen 128% to $14.5m in the first half.

The  dairy  processing company said it was also on the way to reporting previous levels of profitability in the 2023 financial year after posting a $28.5m loss in 2021. . . 

NZ woolgrowers among sectors hit by China’s Covid-19 restrictions :

A resurgence of Covid-19 within China is causing headaches for some primary sector exporters, with lockdown measures disrupting economic activity and slowing down distribution networks.

China’s ongoing “zero-Covid” strategy uses swift lockdowns and aggressive restrictions to contain any outbreak. As part of this, late last month Shanghai was placed into the biggest city-wide lockdown since the Covid outbreak began more than two years ago.

PGG Wrightson’s South Island wool manager Dave Burridge said demand for wool had dropped off because China’s manufacturing regions had been affected by the Covid-19 restrictions.

“It’s having a direct impact on bottom-line returns to woolgrowers, certainly there is quite a dramatic effect on [prices for] the types [of wool] the Chinese normally buy.” . . 

Almonds a new high-value nut to crack :

Another ‘nutty’ idea could lead to a brand-new almond industry in New Zealand.

Plant & Food Research is embarking on a feasibility study to see if almonds can be grown sustainably in Hawke’s Bay. The project has backing from central and local government, alongside Picot Productions Limited – Kiwi producers of the Pic’s brand nut spreads.

“We’re already supporting peanut growing trials in Northland – now it’s almonds’ turn,” says Steve Penno, Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) director of investment programmes.

“The first step is to see whether we can successfully produce almonds with a low carbon footprint at scale and for a competitive price in New Zealand.” . . 


Rural round-up

02/04/2022

Call for transparency over Māori data – Nigel Stirling:

THE dairy industry wants the Government to come clean over its plans to demand special protections for Māori data in trade agreements.

The industry says it is in the dark about the Government’s new negotiating strategy and is worried if the demands go too far they could undermine New Zealand’s claims to greater access to trading partners’ dairy markets.

Dairy Companies Association chair Malcolm Bailey says talks for a trade deal with the European Union are already slow-going.

“We are conscious that if we are making a new demand of the Europeans in these negotiations we need to have a good understanding of what it is we are actually asking for and the value of that,” Bailey said. . .

NZ’s high melanoma death rates ‘no surprise’ – Gerald Piddock:

New research showing that New Zealand has the highest death rate of melanoma in the world is of little surprise, a health researcher says.

The disease causes the death of 350 people annually, with the cost of diagnosing and treating melanoma in NZ is estimated to be in excess of $51 million annually.

If 2020 rates remain stable, the global burden from melanoma is estimated to increase to 510 000 new cases and 96 000 deaths – a 68% increase – by 2040, the research by international scientists showed.

The rates were highest in Australia and NZ, followed by Western Europe, North America and Northern Europe. . . 

Rabobank’s performance points to our farm sector being in good shape – Point of Order:

Reflecting  the  surging prosperity in NZ’s  rural  heartlands, Rabobank  has  reported  an  after-tax   profit  of  $209m,  up $88m or  73%.

Rabobank NZ,  which is  owned in  the  Netherlands,  has  gained  ground  in  the  banking industry since  it  arrived  here in the  1990s by specialising in  lending to farmers  and  businesses in the food  and  agribusiness supply chain.

CEO  Todd  Charteris  says the strong commodity pricing over the course of 2021 enabled a number of clients to pay down debt which improved the risk profile of the portfolio and enabled the  bank to unwind loan impairments from the previous year.

“We remain positive about the long-term prospects for the [rural] sector and our intention is to further expand our agri-lending portfolio through new lending to farmers and other businesses across NZ’s food and agribusiness supply chain,” Charteris says. . . 

 

Overseas Investment Office approves Austrian aristocrat’s farm purchase for forestry conversion

An Austrian aristocrat has been given approval to buy another farm in Aotearoa and plant pine trees in it.

The latest round of Overseas Investment Office (OIO) consents show Johannes Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg has been given the green light to purchase the 445 hectare Te Maire Farm near Masterton.

Just over 300 hectares of the farm will be planted in pine trees which will be harvested in 2048, before a second rotation is planted.

Described as an experienced forestry investor by the OIO, Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg purchased three farms in 2019 for conversion to forestry. . .

Synlait first-half revenue and sales volume largest on record :

Dairy company Synlait has posted a strong first-half result driven by ingredients sales volumes, commodity price increases, and a one-time gain of $11.9 million from the sale and leaseback of property in Auckland.

Key numbers for the six months ended January 2022 compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $27.9m vs $6.4m
  • Revenue $790.6m vs $664.2m
  • Other income including one-time gain $15.4m vs $1.6m
  • Underlying profit $68.4m vs $47.7m
  • Forecast base milk price $9.60 per kilo of milk solids . . .

NZ packhouse technology notches up firsts with asparagus producer :

New Zealand fresh produce software provider Radford Software has onboarded leading Australian asparagus producer and distributor Raffa Fields to implement a packhouse system entirely remotely.

Customer success manager Royce Sharplin said the partnership represented two key firsts for Radfords – a move into the asparagus sector and the first remote implementation of its packhouse solutions, due to the global pandemic.

“This reaffirms that our strategy to diversify into wider fresh produce sectors to complement our traditional kiwifruit, apple, citrus and avocado markets is on the right track,” Mr Sharplin said.

“It would have taken a lot of trust to implement our systems from afar. Go-live last August followed a condensed timeframe from scope to delivery, achieved by a strong partnership with an enthusiastic and proactive team from Raffa Fields.” . . 

 

Sustainable vision wins at 2022 Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards:

The 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners say everything they do is to a high standard, for the good of the industry and themselves.

Jono and Kerri Robson were named the 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards last night in Masterton. Other major winners were Amarjeet Kamboj, the 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, and Jacob Stolte, the 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Robson’s are 50/50 herd-owning sharemilkers on Dean Nikora and Alexandra Stewart’s 119ha, 350-cow Waipukurau property. They won $10.586 in prizes and six merit awards.

Jono and Kerri have entered the Share Farmer category twice previously, while Jono is also a past entrant in the Dairy Manager category. . .

 


Rural round-up

18/03/2022

World dairy prices ease from record peak but the industry is the big driver of export receipts as trade deficit widens – Point of Order:

Dairy prices levelled  off  in  Fonterra’s  latest  Global Dairy Trade auction  but  remain  close  to the  peak reached  at  the  previous  auction  a  fortnight  previously.

The GDT price  index  eased 0.9%  to 1579, the second-highest level on record, down from 1593.

Dairy farmers   who  had  seen prices  surge  in  the  past  five  auctions  may  have  been disappointed.  But  as Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny pointed  out, uncertainties around global dairy demand arising from surging Covid-19 case numbers in China, the world’s largest dairy market, is likely to have weighed on prices.

Fonterra  has  steadily  raised  its  forecast payout  to  the  $9.30-$9.90kg/MS range – the  highest it has  ever been – as  the  GDT index  has  climbed  18%  this  season. . .

Kiwifruit harvest needs ‘all the help it can get’ – growers :

With travellers wanting to take a working holiday now able come to Aotearoa for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the kiwifruit industry is highlighting there are plenty of jobs on offer.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers chief executive Colin Bond said pre-Covid New Zealand welcomed about 50,000 working holidaymakers into the country each year.

His industry required 24,000 seasonal workers for picking and packing roles and backpackers had traditionally make up about one quarter of the workforce.

“This year a record crop of over 190 million trays are forecast to be picked. Each tray has about 30 pieces of kiwifruit, meaning the industry needs all the help it can get.” . . 

Instead of being the best in’ the world be the  best ‘for’ the world – Sarah’s Country:

   In an environment where farmers & growers may be thinking it’s all coming at them, Becks Smith can see the light at the end of the tunnel when we condense the overwhelm and see the challenges through a more holistic approach.  

New Zealand farmers naturally have an inter-generational view of stewardship of their land, but sometimes need support to bring the right expertise together when they are on the next level of their sustainability journey.

Becks Smith discusses with Sarah Perriam, host of Sarah’s Country, how her career journey as a vet in Central Otago, alongside farming with her husband’s family, is evolving into the social enterprise The Whole Story.

She shares her insights into how to take small steps towards change and how important to pull an advisory board around our farmers that are all on the same page. . . 

UK and NZ animal health associations welcome regularity co-operation :

The animal health associations in the UK (NOAH) and New Zealand (Agcarm) have welcomed the publication by the countries’ regulatory agencies of guidance that will enable simultaneous review of animal medicine marketing authorisation applications in the two countries.

Arising from discussions between the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the guidance document ‘United Kingdom-New Zealand Regulatory Cooperation: Guidance on Veterinary Medicines Simultaneous Reviews’ will serve as the foundation to enable these simultaneous reviews to happen.

This comes as a far-reaching trade deal has also been announced between the two countries, which includes an animal welfare chapter with a clear statement that animals are recognised as sentient beings. Provisions include a commitment to increased bilateral cooperation, as well as working together in international fora to enhance animal welfare standards. . .

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual report supports Aotearoa’s beekeepers :

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual Winter Colony Loss survey results are out now and show that the country’s beekeepers are serious about working together to support a strong bee industry.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist Richard Hall says more beekeepers than ever took part in this survey, the seventh so far.

“This level of involvement and our beekeeper’s transparency in self-reporting shows how seriously they take biosecurity, and how valuable Biosecurity New Zealand’s support is in strengthening the bee industry.

“Strong biosecurity systems and management of pests and diseases are essential to production and the data gathered this year will help beekeepers identify where they need to focus their management efforts,” says Dr Hall. . . 

The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road – Jane Jeffries:

Having spent a large part of the summer in the Queenstown region we decided to explore The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road.

I was a little nervous, as I hate scary roads, but secretly wanted to do it. The thought of driving up the Remarkable ski field road makes me anxious, with sheer drops and no barriers. So a rugged road, with tight corners, possible oncoming traffic reeked of danger to me.

This classic piece of New Zealand road is only open in the summer for 4wd vehicles as it’s snow-bound in winter. The valley can be accessed from Bannockburn, just outside of Cromwell or Garston, near Kingston at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu.

Which ever way you start The Nevis, make sure you allow time for a meal at the legendary Bannockburn pub, the food is fabulous.  . .


Rural round-up

05/03/2022

Climate change and food security: we should act on both because it’s the right thing to do – Andrew Hoggard:

Federated Farmers are currently working with a wide range of stakeholders on how to best develop an appropriate pricing mechanism that achieves a wide range of outcomes. This partnership is called He Waka Eke Noa, or The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and the outcomes sought include reducing emissions, maintaining food production, and protecting the wellbeing of rural communities. A core challenge we have faced is that these principles conflict with each other at times. As the Federation undertakes consultation with its members, we have heard from a number of farmers who are frustrated that the Paris Agreement is not being promoted by He Waka Eke Noa as clear reason for why New Zealand should not cut food production to meet climate targets. The two points most often cited by farmers in consultation so far are:

In the Preamble:

“Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change…”

In Article 2:

“(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production…”

To put it simply, we agree. At Feds, we agree with farmers who point to these sections of the Paris Agreement as text that should be carefully considered when attempting to develop an appropriate pricing mechanism for the New Zealand agriculture sector. . .

ACT beats the Greens to support exclusion of radiata pine from ETS subsidies – but it wants the govt to go further – Point of Order:

The first expressions of support for a shift in government thinking about carbon farming, radiata pine and the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) came not from the Greens but from ACT.

From 2023, under current rules, a new permanent forest category of the ETS would allow both exotic and indigenous forests to be registered in the scheme and earn New Zealand Units (NZU).

The government is now proposing to exclude exotic species – such as pinus radiata – from the permanent forest category.

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw today released a public discussion document that seeks feedback on ideas for better forest management. . . 

New rules proposed for carbon farming of exotic forests in future :

A new proposal to better manage carbon farming could see future permanent plantings of exotic forests like radiata pine excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have released a public discussion document that seeks feedback on ideas to better manage afforestation.

“Climate change is a challenge we cannot postpone. The government wants to encourage afforestation to help meet our climate change targets, offset carbon emissions, and also help farmers, landowners and investors diversify their income streams,” said Stuart Nash.

“We want to balance the risks created by new permanent exotic forests which are not intended for harvest. We have a window to build safeguards into the system, prior to a new ETS framework coming into force on 1 January 2023. . . 

ETS must back native forests not pine monoculture :

Forest & Bird strongly backs the Government’s suggestion that pine forests should not be counted as permanent carbon sinks in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The organisation says the ETS should instead support investment in native forest and wetland restoration, which will provide much better long-term carbon storage than pines and other exotic trees.

“A native tree planted today could still be sucking up carbon in 800 years, but a pine planted today will likely be dead in 100 years and releasing carbon,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

“The Climate Change Commission told the Government that native forests and wetlands are a much better long-term carbon solution, and Forest & Bird completely agrees. Native forests stabilise land, create resilience in a rapidly changing climate, provide habitat for native species, and overall lock in more carbon for the long term.” . . 

New Zealand is world leading in agri-chemical management:

As a leader of sustainable food production, the agrichemical industry will continue to collaborate with the government to safely manage agrichemicals in the environment, following a report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, released today.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says, “we’re confident that the measures for managing and using agrichemicals and veterinary medicines are robust and support our environmental outcomes.”

Our industry aims to play a central role in collaborating with government and farming communities to support positive outcomes for our primary sector and environment – and is open to sharing knowledge and innovation to continually improve them.

“The safe and effective use of these tools can protect our environment from invasive weeds, disease and imported pests while providing food security and economic growth,” says Ross. . . 

Growth in Australian ewe numbers associated with non-Merino sheep – Kristen Frost:

The fast paced rebound in Australian sheep numbers, fuelled by the current favourable seasonal conditions, would normally be viewed as a key lever for expected higher Merino wool production.

But according to industry experts, medium Merino wool prices will need to rally in coming months if they are to compete in the fight for mixed farming as well as battle anecdotal reports of a renewed switch to prime lamb production.

Executive Director of NCWSBA Paul Deane said an increasing flock wont necessarily point to an increase in wool supply, with data from MLA’s latest sheep survey revealing most of the growth in Australian ewe numbers are associated with non-Merino sheep.

“The data shows some evidence that the relative proportions of different sheep breeds has changed within the flock in recent years,” Mr Deane said. . . 


Quotes of the month

05/03/2022

This is February’s quotes, a few days late.

Over the past two years we’ve heard it ad nauseam. We’re a team of five million. We are constantly reminded to be kind to each other. And yes, the messages have come from the self-appointed team leader, Jacinda Ardern.

Many of us retired from the team shortly after it was created and it now grates to still be described as members of it.Barry Soper

New Zealand’s universities are at a defining crossroads. Do we remain a universitas, a community of scholars developing knowledge according to the universal principles and methods of science or do we continue down the path of a racialised ideology? – Elizabeth Rata

Unfounded accusations of racism or other silencing strategies muzzle discussion about what is happening in our universities and schools. There are many layers needing discussion – the difference between science and culture, between cultural safety and intellectual risk-taking, between universalism and parochialism. However intense and heated the discussion may be it must take place. Too much is at stake to pretend that all is well. – Elizabeth Rata

University students from all racial and cultural groups tend to come from knowledge-rich schools which provide a solid foundation for university study. These are often the children of the professional class who have benefited from such knowledge in their own lives and insist that schools provide it for their children.

It is access to the abstract quality of academic knowledge and language, its very remoteness from everyday experience, and its formality – science in other words – that is necessary for success. Tragically this knowledge is miscast as ‘euro-centric’. The aim of the decolonisation and re-indigenisation of New Zealand education is to replace this knowledge with the cultural knowledge of experience.

But science is not euro-centric or western. It is universal. This is recognised in the International Science Council’s definition of science as “rationally explicable, tested against reality, logic, and the scrutiny of peers this is a special form of knowledge”. It includes the arts, humanities and social sciences as human endeavours which may, along with the physical and natural sciences, use such a formalised approach. The very children who need this knowledge the most, now receive less.

The science-ideology discussion matters for many reasons – the university’s future, the country’s reputation for science and education, and the quality of education in primary and secondary schools. But at its heart it is about democracy. Science can only thrive when democracy thrives. – Elizabeth Rata

To be clear, I was and consider myself very lucky to be adopted into a loving, caring family. For reasons outlined in this article below I am grateful for the life I’ve had considering the one that was offered to me at birth.  – Dan Bidois

I learned many things from this process. Above all, is that you’re not defined by the circumstances of your birth but by the environment you grow up in. And finally, identity or whakapapa is an important part of one’s confidence, wellbeing, and purpose in life.

Understanding one’s past provides the fuel needed for a happier and more fulfilling life in the future. – Dan Bidois

This whole thing has a Groundhog Day vibe about it. I mean, how come we’re still, as we go into our third year of this pandemic, still being reactive and responding on the hoof.

It beggars belief that lessons have not been learned, plans have not been made, preparations have not gotten into full swing.

We are behind on RAT kits, way behind, it’s woeful, it’s the vaccine rollout all over again. We have no greater ICU capacity than when we started, in fact suggestions are we even have fewer ICU beds than when we started. We have not bolstered our health workforce, we have not advanced our tragic and cruel MIQ system, we have not boosted enough people or jabbed enough children, because again, we were too slow with our vaccine rollout.  – Kate Hawkesby

Why can’t they learn the lesson? Why is the Government so slow on the uptake? Why’d they take an elongated holiday when they should’ve been planning and sorting and preparing?

Why are they so allergic to the private sector and reticent to include them more? Are they afraid of the private sector? Or are they just so arrogant now they think they know best, better than any established business?

Most importantly, why are we still asking these questions? How can all the same mistakes still be made? If you hear from the Government, when they’ve bothered rolling back into the office from the beach, they’ll tell you they’re world leading.

They’re faultless, blameless, it’s all perfect, we should be so proud of them. The fact they’re still peddling this crap and still in self-congratulatory mode also worries me.

It’s delusional. They’re backwards focused.Kate Hawkesby

How many businesses look at KPI’s or performance reviews and go, “Oh well it’s a bit of a mess at the moment but two years ago was really good.”

No one does that, because it’s not real. It’s not relevant, it’s not honest. So why should we be expected to buy into that tosh from our government?

Our Rapid Antigen Testing situation is embarrassing, our MIQ lottery is embarrassing, our hermit mentality is embarrassing, our lack of vaccination coverage for children and booster coverage is embarrassing. Our Covid response looks antiquated and fear driven, and stale. But if you listen to this Government and it’s cheerleaders, we should be over the moon about it.

The disconnect here is actually beyond embarrassing, it’s tragic.Kate Hawkesby

And that’s the tragedy of all this. Have a platform, make a song and dance, get a result. Surely the only message here is that unless you’re going to really publicly and internationally discredit and embarrass the Government, you’re not going to get a spot.  – Kate Hawkesby

A free society needs more than the incentives provided by the rule of law and the discipline of profit and loss. Both are underpinned by and help to reinforce a set of virtues – prudence chief among them. The prudence to buy low and sell high. And the prudence “to trade rather than invade, to calculate the consequences, to pursue the good with competence.”

Prudence matters. – Eric Crampton

The government had been imprudently late in ordering the tests that it ultimately decided were needed for the public health effort.

But no matter. The government had set itself a call option. It could simply take the results of others’ prudential efforts.

When the prudent expect predation, expect less prudence. Expect as well that many businesses will have cancelled remaining test kit orders rather than wait for them to be stolen by a predatory state.

McCloskey emphasised the prudence of trading rather than invading and stealing; of calculating the consequences of actions; and of pursuing the good with competence.

It is hard to see much evidence of prudence in this government. Prudent and imprudent alike will bear the cost.Eric Crampton

At the end of an interview recently, I was asked whether people should express their emotions. I replied that it rather depended on the emotions that they had and their mode of expression. There were some emotions that were best kept to oneself, and some ways of expressing them that were disgusting.Theodore Dalrymple

It seems to me (though I may be mistaken) that, at least in Anglophone countries, there has been a tendency of late years for ever more extravagant public expressions of emotion, which is something that I do not welcome. It leads not to the palace of wisdom, but to crudity of apprehension, and to an unfortunate positive feedback loop: if you want to show how much you feel, you have to indulge in ever more extravagant such demonstrations. – Theodore Dalrymple

This development favours the explicit over the implicit and the bogus over the genuine. Indeed, it reduces people’s capacity to distinguish between the two, or even to understand that there is a distinction between the real and the bogus. No one would now say, as did an old patient of mine upon whom fate had piled undeserved tragedy upon undeserved tragedy, that she would not cry in public because it might embarrass other people and her grief was her own: people would now accuse her of mere unfeelingness.Theodore Dalrymple

The very notion of dignity and seemliness is destroyed by incontinent emotional expression. I haven’t tried the experiment, but I doubt that many people could or would now even attach a meaning to the word seemliness: but seemliness is to self-respect what incontinent expression is to self-esteem, and the difference between self-respect and self-esteem is of great importance. The first is demanding, effortful and social, the second is undemanding, egotistical and akin to an inalienable human right that survives any amount of bad behaviour. – Theodore Dalrymple

There are other advantages to negative emotions: insofar as they are far easier to stoke, can last much longer than positive emotions—joy is rarely more than fleeting—and are usually more intense, they are, in the long run, more rewarding, especially when, as in the present day, the locus of people’s moral concern is political rather than personal. It is surely almost self-evident that the strongest political emotions are negative: for example, the rich are hated much more than the poor are loved.

In such circumstances, expressions of hatred are often mistaken for expressions of love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down the life of another for some class of person whom he favours in the abstract. Thus vehemence of expression comes to be taken as strength of feeling, and the greater one’s vehemence, the greater one’s strength of feeling and therefore of one’s virtue—virtue now being a matter almost entirely of the opinions one holds. Extreme expression of hatred becomes a virtue. – Theodore Dalrymple

As with so many things, the proper public expression of emotion is a matter of judgment rather than of doctrine or predetermined principle. It is also a question of good taste. . . If I had to choose between them (which of course I do not) I would choose emotional constipation rather than emotional diarrhoea. At least the former can give rise to powerful drama, whereas the latter gives rise to crude soap opera at best. Concealment is more interesting than revelation, and often ultimately more revealing into the bargain.    – Theodore Dalrymple

The government’s response to Omicron over the summer break has had too little method and too much madness. – Eric Crampton

But it is difficult to reconcile the tightening up of test-to-travel restrictions, to reduce risk, with the subsequent move to allow rapid antigen tests instead of PCR tests before travel. If the government considered rapid antigen tests to be safe enough because travellers were entering MIQ, why tighten the window for PCR tests in the first place? –  Eric Crampton

Education, the ladder out of poverty, has been kicked away. In the English-speaking world, New Zealand pupils are worst at maths, science and literacy. Last year, 44 per cent of Auckland students did not turn up for NCEA exams. Richard Prebble

Covid is not responsible for the growth in inequality. Covid infects the rich and the poor.

The growing inequality is the result of government policies and galloping inflation.  – Richard Prebble

The Government is becoming Muldoonist. Like Muldoon, Labour calculates huge “think big” spending is electorally more popular than the pain of tackling inflation.Richard Prebble

Studies reveal that urban rail schemes never come in on budget or on time and rarely meet passenger projections. Worldwide, 75 per cent of urban rail projects have cost escalations of at least 33 per cent. A quarter have cost escalations of 60 per cent or more. The cost of light rail will escalate from the estimate of $15b to over $20b.

Here is another way to think about the cost. For less taxpayers’ money, every passenger could have a free Uber ride in an electric car to where they actually want to go. – Richard Prebble

The Reserve Bank is seeking a soft option. Returning “inflation to target too quickly would result in unnecessary instability”. Now inflation is established, there are no soft options. All that printed money is debt. The bank is yet to tell us how it is going to reduce its bond holdings.

While the Reserve Bank procrastinates, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  – Richard Prebble

This Government has become like a can of CRC, oiling every irritating squeak which has become a deafening cacophony in recent weeks.  – Barry Soper

I’m not sure if it was the word “loyal” or the long-simmering anger towards the nation of my birth coming to a head, but I suddenly didn’t want to honour New Zealand by choosing a song by one of its legends.

I’m angry at Jacinda Ardern, I’m angry at her parochial and uber-protective policies and I’m angry that I’m banned from the place where – more than any other – I felt I belonged. It’s fair to say I’ve lost faith in the country I once loved and revered.Angela Mollard

The cumulative stories about the human impact of the border policies have sullied New Zealand’s reputation as a fair and decent place.

All countries care about their reputations but it is more important to small countries because they do not hold economic or military power. Being a good international citizen, being an honest broker, doing the right thing has been important to New Zealand. – Audrey Young

The damage to New Zealand is exacerbated by the fact that Arderns’s reputation and New Zealand’s are one and the same. Her international brand, through leadership after the Christchurch massacre, is a caring leader.

Damage to New Zealand reflects badly on her; and damage to her reflects badly on New Zealand. . . She was rightly applauded internationally for the initial response to Covid-19. Now, for the most part, she is rightly being criticised.Audrey Young

This is the insanity of what we’re dealing with. This is a rigged lottery. And I’m talking personally, not as Move Logistics executive director, when I say this: Can we have respect for a system where, basically, citizens are told, you can’t come home?

Non-citizens are told, if you’re an essential worker, whatever that description might be on a particular day. Or if you’re pregnant, and you’re in a third world country, you’re allowed in or not allowed in. So the rules are being made up as people go along. – Chris Dunphy

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the Bellis Embarrassment to understand is what on earth possessed those writing the rules to erect even the smallest obstacles to pregnant New Zealand women returning to their homeland to give birth. For most older New Zealanders, the rule has always been: “Women and children first – and pregnant women before everyone!” We were raised on the tragic example of the doomed “Titanic” – where men gave up their places in the lifeboats for the bearers of the next generation.

What does it say about the current crop of public servants that they were able to create a labyrinth of rules and regulations that made it possible for a British deejay to be welcomed into this country, while denying re-entry to a stranded Kiwi woman and her unborn child?More to the point, what does it say about the current crop of Labour ministers – Chris Hipkins in particular – that they did not intervene, with righteous wrath, to put an end to this unconscionable rejection of that most basic human instinct: the urge to protect, at any cost, mothers and their children?Chris Trotter

But where is the “kindness” in the treatment of Charlotte Bellis, and scores of other pregnant New Zealander women aching to get home? If this desperate, pregnant, Kiwi journalist, stranded in starving Afghanistan, does not deserve kindness – then who does? – Chris Trotter

The risk for Robertson isn’t quite voter revolt – not yet. But the Government did just make it far easier for New Zealanders who spent the past two years in the country to think about moving overseas. Cheaper rent and better pay might not have been much of a draw in 2020 or 2021, when it was paired with longer lockdowns, more Covid-19, and no easy way home if you changed your mind. That won’t be true for 2022. – Henry Cooke

If travel broadens the mind, then perhaps the reverse might also be true.

We have become a more insular country since Covid started, and it is very unattractive. The social media vitriol and judgment directed at journalist Charlotte Bellis for daring to speak out about her predicament last week reflects badly on all who indulged. – Steven Joyce

It was Ms Bellis who was let down by her own country. Forget all the whataboutisms. When she needed to come home, when she needed a safe haven where she could be pregnant and give birth to her child, her country said no. That was simply appalling. It has never been who we are.

It was not just appalling for Ms Bellis. She was simply the human straw that broke the camel’s back. In being rebuffed by the bureaucratic monster that is our managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) system, she joins thousands and thousands before her over the past two years who have had their spirits broken in their time of need. – Steven Joyce

There are too many stories to count where a heartless decision-maker showed no empathy, no ability to walk a mile in the shoes of desperate Kiwis overseas, no willingness to make things right.

Somehow, the Government’s sudden ability to find an MIQ slot for Ms Bellis under the public spotlight of the world’s media made an appalling situation even shoddier. It was a brazen attempt at damage control by ministers, presumably breaking the rules their own officials had been zealously upholding. There was no apology for those who had come before, no acceptance that the policy had been wrong, just cold, naked politics at its worst. – Steven Joyce

Special treatment for those prepared to beg publicly is also not our country. What about all those who didn’t want to make waves, who suffered through their life events in silence, hurt by the intransigence of their own countrymen and women?

It is one of the most basic human rights that people be allowed to come home. The Government knows that. That’s why they maintained the legal fig leaf that the border wasn’t closed. It’s just that you have not been allowed to buy a ticket to come here without an MIQ slot. Which you couldn’t get. George Orwell would have been proud. – Steven Joyce

You can argue that in extremis a country can close its borders for short periods in a pandemic to protect the population. The case can be made that stopping the flow of people while a plan is worked on and new health measures are put in place is justifiable.

But not two years, and not while you sit on your hands and do nothing during that period to allow for more people to exercise their fundamental right to come home.

We passed up building more MIQ places, we passed up home isolation, we passed up privately run MIQ facilities, saliva testing, more hospital capacity, a decent booking system, a timely vaccination programme, or even filling the MIQ places we had … we passed up a lot of things that would have reduced the pain and uncertainty of so many Kiwi families. – Steven Joyce

We were a country of voyagers. Striking out to see the world and seek our fortune. We took Dr Seuss’ The Places You’ll Go! to heart. Travel was a rite of passage, which for some turned into careers offshore, with partners and families. We took pride in their success, basking as New Zealand metaphorically punched above its weight on the world stage.

There’s around a million of us who live offshore now — but always able to come home, to see grandparents, siblings, and reconnect.

Until the past two years.

In those two years we have had to stand in line, often behind DJs, children’s characters, performers, sportspeople and Government MPs, all of whom seemed able to win the MIQ lottery while more deserving cases didn’t. Let alone the people whose skills we need to help run our economy, our schools and our hospitals. Good job, some would chortle in their insular way. We don’t need all those bright young foreigners helping to make New Zealand a better place. – Steven Joyce

A wise friend of mine said at the outset of all this that it is much easier to close things down and encourage people to hide away than it will be to open it all up again. And so it seems. Once people have become fearful of the outside world, it’s hard to move beyond that fear.

Yet we must. We must get out and embrace that world again, let our young people take it on, prove themselves, have adventures and live their lives. We must invite people into our home and conquer our virulent insularity.

Let this be the last time we turn our backs on our own people. There must be a better way to protect ourselves in future that doesn’t involve simply barricading the doors.

We should never stop our own citizens coming home to see their dying relatives, or giving birth here. That’s not selfless and kind. That’s not who we are. – Steven Joyce

But open government appears to be on the wane. This is partly because of the growth in the “communications industrial complex”, where vast battalions of people now work to deflect and avoid, or answer in the most oblique manner possible. We journalists are vastly outnumbered by spin doctors.

And it is partly because of the very tight media ship captained by Jacinda Ardern. The prime minister has won plaudits the world over for her empathetic and straightforward communication style. – Anna Fifield

When I was writing about New Zealand’s response to the pandemic for The Washington Post, almost every minister or ministry I contacted for an interview responded with a variation on: I’ll need to check with the prime minister’s office.

Since coming home, I’ve been surprised by the lack of access to ministers outside carefully choreographed press conferences. – Anna Fifield

Perhaps the most alarming, and certainly the most prevalent, trend I’ve noticed is the almost complete refusal of government departments and agencies to allow journalists to speak to subject experts.

Like, you know, the people who are actually implementing complicated reforms and know what they are talking about. – Anna Fifield

We often just get insufficient answers written in bureaucratese.

There is no opportunity to get them to put their words in a more digestible form. There’s no opportunity to ask them to explain the background to a decision.

There’s certainly no chance to ask them anything like a probing question. That, of course, is the whole point of this stonewalling. – Anna Fifield

This obfuscation and obstruction is bad for our society for two key reasons.

One: It’s in everyone’s interest to have journalists understand the complicated subjects they’re writing about. We need to ask questions. We can’t explain things we don’t understand.

Two: It’s called the public service for a reason. They work for the public, aka you. It is the job of the Fourth Estate to hold the powerful to account. So we should be able to ask reasonable questions – like “When will the $1.25 billion Transmission Gully motorway open?” – and expect something that at least resembles an answer. – Anna Fifield

To be clear, our country is free and open compared to many other parts of the world. But I’m not comparing us to Iran (where I used to ask pointed questions at foreign ministry press conferences all the time) or China (ditto).

I’m comparing us to other proudly open and democratic societies. And I’m comparing us to the us we used to be. Where a journalist could ask a straight question and get a straight answer and deliver it to you – straight. – Anna Fifield

But my favourite must be this supremely arrogant line from the Ministry of Health, asked about releasing data during an Omicron wave: “We will release additional information if it is determined that there is a need to do so.”Anna Fifield

I make two further predictions. First, the Ardern government will be utterly decimated in a landslide defeat next year and second, that in the course of time given some perspective, it will be recorded as the most incompetent by a country mile in our post-war history. – Bob Jones

Politicians bright-side scientific advice when they report it accurately, but selectively. They emphasise the politically helpful parts of this advice but omit the careful but politically-awkward provisos that scientists pair with their advice.Nicholas Agar

While there has been little Covid death, the Government’s stance has exacted a price: mental health issues; the interruption of children’s education; the too-long separation of families due to MIQ restrictions; struggling “hospo” and tourism businesses; the inability to source much-needed staff from offshore; and mounting government debt among them. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is too easy to get on and stay on welfare in New Zealand. Labour have enhanced that ease by reducing the use of sanctions to impose work obligations. They recently shifted thousands of jobseekers onto the sole parent benefit because they no longer had to look for a job. The policy settings changed. It is now OK to keep adding children to a benefit to avoid work. That is not a “well-functioning” welfare system.Lindsay Mitchell

Why anyone, however, would trust the Local Government Minister or the Prime Minister to deal with them in good faith after their sustained deception about mandating Three Waters remains a mystery. – Graham Adams

This is a vengeful government, it’s a nasty government, it’s the exact opposite of a kind government, and it’s exact opposite of an open, honest, and transparent government. Mike Hosking

Because here’s a fact we need to accept: no matter how important climate change is to people, it is hardly ever more important than being able to pay your bills or keep your job. Most people will vote for jobs and a warm house before they vote for the climate.

Governments should – and obviously do – bear that in mind. – Heather du Plessis Allan

Scientific studies show that singing has positive effects on mental health. People who sing are more inclined to be content with life.
Group singing seems to induce the production of oxytocin – the binding hormone that can reduce stress and anxiety, and decrease a sense of loneliness.
Singing heals pain and sorrow and increases a sense of well-being. –
Robert Fulghum

A government that allows trespassers to unlawfully occupy and obstruct the entrances to the land and buildings symbolising its authority, and to block the main streets of its capital city, raises questions about whether it is truly sovereign.

Everyone has a right to go to Parliament’s grounds and protest, but everyone else has a right to visit those grounds and drive around Wellington. In more than three decades of watching students, teachers, farmers, unions, environmentalists, Māori and activists on both sides of social issues march on Parliament, none has behaved as disgracefully as the mob who turned up on Tuesday and refused to leave. – Matthew Hooton

Many are so caught up in conspiracism that their problems appear more medical than legal.

Yet the Wellington political, bureaucratic and media establishments should not kid themselves that only a deranged fringe is feeling enraged by the current situation. Two years of pandemic and the long and preventable Auckland lockdown have fuelled a seething anger towards the Government from a much larger and more reasonable segment of the population, even if its source may be difficult to pinpoint. Matthew Hooton

But more is based on legitimate irritation with a Beehive communications strategy seemingly targeted towards children rather than voting adults, and which cannot admit the slightest fault or setback for fear of undermining Ardern’s global brand as Covid vanquisher. – Matthew Hooton

For its part, the Wellington bureaucracy is under so much pressure from its political masters to support the Beehive narrative that it increasingly provides information that is radically incomplete, contradictory or just plain wrong. – Matthew Hooton

The incoherence in the Government’s Omicron strategy means public co-operation is radically declining, including for tracking and testing. The Beehive may think a few more earnest homilies from the podium of truth will turn that around, but the public isn’t stupid. – Matthew Hooton

This is sneaky reform. Three Waters is designed to relieve smaller communities of the inordinate costs of compliance with an excessive regulatory regime already enacted in law. I doubt it will make beaches and rivers one jot cleaner than current regional council efforts can achieve.

All we stand to get is another fungal outgrowth of government, four super-regional agencies, each with floors of box-ticking bureaucrats making work for contractors, consultants, researchers and publicity staff to comfort you and me, the disenfranchised suckers paying for it.  – John Roughan

Just 53 people have died here from Covid, and our prime minister has been lavished with praise as a result. For much of the pandemic, the team of five million went about their lives pretty much as normal, working maskless, travelling domestically and attending large outdoor gatherings in sunny weather, going home in the evenings to wade through tear-soaked emails from contacts abroad marvelling at our apparent Covid success.

But there has always been another team milling in the shadows, the team of one million, the expatriate Kiwis stranded abroad who have paid a heavy price for their home country’s Covid elimination strategy. – David Cohen

Jacinda Ardern’s plummeting popularity indicates a country questioning not only her racist white-anting of our democracy, but the hypocrisy of her kindness and well-being mantras. Her repeated emphasis on ‘well-being’ on which she stressed her intent to focus, instead of on GDP – when introducing her budget in 2019 – is apparently an important part of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s ‘Great Reset’ agenda.

New Zealanders have been sold a pup. The economic, mental and emotional well-being of New Zealanders has been far from prioritised by her Labour coalition doing extraordinary damage – and determined on more of the same, judging from the controversial legislation it continues to ram through. – Amy Brooke

The European Commission has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to direct its staff not to refer to Christmas, as if mere mention of the word would act on atheists, animists, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, and no doubt others, much as garlic flowers or crucifixes acted on Dracula (at least as portrayed by Christopher Lee).

Oddly enough in these times of multiculturalism, mere words provoke apoplexy, at least metaphorically, as never before. Euphemism, evasion and renaming flourish — supposedly in the name of tolerance, but really as exercises of power.  – Theodore Dalrymple

The academics, intellectuals and sub-editors of university presses who use the new style evidently believe that the world is populated by people of extreme psychological fragility, and whose self-esteem, which can be shattered by the mere usage of BC and AD, it is their duty to protect.

Thus does condescension and sentimentality unite with megalomania to produce absurd circumlocutions.Theodore Dalrymple

And this is where cancel culture is eating itself. It’s so inane and ridiculous that you now cannot even enjoy being the gender you are, for fear it upsets those who don’t believe in gender.  – Kate Hawkesby

Where is all this going? What’s the end game here? Why do we all have to be the same? And why do we have to bend and change ourselves constantly to fit in with whoever the latest person or group to be offended is? Surely that’s a bottomless pit?  

There will be no individuality left at all, if we go down that track. I mean the Tweeters that are outraged that she’s apparently confused teenagers by saying she loves being a woman, what about the teenagers who’re seeing this bullying backlash against a woman for saying she likes being a woman? What message is that sending them?  – Kate Hawkesby

Whether you agree or not with the people protesting on parliament grounds is not the debate anymore. What this government, that proclaimed it would govern for all New Zealanders, has done is turn its back on a good number of its people.

How hard can it be to at least front up and talk to the people assembled on parliament grounds?

The final straw for me, and what prompted me to go public, is the way government is treating these people – turning the sprinklers on them knowing there was a storm coming, and playing loud music at night so as to not let them sleep and make them feel miserable. No farmer would treat animals like that!

Although this protest has a different focus to Groundswell NZ, we support their right to be heard and cannot understand or agree with the Government’s actions. What is becoming of our once united and proud country? – Bryce McKenzie

Trevor Mallard has officially lost the plot. . . He’s done it under the guise of protection of course – appointing himself as some overarching protector of all – whether they want or need to be protected or not. 

It’s an old school ‘I know best’ approach that reeks of patriarchy and has no place here in the modern world. But what the Government’s tried to do here – and failed in my opinion, is grab the narrative on this protest and shut it down. Problem is they’ve only made things worse. – Kate Hawkesby

Refusing to speak to the protestors, writing them all off as wacko conspiracy theorists, and rabid far-right anti-vaxxers is a big mistake – and has only served to gaslight the situation. Media who’ve ignored Mallard’s instructions, have managed to gauge a large diversity of views from a raft of other people there too – yes there are your fringe nutters, but actually, the anger runs deep and there’re some genuinely aggrieved people out there too.

Only a fool would dismiss them and hope they go away.

Yet that’s what Mallard, Robertson and Ardern are trying to do. Robertson’s rolled out the usual sneering condescending frown down the nose rhetoric which is so popular in the left-leaning sandpit of Twitter.. just writing them off as dangerous rabid crazies. Mallard has taken it next level – he’s stooped to childish antics of pulling dumb – as someone pointed out “boomer” stunts -– like sticking hoses on them and playing them the Macarena. –Kate Hawkesby

Not even the Police support his actions and have distanced themselves from that stupidity. And why give it this much attention if the government line is supposed to be ignore them? Ardern on the other hand has done what she does best – head in sand, fingers in ears – vanish. She’s invisible. But when put on the spot to address it, she joins the Robertson ‘write them off’ camp.

But it’s not working, the protest is only swelling in number, not even a cyclone diminished their enthusiasm.

The other problem for the government is the hypocrisy on display here. Let’s not forget all these MP’s decrying the protest were all proud protestors themselves back in the day. So they support free speech, and your right to protest.. but only if it aligns with their views. I’m not on the side of the protestors here by the way – they’ve blown this by a long shot – it’s a disorganised shambolic out of control mess.Kate Hawkesby

But I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to write them all off as anti-vaxxers and far-right conspirators. There is genuine anger that runs deep in this now very divided country, over mandates and the campaign of control and fear.

So to just write off those protesting without even hearing them, is a dangerous move I think, by a government increasingly out of its depth. –Kate Hawkesby

Although the protestors aren’t necessarily many people’s cup of tea in terms of approach, demeanour and attitude – the general consensus seems to be that they in their own way represent a wider frustration, if not anger, among many of us. 

That’s why there isn’t a leader or a point of contact or a specific cause. hat’s why it’s been a mistake to call them an anti-vax protest or an anti-mandate group. It’s been a mistake to suggest it’s a mistake that they didn’t have a singular point.

That’s the point, about the lack of a point. They represent all of us that right now have a sense that things aren’t right.Mike Hosking

But it is an outpouring of emotion and I admire people who want to give up a lot of time and effort to travel and hunker down and presumably get a sense of some sort of accomplishment.

Which is why Trevor Mallard specifically, and the Government more generally, have misread this so badly. As a tiny collective they can be, and have been, dismissed but that’s to fail to see that they represent a wider mood.

The Government and Mallard in particular are on the wrong side of this. When you start turning sprinklers on, start playing loud, bad music at them, start pumping out covid-19 ads – you’re being obtuse. – Mike Hosking

Telling the media not to talk to protestors is anti-democratic. Opening your Speaker’s Balcony and telling media to look down on the protestors is also anti-democratic, authoritarian and controlling, not to mention the height of arrogance.

The fact so many of the media acquiesced is of deep concern and probably plays into the protestors beliefs that too much of the media is controlled. It’s certainly not open honest and transparent as Labour so often wanted us to believe they are. 

If the protestors need to be moved that is the job of the police, not a jumped bureaucrat with a puffed-up view of their own entitlement. There are no winners in this. But the more the Mallards of this world look to decry, misinform and bully, the sympathy will build behind those who just want to have their say.   – Mike Hosking

New Zealand’s secular liberal saint, Jacinda Ardern, seems to be losing a little of her previously strong odor of sanctity.  – Theodore Dalrymple

In typical bureaucratic fashion, the rules were interpreted strictly, and made no allowance for the fact that to be stranded pregnant in Afghanistan is a good deal more worrying than to be stranded, middle-aged, non-pregnant, and prosperous, in, say, Switzerland. No doubt the bureaucracy wanted to avoid charges of favoritism—one rule for the prominent and another for the unknown—but it did Ardern’s popularity no good that Bellis felt constrained to turn to those well-known feminist humanitarians, the Taliban, for assistance. They seem to have done the trick: Bellis has now been allowed to return to New Zealand; but in the process, Ardern’s government, not long ago praised as the model for all civilized countries to follow, has been made to look stupid, cruel, and weak.Theodore Dalrymple

The bad news is that each time we’ve made the right decision to buy more time, we’ve made it late and with insufficient planning in place. The strategy has served us well, but the execution much less so.

When the Prime Minister spoke to the nation for the first time this year on 20 January, she repeated stressed that ‘every day counts’ and it was urgent to prepare for Omicron, before going on to tell us that over the summer the government and its agencies had done… sod all.

One example: A new testing regime and the introduction of rapid antigen testing was announced, not with the information that the test were in the country and ready to go, but that they were on order, and in insufficient quantities. – Tim Watkin

Government hesitancy or poor management have been as consistent as the ‘buy time’ tactic. The initial lockdown was a week or two late, the testing at the border got into gear weeks after it was meant to, security at MIQs was only sorted after a number of escapes, more ICU beds were only announced 22 months into the pandemic, and – crucially – the move to order the vaccine and roll out a programme was slow, for all its eventual effectiveness. And we’re paying the price for that slowness now, cutting the gap between second and third doses and less widely boosted than we could have been.

The urgent language Ardern has used since 20 January was also needed before Christmas and over summer. National’s Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop on 30 December issued a statement headed “Govt must act on boosters, kids vaccines and rapid tests”. –Tim Watkin

Time and again we’ve done the right thing, but late and lackadaisically. And time and again we’ve got lucky. Or, the rightness of the decision has bought us the time to play catch-up. That, for me, has been the defining story of our Covid response and our consistent ‘buy time’ tactics.

But now we face a new phase for New Zealand. Covid-19 has begun entering the community at a level we’ve never seen before. I give thanks to all that is holy that we have bought time and we are facing this now – informed, vaccinated, prepared, up against a less deadly variant – and not at any other time over the past two years, like so much of the rest of the world. – Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

The day a Speaker dictates to the media on how a story can be told would be a dark day for democracy.

It fits with the current Beehive though: a government by remote control, refusing to engage with those on the ground who don’t fit their mould and that’s most certainly unwise if not unkind. – Barry Soper

We’re fighting all these regulations and restrictions to keep operating, to keep job security going.. . It’s just decimating and it’s so hard for businesses to figure this out when the rules are constantly changing, we’re just tired of all these changes and restrictions. If it was simple – if it was like just RAT tests, clear, come to work, that’d be great, but it’s not, we’ve got all these minefields to work through.Simon Berry

Our besotted would-be train-spotters seriously oversell the benefits of “light” rail, such as the downtown-airport link. Who would want to trundle along in a train, stopping and starting at 18 stations en route, when an express bus using dedicated bus lanes can get you there in 35 minutes, as it often got me there pre-Covid? – Tim Hazledine

Even without the patently loony proposal to dig a long tunnel under Sandringham Rd, we have here a proposed “light” rail project that will cost New Zealand’s three million taxpayers between three and five thousand dollars each. This for the benefit of about 30,000 Auckland commuters, to improve their access to the higher-paid jobs in the CBD, if that’s still what they want to do. Tim Hazledine

THE NEW ZEALAND liberal or woke left, most of it directly connected to the Labour Party or supportive of it, has lost its mind. How else can you explain its maniacal pursuit of ‘right wing extremists’, ‘Nazis’ and ‘white supremacists’ within the several hundred people dancing to Bob Marley on Parliament grounds? When Rob Muldoon used to be mocked by Labourites for looking for ‘reds under the bed’, today’s Labourites are worthy of our derision as they hunt for Nazis in every occupation tent.  – Against the Current

What the liberal left has been demonstrating is something other than liberalism. It instead owes much to the scourge of identity politics. It has displayed a toxic politics that’s profoundly anti-working class and which has jettisoned tolerance and free debate for  shaming, threats and intimidation. While the folk at the occupation have been remarkably optimistic and good humoured in the circumstances, the liberal left has been petulant, joyless, trivial and status quo-perpetuating. Against the Current

More disturbingly though, the liberal left has displayed a willingness to unleash state violence against dissenters. The mask has come off to reveal something very ugly.  – Against the Current

The liberal left has indeed lost its mind. What we have seen on display for the past eight or so days is a motley rabble of cowardly keyboard warriors who are seeking to extinguish an emerging independent working class politics that owes no allegiance to the political status quo that the woke left benefits from. This is the real ‘crime’ of the Wellington occupation. Against the Current

Shoot me now!  New Zealand’s system of science education continues to go down the toilet (along with Donald Trump’s papers, I guess) as everyone from government officials to secondary school teachers to university professors pushes to make Mātauranga Māori (“MM”) or Māori “ways of knowing” coequal with science, to be taught as science in science classes. All of them intend for this mixture of legend, superstition, theology, morality, philosophy and, yes, some “practical knowledge” to be given equal billing with science, and presumably not to be denigrated as “inferior” to real science. (That, after all, would be racism.) It’s one thing to teach the indigenous ways of knowing as sociology or anthropology (and but of course “ways of knowing” differ all over the world); it’s another entirely to say that they’re coincident with modern science.

The equation of “ways of knowing” like MM with modern science is, of course, part of the Woke Program to “decolonize science”. The problem, of course, is we have a big conflict—one between a “way of knowing that really works“, which is science, and on the other side a reverence for the oppressed and their culture, embodied in MM.  The result is, of course, that the oppressed win, and all over the Anglophonic world science is being watered down, downgraded, pushed aside, or tarred with adjectives like “white supremacist” and “colonialist.” – Jerry Coyne

The purpose of education, at least as I see it, is to impart generally accepted knowledge to students, and to teach them how to think and how to defend and analyze their views. This is precisely the opposite of MM, which is a kind of theology that cannot be questioned or falsified. Under my construal, education is indeed for everyone, but for those groups who have spiritual/religious/moral values that differ from those of other groups, they have to get those things reinforced on their own time.Jerry Coyne

People of Aotearoa: rise up against this nonsense! Do you want your science education to become the laughingstock of the world? For that is what will happen if the benighted keep barrelling along that dual carriageway of science and nescience. – Jerry Coyne

his country survives on trading, often in markets at the other side of the world.

The fact that our standard of living is rated amongst the richest countries on the planet is solely dependent on our exporters having a better product to sell and being able to market it better than our competitors. It follows that the more you sell at these prices, the more we can afford to deliver higher living standards to the whole population of New Zealand. More and better schools and health services. More aged care and handicapped facilities. Better infrastructure, sporting, and leisure facilities.

As the economy grows, we all benefit.Clive Bibby

It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group.- Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified. But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

Irrespective of where you sit in the mandated vaccination debate, it is an extreme level of government coercion. Some of us will roll with it. In fact, close to 90% of the eligible population has done what the government has asked of it. But enforced coercion must be proportionate to the level of risk to public health and this is where the case for the mandated vaccination enters murky ground for those who gathered outside Parliament. The vaccine will stop our hospital system being swamped, but it doesn’t stop transmission.

You have both removed a citizen’s right to choose what is injected into their bloodstream and you have told them they will also get the virus. Are we really that surprised people have taken to the streets to oppose mandated vaccination? Has New Zealand society ever been this divided and this angry?  – Rachel Smalley

As I write this, the government hasn’t met with any of the protestors. Sure, some of the behaviour has been appalling and there are security issues, but few, if any, of the protestors would describe themselves as feeling recognised and free from prejudice. I don’t agree with their argument, but I support their right to be heard. And if you refuse to listen, the mob just keeps yelling.  Rachel Smalley

Two years into this pandemic, the government and many of its agencies are still heavily distracted by Covid. The focus remains laser-like on the virus, but the protests have shown us what happens when a government loses its peripheral vision across all of society. New Zealand is turning on itself. . . The government is throwing everything at containing the Covid monster but, in doing so, it has run the risk of fuelling another monster that is far, far harder to contain.   – Rachel Smalley

The fight is far from over. Trans activists wield an enormous amount of cultural power, and their ideology is far from discredited in the eyes of progressive politicians, delusional academics, and their media microphones. Many still insist that without sex change surgeries and life-long dependence on drugs, gender dysphoric children will kill themselves—and this threat packs potent power. Yet, from the British Isles to the Continent to the Nordic nations, people are beginning to wake up. Major medical institutions are beginning to put research over ideology. Each time this happens, trans activists lose power that they can never recover. And as the ugly and irreversible consequences of their delusional experiment become clearer, we can begin to hope that their narrative will implode sooner than seemed possible only a short time ago.

For the sake of the children being inducted into lives of perpetual medicalization, I desperately hope so.  – Jonathon Van Maren 

Truth is never absolute. We should be inherently wary of those who proclaim a particular viewpoint – political, religious, or otherwise – with a ferocity that tolerates no possibility of an alternative view, let alone that it may contain some points of validity.

Unfortunately, we live in circumstances where not only has truth become absolute, but also where virtually any actions in defence of that new absolute are considered acceptable. In nearly every aspect of today’s society, reason and considered debate are giving way to uncompromising absolutes, with little room for the traditional middle ground between them. – Peter Dunne

 There is a new vehemence abroad that accepts no good in any contrary view and no acceptable justification in any stand or action taken to promote that view. Because the particular view being expressed is considered to be wrong, all those who hold or even dally with it are mercilessly scorned and vigorously condemned.

The bigger picture, beyond this protest, and beyond Covid-19, is far more disturbing. Something is seriously wrong when protestors can see threatening to execute politicians and journalists because they disagree with them as legitimate. Equally, when political leaders can justify not being willing to engage in any form of dialogue with the protestors simply because they do not like the views they are expressing smacks of high-handed intolerance. It suggests our capacity for rational discourse and reasoned debate about a controversial issue has broken down completely. More worryingly, the vehemence of expression on both sides of the argument makes it difficult to see how differences of this type can ever be resolved constructively while such polarised positions and mistrust endure. – Peter Dunne

Having tasted attention and notoriety this way, the mob will not be easily dissuaded from similar action the next time an issue that riles them arises. We need to redefine the rules of social engagement in such circumstances, in a way that brings respect, reason and debate, rather than abusive slogans and haranguing, back to the forefront of public discourse. However unacceptable or offensive they may consider the views of the protestors, political leaders cannot remain haughtily detached, hiding behind civil authorities such as the police.

At its heart good leadership is about engagement – hearing from and listening to the disparate views of the community at large and then acting in a considered way in response. Good leadership is not simply telling people what to do and expecting unquestioning compliance. It also means having the courage to acknowledge the diversity of public opinion and its right to be expressed.

Personally distasteful it may feel, our political leaders across the spectrum need to initiate some form of dialogue with protest leaders to ease tensions and limit future recurrences. Otherwise, like Covid-19 itself, the new intolerance now emerging will, to our collective detriment, quickly become endemic. Peter Dunne

The transfer of sympathy from the victims of crime to the criminal has been going on for a long time. This transfer is now taken as a sign of broadmindedness and moral generosity, marking out the intellectual from the general run of prejudiced, thoughtless or censorious persons. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is hardly surprising criminals take advantage of a tendency among the educated to view them as the victims of their own conduct. The criminals may be ignorant, ill-educated and foolish, but they are not therefore stupid. They know the emotional and intellectual weaknesses of their enemies or opponents and are prepared to exploit them.Theodore Dalrymple

The root cause of crime is the decision to commit it: indeed, without such a decision, there is, or ought to be, no crime to answer. Of course, human decisions are affected by many factors, among them (but not exclusively) the likely adverse legal consequences for the people who make them. – Theodore Dalrymple

A fascinating political and sociological fault line has opened up – one that defies the normal understanding of New Zealand’s political dynamics. People at the bottom of the heap, as political scientist Bryce Edwards describes them – many of them working-class and provincial, with no formal organisational structure – have risen up in defiance of the all-powerful political class, the urban elites who are accustomed to calling the shots and controlling political discourse. I would guess most of the protesters outside Parliament have not previously been politically active and may not feel allegiance to any particular party. They appear to be angry about a number of things.  Covid-19 and the vaccination mandate galvanised them into action, but it’s possible there are deeper, less easily articulated grievances – such as perceptions of powerlessness and exclusion – simmering beneath the surface. – Karl du Fresne

 Most commentators in the mainstream media are framing the occupation of the parliamentary lawn as being orchestrated by sinister right-wing extremists, and therefore devoid of any legitimacy. How paper-thin their tolerance of the right to dissent has proved to be. The clear implication (where it’s not explicitly stated) is that the occupation is not a legitimate expression of the right to protest by sincerely motivated New Zealanders who present no threat to anyone, but an alarming phenomenon driven by alt-right agitators with an ulterior agenda. But there’s a very marked discrepancy between reports from people who have actually been on the ground at Molesworth St, who generally describe the event as peaceful and good-natured, and those who make judgments from afar and take refuge in simplistic stereotypes about the type of people who are protesting. – Karl du Fresne

I get the distinct impression that politicians from all the parties in Parliament, even ACT, feel threatened by this sudden gesture of assertiveness by the great unwashed and don’t know how to handle it. MPs have done themselves no favours by refusing to engage with the protesters. For one thing, it looks cowardly; for another, it reinforces the perception that the politicians prefer to remain isolated in their bubble rather than sully themselves by talking to a bunch of scruffs who dared to challenge the political consensus. Unusually, this protest is a rebuke to the entire political establishment, which the politicians probably find unsettling because it’s outside their realm of experience.  But they need to get off their high horse; the people standing in the mud outside Parliament are New Zealanders, after all. – Karl du Fresne

As part of the Parliament protest there are conspiracy theorists trying to take advantage to sell their wares, offensive signs, threatening language, destruction of property, and abuse of bystanders and local business.  None of this is okay.

Some use these reasons to treat protestors like they are deplorables; to argue that because some of the group are like this, none of the group should be listened to. But, as we saw in Trump’s America, the deplorables have a vote just like the intellectuals. And they have some valid grievances.Brigitte Morten

No politicians, from any party, have met with the protestors. They are too scared of media reporting contact by them with protestors as if it signified anti-vax sentiment. That is not fanciful. It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group. – Brigitte Morten

There is no such thing as a ‘right to protest’. In our Bill of Rights there are rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. But not explicitly to protest. There is no unfettered right for the protestors to camp on the lawns or increasingly block more roads in the Wellington CBD.

In the same way the government was not able to hold Aucklanders in lockdown as long as they wanted because people simply would not comply; the protestors will also lose empathy for their cause if they continue their hinderance of Wellingtonians for too long. You cannot argue the government mandates unfairly treated destroyed your livelihood while destroying the livelihoods of the businesses surrounding Parliament. The social contract goes both ways. – Brigitte Morten

Those calling for the Police to forcibly remove people from Parliament grounds underestimate how difficult this will be. If the current protesters are violently suppressed, the conspiracy claims of far right inspiration will become real. Thousands of previously apolitical New Zealanders will have seen that our democracy has no place for them, and the language of force is all that is left if they are not to be oppressed indefinitely. – Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified.

But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

 What are the building blocks of democracy? As “anti-mandate” protesters camp on Parliament grounds and images of police versus protesters fill our newsfeeds, it’s a timely reminder that trust, transparency, informed debate and respect for our civil institutions underpin a healthy democracy.

Beyond the many humanitarian and economic costs due to Covid, we cannot afford democracy and social cohesion to become casualties. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Trust in the political process has progressively fallen, the manipulation of information, the emergence of alternative facts, the blatant loss of transparency and respect for the truth are all features of many so-called democracies. Sir Peter Gluckman

Democracy has always depended on the integrity of both policy and political institutions and transparency in policymaking and knowledge. It requires ideas and policy to be contested civilly both through an informed and empowered opposition and an engaged civil society with the assistance of a robust fourth estate. From Plato’s thinking onwards, an honest and well-informed electorate has been central to effective democracy. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Arguably, there have been other costs, including democracy as an institution itself. There is a sense that decisions have been made without the deep oversight of Parliament and the plurality of external voices that makes for a quality democracy. Issues over Covid testing date well over a year now, including severe criticism from the Auditor-General over contracts, and now the availability of rapid antigen tests. There remains uncertainty about the rationale behind those decisions.

Crisis management is always best served by contesting ideas and approaches before decisions are made. In the private sector and military, “red teams” are commonly used to explore alternatives and ask frank questions of those managing the response. The furore about the role of the private sector and how its operational expertise could be of value has been evident since early in the pandemic and the next phase of the pandemic will be even more complex.Sir Peter Gluckman

Sustaining trust and cohesion is hard and requires real efforts to reinforce transparency and promote open discussion on difficult matters. This involves respecting the value of diverse inputs and avoiding any sense of Government abdicating accountability through confusing language. An informed electorate, open discourse, empowered citizens, and respect for the institutions of civic society are some of the greatest assets New Zealand could have. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Prognostication’s a curse. You can see the train wreck coming, you can shout about it, but you just can’t convince an utterly useless government to do a damned thing about it. 

Bit of a shame that the Herald piece didn’t mention that all of this was entirely predictable, was predicted, and could have been avoided by contracting for more capacity with a testing lab that wasn’t running pooled samples. Eric Crampton

Dismissive arrogance towards the protesters at Parliament is making the situation worse.

That’s not just Parliament’s high-handed approach. Opinion pieces and public sentiment that mock and sneer at people’s sincerely held beliefs serves to isolate those in our community who reckon the Government has got it wrong. – David Fisher

These are just some of the chisels placed in cracks in our civil society. And then the pandemic came along, bringing anxiety, fear and uncertainty and smashed them like a sledgehammer. It caused industries to collapse, businesses and jobs to go, people’s dreams and hopes to disappear. Across our society, there is tension and, among many, the vacuum of despair.

That’s the hole dis/misinformation filled. That’s how it became possible for some people to self-radicalise and how it led to the protest at Parliament.David Fisher

With such absolute surety on both sides, arguing over who is right and who is wrong is pointless. Rational argument and discussion has little place here. Those who have committed to their respective positions will not shift.

To dismiss those people – as the Prime Minister does by citing our 95 per cent vaccination rate – is wrong. To mock those people, as some in Parliament have done, is worse. Isolation is a classic part of the radicalisation process. The further and harder you push people away, the more fixed they become. – David Fisher

For every person that did make the journey, there are many others who wished they were there. They are people who stayed home and expected when they came out it would be over, who got their jabs and then thought that would be it, who had children stuck overseas, who knew someone who couldn’t go to their mother’s funeral, who lost their house when they lost their job. – David Fisher

The way out of the protest is not through the protest but with the protest. Rather than dismiss the protesters, recognise that the views they hold are genuine and hard-earned. Recognise they dedicated considerable thought to their views and adopted a stance that is honest and principled.

Having done so, recognise too that it is the one thing on which we disagree that is making it difficult to see what we like about each other. Finding a circuit-breaker to do that is hard but necessary.

Ultimately, most of those on Parliament’s forecourt want the same thing as those inside Parliament’s walls – for New Zealand to be a free and open democracy in which we are able to live our lives in the best way possible, subject to the freedoms enjoyed by each other.- David Fisher

For me, that’s been one of the interesting little hypocrisies in this whole episode. On one hand, politicians wanted to take a moralistic high ground by refusing to meet with protesters. How dare anyone dignify them with a response?! Only the moralistic high ground apparently didn’t apply to the Speaker, his sprinklers, and his irritating playlist.

Trevor Mallard’s efforts can only have served to antagonise the protesters. And every bit of scorn and hate hurled upon them only reinforces their self-image. The team of five million? Ha. This rabble, confused, misled, and deluded as they may be, felt well and truly left out of the team of five million. They joined together to protest precisely because they felt like outsiders. They felt ostracised. Very little from the past 10 days will have changed their minds. – Jack Tame

Yes, there were terrible, hateful, threatening messages. As far as I’m concerned, anyone making death threats should have been arrested immediately. But in this morass of different grievances and complaints are some very reasonable and articulate concerns around extraordinary state mandates. Personally, I don’t know why any right-thinking person who was only protesting the mandates would choose to stay and be associated
with someone making death threats. But the mandate issue is worthy of protest. I don’t agree with the protesters, but they do have a right to be heard. – Jack Tame

Hindsight is a very effective strategist, but there is one moment police may look back upon as the lost opportunity to nip the anti-mandate protests at Parliament in the bud.

That was on the afternoon of the first day the protesters arrived – Tuesday nearly two weeks ago. Claire Trevett

The poor old police in particular have been made to look like laughing stocks. They appear to have severely underestimated the size and intent of the protest group, despite the social media that prefaced it.

There have been moments that have begged to be lampooned. High among them was Police Commissioner Andrew Coster’s so-called towing crackdown.

Coster did not front publicly until Tuesday – a week after the protesters arrived. He said the protest was now “untenable” and put protesters on notice that if they did not move their cars, the towing would begin the next day. He also admitted they could not find towies to do the job, and the Army didn’t have the right equipment.

The next day the only car that was actually towed was a police car, which had a flat tyre. – Claire Trevett

The protesters have not made serious attempts to storm Parliament, beyond a brief flurry at the very start. Coster’s “de-escalation” strategy appears to be police-speak for hoping like hell the protesters stay that way. Claire Trevett

But the protest has long gone past the point at which police could simply wade into it and break it up. Coster has set out why: moving in with force at this point would be very ugly indeed.

Consent – the consent of the protesters rather than the wider public – is pretty much the only option left. – Claire Trevett

There is a danger the inhabitants of the parliamentary precinct have spent the week missing the wood for the trees. In focusing on the protesters directly in front of them, they seem oblivious to a much bigger mood shift that’s going on around the country.

What if what they are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg?Steven Joyce

There is, however, a large and growing group of New Zealanders who have had their lives severely disrupted by the Government’s actions “for the greater good”, who are sick of having their plight ignored.

And there is a big bunch more who have had a gutsful of the ever-changing rules and restrictions in the face of what they see as a very mild strain of Covid-19. It is these larger groups the Government should be most worried about.

The evidence of discontent and disagreement is growing all around us. – Steven Joyce

 The Covid response has created many losers. We’ve rightly talked a lot about the people caught on the wrong side of the border. But they are not the only ones.

Anyone who owns or works in a hospitality business or a small retail shop is another. People working in tourism or international education have been in a world of woe. Young people have had their education disrupted and their sporting dreams curtailed.

There are people living in pain because their elective surgery or cancer treatment has been postponed to the never-never. They have all been stopped from doing things which were previously part of normal life. Covid has whipped the rug out from under them.

It is perhaps not surprising when so many have had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own, that a few will turn to conspiracy theories and the like.Steven Joyce

The Government certainly didn’t create the pandemic, but some of their actions have made it much worse than it needed to be. The vaccination delays, the inexplicable obstinacy against new forms of testing, the failure to increase hospital capacity, the layers upon layers of levels, traffic lights and stages which make people’s heads spin. – Steven Joyce

Then there are all the other tone-deaf announcements that heap insult on injury. What planet would you have to be on to think that whacking small businesses with a 6 per cent minimum wage increase and a new social insurance tax, plus the spectre of centralised wage negotiations, were good ideas now?

Why would you think that announcing a $15 billion light rail project for a privileged few in Auckland makes any sense when you are racking up debt all over the place that the next generation is going to be lumbered with? And at the same time as there is a real question mark over the future of commuting as we knew it?

And why would you be consulting on tighter immigration, visitor and student controls when your biggest problem after some pretty shoddy treatment amid two years of closed borders will be persuading enough people to come here?Steven Joyce

The Government’s dogmatic determination to continue with a policy programme made instantly out of date by the pandemic indicates the same lack of flexible thinking apparent in their Covid response. They expect everyone else to adjust and cope but they intend to sail on, determined to do things they thought of six or seven years ago irrespective of current circumstances.

And their blind loyalty to the Ministry of Health and its Director-General is a sight to behold. Dr Bloomfield has been politically dissembling at best about his organisation’s confiscation of RAT test orders. In any other Government he would have been carpeted and there would be talk of resignation. – Steven Joyce

The country’s mood is darkening, and in dismissing the protesters and their motivations, the Prime Minister and her MPs are giving the appearance that they are dismissing all the concerns people are raising, or even just quietly thinking about.

I can’t tell the Government how to get the protesters to go home, although firing Trevor Mallard would probably help. I suspect in the meantime the numbers will only grow.

Ministers need to lift their sights and focus on the wider discontent among the public outside Wellington and outside the Bowen triangle.

If ministers showed a willingness to genuinely listen, adjust their policy response, and convince Kiwis they both care about and will mitigate the disruption in people’s lives, then they can right the ship. At that point the protest will also probably peter out. If they don’t, then a few hundred assorted protesters and conspiracy theorists camped on the lawn at Parliament will be the least of their problems.Steven Joyce

I would say there’s probably a three-tier mandate. So the hairy shirt level is employment and losing your job, the next level down is the irritation level of not being able to do stuff you want to do, and then the third level down, which I think to be perfectly honest probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, is a kind of mandate creep where we’ve been trying to really encourage secondary school students in that 12 to 17 year old age group to step up and get their doses which they have,” McIntyre said.

But schools have overinterpreted that and are imposing all these unnecessary restrictions on kids in that age group, not being able to play sport, not being able to go and participate in school activities, and it’s all because of their parents’ decisions which they are being punished for,” he said.

And let’s face it, you know, even if they are vaccinated, they are mixing with a whole group of other kids who are very low risk and they’re incredibly low risk now they’ve had their two doses, so I think particularly that third group, the kind of mandate that should never have been there in the first place, so I think that’s really an important one to tackle first. – Peter McIntyre

Why has a school been denied tests whilst it seeks to protect the health & safety of its own students & parents? Why has the government interfered with the contract? Our politicians and public officials would tell you that it has to do with things like MedSafe Approval – that health & safety red-tape is necessary when importing medical-related products.

However, that’s just one half of the truth. The other half is that our government has a very strong ideological problem with private sector involvement in the health-care sector.Robert MacCulloch

Yes, the government doesn’t want buyers & sellers which it doesn’t control coming together to do deals together in the health-sector. Although they say its about public health, it’s equally as much about ideology. Labour has an anti-privatization philosophy. At present, in the context of virus-testing, that philosophy has just become a health hazard. – Robert MacCulloch

Largely Covid-free, New Zealand has been viewed as a paradise for much of the last two years. Jacinda Ardern, already considered by many the Mother Teresa of the Antipodes, excelled in the early stages, acting decisively and with compassion. Appealing to the population to act as one, her “Team of Five Million” approach did wonders for national unity at a time when most other leaders were floundering and failing. No wonder I voted for her – twice.

But times have changed. Once saintly, Jacinda now appears merely silly, having led New Zealand to a place that looks more like a smug cul-de-sac than a nation wholly reliant on overseas tourism and trade. Then again, long-term strategic thinking was never a feature of her government’s Covid response, with “elimination” taking precedence over vaccination for much of 2021.   – Joanna Grochowicz

Not that anyone in New Zealand is really focusing on what she got wrong. Ardern’s $55 million (£27m) sweetener in the form of the Public Interest Journalism Fund has enabled her government to exert tremendous influence over private sector media outlets, as well as tightly control-messaging through state media channels. So much so that any coverage critical of Ardern now originates from pundits in Australia or Britain. Most recently, opposition leader David Seymour had to turn to the Daily Mail to get an opinion piece printed. This is when silly starts looking sinister.

If democracy is built on the ability to question those in power and hold them to account, then the Kiwi media are wholly complicit in Ardern’s swing from immaculate heart to autocrat. The major opposition party National have only made their job easier by offering nothing more headline-grabbing than leadership squabbles. Then again, the opposition’s perceived infighting might just be the PM’s grand media bribe in action. Gosh, she’s good!  – Joanna Grochowicz

Nobody can see the silent assassin at work next door; nor the mental health crisis her government’s Covid response has unleashed on New Zealand, where youth suicide rates are already the highest in the developed world. It certainly doesn’t fit the image of the leader I voted for – the young woman breastfeeding her new born at the UN General Assembly, the compassionate leader who offered succour to survivors of 2019’s Christchurch massacre. Here was a rare thing! A leader who understood both grand gestures and nuance.

Of course, there is nothing nuanced about Ardern’s shameless Covid scare tactics. They’ve worked a treat, keeping the public vehemently opposed to opening the country’s borders, and compliant in the face of tyrannical restrictions even as the rest of the world is emerging from crisis. Especially when combined with the bread of endlessly extended wage subsidies; and circuses in the form of a parade of overseas DJs, sports teams and stage shows that have breezed in without needing to enter the dreaded MIQ lottery.Joanna Grochowicz

Her latest diversion has worked. Terrifying the Team of Five Million, and focusing their fear and loathing on outsiders importing pestilence into paradise, is a highly effective strategy – if a little lacking in originality. Despots for thousands of years have deployed such methods to distract their subjects from something infinitely more damaging to long-term wellbeing – an unchallenged leader.

Ardern’s lack of transparency runs deep. One example, the He Puapua report currently before her Cabinet, was hidden from former coalition partner, New Zealand First. Finally outed as a result of an Official Information Act request, the report recommends a raft of co-governance structures along racial lines. – Joanna Grochowicz

Already, we are witnessing the corrosive impact of these policies and plans on national unity; and yet these issues and many others are being decided behind closed doors, with no regard for democratic process. Governments do this all the time, right? At least, oppressive regimes do.

What’s particularly galling for me is the mind control Ardern has exerted over the population. Coming back here, I’m shocked at how few have lost their faith, and baffled by the self-congratulatory mood that pervades the country. After two years of sermonising from Ardern and nowhere to drink other than from the government fountainhead, New Zealanders have turned into a nation of self-congratulatory, cavorting maenads.

Mea culpa. In voting for Mother Teresa, I unwittingly ushered Caligula into office. The parallels are there: noble and moderate for a period, admired all over the world “from the rising to the setting sun”. Our esteemed leader has become self-absorbed, cruel and dangerous. Where’s it all leading? I’d love to know, but getting to the truth in New Zealand is a tricky business nowadays. I prefer my chances at the London bacchanal – there at least I can be assured in vino veritas!Joanna Grochowicz

There are, of course, complaints and complaints. Some are purely individual or egotistical, but some point to general problems that affect many other people or the whole of society itself. A complaint is then emblematic of something beyond itself and may even become socially useful or necessary. Complaint that is merely about oneself is often akin to whining, and often serves to justify descent into the psychological swamp of resentful self-pity. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is thus an asymmetry between complaint and gratitude: one complains when things don’t work as they should, but one feels no gratitude when they do. There is a similar asymmetry where human rights are concerned: you complain when they are violated but are not grateful for receiving your due.

Perhaps this explains why people seem so angry all the time despite the unprecedented physical ease of their lives. As we grow ever more technically sophisticated as a society, but individually dependent upon mechanisms of whose workings we have not the faintest idea, we come to expect life to proceed like a hot knife proceeds through butter. When things go wrong – the computer crashes, the train is late, the car won’t start, the gutter is blocked, the bank’s website has a temporary problem, the promised delivery doesn’t arrive – we feel a quite disproportionate despair because of our expectations, though the inconvenience we suffer as a result is trivial by comparison with the kind of problems and deprivations that our forebears had to endure even within living memory, and did so with more equanimity than we can muster.Theodore Dalrymple

It is now almost impossible to remain out of range of those with whom we would rather have no contact. Future generations will never know the joys of being incommunicado. The world is too much with us, wrote Wordsworth getting and spending – and that was in 1802! It is not too much with us now; it is with us perpetually, all the time. – Theodore Dalrymple

On the other hand, recognition of what is and is not within our control is an important manifestation of maturity. How far that control extends was the most important intellectual quarrel of the twentieth century, with extremists arguing either that nothing in a man’s life, or alternatively that everything, was under his control. The extreme positions obviate the need for judgment of individual cases, which Hippocrates told us (in the medical context) is difficult. However, that something is difficult does not go to show that it can or ought to be dispensed with. Life is not the passage of a hot knife through butter. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those MPs who are refusing to even meet with the protesters, seem to have forgotten that they were elected to listen to the concerns of constituents and represent their views in Parliament.

Not only have our political elite shown themselves to be tone deaf about the protest, they also appear to be equally uninformed about Omicron, which is now sweeping through the country at a great rate of knots. – Muriel Newman

The political elite in Wellington have misjudged the situation by maligning and dismissing the protesters. Their misrepresentation of those who are standing up for what they believe, will simply harden their resolve, and result in more good Kiwis like Sir Russell Coutts going to Wellington to support a movement that is aimed at ending forced vaccinations and restoring human rights, dignity, and the freedom of choice for New Zealanders. Muriel Newman

We live in a community. Obligations to one another flow from that. At the same time, obligations must be checked by individual freedoms because it is almost impossible for an individual to opt out. The law follows you to the boundaries of the State. Civilised societies try to find the right balance between communal obligations and individual freedoms. People tend to gravitate to societies which are relatively skewed towards individual freedoms. Migration flows speak to that. Empirically, such societies are also the most prosperous. Individual freedoms and prosperity move in sync. – Peter Smith

There is no opposition among the major political parties on combatting the virus, as there isn’t any more on combatting so-called “climate change.” In such circumstances despotism flourishes.

Media today verses yesterday: For sure, much more leftness, greenness, feminisation and callowness; but, dwarfing all of these pernicious trends is a precipitous fall in questioning curiosity, objectivity and common sense. Shows no signs of reversing. – Peter Smith

There’s something symbiotic about the protestors outside Parliament Buildings and the ministers inside who won’t talk to them. Both are motley, arrogant and short-sighted; they radiate confusion and specialize in messaging that is hard to understand. Virtually everything ministers have promised over the last four and a half years has crumpled in their hands, from building 100,000 new houses, abolishing homelessness, lifting people out of poverty, improving education, fixing the country’s creaking infrastructure, and enhancing race relations that have never been in a worse state. – Michael Bassett

The protestors are similarly confused on everything from a clear purpose through to whether they even want to talk to those who don’t want to talk to them. Most in this diverse assemblage of New Zealand’s modern underclass are engaged in a rumble with an “up you” message to the rest of us. As well, there’s a thin layer of brighter ideologues who are worried about the creeping shroud of authoritarianism that Jacinda Ardern is encasing us in. But, for the most part the IQ level on both sides is about equal. Some protestors would have happily joined Trump’s January 2021 Capitol riot; others are drawing welfare rather than having any work obligations. Both sides are mostly on the public payroll. The current ministers have similarly impoverished educational backgrounds and narrow life experience. Both sides seem ill-equipped to talk to produce a constructive dialogue, even if anyone wanted to.Michael Bassett

The Prime Ministerial complaint appears to be that anti-mandate protests are acceptable, but anti-vaccine protesters were beyond some imaginary red line and thus were not to be tolerated.

But – and I realise this will come to as a shock to a few in the Beehive and those who pander to them – our political elites do not get to define the boundaries of legitimate dissent. –  Damien Grant

What the prime minister meant, I suspect, is it isn’t how she and her cohort of performance revolutionaries choose to conduct themselves, where the object was to get the Instagram photo and move on somewhere comfortable for a soy latte and vegan muffin. Getting mud on your designer clothing was to be avoided and being arrested was definitely not on the cards. Thank you very much.Damien Grant

There is a qualitative difference between the theatre of protest and the real thing. Those who marched in Auckland in support of Black Lives Matter or against Donald Trump in the Women’s March after his election, were engaging in performative protest.

Their lives were not impacted, they had no expectation of effecting change, and the wrong being committed was happening in another country. This isn’t to diminish the significance of the issues or the genuine feelings of those who turned out, but we should not confuse these marchers with those who stood in the field at Rugby Park in Hamilton wearing helmets. – Damien Grant

Yet we understand that florid language is the last recourse of the powerless, a final act of impotent defiance against the relentless power of the state. To point at the weakest member of our community, whose pitiful status is the result of your policies, and feign outrage as he scribbles pathetically in chalk is a weak moral position.

It makes sense that Trevor Mallard put on the sprinklers and played bad music at the crowd, because such a strategy would have deterred him and his parliamentary colleagues. Demonstrations were to be done only in fine weather and during gentlemen’s hours.Damien Grant

Those who refuse the vaccines do so for a variety of complex reasons, but if you are willing to lose your career rather than take the jab, then we need to acknowledge that this belief is genuine, if mistaken. But then, many believe all sorts of things are bad for them, from religion to a liking for craft beer.

If you believe that mRNA is going to rewire your genetics, you are not going to take the vaccine no matter how drastic the consequences, despite the fact that you, like me, have no idea what mRNA is.

The solution for most of us, when faced with the mandates, is to submit, whether we want it or not; but not everyone is built this way. Throughout history, we see examples of people taking strange ideological positions and being willing to suffer great hardship rather than compromise. – Damien Grant

But within the makeup of humanity, there is a small percentage willing to die for their beliefs and a larger cohort willing to stand in solidarity in the rain and muck of the parliamentary grounds to defy these mandates.

The prime minister is stuck. She cannot negotiate. She cannot back down. She needs to look upon those on the lawn and despair – for those rabble are the captains now. For as long as they can remain in place, they are the story.Damien Grant

Rather than hailing the achievements of the Labour-led government’s management of the covid crisis, this left should have been decrying the government’s lack of an economic programme for those hurting due to the exacerbation of poverty and inequality. – John A.Z. Moore

What I’ve seen at Ministry of Health level borders on incompetent, and no one is taking advice that in any way shifts their thinking.Ian Taylor

The emergency legislation in response to Covid-19 giving our Government the right to control our freedom of movement is no longer demonstrably justified in removing the fundamental rights to which New Zealanders are entitled.  –  Lady Deborah Chambers

However, section 5 in operation appears to be interpreted as broad enough to drive several trucks through. Our Government has removed our fundamental freedom of movement in a way that no other previous government has done. If the Government’s actions are justified under section 5, then that section needs to be narrowed and strengthened. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The incessant and futile attempts to impose Covid-19 zero strategies will continue to fall away against the inevitable path towards endemic Covid-19. The never-ending onslaught of emergency powers and inane rules should be replaced now with sensible precautions, encouraged but not legislated by the Government, with an ongoing concentration of treatments, vaccinations, and health resourcing.

Instead, our Government has continued – against international trends – to impose even more draconian measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

It is not justified to restrict the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders when we know that it is only a particular group in our community who are vulnerable to a low risk of death from this disease. The better approach in terms of human rights is that citizens who are vulnerable be more cautious and aware. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The average age of Covid deaths is still higher than the average life expectancy. We do not need a government to talk to us like we are 5-year-olds over these risk factors. New Zealanders know them. New Zealanders know whether they are part of a vulnerable group and should be trusted to act accordingly and take that into account in the decisions they make about their lives without having the Government use that as an excuse to become authoritarian. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Thirdly, the emergency regulations taking away our freedom of movement fail to properly balance social, educational, economic, and even other medical damage in favour of an obsessive focus on Covid-19 to the exclusion of all else. This is why health bureaucrats and epidemiologists should only ever have been a key source of advice, not dictators of Government policy.

I do not doubt that the Government genuinely thinks it is taking these extreme measures for all the right reasons, but the Government’s rulemaking is no longer proportionate to the risk and does not meet the requirements of the section 5 exemption. The “nanny knows best routine” is no longer justified.

Fourthly, to those who say that our Government’s refrain that they are entitled to claim credit for “keeping people safe” and go even further and demand a continuation of this protection pretense, I say this: It is not the Government’s role to attempt to prevent all death at any cost. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Part of the reason large elements of the public are entranced by the unachievable goal of permanent insulation from Covid-19 is that our politicians have raised expectations that our Government cannot meet by using paranoia and political one-upmanship.

Some New Zealanders will not be happy until they ruin another school year or chalk up another $60 billion in debt and ruin the early careers of so many young people weighing them down with taxation for decades to come. Those views are not a justification for overriding the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders.

If you are very risk-averse, then the answer is simple: you choose to take the steps you wish to take to avoid infection. The answer is not that our Government removes fundamental freedoms by emergency regulations when we are now in a very different position from when we first faced Covid-19 without vaccines, little knowledge, and a much stronger variant.

Our leaders assure us we are no longer in elimination mode. They urged us to get vaccinated so we could dispense with the restrictions on our fundamental freedoms, but still, we are overwhelmed with onerous and illogical rules and restrictions. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Most media are addicted to Covid-19 catastrophism, down-playing or ignoring the social and economic costs. Fear is even better than sex at selling newspapers. Oppositions have been too timid to call it out, preferring to profit from outrage and trepidation, preferring to complain about a bungled vaccination rollout when we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and one of the lowest fatality rates.

It is time we elevated civil rights as a key component to decision-making. So far, the influence of the Bill of Rights has been zip.  – Lady Deborah Chambers

The pandemic has provided a stress test for the freedom of movement guaranteed to us and the results are not pretty.

The most common way people give up their rights is by thinking that they do not have any. New Zealanders should be justifiably proud and be prepared to defend the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It is time we did.

Nothing strengthens authoritarianism so much as silence. – Lady Deborah Chambers

The rule of law needs to be respected and upheld. Should people reach the view they are not bound by it and the right to protest is unlimited, chaos would eventually descend upon us. It is a slippery slope. . . 

While the Bill of Rights reinforces the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement, none of these rights is absolute.Sir Geoffrey Palmer

When Labour governments run out of ideas they have usually resorted to centralisation and more controls. In its final term, Peter Fraser’s ministry that had been one of the most creative in New Zealand’s history, centralised as tired ministers hoped their trusted bureaucrats would keep Labour’s faltering show on the road. The ministries of Walter Nash, Norman Kirk and Bill Rowling followed similar paths. Jacinda Ardern’s government, you’ll recall, had very little policy to start with. So little in fact that when it came to office in 2017 it had to set up more than two hundred committees and inquiries to tell it what to think and do. The results were pitiful. Almost no Kiwibuild houses were constructed, homeless numbers increased, poverty figures rose rather than declined, educational achievement standards kept slipping against other countries, and major infrastructure construction fell well behind schedule. Whenever criticised, rookie ministers blamed the previous government, and then Covid. Message? Centralising everything can’t compensate for the absence of carefully-thought-through policy. – Michael Bassett

Despite their lack of specific policies, they had ever-so-itchy fingers. They engaged across a wide front tinkering with everything in sight, thinking some ancient Labour dogma overlaid with a big dose of special privilege for Maori would fix things. The public hospital structure had been set in place by Helen Clark’s ministry. It is only twenty years old, but it is now being turned on its head for no good reason except that a more centralized system makes it easier to favour Maori. Health Department officials who have been under huge stress coping with Covid are also having to restructure a hospital system that wasn’t broken. Nor is there anything so wrong with water and drainage services nationally that they require Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters in the form set out in her current proposals. Her centralizing scheme seems to have only one over-arching purpose: control by Maori. Meanwhile, the school history curriculum is being restructured with one special purpose in mind: teaching a bogus version of New Zealand history to school kids about the Treaty of Waitangi. Making Labour’s centralisation work certainly keeps officials busy. Wellington has become a gigantic Lego-fest.Michael Bassett

Over the years, the best ideas behind successful government schemes have always taken time to germinate. If they are specific to places or regions there has to be buy-in from locals who will benefit. And the best way to test the extent of that buy-in is to expect the same locals to own the project and pay the lion’s share. Centralizing everything always means bureaucracy and waste. But then, Jacinda’s ministry is so other worldly that they don’t know these stark realities. Her government is too expensive to indulge any further. – Michael Bassett 

Compulsory wokeness, for example, has had limited success in healing division; while classifying people by what they say, rather than what they do, has not promoted much virtue.

State management of the economy to reduce instability and help the weak now threatens long-run productivity growth.  Meanwhile, support for decarbonisation evaporates as life-changing costs become transparent.   

And the taking by the state of ever-wider powers to regulate our lives to make us better people increasingly creates more problems than it solves. Oblivious of how it looks, we find the most ardent defenders of civil liberties yearning for extraordinary powers.Point of Order

There’s an unmistakeable note of panic in the posturing of the woke Left. They suddenly realise they no longer control the public debate and are wildly lashing out at the scruffy mob that usurped their right to make a nuisance of themselves. How dare they! – Karl du Fresne

The level of condescension and intellectual snobbery on display from people who think of themselves as liberal has been breathtaking. The tone has alternated between sneering at this supposedly feral underclass and alarm at their sudden, forceful presence on the national stage – a stage the wokeists are accustomed to hogging for themselves.Karl du Fresne

Oddly enough, we never hear experts on Morning Report expressing alarm about people being radicalised by the extreme Left, although it’s been happening for decades at the taxpayers’ expense and has succeeded in transforming New Zealand into a country that some of us barely recognise.

Similarly, we should conclude that ideological manipulation is a problem if it’s practised on an ignorant lumpenproletariat, but not when it happens to gullible middle-class students in university lecture theatres, where it flourishes unchallenged. – Karl du Fresne

What we can infer from this barrage of anti-Camp Freedom propaganda is that the woke Left is terrified of losing the initiative in the culture wars. It’s desperate to reclaim its sole right to lecture the rest of us and wants to do so without the distraction of an unruly mob that has the effrontery to adopt the Left’s own tactics.

The irony here is that having spent most of their lives kicking against the establishment, the wokeists are the establishment. They have won the big ideological wars and are on the same side as all the institutions of power and influence: the government, the bureaucracy, the media, academia, the arts and even the craven business sector.

The dissenters, disrupters and challengers of the status quo – in other words the people protesting outside Parliament – are the new radicals. This requires the moralisers of the Left to recalibrate their political thinking, and I get the impression it’s more than some of them can cope with.Karl du Fresne

An unprovoked attack on a peaceful, democratic neighbour has not happened in Europe since World War II. It is a barbaric act that could take us into a dark age. It shakes the foundations of the international order and the world economy.

With the fall of Communism, there was hope for a new, liberal world order. Globalisation was spreading, as was democracy. There was a peace dividend in the form of reduced military spending and less need for autarky, especially in energy. It was the supposed ‘end of history’. – Oliver Hartwich

If the West needed a final wake-up call, this is it. If those who believe in liberal democracy, civil liberties, free markets and the rule of law still care about their values, this is the time to defend them.

Talk of solidarity with Ukraine is good, but it can only be hollow. There is no way to come to Ukraine’s military defence without provoking an even bigger war.

What the free and democratic world must do urgently is to reconnect with its own fundamental values. That requires a reality check. – Oliver Hartwich

We must rediscover the cultural and political foundations of our civilisation. It is the Enlightenment values of freedom and peace that we must defend against illiberalism, both at home and abroad.

It is a historic moment. But it is our choice how to respond to it.Oliver Hartwich

They say having a baby changes what you value and it’s true. I want more for our country now. Nine months ago, a politician could’ve convinced me with a tax break. But now, I want to know that politician has a plan to keep New Zealand as wonderful as it was for us to grow up in. I want to know that our schools are world-class, that our jobs pay well and that our cities are good places to live. I want this boy to want to live here, in the same country as his mum and dad, and never leave for a better lifestyle in Sydney and London and New York. I want things that benefit all Kiwis, because what is good for all Kiwis is good for him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A commonality of skin color and associated facial features is as nothing compared to the fact that human beings of all races share the faculty of reason. The former may allow for an interesting group photo once in a while.

The latter is what underlies the accumulation and application of knowledge and gives to the members of all races the ability to produce the goods and services that the members of all races need and desire. – George Reisman


Rural round-up

03/03/2022

IPCC report condemns forestry use planned by NZ – Dame Anne Salmond:

If ever there was doubt NZ had gone up a blind climate alley by moving towards large plantings of pine trees, the latest international scientists’ report has firmly laid that to rest, writes Dame Anne Salmond.

It is now beyond doubt that New Zealand’s primary strategy for tackling climate change – offsetting through the Emissions Trading Scheme, with the financial incentives it gives to the large-scale planting of monocultures of exotic pine trees – runs in the opposite direction to international scientific advice.

In the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR6) report, for instance, released yesterday, the practice of “planting large scale non-native monocultures, which would lead to loss of biodiversity and poor climate change resilience” was placed among the ‘Worst Practices and Negative Adaptation Trade-offs’ for temperate forests.

By way of contrast, to  “maintain or restore natural species and structural diversity, leading to more diverse and resilient systems” was placed among the ‘Best Practices and Adaptation Benefits’, with very high impacts. . . 

NZ’s economic outlook is given a lift as dairy prices rise again – Point of Order:

Dairy prices have  hit  a  new  peak at  Fonterra’s Global Dairy Trade  auction.  The GDT index shot up 5.1% to an average price of US$5,065 (NZ$7,509). Whole milk powder rose 5.7% to US$4,757 a tonne while cheddar rocketed up 10.9% to $6,394.

Butter prices gained 5.9% to an average US$7086/tonne, anhydrous milk fat 2.1% to US$7048/tonne and butter milk powder firmed 5.8% to US$4217/tonne. Skim milk  powder was  up 4.7% to US$4481/ tonne.

“This train isn’t slowing down,” said NZX dairy insights manager Stuart Davison.

Other  business-sector commentators  see  the  boom in the dairy  sector   injecting  new  strength into  the  economy at a  time  when it is badly  needed, with  other sectors  like international tourism  and  hospitality hard hit  by the Covid pandemic.

Bidding at  the  auction was  fierce, driven by the  tight supply   position,  as well  as  Russia’s war  on Ukraine. . . 

Good news to wake up to for farmers and growers :

The early morning signing of a free trade deal between the United Kingdom and New Zealand means farmers and growers can wake up with a smile this morning.

Federated Farmers national president and trade spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says with the world the way it is right now, this trade deal gives us reason to be reassured good things do still happen.

“With everything going on in Europe, in the hospitals and health centres, and even on the steps of our own Parliament, it’s reassuring to see this deal signed and sealed,” he says.

The free trade deal will result in the full liberalisation of all trade between New Zealand and the United Kingdom. . .

More international dairy farm workers available soon :

Federated Farmers is pleased to see more international dairy farm workers will be able to cross the border for the 2022 dairy season.

“Farms are short thousands of staff and with continued low domestic unemployment, workers from overseas are the only option to plug the gaps in many parts of New Zealand,” Federated Farmers National Board member and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Many dairy farms are desperate to get teams back up to strength prior to calving and today’s announcement will provide a measure of relief.”

The industry, farmers and the government have done all they can to attract and retain Kiwi workers in the industry, but the need for international labour remains. . . 

Cauliflower selling for nearly $15  :

Bad weather affecting crops has led to a shortage of cauliflower causing a spike in prices.

Some consumers have taken to social media expressing outrage at seeing cauliflower for nearly $15.

United Fresh president Jerry Prendergas said heavy rain in November saturated crops and affected new plantings. . . 

Clever Canterbury sheep smashing stereotypes by smashing smarts :

A sheep in suburban Christchurch is doing its bit to show just how smart a sheep can be.

Lucky, who is six years old, and originally from a farm in Burke’s Pass in South Canterbury, knows a few tricks.

In fact, he knows so many tricks that his owner Caroline Thomson needs a list to keep track of them all.

“He does sit, bow, turn, back, shake, stay, jump, pose, pose is his favourite, through, so that’s when he’ll go under something, wait, go to bed. Now go-to-bed he learnt by getting feijoas, feijoa is his most favourite food. If you give him a feijoa it’s instant,” Thomson said. . . 

Brazil’s beef industry starts to tackle methane emissions – Michael Pooler and Carolina Ingizza:

New farming practices could help the country achieve one of its COP26 promises.

On his ranch in the state of Mato Grosso, deep in Brazil’s agricultural belt, Raul Almeida Moraes Neto has spent the past six years breaking new ground in cattle farming. In the name of sustainable husbandry, the trained agronomist has been undertaking a series of measures to lessen his environmental impact. A small portion of his property near the municipality of Torixoréu has been dedicated to “intensification”, with 15 animals per hectare, instead of fewer than one. Slaughter takes place at 18 months, rather than at 30. Breeding happens at a younger age, too. “It takes less time to produce the same amount of meat, but it emits less methane,” explains the 52-year-old, who has been in the business since 2000.

In the name of sustainable husbandry, the trained agronomist has been undertaking a series of measures to lessen his environmental impact. . .


Rural round-up

28/02/2022

Push continues for land use ‘fair and even playing field’ :

Federated Farmers believes new requirements announced today for overseas investors buying New Zealand farmland for forestry are encouraging but are only step one of a suite of changes required.

“For years Feds and other organisations have been calling for a reversal of rules that exempt overseas buyers intending to convert our farmland into forestry from the ‘proof of benefit to New Zealand’ requirements that apply when buyers intend continuing farm production land use,” Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson William Beetham says.

“That chorus has grown ever louder as tens of thousands of hectares of productive farmland are blanketed in pine trees, in large part because of the chase for carbon credit revenue.

“We’re glad the government is listening and taking action. But more must be done,” William says. . .

Fonterra lifts milk payout forecast to record level – but farmers will be soured if govt demands their herds be culled – Point of Order:

Dairy  giant Fonterra has lifted its 2021/22 forecast farmgate milk price range to $9.30 – $9.90kg/MS, up from its previous forecast of $8.90 – $9.50.

This increases the midpoint of the range, at which farmers are paid, by 40c to $9.60 – easily the highest on record.

At that level, Fonterra estimates that the milk price  payout will contribute $14bn this season to the NZ economy.

Truly  exciting times for the dairy industry and  rural regions.  They  have  become  even more  important, as a  key prop to the economy  through the Covid pandemic, because of the  loss of  earnings from the international tourism  and  hospitality industries. . . 

Free trade area could help post Covid recovery – Sudesh Kissun:

Moves to bring all free trade deals in Asia Pacific into one ‘free trade area’ could help countries like New Zealand bounce back from Covid, according to trade expert Stephen Jacobi.

He says, if achieved, it would mean trade rules around the region would be harmonised.

“NZ’s agriculture and horticulture exporters would face fewer barriers and be able to do business more easily and cheaply,” he told Rural News. “It would be just the thing to help us bounce back from Covid.”

The Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) was discussed at the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting in Singapore two weeks ago. . . .

Women landing rural laboring jobs and loving it – Karen Coltman:

Campaigns to attract female butchers, fruit harvesters, farm machine operators, shearers and dairy farmers are in full swing across the country as employers face a labour shortage.

DairyNZ has launched a recruitment campaign fronted by Eastern Bay of Plenty dairy farmer Shannon Munro.

Munro says that as a young, Māori woman, she was proud to be presenting a different face to dairy farming and to be associated with the campaign.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle ​says the sector is between 4000 to 6000 workers short for the coming dairy season. . .

Halter plans to start selling its high-tech cow collars to Canterbury farmers after raising $32 Million – Bonnie Flaws:

Farming technology company Halter, which sells high-tech collars to manage and monitor dairy herds remotely, is using a $32 million of new investment funding to expand into Canterbury.

Halter is a solar-powered GPS enabled smart collar, which guides cows around a farm using sound and vibrations, allowing farmers to automate herd movements and create virtual fences. The technology can also tell a farmer when a cow is hurt or on heat.

The compamy has has been operating commercially in Waikato since early last year, working with farmers to make improvements to its halters, and since raising new capital in April has been working towards its Canterbury launch.

Chief executive Craig Piggott said word of mouth had driven significant demand in the region ahead of the November launch. . . .

 

Thumbs up from Feds on rural broadband upgrade :

The announcement of a big push to upgrade capacity on congested rural broadband networks gets a big thumbs up from Federated Farmers.

“Every year Feds surveys members on broadband and cellphone coverage in rural areas, to gather data on the worst blackspots and inform our advocacy to government,” Federated Farmers NZ President and telecommunications spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“The frustration of farming families whose businesses, distance education and everyday activities are hampered by poor or sometimes non-existent services comes through loud and clear.

“So news that upgrades to existing cell towers and construction of new towers should see 47,000 rural households and businesses experience faster internet speeds and better reception by the end of 2024 will come as a relief.” . .

NZ 2021 Young Horticulturist announced:

For the third consecutive time, a viticulturist has won the Young Horticulturist ((Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) competition.

Blenheim’s Rhys Hall,28, who works in Waihopai Valley as assistant vineyard manager for Indevin, took out the top title after intense competition that ended on Wednesday. Rhys has worked at this company – a leading producer of high-quality NZ wine – for five years, starting as a vineyard worker, then viticulture technician before promoting to his current job two years’ ago. He has a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in plant science from Massey University.

In winning the grand award, Rhys follows in the footsteps of Simon Gourley, and before that, Annabel Bulk. Both those viticulturists were based in Central Otago when announced as competition winners. . . 


Rural round-up

23/02/2022

Baa humbug! Demand for sheep milk is “booming” but taxpayers are being milked to help a Maori collective invest in the industry – Point of Order:

As Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor has dipped into one of the troughs in his bailiwick to nurture a Maori sheep-milk enterprise.  As Minister of Rural Affairs, he has declared a medium-scale adverse event in cyclone-battered bits of the North Island.

This declaration (he announced) enabled the government to dip into other troughs to provide support for farmers and growers hit by the storms.

For starters, a modest – almost trifling – sum of $200,000 was made available for local Rural Support Trusts and Mayoral Relief Funds to use to help recovery efforts in Taranaki, Wairarapa, and the Waitomo district.

Damien O’Connor popped up again to announce state support for Māori landowners to invest in New Zealand’s rapidly growing sheep milk industry. . . 

Council-farmer bond important – Jessica Marshall:

The relationship between council and farmers is important, says outgoing Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips.

“I’ve always had a clear view that… we’ve got some regulatory responsibilities but actually we are focused on improving outcomes, we can’t do that without a good relationship with farmers,” Phillips told Dairy News after announcing that he will retire from the role in May.

That relationship hasn’t been without its tensions with some farmers, he says, but overall it’s been a positive one.

“I think if you look at some of the things we’ve done, we’ve changed our compliance activities, putting some emphasis on shed talks and those types of things.” . . .

‘We desperately need a bigger harvest in 2022’ – NZ Winegrowers :

The first grapes of the 2022 vintage have been picked and winegrowers are hoping for good yields as they try to replenish their cellars.

Last year’s harvest was 20 percent smaller than the previous year, forcing wineries to draw down on stocks to maintain their place in overseas markets.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said its members were feeling nervous heading into this crucial time of the year.

“This stock drawdown highlights that we desperately need a bigger harvest in 2022, to replenish cellars, and help satisfy international demand,” he said. . . 

Stonefruit picked for food banks – Tracie Barrett :

The saying goes that when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade, but for orchardist Lars Molving, the fruit in question would be apricots.

Mr Molving’s main fruit crop is cherries, but he also has 100 to 120 Nevis apricot trees, which in the past have been picked by staff from Jackson Orchards and sold at their roadside stall.

Bumper crops this year meant the apricots were not needed by Jackson’s, so Mr Molving’s wife, Felicity Pugh, looked at who might be able to take them for foodbanks.

The couple contacted the Salvation Army in Alexandra, the Cromwell Foodbank and KiwiHarvest, a logistics and distribution agency that collects food that might otherwise go to waste and delivers it to foodbanks and service agencies. . . .

Blackcurrant molecule packs brain-boosting punch – Richard Rennie:

New Zealand blackcurrants are proving to hold a secret ingredient that helps maintain healthy brains and deliver significantly increased values to the country’s small group of growers. Richard Rennie spoke to Canterbury agronomist Jim Grierson about the brain boost delivered by blackberries.

Almost 30 years ago, Auckland University health researcher Dr Jian Guan identified the molecule cyclic Glycine-Proline (cGP) as a key brain nutrient that normalises a hormone known as IGF-1, essential for body health.

She found its presence contributed to improved health outcomes for people suffering from a number of age-related neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia. Keeping IGF-1 levels maintained through old age can help retain cognitive function.

Unknown to her, but about the same time blackcurrant growers were researching the key health compounds in their crop. . .

NZ seed exports holding up 22 February 2022 :

Despite ongoing COVID pandemic complications and shipping challenges, New Zealand’s seed exports are holding up well.

Over 55,000 tonnes or the equivalent of around 2750 shipping containers of high quality specialty seed was sent to over 70 international markets, worth more than $236m (FoB) in calendar year 2021, according to latest StatsNZ’s Overseas Trade Statistics.

Export revenue for the year ended December 2021 was 5% lower than a year earlier.

Around half of NZ seed exports by value go to the Netherlands (22%), Australia (11%), Germany (10%), and USA (8%). . . 


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