Running of the Wools

December 18, 2014

The Hilux New Zealand Rural Games will be starting with a baaaa:

A spectacle not seen in Queenstown for decades will be staged again next February as more than 300 merino sheep run through the town centre to herald the start of the inaugural Hilux New Zealand Rural Games over the Waitangi holiday weekend.

The ‘Running of the Wools’ is planned as a dramatic celebration of the region’s farming heritage evoking memories of early settlers and highlighting the merino’s continued importance to New Zealand’s rural economy. The free event takes place on Waitangi Day, Friday 6 February and is co-sponsored by the Otago Daily Times and clothing and gift retailer, Global Culture.

Beginning at midday, merinos will leave pens on Athol Street and run over the Ballarat Street bridge by the Village Green. They then turn right onto Camp Street before turning left into Beach Street and running all the way down to finish at Earnslaw Park.

Spectators will have plenty of opportunities along the barrier-lined route to witness a forgotten side of Queenstown’s history.

From the early settler period, sheep were regularly transported from surrounding high country stations into Queenstown, including some by barge across Lake Wakatipu, before continuing to Dunedin for processing and export.

All stock for the Running of the Wools are being transported via road by Northern Southland Transport. They include around 300 dry stock – merino whethers and ewes – from Mt Nicholas Station on the south side of Lake Wakatipu and around 50 horned rams from Bendigo Station near Tarras. Bendigo was home to the globally famous merino ram ‘Shrek’ who grew the world’s heaviest fleece while evading muster for several years.

merino(Bendigo merinos at home on the station)

 

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games founder and trustee, Steve Hollander said it was going to be an amazing spectacle for locals and visitors alike. “

This will be a sight to behold! It’s easy to forget that sheep farming powered Queenstown’s economy long before it became one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations,” he said. “The merino is a real symbol not only of that high country heritage but also of the huge contribution farming continues to make to our national economy. Just think of the global phenomenon of merino clothing that began right here in Otago and continues to grow.”

Mr Hollander said he hoped to make the Running of the Wools an annual event to tie in with the Games itself. The Hilux New Zealand Rural Games feature several national championships for sports including speed shearing, sheep dog trials, speed fencing, gumboot throwing and coal shovelling as well as four Highland Games ‘heavy’ events and the Trans-Tasman ANZAXE Wood Chopping Championship.

Entertainment on both days is provided by the Topp Twins who also open a live concert on the Saturday evening headlined by local country pop sensation, Jody Direen. Tickets for the two-day Games and concert are now sale via Ticket Direct. For more information visit the event website at www.ruralgames.co.nz.

The Rural Games aim to bring together the sports that built the nation:

At the heart of the Games are a series of traditional sports attracting top competitors from throughout New Zealand and Australia. You can expect to see several national and world champions battling for the first Hilux New Zealand Rural Games titles.

Together with Sport New Zealand and rural sports associations around NZ we’ve developed exciting new formats for competitive wood chopping, sheep shearing, sheep dog trials, speed fencing, coal shovelling, speed gold panning and other traditional sports. We’ll also be hosting the ANZAXE Wood Chopping Championship, Highland Games ‘heavy’ events and a feature event of the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest, the Silver Fern Farms Agri-Sport Challenge – always a crowd favourite!

As well as the competitive element, the Games will feature a fun-packed festival programme including a live concert featuring NZ country pop sensation Jody Direen, daily entertainment from the Topp Twins, fun participation events like cherry stone spitting and wine barrel racing, kids activities plus delicious local food and wine.

Rural sports organisations have their individual events across the country through out the year.

The Rural Games will bring them together in Queenstown with competitions for elite sports people. There will also be less serious sections for people from the crowd to take part in.

P.S. I chair the trust which is running the games.


Queenstown in world’s top 25 destinations

May 23, 2013

We were in Queenstown for a conference last week.

It was based at the Hilton which looks across Lake Wakatipu to the town.

Attendees came from all over the country and everyone I talked to was full of praise for the venue and its location.

A lot of other people appreciate the town and its attractions too – it’s been named one of the world’s Top 25 Travellers’ Choice Destinations by TripAdvisor.

As well as rising to 25th place on the international list, the four season lake and alpine resort was also named best destination in New Zealand and second best in the South Pacific.

The Travellers’ Choice Destinations awards honour top travel spots worldwide based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor travellers. Award winners were determined based on the popularity of destinations, taking into account travellers’ favourites and most highly rated places.

Destination Queenstown CEO Graham Budd was delighted with award and said it was a fantastic international achievement for the resort.

“We’re aware of the power of Trip Advisor in influencing the travelling community, so the news that Queenstown has been ranked by millions of travellers worldwide alongside cities like Paris, New York and London is a testament to the quality of our operators and the exceptional travel experience they deliver.” . .

We’ve been in Queenstown several times this year, which isn’t unusual, and even a reasonable familiarity with the area doesn’t dull its charms.


Rural round-up

August 20, 2012

Shipment of branded lamb sent to Brazil:

Alliance has broken new ground in South America with its first shipment of branded lamb to Brazil.

The shipment, supplied by Southland farms, will arrive in Brazil in the middle of next month.

The lamb will be sold in 120 stores in Brazilo’s biggest city, Sao Paulo, as well as restaurants and hotels. . .

World leading treatment of animals is aim of review:

Federated Farmers will continue to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), to ensure New Zealand’s farmers have the highest levels of practicable rules around animal welfare.

“I know good animal welfare pays you back commercially and is why animal welfare legislation and associated codes of welfare matter,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers joint animal welfare spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers is active with the MPI, in ensuring pastoral farmers treat our animals in a humane and ethical way. . .

Government imports 1,205 dairy animals to boost dairy industry:

Two shipments of 1,205 dairy animals from New Zealand arrived in Cagayan de Oro City on June 18 and July 30, 2012, which are now being quarantined at the Feedlot of Del Monte Philippines, Inc. in Manolo, Fortich, Bukidnon.

This is the 13th batch of animal importation spearheaded by the National Dairy Authority (NDA) to dramatically increase dairy production and address the urgent demand for milk and dairy products in the country.  . .

2012 Forest Industry Training Awards:

New Zealand’s forestry sector will need more skilled people over the next decade as technology continues to change, more areas of forest become available for harvest, and the environmental advantages of wood products are increasingly recognised.

Ian Boyd, CEO of the Forest Industry Training and Education Council (FITEC), in releasing the names of finalists for the industry’s 2012 training and education awards, said practically every work discipline is required across the wide range of forest and wood manufacturing operations.

A total of 30 finalists have been selected by independent judges for the 2012 forest industry awards which will be held in Rotorua on September 20. . .

New Zealand Wine: Positioned for the Future:

Wine exports reach $1.18 billion, up 8%Sales (domestic and export) total 242 million litres, up 10%Tight supply means focus on higher priced segmentsNew Zealand wine is well positioned for the future.

Tighter market conditions provide new opportunities for New Zealand wines according to the June year end 2012 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers.

‘The vibrant and distinctive qualities of New Zealand wines continue to resonate with consumers in our key markets. In the past year exports value grew 8% to $1.18 billion and international sales volumes have now lifted 79% since 2008 This strong sales performance combined with a smaller 2012 vintage means a changed supply/demand dynamic for the sector in the year ahead’said Stuart Smith, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. . .

Teppanyaki and Wagyu Beef On Menu in Queenstown:

A new Japanese and Teppanyaki restaurant to be launched in Queenstown early next month will also be the home of the highest quality Wagyu Beef available in New Zealand.

Kobe Cuisine will open at Queenstown’s five-star Millbrook Resort, in a building formerly occupied by Japanese restaurant Sala Sala.

Kobe Cuisine director Tony Lee said the combination of traditional Japanese cuisine, Teppanyaki grill, an à la carte Asian menu and the best quality‘fullblood’ Wagyu beef would all combine to offer the“best eating experience in the world”. . .


Ongoing saga of Easter trading

March 27, 2012

The Labour Department is reminding retailers they’re not supposed to trade on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Ho hum, here we go again.

The Biannual Warbirds Over Wanaka will attract thousands of people to the town.

They’ll be able to buy whatever’s on sale at the airport, in service stations, tourist shops and dairies but not buy exactly the same things in shops unless they pop over the hill to Queenstown where all shops are allowed to open.

This law is an ass.


Homes cost less, food costs more

June 21, 2011

A fall in house prices, record low mortgage interest rates and slow increases in wages and salaries slowly are making homes more affordable.

The Roost Home Loan affordability report for May showed that home loan affordability was at its best since April 2004.

The report calculates how much of a single median take-home income is required to service an 80% mortgage on a median-valued home.

Roost considers a mortgage unaffordable if servicing it requires 40% or more of one person’s median weekly take-home wage.

Queenstown was the least affordable place in the country with an affordability index of  79.3%. However, that’s still a lot better than it’s been:

Servicing a mortgage in Queenstown has become significantly more affordable in recent years, the report showed. A year ago it would have taken 111% of the median wage, with 120.1% required five years ago. The index reached its highest point of 154.3% in December 2005.

The most affordable place to own a home was Southland with an index of 28%.

While house prices and mortgage rates have declined, the price of food has been increasing. That is putting pressure on family budgets but it’s not a bad thing when we export so much of what we produce.

No-one likes paying more for food. But a reduction in interest rates leaves most people with more disposable income and therefore better able to cope with higher grocery prices and higher food prices mean better export returns.

That’s much better for the economy showing unsustainable consumption fuelled by taxing and borrowing is changing to savings, investment and export-led growth.


Maybe this time

August 5, 2010

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s bill on Easter trading laws was drawn from the Member’s Ballot in parliament today.

The Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Waitaki Easter Trading) Amendment Bill 2010 seeks to allow all retailers within districts covered by the Waitaki Electorate to trade on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It aims to address the anomaly that occurs within parts of the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago areas, where Queenstown has an exemption to trade over Easter, but other towns do not.

Mrs Dean said she believed her bill had the potential to create a new era for tourism retailers in her electorate.

“I made a commitment to the people that I represent that I would keep working on Easter trading until the law was changed. Today is the first step in that process and I am pleased and proud that we have reached this milestone.  

“I am taking a regional approach with my bill this time as the entire Waitaki Electorate relies heavily on tourism, and is a busy place over the Easter period.

“Despite setbacks in the past, I am now confident that we can successfully achieve Easter trading law changes which will mean that retailers in busy tourist towns, like Wanaka, can open their doors if and when they chose to do so.

“I am not about forcing people to open on Easter Sunday, but rather I want everyone to have the choice.

“I acknowledge that some people may not support my bill on religious grounds, but I believe the time has come to recognize that many people work over Easter in essential services like hospitals, police and the fire service, and they do so without adversely impacting on family life.

“In fact many young people in tourist towns like Wanaka see extra work over Easter as an opportunity to earn extra cash.

“I am hoping that Parliament will send the Waitaki Bill to select committee so that we can have a fresh look and an informed debate around the realities of commerce over Easter, and addressing the anomalies that exist in the present laws.

“I believe people are now ready for change and I am confident that I will get the support that I need to make these progressive changes happen.”

This is Jacqui’s second attempt to address the anomalies  in current law which enable shops in Queenstown to open but prevent  shops selling  the same thing a few kilometres over the hill in Wanaka from opening. The current law also enables some businesses, for example service stations to sell a range of items normally sold in supermarkets or book shops which can’t open.

Easter Sunday isn’t a public holiday and the proposed law change isn’t a threat to religion. The law and what it allow or disallows does not make a day holy.

Nor is the proposed change a threat to employees. They will not be forced tow ork and shops which prefer not to open will be free to stay closed.

The Bill is simply an attempt to get a common sense solution for a small part of the country and it will in effect be legalising what already happens because many Wanaka retailers open illegally and accept the costs as part of their costs.

Rotorua MP Todd McLay’s bill on Easter trading was lost by a handful of votes last year.


Health Boards’ merger less certain

December 15, 2009

Otago and Southland District Health Boards have been developing a closer relationship for some time.

They have a single chief executive and chair and have been consulting on a full merger.

Public meetings on the proposal haven’t been well attended which indicates people don’t have strong feelings on the issue.

The most heat about the the proposal was from Central Otago where people who are caught between board boundaries were in favour of the merge. They gave the example of someone in Queenstown who needs chemotherapy who has to go to Invercargill under the current structure but would be able to make the shorter journey to Dunstan Hospital if there was a single board.

However, Southland Hospital doctors wrote an open letter opposing the merger, just a day before submissions closed.

Dr Charles Lueker, who chairs the senior medical staff committee in Southland, said the letter was signed on behalf of “well over 90%” of senior doctors at Southland Hospital.

The doctors expressed concerns about services being centralised to Dunedin and the loss of the board’s advocacy for the people of Southland.

Reducing costs, sharing resources and providing more convenient service for many rural patients has a lot to recommend it.

It would be a pity if the merger which would do this was to fail at this late stage.


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