Presbyterian approach to recovery prudent

December 24, 2013

The ODT opines:

Even though the Treasury forecasts have been notoriously cautious for many years, there is a general feeling within the business and economic communities that New Zealand is about to start a purple patch of economic growth.

With the economy set to grow by 3.6% in the coming financial year, followed by annual growth of between 2.1% and 2.4% for the following two years, New Zealand’s economy may well be the envy of many in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development. Mr English is rated with restoring the Crown accounts to surplus and doing more than his fair share of the heavy lifting on policy by the publication Trans Tasman. The deputy prime minister has driven reform in the state sector to use resources more effectively and deliver higher quality services. In the House, he has become a commanding performer, blunting Opposition attacks. . .

In past times of good fortune, government finance ministers have come under strong pressure to try to ensure re-election by making big-spending election promises. Those times have hopefully passed. The importance of having a sound economy, the growing of employment, certainty for businesses and households must overshadow the individual ambitions of politicians. . .

We must take the opportunity the sunnier outlook provides to make hay and put away a good harvest like good ants rather than squander it like grasshoppers.

The Southland Times also combines praise with the need for caution:

A slew of economic reports in the past week or two have shown an ever-sunnier view ahead for New Zealand, and especially Otago and Southland.

Business New Zealand’s latest surveys of services and manufacturing sectors showed strong expansion under way across the country but with stellar scores Otago-Southland region far eclipsing all other regions. In Westpac’s survey of regional economic confidence Southland scored second highest. . .

It is not hard to pick the source of the extra optimism here in the south. Take a bow, Mrs Cow. . .

The glow from the white gold is spreading throughout the economy, earning money and creating jobs not just on-farm but in servicing and supplying them and the people who live on them.

Treasury is forecasting economic growth next year of 3.6 per cent.

Barely a day later Statistics NZ announced that a 17 per cent surge in agricultural production had helped growth to hit 3.5 per cent already. Higher than Australia.

We can laugh at that, but it should be remembered that it is not unusual for New Zealand to grow faster than Australia, or even beat them at cricket. The problem is that it always proves a one-off. While the Kiwi economy puts on bursts of speed, the Aussie trucks along steadily and just like the fabled tortoise, wins the race.

Just as on the rugby field, the champion team is the one that performs consistently, week-in, week-out, not the one that plays the occasional blinder, then falls apart a week later. Graphs of New Zealand’s growth rate tend to be too much like Fiordland’s landscape: leaping and plunging in a fashion adventure tourism operators might appreciate but stolid Southlanders should not.

In the past, the attitude of both individuals and Governments has all too often been “Great! Crisis over. Lets go back to the bad habits that created it.”

That would be easy and wrong, not just for individuals but the country.

That is an important  message for the run-up to next year’s election.

A change in government would undo all the good that’s been done and take us back to the over taxing, over spending policies of the Labour-led government which put the country into recession before the rest of the world.

We still carry too much debt. We continue to run nasty current account deficits. And the evidence is that Aucklanders at least have not yet cured their mania for property bubbles.

It is easy to go on a diet, to quit smoking, to start saving for the future. The harder part is to keep doing it. The reward for losing a kilogram is a cream cake. And all too quickly, the old habits return.

The secret to sustained economic success is not a bottle of miracle oil, or a lucky puff of the economic trade winds. It is discipline and perseverance.

Solid southern men and women know that. We should set an example for those northerly types: eat the cupcake, but sell the cream.

We can celebrate the purple patch but can’t afford to squander the opportunities it will provide to strengthen the economy and help people most in need.

As the ODT says:

. . . Balancing the budget is important. Taking on less debt is important. Ensuring business confidence leads to job growth is important. Ensuring social justice remains a key part of the country’s psyche is important. Mr English knows the challenges. In 2014, he must balance the needs of the Government with the needs of the people.

A Presbyterian approach to the recovery is prudent and necessary to ensure we don’t return to the bad habits of the past and to provide weather-proofing to help us withstand the next storms.

The need for this isn’t just economic but social. A strong economy is the only sustainable way to provide first-world health, education and other services that address the needs of the people.


We’re in the final

October 19, 2012

Twelve months is a long time in rugby.

A year ago Otago was in the doldrums, tonight the team beat Tasman 41 – 34 to secure a spot in the final.

Is it too much to hope that Southland will beat Counties Manakau tomorrow to provide a Southern showdown and give Otago a home final?

 


North soaked, south parched

January 5, 2012

While the north has had an excess of wet weather and holiday makers in the southern South Island have been enjoying the sun, farmers in Southland are desperate for rain.

The lush Southland landscape is rapidly turning lifeless and brown.

Dairy farmers are using their winter feed as summer crops fail to sprout, water deliveries to homes are increasing, river levels are dropping and volunteers are rescuing trapped trout as ponds dry out.

As some Southlanders anxiously wait for rain, they have had to take drastic measures to keep their farms and homes running, and as the prospect of rain looks bleak, some farmers have started to panic.

When you’re used to stretches of weeks, sometimes months, without significant rainfalls as we are in North Otago, it is easy to think the Southlanders are over-reacting.

But if you depend on frequent rain as they do there, relatively short stretches of dry weather is as serious as far longer dry spells for us.


A tale of two headlines

July 23, 2011

The Press: Southland lift Ranfurly Shield – last minute drop goal steals shield

Southland Times: Southland’s shield again – late drop-goal gets Stags up


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.


Untrue colours

May 30, 2011

Towards the end of my time at high school the board decided on a uniform change.

The grey gym frock which we wore with short sleeved shirts and socks in summer and long sleeved shirts and black tights in winters was to be replaced with a red tartan kilt in winter and a blue dress in summer.

“Blue? Why blue when the school colours were red and black?” we asked.

Those on the right side of the Waitaki River who are interested in rugby, and some who are not, are asking a similar question today: green, why green?

The question comes in response to the decision to change the Highlanders’ jersey from blue, gold and maroon the colours of Otago, North Otago and Southland, to green the colour of um, the grass they play on and some other province.

Respondents to an ODT poll have voted 90% (1321) to 10% (148) to keep the southern colours.

The Facebook page has attracted 1,853 likes and lots of comments including this from National’s Dunedin MP (and rugby referee) Michael Woodhouse:

 . . .  As for this happening because of the many players drafted in from outside the franchise area – sorry to be blunt but it’s not about you! You will leave. The fans won’t. this is about the thousands of fans who support this team through thick and thin over the past 15 years. Not a single one of them relates to anything but blue, maroon and gold. C’mon guys, be big enough to stop or reverse the announcement.

And an online petition has been launched saying:

Tradition and recognition is a huge part of the sport and yet the Highlanders Management seek to dissociate the Highlanders from the region. Sign this petition and Boycott the Force game!

The Highlanders have struggled for several seasons, severely testing the loyalty of fans. This year they’ve had some good wins and have been  regaining  support. This silly change in colours threatens to lose it again.

Have the people behind it spent too much time at the bottom of rucks?


North Otago won – now it’s Southland’s turn

October 9, 2010

North Otago leads the Heartland rugby race for the Meads Cup after a 21-16 win against W(h)anganui in Oamaru this afternoon.

Pleased as I am about that, I won’t be celebrating until the end of the Ranfurly Shield challenge tonight.

I’d back Canterbury against any team from the north but my first allegiance is with teams from the right side of the Waitaki River so I’m hoping Southland holds tight to the shield tonight.

UPDATE: 26-16. Ah well, at least the shield is still on the Mainland.


Southland deserves to keep the shield – Updated

September 23, 2010

If ever a province deserved to win the Ranfurly Shield it was Southland.

The excitement when the Stags beat Canterbury last year infected Invercargill and the hinterland and the people have stayed behind the team.

It’s been a really tough week in the south, holding on to the shield would mean much more to Southlanders than winning it would to Aucklanders.

If it came to community support the challengers wouldn’t have a chance and the defenders know that. They’ll be playing their hearts out.

UPDATE: 9-6 to Southland. Phew!


Go Otaaaaago

August 7, 2010

The Waitaki River has been not just a geographic boundary, it has also marked an historical, social, cultural and – at times – political division between Otago and Canterbury .

However, those of us on the right side of the Waitaki accept that those on the other side are South Islanders and we’ll back them against any but our own.

The relationship between Otago and Southland is much closer. We rarely regard each other as rivals and many of us would be hard pressed to say exactly where the boundary between the two provinces is.

The battles of one are the battles of both – as witnessed by the combined action by both provinces backed by the ODT and Southland Times to keep neurological services in Dunedin.

If either Southland or Otago was playing Canterbury, or any other team, for the Ranfurly Shield tonight we’d have no doubt about which team we wanted to win.

But as Otago prepares to challenge Southland for the shield the rivalry is friendlier. 

I say go Otaaago and Brunette is backing the boys from further south.

But while blue and gold supporters want their team to win and maroon and gold fans are right behind theirs, deep down there’s a feeling that as long as the shield stays on the right side of the Waitaki, it doesn’t really matter which team holds it.


North Otago vs Southland

July 9, 2010

North Otago’s experience with Ranfurly Shield challenges is not a happy one.

The Oamaru Mail records:

1938  lost to Otago 12-0; 1946 lost to Southland `5-3; 1947 lost to Otago 42 -3; 1971 lost to Canterbury 14-0; 1973 lost to Malborough 26 -9; 1974 lost to South Canterbury 9-3; 1983 lost to Canterbury 88-0; 1993 lost to Auckland 139 -5; 2000 lost to Waikato 95-17; 2003 lost to Canterbury 85-24; 2008 lost to Auckland 113 -3.

Even the most ardent North Otago fans aren’t expecting miracles when the team meets Southland at Rugby Park tonight but they are expecting fun.

One of our staff manages the North Otago team and presented one of our Southland staff with a North Otago jacket when he was up here on Wednesday. The Southlander has promised to wear it, though he’ll also be wearing his Stags’ hat and scarf.

The whole Southland province has embraced its shield win with enthusiasm and there’s a sell-out crowd for tonight’s game. Regardless of the result, rugby may really be the winner.

UPDATE: The ODt interviews Doug Grant who played for North Otago in the 1971 shield challenge against a Canterbury team fielding 11 All Blacks with another in the reserves.


Too much of a good thing

April 26, 2010

While we’re still enjoying a steady drizzle in North Otago, Southlanders are facing floods.

If only Mother Nature was a little more moderate with her largesse – rain is good, but you can have too much of a good thing when it comes in large amounts in a relatively short time.


It was a case of vendor beware

March 4, 2010

When we got an offer for a Southland farm we’d had on the market from a Maori trust supposedly backed by money from Dubai the real estate agent warned us not to take it.

We took his advice.

The trust had planned to buy 28 farms and was offering well above the going price. The ODT reported last week that they’d scaled their plan back to 10 farms and today reports that the whole deal appears to have fallen over.

When the province’s two big rural real estate firms, PGG Wrightson and Southern Wide, wouldn’t have anything to do with the deals it was a pretty clear signal to be wary.

It’s a pity the other real estate agents weren’t so careful although the vendors should have known that anything which sounds too good to be true almost always is and they should have been beware too.

Farm sales have been slow but now that these ridiculous offers are out of the way some genuine buyers with real money may come forward with more realistic offers.


Vendor beware

December 19, 2009

It’s usually the buyer who needs to beware, but Federated Farmers is cautioning would be farm sellers to  conduct strict due diligence before entering into sale and purchase agreements.

The warning follows news a trust which is thought to have backing from Dubai World has signed up 28 farms in Southland.

It goes against every commercial norm for major capital items to be sold on a ‘no-deposit’ basis and farms are as big a capital item as you can get,” says David Rose, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson. . .

“I must say that I am extremely nervous of reports that no-deposits are being taken. It’s pretty fundamental that a deposit be exchanged as a tangible sign of good faith.

“Our second concern relates to the financial backer being reported as Dubai World – the Emirates’ owned and controlled corporate lender.

“On 27 November, the Federation warned that Dubai World was close to defaulting on a substantial part of its $82 billion (US$60 billion) debt. Only on Monday, another Emirates, Abu Dhabi, injected US$10 billion in order to save Dubai World from an immediate default.

“Given these pressing business issues, we are naturally concerned that the supposed backer may not be prioritising the purchase of Southland farms. The fact that a reported deposit milestone has already been missed is further cause for alarm. . . “

Another factor which requires caution is the possible need for these purchases to go before the Overseas Investment Commission which could delay sales or derail them completely.


Sport talk

December 18, 2009

’tis the season for best and worst.

Best sporting feat of the year – Southland winning the Ranfurly Shield. I’m awarding that not for the match but the enthusiastic response of the province to winning it.

And worst? Does my failure to maintain last summer’s fitness for the whole year count?


Sport talk

December 11, 2009

*Lisa Tamati is nearly at the end of her goal to run the length of New Zealand in 33 days.

* A friend emailed us a photo captioned look what I got for my birthday, come and get it.

The photo showed him sitting beside this:

I suspect it will be the first of many taunts which come our way because North Otago will be the first to challenge Southland for the shield next year.

* Where’s the line between legitimate interest in a sporting figure’s private life and prurience and has it been crossed by the saturation coverage of Tiger Woods?


Reporter leaves geographical tracks

November 12, 2009

The headline says: Train leaves track leaving major line closed in Southland.

The story says:

A train left its tracks between Canterbury and Otago last night, flipping five of its carriages onto their sides.

 
Kiwirail engineers are working to right nine freight cars which derailed last night, closing the main line between Christchurch and Dunedin.

I don’t think it’s possible for a train to leave its tracks between Canterbury and Otago because they border each other at the Waitaki River.

The derailment must have happened in one province or the other and whichever it was the part of the line between Christchurch or Dunedin it happened on is well north of Southland.

Don’t reporters know New Zealand geogrpahy?

Aren’t subs supposed to correct these things?


Saturday’s smiles

November 7, 2009

Two blokes from Invercargill died and woke up in hell.

The next day the devil stopped in to check on them and saw them dressed  in swannies, mittens and balaclavas warming themselves around the fire.

The devil said, “What are you doing? Isn’t it hot enough for you?”

The blokes replied, “Well, you know, we’re from Invercargill, the land of snow and ice and cold. We’re just happy for a chance to warm up a little bit, eh.”

The devil decided that these two weren’t miserable enough and turned up the heat.

The next morning he stopped in again and there they were, still dressed in swannies, mittens and balaclavas. The devil asks them again, “It’s awfully hot down here, can’t you guys feel it?”

Again the two blokes replied, “Well, like we told ya yesterday, we’re from Invercargill, the land of snow and ice and cold. We’re just happy for a chance to warm up a little bit, eh.”

This got the devil a little steamed so he cranked the heat up as high as it would go. The people were wailing and screaming everywhere. He stopped by the room with the two guys from Invercargill and found them in “T” shirts, footie shorts and jandals drinking Speights and cooking a barbeque.

The devil was astonished, “Everyone down here is in abject misery, and you two seem to be enjoying ourselves.”

The two Southlanders replied, “Well, ya know, we don’t get too much warm weather down there in Invercargill so we’ve just got to have a cook-up when the weather’s this nice.”

The devil was absolutely furious then he came up with the answer. The two blokes
loved the heat because they’d been cold all their lives. The devil decided to turn all the heat off in hell.

The next morning, the temperature was below zero, icicles are hanging everywhere; people were shivering so badly that they are unable to do anything but wail, moan
and gnash their teeth.

The devil smiled and headed for the room with the two Southlanders. He got there and found them back in their swannies, mittens and balaclavas. They were also jumping up and down, cheering, yelling and screaming like mad men.

The devil was dumbfounded, “I don’t understand, when I turn up the heat you’re happy. Now it’s freezing cold and you’re still happy. What is wrong with you two?”

The Southlanders looked at the devil in surprise, “Well, don’t you know?  If hell freezes over, it must mean that Southland has won the Ranfurly Shield.


Sport talk

October 30, 2009

* Since rugby became professional Southland has lost many of its stars to other provinces. The grapevine tells me that  the Ranfurly Shield win may result in at least one or two of them coming home.

* Garrick Tremain’s cartoon in today’s ODT shows a reporter and camera man at the reception desk of the NZ Cricket Council.

The reporter says: We’d like to do interviews with the captain, the coach, the selector, psychologist, nutritionist, trainer and the coach driver pelase.

The receptionist is on the phone and says: Daniel . . . couple of gentlemen to see you.

* There’s a rugby match in Tokyo tomorrow.

* What’s up with netball?

If you have anything to say on these or other sporting matters this is your chance to do so.


Southland celebrates

October 28, 2009

They may not have the numbers found in provinces further north and even the most loyal Southlander would admit that they don’t always get the warmest of weather.

But Southland certainly knows how to celebrate.

The Southland Times covers yesterday’s Ranfurly Shield parade here.


Southland wins Ranfurly Shield – updated x2

October 22, 2009

 

Southland 9 Canterbury 3.

Update:

Someone who knows more about rugby may correct me but I think this is the first time the Ranfurly Shield’s been held on the right side of the Waitaki River since Otago lost it in 1957.

Update 2:

The Southland Times says it’s 50 years since Southland had the shield.

Then they held it for just one match. This time it’s theirs for at least the summer.


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