Alastair Scott Nat candidate for Wairarapa

26/04/2014

Alastair Scott has been selected by the National Party to contest the seat of Wairarapa.

Alastair Scott, 48, is owner and director of Wairarapa’s Matahiwi Estate winery. He is also Chairman of Henergy Cage Free Eggs, a director of Transpower, Councillor of Massey University, and Trustee of the Wairarapa Region Irrigation Trust and NZ Scout Youth Foundation.

His successful business career sits alongside a strong track record of community involvement as a founding Trustee of  ‘Kiwi Can’ Charitable Trust Wellington, Deputy Chair of the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce, and a Member of the Wairarapa Development Group.

Mr Scott is a father of three. He lives between residences in Masterton and Wellington with partner RobynNoble-Campbell and their blended family.

A successful business career and a strong track record of community involvement are far better credentials for an aspiring MP than most candidates standing for parties, and many sitting MPs,  on the left.


Alf’s office?

25/06/2010

We took the long way home from the Wairarapa yesterday, going via Bulls.

En route, we passed through Eketahuna, home of Alf Grumble MP.

I didn’t spot him in town, perhaps he was busy in Wellington.

But I did see this sign which I presume points to his office:

If it does, I presume if people turn left they’ll be right.


Will he be making his mark for Labour?

17/07/2009

The news that Ron Mark has severed his ties with New Zealand First, mentioned in the Herald yesterday, has been rumoured for some time.

What intrigued me was this comment that he :

. . . would not rule out returning to politics with another party.

The grapevine that spread the rumour about his leaving NZ First, also reckons he’s going to have a tilt at a mayoralty in the lower North Island then stand for Labour in the Wairarapa seat in 2011.


Comprehension test needed

29/10/2008

Dene Mackenzie uncovered this at a pub in Martinborough:

While most farmers were voting National on the electorate vote, some of those spoken to whispered in hushed tones that some of their “friends” actually voted Labour on the party vote.

Here is why.

Many of the long-time mortgage-free farming families had their assets in a trust.

They paid themselves a low salary, say $35,000, while still getting the benefits of living on the land.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen had generously topped up their salary through working for families.

Of course, none of those spoken to had ever received working for families, but their friends had and they were probably voting Labour on the party vote.

These people need a comprehension test before they vote.

First because National is going to keep WFF.

Second because policies which promote economic growth will enable more people to make more themselves than they’ll ever get from welfare and we’ll only get those policies with a National led government.

Wairapapa farmers have had some bad years and it didn’t help that last summer’s drought coincided with depressed sheep prices. But this is a sign of how pernicious welfare dependency is because if you’re in business and depending on WFF then whether or not you’ve got a trust, you’re going backwards and the country is too.


Russian Jack

09/08/2008

Friday’s poem, On the Swag, brought a comment from JC which I think deserves a post:

During the 50s and very early 60s, My parents and I were often on the road from Hawkes Bay to Wairarapa and Wellington going to all the A&P shows with my ponies and horses. We often saw Russian Jack on the road, said to be the last of the swaggers.

I remember being quite surprised at how my perception of what a swagger looked like compared to the reality. I could see very little romance in a life that required such an enormous amount of tackle that RJ carried about with him. There’s a picture of him here:

http://folksong.org.nz/russian_jack/56.html

Later, when I joined the Forest Service in 1963, I saw many older men arrive in camp who had something of the same stamp.. men, some of whom would arrive in an old pin striped suit to slash scrub and plant trees. They were good to us young guys and had many homilies to pass on.. until the weekend, and then you saw the reason.. they were monstrous alcoholics who started on Friday and then drank steadily in their huts all weekend. They sometimes became incontinent and were not pleasant to be around.

In a life of working the back country of the North Island, I’ve met many men and the odd woman with the stamp of the swagger/hermit.. people who preferred their own company who were allowed to settle somewhere, even in an old car body, and did enough local work for their beer and baccy. I suppose the most astonishing thing about them is how they were often good company, even if only for a little while.

I’ve never met a swagger, but JC’s story reminds me of Tom the fencer who came to work on Great Mercury Island when I lived there. He’d had an ininerant life, and had worked on many of the bigger farms around the North Island. He was a wonderful story teller and could yarn for hours so was good company if you didn’t mind his casual attitude to personal hygiene – although we know he washed his socks in the weeks he spent on the island because we saw him throw them over the verandah rails when it rained.


Which Province is NZ’s Food Bowl?

12/07/2008

If Waikato is the food bowl of New Zealand  as Lianne Dalziel said in justifying the appointment of former MP Dianne Yates to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Board, then the province needs to improve its marketing.

I’d have accepted the cream can or horse racing capital, but Waitako wouldn’t immediately come to mind if I was asked which province is the nation’s food bowl.

If we’re going for North Island entrants for the title Hawkes Bay with its wonderful fruit, vegetables, sea food and wine would be a finalist. The Bay of Plenty, Poverty Bay and Northland have a delicious range of fruit and vegetables too; and Wairarapa has wine and olives.

In the South Island, Central Otago can claim the country’s best stone fruit, it has pip fruit and wine too. Nelson and Malborough also grow tasty fruit and have delicious sea food and wine. Canterbury produces tasty fruit and good wine too.

Oysters put Southland on the list, though I’m not sure if swedes would be counted for or against them 🙂

Lamb is legend in Hawkes Bay, Canterbury and Southland, though just about anywhere in New Zealand grows it just as well, and the same can be said for beef.

North Otago may not spring to everyone’s mind as the culinary capital but we have a growing appreciation of our primary produce. There’s a fledging viticulture industry, and Fleurs Place at Moeraki has woken our taste buds to the delights of local fish and sea food. Just as the cold winters add intensity of flavour to Central’s stone fruit, the colder water enhances the flavour of fish, particularly blue cod.

Riverstone Kitchen , a finalist in the Cuisine restaurant of the Year, uses as much local produce as possible – including fruit, vegetables and herbs, from its own orchard and garden.

Wasabi is grown in the Waitaki Valley and it also produces very sweet strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, tayberries and boysenberries.

Whitestone Cheese has an array of national awards to back up my ever so slightly biased view that they produce the country’s best cheese.

Totara Lowlands  sells the most succulent cherries I have ever eaten – they don’t export so the pick of the crop is sold locally. Their hazelnuts and honey are also top quality.

While we’re in that part of the the district, Totara and nearby Kakanui are renowned for the vegetables from their market gardens and there are simply no better new potatoes in the world than those which grow here. They are no ordinary spuds, they’re more like underground strawberries.

If you don’t understand how proud North Otago would be if we were called the nation’s potato patch then you obviously haven’t tasted the Jersey Bennies which grow here.


Paying for hay because the sun shone too much

09/07/2008

The price of hay  has tripled to up to $14 a bale in areas hardest hit by last summer and autumn’s drought and baleage has more than doubled from $70 to $160.

Agribusiness consultant David Baker said dairy farmers, who have received record payouts, could afford to pay big prices being demanded for winter feed, and had pushed cash-strapped beef and sheep farmers out of the market.

“Those with dairy cows are paying, in some cases, as much as $21 to $28 per week per head of cattle for grazing.

“Those with beef cows just can’t match that, and many are being forced to get rid of their capital stock at the freezing works because the costs just do not stack up.

“There is a real sense of greed growing out there, as those with the land available for grazing deliberately set out to get top dollar from dairying at the expense of the beef and sheep farmer.”

When does a sensible commercial decision to take the best price become greed? Those with hay are in business too and know the wisdom of making money from hay while the financial sun shines. And dairy farmers won’t pay any more than they have to because the high price for milk is being tempered by rising prices of wages, fuel, power, fertiliser, feed and other inputs.

The lack of feed and the huge prices being asked is biting into farmers’ incomes.

For the past three years, Wairarapa hill country farmer Stu McKenzie has taken a financial battering, and the crisis on the farm on the back of double droughts is far from over.

Mr McKenzie, like other sheep and beef farmers in the worst hit areas in Waikato, Taranaki, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay, say the escalating feed prices had eaten into any profit.

He has lost more than $300,000 a year over the past three years. “I am paying up to $8 per head per week, where $3 was once the asking price. It does impact when you are talking about hundreds of cows being sent out, and it is not easy finding somewhere for them to go as dairy farmers snap up most of what is available.”

According to the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry, the drought will take away $1.24 billion from the farm gate this financial year.

It is difficult to sustain a big loss from one season, even if it is cushioned a little by capital gain. When it happens three years in a row it will be eating into equity and will out pace the rise in the price of land.

Farmers in areas where dairy conversion or support are options are doing the figures and getting out of sheep and beef or selling up altogether, but those options aren’t possible everywhere.

Making matters worse is below average rain in many of the drought affected regions. When we drove from Auckland to the fieldays paddocks which had been bare when we passed through in February, were looking good. But locals told us it was a green drought – there had been enough rain to give a bit of green but not to provide much cover.

As recession bites the dry weather and low incomes won’t just affect farmers and their communities, it will have an impact on the national economy too. But not all sheep farmers are struggling. Four of the last five tractors sold be a machinery dealer in Gore have gone to sheep farmers.


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