Rural round-up

April 22, 2018

Irrigration industry tries to fix bad boy image at conference :

The head of Irrigation New Zealand recognises the industry has garnered an image as the bad boys in the eyes of many, but they are working to fix it.

About 400 delegates have attended the Irrigation New Zealand conference in Alexandra this week, hearing what the future holds for the agricultural industry.

Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said restoring the public image of irrigators was a focus for the industry.

“We are at this crossroads and we have got to find a way forward,” he said. . . 

Landcorp deer milk turned into cosmetics and powder for high end restaurants – Jill Galloway:

Landcorp is milking 80 red deer to make milk powder for high end New Zealand restaurants and skin creams and other cosmetics for Asian markets.

The government’s farming company completed its second season of milking last month. and is due to start milking hinds again when they drop their fawns in November.

Innovation general manager Rob Ford said the hinds were in-fawn at the moment and were not being milked. “The season usually goes from November until February or mid March, the deer are milked twice a day, and the fawns are hand raised.” . . 

It’s time to be moving on – Louise Giltrap:

Parts of this column will sound like a repeat, not because I’m bored or have no opinion on anything, but simply because it’s that time of year.

It’s moving time, which means new jobs, new farms and new homes for some of you.

We have two of our family members on the move this season. Eldest daughter Courtney and her partner William are moving house on the same farm.

They contract milk for William’s parents and are making the move from the worker’s house into the main family home while William’s parents move into town. . . 

Red meat story coming to farmers soon:

We want to provide you with an update on the Red Meat Story, which aims to support the sector to capture greater returns from global markets for farmers.

Last Friday, Beef + Lamb New Zealand hosted a workshop where we presented industry partners with the New Zealand beef and lamb origin brand and a high-level “go to market” strategy.

The workshop included the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Damien O’Connor, the Meat Industry Association, NZ Trade and Enterprise, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, MPI, Tourism NZ, all major processing companies, and a number of farmers that have been involved in the development of the Red Meat Story. . . 

Salmon key to life for tribe – Hamish MacLean:

In a bid to return salmon to their sacred river, a California First Nations tribe yesterday visited the Hakataramea hatchery where the chinook salmon were first introduced to New Zealand rivers.

Winnemem Wintu hereditary chief and spiritual leader Caleen Sisk was in South Canterbury to learn the history of the Mchenrys Rd hatchery where McCloud River chinook salmon were released into the tributary of the Waitaki River in 1901. The tribe had a sacred connection to the salmon and like the fish, her people had suffered after settlers moved into the forests of northern California. . . 

 

Police join SafeWork campaign to stop quad deaths – Daniel Pedersen:

GRAHAM Brown knows well the dangers of a quad bike.

He was spraying a boundary fence on his property in 2015 when he “looked away at the wrong time, hit a piece of wood and went over.

“I knew I was gone, so I just grabbed hold of the handlebars and clung on,” he said this morning, as SafeWork NSW, NSW police and politicians spilled onto his Springside property to promote quad bike safety. . . 

 

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Rural round-up

April 1, 2018

Plaque honours irrigation pioneer – Sally Brooker:

The man who brought water to Waitaki farmland has been honoured with a plaque alongside Bortons Pond.

Sid Hurst, who died aged 97 in July 2016, is now officially commemorated as a “Visionary Farmer and Irrigation Pioneer; Champion of the Waitaki”.

The plaque site was chosen for its significance to the Lower Waitaki irrigation scheme, which Mr Hurst instigated. Bortons Pond, just west of Georgetown, is where water diverted from the Waitaki River is held for distribution to thousands of hectares of drought-prone land. . . 

Farmers want clarity – Annette Scott:

The effects of the Mycoplasma bovis response are being felt by a Cambridge farmer whose farms are under Primary Industries Ministry Notice of Direction.

“We are under movement restriction with three properties.

“We were told we were suspect and slapped under restriction on March 5.”

MPI said there are no properties under Restricted Place Notice in the North Island but there might be some on Notices of Direction, effectively a stock movement restriction. . . 

New animal welfare regulations will reinforce New Zealand’s high global standing:

The introduction of regulations to support compliance with New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation will add further weight to New Zealand’s animal welfare standards, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Dave Harrison, General Manager Policy and Advocacy of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) said: “World Animal Protection has given New Zealand an ‘A’ ranking on its Animal Protection Index, one of only four countries to achieve that standard.

“This reflects the fact we have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, and it is important that these high standards are maintained’” says Harrison. . . 

Central Hawke’s Bay Dairy Farm Wins East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Parkhill Dairy Farm at Ashley Clinton has won the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards -entered by owner Andrea Barry and manager Craig Pennell. The win was announced at an awards dinner at the Napier Conference Centre on Wednesday night (March 28). They will host a field day in April.

Parkhill was one of the first three dairy farms converted by Andrea and her late husband Peter Barry in 1994. Andrea Barry is proud of the work that has been done and is still being done on Parkhill. . . 

Record investment into mouse threat :

THE largest investment into mouse-related research ever made in Australia was announced by the GRDC today.

The GRDC is injecting more than $4.1 million into mouse control research, development and extension initiatives in response to the increasing prevalence of mice in many key grain-growing regions of Australia.

GRDC managing director Steve Jefferies says the GRDC recognises the enormity of the mouse problem and the severe impact it has on our growers’ businesses, their families, their communities and the broader industry. . .


Rural round-up

April 12, 2016

Water brings back ‘marvellous’ times – Sally Rae:

“Lower Waitaki – The Community That Water Saved” was the theme of a recent media tour organised by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective and IrrigationNZ and coinciding with IrrigationNZ’s 2016 conference in Oamaru. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae hopped on the bus to discover just what irrigation has done for the area and its inhabitants.  

When Jim Dennison’s father bought Drumena in 1919, the Hilderthorpe farm was in a “desolate state”.

Local women pitied his new bride moving to such a property to try to make a living. . .

Harnessing the sunshine for record-breaking crop yields – Pat Deavoll:

Farmers talk about growing feed, but North Otago crop and dairy farmer Chris Dennison says he is “harvesting sunshine.”

His world record-breaking crops of barley and oil seed rape were the combination of heavy soils, a coastal environment, reliable water and sustained sunshine, he said.

“Here at Hilderthorpe (just south of the Waitaki River) we get a cool easterly wind which gives a lull in the growing season for cereal and oil seed rape, so the crops can utilise more sunshine.”

Dennison took over the farm from his father Jim in the early 1980s. Traditionally it was a mixed sheep and beef property but when Dennison arrived home he brought with him an interest in cropping. . . 

Waitaki water key to reliable farming – Sally Rae:

Reuben Allan’s dairy shed has one heck of a view.

It overlooks the vast Waitaki River which provides not only recreational opportunities for his family, but also has allowed them to transition from a “feast or famine” dryland operation to one with reliable irrigation.

Mr Allan grew up on Fairway Farm, which used to be a dryland sheep property, near Ikawai.

Irrigation began on the hills in the mid-1990s and the move was made into intensive beef finishing. . . 

Irrigation provides reliability – Sally Rae:

Matt Ross first arrived in North Otago “more by accident”.

But his decision to return, once he completed his university studies, was deliberate as he had identified the potential opportunities in the district.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie operate Kokoamo Farms, which comprise two dairy farms near Duntroon, milking 1730 cows at peak, and lease a run-off property.

Their farming operation is a showcase: lush green grass, extensive plantings, including a wetland development that is home to more than 100,000 plants, and impressive infrastructure. . . 

Still turning them (tractors) on at 85:

North Otago’s Don Fraser is a man who loves his tractors. His love affair has been so intense he is still driving them at the ripe old age of 85.

Part of the hard-working team at EGL Pastoral for 26 years, and a farmer most of his life, Mr Fraser remembers the old style tractors (crawlers) when he first started out and recalls they were so noisy you needed hearing aids. “There was no silencers then and we didn’t have air con back in the day, but then we didn’t need it when a keen souwester was blowing through.” . . .

Sheep Industry Awards celebrate success:

This country’s sheep industry will celebrate its best and brightest at Beef +Lamb New Zealand’s fifth annual New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in the Wairarapa in July.

Entries are open for the Awards which recognises this country’s top sheep farmers, breeders, scientists and industry innovators.

People can put their name forward, or be nominated for the Award categories; Science Trainer of the Year, Innovation, Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Emerging Talent Award. . . 

Focus on forages is key to sustainable farm profits:

Pastoral farming is a huge earner for New Zealand worth over $23 billion in export revenues last year. Forages – the grasses and other plants grazed by farm animals – are a critical part of pastoral farming systems. Industry participants consider there is significant scope to lift the contribution forages make to the underlying productivity and profitability of the pastoral sectors and to achieve these outcomes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

This is why an initiative to improve the sustainability and profitability of New Zealand’s forage grazing systems has the buy-in of everyone representing the pastoral sector. . . 

Bostock New Zealand experiencing highest quality apples for several years:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower is harvesting some of the best quality fruit it’s experienced for years – thanks to near perfect growing and harvesting conditions.

Bostock New Zealand Director, David Brasell says the weather has been outstanding for the harvest and the fruit has sized well.

“The quality of our apples this season is very, very good. The colour is great, the fruit is clean and the size is excellent. . . .

Time to guard against costly nutritional deficits:

A small investment in autumn feed testing can be good insurance against mineral deficiencies in dairy and beef cows that can lead to low growth rates and poor milk yields.

Winter feeds like fodder beet, low pasture phosphorus levels in some regions, and lower seasonal availability for copper can lead to deficiencies of both of these key minerals during late pregnancy, early lactation and calf growth.

Consultant nutritionist to SealesWinslow, Paul Sharp, says for around $100 a comprehensive pasture mineral test will provide the right information to farmers. . . 

Yealands Launches NZ’s First Vineyard Tour Guide App:

The first kiwi wine app that allows the user to take a self-guided vineyard tour – and take in Yealands’ famous White Road hot-spots.

One of the only vineyards to actually let visitors drive through its vineyard, wine innovators, Yealands Wine Group have released a mobile application that allows visitors to its Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough the unique opportunity of taking their own self-guided vineyard tour. . .


Is that really true?

April 4, 2016

A Labour poster circulating on social media quotes Andrew Little saying: When I was a kid I used to be able to swim in any river and drink from it.

Is that really true?

When I was a kid the freezing works at Pukeuri had to build a huge tank to chlorinate water because the water from the Waitaki River, which supplied Oamaru, several smaller towns and many farms, was not of a high enough standard to wash export meat.

That was well before wide spread irrigation and intensive farming.

Many rivers should be cleaner than they are now and improving water standards where possible should be a priority.

But not all water degradation is the fault of people and farming.

Birds pollute waterways and some species are protected.

Some rivers never were clean enough to safely drink from and swim in and it would be impossible to get all of them to that standard.

I question Little’s claim of how clean every river was when he was a kid and I know that the goal of having every river swimmable and drinkable will never be attained.


Rural round-up

June 15, 2015

Loss forecast if water plan unchanged – David Bruce:

The North Otago and South Canterbury economies could lose up to $42 million a year and 371 jobs if a water allocation plan for the Waitaki River is not changed, according to an economic impact study.

Two-thirds of farmers who irrigate from the Waitaki River would lose a total of about $30 million a year in farm income.

And allocating some of the Waitaki River’s water to Ngai Tahu takes a potential $106 million to $109 million a year and an additional 900 jobs away because of lost future irrigation. . .

Dairy farming leader backs Fonterra – Sally Rae:

Do not sack Fonterra’s leadership – that is the message from one Otago dairy farming industry leader.

Hundreds of jobs are likely to go as part of a review of the dairy giant which began last December.

Fonterra has been in the spotlight this year, amid falling global dairy prices and declining payouts for suppliers.

Yesterday, North Otago Federated Farmers dairy chairman Lyndon Strang said reviews were ”healthy for any business”. . .

Deer farming pioneer recognised – Lynda Gray:

Southland deer farming pioneer, leader and mentor David Stevens is the 2015 recipient of the New Zealand Deer Industry Award.

Stevens’ leadership roles in the industry started in the early 1980s as the inaugural member of the Southland Deer Farmers committee.

He was a key instigator of the National Velvet and Cervena Plates competitions and a hardworking contributor to many deer farming-allied initiatives such as monitor farms, discussion groups and stud breeder initiatives. . .

Aeronavics unveils drone at Fieldays – Paul Mitchell:

A Raglan-based drone company’s new products could help farmers reduce costs and discover crop diseases earlier.

Aeronavics is showcasing the agricultural applications of their next-generation drones at the Innovation Centre this week.

The centrepiece of their booth is three colour-coded drones, each representing one agricultural task.

Aeronavics co-founder Linda Bulk said any one drone could do all three tasks, it was just a matter of swapping out the “payload” attachments. . .

Life on the dingo fence – Emma Downey:

BOUNDARY rider on the dingo fence rider might seem like a job title plucked from the 19th century, but it’s one just as relevant today – perhaps even more so – than it was when the fence was constructed in the late 1800s.

At more than 5000 kilometres long, Australia’s dingo fence has the distinction of being the world’s longest fence, and while utes may have replaced horses as the mode of transport for today’s “rider”, the job remains the same.

Then and now, the boundary rider’s job is to monitor the fence, look for breaches and make repairs to prevent dingos from entering the pastoral zones of the state, and as graziers fear, breed with domesticated dogs gone wild and increase what is already a growing issue. . .

 

 

American Cattlemen's photo.


Things to do in Oamaru

December 30, 2014

A few years ago friends came to stay a couple of nights on their way to Wanaka.

They ended up forgoing the trip to Central Otago in favour of staying longer with us.

It was one of those golden summers when days at the river a few kilometres from home were far more attractive than coping with holidaying hordes in more populous spots.

Not every summer is like that but the last few days have been good for holiday makers. We’ve had enough heat to enjoy the beaches or rivers but not too much to make other attractions too much of an effort.

When our friends visited, nearly three decades ago, Oamaru wasn’t regarded as a holiday destination.

That’s changed.

Lonely Planet, which had just two pages on the town five years ago now gives it nine and has dubbed Oamaru the coolest town in New Zealand.

An Explore Waitaki App will help you discover the district’s charms, find what’s where and how to get there.

I have yet to download it so don’t know if it will take you to places the locals go to cool off when the weather cooperates.

Rivers change and Gemmels Crossing where I spent many summer days as a child is no longer so good for swimming.

But there are still good swimming holes further up the Kakanui River near Clifton Falls and the Waitaki River also has some great picnic and swimming spots.

For those who prefer beaches, there’s Campbells Bay, All Day Bay and Moeraki.

Oamaru and the Waitaki District  hinterland have lots of other attractions.

Oamaru Today is very good at highlighting things to see and do and I’m planning to write posts about the area over the next few days.

You’re welcome to add your own ideas for holiday makers in North Otago of further afield.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

August 20, 2014

Waitaki River group objects to planned changes:

The Canterbury Regional Council is promoting changes to give growers and Meridian Energy, which runs the Waitaki hydro-power scheme, certainty of water supply.

But a Waitaki River users group says a deal to drop the river’s minimum flow would badly harm an already sick river.

The Canterbury Regional Council is promoting changes to give growers and Meridian Energy, which runs the Waitaki hydro-power scheme, certainty of water supply.

The plan includes a cut to the minimum flow by a third during a dry spell. . . .

Shark finning to be banned from 1 October:

A ban on the finning of all shark species within New Zealand waters will take effect from 1 October this year, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“Implementing this ban has happened much faster than originally proposed. It reinforces New Zealand’s strong international reputation for sustainability and protecting our natural environment,” Dr Smith says.

The Ministers released a revised National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-Sharks) earlier this year, which included a commitment to phase in the ban on shark finning in New Zealand by October 2016 at the latest. A first tranche of shark species was to be covered by the ban from 1 October 2014, a second tranche from 1 October 2015, and only the highly migratory blue sharks was to be left until 1 October 2016. . . .

Botulism scare prompts diary working group:

Last year’s botulism scare has prompted the creation of a new working group in the dairy processing sector.

It was one of the recommendations of the independent Government inquiry into the whey protein concentrate contamination, which sent shock waves through New Zealand’s dairy industry.

The inquiry highlighted a shortage of experienced people with processing expertise and so the group has been set up to fix that.

The working group will be chaired by Northland dairy farmer and former Fonterra board director, Greg Gent, who said it was an exciting project. . .

NZ software could scupper mouse outbreaks:

A New Zealand-designed software system designed to predict and tackle mouse outbreaks is being trialled in Australia.

MouseAlert is an interactive website which uses mapping technology to enable arable crop growers to record and view mouse activity in their local area in real time.

Landcare Research has been providing the expertise on building this information into computer models which can then forecast plagues of mice. . .

Farmers welcome GlobalDairyTrade stabilisation:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see stabilisation in the latest benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) online auction result but warns price volatility will likely continue until well into the last quarter.

“It is great to see GDT average still in the US$3,000 a metric ton range but that slight 0.6 percent fall means we are on exactly US$3,000,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson.

“It seems to underscore how similar this season is to 2012/13. At a similar point two seasons ago, the average winning price was just US$54 more except it had come up from the high 2,000’s.

“But before anyone traipses back to the beginning of the year to make a more dramatic story, any price before 1 June is completely irrelevant when you are talking about this 2014/15 season. . .

 

China dangerous market reliance or exciting market growth? – Andrew Watters:

The economic growth of China over the past four years has resulted in huge demand for New Zealand dairy and meat products; lifted our terms of trade to historical highs and provided a major fillip to agriculture and the wider NZ economy.

However the somewhat dramatic slide in global dairy prices since their peak in midFebruary has the appearance of China exiting the market causing demand to stall.

It has prompted several commentators to ponder whether exciting market growth has become market over-reliance.

At MyFarm we see ‘China growth’ as a major boost to farming industry returns – one that will have a profound affect for the next two decades. . .

 

Informercials used to sell NZ meat in China – Dave Gooselink:

TV shopping shows and infomercials have become a popular way of selling everything from exercise equipment to kitchen and beauty accessories. But one New Zealand company has struck gold in China with a very surprising product – packaged meat.

It’s home shopping as most Kiwis will be familiar with, but the Chinese shopping show is selling something a little unusual – prime cuts of New Zealand beef and lamb.

Most of us Kiwis, we’d never think about buying our lamb or beef on a TV shopping channel,” says Silver Fern Farms head of sales Grant Howie. “But in a 30-minute slot earlier this year, we sold 12.5 tonnes of our beef.” . .  .

Minister approves Marlborough coastal plan changes:

Plan changes to enable three new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds were signed off today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at a function at the Marlborough District Council with Mayor Alistair Sowman and representatives from NZ King Salmon.

“These three new salmon farms at Waitata and Richmond in Pelorus Sound and Ngamahau in Tory Chanel are hugely important to Nelson and Marlborough’s aquaculture industry and wider economy. They will enable NZ King Salmon to grow its products from the current 6000 tonnes per year to 9000 tonnes per year in 2015 and 13,000 tonnes per year by 2033. These new farms will grow our GDP by $120 million per year, our exports by $50 million and employment by 150 new jobs,” Dr Smith says.

“I am well satisfied that our region can maintain the conservation and recreation benefits of Marlborough Sounds while enabling the growth of the aquaculture industry. These three farms will take up only about five hectares of surface water space out of a total area of over 100,000 hectares in the Sounds, or less than 0.01 per cent.” . .

The forest safety battle is not yet won

Point scoring in the media will not make our forests safer places to work, says the Forest Owners Association.

“The unions are claiming credit for a sudden reduction in the fatality and serious accident rate and Worksafe NZ is slamming us for a lack of safety leadership. These comments are unbalanced and unhelpful,” says association president Paul Nicholls.

“Political posturing and blaming others won’t save workers lives. To transform the industry’s safety culture, participants will need to acknowledge their past shortcomings and to share experiences and knowledge. They are less likely to be open to this if they are being publicly pilloried.” . .

Implementing Reform:

The sweeping reforms to the ways water is managed, as recommended by the Land and Water Forum two years ago, are now beginning to be implemented. The final shape and rate of reform will be very dependent on what government is elected in a few weeks. Therefore this is a particularly apt event looking at policy reforms that could reshape the way we manage and think about water.

“Implementing Reform” is the theme of the Water NZ annual conference being held at Hamilton’s Claudelands convention centre in the final week of the election campaign – 17 – 19 September.

Water reforms already implemented in Australia will be discussed in the first two sessions of the conference starting at 9.40 am on Wednesday 17. . .

 

 


Commercial exploitation or vagaries of nature?

January 3, 2011

A few weeks ago spot prices for electricity were very high.

The justification was that the hydro lakes were low.

Now the dams on the Clutha and Waitaki Rivers are spilling water because the lakes are too full and councils are warning of flood danger.

Were the high prices commercial exploitation or is this just the impact the vagaries of nature have when we generate so much hydro power?


Irrigators and Iwi appeal Hunter Downs consent

June 11, 2010

Existing irrigators and Ngai Tahu have appealed the consent granted to the Meridian Energy-South Canterbury Irrigation Trust Hunter Downs irrigation scheme by Environment Canterbury.

Existing irrigators are concerned that the amount of water the Hunter Downs scheme is permitted to use would impact negatively on their supply .

Reliability of supply was one of the factors taken into account when designing existing irrigation schemes and the farming operations which rely on them. Any threat to that is a threat to the 100% reliability, for which consent was given, is a threat to all the businesses which use the water.

One of Ngai Tahu’s problems is that the scheme would take water from one catchment and put it in another although that doesn’t always mean they’ll object.

The North Otago Irrigation Company scheme which takes water fromt he Waitaki river and discharges it into the Waiareka Creek which eventually flows into the Kakanui river.

Ngai Tahu agreed to that  and I think that’s because the creek was little more than a series of semi stagnant ponds most of the time. The discharge from the Waitaki  got the creek flowing again, improving both the quantity and quality of the water.


To holiday or not to holiday is the annual question

March 22, 2010

If the captain of the John Wikcliffe had known what chaos and confusion his arrival at Port Chalmers would cause future citizens of Otago and Southland, he might have chosen a more convenient date.

As it was he arrived on March 23rd and some powers that be subsequently decreed that that date would be the two provinces’ anniversary day and be observed on the Monday closet to it.

That’s today.

The trouble is those of us on the right side of the Waitaki and of independent mind and not everyone wants to take today off. Some would prefer to tack the day on to Easter which is usually not far away instead.

Consequently, as happens every year, some businesses and offices are open and some are not. Some people are taking a day off and others are saving it for a couple of weeks to turn the four-day Easter break into a five day one.

As employers with a seven day a week operation, we have to pay those who work today holiday rates even if they’d rather work today and have a day off in a fortnight.

That includes anyone who might be getting stock in to send to the works  because if no-one does that today freezing workers – who may or may not be working today – will have nothing to do tomorrow.

Living on the right side of the Waitaki has a lot to recommend but, but the timing of our anniversary day isn’t one of them.


New regional water authority for Canterbury?

February 20, 2010

The independent review into Environment Canterbury  recommends that the government sets up a new Canterbury Regional Water Authority (CRWA) to assume all water related responsibilities in the Canterbury Region.

ECan has failed miserably in its responsibilities for water management in the region where it is of most importance. The report says:

The issue of freshwater management (both ground and surface water) is the single most significant issue facing the Canterbury Region.  The Review Group acknowledges that the scale of the issues being addressed in terms of water availability and quality in the Canterbury Region and the scale and nature of competing demands for that resource is significantly greater than that confronted by other regional councils throughout New Zealand. They are correspondingly of much greater significance to the nation’s well-being.

There are four major river catchments in the region but the Waitaki is the only one with an allocation plan and that was imposed on Ecan by central government when Project Aqua showed up the council’s shortcomings.

The creation of an entirely new specialist entity is, we believe, the only way that the Government can be certain that it has an institution capable of dealing with the complexities involved in resolving freshwater issues in the Canterbury Region. The Authority would assume responsibility for all of the functions of Environment Canterbury related to the management of freshwater in the Region.  This includes:

  • Addressing the complexities involved in balancing the competing interests for the relevant resources.
  • Producing relevant plans for the allocation and management of water resources and water quality within a timeframe to be specified in the legislation.
  • Allocation, monitoring and enforcement of consents relating to water.
  • Addressing the water quality issues that are currently the responsibility of Environment Canterbury.

The Review Group also recommends that the council be replaced by a temporary Commission.

Both recommendations are wise.

All the territorial authorities in the Canterbury Region have been complaining about ECan for years, so too have many of the groups and individuals who’ve had to deal with them.

There has been a welcome improvement since Alec Neil took over as chair last year but the Review Group thinks the problems are too deep-seated to be solved by the existing council which is still divided.

The government has yet to consider the recommendations but I wonder if a complete reorganisation of local authorities in the region might result.

The city and district councils have been looking at a unitary authority. A supercity based round Christchurch and a provincial council further south, perhaps?


Colour war

October 10, 2009

One pub, two publicans.

One’s from Otago, on the right side of the Waitaki River. The other’s from Canterbury on the other side of ther river. 

One prefers Speights, the other drinks another beer.

On which beer do they base the clour scheme of the pub?

Both:

cheese rolls 002


Tuesday’s Answers – corrected

September 22, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. What were the surnames of Peter, Paul and Mary?

2. Who wrote Bums On Seats?

3. Who said: We are human beings as well as women, and our humanity must take precedence of our womanhood . . . We are New Zealanders, and therefore citizens, and whatever affects the well-being of the Commonwealth is our immediate concern.?

4. The Hakataramea is a tributary of which river?

5. Name the vice chancellors of three of New Zealand’s eight universities (the debate on whether that’s too many universities can wait for another time).

Gravedodger got two right and I’ll give him 3 for the last question because it was his answer which made me realise I had to clarify the question. He gets a bonus for extra info on question one as well.

Paul Tremewan got two right, a bonus for imagination (who’s Michael Snelgrove?) and none for the last but I’ll accept that maybe my clarification muddied the waters).

Paul M gest one and a bonus because he was the only one who got Roger Hall.

No-one got Kate Sheppherd – even though Saturday was the anniversary of women’s suffrage in NZ.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break.

CORRECTION:

Cctrfred has corrected me – The Chancellor at the University of Canterbury chairs the Council and it is Rex Williams. Rodd Carr is Vice-Chancellor and appears to be CEO. I’ve done a quick check and think the others are correct, but feel free to put me right if I’m wrong.

If anyone can explain why some universities appear to call the council chair Chancellor and othes call him (their are no hers at the moment) Vice Chancellor, please do.

While I’m correcting myself, Paul Tremewan gets another point. Michael Snelgrove didn’t write Roger Hall’s autobiography (had he done so of course it wouldn’t be an autobiography) to which I was referring, but  he did write a play by the same name.

Read the rest of this entry »


Community Irrigation Schemes get $562,000 boost

May 20, 2009

North Otago Irrigation Company has been granted up to $241,500 over four years from MAF’s Community Irrigation Fund.

It will be used to help the development of the second stage in its scheme which pumps water from the Waitaki River.

The first stage brought water to about 8,000 hectares in the Waiareka Valley. The second stage will provide water for another 12,000 hectares and extend the scheme to the Kakanui Valley and Tokarahi district.

MAF has provided $562,000 over four years for five irrigation projects as part of the Community Irrigation Fund (CIF), Deputy – Director-General Paul Stocks announced today.

“The CIF helps rural communities make use of their water resources and adapt to climate change by helping community water irrigation schemes get off the ground.”

  “When people think of irrigation and water infrastructure, they usually think of building dams, aquaducts and pipelines. What is often not considered is the enormously important work in planning and community and stakeholder consultation that has to happen before the earthmovers arrive.”

The taxpayer should not be expected to help with on-farm work for irrigation but the wider economic, environmental and social benefits from irrigation justify assistance in the planning stage.

The other four projects to receive funding are inTasman, North Canterbury, South Canterbury and Central Otago.

The ODT reports  these are the Lees Valley storege dam, the Hurunui Water Project, and the Waihao Downs and Lindis irrigation schemes.


Opening the spillway

January 20, 2009

The lake levels are too high in the Waitaki hydro lakes so Meridian Energy has opened the spillway in Benmore dam:

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More water from the Benmore dam fills Lake Aviemore so the spillway in the Aviemore dam is also open and that in turn puts more water into Lake Waitaki so the  the Waitaki dam is now overflowing:

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The Waitaki River is now flowing at 950 cubic metres a second. We might want to remember that next time there’s a power crisis.

However, the high flow is welcome because the flood will clean up a lot of the didymo (also known as rock snot) which is thought to have been brought into New Zealand is fishing waders and now infects many of our rivers.

The high flow will also move a bank which has developed at the river mouth.


National good has local and national cost

December 4, 2008

The Timaru Herald urges people to think of the national good before appealing to the environment Court over the resource consent granted to Meridian Energy.

The fact that a significant chunk of power – enough to run a city the size of Christchurch – can be generated, apparently cost-efficiently, surely deserves strong consideration. Barely a winter goes by without security of power supply being raised as a potential problem, so significantly increased generation capacity must be a positive thing.

I agree but the national benefit isn’t without local and national costs.

The obvious one is environmental from reduced flows but there could be an economic cost too if fishing and boating which bring tourist dollars into the region are affected. And there will definitely be a local and national cost if Meridian’s project threatens the reliability of supply for irrigation.

The Mid River New Applicants’ Group, which represents irrigators on the lower river, wants Meridian to guarantee that reliable water supply will not be affected.

Ensuring reliability for existing irrigators is also something Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton will be watching closely.

He said the NBTC scheme would benefit the Waitaki district in terms of potential employment and an improved infrastructure.

However, he said it was vital present irrigators, at the very least, maintained their reliability of supply and were not disadvantaged by the scheme.

The Lower Waitaki irrigation scheme has been operating for about 30 years, the North Otago Irrigation Scheme is just over two years old and there are other smaller schemes, all of which provide 100% reliability of supply for farmers.

Any threat to that reliability is a threat to farming businesses, it would be a bit like building a hotel then finding that the road to it was only open some of the time.

The MAF Briefing to Incoming Ministers  noted the contribution irrigation makes to the economy:

In 2002/03, irrigation was estimated to contribute around $920 million netGDP “at the farm gate”, over and above that which would have been produced from the same land without irrigation. Since then, the area of irrigated agriculture and horticulture has increased by about 25 percent, from 480 000 hectares to around 600 000 hectares.

Both a reliable supply of electricity and irrigation are important for the economy, the concern is that Meridian’s scheme to increase the former will reduce the latter.


Meridian gets interim approval for Waitaki power scheme

December 2, 2008

Meridian Energy has received interim approval for its application to take water from the Waitaki River for its $900 million north bank power scheme.

The Otago Daily Times has been told it is an interim decision, which grants a water-only resource consent but is subject to agreement on conditions.

Meridian applied to ECan to take up to 260cumecs from the lower Waitaki River above the Waitaki dam for a 34km tunnel between the dam and Stonewall, near Ikawai.

A single powerhouse would generate between 1100 and 1400GWh of electricity a year.

The company’s plans for a power scheme on the Lower Waitaki began several years ago with Project Aqua which would have built a canel on the south bank. However, that was abandoned before it an application for resource consent was made.

Meridian then began investigations into the north bank scheme which has received objections from conservation and recreation groups and people with existing use rights, including irrigators.

The approval could be appealed to the Environment Court and the company still has to apply to the Waimate District Council for a land-use consent.


Will we keep 100% reliability for irrigation?

August 13, 2008

The ODT reports that farmers are hopeful a deal can be reached with Meridian Energy to safeguard the 100% reliability of water from the Waitaki River for irrigation.

Several irrigation schemes use Waitaki water, including North Otago Irrigation Company’s which we use to irrigate 400 hectares and which was launched a couple of years ago.

It pumps water from the river to the top of a hill then pipes it from there so it gets to farm gates under pressure which means most farmers don’t have to do additional pumping. It is not cheap, but at the moment, like water from other schemes which use the Waitaki, it’s 100% reliable.

That’s very important because farmers base their operations on the knowledge they can get enough water when they need it and any restirctions would come just when the water was needed most.


Contact’s eyeing the Clutha

August 9, 2008

Contact Energy is investigating more dams on the Clutha River.

Contact Energy’s Wellington-based communications manager Jonathan Hill said the power company was “taking a close look again” at old proposals which had been on the back burner, such as those involving sites at Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry.

… Mr Hill said Contact did not have any firm plans in place and was simply looking at all of its options.

“However, we have a clear preference that any new hydro developments should be on rivers that already have hydro schemes on them, to avoid altering virgin rivers.”

Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry on the Clutha River had all been proposed as possible sites.

Mr Hill said they were the only river schemes that Contact was actively looking at as the plans had already been drawn up by the previous owner, ECNZ.

“I think its a very important point to make that if we do identify a project that we would like to advance, the first steps will be to discuss it with local communities.

“The role of new, large-scale hydro projects will be particularly important in an environment in which there is growing concern around climate change and sustainability and in which traditional thermal fuels such as gas are becoming increasingly expensive,” he added.

The increase in thermal generation has been a major contributor to the increase in our carbon emissions. But the difficulty of getting through the Resource Management Act makes the development of new wind and hydro generation a long, involved and expensive process.

The Environment Court appeal against Meridian Energy’s  application consent for its Project Hayes windfarm in the Lammermoor Range has been adjourned until January.

Its Project Aqua on the south of the Waitaki River never got to the consent stage but the company is now looking at a scheme on the north bank.

This winter’s power crisis was avoided by conservation measures and timely rainfalls, but at great cost to businesses and the economy.

Conservation measures can only do so much, if we want to be a first world country with a first world economy so we can afford first world social and environmental initiatives, we need first world power supplies and that means more generation.

If the past is any guide there will be fierce oppostion to more dams on the Clutha. But if we have to reduce carbon emissions and nuclear generation is neither popular nor practical then we have to accept more wind and/or hydro schemes.


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