Rural round-up

02/07/2021

Invercargill MP says the Government’s road funding cuts are a bitter blow – Penny Simmonds:

Roads are our lifeblood, and I’m particularly concerned about the economic impact on Southland if our roading infrastructure can’t be kept up to scratch.

The Southland District Council is currently grappling with some tough decisions around the future of our ageing road network after the Government recently cut funding by $7.5 million.

The situation in Southland is dire and the statistics make sober reading.

There are currently 1081 bridges, including 239 stock underpasses, across the province. . .

SNAs cover much of province – report says

It is official — West Coast is pretty much one big significant natural area.

A desktop assessment of native vegetation on private land on the West Coast has identified nearly every site as a potentially significant natural area.

Wildlands Consultants, which researched SNAs for councils working on a new combined district plan for the Coast, have handed in their report in time for the Te Tai o Poutini Plan Committee meeting yesterday.

The team of ecologists did a desktop evaluation of the region’s biodiversity using computerised topographical maps and have cautioned that nearly all the mapped sites will need to be field-checked. . .

David Parker admits wetland rules ‘have gone too far’ but changes will be difficult and expensive – Hamish Rutherford:

David Parker admits new rules on freshwater management have gone too far in defining wetlands, but the difficult path to fixing it shows why the Resource Management Act needs changing.

On Tuesday morning the Herald reported ministers have faced warnings from some of New Zealand’s leading housing and construction companies that the new rules on wetlands effectively mean farm tracks and even the overflow of septic tanks can be captured by the new definition.

As he released the first of three pieces of legislation which will replace the RMA, Parker said the freshwater rules brought into place just prior to the 2020 election would need to be fixed.

“We do accept that that definition’s gone a bit far,” Parker told reporters in the Beehive on Tuesday on the definition of wetlands. . .

Wairarapa durum wheat trial aims to supply NZ bakers:

It’s hoped a trial of durum wheat in the Waiarapa will help supply flour for New Zealand’s growing appetite for pasta.

Durum wheat had been grown in Canterbury and processed in a factory in Timaru, but inconsistency in quality led to the factory moving to Australia.

A Ministry for Primary Industries-funded study carried out between 2017 and 2020 found the wheat could be successfully grown in the Wairarapa thanks to its warm, dry summers and quality soils.

The Foundation of Arable Research is doing further work to see how growers can get the best value for the crop. . . .

Sheep remain dominant on South Island hill and high country –  Keith Woodford:

In previous articles, I first described the North Island’s 4000 commercial hill-country farms (Beef+Lamb Classes 3 and 4). Subsequently, I wrote about the approximately 4400 intensive sheep and beef farms that are spread across both North and South Islands (Beef+Lamb Classes 5, 6, 7 and 8). That left the story of 620 South Island hill-country farms and 200 high-country farms to be told here. It is a contrasting story.

The combined number of South Island hill and high-country farms is modest, comprising less than ten percent of the 9200 commercial sheep and beef farms in New Zealand. However, these farms comprise more than one third of New Zealand’s total sheep and beef grazing area.

These are big farms both by area and livestock numbers, despite much lower stocking rates than all other farm types.  However, the differences between the hill and high-country farms are sufficient that first I will consider them separately before, drawing out some common themes. . . 

Stoatally different! How the ‘science of individuals’ is changing how we see pests – Jamie McAulay:

It’s just before midday and starting to drizzle as stoat trapper Ana Richards pulls a rotting stoat carcass from a DOC trap and scoops it into a plastic container, dripping.

She’s 4 days into a 6 day trapping trip through Fiordland’s wild Murchison Mountains. From this rugged spur, the stinky stoat will eventually find its way to a University of Otago laboratory, and the forefront of efforts to understand how the ‘science of individuals’ plays out on protection of our native birds. 

We tend to think of pests as pests – a rat is a rat, a stoat is a stoat, right? But we know the types of prey taken by large bodied carnivores, like bears and wolves, actually varies considerably. Individuals have different tastes, or so it would seem. In my research, I joined scientists at the University of Otago, Department of Conservation and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research to see if this was true of the small-sized carnivores too. We set out to understand individual variations in how small carnivores hunt, and how we could use any lessons to our advantage in the fight to protect native species.  . . 


Govt tramples property rights

14/02/2020

The government is trampling over West Coast farmers’ property rights:

West Coasters whose land has been newly classified as a significant wetland or natural area are unlikely to receive any compensation from the Government, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says.

After a Department of Conservation appeal to the Environment Court in 2012, the West Coast Regional Council was ordered to add a further 215 schedule 2 wetlands to its Soil and Water Plan.

Regional council chairman Allan Birchfield estimates about 5000ha of wetlands on private land are affected, with landowners required to pay for ecological assessments to see if the land qualifies for full protection under schedule 1.

“That’s effectively put the land into the DOC estate because the landowners will need DOC input – and approval as an affected party if they want to develop it. So the Crown is gaining land without paying for it, and that is theft,” he said.

“However, there is support through the sustainable land use package from budget 2019 to support landowners with fencing and riparian planting.”

Support for doing something they have no choice over is not compensation for loss of property rights.

Birchfield said that would be unacceptable to most landowners.

“It’s their land and they don’t want it fenced off. They either want it purchased or possibly a land swap. It’s not the Wild West here, where you just take land off people.”

DOC had plenty of land on the Coast, if it wanted control of the wetlands it should be a willing-seller, willing-buyer situation with no compulsion, he said.

“Those landowners lose the use of the land, but have to go on paying rates on it. DOC doesn’t pay any rates.

Farmers will not only have to pay rates, they’ll also be responsible for weed and pest control on what was their land and will be in name only.

“We’ve got little enough private land here anyway and they should keep their hands off the little we have, to make a living out of.”

The ecological benefits of wetlands are well understood but that doesn’t justify forcing farmers to retire land without compensating them.

This government doesn’t want forestry or mining on the Coast, it’s rejected a hydro generation plan and now it’s effectively taking land from farmers, leaving them with the costs of ownership and none of the benefits.

Property rights are one of the foundation stone of democracy.

Forcing farmers to retire land without compensating them tramples all over those rights.

 


Above and below the line

09/05/2013

How much of the West Coast is conservation land and how much is being mined?

Environment West Coast chairman Brent Oldham illustrates how much of the West Coast is actually being mined. The page represents the West Coast, which is 23,500sqkm in area. Above the black line is the area of West Coast land in conservation estate (19,000sq km). Below the line is the area of rateable land. The line itself – just 0.12mm thick – represents the 14sq km disturbed by mining. (Photo – Lee Scanlon Westport News 7-May-2013):

west coast


West Coast needs jobs

26/09/2012

Miners from the West Coast and Huntly are protesting at parliament about job losses while Bathurst is battling its way through the consent process with a project which would provide jobs.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is right when he calls on environmentalists who are fighting consents to think about the economic opportunities.

“The Escarpment Mine is an open cast mining project that is ready to go and would provide 225 jobs and incomes for workers and their families on the West Coast straight away,” Mr Joyce says.

“The developer is being held up from opening the Escarpment Mine by on-going litigation that has gone through the Environment Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

“These on-going objections are to resource consents which were granted more than a year ago. The whole consenting process for this development has now taken a staggering seven years.

“I call on those objectors to the mine to reconsider their appeals and consider the economic future of the West Coast and its people.

Environmentalists won the battle against sustainable logging on the Coast at the cost of many jobs – and pest control – and now they’re also wanting to stop mining even though the region desperately needs the jobs.

Few if any would call an open cast mine attractive but it will cover a relatively small area and the company can be required to leave the area in at least as good a state as it was before it started the project.

“I also call on the EPMU, Labour and the Greens to join my call and back the West Coast community by supporting the immediate development of the Escarpment Mine.

“The political opposition can’t have it both ways. They can’t on one hand moan about job losses and then on the other not support initiatives that would create the sort of jobs that they’re asking for.

“If we are serious about jobs and providing incomes on the West Coast then objectors should stop getting in the way of this immediate opportunity to create those jobs.”

There are more votes from the urban greens than West Coast reds so don’t hold your breath waiting for Labour to support the Minister’s call.

However, it purports to be the workers’ party and it’s MPs won’t be averse to photo opportunities with the protesters.

As for the EPMU, will it have the intestinal fortitude to show it really is representing workers and back the job creation or will politics come before people for it too?


Hokitika new gumboot capital?

16/07/2012

Taihape claims to be the gumboot capital of the world but it has a challenger.

AgFest West Coast was held in Hokitika at the weekend and the organisers set out to make a world record for the most people wearing gumboots at a single event.

The Facebook page records:

Wow what an awesome few days and event! Thank you so much to everyone that turned up to support AgFest and to all those Exhibitor’s that attended and stood though the rain for the 2 days! We hope that everyone got something out of our event and had an enjoyable time.  . .  And yes we did get the World Record for most Gumboots worn to a single event with 1605 pairs of gumboots recorded!

Given the wild weather on the West Coast at the weekend and that Westport was cut-off yesterday, gumboots would be footwear of choice for the sensible in those parts.

As Fred Dagg would no doubt have said had he been there, If it weren’t for you gumboots where would you be? . . .


Guinness world record for gumboots attempt

07/07/2012

AgFest West Coast aims to recognise the important part agriculture plays on the Coast.

It’s being held in Hokitika on July 13th and 14th.

The organisers are also aiming to make a world record for the most people wearing gumboots to a single event.

If you’re joining in, wear gumboot socks.
I was dressed to go to Dunedin yesterday when I had to go out to the yard, didn’t want to get my good shoes dirty so grabbed my gumboots.
When I got back inside and took the gumboots off I found that the boots had rubbed holes in the heels of a new pair of pantyhose.
P.S. – the spell check  doesn’t speak New Zealand English. It doesn’t recognise gumboots and suggested gumbo, gun boat and gumboil.

Thanks for the stadium, Malcolm

08/08/2011

Malcolm Farry and the team promoting the Forsyth Barr stadium have faced a barrage of criticism over the design, location and cost.

They stayed firm, focussed on building a stadium we could be proud of and it opened on Friday – more or less on time and to budget.

That was no small achievement and the stadium itself is a wonderful asset not just for Dunedin but the lower South Island and, at least until the rest of New Zealand catches up, the country.

Thank you Malcolm, you and your team have done a really good job.

Snow threatened yesterday morning and there was a polar wind blowing when we got to Dunedin an hour before kick-off in the match between North Otago and West Coast. Inside the stadium and out of the wind, though the temperature was merely cool but not uncomfortable.

We were on the lower level of the south stand near the 22m line and had a good view of the whole field. The loos were spotless and plentiful – 38 loos and 14 hand basins with high speed hand dryers for women  at either end of each level and men reported more than enough for them. 

I have just a couple of recommendations for improvements – a responsible host might consider selling water for less than $5 a bottle when beer cost just $1 more; and there would be a market for hot drinks as well as cold.

Hundreds of North Otago people had come down to inspect the stadium and cheer on the team. We were rewarded when halfback Hamish McKenzie went over for the historic first inter-provincial try at the stadium.

North Otago kept the lead, although the final score , 29-19, probably flattered the team .

For more words and some photos of the stadium and yesterday’s game check out this baby makes it all worth while by  Hayden Meikle  and a match report in the ODT and Mydeology’s day 5 of opt-out watch Forsyth Barr stadium bonanza edition.

Former Dunedin mayor Peter Chin and sitting councsellor Lee Vandervis debated stadium funding on Afternoons.


Forsyth Barr Stadium opens

05/08/2011

The controversy over Dunedin’s new Forsyth Barr Stadium continued this week with the news that Dunedin City Holdings Limited (DCHL) won’t be able to pay an $8m dividend to the city council. Part of that would have hleped fund the stadium.

That announcement was followed by news that negotiations between the stadium and  promoters of Rod Stewart and  Meat Loaf had broken down. It is, however, a moot point whether big name acts like that should need the venue for free.

But the stadium was officially opened this morning by Prime Minister John Key  so like it or not, it’s up and running.

And I do like it  – the only stadium in the country with a roof, and able to grow grass under that roof.

The opening game will be played this afternoon between university colleges Knox and Selwyn and on Sunday North Otago plays West Coast.

 


First don’t make it worse

20/11/2010

The news that rescue efforts to free up to 27 West Coast miners trapped after an explosion could take days must be frustrating for the family and friends.

But the 69 days it took to free the Chilean miners are an indication of how difficult rescuing miners can be.

One of the reasons for that is the guiding principle of any rescue attempt must be – first don’t make it worse.

Rescuers have to move slowly to ensure they don’t endanger any more lives or inadvertently make matters worse for the trapped miners.

We are still marvelling that no-one was killed by the Canterbury earthquake. Is it too much to hope that there will be a similar miracle in the Pike River mine?


Whitebait season beats bridge building

22/08/2009

On the West Coast they know what really matters.

Taylors Contracting have to move a river twice during a major rebuilding of a road and rail bridge over the Arahura River, between Hokitika and Greymouth.

Their deadline for doing it is determined by the whitebait season.


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