Photo Essay - My Inspirational Thinking Place

For Rooma

Ensconced within the vision is a mystic mystic rhythm resembling
Silken threads, at peace, detached
Whose sonorous voice remains unmanifested

At times it is freed after a prolonged wait
At other times its rendering is an inevitability

Again on other occasions its loosened fur
arises to dance like lightning
The whole of creation then descends like a mass
of clouds. Its supernatural
In the Universe then only duality is in solitude

Amidst this solitude I'd love to be stuck by lightning
amidst this solitude having loved I weep


Images taken on our farm in the Nikau Palm grove Maungaturoto, Northland New Zealand


Basement Cat corrupts Celing Cat follower

Grandpa's Christmas Sausages

Our Kiwi Christmas Tree the NZ Pohutukawa Tree

Renie asked me what a traditional New Zealand Christmas was like. I had a long think about it and came up with this little Christmas story that happened when I was just 8 years old. My parents had a section up on the East Coast at Tramcar Bay on the Whangateau Harbour. Then all we had was a caravan attached to a strangely constructed carport that a friend of my Dad's had closed in and made into a place where we could all sleep and do our cooking. The section was up on a high hill over looking the harbour. We used to get down to the bay through a track my Dad had cut out with a spade and a mattock then he had tied a great big thick rope around an ancient pohutukawa tree which we used to swing on and jump into the water when the tide was in. So much fun then.

Christmas of 1972 was a memorable one. I come from a family of six children. Four other sisters and a brother made for a huge family and my Dad had two Holden Station Wagons to carry us all. Each Christmas we would put in six cats into the back of the yellow Holden Station Wagon then drive the sixty miles north to the Beach as we used to call it. This particular Christmas my Nana and Grandpa and a whole heap of cousins all decided to turn up. We had tents and another caravan parked on the section at the bottom of the driveway. Nana was a great cook and loved the traditional turkey roast dinner on Christmas night. My older sisters were set to work peeling all the potatoes and the other vegetables that Nan would roast in a big electric frypan and the turkey she had brought up was put somehow into the tiny benchtop oven we had in the carport part of the warry (our name for the rough as guts accommodation we had). Dad and Grandpa offered to cook lunch for everyone which of course Nana thought was a wonderful idea.

My Dad and Grandpa set to work sorting out bacon, eggs and lots of sausages to cook on the little stove we had. Grandpa asked Dad to get him some cooking oil for the frypan and Dad handed him over something in a big bottle that looked like the stuff. Grandpa then set busily to work cooking the sausages while Dad sorted out the other part of the lunch all of us were so looking forward too. Just one slight hitch. Grandpa was suddenly staring strangely at the sausages wondering why they weren't cooking very well. So did Dad and they still couldn't figure it out. My Mum though had already figured it out. Dad had given Grandpa the big bottle of dishwashing liquid and Grandpa had cooked the sausages it it! YUK!!!

The sausages ended up being used as fish bait. Nana and Mum kicked Grandpa and Dad out of their kitchen and for the rest of the day Grandpa could do nothing but laugh about his dishwashing liquid sausages!!

That Christmas day was lots of fun. The turkey and the roast vegetables were wonderful. So was Nana's traditional Christmas Pudding complete with old fashioned pennies all through it. Lots of custard and ice cream as well and of course the presents. We had a great big pine tree complete with home made decorations and a paper star on top that was put in an old tin rubbish bin and held up with concrete blocks. I can't remember how many were there that Christmas day but all I know it was a lot of people. The six cats wanted for nothing that day or the next with all the sneaky leftovers Grandpa kept giving them.

Grandpa, Nana and my Dad have all passed away but that memory of that crazy summer Christmas Day will never be forgotten.

Sweet Potato Cakes (made with potatos)


3-4 Average potatoes
3 eggs Separated from yolks
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
500 mls milk (slightly less than 1 pint)
2 bsp butter
raisins soaked in rum

Peel and boil the potatoes. When cooked mash potatoes. Pour boiling milk (flavoured with vanilla) onto the potatoes, then add the egg yolks, beaten with sugar, the butter, raisins and finally the beaten whites. Place into a floured and greased oven dish and cook in a hot oven for about an hour.

Red Hot off the Press - AgResearch Media Release ' Nine AgResearch staff given redundancy notice'

Nine AgResearch staff given redundancy notice

19 December 2008

Nine AgResearch scientific and technical staff have been given three months notice of redundancy following the recent disestablishment of their scientific and technical positions. AgResearch is currently in discussion with three more staff and may be issuing them with notices of redundancy within the next few weeks.

The redundancies affect three of AgResearch’s four campuses with the majority at the Institute’s Ruakura campus in Hamilton with five, two in Palmerston North and two in Lincoln while Invermay near Dunedin is not affected.

AgResearch CEO, Dr Andrew West says a few of the staff affected may be able to be redeployed into other scientific areas that require additional staff and AgResearch will pursue such opportunities.

The Science Sections affected by the disestablishment of positions are Dairy Science & Technology, Animal Health and Textile Science & Technology.

Dr West says the number of staff who are being given notice of redundancy is about half the number that would have been affected if it wasn’t for the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology making available a funding package of $1.8 million over 18 months to retain some of the positions. “We were able to use this transitional funding from the Foundation to help us retain scientific and technical capabilities that will support farmers and the food and textile industries.”

He says whilst it is regrettable that any of AgResearch’s staff should be losing their jobs, it is a relatively low percentage of the approximately 650 research staff AgResearch employs across 4 campuses and two centres.

Dr West says AgResearch will also look to identify any potential cost savings in corporate functions in the new year.


Perhaps it was a bad idea?

Photo Essay - Kiwi Country Kids at the Christmas Parade

A Child's Christmas Eve Dream

Last night I had a lovely dream,
But strange as it could be,
For on the bill beside our house
Stood a great Christmas Tree

It glowed with lighted candles,
High at the top, a star,
And 'round it, dancing in a ring,
Children from lands afar.

There were polite, little English girls,
Swiss boys with funny skis,
Dutch children in queer wooden shoes,
Joined hands with shy Chinese.

Turkish lads is tassled fez,
Tots from France and Greece and Poland,
Laughing as the children do
In the safety of a free land.

Perhaps my dream's a prophecy
Of Christmases to be,
When little children everywhere
Can sing because they're free.

I surely wish with all my heart,
This day of Jesus' birth,
That peace and love and happiness
Soon cover all the earth.

- Unknown

Photos taken at the Maungaturoto Christmas Parade and Maungaturoto Country Club Maungaturot Northland New Zealand

Very Red Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release ' Dismal economic outlook must see New Zealand get farming'

18 December 2008

Dismal economic outlook must see New Zealand get farming

“State-led economic tinkering has almost led New Zealand into an economic abyss. If New Zealand needs an economic miracle we have one. It’s called agriculture,” said Federated Farmers economics spokesperson, Philip York.

“The numbers released by Treasury today are more than ugly. Labour’s economic legacy is fast turning to dust in our mouths. 2009 will be brutal yet I don’t think Wellington gets just how serious it really is,” Mr York said.

The Federation is angry that cash deficits are predicted to dip into the red by over $11 billion within four years. The Crown’s debt is predicted to almost double by 2013 and if that was not bad enough, GDP growth is forecast to be just 0.3 percent this financial year, ‘growing’ to 0.5 percent in the 2009/2010 year. This recession has a long way to run. With global commodities still in a negative cycle, consumers and businesses need to prepare for this recession to get a lot worse next year, before it gets better.

“These numbers are so bleak that the new government needs to act ruthlessly to cull programmes and redirect those funds into hard infrastructure. It is time for wasteful programmes like the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme (NAIT) to be cut adrift.

“We would also like to see government look at itself by either abolishing or merging quangos and Ministries.

“The Federation knows how New Zealand will pull out of this recession. That is by growing grass, turning that into protein and selling something the world needs. It’s called food.

“Farmers have had their fill of doomsayers like Rod Oram who have no solutions except nay saying. We need to export our way out of recession and that means agriculture.

“To do that means doing things that will grow the New Zealand economy and not retard it. New Zealand needs major reform of the RMA combined with water storage and other infrastructure. There must also be a philosophical shift in central and local government to improve the quality of spending.

“In the meantime these numbers and the global outlook, demands we have a public debate about what we can and cannot afford. ACC is like a runaway train and the only way to slow it is by throwing the levers of competition. We must also seriously ask if New Zealand can actually afford Kyoto as it is currently structured. You can’t save the planet if you can’t afford to eat.

“Federated Farmers is positive about the future. Thank God we didn’t become the industrial power Muldoon wanted in the 1970s or the banking capital Douglas sought in the 1980s.

“If people want to embrace the sunrise, it is farming. New Zealand doesn’t need more bureaucrats, we just need more farmers,” Mr York concluded.

Related Reading from the New Zealand Herald below:

Unemployment, deficits set to rise, says Treasury

12:04PM Thursday Dec 18, 2008
Bill English. Photo/ Brett Phibbs

Bill English. Photo/ Brett Phibbs

Government debt and spending deficits are at risk of spiralling out of control and will need to be reduced in next year's budget, Finance Minister Bill English said today.

Treasury has released its latest economic forecasts today painting a grim picture of the outlook predicting massive increases in debt as the Government racks up ever increasing deficits.

Gross debt is set to almost double to 33 per cent of GDP by 2012-2013 as unemployment rises to 6.4 per cent and the Government racks up ever increasing deficits due to a shrinking tax take.

Treasury's uncertainty about the outlook led to it highlighting three very different scenarios depending on how bad the world economy performed over the next few years.

In one scenario unemployment could double to more than 7 per cent if trading partners went into long term recession.

English has pledged to not cut key spending areas such as superannuation and said a capital spending boost of $5.8 billion over the next five years would be used to boost the economy.

Treasury said the predicted levels of debt, even though they came from a low base, were beyond prudent and English said his first budget in 2009 would be an austere one.

The plan would be to protect New Zealanders in the short term by boosting some capital spending but pruning other areas.

The previous government had not put aside money for many commitments it had made and English said new ministers were still unsure of the full impact of the risks to the budget that existed.

Unfunded promises would be dropped and "wish lists" such as large increases in rail infrastructure would have to be re-examined to see if they made sense, English said.

Departmental bosses would be called into see English and Prime Minister John Key this afternoon to be told that the upcoming budget would result in ministers focusing on their campaign pledges with little or no room for new spending bids.

There would be an emphasis on controlling growth in the cost of government administration.

New Zealand had been in recession all year, well before the world economy started getting in trouble, and English said he believed New Zealand was still in recession and he did not know when it would end.

Next year would be tough for everyone and his "gut feeling" was the world economy would not be bouncing back in the short term.

"I dream about surpluses ... but they are not going to happen in the short term," English said.

New Zealand had to get higher growth than predicted or else it would face a tough few years and government policy would concentrate on that.

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub, from Goldman Sachs JBWere said Treasury was again taking an overly-optimistic view of the wider economic picture.
The release contained few surprises for him and was consistent with his view of a "weak economy requiring stimulus".

The fiscal stimulus will be welcomed, but not large enough to turn the economy around on its own. He expected this to be supplemented by further interest rate cuts from the Reserve Bank.

"The effectiveness of the packages remains to be seen, but direct personal tax cuts should flow through to the economy relatively quickly and increased infrastructure spending should support growth beyond the immediate future."

"The update from the Treasury was largely as we expected. The economic outlook has clearly worsened, this is expected to impact on crown accounts and thus require additional borrowing. Increased fiscal stimulus profile is a welcome relief to an economy entrenched in recession and awaiting the onset of a global recession," said Eaqub.

In a statement just issued, English said the forecasts had "strengthened the government's resolve to raise New Zealanders'incomes by improving productivity and economic growth."

"New Zealanders can be confident that the new government is ready and prepared to manage both the economic challenges we have inherited and those that lie ahead," he said.

2009 and beyond would be tough for many New Zealanders, he said. The coming year in particular will be very challenging for everyone.

English said that beyond the deteriorating forecasts, it was difficult to predict precisely how the "unprecedented global market turmoil" would play out in New Zealand.

Treasury's forecasts of sharply increasing public sector debt and higher fiscal deficits over the next five years were "outside the range" the government considered prudent.

"While New Zealand has one of the lowest levels of government gross debt and net debt in the OECD, the Treasury forecasts show that the government will have to take action to bring debt levels back under control. The government is committed to a range of effective policy responses to ensure the worst-case scenarios for debt and deficits will not happen."

This would include limiting spending growth, "getting better value out of existing spending", ensuring that tax bases were maintained, and ensuring that government assets were managed as effectively as possible.

The Government's policies were focused on sharing the burden of the economic downturn, rather than increasing taxes and cutting spending.

"Cuts to government expenditure in an attempt to balance the books, and which have a substantial impact on demand, would simply push the economy deeper into recession," English said.

"Our current focus is setting in place a plan to manage the New Zealand economy through the global economic turmoil. This will ensure that New Zealanders are as strongly placed as possible to take advantage of better economic times when they come along."

He said immediate steps to be taken included:

* Establishing the true nature of the fiscal risks that now exist.

* Where possible, dropping unfunded commitments made by the previous government.

* Establishing a Budget process for 2009 that sets out the government's immediate priorities.

* Halting growth in the number of people employed in government administration and getting better value out of government spending.


Goat Island Marine Reserve - One of the World's First 'No Take' Marine Reserves

Image from Sea Friends

Goat Island back in 1975 was New Zealand's very first marine reserve. In 1977 it was officially opened and since then has become both a scientific and ecological treasure. Auckland University established a Marine Biology laboratory at the reserve and over the years have collected a large amount of data and research on the diverse range of species that live within the marine reserves boundaries.

Beyond the reserve boundary a very different story. Pressure from both commercial and recreational fishing have taken their toll on the formerly abundant stocks of snapper, kingfish and other food fish species. I remember thirty years ago being able to go out with my father fishing and we would catch Grandfather snapper. Always only taking just enough to eat for dinner and nothing more.

Sadly the East Coast of Northland with its sheltered sandy bays is now under pressure from development. Subdivisions have been common place over the years with coastal properties becoming some of the most expensive in the country. With population growth has come more pressure on the fish stocks and sadly less are now being caught. Marine Reserves are a necessity and provide a nursery for future generations of fish stock and reef life.

I love Goat Island Bay and its fish life at least it is protected unlike the wonderful Kaipara Harbour which is now under threat from two large power projects. I live just ten minutes from the Kaipara Harbour until now we have enjoyed a relatively undisturbed lifestyle where we can go down and catch a fish or two. Enough for dinner no more but with developemtn and these power projects that way of life will become a thing of the past. I have always believed the Kaipara Harbour should be made a World Heritage site with lifestyle balanced with conservation. But that is my own opinion. To see the biggest natural harbour in the Southern Hemisphere interfered with by power projects to me is wrong. I'll do another post about the two power projects later on once I've completed my research.


Minion of Basement Cat wants to steal the collection plate

Blog that is a must read - Where To, Bud? A personal journey about Alzheimer's

When Bill Craig a Dallas based Respiratory Therapist was diagnosed with Alzheimer's he started a blog Where To, Bud? about his own personal journey. Bill describes in his profile
" A trip into Uncharted Territory: Alzheimer's Disease and how it relates to me."

I have a personal interest in this blog. In 1997 when my father passed away my mother did the greatest thing anyone could do in a time of grief. She donated my father's brain to the Alzheimer's Research Foundation. What greater gift could be given to help find a cure and better treatment for this debilitating condition. No-one deserves to have Alzheimer's. My mother a year later became a chaplain for Alzheimer's and Dementia Patients. I've shared over the years much of her personal experiences with families and the people themselves. Mum is now retired but the work is continuing taken up by other caring people. I hope that somewhere my father's gift has helped make some advances in Alzheimer's research to help Bill and other people who have Alzheimer's.

I've just been reading Bill's last post. He had a jam session with some of his friends playing "Knocking on Heavens Door' written of course by Bob Dillon. It's Bill's last few words from this post I've copied and brought over into this post. I don't think I could describe what he's dealing with any better than Bill can in his own words:

I will let this be a sort of "pilot program" with my situation as "guinea pig", and I will relate my experience - warts and all - right here on my blog. So if you have a loved one (or are a loved one) with an AD diagnosis, please bookmark my site, and I will keep you updated every step of the way.

I just think this is important. We already are dealing with this friggin' disease, let's give ourselves a break and not have to worry about where things are and focus instead on getting better.

Tomorrow let's discuss "DENIAL", okay?

Thanks for being here for me, and all of us!


Bill you are awesome. Hang in there. And anyone who reads this post go over read Bill's blog and click the follow button. I have and will keep reading every post and giving Bill support in his journey. Bill has an adult content warning on his blog - only because he feels his blog is only suitable for adults not because of anything else so don't be put off by it.

Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release 'Open Farm Day 2009'

17 December 2008

Open Farm Day 2009

Federated Farmers will hold the inaugural New Zealand open FARM DAY on more than 25 farms throughout the country at the same time, on the same day, March 1, 2009.

The aim of FARM DAY is to create better understanding and connections between town and country.

FARM DAY represents the first in a series of initiatives that Federated Farmers is doing to show case New Zealand’s world-class agricultural sector under the umbrella “Farmers’ Feed Families”.

“This will be a great opportunity for farmers to invite non-farmers into the country to explain how farmers farm, what farmers do and why agriculture is so important to New Zealand,” said Federated Farmers president, Don Nicolson.

“We hope FARM DAY will see hundreds of families visit the country to see where their food and fibre comes from. This is not a sanitised farm experience but a chance to meet real farmers and talk about farming practices.

“We know many city children think milk comes from a carton and meat from a supermarket refrigerator. We hope that children will come away turned on to farming and inspired by rural New Zealand,” Mr Nicolson said.

The idea of hosting FARM DAY comes from the United Kingdom, where farmers have offered these opportunities to the public for more than ten years. In the United Kingdom, open days are run by a national organisation called Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF).

Federated Farmers is determined to provide opportunities to show the public what real farmers do each day, every day of the year. Given the importance of agriculture to the New Zealand economy, FARM DAY will give people the chance to see farm eco-systems and the farming profession in action.

“Federated Farmers’ FARM DAY will be distinctively kiwi and farmers are excited about inviting urban families to see the country way of life. Farmers have great stories to tell and are enthusiastic about telling them.

“Running FARM DAY on the same day, at the same time and right around New Zealand, will make for a fantastic day. Dairy, goats, cropping, sheep, beef, bees and the high country, will all make for a diverse experience,” Mr Nicolson concluded.


Pineapple Pudding this is YUM!


1 Packet of Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
1 cup of well drained pineapple chunks
1/2 pint of cream (300mls)
3/4 cup of pineapple syrup

Pour the cream and pineapple syrup into a mixing bowl
Sprinkle the contents of the pudding mix on top
Whip this mixture with a rotary beater (or you can just use a hand one)
for 1 minute until it starts to thicken and hold its shape

Fold in the pineapple chunks.
Spoon the dessert into parfait glasses (or whatever you have on hand)
Set aside for 10 minutes
Garnish with extra whipped sweetened cream and extra pineapple chunks.


My wonderful daughter Inaya was awarded the Cullen Shield for Citizenship at the Maungaturoto Primary School Senior Prizegiving this morning. I was blown away. Inaya really did deserve it too. She cares so much about everyone and everything. I'm proud to be her Mum. AWESOME!!!!

At last! A Tui in my garden

When the Tui sits in the Kowhai tree
and the sun tips the mountain tops with gold
when the Rata blooms in the forest glade,
and the hills glow with sunny tints untold.
I love to roam through bush and fern
and hear the Bellbird sing
and feel the touch of the wind on my face
while the joy in my heart does ring.

from the NZ Folk song "Homeland Aotearoa"
Lyrics by A.G. Hall 1920's

For many weeks I have have heard him singing in the bush. His harsh but melodic song was a welcome change from the call of the less than welcome Indian Mynah birds and magpies squabbling over territory. The only one I welcome right now is Mr Hawk. Mr Screech has vanished again so I guess he'll appear again sometime soon. Finally at last the Tui (pronounced Too - ee) made an appearance and I had the camera ready as he fed on the flax flowers just near the house. Tuis are wonderful birds and found only here in New Zealand. I'll plant some more flax for him and his little family then make sure the possums are well and truly kept down in numbers. Hopefully I 'll see him again and soon. Native bush just isn't the same without a tuis' call to give it a voice with a wonderful song. Just like the wonderful song lyrics above I learned as a little girl of just six for a school end of year concert. Strange how some songs just never leave your memory long after you've ceased to sing them.

Hot off the Press - AgResearch Media Release 'Major collaboration in food and biological research'

Major collaboration in food and biological research

16 December 2008

Two of New Zealand’s leading research organisations, The University of Auckland and AgResearch, have announced a major new collaboration to improve human health through diet.

They will work closely together on research in growth and development at the scientific interface between human and animal biology. In particular they want to develop new animal-based foods to keep people well and strong.

Their collaboration will be centred on the University’s prestigious Liggins Institute under the directorship of Professor Peter Gluckman FRS.

AgResearch will second some staff to the Liggins for a new joint centre and the two parties will jointly invest in new research which will be jointly commercialised for New Zealand’s benefit. The CEO of AgResearch will join the Advisory Board of the Liggins Institute. Professor Gluckman will take on a role of assisting AgResearch in defining strategies to capture the best benefit from its research in growth and development.

“Our vision is to leverage the underutilised synergies of the two organisations,” says AgResearch CEO Dr Andrew West. “New animal-based foods have huge potential to help with major, currently unmet human health needs. This could create transformational change in the pastoral livestock, food and health sectors.”

“Our goal is to create new knowledge and intellectual property around the production of highly nutritious foods from livestock and thereby bring about marked improvements in human health through diet,” says University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon, who also has a background in pastoral animal research. “We will focus on research areas that can pull the New Zealand agricultural and food sectors out of their current commodity tracks and bring compelling economic benefits to this country.”

The collaboration will build on major developments in biomedical research such as the recent understanding of metabolic processes that lead to obesity in humans and increased carcass fatness in farm animals, says Professor Gluckman. “This new knowledge now allows us to manage and improve the health of infants and young animals through better nutrition. This new initiative is the first step in what we hope will be a new vision for best using New Zealand’s skills in biomedical and biological research for maximum advantage.”

Hot off the Press - NZ Dairy Awards Trust Media Release 'Awards Assist in Volatile Economic Climate'


Participants in the 2009 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will gain expert advice on how to position their farm business to better meet the challenges posed by the global economic crisis.

Northland Convenors Brian and Paulette Johns say entries are now being accepted in the awards, incorporating the Sharemilker of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“It’s pretty well known that people who enter the awards gain so much from the process of entering – from the people they meet, feedback they receive and prizes they gain,” Mr Johns says.

“Our judges are probably one of our greatest assets, as they provide timely and informative feedback and advice to all entrants that help them make improvements to their businesses.

“This sort of expert advice is invaluable and at a time like this – with the dairy payout dropping and international market volatility – it can be priceless.”

Mr Johns says the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards aim to encourage best practice, the sharing of excellence and also identify and promote the dairy industry’s future leaders.

The awards are run in 12 regions, with each of the three regional winners all progressing to a national final and the opportunity to win the national title and more than $100,000 in cash and prizes.

The Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, Blue Wing Honda, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner Agriculture ITO.

Entries close in early January, with entry forms available from Mr Johns, sponsors or downloaded from the awards website, www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

Very Red Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release ' WTO knockback is not good for the New Zealand economy'

16 December 2008

WTO knockback not good for the New Zealand economy

“Getting the WTO Ministerial Meeting back on track is the single biggest diplomatic priority for New Zealand right now. There are big stakes at play for our economy and we need to focus all of our resources into correcting what’s not happening in Geneva,” said Federated Farmers president, Don Nicolson.

“Last night’s cancellation of the WTO Ministerial Meeting, planned for later this week, is extremely bad news for New Zealand. As it looks right now, it’s a bad way to end a very bad year economically.

"After the recent APEC summit and the world economic meltdown, Federated Farmers had high hopes that finally, politicians had got the message that trade was better than stuffing US$300 billion in subsidies down the throats of inefficient businesses.

“The only good news to emerge today is that the New Zealand Ambassador to the WTO and Chair of WTO Agriculture Negotiations, Crawford Falconer, is now staying in Geneva to demonstrate that concluding Doha will benefit their economies, as much as it will benefit ours.

“Both Mr Falconer and Trade Minister, Tim Groser, represent some serious intellectual grunt and we hope this dynamic duo will get something over the line early in the New Year.

“Federated Farmers biggest concern is that instead of learning from the Great Depression, the ghost of protectionism may now be re-emerging.

“Protectionism back then turned the share market crash of 1929 into the Great Depression that lasted until World War Two. Our government needs to be wary of moves offshore to enact latter-day versions of the disastrous Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

“As Mr Groser said yesterday a political fix is needed. In this we look to the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The United States must be a force for good on trade. The incoming President needs to be convinced that kick-starting the stalled Doha Round is a major priority.

“If Doha saw an end to negative practices in trade and services, the value to the world economy has been estimated by the Economist magazine at US$73 billion dollars a year. A successful conclusion to Doha is absolutely essential if New Zealand is to re-enter the top half of the OECD,” Mr Nicolson concluded.


This is Yeti. Yeti is not a nice cuddly creature of the Himalayan snows. Yeti is a predator. Her victims are numerous. Many toilet rolls, pieces of innocent string and even the majestic alpine sofa have fallen victim to the Yeti's deadly claws. Yeti now has six small yetis - cute as they are these smaller Yetis will soon hunt for the innocent victims. Yeti will train the smaller Yetis on my sister's toes. Nothing will be safe. Lock your doors. Protect your children...for the Yeti is waiting to strike...be careful very careful....


Ah..guys? There's a Minion in my bag...

Photo Essay - Night Garden with a poem "Evening" by Ranier Maria Rilke

The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;

and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion
of what becomes a star each night, and rises;

and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable
it is alternately stone in you and star.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Evening

Photos taken at the gardens of Settler's Lodge Waimauku North Auckland New Zealand.

Red Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release 'Water storage is one of the 'magic bullets' the NZ economy needs'

15 December 2008

Water storage is one of the ‘magic bullets’ the NZ economy needs

“If there is one magic bullet guaranteed to transform the New Zealand economy it is water storage,” says Federated Farmers water spokesperson, Hugh Ritchie.

Federated Farmers is analysing the water storage potential of regions around New Zealand. In the Canterbury region alone it has identified water storage potential to fill the equivalent of around 650,000 Olympic sized swimming pools; enough water storage to supply ten cities the size of Auckland. With water fundamental to any agricultural system, water storage is needed to keep grass growing over lean summer months. The Federation contends this will lead to an agricultural and economic transformation generating billions of dollars in export earnings.

“We are pleased to see the Minister of Agriculture take up Federated Farmers’ campaign to bank water when it’s plentiful, to irrigate productive land when it’s not. David Carter deserves praise for linking economic productivity with water storage in convening a water forum later this month,” said Mr Ritchie.

“Banking water makes sense for the environment. Fish need water so creating a better environment for fish will generate new recreational and tourism opportunities. Water storage is a winner for the whole community.

“The Opuha Dam in South Canterbury is a good example of what we mean. In October, the Opuha Dam Water Management Project was the supreme winner of the 2008 Canterbury Resource Management Awards. It is a sustainable water storage project supported by Fish and Game, local Iwi and the community.

“Compared with road building the cost of water storage is a bargain, but one that delivers farmers’ much needed water to irrigate, recreational anglers’ new places to fish as well as habitat for wildlife.

“We know from the Opuha economic study that for every dollar generated on-farm as a result of water storage, $8.30 in economic benefits flowed into the wider economy. Those are not just farmer benefits but benefits for everyone in New Zealand. It stands to reason that come summer, when the grass stops growing, farmers either dry off or de-stock. That drop in productivity also drops the living standard of every New Zealander. Water storage will turn this around.

“Canterbury is an excellent case in point given the spectre of drought is reappearing after heavy rain and snowfall over winter. New water storage and increased water take from some existing rivers has potential to irrigate a further 325,000 hectares of land. That expands the productive land in the Canterbury region by a full third. We are not talking massive projects but modest schemes like the award winning Opuha Dam.

“Even if all of Canterbury’s town water was to be supplied and every singe hectare of farmland on the Canterbury Plains irrigated, only 12% of the water in Canterbury currently running out to sea would be utilised. That gives some scale to the amount of water that exists.

“New Zealand is not like Australia as we don’t lack for water it’s that we don’t bank the stuff.

“New Zealand needs to keep the grass growing as there is an economic impact if we don’t. Last season’s drought cost the economy $1.2 billion so if we just spent some of that figure on water storage infrastructure, everyone wins.

“In light of climate change and El Niño/La Niña weather patterns the time has come to bank water. That’s the key message we will be taking to the Minister’s water forum later this month. The cost of not doing so is high yet the cost of doing so is low relative to other infrastructure projects.

“As part of the Federated Farmers’ campaign on water storage we are also taking a list of suggested projects to the Government. We hope to convince the new Government that storing water is strongly tied to improved environmental outcomes, economic growth and productivity,” Mr Ritchie concluded.

Related Links:
2006 Speech by Jim Anderton on the Opuha Dam

Power Point Presentation of the Opuha Dam Project

Thanks goes to Timespanner for providing these links

6 am this morning on the farm

Yet another possum caught. They must be having a good year that's six in the last four days. I watched a hawk hovering over the trees waiting for the baby rabbits to venture out of their burrow here just near the house. Mr Hawk missed out today. The adults weren't about to let their little brood of babies end up as a hawk's breakfast. Emerald came in with a badly scratched up nose from fighting no doubt with a possum. Mr Screech showed up last night making as much noise as he could. I hope he didn't eat my goldfish. No sign of him or Mrs Screech this morning. It's now 7.05am. Six chickens are sitting at the door giving me the 'give us food now' look. The Terrorist is figuring out how she can escape the big tyre thing tied to her halter and it's another day beginning. Grey skies again but rain here is at a premium. We need it.

Possible Secret Agents of Basement Cat discovered.....

Art Stuff - Clydesdale Horse sketch form my visual diary

This one was a quick scribble. Normally I do them better but it's the dead of the night and I was far too busy staring at Rush Hour 3 to actually pay proper attention. Fun to do and I love horses anyway. This horse was part aof a team of three that were being used to give wagon rides at Devonport in Auckland City last year. Devonport is a wonderful place to visit. Have to go there again when I get the chance.


The Full Moon last night with a poem by Rumi


The sky was lit
by the splendor of the moon
So powerful
I fell to the ground

Your love
has made me sure

I am ready to forsake
this worldly life
and surrender to the magnificence
of your Being

- Rumi

The night before the clouds had covered the sky dashing any chance of getting to see the moon at its closest to earth. Last night though the clouds had cleared away so I had a great view. Awesome.