Return to my home Town Part 2 - a brief sketch

While I was wandering around I went down along the walkway that runs beside the Kaipara River. I stopped and took some photographs of the boats moored at the Kaipara Cruising Club

One of my sisters gave me a beautiful hard cover sketch book as a Christmas gift along with some Creta Colour Graphite pencils. It makes an ideal art journal so I soon made good use of it! Above is the result.


A return to my old town Part 1

A company called the Kaipara Co-operative Dairy Factory Company Limited has been formed, and a valuable factory site at Helensville South purchased.

The property is on ideal one for any factory. It is bounded by the railway, road, and sea; at high tide cargo vessels can berth at the wharf, and there is also a siding to the property, so the cost of the handling will be very small.

There will be no difficulty about water. There is a fine stream - Mangakura Creek - short distance away, and the principals have alson decided to ask the Rev. H Mason of Otahuhu who has gained fame as a water diviner, to visit the property.

It is hoped to have the factory started by August.

The farmers throughout the district are beginning to realise that co-operation is the most profitable method of dairying and shares are being taken up very readily.

The factory will be run on the home-seperator system. Motor boats will be employed to collect the cream from the settlements on the shores of the Kaipara Harbour, while railway will be availed of by other suppliers.

- Ohinemuri Gazette 30 June 1911

Returning to the town I lived in for nearly 20 years and spending a couple of days walking around recalling memories both good and bad. I had to stop and stare sadly at what was left of the Kaipara Co-operative Dairy Company buildings.

When I first moved to Helensville in 1985 as a young 21 year old with my then husband and my first child the dairy factory was the centre of the community. Barely two years after moving there it was announced much to the dismay of the community that the dairy factory would be closing down. With the closure of the factory the town virtually died.

As for the factory itself, it was taken over by a company called Martech Industries who manufactured fruit juice products. Within a couple of years though, the company went into liquidation, and all the equipment within the buildings, was then stripped out and sold off.

Over the years, it found different uses, but slowly the buildings deteriorated. Now they're little more than derelict shells, the windows all smashed out by vandals and the walls covered in graffiti. What a sad legacy, for a once thriving dairy company that started life in 1911. It had even won prizes at different Agricultural and Pastoral shows for its fine quality butter. I recall in the early 1980's the dairy company venturing into Margarine and with this in mind they had built a separate Edible Oils plant. That part is still fortunately intact and very well maintained. The company marketed their own product under the brand name 'River Valley Margarine' I still remember the label with a blue background and a representation of the meandering Kaipara River set in the center. How's that for a good memory.

Railway wagons used to divert around the back of the factory on the purpose built sidings, but now, the tracks have long since been torn up, and weeds have replaced the once well kept gardens. There will be a big hole when the building has gone. A blank spot of concrete and old foundations. Eventually the memory may be lost.

Now I've heard a demolition order has been placed upon the old dairy factory. All I'll say is what a waste and what a shame. It was a once a landmark. What replaces it who knows that could be years away. For now it's just a ghost of a once great company. I'll miss that old building.


Merry Christmas from the Mad Bush Farm

Hey it's Christmas Day already here in New Zealand. Well as usual nothing changes. I still have The Terrorist trying to get into the house. Right now the cows are around the house staring at me. Obviously I've done something wrong?

Simon is making sure they behave themselves and they do not eat my garden. We've put a wire up around the house so hopefully when I get back later today I won't find a WW2 Battle sight greeting me.
Now the Kiwi Summer has come happy campers will be out there enjoying their break..and the possums will be watching........and waiting muhahahah.....

Maybe a Kiwi Farmer or two might get his wish and get that bloke's shed - or like this poor sod they'll have to make do with the old bobby calf box and hide away from the missus. Joking of course.



Whales are worth Saving - an essay by Inaya Clark aged 13

Imagine a dying ocean, dark with pollution. The water is empty, except for a few fish, a handful of forlorn seals, and the last of the whales.

The Orca calls out, lonely and mourning for lives lost. Its' timeless songs echo through the waves, finally reaching those on land - a hopeless cry for help.

But, it is too late for the humans to throw their last life line to the whale, and bring it back from the brink of extinction. They watch, as the forgotten animal vanishes from the earth, never to be seen again.

It's time we start trying to save them from this horrible fate.

Think of the oceans' food chain as a badly balanced tower. You take away one part, and the whole thing collapses. Or, for a better comparison, when a spider breaks a piece of an opponent's web, and it unravels, destroying the occupant's hope of survival.

But, the destroyer will be taken with it.

This is exactly what will happen to us.

If we continue to pollute, and kill the ocean's creatures, the poison will come back to us on land, bent on revenge. What goes around - comes around.

The whales balance the seas' food chain. If you have too many of them the chain will unravel. If there is not enough whales, the same will occur. But the ocean takes care of itself. The right amount of whales die each year keeping the balance. We don't need to interfere.

It's unfair that we have to suffer for others mistakes. Unfortunately, it's partly our fault. We should try to save our planet. We're the ones destroying it, and the way we are doing this is by killing the whales. It is our job to persuade the power hungry fools that they need to stop polluting the oceans.

Not later, not tomorrow, not next year - NOW!

We should be fixing our mistakes, not making them worse. The hardest part is admitting we're wrong. Once we get past that, we can begin to make a better future for ourselves.

Do you know how people tell you whales provide oil?. Well they're right. But we don't need it. We already have electricity, and technology.

What would they do after all the whales are gone? Carry on as if nothing happened - because they don't need the oil. May they did before, but not now.

What about the whale meat? It most parts of the world, selling it is illegal. We have more than enough food that we hoard for ourselves, and we don't share it out.

Did you know the United States of America spend enough on ice cream a year to feed all of Africa?

That is why we don't need whales for their meat and oil.

If we save these beautiful creatures now, we can preserve them, and the planet for future generations.

Everything is linked. From the tiniest of insect to the largest Blue Whale. If we don't act soon, the web of life will unravel, and take us, the destroyers, with it.

It's our fault, and we can't stop the effects of our greed showing forever.

It's time we make a stand, and save the whales, the planet and ourselves.

- Copyright Inaya Clark 2010 (all rights reserved)
Winning Essay for Year 8 PTCA Essay Competition 2010 Otamatea High School


A case of Kaipara Moles and evil historians

The background
It started off with an article in the Dargaville and Districts News last month with Dargaville resident Noel Hilliam being quoted as claiming that the maori did not come to New Zealand first. Instead we were supposed to believe that 5000 years ago Ancient Greeks have come to the Shaky Isles and made it their home. Just one slight wee issue with that. 5000 years ago in the timeline of things the Greeks as a civilisation then did not exist. A little concerned over this I sent the clipping I had cut out of the Dargaville paper to a friend of mine who in turn passed it on to Dr Scott Hamilton. Scott's criticisms of Mr Hilliams claims were strongly voiced on his Reading the Maps blog. Concerned people wrote to the Dargaville & Dsitrict News over the veracity of this claim being made by the Dargaville idenity. In the process the staff journalist who reported the future launch of Mr Hilliams yet to be published book responded in a comment as follows on the Reading the Maps blog post

Rose Stirling said... First of all - I never called him a marine biologist - oops.
I do not know who monitors these pages but I do not believe name calling is very intellectual.
I am Maori of Ngati Porou and Ngati Paoa descent. I am proud of my Maori ancestory. To say that I am racist because I interviewed someone who believes that Maori were not the first to settle NZ is like saying I must be a chef because I interviewed Gordon Ramsey per say.
I'm proud to be Maori but i'm also proud to be a Maori with an open mind.
I intend to report on Mr Hilliams findings in the very near future and a second opinion will be sought and reported on.
This first news item was to break the news.

Just for the heck of it and for a little fun because seriously it was too amusing for words I cartooned the article and sent it on to Scott and a few other friends.

Scott further on responded to Rose Sterling in a seperate blogpost with the cartoon I had created featured at the top with Scott's written response below it.

The Present

On November 19 a scathing editorial about the historians picking on Dargavilles best known son. It inferred that those against Mr Hilliam had an 'embedded mole or moles' basically sitting there waiting for any mention of the gentleman then instantly reporting it back to the so-called haters. Just one slight problem to that conspiracy theory - there isn't one or many. They do not exist except in the mind of the writer of that editorial. Considering it was written on a website that is supposed to promote Dargaville and the wider Kaipara region such opinions should be kept on a more appropriate forum rather than a promotional site for potential tourists to read. The writer further claimed that in no way had the so called haters written to the Dargaville and District News voicing their concerns. In fact yes they had and in turn the Dargaville and District News failed to publish any correspondence from what were and are qualified archeologists. Fail on all counts there.

A mole in the context the editorial referred to is :
3. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) Informal a spy who has infiltrated an organization and, often over a long period, become a trusted member of it

Here is an example of the inferences of conspiracy theories and the accusations of so called embedded 'moles'

The author of the D&D article was local reporter Rose Stirling. Her article reports comments made by Noel Hilliam to her during her interview with him.

Unfortunately for Rose, she, like the editor of newsletters before her, has fallen foul of a seemingly small group of people who have a passionate hatred of Noel.

They have a local “mole or moles” implanted here who immediately notifies the group of any publicity for Noel Hilliam. Then the intrigue starts.

They use the cover of a blog called Reading the Maps: http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2010/11/dargavilles-media-should-honour-towns.html

and as a general rule seem to hide behind pseudonyms and anonymous postings.

Other than the observation that Dargaville & District News journalist Rose Sterling had reported Noel Hilliam's comments the rest speaks for itself in the context of perceived non-existent Conspiracy Theories and assumptions made without any concrete evidence to support the revelations published on the internet by Dargaville On Line. The claim of the posters not using their names is again incorrect. If the writer had cared to click onto the profiles the names are clearly revealed my own included. No-one was hiding 'as a general rule'.

The cartoon above is my take on the conspiring evil historians, embedded Kaipara moles and the sinister archeologist hiding in the back ground. I rest my case. I'll let Scott have the final word on this

I find all these claims very strange indeed. I wrote my criticism of Rose Stirling's article as an open letter, placed my name at the bottom of it, and e mailed it to Dargaville News. I reproduced the letter and my subsequent reply to Rose on this site, but Reading the Maps is hardly an anonymous, shady locale: the name of its author is easy to find, and it was, the last time I checked, one of the twenty most popular non-commercial blogs in New Zealand. Most of the people who made substantial criticisms of Rose Stirling and the Dargaville News in the comment boxes of this blog used their own names, and at least one of them, the Dargavillean archaeologist Edward Ashby, also e mailed his comments directly to the News. It seems to me that the Dargaville News lapses into paranoia when it presents its critics as anonymous, devious types.


Fonterra forecast helps…if you’re producing

Fonterra Cooperative Group lifting its milk price forecast to $6.90 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS), is welcome news to dairy farmers. That said, production from key dairy farming areas is likely to be sharply down due to the spring drought.

“This is very good news but must be seen in the current reality of the drought-like conditions we’re in,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“I think you’ll find this season’s production will be down sharply in the upper North Island. It also has to be remembered that the North Island is home to 77 percent of the nation’s dairy herds.

“I don’t wish to take anything away from Fonterra’s announcement. But for farmers, this good news is tempered by the reality that if your production is down, then you’re going to make less this season than last.

“We are also aware of farmers having to dry off stock now due to lack of pasture growth. Once dried off a cow won’t produce until after they calve. So even if we had substantial rain starting today, it wouldn’t materially benefit pasture growth for upwards of four weeks

“That said, the lift in the forecast milk price will give farmers confidence to buy in supplementary feed.

“The point about Fonterra’s excellent numbers I’m making is that our peak producing season has now past. The weather we’ve had has made it far from stellar.

“We can only hope summer rain enables us to keep production going well into autumn.

“While New Zealand’s production is taking a knock due to spring’s drought-like conditions, Europe has seen an acute end to autumn and a severe start to winter. I suspect this could put upwards pressure on the price of dairy commodities.

“The revised forecast also comes off an improved commodities and ingredients picture. On the downside, the effect of the strong Kiwi dollar is pushing down the forecast Distributable Profit to its lower range.

“The dollar is something Government can control directly by way of its spending choices

“I’m also happy at the solidity in the Fair Value Share price currently set at $4.52. The discounted mid-point has moved up to $4.45 from $4.27 auguring well for the future.

“Given Federated Farmers successfully convinced Fonterra to build equity by way of profit retentions, the cooperative now has a strong balance sheet. All we now need for our farm balance sheets is some rain,” Mr McKenzie concluded.


The 12 Days of Christmas at AgResearch

The 12 Days of Christmas at AgResearch

AgResearch’s singing scientist Dr Matthew Barnett has followed his success with the “Epigenome Song”, and the "I Love Fibre" song, with a version of “The 12 Days of Christmas”.

Matt is a Senior Research Scientist in AgResearch’s Agri-Foods & Health Section, based in The Liggins Institute, at the University of Auckland, and believes that the serious image of scientists can be lightened up to make science more accessible.

“This is a bit of fun for Christmas, but really communicating who we are and what we do as scientists is a valuable way of building support for science and our work,” said Dr Barnett.

Having been asked to compose a version of The 12 Days of Christmas for AgResearch’s newsletter, Matt was pleased to put together another recording that promotes science. A member of two bands which feature more popular sounding numbers, and having released two EPs and a CD, Matt is torn between his enthusiasm for music and science.

“It’s good to bring these interests together, although I’m not sure the judges of the 2009 MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year knew what to make of The Epigenome Song when I sent it in with my application.” Matt’s specially composed track was the first ever accompanying piece of music for the MacDiarmid judges to assess. “I put it together, as part of the criteria was communication. Science has a mixed reception out there so explaining things in a more accessible way to me suggested music.”

The Epigenome Song appeared on New Zealand’s major television channels and has also had over 12,000 YouTube views. Both this song and the I Love Fibre song are being used in teaching around the world.

Matt hopes that Santa will bring him a recording contract or a new guitar for Christmas.

To hear Matt’s latest song – click the below link

The 12 Days of Christmas - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7cX8Rlm1kc


Dehorning the girls - warning graphic!

Listening to 'but they should have horns!" argument won't be happening ever again. Believe me I've seen dehorning done before. It's not nice and it's a messy business literally. The three girls lost their horns today. After putting up with busted fences and the very real risk of ending up with a horn in my ribcage because of a 'friendly' nudge made the decision. Off with their horns! I said. Our local veterinary practice was all too happy to oblige. It's against the law to go dehorning cattle over a certain age yourself. It has to be done by a vet. Fair enough too! One farmer some time back was prosecuted by MAF for dehorning cattle using hedge cutters would you believe. Madness. Cattle horns are full of nerves and are in effect a sinus cavity.

The girls are feeling very sorry for themselves right now. We'll be keeping a very close watch on their health over the next few weeks.I wouldn't recommend leaving horns on any cow. Get them taken off when they are calves before the buds become horns. It's kinder and more humane than having them removed with a big set of cutters. Our vet used a local anesthetic so the cows felt nothing. Lots of blood and they are not a pretty sight at all. The wounds have been sprayed with an antibiotic so hopefully we shouldn't have any issues.


Thinking in Black and White

Zebra Foal - Pen & Ink Drawing

In between every thing else I've had a bit of fun experimenting with my drawing pens. I love Zebras and they are great subjects for pen drawings. Sadly a lot of Zebra sub species are now critically endangered in Africa. I hope future generations will still be able to see these beautiful animals in the wild and not just in images or in a zoo setting.


Westland Milk Products announcement welcomed

Federated Farmers welcomes the announcement that Westland Milk Products has recorded a peak milk flow of 2.77 million litres for the 2010/2011 season, up three percent on last season.

“Given the week the West Coast has had, it makes this genuinely good news somewhat bittersweet,” says Richard Reynolds, Federated Farmers West Coast Dairy chairperson.

“All of our thoughts and condolences go out to everyone involved because the West Coast is a close-knit community.

“As a Westland Milk Products supplier, I’d like to congratulate Westland’s management for a very successful year.

“It shows all the hard work that is being put into increasing its efficiency is paying off.

“This news shows that Westland is growing as a dairy company and shows the strength of us being a cooperative.

“With Westland recently opening a dry goods store and office complex in Canterbury, the cooperative’s management is making strategic business decisions.

“It’s also great to see that Westland is actively using the railway network to sustainably move product.

“In light of the week we’ve had, this positive announcement is pleasing but bittersweet, but it also gives me confidence in the direction Westland is taking,” Mr Reynolds concluded.


Catching up with the animals - literally!

The Terrorist

Sometimes I wonder where my sanity has gone. When it comes to our rather large collection of animals I really at times DO wonder. Over the last few months Inaya's pet cow Ocean has tested my patience beyond what most would consider the legal limit. My choice of words of late directed at said member of the Bovine Species! has been colourful to say the least and requires an entire board of Censors to deal with my profound selection of (as Mr Spock would say) colourful metaphors. Now she has taken to ramming the fences down with her horns and I am at the end of my tether. Two solutions a bullet or she loses those tools of hers namely horns!!!. Option 2 has been chosen, since Ocean just LOVES to use those horns of her to lift up the wire and get out. Yesterday she was in the break feed for all of half an hour before she was out targeting my garden..again! Next week the vet is coming out to dehorn all three cows. I have no doubts they will all have nasty headaches for a few days after the procedure is done.

Meantime the garden still grows, and a grumpy chicken still dwells in the weeds on old eggs, perhaps hoping they will hatch. Not to be of course. We don't have a rooster here thank goodness. Priority right now is to get the fence redone and fully working. No more escapes we hope once it's finished. Since the animals are near the house I went out and took some photos of them. The Terrorist is still tiny I doubt she will grow much bigger - which suits me. Cute as always and of course she will never leave the farm. Ocean's days however are seriously numbered. I will not be popular if I choose to get rid of her - but that's life for you out in the sticks.


Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Centre boosts Global Research Alliance co-ordination

Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Centre boosts Global Research Alliance co-ordination

The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) has appointed Dr Andy Reisinger as Deputy Director - International, to work specifically on New Zealand’s commitments as part of the Global Research Alliance (the Alliance).

New Zealand launched the Alliance in December 2009, and it now has 30 member countries. It is aimed at bringing countries together to find ways to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions. New Zealand and the Netherlands share the leadership of the Alliance’s Livestock Research Group.

Dr Reisinger has worked on identifying and modelling agricultural gas emissions, assessing impacts, vulnerability and adaptation strategies to climate change, and integration of adaptation and mitigation in risk assessments and global climate negotiations. He is also a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre Director, Dr Harry Clark, has welcomed Dr Reisinger’s appointment, “there is a significant amount of work ahead to achieve the goals of the Global Research Alliance and the NZAGRC and Dr Andy Reisinger’s appointment is a significant step in helping us achieve New Zealand’s goals for both. I am particularly pleased Dr Reisinger has agreed to join us as he is an exceptional scientist with unique expertise in a complex and rapidly evolving area of science.”

Dr Reisinger was most recently working as a Senior Research Fellow for the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, based at Victoria University of Wellington, and has a range of published papers on the measurement and quantification of agricultural greenhouse gases. He will be based in Wellington in the DairyNZ offices.

The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre plays a leading role conducting and coordinating New Zealand research to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions, and to increase the rates of soil carbon accumulation.

Agriculture creates about half of New Zealand’s GHG emissions and also generates around 44 per cent of New Zealand’s merchandise export earnings. The challenge for the NZAGRC is to find ways for New Zealand to meet its international GHG emission obligations without reducing agricultural output.

The Centre is based in Palmerston North and is a collaboration between AgResearch, DairyNZ, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, Massey University, NIWA, Plant & Food Research, the Pastoral Greenhouse gas Research Centre (PGgRc), and Scion.

Save our farms….from those who wish to save our farms

Save our farms….from those who wish to save our farms

Speech by Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers, to Federated Farmers National Council, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 17 November 2010

Welcome to Wellington at Federated Farmers National Council for 2010.

We have an incredibly packed programme and major issues to debate.

Having recently returned from China, where I spoke on the New Zealand farming system at the China Yangling Agricultural High Tech Fair, I look forward to having a major discussion on foreign investment.

This will be a closed-session to the media, but it will be an important part of this Council meeting.

My speech this morning is about saving our farms…from those who wish to save our farms.

I cannot start, however, without first referring to the Canterbury Earthquake and the storms that hit Tararua, the Manawatu, Southland and South Otago, which made for a very black September, as the next edition of the National Farming Review is titling it.

Disasters can either make or break organisations.

I wish to pay tribute to the standout efforts of our elected members and staff in Canterbury, Southland and Otago as well as the Manawatu.

There are vital important learnings that we are digesting and will be taking to Government.

But Federated Farmers proved itself totally relevant and responsive. And that is why we now have a growing membership overall.

We worked hand in glove with Government, councils and the Rural Support Trusts. But Federated Farmers showed leadership and initiative. We made things happen as Roger Sutton of Orion Energy has commented upon.

Initiative is something that comes out of culture. We have 111 years of culture.

Initiative is still a hallmark of farming culture. Yes, we make mistakes, but we also learn from them and go forward.

I would like to pay tribute to those organisations that gave financial assistance to the Federated Farmers Adverse Events Trust.

Alliance Group’s huge generosity that was the catalyst. FMG – a kindred organisation, Ballance Agri-Nutrients and ASB Bank, who picked up the phone to say, ‘what can we do’.

There are countless others from Silver Fern Farms, to Arrow Brewery, to ANZCO, to DB in Christchurch or CRT down south and the staff at the Tay Street PakNSave.

If I haven’t mentioned you it is not a snub. I just do not wish this to sound like an Oscars speech.

So thank you for the countless other donations, which includes several provinces of Federated Farmers who dug deep. To you all, thank you.

That, by the way, includes the media. In a time of crisis we all came together.

The shame is why we are not so together outside of a crisis?

Save our farms…from those who wish to save our farms

To me Save our Farms reeks of hypocrisy and this is why.

The residential sector carries $192 billion in debt, whereas, for the entire agricultural sector, it is $47 billion.

So I ask, why just Save our Farms and not, Save our Homes too?

Or for that matter, Save our NZX?

Or even, Save our Dairies?

I am a cynical Scot by heritage.

So when I see a Remuera property developer as part of this group, I have my doubts about the purity of their motives.

Is it myopia or naked self-interest? If you are a Remuera property developer, wouldn’t you like to buy low? I mean, farms are also land banks.

But no, they just wish to Save our Farms because we Kiwis love property. We all love property, but it seems, we love the property of other people even more.

Even worse, David Mahan, an expatriate and a business consultant in China, has gone one step further suggesting collectivisation. Yes collectivisation. He believes ‘the problem’ could be solved by making all farmland leasehold.

This is madness. Is there a problem, right now? No. Will there be a problem, possibly yes.

But let’s face it, if you are a high net worth investor, you could easily skip around the rules being proposed by Labour and National.

If you have at least $10 million in New Zealand you can apply for New Zealand residence under the Investor Plus category.

Rules need to be sensible but above all else, they must be clean and simple.

I look at Anders Crofoot, President of Federated Farmers Wairarapa and President of the NZ Grassland Association.

He’s an American who moved here in 1998 with his wife Emily and family. He took citizenship in 2005 and is an example of the talented farming migrants we need to re-fresh the New Zealand farming system with new ideas, new concepts and new blood.

Would he have moved here under Save our Farms hysteria or the rules now being considered by some political parties? No he would not.

But who is a New Zealander?

The 2006 Census reminds us that 23 percent of all Kiwis were not actually born here. Almost a quarter of all Kiwis.

I also need to remind people that the Chinese have been in New Zealand for a very long time.

One of our first ever dairy cooperatives was established in Taranaki by the great Chew Chong in the 1880’s.

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand also tells us that rural land has been in reverse since 2008, because we are completely trade exposed.

So if we put up the ‘get lost foreigner’ sign, we risk turning New Zealand into less than a set for The Hobbit, but more like a backdrop for Southern Comfort.

Save our farms…. from big government.

Campaigns like Save our Farms miss completely the wrong target.

We need saving from Government, which is acting like a fiscal hoover that lies behind the pressure on the Kiwi dollar and a sluggish economy.

New Zealand doesn’t have either a savings or an investment problem, we have a big Government problem.

Today, Government consumes 44 percent of our economy eight percent more than what it did in 2000.

That’s $30 billion more in real terms. $30 billion year-upon-year-upon-year.

But that sum, which is hard to comprehend, does not even include local government. But the scale of it is this. The combined growth is over two Fonterra’s. Two Fonterra’s.

So how did we end up in this mess?

The Mixed Member Proportional electoral system is my theory.

Look at the insulation that has gone into the domestic economy since 2008 and really, dating back to the late 1990’s, every bit as much as what has gone into homes.

The resulting ‘rough edges’, of the worst recession since the 1930’s, have been smoothed, or have they been brushed under the carpet? Governments have embraced MMP’s dark praetorian truth - you have to bribe the electorate on a scale that would have made Richard Seddon blush.

The only political game in town is to ‘maximise’ the party vote by hook or by crook.

Government is no longer about long term policy with some short term political considerations. Under MMP, a government’s sole focus is all about short-term politics interspersed with some longer term objectives, as long as these don’t trip up the former.

Just look at the minerals issue. Ask why eco-anarchists, like Roger Beattie, have to fight bureaucracy to export? Ask why we don’t commercially farm trout?

If we can’t do the small things like farming trout or even farming weka, what hope is there for the bigger ticket items?

Look at it like this. In October, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced a ‘repair’ job on the UK’s massive deficit. Some 16 percent of all UK public spending will be cut by 2014. Thousands of public servants will go and whole programmes slashed.

The ‘Con-Lib’ coalition uses words like cuts and austerity. These are non-words here.

In July, Treasury warned that the New Zealand Government its debt trajectory would pass 100 percent of GDP by 2050. Think Greece, Italy and Iceland.

Over the Tasman, our Australian cousins, have, for 25 years under both Labor and the Coalition, continued economic reform.

When you combine that with commodities it creates success. We’ve got the commodities, but our Government’s $30 billion spending growth, in real terms, is an economic millstone we cannot afford.

Save our farms…from poor investment and policy decisions

The outbreak of Psa in horticulture is a terrible warning about the biosecuirty threats we face.

I repeat Federated Farmers call for an Independent Biosecurity Conducts Authority to investigate each post-border incursion or complaint against MAF Biosecurity.

Independence works for the Police and even for Real Estate Agents. So why not Biosecurity?

We need to know it is operating to the fullest of its abilities and that it has resources in the right place at the right time.

It is also time for Government to abandon the madness that is cost sharing. That’s like the Police charging victims by the hour for an investigation.

100 percent of the risk comes from imports.

Put another way, you simply cannot export a biosecurity incursion into New Zealand. Yet that’s the logic being used because MAF says, exporters benefit from the service.

Excuse me?

Two-thirds of New Zealand’s export wealth, some $26 billion each year, comes from the agricultural sector.

So who benefits? We farmers didn’t with an average 6.2 percent profit from every dollar we generated in 2009.

Someone benefited from the other 93.8 cents and it wasn’t us in this room.

Here’s another thought, if we’re going down cost sharing, does that mean we don’t have to pay for Government and council services we don’t use?

Look at broadband.

Over one million Kiwis, 25 percent of the population, are defined as ‘rural’ and are expected to put up with less money and less speed that the 75 percent who are ‘urban’.

Federated Farmers fought tooth and nail to get this investment up from $48 million to $300 million. That still is $200 million less than each urban quarter enjoys. $200 million.

Can Mr Joyce tell me his vision for the 25 percent who generates 66 percent of exports? With tourism that value figure will be much higher.

It reflects a nagging feeling that Government is looking for the next big thing, instead of backing agriculture to really grow.

Save our farms…from the Rolls Royce theorists

There are also many in Government, in academia and among commentators, who wish New Zealand to some Rolls Royce.

That we are so unique we can extract a high premium for ‘Made in New Zealand’.

If there’s a bar to jump farmers ask why, but our Government responds by asking for it to be raised even higher.

As a farmer, and as Federated Farmers President, our automotive benchmark should not be Rolls-Royce but rather, Toyota or Nissan.

In other words, we should focus on mass markets where premium is derived from craftsmanship, quality, reliability and trust that builds loyalty.

Research by the University of Otago's, Associate Professor John Knight, found a big difference between what UK consumers said and what they actually had in their trolley.

Research like this provides the empirical evidence we need to strategically plan for future profitability. If we take this research at face value, then 69 percent of UK shoppers motivation for buying can broadly be described as a combination of ‘value for money' as well as seeking out a ‘reliable brand'.

If this research was verified by further research then the opportunity to add value is through branding and the variety we offer. This accounted for 23.5 percent of the buying motivation for those surveyed.

This has potential implications for brand development around the provenance of our animal breeds and the way our regions influence taste profiles. Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre is working positively with Beef+Lamb New Zealand on this.

Made in New Zealand is not enough to get our goods into a supermarket trolley. Less than five percent of shoppers raised this as a factor. That's a true revelation.

This research raises big questions about the assumption of high value ‘Rolls Royce niches pushed by armchair exporters. It sounds great in print or a speech, but doesn't register where it really counts - the supermarket trolley.

What we now need is for Associate Professor Knight's research to be expanded in scope and applied to our fast growing markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

We have to know what these consumers actually want, instead of dangerously transposing the personal preferences of policy analysts, politicians and commentators onto our consumers.

Save our farms…from curmudgeons

According to recent New Zealand media reports, we supposedly have one of the most polluted rivers in the western world, we have catastrophic biodiversity loss, our lakes are in decline and that we are a major emitter of greenhouse gases.

You’d think we were an environmental basket case. From environmentalists to Ministers, our compatriots are not slow to tell us what we get wrong.

But what about that we get right? That’s the bulk of what we do.

Since we lifted subsidies in the mid-1980s, the farm environmental performance has improved immeasurably. Farmers have moved to optimal farming systems instead of chasing subsidies that rewarded the wrong behaviours.

Frankly, subsidised agriculture harms the environment as well as economies.

It’s a trap that the Emissions Trading Scheme has fallen into.

Instead of growing trees for the wood, the carbonistas are chasing the subsidy into the same cul-de-sac the ETS has led New Zealand.

Federated Farmers believes the ETS is so flawed that it must be abolished.

And how many no’s does it take before reality will dawn? There is a better way.

As a country, we can contribute much more globally, than just flogging our economy with the dead horse that is emissions trading.

President Obama is the most recent world leader to kick a trading scheme into touch. The Chicago Climate Exchange, launched in 2003, actually ceased trading this month.

Emissions trading is, as one commentator observed recently, dying a slow death.

Yet New Zealand plans to stay the course, except, it’s the only one on it. The European Scheme doesn’t include the majority of its emissions and it doesn’t include agriculture.

We have been told by politicians that agriculture will not be included, if our trading partners don’t include agriculture as well. Well then, where’s the legislation? Can someone name another country with an all-gases, all-sectors functioning ETS, that we trade with?

We have a switch-off website and campaign in the works but I hope sanity will eventually prevail. The ETS is a seriously flawed solution to climate variation.

Yet, as the author of the supposed Cawthron ‘report’ that the ‘worst river in the western world’ claim was drawn from has said, the truth doesn’t make for sensationalist headlines.

We seem to have forgotten that New Zealanders have brought species back from the brink of extinction. In 1980, the Black Robin was down to a solitary breeding female and four other birds, but has now recovered to a stable population. The Takahe was assumed to be extinct in 1930, only to be ‘rediscovered’ in 1948.

New Zealand does not, by the way, emit 99.8 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Open markets drive efficiency and New Zealand agriculture proves that. Distorted markets don’t. The climate change debate is not prominent in Greece, Iceland or Ireland right now. I wonder why?

The worst trait of the New Zealand psyche is this sheer ability to find a grey cloud in every silver lining.

The latest NIWA report into lake water health, attaches 100 percent of the blame to farming when we’re not even 30 percent of the problem.

Yet if 25 percent of lakes in pastoral areas have declined, doesn’t that mean 75 percent have either stayed the same or improved?

But we even get blamed for a 40 percent decline in lakes in native bush catchments.

Could there be another cause? Could it be introduced water fowl? Could it be introduced species like koi carp or trout? Could it be introduced aquatic plants?

No it must be farming NIWA says with certainty. Given that certainty, can NIWA give me tonight’s Big Wednesday results?

But it’s the imagery we see on our screens that does the most damage.

How many times have you seen images of brown-green coloured dairy wash water coming out of a dairy shed, before cutting away to a shot of an aerator in a pond?

To farmers, we know this dairy effluent goes into the storage pond where the aerator encourages bacterial action that turns that liquid into fertiliser. This is then spray irrigated back to pasture, reducing the need for external inputs.

We recycle these valuable nutrients to encourage pasture growth.

But to Joe public, sitting at home with a TV dinner on their lap, they assume this effluent goes directly into their river or their lake. They are encouraged in that view by the likes of Forest & Bird, Tom Scott cartoons and snake oil peddling politicians.

That gets the revulsion factor, that yuck factor going. While this linkage is wrong we have to get our farming message through to a New Zealand that is now more urbanised than Japan, South Korea or the United States.

Our country is now among the top 34 most urbanised nations on earth.

My message to the media is that you have an obligation to inform your listeners and readers of the full facts behind what viewers, readers or listeners see, hear or read.

If you don’t know, ask us. As a staff member recently commented to a media personality, when will you talk to a farmer instead of talking at farmers?

If you wish to see, then call us. Come out on-farm and use that Mark I eye ball to see what we farmers actually do.

There’s a fantastic amount of inspiring work that contradicts the images our detractors deliberately paint of us.

So several days ago, I laid down a challenge to get every Member of Parliament, every regional council and as many members of the media onto our farms as possible.

We’re working on a programme to do just that.

We also don’t pontificate about green issues while flying off to Hollywood parties. Farmers do because we care about our farms and look to hand it on better than how we found it.

We’re not perfect, but we learn from our errors and we improve.

So let’s get out and front foot things. Let’s open up and create opportunities to inform and engage.

I’d like to thank our hard working staff, who care so passionately about farming and to Chief Executive, Conor English, whose humour and counsel is vital.

To my brilliant National Board members, I thank you for your support and encouragement. We are a dedicated band of brothers.

And to you, our National Council, thank you for the countless hours of work put in to keep farming viable for the next generation.

Can I perhaps end by suggesting that instead of a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry we look to secure a Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry or a Ministry for Primary Industries.

We need our policy makers to be for agriculture and not of agriculture.

But you are the reason why Federated Farmers has turned the corner into membership growth.

Keep it up.


The Unhappy Lives of Shackletons Ross Sea Party Dogs

History portrays the early days of Antarctic exploration as being something heroic. It took brave men indeed to face the great expanse of the great white southern continent those of the early days of the 20th Century knew little or nothing about. Expeditions of such magnitude were to be held in awe and with that there came a high cost both financially and in the loss of life. A high price to pay to set foot on that great vastness at the bottom of the globe. Yet men did and still do today.


On the 9th of February 1917, the Aurora berthed at Wellington Harbour to a warm welcome by the people of New Zealand. The Aurora had been on a rescue mission with Ernest Shackleton on board to retrieve the men of the Ross Sea Party. Many are aware of the Shackleton Expedition to the Weddell Sea and the harrowing experience Shackleton and his men went through with the loss of the endurance. Eventually Shackleton and the survivors ended up on Elephant Island.

On the other side of the story the men Shackleton had tasked to lay supply depots at the Ross Sea for the planned trans-Antarctic crossing were having trials and tribulations of their own.

The ten men of the Ross Sea Party had with them 18 dogs. Ten of the dogs were dead within two months of the expedition's landing at the Ross Sea. By the time rescue came at Cape Royds only seven men and five dogs (possibly 6?) had survived. In his diary Ernest Joyce had noted the heroism of the four dogs that had survived the march across the inhospitable Antarctic terrain.
"Without the aid of four faithful friends, Oscar, Con, Gunner, and Towser, the party could never have arrived back. These dogs from November 5 accompanied the sledging parties, and, although the pace was often very slow, they adapted themselves well to it. Their endurance was fine. For three whole days at one time they had not a scrap of food, and this after a period on short rations. Though they were feeble towards the end of the trip, their condition usually was good, and those who returned with them will ever remember the remarkable service they rendered." - Ernest E. Joyce


The dog Con (Conrad) did not return alive. Towser, Gunner and Oscar had in fact killed him during a fight during August of 1916. Shackleton had noted in his book South! that the dogs were poorly trained, and in poor condition at the beginning of the expedition. The dogs treatment had not been any better. They had suffered ill treatment and starvation. That any returned at all was a small miracle.

When the Aurora returned, Shackleton opened the ship to the admiring Wellington public. The Evening Post of 17 February 1917 reported

Today the people of Wellington were able to make the personal aquaintance of "Gunner," "Funny Face," "Teddy," and the rest of the dogs that have become famous owing to their association with the Ross Sea Party of the Shackleton Expedition. The occasion was the throwing open of the vessel for inspection by the public, and the visitors were numerous. On board all the dogs were displayed, including the mother dog with a family of eight puppies, who did not seem to like having her domestic affairs so unceremoniously intruded upon, and looked suspiciously at all who went near her. Chalked above her was the sign "Dangerous."

On the 27th of February 1917 an advertisement appeared in the Evening Post advising that six of the puppies were to put up for auction on behalf of the Shackleton Expedition



This sale presents to one and all an opportunity for securing a souvenir of the remarkable South Polar Expedition just returned, as the various lines will be sold in lots to suit buyers... George Thomas & Co (Auctioneers)

What happened to the missing two puppies is unknown.

One would have thought the older dogs might have ended up living quiet lives somewhere. Sadly it wasn't to be. Fascination with exploration and anything associated with it created a want by the adoring public to see the surviving dogs.Thus they, like Captain Robert Falcon Scott's famous dog Osman, became attractions at the Wellington Zoo.

The Evening Post reported on 19 May 1917 of the dogs in the care of the Wellington Zoo, with perhaps, a hint of adventurous curiosity.

From the blizzard-swept trails of the Antarctic wastes to an uneventful existence in the Wellington Zoo is the lot of the dogs that helped to make history with Shackleton’s expedition.

Towser, Gunner, Oscar and the animal whose physiognomy has earned him the appellation of Funny Face, the last named still healthy if not good-looking, are all there.

The lady-dog, who in the wilds of the Ross Sea added to the family party eight little bundles of fur, of which any canine father might feel proud, is also at the Zoo.

She is now childless, her pups having reached the age when they leave their mother’s apron strings. Apparently, however, she is taking her return to single blessedness very philosophically, and does not wear a “Where are my children?” look.

A Post reporter who made the acquaintance of the dogs when the Aurora was coming up the harbour on her return from the Far South renewed his friendship with them yesterday afternoon, and received a cordial welcome.

The visit was made with a view to seeing the environment of the dogs, certain criticisms of their treatment having been published in the newspapers. The animals have a strong strain of wolf in their composition, and, in view of the fact that they still at intervals feel the call of the wild, are kept on the chain in the day time.

An enclosure with a strand of wire round it has been set aside for them, and in this compound they are at home every fine day to visitors. In the wet they are kept under cover, Gunner and Towser each having a spare cage alongside a bear.

The other dogs are quartered elsewhere, Funny Face being in a separate enclosure and quartered at night in a large barrel. The dogs are all in the pink of condition, and when spoken to wag their tails with canine happiness. They appear to be contended with their lot.

It has been suggested that the dogs should be placed in the large wire-netting cages where pretty birds display their gorgeous plumage, but it is pointed out that the netting would not be strong enough for the purpose.

As compared with the privations of their terrible sledge-journeys – on one dash in a blizzard with three sick men on sledges they were five days without food – they are living almost luxuriously. A plan to give them proper exercise by means of sledges is at present under contemplation.

Some of the histories that mention the Ross Sea Party dogs have stated that only three dogs returned on the Aurora. However, my investigations have revealed at least 5 adult dogs with a possible sixth dog being named as well as 8 puppies that were born on the Aurora on the voyage back to Wellington.

So far the names of the dogs I have found are as follows

Oscar (dog)

Towser (dog)

Gunner (dog)

Funny Face (dog)

Teddy (possibly female )

Bitchie (possibly female)

‘Bitchie’ was referred to in a report of a meeting of the Wellington Zoological Society in the Evening Post 16 July 1917

Mr Joyce, who had charge of the dogs in Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition, wrote expressing a desire to receive a report on the condition of the two dogs Oscar and Bitchie, presented to the Society as a donation to the Zoo. The meeting decided to meet Mr Joyce’s wishes, and also to ask the City Council to provide more worthy accommodation for the dogs.

A report on 8 December 1917 in the Evening Post mentions that four of Shackleton's dogs as being resident at the Wellington Zoo, plus Osman, Scott's dog, were being exercised daily and appeared to be 'quite contented'.

A brief check of a Wikipedia article on the Ross Sea Party mentions the following:

This time, Mackintosh favoured man-hauling while Joyce wanted to use the four fit dogs—of the six dogs that had survived the winter, two were pregnant and could not work.

The Footnote on this references to Kelly Tyler-Lewis' 2007 Book The Lost Men: The Harrowing Saga of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party.

It is a remote possibility that six adult dogs 4 males and two females, plus the 8 puppies came back to Wellington on the Aurora.

Death of Oscar

Sometime near the 17th Of June 1918 Oscar the most noted of the Shackleton dogs abruptly dropped dead. The Ashburton Guardian of the same date noted

One of Sir Ernest Shackleton's dogs the big fellow called "Oscar" dropped dead at the Wellington Zoo the other day whilst being exercised. Apparently the strenuous months on the Antarctic ice had broken the animal's constitution, for a post-mortem showed that much of his liver was diseased, and his heart was enlarged. The skin is to be handed over to the museum to be stuffed and exhibited.
Of what happened exactly to the taxidermied remains of the dog is still being looked into. Despite the writings of many Antarctic histories that Oscar had lived to a great age the truth is otherwise.


A report in the Evening Post 6 November 1919 brought news of a new Expedition to the Antarctic under Dr J. L. Cope on the Terra Nova had been planned to commence in November of 1920. Ernest Joyce a survivor of the Ross Sea Party decided to take Gunner with him.

Mr Joyce, who is accompanied by Mrs E. M Joyce (a daughter of Mrs E. M Courlett of Hastings), will on arrival in England, organise the expedition. He is also accompanied by "Gunner," a dog who has won fame in previous expeditions. "Gunner" has to his credit a long sledge journey of 2000 miles. The animal weights 125 pounds.

However Cope's expedition was a failure due to lack of funding. No mention of Joyce being amongst the personnel.

In a report Cape Evans - Dogs at Cape Evans prepared for the Antarctic Heritage Trust by David L. Harrowfield the skin of Gunner after his death was preserved and used as a door mat. No sourcing however has been stated for this.

The fate of the other remaining dogs at the Wellington Zoo is at this stage still unclear.

Shackleton's Dogs at J. J. Boyd's Royal Oak Zoo then Auckland Zoo

On the 25 May 1917 the following Advertisement from J. J. Boyd’s Royal Oak Zoo appeared :-

Just arrived from SOUTH POLE, via
Come and See Them.”

(Advertisement, Auckland Star, 25 May 1917)

- Sourced ‘The Zoo WarJ.J. Boyd’s Royal Oak Zoo (2008) Author Lisa Truttman

This is only speculation and slightly off the timeline, but it is possible that J.J. Boyd may have obtained the two unaccounted for puppies (I'm most likely way off the beaten track on this) for his Royal Oak Zoo. Or Boyd may have obtained the female dog, plus one other not long after the Evening Post report of 19 May 1917 (see below). From a letter written by Boyd to the Mayor Auckland City Council dated 15 August 1922, two dogs were listed amongst the animals he was transferring to the new Auckland Zoo. They were described as
1 “Esquimaux dog” (male) and 1 Wolf Dog (female)"

According to Lisa, Boyd's letter had stated that the dogs were the property of the New Zealand Government and were on loan. (Sourced 'The Zoo War" J.J. Boyd's Royal Oak Zoo (2008) Author Lisa Truttman)

Further on after the establishment of Auckland concerns were raised about the conditions the male dog had been kept in. No mention was made of the female 'wolf dog' I can only assume that it had died sometime between 1922 and 1923.

The welfare of the male dog became a concern after reports that the animal was by itself and inadequately housed as would be expected for a dog used to the open expanses of the Antarctic. The dog was taken in by the Zoo caretaker and former Boyd Zoo employee Mr Hurley, who took the dog the home in late September 1923. How long the animal lived after its removal from the Auckland is unknown.

In writing this blog post I have found there are stories within the story. Most of my research has been from contemporary newspaper reports of the time. The tragedy in all of this is the fact that most of the dogs if not all ended their days cramped in a small zoo enclosure instead of being treated as they deserved. As icons of the great days of Antarctic exploration they deserved to end their days in quiet retirement not on display at a municipal zoo.

*Note this is not to be taken as a complete and total history. I have tried to be as accurate as possible however there may be errors or omissions.