Scrap business as usual
It would help improve the understanding between farmers and non-farmers, as desired by GrassFed founder Nicky Berger (MM Sept 4), if the full story was told about farming in New Zealand. For example, demonstration farms such as NZ Dairy’s Owl Farm and Lincoln University System 2 farm, show that in terms of dairy emissions reduction, anything up to 24 per cent can be achieved without any drop in farm profitability. The Lincoln University farm herd size was reduced by 16 per cent and milk production increased and profitability rose 40 per cent. Similarly, Owl Farm has reduced total greenhouse gas emissions by eight per cent and lifted operating profit per hectare by 14 per cent through improving management practices. Based on additional modelling, further farm management changes involving reduced feed use and lowering the stocking rate is expected to increase profitability by another 21 per cent, reduce nitrate leaching by 14 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 13 per cent. If the overstocking on many of our farms was reduced there would be important improvements in air, water and soil quality. It is also important to focus on the total picture of the risks of the climate crisis. The 2018 IPCC report warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. The difference between achieving a 1.5C and 2C target is the death of around 150 million people. That is the equivalent of 25 holocausts, three times the size of the death toll of the Great Leap Forward, and twice the number of deaths occurring in WWII. This will have a significant negative impact on many of the economies of the countries which currently take our exports. This is not to say that there is no place for meat in our future, but it cannot be based on the business-as-usual model and the unscientific premises that underlie it.
Dr Robert Howell, Sandspit
Missing from Mosley
I was disappointed that your front-page article on the animated feature film Mosley did not even mention the man who was the creator and driving force behind the movie – Kirby Atkins. Kirby, and his wife Priscilla and their family, lived in the Warkworth/Snells Beach area for a lengthy period whilst he was setting up and overseeing the process, and finding the large funding amounts required for the movie – this was a long way from their Nashville home. They fitted into the community as “visiting locals”, with their two teenage children attending Mahu College. They are a wonderful, friendly family and as members of the Warkworth Anglican parish, we were all fortunate to get to know them well. Kirby is highly reputed in animated movie circles in the US, having been very involved in major animated feature film work, and deserves far more recognition here than his absence in your write-up acknowledges. We look forward to you writing a follow-up interesting article on him especially at this exciting end of the journey … please.
Derek Olsen, Kaipara Flats
We’ll see – Ed
Back off, Brent
I cannot remain silent after Rodney First Board member Brent Bailey mounted a personal attack, via social media and in Mahurangi Matters, on fellow Board member Colin Smith and after he made condescending comments on the Wellsford district who elected Mr Smith (MM August 21). Having served on many committees over the past 60 years, including 23 years on a national board, I have never witnessed such an unacceptable personal attack via the public media. In these organisations there was an unwritten code based on respect for others and their varying points of view. In larger organisations like councils, there is a written Code of Conduct designed to ensure business is conducted with goodwill. In the Auckland Council Code of Conduct – for Board members – under the heading “Respect”, it states in section 5.8, “members should treat all others, including Council officers, with respect at all times. This means not using derogatory terms towards others or about others, including public-facing news media”. In another section under the heading Relationships and Behaviours, it states “focus on issues rather than personalities” and “avoid aggressive, offensive and abusive behaviour”. The question here is, do the views expressed by this Rodney First member reflect the view of other members of the team? If so, the Rodney Board is in for a rocky ride with divisions, which will ensure a failure to function in a normal manner. Currently, the rural sector feels marginalised. Because they must own land to conduct their businesses, they pay a high percentage of their income in rates, with some paying more than $30,000 annually. They do not need public transport, water, sewage, footpaths or parks. Their main need is for safe roads that do not wreck their vehicles. Today, many rural roads are in a worse condition than they were more than 75 years ago when I travelled to school in an ancient bus with wooden seats. The local school bus contractor has threatened to curtail his services on a number of occasions due to the unsafe condition of many rural roads. Hopefully, a new Local Board will pursue a direction of reconciliation, where all views are respected, all concerns listened to and where Board members govern for all, not just for the enclave that elected them.
Gordon Levet, Wellsford
Baloney from Beth
So, Rodney Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke believes it to be “unheard of” for local board candidates to speak to citizens outside of their electorate (MM Sept 4). What a load of rubbish. Rodney is governed by nine local board representatives and the collective decisions they make are having lasting financial and social impacts on our lives. Voters need to arm themselves with as much information as they can to make educated decisions about who will govern them, especially when there are “tickets” involved. Any candidates from Rodney speaking of their intent out of or within the electorate will be warmly received.
Kristine Dowson, Point Wells
I was disappointed to read Matt King’s column ‘Making a mess of education’ (MM Sept 4) and to see the misinformation about the Government’s vocational education changes.
At the moment, the sector is not delivering. Employers are telling us that people leaving education and training don’t have the skills necessary to secure a job in their industries. At a time when New Zealand is facing critical skills shortages, this isn’t
The previous National government only tinkered around the edges. Due to National’s inaction, the Government had to bail out several polytechs, costing the taxpayer about $100 million. Without changes, the problems with vocational education were just going to get worse. If National’s approach continued, we would’ve risked losing some polytechs altogether. That would be devastating for places like Rodney and Northland. Our plan will help turn the sector around and align it with the needs of businesses more closely. We’re making sure that New Zealanders have the skills they need to navigate the future of work.
Our objective is that existing cash reserves above a set limit are spent in the regions in which they were earnt. We’re taking the time to implement changes correctly so that there’s continuity for learners and employers, and to allow time for capacity to build. Vocational education, trades training and on-the-job training has been allowed to drift for too long. We’re better aligning education with the skills needed by employers.
These changes will support businesses, the economy and the overall wellbeing of our communities. We want people to develop the skills they need to thrive in the workplace and earn a good living, no matter where they live or what stage of their career they’re at. With these changes, we’re taking New Zealand into the future.
Marja Lubeck, Labour List MP based in Rodney
I am replying to a recent letter (MM August 7) in which someone wrote about removing silica from the kettle. I have found a solution that I believe others would find useful. Get citric acid from the baker’s aisle at the supermarket. Sprinkle some on the bottom of the kettle and leave it for a few minutes. Fill the jug with cold water and then boil. Put it away for a while until the water has cooled down and then tip it out. Have a look to see how bad it still is and scrub using a nylon scourer if needed. Afterwards, boil the kettle and discard the water a few times to remove any traces of the citric acid. For me, this completely got rid of the silica scale. You may have to do it a couple of times, but it could save you from buying a new kettle. Apologies to Noel Leeming.
Frances of Mason Heights
It seems unfair to me that certain candidates for Mayor are continually being publicly questioned and quoted by our major TV, radio, talk show hosts and newspapers, thereby giving them untold free publicity at the expense of all other candidates. Relying on this information, I understood earlier that there were only two candidates standing. At the candidates meeting at Snells Beach I learned that another was standing, but that he was not attending that evening. I searched the Auckland Council site and came upon a Mayoral candidates list. Part way through I found that it was for the last election! After further searching to find out the policies of the third candidate, I was surprised to find that in all there are 21 candidates for Mayor of Auckland. I have spoken to a lot of ratepayers since and none had any idea that they had so many to choose from, some thought two or three. As the election nears, I am sure that we will read a paragraph or two from each person but nothing like the coverage the other two have been given. Is there any electoral law that stops media owners from selecting certain candidates for special promotion at the expense of others? Is it possible that this unfair promotion of some candidates has resulted in poor performances by all Mayors since 2010?
an Ferguson, Warkworth
So far, Mahurangi Matters has focused on Auckland Mayoral candidates who have come to speak in the Mahurangi area, on the basis that these candidates are the ones who have shown most interest in the region. With 21 candidates in the race, it’s tough to adequately cover them all – Ed.