Baa humbug! Demand for sheep milk is “booming” but taxpayers are being milked to help a Maori collective invest in the industry

As Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor has dipped into one of the troughs in his bailiwick to nurture a Maori sheep-milk enterprise.  As Minister of Rural Affairs, he has declared a medium-scale adverse event in cyclone-battered bits of the North Island.

This declaration (he announced) enabled the government to dip into other troughs to provide support for farmers and growers hit by the storms.

For starters, a modest – almost trifling – sum of $200,000 was made available for local Rural Support Trusts and Mayoral Relief Funds to use to help recovery efforts in Taranaki, Wairarapa, and the Waitomo district.

Damien O’Connor popped up again to announce state support for Māori landowners to invest in New Zealand’s rapidly growing sheep milk industry.

“We are backing the Māori Agribusiness Sheep Milk Collective, which has ambitious goals to have multiple farms milking about 25,000 sheep and potentially employing more than 100 people by 2030,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Global demand for sheep milk and sheep milk products is booming. Exports of New Zealand sheep milk products were valued at $20 million in 2020.”

But if business is booming, why is government funding needed by the 20 collective Members, comprising Māori Land Trusts and Incorporations that own primary sector assets with a combined area of more than 24,000 hectares of land stretching from the western shore of Lake Taupō to the Hauraki Plains?

Good question.

Continue reading “Baa humbug! Demand for sheep milk is “booming” but taxpayers are being milked to help a Maori collective invest in the industry”

Firing the flops in her Cabinet (we suggest) might spark a return to the fold of 2020 voters who have cooled to the PM

So  what’s  happened  to  the  widely admired  crisis management  skills that  elevated  Jacinda Ardern   so  far above  other New Zealand  politicians and  won her re-election in 2020 with  a 50-year  record result for Labour?

She sounded almost  forlorn  as  she  spoke  on Monday of  how Covid  will  increase  “and  rapidly”  and  conceded “there  will be  disruption and  pressure  from Omicron”.

Just  as 2019   was  to be the “year of delivery” and 2021 the “year of the vaccine”, this is to  be  the  “year  of  moving  forward”.   But  moving forward to  what?

Well,  once Covid  reaches its peak and starts to come down, she says

“… we can start to move towards a life that feels a little more like a new normal that we can all live with”. 

Oh dear.

Ardern   says her  primary goal is to manage Covid with few restrictions and accelerate the economic recovery while continuing to ensure that lives and livelihoods are protected.

She  sounded positively elegiac in this  final  stanza: Continue reading “Firing the flops in her Cabinet (we suggest) might spark a return to the fold of 2020 voters who have cooled to the PM”

$4.95m will be spent but how will the restoration of mauri in waterways be measured – and who will do the measuring?

Millions will be spent – but who will measure whether the objective is achieved and mauri is restored to waterways around Gisborne?

We ask because a $4.95 million project intended to significantly enhance the urban stream networks that drain into the Tūranganui estuary – including the Taruheru, Waikanae, and Waimata waterways – was announced on Friday by the Gisborne District Council. 

This followed the Ministry for the Environment announcing it will grant $2.25 million for the project, called Restoring the Mauri and Ora of the Tūranganui Estuary System.

The council will contribute the balance through existing budgets.

The project involves (a) the melding of science and spirituality and (b) council/iwi partnership.

Council Chief of Strategy and Science Joanna Noble says, “We are delighted that MfE has agreed to support this project, which will use mātauranga Māori and western science to help restore the mauri and ora of the Tūranganui estuary system.”

And:

Council partnered with the KIWA Group (tangata whenua technical reference group) to make a joint application to MfE’s Freshwater Improvement Fund (FIF) last year.

The project will be completed by the end of June 2026, which implies that within four years the mauri will have been restored to those waterways. Continue reading “$4.95m will be spent but how will the restoration of mauri in waterways be measured – and who will do the measuring?”

If we wait long enough, Transmission Gully will be opened and our waterways will be cleansed

People in the Wellington region who are frustrated by the delays with the Transmission Gully project might take some (small) comfort from knowing that – after 30 years – the Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangarei has been opened.

Prime Minister John Key and other bigwigs took part in in the soil turning ceremony at the northern end of the Transmission Gully highway in September 2014,

But opening day has been delayed indefinitely after four previous extensions of the deadline.

Meanwhile,  the total cost have blown out to $1.25b – $400m more than originally agreed (and probably more by the time the job is done).

In the Far North, it should be noted, the public opening of the Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangarei was the realisation of a 30-year project, although the costs were somewhat more modest. Continue reading “If we wait long enough, Transmission Gully will be opened and our waterways will be cleansed”

Why these men die

Whether and/or when Vladimir Putin will attack Ukraine is the story of the moment. But perhaps it’s better to regard the war as already started: say in Georgia in 2008, or Crimea and the Donbas in 2014.

And despite knowing the most likely ending – namely the termination of the Putin regime – the extent of death and damage and the social and political ramifications are deeply uncertain.

But there is reason to hope that Russia’s dictator (in the Roman sense) has made two significant misjudgments.

Continue reading “Why these men die”

The Big Boost aimed to combat Covid but Ngāti Hauā have been given a boost, too – $1.12m to grow a blueberry business

The first ministerial press statement posted on the Beehive website after Point of Order had published its latest roundup of Beehive news dealt with something the government grandly dubbed The Big Boost.

No, this was not another boost for farmers or growers from Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor (although he was busy dishing out $1.12 million from his ministry’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to a Waikato-based Maori tribe, Ngati Haua).

The Big Boost on which we are focussed was an exercise in vaccination, booster shots and  – let’s face it – political hype, if not propaganda.

“New Zealanders have rolled up their sleeves in droves as part of The Big Boost nationwide call to action – but we’re not done yet, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

“As predicted, Omicron cases are increasing across New Zealand and it’s critical we get as many people as possible boosted in February to slow the spread of the virus and protect our communities…”

The timing was a tad unfortunate.  On the same day Family First published the results of a nationwide poll which found –  Continue reading “The Big Boost aimed to combat Covid but Ngāti Hauā have been given a boost, too – $1.12m to grow a blueberry business”

Govt data tells us the size of bigger Crown debt but Sepuloni is silent about how welfare spending might further lift it

A familiar refrain was warbled among the latest posts on The Beehive website this morning.  It was posted in the name of Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who said the resilience of the economy continues to be reflected in the Government’s financial accounts and puts the country in a strong position to respond to the ongoing pandemic.

But at Point of Order, we have become conditioned to expect Robertson will chirrup about the economy’s resilience each time the financial statements are published, which is regularly.

We were looking out for news of big or dubious spending by a government which (according to the Crown accounts) has lifted the net core Crown debt to 36.8 per cent of GDP.

We are unable to tell if we found such news in a social welfare spending announcement under the heading Government Provides Stability for Whānau Self Isolating. 

The statement said the Government is providing additional support for people and families who must self-isolate, helping them to access the services they need as Omicron cases start to ramp up and more New Zealanders are affected by the virus. Continue reading “Govt data tells us the size of bigger Crown debt but Sepuloni is silent about how welfare spending might further lift it”

Poverty and the housing “catastrophe”- Govt MP’s screed of social policy successes is sullied by the Sallies

Labour  MPs  delight in speaking  of  what  the Ardern  government is  doing   in  resolving  the  housing  crisis.

Take, for example,  Dr Duncan Webb, MP for Christchurch Central, who this week told the House the  government is making real progress.

“For the first time in a long time, we’re building more houses than there are people needing them….A housing crisis that was nine years in the making, and we’ve turned the corner. Only today figures have come out to show that not only have prices stabilised but there’s been a small drop in prices across the country, and that is indicative of the progress that we have made.

“How many houses did that lot build when they were in government? This government in the  4  years it’s been here has built 8,000 new houses. We have turned the Housing Corporation into a renter, a property developer, and a responsible landlord—2,400 in the last year, and do you know what? The Prime Minister said in her statement that we would have 2,000 more built in the next year. We will absolutely address these issues.

“Forty thousand building consents were issued in the last year. For the first time in a long time, we’re building more houses than there are people needing them. The Resource Management Act (RMA) fast-tracking legislation is being able to open up whole new developments so that we can have more housing development, and, of course, the RMA reforms—the Natural and Built Environments Bill—is going to progress that.

“Warmer homes, the idea that we need to go and make houses not only livable and warm but healthy as well, and our Residential Tenancies Act reforms and Healthy Homes reforms as well— awesome. On top of that there’s $3.8bn set aside for infrastructure funding so that we can unlock the potential of areas of land to make new strong communities with housing for everyone. Continue reading “Poverty and the housing “catastrophe”- Govt MP’s screed of social policy successes is sullied by the Sallies”

$50m generated four new Māori jobs in eight months – let’s see what happens under the Māori Employment Action Plan

Almost a year ago, the Government was being accused of working at a glacial pace on fixing Māori unemployment.  A $50 million training scheme had created just four new Māori jobs in eight months. 

Stuff explained the Māori Trades and Training Fund – the scheme in question – was a contestable, grant-based initiative from the Covid-19 response and recovery package in Budget 2020.

They could have described it as race-based, too. Proposals (the Stuff report said) must be by-Māori and for Māori, aiming to upskill participants and provide “meaningful opportunities into employment”.

Today we learn of another scheme to encourage greater Māori employment.

This one has been named the Māori Employment Action Plan, although the employment objective was not the first consideration in the press statement.  The opening sentence said three aims are at the heart of the plan:

  • Growing the Māori and wider economy,
  • Giving effect to Treaty of Waitangi principles; and
  • Supporting more Māori into employment, education and training.

Continue reading “$50m generated four new Māori jobs in eight months – let’s see what happens under the Māori Employment Action Plan”

Robertson acknowledges the contribution made by dairy and meat farmers to record export returns

Ministers  in Labour  governments are  not  renowned  for  heaping praise on  dairy  farmers,  but  this  week Deputy PM  and Finance Minister Grant Robertson  was  doing so.  Answering  a  “patsy”  from  one of his  backbenchers, he told  the House the export sector continues to drive economic growth in NZ.

Statistics NZ had reported early this month that the export of goods in December rose by 13% to a new monthly high of $6.1bn, compared with the same period a year ago.

The Hansard record shows Robertson said:

“Dairy products—milk powder, butter, and cheese—again lead the way, and I acknowledge the important role—

Hon Member: Thank the farmers.

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: There you are!—that that industry plays in NZ. The meat sector also saw sales rise 19% to $879m. On an annual basis, exports are up 5.6% from the previous year to $63.2bn.

“I’d like to thank our exporters for contributing strongly to the economy during what is a volatile environment”. Continue reading “Robertson acknowledges the contribution made by dairy and meat farmers to record export returns”

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