Reform of the WTO, food security and climate change are on the agenda as O’Connor heads for Europe

Buzz from the Beehive

Just as soon as he was back on duty, Damien O’Connor was packing his bags for a journey to Europe.

But first he announced a second dollop of dollars for flood-ravaged farmers, this time in the Wairarapa.

Government funding relief for flood-affected Wairarapa farmers and growers

The Government has extended its medium-scale classification of Cyclone Hale to the Wairarapa after assessing storm damage to the eastern coastline of the region.

 This followed his announcement last week of Government support for flood-affected Gisborne Tairāwhiti farmers and growers.

In that case the government is making up to $100,000 available to help coordinate efforts as farmers and growers recover from the heavy rain and subsequent flood damage across the East Coast region. Continue reading “Reform of the WTO, food security and climate change are on the agenda as O’Connor heads for Europe”

Fresh developments on climate  change measures in the dairy industry: a wake-up call to farmers

The NZ dairy industry faces climate change hurdles beyond the levies the Ardern government has indicated it will impose on farms. Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell drew attention to them when he told an interviewer at the Fieldays at Mystery Creek the giant dairy co-op and its farmers risk not being able to access debt funding in the future if they don’t meet banks’ sustainability expectations.

Banks are wanting to set Scope 3 carbon emissions targets, which includes emissions they are indirectly responsible for, and not meeting their expectations could result in less favourable funding rates or ultimately not being able to access funding in the future.
“That’s something that we need to be aware of but it’s not a conversation we’re having with our banks at this moment,” Hurrell said.

Over the past four years, Solagri has worked with farmers and engineers to build and refine a solar solution optimised for dairy farm operations. Solagri Energy’s capital-free solution means farmers can have an innovative state-of-the-art grid-connected solar generation system without the significant upfront cost.
“The technology is advanced, but the model is pretty simple,” says managing director Peter Saunders. “Farmers provide us with a small parcel of land, about a quarter of a hectare, where we build the solar array. “In return, they receive solar electricity generated on their own farm at a fixed price for 20 years. There is zero capital cost to the farmer, any unused power will supply the local grid.”
Solagri are currently working on the development of their battery energy management system. Having recently received Callaghan Innovation funding, they expect to have batteries as a standard part of the offering within the next 12-18 months.
“The inclusion of batteries will improve the efficiency of solar and enable us to store electricity from the grid for use in the shed during the morning milking. They will also make the farm far more energy resilient with the shed being able to continue milking when the power goes down,” says Saunders.
Point of  Order sees a link between the message Hurrell was delivering an the progress Solagri is making. At its annual meeting, Fonterra told farmer shareholders that the dairy co-operative was likely to set a target for its own Scope 3 carbon emissions, which would include its farmers as 91% of its emissions were behind the farm gate. Fonterra also warned farmers that it risks losing customers and facing trade barriers in its overseas markets if it doesn’t meet sustainability expectations. Hurrell said the co-operative’s customers were setting Scope 3 targets, and putting pressure on Fonterra to come up with its own targets.
“We’ve done a lot of work on Scope 1 and 2 at our own supply chain and now the focus needs to shift to say, what do we need to do in Scope 3,” he said.
“The risks from a customers and consumer perspective is that we may be in a situation where those customers don’t work with us, they purchase from other countries, and there are other countries that do have Scope 3 emissions targets in place in various sectors.
“Of course, there may be markets that still are open to us. But our job is to extract the best value we can and we believe that those customers and consumers that are prepared to pay will be seeking Scope 3 versus those markets that may not pay the same level of return.”
While pressure was being put on Fonterra, Hurrell said the company believed that becoming more sustainable was “the right thing to do.”
“Our job is to paint a picture of what the future looks like, from a market perspective,” he said. “We feel obliged to let them know that’s what our customers and consumers are seeking.”

Govt moves to modernise control of our meds, but wait: Māori healers can bring the Treaty (signed in 1840) into the mix

Buzz from the Beehive

Conflicts between Treaty of Waitangi demands to protect Māori healing methods and the influence of medical science on health regulators have been anticipated, as the Government introduces the Therapeutic Products Bill in Parliament.

The Bill, aimed at modernising the way medicines, medical devices and natural health products are regulated, replaces the Medicines Act 1981 and Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985 with a comprehensive regulatory regime “that is fit for the future”.

But the Treaty-twitchy government is eager to avoid the conflict that seems inevitable when  modernising the regulatory regime – to provide all New Zealanders with health products and services that are safe, high-quality, and effective – rubs up against obligations to preserve the Maori way of doing things.

Accordingly, Associate Health Minister (Māori) Peeni Henare tells us of “a new workstream” which  will consider how “rongoā” might be protected in legislation.

Rongoā is traditional Māori medicine, including herbal medicine made from plants, physical techniques such as massage, and spiritual healing.

This makes it an “alternative treatment”,  but in this country it is a Beehive-blessed and state-subsidised alternative treatment.  Continue reading “Govt moves to modernise control of our meds, but wait: Māori healers can bring the Treaty (signed in 1840) into the mix”

While the PM and O’Connor were announcing VIP visits, Mahuta was pouring out some thoughts on the wretched water bill

Buzz from the Beehive

News of the government hoovering the red carpet for VIP visits and cleaning up the environment by advancing the green cause emerged from the Beehive yesterday, including another announcement of Māori mātauranga being to the fore in the government’s conservation programme.

And there was a speech from Nanaia Mahuta which affirmed the Water Services Entities Bill is a done deal and (she expects) the bosses of the four new co-governed water entities will be appointed before the end of the year.

This means before Christmas, bearing in mind the country then goes on holiday.

The green agenda is being promoted by initiatives headed-

Faster, cheaper, better resource management law given first reading

New laws that will deliver a faster, cheaper, and better resource management system had their first reading in the House today. Continue reading “While the PM and O’Connor were announcing VIP visits, Mahuta was pouring out some thoughts on the wretched water bill”

Govt cheerleaders whoop the good news (at last) of resource management reform – but keep an eye on the Treaty’s role

Buzz from the Beehive

It was rather like listening to ministers crowing about the goodies being distributed to programmes within their portfolios before, on and after Budget Day.

It was the joyous response from a gaggle of cheerleading ministers to the unveiling of legislation to replace the wretched Resource Management Act.

Environment Minister David Parker made the key announcement and summed up its features under these bullet points:

  • The system is broken, consent fees have almost doubled, and consenting time frames increased by 50%
  • New standardised conditions will see fewer “bespoke” consents and speed up the process
  • Time to consent will shorten, and fast track process retained
  • On a conservative estimate costs will fall 19% a year ($149m) or $10b over 30 years
  • Environmental protection increases, based on new targets and limits.
  • The National Planning Framework will provide consistency and certainty
  • 100 RMA plans will reduce to 15

Continue reading “Govt cheerleaders whoop the good news (at last) of resource management reform – but keep an eye on the Treaty’s role”

New appointees will get to sit around the table with Tipa Mahuta, no matter which health authority board they are joining


Buzz from the Beehive

We were reminded today of the formidable influence exercised by Tipa Mahuta, sister of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Tipa’s name popped up – twice – in a press statement from Health Minister Andrew Little, who has made more appointments to the boards of the authorities that run the country’s health services.

She is named as the chair of the Maori Health Authority board and a member of the  Health New Zealand board.

Nanaia Mahuta is proud of her family’s talents and has brushed off questions of nepotism when this or conflict-of-interest issues have been raised:  

“As long as any conflicts are dealt with by the book [there is] no issue. Just an opportunity for attempted political point-scoring.”


“I’ve got a talented whanau. Conflicts have been declared, managed appropriately, and in accordance with the Cabinet Manual.”

Little’s press statement has been posted on the Beehive website along with news that his hard-working colleagues have been – 

Finding a cheaper way of borrowing to enable Kāinga Ora to build more houses

Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced Cabinet’s agreement to increase Kāinga Ora’s borrowing capacity by NZ$2.75 billion for the 2022/23 financial year and to enable the state housing agency to borrow directly from the Crown through New Zealand Debt Management (NZDM), rather than from private markets. 

NZDM will meet all the future financing requirements of Kāinga Ora, including refinancing existing borrowings as they mature.

Robertson said Cabinet agreed it makes more sense for Kāinga Ora to borrow from the NZDM because it’s cheaper and provides more certainty than borrowing from private sources.

This news prompted Point of Order to dig out a recent NZ Herald report about Housing Minister Megan Woods being warned not to grant any future Budget bids to Kāinga Ora for a time, after fears of unsustainable debt levels.

Reporter Thomas Coughlan referenced a leaked document from the Ministry for Housing and Urban Development which showed spiralling construction costs had led to a debt blowout at Kāinga Ora.  Concerns were raised about the Government being unable to completely repay the increase in debt over the next 60 years.   

Keeping us safe by spending $1.4bn on an emergency communications network

Police Minister Chris Hipkins announced the roll-out from next year of a new digital communications network for emergency service workers, describing this as the most significant advance in New Zealand’s public safety communications in decades.

The Public Safety Network will deliver emergency services with a single secure digital radio network and greatly improved mobile broadband access.  

The government will invest $1.4 billion over 10 years to build and operate the network, roll out new devices to emergency services staff, stations and vehicles, and decommission the existing network  This cost was mentioned in the 11th paragraph of the 13-paragraph  press release. 

New Zealand’s Emergency Services are made up of about 35,000 staff and volunteers who attend over 5 million calls for help every year.

The successful bidders who will build the Public Safety Network are a Tait Communications and Kordia joint venture, and Hourua (a Spark and Vodafone NZ (One NZ) joint venture).

More information about the Public Safety network can be found on the NGCC website: 

Calling tourism hogs to dip into a $54m trough to encourage low-carbon innovation

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash announced applications are open for the Innovation Programme for Tourism Recovery “that will support unique and transformative ideas that will improve our tourism sector”. 

“We want to see projects that are sustainable, low carbon and that can deliver on our goals for a high skilled and high wage sector.”

 Nash said COVID has been a difficult time for the industry, even with government support through the $400 million Tourism Recovery Package and $200 million Tourism Communities Plan.

The $54 million Innovation Programme aims to support projects that: 

  • Reduce carbon emissions resulting from tourism or have a positive impact on the climate.
  • Improve the environmental sustainability of tourism through enhancing our natural environment and biodiversity. 
  • Improve the resilience of tourism to future changes, impacts and shocks. 
  • Lift productivity or capability of the tourism sector through technology. 
  • Promote and protect Taonga Māori throughout the New Zealand-Aotearoa visitor journey (where the project is led or delivered by iwi / hapū or Māori enterprises). 

Nash said the second phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan which focuses on addressing the environmental challenges and opportunities for tourism has started with a draft action plan expected to be released mid-next year.

This phase of the encompasses three pillars:

  • Climate change adaptation – understanding the impact that climate change will have on the tourism industry and taking action to ensure the industry can adapt to climate events.
  • Climate change mitigation – transforming the New Zealand tourism industry into a low carbon emissions industry.
  • Fostering positive ecological outcomes, such as biodiversity and ecosystem restoration.

Appointing experts (based on their ethnicity) to guide Māori-led climate action

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has announced a new Interim Ministerial Advisory Committee to develop a framework for Te Ao Māori responses to the climate crisis. 

He said a Māori ‘climate action platform was promised as part of the Emissions Reduction Plan to help ensure whānau, hapū and iwi are at the forefront of the Government’s work to respond to climate change. 

He has invoked “Te Tiriti” to validate his appointments and unabashedly mentions the government’s mission to merge science with mātauranga Maori: 

“Our government is committed to an equitable low carbon transition that upholds the promise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The new advisory committee we are announcing today will help ensure Te Ao Māori plays a central role guiding our transition to a climate-friendly future,” said the Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw. 

“One of the core commitments that runs throughout this Government’s climate plan is to ensure an equitable transition for Māori, led by Māori. 

“Māori are kaitiaki of their whenua, leaders in their communities, decision makers, and land and business owners – and it is crucial we work together as equal partners on our climate response. 

“However, we know Māori are both disproportionately and uniquely affected by a warming planet. Which is why it is so critical that we apply a tikanga Māori lens to the work we are doing to transition Aotearoa to a low emissions economy. 

“Through this lens we can better understand the distributional impacts of climate policies and work to balance some of the risks, the costs and benefits to Māori of the transition. Mātauranga Māori can also help us to learn and better inform our decision making.” 

Assuring us that public funds have been well spent on Pacific learners

Associate Education Minister Aupito Sio has drawn attention to an interim evaluation Report on Pacific Education Support and Innovation funds.

He says the report has found that many of the education projects led by Pacific Providers have been extremely effective [which suggests some have not] . 

Budget 20 provided for two key funds;

Pacific Education Support Fund – $39.7m over four years

Established to fund community providers, groups and organisations to support learners and their families to meet education related and wellbeing needs arising from and/or exacerbated by COVID-19. The fund aims to support Pacific learners and families to engage in education during the COVID-19 response, and help learners and families access support services.

Pacific Education Innovation Fund – $6m available each year until 2023/24 across 10 regions

Targeted for innovative practices that support Pacific learners’ and their families wellbeing and curriculum needs which have been affected by COVID-19. Pacific bilingual and immersion education are key focuses of the fund.

As of June 30, 2022 a total of $23.1m has been allocated across 10 regions for the Support and Innovation funds.

​​​​​​​Appointing new health authority board members (whichever board they sit on, they will work with Tipa Mahuta) 

Health Minister Andrew Little announced GP Dr Jeff Lowe and former Inland Revenue Commissioner Naomi Ferguson have been appointed to the board of the organisation that runs the country’s public hospitals, Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand.

Steven McJorrow (Ngāti Kahungunu) was appointed to the board of Te Aka Whai Ora – the Māori Health Authority.

The press statement draws attention to the influence exercised by Tipa Mahuta, a member of the talented Mahuta family. 

Dr Lowe and Naomi Ferguson join Rob Campbell (chair), Amy Adams, Tipa Mahuta, Dame Karen Poutasi, Vanessa Stoddart and Dr Curtis Walker on the board of Health New Zealand.

The other members of board the Māori Health Authority are Tipa Mahuta (chair, Waikato, Maniapoto, Ngāpuhi), Sharon Shea (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Hako), Fiona Pimm (Ngā Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha), Awerangi Tamihere (Ngāti Kauwhata, Rangitane, Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Kai Tau), Dr Mataroria Lyndon (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai, Waikato) and Dr Sue Crengle (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mamoe, Waitaha). The remaining vacancy on this board will be filled in the New Year.

Tipa Mahuta has other jobs to keep her busy when the workload in health gives her some down time.

She is

  • Chair of the five-member Maori Advisory Board which has two members on the seven-member board of Taumata Arowai, the new Water Services Regulator. According to the regulator’s controlling legislation, whatever the Maori Advisory Board decides, the regulator must enact – or explain why it has not done so. As chair of the Maori Advisory Board, Tipa Mahuta therefore holds one of the most powerful positions in Three Waters.  

Notes about Tipa Mahuta on the river authority’s website say she  has held a wide range of governance roles including Iwi and local government positions.   


DoC doubles the dip for doing good to biodiversity and heritage sites – that means $9.2m will be distributed

Buzz from the Beehive

Oh goody – an invitation to a trough which has been laden with twice as much largess this year because it was not available last year.

Inviting potential applicants to slurp at the $9.2 million swill, Acting Conservation Minister Meka Whaitiri described it as a fund for community-led efforts to protect threatened species and at-risk cultural heritage.

It has opened for applications today.

The Department of Conservation’s Community Fund this year is aligned with achieving the outcomes of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and is divided into two streams:

  • $7.2 million for biodiversity projects that reduce the extinction risk of priority threatened species or protect priority ecosystems
  • $2 million to protect cultural heritage sites and maintain visitor infrastructure in the backcountry.

Continue reading “DoC doubles the dip for doing good to biodiversity and heritage sites – that means $9.2m will be distributed”

Shipping coals to Newcastle? No, it is being shipped to NZ – increasingly – while the govt funds those who switch to renewables

We were rewarded – on visiting Kiwiblog today – by finding this chart from The Facts, which shows how coal imports into this country have almost quadrupled under Labour.

David Farrar muses:

Maybe banning new natural gas exploration was a bad idea?

One reader, in comments below the Kiwiblog post, wants the PM to explain how it is better for the environment and our balance of payments (in deficit) to import nearly 2m tonnes of coal.  

Another reader ventures that most of this import will be for Huntly (and other similar furnaces).

As I understand it, Huntly was built to run on gas and/or powdered coal. NZ coal doesn’t powder in that way – it can’t go into a furnace designed for gas. Hence the Indonesian coal.

The correct answer is to burn gas in it. It’s NZ gas, and it’s better for the environment than coal. Win-win. But that takes us directly back to the question of why we have less NZ gas than we used to, and why we now run Huntly on coal.

But hey – the government is doing its best to shake coal out of our energy-producing systems.  Continue reading “Shipping coals to Newcastle? No, it is being shipped to NZ – increasingly – while the govt funds those who switch to renewables”

The consequence of cutting livestock numbers to tackle farm emissions? A culling of support for Labour in rural areas, perhaps

Has the Ardern government just  shot itself in the  foot?

Despite its  poll  ratings slipping in  recent  months, it nourished hopes of  returning to power next year.  But  its  “world-first” policy to  cut greenhouse  gases with farm-level pricing, effectively making 20% of  NZ’s  sheep and beef  farms uneconomic, could result in it  bleeding  votes  in  most  of the  regional electorates  it  won  in 2020.

The unpalatable  truth  is  just  dawning on the  country: cutting  agricultural emissions  means  cutting  food and fibre output.  And  that means slashing the export income on which  NZ  depends.

Clearly  the  Cabinet  ministers  adopting the  policy  announced  yesterday  believed  they  could “sell” it  on  the  basis  that NZ  would be  leading the world, in  cutting agricultural emissions.

In the event, they have been met with shrieks of outrage from farm lobby  groups. Continue reading “The consequence of cutting livestock numbers to tackle farm emissions? A culling of support for Labour in rural areas, perhaps”

Investing in science to tackle farm emissions is laudable but ACT reminds the Govt of how GM ban is nobbling this work

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications three years ago reported promising news about work at AgScience under the heading NZ’s Environmentally Sustainable Ryegrass for Livestock Makes Steady Progress in the Field.

This advised that scientists from AgResearch had developed a genetically modified (GM) ryegrass known as the High Metabolisable Energy (HME) Ryegrass, which aims to strike a balance among reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, better drought tolerance, and farm productivity.

Ryegrass is used as a high-quality pasture grass for livestock, the article explained.

 Today’s market has dairy farmers becoming more conscious about the environment and are searching for ways to reduce their carbon footprint while improving their produce at the same time.

In December of 2018, AgResearch reported that HME ryegrass grew up to 50% faster than conventional ryegrass and produced 23% less methane under laboratory conditions. And last week, Dr. Greg Bryan, AgResearch Principal Scientist, announced that the HME ryegrass performed well in controlled growing conditions. Continue reading “Investing in science to tackle farm emissions is laudable but ACT reminds the Govt of how GM ban is nobbling this work”