The 1st and 2nd of March

Why would anyone march in protest these days?

Yesterday’s bridge-crossing and today’s march on the heart of Auckland are tangible and stimulating evidence of discontent which flags to the Government that grassroot action is alive and growing in New Zealand. It signals to grassroot New Zealand; those that march and those who are watching, that we are not asleep, nor are we powerless.

Already, the Prime Minister has dismissed the march and the marchers, saying the plans his government have made will not be changed, but statements of denial will serve only to embolden New Zealanders and multiply actions like the bridge crossing and today’s hikoi.

If the march fails to effect change, the marchers succeed. If change does come about, the marchers succeed.

Looks as though the marching season is off to a powerful start!

Cyclical thinking

What an odd path the progress of the cycleway has taken! It’s wound it’s way in and out of favour with the public and the politicians, gone from big idea to neglected concept, ruffled the feathers of those red-necks who’ve habitually scoffed at the cycling crowd and excited the low-impact transport fraternity. We’ve even witnessed a major slap-down of the Finance Minister over the cycleway – Bill English having to eat his words and a serving of John Key’s crow, over his, ‘Not this year, next year or the year after that’ blurt on Q&A.

Looks like Key is digging his heels in and we’ll get at least a fractured version of the One Cycleway, with various councils supporting the development of local versions of the Big One.

Still, to date, not one metre has been laid, not one job created, so don’t break out your puncture repair outfits, trouser clips and saddle-sore ointments just yet.

You can’t though, get away from the feeling that the green movement stands to gain from cycleways, no matter what political contorting was involved in their creation.

David and Goliath? Why not!

Letter to the Editor, Southland Times, Thursday.

Farmers in Southland need good representation in Parliament.

With Bill English no longer farming and no longer living in Southland, rural voters will be looking to cast their votes with someone who farms in the region and understands farming issues here. If the choice is between a Wellingtonian in a suit and a farmer working here in Southland, Tim Gow,
Clutha/Southland Green Party candidate, will do well.

Bill who?

Does anyone from the Clutha/Southland electorate remember Bill English? He’s from down here, the old timers say, and was seen in days gone by, revving up Federated Farmers meetings and opening Dental Clinics, but no more. Not a glimpse of his ‘farm gait’ or chiseled features for many a year. Bill is awol. Despite his absence and the fact that he lives in a shiny suit in the Capital, the droves of National loyalists living in the Clutha/Southland electorate will vote him in with a vast majority, though most won’t have seen him in the flesh. He’s a living legend is Bill, living in Wellington that is. It has always been said that the Nats could put up a dog as a candidate down here and it would romp in. At least the dog would be a local.

messy and bad

It “creates a mess and is bad”, says Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson, “but his Federation will try and get some common sense and practical solutions to the mess”.

Is Mr Nicholson talking about manure-splattered roads, or rivers turned green with effluent or even fields churned to mud by the hooves of cattle? No, he’s complaining about the Emissions Trading Scheme, despite the immunity from cost his farmers will enjoy until 2013. What a bloke! What a Federation! What a crock!

sign of the times

Each of us, no doubt, has something that stirs us up and makes us despair at ‘what the world has come to’. For me it’s this – (if I had an image of it, I’d post it, but it’s not hard to see in your minds-eye) – a catapault, moulded in slick, faux-wood plastic, shrink-wrapped and brightly coloured, hailing from an enormous continent famed for the production of such fripparies and for sale in our (and no doubt your) local supermarket. It’s cheap enough,  and saves every young boy (or girl) the ‘trouble’ of finding a ‘Y’ shaped stick and attaching their own strip of rubber. What a marvelous step foward it represents and what a great example of the value of free trade agreements. It makes me cringe! Guess it’s the Luddite in me.

Embrace the inner Luddite

Luddites, eh! Gotta love ’em! Bold activists, standing firm against the destructive invasion of heartless technologies that threatened to cast good honest men into the poor house and destroy communities of industrious workers and their families. Did the Luddites sit around bemoaning their fate, whining for handouts and pity? No, they acted decisively in the interest of their people and their communities, risked life and limb, didn’t fold when faced with brutality and persecution, stood together against exploitation by moneyed industrialists. Folk heroes, the Luddites! They could see the writing on the wall, couldn’t they!  🙂

What do greens do on a Saturday?

(Probably not sit at a keyboard, but I won’t be here long 🙂

It’s light and inconsequential, but I’m wondering; what are greens up to this weekend?

I’m out of my zone at the moment, and enjoying the brilliant sunshine and bracing mountain air in Queenstown. I’m just off to the market down by the lake to listen to the two Irish musicians playing to the crowds. They’re fantastic! (I heard them last night). It was weird, driving into the resort yesterday evening, seeing the mountainside fully lit up for night skiing and contrasting that with another hillside we’d seen earlier, also lit up, but this time by fire. Burning off scrub is still practiced down here, on a huge scale. I wonder what the tourists think of that!

Hope your day will be as good as I’m expecting mine to be 🙂

Palm off

Here in verdant, fecund Southland, we’re ripping out Indonesian jungles (and we don’t want to talk about it!).

We’re enthusiastically importing palm kernal extract, to feed our dairy cows (what’s wrong with our over-abundance of grass??) and in the process, encouraging the Indonesians to fell more jungle to make space to plant out their cash-crop.

It’s a  ‘necessary evil’ says Southland Federated farmers grain and seed chairman John Gardyne, but dairy farmers are caught ‘between a rock and a hard place’. (What’s that? Why yes, it’s the sound of a Tui gagging!)

Winton Stock Feed director Nelson Lyndsay said he ‘did not want to comment on the impact of the palm oil industry in Malaysia and Indonesia’. Very wise and suitably opaque, Mr Lyndsay. Well done, Southland dairy men.


What is it about Kiwi farmers and wire fences? Do those unforgiving, minimalist steel wires say something about the way we regard our land and each other. Could anything be less inviting than a countryside bisected with wire netting and posts? Compare our approach with that of other countries where in many cases, no fences are present at all or where hedgerows; diverse, living lines of fruiting, nutting, flowering natives and exotics support birds, beetles and all manner of useful creatures that support farming, bolstering the health of the pasture, pollinating crops, controlling pests and moderating wind. Where did we go wrong (did we ever have it right?) I’m for starting a rural movement: Hedgerows from coast to coast. Stop the ‘Clean Slate’ style of farming. Let it grow. Apples, plums, hazels and gooseberries along every gravel road. Give the birds a chance to perch. (Oh, and by the way. Send the Leylandii back to whichever ill favoured continent they came from.) Start the movement by biffing pips, cores, pits and stones out of the window as you drive on through. The real green revolution!