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  • gnfb1234

    gnfb1234 5:21 pm on 29/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
       

      ‘Farmers are feeling hard done by’: National kickstarts campaign for the provincial vote 



      The campaign for the provincial vote has started.

      While PM Jacinda Ardern dined in Napier to celebrate Covid restrictions lifting further, Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule and several other National MPs went to the Chook and Filly Pub to hear from struggling Hawke’s Bay farmers.

      Yule, who has risen to the point where he may not even have to retain his Tukituki seat to stay in Parliament, said he was confident National still had the ear, and vote, of provincial New Zealand.

      “The current Government is big on making promises and not delivering on them,” Yule said.

      “Like the Napier to Wairoa line. There hasn’t been a single train on that line.

      “Our election campaign will focus on rebuilding the New Zealand economy and ensure that every dollar we spend is focused on the best economical use of New Zealand resources.”

      New National Party leader Todd Muller yesterday announced his first campaign promise – National will offer businesses a $10,000 payment for taking on more staff if it wins the election.

      Muller also promised not to get rid of 90-day trials and said there would be “regular, incremental” increases in the minimum wage.

      On Tuesday, Yule was allocated the Local Government portfolio and moved up from 44 to No 30 on National’s list.

      Yule said his campaign will focus on issues that matter to Hawke’s Bay, like the ongoing drought.

      “I am happy that farmers have been given a small subsidy of $500,000 [from the Government],” Yule said.

      “But put that in context – there are 3000 farmers in Hawke’s Bay impacted by the worst drought the region has seen for a while. You spread that $500,000 between the farmers and that’s about $1500 per farmer.

      “That’s not a lot. I talked to farmers who have spent $100,000 on feed alone. And then they’ve had to halve their stock numbers. Farmers are feeling hard done by by the current Government.”

      Asked what he would do differently, Yule said he would consider the impact of government policies.

      “The current Government is not preparing to slow down in its regulation-making powers,” he said.

      “I would have delayed policies like freshwater management, and I would have loosened up on rules and regulations around consents and compliance until the farmers got back on their feet.

      “Not enough is being done to help the farmers considering the current Government wants farming to lead the way in Covid-19 recovery.”

      The other issues he intended to focus on as part of his election campaign included gangs and housing, he said.



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    • gnfb1234

      gnfb1234 3:18 pm on 29/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
         

        ‘Blood everywhere’: 80 sheep dead after dog attack in rural Hawke’s Bay 


        More than 100 sheep have been brutally mauled in an overnight dog attack in rural Hastings.

        Hastings District Council Regulatory Solutions Manager John Payne said that the scene was spotted by one of his team near Fernhill on Friday morning.

        “One of our animal control team members was on their way to work when they saw sheep in the paddock looking bunched up, with some exhibiting blood.”

        They called it in and Animal Control attended immediately and once on the scene they found about 80 sheep killed and another 25 injured.

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        The attack occurred at a property on State Highway 50 near Roy’s Hill Reserve.

        Payne said that no dogs were seen so the attack must have happened late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

        He said injured and killed sheep had two different kinds of wounds indicating more than one dog was involved in the attack.

        A passer-by who contacted Hawke’s Bay Today said that he noticed the sheep dotted across the paddock when he was driving by and knew exactly what had happened.

        “I saw the Animal Control vehicles there and when I saw the sheep I knew it was a dog attack,” he said.

        “There was blood everywhere and from the marks on the sheep and the mess left behind I could tell it was a dog attack because it’s something I’ve sadly seen before.”

        Payne said that they have arranged for early morning patrols to be taken over the long weekend and is informing the owner that this will be occurring.

        “The reason for the patrol is to be proactive and try and find the dogs involved in the attack in the act.”

        John Payne said that dog attacks on sheep becoming a common occurrence in areas where there is a mix of rural and urban people. Photo / Warren Buckland
        John Payne said that dog attacks on sheep becoming a common occurrence in areas where there is a mix of rural and urban people. Photo / Warren Buckland

        He said with dog attacks on sheep becoming a common occurrence in areas where there is a mix of rural and urban, people need to be aware dogs still can portray a violent nature.

        “We must never forget that a dog is a descendant of the wolf. They are simply a wild canine predator domesticated,” he said.

        “Even if they have been socialised or trained you cannot eliminate the desire to chase and kill stock.

        “You can take the dog out of the wild but you can’t take the wild out of the dog.”

        He said that dog owners need to take extra precautions.

        “The only way to eliminate stock worrying is to keep your dog under proper control.

        “Just because your dog is sitting on the porch in the morning doesn’t mean it has been there all night.”

        Payne said attacks will happen all year round but can become more frequent during lambing and on a full moon and while dogs need to be controlled better he said stock owners need to ensure they protect their animals as best they can with improved fencing and other precautions.

        Stock owners should take extra precautions like:

        – Electrify fences containing stock, especially if you are close to an urban area. A dog that gets a zap from an electric fence is unlikely to return

        – Avoid home kills during the attack season

        – House stock closer to home for monitoring at high risk times, especially when new born lambs/ full moon

        – Don’t leave stock daggy during the attack season

        – Ensure not to attract predators by leaving dead stock unburied, skins out to dry etc.

        – Take prevention measures against things like fly strike, foot rot, as these smells can attract dogs.



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      • gnfb1234

        gnfb1234 2:15 pm on 29/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
           

          Farmhand accused of animal cruelty unfairly dismissed, employment authority 



          A farmhand in central New Zealand accused of scaring cows and allowing puppies to die has won a case of wrongful dismissal against his employer.

          Tristan Smith denied behaving recklessly around the farm animals and was backed by an Employment Relations Authority decision that awarded him $18,000 for the hurt caused by his unfair dismissal.

          Smith had been chopping firewood at the Taihape farm in May last year when his employer Scott Mickleson came and sacked him without giving prior notice.

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          Mickleson alleged Smith had breached his contract through poor performance and by not getting his driver’s licence as required.

          Smith’s poor performance allegedly included racing his quad bike towards cows so that the frightened animals jumped through a fence, Mickleson claimed.

          He was also regularly late to work, didn’t get his own working dogs, which were vital to the job, and allowed two puppies to die, Mickleson claimed.

          Smith denied the charges.

          He claimed he had been driving a quad bike on the farm in May last year and came around a corner to see the cows up ahead.

          He slowed from about 20km/h to 6km/h and yet one of the cows about 20m ahead still jumped into the fence, Smith told the ERA hearing.

          Smith claimed Mickleson came up to him afterward angry and swearing.

          He said he tried to explain he hadn’t been speeding but Mickleson told him it was “my way or the highway”.

          Smith said he was upset with how the matter had been handled but put it behind him as he had not been given a formal warning.

          But Mickleson claimed he had given a formal warning. He said he saw Smith speeding down a laneway and a cow jumping into the fence. He claimed it was the second time Smith had done it.

          In an incident shortly after, Mickleson claimed Smith had cruelly allowed two puppies to die.

          But Smith denied it. He said Mickleson had asked him to feed and keep an eye on two puppies that had recently been born.

          He said Mickleson was going away to the South Island and told him to put horse blankets over the pen containing the puppies and their mother.

          Smith said he did as told but when he came back the first evening to feed the pups, one had died.

          When he then went back next morning to check and feed again, the other pup had died.

          Mickleson had claimed he told Smith his main task was to look after the pups.

          But Smith denied that, saying it was one of many tasks left to him and he had done what was asked and the pups’ death wasn’t his responsibility.

          When Mickleson returned a week later, however, he was “very upset” by the deaths, he told the ERA.

          He claimed he and his daughter had successfully cared for the newborn pups the weekend prior and that while he was away the mother dog had dug a hole about a foot and a half deep to try and warm the pups.

          “He felt this was a clear case of neglect and cruelty towards farm animals,” the ERA ruling stated.

          Mickleson claimed he took a few days to cool off and then called a meeting with Smith.

          He claimed he hadn’t intended to fire Smith but when Smith didn’t show contrition or acceptance of what had happened, Mickleson fired him, giving him two weeks’ notice.

          However, Smith’s contract required Mickleson to give 48 hours’ prior warning if he had serious concerns about the job being done.

          Then Smith should be entitled to a support person of his choosing at the meeting after which Smith should be given time to respond to the allegations.

          Depending on the outcome of the discussion and severity of the concerns, Mickleson would only then be able to give a final warning notice.

          However, Mickleson and Smith both said these processes were not followed.

          The ERA ruling said it was important such processes were followed to ensure workplace grievances were investigated properly.

          Also following proper procedure and keeping a record of it ensured employers could prove why they sacked employees and protected workers from unreasonable bosses.

          The ruling stated that because Mickleson didn’t follow these procedures the dismissal was unjustified.

          Smith told of the hurt he suffered from the dismissal and that it took him more than two months to find another job.

          He was consequently awarded $18,000 in damages for hurt and humiliation along with more than $7000 in lost wages and unpaid holiday pay.



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        • gnfb1234

          gnfb1234 2:20 pm on 28/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
             

            $75m Omokoroa town centre development proposed 


            An application for a privately funded $75 million Omokoroa town centre development has been submitted to the Western Bay of Plenty District Council for resource consent.

            The submission for 404 Omokoroa Rd, by local business JACE Investments Limited, is to be considered by the council as part of its Omokoroa Structure Plan for the long-term development of land between the peninsula’s railway line and State Highway 2.

            The proposal features staged development of a multipurpose retail, commercial and social community hub. Shops, cafes, offices and a civic centre are included along with a possible cinema and multiple green spaces that could accommodate the likes of a farmers’ market.

            Company Director Craig Lemon said the vision for the town centre design, aesthetics and ambience had been carefully considered to reflect the lifestyle, character and environment of Omokoroa.

            An artists impression of the proposed Omokoroa town centre development. Photo / Supplied
            An artists impression of the proposed Omokoroa town centre development. Photo / Supplied

            “Extensive planning and reviews have been undertaken including architectural and urban design concepts, transport, geotechnical, economic, cultural and archaeological assessments,” Lemon said.

            The 7.9 hectare site includes 5.3 hectares already commercially zoned.

            The remainder is categorised as Future Urban. Located next to the proposed future school, within walking distance of new residential developments and linked with a pre-existing network of walkways and cycleways, the town centre would be easily accessible for locals and surrounding rural communities.

            Fully serviced by waste and stormwater infrastructure, Lemon said their proposal was less exposed to lengthy regulatory, land procurement and town planning processes of other options being considered by the council.

            “In a post-Covid environment, our plans are potentially shovel-ready and can help stimulate significant local economic activity and jobs.

            “Our understanding of local government procedures indicates that other state highway-oriented options under consideration by council could take two to three years to progress to the point we are already at.”

            If approved, the JACE Investments proposal would see an unprecedented level of private sector investment in Omokoroa backed by a financially stable and reputable local company.

            Lemon said they believed that with further consultation, their fit-for-purpose model could meet the needs of the growing Omokoroa community over the next 30 to 40 years without the need for further public investment or an impact on ratepayers.

            “We think that many residents would favour our proposal as the preferred alternative to universally designed highway-based stopover concepts”.



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          • gnfb1234

            gnfb1234 1:14 pm on 28/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
               

              New Govt water reforms miss mark on nitrogen pollution, advocates say 


              The Government has just unveiled its long-awaited reforms aimed at cleaning up New Zealand’s rivers – and advocates are already disappointed that there aren’t any nailed-down limits for some key pollutants.

              The new reforms set higher health standards at swimming spots, require urban waterways to be cleaned up and enforceable farm environment plans, and set stricter controls on nitrogen pollution and new bottom lines on other measures of waterway health.

              They also put new controls on higher-risk farm practices such as winter grazing and feed lots.

              The rules come with strengthened bottom line for nitrogen toxicity, to provide better protection for 95 per cent of freshwater species, up from 80 per cent under the previous National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

              There will also be a cap per hectare on the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, excluding vegetable growers, set initially at 190kg per hectare per year, with a review by 2023.

              Dairy farmers will be required to report annually to councils the quantity of nitrogen applied per hectare as synthetic fertiliser.

              Fertiliser companies will have to report on sales to ensure the overall level of use is heading in the right direction.

              Primary sector groups will be helped with a $700 million fund to create jobs in riparian and wetland planting, removing sediments and other initiatives to prevent farm run-off entering waterways.

              “Our environmental reputation is the thing that underpins our biggest export earners – tourism and agriculture,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

              “Many of our rivers, lakes and wetlands are under serious threat after years of decline and political inaction.

              “If we don’t start cleaning up our water now they will get worse, become more expensive to fix and we risk serious damage to our international clean green reputation.”

              Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said work undertaken to date estimates 80 per cent of dairy farmers won’t be affected by the cap on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.

              While some tougher measures had first been proposed, the Government opted to lessen the cost and impact on the primary sector, citing the role it would play in the country’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

              In the longer-term, there would be a new national policy statement “to achieve permanent improvements”.

              Freshwater scientist Dr Mike Joy is disappointed in the reforms. Photo / Mark Mitchell
              Freshwater scientist Dr Mike Joy is disappointed in the reforms. Photo / Mark Mitchell

              Victoria University freshwater scientist Dr Mike Joy was nonetheless furious there were no bottom-line limits for two key pollution indicators – dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP).

              “There is nothing in there you can nail down – and it’s all up to the discretion of councils.”

              Joy was also underwhelmed at the 190kg limit on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.

              “That is like telling somebody who smokes three packets of cigarettes that you will have to cut down to two and a half packs of cigarettes and that will save you from lung cancer,” Joy said.

              “That’s incredibly high and it’s not going to do anything.”

              The Government has pushed back considering a DIN national bottom line for 12 months, to allow time for a thorough review of its environmental and economic implications.

              Choose Clean Water spokeswoman Marnie Prickett said unequivocal limits for nitrogen pollution was the main policy freshwater advocates had been asking for.

              “It was also recommended by the Government’s own Science and Technical Advisory Group that produced hundreds of pages of reports saying that to protect the health of rivers the bottom line should be 1mg/L for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN).

              “Likewise, submissions on the policy made by medical professionals supported 1mg/L because of the implications of nitrogen pollution for human health and the country’s drinking water.

              “But in today’s announcement, the decision on this bottom line has been put off until after the election.”

              Waikato University freshwater scientist Professor Troy Baisden also noted another key change in the reforms.

              Where fences are required they must be a minimum of three metres from a waterway – instead of the five-metre distance earlier proposed.

              Permanent fences will not need to move to comply with riparian setback requirements, although freshwater farm plans and regional rules may require more than this.

              On the lack of set bottom lines for phosphorus and nitrate pollutants, Baisden pointed out the Government had set a timeframe for continuing the consider them.

              “Nobody is off the hook here. The real issue here, is we have been through a huge process and we’ve actually got to think again and talk about it over the election.”

              Fish & Game chief executive Martin Taylor said the new rules in the reforms, if enforced, would achieve the aim of preventing further decline by establishing for the first time a cap on the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and strengthening the nitrogen toxicity attributes and bottom lines to protect 95 per cent of species.

              “However, the postponement for 12 months of a dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) bottom line is a concern considering that five out of the 18 scientists wanted it set at ecosystem health levels of 1 or lower,” Taylor said.

              “We expect that science will prevail.”

              Environmentalists weren’t the only ones unhappy with parts of the reforms.

              Dairy New Zealand chief executive Tim Mackle said the proposed 95 per cent protection standard would severely affect farmers in catchments already taking significant action towards reducing their footprint in line with new regional council policy plans.

              In Canterbury’s Selwyn and Hinds zones, farmers were already working towards a 30 per cent reduction in nitrogen, he said, but under the new regulations, these reductions may need to increase to 70 per cent to meet the standards being proposed.

              “This is a double-whammy for farmers who were already on the journey to make significant reductions to nutrient loading,” Mackle said.

              “If further plan changes are rushed, it will have significant impact on confidence, jobs and communities.”

              He said the Government’s decision to park the DIN measure and remove first-proposed measures to move back existing fences to meet new stock exclusion guidelines would “provide reassurance” to farmers.

              “Our environmental reputation is the thing that underpins our biggest export earners – tourism and agriculture,” Environment Minister David Parker says. Photo / NZME

              Federated Farmers’ Chris Allen said: “While we’re still working through the detail, the high-level policy decisions indicate the Government has heeded some of the rural sector concerns.

              “What farmer groups seek now is the opportunity for input to ensure the final regulations and National Policy Statement matches the intent of the policies.

              “And if the regulations are shown to be flawed or impractical, the Government needs to be open to changing them.”

              Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague saw the reforms as a big step forward in most areas of freshwater policy – but also felt they didn’t deliver when it came to nitrate and phosphorus pollution.

              Hague said the degradation of New Zealand waterways had reached a point where “urgent and dramatic” action was needed to turn the picture around.

              Across the board, trends showed rivers were in a worrying state, but these varied depending on what measure is looked at.

              Levels of E. coli – the notorious bacteria linked to animal or human faeces that can leave swimmers suffering vomiting, cramping, nausea and diarrhoea – aren’t going up or down at most sites.

              But, when compared with the relatively unspoiled waterways that flow through our native wilderness, levels are 22 times higher in towns and cities.

              And they’re nearly 10 times higher in the pastoral countryside that wraps around much of New Zealand’s 180,000km of total river length.

              Just as important – if not more so – are nitrogen and phosphorus, which come from livestock waste, fertiliser and eroded soil, as well as septic tanks and sewer systems.

              If too much enters waterways – whether by leaching through the soil or being washed off roads and paddocks – algae can grow in large amounts.

              This triggers a cascade of problems – notably decreased oxygen levels and reduced light – which can hurt or kill species, and fuel toxic blooms.

              One recent Government stocktake showed that between 1994 and 2013 – a period that saw an explosion in cow numbers amid dairy’s white gold rush – levels of nitrate-nitrogen in monitored rivers were getting worse (55 per cent) at more sites than were improving (28 per cent).

              On the flip side, rates of dissolved reactive phosphorus were improving (42 per cent) at more sites than worsening (25 per cent).

              When it comes to lakes, a recent five-year grading of 65 lakes using a catch-all trophic level index, showed 24 sites had good or very good scores, the same number had poor or very poor scores, and the rest were rated moderate.

              All the while, three-quarters of our monitored native fish species are now nearing extinction.



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            • gnfb1234

              gnfb1234 7:15 pm on 27/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                 

                Cows’ welfare at stake if 1000 jobs aren’t filled, warn dairy farmers 


                Farmers say they’re barrelling towards a worker shortage crisis on the verge of calving season with more than 1000 vacancies in the dairy sector.

                The Government needs to provide certainty on visa extensions and to allow key workers stuck overseas back into New Zealand, said DairyNZ.

                Chief executive Tim Mackle said if the worker shortage issue wasn’t addressed, it could put animal welfare in jeopardy.

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                DairyNZ was set to start a training programme to redeploy unemployed Kiwis to dairy farms, but that wouldn’t happen quickly enough for calving season which starts in July.

                Animal care, human welfare, environmental issues and the dairy sector’s productivity were all at stake with the worker shortage, he said.

                “We are really wanting to play our part and have more Kiwis find employment and have more Kiwis in dairy. We’d love it. But the challenge is it can’t happen with a flick of the switch.”

                Mackle estimated there were about 5000 migrants working in the dairy sector and without other workers allowed in, the Government needed to provide certainty on visa extensions.

                Amid the Covid-19 crisis, all work visas were extended until September but Mackle said that meant many would have to leave “right in the thick of it” before spring.

                There were also another 1000 roles that needed filling now, due to the absent migrant workforce and the dairy industry doubling in size in the past decade.

                A dairy farm in Northland. The dairy industry has warned there's a looming worker shortage crisis. Photo / Chris Tarpey
                A dairy farm in Northland. The dairy industry has warned there’s a looming worker shortage crisis. Photo / Chris Tarpey

                Farmer David McFarlane, who recently lost his entire herd to M bovis, recently had 550 cows delivered to his Canterbury farm.

                Because they’d come from the North Island, calving was due to start in July but McFarlane’s only full-time employee, Ryan, is stuck in the Philippines. He went to introduce his wife and newborn to family at the end of February but got caught out by the lockdown.

                Ryan has worked for McFarlane for six years and is on a skilled migrant visa.

                McFarlane was desperate to get him back before calving because there wasn’t time to train anyone new.

                McFarlane said everyone wanted to get more New Zealanders to work on farms, but it was hard to ask them to uproot their lives and move to a rural town, whereas migrant workers were more willing to do that.

                “We’re really desperate to get him back before calving. We’ve just been managing without him but need him back.”

                McFarlane is not alone in his plight to get his worker back to New Zealand.

                Dairy industry recruitment firm, The Regions, has 48 migrant workers on its books who are stuck overseas despite having lived and worked in New Zealand for many years.

                Managing director Benjamin De’Ath said they’d been lobbying the Government to get these people back to New Zealand and believed they might be close to an arrangement.

                “Dairy vacancies exist not because Kiwis do not want to farm, but because the industry doubled in size in the last 20 years and our cows are exactly where our people are not – in the rural corners of New Zealand.”

                Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the Government was “very aware” of the shortage of workers and were working with training providers on short courses to get Kiwis up to skill quickly.

                There was “still a month or so” before calving to get people trained.

                In the Budget, $19.3 million was put towards placing 10,000 people into primary sector jobs.

                A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said he was awaiting advice from officials on visa extensions and allowing workers back into the country.

                But the current priority was keeping Covid-19 out of New Zealand and while we were in a good position, the rest of the world wasn’t, they said.

                “People in the country are more likely to be able to be extended but decisions haven’t been made at yet.”



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              • gnfb1234

                gnfb1234 1:54 pm on 27/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                   

                  NZ’s largest wind farm is lying unassembled in storage in Hawke’s Bay 


                  Dozens of yet-to-be-assembled wind turbine parts lie scattered across Hawke’s Bay due to a construction delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

                  The parts have been stored at sites in Whakatu and Onekawa over the past few months, ready to be sent down State Highway 2 to create a new wind farm on the hills at Turitea in Manawatū.

                  When completed the 60 turbines will form New Zealand’s largest wind farm by output at 222MW, producing 840GWh annually (enough to power 375,000 electric vehicles).

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                  The first shipment, which is stored across the region, carried 32 tower sections, 16 nacelles (casings), 16 drivetrains and 16 hubs, plus associated accessory parts – everything you need to construct 16 wind turbines (apart from the blades and a lot of concrete).

                  It was the first of what is likely to be four shipments of similar size as a total of 60 turbines are erected at Turitea.

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                  The blades were shipped to the port in Taranaki.

                  The remaining 17 sets for the Turitea North section are nearing departure from China, also bound for Napier and are set to arrive within a month.

                  AAL Shanghai unloads wind turbine columns at Port of Napier back in February which were then sent to Onekawa. Photo / Warren Buckland
                  AAL Shanghai unloads wind turbine columns at Port of Napier back in February which were then sent to Onekawa. Photo / Warren Buckland

                  A Mercury spokesperson said the project had been delayed due to the pandemic, meaning the parts have had to be stored in Hawke’s Bay longer than expected.

                  “The wind farm construction site was shut down and locked up safely for the duration of the lockdown, with activity being carefully re-started from start of May.

                  “But with the site now fully remobilised our focus has returned to advancing construction of New Zealand’s largest wind farm safely and efficiently.”



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                • gnfb1234

                  gnfb1234 2:02 pm on 26/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                     

                    ‘A game-changer’: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine 



                    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says a Covid-19 vaccine would be a “game-changer” for the world.

                    The Government today announced a $37 million funding boost for a coronavirus vaccine.

                    Asked about a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid crisis, Ardern said it was still “early days” as the fight against Covid-19 was ongoing.

                    She will face Todd Muller for the first time as National leader in Question Time today, but Ardern brushed it off as “an hour” in the day.

                    Covid-19 free transtasman bubble

                    She said she spoke to her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison this morning.

                    They reaffirmed the commitment to working on a transtasman Covid-free bubble.

                    “We are both at a phase of opening up, or easing restrictions … in the meantime, we’re getting our borders ready.”

                    But she was cautious about putting a timeline on a transtasman bubble.

                    But it would only happen if it could be done so safely, she added.

                    Two years anniversary of M.Bovis fight

                    Over 150,000 cattle have been culled in the two-year fight against M. Bovis.

                    Ardern said the Government’s success in battling the rural disease had enhanced New Zealand’s brand overseas.

                    “The beef and dairy sectors are the backbone of the country … and just like with Covid, going hard and early to beat M. Bovis has paid dividends for us.

                    There were 17 properties with M. Bovis as of May 20, according to Biosecurity NZ. Each of them is under quarantine control.

                    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the decision to eradicate M. Bovis was something other countries had not tried.

                    “We’re looking harder and finding fewer infected animals,” O’Connor said.

                    The decision to eradicate was made jointly with the farming sector, he said, and if M. Bovis had run rampant, the exporting of dairy products throughout the Covid crisis would not have been possible.

                    “Although there is still a long way to go, our farming community should be really proud of themselves.”

                    O’Connor said M. Bovis was a “long programme” and the foot cannot be taken off the pedal, and getting rid of it was a 10-year project.

                    He said over 150,00 cattle had been culled so far.

                    He said some fines had been imposed and five warning letters sent to farmers who had not been compliant.

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                    No new cases

                    Today there were no new cases of Covid 19, the fourth day in a row of no new cases.

                    There are now only 22 active cases in New Zealand, including one person in hospital.

                    Kiwis face at least four more weeks of physical distancing obligations and limits on social gatherings at alert level 2, but from Friday midday will be able to have 100 people at weddings and funerals – as well as private parties.

                    Ardern said yesterday that the low number of new Covid-19 cases, including only three in the past fortnight, allowed the current 10-person limit on gatherings and 50-person limit on funerals and tangi to be eased.

                    But instead of increasing the limit in stages, as Australia is doing, Ardern said it could jump straight to 100 from Friday.

                    Ardern also revealed that New Zealand would remain at alert level 2 for at least four more weeks.

                    Cabinet will review the level 2 settings on June 8 – but will not consider whether the country is ready to move to level 1 until June 22.

                    If ready, New Zealanders would be given a few days’ notice before the alert level was to drop.

                    The move this Friday to lifting to 100 the mass-gathering limit is likely to be welcomed by event organisers, churches, wedding planners and funeral directors who have all been stymied by the alert level restrictions to date.

                    Ardern clarified that the three Ss – seated, single server, and separation – will still apply for bars and restaurants to reduce mixing and mingling with strangers, meaning public dance floors will still have to remain empty.

                    But private parties with dance floors have been given the green light, where physical distancing rules will be effectively reduced to guidelines rather than obligations.

                    Asked about people planning a party for Friday night, Ardern said: “Keep a list of who you’ve invited.”

                    The current settings under alert level 1 have no restrictions on social gatherings, and no obligations – only an encouragement – for physical distancing. Border restrictions will continue.



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                  • gnfb1234

                    gnfb1234 8:54 am on 25/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                       

                      Weather: Rain in Auckland not enough – ‘just soaking into the ground’ 



                      Auckland is due to see some rain this week – but not enough to help with the drought situation.

                      In fact, yesterday’s rain in the city is just “soaking into the ground” this morning.

                      A weather station in West Auckland reported just after 7am: “Through yesterday and overnight, we’ve had just under 20mm of soft rain here…all just soaking into the ground.

                      “Not even a trickle in any drains or ditches. So sorry, Auckland, won’t have helped the reservoir levels.”

                      Despite there being rain in the city from yesterday afternoon and throughout the night, very low levels had been recorded, according to MetService.

                      In the past 24 hours, 12.55mm of rain was recorded in downtown Auckland.

                      At Auckland Airport, 14.2mm of rain was seen there in that time period and just 1.5mm of rain was recorded in Whenuapai, west of the city.

                      “Definitely not enough to fill the tanks,” meteorologist Larissa Marintchenko said.

                      “There’ll be some rain again on Wednesday, but not significant rain. There’s rain again on Friday, but still not significant enough.”

                      strong>READ MORE:
                      Auckland water crisis: Drought system operating as per the standards set – Watercare boss
                      Premium – The Big Dry: 18 reasons why an Auckland drought became a water crisis
                      Auckland water crisis: Water storage continues to fall as consumption rises – and it’s only going to get worse, say forecasters
                      Auckland water use down slightly as tough rules kick in

                      Aucklanders can expect a few showers this morning before clearing up this afternoon. Some northwesterly winds are on the forecast also and it will be a warm day with a high of 20C on the cards. A low of 14C is expected overnight.

                      Marintchenko said more would be known about how much rain could be expected on the weekend when newer weather models were looked at today.

                      In other parts of the country, a heavy rain watch is in place in the ranges of eastern Bay of Plenty.

                      People in the area are being warned that rainfall amounts may approach “warning criteria”. The watch is in place until 1pm today.

                      There are also watches in the Tararua Range, Tongariro National Park and the Kaimanawa Range; as well as the ranges of Buller, north of Westport, Nelson from Motueka eastwards and the Marlborough Sounds and Richmond Range – including the Rai Valley.

                      Those watches are in place until this morning and locals are advised to keep an eye on updated weather forecasts throughout the day.

                      Heavy rain fell in the Mt Taranaki area yesterday and more was expected overnight.

                      Locals were also told the heavy rain could cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly; while motorists were encouraged to be careful on the roads as surface flooding and slips were possible as a result.

                      South of the country, some snow is said to be likely in the Southern Alps today – mainly around Canterbury, WeatherWatch says.

                      “Driest weather will be in the lower half of the South Island, but it will still be fairly cloudy,” a spokesman said.

                      “In fact, sunniest and driest weather today will be in our rain forest – Fiordland National Park!”





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