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Hawke's Bay celebrates Arbor Week 2015

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Community groups nationwide will be planting nearly 900 trees during New Zealand's first official Arbor Week which started yesterday.

The Arbor Week initiative was developed as a joint venture by Keep New Zealand Beautiful, alongside Paper4trees, and will run from from June 1st until June 7th. Coinciding with World Environment Day (on Friday June 5), this inaugural event is aimed at schools, businesses and civic organisations to set up planting events to secure a greener future for New Zealand.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful General Manager, Heather Saunderson says not only is tree planting great for the environment, but participation in Arbor Week helps community members feel good about the place they live and work. "So far nearly 900 plants have been donated by Paper4trees schools and preschools for the Arbor Week events" says Ms. Saunderson.

Paper4trees is a waste minimisation and tree planting programme free to New Zealand schools and preschools whereby they are given 45 litre classroom recycling bins. National Programme Manager, Hope Lawsen says "As an incentive to recycle all the paper and cardboard they use, we reward them with one native tree/plant for every two cubic metres of paper and cardboard they recycle or divert from landfill."

Ms Lawsen says the programme has been running since 2001 so some schools are running out of room for trees so they have asked us to donate their trees to a community project that will benefit from them. "This year, we have partnered with Keep New Zealand Beautiful to donate trees from schools around the country to the Arbor Week Initiative," says Ms Lawsen.

Key planting events include:

NORTH SHORE ROAD, HASTINGS

Sunday 7th June, 10am

To celebrate national Arbor Week, Keep Hastings Beautiful are organsing a tree planting event at Whirinaki to plant hundreds of seedlings. You can meet the team at 10am at the end of North Shore Road in Whirinaki for a briefing. They will provide gloves, but ask that you bring your own spade.

NZ First say more answers are needed over Hawke's Bay sheep shipped to Saudi Arabia.

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The Saudi Arabia sheep farm deal is a new low in New Zealand diplomacy, says New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters.

"It is a disgrace and borders on bribery," says the Member of Parliament for Northland. "New Zealand has been successfully blackmailed by two highly connected Saudi businessmen who have said ‘pay up or else your free trade deal is sunk’.

"We are paying for their business decisions. That opens up a Pandora’s Box of potential claims bearing in mind agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) now being negotiated.

"The National government’s line ought to be, we don’t give in to blackmail. But Prime Minister John Key just gave in with at least $11.5 million and counting. This is twice what Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said three weeks ago. The final price could reach $15 million and there are many serious questions that need to be asked and answered.

"Going back to before the 2008 General Election, what promises were made by senior National Party figures to George Assaf, of Awassi Ltd, and especially the Saudi Minister of Agriculture, who visited Mr Assaf’s Hawke's Bay farm on 16 July of that year?

"Why did the Agriculture Minister and now speaker, David Carter, tell 3News in 2009 that the National Party Government intended ending the moratorium on live shipments if assured the animals were properly treated, only to then do a 180-degree turnaround?

"Is the taxpayer now expected to pay what is tantamount to a bribe in order to get this government off promises. The money is coming from MFAT ‘savings’ or, should that be, redundancies and cutbacks?

"If this so-called demonstration farm is the centrepiece of New Zealand Trade Initiatives in the Middle East, why did Mr Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser not visit it when they were recently in the Middle East? Perhaps they were embarrassed.

"If this was a private company you could be facing serious jail time under the Crimes Act (Section 105C) and/or the Secret Commissions Act, but this government thinks it can get away with something that looks like bribery condoned by the highest levels.

"Other questions to pose:

"How was former National Party president Michelle Boag appointed as executive advisor to the New Zealand Middle East Business Council and what money has she earned in that role?

"Does the council receive any public funds given MFAT hosts their events?

"On 8 May Mr McCully said New Zealand spent $6 million to help establish a demonstration farm near Dammam, in eastern Saudi Arabia, saying it would be used to showcase New Zealand's agricultural technology. But why would you place that in Saudi Arabia (New Zealand’s number 15 market) as opposed to the United Arab Emirates, which not only has better links but is our number 10 market? "

Hawke's Bay farmers confront a second season of low dairy payouts

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Federated Farmers says the latest Fonterra $5.25 payout prediction for farmers for next season is a signal that the low payment this year is not a one off.

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says a more immediate impact will be felt from a further 10 cents a kilo reduction in the current season payout down to $4.40.

“This will make it really tough for farmers managing their cashflows through the low winter months with the likelihood of little or no retro payments helping to smooth out that cashflow.”

Mr Hoggard notes Fonterra’s advance rate of $3.66 isn’t scheduled to pick up to $4.17 until February 2016, for the milk produced in January.

“Again that is going to make the period through to next Autumn very difficult.”

He agrees with Fonterra that there are some signs of the overseas markets picking up. He believes Chinese buyers will be back into the market a bit more vigorously than before, as they need to restock their inventories.

“But there are few signs the Russian trade standoff with the United States and Europe over Ukraine is going to end anytime soon.”

“At some stage the Russian government will be looking at alternative dairy supplies which may not come from Europe or America because the Russians won’t put up with going without dairy products for ever.  That will help international prices for all producing countries,” Andrew Hoggard says.

“The critical long term factor in our dairy industry is that world dairy consumption is continuing to rise steadily.  That fact gets obscured by the violent fluctuations brought on by war and politics.”

He says the huge price volatility over the past two seasons makes planning and budgeting for farmers hugely difficult.

“Farmers used to be somewhat protected from the ups and downs of the marketplace when we had producer boards to smooth our farmer payments.  That’s all gone now and farmers are on their own.”

Hoggard says that means it’s vital for individual farmers to get good advice from many quarters.

“It’s not just advice on how much fertilizer to use, or whether to get in supplementary feed.  It’s also about taking care of yourself, your family and farm staff.  It’s going to be tough times ahead and people need to look after each other.”

Mr Hoggard says banks need to appreciate their interests are with a long term view of the industry.

“That price volatility is a fact of life, not an aberration. Everyone, and especially the banks, need to understand this and work with it.”

Federated Farmers Board member and supplier for Westland Milk Products Katie Milne says Westland has predicted its return slightly above Fonterra’s.

Westland has made its 2015-16 season prediction of $5.60 to $6.00 per kilio of milksolids.

Ms Milne says last year Westland pitched its advance payments quite high and then brought them down through the season.  Westland will start 2015-16 with a higher than usual advance payout of $4.40.

“That higher level helps get the farmers’ season off to a good start and helps with cash flow at a critical time for them.  Fonterra tends to do its pricing in the other direction.”

Open Country Dairy (OCD) forecast its new season milk price at $4.75- $4.95 last week.

OCD supplier and Waikato Federated Farmers President Chris Lewis says factors of global prices, relative prices between different dairy products and foreign exchange rates are more volatile than they ever have been.

“We’ve fortunate however that when that information changes OCD are the first to get out and communicate it to their suppliers. They'll update monthly or weekly if they need to,” Mr Lewis says.

“The OCD forecast is obviously where they see all of those things sitting the next 12 to 18 months based on the information at hand today.  When that information changes they're the first to get out and communicate it to their suppliers. They'll update monthly or weekly if they need to.”

Cattle couple get the heave ho from a popular Hawke's Bay reserve.

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The Department of Conservation has successfully removed stock from the Monckton Scenic Reserve after several reports of a roaming bull in the reserve.

A bull and a cow were removed late last week and returned to their owner, who was unaware they were missing. Department of Conservation staff have repaired the damage done to the track by the animals and undertaken a general tidy up. Monkton Scenic Reserve is now open to the public.

The Department’s Conservation Services Manager Dave Carlton said that the response and advice offered by neighbouring farmers had been very useful. This allowed a local farmer to remove a bull from the reserve, returning it to its owner. A DOC ranger then found a cow in the same vicinity which was also returned.

The Department was pleased to have the animals removed without having to destroy them.

Hawke's Bays Elephant Hill scoops major international wine award

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Corks are popping as Elephant Hill celebrates its 2013 Merlot Malbec winning one of the highest accolades in international wine competitions - the Trophy for Best New Zealand Red Wine at the 2015 International Wine Challenge in London.

The win is the latest in an already impressive list of accolades for the blend, including scoring 94/100 points and five stars from Bob Campbell MW, winning gold medals at the 2015 Easter Show Wine Awards and China Wine and Spirits Awards, and earning five stars from Sam Kim at Wine Orbit and 4.5 stars from Australasian wine magazine, Winestate.

To take the Best NZ Red Wine honour at the International Wine Challenge, the 2013 Merlot Malbec was pitted against more than 200 other red wines entered from New Zealand. Elephant Hill proprietor Roger Weiss is justifiably proud of the winery’s achievements.

"This is a very good win for us and we are thrilled that our wine has been awarded such a high honour by a global wine competition as prestigious as the International Wine Challenge.

"Our 2013 Syrah also won gold and trophies as Champion Wine of Show at the Spiegelau International competition and now the 2013 Merlot Malbec has won the Trophy for Best New Zealand Red Wine. It is a clear indication to me that the hard work is paying off and also very gratifying seeing as though our more premium 2013 Reserve and Icon wines are still to be released later this year," says Weiss.

Now in its thirty-second year, the International Wine Challenge (IWC) is accepted as the world's finest and most meticulously judged wine competition. The rigorous judging process involves each medal-winning wine being tasted on three separate occasions by a minimum of 10 judges.

Charles Metcalfe, co-Chairman of the IWC said: "We are delighted to see so many great wines from so many different countries. We do our best to find the top wines out of the thousands of wines that are entered. These wines are the best of the best from a more diverse range of countries than ever before."

And it’s not only Elephant Hill wines that are gaining recognition this week. The winery estate’s restaurant has just been named as "Outstanding Winery Restaurant" in the 2015 Hawke’s Bay Hospitality Awards, held last night.

Hawke's Bays Clearview wins Outstanding Winery Experience Award.

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A visit to Hawke’s Bay is not complete without time spent at one of the region’s award winning wineries, and now Clearview Estate Winery and Restaurant on the Te Awanga coast is the undisputed place to go.

For the third year in a row, the boutique winery and its rustic Red Shed Restaurant has taken out the Outstanding Winery Experience award; no mean feat when judged by the most critical of local hospitality standards, the industry itself.

Clearview received the award at the eighth Hawke’s Bay Hospitality Awards last night (Monday 25 May) at a gala celebration organised by Food Hawke’s Bay. Organisers have acknowledged that Clearview Estate is respected for being able to maintain its quality standards since pioneering food and wine in the vines in the region in 1991. It is one of only a few restaurants with such longevity inHawke’s Bay.

"What an absolute thrill to be recognised by our peers yet again alongside some very strong competition," commented Helma van den Berg, who together with Tim Turvey, founded the business 25 years ago.

"It’s a heart-warming recognition of our enduring commitment to our vision, sustained by a team who live and breathe it; they are passionate and professional at the top of their game."

The awards are voted on by industry workers, owners, chefs, waiters, bartenders, baristas, suppliers and sales reps to select the most outstanding from those nominated in 13 award categories.

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