MP for Taranaki-King Country — National Spokesperson for Agriculture, Biosecurity & Food Safety
THE COST OF FREEDOM
Like many New Zealanders, I attended a commemoration service on Monday.
Louis and I, along with Taranaki-King Country Youth MP for 2022 Brylee Gibbes, were among the thousands at Te Awamutu’s civic service. It was a very moving service, and it was wonderful to see everyone together like this again, after a two-year gap.
The theme of my speech was ‘freedom’. I said:
“For many of our soldiers, freedom came at an absolute cost – the cost of their lives. For those who came home, the cost was a lifetime of memories which many never shared with their families because it was too painful. We are thankful for all our service men and women who have served on behalf of us all. We owe them not only a debt of gratitude but a responsibility to ensure their legacy endures.”
‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.’
Taranaki-King Country Youth MP Brylee Gibbes and I lay a wreath at Monday’s ANZAC civic service in Te Awamutu. Thousands attended the town’s commemorations.
Don’t miss the important numbers. It is vital to be taking note. The rise in the Consumer Price Index, from 5.9% to 6.9% last week, a case in point.
NUMB TO THE NUMBERS
Every day, for the past two years, our daily lives have been driven by numbers.
We’re at the point where we are numb to them. And that’s an extremely dangerous place to be. Because we’re missing the important ones.
We are governed by a party with complete rule and its members not answerable to anyone but their leaders.
That indifference to the people they represent is showing … in the numbers. So it’s vital to be taking note.
The OCR (Official Cash Rate) moved from 1% to 1.5% — up 50 basis points (bps) — on April 13. It was the first double bps move in almost 22 years!
Major banks lifted their mortgage rates the following day. To read more, go here — barbarakuriger.national.org.nz/numb_to_the_numbers
I was thrilled to be chosen as one of two National MPs who will be part of a Speaker’s trip to Europe from May 19-June 2.
The trip will take in Crete, Athens, Brussels, Poland Italy and Ireland and a significant part of it will focus on trade.
As Agriculture Spokesperson there are several areas I want to look into — building our European connections; how European farmers do such a great job at sharing their success stories (something we have not been good at domestically); while Italy has been a master at sharing the provenance related to its world-class meats and cheeses.
Geographical indicators, that is where certain foods are sourced from, are becoming more prominent around product names and Italy has many of them e.g. Parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano, various olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Finally, Ireland’s ruminant methane emissions are 32% of the country’s emissions. It is the second most affected country in the world in reduction expectations. I’m keen to look at their mitigation tools and whether they would be useful here at home.
My National colleague Judith Collins will be joining me.
HORTICULTURE & AGRICULTURE
While our Horticulture Spokesperson Tim van de Molen has been recovering from his injuries, I’ve been taking the active out and about role in the portfolio.
I’ve spent time talking to growers about labour shortages, fuel prices and the enviromental limits affecting the cost of fruit and vegetables.
As you’ll see via news reports, or just by doing the weekly shopping, spiralling costs on our producers are pushing the price of fruit and vegetables up.
And that’s without the retailer margins placed on them once they leave the gate.
In early April I visited Southland and with my fellow Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds we visited BioActive Soils — a solid fish fertiliser plant — established 10 years ago.
We are now seeing some work going into soil carbon sequestration and how life within the soil helps that process.
Steve (left) and Leigh with Penny and I, at BioActive Soils in Invercargill. The company’s products are sourced from open ocean fish and seaweed. After soil testing, staff work with farmers to create specific fertilisation programmes.
While in Southland, I also attended two drought shouts in Riverton and Edendale.
In a region not used to severe dry weather, it was good to see the Rural Support Trust, banks, dairy and meat companies providing assistance to local farmers.
However, the Government has not, offering a paltry $100,000 which didn’t go far and was largely for advice.
Advice, which came too late as they’d already worked out what to do — like farmers always do.
It’s lovely to see that nothing is wasted at Toko School. Everything grown is put to good use.
FUTURE FOOD PRODUCERS
On April 8 I visited Toko School in Stratford. It was a wonderful to see its enviro school journey and the great things growing there.
What I find really special about Toko is that what they grow, must be eaten, dried, preserved, distilled or put into baking. Nothing is wasted and the produce stall at the school gate is a real community asset.
ROOMS TO GROW
It was lovely to receive an invitation to the blessing of two new classrooms for Inglewood High School.
The new facilities will help with its expanding roll. No doubt they will provide the perfect spaces for growing young minds!
Now that COVID restrictions are lifting, I’m looking forward to visiting more of the schools with my electorate. If you’d like me to come see you, send me an invitation — [email protected]
OUR NATION’S BUILDERS
I’m always thrilled to be a part of celebrations whick acknowledge success.
None more so than the Certified Builders Apprenticeship Challenge at WITT on April 9. Apprenticeships are needed in every trade around the country — carpentry/building is just one.
I have to say the precision displayed in the work and the pride in the finished products was great to see. Their employers were very supportive of these up and coming builders which was also lovely to see.
I was thrilled to be a part of the Certified Builders Apprenticeship Challenge at WITT on April 9.
My Hamilton Zoo guide was Baird Fleming and it was delightful to see some of its inhabitants like this wee meerkat below. It’s an amazing place to visit.
PLENTY TO SEE & DO
The Taranaki-King Country electorate certainly offers a great variety of places for families to spend time together.
On a recent visit to Hamilton Zoo to speak with staff about the challenges they have faced throughout two years of COVID, I was delighted to see its animal inhabitants.
If you have never been or taken your family there … go! It’s an amazing place to visit.
If you’re looking for a great places to stop and enjoy fabulous food and coffee then try the Whatawhata Village Café.
It also has plenty to keep the little ones occupied while you enjoy what’s on offer.
Raglan Food Company founders Seb Walter and Tesh Randall are a real foodie success story, borne out of Seb’s desire to go dairy-free due allergies.
Walk into the chiller section of any supermarket and you’ll see the success story the Raglan Food Company is. I visited the company in late March and met with general manager Lauren Wells.
The business was founded by Seb Walter and Tesh Randall in 2014 — a couple who love surfing, nature, good food and coconuts!
RFC was born out of Seb’s decision to go dairy-free due to allergies so Tesh started experimenting in her kitchen making coconut yoghurt.
It took a little time and taste-testing before breakfast became their favourite meal of the day. Then Raglan locals wanted some too!
Now with a purpose-built facility opened in 2020, Seb and Tesh have expanded the range to include energy drinks, aioli and mayo products.
They are now NZ’s largest plant-based yoghurt business and export to anumber of countries including Singapore, China and Hong Kong. For more information, visit — www.raglanfoodco.com
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Thank you for keeping in touch with me, it’s very much appreciated. I regard it a privilege to serve you as an MP.
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