Barbara's Beat No. 23


It was great to attend a mostly sunny and warm 55th National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek last month.
It was also brilliant to have it back in its normal June time slot.

This year I volunteered for the brand new Sustainability Hub.

As Fieldays Society chief executive Peter Nation said: “We’ve made a strategic decision to use the scale of Fieldays to help educate both visitors and exhibitors so that future generations will benefit most from improved sustainability practices for New Zealand’s food and fibre sector.”   
This year’s theme was ‘The Time to Act is Now’ and the hub featured a range of stands, many focussing on water and water quality. I moved around some of these sites to discuss their sustainability aspects.
My overall takeaway from this year’s event was that despite the tough year many regions have experienced the mood was positive.
Most of the discussions centred around the search for creative solutions to the challenges facing our nation’s food producers.

Beyond the learning, development and spending that happens, Fieldays is also an important social event, and it was great to catch up with so many people.
At the EU stand with Italian Ambassador his Excellency Francesco Calogero discussing this 40kg wheel of cheese made in 2016.


New Zealand used to be a country where people couldn’t find the house keys when they went on holiday.
It’s a far cry from the world we live in today.
Instead we are experiencing record levels of violent crime up to 33% in five years, with little to no consequences it seems, for the culprits.
The Government’s announcement on June 1 that it had delivered its promised 1800 ‘frontline’ police after six years in power, has done nothing to alleviate the real fears many of us are experiencing in our communities.
In that same six-year period, gang numbers have increased by 66%, we are living in unprecedented wave of youth offending and ram raids are up 500% since 2018.
People are living in fear while business owners are paying the cost by either cleaning up the damages done or closing them down after repeated attacks.
This is not the New Zealand I want to be living in.
National has made law and order one of four key areas of focus of our next term in government along with the economy, health and education.
We plan to restore real consequences for those committing criminal activities.
Our policy for tackling youth offending has been out for some time now but to recap includes greater powers for police, a new young serious offender category for 10-17 year olds; military academies where they can be sent for up to a year and investing in community organisations working with young offenders and their families.
More recently we’ve put gangs on notice with a simple message — if you chose to align yourself with one and engage in criminal activities, you will face severe consequences.
They include stronger sentences for convicted criminals, limiting the ability of judges to reduce sentences, making gang membership an aggravating factor, restoring the Three Strikes law and ending taxpayer funding for cultural reports.
Funding which will go to support victims instead to give them access to services, counselling and meet costs like transport to attend court hearings.
Eligibility for offence-based rehabilitation programmes to remand prisoners currently unable to access them will also be extended.
We are making National’s position on crime clear — that it is unacceptable that whole communities must bow to whims of criminals.
Enacting it is one of our first priorities should we be successful post-October 14. 


Besides Fieldays 2023, here is a small sample of what I got up to in June.
June 13 - The West Coast turned a great day for a visit to look at the conservation work being done by the local mining industry in Westport and Reefton.
The work being done in biodiversity and pest control is amazing! Thank you Richard (left) and Alison for the tour.
June 16 - I joined attendees on a cold but beautiful morning for the opening of the new pontoon, eastern walkways, kayak ramp and balustrade at Whāingaroa Raglan Wharf.
The new improvements will help locals and visitors alike to have greater accessway to the sea.
June 20 - I joined Conservation Volunteers New Zealand with a local school group this morning weeding the dunes and collecting rubbish from the Wellington coast. Thanks everyone for an enjoyable time.

June 23 - The Hem of Remutaka project is a partnership between Conservation Volunteers NZ, Department of Conservation, Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika, and Greater Wellington Regional Council.
That morning I visited and gave a little help with planting (right).
That night I was in the electorate to celebrate with Gay Andrews and Eric Cryer who have each given 50 years of service to Mokau St John.
Stalwarts like Gay and Eric are the backbone of small communities like Mokau.
It was had a fabulous night celebrating with all the volunteers in this coastal community.