Category Archives: Stop press

Seasons greetings

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An antipodean Christmas is different – a blend of southern summer with northern traditions, which gives it a flavour all of its own.

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I wish all readers and subscribers a merry and festive time and good gardening wishes for 2016.

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“The Holy Grail of horticulture”

Daphne Perfume Princess

Daphne Perfume Princess

As a people, we New Zealanders tend to be a little more reserved than our Australian neighbours across the Tasman. So I post this link to their prime time Channel 9 last night with a slight sense of unseemly boasting. But to have somebody of the stature of Don Burke declaring Mark’s Daphne Perfume Princess to be the Holy Grail of horticulture and the best new plant to be released in Australia in the last 50 years is high praise indeed.

This knight...

This knight…

We knew the story was going to air. We had been sent photos – Don donning a knight’s costume in a theatrical take on the search for the Holy Grail. Indeed, we had raised our eyebrows at Channel 9 wardrobe department’s selection of a knight’s costume owing to the fact that we think it was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table who were in search of the Holy Grail, not so much the Templar Knights of the Christian crusades…. But no matter, Don carried it off with panache.

Mark’s comment is that the ultimate challenge for a plant breeder is to take a really well known, common plant and to make it better. We hope he has achieved this with Daphne Perfume Princess. Others certainly think so.

 

 

Introducing (drum roll please) Daphne Perfume Princess

Mark's Daphne Perfume Princess

Mark’s Daphne Perfume Princess

By the time a new plant bred by Mark finally gets released onto the market, it has been a part of our lives for so many years that it no longer feels new or exciting to us. Mark has long since moved on to the next generation of plants. But we remain excited by this daphne, named Perfume Princess.

Perfume Princess to the left, centre is a large flowered D. odora 'Grace Stewart', right is a normal sized Daphne odora

Perfume Princess to the left, centre is a large flowered D. odora ‘Grace Stewart’, right is a normal sized Daphne odora

It is “just a daphne”, as Mark is wont to say, but what a daphne. For starters, the flower is significantly larger than comparable odora types. The flowering season is also a great deal longer. This is both the first and the last daphne to bloom each year in our garden. The plant itself is noticeably more robust than other odoras. It looks like a particularly healthy odora – and many gardeners will know that the common daphne is not remarkable for vigour, health or indeed longevity so any improvement in that area is welcome. It smells like a daphne and is that not why we grow them?

But it also has the capacity to flower down the stem when growing strongly. I describe it as the eucomis look. This characteristic adds a great deal to its flower power. So yes, even we are still excited by this new daphne.
046The eucomis look

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back around 1996, Mark was taken to meet UK breeder, Robin White. Some readers will know him for his Daphne Eternal Fragrance although back then, it was his work on the Party Dress series of double hellebores that fascinated Mark more. However, that visit inspired Mark to renew his efforts with daphnes after he had been disappointed with initial efforts. It was not to be as straightforward as other plant genera he works with. The progeny were few. Poor Perfume Princess was nearly lost before she ever got to show her strengths and that, we think, would have been pity.

Please, admire my restraint in not using a naff heading such as “Birth of a Princess”. Any coincidence with the arrival of the British royal baby was just that – coincidence.

Perfume Princess was released in New Zealand last weekend, launched in Australia at the Melbourne Flower Show and is available in UK and Europe. It has yet to be released in North America. It is managed on our behalf by Anthony Tesselaar Plants. We do not handle the production or distribution so any enquiries regarding availability need to be directed to them.

My farewell message to Waikato Times readers

No longer wanted at Waikato Times newspaper….
057 - Copy - CopyIt is time for me to bid farewell to Waikato readers. This will be my last garden page. The new-look garden page will be rolled out next Saturday but I will not be part of it. I have really enjoyed writing for this publication over the past 3 ½ years and would like to thank readers for reading it. Thank you also to those of you who have emailed and even written proper letters and cards.

I have an online presence for anyone who wishes to keep following – on Facebook under thejurygarden, on Twitter as @Tikorangi and a blog at http://www.jury.co.nz. I won’t stop writing. Eventually I may manage to compose my piece on the point where heavily ornamented gardens cross over to folk art (and, scarily, where they don’t). This will, however, will remain a mystery to readers of this page.

Thanks, goodbye and good gardening.

???????????????????????????????“I shall stop being queer,” he said, “if I go to the garden. There is Magic in there – good Magic, you know, Mary, I am sure there is.”
“So am I,” said Mary.
“Even if it isn’t real Magic,” Colin said, “we can pretend it is. Something is there – something!”
“It’s Magic,” said Mary, but not black. It’s as white as snow.”
They always called it Magic, and indeed it seemed like it in the months that followed – the wonderful months – the radiant months – the amazing ones. Oh! the things which happened in that garden! If you have never had a garden, you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden, you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all the things that came to pass there.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden (1911).

Descending into farce: Tikorangi Newsletter no.4

Tikorangi-Butter-paperTikorangi Newsletter 4, Tuesday 10 September

Plenty of road signage was in place at 10.31 on Friday 6 September when work had commenced

Plenty of road signage was in place at 10.31 on Friday 6 September when work had commenced

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“Ooh, I bet you’re wondering how I knew

About your plans t’ make Greymouth blue.

Well I heard it through the grapevine

How you remove their road signs

Oh, I heard it through the grapevine”

* Now Tikorangi residents, it is not the fault of Greymouth Petroleum or their contractor that people are “removing” the warning signs from the entry to their new Kowhai C well site. These photographs, taken after smoko on the very day they started work clearly show that there is a full complement of safety signage in place at that time. Since then, our roading man at Council has been told from a most reliable source, “on the grapevine” as he says, that safety signs are “being removed”. This is a matter of public safety and it may be that those alarmist residents who have been in contact with Council expressing concern at the safety of that entranceway have decided to make it even more dangerous by removing signs. Obviously. Seems logical to us here at NPDC. sad_smilesad_smile

Plenty of warning signage coming from the other side at 10.20am on Friday 6 Sept

Plenty of warning signage coming from the other side at 10.20am on Friday 6 Sept

* And the mayor is not pleased with some of you at Tikorangi. You may have heard him on the 10am news bulletin on National Radio today. My, but he made us proud here back in the office. You will be proud too, to hear that it is only a very few people in Tikorangi who are not thrilled with the new Kowhai C site. The vast majority are very supportive of your mayor, your council and Greymouth Petroleum. Very few indeed object and they are spoiling it for all those of you who think that site is perfectly placed. So to the 85 of you who turned up to the first meeting in the Tikorangi Hall on March 5 and bleated about your concerns, to those of you who turned up in our Council chambers to “support” your speakers on April 23 and again on June 11, to those fictional 80 people who signed the letter you gave us opposing that site (75 of you allegedly being residents or landowners around the immediate block of Kowhai C), to Otaraua Hapu and to those of you who have been hounding us with emails, phone calls and personal visits all year, we say “back off”. You are just a small minority so you don’t count. Your mayor has spoken. And by the by, he is hopping mad at the news (heard down the grapevine, too) that some of you are now referring to him as Rumpelstiltskin.sad_smilesad_smilesad_smile

* Just to clarify the situation with regard to the well site entrance: what is happening now is “construction” and is therefore NOT a controlled activity. When all this frenzy of construction activity is pretty much over in a month or six weeks, only then will the company and Council start on widening the road and making the entranceway safer. Because that is how we operate here at NPDC.

* We are not going to say nga mihi to everybody in Tikorangi. We are not best pleased with you sad_smile and we are hoping for an improvement in behaviour shortly. Under the new legislation passed by central government, we have been able to pass on certain key names to the GCSB and we expect that they will shortly be conducting raids on certain Tikorangi terrorist cells in search of Greymouth contractor’s missing road signs.

* sad_smileDon’t make us sad, Tikorangi. We want smiley faces on our next newsletter.

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13th September. My but what a difference a few days can make. Look at all the signage and road cones that have appeared. Were the “removed signs” returned?

And 3 days later: look!

And 3 days later: look!

  • Tikorangi Newsletter 3 (including my letter to NPDC).
  • Click here to read the second issue of your Tikorangi News.
  • Click here to read the first edition of your Tikorangi News.

The following letter is reproduced with the permission of the writer. Gavin Faull is managing director of Faull Farms Ltd – Trewithen Partnership with land adjacent to the Kowhai C well site. His email was sent to the mayor and councillors on Tuesday September 5.

Dear Harry,

Like (Otaraua Hapu), like my fellow Tikorangi residents, I too am shocked, disappointed, bewildered at the behaviour of council and the complete ignoring of the concerns of the Tikorangi residents.

I will not repeat all the issues that have been presented over the past months.

I am totally dismayed that

1. No consultation is required with the people of Tikorangi
2. There are no affected parties regarding Kowhai C
3. That we gamble with the future of our agricultural industry and our environment.

We have seen what happened to Fonterra’s reputation in China over a relatively minor “dirty pipe” episode

This was the third scare for Fonterra which represents 25% of the NZ economy.

The environmental risk is huge if there are not very, very strict controls in place, legislated and policed. There seems to be huge difficulty to even monitor traffic movement in Tikorangi – a relative simple process. How are we going to monitor and manage toxic waste?

You know that Fonterra is reviewing very carefully milk collection from land farms in Taranaki and has already advised that no new land farms can supply milk to Fonterra. This is clearly signalling concern by Fonterra.

What is my protection regarding possible toxic contamination with my dairy farm immediately adjacent to Kowhai C?? Am I not an affected party?? I can assure you that if this becomes an issue and Fonterra refuses my milk production then I will have a huge compensation claim from all parties – Greymouth; NPDC,TRC and all executives and members of management of all these companies and organisations who have been charged with the responsibility of professional management. The liability potential would be huge.

As you know I am all for progress. I have been involved in many business developments in Taranaki that have positively helped the economic growth of Taranaki.

I am not for stopping economic development.

I am just amazed at the total lack of management and the enforcing of responsible environmental controls.

Government is elected to represent the people and protect the people.

The concerns of the Tikorangi residents will not go away.

Regards
Gavin

Gavin M. Faull, JP
Managing Director

Tikorangi News 3: September 8, 2013

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Hi de hi, campers!

Welcome to the third edition of Tikorangi News. Matters are unfolding so rapidly in Tikorangi that we at New Plymouth District Council understand that you need to be kept well informed. At Council we understand. We are very understanding. We understand that Tikorangi residents are disappointed that the Kowhai C site is going ahead. We do. We really, really understand.
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by-school-NgatiMrd-04-09-13 3.49 pm.* Tikorangi folk will be thrilled to see that, like Arnie, Greymouth Petroleum are back! They sure are back. Be reassured that we, here at Council, understand your concerns about safety issues at the entrance to their lovely new Kowhai C site but we are right across safety issues. All of us here at Council are well briefed on their Traffic Management Plan and there is no danger at all. It is perfectly safe.regular_smile
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* It is idle speculation that a Greymouth vehicle may have been involved with this minor traffic incident on Ngatimaru Road at 3.45pm on September 4. We understand the lady in the ute who may have been rear-ended is absolutely fine although the ute may not make a full recovery.
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* Isn’t it wonderful that Greymouth have distributed their newsletter to local residents? It is so packed with handy information and updates so everyone is now really well informed as to what is happening. You will have noted their comment that “We choose sites as far away as possible from residents.” It is not Greymouth’s fault that you Tikorangi folk have your houses too close together. We have reviewed the situations of the neighbours’ houses closest to both Kowhai B and C at 350 metres or less and have concluded, in the most understanding way, that effects will be less than minor and therefore perfectly acceptable. You can trust us to protect your interests. regular_smileregular_smile

* Since learning that they were to get the consent, Greymouth Petroleum’s field staff have been busy as little beavers in the last week visiting local residents. This is called retrospective consultation with the local community. If you haven’t seen your Greymouth rep yet, give them a call. Offering them home made cake and a cuppa is a good way of showing them country hospitality.

021 - Copy* The good folk at Venture Taranaki tell us they are well down the track of preparing their report on the economic benefits to Taranaki of flaring and night lighting sites. Local residents will be well aware that these activities have the positive benefit of lowering their household power bills. There are many other benefits and Venture Taranaki expect to be able to quantify the financial and employment benefits that accrue from the companies’ generosity with flaring and night lighting. Local residents may not realise that a side benefit of flaring is, reportedly, a reduction in flying insects and as a result the risk of a malaria or Ross River virus outbreak in Tikorangi has been greatly reduced.
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* Some Tikorangi residents have called for a lowering of the speed limit through the area. We have taken this suggestion seriously and sought independent expert advice. Contrary to what local residents may think, the expert advice is very clear that we should be raising the speed limit to 120km/hr. This simple action will result in a considerable lowering of risk because the time taken for heavy vehicles carrying hazardous loads to pass your property will be greatly reduced. We will be gazetting the new speed limit shortly and new signage will be posted.

???????????????????????????????* Even we at NPDC have been astonished at just how quickly Greymouth Petroleum have been able to improve your local countryside. It took just one and a half days to change it from this boring and dull country road (shown to the left), into this lovely new scene shown below. You hardly know they are there, do you Tikorangi? This is the incredibly small environmental footprint they have.
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Todd's plantings

Todd’s plantings

Greymouth's pittos

Greymouth’s pittos

* In the spirit of friendly competition, it is clear that your two local petrochemical companies are actively working to make their sites more beautiful than their rival’s. Todd’s entranceway to their Mangahewa C site features rewarewas with herbaceous under plantings. Not to be outdone, Greymouth have spared no expense and gone for high quality pittosporums along the boundary of the Kowhai B site. That is just the ticket. The companies are going to make sure that Tikorangi is more beautiful than ever.

Mangahewa-C-quarters-march-* sad_smile We have heard a few mutterings that some residents may not be happy about the establishment of a semi-permanent single men’s camp with the access on little Stockman Road. My, oh my, what whingers some people are. Such camps are commonplace in the outbacks of Australia and Tikorangi is just as remote. There haven’t been any problems with the camp at Mangahewa C site and we see its relocation to Stockman Road could be a positive move for the community. And of course if somebody wanted to build a hotel on Stockman Road, we would approve it so a single men’s camp is not so different. What could go wrong?

* Residents closest to Mangahewa C who are sad that the last well is to be drilled shortly will be so excited to hear that Todd Energy are planning to drill another four wells there in the near future. Such good news for all. Look upon this as a potential tourist attraction. In the meantime, lucky residents along Tikorangi Road will be pleased to hear that it is highly likely that Mangahewa E will be starting soon and you will get to enjoy the brand new, state of the art drilling rig painted in special colours.regular_smile
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On that positive note, we conclude. Kia kaha Tikorangi! And if things get you down, raise a smile. At the office, we are running a sweepstake on how many more well sites can be fitted in Tikorangi. There will always be room for more.
Your very understanding team at NPDC.

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Click here to read the second issue of your Tikorangi News.
Click here to read the first edition of your Tikorangi News.

My letter to NPDC councillors, emailed on September 2. It has elicited just two replies. A courteous acknowledgement from Cr Biesek and a classic case of passive-aggressive self justification from a councillor who had best remain unnamed at this stage.

Dear Councillors,

It is difficult to convey the sense of betrayal felt at the news that your Council officers are ready to sign off the Kowhai C site. It will not be going to a hearing. I am assuming there are no affected parties under their interpretation of the RMA. There has been no community consultation.

The Tikorangi community came to you in good faith. The letter signed by 80 adults, 75 of whom live in the immediate block around the Kowhai C site, represented a rare expression of unanimity in the district in opposing that site. But you shelved that letter. Greymouth Petroleum has not even bothered to acknowledge receipt of it.

In good faith, we have spent countless hours working to find paths through the development. After all, we were only opposing one site. We could work with the other 12 well sites (now numbering 95 or so potential gas wells consented or in the process of being consented in Tikorangi with a further possible 17 that I know of – there may be more). There was always the sticking point of Kowhai C but your staff assured us it was “on hold”. Your website still shows it as “paused”.

And all the while, as we sat around the table with your staff and put in a great deal of work behind the scenes, those very same staff were working with Greymouth to repeatedly massage their application for Kowhai C to the point where it is now ready to be signed off. But they didn’t tell us that. The first we knew about it was when work started on the site last Tuesday.

Reassurances that it is for 4 wells only and for 15 years ring hollow. Now that they are in, it is easy for things to change and for later applications to vary the consent, based on existing use. There is already precedent for this at Mangahewa C. Councillors change, staff change. You have opened the door to industrial development in the one block which this community opposed.

What is more, in an historic move, Otaraua Hapu stood in solidarity beside Tikorangi residents to oppose Kowhai C site and told you that this is their territory and they had not been consulted or given their consent. Otaraua tell me that the courts have now confirmed that it is indeed their rohe although Ngati Rahiri have challenged that ruling so it is still before the courts. What is important is that Otaraua Hapu has still not been consulted and council officers have not responded to repeated messages and emails on this matter. Yet you are signing off their territory for heavy industrial development. It appears that no lessons have been learned from history.

All but one of the councillors around your table listened courteously and, I thought, gave us a fair hearing even though some of you showed definite allegiances soon after.

But you did nothing. So Kowhai C is going ahead.

Shame on Council staff. The so-called Tikorangi Protocol was based on good faith and trust. I have neither left.

Yours sincerely,
Abbie

Tikorangi Newsletter 2. August 30, 2013

Tikorangi-Butter-paperHi de hi, guys!

Welcome to our second issue of Tikorangi News. We at New Plymouth District Council take our responsibilities to keep residents informed very seriously.

???????????????????????????????• We know that Tikorangi residents were united in their opposition to the Kowhai C site but we have GOOD NEWS. We have halved the number of gas wells Greymouth Petroleum can drill on this site. They are only allowed to have four wells – to start with anyway. This is a win-win situation. They win. And in the future, if they apply for a variation to their consent, they will likely win again.

• We wish to reassure Tikorangi residents that there is NO TRUTH whatsoever in the rumour that Greymouth Petroleum plan to relocate their production station at Kowhai A to Kowhai C site. Not a skerrick of truth and Greymouth have warned their gossiping staff that loose lips sink ships.

• We at New Plymouth District Council want to tell Tikorangi residents that we are making wonderful progress on the voluntary Tikorangi Protocol. The success of this protocol can be measured by the fact that we have put a time limit on the Kowhai C site. It will be all over in 15 years. Unless subsequent council officers grant an extension of course. We can’t be blamed for what happens in the future. And if we need to progress the Protocol without residents being involved, you can rest assured that both Council staff and the companies have your best interests at heart. regular_smileregular_smile

• Finally on the new Kowhai C site, before we “move forward”, Greymouth Petroleum have assured us that they have talked to all the close neighbours to that site. That is, all the neighbours who matter. If you are a close neighbour (maybe even a very close neighbour) and the Greymouth team have not visited you then you just need to wake up and get real. You are not important. Move on. You cannot expect to stand in the way of progress. The same applies to Otaraua Hapu. If they want to be difficult and refuse to meet with the good folk at Greymouth Petroleum, that is their decision and we have no role at all to play in resolving this conflict. Ngati Rahiri’s signature is good enough for us.

IMG_0953 copy Greymouth on Road small• Greymouth Petroleum have asked us to assure residents that they have not forgotten their undertaking to NPDC councillors on June 11 that they will be setting up a blog, holding community meetings and sending out community newsletters to keep you folk informed. They have just been such busy little beavers that they haven’t had time to do it yet. However, they do want everybody to know that they are very, very sorry about the incident back on March 17 when one of their loads took out the power supply to Tikorangi. They assure us that this was a fully compliant load and they are sure that there were pilot vehicles. Somewhere. Of course we understand that little accidents can happen.

• We are a little concerned that some Tikorangi residents are afflicted by hallucinations. Greymouth Petroleum have checked all the GPS records on their vehicles and they have never, we repeat NEVER, used Tikorangi Rd between Ngatimaru and Inland North Roads as an alternative route for their Kowhai B site in 2013. The resident who reported a yellow GMP truck on that road at 2.50pm on March 21 was imagining things. Similarly, the resident who claims she was almost hit by a Greymouth heavy transport when exiting her driveway around 3.00pm on March 25 this year must have been drinking. The heavy load, accompanied by two pilot vehicles that passed along that road between 11.00 and 11.30am on June 25 had nothing whatever to do with Greymouth. Having dealt with all these false allegations, Greymouth have assured residents that they should “feel free to contact (their transport manager) at any time going forward”. We wouldn’t want to be going backward now, would we? sad_smile

• On a more cheerful note we have wonderful news of a new milestone. Little old Tikorangi is now knocking on the door of 13 well sites and when it all goes ahead, you could have the exciting prospect of maybe up to 95 individual wells in your area. Well done Tikorangi! Coming to a paddock near your cowshed soon, if you are lucky. Maybe a party will be in order when you hit the ton. Add in your pumping stations, the switching station and McKee and you have the round number of 20 different sites. This is pretty special, Tikorangi. And you hardly know they are there. Is this not a wonderful situation? At Council, we think it is. Of course, Greymouth have assured us that they are only going to drill one iddle widdle hole at each site and the surplus consented wells are only to “future proof” the company but we are pretty confident that they will drill more than that.
Trucks on raod by Tikorangi school • We have had positive reports that the large loads on your roads are a special attraction for the preschoolers in the area. And some dads, too. Isn’t it just so cute how the appeal of big rigs never fades? You can tell your littlies that there is plenty more to come so the excitement will continue.

???????????????????????????????• An innovative initiative is about to start as we want to teach Tikorangi residents that their roads are safe and that local children will be well looked after if they return to using the free school bus service. This will have the added benefit of reducing traffic on the roads if parents stop driving their children to school instead. “Keep left” will be the slogan. There is plenty of room in the drain for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Wear gumboots if it is raining. Just stay as far left as you can because some of these are very large vehicles and the bigger they are, the more important they are.
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???????????????????????????????• New Plymouth District councillors want us to tell you what a wonderful day they had on their tour visiting the companies and they thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality. They are sorry they couldn’t fit in the residents on this recent familiarisation tour, facilitated by Tikorangi’s very own elected representative, Cr Craig MacFarlane. But they were reassured by the companies that any negative impacts on residents are grossly exaggerated and claims of increasing industrialisation of your district are nothing but hyperbole. They saw this for themselves so that is good news. You will be reassured by this and no doubt you will all be voting to re-elect Cr MacFarlane in appreciation of his sterling efforts on your behalf. regular_smile

• Finally, our new complaints system at New Plymouth District Council is working really well. We have set up a new File 13 for all complaints, enquiries and calls on petrochemical matters. Don’t forget that if your complaint is regarding traffic, call the police, not us. It will save everybody time.

Kind regards from all of us at New Plymouth District Council. We are proud to be here to help you. regular_smileregular_smileregular_smile
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Click here to read the first edition of your Tikorangi News.