'Thank you to the farmers who do a bloody hard job' - 'Latte-sipping' Aucklander pens letter in support of farmers

An open letter written by a "latte-sipping" Aucklander has struck a chord with farmers. 

Matt Shirtcliffe was compelled to show his support for the farming community after hearing the news six young farmers had lost their lives recently.

"Dear Farmers," he wrote on Facebook. "I'm sitting here in my city office sipping my first of several lattes, and thinking of you.

"This should be a time of peace and joy throughout the land. But for many on the land right now, this is a time of deep pain and sorrow. Six of your own have died... over the last month alone. And they were all young, with a life full of promise.

"Although I'm just another latte-sipping Aucklander, actually I give a damn. One life lost, is one too many. Six is an epidemic that's hard to comprehend. It's not just those precious lives that have ended. It's the impact on the families, farm workers, and rural communities left behind to try and deal with what's happened and pick up the pieces as best they can."

Mr Shirtcliffe told 1 NEWS many farmers worked incredibly hard, but felt a lack of gratitude and bore the brunt of blame for issues such as water use and emissions.

"All they read and hear is the down side of farming. It's a really, really demanding job. The vast majority of all farmers are responsible and try to do the right thing."

The letter continued: "Of course, we never stop and thank you for the milk for our lattes, the cream for our strawberries, the steak for our summer barbecues. We never choose to see or believe the care you have for your land, or the work that goes into providing exactly what we need.

"So I want to say thank you to the farmers like you who do a bloody hard job, bloody well. No matter how tough it gets out there, please remember that even if you start to feel worthless, your life is a very precious thing. It's worth a s**t-tonne more than your farm will ever be."

He said part of the inspiration for the letter was his late-wife.

"I lost of my wife to suicide in 2015," he said. "We live in the city but she had been a farmer. I guess it has given me empathy for farmers and empathy for anyone struggling like she struggled with depression."

Mr Shirtcliffe said the feedback from the letter had been very humbling, with thousands responses from farmers as far away as the United States. 

Helen Adcock commented on the post: "Thank you for recognising the hard work, sweat, tears (sometimes) and sleep-deprivation of us hard working farmers. Most of us do it because we care about our land and love our animals"

He said a societal disconnect between city and country could be impacting many New Zealanders' knowledge of what it takes to produce the food on the table. 

"As far as city people go, I probably know a lot more about farming… but still the point remains I'm a city guy with a city job and it just struck me, I was just there sipping a latte," he said.  

"It's just important to stay connected to where your food comes from," Mr Shirtcliffe said. "If we can make and effort to bridge that gap then we'll start to understand farmers more, and that can only be a good thing."

Mr Shirtcliffe has previously spoken publicly about mental health


Where can I get support and help?


Need to talk? 1737 – Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Healthline – 0800 611 116
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 or www.depression.org.nz
The Lowdown: A website to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety. www.thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626
SPARX.org.nz – Online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed
OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463 for support related to sexual orientation or gender identity
 

Source: 1 NEWS



Netsafe won't pursue Sir Ray Avery's complaint over media website

Scientist and entrepreneur Sir Ray Avery will have to go to the district court if he wants to pursue his complaint about media website Newsroom any further.

Sir Ray complained to Netsafe under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, regarding five articles Newsroom had published about fundraising he was doing for his LifePod inventions, and about his other past products.

He said the articles caused him severe emotional distress and amounted to harassment and digital harm under the Act.

Newsroom has refused to take the articles down.

Netsafe Director Martin Cocker said there isn't anything more Netsafe can do through mediation.

"As soon as one party says, you know they're not prepared to engage in the process, then that's a pretty strong sign that it's time for Netsafe to conclude its process."

That mediation process is a mandatory first step under the Act, and most Harmful Digital Communications Act complaints are sorted at this point.

However Mr Cocker said the main thing they do to get resolution, is to advise parties on what the likely legal ramifications are of different actions that they might take.

In this case, Mr Cocker said, there is not clarity in the Act about how these particular cases should be handled.

"It is for the court to set that precedent, so our recommendation is that has to happen," he said.

Mr Cocker said if they did not feel they could progress the case, their advice was to consider taking it to the district court. But he said that was "entirely optional" for the complainant.

By Gia Garrick

rnz.co.nz

Newsroom is standing by its reporting on the former New Zealander of the Year, and questioning the method of the complaint.
Sir Ray Avery. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

What to do and what not to do if you come across a kiwi in the wild

A rare daytime encounter with a kiwi on the Heaphy Track got TVNZ1's Seven Sharp thinking - what to do and what not to do when you come across the native bird in the wild.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it's pretty unusual for these nocturnal birds to be out during sunshine hours.

As we all know kiwi don't fly so escaping predators can be pretty tricky. An average of 27 are killed every week, so we've got to be pretty careful around them.

DOC gave Seven Sharp some important tips to remember if you encounter one of these unique birds.

Firstly stay still and just enjoy the rare experience. Stay a few metres away and don't worry if they approach you, just keep still.

Second, don't move towards the bird or try to pick it up - it's an offence to hold kiwi without permission from DOC.

Also, be weary of their sharp claws - they're wild animals and can get stroppy.

Lastly, feel free to take photos or video, but only in low light conditions and don't use a flash as it can stun the birds.
 


An encounter with one of the birds on the Heaphy Track got us thinking. Source: Seven Sharp

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Farmers fear summer El Nino drought as Spring rains wipe out lamb stocks

Farmers across the North Island counting the cost of a wild start to spring, with thousands of lambs lost due to heavy rain, may soon have another problem to contend with.

Their attention has turned to the coming summer, with those on the East Coast concerned a predicted El Nino weather pattern could bring drought, turning the green hills bone dry.

"It's a matter of making decisions early and keeping an eye on it, a drought normally happens slowly, and you've got some time to get used adapt to it," Federated Farmers Jim Galloway says.

The warning comes as some Hawke's Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flocks due to recent heavy unseasonal rain.

Farmer Ben Crosse told 1 NEWS that he lost around 750 of his new-borns.

"New-born lambs are very vulnerable, particularly in the young ewes who are having their first lamb and are a bit more hesitant.

"The lamb birth weight's lighter, so it takes the first-born lamb a wee while to get a drink, and they sometimes can't get going in the rain," Mr Crosse said.

After a wet start, it could be a long hot summer ahead for many New Zealand lambs.

Some Hawke’s Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flock. Source: 1 NEWS


Clever kea using tools to raid traps

A native bird famous for its mischievious behaviour has now figured out how to use tools, researchers have found.

Researchers have found that world's only alpine parrot - the kea - in the South Island's Murchison Mountains is using sticks to get food out of stoat trap boxes.

The findings by Gavin Hunt and Mat Goodman have been printed in the Scientific Reports Journal.

The pair found that over a 30-month period, 227 different traps had been raided using sticks across the ranges, which indicated many kea were responsible.

The trapping is part of a Department of Conservation operation to protect Takahe.

From 2002 to 2009 the traps were untouched, but then trappers began to notice the boxes tipped upside down. Some had stones in them and a growing number had sticks in them.

"It's an incredible amount of tool-using," Mr Hunt, an ecologist, said.

Trail cameras were set up and filmed a kea probing a trap-box with sticks.

It is the first evidence of non-humans using a tool in the country.

Mr Hunt said it would have taken many years for kea to develop the technique.

"It seems to be unique... a non-tool using bird having such extensive tool using behaviour and repeatedly using tools over many years."

"It shows the kea has high general intelligence to invent the tool use and keep using the tools to get the eggs out of the trap-boxes."

This suggests how cognitively demanding its been for the birds to figure out the technique, which shows its intelligence, he said.

It may be more difficult to invent tool use in the wild because the natural food is better hidden and more demanding to find, he said.

Having a situation where the food is sitting in a box and easier to see and reach could have encouraged the birds to invent the tool, the research suggests.

Kea are known to have used tools while in captivity but not in the wild, Mr Hunt said.

He said this makes kea one of the better candidates for New Zealand's "smartest bird".

Further research is now needed to discover if kea can use the tool to hunt for legitimate sources of food in its natural environment, he said.

rnz.co.nz

Forest and Bird estimate less than 7000 kea remain.
Source: 1 NEWS