Our Primary Industries spokesperson, Damien O’Connor, came to visit Rangitīkei a few days ago. We had three events on the agenda: visiting the Bulls Flying Doctor Service (careful, that link opens with a video playing) where Dr Dave Baldwin gave us some time with some of his students, spending a couple of hours in the fabulous Mothered Goose cafe in Bulls, talking to reporters and to a group of rural women who came to meet us, and attending a conference at Massey University held by the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, where Damien was speaking.
It was good to get some insights from the people we spoke to. Dr Dave Baldwin at the Flying Doctor Service had some things to say about men’s health, and it’s clear that he has a great compassion for people. He spoke of a chap in his town who had committed a burglary, in rather bungling fashion. Rather than condemning the chap, Dave spoke of the tremendous pressure that men are under to be good providers, and what that pressure can drive them to do. It’s a story that is so familiar to feminists: patriarchy harms men too.
Dave’s students were an interesting bunch, from all over New Zealand, and the world. They had some of the usual concerns of students – how to fund their degrees – but more so than most, given how expensive aviation training is. Most of them are planning to head overseas to find work when they’ve finished their study.
The rural women were concerned about the viability of small rural communities, and worried about water quality. They felt that farmers were unfairly blamed for water quality issues, when towns and cities create problems too.
The science forum was excellent. MPs from four parties spoke: Damien for the Labour party, Shane Ardern for the National Party, Richard Prosser for NZFirst, and Stefan Browning for the Greens. As the local paper said, “The science community at the meeting warmly applauded Browning and O’Connor. It was less fulsome in its praise of Ardern and Prosser.”
Some of the coverage from the day: Rural women point water woes finger at townies in NZ Farmer (the farming section of the Stuff/Fairfax papers), MP – Arden (Nat) – says farming’s effect not damaging in the Manawatu Standard, Russell calls for added value in the Wanganui Chronicle, and the front page of the Rangitikei Mail.
Best personal event of the day: Damien needed to get some papers printed out, so we dropped into my home unexpectedly. I had told my girls that I wouldn’t be home until quite a bit later. So when we walked in around mid-afternoon, two of them were still in pyjamas, they were all watching TV, and there was a significant amount of disarray. The looks of their faces said it all… oh %$^!
Sprung! A priceless parenting moment.