Posted on behalf of Prof Moot
Ode to 2022, a Covid year to review, our deadly virus really off the front page
No longer we fuss, no masks to discuss, gone once protesters took center stage
They erected tents, cried sinners repent, the mob gathered in Parliament’s garden
Turned on the hose, to those who opposed, the mandates from Prime Minister Ardern
Traffic lights on red, is that what she said, rules became too hard to follow
So let’s all move on, no need to prolong, lockdowns became rather hollow
Time to applaud, scientists we laud, for vaccines that protect no debating
Virus is done, time we had fun, no need to worry – except its always mutating!
When it returns, have lessons been learned, we’ll find out from a Royal Commission
What did we do wrong, as we went along, made mistakes that will require admission
Globally too, countries will review, a tiny virus upset the wealth of their nation
A lasting change, Covid did rearrange, our trade routes that feed globalisation
And as a result, central banks at fault, quantitative easing caused bubbles now popping
Inflation is rife, better tell the wife, she’s no longer allowed out for retail shopping
But is she a she, or maybe a he, or do I say they? – gender issues became so confusing
Binary is old, so I am told, gotta learn new pronouns to be properly woke – I’m refusing
If you want a real man, invasion the plan, it’s Vladimir you must turn to that’s Putin
A Russian bear, his ideas are clear, he wants Ukraine of that there’s no disputin’
Sent in tanks, but got no thanks, from the people whose country they tried to liberate
Kyiv was a flop, tanks had to stop, supply chains broken no food to fuel fascist hate
Europe aghast, war from the past, disrupted exports of iron, corn and wheat
Germany now, has lost all power, no nuclear or natural gas for homes to heat
As winter sets in, it looks pretty grim, for the troops on the ground who are freezing
Despite another shell, delivering hell, Snake Island shows Ukrainian’s aren’t leaving
How will it end, attack and defend, who gets Crimea – histories war torn Peninsula
How to debate, or negotiate, with an autocratic regime so paranoid and insular
Viewed overall, this conflict is small, but seemingly defies a political resolution
Will Russian elite, eventually defeat, their leader with a vial as their final solution
Contrast the west, elections the test, when we select a new leader with minimum fuss
Except the UK, where just a few had their say, Tory party members supported a Truss
Oh hang on, she’s now gone, crashed markets in a month an outstanding achievement
In a pub quiz, twas year of Liz – two are gone but only one caused a national bereavement
Electors went left, no-ones bereft, that Scomo and Bolsonaro have lost their appeal
Lula took down one, the other undone, by liberal candidates who dressed up in teal
Biden held on, abortion is gone, Supreme Court decision got the young to campaign
Back here in NZ, it must be said, our Government is waning as the public complain
Unpopular laws, shut immigration’s doors, and keep workers from vacant roles
Entrenchment mistake, three waters take take, co-governance not popular in polls
Young ram raiders, 501 invaders, softly softly doesn’t stop them from stealing
PR spin, starts to wear thin, centralisation and poor delivery no longer appealing
Economic reality felt, time to tighten your belt, interest rates are rapidly climbing
House price correction, can’t sell a section, restaurants closing no-ones fine dining
Petrol prices too high, the people did cry, so we cut taxes to make it all cheaper
Public transports the vote, a bus or a boat, half priced tickets may be a keeper
So subsidize EVs, a conscience to appease, middle class welfare is now high fashion
Elon must gloat, his companies kept afloat, Tesla tweeters engaging his latest passion
At the other end, Sri Lanka did spend, all its money so had none for fertilizer
Organic production, urea reduction, a food crisis should make them all wiser.
As for our climate, changed by earth’s apex primate, 8 Billion of us now to feed
Young still protest, threatened by arrest, threw soup at van Gogh their criminal deed
All caused by the cow, so say those in power, stop burping you methane machine
And the sheep must go, put more pines on show, that will surely keep the world green
What about sport, our ABs are well short, of the standards advertisers and fans expect
Led by Mr Foster, a coaching imposter, failed his job the best players he won’t select
A Razor was needed, that call unheeded, no cut through, we’ve been left with the pup
So it is clear, we know next year, without a miracle New Zealand won’t win the cup
Let’s finish on a high, you just can’t deny, Messi and co are worthy winners
Forget human rights, and playing late at night, football is for saints and sinners
Qatar as host, a terrible boast, but the final was breath-taking and clinical
Fifa will say, what a great pay day, but most of us remain a little more cynical
Interpreting the ode!
For those not in NZ, our Govt. has plummeting popularity that was started when a group of disaffected, anti vax protesters occupied the Government grounds. The public were not impressed by these people but less so by the way in which the Govt. dealt with them. This started a slide in their popularity that accelerated with unpopular policy positions around water, the role of Maori in decision making and their inability to effect meaningful change in health, education and welfare – the big budget items. We are also dealing with disengaged youth who have not returned to school after the lockdowns and are being recruited by ex Aussie criminals (501s) to commit spectacular ram raid burglaries and film them. 2023 is an election year for us – and I can’t see our current Prime Minster leading her party into that election…the rest of the ode most will be familiar with…the world is turning inwards as globalization wanes and old alliances are reforged to combat unsettling times.
This year we have a full house in the offices upstairs with the arrival of Pieter Hendriks from OZ via France and the Netherlands completing our lecturing staff. Pieter joined Mariana and I in lamenting the inability of teams wearing yellow and orange to score penalties….another four years! Over the year we saw Dave Jack retire after 40+ years of loyal service helping students and staff with their field trials. Keith Pollock also stepped down but has helped train his replacement Jason Nolan who has been with us for a couple of years now.
This year I was elected to the University council – by one vote – so have learnt how professional committee people spent their time. Most of it is mindless process that has little impact on teaching and research – and ensures I remember why I waited til now to get involved. It is interesting to work out how little council and senior management know about how the University really works. On the positives we have made some interesting decisions – to rebuild Memorial Hall being one of them – 11 years after the earthquakes it is now receiving some attention. This will hopefully see renovation complete in 2024 – but before then Burns will be down and a new Science building opened so the campus will look a little less like a bad building site.
Dr Richard Chynoweth was capped this year and along with Dr Marcus Talamini joined the list of completed students who have papers that need writing – and thus avoid me whenever possible so I can’t remind them. Fortunately some of the Masters students will show them how with Harri Wulff almost completed his Masters and Jess Ross and Charlotte Webb hoping to join him at graduation next year. Thinzar Myint and Arul Sharma are also close to done and need Dr Black to focus on their chapters over the break so they can submit in early 2023. We have recruited some new students with Breanna Taylor moving on from my TA position to work on carrot seed production, Fiona Anderson is working on N balances of white clover seed crops while Lauren Jones is the new TA working on lucerne modelling and field work. She is being helped by Dr Xiumei Yang who is now working with Drs Hamish Brown and Edmar Teixeira at Plant and Food. She was one of several students to graduate this year and for the first time one of our agricultural students (Richard) got to lead the PhD procession into the town hall. Laura Keenan is beginning to concentrate on her PhD studies but took time out to organize a fabulous Food and Fibre dinner for our undergraduate students this year. It was a celebration of success and opportunity to put our students in front of employers. As MC I was delighted with the event and Lauren now has the task to make next year’s just as successful.
A highlight for me was seeing Jian (Frank) Liu complete his Masters and then be offered a PhD position at Wageningen. We haven’t heard from him since leaving which means he is busy and that is a good thing! We are also beginning to see the return of overseas students and have two visiting Chinese scholars with us at the moment. They will be followed by several French interns over the next couple of months which will return us to a feeling of greater normality. We have missed their vitality and input to our programmes. Overseas post graduate students are only now being able to get visa to NZ so we hope to have some joining us in 2023 to take up PhD and Masters positions working on arable, pastoral and horticultural issues – which is what an applied plant science department should be doing! So long Covid….
Ex-students continue to pop up as I travel around but things have been curtailed a little this year. Saman Berenji rang me recently to report he has settled in Tauranga and is now helping Zespri as a research consultant. I was delighted to catch up with Daniel Martin-Hendry at the Australian Agronomy Conference in Toowoomba in September. This was my first overseas sojourn for several years and I traveled with a broken collar bone and two broken ribs (courtesy of a cycle fall of my own making) to collect a Fellowship from the Society. It was disappointing not to have many of my students with me – as this is a conference that we have attended for many years – next one in West Australia will see us return.
The following week I was in Napier where our Dryland Pastures Research Group was Awarded for our significant contribution from B+LNZ. This was in recognition of all the work those of you who have passed through the FRC have contributed to over the last three decades. I am immensely proud of all of the people who have contributed to our success and it was a delight to have many of them join our Xmas lunch this year. Anna updated me with the 2022 figures for our blog that showed 19400 views of about 900 hours of material viewed.
My second trip for the year was to the West Coast of the US – where I caught up with Dr Serkan Ates who is on staff at Oregon State University. I went on exchange there 38 years ago and this was my first time back – it is almost 50 years since the exchange started so I have taken on the role of trying to reinvigorate the programme for 2023 and beyond. I also visited UCD where agriculture is in decline as the US withdraws money from applied agricultural research – a common lament? My trip was to end up in San Diego where the World Alfalfa Congress was taking place – there we discussed all things lucerne but realised there is still a lot to learn and many opportunities for using the plant. Will leave all that to the next generation!
Angus has sold some real estate – but not enough to move out of home…. He is still playing football but the injury toll is mounting and he is now one of the oldies in his team but Dad still enjoys watching and no longer gives advice. It is great to still have him around because the other two have flown the coop to Wellington. William has worked as a business analyst for the last 12 months – unsure how long that will last if it doesn’t challenge him more soon. He joined a social volleyball team and dragged Thomas along for some games towards the years end and they both still swim to keep some semblance of fitness. Thomas is now analysing sources of power generation for one of the power companies after leaving the Reserve Bank in February. The public service was great as a starting position but he soon tired of the tread mill and chaos. Kirsty and I enjoyed the OZ and US trips – and she has made several trips to Blenheim to take care of her aging Mother. For all of us the biggest scare this week was our dog Storm who took ill last Monday – by Friday she had had a chunk of liver and a cancer tumour removed and she is now lying about feeling sorry for herself – we are all pretty pleased she is still around to see at least one more Christmas.
I hope all of you get time to enjoy time with family and friends, remember the people you have interacted with this year and in previous ones – and if you get the chance visit our website or drop us a line to let us know how life in your part of the world is going.
And to finish – if you are short of a present or two – these are the two most interesting books I read this year and would recommend to keep the brain cells active and challenge the prevailing narratives;
1) The great plant based con – “Why eating a plants-only diet won’t improve your health or save the planet” Jayne Buxton
2) The end of the world is just the beginning – “Mapping the collapse of globalization” Peter Zeihan.
This Robert Louis Stevenson quote seems an appropriate agricultural way to end 2022!
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you sow”
May you sow many seeds over the holiday season and reap the rewards in the coming years. Best wishes for a relaxing holiday period wherever you may be!