Friday Offcuts 10 February 2017
We also cover this week a story on a new partnership set up between Toyota, Scania and the Ministry of Transport in Singapore where they're planning on rolling out autonomous truck platooning following a three-year trial. The idea is that the port in future will be able to use a convoy of autonomous trucks to transport containers from one port terminal to another, with just the one human-driven truck leading the pack. As well as improving port efficiencies, the technology will enable the port company to address labour shortages in the trucking industry.
From Australia, there's been plenty of good news over the week. For a country desperately looking to get more trees into the ground, Forestry Corporation of NSW has made a welcome announcement of its largest land acquisition since the 1980s. Some 7,000 hectares of forestry land has been bought near the timber towns of Oberon, Tumut and Tumbarumba. In the engineered timber space, Australian produced CLT from XLam’s new factory in northern Victoria has been lined up for a 10 storey extension to a building in Melbourne and in Brisbane, the development of the country’s largest timber building (over 50 metres tall) has also just been announced. When built, the new nine storey engineered timber building will eclipse Melbourne's Forte timber apartment building at 32.17 metres tall.
Following on from what is going to be one of the most popular events this year for the Australasian forestry industry, the Forest Industry Safety Summit ( www.forestsafety.events ) which runs in early March, we've included this week the first major announcement on the eagerly awaited two-yearly New Zealand logging event, HarvestTECH 2017.
Two years ago, the event sold out. Around 450 logging contractors, forest and harvesting planners and each of the major equipment suppliers involved in the industry attended. It was the largest gathering of its type yet seen in the country. This year, two one-day field tours to showcase innovations around logging have also been set up, before and after the two-day conference. Further information will follow. Early details on the June programme can be found on the event website.
Finally, we covered a story in last week’s issue of an advert that a US lumber company made to run during last weekend’s Super Bowl. It was deemed too controversial by Fox. It was modified and was shown at the game. The result was something the lumber company would never had envisaged. Their website received 300,000 hits within a minute of the TV spot’s airing, crashing the site for about 10 minutes. The website received more than 6 million requests in the first hour after the spot aired just before halftime of the Super Bowl. The full ad has had more than 10 million hits on YouTube as of this morning. The objective of generating awareness you'd say has well and truly been met. To check out just why the ad has generated such a storm, check out the story and video below. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Australian CLT for Melbourne hotel developmentA multi-million dollar Melbourne building extension will be one of the first projects to use Australian produced CLT from the XLam factory at the Logic industrial hub at North Barnawartha, northern Victoria.
XLam is nearing completion of its AU$25 million cross-laminated timber factory at Logic with the Victorian government approving the 10-storey extension of the Southbank Boulevard which will become a hotel. Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved the application with the Andrews Labor Government also confirming it provided financial assistance in establishing the XLam factory at Logic.
Last year, XLam announced it would build its Australian headquarters in Albury or Wodonga and settled on Logic. A government spokesman would not divulge the size of the regional jobs fund-investment attraction grant provided to XLam. The federal government provided AU$2.5 million to XLam last year.
CLT will also be used in Australia’s tallest engineered timber building (45 metres) to be built in Brisbane (see story in this week’s issue) and has already been used in the construction of a 10-storey Docklands apartment tower. Once operational, the XLam factory will produce 60,000 cubic metres of cross-laminated timber annually.
NSW Government makes large forestry land purchaseThe New South Wales Government is not ruling out further expansion of its forestry business after making its biggest acquisition since the 1980s. The Forestry Corporation has bought 7,000 hectares of pine plantation and plantable land near the timber towns of Oberon, Tumut and Tumbarumba.
The state-owned corporation already manages about 220,000 hectares of softwood plantations as part of the AU$1.92 million industry. New Lands and Forestry Minister Paul Toole made the announcement on Wednesday near Oberon, which falls within his local electorate of Bathurst and has the second-highest number of workers in the NSW forestry industry. Locally in Oberon, the timber industry makes up about 20 per cent of the region's workforce, employing about 500 people. Mr Toole said the acquisition would help secure the industry.
Forestry Corporation regional manager Jason Molkentin said improvements in profitability and a reduction in debt had made the purchase possible. "We have a significant plantation estate in New South Wales, but this is a significant supplementation of that resource," Mr Molkentin said. "Our improved financial position over the last five years has certainly allowed us to be in a position to purchase acquisitions when they're available."
Logging industry descending on Rotorua in JuneMark the middle of June into your diaries. HarvestTECH 2017 is running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 20-21 June 2017 and will follow the very successful Safety Summit series which is running in early March. The first inaugural harvesting event ran two years ago, with close to 450 meeting in Rotorua. The event SOLD OUT! It was the largest gathering of logging contractors, forestry managers, forest owners, harvest planners and equipment suppliers seen in New Zealand. Equipment suppliers, researchers, forestry companies and international contractors from Australia, Canada, the US, Finland, Austria, Germany, Indonesia, and South Africa also flew into Rotorua to attend the event.
The focus was on steep slope logging. The number of harvesting crews working on steeper terrain had seen exponential growth. Of course, with this growth came innovation. The move by forest owners and contractors to increase mechanization, the desire to increase productivity and the requirement to improve safety had led to significant advances in harvesting practices and the equipment that was been used on this steeper country.
New gear to work on these steeper slopes had been developed by some of the larger equipment suppliers. Much of the innovation though was coming from contractors working together with local engineering companies. The 2015 event run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) was able to showcase to the rest of the world, some of this new kiwi logging ingenuity in practice. Since then, steep slope logging innovations have been profiled in Canada in 2016 with another steep slope event being held in Kelso, WA, USA on 20-21 April.
Two years on, logging steeper terrain will again be covered in Rotorua this year. Developments by local engineers, manufacturers and contractors over the last couple of years have been significant. “The 2017 programme though is being expanded from just steep slope logging this year” says FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp. “Included this year will be new technologies and operating practices in small wood lot harvesting (particularly around some of the unique challenges being faced harvesting the increasing number of woodlots on steep and more remote sites), harvest planning, advances in the mechanisation and automation of harvesting operations and issues around attracting people and new skills into the industry”.
Those attending this year will also get an insight into some truly innovative harvesting operations. From Tasmania, delegates will hear about an Australian company that’s strapped a harvesting head onto an excavator and is working from a moored barge. They’re currently harvesting up to 26 metres under water extracting high value specialty hardwood timbers from Tasmanian waterways. From New Zealand’s West Coast, a company involved in large scale helicopter extraction of storm damaged timber since April 2014 will be outlining some of the unique issues around felling, extraction, logistics and safety with heli-lifting operations.
“The practical use of data collected from harvesting operations, improving data exchange and communications in more remote locations, eliminating log sorts and landing sizes and international developments in new harvesting equipment have also being built into HarvestTECH 2017”, says Brent Apthorp.
“Feedback from the 2015 event told us that rather than contractors setting up their own site visits around the conference, field tours to local logging operations should be set up to capitalise on delegates travelling into Rotorua. At this stage, two one-day field tours (one the day before and one the day after the two-day conference) have already been planned for HarvestTECH 2017 delegates. Full details on both harvesting field tours can be found on the event website. This is the largest tech update for wood harvesting operations in New Zealand since 2015. Plan to be in Rotorua, New Zealand with your team in mid-June, 2017.
Full details on HarvestTECH 2017 can be found on the event website, www.harvesttech.events.
Autonomous vehicles expertise added to MobileTECH 2017MobileTECH 2017 runs in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 March. MobileTECH is the only event of its type in this region that brings together leading technology developers, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators from across the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors under one roof.
Now in its 5th year, MobileTECH has firmly established itself as the major cross-sector technology event focusing on agriculture, horticulture and forestry industries. Already over 200 have signed up to the March event.
The organisers, Connex: Event Innovators are delighted to announce this week the after-dinner presentation for the conference. The focus is autonomous or driverless vehicles and the likely impact that this new and emerging technology is going to have on the primary sector – and society. In last week’s issue of Friday Offcuts, we covered the announcement of the first trial of an autonomous electric shuttle at Christchurch International Airport. The lead technology company involved in this NZ trial is HMI Technologies.
Dave Verma, Director of Australasian Driverless Vehicle Initiatives, HMI Technologies Ltd will be presenting. Dave was appointed to the position just last month. He is an internationally acknowledged technical expert on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) systems and has had considerable experience in general management and direction for transport projects involving complex, high value, state level ITS, security and enforcement systems in Malaysia and the Middle East.
Dave has both hard technical and strong relationship management acumen arising from a background in deployment of disruptive transportation technology, systems design, procurement, and delivery combined with high level stakeholder management skills. He also holds an Executive MBA from Hult International Business School.
Registrations to the tech event, MobileTECH 2017, can still be made on the event website, www.mobiletech.events
East Gippsland Regional Forest Agreement extendedThe first of the controversial Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) to expire has been extended for 12 months reports the ABC. The agreements were signed by state and federal governments between 1997 and 2001. A 20-year old East Gippsland Regional Forest Agreement was set to expire on Friday, but will now continue for one year to allow for further review.
RFAs were created to manage the use of native forests on public land by balancing the need for timber supply, conservation and regeneration. But they have drawn criticism from green groups because they include exemptions from Commonwealth environment laws. There are five RFAs in Victoria, three in New South Wales and one in both Tasmania and Western Australia.
Assistant federal Agriculture Minister Anne Ruston said the East Gippsland RFA had been extended while the Victorian Government completed a review process. "We're very keen to make sure that we get these RFAs rolled over because we understand how important it is for the security of your forestry industry," Ms Ruston said. "The East Gippsland RFA is the first to require renewal so it's a bit of a poster child to see how well we can roll them over."
Ms Ruston rejected claims by environmental groups the RFAs were a failure. "The original forestry agreements have put a great amount of certainty and surety into the industry," she said. "They have also enabled a level of ongoing environmental protection to enable the forest industry to operate in a sustainable way. The RFAs were put in place in the first instance to be able to give security of supply of native timber to the forestry sector, so it's extremely important. As we roll over into the next 20 years we'll probably put some quite different conditions in those agreements, but to say that they haven't worked is a very blanket statement." More >>.
Source: ABC News
Brisbane home of Australia's largest timber buildingAustralia's largest timber building will call Brisbane home in a deal worth AU$140 million between developer Lendlease and the Liberman family-backed Impact Investment Group reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Known as 5 King, the property will be one the final projects to be delivered in the AU$2.9 billion renewal of the Brisbane Showgrounds precinct in Fortitude Valley.
Standing at more than 52 metres, the 14,000 square metres of nine storeys of engineered timber on the A-grade site, with retail space at ground level, is targeting a 6 Green Star Design & As Built rating.
It will eclipse the Forte timber apartment building in Melbourne's Docklands by four storeys and well overshadow the six-storey International House Sydney at Barangaroo, all of which were developed by Lendlease.
It was designed by Bates Smart, whose director, Philip Vivian, said timber buildings are seen as the next generation of workplace "for a creative class looking for rich environments that enhance wellbeing and productivity". Lendlease chief executive property Australia, Kylie Rampa, said 5 King is the latest example of high-performance workplaces "setting new benchmarks in environmentally sustainable building practices".
According to Neil Barr, Aurecon's Queensland regional director, the use of timber to lower the carbon footprint is a medium that Aurecon has used "to good effect". "Aurecon has been closely involved in providing structural and building services engineering design for 5 King, and has taken an active role in reducing building costs through digital design and modularisation," Mr Barr said.
Expressions of interest – WoodTECH 2017 seriesThe WoodTECH technology series has provided a unique independent platform for Australasian companies to evaluate the very latest wood scanning, sawmilling equipment and mill maintenance tools from around the globe.
What’s being planned for September 2017?
WoodTECH 2017 ( www.woodtech.events) is planned for 20-21 September in Melbourne, Australia and then again, on 26-27 September in Rotorua, New Zealand. Over two weeks in mid-September 2015, FIEA’s WoodTECH conference series and exhibitions achieved a record turnout of sawmillers from throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Over 350 delegates from all major sawmilling companies in the region in addition to leading technology providers from throughout Australasia, North America and Europe converged on Melbourne, Australia and Rotorua, New Zealand.
Two years later, the WoodTECH 2017 series again will be attracting scanning and sawing technology leaders, innovators and practitioners from around the world. The objective is to showcase the very latest in wood scanning, sawmilling, and mill optimisation technologies best suited to local sawmilling companies. Already, interest from international companies in this 2017 sawing series is strong. Numerous companies have already approached FIEA to be involved in this year’s series.
Interested in presenting this year?
At this early stage, if interested in presenting (local sawmilling companies, tech or service providers to the sawmilling industry, researchers or distributors representing overseas suppliers), please make contact with email@example.com BEFORE Friday 17 February.
Lumber website swamped after poignant Super Bowl adIt appears the first national Super Bowl ad for 84 Lumber is a success, though not as its creators originally intended, CBS Pittsburgh reports. First, Brunnerworks, the Pittsburgh advertising company that created the spot, was forced to make a change.
The original ad featured a wall blocking people looking for work in the United States, and immigrants unable to cross the border due to the wall. That apparently made FOX uncomfortable.
“Simply put, that was a spot that they didn’t think they would be willing to run during the Super Bowl,” said Michael Brunner, the chairman and CEO of Brunnerworks. So, the ad agency did some re-noodling. “We changed the spot and that’s what we’ll be running on Sunday,” Brunner said. The resulting 90-second spot directed viewers online for the conclusion.
Brunner tells the “KDKA Morning News” the ad was viewed over 4 million times on YouTube in the first 12 hours. Brunner adds while they had to change the ad, it worked out for the best. “It was planned to be a 90-second spot all along, clearly we had to make some changes, and the end result; we were very pleased,” says Brunner.
The 84 Lumber ad had three goals according to Brunner. “One was to generate awareness, two was to position 84 Lumber as an employer of choice, and then most importantly is to get the recruits, to fill the number of positions [84 Lumber] has open over the course of the year,” he said. More >>.
Source: CBS News
Photographing one of the world's tallest treesIt took 67 days, 12,000 images and a climb to stomach-churning heights, but photographer Steven Pearce finally got the image he was after of the world's tallest flowering plant, Tasmania's eucalyptus regnans. The Styx Valley, past the township of Maydena, about 100 kilometres north-west from Hobart, is often damp, cold and foggy.
It is also home to the world's tallest flowering plant and one of the world's tallest trees — the eucalyptus regnans, often called mountain ash or swamp gum. These towering gums are thought to grow to 100 metres or more, with the tallest living tree on record being Centurion in Tasmania at a confirmed 99.6 metres.
Photographing these trees to show their entire length is extremely difficult, but this was what Pearce was determined to do. "It's a very arduous process involving a lot of tree climbing, getting right up to the crown of these trees," he told Louise Saunders on ABC Radio Hobart.
Pearce and a team were hired by Australian Geographic to get a full-length shot of one of these giants as part of The Tree Projects, which aims to showcase some of the world's biggest, tallest and unusual trees. Pearce said he saw taking part in the project as a way to refocus the conversation around the trees in the Styx Valley. "The other tallest tree in the world, the California redwood, takes thousands of years to grow this high whereas our eucalypts can grow that high in 300."
To get the full-length photo, Pearce and the team suspended between two trees a camera rig which could travel up and down to photograph the entire tree. It took a lot of patience to get the photos needed and the team spent 67 days in the valley. The final photograph is a composite of 87 images and is on display at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery until March 19.
Source: abc.net.au. Photo: Steven Pearce, The Tree Projects
Autonomous truck platoons for Singapore portsSingapore seems to be embracing autonomous driving technologies as well as anyone, conducting the world's first public trials of self-driving taxis in August and testing the software on closed circuits well before that. Now it is looking to bring the benefits of autonomy to its busy shipping ports, with the Ministry of Transport announcing a partnership with Toyota and Scania to develop and test a truck platooning system that hauls loads from one terminal to another.
Back in August 2014, the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport in Singapore was formed for the purposes of fast-tracking self-driving technologies in four areas in particular. These included fixed services like bus routes, on-demand and shared services for last-mile travel, utility operations and freight.
With trials testing startup nuTonomy's specially-fitted vehicles now underway, Singapore is aiming to roll out a full-fledged autonomous taxi service in 2018. And now it is looking to address what it sees as a labour shortage in the trucking industry through the use of so-called autonomous truck platooning technology.
This kind of system would involve a convoy of autonomous trucks that transport containers from one port terminal to another, with one human-driven truck leading the pack. So in that way it will be a little different to some of the other self-driving truck trials to take place recently, like Volvo's autonomous truck that navigated a dark mine, and Daimler's that hurtled down the Autobahn with an executive aboard.
The Ministry of Transport says it selected Scania and Toyota for the venture based on the quality of their proposals and their records in truck-building and developing autonomous technologies. The trials will take place over three years, with the two companies to spend the first year or so developing and testing truck platooning technologies in their own research centres in Sweden (Scania) and Japan (Toyota). This includes the ability to "fully automate the processes for precise docking and undocking of cargo."
Following this first phase, the Ministry of Transport along with the port authority will then pick one of the companies to bring the technology on-shore for local testing and further development. This second phase will be conducted along a 10 km (6.2 mi) test route, initially to haul loads between two specific terminals with a view to later scaling it up for use in other port areas.
Source: Ministry of Transport (PDF)
Falcon's studied by South Island forestry companiesWhile most people would run in fear from a dive-bombing falcon, sharp of beak and claw and intent on attack, researcher Chifuyu Horikoshi stands smiling in the face of nature’s fury. Armed with just a strange red sunhat with loops of fishing line, but packing years of experience researching New Zealand falcons, Ms Horikoshi stood gamely in a Berwick forestry area as two falcons wheeled, screamed and dived at her head.
After a few minutes, the more aggressive female fell into her trap, becoming entangled in the hat’s loops and finding itself caught ready for weighing, measuring and banding. Ms Horikoshi has begun researching the nationally vulnerable birds, the estimated number of which is lower than that of the kiwi, in Dunedin pine forests in the lower South Island, New Zealand.
Wenita technical manager James McEwan said the research was being funded by Wenita Forest Products, City Forests and the Otago Regional Council to find a way for forestry and falcons to "live in some sort of harmony". Mr McEwan said the research stemmed in part from the company having Forest Stewardship Council accreditation.
The PhD student said she was doing the work for Parker Conservation, and had a background researching New Zealand falcons in Kaingaroa forest, in the North Island, as part of her PhD research at Massey University. The three-year study in Dunedin was in its first year.
Because the study was funded by forestry companies, she was searching in pine plantations in areas including north of Silver Peaks, Mt Allan, Flagstaff, near Taieri Mouth, Toko Mouth and Waipori.
Of her trapping style, she said when the birds were more aggressive they were easier to trap, as they attacked her head and got caught in the loops. The hat was attached to her body so the falcons could not escape after being caught. If the birds would not dive-bomb, she put a "lure bird" like a sparrow in a cage, and trapped the falcon in a noose on top of the cage.
In native forests the birds laid eggs on top of epiphytes, plants that grew on top of tree branches, and were flat on top. In areas where there were no natives, like pine plantations, the falcons found a spot on the ground in logged areas, under tree debris, branches or logs.
The pine forests had become an important "surrogate habitat" for the birds. She had discovered 12 nests since beginning the research in December, banding birds as she went.
Mr McEwan said Ms Horikoshi had been "excellent" and was "probably the most experienced falcon person in the country". Next year the study would involve finding whether the birds tagged had stayed in the same areas, where the chicks had gone and "where the population the companies previously knew little about" had gone.
Source: Otago Daily Times
Brazil attracting investment into pulp productionThe export market for pulp produced in Brazil has become increasingly important for the pulp sector with the export share of domestic production having gone up from 55% in 2007 to almost 70% in 2016. Pulp export volumes have expanded in an impressive fashion over the past two decades, with increased year-over-year shipments for 19 of the past 20 years.
This trend continued in 2016, with export volumes likely to reach almost 13 million tons, an increase of about 11% from 2015, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly. Not surprisingly, China’s steady increase in demand for pulp the past decade has been the key driver to Brazil’s pulp export success story. Over one-third of Brazil’s exports were destined for China this year, up from 23% five years ago.
Brazil has become the second largest producer of wood-based pulp in the world behind the US, having surpassed Canada in 2016. The driving factors have been a combination of low wood fibre costs, a dramatically weakening Brazilian Real, and a steady increase in demand in particular for hardwood market pulp in China.
Over the past three years, wood fibre costs in Brazil have been approximately 60% of the manufacturing costs, according to Fisher International. The high cost share for wood fibre, together with being one the lowest-cost pulpwood regions of the world, has made Brazil’s pulp industry a very competitive pulp producer for many of the past 25 years.
In US dollar terms, Eucalyptus pulplog prices have fallen from a record-high in the 3Q/11 to a 12-year low in the 4Q/15. Since the end of 2015, wood fibre prices have gone up but are still substantially below their ten-year average, as reported by the WRQ (www.woodprices.com).
The past two decades have not only been mostly good news for the pulp industry in Brazil, but also for timberland owners measuring their financial results in the Brazilian Real (BRL). In 2016, eucalyptus pulplog prices reached their highest level on record since WRQ started tracking pulplog prices in Brazil over 20 years ago. Current prices are about five percent higher than one year ago in the local currency, and 23% above the average price two years ago.
Source: Wood Resources International LLC, www.woodprices.com
Luxury treehouse hotel openedIf a room with Aurora Borealis views sounds like the perfect getaway, you’ll love what’s popped up at Sweden’s Treehotel. The boutique hotel, which comprises designer treehouses near the Arctic Circle, just welcomed its first guests to the 7th room, a luxury elevated cabin designed by architecture firm Snøhetta. Hovering ten meters off the ground, the elevated dwelling is a contemporary take on the traditional Nordic cabin and comfortably immerses guests in the beautiful Lapland landscape.
Nestled within the evergreen canopy of a tall pine forest, Snøhetta’s 7th room offers stunning views of the Lapland treetops and the Lule River. The cabin is clad in dark-colored pine and thrust into the air by twelve columns. The architects blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living by adding large panoramic windows, a netted terrace suspended above the forest floor, an opening for a tree to pass through the cabin, and even an optical illusion: the cabin’s bottom surface is covered with a large black-and-white print of pine trees to make the cabin appear invisible from below. More >>.
Eastland Wood Council Awards nominations openEntries are now open for the Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards on the East Coast of the North Island, New Zealand for the eighth year. The March 31 closing date gives all nominees plenty of time to roll out their entry forms. This year sees the introduction of a mentor scheme, with up to three hours of support to help understand, critique and assist with the writing of the nomination.
The highlight of the awards each year is the gathering of over 500 guests at the Showgrounds Event Centre – a far cry from the 200 who attended the inaugural awards evening. Former All Black and rugby sevens legend Eric Rush is Master of Ceremonies and will be sure to entertain with his witty repartee.
Last year’s Eastland Wood Council Forestry Professional of the Year was awarded to William (Hoot) Knowles who has the reputation for working more than just a little magic in his job, so it was fitting the 36-year veteran of the forestry industry walked off with two big prizes at the seventh annual Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards last May.
Awards night is a celebration that brings this industry and all its associated service providers together to acknowledge the work being done at the coal face and the great teams and initiatives that make this industry such a success on the East Coast.
Check out the Eastland Wood Council website at: www.eastlandwood.co.nz and get someone within the region to complete the process of nomination that you know deserves the accolades and opportunity to stand up on stage and be recognised.
Replacement of Obama’s climate policies with a carbon tax?Representatives from a coalition of veteran Republican officials — including five who have either served as treasury secretary or as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers — met on Wednesday with White House officials to discuss the idea of imposing a national carbon tax, rather than using federal regulations, to address climate change.
The newly formed Climate Leadership Council is proposing elimination of nearly all of the Obama administration’s climate policies in exchange for a rising carbon tax that starts at US$40 per ton, and is returned in the form of a quarterly check from the Social Security Administration to every American. More >>
The Washington Post
Buy and Sell
...and one to end the week on ... a whale of a tale
For those who haven’t seen this yet. We always knew holographic projection was coming – how long before we actually see this regularly with feature films in differently-designed cinemas? Will it just become a ‘side stream’ fad (like 3D or Imax) or take over mainstream cinema?
And one more for you. Given to us by a Kiwi - but living in Australia. It may well have been used before - but it's soooo good - we'll just have to run it again. We're open of course to any stories being supplied by Australian's - either living there or over in New Zealand.
Once upon a time in the kingdom of heaven, God went missing for seven days. Eventually, Michael the Archangel found him. He enquired of God “Where are you”?
God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds; “look son, look at what I’ve been making”.
Archangel Michael looked puzzled and said “what is it”?
God replied, “it’s another planet but I’m putting LIFE on it. I’ve named it Earth and there’s going to be a balance between everything on it. For example, there’s North America and South America. North America is going to be rich and South America is going to be poor, and the narrow bit joining them - that’s going to be a hot spot. Now look over there, I’ve put a continent of white people in the north and another one of black people in the south".
Then the Archangel said, “and what’s the long white line there”?
And God said, “Ahh, that’s the land of the long white cloud - Aotearoa, New Zealand - that’s a very special place. That’s going to be the most glorious place on earth. Beautiful mountains, lakes, rivers, streams and an exquisite coast line. These people here are going to be modest, intelligent and humorous, and they are going to be found traveling the world. They’ll be extremely social, hard working and high achieving. What’s more I’m going to give them this superhuman, undefeatable rugby team which will be blessed with the most talented and charismatic specimens on the planet, and will be admired and feared by all who come across them”.
Michael the Archangel gasped in wonder and admiration but then seemingly startled proclaimed, “hold on a second, what about the BALANCE, you said there was going to be balance….”.
God replied wisely…”wait until you see the neighbours I’m going to give them on the continent next door”!
And on that note, have a great weekend. For our Australian readers, particularly in parts of NSW (where temperatures of 45 degrees or hotter have been forecast for Saturday), if you're not on fire duty, best head down to the beach. Cheers.
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