Disentangling ‘bright’ from the ‘thick’ economy

Published: Fri 22 Oct 1999 02:15 PM
Upton-on-line travelled to Oamaru yesterday and addressed a crowd assembled by local MP, Gavin Herlihy. Preparations were meticulous, anticipating every thrust on the Resource Management Act and sustainable land management. Typically, upton-at-Oamaru was instead assailed on the question of government assistance for the preservation of historic buildings.
If upton-on-line felt somewhat under pressure, all hearts went out to Mr Herlihy who had to go and join the hapless Alliance candidate John Wright and the oleaginous Winston Peters to face the might of Grey Power. Upton-on-line can report that Mr Peters was particularly tetchy, engaging frequently in acrimonious debate with the Chairman.
To return to historic buildings, the striking feature of Oamaru is the evidence of its past wealth. This town contains some of New Zealand’s finest examples of white stone architecture. Some of these are lovingly restored, but many have seen better days. These edifices were erected on the proceeds of grain and wool a century ago. Commodity prices have since declined inexorably, (and it just doesn’t seem to rain like it used to).
Sometime ago upton-on-line used the rather felicitous phrase, ‘the future goldmines are no longer in the hills, they are in our hearts and minds’. It applies to New Zealand generally. It applies to Oamaru with nobs on.
There has been much loose talk recently about the ‘knowledge economy’. This, indeed, is a worthy object. But, it seems to me that it must involve the entire economy - urban and rural. It’s no good settling for two economies: a bright one and a thick one. The business of the nation has to be conducted intelligently or go under.
Signs of a bright future were identified with the North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group. This group of innovative farmers are generating a quality assurance system that will enable them to verify the claims they make for their produce. They have their eye on consumers who will pay extra for a quality product.
Upton-at-Papakaio reminded those present that if we want to sell our food to rich markets that can afford premium prices, we have to face the fact that they are full of rich consumers who can afford to worry about what they eat, ask questions about it, and pick and choose.

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