Value Added Mushrooms


Value added ideas for Wairarapa

Finance minister Grant Robertson has argued the Wairarapa could develop value added agricultural businesses. Mushrooms growing for more than 50 years at Parkvale in Carterton illustrate what could be achieved.

Clive Thompson has been operating his own mushroom business in a small piece of land. Locals visit his farm to buy retail packs of flats and button mushrooms. Locals are also able to purchase self-grow kits and visit the web site,, to obtain some recipes. Pickled mushrooms are popular in Japan and Wairarapa consumers may wish to try a Japanese recipe with 225 grams of Parkvale button mushrooms. Blanch briefly in lightly salted water and place in a wide-mouthed lidded jar. Make a brine from 1 cup of rice vinegar, 1 cup of water, pinch of salt, pinch of white pepper, pinch of black pepper, pinch of mace and cover the mushrooms. Place the lid on and leave in a dark cool place for 2 weeks. They will keep for 3 weeks in a refrigerator in an airtight container.

Grow your own

Interested people may purchase Parkvale mushroom kits which are compost containing mycelium and peat. Grower instructions which are included in the kit say put the peat mix on the compost, cover with plastic without sealing, and leave for one to two weeks until the mycelium has grown through the peat. Then remove the plastic and keep in a slightly drying and dark place, watering lightly. There are 7 to 10 days between flushes. Water well once you are picking. Pick by twisting to avoid damaging the surface. Keep the surface moist down to the bottom of the peat. The bucket should produce for a couple of months or more.

Wikipedia says Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates.

Other products for the Japanese market

When Grant Robertson spoke to Talking Business about options in value added agriculture he did not give particular examples. Mushrooms are not the only example, Japanese demand for daikon radishes are another. Daikon are a popular pickle in Japan, and Moore Wilson of Masterton stock locally grown daikon already. There are other examples of well-seasoned vegetables that could be sold to local and Japanese consumers.

When I was based in Japan I identified these uses of local products from the book The Well-Flavored Vegetable as some possible options. Lotus root, Chinese cabbage in brine, garlic pickled in miso, rakkyo onions, takuan (fermented daikon) pickle, umoboshi, cucumber kimchee, apple – plums in honey, garlic in molasses, kimchee peppers, cherries in white liquor and other products such as piquant chicken livers which include sake, onion and garlic.

Daikon a Japanese radish is a mild-flavoured winter radish (Raphanus sativus variety (cultivar) ‘Longipinnatus’) usually characterized by fast-growing leaves and a long, white root. Organic Daikon Radish is available from Auckland based Kings Seeds

For further information email or see

Publishing plans for DecisionMaker Wairarapa economic development editions are being laid, possible sponsorship and topics are being identified.




Big is not necessarily beautiful

Greytown Main Street streetscape is set up with heritage principles and there are community organisations that feel strongly about it. Street lights in Greytown were changed to a heritage style coloured dark green to fit with the ambiance of the town. There is a restricted colour palette for buildings in the main street to fit in with the general preferred heritage style and there are guidelines for signage for businesses. Building heights are restricted to fit with the height of the heritage buildings.

In August a plan was put forward by a developer which included a 4-storey apartment block to replace existing buildings which include the Greytown Little Theatre. A petition was circulated asking “Is this what we want for our beautiful heritage town?” which questioned features of the proposed building which do not seem to match heritage principles.

Community Advocates

The Greytown Heritage Trust ( reported that the resource consent application for the development proposed for 68 Main Street, Greytown had not been accepted as being complete by South Wairarapa District Council. The developer Mr Pilbrow has been asked to provide more detailed plans, along with further heritage assessment and information on compliance with the District Plan. Council awaited a resubmitted resource consent application for the site. The Trust has been inundated with calls from members of the community asking what they can do to limit the scale of the 4 level development on the site of the former Greytown Little Theatre in Main Street.

Impetus for Change

Alisoun Werry recalls that it was the threatened demolition of the historic Kouka Cottage on Main St (formerly known as Cabbage Tree Cottage) that provided the impetus for the organisation. The Trust then set its sights on improving the aesthetics of the town hall after its 1970s makeover and called a public meeting to encourage community engagement. In 2011 the town hall was fully restored. The trust began working with SWDC to create an historic precinct in Greytown, running from the Kuratawhiti/Jellicoe Streets intersection in the north to Wood Street further south. Alisoun says this was an important step in establishing a pattern of consultation between the council and the trust.

The trust receives regular notifications from the council about proposals affecting Greytown’s historic Main Street, ranging from alterations to existing houses and commercial buildings to new dwellings and signage.  The trust consults with its own advisors and reports back to council.

Alisoun Werry and Carmel Ferguson are active Greytown advocates for the work of the Hertitage Trust.

To find out more

Publishing plans for DecisionMaker Wairarapa economic development editions are being laid, possible sponsorship and topics are being identified.

Visions for Growing Older in Greytown

OrchardThe Orchard retirement community project was reported in June in the Times Age following the sale of Murphy’s fruit orchard in Reading Street Greytown. Developer, Mr Craig Percy, lives in Auckland and has family in the Wairarapa. The Times Age reported that the project will be a joint venture between him, a retirement village operator and Tumu group. According to their website Tumu group, based in Hastings, is an independent supplier of timber and associated products for the building and packaging industries in New Zealand, with wider investments in various sectors such as finance, property and manufacturing.

Talking business recognised that this may impact existing services provided by Arbor House the local rest home in Greytown. Arbor House was asked for comment and felt at this point it was too early for conclusions to be made.

Impact on Arbor House

However, in a written statement Rob Tuckett, chair of Arbor House board of trustees, said “The prospect of an extensive “Orchard Retirement Village” in Greytown is now clearly a reality. This must result in very considerable changes to the pattern of provision of age-related residential care, not only in Greytown but in the South Wairarapa as a whole. These changes must impact most directly on Arbor House, our community owned not-for-profit rest home and hospital. While recognising that Orchard Development Plan will secure the future for aged residential care in our area, Arbor House is very aware that there will be challenges to be met in the process. The Board of Trustees are of course fully committed to maintaining the high quality of care provided at Arbor house, as well as ensuring the security of employment of our staff.”

Talking business has taken soundings on the project and while this was a very welcome development was advised that the developer would need to have a strong capital base.

Consultation Called For

Community sources told the column that it would be desirable for consultation to occur about the project which could include discussion about the need to include people of all ages and backgrounds. The development may mean an influx of a lot more people aged over 70 to Greytown a change from its current mixed-age character. Consultation should guide the development of the project. One community member said that rather than moving they would like services delivered to their current homes. These may be publicly funded services or services they pay for themselves.

Some local people anticipate that “The Orchard project” is likely to be similar to those in Waikanae where residents purchase or lease a dwelling or serviced apartment. These generally constitute stand-alone houses, serviced apartments and in due course care home facilities including hospital and dementia level care.

We understand that the climate financially in which the smaller rest homes are now operating in most of the smaller towns in New Zealand is making their viability and sustainability increasingly doubtful. For example, locally the recent total closure of the Ultimate Care facility in East Street has brought this into sharp focus.

The development of a large facility, such as The Orchard presents, is a completely new development for the South Wairarapa. Such a development would also clearly need to look outside the immediate area to find potential purchasers. Developments such as the ones in Waikanae cater for large numbers of people perhaps in excess of 100 units.

Though this looks to be a significant development for Greytown the residents in our community will need reassuring that this as well as the other apparently planned extension of the town can be managed with the existing water and sewerage infrastructure.


New Settlers

Ata Rangi

Gerald Hensley is a living advertisement for the Wairarapa and for those who want to attract people to live here.

‘Juliet’ is named in honour of a special friend who exemplified elegance, charisma, grace and style – qualities we feel are also well expressed in this wine from her family vineyard. It was a pleasure to officially recognise its release with her husband and daughters, and raise a glass in fond remembrance of her.

Gerald Hensley came to the Wairarapa for it’s work opportunities, retirement lifestyle and the wide sky which reminds him of the Canterbury he grew up in. He spoke at the recent Booktown event in Featherston. The event was so popular that there was no room for late comers. His books include Friendly Fire in which he talks about the cast of characters with whom he has worked.

Before coming to live and work in Martinborough, Gerald Hensley held a number of senior public service roles including head of the Prime Minister’s Department under Sir Robert Muldoon and David Lange before being appointed Secretary of Defence. Early in his career as a foreign service officer he played significant roles in the establishment of modern independent Samoa.

Gerald says Martinborough, where he lives, has good land for growing grapes and making wine. Land which was marginal for sheep farming is good for growing vines. Soil quality is important and while water can be bought from the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and water is available from the Ruamahanga river, vineyards don’t need vast irrigation.

Labour needs fluctuate, but there is no need for special steps to open more labour. Current sources of labour include those on working holidays from North America and Europe, particularly Germany and France. At this stage he sees no need for increasing the Pacific Island workforce. Reducing costs is a more important issue for the industry and global transport connections continue to be an important consideration.

Talking business with Anthony Haas


Business Case Presented

Chris Laidlaw, chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), said in May that he was optimistic improvements to Wairarapa train services would be made but he still has to confirm arrangements. He says “Rail is complex and challenging. The regional council (which owns the carriages) together with Kiwirail (which owns the line, signalling, locomotives and other infrastructure) have put a business case to the government for urgently needed upgrades to the infrastructure which has been badly neglected for decades and which has been the dominant cause of all the angst over slow or missing services. I’m pretty hopeful that this investment will be supported by all parties. We have also put a business case separately to the government for the purchase of diesel/electric locomotives which are infinitely more flexible, to replace the aging diesel locos.”

Advocacy Continues
Finance minister Grant Robertson was also optimistic when he spoke in the Wairarapa this May. He also said it was the fault of the last government that necessary improvements had not been made to the road system.

Labour MP Kieran McAnulty is also keeping the pressure on the minister of Finance.

The minister reassuringly said in May that there is no great need to vigorously advocate. However with no concrete plan in place locals may choose not accept that advice.

Innovation is in the wind

GWRC is also looking further ahead. They have prioritised single ticketing and diesel/electric locomotives in the top 10 of their priority list targeted for 2020 – 21.

There are other ideas which may not yet be on anyone’s formal to do list and which may merit an innovators attention. One of these ideas is the expansion of the tunnel under the Remutaka hill. Is it in fact possible that the existing rail tunnel could be expanded so that more goods and passenger services could go through the hill?

Another big idea, know to be discussed in some Wairarapa social circles, is an international airport for the southern Wairarapa, possibly linked to the Wellington international airport by small commuter aircraft.

Tunnel and international airport ideas could be attractive to those who want to get goods to market and tourists to their destinations.

Both ideas could be seen as fanciful and impractical but either idea may help reduce dependence on transport that are challenged by mother nature – as the Manawatu gorge recently illustrated.

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Grant Robertson

Finance minister’s suggestions for Wairarapa

Value added agriculture: Is this what the Wairarapa wants?

Finance minister Grant Robertson thinks the Wairarapa region could sensibly develop market led value added agricultural enterprises.

The Labour minister accentuated agricultural opportunities in the region’s development, during an interview for the Talking business column after his April 2018 pre-budget speech to the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce.

Robertson volunteered that Wairarapa mayors should work together to present regional development proposals. “What I don’t want is, say, three or four Mayors decide that they are going to come individually to us”. “The critical element, is that we see a wider plan”, the senior Jacinda Ardern government minister said.

“The biggest thing for me is making sure that whatever emerges out of this region is the thing that we can put in front of NZ First minister Shane Jones and the $1 billion Fund and say this is what the region wants. If you do that, you’ll be way ahead.” “From the point of view of this region, Robertson said of the Wairarapa “I think it’s well poised to benefit from this Fund”.


Intersection of technology and agriculture.

“I’m talking about advanced manufacturing, adding technological value to what you already do, making sure that you’re producing the highest value, highest quality food, and finding the new niche markets.”

Robertson said “There’s a company in the Wairarapa called Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats, which is doing an amazing thing working with export firms and exporters working with customer groups in Japan and China finding out what they actually want”.

“Because the Wairarapa produces food so very, very well, it feels to me that the Wairarapa story should be about ‘our region that produces the highest quality, cleanest food in the world’. If I was writing the value proposition for Wairarapa, that’s what it would be. That’s about using technology, it’s about getting better market understanding, all of those things.”

“I know kiwifruit doesn’t work here, but this is what Zespri do very, very well. They get into the medicinal part of the product and ask what Chinese consumers want….the health benefits of kiwifruit and putting that into different forms – chewable tablets or whatever the consumer wants.”

“We had a fascinating meeting, just after we came into Government where we brought in the heads of agricultural and horticultural organisations and one of them said New Zealand will never be able to feed the whole world because we’re just not big enough to do that, but we can feed tens of millions of people, or hundreds of millions of people, really well.”

“And that’s the thing we should be doing, that’s the proposition.”

Take climate change seriously

“And that’s why, as I was saying today, all of those environmental things matter – because they’re part of what we’re selling the world. And so if we can sell to the world on the basis that we’re really are clean and green, that we are taking climate change seriously:  we should do those things anyway because they’re good for our environment – but actually they add to what we’re doing economically.”

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Don’t take no for an answer

Tony drawing

Cartoon by Trace Hodgson first published in New Zealand Financial Review

Shane Jones could be the ally the Wairarapa needs. His advocacy might make a difference in the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s efforts to get reasonable train services between Wellington and Wairarapa. He also could help bring necessary aviation questions on to the agenda – what did happen to the plan to get services between Masterton and Auckland?

What are the implications for the Wairarapa of the challenges issued by regional development minister Shane Jones? He represents an opportunity the Wairarapa should not waste. He has the courage and the skills to fight some of the Wairarapa’s battles.

NZ First Minister Shane Jones was told by Labour Prime Minister Jacinida Ardern, after he challenged the regional development performance of Air New Zealand, his authority did not extend to removing board members on the national airline.

Act Party MP David Seymour said there were alternative tactics the minister could employ – tactics that leaders of the Wairarapa could employ. “If the Government feels there is a genuine public good in the regional routes that have been shut down, it could set up a government subsidy and put those routes out for tender.”

Earlier this year we reported on how some of New Zealand First’s plans could benefit provision of the Wairarapa’s train services. We wait for the evidence that Greater Wellington Regional Council, with ministers, can fix the train services.

Sooner or later it will be necessary to go in to bat for aviation services linking this region with it’s markets. Shane Jones handled properly could be a friend at court. The wit and wisdom of Shane Jones could help fight some of the battles including financing options.

Out to tender

A regional aviation route that could benefit from funding is the link between Masterton and Auckland along with the Wellington Wairarapa train service. There are other public transport services such as replacing the Manawatu Gorge that need public sector financing.

Development finance options

There are various ways to finance public transport that interested parties could explore. The Masterton regional summit, stimulated discussion on Waitangi Day 2017 and is a potential forum. Perhaps Shane could incorporate the Act suggestion into financing the trains and regional airline services. Can Shane Jones be mobilised to put Wairarapa aviation and other public services on the agenda? There are many ways to skin a cat so don’t take no for an answer.

Talking business with Anthony Haas

This Problem Must Not Dog Us


Dog with spiked collar

Dogs are not yet problem in Greytown. Yet they so easily could be. Unaccompanied dogs can be seen in Main Street. Yappy, snappy ones are tied up outside shops. The speed with which dogs can overwhelm a town is revealed in the experience across the Tararua ranges, an experience which we would do well to heed.

Mayor Brett Ambler of Kapiti District Council 20 years ago began the first concerted and official campaign against the now near-overwhelming menace of attack dogs masquerading as household pets.

His crusading work in venturing where local politicians still fear to tread has earned him street recognition from the Kapiti District Council which has named Brett Ambler Way after their no-nonsense mayor.

Mr Ambler was the first public official to recognise and then confront the evidence that these aggression-breed animals represented a deliberate threat to the populace and thus his ratepayers.

The late Mr Ambler on foot personally toured his area and witnessed these dogs, and more significantly still, their owners and came to the following conclusion.

The owners of these dogs took a barely-disguised delight, if disguised at all, at the fear that their animals engendered among the general public.

Mr Ambler was the first official who dared to publicly point out that these animals were the four-legged extensions of their owners’ anti-social and threatening ambitions.

Only now and in the past few weeks when the medical profession formally intervened with its statistics on the frequency and effect of dog attacks on children has Mr Ambler been vindicated.

A local body conviction politician Mr Ambler understood the risk to his career of pointing out the more lethal dog danger beyond the one of pavement fouling where the dog lobby had successfully contained the debate. Until that is just a few weeks ago. Is it time to have a conversation with our elected representatives?

The long-serving Mr Ambler lost his seat at the next local body elections. He died soon after.

He will be remembered as that rare politician who seeing a threat to his people and their security said what had to be said – when it needed to be said.

Talking business with Anthony Haas

New gum forest opportunity for the Wairarapa


The gum tree option

The opportunity has been created to develop a new forest industry in the Wairarapa – gum trees. Much of eastern New Zealand has low rainfall (600 – 1,000 mm per year) rainfall which is likely to become less predictable as the impacts of climate change manifest themselves. The promoters say their select eucalypts provide drylands farmers with an opportunity to grow a valuable, versatile ground-durable timber crop on a relatively short rotation.

These gum trees are an alternative to radiata pine and do not need to be treated with environmentally damaging wood preservatives before being used as, for example cross bars of power poles, vineyard posts, and railway sleepers. They can also be used for laminated veneer lumber (LVL) which is a product already produced by Juken New Zealand in their Masterton processing plant. National and international markets for these eucalypt products have been identified as being diverse, high value and sustainable.

The organisation, New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative (NZDFI), is creating the opportunity by calling for public comment from interested parties, who might range from land owners to wood processors. One public comment may be that there is the possibility of potential fire danger. The opportunity is consistent with the government’s initiative to plant 1 billion trees over the next ten years, led by New Zealand First regional economic development minister Shane Jones. The NZ Government is very keen to encourage and support new forest planting at a national level and this is an opportunity from which the Wairarapa could benefit. Durable eucalypts will confer numerous environmental benefits, including a reduction in the use of CCA-treated timber, provision of nectar and pollen for bees and birds, carbon sequestration, and soil erosion control.

The opportunity not only calls for private sector involvement it also suggests that private/public participation is an option. Wellington regional council is likely to be consulted for feedback on the plans.


Find out more at NZDFI and contact for further information Paul Millen, NZDFI Project Manager 03 574 1001 021 662 147

There are other opportunities for forest industries for the Wairarapa which readers might introduce through Talking Business.

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Ways to cope with sight loss

Tony drawing

Being Palangi: My Pacific Journey A memoir by me, Anthony Haas, was first published in 2014 in print, then in e-book by Amazon and in audio book by the Royal NZ Foundation of the Blind.

I have had a number of visual challenges all my life. I was Chairman of the consumer organisation Retina New Zealand and delegate to Retina International Congresses in Toronto and Tokyo.

Retina 2018 New Zealand will present the most up-to-date knowledge in scientific and clinical research, treatment advocacy and access, rehabilitation best practice, blindness-specific technologies and peer support.

It will examine critical issues associated with expediting the development, accessibility and availability of treatments for retinal disorders.

The February 9-12 Retina international continuing education and international congress at Auckland University will include insight into retinal research in genes and gene therapy, cell therapy and regenerative medicine, retina implant technology, novel drug therapy and epidemiology.

The Retina congress sessions offer practical guidance regardless of where delegates are in their careers or stages in coping with a sight loss. For patients and their families, clinicians and rehabilitation professionals, scientists and students alike, the congress will ensure a learning experience of high value.

For people with low vision seeking to retain independence, there are now a plethora of tools and techniques. But what will work for whom? The congress will deal with making the most of remaining vision.

The specialists will advise patients “How Will I Read, How Will I Write, How Will I Communicate?”

The congress is asking some patients about our experience of “Independence, Self-Determination – Are the Barriers Real?”

Sight impaired people like me have been asked to relate success stories and how we have overcome barriers to realisation of our potential. This is aimed to assist family members, colleagues and friends of people with a sight loss.

My self-determination experience

I became bold at boarding school when a new teacher, acting no doubt on the overprotective intent of my parents, said I should sit in the front row. I decided then that if I had to be up front I might as well get the consequential benefits.

When I realised I could never drive a car, I sought inner city jobs, accessible by walking and public transport.

When time came to get a home my mother pushed me to get an inner city house, which lasted 32 years.

 Your information on services and support

Information will be available at the Retina Congress on services and financial support for blind and visually impaired people. Although some of it will be in complex language, it enables consumers to get access to comparable professional level knowledge.

The congress will ask “Where are we at and what Does the Future Hold?” There will be commentary on the multiple avenues of intervention, including correcting the underlying defect, regenerating damaged retinal cells, preventing further retinal deterioration and providing artificial methods of sensing light.

Stem cell excitement

Retina International reports an exciting future for applying stem cell therapy to treating retinal disorders. How does stem cell therapy generate cells that are lost in retinal disease in order to restore lost function? What are the scientific, ethical and political challenges in the use of stem cells?

Likely to be one of the biggest science stories of the next decade, patients and professions can learn why this powerful and cost-effective new gene-editing technology known as CRISPR makes it much easier for researchers to figure out the biological effect of a gene. The focus is on developing therapies that use this revolutionary “gene surgery” technique to treat inherited diseases.