Comment: Manawatu farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert worries his idyllic yet isolated rural life may be making him a dinosaur.

Recently, I have started making involuntary noises while getting out of bed in the morning. Noises I imagine are akin to the sound dinosaurs would make from afar.

Noises that prompt me to question, am I now a dinosaur? Is a meteor coming my way and the world as I know it, will soon end?

This undoubtedly stems from the constant rhetoric around the need to be flexible, adaptable and "pivot" – quite possibly the most annoying buzz word of 2020, and clearly a skill the dinosaurs did not possess.


Change is constant and no more confronting than the dozen iPads I recently observed in operation in the new entrant's class at my former primary school.

Where as a child I, and those around me dreamed of being farmers, teachers and nurses, today it's social media specialists, influencers and professional gamers. Plenty of occupations have disappeared with the passing of time and new roles are invented on an almost daily basis.

Farming as an industry, was key in the 19th and 20th centuries, but in some ways seems to be on the outer in the 21st century.

It's a good honest occupation, that involves enough hard labour I have no energy left for the gym workout and mirror selfies at the end of the day.

I still look forward to checking the mailbox (the physical, wooden one at the end of the driveway) to flick through newspaper print, while a fossil fuel powered vehicle idles away.

I still communicate with a landline telephone even though its dilapidated infrastructure and intermittent reliability following rain is trying to make me find another option. And to top it all off, I have never travelled via uber, watched an episode of Game of Thrones or needed to date post the emergence of Tinder.

But it's not like I'm even approaching retirement age. I'm turning 35 soon.

Am I a hermit? Am I excluding myself and refusing to adapt to the world around me? I don't think so. But I haven't helped myself at times.


Agriculture has, by its very nature, taken me to places that most people see as remote. Places with more in the way of hills, side roads and gullies, and less in the way of people, high rises and cafes. As farmers, we and our families flourish out here; but we rely on old world technology to keep us in touch with the modern world.

Most people just call a cellphone a "phone," conveniently forgetting the entire operation is linked to cell towers these days.

In town, one would expect a call to connect with ease, whereas I, for years, have battled reception issues and topography. There's no two ways about it - coverage in rural areas is terrible.

I've been giving a landline number as my best contact for most of my life, and regularly get strange looks from dairy owners as I buy prepaid top ups. I am clearly not a teenage and (hopefully) don't look like your average drug dealer.

With the landline becoming unreliable due to aging infrastructure and companies that don't care to maintain it properly, what do we do?

The best thing about a landline was that in emergencies and power cuts it worked. The last big snow event, which took over four days for power to be reconnected, it proved vital.


If the dinosaurs could have picked up a landline to call for help, would any be still alive? If we need help and can't call for it, will we face a similar consequence? I hope not.

There is an election coming. Politicians promise all sorts of things in the lead-in, before they forget about them and do what they want. How about having rural connectivity front and centre this time around?

Invest in the rural dinosaurs who might need saving from a metaphorical meteor.

Or maybe with the referendum, your future drug dealer might need to have better contact with his isolated rural production unit. Whatever floats your boat.