Welcome to my wrap of the year that was.
Record returns for the primary sector in 2019 and beyond. We can expect $48 billion to flood into our export coffers for the year ended June 2020. The much-maligned dairy industry will contribute nearly $20 billion of that windfall. Why some in this country have a death wish for that golden goose is beyond me.
Meat and wool accounts for another $10 billion and most of that comes from beef, lamb, mutton and venison as strong wool (easily our biggest export in the 1950s) remains a dog. It truly is a sick puppy in a sector where the planets have never been so aligned.
Star of the stable - horticulture - has taken over from forestry as our third-biggest export earner but hold all bets on that one in years to come as the "Pinetree Prince of the Provinces" Shane Jones looks to plant the place in pinus radiata.
Putting aside the absolute horror of March 15 and White Island, on a rural front M. bovis refuses to go away and, as always when you're a farmer, it's been a challenging year climatically.
The biggest disappointment though is that, despite record returns across the board for the primary sector, there is an alarming lack of confidence in farming. Most of that is due to a fear of the unknown from government policy. By rights we should be in a farming boom. That we're not is an indictment on the coalition government.
Social media. Some of the aforementioned politicians (and others of tall-poppy profile) have had to put up with brutal personal attacks that bear no relevance to their political lives or actions.
In the good old days there was an element of control when it came to a letter to the editor or a call to talkback radio.
Social media is out of control and yet when used appropriately it's a wonderful tool.
Twitter, for example, is my go-to rural news source. But for you trolls and anonymous keyboard warriors who want to have a crack, here's my wish for 2020. Grow a set and put your name to your comments. You are cowardly, bottom-dwelling losers.
The Legends Never Die Award
Dame Yvette Williams, Sir Brian Lochore and Sir Peter Snell.
Three mighty Kauri have fallen. Add that to the nation's most famous Pinetree being felled in 2017 and it's been a tough couple of years for our most beloved and iconic sportspeople.
And, as I write, I find my friend, and former All Blacks locking partner of Pinetree Meads, Sam Strahan has passed. Bugger!
The Boris Johnson Politician of the Year Award
Jacinda, the definition of a woke politician, is a superstar on the world stage but less so on the domestic front ("woke", by the way, and "learnings" are my most hated words of 2019).
Winston is Winston. He definitely has still got his bark, but is he losing his bite?
Grant Robertson's a safe set of hands.
After that though, the Cabinet cupboard is pretty bare.
Shane Jones is amusingly self-deprecating but Jamie Mackay is always suspicious of people who talk about themselves in the third person and who want to make New Zealand the South Pacific's pine plantation.
David Seymour earned rightful kudos for his sterling work around his End of Life Choice Bill.
The smiling assassin Judith Collins remained a thorn in the side of both the government and some in her own party.
Todd Muller grabbed the bull by the horns in agriculture and climate change.
I was tempted to award the top gong to James Shaw (a realist and a rarity in the Green Party) for pulling a rabbit from the hat by getting the Nats to agree to support his Zero Carbon Act, a real example that bipartisan politics can work.
But in the end I've gone for a politician who, at the beginning of 2019, I didn't think would see out the year. He staved off the enemy from within and landed some real hits on the accident-prone government around Budget leaks and with the smart use of social media.
If he can ditch the pin stripe suit and front up to Fieldays in a Swandrii and gumboots with some mud on them, I think he's in with a shot for the 2020 election.
Simon Bridges, even though you are sometimes somewhat dorky, you are my politician of the year.
The Roger Douglas Memorial Ag Person of the Year
In memory of the man who did more than anyone else in the 20th century to irreparably change the course of farming, albeit using a full nelson and a choke hold.
With that historic perspective in mind, I was very tempted to award this to James Shaw, regardless of whether we loathed or loved his Zero Carbon work.
Other notables include Katie Milne, the first female president of Federated Farmers, who has shown many a bloke up in her pragmatic approach to getting the job done, often earning the chagrin of the government in the process; the Ag Proud boys bringing their barbeques to town, bridging the rural-urban divide, portrayed farmers in a most positive light; while young Elle Perriam hit the road and did God's work for rural mental health with her 'Will to Live' charity.
But my ag person of the year goes to a man who stamped his authoritarian authority on farming in 2019 like no other, and whose actions in 2020 could change the face of farming forever.
In person he's very personable, professionally he's very prickly.
And he's on a won't-back-down collision course with farmers over his Essential Freshwater Plan (unless, of course, Winston uses the hand of God to intervene in election year).
He appears to have done a good job as Trade Minister but it's his work as Minister of the Environment that will define 2020. Take a bow David Parker - and take it easy on farmers!