Showing posts from February, 2013

National Needs To "Grow Up"

Dear Sir

Eric Roy's column "Novopay mess due to Labour" (27 February) didn't impress me.

As a teacher I have heard all these excuses before:

"They started it"
"Can't remember"
"They told me to"
"They did it too"
"I can't tell you, it's a secret"

After four years, and a growing mess, isn't it about time this Government grew up and started taking responsibility!

Yours sincerely...

Mining Lignite Should Be Prohibited In Plan

The Southland District Council's mayor, Frana Cardno, is a passionate supporter of the natural environments within her jurisdiction. She has put her weight behind the save Fiordland campaign and has openly expressed concerns about lignite mining. The Government has removed the ability of the RMA to recognise climate change has also removed the four well-beings. Mayors and councils who truly want to operate in the real interests of their people and the natural environment are now hugely restricted.

Coal Action Murihiku provided a submission to the Southland District Council Plan that we hope may provide stronger protections to the local environment and support the long term health of the people. We hope our recommendations are adopted:

Irrational Support For a Failing Government

I got a response to my letter,  published in the Southland Times, in defence of the Government:

D Kennedy treats us to his usual mixture of fantasy at best and downright distortion of the truth at worst.

He seems to give the electorate no credit for being able to judge which political party is to be trusted when it comes to opinion polls or, indeed, the general election.

National's manifesto made no secret of the fact that a partial privatisation of certain state owned enterprises would be part of its plans.

No surprises there then.

Furthermore, if we added binding citizens' referenda to MMP, as Mr Kennedy and the rest of the Green Party would like, the country would grind to a halt.


I thought it was A C Clarke who was promoting a fantasy (of a responsible National led Government). I also find it interesting that when National supporters respond to factually based arguments they accuse us of distortion and lies, but never specify what they are.

I decided to thro…

Ralph Hotere 1931-2013

Ralph Hotere, like McCahon, will always be regarded as one of New Zealand's most significant and iconic artists. He continually pushed the boundaries of artistic endeavour, used art to challenge political thinking and created works of beauty out of black. Black is not normally regarded as a colour by artists but with Hotere it gained vibrancy and significance as a colour and a means of expression.

Here in the Deep South we have a many examples of Hotere's work to remember him by, both at the Anderson Park Art Gallery (where I am on the governing committee) and at the Eastern Southland Gallery where they have a significant collection of 60 of his graphic works and paintings.

"Window in Spain"  One of several works by Hotere in the Anderson Park Collection.

Solid Energy Abandons Lignite Developments

Solid Energy Chairman Mark Ford confirmed on National Radio this morning (Friday 22 Feb) that they are dropping the lignite projects in Southland. This was welcomed by all of us who have fought a long campaign against a very aggressive company with our limited financial resources. While international markets played a significant part in this decision, it does seem odd that they would invest $29 million in the pilot briquetting plant when they had no buyers for the product and it provided few jobs.

Don Elder has become another statistic in a line of Government appointed CEO's who have been found wanting in their governance. We have found with the dire financial situation of Solid Energy how the governance culture that National has encouraged, has serious flaws. This company paid huge salaries and bonuses to its CEO and managers while treating those who worked on the coalface of the industry with some disdain. Governance decisions in the company were based on an ideology that was f…

Why Do We Tolerate Shonky Governance?

Someone recently remarked to me that they hadn't seen one of my letters in the Southland Times for a while so I decided to rectify that...

Dear sir

Lies and Deception Leading Education and School Closures

The latest Listener and educationalist Kelvin Smythe have highlighted an interesting phenomena with two of our widely used assessment systems. Children who have been identified by experienced teachers as struggling writers are now getting results above expectations in STAR and e-ASSTle assessments. While schools and teachers should welcome such good results in an atmosphere of competition, as professionals they create some discomfort when our broader assessments and judgments say the results should be otherwise.

There are a lot of conspiracy theories suggesting Government influence to boost scores so that their education changes appear to be producing positive results. There are also suggestions that they are developing an online national assessment system (PaCT) that will allow the simplification and centralisation of assessment data. Synchronising the three assessments would make logical sense but the process to do this appears artificial and political rather than being based on re…

National Park or National Disgrace!

The Save Manapouri campaign (1959-1972) was probably the first major environmental campaign that New Zealand experienced. It was essentially a protest about the destruction of one of our most beautiful  lakes through raising the water level by 30 metres to support a power station. The campaign was successful in saving the natural beauty of the lake but the power station went ahead and the Waiau River lost much of its flow.

Under this National led Government we have seen a return to the destructive environmental policies of yesteryear and a responding resurgence of environmental activism. While our lowland rivers are under attack from intensive farming, most New Zealanders feel proud that our remaining wild places still appear to be untouched by human interference and provide the images that support our clean green brand. This was most noticeably realised when thousands marched across the country to protest about the Government's intention to open up our most protected areas for m…

Turei Takes on Education Again.

National's determined attack on education over the last four years has created a demoralised sector that has little energy left apart from protecting children and students from the worst of the changes. The little remaining energy is totally sucked up in dealing with the Novapay debacle. It is estimated that around $12 million is owed to schools who have been supporting underpaid staff and it has cost $8 million in staff overtime in trying to sort out the many problems.

The Green Party focused on child poverty as one of our three campaigns during the last election and while this is still as important as ever, saving our public education system is also becoming a priority. For many children suffering from poverty or inadequate living conditions, schools provide a valuable respite and a stable and caring environment. It is too risky to place children in the likes of Charter Schools (in the care of unregistered teachers) or limiting children's potential through National Standard…

Green's Policy Conference in Invercargill

Invercargill Workingmen's Club (a great venue)
The 2013 South Island Green's Policy Conference, held at Invercargill's Working Men's Club was a huge success. The party alternates between a national policy conference and spilt North and South Island conferences. Splitting the conference every other year enables us to have conferences in outlying regions. This enables greater member participation and provides a real boost for local Greens when a large number of our MPs spend time in one place.

11 of our 14 MP's were in Invercargill over the weekend and most spent time outside the conference talking to local people and organisations. I spent time with Jan Logie (ex Invercargill) as she talked to people in the Southland Beneficiaries and Community Rights Centre regarding pending legislative changes that were going to further erode the support available to those in greatest need. I was also able to have discussions with David Clendon about a future Invercargill meeting…

Waitangi Day Thoughts.

This Waitangi Day I didn't attend an official hui as I did last year, but I spent some of the time reading some history that documented the early contacts between Maori and Europeans in Murihiku.

One of the earliest European accounts I have is from the journals of John Boultbee, who travelled around the south coast of New Zealand in 1827. He spent time living with local Maori and even describes a meeting with Tuhawaiki who was later to be a signatory of the Treaty of Waitangi. Tuhawaiki learned his English from the sealers and whalers he came into contact with and as a result it was laden with expletives, hence his nickname "Bloody Jack". When he converted to Christianity and came into contact with more educated Europeans he was apparently embarrassed by the language he had used.

Boultbee describes the generosity and kindness he was shown by the Maori of 'Ruaboka' (Ruapuki Island) and when he was later picked up by a sealing ship he made the following observatio…

The Labour/Green Relationship