A Turning Tide?

It seems the tide is turning.

The Dominon Post reports that over 300 people participated in a protest on Wednesday in Napier organised by local farmers to coincide with the Apache presentation to the Hawkes Bay Regional Council. Concerned residents in Hawkes Bay have a long and growing list of questions they would like answered by the companies and councils involved. Until satisfactory assurances are provided by independent experts, these citizens and ratepayers are saying they don’t want fracking to happen in their region.

Yesterday I received a copy of the letter from the Christchurch City Council dated 16 January 2012 to the Minister of Energy and Resources requesting a moratorium on fracking until an independent inquiry is completed into the practice. The resolution in the Council was passed 10 votes (including Mayor Bob Parker) to 2.

In the last month more jurisdictions around the world including a number of local authorities in Ireland and the country of Bulgaria have joined France, South Africa, New York State and dozens of smaller authorities across North America in establishing a moratorium or banning fracking completely. Many of these decisions have been endorsed by the local chambers of commerce, medical boards, oil and gas commissions and water catchment boards.

The Labour Party has this week suggested Parliament instigates a ‘robust inquiry’ into the practice in New Zealand – either by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment or the Environmental Protection Agency. Unlike the recent report on fracking released by Taranaki Regional Council, the Terms of Reference for such a study would need wide agreement from experts across a range of disciplines and be at arms length from the legislators, regulators and industry.

Welcome Home…

Gisborne District councillor Manu Caddie says he is frustrated with the way Housing New Zealand is neglecting properties and treating tenants in his neighbourhood.

“I have counted a dozen empty homes in our area while Housing NZ say they have a waiting list. The corporation have made it clear they want to sell homes in our area and they are retreating into very narrow criteria for eligibility.”

“It is a vicious cycle of landlord neglect reducing the appeal of the area which leads to less tenants and more empty houses” said Mr Caddie who helped re-establish the Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group focused on social housing issues.

Mr Caddie has been working with the national social housing organisation Community Housing Aotearoa on a housing needs assessment project for the district.

The Minister of Housing recently scrapped a number of social housing initiatives and established a Social Housing Unit focused on shifting Housing NZ tenants to properties owned and managed by private organisations.

Mr Caddie says he is concerned about a number of tenants who have lived in the same state house for three generations and are now likely to be moved on. When Minister Heatley met with the Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group earlier in the year he explained his intention to start means testing long-term tenants with a view to getting out all but those in the most extreme need. “That might make sense in Auckland where the demand is greater but local Housing NZ staff have said we have very few families in housing crisis so the logic doesn’t stack up at a local level.”

Mr Caddie believes recent examples of homeless local families that made it into the media are just a fraction of similar cases that go unreported. “Our country has a looming housing crisis and we are not prepared for it. The statistics are very scary and the government response quite inadequate. We need 70,000 new homes not 1,400 – and the social housing sector will not be able to generate the income the government expects it to by passing over responsibility to private organisations.”

Mr Caddie knows of one situation where a disabled tenant asked for a ramp to be installed at their Housing NZ property of over 30 years only to be told that it was not an option and they would need to look at shifting to a different property. “So for $500 or whatever a wooden ramp costs, the Corporation will disconnect that family from all the memories and sense of belonging associated with that home?!” asked Mr Caddie.

“The corporation is obviously trying to move tenants out of properties in Gisborne so they can be sold and the proceeds used to build part of a new house in Auckland. If they supported their tenants into home ownership or gave priority to first home buyers we could live with that – but selling them to property speculators and absentee landlords does nothing for building a healthy neighbourhood with residents who have enough invested to stick around” said Mr Caddie. “We’re also looking at options for locals to own any properties disposed of by Housing NZ.”

Mr Caddie is asking around the neighbourhood to find out who was involved in the theft.

Fracking bans go global…

In June this year France became the first country to ban the controversial oil and gas mining practice of hydraulic fracking. Under the new law, companies with exploration permits had two months to declare whether they intended to use hydraulic fracturing – if they did, their permits were to be revoked.

The government of South Africa has extended a ban on fracking for another six months while the Minister of Mineral Resources waits on a report from the heads of government departments responsible for trade, science and minerals to be rewritten.

In Australia the New South Wales Governement recently extended  a ban on fracking to the end of the year. A further ban on toxic chemicals will be in place when the moratorium is lifted.

Across North America local municipalities have been taking action to ban fracking. In the state of Pennsylvania alone more than 100 townships have passed ordinances to restrict or ban mining, particularly fracking activities, within their jurisdiction. Thus far municipality-adopted fracking bans are in places such as Buffalo, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Morgantown and Westover, West Virginia.

In June the New York State Assembly extended an existing ban on fracking for another year. The New Jersey State legislature passed a bill to permanently ban fracking earlier this year but the Governor vetoed that decision and restricted the ban to one more year.

In the case of Morgantown, the ban stonewalled Northeast Natural Energy, LLC’s fracking operations just outside city limits. In June, Northeast sued the municipality, seeking tens of millions of dollars for the unlawful taking of its property rights without just compensation and last month a judge upheld the company’s claims and reversed the local council decision. The court decision is expected to be appealed.

Should Gisborne District Council or any other local authority decide, after widespread consultation with its residents, to change our District Plan rules and put a hold or ban on fracking within our district, can we expect similar litigation from foreign corporations keen to exploit our natural resources for their profit?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is studying the impact of fracking and last Tuesday submitted a draft of its study to the agency’s Science Advisory Board for review. Initial findings from the study are expected to be made public by the end of 2012. No such study has been commissioned in New Zealand yet and a growing number of people I have been speaking believe we should access to a similar report before allowing any fracking-related activity in the Gisborne District.

Call for rethink after 15 Petrobras workers killed in three incidents

After the deaths of 15 Petrobras workers in three separate incidents in the last two weeks, the safety record of the company must be rewritten and those claiming this is a model company need to reconsider their position.

On Saturday a Petrobras minibus crashed in Parana state killing ten workers and hospitalising 11 more. A day earlier a Petrobras helicopter carrying workers from the P-65 oil rig crashed in the Atlantic 100km offshore and killed the four people on board.

Petrobras platforms were shutdown in January and February by government labour inspectors following a fire on one rig and concerns over safety measures on another. Union leaders said in a statement that the unit closed in February lacked emergency lighting and sufficient fire control systems. Last year the P-33 platform was shutdown by officials following a massive gas leak and the P-35 platform closed down after a fire on board.

The idea that Petrobras has had a clean safety record for ten years is a complete myth. Unions in Brazil have continually complained about unsafe working conditions and a lethal explosion at a Petrobras refinery two weeks ago is just one more black mark against the company this year.

Government officials in Argentina ordered Petrobras to close down an oil refinery after an explosion at the plant killed a 44 year old worker and left another 47 year old in hospital with severe burns to 15% of his body.

The refinery, located in the southern port city of Bahía Blanca, has a capacity of 31,000 barrels per day. The blast happened in a resting area when workers turned on the lights after finishing their shift.

The death of the Petrobras refinery employee and disfigurement of his colleague two weeks ago follow a similar explosion at another Petrobras refinery in Argentina three years ago, a major incident in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year as the company prepared to start the first new extraction since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the assassination two years ago of a fisherman and ongoing intimidation of his colleagues who have been protesting against a Petrobras pipeline in Guanabara Bay, Brazil.

The statement issued by Petrobras assuring investors that refining operations had not been affected by the explosion was another example of how little regard the company has for people over profit. Petrobras’ own Chief Financial Officer admitted this week that oil platform shutdowns were up this year, which suggests there are more than those that make the news, but as expected he didn’t offer details.

This company is not a model corporate citizen and the Minister of Energy and Resources should not be allowing Petrobras to operate in New Zealand waters.

Petrobras supporters here will probably claim such incidents are less likely in New Zealand, that it is a huge multinational corporation with thousands of staff and contractors or perhaps “occupational hazards” are impossible to prevent entirely. These positions miss the point. Worker deaths are not some kind of collateral damage,  unavoidable costs of economic development in the increasingly risky search for fossil fuels. Workers are members of families and communities, who should be able to work in environments that are safe. And this issue is not about regulations, it is about a whole corporate culture beyond the PR spin in an industry continually pushing the limits of technology and human labour in the pursuit of a fatter bottom line and increased returns for shareholders.

If those who welcome Petrobras with open arms were not so bedazzled by promises of financial windfalls from deep sea fossil fuel extraction, they might look beyond the information the industry provides for evidence of the dismal safety and environmental record of this company.

Rites of passage research identifies keys for healthy, prosperous communities

What life lessons did previous generations of young people need to learn before they became adults? Could these rites of passage provide some answers to the multiple challenges facing young Maori today? These two questions were the foundation for a three year national project led by Gisborne researcher Manu Caddie and a team of youth workers from around the country.

Youth workers from Christchurch, Wellington, Whanganui, Whangarei and Tairawhiti interviewed Maori elders in their community with a focus on their experiences as children and adolescents. The interviews were filmed and key messages from the stories compiled into a written summary.

On Sunday night, 6pm at the Dome Cinema in Gisborne, the findings from the project will be released at a public screening of “Hei Tikitiki” a new DVD featuring highlights from more than 30 interviews. A 90 page report summarising the research findings will be available along with copies of the DVD.

The project received financial support from the Lottery Community Sector Research Fund and was based on a proposal Mr Caddie prepared for Te Ora Hou Aotearoa in 2008. Te Ora Hou is a national network of faith-based Maori youth and community development organisations established in 1976. “Te Ora Hou youth workers have contact with hundreds of young people and families every week, we decided this research was essential to do if we wanted to assist with healthy transitions into adulthood” said Mr Caddie. “The 21st yard glass, passing exams and making babies are modern day rites of passage but there are some fundamental life lessons that aren’t being taught to young people, in fact advertising, entertainment media and consumer culture promote the exact opposite of values previous generations were required to accept before being considered responsible adults.”

“It’s been a fairly drawn out process, some of the people interviewed have since passed away, so the footage we have of their stories is very significant to their families” said Mr Caddie. “It was a really special inter-generational experience for the young people and youth workers to interview their elders. I would like to see an on-going project established in Gisborne where we support young people to record the stories and reflections of our elderly. The way society is structured now we tend to segregate the age groups and the wisdom of older people is lost if they do not have the opportunity to share it with the younger generations coming through.”

Anthropology has for at least the last 200 years looked at the purpose of rites of passage within cultures. “A rite of passage deals with entering a new stage of life, maturation in physical, social and sexual status and membership of a new group” said Mr Caddie. The researchers  important theme running through much of the literature is that rites of passage do not exist for the benefit of the individual participating in the process but for the benefit of the community and culture to which the person belongs.”

Most of the interviewees had grown up in communities and a time where Te Reo was the dominant language and tikanga Māori was still the dominant culture. A few had direct experience of traditional institutions like the whare wananga or were mentored by tohunga and kuia born in the 19th Century who ensured certain processes and rituals were in place for the child and adolescents.

Many of the interviewees felt that their experience of rites of passage was more a general process of development rather than an explicit event or an intentional set of lessons that the teachers and learners were consciously participating in.

Interviewees identified a range of experiences more closely assigned with western or contemporary rites of passage including leaving home, first job and working to support parents and siblings, getting a mortgage, general educational advancement including Māori trade training schemes, personal rites of passage, legal marriage, being given or taking responsibility for housework and farm work, choosing own clothing, fashion as a symbol of independence and enlisting in the military.

Common themes that emerged about the purpose and outcomes from experiences that they considered rites of passage include the intergenerational transmission of:

–        Maramatanga / essential values: manaakitanga (hospitality), respect for and valuing the guidance of elders, strong work ethic, personal integrity, contribution to the wellbeing of the whole community, respect and care for the natural environment and other creatures, etc.

–        Mātauranga / essential knowledge: whakapapa (genealogy and how different whānau, hapū and iwi are connected), wahi tapu (sacred places), wahi kai (food sources), battle-sites, astrology, astronomy and patterns of natural phenomenon that guide certain activities, roles and responsibilities of particular whānau within the hapū, cross-cultural comparisons, etc.

–        Mahitanga / essential skills: cultivating food, hunting and collecting food, preparing and storing food, communication skills (whaikōrero/karanga/kōrero/karakia) and hosting skills, house building, martial arts, creative arts and crafts, caring for the natural environment, etc.

Less intentional lessons were also learnt through some experiences such as the importance of alcohol in whānau life, the gendered nature of work, the cyclical nature of violence, etc.

All of the interviewees were able to provide examples of what they considered rites of passage. These were all personal experiences from their childhood and adolescence, in some cases pre-birth and for a few there were experiences they had in late adulthood – a few spoke of practices common in their community that they were aware of in their lifetime or their parents life.

Only a few interviewees were able to share stories of how they participated in particular rituals, institutions or events that would adhere to the famous three stage (separation, transition, and reincorporation) rites of passage. However nearly all of the experiences shared were consistent with the idea of rites of passages being markers of transition from one state of being to another, of being directed by and for the benefit of the wider community and of being essential for the intergenerational transmission of cultural values and community knowledge.

The interviewees stories validate the claim of other recent research that the rite of passage process not only guides the individual’s transition to a new status, but, equally important, it creates public events that celebrate the transition and reaffirm community values, which inform and guide expectations for behaviours essential for the group’s survival.

Mr Caddie said he hopes the project will provide a useful resource for anyone interested in positive youth development, social progress and how we pass on values and knowledge between generations. While the project focused on Maori experiences, Mr Caddie believes the principles and lessons learnt can be applied across any cultural group.

“While government advisors and think-tanks like the New Zealand Institute have identified the real social and economic crisis New Zealand young people find themselves in, we think there are some solutions emerging from the stories of our old people and we need to think about how those experiences might be translated into a contemporary context. There are implications from this research for employment, enterprise, mental health, parenting, education and crime prevention. That’s the next piece of work to be done as we consider the learnings from this report for a broad range of social, cultural and economic issues.”

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Full research report available online from 1 August 2011 at: www.teorahou.org.nz

The Place Where Talent Chooses to Reside

Presentations in Gisborne this week from two very successful New Zealanders provided clear challenges for us all to support a new direction for our district.

Sir Paul Callaghan undermined conventional thinking that has suggested primary commodities, tourism, wine or even farming can be the economic saviours of the district and nation.

Professor Callaghan made two critical points that as a district we must come to terms with.

The first was to expose the complete myth that we are an egalitarian society. Income disparities have been growing exponentially and we are one of the least equal countries in the OECD. That is a problem not only for the poor but for everyone because countries with greater inequality have worse health, education and crime problems and lower productivity than more equal countries.

The second crucial fact we must acknowledge is that the country has reached the limits of exploiting our natural environment. Resource management decisions have built the wealth of the country but also polluted most low-lying waterways, native species are disappearing forever and we can’t intensify farming to earn our way to a prosperous future.

Professor Callaghan is committed to raising productivity to a level that means the country can afford world leading health care, education and environmental protections. But his message was very clear on this – we have to preserve our natural environment and biodiversity both for its own sake and if we want to attract and retain talent. As he said recently “Talent will goes where talent chooses. And, by and large, talent likes to live where lifestyle is best. The reason is simple. These sorts of businesses can be anywhere. Their markets are entirely overseas, their major component is knowledge and their cost of transport to customers is negligible.”

We heard how Ian Taylor had ideas and opportunities that could have taken him to live in lots of great places around the world, but he wanted to live in Dunedin and raise a family there. The entrepreneurs, scientists and cultural creatives that innovate and develop world-leading products now choose places that are about the lifestyle they want not the physical proximity to markets or research facilities.

There are some basics of course: clean water, reliable electricity, broadband and transport options, decent schools, participatory democracy and a vibrant cultural life all seem pretty important. In our situation some more investment in Information Communication Technology infrastructure, start-up support and greater clarity on regional development goals wouldn’t go amiss. Overall Gisborne is well positioned and already attracting talented people who choose to live in this place – close to the beach, close to marae, without traffic jams, urban sprawl and fear of neighbours.

As Professor Callaghan says, smart firms will locate where their smartest employees want to live. They may not choose large cities. There are small town examples already and there is no reason why Gisborne, Tolaga Bay or Mautuke shouldn’t be locations for high value export manufacturers. Broadband and FedEx can deliver their products to customers anywhere in the world, as fast as from Auckland, Shanghai or London.

So knowledge-based talent can be based anywhere, we can be the place of choice if we are committed to reducing income inequality (not just raising incomes), truly protecting the environment (instead of the popular ‘balancing act’ rhetoric) and continuing with the basics (quality infrastructure and public services) we already have.

Conservation Quorum profile

New city ward councillor Manu Caddie grew up on a farm on the edge of Tauranga where his parents bred mohair goats, raised bobby calves and had market gardens that mostly grew courgettes, capsicums and gherkins.

“My dad wasn’t a huge conservationist – he would “accidently” step on pukeko nests and battling the rushes and draining our swampy flats was a constant battle we all participated in.”

After leaving school Manu studied and then taught design at Victoria University in Wellington. He met his wife Natasha Koia in 1995 and they moved to Gisborne in 1998 to care for her grandparents.

Since living in Gisborne Manu has been active in community organising with a focus on the Kaiti area and the family are also involved with Tarsh’s marae at Makarika just south of Ruatoria.

“We’re just going through the process of sorting out how to build up there and we have meetings every month to develop the marae and surrounding area.”

The marae recently established a maara kai (community garden) with fruit and nut trees as well as seasonal vegetables. They have a WWF funded project focused on the health of the local stream and have been working with Makarika School to monitor the impact of the construction work to replace the old bridge across Makatote Stream.

The range of environmental issues Gisborne District Council deals with has been something of a revelation for Manu.

“I have a background in activism and I bring those advocacy skills to the role of councilor. I choose the important stuff to take a stand on and recognize that there is a lot at stake on many decisions Council makes. Most of us have quite unsustainable lifestyles – our district has a few people who still live in ways that have minimal impact on this finite planet but the rest of us do not.”

Manu believes conservation issues are really justice issues.

“The natural environment doesn’t get a vote and as a result we’ve seen generations of legislation, policies and practices that have led to the complete extinction of many species. Humans are slow learners with short memories and our priorities in New Zealand seem all around the wrong way.

Consumer capitalism requires continual growth in a finite system, that is unsustainable. We think because we happen to be born here or have the privilege to move to this country we can consume at a rate that will require another couple of planets if other countries decide to live like us.

In the Gisborne District we have an opportunity to transition to a sustainable economy, but at present there is very little discussion about what that would require, let alone much motivation to move in that direction. Energy issues, land use, transport, mineral extraction, waste creation and biodiversity protection are all critical to the survival of our species and many others, and our daily decisions at the personal, household and community level are determining what kind of future we offer our kids and the world they inherit – I’m not very optimistic but I have enough faith in our community to believe a better direction is achievable in my lifetime.”

Manu is a member of the Environment & Policy Committee, the Hearings (Resource Management Act) Committee, Community (& Economic) Development Committee, Regional Transport Committee as well as Civil Defence. He recently completed studies toward the qualification to become a Commissioner on RMA hearings and is eagerly awaiting results from the final assessment!

Are we ready to step up to the challenge?

It was encouraging to see the level of interest last week in the report ‘Improving the Transition’ produced by the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor Peter Gluckman last week.

The report challenged successive governments ad hoc approach to addressing serious issues for young people in our country. It was particularly critical about the lack of evidential base for government funded services, a lack of evaluation and monitoring and the failure to invest in the early years. Professor Gluckman also pointed out that solutions to serious problems are going to take many electoral cycles.

In 2001 the Ministry of Justice published a report that suggested early intervention was most effective but also least accurate in identifying where resources should be targeted. The report concluded that spending smaller amounts on more young parents and their children was ultimately a better investment than trying to address the expensive options available to reduce youth offending or locking up adults.

The last Labour-led governments put serious money to initiatives like Family Start focused on the families of pre-school children, support services for teenage parents and social workers in primary schools. The effectiveness of these initiatives seems to be mixed and the evaluations were rarely made public.

The current government has committed around $100million for new services for young offenders plus tens of millions more toward Whanau Ora and the Community Response Fund. The funding for youth offending was based on pre-election promises of boot camps that contradicted all the international and New Zealand literature suggesting those approaches either don’t have any significant effect or actually increase offending. Whanau Ora and the Community Response Fund are based on noble sentiments around devolving decision-making to the community level, though both are still too amorphous to determine at this stage whether they will contribute to the transformational changes necessary in our communities.

Massive cuts to youth health services, early childhood education and support services along with recently announced funding cuts and restructuring of family violence prevention services were not prefaced by any report on their effectiveness, rather election year political priorities seem to outweigh any evidential imperatives.

With the government using their level of borrowing to justify their inability to undertake any substantial new investments (other than more than ten billion on new Roads of National Significance), they should have a clearer commitment to evidence-based and cost-effective service provision.

I look forward to seeing the recommendations that the Office of the Prime Minister comes up with from Professor Gluckman’s report (which had 11 recommendations of its own). Hopefully the proposals are followed by an action plan to address not just woefully underfunded youth mental health services but the more systemic issues relating to the politicization of public policy development, local priority-setting and accountability and the overall quality of relationships between the range of stakeholders in social development.

The Gisborne Herald Editorial last week asked whether our country is prepared to step up to the challenges identified by Professor Gluckman. My response would be that I doubt the report will be enough to make much difference to the lack of courage we have seen to date. The most significant opportunity for alcohol law reform in a generation seems to have passed us by as the government adopted none of the most effective options promoted by the Law Commission and similarly the key proposals in a Law Commission report last month on the Review of Misuse of Drugs Act seemed to have no support from any of the political parties.

At a local level I’m encouraged by the increasing community commitment to positive child and youth development and in this we can hopefully lead the country.

Time to Stop the Testing

One of 500 dead penguins that washed up within a few days on a beach near Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2010. Oil exploration is common in the coastal areas around Sao Paulo.

MEDIA RELEASE

25/04/2011

A Gisborne District Councillor is demanding a moratorium on seismic testing following revelations that scores of dead penguins are washing up on East Cape beaches and new international research suggests seismic testing is responsible for killing a range of sea creatures.

Manu Caddie said residents at Waihau Bay near East Cape found a dozen dead penguins yesterday within a 200 metre stretch of coastline and they would have found more if they kept walking. More carcasses were found around the coastline as far as East Cape by locals who say they have never seen so many dead birds washed ashore. “While the government may blame La Nina weather conditions for starving the penguins or suggest a storm killed them, locals haven’t noticed any major storm recently.”

“Evidence is piling up on the impact of the seismic tests both here and abroad” said Mr Caddie, who as a member of the Environment & Policy Committee of Gisborne District Council argued that seismic testing should not be considered a permitted activity in the Gisborne District given the potential harm it can cause to sea life.

“While the District Council is only responsible for the marine coastal environment out to the 12 nautical mile limit, we have a responsibility to protect that environment from the effects of activities that may occur beyond 12 miles. We also have a responsibility as stewards of the region and community leaders to advocate when central government has made a mistake.”

Mr Caddie cited recently published research from researchers at the Technical University of Catalonia in Barcelona that found the deaths of giant squid, washed up on Spanish beaches in 2001 and 2003, were caused by nearby oil and gas seismic surveys.

Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO) of New Zealand said Spanish research into mass deaths of squid, cuttlefish and octopus showed organ damage in these creatures after just two hours exposure to low frequency noise from 50-400 hertz, or “acoustic smog”, due to oil and gas exploration and shipping.

“The scientists found that the organ that allows squid, octopus and cuttlefish to regulate their positions to balance and direct how and where they swim was damaged leaving the animals unable to move or to feed and vulnerable to predators,” ECO co-chair Barry Weeber said.

Mr Caddie said the activity of the Orient Explorer survey ship is putting all sea life is at risk with sonic booms from sonar gun arrays of up to 259dB firing into the sea floor. “Even the United States has stricter regulations on this activity than the New Zealand government. There is a federal register where the public have an opportunity to assess the proposed seismic testing activity. The applicant has to detail every piece of equipment to be used, with comprehensive information on the acoustic source specifications, the level of activity being undertaken and the estimated impacts on the marine environment.

Mr Caddie said the level of government hypocrisy was reaching new heights given the pressure New Zealand put on Russia last year to stop oil and gas companies using seismic testing in whale migration and breeding areas. “DOC guidelines specifically identify from now until October as the time of year most likely to have negative impacts on whales as they migrate.

Studies published last year by researchers from Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the University of Zurich suggest seismic testing has a significant impact on whales, which rely on acoustic signalling for communication, orientation, locating prey and predators:

The sounds from marine exploration surveys are one of several anthropogenic noise sources that have been identified as eliciting behavioural reactions in marine mammals. Seismic surveys rely on systems that produce impulsive, high intensity sounds (190–250 dB re 1 µPa, peak to peak), with most energy below 200 Hz. The peak frequencies of these sounds overlap the acoustic signals and estimated hearing ranges of baleen whales. Such acoustic interference could reduce a whale’s ability to detect biologically relevant signals. With the increase in oil and gas prospecting surveys into deeper waters, there is sparse knowledge on the acoustic responses of baleen whales to sounds from seismic exploration.

Our results clearly show that blue whales change their calling behaviour in response to a low-medium power technology that is presumed to have minor environmental impact. Reducing an individual’s ability to detect socially relevant signals could therefore affect biologically important processes. This study suggests careful reconsideration of the potential behavioural impacts of even low source level seismic survey sounds on large whales.”

Reality check…

Whangaparāoa SH35

 

Opinion Piece: 7 April 2011

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The Gisborne Herald Editorial on 4 April needs a reality check.

Petrobras is not a good operator, they have been responsible and roundly criticised for numerous environmental disasters and human deaths in Brazil and further afield. They are a world leader in deep water drilling, which is increasingly desperate and dangerous given the scarcity of easy oil.

Just two weeks ago Petrobras was involved in a major incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Eight days after US regulators allowed Petrobras to start deep sea extraction one of the 8000-foot long production risers fell to the sea floor after the chain connecting it to its 130 ton buoyancy can failed. There are no reports of any hydrocarbon release at this stage, however Petrobras has not yet commented on the incident. So Petrobras have had a major incident before they even start the job!

Natural gas is not a ‘clean-burning fuel’, according to the US Energy Information Administration, worldwide the burning of natural gas (which is mostly methane) produces nearly 5 billion tons of CO2 each year, which is just behind oil and coal emissions.

The Petrobras permit is not just for gas, it includes oil as well. Hekia Parata’s spin is that it is now a ‘research’ permit – that ‘research’ requires the company to drill an exploratory well unless they run away from Cape Runaway at one of the two permit surrender milestones.

Petrobras has confirmed it will be based out of the Port of Tauranga, and talking to Coasties who have worked on rigs overseas and don’t want one here, I can’t see how it will create a single job for the Gisborne district.

Major gas finds are not going to lead to cheaper electricity in New Zealand. Any petroleum extracted would no longer be New Zealand owned, the government has very clearly said it would be taken by the multinationals to sell on the international market (or possibly taken back to Brazil in the case of Petrobras).

There are no effective ‘environmental protections’ for deep sea petroleum extraction, the new practice is experimental at best and the only way to guarantee a disaster does not happen is to not let them drill. As we have seen in the Gulf last week, where the review and strengthening of regulations has been second to none, deep sea drilling is simply too unpredictable. The Raukumara Basin has an average of three tremors per day and regularly has earthquakes over 5 on the Rhicter scale, it is twice as deep as the Deepwater Horizon well that blew out last year and Taranaki wells are in only 100-150m of water so they are no way comparable.

I’m not sure what the Editor bases his claim on that ‘a majority of New Zealanders hope Petrobras strike a major gas field of East Cape’. In a poll of over 12,000 people this week only 12% said they thought fossil fuels should be a government priority for our energy future.

New Zealand certainly has become a frontier for new exploration, and a frontier in the struggle of communities that rely on their local environment for survival against corporations who rely on exploiting anything they can for their survival. The wellbeing of our district should not be put on the auction block in the interests of foreign corporations.

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GH Editorial reply 7/4/11: http://gisborneherald.co.nz/opinion/editorial/?id=22178

 

 

Increasing Equality

The Spirit Level has some exciting implications for the Gisborne District. No surprises that in our community wealth and health inequalities are more pronounced than most other places around New Zealand. Also not surprisingly, inequalities here are largely, though not exclusively, aligned with ethnicity (Europeans/Pākeha control nearly 93% of the national net worth but only comprise 83% of the population, while Māori make up over 10% but only own 4% of the wealth) and age (young people have much higher ratio of debt to assets than older people), and to a lesser extent gender.

While the factors contributing to this situation are largely historical and circumstantial, there are things that can be done today to create a more equal community if that was something we aspired to. The Spirit Level certainly provides strong evidence as to why reducing inequalities is an important goal but there is a fundamental change in values that needs to take place if equality is something we make a community goal for Gisborne.

Massey University published research last year that showed over the past 30 years New Zealanders have drifted away from our egalitarian roots and now more people than ever do not believe equality should be a goal for our society. Commentators have linked this shift with the rise of radical political ideology of free market economics that has dominated New Zealand government policy since the mid-1980s. So now we have a more unequal society where 10% of the population own more than half of the wealth, more half the population own less than 7% of wealth and a steady trend is that a decreasing proportion of people own their home. But more importantly, less people than ever think we should be aiming for a reduction in the disparities between the haves and the have nots. As Midnight Oil sang ‘the rich are getting richer, the poor get the picture’. Another trend down is that less and less of the value produced by the country is held by New Zealanders, and a increasing proportion of the population have a decreasing net value. The Treasury technocrats who have pushed what Professor Jane Kelsey dubbed ‘The New Zealand Experiment’ have been very successful in terms of shifting our thinking as a country.

While this ideology has been espoused by some outspoken local civic and business leaders for a generation, it is pleasing to see some of have moved on and a new, hopefully more enlightened set of leaders is emerging.

Tim Jackson’s book “Prosperity Without Growth” and Michael Shuman’s “Going Local” have been influencing my thinking on economic policy and his recommendations for local and national economies are closely aligned with the thesis of The Spirit Level authors.

I am very interested in looking at how Council policies on rating for example has been used over the past ten years in a way that may have the effect of shifting more of the rates burden onto those who can least afford it. I think we should also be looking carefully at how public policies can make it easier or harder for big box retailers owned by foreigners to setup here and effectively shut down our mainstreet’s family-owned businesses.

I think a fair and active democracy requires that we try to give everyone an opportunity to make positive contributions to the community, fairness doesn’t mean we have to treat everyone the same. If people live in different circumstances then treating them differently is justified. The level of opposition to the Voter Participation Project focused on neighbourhoods that have poor election turnout was a great case in point. Either opposers have a very base understanding of what it means to be fair or they were motivated by some irrational fear or bias against trying to encourage poor people to vote in an informed manner.

While The Spirit Level has had it’s detractors and critics (largely politically motivated some claim), the authors have responded resoundingly to questions raised and a global movement is developing aimed at raising public and political awareness about the benefits of reducing the gap between the wealthy and poorest citizens within a country and community. The Equality Trust established by the authors of The Spirit Level has a guide for local groups and I would be keen to hear from anyone interested in forming a Gisborne group to look more closely at the current situation on things like wage ratios in local businesses and implications for Council policy positions that do or not include increasing equality as a goal.

Wilkinson and Pickett, The Spirit Level authors, have clearly demonstrated through peer-reviewed empirical evidence that the more equal a society is, the happier, healthier and less stressed, better educated and less likely to be a victim of crime everyone is. I’m as keen as anyone else to get beyond the ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality that has grown with the increasing gap between rich and poor, can we find others who want to explore these opportunities?

Neighbours Day Everyday…

I met a wonderful couple this week, grandparents with huge hearts for their family and for other local families. Born into poor circumstances themselves, this couple know what it is like to really struggle. They have tragedies in their own extended family to deal with but wanted to know how they could help Kaiti kids reach their potential.

These grandparents want to connect with other people their age and younger ones to talk about how their generation can make more useful contributions to young families in Gisborne.

We talked a bit about Tairāwhiti Positive Aging Trust and other groups that support seniors to be active in wider community life. Healthy churches, marae and sports clubs are still great places for intergenerational relationships to be nurtured and life lessons passed on to younger people.

Neighbours Day this weekend is an opportunity for us to think about the people we live close to but may not feel close to. When we reestablish trust and care within our streets it has been proven to reduce crime, increase safety, school attendance, health and happiness. Every one of us should know that when we have reason to worry, celebrate or grieve, someone will notice and someone will care. Many people in our communities don’t have that support and it is so encouraging to hear when residents are willing to make an effort to be that special someone for a neighbour or family in need.

I also met with a young man this week who is concerned about neighbourhood safety and, with signatures of support from everyone in his street, has been trying to get Council to install speed inhibitors to prevent another crash that could injure or kill a child. Whether or not he succeeds with his campaign for the speed bumps or chicanes (I certainly hope he does), it is awesome to see young people taking responsibility for making their neighbourhood a safe and enjoyable place for those who live there and visit the area.

It has been heartening to see the people willing to make the effort to present their ideas and concerns to Council committees and public meetings over the last few weeks.

Submissions on the Draft Annual Plan are due by 31 March. Whether or not the local stuff you care about is mentioned in the Plan, it is an essential part of the democratic process and you can make a submission about anything you are passionate about.

In the future I’m keen to look at extending the influence residents and (direct and indirect) ratepayers have on the Council budget. Participatory budgeting is a small but energetic movement through which ordinary people directly decide how a portion of their municipal budget is spent. Pioneered in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1990 as a democratisation strategy, the process has spread to over 1,200 cities around the world. From Cologne in Germany to Entebbe in Uganda, the concept is giving more people more control over how their tax dollars are spent locally. An interesting discovery through the models developed to date is that as residents spend time deliberating on the budget with their neighbours they start making decisions based on the collective good rather than individual interests.

Perhaps on Neighbours Day this weekend you could have a conversation about what would be the collective good for your street and the district as a whole? Oh, and please let us know what you decide.

GISCOSS Candidates Survey

Here are the results of the Gisborne East Coast Council of Social Services – Questions for DHB & GDC Candidates…


1. Do you think Gisborne District Council should continue to facilitate the process for desired community-wide social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes even if it was not a requirement in legislation?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Yes – Definitely. Though we may be in partnerships or collaborations for this purpose.
Clive Bibby Yes
Allan Hall Yes
Anne Pardoe Yes
Brian Wilson Yes
Manu Caddie Yes – it’s a no-brainer… GDC is the only district-wide, public institution that can coordinate these aspirations, if GDC does not do this then no other organisation is going to and we will have a much more fragmented community as a result.
Murray Palmer Yes
Owen Lloyd Yes
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg Yes – so long as it was only to facilitate and coordinate
Tina Karaitiana Yes – it seems a shame that a Council would require legislation being the Local Government Act to do so.  Communities work best when we consider all of the things that impact on people’s lives, and not just rubbish, roads and rates.  All of these areas do not stand alone, they are all inter-related and are each in their own right critically important to our identity and our ability to create a community that is progressive.  In a nutshell, we will never meet the needs and do our job as councillors’ justice if we don’t know what outcomes the community want us to achieve.
Don Blakeney No comment
Larry Foster Yes
Nona Aston Yes Definately

2. Which Community Organisations have you had active involvement with in the past five years?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston
  • Council Committees: Community Development, Wastewater Management, Civil Defence and Environmental and Policy.
  • Volunteered on to Youth Transition Service which I chair.
  • Youth Voice
  • Heart of Gisborne
  • Arts and Culture Advisory Panel
  • Gisborne Boardriders Club (Executive member)
  • Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti (Trustee)
  • Wainui Community Group
  • I attend virtually all the community consultation meetings in the city ward
  • Affordable housing is an area of interest
  • Also in the past have been a Board of Trustee member for Awapuni School and Lytton High School
Clive Bibby
  • Tolaga Bay save the Wharf Trust
  • Dr Paratene Ngata Coastguard Rescue Boat – Tolaga Bay
  • Tolaga Bay Foreshore Development Trust
Allan Hall
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Holy Trinity Church
  • Rotary

Anne Pardoe

  • Chamber of Commerce (past president)
  • Rotarian Gisborne West Rotary
  • QUEST Charitable Trust (Foundation Trustee)
  • SPCA
Brian Wilson
  • YMCA
  • Tairawhiti Youth Voice
  • CPHAC/DSAC health board committee
  • Healthy Homes Retrofit steering committee
Manu Caddie
  • Waikirikiri School, Board of Trustees (Chairperson)
  • Gisborne Cycling Advisory Group (Chairperson)
  • Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group (Convenor)
  • · Presbyterian Support East Coast (Board Member)
  • Whanau Ora (Tairawhiti Regional Advisory Group Member)
  • Te Ora Hou Te Tairawhiti Trust (Trustee)
  • Gisborne Council of Social Services (Executive Member)
  • Tairawhiti Men Against Violence (Foundation Member)
  • Gisborne Chamber of Commerce (Executive Member)
  • · Rongo-i-te-Kai Marae (Treasurer)
  • · Te Puna Reo o Puhi Kaiti (Whanau Committee Member)
  • · Te Toka o Te Kokonga Te Kohanga Reo (Whanau Committee Member)
  • · Council for International Development (National Board Member)
  • Tairawhiti Youth Workers Collective (Chairperson)
  • National Youth Workers Network Aotearoa (National Working Party Member
Murray Palmer
  • Te Iwi o Rakaipaaka Inc.
  • Te Rakato Marae
  • Tairawhiti Environment Centre
  • Whakaki Lake Trust
  • Te Penu Marae
  • Transition Tairawhiti
Owen Lloyd
  • Truancy
  • BOT Lytton and Whatatutu
  • GISCOSS
  • NZCOSS
  • Social Services ITO
  • YOTS
  • Te Kupenga net Trust
  • Tairawhiti District Police Advisory Group
  • Trustee of Mangatu marae Arts in Public Places.
Rehette Stoltz
  • Whataupoko Playcentre
  • Montessori Pre-School
  • Sunshine Service
  • Central Baptist Church
Steve Scragg
  • East Coast Hawke’s bay Conservation Board
  • New Zealand Fish and Game Council
Tina Karaitiana
  • Tairawhiti Men Against Violence
  • Women’s Institute
  • Maori Women’s Welfare League
  • Women’s Refuge
  • Te Whare Whaia Matauranga
  • Eastland Helicopter Trust
  • Super Grans
  • Gisborne Budgeting Services
Don Blakeney
  • Ngati Porou
  • Uawa FM
  • Whanau Whanui Kohanga Reo
  • Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu (correspondence)
  • NZ Film Commission
  • Tolaga Bay Area School
  • Gisborne Netball Association
  • Uawa FM Netball Club
  • Tokomaru Bay Netball Club
  • Uawa Rugby Club
  • Uawa Boardriders Club
  • 48Hour Film Festival
  • Dancing with the Pa’s
  • Anaura Bay Youth
  • Anaura Association Charitable Trust (Chairperson)
  • Public Health Nutrition Ltd
  • Sport Eastland
  • Cre8tive Tairawhiti
  • Tolaga Bay Area School Netball Club
Larry Foster
  • Heart of Gisborne
  • Gisborne Port Company
Nona Aston
  • Te Whanau Aroha Positive Aging
  • Te Kupenga
  • Cancer Society
  • GISCOSS
  • Problem Gambling
  • Kaumatua Group Road Action Committee
  • Safe Tairawhiti Housing Action Group
  • E Tu Elgin
  • Aikinson and Taruheru Crescent
  • Mangapapa Residents
  • Rotary Gisborne
  • Sister Cities keep Gisborne Beautiful
  • City Safe Youth Council YTS Chair
  • Health Camp School now
  • Age Concern

3. Do you support the idea of a bylaw requiring a Warrant of Fitness (to ensure basic health and safety requirements are met) before any property is rented in the District?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Yes – I am often horrified by the standard of many rental properties. Renting property is a partnership with responsibilities sides and often a higher standard by the landlord will be met with a higher standard of upkeep by the tenant. Unfortunately many landlords do not seriously assess and meet their responsibility and are coming up well short. It is a shame that a bylaw would be a requirement but a sad reality that sometimes the right thing needs to be enforced.
Clive Bibby Yes
Allan Hall No
Anne Pardoe Yes – This is a residential tenancies act
Brian Wilson Yes – In principal but would need to see the ramifications first of doing so
Manu Caddie Yes – I have been promoting the idea through the Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group
Murray Palmer Yes – but note possibilities for work in lieu of rent where house safe etc
Owen Lloyd Yes
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg No – I see this as a role of the Department of Building and Housing and the Health Department.
Tina Karaitiana Yes – on the basis that the proposal is not beaucracy gone bad and not another strategy to generate huge amounts of revenue from landlords.  My support is on the basis that healthy housing is a basic fundamental of good health and that we need to support standards that could increase the living conditions for the most vulnerable in our community.    We lead many of the worst health statistics in the country and we need to think wider about how we can work collaboratively to address this.  These are not good statistics that boost the image of our community.   Those landlords who rent out safe, clean and healthy homes will have nothing to worry about.
Don Blakeney No comment
Larry Foster No
Nona Aston Yes I would the problem would be the practical vetting of it

4. Would you support a proposal to require a permit to consume alcohol consumption in public places?

Names of Candidates Responses
Andy Cranston Yes – It is generally not necessary or desirable to consume alcohol in public places. It would be fantastic if alcohol consumption was partaken in a responsible and considerate manner, but that is very often not the case. Should an event or initiative be planned where consumption of alcohol was deemed to be appropriate then I believe the controls around meeting permit conditions would offer an appropriate enforcement tool.
Clive Bibby Yes
Allan Hall Yes
Anne Pardoe Yes
Brian Wilson Yes – again I would support some extra controls on alcohol consumption but would need to see the pros and cons of doing so
Manu Caddie Yes – especially around parks, reserves and beaches
Murray Palmer Yes – if that was the consensus of health providers etc
Owen Lloyd Yes
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg No – not with out further information on its implementation

Tina Karaitiana

No – when we think about what we are trying to address when we put restrictions on drinking in public places it is to generally address drunkenness, violence, damage to property and harm to people, even perceived feelings of being unsafe.  The people that are likely to get a permit are unlikely to be offenders in any of these categories and the offenders unlikely to get a permit, so a waste of time and paper.  There are already laws available to the police to address this type of behaviour and drinking in public places is currently under Sale of Liquor Act review so direction on this issue would be lead nationally and not at a local level.  However liquor bans can be used at a local level to
address problem areas or to protect areas that alcohol shouldn’t be publicly consumed at, ie children’s playgrounds.
Don Blakeney No Comment
Larry Foster No
Nona Aston Yes definitely again it is the practical vetting. I would rather see a by law saying which places it was allowed.

5. Do you support the proposal for Tairawhiti Youth Voice to have a non-voting seat on Gisborne District Council?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Undecided – As a member of Youth Voice committee I absolutely want to say yes but there are some very practical issues to be worked through first.  This of course would set a precedent to dozens of other organisations to have a seat and the council process could very quickly become compromised and unwieldy. This initiative is a great tool for our Youth though with regards to learning and mentoring and it is definitely worth further consideration. As a start point I would be trialling a non voting seat on the Community Development Committee.
Clive Bibby No
Allan Hall Yes
Anne Pardoe No
Brian Wilson Yes – as I am one of the ones promoting this idea
Manu Caddie Yes – this is an excellent proposal and would require some ongoing support from GDC staff and local youth workers
Murray Palmer Yes
Owen Lloyd Yes
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg Yes – but would rather see a Tairawhiti youth council, we need to grow, develop our future community leaders
Tina Karaitiana Yes – I believe that youth voice is critically important for our district. However I’m unsure whether a non-voting seat is the most effective way or only way to achieve this.  What I do know is that we have a high youth population, they are our districts future and we need to get it right.  I would need to speak with TYV to see how they think the relationship between Council and TYV could work best but I am in support of TYV and the young people who give their time to make our community a better place.   We definitely need to utilise their skills more and the fresh perspective that they can bring not just to youth issues but to community issues in general.
Don Blakeney Yes
Larry Foster Yes
Nona Aston Yes definitely

6. Overall do you think GDC is effective in involving people affected in decisions that affect them?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Yes – GDC has been putting a lot of effort into consultation and really trying to find a way. There are frequent community meetings which are strategically placed throughout the region to enable high level participation. Management have continued to work with staff to enhance their customer service levels. I believe as councillors we have huge responsibilities in this area and should be available and participate at every opportunity. Our vote is on behalf and it is absolutely appropriate that we understand the community views on all manner of issues. We must be available and participate with all affected persons to have the ability to make any decisions on their behalf.
Clive Bibby Yes
Allan Hall Yes
Anne Pardoe Yes
Brian Wilson Yes – Council has got a lot better at doing this in the last couple of years but still needs to work on clever ways to more involve the community.
Manu Caddie No – but there have been some real improvements since the new CEO has been in the job and new managers for Engineering & Works and Community Planning & Development.
Murray Palmer No – not always – but very variable
Owen Lloyd No
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg No
Tina Karaitiana No – but I appreciate that often council is stuck in a hard place, with very limited resources, limited room for negotiations and many competing priorities however we can do better and we need to acknowledge the skills, ideas and local knowledge that our communities and subsectors of the community have.  And to be honest, Council is more likely to get it right when we fully understand how these decisions that we make will affect people in our community.  It’s far easier to consult properly and make well informed decisions than to be going back to redress poorly informed decisions, not to mention the cost of doing a job more than once.
Don Blakeney No
Larry Foster Yes
Nona Aston Yes I think it is now on the right track . There is still a lot of work to be done but the staff have been really good and need support to get it better.

7. How confident are you that GDC has effectively implemented the Disability Strategy?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Confident – The strategy has been ratified and is a work in progress. I believe awareness is growing and there is a lot more appreciation of the purpose and need for such a strategy.
Clive Bibby Confident
Allan Hall Confident
Anne Pardoe Confident
Brian Wilson Confident – at least that is what feedback I am getting from this sector. However the area that has not been dealt with sufficiently so far is the access of people with mobility scooters and other disabled people crossing roads especially at intersections and round a bouts.
Manu Caddie Confident – there have been a number of practical actions taking such as installing ramps and fixing the crossings near roundabouts, kneeling buses, larger more obvious mobility parking spaces in the CBD, etc. but much more work needs to be done including a pedestrian crossing on Childers Rd near the CBD, responding to the needs of residents with disabilities in rural areas and an audit of Council facilities in relation to the needs of children and young people with disabilities
Murray Palmer Not Sure
Owen Lloyd Not Confident
Rehette Stoltz Not Sure
Steve Scragg Confident/ Not Sure
Tina Karaitiana As a new prospect I am unable to answer this question, the best people to answer it are the disabled community, their families and workers in the sector, they would see daily the differences that this strategy may have made to their lives and if I was elected, I would be sure to involve this sector of the community in all stages of the strategy, making changes as we need to along the way so that they are able to participate as fully as possible in our community
Don Blakeney Not Confident
Larry Foster Confident
Nona Aston Confident we can keep it up together

Profile & Priorities

Te Poho-o-Rawiri, Waitangi Day, 2010

I am standing for Council because I want to encourage much more public participation in discussions and decisions about the future for our communities. Diversity around the council table is important so the district leadership truly reflects the people they serve and we all move ahead together.

I moved to Gisborne with my wife Natasha Koia in 1998 to provide care for her elderly grandparents. We still live with her grandmother and now have our own family with two young children.

I have a degree in communication design, a post-graduate teaching qualification and have worked as a graphic designer, teacher, researcher and community organiser. My research and project management business was established in 2004 with local, national and international clients including the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Education and The World Bank. I currently hold governance roles with the Board of Trustees for Waikirikiri School and Presbyterian Support East Coast, and I served three years on the board of the NZ Council for International Development.

More information about my priorities, track record and a list of respected locals who endorse my election are available at: http://www.manu.org.nz

– – – – –

Question 1. Rates

Our region currently has huge infrastructure, transport and energy costs, low incomes and limited employment options. I would support Council appointment of a skilled advocate to influence central government so that any impact of national regulations are fully understood and compensated for by central government not ratepayers.

GDC needs to get much smarter at securing external resourcing for major projects. We need much more sophisticated negotiation skills to make the case for private and public investment in local infrastructure.

We should establish a ‘50,000 Taskforce’ with the goal of reaching this population by 2020. Design and implement an aggressive national and international marketing campaign to attract world class talent to relocate to the region bringing expertise and increased earnings.

– – – – –

Question 2. Infrastructure

Cycling and walking needs to be made much easier and safer than it is at present.

We need to urgently establish alternatives to more logging trucks in the city. We need the companies benefitting to pay for the constant road upgrades required.

The rail needs a rescue plan in place by April – based on a robust study of the options not rushed reports.

We need ultra-fast free broadband to every home by 2012.

We need a bylaw requiring all rental homes to pass a Warrant of Fitness to reduce the negative health, education, financial and social outcomes from substandard housing.

The community needs to think about and decide how we best support local businesses and how much big box retail we want in our town. We should take a different development path to places like Tauranga.

– – – – –

Question 3. Council involvement with economic and community development

The sobering social and economic issues in our region are not just statistics – they have faces and names as friends, family and neighbours.

Council doesn’t need to lead economic development but needs to ensure it is smart and takes into account potential impacts on social, environmental and cultural wellbeing. Similarly council doesn’t need to lead community development but needs to work with residents and other stakeholders to ensure communities lead their own development.

Local authorities should have a key role in coordinating central government funding coming into our region for social and economic development to make sure it is lined up with local priorities. I will encourage council support for residents groups at neighbourhood and village level to determine local priorities and development plans.

Question 4. Council provision of facilities and events for young people

Council doesn’t need to provide these directly, but should work with young people, community organisations and businesses to develop more opportunities for young people. This could include computer clubhouses, homework centres, all ages music venues, business incubators, community gardens, and sports and recreation facilities.

Young people are full citizens and Council should provide a non-voting seat for the Tairawhiti Youth Council around the Council table and on all committees.

– – – – –

Question 5. Biggest environmental problems

Significant challenges facing the district include farm and beach erosion, waterway sedimentation, agro-chemical pollution, minerals exploration, native habitat destruction, increased risk from extreme weather and our dependence on oil-based energy.

However one of the most important issues is the need to secure a collective commitment to adjust our lifestyles to ensure future generations are also able to enjoy the abundance we have been blessed with.

Council should lead by example – using more solar energy, providing loans paid off by rates for solar water heating, switching to hybrid vehicles, using bicycles around the CBD and planting vegetables in public gardens.

Council should facilitate more environmental education and community action and establish a regional Environmental Forum with statutory agencies, businesses and non-government organisations to identify, plan and monitor action to address priority environmental issues.

– – – – –

GISCOSS Survey

Gisborne East Coast Council of Social Services sent a questionnaire to all GDC candidates – these are my responses to their questions:

– – – – –

1. Do you think Gisborne District Council should continue to facilitate the process for desired community-wide social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes even if it was not a requirement in legislation?

(a) YES – it’s a no-brainer… GDC is the only district-wide, public institution that can coordinate these aspirations, if GDC does not do this then no other organisation is going to and we will have a much more fragmented community as a result.

– – – – –

2. Which community organisations have you had active involvement with in the past five years?

  • Waikirikiri School, Board of Trustees (Chairperson)
  • Gisborne Cycling Advisory Group (Chairperson)
  • Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group (Convenor)
  • Presbyterian Support East Coast (Board Member)
  • Whanau Ora (Tairawhiti Regional Advisory Group Member)
  • Te Ora Hou Te Tairawhiti Trust (Trustee)
  • Gisborne Council of Social Services (Executive Member)
  • Tairawhiti Men Against Violence (Foundation Member)
  • Gisborne Chamber of Commerce (Executive Member)
  • Rongo-i-te-Kai Marae (Treasurer)
  • Te Puna Reo o Puhi Kaiti (Whanau Committee Member)
  • Te Toka o Te Kokonga Te Kohanga Reo (Whanau Committee Member)
  • Council for International Development (National Board Member)
  • Tairawhiti Youth Workers Collective (Chairperson)
  • National Youth Workers Network Aotearoa (National Working Party Member)

– – – – –

3. Do you support the idea of a bylaw requiring a Warrant of Fitness (to ensure basic health and safety requirements are met) before any property is rented in the District?

(a) YES – I have been promoting the idea through the Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group

– – – – –

4. Would you support a proposal to require a permit to consume alcohol consumption in public places?

(a) YES – especially around parks, reserves and beaches

– – – – –

5. Do you support the proposal for Tairawhiti Youth Voice to have a non-voting seat on Gisborne District Council?

(a) YES – this is an excellent proposal and would require some ongoing support from GDC staff and local youth workers.

– – – – –

6. Overall do you think GDC is effective in involving people affected in decisions that affect them?

(b) NO – but there have been some real improvements since the new CEO has been in the job and new managers for Engineering & Works and Community Planning & Development.

– – – – –

7. How confident are you that GDC has effectively implemented the Disability Strategy?

(b) CONFIDENT – there have been a number of practical actions taken over the past few years such as installing ramps and fixing the crossings near roundabouts, kneeling buses, larger more obvious mobility parking spaces in the CBD, etc. but much more work needs to be done including a pedestrian crossing on Childers Rd near the CBD, responding to the needs of residents with disabilities in rural areas and an audit of Council facilities in relation to the needs of children and young people with disabilities.

– – – – –

Wainui/Okitu Issues

Wainui Beach Erosion - accelerated by subdivision stormwater?

Wainui Beach Erosion - accelerated by subdivision stormwater?

Wainui/Okitu Residents & Ratepayers Association Inc. (www.wainuibeach.org.nz) sent a set of very good questions to all city ward candidates to respond to – below are my responses.

This community has had a difficult time dealing with GDC over the years and a lot of goodwill has been lost – I hope it is starting to be rebuilt and that a new Council can make a much better effort to listen and respond in supportive ways to the wisdom and priorities of neighbourhoods, villages and communities.

– – – –

1. Wainui/Okitu has been noted for its existing special character.  What do you think of Wainui/Okitu’s unique character, and what would you do, as a Councillor, to enhance, nurture and protect this asset?

As a Councillor I would support the development and ongoing monitoring and review of medium and long term community plans for Wainui/Okitu and Makarori that would be determined through a participatory, consensus-building process by the residents of these communities with support from GDC staff and other stakeholders including DOC, NZTA, local hapu, local business owners, etc.

I have been working with Jennie Harre-Hindmarsh, as a representative of the Wainui/Okitu Residents and Ratepayers Association Inc., and GDC staff on the development of a set of Guidelines for Public Engagement processes for GDC. The current Council rejected the need for such a project but senior GDC staff and communities around the region recognise the importance of making significant improvements in the way Council works with residents and stakeholders so the project is continuing. Having a clear set of Guidelines that are developed with the input of interested residents and ratepayers can provide a valuable mechanism for citizens to hold staff accountable to as we collectively seek to enhance, nurture and protect the areas we live in.

Wainui/Okitu has a unique set of challenges including pressures on land and waterways from higher density housing and farmland converting to residential properties, coastal erosion, increased logging trucks travelling through the community, large fluctuations in property prices and rates, and a history of being treated badly by GDC and other agencies like NZTA – all issues that I would be keen to learn more about and help residents find sustainable solutions for.

– – – –

2. What are your views on development in Wainui/Okitu?  High Rises?  Infill Housing?  Section Sizes?

I would be keen to hear more about local residents and landowners views are on future development. I know the development up Lysnar Rd has been controversial and unpopular amongst many Okitu locals. As mentioned above I think there needs to be much more local control over development plans, the ability for residents to retain the special character of their community and the ability for residents to be assured the benefits of any new development outweigh the cost to their local environment, social, cultural and economic wellbeing.

I grew up in Tauranga and have witnessed the transformation of Ocean Beach at Mount Maunganui, and in fact, all around Tauranga habour and beach coastline in a very short space of time. Many public recreation and water access points are now shut off from locals. At the Mount there are horrendous high rise apartments that have turned a sleepy strip of holiday bachs into a playground for the very wealthy after they pulled down an iconic hotel and hundreds of humble holiday homes. A few individuals with significant influence in local government made a lot of money out of those changes. I doubt this is the kind of direction Wainui/Okitu residents are keen to see your community go in.

My uncle John Minogue bought a small house at 52 Douglas St in the 1970s and built another house on the property a decade or so later. I don’t think it looks too bad but I’m not sure Wainui/Okitu people would want to see any smaller sections than that example. Again, I think the important thing is that local residents reach agreement on what you can live with and that should become the plan governing development in your community until there is consensus to change it one way or another.

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3. What would you do as a Councillor to encourage the development of the cycleway from Wainui to the city?

I will continue my involvement with the Cycling Advisory Group that I was part of establishing last year and my subsequent involvement on the Gisborne Cycle and Walkway Trust that I have recently been invited to be the Council representative for (a bit premature but I accepted on the condition I am elected!). The latter group has worked hard for many years to see the Wainui cycleway established and we need to step up the campaign to make NZTA funding for this cycleway an election issue for Anne Tolley now! The change in public policy this year by the National-led coalition government was a disgrace as the funds tagged for the Wainui cycleway were diverted to “roads of national significance” in the major centres including the ‘holiday highway’ north of Auckland. The trucking lobby are significant donors to the National Party and have had a big influence on public investment in roading. We need to join with other cycling advocacy organisations around the country and groups like the Campaign For Better Transport to make cycleways much more of a priority for roading funds. More cycling in the city has to be good for everyone (other than the multinational oil companies). We need much more strategic and vocal leadership on this issue and we need it now.

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4. What do you know about the effects of subdivision water runoff to the beach.  What is your position on this?

I am aware there are significant concerns about the volume of water flowing from the new Sponge Bay development into the Wainui Stream. My understanding is that the official GDC view is that the rate of flow is no more than it was before the subdivision was installed because the size of the pipes restrict the rate. Pictures I have seen suggest there is a significant increase in volume and while the rate may be the primary determinant on erosion, if there was erosion anyway then increased volume, regardless of rate, will accelerate the erosion. Now there are concerns about the new subdivisions on the hills above Wainui/Okitu and up Lysnar Rd.

I have received copies of the Environment & Policy Sub-Committee agenda and minutes for the past few years and read some of the staff reports on efforts to “naturally protect” the stormwater runoff from the Sandy Cove development in the “Schools” carpark on Wairere Rd. I have had a look at the carpark and ponding process after recent rain – it looks to me like it is probably eliminating erosion that would otherwise have occurred, but I would be interested in how well residents feel it is working. I agree with local submitters on the proposal that developers should definitely have to contribute to the costs associated with this kind of work if it is to prevent environmental damage attributable to their business activity of property subdivision.

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5. Are you in favour of Wainui/Okitu being a ward in its own right and having its own Councillor?

Generally I am a fan of local wards. I would support taking Wainui/Okitu out of the city ward and establishing a ward that incorporates something like Makarori, Okitu, Wainui, Sponge Bay, Wheatstone Rd and the new subdivisions on the hills above Wainui/Okitu as I would support at least two wards (or Councillors) for Kaiti/Tamarau. If this did not happen I would support the establishment of a formal Community Board for Wainui/Okitu that has its own budget to manage on behalf of its community. I also support a reduction in the number of District Councillors to 8-10 in total instead of the 15 we currently have (including the Mayor).

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6. This Association was formed to collaborate with the GDC and inform the Wainui Residents and Ratepayers on issues affecting them. Would you support our Association in this role.  If so, in what way?

I helped establish Ka Pai Kaiti ten years ago, this group has similar aims and objectives for Kaiti as your Association does for Wainui/Okitu. I have been disappointed with the lack of mutually meaningful engagement between GDC and Ka Pai Kaiti, while I think we have been able to significantly influence GDC thinking and some priorities, it has been much harder than it need to have been if Councillors had a different attitude to their governance role. My political philosophy requires elected local government officials to not just ‘represent’ their constituents and to make decisions on behalf of everyone else, but to actively involve people affected by decisions in deliberation on the issues and in the decision-making process itself.

I think Gisborne has the potential to be an international leader in participatory local government and I would like to see residents associations for every geographic community that chooses to identify itself and establish a group to coordinate and communicate within the community and with external stakeholders including local authorities.

I would see GDC providing proactive and strategic support for the establishment, growth and maturing of residents collectives and associations as a priority issue for my time in office if I was elected. New technology provides many opportunities for developments such as participatory budgeting, e-democracy and community asset mapping. I would advocate for GDC to seek significant external investment from central government, philanthropic foundations and private business to accelerate our progress toward a far more participatory model of local governance, community development and resource management.

There are a wide range of options for increasing residents influence on Council, the challenge for GDC will be to ensure that the capacity and capability of residents groups is built as consistently as possible over the next 5-10 years so that we develop good processes within our neighbourhoods and villages and share learning and resources between communities in the district. To this end I have been working with Ka Pai Kaiti and representatives from other resident groups from Wainui/Okitu, Elgin, Ruatorea and Mangapapa, and GDC staff, on the idea of a 1-2 day symposium in October that will include presentations from innovative and inspiring community-led development from other centres including neighbourhoods in Whanganui, Hastings and the Bay of Plenty. I have been suggesting for some time that the residents associations in our district cooperate more and this is just one example of what I hope will be many opportunities for civil society and residents groups in Gisborne to support each other and present a strong, coherent voice to Council staff and Councillors.

Government misses the mark on alcohol law reforms

A local youth advocate is disappointed with government plans to focus on youth access to alcohol and says unless the Government implement the recommendations of the Law Commission in total there will be no change in the statistics around alcohol and the damage excess use causes.

“It is no use scapegoating young people”, says Manu Caddie, Trustee for Te Ora Hou Te Tairawhiti Trust that works with young people who have problems with alcohol and drugs. Mr Caddie contributed to Gisborne District Council’s submission on alcohol law reform last year and participated in a national meeting between Maori community leaders and the Law Commission to discuss the options they were considering putting to government.

“When we met with the Law Commission to discuss their ideas we told Sir Geoffrey Palmer that young people need to stop drinking as heavily as they do, but merely targeting laws against them will not work” said Mr Caddie, the government obviously haven’t taken heed of this message that was passed on by the Law Commission and as a result our binge-drinking culture will no doubt continue.”

Mr Caddie says Public Health guidelines known as the Ottowa Charter, have been implemented internationally for the last 25 years and show that unless the whole community is targeted very little change occurs in behaviour. Getting drunk and smoking cigarettes are seen as a hallmark of adult behaviour.

“Adults are smoking less because of our excellent public health laws and education in this area. If we want young people to decrease their alcohol use then adults have to do the same. Children and young people learn from the examples given to them by adults.”

The Law Commission recommended that if the government is to control the damage caused by excess alcohol drinking then they need to make it less available by curtailing when and where it is sold, and by increasing the price.

“If we are going to reduce the demand for alcohol then we must curtail its promotion through marketing and advertising and provide much more effective education programmes and access to treatment services for those who are having problems with the amount they drink and can no longer control it.”

92% of people with alcohol problems are aged over 20 years but the reform package focuses on people under the age of 20. “Some of the measures are good and we need to address youth attitudes to alcohol but the reforms miss the bulk of Law Commission calls for increasing excise tax, limiting advertising and lowering the blood alcohol levels for driving which would clearly have made the biggest difference.

We hear much about “whole of Government” approaches. Let’s take a “whole of Community” approach to the binge drinking culture we have developed in Gisborne today, and make our community a healthier and happier place to live.

ENDS

Rental Housing WOF basics…


The housing fitness standard (that could be a WOF for rentals) comprises a set of nine conditions and amenity requirements deemed to be the minimum necessary for a dwelling house to be fit for human habitation:
1. Have a suitably located lavatory for the exclusive use of the tenants
2. Have a bath and shower and wash hand basin with hot and cold water
3. Have satisfactory facilities for the preparation and cooking of food, including a sink with hot and cold water
4. Have an adequate supply of wholesome water
5. Have an effective system for the drainage of foul waste and surface water.
6. Have an adequate provision for lighting heating and ventilation
7. Be free from dampness prejudicial to the health of tenants.
8. Be free from serious disrepair.
9. Be structurally sound.

Ref: Decent_Housing_Standards – Kevin Reilly

WOF for rental properties?

Gisborne housing advocates are welcoming news that University of Otago researchers have developed a housing quality index that could be used as a Warrant of Fitness before any property is rented to tenants.

“We have been talking about ways to ensure every rental property in Gisborne is safe and not contributing to health problems for tenants, particularly the elderly and children” said Manu Caddie, Convenor of the Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group.

The housing quality index is a comprehensive check-list which trained people can use to grade and report on a property’s attributes and defects from the ground up. While the check-list is not widely used yet, researcher Dr Michael Keall said it could be that, in the future, homeowners could commission such a report for tenants.

The index, the first of its kind in New Zealand, has been developed over the past five years by He Kainga Organa Housing and Health Research Programme staff, including Dr Keall, at the university’s Wellington campus.

Dr Keall is recognised as a world expert on measuring the health impacts of homes and said work on the index was done in collaboration with the Building Research Association of New Zealand (Branz) and based on a similar check-list produced in the UK.

At 42 pages, it was “quite comprehensive” but Mr Caddie suggested that it could be administered for less than the cost of one week’s rent.

“It will be a long time before something like this becomes law, but if there was enough support locally it may be possible to introduce a by-law requiring landlords to provide prospective tenants with an independent assessment based on the new index” said Mr Caddie.

Mr Caddie is standing for the City Ward of Gisborne District Council in upcoming elections and says if elected he would seek Council support to investigate the likely costs and benefits of administering such a system.

“I have been a landlord and I know how easy it is to lose money on rental properties, but I am also aware of some shocking rentals and at present there is nothing that requires landlords to ensure minimum safety and health standards are adhered to.”

Mr Caddie believes such a system would help property owners ensure the value of their assets was maintained and having an independent assessment before renting could be useful when there are disputes over damage allegedly caused by tenants.

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References:

http://sustainablecities.org.nz/members/michael-keall

www.healthyhousing.org.nz