Letter to the Editor – Endless Summer or Last of the Summer Wine?

gisborne

Recent Statistics NZ projections that Gisborne is likely to have a lower population in 20 years time should come as no surprise. That we are likely to have the fourth highest rate of population decline should be concerning and something everyone in the region is committed to reversing.

I’m yet to see a clearly articulated strategy for attracting people to relocate themselves, their families and business to our great region.

The first place to start would be with the upwardly mobile young people who grew up and left to study, work and/or explore the world. One such young man recently contacted me from Queenstown and said he would love to live in Gisborne again. He thought more young people and families would choose to make the move if the following things were addressed:

  1. providing low cost, reliable access to high quality broadband and mobile coverage across the whole district;
  2. cheaper transport by air and rail in and out of the region;
  3. enhancements to lifestyle amenities like recreation facilities, cafes and entertainment options;
  4. promotion of the relatively low cost of land and houses in the region.

I would add to the list a proper analysis of the benefits of doing business in the Gisborne region compared to Auckland, Hawkes Bay and the Bay of Plenty. This analysis would include the cost of labour, rental comparisons for offices and warehouse space, road use intensity, port charges and education profiles.

It is encouraging to see the “Endless Summer” brochure going into Air New Zealand planes over the next three months, but I can’t help thinking this needs to be connected into a much longer and more strategic plan to carefully position the regional profile with potential residents and visitors. Such a strategy could be something that all of us understand and support for the future of this place we call home.

Council Draft 10 Year Plan Submissions

Here are some of the submissions I helped prepare on the Council’s Draft 10 Year Plan – opportunities to speak to the submissions come up in early June:

Can we get a Regional Youth Plan?

drive-by1

Saying parents need to take responsibility for the violent behaviour of their children, as Education Minister Anne Tolley recently did, is like suggesting a tree needs to take responsibility for the type of fruit it produces.

Just blaming schools or parents is not going to help anyone.While there are significant issues in the attitudes and skill levels of many parents and teachers, without a local plan to address the range of factors that lead to violent behaviour amongst children we will continue to see children dropping out of school.

It would be helpful to see a commitment from the new government to supporting a comprehensive local plan to develop pro-social skills in young children regardless of the competency levels of their parents or teachers.

Such a plan would include strategies for supporting long-term mentoring relationships with caring adults who can see the potential in each child, it would include more resources and information for parents and better monitoring by funders of initiatives like Social Workers in Schools that are supposed to be supporting both the home and school.

Recent international research that suggests the most important things parents can do to keep their children out of trouble is to spend time doing things that the whole family enjoys.

In order of importance, the next three most important things parents can do are:

–           to know where their children are and who they are spending time with;

–           to support children to get involved with pro-social peers through groups like sports, church and kapahaka; and

–           to keep their children connected to school.

Every young person needs a strong sense of belonging to a group of people, a sense of mastery and being good at something, a sense of being independent and a sense of contributing to their community.

If they don’t find these things at home or school they will look to their peer group to provide guidance on what is acceptable and unacceptable. The difficulty is that these young people are often also disconnected from home, school and their cultural and geographic communities.

Having been involved in a range of youth development research projects in Gisborne over the past five years, I’m still waiting for local and national leaders to make any significant commitment to a coordinated regional plan for the wellbeing of children and young people.

Māori Youth Development Briefing

daffodil-day

I was invited to present a briefing on Maori Youth Development to incoming MPs in the new parliament on 10 December 2008. After consulting with my networks around the country – the following is what I presented. While it is a national set of priorities, I am confident the regional priorities would be closely aligned with this list.

– – – – – – – –
PRIORITY RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. Prioritise Community Building & Intergenerational Connectedness:

a. Encourage more community development rather than just social services. For example support key households in high deprivation neighbourhoods who are doing good things for their community (unfunded activities that address issues like dysfunctional relationships, family violence, mentoring for parents, out of school activities for tamariki/rangatahi, intergenerational connectedness, etc.).

b. Support public campaigns in communities that encourage volunteers to mentor rangatahi.

c. Support research into rites of passage and initiation traditions in New Zealand – particularly within Māori communities – and encourage communities to reestablish healthy markers of the transition to adulthood.

2. Prioritise Whānau Capacity Building:

a. Fund more social marketing and resource development for whānau to provide positive parenting through early childhood and adolescent years.

3. Prioritise Innovative Education Options & Student Support Services:

a. Continue to increase access to quality early childhood services and parents as first teachers initiatives.

b. Increase access to early intervention at primary school age, less need for more expert diagnosis and more need for caring mentors from within the local community who can provide pro-social, developmental experiences and model
healthy relationships and conflict resolution.

c. Increase access to high quality school-based social workers and youth workers – to help address behaviour and attitudes that contribute to under-achievement, class disruption and early school exits.

d. Expand the range of schools implementing initiatives like Te Kotahitanga that challenge unhelpful attitudes and raise expectations of students by school staff.

e. Increase alternative trade training and vocational options for students at risk of disengaging in early high school.

4. Prioritise Quality Decision-Making:

a. Increase opportunities for public policy and funding decisions to be made at the
local level.

b. Require government and NGO organisations to provide independent evidence of
their ongoing commitment to local collaboration before receiving public funding.

c. Resource the non-government sector to engage robustly on public policy debates, developments and decisions.

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS:
• Provide more support from central and local government for sustainable marae development – particularly in rural areas.
• Review the range of incentives and barriers for whānau to live and work on multiply owned Māori land.
• Encourage iwi authorities and Māori Trust Boards to transfer the delivery of social services to hapu clusters and Māori organisations that have this as their core business.
• Support participation in Human Rights education within Māori communities and capacity building efforts that raise the confidence and competence of whānau Māori to engage with public institutions.
• Support the establishment of opportunities for young people from high deprivation backgrounds to participate in overseas experiences in poor communities in the Asia-Pacific region.
• Provide more incentives for ‘old school’ kaiako in Kura Kaupapa to change or make way for young, skilled and enthusiastic teachers.
• Support the development of school engagement (truancy) services at the local instead of district level.
• Increase accountability for schools who use the ‘kiwi suspension’ to abdicate their responsibility for educating children with problem behaviours on their roll.
• Ensure Teen Parent Units and Early Childhood Education Services attached to them are available in every community that has a high school.
• Investigate the expansion of outdoor learning experiences for junior high school students.
• Support Māori immersion education contexts to raise their profile and make them a more viable choice for whānau.
• Learn from the Gisborne Marae Youth Court Project and establish other sites to increase experience of alternative contexts and processes for youth justice that show promising results.
• Develop joint government and NGO infrastructure around the YOSEC tool to promote more effective services to prevent youth offending.
• Provide paid Coordinators for Youth Offending Teams and include NGOs in the Teams.
• Establish new funding pool for prevention and early intervention child/youth development services on the continuum between OSCAR programmes and CYF YJ services.
• Support more local community initiated, designed, implemented and utilised social research.
• Review the level of commitment local government organisations make to child and youth participation in decision-making.
• Increase resourcing for salaries and access to quality training & supervision for youth workers in education institutions, particularly those working with rangatahi Māori.
• Improve monitoring of publicly funded services to increase effectiveness without increasing compliance costs.
• Investigate barriers to government contract managers making unpopular but important decisions when services cannot account for where the funding is going.
• Support the development of more evidence on key components for effective youth development programmes and organisations – particularly for rangatahi Māori is a large gap in our knowledge base.
• Encourage community-based central government agencies.
• Reward the completion of study and training.
• Contractually require providers of funded youth services to contribute to local marae.
• Resource and require youth services to operate outside of 9am-5pm weekdays.

– – – – –

Manu Caddie is based in Gisborne and works as a researcher and advisor for three national youth and community development organisations. He has previously taught in alternative education, managed a Māori youth and community development NGO, assisted with overseas development projects in Asia and the Pacific and worked in the funding and contracting division of Child, Youth & Family.

He requested feedback at short notice from 20 Māori youth and community development workers around the country for the content of this brief briefing paper. 12 of the 20 provided suggestions.

Positive Ageing

I spoke at the Positive Ageing Expo last week and read from the draft Positive Ageing in Action Accord:

“Positive ageing in Tairawhiti will only become a reality when society respects all seniors, values their knowledge, wisdom and skills, and acknowledges the considerable contributions they make to family and community life…

“For positive ageing in Tairawhiti to become a reality, people of all ages must acquire deep respect for the dignity of seniors and the wisdom they have gained from many years of experience. Our history resides in their memories.

ACTIONS:

3. Promote inter-generational programmes in schools and communities to overcome ageist stereotypes, build inter-generational bonds and enhance the understanding of a wide range of historical topics, social issues and cultural perspectives.

I said I thought these statements and the proposed action should be much earlier on in the document as I think attitudes in the wider society present the biggest challenge and opportunity to realising positive ageing for everyone.

By the time I am 65 years old there will be twice as many people aged over 65 as there are today. Our country and community will see this as a great opportunity only when we all appreciate the treasure that our elders are to us and the world. The ageing population is not a liability, and not a problem to be solved – it is something we need to plan for but it is about realising the value in every person who has a story to tell, critical perspectives on a wide range of issues and experiences that we all need to learn from as we honour those passing on and those still to come.

What about those of us who are NOT Maori?

As I have been talking to local residents over the past few weeks, a number of people have asked me this important question.

If elected to office I will work extremely hard for the benefit of every person living here – regardless of race, gender, religion or socio-economic status.

My mother is a fifth generation New Zealander. While our family has a rich history in this country as settlers and citizens, I am extremely proud of our deep roots in Scotland, Ireland and Spain.

I have been a strong advocate for Maori and young people – mostly because I think they get a raw deal sometimes and because unless we address some of the unmet needs that exist in our community, in 30 years time we will be in much the same place as we are today.

If Europeans had disproportionate rates of school failure, poor health and high crime rates – then I would be advocating for their rights and needs. Of course there are Europeans and other sectors of society who have real unmet needs – that is why I have been a strong advocate for children and young people – who don’t get a vote to choose the community leaders and who often ignored by decision-makers. Our elders, particularly those on the pension, people with disabilities and illness, single parents and people on low incomes all have significant needs that Council regularly overlook.

I believe we can get to a place where everyone has their basic needs met in this community – personal safety; affordable, healthy housing; and high quality education, employment and recreational opportunities.

As someone who understands both Maori and European worldviews, there have been many times when I have been able to bring diverse groups of people together, united under common values and working toward shared goals.

My wife and I are planning to living in the Gisborne region for the rest of our lives – this has to be the best place on Earth. We want to join with others and contribute in whatever small ways we can to making Gisborne even better!

What do I know?!

My wife and I are both 34 years old. We have two children. We both have bachelor degrees and post-graduate qualifications. We own two businesses and are involved in a wide range of local community organisations in addition to the marae committee, Kohanga Reo and the school our five year old daughter attends.

We are part of a demographic group that Gisborne needs to appeal to as a place to live and work.

Tarsh grew up around Tauwhareparae, Makarika and Kaiti. She left Gisborne during her last year at high school and went away to university. I grew up in Tauranga and did the same. We both ended up in Wellington and moved home 10 years ago to live with and care for Tarsh’s grandparents who raised her.

We understand what needs to change to make people like us want to move back to Gisborne to raise a family. We can count at least twenty outstanding individuals that we can claim some responsibility for influencing their decision to move to Gisborne over the past seven years.

I believe Council needs one or two people of my age and experience around the decision-making table. Some others need to move on!  

Working with teenagers for the last 15 years has given me a good insight into the way young people think about their future, their families, neighbourhoods and the wider community. I have recently been working with a local project that brings a group of elderly women and a group of teenage girls together regularly to learn from each other. This kind of interaction is what our community needs much more of and the positive outcomes flowing from these relationships will benefit generations to come. 

Living in a neighbourhood that even the pizza delivery people won’t come to has some good and not so good things about it. Every human being has an absolute right to personal safety and to know they are valued members of their community.

We all have contributions to make. Young people have idealism and energy, parents and working aged people provide social and economic security for the less enfranchised, people with physical and intellectual impairments teach all of us to appreciate whatever we have, elders provide their wisdom, knowledge and experience to guide the next generations. Maori and Pakeha share rich histories in this region, new immigrants bring fresh ideas and different ways of doing things that we can all benefit from if we value diversity and create an inclusive community.

As a self-employed researcher I like to have all the evidence before making a decision and I understand that there are pressures on this region that other areas of New Zealand do not experience as severely. I also recognise that for a large proportion of the world’s population, this place would be considered Paradise.

I was pleased to see the recent Rates Enquiry commissioned by central government recommended that rates make up no more than 50% of Council income. This signals some relief to rates rises as central government contributes more to costs incurred by local government. But the key I believe relies on us becoming more self-sufficient so that as a region we can rely less on external influences and develop the capacity and resources within the region to care for ourselves and make this the place we all know it has the potential to be.

For more information about my views on a wide range of issues visit my website: http://www.manu.org.nz (or invite me for dinner)

Gisborne Young People

Four years ago I helped organise the largest number of submissions on a single issue that Council received for the 10 year Long Term Council Community Plan. It basically asked Council to acknowledge only one thing – that young people are full citizens of our community. In the end only one line in the LTCCP referred to young people and it was silent on the recommendations made in the submissions.

Council does not need to provide facilities or events for young people as much as it needs to be asking itself how young people are thinking about and relating to their communities, how young people are organising themselves and under what circumstances young people are prepared to commit to the wellbeing and development of this region.

Rekindling intergenerational relationships are critical at this time – but those relationships must be based on mutual respect and appreciation of each others gifts and limitations.

I recently attended a planning meeting organised by GDC that considered what Gisborne would look like in 30 years time. There were less than five people aged under 30 years in a room of over 60 people. If young people are not actively involved in planning the future of the region now, they will have no ownership of the developments that occur and will join the masses leaving instead of contributing to a better future for all of us.

Respecting Our Elders

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its most vulnerable members. Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973)

I love this quote and I plan to make it a reality.  

Our society is fragmented and disconnected in many ways. Over the past 50 years a stark division has emerged in many families and communities between younger and older members. 

Before World War II the notion of a ‘youth’ population was unheard of (let alone ‘youth culture’ or ‘youth sub-cultures’) – that was because young people were expected to participate in the economic, cultural and social life of their family. Clear rites of passage existed in every society to mark the movement of a child to an adult. Now we have this strange transitional period where young people are no longer children and not yet adults – they exist in a confusing social vacuum that presents all sorts of contradictory messages – and we wonder why they misbehave!

The inter-generational transfer of knowledge, language and values has never been so poor than it is today. An unhealthy obsession with material wealth and status pervades the value systems of many young people thanks in large part to the influence of commercial culture and global communications media.

Reconnecting young people to their parents and grandparents is one of the most important challenges facing our community – passing on the best values of our elders is an essential component of any healthy society. Practical skills and activities such as growing, preparing and preserving food, passing on traditions and family stories that connect with our past and future generations must be a priority for everyone.

I make a point now of asking my parents about such things at every opportunity – and I love sitting in the presence of elders who are willing to share their wisdom with someone as naive and ignorant as myself.

What are some examples of this inter-generational connectedness that you have experienced recently?

Speech for Te Whare Whai Hua Opening 11/08/07

First I would liek to thank the staff and management of Te Whare Whai Hua for inviting me to speak – it was quite unexpected and very humbling to be asked to open this new facility!

A seed is planted…

TWWH started out as a conversation in early 2001 around the kitchen table at Jo Ashwell’s house in DeLatour Rd. A number of the girls in our Te Ora Hou youth club had become pregnant, wanted to keep their baby but were dropping out of school. We thought we might get support for the idea from Paul Smith, the Guidance Counsellor at Lytton High School so apprached him and he was very supportive. The Lytton High BOT got right in behind the idea and along with the JN Williams Trust underwrote the refurbishment of a couple of old classrooms that would become TWWH.

Our first students

Michelle, Monique, Susannah and Renee started in February 2002 at 2 Crawford Rd – the old Admin Building for the freezing works where Te Ora Hou was based. They were all in one big room with the babies on one side of a very thin curtain while the mamas sat around the old board room table trying to study their unit standards and correspondence work. Later these students were joined by others like Lovene, Hine, Sam & Pat and it is great to see so many of the graduates here today.

Education as liberation

If you are brown, young and female in this country the odds are stacked against you and your children – this society still privileges white, old men – and their values and beliefs continue to dominate the decision-making processes of our communities and country. 

Education at TWWH should be about permission to transgress – transgress the racist, ageist and sexist paradigms that we are born into. 

This is particularly important for men: last weekend 30 local men listed what we consider the causes of men’s violence – one of the main issues identified was our identity as men… 

From an early age boys are taught that we need to have the control in relationships, that we are initiators and emotionally detached power-brokers – the ‘Warriors’ who must dominate others. 

Conversely girls are taught to be objects for male gratification, that their value is in their appearance and their primary role is as servants of male desire and as procreative baby-making machines. Intellectually we know all of this is wrong but we continue to perpetrate such destructive attitudes when we do not challenge them. And while we lament the deaths of baby Jhia in Wanganui a few weeks ago and Nia this week – the dominant voices call for tougher penalties instead of radical social change and challenging our gender identities.

I hope that the curriculum taught in this facility starts to produce a lot more critical thinking and action by the students.  We have been sucked into seeing education almost exclusively as a training ground for producing workers to make money for business owners.

The curriculum in this facility must include teaching and learning that challenges the economic, political and cultural elites. It must encourage personal growth, responsibility taking, entrepreneurship and critical reflection amongst young parents and their whanau.

Hope & Courage

Te Whare Whai Hua is a symbol of hope and courage – it demonstrates that members of this community are committed to supporting the most vulnerable members of our community – our children.

It bears witness to the courage of young mothers, their partners and whanau who are willing to get up off the couch and stand up for their right as citizens of this country to a high quality public education.

TPU’s under review

I despaired when I heard Teen Parent Units are currently under national review as the Ministry of Education thinks they are too expensive and is reconsidering their future.

Most communities around the country are not lucky enough to have a place like this – fortunately we got in early but we should support the right of every student to an education that is accessible, affordable and appropriate.  

Future Fruit

We have seen the good fruit produced by TWWH over the past few years and the extensions will provide opportunity for more of the 100 teenage young women who get hapu in our community to continue their education.

Sex education is obviously not working in our community – we have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the country and many of these result in terminations that leave deep trauma in the people involved – let alone the tiny lives taken. While the debate on reproductive rights and wrongs continues – places like Te Whare Whai Hua make it easier for young women to keep their children and find extra support as new parents.

The measure of success for TWWH should not be just how many students achieve NCEA or go on to further study or employment. It must be how many of the students go on to be great parents, community leaders and supporters of social transformation that creates much more loving whanau and healthy communities.

Congratulations to the staff of Te Whare Whai Hua who have worked so hard to make this place what it is, to the Board of Lytton High School for your ongoing commitment to the facility, to the government for eventually coming on board, to partners and whanau who support the mamas, and to the current and past students who inspire all of us with your sustained commitment to reaching your full potential as wonderful human beings.

Thank you very much.

Affordable Housing & Urban Development

From my submission on the 2007 Draft Annual Plan & LTCCP Review…Recommendation: 

That GDC develop Inclusionary Zoning requiring developers to include social housing and affordable housing equivalent to at least 20% of new developments of 5 or more houses for social and affordable housing.

– That GDC remove any exclusionary regulations prohibiting affordable housing from being built in new developments.

– That GDC develop a housing policy that makes an explicit commitment by GDC to do  everything it can to ensure decent housing is affordable for all people living in the Gisborne District.

Continue reading

Population Growth Model

From my submission on the 2007 Draft Annual Plan & LTCCP Review…

Recommendations:

– That GDC Population Growth Model include the anticipated net impacts(including anticipated level and impact of mitigation strategies) of climate change over the next 20-50 years on populations in each locality in its Population Growth Model.

That GDC Population Growth Model include the anticipated net impacts of Maori migration over the next 20-50 years on the populations in each locality in its population.

That GDC support investigations into opportunities for supporting a de-urbanisation movement that would result in more people moving to rural lifestyles that increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on resources being transported into the region from other parts of the planet and other parts the country (often back into the region after being grown here and shipped to a distribution centre outside the region only to return to shops here).

 That GDC do not include the text on page 313 “However, even if the older segment of the population increases, putting pressure on accommodation suitable for senior citizens, the Council will not necessarily provide accommodation.”

That GDC policies and decisions are made on the basis of ‘human scale’ design and arrive at creative solutions that challenge and discredit the unsustainable mantra of ‘growth is good’

That GDC monitor income, health, education and justice disparities in the region as well as ‘connectedness’ indicators to measure progress toward a more or less inclusive society.

Continue reading

GDC Social Policy

From my submission on the 2007 Draft Annual Plan & LTCCP Review…

Recommendations:

That GDC undertake a substantive community consultation process over a 3-6 month period asking residents and stakeholder groups for their opinions on what the purpose, content and power of a GDC Social Policy should be.

That the Social Policy suggested in the Statement of Proposal be discarded and after a proper process of asking the community for initial comment, a policy should be drafted for further consultation with the community and eventual adoption by GDC.Rationale:

The proposed purpose, content and power of a Social Policy has been drafted with minimal community input. If it is to be useful to GDC and the community it is established to serve, the policy needs to be developed in partnership by the community and GDC. The proposed policy is full of provocative statements, assumptions and ideological positions that are not well reasoned, supported by evidence or endorsed by the sectors of the community most affected by GDC ensuring it has a robust statement on social issues. It is important for GDC to have a Social Policy and it needs this urgently, but the process for developing such a policy should include the widest possible involvement of stakeholders and be seen as a community development opportunity in itself, ultimately resulting in a statement that has broad support and clear linkages to all aspects of the organisation. 

Te Reo

We all know that no group of people are all the same.

The concept of ‘Maori’ culture is only used in contrast to other cultures (usually European/Pakeha) – but otherwise iwi, hapu and whanau all have their own cultures/tikanga/kawa ways of being and distinctives that have similarities and differences to each other.

Sometimes when someone talks about bi-culturalism (two cultures co-existing) others point out that our society is multi-cultural and bi-culturalism is too exclusive. The point is that Tangata Whenua, however you wish to describe the decendants of the first inhabitants of these islands, have only got this place to be who they are. Tangata Whenua cannot go to some where else to learn about their history and have their identity, language and traditions affirmed – only here are Te Reo me ona tikanga tuku iho able to live, grow and regenerate themselves amongst the people to whom they belong.

In our home we speak only Te Reo to the children and try to use it as much as possible amongst the adults. Within the home is the most important place a language can be used as it frames our understanding of everyday life and is not restricted to academic or institutional contexts.

My wife Tarsh is absolutely committed to the revitalisation of Te Reo o Ngati Porou. After her whanau, nothing is more important to her than to ensure she does all she can, every single day, to make the language strong in our household and the wider society. She is working hard on establishing a Puna Reo across the road from our place in Cambridge Terrace. With a group of similarly committed whanau we are undertaking all the planning and preparation required to establish a high quality early childhood education centre that uses 100% Te Reo and is based on the traditions of her tupuna and the best educational pedagogies from around the world.

p1050132.jpg