Hasta la Victoria Siempre

Socialism made the headlines locally and at a national level last week. The Prime Minister explained his admission that a socialist streak runs through New Zealanders by acknowledging he too holds socialist ideals. And an aspiring Mayoral candidate blamed socialists on Gisborne District Council for the increase in his rates demand, which he thinks is a form of wealth tax. Of course he failed to mention his properties are collectively worth many millions of dollars and the proportion of his rates to property value is less than one tenth of what the vast majority of us contribute.

As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, “the term socialist has been so evacuated of content over the last century that it’s hard even to use in any sensible way. The Soviet Union was called a socialist society by the two major propaganda powers in the world at the time. The west called the Soviet Union socialist to defame it by association with the miserable tyranny and the Soviets called it socialism to benefit from the moral appeal that true socialism had among large parts of the general world population.” But the Soviet Union was about as remote from socialism as you can imagine. The core notion of traditional socialism is that working people have to be in control of production and communities have to be in control of their own lives. The Soviet Union was the exact opposite of local control, the working people were virtual slaves. Chomsky suggests the collapse of the Soviet Union was in fact a great victory for socialism.

There are attempts today to describe a detailed vision of a socialist future and some of the most extensive and detailed are examples like Participatory Economics and the moves toward an extension of democracy to the industrial sphere through worker-owned cooperatives.

Philosopher and educationalist John Dewey’s main work concentrated on democracy and he pointed out that as long as we have industrial feudalism – that is, private power controlling production and commerce – our democracy will be very limited, we have to move to what he called industrial democracy if we hope to have democracy of any significance.

The way for individuals to realise the democracy “in their own hearts” was through community. As Dewey wrote, “it is through association that man has acquired his individuality and it is through association that he exercises it. The theory which sets the individual over against society, of necessity contradicts itself.”

Dewey believed that direct participation in a democracy would foster an unexpected talent for thoughtful deliberation in ordinary citizens. “We lie in the lap of an immense intelligence,” he said. The difficulty was to unleash this intelligence, which remained dormant until “it possesses the local community as its medium.” In The Public and its Problems — Dewey’s only work of formal political philosophy — he outlined an elaborate program of truly participatory democracy, one built around face-to-face interactions in “neighborly communities.”

The idea that people should be in control of their own destiny and lives including the institutions within which they work and the communities within which they live is traditional socialism.

So when the label socialist gets used pejoratively by people who should know better, I hope John Key is correct, that New Zealanders do all have a socialist streak and we are proud of that commitment to local, egalitarian democracy that protects us from the tyranny of both big government and big business.

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

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.

Happy New Year

So there goes 2010, and as 2011 rolls in we see petrol going over $2.00/litre in town, which probably means $2.50 up the Coast. This year the International Energy Agency referred to Peak Oil in the past tense, saying output will never again get to the “all-time peak of 70 million barrels per day reached in 2006.” Global demand for oil is increasing exponentially and the cost of production is going up as the stuff gets harder to extract.

The good news is that while the New Zealand government has acknowledged the need to plan for life beyond cheap oil, so has a growing number of Gisborne people. Planning to adapt our lifestyles seems like a better strategy than having change forced on us.

Local residents face similar challenges if we like the lifestyle the district offers. Gisborne District Council is an entity we pay money to that ensures decent roads, safe drinking water, some agreement about who can do what where and the provision of other basic services essential to maintaining our quality of life.

There has been a lot of column space dedicated recently to complaints about rates rises for some sectors of the community and suggestions we should cut Council services or delay maintenance and replacement work.

Despite all the table thumping, the good news is that a significant proportion of ratepayers will have a reduction in their rates and the vast majority will probably have an increase of less than $2 per week.

With the Reserve Bank predicting inflation of five percent next year, we should thank staff and the former Council for ensuring the average rates rises are well below inflation. While farmers and some businesses complain about the rises, we should compare them with last year when residential property owners in the city were hardest hit and faced increases in the poorest parts of town of over 16%. So we all have to do our share and while legislation prevents rates from being used as a mechanism for wealth redistribution, if you have a multi million dollar property that is also a business, you expect to contribute a bit more than the average.

As a recent editorial pointed out, Gisborne is no longer in the highest bracket for rates in the country and while we have high levels of poverty we also have a lean Council, expensive rural roading and flood protection infrastructure to maintain in the face of decreasing central government support.

Gisborne has 360,000 hectares of grassland, 150,000 hectares of planted trees, 40,000 hectares of native bush and 9,000 hectares of horticulture.

Gisborne also has huge areas of ‘Maori land’ a lot of which is termed ‘unproductive’ (because it’s not being intensively farmed or forested) and ‘unrateable’ (because the multiple owners are either deceased or impossible to track down to recover rates from).

If a fraction of the time, passion and resources committed by councillors, staff and lobby groups to cutting Council services was redirected into developing a strategy for attracting long-term residents to the district, we could have a really effective campaign.

Part of such a strategy should focus on attracting Maori with connections to Te Tairawhiti to come home to work and build on the ancestral land everyone seems so proud of.

We also have a great opportunity to profile our community as a potential new home for the thousands of visitors here over summer. We have no traffic jams (except at New Years!), no air pollution, no crowded waves, no in-fill housing, no crass multinational strip malls… in fact, there’s not much here except a beautiful environment, laid back lifestyles and a lot of very friendly people.

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

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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.

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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.

– – – – –

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

Big Society – Big Community


David Cameron re-launched his Big Idea this week. The new British prime minister says the ‘Big Society’ concept is about empowering communities, redistributing power and fostering a culture of volunteerism. In a speech in Liverpool, Cameron said community groups should be able to run post offices, libraries, transport services and shape housing projects. While one motive for the Tory version of ‘people power’ is obviously to help lower Britain’s debt which is spiralling out of control, I think there is some substance in the plan.

Modern society has turned many aspects of our lives into commodities. Citizens have been replaced by consumers and nearly all our relationships are mediated by the market. In the market-based society we earn money to pay other people to care for our young and elderly, we become slaves to debt, and outsource our responsibilities. Families become less important and effective and neighbourhoods lose their ability to function properly.

Gisborne has much to offer the rest of the world, and it’s not just a wall of wood, wine or wool. What we can offer is a healthy model of true community – and we are not too far from manifesting that goal.

I was so encouraged to see the big turnout this week to a presentation by historian Jane Luiten on the history of local government on the East Coast. The diversity of our community was represented in the 60 or so people from all walks of life who came to hear some challenging stories from our local history. The interest in this topic from young and old, Maori and Pakeha and new immigrants gave me a deep sense of optimism for the future of our community.

There are a few simple truths that citizens of Gisborne can hold on to if we want to be a place where more people love to live. Our neighbourhoods are the primary source of our health as a community. Whether we are safe and secure in our neighbourhoods is largely within our control. In our neighbourhoods, towns and villages we have the power to build a resilient economy. We are local people who must raise our children.

We live in a democracy, a political system that gives us the freedom to choose a common vision and then make choices that bring that vision into being. But the institutions we look to, whether they are government and its agencies, businesses and the ‘free’ market or civil society organisations cannot make us into a community. Only families and neighbourhoods acting together can create a sense of belonging, unconditional care and acceptance, trust and support.

Community organiser John McKnight suggests a community becomes powerful when three things are happening:

The Giving of Gifts: The gifts of people in our neighbourhood are boundless, every single person has something of value to contribute to our wellbeing.

The Presence of Association: Through association our gifts can be shared, celebrated and magnified and become productive.

The Compassion of Hospitality: There are no strangers here, only friends who haven’t met – we welcome the gifts of new people and need to share our own with them.

The characteristics of the Big Society may also be those of an abundant, healthy community: kindness, generosity, cooperation, forgiveness and the acceptance of fallibility. These virtues aren’t delivered by the market, or by government or local body organisations. They come from within us and could become what makes Gisborne a fantastic place to live.

Safer Communities, Together


The decision by Gisborne Police last week to change the way they report on crime may have some merit, at least if experiences from elsewhere are anything to go by.

The local controversy reminds me of the Anne Murray song “A Little Good News” we used to sing at school assemblies in 1984:

There’s a local paper rolled up in a rubber band
One more sad story’s one more than I can stand
Just once how I’d like to see the headline say
“Not much to print today, can’t find nothin’ bad to say”

We all want to live in a safe community and both the Police and media can play an important role in reducing crime in our communities. The problem is that because so much of news media content is dedicated to crime stories our perceptions no longer match reality.

A recent Canadian study found that half of newspaper and TV news coverage and two-thirds of radio items were focused on crime, deviance and control. Crime drama has been the most popular genre of television programming since the 1970s.

Richard Ericson in a study entitled ‘Visualising Deviance’ claimed that deviance is the essence of news, ‘the defining characteristic of what journalists regard as newsworthy’.

Professor Ray Surette is an expert in the relationship between the media and crime, he draws a direct link between the ‘profit imperative’ of news media and sensationalising criminal cases by the media. In the case of The Gisborne Herald however we know that the staff commitment to family violence prevention is a key motivator in coverage of not only the crime stories but a much broader public education project that includes discussion from all angles on the issue.

The Journal of Communication published a longitudinal study in 2007 that showed media reporting of crime accounted for the public thinking crime was four times more common than the actual crime rates.

More importantly, research has found that fear of crime produces a range of negative social outcomes. A literature review published in the International Review of Victimology in 1996 found that fear of crime erodes quality of life and well-being, restricts movement, motivates costly precautions, encourages ‘flight’ from deprived neighbourhoods and harms social trust, inter-group relations and the capacity of communities to exercise social control. Seems like a comprehensive list of the things Ka Pai Kaiti and others have been working hard to counter for over a decade in our neighbourhood.

Media portrayals of crime nearly always differ from the official crime statistics and tend to focus on individual cases without examining the broader context of offending. A Ministry of Justice report from 2007 suggests public understanding of offending and the justice system are largely informed by the media but public knowledge of trends in offending and of our justice systems is poor.

Opinion polls that ask simple questions and provide little context show that many people: over-estimate the amount and seriousness of crime, particularly youth offending; think the justice system and sentences are too lenient; and favour punitive responses to offending. More in-depth research, where people are given more information about specific cases, evoke less punitive responses favouring prevention and rehabilitation.

So I guess a challenge for The Gisborne Herald is to continue to increase the amount and quality of in-depth reporting about both the causes and prevention of different kinds of local offending. Another challenge might be to set and monitor a benchmark for stories on local crime as a proportion of overall reporting on local issues. On that issue I think this newspaper would have a better record than most.

Some empirical studies that readers may be interested in include:

–          Dowler, K., Fleming, T. & Muzzatti, S. (2006) Constructing crime: media, crime, and popular culture. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, October 2006;

–          Doyle, A. (2006) How not to think about crime in the media. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, October 2006;

–          Maxwell, G. (1999) Youth offending: putting the headlines in context. Ministry of Justice

–          Soler, M. (2001) Public Opinion on Youth, Crime and Race: A guide for advocates. United States: Youth Law Centre.

–          Hollway, W. and Jefferson , T. (1997), ‘The Risk Society in an Age of Anxiety: Situating the Fear of Crime’, British Journal of Sociology, 48:255–66.

–          Hough , M. ( 1995 ), Anxiety about Crime: Findings from the 1994 British Crime Survey. London : Home Office Research Study No. 147

Kaiti Neighbourhood Meeting to Address Tagging

A neighbourhood meeting to address tagging in Kaiti this week resulted in the development of a community action plan involving much more than painting out tagging.

The meeting attracted more than 20 residents including a number of young people. Meeting organiser Manu Caddie said he was very pleased with the turnout with some very practical ideas being put forward to tackle the causes of tagging.

A presentations from Gisborne District Council town planner Duncan Rothwell provided residents with a range of strategies to make tagging less likely. Using wire fencing instead of planks avoids providing a flat surface which is attractive to taggers.

“A community paint out day is one approach but addressing the issues that create taggers seems like the most sensible strategy to prevent tagging” said Mr Caddie.

The meeting heard from Police Sergeant Greg Lexmond that while tagging was at the lower end of the offending continuum, it is usually done by people under the age of 20 and still important for Police to respond to.

Mr Caddie presented findings from international research on what families can do to prevent young people getting into trouble with the law. Mr Caddie said the four most important things parents and caregivers can do are: spend quality time doing things that the children enjoy; set reasonable boundaries and know where they are and who they are with; encourage participation in positive activities such as sport and kapahaka; and do everything possible to keep them in school.

Presentations by Te Runanga o Ngati Porou staff informed the meeting about a mentoring programme they are working on in Kaiti schools. Ngarimu Simpkins, a Community Development Officer for the Gisborne District Council, presented an idea he is working that will involve taggers in a community art project.

Mr Caddie said Ka Pai Kaiti will continue to work with local organisations, schools and residents to implement the plan coming out of the meeting.

Ideas from meeting participants that will inform the community action plan included:

  1. Working with schools to identify young people who tag their bags and books with opportunities for these young people to be connected into programmes that address identity and belonging issues and expose students to the consequences of tagging.
  2. Utilising local artists and designers including Toihoukura students and staff to assist with mural painting in high risk spots and mentoring young people caught tagging.
  3. Improving Police response to tagging reports and encouraging judges to include educational and identity development opportunities within sentences.
  4. Using positive Maori mentors and educational experiences to ensure that all young Maori in Gisborne have a positive sense of what it means to be Maori instead of the negative self-image many whanau have inherited from society.
  5. Advertising and social marketing targeting young people that helps them understand the cost and impact tagging can have on households and neighbourhoods.
  6. ‘Dream Expo’ hosted by local schools that encourage primary aged children to realise their potential.
  7. Encouraging the establishment of Neighbourhood Watch Groups in areas that are often tagged.
  8. Publicising the profile of the ‘average tagger’ – how they started, what motivates them, what unmet needs they have and how best to steer them away from tagging.
  9. Using schools as significant public assets within communities experiencing high levels of deprivation that can be the base for a range of support services to family and provide moral reasoning (skills to decide what is right and wrong) training for children and young people.
  10. Encourage churches, sports clubs, marae and service clubs to contribute to a community action plan.

Personal Race Relations

The last week has given me a few reasons to think about race relations with good progress in some areas and setbacks in others.

The joint visit by leaders of the National Party and the Maori Party last week provided an opportunity for us to reflect again on how Maori and non-Maori get along locally.

The same week we heard the apology issued by the South African government and two national Rugby Unions to the families of players denied the opportunity to face South Africa because of their ethnicity.

In spite of all its obvious failings, the current government has provided an example of how people with very different priorities can cooperate for the benefit of the whole society. So while John Key may have undermined the good faith of Treaty negotiations with Tuhoe, his government committing New Zealand to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a universal standard by which the decisions of government can be judged.

The Treaty claims process has been incredibly important for local tribes, but one of its many problems is that the process is quite removed from most Gisborne residents. There is a large part of our community who, unless they are highly motivated, will not have a chance to hear the stories or find out how the process arrives at its outcome. Te Ūnga Mai has done some good work in this area over the past few years in terms of trying to create greater appreciation of local history and focusing on schools is a good place to start.

My Facebook page recently became a forum for two extreme ends of the cultural politics continuum and, perhaps not surprisingly, the people who at first traded insults and stereotypes eventually found a way to coexist and reconcile some of their differences. It must be to our peril however if we have to rely on electronic communication to improve race relations in our country! Our leaders could make more effort to create safe space for everyone who wants to share family stories, express concerns and articulate hopes for the future. Instead of assuming that if we leave it long enough, the fear and misunderstanding that still exists will subside – history shows it usually just festers away and gets handed on to the next generation.

My message to John Key and Dr Pita Sharples last week was to encourage their respective local branches to work together around the country. Is anyone else interested in creating spaces that are safe for people from different cultural backgrounds to talk carefully about the things that are important to us – the stuff we have in common and the things we are not all agreed on? If we are going to mature as a country and a local community, we need to learn how to talk about the important stuff respectfully and build trust so we can all move forward together.

The best definition of a leader that I have come across is ‘anyone willing to help’, so I would be keen to talk to anyone else interested in progressing a meaningful and respectful conversation on local race relations. It is difficult. Maori are busy with their own issues and often non-Maori see it as a non-issue, but the conversation is essential if our region really does want to prosper.

Call for better care

Following a major fire in Kaiti, local community worker Manu Caddie says parents need to take more responsibility for knowing where their children are at all times.
Mr Caddie knows the children responsible for a fire in a Kaiti public reserve that threatened houses in Oxford Street on Saturday and does not think they had any intention of causing so much damage.
International research cited by Mr Caddie confirms that the four most important things families can do to keep their young people out of trouble with the law are: spending quality time with them; knowing where they are and who they are with; getting them involved with positive social activities like sport, marae or church activities; and ensuring they are attending school.
“We have developed resources for families that remind them about these facts but many caregivers are struggling with a wide range of personal, financial and social issues that mean children can sometimes miss out on the level of care they need” said Mr Caddie.
“The government recently introduced its Breakaway Holiday Programme funding for community groups to provide activities for young people but these youth only need to come from general areas rather than targeting children we know come from families that may need extra support. The compliance requirements for the funding are so onerous that most neighbourhood level groups were excluded so its left to corporate style organisations who are not necessarily connected to the communities that need the service.”
Mr Caddie said he was approached by a local resident before Christmas about the risk that the reserve presented because of children playing unsupervised in the area. The resident had contacted Gisborne District Council to see if they were interested in clearing some of the scrub and putting in a playground or something but were told that wasn’t possible.
“When I contacted the Parks and Reserves Manager he was more than happy to meet with local residents and so some of the children who started the fire had helped distribute a flyer in letterboxes around the reserve to see if there were other residents keen to see something happen there.”
Mr Caddie said he was planning to follow-up with the residents about the reserve in the next month and hoped that now the fire had cleared the scrub and demonstrated the need for something more to be done in the reserve the residents could work with GDC and interested community groups to make something happen there.

My Priorities

These are the things I think are important and would strive to promote if I was elected to Council next year…

  1. A region that values the rich traditions and diversity of all its residents.
  2. A region of safe communities based on caring relationships between families.
  3. A region that fosters innovation, enterprise, the creative sectors and scientific discovery.
  4. A region that nurtures well-educated young people and leaves no one behind.
  5. A region that is a magnet for young families and values the contributions of older people.
  6. A region that will leave the natural environment better than we found it.
  7. A region that is committed to ensuring housing, energy and healthy food are affordable and that supports families to manage their finances wisely.
  8. A region that understands the importance of increasing the economic productivity and sustainability of agriculture, horticulture and forestry.
  9. A region that promotes the use of cycling and walking for most people making short journeys.
  10. A region that is well connected with the rest of the planet through low-cost, high-speed, internet access.
  11. A Council that encourages public participation in decision-making.
  12. A Council that is able to keep any rates increases at (or below) the rate of inflation while still providing quality services and infrastructure.

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:

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.

Adults Attitudes Challenged

Youth advocate Manu Caddie says statements made by Gisborne Citizens Civic Awards winner Murray Ferris, and endorsed by Mayor Meng Foon at the Awards Ceremony last week were typical of the unfortunate and unhelpful attitudes local adults held about young people.

Responding to the comments attributed to Mr Ferris in the Gisborne Herald, Manu Caddie said it was clear such comments demonstrated Mr Ferris had very little knowledge of the positive contributions local young people make to the community.

“Claiming we need to ‘kick some butt’ and blaming young people for being selfish is like blaming the victim for the crime” said Mr Caddie. “Children and young people simply reflect the values of the community in which they are raised. The contradictory messages young people get from the adult world do not make it easy to feel like valued members of their society.”

A survey of over 600 young people undertaken in 2003 revealed that less than one in ten local young people felt that anyone other than their friends and immediate family cared about their ideas or opinions.

In 2004 over 100 young people made submissions to the Gisborne District Council Long Term Council Community Plan simply asking to be acknowledged as full citizens. “Those requests were ignored in the final LTCCP document and now we wonder why young people don’t feature in awards to recognise citizenship” said Mr Caddie.

Mr Caddie said there are hundreds of examples of young people making significant contribution to their community everyday. He questioned how the Civic Awards were promoted and decided upon – what the criteria was, who the judges were and whether it was promoted to young people in a medium that they would respond to. “Not everyone reads the Public Notices – did they take the nomination information into schools, youth groups and organisations working with young people? Did they post information up at the Skate Park and on Bebo, and do young people need to be recognised by some Civic Awards ceremony to actually be making a positive contribution anyway?”

Mr Caddie thinks adults in the Gisborne community need to take a long hard look at the way young people are treated here – it’s not about giving them everything they want, nor about blaming young people for things beyond their control. Children and young people should be acknowledged as full citizens who have the same fundamental rights as everyone else. Young people have some responsibilities as members of a community and research demonstrates that when young people are taken seriously and not treated as second-class citizens they always step up to challenge.

“I attended a public meeting of over 40 people that was on at the same time as the Civic Awards ceremony, it included two local teenagers leading a 30 minute presentation on a United Nations Declaration passed this month. They were not rewarded for doing their research and the presentation, they did it because they care about the future of this country and their generation.”

Last week the Gisborne Herald featured two articles on local school students raising funds for projects overseas and one group going to serve a community in a developing country for a week.

Mr Caddie suggested local adults consider the Circle of Courage as a helpful way of thinking about positive youth development. This model is based on the traditions of the Lakota peoples in North America and suggests that every young person needs to experience four things as they grow up: (1) a sense of belonging and identity; (2) a sense of competence and mastery; (3) a sense of independence and responsibility for making their own choices and living with the consequences; and (4) a sense of generosity and making a meaningful contribution to the world around them.   

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)

Top of my Wish List

Top of my wish-list for what I would like to see happen with Council support:

COMMUNITY PLANS developed with residents for every settlement and suburb that wants one (e.g. Te Araroa, Tokomaru Bay, Wainui/Okitu, Kaiti, Whataupoko, Mangapapa, Matawai, etc.). These would be facilitated by a steering group of local residents with support from Council staff and other stakeholders (e.g. runanga, government agencies, business owners, etc.).

Each plan would include:

  • a Community Profile including a history of the community, an overview of the local demographics (age, ethnicity, gender, income levels, etc.) of residents, economic, environmental, cultural and social profiles.
  • Special Features of the particular community (physical features, demographic trends, etc.)
  • Heritage Register summarising assets of historical significance within the community that should be protected, cared for and/or promoted.
  • Critical Issues for the community under headings such as: local economy; community development; public services, recreation and facilities; and infrastructure.
  • Community Goals documenting the aspirations of community members for their suburb/settlement.
  • an Action Plan identifying priority activities that will assist residents to realise the stated goals and aspirations, who will take leadership and supporting roles, what resources are required and timeframes for completion of each task.

Council planning staff should have a key role in facilitating this process but it may be more appropriate for local residents to lead or to engage an independent facilitator from another community to coordinate.

These plans would provide clear messages to Council about local priorities and aspirations so that Council plans support the opportunities identified in the specific community plans.

  

Maori participation in local government

I think to start with we need to move on from representation and into active participation – by all sectors of the community, not just Maori. GDC has never had the adequate skill base, quality of relationships and cultural capital within the organisation to engage with Tangata Whenua in a mutually meaningful way.

Recognising the value to every local resident from real participation by Maori in decision-making is an important first step. Councillors and staff need to understand why this is important today and how critical it is for ensuring a positive future of the region.

Appreciating the essential relationship between Maori and local government will lead to employment of staff with different skills and an increased ability by Council to engage in ways that help make the organisation more relevant and responsive to Maori. Which will ultimately improve life for Maori and the rest of the community will benefit greatly as a result.