Hoping Hēkia’s here to help


I appreciated the opportunity that Minister of Education Hekia Parata provided last week for local school Board of Trustees and Principals to meet with her.

The Minister has been passionate about the benefits of education for a long time and it is exciting to see someone born on the Coast in such a senior position again.

I was excited to hear about developments in governance coming out of the Christchurch situation. Ten years ago the Kiwa Education Partnership discussed a campus-based approach to schooling in Gisborne but it doesn’t seem to have eventuated. Cluster governance makes sense when we think about a village raising a child and a seamless transition between early childhood education, primary and secondary schooling.

It was somewhat reassuring to hear the Minister say she doesn’t see any need to link performance-based pay to National Standards. One of the big fears in low decile schools is that such a policy could see highly skilled teachers moving to schools where more students have participated in quality early childhood education and have better access to support for their learning. Advice from Treasury officials also reject pay based on test scores.

Ministry of Education research shows that students from poorer communities generally have slower progress than their peers – the level of material resources available to families, health problems, substance abuse and conflict, all have a deep impact on the ability of students to attend school and learn. If pay is based on the rate of progression, this may also disadvantage teachers and communities where progression is slower because of external influences.

High student expectations from parents and teachers is essential and building strong partnerships between home and school is one of the most important things we can do.

Class sizes do have a major impact on student achievement and the secondary teachers current collective agreement limits class size to no more than 26 students. While it may save money to squeeze more kids into each class, we should expect learning to be compromised.

Though it seems to go against the whole basis of the National Standards her government pushed through in their last term, I was pleased to hear the Minister acknowledge that one size doesn’t fit all and progression in learning and achievement levels should be ‘flexible’.

It was also reassuring to hear the Minister sees inequality as a major issue that the country needs to address – both in terms of educational achievement and socio-economic status. Of course we are yet to see what the plan is for addressing the growing inequalities, fuelled in part by some massive tax cuts for those of us who least need them while future generations are being burdened with government loans from China.

Schools are not solely responsible for addressing every issue facing kids – neither is central government, nor parents or the wider community. But together each stakeholder has an important part to play in pulling together the pieces of the puzzle.

Beginning a ‘conversation’ on what the goals should be and how as a community and country we can achieve them is an admirable and pragmatic approach for any new Minister. I hope the commitment to a mutually meaningful dialogue is genuine and key stakeholders all have a real opportunity to shape the direction of education in New Zealand. Tough choices have to be made all the time by those wielding power in public but including all of the people most affected by decisions in the process is essential for good results to be achieved and enduring.

Manu Caddie is Chairperson of a school Board of Trustees but these views do not necessarily reflect those of the school staff, whānau or BOT.

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

– Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

In this scene Juliet insists that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, that she loves the person and asks Romeo to reject his family name and instead be “new baptised” as Juliet’s lover.

Of course we know names are important, and the motivation for either lover to discard their family name was in part the conflict associated with the political struggle between their families.

The contest between place names around the world has usually been about political and cultural power. Of course these days it doesn’t have to be just one or the other name that is officially sanctioned.

Māori brought names from other places in Polynesia and bestowed those on physical features of these islands, and as settlement expanded the places were named and renamed according to significant people, events and stories associated with the location.

Early Europeans displaced most of the original Māori names with their own, although many original names have survived, mostly in the “North Island”. But similar to Māori, European settlers (re)named places after the areas, people and events that were special to them.

The Royal Geographical Society of London was responsible for approving place names until 1894 when authority was given to the New Zealand Governor-General. In 1946 the New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) was established and given power to change or implement Māori and English names.

Anyone can propose a geographical name to the board, who consult local Māori and allow public submissions before determining if the name should be made official.

The NZGB encourages the use of original Māori names and has given some places official double names. For example either Mount Taranaki or Mount Egmont can be used, and dual names can be approved where both names should be used together for example Matiu / Somes Island. In 1998, as a result of the settling of the Ngai Tahu Treaty claim, the county’s tallest mountain, officially became Aoraki / Mount Cook.

The NZGB can alter the local authority names for a district or region over which a territorial authority or regional council has jurisdiction. Only local authorities can propose alterations to their district and region names.

I floated the idea of the Gisborne District Council name change at the Community Development Committee last week and had a few supporters around the table, but I doubt the majority of my colleagues are ready to entertain the idea just yet. There would need to be a strong, coherent and consistent message from a wide cross section of the public for any Council to lead that process.

I suspect changing Poverty Bay should be a bit easier – while we all have some emotional connection to its use in organisation names, the bay and the flats, it is a branding nightmare for the region that has to be sorted out.

Dame Anne Salmond notes that Captain James Cook was told the name of the bay was Oneroa, meaning ‘sweeping sandy beaches’, which makes sense and subject to sufficient local support, would be much easier to utilise in promoting our beautiful location to prospective visitors, migrants and investors.

Many locals would prefer Māori names that have more historical and cultural significance than Gisborne. Similarly, while the Colonial Secretary Mr Gisborne may never visited the place named in his honour, the name ‘Gisborne’ now has a lot of meaning and emotional attachment for many people with connections here.

I’m confident we can keep the sweetness of both the rose and the kumara by having two official names.

Māori Land & Council Rates

By the end of last year, Gisborne District Council was owed about $3.5m in overdue rates on Maori land. Council recently agreed to the establishment of a working group to focus on the issues relating to Maori land and rates.

As it turns out, central government also has a group working on the issues, as have many governments before the current one. In fact 80 years ago Sir Apirana Ngata and the Prime Minister, George Forbes, established a joint committee to inquire into the question of unpaid rates on Māori land. The committee found significant areas of land had no rateable value and recommended local authorities to remove such areas from valuation rolls. The committee visited a number of the development schemes on Māori land that Ngata had initiated and the members were impressed with the productivity gains generated off these blocks.

These schemes assisted in a wide range of successful cooperatives operating on the East Coast, enabled Māori to retain ownership and created thousands of jobs.

The Waitangi Tribunal suggests that rates “were initially introduced as a tool of local government to meet its own infrastructure needs and those of settlers, rather than in response to what Māori may have wanted.”

Before 1893 the law did not allow Māori land to be sold to cover rating debts and central government reimbursed local authorities for unpaid rates on Māori land (that it turns out had been grossly overvalued). From 1910, nearly all Māori land became rateable unless held under customary title. In 1924, responsibility for rates recovery was shifted to the Māori Land Court. From then on, if arrears accrued against the land, it could be the subject of a charging order by the court, and placed in receivership or trust for lease or sale.

From 1950 to 1970, new legislation extended the powers of the court to force the development of ‘unproductive’ Māori land that had not been able to pay rates. The Waitangi Tribunal has found that a major effect of legislation introduced during this period seems to have been to boost the use of receivership as a means of rates enforcement.

The whole concept of local government rates has its philosophical origin in European legal theory that all land is ultimately held by the Crown. However, in New Zealand the question has persistently arisen in the development of rating law as to whether land not held by the Crown, but rather held by Maori in customary tenure, should be subject to rates. Council’s Whenua Rahui policy recognises this issue to some degree.

Since the 2007 Local Government Rates Inquiry there has been a shift and valuations for rating purposes make some small concession for the complexities of Māori land tenure and specify this on rates demands.

Dr Api Mahuika has advocated establishment of a Ngāti Porou local government district – some of my colleagues might support this proposal given the high cost of maintaining roads across such a large area and the large proportion of unpaid rates coming from the northern part of the district. Of course such a proposal is unlikely to be within the scope of our working group but it seems a similar emphasis on self-determination is the basis of the Tuhoe position on Te Urewera, as it was for Gandhi before Britain quit India. There are myriad examples of semi-autonomous governance arrangements around the world, so hopefully these local questions eventually get the full consideration they deserve.

The new Council working group will meet next month to determine the Terms of Reference and will no doubt welcome key stakeholders in the discussions and potential solutions. Watch this space!

Māori Representation

At the risk of being called a sore loser, I think it’s useful to outline in more detail than the couple of lines possible in a newspaper story why I support the establishment of Māori wards for Gisborne District Council.

While the majority of Gisborne District councilors rejected the option last month, it is exciting to see that both Waikato Regional Council and Nelson City Council (unanimously) have followed Bay of Plenty Regional Council and chosen to establish Māori wards.

There seem to be two or three main reasons people don’t like the idea of Māori wards for Gisborne District Council.

The first is the suggestion that Māori wards will mean less representation for rural residents. The argument goes that the wards will be so large it will be hard for elected members to get around. By all accounts, BOP Regional Council’s very successful Māori wards arrangement has at least one ward larger than the whole Gisborne District. Our GDC staff proposal was to have two or three Māori wards, thereby keeping the ward sizes small enough.

In addition, the proposal would mean that rural residents have twice as many councilors responsible for their area as there would be two not one councilor covering every rural area. This would result in  more choice of councilors to contact and twice as much representation for both Māori and general electors. There is also a strong argument for what is currently Matakaoa ward to be considered isolated which would mean at least two general wards on the coast and one Māori.

Another criticism of Māori wards is that it doesn’t guarantee people with mana whenua (ancestral connections) to the area would be elected. The last census showed however that 90% of Māori residing in the district have affiliations with at least one iwi within Gisborne District Council boundaries and if Tūhoe and Te Whānau-a-Apanui are included it rises to around 99%.

So, it is highly unlikely that anyone standing for a Māori seat would not be connected to local iwi and boundaries for wards have been suggested as running along the Waimata River that usually demarcates the boundary between Ngāti Porou and Turanga iwi.

One of my main concerns with the GDC decision was that Māori in particular, but also the wider public, had not been properly consulted on the intention to reject Māori wards. Under the Local Government Act there are some pretty clear rules for ensuring proper consultation on these kinds of decisions. A number of Māori groups were informed that Council intended to make a decision but the information exchange was minimal. Māori certainly had little, if any, opportunity to take the proposals back to their communities to discuss and have input on the final decision.

Of course, really motivated residents could organise another petition and collect the necessary 1,517 valid voter signatures by the end of February.  I’m not sure however that enough people think this issue is a priority to give up their summer holidays for. As the saying goes, we get the government we deserve and I can live with that if others don’t think it is a priority.

A final argument is that Māori wards are divisive, unfair and even racist. Of course over the last 40 years much progress has been made at a national level in recognising the special status of Maori as indigenous peoples. International acknowledgment of the value of protecting the unique cultures of human civilization has enabled national legislation and policies designed to ensure indigenous peoples maintain customs, language and some semblance of control over natural resources. These have been required as for hundreds of years settler societies have imposed majoritarian systems of decision-making and resource allocation. These settler systems have usually overlooked or dismissed the interests of indigenous peoples who by design, tradition or choice have remained on the margins of local governance systems.

Grace Under Fire

242 years ago this week, the Endeavour dropped anchor just off Kaiti Beach and so began contact between the British and Māori.

45 years later the first British missionaries arrived in the Bay of Islands and began their work of ministering to the Europeans and converting Māori.

A controversial legacy of evangelism in these islands meant missionaries were forced to choose sides between those they were called to minister to and the dictates of settlers and their government. Missionary roles in the drafting, promotion and signing tours of versions of Te Tiriti o Waitangi have also been hotly debated.

William Williams held the first service in Tairawhiti in 1834 and in the same month the Treaty was signed he acquired for the Church Missionary Society a large area of the Poverty Bay flats from Turanga Maori.

Thomas Grace arrived at Manutuke in 1850 and quickly found himself offside with speculators and land grabbers who were acquiring and grazing land under dubious terms. Grace also noted that local Māori received from settlers only half the price paid to Europeans for produce and livestock.

Challenging these and other discriminatory practices meant Grace fell out with the local settlers and fellow missionaries who accused him of ‘stirring up strife between the Maori and the settlers’. Grace walked from Gisborne to Tauranga then caught a boat to Auckland to defend the charge only to find the meeting had dealt with the issue just before he arrived!

The church hierarchy provided little support to Grace and he went on to continue challenging the practices of settlers and questioning the role of the church in the rapacious process of colonisation.

Grace’s biography is available in the HB Williams Memorial Library and provides a fitting tribute to a man dedicated to his calling and the best traditions of Christian faith.

Fishermen rubbish Petrobras claims of regular meetings

Alexandre Anderson after being shot in the leg by gunmen connected to Petrobras and its contractors

Following the Petrobras response to recent deaths of workers published on 30 August I contacted the fishermen of  Guanabara Bay to check the company claim that:

“Petrobras maintains regular dialogue with the fishing communities in Guanabara Bay, holding monthly meetings to address issues related to the quality of life of those involved.”

Members of Associação Homens do Mar da Baía de Guanabara (AHOMAR) a union of around 700 fishermen and their families provided the following comments in response to the Petrobras claims of regular meetings.

President of AHOMAR, Alexandre Anderson, says “There is no dialogue between Petrobras and the fishing communities affected by it. Instead we only see threats and violence. Today we are victims of a new modality that Petrobras and major contractors has been promoting in Rio de Janeiro, which is the practice of “social exclusion”!

Mr Anderson also suggests Petrobras provides no compensation for the damage it causes, uses physical and psychological threats against local opposition and does not respect the laws of the country.

Amnesty International has taken up the case of the fishermen after the Treasurer of their association was assassinated in 2009 in front of his wife and children. Paulo César dos Santos Souza was beaten in his home in Magé by armed men who then dragged him outside and shot him five times in the head. A few hours earlier armed men threatened the protesting fishermen at the Petrobras pipeline worksite. Before they killed Santos Souza they interrogated him, asking him about documents belonging to AHOMAR.

Alexandre Anderson himself has escaped eight attempts on his life and has been hit by gunfire but has survived to date. Two of the gunmen have been caught and at least one admitted his connection to Petrobras and its contractors. Mr Anderson claims that often the gunmen are off-duty Police as the work pays well and even where there is an investigation very rarely is anyone prosecuted.

Mr Anderson told me this week, “We will resist until the last fisherman since we have no alternative but to fight for our rights even if it takes our lives.”

Maicon Alexandre contradicts Petrobras claims of monthly meetings with fishermen in Guanabara Bay: “With Petrobras there is no dialogue! The company does not respect the traditional fishing communities and Petrobras excludes our communities! Petrobras is criminal, we have no dialogue with it! The only dialogue from Petrobras are threats.”

Daize Menezes, the wife of a fisherman, said: “There is no dialogue by Petrobras. The dialogue is only threats, gunmen, bombs, helicopters, fear and death. There are socially and environmentally responsible companies but Petrobras is not one of them.”

If Petrobras have them, perhaps they can provide us with more details on their “regular dialogue” including copies of minutes including dates, locations, people present, issues discussed and outcomes achieved from the monthly meetings they claim take place between their company and the fishermen of Guanabara Bay.

There are some 50 areas of conflict between Petrobras and indigenous  communities in Brazil and the connections between these communities and East Coast communities are strengthening every day.

GDC & Māori Representation

I’m presenting a short talk during a session on Local Government & Māori Representation at the 2011 Diversity Forum hosted by the NZ Human Rights Commission.

I’ll put the presentation up when its finished – a reference I’ve used is this extract from a 2009 report by historian Jane Luiten on the establishment and disestablishment of the Tangata Whenua Standing Committee:

GDC and Tangata Whenua Standing Committee

 

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

WAI262 Report ‘Insulting’

Maori men and women congregate outside the Rotorua courthouse on election day in 1908.

A Gisborne District Councillor says the WAI262 Report is tokenistic and very disappointing. “This report was expected to provide clarity on property rights for Māori, but instead presents a series of schizophrenic findings and recommendations” said Manu Caddie, who is a member of the Gisborne District Council RMA Hearings Committee and the Environment & Policy Committee.

While the report suggests Māori do not have ownership of indigenous flora, fauna and knowledge – the Tribunal found that Māori have ‘kaitiaki obligations’ that should be protected in law.

“The recommendations relating to establishing better mechanisms for iwi and hapū to have input on resource management planning and decision-making are tokenistic and insulting.”

“Article Two of the Treaty clearly says Māori have “undisturbed and exclusive possession of the land, estates and forests” until such time as they choose to relinquish such possession. Through the 20 something years of this claim, Māori have argued they never surrendered their rights to indigenous resources but this report has found otherwise.”

“The Crown set up and controls the Tribunal funding, appointments and its procedures. The Tribunal has effectively denigrated Māori to associated people who have “important knowledge” with entitlement to a “reasonable degree of protection” over flora and fauna. The report found that the Crown “either deliberately or through neglect, has largely supported one of New Zealand’s two founding cultures at the expense of the other” but goes on to recommend a whole lot of mechanisms whereby the Crown can acquire and control Māori intellectual resources not already under its control.”

Mr Caddie, who recently became an accredited decision-maker under Section 39 of the RMA , does support the Tribunal findings that, for the RMA regime to more effectively support kaitiaki relationships, engagement between tangata whenua and local authorities needed to become compulsory, formal, and proactive.

The report recommends the development of a system allowing kaitiaki priorities for the environment to be integrated into local authority decision-making. This system should be built around enhanced ‘iwi resource management plans’ setting out iwi policies and priorities for managing the environment within their tribal areas. These plans should be negotiated with local authorities and, once finalised, should bind local authority decision-making just as regional policy statements, regional plans, and district plans do. For this system to work, the report suggests the Crown will need to provide resources to allow iwi to obtain scientific, legal and other expertise necessary for the development of their plans.

“The Tribunal found that Māori communities do not have the capacity to overcome the obstacles to their effective participation in the RMA system because there are no reliable and sufficient sources of assistance available to Māori.”

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Response to Nick Smith’s announcement on new oceans bill

MEDIA RELEASE

2 June 2011

A vocal critic of government policy on offshore drilling in the Raukumara Basin says he cautiously welcomes the announcement that a new bill will be introduced this year to establish regulations on minerals exploration and extraction beyond the Territorial Sea.

District Councillor Manu Caddie says the proposal announced by Minister for the Environment Nick Smith is a big step in the right direction.

“I take issue with his statement that what happens beyond the 12 mile limit has less effect on local communities, a large oil or gas leak in the EEZ would have a massive impact on the Coast.”

Mr Caddie says that provided the legislation has provisions at least as robust as the Resource Management Act, he believes it is a positive development.

“It is pleasing to see that where a proposed activity spans the boundary between the territorial sea and EEZ, local government would have a joint role with the EPA in decision-making.

“The devil will be in the detail in terms of things like a substantial bond can be put in place before any drilling starts in case something goes wrong. We have seen overseas when a major spill happens the issue can be tied up in court for decades and the taxpayer foots the cleanup bill and no one is held to account. Requiring a billion dollar bond up front seems fair to me and should be easy to do for companies with a good reputation.”

Mr Caddie says he is also concerned about the process the EPA will use for determining what activities are determined to be permitted, discretionary or prohibited. “The Minister says seismic testing is likely to be permitted but we will make sure the EPA has access to evidence demonstrating the significant impact seismic testing has on some marine life during their regulation-setting decisions.”

“This proposal obviously doesn’t address the fundamental issue of fossil fuel extraction and the problems that creates for the country and the planet.”

ENDS

Reality check…

Whangaparāoa SH35

 

Opinion Piece: 7 April 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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:

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.

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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.

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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.

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!