Archive for the ‘New Zealand history’ Category

by Don Franks 

jail_5“New Zealand has one of the highest imprisonment rates in the world, second only to the United States, with over 5000 people currently in our 17 prisons. We could be excused for thinking the problem is huge, too big too handle …”

Social reformer Celia Lashlie wrote that in 2002. Today, 10,645 inmates are crammed inside 18 overflowing jails.

Successive government policies paved the way for this massive increase. (more…)

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by Daphna Whitmore

Maori language week has just concluded and it felt like there was a lot more buzz around it this year. From media commentators, to friends, family and workmates more people are talking about learning Maori and plenty are brushing up on pronunciation. There are still debates in the media about whether to have Maori as a compulsory subject in schools or to keep it optional; either way a lot more teachers and resources are needed.

The Maori Language Commission called on people to support the revitalisation of the language: “Strength for an endangered language comes from its status, people being aware of and actively supporting its revitalisation, and through people learning and using the language. The language also grows by developing new words so that people have the right words and terms to use, for today and for future generations.”

What I haven’t seen is discussion of what the prognosis is when a language is no longer the mother tongue. No amount of funding and resource can transform the fact that Maori is the first language of a shrinking elderly population. The new generation of Maori speakers have English as their first language. Statistics NZ in 2013 estimates there were approximately 50,000 (11 %) Māori adults who could speak Māori well or very well. Many of the very fluent speakers were over 65 years old.   (more…)

by Don Franks

A just-released Salvation Army-commissioned survey of over 1000 New Zealanders showed 45 per cent of them went without heating last year, due to cost. Doctors’ visits were not made by 44 per cent because they couldn’t afford it. 

Manager for the Salvation Army’s welfare services, Jono Bell, said his first response to the figures was disbelief. 

“But on reflection, I thought, actually the numbers are not too dissimilar from what we are seeing on the frontlines,” Bell said. 

“It’s not just beneficiaries but people in our community who are working are still not making ends meet and are being forced to choose. It is a widespread problem.”  Bell said it was wrong working families were being forced to choose between food, housing and heat. 

“Some of the numbers have serious implications,” he said.

“People can’t heat their homes, so they are getting sick more often, so they have to go to the doctor but can’t afford it.  More medicine is required so they are having to make a choice between medicine and food.  And then there’s the house prices on top of that.”

 In the same week as the Salvation Army survey, an alternative opinion was published in the New Zealand Herald, by one of the economy’s most  (more…)

It’s easy to have woman working and stay at home dad when the woman is being paid over $470,000 a year; but what about poor families?

by Don Franks

NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s bearing of a baby while in office has understandably launched many words.

Michelle Duff writing in the NZ Herald enthused: “When her partner Clarke Gayford is excited about being a stay at home dad, it’s equally inspirational.

“It sets a precedent.  It normalises powerful women and nurturing, caring men.  It decimates outdated ideals of where a mother ‘should’ be – at home, with the children, while dad earns the money.  It smashes those boring boxes and makes room for new shapes, new ways we can all live our lives.

“It creates a conversation about (more…)

by Don Franks

“Half the Māori prison population are gang members … whom no-one wants to see given a break.” 

Lines from Jim Rose’s article: “Extra prisoners are nearly all gang members – that’s hardly a crisis”, in Wellington’s May 29th Dominion PostScreen Shot 2018-05-29 at 7.09.47 PM

Jim Rose concludes:

“Gang members are not Māori single mums struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table who were driven to a bit of shoplifting by the legacy of 175 years of colonisation.

“They are hardened criminals pursuing a life of crime outside and inside prison. They have no excuses.”

In other words, a proportion of Maori are inherently evil, irredeemable and deserving of absolutely nothing. 

In a civilised country, how can a mainstream newspaper print Rose’s dehumanising racist agitation? Why do readers tolerate it? (more…)

Pic: Rosa Woods/Stuff

by Don Franks

Delivering her pre-Budget speech to a Business New Zealand audience, Labour prime minister Ardern said business confidence was “the elephant in the room”.

Business confidence has apparently been low since the new government took office. A business confidence survey conducted by NZIER found businesses had become pessimistic about economic outlook for the first time in two years after Labour assumed office.

There is no need to worry.

Over the last hundred and two years, Labour has demonstrated a loyalty to capitalism that can’t really be faulted. During the 1951 waterfront workers lockout, possibly the most tense class standoff after the land wars in New Zealand history, Labour delivered for the class they have always answered to. “Labour is neither for nor against the watersiders,” party leader Walter (later Sir Walter) Nash declared.

The pattern of behaviour continued in later years, all down the line.

Following the stock market crash of October, 1987 capitalism was in trouble. State-owned enterprises started (more…)