Archive for the ‘New Zealand politics’ 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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Dave Hansford, Protecting Paradise: 1080 and the fight to save New Zealand’s wildlife, Potton & Burton, 2016, 250pp, $34.99; reviewed by Don Franks

Along New Zealand roadsides, especially on the South Island’s west coast, are hammered hand painted signs. “1080 poisons our water”, “Kea killed in 1080 drop”, “1080 kills everything”.

The  accused 1080 is an organic salt, sodium monofluoraetate. First developed as a rodent killer during World War II by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1080 has since been in wide use for vertebrate pest control. The substance is spread in New Zealand today by the Department of Conservation (DOC), aimed at killing rodents preying on native plants and animals.

Some opponents claim 1080 does  (more…)

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…)

Kia ora koutou,

Fourteen quarry workers who took limited strike action last week in pursuit of pay parity with other workers in the industry have been locked out by their boss until Sunday, 12th August. You can support the locked out workers by donating to their hardship fund. Please follow the link here: https://together.nationbuilder.com/atlaslockout

For background, see here: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1808/S00079/quarry-owner-operator-locks-workers-out-of-work.htm

In solidarity – I roto i te kotahitanga

Malcolm Deans
Secretary, Unions Otago

Redline note: There’s a useful/informative article sympathetic to the workers in the Northern Advocate; see here.

by Don Franks

Former National leader Don Brash, invited to address a Massey university student club, was stopped by vice-chancellor Jan Thomas.  She canned the event after club members voiced concerns about safety. The university considered putting on extra security, then decided the risk of harm to students, staff and the public was too high.

Really?

Were anti-Brash protesters going to rock up with guns? (more…)

The interview below was conducted with members of the rank-and-file Health Sector Workers Network who belong to the nurses’ union (the NZNO).

Philip Ferguson: What have been the key issues in the nurses’ dispute with the DHBs?

Health Sector Workers Network actvists: They really are two-fold.

There are the issues around safe staffing, which with chronic staff shortages, have seen Nurses, Midwives and HCAs working in dangerously unsafe working environments.  In many worksites, particularly the Emergency Departments and Mental Health facilities, there are daily incidents of verbal and physical abuse and assault of staff.

The ability to give excellent patient care without the need for care rationing will only be possible with more staff and clear patient-staff ratios.

Pay equity is the other important issue that members are passionate about.  The need to have remunerations that reflect skills and responsibilities is essential.  We need staff retention and the ability to attract new people to the profession.  If this doesn’t occur, Nurses, Midwives and HCAs will look elsewhere for better wages and conditions, like jumping the ditch to Australia.  Already nurses are leaving on an almost daily basis, resulting in chronic staff shortages and if these issues aren’t addressed it will only get worse.

PF: How successful has the industrial action been?

HSWN: There have been mixed feelings on the success of the strike action.  Due to this dispute being (more…)

Mike Treen, a long time activist and leader of Unite union, was taking part in a flotilla loaded with medicines for the people of Gaza under a ten year blockade. Yesterday he was  was tasered, kidnapped and injured by Israeli Occupation forces who stormed the boat. He is being held in Israel in a prison.

Mike Treen

Unite trade union national director and veteran socialist activist Mike Treen

Kia Ora Gaza, the solidarity group which arranged Mike’s participation in the flotilla, is calling on the government to condemn the Israeli government for its actions. Winston Peters has been acting PM and is a supporter of Israel. From midnight today Jacinda Ardern resumes her role as PM. Will she prove to be less mute and disgraceful than Peters? We think not.

Below are reports from Kia Ora Gaza on Mike’s situation and the fate of the flotilla to Gaza:

Mike Treen repeatedly tasered by Israeli Occupation Forces, other injured and hospitalised

UPDATE (11:48am 31st July NZ time)   

We have now received a direct report from Mike in Givon Prison.

He was tasered repeatedly by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) while in the wheelhouse of the Al Awda and subsequently tightly handcuffed. He received injuries to his face and head and was bleeding but is now recovering.

Of Mike’s fellow flotilla members one was tasered in the head, a 69-year-old female surgeon received a head injury and a senior Canadian passenger received a foot injury and had to be treated in hospital.

The IOF takeover of the boat conducted by armed and masked soldiers was clearly violent with many passengers and crew assaulted, roughly handled and hit. 

Local civil rights lawyers met with all those detained a few hours ago. All their belongings, including their passports have been seized and not returned, despite promises they would if they co-operated.

Despite KiaOra Gaza contacting the New Zealand Hon. Consul in Tel Aviv requesting assistance we are unaware of any contact, visit or action from the New Zealand Government or its representatives to assist.

(update at 4pm Monday 31st July – The Honorary Consul has now been to see Mike. Winston Peters has responded to the letters sent to him but the Government has taken no specific action apart from alerting the Cairo embassy to Mike’s situation).

The next flotilla boat, the “Freedom” continues to approach Gaza.

Previous report (6.15am 31st July NZ time)

Eyewitnesses report that Unite Union leader Mike Treen’s boat was hijacked in a violent raid and that he and the rest of the crew are being held in Givon prison, near Tel Aviv.