Cr Gwynn Compton welcomes local government review, urges bold ideas and action

Kāpiti Coast District Councillor and local government reform advocate Gwynn Compton, has welcomed the announcement of a review into local government. He is urging the review to come up with bold ideas to tackle the systemic issues facing the sector and for all options to be on the table, including amalgamations.

“As we’ve seen over the past year, local government is at breaking point — often literally — so it’s great to see the need for systemic reform is being taken seriously,” says Cr Compton.

“With big reforms like Three Waters and the Resource Management Act set to radically change local government, having a concurrent process for reviewing the role, structure, and financing of local government to ensure it’s fit-for-purpose in a post-reform world is vital.

“This review means we can start having conversations with our communities and mana whenua about how we best address the challenges we’re collectively facing. We need to reimagine local democracy and I urge the review to be bold when it comes to making recommendations on what the future of local government looks like.”

One specific area where Cr Compton is urging the review to be bold is around the possibility of council amalgamations.

“With centralisation of water services in the pipeline and planning regionalisation being drawn up through the new RMA framework, council amalgamations must be on the table. We need to ensure local communities have elected representation and accountability at the point where key decisions are being made, as well as having councils that are large enough to be effective and efficient in meeting the needs of their communities.

“Likewise, over the past decade we’ve seen Auckland’s amalgamation — a process started by the Fifth Labour Government [of Helen Clark] — transform the city’s fortunes. Meanwhile in Wellington, the region has struggled in comparison with the numerous attempts at voluntary coordination across the region being plagued by an inability to deliver a coherent strategic vision, let alone tangible results.

“For example, what happens in Wellington City has a direct impact on the Kāpiti Coast, and will do even more so once Transmission Gully opens. Having a joint committee, with no powers sitting over the top of nine councils, plus Horowhenua District Council, to deal with the region’s growth is a stop gap solution. Amalgamation absolutely needs to be on the cards given the challenges facing the region and benefits we’ve seen it bring for Auckland.”

While Cr Compton called for a different type of inquiry via a Royal Commission, he’s encouraging those wanting local government reform to grab this opportunity with both hands.

“The scale of challenges facing the sector are so immense that we need to make the most of this opportunity. I encourage everyone who wants better local government and democracy in Aotearoa to get involved.”

The above represents the personal views of Cr Compton and are not necessarily those of Kāpiti Coast District Council.

The official Beehive announcement of the review is here

getting a Balanced History curriculum

This article by Roger Childs was actually encouraged by the Pou Tiaki editor / national correspondent for Stuff. But then she rejected it saying that the issues Roger raised had already been covered — which was nonsense. So here it is for our discerning readers.

Students should learn about the good and the bad in our history

Most countries make learning about their past compulsory, so there was general approval when the prime minister announced in 2019 that our Year 1 to 10 students would study New Zealand history as a required part of the curriculum from 2022. The challenge for the developers would be in the detail – what would children from ages 5 to 14 actually learn about their country’s story, and what skills and understandings would they develop?

The coverage of our history over 10 years of schooling needs to be comprehensive, accurate and balanced. In looking at our past we New Zealanders have plenty to be proud of, but there have been darker times which students need to know about. 

Learners should study the musket wars as well as participation in United Nations peace-keeping missions; the extermination of the moa as well as establishing national parks; damaging the environment as well as building infrastructure; the Chinese poll tax as well as the Social Security Act; sweated labour as well as equal pay legislation.

Missing the boat

In the draft Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories in the New Zealand Curriculum the developers have missed the boat. They have produced a document that obviously reflects their own thinking about how to interpret our past, but it is generally expressed in language which is too complex and academic. 

The prescription should outline the coverage, skills, understandings and important ideas in terms that children and parents can clearly understand. 

What would students make of the third big idea: The course of Aotearoa New Zealand’s history has been shaped by the exercise and effects of power?  Perhaps a good topic for a PhD thesis, but not for school pupils aged 5 to 15.

Key understandings in the study of history

Fundamental to the effective study of history is being able to answer these questions:

  • What is the difference between fact and opinion?
  • What are the sources of history?
  • Why is evidence so important?
  • History is a search for truth but how do you know what is true?

Students also need to learn that the record of the past can change as new sources and evidence come to light. One of the most delightful history definitions comes from Oxford Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto: History shifts as you look at it. It twists and coils into unexpected shapes: suddenly, rapidly, continuously like a snake darting between stones

Another vital understanding learners need to appreciate is that there are different viewpoints about our history. 

For some the New Zealand Wars were about a fight for sovereignty and land; for others they were a series of rebellions against the government. 

Examining some of the more contentious issues in our country’s story could be part of the prescription in Years 9 and 10. For example:

  • Did the chiefs who signed the Tiriti o Waitangi cede sovereignty to the British Crown?
  • To what extent did Christianity change Maori values?
  • Was colonisation destructive or beneficial for Maori?
  • Did the Gallipoli campaign build a sense of New Zealand identity?
  • Should New Zealand have taken part in the Vietnam War?

In the draft, there is an emphasis on the stories that are told about our past. Oral history can accurately reflect the past, but it can be unreliable. Learners need to be taught how to distinguish between the two.

An over-emphasis on things Maori

Much of the Draft for Consultation is heavily weighted towards Maori history, development and language. The three “national contexts” are all expressed in Te Reo with no translation. In the Rohe and local contexts section the first statement asks: What stories do local iwi and hapu tell about their history in this rohe? 

In the identifying and critiquing sources and perspectives section students are required to pay deliberate attention to matauranga, Maori sources and approaches. Then throughout the knowledge sections and questions to guide inquiry, Maori examples predominate.

Obviously the history, legacy and culture of Maori and their Polynesian forbears are very important, but this is just one significant strand in the rich tapestry of our heritage.

Who are the customers?

It is vital that the formulators of the final curriculum remind themselves of who the customers are. They are New Zealand kids with a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Maori students make up approximately 20% of school children with both Maori and non-Maori forebears. The other 80% have origins ranging from Britain, Ireland, Europe, South Africa and the United States to India, China, The Middle East, Samoa and Tonga. 

Fundamentally they are all Kiwi kids who share a love of family, friends, food, enjoyment, the outdoors, sport, national teams, culture, modern technology and entertainment. 

New Zealand’s past is the story of the country they live in, regardless of where they come from.

The history they learn should be a comprehensive study of the nation’s mix of migrations and settlement; interactions and conflicts; triumphs and tragedies; problems and progress; leaders and movements; unity and diversity. They need to learn the full New Zealand story and develop appropriate history skills along the way.

‘Dominion Post’ print circulation was down 30% last year

Its digital audience loss was smaller so overall readership was down 14.6%. The same trend applies across the whole Stuff stable.

Full details for this and the rest of the country’s legacy print media are on the Roy Morgan readership survey comparing 2019 and 2020 here

As reported, Waikanae Watch‘s audience in 2020 was 55% up over 2019,

man claims Pepsi Max, milk and mango chutney all tested positive for coronavirus

Fact checkers claim it’s due to acidity.

A man who says he tested numerous household items for COVID-19 claims that Pepsi Max, milk and mango chutney all came up positive.

The individual contacted to relate how he tested seven different items using lateral flow tests.

Three gave a negative result, one gave a void, with the other three producing a positive result.

“I make that a false positive rate of 43%, or 50% if you remove the voided result from the sample,” stated the reader.

Water tea, and the man’s own saliva came back negative, Lee & Perrins sauce gave a void, but Pepsi Max, milk and mango chutney all came up positive for SARS-CoV-2.

“Obviously, I am not going to report these staggering results, but maybe I’m looking for a conspiracy in the wrong area… Maybe the real bombshell is that Cv-19 is being spread through cola, cow’s milk and curry condiments,” he joked.

This is by no means the first time non-humans have apparently tested positive for coronavirus.

In May last year, Tanzania President John Magufuli said a goat and a pawpaw fruit tested positive for COVID-19 after samples were sent to lab technicians.

Magufuli subsequently claimed that the false positives proved “some people were being tested positive when in fact they were not infected by the coronavirus,” reported Reuters.

Fact checkers claim that the false positives are a result of things like Coca-Cola and fruit juice breaking the test because they are too acidic – although this doesn’t explain why milk or a goat would test positive.

The reliability of lateral flow (PCR) tests has been a subject of hot debate, with the UK government claiming they are 99.9% accurate.

However, as the British Medical Journal noted, “Early results from students testing at the University of Birmingham and universities in Scotland showed that tests had a sensitivity of just 3% and that 58% of positive test results were false.”

(original article on Summit News)

Waikanae Postshop and Kiwibank franchise on the market

Owner Steve Burley has lived on the Kapiti Coast for quite a number of years, but is planning to move to Taupo where he already has property and another business. The Mahara Place Postshop is now the last full service postshop in Kapiti (including being open on Saturday mornings) and Steve wants it to stay as such.

With the other banks slowly withdrawing services and reducing hours, the accompanying KiwiBank branch may soon be the last operating bank in Waikanae in the next year or two also.

Steve tells us he has already had buyer interest, however, “it requires the right buyer and I’m very fussy.”

Waikanae’s newest food outlet

Sushimi in Mahara Lane now occupies the premises that the Sunday Cantina did until a few weeks ago. The primary fare is sushi and the name might look like a play on ‘Sushi for Me’, but it is a variant spelling of sashimi, and we are told it is also a family name. As you may expect, the owner has Japanese roots.

We can truthfully say it’s some of the the best sushi we’ve ever tasted, and with the Japanese having among the World’s longest lifespans, it must be good for you too. 🙂

Reckless health restructure removes local voice

(National Party media release)

Replacing all District Health Boards across the country will see our regions and smaller communities lose their voice and their autonomy, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Our regions know what works for them when it comes to keeping their communities healthy, and that isn’t always having Wellington dictate terms.

“Removing DHBs is similar to when Regional Health Authorities were centralised; it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

“The Government should be looking to maintain regional identities and exploring the consolidation of some functions across DHBs, like asset management, not getting rid of them entirely.

“We have no idea how much this plan will cost, how long it will take to implement, or how disruptive this process is going to be.

“The Labour Government’s track record of delivery is poor, and it’s yet to prove it can implement large projects, such as this one.

“Health New Zealand will likely end up as just another bureaucracy that governments will have to fund, instead of investing the money where it’s needed most.

“National believes whoever has the greatest needs should receive the appropriate resources. We know Māori have the greatest inequity across health, and therefore greater needs across many health metrics.

“But we do not support a separate Māori Health Authority as it runs the risk of a fragmented two-tier system. On one hand Health Minister Andrew Little claims he’s trying to create a single, harmonious, joined-up health system and on the other he’s creating a two-tiered funding system based on race.

“This radical restructure couldn’t have come at a worse time. New Zealand is undergoing three critical mass vaccination programmes, including our Covid-19 vaccine roll out. What the health sector needs right now is certainty and stability.

“The Government needs to own its track record in health. In the past four years every single National Health Target is worse than when National was in Government. Labour has spent money but hasn’t seen the outcomes.

“This is just another example of this Government’s centralise and control ideology. We’ve seen it with the restructure of polytechnics, we’re seeing it with the three waters restructure, and now the Government has set its sights on restructuring our health sector.

“National’s position is clear, in Government we will retain the community and local voice through a DHB framework, and we will repeal a separate Māori Health Authority and work towards a better single integrated health system.”

a great lesson in Spin!

No matter what side of the political fence you’re on, this is funny and very telling! It all depends on how you look at the same things.

Judy Rudd, an amateur genealogy researcher in southeast Queensland, was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s great-great uncle, Remus Rudd, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Melbourne in 1889.

Both Judy and Kevin Rudd share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows at the Melbourne Jail.

On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription:

“Remus Rudd horse thief, sent to Melbourne Jail 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Melbourne-Geelong train six times.

“Caught by Victoria Police Force, convicted and hanged in 1889.”

So Judy e-mailed ex-Prime Minister Rudd for information about their great-great uncle, Remus Rudd.

Believe it or not, Kevin Rudd’s staff sent back the following for her genealogy research:

“Remus Rudd was famous in Victoria during the mid- to late-1800s.

“His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Melbourne-Geelong Railroad…

“Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad.

“In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the Victoria Police Force.

“In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”

Now, that’s how it’s done, Folks!