Public health, water infrastructure and te ao Māori (as well as governance) went into the mix when Mahuta named water authority

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

With the Maori wards issue taken care of through legislation rushed egregiously into law under urgency, control of the country’s water supply is high on the agenda for action by champions of the treaty “partnership”.

Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāi Tahu have joined forces in proceedings against the Crown, seeking “rangatiratanga” over freshwater in their respective areas.

Rangatiratanga – according to the Stuff report –  has a wide number of meanings, covering everything from leadership to authority to autonomy.  Citizens should be braced for whatever interpretation is put on this when the courts make a ruling.

More immediately, the government has announced its appointments to the inaugural board of its water services regulator, established as part of major water reforms.

Appointees with Ngati Kahungunu and Ngai Tahu ancestry are among the seven people named.

Among other bulletins from the Beehive: Continue reading “Public health, water infrastructure and te ao Māori (as well as governance) went into the mix when Mahuta named water authority”

Figures flow when Woods answers questions about housing and govt targets – and look, they show a hefty rise in the waiting list

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

While Housing Minister Megan Woods was being grilled at Question Time in Parliament about the government’s performance in her portfolio domain, the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito Williams Sio, was announcing new  initiatives to provide housing. 

Attorney-General David Parker, meanwhile, was announcing the appointments of three new District Court Judges, all of them in the Auckland region.   

The appointees are

Kirsten Lummis, lawyer of Auckland – appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based in Auckland. 

Nick Webby, lawyer of Auckland – appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based in Manukau. 

Ophir Cassidy, a lawyer of Auckland – appointed as a District Court Judge to the Waitakere District Court with a general jurisdiction warrant to sit as Youth Court Judge and to lead the Rangatahi Courts at both Hoani Waititi and Orakei Marae.                                                  

 The housing announcement for Pacific people from Sio includes: Continue reading “Figures flow when Woods answers questions about housing and govt targets – and look, they show a hefty rise in the waiting list”

Oh dear – see who was offended when Goldsmith called for Kiwis to be treated equally in electoral arrangements

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer’s parents – according to a report in Stuff – delivered some strong mantra to live by.  One of them: “Don’t accept, you push back, be provocative, but always be respectful.”

But what happens when political opponents don’t accept, push back and  – dare we suggest it? – are a mite provocative?

Why, you interrupt their speech and complain you have taken offence as tangata whenua.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, of course, is the Maori Party co-leader who now sits in Parliament promoting a political agenda that promotes the interests of Maori.

She has an aptitude for spicing her rhetoric with hyperbole while championing their cause:

“I stand here as a descendant of a people who survived a Holocaust, a genocide, sponsored by this House and members of Parliament whose portraits still hang from the walls.

The aforementioned Stuff report notes she stood for and was elected to the South Taranaki District Council and was deputy mayor between 2007-2010.

Nevertheless she argues for all local and regional councils to be required by law to establish at least one Māori ward in their area.

On the other hand, she bridles at the suggestion other ethnic groups should be entitled to electoral arrangements that ensure their representation.  

This became evident when National’s Paul Goldsmith was questioning why separate seats in Parliament based on ethnicity should be extended to local government.

Hansard records what he said next:

So it is a question of extending that focus on difference and dividing the country on ethnic lines in the way that we organise our democracy at the local government level. I can imagine that there are many people in Auckland, where I come from, which is an intensely multicultural society, with many people of different cultures, wondering, “Well, hang on, why is it that all other New Zealanders are treated one way and Māori are treated another way when it comes to how we organise the local government elections?” Yes, and so people rightly … 

We didn’t get to hear the rest of the sentence because Ngarewa-Packer interrupted to raise a point of order.

As tangata whenua, I take personal offence to what is being said by the member.

When National’s Nick Smith spoke to the point of order, she cut him off too.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Speaking to the point of order. I listened very carefully to what my colleague Goldsmith said, referring to the way in which Auckland was—

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer: Point of order. I am tangata whenua, I can say how I feel. As tangata whenua, I take personal offence to what is being said by the member.

Nick Smith had cause to complain about being interrupted while speaking on a point of order.

Assistant Speaker Jenny Salesa – curiously – disagreed.  Moreover, without hearing arguments in response to Ngarewa-Parker’s point of order, she required Goldsmith to apologise.

But apologise for what?

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Madam Speaker, it’s very unconventional for a member in the middle of a point of order to have another member simply stand up and interrupt them, and is not consistent with the way in which the House is run. The point I wish to make—

ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Jenny Salesa): The member Debbie Ngarewa-Packer’s point of order was before your point of order. Can you please take a seat, the Hon Dr Nick Smith. So let me deal with Debbie Ngarewa-Packer’s point of order. She took offence to what you said, the Hon Paul Goldsmith, as tangata whenua. Can you please withdraw and apologise.

Nick Smith tried again.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of order, Madam Speaker. Simply because a member may have a particular view about a privileged status of a group of New Zealanders, surely this cannot mean that my colleague Mr Goldsmith, whose comments were simply around the lines of Auckland being a multicultural city with people of multiple different ethnicities, somehow being offensive and being required to withdraw and apologise. Wokeness is not part of the Standing Orders of our Parliament. The member should not be required to withdraw and apologise for such inoffensive, normal remarks.

The Greens’ Chlöe Swarbrick then pitched in (no guesses on which side of the argument).

Chlöe Swarbrick: Speaking to the point of order, Madam Speaker, if I may, in contributing. The contributions of the Hon Paul Goldsmith spoke to the supposed privileged status of tangata whenua in Aotearoa New Zealand. If you look at any statistics, we find that tangata whenua do not occupy that space of privilege.

And then Goldsmith grabbed a chance to find what exactly he must apologise for.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Can I just have a simple point of order. I’d just like to understand what you are asking me to apologise for. What particular words are you asking me to apologise for?

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jenny Salesa): So the point of order that the member Debbie Ngarewa-Packer raised was that she was personally offended when you called tangata whenua being of a certain status. Can we move forward from here and can you just complete your speech, the Hon Paul Goldsmith.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Sorry I can’t apologise for something that I’m not quite clear what it is, what specific words—and maybe the member can help me—I said that the member requires me to apologise for. A general feeling? I’m just not quite clear what it is.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jenny Salesa): Can I please have further clarification from the member Debbie Ngarewa-Packer about what she found so offensive.

And so  Ngarewa-Packer was given a platform to explain her grievance (and after she explained it, at Point of Order we remained bewildered).

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer: Thank you, Madam Chair. There was an offence of privileged implication and there was an offence that we belong all in one. Tangata whenua are not multicultural; we are tangata whenua. We need to stop being drifted and floated into every little pool or blanket that you believe we belong in culturally. We have a status: it’s tangata whenua.

National’s Michael Woodhouse meanwhile had been trawling through the rule book to find if Ngarewa-Packer had a case for demanding an apology.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Speaking to that point. I’m very much trying to find the appropriate Speakers’ ruling on the taking of offence. There is a Speakers’ ruling that says that somebody cannot take offence on behalf of another member. The inference in that Speakers’ ruling is that a class of persons, also, a member could not take offence on that. I would argue that the comments made by Mr Goldsmith were debating points. If we come to a point where people can take offence on generalisation, general comments that are otherwise within Standing Orders, I’m afraid that we’re going to get into a situation where we’re going to have a lot of it. Can I also just, while I’m on my feet, make another comment for your consideration? When Dr Nick Smith spoke to the original point of order and was interrupted by Ms Ngarewa-Packer, that was not in order. He had a right to finish his point of order without interruption, and you enabled her to basically cut across that. So I’d like you to consider both of those two points.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jenny Salesa): So we have had this discussion. The member has raised that she has been offended. My ruling is that we just move on and to rule that when a class is offended as a class, tangata whenua, would be a significant point of order for me to rule on. I now ask the member if he would like to complete his speech in the last 12 seconds, he is most welcome to.

Twelve seconds left, huh!

Goldsmith gave it a go, only to have Swarbrick interject.

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: So as I was saying, before I was interrupted—

Chlöe Swarbrick: What, race baiting?

This (inevitably) triggered another point of order.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Point of order. Madam Chair, I’m sure Mr Goldsmith won’t ask for a withdrawal, but the accusation by one member to another that that member is race baiting is clearly unparliamentarily language and shouldn’t be used.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jenny Salesa): The member the Hon Michael Woodhouse is not able to take offence on behalf of another member. We shall move on. Six seconds.

Goldsmith at long last finished with time for just one succinct sentence:

Well, what I’m saying is that the inference of this bill is that this Government does not trust the judgment of New Zealanders.


Houses by the dozen – Woods rebuffs sneers about game-changing policies while Robertson brings RBNZ into the action

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

It’s all go – well, sort of – on the housing front.

The Nats yesterday were scoring brownie points by scoffing at the state’s spending on a professional promotional video, including drone footage, celebrating a housing scheme that has helped only 12 families.

But Housing Minister Megan Woods announced the Government has added 1,000 more transitional housing places, which (for those who have forgotten) was promised under the Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan, launched one year ago.

And Finance Minister Grant Robertson today announced the Reserve Bank is now required to consider the impact on housing when making monetary and financial policy decisions.

The other fresh announcements on the Beehive website are –

  • A second batch of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines has arrived safely at Auckland International Airport. The shipment contained about 76,000 doses, and follows the first shipment of 60,000 doses that arrived last week. Further shipments of vaccine over the coming weeks.
  • The Government has announced the list of life-shortening congenital conditions that will guarantee early withdrawal under a new KiwiSaver category created last year.  People with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are automatically entitled to apply to withdraw from their fund at a time that is right for them to retire, rather than once they turn 65. 
  • The Government will invest $6 million for 70 additional adult cochlear implants this year to reduce the historical waitlist. As at 31 December 2020, the adult cochlear implant waitlist was 269. The additional 70 implants are expected to be delivered by 30 June 2021.

Continue reading “Houses by the dozen – Woods rebuffs sneers about game-changing policies while Robertson brings RBNZ into the action”

Biden’s negotiating skills will be tested as he aims to have posts filled and programmes approved

Now the honeymoon is over, it’s down to hard work for American President Joe Biden and his new administration.  Only a handful of his Cabinet nominees have been approved in Congress and he faces the prospect that up to three candidates may fail to pass muster.

This will test his negotiating skills and legendary capacity to work “across the aisle”, a term beloved of US political commentators.  Opposition is hardening within the Democratic Party on issues such as the minimum wage.

The problem begins and ends with the near balance in both houses of Congress. In the senate there is a 50-50 split between the Republicans and Democrats, which means Vice President Kamala Harris must almost live in the chamber to ensure legislation is passed by means of her casting vote. The House of Representatives is little better with the Democrats holding 222 seats to the 213 held by the GOP.

While Harris can break a tie in the Senate, this means not losing a single Democrat — or winning over a Republican.

The nature of the challenge is illustrated by Biden’s candidate to run the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden. Continue reading “Biden’s negotiating skills will be tested as he aims to have posts filled and programmes approved”

Govt funding for Air NZ is among the big issues around future of our tourism industry

As  reports pile  up on the success of  vaccines against  Covid 19, is  it  time  for  New Zealand  to think of how  it  will  return  to   normal?

The  vaccines  will  not  simply eradicate  the virus, so governments will need to  start thinking about  how  to live with it.

The London “ Economist”  last week pointed  up the problem for NZ, a country which it  said had  sought to be  Covid-free by bolting its  doors  against the  world.

“ In this  way it has kept registered deaths to just 25, but such a draconian policy makes no sense as a permanent defence.   NZ is  not  North Korea. As vulnerable Kiwis  are vaccinated , their  country will come  under growing pressure to open its  borders—and  hence to  start to tolerate endemic Covid-19 infections and deaths.”

The task  for  governments is  to  work out  when  and how  to switch from emergency  measures to policies that are  economically  and socially  sustainable indefinitely.  The  Economist reckons the  transition  will  be  politically  hard   in  places  that have invested  a  lot  in being covid-free. Continue reading “Govt funding for Air NZ is among the big issues around future of our tourism industry”

$18 million settlement for Moriori will help eliminate a myth – but another $18 million is intended to encourage creativity

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

Each of two fresh announcements from the Beehive involves payments of $18 million.

One lot is being poured into a trough to offer grants up to $150,000 a year “for creative spaces to make arts more accessible”.

The other is the sum involved in the Moriori treaty settlement, although Moriori get not only the money but also a bag.

Myth-busting is likely to be a consequence of the deal, too, when the Moriori Claims Settlement Bill is enacted.

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little welcomed Moriori to Parliament to witness the first reading of the bill, which – he said – is “the culmination of years of dedication and hard work from all the parties involved”.

He candidly acknowledged the Moriori are being short-changed, saying: Continue reading “$18 million settlement for Moriori will help eliminate a myth – but another $18 million is intended to encourage creativity”

Child poverty measures show improvements – but the PM is pressed to pump more money into income support

All  nine child poverty measures showed downward trends, compared  with  two years  ago, Statistics  NZ reports.

Hurrah!  Another  victory  for  Prime Minister Jacinda  Ardern, it seems.

After  all, she made it  clear   as  she took office that the defeat  of  child  poverty  was her  special priority.

So  what’s  this grumbling from the Child  Poverty Action Group?

The poverty  statistics,  although not  surprising, are “deeply disappointing” and for  families  with disabilities  they are “absolutely shocking”, according to Professor Innes  Asher, chair  of the CPAG.

Most of the nine measures showed no statistical change over the 21 months to March 2020.

“We’ve long said that poverty for children is a huge problem and doing just a little bit will not be enough. We urgently need the government to raise income support significantly for our children in families receiving benefits, and the government needs to use a multi-pronged approach to tackling the housing crisis.

“Incrementalism isn’t working. Persistently delaying implementing the bulk of the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group isn’t working.”

The Children’s Commissioner, Andrew Becroft,  chimed in  that the  government needs  to apply  “big, bold initiatives”.

The  first  priority must  be to lift benefits, he says.

The worry (both critics say) is that they know child poverty will have increased due to COVID-19. The data released this week was collected before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly one out of every five families living with disabilities live in material hardship, more than double the rate of families with no disabled members, the CPAG says.

“Discrimination is the reason why children who are disabled, or who have a disabled caregiver or sibling, are more likely to go without,” says Professor Asher.

“It doesn’t have to be this way, and it absolutely should not be this way. Other countries such as the UK acknowledge families with disabilities have greater expenses, and they support those families so they are no more likely to live in material hardship than others.”

Among the nine measures, the one bright note is that material hardship has definitely reduced overall (in a statistically significant way) from 13.2% to 11%.  That’s a reduction of around 24,000 children, and is likely (although not definitely) to have reduced somewhat for young Māori, from around 22.6% to 19% – around 11,000 young Māori may no longer live in material hardship.

“We expect that we’re probably seeing the effects of the Winter Energy Payment, the extension of free doctors visits to all those aged 13 and under, but also the mushrooming of private charity – food bank numbers have increased massively over the last few years,” says Professor Asher. 

However, material hardship rates for Māori and especially Pacific children are still far above national rates overall: nearly one in five Māori children (19%) live in material hardship (around 54,000 children), and more than one in four Pacific children (25.4% or around 37,000 children) compared with just over one in ten children overall (11% or 125,000 children).

Overall, 168,000 children are still in the severest income poverty, below the 40% income poverty line.

Perhaps  then it is  not  quite  the policy  triumph government  flaks  would  have us believe.

Still, the  Prime  Minister  says:

“We are still working  on it”.

And  the  Finance  Minister Grant  Robertson  is chuffed    that    NZ’s  sovereign currency ratings  have been raised by international agency S&P  on the basis  of  a  stronger-than-expected  recovery.

“The  real thing for  me  is that this is the first upgrade  that  Standard and Poors have done since pandemic, so I think that is  a real sign of  confidence in  our  recovery.  The  other  thing that is  important  is the general confidence   that will flow through, not  only  for NZ  businesses, but  also  for international  businesses, people  looking to invest”.

That’s  for certain:  NZ will need huge investments coming in if eventually it  is  to formulate  the policies  that  will  rid it of child poverty.

As  the  experts  say, the government will have to change its policy so that all low-income families with children are allowed to access all family assistance – currently  children in severest poverty are denied full access to key family assistance because their caregivers receive a benefit.

Guidance in good governance is called for – Wellington City won’t get a commissioner (not yet) but Wainuiomata lane vote will be revisited

Local body governance in the Wellington region has been found wanting in the past day or so.  City councillors in Wellington and community board members in Wainuiomata are being pressed to seek instruction on how to do a better job.

The decisions of Wellington City’s fractious councillors have huge implications for the rates burden. Those of the Wainuiomata Community Board – where cultural education is being recommended – demonstrate how a vote is prone to be overturned if local Maori are affronted.

For now, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has ruled out appointing a Crown commissioner for Wellington City Council where councillors have been wrangling over the future of the city’s central library.

According to Stuff:

The idea of a Crown observer or commissioner overseeing the council has been raised several times over the past year, and has come up again following disagreements over plans to privatise parts of the library building.

But that’s not the end of it, because … . Continue reading “Guidance in good governance is called for – Wellington City won’t get a commissioner (not yet) but Wainuiomata lane vote will be revisited”

Now we know (roughly) the cost of a day off for Matariki – and for good measure the Govt will be changing the Holidays Act

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

When our kindly PM announced 24 June 2022 will be the date for New Zealand’s first official celebration of Matariki, she didn’t mention the cost – at least, not that we recall.   But this week we learned from ACT leader David Seymour that estimates included in official advice to the Government are somewhat eye-watering for the businesses that must pick up the tab.

Mind you, the Government hasn’t finished burdening employers with holiday obligations, although it says it is doing them a big favour by accepting all of 22 recommended changes to the Holidays Act made by the Holidays Act Taskforce.  Just to make things clear, you understand.

News of this was among the latest announcements from the Beehive which – for the record – includes a big tick of approval for the government from the Standard & Poors credit ratings agency.

New data on child poverty are the subject of a post, too (although these don’t show the impact of Covid, which can only have exacerbated inequities). Continue reading “Now we know (roughly) the cost of a day off for Matariki – and for good measure the Govt will be changing the Holidays Act”