Award winners are being celebrated around NZ – but what about Queens Birthday Dishonours and a Snitch List?

The latest list of Queen’s Birthday honours, with a few knights and dames at the top and bigger numbers of lesser awards further down, was published today.  The most celebrated recipients and those with interesting stories to tell have quickly become the stuff of media headlines – former All Black Sir Wayne Shelford, for example (a chance to remind readers of his scrotum injury).

And Shirley Lanigan,nurse in the Hutt Valley who has been awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit after caring for everyone from survivors of the Wahine disaster, to sexual assault victims and even her own husband.

And Serviceman M, responsible for leading the ground recovery team after the 2019 Whakaari/White Island eruption, who has been recognised with a Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD). He cannot be named for security reasons but is a New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) officer who has spent years dealing with bombs, explosives and highly volatile situations.

But we wonder if anyone has thought of a list of introducing a Queen’s Birthday Dishonours List, naming and shaming some of the nation’s not-so-worthy citizens.

Gilbert and Sullivan gave us the idea with their song about social offenders in The Mikado.

One component might be the Snitch List and a candidate for this – may we suggest? – would be the person who recorded the row between outgoing National MP Nick Smith and a staffer.

According to an RNZ report, this person was instrumental in Smith’s decision after 30 years to abruptly throw in the towel on his political career, citing the loss of the Nelson seat and a Parliamentary Service inquiry into a “verbal altercation” in his Wellington office.

Smith said the investigation into the spat that happened last July is ongoing and the best course of action was for him to resign.

He was also under the impression details of that inquiry had been leaked and would hit the headlines on Tuesday … 

The RNZ report said Collins had told media the Parliamentary Service was alerted to the argument by a staff member of another MP who recorded the spat and then made a complaint.

The NZ Herald similarly reported:

The verbal altercation between Smith and one of his staffers is understood to have happened in July last year, right before Collins took over the party leadership and around the same time the scandals involving Hamish Walker and Andrew Falloon were hitting the headlines.

Smith has apologised for the outburst – described to the Herald as angry words from both sides – which was recorded by a third person who then felt a need to escalate the issue by laying a complaint with Parliamentary Service.

 In other words, the investigation was instigated not by the staffer involved in the “heated altercation” or “outburst, but by a busy-body on someone else’s staff – or an odious snitch.

Collins and her team should not let the veteran politician abandon politics altogether. He has a first-class honours degree in civil engineering and a PhD in landslides, apparently.

And the Nats could do with their own landslide at the next general election after being buried under one at the general election last year.

But let’s get back to the latest honours list and other nuggets of news from the Beehive since our previous report –

  • Honours

PM congratulates Queen’s Birthday Honours recipients

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern congratulated the New Zealanders recognised for their contributions to their communities and the country in the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours List.

She named some of the reciipients then said:

“While I can only ever talk about a few individually, I hope all of those honoured today feel rightly proud of their achievements and, on behalf of all New Zealanders, I thank them for their work and sacrifice,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Champions of Pacific education rewarded in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio congratulated and listed award recipients in his Pacifika patch.

  • Education

Change of status for Rangiriri kura

A change of status for Te Kura o Rangiriri sees it become a designated character school within the Māori-medium network, Associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis announced.

His press statement explains that Māori-medium education is where students are taught all or some curriculum subjects in the te reo Māori language for at least 51 per cent of the time.

Who does the measuring?

The statement does not explain what must be done to become “a  designated character school”.

But …

“The new designation will mean Te Kura o Rangiriri can continue to strengthen the use of Waikato reo and tikanga for local ākonga, with the support of local hapū – Ngāti Naho, Ngāti Pou and Ngāti Hine, and local marae Horahora and Maurea.”

Other schools in the area were consulted and supported the change of status to a Kura-ā-Iwi, which will be effective from Term 3, 2021.

As at 1 July 2020, 22,391 students were enrolled in Maori-Medium education throughout New Zealand, which was 2.7 per cent of the total school population.

Te Kura o Rangiriri has been providing Māori immersion learning since 2003 in the historic town of Rangiriri, and Davis said he is “delighted that it is now being formally recognised as a kura-ā-iwi.”

The number of students attending the year 1-8 kura has expanded to 31 in recent years, with provision now for a roll of up to 100.

The kura will have an ongoing affiliation with Ngā kura-ā-iwi o Aotearoa.

  • International

APEC trade ministers’ unite on COVID-19 vaccine steps and rejuvenating the WTO

APEC trade ministers yesterday committed to speeding up the cross-border flow of vaccines and related goods to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

This followed the completion of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting chaired by Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor

APEC Trade Ministers today agreed to:

  • Act now to speed the flow of vaccines and vaccine-related goods by eliminating trade restrictions that increase the cost of vaccines and the goods that support them;
  • A set of guidelines for  their Customs authorities to ensure vaccines flow through ports and airports as quickly as possible so they are not sitting idle;
  • Remove barriers to freight and logistics services to support trade in vaccines and vaccine-related goods to help fight the pandemic.”

Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, Phil Twyford, represented New Zealand at the meeting,

He said APEC had returned to its traditional role of championing multilateralism by:

  • Rejuvenating the World Trade Organisation and injecting momentum into a series of trade negotiations with the aim of concluding these by the end of this year.
  • Doubling down on a sustainable recovery by pushing the World Trade Organisation to agree governments should not pay subsidies that encourage over-fishing and to finish their negotiations by the end of July.
  • Starting to reform subsidies to the fossil fuel industry that are contributing to the climate crisis.

Twyford acknowledged the work led by Minister of Customs Meka Whaitiri and the New Zealand Customs Service to publish the Best Practice Guidelines for APEC Customs Administrations.

“This was a New Zealand-led APEC initiative, which is intended to help fast track the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines so they aren’t held up at borders and are distributed to people in a safe and timely manner,” Phil Twyford said.

View the APEC Ministers Responsible for Joint Trade Statement 2021

View Annex 1: The APEC Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chains

View Annex 2: The APEC Statement on Services to Support the Movement of Essential Goods

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