Monday, December 8, 2008

New Zealand's Aging Population and the Great Kiwi Brain Drain

According to data recently released by Statistics New Zealand the number of families is predicted to rise to 1.44 million by 2031, an increase of 269,000 (23 percent) from an estimated 1.17 million families at 30 June 2006.

However, the majority of those families will be' empty nesters', i.e. couples aged 50 and over.

In a report issued in October of last year Statistics NZ projected that the number people aged 65 years and older will exceed 1 million by the late 2020s, which is double the 2006 figure. By that time the numbers of over 65s will be greater than the number of under 15 year olds.

Since the mid 1970s New Zealand has experienced one of the sharpest drops in the OECD in the number of young people within the working population - the fourth largest fall behind Korea, Canada and The Netherlands.

And because aging populations affect ethnic groups in groups in different ways the ethnic composition of the country is expected to change. By the early 2020s the Maori, Pacifica and Asian share of the youth population are projected to rise whilst the numbers of European youth will fall by 10%.

Net migration from New Zealand to Australia is now at a 30 year high, and 1 in 4 New Zealand graduates work abroad.

Prime Minister John Key has acknowledged that the country's Brain Drain is the worst in the developed world. He said:

"the numbers have to be slowed down, especially because young people are fleeing to Australia. He says the worst departure figures since records began are a reflection of our low wage problem."

To address these problems National has proposed a raft of new measures:

"1. Retaining Kiwis & Attracting More Home
Ensure tax, regulatory, and infrastructure policies make returning home attractive for highly skilled expat Kiwis. Require Immigration NZ to initiate a one-stop-shop approach to servicing the needs of returning New Zealanders.
2. Meeting Our Skills Needs
Streamline employer accreditation:
• Streamline proceedures for qualifying employers to be “recognised“ or “accredited” to recruit internationally.
• Make employment performance count more towards the granting of residence.
• Require employers who recruit offshore to provide a bond. Boost monitoring and remove accreditation/recognition from employers if policies are breached.
Better meet demand for seasonal skills:
• Retain the RSE Scheme for Pacific Nations. Make it easier to hire seasonal workers outside the scheme where it is not meeting employer’s needs.
• Introduce temporary work visas for legal visitors who have a guaranteed offer of seasonal work.
Access higher-level skills by introducing a Silver Fern Visa for people with recognised tertiary qualifications.
This visa will enable holders to:
• Undertake temporary work while seeking highlypaid permanent employment.
• Obtain a 24-month work visa once they have gained permanent employment.
• Apply for permanent residence (once on the 24- month work visa) through the Work-to-Residence or Skilled Migrant provisions.
3. Business and Retired Immigrants
• Set realistic requirements for Business Migrants in capital, language skills, and investment proposals.
Focus on job creation and export earnings.
• Establish a Retirement Visa for high net-worth immigrants who indemnify New Zealand from all health, welfare, and superannuation costs.
4. A World-Class Immigration Service
• Review Immigration NZ to ensure there are clear lines of accountability. Ensure fairness and transparency in its processes.
• Explore the establishment of a stand-alone Department of Immigration and Citizenship with no increase in bureaucrats.
• Strengthen settlement services by establishing a robust evaluation process to ensure effectiveness."

It's worrying to see a new Retirement Visa listed there as it will do nothing to address the problem NZ has with its ageing population, it will encourage more people to see New Zealand as a retirement haven.

Neither is there any mention of how National intends to deal with NZ's 'low wage problem.' (The cause of the brain drain according to Key) That is something that is going to be harder to get to grips with as the country's recession deepens.

A Third Of All Popular Swimming Places Unsafe

In stark contrast to New Zealand's '100% Pure' image a survey of local authority records by Consumer NZ has revealed that 29% of the most popular beaches and swimming spots are so polluted that the Ministry for the Environment advises people to stay out of the water.

Additionally, a lack of proper information from some councils means that the problem could be even worse than the survey suggests.

"Consumer NZ chief Sue Chetwin said a lack of helpful information from councils means swimmers at many other beaches may be at risk of campylobacter and ear, eye and skin infections."

Consumer NZ looked at the results from 500 councils and only 17% of bathing places had a water quality ranked as "very good". Some were so bad that "no swimming" signs should be erected:
"Ocean Beach stream in Northland and Kawakawa Bay, south of Auckland, were among those ranked very poor - the level where the ministry says councils should have up permanent "no swimming" signs.

Beaches ranked poor included spots at Paihia, Mangawhai, Gisborne's Waikanae Beach (above) and Rere Rock Slide (below), which is featured on AA's "101 Must-Do" list."

No Auckland City beaches appeared in the survey because the city council could not provide information. This comes at a time when the council is preparing to cut $86 million from stormwater improvements.

The cuts will result in sewage overflows at popular Eastern Bays beaches - St Heliers, Kohimarama and Mission Bay (below) occurring for years longer than planned.

Source: NZ Herald

Mount Cook Claims 69th Climbing Fatality

Mountain guide Kiyoshi Ikenouchi died on Mount Cook in the early hours 5th December whilst his client Hideaki Nara, 51 was rescued several hours later.

The pair had been trapped by 130km winds in a storm near the summit of New Zealand's highest mountain (3754m) with temperatures as low as -20c.

It was 6 days before the weather was good enough to dispatch a helicopter to rescue them.

Ikenouchi is the 69th climber and the 7th Japanese national to have died on the peak.

In total over 200 people have died in climbing accidents in the Mount Cook National Park since 1907.

Link: Courier Mail

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Radioactive Waste and Heavy Metal Clean Up at Hobsonville, Auckland

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has pledged to clean-up contaminated land at Hobsonville airport prior to the land being sold for commercial development or housing.

See a Google Street View of the area

In 2001 the NZDF commissioned a audit of the base which revealed that some areas were "slightly contaminated with radioactivity from old, buried instruments and other areas were contaminated with heavy metals and other pollutants." Those pollutants include lead and copper in the shooting range, spilled oil and other chemicals.

The radioactivity comes from radium 266 used in luminous markings and it has already been deposited in containers. In the 1950s burying such instruments was an accepted disposal method.

Remediation work will include the removal of soil to a licensed disposal facility and cleaning of some areas.

Source NZ Herald

Many sites in the Auckland region are also contaminated with chemicals left behind from agricultural activities which caused a furore recently. More to follow on this....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Zealanders STILL trapped in Thailand

John Key will decide within the next 48 hours whether to send commercial charter flights, or use a military aircraft currently headed to a base in the region, to get stranded New Zealanders out of Thailand: He said:

"I think it would be irresponsible of me, as prime minister not to act today, I think I've got to show some leadership."

I think that the New Zelanders holed up in Tailand will be relieved to hear that.

The government is considering using Hercules to ferry 65 people at a time to either Singapore or Malaysia but these aircraft are noisy and uncomfortable. They'd prefer to use the Air Force's Boeing 757 passenger aircraft, but the two they have are both out of action, something that Key has pledged to address.

According to TVNZ
"John Key says the Hercules will be dispatched in case it is needed, with stranded kiwis encouraged to continue trying to get out on commercial flights....

More than 200 Kiwis are currently stranded in Thailand, although the exact number is still unknown.

However, a trickle of travellers are finding their way home to New Zealand, glad to be getting out of the increasingly bloody situation.

Those coming home say troubles are spreading to tourist areas now, and that the embassy is not much help to them."

Meanwhile Australia arranged transport last night to get some of it citizens out of Bangkok to Phuket where an emergency Qantas flight bound for Singapore was waiting.

Qantas said yesterday it would run a second relief flight between Phuket and Singapore early today.

A large group of Filipinos arrived home on Monday after their government laid on a special flight to Manila and on Sunday 1,400 Chinese tourists were able to leave when Chinese aviation authorities sent planes to Thailand to bring them home.

Today dozens of Canadian tourists will leave as part of a deal worked out by their embassy's officials.

South Korea dispatched planes as long ago as last Thursday to bring its nationals home, on commercial flights that landed at its military airports

The big question for NZ'ers trapped in Thailand is: would it be quicker to apply for Australian citizenship or wait for their own government to come to their aid?

A Reader's Comment to the NZ Herald :

katrina d (Papakura)
"Why is the NZ government always the last to send in help when it comes to our own citizens,It doesnt matter that we have a new Prime Minister, his reaction is the same as Helan Clarks pertaining to the Bali bombing.
The wait and see attitude!Most countries , including Australia moved on the 1st call of help from thier stranded civilians.
What are we waiting for, get planes in, get our people out."

Good to know that you can always rely on the NZ government in a crisis!

See also Govt. too slow on evacuation

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Zealand Homes Compared to Refugee Camp Huts

Following on from Sunday's article about poor standards in New Zealand's homes, I came across this article in Scoop and thought it may be worthwhile mentioning it here because it helps to demonstrate just how serious and widespread this problem is.

According to a health expert 3 out of 4 homes in some regions of New Zealand were so cold, damp and mouldy that they were on a par with refugee camp huts....

Source: The Dominion Post
by Ruth Hill

"At a workshop in Wellington yesterday on the health effects of leaky buildings, Associate Professor Jeroen Douwes of Massey University cited a 2005 study, which found mould in 75 per cent of the 1310 households surveyed.

"This is comparable to a study of Palestinian refugee camps, where the rate was 78 per cent."

Nationally, about 35 per cent of New Zealand households report mould in one or more rooms, compared with 18 per cent in Europe.

A survey by Otago University public health researchers of 33 peer-reviewed studies found exposure to damp and mould raised the risk for respiratory problems -wheezing, coughing and asthma - by 30 per cent to 50 per cent.

Conservative estimates put the direct health costs of leaky buildings in New Zealand at $61 million a year.

Public awareness of respiratory problems associated with damp houses remained low, he said.

"This issue affects potentially tens of millions of people worldwide, and there is a big case for more interventions and research."

University of Otago public health researcher Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, who chaired the workshop, said New Zealand's high asthma rate could well be related to the incidence of damp houses.

Up to one in five New Zealanders suffer the chronic and sometimes life-threatening respiratory condition. Wellington's Asthma Research Group has found that asthmatics allergic to mould had much more severe symptoms, and were almost twice as likely to end up in intensive care...."

Christchurch's Drunken Mayhem


By Jo Mckenzie-Mclean

"Christchurch's inner city at the weekend was "absolute mayhem! with drunk people, particularly women, "at each other's throats", police say.

Inspector Malcolm Johnston, who was part of Operation Crusade on Saturday night, said he was disappointed and shocked by the number of drunk and disorderly people drawn into the city by the warm weather and Christmas in the Park.

Absolute mayhem

"It was absolute mayhem. I don't know how many arrests there were. We just didn't have time to make arrests; we were just pushing people apart. There were just so many confrontations, scuffles and violence going on; people getting bashed and robbed. It was just shocking, you know, with that 24-hour drinking. It was just incredible.

"You could not arrest someone, which takes (a police officer) off the street for an hour to process them. You couldn't afford to be off the street for an hour because it was just mayhem out there."

Some women had shown their nasty, drunken side, Johnston said.

Drunk women at each other's throats

"I could not get over the number of drunk women who were at each other's throats. A lot of guys were trying to keep them parted and that would escalate and, from there, you would get a massive brawl," Johnston said.

"There is nothing wrong with alcohol, but I don't know why people stay out till after 3am and continue to drink and get written off and turn into nasty violent drunks."

The chaos started unusually early - about 11pm.

Between 10pm and 3am there were 31 arrests.

A large number of people were summonsed to appear in court for breaching the liquor ban."

See also: Christchurch's weekend battleground

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Health Ruined in Quarter Million NZ Homes

Source NZ Herald

by Cliff Taylor

"A quarter of a million homes are so cold, damp and poorly built they are causing serious health problems, according to a significant new study.

The problem with the houses - which are poorly insulated, some with black mould and potentially toxic air quality - could cost more than $20 billion to put right, say report authors.

Both old and new homes affected

It is not just a problem with old homes. Many new homes and renovated homes lack adequate insulation, heating, ventilation and double-glazing, as builders and landlords invest their money instead in superficial improvements to increase houses' value.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, which commissioned the survey of 3500 households, says the country is suffering a "massive" housing problem and it has called for law changes to bring homes up to scratch.

Respondents said they and their children suffered from a wide range of illnesses, including sinus problems, mould allergies, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia, caused by damp and badly insulated homes.

Newcomers say 'they've never been colder in homes'

Business Council chief executive Peter Neilson says, "Talk to anyone coming to New Zealand and they say they have never been colder in homes."

The problem has been made worse by rising electricity costs. People responding to the survey said they had been forced to move into the lounge during winter to keep warm; and mould and damp had caused their children to be repeatedly admitted to hospital with respiratory and other health problems.

See also

Plan unveiled to upgrade New Zealand's million unhealthy, inefficient homes

Killer mould in schools - the "new asbestos"

National announces plan to keep homes cold and damp

Problems with damp and cold housing among Pacific families in New Zealand

Leaky Homes

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Murder Map shows 58 Murders This Year in New Zealand

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has published an interactive map detailing 58 known murders that have taken place in New Zealand during 2008, 21 of them in Auckland - an average of 2 a month.

Each cross marked links to a news report of the crime.

The map may be found here: Murder Map

Friday, November 28, 2008

Auckland's Most Dangerous Places To Live

Source: Metro Magazine, Nov 2008

Metro recently published an interesting and eye opening article daring to spill the beans about six dangerous aspects of life in Auckland.

It makes interesting reading for anyone intending to either visit or live in the Auckland region.

The shockers included:
  • Fight streets where violence often breaks out late in the evening. Streets such as Fort Lane (awarded a “most dangerous” status) are probably best avoided unless you're looking for a fight.

  • Homicide central:
"Counties Manukau has the highest annual murder rate — often two or three times higher than that of Auckland City, and several times greater than in Waitemata (which includes North Shore, Waitakere and Rodney)"
  • Piha Beach's beautiful dangerous surf. An appalling record for drownings with visitors and tourists most at risk.
  • Construction worker falls from height, and other serious accidents, due to lack of safety equipment and unsafe working practices.
  • Unsafe food premises in Papatoetoe, where you may get rather more than you paid for,
  • Dangerous intersections and roller coaster roads that are responsible for numerous accidents every year.

The full article can be viewed here

See also:

"Piha Rescue" TVNZ (presently off air)

"About the Show
Piha is the busiest surf beach in New Zealand, by far. Thousands of visitors flock here every summer to enjoy the sun, sand, surf, and wild terrain. This season many of these people were caught unaware by the silent dangers at Piha - the rips, waves and rocks. Filmed with several water and beach cameras, Series Four of Piha Rescue once again brings the action from the beach right into viewers' living rooms."

Piha Rescue: Thread on

Swim between the flags.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Home Invasion Murder - Man Arrested

Source NewsTalkZB

"A 29-year-old Manurewa man has been charged with the murder of an 80-year-old woman who died after being attacked in her home.

The hunt for Yin Ping Yang's killer has been going since June.

Mrs Yang died in hospital, but was able to give police a description of her attacker. She told them he attacked her from behind and dragged her downstairs to a bedroom.

Mrs Yang said she struggled as he tried to push her into her bedroom closet and he stamped on her."

Other information "Safety Warning for Asian Tourists" Jun 30 2008

"Tourists have been advised by one ethnic group that it is not safe to walk alone on the street in New Zealand, as other Asian groups say the country is fast losing its reputation as a "safe country to visit".

The New Zealand-Japan Society has advised tourists to travel in groups, rather than individually, after arrests were made over the murder of Korean backpacker Jae Hyeon Kim.....

Last month, Joanne Wang, 39, was killed in a hit and run after her handbag was snatched; Yang Yin Ping, 80, was fatally attacked in her Manurewa home; and Navtej Singh, 30, was shot during a robbery of his liquor store. All the victims were Asian.

Businessman Charles Kang, a trade consultant originally from Singapore, said many of his overseas clients have raised concerns over safety issues over doing business in New Zealand.

"One compared New Zealand to South Africa, and another said Auckland was fast becoming for us what Oakland is to America," said Mr Kang. "Many expressed surprise at the level of crime we experience here, because New Zealand has a reputation as being a safe country."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Departure Taxes and NZ Holding Countries to Ransom

Two tourism related news stories have been playing out in the NZ
press over the last few days.

The first centred around complaints that the country's national carrier Air New Zealand has been holding small Pacific Island nations to ransom - demanding millions of dollars more in grossly inflated subsidies for the privilege of accepting their services.

The small pacific island nations are heavily dependent on Air NZ flights for both for tourism and trade, which would suffer drastically if flights are withdrawn.

The islands of Samoa and Tonga are facing cuts in services from next week unless they cough-up more to keep Air New Zealand interested.

The Cook Islands has already agreed to the demands and will increase their payment from $2 million to $5 million. Their tourism minister Wilkie Rasmussen said his country had agreed to a new joint venture, to be signed within two weeks and said that the "flights were important to secure access to visitors from North America, the UK and Europe."

According to the NZ Herald, Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni has said Air New Zealand is holding his country to ransom and he has "approached rival airlines about flying the Los Angeles route through Apia and Tonga."

The second news story concerns a massive storm of protest from New Zealand over Britain daring to introduce a 4-tier departure tax based on distance travelled (a form of carbon tax) with passengers on long haul flights to countries such as New Zealand hit the hardest.

Fears are that hiking the departure tax from the present equivalent of $113 to $240 will cause a massive drop off in visitors to NZ and have serious consequences for the NZ tourism industry, already hit by a fall in numbers due to the recession.

The irony of the two situations is not lost on some people.

On one hand the NZ government leaps onto its high horse about its tourism industry being threatened by high departure taxes and is worried that other countries will follow suit, whilst on the other its national carrier is squeezing small island nations whose small, tourism based economies are heavily dependent on Air NZ flights.

Before John Key sits down to talk to Gordon Brown he needs first to sort out what's going on in his own back yard.

UK Departure Tax overshadows Key's Meeting with Brown
Cooks Pays Air NZ to Keep Rarotonga Route

Friday, November 21, 2008

Net Migration from New Zealand to Australia at 30 Year High

Statistics New Zealand today released data that shows permanent and long term (PLT) departures from New Zealand to Australia have reached a 30 year high.

In the year to October 2008 the net PLT outflow reached 34,600, up from 26,500 in the previous year .

Meanwhile the overall net migration gain in the year to October was the lowest in 7 years at 87,400 PLT arrivals.

In October immigration consultant Tika Ram said his business had plummeted 30% in the last year, migration interest had been "close to zero":

"The arrogance" of Immigration New Zealand and New Zealand's "impractical immigration policies" were a turn-off to would-be migrants.

Ridiculous immigration polices

"The immigration policies we have are not well thought-out, and written as knee-jerk responses - they are ridiculous and killing the flow of migrants," said Mr Ram.

National Party finance spokesman Bill English said the statistics were a reminder that New Zealand had major fundamental economic issues long before the current international crisis, and the increasing pace of the exodus showed New Zealand needed growth so New Zealanders could earn higher wages and have a better quality of life here.

Act Party candidate and former finance minister Sir Roger Douglas warned that more New Zealanders would leave if nothing was done to the economy, which he said was "hanging in the balance".

Avalanche of people leaving for Australia

"The avalanche of people leaving New Zealand to go to Australia over the past year will be seen as a trickle if we don't put our house in order," Sir Roger said.

"The global meltdown means we're facing a financial tsunami."

Source: NZ Herald

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guilty Verdicts in the Nia Glassie Trial

Brothers Wiremu (19) and Michael (22) Curtis were found guilty today
in Rotorua High Court for the brutal murder, torture and abuse of little 4 year old Nia Glassie.

The child's mother Lisa Kuka, 35, was found guilty on two manslaughter charges for failing to protect her daughter and for not seeking medical assistance for her.

Two other people - Michael Pearson, 20, and Michael Curtis' partner Oriwa Kemp, 18, were found not guilty of manslaughter in relation to the death but guilty on other charges.

All are now in custody awaiting sentencing.

Public sentiment was outraged as details emerged during the trial of of the horrific abuse Nia suffered at the hands of the accused. Hopes are high that suitably harsh sentences will be given, not only as a suitable punishment but also as a deterrent.

Alarmingly High rate of Child Death from Maltreatment in NZ

A 2003 UNICEF report showed that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of child death from maltreatment (physical abuse and neglect) among rich OECD countries.

It ranked 25th on a league table of 27 countries with 1.2 deaths per 100,000 children

"The abuse suffered by Rotorua three-year-old Nia Glassie during her short but tortured life included:
* Kicked in the face, causing her nose to bleed;
* Hit, slapped, punched and jumped on;
* Objects such as shoes thrown at her;
* Verbal insults, for example continually being told she was ugly;
* Forced into a television cabinet drawer;
* Dragged through the sandpit half-naked;
* Shoved into piles of rubbish;
* Made to bathe in cold water in mid-winter;
* Folded into a sofa and sat on;
* Flung against the wall;
* Held high in the air and dropped to the floor;
* Used for adult wrestling moves copied from a Playstation game;
* Whirled rapidly on a rotary clothesline until flung off;
* Put into a tumble dryer and spun on high temperature;
* Had her head and feet dangled into the fireplace when the fire was lit;
Source: NZ Herald, 28 Sept 2008

Another School Bus Rolls

Another bus has rolled on the way to school.

The accident happened on a sharp bend in South Taranaki this morning. Fortunately, none of the 16 passengers or the driver were seriously hurt but six pupils were taken to Hawera hospital for treatment and one child was airlifted from the scene. The children were on their way to school at Kaponga Primary School

A similar accident occurred on the Coateville Riverhead highway in Auckland when a bus carrying 35 students rolled whilst navigating a bend and landed on its roof in a paddock, resulting in 15 children requiring medical treatment.

The students were on their way to school at Westlake Girls and Boys Schools, Rosmini College, Carmel College and a Takapuna school from homes in the west of the country.

Seat Belts not Required in NZ
Unlike many other developed countries there is no requirement for school buses to be fitted with seat belts in New Zealand.

In the period 1992 to 2001, there were 85 school bus-related incidents or crashes resulting in 12 fatalities, 20 serious injuries and 80 minor injuries.

Candor Trust Statement on Bus Safety and Driver Competence:

"School Bus Safety in Question October 31, 2006

Candor Trust are calling on the Ministry of Transport for another review of school bus safety. Representatives of the Road Safety Charity say that the last one which occurred a couple of years ago “perhaps did more harm than good”. It is time to drug test drivers, especially given the Education Ministry is fine about testing pupils.

With no less than 7(eror 12) major incidents this year already (8.5 is average in the last decade) the Trust claim a cloud lies over the Ministry of Educations ability to care for Kiwi kids. The last 2 days alone saw 25 students traumatised during their everyday journey to or from schooling.

Driver under investigation
A new bus driver suspended for rolling her bus, in what might easily have been a major tragedy near Auckland yesterday is “under investigation”. She claims to have no recall of events. Though she passed a breathalyser test it's unknown whether Police or the Employer have requested drug testing.

Then 6 students were injured today and some were in great distress when either a school bus driver or a rubbish truck driver failed to give way at an intersection.
These accidents come atop of the following events to plague the Ministry of Educations school bus service this year.

In February near Bulls a school bus and car collided. The same month in Southland a bus crash resulted in 12 children suffering injury. A Kohanga Reo bus rolled in Kaitaia in July, which was also the month a school bus driver mounted the footpath running over 5 Auckland schoolgirls.

And lest we forget there was also a heart rending tragedy in which a girl was run over and killed just after being dropped at her gate where the Mother was awaiting her arrival. Gate dropping is a practise disallowed in some US States.

Until the plummet this year our school bus safety record was similar to Australia's with slightly higher fatality rates among users. But with serious driver shortages Nationally it appears the relaxing of regulations to encourage people into the Transport Industry has come at rather a high price.

"No specific training for school bus drivers"
New Zealand has no specific course or additional training requirements for school bus drivers above and beyond those contained in the Passenger License Endorsement. A fit and proper person check is carried out initially which is really only looking out for a drink driving history.

But once the license is granted no renewal or updates or even medical assessments to monitor health are required for a full 5 years. A Tourist Coach Driver nervously told the writer the new rules are “nothing short of frightening”.

School bus drivers can be called out unexpectedly and if they are substance abusers in spare time it can then become an issue, he says.

The U.S.A. has shown great interest in child passenger safety and practically passes school bus legislation on a daily basis. Accordingly it is here we find a success school bus incidents and fatalities are halved on earlier days.

Generally States require yearly to 2 yearly medical assessments for “Student Transportation License” holders as well as alcohol and drug abuse tests and perhaps some random testing. A system is in place to flag the authorities should school bus drivers be involved in non work related traffic offending.

Long term concerns about school bus safety
Rachael Ford (Candor Trust) says the members of her Organisation have long been concerned about School Bus Safety. “Driving them is specially stressful as people have to deal with disruptive students, bullying and sometimes even illegal activities”.

“On top of this they must deal with particularly inattentive drivers in the fatigue peak time of mid afternoon. This is the high crash risk time for school buses. It is a lot of pressure so it wouldn't be surprising if they might develop addictions or stress related health problems before their 5 year renewal is due”

LTNZ figures show that most school bus crashes do indeed unfold in the afternoon. The bus controllers for the most recent accidents will be given 3 days to provide written reports regarding schools involved, injuries and cause of the crash to the Ministry of Educations local Transport Co-ordinator.

“We would like be advised if the drivers were tested for drug intoxication once the final reports are in” says Mrs Ford, “because the Public has a right to know what hit them or their kids!”

NZ Herald,

School bus related safety LTNZ

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Zealand Has The World's Worst Rate of Melanomas

Source: The Australian, 14 Nov 2008

"NEW Zealand has edged out Australia to have the world's worst rate of melanomas, researchers have found.

Richard Martin from the New Zealand Melanoma Unit compared the skin cancer rates between the two countries and found Kiwis had slightly higher chances of suffering the dangerous cancer.

His unpublished research found about 44 New Zealanders per 100,000 were diagnosed with melanomas each year, while in Australia the rate was about 40 per 100,000.

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, but not the most common.

“There has always been a kind of rivalry, not terribly good rivalry, between the two countries to know which is the melanoma centre of the world,” Dr Martin said.

The latest figures showed New Zealand's rates were higher, he said.

He said both Australia and New Zealand had skin cancer rates three to four times higher than other parts of the world, because so many light-skinned people lived at warm latitudes.

New Zealand, however, was under a larger part of the hole in the ozone layer, and had less pollution than Australia, which absorbed some UV radiation, he said.

Size of Ozone Hole on 15 Nov 2008

“If you compare the latitude of Auckland in particular, with the equivalent latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, that is North Africa,” Dr Martin said.

“Think about the colour of skin of North African people compared to the pale European people living in New Zealand.”

Dr Martin said New Zealand was participating in an international trial to help develop a vaccine against melanomas.

“There are literally hundreds of vaccine trials underway around the world, including in Australia and Europe and elsewhere,” he said.

He said while New Zealand as a country had a higher rate of skin cancers than Australia, it was lower than separate areas such as Queensland."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Powerlines Cast Cancer Cloud in Massey

Powerlines are an eyesore and a dominant feature in the Massey landscape, suspended directly above both private and commercial residences.

Many people are concerned about the effects that electromagnetic radiation have on human health. Concerns have been raised about a cluster of cancers in this low income, sprawling suburb of Waitakere.

Google Street View of lines

Source: NZ Herald
by Kirsty Wynn

"Two neighbours of high-profile cancer victim and film-maker Cameron Duncan have been diagnosed with the disease - adding further weight to concerns about the apparent dangers of overhead power lines.

While overseas investigations have found clear links between electromagnetic radiation and childhood leukaemia and other forms of cancer, little research has been done in New Zealand.

The Auckland District Health Board has carried out an investigation into the apparent cancer cluster in Massey, West Auckland, but found cancer rates there were no higher than in other areas of a similar population level.

But the research data was based on who was living in the target area up until 2001 and did not take into account the recent cases, which included Cameron and four others at Massey’s Royal Road school.

An Auckland urologist, who has studied the connection between high-voltage power pylons and cancer, has found strong links between high-tension power lines and childhood cancer, breast cancer and depression.

Meanwhile, energy giant Transpower -which is proposing a controversial 400kV line from Whakamaru to South Auckland - says its lines are safe.

Months after the death of her son Cameron, Sharon Duncan remains adamant about the reasons he went to an early grave - constant exposure to electromagnetic radiation from overhead power lines.

She was shocked to hear two more of her neighbours had been diagnosed with the disease that had killed her son.

"That takes the number of people with cancer surrounding our house up to five," Mrs Duncan said.

"We had already lost two immediate neighbours to cancer and then Cameron.

"And we have a power pole right in the middle of all the houses concerned."

One of the latest neighbours to be diagnosed is Parvati Smith, who lives directly in front of the Duncans’ home.

"There seems to be a lot of us in the street who have cancer," Mrs Smith told the Herald on Sunday.

"I think it needs to be looked into properly - there are too many people around here with it."

Mrs Smith, who lives next door to Cameron’s former home, and Dorothy Tyler, who lives directly across the road, have both been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past year.

The street has power lines running through it - directly over the Duncans’ home and over the Smiths.

Mrs Smith said finding she had breast cancer in a routine mammogram in March was a huge shock.

"I was in a daze because I am very healthy and have no family history but we do have the power lines over the house.

"My husband was quite worried about the powerlines and had copper wiring put through the house a while back."

Mrs Smith does not know for sure what caused her cancer but said she was considering moving.

"We have lived here for 23 years but it has made me think about it. I spoke to Sharon and she told us to get out."

Mrs Duncan sold her Anich Rd property last year, saying she lived in a cancer triangle.

It was also last year that details emerged that Cameron and two close friends - Jeffrey Thumath and Charles Hetaraka - were diagnosed with cancer within two months of each other.

Cameron and Charles both died in 2003 when they were 17 and New Zealand athletics champion Jeffrey, now 20, will soon have surgery for lung and stomach cancer.

The boys shared a number of commonalities including being born at St Helen’s Hospital in Waitakere, attending the same school, playing competitive sport, and being diagnosed and receiving treatment within two months of each other.

Their mothers - Gail Thumath, Elizabeth Hetaraka and Sharon Duncan - all had a link to the West Auckland suburbs while they were pregnant.

It was also revealed last year that two other Royal Road School pupils and another local boy living near the school had cancer.

Kristian Gibson was 14 when he died of a brain tumour. He was at Royal Road School at the same time as the three boys and died in the same year as Charles and Cameron.

Another Royal Road pupil - who did not want to be named - developed pre-cancerous cells in the same year.

Local boy Samuel England, 18, was diagnosed with cancer at 10 months of age but is now clear of the disease.

Since then, other Massey residents with cancer, and parents who have lost children to cancer, have come forward demanding answers.

Families bordering a sub-station in Timandra Ave in Massey (Picture from Google Maps, click to enlarge)

claimed their cats were having litters of deformed kittens, and living near the power centre was making them sick.

The Savaiinaea family have two children with leukaemia and their mother, Violet, had a miscarriage last month at 22 weeks.

Mrs Savaiinaea’s two children Sone, 8, and Alesha, 6, were born near substations - Sone when the family was living in Otara and Alseha in Timandra Place.

Along with leukaemia, Alesha has severe asthma and Sone has epilepsy. Both children have Netherton’s Syndrome - a disease which causes their skin to peel and become infected and makes them lose weight.

Her other children - who were not born near the substation - are healthy.

Mrs Savaiinaea - a taxi-call-centre worker - was made distraught by the miscarriage. It is the second she has had since moving to Timandra Place.

"I knew something was wrong and I thought the baby had leukaemia because the pregnancy was the same as when I had Alesha.

"I was about five months’ pregnant and I went to the doctor for something else and they found the baby had stopped breathing," she said.

"The doctors had already told me if I got pregnant again there was a 60 per cent chance I would have another baby with leukaemia."

Mrs Savaiinaea said her family has suffered ill health since moving to the street eight years ago.

All the homes in the cul de sac are owned by Housing New Zealand.

She is convinced the substation has made her and her family sick and said her mother doesn’t visit any more because she gets headaches every time she visits.

"My mother has stopped coming around now because she gets bad headaches every time she comes out here. She said it is the power station, so we have to take the kids to see her now."

Mrs Savaiinaea said no one should be allowed to live under power lines or near a substation.

The Auckland District Health Board launched an investigation into the apparent cancer cluster late last year and released a report three weeks ago stating there was no elevated risk in the area.

The report said the incidence of cancer in the area was not elevated and "no environmental cancer-causing agents link the occurrence of the cancers involved".

But the mothers of Cameron, Charles and Jeffrey said the report used outdated information and drew conclusions from a cancer register which did not include their sons.

Mrs Duncan, along with Mrs Hetaraka and Mrs Thumath noted the cancer registry referred to went up to 2001 while their sons were diagnosed in 2002.

Medical specialist Dr Robin Smart has been studying the relationship between power pylons and health effects since he found Transpower’s proposed 400kV line from Whakamaru to South Auckland would run 300m from his Whitford property.

The Auckland urologist has read 100 medical papers and found strong links with overhead lines and health conditions like severe depression, childhood leukaemia - which is two or three times higher - and breast cancer.

He said the power limits in New Zealand were far too high.

"Research shows that if you live near lines with more than 0.1 micro tesla of magnetic radiation there is evidence you are at risk."

He said levels here - set by the World Health Organisation - were far too high.

"They have set very high levels of 200 micro tesla. It is so high a lot of countries are now stopping people from living under the lines."

Mr Smart said the solution to the power-pylon debate was using the safer DC lines - rather than the AC lines which have alternating or pulsing current - and putting them underground.

Transpower spokesman Chris Roberts said the company maintained the lines to the Ministry of Health guidelines. "We are not health experts - we just do as we are told," Mr Roberts said.


1985 Jeffrey Thumath born at St Helen’s Hospital in Waitakere.

1986 Cameron Duncan and Charles Hetaraka born at St Helen’s.

1988 Kristian Gibson born in Melbourne, Australia.

2001 Gibson diagnosed in August with cancerous brain tumour.

2002 Hetaraka and Duncan both diagnosed with cancer.

2003 Thumath diagnosed with cancer. Gibson dies in February, aged 14. In July Charles Hetaraka, 17, dies. Duncan dies in November.

2004 Dorothy Tyler diagnosed in April with breast cancer.

2005 Parvati Smith diagnosed this month with breast cancer.

Further New Zealand based reading:

"Under the Wires" Listener Magazine Article, April 2007

Powerlines Double Risk of Cancer in Children

Monday, November 10, 2008

Migration: Culture Shock and Loss, A Comparison

Many migrants to New Zealand usually go through some form of culture shock -a pyscological reaction to an unfamiliar environment, or a sense of grief for the loss of the lives they they've left behind. I'd like to just take a few moments to weigh up the two.

1.Honeymoons and Denial
Exposure to an unfamiliar environments can be a positive experience, there's freshness of a new set of stimuli, the joy of discovery and the initial elation at having "made it". It's often called the honeymoon phase because of the the differences between the old and new cultures are seen in a romantic way.

It is during this phase that many migrants congratulate themselves on their decision to move to New Zealand, it's a re-affirmation that their decision was a "good choice".

Not every migrant feels this way though, some are hit with the feeling of " What have I done?" when they realise that the quality of their life in New Zealand is going to be lower than it was in their own country. Poor working practices, low remuneration, poor quality housing, lower standards of education and xenophobia are often cited as factors

"This is so much worse than what I came from, this can't be happening to me!" is how they often feel. This is called the denial phase.

2.Negotiation and Anger
Migrants come out their honeymoon phase as the gloss begins to wear off and the routine of everyday life is established. That vacation feeling fades away after a few weeks and they enter the negotiation phase. People often start to miss food from home, their favourite TV show, friends and relatives; they find cultural differences annoying. They may suffer mood swings during this time and some go on to develop depression.

Others transition from denial to anger as they rail against the injustices and unfairness of their new lives. They feel restricted and trapped by the situation they find themselves in.

3.Adjustment and Bargaining
Moving out the negotiation phases takes around 6-12 months. By then the sense of newness has worn off, the routine of daily life takes over and people begin to feel a lot more settled and content as they assimilate into the culture. Unless circumstances change for them they tend to stay in this phase

The other group moves from denial into bargaining: How can they work out a way to make this place work, if they stick at things for a year or two perhaps it will get better?

They often take up a course of further education, get stuck in to having a family, take up a new hobby or or concentrate on doing up that awful house they just bought.

4.Reverse culture shock and Depression
Migrants who've made it through to the adjustment phase tend to stay put. But those who do move on often say that they have problems when they return to their own country - whether it be on a holiday or to live. The problems they have re-adjusting can be just as marked as those they experienced when they arrived in New Zealand and most are unprepared for it.

The group that experienced grief as a result of their migration move on from the bargaining phase into depression. They feel powerless to control their own destiny, they feel as if they live on the margins of society. At this stage they may not have the means to leave New Zealand or are prevented from going due to other commitments e.g.their partner is a New Zealander and doesn't want to leave.

If they are still working they may be in a job that they are over qualified/experienced for and subordinate to someone that they feel no respect for.

This can cause depression, suicidal tendencies and a distinct feeling of being trapped and powerless.

Some make it through into the acceptance phase, some do manange to leave. Those who stay may change their careers completely - move from the IT dept to the kindergarten, or from the hospital to a cab or a volunteer group.

I hope it this has been of some help to you .

If you feel that any of these issues affect you and if you are still having problems you may like to see out the services of a professional counsellor who has experience of working with migrants, perferably one that is a migrant themself and already understands the issues very well.

Grief the Kübler-Ross model

Culture Shock

Friday, November 7, 2008

British Schoolgirl Murdered in Kerikeri

Police today announced that a 14 year old student from Kerikeri high school has been charged with the murder and sexual assault of 15 year old Libby Templeman who died last weekend. Although the youth was known to Libby police say that it he was not her boyfriend.

Libby moved from Britain three years ago to the small close knit Northland town of Kerikeri. Friends say the family had got "fed up" with Britain and had decided to emigrate to New Zealand for a better life.

However, due to a downturn in work, the Templemans had relocated to the North Shore where Libby was due to start school at Rangitoto last week and had already auditioned for a part in the school production. She had returned to Kerikeri on her own to visit friends for the weekend.

The small rural town was stunned by her murder, she was a vivacious and well loved member of the community and will be very much missed by everyone who knew her.

Libby's ambition was to be an actress, a singer or anything theatrical and had appeared in pantomimes when they lived in the UK and also in Kerikeri. She was fun and outgoing, a bubbly girl who had grown into an independent, outgoing young woman.

Her funeral and public memorial will be held tomorrow.

RIP Libby.

Monday, October 13, 2008


No matter how careful a driver you are on New Zealand's roads there's always the ever present problem of hoons to really spoil your day. Many of them think they have total ownership of the road, which of course they do. Even your best defensive driving techniques won't protect you from idiots like these.

"Drifting in the south of New Zealand" by Ynotkillyou

"Rimutaka Hill, bridge-to-bridge under ten minutes. No fancy car, no shiny exhaust tips, no chromie wheels, no bullcrap. " By N2Z (No sense either, he almost lost it at 1:32, 2:58, and again at 3.33 just seconds before an on oncoming car, then he almost crashes on multiple occasions after that just have to hope that he's not on the roads when you are)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is this a Good Time To Move Back to New Zealand?

The New Zealand Herald recently run a story that New Zealanders abroad were rushing to return home after their banking and finance jobs in the UK were squeezed out.

However, on closer examination it seems that this "rush home" is nothing but a steady stream of enquiries from expat Kiwis who were either uncertain about their present job security or have recently been made unemployed. There is nothing to say that the job market for them in New Zealand would be more secure, nor are there vacancies that can be filled which offer suitable salaries.

The Herald has invited readers to comment on the article, the vast majority of respondents chose to give reasons why they would not return to New Zealand. Their responses may be useful for potential migrants looking for a "safe haven" in the current global credit meltdown.

nb (Wellington City) " If you're ready for NZ & its isolation & insularity, then jump right in, but for those who've spent more than 5 years abroad & have become used to the benefits that large & diverse economies bring, stay put.

NZ can be very over-rated. The UK, US etc fall hard but bounce back equally as strongly. Same can't be said about NZ. Recruitment agencies & their clients (not sure who is more culpable) take a narrow view of what they deem relevant experience & are very risk averse.

Reflects most of them have been recruiting for low level jobs with low wages - more akin to placing people on a production line. Despite best efforts of those who talk up the 'lifestyle', this is, and will remain, a low skills/low wages destination.

Junior Doc leaving (Whangarei) I can't believe there are people returning willingly to NZ. It sounds to me that they are forced to return. As for me, I am leaving for Oz where junior doctors are better supported and valued. I sincerely wish this country well. My husband and I will be leaving for good."

TomG (Canada) "Not a chance - education sucks, prices suck, wages suck, government triple sucks. Here I am closer to the rest of the world - can vacation in the US after a five hour drive, takes less than half the time to fly to Europe.

Nahh might be an ok place to retire but my kids have way more opportunities here.

Weather sucks and crime sucks. I love that you can drive into the rockies and just wander off for the day not worrying about whether your car will have wheels when you return, kids leave brand new bikes on the unfenced lawn overnight and they're still there to put away in the morning."

amian UK (United Kingdom) "We left NZ ten years ago and while we return every two to three years to see family, friends and check on assets held, it is unlikely that we will return permanently.

NZ is a great place for a holiday but 'challenging' both politically and financially. I work in global banking so I find it hard to believe that there would be more jobs in NZ banking than in the UK.

In fact the structure of the NZ banking system as set up by Labour is a disaster waiting to happen. The lack of regulatory framework and 'cowboy mentality' means that the average punter is likely to be hammered even more in the months ahead.

I miss surf beaches where I am the only person out on the waves and seawater warm and clean enough to swim in most of the year without a wetsuit. I also miss the laid back attitude of my friends but don't miss the difficulties of raising money for new business ventures and the opportunities to work on major ideas and projects with global impact.

That and the fact that you kept Graham Henry as All Black coach means that nothing really has changed in the Kiwi psyche. The memories from the east stand at Cardiff will haunt me for a few more years yet."

Clint Heine (United Kingdom) "I've been in the UK for 5 years and am not coming back to live. My wife and I are moving to her native country - The Czech Republic. They have an excellent health system and have Flat tax, so everybody is equal with paying taxes.unlike in NZ where Labour have robbed the population and made higher earners feel like criminals.

NZ will always be nice to go on holiday to, but the country over the last decade has gone backwards. It is scary reading that the PM made cruel jokes about the enormous amount of people leaving each week. She didn't care despite her Govt creating this disaster.

My wife has said NZ is turning into what her country was like under Socialism and when I told her family what we were paying in tax overall, on top of a dodgy healthcare and education system they all agreed they were better off. and NZ thinks it is a lucky place? I feel sad that I am turning my back on the place - but Kiwis let this happen".

Saturday, October 4, 2008

4th Serious Attack on an Auckland Shop Worker This Year

Source: NZ Herald, 4Sept, 2008

A catalogue of attacks on shop workers so far this year in Auckland includes:
  • "Jan 22-year-old student Krishna Naidu stabbed to death while working in his family's dairy in Clendon, Manukau City.
  • June Father-of-two Navtej Singh shot in the chest with a .22 rifle during a raid on his liquor store in Riverton Drive, Manurewa, and died the next day.
  • July Xu Mei Ying, 46, shot in the arm while working at her family's dairy in New Lynn".
And now a Lotto Store and Dairy (a dairy is a small convenience store) owner is just the latest victim of a rising tide of violent robberies taking place in small businesses in Auckland.

A nearby shop owner who knew the victim has himself been robbed four times yet shop keepers can do little to defend themselves:
"When we protect ourselves, we get charged - and if we don't we get stabbed. What do we do?" he asked."
This follows an incident on Tuesday night when a liquor store owner in Otara was charged with assault after confronting a drunk, knife carrying youth who was suspected of stealing from his store.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Perceptions of Migrant Doctors in New Zealand

An interesting report appeared in the NZMA in February 2006.

The study identified four key issues that afffected Overseas Trained Doctors (ODTs) in New Zealand:
"Work issues which included difficulty finding employment and difficulty integrating into their work role;

A bridging programme which improved the ability of OTDs to gain knowledge and experience of the New Zealand medical working environment;

Financial difficulties
which were a major impediment to attaining registration and a career pathway in New Zealand; and

Bureaucratic barriers
(including examinations and information availability), which were seen as necessary but unsympathetic processes in gaining registration."

The full report may be viewed here, if you are considering migrating to New Zealand with a view to working in the healthcare sector you may wish to read it.

Recommendations made in the report include:
  • "Acknowledging the process of attaining registration and integrating into the medical workforce as one of joining a medical community;
  • Recognition of the differences in medical cultures that exist around the World and the difficulty OTDs may have in understanding and learning their adopted medical culture;
  • Creating a “one-stop-shop” to provide all relevant information about registration requirements, employment opportunities after registration, and further career options;
  • Ensuring the examination process is transparent in terms of pass rates, content, and methods of examining;
  • Maintaining an equivalent of the “bridging programme”;
  • Ensuring that work positions are available to OTDs and that these positions are commensurate with their experience;
  • Ensuring the transition into hospital medicine is carefully regulated and appropriate support is offered;
  • The informal communication networks that exist amongst OTDs are recognised and incorporated into an overall strategy aimed at successful integration into the workforce."

Medical Students Have To Be Taught How to Stay and Work in New Zealand

"There are shortages of doctors, especially in primary care, and more medical graduates should help," said Professor Abbott. "However, they will need to receive a different sort of education that fosters the values, competencies and commitment to equip them to stay in New Zealand and make a positive difference at community level."
This statement was made by Professor Max Abbott, AUT University Dean of Health and Environmental Sciences and Deputy Chair of the country's largest district health board. He was commenting on a proposal to increase the number of medical students in New Zealand and on the workforce crisis in the health sector.

Healthcare areas with the worst shortages of staff are midwifery and dental services, both areas are need of urgent funding. There are shortages of doctors too, particularly in primary care. However, Auckland University of Technology is having to reduce some courses due to cut backs in funding, which come at a time when there are significant shortages of professional staff in some areas.

In May a report appeared on the Unison web site quoting Dr. Annette Huntington from Massey University's School of Health saying that New Zealand had reached “crisis levels” in the shortage of nursing staff, with many new graduates from NZ nursing programmes lured away by the promise of better pay in hospitals overseas.

45,000 registered nurses make up approximately 60 per cent of New Zealand’s health workforce.

Professor Abbot's solution is:
"We need to be much more flexible in our thinking about who does what in the health sector, especially in primary care. We need many more nurse practitioners and other health professionals who extend their expertise and scopes of practice. All health professionals need to learn to work more effectively in multidisciplinary teams and be more responsive to patients and communities."
Reasons for the shortages

Maurice Drake, head of Nursing at Unitec, says:

"There are a number of possible reasons for these shortages, including low pay, stressful working conditions and increasing media scrutiny of healthcare professionals"

Drake also notes the difficulty trained nurses who have been out of the workforce have in returning to nursing, especially those with children. “There needs to be more flexible ways of more nurses is not the answer, due to a lack of clinical placements for students."

Boosting medical student numbers not the solution
NZ a global player in Nursing shortage
Crisis in Waitakere's after hours healthcare
In Unison: Nursing Shortage a Crisis


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