Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tourist Adventure Injuries Rival Road Injuries

"The number of overseas tourists injured in adventure tourism activities is close to the number who sustain injuries from driving.

This startling figure has emerged from research into injury and fatalities amongst overseas tourists by Massey University's Dr Tim Bentley.

Dr Bentley, from the Centre of Tourism Research at the University's Albany campus, examined 15 years of hospital discharge and fatality data, to determine the extent of the adventure tourism problem. The project also involved Dr David Chalmers of the Injury Prevention Unit at the University of Otago.

Adventure tourism accounted for 18% of injuries to overseas visitors admitted to hospital between 1982 and 1996 and 22% of fatalities from 1979 to 1995. Of those, 50% resulted from mountaineering and tramping. The adventure tourism injury rate is 8 per 100,000, compared with 12 per 1000,000 for injuries while driving, despite the fact that many more tourists drive than take part in adventure activities.

Dr Bentley says such statistics mean New Zealand is on its way to being regarded as an unsafe destination. "In the US and Japan, people are already being advised not to come here because of the dangers. Tourism is our principal industry and these accidents are making a massive impact."

The research also shows that bungy-jumping, jet boating and rafting, all covered by government regulations, have much lower injury counts than cycling and horse riding, while skiing, tramping and mountaineering involve the greatest risk. They are largely unregulated and participants are in the biggest at-risk group of males in their 20's. Dr Bentley says those findings highlight the need for a regulatory code of practice for a wider range of Adventure Tourism activities.

There's also doubt about the ability of the Adventure Tourism industry to manage the risk to clients. "There are lots of small, unregulated companies out there with a seasonal workforce that comes and goes. There is also the danger that without the protection of ACC, people will start suing. In the US, travel companies have already been taken to court."

Dr Bentley says people who go out on their own are more likely to be killed, not those involved in commercial adventure tourism but the perception may be different."

15,000 injuries in 12 months

A 2007 injury study carried by Tim Bentley revealed that there were 15,000 cases involving adventure tourism and adventure sport in New Zealand over a 12 month period.

"As found in previous studies in New Zealand, highest claim counts were observed for activities that are often undertaken independently, rather than commercially. Horse riding, tramping, surfing and mountain biking were found to have highest claim counts, while hang gliding/paragliding/parasailing and jet boating injuries had highest claim costs, suggesting greatest injury severity. Highest claim incidence was observed for horse riding, with female claimants over-represented for this activity. Younger male claimants comprised the largest proportion of adventure injuries, and falls were the most common injury mechanism."

Milk Too Expensive, NZ Kids Drink Soda

Expensive Milk Contributed to Health Inequalities

"Researchers at the University of Otago Wellington say that the high price of milk and other dairy products over recent years is detrimental to the health of children and has contributed to greater health inequalities in New Zealand.

In a wide ranging case study published in Globalisation and Health Dr Louise Signal and Moira Smith, from the Department of Public Health at the University, have examined the health impacts of deregulation of the market for milk since the 1980s, and the impact on the nation's health.

They say it is clear from a series of legislative changes that deregulation of the milk market since the 1980s has significantly reduced accessibility and affordability of milk products for many low income families and their children.

Milk outside the reach of low-income families

"What we have seen is a relatively rapid increase in the price of milk, with trade being the main priority of successive Governments since the 1990s, rather than the provision of milk to every household at an affordable price," says Moira Smith. "It means that milk, a basic nutritional product, fundamental to children's health, is often outside the reach of low-income families."

The researchers say that despite payouts to farmers falling from around $7 per kilogram of milk solids to an expected $5.20kg this year, the retail price for two litres of milk ($3.21) is the same as a year ago when adjusted for the CPI (see figures at end of release). Meanwhile the price of two litres of soft drink has stayed much the same at around $2.00 for 1.5 litres.

Serious health inequalities in NZ

"Half a century ago governments supported the right of every child to cheap milk at home. Now this has been removed and serious health inequities have developed in New Zealand, particularly amongst lower socio-economic groups and Māori and Pacific peoples, 30% of whom fall into the lowest income group."

The researchers point to a series of actions by successive governments: the removal of government subsidies and control of the milk industry, the axing of price control, the application of GST on food, and the linkage of retail prices to international commodity prices (globalisation). This has resulted in an escalation in the price of milk for New Zealanders, in a country where 25% of export income is earned from dairying.

Now only 38% of children drink milk daily, and 34% weekly, with 17% not drinking it at all.

Poorer kids drink more fizzy drinks

At the same time the removal of tariff barriers and the emphasis on international trade has resulted in a rapid increase in supply and consumption of unhealthy sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages (SSCBs) or 'fizzy drinks' from the early 1990s. Some reports indicate that milk consumption dropped by a third during the 1980s and 1990s.

"As everyone knows unhealthy fizzy drinks, which contribute to our high rates of obesity and tooth decay, are cheaper and more heavily advertised than milk," says Moira Smith. "Once again the highest consumption of these drinks is in low income groups."

The obvious solution according to the authors is for the Government to reconsider interventions to make milk more affordable for families.

  • Implement price control or subsidies and not rely on a relatively uncompetitive domestic market to constrain prices
  • Government assistance to low income families to ensure they can afford to buy healthy food
  • Milk as part of a 'Breakfast in Schools' programme in schools in low-income areas
  • Reduce or eliminate GST on healthy food choices such as milk and fresh, non-processed food. NZ is one of the few OECD countries which retains regressive GST on these products.

The University of Otago, Wellington researchers say that further work is needed to understand the reasons why people choose the food they do, particularly in low-income and at risk groups, in order to reduce health inequality and obesity in New Zealand.

"The issue of good nutrition needs to be taken much more seriously as one of the key determinants of health," says Dr Signal. "New Zealand's emphasis on trade and globalisation is now dictating the health of our children through the high cost of milk and milk products."

To see the prices over the last three years: Otago Milk Research

Friday, June 19, 2009

BNZ Birkenhead Bank Robbery

News of yet another bank robbery in the Auckland region, this time in the North Shore suburb of Birkenhead:

"Police are investigating a robbery at Birkenhead BNZ in Auckland early this afternoon.

North Shore Police senior sergeant Shanan Gray says police are at the scene and the bank is being secured. Mr Gray could not say whether a weapon had been used in the incident.

No further details were available."

This is the 6th bank robbery in Auckland this month.

Details of other recent armed robberies this year may be found here

Palmerston North's Wikipedia Entry Censored

Palmerston North's Crime Gets Palmed ran a story today saying that a 'Crime' sub heading on the Palmerston North's Wikipedia page was putting off professionals from relocating to the area. Here's an excerpt from it:

"References to gang violence and crime on Palmerston North's Wikipedia page have seen overseas investors and professionals shy away from the city.

The Palmerston North page on Wikipedia a volunteer online encyclopedia features a crime sub-heading that mentions the 2002 gang violence in Highbury, including the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Black Power associate Wallace Whatuira.

While there were gang issues between Mongrel Mob and Black Power gang members in the early 2000s, the suburb has since experienced drops in crime, unemployment and gang activity.

The Wikipedia pages of other New Zealand cities, such as Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Dunedin and Christchurch, do not contain crime sections.

Even Wanganui, where 2-year-old Jhia Te Tua was shot dead during a 2007 gang dispute, does not have any mention of "gang troubles" on its Wikipedia page.

MidCentral Health medical recruitment consultant Christine Wood said there had been two cases where doctors, one from Israel and another from Germany, had declined work in Palmerston North after looking the city up on Wikipedia.

"Obviously it [Wikipedia] googles quite well, so if they are looking for Palmerston North from Europe or the Middle East, it will come up.

"Usually they've decided to come to New Zealand, but it's about where.

"If you were making a choice between Palmerston North, and for the sake of argument, Hamilton, on seeing that you'd think, `oh it's got a problem, I don't want to go there'."

Mrs Wood said while some overseas doctors were still coming to Palmerston North, the city did not need any further recruitment hurdles. She approached Palmerston North City Council staff last week to see if they could alter the page's content.

City council executive support general manager Jane Julian said the council had altered some unsubstantiated claims and deleted a gang subheading on the page."

I've looked at Wikipedia and all guess what - all the references to crime in Palmy had gone. Problem more crime Palmerston North! (edit. The "crime" sub heading was later restored and the page is now under dispute)

Ok, so reported crime levels per capita may have dropped in the town and some of the Wiki entries were out of date. But is there still a crime problem that migrants should be aware of if they're to make an informed decision before living there, and are gangs more of an issue in Palmy than elsewhere in NZ -something that doctors may be interested in knowing about.

When I checked the Statistics NZ website recently I found the number of recorded violent crimes in Palmy's City Area had increased from 787 in 1999 to 1093 in 2008, and from 794 to 1145 in the rural area. That's an overall increase in violent crime for the two areas combined of around 40 %.

During that same period figures for other crimes had pretty much stayed the same, some had even declined (property abuse, drugs and antisocial)

So is rising violent crime an issue in Palmy?

You decide.

A quick search on yielded:

*No need for city walls just yet - Manawatu Standard, New Zealand
"There was a drive-by shooting in Palmerston North this week. Shots were fired at a man outside the The Mill bottle store on Grey St on …"
(view the video "Palmerston North locals fear gang war")

Seizing cars won’t curb behaviour - Manawatu Standard, New Zealand
"We love to hate them. It is difficult to identify a group in society more widely loathed than boy racers. Public derision of them has … "
"Palmerston North moteliers are fed up with boy racers disturbing guests, with at least one motel owner saying the noise has made some rooms uninhabitable."

Sex attacker still on loose - Manawatu Standard, New Zealand
"Palmerston North police are still searching for the man who sexually assaulted a woman on Fitzherbert Ave last month. . . The woman, a 22-year-old …"
"The woman, a 22-year-old student, was walking towards College St about 3.30am on May 22 when she was pulled into bushes near Chaytor St, and sexually assaulted."

Doco makes fresh claims in Lundy -
"More than eight years since the crimes, there are fresh claims as to how convicted double murderer Mark Lundy killed his wife and daughter.. …"

And here's a recent reference to an Armed Offenders Squad call out:

11 June 2009
"Police say no arrests have been made after reports of two men carrying a gun prompted an AOS call out in Palmerston North today.

The armed offenders squad were called out about 10.30am after a member of the public reported two men walking along Parata Street with firearm, Central Districts police spokeswoman Kim Perks said.

Police cordoned off the area, searched a house on the corner of Parata St and Anderson St, but did not find the alleged offenders or a firearm.

No one was injured and no arrests were made, she said.

She would not confirm reports, which said the house was a gang house.

Ms Perks said the incident did not appear to be connected to shots fired in Palmerston North on Monday, which police said might have been gang related."

To base a decision purely on a Wikipedia entry is rather myopic, there is a wealth of information on the net and this censoring incident just underlines the need to do as much research as possible and from a wide variety of sources.

Elderly Woman Attacked In Her Eltham Home

The NZPA released a report today stating that an elderly woman had been physically and sexually assaulted in her home at Eltham, Taranaki.

"An elderly woman is in hospital this morning following a home invasion during which she was physically and sexually assaulted.

Police received a call around 6.15 this morning to an address in the Soldiers Park area of Eltham. Someone had broken into the home of a woman in her 70s and attacked her.

She is currently in Taranaki Base Hospital with moderate injuries and police hope to speak to her later today to obtain more detail about the attack.

The investigation is in its very early stages so no more information is available at this stage. The exact age and address of the woman are not being released in order to protect her identity.

Update 17 Sept 09

Taerata Daniel Turahui, aged 17 at the time of the attack was jailed for 12 years for the rape of the 73 year old woman. The Taranaki Daily News has stated that he is related to Cheyne Reihana Turahui who, aged 15, was jailed in 2007 for an attack on Eltham man Brendan Hareb with a wooden paling in 2006 (see our previously published report below) Full details of the sentencing may be found here: Pensioner's teen rapist jailed

Other Incidents in Eltham

Eltham (pop. 1983) is the village where a couple of householders were savagely beaten by four men whilst trying to protect their property in 2006

Jesse Christian Dolman, 21, was later given twelve years on two charges of causing grievous bodily harm.Cheyne Reihana Turahui, 16, was sentenced to seven years and eight months on charges of causing grievous bodily harm, burglary, intentional damage and possessing an offensive weapon. Dolman was later refused leave to appeal his twelve year term.

There is no update on the Sentencing of a third offender Lex Curtis Willemsen, 18, for causing grievous bodily harm.

And a fourth man, Victor Lawrence Tai, 20, admitted an amended charge of common assault and was jailed for three months.

Mr Hareb, one of the injured residents lost an eye in the attack and suffered fractures to his skull and eye sockets, hearing loss and the use of an arm, he was also left with brain damage. The men later expressed their anger at the leniency of the sentences.

Eltham also hit the news after two packs belong to murdered German backpacker Birgit Brauer were found hidden by a lake near to the village. (Ms Brauer had been hitch hiking between Wanganui and New Plymouth, Eltham is on that route)

Michael Scott Wallace was only sentenced to 18 years non parole for the murder. He had 65 previous convictions dating back to his youth, including abduction and rape of a woman for which he was jailed in 1984, armed robbery, cannabis possession, aggravated assault, dozens of burglary and dishonesty offences that were all committed to finance his drug addiction. He was a long term user of methamphetamine.

International Students as Customers

Earlier today I blogged about Linda Tang's problem with UNITEC not apologising for the way she'd been treated and thought it would be good to look into the problems and expectations that international students have whilst studying in New Zealand, specifically at UNITEC.

I've dug up a document released in 2004 by the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) who promote the "development of higher education policy, practice and the study of teaching and learning"

HERDSA's report was called "Students’ as customers: The expectations and perceptions of local and international students" authors Carol Sherry, Ravi Bhat, Bob Beaver and Anthony Ling - all of UNITEC.

"Abstract: This study assesses business students’ perceptions of services experienced at New
Zealand Tertiary Institute. The questionnaire used in this survey was based on the SERVQUAL scale that contains 20 service attributes, grouped together into five dimensions, Tangibles, Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance and Empathy. The study found a significant difference between students’ expectations of what an “Excellent tertiary institution” should offer in the way of services and the students’ perceptions of the services currently experienced.

A significant difference was also found between the perceptions of local students and international students in all five dimensions with the international students’ perceptions of services being lower than the local students. The Degree students had higher expectations of an excellent tertiary institute than the Diploma students, while the Diploma students rated their service experiences of Unitec as slightly better than the Degree students"

The report talked about how the numbers of international students have increased dramatically in New Zealand - a three fold increase in the last eight years. With such a dramatic increase the challenge is to measure the legitimate needs and expectations of this group of students so that steps may be taken to meet, or exceed, them whilst still satisfying the needs of local students.

UNITEC didn't meet student expectations
"The survey found a significant difference between students’ expectations of the service that an excellent tertiary institute should provide and the perception of services being provided at UNITEC. These results are not surprising as most institutions strive to do their best but very few reach perfection.....the majority of students have had positive experiences with the services provided at UNITEC. This study has however highlighted the difference in perceptions of services offered at UNITEC by the international students and the local students. When student responses were separated it could be seen that the expectation gap was larger for the international students on all five dimensions [tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy] This indicates that the international students have greater concerns with the services offered to them at UNITEC than the local students. The fact that International students pay far higher fees than the local students may mean that they expect more....."

International students not getting value for money or adequate support
"....this study also confirms concerns of the international students with issues of assurance. The students in this study are not confident that they are getting value for money, or that the skills they are being taught will get them good results both academically and for future employment. They are also unsure of lecturers’ knowledge in their subject area and do not feel that an adequate range of support services are being offered to them. These are all issues that should concern the management at UNITEC.

The international student numbers at UNITEC have more than doubled in the past two years placing a lot of stress on both academic and administrative staff alike, making it difficult to manage the individual needs of students. However if the institution wants to maintain the existing rate of growth, further research into these service areas is recommended to put in support structures for both staff and students alike."

I'm interested to learn if UNITEC took the study on board - does it view its international students as customers. If so how can someone as capable as Linda Tang progress to the final year of her degree and seemingly fail due to what looks like a lack of support?

If her accent is a problem (I've heard her on TV and I don't think it is) why wasn't she given the support she needed to improve it earlier on in her studies, how is it possible for her to have progressed so far with such an awful 'impediment' after passing English language assessments?

I think that some tertiary institutions need to remember that international students are very valuable customers who pay a premium rate to study in New Zealand, they are entitled to expect value for money and higher levels of support.

The report may be found here

Racial Discrimination Case Cover Up

Today's NZ Herald is reporting that Linda Tang, the Chinese nursing student who was allegedly forced out of the final year of her Unitec degree course because her tutors had issues with her accent, has been offered money in exchange for her silence.

According to Lincon Tan's article:

"The Faculty of social health sciences executive dean Wendy Horne has written to Linda Tang offering $4616 - equivalent to a year's study fees - on condition that the matter "remain confidential between us and our respective legal advisers.

Ms Tang, 42, is planning to take her case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal after a Human Rights Commission meeting failed to resolve matters with Unitec. She says the offer was disgusting and unfair, because what she really wanted was an apology from her tutor.

"This is basically trying to buy my silence with money," Ms Tang said.

"Unitec has blamed me for destroying their reputation, but I think it is really being destroyed by its tutors."

Fair comment. The adverse publicity her case has generated could have serious implications for all education providers if billions of dollars of foreign student revenue dries up - who's going to risk the expense of studying in New Zealand if they're told at the end of their course that their accent is a problem and they fail to graduate as a result?

If there is a problem with the tutors attitudes surely it would be better for Unitec to address that rather than just try to sweep it under the carpet and hope it will go away? $4616 isn't going to change anything.

An apology should be made to MS Tang and Unitec needs to set its house in order or history will keep repeating itself. New Zealand is a multi-racial society surely it can cope with a few differences in pronunciation?

New Zealand also needs nurses, no wonder the maternity services provision is in such dire straits.

For background please see: Student nurse Linda Tang alleges racial discrimination

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Brutal Attacks on Teens

There have been reports of a number of seemingly random, unprovoked attacks on teenagers in New Zealand over the last week or so.

On Saturday night a 19-year-old man was rushed to intensive care after he was seriously injured on Shirley Road outside Shirley Primary School, Christchurch at 11:30 pm. Police want to talk to four youths in connection with the incident.

The same night a 16 year old from Fielding was walking to a friend's house at around midnight on West Street, Palmerston North when four attackers described as European and in their 20s got out of a vehicle and knocked him to the ground. He was repeatedly kicked, breaking two of his ribs.

On Wednesday a 15 year old Thai student from Marlborough Boys' College was repeatedly punched in the face by a man demanding his wallet at 6.45 pm on Kinross Street, Blenheim. Police are looking for a Maori or Pacific Islander, aged 18-30, 175cm tall, with a muscular build.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"NZ Schools Put Children On Path To Crime"


"Traditional ways of dealing with dyslexia in the classroom are a formula for failure – creating low self-esteem and pushing kids towards a life of crime, according to a visiting international dyslexia expert.

Neil Mackay is in New Zealand to host a sold-out nationwide series of workshops for teachers and parents during Dyslexia Action Week (15-21 June). "

"How to Create a Criminal"

"A consultant to government and educational organisations in UK, Hong Kong and Malta, Mr Mackay has put together an ironic nine-step guide to How to Create a Criminal’, outlining what the education system does wrong for dyslexic students. He says that right now, many New Zealand schools are unwittingly following that guide – starting with schools putting too much emphasis on reading at the expense of thinking and other core skills."

Route to offending begins with undiagnosed learning issues

"Mr MacKay’s controversial but powerful views on the links between dyslexia and youth offending are in line with those of New Zealand’s Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft, who has identified a “route to offending” which begins with classroom difficulties caused by undiagnosed learning issues.

"I am seriously concerned as to the number of young offenders who have slipped through the ‘educational net’ because of undiagnosed learning disabilities, especially dyslexia. Overseas a pathway to eventual offending, originating from undiagnosed and unaddressed dyslexia is well-known,” Judge Becroft says.

Research is currently being planned to ascertain how many young offenders in the three youth justice custodial residences in New Zealand suffer from dyslexia or other learning disabilities. “There is a real need in New Zealand to analyse this important issue more closely,” Judge Becroft says....."

Read on : NZ Schools Path to crime


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