Saturday, March 13, 2010

Discrimination Against Asians Still A Key Issue In New Zealand - Updated

Asian New Zealanders and international students continue to experience racial discrimination and harassment, according to a report released by Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

It seems that discrimination has increased over the last year (perhaps this is a result of a 'kiwis first' mentality during the recession?) with Asians being the most discriminated against. Overall around 10% of New Zealanders experienced discrimination and it looks like police still don't collect data on racially motivated crimes:
"Public perceptions of discrimination against ethnic groups, and particularly Asians, have increased in the past 12 months. Two-thirds of survey respondents nominated an ethnic group when asked who they thought was most discriminated in New Zealand, and 28 per cent identified Asians. In a further question, when given a list of 14 named groups to choose from, 75 per cent identified Asians as the most discriminated against.

The 2009 Statistics New Zealand general social survey also asked questions about discrimination. The survey showed 10 per cent of New Zealanders experienced discrimination. The most common grounds were race, ethnic group or skin colour, and Asians experienced the most discrimination.

Examples of discrimination and harassment regularly heard by the Commission included discrimination in employment, verbal abuse (often shouted from people in cars), having water bombs and eggs thrown at them, abuse by neighbours, rubbish being tipped over the fence, damage to property and cars, bullying in schools, and harassment in the workplace.

“This type of behavior is not carried out by the majority of New Zealanders, but it is common and everyone needs to help put a stop to it,” said Mr de Bres.

Mr de Bres made five recommendations for addressing the situation:

    * Encouraging people to share stories of discrimination, harassment and abuse (in the workplace, education sector, health sector and communities).

    * Countering the relatively high incidence of discrimination against Asian New Zealanders, through government, businesses, school and community action.

    * Ensuring the safety of international students, including effective reporting mechanisms, through the education sector, police and local government action.

    * Police collection of data on racially motivated crime, as recommended by the United Nations Periodic Review of New Zealand and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

    * Formally welcoming and acknowledging international students and temporary migrant workers in communities (for example, at Race Relations Day events).

The review of racial discrimination and harassment forms part of the Commission’s annual Race Relations Report, which will be released in Auckland on 11 March."

In November we talked about how the Maori party Co-vice president Heta Hingston said a lot of racism in New Zealand was covered up:  
"racism ... in New Zealand, is covert. Very few of the ardent anti-Maori, anti-Islander, anti-Asian front up... (the secrecy) is the worst part about racism that is rife in New Zealand. There are so many good Pakehas being tarred with the brush of those other racists that is all hidden."
Which is why police need to start collecting data on racially motivated crimes.

And in September we covered a Press report that everyday 'race hate' is rife in places like Christchurch. At that time  Joris de Bres said race-hate crimes were a problem not just in Christchurch but around the country and were occurring more often than was reported to police:
  "It's becoming more and more urgent for police to gather data of racial abuse. The Government does agree but has said it's not a priority. People needed to report their experience and schools needed a culture of tolerance and respect, he said."
Well his words have been proven to be true, incidents of racial discrimination have continued to increase. Perhaps the government should now give this issue priority and stop worrying about what it will do to New Zealand's international reputation, or the crime figure?

The report was released as scheduled on 11 March 2010 and Lincoln Tan of the Herald covered the story:
"The Human Rights Commission says racial discrimination and harassment in New Zealand is worrying.

In the annual Race Relations Report released today, the commission says it received 1253 race-related complaints and inquiries last year, which is "significantly higher" than in previous years.
Complaints related to race accounted for 55.4 per cent of all discrimination approaches.
"Data on racial discrimination and harassment from 2009 are a cause for concern," said Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

Also on the rise is public perceptions of discrimination against ethnic minorities, especially Asians...
There was an interesting snippet about the plight of people on temporary work permits, demonstrating that they are still being affected by 'jobs for kiwis' policies:
"Nearly one in three Maori and Pacific youth were unemployed at the end of 2009. People on temporary work permits were also affected by the recession, as their permits were not extended," Mr de Bres said." read the article

For blog posts about Racism in New Zealand please click HERE,

See Also:  Malaysian tour group subjected to racism in Arrowtown.

Today's posts - click here

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Migrant Stories - "The Health Care System Is Second Rate" - Updated: "Horrific Workloads"

11 February 2010
Continuing in our series of Migrant Stories: first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.

This story was written by a nurse with over 30 years of experience. In it she tells of prejudice and how difficult it was to find a job. She also talks about how thousands and thousands of health care dollars are being wasted because there is no incentive to change and of how people wait so long for some tests and treatments that permanent damage is done to their health. She is minded to stay and work through this but her Kiwi partner is starting to look toward Australia to make some money.
"As a nurse in the US with over 3 decades of experience, I can tell you I had one helluva time trying to get registered to work as a nurse in this country. I have found there is prejudice here - even if you are skilled and willing to work, not coming here looking for a handout - just a JOB. (I lost track of the number of applications I filled out - to do ANYTHING - before I literally got lucky and got a job at a DHB hospital as a Health Care Assistant, which was a major stepping stone to getting the registration.)

My partner, a kiwi, was just as surprised (and disappointed) at the difficulty I had. I make a good living here, and it's because I do work hard. And, to be honest, I'm going through some not unexpected issues where I work - but in talking with other foreign (and young, less experienced) nurses, it seems to be the norm. So I am just biting my tongue and getting through it; I know enough to recognize it and I can deal with it. Some of it is because it's New Zealand, some of it is because it's nurses.

Another negative here - they are resistant to change moreso than anywhere I've ever seen. I worked in the health insurance industry for 10 years before I came here, and one of the things I looked for were areas where money was wasted. Here, I can see thousands and thousands of health care dollars wasted because there is no incentive to change things. And they do some things here the same way we did them in US hospitals when I was a student nurse. And since residents here see health care as "free", they really don't care. And they don't realize the health care system is second rate. Yep, I said it and I really believe it. I see things every day that scare the hell out of me. People have to wait days for some tests and treatments that would be done in a matter of hours in the US. By then, permanent damage has been done. But, oh well, that's just the way it is.

The saddest thing is, I believe New Zealand, because it IS a small country, has the potential to be a world leader in health care. Too bad it will never happen, because nothing will change unless there is a catastrophe that makes it absolutely necessary and without option.

My life here is simpler, and I do delight in the small things - like seeing the covey of quail cross the road when I'm on my way to work in the morning, or seeing gorgeous flowers in bloom, or just simply the ever changing scenery (which at the moment is pretty brown and crispy.) So, I'm staying, even though I know my partner is starting to get the itch to go back to Oz and make some money. He has been looking for a job for several months. So, yeah, even if you have experience and education, that doesn't mean smooth sailing as far as getting a job here.

Excuse me, though, as I must put on my rose-colored glasses and go sit in the sun. (First applying sunscreen so I don't develop skin cancer!)"
Doctors and Nurses Notes
There is a workforce crisis in New Zealand's hospitals. Specialist senior doctors are being lost and there is a shortage of cancer specialists. Staff are lost to Australia (where the salaries are 35% higher) and to private practice. The causes are: low pay by international standards, overwork and lack of resources to do the job.

In 2008 The College of Nurses, Aotearoa, NZ Inc. advised the incoming government of the following problems:
*"Unmanageable workloads and limited job satisfaction through inability to maintain professional standards of care deter people from remaining in the nursing profession. Most nurses graduate with high levels of debt and emigration is seen as a sensible option for many who face many years of debt repayment in New Zealand.  Currently 23% of the NZ nursing workforce is imported, often from countries which can ill afford to lose nurses.

* The many innovations and initiatives that nursing has striven for (such as establishment of the Nurse Practitioner role and increased nursing services in PHOs) are consistently slowed, impeded or blocked at health policy level.

* The magnet hospital movement is a strongly evidence based solution to patient safety and nurse workforce recruitment and retention. It remains largely ignored in NZ despite vigorous efforts by nursing to see it promoted.

* A larger Maori nursing workforce is needed to provide services to Maori"
See also an article in The Nelson Mail, 6 March 2010: "Nurses fear cutbacks put lives at risk" :
" The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has been told by Health Minister Tony Ryall to stop spending so much money because of its worsening deficit, but nurses are saying the constraints are putting patients' lives at risk.

Nurses who expressed concerns over these risks are too scared to be named for fear of losing their jobs...

...(A) nurse said sometimes there were only two or three nurses on an afternoon shift for a full ward of 30 patients and one house surgeon for the whole hospital. "Concerns have been raised through the appropriate channels and nothing gets done about it," she said.

A third nurse, who left her job because of the stress, ended up hating nursing. "You leave there feeling like you haven't done your job."

There was a culture of bullying and a "sit down and be quiet culture" at the hospital, she said."
Updated 11 March 2010: The Nelson Mail
"Nelson nurses tell of 'horrific workloads'"
"...One nurse, who said she sought counselling after months of stressful shifts, ended up resigning. She said six other nurses had also left their jobs at the ward she worked in since September last year and most were not being replaced.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, said she was speaking out because she believed it was important to battle for patient and nurse safety. She believed nurses needed a lawyer to work in their defence because of a lack of action over their concerns from the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and hospital managers. Letters shown to The Nelson Mail outline a detailed complaint she made to senior management, including the director of nursing, last year.  In the letter, the nurse points to a shift last winter which prompted nurses to file an incident form.

It was one of the "many horrific shifts" she had to work. There were four nurses when six should have been on with six admissions, a cardiac arrest and a death. She had no meal break and each nurse had seven to eight patients as well as a student to oversee...

Former Nelson Hospital nurse: "As nurses we expect the odd busy horrible shift, but this becomes an ethical dilemma when the majority of shifts are like this."

"Lives have already been put at risk, with deaths occurring."

"The environment at this hospital is already at crisis point, with staff leaving and patient deaths. How the hell are staff going to cope with cutbacks if the environment has already been so badly affected in the past few years? The winter will be a nightmare from hell."

Current nurse: "Maternity staff have been leaving in droves over the past 18 months and there has been a policy not to replace them."
See also:

Radiographers strike could threaten hospital treatment 

Residents of Queenstown are getting only about half the health services of similar sized centres in Otago and Southland

Director General of Health to 'stand down'

Today's posts - click here

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Local Shop Robbed By Pistol Wielding Youths

The Pricecutter in Bridge Street, Huntly was robbed last night by three bandanna wearing youths brandishing pistols and an iron bar. Various news organisations are running the story today (link  link)

The robbery took place at around 7:45pm and it looks like a quantity of cash was taken. Police arrested two 18 year old and one 16 year old youth a short time later.

View Larger Map
google street view of Bridge Street shops

We noted that news reports about the robbery mention that the thugs were wearing bandannas, usually this is code for "gang members" The small town has been suffering from other aggravated robberies and violent crimes in recent times.

On 23 January a man in his 70s was bashed from behind with a brick whilst unloading goods from a van on Bridge Street at around 5pm on 20 January. He was robbed of the few dollars he had in his pocket.

The victim has lived in Huntly for about 10 years and said it was the first time he had experienced anything like it. The Waikato Times reported him as saying:
"I've never had anything like this happen. I get on well with the community and mix with them all and wouldn't say it's out of character, but it's out of character with the people that I deal with."

The man was angry such an attack could take place in his town.

"They're layabouts and gutless people, and don't care who they attack. They ought to get real and get themselves a job and do something in society ...

"There's always some idiot out there who wants to prey on somebody, just for a few dollars."

To the best of our knowledge other recent violent crimes in the town include:
  • The hold-up of the post shop on Main Street at around 9.30am on 11 December
  • The shot-gun heist of an Armourguard van making a delivery to the ANZ Bank on 3 November 
  • An armed robbery of 4 motorbikes from Kihikihi motorbike store which resulted in an armed offenders call-out with helicopter support at a north Huntly address on 28 July 2009.
Just what is causing this rise in violent crime in the small town (population just over 7,000) is unclear but we suspect that the man who suffered the brick attack may have put his finger on it: "They're layabouts and gutless people, and don't care who they attack. They ought to get real and get themselves a job and do something in society."

See Also: Armed Robberies 

 Today's posts - click here

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

NZ Gives Support To Resumption Of Commercial Whaling

If various news reports are to believed NZ's representative at the IWC meeting in Florida is set to give their backing to a proposal that will allow resumption of commerical whaling activities by some countries. See "New Zealand Now is now a Pro-Whaling Country"

The proposal has caused an international outcry and is already isolating New Zealand's stance from that of its closest neighbour, Australia:
"The draft proposal, led by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, was to again allow commercial whaling but with a 10-year sinking lid on the number that could be caught.
Australia rejected the draft proposal and reiterated a threat to take legal action at the International Court of Justice if a diplomatic solution is not agreed by November."
John Key has said Commercial whaling "might be acceptable if it was acceptable to others" but
"Labour's foreign affairs spokesman Chris Carter said New Zealand was "kowtowing" to pressure from a handful of countries.
"In a little over a year John Key has turned New Zealand from being a world leader in marine mammal conservation to being an active advocate for the resumption of commercial whaling."
Chris Carter may also like to take a look at New Zealand's record on dolphin slaughter.

A NIWA Report estimates 110 – 150 Hector’s and Maui’s Dolphins die in commercial gill nets every year, they are being fished to extinction in New Zealand waters. The report substantiates urgent calls for action from Care for the Wild International (CWI), a wildlife charity that promotes the conservation and welfare of wild animals around the world through direct projects, education, research and science-based advocacy.(source)

Today's posts - click here

International Students "Only Seen As Cash Cows"

You've got to hand it to the professor of Asian studies at Auckland University**. She isn't afraid to say what a lot of us have known for some time, it's just refreshing to see it spoken about so frankly. What makes her statements so much more credible is that she is in the position to know more about these these things than the rest of us.

From another excellent article by the migration affairs reporter in the New Zealand Herald, Lincon Tan, we learn that:
"International students are worth $2 billion annually to the economy. "If you want to put it crudely, they are seen only as cash cows," said Professor Manying Ip, a professor of Asian studies at Auckland University."
$2 Billion, who'd have thought it was that much. This is a major earner for the country where the GDP is $115 Billion.

So what other benefits, besides the obvious, do international students have for New Zealand? Not many it seems and local students are feeling uneasy about having so many 'foreigners' in their classes:
"New Zealanders' attitudes towards international students today is very different to the days when we had the Colombo Plan, when they really wanted to share the benefits of New Zealand education with the developing world."

International students support 45,000 jobs, pay more than $600 million in direct fees and the travel and tourism industry further benefits from their visiting friends and families.
Professor Ip says the value of international students are being equated by schools to getting a new IT room or a swimming pool, rather than any of the non-monetary benefits they bring.
Even local students feel uncomfortable in the presence of too many international students, another academic says."

In Canterbury why do only the Pakeha (Caucasian) students take umbrage and leave when the international students turn up, where do they go we wonder?:
"Last year, head of Elam Art School Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, said: "I know from my time in Canterbury, you can have too many international students and the Pakeha students take flight."
Professor Ip says although her colleague's comments were regrettable, it was not an unknown kind of feeling.

"I try to convince my colleagues of the other benefits, like international connections and cultural awareness, to a university in an isolated country like New Zealand, but it has been a struggle."
A new swimming pool is so much more tangible.

The article ends with a judicious application of PR salve from the university, no doubt mindful that somewhere in NZ the funding of a new IT suite could be in jeopardy:

"This year, Auckland University has 908 new international students, who will be paying tuition fees of more than $20 million. 

Vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon says it is grossly inaccurate to say international students are being treated as cash cows.

Dr Christopher Tremewan, the university's international pro vice-chancellor, said issues sometimes arose because professors failed to distinguish between international students and immigrant students, who did not have to take strict language tests to enter the university and often struggled with the English language."
One has to ask why strict language tests aren't required. Surely for the sakes of the students who are investing thousands of dollars in their education it would be advisable to ensure that they can at least understand what they are being taught? Is the international language of cold, hard cash is all that's needed?

** "Dr Ip is a respected advocate for Chinese communities living in New Zealand. She was awarded a Suffrage Centennial Medal in 1993 and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1996.  In 2004 she co-directed New Faces Old Fears, a television documentary exploring racism, multiculturalism and social cohesion in New Zealand. In late 2008, she was elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Academy of Humanities (FNZAH) in recognition of her distinction in research and the advancement of the humanities." (source)

See also: blog posts tagged 
Blog posts tagged Education 
"Principals divided over Asian studies" "Palmerston North secondary school principals are divided over whether students should be taught more about Asia to boost future chances of doing business with countries such as China and India.

All but one Palmerston North high school have Asian international students enrolled and have sister schools in Asia, but only half of the principals think it is relevant to include more Asian content in the school curriculum. None offers Mandarin as a language..."

Today's posts - click here

Monday, March 8, 2010

Womens' Rights Slipping In New Zealand

On International Women's Day we thought we'd do a round up of just three issues that impact on women in present day New Zealand and look to see what progress, if any, is being made with them. What we found is that women's affairs are going backwards:

Pay Gaps
New Zealand has had a gender pay gap between men and women of about 12 per cent median hourly rates for the past decade (source) The Human Rights Commission's annual scrutiny of how Crown Entities are reporting on their good employer obligations shows a lack of visibility given to pay equity despite a significant gender pay gap in the health sector.

"The 21 DHBs, who employ around 80 per cent women, undertook pay and employment equity reviews and developed response plans with staff from January 2007 to April 2008. One DHB reported a pay gap of 31 percent on full time equivalent earnings" (source)
"Five undertook full reviews and 16 were involved in a verification process. However, the Commission has found no DHB reported ongoing work in relation to response plans in their last annual reports. Only half made reference to having an equitable transparent and gender neutral remuneration system.
“It is disappointing to see a slowdown in commitment to closing the gender pay gap in the health sector. We hope staff and managers will find the monitoring tool useful to pick up the pace”.
The Commission has urged the Government to set a minimum target of halving the gender pay gap by 2012 and eliminating it by 2020." (source as above)

"The government's Pay and Equity Unit was closed down because it had completed its work when Minister of Labour, Kate Wilkinson said the unit still had 20 pay equity investigations to complete when she axed it." (source)

Meanwhile the pay gap between New Zealand and Australia continues to widen.

"Phil Goff said a recent survey showed that 78 per cent of Australian companies are planning to lift salary levels this year compared to New Zealand companies where just 55 per cent are planning to do the same. In Australia 55 per cent of firms intend to increase staff levels, double the percentage in New Zealand.

“The only area where New Zealand has caught up with Australia is unemployment. Unfortunately our unemployment rate is well ahead of our trans-Tasman neighbours,” Phil Goff said.

“At 7.3 per cent our unemployment is running nearly 2 per cent higher than Australia’s. 168,000 Kiwis are now unemployed (many of them women, see below) and nothing the Prime Minister said in his opening address to Parliament is going to change that." (source)

In  a three month period more than 15,000 New Zealand women lost their jobs. In the quarter to September 2009 almost two thirds of the people who became jobles were women (source)

Sexual Assault and Abuse
The ACC Sensitive claims 'clinical pathway' policy whereby women will be required to disclose an assault and then wait for the wheels of beaurocrasy to process their claim before they can proceed with counselling, has been condemned as clinically unsound,contrary to ACC’s statutory requirement to provide treatment that conforms “to best clinical practice” and discriminates against women directly and indirectly

Under the changes ACC want to make it harder to get funding by making a diagnosis of mental illness a requirement. Furthermore they propose limiting funding to only sixteen sessions of treatment (source)

The National Council of Women of New Zealand has said it is opposed to the change because:
* Counsellors, Therapists, Social Workers, and currently, Psychotherapists are no longer qualified to provide ACC assessments for subsidised treatment for victims of sexual abuse and/or sex crimes.
* There are insufficient Psychologists and Psychiatrists in New Zealand to provide the necessary assessments, so the period of waiting before ACC subsidised treatment can be approved could be as long as nine months.
* The Psychologists and Psychiatrists who are qualified to undertake assessments do not necessarily have a history or relevant work experience in the field of sexual abuse.
* If you undergo a DSM IV assessment by a Psychologist or Psychiatrist, it will be determined that you have experienced mental illness as a result of trauma. This will have implications in the future when seeking assistance in terms of his/her mortgage, access to insurances, and opportunities for employment.
* There are no regulations within the law that require those seeking subsidised counselling to be classified as having an illness.
* Those working in the sexual violence field are deeply concerned that ACC is encouraging professionals to breach the Code of Ethics.
* The clinical pathway is discouraging women from seeking recovery via the ACC subsidised counselling system.
* The maximum number of sessions that ACC will approve at any one time is 16; this replaces the previously set figure of 30 sessions.
* The ACC sensitive claims clinical pathway discriminates against women directly and indirectly." (source)

For more statistics on issues that impact on women and children please see our NZ Facts of Life pages which includes data on teen pregnancy rates, youth suicide and the shocking statistic that in NZ only 9% of sexual offences get reported to police, and of those only 13% of rapes resulted in convictions. The median age of victims is 23 and Europeans account for 61% of the victims - See 'Conviction rate in sex cases'

There is also an estimate that the social cost of sexual violence in NZ is $1.2 billion per year. It is NZ's most costly crime

We may be adding to this post as the day progresses.

Today's posts - click here

The Oscars. Avatar, Precious Or Hurt Locker?

And the nominees for Best Picture are:
  • Avatar” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
  • The Blind Side” Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson, Producers
  • District 9” Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
  • An Education” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
  • The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro, Producers
  • Inglourious Basterds” Lawrence Bender, Producer
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
  • A Serious Man” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
  • Up” Jonas Rivera, Producer
  • Up in the Air” Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

Our money is on the Hurt Locker, it was a hard choice Precious is a serious contender too, we like both very much.

For those films with NZ twist: Avatar's story is that of the indigenous Americans and has been told before but this time there are confusing NZ icons and Chinese Islands. It's great to see District 9 up there though, 'Alien' adaptation issues: belonging, social inclusion and tolerance for those who are different is something that will strike a chord with the diaspora of many countries currently suffering from the effects of racism and xenophobia.

See Also: 'The Cove wins best documentary' Link
Today's posts - click here

Hundreds Of Teachers Assaulted In NZ Schools

It's good to know that the days of investigative journalism aren't quite over, yet, in New Zealand.

The Dom post has used the Official Information Act to find out how many school staff received ACC funded treatment following an assault at school and put that together with Ministry of Education figures for 2008, to reveal that at least 777 teachers were assaulted whilst at work during 2008/9 (that's without the figures for non-treatment assaults in 2009):
"Hundreds of teachers have received ACC-funded treatment after being assaulted at school.

Principals are shocked by the figure and are demanding immediate action to make schools safer

Some school staff now fear breaking up fights in case pupils have weapons, and others refuse to do lunchtime duty alone.

A teacher injured during a school attack says that staff will always be at risk from "nutters".

Figures issued to The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act show that 442 teachers needed ACC-funded treatment after assaults at school during 2008 and 2009, costing about $413,000.

Latest Education Ministry figures show there were a further 335 pupil assaults on teachers in 2008 that did not require ACC-funded treatment.

The most expensive individual claim was for a 2008 assault, worth about $124,000. ACC refused to provide details about the incident.

The two largest assault claims last year were about $40,000 and $45,000.

A secondary school teacher seriously injured in a classroom attack last year fears he will never make a full recovery. He has spinal injuries, suffers constant pain and tires easily."

We suspect that this teacher may be the one who was stabbed in the back whilst teaching at Avondale College in March 2009 (see link)
"I am able to work only part-time hours because of the injury I sustained to my spinal cord. I have a pronounced limp in the leg that was paralysed and my neurosurgeon cannot say for sure that I will ever make a full recovery. Some situations still trigger flashbacks of the incident.

"As an avid sportsman, my lifestyle has had to undergo many changes which I am having trouble accepting.

"I think anyone in a job that fronts the public is at risk from the nutters that exist in our society, people who lack awareness of the damage they can inflict or lack conscience."
The report's figures don't go back far enough to include Lois Dear who was battered to death and sexually assaulted in her classroom in 2006 (link)
The Post Primary Teachers Association, a union representing about 18,000 teachers and principals, says that unless classrooms are made safer, teachers will leave the profession.

"It is a serious issue and I can't see the problem going away, but there are no easy answers," spokeswoman Jill Gray said.
Solutions are rarely easy but that doesn't mean they can't, or shouldn't, be tackled. 
"Some teachers were too scared to do lunchtime duty alone and had resorted to supervising in pairs.

"I find it very sad that it has come to this, but hopefully these figures really highlight the issue and get some action started..."
How long has this been a problem for? Search for our posts under the tag School Violence.

A golden opporunity to so something about bad behaviour in schools was passed up on at the Behaviour Summit in March 2009. Some of you may remember that we said in September:
"At the end of the summit a number of priorities for action were agreed on:
  • Ownership of the issue and improve collaboration between families, communities, government agencies and schools.
  • Early intervention – working with children in the early stages of life and in the first stages of things going wrong in their lives.
  • Initial teacher education and sustained teacher professional development to provide the skills required to manage extreme behaviour.
  • Stronger emphasis on getting it right for Maori students.
  • More support for successful evidence based programmes such as Incredible Years.
  • Share the evidence about what works.
Earlier this month (September) the Minister of Education - Ann Tolley announced that the Taumata’s cross-sector planning group had handed her a draft Behaviour and Learning Action plan and that she was discussing it with them. She said "The potential impact is great - for kids, families, teachers and our communities. The Plan is based on better use of current funding and re-aligns current funding and services to evidence of what works."

So, it's now five months after the summit and the plan has still to get any further than the discussion stage.

Meanwhile acts of school violence have been continuing, culminating in two school invasions this week - the ultimate disruptive classroom behaviour. What a pity that the issue of bullying - both in schools and in the wider community - seemed to have been dismissed during the summit. A golden opportunity has slipped away and the issue seems to be destined to be skirted around ad nasuem."

Who'd be a teacher in NZ?

Today's posts - click here

Migrant Stories - Refuge From NZ Found In A Muslim Country

Continuing in our series of Migrant Stories: first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.

Today's story is taken from Expatexposed, it has also been re-published recently on the Japanese forum The Gaijin Pot. It tells of an American migrant's protracted stay in New Zealand, the bullying and depression that was endured and of how she and her children won refuge eventually in what must have seemed the most unlikely of places - the Arabian Gulf.

"It took me 16 years to "work my way out" of NZ. I got out one year ago next week. Had I known that this website existed, I would have had a MUCH easier time of it. I always thought and was lead to believe (by Kiwis) that it was me or it was my children's fault. Sick, sick society.....shame on you. Those were the worst years of my life, as I came to see that I would never be accepted or understood simply because I hadn't been born there attended the same kindy everyone else had or hadn't whakapapa and the name of a whaka to give me the right to be a New Zealander.

No mater what I did to fit in or change myself..... I tried to change myself because I thought it was me who needed to change. Then the slow rot of reality and resulting depression as I saw the hopelessness of my situation. Years of hopelessness and feeling I was just waiting to die. Seriously. I was just waiting for it all to end. And then, about 2 years ago, I realized after each month went by that it was soon going to become impossible for me to afford electricity and food for my family, petrol to get to work, rates on the house and the mortgage payment. I worked out I couldn't afford to subdivide my property, couldn't sell my house, couldn't drive 12 hr. shifts in a truck(I'm a 56 year old solo mum by the way), and had to do something quicksmart , or else.

It took me 10 months to get into a job in the Arabian Gulf and get me and my sons out of there. Those months were appalling, hard and gave me so much gray hair and we flew out on a wing and a prayer that this job would work out to be Ok. But it's been very, very worth it.
We are sooooooo much happier here in a Muslim country where the people at least show you some courtesy and respect and, though an entirely different and very strange culture, are ten times nicer than the "friendly" folks in NZ.

My sons hate New Zealand and say they will never go back. I will have to decide at some point what to do about my 'stuff' there but, if I can swing a way to avoid it, I will find another place to go before I die. I will do my best to stay hereabouts as long as I can manage. We are lucky I know, but we worked hard and suffered to get out. I can only wish for all of you who want to leave that it will work out for you. Honestly, I knew it was bad when we were there but it wasn't until we got out that it hit me, what a nightmare. I always tell people here my story and they look at me in amazement..... They can't believe it.

As for you guys who love it there, good onya mate. Aren't you the lucky ones, eh? Give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back and smile a self-satisfied smile...... but never overlook, downplay or belittle another person's pain because some day it will come around and bite you big-time on the a**. I promise you... mate.

And as for you delightful Kiwi trolls who visit this site and argue that all this just didn't happen and we are all a big bunch of girl's blouses...well (insert bad word) you. It happened to me and to my babies who had to spend 15 yrs. of their life in constant sadness and depression, bullied and abused by your nasty little sods of children and their teachers."

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1080 Dropped On Contractors Playing Possum

 Another blow was to dealt to NZ's 100% Pure reputation today. First it was the Brazilian tourists who say they were sprayed with brush killer whilst hiking in the Kahurangi National Park, now it's a group of contractors who allege they had toxic 1080 pellets dropped on their heads whilst out working. Ironically the aggrevied men were contractors spraying weed killer in Lucy's Gully near New Plymouth.

In a report published on Stuff one of the contractors is alleged to have said
 "We've got poison dropping on top of us, we just wanted to get the hell out of there...... it's a scary thought," contractor Lewis Beattie told One News.

The crew got out of the gully and his brother, Dan, tried to find out what was happening from his employer, when he said another helicopter flew over and dropped another load of the highly toxic poison on them.

While the two men admit they are strongly opposed to 1080 use, they said their colleagues were not speaking out because they feared for their jobs if they raised any objection to being showered with the poison.

DOC spokesman Phil Fleury said the department had informed the men about the drop two days earlier.

Residents living near to the drop-zone filmed the helicopters at work, and expressed concern over the poison getting into sources of water or flying outside of approved areas, the channel reported.

1080 is the brand name for Sodium fluoroacetate. In New Zealand, DOC uses the poison to control possums and rats. "

A bit more light was shed on the incident by The Herald who say that the contractors were not phoned or warned about the drop until after it took place and that:

"DOC said it had no obligation to warn the contractors. Spokesman Phil Fleury said they had been told two days in advance that the poison could be spread dependent on the weather.
"The courtesy call is the 48 hours notice and the choice that they can make to be in there or not. We don't consider people were at risk while they were in the park while this operation was on."
If they don't consider people to be at risk during the operation why bother issuing an alert two days previously? Either the stuff is safe, or it isn't. Trampers and day trippers aren't so lucky, they don't get 'courtesy calls' what are DOC's obligations toward them?

It makes the personal account of the Brazilian trampers all the more credible and it's interesting to note that at the time they were exposed to the aerial spraying of weed killer they said:
"Most times we would see 1080 drops around the tracks and when they spray they don't seem to care if anyone is there. Many of the travellers we met were saying the same thing. New Zealand's 1080 poison and weed spraying programmes will definitely have a big negative impact on your tourism."
Are we detecting a recurrent theme here?

For other posts about toxic 1080, a poison that is broadcast from helicopters to kill unwanted mammals in the landscape see HERE

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Time for Tip Top Thugs

The Tip Top Dairy in Blenheim was one of the many, many small businesses that were terrorised by armed robbers last year but some measure of justice has been dealt out after two of the people responsible were given jail sentences on Thursday for the parts they played in the crime.

Quade Ross Honey, 21, and Rex Randle Chapman, 18, who used a boning knife to threaten the store's owners Lin Yang and Haw Jiang, were sentenced to three years and two years eight months respectively for the robbery that bagged them $1,600 worth of tobacco products and confectionery.

Both men were already serving sentences for previous crimes when they attacked the dairy. According to the Marlborough Express:

" Honey had 12 convictions from 2007 to 2009, including burglary, assault, possession of a knifecannabis charges. In May last year he was sentenced to community work and intensive supervision – a sentence he breached by committing the robbery, Judge Barrie said."
Intensive supervision? that was effective. 
"He said Chapman had an "apprenticeship in dishonesty" as a youth, and last year committed a street robbery, for which he was sentenced to community work and supervision in December."
That was as equally 'effective.'
"Meanwhile, a third man allegedly involved in the robbery will appear in court on March 29.
Johnny Harvey Wiremu Baker, 18, is charged with waiting in a car outside the dairy and driving Chapman and Honey away after the robbery.

He has denied the charge but has pleaded guilty to breaching an earlier sentence of community detention by intentionally removing his security bracelet. "

Yet the two career criminals only got short prison sentences, with parole they're likely to be back in the community within months. What's the present maximum penalty for armed robbery?...14 years? Who'd be a shop keeper in Blenheim, especially Lin Yang and Haw Jiang who have been through so much recently? They've lived in NZ 13 years, six of them in Blenheim at the Scott St shop. They moved from Christchurch after a dairy they owned there was robbed by a man with a gun.
"Christchurch is not safe," Ms Jiang said. "And now here is not safe."
There is some merit in the "Three strikes and you're out" law after all , at least the streets of one small town would be a lot safer. Under the proposed law second time offenders won't get parole, their length of stay will be up to the sentencing judge to determine. Third time and they're hit with a maximum sentence: no parole, no discretion.

Perhaps if these mongrels had that sort of penalty hanging over their heads it will be more of an incentive for them to keep their noses clean than picking up litter for a few hours every week?

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