Monday, 31 August 2009

zeal dispute sorted out

in case you missed them, i had a couple of posts up at the hand mirror on friday, one about the national government preventing the leader of the opposition visiting our local firestation, for no good reason that i can see. the other is about proposed cuts to preparatory courses for university entrance, specially designed for those who have not managed to complete the NCEA qualification.

in good news today, the zeal 320 dispute (whereby an air nz subsidiary were paying lower wages to zeal workers than air nz workers) has been satisfactorily settled. you can get more information here:

The 15 month deal achieves a number of substantial improvements including a 3.95% pay increase, a 6.7% increase in a tour of duty allowance after 12 months, introduction of a new guaranteed allowance of either $149 or $186 a fortnight based on last year's value of an at-risk bonus scheme, a $1000 up-front payment and the addition of a number of non-financial clauses.

A working group to look at hours of work and rostering will also be established.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

accidental death cover

well, you learn something new every day. today i learnt about ACC's accidental death cover. i knew that ACC provided cover for medical expenses and in some cases weekly compensation for loss of income to the injured person. but i did not know that they provided money to the spouse and children of persons who died from accidental death.

the definition of accidental death includes murder, suicide, and death resulting from an injury as a result of medical treatment. in these cases, the spouse and children are entitled to:

  • a funeral grant (currently sitting at just over $5,000)
  • survivor’s grants for surviving spouses (lump sum of a few thousand), children and other dependants (can't remember the exact amounts here)
  • lost earnings compensation for surviving spouses, children and other dependants (weekly compensation based on the past year's earnings, if the person had ACC workplace cover at the time of death)
  • childcare for the deceased’s children (a weekly amount of over $100 per week for the first child, up until the child is 18).
some of this cover is available if the death occurs overseas, as long as you are still a nz resident or working for a nz company and paying tax in nz.

i guess this stuff seemed more relevant to me because someone i know of committed suicide last week, leaving behind dependants. apparently this stuff about accidental death cover is not widely known, and some people may be missing out on the support they need. so i thought i'd do my little bit to publicise it.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

still here, still posting...

i posted at the hand mirror yesterday, with some further updates and links on the ACC funding for sensitive claims counselling, along with some other bits and pieces. there have been further updates to the story, with the government backing down on some of the proposed changes. further questioning in parliament today can be found here, where the hon nick smith now assures us that "no final decisions have yet been made". the pressure definitely needs to be kept on to ensure the correct final decisions are made.

also, i'll have a post up tomorrow morning at the hand mirror about some important action points around pay equity, the report on the cartwright inquiry, and the EPMU campaign supporting telco technicians.

fasting is going well this year. i'm not finding it too draining, possibly because the days are shorter or maybe because i've been a little more organised and inventive around fast and healthy food (and sometimes not so healthy, but i try). i can't believe that 5 days have gone already!

Monday, 24 August 2009

who'll be caring for you?

i've posted at the hand mirror about a report into immigration requirements when it comes to care for the elderly.

also of interest is this article from last year about restrictions on religious practice in the xinjiang province of china, in the lead up to maori tv's screening of the documentary on uighurs next week (1 september).

Friday, 21 August 2009

a month to look forward to

well ramadan has started tonight. the islamic calendar works differently for days as it does for months. it's a lunar calendar, so 10 days shorter than the solar one. also, the new day doesn't start at midnight, it starts at sunset.

ramadan is not only a month where we don't eat or drink during daylight hours, but it's also a time for extra spiritual reflection and prayer. so the beginning of ramadan is marked by extra prayers at night, and i went to the mosque to join in with these. and nothing can compare with the sense of absolute peace and contentment that comes with this experience.

so when i was at a dinner earlier in the evening, and i told someone (not a muslim) that ramadan had started, i had to laugh at his respnse of "oh no!". i'm like "what do you mean by oh no?" and he replied "ramadan frightens me, having to spend the day without eating". so i told him how muslims look forward to ramadan, and it's because the month means so much more than just not eating.

this post i wrote last year pretty much covers what ramadan means to me. and like last year, i'll be posting less frequently, depending on what my energy-levels are like late in the evening. in the meantime, ramadan mubarak to all my muslim friends out there.

why do we need a new clinical framework?

i've posted at the hand mirror today, about changes by ACC to the clinical framework for counselling victims of sexual abuse. it's not good.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


have been meaning to write something substantial, but unfortunately other things keep intervening. one of those other things has been an interesting yet stressful discussion around postings to AEN. it's so hard to create spaces where different cultures can interact and raise issues, in a manner that's respectful enough that people feel safe to engage. and it's especially difficult when some of the issues raised can be particularly touchy.

i'm not one to say that touchy subjects should never be raised. indeed, they do have to be raised in order for stereotypes to be challenged and alternative perspectives to be given an airing. but on the other hand, if it's done the wrong way, then the challenge never happens and the alternative perspective doesn't appear.

the problem with belonging to a minority group is that the sources of attack are varied and constant. they come from media messages, insults hurled at you from the street, careless comments in the tearoom, interactions with shop assistants, and so on. in so many big and little ways, your points of difference are highlighted and sometimes thrown in your face. the pressure to conform is constant, the punishment for deliberately choosing not to conform can be harsh.

but the trouble is this. each individual who says something to me, well that's the only thing of the kind they've said that week, or maybe that month. but for me, it may be the 10th thing of a similar nature i've had to deal with that week. by the time i come to the 10th instance, my patience is gone, i've had enough and i'm pretty ready to lash out. the other person then wonders why i'm so damned sensitive and so easily offended.

so how, when i get to the 10th instance, do i patiently explain yet again the error and the misconception on the part of the person i'm interacting with. how do i explain the reality of my life, and how it is to live with this kind of thing all. the. time. and how do i know that the other person even wants to hear it. they think they're just making a joke, or pointing out (what seems to them to be) an obvious truth.

yup, sometimes it's not easy talking across different cultures. and it's really hard to set any kind of guidelines or boundaries as to what's acceptable and what isn't. so i've spent some time on email discussions, don't know if i've achieved anything at all. but i do have the satisfaction of knowing that i said what needed to be said.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

gamble free day

it's late, i'm tired, so cutting and pasting again! thought you might be interested in this from the problem gambling foundation:

Get a discount voucher from our website ( and you can receive 10% dining discount at the participating restaurants (137 restaurants in the five major cities in NZ) on Gamble Free Day 1st Sept 2008.

In 2004, the 1st day of September was proposed as the national day of action against gambling harm and “Gamble Free Day” was launched. This happened because during the past couple of decades, New Zealand ’s gambling industry has grown rapidly and this has caused considerable damage to individuals, families and our communities.

Did you know:
· Everyday in NZ $5.5 million is lost on gambling
· There are 14 convictions relating to gambling everyday
· Among those who seek help, the average amount of money lost from Asian clients is 7 times that of other ethnic clients

The purposes of this campaign launched by Problem Gambling Foundation, Asian Services are:
1) Raising the awareness of gambling harms in our communities
2) Promoting healthy entertainment & activities for individual / families / friends to participate in!

We encourage people to rather spend their time and money on family/friend’s gathering instead of gambling.

Enjoy a happy meal on Gamble Free Day!

and also,
this piece by anne else regarding a new book on the cartwright inquiry at national women's hospital well worth a read.

Monday, 17 August 2009

beauty promo

i've posted over at the hand mirror, about a beauty promotion by life pharmacy.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

disability support workers awareness week

whew, i'd like to know what a quiet weekend feels like, i've almost forgotten. but at least i got the important chores of groceries and clothes-washing done, so that means i'm ahead for the week!

yesterday was the mosque open day in hamilton (part of islam awareness week), and the numbers were lower than in previous years. i guess that's because it's not such a novelty anymore. there used to be this notion that mosques were closed and mysterious places where strange rituals happened. but now that the open days have been happening every year, people have realised that they are places of worship just like any other. the fact is that mosques are open for everyone any day of the year, but i know people like to have an invitation before they step into a place that they don't see as their own. i can understand that.

still, it's an event that our community enjoys. we had games, videos playing in the mosque, displays, henna, and the sharing of food. i think however that the kilburnie mosque in wellington would probably take the prize for the most fun open days. wish i could have been in two places at once!

if you've read my blog for any length of time, you'll know i'm a big fan of maori tv. i really enjoy the foreign language films, and the documentaries they screen are pretty good as well. last week i watched part of one about media coverage of the o j simpson trial which was refreshing if only because it provided a perspective that we rarely get to see here.

now they are in discussion with officials from the chinese embassy because the station plans to broadcast a documentary about uighur people, told from the perspective of that population. it will be screening on 1 september.

and finally, i hadn't realised that this week was disability support worker awareness week. it's pretty much over now, but these are low-paid workers doing a crucial job, and they certainly deserve recognition:

Every day more than 110,000 disabled New Zealanders rely on disability support workers for medical support, meals, personal care and help the home.

Disability support workers provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for people with disabilities who live in community houses. They also visit homes and support people incapacitated by a disability. Their work enables people with disabilities to be as independent as possible.

This is demanding work that requires a wide range of skills and knowledge but in takes place out of public view.

For this complex and demanding work they are paid as little as $14.20 an hour, only marginally above the adult minimum wage of $12.50 an hour.

This is due primarily to a lack of funding from the government and the complicated and confusing way that the disability sector is funded.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

cellphone ban

bad formatting day yesterday, not sure what i was trying to do but hopefully it was coherent. so today we have the announcement that talking or txting on cellphones whilst driving is to be banned. fines will be handed out. the government is getting tough.

what i am seeing a total absence of (maybe i'm not looking in the right places?) are cries of nanny-state, interference in our lives, heavy-handed government... you know the spiel. where is it? when this issue was being discussed last year, there was plenty of righteous indignation to be found. maybe the forces of righteousness are gathering their strength and will come out in force tomorrow.

what also don't hear are accusations of this being yet another revenue-gathering exercise that will have little effect on safety. those wily police officers, who'll be hiding in the unlikeliest places, just waiting to catch you out so they can fulfil their quotas. instead of putting their resources towards catching the "real" criminals. surely someone is going to put in a vocal complaint about them? haven't heard any yet.

this is the closest i could find to any kind of dissatisfaction with the proposed ban, from the dog & lemon guide. but even they are simply asking for a change in the punishment ie instead of a fine, confiscate the phone. now that would definitely be more traumatic and actually a better deterrent.

but really, i'd like to hear from all those people who are sick of government interfering in our lives. you're going to put up a decent protest, right? right??

(disclosure: blogger has been known to occasionally talk or txt while driving.)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


ok, lazy post day as i had to go out to another islam awareness week event tonight. so, some catching up with links to posts i've put up at the hand mirror in the last few days. first is this post about mr george sodini who went on a killing spree in america last week, choosing to target women because... well, read the post. and read this one by the queen of thorns, which has some great links also well worth reading.

i also put up this post about overland shoes, which is exploiting it's vulnerable young workers.

there are a lot of petitions out there at the moment. a couple that i think are worth supporting are:

  • the unite union campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15. as far as i'm concerned, the only sure way to economic prosperity is to increase the wages of the least well off. we've pretty much seen that tax cuts don't work - at least the one on 1 april definitely didn't, because around 70% of nz'ers didn't get a cut, and some actually had to pay more tax. so i'm all for ensuring that people get a decent wage for their labour. you can download the unite petition from their facebook page, or you can phone them on 0800 2 UNITE

  • the other petition is due in this friday. it's organised by tim grigg and addresses the (alleged) breach of the privacy act by hon paula bennett. it reads:

  • We, the undersigned, respectfully request that the House of Representatives acknowledge that, in accordance with long-standing rights, any act of publicly opposing any government policy does not give actual or implied consent for any minister or public servant to release private, confidential, or personal information about the person making the complaint, and further request that the House of Representatives acknowledge and assert that the abuse of personal information held by the government is an affront to the rights of all New Zealanders to freely participate in democratic political debate and to trust their personal information will protected.

    if you're interested in this one and require further information, you can contact tim at

    Tuesday, 11 August 2009

    something about chris

    i've been meaning to write about hon chris carter for some days now, but as usual, get caught up with other things. i've been gettting really pissed off at the media attention, caused by the national government releasing information in an attempt to distract from the rort by hon bill english.

    see, there's a very simple difference between mr carter and mr english. mr english not only reorganised his affairs post-election in order to qualify for an allowance that he would otherwise not qualify for, but he also is claiming an out-of-wellington allowance when he is in fact not living out of wellington. mr carter, on the other hand, has been doing his job and claiming the expenses required to do it properly. and this is how i know.

    the first time i had any meaningful interaction with chris was back in 2004, when i invited him to a meeting of ethnic communities that i had organised in hamilton. since then, i got to know him through his portfolio of ethnic affairs. i'd meet him at almost every ethnic event i attended in auckland, and i was attending a fair few leading up to the 2005 campaign. i knew he was attending at least 4-5 events on a saturday and the same on a sunday, all across the country as the invitations would come from the deep south to the far north.

    i drove up to waitakere to attend a meet-the-candidates forum organised by the waitakere ethnic board. i met chris just as i was going in, and he said "great, you're here, you can stand in for me", and he took off. which gave me all of about 30 minutes to prepare my speech (got quite a few rousing cheers and the best of paula bennet, one of the high points for me of the 2005 campaign!). a few weeks later, chris' father passed away, and i knew then that he had taken off that evening to spend some time with his dad.

    but his commitment during that campaign was 100%. as it was during the whole time he was a minister. i remember spending waitangi day 2006 with him, and he was telling me about his plan to visit waiheke island the next weekend with peter. he said "that will be the first sunday i've had off for three years". yes, that was and still is the kind of commitment he has to his job.

    and that commitment has had an immeasurable impact. i can only speak of the portfolio i know about - ethnic affairs. and i know that his leadership ensured that nz came through some extremely difficult times in a much better state than many other countries. because chris carter showed leadership and set the tone.

    i remember when all the mosques in auckland were vandalised after the july 7 bombings in london. chris was the only MP to visit all seven of those mosques and give his support to the muslim community. when a young somalian woman went of the rails and hijacked a plane, injuring the pilot, chris had a press release out the same day asking that people refrain from demonising the somali community based on the actions of one troubled woman.

    time and again, when there was an incident of racial violence or tension, our minister was quick to speak out and to create an environment that made it difficult to demonise minorities. not only that, but it was during his time as minister that festivals such as diwali, chinese new year and eid were officially celebrated at parliament, in order to recognise the growing diversity of new zealanders.

    chris has been a strong advocate for ethnic communites when labour was in government, and so we saw increased funding for settlement support, the establishment of language line (ensuring that translation is available for phone calls to essential services), and the appointment of ethnic liaison officers in the police.

    as i say, this is just what i know and what i've seen myself in the portfolio area where i most interacted with him. i also know that, as minister of education, he made an effort to visit as many schools as possible. and i cannot imagine that he would show any less commitment to any of his other portfolios as he did to ethnic affairs.

    which is why i feel so angry with the current media beat-up, which is totally uncalled for. i can think of very few MPs who fit the description of "a hard-working and conscientious minister" the way that chris carter does. he's definitely one of my heroes.

    Monday, 10 August 2009

    islam awareness week

    today marks the beginning of islam awareness week. a pretty hectic week for muslims across the country as they put on a whole range of activities, culminating in mosque open days in the coming weekend.

    unbeknownst to me, i've already taken part in IAW by being part of a feature in the focus section of the sunday star times. they did a nice piece promoting "the crescent moon", a book about muslims in nz. the piece is not on-line (or if it is, i can't find it). basically it's an extract from book, focusing on 3 muslim women.

    tonight, i attended the first of the events in hamilton, being a function at the hamilton city council reception lounge. we heard from dr douglas pratt, who teaches religious studies and is very active in international interfaith activities.

    he mentioned this website, "a common word":

    On October 13th 2006, one month to the day after Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address of September 13th 2006, 38 Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world, representing all denominations and schools of thought, joined together to deliver an answer to the Pope in the spirit of open intellectual exchange and mutual understanding. In their Open Letter to the Pope (see english.pdf), for the first time in recent history, Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam spoke with one voice about the true teachings of Islam.

    since then, many other muslim scholars have signed up, and many christian and jewish individuals and organisations have responded. dr pratt pointed out the interesting thing about the open letter was that it didn't refer to the usual common meeting point of Abraham, but rather sought to find commonality through scripture.

    i haven't had time to read all the responses, but really liked this bit from the communique of the chief rabbis of israel and the archbishop of canterbury:

    "In this connection, we noted the recent letter from Muslim scholars and religious leaders to the Christian Churches. The 'Common Word', though addressed to Christian Churches, also makes clear its respect for Hebrew scripture in citing directly from the Book of Deuteronomy and in acknowledging the inspiration that this provided for their understanding of the Quranic teachings on the unity and love of God and of neighbour. In promoting these values we commit ourselves and encourage all religious leaders to ensure that no materials are disseminated by our communities that work against this vision.

    it doesn't seem so hard to build commonality and to find common ground. i wonder why it doesn't happen more often.

    Friday, 7 August 2009

    protesting ACE cuts

    i went to the protest rally against cuts to adult & community education in hamilton today. it was very well attended and people definitely felt strongly about the issue. there were some great speeches, including the ones by hon maryan street and catherine delahunty. but it was really frustrating to hear david bennett stand there and act like there wasn't even a problem.

    he basically denied there had been any cuts to the ACE sector, just a "reprioritising". even though two high schools in hamilton have stated that they will not offer any night classes from next year, based on the current funding cuts. i don't know what planet he's living on, but he obviously didn't hear anything said by any of the speakers.

    i'm sure there will be further action on this issue. there's a petition out there, which closes on 30 september.

    Thursday, 6 August 2009

    job losses

    yeah, sorry, more cutting and pasting happening tonight as well. i can't help it, i keep finding interesting stuff (well, interesting to me anyway).

    unemployment is in the news today, with a larger than expected rise (although hon paula bennett, as usual, is "not surprised" - wonder what percentage jump it would take to actually surprise her into doing something concrete?). anyway, i was just looking through the CTU july economic bulletin, and found this on unemployment:

    There were 50,885 people on unemployment benefits at the end of June 2009, which is 33,000 more people than there were in June 2008. Since this time last year there are also 8000 more people receiving the DBP, nearly 2000 more people receiving the invalids’ benefits, and over 8000 more people receive the sickness benefit. All rises can be partly attributed to the increase in unemployment. 72 percent of beneficiaries were male, which is a considerable increase from the 65.5 percent recorded back in June 2004. If broken down by age groups, 32.8 percent were in 18-24 category, 32.8 in the 25-39 category, and 34.3 percent were in the 40-64 age group. (emphasis added)

    wow. with all the bashing of solo-mums in the public arena, i found the 72% figure to be quite a surprise. on the other hand, it seems that women have been harder hit in the last three months:

    “Because the Government has no job protection or creation plans for areas of the economy where women work, 15,000 women lost their jobs during the three months to June.

    "Women represent 62.5% of those who lost jobs in the last quarter.

    the saddest thing about the whole situation is the lack of a consistent and comprehensive plan to create jobs. which may or may not be deliberate. after all, bargaining power shifts significantly towards employers in times of high unemployment.

    good things happening in nelson

    in lieu of not posting for a couple of days, i've putting up two posts in succession, although this one is also mostly cut & paste, like the last one was.

    this a press release i received via AEN from the race relations commissioner, & is great positive example which i'd like to share:

    A report released this week in Nelson contains sobering information on the incidence of racial harassment and abuse in the region, but Nelson organisations that contributed to the report deserve congratulations for having the courage to confront the issue, says Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

    “These incidents happen all over New Zealand, not just in Nelson”, Mr de Bres said. “ What is significant about the Nelson and Tasman situation is that local organisations have got together and resolved to ask people about their experience and to do something about it."

    The report - Towards a Reporting System for Racist Incidents in Nelson/Tasman - Diverse Communities Speak - was launched at a function in Nelson on Monday 3 August. Written by visiting Northern Ireland human rights lawyer Debbie Kohner, it was based on 30 focus groups involving 184 people of 48 ethnicities. It was commissioned by a coalition of organisations including the Nelson Multicultural Council, the Nelson Safer Communities Council, the Tasman District Council, the Nelson City Council, the New Zealand Police, Settling In, the Human Rights Commission and the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme.

    They decided to investigate the issues after a presentation at Whakatu marae in February where a coalition of Christchurch organisations outlined their initiative for a reporting website for international students experiencing racial harassment.

    “It was sad to hear that so many people had accepted racist abuse as simply being part of life in New Zealand,” Ms Kohner said.

    Police area commander Inspector Brian McGurk said police and community leaders were taking the report seriously.

    "We will be working to ensure it is followed up with a reporting system that provides a voice and direct action for those suffering racial harassment or discrimination."

    It would be for anyone who experienced racism, not just students, and would not just be web-based, Mr McGurk said.

    It would include phone calls and possibly face to face reporting.

    The Christchurch groups (which include the Christchurch City Council, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, Canterbury and Lincoln Universities, Christchurch Polytech, the Police and the Human Rights Commission) and the Nelson organisations will speak at a forum on the safety of international students and communities at the New Zealand Diversity Forum on 24 August in Wellington.
    Dr Helen Szoke, Executive Director of the Victorian Equality and Human Rights Commission, will also speak about the response to the recent racial attacks on international students in Melbourne.

    Executive summary of the Nelson report (PDF 400Kb)

    Full text of the Nelson report (PDF 1.8Mb)

    Details of the forum on the safety of international students and communities.

    Wednesday, 5 August 2009


    i've had a couple of extremely busy days, so no energy for posting. every time i feel that i'm getting on top of things, something unexpected turns up and i'm way behind again! that's life i suppose, and since everyone is happy and healthy, not much to complain about.

    i was listening to hon winnie laban in the house today talking about the cuts to home help for senior citizens covered by otago and southland DHBs. with the result that these people will no longer be able to stay in their own home, and will have to go into residential care. this is detrimental in terms of their physical health, but it is also a much more expensive option. the only ones to benefit from this are residential care providers, who get the benefits of increased demand & hence increased profits.

    here are a list of cuts to health services that have happened in the last eight months, some of which are:

    • Mid-Central DHB to cut $10 million from budget. General Manager for Corporate Services Stuart Wilson confirmed the DHB would carry out a line by line review and reduce the standard of services provided to patients to produce cuts of that nature. The DHB is also predicting job losses

    • Southland and Otago DHBs have confirmed they are cutting home support services to reduce costs. The Boards were looking to make savings of up to $10 million by reducing home support services for elderly.

    • Whanganui DHB has said it will be closing hospital wards on weekends to save money on nursing overtime.

    • South Canterbury DHB has said it will be reducing the amount of patients seen in its Emergency Department by up to 5000 people a year.

    • SCDHB has also signalled that it is looking to reduce the number of patients using radiology services. The DHB also confirmed on Friday that it would be axing up to 200 elective operations per year because of a cut in Government funding.

    • The Fruit in Schools programme which currently provides 100,000 children with fresh fruit each day is under threat.

    • Post budget Treasury documents show that primary health and health promotion services that target specific health conditions have had funding cuts of $37 million this year.

    • National have taken $2.3 million out of cancer control, slashed the diabetes ‘let’s get checked’ budget by $4.8 million, and cut $3 million from the cardiovascular disease budget. Mental Health services have also had their funding cut.

    this is supposed to be the "fat" in the health budget? the unproductive spending? the slashing of "bureaucracy"? i look at each of these, and all i can think are that the long term costs are going to be so much more than the very short-term financial benefits in terms of a balanced government budget.

    in the meantime, GPs get a funding increase of 6.5%. would be nice to have the minimum increased by that percentage. but it seems the recession doesn't have to affect everybody, especially not those with already decent incomes who apparently deserve more of our tax dollars.

    Monday, 3 August 2009

    unpacking privilege

    i've just posted at the hand mirror, about teaching children about the privileges they have been born to.