i haven't managed to post much in the last week because i've been busy with a few things. i was expecting things to quieten down towards the end of march, but hasn't happened yet. here are the things i've been doing this weekend:
friday night i rushed to auckland after work, and wrote an accountability report with another member of the islamic women's council (iwcnz). we also prepared a verbal report for the meeting on saturday.
saturday i was in a meeting from 9am to 6pm, as one of the iwcnz reps at the federation of islamic associations council meeting. always an interesting affair, being vastly outnumbered by the men in the room. however, they were quite supportive, and we pretty much got all the things we requested, so it felt like a positive day.
saturday night was the night glow event staged by balloons over waikato. it was a rush back to hamilton, and i thought i'd missed it but managed to get there in the nick of time. if you've not been, it's a lovely sight watching the balloons light up in the dark, in time to music. there's a video clip here, at pretty much the angle we were watching from. it was followed by a pretty spectacular fireworks display - well, by hamilton standards anyway.
saturday was the ethnica conference, put on by the office of ethnic affairs. i didn't turn up til the afternoon because i thought i'd earned a morning to myself. however, it was well worth it to listen to tarun mohanbhai and roseanne liang discussing issues around arts and culture for ethnic communities. they've both contributed so much, and have wonderful senses of humour. i found them quite inspiring, especially in the way they tell stories through their art, stories that are a product of their own heritage and background but told in a way that everyone can relate to. or maybe i especially relate to them because i have that similar background of being a child of immigrant parents who has basically grown up in nz.
in any case, they have both shown an incredible amount of determination and courage to be able to succeed in a very difficult industry. and tarun managed to do it without receiving any grants or government funding. they've currently been busy putting on plays, and roseanne's play about chinese goldminers in otago sounds really great.
the other person on the panel was margi moore, head of the arts department at wintec. she spoke about a student exchange programme with a city in china. she talked about how the students came to nz to learn "western methods" as well as wintec staff visiting china. the way she told it, it sounded like a very one-way exchange with nz doing the giving and china the taking (in terms of knowledge and expertise). however, querying margi about it, the whole programme was as a result of a service requested by the chinese, and she was hopeful that it would eventually become a two-way process, whereby nz'ers would also learn from the chinese.
we also heard from hamilton mayor julie hardaker, who again encouraged ethnic minority communities to get involved in council affairs, including giving input into the councils draft 10-year plan. having just had an incredibly busy weekend, i was thinking that there is no way i'm going to find time to even read the thing, let alone give an opinion. and i know that many, many people are in the same boat. i suggested that hamilton needs an ethnic advisory panel similar to the one auckland has, as it's the only way solid and regular input from these communties is to be achieved.
sunday night i was busy writing up and circulating reports as a result of saturday's meeting. and tonight i've been to a fundraiser for affco workers. talleys have to be one of the most destructive business owners and operators in the country. they have little respect for their workers or for the environment, they have been embroiled in and lost a number of court cases. and they have a considerable amount of wealth, but it still doesn't seem to be enough. they want to squeeze even more money out of their business by worsening the livelihoods of their workers.
they have been engaging in significant anti-union practices aside from this latest lock-out. just like the POAL board, they are doing everything they can to ensure that workers aren't able to bargain collectively, so that workers are kept in a week position. it's appalling that this kind of behaviour, which is actually detrimental to all nz'ers, is allowed to continue.
if you'd like to give some financial support to these workers, please call 0900 LOCK OUT (0900 562568) to make a $5 donation. or you can contribute to this kiwibank account: 38-9007-0894028-08. it looks like it's going to be a long and ugly fight by talleys, so the workers need all the support they can get.