• Open Letter: Income support must go up before Christmas
    No matter who we are or where we live, we know that our wellbeing is interconnected with those around us. When everyone has what they need to look after themselves and fully participate in their communities, we all flourish. We all want every child in Aotearoa to experience a thriving and happy childhood. But right now, hundreds of thousands of children are constrained by poverty, despite parents’ best efforts. We’ve had a long period of low wages and high housing costs. For decades, governments have underinvested in key public services that build well-being in all our communities, like public housing and income support. Many governments have prioritised policies that help the already well-off, including people who make money from housing. As a result, too many parents are under-resourced, overstressed, and unable to give their children real opportunities to thrive. Now due to the ongoing COVID-19 economic fallout, more families are being pushed into poverty. Unemployment has risen at a record-breaking pace — increasing by nearly a third in the three months to September. Foodbanks and youth homelessness services are reporting huge increases in demand. By Christmas, it’s expected Work and Income will have allocated over 2.5 million hardship grants and advances this year alone. The situation is urgent. As the new government, you can release the growing constraints on individuals, families, and children. We are calling on you to lift one of the biggest limitations on whānau and child wellbeing: not having enough income. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, you acted quickly to set up the COVID income relief payment, which is nearly twice the amount of the usual jobseeker benefit. You showed us that you understand that current benefit levels are insufficient and lock families and children into poverty — an issue that affects all of us. Now, we are asking you to apply the same common sense approach to all income support. To make sure everyone, whether they are working, caring for children, living with a disability or illness, learning, or have lost their jobs before or because of COVID-19, has a liveable income. Doing so will help achieve your vision of making Aotearoa the best place to be a child. Before the election, the Labour party has consistently said there’s more work to be done to lift families out of poverty. You now have the mandate and opportunity to do so. Please increase income support before Christmas. Organisations who have signed the open letter are: ActionStation Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers Auckland Action Against Poverty Auckland City Mission Auckland Women’s Centre Barnardos Belong Aotearoa Beneficiaries & Unwaged Worker Trust Beneficiary Advocacy Services Christchurch Benefit Rights Service Birthright NZ Brainwave Trust Aotearoa CCS Disability Action Child Poverty Action Group Citizens Advice Bureau Community Housing Aotearoa Community Networks Aotearoa Disabled Persons Assembly E Tipu E Rea Whānau Services Equality Network FinCap FIRST Union Gender Justice Collective Gene Now Financial Literacy Trust Generation Zero Heretaunga Women’s Centre Hutt Valley Benefit Education Service Trust (BEST) Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective Lifewise Manaaki Rangatahi Manawatū Tenants’ Union Māngere East Community Centre Māngere East Family Services M.E. Awareness NZ Mental Health Foundation Methodist Alliance Monte Cecilia Housing Trust National Council of Women New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services New Zealand Council of Trade Unions New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Ngā Tāngata Microfinance NZ Disability Advisory Trust NZ Accessibility Advisory Trust NZEI Te Riu Roa OMEP Aotearoa Pacific Women’s Watch NZ PPTA Public Issues Network: Methodist Church Public Service Association Renters United Salvation Army Save the Children Sisters of Mercy Wiri Social Justice Group of the Auckland Anglican Diocese Social Link St Anne's Pantry St Matthews in the City Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services Te Ngākau Kahukura Tick for Kids Tokona Te Raki United Community Action Network Unite Union Aotearoa Urban Neighbours of Hope VisionWest Waipareira Trust We Are Beneficiaries Wesley Community Action Whānau Āwhina Plunket
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  • Stop the Waerenga industrial meat chicken farm
    Chickens farmed for meat have been selectively bred to grow rapidly over a five-six week period before they are slaughtered. At five-six weeks old, they will reach adult weight but they are still baby chicks. This puts incredible stress on their young bodies which struggle under the rapid growth. Many chicks die before even reaching five-six weeks old. Others will suffer lameness due to severe stress on their hip and leg joints, affecting their ability to walk. Buchanan Ellis Ltd want to build a free-range industrial meat chicken farm at Waerenga - however free-range isn't all it's cracked up to be. There are no industry standards or regulations for free-range in New Zealand, only that there must be a potential to access the outdoors. Since most free-range meat chickens are slaughtered at five-six weeks old, the amount of time they have to go outside is only around two-three weeks. In their first few weeks of 'growing' they are shut inside industrial buildings with around 40,000 other meat chickens. In practice, many chickens will never get outside because they have to get past thousands of other chickens to reach ‘pop holes’ to the outdoors. In addition, chickens are hierarchical by nature, meaning dominant chickens will often guard pop holes, denying less dominant chickens outdoor access. The Buchanan Ellis Ltd proposal would see six industrial farm buildings built at the Waerenga site, each containing 43,000 meat chickens. This would see 258,000 meat chickens suffering on site every six week cycle. Over the course of a year around two million meat chickens would be grown at the proposed Buchanan Ellis Ltd factory farm. As well as animal welfare concerns, there is significant community opposition to the Buchanan Ellis Ltd proposal. Locals are concerned that odour and dust levels from the proposed industrial meat chicken farm will negatively impact their homes, health and livelihoods. Increased heavy traffic movements impacting on road safety, appropriate water drainage and effluent disposal and damage to nearby wetlands are also among the community concerns. The application is limited notification, meaning that many of the affected locals and the general public cannot make a submission about the proposed factory farm. Given the significance of the Buchanan Ellis Ltd proposal on the local community and the animal welfare implications, Direct Animal Action believes the application should be publicly notified and, ultimately, that Waikato Regional Council should decline the application.
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  • Protect Porirua East!
    The proposed rules in the District Plan would enable a huge 25 year housing development programme in eastern Porirua. The project will mean over 1000 state homes knocked down, families displaced and private property acquired under the Public Works Act to free up land for property developers. The plan will see an additional 2000 houses for private sale crammed into the geographically small suburbs of Waitangirua and Cannons Creek. The main theme of the proposed district plan is to allow greater housing density, which is needed, but currently it does so in a way that discriminates on social class. Under the proposed plan the generally middle class suburbs become the low density General Residential Zone and the generally working - class suburbs become the medium density residential zone. This means reduced amenities for the east only! The plan in it's current state doesn't go far enough to tackle climate change. Porirua has an empty city centre that has space for apartment style housing that is walking distance to public transport and amenities. This space should be utilised before digging into our green belt. With over 1000 houses set to be demolished in the East we need to ensure that waste is managed and minimised, and the new builds bring an opportunity to used renewable energy sources. We need a Porirua that all people can get around and the community can live in. Our current housing stock doesn't meet the needs of our disabled and ageing whānau. Building new homes and spaces gives us an opportunity to make sure that everyone is adequately housed, can age in place and is able to participate in community. If you want to make your own submission you can do that here: https://poriruacity.govt.nz/your-council/city-planning-and-reporting/district-plan/proposed-district-plan/
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  • Increased funding and awareness for publicly funded grief counseling and support
    I see cracks in our system that we are letting beautiful people slip through every day through from no fault of their own. There is no denying cracks are inevitable and exist in a spectrum of situations, but making sure the cracks are as small as we can is important. For a lot of people this is the most serious thing they will ever deal with, I feel we are not doing enough. I'm no sparkling example of a human being, I'm not here to be one either. Still, I very much notice any stories I see, or things people have shared with me about great people who are suffering with a lack of support. Death is inevitable, and we must all face close losses at some point or other. This will affect every single one of us at some point. For most of us, we manage find a way through it. But a portion struggle beyond recognition. Young and old. Friends, family, adversaries, lovers and enemies alike. I have had my own serious recent and ongoing experience with this and the process. This is experience is part of the reason I see the shortcomings and know how that can affect people's lives. I however had the good fortune to find a way to access a partly funded service long term. This was only after a long wait with no response from referrals. It is not available to everyone. Since this part of my journey in life began I have not been able to help myself notice many cases of special people left somewhat on their own. Research shows health serious outcomes for unsupported or under-supported widows and widowers are very serious and potentially fatal. Even more so if prior mental health conditions are also present. Studies not only show an marked increase in suicide rates. They also show increases in death by disease or illness in the period near the event. Deaths by things like sepsis and COPD to name only two that are common to both sexes. Studies also show the older you are the more likely you are to experience a seriously adverse health outcome of some form. Acute grief from close loss seriously affects people, usually long term. We rally around them in the short term, but that tends to fade off very quickly as we return to our own lives. Also we tend to get very uncomfortable trying to be that support during that stage, people generally are not well enough equipped to see someone through this alone. It is definitely not something the worst afflicted can resolve in a short course of therapy. Any form of home support is non-existent for most. Phone counseling services are unfortunately normally unsuited to this purpose. It takes a long time to explain your situation and empty platitudes are of no use to someone lost in the hopelessness and existential turmoil of acute grief. There are people who have a real need for a long term relationship with a professional therapist to see them through this, people who are not getting to. We can do better for them. It's not their fault. They have a need for us to represent those fighting it, because one day it may well be you in that serious need. You'll never know until it's already happened. We can at least prevent some of this if we put in the openness, effort, attention and funding in it ought to have.
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  • Be kind to migrant workers - we need pathways to residency
    New Zealand has trebled the number of workers in the country on temporary work visas over the last 15-20 years. There are now at least 250,000 workers here on temporary work or student visas comprising around 10% of the workforce. Entire industries now depend on these workers. Each year, around 250,000 new temporary visas are issued to replace those leaving. New Zealand has traditionally needed around 40,000 new permanent residents each year to replace the loss of people overseas – primarily to higher-paying jobs in Australia. As a consequence, one in four New Zealand-born Kiwis now live abroad and one in four resident Kiwis are foreign-born. The chance of getting permanent residency is the dream that is used to entice workers and students to try their luck in New Zealand. On average around only one in five are able to do so. New Zealand developed an export education system with promises of residency as part of this process. Today there are over 100,000 fee-paying students – making up 15% of all tertiary students who are paying between $20,000 and $50,000 a year for their undergraduate courses. Many schools in upper-class neighbourhoods have also become dependent on foreign fee-paying students. The desperate desire of many of these students and workers to become permanent residents is being exploited by employers, educational institutions, and the government to boost their incomes. Many work visas are also tied to particular employers. This has been a recipe for an explosion of cases of migrant exploitation. Migrant workers feel trapped whilst they are hoping to transition to permanent residency. The situation for those who have come to New Zealand has been made worse by the fact that the government has trebled the number of migrants being given temporary visas of one kind or another whilst keeping the number being transitioned to permanent residence more or less the same. The competition for places has dramatically increased as a result. Successive governments simply kept raising the bar to qualify by increasing the difficulty of gaining a permanent resident visa. Job categories that previously would qualify a migrant to transition to permanent residency were simply eliminated and the qualifying income and skill levels required were increased without any warning. Over the last three years, this was made worse as the Labour-NZ First government secretly cut the number of people being given residency by 25% to around 30,000 a year. Now, even very-skilled and highly paid jobs no longer qualify for residency. It doesn't make any sense. For example, we need teachers and nurses, but they no longer qualify. At the same time the number of temporary visas granted has continued to grow. For employers, the ability to continually access more and more temporary workers willing to work for minimum or sub-minimum wages has also suppressed wages in these industries for all workers. There was never any incentive to raise pay, provide training needed to hire local workers, or put in the extra effort required to get young people used to a work regime. The workers and students here on temporary visas were essentially lied to. They were promised a transition to permanent residency to entice them here, only to have the rules changed on them after they arrived. It was a terrible betrayal of trust by Immigration NZ on behalf of the New Zealand government. We now have tens of thousands of people who have been living, working, and raising families in New Zealand for a decade or more having to renew their “essential skills” or “graduate job search” visas periodically to do so. They are what the government has been calling “normally resident” visa holders who deserve the right to be given a pathway to residency. Many Pacific workers who came here a decade more ago and also made New Zealand their home but may have overstayed their original visas deserve the same chance. We have to collectively take responsibility for the terrible situation that now exists for vulnerable migrant workers living in our communities. The Covid-19 crisis gives us a chance to fix the problem we have collectively created. We can't replace the workers and students now here for the foreseeable future. In fact, it would be a mistake to return to the over-reliance on temporary work visa holders again in the future. We need to create a new “pathways to residency visa” that allows the government to guarantee permanent residence to migrant workers already here once certain conditions are met. As an example, this was done for dairy farm workers in Southland on Essential Skills visas after five years service. We can choose to use the pathways to residency visas to incentivise people to go to the industries and sectors of the economy that need them without tying them to particular employers which has been proven to lead to super-exploitation. It makes sense to offer those workers already here pathways to residency if they desire it.
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  • Save the Wellington Music Centre
    Saturday morning music has been a New Zealand institution since 1957. It provides an opportunity for kids from all sorts of backgrounds, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford lessons, a chance to learn an instrument and to develop into life long musicians. Wellington Music Centre is funded through the Ministry of Education’s out of hours programme, providing lessons and affordable instrument hire to any child up to high school, in Wellington. Closing the Centre will prevent kids from discovering their musical passion and make the Wellington music scene less diverse and inclusive. Island Bay School must make efforts to find another solution to any problem it has hosting the Centre. One that continues the long lasting positive impact on kids in Wellington, the cultural capital. We ask the School to keep it open and work with the Education Ministry, the community and other experts on ways to manage their administration problems. The solution needs to allow the children of Wellington access to affordable lessons.
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  • Help Dame Sue Bagshaw build her Youth Hub
    We are all concerned about our young people, and regular health services do not always provide the spaces they need. By signing this petition we show our support for Youth Hub Trust chairwoman Dame Sue Bagshaw who has worked her entire life toward the realization of a youth hub in Christchurch. She has helped thousands of young people find a way through difficult periods in their lives. Now the dream is about to come true were it not for some people who do not understand the significance of such a facility and are trying to stop the project. This new facility will provide day support as well as some temporary housing. For years we have understood the mental health issues in Christchurch due to a succession of disasters, the site was gifted to the trust and in my eyes the building will not particularly impact on the surroundings. Every town should have such an opportunity. The facility will include 22 one-bedroom units, one four-bedroom and four three-bedroom units as well as accommodation for two supervisors and a site manager. To be eligible for housing the young people must be in education/training or looking for employment. There will be a healthcare centre, office spaces for 13 different youth-related organisations, private and communal outdoor living spaces, a basketball court, cafe, events centre seating up to 200 people, a rooftop greenhouse and indoor recreation and art space.No alcohol or drugs will be allowed and the Christchurch Methodist Mission will manage the housing. Please sign this petition so the trust can present this to the Christchurch council as support for their plans. https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/122915886/central-christchurch-residents-fighting-muchneeded-youth-hub/
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  • Stop the Minerals Forum - regenerative economy not extractive economy!
    A regenerative economy is more than a ‘prosperous, low-emissions economy’. It means creating abundance and healthy environments and workplaces by using traditional knowledge, current sustainable practices and new innovations for responsible resource use, production and distribution. It regenerates rather than degenerates. Our current economy is built on destructive mineral extraction and intensive farming that mines our whenua to make commodity products that are mostly exported overseas. It’s polluting and wasteful at all stages of the process, produces vast amounts of climate changing greenhouse gases, increases the division between rich and poor, and depletes resources for future generations to come. That's why church groups, students, climate activists, social justice groups, anti-mining protectors, union members and individuals across Aotearoa are bringing this message to the 2020 Minerals Forum on October 13-14th: Kua Nui! Enough is enough! We want a regenerative economy not an extractive economy. "Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki is in full support of this action. The world cannot afford high emissions dinosaur industries and can mine landfills and cellphones if it wants minerals. We challenge the Minerals Forum to stop wrecking the planet for profit and we challenge the Government to live up to their promises on climate and mining issues now! " said Catherine Delahunty, Chair of CWH, which has been campaigning against gold mining in Hauraki for decades. "The main sponsor of this conference is Bathurst Resources, which is in the process of applying for consent to vastly increase a coal mine in Canterbury, despite having already breached a number of consents for its current mine. Fonterra and the dairy industry will be burning this coal, while they continue to claim their industry is sustainable, largely ignoring the obvious renewable alternatives. It's time to stop digging up fossil fuels and make the switch," said Tim Jones of Coal Action Network Aotearoa. “The mining industry’s only role in a low-emissions economy should be in cleaning up their mess. We want no more permits or resource consents for extraction and urgent decommissioning of all wells and mines" said Tuhi-Ao Bailey of Climate Justice Taranaki, who have been campaigning against oil and gas drilling and synthetic fertiliser since 2011. "These companies will go to the ends of the earth to dig up minerals, and now they want to dig up the seabed - but so far we have managed to stop them, in coalition with Iwi, fisheries interests and local communities," said Cindy Baxter, chairperson of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining. "Our oceans are already in enough peril from other pressures like acidification and warming - there is nothing sustainable about seabed mining." “We are in a state of planetary emergency: the interdependent crises of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and climate change - driven in large part by unsustainable production and consumption - require urgent and immediate global action,” - 'The Leaders' Pledge for Nature' signed by Heads of State and Government of 64 countries (including PM Jacinda Ardern) and the European Union, 30/9/20. For more information on the event and campaign go to: www.StopTheMineralsForum.info Facebook event 'Stop the Minerals Forum 2020' Facebook page 'Stop The Minerals Forum' Coalition group websites: Environmental Justice Otepoti https://ejotepoti.wordpress.com/ Kiwis Against Seabed Mining http://kasm.org.nz/ Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa https://extinctionrebellion.nz/ Climate Justice Taranaki http://www.climatejusticetaranaki.info/ (Lots of articles here) Coal Action Network Aotearoa https://coalaction.org.nz/ Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki https://watchdog.org.nz/ Oil-free Wellington https://wellington.oilfree.nz/ Oil-free Otago https://oilfreeotago.com/ Some news articles about the mining industry in Aotearoa: Why we’re taking the government to court over mining in the Coromandel - https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/22-06-2020/why-were-taking-the-government-to-court-over-mining-in-the-coromandel/ Gold mining: a toxic legacy - http://resist.co.nz/gold-mining/ Lessons to be learnt from toxic legacy - https://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/8621609/Lessons-to-be-learnt-from-toxic-legacy Tour reinforces Taranaki residents' fears over stinking plant - https://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/300097635/tour-reinforces-taranaki-residents-fears-over-stinking-plant Locals brace for row over Pukemiro tip - https://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/editors-picks/9282617/Locals-brace-for-row-over-Pukemiro-tip Rural Waikato residents furious at ongoing plastic waste fire - https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/09/rural-waikato-residents-furious-at-ongoing-plastic-waste-fire.html Onus on Government to remove toxic coal mine waste at Hector – conservationists - https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/114806519/onus-on-government-to-remove-toxic-coal-mine-waste-at-hector--conservationists
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  • We request a Leaders Debate hosted by Mihi Forbes & The Hui team
    The voters of Aotearoa deserve a live, online Leaders Debate hosted by Mihi Forbes. The Hui team have already demonstrated exceptional skill in delivering 5 live online debates that allow candidates in Māori electorates the space, time and environment to put their case. The broadcasts have engaged a range of viewers including those who had given up on the political debate format, those who can't vote in the Māori electorates and many non-Māori. We are drawn to - and we keep returning for - the respect, intelligence, warmth, humour, Te Reo and Te Ao Māori that all broadcasts by The Hui are led by and infused with. At a time when it's desperately needed, the election debates hosted by The Hui have informed, inspired and activated. This petition requests that the Leaders of Aotearoa's main political parties acknowledge the unique forum that The Hui provides and make use of it. Voters deserve it. #LeadersDebateWithMihi #TheHui @TheHuiNZ #Pōti2020
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  • Open Letter: Five To Thrive
    Too many of our children in Aotearoa are missing out on the basics they need to thrive. With political will, we can change this to ensure all of our children have a bright future. We are asking our friends, whānau, and colleagues - Kiwis that care about our children, to sign on to this open letter to ask that every child in Aotearoa gets the five basics they need to do well now, and into the future. To find out more, check out Five To Thrive https://www.fivetothrive.nz/ To keep you updated with the campaign your signature details will be shared with the four organisations leading this campaign; Barnardos, Save the Children, Te Kāhui Mana Ririki Trust, and Whānau Āwhina Plunket.
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  • Calling for immediate action to improve mental wellbeing for diverse Asian communities in Aotearoa
    Since the outbreak of COVID-19, demand for linguistically and culturally appropriate Asian mental health services has increased notably in our communities. Front-line clinicians working with diverse Asian communities have seen how high stress, anxiety and isolation of living in a pandemic are taking their toll on Asian people’s mental health. Historically, Asian communities have low utilisation of mainstream primary and secondary mental health services in Aotearoa compared to other ethnic groups [1]. Therefore, despite the increase in demand for mental health care identified by Asian mental health services during COVID-19, Asian clients are unlikely to seek mental health care from mainstream providers and will continue to rely on Asian specific providers. While resettling in a linguistically and culturally different country is already a stressful experience for newer settlers within the Asian communities, we are seeing more complex family distress, mental health and social care needs of our clients since COVID-19. In addition to needing help with depressive and anxiety-related issues brought on by the pandemic, Asian people are also dealing with heightened stress and safety concerns around discrimination, long-term impacts of unemployment, financial hardship, domestic violence and abuse, loneliness and isolation due to separation from family members. The Human Rights Commission has reported a 30% spike in racially motivated attacks towards Asian people, particularly those of Chinese and East Asian descent, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic [2]. This figure is reflective of the increase in distress reported by our clients from bullying, verbal and non-verbal attacks. Although there is no official reporting of suicide rates connected to COVID-19, we are alarmed by the increase in the suicide rate amongst the Asian population in the recently published provisional suicide data released by the Chief Coroner. The suicide rates for the Asian population had increased from 5.09 to 7.91 per 100,000 between July 2019-June 2020, which went against the declining suicide trends for all other ethnic groups in Aotearoa [3]. The Covid-19 pandemic has further brought to the fore the significant service gaps and unmet needs within Asian communities. We reiterate the urgent need for a national-level strategy and interventions to be put in place to stop the increase in suicide and poor mental health outcomes amongst this diverse and growing population group. The NAMAA (group) acknowledgement of the place of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Tangata Whenua and a willingness to work in partnership with Tangata Whenua. Please sign the petition to support our call for the Ministry of Health to address the mental health needs of diverse Asian communities in Aotearoa. Thank you for helping us! You can read the full version of our Open Letter here: [https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:4f785297-35d8-4d97-a569-6156d2957b95] Ngā Manaakitanga, The National Asian Mental Health and Addiction Advocacy and Advisory (NAMAA) Group Kelly Feng – National Director, Asian Family Services Dr Gary Cheung – Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, School of Medicine, The University of Auckland Dr Elsie Ho – MNZM, Honorary Academic, School of Population Health, The University of Auckland Dr Aram Kim – Psychiatrist, Chairperson of the Korean Community Wellness Society Patrick Au – Registered Psychiatric Nurse and Counsellor in Private Practice Rebecca Zhang – Psychologist, Project Lead, Te Pou Ivan Yeo – Deputy Director, Asian Family Services Shirleen Prasad – Asha Programme Lead, Asian Family Services Cecilia Wong-Cornall – Professional Teaching Fellow, School of Population Health, The University of Auckland Kristy Kang – Project Coordinator and Youth Representative, Asian Family Services
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  • 4-year Parliamentary Term
    We support a 4-year parliamentary term to encourage future governments to implement longer term, more forward-thinking, strategic and visionary policies for Aotearoa New Zealand - rather than the current short-term decision making and electioneering cycle. A 4-year parliamentary term was suggested in the 2019 report 'Foresight, insight and oversight' authored by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies (Victoria University) and the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. In September 2020, the local body organisation Local Government in New Zealand passed a remit supporting a 4-year election cycle. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/392952/new-report-calls-for-four-year-term-more-mps-in-parliament https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/editorial/four-year-term-worth-debating
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