• An Open Letter- Awhi to our Hana Koko, our Māori Santa
    Our Nelson Santa Parade this year was unique, in that for the first time, the Māori interpretation of Santa Claus was given centre stage. Not as an afterthought, not as a token, not half the stage, but centre stage. The intention behind this letter is to counteract the hurtful voices that emerged with an outpouring of overwhelming awhi, aroha, and deep appreciation. The intention is to tautoko the delight that was felt by many. We seek to express the heartfelt cheer we feel for our Hana Koko, our parade organisers and for our tangata whenua. Through partnership we desire to honour, celebrate and nurture the Māori culture, and the world it opens us to. It is a culture that is rich, layered and profoundly valuable. A culture that teaches much, that has many a beautiful lesson to offer, a beautiful story to tell. It is a culture that has been relegated to the backstage, included as an addition, an extra, a token, for far, far too long. We seek to tautoko the need to push biculturalism further. To be bold. To affirm the courage that tangata whenua have always shown, as you did Mātua Rob, to stand up with openness and pride, without being afraid of being hurt in response. It's time to shed light on those spaces that still remain in shadow, and we are here with you, doing this together, behind you all the way. We seek to support Te Ao Māori with a constant empathy and a willingness to learn and challenge our pre-conditions, for those of us who still need to grow. We, whose names are signed here, are Māori, Pākeha, and a million things in between. Many of us know what it is to stand up and be shot down. We want it to be known that we are happy with our Hana Koko. That many of us have been waiting for Hana Koko. That we hope to see much more of our tangata whenua taking central stage and letting their voice be heard. But more than heard; listened to. 🎄 If this letter resonates, please sign your name to show your awhi/support for our Hana Koko and our organisers, and more broadly, our aroha for Te Ao Māori. 🎄 Many people have stated that the response was simply a question of being genuinely surprised or disappointed that what they expected, what they were used to, what was advertised, was not what was presented. People have expressed that things were simply not well communicated. Or that they love biculturalism, but that there should have been warning, that there should have been two Santas. I wonder if people would have felt the same level of surprise, or disappointment, if they had received a real, tangible and significant dose of Te Ao Māori in their lives, if their children had been taught, and shown that Te Ao Māori makes up a primary and essential part of the culture of their country. I wonder if Māori culture hadn’t been stamped out so efficiently, so enormously, if people would be experiencing the same level of cultural dissonance right now. We must ask ourselves why, in a country where there are three official languages, where it is acknowledged that Pākeha are not the founders of this country, that a Christmas parade cannot feature a ‘Santa’ that is Māori, wearing Māori clothing, without people recoiling, or experiencing genuine surprise. Why is it, that we claim that we support a bicultural society, yet we expect the dominant majority of events, traditions, resources, supports and initiatives to be Pākeha and to support the Pākeha objective? Even with an entire city built on Pākeha principles, an entire parade that is Pākeha, dominated by Pākeha values systems, even with reindeer and sleighs, bells and mistletoe, people claim that with our Hana Koko, it wasn’t bicultural, and we were missing the white Santa. It would have been bicultural with two Santas, some people say. Or even a Māori man in a white Santa’s suit. A Hana Koko inside a waka could have been displayed: it seems this is okay as long as it is not at the cost of Pākeha culture, expectations, values, and norms. We who have signed our names find this to be insufficient as an accepted status quo. We do not seek to attack these views, just question them, and gently invite some fresh perception, and respectful discussion. We raise the issue of the current societal conditions that have resulted in these lines of thought. It is time to cede, that as long as we claim to be bicultural, that we can expect these (particularly major, community funded, council supported) events to be a mixture of both native and Pākeha culture. This should come at no shock. We should expect Māoridom at every corner, in every store, in every exchange of service. We should not expect Māoridom to feature as an aside, but should be prepared for a Māori person, Māori words, Māori garments, Māori waiata, at any time, in any role, in any situation. And so should our children. This is true biculturalism. We should be normalising Māori culture, a blending of cultural themes and ideas, at every turn. Not just the ones we selectively pick. Imagine how the Māori children in the audience must have felt. For possibly the first time, in an everyday, traditionally white occasion, the headliner looked like them, was representative of them. Possibly for the first time, they were the star of a show that wasn’t a marginalised event, relegated as a separate show, with the specific purpose of being a ‘cultural’ event. There is, of course, deep value in holding space and ceremony for traditions that are solely Māori, but surely it is time that some of us shuffled over and opened the space further.
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  • Bring Back our Bus
    People at Te Korowai Whariki (Mental Health Rehab Service) are trying to get back their independence and need a bus to get into town to do shopping and visit the library. A few months ago our bus service into the centre was cancelled and people no longer had easy access to the Porirua shopping area and all the other resources that others take for granted. Most patients on the ward don't have a car. People who are wanting to bring their grocery shopping back to the unit now have to walk. It takes about 30 minutes without groceries. WITH groceries it is near impossible. "I used to be able to get my groceries no problem... but now I no longer can and am forced to get a taxi or catch a ride with somebody." "We are struggling to rehabilitate and this only adds another barrier to this." Also, people working for the service no longer have the option of catching a bus. "I'd much rather catch public transport than use a car, now I no longer have that option." Once this petition is resolved we can then begin to think about a campaign to change this frustrating new bus system in the wider Wellington region.
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  • Protect Timaru's Penguins — Improve Road Safety Along Marine Parade
    Last night (08/12/28) a little penguin (kororā) was hit and killed by a car on Marine Parade in Timaru. The incident happened in front of 90 tourists and locals (including children) who had come to watch the penguins come ashore. The bird was of breeding age and its mate was seen calling for over an hour after it was killed. It is not known whether the pair had eggs or chicks on the nest, however, this is likely to be the case at is currently breeding season for kororā. Forest & Bird South Canterbury is calling on Timaru District Council to use this tragedy as an opportunity to reduce the speed limit to 30 km/hr, install judder bars or road islands, and consider closing the road to non-port-related traffic after dark. The current speed limit is 50 km/hr but our members have witnessed people driving at excess speeds along Marine Parade again and again. We often take down the registration numbers of vehicles that we see speeding and report them to local police, yet people continue to speed past — sometimes at up to 100 km/hr. We are exceptionally lucky to have this breeding colony of endangered penguins (kororā) so close to our town centre. After a short drive or walk, we can watch them come ashore — undeterred by traffic and noise from the port just metres away. The penguins are an increasingly important part of our local economy. Last year, they attracted up to 100 visitors every night, with some people visiting specifically to see them. This is a safety risk. Not just to the kororā, but also to the people who stand along Marine Parade to watch them come ashore. The Timaru District Council must keep visitors and penguins safe from dangerous driving by reducing the speed limit to 30 km/hr, installing judder bars or road islands, and considering the closure of the road to non-port-related traffic after dark. We would also like to see local police targeting speeding drivers with regular patrols in the area.
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  • Safe parking for the staff of Middlemore Hospital
    The cars of Middlemore Hospital staff are frequently broken into, causing distress and unexpected costs for the staff. This happens in the staff parking lots which are too easily accessible for people from outside the hospital. Windows are smashed, things are stolen, steering wheels are broken, ignitions damaged. The fact that this mostly happens at night is very stressful for the staff who finish a shift at midnight and then often cannot drive themselves home because their cars have been damaged. There is also not enough parking for all the staff at the hospital.
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  • No more plastic fruit or vegetable stickers for NZ produce
    Removing plastic labels is publicly supported. As at 24 November 2018 86% of Stuff readers think plastic stickers on fruit should go.^^ Just two NZ produced fruit alone in 2016 resulted in an estimated 3.98 billion plastic labels.*** Plastic stickers also cause issues at compost facilities.^^^ This is unnecessary personal hassle for consumers and unnecessary use of plastic and environmental pollution. * https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10352393 ^ e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jan/16/ms-and-swedish-supermarkets-ditch-sticky-labels-for-natural-branding ** http://www.hortnz.co.nz/news-events-and-media/media-releases/new-zealanders-want-country-of-origin-labelling-on-fruit-and-veges/ *** In 2016 124m trays of Zespri kiwifruit were produced and 350,000 tonnes of apples. http://www.freshfacts.co.nz/files/freshfacts-2016.pdf ^^ https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/105890179/Fruit-stickers-are-overused-say-the-creators ^^^ https://modernfarmer.com/2018/03/little-produce-stickers-are-big-waste-problem/
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  • Double investment in drug treatment in this year’s budget
    By mid-December the Government will have made some important decisions about next year’s Budget. First in their minds should be a focus on improving the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders - especially those who are most vulnerable. Unfortunately, by the time the Government makes their budget decisions there’s also a good chance more people will have tragically died from the use of synthetic cannabinoids. There have been 50 deaths at least over the past 18 months, and there is no chance this public health crisis will fix itself. Continuing to punish people who use drugs will only make things worse. We have a plan to turn things around. If the government makes the right funding decisions now, and follows this up by legislating for a health-based approach to drug use, we can save lives. Investing in health and treatment also makes economic sense. An economic report released in October, "Estimating the Impact of Drug Policy Options", found that if we invest $150million extra in drug-related harm reduction and treatment programmes, this would return a social benefit for New Zealand of at least $225million. Sign the petition to ask the Prime Minister to ensure that next year’s Budget reflects just how urgent this crisis is. Let’s ensure that everyone can access help when and where they need it. This petition is supported by JustSpeak, ActionStation, the New Zealand Drug Foundation, Hāpai Te Hauora, the Needle Exchange and Te Rau Matatini. We’ll be doing more work together to ensure the government treats drug use as a health and not a criminal issue in the lead up to election 2020.
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  • Put children and whānau wellbeing at the heart of welfare
    In good times and in hard times, we should all have the dignity and security of a roof over our head, healthy kai on the table and the essential things we need. A stable whare (house) is the foundation for a good life. None of us can go about our lives, raise a family, go to work or stay healthy without a warm, dry and safe place to call home. But right now, due to the way in which successive governments have run down the welfare system, and taken a hands-off approach to the housing market, New Zealand’s homes are some of the least affordable in the industrial world. Families are having to choose between rent and food. When people lose their job, get sick or end a relationship and then can’t keep a roof over their heads, we are seeing the failures of an unkind, unjust and unbalanced economic system. When corporations are taking in record profits, but there hasn’t been a real increase in income support for a generation, and more and more people can’t make ends meet, our society is out of balance. These statistics should both astound and compel us into action: ➡️ The wealthiest 20 percent of people in New Zealand hoard 70 percent of the wealth, while the poorest 40 percent have just three percent. ➡️ Two New Zealand billionaires have more combined wealth than the poorest 30 percent of people in this country. ➡️ Over 50 percent of all people in New Zealand who receive an Accommodation Supplement to pay for their housing needs are spending more than half their incomes on housing, while four out of every five renters cannot afford to pay their rent comfortably. ➡️ The median Pākehā has $114,000 of wealth. The median Māori has $23,000. That’s a gap of $91,000. The median Pasifika person has even less at $12,000. ➡️ Between 2004 and 2010 the wealth of the richest one percent - about 34,000 people - increased from $94billion to $147billion; that’s $4,323,529 per person. Meanwhile the poorest 10 percent of people saw their net debt increase from $5.7billion to $7.4billion. CEO pay is increasing at almost five times the rate of the average worker. ➡️ 27 percent of New Zealand’s children live in poverty, where poverty is defined as having less than 60 percent of the national median household income (after housing costs), while six percent (70,000) of all children live in severe hardship. ➡️ There are now at least 41,000 homeless New Zealanders, more than half of whom are younger than 25. There is too much wealth in too few hands while everyday New Zealanders struggle to make ends meet and the cost of living continues to soar. We need government intervention to end the poverty trap and rebalance our economy. We need government intervention to ensure that everyone one in this country has enough pūtea (income) to live with dignity and participate fully in the community. If we are to fulfil the Coalition Government’s goal for Aotearoa to be the best place in the world to be a child, then all parents, whānau and caregivers must have a liveable income. A hands-on government can fix our broken economic system. A hands-on government can change the rules to make our economy fair, kind and just. A competent and caring government can ensure that every child and whānau flourishes. Read more: http://www.welfareforwellbeing.org Image credits: Serena Stevenson Photography
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  • Right to Vote for All
    We believe that in a fair and democratic society all members should have the right to vote, and people living in prisons are part of our society. They are valued members of communities and families. To take away their right to vote is an unfair disenfranchisement We all expect that people in prison have the opportunity to heal and learn so they can contribute to a thriving society when they return to their communities. By not allowing people to vote while in prison, we are removing their ability to invest in and contribute to society and our democratic process. It's cruel and counter-productive. When Parliament changed the law in 2010 they used voting rights as a form of punishment, and this breaches the Bill of Rights. As New Zealanders we seek fairness and community. If we reinstate voting rights for people serving time in prison, it means that come next election time, thousands more people would be able to participate in our democracy, and put their ballot in the box as an investment in their - and our - futures. We believe a thriving society requires the voices of all it's people in order to make decisions that elevate everyone. By including everyone's voices we can have a truly representative democracy.
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  • Open letter to Waikato Regional Council to pay contractors a living wage
    A Living Wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. The Living Wage enables workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society. Research has found a Living Wage enables employees to be able to spend more time with their families, feel valued, be less stressed and consequently happier and more motivated in their workplaces. Furthermore, treatment of employees is integral to business success. A report undertaken in the UK found implementation of a living wage decreases staff turnover and increases productivity. Reference: Brown, Newman & Blair, (2014) "The Difference a Living Wage makes" Paper to the Population Health Congress
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  • #protectihumātao
    Update 27 July 2019 For over three years, the SOUL campaign to #protectIhumātao has engaged in non-violent, direct action to raise awareness and build public support. This petition was delivered to Parliament in May and the Select Committee reported back this week: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/114507477/ihumtao-eviction-select-committee-urges-parliament-to-note-protesters-concerns The petition was also delivered to Auckland Mayor Phil Goff https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/386696/hikoi-confronts-phil-goff-over-ihumatao-development On Tuesday 23 July more than 70 police turned up unannounced to Ihumaatao to issue eviction notices to mana whenua and destroy the structures that have been set up by kaitiaki (land protectors, guardians). To support the protection of Ihumaatao you can: ❤️ Sign the petition to stay in touch with the campaign and events. ❤️ Send an email to the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister or Auckland Mayor asking to resolve this issue: https://actionstation.org.nz/action/protect-ihumaatao/choose ❤️ Donate for the SOUL campaign: https://donate.actionstation.org.nz/saveihumatao ❤️ Bring yourself, come to the whenua (land). Please be peaceful, no alcohol, take rubbish away with you. ********* The Ihumaatao landscape (of which the land in question, Special Housing Area 62, is a part) is a rare cultural heritage landscape that matters because its stories, relationships, built heritage, ecological values and archaeological sites are critical to our understanding of the histories and futures of our city and country. For mana whenua (local Māori), this place embodies sources of identity and wellbeing as well as family, community and tribal relationships. This area is one of the last remnants of the archaeologically rich stonefields landscapes across Auckland. and is one of the last surviving places where the land and stone walls used by Māori for growing new crops, such as wheat and European vegetables for the Auckland markets prior to 1863, still exists. The land was confiscated ‘by proclamation’ under the New Zealand Settlements Act in 1863 as part of the colonial invasion of the Waikato that drove mana whenua from their lands, ahead of the settler armies. Overnight they were made landless and impoverished. Now, that existence is further threatened by the commercial development. The proposed development site is minutes from the Auckland International Airport and should be considered as a promising cultural, heritage and ecotourism location. For many years there have been aspirations for social enterprise, local employment and sustainability initiatives that enable kaitiakitanga and tino rangatiratanga. Local and central government used the fast-track, developer-friendly provisions of the Special Housing Areas Act 2013 to designate the land. Mana whenua and community concerns were sidelined. Mana whenua have suffered enough for the good of the developing city and every critical account of history agrees with them. For more than three years, the SOUL campaign to #protectIhumātao has engaged in non-violent, direct action to raise awareness and build public support. Our guided walks and events on the land have attracted thousands of visitors. We have presented concerns to the Auckland Council Governing Body and to Parliament, met with politicians and been to the United Nations three times in two years. In 2017 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination wrote to the NZ Government recommending that it ensure proper consultation with all affected Maori on this issue. A recent Environment Court decision showed significant flaws in New Zealand’s heritage legislation that did not allow the Court to consider the values of whole cultural heritage landscape when reviewing Heritage NZ’s decision to grant the company the authority to modify or destroy Maori archaeological and other heritage sites on the land. Gaining that authority doesn't make the decision right, it simply puts it within the narrow terms of the existing law and allows the developer to proceed. SOUL has now exhausted every legal means to stop the development. Now we are fast approaching a confrontation on the land but will keep doing everything we can to prevent that from happening. What we need is collective action and innovative thinking to resolve this mounting crisis. We’re now calling on the public to take a stand for this land. Join us in protecting this unique landscape for all New Zealanders and future generations. Please sign this petition now!
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  • Secure the Māori seats
    Most New Zealanders value equality, and the way we relate to each other, across cultural differences and other differences in background. We cherish values such as respect, and we speak often about honouring the history and cultures that shape us. Many New Zealanders overseas talk about these values and practices as reasons they’re proud of the country they come from. But our laws and politics don’t always live up to these values. In our Parliament at the moment, the seven seats reserved for MPs to represent Māori are not treated in the same way as the general seats. To abolish a Māori seat you only need a simple majority in the House (51%), whereas to abolish a General seat it takes a 75% majority. Māori seats are more precarious and treated differently from other seats. And there’s no reason for this. The Electoral Entrenchment of Maori Seats Amendment Bill introduced by MP Rino Tirikatene will secure (or entrench) the Māori seats to make sure the Maori seats get the same protections as General seats.[1] There are currently seven Māori electorates and 64 general electorates. Each one represents a seat in Parliament. The Māori seats are a way of making sure the interests of Māori are represented. If you choose to go on the Māori Roll, you will vote for someone in one of the seven Māori electorates. If an MP wins a Māori seat, they are mandated to advocate for Māori. This can allow Māori to advocate for their language, values, beliefs and culture, and to enable Māori to do things in a way that may be different to the dominant Pākehā way of doing things. This advocacy can ensure Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured in everything we do, or that Māori language and history is celebrated and taught in communities and schools. This advocacy can help make sure government funding goes toward Māori-led solutions to poverty, homelessness and sick rivers, as well as government and business-led ones. By securing the Māori seats we will guarantee there are people in Parliament who offer a Māori voice, not just a voice of the general population. Entrenching the seats will also remove the chance of some politicians using the Māori seats as a political football when they want media attention. We have the chance right now to make sure the cultural and political diversity of our country is protected. Sign now to show the politicians considering the Bill your support. Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi. With your contribution and my contribution, our community will flourish. Bill to entrench the Māori seats passes first hurdle, NZ Herald, 5 Sep 2018 https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12119877 Harmony and the case for Māori wards, Stuff, 11 May 2018 https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/103750284/harmony-and-the-case-for-mori-wards
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  • Tell the government: act for a safe climate future
    Last year Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called climate change our generation's ‘nuclear free moment’ - a moment in history when New Zealanders stood up to global powers and said ‘we will do what we consider right’. It’s time to walk the talk. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report calls for ‘unprecedented changes’ to avoid the world warming more than 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial averages.[2] As part of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming we must stop looking for more oil. Email the Energy Minister Megan Woods today to: 🌏 fully support no new petroleum prospecting, exploration, and mining permits anywhere offshore with clear commitments to a timeline for phasing out the existing permits; 🌏 support a ban on extension of all petroleum mining permits, on and offshore, as they reach their expiry dates; 🌏 not support any new petroleum prospecting, exploration, and mining permits in onshore Taranaki or anywhere else in Aotearoa; 🌏 strongly object to allowing new or existing onshore petroleum permit holders to access conservation land for any petroleum associated activities, including minimum impact activities. The oil industry is using all its lobbying power to pressure our elected representatives to keep our dependence on oil and gas. We need to act to support the government to take the necessary steps to move to a clean energy today. References 1. OMV more time to drill in Great South Basin, Interest, 17 Oct 2018 https://www.interest.co.nz/business/96379/warning-bells-rung-loud-and-clear-over-oilgas-exploration-ban-adding-pressure-already 2. IPCC climate change report calls for urgent action to phase out fossil fuels, The Guardian, 9 Oct 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/live/2018/oct/08/ipcc-climate-change-report-urgent-action-fossil-fuels-live
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