April 14, 2013
I went along to the Hamilton NZEI Stand up for Kids – Protect Our Schools rally & march yesterday, thinking it was the least I could do for the teachers who have educated my children, many of whom are still teaching at the same levels, long after my offspring have left their care.
I had the impression that Hamiltonians were not very ‘protesty’ people, and that the teachers might need every radical education policy lefty activist in the region to show up.
When I arrived at the rallying point, there was a huge crew of NZEI marshalls in yellow vests, handing out chant sheets and lovely round purple and red (double-sided) posters for marchers to hold.
They were surrounded by teachers, parents and children, and such a huge collection of banners from schools around the region, along with hand-made signs carried by resourceful marchers and children.
I caught up with a few local Greenies from the Hamilton Branch & the Campus Greens, and managed a short chat with Cath Delahunty before we all set off. Thanks to a young local friend, I have an estimate of around 400 people marching, which I was informed was a very good turnout for Hamilton; dire descriptions of events where the turnout totaled 20 brave bodies followed.
After about a fifteen minute walk, the crowd arrived at Steele Park in Hamilton East, where a stage-truck was set to provide sound amplification for the speakers, and an avid crew of NZEI volunteers sizzled sausages for hungry marchers. Credit was given to Anglican Action for providing the consumables to run the sausage sizzle.
There was much singing and chanting along the way; as you’d expect of teachers, there were very clearly written chant sheets, and a song sheet with waiata and karakia which were used at various points during the proceedings. Local kaumatua were on hand to lead those parts, and give a blessing to the efforts of the marchers.
Speakers included Professor Martin Thrupp, from Waikato University’s Faculty of Education, who spoke about his research into the dreaded National Standards which has pretty much been ignored by the Minister, along with a statement signed by 150 academics in the field of education research – a major feat in itself – which was sent to the Minister.
Green MP Cath Delahunty spoke, exhorting the crowd to ‘vote the Government out’ at the next elections if they want to see their schools maintained at the level of excellence that current standards allow. There was discussion of the effects of the ‘Charter Schools’ policies favoured by the Minister, and a general desire to retain trained, qualified teachers in our education system was expressed both in her speech and on placards held by marchers.
Labour MP Sue Maroney echoed Cath’s call to ‘vote them out’ and said to teachers, encourage parents at your schools to enroll and vote, it’s the strongest message parents can send to the Government.
Anglican Action’s director Karen Morrison-Hume spoke last, praising teachers who are at the pointy end of social welfare, funding breakfasts and even lunches in our decile 1 & 2 schools so that children living in poverty-stricken homes can have at least some chance of learning. She spoke of the parlous situation of charities, who have had donation cuts from big businesses who are less able in the current economic climate to donate food for social programs – alleviation of social distress that should be covered by MSD/WINZ, not teachers or supermarket owners with a conscience.
There may be pictures later, sorry folks my capacity for uploading the ones I took is limited; I’m borrowing a camera I don’t know quite how to sync with my desktop system (yet). There’s a work-around, but it’s cumbersome.
Guess I need some intensive re-education as well!
If you happen to be in Northland, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Hastings, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Paraparaumu, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Gore or Invercargill between April 1st (yes, his tour began in Northland on April Fool’s Day) and April 26th 2013, you are at risk of intellectual abuse from Lord Christopher Moncton. And possibly, verbal abuse, as several members of the audience suffered at the event I attended in Hamilton, at the University of Waikato.
Nexus, the student magazine, had already reported on the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley’s visit, here. The fact that I received a flash colour-printed pamphlet in my home mailbox decided me to attend. Nobody else from the Nexus team was keen.
The event was hosted in the PWC Lecture Theatre building of the Management School, a location I had not visited before, so that also piqued my curiosity.
Why was a journalist being hosted by the School of Management?
It got more interesting after I’d got past the sales table (climate denial bumper-stickers, all important for the Land Rover; books by Ian Wishart, Lord Monckton, and DVD’s of various of Monckton’s talks) into the auditorium, where the crowd (mostly comprising farmers & their wives, it seemed) were welcomed by Dr Ron Smith from the School of Political Science, who was profusely thanked for his hospitality once Lord Monckton had been introduced.
Monckton went on to thank Mrs Smith for her excellent dinner, then made a rather sly dig by suggesting that he’d tried to lure her to his Scottish estate to run the catering there. All the audience laughed at the ‘compliment’; seemingly without picking up that he was making a very upper-class joke about having to eat with the servant class.
It went on in that vein, with dog-whistles, misrepresentations of fact and outright lies.
A young man in the row of seating in front of me took him to task about a logical contradiction performed in the space of two concurrent sentences; Monckton then refused to allow the young man to finish his sentence, then demanded that security come and take him away if further ‘heckling’ occurred.
I then asked for clarification of whether Lord Monckton has meant phrase a, or phrase b, as it appeared confusing to listeners. He then went through a long, convoluted response, during which he neither rescinded from one statement nor the other, confirming in our minds that he was determined not to admit to any fault, more than his determination to deliver clear information.
Obfuscation followed misrepresentation, sprinkled with a few more lies.
He began by claiming that NIWA had been falsifying figures since 1970, in order to prop up the climate change argument, then carried on to impugn the academic and research credentials of the IPCC, various specific researchers output, and then did an analysis of the 2007 IPCC report using a spurious mathematical allusion based on sine waves (most of the audience being older folk for whom Eton’s Tables, slide rulers and sine waves were basic mathematical knowledge… catch a teenager now who would recognise any of those instruments, you’d be lucky), which had no bearing on the graph of temperature differentials that he then spoke over the top of, overlaying broad arrows to provide ‘interpretations’ of the raw data in the chart to show ‘trending’ was neutral … based on his statements about sine waves, of which this chart had none.
My notes taken during the talk get a little sweary around about here, with many “oh, bollocks!” scribbled alongside paragraphs of rapid transcription.
There was also the surprising, and self-aggrandizing, statement that he’d seen an advance copy of the 2013 IPCC report, followed by some critical statements about the contents.
This struck me as precipitous; so I checked the IPCC website for the report publishing schedule.
Yes, it is due out in 2013. Final papers for some sections are not due to be submitted until October this year, however, so I don’t know how he comes to have seen a “scientist’s draft” of the final report in March/April.
He had a go at the Australian Carbon Tax regime, with a very unpleasant few digs at Julia Gillard that were bigoted on about three levels – class, race and gender – and what surprised me most was the venomous approval he got for this – obviously a lot of people who fear any form of reduction in carbon consumption, thus assume that carbon tax is merely about raising income for other Government programs. Refutation of that idea here. There was a lot of rhetoric around the need for farmers to continue to run big gas-guzzling SUV’s/Range Rovers, and very little concept of any over-consumption that could be curbed.
All in all, it was like having bucketfulls of cold, dirty water thrown at me repeatedly, and as I left the campus to walk home, I found myself thinking seriously about the ethics of research, and how it is that researchers who have to conform to stringent guidelines can still be completely undermined by those who misrepresent their research outcomes.
I have linked to sites that proved the actual research referred to so disparagingly by Lord Monckton, and have refrained from linking to any of the climate denial websites where his arguments may be found.
If you desire, out of some intention of fairness, to read his viewpoints, by all means google for yourself. The wikipedia article linked under Monckton’s name may provide some examples of his reasoning.
March 23, 2013
Well, it was a lovely day for a walk in the countryside.
Pity about the cow-poo in the river, though!
Te Awamutu branch invited Waikato members (& some locals who are interested) along to see for themselves just what the water quality degradation is like in our region.
This was to have been a “Dirty Rivers Tour” kayak down the river, with Russel Norman and Eugenie Sage leading the way, but the drought has led to lower water levels than usual, to the point where kayaking was deemed irresponsible.
Eugenie came along, fresh from appearing on TV earlier in the day in Auckland on The Nation for TV3.
Local farmer Keith Hutton liased with farmers Gary Charlston and John Pievenga so that our group, ably led by Te Awamutu Branch convenor Leane Steele, could have an up-close-and-personal tour of the banks of the Waipa River, and see for ourselves what the risks are from stock grazing on the river margins.
We were also lucky enough to have Regional Councillors Stu Kneebone and Paula Southgate with us, to give an overview of how the WRC is dealing with water quality management and current trends in water quality, along with District Councillor Laurie Hoverd.
From the Pievenga’s farm we were able to see some examples of riparian planting along a stream on the farm, and some riverside remediation work across the river on the site of the 1820′s battle at Matakitaki, an area of land that has been recently returned to the local iwi alongside Purekireki Marae. The Waipa flows swiftly here, and seems narrow – I had to be reminded by a local that during the land wars, British flat-hulled battleships were steamed up these rivers to deliver troops into the battles. Much history here, amongst the green and wooded rolling hills, with the river looping and twisting.
Another piece of local lore shared was to do with the Pirongia Restoration Society, who have run environmental projects on Mt Pirongia for a while now, beginning with a pilot area in 2006 and now working to bring the birds back into Pirongia Forest Park all over the peak of the mountain.
They have funding from Waikato River Authority to get an envirocentre going in Pirongia Village, and have a project to restore the river margins along the Waipa River, in partnership with Waipa District Council and the Pirongia Residents and Ratepayers’ Association. Grassroots action at it’s best, with huge local community support.
I completely forgot to plug the work Eugenie has been doing on the RMA, which is under threat of further dilution by National. See here for the submission guide and links to relevant information. Deadline 5pm, Tuesday 2nd April 2013 – that’s straight after the Easter break.
I’m only going to say something briefly about the job losses at DoC – it stinks, and 140 more redundant public servants is not how to improve the ‘bottom line’, Mr Key, especially whilest there is more legislation in the works to demonise the unemployed – how is adding to the pool of well-qualified, experienced unemployed going to help matters?
Canberra will once more be absorbing our best and brightest, at what cost to our future viability as a functioning nation? This is such venal and short-sighted ‘cost-cutting’ that I’m tempted to rant at length about corruption amongst Government Ministers, since it so obviously prefers the enactment of policies that favour MNC’s who wish to operate in our country.
February 28, 2013
So, summer is officially over and students are flocking back to universities all over Aotearoa/NZ. Well, unless you’ve been gated by one or more of the fresh new tertiary education policies pushed out by our Minister for Education, What-the-Hekia Parata, over the summer break. (see Holly’s excellent post on that here.)
I’m acclimatising to a new city and a new campus, and thus, here is an O-week post about the Greens on Campus Waikato. We’ve already met for some KOA action (of which others have posted much more than I this summer, so I won’t go over it again) and we’re just starting on the new “I’m in for the future” campaign to run through 2013.
They’re a keen bunch; Waikato holds the record for sustainability initiatives being put in place earlier than any other campus in Aotearoa/NZ, has some of the flashest recycling bins scattered around the campus I’ve seen anywhere, and environmental science/common sense is ingrained in the University administration.
Looky here, a whole page about the environment on the academic website!
So when campus Greens said they wanted to erect a geodesic dome, WSU said, “sure”.
The stall was not adjacent to the dome, which is made of recycled coreflute billboards from the 2011 election campaign, so there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to keep checking on it and answering questions from bystanders.
Greens on Campus co-convenors Theresa and Amy had organised a really good stall kit, and as we set up at 9am, it all went up very quickly. ‘Many hands make light work’ was truly the order of the day as first the stall, then the geodesic dome were set up.
It was our privilege to have Green MP Cath Delahunty with us for the day, which flew by as we conversed with students, handed out stickers, leaflets and cake, and signed up new and old members to the club.
We even got photographed by the Uni marketing photographer, and this pic went up on the University of Waikato FB page in the ORI 2013 album.
Credit to Stephen Barker/Barker Photography.©The University of Waikato
February 15, 2013
Apologies to anyone who looks here regularly, I’ve been having what’s euphemistically called ‘a holiday’ while I relocate myself & re-load the Master’s thesis project that got canned back in 2010 when VUW closed Gender & Women’s Studies School.
I’m just getting into the joy of new texts, a new library to strip-mine (joy of joys…) and meeting new supervisors, secondary supervisors and struggling with the concept that I know enough history to do an actual history paper at 500-level, as well as my thesis paper.
If anyone remembers, I was planning an herstory of radical feminist activism in Aotearoa/New Zealand, to be conducted by Oral History methods, covering the 1990′s through to oh, about 2010 .. that end date has morphed ‘cos many conditions in the world have changed, & I keep wanting to add more stuff.
I want to write about how globalisation affected activists here, about the 90′s neoliberal reforms, about hip mamas and random trollops, about the lovers and the fighters of the activist world, who happen to belong to us.
Along the way, I’m discovering, I am going to be dealing with some gnarly frameworks like post-structuralism, US and Euro definitions of ‘third wave’ feminism, and how that applies to the NZ experience, and possibly re-hashing some very old feminist arguments about ‘women and the left’, as those who became disillusioned with NZ political paradigms talk to me.
This where you, dear reader, may come in.
You see, many of the people I first envisaged interviewing have fled NZ since 2007, when I began to design this project. Some are more or less important than they used to be, some of us are sadder and wiser activists who jealously guard our privacy. There are many reasons why someone who might have wanted to participate, maybe doesn’t want to any more.
So this is a (very preliminary) callout to my sistas.
If you know someone (or you may even be someone) who was an activist in environmental work, indigenous rights, alternative political groups, outright radical feminist activity, labour organisation, advocacy for low-income workers or unemployed, you may be someone I’d like to talk to. There will of course be an ethics committee process to go through, but I wouldn’t be an anarchist if I wasn’t prepared to subvert that process by getting a little ahead of it, on my own terms.
You can comment here (all comments are moderated by me, so won’t show immediately. If you don’t want your comment published, say so, I’ll just contact you back privately) and let me know what you think of the project, what you might want to contribute or even criticise, and please, pass this around your networks.
FWIW, I operate at a level of ethical constraint higher than the Human Ethics Committees of most universities here in NZ. My protocol is that which is promulgated by NOHANZ, the National Oral History Association of NZ, based in the Oral History Archives in the Turnbull Library, Wellington. That can be viewed here.
Work that I do during this project will ultimately be archived at the Turnbull Library, in the Oral History Centre, unless participants specifically request their recorded contributions to be returned to them. Archived recordings can be set to varying levels of security, including ‘researcher only’, ‘public access’ and many variables in between. Recordings can be made unavailable for 50 years, in order that participants may be safely departed from this planet before their secrets may be examined, if so desired. Lotsa fun to be had there.
December 30, 2012
I’ve been a bit short on interwebz for a while, so not much posting here has been going on.
Thankfully, there are others who rant more than I do, who’ve been keeping their end up, so I’m gonna chuck a bunch of links atcha.
I’m too hot, it’s mid-summer, and I’m nowhere near a beach, but suffering from limited net-surfing capacity.
Sorry, there are no pictures today!
So, here’s some of the low-lights of this year for me, mostly from the last two months, in no particular order, and some linky-love to people I respect who write far more consistently than I do.
There was an appalling incident of gang-rape in India, reported on desultorily in NZ until it became mega worldwide, when the Herald finally published this. I have no words to describe this tragedy, other than it is appalling that such events happen, and the result is debate about whether laws need to be changed, in the face of huge popular demonstrations by women all over India. The time has come for Indians, whether Hindu, Sikh, Muslim or Christian, to come to an agreement that rape is not the fault of the victim, it is a crime by the rapist.
The Hand Mirror has been fighting fires with logic and reason, notably over the responses to the Sandy Hook mass murders. Autism has become a hot topic, when one would imagine gun control and a review of the ludicrous NRA-sponsored gun laws in the USA should be the concern. More here.
And still with THM, Stargazer had pertinent things to say about the apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha in the wake of an Aussie radio DJ’s prank. She also wrote a great post about harrassment women bloggers receive, referencing Anita Sarkeesian’s TED talk.
ALRANZ blog has been busy chronicling activism in – wait for it – Invercargill, as the local fundies try to shame women and Doctors attending the clinic at Southland Hospital. Just to show that shallow thinking and illogical actions are not merely the province of ill-educated american fundamentalists. I applaud the gutsy women who are picketing in the face of right-to-lifers who can’t see the contradiction in terms between their stance on abortion and their stance on supporting women to have decent lives, with a capacity to feed the children they give birth to. *sigh*
I’d be slapping stupid faces by now, I’m just over the specious arguments …. which is really why it’s a good thing I’m not in Invercargill right now.