2016 is coming to an end.

December 24, 2016

Firstly, Happy Holidays to everyone who is getting time to spend with their loved ones.


Now that I’ve caught your attention, spare a thought for those who are working through the seasonal festivities – in hospitals, driving ambulances, keeping petrol stations and call centres and other emergency services running, so that all of us keep our first-world privileges if anything goes wrong.
It’s been a rough year for a lot of people. A multi-party inquiry into Homelessness in Aotearoa/New Zealand produced this Report on Homelessness, and in July in the U.K., David Cameron resigned as PM after a Brexit result to his Referendum on Membership of the EU, not quite what he was expecting. Teresa May stepped into the vacancy as the next Tory PM, and the country as a whole began ticking off the similarities with Baroness Thatcher, who is so recently deceased as not to have left the battered consciousness of those who lived through the 1980’s.

Two months after the Homelessness Inquiry was completed, our own PM John Key resigned one Monday morning, having apparently woken up & decided he couldn’t be arsed any more, and Bronagh agreed with him. When The National caucus agreed with his estimation of Bill English as the best man for the job, they swore in the new PM at Gov House on December 12th, the first State Function performed by an equally startled Dame Patsy Reddy, whose inauguration as Governor-General was still in very recent memory.

Across the Atlantic, Trump won the US Presidential elections in November, startling most of the pundits, journalists and political insiders, including those inside his own Republican Party hierarchy. Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton still won the popular vote by over 3 million votes, but it’s the Electoral College that counts, and the votes in the big Republican states confirmed Trump’s win. Odd system, American ‘democracy’.

President Obama has provided a few good internet memes on the subject of ‘How to train a trump to be President’, go look for yourself on Twitter before @Potus is taken over by the orange menace.
I spent a lot of 2015 writing about Housing policy failures, and neglecting this blog. Some day, I may get bored enough to upload those research essays, but don’t hold your breath.

Much of 2016 has been about researching early settler/colonisation history, mostly in Otago as My O-week posts in February attest. 

I can highly recommend the Hocken Library to anyone wanting a great, supportive atmosphere in which to research NZ history. #DunedinIsGreat became a fav hashtag for a while. The Otago Museum, the Heritage Room at Dunedin Public Library, the Knox College Archives, Tōitu Settlers Museum and the Otago Regional Archives all served to augment my research journey. I did trace one loose end down in Auckland Public Library Heritage Room, as well. Librarians are awesome, I’m such a fan of professional archivists and librarians!

I also managed to squeeze in attending Prof Barbara Brooks’ launch of The Hisory of NZ Women, a text that will reverberate for the next generation of feminist historians, and catch a little of the conference her book launch was associated with, in February. Then on my way through Wellington on the way home, I caught up with friends and colleagues at the Proud Conference on Human Rights and Health at Otago Med School, Wellington campus, in March.

In May, I was present for the launch of the Neglect and Nurture Report, by Poverty Action Waikato researchers Dr Anna Casey & Dr Rose Black. This report came out at a pre-Budget function, which was well-attended by representatives of local NGO’s working hard to address housing and inequality issues in our region. That report can be found here.

My next conference was the Greens’ AGM in Lincoln, Canterbury, followed by my second short trip to Dunedin. Fortuitously, my friend Nicky Hager was speaking at the Foreign Policy School during the mid-year break, so I snuck into that conference to hear him, and stayed to listen to a few stunned British Professors speak about ForPol in the wake of Brexit. Well worth pulling my post-grad researcher privileges to get into that one, and sponsorship by MFAT meant the catering was somewhat awesome! 

On my way back through Wellington, I stopped long enough to do a quick oral presentation to the Social Services Select Committee, with a couple of days of hot-desk support from the Greens’ National Office, which was much appreciated.

 This was a foretaste of the second half of the year, as my travels took me to Wellington twice more: for the Social Movements, Resistance & Social Change III 2016 conference, held at VUW in early September (and my first conference presentation on my thesis research area, Anarchist Feminist Herstory in Aotearoa NZ), and then back again in October for a week beginning with the release of The Homelessness Inquiry Report in the Legislative chamber of Parliament. 


L-R: Andrew Little speaking; panel at table MP’s Marama Fox (M), Metiria Turei (G), PHIL Twyford (L), Marama Davidson (G), and guest speaker Hurimoana Dennis from Te Puea Marae, Mangere, Auckland.

Then to Barry Coates’ Maiden Speech in the House later in the week, and in between, another Select Committee oral submission, this time with one I’d fully prepared at home before I travelled.
I couldn’t have done so much without family and friends who let me sleep on couches and spare beds, all over the country. It was truly a very busy year, and there is a lot of ‘shut up and write’ still to do, and coincidentally, there will be a lot to do locally for Kirikiriroa-Hamilton branch in the leadup to #Green2017 campaigning for the General Election.

I’m going to chill out a bit, do some swimming and maybe some cycling, after I get through Xmas Day; my family are all ‘adult children’ now, with their own plans this year, so I am spending tomorrow prepping & cooking some vegetables, then serving Xmas Dinner with the Hamilton Homeless Trust; a practical counterpoint to the intellectual writing and research I have spent so much time on over the past two years. Sometimes you just need to roll up your sleeves & get stuck in. I have the hugest respect for the crews who are cooking a hot meal every week night at Attitude in Hood St, some of whom I know. It gives me great pleasure to step in and give a hand, to let the regulars have a break.

Have a safe and happy festive season, seeya on the flip side in 2017.

img_4995

OK, so that’s a Thatcher reference, but it seems appropriate this week.

While we’re in this lame duck week in Aotearoa, the week between the announcement of John Key’s resignation as PM, and the election by the National caucus of his successor on Monday 12th December, I just want to put down a few thoughts that have come up over the past two days.

Eight long years.

I graduated PGDipArts in 2008, and envisaged working in gender policy analysis in some Ministry or other, after I got a handle on some health problems that came up when I was finishing my diploma papers. Then National swept into power, and the policy analysts who had been guest lecturers to my Hons-level class were pushed out the doors of MSD Head Office right after Paula Bennett swept in as the new Minister in early 2009.
They both got jobs in Canberra and left the country, their qualifications and expertise appreciated by the Australian administration, at least.

I was suddenly in limbo. I wrote a bit, recovered some of my energy after a diagnosis of low thyroid function, and started a course of appropriate medication. I wrote book reviews, Ministerial complaints about the conduct of WINZ branch staff, blogposts, Select Committee submissions.
I wrote a Master’s thesis proposal, and it was accepted in June 2009. I started work on anethics Committee Research Application, and applied for a round of scholarships. Read more about how that went bad here.
I watched friends graduate the PhD’s that had been underway before GWS was threatened with closure, playing photographer for a friend at the last VUW Graduation Parade involving GWS School in December 2010.

I kept campaigning on Green politics, and writing about social policy issues from a feminist perspective.
Things got worse in Wellington; a transgender friend was so hounded and bullied by bigoted WINZ frontline staff that she took her own life in October 2012. This was just weeks after some successful transphobia-busting actions at Fairfax’s Wellington offices, and glitter-bombing Germain Greer for her transphobic statements at the Writer’s & Readers’ Week event at the Embassy Theatre. Ashley’s funeral was a very sad and angry gathering of her friends from Queer Avengers, who had to listen to family members misgender and dead name our friend, the ultimate in transphobic family behaviour. We walked her coffin across Willis St to the Wilson Funeral Home, and consigned her to eternity.

A helluva lot of Queer and Trans* support work grew from that, especially programs for LGBTI+ youth, but it was a bitter price to pay.

I left Wellington and moved to the Waikato, giving my Master’s thesis another go. Surprisingly, I encountered a bunch of deeply unethical behaviour from one supervisor, who it later became obvious was a fully-paid-up TERF.
My research into radical feminist activism was not an area she was familiar with, neither was my research methodology, oral history interviewing. After a lot of disagreements, and an ethics application that was incorrectly edited by a supervisor who failed to read the 2013 ethics committee guidelines ( freshly revised, which I followed, but had edited back to the ‘old’ way of doing things by my supervisor …), I withdrew my enrolment on medical grounds.
It took filing an academic grievance in 2015 to get my fees fully refunded. There was never any response in writing to the grievance that acknowledged fault, just the full and final refund in May 2016.

I applied for a lot of jobs during those years. Citing my PGDipArts in Gender and Women’s Studie s, as well as my BA in French (effectively, two majors and one Hons), I got rejection after rejection. I keep every one of those responses, because WINZ keep attacking my disability status & my lack of employment. Showing that employers are not interested in hiring disabled feminist policy analysts is necessary, on a regular basis.

I keep doing Green campaigning, and I keep writing Select Commitee submissions and I slowly stop blogging. Because what’s the point?

Eight years of a misogynist caucus under a PM who thinks ponytails are sexy and can’t keep his hands off them, who cut funding to Rape Crisis, Women’s Refuge, Lifeline and a myriad of otherNGO’s doing social work that MSD was denying responsibility for; cuts to Ministry of Women’s Affairs staff & funding (and a nonsensical rebranding); a year-on-year increase in suicide stats for youth; cuts to Studylink availability for school leavers, post-grads and over-55-yo mid-life retrainees; and then the crowning glory of refusal to acknowledge the housing crisis, refusing a Government inquiry so that the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry was established by Greens, Labour & Māori Parties. Read the  submissions .

NGO’s and individuals presented in person at five hearings around the country, beginning at Te Puea Marae in Mangere, South Auckland. I attended 3 of the 5, and then the launch of the Report in Wellington.
I’ve never been so miserable in a hearing my life, I wept & left the hall to go and shout angry words in the bathroom, and knitted my rage when I couldn’t keep taking notes.

The articles I researched during a stint of Policy study in 2015 haunt me – I wrote about Housing and found research papers going back to the mid-80’s that predicted selling off State Housing would be a net loss to society, as impoverishment and homelessness would result. I read Cabinet papers from December 2014, heavily redacted for official release, that turned up on the HNZ section of MSD website a week before Budget 2015 was announced. I realised that John Key had spent the entire previous summer lying to media, talking up an expectation that the Salavation Army would buy thousands of HNZ properties, when the real pitch was an overseas buyer to take the infrastructural rebuild off their hands. I was really angry at that deception.

And still John Key ruled the polls.

I felt a hefty sense of Schädenfreud on Monday.
Finally, all the corruption of this Government was being discussed (the institutional child abuse in State care had just become public and Minister Tolley was getting a drubbing in media) and Key spat the dummy on Monday 5th December 2015.

Eight long years.

What do I do now?

#Green2017

I can’t spend much more than this one post on regrets.
The election is ours to win, while National flounder around sorting out their factions and working out if Key’s backers go with him.

It’s time to #ChangeTheGovernment.

Le Matt Juste

The right person in the right place

Chris Perley's Blog

Thoughtscapes - people, place, policy, potential. Realising our potential when we synthesise across yesterday's silos of people, economy and place. Think like the mountain, not the specialists who see what they have only come to see.

Cogpunk Steamscribe

One writer's journey into the world of Steampunk

streetsofcolombo

“The only truth is music.” ― Jack Kerouac

Michael Roberts Blog

blogging from a marxist economist

Warning:Curves Ahead

vintage style for the modern dame

WhaeaJo

Ōku whakaaro e pā ana ki te mahi ako

Kia Ora Gaza

KIWI AID TO GAZA --- Please donate generously

Hikurangi Enterprises

Naumai, haramai.

energyfutureslab.wordpress.com/

Multi-disciplinary research developing a sustainable energy supply

Flip That Script

We can always re-write the scripts we live by. If we aren't discussing them, then we aren't thinking.

Auckland Peace Action

Working to end NZ support for war and the global arms trade

Katherine Dewar

Ruby and the Blue Sky author site

Michael Tavares

@TheWildernerd

Bored with a record shop.

Ever wondered what goes on when the proprietor of secondhand record shop at the butt end of the world chucks in the towel and goes back to having a life??

Monkeywrenching

Nandor Tanczos on politics and culture in Aotearoa New Zealand