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      • Plenty of jobs for journalism students
        • 31 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • FAIRFAX AWARD: Sue Teodoro and Fairfax Group Digital Editor Mark Stevens. IMAGES: Destina Munro (destinamunro.com)   SIX Whitireia Journalism and Broadcasting graduates have been hired and five more are going through interviews as the class of 2014-15 completes. Francesca Jago took the Wellington City Council Best Journalist Award of the 18 students from the National Diploma in Multi-media Journalism and the Whitireia Diploma in Radio Journalism. Stuff.co.nz has already employed Francesca as a web-editor, and her fellow graduates already hired include Josh Price (NewstalkZB), Liam Cavanagh (Otago Daily Times), Nicole Adamson (Hutt News), Hayley Gastmeir (Wairarapa Times Age), and Sarah Wilson (Cook Islands News). News media industry leaders were unanimous in their praise of Whitireia Journalism and Broadcasting at the annual graduation and awards dinner. Fairfax Digital editor Mark Stevens and course advisory chair said everything that had been showcased during the awards was exactly what industry wanted – multi-skilled, committed newsgatherers and storytellers. TOP RADIO: Josh Price and tutor Sue Burgin. NZME.-NewstalkZB chief reporter Katrina Bennett said she was impressed with the way graduate Josh Price walked straight out of the student newsroom into a live environment and covered major breaking news at a media conference for the infant formula poisoning scare. Whitireia Journalism programme manager Bernie Whelan said the number of jobs show that the industry has roles for digitally-savvy graduates. An email to the industry earlier in March to announce the completion of the programme produced 12 replies with job opportunities within three hours. Some of the highlights of the awards dinner and the programmes included: Francesca Jago: Best Journalist overall, produced 10 news videos during the programme including two on internship at the Northern Advocate (a first for Whitireia); Best New Media award winner for her accomplished social media and web work. This link was a highlight from early in the programme: http://www.newswire.co.nz/2014/11/maori-students-learn-about-their-culture-in-hawaii/ Josh Price: Won NZME. NewztalkZB Award for Best Radio News Reporter and Best Sports Reporter and is taking up a position as sole charge for NZME.’s NewstalkZB in Taranaki. Sue Teodoro: Won Fairfax National Diploma of Multimedia Journalism Best News Reporter, achieved a page lead story in the Dominion Post for a story of Maori land flags on Land Information New Zealand titles, is just about to have a feature on Wellington quake issues published in the DomPost and produced almost 100 stories during the programme. Here is a news video she produced with it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxItgQk7edE. VIDEO AWARD: Nicole Adamson and tutor Sue Burgin. Guest speaker for the awards dinner was TVNZ reporter Jehan Casinader, who inspired the graduating students with his experience of taking opportunities from a young age and getting published, getting on camera and travelling the world with journalism. He urged them to stay focussed on making a difference and telling people’s stories, but also entertaining readers and viewers. The awards presented were: Fairfax Award for Best Shorthand Writer: Finalists, Liam Cavanagh, Amanda Carrington, YC Lee, Finn Rainger, Nicole Adamson, Tess Nichol; winner – Tess Nichol. Whitireia Award for Best Sports Reporter: Finalists: Matt Lau, Jonty Dine, Josh Price, Eddy Kerr-Hislop; winner – Josh Price. Whitireia Award for Best New Media Journalist: Finalists, Ashleigh Manning, Matt Lau, Lize Immelman, Sue Teodoro, Francesca Jago; winner – Francesca Jago. Asia New Zealand Award for Best Diversity Reporter: Finalists, Hayley Gastmeier, Jonty Dine, Matt Lau, Tess Nichol, Lize Immelman, Josh Price; winner – Lize Immelman. Wellington City Council Award for Best Local Government Reporter: Finalists, Amanda Herrera, Liam Cavanagh, Hayley Gastmeier, Sue Teodoro; winner – Sue Teodoro. Pagemasters NZ Award for Best Subeditor and Designer Award: Finalists, Ashleigh Manning, Nicole Adamson, Hayley Gastmeier, Liam Cavanagh; winner – Nicole Adamson. North & South Award for Best Feature Writer: Finalists, Finn Rainger, Tess Nichol,  Sue Teodoro; winner – Finn Rainger. Wellington Company for Best Radio Documentary: Finalists, Rachel Rasch, Eddie Kerr-Hislop, Josh Price, Lize Immelman; winners – Liz Immelman and Eddie Kerr-Hislop. Harvey Norman Award for Best Photographer: Finalists, Francesca Jago, Amanda Carrington, Liam Cavanagh, Finn Rainger; winner – Liam Cavanagh (left). Video Reporter Awards: Finalists, Nicole Adamson, Liam Cavanagh, Finn Rainer, Sue Teodoro, Francesca Jago. TV3 Video Reporter Award winner: Nicole Adamson. TVNZ Video Reporter Award winner: Liam Cavanagh. NZME.-Newstalk ZB Best Radio News Reporter Award: Finalists, Rachel Rasch, Eddie Kerr-Hislop, Josh Price, Lize Immelmanl; winner – Josh Price. Fairfax Best Award for National Diploma News Reporter: Finalists, Nicole Adamson, Francesca Jago, Sue Teodoro, Tessa Nichol, Finn Rainger, Liam Cavanagh; winner – Sue Teodoro. Wellington City Council Award Best Journalist: Finalists drawn from all categories; winner – Francesca Jago. TOPDOCOS: Lize Immelman, tutor Sue Burgin and Eddie Kerr-Hislop.    

      • Porirua icons to inspire student collaboration with renown artist
        • 30 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • ICONIC Porirua imagery will inspire art to be created by local students working with Porirua’s internationally renowned artist Michel Tuffery. Selected students from each Porirua secondary school will have the opportunity to work with Michel over the next few months to create their own works. Michel hopes the students’ art work will reflect on the best of Porirua and celebrate its rich history, while at the same time they gain skills and knowledge. He is clear what he wants the students to achieve: “A visual outcome, so all the little different icons of Porirua, the best parts about Porirua, and hopefully get the youth to give their interpretation of the 50 years celebration of Porirua.” Samuel Marsden Whitby student Harrison James Leslie was at the launch programme partner Whitireia Polytech and he is already thinking about possible art projects. “When he said think about all those things that Porirua city is, I have really thought about it and I’ve come up with a lot of ideas, like the skate park. It’s always busy, you never see Porirua city quiet. “On a sunny day it’s always vibrant with all the colours and everything like that. “It’s been very cool.” Harrison was impressed by one of Michel’s art work shown in the slideshow at the launch, a giant Kangaroo head made out of scrap cars in Sydney. Deputy Mayor of Porirua, Ana Coffey described the project, which is being supported by the city council, as exciting. “I think it was a really good launch of a pretty exciting project. “I think Michel gave a really good grounding on what he’s got planned,” she says. Michel has run similar programs in the Solomon Islands and South West Sydney for eight years and around New Zealand. “I have various vehicle or collaboration projects that are running up and down the country,” he says. Tuffery has received national and international recognition, and was appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2008 Queens Birthday Honours. A half-day student briefing for selected students from each college has been completed. A one day workshop at Whitireia Polytechnic next month is their first opportunity to work with Michel to create their concept and design. The artist will then provide creative guidance and feedback as they produce their final designs. Their final workshop which will run over two days, during which Michel will take the students through printmaking processes and producing a small series of finished works on paper, fabric or other materials sourced from sponsors that join the project. There will be pop-up printing stations around Porirua CBD during mid-May to showcase the student’s final designs.

      • CubaDupa crowds dance in the rain
        • 28 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • RAIN did not stop performers and spectators from enjoying the first day of the two-day CubaDupa festival celebratinh Wellington’s iconic Cuba Street. The festival opened with a mass choir singing a song that was written for the festival and a parade lead by Whitireia Polytechnic kapa haka group (above).  Cuba Street Song maiden performance A song written about Wellington’s colourful and iconic Cuba Street got its first airing today. The song called O Tatou Wiata was sung by a mass choir at the opening of the 2 day CubaDupa festival. O Tatou Waiata, written by Wellington man Julian Raphael was inspired  by the street’s history and special characters. Six choirs, along with Whitireia’s Performing Arts students (right), took part in the opening. Light rain falling at the time did not deter the performers or the crowd. When asked what she enjoyed most about the festival a local street vendor replied: “The singing for sure.” Bringing Maori to Cuba Dupa The Cuba Dupa Festival kicked off this morning with a parade led by the Whitireia performing arts group. The Whitireia Polytechnic kapa haka group, undeterred by the rain, led a parade of six choirs up Cuba Mall to the Swan Lane carpark. Group leader and tutor  Kereama TeUa (left) said it was an honour for him and his group of students to be a part of this event. “Even though the kaupapa wasn’t started by Maori, I want to acknowledge those ones who had the vision and foresight to bring us on board to acknowledge not only our maunga but the tangata whenua,” TeUa said. The parade attracted big crowds despite the weather. Following the parade, the kapa haka group invited members of the crowd to test their skills with the poi. Men were also invited to try the haka poses. One of the students, Indya Gibbs said the wet conditions were a challenge. “Our outside performances are usually in tropical places, so we’re usually in Italy, France, Taiwan, we’re not usually in windy Wellington but it was a good experience.” she says. Nuhaka Numanga (19), a second year student, said: “It means the world to me because I love doing this. I was brought up in the performing arts industry, with that kind of background so this is just like second nature.” Circus comes to town The circus has come to town for Wellington’s first ever CubaDupa festival and the first act on the Leeds Street stage was Auckland’s Blingling Bros. Their routine consisted of jokes, music and various objects such as balls hats and plastic pins being juggled. Mark Williams and Paul Klaassen have been performing together as the Blingling Bros for the past seven years and won the Supreme Overall Award at the 2013 New Zealand Circus Awards. A crowd of about 70 people turned up in the rain to watch them perform, with both children and adults getting involved. There were anxious moments when they asked children to catch them during their crowd-diving finale. The highpoints of the show included balls being juggled into a basketball net balancing on Williams’s head and then with Klaassen standing on his partner’s shoulders, juggling six basketballs in an act they called The Octopus (right). The rain did not appear to worry the duo who made few mistakes and wowed the crowd with their routine. Tonight’s performances includes Whitireia Polytech’s circus act, the How to Universe Circus and the CubaDupa Circus Cabaret,  both on the Leeds Stage. Plans for CubaDupa to be annual event Cuba Street transformed into magical playground.Wellington’s Cuba Street has been transformed into a magical interactive playground for the weekend. Today and tomorrow, a street festival called CubaDupa will close the iconic Cuba Street to traffic and play host to a celebration of art and culture. CubaDupa has been a few years in the making according to organiser Brianne Kerr (left). Ms Kerr says they did not want to recreate the old Cuba Street Carnival, discontinued in 2009, but wanted to keep the excitement that came with it. “We used European street fairs as an inspiration for CubaDupa,” she says. Over 2000 Cuba Street locals, such as Cosmic and Mr Bun, are involved and are playing live music and are taking their shops outside to the street. Along with the creative team who have been organising the event, about 100 volunteers are helping to make it run smoothly. Ms Kerr is using this year’s CubaDupa as a benchmark and hopes, with Wellington City Council support  to make it an annual event. Stores spill out onto Cuba Despite the rainy weather the Cubadupa crowds enjoyed Cuba Street stores spilling out onto the street. Shops made the most of the foot-traffic and advertising their goods. Matchbox staff-member Kristine Garay was surprised at turnout and said her display – spinning the wheel to receive a free hug, lolly, glitter-bomb or $5 lucky dip – was “really popular.” Taking shelter under their umbrellas, people were still lining up for every stall. Ice-cream salesman Xander Dixon said that his stall was not too busy, having sold 40 gelatos in the first two hours of the festival. The show must go on Wet weather made set up difficult today for performers at Wellington’s newest street festival Cuba Dupa, but in true showbiz style, the show went on. Street musician Pete O’Connell (right) struggled as he rushed to set up equipment for his Rhythm Wheel performance on a small stage in Cuba Mall. The Rhythm Wheel is a musical invention designed by Pete who says he was inspired by the sound you hear when you put a card on bicycle spokes. The wet weather made for an uncomfortable performing environment but Pete says: “When it comes to the weather it is what it is.” Despite the weather, the Rhythm wheel drew a big crowd, causing problems for pedestrians trying to walk through the mall. And the wet weather wasn’t fazing spectators either. Harry Crooks from Christchurch says “It sums up wellington and creates a really cool atmosphere at Cuba Dupa.” Kieran Harrington, who also travelled to Wellington to take part in Cuba Dupa, says sun would have been better, but he enjoyed the performance anyway. A taste of Cuba on Cuba The music and dance of the country that shares the Cuba Street’s name was showcased on the Swan Lane stage. CubanFusion managed to engage the crowd despite the rain with its Afro-Cuban beats. Rafael Ferrer (38) and wife Rosina Van Der Aa (51) are not only performers but also the founders of CubanFusion. Mrs Van Der Aa said says that even with the poor weather, it didn’t stop anyone from joining in on the fun. She gives most of the credit to the Cuban music that was playing. “The upbeat music helped people get into the dancing” she says. Emily Gousmett (left)  (23) from the Hutt Valley says the loud music and the cool decorations caught her attention. “The chandeliers look cool, the music’s fun to listen to and there’s some really good vibes going on,” she says. Sam Uaita (right) (23) from Mt Cook says he really enjoyed the vibes the performance gave off. “The atmosphere is great. It has a really nice sound and some groovy dancing. It has a very whimsical, light hearted, mellow vibe to it,” he says. Renee Mason (23) from the Hutt Valley says the music is what made her come watch the performance. “I really liked the beat of the music. There’s a good atmosphere around here,” she says. Newswire Team: Aidan Jones, Araina Khonthothong, Colin Engelbrecht, Arana Kenny, Emma Moody, Jade Mazey, Te Huia Moke.                                                                                                

      • Work to be done at grass roots in fight against bullying
        • 28 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • PRIDE AND JOY: Konfident Kidz creator Lisa Gembitsky sits on the cushions she made herself inside the Lower Hutt clubhouse. IMAGE: Amanda Carrington WANTED: A kick-ass, considerate and confident person who is passionate about anti-bullying training. If such a person is not found, Lisa Gembitsky will have to put her dearest passion “in a pretty box” for now, while she goes off to live in Europe. Ms Gembitsky is excited about Europe but sad to be having to put on hold her programme Konfident Kidz, which has involved 8000 children over eight years. “I was really hoping the right person would come along and take it,” she says. Konfident Kidz has worked with children in schools and communities around Wellington to face bullying. The programme was funded by the government just once in its eight years, through the Ministry of Social Development. Ms Gembitsky was disappointed at the lack of support for an organisation working hands on with children. “The New Zealand government likes to try and band aid situations but you can’t band aid this,” she says. Studies have shown the scale of the problem in New Zealand. A study published in April 2013 by Victoria University of Wellington found 94% of participants said bullying occurred in their school. Head of Victoria’s School of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy Dr Vanessa Green and her team of students surveyed 860 teachers and principals in primary and secondary schools. The study found 67% agreed verbal bullying was a problem, 39% stated that cyberbullying was an issue and 35% agreed physical bullying was a problem. New Zealand was among the worst worldwide when it comes to bullying in primary schools, according to a 2008 study by the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). The TIMSS study found that year five students reported higher levels of bullying than year nine students in New Zealand. The figures suggest, therefore, that organisations working at grass-roots with children to gain confidence and self-esteem to face bullying are needed in our communities. Murals cover the outside of the clubhouse in where many Lower Hutt children have become Konfident Kidz. Inside, the walls are plastered with photos of the children, and stacks of cushions Ms Gembitsky made herself are piled up in the hall. Cute, grinning faces and best-friend hugs fill the frame in each photograph. “I firmly believe that the kids love doing Konfident Kidz and really retain the information and see the positiveness in it down the track. “I know for a fact that they wouldn’t still talk to me if they though it was rubbish. There’s no way I would be getting the responses that I get, big cuddles and jumping on me and saying ‘hi’ and telling me all about their lives, if we hadn’t have had that impact on them,” she says. Ms Gembitsky has a background in martial arts and has always wanted to take the fundamental skills, confidence and leadership of the sport and put it into a programme to help children. The kids get taught a range of specific skills – knowing their instincts and when to walk away, recognising triggers that they’re being bullied and how their tone of voice can control a situation to stop a bully, she says. The skills being taught in the programme were put into practice by identical twins, who received national attention after they were snatched at a Lower Hutt mall. The twins were grocery shopping with Mum at Queensgate mall when they were snatched at while heading towards the toilet. The male predator described by the New Zealand show Close Up tried twice to get them into the men’s bathroom but the eight-year-olds fought back yelling “get away from us”. TWO OF A KIND: (From left) Identical twins Holly and Emily Robertson, 14, put the skills they were taught in the Konfident Kidz programme into practice when they were snatched at by a stranger at the age of eight. IMAGE: Supplied Holly says her sister Emily was grabbed by the man but Holly pushed him away and they used their voices. Emily, the oldest twin by one minute, says she was a little bit frightened that day but because of the confidence course, she’s prepared for anything coming her way. Lynda Roberston is the mother of Holly and Emily, 14, who took part in the programme when they were seven. Mrs Robertson was introduced to Konfident Kidz when her daughter Emily saw it in a school newsletter. She says she was pretty “upset” when she heard about the incident and all she wanted to do was to get the girls home. She regrets not telling the mall management about the incident at the time. “They were quite brave. It could have had quite a different outcome,” Mrs Robertson says. The twins learnt how to defend themselves and how to get out of a dangerous situation at the Konfident Kidz workshops. Holly and Emily are best friends who hardly ever fight. They’re the youngest of six children and attend Hutt Valley High school. While speaking to the twins separately, their voices matched each other’s identically. They spoke confidently with a hint of nerves. “I feel that if we hadn’t have taken the confidence programme we wouldn’t have been as confident to do something like that,” Holly says. Emily laughed when she said she learnt from the confidence programme to be aware of strangers that seemed to be “dodgy”. “I have always made sure that I’m around the people I know that don’t look kind of weird, but if they did, I know not to go near them,” Emily says. Holly suffered from anxiety and panic attacks after the incident but it was something that she could control and they eventually went away. She says she has helped other people who have dealt with anxiety and has given them tips on how to feel better. Holly also had the support of her sister Emily who was with her every step of the way. She supported her and told her not to worry about things. Situations like this can be prevented if programmes like Konfident Kidz were funded. Ms Gembitsky, who was born in Porirua and grew up in Wainuiomata, sat down with a friend after returning from Europe eight years ago and wrote the fun, relaxed and friendly programme. To get it started she trialled it in six schools for free. Konfident Kidz is aimed for children aged five to 18 years. “[Children] should be bought up in a place where they’re completely confident in themselves, have really high levels of self-esteem because that’s what creates good community, proactive people,” Ms Gembitsky says. Her son Hunter started learning confidence building and self-esteem at the age of two. He is now seven years old and has become “well-equipped”. When asked about why children bully, Ms Gembitsky says it’s human nature and kids are influenced by what they see online. Social media has become a part of our lives since it started in 1970 and is the main factor behind the growing problem of cyberbullying. The older generation don’t understand the younger generation because they weren’t raised with cell phones at the age of seven and were never bought up with the technology, Ms Gembitsky says. Communication, whether it is in social media or face-to-face, is a critical aspect of Konfident Kidz. “If you can teach young people how to communicate appropriately, how to read body language, how they feel safe and what those things feel like then they can deal with potential situations that are coming their way, whether it being bullying or attacking,” she says. Unfortunately, the schools and community groups who took part in the Konfident Kidz workshops over the years have had to pay from their budgets for the children. One of those schools was Normandale School where Holly and Emily Robertson attended the workshops. Pukeatua School was lucky enough to receive funding to have Konfident Kidz into its school. Pukeatua Principal Jenni Adam says Ms Gembitsky supported teachers with an in-class programme focusing on students making good choices through building self-confidence and self-esteem. “It gave them strategies of how to cope in a situation where they might have to choose between right and wrong,” she says. The second time they visited was when they ran an after school programme for the whānau, she says. Ms Adam says children can build confidence and self-esteem by valuing others and also valuing themselves. This will lead them to make good choices and create a positive impact on their lives. The Ministry of Education believes confidence and self-esteem are important qualities to have because they help people’s ability to handle challenges. Bullying in primary schools should not be tolerated due to its detrimental effect on children’s health, wellbeing and learning, says Ministry of Education head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey. “Students who are isolated and who have low self-esteem are at a relatively greater risk of being bullied,” she says. Ms Gembitsky believes that building communities and running hands-on programmes such as Konfident Kidz can create a big impact. “Imagine what sort of adults you would grow. “That whole generation of those sorts of people – the undesirable people or the useless parents – would be completely gone and those kids would grow up being amazing and they will change their entire community. “It would be phenomenal. All it takes is a little investment and a little money,” she says. Agencies that focus on bullying receive funding. There are other organisations that receive government funding for working with youths on bullying. They receive grants, sponsorships and assistance to provide information, counselling and help lines. One of them is NetSafe which specifically provides help to children dealing with cyberbullying. NetSafe provides parent presentations, a kit for schools, DVD’s and a contact centre for enquiries related to online issues, NetSafe training and education specialist Lee Chisholm says. “We believe that if the techniques are followed and the information we provide is used, it’s likely to have a positive outcome,” she says. Ms Chisholm also says building an understanding of bullying and how it affects people in negative ways should be started at an early age. Another organisation is What’s Up, a call centre that provides options of practical techniques and guidance for five to 18 year olds. “We support [the youths] learning self-protective thoughts and behaviours and reflect and build on their own strengths, skills and abilities,” What’s Up supervisor Carolyn Gibbs says. What’s Up keep an eye on what is happening here and overseas in terms of anti-bullying strategies. Youthline receives grants to help youth dealing with issues. Bullying can be emotional, verbal or physical, says Youthline national spokesperson and CEO Stephen Bell. “We need to create an environment where young people can feel okay about asking for help, where they can be open without fear of being embarrassed about expressing their feelings,” he says. Youthline believes young people need to be the change to ensure bullying is no longer a part of the community.

      • Inequities in health linked to high stomach cancer rates for Maori
        • 27 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • A computer generated depiction of the bacterium Helicobacter Pylori CREDIT: http://www.bioquell.com/ Over 50% of people are believed to have it. It spreads through human-to-human contact, has no visible symptoms and can stay with you your whole life. Once it works it way into your system, it attacks the lining in your stomach and can create a condition inside which allows cancer to grow. It’s known as Helicobacter Pylori and it’s a bacterium that is causing problems within indigenous populations around the world, including New Zealand. So could it be one of the reasons why Maori have such high rates of stomach cancer? And if so, is anything being done to increase survival chances for Maori? Research H Pylori Virginia Signal, an Otago University Student published a report last year, which looked at why Maori have higher rates of stomach cancer and lower survival than non-Maori. Ms Signal had help from health professionals in carrying out the study, which was the first of its kind, and their findings were not pretty. They compared notes from 800 cancer patients, both Maori and non-Maori, and 335 were from people with stomach cancer. Of those with stomach cancer, 43% of Maori had distal cancer (cancer that occurs lower in the stomach), which was 17% more than non-Maori. Now this is where the elusive bacterium, H Pylori comes into play. Ms Signal says distal cancer is closely linked to H Pylori. “It’s been shown in other studies throughout New Zealand as well.” So why are Maori more likely to contract it? Ms Signal says out of all the cancers, stomach cancer has one of the strongest socio economic gradients. “The poorer you are, the more likely you are to get stomach cancer. “H pylorus is often passed around in families, particularly those living in overcrowded conditions. “Of course Maori in New Zealand are much more likely to live in overcrowded homes and thus they have much higher prevalence of H pylori than non-Maori.” H pylorus is difficult to spot and Ms Signal says this is one of the reasons why awareness needs to be raised. “There aren’t any visible symptoms however it can be screened for and removed through antibiotic treatment.” “Stomach cancer is potentially preventable in a lot of cases,” she says. “There might be a role for primary health care to play in terms of screening for and helping to get rid of H pylori, as well as raising awareness that Maori are much more likely to contract it.” Research survival rate Stomach cancer is the fourth most diagnosed cancer amongst Maori males and seventh for females. Ms Signal says the numbers aren’t as high compared to other cancers however the disparity between Maori and non-Maori is very large. Rates for Maori are up to five times those of non-Maori and according to the report, Maori are 27% less likely to survive their stomach cancer. So why is this case? Ms Signal says one of the common theories is that Maori get diagnosed later so are more likely to die. However they found no difference in stage of disease for most of the patient notes they examined. One of their conclusions was that there is a systematic failure within the health care system. It’s a failure that is resulting in poor access to services and poor quality of treatment for Maori and consequently decreasing survival chances, but there are people fighting for change within the system. Nina Scott Finding Maori cancer patients who have had a smooth journey along the treatment pathway is a rarity for public health specialist, Dr Nina Scott. “It’s not the ones who have had the bad journey who stick out because that’s most of them. “There are a lot of tragic stories out there,” she says. When I interviewed Dr Scott, she had just come out of a meeting with Hei Āhuru Mōwai, a Maori cancer leadership group. The name of the group means a warm embracing cloak for everybody and its metaphorical meaning was to ensure that everybody in the cancer pathway received optimal care. Dr Scott, whose iwi is Ngāti Whātua and Waikato, is a Maori representative on five other cancer groups nationwide. She says some people still refuse to accept there is a systematic failure. “There are still people out there who think it’s a Maori cultural problem, a cultural reluctance to present for care. “There is no evidence to support this,” she says. “It’s total victim blaming and we need to move away from it. “Victim blaming gets us nowhere, it distances accountability from health provider obligations, and so changes are not made or even attempted.” Dr Scott says one of the most concerning issues is the racism evident within the system. “It’s very clearly documented. “Maori are more likely to be at the receiving end of person to person racial discrimination and racism is bad for your health,” she says. “I’ve had an oncologist say to me that Maori patients are fatalistic, i.e. they don’t mind dying.” However Dr Scott says it’s more productive to look at the bigger picture. “I prefer not to focus on the individual doctor-patient relationships and focus on improving our health system.” And she is optimistic that fair and equitable cancer care for all New Zealanders, can be achieved. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be here, I’d just give up and go hide in a cave,” she says. Her focus has been on Maori health ever since medical school. “I wanted to make a difference within the health care system and I could see it was all about systems.” “Patterns of disparity between Maori and non-Maori were evident and to change them I knew I needed to work collaboratively within the system rather than throwing spears from the outside.” According to Dr Scott, the situation is getting better for Maori and we should expect to start seeing some improvements. “Although it never used to be the case, equity is now at the top of the agenda for most cancer leadership groups nationwide and the Ministry of Health is becoming more focused on it as a key issue.” Dr Scott says guidelines, treatment standards and monitoring them by ethnicity will make a big difference in the quality of cancer care for Maori. “People don’t go out to cause inequities, they don’t even realise they are happening.” “Once you start monitoring something and start reporting back and people see that there are inequities within their district health board, within their practice then they can address them.” She doesn’t think it will be too hard to achieve equity. “It’s not like we need to spend millions of dollars developing new treatments to save all these lives.” “All we need to do is do what we know works but make sure it happens for Maori as well. “We need to make that our top priority.” Research differential treatment A key finding of Ms Signal’s report is that Maori are less likely to receive specialist treatment. Only 44% of Maori were treated in a main centre, whereas 88% of non-Maori were. Maori were also less likely to have a specialist perform their surgery, 38% compared to 79% for non-Maori. Ms Signal says this is a concern as surgery is the main stage of treatment for stomach cancer. So not only are Maori more likely to get stomach cancer but also less likely to receive specialist care. These findings point towards a very large disparity in health status between Maori and non-Maori. George Laking Oncologist, Dr George Laking has worked within the New Zealand health system since 1993 and more directly in Maori health since 2008. His iwi is Te Whakatōhea and he says there are a range of issues that lead into a worse health status for Maori, racism being one of them. “It gets a bit depressing,” he says. “There’s quite a bit of work which shows it is an issue.” Pausing to consider his next comment, he says: “Even if you take into account where people live, how much money they have for petrol etcetera. “There’s still less interaction, engagement, access and uptake of services for Maori.” Dr Laking has seen first-hand the lengths that some Maori have to go through to get to their appointments. “I always think of the people who have to borrow money to buy petrol to go to the cash machine to get money out to come and see me at the clinic. “That’s the struggle some people have to go through,” he says. “So what’s the remedy for that?” Dr Laking believes people’s health status is an expression of all the elements of their social situation, not just how much money they have. “So much of the illness we see is explained by the way our society is organised in terms of inequalities and disparities,” he says. “It’s very relevant with Maori.” However, like Dr Scott he says the situation is improving. “I guess one good development is that the Ministry of Health has recognised there is a problem with access to services for many Maori people. “It has recently established some new jobs called cancer navigators, people who form a bridge to make sure no one is lost in the system.” He says they can play an important role in improving communication between patient and doctor. “Otherwise what tends to happen is we make an appointment, the person doesn’t show up and we give up.” Communication is also something that Dr Scott highlighted as extremely important for cancer patients and she refers to a study done by two Hamilton nurses as an example. “Taking anti-hormone therapy after you have been diagnosed with breast cancer can be really important for a lot of women, but some stop taking it,” she says. “All these nurses did was ring the women on the therapy twice and it increased their adherence by 20%. “Two phone calls. Amazing. “They couldn’t keep doing it though, they were taking the lists home and phoning them after hours. “Funding needs to be made available so these types of activities can grow.” Dr Laking also points out that trust is an issue for Maori. “For example if people have had bad experiences in the past they might not trust the health care system so much,” he says. Dr Laking believes Whānau Ora, a cross-government work programme jointly implemented by the Ministry of Health, Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Social Development, can also make a difference in improving the situation. “The system is quite powerful so to get good communication and good relationships you have to build trust and that’s where navigators and Whānau Ora can make a difference,” he says. “Somewhere within each person’s whanau there will be a point of engagement so they are not alone and challenged by their access to services. “Engage with the whanau and hopefully someone will help them get to their appointments.” Dr Laking says improvement in these areas could go along way however there are other issues that need remedying to ensure survival rates are higher for Maori. “It’s not worse survival because they are bigger lumps, not worse survival because they are older people and its not worse survival because they are sicker.” “All the explanations have been adjusted for, what does that leave,” he says. “It definitely raises the question are Maori missing out on surgical expertise.” He agrees with the report’s conclusion on what needs to happen next. It states, “These findings support the development and implementation of national stomach cancer treatment standards for New Zealand. They also highlight the imperative that these standards have an equity focus and prioritise the needs of Maori.” “I like their conclusion that the findings support the development of some national standards for cancer care,” Dr Laking says. “Create the standards and then see what happens to the survival rate.” “It’s reasonable to expect that it will improve.”

      • Maori and Brazilian ‘chucked in a pot’ for Cuba Dupa festival
        • 23 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • THE HOOK: Matiu Te Huki is a Wellington musician and a performer in Tutakitaki, a collaboration of Maori and Brazilian music. IMAGE: Paddy Riley MAORI and Brazilian music will be “chucked in a pot” and “blended” together for Tutakitaki, a music collaboration and project for Cuba Dupa festival this weekend. Cuba Dupa is a street festival that will feature a range of acts and performing groups on Saturday and Sunday on Wellington’s historical Cuba Street. Tutakitaki is one of the many acts involved in Cuba Dupa and features Wellington musicians and singers Matiu Te Huki and Alda Rezende. Mr Te Huki, aka “The Hook”, believes making music is all about conveying a powerful message and creating a “hook” for the audience. “I have a desire to make a difference and music is such a powerful way to make a difference,” he says. He has been in the performance industry for most of his life, started in a Kapa Haka group as a child and in a band at 19. He has been writing and performing music for 10 years. Performing in the kapa haka helped Mr Te Huki to gain more confidence to be on stage and gave him voice control and projection. He says his music is a soulful root and reggae music made with the intention to uplift and inspire people. “That’s a big part of how I like to perform. “ “I like to connect to my audience so that I’m not just putting on a show but it becomes an experience andrelaxes the audience and makes them feel comfortable,” the 42-year-old says. If he is walking back to his campsite and he can hear people singing his melody, he knows the message got through to them. Mr Te Huki, of Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Rangitane iwi, has two older brothers, a Maori dad and a non-Maori mum. He is from Masterton but lives in Paekakariki. “[My Mum] was the one who wanted use to learn about our Maori culture and she pushed me down the road with my music and performing,” he says. He plays three Maori instruments – koauau, a flute, putorino, functions like a trumpet and a flute and the porotiti, which is spun on string to create a humming sound. Ms Rezende, 47, likes to mix Brazilian, Maori and indigenous music together and says all three have very similar elements. “I’m inspired by the Brazilian culture and the indigenous mixture of vocal music. I like to find new ways of creating things,” she says. Ms Rezende is from Minas Gerais, the second most popular state of Brazil with a population of more than five million. She has been performing music for more than 20 years. She was one of the headline acts in the Wellington International Jazz Festival with a tribute to Brazilian composer Tom Jobim last year. She is also the creator and host of Latin Club, a unique vibe of Latin music performances, held at Meow Café in Wellington. Ms Rezende has a 10–year-old son Peo and has been in New Zealand for seven years. The two Tutakitaki performances will be different due to the songs the group can play at the venues Te Papa’s Te Marae and the sound restrictions at Cuba Dupa. “It will be quite challenging and interesting to play different songs at different locations,” she says. Cuba Dupa artistic director Drew James says Tutakitaki is a very important event for them because of its national flavour and creativity across cultures. “Cuba Dupa is about celebrating creativity and different cultures but it’s also about celebrating collaboration and presenting it to a wider audience,” he says. Tutakitaki, which means encounter, will show Ms Rezende weaving her Brazilian music into Mr Te Huki’s songs. He says it’s like “chucking it into the pot and stirring it up”. The concept of Tutakitaki is bringing the similar sounds of the different instruments and rhythms and “putting it in a blender”. The trio have performed before at the Brazilian Embassy and the Maori Market last year. Tutakitaki will be performed on Saturday March 28 at Cuba Dupa on the Glover Street stage at 6.45 to 7pm. They will also perform on Sunday March 29 at Te Papa’s Te Marae at 2pm and at the Cuba Dupa after party at Meow Café at 6pm. MIX IT UP: Brazilian singer Alda Rezende finds new ways of creating sounds when she blends rhythms and elements of music. IMAGE: Marcia Chamizon

      • WATCH: Volunteers keeping Lyall Bay’s coastline litter free
        • 18 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • ON THE first Sunday of each month a team of volunteers clean up rubbish at Lyall Bay beach. At 10am the group gathers at the playground where bags and gloves, supplied by the council, are distributed. James Grigg has been attending the monthly clean-up for eight years and says it is about keeping the beach clean and protecting wildlife such as birds, dolphins and fish. “It’s doing something to ensure they don’t eat the rubbish and therefore causing them problems.” The amount of rubbish volunteers collect depends on the weather. Mr Grigg says during the winter they may collect just a couple of bags but in summer, when the kids are on holiday, they get six or seven bags quite easily. “We want to keep the place looking nice for whoever comes here, either visitors or the locals.” “It’s a small minority of people that do litter and really it’s just laziness on their behalf.” After one hour everyone returns their rubbish bags to the playground and the council is called to come and collect it. The monthly event helps build up community relationships and Mr Grigg encourages more people to join the club. “It would be nice to get more people involved from the community, it’s good fun and they can bring their kids along for the hour.” “It can make a big difference through the course of the year and beyond that.”

      • Wellingtonians add angry voices to X Factor debacle
        • 17 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • X FACTOR was dismissed and disparaged on the streets of Wellington this week as fall-out continued from Sunday night’s bullying of a contestant. Almost 70 % of people spoken to by the NewsWire team were visibly angry when asked for their reaction to the reality TV show’s blow-up. In the wake of bullying of singer Joe Irvine, judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon have been sacked, New Zealand on Air has said it will not fund the programme next year, and TV3 advertisers have criticised the show. The Broadcasting Standards Authority is likely to also deal with the issue. Northland student Allie Edwards (20), right, was “absolutely disgusted” and her friend had already lodged a complaint by Tuesday. “It was not ok and my friend wrote a letter to the Broadcasting Authority,” Allie said. Student Joe Perrone (18), left, has switched off: “I’ve decided to stop watching it because of them.” Many of those spoken to by NewsWire were happy to see the judges gone, although viewer Johnny Mearns (47), right, was in two minds. “I think she was quite hot, and I miss her now, but I thought he was a dick, and I’m glad he’s gone. It was good that they went,” said the Oriental Bay man. However, others such as Tommy Riley (24), left,of Masterton, were disgusted with the focus on reality TV hype. “Completely ridiculous, far bigger issues we should be worrying about. There’s a big cyclone coming towards us and we’re talking about some guy who got bullied on stage by some judges.” Te Aro business owner Jackie Condra (45), right, was typical of a number of people spoken to by NewsWire who were cynical about the blow-up. “I think that it’s possibly been manufactured for ratings, or they were just asked to be a bit meaner and they took it way too far,” Jackie said. Rosie-Lee (21), left, is embarrassed for New Zealand. “I’m embarrassed that this whole thing has gone worldwide. Like Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding and Lorde know about it. It also puts a bad perspective on New Zealand as a country now,” said the Wellington bartender. Among the other quotes from the 43 people spoken to by the NewsWire team were: Luke Johnson (25) Mount Cook, real estate agent: “Way out of line. They did the right thing by kicking them off. Joe he handled it quite well, good role model.” Moya McLennan (26) Te Aro, student, right: “I think the comments were very uncalled for, and I’m kind of glad that they got kind of put in their place and got fired because I think it was definitely not what the show is about and I think they kind of got justice for what happened. I definitely don’t think they were in the right place to be saying something like that and especially because they were very irrelevant.” Luther Loach (18) Lyall Bay, student, left: “I think that it was appropriate, I just feel like she deserved to get fired. It was just unnecessary, she critiqued him on what he was wearing.” Olivia Johnson (23) Te Aro, nurse: “I don’t know too much about it, I just know that some woman said something rude. I don’t know whether she was trying to be funny, but I think you can take things too far on a show as a judge, it’s still is a person’s life.” Roman Akiwi-Thompson, (18), student, Wellington, right: “Well it was extremely unfair to be honest and extremely rude, like they just kinda bullied him specifically and they didn’t kinda have any self-restraint.” Adam Skinner, (21), clown, Tauranga: “I reckon it’s kind of ridiculous what she said to him. To me, it just seems like she had a massive, massive ego. And not on live television she shouldn’t really be saying that to people you know what I mean it’s just disrespectful. She could have stopped it half way through and it would have been somewhat acceptable but the fact that she carried on and kept hammering him, just get rid of her.” Hannah Graham, (22), sales & marketing, Wellington, left: “I think it’s pretty stink and they shouldn’t put people down, and it’s kind of appalling, and they shouldn’t have been hired.” Luke Kershaw, (32), commercial real estate, Wellington: “Yeah well I guess the actual comments were pretty harsh. When I watched it on YouTube I thought it was pretty rough sort of calls on that chap, but he defended himself pretty well, but then on the other side you do wonder sometimes weather this is just a big old jack up aye, so I don’t know really what to think of it.” Meg Melvin, (43), self-employed contractor, Wellington, right: “Personally I think that it’s a bit of a have, so I get the feeling that it was done on purpose because I heard that ratings were dropping, so I never really trust anything from that reality TV show genre so to me it feels like a bit of a put on.” Zac Young, (18), Thorndon: “I think it’s blown out of proportion in terms of how much energy and effort is taken up by it, in terms of the public. I think it’s over-hyped in that regard, I think it’s actually not that important, in terms of… What I’m trying to say is people should be getting fired up for more important stuff than this, more (small?) kind of bullying. Like sure, I don’t think it’s okay what was said by those judges, but I don’t think it’s warranted the attention it’s got.” Jess Perry, (20), Mt. Cook, left: “I think it was really horrible, it was really mean cause I watched it with my flatmates and we were all just kind of like what the (fuck).” Demi McCauley, (21), Masterton: “I just thought it was ridiculous because it was really nasty that they just really ripped him open when he was on stage and they deserved to be fired because people like that don’t deserve a good job. Judges are supposed to give you positive feedback or else they’re supposed to give you critical feedback but that’s not the right critical feedback you should be giving to someone.” Lena Taylor (21), student, Kelburn, right: “I think it’s gone a little bit out of proportion.” Andre O’Sullivan (42), account manager, Miramar: “Aren’t the editors to blame? I’d blame the editors aye.” (For not editing the scene out) Ruby Leonard (21), student, Newtown: “I think it’s super ridiculous. I think it’s good that they got fired. I think XFactor’s kind of a joke anyway but I feel sorry for the guy.” Tessa Stott (14), student, Tawa: “It’s just terrible and unacceptable really.” Paula Mathews (49), Hutt Valley, I.T Worker: “The judges were pretty harsh on him and they were harsh on the judges” Natalie Butler (18), Kelburn, Student: “She’s a dick” Becky Holmes (54), Karori, Administrator: “They were rude, but it was funny” Sanne Van Ginkel (18) Wellington Central, Student: “We signed the petition to get them off the show” Logan Swete, (24), Greenpeace, left: “I don’t even follow it, I really don’t know, generally the whole Paul Henry thing, [X Factor] doesn’t sound as bad, they’re a private show so they can get as bad as they want” Sydel Berryman, (19), Third Year Victory University student: “It was totally unnecessary behaviour on her behalf” Ashley Atitty, (27), Pharmacy worker: “To be honest I don’t really follow it, I’m from India to watch the cricket, but it was really bad” Valda Kelly, (58), Works for ANZ: “I’ve only heard it second hand. The guy next to me got a text about it from his daughter. I feel sorry for the guy who was bullied” Grant Gebbie, (39), Tattooist, Newlands: “It was awesome that they got fired. Willy Moon talks about originality but I’ve seen a video that compares one of songs to an older music video and everything he does is exactly the same as the guy in the video.” Sophia Gilberd, (18), Burger King employee, Paraparaumu, right: “I can’t imagine treating anyone like that in real life let alone on national tv.” Tyla-Lee Nelson, (18), Weltech student, Lower Hutt: “It was really rude and really uncalled for. It was possibly planned and could’ve been a publicity stunt.” Casey Mackintosh, (19), dispensary technician at Unichem Pharmacy, Newtown, left: “It’s a good thing that they got fired. The look comparison she used was ridiculous. Heaps of people have that haircut.” Oscar Jones, (18), Wellington, student/barista: “Quite well justified to be honest, I really dislike Natalia Kills and Willy Moon they’re crap artists.” Jonty Dine, (20), Wellington, student, right: “Well I think it is the right decision that they got fired. I think its appalling the way they acted particularly Natalia. And it just sets a terrible example for young New Zealander’s, it perpetuates bullying which isn’t a good look at all.” Evan Martin, (30), policy analyst: “I thought it was some harsh criticism and the right decision was made in the end.” Lucy McMaster, (20), student, left: “It’s just a terrible cycle” Tara Rudge, (19), student: “I thought it was terrible and uncalled for. I think the right decision was made but I don’t think it would have happened without a petition.” Daniel Woods, (21), musician: “I think it was a set up. I think Willy Moon and Natalia Kills were bound by a contract and the only way to break it was to get fired.” Tessa Stott, (14), student, “I thought it was terrible.” The NewsWire team was: Emma Moody, Colin Engelbrecht, James Lobban, Aidan Jones, Jade Maisey, Arana Kenny, Te Huia Moke, Araina Khonthothong, Bree Honores.  

      • Chef, foodie, writer: David Burton
        • 17 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • “If I came to your house for dinner an hour late, then criticized all your furniture and your wife’s haircut and said all your opinions were stupid, how would you feel? People still come here and expect a three-course meal in an hour. What do they think I do – pull rabbits out of a [expletive deleted] hat? I’m not a magician.” – Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s in London. Food critics are sometimes perceived as the pantomime villains of the food industry, and captured just so in movies like Anton Ego in Ratatouille and Ramsey Michel in Chef.  Along comes the nasty reviewer, ready to pounce and make or break an establishment purely with their words. What could be better than going from restaurant to restaurant, eating exquisite food with friends, and then writing about it?  Being a restaurant reviewer has to be one of the most glamorous jobs in the world.  You dine for free at the best places in town, and restaurateurs and chefs fawn over you.  Right? IMAGE: Matthew Lau Wellington’s most prominent food writer is David Burton, who has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Burton gives me an hour of his time at Le Cordon Bleu – where he lectures part-time – for an insight into the life of a restaurant critic.  We locate ourselves in a cold, well-lit room with just a table separating us.  Burton sits at ease in his blue pinstripe Le Cordon Bleu suit, ready for Christmas drinks with colleagues.  I feel like Michael Aspel presenting This Is Your Life, crossed with an interrogator. Burton duly obliged when I pitched this article to him, it’s time to find out if he follows the same narcissistic protocol as venerated British critic A.A. Gill. Burton stands proud as the capital’s most revered food writer after being rescued from law school.  After the first year he realised he was doing it “just to please his mother”, so instead he took up sociology at the University of Canterbury.  After graduating, his next step was an unorthodox one – he turned to cooking. “I haven’t used that degree directly until I came here [Le Cordon Bleu]. You don’t know do you, when things are going to be proved useful to you.” I ask Burton who his biggest inspiration is – without any hesitation he replies: “undoubtedly my father”, who died when David was only 9. “As a boy I used to hang out in his cook shop in Nelson, watch suckling pigs being plunged into corkings of boiling water. I used to run errands for him, crack walnuts for him that sort of thing.” His father left behind his legacy in the form of cookbooks, which definitely became a major influence for David. With no formal culinary training, Burton embarked on his love-affair with food at a coffee house in Nelson, starting as a kitchen hand then worked his way onto the grill section.  After four and a half years he took a leap of faith, moving to Wellington to work at The Hotel Midland. Burton enjoys the reminiscing: “The cook was gay and all the kitchen-hands were transvestites. Waitresses had tattoos on their wrists, panels of cut up hair on each side. They would sit on my lap at mid-morning tea-time; no girl at university had ever done that!” Burton’s passion for writing was as pervasive back then as it is now.  He used cooking as a means of making a living in London where he continued working as a chef.  It was around that time when he had an epiphany to write a book on New Zealand food and cookery, because at that stage it hadn’t been done.  That idea later came to fruition as it became his first book. “Entering that whole of world professional cookery, it just seemed so glamourous. I decided that cooking was just too stressful, especially during service. It’s just pandemonium.” After ditching the commercial kitchen lifestyle, he spent the better part of a year travelling across Europe and Asia in ‘76.  That had a profound influence on him too – it was there where he discovered “the cooking of the East”. Back in New Zealand, he took up a “cushy little job” as a press officer for the tourism department and foreign affairs, his main role was escorting prime journalists around New Zealand.  He used that experience of working to get into The Evening Post newspaper. He had no formal journalism training: “I got in through the side-door again,” he laughs.  Something he reckons you could do back then but would be a lot harder to do nowadays. As a foodie in Wellington over the past few decades, Burton reflects on the major trend changes in the food scene: “It has been an exciting time alright, to have been involved with food these last 30 years, because it has been such a revolution y’know. A progression from quite basic cooking to extremely sophisticated world-class cooking which we now enjoy here.” He uses Chinese food as an example. “Really back then those so-called Chinese restaurants, they were really just an amalgam of Cantonese Kiwi-thrifted sludge. They presented the very attenuated version of Chinese cooking, and really one of the great things that has come out of so much immigration is that today we are able to get authentic regional Chinese food.” Now for the question most food critics abhor: “What is the best meal you have ever had?”  I just had to ask. Perhaps I caught him off guard a little, as he umm’d and ahh’d, eyes peering around the plain white room for almost an entire minute.  Eventually chuckling: “There have been a lot of memorable meals.” “White House in Oriental Bay, the degustation they used to put on showcased wonderfully inventive stuff that Paul Hoather used to come up with. I had a fantastic meal at Le Moulin de Mougin (a 3-star Michelin restaurant in south of France). Fish wrapped in basil leaf, that was fabulous. Olives cured in sugar rather than salt, very interesting. Mussels with passion fruit would be one of the craziest ideas. Alligator with Blue Curaçao and polenta, that’s pretty rare. The zaniest was molecular gastronomy in Spain.  Things like a bowl of pebbles, some of them were in fact potatoes which had been coated with a thin layer of pharmaceutical enamel clay to look like stones.” A conference called Madrid Fusion is one experience Burton gleefully recalls.  Namely a laboratory which was set up in the foyer of the casino by Ferran Adrià – the mastermind behind the world-famous El Bulli: “He [Adrià] had one of his assistants stand there behind his big stainless-steel container with dry-ice smoking out of it. She fished inside and gave me this little white wafer which was fizzing around on a spoon. She said ‘now don’t put it in your mouth straight away’, but being the impulsive person I am, I did put it in my mouth straight away and it stuck to the top of my palate because it was dry ice. And then suddenly there was this explosion, ‘poof!’, and I had this really brief but intense flavour of hazelnut and then when I breathed out I breathed these plooms of vapour out of my nostril. The name of the dish indeed was ‘Dragon Puff’.” The pinnacle restaurant guide in the world is the Michelin guide, which Burton begrudgingly asserts New Zealand does not have the resources to compare with: “Judgments are made more perhaps from a snapshot from a single evening, I feel like that as a restaurant critic as well. I’ve only got one opportunity, whereas someone from say the New York Times might go three or four times to the same restaurant before they write the review. But I still don’t think there are that many places that get left out or get a hat [from the Cuisine Good Food guide] when they don’t deserve one – because they are very sparing, let’s face it, about who they give them to.” For the cynical reader, an easy axe to grind with restaurant critics is to claim that they show favouritism towards certain establishments, acting as unofficial PR.  As a writer, his loyalty lies with the consumer, not the restaurant.  Burton nonchalantly brushes off any suggestion that he’s one of those dodgy critics. He states his criteria for selecting a place to review: 1. Newsworthiness; 2. Word of mouth; 3. If it has been in business for a while and is “worthy of another peek”; 4. New head chef with a new menu; 5. Undergone renovation; 6. It has been three years or so since last review; 7. Any new opening “because that’s what interests people most”. “I always take a pen and paper, if there’s something really important I’ll take note. But more importantly I take photographs. Photographs give you what you need to know and also allow you to you recall particular components on a plate.” Steve Logan (Logan Brown and Grills Meats Beer) recalls Burton’s review of Logan’s first restaurant in 1988 – and still remembers him remarking about an avocado that was a little on the brown side.  Logan shared his thoughts: “David Burton is an expert. He cooks, he travels, he researches, he writes. His opinion should be taken. We pretty much ignore the positive reviews, it’s the negative reviews we always learn something from. No matter what there is something we could have done better or changed. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone reviewing online or if it’s someone who writes reviews for a living, there’s always something to learn from it. Some customers come in wanting to see a Toyota, but we’re a Mercedes.” As a restaurant critic, Burton remains strict on never ordering specials, just purely off the current menu.  He is always vigilant of the wider scheme of things. “Okay they might be able to pick out a slightly better steak but they can’t change the repertoire. Yes they might give you better service but I always monitor what’s going on at the tables around me, so if they give me an amuse-bouche and they don’t bring the others an amuse-bouche then I’ll note that.” As an owner and chef, Adam Newell (Zibibbo) doesn’t believe you can lift your game from mediocre to amazing for one person. “Whenever he has come here it has been relatively busy, we’ve got 80 or 100 people in the restaurant – there is no way you can provide that service just for that one guy. The rest of it will just turn to chaos. He’s in the room, he’s all part of what goes on, but we know he’s there, if you know what I mean,” Newell chuckled. Being recognised is a major hurdle for renowned food critics to overcome. “You’ll be surprised at how often I’m not recognised, there’s a lot of ethnic restaurants that don’t even know the existence of David Burton,” says the man himself. Some critics go that extra mile, like famous American critic Ruth Reichl who adopts the guise of a series of eccentric personalities when she dines out to avoid any ‘special treatment’.  Burton, however, doesn’t feel the need to go to those lengths. “I know if they know me. I’ve always had this dual role as both a restaurant critic and a food feature writer. So often I have interviewed these chefs in my role as a food feature writer, of course I’ve built up a relationship with them. So I’m not going to insult them by booking under a false name, I usually book under my own name when I know they know me.” A prime example is in his recent appraisal of The Bresolin. Burton recounted the experience in his Dominion Post review:   CREDIT: Stuff.co.nz Geoff Ngan (Shed 5 and The Crab Shack) is adamant that being recognised does impact the level of service provided: “Regular customers are going to receive what is perceived as ‘honest’ treatment, the same treatment that probably wouldn’t be dished out to a renowned and recognised food critic. So if anything you could almost say that some of those reviews are more reliable to a degree.” Publications in Wellington usually pay a restaurant reviewer to dine for two. The usual suspects found eating out with David is his wife of 24 years, a close friend, or his brother whose judgment David respects.  While he does set out to enjoy dining out, he remains professional on the job: “You are there to look at the food, not just to have a good time. Give them the respect of giving your full attention to the food that’s on the plate in front of you, the service and ambience.” The skeptic in me ponders Burton’s integrity.  Not because I think he’s untrustworthy, but because he’s simply human, like you and me.  Burton states he always tries to remain neutral: “As much as I feel a natural affinity with chefs, I kind of also have to keep a distance a little bit, unfortunately. I’ve got really good friends that are ex-restaurateurs and ex-chefs. If you’ve had a run-in with somebody, I try not to let that influence me when I subsequently go to review their next restaurant.” Critics making enemies is hardly a surprise as it comes with the territory of the business.  For a critic to have any credibility, they must be honest and unafraid of offending anybody in the process. On my quest of finding noteworthy figureheads of Wellington’s restaurant scene prepared to talk about Burton, I had three restaurant owners (who I shall not name) refuse to speak with me what is a touchy subject in the industry. Burton laid down a challenge to me: “Go out there and find someone who thinks I’m an absolute [expletive deleted]!” Challenge accepted!  I managed to connect with a mysterious individual who goes by the pseudonym of ‘The Masked Barfly’, revealing nothing about their self other than the fact that he or she writes opinion and gossip pieces for The Wellingtonista website and Twitter.  The Masked Barfly uses this platform to critique the critic. “His reviews when he focuses on the food itself are generally fine, but so often he doesn’t. Reviews are more about David Burton than food,” the bold Masked Barfly said. “His writing style is incredibly pretentious, that’s one of the things I have rated him on before when I have reviewed his reviews. Everyone I know laughs at David Burton’s reviews. I thought it was time to finally write some of it down. We only have one daily paper and they only have one main critic. He needs some accountability So it’s better to treat his reviews as Performance Art. And perhaps our reactions are part of that art. It’s using big words for the sake of pretension, condescending to the reader, making out that you know more about everything than anyone.” The relationship between The Masked Barfly and David Burton almost mirrors that of The Joker and Batman: “If David Burton went, what would I write about? But yes, it would be great if someone other than an old white man got some more free feeds.” WINDOW DRESSING: An example of a David Burton review stuck on a window of a restaurant in Wellington as promotion. On the contrary, restaurant and café owners take pride in receiving positives enlightenment from a critic of the calibre of Burton.  If you take a wander around Wellington, you will see newspaper snippets of his reviews with a headshot of him plastered on their windows for passersby to gawp at and be lured in by. “You can support chefs who are perhaps struggling, they haven’t got the recognition that they deserve. So I always think that is the other side of it. I have chefs come up to me and say well thanks very much for that review, you really helped us. We had a noticeable improvement in our numbers after your review was published,” Burton says with pride. Is the need for expert food critics dying out?  Burton is certainly worried for his line of profession: “You can’t control the way things go, but I’m a bit concerned that there’s so much wall-to-wall food shows, cooking shows, blogs etc. There’s so much inundation through the various forms of media about food these days that people are going to get sick of it. If it wasn’t so completely saturated then maybe there isn’t that danger, but I think it is going to happen. It happened to gardening, you look at gardening in the 1990’s it was huge. There were gardening shows and then suddenly people just lost interest. Now there are no more gardening shows on TV,” he chuckles. Citizen journalism has spread into the reviewing market, meaning a restaurant review in a newspaper or magazine doesn’t have the same clout that it used to.  Reviews are submitted on sites such as Zomato, DineOut, and TripAdvisor by members of the public. President of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, Mike Egan, gives his two cents: “Are you going to remember a review from 40 weeks ago in the Dom Post? Did you keep the newspaper? Did you cut the review out? So these days if people want to look for something they just go to Google, TripAdvisor, ask friends, go on Facebook.” When a bunch of ordinary diners review in mass, does this give a potential diner a more succinct overview than one review from one well-travelled and well-dined critic? “David is important, we don’t want anyone else, because he knows what he is talking about. He lives and breathes the industry, but his influence is less than it used to be,” Egan says. ON SHOW: A Burton review as a window promotion. Burton, unlike many food writers, has donned the chef whites and apron in a commercial kitchen.  Do you have to have a chef’s background to know nasty from nice?  Not all art critics can paint, once in a blue moon would you come across a film critic who has ever directed a movie. “I certainly am very pleased that I have actually worn the jacket and stood on the other side of the pass, and that I can chop an onion, can make a hollandaise. So I can just shrug my shoulders when someone writes to the papers and says ‘what are his credentials?’” Paul Hoather (Charley Noble and Whitebait) is satisfied with the reviews Burton has given him over his 30 years in the restaurant business. “I can’t stand the online reviews, you don’t know who it is. Like with restaurants, anybody can say anything they like these days, whereas other industries they don’t review the hairdresser who cut their hair or the shoe shop they bought their pair of shoes,” was Hoather’s blunt take on the trend. The world of cookery in the public has never been more prominent.  More and more people know, or want to know, how to cook.  We have celebrity chefs on our screens, reality TV shows now use cooking as a means of entertainment, but Burton is not impressed. “Winning Masterchef does not make you a ‘master chef’. You have to spend years in a kitchen before you can even you’re qualified, and you certainly don’t have the experience as the result of having won a cooking show on TV. I see it as a false status in a lot of ways.” The 62-year-old describes himself as “old-school”; he reads material on the internet but is not actively involved with social-media.  He doesn’t have a blog, firmly stating: “My attitude is ‘til somebody is to pay me to run a blog I won’t do so’.” A typical week for Wellington’s most eminent food writer involves lecturing at Le Cordon Bleu two or three days a week, and the rest of the time at home writing features for Cuisine magazine or writing reviews for both Cuisine and The Dominion Post.  Burton boasts about doing 95% of the cooking in his household. “My daughter had to do a little project on me for her arts school in Auckland – one of the things she wrote is ‘opinionated’, and a nice thing she wrote is ‘likes to cook’. Going back to this question of credibility, I think that if you want to write about food you have got to be able to cook, even as an amateur.” Burton believes his great interest in architecture and design works well with being a restaurant critic.  While he avoided a lifetime of being a “wealthy, unfulfilled, grumpy lawyer”, he can at least I can say he’s had “a rich old life in a cultural sense”. Burton comes across as a regular man, not a pantomime villain we should hiss at. He eats at the same restaurants you or I dine at. Watch Anton Ego in Ratatouille and Ramsey Michel in Chef, and you will notice that in the end they, too, were just normal people having a meal out – only with a pen in their hand. “Sir, I am seated in the smallest room in the house. Your review is before me. Shortly it will be behind me.” – German composer Max Reger responding to a critic. (Dukore, 1994)

      • Meet the people who find joy in a YMCA dance, or a clap of hands
        • 16 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • POSITIVE EFFECTS: Kathy Lyall says teaching art to adults with special needs has taught her to appreciate the small things in life. IMAGE: Hayley Gastmeier ALEX ANDERSON was waiting in a bank queue to get money when his client broke out into YMCA, singing and dancing the classic 80s song. Everyone just turned to look at the man, who was having a great time, and started sniggering and whispering. “I couldn’t burst out and shout at everyone so I just started dancing too,” Alex recalls. Alex says most of his clients do not conform to social rules and conventions but he appreciates that is what makes them unique. Alex has been a community support worker for four years in both Wellington and in the United Kingdom. His clients are adults 18-years and older, some at retirement age, and his job entails teaching and mentoring, caring and support, communicator, chauffer and cook. He picks up clients from their homes each day and brings them to the vocational centre where their days consist of a variety of activities like swimming, art, drama and day trips. Alex had never interacted with disabled people until he accidently got into the line of work and found he enjoyed how interesting and different everyone was. “It’s amazing the way they see the world and how they’ll accept anybody. “They don’t have any hate or jealousy, most of them just like you for who you are.” Although Alex enjoys the job which pushes him outside his comfort zone, many issues arise while he and other carers are out with their clients. Some venues do not have wheelchair access and some places, like the cinema, are too expensive to visit as both the client and carer must pay admission. While swimming pools generously allow Alex and his clients free entrance, the bus services charge full price. Alex says it would be good if buses could do a “free companion thing” so they could use public transport more often, which gets his clients interacting with the community. “It gives a sense of achievement to our guys to go on the bus and they love it.” He says most of his clients have learning and physical disabilities so getting them to quickly find a seat and sit down on the bus can be difficult. Often the bus will speed off, leaving Alex struggling to catch his clients who are tumbling in the isles. But he says some bus drivers are fantastic, as are many people they meet on the street. Some will open doors and others will engage in conversation with the clients. Alex says his clients enjoy talking with members of the public, and they happily talk about it when they get home. “The other day I took one of my guys for a haircut, and he’s quite noticeably loud, and one guy asked if it was my job to care for him. “I said ‘yes’. “He said, ‘you’re very good. You do God’s work’. “They’ve faced challenges in their lives that you can’t even imagine. “Getting up in the morning for some of them is difficult enough, let alone discrimination from the general public. “So yes it’s challenging, and sometimes heart breaking.” Art is often used as creative therapy for individuals, and for the past six years Kathy Lyall has been tutoring art to people with special needs in the Wellington region. Her interest in working within the sector was sparked while she was an art student attending work experience at a creative space in Wellington. “I loved what I did, to be able to empower and enrich people’s lives and teach them new skills. “And it’s not only about us teaching them, it’s what they can teach us.” Kathy’s clients range from 20 to over 60-years-old and they all have a unique art style. She enjoys the variety of people she meets and seeing the talents they express. “If you can put a smile on someone’s face by teaching them a new skill, and they can see the outcome and they’re so thrilled and excited, it makes your day.” The community support worker says in her line of work both staff and clients deal with an array of challenges. Communication can be an issue because some of her clients have hearing impairments or do not speak. Others may have mobility issues, so going on outings always takes logistical planning. “We have to look at things very objectively and creatively.” Kathy admits at times the behaviour of her clients can be testing, but as a rule they are affectionate and lovable. One client calls Kathy “mummy” despite being 10 years older than her. “They’re very humorous many of them, they’re very loving. They make you smile and they make you laugh.” Kathy says art can develop independence. She says in care situations if everything is done for them it takes their independence. “We give them the opportunity to push their own boundaries. “And teach them life skills, encouraging them to become more independent, even if it’s just making a cup of tea.” One of the aims of the vocational centre is to help clients build up community connections by getting them out and integrating them into the community. Kathy has noticed that many people do not know how to behave around, or address, her clients when they are out and about. “People are socially becoming more accepting, but we have experienced odd looks, and people trying to talk to our clients through us without asking our clients directly. “And then we get looks of pity too. “But they’re having a great time. I have empathy, but not pity.” At work Kathy says working in the environment has had a positive effect on her own life. “I look at life with a different point of view, realising it’s the small things in life that make you happy.” Small milestons, like their daughter clapping hands, are also what make Evelyn and Hayden Guy smile. Four-year-old Ava Guy is one of 60 New Zealanders who has been diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. ALL SMILES: The Guy family does not let Ava’s disability hold them back from having a good time. (From left) Nikita, 3, Evelyn and Ava, 4. IMAGE: Hayley Gastmeier The syndrome, which affects almost exclusively females, becomes apparent after normal early development starts to deteriorate. Evelyn says she and Hayden noticed a few things slightly different about their daughter from birth and had her tested for the syndrome after researching it. She says they were initially “heartbroken” when the results confirmed Ava had the syndrome but have since taken on a more positive outlook. “All we wanted was a happy healthy girl and that’s what we got.” The Wainuiomata family has found support in other families living with the syndrome and they have built strong relationships with a group who all have girls with it who are the same age as Ava. “We’re all sort of blessed with this uniqueness because the girls all have a very lovely temperament.” Having Rett syndrome means Ava cannot walk or crawl, she has lost her ability to speak, her brain development has slowed down and she experiences seizures. Evelyn says one of the biggest differences between Ava and her little sister Nikita, three, is that Nikita is becoming more self-sufficient while Ava is travelling in the opposite direction. “Nikita opens the car door and climbs in by herself, she gets herself dressed in the mornings, climbs in and out of the bath and goes to the toilet by herself. “Whereas Ava doesn’t, and as she is getting bigger, even changing nappies isn’t as easy as it was.” Before the couple had a wheelchair for Ava they would push her around in a pram. Evelyn remembers getting some “really bad looks” because Nikita was two and walking and Ava was three and still in a buggy. Perfect strangers “thinking they know better” have shared their thoughts and even people that know the family will sometimes make comments like, “oh! She still has a bottle?” “If you have a child that’s special needs you have to do what you have to do to get through.” Evelyn says she and her partner see it as a “bonus” that they will have their daughter living with them for life but acknowledge there will be challenges. She sometimes gets the impression that people think Ava is “easy”, and says they are not aware that there is a whole other side to their lives, as Ava is generally taken out and socialised when she is in a happy, settled mood. “We kind of shelter the world from some of our reality. “Ava can go from a zero to a 10 very quickly. She goes from being very happy to quite distraught in seconds.” Evelyn says although there is education out there about disabilities it is hard for those without “it in their own back yard” to understand. Ava is described by her mother as a smiley and social child who is loved and adored by everyone. “Having Ava has made me a lot more thankful, and I really enjoy those milestones. “They might be tiny, like her clapping her hands, but they’re huge to us and it’s about being able to appreciate that and enjoy it.” LOVED AND ADORED: Ava Guy, 4, wins over everyone she meets with her smiley personality. IMAGE: Hayley Gastmeier

      • WATCH: Ceramic artist Nicola Dench opens doors to her studio
        • 16 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • MIRAMAR PENINSULA artists opened their studios for the annual Artists in Action event in March. The peninsula is home to 17 artists from photographers, sculptures and oil painters. Award-winning ceramic artist Nicola Dench opened her Clay Penguin studio in Seatoun six years ago and finds her inspiration from walking on the beach. “For ages I’ve been walking down on the beach and I come across this seaweed. It’s quite amazing how it has all these sorts of ruffles,” she says. She learnt her skills at the Learning Connexion Art School 11 years ago, starting as a painter and moving to ceramics. Len Castle is one artist who inspires Mrs Dench. She has been making the Dominion Post Sports Person of the Year award trophy’s for four years.

      • Māori students still struggling with stereotypes, racism
        • 16 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: Teachers in New Zealand are still underestimating Maori pupils’ potential at school. IMAGE: Tess Nichol ENCOURAGING a struggling Māori student to succeed could begin with teachers simply learning how to pronounce their name right. Tehani Buchanan, a recent teaching graduate, says many trainee teachers lack the confidence and initiative to apply Māori teaching principles. “When a lot of people are learning Māori pedagogy they don’t understand how to incorporate that into their teaching,” says Ms Buchanan (Ngati Rupe Makea). “But at its simplest it’s about learning someone’s name and pronouncing their name right.” She says improving knowledge around Māori teaching values could help address the gap between Māori and Pakeha success. The number of Māori students passing NCEA at all levels has steadily increased since 2009, but the achievement gap between Māori and Pakeha is still worryingly wide. The reasons behind the achievement gap are complex and deeply rooted in New Zealand’s colonial history, says Massey University lecturer Veronica Tawhai (Ngāti Porou and Uepohatu). “The curriculum is yet to fully acknowledge or value the Māori world, and that is that there are Māori knowledges, Māori practices, that there are Māori ways of doing things, Māori sciences, within the world.” “There is a huge ignorance across the country as to Māori knowledges in that the majority of people that I meet do not know that they exist,” she says. “I’m not blaming New Zealanders for that ignorance because we have had an entire history of colonisation that has tried to kill those knowledges off. It’s really that simple.” Ms Tawhai says the devaluing of Māori knowledges and values feeds into teachers’ racist ideas about what Māori have to offer and what Māori students are capable of achieving. “Māori children still largely have a stigma attached to them that they are less able, less likely to achieve.” She says teachers’ lowered expectations create a self-fulfilling prophecy for Māori students. “When you’re five years old or even 15 years old, you know whether or not your teacher likes you, let alone has faith in you.” “If teachers think you’re going to do terribly, nine times out of ten you are.” Ms Tawhai cites a now-defunct government programme, Te Kotahitanga, which worked with teachers to raise their expectations for Māori students. “Māori student achievement skyrocketed. And the really disturbing thing about that is that these are the same kids,” she says. “The only thing that has changed is the attitude of the teacher and so the decades that we have had of Māori students’ underachievement that points directly to the fact that teachers in New Zealand still have really racist stereotypes as to the level to which Māori students can achieve.” The Ministry of Education stopped funding Te Kotahitanga in 2013, despite the programme’s success. Another government strategy, Ka Hikitia- Managing for Success, which aims to realise Māori students’ potential, is still in operation. “Ka Hikitia is about Māori students succeeding as Māori. That means that they feel comfortable with Māori language, that they feel comfortable with their history and their tikanga,” says former NZEI president Liz Patara (Te Arawa- Ngati Whakaue Ngati Uenukukopako). “You’ve got to really think how does their culture and their language impact on teaching mathematics, or how does it impact on me teaching science,” she says. Established in 2008, Ka Hikitia has been updated for the 2013- 2017 period with a greater focus on “educationally powerful” partnerships. The strategy’s latest performance audit report was released by the Office of the Auditor General at the end of February this year. The report gives an overview of the relationships between schools and whānau as well as providing examples of practices that build effective relationships. “Our report provides an opportunity for people to think about their schools and their relationships, to understand the differences between schools, and to work to build and use relationships more effectively,” says Auditor General Lyn Provost. The results show an imbalance in how relationships are perceived. Ninety per cent of schools surveyed said they felt they had an effective relationship with whānau, but only sixty six percent of whānau surveyed agreed that their child’s school has an effective relationship with its Māori students and their whānau. The percentage dropped further for high decile schools and schools with a low proportion of Māori students. Ms Tawhai says teachers and other staff members need to remember that older Māori can be distrustful of mainstream schools after their own experiences as students. “The parents might be hostile, well yeah if you look into our history you can maybe understand why they’re a bit hostile.” “All our parents’ generation did whatever they could to get out of school as fast as they could because these were the days when you could still strap children.” Ms Tawhai says she thinks using different models of teaching could help improve not only Māori, but all students’ achievement rates. “There is a Māori education framework called Te Ahu Matua, it’s what currently operates in Kura Kaupapa and Kōhanga Reo.” “The first principal is that in the Te Ahu Matua framework it is recognised that the child is not just a physical body, they are a soul, they are a spirit and in order for that child to properly learn that child needs to be nourished and cherished.” Ms Buchanan, who attended Manukura, an alternative school based on socially responsible teaching practice and Māori values, says the mainstream education system could do more to align itself with Māori teaching values. “We have a really general way of teaching our kids which doesn’t celebrate their strengths.” She says teachers need to connect with their students as people. “You have to take in the whole being of the person before the education will happen.” “It’s not enough to go in and teach, you need to get to know these kids. Basically give a shit about them.” Ms Buchanan says people training to be teachers are not encouraged to meaningfully embrace Māori values in their teaching. “People do the bare minimum at teacher’s college, it’s not on anyone’s priority list.” She says improving teachers’ knowledge around Māori teaching values is important because education can be a huge vehicle for social change. “The statistics say it all. Māori and Pasifika are at the bottom. The education system is a huge determinant of our people today.”

      • Fort Ballance: An historical enigma
        • 16 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • A MAZE of concrete tunnels and gun pits blend into the hillside, overgrown and rugged, a perfect canvas. Fort Ballance no longer accommodates soldiers and gun turrets. It has evolved into a space where spray cans are the weapon of choice and photographers strive to capture its rawness. Lying dormant for more than 60 years amongst the hills of Wellington’s Miramar Peninsula, the fort has degraded. However time has been a curious ally for the Army base which is now a relic appreciated not only by historians but artists and explorers as well. Built in the late 1800’s as a coastal defence against a Russian invasion, Fort Ballance was shut down in 1945 and it has since become something entirely different. If you already know about the place then you are one of the lucky ones, for it is not easily found without direction. Retracing my steps As I arrive at the Fort Ballance turn off, there are no cars in sight and the sun, barely visible behind rain clouds, is descending. I park my van at the bottom of the track and start to walk up the hill, armed with a torch, a pen and a notepad. A beaten up sign on the right warns off trespassers: “NO ADMITTANCE EXCEPT ON BUSINESS.” I carry on anyway. The concrete path, just wide enough for one vehicle, is in good condition with only a few cracks and potholes. Low shrubs and native bush run along side the track as it bends up and around the hill. At the top the wind returns with a vengeance. The main section of the fort is in view. I hurry towards it seeking shelter, brushing past tall weeds in the front courtyard, overgrown and sprouting yellow flowers. The entrance to the right is nearly two metres wide and three high, and large cracks spread across the concrete like lightning. IMAGES: SIMON BURROW/DARKHALIDE Inside, the corridor is well lit and an old fireplace lies dormant and crumbling near the entrance. This used to be the barracks and the fireplaces situated at opposite ends of the room, would have once kept soldiers warm. The walls, like the outside, are covered in graffiti and empty spray cans are scattered on the floor along with old fireworks and broken glass. Musket slots large, enough to fit your hand through, run along the side of the wall facing south-west, if the artillery guns failed then this was the last line of defense. At the time it was built, the army was equally intent on fending off potential attacks from renegade Maori groups as well as Russian invaders. It’s no surprise that many who visit are un-aware of its history, this place has become a playground for the venturous and only remnants of its heyday remain. History For local historian Alan Jenkins, the site has historical value beyond measure. “Those buildings have watched our country change,” he muses, during an interview inside his cluttered camera shop in Miramar, named Big Al’s. “From the end of the Russian scare to the first and second world war, it was used as a military camp. Photo supplied by Alan Jenkins “It was also used as a training camp for the Vietnam War and is to this day still being used by the SAS. “It’s absolutely drenched in history,” he says, leaning back on a torn armchair. Big Al used to be the president of the Moa Point & Breaker Bay Residents Association and when there was talk of a housing development on the land he fought to ensure it did not happen. “We said ‘enough, this area should be protected and should anyone decide to do any fly-by-night developments then we will be asking the Resource Management Act to hear it in court’.” He is adamant that Fort Ballance should be converted into a historical park and officially opened to the public. Photo supplied by Alan Jenkins “It’s important for New Zealand as a nation that is trying to find its identity to preserve our historical sites.” He refers to its neighbor, Fort Dorset as a prime example of what should be done. “Wellington City Council did a wonderful job in developing Fort Dorset. “They’ve cleared away bush so you can see the site, they’ve put up interpretive signage and have opened up the tracks. “That’s an absolute blueprint for what they should do with Fort Ballance.” Asked for his opinion on its use as a canvas by graffiti artists and taggers, he grins: “The graffiti is getting to a point where it could be regarded as historic as the fort.” “However I personally don’t like it for a number of reasons. “The buildings should be treated with respect because they have seen New Zealand grow from being a colonial outpost of Great Britain to becoming its own nation.” “Its not the taggers fault though, they don’t understand the history behind it.” Creative Wellington photographer, Simon Burrow understands why Fort Ballance was built but he also appreciates what it has become.  “There’s a whole sense of history there but with a modern take by the graffiti artists and other creative types using it,” he says. There’s no doubt that the fort is well over due for some TLC, however for Simon its decrepit features are part of the appeal. “As a photographer that’s what I look for, the decay, the change of state.” Simon first became aware of Fort Balance 10 years ago staring out the window of a plane, heading south. “I was looking down going ‘what’s this’.” “A couple months later I drove around the coast with a friend and tried to find it.” Eventually they did and Simon has been going back ever since to document it and play around with new camera techniques. In contrast to his first visit, he has become less intimidated by the prospect of trespassing on military land. “The first time it definitely felt like we shouldn’t have been there but I suppose that was part of the thrill,” he grins. “However it seems to have calmed down quite a lot since then.” He also points to a number of ways the site has been used over the years, engagement photo shoots, punk gigs, parkour and movie nights in the tunnels. Here’s an excerpt from a write up about one of the gigs, published online at Up the Punks Wellington: “There we were on February 22, 2014 at the Scorching Bay bunkers overlooking the firing zone of inner Wellington harbour with the sun on our face and wine bladders in hand ready to rock out to High Risk Maneuver, Awkward Death, The JOHOs and Numbskull with a random appearance by travelling minstrels Possum on the Rails. All of which begged the question: with fuck all places left to play in town why don’t we do this more often?” Why indeed? There is potential to use the site in so many ways. I can imagine converting it into a skate park with a series of snake runs and bowl sections flowing in and out of the buildings. One of Simon’s fondest memories is taking his kids up there and seeing it through their eyes. “They were blown away after I told them it was over a hundred years old. “I even gave them a stripped down history version, although they don’t quite understand war yet. “After the shock wore off, they started using it in a utilitarian way. “I watched them start exploring the site, jumping off everything and finding new tunnels.” We both agree that the potential to explore is what draws many people to the site. “There’s always something around the next corner.” Retracing my steps Back out into the open and the low hanging sun reveals one of the empty gun pits and a few rusty paint cans discarded in the nearby flax bushes. An artillery gun was strategically positioned here so its operators could have a clear shot of any Russian warships that ventured inside the harbor. It turns out no shots were ever fired, however there were a number of times when ships were spotted. Big Al recounts the tale of the Japanese who were able to sail a submarine in and out of the harbor, because no one was game to fire up it. There’s a ladder nearby, and it leads me higher up. From the top there is a 270-degree view of Wellington Harbour and in the distance headlights float along State Highway 1. The ocean is rough and white capping. Unfazed, the Interislander plows straight through it, heading for open sea. The next bay over is protected from the southerly and the surface is almost glassy. There is a mussel farm about 30m out, just within casting range for a lone fisherman parked up on the side of the road. This used to be an important vantage point for Maori long before the Pakeha. They knew that if they controlled that area of Wellington then they could control the trade to the South Island, and that’s where the greenstone was. I decide to carry on exploring, and head back down the ladder.  Another entrance leads to a narrow path with the mouth of a tunnel at the end. Dense weeds require some ducking and swiping, and inside the tunnel I can barely see my hands in front of me. After a while my eyes adjust, picking out a series of corridors on the left and right, devoid of light. I reach for the torch and follow its beam down the right corridor. The walls have less graffiti on them and you can see the original red brick, which Big Al said was sourced at the time from local brick makers, the Tonks Brothers. Other workers and materials used in the construction of the fort have a story as well. Railway track ripped up from the Manawatu Railway runs down the tunnels, and corrugated iron was used for the first time in New Zealand. Prisoners from neighboring Crawford Prison played a part in building Fort Ballance and also lugged guns up the hill and planted pine trees in the area. The Army clearly had budget constraints at the time and was more than happy to take advantage of cheap labour and materials. Moving on into the next room, there is an eerie vibe, as though someone’s watching. I make the call to get the hell out of there and head for the light at the end of the tunnel, footsteps echoing behind. Out in the open again and I can see a little better, despite the dusk. I’m standing in the middle of a huge gun pit, the beast that was the centerpiece of Fort Balance defences, and the walls are covered head to toe in graffiti. There are layers and layers of it, as if there is an on going battle to have the freshest tag. Or maybe it’s an act of respect to paint over some body else’s mark? “Keeping it real, packing steel, getting high.” “All you need is… Love.” Heading back to the gate and feeling like a tomb raider, a torch light cuts the dark near the second gun pit. I call out…no reply… then two figures step out of the tall yellow weeds. “Jesus Christ, where did you come from?” they ask, with what sounds like relief. I introduce myself and ask what they are doing here. “I thought I would show her the place but it’s been a little spooky,” the man says. “Yeah, this is like something out of a movie,” she agrees. I ask the young couple if they want to come and check out one of the rooms on the lower levels of the fort and surprisingly they agree. On the way, we swap stories and discuss the nature of the place. The man tells how he used to come up here when he was 18 with his friends for midnight walks. As we come around a bend in the dirt track, the entrance to a tunnel on the western side of the fort comes into view. Inside it is wide enough to walk in single file and leading the way I come to a bend and point out a message on the wall. “You are in my power.” Whoever holds dominion over the place is a mystery and without pausing to consider it, we carry on. The tunnel opens out, revealing a large dark room, so quiet that I can hear the woman next to me breathing. There is an elevated rectangular podium in its center, about a foot off the ground, and stenciled across one of the walls is an army of Stormtroopers. Clearly fewer people are aware of this room, because there isn’t any other graffiti in sight. Either that or people aren’t as willing to venture into it’s depths. Development I wonder whether the Stormtrooper room will be left alone when the fort is finally developed. It was announced back in 2011 by Culture and Heritage Minister, Chris Finlayson and Wellington Mayor Celia-Wade Brown that Fort Ballance among other heritage sites in the area would become part of the Watts Peninsula Reserve.  A decision has been made to develop the former defence land into a historical park, but it is still very much in the planning stages and it could be years before we start seeing any changes. In the meantime I highly recommend visiting the site in its current condition. You will not be disappointed. Retracing my steps Heading back down the hill to the safety of our cars, the moon is up and the road is quiet. Near the bottom, a set of headlights lights up the last stretch of track. As we draw closer a man jumps out of the car with a large set of keys. Perfect timing, we’re about to meet the gatekeeper. He isn’t surprised to see us and I sense that we aren’t in any trouble. He introduces himself as Mark from Simple Security, he’s been doing the round for six months. “It must get a bit spooky up there sometimes,” I say, scrambling for my notebook. “Na, it’s not too creepy as long as you don’t think too hard about it. Although, you wouldn’t want to run into any escaped convicts,” he laughs, referring to the old prison nearby. Mark checks the place every night for vandalism, which he admits is quite hard to spot in the dark. Cutting to the chase, I ask him if he’s seen anything unusual up there, half expecting to hear outlandish tales of strange inhabitants. “The coolest thing I’ve seen is probably young cadets training. “You do get some people sleeping there, but that’s about it.” It turns out that he doesn’t have a problem with people exploring and is pretty laidback about the occasional squatter as well. Thanking him for his time and saying goodbye to my fellow explorers, I jump back in my van, content with just sitting there and reflecting on another memorable experience at Fort Ballance. I doubt its creators would recognize the Fort now. However its degradation has enabled people to use the space creatively and for me that’s a positive. IMAGES: SIMON BURROW/DARKHALIDE 

      • Cricket World Cup fever sweeps schools as NZ makes quarter-finals
        • 15 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • WORLD CUP: Junior Cricket Fun Day co-organisers James Boyle (L) and Andrew Lamb WORLD CUP fever is sweeping through Wellington schools and now aspiring young cricket stars have a chance to pick up a bat and learn the basics at Kelburn Park. School coach, former first class cricketer and Victoria University Cricket Club development officer, Andrew Lamb, is one of the organisers of the junior cricket fun day later this month. “The World Cup is getting a real buzz in the schools. Everybody’s talking about cricket. It’s really growing the game and growing the knowledge of the game,” he says. “Even the little six year olds are learning. School children are getting excited about every single bit of the game right now.” “They’re telling me the scores, they’re telling me about the players and who took the most wickets. They’re all really following it and learning how it works,” he says. Mr Lamb coaches at St. Benedict’s School in Khandallah, Berhampore School and Clifton Terrace Model School in Kelburn. James Boyle, Victoria University Premier Team captain and co-organiser of the event, says that the club is keen to build on the enthusiasm generated by the World Cup. “The cricket world cup is having a very positive impact on cricket in Wellington, but especially amongst juniors,” he says. “Junior cricketers are looking for more opportunities to play and learn the game, and so our club is really keen to offer a new improved standard of junior cricket coaching and organisation to Wellington parents.” The half-day event on Sunday 15th March being organized by the Victoria University Cricket Club is aimed at players aged from five to 13 who want to find out more about the game. “It’s a fun day where we get kids from all over Wellington to try cricket,” says Mr Lamb. There will be stations where juniors can try out batting, bowling and fielding. If age groups allow, there will also be introductory games of no more than fifteen or twenty minutes long. Gear will be provided and plastic bats, stumps and cones are available, but people can bring their own if they prefer. Mr Lamb says that parents are welcome to come to the event, which he hopes will be well attended. The Victoria University of Wellington Cricket Club Junior Cricket Fun Day will be held at Kelburn Park in Salamanca Road on Sunday 15th March from 2-4pm.

      • From the dark to the light
        • 7 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • GONE GOOD: Former Black Power Vice President William Matangi REFORMED GANG member William Henry Matangi III attributes God for bringing him out of the darkness and showing him the light. Will is the former vice president of the Black Power Wellington chapter, wearing his patch for 24 years before leaving the life behind. He has now traded his gang persona for one of a compassionate member of the community. The Aro Valley resident now spends his time encouraging young children to stay away from gang life, coaching Wellington’s homeless soccer team and volunteering at St John’s Presbyterian Church. “I think I’ve done a lot of good things,” he says But when Will hoped to travel to Australia in 2010 with his football team to compete at the Homeless World Cup, his dreams were quickly crushed. “I coached the first Wellington street football team but they wouldn’t let me out of the country. “They said we don’t want him over here.” Will was heartbroken he could not tour but says he understands it is a consequence of his past life. “Fifteen years ago I was an ugly piece of work, I’ve done a lot of bad things in my life.” Will’s journey to becoming the man he is today is shrouded in darkness. “I was born in the dark,” he says. Will grew up in Christchurch with 11 other siblings and returned home one day to find his house was empty. His mother had moved his brothers and sisters to Wellington, leaving the 10-year-old with his abusive alcoholic father. After moving to Picton Will was exposed to gang life for the first time through his father, a high ranking Mongrel Mob member. He started to hang around the older members of the Mongrel Mob because their gang did not have a youth movement at the time. Sick of his father’s beatings, Will jumped on the ferry and headed to the capital where he recalls being among the first “street people” in Wellington. Avalon Studios approached him, wanting the 13 year old homeless boys’ story. “They did a programme on me asking me why I live on the street because there weren’t street kids back then. “I just told them I came home one day and there was nothing,” he says. After being picked up by the police, Will was placed into a boy’s home where his parents found and once again left him. After months of wandering the streets Will bonded with some young Black Power members. He had already been seduced by the life and in 1977 spat in his father’s face by patching into the Mongrel Mob’s most notorious rival gang. Due to Wills’ heritage and propensity for violence he quickly rose through the ranks to become vice president of the Wellington chapter at just 14. “I knew I had power and I knew how to use it,” he says. “I loved the culture of violence because I was super fit and when you are super fit you don’t need to know how to fight.” Will also took to the drug dealing game and was soon reaping the rewards earning money the same way he earned respect – illegally. Will has spent a total of 17 years behind bars where the violence intensified. “I’ve been stabbed up three times in jail, including by my own people.” His final time in prison came after a low point in life. He lost his family, and his girlfriend got a new man. “I was still that ugly person so I smashed him up and that got me arrested,” he says. Will credits his rehabilitation to God and a powerful spiritual experience during his final stint inside. “One night in jail I don’t know why but I couldn’t stop crying, and that’s when God came to me. God only comes to change,” he says. Now 53, Will has also done voluntary work with mental health institutions and has even toured New Zealand with various organisations spreading his message. “The last couple of years I’ve been going to the mental health outreach programme and doing a lot of mentoring work”. Wills’ message to young budding gangsters is simple: Stay away. “I hang with all the young fullas and they all know me, they give me respect.” Will is affectionately known by Wellington youth as “the beloved”. He was 38 when he finally left the gang and 15 years later is still helping deter youth from gang life. “I want the young generation to hear my message,” Will says. Will has been asked to be the subject of a book but has declined, saying his path is still being carved out.          

      • Neither spit nor spare change are what capital beggars really need
        • 7 Mar 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • SPARE CHANGE? A Wellington beggar endures the elements BEGGAR Solomon Thomas is sitting on his regular Wellington street corner when the woman’s spit hits his face. His anger explodes into a punch and tears stream from the woman’s eyes and blood drips from her nose. Not long after Solomon has wiped the phlegm from his face, he is in the back of a police car and is on his way to jail. The assault charge is not his first, and neither is the abuse. “Some of the people walking past look at us like dogs needing to be put down,” Solomon says. You don’t need to walk far down Cuba St or Lambton Quay before the reality of Wellington’s begging community reveals itself. Cardboard signs attempt to pull at heart strings for a quick buck. Many of these people are trapped in an indiscriminate and destructive cycle. It’s a reality that most Wellington citizens can’t see or choose to ignore. Some choose to give them change, but not the kind they need. Mental health issues, drug addiction, convictions and a reliance on prescription medication are just a few of the barriers facing Wellingtons’ street community. They are unable to hold down a job and have to turn to begging or busking (if they happen to have a talent or an instrument) in order to make ends meet and mask their pain with substances. Regularly abused, judged and even spat on – spending your days begging for money comes with a price. “Get a job!”, “xxxx off!” and “scum,” are just a few of the phrases the beggars tell me they deal with on Wellington streets. The smell is the first thing that hits me as I walk into the home of one of these groups to get an insight into the life of the “street society”. Some decline to give their full names. They dig through their mountain of cigarette butts they acquired from the gutters that day and relax with a few bourbons and prescription pills. Piles of mattresses and blankets fill every room in the house. Addiction is apparent with empty bottles and drug bags covering the floor. Dana, a 12-year begging veteran, says she has had mental health issues which have plagued her for a number of years. Her body has developed a dependence on prescription medication. She says the withdrawals are unbearable. “I didn’t choose to get hooked on these pills. I thought the doc would know best.” Her moods are still very unpredictable and she has not applied for a job in nearly a decade. “There’s no point, aye man after seeing and talking to me they don’t want to hire me.” “It’s sad how quickly they judge us instead of wanting to help us,” she says. James, Dana’s partner, is a drug addict who requires $100 daily to feed his methamphetamine habit. James had tried to go to a rehabilitation facility but the cost and wait were unrealistic for him. “They want me to get sober before they offer me help. How am I supposed to do that alone that’s what I need them for,” he recounts with a mix of exasperation and disbelief. William (who does not give his last name) has so many convictions he is condemned to be a beneficiary until he dies. The former Black Power vice president is still haunted by his days as a gangster. With a long history of criminal offending William finds gaining employment impossible. The pattern soon becomes clear as members of the group recount their stories. So what services are available to help these people change their lives for the better. FREE FOOD: The Wellington Free Store There are a number of social initiatives designed to improve the lives of those feeling ill equipped to survive. The Wellington Free Store has been helping feed hungry locals for almost five years thanks to the generosity of local businesses. “We wouldn’t really eat at all if not for the Free Store. Food has never been a priority as an addict,” James says. Kim Patton founded the store in 2010 which was originally on Ghuznee Street, and it has evolved into a sustainable project. The Free Store’s website states: that has redistributed 25,000 food items to 11,000 individuals who have come through the store. Wellington’s daily surplus of food from cafes, restaurants and bakeries is now being used to cater for the portion of our community struggling to meet basic living needs. Benjamin Johnson, the store’s operation’s manager, sees first hand every day the difference the store makes in peoples’ lives. “It’s such a worthwhile service we provide and it is awesome to see how grateful our customers are,” Benjamin says. The store runs out of a renovated shipping container at St Peter’s Church on Willis Street. Benjamin says the container, architectural designs and building work have been donated by local businesses. The store has a variety of food to offer including coffee, bread, fruit and even sushi. Benjamin believes all Wellington citizens deserve fresh quality food and not scraps from the bin. “I love being a part of something that is really helping people,” he says. HELPING HAND: The Suzanne Aubert Compassion Centre   Open Monday- Friday from 6pm until all the food is gone, the free store has no criteria to be met in order to be eligible for free food. About 5.30pm the community gathers outside the church for their fresh food. They share stories of their struggles and discuss the days wheeling and dealing. Another saving grace for James and his friends is The Suzanne  Aubert Compassion Centre which operates out of Tory Street, providing food and social services to those struggling to live within their means. Jessie Dennis is the community engagement advisor for the centre which offers free social work and breakfast, along with a hot meal for only $2. “Choice is relative,” she says. “To dismiss a beggar as lazy or opportunistic is an unfair judgement. “Some drastic measures are needed if we are to make create long term change,” she says. Solomon says he and his friends would be content with better treatment on the streets. “We are still people.” “Treat us like it,” he says.

      • Pannett juggles environment and development
        • 23 Feb 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • IONA PANNETT: City Councillor who cares about the environment. HIGH PROFILE, energetic, outspoken and above all, principled, Wellington City Councillor and mother of two Iona Pannett balances fronting the most challenging development issues facing the city with staying true to her Green values. As chair of the environment committee, Ms Pannett has oversight of the controversial proposal to extend the airport runway and is also dealing with climate change issues. At the same time, she is buildings portfolio leader of the transport and urban development committee, which has oversight of enforcing the earthquake strengthening of at-risk buildings. She is also deputy chair of the district licensing committee, a member of the environmental reference group, the Wellington water committee and others. Her commitment to creating and maintaining a sustainable environment within the framework of a consultative democratic process underpins what she does. Ms Pannett has been involved in progressive politics since her teens, although that was always likely to happen, given the environment she grew up in. Background  A dyed-in-the-wool Wellingtonian, she was born in in Newtown, grew up in the inner city and has always lived here. “My parents are Christian and quite political, so we grew up in the context of a concern for social justice. My parents are now members of the Green Party too, so we’re a Green Party family,” says Ms Pannett. She describes her family as reasonably political and very public service focused, like many in Wellington. Her parents’ faith had an influence, although she is not religious. She became involved in rape crisis as a 19-year-old student and stayed with the organisation for three-and-a-half years. “I abhor violence and violence against women and children in particular, it’s a great injustice for me,” she says. The group was based on participation and consensus, organising principles that have stayed with Ms Pannett. “That is a mode of working which I like,” she says. In 1997, while studying environmental philosophy, she attended an environmental camp for activists, where she heard people talk about a range of environmental issues, including opposition to the (at that stage) proposed inner city bypass. “It just made sense to me, against the background of a concern for social justice,” she says. She ended up working on the anti Wellington city bypass campaign for five years. “That was about looking at ways that cities should work better from an environmental and people point of view. It was very formative because I worked with some great people and learnt a lot,” she says. In 2001 she ran a successful campaign for a single transferable vote in Wellington for the Greens. After that, she became more formally involved with the Greens and ran the Wellington central campaign in 2002. She was elected to Wellington City Council for the first time in 2007 and has been on the council ever since. “For me, it’s a huge privilege,” she says of her current role. “We basically get to run a city and we get to implement our ideas around sustainability and that’s a wonderful position to be in.” “The dialogue in local government has changed far more towards thinking about the environment in terms of transport, waste and water,” she says. Ms Pannett is clear about her alignment with the Green Party, although she is quick to add that the party doesn’t tell her what to do. “I am driven to work for change because I see so much injustice and it bothers me,” she says. Personal choices  It’s all very well to have lofty ideals, but does Ms Pannett walk the talk? Difficult though it is, she makes a real effort to be an ethical consumer and shop with sustainability in mind. “I do adhere to the personal is political,” says Ms Pannett, referring to the 1970’s catchphrase about the broader impact of individual choices. “I do believe you have to live your principles.” And she certainly does, having been vegetarian since 2001, she has no driver’s licence, neither she nor her partner own a car and they live in the central city so need to travel less. She seldom travels by air and limits overseas travel. She also buys many clothes off Trade Me. At the same time, she acknowledges that compromises are necessary especially being the mother of two small children and dogs (she confesses to being an animal lover). For example, she doesn’t grow her own vegetables and prefers buying them from the market, although she buys local where possible. “Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like gardening or cooking,” she laughs, adding that it’s a choice about where to put time and energy. Instead, she makes her contribution to organic and sustainable farming through being a trustee of the Hill Street Farmers market. “I do try hard, but I don’t beat myself up about everything. I try to do the right thing through my work, whatever that happens to be,” she says. She realises that “doing the right thing” is expensive for many people and not everyone can afford organic food. “There is an affordability issue there,” she says. Dealing with dissent  Taking a stand on environmental issues isn’t always easy, and Ms Pannett has on occasion been vocal about controversial issues, at times ruffling feathers. “Politics is a tough environment. “I have not decided to be popular. “I say the things that I think need to be said around the environment.” For example, she does not support the development of Transmission Gully although she accepts it is a “done deal”. “In terms of the science about what’s happening with global warming, this is not the sort of thing we should be doing, and it’s very expensive,” she says. The airport extension is a similarly controversial issue. Ms Pannett has supported an initiative by the council to prepare an environmental impact statement on the proposed new runway and wants to have a proper understanding about the likely effects on the surrounding area before making a decision. “It’s interesting to explore how we connect Wellington to the world, because we are so isolated geographically,” she says. Another major issue for the council is the number of ordinary people facing unknown expenses because their inner-city apartment blocks have been designated earthquake prone. “Some owners are under huge pressure,” she concedes. “It’s a very difficult problem and we’re well aware of it.” “We have been consistent in saying that the government needs to come to the party. The government wants to regulate, but there hasn’t been enough consideration given to how it will be paid for,” she says. “We’re trying to see how we can support owners.” Where to next?  Where does she see her future? “I’ve done a lot of stuff at the local level. I will probably in the future do some stuff at a national level and an international level,” she says. As to what that stuff might be, she isn’t giving much away. “I’ve got kids to raise, that’s my first priority, and I’m committed here for another two years,” she says. In the meantime, she’s happy with where she’s at. “It’s a good place to be at the moment because I feel like I’m part of an organisation which is trying to achieve a lot. It’s a privilege to be involved in all of that.”

      • Bringing te reo back to life
        • 23 Feb 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • TE REO: (From left) Ewan Pohe, Chloe Lyall and Tama Kirikiri agree that te reo Maori should be taught to children in New Zealand’s schools. IMAGES: Hayley Gastmeier EWAN POHE learnt about the War of the Roses and English history at school but nothing of Māori or New Zealand’s past. He grew up surrounded by Māori culture with grandparents and a father fluent in te reo, but he was raised only to speak English. “The whole education system for the last 150 years has been assimilationist, where the whole emphasis has been on making Māori into Pakeha. “Māori were seen to be primitive, backward, and not progressive,” says the Victoria University researcher and tutor. According to the Māori language commission, at the start of the 1800’s te reo Māori was the dominant language throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand. By the 1850’s, with more and more European settlers arriving, te reo became the minority language and English dominated. The Pakeha population exceeded Māori and te reo was confined to Māori communities. By the mid-1900’s speaking te reo Māori was being strongly discouraged throughout the country. BILINGUAL: The Pohe family, (From Left) Ewan, Ana, 12, Sue and Georgina, 15, all learnt te reo and now are fluent speakers. Dr Pohe, of Rongomaiwahine iwi, says it’s sad in today’s context but at the time they thought they were moving forward. Even Māori were discouraging te reo. “My dad told me it was a waste of time. “The dominant narrative at the time was that it was in the past.” Dr Pohe says the mainstream media keep reinforcing the negative stereotypical aspects of Māori, and racism is still “alive and kicking” in New Zealand. “And then you have these statistics of Māori in jail, failing the education system, and very poor health. “So it wasn’t seen as a positive to be a Māori for most of my life.” It was at age 45, with two young daughters, Georgina and Anahera, and a supportive wife, Sue, that Dr Pohe immersed himself on a journey to be fluent in te reo Māori. “I went to everything I could go to, all sorts of classes. Night classes, immersion, books, TV, radio, audio, friends, family. You name it, I did it.” He says it took him a solid three-year commitment to master the language. Once fluent, he sent his girls to immersion schools and his wife started learning too. Now the whole family has the ability to speak fluent te reo. Dr Pohe has since built a PHD around his 10 years of Māori language research. He teaches te reo to beginners at Victoria University, and he and his wife run a mentoring programme for families wishing to incorporate the language into their homes. “The more I learnt the more I realised it was something I was passionate about. “It resonated well with me culturally, to the point where I thought this is a good thing for not only me and my family but for all Kiwis who are interested.” “I want to try and keep alive the Māori cultural identity, and the only way you can do that, to maintain its integrity, is by maintaining the language as a living one.” At the other end of the education spectrum, pre-school teacher, Chloe Lyall, weaves the Māori culture into her classroom on a daily basis. In her class stories of Māori myths and legends are told, they practice tikanga (customs and traditions passed down through time) and every morning a group of children will present their mihimihi to the class. Te reo Māori is constantly incorporated into the classroom conversations and activities, including to welcome, sing, count, name objects, and ask questions. BICULTURAL FOCUS: Pre-school teacher Chloe Lyall incorporates te reo and Maori customs into her classroom. “It becomes a way of speaking, and a way of being.” It was only a few years ago that Miss Lyall discovered she was a descendant of a Māori ancestor of the Ngāi Tahu iwi in the South Island. But says she does not identify with her tribe because she found out about the connection later in life. “I wasn’t brought up in that environment.” Miss Lyall says it is important for the revitalisation of te reo that children are exposed to the language in a positive light. “If they experience it at a young age then they understand that there is a value placed on it, and that it is of importance.” All New Zealand pre-schools must adhere to bicultural practices, and have resources that reflect the Māori culture within them, but Miss Lyall says there are no strict guidelines. “It depends on how passionate the teacher is, and what their personal values are, in terms of how much is actually incorporated into the children’s daily pre-school life.” Miss Lyall credits her high appreciation of te reo to her teachers training at Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa – a polytech she says is renowned for its bicultural practices. In contrast to Dr Pohe and Miss Lyall, Tama Kirikiri has spoken Te Reo all his life. He traces his whakapapa to a number of iwi including Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Konohi, Ngāti Rakaipaaka and Kāi Tahu. As a child his parents, grandparents and anybody that looked after him would speak to him in Māori. Despite coming from a supportive Māori background, he and his siblings rarely used te reo to communicate outside the home and marae. “The climate of New Zealand at the time wasn’t one that encouraged you to use Māori outside of specific occasions.” Mr Kirikiri, a senior project manager at Ako Aotearoa, says at primary school the only thing positive regarding Māori was if you were singing a Māori song. KORERO MAORI: Tama Kirikiri says if te reo was embraced by all Kiwis then he has no doubt that the health of the language would increase. “Everything else was negative.” Thankfully now there are many people trying, in various ways, to incentivise a change in people’s attitude towards te reo and Māori culture. But Mr Kirikiri says the health of the Māori language is hard to determine. “I think that te reo Māori is, amongst the Māori speaking community I know, very healthy. “But outside of that context it’s difficult to say.” According to Statistics New Zealand, in 2013, 21.3 percent of Maori could hold a conversation about a lot of everyday things in te reo – a 4.8 percent decrease from the 2006 census. Stats NZ says there were 91,809 Māori speakers in 2001 and in 2013 there were 92,391. The Māori population in 2001 was at 329,796, which increased to 396,285 in 2013. So in proportion, those within the Māori population who had the ability to speak te reo in 2001 was at 28.2 percent, and dropped to 23.7 percent in 2013. Speakers in younger age brackets are steadily declining while speakers aged over 65 are on the rise as more fluent speakers move into the older age bracket, causing concerns that the language could die out. For Mr Kirikiri, the answer lies in all Kiwis celebrating the language unique to only our country. Mr Kirikiri, also a Māori language teacher, says he does not mind where his students come from, but acknowledges there is a common vibe that only Māori are entitled to learn the language. “My theory is that one of the only things we were able to control to some degree was our language, everything else was taken. “So what ended up happening was people who were so incensed by what was happening to our people, their response was, ‘no you’re not getting it. You’re not Māori so you’re not having it, this is ours’.” But Mr Kirikiri says he and many other people think that the only way te reo will survive in Aotearoa is by not only Māori speaking Māori. “It has to be that everybody in this country realises this is a language of communication, and we actually embrace it as the language of Aotearoa. “And remove a lot of the traditional stigma that was intentionally created by past governments and western mainstream New Zealand, on Māori things.”

      • Melanesians using local festivals to keep culture alive in NZ
        • 23 Feb 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • SOLOMON ISLANDS: A dancer at the Pasifika Festival. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning. PAPUA NEW Guinea and the Solomon Islands gave Melanesian cultures a strong presence at this year’s Pasifika Festival in Wellington’s Waitangi Park. About 10 different Pacific cultures were showcased at the annual January festival, through performances, craft stalls and food stalls. Wellington mayor, Celia Wade-Brown says Pasifika Festival is a way to showcase the cultural talent Wellington has to offer. “I love the diversity of the Pacific nations and their positive passion for life,” says Mrs Wade-Brown. The Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island groups love taking the opportunity to both get together, and to display their cultures in public. Papua New Guinea Wellington community chairman, PK Siwi says his group performs in the festival to bring something different. “We hope we provided more awareness of Melanesian communities in Wellington and in New Zealand and the many cultural backgrounds they bring with them,” he says. Mr Siwi says the group performed in the Pasifika Festival, hoping to inform the crowd of the many cultures and traditions in the Pacific Islands. “The different islands have different languages, cultures and traditions that are yet to be discovered and celebrated,” says Mr Siwi. Wellington Solomon Islands Community president, Glo Oxenham says her group performs to be a part of the larger Wellington community. “It’s a chance to showcase our culture, people, art and country,” she says. Ms Oxenham says taking part in such festivals involves lots of dances and singing. “Participating in such festivals always brings out how easy it is for our people to get back into the groove of things,” she says. Tribal mudmen and lullabies were shown through dance and drumming of the two groups. The Papua New Guinea Wellington community performed a dance about the Legend of the Asaro Mudmen from the Eastern Highlands province. The legend is passed on through generations in Papua New Guinean culture. Mr Siwi says the legend is the story of a tribe in the Asaro Valley being chased by an enemy tribe, and while fleeing their village they fell into the mud on the Asaro River bank. The tribe hid in the mud until the enemy tribe left, and then came out of the mud. When the enemy tribe came back to find them, they thought they were spirits and fled. This allowed the tribe to reclaim their village and land, and they celebrated the belief that the spirits had helped them to be victorious Mr Siwi says everything about the group’s performance is authentic, except for the costumes. ”The costumes were made here in New Zealand, but they are not far from looking the same. Other than that, everything is authentic,” he says. SOLOMON ISLANDS: Two dancers perform their groups dance. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning. Ms Oxenham says one of her group’s performances was around a song performed by a French band called Deep Forest but originally sung by Afunakwa around 1970. “Sweet Lullaby by Deep Forest is originally from the island of Malaita and is in the Baegu language. It’s a lullaby for a child sung by her mother,” she says. Ms Oxenham says the song is the story of a young child crying because his parents are no longer around and his older sibling sings the song to comfort him. Ms Oxenham says the dances are often traditional. Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are culturally diverse countries and both group’s say they aimed to show this to the Wellington public. Mr Siwi says most of the adults were born in Papua New Guinea, whereas the children that were up on stage were born in New Zealand. “Since most of the adults are from Papua New Guinea, we do have a very strong connection to our culture and history,” he says. Mr Siwi says they are a part time group, with an aim of keeping their traditions and culture alive in New Zealand. “The best part is getting our children who are mostly born in New Zealand involved, so they can learn a thing or two about our culture and history,” he says. Mr Siwi says there is not enough time or space to be able to teach the kids properly. “Our concern is keeping the culture and the traditions alive within future generations. “We want the children to be able to learn the beautiful and unique culture we have and are proud of,” he says. Papua New Guinea has over 800 languages, according to Wikipedia. “Papua New Guinea is a country with a large number of tribes, so we have a lot to showcase yet,” Mr Siwi says. Ms Oxenham says they are a mixed group with around 50 members. “We are families with small children but also young men and women who are enthusiastic about their culture and tradition back in the Solomon Islands,” she says. Ms Oxenham says the group doesn’t face any challenges. Mrs Oxenham says the Solomon Islands has over 80 languages and many cultures. “For those of us in Wellington, we come together as one and we pick from the various provinces or islands for the dances we perform,” she says. Mrs Oxenham says her group performs in festivals other than the Pasifika Festival. “Members of our community form little dance groups for our annual independence celebrations in July, when we come together as a community,” she says. COLD CROWDS: The crowd huddle together for warmth in not so great weather conditions. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning.

      • ‘Knee-jerk’ prisoner voting law damages society, say advocates
        • 23 Feb 2015
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • RETHINKING JUSTICE: Ced Simpson says New Zealand’s crime policy should not be the result of knee-jerk reactions. IMAGE: Tess Nichol BANNING prisoners from voting is an example of how the criminal justice system is hung up on punishing, rather than rehabilitating. Ex-prisoner Paul Wood, says New Zealand is missing easy chances to help prisoners feel connected to wider society, which could reduce re-offending. “I think it’s sad that we as a society are not taking opportunities to do something positive,” says Mr Wood. “Anything that we within the prisons can be doing which supports the idea of personal and collective responsibility is something which should be encouraged,” he says. Mr Wood spent nearly 11 years in prison after being convicted of murdering his drug dealer in 1995. He pursued a degree in psychology while in prison, completing his PhD in the discipline after his release and now works as a life coach. He says criminal re-offending is more likely when prisoners are released into a society they don’t feel part of. “The more alienated people are from society, the easier it is to maintain the mindsets and the attitudes which facilitate criminal offending.” Mr Wood says people who can mentally distance themselves from their victims are more likely to commit crimes. “One of the ways in which you engage in crime is by dehumanising those that you are committing crimes against.” “By providing people an opportunity to connect with others more broadly in the sense of voting, you reduce the likelihood that they can use those psychological rationalisations that enable them to commit those kinds of crimes,” he says. Voting rights for prisoners was brought to attention at the end of January this year when career criminal Arthur Taylor took a case against John Key to Auckland’s High Court. Mr Taylor argues the Prime Minister shouldn’t have been elected in Helensville, as Auckland Prison inmates were denied their right to vote. The judges have reserved their decision in the case. He says it should not be up to politicians to decide who can or cannot vote for them and that denying prisoners the vote sets a dangerous precedent. Currently New Zealand law dictates that any citizen in prison on Election Day does not have the right to vote. The Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act was passed in 2010 and has received little push-back from the general public. Paul Wood says people tend to feel indifferent about prisoner rights because of a knee-jerk reaction which favours punishing those who break the law. “I understand that a lot of people operate on an emotive response when it comes to anything to do with crime or criminality.” “At the moment we have a fixation on process, i.e. punishment,” he says. However he says punishment is not an effective motivator when it comes to crime. “We’ve got decades and decades of research to show that punishment does not in any way reduce the likelihood of reoffending, or prevent crimes either.” Rethinking Crime and Punishment director Ced Simpson says a well-informed public could be the key to changing laws relating to prisoners’ rights. “People don’t know much about our criminal justice system, they don’t know much about the shape of our population that’s in detention.” Rethinking Crime and Punishment is an initiative aiming to promote policy which reduces crime and social harm by increasing public discussion about the current state of the criminal justice system. He says Ministry of Justice research has found that people’s attitudes change when they are better informed. “They are not generally as punitive as people might imagine. When they have the facts of a situation they tend to be more forgiving.” “We have a long history of legislation in criminal justice coming about as a result of knee-jerk responses to particular incidents and that’s not the way to build policy.” In June 2014, more than 8500 New Zealanders were locked up and over half of them were Maori, despite Maori making up just 15 per cent of the population overall. Mr Simpson says it is important to consider racial implications when discussing the right of prisoners to vote. “When you see how disproportionately likely Maori and Pacific Islanders are to be in detention then you have to ask yourself, don’t they have a valid perspective?” Mr Simpson says he also has concerns with the way the law operates in reality. “When you consider that some people on community service have the right to vote, for example, and they’ve been responsible for the same offence as people in prison, you have to ask yourself well is that fair, does that make sense,” he says. He says someone on parole for a violent offence would be allowed to vote, while someone in prison on Election Day for a less serious crime would not be. “These inconsistencies become a bit worrying.” Most prisoners are not irredeemably bad people, says Mr Simpson, and the law should reflect that. He says people can get hung up on the idea of needing to restrict the liberties of the most notorious violent offenders, like Clayton Weatherston. “Nearly all the poster people that the public give attention to are not the typical prisoner.” “The typical prisoner unfortunately is someone who was abused as a kid or someone who for a relatively short period of time has been swayed by their peers as early adults to do stupid things, or someone who hasn’t got good defence council.” Like Mr Wood, Mr Simpson says voting is a way to help prisoners connect with and eventually successfully re-integrate into society. “If we want prisoners to reintegrate into society as responsible citizens then part of that is them taking up the duties of citizenship, including voting.” “To take that away seems to argue against that.”  

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