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      • Politicians want to make the world a better place – just in different ways
        • 14 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • The Avengers: Annette King (right), Russel Norman (centre), and Chris Finlayson all want to make the world a better place, they just can’t work together. IMAGE: Sarah Wilson JOHN Key has a smelly house, a wealthy man actually wants to pay more tax, revolutionist John Overton just wants some truth, and politicians just want to make the world a better place. These were the points to be taken from the Rongotai candidates meet and greet in Miramar last night. Walls were filled with ‘God is Love’ and ‘Jesus is Lord’ banners. The seats were piled with educational brochures about each candidate or “propoganda” as someone called it. And the meeting was adjudicated by a school principal who kept firm control – most of the time – over the rowdy crowd, much like a group of school students in assembly time. Topics of the night included electricity prices, privatisation, Dirty Politics and poverty. National candidate Chris Finlayson bore the brunt of an older crowd who recalled the many failings of the National government. Making the world a better place One man got personal with the politicians asking them why they are standing in politics. Green Party candidate, Dr Russel Norman, gave the very humble response: “All these people want to make the world a better place, as they see it. We just see it differently.” Meanwhile John Overton of the Patriotic Revolutionary Front said he was in it for a bit of fun and to keep the other candidates honest. Quoting a John Lennon song he said “give me some truth”, and added his own judgement “you won’t find any of that here”. To which the crowd applauded, seemingly thinking the same thing. Applause and cheers greeted Internet-Mana candidate, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati’s call to bring back “power to the people”. The call came as the predominantly elder crowd expressed their concerns over rising power prices. All but United Future and National pledged to nationalise the power supply and bring back the power to those who built it up, the people of New Zealand. Similarly, all but United Future and National were worried about the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement for free trade. However, it is just being overly “beat up”, according to Finlayson. The crowd strongly disagreed, calling for a more honest and transparent government. Meet an honourable man The night was perhaps stolen by an honourable wealthy man who actually wanted to pay more tax. “How will we be better off under a National Government?” he asked Mr Finlayson. Mr Finlayson, who presumed he meant “we” the wealthy people, said: “One of the things we will not have is a capital gains tax like the leader of the Labour Party is supporting.” He then made a bold strike at David Cunliffe for not appearing to know the details of his own capital gains tax policy in the televised leaders’ debate. The tables quickly turned on the confidant candidate when the man interjected saying: “You might have misunderstood me. “When I said ‘we’ I meant we our whanau, we our community, we our country and as a property owner I actually believe it’s incumbent on me to pay a capital gains tax.” The crowd erupted with applause and Mr Finlayson was left to disappoint not only the low income folk but also the wealthy, by adding: “Well, we won’t support that.” Mr Overton recalled a previous Rongotai meeting where Mr Finlayson called a majority of his fellow candidates “redistributionists” who “help the poor”. Mr Overton said every single one of us are so-called “redistributionists. “National redistributes too, but they redistribute to the rich, it’s called the trickle up effect,” he said to the amusement of the crowd. Time for Dirty Politics Of course no 2014 candidate meeting can be complete without a mention of the infamous Dirty Politics book, or simply a “dirty distraction” according to United Future candidate, Sultan Eusoff. While Eusoff may see the book as a distraction, the crowd made it clear that it was an important topic to be discussed. They asked each candidate what their stance was on an inquiry into the dirty politics allegations. Again, battle lines were drawn with National and United Future on one side and everyone else on the other. The crowd immediately dismissed Mr Finlayson’s response that there was no need to inquire further into the book. “How can you say that if you haven’t even read the book,” said a disgruntled crowd member. New Zealand First candidate, Brent Pierson ended the Dirty Politics discussion with what was probably the line of the night. “John Key needs to sort out his house, because it’s a very smelly house.” Adjudicator Prue Kelly said overall the audience was mostly respectful, let the candidates have their say and asked thoughtful questions. “The naughty boys down the back playing with their phones and bugging the people around them were like Year 10s.” Kelly, who is a currently the acting-principal at Bishop Viard College, finished the evening off with her own question to the candidates. “When are you going to start funding ABA therapy for children with autism so that they can benefit from education in mainstream classes when they start school at aged five?” “Don’t answer now,” she said. “Answer when you get in.” The candidates at the meeting were: Russel Norman for the Green Party Chris Finlayson for the National Party Annette King for the Labour Party Brent Pierson for New Zealand First Don Richards, an independent promoting banking reform Bruce Welsh for the Conservative Party Sultan Eusoff for United Future Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati for Internet-Mana John Overton of the Patriotic Revolutionary Front Bruce Welsh for the Conservative party. Aaron Carter of the Climate Party did not attend.

      • Fifty shades of grey turn up in Upper Hutt for NZ First leader
        • 14 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • SHADES OF GREY: Winston Peters speaking at the Grey Power meeting in Upper Hutt. IMAGE: Amanda Herrera IT WAS a grey Winston Petersevening and Winston Peters was in his element talking up the anti-amalgamation theme this week. Around 50 people gathered at Upper Hutt’s Expression Art Gallery, to hear the NZ First leader denounce a Wellington super city. The event, organised by Upper Hutt’s Grey Power, addressed the issues of cities within Wellington Regional Council joining to form a new “super city”. Mr Peters called the pensioners to voice their concerns about amalgamation with their vote on election day. “A Government that doesn’t listen, mean’s a Government that doesn’t last long,” he said. Mr Peters gave examples of the Auckland “supercity” amalgamation. He said the supercity was not based on democracy and was imposed by a dysfunctional leader from a dysfunctional party. “Democratic rights are being compromised. People are having amalgamations forced down their throats.” Mr Peters then shifted his efforts to drum up support for NZ First and gain new voters. “The amount of acrimonious dirt that has been exposed, being orchestrated from the ninth floor of the Beehive show’s John Key’s standards are slow and low,” he said. Mr Peters also attacked asset sales and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement on free trade. “If the TPPA is as great as Key claims, why can’t we see it? Why have they written disclosure clauses?” he said. The crowd responded with erratic clapping. Earlier this year, Lower Hutt councillors voted unanimously against the amalgamation, so Mayor Ray Wallace was an interested spectator applauding the theme of the meeting. The decision of the amalgamation with Wellington Regional Council will be announced in November after the Local Government Commission in June deferred a decision until afte the election.  

      • Online voting tool a big hit for people ‘On the Fence’
        • 11 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • Image supplied ON THE FENCE had over 100,000 users in August, three times more than was recorded during the 2011 election.  New Zealand based voters aren’t the only ones using the voting simulation tool and users have been recorded in 120 countries. The take up of On the Fence has been phenomenal, says the lead designer behind the project, Kieran Stowers (above). Users are asked to rate how much they agree with a range of political statements based upon current topics and policies. Rather than having a yes or no system, users can indicate how much they agree or disagree with each statement, recognising that users could be shades of either. When they are done answering, the tool will analyse their responses and produce the top three political parties suited to them. Newswire asked five young voters to try it and give some feedback andthe following are their responses: Kiran Horrocks, 19, a first-time voter, was undecided on who to vote for prior trying it out.He found On the Fence helpful and says it reinforced his position on particular parties. He also found it accurate as he was matched with the two parties he supported the most. Steven Davison, 21, says On the Fence was useful as it provided confirmation on which parties best represented his beliefs. Alistair Gorin, 28 says he was surprised by the results and will have to re-think his vote. “I hadn’t really thought about Internet Mana as a contender for my vote, but now I will have to look more in depth at what they are standing for,” he says. Samir Parbhu, another first-time voter found it helpful as it refined his voting options and he now feels confident about making a decision on election day. Lucy McMaster says she had made a decision before taking the voting simulation test but says it’s a great tool for young voters. “I think it’s a helpful tool for younger people where this is their first time voting and they have no idea of anything to do with politics,” she says. On the Fence is a response made by a team of designers from Massey University to 40 years of continual decline in interest and participation in New Zealand politics. Mr Stowers says it is an effective way for young people to take control of their vote. “If participation is just left to ticking the box, who has power the rest of the time? Too many young people have no confidence or belief in the relevance of politics in their day­to­day lives and so see no point in voting. “It is successful in helping people engage in political thought, discussion and action because currently, the language of politics is difficult to understand,” says Mr Stowers He says the responses from users of all ages have been positive and constructive. “We have had a lot of great feedback saying how genuinely surprised and relieved both young and older people were that there was a tool available to help them through the often tricky mess of rhetoric to help them at least make a start in their political walk,” says Mr Stowers. Users are spending close to eight minutes on the site considering and answering questions on policy areas such as social welfare, education, Treaty of Waitangi, immigration and the environment. “It’s pretty significant because in an age of ‘instant gratification’ and notoriously short attention spans, to be able to capture young people’s imaginations and thoughts for that long shows that young people aren’t apathetic or lazy, they are showing us that they are thoughtful, considerate and civil,” he says. Mr Stowers wants On the Fence to continue to be a useful tool for voters. “We hope it can become useful in all sorts of places—from student body elections, local elections and more. “We’ve been getting requests for On the Fence from all around the world, it’s really great to see and we’re very positive about what could happen in the future,” he says. To try it out visit http://www.onthefence.co.nz/

      • Crowd warms to passionate Ginny in Ohariu gathering
        • 10 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        •   CHALK AND CHEESE: Virginia Andersen (left) and Peter Dunne deliver two different performances at the Ohariu candidate debate. Image: Francesca Jago IF cheers and whistles count as votes then Labour’s Virginia Anderson could be adding MP to her CV. More than 100 people gathered at Wadestown’s St. Luke’s church hall to meet their electorate candidates – and they liked the local mother of four and wife. The new candidate, who introduced herself as “Ginny”, appeared to win the crowd with her energetic and passionate delivery, which was a contrast to Peter Dunne’s sedate, monotone delivery. The other candidate to generate a response was National’s Brett Hudson. He delivered a carefully scripted introduction, hypnotising the crowd with well-rehearsed statistics of the past two terms run by National. Mr Hudson stuck to National’s campaign catchphrase, “National is about growing the economy” – albeit a few too many times for some. Mr Hudson picked up on an audience comment about the lack of young people: “Tonight the world favours the Aro Valley meeting for a good time.” The handful of youth who attended were given little chance at question time, as the older crowd jumped at the opportunity to interrogate candidates over policies, mainly focusing on climate change. The usually well behaved hall targeted the National candidate over carbon emissions tax, but erupted with laughter when Mr Hudson responded: “We do not wish to compromise the livelihood of New Zealanders by rushing ahead of the world with environmental policies.” After all, “National is about growing the economy,” he added, again. Green candidate Tane Woodley appeared pleased that questions favoured his party’s strength, and wooed the crowd with a vision of a flourishing suburb. ACT candidate Sean Fitzpatrick opted for the backseat for much of the debate, perhaps because he had not read ACT policies. “I don’t know our parties policies on that issue,” was a line repeated numerous times during the debate. With an ageing crowd, it was inevitable superannuation would be raised. Mr Dunne took the chance to speak loudly on the side of the irate crowd after Ms Andersen confirmed Labour would increase the age of superannuation to 67. “United Future will not increase the age of superannuation,” Mr Dunne said, citing a conversation him and David Shearer had after Labour’s 2011 failed bid for Government. “David admitted to me that the topic of superannuation was the downfall of Labour’s policies, so to hear Virginia say the age will go up to 67 is not doing Labour any favour.” However, Ms Anderson staunchly defended the Labour Party’s controversial stance. “It’s simply not sustainable the way it is. We have an ageing population, it’s an issue we need to start addressing.” Unsurprisingly, ACT and Conservative skipped the question, while Mr Hudson on auto-pilot recited “National is all about growing the economy”. The question of inequality in New Zealand managed to stir up the crowd which had been fading. Mr Hudson made himself a target with his statements: “Inequality has stabilised. It has been flat. A stroke of a pen to increase minimum wage will lead to further unemployment.” “Bollocks”, and “you’re disgusting” came from every corner of the hall.    

      • Church niceties observed on altar of polite politics
        • 10 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • EAGERLY AWAITING: Wellington Central candidates line up to address the public. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning A CROWD of 50 people were appropriately quiet in the surrounds of the Central Baptist Church for last night’s election meeting. NATIONAL: Paul Foster-Bell. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning. Wellington Central candidates from the NZ First, National, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis, Democrats for Social Justice, Labour, Greens and Conservative parties attended to plead their case for votes and answer questions. At the start of the meeting chaired by Peter Glensor, each candidate outlined their party’s policies and made their plea for votes. DEMOCRATS FOR SOCIAL CREDIT: James Knuckey. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning. National candidate Paul Foster-Bell (right) said National had an ‘exceptional time’ in office over the past six years in power. Grant Robertson (Labour candidate) outlined Labour plans to improve jobs and wages for New Zealand and he asked for the party vote. Democrats for Social Credit (DSC) candidate James Knuckey (left) explained DSC plans to improve social credit and to have loans that either have low or no interest. “NZ First does what National used to do before 1984,” NZ First candidate Dr Hugh Barr said, as he outlined policy of closing the gap between rich and poor. CONSERVATIVE PARTY: Brian Hooper. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning. James Shaw (Green Party candidate) outlined the three key points the party is targeting, including ending child poverty, creating warm and healthy homes, and extending the early childhood policy to up to 2 year olds. Brian Hooper (right) of the Conservative party said one of their main policies was to make doctor’s visits free to the over 65’s. LABOUR: Grant Robertson. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning. During the question and answer section of the meeting, issues raised by the public included climate change, housing, transport, sexual violence against women and gender equality. The Labour, Conservative, National and NZ First candidates all said that they support improving mental health, if elected. “National wants to give first home buyers better access to their Kiwisavers,” Mr Foster-Bell said when he was queried about the party’s housing policies. Mr Robertson (left) talked about Labour’s plans for new houses. GREENS: James Shaw. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning. “We plan to have 100,000 new homes in 10 years and we plan to provide emergency accommodation for homelessness.” Mr Shaw said the Greens would focus on rental homes. “A third of the population of New Zealand live in rental homes.” Mr Shaw (right) talked about the Greens policy of a warrant of fitness on rental properties to ensure warm and healthy homes.” Transport and climate change questions drew a range of responses. LEGALISE CANNABIS PARTY: Alistair Gregory. IMAGE: Ashleigh Manning. The Labour, NZ First, Democratic and Greens candidates all said the Emissions Trading Scheme needs to go. “We are a firm believer of light rail, even though we don’t actually have specific transport policies.” Alistair Gregory (left), the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis party candidate said. Labour, Greens and NZ First all have the goal of reducing carbon admission. When asked about gender equality, all of the party candidates agreed that more woman politicians are needed in Parliament. All of the candidates mentioned that they are working together on a policy to improve the amount of support given to women affected by sexual violence.

      • Hager wants strong media, transparent government
        • 10 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • DIRTY POLITICS: Journalist Nicky Hager at St. Andrews on the Terrace, Wellington THE AUDIENCE gave controversial investigative journalist Nicky Hager a standing ovation last night at St Andrews on the Terrace. Over 250 people attended the meeting organised by the Fabian Society where Mr Hager spoke about his book “Dirty Politics.” He says his  book isn’t about one or two random bloggers, but about freedom of speech, and he called for open government and a stronger and better resourced public media. As newsrooms get smaller and smaller, improving the news media is one of the best defences against the erosion of democratic accountability, he says. “We should be building up public broadcasting in New Zealand.” “We, as a society, need to be more thoughtful about who we use as commentators.” He described the current political climate as ‘intolerant’, with increased pressure on public servants, the public service and the media. He says that he is just one of hundreds of people attacked by right wing bloggers as part of a campaign to move the National Party further to the right. He claims the same machinery was used by some corporations to attack competitors, and within the National Party, to favour some internal candidates over others. He says the long term issues, are about the viability of decent, fair, politics and the way we work as a country in relation to transparency. “There is a strange disjunct between the apparent politics at the top and a period where there has been more nastiness and personal attacks than we’re used to in this country.” Hager advised Jane Allison, a student of Kelburn, not to read the blogs or the comments when she asked how to deal with online attacks, although he told her it’s important to confront this type of bully. “I think that one of the reasons my book has had the strong reaction which it has had around the country is because people have been feeling but not understanding the difference between the Mr Friendly leadership of the party and all the negative politics going on.”

      • Climate change hot Wadestown topic – too hot for some
        • 10 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • FROM THE FLOOR: Wadestown residents take the opportunity to tackle the issue of climate change at an Ohariu candidates meeting. CLIMATE change advocates hijacked the Ohariu candidates meeting in Wadestown on Monday night. The Wadestown Resident’s Association hosted nine candidates, including the current MP Peter Dunne, at St Lukes Hall in Wadestown. Members of the audience were surprised at how much weight was given to climate change for a meeting consisting of mainly over 60 year olds. “I was quite taken by the fact they seemed quite concerned about climate change. I’m hardly young myself but most of them were older than I was,” Rodger Shepherd says. Thomas Stokell was pleased to finally see people take an interest in the topic. “Obviously the consensus is we need to do something about it and if we don’t we’re in trouble. I think a lot of the people there are concerned for their kids and grandkids, and rightly so,” he says. The audience appeared pleased to see the issue getting an airing with some concerned that it had not been covered during the election campaign. “I was so pleased and amazed that everyone in the audience was concerned on that topic and if those other candidates don’t see it, we’re being lead by exactly the wrong people I’m afraid,” Bruce Stokell says. However, not everyone was happy with the amount of time spent on the topic. Tony Vial felt the night got bogged down with questions about climate change. “There’s not an easy answer to those questions and we got sidetracked,” he says. Young Wadestown couple Jonathan and Lucy Elkin said the candidates did not talk about the issues that were important to them. “There was about 80% on climate change. Which is good, we get the point, but it was repeating the same points over and over again. Stuff about raising a family would have been better,” Mr Elkin says. The audience also took a surprise liking to Labour’s Virginia Andersen and the Green’s Tane Woodley, saying that despite being young newcomers they spoke well and engaged the audience. “We were surprised how well the Labour lady spoke, because we didn’t know much about her at all and what we had heard wasn’t terribly favourable,” Alan Purdie says. “His [Tane Woodley] personal sincerity came out, it was obvious he believes in it,” Bruce Stokell says. Although Peter Dunne still had his supporters the audience didn’t appear to respond to him as well as expected. “I just felt like Dunne seemed like the old guy suddenly. He spoke powerfully but it seemed a little tired, and there was these two young thrusters coming through from Labour and the Greens side with an interesting vibe,” Colin Hogg says.

      • Wet and wild Aro Valley gives candidates a political spray
        • 9 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • CROWDED HOUSE: (From left) Labour’s Grant Robertson, National’s Paul Foster-Bell, Internet Mana’s Callum Valentine, Legalise Cannabis’ Alistair Gregory, NZ First Hugh Barr, Conservative’s Brian Hooper, Independant Huimaono Karena Puhi, Independant Peter Robinson, Social Democratic’s James Knuckey and Green’s James Shaw all attended the candidates debate in Aro Valley on Monday night. IMAGE: Lize Immelman CROWDS were baying inside, and standing like zombies outside – said the MC – so the scene was set for a typically raucous Aro Valley Community Centre election debate. Under the threat of a water gun fired for over-speaking, the all-male  candidates line-up were allocated four minutes each in front of hundreds of Wellington residents. Huimaono Karena Puhi, an independent candidate, warmed up the audience with a korero and ended with a waiata. NZ First candidate, Hugh Barr was the next to speak and the first to receive the squirt from water guns for speaking over time. Alistair Gregory managed to speak for four minute talk on his party’s only policy – to legalise cannabis. Social democratic candidate James Knuckey was the second to be squirted while trying to explain his policy, referred to as “funny money” by an audience member. While every other candidate was heckled, the Labour and Green candidates proved popular on the night with long, loud applause. Labour’s Grant Robertson came prepared with a raincoat for the water guns, but ended up not needing it. James Shaw of the Green Party won over the audience with his better environment and economy theme, and they particularly liked “keep the coal in the hole and the oil out of the sea.” Internet Mana candidate Callum Valentine was quick to point out he got one of few spare seats in the room, but that was soon stolen by Grant who shouted “not for long.” The person most heckled was National’s Paul Foster-Bell, who was drowned out by the crowd as he asked for both votes. He also pointed out similarities between he and Grant Robertson, suggesting they both want David Cunliffe to lose the election. Independent candidate Peter Robinson did not seem to enthral the audience while he talked about a better economy for New Zealand. Final speaker Brian Hooper from the Conservative Party “dreaded” attending the meeting. His wife offered to come as substitute, so he picked up on a theme about the all-male line-up: “At least there would have been a woman.”

      • Chicken joins politicians for election debate on factory
        • 9 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • A LIVE chicken named Hettie took center stage when representatives of five political parties were challenged on factory farming policies in Wellington. Animal rights campaigner Hans Kriek put Hettie on a square board which represented the amount of space the hen would be entitled to in a battery farm. Labour’s Trevor Mallard said the National Party’s plan to replace battery cages with colony cages by 2022 was unacceptable. “The increase in the size of the cages for chickens is the size of a credit card per bird, you see how intensively those chickens are farmed now, the new system is one credit card per bird and that’s not good enough,” Mr Mallard said at last week’s meeting. Farmer and National Party MP Shane Ardern agreed the upgrade was still cruel, but said pushing the price of eggs up with more humane methods would contribute to New Zealand’s poverty issue. Mr Kriek said eggs were considerably cheaper now than they used to be, in comparison to many other commodities where prices had increasingly risen. “Eggs are now about a third the price than what they were relatively 50 years ago,” Mr Kriek said of research carried out by Consumer New Zealand. Candidates from National, Labour, Green, NZ First and Internet Mana accepted the invitation by animal welfare group SAFE to debate at St Andrews Church on The Terrace. AIM HIGHER: Green’s Mojo Mathers speaks out saying New Zealand must raise its animal welfare standards. IMAGE: Hayley Gastmeier Greens animal welfare spokesperson Mojo Mathers said when it comes to animal welfare, New Zealand was moving backwards. “New Zealand is falling behind countries overseas, we are at least 10 years behind the European Union,” Ms Mathers said. “It’s about time we stop pretending we’re world leaders.” Former MP Sue Kedgley, who hosted the event, asked which parties would support a ban on feeding antibiotics to animals. Antibiotic resistance was raised as a growing concern because it is commonly added to chicken feed in the industry. The Greens and the Internet Mana parties both said they would support a ban. “Humans are coming more and more resilient to these antibiotics and a large part of that is because of the antibiotics fed to animals that have come from factory farming practices,” says Internet Mana’s Miriam Pierard. Mr Mallard said it was an issue not yet discussed by the Labour Party, and Richard Prosser from NZ First said his party did not have a policy on the issue. Mr Ardern, said he was unaware of chickens being fed antibiotics in the farming industry. A woman in the audience told Mr Ardern that animal welfare issues were the reason she was switching her vote from National this election. Wrapping up the debate, Ms Kedgley said there had been a huge shift in thinking, understanding and awareness about animal welfare, compared to when she first entered parliament in 1999 and was ridiculed for raising the issue. “The sort of practices we are seeing out there are going to have to go, the only question really, is when.”

      • World Suicide Day time to set goals as Samaritans short on listeners
        • 9 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • SAMARITANS Wellington has a goal of raising $150,000 to train more volunteers who can help prevent suicide. September 10 is World Suicide Day and Samaritans take on average 52 calls a day from people who are feeling depressed, lonely or suicidal. They are raising funds through a text to donate campaign until November 22. Samaritans receives 19,000-20,000 calls each year and cannot answer all of them. Samaritans’ deputy chair, Carolyn O’Fallon says Samaritans is different because it offers a 24-hour listening service rather than a counselling service. “Sometimes people just want someone to listen to them so they can feel connected. “Samaritans is here to listen and connect,” Dr O’Fallon says. Samaritans has been operating for almost 50 years as a non-profit organisation and relies solely on the generosity of individuals, trusts and foundations for the thousands of dollars needed each year to continue the service. Dr O’Fallon says if they could raise $150,000 then they would be able to train more volunteers, answer more calls and raise greater awareness. “It’s not just young people calling in, there’s a wide range of people who feel the need to talk to us,” she says. For the year ending June 30 there has been 529 suicides throughout New Zealand, 110 of them were under 24, and 97 were over 60. The theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is “one world connected”. Dr O’Fallon says forming connections with callers who are suffering is important. “When people connect with others it can go a long way to preventing suicide,” she says. Text 2014 to 2446 to donate $3 to the Samaritans. Call 04 4739 739 or 0800 726 666 to reach the Wellington Samaritans helpline.  

      • Gareth Watkins says Farewell as Nga Taonga launches new era
        • 8 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • GARETH Watkins’ fourth and final exhibition as Curator-at-Large at Nga Taonga explores recordings of wartime departures found in New Zealand media archives. Farewell uses 150 different clips curated from Nga Taonga collections, spanning from the Boer War to World Wars I and II. The exhibition coincides with the WWI centenary, and the merging of the country’s major film, television and sound collections revealed scenes such as our war prize Pamir setting sail and servicemen marching down Lambton Quay. Farewell runs for three months. Its exhibition space uses screens showing “fragments of departures” including official troop farewells and home movies of World War II departures, interspersed with other travels typical of the time. Clips include flying ships, elephants aboard a cruise liner and on board entertainment including men whacking each other off a log with sacks. Watkins says he found dramatic goodbyes surprisingly scarce. “Whether it was because people didn’t want to show vulnerability, the lack of technology or that they valued their privacy more, I began to think on the way events can take on greater significance if captured.” A camera will live capture audience reactions and display it on a projection screen, becoming a part of the exhibition. A special 40 minute screening of exhibition clips marked the opening of Farewell, accompanied by live piano music by Susan Alexander. A tradition where a streamer was held between travellers and people seeing them off produced images of a sky full of streamers flying, before slowly breaking apart from their well wishers on shore. The cheerful gaudiness of streamers decking out the room takes on new meaning put together with the edited film of past goodbyes. Watkins intends the setting to “jar with the serious mood of the content”. CAPTURED TIME: Visitors become part of the history around them. “I have to be aware that everyone reacts differently to what they see, but there’s no worse thing than no engagement.” His first exhibition PET confronted people with organised dog-fighting and chimpanzee tea parties – exploitation in an otherwise light hearted topic. Tricks n’ Treats had a makeshift peep-show which drew viewers into the world of rent boys as depicted by short film Boy. The second exhibition, 30, centered around the 30th anniversary of the first AIDS-related death in New Zealand. Every screen in the archives played 30 at random while the exhibit was on. “I wanted to give the viewer a sense of not knowing what will come, or which way to turn, or where to look next.” Watkins found new ways to not only get viewers engaged in his project, but also fellow staff members. “He was responsible for our disco ball,” says Mark Sweeney from Nga Taonga, who has big plans for the archive’s acquisition. Nga Taonga colleague Mishelle Muagututi’a, sings a specially recorded Samoan song, “Tofa My Feleni”‘- ‘goodbye, my friend’ – which plays as part of Farewell’s soundtrack. Mr Sweeney says Watkins is thorough in his approach, and has brought a new audience to the archives. Watkins says his radio experience helped shape the exhibition. “You have to keep it snappy. Most people only stay for a short while so you only have three minutes to give meaning to what they see.” “It’s all about what you leave in and what you leave out.” “Being allowed to play in the collection as much as I liked, and the ability to discover all these gems in the physical media was a highlight of my time,” he says of his role as Curator-at-Large. The public can access the archives for a fee, which contributes to the preservation of material, but Watkins enjoyed the freedom of resources that came with his 2014 role, if not necessarily a lot of spare time. “Each exhibition has a six-week turnaround,” says Mr Watkins. FESTIVE FAREWELL: Streamers and bunting add a sense of occasion to the exhibition space. While a team worked to put a project on display, Watkins had already moved on to the next one. He worked on exhibitions while juggling his day job as radio collections developer for Nga Taonga. “Getting to grips with the archive’s catalogue was a learning experience.” While there was plenty to explore, not everything is catalogued or usable. Watkins grew up here in his hometown of Wellington and studied at Wellington High School. He immediately joined Radio New Zealand after finishing college, staying involved in the radio industry. “I’ve been learning on the job ever since.” A love of the personality-driven radio shows of the 80’s instilled a drive to be part of the same industry. His father, Phil, is Welsh which also passed on a rich background of storytelling and use of voice as a tool. Watkins helped realise New Zealand’s Access Radio’s internet platform in 2006 while he was Wellington program director, a role which he particularly enjoyed. “It was a real loss to Wellington Access Radio when he decided to leave,” says Victoria Quade, who was a member of its council while he worked at Access. She remembers him as a ‘gentle giant with a beautiful voice’ but was not surprised to hear he took up the curatorship. “It seemed like such a natural fit, I thought he really found his place, one where his many interests come together.” Despite his claims that he is lacking in musical ability, Watkins produced Carmen I Am Here, I Am Me which won Best Music Feature at this year’s National Radio Awards. The feature was commissioned by Radio New Zealand Concert and explored the life of social pioneer and personality Carmen Rupe. He won the same award in 2005 after producing Douglas Lilburn: The Landscape of a NZ Composer with Roger Smith. “In radio or in film there’s a certain flow you just know where things go,” he says. Learning the violin for nine years and attempts at the bass guitar as a teenager convinced him he did not share the same skill with music. “I think for that side of the arts, [rhythm] is something I haven’t developed – which is sort of essential.” Kate Mead, production manager for RNZ Concert, says he has the “ears and sensitivities of a composer.” “There’s a lovely sensitivity about him and he can draw people out who wouldn’t normally open up.” “He’s not afraid to let people just talk. It’s a brave and strong style of programming which I really admire.” She also remembers him as the “go-to guy” for all things technical. “We used to be in the control room together, and he would call out ‘zip-zap’ after every sentence I was dictating to him because he is so fast at typing.” Once his tenure as Curator-at-Large finishes, he continues his work as radio collections developer for Nga Taonga, as well as various media projects. “I actually just bought a harmonica,” says Watkins. “I can picture men sitting around a campfire at night and telling stories. There’s something so evocative about the sound.” Similarly, his work often captures the moods and emotive portraits of people. Watkins was a 2007 Winston Churchill Memorial fellow and travelled to California researching broadcasting from minority groups. He established PrideNZ.com in a mission to document voices otherwise unheard of and is passionate about continuing to keep stories alive. An accomplished photographer, he owns a set of authentic tintype and cabinet cards which are early photograph formats, showing unique portraits from 120 years ago. He has “600-ish in his collection” and is considering someday putting together poetry or stories centered on these portraits. “I go through them musing about these people and the lives they had. There are still all these implications to think about from making up stories about strangers. ” Watkins says he is looking forward to seeing Farewell a month from now, when he can view it through different eyes. “If it’s moving for me, I have to trust that it will be for others too.” “I have a feeling that I said what I had to say and accomplished what I set out to do.”

      • Mark says he has “blown it wide open” with his late entry
        • 5 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • WAIRARAPA’S New Zealand First electorate candidate Ron Mark is “comfortable” with the 11% he recorded in this week’s phone poll of voters. Mr Mark (right) is in third place behind National (34%) and Labour (20%), and ahead of Greens (3%). He says he is “very happy” with the rapid progress of his campaign in a short space of time. “The National and Labour candidates have been campaigning for six months. I’ve been campaigning for 10 days. “With such a large portion undecided [29%], I think me coming into the fold has blown it wide open.” The survey was carried out on Monday by Whitireia Journalism students, with more than 400 people in the Wairarapa region questioned. Mr Mark says he does not take the poll in isolation. He also factors in the feedback he has received in person and from social media. “A lot of people will vote for their preferred electorate, but stick with the party they’re more comfortable with.” He says he is interested to see what the trend is one week before the elections. The politician – who is also Mayor of Carterton – believes he has the edge over his opponents because he is born and bred in Wairarapa. “I live in the community, I know about farming, I understand the people’s needs. “If they’re betting people, bet on me. I’m their best advocate.” Mr Mark says his track record as a former MP speaks for itself.

      • National candidate says Wairarapa should unite behind Key
        • 5 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • NATIONAL Party candidate, Alistair Scott, is hopeful of winning over a large chunk of indecisive Wairarapa voters. A poll shows 29% of participants remain unsure of which electorate candidate to back at this stage. More than 400 people in the Wairarapa region were surveyed in a poll conducted by Whitireia Journalism students on Monday evening, with a 4.8% margin of error. He says he is surprised by the number unsure, and he is also intrigued at how low the party vote support for the Greens (9%) was in the phone poll. Mr Scott (right), whose business interests in the Wairarapa region include Matahiwi Estate winery, urges those who are uncertain to vote. “Get out and vote. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s everyone’s responsibility to register their vote.” He highlights the risk of electing a Labour-Green-Mana coalition: “One party wants to spend an additional $10 million, the other $18 million.” “Do you want a mixed up coalition of parties, or a strong and united party behind leader John Key? “We know what we want to achieve over the next few years by getting the job done as a team.” Mr Scott has urged John Key supporters to make their votes count in order to keep him in the seat. However, he recognises he has a job to do swinging undecided voters. “I’m the favourite at least.  I’ve still got to convince the other 29% [undecided] to vote for me.”

      • Labour’s McAnulty not surprised by undecided voters
        • 5 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • LABOUR candidate Kieran McAnulty says the high number of undecided votes is hugely encouraging.   Twenty percent of voters polled this week by the NewsWire team say they would give their electorate vote to Mr McAnulty (right) and 17% (72 people out of 409) planned on giving their party vote to Labour. “I’m not surprised at all at the results,” says Mr McAnulty of the high number of undecided voters in the poll. “It clearly shows what I’ve always said, that Wairarapa people will put serious thought into what candidate they want.” “They won’t just vote for the candidate of their favoured party.” Just over one out of five (23%) voters plan on changing their party pick and the same proportion of voters we asked had not decided which party to choose. McAnulty says he finds the fact that 3% would give Green candidate John Hart their vote interesting, as Mr Hart has been asking people to put their candidate vote towards Labour. “People who vote for Hart would only be assisting Alastair Scott in getting a seat.” He is confident of getting the numbers he needs to secure his spot, despite the last National candidate receiving half the vote. “That hasn’t automatically translated into support for the National candidate this time.” In the poll 32% or said they would be changing their candidate vote and 29% are undecided. “It is clear that a large number of those voters are considering voting for me. Otherwise they would have simply indicated they would continue to support [National candidate] Mr Scott.” McAnulty says after door knocking around thousands of homes, two out of five people have indicated their support. “I have a good feel of the mood out there. I know that a large number of National and Green Party supporters are seriously considering giving me their candidate vote.” He says people are looking for someone who is genuine, especially after the recent ‘bad handling of the dirty politics’. He is ‘not at all focused’ on a Labour/Green/Mana coalition. While McAnulty says the “race is wide open”, he notes NZ First candidate Ron Mark will have an impact on still undecided votes. He says running solely as an electorate candidate “absolutely” gives him an edge over his opposition. “Talk is cheap but I’m the only one taking action.” “Other candidates say they are, but they are also hedging their bets by being on the party list.” “I’m standing for the right reasons, I want to represent Wairarapa. I don’t want to use it as a stepping stone to get into Parliament.”

      • Swinging voters may decide Wairarapa
        • 5 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        •   By NEWSWIRE TEAM Almost one third of Wairarapa voters don’t know who they will vote for according to a phone poll this week. Nicky Hagar’s book Dirty Politics is having an impact because many of those interviewed said trust was the main reason for their indecision. The Wairarapa Times Age poll conducted by Whitireia Journalism students found 29% of the 417 voters interviewed are undecided about who to give their electorate candidate vote to. The results show the strongest support for National, with 34% favoring candidate Alastair Scott, and 39% giving the current government their party vote. However this is well down on the 49% electorate vote won by former National MP John Hayes in 2011, and on National’s 47% party vote In the phone poll, 17% of the party vote went to the Labour Party, and 20% said they would give Labour candidate Kieran McAnulty their electorate vote. New Zealand first had 9% of the party vote and 11% of the electoral vote went to former MP Ron Mark. The poll was conducted on Monday, September 1, two days after the resignation of National MP Judith Collins in the fall-out from the publication of Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book. The book was cited as a reason for doubt or changes to their 2011 by some of those spoken to. “Because of Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics I’m changing to Labour,” one voter said. “I’m usually a National supporter but I’m disgusted with the lot of them. With dirty politics and a lack of action for our communities I’m right off National” another respondent said. “With all the rubbish going on I don’t who I distrust the least,” was another. The percentage voters changing from their 2011 vote is significant, with 32% of voters changing their electoral vote and 22% their party vote. The biggest beneficiary in this week’s poll was New Zealand First’s Ron Mark, who picked up 28 of the 101 electorate change votes. Ten voters also said they would change their party vote to NZ First. “Ron Mark is a much more sensible and hard-working person to put in there,” one voter said. Of the 1080 calls made, 417 voters agreed to take part in the survey, which had a margin of error of 4.8% for the electorate of 46,315 enrolled voters. Participants were randomly selected from phone book landline numbers in the Wairarapa electorate.     Notable comments about electorate vote choices were: I really like the NZ First guy (Ron Mark) but I want to get the National guy out, and we have a better chance of that if we vote for the Labour guy. Giving electorate vote to Labour rep because he has got out there and done the work and deserves a chance. Voting for Ron Mark instead of Labour, because I like Ron Mark and David Cunliffe promised to bring in more refugees, and we don’t need more of the beggars. I approve more highly of the national candidate this time round Electorate vote to Ron Marks because feels he can do more for the community. Changed electorate vote to Ron Marks because he is looking for more radical policies.   Notable comments about party vote choices were: My vote hasn’t changed for my party vote, I’m happy with the way that thing’s are going at the moment. It’s been a Labour vote for past 60 years, since I was a student. It will continue to be a Labour vote for me. I’ve always been a supporter of Labour, It’s the way that our parents brought us up. I’ve voted National for the last 60 years but I’m not stuck on them. If Labour had more to offer I’d change my vote. Some people would vote National no matter what they did but I’m a swinger. Yes [my party vote is changing], with all this crap going on. To be honest I don’t get involved in elections. Newswire team:  Tessa Nichol, Ashleigh Manning, Lize Immelman, Francesca Jago, Susan Teodoro, Matthew Lau, Amanda Carrington, Jonty Dine, Nicole Adamson, Finn Rainger, Sarah Wilson, Amanda Herrera, Hayley Gastmeier, Liam Cavanagh YC Lee, Josh Price Eddy Kerr-Hislop, Rachel Rasch.      

      • Mark the most popular choice for voters clear about change
        • 5 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • By NEWSWIRE TEAM Ron Mark (right) is the biggest winner from those who have already decided to change their Wairarapa electorate vote in this year’s election. Of the 101 people said they would be changing, 28 of them said Mark was getting their vote. The Carterton Mayor and New Zealand First candidate received positive comments in Monday’s phone poll by Whitireia Journalism students for the election. “Ron Mark is a much more sensible and hard-working person to put in there,” said one of those spoken to. “Because I like Ron Mark,” said another change voter, of the Mayor of Carterton. The next highest number was 25 people who knew they were going to change but they were unsure. Both Labour Party candidate Kieran McAnulty and National Party candidate Alastair Scott recorded 19 change votes each. Both the Conservative Party and the Greens come in next with  three people reporting that they would be changing their electorate vote to them. Of the 78 who said they would change their party vote, the biggest number were undecided who would receive it – 27. Next is the Labour Party with 13 and then National Party with 11. NZ First also featured strongly with 10. Greens recorded  nine and Conservative Party seven. Newswire team:  Tessa Nichol, Ashleigh Manning, Lize Immelman, Francesca Jago, Susan Teodoro, Matthew Lau, Amanda Carrington, Jonty Dine, Nicole Adamson, Finn Rainger, Sarah Wilson, Amanda Herrera, Hayley Gastmeier, Liam Cavanagh YC Lee, Josh Price Eddy Kerr-Hislop, Rachel Rasch.

      • Pokie machine fight leaves councillors split and mayor refuses casting vote
        • 4 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • THE GAMBLER: $27 million a year is lost on Lower Hutt’s pokie machines. IMAGE: Amanda Herrera THE BATTLE over Lower Hutt’s pokies machines is at a stalemate after councillors were split over a new policy, and Mayor Ray Wallace would not use his casting vote. The council was voting this week on allowing gambling outlets in high deprivation areas to relocate to gambling hubs in central Hutt and Petone without losing any machines. The current bylaw states the number would be reduced from 18 to nine if an outlet moved. Councillors were split between those agreeing with the changes, and those who wanted to see a sinking lid policy on the valley’s 510 pokie machines. The sinking lid policy means when venues close down, pokie machines are removed and the licence is lost. Mr Wallace declined to place his casting vote, stressing the importance of a unanimous vote, despite an outcry from councillors wanting to push through the amendments on the night. “We wouldn’t be moving forward as a council if we’re at a split decision,” he said at the meeting in Wainuiomata on Tuesday. Deputy Mayor David Basset acknowledging the work during consultation period, called the council to trust the policy and regulatory subcommittee’s vote which recommended the council adopt the change. “We need to trust the subcommittee has the best interest for the community. We need to trust them and all the work they’ve put in,” he says. Councillor Michael Lulich, part of the subcommittee, who supported the relocation policy had a change of heart in front of his colleagues. He switched his support during the debate to support the sinking lid policy. Mr Lulich says he would not be keeping in line with his duties as a councillor if he did not support the sinking lid. “I was elected to protect the community. My job as councillor is to protect the community from harm,” he says. Voting against the relocation policy, Councillor Campbell Barry said it merely allows bars to relocate to a new area, “suck the blood out of the community, then relocate to the CBD, entrenching itself and creating a gambling hub”. Other councillors believe the issue is not the Council’s responsibility, and is determined by central government. “Government set’s the rule. It’s central Government’s responsibility,” said Councillor Max Shierlaw. Chair subcommittee Margaret Cousins said the topic of pokie machines in Lower Hutt was a highly complex area with no perfect outcome. “There is no utopia, it’s how we best handle it,” she says. She also raised the issue of the non-regulated internet gambling websites. Figures cited by the council show that $27 million is lost in Lower Hutt each year on pokie machines. Naenae, Taita and Stokes Valley are seen as high deprivation areas, with Naenae alone losing $3million last year on pokies. Mayor Ray Wallace said the council would do more research on the gambling amendment options, and the council would be expected to decide on amendments next month.   Support agencies want sinking lid for Hutt pokie machines Support agencies Programme Gambling Foundation and Salvation Army’s Oasis Centre both support the sinking lid policy, which has been adopted by 15 councils around the country. George Darroch of the Problem Gambling Foundation says the councillors got hooked in by the topic of internet gambling on the evening, missing the point of the seriousness of harm that pokie machines have on communities. He says although the concerns raised about internet gambling are legitimate, they account for only 1% of the 60% of clients seen with gambling issues. “There’s been a strong consistent line by the gambling association that the internet is unregulated and cause for concern,” he says. However Mr Darroch says the facts do not support it. He says the only way to recognise the harm and injustices caused by pokie machines is with the sinking lid policy. “Pokie machines cause rapid and immense loss to communities.” He believes the relocation policy is not going far enough to protect the community and does not minimise the harm to vulnerable individuals and families. At the meeting, Vicki Hirini, public health worker at Oasis Salvation Army, called the council to take the decision seriously. “We need you to be responsible. Protect individuals, communities and whanau,” she said.    

      • Urban hazard for native birds
        • 4 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        •   INJURED BIRD: Wood Pigeon is treated at Wellington Zoo CAR accidents, window strikes, lead-poisoning and dog and cat attacks cause hundreds of native bird injuries in Wellington every year. Megan Sellars, of Wellington Zoo, says in the year to June more than 200 injured birds were treated at the Zoo, with over 380 the previous year. Megan says they see all kinds of injuries. Raewyn Empson, Conservation Manager at Zealandia, says “Obviously being in an urban area is risky for birds.” She encourages people to read the Zoo endorsed fact sheet which helps keep birds safe by not giving them inappropriate food or feeding them near dogs and cats. The guidelines can be found at http://www.visitzealandia.com/feeding-birds-at-home “Be careful on the roads, especially in areas where wildlife is known to be common (ie penguin road crossing areas),” Megan says. “Keep your dog on a leash when in areas where there may be wildlife. Keep your cat indoors at night, when roosting and sleeping birds are vulnerable to attack. “Pick up your fishing line, hooks and sinkers when fishing, as sea birds can become entangled or swallow the hooks.” Injured birds should be kept in a safe place until they can receive proper care. Brent Tandy, Senior Ranger at the Department of Conservation says DOC has responsibility under the Wildlife Act to be the first responders for wildlife. “It’s best to keep us as the first point of call. However, we do encourage the public if they are able, to take it to the Zoo and in general they will.” “The most critical thing is to put the bird in a box, put a blanket in the bottom and over the top, keep the bird in a cool, quiet place and then call DOC”, Brent advises. “Birds don’t exhibit signs of pain or stress very well. The only way you’ll know there’s something wrong is if they don’t fly away, “he says, Megan Sellars reinforces this message . “If you find a native animal that is injured and you are able to catch it, catch it gently with a towel and keep it in a dark quiet box with good ventilation,” she says. Megan advises people to either take the bird immediately to a vet clinic or to call DOC, the SPCA or Wellington Zoo. Wellington Zoo has 2 full-time vets who have post-graduate qualifications in avian medicine.

      • Kids get a kick out of learning karate
        • 2 Sep 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • GOJU RYU: Sensais (from left) Angela Severinsen, Sharlee Athfield, James Burkitt, Vasti Venter, Steve Riley, Rajesh Ravji, Te Whiti Seeds, Sarah Riley, Sharron Riley, lead the children’s karate camp. CHILDREN were inspiring their younger peers to achieve at a karate camp in Karori last weekend. The International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do Federation of New Zealand held their children’s karate camp at the Karori Recreation Centre. Children aged five to sixteen and of varying skill levels were given the opportunity to learn from their peers and develop some deeper skills. Throughout the day, the instructors and the more experienced children demonstrated their abilities to the group. Sensai Rajesh Ravji believes the younger children learn to stick with training by seeing what the more experienced children have achieved. “For them it’s to have fun, see a whole lot of things and then hopefully they’ll grasp something that inspires them to carry on training,” Sensai Ravji says. He says karate is great for kids to learn discipline, etiquette, and a sense of challenge, which can be carried through to other areas of life. YOUNG MENTOR: Seven-year-old Ben Dudding (far left), teaches his younger peers at a karate camp in Karori. The traditional karate style taught not only focuses on strength and self-defence, but knowing when to switch between the two. Sensai Ravji emphasised at the camp about defending first and only attacking when there is no other option. “Obviously we don’t want our kids fighting, but to have the mindset to take on a challenge and protect themselves,” he says. Mother of two, Amanda Dudding, says she worried about her boys fighting when they took up karate, but says this hasn’t been a problem thanks to the Sensai’s teachings. Her seven-year-old son Ben, who she says takes his karate seriously, has learnt better planning through the training. “Ben has really good goal setting, and has a clear idea of how he will get to a blackbelt,” she says. Adele Spicer says she has noticed more discipline and self-confidence in her kids since they started karate. Sensai Ravji says karate is a long dedicated journey, which people tend not to embark on these days. “Times have changed where people learn something for a little while then move onto the next thing, but it’s a long journey. They have to stick at it and keep trying,” he says. He started studying karate at the age of 10 and says he found inspiration in great instructors, and hopes to pass that on to those he teaches. “A lot of people do it because they want to win and get a medal, and be the best, but I enjoyed the training aspect. For me it was training hard and getting the buzz out of that,” he says. The camps are held throughout the country every few years. KIAI!: Children participating in karate camp in Karori.

      • Crowd funding gets serious, but there is still chance of potato salad
        • 31 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        •   PLEDGEME: Anne Guenther. IMAGE: Mike Metcalfe PLEDGEME has entered the world of business equity funding – and even raising $55,000 for a potato salad is a possibility. Almost 7000 people contributed $55,492 to a United States Kickstarter campaign to make potato salad earlier in August. PledgeMe’s Anne Guenther says the potential exists for a similar campaign in New Zealand, which only reinforces the idea behind crowd funding – the crowd deciding what to support. An equity crowd funding license, issued by the Financial Markets Authority this month (August), makes PledgeMe among the first in New Zealand to host campaigns offering financial rewards. Kiwi entrepreneurs will be able to raise capital up to $2 million a year by selling shares on the crowd funding platform. “Equity crowd funding means companies can now raise capital more easily, transparently, and interactively than making a public offering of shares or running a private seed round through friends,” says Guenther in an interview with Techday. However, Pattrick Smellie, from The Business Desk, is sceptical about equity crowd funding. He says start-up companies are not likely to be raising enough capital to really make a difference in their prospects, and managing a large number of small first-time investors will add extra work. The amount of disclosure required of companies seeking crowd-funding is very low compared to most investments. “That’s the idea, of course, and reflects the generally small sums they are seeking to raise and the small individual sums that are likely to be invested by individuals,” Mr Smellie says. He says investors need to recognise what they want to achieve by investing, and that there is risk involved. “If their aim is not to invest for a return but to support a business or cause that they like, then that won’t matter. “But if it’s in the hope of making a return, they would need to go into it with open eyes and an expectation of high risk that they won’t see their money again,” Mr Smellie says. PledgeMe does basic background checks on company directors to ensure they have not had shady dealings in the past. Investors will also need to register in acknowledgement that start-up investment is risky. Ms Guenther says it is not up to PledgeMe to determine if a project is good or bad. “We just check if it’s legal and the rest is up to the creator and their crowd,” Ms Guenther says. She says the other growth area for crowd funding is matched funding. This initiative pairs campaigns with organisations that will match the funding raised. Two campaigns have already successfully worked with matched funding this year – documentary filmmaking, and smart energy solutions in Wellington. There are no equity campaigns currently running. PledgeMe has raised nearly $2.7 million with 644 successful projects since its creation in 2011.

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