French PM Apologises Over Bastareaud Affair

Last week, the above headline finally satisfied, hopefully, the nation’s profound indignation over the injury a rugby player’s lie had caused to New Zealand’s international reputation.

Meantime, here are some of the other headlines from last week that our political and media “powers that be” — guardians and reporters of the nation’s brand reputation — should truly have been concerned about:

Popular swim spots spoiled by bacteria
[Issue: Of 300 popular swimming spots tested regularly by councils over the past two summers, just 58 per cent were suitable for swimming almost all of the time. What about NZ’s “clean, green” image?]

Principals in threat to boycott standards
[Issue: The leaders of our primary schools don’t want comparative performance data on their schools made public. Hey, we can’t have kids and parents in the non-performing schools realise they’re getting screwed.]

NZ doctors earn 35% less than in Australia
[Issue: NZ is disadvantaged in the international market for senior doctors. Don’t worry, we’ll find somebody to treat you … eventually.]

Delay on water quality criticised
[Issue: Government decides to delay by three years requirements for councils to improve the quality of drinking water. Not to worry, there’s plenty of beer and wine.]

$5 Million to avert heart wait-list deaths
[Issue: Surgical waits in Auckland exceed guidelines. New Zealanders have a 35% greater chance than Australians of dying within eight years of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.]

Fears for NZ’s image after $54 million budget cut
[Issue: The cuts are to the Department of Conservation.]

$28,000 fine for polluting rural lagoon
[Issue: An exception … or just another dairy farmer?]

Sure, there might be more to some of these stories than the headlines indicate.

But still, why can’t we and our leaders — so readily appalled and obsessed by a bogus bashing charge by a rugby player — get half as upset about real issues like these … Are we jeopardizing our “clean, green” export-supporting image? Is education about protecting schools and teachers, or about educating kids? Is NZ’s medical care and/or its medical profession in a death spiral?

Which headline bothers you most?

Tom Belford

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  1. Your negatives do not read so well Tom, and all the bright young students at our various colleges would agree with you,.and show concern, Yet much Goodwill is more than alive in our communities,and hope abounds Tom keep the focus "on our warts and all " Improvement is still possible from a nation where aroha with concern still abounds. Aotearoa can still acheive in all fields of endeavour. (but we seem to need a challange with encouragement ,(as most of us too busy surviving mundane day to day chores))?

  2. Re: principals objecting about comparitive league tables.

    It's a given fact that schools in lower socio-economic areas will not perform as well in national standards as those with well-off students. There is a strong relationship between family socioeconomic status and student achievement both in New Zealand and internationally. All reputable researchers will admit that education has not yet been able to compensate for social inequality.

    So league tables of national standards results will do little more than remind parents of the social geography of their local area. Low decile schools will come out badly however well teachers are teaching at such schools.

    League tables comparing schools will further encourage the "white flight" from lower-decile schools. And this government, with its obvious interest in bolstering private schools – having given them $35 million in the budget – will facilitate the further degrading of state funded schools.

    National Standards will also reduce the quality of teaching as teachers will teach to the test.

    The primary principals are doing the right thing in standing up against this.

  3. re: Maxine Boag on League Tables

    The Education Review Office does continue to hold the view that schools should make a difference, particularly for students from "low socioeconomic" family backgrounds.

    National Standards are intended to be "goals" which should be achieved by the majority of students. The "quality of teaching" involves HOW students are taught, rather than WHAT they are taught. The work of Professors John Langley and Russell Bishop does not support the contention that "Low decile schools will come out badly however well the teachers are teaching at such schools." In fact the whole focus in Education at the moment is based on the difference good teachers can make.

    Ian McIntosh

  4. OOPS, a correction to my last post on "League Tables". For "John Langley" (who has, and continues to make, a large contribution to Education) please substitute "John Hattie". Thanks to Janet Takarangi; it was while reading your contribution that I discovered my error.

    Ian McIntosh

  5. In recent days I read your Living off the Land article and the HDC proposed plan change 49 – Rural Zone Subdivision review.

    Some points that struck me;

    HDC LTCCP statements you highlighted “our immediate priority is to manage our plains resources and urban development appropriately” or “ Developing a new District Plan to preserve the productive capacity of the Heretaunga Plains is our immediate priority.” All very laudable.

    I then read the proposed plan change 49 and the first change is to extend the term of lifestyle creation from 3 to 5 years in the rural zone. Assuming our population continues to increase and incomes improve, there will be increased demand for improved lifestyle choices. Sure, keep the houses off the Plains zone but isn’t the logical place to put them on our less productive hillside areas ie. rural zone. I suggest to help protect the Plains zone, the rules for the Rural zone should be reduced rather than extended from 3 to 5 years for lifestyle creation.

    Another change is the reduction of lifestyle site from 1.5 ha to 4,000 m2 – a move in the right direction. Currently the rural residential “farm park” and rural zones do offer alternative options but the “farm park” procedures etc. are far too onerous to allow creative smaller clusters in the rural zone. In my experience, a minimum Lot size is very inflexible whereas an average Lot size rule allows greater creativity in utilizing the best attributes of the landscape when subdivision design is being considered.

    NCC foresight in permitting greater intensity of subdivision on the Taradale hills ie large Lot residential subdivision and outcomes being achieved, should be investigated by the HDC as a possible blueprint for better use of the rural zoned land in certain areas (rather than a 1 rule fits all approach).

    Thank you for the opportunity.

    Peter Clayton

  6. How about the Folic Acid headline – that irks me no end. Yes, there is evidence that shows Folic acid benefits pregnant women, but hello – there is half the population that will never be pregnant and then there is the too old and too young of the female gender.

    So for 20 – 30% of the population that will benefit, 100% will be exposed to Folic Acid in bread just to satisfy an agreement that one of our Half Baked Officials reached with the Australians. We have to do it because of the Agreement?

    So what happens if we renege – the Ockers will invade us or will they drop a nuke on us or will they send back all the Kiwis living in Bondi – Give me a Break.

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