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New focus for Kurow photographer
New focus for Kurow photographer

21 April 2024, 10:17 PM

Chloe Lodge always seems to have her sights set on her next step.And with the opening of her studio/gallery/retail store in Kurow’s main street three days before Christmas, the photographer has added yet another facet to her multi-pronged business.Chloe says she measures the success of her new premises by how often she is there. “It's really interesting, because a lot of people are asking me how it's going, and my response is a little bit like, ‘well, I've got no comparison and I had not really any preconceptions of how it was going to go’. “It's such a unique space, and it's in such a unique environment, which has such waves and lulls, and the reality is, that it is going really well, because I'm now too busy to be there!”One of Chloe’s biggest reasons for opening the studio is to have a physical presence - “to bring my work up off social media and into the world” - and to be available for conversation.“Really, for me, it's a conversation starter.” And the conversations she has are amazing, she says.“It's non-specific in terms of audience. So both men and women love coming in, I have engaging conversations with every age . . . I have people who have connections to the area, and may not be there anymore or they've never been and it's their first time.”In-store she sells jigsaw puzzles, postcards, and keyrings, all made using her photography, as well as work from other local artists, candles and locally-made jewellery.Chloe decided to open with a retail component, because it was so close to Christmas, and over the next six to 12 months, she expects the space will continue to evolve.“It's very much a working space for me in terms of separating my work from home, because I've worked from home for 15 years.”Chloe, a solo mother of two, sees the studio as a chance to make some boundaries around work and home life and “show the community that I'm really serious about what I do”.“It's a validation point, really. I'm a career photographer, not a mum with a camera, and sometimes you have to go above and beyond, particularly as a woman, to get that message across.“So, it's that I am here. This is what I do. This is what I can do. You can actually visually see it and feel it.”She also is aware there is no longer a camera shop in Ōamaru, and wants her space to be an elevation of the craft of photography. Large brand electronic stores don’t even sell cameras anymore, but people are taking more photos than ever before, she says.“I don't think I'll bring cameras in, but I definitely might diversify in that way.”Chloe Lodge's Kurow retail space offers her a chance to connect with people face to face. Photo: Chloe LodgeShe enjoys being more accessible to talk with clients about ideas, has plans for an exhibition, and is looking for publishers for “a couple of books”.Chloe loves to tell the stories that aren’t being told through her photography, and this has inspired her to turn her lens to the over 70s, offering them complementary photo shoots.She likens it to an ongoing exhibition she previously ran called A Window on the Haka of photos she had taken on her drives up and down the Hakataramea Valley - a place where the majority of the population don’t get to see and enjoy.The idea came to her following a visit from a local man called Jack, in his 80s, who used to have a fruit and vege store in the building where the studio is.“Everybody knows him and everybody knows his face . . . and he knows everybody . . . and he walked in and he was telling me these stories.”She realised there were so many more people who had interesting stories to tell, and who had lived through a lot.“And yet, whenever I get hired to do shoots, it's generally if someone has a baby, they get really excited, and then the kids get to a certain age, and you stop . . . and I thought well actually, there's such a value and a beauty in the stories of older generations.”She isn’t entirely sure how she’ll run the shoots, but encourages people to book, so she can ensure she is in the studio. She hopes people will bring their older parents and grandparents in.Chloe describes herself as in the “messy space of growth”, although it is already hard to fathom how she finds enough hours in the day for all she has going on.Her list of accomplishments is long and ever increasing, as a content creator for camera brand Nikon, and with global commissions lining up.On top of her photography work, and running the studio, she is also mentoring and teaching other photographers, maintains a strong social media presence, has a podcast - Conversations from the Gap - and is also running a year-long Substack project called A Love Affair with Light, which has drawn in photographers from all over the world.“I'm definitely in that space . . . in terms of, ‘I'm capable of this, I've got this experience, I'm being recognized from pretty much the top of the food chain in photography to, you know, selling postcards in Kurow for $3’.“So, it's sort of, you know, I'm in that space of I have the ability and flexibility to grow, it's just working out how to do it and manage it and all that sort of stuff.”With her Substack account, people can subscribe for free, and they receive a weekly email with the type of light to look for in their photography that week.For paid subscribers, there is a bit more information and support, she says. “And I've got photographers all over at different levels . . . and you can do it with your eyes, you can do it with your phone, you can do it with your camera. Like, honestly, it doesn't matter, but it's really a way of me bringing my best self and offering it to anybody that wants to understand more about photography.”Coming up, Chloe also has a three-day residential masterclass she is running in Kurow at the beginning of May.“It's really a masterclass in being the strongest photographer you can be, with all that you bring to the camera.“It's in autumn in Waitaki, so it's a beautiful time of year.”

New Zealand Passport system upgrades lead to longer processing times
New Zealand Passport system upgrades lead to longer processing times

21 April 2024, 9:22 PM

New Zealanders are being warned to apply for new passports at least two months before they need them.And the wait time for an urgently required passport has increased to three days plus delivery.Current advice from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is that people should allow eight weeks, plus delivery, for a standard passport to be issued.The extended wait times are being blamed on upgrades to the passport system and increased seasonal demand.More than 38,000 Kiwis are currently waiting for their essential travel documents, the department says.The government target for processing passports is 10 days but the current wait-time guideline is more than a month longer than that.In February more than 39,000 passports were completed; this almost halved in March due to the beginning of the system upgrades, which stopped new applications from being made.DIA said the "major system upgrade" was the biggest change to the passport system in over ten years and would stretch into mid-May.The delays might continue as the new system took time to "bed in", it said."In light of that, we are reviewing forecasts of likely demand and output over the next few months."The department's passport team has been plagued by problems since the pandemic when it reduced its workforce and then faced a surge of applications once borders opened - also leading to wait-time targets being exceeded.Wait times improved over 2023, with the average processing time for standard passport applications at 17 working days.Between January and March 2024, the average processing time for standard passport applications was 10 working days.But in April 2024 the average processing time for standard applications jumped to 26 working days.The urgent service also increased to three days plus delivery, up from the target of two days, amid greater demand and system upgrades.However DIA said not all applications were the same and some could go though automatic checks which saw them processed more quickly.It said average processing times were currently less than six weeks, but the upgrades would create outages where passports could not be processed so it was advising applicants to allow eight weeks, plus delivery.The approach was "cautious" and "conservative" DIA said, but admitted it might not have adequately warned applicants about the wait times.It initially said it would be six weeks, plus delivery. After queries from RNZ this advice was changed to eight weeks, plus delivery."We anticipate that average processing times will increase over the next month."DIA said May was usually a big month for applications."This seasonal fluctuation, together with the changes to our system have prompted us to be cautious and advise people to allow six weeks, plus delivery, although in many cases we expect to deliver their passports much sooner."Those who applied before the six-week-wait guidelines were likely to get their new documents within the advertised timeframe at the time of application, but not all."One thing to note is that the timeframes we provide are a guideline, not a guarantee," DIA said."Reducing passport processing times continues to be one of the department's top priorities, and we are constantly looking for ways to achieve this, even as we work to adapt to our upgraded system."We take actions daily to review demand, allocate staff to tasks and enhance productivity."Examples on how we do this include analysing our data, identifying where the bottlenecks are and ensuring we have the right amount of staff working in the right areas."The tech upgrades were set to improve the application process for groups and families and to make the website and processes simpler.The department said it was working hard to reduce waiting times, but it was encouraging people to allow plenty of time.

Trial street closure will inform next steps
Trial street closure will inform next steps

17 April 2024, 11:37 PM

A trial closure of Ōamaru’s Harbour Street to traffic next week, will act as a guideline of what the next move should be, business owner Stacey Pine says.The trial was approved by Waitaki District Council at a meeting in March, and will be the first time Harbour Street has had vehicular traffic temporarily diverted for an entire week.Over the two weeks of these school holidays, this week is being used as a “control” week, while from 9am on Saturday (April 20) to 5pm the following Sunday (April 28) the road will be closed to traffic, similar to when the bollards are up during the weekends in the summer.Monitoring over both weeks will allow for comparison on the potential effects on businesses on the street, Stacey, who owns The Movement Hub, says.“We’re seeing if it’s viable to make it more about the place than the road.”The application for the trial was made by a group of business owners on Harbour Street who, after consulting with other business owners, found a majority supported a trial closure of the street.There are no costs involved in the trial for the council or ratepayers.Council roading manager Kushla Tapper said making Harbour Street a more pedestrian and business-friendly zone has been something that has been talked about for some time, especially during holiday periods.“This is a community-led initiative, and council is happy to support them in this trial,” she says.“With one week on and one week off, we can get a good picture of what works and what doesn’t, to support good decisions being made in the future, enabling communities to do what works for them.”Clothing design company Moke said, in a statement, staff are excited for the trial next week.“It's been so busy down here with tourists for months now, that it can be a bit of a safety hazard to have so many cars coming and going down the street, as pedestrians naturally want to wander onto the street itself to take photos of the streetscape and all our gorgeous buildings.“Harbour Street deserves to be featured traffic-free in all those photos! In a world of social media, we think the flow-on effect of such publicity is worth having to park a little further away to get from the car to the stairs to our office,” they said.However, another business owner on the street, who wishes to remain anonymous, disagrees with the decision to close the street. They support the idea of it being closed at the weekends, but say during the week they receive packages almost daily.“Some of them are very large boxes that I wouldn’t want being carried a long way.“I don’t think they have taken all businesses on the street into account, especially those who rely on the locals popping in and out quickly every day. “There is already a shortage of parking around the area, and then taking away the street, locals won’t come down if they struggle to find parking spaces,” they say.The business owner thought parking should be limited to 30 minutes instead. They had never seen a close call between pedestrians and cars. “I have truly seen more close accidents with the out-back parking, which is where everyone will then be going.”  Dawn Brown of Presence on Harbour thinks the trial is a great idea.“It can be very dangerous on the corner of Harbour Street when it is the school holidays and the period pre-Christmas to Easter," she says.Stacey has several clients with movement and mobility issues, or who have family members in wheelchairs or on walking frames.People have voiced concerns about accessibility to businesses on the street if traffic is diverted, but this will actually make things more accessible, she says.“Having the street closed to traffic means they can utilise the disability parking spaces in the laneway behind Harbour Street, and then use the actual road to get around.“The footpath and cobblestone area are unsuitable for many people with disabilities to navigate. Many of these clients have expressed positive feedback about being able to enjoy the precinct with their family and friends during the trial of pedestrianisation on Harbour Street.”There will be opportunities for businesses and the community to provide feedback during and after the trial.A claim on social media that the trial is illegal, has been dismissed by the council. “The upcoming trial comes under Schedule 10 Clause 11(d) of the Local Government Act 1974 stating we may temporarily prohibit traffic “when for any reason it is considered desirable that traffic should be temporarily diverted to other roads”,” the council posted on its Facebook page.One community member who didn’t want to be named, but regularly visits the street, is also against the closure, saying it is catering more for tourists than the locals.“As a town, do we want this street just targeted at tourists? Or do we want our local, loyal residents using this as well. “We have a lot of locally-owned businesses in the street that rely solely on these people and not so much on tourists.”She also questioned the safety of staff who worked at businesses open late at night, especially in the winter when it is dark, if they had to walk in poorly-lit areas to get to their cars.“I love the feel of the street. The traffic does not bother me, and is beneficial for the businesses that I know working in the street,” she said.In making its submission to the council for a two-week trial, the Harbour Street group highlighted that due to heritage restrictions, the Historic Precinct has no modern-day parking signage. This creates confusion for visitors, and allows ad-hoc parking and congestion.Removing traffic from the area will remove the confusion, while improving safety and enhancing the area for visitors. There is ample parking nearby, which is signposted and easily accessible, the submission said.“Harbour Street is a key visitor destination within Ōamaru’s Historic Precinct. The presence of vehicles during the day has a negative impact on the visitor experience and the impression of Ōamaru as a visitor-friendly destination.”The survey of Harbour Street businesses for and against the closure was conducted by those applying for the trial. Sixteen were for it, with bollards staying up for the full two weeks; four wanted the bollards to go up every morning (9am or 9.30am) and come down at 4pm each day; one wanted the bollards up for a full one-week trial; and four were against the trial completely.The bollards will stay up throughout the trial, but businesses will be able to get permits for vehicle access.It was also decided at the meeting to delegate future decisions on this issue to the council chief executive.  This reduces some of the administrative burden around the issue and increases flexibility for events and activities, but is only for temporary closures.Chief executive Alex Parmley has said he would only make those decisions in consultation with councillors.

How the coalition plans to replace the quickly scrapped Māori Health Authority
How the coalition plans to replace the quickly scrapped Māori Health Authority

17 April 2024, 9:29 PM

By Ella Stewart, (Ngāpuhi, Te Māhurehure, Ngāti Manu) Longform Journalist, Te Ao MāoriThe end came quickly for Te Aka Whai Ora - the Māori Health Authority.Health Minister Shane Reti stood in Parliament to introduce the Pae Ora (Disestablishment of Māori Health Authority) Amendment Act, which was rushed through under urgency.He spoke for six minutes, his head buried in pre-written notes, which he didn't stray from."While the particular version of the dream that the Māori Health Authority laid out is coming to an end today, I want to paint a different dream," Reti said.While it was quick, the bill's passage did not lack fire or emotion.Green MP Hūhana Lyndon described the disestablishment of the authority - only two years into its existence - as the "recolonisation of hauora Māori"."There is a strong feeling in our kāinga and within iwi that we've been ripped off by this Government. Disestablishing Te Aka Whai Ora now … we've never got a chance to see the waka grow and reach its full potential. Te IwiMāori are ripped off. This Government undermines the Waitangi Tribunal. Knowing full well that the urgency is this week, I ask again: where is the justice?"But throughout the process, Reti maintained scrapping the authority and changing to a different path would improve health outcomes for Māori. He acknowledged the "organisational expertise" of the staff at Te Aka Whai Ora, most of whom will be transferred to Health New Zealand or the Ministry of Health."I say to Māori Health Authority staff to please join me, guide me, and help us together to row a different waka towards better health outcomes. This bill enables that."Te Aka Whai Ora, the result of decades of advocacy from Māori health leaders and Waitangi Tribunal claimants, was effectively gone in under 24 hours.Now the dust has settled, how do people feel about the changes, and what will happen next?Photo: RNZWhat was Te Aka Whai Ora and where had it got to?The 2021 establishment of the Māori Health Authority was one of the signature achievements of the previous Labour Government's reforms. After the 2020 Health and Disability System Review, which recommended a reduction in the number of District Health Boards (DHBs), the government announced that all 20 DHBs would be replaced with one national organisation, Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand, and that a Māori Health Authority would be created.Te Aka Whai Ora was to commission Māori health services, achieve equitable outcomes for Māori and monitor the performance of the publicly funded health system.To help the authority and Te Whatu Ora, three other structures were also established: Iwi-Māori Partnership Boards (IMPBs), localities, and the Hauora Māori Advisory Committee (HMAC). They've all reached different stages and have very different futures under the coalition government.There are now 15 IMPBs across the motu, each set up to advocate for whānau and communities in their regions. Essentially, IMPBs and their staff were employed to go into communities and gather the voices of whānau.Whether that be by holding a series of interviews, attending hui and wananga at marae, or door knocking people's homes. That whānau voice was collected to inform decision making around health priorities and funding in their rohe.Chair of Porirua based Āti Awa Toa Hauora IMPB Hikitia Ropata says its six board members meet every six weeks for a full-day."We have a range of disciplines of people on that board. People who have worked in the health system, people who have worked in the education system, people who have worked in Social Development, worked in economic development, who've been senior managers across the public sector. And our kaumatua who has been in the health system on a range of different boards, he's the man who keeps us honest."Under the system Labour established, Health New Zealand was legally required to provide information to IMPBs to support them in achieving their purpose.Localities had a similar role but there were many more of them planned - between 60 and 80 geographic areas. People representing a locality would tell the government about their community's specific health needs so services and funding could be appropriately allocated. There are 12 'prototype' localities already in place, with the remainder meant to be set up by June - but they're now paused.Finally, the Hauora Māori Advisory Committee (HMAC) was also established to advise the Minister of Health and ensure the voices of Māori were heard at all levels of the decision making table. Its eight members were expected to ensure there was a Māori voice at the highest level of decision making in the new system.Dead, dying or saved - what the coalition changedReti's Pae Ora Amendment Bill erases the Māori Health Authority by replacing references to it in law with 'Health New Zealand'. But it also put localities on a pathway to oblivion, changed the appointment process for the HMAC and put the Iwi-Māori partnership boards (IMPBs) on a different trajectory.It's a mixed picture for IMPBs. On the one hand, they are losing a lot of the statutory power they had to influence policy and funding at a national level. On the other hand, Reti seems keen to give them a much broader remit for the planning and delivery of primary and community services.Health NZ no longer has to support the boards but instead is required to "take reasonable steps" to support them and "engage" with them when determining priorities for kaupapa Māori investment.The boards also lose veto power over locality plans and annual reports, because localities are themselves on hold.Chief Executive of Te Tai Tokerau-based IMPB Te Taumata Hauora Te Kahu O Taonui Boyd Broughton says this reflects the general view of the coalition on partnering with Māori."They don't want their legislation to have them beholden to anything Māori. And I think it's safe to say that that's what the change in that language did, it means they no longer have to consult with us, means they can choose who and when they consult with Māori and with Iwi-Māori Partnership boards."I think there was this fear that Māori would hold everyone to ransom. But it was just a discussion. And we absolutely recognise that there's a massive population of non-Māori within Aotearoa, who have different needs, and there was no way that we would not sign off on a plan that was going to cater to them as well as to Māori."Iwi-Māori partnership boards will also no longer be involved in appointing members to the Hauora Māori Advisory Committee (HMAC) - they're all now chosen by the minister.Jacqui Harema is chief executive of Hapai te Hauora, a Māori public health organisation that advocates for the needs of whānau Māori. She is wary of the idea of ministerial appointments."The Iwi-Māori partnership boards have skin in the game, a skin in the communities, they know where things are at. Whereas at a ministerial level, you don't always know what's happening on the ground to be able to make the best decisions of who should be supporting people from the ground."They [iwi] know who can adequately represent them. I'm not sure how the minister is going to get that much intel on people that will be suitable to sit at their board and have a say for them."Photo: RNZHowever, Broughton can see a place for a strong Māori voice in the system, and he remains optimistic."We have seen a willingness for them to continue to get real good input from Iwi-Māori Partnership boards. Whether or not they keep our feedback, which reflects our priorities based on what we've been hearing, remains to be seen."We don't want to just be an advisory if they've already made funding decisions, we actually want to do the whole gambit from the start."Reti seems prepared to do something close to exactly that. In early March, he met with IMPBs in Christchurch to discuss his plans for them. He signalled the boards will gain the powers to commission services for theirregions, something they don't currently have."I want to see IMPBs with the ability to have commissioning authority. I will empower local health decisions and Māori health providers with more autonomy than they have had for some years …You will have a role inplanning and delivery of healthcare in your communities. Local input into health services, especially primary and community services, is good for everyone and a priority for this government."But not all boards are at the same level of development and not all will have the same capacity to provide commissioning services. It is unclear at this stage how much funding will be needed. That's where Iwi-Māori partnership boards are apprehensive."We need to make sure we have the same understanding of what our role is in what we expect as commissioners to utilise the monitoring role, etc, over the whole health funding, not just the Māori health fund," says Broughton."It's challenging. It's daunting. It's a massive obligation, a huge responsibility to be in the position that we're in now. And it's one we've never had the opportunity to be in. So while we do have some sadness about what's come to pass, we do accept boldly stepping into the spaces that we're being invited to, and trying to step further than we're being asked to."While the IMPBs survive - and may even thrive - locality planning as Labour had planned it is likely to be dead. The new legislation postpones their final implementation dates from 2024/25 to 2029/30. While this might not seem like a big deal, a Cabinet paper on the Māori Health Authority disestablishment shows that Reti plans to get rid of them."With the disestablishment of the Authority I do not intend to progress localities. I have instructed Health New Zealand to stop work on localities pending further legislation."Broughton says a large part of his job was co-ordinating those localities."The idea of the localities was to bring forth: What are their priorities? What do they see as their needs within the region, within their locality? And then say, 'this is the resource we've got that currently caters to that priority, here's the unmet need, Te Aka Whai Ora, you need to find the right resource to invest in this'."In Te Tai Tokerau there were seven different proposed localities, with one prototype up and running in Te Hiku o te ika, the far north. The funding for the prototype localities will continue until 2025, Broughton understands."The frustrating thing was that we just got our localities approved prior to the election and we were really looking forward to being able to get some investments, and we really wanted some quick investment into them. And then everything got paused."Photo: RNZIs anyone mourning the end of Te Aka Whai Ora?Whilst the legislation to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora has passed its third and final reading, it doesn't come fully into effect until 30 June. At the end of March, all roles and functions were transferred to Health New Zealand - Te Whatu Ora and the Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora.Earlier this month, more than 300 Te Aka Whai ora kaimahi were formally welcomed back into Te Whatu Ora Health NZ, in a pōwhiri at Pipitea marae in Wellington.Still, Te Aka Whai Ora continues to post promotional content on its social media platforms, as if they are operating as usual.The content, shared via Instagram, TikTok and Facebook, includes interview style videos with Māori health providers, practitioners and patients, sharing their experiences in the health system. The videos are posted almost daily and seem to be a promotional campaign for Te Aka Whai Ora, even though its demise has been clear for weeks.Reti has said that it is not "simply a rehoming of the Māori Health Authority within Health New Zealand and the Ministry of Health"."There will be less funded positions transferred across from unfilled positions especially. These are being covered to date by expensive consultants."Across health, we are reprioritising funds from the bureaucracy and into the front line."Hapai te Hauora chief executive Jacqui Harema says she is concerned that placing Te Aka Whai Ora staff into Te Whatu Ora could stunt progress."Te Aka Whai Ora, although it was operating as a government entity, its philosophy that it had underpinning it was very Māori. So, when you take staff that have different worldviews and just plonk them on another mainstream organisation, where at the end of the day, the overall philosophy of that organisation is a non-Māori view, you know, it's really hard to make any real meaningful progress in that type of environment."Like many Māori health professionals, she thinks Te Aka Whai Ora wasn't given enough time."With Te Aka Whai Ora you didn't have to justify your Māori solutions, because they just got it. Whereas if you get absorbed by another government entity, you're going to have to justify 'actually we know this works because…' whereas with Te Aka Whai Ora you didn't have to do that, because they already understood."While Hikitia Ropata isn't phased by this change specifically she says she is still saddened over the disestablishment of Te Aka Whai Ora."There won't be an Iwi-Māori partnership board who did not feel a sense of loss over the disestablishment of Te Aka Whai Ora. That's sad and that's disappointing, it goes without saying for all IMPBs. But we have to move on. The government is the government."I don't think structures matter. I think the strength hasn't changed."Health Minister Shane Reti Photo: RNZThe coalition's strained relationship with some MāoriFor Harema, it's not just the rolling back of Te Aka Whai Ora that will impact Māori health outcomes, it's also some of the Government's other policies, including the repeal of smokefree legislation."We're not sure where this Government is coming from. Where are they getting their advice? For us, all the social determinants for Māori … well you've seen our stats, we're at the bottom of nearly all of them. So we're actually bamboozled understanding where they're getting their advice from and some of the decisions that have resulted from that."Janice Kuka is the chair of Turuki Health Care and managing director at Ngā Mataapuna Oranga. Prior to the axing of Te Aka Whai Ora, she and co-claimant Lady Tureiti Moxon filed an urgent claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, citing concerns that the removal of Te Aka Whai Ora would result in prejudice in healthcare.The claim was set to be heard by the tribunal, but since the amendment act was passed under urgency, the challenge was never heard.Kuka was also one of the original claimants involved in WAI2575, the Health Services and Outcomes kaupapa inquiry, which recommended the establishment of an independent Māori health authority.After speaking to Māori health providers, Kuka says people are still grieving."At the coalface, I think there's still a bit of confusion, huge disappointment. I think probably more than disappointment. I just felt a sense of disillusion when we were talking to them, like when we thought we had it, now it's gone. Everything we wanted."Ropata says there is some anxiety about what the future holds."Who knows what the minister is thinking. But the minister is party to a coalition agreement and that's got very little to do with us as an IMPB. We have to understand the strategic tactical processes that we might need to build around that but that's fundamentally a political issue. Our eyes remain firmly on our rohe and our iwi and Māori people within our rohe require good services."She suggests health providers must look past political disagreements and stay focused on much longer term goals."The political noise is a distraction from what we need to achieve to get better health for our people. In these times of uncertainty, discomfort and opinion, it is our job as the Ati Awa Toa IMPB to step-up and show leadership.This means using the evidence and information including the voice of our whanau and communities to influence the design and delivery of services that will enable rangatiratanga for our people to get better … We think that is something we can all agree on."We've just got to keep marching forward, despite what government sits there, what changes they make. We've been doing that for 200 years anyway. And actually, as an Iwi-Māori partnership board, we have 300 year strategies, not five-year plans."

School principals on the truth behind truancy
School principals on the truth behind truancy

17 April 2024, 8:05 AM

Tom Kitchin, co-host of The Detail @inkitchnz [email protected] are urging the government to take care in the way truancy data is published, saying if it's just going to be another set of league tables it won't be helpful.Listen:School principals on the truth behind truancyBad parenting - or are there a million other reasons that a child might not make it to school? Ash Maindonald - the principal of Western Heights School, a primary school in West Auckland - says that every principal he speaks to has a litany of war stories they share on the truancy issue. "It's front and centre, it's top of mind for them," he tells RNZ's First Up host Nathan Rarere on The Detail today. Maindonald is sceptical about government moves to address truancy, saying one of the causes of it that is not being addressed is "the huge challenges that our explosion of neurodiverse children are posing in class every day."Rules, regulations, gimmicky red tape aren't going to make a difference for our neurodiverse children."The government needs to take a big look at what they do and what they prioritise and say 'let's forget some of this gimmicky stuff and get some of this real core business stuff sorted' - like ateacher aide in every class, every day, all day'."Then you will find that schools, being the self-managing wonders that they are, they will be able to free up other resources to get out into the community and to get out into the homes and to get those children in, because it's people who have a relationship with those families in our community who are going to be able to have the most success interacting with them." Community involvement is a common theme among the three principals we talked to for today's episode, along with the need for more resources to tackle attendance and truancy problems, rather than 'gimmicks' like traffic lights. The government announced last week an "attendance action plan" to address what it calls a "truancy crisis". The government has a target of having 80 percent of students at school more than 90 per cent of the term by 2030. The most recent statistics (from Term 4 last year) show only 53.6 percent of students reached that target.In the first phase, from Term 2 (on 29 April), there will be a public communications campaign, updated public health guidance on attending school and schools will be made to publish attendance data weekly instead of every term.Further proposals still have to be approved by Cabinet - they include a traffic light system to monitor attendance and daily reporting of attendance data by Term 1 next year.The president of the Secondary Principals' Association is not too worried about the extra reporting requirements. PHOTO: RNZ / Kate GreganVaughan Couillault, who is also the principal of Papatoetoe High School in South Auckland, says it's just a matter of uploading a digital file and exporting it. But he says the change has to be done right. "If they're looking to gather and publish information that is systemic - that is about weekly attendance so that everyone can get in behind the national drive to getting everyone back to school...then the data is useful. If there's going to be a set of league tables... that is unlikely to be helpful.''Couillault thinks daily reporting won't provide the clarity the government is looking for, as there can be a "lag with comms from families".He believes the proposed traffic light system could work if it's targeted at a student, but is worried about targeting it at schools."The heart of it is when schools are unable to intervene any further because the issues around attendance are more societal and systemic, we need to have not only capacity but capability to access external agencies to do the lifting to get those people back to school. "We know that where it has worked - it's a community response using community people to resolve those community issues."They have to know the person who's coming to talk to them - attendance improves when the family are engaged and understand the value of regular daily attendance."The Detail also speaks to Sommerville Special School principal Belinda Johnston, who we spoke to earlier this year for another episode.She says reasons for her students not attending could be because they end up in hospital due to a sickness, as many of them are immunocompromised.She says some families don't want to bring the student to school because those events might have been traumatic and stressful."For some families... where it's not complex - I think an attendance officer can be just like a little gentle reminder. It's not that they never work, but the ones that are hardest to get back to school, it's less likely to work with them because there's usually really good reasons happening in the background that need some proper support."Our families are so stressed and so traumatised that they don't want a stranger banging on their door anyway. What they need is someone to work alongside them and help them through their challenges and work out a way to come back to school."She's calling for funding for specialist staff that can be employed directly by the school. "None of that [traffic light or data publishing] is going to help attendance. All it does is tell you about it, but we already know about it, we don't need to know about it anymore we've already got the facts - what we need is some help to change it."

Poppy Day to represent peace and remember past
Poppy Day to represent peace and remember past

17 April 2024, 3:50 AM

Red poppies will be seen adorning the street this week.Poppy Day, which will be celebrated on Friday (April 19), is an annual fundraiser for the Returned and Services Association and is observed the Friday before Anzac Day (April 25).Waitaki RSA welfare trustee Warren Prescott said Poppy Day is the main fundraiser for the association and provides an opportunity to remember the past.Red poppy pins will be sold on the street and in businesses throughout Ōamaru.Poppies have been associated with battlefield deaths since the First World War as one of the first things to grow following the battles.“The whole fields and everything was just cleaned out and the landscape was swiftly turned into fields of mud, where little or nothing could be grown. But out of the devastation of the First World War, resilient, bright red Flanders poppies grew and flowered in their thousands,” Warren said.“It came after the First World War. It was a remembrance and acknowledgment of what we've got as far as what happened in World War One and hoping that it represents peace and that one should never see war again.”Unlike military medals, the poppy did not have a designated side to be worn on.“As far as the poppy is concerned, you can put it either side, put it in the middle, put it wherever.”In previous years, Poppy Day has raised more than $8000 for the local RSA and Warren hopes this year would be the same.Although Ōamaru does not have an established RSA branch, the welfare trust was “very much alive” and the money raised would be used to benefit ex-service personnel in the North Otago area, he says“We look forward to your continuous support, which is always very much appreciated. And especially knowing that the money raised is staying in the area.“It's incredible that all people from all walks of life appreciate it and are very proud to make a contribution and to wear the poppy.”Warren is grateful for the support of the approximately 70 volunteers - from ATC, ex-service personnel, Lions clubs and people with associations to the services - who will be stationed at New World Waitaki, New World Ōamaru, Countdown Ōamaru, Brydone Hotel and Lagonda Tearooms.

Ministry of Education to cut 565 roles, more than 400 to go at Oranga Tamariki
Ministry of Education to cut 565 roles, more than 400 to go at Oranga Tamariki

17 April 2024, 3:05 AM

Nine percent of Oranga Tamariki staff are likely to be cut completely, and 565 Ministry of Education jobs are on the chopping block.Oranga Tamariki has confirmed on Wednesday 447 jobs will be cut, reducing its workforce by 9 percent.A few hours later, it was announced a total of 565 jobs at the Ministry of Education (MOE) would also be cut, including 225 that RNZ understands are currently vacant.*If you have information, including documents, about public sector job losses please contact: [email protected] Tamariki said that 632 roles would be disestablished including 70 vacant roles, and 185 new roles would be created.About 1900 roles would be affected overall - either changed or disestablished - in the "scope of restructuring work" out of 5100 permanent and fixed-term staff - 37 percent of its staff.'Horrific' impact on staffAn Oranga Tamariki staff member described Wednesday's meeting on the proposal as gut-wrenching.She said all business units within the ministry appeared to be affected, with some facing cuts of up to 50 percent."Everything from HR to system leadership to policy to the evidence centre. Everything's been impacted really in one way or another."The worker said her job was set to be disestablished and she would have to apply for a reduced number of roles.She said leaders at Oranga Tamariki reiterated that the cuts were not a reflection of work ethic."It's just purely numbers, which is such a terrible way to look at it because I work alongside some of the most dedicated, hard hard-working, passionate people I've ever met. And seeing the impact that will have on some of them is horrific."She said it was short-sighted for the agency to say the changes would improve things for tamariki and rangatahi."When they're slashing jobs of people who work tirelessly to improve outcomes for them, it's hard to see how this will be a positive impact on any of the work that we do."The worker said all staff were feeling shocked and uneasy but managers had been supportive.Read more: NZ public service job cuts: what we know so farRoles affectedLikely to be significantly impacted is the evidence centre which produces research evaluation, analytics and insights about tamariki, rangatahi, their whānau and the work of Oranga Tamariki.Of the 632 roles slated to be disestablished, 24 percent are broadly manager roles and a third (34 percent) are advisory roles, slides as part of the job loss announcement show.About 29 percent are from "enabling services functions".Oranga Tamariki's leadership would be disestablished and consolidated going from eight roles to six, and advice and management support for the chief executive is being downsized.The office of the chief social worker is being merged with the professional practice group, where 92 roles are proposed to be disestablished and 44 new ones created.There would be a 19 percent reduction in total number of roles in those teams "from current to future state".The ministry is also disestablishing the Treaty Response Unit and shifting current responsibilities to other areas.The aim is to create clear lines of accountability, simplify the structure and enable faster decision making and empower frontline staff to work together more effectively, according to the ministry.A Flourish data visualizationIn a statement, Oranga Tamariki chief executive Chappie Te Kani said frontline staff were not part of these changes."This change goes to our core as a ministry. It fundamentally moves us away from where we are, towards the kind of ministry we need to be."For the 632 people who may be affected, he said this proposal would be a "hard read"."The change also delivers on the savings targets set by the government," he said."At this stage, these are proposed changes, once consultation with staff is completed, final decisions will be made."Likely to be significantly impacted is the evidence centre which produces research evaluation, analytics and insights about tamariki, rangatahi, their whānau and the work of Oranga Tamariki.Photo: Ministry of EducationMinistry of Education cutsWith more than 500 jobs to go at the MOE, it makes the proposal the biggest single slash to a public service agency so far.A total of 565 positions were set to be axed including nearly 100 regional and frontline roles directly supporting schools.The Public Service Association said its a brutal and dark day for public servants and the children and young people they support.Assistant secretary Fleur Fitzsimons said the proposal included scrapping 87 jobs in the regions."People doing work including supporting children with disabilities, migrant and refugee children, advising schools on accessing speech and language therapy, lifting student achievement and helping ensure schools run smoothly."There was also a net reduction of 38 roles supporting students with disabilities and learning support needs.Fitzsimons said the government promised job cuts would not impact frontline services but "these proposals show that is not true".She said the curriculum centre, which provide expertise and resources to teachers on the curriculum, will see 202 staff cut from its team."While the government has delayed changes to NCEA levels two and three for two years, it's clear that these roles will be needed again from 2026, so it's woefully short-sighted to be shedding all the experience and expertise now."At a time when student achievement is falling, when school attendance is a challenge, where is the plan for education? It doesn't add up."The Ka Ako, Ka Ora/Healthy School Lunches Programme was facing slashes to its staff.Eight nutrition experts and at least six advisors, including the Te Aō Māori advisor and food safety advisor, would be axed.Associate Education Minister David Seymour has previously confirmed the programme itself is under review and is likely to be cut in the Budget.Kiwis expect government to 'cut down the waste' - PMPrime Minister Christopher Luxon said there would be more investment into both Oranga Tamariki and the MOE in the Budget at the end of May, but the cuts were expected."Those are decisions ultimately for the CEOs of those agencies," he said."New Zealanders expect us to make sure that we cut down the waste, we end the wasteful spending, and actually we prioritise our frontline services, our public services."I appreciate some of those roles are vacancies and others will be real job losses - that will be a tough time for those individuals that have been impacted ... you can be confident as we go through the Budget, there'll be an increase in support and resources and funding for Oranga Tamariki and education."Luxon repeated his previous comments that the government wanted "more medical doctors, not spin doctors", but said that was not a reference to the question he had been asked about the jobs in disability and migrant services."I'm not saying that, what I'm saying to you is I'm being very clear with the New Zealand people. And they expect this - let's be clear - there's been a massive amount of bureaucracy that's built up in our system, there has been a huge amount of wasteful spending," he said.In the case of Oranga Tamariki, Luxon said "we have to look after our most vulnerable children"."It's been a challenged organisation but actually making sure those resources are deployed and forward deployed into better caring for those children."More than 2000 jobs have been cut from the public service so far as ministries try to achieve budget savings of up to 7.5 percent.Minister for Regulation David Seymour previously indicated that figure could hit 7500.

Oamaru Hospital worker 'grabbed', held at knifepoint in attempted car theft
Oamaru Hospital worker 'grabbed', held at knifepoint in attempted car theft

17 April 2024, 1:25 AM

A staff member at Oamaru Hospital was held at knifepoint while a man tried to steal her car, its chief executive says.The female staff member allegedly had a knife pulled on her while walking back to her car in the hospital's public and staff car park around 6.45pm on Tuesday.Senior Sergeant Jason Mccoy of Waitaki police said the woman was grabbed by a 23-year-old man."As she unlocked her car, this gentleman asked for her keys and pulled out a knife," interim Oamaru Hospital co-chief executive Andrea Cairns said."It was very traumatising for the staff member, who fortunately ran inside, back into the hospital's emergency department. The man couldn't manage to start her car, so he took off on foot."Mccoy said the man then went on foot to an adjacent car park."He has then stolen another woman's vehicle and driven off," he said.The man was "stopped shortly after on Thames Street by a police officer and taken into custody without incident".Fortunately, neither woman was injured, Mccoy said.An email had gone out to Oamaru Hospital staff informing them of the event and offering support, Cairns said."I did come into ED and spoke to all the staff members that were involved, including the one that had been held at knife-point," she said."She is, under the circumstances, doing remarkably well. As you can imagine, it's quite a traumatising event."All the staff are quite shaken by it - it could've been potentially so much worse, we're just so thankful that it wasn't."There had not been any problems with staff safety prior when heading to their cars before, Cairns said."We do have internal security measures in place, duress alarms for staff that they wear around their necks that alert police if there are any incidents within the building."Unfortunately, in this case, the staff member was leaving the building."The car park was well-lit and staff were encouraged to walk to their cars in groups at night, she said."At that time of the evening, I guess you wouldn't be expecting something like this to happen."The staffer's car was parked in a darker spot within the car park and the hospital had spoken with Waitaki District Council on Wednesday morning about additional safety measures, such as further lighting options, Cairns said.The council was the hospital's primary shareholder and the owner of the car park.Mccoy said the 23-year-old man was due to appear in Timaru District Court on charges of aggravated robbery and driving while forbidden."Police would like to thank the witnesses and members of public that came to the victims aid," he said."There is no place for this activity in our community."

Low lamb prices could see more farmers planting trees
Low lamb prices could see more farmers planting trees

16 April 2024, 10:35 PM

Farmers struggling with low prices for lamb could lead to land use change with more planting trees, an agricultural consultant says.Two years ago, lambs were worth an average of $160 a head. Since then, they have plunged nearly 30 percent, while farmers' costs have increased 20 to 30 percent.The drop is being put down to continued soft demand from key markets like China, as well as an influx of Australian lamb flooding markets.AgriHQ's latest market update said it had been yet another week where little had changed for either lamb or mutton schedules.Senior analyst Mel Croad said lambs were going through processing plants quicker than they did earlier in the year. It was enough to cause wait times at the odd plant but it had not been enough to push processors to change prices.Most companies are paying $6-$6.30 per kilogram in the North Island and $5.80-$6.05 per kg in the South Island, while mutton was sitting at $2.60-$2.80 per kg, she said.Croad said the forward outlook for export markets was relatively pessimistic."China is holding for now but is expected to go backwards a little before we start to see anything resembling a recovery."She said the Middle East was slowing too, which was not much of a shock considering it bought up big in the lead-up to Ramadan, which ended earlier this week."The US, UK and mainland Europe are taking over well enough for the time being."AgFirst's Phil Tither, who has clients in both the North and South Island, said virtually none of his sheep and beef farmers were making money.He said it was entirely unsustainable, because it was meat, not wool, that would make farmers money."If I reflect on a farm I was working on today, a couple seasons ago their operating costs were around 60 percent of their revenue, which means quiet a good level of profitability generated where as this season they're not going to break even."There's hardly any sheep and beef farmers breaking even, that's a major shift on a couple years ago."Tither said as a result, some farmers would drop sheep numbers in preference for cattle, or plant trees."It's more about marginal change, some farms that have been at 60 percent sheep and 40 percent cattle will move to 50-50."Then there will be farmers who completely drop sheep and do something else, it might be cattle but it might also be pine trees, that's a land use many will consider."Tither said one small positive was lamb prices, while low, had stayed the same for the past three months, when normally they would drop between Christmas and now - so they had at least held some ground.

New Geopark manager excited about 'incredible opportunity'
New Geopark manager excited about 'incredible opportunity'

16 April 2024, 3:14 AM

A new general manager has been appointed for the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust.Lynley Browne has moved south from Auckland to replace Lisa Heinz, who has shifted to Wellington.Lynley's role is to lead the trust in exploring commercial opportunities, developing and strengthening partnerships, and building the profile of Waitaki Whitestone UNESCO Global Geopark.She grew up in Christchurch and has strong connections to Otago. Lynley says it is a privilege to be appointed to the role and she is looking forward to contributing her skills and experience.In the past Lynley has held senior management and consultancy roles within New Zealand universities, with Plant & Food Research, and other organisations within the agriculture, horticulture and science sectors.She has also been involved in international collaborations and Government missions and contributed her expertise to a multi-year New Zealand aid project in Vietnam prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.Lynley was officially welcomed to her new role on the Moeraki Marae last month and says it was a proud and special moment for her.“This role is unique. It brings together my passion for the environment, sustainable tourism and economic development, and my commitment to partnering with others to achieve goals in this area. “Our partnership with Te Rūnanga o Moeraki as Mana Whenua is essential, and we continue to build relationships with owners and farmers, wine and food producers, universities here and abroad, those involved in the tourism sector, conservation agencies, our dedicated volunteer community, and many others.“It is an incredible opportunity to be able to build on the outstanding work done by so many over the years to get the Geopark to the position it is in today,” she says.Lynley joins Rachel Plieger, who has recently returned to her hometown Ōamaru from the United Kingdom, and was named new chair of the Geopark Trust in November last year. It is an exciting time for the trust, which is focused on exploring its role as kaitiaki of the Geopark and achieving some ambitious conservation and economic goals, Rachel says.‘We’re very pleased to have Lynley joining this mahi. “Confirmation of our UNESCO accreditation in 2023 provides a platform for us to build on the opportunities that exist to serve our local communities, support our landowners, elevate our Geopark in a global context and share our stories with the world.”UNESCO New Zealand National Commission secretary general Vicki Soanes says the organisation is delighted to welcome Lynley to the role. “When the National Commission established the UNESCO Geopark programme in New Zealand, it recognised the importance of consistent strong leadership, and I am delighted that this will continue with Lynley’s appointment.”Lynley has been living and working in Auckland for many years but leapt at the chance to return to the South Island.“Growing up in Christchurch, we had many family holidays in Otago and further south, and I have always felt a strong connection to this part of the world. “I am really enjoying being in Ōamaru and exploring the diverse Waitaki region and have found the local community to be very friendly and welcoming.”Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says the importance of the Geopark to the Waitaki region can’t be underestimated.“It is central to our efforts to boost tourism and become a community that is committed to sustainable tourism, as well as the Geopark helping to tell our stories to locals and visitors alike. “I’m excited to see the Geopark Trust setting big goals for the future and will do all I can to support the trust and assist with the fundraising to achieve those goals.”

Settled start to the holidays
Settled start to the holidays

15 April 2024, 3:41 AM

As the remnants of the weather system from last week moves away to the east, the first week of the April school holidays begins with settled weather. Although MetService is forecasting cloud and showers at times, there will be plenty of blue skies and sunshine to go around, before we reach a potentially damp weekend. This week begins with short-lived, isolated showers speckled across the western halves of both the North and South Islands, but a ridge of high pressure rules the situation over the country.Shorter days and weaker sunshine at this time of the year combined with light winds means morning cloud will take longer to clear up over the day – if at all.A weak cold front moves onto the lower South Island before dawn on Tuesday, bringing rain about Southland and Otago in the morning, and the West Coast of the South Island in the afternoon and evening. The front quickly loses steam as it tracks northwards and anticipated rainfall totals are well below those seen last week. MetService meteorologist Clare O’Connor details, “The good news for the West Coast is that after this band of rain, they can expect a couple of dry days over Wednesday and Thursday. “Eastern regions are expected to miss most of the rain, although a few showers may crop up as everything moves through. Despite this, no matter where you are spending the next few days you can expect some sunshine,” she says.A shift in the weather is in store later this week, as a low-pressure system tracks over the Tasman Sea towards Aotearoa. The outlook indicates the possibility of a wet weekend over the North Island and cooler conditions in the South Island. MetService recommends keeping up to date with the latest forecasts and severe weather alerts on the MetService website, especially anyone planning to travel over the weekend.

New business showcases 'history brought back to life'
New business showcases 'history brought back to life'

15 April 2024, 2:13 AM

New shop owner Gerry Slessenger thinks he will be a little bit sad every time he makes a sale.By opening the door to his new Thames Street business Past Times tomorrow (Tuesday, April 16) he is offering people a chance to step back in time. The shop, which was previously second-hand store Found, is jam-packed with interesting historic items Gerry has collected for the past 50 years. It is almost like a museum, but with no particular theme. Most things are quite old, and some are really old. All are fascinating.His criteria for each item he buys, is that it has to be “nice and different and unique, or something that I can repair”.“It's just rewarding to bring living history back to life, and that's what I like doing.”Throughout numerous rooms, and on countless shelves, the shop harbours gems such a 1960s ophthalmic chair, a tandem bike, a 1920s ringer, a 1940s Welsh slate dresser, a collection of Kenyan watercolours from when Gerry lived in Africa, and even 300 teddy bears and rabbits he collected for a vintage cafe that never was.“I don't know what to do with them! Make me an offer for 300 teddy bears and rabbits.”A handmade tool box owned by a Royal Airforce carpenter who worked on Spitfires in the Second World War in England. His name is on every tool.Born in the United Kingdom, Gerry moved to Africa aged 19 to work in a bank, and stayed for 30 years.“I'd always had a passion and a love for Africa, and out of that I wanted to help relief agencies and missions up and down Africa."After a few years at the bank, he moved to Nairobi, Kenya and set up a business there, helping various relief agencies “get all their stuff”, in the 70s and 80s.“I was doing the feeding programme in Southern Sudan for them, and bits and bobs like that . . . and so I travelled up and down all of Africa delivering stuff. I flew along the Zambezi [River], driving and dropping off all the medicines to hospitals and the leper colonies along the Zambezi from beginning to end.”Gerry and his wife have three children - two sons and a daughter - and his business pivoted when he received a phone call from the headmaster of one of his son’s schools.“The head of the prep school said, ‘well, if you're supplying all this stuff throughout Africa, can you supply our school needs?’“So I sent a container to his school, my son's school, which was near Lake Victoria, in the Highlands and he was happy, and then he told other headmasters, and then other schools started ordering.“That was Kenya, then Tanzania, then Uganda, then Zambia, then Ghana, then Nigeria, and Botswana, and Malawi, and so on, and then the Middle East, and then the Far East. “So I was doing a lot of work around the world supplying school equipment. And in fact, I still do that now.”The couple have family in New Zealand, so decided to move here in 2015, settling initially in Tauranga. As his parents aged into their 80s, he decided to move back to the UK to be with them.“So I just sold up and went back to the UK . . . and was with them for six years, and that was just lovely, it was a great privilege to do that.”While he was in the UK - because he was only working about four months of the year during school terms - he doubled down on buying antiques and repairing them.Fueled by a country steeped in history, and full of thousands of antique and secondhand shops, Gerry’s hobby became an addiction.A Victorian dental plate and teeth. “I did them up and I stored them in one garage, then another garage, then a third garage, then in a big container and then in another container… until I suddenly went ‘what are you doing? You've got so much stuff!’.” The Slessengers returned to New Zealand, and decided to settle in the South - trying Mossburn out for size, and Gerry brought his collection with him, literally by the container load.He had an idea to buy an old 1910 building which was operating as a cafe, and make it a vintage cafe, but the refurbishment and earthquake costs were too much, so he decided, instead, to downsize his collection.Ōamaru is the best place to do this “because of the nature of the town” and the antiquity, he says.Also in store is a collection of vintage clothes, English and German war uniforms and memorabilia, and even two small children’s suitcases from the Second World War.“During 1938 and 39, the British government were worried about the Germans invading England . . . and so the government decided to mass evacuate all children to the countryside, and each child had a suitcase. And these are the original labels from 1939 to get the child to where they were going.” The boy’s suitcase includes a blazer, his teddy bear, a Government leaflet, his tin toys and cup, a pencil set and original paper.The girl’s has ballet shoes, a Jack-in-a-box, a sanitary towel, dolls and a clock, among other things. It also has letters from her mother and father.Gerry packed the suitcases using items already in them, and by adding appropriate pieces he knew each one needed to be authentic.“These are completely original and unique and you wouldn't be able to replace them. So I would sell them, but I'd have to sell them at a good price, I think, because it's taken me a while to get them all together.”There is a German spinning wheel from 1812 in working order, and a Sotheby’s verified 1676 document from the sale of land in Huntingdonshire.Gerry estimates he has about 3000 pieces, but one of his favourites is a 1787 Grandfather clock, which he keeps at home.He credits his father, who was always doing something in his workshop, for his repair skills. Woodwork is not his forte, but anything else “I’m reasonable at”, he says.“I think my aim is to pass on the gems I've collected over the years to other people who will love and cherish them as much as I've done.“I've bought every single item myself. Looked at it, thought about it, cherished it.”Past Times will be open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.A kerosene projector and slides, dating back to about 1850, with a working gramophone in the background.

Fears sick people will 'soldier on' at work with pseudoephedrine
Fears sick people will 'soldier on' at work with pseudoephedrine

14 April 2024, 11:08 PM

A leading epidemiologist is worried the return of pseudoephedrine to pharmacy shelves this winter could lead to a return of a culture of people "soldiering on" at work or school when suffering with respiratory and infectious diseases like Covid-19.University of Otago public health professor Michael Baker said pseudoephedrine masks Covid-19 symptoms, meaning people could go back to work or school when they are still unwell and contagious.Legislation reclassifying pseudoephedrine from a Class B to a Class C controlled drug passed its final reading last week.Cold and flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine have been banned for 12 years over worries that the drug could be used to make methamphetamine.Medsafe has approved 11 cold and flu medicines containing the medicine, Associate Health Minister David Seymour said on Friday.Some pharmaceutical suppliers have indicated they may be able to supply the first products in June.Baker said when cold and flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine were last available they were marketed "as a way to manage your symptoms so that you could 'soldier on'"."It was the idea that it was good to get back to work. It was part of our culture - we weren't going to let a respiratory infection get in our way of going to school and all these other things."Now we've learned that it's actually a very bad idea, it's antisocial, to go to work, school, and social events, and infect people around you."Hopefully that's a lesson that is now very well-established."Baker said pseudoephedrine also masked many of the symptoms of Covid-19."Not only would people potentially not recognise them as easily as being severe if they started taking them early on in their illness, but they also might feel pretty comfortable going back to work and school and so on, withthese symptoms, when in fact they are still very infectious to those around them."I think that's a potential problem with making pseudoephedrine more available than it is present."Baker said it was natural for those suffering severe colds and flu to want the best treatment of symptoms, but the government needed to consider how the medicine fit in with other approaches for managing respiratory illnesses.Michael Baker. Photo: Supplied / Luke Pilkinton-Ching via RNZ"We all feel miserable [with those infections] and you want to grab the strongest thing you can find to relieve those symptoms. But we have to balance that against these potentially unintended consequences of people whoare really quite sick feeling compelled to go to work or school."He said not everyone can work from home, and those people "may feel quite compelled to take those medicines even when they're actually quite sick and go and infect people around them".Baker said respiratory and infectious diseases like Covid-19 can cause long-term harm and seriously affect productivity. He said the government needed to make sure it had a comprehensive respiratory and infectious disease strategy that included encouraging vaccinations, taking rapid antigen tests (RAT) and self-isolating, to support people getting back to work and school "as soon as they can, and as soon as they can do it safely"."Obviously it's great to have good symptomatic treatment but you don't want people soldiering on as they did in the past, filling themselves up with pills and going to work and school because they have to," he said."Some people may feel very pressured to go back to work if they don't have good sick leave entitlements, or they might feel very compelled to send their kids to school if they're going to be fined for absenteeism without what might be regarded as a good reason."We have to make sure that illness is considered a good reason for children not going to school."

School waharoa artist 'humbled, proud, emotional' at opening
School waharoa artist 'humbled, proud, emotional' at opening

11 April 2024, 2:22 AM

After four years in the works, Fenwick School opened its new waharoa (entranceway) on Wednesday.The Corten steel entranceway represents the history of the Ōamaru school, including its culture, land and learning.Te Rūnanga o Moeraki upoko David Higgins says it is a “privilege and a pleasure” to open the waharoa at Fenwick - the school his father taught at in 1952, and the closest school to the old pa site.Local artist Al Bell worked on the project with influence from tamariki, using their ideas and elements in the final design, while Ōamaru company AcuCut made the design a reality.“I’m very proud. Pretty humbled,” Al said.“It’s a wee bit emotional for me.”Al started his teaching career at Fenwick School, and returned in 2016, after he had retired, to teach for two terms.“It’s such a cool school. I have a soft spot for it.“When I first came here this wouldn’t have happened.”The top panel features three figures, representative of tuakana teina (older sibling-younger sibling relationships) within the school.It also refers to the relationships between teachers and students, older and younger students and older and younger teachers.“That’s probably the key feature of this school,” Al said.To the left of the figures is Te Awa Kōkōmuka (Awamoa Creek) and on the right, Makotukutuku (Cape Wanbrow) and the Araiteuru waka.A rolling wave design is also along the top panel, showing the tides coming and going - a metaphor for the staff and students that come and go through the school, Al said.On either end of the top panel is a manaia, guarding the school.The right side panel shows the academic aspects, while the left shows the school’s traditional sports.“I tried to incorporate things about this school that would stay,” he said.“I’m really proud of it. I’m really in awe of it.”The staff and students had not seen the entranceway prior to the opening.Fenwick School pupil Ricayla Spence, 10, likes the waharoa, especially the top panel.“It adds a really good touch to [the school] because it was a bit bland before.”Fenwick School principal Rodney McLellan says it is a way to show Māori culture.“It’s a significant piece of work in our school.”

Artist faces uncertainty due to consenting issues
Artist faces uncertainty due to consenting issues

10 April 2024, 9:49 PM

Ōamaru artist Luzette Crossan feels like she is being punished for trying to do the right thing, after discovering she will probably need to find another new business premises. (7-minute read)Luzette has a tattoo studio, and has been running art classes and a vinyl printing business, all upstairs at the rear of Thames Arcade since December 2022. But recent steps to add another business into the mix, has brought everything to a halt.Luzette says it was “no-brainer” when she made the decision to purchase Inu Nutrition off her friend, who had moved to Bali, and run it from her Thames Arcade premises.The protein shake and “loaded tea” business, which had been based at Ōamaru Harbour, shut in August last year, and had not reopened due to a change in personal circumstances for the former owners.“I bought it because I am needing to get really good nutrition . . . it's a really good option for me instead of going to a cafe, because I can actually get a good amount of protein in without all the bad stuff.“And from a business perspective, for me it was a no-brainer because it was really a minimum investment to purchase the business - there was no risk.”When Luzette looked into the success of similar nutrition bars across Australasia, where they hadn’t worked out, it was because they couldn’t keep up their lease costs and cover overheads.“For me that was a win already, 'cause I was already doing that. So it was really no risk. It was just kind of like an extra sort of string to my bow.”Her landlord was supportive of the idea, as long as Luzette covered her own costs installing what was required.“So I was like, look, that's fine, that's my baby, I can sort that out, and I just made sure that there was nothing really that we needed to know.”She was told she needed to register the business at the Waitaki District Council. Because customers would be consuming the products, there was still a level of consent required, but it wouldn’t be as “full-on” as a restaurant and a food-handling licence wasn’t necessary.She understood it to be more of a box-ticking exercise.Luzette went ahead with buying Inu and renovating the space to accommodate it, and was getting excited about running the nutrition bar.“It was going to be good . . . and pretty much, I was waiting for a couple of boxes of cups and lids to come in and I needed to go and register at the council. That was the last two things I needed to do before I could open. “I rang the council on the Monday, registered and got a phone call on the Tuesday from the council to say the building that I'm operating in, and have done for a year and a half, is certified for storage only with intermittent entry in and out, pretty much.“So, I've been operating with groups of kids up here and people sitting in here for tattoos for 12 hours, and it's not safe for them apparently . . . and yeah, that was that.”To continue operating any of her businesses, Luzette needs to officially have the use of the building changed, which requires further building consents.She was advised by a person in the council’s building department that she would need a designer and a fire engineer, and estimates it is likely to cost her about $50,000 worth of expenses.Getting a fire engineer to come, just to have a look and write up a report, costs about $1500, she says.“We then know what the report's going to say - you need to reinstate the sprinkler system, you need to fire insulate the floor, you need to make the staircase wider - so it's just, the list just goes on and on.” She approached her landlord about the issues, but he doesn’t want to spend that sort of money when he won’t be earning the returns to justify it. “Which I can completely understand. He's been very kind, but I still feel, the longer the process is going on, the more I feel like he should have known.”Luzette said the person she has been dealing with at the council has also been helpful, but he would not do a site visit so she could show him the space she was working with.“We asked him ‘would you mind coming up to the space and having a practical look with us at the things that we can do . . . because what you’re asking us to do is not a practical solution’.”But she was told that was not part of his job. “For me it’s always been better to have a face to face conversation with someone. Because I think you can really get across your emotions and you can read them as a person and their emotions. I find it really hard to do it over email.“Definitely the message I’m getting there is, 'I don’t want to say anything that’s going to get me in trouble down the track', which is fair enough, I would be the same.”Luzette loves the idea of reclaiming empty retail spaces, and having her tattooing studio, art classes and potentially Inu at the end of Thames Arcade was a way of drawing people into the space who might not otherwise go there.She has put a lot of time and effort into personalising the premises. Her artwork covers the walls, and her tattooing studio is run from a lockable room, so her art pupils can’t get into anything they shouldn’t.She is now faced with the stress of looking for another premises, which suits all her requirements, and the costs of shifting and re-establishing herself, which has affected her physical and mental health.As she looks at other potential places, she is striking similar issues. A space can be “certified retail”, but as soon as she needs to put in any sort of partition, shift plumbing, etc, building consent is required.“Same process over and over again.”The cost of some leases is also prohibitive. One she looked at is four times more than what she is currently paying.“So all of a sudden you're running that risk. That becomes a risk. My whole business becomes a risk that I can't afford and I can't sustain.“So that's pretty much the same story with all the empty buildings that I've looked at in town. All of them,” she says.Running art classes for children is a major part of Luzette's business, which she runs from the Thames Arcade. Photo: Supplied/Facebook“I think that a lot of people don't know. Well, I certainly didn't know, as a normal, local Ōamaru person. I just looked at all the empty buildings and thought, ‘oh my gosh, this is so depressing’, without actually realising the back story about how hard it is to get into these buildings and operate.”Luzette met with council Placemaking lead Cyndi Christensen and Business and Growth Enterprise lead Rebecca Finlay who both agreed it would be a shame to lose the business from its current space and acknowledged the frustration of the situation.Cyndi had been involved in an earlier meeting between the council, some property owners and real estate agents, and there are lots of issues with lots of buildings, she says. “We want to find a way where we can help people through this. We don’t know what those answers are yet, but yeah.”In October last year, the council decided to move into the “implementation” phase of its Transformation plan.Chief executive Alex Parmley described it at the time, as an approach that is “people-centred, that builds relationships, favours depth over breadth, and engages diverse communities”.Cyndi said as part of Transformation, the council is looking at changing the way building consent inquiries are handled.“You would have, like, a case manager assigned who would make sure that you were speaking to the right people who were able to get you the outcomes that you wanted. It's just a shame that we're in this situation now.” Luzette has been reluctant to speak out on the issue or ask for help. She is not one to complain. “I just want to do my thing and earn money for my family, and have a service.”But the three agree it is businesses like hers, which provide services that can’t be bought online, that will keep people coming into the town centre.Things have reached the point where Luzette is starting to notice the financial impact of not being able to run her business as she usually would.“The point where I'm at now is at the end of term, which normally means that I start working hard on signing up for art classes for next term. But because I can't be here anymore, I can't do that. “So now I'm looking at about a $3,000 loss for next term because I can't operate that part of my business.”The council has not given her a time frame for when she needs to stop operating by, she says. “But now that I know, I can't not know.”She has also held back from advertising school holiday art classes, because she is worried it might not be safe.“Normally school holiday programmes are a lot busier. There's more like 20-odd kids up here for each class, and it’s just too many for me to feel safe now, like it's really weird because I've, I've had it so many times before and it's been fine.”Cyndi says what Luzette is going through is not uncommon, and is the perfect example of a situation where the council needs to work in a more “transformational way - more efficient and not as cost-consuming as in the past”.There are a lot of things councils have to do because of government regulations that are out of its control.“It’s how do we make the process function better, because the impact is so much bigger than our individual teams. You know we can only make the CBD revitalised if we’re all working towards that together,” Cyndi says.“We want to work collectively and collaboratively with the community, and we have to look at all these things - it’s not just about the shiny, fancy stuff - and there may be some things that we can’t change, but I think there’s great value and there’s certainly a strength in being able to have a conversation to understand the other side of it.“We’re on each other’s team, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like that,” Rebecca adds. “Everybody has a specific role at council and that’s to a degree what Transformation is trying to fix, is make sure those roles have that connectedness between them, so that we’re achieving that outcome, which is like Team Waitaki.” The Economic Development team’s role is to make sure there is economic vibrancy, growth, and to ensure businesses are thriving and sustainable, she says.“Then obviously our colleagues in building or planning - they have to protect the ratepayer and they have to protect the assets within the community, but it’s working out, 'well what can we do from an economic development perspective that’s going to work more collaboratively with those departments'.“The other thing I think we need to recognise is, lots of these departments are enforcing a central government mandate through the local government.Rebecca says she thinks one of the pieces of transformation is enabling everybody at council to feel confident and secure in their roles. “That, kind of, feeling of fear of mucking it up is massive.”Following on from Luzette’s meeting with Cyndi and Rebecca, there are plans for a round-the-table discussion between her, her landlord and the necessary people at council, to try and reach a resolution, Cyndi says. So watch this space.

Rain, wind warnings issued for most of NZ
Rain, wind warnings issued for most of NZ

08 April 2024, 3:48 AM

MetService is forecasting a significant weather event to unfold over the coming week, which looks set to bring heavy rain and strong winds to many parts of Aotearoa New Zealand, including Otago and the Canterbury High Country.The heavy rain is expected first over the western South Island from tomorrow (Tuesday), then spreads to the eastern South Island midweek, reaching the North Island by the end of the week.This sharp pivot will be a marked change after what has been a relatively calm few weeks, a media statement from Metservice said.The weather system moves onto Fiordland early tomorrow morning and becomes slow-moving in Westland on Wednesday and Thursday, delivering a lot of rain to the area. Numerous weather watches and warnings have been issued for heavy rain, including for the headwaters of Canterbury lakes and rivers for the 30 hours from 12 noon tomorrow to 6pm on Wednesday.Rainfall amounts may approach warning criteria within 15km east of the main divide. A strong wind watch is also in place for the same period, in the Canterbury High Country, MetService meteorologist Mmathapelo Makgabutlane said.“The ranges of the Westland District south of Hokitika, which are under an Orange Warning, can expect rainfall amounts of 600mm to 800mm between Tuesday and Thursday, with lesser amounts near the coast.“This is a significant heavy rain event, and we will be keeping a close eye on developments over the next 24 hours as there is the potential to upgrade to a Red Warning,” Mmathapelo said. “Rain of this amount may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous.”Other areas in the South Island are also under Orange Warning or Watch, which may be upgraded in the coming days. The rain extends northwards to the top of the South Island from Thursday and onto the North Island Thursday into Friday.“While it’s still early days, there is the potential for heavy rain for places like Tasman, as well as the central North Island. In fact, the whole northern half of the North Island, including Auckland and Northland could be in line for a period of heavier falls as the system moves through on Friday,” she said.The system also spreads rain eastwards to potentially affect Southland, Otago and Canterbury by the end of the working week.“This is an evolving situation and is a large weather system with a widespread reach, and anywhere under a Watch, Warning, or highlighted in the Severe Weather Outlook should brace for a wet few days,” she said.Several other areas across the country may be in line for some strong winds this week, and large waves across the western and eastern coastlines of the South Island are likely on Thursday and Friday as a result of the strong winds and low pressure associated with this weather system combined with the King Tides.“Wherever you are in Aotearoa New Zealand this week, be sure to keep an eye on the weather, as this system will affect all parts of the country to varying degrees,” Mmathapelo said.

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