Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"The blame must stop if we're to break the cycle of family violence"

It's a shame Maanki cannot put her full name to her writing. Nevertheless, that does not detract from the compelling nature of the words. In amidst so much media dribble and dross of late, this is a gem:

OPINION: I am Māori. Tuhinga o mua Ngāti Hāmua a Te Hika a Pāpāuma. Ko taku iwi Ngāti Kahungunua a Rangitāne.

I am Scottish, I am English, I am a New Zealander. I am not defined by the colour of my skin.

I am a victim.

I did not choose to be a victim.

I am a victim of my father's hand. My father was brought up on the Pahiatua Marae. His mother was young, she became a victim of a kaumatua's violence. He was conceived by violence, a tamaiti (child) of rape. The rapist was a family member.

My father was taken from his mother, away from his whānau, his iwi and his marae after his father was incarcerated. He went on to live in state care until a foster family was found. My father was taught violence by the people who were supposed to protect and nurture him. Anger followed him, the violence forever ingrained in his heart. He knew right from wrong, he had a choice. He did not stop the cycle of abuse, and he punished me for the actions of his past.

I was a child when it started, an adult when it stopped. Like his father, he was incarcerated for crimes of child abuse, violence and rape. I did not choose to be a victim, but I chose not to harm others. I broke the ongoing cycle of generational abuse. The cycle of abuse that was carried through three generations of Māori stopped with me.

"Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear, take care of what they feel. For how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa." Dame Whina Cooper. Mohio ana ahau ko wai ahau, e mohio ana ahau ki te wahi e tu ana ahau. Me puta te huringa – I know who I am, I know where I stand. Change must happen.

At the recent Justice Summit in Wellington,  Cabinet minister Kelvin Davis shared these words: "As Māori we need to take care of our own, rather than closing our doors. We need to face up to and free ourselves from the violence that many of our people, our whānau, struggle with."

If we want to see fewer Māori in prison, our whānau broken apart because dad is in prison and mum is now in rangi (heaven), we must free ourselves and our whānau from the increasing level of domestic violence and abuse in our homes. The drugs must stop, the high level of drinking and violence among our own must be gone.

How many of our fathers are incarcerated, because their fathers taught them the only way to deal with anger was violence, to punch their way through a situation. How many of our whānau have lost a mother, a child, a brother from our people's own hand.

The blame needs to stop. It is not the police, the system, the state, the Government, the justice system or even the Pākehā who made a man beat his wife to death, to rape an innocent stranger, to murder their own child or to sexually abuse a daughter or son.

No, it was a choice, a choice made by a perpetrator. Māori make  up 51 per cent of the male prison population, and 60 per cent of the female muster.

No child asks to be harmed, nor to watch their dads beating their mums. If we were all true to our Māori traditions, our tikanga respecting the mothers of our children, our whānau, our honour, keeping our whānau safe would be paramount. Māori need to take an honest inward look at their own ongoing behaviours first. Our children need to have the chance to grow up safe, educated and free from violence.

Davis went on to say: "We need to do something together to create a different future for Māori and for their whānau."

This cycle needs to stop. The men, the fathers, the grandfathers, the elders in prison who have abused their own need to stand up, take ownership and responsibility and say "Enough". No more blaming everybody and everything for the crimes offenders have chosen to commit.

Prison is a punishment for those who have committed crimes; prison is not based on the colour of your skin. If you are sent to prison it is because you committed a crime, a choice made only by you.

To see a future with fewer Māori men and Māori women in prison will take more than talks and hui. It starts with Māori, rethinking and reteaching the respect, the whakaute, to our children and to one another. It will be a hard, long road but one that will benefit out future generations, to help our tamariki grow not as offenders, but strong, happy iwi that will have a positive influence on future generations to come.

Hapaitia tea ra tika pumua ai te rangatiratanga mo nga uri whakatipu – Foster the pathway of knowledge and strength, independence and growth for future generations.

* Maanki is a victim advocate.

 - The Dominion Post

Dear Editor

At last. Someone who gets it. Victim's advocate, Maanki (Blame must stop if we're to break family violence cycle, DomPost September 26) understands that offenders have to own their offending to stop their behaviour. Blaming extraneous forces for personal violence prevents this from happening. Sentencing discounts for cultural background conflict with this reality. Whether the offender is Maori or non-Maori, only they can decide to change. Making excuses for why people offend only makes it easier for them to continue.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Benefits are too low?

The Child Poverty Action Group said today that core benefits need to rise by 20 percent (doubtlessly timed to guilt-trip JA telling America she wants NZ to be the best place in the world to raise children.)

Below are two slides from my recent presentation to the 2018 ACT conference. I was at pains to point out that these are not 'apples with apples' comparisons but intended to provide context for the claim that benefits are too low.

NB. The second slide is taken from Statistics NZ. In Auckland the median rises to $1,010 weekly.

I use these slides not to argue that benefits should be cut but to explain why single parents default to and get trapped on them, along with their children.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Discounting sentences

Judges can discount a prison sentence due to "Maori cultural background and deprivation". In my paper regarding Imprisonment and Family Structure I briefly touched on the possibility (and evidence of) bias working against Maori in the justice system. I do not reject the notion. But this is clearly bias working for Maori. In the case outlined in today's DomPost a Maori female stabbed her partner multiple times. She received a 30% discount on her sentence for cultural reasons. The Crown appealed because it considered the discount too large.

The High Court ruled against the appeal.

"The judge [Justice Whata] noted the disproportionate number of Maori imprisoned and said the effects of colonisation were well-documented."
So it's official. This is what we tell Maori criminals. That at least some part of the blame for their offending is actually the fault of Pakeha ancestors. Who by the way are also their own ancestors.

Here's a thought. The quickest way to reduce the prison population would be to discount sentences up to 100% due to cultural background. Don't laugh. Nothing can be ruled out in this creeping, twisted travesty of apologism.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Jacinda's latest speech

I could find nothing to say about it.

But ACT has and it's worth repeating:

What Did She Say?
Ardern wants a growing economy that is working for all of us, wellbeing for New Zealanders and their families, and a country we can be proud of....

How to Tell if a Policy is Absurd
If the opposite of a policy sounds absurd, then the policy is absurd. Who would campaign for a shrinking economy that doesn’t work, misery for New Zealanders and their families, and a country we should be ashamed of on the global stage? The opposite of ACT’s policies are more state control in education, heavier handed regulation of the economy, higher levels of taxation and Government expenditure, and more Government ownership. All inferior opposites of ACT’s actual policies, but not absurd.

Friday, September 14, 2018

"Unobtainable dream"

"There was a time, in the not-so distant past, when housing was affordable and buying a house to raise your family was not the unobtainable dream it is today."

Source for both.

Is the text really an objective reflection of the facts?

The increase through the 1970s and 80s was significantly driven by State Advance loans and the ability to capitalise on Family Benefit. That particularly helped Maori and Pacific families with typically more children. But the boon for large families has also turned into a negative factor in that one family home cannot be passed to 6 or 7 children nor shared inherited wealth stretch to affording home ownership.

But a 10% fall in home ownership over thirty years is not an irretrievable disaster. Neither is it unique to NZ. The UK, the US, and Australia all have similar current rates and all have fallen over the past decades.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

WINZ: People believe what they want to

“The Ministry … gets most aspects of service right, for most clients, most of the time. Most clients we spoke with said that good case managers had made a real difference to their lives. When something goes wrong, the Ministry provides clients with good opportunities to seek redress, and the Ministry works well with those who advocate on behalf of clients.”
                        Office of the Auditor General, December 2014

April 2018, MSD Minister, Carmel Sepuloni says the culture at Work and Income is “toxic”:

“The culture under National was to make it as difficult as possible for people to be able to access what they were entitled to at Work and Income, and now our job is to turn that around.”
                              Carmel Sepuloni, Newshub, April 28, 2018

Clearly they can't both be right. 

But people will believe the one they want to. Like this guy writing in today's NZ Herald about what NZ would be like if National had won the election:

 "Beneficiaries would continue to have it pretty bad, with tough sanctions remaining and a mentality from WINZ to cut benefits where possible."
He has ignored that National increased benefits for those with children.

According to MSD  “Exit rates for clients without children are outpacing those for clients with children...the gap is continuing to widen over time . This correlates with changes in benefit policy that increased income for clients with children.” People staying on a benefit when unskilled work is plentiful doesn't point to having it "pretty bad".

He has also ignored that sanctions are entirely avoidable.

People believe what they want to and I am no exception, though I cast around for various evidence and weigh it up. The truth, at an individual level anyway, usually lies somewhere between two extremes.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Helen Clark lives in another world

"Men who hit women are really expressing a view, a feeling, that women are inferior to them, and they can do whatever they want," Ms Clark said.
What, then, are men who hit men feeling?

What are men who hit women in self-defense feeling?

Does she understand that outward behaviour is often a culmination of inward anger?

Does she have any idea what Alan Duff's theory of self-hatred means?

Has she any idea about men who are at their lowest ebb ever? Or, in her world, can males, by virtue of being males, never reach the lowest ebb?

I wish she would go away.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Top ten public housing areas

Below are the top ten areas for public housing in New Zealand. I have graphed the area followed by the region it lies in. The highest public housing area is Christchurch City but that is mainly because it holds most of the region's - Canterbury - share within the city area. The Auckland region, conversely, has over 30,000 leases but they are spread over many areas. What surprised me was that Lower Hutt City has the 4th largest number in the country.

There are 67,228 current leases and the government plans to add a further 6,400 by June 2022.

They'll need them the way they are pissing landlords off.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Driver licensing programmes show positive results

Having just reflected on the cost of reviewing welfare and whanau ora at $2.9 million, here's a better use for that money. Driver licensing programmes:

Just released research shows that these programmes are having a positive effect:



We compared a group of driver licensing programme participants who completed the programme in 2014 and 2015 with a similar group in the beneficiary population. We found that, over 18 months:

- 30 percent of participants held a full licence compared with 17 percent of the comparison group
participants spent an average of 20 additional days in employment (while off benefit), relative to the comparison group

- participants earned an average of $3,000 more from employment, relative to the comparison group
participants did not spend more time being independent on welfare assistance, suggesting participants continued to receive some form of income assistance while participating in the programme

- while having a driver licence may help people access education, there was no impact on people’s education outcomes

- there was no observed difference in the rate of offending or time spent in the Department of Corrections’ system between the two groups.

- While there is a correlation between participating in a programme and these outcomes, we cannot draw a conclusive direct causal effect from this analysis. There will be other factors, including participant’s individual motivation, which could impact their outcomes.

We continue to fund driver licensing programmes for people on a benefit. This evaluation confirms that there are likely employment and income benefits for people who complete the programmes.


A cost/benefit analysis may find these programmes wanting, but their outcomes are still more worthy than redundant reviews.

The numbers going through them could be quadrupled or more.

Welfare review alone is costing over $2 million

TV1 says the government is spending $170 million on reviews. The government has refused to comment beyond saying it is far, far less.

I can't speak for the rest but I do know that the welfare review is costing $2.1 million.

The estimated total cost of the group for the welfare overhaul for 2017/18 and 2018/19 is $2.1 million. 


In a related area, the Whanau Ora review is estimated to cost between $700,000 and $800,000.

Context: $2,900,000 would cover over 7,500 winter heating payments for families with children.

Damien Grant: Prison does not change you – I know from personal experience

Opinion from today's Sunday Star Times:

OPINION: It is hard to go to prison in New Zealand. It took me several attempts but I was finally successful and enjoyed a delightful time touring our penal archipelago in my twenties. Sadly, despite this hands-on insight into the criminal mind, I was not invited to the Justice Summit held in Porirua.

From the media reports over-representation of Māori in custody was a major focus. There are many reasons given for this. Colonialism. Racism. Poverty. The lack of free-to-air Rugby.

A wise person will look beyond race and seek a better explanation. Thankfully we have the dedicated researcher Lindsay Mitchell who has done just that. In a report for Family First published earlier this year she pulls no punches: "A sharp increase in unmarried births during the 1960s correlates markedly with a later rise in the imprisonment rate. Ex-nuptial births made up 79 percent of total Māori births in 2017. For non-Māori, the corresponding figure was 34 percent."

There are a number of causes of this disruption of the traditional nuclear family. Several government agencies point to the rapid urbanisation of Māori in the post-war period but another reason, affecting all races, has been the expanding availability of welfare that makes being a solo parent economically viable, though not especially comfortable.

Very few people's fertility decisions are influenced by the economics of welfare, but some are, and a disturbing number of their children end up in prison. Today there are nearly 59,000 people on a sole-parent benefit, 10,000 of them under 24 and almost half of these are Māori.

That's the cohort where the next generation of prison inmates are coming. Welfare is handed down from parent to child like a poisoned heirloom and nearly 5000 benefits a year are cancelled because the beneficiary is entering prison.

The cause and effect is obvious but Andrew Little and his coterie of advisors only want explanations that are politically palatable. They will not make the hard choices required to get young people off the welfare addiction that is a key factor in our rising crime rates.

I ended my penal tour, after 16 months, no better or worse than when it began. Prison does not change you. It is not a laboratory for crime and it offers no paths for redemption for people who do not want to alter their life's trajectory. It is simply the price we pay for a failed welfare experiment that we lack the courage to end.

The decision to downgrade the Waikeria mega-prison is a mistake. We will need more prisons in the decades to come, not fewer.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Suicide rate continues to increase

The coroner has just released suicide statistics for the period June 2017 to June 2018.

A stand out is the increase in females who have suicided, up by 44 on the previous year.

And I can't help but notice this coincides with the sharp rise in female prison inmates.

Why are (some) women getting more desperate? Is that even the right question?

I've graphed the yearly (June to June) rate:

Monday, August 20, 2018

Half of Maori prisoners are Ngapuhi?

That's the claim by Minister for Corrections, Kelvin Davis. The question mark is mine. RNZ reports:

Mr Davis said Māori make up over 50 percent of the prison population, and he wants that number reduced.
"Of that 50 percent, half again, are from Ngāpuhi, my own tribe, so this is personal.
That's news to me.

At June 2015 only half of Maori inmates expressed an affiliation.

Of these 24% are Ngapuhi.

At the 1999 prison census Ngapuhi made up 17% of sentenced prisoners and 20% of rendered prisoners. So the percentage is rising.But not fast enough to be at half in 2018.

There may be many more prisoners who express an affiliation with Ngapuhi but not as their primary. Also many who have an affiliation but clearly aren't expressing it.

But what does Mr Davis know that the rest of us don't?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Matters regarding Family Violence

There's a report at the NZ Herald about family violence. It's come from NewstalkZB:

Figures released to Mike Hosking Breakfast under the Official Information Act show police launched 121,739 thousand family violence investigations last year - or 333 a day.....Yet as those numbers increase, the number of apprehensions and prosecutions is trending down with 16,764 prosecutions made last year – down more than 2500 from 2008. 
I had to read the report twice cause I couldn't understand the point they were trying to make. Why?

Look at the table they made:

Coincidentally, directly before reading this I was chewing through a research report into Pacific family violence.

Amazingly reference is made to 'family structure' being a contributor:

Changes in traditional family structures and dynamics that may contribute to violence in Pacific families include an increase in single-parent households and the absence of
fathers (and male role models) within the immediate family structure (Pacific Advisory Group, 2009). 
That's highly unusual from anything funded or published by MSD.

Also of interest, the Pacific authors make a point not often heard that 'Pacific people' are grouped together but comprise seven different island groups that do not necessarily share homogeneous cultural or belief systems which results in differing behaviours. Highlighting that is a graph that shows how varying the types of family violence are across the different groups:

(Left click on image to enlarge)

Update: The NZ Herald table has now been corrected.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Not naming fathers a "rort"

MEDIA RELEASE: Not naming fathers a "rort"

MSD Minister Carmel Sepuloni, and Green Party MP Jan Logie are promulgating misinformation about sanctioning mothers who won't name the fathers of their children.

The sanction, which takes around $28 from beneficiary mothers who do not provide the name of the father, is neither cruel nor excessive. If the mother fears risk of violence from a named father, Work and Income already provides an exemption. The Work and Income manual clearly states:

'Your benefit payments may be reduced if you don’t legally identify the other parent or apply for Child Support. In some situations you may not need to do this, for example if you or your child would be at risk of violence. Work and Income can tell you more about this.'

Minister Sepuloni has been advised by MSD:

'Repealing Section 70a could provide an incentive for clients not to apply for Child Support and establish private arrangements with the other parent. This is because clients would retain their full benefit rate and receive the child support paid privately.'

The previous Labour government acknowledged this practice and labelled it a 'rort'. Former MSD Minister Steve Maharey said in 2004,

'It is a rort, and I have said time and time again in this Parliament that fathers must front up to their obligations, and we will make sure they do, as much as we can...It is not unreasonable to expect that single parents bringing up children on their own identify who  in law is the other parent, or to expect that they seek financial support for the child from the other parent. It is not unreasonable to penalise financially those who do not.'

The current government has shifted a long way from their predecessor's position with no good reason.

Whatever fathers do not pay for their children, someone else will have to.

Carmel Sepuloni needs to explain why this is fair.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

More children being added to a Sole Parent benefit

MEDIA RELEASE: More children being added to a Sole Parent benefit

Data released under the Official Information Act shows that more beneficiaries on Sole Parent Support are adding children to their existing benefit.

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell says, "The number of children being added to a Sole Parent benefit has risen from 5,384 in 2013 to 6,584 in 2017 - a 22% increase."

The number of children who are dependent on any benefit by the end of their birth year has also recently increased.

"At the end of  2017,  beneficiaries responsible for a child born that year numbered 9,810  - an average of 817 a month. But in the six months to June 2018 that average grew to 937 per month. A 15% increase."

The Ministry of Social Development links lower exits from benefits to higher payments for beneficiary families with children. Staying on a benefit and possibly adding a child is a behavioural response to more money.

The National government lifted basic benefit rates for families with children in 2016. Labour has since lifted Family Tax Credits for children of beneficiaries and introduced Best Start - a further $60 weekly payment for newborns in workless homes.

Children long-term dependent on benefits are far more likely to be abused or neglected; far more likely to grow up to be reliant on a benefit themselves and more likely to receive a community or custodial sentence.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Jobs scheme: just another episode in a long-running saga

Hold on to your hats. Another new scheme has just been announced by the Labour government:

Mana in Mahi - Strength in Work will pay a wage subsidy to employers willing to hire a person receiving a main income support benefit, and offer that person an industry training qualification.
I'm underwhelmed.

This latest 'initiative' by Labour, specifically Andrew Little, is a big yawn. The country has' been there, done that' so many times before. Think 'Compass',  'Community Wage' and 'Jobs Jolt' operating respectively at the middle, end of the nineties and mid-2000s.

In fact we are doing it right now. It's called Flexi-wage subsidy:
If you're interested in hiring one of our candidates, but they need support to gain the required skills for the job, we may be able to help with a subsidy for things like training or mentoring.
Get Jacinda, stealing the limelight yet again,  in the fluro vest no less,  making another grand gesture to her demographic.

You can fool some of the people some of the time....

Thursday, August 09, 2018


What is this word now oft repeated to mean something of which I am unaware.  I could google it but some responses from people 'like me' (indulge me) would indicate that they at least get it, and I'm off the pace.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Drug-testing beneficiaries - suspend the sanctioning policy?

The NZ Herald reports:
Last year, there were 31,791 referrals for drug testable positions nationwide and just 55 sanctions for failing a drug test, according to Ministry of Social Development (MSD) figures.
 Seem low to you? No mention of sanctions for refusing to take a drug test.

The article highlights some reasons why the number could be 'artificially' low including people switching to drugs that are non-detectable, or many people's main employability problem being alcohol which won't necessarily lead to failing a drug test.

From the file of ‘unintended consequences’, a 2016 government report released under the OIA noted that, “There has also been anecdotal evidence that increased testing has led to employees and job seekers using drugs that have a shorter detection time but are more harmful.” 

But consider this:
Beneficiaries diagnosed with drug dependency would not be sanctioned under the policy, but would receive the support they needed to deal with their addiction, [MSD representative] said.
There are thousands of beneficiaries who will never be put forward for jobs that require drug-testing because they have a primary incapacity of substance abuse.

Here's the interesting thing though. They have decreased in numbers. The source for this data is my own and one other OIA request.

The number rose through Labour's last term (while unemployment fell) and has dropped under National.

A 'tougher' but more practical approach may be the driver of this fall. (Or the problem could still be there and hidden under other incapacity categories eg psychological and psychiatric conditions which risen 11% since June 2008.)

But that very few people receiving a benefit fail a drugs test is not reason to do away with the sanctions. Nobody should be able to render themselves unable to work and expect to live off taxpayer funding.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

How lies get legs

My last post highlighted how Simon Wilson claimed in a column in today's NZ Herald that the average teacher age in New Zealand is 57.

Next on The Nation this morning the interviewer repeated this to the the Minister who made no denial:

That’s true, and we will get to those. We’re talking about the level of remuneration right now. Under your offer, how much will an average teacher get extra?
It depends, because through the Ministry of Education, the offer has been loaded up at the beginning-teacher salary rate. So a beginning teacher, for example, stands to gain almost 15 per cent increase over three years. Those more experienced teachers would get less under the offer that’s on the table at the moment.

And the majority of those teachers are the more experienced teachers. The average age is 57 or something like that. They’re higher into the pay scale. So do you know how much they’re going to get?
Again, it depends on where they’re at on the salary scale, but also about 40 per cent of primary school teachers are earning over the top of the salary scale because they have additional allowances or additional management units or whatever. So it’s quite difficult to put nice clean numbers on it, because the pay scale and the pay system for teachers is quite a complex one.

This morning I linked to data from 2008 which showed the average age was 44.5.

After further probing I have data from the OECD showing the average teacher age in 2015 was 45. What you would expect based on the 2008 number. At this rate, the average age won't be 57 until 2183 AD.... or thereabouts.

My guess is that The Nation presenter simply repeated what he read in the NZ Herald.

Like Chinese whispers.

Don't worry about facts - just rage

Don't think I have come across this commentator before - Simon Wilson writing in the NZ Herald. All gloom and doom and crisis, crisis.


"Council of Trade Unions (CTU) economist Bill Rosenberg calls it a "hollowing out of the wage scale". Inequality is growing and the people taking the biggest hit are those in the middle and the lower middle. Mostly, that includes self-employed people.

It's worse for non-working beneficiaries. We don't have a DPB (Domestic Purposes Benefit) any more, but there is an equivalent payment package in the benefit system.

Rosenberg has calculated that even if we raised that payment by 25 per cent, it would still be no higher, in relation to the average wage, than the level it was cut to in 1991. For the single unemployed and invalids, benefits would need to rise by even more."

But is it facile to talk about just the benefit payment when there are other substantial add-ons. Someone who has a baby and is on a benefit now receives $151 a week for that child. If they have other children  they will receive substantial further payments for each child and,  and if they live in Auckland, can claim up to $305 in accommodation supplement.

As for overall income inequality you don't have to understand all the jargon and workings. If you can tell whether a trendline is going up or down you can see that the official stats show that inequality is not rising.

And he hasn't got other facts right.

For instance he says:

"The average age of teachers is 57.5 years."

He is so out of touch and would know this if he spent any time around primary schools.

The following pertains to 2008 but in it inconceivable such a massive change would have occurred since:

"...the average age of teachers has remained relatively steady at 44 for the past eight years; for the current period the average age is 44.5 years."

On his wish-list he writes:

"So what's next? What about Children First? A programmatic approach that says we identify what children need, from conception, make sure they have somewhere to live where they are warm, dry, safe and preferably loved, and wrap the services around them that will allow them to prosper ... through pre-school and school and into tertiary education or work, and especially if they are abused at home, if they have mental health issues, if they get in trouble with the law."

Identifying and targeting is exactly what  Bill English was doing. It is exactly what Whanau Ora services are doing right now.

"There is rage in the world. Rage in this country too. The big task for Jacinda Ardern and her Government is to set us on a path where hope subsumes the rage."

Yes. I get pretty annoyed when I read hyperbole unsupported by facts.

And here comes a cheer leader:

It may be a "good" overview if it confirms lazy prejudices but it is not an honest overview.


"Years of neglect and our schools are now in crisis" he writes.

Even Chris Hipkins, on telly, has just denied that the education sector is "in crisis".

Friday, August 03, 2018

Driven to suicide by @MeToo ... apparently

I added 'apparently' because you never know what lengths these obsessives will go to.

While I've never heard of this unfortunate man or his unfortunate wife, as an opponent of the @MeToo campaign I'm inclined to further publicise this tragedy. And it is a tragedy, especially the loss of a father - one much greater than anything he was 'apparently' falsely accused of:

Anne Sofie von Otter, the famed Swedish mezzo-soprano, is speaking out to the press for the first time about the March 2018 suicide of her husband, Benny Fredriksson. She recently gave a lengthy interview to Die Zeit, the German weekly newspaper.

After Aftonbladet, a leading Swedish newspaper, published anonymous accusations that he was guilty of sexual and psychological abuse, Fredriksson resigned from his post at the Kulturhuset Stadsteatern (House of Culture and City Theatre) in Stockholm, the country’s premier cultural center and theater, in December 2017. On March 17, while accompanying his wife on tour in Australia, Fredriksson killed himself.

Toward the end of his life, his widow disclosed, Fredriksson was afraid of going out into the street for fear of being recognized. “Suddenly he turned inward and everything was about ‘what did I do wrong?’” she said, according to the Irish Times. Von Otter criticized the #MeToo herd mentality. “What has happened,” she asked, “to our independent, critical thinking?”


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A view from Rick's place

I've always had a lot of time for young Rick Giles. Involved first with the Libertarianz and then ACT on Campus, he's quirky, mercurial and acutely intelligent. This video about baby boomers and parenting is challenging but also manages to be very humorous.

I have advised he check his own collectivism (after railing against it during the commentary) regarding labeling an entire generation. 

Rick's place

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Poor Prime Minister

I used to think that feminists had a beef with men making the world a tougher place for them to exist in. Now I believe that it is feminists themselves making the world a tougher place for women.

There are boundless contradictions and inconsistencies bandied about. Today's NZ Herald publishes a prime example. Another face of feminism that believes babies need their mothers! That baby's needs should be elevated above those of its natural first carer - not the father by the way.

This one is guilt-tripping the PM big time. With feminist friends like these who needs enemies?

The reaction to this demand from an Australian that the New Zealand Prime Minister should shrink and shirk her political role will be vitriolic. It'll be frighteningly, ferociously ....feminist.

After all the proud celebration of a woman combining motherhood with the most powerful position in the country along comes this treacherous traitor to prick Jacinda's bubble with a loud bang. At exactly the moment when she might be feeling uncertain. How hellish hard will it be to relinquish constant contact and cuddles after 6 intense weeks? I wouldn't hand over my 12 week-old pup to ANYONE.

What we are seeing is yet another inevitable failure of collectivism. If the group is more important than the individual, then the group rules the roost. But just who makes those rules?

Feminism has descended into a cauldron of cattiness; of nasty factionalism. It doesn't empower. It  scrutinises and judges groups within groups. Like extreme left or right politics, the creed is hardest on those most like it - those who should know better but fail. Like our poor PM.

Feminism is eating itself.

Good riddance.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Benefits by ethnicity - note last graph

The last graph reminded me of another recently viewed.

Graphed in the same colours and groups prisoners by ethnicity looks like this:

Quite a close match. Hardly surprising.

Benefit numbers up for first time since 2010

The first June to June increase in benefit numbers since 2010 has been recorded. This sits alongside Carmel Sepuloni's change to the benefit sanctions rules - essentially a softening. Sanctions are down by over 20 percent. The two developments may be related.

The specific benefit numbers that have increased are Jobseeker.

This is concerning when employers are crying put for unskilled workers. We know that MSD are worried about slowing exits from the Jobseeker benefit. They recently commented, "Demand for low skilled labour in the regions is not being readily absorbed by jobseekers in those regions." More than once emergency rules have been invoked to allow migrants to pick up the slack.

More Jobseeker benefits are being granted and fewer cancelled.

Further analysis required.


The data tables show the increased Jobseeker numbers are accounted for overwhelmingly by 25-39 year-olds.

Maori on Jobseeker have increased by 12% since 2015. They are now the single largest ethnic group receiving this benefit.

Psychological and psychiatric conditions among Jobseekers have increased almost 16% since 2015. This is a standout statistic among health conditions.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Prisoners come from families broken by the state

One of the charts from my latest report, Imprisonment and Family Structure

The rest of the paper argues why this is more than mere correlation traversing Maori urbanisation, whanau and nuclear family disintegration, gangs, state-care and inter-generational dysfunction.

As a society we continue to keep paying for it - the processes and consequences.

One hand in the Labour Party is actively increasing welfare while the other is planning to hold a hui on how to bring down the prison population.

If you think putting more money into dysfunctional families will reduce crime reflect on what children of gangs told the Children's Commissioner. That, despite feeling bound to follow in their footsteps, one of the upsides of living in gang families was not having to live in poverty.

(Post prompted by this piece.)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A child's logic

A little girl asks her mum, 'Mum, can I take the dog for a walk around the block?'
Her mum replies 'No, because she is on heat.'

'What does that mean?' asked the child.

'Go and ask your father. I think he's in the garage.'

The little girl goes out to the garage and says, 'Dad, can I take Lulu for a walk around the block? I asked Mum, but she said the dog was on the heat, and to come ask you.'

He took a rag, soaked it in petrol, and scrubbed the dog's backside with it to disguise the scent, and said 'Ok, you can go now, but keep Lulu on the leash and only go one time around the block.'

The little girl left and returned a few minutes later with no dog on the leash..

Surprised, Dad asked, 'Where's Lulu?'

The little girl said, 'She ran out of petrol about halfway round the block, so another dog is pushing her home.'

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Cartoon provokes outrage

The cartoon below was published in the DomPost, Monday, and has provoked letters of outrage.

So I'm adding my two cents worth.

Dear Editor

So Al Nisbet's cartoon touched a nerve amongst some readers. Why? While somewhat blunt it nevertheless describes a very real problem with welfare - that benefit incomes for families with children are too close to incomes from work. The last Labour government attempted to fix this by introducing the In Work Tax Credit making employment financially advantageous. This Labour government has effectively undone that with substantially increased payments for babies born into workless homes.

As for the depiction of neglected children one reader found so offensive, it is a fact that, "Of all children having a finding of maltreatment by age 5, 83% are seen on a benefit before age 2." (Auckland University, 2012)

Lindsay Mitchell

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Part of why National lost the 2017 election

It struck me today why National couldn't pull enough vote to stay in government because they can't articulate a clear position.

What highlighted this problem was Amy Adams response to today's commencement of Labour's Family Package. RNZ reports:

To pay for the package, the government scrapped the National government's promised tax cuts, but National's finance spokesperson Amy Adams said that would have helped more people than the families package.
"National's philosophy is people who work hard should get to keep more of their money.
"It shouldn't be taken off of them by government, filtered out to a few and pay a whole lot of extra tax that the economy doesn't need imposed on it," she said.
No problem with the first part.

But then she says the money Labour takes will be "filtered out to a few".

My understanding was that is exactly National's position. They were targeting their spending - call it social investment if you like - whereas Labour sprays money universally so as to avoid any stigmatisation of the 'beneficiary' and to buy votes.

The controversial heating payment to all pensioners regardless of income could hardly be described as "filtered out to the few". Neither can the $3,120 a year for babies born as of today in families with incomes below $79,000.

If National had been clearer about what they were doing to help needy and dysfunctional families, more on the centre-left could have been persuaded. It makes no sense to churn vast amounts of tax. It makes no sense to take money off someone only to give it back. All that does is keep an army of IRD workers employed (who are currently agitating for higher wages which will add even more to the dead-weight of taxation).

What a mess.

UPDATE: The $3.120 payment is universal for the first year.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another nail in the coffin of compassion

This is a man who likes to hurt people. Severely physically hurt people.

He has irrevocably alienated himself from normal society by disfiguring his face. He knows that.

I looked for some hardship this man had faced. He is now 29. No spring chicken in criminal circles.

Here's a report about the crime and sentencing that resulted in his initial ten year imprisonment:

A killer was embraced by the family of his victim before he was sentenced to life in prison.

Adam Robert Gempton, 21, was sentenced to life, with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years, by Justice Chisholm in the High Court in Christchurch yesterday for the murder of Timothy John Constable....

Constable's parents hugged Gempton as he stood in the dock.

Pauline Constable said in her victim-impact statement that she forgave Gempton despite going through a "living nightmare" after her son's death.

She hugged Gempton, who twice whispered, "I'm sorry."

...Gempton said: "It was never my intention to kill Tim. I was just trying to defend my partner and I feared for my daughter's safety. I feared for everyone's safety, and I'm sorry."

After the sentencing, Pauline Constable said she was happy with the outcome.

"There was true remorse shown by Adam and he was very sorry this happened," she said. "It's a shame he'll have to spend 10 years in prison."

My experience of prison and prisoners is limited. But greater than most people's. Volunteers tend to work with the most motivated prisoners and it's natural that our views are coloured by this experience. There are plenty of deserving and salvageable souls to be encountered.

Which is why this individual angers me beyond what is reasonable. Because he makes the public turn feral on inmates.

Prison houses the worst humans. The most damaged and the most dangerous. I recently visited a property where two chained dogs were writhing, straining, snarling and desperate to attack. They have to be taught to be that way. And so do humans.

But humans have mental faculties dogs do not. They have the opportunity dogs are not blessed with;  to think about what they have done and where will they go from there.

This man certainly did. And added the deepest insult to injury possible. He became more violent.

State housing capture

State house tenants are on a good wicket. MSD explains: (note: benefit = advantage)

The benefit tenants receive from subsidised rents (IRR/IRRS) [Income related rent subsidy] is (on the whole) significantly greater than the benefit received by people who get the Accommodation Supplement (AS) - creating pressure on public housing places.

Exits from social housing are decreasing rapidly.

MSD explains some of this effect:

"The cost of public housing to government is very sensitive to growth in rental prices
Rental growth has three key impacts:
• IRRS [Income related rent subsidy] increases directly as market prices increase
• growth in rents above incomes means proportion of rent paid by tenants
falls (IRRS grows faster than rental growth)
• higher level of IRRS means tenants are further from the market > decreased
exits and increased durations.
If rental growth per year is 1% higher than what is already built into Budget
forecasting, costs to government grow by 20% and the number of exits falls by
6% over 20 years."

So part of the housing 'crisis' - the shortage specifically - is the result of the normal flow in and out of state houses becoming disrupted as market rents rise.

State housing is about provision of homes for the neediest, hopefully as a temporary state of affairs, because the housing stock hasn't grown for decades. That can't happen if  current occupants batten down.

Every move the government makes that impinges on the private housing market eg land restriction and bureaucratic interference on many more levels, comes back to bite them at the social housing end.

Now instead of reversing restrictions and bureaucracy they plan to increase the supply of state houses and have increased the accommodation supplement. It's just not a viable solution.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What could be kinder than offering a jobseeker a job?

Apparently the treatment of beneficiaries has become harsh and they are subject to unreasonable obligations. An 'expert' panel has been appointed to review the welfare system.

But what could be kinder to a jobseeker than the offer of a job?

MSD freely admits however that it can't get people off benefits despite a demand for workers. In a just-released publication relating to trends as at 2017 they say:
 "Exit rates for jobseekers are lower than expected. Demand for low skilled labour in the regions is not being readily absorbed by jobseekers in those regions."
This indicates a choice on behalf of  jobseekers despite the eligibility condition, "To receive Jobseeker Support a client must be willing and able to undertake employment."

So the rule is ignored. Nothing new there. Let's face it NZ is a place where most people follow rules in order that a few can ignore them without consequences. (And then those following the rules get accused of undue privilege and power.)

As the unemployment rate is dropping, the likelihood people will leave a benefit is also dropping.

Maori make-up 15% of the population but 35% of beneficiaries. Unsurprisingly, their exit rate from the system is also declining and lower than non-Maori.

There are just under 119,000 people currently on a jobseeker benefit. The number has been fairly static over the past six years, but is at risk of rising, especially with the messages being sent by the current government. The Minister, Carmel Sepuloni,  announced today that benefit suspensions - one of the tools staff can use to persuade people into jobs - have fallen by more than a fifth since she changed the policy to allow only senior staff to apply them.

The last Labour government made a song and dance about not wanting 'dead-end' jobs for beneficiaries (Steve Maharey) - an insult to anyone who works. So getting people into education and training became the holy grail. The current Labour government has perpetuated this ideology with their spectacularly unsuccessful tertiary first-year-free policy.

Yet when MSD tracked those who left a benefit in 2013/14 to study or train they found only, "28% were in employment after 18 months" and "35% were back on a main benefit at 18 months."  Were they still studying? Apparently not, "Only 8% had study or training as their primary activity after 18 months."

On the bright side, 60 percent of people who exited to go to employment were still employed after 18 months.

Which brings me back to the opening question, what could be kinder than offering a jobseeker a job?

There is an answer: making him or her accept it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Baby Bumf

Arrived in my letterbox today, this Labour pamphlet:



Talk abut 'milking it'.

She really is all this government has going for it.

Monday, June 25, 2018

'Relaxing bail laws won't increase public risk'

Ex Alliance MP Dr Liz Gordon has apparently "...crunched the numbers on bail" and says the bail laws could be relaxed. RNZ reports:

Dr Liz Gordon a social researcher, who is also president of PILLARS, a group helping prisoners' families, said the average number of murders in New Zealand each year was about 80.
She said when you put that figure alongside the extra 1000 people remanded in custody, it was an emotional over-reaction to suggest Andrew Little would have blood on his hands if he loosened the bail laws.
"The mathematics simply doesn't add up. They're not going to all get out of the prisons and start murdering like mad and if you find good alternatives for them, perhaps you can actually stop them ever having to go to prison again."

Let's give that some context. Police stats for the year to December 2017:

Some portion of the 'serious assaults resulting in injury' could have become murders. In fact there is a school of thought among criminologists that the murder rate today would be higher if not for new life-saving technology. The same applies to the road toll.

If she wants to measure risk, it's not the outcome Ms Gordon should be counting, but the intent.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Maori and Pacific getting more dependent on state housing

Thanks to a publicized  OIA response , I happened across statistics not seen before. The data is from December 2017 and graphed below (n= 65,188):

Always interested in trends I did a quick dig about for earlier comparative data. Here's an answer to a PQ in 2003 graphed (n=61,947):

That's a reasonably substantial change in 14 years.

In 2003 the Maori and Pakeha share were identical at 29%.

Now the Maori share is 50 percent greater than Pakeha.

What I'd like to see is an age breakdown of those pie pieces.

How much is the growing dependence a facet of the ageing population?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Imprisonment and Family Structure

My third report in a series, written for Family First, Imprisonment and Family Structure was released last Friday. I was very grateful to criminologist, Greg Newbold, writer, David Cohen and  ex-detective, Dave Pizzini for reviewing the paper and providing feedback. But apart from Leighton Smith interviewing me last Friday the media seems to have ignored it.

Below an op-ed I produced on the back of it. It is intentionally hard-hitting - more so than the report.

Anyone who would like a hard copy of the report which traces imprisonment rates and family structure statistics over the past 100 years (in order to encompass the period when Maori went from being virtually absent among the prison population to today when they make up half), let me know.

Govt fails public and prisoners alike

Last week the government announced it will add a net total of 174 extra beds at Waikeria prison by 2022. This will fall woefully short of what is needed to fairly serve both the public and prisoners alike because the incarcerated population will continue to increase. How do I know?

Because the population group most prisoners arise from continues to behave as they have for decades.

Corrections has identified that the mothers of those children on the pathway to prison are young, uneducated, suffered abuse or neglect as a child, are, or have been substance dependent, are without family connections and have serial male partners. Treasury says abused or neglected children who spend most of their lifetimes on welfare, with a parent who is or has been a prisoner, and a poorly educated mother are ten times more likely to be prisoners before reaching 21.

Te Puni Kokiri has identified intergenerational imprisonment, particularly among Maori. They report, "...anecdotally we were often told by prisoners that they had children by more than one mother." The renowned Dunedin longitudinal study produced the following observation: "Men who spend time in prison are likely to father a disproportionately high number of who engage in highly anti-social behaviour make up 10 percent of the birth cohort, yet account for 27 percent of babies fathered by the time the men are aged 26 years."

Overseas research finds a causal link between male imprisonment and female multi partner fertility. Father A goes to prison; mother takes a new partner, from a similar background, to whom she has another child. Replaced Father A comes out of prison on a short break (he's a violent serial reoffender, quite possibly a gang member) and in the available time quickly forms a new relationship leaving yet another child set on the trajectory to prison described above.

The enabler of these loveless baby factories is welfare, the ideology behind which is once more on the ascendency. On 1 July the taxpayers will foot a further hefty increase in benefits to these very families.

Last year 17 percent of all registered babies had neither married nor de facto parents listed. For Maori babies, the proportion more than doubled to 35 percent. This fact alone is a reasonable pointer to Maori over-representation in prison. The Department of Internal Affairs estimates 2,600 babies born last year haven't even been registered yet.

Many of these children, from chaotic beginnings, will soon come to the attention of CYF. Some will spend part or all of their lives in state care and will ultimately revisit the terrible hurt they have experienced on innocent parties. Eighty three percent of teenage prisoners have a CYF record.

These are all pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that when assembled reveal an ugly picture of the future.

While this state of affairs continues, there is no hope of lowering the prison population by 30 percent in fifteen years’ time - unless of course these angry young victims-turned-offenders are allowed to avoid custodial prison sentences in the future.

In reality a properly functioning prison system with not just enough cells, but enough rooms and resources for necessary rehabilitative programmes to take place, is vital.

And at the other end, the beginning? If nothing else, to policy-makers, please, reconsider making meal tickets out of innocent babies.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Doggies needing good homes

I've just become 'mum' to one of these pups. The real mum is a smooth coat smallish Huntaway and the father mostly Sharpei. Working/ farm dogs.

Six remain and the owner is very keen for them to go to good homes.

Mine, now named 'Limmy', has been a joy for the half day we have had her. Very calm - sat/slept on my knee for the journey home. Has done some exploring since arriving, said a shy howdy to the first inhabitants (existing Huntaway seems rather intrigued if cautious) but at 8 weeks, still wanting to be cuddled back to sleep - missing her litter.

Anyone interested in giving a good home to one of these pups please email me at

(Hat-tip Gecko)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Benefits - the staple diet of gangs

If ever you want a damning example of why unconditional welfare benefits are a bad idea:

This fictional Gang Family Example reflects the Gang Intelligence Centre's research into real gang-related families.

• Ruby is in her early 70s. She has had nine children from two relationships. She has been a long-term beneficiary, and is currently the caregiver of several young children who are her family members.
• She is currently partnered to a gang member.
• All of Ruby's 9 children have been beneficiaries. Eight are currently on a benefit, and one is now in employment.
• All five of Ruby's daughters have been victims of family violence. One is also a family violence offender. Two of Ruby's sons are family violence offenders.
• Five of Ruby's adult children have been in prison and/or on probation.
• Two of her daughters are partnered to gang members and one son is a gang member.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Missing the point about 'male, pale and stale' label

Many of you will have seen Karl du Fresne's excellent column either in the DomPost or at his site. The response is still ongoing with another letter appearing today. So belatedly I've thrown my two cent's worth in:

Dear Editor

Most of Karl du Fresne's critics (Male, pale and stale, May 31) have missed his main point - the great irony of  'liberals' using intentionally insulting language about the sex, skin colour and age of an entire group who have no control over these characteristics.

But as so many want to talk about the privilege of the white male baby-boomers, lets do it. As young men they grew up in a society with strict expectations about how they would conduct their lives. Corralled into shot-gun marriages, made the compulsory breadwinner of the family, pursued by the courts if they rejected this task; channelled into menial, repetitive jobs in car manufacturing, the meat works or railways; only a select few went to university and became professionals. Stuck in their economic class because the country was yet to become innovative and export- diverse (beyond agriculture). No cheap cars or cheap air travel.  No internet shopping, decent bars and cafes, or mobile phones. No credit cards. Earning, scrimping  and saving was the restrictive routine for most.

I very much doubt today's generation would exchange their freedom and choice for young adulthood in the 1960s where homogeneity and conformity ruled. Privilege? Not a lot.

Friday, June 08, 2018

More Maori and Pacific medical students

The University of Otago has never seen so many Māori students studying to be doctors, new research from the New Zealand Medical Journal shows.

There are any number of ways this good news story can be negatively interpreted.


Why do Maori patients need Maori doctors?

How 'Maori' are they anyway?

Frankly my interest in the race and reverse discrimination debate is minimal.

However it happens, whatever it means,  I'm happy to  note and broadcast this development.

Pro Vice Chancellor Peter Crampton said the increase in Māori and Pacific students was a positive step in ensuring health workers in the future better reflect the people of New Zealand.
"This is the vision: that when you and I engage with the healthcare system, wherever we may engage, it might be with our own doctor, or with the nurse or with the hospital or with the physiotherapist, or the pharmacist, that there is every likelihood we would be engaging with a Māori health professional.
"We want that to be normal, and in the past that has not been normal."