Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Stuff's tortured apology

Yesterday Stuff declared to the world that it had been racist in the past but now, in their "brave new era" they will tell the truth!!

So they kick off today with a confession that THEY made Maori the face of child abuse.

To an extent this is true. The media in general focuses on Maori child abuse deaths more than non-Maori, sometimes because the behaviour of whanau keeps the case alive and dragging out over months and years. Cases where the offender pleads guilty and is processed through the system garner less attention.

Anyway they start by slapping themselves over reported likelihood risks. They looked at stories from 2000 about Lillybing and James Whakaruru:

Both stories claimed Māori children were “five times more likely” to be abused than Pākehā children.

The statistic was not correct. At the time, around 25 per cent of children were Māori, and 75 per cent Pākehā: Three times higher, not five.

The figure lowered even further when comparing Māori to non-Māori as a whole. An analysis by the Ministry for Social Development later showed Māori children were around 2.5 times more likely to be abused than non-Māori. A review of literature predominantly published in the early 2000s showed the rate of maltreatment among Māori was consistently double that of non-Māori. 

A rate two or three times higher than other groups is still significant, and the essence of the claim – Māori are overrepresented in child abuse figures – was accurate.

But the inaccurate “five times more” figure was not corrected, and served as a springboard for fevered coverage in the months afterwards, seemingly used as permission to cover Lillybing’s death in a racialised way.

Well let me tighten this with the most recent, and more relevant, Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths (CAN)  official data from 2009 to 2015:

 Māori children were three times more likely to die from CAN than non-Māori children. Similarly, offenders of Māori ethnicity were six times more likely to be responsible for CAN deaths than those of non-Māori ethnicity. When stratified by age, the rate of CAN deceased was highest among children aged 0–4 years and, for Māori, the rate of the children killed by CAN aged 0–4 years was four times higher than the non-Māori rate

Then in an attempt at revisionist impartiality Stuff goes on to bring up names of non-Maori children who were killed in filicide/parental suicide events and under-reported.

There isn't a lot to be said about open and shut cases of this nature. They are mental crisis events which often come out of the blue. The children are seemingly well-cared for, even over-loved. The media can't hammer CYF failure, or police inaction or follow a court hearing.

The reason the two aforementioned Maori child cases garnered so much attention was the revelations of the ongoing abuse and gross neglect leading up to the deaths. To compare them to cases where the parent took their own life is a mistake. In the former we had adults trying to absolve themselves or cover up for someone, ongoing police investigations and a court case; in the latter, parents who no longer wanted to live and decided to take their children with them.

The inclusion of these types of child deaths (9) in the CAN stats probably lowers the Maori likelihoods cited above but the report does not separate the types of CAN deaths by race. However, clues relating to quintile deprivation suggest the filacide/parental suicide cases are non-Maori - though the unusual and very sad recent case up on the East Coast will change the next lot of stats: 

"... among the offenders whose socioeconomic status was known, deprivation differed for the different types of CAN death events. A deprivation gradient was noticeable for fatal physical abuse/grossly negligent treatment death events – two-thirds (67 percent) of the offenders who killed children by fatal physical abuse/grossly negligent treatment were from the most deprived neighbourhoods (deprivation quintile 5) and no offenders were from the least deprived neighbourhoods(deprivation quintile 1). By contrast, the neonaticide and filicide with parental suicide CAN death events involved offenders from neighbourhoods that spanned the range of deprivation quintiles...The distributions of Māori deceased and offenders were skewed towards the most deprived quintile, whereas for non-Māori the deceased and offenders were more evenly distributed across the range of deprivation quintiles. No Māori offenders responsible for CAN deaths lived in the least deprived neighbourhood. "

In conclusion yes Stuff probably did disproportionately report on Maori child deaths BUT there are reasons for this that go beyond race. They relate to the circumstances surrounding the death.

This cleansing exercise Stuff has embarked upon is so bizarre that I wonder if they are trying to pre-empt any future prosecutions for past behaviour? Sounds preposterous but you couldn't rule it out in today's crazy world. 

More likely they don't want to be victims of the senseless cancel-culture.

Monday, November 30, 2020

The inverted world of blameless individuals

The Child Poverty Action Group has issued a stocktake on government's unsatisfactory implementation of the WEAG's recommendations. A WEAG panel member said on radio, one in seven children are on a welfare benefit and that they "can't wait." From the report:

 A background paper to Whakamana Tāngata, entitled The income support system, noted that 168,275 dependent children were living in families receiving main benefits in March 2018...Children cannot wait for more resources, as their minds, emotions, bodies are constantly developing and are often permanently adversely affected by toxic stress and lack of essentials. Our inadequate and ineffective welfare system continues to entrench poverty for children. 

The number had risen to over 217,000 by July 2020.

But wait. In 2019 over 6,000 babies were added to an existing benefit.

Information released to me under the OIA shows that 6,190 caregivers had added one or more 'subsequent children' aged less than 12 months to their benefit during 2019. That represents one in ten of all babies born last year.  For Maori the ratio doubles to one in five.

If their existing children are indeed experiencing "toxic stress" why are the parents having more?Perhaps their existing children are not experiencing "toxic stress"? Perhaps parents don't recognise that their existing children are experiencing "toxic stress"?

Whatever. It isn't the welfare system that "continues to entrench poverty". It's parents who continue to produce babies in the full knowledge a benefit is their only source of income for the forseeable future. 

It's an inarguable fact and yet we are constantly bombarded with bullshit messages to the contrary.

In the same vein a Stuff article has a Maori advocate saying that health services are failing mothers who continue to drink during pregnancy!

Sunday, November 29, 2020

OT fights it corner

Oranga Tamariki has taken the unusual step of letting a journalist work alongside a social worker for the duration of an uplift case. It's well covered, not overly sentimental and succeeds in providing an impartial insight into a case of severe physical abuse. It's told through the eyes of a fairly young social worker, Alex McKintosh.

What made me wince (beyond the injury descriptions) was this line:

“It’s not just the public that hate Oranga Tamariki,” she says when she ends the call, “all the other agencies do as well”.

This to explain why she has to push to have a reluctant paediatrician re-examine the child in question.

That makes her work doubly difficult.

I have always viewed OT/CYF/CYPS as being unavoidably stuck between a rock and a hard place, damned for not 'being there' and damned by many for being there.

But they only exist due to parental or other caregiver failure, or criminality.

Without a doubt it is an organisation like any other. Some members will be better at their jobs; better intentioned, better motivated and more effective.

This particular employee expresses a belief in parental redemption but persisted to first and foremost secure the child's safety.

If she is a fair representation of other OT social workers I am reassured.

(Reflecting on this case being a Pacific family, I am unaware of calls from that sector about racism and the need for Pasifika to take charge of Pasifika child protection. I stand to be corrected.)

Friday, November 27, 2020

Highly unusual graph

The graph below shows child entry into state care by ethnicity from March to June 2020.

Can you spot what is unusual about it? Certainly I have never seen a graph representing NZ ethnicities like this one before. Ever.


A debate coming our way

Whether or not to criminalise 'coercive control' - a precursor to family violence.

According to the Melbourne Age:

Coercive control - which can include isolating a partner from their friends and family, restricting their movement, monitoring their phone and controlling their finances - is the most common factor leading up to an intimate partner homicide.

A couple of Australian states have - or are in the process of doing so. 

What is striking about the linked article is how balanced it is with reasoned views from differing perspectives. In NZ a mainly one-sided argument would be presented featuring various anti-male campaigners and favoured by left-wing blogs like The Spin-off, and MSM like Stuff and RNZ in particular. 

I'd suggest criminalising coercive control in NZ is a foregone conclusion once the idea gains traction.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

When group dissension becomes THE issue

Because of collectivism and identity politics, and RNZ's obsession with such, when one Maori disagrees with another THAT becomes the story.

Minister for Whanau Ora, Peeni Henare told Maori News that the head of Oranga Tamariki looked about to resign. Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis reprimanded him for stepping outside of his portfolio. Minister of Maori Development, Willie Jackson waded in and said the Maori caucus has a view on the head of OT.

So the story gets headlined that main players are "at odds".

It must be very frustrating for Maori who want to get beyond being Maori first and foremost.

In the same way that a female MP might be thoroughly frustrated if her every word and action was framed and critiqued from a feminist perspective with the actual content and intent overlooked.

The inexorable move to separatism

Maori and non-Maori partner at very high rates. StatsNZ: "In the 1996 census, 66 percent of partnerships involving people of Maori ethnicity were partnerships between a Maori and non-Maori partner."

After reading the statements by various government and state agency players speaking to the Waitangi Tribunal yesrday there is no doubt in my mind that a move to separate child protection systems is developing. For instance:

Assistant Māori Commissioner for Children Glenis Philip-Barbara said the government must determine whether iwi and hapū could take on a transfer of power from Oranga Tamariki.

"What we're asking for is for the government to recognise mana Māori by handing over the power to define, determine and decide what 'good' looks like for tamariki Māori to Māori.

"I don't think we've had a better time in our history as a nation to realise this dream. I'm hopeful that government will step back and understand how important it is to share power as a Treaty partner."

Putting aside the politics, what will this mean for real people?

If a child has any Maori blood, his or her interests will be decided solely by Maori?

Envisage a Maori whanau versus a non-Maori family vying for custody of their mokopuna/grandchild. It isn't difficult to imagine the heartaches that will be involved if the non-Maori family's rights are dismissed because whakapapa links are the most important consideration.

The principle is already given a great deal of weight under current legislation but it can't dominate to the cost of all else.

Stability and security must be paramount when deciding the best interests of children. It's a colourblind requisite. 

"In New Zealand today"

 Karl du Fresne has written the second of what I hope is a series of posts, "In New Zealand today" which highlights various media items that typify the way the country is immersing itself in identity politics. 

New Zealand has to decide what type of place it wants to be: a diverse, harmonious, tolerant, multicultural country with a common interest in prosperity and freedom, or a splintered one in which multiple groups jostle for special treatment on the basis of real or imagined differences of ethnicity, sexual preference, culture, religion, gender or any one of the many other divisive “identities”. I think I know which society most New Zealanders would opt for.

Karl's has to be one of the most important voices 'In New Zealand Today'. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Pronoun ommission an offence?

The Public Service Commissioner is recommending employees include a pronoun in email signatures. This to signal their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Get this:

Having pronouns in an email signature signals you as an LGBTQIA+ ally.

So, if you don't want to add 'she/her' or  'he/him' to your signature you are an LGBTQIA+ enemy?

This is exactly like the compulsion to actively support 'black lives matter' or be told your 'silence is violence'.

The use of coercion to make people think and behave in ways the state sees fit is reprehensible.

If a transgender or gender diverse person wants to adopt the practice, fine.

Surely we don't all have to be the same. Isn't that the point about diversity?

More upheaval coming at Oranga Tamariki?

 Back in July I questioned how long the stand off between the head of Oranga Tamariki and Maori advocates calling for her resignation would go on for.

Newshub/NZ Herald is now intimating Grainne Moss' resignation is imminent. With Tracey Martin out of parliament - who stood by Moss as Children's Minister - and her replacement, Kelvin Davis (as well as the PM) refusing to publicly express support for her, it's hardly surprising.

What a poisoned, politicised chalice that position is.

1999 - 2003 Jackie Pivac quit 10 months before contract end after a bad review of CYF

2003 Paula Tyler quit late 2005 just 14 months into a three year contract

2006 -2010 Public service veteran Ray Smith appointed

2010 Bernadine McKenzie appointed and quits in 2015 ahead of Rebstock report into CYF

2016 Grainne Moss appointed from the private sector and ....

Update: Grainne Moss says, "I'm not set to resign, I can confirm I'm staying in my role... I'm absolutely committed to the kaupapa, we've made lots of progress, but there's lots more to do and it's a privilege to be able to have an opportunity to improve the outcomes for tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau".

Monday, November 23, 2020

Labour govt gradually increasing % of your income they spend

StatsNZ released household accounts data on Friday.

Important to note they apply to before the lockdown.

Of interest, spending on health, education and housing is increasing as a % of disposable income per capita:


Income tax payable by households increased 7.2 percent to $41.5 billion.

The major point made in the StatsNZ release:

New Zealanders are spending almost everything they earn, with only about $700 million in household saving in the March 2020 year, slightly less than in 2019, Stats NZ said today.“That’s the equivalent of each occupied household, numbering 1.79 million in New Zealand, earning about $412 more a year than they spend,” national accounts senior manager Paul Pascoe said.