Thursday, September 27, 2018

PM selective on the world stage

According to Scoop:

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner received global recognition when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about the Office’s work in her speech to the 9th Annual Social Good Summit in New York earlier this week.
As keynote speaker for the summit, hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of viewing the government’s work “through the lens of children”.
“I was struck by the work of our Children’s Commissioner recently,” Prime Minister Ardern said in her speech....
“It was heart breaking for me to read the comments from children, who even at a young age were choosing not to ask their parents whether they could learn a musical instrument or join a sports team because they knew the cost would be too much."

Children's Commissioner research also found that,

"...many young people explained that because they had grown up in gangs with their natural family or whanau, if they wanted to leave this lifestyle behind this would mean leaving behind their families...Many young people saw gangs as a way of being accepted, a possibility of good times and of not having to live in poverty." [my emphasis]

How does that stack up? Gangs are the best way out of poverty? Join a gang if you want to play the cello? NZ doesn't support the war on drugs because the status quo is putting money into families that need it?

Most recently Jacinda's best shot at 'making NZ the best place in the world for children to grow up in'   - her globally expressed goal - is greater redistribution of tax into beneficiary families, who just happen to include gang families augmenting their illicit income with welfare.

Lack of money is not the problem. That's a misdiagnosis. It is not the cause of New Zealand's internationally high levels of child abuse, neglect, youth suicide and imprisonment.

The poorest families will scrimp and save to give their children opportunities. Immigrants from third world countries come here specifically to ensure their children will have educational opportunities and brighter futures despite their own inability to earn more than very modest incomes. And they succeed.

They don't fail their children because they are constantly told they have an excuse: that they are poor because someone else is rich.

Ardern does the country no favours internationally or domestically constantly talking up child poverty. Again, it's a misdiagnosis of what it actually severely hampering the outcomes of around 5 percent of NZ children.

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.