Thursday, December 31, 2020

Kiro made Dame Companion - And didn't she deserve it!

A prophetic post I wrote just under 12 years ago. 

(The petition referred to would have been that opposing the criminalisation of smacking).

Where America goes...

 The saying used to be "Where Britain goes..." but with identity politics paramount NZ is just as likely to follow American thinking and practice. Here's an article from the New York Post. Doesn't take much imagination to draw the parallels with this country and recent political developments in the child protection arena:

"Child-welfare agencies’ rush to go woke is terrible for the kids"

How do we prevent child abuse? First, we have to stop racism. That message has lately invaded the child-welfare system. The triumph of today’s fashionable ideological nonsense in this particular field carries exceptionally high costs — and abused kids will pay them.


Monday, December 28, 2020

Holiday quiz

Here's a holiday quiz for you.

Read the following article to identify what is 

1/ Factually wrong with the headline and;

2/ What is the missing statistic?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Another taxpayer-funded talking head

 If I have a New Year's resolution it is to stop using the word 'we'. I was about to start this post with the sentence, "We appear to employ some very woolly thinkers in highly paid roles." But I am not part of the 'we'. I disagree with the existence of the role and I have nothing to do with selecting the incumbent.

But I was reacting probably to her use of 'we' constantly. 'We' seems to mean NZ as a country. Today it is the Equality Commissioner who has made statements that don't stand up to scrutiny. 

“The aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown had been a chance to improve society in terms of equality, she said, and the country blew it.

“We all talked about the recovery being the recovery for everyone. Well, that’s not happening now and unless there’s some significant intervention, we’re moving into a more unequal New Zealand, and that’s not the New Zealand we want. 

We made that decision during Covid to pay people who had lost their jobs a different rate to those people who were already on the benefit. It’s kind of like we had this moment in time, we went back to who’s worthy and who isn’t worthy.

“We’ve got to somehow get rid of that, we’ve got to somehow move on from that past thinking to considering every person to be equally worthy of life and of dignity.”

A higher payment rate was based on the outgoings of those who became unemployed during Covid. It was also temporary in nature. So if the Commissioner's framing was sound, people were more worthy for 12 weeks and less worthy thereafter.

Secondly the welfare system moved on from the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' under-pinning decades ago after the Royal Commission on Social Policy of 1972 that embraced everybody's right to participate in society in a meaningful way. New Zealand then started financially supporting people whatever the cause of their inability to support themselves. Those who rendered themselves unemployable would be carried indefinitely. Those who made themselves unmarried, unemployed mothers would be carried indefinitely.

That has not changed.

New Zealand is a country that prides itself on this fact: everybody who cannot support themselves will be supported by the collective by law.

The 'deserving' and 'undeserving' premise under which the welfare state was initially designed (hence dependents stayed low for many decades) was long ago abandoned.

The Equality Commissioner is wrong in her belief that it's alive and kicking. I accept she could provide some sketchy examples eg different rates for different ages, but these distinctions are largely pragmatic. The benefit system is a no fault - and no blame - security system (which continues to cause controversy and political division.)

What she is actually calling for is the philosophical status quo with much higher payment rates. No need to dress it up in sentimental sermonising.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Silly street names

 It is Xmas day and if you didn't laugh..... 

According to the Adam Smith Institute newsletter, "... Birmingham unveiled new street names such as ‘Diversity Grove’ and ‘Equality Road’, though there was no mention of ‘Hard Work Hill’ or ‘Courage Crescent’ or ’Self-Help Square’ or any other virtues that might help us out of this mess."

 It's true.

And not far away, in West Yorkshire, Anarkiwi reports about police defining hate incidents (which are BTW "non-crimes".) From their website:

Examples include:

Verbal or online abuse, insults or harassment, such as taunting, offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, dumping of rubbish outside homes or through letterboxes, and bullying at school or in the workplace.

Jeepers. It is entirely possible that a 'Hard Work Hill' sign falls under the category of  "offensive poster" by some nutter's standards.

Don't choke on your Christmas pud. There'll be a lot more of this coming our way in 2021!

Happy Days.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Admission and redaction

 Yesterday the build up of prisoners on remand made headlines on Stuff:

The chief ombudsman has raised the alarm over the growth of people waiting in prison that have yet to be convicted of a crime, which are set to be more numerous than those who have already been sentenced by 2029.

In his annual report, published this month, chief ombudsman Peter Boshier​ said the remand population, people in custody awaiting their case being heard in court, already made up more than four out of every ten prisoners in New Zealand.

 I 've blogged about this previously.

So I thought I'd have a look for any relevant commentary contained in the Briefing to the Incoming Justice Minister:

An admission that delays are causing "stress and physical and mental harm." But then frustratingly a redaction. Ironic when the prior sentence refers to improving the public's confidence in, amongst other things, a "transparent" court system.

This situation represents yet another failure of government to deliver the services we are taxed for. It's repeated in housing and mental health, which are both associated with criminal offending. Significant problems escalated under the last govt and I can't see the current one doing much but playing catch-up in the forseeable.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Sex with impunity

Sex with impunity is a jolly good idea. Apparently vasectomies spike after Xmas when Dads have spent a great deal of time around their children. I suspect the real reason is that people often enter the new year resolving to get around to things they had been putting off.

Snip Clinic has even offered vouchers for Xmas presents.

Vouchers for vasectomies... Where could we go with that without getting into deep shtuck?

What the heck. Let's go further. Reward points! Cash!! Serious cash even!!!

It's a fact that prisoners have more children than average males. Lets start there. Six months prior to likely release. The inmate could then re-enter society with a serious dollop of money instead of the paltry Steps to Freedom grant of a couple of hundred. In any case 'steps to freedom' by definition would most definitely include sex with impunity - probably the first item on his tick list of  'to-do's'.

Gosh. What a splendid suggestion.

(For the often and easily outraged I have one word - VOLUNTARY.)

Update. My 22 year-old daughter tells me this is a racist post... or, when I batted my corner, could be construed as such. Just returned from 4 years study in Dunedin some interesting household conversations are on the cards.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

At face value, an odd juxtaposition

 A couple of days ago I blogged some trends from the Briefing to Incoming Minister for Corrections which included:

- a growing proportion of the prisoner population who have histories of extensive methamphetamine use – associated with significant and lasting impacts on mental and emotional function, including anger control 
-  Levels of violence in the community - the number of violence victimisations recorded by Police has increased steadily over the last five years.

The latest prisoner stats have ben released and show:

A rapidly falling prison population could be the result of a number of factors: fewer admissions, more releases, shorter sentences...whatever, the net number is dropping and it's not the result of more community sentencing which is also decreasing.

Given the widening gap between forecast and actual numbers a significant policy change must be in play.

Andrew Little promised to reduce the prison population and it was an electon year afterall. 

The blue line is odd in another way too inasmuchas I do not know whether to read it as good or bad.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Is a return to the bad old days of high inflation on the cards?

 Government will lift the minimum wage to $20 an hour on April 1, 2021:

“This minimum wage increase will lift the incomes of around 175,500 New Zealanders – which means $44 more each week before tax for Kiwis working 40 hours a week on the minimum wage.”

Down the track it will lift the incomes of many more now that beneficiary rates  are linked to wage inflation.

 “Signalling the minimum wage increases over three years has helped give businesses much needed certainty. Next year I will outline what changes we are intending to make in the coming years to give businesses time to plan ahead,” Wood said.

It makes life harder for businesses and there is no increased certainty about supply of labour if benefit payment rates are competing. Earlier Henry Cooke calculated, "...benefits will go up between $27 and $46 a week by April 2023 - between $10 and $17 a week higher than they would under the old formula."

To maintain relativity employers will be pressured to raise the wages of those above the minimum wage and are likely to pass their increased costs along to customers and nobody will be any the better for it.

It's going to be difficult for the Reserve Bank to keep a lid on inflation.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Revised forecasts


PREFU = pre-election fiscal update

HYEFU = half year economic fiscal update

"...the number of people receiving a working-age benefit (WAB) (Working-age benefits defined here as Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support and Supported Living Payment) is expected to be lower than was forecast in the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update (PREFU) 2020. This is mainly because the number of people on Jobseeker Support has been lower than expected. Since the PREFU 20, we saw fewer COVID-19 Income Relief Payment (CIRP) recipients than expected and also a smaller proportion of CIRP recipients transferred to JS than was expected, which contributes to the lower forecast number of JS recipients for HYEFU 20. We also did not see significant growth in the number of JS recipients following the end of the Wage Subsidies."


My crystal ball is no better than anybody else's. 

But so much activity is predicated on borrowed money.  


The hard copy DomPost leads front page with headline:

Abuse in state care 'astounding'

 "As many as 655,000 children went through different care institutions between 1950 and last year and up to 39 per cent of them could have been abused..."

Not included in the lead story was that 1,332 people actually came forward to the royal commission (it appears later in the paper almost as an afterthought).

What interested me was this:

Andrew Sporle, who teaches statistics and research design at Auckland University, says the report risks giving credence to numbers that are far from established.

“If you say these are the results of research they get some sort of veracity that isn’t justified by the source of the data or what is done with it,” he says.

“The problem with that is, once it comes out with somebody’s name on it, then it becomes almost fact because people won’t look at the criticisms, they won’t look at the peer review. It will come out as fact because it’s got the royal commission’s name on it.”

Sporle points out that the Australian royal commission into sexual abuse refused to produce a report on the numbers because the data wasn’t strong enough. He believes the royal commission here should have taken a similar stand.

“That should be the statement – sorry, the data is crap,” he says.

“Their methods don’t take into account the completely different age profiles between Māori and non-Māori, which means there are completely different population dynamics over the last 30 years. Which means they’re massively underestimating the impact of this on Māori society.

“If one of my stage 3 students had done that, I would have failed them. Seriously, it is that bad.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Corrections - violence increasing

I've been browsing through the various Briefings to Incoming Ministers here and here.  All I've looked at contain redacted sections which is probably ops normal but belies the claim to being the "most transparent government ever" nevertheless.

Here are some interesting trends noted by Corrections:

- an increase in the proportion of the prisoner population who are gang affiliated (now 35%), which mirrors growth in gang membership in communities. Gang members are over-represented in acts of disorder and violence in prison

- a growing proportion of the prisoner population who are on remand, with a strong association between being on remand and incidents of disorder within prison

- a growing proportion of the prisoner population who have histories of extensive methamphetamine use – associated with significant and lasting impacts on mental and emotional function, including anger control

-  Levels of violence in the community - the number of violence victimisations recorded by Police has increased steadily over the last five years.

In addition to this, over 75 per cent of the prison population have convictions for violence in their offending histories, and more than 90 per cent have had a lifetime diagnosis of a mental health or substance abuse disorder.

I've blogged in the past about how the ratio of 'on remand' prisoners is growing rapidly. That trend also rates a mention and this table is provided:


Then there is a sub-heading, 'Responding to extremism' :

There has been an increase in the number of people we manage identified as potentially holding extremist views or displaying risk factors and indicators specific to radicalisation or violent extremism. Corrections has taken several steps to respond to this, including by: 
• Establishing a Prisoners of Extreme Risk Directorate – we recognise that additional measures are needed to safely manage those who present an ongoing risk of harm and the potential to influence others to engage in serious violence. 
• Making violent extremism an intelligence priority – Corrections Intelligence operates in support of the Government’s National Security and Intelligence Priority (NSIP) of Terrorism, engages in prevention and disengagement initiatives with partners (government, community and academia), and has supported the development of individualised treatment plans for people displaying extremist views.  

 But then the final paragrapgh is again redacted

Iwi working constructively with OT

The media is always looking to beat-up on Oranga Tamariki. That their Chief Executive is moving on to Internal Affairs is reported thus:

Grainne Moss has confirmed Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive Hoani Lambert has resigned, but she herself is not stepping down.

A clear inference is made by the framing of the resignation.

Anyway I shall report some positive news about OT to redress the balance.

On December 7 they formed their seventh agreement with Iwi.

This is an agreement to work TOGETHER.

Named Developing Te Rangapū Ahi Kā Roa, the strategic partnership agreement looks to build a sustainable and effective relationship between Oranga Tamariki and Wellington region iwi. It was signed by Helmut Modlik, Chief Executive Officer Te Rūnanga O Toa Rangatira, Wirangi Luke, Chief Executive Officer Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa and Oranga Tamariki Chief Executive Gráinne Moss at Parliament on Thursday...“We want to ensure that tamariki are thriving in the protection of their whānau, hapū and iwi and our strategic partnerships are helping us to continue the downward trend of tamariki Māori coming into state care.”


It would appear that some Maori - the radical separatists - want the resignation of Grainne Moss while others do not.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The nasty new collectivism

My parent's generation harboured bigots. People who put all Women, all Maori, all Teenagers, all Poms (to name a few of the flawed) into each of their collective boxes. They lazily stereotyped to their heart's content. 

My generation wrote TV series that highlighted the Alf Garnetts and Archie Bunkers - bigotted collectivists on steroids. Some viewers laughed with them. Others laughed at them. But they weren't muzzled. The players or the audience.

The response came by way of a rejection of nationalism (war), rejection of racism (civil rights) and embrace of feminism (women's rights). Like the welfare state these -isms have well-intentioned roots but get unwieldy, distorted and become a bigger problem than that which they formed to alleviate.

But there was also an underlying move towards individualism. A greater diversity of thought. Enabled by the improving economic conditions.

Individualism describes those who don't conform or subscribe to ANY collective. Individualists refuse to hold allegiance or obligation by sheer dint of type or class which are mere accidents of birth. Their identities, loyalties and reciprocal dependencies are chosen. Not imposed.

This freedom to choose lies at the heart of a truly free society.

I thought we were ever-so-slowly getting somewhere (along with the self-destructive over-indulgences along the way that have caused considerable havoc.)

But right now we seem to have come full circle, and collectivism is fashionable like never before. People hanker to be part of a group - especially those groups perceived as victimised. Grievance is earnestly sought and if the seekers can't legitimately be part of the aggrieved group, they protest vigorously in the group's name. Brand new groups are created and labelled, with the non-member creators then patting themselves on the back for embracing them! Unwittingly people are forced into groups of believers and deniers, enemies or allies. It's almost comical. Almost...

Except the new collectivism is best characterised by its propensity to rapidly lash out at, denigrate and silence any party that questions. Despite their largely collective facelessness, through mass communication they are far more powerful and influential than any individual bigot. This monstrous movement changes the meaning of words and disregards facts. So detractors are left impotent.

Though its economic 'solutions' to inequality and climate change are largely state-driven, its enormous power now displays in controlling the private sector by naming and shaming businesses and manipulating corporate cultures.

None of it is sustainable but they don't care. Because they think the world is ending anyway. 

I took a break to look at today's 'news' and found this from Alison Mau:

“[David] Seymour’s attempt to skewer Mallard for wasting taxpayer money in litigation is misdirected, shallow and self-serving. Why is he not more seriously concerned about addressing, if not his women colleagues’ victimisation by his male co-workers, then the current epidemic of sexual crime experienced by the female population of New Zealand, as evidenced by the 6-month waiting list for help reported by all relevant agencies?

“In short, there is no help. There is just lots and lots of rape and serious sexual assault, everywhere.

“This is the serious concern Seymour should be raising in the media. This is where the serious cost is, both in taxpayer dollars and wasted female potential, most of it young. Perhaps he could initiate a cost deficit analysis to the country about this. He won’t, because nobody cares, least of all Parliament.”

This is the perfect example of everything wrong with the new religion that Mau is part of (kudos that she at least is not faceless).

First the chosen adoption of a severely contorted word - 'rape' - landed Mallard in hot water but devastated an innocent man. Mau approves of going after people first and finding out if they are innocent second.

So then she attacks Seymour for not behaving how she wants him to. Which is to collectively share the guilt of male harrassers because he happens to be a man. Idiocy.

I feel no shame or guilt for being the same sex as Mau.

(As an aside Brooke van Velden has taken mental health as her porfolio and is proposing remedies for waiting lists.)

But what can we do about this stifling atmosphere of convoluted and controlled thinking?

Resist. Communicate with your younger ones. Encourage them to think. Oddly, encourage them to rebel. That's the prerogative of youth. Some of their world view has justified roots, and we should listen. But many of us do have something they don't. A lifetime's experience of the world and its many earlier bouts of madness and mayhem.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Benefit numbers back to GFC levels

Percentage of working age people (18-64) on a benefit just hit 12% or one in eight (377,096).

Last time it was that high was 2010/11 during the GFC.

(It should be noted that benefits do usually spike slightly during December/January as students move onto a Jobseeker Support Student Hardship.)

Mallard makes more in a year than was paid to the slandered individual

Mallard makes $296,007 a year. Almost double what was paid to the individual he slandered.

That's what stuns me most about this revelation.

$158,000 seems a paltry pay-out for what the ex-parliamenatry employee endured.

Mallard has no mana going forward. He has no choice but to resign.

36 years is long enough. Bow out gracefully.

Update: There is talk on NewstalkZB that the falsely accused staffer recieved nothing. So was the $158,000 just court costs? Clearly I am not savvy about these procedures.

Update 2: The Taxpayer's Union has launched a petition calling for Mallard to pay the taxpayer back

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Cure worse than the disease

The New York Post reports:

Japan is struggling with a mental health crisis as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, with more people dying in one month from suicide than from COVID-19 all year long.

The National Police Agency said suicides surged to 2,153 in October alone, with more than 17,000 people taking their own lives this year to date, CBS reported.

By comparison, fewer than 2,000 people in the country have died from COVID-19 in 2020.

Experts say the pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues due to prolonged lockdowns, isolation from family members, unemployment and other financial concerns, and a lack of school structure.

Expect more examples of  'the cure is worse than the disease' (albeit Japan already has one of the higher developed world suicide rates.)

Those who impose the lock-downs don't have to deal with the god-awful reality of them. They are running around making adrenalin-flowing, power-tripping, momentous decisions, commanding a national, even international stage for perhaps the first and only time in their lives.

The rest of us can eat cake.

Monday, December 07, 2020

PM complains about sluggish child poverty data

 Stuff's Luke Malpass talks to the PM about her future priorities:

Ardern ... nominated housing, child poverty, and climate change as key areas she would continue to focus on in 2021.

In particular, the Prime Minister expressed frustration at how long it takes to measure child poverty data – 18 to 30 months.

The Child Poverty data is collected from the Household Economic Survey. The PM upped the number of respondents from 5,500 to 20,000. Was that likely to increase the turn-around time for collection and publication of data?

However there is data she could get her hands on WEEKLY. 

Children on  benefits are considered to be among those in poverty. That's why the Children's Commissioner wants benefit rates increased. Remember, "One of the best ways to reduce the number of tamariki in poverty is to raise whānau incomes by increasing benefits."

So an early robust measure of child poverty would be the number of children on benefits.

Currently the number of benefits in place is published every friday and lags by JUST ONE WEEK.

Data relating to benefit type, gender, age, ethnicity, duration of stay and broad age of sole parent dependent children are all available. But not the number of dependent children attached to primary recipients.

From my own Official Information requests I know the number has risen. Hardly surprising. But it had risen substantially BEFORE Covid.

So why doesn't the PM use 'children on benefits' as an indicator?

Because she has chosen household income as her primary measure. That's a lever she can pull. Household income can be lifted by increasing benefit income, which she has done in a number of ways.

But there's trade-off. The only conclusion one can draw is that she would rather see children on benefits than see children in poor working households.

Big mistake.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

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.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

NZ's child protection agency is informed by...

 ... a recent Oranga Tamariki paper titled:

UNDERSTANDING MĀORI PERSPECTIVES:Tamariki and rangatahi who are victims of sexual violence or display harmful sexual behaviour


"Sexual violence and harmful sexual behaviours were considered uncommon before the arrival of settlers."


"The idea that men have a right to dominate women or children was not a feature of Māori society and stories about interpersonal violence towards women and children in the past are not common nor was rape widely understood or embedded in Māori language." 


Has anybody told the Mob?

Could Oranga Tamariki researchers please approach them with this revelation?

They are bound to see the error of their ways once pointed out by accredited academics.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Aotearoa or New Zealand?

 Did anyone notice the irony of new Tourism Minister Stuart Nash speaking at Summit Aotearoa  saying " ‘Brand New Zealand’ is paramount"?

The government and the public service are determinedly moving to Aotearoa as the name of this country.

But the world they want to court knows it as New Zealand.

A government running with the hares and hunting with the hounds...

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

On whether our falling fertility rate matters

Talking to Heather du Plessis Allan on NewstalkZB this afternoon (the article was generated before the interview).

Update - Kerre McIvor picked up the theme and some of the interview this morning. Great. Exactly what the report was intended to generate. Discussion.

Two worlds

Using the Maternity Report web tool I have extracted birth profiles for the most southern region of New Zealand, the Southern DHB and the most northerly region, the Northland DHB. Ministry of Health definition, "Deprivation quintiles of residence range from 1 (least deprived) to 5 (most deprived)."

Note the almost mirror-like reversal of deprivation quintiles. In Southland most babies are born in the least deprived quintile whereas in Northland most babies are born in the most deprived quintile. What a fascinating contrast.

Just for good measure let's throw in the middle of the country, the Wellington region, Capital and Coast DHB:

Comparatively New Zealand is a great place to be born in but whereabouts in NZ predicts a great deal about outcomes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Lowest birth rate ever

 StatsNZ today on September 2020 data:

The total fertility rate was 1.63, the lowest on record in New Zealand. 

This trend began in 2008. There have been 12 straight years of falling fertility which includes Maori fertility.

Some will welcome this fall. I don't. The essence of life is procreation and family. Used to be, grandchildren living overseas was a major regret for my generation. Soon it will be, no grandchildren at all.

The main reasons for the decline are females putting off having children until their thirties. The window gets smaller and conceiving gets harder. 

And more females are remaining childless by choice.

The trend is a major demographic development mirrored across the developed world and being slowly echoed in India and very faintly echoed in the African continent. Countries that don't have falling TFRs are experiencing only slight upturns (from already low rates) due to aggressive fertility encouragement policies. When I last looked Hungary and Japan were two but both are still under New Zealand's current level.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Colin James on Seymour

Colin James makes this prediction (echoing earlier statements elsewhere not least by National's leader):

David Seymour will have trouble managing his disparate bunch of new MPs. 

I think I know what 'disparate' means. Different from each other. But let's check a google definition to be safe:

 essentially different in kind; not able to be compared.

Well I am very pleased about that. A party that represents individualism - individual rights must not be subjugated to collective rights - should feature free thinkers with varying interests.

You wouldn't want ACT to behave like a herd of sheep, very similarly to one another.

Seymour may have trouble managing them but does he want to? He needs them to be able to manage themselves.

They are all mature people. Worldly even.

There are bound to be political missteps in an environment where the media is salivating for a slip-up and not past precipitating one.

But parliament was overdue for some new blood that's not running through the veins of conformists.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Beneficiary debt balloons under Labour

 Under Labour the culture at WINZ was deliberately changed. Far more resources were put into ensuring that clients were receiving their full entitlements and fewer into work brokering. There was an all round softening of attitude, more 'kindness' I expect. That might also include approving more grants and recoverable assistance. Which might have the unintended consequence of driving more beneficiaries into more debt? (A bit like those nasty money-lenders Labour detests).

Someone asked the question and I've charted the answer.

Note the acceleration occurred BEFORE Covid.

Total monies owed:

Still. Look on the brightside. It's not a billion yet. Chickenfeed compared to this government's borrowing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Unfashionable truths

Bernard Hickey has joined the chorus calling for benefit increases. That's because beneficiaries will spend the money. But he fails to address the unintended consequnces of benefit rises.

1/ There is risk of landlord 'capture'

2/ All second tier assistance will be subject to reductions negating the benefit rise. If the assistance is redesigned so as to not reduce, then the margin between working and not working gets smaller and more people rationally choose not to work or to reduce their hours

3/ That will lead to even less productivity ...

4/ ... and more intergenerational dependence on benefits

5/ Finally there is no guarantee that the extra money will be spent on children (Hickey's implication with his final comment).

Which goes like this:

It’s worth leaving the last word to the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study of 6000 children born in the Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waikato DHB regions in 2008/09. There’s now eight and the latest report was published this week. Nearly 40 per cent are living in cold, mouldy and damp homes. About a third are obese. About 20 per cent of the families surveyed did not have enough money to eat properly.

Of 4,828 respondents 6% had a major problem with damp and mould; 31% had a minor problem. My expectation would be that minor problems are fixable problems. My own home falls into this category (though perhaps into the former category after this week's deluge.)

And what is "eating properly"? If its chicken and veges ... cheap as chips - literally. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that a family can eat well and inexpensively with some application and planning.

But truths are very unfashionable in 2020.

Raising benefits is a quick-fix; a deceptively appealing but ultimately damaging policy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Fathers forgotten again

 The Growing Up in New Zealand Study continues to frustrate me. Just released is their Now We Are Eight report. Yet again there is bugger all information about the fathers of these children.

The word 'father' appears 3 times in the 172 page report, ironically the last time in the appendix describing the study's "overarching research questions" which include, "How involved are fathers in children’s lives, and what are their influences over time on children’s development?"

The word 'mother' appears 468 times.

'Partner' crops up 18 times, the context of which relates only to

- partner conflict

- study methodology

Data relating to single or two parent households is inconclusive.

In the extracted chart 'parent alone' makes up a smallish percentage for each ethnicity, but the grey and green portions could contain either a single or two parent family. And the 'two parent' portion doesn't necessarily indicate two biological parents.

But that's all there is.

According to the Census 2018 (conducted around the same time as the Now We Are Eight report was compiled):

Twenty eight percent of families with children are one parent.

Next, in the past, the GUiNZ collection waves have included information about sources of income including benefits. Not this time.

Perhaps this is due to the Auckland University of Technology previously pointing out:

"A weakness of the GUiNZ data is that it may not be population representative and is not linked to administrative data.... Overall, 95% of GUiNZ children are born to mothers who are partnered. The GUiNZ sample seems to have low sole-parent status compared to a 2009 study that found one-third of families with dependent children were headed by sole-parents (Ministry of Social Development, 2010). This could be because being partnered in the GUiNZ data is not the same as their domestic-purposes benefit status, from which partnership status is inferred by other studies. We find that 70% of those who say they receive the domestic-purposes benefit also answer yes to the question of whether they have a partner – confirming that the sole-parent status derived from GUiNZ is essentially different to those studies which rely on benefit status to infer partnership status." 

Perhaps the GUiNZ survey designers do not want to 'compromise' the authenticity of reponses by including questions about benefits.

The media discussion created by the release of Now We Are Eight has been all about how the 8 year-olds responded to questions about gender identification.

More important than fathers, and whether or not they have one.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Briefly on partner violence being all one way...

Earlier last week Peter Williams, Magic Talk, decided to spend the morning discussing "men beating their wives". This was on the back of the Johnny Depp court case and the appointment of Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson as Minister for the Prevention of Family & Sexual Violence. His framing of the violence problem was decidely that it's a male issue. He recalled how he felt about the sickening violence portrayed in Once Were Warriors many years ago and how seemingly nothing much has changed. (I was simultaneously recalling that the author, Alan Duff, was blessed with a peaceful father but suffered a violent alcoholic mother.) 

Anyway, very quickly Williams  began receiving text after text taking him to task, and then callers describing female aggression and manipulation, a couple from grown children who had witnessed it with their mothers. A few people referenced David Fergusson's work in this area who steadfastedly maintained domestic violence is a problem with both genders.

Consequently I have been meaning to write something very brief and gather some international stats from GOVT sources ie crime surveys conducted by state agencies which canvas victim experience as opposed to police prosecutions, convictions, etc which always predominantly feature male offenders,. the type of statistics Williams was citing. Male victims generally don't report violence to the authorities.

But first, I came across this. A fact sheet from the US National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It is hard to imagine NZ's White Ribbon organisation being as even-handed in their advocacy:

1 in 4 men have been physically abused (slapped, pushed, shoved) by an intimate partner. • 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused (hit with a fist or hard object, kicked, slammed against something, choked, burned, etc.) by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.  • Nearly 1 in 10 men in the United States has experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported at least one measured impact related to experiencing these or other forms of violent behavior in the relationship (e.g., being fearful, concerned for safety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, need for healthcare, injury, contacting a crisis hotline, need for housing services, need for victim’s advocate services, need for legal services, missed at least one day of work or school). • 1 in 18 men are severely injured by intimate partners in their lifetimes. • Male rape victims and male victims of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences reported predominantly male perpetrators. Nearly half of stalking victimizations against males were also perpetrated by males. Perpetrators of other forms of violence against males were mostly female.  • From 1994 to 2011, the rate of serious violence (rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault) committed by an intimate partner declined 64% for males • During the most recent 10-year period (2002-11) for which data is available, nonfatal serious violence accounted for more than a third of intimate partner violence against males (39 percent).

So to my unofficial chart:

The US numbers reflect an earlier period  (2003 to 2012) than the others (2018-19) . The percentages reflect lifetime experience. IPV is expressed in different ways in different jurisdictions so I'm not 100% satisfied apples are being compared with apples. But the consistent gender proportions lend credibility to the reporting.

Before I leave the subject, remember these two? Exhorting men to march in the streets of South Auckland and "own the issue"?

National MPs Agnes Loheni and Alfred Ngaro. Never happened. Both gone. Out of touch.

Intergenerational reliance on benefits

Australian data depicting young Australians’ chances of receiving welfare (aged 18–26) by parental welfare receipt:

Sunday, November 08, 2020

What the hell is wrong with this country

 Again the effects of welfarism are manifested in waste and frustration.

New Zealand is heading into peak harvest season and there aren't enough workers to get fruit off trees or vegetables from the ground.

"This could be my last crop," says Heap, who grows courgettes near Waipapa in Northland. "I'm at the point where I'm not going through it again."

Northland for God's sake. Highest unemployment in the country. Thousands being paid to do nothing. NOTHING.

Worse than nothing in some cases. Paid to terrorise and steal from people who the govt has already stolen from to pay hush money. The flawed 'benefits reduce crime' theory.

What we are doing is insanity writ large.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

The gendered impact of COVID-19 on employment

The repeated and popular news story is how much worse women's employment was hit by the Covid crisis.

Stats NZ issued a release saying "Women have fared worse than men across key labour market measures..."

I'd have thought that the numbers having to resort to benefits was also a key measure.

Those numbers tell a different story.

My suggestion is this.

Men whose sole source of income was their job have fared worse since Covid 19.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Are beneficiary incomes too low?

 The new government is going to come under a great deal of pressure to lift beneficiary incomes from many quarters: CPAG, AAAP, Salvation Army, The Christian Council of Social Services, to name a few advocacy groups. Their parliamentary partners, the Greens, will also be exerting pressure.

Are beneficiary incomes too low?

One way of looking at it is, how do they compare internationally?

Below I have charted the assistance available to a single parent in Australia versus a single parent in New Zealand. I've only included the major income components: basic benefit rate, family tax credits for children and accommodation assistance. Certainly in NZ there is extra assistance available via special grants for additional accommodation needs, food etc. As well in Australia anyone currently on a benefit is receiving a Corona Virus $125 weekly supplement until December 31, 2020. That is not included. I modelled a parent with young children as that is when they are most likely to be on income support.

Although NZ's basic benefit rate is lower, family tax credits are slightly higher and maximum accommodation supplements are a lot higher resulting in a substantial difference between total incomes. Yes, its slightly cheaper to rent in Brisbane than Auckland but the government is only going to pick up a small portion of the cost.


Thursday, November 05, 2020

Unemployment rate versus Jobseeker uptake

The following graphs compare the September 2020 unemployment data released yesterday by Stats NZ with corresponding MSD Jobseeker benefit data. The first is a regional breakdown of the % of working age population on the Jobseeker benefit versus the regional unemployment rate:

The disparaties are more marked in the provinces (though StatsNZ reports Tasman/ Nelson/Marlborough/ West Coast as one region at 3.5% whereas MSD benefit data is localised).

The next depicts the numbers unemployed versus the numbers on Jobseeker by ethnicity.

Again it is to be expected that there will be some disparity given that Stats NZ data is a survey extrapolation whereas MSD data is actual receipt. 

For Stats NZ purposes, the 'unemployed' are offcially: "All people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, were without a paid job, available for work, and had either actively sought work in the past four weeks ending with the reference week, or had a new job to start within the next four weeks."

Based on that definition, many Maori  recipients of the Jobseeker benefit are not actually seeking jobs. Perhaps because they have a 'health condition or disability' as do 35 percent of those receiving JS.

Or, they have a part-time job and also receive JS.

I don't think the large gap necessarily shows anything fraudulent. But it does highlight a different employment pattern for Maori. For instance I expect there may be quite a number of Maori sole parents with older children, doing part-time work and being topped up by the Jobseeker benefit.

They are in the blue column but not the orange.

Monday, November 02, 2020

New Police Minister: Does she still want to reverse the burden of proof?

 Poto Williams has been appointed Minister for Police. 

I recall being rather alarmed about her views just three years ago:

Labour MP Poto Williams is calling for rape investigations to reverse the "innocent until proven guilty" legal methodology.

Labour's sexual violence spokesperson, Mrs Williams has called for radical reform of the sexual justice system which would see rape accusers believed by police as a starting point.

This would place the burden of proof on the accused - directly contradicting the philosophy of "innocent until proven guilty".

It's conceivable the new Minister for Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Green MP Marama Davidson could throw her weight behind this.

Am I wrong to be worried that we are in for some scary stuff?

And how come Greg O'Connor has never gotten anywhere near a police ministerial role with his decades of experience?

Too conservative. By a long shot.

The number of babies removed halves in two years

 Data from Oranga Tamariki show that in the year to June 2020, 151 babies  - aged up to three months old - were removed by the state due to concerns about their care and safety. (While officially under state care babies are most commonly removed to the care of a family member).

In 2018 the number was 299. A halving.

But the number of babies 'referred for assessment or investigation' dropped only slightly from 1,899 in 2018 to 1,848 in 2020.

A number of inferences can be taken.

Based on the investigation level being relatively stable, a large drop in removals must mean a change in policy/ threshold. That could indicate a lack of resources, eg available caregivers, or a deliberate attempt to lower the number due to political pressure.

I am eternally suspicious of sudden large changes in numbers in any data BUT to be fair OT has signalled a cultural change in behaviours.

I just hope like hell that this change in procedure - for whatever reason - will mean better outcomes for the babies. OT has claimed it as a success. Surely it's a little too soon to tell.

(Note also that the brief containing this data makes no mention of ethnicity. Also a departure from usual practice.)