web analytics

Education and poverty

Written By: - Date published: 11:32 am, August 5th, 2012 - 45 comments
Categories: class war, education, poverty - Tags: , ,

The Nats are running their various ideological policies in education, claiming (while contradicting themselves in the process) that they are trying to address the “one in five children” who do poorly at school. I’ve written on the subject of one in five children before, concluding that post with this quote (pdf):

Can it be mere coincidence that there are similar proportions (one in five) of New Zealand children in the Ministry’s “tail of underachievement” as there are children in the greatest poverty that is, non-working, beneficiary-dependent families?

If the Nats wanted to do something serious about addressing educational underachievement, they would be addressing child poverty, not farting about privatising education. Below is an impassioned plea from an American teacher. Because of it’s relevance to what is going on in NZ right now I’m going to quote quite a bit of it:

The hard bigotry of poverty: Why ignoring it will doom school reform

This was written by Brock Cohen, a teacher and student advocate in the Los Angeles Unified School District who contends that we can no longer afford to trivialize the critical role that poverty plays in a child’s learning experiences – and that true school reform begins with social justice. Brock’s students were recently featured in an NPR piece that charts some of his students’ daily struggles as they pursue their education.

By Brock Cohen

…  What had grown increasingly clear to me was that my students’ academic struggles did not simply stem from inaction, ineffective parenting, drug use, or neglect. While these elements were usually present in various forms, or to greater or lesser degrees, they weren’t the root causes of their failure; they were the effects of poverty. What I’d learned in less than a semester of teaching was that poverty wasn’t merely a temporary, though unpleasant, condition — like a hangover or the sniffles. It was a debilitating, often generational, epidemic.

While my teaching credential classes were perpetually bogged down with trivialities like journal reflections, acceptable formatting options for the three-tier lesson plan, and tales of woe that rivaled A.A. meetings, discussions or assignments that sought to unravel the poverty-learning conundrum never took place. In pursuit of other alternatives, I commenced my own research.

Study after study validated my experiences and observations from spending the past five months with disadvantaged teens. Healthy children require a nutritious diet, ample sleep, stable households, regular physical exercise, and access affordable health care. They require regular cognitive stimulation to give them the neurological foundations required for complex learning tasks. And they require affection and positive reinforcement to engender them with self-worth.

Most jolting to me was a 1995 study that remains every bit as relevant today. Published by psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risely,Meaningful Differences details the magnitude of a child’s early learning environment. It concludes that low-income children are typically burdened with a 32-million word gap by age 4, as well as deficits in “complexity” and “tone,” which measure the depth and intensity of verbal exchanges.

While I continued searching for answers, either Congress or the Bush administration could have thrown me a life preserver. They opted for an anchor. Rather than instantly improving the state of public education by proposing legislation that attacked poverty at its core, they put their bipartisan muscle behind one of the most onerous, ineffectual, and wasteful slabs of federal legislation in decades.

What was then billed as a reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), No Child Left Behind made quick work of common sense, setting multiple-choice standardized tests as the touchstone by which the nation’s students, schools, and, in many cases, teachers would be evaluated. The law’s founders assured Americans that what high-poverty kids needed was not better health care, smaller class sizes, expanded access to pre-K education, or supervised instruction in using 21st-century technology. They needed to be tested more. Teacher and school accountability, tied to test scores, would rescue poor children from the brink of failure. (After all, it wasn’t cynical policymakers or a misguided electorate who were failing our nation’s public schoolchildren: The real bogeyman was “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”)

Put another way, a first-generation El Salvadoran teenager, crammed into a Van Nuys apartment while acting as the primary caregiver for three younger siblings, would ultimately be held to the same performance-level expectations on the same high-stakes tests as a girl from Palo Alto whose parents attended Dartmouth. Failure of schools to ensure this would (and has) lead to monetary sanctions, mass firings, state and private takeovers, and school closings.

And so, with the stroke of our President’s pen, the act of leveling the playing field was ostensibly underway.

But then the National Alliance for Educational Progress (NAEP) started producing stacks of data that divulged what many educators had already predicted: Testing the bejesus out of high-needs kids probably wasn’t going to make them smarter. Given to a cross-section of the nation’s public school students in 4th, 8th, and 12th grade each year, NAEP test results perennially revealed that the policies of NCLB have had no discernable impact on bridging the still seismic math and literacy gaps between low-income children and their wealthier counterparts.

Rather than reversing the wayward course of NCLB, however, President Obama’s approach has proven even more ineffectual — and draconian. …

Darling-Hammond has galvanized opposition to the brigade of privateers, economists, public officials, and think-tankers who insist that poverty isnot a towering roadblock to a child’s cognitive development. In a piece that rails against the government’s fusillade of sanctions aimed at so-called failing schools, she writes:

Poverty rates make a huge difference in student achievement. Few people are aware, for example, that in 2009 U.S. schools with fewer than 10 percent of student in poverty ranked first among all nations on the Programme for International Achievement tests in reading, while those serving more than 75 percent of students in poverty scored alongside nations like Serbia, ranking about fiftieth.

… In education, there are choices to be made that can indeed move the needle of student achievement. Developing a collaborative model, for example, can lead to improvements in the skills and study habits of disadvantaged children. But closing the so-called achievement gap between rich and poor will first require Americans to recognize a far more uncomfortable reality: The policies employed to purportedly address the struggles of low-income children have ushered in a new era of school segregation. Claiming that poverty is no excuse for student failure trivializes the damage caused by years of actions and inactions that have widened the gaps between rich and poor communities. Good schools aren’t molded through harsh sanctions, private takeovers, or even soaring rhetoric. They emerge from healthy, stable communities. That is, they emerge from a commitment to justice.

I don’t think I have anything to add.


45 comments on “Education and poverty”

  1. Excellent post, Anthony, you have clearly expressed the real issues around educational under achievement and provided useful evidence for why our Government’s approach will inevitably fail.

    I was concerned that the panel on Q&A missed mentioning the huge effect poverty has on education underachievement. Instead they still blamed schools for not dealing with the deficits that children bring to their learning. Of course teachers make a difference but as respected educationalist Margaret Wu claims, of all the influences on a child’s academic achievement (parents, socioeconomic factors etc) teachers only contribute 10%.

    National Standards won’t make a difference, league tables won’t help, Charter Schools are doomed to failure, we just need to lift the incomes and aspirations of our growing population of struggling poor!

    • Dv 1.1

      I think I heard Key saying on the news that if charter schools fai, he would dump them?

      That begs the question of what failure is and who will pick up the kids from the failing charter schools.

      Thank you Rob for the article.

  2. Dr Terry 2

    Thanks for this fine article, and thanks Dave for comment. Great to see that intelligence is still used in this manner! (I am concerned about the effects of MENTAL poverty among leaders).

  3. No it isn’t a coincidence, and yes, all we’ve got to do to reduce educational underachievement is reduce poverty. Or, in other words, all we’ve got to do to fix this relatively minor problem is first fix a relatively much more difficult and complicated problem. I’m sure you can figure out why that piece of information doesn’t actually get us very far along.

    • McFlock 3.1

      On the contrary: the first step to solving any problem is to correctly identify it and its cause.

      • Kotahi Tāne Huna 3.1.1


        Oh, and other countries have found solutions. The barriers are political not practical.

      • Psycho Milt 3.1.2

        As an identifiable cause, this one files under Well, duh. It’s as obvious to the people in govt as it is to us, the difference is they have a professional interest in pretending otherwise. This is as true under Labour as it is under National because neither of them has a solution for the problem of poverty, it being as described above “a relatively much more difficult and complex problem,” ie one without an obvious and easily-achievable solution. Pointing out the nature of the problem is easy – the tricky bit is where you come up with proposed solutions.

        • Colonial Viper

          Its not difficult to address poverty in NZ. Simply get the vast capital stocks which have been hoarded and accumulated on the sidelines (many tens of billions worth according to Bernard Hickey below), moving once again through local communities, and into the physical, tangible economy.

          There’s no scarcity of money in the NZ economy, just a scarcity of the movement of money through local communities.


        • mike e

          this country has done this before but has lost the balls to deal with it instead we have psycho rwnj’s telling us it can’t be done.
          RWNJ”S cover up solutions by spreading cynicism!

        • Kotahi Tāne Huna

          PM – not “the problem of poverty” – the problem is increased inequality. It’s not the same thing, and other countries have addressed it successfully.

  4. Craig Glen Eden 4

    Very sad to see Matt McCarten spouting the same right wing bullshit about one in five and blaming schools and their teachers. Quite frankly I am sick of people like him and brain dead pollies talking about stuff that they have no education in or done any real reading in. Labour Politicians like Jacinda and left wing commentators like Matt keep repeating the one in five line. One question about the one in five is who makes up the one in five? How many of the one in five have English as their second language, how many are special needs, how many come from poor homes, how many have learning difficulties how many are the suffering the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome bla bla.
    How all these issues are the fault of teachers who people like stupid John Tamahere blame again and again is just beyond me. For goodness sake when is someone on the left going to smash this one in five line out of the park.

    • Kotahi Tāne Huna 4.1

      One more question about the “one in five” – is it even true? The pass rate for NCEA level 2 is 85%…

      But it’s the old story – it doesn’t matter how well versed you are in the facts when your debating “partner” is happy to invent their own facts. No-one has yet figured out how to deal with a Gish gallop in a live broadcast – the lie races ’round the world in the time it takes the truth to get its shoes on.

    • Rodel 4.3

      At last. Someone speaks sense. The crap that is presented as statistically valid,by all politicians and even by some academics is appalling. Thanks..Craig but who will take notice?

  5. Adele 5

    Tēnā koe, Craig

    Matt McCarten does have knowledge of the educational under-achievement of Māori students within mainstream education. Mainstream education will blame the students, the parents, the communities, the drugs, the alcohol, fetal alcohol syndrome, the ozone layer – without ever thinking that maybe it is failing those students – who aren’t middle class, or white, or smart, or cute, or pleasant, or agreeable, or able. Students that generally won’t allow mainstream education to feel good about itself.

    Matt McCarten is ideally positioned to comment on educational under-achievement and poverty as both issues disproportionally impact on Māori. He also knows alot about institutional racism and bigotry.

    • Yeah, it’s all the education system’s fault – all the loonier Kiwiblog commenters seem to agree on that one.

      • mike e 5.1.1

        PM Sonkeys strategyTwo birds with one stone.
        Shift the blame
        Them make the teachers the scape goat

      • Adele 5.1.2

        Psycho Milt

        In terms of Māori being educated I would categorically agree with you – it is the system’s fault. The lack of recognition that perhaps non-Western peoples have a different way of acquiring knowledge or that cultural context is important to learning outcomes continues to be a failing of mainstream education. . .

        I am not too worried about loony Kiwiblog commentators – its the psycho-standardnistas that cause my eyes to roll.

        • Psycho Milt

          See the comment 5.2 by Kotahi Taane Huna below – that’s the main reason you and the Kiwiblog commenters are wrong about this.

          However, it’s also worth noting that our education system has great success with pupils of many cultures. Which means making Maori underachievement about culture is not only wrong, it’s a free gift for racists.

    • Kotahi Tāne Huna 5.2

      Adele, teacher effect accounts for about 10% of educational outcomes. Schools cannot make up for the problems caused by institutional racism and inequality. By blaming them you are buying into a completely false narrative.

      • Adele 5.2.1


        The false narrative is yours. Schools are contributors to institutional racism and inequality. The 10% of effort that teachers contribute to educational outcomes generally miss the mark completely when dealing with Maori students.

        As long ago as the early 1960s Maori teachers teaching in a ‘Maori’ way were making great strides in improving learning outcomes for Maori students. One such teacher (who was a renowned Maori artist and has since passed on) used to teach in a rural school in Northland. Most, if not all the Maori students there were labelled failures because they generally failed the tests provided by the school. He took to examining the class on subjects flavoured by Aotearoa. Where was this place, mountain, river, who was this Maori rangatira, etc etc. Of course the Maori students did spectacularly well whereas the non-Maori students failed.

        Even today there is marked improvement in outcomes when Maori students are taught in a particular way. The kohanga reo movement is a classic case in point. Whole families have been successfully engaged in the learning outcomes of tamariki – despite the deprivation and the social context.

        That movement was started by kuia on behalf of their mokopuna. 25 years later those kuia are now in their mid-eighties and still involved in the movement. In many ways the kohanga reo movement is a forefunner to charter schools.

        • Psycho Milt

          He took to examining the class on subjects flavoured by Aotearoa. Where was this place, mountain, river, who was this Maori rangatira, etc etc.

          In other words, like many teachers in small rural schools before and since, he found the local kids lacked much interest in reading and writing or maths and sciences, so he concentrated on giving them some basic stuff that would be useful to them in their future lives as peasants, labourers and housewives. It’s not an inspiring story, it’s a depressing one.

          • Adele


            The only thing depressing in this scenario is your opinions.

            Unlike you this teacher saw the potential in these children. Why do you assume that Maori children from rural or isolated communities would lack interest in reading and writing or maths and sciences. He reframed the teachings to be inclusive of their worldview. Rather than learn about the English Royal Family and the geography of Europe – they learnt instead geography using local and regional locations and the whakapapa of Rangatira. Having engaged their minds and their hearts these children would have a greater appreciation for knowledge acquisition of whatever sort.

            The teacher himself came from a similar background and his artworks now hang in galleries and private collections world-wide. Far from being stuck in a provincial rut he propelled Māori art into a contemporary age. Not bad for someone from a densely poor and rural background. And I guess the thinking was that if he could succeed when the dominant culture says – you’re a failure – than so could the children under his tutelage.

            Your type of thinking in a teacher is what is dimming the light on the potential of Maori children.

            • Kotahi Tāne Huna

              “…what is dimming the light on the potential of Maori children”?

              Is it teachers? Is it schools? Or is it the relentless grinding inequality and discrimination that Māori experience on a daily basis?

              Inequality that has increased faster in New Zealand than anywhere else in the developed world. That has been shown to affect rates of crime, violence, stress, health, and yes, educational performance.

              Now you may think that statement is controversial – it isn’t. Unless you get your opinions from politicians, that is…

              • UpandComer

                If that logic held then no one from a poor background would ever do well at school. Clearly, it’s rubbish, and it’s not just down to those kids having semi-decent IQ’s.

                Also, Kotahi tane huna, why are you opposed to something that might help to change the intractable depressing statistics on Maori educational achievement? You are actually at odds with the majority of Maori with your stance, Maori who are constructive, progressive, pragmatic and tired of useless attitudes and blame-mongering. As Adele says, why don’t you blame the Ozone layer too while you are at it.

                • Kotahi Tāne Huna

                  Is that what passes for logic in your mind – “no one from a poor background would ever do well at school.”

                  Do you think this is a strong argument, as opposed to a pitiful strawman?

                  You also appear to think that proposing a solution for “the intractable depressing statistics on Māori educational achievement” is the same as being “opposed to something that might help to change the intractable depressing statistics on Māori educational achievement”.

                  I conclude that you have diminished mental capacity. I will attempt to address this issue on an emotional level:

                  Inequality hurts people. If you want to make them better, reduce inequality.

                  • Adele

                    Kotahi Koretake

                    It is laughable that you try to educate Māori on inequality – you pompous twat. Its your type of hypocrisy and mealy-mouth platitudes that cause most brown people to vomit.

                    Your type of attitude is damaging to the efforts of brown people that understand the issues and realise the solutions and if you cannot support their efforts then get the fuck out of the way.

                    And as for suggesting that I am hating on teachers – if you read my posts with both eyeballs focussed in front – you will note that I was in fact praising the efforts of one particular teacher – or don’t fully qualified Māori teachers count in the scheme of your warped sense of social equity..

                    • Kotahi Tāne Huna

                      I am not the pain in your mind, and I’m not lecturing Māori, I’m schooling a potty-mouthed ignoramus, specifically, you.

                    • Kotahi Tāne Huna

                      PS: Is Papaarangi Reid “lecturing Māori”? Get a clue.

                    • Adele

                      Kotahi Hōhā

                      ‘Potty mouthed ignoramus’

                      Wow, such a ferocious backlash. Actually, I am chuffed and will share this with my pakeke roopu in the weekend:

                      Kuia 1: You were called what?

                      Me: A potty mouthed ignoramus.

                      Kuia 2: Honey, you’re too young to be using a potty.

                      Kuia 3: No, no, put your hearing aid in – some arsehole was calling her a dumbarse.

                      Kuia 4: Well, you go and bring him to us and we’ll sort the fucker out.

                      Koroua 1: That’ll be right – their husbands are all dead.

                      Kuia 4: And you can shut up.

                      From the ludicrous to the absurd – don’t quote Paparangi Reid to me, I work in health. Inequality is created by people like you thinking that they know better than people like me and Paparangi Reid.

                    • Kotahi Tāne Huna

                      Good, I’m glad I could bring some joy to alleviate your bigotry and prejudice.

                      Did I say I think I know better than Papaarangi Reid? No: that’s just a pitiful strawman you invented. In fact, Papaarangi Reid and others in the medical profession inform my opinion on this subject.

                      I note that the ethnicity of the messenger has a profound effect on your ability to understand the message.

                    • Adele

                      Kotahi Hōhā Koretake

                      You haven’t actually said anything meaningful at all in your posts accept to accuse me of introducing strawmen (wrong) and throwing in a Māori (Reid) to add credence to your white privilege posturings.

                      Ethnicity does in fact play a large part in the debate on inequality because it is largely along racial lines. So yes I do focus on your ethnicity especially when you as a white person attempt to lecture me as a brown person on what is inequality in this country and how inequality can be addressed to the benefit of the dis-possessed.

                      Inequality is driven largely by people like you in positions of authority – be it as politician, policy maker, purse-holder. I would rather deal with the likes of Crimp who is absolutely open about his prejudices than with people like you.

                      The last word is yours.

                    • Kotahi Tāne Huna

                      You work in the health sector, which puts you in a far higher “position of authority” than I will ever hold.

                      Your entire contribution has been to dismiss my opinion on the basis of my ancestry. Accusing me of “saying nothing” in these circumstances is a tad ironic, no?

                      Strawman No.1: ” you cannot support their efforts”

                      Strawman No.2: “don’t fully qualified Māori teachers count in the scheme of your warped sense of social equity.”

                      Strawman No.3: “people like you thinking that they know better than people like me and Paparangi Reid.”

                      If you want a lecture fuck off back to school. All I’m presenting here is my opinion, though I have a bit more than anecdotes about pioneering teachers to back it up.

                      We allocate massive resources to combat crime, to improve physical and mental health, to educate, etc. etc. Negative outcomes in all of these areas are driven by increased inequality. That we would be much better off addressing the inequality, rather than the symptoms, is self-evident.

                      As for your elegant justification for your racism: I’m sure Louis Crimp has one for his; perhaps that explains your preference.

        • Kotahi Tāne Huna

          Adele schools reflect the society they’re in? What an amazing revelation! Once again: teacher effect accounts for no more than 10% of academic achievement; no amount of hating on teachers in going to change that.

        • UpandComer

          Thank-you for this excellent comment.

          It simply puzzles me why it is that those who place complete faith in the public system in the face of decades of long-standing Maori/Pacific Island underachievement are so viciously opposed to anything that might change the status quo.

          • Kotahi Tāne Huna

            The answer to your puzzlement is simple – you’re wrong. The complete faith you imagine doesn’t exist, and neither does the opposition. However, when you grow up you will perhaps come to understand a well known phrase – “Something must be done, this is something, therefore this must be done!”

            • Rob

              Yes, a similar approach was tried in World War 1 in trench warfare. Wave after wave of young soldiers went sent over the trench wall to advance slowly upon the enemy. That kept all the bosses happy too that at least they were doing somehing. Still didn’t make any sense or difference did it.

              Juts mindlessly repeating failed actions is not a good idea.

  6. Carol 6

    Basil Bernstein said it back in the late 60s/early 70s:

    “Education cannot compensate for society” – he was talking about social class inequalities, but it could also refer to the any students from non-white middleclass backgrounds tend to find the education system a bit of a struggle. Our education system so often incorporates the values of the dominant groups in society.

    And, yes, education may go some way to help students from less well-off backgrounds, but poverty , as Anthony’s post indicates, has negative impacts on a child’s education in many ways.

  7. lefty 7

    I get very sick of people who say lack of education is a reason for individuals failure to be able to get good jobs and support themselves.

    The education system cannot lead to change. It will always reflect the society it is based in, and the fate of individuals in it will reflect the fate of individuals in society as a whole.

    If we structure our society to produce winners and losers our education system will always reflect that, regardless of how good our teachers are and how big the education spend is. The best any improvements in the education system can do while our society is structured to glorify individual wealth accummulation as its main purpose is to produce better educated losers.

    In other words it’s pretty much a percentage game and the percentage of those failing at school must reflect the percentage of those the rich want kept on the margins.

    No change to the education system can alter that.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Further, whether or not you leave school at 16 without qualifications, or at 23 with a Masters degree and $80,000 of student debt – there are no jobs available to you, apart from stacking shelves at the local supermarket.

      And in that case, the 16 year old school leaver is instantly $80,000 better off than the post-grad.

      • Dv 7.1.1

        PLUS 7 years of income at min wage – 182,000

        • Colonial Viper

          Exactly – and when young people ask me these days, I ask them to think seriously about getting into a good trade with practical skills instead of doing years at uni accumulating debt and textbooks.

  8. seeker 8

    “Claiming that poverty is no excuse for student failure trivializes the damage caused by years of actions and inactions that have widened the gaps between rich and poor communities. Good schools aren’t molded through harsh sanctions, private takeovers, or even soaring rhetoric. They emerge from healthy, stable communities. That is, they emerge from a commitment to justice.”

    Thank you for this stunning, pertinent and “laying out the truth for us all to see” post Anthony. Am going to quote, quote and quote from it again and again, especially ”trivializes the damage”…

  9. aerobubble 9

    I’m eagerly awaiting to see these statistics, house buying will be so much easier when
    I know how stupid the kids are in the area, I mean what a joke, does the government
    really believe that all the time children spend growing up without the presence of
    a teacher, their intrinsic genetic, behavioral, cultural and religious can substantial be
    modified by teachers. I’m sorry but it says more about the educational standard of
    our present right wing government, who also believe that concentrating solely on
    results and ignoring inputs, like people, ecology, resource limits, and concentrate
    solely on profits only driven economics, is it any wonder they are so blind to their
    own stupidity. But then I suppose society chooses to become more inequitable and
    sectarianism needs these educational stats if its to become rooted and grow.

    • Kotahi Tāne Huna 9.1

      Society chooses no such thing – it’s the consequence of stupidity, not malice.

      The debate is slowly moving in the right direction though. I would like to see more discussion on policy to combat inequality.

      Should we redistribute wealth more evenly, for example? I think I know what sort of reaction that would raise in our right-wing acquaintances, but it would work.

      What about wage policy? Japan doesn’t need to redistribute wealth so much because there isn’t such a huge gap in salary levels to begin with. A policy to limit high salaries would add nothing to the wages bill, since companies could simply redistribute more equitably themselves.

      What about secondary measures like strengthening communities organisations such as unions, restoring rights to collective action?

      Just flying kites here, but I get fed up with debating all these issues – education, health, crime etc. as though they were unconnected.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • Freedom on the Seas – A gift from your friendly Government
    When the Government announced it would need to uphold public safety during the upcoming International Naval Review, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was talking about wearing life jackets. But actually, the Government is applying restrictions that stop people boating ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    4 hours ago
  • Time for Paula Bennett to front up on HNZ P Fiasco
      Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett needs to rein in Housing NZ and sort out the mess that’s been created by the organisation’s misuse of methamphetamine testing procedures, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.   ...
    13 hours ago
  • A charge on plastic bags – debunking some myths
    The launch of my Members’ Bill last week, which would introduce a 15 cent charge on single-use plastic bags at the check-out, has generated a lot of comment on mainstream and social media. From The Paul Henry Show at the ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 days ago
  • National’s $1trillion property sandcastle
    The National government's failure to fix the housing crisis has seen the ballooning and unsustainable property market touch the $1 trillion mark, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. "Labour wants an economy that creates high wage work that is based ...
    2 days ago
  • Government failure on housing crisis drives Reserve Bank to add tools
    If the Government was delivering a comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis, it is unlikely that the Reserve Bank would be continuing to pursue debt to income limits for lending for housing, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    3 days ago
  • International embarrassment for NZ likely over National’s failure to protect Maui dolphin
    New Zealanders who care about Maui dolphin should prepare to feel embarrassed: the Government is about to be put to shame on the international stage for its lack of action to protect Maui’s dolphin. The International Whaling Commissions’ 66th Biennial ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    5 days ago
  • Why don’t we spend $1b to keep people out of jail, rather than spending it on keeping them in?
    Earlier this week, Corrections Minister Judith Collins announced the government’s ‘solution’ to our burgeoning prison population. It seems that most, if not all, of Bill English’s hard-won surplus is going to disappear into another round of prison-building.  That must be ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    1 week ago
  • PKE Ship Sent Packing – Not Too Soon
    It is appropriate that the palm kernel expeller (PKE) ship off Tauranga has been sent packing. For weeks I have been saying this ship needed to be sent away, but it seems as if MPI has been trying to find ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    1 week ago
  • Do you #LoveSnow?
    I was a lucky kid. When I was about five or six my mum and auntie took me up to Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu and taught me to ski. As a young kid I thought there was no bigger ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    1 week ago
  • Awa Kairangi/Hutt River – Swimmable?
    On Thursday night I hosted a great swimmable rivers meeting organised by the local Greens in Heretaunga (Hutt Valley). It was great to see about 70 people attend and engage in the topic. We were welcomed by Te Atiawa representative ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    1 week ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    1 week ago
  • Barry Coates on his first weeks in Parliament
    Week one in Parliament has been quite an occasion. I would like to share the experience. I had given up on the prospect of getting into Parliament before the election and had been enjoying the diverse work I was doing ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    1 week ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    1 week ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    1 week ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    1 week ago
  • Vote Sooty Shearwater/Tītī for Bird of the Year
    Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) are amazing and deserve your vote in Forest and Bird’s Bird of the Year competition.  They make one of the longest known bird migrations, flying an annual round trip of 64,000 kms across the entire Pacific ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    1 week ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    1 week ago
  • Energy use going in the wrong direction
    New data out this week from Statistics NZ paints a concerning picture of energy use across the economy under this National Government. You won’t be surprised to hear that there is some seriously worrying information here about how dirty our ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 week ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    1 week ago
  • Junior Doctors go on Strike
    Thousands of junior doctors took strike action for 24 hours this week for better working conditions and safer working hours.  The Green Party supports their cause, and particularly their claims to reduce the number of days worked from up to ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    1 week ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    1 week ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    1 week ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Strengthening our relationship with the Rātana movement
    It was a privilege to visit Rātana Pā last week with fellow Greens’ Co-leader James Shaw, our Māori Caucus and senior staff to meet with the leaders of te iwi mōrehu, to strengthen the ties between the Green Party and ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    2 weeks ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disconnected thinking dirties the water
    Iain Rabbitts’ belief that drinking water quality, charging for water use and the land use that leads to water quality degradation should be treated separately is part of the problem we have right now in this country. The connection is ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Report back from Hands Off Our Tamariki hui
    This week I attended a hui in Otaki organised by Hands Off Our Tamariki about the proposed reforms to the Child Young Persons and their Families Act. Moana Jackson and Paora Moyle spoke.  They expressed deep, profound concern about the proposed ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s visionless immigration policy
    National’s recent immigration announcement is a continuation of the visionless approach to government that it has displayed in the last three terms. Rather than using the levers of government to implement a sustainable immigration policy that benefits new and current ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seclusion rooms in schools
    Schools are undoubtedly stretched and underfunded to cope with students with high learning support needs. But this cannot justify the use of rooms (or cupboards) as spaces to forcibly isolate children. It has emerged via media that this practice continues ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Public should get a say on new Waikato power station
    I had an opinion piece published in the Waikato Times about a controversial proposal to build a new gas-fired power station. It’s not on their website yet, so here it is: If you think the public would get a say ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • MSD and their investment approach
    The Government talks about investment but there is no investment. It is not investment if it isn’t over the whole of life and if there is no new money  — Shamubeel Eaqub   Investment sounds like adequate resourcing but this ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Certainty needed for community services
    A couple of months ago I was at a seminar where three community organisations were presenting. Two of the three presenters were waiting to find out if their organisation would get a contract renewed with MSD. Not knowing if their ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Domestic Violence – some advice for the media
    For the purpose of this piece, I’m going to use Domestic Violence (DV) as a proxy for intimate partner violence. DV is not isolated to physical abuse in a relationship between people with the same power. DV is a pattern of ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 weeks ago
  • Leroy’s New Paw Prints
    Leroy, an Auckland great dane recently received a new 3D printed bionic leg after cancer was discovered. I think this is a fantastic story and highlights the real potential of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing Leroy’s prosthetic was printed in titanium and was ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    3 weeks ago