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Grow the Commons

Written By: - Date published: 9:19 am, August 10th, 2016 - 57 comments
Categories: activism, Environment, farming, food, sustainability - Tags: , , , , ,

The following is a Guest Post from Robert Guyton.

Robert is a sustainability pioneer who along with his family grows the oldest food forest in NZ. A long time organic gardener, permaculturist and heritage orchardist, he’s a columnist, a regional councillor for Environment Southland, and an early climate change adaptor. 

Some time ago, I wrote a column describing a nascent movement called Common Ground that sought to link like-minded growers of plants under the umbrella of a shared name and an icon in the form of a Greenman sticker, which I promised to send out on receipt of a self-addressed envelope. The response to that idea was remarkable. My letterbox became, for several weeks, the scene of great activity; the postie’s, in filling it with letters, and mine, carrying those letters to my house for opening and reading. It was a delightful experience all round, replying to the charming messages, slipping the sticker into the return envelope and dropping them, one after the other, into the NZ Post mailbox in the village. I’d hoped there’d be a lot of gardeners out there who found the idea alluring, and there were.

The question then became, what to do as a follow-up to the initial excitement of being a sticker-carrying Common Grounder. Those good folk who now have a little Greenman stuck to their wheelbarrow, bicycle mudguard, or like me, front door, have no doubt kept on doing what they’ve always done – garden, filling their properties with plants of all descriptions and making their little corner of the world a better, more verdant place and for that I admire them as much as ever.

In recent days, I’ve been struck by an idea that I think could qualify for the title “Next Step” or “Phase Two” in the Common Ground story. With the weather being perfect for planting down here in the south of the South, I’ve been doing just that, lifting trees and shrubs that grew from cuttings set out last autumn and shifting them to their permanent homes. Only those final destinations are not inside of my boundary fences, but outside. I’ve been planting the Commons. In various overlooked and under-appreciated strips of neglected council land, I’ve been digging and delving, clearing and planting – apple, peach and plums trees, hazel and chestnut, nectarine, grape and quince.

I’ve chosen scrappy sites that no one wants, broom-covered bony land infested with cocksfoot, cotoneaster and holly, wasteland that can’t be built on or isn’t worth sowing in grass and mowing, no-man’s land, only it’s everybody’s ground, under common ownership thanks to the rates we pay our councils. I’m adding value to the overgrown wastelands by planting fruit trees that anyone and everyone will be able to pick from, once the trees reach fruiting age.

It’s a prickly business, planting in the blackberries and gorse. I’m covered in scratches and am forever digging thorn-tips out of my hands with pins and needles. I’m reminded of when I first began planting my forest garden here in Thames Street. Back then, I made the mistake of clear-felling the broom and gorse that covered the property and in doing so, exposed the site to the wind. Nowadays, I let the shelter trees stand and plant amongst them, hence the scratches. But it’s an investment for my community and we’ll all share in the harvest from those trees in years to come. I’m guessing that locally-grown, foragable food will become important in the years ahead, so I’m getting in early, establishing as many fruiting trees, shrubs and vines as I possibly can.

And here’s where existing Common Grounders and all other readers who like the idea come in – you too could grow the Commons. You know how to grow things and you probably also know where there is waste-ground that’s aching to be made useful and you may also have, as I do, grandchildren, who would love to clamber about in trees picking fruit for their dear grandparents. Naturally, I’ve chosen Grow the Commons as the name for this follow-up to the Common Ground concept, as it captures the intent of the second phase of the movement elegantly.

It’s a benevolent act, planting for the wider community on land that isn’t being utilised productively, though your local council might have some reservations (pun intended) about that. I’ve not bothered them with the trifling issue and suspect your own council will be as busy as mine with keeping the street lights on, the gutters swept and the thousand other important issues local councils have to deal with every day and won’t want to be bothered with the planting of a few pretty trees.

So, Common Grounders, that’s where we’re headed, out onto the Commons to grow for our future. Any anxiousness you might feel is probably justified, but it’s up to you and if you’d like to report in and tell me about your progress, my letter box is swept, its hinges oiled and ready to receive mail. If there are new-to-the-idea readers who would like a Greenman sticker for whatever purpose, send me a stamped, self addressed envelope and I’ll send one your way – 20 Thames Street, Riverton, 9822.

Happy planting.

A version of this article first appeared in the August edition of New Zealand Gardener.

57 comments on “Grow the Commons ”

  1. Thanks, weka, for putting up my story; it’s a bit wordy but I hope, interesting. At our weekend fruit tree sale a number of people bought our grafted heritage apple trees with the intention of planting them outside of their own boundary fences, having read this article in last month’s NZ Gardener. I hope that TS readers might be similarly inspired 🙂

    • Sabine 1.1

      i will go down to my garden in two weeks. I have discovered a Quince, Walnut, Lemon, Apple, Grapefruit tree sofar. A little rickety Green house full of cacti (?) and stuff. it will be exiting to go there and see what grows under the ‘weeds’ infact it will be fun to see what ‘weeds’ grow in my garden.

      While I understand the need for common food sources and the likes i would like to raise the issue of potable water. In Europe -especially old Europe – all the villages have public fountains – often two – one for people and one for animals. However that is one thing that seems to be completly overlooked in NZ. We can not overlook this issue as water born diseases may be a bigger killer then lack of food.

      Also a thing that I would like to see in my future ‘commons’ ( we are several friends that have bought small houses with big gardens in a small rather empty village in the middle of the north Island) is a bread oven. Again, being someone who has lived in very old villages in Europe the community oven often still stands.

      The planting of the gardens and the sharing of the fruit is important, but we need to include water treatment, water storage and common ovens to help us in the long terms.
      I would also like to know more about the maori way of storing food. I believe they had some sort of ‘underground’ storage.

      Thanks again for this beautiful read.

      • weka 1.1.1

        “( we are several friends that have bought small houses with big gardens in a small rather empty village in the middle of the north Island)”

        Nice one!

        The old European Commons oven reminded me of this essay by Dmitry Orlov about Russian villages and their relative immunity to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Interesting descriptions of private and communal spaces and resources,

        https://web.archive.org/web/20051225160222/http://www.survivingpeakoil.com/article.php?id=our_village

        Love this bit about communal benches. The sauna one is interesting too.

        The main elements of communal life are visits, barter of food and favors, and use of sauna. Visits are almost universally unplanned and unannounced. Most often, people stop by on the way, sometimes coming into the yards, and sometimes simply talking across the fence.

        The village has many benches scattered throughout, which consist of a length of split log hand-planed smooth, flat side up, which is joined to two round logs, which are buried vertically into the ground. These are found both next to the houses and outside the fences, and are used to sit and chat with neighbors. There are benches where you can warm up on sunny but frosty mornings, and benches to while away hot mid-afternoons in the shade. There was even a bench where I could stretch out on a clear night and watch the myriad of stars, the asteroid showers, and the Mir space station whizzing by periodically. I have built several of them myself, in strategic locations.

        Typical examples of barter involve exchanges of rabbit meat, eggs, vegetables and other perishable items that would otherwise be distributed unevenly and perhaps go to waste. Staples such as potatoes are generally not bartered.

        Sauna use presents one of the more complex examples of social interaction in Soykino. During my stays there, it was my responsibility to fire the sauna at least once a week, but since I enjoyed doing it and had little else to do, I fired it twice a week. It was quite a bit of work, but it made me instantly popular.

        • Robert Guyton 1.1.1.1

          Benches! That’s brilliant and simple. Planning…

          • weka 1.1.1.1.1

            Isn’t it great? And a neat way to bring in the carpenters and woodworkers in an area.

            • Robert Guyton 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Funny that you say that, weka. A young guy has just moved to the village, set up shop and is calling himself “The Funky Joiner”. He specializes in creating furniture from found timbers, recycled building materials etc. I’ll call in and see him soon, with a proposal…I can’t help seeing images from “The Last of the Summer Wine” in my head.

        • Sabine 1.1.1.2

          same go anywhere in France, Italy, Sardenia, Corsica and Germany and you will find benches. A good place to sit for the elders to have a chat and observe the life around them.
          Market places in the middle of the villages. A game of boules, a village fest with music on the day of the Patron Saint, the most favorite fruit (in France and Corisca it is often the edible chestnut) and so on and so on. While quite open to gossip it is also open to trade and barter.

          One thing i miss very much in NZ.

          • miravox 1.1.1.2.1

            “One thing i miss very much in NZ.”

            The benches thing is something that I’ve taken note of while in Austria. Not just in terms of how well they’re used, but also, as with plants, drinking fountains and decorative shop fittings, that no-one thinks they need to be CCTV’d, bolted down or removed to prevent them being damaged or stolen.

            And they’re right… the community garden on the busy Donau Kanal, pretty boozy over the summer, is never vandalised, and the seating never removed.

            That was pretty much the first thing that made me sad for my country.

            Anyway, I’m thinking about what will happen if I try to convert our unused carpark space at our Wellington apartment to a raised garden when we get back…

        • Sabine 1.1.1.3

          i asked the bloke who lives in my house to build me a sauna.
          his expression, priceless.

    • weka 1.2

      Any tips for planting in the Commons Robert? Do you plant as in your food forest, or do anything special? Compost? How big a hole? etc

      • Poking wands into the ground is perhaps the simplest method. Casting seed. Pushing nuts into the soil. Lugging trees in planter bags is the most difficult approach and the one I avoid now. Grapes grow easily from a section of vine pushed into the ground at this time of the year. I go for ease of planting, in my garden and out in the wildlands.

  2. save nz 2

    Nice post.

  3. Good one Robert. Walking the walk as well as talking the talk – the revolution in action.

  4. Hi, Sabine. Your comments about water are valuable in light of what we are developing in our small Southland town where The Council has extinguished interest in independent water storage of rainwater collected from the roof, in favour of a reticulated supply from a dirty river. In response, we installed tanks and collect our own, encouraging all of our friends to do the same, which they have done or are doing. Railing against authorities is one thing, making real what you believe to be right is another. The hill behind our town has numerous springs issuing from it, but very few are used for anything other than watering stock. They are a valuable asset that could be carefully managed to the benefit of our community. A community bread oven is another development waiting in the wings for our wee town. We’ve a semi retired architect planning/hoping to build a brick oven like the ones he has studied from earlier days in New Zealand and as well, we have several specialist bread makers, young people who have moved here for what they see as a great chance to create a community, who are encouraging our architect to make his/our dreams come true. Regarding food storage and especially “Maori” storage methods, I have drawn up plans for a raised pataka based on an old photograph of one that stood where the school sits presently. Not difficult to build and very elegant. There are “European” storage methods that suit just as well, such as the “apple house” my wife is determined to build to store our heritage apple crops. I’m using the “cider” method to store the tangiest apples 🙂

    • Sabine 4.1

      oh the cider method is and excellent storage for pears aswell.

      i am just struck by some of the villages i have lived in France that have recorded history going back to the Templar that as a standard have two at least sometimes three fountains. One for watering people, one for watering animals and one for washing – a safety aspect for the women i would guess.

      I have subscribed to a bread page on fb Universal bakers, and often there are video of community ovens from around the world, very interesting and yes i would like to have one in my village.

      I will install as many water catchment containers as i possibly can, but think that in order to fend of water born disease every community needs to do better then just relay on the individuals effort, especially in regards to purification etc.

      If you have an FB page or email one can contact you that would be awesome.

      • I’m easily reached, Sabine. Here’s my email: rguy10@actrix.co.nz and my blog: http://www.robertguyton.blogspot.com
        I’ve done pears, perry, over the past couple of years. We are growing a collection of gorgeous heritage pear trees we grafted from old trees we found surviving in farm orchards around the region, tastes like no other, shapes that amaze. I agree that while individual sufficiency is good, shared resources are also vital. Infiltrate (water allusion there) your councils, create your own (easy) and adapt what’s already in place. Some people won’t be able to get busy with these things, so working on their behalf is necessary and rewarding.

  5. Siobhan 5

    Auckland transport Proposed planting guidelines for berms…”Any planting shall not be edible ”
    https://at.govt.nz/about-us/asset-maintenance/footpath-berm-maintenance/

    I’m looking forward to someone planting edible ‘weeds’ and flowers and seeing how that plays out in Court. It is so petty to allow, presumably ‘pretty’ plants, but not edible plants…they do seem to have an issue with fruit trees, as they envisage piles of rotten lemons or feijoas all over the pavement, which I suspect would not be an insurmountable problem, yet I do see olive trees planted around which seems odd.

    • Hi, Siobhan. The guidelines have left a huge loophole for keen planters, in the enormous range of plants that are “pretty” but also edible. Into which category do they shunt hosta, for example being edible in the way asparagus are, or day lilies (edible flowers), evening primrose (edible, tasty too), kawakawa, cardoon and arugula. There are a host of ornamental perennials that would feed an army, if they only knew about them. Don’t mention the edibility and no one will know 🙂
      Next, shrubs with edible small fruits. Did anyone say Chilean guava? Or Chilean wineberry for that matter? Chinese dogwood? Yum. This trees don’t look fruity, nor do they drop their crop in the way the transport authorities would notice.

    • weka 5.2

      “Any planting shall not be edible”

      Good grief, how on earth did they rationalise that? Was it just the rotting fruit on the ground thing?

      • Siobhan 5.2.1

        They include this little gem…”They also have no right of ownership of any flowers or produce grown in the road corridor.”…they possibly envisage angry old folk getting into ‘pavement rage’ with the kids down the road pilfering ‘their’ fruit.
        To be fair, I think Council employees live in dread of enraged pensioners with fax machines contacting them every five minutes.

        • weka 5.2.1.1

          Lol, maybe that’s the way to the revolution!

          Pretty bizarre to see the council claiming ownership of plants produced on their land. It’s very U.S-ian.

          • Sabine 5.2.1.1.1

            especially considering that the council actually expects private citizens to ‘maintain’ council property at their cost.

            • adam 5.2.1.1.1.1

              Not always, they will mow it if you are disabled, if you ask, and can produce evidence of disability.

              I’d like to point out that they did not accept a photo of having no legs as evidence of disability. They demanded a letter from a medical professional.

              Ah New Zealand a land of bureaucrats and pen pushers, each as stupid as the next one. Thanks national, your government has one thing which we can all be dumbly proud of, your ability to make the civil service even more useless and stupid in just 8 years of office. That must qualify for some sort of reward?

  6. Ad 6

    IMHO that Riverton thing is a shining beacon of goodness.

    We’ve visited a couple of times, and the knowledge and generosity of the staff are just terrific. A really positive example for us up here.

  7. Rosemary McDonald 7

    ” I’m reminded of when I first began planting my forest garden here in Thames Street. Back then, I made the mistake of clear-felling the broom and gorse that covered the property and in doing so, exposed the site to the wind. Nowadays, I let the shelter trees stand and plant amongst them, hence the scratches. ”

    Do you think Robert, that perhaps the same method can be used to change the social and political environment for the better?

    Try and get the good and better stuff established before getting rid of the unwanted elements. Using the unwanted elements to shelter the new and better aspects until they grow strong enough to stand alone…as part of an overall more sustaining environment.

    I don’t want to complicate a brilliant post…its just what occurred to me when I read that.

    (We have an acre, and have been self sufficient for water for years. I can’t abide the taste of town supply…Auckland especially…
    Are you in town? Are you vulnerable to neighbours’ agrichemical use? This was the reason the wheels fell off our 11 years of spray free, permaculture (Linda Woodrow, rocks) dream.)

    And may you cow parsley run rampant in your fields!

    • “Do you think Robert, that perhaps the same method can be used to change the social and political environment for the better?”

      Yes x 1000, Rosemary and that’s very astute of you. That’s exactly how I feel (and I hope, act). I need to go and lie down, I’m overcome with a tidal swell of hope 🙂
      When I recover, I’ll finish answering your comment.

    • Herbicides are the bete noir of the commons planter, Rosemary but every good thing needs a threat in order to keep it strong. I make and post signs, “Spray-free zone” or similar, if I’ve planted in the town, but elsewhere I plant in places that don’t attract attention or herbicide. If ever my plantings get sprayed, I shake my fist at the sky, though it’s not his fault, then increase my plantings elsewhere – one tree lost to the ‘cide people means a dozen more going in somewhere else from me. My own neighbours are in the main, spray-averse, but if one does begin to wave a nozzle around, I’ll be engaging in discussion. Talking about chemical trespass though, my forest garden was trespassed upon by a herd of cattle beasts over the two days I was away at the weekend! They tramped over ever square metre of the garden, repeatedly, probably reconnecting with their aurochy past, browsed and broke but I wasn’t concerned. I’ve always said the forest garden is the most resilient system of all, able to withstand fire, flood and drought, and now I know it shrugs off stampede as well. I got photos of the dumb beasts gormlessly stomping my garlic beds and have written about it for the next NZ Gardener, so I’ll profit from the incident. Here’s a clip from that story 🙂
      “It’ll be a while before all signs of their dropping-by are covered, but what their rude visit did do is strengthen my claim that forest gardens are indestructible. Floods may come, hail may fall, wind may blow and fire may rage, I’ve often said, but my forest garden will shrug off all threats. The complex mix of species, plant and creature, that make up my garden is resilient because of it’s variety and overall health and can recover from anything, even, it turns out, the attentions of a herd of cattle beasts. I’m pretty confident, though I don’t wish to bring bad fortune upon myself by invoking fate, that even if every plant in my forest garden was up-rooted by some storm of other cataclismic event, it’d quickly recover; there have to be millions of seeds in the ground beneath all of the plants growing there now, along with stolons and tubers, rhizomes and bulbs, all poised to reclothe the soil, should disaster strike. In any case, my garden cared little about the cows, disregarding them the way they themselves might flick a fly with their tails.”

  8. Macro 8

    Robert – whilst visiting Vancouver a couple of years ago I was struck by the many roadside plantings of fruit and vegetables. Beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and apple, pear and so on. All well maintained. It seems that this is quite a thing in the city with an active community group.
    Here in Thames our Transition Town Team have been pursuing a similar path with a good planting of fruit trees in parks and reserves. There was some doubt about the planting of peach trees in the Hall Arboretum (the oldest in the country) and they have been removed as they were next to the scion trees of the Hall’s Totara. (One has to be mindful of the areas chosen) A community Garden in the nearby reserve is also planned.
    In Perth from where I have recently returned the residential building sites are not much more than 400 sq m (if that) but there is an ample roadside verge and around where I was staying almost all are planted – many are now being planted in native species as continuing drought conditions makes the sustainability of exotics doubtful – but here and there, there are fruit trees appearing – olives, citrus, and banana do particularly well, as do mulberry and apple.

    • Hi, Macro – Vancouver’s great, from what I’ve heard, and Thames too with it’s TT team. Fruit trees are probably the most difficult plants to “install” in any town, village or city, as there are prejudice against free fruit (Biblical, perhaps :-))
      Do you know of the Free Fruit Peddlers? They profess to be planting stones and pits as they cycle the roads of NZ. Go the Peddlers! Peaches, btw, are simple to grow from the stone, in situ. Push them in and forget. May as well do a hundred as do one 🙂

      • Sabine 8.1.1

        can yo use commercial peaches?

        • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.1

          Yes, but it’s more interesting to find a tree that’s been growing in the area since Adam was an orchardist, and collect those stones. I’m growing Morepark apricots, the ‘old’ flavorsome apricots our parents loved, because they have ‘story’ as well as taste. A delightful elderly woman sent me a box of nectarine stones she’d collected from under her special weeping nectarine, a one-off she’d discovered, and those suit this zone perfectly, as the original tree thrived without spraying, ever. There are other stones I’ve collected from similarly unique and long-lasting trees across Southland. I search for them and people who know I’m searching, post stones, pits, pips, cuttings and so on, to me, out of generosity. Crack the pit before you plant outside in wintertime and let nature take her course. They grow readily. Nursery-grown stone fruit seem to harbour leaf curl. Home growns don’t 🙂

          • Rosemary McDonald 8.1.1.1.1

            “Crack the pit before you plant outside in wintertime and let nature take her course. ”

            So why would you ever bother with fiddly grafting?

            • weka 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Some trees don’t necessarily grow true from seed eg apples. Peaches seem to grow true though, every easy.

            • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.1.1.2

              For one thing, Rosemary, apples don’t grow true from the seed. Pip fruit have to be grafted if you want to enjoy the same fruits as the original tree produced. Pears, being pip fruits, are the same. Stone fruits are more likely to grow the same as or close to the original and so are worth trying. You might even improve on the original. Root stock does offer some advantages; many are selected for their size-controlling effect. Others are good at resisting certain diseases or suit wet soil, for example. I’m planting some grafted apple trees out and about on the “waste” spaces but only where I’m sure they’ll not be broken, etc, as grafting takes effort, whereas pits and stones are easy to do en masse so I don’t worry about them being mown or whatever. I like grapes for the ease with which they can be spread – poke a cutting into the ground and step back 🙂 Nuts are very easy too. Hazels in particular make great forage for hungry townspeople. There’s lots you can do with hazelnuts.

            • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.1.1.3

              It just occured to me, Rosemary, that you could plant cuttings of your namesake all over the show, just ’cause 🙂 What a lovely service to the community that would be. Rosemary cuttings strike easily and make attractive and useful foragable plants 🙂

              • Rosemary McDonald

                I’ll remember that…..;-)

                Lavender also, thyme, oregano, sage, clumps of chives,

                But mint….with caution! Tends to invade.

                And…nasturtiums…

  9. One Two 9

    Thanks for posting this information and to all the contributers in the comments section as well. Lots to follow up on and read further into

    This is wonderfully positive, informative and motivational

    • weka 9.1

      I’m into putting up more posts like this (writing them, guests posts), so if there is any thing in particular you’d like to see let me know. It needs a political context too (this one easily fitted into Green activism).

  10. Rosie 10

    One of the most enjoyable and convivial posts I’ve read in a long time. There is a lot of helpful and useful information in the post. Thank you Robert and commenters.

    We started with with other planting volunteers on the reserve over the road a few years ago. I have plans for round two, which will be culinary herbs and the self seeding types of herbs and flowers, but there is too much work to do in establishing and caring for our own garden without getting knackered!

    If you’re in Wellington you can get free native plants from the council to plant up your berm if you want to turn it in to a no mow zone. They don’t do food plants but I’ve not seen them object to people planting fruit and vege crops on their berms – and I have seen them, they look just delightful.

    We have 50 mountian flax/wharariki, 30 libertia’s and some carex on our berm. The flowers have helped attract tui, which we don’t normally see around here.

    It’s all good 🙂

  11. mauī 11

    A few people have made pushes for fruit and nut trees in my area.

    I’ll give you a few snippets from the Council email reply:

    “Fruit trees require intensive maintenance”
    “Residents complain about rotting fruit”
    “The trees create a rat problem”

    So we don’t have fruit/nut trees in our parks, while neighbouring Councils have recently made a big push to have them. This is the problem with conservative Councils.

    But I like the approach you’re going with here Robert, good stuff. It’s giving me some ideas 😉

  12. mauī – they’re practiced at putting up barriers, that’s for sure. It’s a blessing really, by-passing them, for their own piece of mind, and planting in places they don’t pay attention to. In any case, baskets of locally grown nuts and berries make wonderful surprise gifts for local body representatives, delivered to their offices at times when the grind of political life is getting them down 🙂

  13. Sans Cle 13

    This post and comments are inspirational. I’ve planted a few fruit trees on the verges of reserves, where the Council doesn’t mow. Always a bit apprehensive of Council workers’ reaction to them, and neighbours. But so far so good. My little gift to the future. Tit-for-Tat…..as I have received much from past generations.

    • Rosie 13.1

      “My little gift to the future. Tit-for-Tat…..as I have received much from past generations.”

      A lovely way to show thanks to past generations and keep the wheels of kindness and thoughtfulness turning. Kia Ora.

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    22 hours ago
  • Indigenous perspectives on unrestricted access to genomic data
    By Genomics Aotearoa researcher Maui Hudson, University of Waikato It is vital that genomics research respects genomic data and genetic heritage from indigenous communities. Genomics research is a rapidly growing field of study, and there is a strong push to make the huge amount of data being produced open ...
    SciBlogsBy Genomics Aotearoa
    24 hours ago
  • Terrible luck: lockdowns on learning and youth job prospects
    What is bad luck? Bad luck is spilling spaghetti sauce down your shirt right before an important meeting. When the person in front of you gets the last seat on the bus, that’s bad luck. Bad luck is when it’s sunny outside, so you leave the house without a coat, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 day ago
  • Ian Powell: Does private healthcare threaten public healthcare in New Zealand?
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    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 day ago
  • A rabbit-hole election debate: So do you want more avocado orchards?
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    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 day ago
  • LIVE: Jacinda Ardern vs. Judith Collins, First Debate
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    The CivilianBy admin
    2 days ago
  • Hundreds of Aucklanders arrested after illegal mass gathering on Harbour Bridge
    An enormous drive-in party, shown here, was held this morning on Auckland’s Harbour Bridge, where police were forced to intervene. Hundreds of Aucklanders were arrested this morning on public health grounds, after an apparent illegal mass gathering on the city’s Harbour Bridge. Police say hundreds of Aucklanders gathered in their ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 days ago
  • The Looming Fight.
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    2 days ago
  • Climate Change: Moving faster
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • The Australian courts have had enough of refugee detention
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Friction and the Anti-lock Braking System
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    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 days ago
  • The Inside Word: New Zealand Quarantine
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    2 days ago
  • Hard News: ASA: Let’s not talk about this
    Last week, major newspapers carried a full-page ad as part of the campaign for a "No" vote to the referendum question about supporting the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. The ad was authorised by the SAM NZ Coalition, which takes its name from a controversial American anti-cannabis group and includes ...
    2 days ago
  • This is not kind
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Wokies are the establishment
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • How to strengthen the post-isolation Covid rules
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    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    3 days ago
  • Neuralink and You: A Human-AI Symbiosis
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    3 days ago
  • Liam Hehir: Our obsession with American politics
    Many New Zealanders take a strong interest in US politics, with the death of Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg being the latest example. Liam Hehir wonders if it very wise for New Zealanders to get so worked about it.   Many politically engaged New Zealanders are now furiously ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    3 days ago
  • COVID: Back to Level 1
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    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: Climate injustice
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Good riddance
    The border closure and resulting lack of foreign slave-workers is driving the fishing industry out of business: One fishing company is effectively out of business while others are bracing for large financial hits as the deepwater New Zealand industry, unable to get skilled foreign workers into the country, have ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #38
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    3 days ago
  • Anyone for Collins?
    In the absence of national public opinion polls, we have had to make do in recent weeks with other guides to voter intentions. Those guides, such as the Auckland Central poll, the incidence of google enquiries and the responses to Vote Compass questions, have suggested, not unexpectedly, that Labour is ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    3 days ago
  • Crusher’s fiscal malfunction
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    3 days ago
  • Much of the commentariat’s reporting of the most recent GDP figure was misleading and unhelpful. The prize for the stupidest remark about the GDP figure for second quarter 2020 (2020Q2) released on Thursday (17 Sept) goes to Judith Collins, whose response to Grant Robertson’s comments indicated she did not ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    4 days ago
  • Love and Hate as Complementary Revolutionary Acts
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    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #38
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Sep 13, 2020 through Sat, Sep 19, 2020 Editor's Choice Get to Net-Zero by Mid-Century? Even Some Global Oil and Gas Giants Think it Can Be Done A report by a ...
    4 days ago
  • Tax cuts for all!!! (except you, you, and you)
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    My ThinksBy boonman
    5 days ago
  • Great Waves Washing Over New Zealand
    Always to islanders danger Is what comes over the seas ‘Landfall in Unknown Seas’ (Allen Curnow)Six economic issues external to New Zealand, which will greatly impact upon us. 1.         The Diminishing Global Dominance of the US. Since 1941 America has dominated the world economically and politically. Probably it could ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand has role to play in resolving crisis on ‘geopolitical fault line’, Helen Clark says
    By Geoffrey Miller New Zealand should continue to champion human rights in Belarus amidst an ongoing crackdown on protests by the country’s regime, former Prime Minister Helen Clark says. Protests in the country often referred to as ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’ erupted after the country’s disputed presidential elections on August 9 ...
    Democracy ProjectBy Geoffrey Miller
    6 days ago
  • Euthanasia referendum: How to cut through the emotions
    Jacqui Maguire, registered clinical psychologist This podcast episode highlights how difficult it is to have effective conversations about euthanasia due to how polarised people’s views are. I’m a clinical psychologist, with a passion for science communication. In early 2020 I founded the podcast Mind Brew, with an aim to make psychological ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    6 days ago
  • Why we need cameras on boats
    In case anyone needed further convincing, there's another example today of why we need cameras on fishing boats: reported seabird bycatch doubled during a camera trial: Commercial fishers operating off Auckland's coast around vulnerable seabirds are twice as likely to report accidentally capturing them when cameras are on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Graham Adams: The religious right’s campaign to spike the euthanasia referendum
    In the leadup to the euthanasia referendum, an array of conservative Christian political organisations is running an expensive campaign to sow doubt about the safety of assisted dying. Graham Adams argues that these religious forces know that Christian arguments aren’t convincing the public, but that it is in the public ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 days ago
  • Opportunistic looting
    The National Party has spent the last six months acting horrified at the cost of supporting people through the pandemic and banging on about how the debt must be repaid. So what was their economic policy released today? Massive tax-cuts for the rich, of course! National has walked back ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Uncomfortable Choices.
    Dangerous Times: This will be the choice confronting those coming of age in the 2020s. Embrace Neoliberalism’s belief in racial and sexual equality; adopt its secular and scientific world view; and cultivate the technocratic, multicultural, global outlook required of those who keep the machinery of hyper-capitalism humming. Or, throw your ...
    6 days ago
  • Tony Burton: Covid and benefit payments
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    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 days ago
  • Talking tax: How to win support for taxing wealth
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    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    6 days ago
  • Getting Tough.
    Not Mucking Around: With upwards of 800 dead from the virus’s resurgence in the Australian state of Victoria, leniency is not on Premier Daniel Andrews’ agenda. The Victorian Police are cracking down hard on the protesters the Australian press has labelled "Covidiots".IMAGES OF POLICE, some in riot gear, others on ...
    6 days ago
  • Media Link: Nuclear strategy, then and now.
    Although I had the fortune of being a graduate student of some of the foremost US nuclear strategists of the day (1970s) and later rubbed shoulders with Air Force and Naval officers who were entrusted with parts of the US nuclear arsenal, I seldom get to write or speak about ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    7 days ago
  • The Chinese List.
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    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Things that grow fast, and things that surprise us
    Marie Becdelievre January 2020. The number of news article mentioning coronavirus exploded and anxious voices whispered about a global pandemic. Whisper? To me, it was only a whisper. I tend to learn about the world through non-fiction books, conferences, and academic research rather than news and social media, so ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #37, 2020
    2,082,476,000,000,000 Viability of greenhouse gas removal via the artificial addition of volcanic ash to the ocean  (not open access, unfortunately) walks us through the numbers on a particular means of CO2 removal, addition of volcanic tephra to the ocean. The mechanism is straight chemistry and the cost is fully an order of ...
    1 week ago
  • Barbados to become a republic
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Party Like It’s 1989: Bait and Switch is a Bad Look, Mr Hipkins
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    1 week ago
  • Will the tropics eventually become uninhabitable?
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    1 week ago
  • A first-hand look: What it’s like to live in a 2020 California wildfire evacuation zone
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    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 is not the only infectious disease New Zealand wants to eliminate, and genome sequencing is...
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • A flaw in our electoral transparency regime
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Don’t Steal This Book
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Carbon prices must rise
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Disclosure
    The government will finally be requiring large New Zealand companies to disclose their climate change risks: New Zealand finance companies will be made to report on climate change risk, Climate Change Minister James Shaw has announced. The policy will force around 200 large financial organisations in New Zealand to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Tackling the hard issues – trust and relationships
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    SciBlogsBy Genomics Aotearoa
    1 week ago
  • Equality Network – September Newsletter
    Read the Equality Network newsletter here ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    1 week ago
  • The Left’s Lost Allies.
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    1 week ago
  • Legal Beagle: Low-Hanging Fruit
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    1 week ago
  • Closing the Gap thinks that Labour’s proposal to raise the top tax rate is great but………
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    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: No nonsense
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • My Climate Story: Coming full Circle
    This blog post is a follow up to my recap of Al Gore's Climate Reality Leadership Training I recently participated in. One of the exercises we were asked to complete was to write about our respective "Climate Story". This is a slightly updated version to the one I had submitted during ...
    1 week ago
  • A bill to criminalise wage theft
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Liam Hehir: What the voting age debate tells us about our disconnected political media
    New Zealand’s media and online politics often reflect the values of liberal and progressive agendas. According to Liam Hehir, the current proposals to lower the voting age to 16 years – which the media overwhelming supports – is indicative of a wider mismatch with society, which is not good for ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 week ago
  • Why Pay Taxes?
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    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Now everyone’s a statistician. Here’s what armchair COVID experts are getting wrong
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • More timid bullshit from Labour
    Over the weekend, Labour released its welfare policy: an increase in benefit abatement thresholds. And that's it. Faced with clear evidence of ongoing hardship among beneficiaries and a call from its on Welfare Expert Advisory Group to raise core benefits by between 12 percent and 47 percent, Labour's response is ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The Police Kill as Part of their Social Function
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (Bogota; 09/11/2020) The murder of Javier Ordoñez in the neighbourhood of Villa Luz in Bogotá, Colombia at the hands of two policemen brings to the fore the issue of police violence and its function in society. First of all we should be clear that we are ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #37
    Story of the Week... La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS...  Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... Story of the Week... Humans exploiting and destroying nature on unprecedented scale – report Animal populations have plunged an average of 68% ...
    1 week ago
  • The 2019 measles epidemic in Samoa
    Gabrielle Po-Ching In November 1918, the cargo and passenger ship Talune travelled to Apia, Samoa from Auckland, carrying a number of passengers who had pneumonic influenza. From these passengers stemmed the biggest pandemic Samoa had ever seen. With around 8,500 deaths, over 20% of the country’s population at the ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Shifting all Isolation/Quarantine Facilities to a Single Air Force Base: The Need for a Critical Ana...
    Prof Nick Wilson*, Prof Michael Baker In this blog the arguments for and against shifting all COVID-19 related isolation/quarantine facilities to a single air force base at Ōhakea are considered. The main advantage would be a reduction in the risk of border control failures, which can potentially involve outbreaks ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago

  • Building business strength with digital tools
    New training and tools for digital commerce will give small businesses, especially in the tourism sector, the support they need to adapt and innovate in a COVID world. Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced details of how $20 million digital capability funding set aside ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • New pest lures to protect nature
    The Department of Conservation (DOC) is investing $1.4 million to develop new predator lures that would be game-changers for trapping and surveillance towards a predator-free Aotearoa, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage, announced in Christchurch today. The proposal is to develop long-life lures attractive to a range of predators—rats, mustelids ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Support for innovative Pacific education responses to COVID-19 needs
    Supporting new and creative Pacific education practices as part of our COVID-19 response and recovery is the focus of a new $28.5 million Pacific Education Innovation Fund announced today by Associate Minister of Education Jenny Salesa.  “There is already an incredible amount of innovative and creative work going on in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Eligibility expanded for COVID-19 leave support
    The expanded scheme will cover: People who have COVID-19 like symptoms and meet the Ministry of Health’s criteria, and need to self-isolate while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. People who are directed to self-isolate by a Medical Officer of Health or their delegate or on advice of their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Seasonal work visa available to more people
    The Government is putting in place a range of immigration policy changes to help fill labour shortages in key industries while ensuring New Zealanders, who have lost jobs due to COVID-19, have the chance to find new employment. “Two key sectors we are moving to help are horticulture and wine ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • More border exceptions for critical roles
    The Government has established class exceptions for border entry for a limited number of veterinarians, deep sea fishing crew, as well as agricultural and horticultural machinery operators. “Tight border restrictions remain the backbone of the Government’s border strategy to protect New Zealand against COVID-19 and ensure New Zealand citizens and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Crown will not appeal Dodds v Southern Response decision
    The Crown will not appeal the Court of Appeal decision in the Dodds v Southern Response case, Grant Robertson announced today. “Southern Response will be paying the damages awarded by the Court to Mr and Mrs Dodds shortly. The Crown was already meeting their legal costs for this appeal. “The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Crucial PGF investments for Northland
    The Provincial Growth Fund is investing nearly $30 million in a diverse range of projects that will create immediate and long-term jobs and lift economic and social outcomes for Northland and its people. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones made the announcement today in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • $27million investment in global vaccine facility
    The Coalition Government has committed to invest $27 million in COVID-19 vaccine development through the global COVAX Facility, Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today. “The COVAX Facility is a key part of our COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy to obtain safe and effective vaccines. It allows us to invest in a high-quality, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government backing Māori landowners
    The Government will provide up to $1.69 million through the One Billion Trees programme to Māori landowners to make their whenua more productive through the planting of forests, both native and exotic, and improve economic and environmental outcomes, Forestry Minister Shane Jones has announced. “Around 1.5 million ha of land ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New tools to make nature more accessible
    People planning to head outdoors now have a resource that lets them know how accessible an area is for people with varying levels of mobility, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today. The Halberg Foundation, Sensibel, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) have launched Accessibel, a new tool which helps ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • PGF makes Māori history more accessible
    One of the most significant battle sites of the 1860s Land Wars will receive $2.96 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to improve the site and help tell the New Zealand story to visitors, Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced. Nanaia Mahuta ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Making it official: The journey of te reo Māori | Kia whakapūmautia: Ngā piki me ngā heke o te r...
    The journey towards recognising Māori as an official language and taonga has been captured as a web series and launched today during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, announced Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “Te reo Māori is a living language, and understanding its significance, and pathways to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Better-than-forecast GDP reflects decision to protect New Zealand
    Today’s better-than-forecast GDP figures show the expected impact of the decision to act quickly to protect New Zealanders from the global COVID-19 pandemic. GDP fell 12.2% in the June quarter from March, reflecting decisions to close New Zealand’s borders and enter Alert Level 4. “This result was better than the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Boost for COVID-19 related Pacific education needs
    The Government is investing $39.7 Million over four years to support the educational needs of Pacific learners and families in the regions hardest hit by COVID-19, with Auckland getting an immediate boost, Associate Minister of Education Jenny Salesa says.   “Like all New Zealanders Pacific families want learners to do well ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • More resources for kiwi conservation
    New Zealand’s goal of 100,000 kiwi by 2030 is being helped by an extra $19.7 million in funding to accelerate iwi and community efforts to protect kiwi, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced. “$19.7 million of Jobs for Nature funding is being invested in kiwi conservation activities including increased predator ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Improving access to affordable electricity
    Ensuring New Zealanders can get the best deal on their electricity takes a step in the right direction today with the South Island launch of the EnergyMate pilot run by the Electricity Retailers’ Association, says Minister of Energy and Resources, Dr Megan Woods. EnergyMate is an industry-led programme providing coaching ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • Government achieves 50 percent women on state boards
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