Monday, August 31, 2009

Len Brown wants Maori in his super city

NZPA August 30, 2009, 1:30 pm

Manukau Mayor Len Brown is running for mayor of the Auckland super city council and wants Maori around the council table.

He told a crowd of about 200 supporters at One Tree Hill today he was officially running for the job.

Councillors, representatives from local iwi and South Auckland business people were at the launch to support Mr Brown.

Last week it was announced the super city would not have set Maori seats, which Mr Brown said had caused a sense of loss for local iwi.

He wanted Maori seats because "the mana whenua have an increasing business presence within our city, and we need to inspire our young Maori to excel", he said.

"I want to sit around the table with Maori and I want Maori around the table, so for me, there is a lot of work and discussions to be had."

He had decided to run because "the community has been on my back and determined that I should run".

The super city needed someone who could reach out to Auckland's diverse communities, a job he was best suited for, he said.

"I feel in my heart I have the compassion, commitment and love of the place."

Mr Brown told the crowd he would remain community focused, and that the super city would need to embrace Auckland's cultural diversity.

He would also focus on Auckland's economic growth because in 20 years he expected Auckland to have 50 percent of New Zealand's gross domestic product and 45 percent of its population.

"We need to deliver a better way forward for Auckland through strong economic growth."

Mr Brown pledge to give the entire Auckland community access to broadband internet in the next five years, have half of the city's waste taken to a green waste recycling strategy, and create stronger trade links with Asia and the Pacific.

He also wanted to replicate Manukau's free entry to swimming pools, and have a thriving cultural and arts scene.

A "21st century public transport system" with an integrated ticketing system was also on the cards if he was elected.

Mr Brown stressed he would not sell Auckland's public assets.

"We need to grow our future, not sell it ... I believe in public ownership, I will never sell the region's public assets."

He also stated the need for better education opportunities for Auckland youth.

"We need to empower young people ... we must be a centre of educational excellence."

Former Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard said with Mr Brown running there was no need for him to.

"I've always said I would not run if there is better person than me to run, and I think Len Brown fills that role ," he said.

"I strongly believe Len Brown is the man for Auckland. He's got the attributes that are needed for the first mayor of Auckland super city."

Mr Hubbard said Mr Brown had a strong sense of community, was politically centrist, and has a good , inclusive style.

"I think that he is 'we' and inclusive, whereas I think Auckland city is more about 'I'."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Plumbing programme to go down the gurgler?

August 30, 2009
In Unison

Unitec is planning to sign a contract with the Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying ITO Ltd which some staff say could end several successful Unitec programmes, and will lead numerous staff to quit.
For about nine years, Unitec has offered its own programmes leading to National Certificates in Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying, which have been developed, moderated and approved according to Unitec policies and the requirements of the Education Act.
New Unitec programmes were approved by the Unitec Academic Board last year to deliver the new qualifications which came into force in January 2009.
The Unitec programmes were requested by the department’s Advisory Committee, and recommended by the Programme Committee. At the same time, both bodies considered a programme being proposed by the Plumbing ITO, and rejected it on educational and practical grounds.
It is claimed by staff members who analysed the ITO programme that it lacked virtually all the characteristics required of a viable programme, with no proper delivery material, and assessments which were incomplete and written at the wrong level.
Despite these concerns, Unitec chief executive Rick Ede says they are negotiating with the ITO but will eventually sign a contact with them, as he says he does not want Unitec to miss out on being part of the national system of plumbing and gasfitting education.
In Unison has spoken to several staff members in the plumbing department, who do not wish to be identified as they say they are now living in a climate of fear. They say they are worried about their jobs, the future of their industry and for the wellbeing of their students.
It is understood about eight staff are considering resigning over this issue.
One staff member described the ITO programme as “completely undeliverable and substandard and not fit for purpose in all respects.”
He says it is written at a level far lower than it should be, and the assessments cut out about 80 percent of what should be tested, he believes it is designed so it is almost impossible to fail.
The Unitec programme for the National Certificate in Plumbing and Gasfitting requires the completion of distance learning over four years, linked to a series of two week block courses where theory is integrated into the practical skills. There are a total of 22 weeks of block courses over the 4 year programme.
This contrasts with only 11 weeks of block courses in the ITO programme.
Plumbing Head of Department, Garry Cruickshank, has been suspended and faces dismissal following a complaint from lawyers acting for the ITO, regarding letters sent by Mr Cruickshank advising students and their employers to carefully consider the merits of both programmes before deciding which one to enrol in.
Other staff members in the faculty have also expressed serious concern at the developments, as almost all the trade programmes run at Unitec fall into the same category of local qualifications as the plumbing programmes, including the Certificate of Applied Technology, which is the single largest programme at Unitec.
It is feared that if the same policy is used in their own departments, it will lead to redundancies and a general lowering of standards.
A letter sent by Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics Quality to Unitec regarding courses and programmes offered by ITOs confirms that they are not able to have courses and programmes approved, and that only programmes offered through providers like Unitec are able to be approved, and courses offered by ITOs are not eligible for funding.
Staff say if this move is allowed Unitec stands to lose the programmes already set up and will lose up to 250 EFTS making the department unviable. It will also lower the student to staff ratio, currently at 24-1, the best in Unitec, down to 11-1, which will also mean losing a third of the staff.
“If Unitec ends up agreeing to that process then the entire basis of UATI collapse,” a staff member says. Dr Ede says concerned staff need to “take a deep breath” and work with the deans and himself over what they are trying to achieve. He says Unitec “cannot afford to be left out in the cold” over this issue, and believes the concerns over the ITO are not justified.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Opensouls' Latest Album Gets A Little Help From Their Friends

Opensouls' Latest Album Gets A Little Help From Their Friends
Sunday, 30 August, 2009 - 12:00

Tyra Hammond's friends may not be aware, but they have played a big part in the Opensouls' latest album, Standing in the Rain. Stacey Knott talks to the Opensouls singer.

Auckland, Aug 30 NZPA - Auckland band the Opensouls have just released their second album to rave reviews, but they don't have too many expectations for it, because it is so different to their debut.

The eight-piece hip-hop/RnB band's recently released Standing In The Rain was written to reflect the sound and feeling of the late-50s, early-60s British and American RnB era.

The Opensouls drew their inspirations from songwriters John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Smokey Robinson, Holland/Dozier/Holland and Van Morrison, to create a vintage quality, reminiscent of Motown in its heyday.

Hammond says the latest offering is very different from their debut, 2006's Kaleidoscope. Hammond and band mate Jeremy Toy wrote Standing In The Rain together, whereas the debut had the whole band collaborating.

The bands' debut album gained them a nomination for the Best Urban/Hip Hop album at the 06 NZ Music Awards and the single What Do You Do? claimed the best hip-hop song at the 06 BNet awards.

However, they do not have big expectations for the latest offering.

"All we can ask is for people to like it because it's just so different from the first one, Hammond says. "We have grown but we are still the same old Opensouls."

Standing in the Rain has been in the works for about a year, and has been ready for release since January, but the band wanted to take their time with it, especially with making and releasing the music videos.

Of the songs Hammond wrote, she says the lyrics are mostly on the theme of love.

However, only a few of the tracks are based on her own experiences.

She borrows stories from her friends' lives to create the rest although in of Blind to See she neglected to tell the friend the song was inspired by her.

"I realised I write a lot about love, I can't help it I wish I could write something political," she says.

"It's funny I usually tend to write for my mates, they will tell me their stories and that will help create the characters for the song, it's almost like writing a story."

The first single on the album, Hold You Close, is one of Hammond's own stories, a love song written for her boyfriend, which she never expected to be the first single.

Another track inspired by her friends is When You Gonna Stop?

"I wrote that about when you are with your girlfriends getting ready for the night and there is one certain track you listen to while you're putting on your makeup." That was inspired by that."

The band is made of Tyra Hammond on vocals, Jeremy Toy on guitar, Bjorn Peterson on vocals, Julien Dyne on drums, Chip Matthews on bass, Isaac Aesili on the trumpet, and Harlin Davey on MPC.

The Opensouls will be touring their new album around New Zealand through September and October.

NZPA AKL sjk dj

One dead in Waikato crash

Last updated 10:34 30/08/2009

A man is dead and a woman badly injured after a two-car crash on State Highway 2 in northern Waikato this morning.

The accident happened Mangatawhiri, 11km northwest of Maramarua, about 6.30am.

Senior Sergeant Emiel Logan said it appeared the cars were travelling into opposite directions when one ran out of control, crossed the central reservation, and smashed into the other.

He said police were still trying to identify the dead man.

The woman driver was in a serious condition in Auckland's Middlemore Hospital.

Len Brown puts hat in ring for super city mayoralty

1:34PM Sunday Aug 30, 2009

Manukau mayor Len Brown today officially confirmed he will run for the mayoralty of the new Auckland super city council.

He made the announcement at One Tree Hill to a crowd of about 200 people, including ex-Auckland city mayor Dick Hubbard, councillors and South Auckland business people.

Brown spoke of his intentions to stand on TVNZ's Q&A programme this morning, although the Herald's Bernard Orsman broke news of the impending announcement on Thursday.

The only other contender to join the race is Auckland City mayor John Banks.

Brown said today he had decided to run because "the community has been on my back and determined that I should run".

He said the super city needed someone who could reach out to Auckland's diverse communities and felt he was best suited for that job.

"I feel in my heart I have the compassion, commitment and love of the place."

His platform would include designated council seats for Maori, future proofing the transport system, increasing tourism, bettering education in Auckland and "bringing communities together in a way that hasn't been done before".

Suspicious fire at Whangarei museum

7:35AM Saturday Aug 29, 2009


A suspicious fire has "seriously damaged" a building at the Whangarei Museum.

Eight fire crews fought the blaze last night.

Fire Service northern communications shift manager Jaron Phillips said today the building, used for machinery repairs, was well alight when the firefighters arrived.

He said the fire was being treated as suspicious and the cause was still being investigated.


Activists oppose Auckland zoo's elephant plan

Last updated 17:50 30/08/2009
Animals rights activists are opposing plans to increase elephant numbers at the Auckland Zoo following Kashin's death.

The 40-year-old Asian elephant was put down last Monday because of her deteriorating health. She was suffering from arthritis, foot abscesses and skin infections.

Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken said the zoo hoped to replace Kashin in the next six to 12 months and had long-term plans to extend the elephant area.

"We want to establish a much larger breeding herd of elephants that replicates a natural social structure for elephants," he said.

The zoo would work with the European Elephant Breeding Programme to secure suitable breeding elephants.

However, Saving Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) campaign director Hans Kriek strongly opposed the plan.

He quoted recent research which showed most elephants died considerably earlier in zoos than they would in the wild.

"Kashin is a perfect example. Her problems – arthritis and feet problems – are very common in captive elephants," he said.

"That's one of the main reasons they have to be euthanased – they just don't cope."

If the zoo was acting in remaining elephant Burma's best interests, they would relocate her to an open range zoo where she could have the company of her own kind.

The zoo could the use the space opened up by the elephant exhibitions closure to give a better environment for other animals that were in" relatively cramped spaces", he said.

"Internationally, there are a number of zoos moving away from keeping elephants simply because they realise they cannot provide them with the environment they need.

"An elephant in the wild on average will roam for 50km a day. What sort of a zoo enclosure can come close to that?"

The zoo today offered free admission to mark Kashin's passing, with more than 17,000 taking the chance to visit.

Mr Wilcken said the public was invited to see Kashin's burial spot, an area the elephant loved, which was not usually open to the public.

"We would take her (walking) around the four corners of the zoo and this was a particular area she loved," Mr Wilcken said.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

White Lies success lies with the ladies dominance



Rising indie stars White Lies think they have the ladies to thank for their success this year.

That's according to Charles Cave, bassist and songwriter for the West London indie band, speaking from his hotel room the morning before their Auckland show.

White Lies, comprising Cave, Harry McVeigh, who does lead vocals and guitar, and Jack Lawrence-Brown, who plays drums, are in the middle of their first headlining world tour.

The band was born in 2007, but its members have been playing together since primary school. Previously they played under the name Fear of Flying.

Earlier this year, they released their debut album To Lose My Life after their label, Fiction Records, saw a good thing early on.

With only six songs up their sleeves the band was shipped off to Belgium to record these, and while there, wrote the remaining five songs for their debut.

"Our label and management decided it would be a worthwhile risk to make an album, they felt we were at a point in our lives where we were really excited about making music and we should capitalise on that," Cave said.

The album was released in January this year, and the band was quickly named "ones to watch" in the music press, however, Cave believes their success is in part due to their difference to everything else that has come out recently, particularly the lack of other male bands.

He believes the music industry has been dominated by solo female artists this year.

"(We are) pretty much the only rock band that's come out this year, so I think we've almost had a slightly easier ride than we might have had if it was a year of alternative rock bands, where everyone would be fighting for the crown."

Cave writes all White Lies' songs, starting with the lyrics, which are often described as poetic and dark covering all things from murder, madness, revenge, love from beyond the grave, electro shock therapy and ransoms.

However, he says his words should not be taken as literal.

"People often take everything to be completely word of God. . .They don't know where the person was or what they were doing when they wrote them, what they were feeling, and whether or not it has anything to do with the person that wrote them."

His lyrics do come from personal experience, but it can be in the most trivial way, such as from a sentence someone says to him, or a thought he has had.

For example, one of the band's more epic tracks, Price of Love?, was inspired by a small argument with his girlfriend over money.

The song is about a ransom, and is "like a Cohen brothers movie in the way it's all completely hopeless and everyone ends up so much worse than they started. It's ironic, it's not meant to be super serious," Cave said.

Cave said while the band did not aim to cause offence with its dark themes, they have come to accept they are not a " band that is not going to be on the back of a cornflakes packet, not a family band or PG," and they don't write three minute pop songs.

He recalled having to write a letter to the BBC to convince them their most-known song To Lose My Life was not a" suicide pact song."

While he said the band had sold a "healthy amount" of its debut with three singles, he wants to next album to be twice as good, but with a different sound to the first –he does not want White Lies to be a formulaic band.

"We are still young and have got a lot of things we want to try," he said.

While he can't make any promises to his fans when they will get this next album, he expects it to be out sometime next year.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Heated Discrimination Complaint Resolved

In Unison

Unitec staff who have been picketing and marching through Unitec over what they say is discriminatory treatment from Unitec management have reached an agreement, but some are still not happy.

Allied staff members (staff who do not teach) who are part of the Tertiary Institutes Allied Staff Association (TIASA), were protesting their working conditions offered by Unitec management.

They had been protesting outside Unitec chief executive Rick Ede’s office in the mornings and also staged a march through the grounds of Unitec.
The issue was over the action Unitec took in contract negotiations. In January, non-union staff at Unitec were given a four percent salary increase, which they can negotiate in November, whereas TIASA members were told Unitec would not go beyond a two percent increase and also wanted to remove some conditions. Two weeks ago Unitec then offered a four percent increase but on a 21 month contract, which the union did not agree to.
The final offer, which TIASA agreed to last week, was an 18-month contract with a backdated four percent salary increase, and the opportunity to enter negotiations if over five percent of allied non-union members receive a pay increase on their base salary for the 2010 year.

TIASA member and allied staff representative on the Unitec Council, Kieron Millar says the outcome required both sides to compromise.

“I think what was offered required movement from both sides and really neither side is completely comfortable with where we ended up.

“Members decided it was probably better to take a bird in hand at this stage.”

He felt the march through the Unitec grounds and the morning picketing outside Dr Ede’s office was effective.

“We certainly sent a clear message to Rick and his management team that we weren’t prepared to lie down, that we did have a voice and were passionate about equity in the workplace.”

A big sentiment through the union members during the negotiations was that Unitec was trying to break the union.

“The feeling was that allied staff in TIASA were getting picked on,” he says.

“If you look at what happened through the negotiation process it could be perceived as being quite anti-unionist,” Mr Millar says.

A TIASA member who wishes to remain anonymous also felt the action was anti-union and the offer agreed to was not good enough.

She felt the union was made to reach the compromise because of other factors weighing on them, such as the economic crisis and public perception of unions.
“People are of the opinion you should be thankful you’ve got a job,” she says.

She says there were a significant number of people who voted against the offer.

“It’s not equity. The purpose of the union is to make sure the members are looked after first and all other individual contracts should follow on from the union negotiations.

“We have compromised where perhaps Unitec have not been so willing to compromise.

“We’ve done a favour to Unitec but that is nothing new. It is always on the backs of employees that these institutions survive.”

Unitec did not respond to In Unison’s questions, only stating that “Unitec is pleased to have reached an agreement with TIASA. If staff affected have any questions, then they are advised to approach their Human Resource representative or contact Chief Executive, Rick Ede.”

Family Violence - Make It Your Problem

Last week, I had a black eye and a graze on my chin, to emulate a person affected by family violence.

While I got to wash my bruises off at the end of the day and go back to my violence-free life, the reality for thousands of New Zealanders each week is the opposite.

Family violence is a huge criminal problem in New Zealand and all the people spoken to in this article want you to make it your problem that you do something about.

The facts call for change; half of all murders in New Zealand are at the hands of someone the victim knows, and every six minutes police are called to a family violence incident.

Family Violence; how bad is it?family-violence1

To get a real feeling for what I was writing about, I took to the streets of Auckland Central, Newmarket and Mount Albert with a black eye and a graze to my chin (done with special effects makeup) to see how people would react, and to see how it felt to be a walking victim for a day.

I had many one-on-one encounters with people in shops and on the street, but no one said a thing. Some people looked at me then clearly looked away, others avoided eye-contact, and it took longer than usual for some shop assistants to assist me.

While I did not have any clear expectations of what this experiment would entail, I thought that at least one person might ask me about the bruises, even in passing. If I were a man, sporting a black eye, I’m sure reactions would be different.

I went to a travel agent and had a conversation about the prices in the window. I went to the Karen Walker store in Newmarket, and as the only customer in the store, the assistants looked uncomfortable but still endeavoured to show me their latest look-book. I even asked about eye-makeup at the Body Shop which, ironically, is doing a campaign on the anti-smacking referendum, yet they had no comments about my face.

I am certain that as soon as I left stores, or walked past people together on the street, they would have talked about the young lady with the bruised face.

Family violence often happens behind closed doors and the evidence, as in facial bruising, is kept hidden until it’s healed. I’m sure my blatant exhibition of my injuries made many people feel uncomfortable, but it really did make me question why no one asked if I was ok.

I started to understand the sense of shame some victims may feel about being bruised and beaten by the person who is meant to love them, especially when no one else I passed on the streets was sporting bruises. I wondered what people were thinking of me; were they wondering who did this? If I was beaten by a partner, had I left them, and if not, why?

Staying with an abusive partner is something I grappled to understand, so I asked the Auckland City Police District’s family violence coordinator, Detective Senior Sergeant Vaughn Graham, why someone would stay in a relationship where they were being hurt; he believes there are many reasons.

He notes that relationships will rarely start out violent, but it is something that will happen over time, after trust has been built up.

“They are sort of wooed into that relationship - not coerced and forced into it straight away. It’s not always an apparent trap, it’s a slow problem they find themselves in, and then they don’t have tools to get themselves back out.”

The Auckland City District Police have a dedicated team to deal with family violence incidents. On average the police will attend 5000 callouts a year. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg; research shows this is only 10 to 15 percent of cases of family violence out there.

This is because there is a stigma that is stopping people from speaking out and asking for help.

This might be because it is too hard for a victim to admit they are in a bad situation, or it could be the fact that they don’t have the ability or know-how to ask for help, Graham says.

Then there is the fear.

“Offenders will often trap victims, (they will) isolate them. As easy as it is for other people to call the police and ask for help, some people are quite often too scared to.”

Graham sees a range of people; sometimes they are a first time incident, which he says is fortunate because they can intervene early to prevent it from happening again, or they may be people the police have seen again and again.

However, family violence does not discriminate by culture, religion or socio-economic standing.

The criminal process – here to help

The Auckland City District Police give top-priority to family violence callouts because of the safety concerns. The police usually arrive within ten minutes of receiving the call, and will investigate the matter and gain statements from the victim and any witnesses.

They need to work on the basis that the complainant will, at some stage, be reluctant to participate in the prosecution process because of the nature and relationship they share with the offender, so they will speak to neighbours, other witnesses, as well as the victim and also use the 111 calls as evidence.

They also try to get information from the families involved. Graham says this can go either way: some families are really supportive while others are very protective, despite some horrific things happening in the families.

Neighbours are usually good independent witnesses, who can provide good evidence. The problem is sometimes this evidence comes too late.

Nia Glassie for example.

The police collect all the evidence and, if they are satisfied an offence has been committed, they will arrest the offender, charge them, then hold them in custody to appear in court the next morning, where they will usually be bailed with the condition they have no contact with the victim.

Whenever there is an arrest, advocates from Shine, an Auckland family violence victim support group, which works closely with the police, will go to the home to see the victim while the perpetrator is in custody. They will talk the victim through the court process, help them determine a plan to keep safe in the future and arrange a lawyer and refuge if needed. This will take an hour to an hour and a half, and Shine does about 20 of these a week.

After the initial bailout, there is a three week wait until the offender appears in the Auckland Family Violence Court. This allows them time to engage a lawyer and get copies of all the police evidence. This court is usually presided over by Judge Lex de Jong.

This court is one of six in the country, the courts were set up with the purpose of getting both the victim and the offender the help they need.

Sentences can range from making the offender attend a stopping violence programme – to teach them to live without violence, through to serving time in prison.

De Jong says that with the establishment of these courts, there has been a huge turnaround in people’s guilty pleas in family violence cases. Before these courts it was about 80 percent pleading not guilty, now it is about 80 percent pleading guilty.

At their first appearance at this court the offender will enter their plea. If it is a guilty plea for a first time offence of low-level violence, such as pushing or hitting on the shoulder, de Jong says they will give the offender the chance to be discharged without conviction, but they must work for it.

They will have to go to a stopping violence programme and often alcohol and drug counselling, because about 90 percent of the attacks happen when the offender is on drugs or alcohol. Most stopping violence programmes last for 20 weeks, and the court monitors the offender’s progress.

They will go back to court after about 12 weeks with a letter from the programme provider to make sure they are attending, and then the third and final court appearance will happen when they have finished the programme, and they will tell the judge what they learnt from the programme. As long as they have no other convictions in that time, they attend all the counselling sessions, and the victim does not complain again, they will be discharged without conviction.

However, when it comes to serious incidents, there will be a conviction and the offender will also have to attend the stopping violence programmes. Some offenders will be supervised for a maximum of two years, depending on the problems.

De Jong says this is a “last ditch effort get them to address problems.”

He notes that the majority of people are going to reconcile with their partners, so the court needs to find ways for the offender to rehabilitate because often the victim will either say they want their partner to change, that they still love them, or feels safe and wants them to come home.

I go along to one of the Family Violence Court list days.

An assortment of people come draping in and out of the court; some look dishevelled, lacking in sleep with bloodshot eyes, wearing scruffy clothes, while others are in crisp shirts and clean suits. Many look morose.

A 23-year-old Paheka man is called forward. His mother is in the gallery to support him and we learn that his partner, who he assaulted, is outside with his step-son. He is enrolled in a drug and alcohol counselling programme and relationship counselling.

De Jong tells him he is responsible to set a good example for his child, as the child will follow what he does.

He acknowledges the man’s guilty plea, and tells him the court is here to support him, not punish him.

Later, a Middle Eastern man, here on a work permit with his family, was spoken to through an interpreter. He has completed the stopping violence course for a “single slap” and has since reconciled with his wife with who he shares a child of 14 months.

De Jong asks him what he learnt through the programme.

“I have learnt to control my anger and to use different methods to calm down and also to find alternatives to get out of a situation.”

De Jong discharges him without conviction but says if it happens again, he will be treated in a very different way.

“The responsibility rests on your shoulders.”

Next, a Maori man named Marsh, who appears to be in his 30s, is in front of de Jong seeking bail. He denies the assault he has been arrested for on the weekend. However, he has nine pages of prior convictions. The man looks enraged as the complaint is read out.

Marsh is accused of driving over the Harbour Bridge, with his partner and father in the car, swerving over the road and threatening to drive off the side of the bridge to kill them.

In the process, he allegedly punched his partner twice in the mouth, struck her with a screwdriver, kicked her in the back, and strangled her until she lost consciousness.

He is also accused of climbing through the woman’s window, and assaulting her while she was in bed.

While Marsh denies the accusations, de Jong says the police have photographic evidence of the woman’s injuries.

De Jong rules that Marsh is too high of a risk to the victim in this case, so is further remanded in custody.

Changing views

The emphasis the criminal system now places on the seriousness of family violence is clear and, as recent research shows, society is catching on.

This newfound concern can, in part, be attributed to the Campaign for Action on Family Violence which includes the It’s Not OK! campaign - best known for its effective ads that have played on TV since 2007. The campaign aims to increase visibility, understanding and personal relevance of family violence and to get people to act on it.

Campaign manager Gael Surgenor says the campaign is about making family violence everyone’s business, and she feels this has been successful.

A survey conducted last October, to look at the effectiveness of this campaign, found 95 percent of respondents recalled seeing the ads and over two thirds said they understood more about family violence because of this, and had discussed the issue. 20 percent of the respondents had taken some sort of action, such as talking to family or friends about violence they were worried about; this number was doubled for Maori and pacific respondents.

Last year the emphasis was on getting the message across that family violence is never OK, this year they will be focusing on asking for help, and how to give help.

“One thing we have discovered, as the campaign has gone along, is people do want to help and do want to intervene but they are not sure how to.

“A lot of it is promoting ideas that it is acceptable to do it (get involved). If you did see someone with a black eye, or you did hear something, instead of thinking ‘that’s not my business I’m not going to do anything,’ think ‘I am going to do something.’”

Surgenor points to the recent Sophie Elliott case as a good example of people close to the victim and perpetrator not recognising family violence.

“A lot of the signs that she was in danger were there but no one recognised them because people don’t know them. If we came to a situation where most people acted when they suspected something, we would save lives.”

She says a key thing is to keep offering to help people if you are worried about them.

“When someone dies, whether it’s a child like Nia Glassie or an adult like Sophie Elliott there are always people who knew something was going on but they didn’t do anything about it because they didn’t realise how serious it was.”

The Campaign for Action on Family Violence has put out a book of family violence survivors’ true stories. The themes are obvious throughout; all eight writers had abusive parents, which in turn, led them to either becoming abusive to their partners and children, or end up in abusive relationships. However, all the stories detail the changes the writers make in their lives, and their violence-free outcomes. All of the writers end up in health or social-work related careers, using their experiences to help others. All stories describe the different forms of family violence- it’s not just physical, but can be sexual, emotional, financial, and psychological.

In one of the stories, George writes about his extremely violent mother. “She’d strip us naked and send us outside to get a stick from the hedge. She’d tell us the dimensions of the stick she wanted, and we’d have to go outside in full view of the street and our friends and get one from the hedge in front of the house.” This kind of abuse followed him into his adult life, where he also beat his wife. However, he took a stopping violence course, and now lectures at a university and has been violence-free since 1993.

Lorri writes her physically and sexually abusive childhood set her up “to be a walking target.” She ran away from home, was put in juvenile detention, and also got into abusive relationships. Because of her experiences she decided to set up a women’s refuge. She sums up what has become apparent in every story; “our culture doesn’t respect children and we are abusive towards them, and then as adults they get their own back on their parents and so the generational abuse continues. It is abuse – whether it is sexual, emotional, physical, financial or psychological. We continue to act it out one way or the other.”

Why you should

While my personal experience left me disheartened, as Surgenor says, it will take time for people to start acting on what they see.

Unitec graduate Jill Proudfoot is the client services director at Shine and also says that everyone should care because family violence affects the whole society, not just the people involved, as the campaign stories show.

“If we have a violent-free society it benefits everybody. For example if children grow up in violent homes they are much more likely to become violent, flaunt the law themselves in various ways, it’s a huge cost to our society not only the human cost but the financial cost…so everyone needs to care.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Vaughn Graham says family violence “really strikes at the heart of morals and who we are as a community and nation really.

“If you argue on the side of ‘it’s not our problem’ then you need to look back on our morals…would you really say ‘it’s not my problem?’” asks Graham.


What to do if you need help, or suspect someone else does.

Call the Police: 111

Are You Ok?: 0800 456 450

Auckland Women’s Refuge: 09 378 7635

Shine: 0508 DVHELP (384 357)

Ex-Unitec Student Hacks Unitec Website

In Unison
An ex-international Unitec student recently hacked into the Unitec website in protest of not being allowed back into New Zealand.

The hacker, who goes by the online name Hieupc posted a message on July 20 saying he was an international student at Unitec but didn’t get to finish his degree because his visa renewal was denied.

The Unitec website was down for two days and then on July 24 he hacked into the Auckland University website.

Hieupc, who had been studying the English language at Unitec from May until December last year, told In Unison he hacked into the sites to get his message across, stating he was set-up for fraud by a Chinese flatmate.

Hieupc says the flatmate set him up for credit card fraud, by using his TradeMe account and bank account to sell tickets he had bought with stolen credit card details.

When the fraud was linked back to Hieupc, his bank account and TradeMe accounts were closed, and the police started an investigation into the credit card fraud. By this point, the flatmate had left Auckland, and Hieupc could not contact him.

“Next days, that was terrible days for me. I couldn’t imagine that happened to me. I was so scared and I don’t want to go to a jail. I want to continue my study but it’s impossible,” Hieupc says.

He and his sister refunded the money to the TradeMe buyers which he says cost him dearly.

He says he then went back to Vietnam to take care of his sick mother in the term break, and when he went to renew his visa to come back to New Zealand, it was denied.

“That’s the end of my life, my future.”

However, a spokesperson for TradeMe and a festival organiser who was caught up in the fraud believed Hieupc admitted to the fraud.

Chris Budge, TradeMe’s Trust and Safety Manager confirmed TradeMe investigators spoke to Hieupc and his sister over the issue at the time.

He said that stolen credit cards were used to buy tickets online from Ticketek and Ticketmaster.

When the charges for the tickets came up on people’s balances, they got in touch with their banks, the tickets were cancelled and the money refunded to the card owners. It was up to Hieupc and his sister to refund the money to the TradeMe members. If they had not, a criminal complaint against Hieupc would have been considered, Mr Budge says.

Hieupc was also accused of using stolen credit cards to buy tickets for the New Years festival Phat 09.

The festival organiser Dave White says Hieupc used stolen Amex credit card numbers bought overseas to purchase Phat09 tickets. When the organisers were told about it they tracked the numbers and cancelled the tickets.

Mr White said it was a situation where everyone involved lost out.

In regards to the hacking, Hieupc says he was surprised at how easy it was to hack into the Unitec site, criticising its security levels. He found a bug on the site, and then hacked into the server.

A Unitec spokesperson said this was the first time since the websites inception in 1998 that a security breach of this sort has occurred.

Unitec responded by upgrading the current level of security to ensure there is no further re-occurrence.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Search and Rescue look for overdue hunters

Sun, 02 Aug 2009 10:42a.m.

A search and rescue team is preparing to look for two hunters overdue in the Ikawhenua Ranges, south-west of Whakatane.

Sergeant Andrew O'Reilly, of Whakatane police, said the two men pig hunting in the hills did not show up at their meeting point overnight.

At this point, Mr O'Reilly said the police were "erring on the side of caution".

He said it would have been cold in the ranges overnight, but the weather was otherwise good.

He believed both hunters were experienced and one was a former Department of Conservation officer.


Men take to heels in name of charity

Sun, 02 Aug 2009 3:44p.m.
Teams of Auckland hospitality workers switched their aprons for heels and wigs to race along Sale Street to raise money for Kids Can today. The race, called a Heel-A-Thon, was to raise money for the up-coming Kids Can Telethon Big Night In.

It saw the men strap on some heels, and in many cases, wigs and dresses, while the women donned their favourite heels to try outrun other competitors in the 50 metre run.

Eighteen teams from the hospitality industry entered the event at a cost of $250 each, which goes to the charity.

Teams from wineries, venues and food and beverage suppliers took part.

There was a higher turn-out of men in the race and many took the opportunity to dress in drag, including Cam Timmins from The Village in Remuera.

Mr Timmins worn a blonde wig, fake breasts, pink singlet and leopard print skirt, along with pink lipstick.

He said he decided to take part because he thought it was a good opportunity for hospitality to give back to the community and help children who are going to school hungry.

He also developed some empathy for women who wear heels. "I don't know how you girls do it," he said.

Luke Dallow, owner of the Sale Street bar, which organised the event, said it was his chance to give back to the community because "as a bar, we take a lot".


Protesters summon Paula Bennett

Saturday Aug 1

About a dozen protesters faced the rain today to stick a summons on Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's door.

The protest, organised by Socialist Aotearoa was over National's cutting of the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA) and Ms Bennett's revealing of beneficiaries' private information.

Ms Bennett has been under fire this week for revealing the welfare payment details of two solo mothers, on benefits, who complained about the Government's decision to scrap the TIA.

The mothers said without it they would not be able to continue courses which would help them get jobs.

The protesting group, a coalition of community, disabled and trade union groups, was at Ms Bennett's West Auckland office today.

"We think it's disgraceful that people are trying to scapegoat on the poor and the unemployed and single mothers for the problems in society," said Socialist Aotearoa member Joe Carolan.

"We are in a huge economic crisis at the moment where 50,000 people are going to lose their jobs so we need more support and more training for the unemployed in this period.

"To see the National party cutting back on these programmes to help people get off the DPB and advance themselves is shocking," he said

Single mother Jane Ferguson, who is studying to get a degree in sociology, said she was at the protest to stand up for beneficiaries.

"As a single parent and a student myself I know how hard it is to try and complete some training. We need all the help we can get, not to be yet again discriminated against by the Government."

She said the cut would mean she would not have money for travel, text books and it would affect her ability to afford childcare.

"It's going to significantly affect my ability to keep studying."

Ms Ferguson said she would keep studying regardless, but it would be "incredibly difficult."

The summons, stuck on to Ms Bennett's door, called for her to attend a hearing of "the people's court" to defend her actions in cutting the TIA and revealing the personal information of the two beneficiaries.

The hearing is set for next Saturday, at her office.