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Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

Entering the NZ Flag Debate

March 17, 2014 12 comments
maori flag

Maori flag should form the basis for any replacement NZ flag

Why all the fuss about adopting a ‘new’ flag for New Zealand when there’s already a perfectly acceptable existing flag that serves as a good alternative to the present Union Flag/Southern Cross mash-up?

The Maori flag is there NZ, use it. Don’t fix what ain’t broken with Key’s referendum , just add the S’ Cross and bob’s your uncle.

Or is the Maori culture and heritage of New Zealand something that is trotted out just for World Cup rugby fixtures…

haka

The Maori haka is good enough to represent NZ, but not their flag?

and State visits, and then conveniently forgotten about when the world isn’t looking?

Good enough for official visits but not for the flag?

Good enough for official visits but not for the flag?

Time for some real commitment, NZ…Silver Fern <cough>. Really? Don’t you think that’s just a tad ‘white’?

Go to Bali – “Avoid High Prices and Hobbits in New Zealand”

January 14, 2014 4 comments

Bali, Hobbit free zone

Bali, guaranteed 100% free from Hobbits.

“If you’re looking for a holiday that won’t break the bank this year, then plan an Eat, Pray, Love escape to Bali, but avoid high prices and Hobbits in New Zealand…”That was the advice of the UK’s Daily Mail based on the latest holiday money report from the Post Office.

Looks like Hobbit fatigue and cashing-in on a captive market has finally caught up with the land where fantasy has officially become reality (ed. maybe that should be fantasy prices have become reality?)

If you’re looking for a holiday that won’t break the bank this year, then plan an Eat, Pray, Love escape to Bali, but avoid high prices and Hobbits in New Zealand.

The latest holiday money report from the Post Office reveals that the Indonesian island is the best destination when it comes to value for money, with Portugal’s Algarve taking second place, to be crowned the cheapest holiday spot in Europe…

The PO’s report showed that Auckland, New Zealand was the most expensive holiday destination.

The ‘basket’ of holiday items costs as little as £31.48 in Bali, but soars to a budget-busting £115.06 in Auckland, New Zealand – the most expensive destination surveyed.

After Bali, the Portuguese Algarve (£35 for the items) and Prague in the Czech Republic (£37) were the cheapest locations followed by Gambia (£38), Bulgaria (£38) and Spain’s Costa del Sol (£39)...” more here

ranking

The top 10 most expensive destinations for 2014 (Daily Mail table)

Given the high prices that New Zealand is charging it is somewhat surprising that it aligns itself so closely with the budget tourism markets the Hobbit films attract. Even to the point of painting its state-owned airliners to look like Tolkien characters.

Looks like people are paying champagne prices for alcohol-free beer?

Ironically, a few months ago tourism minister and PM John Key had the audacity to complain that New Zealand was getting poor, low quality tourists

Maybe if he stopped primping the country to  Hollywood movie companies he’d get them.

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Ungrateful New Zealand complains about poor, low quality tourists

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“Immigrants that come to live here usually buy online from home. The Government needs to penalise these people.”

Auckland Expensive, Cost Of Living Explodes, Poverty Increasing.

An American’s Take On “Rip-Off New Zealand”

NZ…..Land of the Big Ripoff

Rip Off New Zealand: Buy Your All Blacks Jersey Overseas, It’s Cheaper

NZ Poverty Not A Lifestyle Choice, Poor Families Can’t Even Afford Basics

100% Pure Rip Off

Ungrateful New Zealand Complains About Poor, Low Quality Tourists

November 28, 2013 9 comments
New Zealand wants richer tourists

New Zealand needs richer tourists

Within hours of being named Favourite Country at the UK Telegraph readers’ Travel Awards, New Zealand has the audacity to complain that its not getting the right sort of tourists and the ones they do get are being cheapskates.

Although visitor numbers were up last year their spend went down.

John Key, Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, says he wants richer tourists and wants them to spend more (!).

Reading between the lines it looks like New Zealand is attracting more of the budget backpacker and student market, and less of the high rollers with fat wallets.

From the NZ Herald:

New Zealand needs tourists who spend more money, rather than just more people through the airport gates, Prime Minister John Key says.

A new report on the industry shows despite more visitors coming to New Zealand, they’re staying for fewer days and spending less money. That’s partly because a large proportion of the growth in visitor numbers had been an increase in low-spending Australians.

Mr Key said the Government intended to spend half a billion dollars in the next four years on tourism promotion, including an additional $158 million announced in this year’s Budget.

Spending would be focused on key areas, including new markets and high net-worth individuals.
“Essentially see if we can lift the number of people coming and the quality of tourist that comes to New Zealand,” Mr Key said.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is make sure we don’t just get more people coming through the airport and coming to New Zealand for a couple of days …the reality is we want them to come here, spend money, and have a quality experience…”

Mr Key would do well to remember its those low spending, low quality tourists that win New Zealand those first-place-tourism-destination accolades.

Or do they? Surely those votes aren’t purchased (or engineered through social media getting Kiwis abroad to vote) just to improve the country’s profile abroad? Now, that would be ridiculous.

Conde Nast

Conde Nast (a travel company that caters for the more upmarket tourist) has a very different list. It places New Zealand 7th – behind Australia, Spain and the USA. Italy tops its favourite country list for a second year in a row.

We think this goes to show how subjective these awards are, we advise people to use common sense when appraising them.

Conde Nast’s 2013 Travel Awards list may be found here: http://www.cntraveller.com/awards/readers-travel-awards/readers-travel-awards-2013/best-holiday-destinations

You may also like

China names New Zealand world’s best luxury destination,  shame about NZ’s rampant xenophobia

“Immigrants that come to live here usually buy online from home. The Government needs to penalise these people.”

Auckland Expensive, Cost Of Living Explodes, Poverty Increasing.

An American’s Take On “Rip-Off New Zealand”

NZ…..Land of the Big Ripoff

Rip Off New Zealand: Buy Your All Blacks Jersey Overseas, It’s Cheaper

NZ Poverty Not A Lifestyle Choice, Poor Families Can’t Even Afford Basics

100% Pure Rip Off

Gang colours still a problem for NZ’s kids, green is the new red

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment
rainbow kids

Thinking about NZ? make sure your kid is the right colour

Kudos to the government initiative that will ban gang insignia from all state premises.

This means the gang patch ban will extend to all schools and will take some of the stress off staff who fear reprisals. It also removes the pressure from impressionable kids, it begins to marginalise gang membership in a country where it has become the norm.

The announcement was discussed in this article in stuff.co.nz.

Note how some schools already chose house colours with great care so as to prevent gang affiliations from being glamorised any more than they already are.

Naenae College principal John Russell said gang members associated with the school already had enough respect to keep their patches and colours at bay.

Bandanas, house colours and uniforms associated with red and blue were stripped from the school years ago, he said.

“Frankly we’re careful about how we choose colours for houses and uniforms.

“They’re purple, yellow, green and orange for a reason.”

more here

Over the years there have been violent retributions against kids who wore the ‘wrong’ colour off their home turf – usually red, blue or black. Then there was the dog walker who was threatened for having the wrong colour (red) lead.

From an editorial in the Taranaki Daily News:

The colour of stupidity

Some weeks ago, further north, a young boy was assaulted. The reason for his punishment? He was wearing the wrong coloured shirt, its red deemed offensive to gang members who live, die, rape and steal for the blue

Even places like New Plymouth, it would seem, are not immune from gang violence

It seemed like the kind of disgusting and stupid crime that would occur elsewhere, and certainly not on New Plymouth’s largely gang-free streets. But even here, people are being intimidated and killed simply because they choose to wear the wrong colour.

A man innocently walking his dog is lambasted and accosted by a drunk Black Power associate because the animal’s leash is red, the colour of rival gang the Mongrel Mob. That follows the killing of Peri Niwa, who was not a gang member but had the misfortune to work for a team of scaffolders run by an out-of-town Mongrel Mob member.” read the rest here

New Zealand is a rainbow nation for all of the wrong reasons.

Study reveals startling new data on wellbeing – or the lack of it – in NZ

July 15, 2013 3 comments

New Zealand, isolated in more ways than one.

On the day that the NZ Government launched a fresh campaign to rob beneficiaries of their basic human rights (further evidence of the runaway poverty gap the country suffers from) Sovereign life insurance has issued a press release showing that New Zealand fares badly in international standards of wellbeing.

In comparison to 22 European countries using the same set of measurements, New Zealand consistently ranked near the bottom in personal and social wellbeing – far behind the Scandinavian countries in the lead.

Among the most surprising results were New Zealanders’ disconnectedness from their communities (this sent them to the bottom of the table) and nearly two thirds of young people showing signs of depressed mood. Last year Sovereign announced it was to sponsor Youthline, which provides a 24-hour helpline that fields more than 15,000 contacts a month from young people needing support for issues from bullying to loneliness. It subsequently provided much of a $100,000 contribution to the organisation in May.

You can Read the full report here. We predict it will be some time before it makes it into the mainstream media. Let us know if you see it reported on.

According to Sovereign’s website

The index includes questions from the Personal and Social Wellbeing module of the European Social Survey (ESS). The ESS has already been used in more than 25 countries. Comparing the results of the Sovereign Wellbeing Index and the ESS will show how New Zealand is doing compared to other countries.

One of the key features of the Sovereign Wellbeing Index is that it will track changes in wellbeing over time. Benchmark measurements will be taken during September 2012, 2014 and 2016. More than 10,000 New Zealand adults (aged 18 and over), representing New Zealand’s diverse population, have been invited to take part in the research.

Here’s the press release.

 Study reveals startling new data on wellbeing in NZ
Monday, 15 July 2013,  8:54 am  Press Release: Sovereign

Results released of inaugural Sovereign Wellbeing Index

Study reveals startling new data on wellbeing – and the lack of it – in New Zealand

“Older, female and financially stable New Zealanders have the highest wellbeing in New Zealand, a groundbreaking new social index has revealed.

And although the inaugural Sovereign Wellbeing Index shows that the wellbeing of New Zealanders is startlingly low compared with other countries, it confirms that five free and simple habits can boost our individual wellbeing.

The index was developed by AUT University’s Human Potential Centre in partnership with Sovereign as an alternative to measuring a country’s success through economic indicators such as GDP.

It’s the first national representation of how New Zealanders are faring on a personal and social level, and was created with the vision of helping to frame personal choices and public policy and action in New Zealand. Nearly 10,000 New Zealand adults were surveyed for the index.

 “Our success as a nation and individually is not just about having money in the bank,” says study leader Grant Schofield, professor of public health at AUT University.

“A good GDP is great, but it’s a means to an end. That end result is wellbeing. The challenge is to enable a society where people lead purposeful and meaningful lives.”

Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston says the company chose to support New Zealand’s first wellbeing index because it wanted to better understand the challenges and opportunities the country faces in the area of health and wellbeing.

“We’re proud to be part of such a significant and worthwhile project, and one with relevance not only to ourselves as a life insurance provider, but to the nation as a whole. The health and wellbeing of New Zealanders has a direct impact on Sovereign as a business and also the communities in which we all live.

“This report challenges the traditional definition of ‘wellbeing’ and will provide new and valuable insight into how we really feel about ourselves and our lives.”

Professor Schofield says wellbeing encompasses more than simply happiness. “It’s a measurement of how well we’re feeling and functioning in our lives – psychologically, physically and socially.”

There was good news for older, female and wealthier New Zealanders – these groups were the most likely to be “flourishing” (having higher levels of wellbeing), with people in their seventies thriving more than any other age group.

The study found that people’s wellbeing tended to increase with income, but it also confirmed that five free actions (Five Winning Ways) contributed to higher wellbeing:

1. socially connecting with others;

2. giving time and resources to others;

3. appreciating and taking notice of our surroundings;

4. learning new things;

5. being physically active.

Those with “Super Wellbeing” – scoring in the top 25 per cent in wellbeing indicators – were also likely to have better general health, be non-smokers and exercisers, and have healthier diets and weights.

One of the most striking – and concerning – results was New Zealand’s low placing in international wellbeing rankings. When compared with surveys of 22 European countries using the same set of measurements, New Zealand consistently ranked near the bottom in personal and social wellbeing – far behind the Scandinavian countries in the lead.

We were fourth from the bottom in the overall wellbeing rankings, ahead of only Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ukraine. Norway, Switzerland and Denmark took the top three rankings respectively.

Our worst comparative result was in connecting within our communities – only a quarter of us felt close to people in our local area, sending us to the very bottom of the table.

“It was a huge surprise to see New Zealand ranking so low,” says Professor Schofield. “I hadn’t expected New Zealand to be the best, but I hadn’t expected we’d do as badly as we did. I think it comes down to our comparative lack of social connectedness and the fact that the gap is growing between the haves and the have-nots. We’re not the even and fair society we once thought we were.

“We need to start having discussions about the New Zealand we want to be, and how we can start to achieve that.”

The index is drawn from an AUT survey last year of 9962 randomly selected New Zealanders aged 18 and older. It will continue to monitor the wellbeing of New Zealanders, and benchmark with the European results, over the next four years.

Every New Zealander now has the chance to see ‘how well they are living’ by taking the wellbeing quiz on www.sovereign.co.nz/mywellbeing

ENDS

Huge rise in child abduction cases

June 10, 2013 3 comments

hands

“Huge rise in child abduction cases” screams the headline in today’s New Zealand Herald, sure to invoke images of children being dragged from the streets by persons unknown. But read the article and you’ll learn that these abductions are mostly parents taking their children out of the country without the consent of the other parent.

The Herald tells its readers the 54% jump in child abduction cases since 2007 is because parents are being refused legal aid to go before the courts and obtain permission to take their offspring out of New Zealand legally. What it doesn’t tell you is that many of those children are migrants to New Zealand – they hold foreign passports or were born outside of the country. Also, the rise in “abductions” corresponds with a rise in the overall numbers of people leaving New Zealand since 2007, brought on by the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes.

What the article also doesn’t tell you is that there are hundreds of parents being held against their will in New Zealand because their partners refuse to give consent for their children to leave. In some cases these children were born into mixed marriages between kiwis and a foreigners, in others both parents are migrants. It is a sad fact of life that New Zealand courts rarely award custody to any parent who wants to remove their child from the country and there is no favour shown towards giving custody to mothers, regardless of how unfit the father may be. With New Zealand’s horrendous record for child abuse what right thinking parent is going to abandon their child and leave without them? Hence, many are forced into staying against their will to protect their children or face the prospect of “abducting” them.

With the knowledge that the courts are likely to favour the parent remaining in New Zealand increasing numbers of desperate parents (mostly mothers) are simply getting on a plane with their kids and never coming back. And who can blame them?

You may remember the story of four year old Emma Maddison, born to a Danish mother and Kiwi father, see http://e2nz.org/tag/emma-maddison/

When Emma was a toddler her parents returned to Denmark so that she could have medical treatment that wasn’t available in New Zealand.

After a period of time the girl’s father returned to New Zealand but the couple’s relationship broke up and the mother decided to stay in Denmark with her daughter. The case highlighted the enormous difficulties parents have with custody of their children after a relationship breaks up and they want to live in different countries. Even though her father alleged she was abducted and taken from the country illegally the Danish Supreme Court declined to return her to her father’s homeland. We are sure this case gave fresh hope to parents looking to find justice outside of New Zealand, it may even have set a precedence under European law for the way the Hague Convention is applied to dual nationality cases.

If you or someone you know is affected by this issue you may wish to participate in our long running discussion Trapped In NZ – Father Won’t Let Child Leave

Japan

Japan is about to ratify the Hague Convention,  but with one important difference to some of the other G7 countries that have already encompassed the convention in their own legislation: the Hague proceeding should not cause children more harm than good.

If it wished to New Zealand could also make this important decision because what we’re hearing from our readers (and from the Emma Maddison story)  is in New Zealand the welfare of the child is subordinate to the rights of the parent who chooses to remain in New Zealand.

According to an article in the Miami Herald

Japan’s legislation is notable for another reason as well. It contains important and unique guidance to its courts concerning how to adjudicate allegations of domestic violence. Japanese judges must consider whether returning the child would risk violence to the child’s other parent and thereby cause serious psychological harm to the child. If it would, the child need not be returned in an expeditious proceeding pursuant to the Hague Convention.

Japan’s attention to domestic violence here is consistent with the Convention. The Convention allows a court to refuse to return a child if the return would cause a “grave risk of psychological or physical harm to the child or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.” Japan’s law ensures that its courts take seriously this “grave risk” defense and how domestic violence impacts children. In Japan, a Hague proceeding should not cause children more harm than good. That is what the Convention drafters had in mind when they provided defenses.

In the coverage of the Emma Maddison case in the NZ press these statements from the father were published

Where are my human rights? It’s not my choice for Emma not to have her father in her life.”

“Two years later the case is still ongoing and Mr Maddison says he would do everything he could for his “wee girl”.

I deserve my daughter and it has taken over my life. My daughter is a victim in this and so am I.”  more here

Fortunately, Emma remains with her mother and is receiving the ongoing care she needs in Denmark. The Danish Supreme Court put her needs first.

OECD’s Better Life Index, New Zealand Not So Good, Continues to Fall – updated

May 28, 2013 9 comments

The annual OECD Better Life Index has just been published. It lists eleven variables to allow individuals to construct their own index based on what’s important to them.

Construct your own index here http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org.

Take all eleven variables in equal measure and what do you get? A list of 36 countries that can be ranked by their total Better Life scores.

New Zealand doesn’t do very well in comparison to its main competitors, some of whom are the source countries for many of its immigrants. It has also dropped two places in this year’s index compared to last year’s, a big drop from 2011’s index where it came 4th.

Britain and Australia come out higher than NZ for environment, jobs, safety. Australia also tops the table for civic engagement and scores higher for education than New Zealand, which is bound to create some controversy within New Zealand’s international student market sector.

Work life balance important to you? Stay put or move to Ireland. New Zealand ranks 24th, lower than the UK, and Ireland comes in at very respectable 8th place.

In these turbulent days perhaps safety is a priority for you. There are safer countries than New Zealand, according to the OECD. Chose from Japan, Canada, Poland, the UK and Australia.

Eight European countries, Canada and Mexico all score more highly for life satisfaction than bi-cultural New Zealand.

Where are the best places for a better life, according to the OECD? (top countries in bold)

1. Australia
2. Sweden
3. Canada
4. Norway
5. Switzerland
6. United States
7. Denmark
8. Netherlands
9. Iceland
10. UK
11. New Zealand

29 May update

The NewZealand Herald got hold of the report the day after this blog post was written and did its best to put a positive spin on it. If you read the report yourself and play around with the calculator you’ll get a feeling for how data is sometimes misrepresented in New Zealand.

The Herald wrote in an article headed Life Good in NZ, Says Global Study

The Better Life Index, released yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), places New Zealand close to the top in each of the 11 categories measured.

You can see for yourself that New Zealand ranked 24th for work life balance and 20th for income, that’s close to the bottom, not the top.

This is how New Zealand ranked for each category. It was in the top quartile for just four of them.

Housing 11th
Income 20th
Jobs 13th
Community 12th
Education 11th
Environment 9th
Community engagement 4th
Health 1st
Life satisfaction 11th
Safety 6th
Work life balance 24th

30 May update

Following the OECD report, anti-Australian sentiment has been stepped up a notch in New Zealand. “Turning back from Oz dream” appears in the top corner of today’s front page of the New Zealand Herald.  Not once did the article mention New Zealand’s overall position in the OECD’s rankings, nor that the country continues its decline in the last two annual rankings, whilst the country it competes with has remained at the top.

Australia has topped the Better Life Index for the last three years, but instead the Herald tells its readers success in Australia isn’t a certainty and there is no access to social security benefits for most New Zealanders, adding.

An OECD study which looked at the quality of life in 36 countries ranked Australia generally better in most categories including housing, income, community, education and civic engagement. New Zealand scored better than Australia in work-life balance, safety (sic) and life satisfaction, and equalled (sic) Australia in environment  and health…”

What’s the truth of that? Here’s the scores for both countries, make up your own mind. Click to enlarge.

comparison_edited

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